December 10

Stayed at the Kirkwood last night; roomed with Captain Briggs of the One Hundred and Sixth N. Y. Infantry, but he was out all night; went to the German Opera at Grover's Theater last evening; about four inches of snow on the ground this morning; sailed with Captain Briggs for City Point at 3 o'clock p. m.; dull, and cold wind down the river.

December 10, 1863

Thursday. Staid in my tent all day and wrote letters. I won't tell how many I wrote or to whom. At any rate there are none that I know of who can accuse me of owing them a letter. At night we went again to recite tactics to Colonel B. He said we knew our lesson, and I suppose we each got a credit mark. After that we went back to our tents and yarned it until bedtime.

December Tenth

Mt. Vernon, 31 Jan. 1786

Sir:—If you have no cause to change your opinion respecting your mechanical boat, and reasons unknown to me do not exist to delay the exhibition of it, I would advise you to give it to the public as soon as it can be prepared conveniently.... Should a mechanical genius hit upon your plan, or something similar to it, I need not add that it would place you in an awkward situation and perhaps disconcert all your prospects concerning this useful discovery....

George Washington
(Letter to James Rumsey )

 

Mississippi admitted to the Union, 1817

 

 

December 10, 1862

Off the coast of Florida. We must be going to New Orleans as has been reported. I did not believe it at first, as there was a report that Charleston was our destination.

Haight died about sunrise, and his death has cast a gloom over Company B. He was one of the best fellows I have met with in the army. He was a little wild at first but later seemed to change. Talked of the trouble his habits had caused his parents and seemed determined to atone for it by a right about-face change. We shall miss his cheery voice. Such is war. It is over thirty-six days since the 128th and two companies of the 114th New York came aboard this vessel. It is a wonder so many are alive to-day. We get on deck now and the nights are so warm some of us sleep there. We suffer for good water to drink. What we have may be good, but it is distilled water, and there are so many of us we use it before it has time to get cold. On the quarter-deck, where we are not allowed to go, are barrels which contain real water, for officers' use only. I was let into a secret last night, how to get some of it, and I drank all I could hold. With a long rubber tube I crawled up behind a barrel and let the end down the bunghole, which is left open for ventilation, and sucked away as long as I could swallow. This will go on until someone is caught at it, and then the game will be up.

256. Abigail Adams

10 December, 1779.

I will not omit any opportunity of writing, though ever so great an uncertainty whether it will reach your hand. My uncle Smith has a vessel bound to Calais. He advises me to write, and I most willingly comply, though my faith in the conveyance is but poor. Indeed, I have lost my faith with my spirits.

My friends assure me from their observations that you must have had a good passage. God grant it, I say, but my fears and anxieties are many, very many. I had a faith and reliance that supported me before, but now my heart so misgives me that I cannot find that confidence which I wish for. Your letter from Cape Ann arrived and cheered my drooping spirits. Could I hear of your safe arrival, I would try to compose my agitated mind, which has horrors both day and night.

My dear sons! Little do they know how many veins of their mother's heart bled when she parted from them. My delicate Charles, how has he endured the fatigue of his voyage? John is a hardy sailor, seasoned before. I do not feel so much for him. Your fellow-travellers, too, I do not forget to think of them. I will not wish myself with you, because you say a lady cannot help being an odiouscreature at sea; and I will not wish myself in any situation that should make me so to you.

Nothing new in the political way but the raising the siege of Savannah [210] and being unfortunate. You will have particulars, no doubt. Our friends are all well. Mr. Laurens is appointed to Holland—has not yet given his answer. Adieu. Ever, ever yours,

Portia.

Footnotes:

[210]By the joint forces of America and France. Stedman's American War, Vol. II. p. 132.

Thursday, December 10th.—Left for Bailleul at 8 a.m. Heard at St Omer of the sinking of the three German cruisers.

Arrived at 2 p.m. Loaded up in the rain, wounded and sick—full load. They were men wounded last night, very muddy and trenchy; said the train was like heaven! It is lovely fun taking the sweets round; they are such an unexpected treat. The sitting-ups make many jokes, and say "they serve round 'arder sweets than this in the firing line—more explosive like."

