April 2

April 2, 1863

Company B chipped in for a metallic coffin and Holmes will go home. A hearse from the city has just been here and taken him away. He was one of the best of fellows, and very popular with the men. I wonder now if Kniffin will be tried on us again. There is some reason for it now, but it should go to Riley Burdick, who is next in line.

April Second

At the critical moment A. P. Hill was always strongest. No wonder that both Lee and Jackson, when in the delirium of their last moments on earth, stood again to battle, and saw the fiery form of A. P. Hill leading his columns on.

Henry Kyd Douglas

 

A. P. Hill killed in front of Petersburg, 1865

Albert Pike dies, 1891

 

 

Arrived in camp about dark last night and found the regiment in a mud hole without quarters fit to live in. How white men could be content to erect such winter quarters is beyond comprehension. Even the Johnnies do better. These quarters are the worst ever seen, besides being dirty. All are indignant and aggrieved at such ill treatment. It has rained or snowed hard all day to add to our discomfort; received a letter from C. B. Wilson and answered it; am disgusted about not being ordered before the Casey board for examination; fear I waited too long before making my application; probably have all the officers they want.

April 2

April 2, 1852.--What a lovely walk! Sky clear, sun rising, all the tints bright, all the outlines sharp, save for the soft and misty infinite of the lake. A pinch of white frost, powdered the fields, lending a metallic relief to the hedges of green box, and to the whole landscape, still without leaves, an air of health and vigor, of youth and freshness. "Bathe, O disciple, thy thirsty soul in the dew of the dawn!" says Faust, to us, and he is right. The morning air breathes a new and laughing energy into veins and marrow. If every day is a repetition of life, every dawn gives signs as it were a new contract with existence. At dawn everything is fresh, light, simple, as it is for children. At dawn spiritual truth, like the atmosphere, is more transparent, and our organs, like the young leaves, drink in the light more eagerly, breathe in more ether, and less of things earthly. If night and the starry sky speak to the meditative soul of God, of eternity and the infinite, the dawn is the time for projects, for resolutions, for the birth of action. While the silence and the "sad serenity of the azure vault," incline the soul to self-recollection, the vigor and gayety of nature spread into the heart and make it eager for life and living. Spring is upon us. Primroses and violets have already hailed her coming. Rash blooms are showing on the peach trees; the swollen buds of the pear trees and the lilacs point to the blossoming that is to be; the honeysuckles are already green.

April 2

April 2, 1866. (Mornex ).--The snow is melting and a damp fog is spread over everything. The asphalt gallery which runs along the salon is a sheet of quivering water starred incessantly by the hurrying drops falling from the sky. It seems as if one could touch the horizon with one's hand, and the miles of country which were yesterday visible are all hidden under a thick gray curtain.

This imprisonment transports me to Shetland, to Spitzbergen, to Norway, to the Ossianic countries of mist, where man, thrown back upon himself, feels his heart beat more quickly and his thought expand more freely--so long, at least, as he is not frozen and congealed by cold. Fog has certainly a poetry of its own--a grace, a dreamy charm. It does for the daylight what a lamp does for us at night; it turns the mind toward meditation; it throws the soul back on itself. The sun, as it were, sheds us abroad in nature, scatters and disperses us; mist draws us together and concentrates us--it is cordial, homely, charged with feeling. The poetry of the sun has something of the epic in it; that of fog and mist is elegaic and religious. Pantheism is the child of light; mist engenders faith in near protectors. When the great world is shut off from us, the house becomes itself a small universe. Shrouded in perpetual mist, men love each other better; for the only reality then is the family, and, within the family, the heart; and the greatest thoughts come from the heart--so says the moralist.

