February 2

La Madeleine Cannes Feb. 2, 1883

I wonder whether you would come to lunch to-morrow, Saturday? Perhaps I could inscribe in your most private book the list of the hundred works that have most influenced human history.

A cloudy morning. The sick have gone to the general hospital to-day which indicates a general move; started for picket at 9 a. m.; fine marching; arrived on the line about 12 noon; heavy wind all afternoon; am in command of Company G on picket; have had a thunderstorm this evening. All's quiet on the picket line to-night.

February Second

MAURY'S LAST WISH

“Home—bear me home, at last,” he said,
“And lay me where my dead are lying,
But not while skies are overspread,
And mournful wintry winds are sighing.

“When the sky, the air, the grass,
Sweet Nature all, is glad and tender,
Then bear me through ‘The Goshen Pass'
Amid its flush of May-day splendor.”
Margaret J. Preston

 

 

February 2

February 2d.--Still the Monologues. Critically I defended myself enough against them yesterday; I may abandon myself now, without scruple and without danger, to the admiration and the sympathy with which they inspire me. This life so proudly independent, this sovereign conception of human dignity, this actual possession of the universe and the infinite, this perfect emancipation from all which passes, this calm sense of strength and superiority, this invincible energy of will, this infallible clearness of self-vision, this autocracy of the consciousness which is its own master, all these decisive marks of a royal personality of a nature Olympian, profound, complete, harmonious, penetrate the mind with joy and heart with gratitude. What a life! what a man! These glimpses into the inner regions of a great soul do one good. Contact of this kind strengthens, restores, refreshes. Courage returns as we gaze; when we see what has been, we doubt no more that it can be again. At the sight of a man we too say to ourselves, let us also be men.

152. John Adams

Baltimore, 2 February, 1777.

Last evening we arrived safe in this town, after the longest journey and through the worst roads and the worst weather that I have ever experienced. My horses performed extremely well.

Baltimore is a very pretty town, situated on Patapsco River, which empties itself into the great bay of Chesapeake. The inhabitants are all good Whigs, having some time ago banished all the Tories from among them. The streets are very dirty and miry, but everything else is agreeable, except the monstrous prices of things. We cannot get a horse kept under a guinea a week. Our friends are well.

The Continental army is filling up fast, here and in Virginia. I pray that the Massachusetts may not fail of its quota in season. In this journey we have crossed four mighty rivers: Connecticut, Hudson, Delaware, and Susquehannah. The two first we crossed upon the ice, the two last in boats; the last we crossed a little above the place where it empties into Chesapeake Bay.

I think I have never been better pleased with any of our American States than with Maryland. We saw most excellent farms all along the road, and what was more striking to me, I saw more sheep and flax in Maryland than I ever saw in riding a like distance in any other State. We scarce passed a farm without seeing a fine flock of sheep, and scarce a house without seeing men or women dressing flax. Several times we saw women breaking and swingling this necessary article.

I have been to meeting and heard my old acquaintance, Mr. Allison, a worthy clergyman of this town, whom I have often seen in Philadelphia.

February 2, 1917

I had hardly sent my last letter to the post when news came that the 23d Dragoons had arrived safely at their new cantonnement, but here is the letter, which will tell the story. Sorry that you insist on having these things in English—they are so very much prettier in French.

With the Army, January 29
Dear Madame,

Bravo for the pretty idea you had in flinging to the winter breezes the tri-colored flag in honor of our departure. All the soldiers marching out of Voisins saw the colors and were deeply touched. Let me bear witness to their gratitude.

How I regret La Creste. One never knows how happy he is until afterward. I am far from comfortably installed here. I am lodged in an old deserted château. There are no fires, and we are literally refrigerated. However, we shall not stay long, as I am returning to the trenches in a day or two. It will hardly be warm there, but I shall have less time to remember how much more than comfortable I was at Huiry.

We made a fairly decent trip to this place, but I assure you that, in spite of my "extreme youth," I was near to being frozen en route. We were so cold that finally the whole regiment had to dismount and proceed on foot in the hope of warming up a bit. We were all, in the end, sad, cross, and grumbly. You had spoiled us all at Huiry and Voisins. For my part I longed to curse someone for having ordered such a change of base as this, in such weather. Wasn't I well enough off where I was, toasting myself before your nice fire, and drinking my tea comfortably every afternoon?

However, we are working tremendously for the coming offensive. And I hope it will be the final one, for the Germans are beginning to show signs of fatigue. News comes to us from the interior, from a reliable source, which indicates that the situation on the other side of the Rhine is anything but calm. More than ever now must we hang on, for the victory is almost within our clutch.

