August 16

August Sixteenth

Freighted with fruits, aflush with flowers,—
Oblations to offended powers,—
What fairy-like flotillas gleam
At night on Brahma's sacred stream.
······
Around each consecrated bark
That sailed into the outer dark
What lambent light those lanterns gave!
What opalescent mazes played
Reduplicated on the wave,
While, to and fro, like censers swayed,
They made it luminous to glass
Their fleeting splendors ere they pass!
Theophilus Hunter Hill
(A Ganges Dream )

 

Battle of Camden, S. C., 1780

 

 

August 16

August 16,1875.--Life is but a daily oscillation between revolt and submission, between the instinct of the ego, which is to expand, to take delight in its own tranquil sense of inviolability, if not to triumph in its own sovereignty, and the instinct of the soul, which is to obey the universal order, to accept the will of God.

The cold renunciation of disillusioned reason brings no real peace. Peace is only to be found in reconciliation with destiny, when destiny seems, in the religious sense of the word, good ; that is to say, when man feels himself directly in the presence of God. Then, and then only, does the will acquiesce. Nay more, it only completely acquiesces when it adores. The soul only submits to the hardness of fate by virtue of its discovery of a sublime compensation--the loving kindness of the Almighty. That is to say, it cannot resign itself to lack or famine, it shrinks from the void around it, and the happiness either of hope or faith is essential to it. It may very well vary its objects, but some object it must have. It may renounce its former idols, but it will demand another cult. The soul hungers and thirsts after happiness, and it is in vain that everything deserts it--it will never submit to its abandonment.

August 16

August 16, 1869.--I have been thinking over Schopenhauer. It has struck me and almost terrified me to see how well I represent Schopenhauer's typical man, for whom "happiness is a chimera and suffering a reality," for whom "the negation of will and of desire is the only road to deliverance," and "the individual life is a misfortune from which impersonal contemplation is the only enfranchisement," etc. But the principle that life is an evil and annihilation a good lies at the root of the system, and this axiom I have never dared to enunciate in any general way, although I have admitted it here and there in individual cases. What I still like in the misanthrope of Frankfort, is his antipathy to current prejudice, to European hobbies, to western hypocrisies, to the successes of the day. Schopenhauer is a man of powerful mind, who has put away from him all illusions, who professes Buddhism in the full flow of modern Germany, and absolute detachment of mind In the very midst of the nineteenth-century orgie. His great defects are barrenness of soul, a proud and perfect selfishness, an adoration of genius which is combined with complete indifference to the rest of the world, in spite of all his teaching of resignation and sacrifice. He has no sympathy, no humanity, no love. And here I recognize the unlikeness between us. Pure intelligence and solitary labor might easily lead me to his point of view; but once appeal to the heart, and I feel the contemplative attitude untenable. Pity, goodness, charity, and devotion reclaim their rights, and insist even upon the first place.

Such trifling! I'm tired of it! Must be we are waiting for something—aren't ready. I am glad to lay quiet, but such suspense keeps us from resting. We can't depend on quiet. It's rumored we are to fall back this evening. Quite a game of chess seems to be going on between the armies.[1] It has been very dull since we left Harper's Ferry. We have done nothing but march without mail and time drags; are nearly out of rations.

[1]The reason of General Sheridan's caution was that General Grant had warned him from Petersburg while at Cedar Creek, that General Lee had sent a reinforcement to General Early of General Anderson's Corps of two divisions of infantry under General Fitzhugh Lee, and to be cautious. General Sheridan's army then consisted of the Sixth Corps, two divisions of the Nineteenth Corps, General Crook's Eighth Corps, two divisions of cavalry and the usual amount of artillery. The other division of the Nineteenth Corps and one division of cavalry were en route to join him, which, when they arrived, would give him a force of about 30,000 men, and Early would have about the same number. Thus both sides were similarly situated—waiting for reinforcements—and neither after Sheridan received word from Grant of Early's expected reinforcements, were ready to fight; hence the seemingly at the same time unnecessary game of chess between the two armies which so wore on us and which caused the petulant outbreak in my diary. Had Sheridan known of Early's reinforcements before going to Strasburg, of course he would not have gone. Early, of course, was retreating towards his reinforcements purposely so that when he met them he could then give battle. It was a narrow escape for Sheridan. He sent Wilson's division of cavalry to Front Royal to investigate, where he found Kershaw's division of infantry and Fitzhugh Lee with two brigades of cavalry at the ford, and then left to report to Sheridan.

With the Commander-in-Chief

[August 16, 1879.]

At Simla and Calcutta the Government of India always sleeps with a revolver under its pillow—that revolver is the Commander-in-Chief. There is a tacit understanding that this revolver is not to be let off; indeed, sometimes it is believed that this revolver is not loaded.

[The Commander-in-Chief has a seat in Council; but the Military Member has a voice. This division of property is seen everywhere. The Commander-in-Chief has many offices; in each there is someone other than the Commander-in-Chief who discharges all its duties.

What does the Commander-in-Chief command? Armies? No. In India Commanders-in-Chief command no armies. The Commander-in-Chief only commands respect.]

The Commander-in-Chief is himself an army. His transport, medical attendance, and provisioning are cared for departmentally, and watched over by responsible officers. He is a host in himself; and a corps of observation.

All the world observes him. His slightest movement creates a molecular disturbance in type, and vibrates into newspaper paragraphs.