One showed us a fearsome piece of shell which killed his chum next to him last night. There is a good deal of dysentery about, and acute rheumatism. The Clearing Hospitals are getting rather rushed again, and the men say we shall have a lot coming down in the next few days. A hundred men of one regiment got separated from their supports and came up against some German machine-guns in a wood with tragic results. We are shelling from Ypres, but there is no answering shelling going on just now, though the Taubes are busy.

We are wondering what the next railhead will be, and when. Some charming H.A.C.'s are on the train this time, and a typically plucky lot of Tommies. One of the best of their many best features is their unfailing friendliness with each other. They never let you miss a man out with sweets or anything if he happens to be asleep or absent.

81. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 10 December, 1775.

I received your obliging favor by Mrs. Morgan, with the papers and the other articles you sent, which were very acceptable to me, as they are not to be purchased here. I shall be very choice of them.

I have, according to your desire, been upon a visit to Mrs. Morgan, who keeps at Major Mifflin's. I had received a message from Mrs. Mifflin some time ago, desiring I would visit her. My father, who, you know, is very obliging in this way, accompanied me, and I had the pleasure of drinking coffee with the Doctor and his lady, the Major and his lady, and a Mr. and Mrs. Smith from New York, a daughter of the famous son of liberty, Captain Sears; Generals Gates and Lee; a Dr. M'Henry and a Mr. Elwyn, with many others who were strangers to me. I was very politely entertained, and noticed by the generals; more especially General Lee, who was very urgent with me to tarry in town, and dine with him and the ladies present, at Hobgoblin Hall, but I excused myself. The Generalwas determined that I should not only be acquainted with him, but with his companions too, and therefore placed a chair before me, into which he ordered Mr. Spada to mount and present his paw to me for a better acquaintance. I could not do otherwise than accept it. "That, Madam," says he, "is the dog which Mr. —— has rendered famous."

I was so little while in company with these persons, and the company so mixed, that it was almost impossible to form any judgment of them. The Doctor appeared modest, and his lady affable and agreeable. Major Mifflin, you know, I was always an admirer of, as well as of his delicate lady. I believe Philadelphia must be an unfertile soil, or it would not produce so many unfruitful women. I always conceive of these persons as wanting one addition to their happiness; but in these perilous times, I know not whether it ought to be considered as an infelicity, since they are certainly freed from the anxiety every parent must feel for their rising offspring.

I drank coffee one day with General Sullivan upon Winter Hill. He appears to be a man of sense and spirit. His countenance denotes him of a warm constitution, not to be very suddenly moved, but, when once roused, not very easily lulled,—easy and social,——well calculated for a military station, as he seems to be possessed of those popular qualities necessary to attach men to him.

By the way, I congratulate you upon our late noble acquisition of military stores.[120] It is a most grand mortar, I assure you. Surely Heaven smiles upon us, in many respects, and we have continually to speak of mercies, as well as of judgments. I wish our gratitude may be anywise proportionate to our benefits. I suppose, in Congress, you think of everything relative to trade and commerce, as well as other things; but, as I have been desired to mention to you some things, I shall not omit them. One is, that there may be something done, in a Continental way, with regard to excise upon spirituous liquors, that each of the New England colonies may be upon the same footing; whereas we formerly used to pay an excise, and the other colonies none, or very little, by which means they drew away our trade. An excise is necessary, though it may be objected to by the mercantile interest, as a too frequent use of spirits endangers the well-being of society. Another article is, that some method may be devised to keep among us our gold and silver, which are now every day shipped off to the West Indies for molasses, coffee, and sugar; and this I can say of my own knowledge, that a dollar in silver is now become a great rarity, and our traders will give you a hundred pounds of paper for ninety of silver, or nearly that proportion. If any trade is allowed to the West Indies, would it not be better to carry some commodity of our own produce in exchange? Medicines, cotton-wool, and some other articles, we are in great want of. Formerly we used to purchase cotton-wool at one shilling, lawful money, per bag; now it is three, and the scarcity of that article distresses us, as it was wrought up with less trouble than any other article of clothing. Flax is now from a shilling to one and sixpence per pound, sheep's wool eighteenpence, and linens not to be had at any price. I cannot mention the article in the English goods way which is not double; and in the West India molasses by retail I used formerly to purchase at one and eightpence, now it is two and eightpence; rum, three shillings; coffee, one and threepence, and all other things in proportion. Corn is four shillings per bushel; rye, five; oats, three and eightpence; hay, five and six shillings per hundred; wood, twenty shillings per cord; but meat of all kinds cheap.

