December 8

December 8, 1862

Monday. The storm is over and it is warm and pleasant. Lieutenant Sterling's funeral sermon was preached this morning on the quarter-deck. On account of lack of room only his company and the commissioned officers attended. His body will be sent home when we land.

Arrived at Washington Junction at daylight; were delayed by freight trains till 8 o'clock a. m.; arrived in Washington about 10 o'clock a. m. A man got shot in the foot; got breakfast at the Soldiers Rest; am in charge of the guard. Colonel Hunter and the Adjutant are up town looking for General Wright; am to stay in town to-night.

December Eighth

Our one sweet singer breaks no more
The silence sad and long,
The land is hushed from shore to shore
It brooks no feebler song.
Carl McKinley

 

Henry Timrod born, 1829

Joel Chandler Harris born, 1848

 

 

Tuesday, December 8th.—Got up to Bailleul by 11 a.m., and had a good walk on the line waiting to load up. Glorious morning. Aeroplanes buzzing overhead like bees, and dropping coloured signals about. Only filled up my half of the train, both wounded and sick, including some very bad enterics. An officer in the trenches sent a man on a horse to get some papers from us. Luckily I had a batch of 'The Times,' 'Spectator,' and 'Punches.'

We have come down very quickly, and hope to unload to-night, 9.30.

December 8, 1863

Tuesday. After a bed, the next thing was to manufacture a table, and from that I went to chair-making. I made some little saw-horses, and across the top stretched a piece of canvas, and we each have a very comfortable seat. Smith says they should be patented. One end up they are chairs and turned over they are sawbucks. He says a man with one of them could saw wood until tired and then turn it over and have a good chair to sit on and rest up. Matt always has something to say, but we try to endure him. It has been a rainy day, but all being under shelter we care but little. No further news about Texas comes and we hang our hopes high. The photographs came to-day. Gorton doesn't like his and is going to try again. Mine are all right, except that Matt says the nose is crooked, but I don't care for a little thing like that, and shall hurry one of them home by first mail. At night we all gathered at Colonel Bostwick's tent, to show him how much we remembered of the army tactics that were worked into our noddles at Camp Millington. We filled his tent too full for comfort, and he decided to put off the school until he found a better place to hold it. He told us what lines to be prepared on and after visiting awhile we all went to our own homes, I to write and the rest to bed and asleep.

December 8

December 8, 1869.--Everything has chilled me this morning; the cold of the season, the physical immobility around me, but, above all, Hartman's "Philosophy of the Unconscious." This book lays down the terrible thesis that creation is a mistake; being, such as it is, is not as good as non-being, and death is better than life.

I felt the same mournful impression that Obermann left upon me in my youth. The black melancholy of Buddhism encompassed and overshadowed me. If, in fact, it is only illusion which hides from us the horror of existence and makes life tolerable to us, then existence is a snare and life an evil. Like the Greek Annikeris, we ought to counsel suicide, or rather with Buddha and Schopenhauer we ought to labor for the radical extirpation of hope and desire--the causes of life and resurrection. Not to rise again; there is the point, and there is the difficulty. Death is simply a beginning again, whereas it is annihilation that we have to aim at. Personal consciousness being the root of all our troubles, we ought to avoid the temptation to it and the possibility of it as diabolical and abominable. What blasphemy! And yet it is all logical; it is the philosophy of happiness carried to its farthest point. Epicurism must end in despair. The philosophy of duty is less depressing. But salvation lies in the conciliation of duty and happiness, in the union of the individual will with the divine will, and in the faith that this supreme will is directed by love.

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It is as true that real happiness is good, as that the good become better under the purification of trial. Those who have not suffered are still wanting in depth; but a man who has not got happiness cannot impart it. We can only give what we have. Happiness, grief, gayety, sadness, are by nature contagious. Bring your health and your strength to the weak and sickly, and so you will be of use to them. Give them, not your weakness, but your energy, so you will revive and lift them up. Life alone can rekindle life. What others claim from us is not our thirst and our hunger, but our bread and our gourd.

The benefactors of humanity are those who have thought great thoughts about her; but her masters and her idols are those who have flattered and despised her, those who have muzzled and massacred her, inflamed her with fanaticism or used her for selfish purposes. Her benefactors are the poets, the artists, the inventors, the apostles and all pure hearts. Her masters are the Caesars, the Constantines, the Gregory VII.'s, the Innocent III.'s, the Borgias, the Napoleons.

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Every civilization is, as it were, a dream of a thousand years, in which heaven and earth, nature and history, appear to men illumined by fantastic light and representing a drama which is nothing but a projection of the soul itself, influenced by some intoxication--I was going to say hallucination--or other. Those who are widest awake still see the real world across the dominant illusion of their race or time. And the reason is that the deceiving light starts from our own mind: the light is our religion. Everything changes with it. It is religion which gives to our kaleidoscope, if not the material of the figures, at least their color, their light and shade, and general aspect. Every religion makes men see the world and humanity under a special light; it is a mode of apperception, which can only be scientifically handled when we have cast it aside, and can only be judged when we have replaced it by a better.

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