February 10

The weather has been fine but rather cold with a chilly northeast wind; had a good brigade drill this afternoon. Col. A. B. Jewett had an officers' school this evening in the chapel which is very essential to us all. Lieut. Ezra. Stetson has commenced to build an addition to our hut, as he is expecting to have his wife come out and remain with him the rest of the winter.

February Tenth

You say we shall submit to your construction. We shall do it, if you can make us; but not otherwise, or in any other manner. That is settled. You may call it secession, or you may call it revolution; but there is a big fact standing before you, ready to oppose you. That fact is freemen with arms in their hands. The cry of the Union will not disperse them; we have passed that point. They demand equal rights; you had better heed the demand.

Robert Toombs
(Farewell Address in the United States Senate )

 

 

Wednesday, February 10th, 9 p.m.—We woke at Merville after a particularly rocky, noisy night journey, and loaded up there with woundeds and sick, also Indians (but not in my wards for once). My blessés  kept me busy till the moment we unloaded this evening at B., and I had not time to hear much about their doings. One extraordinarily sporting boy had a wound right through his neck, involving his swallowing. It took about half an hour to give him a feed, through a tube, but he stuck it, smiling all the time.

Another older man was shot in the stomach, and looked as if he wouldn't get over it. He told me he'd already been in hospital eight weeks, shot in the head at the Aisne. I said what hard luck to have to go through it again. "It's got to be done," he said. "I didn't give it a thought. I think I shall get over this," he said, "but I don't want to go back a third time." He has a wife and three children in Ireland.

We are to move up again at 4 a.m. Just had dinner (soup, boiled beef as tough as a cable, and ration cheese and coffee), and the 'Daily Mail.'

February 10

February 10, 1871.--My reading for this morning has been some vigorous chapters of Taine's "History of English Literature." Taine is a writer whose work always produces a disagreeable impression upon me, as though of a creaking of pulleys and a clicking of machinery; there is a smell of the laboratory about it. His style is the style of chemistry and technology. The science of it is inexorable; it is dry and forcible, penetrating and hard, strong and harsh, but altogether lacking in charm, humanity, nobility, and grace. The disagreeable effect which it makes on one's taste, ear, and heart, depends probably upon two things: upon the moral philosophy of the author and upon his literary principles. The profound contempt for humanity which characterizes the physiological school, and the intrusion of technology into literature inaugurated by Balzac and Stendhal, explain the underlying aridity of which one is sensible in these pages, and which seems to choke one like the gases from a manufactory of mineral products. The book is instructive in the highest degree, but instead of animating and stirring, it parches, corrodes, and saddens its reader. It excites no feeling whatever; it is simply a means of information. I imagine this kind of thing will be the literature of the future--a literature à l'Américaine, as different as possible from Greek art, giving us algebra instead of life, the formula instead of the image, the exhalations of the crucible instead of the divine madness of Apollo. Cold vision will replace the joys of thought, and we shall see the death of poetry, flayed and dissected by science.

157. John Adams

Baltimore, 10 February, 1777.

Fell's Point, which I mentioned in a letter this morning, has a considerable number of houses upon it. The shipping all lies now at this point. You have from it on one side a complete view of the harbor, and on the other a fine prospect of the town of Baltimore. You see the hill in full view, and the Court-house, the Church, and Meeting-house upon it. The Court-house makes a haughty appearance from this point. There is a fortification erected on this point, with a number of embrasures for cannon facing the Narrows which make the entrance into the harbor. At the Narrows they have a fort with a garrison in it.

It is now a month and a few days since I left you. I have heard nothing from you nor received a letter from the Massachusetts. I hope the post-office will perform better than it has done. I am anxious to hear how you do. My duty to your papa and my mother. Love to brothers and sisters. Tell Betsey I hope she is married, though I want to throw the stocking. My respects to Mr. Shaw. Tell him he may be a Calvinist if he will, provided always that he preserves his candor, charity, and moderation. What shall I say of or to my children? What will they say to me for leaving them, their education, and fortune so much to the disposal of chance? May Almighty and all gracious Providence protect and bless them!

I have this day sent my resignation of a certain mighty office.[163] It has relieved me from a burden which has a long time oppressed me. But I am determined that while I am ruining my constitution of mind and body, and running daily risks of my life and fortune, in defense of the independence of my country, I will not knowingly resign my own.

Footnotes:

[163]The office of Chief Justice of Massachusetts.

