December 13

December Thirteenth

On part of the field the Union dead lay three deep. So fearful was the slaughter that our men at certain points on the line cried out to the advancing Federal forces, “Go back; we don't want to kill you all!” Still they pressed forward in the face of despair, and they fell in the unshrinking station where they fought. In six months Lee had effaced Pope, checked McClellan, and crushed Burnside—June 25 to December 13, 1862.

Henry E. Shepherd

 

Burnside repulsed at Fredericksburg, 1862

 

 

Not quite so cold. Captain A. W. Chilton and Lieut. Wheeler came off picket this morning; no orders to put up quarters; wonder if some of the officers are not getting faint-hearted and getting out of it; no one can accuse me of it after declining my discharge at Annapolis and General Stevenson's offer. I find the army in poor spirits; needs rest, at any rate Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley part of it; give it rest and it will be all right for another campaign. These enormous earthworks in our front seem to give everybody the nightmare, but I anticipate a weakly manned part of the line will be found, easily broken, and then, as the enemy is disheartened, goodbye, Johnny! The next campaign will be virtually the last.

December 13, 1862

Yet in the Gulf of Mexico. Company C lost a man last night. Company G has been turned out of their quarters and a hospital made of it. That crowds the others still more, but at the rate we go on the whole ship will soon be a hospital.

10 a. m. We have stopped at a sandy island, which they say is Ship Island. The man who died last night has been taken off and they are digging a hole in the sand to put him in.

Ship Island so far as I can discover is only a sand bar with a small fort on it, and with some soldiers about it the only live thing in sight. We weighed anchor about 4 p. m. and the next morning, Dec. 14th, stopped off the mouth of the Mississippi for a pilot. I am told this is called the South West Pass, being one of several outlets to the great Mississippi river. It looks like a mud flat that had been pushed out into the Gulf farther in some places than others. As far as the eye can reach the land is covered with a low down growth of grass or weeds that are but little above the water. We passed a little village of huts near the outlet, where the pilots with their families live and which is called "Pilot Town." What they live on I did not learn. The huts are perched on piles driven in the mud, with board walks from one to the other and water under and about the whole.

December 13

December 13, 1858.--Consider yourself a refractory pupil for whom you are responsible as mentor and tutor. To sanctify sinful nature, by bringing it gradually under the control of the angel within us, by the help of a holy God, is really the whole of Christian pedagogy and of religious morals. Our work--my work--consists in taming, subduing, evangelizing and angelizing the evil self; and in restoring harmony with the good self. Salvation lies in abandoning the evil self in principle and in taking refuge with the other, the divine self, in accepting with courage and prayer the task of living with one's own demon, and making it into a less and less rebellious instrument of good. The Abel in us must labor for the salvation of the Cain. To undertake it is to be converted, and this conversion must be repeated day by day. Abel only redeems and touches Cain by exercising him constantly in good works. To do right is in one sense an act of violence; it is suffering, expiation, a cross, for it means the conquest and enslavement of self. In another sense it is the apprenticeship to heavenly things, sweet and secret joy, contentment and peace. Sanctification implies perpetual martyrdom, but it is a martyrdom which glorifies. A crown of thorns is the sad eternal symbol of the life of the saints. The best measure of the profundity of any religious doctrine is given by its conception of sin and the cure of sin.

A duty is no sooner divined than from that very moment it becomes binding upon us.

* * * *

Latent genius is but a presumption. Everything that can be, is bound to come into being, and what never comes into being is nothing.