April 2, 1864

Saturday. About noon General Smith and staff went on board the Clarabelle and at 2 p. m. we started up the creek. A copy of the code of signals that are to govern us was sent to each vessel. The river is so narrow we must go Indian file, and are to keep 400 yards from each other. One long whistle while tied up means "Get under way." One long whistle while under way means "Tie up." Three short whistles, "Close order." Four short whistles, "Open order." Five short whistles, "I wish to communicate." One gun from the flagship, "The enemy is in sight." Two short whistles and a long one, "I want assistance." Three short whistles and a long one, "The enemy has a battery." Four short whistles and a long one, "The troops will land." One gun and a long whistle, "All right." We got under way and everything went well until dark when, in rounding a short turn in the pesky little rivulet, another boat bumped into ours and stove a hole in below the water line. The Jennie was pointed for shore and by the time she struck there, there was such a panic among the Vicksburg heroes as I don't believe eastern men ever thought of. At any rate none of our party so much as thought of joining in. They rushed for the side and began jumping from the upper and lower deck at the same time, landing on each other and some of them in the water, and then began quarreling and fighting over the hurts they had got. The rush to one side tipped the hole out of water, and as soon as the men could be got on the boat again it was held in that position until the damage was repaired. The whole thing was amusing from our point of view, and after a good laugh over it we went to bed.

April 2

April 2, 1864.--To-day April has been displaying her showery caprices. We have had floods of sunshine followed by deluges of rain, alternate tears and smiles from the petulant sky, gusts of wind and storms. The weather is like a spoiled child whose wishes and expression change twenty times in an hour. It is a blessing for the plants, and means an influx of life through all the veins of the spring. The circle of mountains which bounds the valley is covered with white from top to toe, but two hours of sunshine would melt the snow away. The snow itself is but a new caprice, a simple stage decoration ready to disappear at the signal of the scene-shifter.

How sensible I am to the restless change which rules the world. To appear, and to vanish--there is the biography of all individuals, whatever may be the length of the cycle of existence which they describe, and the drama of the universe is nothing more. All life is the shadow of a smoke-wreath, a gesture in the empty air, a hieroglyph traced for an instant in the sand, and effaced a moment afterward by a breath of wind, an air-bubble expanding and vanishing on the surface of the great river of being--an appearance, a vanity, a nothing. But this nothing is, however, the symbol of the universal being, and this passing bubble is the epitome of the history of the world.

The man who has, however imperceptibly, helped in the work of the universe, has lived; the man who has been conscious, in however small a degree, of the cosmical movement, has lived also. The plain man serves the world by his action and as a wheel in the machine; the thinker serves it by his intellect, and as a light upon its path. The man of meditative soul, who raises and comforts and sustains his traveling companions, mortal and fugitive like himself, plays a nobler part still, for he unites the other two utilities. Action, thought, speech, are the three modes of human life. The artisan, the savant, and the orator, are all three God's workmen. To do, to discover, to teach--these three things are all labor, all good, all necessary. Will-o'-the-wisps that we are, we may yet leave a trace behind us; meteors that we are, we may yet prolong our perishable being in the memory of men, or at least in the contexture of after events. Everything disappears, but nothing is lost, and the civilization or city of man is but an immense spiritual pyramid, built up out of the work of all that has ever lived under the forms of moral being, just as our calcareous mountains are made of the debris of myriads of nameless creatures who have lived under the forms of microscopic animal life.

166. Abigail Adams

2 April, 1777.

I sit down to write, though I feel very languid. The approach of spring unstrings my nerves, and the south winds have the same effect upon me which Brydone says the sirocco winds have upon the inhabitants of Sicily. It gives the vapors—blows away all their gayety and spirits, and gives a degree of lassitude both to the body and mind which renders them absolutely incapable of performing their usual functions.

He adds that "it is not surprising that it should produce these effects upon a phlegmatic English constitution; but that he had just had an instance that all the mercury of France must sink under the weight of this horrid leaden atmosphere. A smart Parisian Marquis came to Naples about ten days ago. He was so full of animal spirits that the people thought him mad. He never remained a moment in the same place, but at their grave conversations used to skip from room to room with such amazing elasticity that the Italians swore he had got springs in his shoes. I met him this morning walking with the step of a philosopher, a smelling bottle in his hand and all his vivacity extinguished. I asked what was the matter. 'Ah, mon ami,' said he, 'je m'ennuie á la mort—-moi, qui n'ai jamais sçu l'ennui. Mais cet exécrable vent m'accable; et deux jours de plus, et je me pend.'"

I think the author of "Common Sense" somewhere says that no persons make use of quotations but those who are destitute of ideas of their own. Though this may not at all times be true, yet I am willing to acknowledge it at present.

