April 14

April 14

April 14, 1881.--Frightful night; the fourteenth running, in which I have been consumed by sleeplessness....

April 14, 1863

A letter from John Van, with one in it from George Wilson and one from T. Templeton of the 150th. They are feeling fine and the regiment has little or no sickness to report.

Weather fine, no wind or clouds and but little mud; had our regimental monthly inspection at 10 a. m.; have written to Major Fostor, Chief of Bureau for the Organization of U. S. C. T. in regard to appearing before the Casey board for examination; no letter from home to-night; several callers this evening.

April Fourteenth

The fact is, the boys around here want watching, or they'll take something. A few days ago I heard they surrounded two of our best citizens because they were named Fort and Sumter. Most of them are so hot that they fairly siz when you pour water on them, and that's the way they make up their military companies here now—when a man applies to join the volunteers they sprinkle him, and if he sizzes they take him, and if he don't they don't!

Major Charles H. Smith
(Bill Arp )

 

 

April 14, 1864

Thursday. The stranded boats began coming down this morning, and were greeted with cheers from the soldiers and whistles from the steamers. Several were riddled with bullets, and quite a number of dead men were taken off and buried. The wounded were taken on board the hospital boats. The Black Hawk, as usual, came in for a full share, getting the worst shooting up of any. This is the third time she has got it on this expedition. The land forces brought 300 prisoners with them. We are still watching proceedings, being too light handed to do anything more. No recruits are here, and they won't dare come in as long as the enemy holds the ground all around us.

Wednesday, April 14th.—Very quiet day; it always is after exciting rumours which come to nothing! But it has been noisier than usual in the daytime. I rested in my off-time and didn't go out.

The Victoria League sent some awfully nice lavender bags to-day, and some tins of Keating's, which will be of future use, I expect. Just now, one is mercifully and strangely free from the Minor Scourges of War.

The German trenches captured at Neuve Chapelle, and now occupied by us, are full of legs and arms, which emerge when you dig. Some are still caught on the barbed wire and can't be taken away.

We are not being at all clever with our rations just now, and manage to have indescribably nasty and uneatable meals! But we shall get it better in time, by taking a little more trouble over it.

We had scrambled eggs to-night, which I made standing on a chair, because the gas-ring is so high, and Sister holding up a very small dim oil-lamp. But they were a great success. And then we had soup with fried potatoes in it! and tea.

La Madeleine April 14, 1881

... Your welcome and consoling handwriting quickly followed by the appearance of Wolverton fresh from home, brought me all I was wishing for almost as soon as my letter was gone. Thank you so much for knowing so well what one is thinking of.

We rather expect Argyll to take refuge here too during these holidays.

The Pall Mall  is worth anything for its concentrated essence of opinion. Much of this is stupid. But the accusation begun by Argyll—that the measure abandons the old lines on which the Liberal party won its battles, introduces new principles not tested yet by the experience of nations, and begins, in short, a new departure—is one that will be urged with great force and some truth, and it will not do to disguise the magnitude of the change. The suspicion that the P.M. was changing on the two greatest of all political questions comes true after all; and I wonder which of the twenty-two texts was in the ascendant when I thought myself convicted of false prophecy!

I don't feel to know how much German Herbert reads, for I don't rely on what he picked up at Tegernsee. But I want to draw his attention, if it avails, to one literary matter.

Within the last ten or twelve years there has been a wonderful change in political economy in the direction of which Laveleye, Ingram, Cliffe Leslie are popular exponents, and which Sherbrooke and Bonamy Price anathematise. The essential point is the history and analysis of property in land. It is important that our people should be exactly acquainted with these views and results before the debate comes on. Two volumes contain all that it is necessary to read:—Roscher, National oekonomik des Ackerbaus, and Wagner's Grundlegung der Volkswirthschaft.

He that has read these two books knows a good deal about the lines on which Society is moving that he cannot well discover elsewhere.

*****

You will not agree with me in rejoicing that Cairns[124 ] has done himself so much credit at the same moment when Salisbury has injured himself seriously by his offer of Tunisian hush money. All this is a misfortune for the Italians, as they cannot have a reasonable Ministry with the present Parliament, and the circle is closing round them. Perhaps it will teach them to dismiss ambition.

Punch's Irish landlord spoils a very old Italian story. The poet Mortola, out of envy, shot at another poet and missed him. He had to get relieved of his excommunication by the Pope, and his confession was: "E vero, Santo Padre, ho fallito."[125 ] ...

[124 ] The first Lord Cairns.

[125 ] "It is true, Holy Father, I have failed.