December 13, 1863

3 a. m. Sunday. The prayer meeting continues. I have found out that a negro preacher of great fame among them is present and conducts the services. If he does it for pay he is certainly earning his money. Reveille sounded before the meeting was over. After guard mount, a breakfast and a wash up, I turned in for a nap. In the afternoon I set out to go to church. Where, I had no idea, but after following the sound of bells, and finding some of them on fire engine houses, and some on steamboats, I turned and followed some people who had books in their hands and had every appearance of church-goers. They finally brought up at a church and I followed them in. The church was crowded, and the service was in a tongue strange to me, so as soon as I could I got out and came back home. Home—what a place to apply the blessed name of home to! Still it is my home. Any place, that a soldier leaves, expecting to return to it, is his home. If asked where my home is I should say at the Louisiana Steam Cotton Press. It's my only home now. That's what I say, but yet my heart says "in the little brown house under the hill, where the old folks stay." Shall I ever get over longing for that home? It is very humble but there is no other place on earth that I would rather see. Just as I was about turning to indigo, the postmaster came in and gave me a letter from Jane. Dear old Jane! If she could have seen me grab it, and watched me read it, I know she would write oftener. She is the scribe for the whole family. She is a fast writer. She knows just what to say for the others as well as herself, and the very worst thing I can say against her is that she does not write oftener. Still, the pile of letters in my trunk, all from her, are a witness that I am selfish to ask or expect her to write oftener. I will drop you, my diary, and answer this letter before it is cold from my hands.

December 13

December 13, 1859.--Fifth lecture on "The Eternal Life" ("The Proof of the Gospel by the Supernatural.") The same talent and great eloquence; but the orator does not understand that the supernatural must either be historically proved, or, supposing it cannot be proved, that it must renounce all pretensions to overstep the domain of faith and to encroach upon that of history and science. He quotes Strauss, Renan, Scherer, but he touches only the letter of them, not the spirit. Everywhere one sees the Cartesian dualism and a striking want of the genetic, historical, and critical sense. The idea of a living evolution has not penetrated into the consciousness of the orator. With every intention of dealing with things as they are, he remains, in spite of himself, subjective and oratorical. There is the inconvenience of handling a matter polemically instead of in the spirit of the student. Naville's moral sense is too strong for his discernment and prevents him from seeing what he does not wish to see. In his metaphysic, will is placed above intelligence, and in his personality the character is superior to the understanding, as one might logically expect. And the consequence is, that he may prop up what is tottering, but he makes no conquests; he may help to preserve existing truths and beliefs, but he is destitute of initiative or vivifying power. He is a moralizing but not a suggestive or stimulating influence. A popularizer, apologist and orator of the greatest merit, he is a schoolman at bottom; his arguments are of the same type as those of the twelfth century, and he defends Protestantism in the same way in which Catholicism has been commonly defended. The best way of demonstrating the insufficiency of this point of view is to show by history how incompletely it has been superseded. The chimera of a simple and absolute truth is wholly Catholic and anti-historic. The mind of Naville is mathematical and his objects moral. His strength lies in mathematicizing morals. As soon as it becomes a question of development, metamorphosis, organization--as soon as he is brought into contact with the mobile world of actual life, especially of the spiritual life, he has no longer anything serviceable to say. Language is for him a system of fixed signs; a man, a people, a book, are so many geometrical figures of which we have only to discover the properties.

Sunday, December 13th.—We've been hung up since Friday night by the three damaged trucks, and took the opportunity of getting some good walks yesterday, and actually going to church at the English church this morning.

Sister B. has been ordered to join the hospital; she mobilised to-day, and we had to pack her off this morning. The staffs of the trains (which have all been shortened) have been put down from four to three. Very glad I wasn't taken off.

We saw a line of graves with wooden crosses, in a field against the skyline, last journey.

We have seen a lot of the skin coats that the men are getting now. Sheepskin, with any sort of fur or skin sleeves, just the skins sewn together; you may see a grey or white coat with brown or black fur or astrakhan sleeves. Some wear the fur inside and some outside; they simply love them.

Reduced to pacing the platform in the dark and rain to get warm. It is 368 paces, so I've done it six times to well cover a mile, but it is not an exciting walk! Funny thing, it seems in this war that for many departments you are either thoroughly overworked or entirely hung up, which is much worse. In things like the Pay Department or the Post-Office or the Provisioning for the A.S.C. it seldom gets off the overworked line, but in this and in the fighting line it varies very much.

"The number of victims of the Taube attack on Hazebrouck on Monday is larger than was at first supposed. Five bombs were thrown and nine British soldiers and five civilians were killed, while 25 persons were injured."—'Times,' Dec. 9th.

We were at H. on that day.

Midnapore, December 13, 1842

DEPARTURE FOR CUTTACK.