Yours of the 9th of March received by the post. 'T is said here that Howe is meditating another visit to Philadelphia. If so, I would advise him to taking down all the doors, that the panels may not suffer for the future.

'T is said here that General Washington has but eight thousand troops with him. Can it be true? That we have but twelve hundred at Ticonderoga? I know not who has the care of raising them here, but this I know, we are very dilatory about it. All the troops which were stationed upon Nantasket and at Boston are dismissed this week, so that we are now very fit to receive an enemy. I have heard some talk of routing the enemy at Newport; but if anything was designed against them, believe me 't is wholly laid aside. Nobody seems to consider them as dangerous, or indeed to care anything about them. Where is General Gates? We hear nothing of him.

The Church doors were shut up last Sunday in consequence of a presentiment; a farewell sermon preached and much weeping and wailing; persecuted, be sure, but not for righteousness' sake. The conscientious parson had taken an oath upon the Holy Evangelists to pray for his most gracious Majesty as his sovereign lord, and having no father confessor to absolve him, he could not omit it without breaking his oath.

Who is to have the command at Ticonderoga? Where is General Lee? How is he treated? Is there a scarcity of grain in Philadelphia? How is flour sold there by the hundred?

We are just beginning farming business. I wish most sincerely you were here to amuse yourself with it and to unbend your mind from the cares of State. I hope your associates are more to your mind than they have been in times past. Suppose you will be joined this month by two from this State. Adieu.

Yours.

Cannes April 2, 1881

It was a short dream, but a pleasant one, not to be quite forgotten until Tegernsee fairly looms on us. Herbert's speech seems to me to deserve all the praise it brought him. That evening I met Henriquez, who spoke at Harrow during his canvass, and who says that as a speaker, apart from political experience and knowledge, he has nothing to learn. At the beginning the Skobeleff argument struck me as wanting a more elaborate introduction, but my doubt was soon dispelled. Please tell him, with my hearty congratulations, that the Roman empire perished for want of a good Land Bill. That criticism[114 ] which Palgrave has disinterred makes me think of the judge who was not tied to a stake, and of Roger Collard's answer when asked whether he had called Guizot an austere intriguer: "I never said austere." It  is rather a gift of inventing picturesque, and often grotesque epithets and nicknames, than general power of expression. The sentences are seldom good, and not comparable to those of the faithful Ruskin. But the man who called Stanley a body-snatcher deserves a monument in Westminster Abbey.

You must have snubbed —— at Lady Reay's. Or did he think you laughed at him? That, you know, is a possible error. There is no doubt that the opinion others have of us is one of the very many sources of subtle error in our judgments which have grown into such a prodigious catalogue since Bacon feebly began to enumerate them. People who study them, and stand on their guard against this particular temptation, fall easily by identifying themselves with their principles. It is almost an axiom in controversy that to attack one's adversary personally is to confess disbelief in one's cause, where doctrine and not conduct is in question. And I do see men who are personally attacked, conclude that their adversary is dishonest and knows that he is in the wrong. On the other hand, there is an institution in London founded on the belief that private acquaintance and good-fellowship softens the asperity of public conflicts. You know about Grillion's, where men dine without quarrelling, and where, by a pleasant fiction, no bore is supposed to live. There the effect is what your father says. People make opponents like them, and soften to their opponents, in consequence.

I write under the shadow of Disraeli's illness. Our last accounts are very threatening; and I, who think that the worst part of the man was his cause, and who liked him better than the mass of his party, look with dismay on the narrowness and the passion of those who will succeed him. He, at least, if he had no principles or scruples, had no prejudices or superstitions or fanaticism. You have heard it said of —— that he would have been a good fellow, if he had not been a drunkard, a liar, and a thief. With a few allowances ... a good deal may be said for the Tory leader who made England a Democracy. One must make so much allowance for so many public men besides Midhat.[115 ]

