February 16

Cloudy with a furious wind—in fact one of the most terrific gales of the winter—so piercing it's impossible to keep warm in our huts; have called on Mrs. G. E. Davis and Mrs. Ezra Stetson. All hands have been to prayer meeting this evening but me, and I have been studying; am stopping with Captain Samuel Darrah now; wind still high.

February 16, 1863

In the hospital after all. Dr. Andrus came last night to our tent and ordered me into the house I spoke of. I had a warm, dry bed and a good night's rest and feel much better to-day. The doctor has his office downstairs and the upstairs part is crammed full of sick men. A big tent is being put up and cot beds put in to put the fever patients in. Captain Bostwick was married last night, so it is said. Corporal Knox died in a fit this afternoon. It tires me to write so I must stop. Good-night.

February Sixteenth

A chicken that had done duty at a previous repast was set before the Rev. Scervant Jones, the first Baptist preacher of Williamsburg, Virginia, at the tavern of a Mr. Howl. Upon which the Reverend gentleman pronounced the following blessing:

“Good Lord of love
Look down from above,
And bless the 'Owl
Who ate this fowl
And left these bones
For Scervant Jones.”


Fort Donelson surrenders, 1862



Shrove Tuesday.—We were all day coming up yesterday. Got to B. in the middle of the night, and went on again to St Omer, where we woke this morning, so we missed our mails again; it will be a full week's mails when we do get them. Lovely blue sky to-day. Had a walk with Sister B. round the town, and now this afternoon we are on the way to Poperinghe, in a beaten country, where we haven't been for three months. French class due at 3 p.m. if we haven't got there by then.

We have just passed a graveyard absolutely packed with little wooden crosses.

261. John Adams

Paris, Hotel de Valois, 16 February, 1780.

My dearest Friend,—I have the honor to be lodged here with no less a personage than the Prince of Hesse Cassel, who is here upon a visit. We occupy different apartments in the same house, and have no intercourse with each other, to be sure; but some wags are of opinion that if I were authorized to open a negotiation with him, I might obtain from him as many troops to fight on our side of the question as he has already hired out to the English against us.

I have found everything agreeable here as yet. The children are happy in their academy, of which I send you the plan inclosed.

The English bounce a great deal about obtaining seven thousand troops from the petty German princes and ten thousand from Ireland, to send to America, but this is only a repetition of their annual gasconade. We are in pain for Charleston, S. C., being apprehensive that they have made or will make an effort to obtain that; which will be a terrible misfortune to that people, and a great loss to the United States, but will be no lasting advantage to our enemies.

The channel of correspondence you propose, by way of Bilbao and Cadiz, will bring many letters, no doubt, and I have received one of the 10th of December, but the postage is so expensive, being obliged to pay forty-four livres for the packet that came with yours, that I would not advise you to send anything that way, unless it be a single letter or anything material in the journals of Congress, or letters from my friends in Congress or elsewhere, that contain anything particularly interesting. The house of Joseph Gardoqui and Sons have sent to you, by Captain Babson, of Newburyport, belonging to Mr. Tracy, some necessaries for the family, and you may write to Mr. Gardoqui for anything you want by any vessel belonging to your uncle, to Mr. Jackson, or Mr. Tracy, provided you don't exceed one hundred dollars by any one vessel. Mr. Gardoqui will readily send them and draw upon me for the money.

I had a great deal of pleasure in the acquaintance of this family of Guardoquis, and was treated by them with the magnificence of a prince. They will be very glad to be useful to you in anything they can do. You will remember, however, that we have many children, and that our duty to them requires that we should manage all our affairs with the strictest economy. My journey through Spain has been infinitely expensive to me, and exceeded far my income. It is very expensive here, and I fear that I shall find it difficult to make both ends meet; but I must and will send you something for necessary use by every opportunity. If Mr. Lovell does not procure me the resolution of Congress I mentioned to him, that of drawing on a certain gentleman or his banker, I shall soon be starved out. Pray mention it to him.

