General Grant

By Matthew Arnold; John Y. Simon | Go to book overview

Introduction

"I THINK I shall do General Grant's Memoirs," wrote Matthew Arnold when asked by his nephew to contribute an article to a magazine which he edited. "The Americans will like it. The book has hardly been noticed in England, and Grant is shown by this book to be one of the most solid men they have had. I prefer him to Lincoln. Except Franklin, I hardly know anyone so selbst-ständig, so broad and strong-sighted, as well as firm-charactered, that they have had." 1.

Most Americans knew the story of Grant's struggle to write his memoirs. The ex-President and his sons had been swindled, were in debt and without resources, when Grant first attempted to earn money by writing. Even before beginning his memoirs, however, he felt the pain in his throat later diagnosed as a fatal cancer. Unable to speak or eat without frightful pain, Grant raced with death to complete the book which would bring money to support his family. Grant stayed alive by sheer will until he had completed his task.

The first volume of the Memoirs was published soon after the national mourning of Grant's death. Mark Twain, who controlled the Charles L. Webster Company, employed an army of agents to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Even in homes where books were rarely seen, Grant's Memoirs stood proudly as a tribute to an American hero.

Matthew Arnold's article dealt with a book respected by Americans whether or not they had read it. Arnold's

____________________
1.
Arnold to Mrs. Forster, Oct. 21, 1886, George W. E. Russell, ed., Letters of Matthew Arnold (London, 1904), III, pp. 299-300.

-3-

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General Grant
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • General Grant *
  • Contents *
  • Preface to the Second Edition vii
  • General Grant by Matthew Arnold *
  • Introduction 3
  • General Grant by Matthew Arnold 11
  • Part I 11
  • Part II 32
  • A Rejoinder by Mark Twain 55
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