John Hay's distinguished national service began when he was Lincoln's private secretary and continued until up to his death as Secretary of State for two presidents. For a public man under scrutiny (including numerous biographies and Henry Adam's insightful portrait in ""The Education of Henry Adams"") little is known about Hay and his anonymous commentaries, reviews and critiques written during the Civil War. Dr. Hill's new monograph remedies that situation. As ""An Idler"" demonstrates, Hay was involved in a broad range of literary activities; as the War continued Hay's interest in social and aesthetic themes became predominant. Professor Hill discusses Hay's own battles with depression and how he believed his condition to be similar to Samuel Johnson's in the 18th century as well as to his chief, Abraham Lincoln. Hay's eloquent depiction of Washington in wartime, his critiques of jobbing and profiteering as well as his hopes for a new American cultural and social revival are all discussed in these pages. Excerpts of Hay's writings as well as a discussion of his publishers (""Washington Chronicle"", ""Washington National Republican"", etc) are included along with a scholarly discussion of the effect of Hay's writings on the larger public and on the closed circle of Lafayette Square(the Five of Hearts) and the White House.