I am on the point of quitting this place for Cuttack. I have sold the greater part of my furniture, as it is expensive to move; the remainder is going forward on hackeries, or native carts. I want six of these carts; about a dozen of them are come, and there is now a crowd of native savages round the door, disputing as to who shall go; and they were making so much noise that I was compelled to go out and stop the cabal. I took a good thick stick in my hand, as if I were about to beat them. I called out "Choop!" (or silence) as loud as I could. I then explained that I only wanted six hackeries. Then began a vociferation as to whose were the best. "Choop!—will ye choop?" I roared again. I then called the mollee, and desired him to turn out all the bullocks, for they had unfastened those which drew the carts, and let them all loose in the rice-ground in the compound, which was just ready for cutting. This order I hallooed out loud enough for the men to hear; and told him, as soon as he had done that, to come to me for a crowbar to break to pieces all the hackeries but six. This made them submit; and although they still continued making a great chattering, yet they soon began harnessing their bullocks. With these people we are obliged to appear very severe. They despise us as being of no caste; and were we not to be firm, they would imagine we were afraid of them.

We are now engaged in packing up our things, and shall start on the 25th, reach Balasore on the 28th, and remain there ten days, and then three days' more travelling will bring me to my head-quarters at Cuttack.

I have, with much trouble, endeavoured to persuade the people here that they ought to build a church: the Mohammedans have a splendid mosque, the Hindoos have a large temple, and yet we have no consecrated building for the worship of the true God; but, however, I hope this will be remedied. As I was passing the mosque the other day, I saw the muezzin shouting out that it was time for prayer, and stopping his ears with both hands, that he might not hear the terrible noise which he himself was making.

GOATS.

About a fortnight ago the judge went out shooting: he came to a large hole under the root of a tree, and heard a loud growling. He is a courageous man, so he was not afraid; but he told an Indian, who was with him, to get behind the tree, and then poke a long stick into the hole. Presently the growling became very loud and savage, and then out jumped an enormous bear, one of the most savage sort—the large black bear. The judge was ready, and shot it when it came out. On examining the hole, three young bears, only a few days old, were found. He sent for some Indians, who carried the dead body, and also the cubs, home, and then, as he knew that I was fond of animals, he sent the three little ones to me. They are very ugly, and cannot see yet. One of my goats had just had a kid, so I told the cook to make the kid into soup, and I brought the goat to the young bears. One man held the goat, another covered her eyes with his hands, and a boy held up the cubs to suck. The goat did not like it at all at first, but now she is quite contented, almost as much so as if they were her own young ones. I have given two of them away. In England you never taste goat's milk: it is most delicious; far better, I think, than cow's milk: we use it every day. Each goat, after the kid is taken from her, gives about three-quarters of a pint a-day. The judge has promised me a bottle full of the pure bear's grease.

Every one here knows that I am very fond of animals, and they are all very kind in sending them to me. I received the other day from a gentleman a present of a goat, which is quite as big as a small pony. If I were to get on its back my feet would not touch the ground; it is of a dark brown, and of the long-eared Thibet kind.

The Travelling M.P

The British Lion Rampant

[December 13, 1879.]

There is not a more fearful wild fowl than your travelling M.P. This unhappy creature, whose mind is a perfect blank regarding Faujdari [Y] and Bandobast,[Z] and who cannot distinguish the molluscous Baboo from the osseous Pathan, will actually presume to discuss Indian subjects with you, unless strict precautions be taken.

[Y: Criminal cases .]

[Z: Land revenue settlement .]

When I meet one of these loose M.P.'s ramping about I always cut his claws at once. I say, "Now, Mr. T.G., you must understand that, according to my standard, you are a homunculus of the lowest type. There is nothing I value a man for that you can do; there is nothing I consider worth directing the human mind upon that you know. If you ask for any information which I may deem it expedient to give to a person in your unfortunate position, well and good; but if you venture to argue with me, to express any opinion, to criticise anything I may be good enough to say regarding India, or to quote any passage relating to Asia from the works of Burke, Cowper, Bright, or Fawcett, I will hand you over to Major Henderson for strangulation, I will cause your body to be burnt by an Imperial Commission of sweepers, and I will mention your name in the Pioneer."