The Pope[116 ] probably had no clear view about policy. If he had, he would hardly be Pope. But he sees that the old spells have lost their power over men, and so he gives them up. It does not yet appear whether he knows that the power is gone for ever; but visibly, for the time, he is trying new arts, and endeavours to restore, by conciliation and management, what Pius ruined by authority. The attempt to disengage himself from the crash of the Legitimists is the most remarkable instance of the change. He explains that the Church must not be so committed to any political party as to stand or fall with it. But that has been, since 1849, the entirely unvarying policy of Rome, and has forced all the enemies of absolute power to turn their forces against Catholicism. If once the two things are separated, there will be a great change in the position of things in Europe. If the Pope does not maintain Legitimacy he gives up the temporal power. He has no legal or political claim to Rome that Chambord has not to France, for arguments derived from Canon Law are without validity in politics. By weakening his one resource, he shows that he thinks the game is up. And then there is no insuperable obstacle to reconciliation with the Powers. Solicitude for temporal sovereignty has been the cause of all the faults and disasters of our Church since the murder of Rossi.[117 ] To surrender it implies such a conversion that I shall not believe in it till I see clearer signs; for his chief confidant is the Archbishop of Capua, an old friend of mine, who is what Newman would be without his genius, his eloquence, and his instruction.

I don't know where to stop. Capua is a bad stopping place.

[114 ] On Carlyle.

[115 ] Midhat Pacha was the head of the reforming party in Turkey at that time.

[116 ] Leo XIII.

[117 ] November 15, 1848. After the murder of Count Rossi, his Liberal Minister of the Interior, Pius IX. left Rome, and fled to Gaeta, from which he only returned under the protection of French bayonets.

Cuttack, April 2, 1845

The Government of India orders me to go from Cuttack to Midnapore and back again four times a-year, to Balasore and back twice a-year, and to Pooree and back four times a-year. The distance from Cuttack to Midnapore is one hundred and eighty miles, from Cuttack to Balasore one hundred and three miles, and from Cuttack to Pooree forty-nine miles. I travel about forty-seven miles a-day on the average. The Government allows me twelve annas and two pice per mile for travelling expenses; it costs me four annas and two pice—an anna being one-sixteenth part of a rupee, and a pice one-fourth part of an anna.

SPORTING.

I must now mention some of my adventures in the jungle. One day we went with a native Rajah to hunt antelopes. Suppose the shore of the Chelka Lake on one side and the sea on the other, with a strip of sand between them rather more than a mile wide. The antelopes live entirely on the sandy plain, and feed on the scanty plants which grow among the sand. Across this flat a net about seven feet in height and a mile long was staked, and 100 men were stationed along it as guards. About 500 men were then sent out with a similar net about a mile and a half in length, which they stretched at perhaps five miles from the other. These 500 men then walked slowly towards the first net, carrying the other in front of them, and driving lots of antelopes before them. When they came within a mile of the first net they staked the second, and there were perhaps fifty or sixty antelopes enclosed in a space of about a mile square. Mr. G., the Rajah, and myself, went inside with our guns. It was barbarous sport. In two days we killed fifteen, which our servants ate most gladly. But the interesting thing was to see twenty or thirty bound, one after the other, over the net and the men's heads, giving tremendous leaps; the black men striking at them with their swords and spears, and cowering to avoid their sharp-cutting hoofs, and all hallooing andjabbering, and swearing; whilst every now and then the crack of one of our guns would be heard, and the whizz of the bullet as it passed near.

Another day we expected some danger. When we arrived at the ground, which consisted of thick patches of jungle, with open spaces between, we got out of our tonjons and took our guns. There we found a number of men looking for traces of deer, wild boars, tigers, or any other animals. As soon as they found the track of one they followed it until it led into the jungle, and exactly at that spot they pushed in amongst the bushes an enormous bag made of net of thick rope. Its mouth was kept open by a few twigs, whilst a running rope went round the entrance and was fastened to a stake on one side. If then any animal should make a rush along this track, he must go head foremost into the net: the twigs would fall down, the neck would be drawn tight, and the poor creature would be a prisoner. All these preparations were at length concluded, and the Rajah then advised us to mount the elephants, as he said two tigers had been seen in these jungles the day before. We at once asked him whether his elephants had been trained to stand the charge of a tiger, which always springs at its head. He said he did not know; and we agreed that we would rather stand the advance of a tiger on foot ourselves than be on the back of a mad elephant scampering at random through the jungle. So we built up an artificial hedge in front of us, and crouched down with our guns pointed through some loopholes we had left in our fence.