My uncle Quincy desires to be remembered to you; he inquired when you talked of coming home. I told him you had not fixed any time. He says, if you don't come soon, he would advise me to procure another husband. He,[121] of all persons, ought not to give me such advice, I told him, unless he set a better example himself.

Be kind enough to burn this letter. It is written in great haste, and a most incorrect scrawl it is. But I cannot conclude without telling you we are all very angry with your House of Assembly for their instructions.[122] They raise prejudices in the minds of people, and serve to create in their minds a terror at a separation from a people wholly unworthy of us. We are a little of the spaniel kind; though so often spurned, still to fawn argues a meanness of spirit, that, as an individual, I disclaim, and would rather endure any hardship than submit to it.

Yours.

Footnotes:

[120]The capture of the brig Nancy, by Captain Manly.

[121]Norton Quincy lost his wife soon after marriage, and remained a widower the rest of his life.

[122]In answer to the applications of New Hampshire for advice as to instituting a government.

Cuttack, December 10

I have been to Midnapore and back again. Whilst I was at Balasore information was brought in that one hundred and fifty or two hundred elephants had come down into the paddy-fields about twelve miles from Balasore, and that they were destroying the crops. Two or three of the Europeans there wanted to make up a party to go and attack them; I should very much like to have gone with them, but could not afford the time; so the proposition fell to the ground.

It is dangerous sport, but very exciting. The elephant is invulnerable except at one point, and that is a small hollow in the middle of the forehead. I said invulnerable, but that is an improper word; I mean, that that little spot is the only point where you can hit him fatally. Fancy an enormous elephant charging at full speed down a narrow path, with dense jungle on either side, and the sportsman standing still till he comes almost close, and then aiming at the forehead. Suppose he misses the one little spot—the elephant seizes him with his trunk, dashes him to the ground, and then kneels upon and crushes him; that is to say, if it is a fierce male elephant. The tusks of a large one are worth fifty pounds.

JUGGERNAT'H FESTIVAL.

The sight of the dead pilgrims by the roadside in this part of India is very dreadful; they go to Juggernat'h by hundreds, or rather by thousands. At the grand festival in June this year, when the car of Juggernat'h is dragged from the temple to his country house, there were present at least eighty thousand pilgrims from all parts of India, who each make large offerings to the idol, and during their stay are not allowed to eat any food but what has been prepared in the temple by the priests. Of course, for this food a most exorbitant price is charged, and at the same time it is of so inferior a quality that numbers died of cholera in consequence of eating it. Many of the pilgrims when they leave Pooree have not a pice left, and literally lie down and die of starvation by the roadside. The instant they are dead they are surrounded by jackals, dogs, and vultures, who quickly peel all the flesh from the bones: it is a horrid sight, but one which is too frequent to create surprise.

To the support of this temple our Christian government pays 6000 l. a-year, whilst at other places it supports one, two, or more priests. Some will scarcely understand all the arguments by which this pernicious support of idolatry is defended. The principal reason given is, that, when we took possession of the country, we found a number of heathen temples, supported out of the produce of certain lands which were appropriated to their service; and that we, having taken possession of those lands, are bound to support the same temples by money derived from our own revenue. When the Roman Catholics conquered a country, their first object was to extirpate idolatry; when the Mohammedans waged war, they did it in order to destroy the idols of the heathens; but we encourage and protect all those wicked and evil superstitions.

Terrible as is the sight of the mutilated bodies of the pilgrims, it is not to me half so shocking as their thanks when they are relieved. As I travel, some poor wretch, who has more the appearance of a skeleton than a human being, comes to the side of the palanquin, and cries in Hindustanee, "Oh, great king, have mercy! I have been to Juggernat'h, and I have no rice. I have not tasted food, O great king, for three days. Oh, great king, give me some cowries to buy some rice!" I give the man a pice or two, and then he exclaims, "May Juggernat'h bless you, O great being! May Juggernat'h make you prosperous!" This invocation of a blessing from an idol sounds most frightful. The horrors of the roadside scene I will not describe—they are too fearful.