I shall write as often as possible, but conveyances will be very rare, I fear.

I am, as I ever was and ever shall be,
Yours, yours, yours.

February 16

February 16, 1874.--The multitude, who already possess force, and even, according to the Republican view, right, have always been persuaded by the Cleons of the day that enlightenment, wisdom, thought, and reason, are also theirs. The game of these conjurors and quacks of universal suffrage has always been to flatter the crowd in order to make an instrument of it. They pretend to adore the puppet of which they pull the threads.

The theory of radicalism is a piece of juggling, for it supposes premises of which it knows the falsity; it manufactures the oracle whose revelations it pretends to adore; it proclaims that the multitude creates a brain for itself, while all the time it is the clever man who is the brain of the multitude, and suggests to it what it is supposed to invent. To reign by flattery has been the common practice of the courtiers of all despotisms, the favorites of all tyrants; it is an old and trite method, but none the less odious for that.

The honest politician should worship nothing but reason and justice, and it is his business to preach them to the masses, who represent, on an average, the age of childhood and not that of maturity. We corrupt childhood if we tell it that it cannot be mistaken, and that it knows more than its elders. We corrupt the masses when we tell them that they are wise and far-seeing and possess the gift of infallibility.

It is one of Montesquieu's subtle remarks, that the more wise men you heap together the less wisdom you will obtain. Radicalism pretends that the greater number of illiterate, passionate, thoughtless--above all, young people, you heap together, the greater will be the enlightenment resulting. The second thesis is no doubt the repartee to the first, but the joke is a bad one. All that can be got from a crowd is instinct or passion; the instinct may be good, but the passion may be bad, and neither is the instinct capable of producing a clear idea, nor the passion of leading to a just resolution.

A crowd is a material force, and the support of numbers gives a proposition the force of law; but that wise and ripened temper of mind which takes everything into account, and therefore tends to truth, is never engendered by the impetuosity of the masses. The masses are the material of democracy, but its form--that is to say, the laws which express the general reason, justice, and utility--can only be rightly shaped by wisdom, which is by no means a universal property. The fundamental error of the radical theory is to confound the right to do good with good itself, and universal suffrage with universal wisdom. It rests upon a legal fiction, which assumes a real equality of enlightenment and merit among those whom it declares electors. It is quite possible, however, that these electors may not desire the public good, and that even if they do, they may be deceived as to the manner of realizing it. Universal suffrage is not a dogma--it is an instrument; and according to the population in whose hands it is placed, the instrument is serviceable or deadly to the proprietor.

February 16

February 16, 1868.--I have been finishing About's "Mainfroy (Les Mariages de Province)." What subtlety, what cleverness, what verve, what aplomb ! About is a master of epithet, of quick, light-winged satire. For all his cavalier freedom of manner, his work is conceived at bottom in a spirit of the subtlest irony, and his detachment of mind is so great that he is able to make sport of everything, to mock at others and himself, while all the time amusing himself extremely with his own ideas and inventions. This is indeed the characteristic mark, the common signature, so to speak, of esprit like his.

Irrepressible mischief, indefatigable elasticity, a power of luminous mockery, delight in the perpetual discharge of innumerable arrows from an inexhaustible quiver, the unquenchable laughter of some little earth-born demon, perpetual gayety, and a radiant force of epigram--there are all these in the true humorist. Stulti sunt innumerabiles, said Erasmus, the patron of all these dainty mockers. Folly, conceit, foppery, silliness, affectation, hypocrisy, attitudinizing and pedantry of all shades, and in all forms, everything that poses, prances, bridles, struts, bedizens, and plumes itself, everything that takes itself seriously and tries to impose itself on mankind--all this is the natural prey of the satirist, so many targets ready for his arrows, so many victims offered to his attack. And we all know how rich the world is in prey of this kind! An alderman's feast of folly is served up to him in perpetuity; the spectacle of society offers him an endless noce de Gamache. [Footnote: Noce de Gamache --"repas très somptueux."--Littré. The allusion, of course, is to Don Quixote, Part II. chap. xx.--"Donde se cuentan las bodas de Bamacho el rico, con el suceso de Basilio el pobre."] With what glee he raids through his domains, and what signs of destruction and massacre mark the path of the sportsman! His hand is infallible like his glance. The spirit of sarcasm lives and thrives in the midst of universal wreck; its balls are enchanted and itself invulnerable, and it braves retaliations and reprisals because itself is a mere flash, a bodiless and magical nothing.