Accept, madame, the assurance of my most respectful homage,

So you see, we were all too previous in expecting the offensive. The cavalry is not yet really mounted for action. But we hope all the same.

The 118th is slowly settling down, but I'll tell you about that later.

La Madeleine Feb. 2, 1881

There is no way of describing the light and the joy which your letters bring to this place of exile, with all the reality of the old country, and with the ideal which belongs only to you and yours. I was hoping that you had heard the glorious speech.[71 ] It must have been a treat for you; and we saw at once, from our Pall Mall  itself, how profound the impression had been. My imaginary listener, if he had listened, might not have remained unconverted. Certainly, as you say, the strongest confirmation of both speech and policy is the attitude of these ill-conditioned Irishmen. As I have paired with Lord Limerick (who has married a Miss Colquhoun of Cannes, and prefers bondage at his father-in-law's villa to the protection of the land-league in his ancestral domain, and who would support the Bill), I have virtually paired against it, and am, I dare say, the only peer on that side, unless Henry Stanley[72 ] escapes from Clare, where he is detained, under pretence of Boycotting, by the transparent artifices of friends....

I was prepared to believe the Standard  account by a visit from Wolverton, who offered to show me his last letter from Downing Street, and I told him I thought he could do it. He was delighted to find the Hawarden photograph at Cannes. You will not see him for a fortnight, unless he lost all his money to-day at Monte Carlo. He deserves to lose it. He wants a strong Coercion Bill and an illusory Land Bill; but his party and personal loyalty make up for much obdurate deafness to the Morley predications.

I am very much obliged indeed for your message about Trevelyan. I talked about bringing in outsiders, and men not of one's own politics; and I spoke of Trollope and Morley in the former capacity, and of Goschen in the latter. Trollope is condemned as noisy. There are obvious objections to a newspaper editor, and the particular Lyttelton objection was urged, in a letter to me, by Reeve.[73 ] Derby and Arthur Russell put forward G.O.,[74 ] and I leave Goschen in the lurch until he answers my letter from Paris pointing out the error of his ways; but I hope you will be gracious to him before he goes. Goschen is above sordid motives. He dreads the Radicals, detests ——, despises ——, and, if left to himself and the nearest influences, he will drift away. His lips have never been touched with the sacred fire of Liberty. His international soul has never glowed with the zeal of the good old cause. He is moved by the fears to which City men are prone, and there are people more calculating than he is, who work those fears, partly to check the Government, partly to provide a new chief for the Opposition. Nobody can keep him straight but Mr. Gladstone. There is nothing present to offer him, as I take it for granted that one Budget will not satisfy his—the P.M.'s—vast financial designs. But he can employ the plan of Napoleon, who said to reluctant tribunes: "Que ne venez vous discuter avec moi, dans mon Cabinet? Nous aurions des conversations de famille." It is not a profound constitutional view of the uses of an opposition; but there is a hint in it for Mr. Gladstone, who underrates his own power over men in private. The bill as sketched by the Standard  will strengthen his hold on Goschen.

Chamberlain has been often as indiscreet as the theory he expounded to F. Cavendish implies, but he can hardly have prompted the Standard.

I am glad to think of Dizzy dining at No. 18. I wonder whether it is because Lord Granville has heard he is Rowchester.[75 ] Your choice of topics shows how you were on your guard with Sir Bartle. The true thing about him is the strength, not the softness. I know that many have been taken in by that assumed quality, and much resented it. The right place for him would be in Asia Minor.

If you were to see those letters you would say that Burne-Jones is not the only hand at missing a likeness; but in politics you would recognise exactly what must have been your impression, that I had strung my expectations a little above practicable height, and came down with anguish to the baseness of prose—like the heroine of my dreams (I mean Dorothea, not the lady whose name is in your letter).

I fear there is a perceptible change for the worse in Cardwell.

[71 ] On the introduction of the new rules of Procedure after the expulsion of the Irish Members.

[72 ] The late Lord Stanley of Alderley.

[73 ] The Editor of the Edinburgh Review.

[74 ] Trevelyan.

[75 ] In "Endymion."

Cuttack, February 2, 1843

JOURNEY TO CUTTACK.

I must return now, and give you some account of how we started for this place from Balasore. On Sunday the 8th of January we had service in the morning; and at four in the afternoon we entered our palkees to proceed to Cuttack, a distance of 103 miles.

Throughout the journey not a single European is to be met with, but the traveller is entirely in the power of the natives, excepting such assistance as he can derive from his pistols and a thick stick. The danger however is not great. The Ooriahs, as well as the Bengalese, are a small and cowardly race; so much so, indeed, that the East India Company will not allow them to be enlisted as soldiers. A Bengalee of five feet six is quite a tall man, and in shape he is as delicate and effeminate as a European lady.

