April 7

April 7, 1863

Two steamers due and yet no letters. Been loafing about camp so long I feel as if I was an unprofitable servant. But as there is nothing doing I am about as profitable as the rest.

April Seventh

History tears down statues and monuments to attributes and deeds, unless those attributes have been devoted to some noble end, and those deeds done in a righteous cause.

Col. Charles Marshall

 

 

April 7, 1864

Thursday. There being nothing to hinder, I went to visit the 128th. Found that Charlie Travis had died while we were away. He was one of the best of the lot, and Company B was feeling pretty sober over his sudden taking off. They were going to have chicken for dinner and I had to stay and help out. After that I came home and wrote a letter. The Polar Star came up with 500 prisoners on the way to the front to be exchanged. They were delighted at the prospect of a chance to fight us again. Those we brought down with us, on their way to prison, didn't seem to feel so happy.

April 7

April 7, 1866.--If philosophy is the art of understanding, it is evident that it must begin by saturating itself with facts and realities, and that premature abstraction kills it, just as the abuse of fasting destroys the body at the age of growth. Besides, we only understand that which is already within us. To understand is to possess the thing understood, first by sympathy and then by intelligence. Instead, then, of first dismembering and dissecting the object to be conceived, we should begin by laying hold of it in its ensemble, then in its formation, last of all in its parts. The procedure is the same, whether we study a watch or a plant, a work of art or a character. We must study, respect, and question what we want to know, instead of massacring it. We must assimilate ourselves to things and surrender ourselves to them; we must open our minds with docility to their influence, and steep ourselves in their spirit and their distinctive form, before we offer violence to them by dissecting them.

Muddy under foot, but sunshiny and warm; received a letter from home; all well there; have not been very busy to-day; men working hard building cabins in the new camp four or five hundred yards away; will probably complete it in season to break camp in when the spring campaign opens. It's a handsome camp, every cabin being exactly alike,commodious and is symmetrically laid out, the handsomest I ever saw. But the Tenth Vermont leads the army in such a way and is the pride of general officers from army headquarters down; it is just the same in drill, parade, forced marching, fighting or any place it is put. The men have great esprit de corps, and strive not to be outdone by any other regiment in anything. Were it not that the men's minds are kept occupied, I should doubt the expediency of putting so much work into a new camp so late in the season, but they seem to enjoy it, so it's all right; it keeps them healthy and hard, too; besides, they will be in splendid shape for the campaign close at hand; there's no moon to-night but it's beautiful starlight; bands are serenading at division headquarters. In the stillness of the night the distance softens the splendid music and makes it enchanting. I sit outside alone in deep thought and dream over it. War is such a strange companion!

Wednesday, April 7thIn bed, 10.30 p.m.—It has been a lovely day after last night's and yesterday's heavy rain. We are busy all day admitting and evacuating officers. The lung one had to be got ready in a hurry this morning, and Mr L. took him down specially to the train.

A very nice Brigade-Major came in, in the night, with a shell wound in the shoulder. This morning a great jagged piece was dug out, with only a local anæsthetic, and he stuck it like a brick, humming a tune when it became unbearable and gripping on to my hand.

I was off at 5 p.m., and went to dig out Marie Thérèse from my old billet, to come with me to Beuvry, the village about two and a half miles away that was shelled last week; it is about half-way to the trenches from here. It was a lovely sunsetty evening, and there was a huge stretch of view, but it was not clear enough to make anything out of the German line. She has a tante and a grandmère there, and has a "laisser-passer soigner une tante malade " which she has to show to the sentry at the bridge. I get through without. The tante is not at all malade —she is a cheery old lady who met us on the road. M.T. pointed me out all the shell holes. We met and passed an unending stream of khaki, the men marching back from their four days in the trenches, infant officers and all steadily trudging on with the same coating of mud from head to foot, packs and rifles carried anyhow, and the Trench Look, which can never be described, and which is grim to the last degree. Each lot had a tail of limping stragglers in ones and twos and threes. I talked to some of these, and they said they'd had a very "rough" night last night—pouring rain—water up to their knees, and standing to all night expecting an attack which didn't come off; but some mines had been exploded meant for their trench, but luckily they were ten yards out in their calculations, and they only got smothered instead of blown to bits. And they were sticking all this while we were snoring in our horrible, warm, soft beds only a few miles away. We went on past some of the famous brick stacks through the funny little village full of billets to the church, where le Salut was going on. We passed a dressing station of No.— Field Ambulance. The grandmère had two sergeants billeted with her who seemed pleased to have a friendly chat. Some of the men I said good-night to were so surprised (not knowing our grey coat and hat), I heard them say to each other "English!" Marie Thérèse simply adores the Anglais —they are so gais, such bon courage, they laugh always and sing—and they have "beaucoup de fiancées françaises pour passer le temps !" She told me they had yesterday a boy of eighteen who was always triste, but bien poli, and he knows six languages and comes from the University of London. When he left for the trenches he said, "Je vais à la mort," but he has promised to come and see them on Saturday or Sunday, "s'il n'est pas mort, ou blessé," she said, as an afterthought. Her own young man is à la Guerre, and she is making her trousseau. They do beautiful embroidery on linen.