February 10

February 10, 1853.--This afternoon I made an excursion to the Salève with my particular friends, Charles Heim, Edmond Scherer, Élie Lecoultre, and Ernest Naville. The conversation was of the most interesting kind, and prevented us from noticing the deep mud which hindered our walking. It was especially Scherer, Naville, and I who kept it alive. Liberty in God, the essence of Christianity, new publications in philosophy, these were our three subjects of conversation. The principle result for me was an excellent exercise in dialectic and in argumentation with solid champions. If I learned nothing, many of my ideas gained new confirmation, and I was able to penetrate more deeply into the minds of my friends. I am much nearer to Scherer than to Naville, but from him also I am in some degree separated.

It is a striking fact, not unlike the changing of swords in "Hamlet," that the abstract minds, those which move from ideas to facts, are always fighting on behalf of concrete reality; while the concrete minds, which move from facts to ideas, are generally the champions of abstract notions. Each pretends to that over which he has least power; each aims instinctively at what he himself lacks. It is an unconscious protest against the incompleteness of each separate nature. We all tend toward that which we possess least of, and our point of arrival is essentially different from our point of departure. The promised land is the land where one is not. The most intellectual of natures adopts an ethical theory of mind; the most moral of natures has an intellectual theory of morals. This reflection was brought home to me in the course of our three or four hours' discussion. Nothing is more hidden from us than the illusion which lives with us day by day, and our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.

The mathematical intelligence and the historical intelligence (the two classes of intelligences) can never understand each other. When they succeed in doing so as to words, they differ as to the things which the words mean. At the bottom of every discussion of detail between them reappears the problem of the origin of ideas. If the problem is not present to them, there is confusion; if it is present to them, there is separation. They only agree as to the goal--truth; but never as to the road, the method, and the criterion.

Heim represented the impartiality of consciousness, Naville the morality of consciousness, Lecoultre the religion of consciousness, Scherer the intelligence of consciousness, and I the consciousness of consciousness. A common ground, but differing individualities. Discrimen ingeniorum.

What charmed me most in this long discussion was the sense of mental freedom which it awakened in me. To be able to set in motion the greatest subjects of thought without any sense of fatigue, to be greater than the world, to play with one's strength, this is what makes the well-being of intelligence, the Olympic festival of thought. Habere, non haberi. There is an equal happiness in the sense of reciprocal confidence, of friendship, and esteem in the midst of conflict; like athletes, we embrace each other before and after the combat, and the combat is but a deploying of the forces of free and equal men.

February 10, 1917

Well, the 118th has settled down to what looks like a long cantonnement. It is surely the liveliest as well as the biggest we ever had here, and every little town and village is crowded between here and Coulommier. Not only are there five thousand infantry billeted along the hills and in the valleys, but there are big divisions of artillery also. The little square in front of our railway station at Couilly is full of grey cannon and ammunition wagons, and there are military kitchens and all sorts of commissary wagons along all the roadsides between here and Crécy-en-Brie, which is the distributing headquarters for all sorts of material.

As the weather has been intolerably cold, though it is dry and often sunny, the soldiers are billeted in big groups of fifty or sixty in a room or grange, where they sleep in straw, rolled in their blankets, packed like sardines to keep warm.

They came in nearly frozen, but they thawed out quickly, and now they don't mind the weather at all.

Hardly had they got thawed out when an epidemic of mumps broke out. They made quick work of evacuating those who had it, and stop its spreading, to the regret, I am afraid, of a good many of the boys. One of them said to me the day after the mumpy ones were taken over to Meaux: "Lucky fellows. I wish I had the mumps. After Verdun it must be jolly to be in the hospital with nothing more dangerous than mumps, and a nice, pretty girl, in a white cap, to pet you. I can't think of a handsomer way to spend a repos than that."

When I tell you that these soldiers say, "Men who have not been at Verdun have not seen the war yet," and then add that the life of the 118th here looks like a long picnic, and that they make play of their work, play of their grenade practice, which they vary with football, play of their twenty miles hikes, I give you leave to laugh at my way of seeing the war, and I'll even laugh with you.

That reminds me that I never see a thousand or so of these boys on the big plain playing what they call football that I don't wish some American chaps were here to teach them the game. All they do here is to throw off their coats and kick the ball as far, and as high, as possible, and run like racers after it, while the crowd, massed on the edge of the field, yells like mad. The yelling they do very well indeed, and they kick well, and run well. But, if they only knew the game— active, and agile, and light as they are—they would enjoy it, and play it well.