This arrangement was hardly completed before we began to hear the sounds of the drums and the trumpets, and the yells of the people, as nearly a thousand of them marched through the jungle towards us, driving before them every sort of game. I should tell you that we kept our elephants close at hand in case of the worst. You cannot imagine the excitement in such watching as this. Two or three miles off the most fearful yells from 1000 men, close around you utter silence; your eyes roaming in every direction, not knowing at what point a deer or a tiger may break out.

Ha! listen! there's a crack among the branches, and out rushes a noble stag. Bang goes G.'s gun. We had agreed that he should have the first shot. He's down! "Hush! here's something else in this patch of jungle." "Where?" he whispers, as he loads. "There, I see it now: look out; here it comes!" And sure enough out rushed seven pigs, followed almost immediately by three others. Now a wild boar is a most awkward animal to fight on foot, and we had agreed we should not fire at them. However, they rushed right towards us. What's to be done? "Get on the elephant," says G. "No time," said I; "follow me:" and we both fairly turned tail, pursued by a herd of pigs until we came to a bush, or rather a patch of bushes, round which we could make a short turn to escape them, and then back to our own station, laughing as hard as we could. But really a wild boar is no laughing matter as he rushes along tearing up the earth. If he charges, as he almost invariably does, with one movement of his head he could cut both legs to the bone, dividing the arteries, and probably killing the man.

Presently a young stag rushed into one of the bags with such force as to break both his horns close off. There we found him when we examined the nets. We were sitting watching for what should come next, when G., raising his finger, whispered to me, "What's that down there in the plain? That's a deer: no, it can't be: do you see how it slouches along? Depend upon it it's not a deer." "Well, at any rate it's coming this way; we shall soon get a look at it." Another pause of half a minute and the beast was concealed in a little patch of jungle a few hundred yards from us. I now had time to examine it. "I'll tell you what, G.; that brute's a regular tiger." "Well, so I thought, but I hardly liked to say so: what shall we do if he comes this way?" "I say keep close where we are." "But suppose he should make a spring over the hedge in front of us?" "Lie flat down, and let him go over us: yet I think I could hardly resist having a shot while he was in the air." "Oh! pray don't fire; what in the world could we two do on foot against a wounded tiger?" However, our fears were needless: as the beaters advanced, the animal slunk away into a more distant piece of jungle, and we saw no more of him. Two of our people were rather hurt to-day—one by a deer leaping over him, and cutting his head with his hoof; a rupee, however, made him quite happy again: the other was a man who, as a large stag rushed past, made a spring at its horns, thinking to pull it down, whereby he got a severe fall and prevented us from firing.

Good Friday, April 2nd.—We got into Boulogne on Wednesday from Sotteville at 5 p.m., and as soon as the train pulled up a new Sister turned up "to replace Sister ——," so I prepared for the worst and fully expected to be sent to Havre or Êtretat or Rouen, and began to tackle my six and a half months' accumulation of belongings. In the middle of this Miss —— from the Matron-in-Chief arrived with my Movement Orders "to proceed forthwith to report to the O.C. of No.— Field Ambulance for duty," so hell became heaven, and here I am at railhead waiting for a motor ambulance to take me and my baggage to No.— F.A. wherever it is to be found.

The Railway Transport Officer at Boulogne let me come up as far as St Omer (or rather the next waiting place beyond), on No.— A.T., and get sent on by the R.T.O. there. We waited there all yesterday, lovely sunny day, and in the evening the R.T.O. sent me on in a supply train which was going to the railhead for No.— F.A. The officer in charge of it was very kind, and turned out of his carriage for me into his servant's, and apologised for not having cleared out every scrap of his belongings. The Mess of No.— saw me off, with many farewell jokes and witticisms.

This supply train brings up one day's rations to the 1st Corps from Havre, and takes a week to do it there and back. This happens daily for one corps alone, so you can imagine the work of the A.S.C. at Havre. At railhead he is no longer responsible for his stuff when the lorries arrive and take up their positions end on with the trucks. They unload and check it, and it is done in four hours. That part of it is now going on.

When we got to railhead at 10.15 p.m. the R.T.O. said it was too late to communicate with the Field Ambulance, and so I slept peacefully in the officer's bunk with my own rugs and cushion. We had tea about 9 p.m. I had had dinner on No.—.