When Commanders-in-Chief are born the world is unconscious of any change. No one knows when a Commander-in-Chief is born. No joyful father, no pale mother has ever experienced such an event as the birth of a Commander-in-Chief in the family. No Mrs. Gamp has ever leant over the banister and declared to the expectant father below that it was "a fine healthy Commander-in-Chief." Therefore, a Commander-in-Chief is not like a poet. But when a Commander-in-Chief dies, the spirit of a thousand Beethovens sob and wail in the air; dull cannon roar slowly out their heavy grief; silly rifles gibber and chatter demoniacally over his grave; and a cocked hat, emptier than ever, rides with the mockery of despair on his coffin.

On Sunday evening, after tea and catechism, the Supreme Council generally meet for riddles and forfeits in the snug little cloak-room parlour at Peterhoff. "Can an army tailor make a Commander-in-Chief?" was once asked. Eight old heads were scratched and searched, but no answer was found. No sound was heard save the seething whisper of champagne ebbing and flowing in the eight old heads. Outside, the wind moaned through the rhododendron trees; within, the Commander-in-Chief wept peacefully. He felt the awkwardness of the situation. [He thought of Ali Musjid, and he thought of Isandula; he saw himself reflected in the mirror, and he declared that he gave it up.] An aide-de-camp stood at the door hiccupping idly. He was known to have invested all his paper currency in Sackville Street; and he felt in honour bound to say that the riddle was a little hard on the army tailors. So the subject dropped.

A Commander-in-Chief is the most beautiful article of social upholstery in India. He sits in a large chair in the drawing-room. Heads and bodies sway vertically in passing him. He takes the oldest woman in to dinner; he gratifies her with his drowsy cackle. He says "Yes" and "No" to everyone with drowsy civility; everyone is conciliated. His stars dimly twinkle—twinkle; the host and hostess enjoy their light. After dinner he decants claret into his venerable person, and tells an old story; the company smile with innocent joy. He rejoins the ladies and leers kindly on a pretty woman; she forgives herself a month of indiscretions. He touches Lieutenant the Hon. Jupiter Smith on the elbow and inquires after his mother; a noble family is gladdened. He is thus a source of harmless happiness to himself and to those around him.

If a round of ball cartridge has been wasted by a suicide, or a pair of ammunition boots carried off by a deserter, the Commander-in-Chief sometimes visits a great cantonment under a salute of seventeen guns. The military then express their joy in their peculiar fashion, according to their station in life. The cavalry soldier takes out his charger and gallops heedlessly up and down all the roads in the station. The sergeants of all arms fume about as if transacting some important business between the barracks and their officers' quarters. Subalterns hang about the Mess, whacking their legs with small pieces of cane and drinking pegs with mournful indifference. The Colonel sends for everyone who has not the privilege of sending for him, and says nothing to each one, sternly and decisively. The Majors and the officers doing general duty go to the Club and swear before the civilians that they are worked off their legs, complaining fiercely to themselves that the Service is going, &c. &c. The Deputy-Assistant-Quartermaster-General puts on all the gold lace he is allowed to wear, and gallops to the Assistant-Adjutant-General—where he has tiffin. The Major-General-Commanding writes notes to all his friends, and keeps orderlies flying at random in every direction.

The Commander-in-Chief—who had a disturbed night in the train—sleeps peacefully throughout the day, and leaves under another salute in the afternoon. He shakes hands with everyone he can see at the station, and jumps into a long saloon carriage, followed by his staff.

"A deuced active old fellow!" everyone says; and they go home and dine solemnly with one another under circumstances of extraordinary importance.

The effect of the Commander-in-Chief is very remarkable on the poor Indian, whose untutored mind sees a Lord in everything. He calls the Commander-in-Chief "the Jungy Lord," or War-Lord, in contradistinction to the "Mulky-Lord," or Country-Lord, the appellation of the Viceroy. To the poor Indian this War-Lord is an object of profound interest and speculation. He has many aspects that resemble the other and more intelligible Lord. An aide-de-camp rides behind him; hats, or hands, rise electrically as he passes; yet it is felt in secret that he is not pregnant with such thunder-clouds of rupees, and that he cannot make or mar a Raja. To the Raja it is an ever-recurring question whether it is necessary or expedient to salaam to the Jungy Lord and call upon him. He is hedged about with servants who will require to be richly propitiated before any dusky countryman [of theirs, great or small,] gets access to this Lord of theirs. Is it, then, worth while to pass through this fire to the possible Moloch who sits beyond? Will this process of parting with coin—this Valley of the Shadow of Death—lead them to any palpable advantage? Perhaps the War-Lord with his red right hand can add guns to their salute; perhaps he will speak a recommendatory word to his caste-fellow, the Country-Lord? These are precious possibilities.

A Raja whom I am now prospecting for the Foreign Office asked me the other day where Commanders-in-Chief were ripened, seeing that they were always so mellow and blooming. I mentioned a few nursery gardens I knew of in and about Whitehall and Pall Mall. H.H. at once said that he would like to plant his son there, if I would water him with introductions. This is young 'Arry Bobbery, already favourably known on the Indian Turf as an enterprising and successful defaulter.

You will know 'Arry Bobbery, if you meet him, dear Vanity, by the peculiarly gracious way in which he forgives and forgets should you commit the indiscretion of lending him money. You may be sure that he will never allude to the matter again, but will rather wear a piquant do-it-again manner, like our irresistible little friend, Conny B——. I don't believe, however, that Bobbery will ever become a Commander-in-Chief, though his distant cousin, Scindia, is a General, and though they talk of pawning the 'long-shore Governorship of Bombay to Sir Cursinjee Damtheboy.—ALI BABA.

August 16, 1863

Sunday. Whew, what a scorcher this has been! Not a breath of air stirring. The river is as smooth as glass. The reflection from it is almost blinding. Even the water in the river is hot. We have put in the day trying to keep cool. It's too hot to even write about it.