I had one of the nicest thrills I have had for many a day soon after the 118th arrived.

It was a sunny afternoon. I was walking in the road, when, just at the turn above my house, two officers rode round the corner, saluted me, and asked if the road led to Quincy. I told them the road to the right at the foot of the hill, through Voisins, would take them to Quincy. They thanked me, wheeled their horses across the road and stood there. I waited to see what was going to happen—small events are interesting here. After a bit one of them said that perhaps I would be wise to step out of the road, which was narrow, as the regiment was coming.

I asked, of course, "What regiment?" and "What are they coming for?" and he answered "The 118th," and that it was simply "taking a walk."

So I sauntered back to my garden, and down to the corner by the hedge, where I was high above the road, and could see in both directions. I had hardly got there when the head of the line came round the corner. In columns of four, knapsacks on their backs, guns on their shoulders, swinging at an easy gait, all looking so brown, so hardy, so clear-eyed, the men from Verdun marched by.

I had thought it cold in spite of the sun, and was well wrapped up, with my hands thrust into my big muff, but these men had beads of perspiration standing on their bronzed faces under their steel helmets.

Before the head of the line reached the turn into Voisins, a long shrill whistle sounded. The line stopped. Someone said: "At last! My, but this has been a hot march," and in a second every man had slipped off his knapsack and had a cigarette in his mouth.

Almost all of them dropped to the ground, or lay down against the bank. A few enterprising ones climbed the bank, to the field in front of my lawn, to get a glimpse of the view, and they all said what everyone says: "I say, this is the best point to see it."

I wondered what they would say to it if they could see it in summer and autumn if they found it fine with its winter haze.

But that is not what gave me my thrill.

The rest was a short one. Two sharp whistles sounded down the hill. Instantly everyone slipped on his sac, shouldered his gun, and at that minute, down at the corner, the military band struck up "Chant du Départ." Every hair on my head stood up. It is the first time I have heard a band since the war broke out, and as the regiment swung down the hill to the blare of brass—well, funnily enough, it seemed less like war than ever. Habit is a deadly thing. I have heard that band—a wonderful one, as such a regiment deserves,—many times since, but it never makes my heart thump as it did when, so unexpectedly, it cut the air that sunny afternoon.

I had so often seen those long lines marching in silence, as the English and the French did to the Battle of the Marne, as all our previous regiments have come and gone on the hillside, and never seen a band or heard military music that I had ceased to associate music with the soldiers, although I knew the bands played in the battles and the bugle calls were a part of it.

We have had all sorts of military shows, which change the atmosphere in which the quiet about us had been for months and months only stirred by the far-off artillery.

One day, we had a review on the broad plain which lies along the watershed between the Marne and the Grande Morin, overlooking the heights on the far side of both valleys, with the Grande Route on one side, and the walls to the wooded park of the handsome Château de Quincy on the other. It was an imposing sight, with thousands of steel-helmeted figures sac au dos et bayonnette au canon, marching and counter-marching in the cold sunshine, looking in the distance more like troops of Louis XIII than an evolution from the French conscript of the ante-bellum days of the pantalon rouge.

Two days later we had the most magnificent prise d'armes on the same plain that I have ever seen, much more stirring—though less tear-moving—than the same ceremony in the courtyard of the Invalides at Paris, where most foreigners see it. At the Invalides one sees the mutilés and the ill. Here one only saw the glory. In Paris, the galleries about the court, inside the walls of the Soldiers' Home, are packed with spectators. Here there were almost none. But here the heroes received their decorations in the presence of the comrades among whom they had been won, in the terrible battles of Verdun. It was a long line of officers, and men from the ranks, who stood so steadily before the commander and his staff, inside the hollow square, about the regimental colors, to have their medals and crosses fastened on their faded coats, receive their accolade, and the bravos of their companions as their citations were read. There were seven who received the Légion d'Honneur.

It was a brave-looking ceremony, and it was a lovely day—even the sun shone on them.

There was one amusing episode. These celebrations are always a surprise to the greater part of the community, and, in a little place like this, it is only by accident that anyone sees the ceremony. The children are always at school, and the rest of the world is at work, so, unless the music attracts someone, there are few spectators. On the day of the prise d'armes three old peasants happened to be in a field on the other side of the route nationale, which skirts the big plain on the plateau. They heard the music, dropped their work and ran across the road to gape. They were all men on towards eighty—too old to have ever done their military service. Evidently no one had ever told them that all Frenchmen were expected to uncover when the flag went by. Poor things, they should have known! But they didn't, and you should have seen a colonel ride down on them. I thought he was going to cut the woollen caps off their heads with his sabre, at the risk of decapitating them. But I loved what he said to them.

