West Point N.Y. Sept. 7th 1851
You will perceive
from the heading of my letter that I have got back and instead of being
the free and independent fellow that I was ten days ago attending picnics,
taking pleasure rides and promenading by moonlight whenever I felt disposed;
I have now to conform to the discipline of the Academy which in comparison
with what I have enjoyed during the last two months is sober reality.
It was with feelings of deep regret that I bid you all good bye perhaps
not to see any of you again for two years, although I felt anxious to
return and finish my course of studies. But there is a sadness in parting
with those whose society we enjoy, even though it be but for a short
time. It seems like severing all these kindred ties which serve to unite
us more closely by placing us in situations where we cannot communicate
to each other our anticipations, joy, and sorrows as they occur, and
we cannot help reflecting upon the changes which may take place during
the time we are compelled to remain separated. And that evening after
I left the Springs as I reflected upon the pleasure which I enjoyed
during my furlough and the interest which you all manifested in trying
to make the time pass off agreeably I could not help feeling a presentiment
that such happiness might not be in store for me again and that I might
never meet you all under the same favorable circumstances. These reflections
tended to cast a gloom over my feelings which harmonized well with my
dark and lonesome ride. But as my spirits are naturally buoyant, before
I reached home, Hope ever cheering and illuminating my pathway had regained
the ascendancy and I was anticipating the time when my course of studies
being completed I could return and find you all unchanged in everything
which appertained to the purer and more exalted portion of our nature.
But to give you some account of my trip. ...I reached New York Saturday
Evening and remained there until Thursday morning. I enjoyed myself
very much visiting the different places which I thought would be interesting.
I spent over a half a day at the Navy Yard visiting some of the men
of war, the Dry Docks, the Lyceum etc. in company with some Naval Officers
with whom I became acquainted. They have the most splendid collection
of shells and minerals at the Lyceum I ever saw in any place, which
have been brought from all parts of the Globe by different Naval Officers.
I also went to the Theatre and Barnum's Museum where a little of everything
can be seen both natural and artificial. I cannot tell you as yet how
I like my studies for this year as I have not got fairly interested.
Give my love to Elizabeth and Lydia. Hoping that I may hear from you
soon. I remain as ever Your Sincere friend James
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