I was pretty tired when we got back at 8 o'clock, as it was a good five-mile walk, part of the way on fiendish cobble-stones, and we are on our feet all day at the Dressing Station. But I am very fit, and all the better for the excellent fresh food we have here. No more tins of anything, thank goodness!

April 7

April 7, 1851.--Read a part of Ruge's [Footnote: Arnold Ruge, born in 1803, died at Brighton in 1880, principal editor of the Hallische, afterward the Deutsche Jahrbücher (1838-43), in which Strauss, Bruno Bauer, and Louis Feuerbach wrote. He was a member of the parliament of Frankfort.] volume "Die Academie " (1848) where the humanism of the neo-Hegelians in politics, religion, and literature is represented by correspondents or articles (Kuno Fischer, Kollach, etc). They recall the philosophist party of the last century, able to dissolve anything by reason and reasoning, but unable to construct anything; for construction rests upon feeling, instinct, and will. One finds them mistaking philosophic consciousness for realizing power, the redemption of the intelligence for the redemption of the heart, that is to say, the part for the whole. These papers make me understand the radical difference between morals and intellectualism. The writers of them wish to supplant religion by philosophy. Man is the principle of their religion, and intellect is the climax of man. Their religion, then, is the religion of intellect. There you have the two worlds: Christianity brings and preaches salvation by the conversion of the will, humanism by the emancipation of the mind. One attacks the heart, the other the brain. Both wish to enable man to reach his ideal. But the ideal differs, if not by its content, at least by the disposition of its content, by the predominance and sovereignty given to this for that inner power. For one, the mind is the organ of the soul; for the other, the soul is an inferior state of the mind; the one wishes to enlighten by making better, the other to make better by enlightening. It is the difference between Socrates and Jesus.

The cardinal question is that of sin. The question of immanence or of dualism is secondary. The trinity, the life to come, paradise and hell, may cease to be dogmas, and spiritual realities, the form and the letter may vanish away, the question of humanity remains: What is it which saves? How can man be led to be truly man? Is the ultimate root of his being responsibility, yes or no? And is doing or knowing the right, acting or thinking, his ultimate end? If science does not produce love it is insufficient. Now all that science gives is the amor intellectualis of Spinoza, light without warmth, a resignation which is contemplative and grandiose, but inhuman, because it is scarcely transmissible and remains a privilege, one of the rarest of all. Moral love places the center of the individual in the center of being. It has at least salvation in principle, the germ of eternal life. To love is virtually to know; to know is not virtually to love ; there you have the relation of these two modes of man. The redemption wrought by science or by intellectual love is then inferior to the redemption wrought by will or by moral love. The first may free a man from himself, it may enfranchise him from egotism. The second drives the ego out of itself, makes it active and fruitful. The one is critical, purifying, negative; the other is vivifying, fertilizing, positive. Science, however spiritual and substantial it may be in itself, is still formal relatively to love. Moral force is then the vital point. And this force is only produced by moral force. Like alone acts upon like. Therefore do not amend by reasoning, but by example; approach feeling by feeling; do not hope to excite love except by love. Be what you wish others to become. Let yourself and not your words preach for you.