"Don't you know enough to uncover before the flag for which your fellow citizens are dying every day?"

Isn't that nice? I loved the democratic "fellow citizens"—so pat and oratorically French.

I flung the Stars and Stripes to the French breezes on the 7th in honor of the rupture. It was the first time the flag has been unfurled since Captain Simpson ordered the corporal to take it down two years ago the third of last September. I had a queer sensation as I saw it flying over the gate again, and thought of all that had happened since the little corporal of the King's Own Yorks took it down,—and the Germans still only forty-two miles away.

La Madeleine Feb. 10, 1881

You have gone through an anxious time, and I need not say where my thoughts were fixed during the week of Revolution.[76 ] I trust you are well out of it, and found relief at Lubbock's. Wolverton is growing excited and goes back. I shall miss his good spirits, his keen pugnacity, his singularly practical and unphilosophical view of politics, and Godley's[77 ] letters. And I don't know whether the Government will gain an adviser prompt, if they make a mistake, to help them to find it out.

I have suggested to May[78 ] a precedent for the action of the Speaker in stopping the discussion. It was three days before the Little Gentleman in Black Velvet[79 ] at Hampton Court changed the dynasty. The House was in Committee; the Tories were getting the worst of it and wished to prevent a division. The Whigs would not hear of an adjournment, and were jubilant, when one of their number had a stroke of apoplexy. Harley, the Speaker, in concert with the Chairman, seized the opportunity, took the chair, and closed the debate. Although the majority was floored, nobody seems to have remonstrated. I presume it is not on the Journals, and does not count.

In the hundreds of reflections suggested by the day of the scene, and of the superb speech, there is one slightly laced with regret (laced is a metaphor taken from toddy and negus). Once in 1816, the extreme Royalists, taking offence, walked out of the Chamber of Deputies. The majority were about to vote when De Serre[80 ] said: "Personne ne croira que j'approuve, même indirectement, l'espèce de scission dont nos yeux sont frappés en ce moment. Mais je demande s'il ne serait pas de la sagesse, je dirai même de la générosité de la majorité ici constatée et qui pourrait delibérer très légalement, de remettre la séance à demain. Il importe qu'on ne puisse pas dire que vous avez refusé d'entendre ceux de vos membres qui pourraient avoir des observations à faire." And the debate was adjourned.

I like to quote De Serre, for though a Tory in those days, he would have developed if he had lived; and there is no statesman in French parliamentary history who has so much analogy with Mr. Gladstone.

Arrival of your letter from High Elms,[81 ] with enclosure—I was surprised at those Irishmen going astray so hopelessly, when they had a man amongst them who knows so much about parliamentary tactics as Justin McCarthy. Their anger at the arrest of Davitt shows that it was not properly deliberate. One argument with which you must have grown familiar in the autumn comes to one's mind again since the Resolution. Free government is government by consent; and consent is conveyed by the choice constituencies make of their representatives. In a local and circumscribed, not imperial question, legislation must, as a rule, depend on the consent of those concerned, as represented in Parliament. This argument is not conclusive against Coercion, because the Land League has not even an Irish majority on its side. But it might apply to the three quarter vote.[82 ] In a purely Irish question the whole Irish representation might be swamped and silenced by half the House. I think the Irish might make some play here by insisting on the distinction between wanton obstruction—stoppage of imperial measures and paralysis of the House—and obstruction on their own exclusive ground. Wanton obstruction cannot be tolerated in a Parliament that legislates for one-fifth of mankind, although it was the method by which Rome acquired liberty. But the Resolution makes even local obstruction impossible to the unanimous people of Ireland. It establishes a degree of subjection that did not exist before. As the test of liberty is the position and security of minorities, it has to encounter a very grave objection which is not felt in Mr. Gladstone's time, but might be, under men like Harcourt, or the late Lord Derby, or George Grenville.

As the police[83 ] are responsible, I hope Mr. Gladstone will always be ready to listen to their advice. But he knows very well that it is the function of the police to take fright, and to wish to be very much indeed on the safe side.

