December 29

Tuesday, December 29th.—We've had a quite useful day off to-day. Still at Sotteville; had a walk this morning, also got through arrears of mending and letter-writing. They played another football match this afternoon, and did much better than last time, but still got beaten.

December 29, 1862

John Van Hoovenburg, another Company B boy, is about gone. The men are getting discouraged and to keep their minds from themselves it is said drilling is to begin to-morrow. The seed sown on the Arago is bearing fruit now. Something to do is no doubt the best medicine for us. I know I should die if I laid around and talked and thought of nothing but my own miserable self.

Weather has moderated since morning; quite muddy; had two hours battalion drill; think it a big thing on ice. In my opinion we would look better in the house, and I am sure we should feel better; got a letter from Dr. J. H. Jones to-night. He was married Nov. 8, 1864; received our muster and pay rolls to-day; have commenced a part of two; hard cold north wind to-night. Sergeant Charles of the One Hundred and Fifty-first New York is here to-night.

December Twenty-Ninth

Slow and patient, fair and truthful must the coming teacher be
To show how the knife was sharpened that was ground to prune the tree.
He will hold the Scales of Justice, he will measure praise and blame,
And the South will stand the verdict, and will stand it without shame.
James Barron Hope


Texas admitted to the Union, 1845



December 29, 1863

Tuesday. I put in a miserable night. I simply could not sleep for thinking about my application. I traced it from headquarters to headquarters, all the way up to G. Norman Leiber, A. A. A. General, and watched to see what he wrote across the back. It was approved at every stopping place up to his office, and I thought he merely glanced at the endorsements and then wrote "Approved." I found myself sitting up in my bed with the sweat pouring off my face, and Gorton and Smith both yelling at me to know what was the matter.

So it seems I did sleep enough to have that blessed dream, but I was about heart-broken to find it only a dream. Smith says he shall tell the colonel to ask that my application be approved for the good of the service, and if that doesn't work will ask for another place to sleep in. After breakfast I was sent with a detail to get some material for brush-brooms, to sweep the quarters with. This was something I had long recommended, for I had learned from the men that they could make them if they had the material, and that could be found in any swamp. We went out Montague Street and followed it mile after mile till we were out of the city and into the Little Cypress Swamp, so-called to distinguish it from the Great Cypress which we saw when in the Teche country. We found acres of the stuff, and soon had all we could lug back. We got back in time for dinner and then the broom manufacture began. Some of them are fully as well made as any in the market, and all look as if they would do good service.

After dinner I went at the company returns so as to be ready for January 1st, when we expect to get our pay. What if my leave of absence should come before pay day? I don't suppose there is money enough in the whole outfit to pay my fare to New York. Jim Brant from Company B, 128th, came in to-night. He has a furlough and is going home by the first boat. Recitation came again to-night and we all had good lessons. I am going to try and sleep to-night, for I need it.

December 29

December 29, 1871.--I have been reading Bahnsen ("Critique de l'évolutionisme de Hegel-Hartmann, au nom des principes de Schopenhauer"). What a writer! Like a cuttle-fish in water, every movement produces a cloud of ink which shrouds his thought in darkness. And what a doctrine! A thoroughgoing pessimism, which regards the world as absurd, "absolutely idiotic," and reproaches Hartmann for having allowed the evolution of the universe some little remains of logic, while, on the contrary, this evolution is eminently contradictory, and there is no reason anywhere except in the poor brain of the reasoner. Of all possible worlds that which exists is the worst. Its only excuse is that it tends of itself to destruction. The hope of the philosopher is that reasonable beings will shorten their agony and hasten the return of everything to nothing. It is the philosophy of a desperate Satanism, which has not even the resigned perspectives of Buddhism to offer to the disappointed and disillusioned soul. The individual can but protest and curse. This frantic Sivaism is developed from the conception which makes the world the product of blind will, the principle of everything.

The acrid blasphemy of the doctrine naturally leads the writer to indulgence in epithets of bad taste which prevent our regarding his work as the mere challenge of a paradoxical theorist. We have really to do with a theophobist, whom faith in goodness rouses to a fury of contempt. In order to hasten the deliverance of the world, he kills all consolation, all hope, and all illusion in the germ, and substitutes for the love of humanity which inspired Çakyamouni, that Mephistophelian gall which defiles, withers, and corrodes everything it touches.

Evolutionism, fatalism, pessimism, nihilism--how strange it is to see this desolate and terrible doctrine growing and expanding at the very moment when the German nation is celebrating its greatness and its triumphs! The contrast is so startling that it sets one thinking.

This orgie of philosophic thought, identifying error with existence itself, and developing the axiom of Proudhon--"Evil is God," will bring back the mass of mankind to the Christian theodicy, which is neither optimist nor pessimist, but simply declares that the felicity which Christianity calls eternal life is accessible to man.

Self-mockery, starting from a horror of stupidity and hypocrisy, and standing in the way of all wholeness of mind and all true seriousness--this is the goal to which intellect brings us at last, unless conscience cries out.

The mind must have for ballast the clear conception of duty, if it is not to fluctuate between levity and despair.

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Before giving advice we must have secured its acceptance, or rather, have made it desired.

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If we begin by overrating the being we love, we shall end by treating it with wholesale injustice.

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It is dangerous to abandon one's self to the luxury of grief; it deprives one of courage, and even of the wish for recovery.

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We learn to recognize a mere blunting of the conscience in that incapacity for indignation which is not to be confounded with the gentleness of charity, or the reserve of humility.