Clever men will recognize and tolerate nothing but cleverness; every authority rouses their ridicule, every superstition amuses them, every convention moves them to contradiction. Only force finds favor in their eyes, and they have no toleration for anything that is not purely natural and spontaneous. And yet ten clever men are not worth one man of talent, nor ten men of talent worth one man of genius. And in the individual, feeling is more than cleverness, reason is worth as much as feeling, and conscience has it over reason. If, then, the clever man is not mockable, he may at least be neither loved, nor considered, nor esteemed. He may make himself feared, it is true, and force others to respect his independence; but this negative advantage, which is the result of a negative superiority, brings no happiness with it. Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing.

Cannes Feb. 16, 1881

Your kindness to B—— is like nothing but yourself—not only for procuring him his innings so opportunely, but for interpreting so generously his perplexity and irresolution. I dare say you are right to lay the blame on me. It will be very amusing to get remonstrances from bewildered friends, and I think I shall have to write to Arthur Russell, as the most inquisitive and idle of them all, and therefore the best to trust with a secret that is to be told. For pray believe that there is no real truth in the report.

I paired for the Government with Lord Limerick against.[90 ] No doubt, if he was present and voted, he would support the bill. Therefore, in balancing or neutralising his vote, I am virtually pairing with a supporter, not an opponent, and am myself practically opposing. But that is only my metaphysical commentary, founded on the fact that an Irish Conservative is sure to like the bill much better than I do. There is no understanding of the kind between us, and neither of us mentioned this particular measure to the other. I am simply in Cork's list, paired with a good Tory. And it all comes to nothing, for none of us expect a division on the second reading.

The only people with whom I need disclaim the impeachment would be Morley & Co., as I should only be making Radical capital out of a little joke. The joke consisting in your representing me as a worse enemy to Ministers than all the Tories and half the Irish.

I made out in the autumn that Blennerhassett laid a good deal of blame on Forster's want of flexibility of mind and of coup d'oeil. I dare say he is quite right. There is evident truth in one remark you quote. The excuse for agitation is by no means always its cause; and I would not be too hopeful of the effects even of the most perfect or most popular Land Bill. Ultramontane priests will never, permanently, be on the side of the State. To nurse their own influence and the religious faith of the people, they always magnify antagonism and persecution, which implies denunciation of antagonists and persecutors. And there are deeper reasons still, why it is useless to apply to Irish measures the usual test of success. However, I am more often angry with our clergy for absolutism than for revolution, so that I will say no more....

I never knew Amalie v. Lasaulx; but her brother was one of the best friends I ever had. For two years I followed his lectures on ancient literature, philosophy, &c., and he left his library to me when he died. His whole mind was occupied with religious ideas and studies; but it was an intellectual religiousness, without a notion of a church or any fervour of prayer. His sister had his independence of mind and the same generous idealism, and a humble piety which he had not, and which is remarkably rare among intellectual Germans.

... The Speaker[91 ] seems to be a physician as well as a statesman. The victory over the disturbing Irish must bring your father immense relief. It is twenty-one years since I met him at Brighton, horribly jaded, and getting rapid baths of sea-air. I hope he will benefit this time.

You will have seen Scherer on Carlyle. The passage in Monday's Pall Mall, exalting Arnold at his expense, only shows that his[92 ] burlesque language provoked the rigid and highly white-chokered critic. Froude will be a worthy biographer for so unscrupulous a hero.

[90 ] On the Peace Preservation Bill.

[91 ] Mr. Brand, afterwards Lord Hampden.

[92 ] Carlyle's.