The above account reminds me of the exaggerated manner of expression in use among the Eastern nations. I will give another instance of it, premising that it is the usual style of language employed by the natives towards their European masters. At Midnapore, the other day, I wanted to call on the commanding officer; I accordingly got into a tanjore,—that is, the body of a gig, supported on two poles, and carried by men. As they took me up, I told them to go to the Colonel Sahib's; they spoke together for a few minutes, and then one of them said in Hindustanee, "O representative of God, your slaves do not know where the Colonel Sahib lives."

"Well, do you know where the Salt-Agent Sahib lives?"

"Yes, O representative of God."

"Then take me there."

I had turned away a domestic for being impertinent—a case of very rare occurrence amongst the natives. He was my own personal attendant, and an excellent servant, but I would not allow him to be insolent, and therefore discharged him at once. For weeks this man stood at the gate of my compound, ran for miles by the side of my palanquin when I went out in it, and, if he saw me walking, threw himself on the ground at full length before me, extending his hands clasped over his head, and then crept or rather glided on his stomach close to me, kissed my feet, placed them on his head, and, whilst the tears ran from his eyes, exclaimed in Hindustanee, "O great being! O representative of God, have pity on your slave! punish me, whip me, but let me be your slave, O great king!" One day he brought his two little boys with him, and made them also kneel at my feet. He was an old man with a long beard, and he rubbed it in the dust, and cried and sobbed. I looked at his sons, and thought of my own children, and, as I considered he had been sufficiently punished, I told him to get up and I would try him again. He raised himself on his knees, and kissed the hem of my garment.[5] He is now the most useful servant I have. He is a sheikh—Sheikh Ibrahim is his name, and he had served every one of my predecessors, the chaplains at Cuttack.

NUMBER AND NAMES OF SERVANTS.

I do not know the names of all my servants, but I will mention a few. Ibrahim is my sirdar, or valet, and chief man; my bearer is Maqua (which, by the way, is a name in use amongst the Indians in North America); my water-carrier is Rangore; my watchman, or chokedar, Sieboo; my sweeper, Ramoo. These last four are allowed me and paid for by Government: I give them a trifle in addition to their regular pay. The cook, or bowachee, is Callipar; and the table-servant, or khitmutgar, is Pekhoo. We only keep one table-servant; every one else keeps two, and many four or five. My syce, or groom, is Saitor; I do not know the names of the coachman, grass-cutter, tailor, and carpenter, nor of my wife's woman-servant, or ayah, as she is called. I think these are all our domestics, except the dobee, or washerman, but I do not know his name.

I believe every one in Bengal keeps more servants than I do. In the Madras presidency not nearly so many are required, as one there will do the work of three here. I do not know how it is in Bombay. I suppose it is on this account that in the Bengal presidency we receive higher pay than in the other parts of India. I said that I kept fewer than most people, but I certainly think I am better served than those who keep double the number, and I attribute it to this: I never beat my servants; I scold them, but do not strike them: and I believe

that they exert themselves very much in order that they may remain with me on that account, for the cruelty practised by many towards their domestics is most shocking. Yet I firmly believe that I am better served, and, if I may use the expression, really loved, for that very reason.

When a servant is ill it is usual to stop his wages entirely: this I think wrong, and I therefore only stop half, which is another inducement to them to exert themselves in order to remain with me. I will give an instance of the sort of exertion to which I allude. When I packed the last box for England, my carpenter was ill; my cook is a very handy sort of man, so I called him, and desired him to nail up the box; he did it without a moment's hesitation. Almost any other cook would rather have left his situation than have done what he did not consider his work.

Again, I do not know any other person who can get one man to wait on both the sahib and the mem. My khitmutgar not only does this, but also cleans my gun, and sometimes goes out shooting with me; when he is thus engaged the cook supplies his place. These are the advantages of kindness.

It is a common saying that the Hindus have no sense of gratitude, that they have not even a word to express that feeling in their language. I do not believe it, and will give you a case in point. When we are going to travel we pay the money for the bearers into the hands of the postmasters beforehand; he then orders the men to be ready at each stage, and he subsequently sends them their pay. At one stage, as I was going to Midnapore some time ago, the men complained to me that they had not received their money for many months. I questioned them, and, finding their story probable, I promised to speak to the postmaster, and also offered to carry a petition from them to him. This I did; there had been a fault somewhere, but not, I believe, with the postmaster. However, the poor men got their money.