This morning the first thing I saw was No.— A.T. slumbering in the sun on the opposite line, so I might just as well have come up in her, except that there was another Sister in my bed.

After a sketchy wash in the supply train, and a cup of early tea from the officer's servant, I packed up and went across to No.— for breakfast; many jeers at my having got the sack so soon.

The R.T.O. has just been along to say that Major —— of No.— Clearing Hospital here will send me along in one of his motor ambulances.

11 a.m.—Had an interesting drive here in the M.A. through a village packed with men billeted in barns and empty houses—the usual aeroplane buzzing overhead, and a large motor ambulance convoy by the wayside.

We are in the town itself, and the building is labelled No.— F.A. Dressing Station for Officers. The men are in a French Civil Hospital run very well by French nuns, and it has been decided to keep the French and English nurses quite separate, so the only difference between the two hospitals is that the one for the men has French Sisters, with R.A.M.C. orderlies and M.O.'s, and the other for officers has English Sisters, with R.A.M.C. orderlies and M.O.'s. There are forty-seven beds here (all officers). One Army Sister in charge, myself next, and two staff nurses—one on night duty. There are two floors; I shall have charge of the top floor.

We are billeted out, but I believe mess in the hospital.

All this belongs to the French Red Cross, and is lent to us.

The surgical outfit is much more primitive even than on the train, as F.A.'s may carry so little. The operating theatre is at the other hospital.

As far as I can see at present we don't have the worst cases here, except in a rush like Neuve Chapelle.

It will be funny to sleep in a comfortable French bed in an ordinary bedroom again. It will be rather like Le Mans over again, with a billet to live in, and officers to look after, but I shall miss the Jocks and the others.

Later.—Generals and "Red Hats" simply bristle around. A collection of them has just been in visiting the sick officers. We had a big Good Friday service at 11, and there is another at 6 p.m. The Bishop of London is coming round to-day.

Still Good Friday, 10 p.m.—Who said Active Service? I am writing this in a wonderful mahogany bed, with a red satin quilt, in a panelled room, with the sort of furniture drawing-rooms have on the stage, and electric light, and medallions and bronzes, and oil-paintings and old engravings, and blue china and mirrors all about. It is a huge house like a Château, on the Place, where Generals and officers are usually billeted. The fat and smiling caretaker says she's had two hundred since the war. She insisted on pouring eau-de-Cologne into my hot bath. It is really a lovely house, with polished floors and huge tapestry pictures up the staircase. And all this well within range of the German guns. After last night, in the A.S.C officer's kind but musty little chilly second-class carriage, it is somewhat of a change. And I hadn't had my clothes off for three days and two nights. This billet is only for one night; to-morrow I expect I shall be in some grubby little room near by. It has taken the Town Commandant, the O.C. of No.— F.A., a French interpreter, and an R.H.A. officer and several N.C.O.'s and orderlies, to find me a billet—the town is already packed tight, and they have to continue the search to-morrow.

This afternoon I went all over the big French hospital where our men are. The French nuns were charming, and it was all very nice. The women's ward is full of women and girls blessées  by shells, some with a leg off and fractured—all very cheerful.

One shell the other day killed thirty-one and wounded twenty-seven—all Indians.

I am not to start work till to-morrow, as the wards are very light; nearly all the officers up part of the day, so at 6 p.m. I went to the Bishop of London's mission service in the theatre. A staff officer on the steps told me to go to the left of the front row (where all the red hats and gold hats sit), but I funked that and sat modestly in the last row of officers. There were about a hundred officers there, and a huge solid pack of men; no other woman at all. The Bishop, looking very white and tired but very happy, took the service on the stage, where a Padre was thumping the hymns on the harmonium (which shuts up into a sort of matchbox). It was a voluntary service, and you know the nearer they are to the firing line the more they go to church. It was extraordinarily moving. The Padre read a sort of liturgy for the war taken from the Russians, far finer than any of ours; we had printed papers, and the response was "Lord, have mercy," or "Grant this, O Lord." It came each time like bass clockwork.

Troops are just marching by in the dark. Hundreds passed the hospital this afternoon. I must go to sleep.