April 14

April 14, 1866.--Panic, confusion, sauve qui peut on the Bourse at Paris. In our epoch of individualism, and of "each man for himself and God for all," the movements of the public funds are all that now represent to us the beat of the common heart. The solidarity of interests which they imply counterbalances the separateness of modern affections, and the obligatory sympathy they impose upon us recalls to one a little the patriotism which bore the forced taxes of old days. We feel ourselves bound up with and compromised in all the world's affairs, and we must interest ourselves whether we will or no in the terrible machine whose wheels may crush us at any moment. Credit produces a restless society, trembling perpetually for the security of its artificial basis. Sometimes society may forget for awhile that it is dancing upon a volcano, but the least rumor of war recalls the fact to it inexorably. Card-houses are easily ruined.

All this anxiety is intolerable to those humble little investors who, having no wish to be rich, ask only to be able to go about their work in peace. But no; tyrant that it is, the world cries to us, "Peace, peace--there is no peace: whether you will or no you shall suffer and tremble with me!" To accept humanity, as one does nature, and to resign one's self to the will of an individual, as one does to destiny, is not easy. We bow to the government of God, but we turn against the despot. No man likes to share in the shipwreck of a vessel in which he has been embarked by violence, and which has been steered contrary to his wish and his opinion. And yet such is perpetually the case in life. We all of us pay for the faults of the few.

Human solidarity is a fact more evident and more certain than personal responsibility, and even than individual liberty. Our dependence has it over our independence; for we are only independent in will and desire, while we are dependent upon our health, upon nature and society; in short, upon everything in us and without us. Our liberty is confined to one single point. We may protest against all these oppressive and fatal powers; we may say, Crush me--you will never win my consent! We may, by an exercise of will, throw ourselves into opposition to necessity, and refuse it homage and obedience. In that consists our moral liberty. But except for that, we belong, body and goods, to the world. We are its playthings, as the dust is the plaything of the wind, or the dead leaf of the floods. God at least respects our dignity, but the world rolls us contemptuously along in its merciless waves, in order to make it plain that we are its thing and its chattel.

All theories of the nullity of the individual, all pantheistic and materialist conceptions, are now but so much forcing of an open door, so much slaying of the slain. As soon as we cease to glorify this imperceptible point of conscience, and to uphold the value of it, the individual becomes naturally a mere atom in the human mass, which is but an atom in the planetary mass, which is a mere nothing in the universe. The individual is then but a nothing of the third power, with a capacity for measuring its nothingness! Thought leads to resignation. Self-doubt leads to passivity, and passivity to servitude. From this a voluntary submission is the only escape, that is to say, a state of dependence religiously accepted, a vindication of ourselves as free beings, bowed before duty only. Duty thus becomes our principle of action, our source of energy, the guarantee of our partial independence of the world, the condition of our dignity, the sign of our nobility. The world can neither make me will nor make me will my duty; here I am my own and only master, and treat with it as sovereign with sovereign. It holds my body in its clutches; but my soul escapes and braves it. My thought and my love, my faith and my hope, are beyond its reach. My true being, the essence of my nature, myself, remain inviolate and inaccessible to the world's attacks. In this respect we are greater than the universe, which has mass and not will; we become once more independent even in relation to the human mass, which also can destroy nothing more than our happiness, just as the mass of the universe can destroy nothing more than our body. Submission, then, is not defeat; on the contrary, it is strength.

95. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 14 April, 1776.

I have missed my good friend Colonel Warren from Watertown in the conveyance of my letters. You make no mention of more than one. Write me how many you have had and what the dates were.

I wrote you, upon the 17th of March. Particulars it was not then possible to obtain; and after that, I thought every pen would be employed in writing to you a much more accurate account than I could give you.

The fleet lay in the road almost a fortnight after the town was evacuated. In that time Major Tupper came with a body of men to Germantown, and procured two lighters, and fitted them with every sort of combustible matter, hand grenades, etc., in order to set fire to the fleet. But the very day he was ready, they sailed. And it was said that they had intelligence from Boston of the design. However, he carried the lighters up to town for the next fleet that appears.

Fort Hill is a-fortifying, I suppose, in the best manner. Committees have been appointed to survey the islands, etc., but we are scanty of men. It is said we have not more than two thousand effective men left, and the General thought it necessary to take the heavy cannon with him. We have many pieces spiked up, which they are employed in clearing. About a hundred pieces, I have heard, were left at the castle with their trunnels broken, or spiked. The castle, you have no doubt heard, was burnt by the troops before they sailed, and an attempt was made to blow up the walls, in which, however, they did not succeed any further than to shatter them. There are so many things necessary to be done, that I suppose business moves slowly. At present we all seem to be so happy and so tranquil, that I sometimes think we want another fleet to give some energy and spirit to our motions. But there has been so great an overturn that people seem to be hardly recovered from their amazement. Many buildings in town sustained great damages, more particularly at the south end. The furniture of many houses was carried off or broken in pieces. Dr. Gardiner left all his furniture and medicine, valued, it is said, at four hundred sterling. Dr. L. is still in town; Dr. Whitworth too. Both ought to be transported. Mr. Goldthwait is in town. All the records of which he had the care safe, though it seems part of them were carried into Boston. All the papers relating to the Probate Courts are missing. Mr. Lovell, and all the prisoners taken at the Charlestown battle, are carried off. The bells are all in town; never were taken down. The officers and Tories have lived a life of dissipation. Inclosed is a prologue of Burgoyne's, with a parody written in Boston, soon after it was acted. Burgoyne is a better poet than soldier.

