Sunday, August 21, 2011

* Old Man Melancholy River

Ledyard Bridge over the Connecticut River at Dartmouth College

Dartmouth student, later Captain,  Oliver Cushman, before and after his facial wound in the Civil War.

Every week for the last 25 years I have driven my car over the Ledyard Bridge as I enter Hanover, New Hampshire and the Dartmouth College campus from Vermont.

Invariably I think of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, as I cross the bridge, because her 18-year-old son drowned in the Connecticut River below while a student at Dartmouth.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Simon Legree whips Uncle Tom  from Uncle Tom's Cabin with Harriet Beecher Stowe pondering below.

Now, after reading  The First Vermont Cavalry in the Civil War: A History by Joseph D. Collea, I not only think of Mrs. Stowe's son, but of a Dartmouth student named Oliver Cushman, who continued fighting in the Civil war as a captain after taking a bullet to the face.  See triptych above. You can read my review of the book at  .

I suppose it is rather melancholy of my mind to  taint a beautiful view like the Connecitcut River and Dartmouth Boat House with such lugubrious images as a drowning and a war wound.   

But life has a melancholy tinge to it and it is appropriate to honor that feeling --- not deny it.

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