December 3

December 3, 1862

Wednesday. Rainy day. Many have taken cold from our stay in camp and coughing and sneezing is going on all over the boat. I manage to keep up at this, and for coughing I think I take the lead. I am lucky in one thing though. Dr. Andrus once knew a Van Alstyne who he says was a very decent sort of a man, and often stops to talk of those of the name he knows, and to ask me about those I know. In that way he is able to keep track of my condition and give me more of his attention than he otherwise would.

Cold as ever; got an old rotten, dirty wall tent and put it up; took the men's receipts for shelter tents; fingers very cold and numb from writing; camp dirty; men complaining because they have no clothes; quartermaster ordered to his regiment; no one to issue clothing. Oh, dear! When will I get out of this? I'm disgusted with the management here. General Stevenson wants to put me on his staff as Depot Quartermaster at Harper's Ferry; sent for me and urged me to accept; told him I preferred a fighting position to the end of the war with my regiment at the front; think he was vexed with me, but I can't help it. I'm no shirk from battle if I have been four times wounded! I'm no quitter! besides I don't want to be filled with remorse in years to come that I shirked the front when needed. I propose to be able to look any man in the eye without flinching on that score.

December Third

The Black and Tan Convention met December 3, 1867, in our venerable and historic capital to frame a new constitution for the Old Dominion. In this body were members from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, District of Columbia, Ireland, Scotland, Nova Scotia, Canada, England; scalawags, or turn-coats, by Southerners most hated of all; twenty-four negroes; and in the total of 105, thirty-five white Virginians, from counties of excess white population, who might be considered representative of the State's culture and intelligence.

Myrta Lockett Avary


James Rumsey (1787) makes successful trial trip of the steamboat designed after the model of 1784, then witnessed by George Washington and others



December 3, 1863

Thursday. For the past few days I have been too busy to even keep my diary going. We have been making out transfer papers to go with the men. We have to enumerate every article of clothing and equipment that goes with each man and they must all be made in duplicate. An officer from the engineers has been here and looked at the men, and seen them at drill. He decided to take Companies E, B and D. That cleans me out of a job, but I suppose Colonel B. will find me another. Charlie Ensign and Henry V. Wood who have been visiting us until their discharge papers were made out and transportation secured are to leave for home on the Cahawby to-morrow. Charlie has left me his profile, and says he will go to Sharon and see the folks in my place. We are all on a quiver, for some one has got to go on another recruiting tour, and no telling where it will be. Adjutant Gus Phillips, who has been under arrest for drunkenness for some time, was released to-day and started right off on another and a worse spree. This so exasperated Colonel B. that he put him under arrest again. I don't know what the outcome will be, but hope it will clear him from us for good and all.

Thursday, December 3rd.—We kept our load on all night, as we got in very late. I went to bed 10.20 a.m., and then took all the train: unloaded directly after breakfast. Some men from Lancashire were rather interesting on the war; they thought it would do Europe so much good in the long-run. And the French might try and get their own back when they get into Germany, but "the British is too tender-'earted to do them things." They arranged that Belgium should have Berlin! They all get very pitiful over the Belgian homes and desolation; it seems to upset them much more than their own horrors in the trenches. A good deal of the fighting they talk about as if it was an exciting sort of football match, full of sells and tricks and chances. They roar with laughter at some of their escapes.

There was no hospital ship in, which spells a bath or no bath to me, but I ramped round the town till I found a hotel which kindly supplied a fine bath for 1.75. And I found another and nicer English church and a Roman Catholic one.

Grand mail when I came in—from home.

December 3

December 3, 1872.--What a strange dream! I was under an illusion and yet not under it; I was playing a comedy to myself, deceiving my imagination without being able to deceive my consciousness. This power which dreams have of fusing incompatibles together, of uniting what is exclusive, of identifying yes and no, is what is most wonderful and most symbolical in them. In a dream our individuality is not shut up within itself; it envelops, so to speak, its surroundings; it is the landscape, and all that it contains, ourselves included. But if our imagination is not our own, if it is impersonal, then personality is but a special and limited case of its general functions. A fortiori it would be the same for thought. And if so, thought might exist without possessing itself individually, without embodying itself in an ego. In other words, dreams lead us to the idea of an imagination enfranchised from the limits of personality, and even of a thought which should be no longer conscious. The individual who dreams is on the way to become dissolved in the universal phantasmagoria of Maïa. Dreams are excursions into the limbo of things, a semi-deliverance from the human prison. The man who dreams is but the locale of various phenomena of which he is the spectator in spite of himself; he is passive and impersonal; he is the plaything of unknown vibrations and invisible sprites.