In dangerous cases, where a note-book is carried, your loose M.P. must be made to reside within the pale of guarded conversation. If you are wise you will speak to him in the interrogative mood exclusively; and you will treat his answers with contumelious laughter or disdainful silence.

About a week after your M.P. has landed in India he will begin his great work on the history, literature, philosophy and social institutions of the Hindoos. You will see him in a railway carriage when stirred by the [Greek: oistros] studying Forbes's Hindustani Manual. He is undoubtedly writing the chapter on the philology of the Aryan Family. Do you observe the fine frenzy that kindles behind his spectacles as he leans back and tries to eject a root? These pangs are worth about half-a-crown an hour in the present state of the book market. One cannot contemplate them without profound emotion.

The reading world is hunger-bitten about Asia, and I often think I shall take three months' leave and run up a précis  of Sanskrit and Pali literature, just a few folios for the learned world. Max Müller begs me to learn these languages first; but this would be a toil and drudgery, whereas to me the pursuit of literary excellence and fame is a mere amusement, like lawn-tennis or rinking. It is the fault of the age to make a labour of what is meant to be a pastime.

      Telle est de nos plaisirs la surface légère;
      Glissez, mortels, n'appuyez pas.

The travelling M.P. will probably come to you with a letter of introduction from the last station he has visited, and he will immediately proceed to make himself quite at home in your bungalow with the easy manners of the Briton abroad. He will acquaint you with his plans and name the places of interest in the neighbourhood which he requires you to show him. He will ask you to take him, as a preliminary canter, to the gaol and lunatic asylum; and he will make many interesting suggestions to the civil surgeon as to the management of these institutions, comparing them unfavourably with those he has visited in other stations. He will then inspect the Brigadier-General commanding the station, the chaplain, and the missionaries. On his return—when he ought to be bathing—he will probably write his article for the Twentieth Century, entitled "Is India Worth Keeping?" And this ridiculous old Shrovetide cock, whose ignorance and information leave two broad streaks of laughter in his wake, is turned loose upon the reading public! Upon my word, I believe the reading public would do better to go and sit at the feet of Baboo Sillabub Thunder Gosht, B.A.

What is it that these travelling people put on paper? Let me put it in the form of a conundrum. Q. What is it that the travelling M.P. treasures up and the Anglo-Indian hastens to throw away? A. Erroneous, hazy, distorted first impressions. Before the eyes of the griffin, India steams up in poetical mists, illusive, fantastic, subjective, ideal, picturesque. The adult Qui Hai  attains to prose, to stern and disappointing realities; he removes the gilt from the Empire and penetrates to the brown ginger-bread of Rajas and Baboos. One of the most serious duties attending a residence in India is the correcting of those misapprehensions which your travelling M.P. sacrifices his bath to hustle upon paper. The spectacled people embalmed in secretariats alone among Anglo-Indians continue to see the gay visions of griffinhood. They alone preserve the phantasmagoria of bookland and dreamland. As for the rest of us:—

      Out of the day and night
      A joy has taken flight:
      Baboos and Rajas and Indian lore
      Move our faint hearts with grief, but with delight
      No more—oh, never more!

It is strange that one who is modest and inoffensive in his own country should immediately on leaving it exhibit some of the worst features of Arryism; but it seems inevitable. I have met in this unhappy land, countrymen (who are gentlemen in England, Members of Parliament, and Deputy Lieutenants, and that kind of thing) whose conduct and demeanour while here I can never recall without tears and blushes for our common humanity. My friends witnessing this emotion often suppose that I am thinking of the Famine Commission.

[I am an Anglo-Indian cherishing many a burning Anglo-Indian prejudice, and I should be sorry if from what I have written here it does not sufficiently appear that I cherish a burning prejudice against the British Tourist in India, who comes out to get up India and to do India; not against the tourist who comes out to shoot or to play the fool in a quiet unostentatious way.]

As far as I can learn, it is a generally received opinion at home that
a man who has seen the Taj at Agra, the Qutb at Delhi, and the Duke at
Madras, has graduated with honours in all questions connected with
British interests in Asia; and is only unfitted for the office of
Governor-General of India from knowing too much.—ALI BABA, K.C.B.