Since that time, whenever I go along the road, as soon as I come to that place a man calls out, "Here is the kind sahib that took our letter for us;" and although the stage is ten miles in length, yet they carry me over it in less time than it takes me to go a six-mile stage elsewhere. My palkee is a heavy one, but they literally run as fast as they can the whole way; and two additional men always go with them without asking for any pay. Is not this something like gratitude?

HONESTY OF NATIVES.

They are said to be extremely dishonest—I mean the natives generally. This also I deny; although their treatment by individuals is enough to make them so; for on the part of Government the error—if any—lies in an excess of mildness and lenity. I would not hesitate, if it were necessary, to intrust a thousand rupees to a servant to take to Calcutta: that is for him a fifteen days' journey. Yet, if he chose, he might easily get beyond my reach; and such a sum would be sufficient to purchase an estate which would render himself and his descendants landed proprietors and gentlemen. I doubt whether you could say more than that for English honesty; although, of course, there may be exceptions here as well as there.

After I left Jelasore the other day, I remembered that I had omitted to lock my patarahs or tin travelling-boxes. There were many valuable things in them, and when I reached the first stage they had not then come up; yet I proceeded day after-day for one hundred and fifty miles without the slightest uneasiness; and these patarahs, which had passed through the hands of sixteen men successively, all of the poorest class and each one alone, arrived at Cuttack in safety one day after myself. I should not have felt so easy had this occurred in England. But enough of this subject for the present.

I was riding out with two friends a few days ago near Balasore, when we saw a cavalcade approaching, consisting of several armed men, some on horseback others on camels. We inquired who they were, and learned that it was the escort of Bheere Singh, who had been on a pilgrimage to Juggernat'h. We joined the Rajah and had a long gossip with him.

The first salutation was a salaam on both sides, that is,—we bowed almost to the necks of our horses, pressing the palms of our right hands against our foreheads. The Rajah, being morepolite, or having better command of his horse, salaamed with both hands. I shall describe the man, because, judging from the present state of his country, it is possible that he may hereafter figure in the history of India. He appeared about forty years of age, strongly built, but not very tall; large black whiskers, and the universal moustache, which however was smaller than usual. There was much fire and animation both in his eyes and gestures; I should say also that his look betrayed a cunning and intriguing spirit. He was evidently unwilling to say much concerning the disturbances which have recently taken place in his country, but was most anxious to hear our opinions. He said he had seen the burra lord (great lord), Ellenborough, as he came through Calcutta; and I wondered whether the real object of his journey might not have been to see and speak with the Governor-General rather than to perform his devotions at Pooree.

But one thing struck me especially, and it is a thing highly to the credit of our Indian Government. Pointing to his retinue, he said, "This I very much admire. In my own country and all the native states (that is, states governed by native rajahs), if I were to go to sleep, I must set my guards round me with their arms in their hands, and I dare not ask a stranger to carry a thing for me lest he should run away with it. But directly I come into the Burra Beebee Company's territories" (the East India Company is called the Burra Beebee, or the great lady, by all the natives), "directly I come into their territories, although they are so vast, so immense, from sea to sea" (and he stretched forth his hands in every direction), "directly I come there, if I am weary, I can go to sleep under any tree by the roadside, and I can tell all my guards to go to sleep also. If I want anything carried, I can say to the stranger 'Carry it,' and I know it is safe. Oh! the Burra Beebee Company is a very good great king."

And most assuredly it is so. Wherever we come we give sound laws, and the people find peace and comparative happiness. Under the native rajahs all is anarchy, bloodshed, and oppression. Would that the whole of India were under our sway, and that our Government would seek, by firm and decisive measures, to introduce the blessings of Christianity amongst the thousands and millions of their heathen subjects! I consider these few words of Bheere Singh to confer far more real honour on our Government than all their victories.

A MEETING.

How little one knows in England of the pleasure of meeting with an acquaintance! The other night, as I was travelling and just dozing in my palanquin, I was roused by a loud voice—"Hulloh, Acland! what, is that you?" I was out of my palkee in an instant, and Mr. C., of Talacore, jumped out of his. What a break in the monotony of the road! and yet there was one great unpleasantness about it, and that was, we were obliged, after a few minutes' gossip, each to return to his own solitary palanquin. He produced some oranges; we sucked one or two, and then separated.

[5]This man continued most faithfully attached till his master's death, and was then inconsolable.