Philosophy, then, to return to the subject, can never replace religion; revolutionaries are not apostles, although the apostles may have been revolutionaries. To save from the outside to the inside--and by the outside I understand also the intelligence relatively to the will--is an error and danger. The negative part of the humanist's work is good; it will strip Christianity of an outer shell, which has become superfluous; but Ruge and Feuerbach cannot save humanity. She must have her saints and her heroes to complete the work of her philosophers. Science is the power of man, and love his strength; man becomes man only by the intelligence, but he is man only by the heart. Knowledge, love, power--there is the complete life.

92. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 7 April, 1776.

I have received two letters from you this week. One of the 17th and the other the 19th of March. I believe I have received all your letters except one you mention writing from Framingham, which I never heard of before. I have received all the papers you have sent, the oration, and the magazines. In the small papers. I sometimes find pieces begun and continued (for instance, Johnston's speech), but am so unlucky as not to get the papers in order, and miss of seeing the whole.

The removal of the army seems to have stopped the current of news. I want to know to what part of America they are now wandering. It is reported and credited that Manly has taken a schooner belonging to the fleet, richly laden with money, plate, and English goods, with a number of Tories. The particulars I have not yet learned. Yesterday the remains of our worthy General Warren were dug up upon Bunker's Hill, and carried into town, and on Monday are to be interred with all the honors of war.

10 April.

The Dr. was buried on Monday; the Masons walking in procession from the State House, with the military in uniforms, and a large concourse of people attending. He was carried into the Chapel, and there a funeral dirge was played, an excellent prayer by Dr. Cooper, and an oration by Mr. Morton, which I hope will be printed. I think the subject must have inspired him. A young fellow could not have wished a finer opportunity to display his talents. The amiable and heroic virtues of the deceased, recent in the minds of the audience; the noble cause to which he fell a martyr; their own sufferings and unparalleled injuries, all fresh in their minds, must have given weight and energy to whatever could be delivered upon the occasion. The dead body, like that of Cæsar, before their eyes, whilst each wound,—

"Like dumb mouths, did ope their ruby lips,To beg the voice and utterance of a tongue.Woe to the hands that shed this costly blood!A curse shall light" upon their line.

11 April.

I take my pen and write just as I can get time; my letters will be a strange mixture. I really am "cumbered about many things," and scarcely know which way to turn myself. I miss my partner, and find myself unequal to the cares which fall upon me. I find it necessary to be the directress of our husbandry. I hope in time to have the reputation of being as a good a farmeress  as my partner has of being a good statesman. To ask you anything about your return would, I suppose, be asking a question which you cannot answer.

Retirement, rural quiet domestic pleasures, all, all must give place to the weighty cares of state. It would be—

"Meanly poor in solitude to hide An honest zeal, unwarped by party rage."
"Though certain pains attend the cares of state,A good man owes his country to be great,Should act abroad the high distinguished part,And show, at least, the purpose of his heart."

I hope your Prussian General [132] will answer the high character which is given of him. But we, who have been bred in a land of liberty, scarcely know how to give credit to so unjust and arbitrary a mandate of a despot. To cast off a faithful servant, only for being the unhappy bearer of ill news, degrades the man and dishonors the prince. The Congress, by employing him, have shown a liberality of sentiment not confined to colonies or continents, but, to use the words of "Common Sense," have "carried their friendship on a larger scale, by claiming brotherhood with every European Christian, and may justly triumph in the generosity of the sentiment."

Yesterday, was taken and carried into Cohasset, by three whaleboats, which went from the shore on purpose, a snow from the Grenadas, laden with three hundred and fifty-four puncheons of West India rum, forty-three barrels of sugar, twelve thousand and five hundred-weight of coffee; a valuable prize. A number of Eastern sloops have brought wood into town since the fleet sailed. We have a rumor of Admiral Hopkins being engaged with a number of ships and tenders off Rhode Island, and are anxious to know the event.

Be so good as to send me a list of the vessels which sail with Hopkins, their names, weight of metal, and number of men; all the news you know, etc.

I hear our jurors refuse to serve, because the writs are issued in the King's name. Surely they are for independence.

Write me how you do this winter. I want to say many things I must omit. It is not fit "to wake the soul by tender strokes of art," or to ruminate upon happiness we might enjoy, lest absence become intolerable. Adieu.

Yours.

I wish you would burn all my letters.

Footnotes:

[132]Baron de Woedtke, appointed by Congress a Brigadier-general and ordered to Canada. He died soon afterwards at Lake George.