I am glad you saw more of Lubbock, and liked him better. He has astonishing attainments, and a power of various work that I always envy. And he is gentle to the verge of weakness. He has something to learn on the gravest side of human knowledge; apart from that he would execute his own scheme[84 ] better than almost anybody. How I should like to see my own List of Authorities drawn up by you! There was a Pope who said that fifty books would include every good idea in the world. Literature has doubled since then, and one would have to take a hundred. How interesting it would be to get that question answered by one's most intelligent acquaintances: Winton,[85 ] Dunelm,[86 ] Church, Stanley, Liddon, Max Müller, Jowett, Lowell, Freeman, Lecky, Morley, Maine, Argyll, Tennyson, Newman, W. E. G., Paget,[87 ] Sherbrooke, Arnold, Stephen, Goldwin Smith, Hutton, Pattison, Jebb, Symonds, and very few others. There would be a surprising agreement. One is generally tempted to give a preference to writers whose influence one has felt. But that is often accidental. It is by accident, by the accident that I read Coleridge first, that Carlyle never did me any good. If I had spoken of him it would not have been from the fulness of the heart. Excepting Froude, I think him the most detestable of historians. The doctrine of heroes, the doctrine that will is above law, comes next in atrocity to the doctrine that the flag covers the goods, that the cause justifies its agents, which is what Froude lives for. Carlyle's robust mental independence is not the same thing as originality. The Germans love him because he is an echo of the voices of their own classic age. He lived on the thought of Germany when it was not at its best, between Herder and Richter, before the age of discipline and science. Germany since 1840 is very different from that which inspired him; and his conception of its teaching was a grotesque anachronism. It gave him his most valuable faculty, that of standing aside from the current of contemporary English ideas, and looking at it from an Archimedean point, but it gave him no rule for judging, no test of truth, no definite conviction, no certain method and no sure conclusion. But he had historic grasp—which is a rare quality—some sympathy with things that are not evident, and a vague, fluctuating notion of the work of impersonal forces. There is a flash of genius in "Past and Present," and in the "French Revolution," though it is a wretched history. And he invented Oliver Cromwell. That is the positive result of him, that, and his personal influence over many considerable minds—a stimulating, not a guiding influence; as when Stanley asked what he ought to do, and Carlyle answered: "Do your best!" You see that I agree with the judgment of the Times  (outer sheet); and the Daily News, preferring him to Macaulay and G. Eliot, and constructively to Mill or Newman or Morley, seems to me ridiculous. I should speak differently if, reading him earlier, I had learned from him instead of Coleridge the lesson of intellectual detachment.

*****

How could you read Laveleye's foolish letters? Pray don't believe him. His speech about Herbert Spencer is an after-thought. He said he thought him inferior to Mill; the rest is padding. As he has emptied his sack of compliments on me I am sorry to think of the other things you would have him say, for they must be in the other key. Have you read the Nineteenth Century  on Liberal Philosophy?[88 ] Mr. Gladstone certainly would not allow the definition of Liberalism attributed to him to stand alone. My book begins with 100 definitions,[89 ] but that is not to be one of them, and I wish I knew of one fit to stand in your father's name.

The royal dinner-party was evidently a high success, and, apart from royalty, I was glad to think of Derby frequenting Downing Street. I hope his time will come soon, although when he and Goschen are in the Cabinet I am afraid I shall lose my tenant at Prince's Gate....

[76 ] The obstruction of the Peace Preservation Bill, which ended in the autocratic intervention of the Speaker, and the removal of the Irish Members from the House.

[77 ] Sir Arthur Godley, at that time private secretary to Mr. Gladstone.

[78 ] Sir Erskine May.

[79 ] The Jacobite description of the mole whose burrowings caused the death of William the Third by making his horse stumble.

[80 ] The Comte de Serre was a Minister under Louis XVIII., and a leader of the Moderate Royalists after the Restoration.

[81 ] Sir John Lubbock's.

[82 ] For closing debate.

[83 ] At this period shadowing Mr. Gladstone's movements.

[84 ] Sir John Lubbock, in conversation with Miss Gladstone, complained of the lack of a guide or supreme authority in the choice of books. She suggested Lord Acton, and mentioned this talk in writing to him.

[85 ] Harold Browne.

[86 ] Lightfoot.

[87 ] Sir James Paget, the great surgeon.

[88 ] By Robert Wallace, afterwards M.P. for East Edinburgh. The definition, "trust in the people, tempered by prudence," was laid down by Mr. Gladstone himself in a speech at Oxford in 1877.

[89 ] Of Liberty.