The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Mrs. Schurz, September 4th, 1867


St. Louis, Sept. 4, 1867.[1]

I enjoy my journalistic work[2] in every respect but one: I find that I scatter my best ideas in innumerable articles, without being able to work them out as a complete whole. If I should try to do so the articles would be too long for use in a newspaper. Consequently the thoughts I have and wish to express can produce no satisfactory effect—they are like a thousand scattered raindrops falling singly. The advantage formerly of my speeches and lectures was that I could work them out at my leisure, giving great care to the minutest detail and to the polishing of every phrase. The result was a harmonious tableau designed to make a deep and lasting impression. I can no longer devote myself to such work, I have neither the leisure, the quiet nor the concentration. In journalism one is obliged to pay attention to hundreds of things which are trifles in themselves, but these trifles take all the time in which one is capable of concentrated work and when the day's task is done one is exhausted and in need of rest. That is the reason I have not been able to write any of the things I was planning to do this summer, although my mind is full of ideas that are waiting to be expressed. It is a pity—is it not? that I am not rich and able to work as I should like. I should accomplish much more. But it can't be helped, and, after all, the thought that a comfortable old age can be secured for us all is gratifying and worth some sacrifices, all the more if it can be gained by my own efforts.

  1. Translated from the German.
  2. On the St. Louis Westlische Post, of which he had recently become one of the editors and owners.