As to goods of any kind, we cannot tell what quantity there is. Only two or three shops open. Goods at most extravagant prices. All the better to promote manufactures. There is talk of raising another regiment. If they should, I fear we shall suffer in our husbandry. Labor is very high. I cannot hire a man for six months under twenty pounds lawful money. The works upon the Neck are leveling. We keep guards upon the shores yet. Manly has taken a vessel-load of Tories. Among them is Black, the Scotchman, and Brazen-head Jackson, Hill, the baker, etc. What can be done with them? I think they ought to be transported to England. I would advertise for Tory transports.

Hanover has made large quantities of saltpetre. This week we are to hold court here, but I do not imagine anything will be done. I have a letter from you the 29th of March. It is said there is one from Mr. Gerry the 3d of April, acquainting us with your opening trade. Who is the writer of "Common Sense"? of "Cato"? of "Cassandra"? I wish you would, according to promise, write me an account of Lord Stirling. We know nothing about him here.

All the Tories look crest-fallen. Several deserters from on board the commodore's ship say that it is very sickly on board. We have only that and two or three cutters besides. We fear that a brig, laden with seventy tons of powder, which sailed from Newburyport, has fallen into the enemy's hands upon her return.

I rejoice in the Southern victories. The oration was a very elegant performance, but not without much art,—a few strokes which to me injure it.

94. John Adams

14 April, 1776.

You justly complain of my short letters, but the critical state of things and the multiplicity of avocations must plead my excuse. You ask where the fleet is? The inclosed papers will inform you. You ask what sort of defense Virginia can make? I believe they will make an able defense. Their militia and minute-men have been some time employed in training themselves, and they have nine battalions of regulars, as they call them, maintained among them, under good officers, at the Continental expense. They have set up a number of manufactories of firearms, which are busily employed. They are tolerably supplied with powder, and are successful and assiduous in making saltpetre. Their neighboring sister, or rather daughter colony of North Carolina, which is a warlike colony, and has several battalions at the Continental expense, as well as a pretty good militia, are ready to assist them, and they are in very good spirits and seem determined to make a brave resistance. The gentry are very rich, and the common people very poor. This inequality of property gives an aristocratical turn to all their proceedings, and occasions a strong aversion in their patricians to "Common Sense."[135] But the spirit of these Barons is coming down, and it must submit. It is very true, as you observe, they have been duped by Dunmore. But this is a common case. All the colonies are duped, more or less, at one time and another. A more egregious bubble was never blown up than the story of Commissioners coming to treat with the Congress, yet it has gained credit like a charm, not only with, but against the clearest evidence. I never shall forget the delusion which seized our best and most sagacious friends, the dear inhabitants of Boston, the winter before last. Credulity and the want of foresight are imperfections in the human character, that no politician can sufficiently guard against.

You give me some pleasure by your account of a certain house in Queen Street. I had burned it long ago in imagination. It rises now to my view like a phœnix. What shall I say of the Solicitor General?[136] I pity his pretty children. I pity his father and his sisters. I wish I could be clear that it is no moral evil to pity him and his lady. Upon repentance, they will certainly have a large share in the compassions of many. But let us take warning, and give it to our children. Whenever vanity and gayety, a love of pomp and dress, furniture, equipage, buildings, great company, expensive diversions, and elegant entertainments get the better of the principles and judgments of men or women, there is no knowing where they will stop, nor into what evils, natural, moral, or political, they will lead us.

Your description of your own gaieté de cœur  charms me. Thanks be to God, you have just cause to rejoice, and may the bright prospect be obscured by no cloud. As to declarations of independency, be patient. Read our privateering laws and our commercial laws. What signifies a word?

As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our struggle has loosened the bonds of government everywhere; that children and apprentices were disobedient; that schools and colleges were grown turbulent; that Indians slighted their guardians, and negroes grew insolent to their masters. But your letter was the first intimation that another tribe, more numerous and powerful than all the rest, were grown discontented. This is rather too coarse a compliment, but you are so saucy, I won't blot it out. Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory. We dare not exert our power in its full latitude. We are obliged to go fair and softly, and, in practice, you know we are the subjects. We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight; I am sure every good politician would plot, as long as he would against despotism, empire, monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or ochlocracy. A fine story, indeed! I begin to think the ministry as deep as they are wicked. After stirring up Tories, land-jobbers, trimmers, bigots, Canadians, Indians, negroes, Hanoverians, Hessians, Russians, Irish Roman Catholics, Scotch renegadoes, at last they have stimulated the —— to demand new privileges and threaten to rebel.

Footnotes:

[135]Paine's pamphlet.

[136]Samuel Quincy.