The man who should never issue from the state of dream would have never attained humanity, properly so called, but the man who had never dreamed would only know the mind in its completed or manufactured state, and would not be able to understand the genesis of personality; he would be like a crystal, incapable of guessing what crystallization means. So that the waking life issues from the dream life, as dreams are an emanation from the nervous life, and this again is the fine flower of organic life. Thought is the highest point of a series of ascending metamorphoses, which is called nature. Personality by means of thought, recovers in inward profundity what it has lost in extension, and makes up for the rich accumulations of receptive passivity by the enormous privilege of that empire over self which is called liberty. Dreams, by confusing and suppressing all limits, make us feel, indeed, the severity of the conditions attached to the higher existence; but conscious and voluntary thought alone brings knowledge and allows us to act--that is to say, is alone capable of science and of perfection. Let us then take pleasure in dreaming for reasons of psychological curiosity and mental recreation; but let us never speak ill of thought, which is our strength and our dignity. Let us begin as Orientals, and end as Westerns, for these are the two halves of wisdom.

80. John Adams

Philadelphia, 3 December, 1775.

My best Friend,—Yours of November 12th [118] is before me. I wish I could write you every day, more than once, for although I have a number of friends and many relations who are very dear to me, yet all the friendship I have for others is far unequal to that which warms my heart for you. The most agreeable time that I spend here is in writing to you, and conversing with you, when I am alone. But the call of friendship and of private affection must give place to that of duty and honor. Even private friendship and affections require it.

I am obliged, by the nature of the service I am in, to correspond with many gentlemen, both of the army and of the two houses of Assembly, which takes up much of my time. How I find time to write half the letters I do, I know not, for my whole time seems engrossed with business. The whole Congress is taken up, almost, in different committees, from seven to ten in the morning. From ten to four or sometimes five, we are in Congress, and from six to ten in committees again. I don't mention this to make you think me a man of importance, because it is not I alone,[119] but the whole Congress is thus employed, but to apologize for not writing to you oftener.

Indeed, I know not what to write that is worth your reading. I send you the papers, which inform you of what is public. As to what passes in Congress, I am tied fast by my honor to communicate nothing. I hope the Journal of the Session will be published soon, and then you will see what we have been about in one view, excepting what ought to be excepted. If I could visit the coffee-houses in the evening, and the coffee-tables of the ladies in the afternoon, I could entertain you with many smart remarks upon dress and air, etc., and give you many sprightly conversations, but my fate, you know, is to be moping over books and papers all the leisure time I have, when I have any.

I hope I shall be excused from coming to Philadelphia again, at least until other gentlemen have taken their turns. But I never will come here again without you, if I can persuade you to come with me. Whom God has joined together ought not to be put asunder so long, with their own consent. We will bring master Johnny with us; you and he shall have the small-pox here, and we will be as happy as Mr. Hancock and his lady. Thank Abby and John for their letters, and kiss Charles and Tom for me. John writes like a hero, glowing with ardor for his country and burning with indignation against her enemies.

As to coming home, I have no thoughts of it; shall stay here till the year is out, for what I know. Affairs are in a critical state, and important steps are now taking every day, so that I could not reconcile it to my own mind to be absent from this place at present. Nothing is expected from the Commissioners, yet we are waiting for them in some respects. The Tories and timids pretend to expect great things from them. But the generality expect nothing but more insults and affronts. Privateering is licensed, and the ports are wide open. As soon as the resolves are printed, which will be to-morrow, I will send them.


[118]No. 78.

[119]During his term of service in Congress, he was a member of ninety, and chairman of twenty-five committees.