“To be, to do, to suffer”

Yesterday Deacon recalled President Lincoln’s discovery of Grant’s indispensability in the context of the Democrats’ calls for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Larry McMurtry recently evoked Grant and his brilliant memoirs in the New York Review of Books: “The two lives of General Grant.”
Grant corrected the page proofs of his memoirs a week before he died of throat cancer. In his final days he was reduced to writing notes to his physicians, mostly about his medication. McMurtry quotes Grant’s final note:

I do not sleep though I sometimes doze off a little. If I am up I am talked to and in my efforts to answer cause pain. The fact is I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; to suffer. I signify all three.

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