The Bishop dashed in to see our sick officers here, and then motored off to dine with the Quartermaster-General. He's had great services with the cavalry and every other brigade.

Easter Eve, 10 p.m.—Have been on duty all day till 5 p.m. They are nearly all "evacuated" in a few days, so you are always getting a fresh lot in.

Another Army Sister turned up to-day in a motor from Poperinghe to take the place of the two who were originally here, who have now gone.

At six this morning big guns were doing their Morning Hate very close to us, but they have been quiet all day. Two days ago the village two and a half miles south-east of us was shelled.

I found my own new billet this morning before going on duty; it is in a very old little house over a shop in a street off the big Place. It is a sort of attic, and I am not dead sure whether it is clean on top and lively underneath, but time will show. The shop lady and her daughter Maria Thérèse are full of zeal and kindness to make me comfortable, but they stayed two hours watching me unpack and making themselves agreeable! And when I came in from dinner from the café, where we now have our meals (quite decent), she and papa and M.T. drew up a chair for me to causer  in their parlour, to my horror.

At 8 p.m. the town suddenly goes out like a candle; all lights are put out and the street suddenly empty. After that, at intervals, only motorcyclists buzz through and regiments tramp past going back to billets. They sound more warlike than anything. Such a lot are going by now.

Easter Sunday, 3 p.m.—The service at 7 this morning in the theatre was rather wonderful. Rows of officers and packs of men.

We have been busy in the ward all the morning. I'm off 2-5, and shall soon go out and take E.'s chocolate Easter eggs to the men in the hospice. The officers have any amount of cigarettes, chocs., novels, and newspapers.

A woman came and wept this morning with my billeter over their two sons, who are prisoners, not receiving the parcels of tabac  and pain  and gateaux  that they send. They think we ought to starve the German prisoners to death!

This morning in the ward I suddenly found it full of Gold Hats and Red Tabs; three Generals and their A.D.C.'s visiting the sick officers.

Easter Monday.—It is a pouring wet day, and the mud is Flanderish. Never was there such mud anywhere else. A gunner-major has just been telling me you get a fine view of the German positions from the Cathedral tower here, and can see shells bursting like the pictures in 'The Sphere.' He said his guns had the job of peppering La Bassée the last time they shelled this place, and they gave it such a dusting that this place has been let severely alone since. He thinks they'll have another go at this when we begin to get hold of La Bassée, but the latter is a very strong position. It begins to be "unhealthy" to get into any of the villages about three miles from here, which are all heaps of bricks now.

I'm leaving my billet to-morrow, as they want us to be in one house. And our house is the Maire's Château, the palatial one, so we shall live in the lap of luxury as never before in this country! And have hot baths with eau-de-Cologne every night, or cold every morning. And the woman is going to faire our cuisine there for us, so we shan't have to wait hours in the café for our meals. There is only one waiter at the café, who is a beautiful, composed, wrapt, silent girl of 16, who will soon be dead of overwork. She is not merely pretty, but beautiful, with the manners of a princess!

I shall be glad to get away from my too kind billeters; every night I have to sit and causer  before going to bed, and Ma-billeter watches me in and out of bed, and tells me my nightgown is très pratique, and just like the officers Anglais have. But she calls me with a lovely cup of coffee in the morning. They've been so kind that I dread telling them I've got to go.

An officer was brought in during the night with a compound-fractured arm. He stuck a very painful dressing like a brick to-day, and said to me afterwards, "I've got three kids at home; they'll be awfully bucked over this!" He had said it was "nothing to write home about."

Another, who is chaffing everybody all day long, was awfully impressed because a man in his company—I mean platoon—who had half his leg blown off, said when they came to pick him up, "Never mind me—take so-and-so first"—"just like those chaps you read of in books, you know." It was decided that he meant Sir Philip Sidney.

Yesterday afternoon I had a lovely time taking round chocolate Easter eggs to our wounded in the French hospital. The sweetest, merriest Ma-Sœur  took me round, and insisted on all the orderlies having one too. They adore her, and stand up and salute when she comes into the ward; and we had enough for the jeunes filles  and the grannies in the women's ward of blessées. They were a huge success. Those men get very few treats. She also showed me the Maternity Ward.