We jogged on most merrily until about half-past five the next morning, when I was awakened by hearing "Sahib, Sahib;" to which I sleepily answered by inquiring what my servant wanted. He told me we were arrived at Barripore, about fifty miles from Balasore, and they wanted to know whether I meant to go to the dâk-bungalow. I said Yes: for we had determined to remain at Barripore all day, as it is not safe to travel in the sun even in January. To the bungalow we accordingly went; where we eat, drank, and read books which we had brought with us, and amused ourselves as well as we could, until four in the afternoon, when off we started again. I only remember one adventure which happened there. My wife wanted to wash her hands, and took up a "gomlah" to pour out some water; suddenly she cried out that she was stung. I ran to see what it was, and, examining the gomlah, found she had been bitten by a hornet. In comparison with other insects the sting of this creature is an object of very little dread. Her hand, however, swelled a little, and for three or four hours she suffered a good deal of pain all up her arm, but still it was fortunately only a hornet. At four o'clock in the afternoon we again started, and arrived at our own house in Cuttack at about eight the next morning.

It is customary at the end of each stage to make the palkees a present of four annas (or sixpence) for each palkee. During one of the stages between Barripore and Cuttack the men did not go so quickly as I thought they should have done; so when we changed men I only gave them four annas for the two palkees, telling them why I did so. The consequence was, that during the next stage the men not only went much faster, but invented a new song, the whole burthen of which was, "He has only given them four annas because they went so slowly! Let us make haste and go along quickly, and then we shall get eight annas and have a good supper."

FRUIT-TREES.

My house here belongs to Government, and I am in great hope they will allow me to occupy it free of rent; it is the best in the cantonment, the compound contains about twenty acres, and there are in it several beautiful clumps of trees. In front of the house is a fine group of cedars; in one part is a hill, on the top of which are several trees: I do not yet know their names, but their foliage is of a bright green, more bright than any ever seen in England. We have an orchard containing mangoes, custard-apples, waunpearls, mulberries, guavas, &c. &c., with one chur-tree—that is, the true India-rubber tree, and, I believe, the only one in this part of India; that at Jelasore is a very inferior sort.

ALLIGATORS.

We have a grand house in the compound, and have, besides, a flower-garden with orange and lemon trees, &c. A river three miles broad flows near, and a ghaut, or landing-place, for pilgrims proceeding to Juggernat'h, a Hindu holy temple. We can see in the distance a range of hills, rising abruptly from the other side of the river, which are a continuation of those at Balasore. On the sands are storks, wild-geese, and all sorts of aquatic birds; even all the tanks here abound with alligators. The other day one of the officers was returning home from mess; it was dark, and in his compound he fell over something which proved to be a large alligator, making its way from the river to a tank, probably with a view of there depositing her eggs. About three weeks ago a poor woman went to fetch water from one of these places, on the surface of which were weeds; she was engaged in clearing a space with her hands, when one of these animals, with its jaws open, caught her arm and stripped off all the flesh below the elbow. She was compelled to have her arm amputated.

HUMAN REMAINS.

I saw to-day a large hyæna gliding across the compound. I suppose he smelt some dead body on the beach. The Juggernat'h pilgrims come from very great distances, and many die on the road. In my compound alone, if I were to collect the skulls, bones, &c., I think I could make up eight or ten human skeletons. The other evening one of my servants came to me, and said, "If you please, sir, there is a dead pilgrim in the compound, and the matee wants to know if he shall throw it away;"—that is, throw it down on the bank for the jackals, &c. I would not let him do this, but sent notice to the commanding officer, who sent for the body, and, I suppose, threw it away. About two hours after this my wife was gone to bed, and I was sitting reading, when I felt something on my foot; I examined, and in my stocking found a large centipede. I contrived to kill him without being stung.

The Government allow me a guard of soldiers; and a sentry, with musket and bayonet, parades up and down the front verandah; they also allow three servants for the use of the church. The soldiers present arms to me and salute; and when any one comes at night, they call out, "Hookum dar?" to which the answer is "Exprin:" these phrases are corruptions of the English. The church is very nicely fitted up; there is a door leading into it from my study, which serves on Sundays as a vestry. The greatest inconvenience here—as in all the churches in India—consists in the punkahs. Over the pulpit, altar, and reading-desk are three small punkahs, and over the body of the building three very large ones, extending over the whole breadth. These are kept constantly in motion, and they sadly intercept the voice of whoever is preaching. The house, being a bungalow, has, of course, only the ground-floor; the roof is a thick thatch, extending over the verandahs, which in England would be called porticoes, and these are supported on thick white columns. The ceilings in a bungalow are nothing but large sheets of canvass whitewashed. As in India people are glad to keep all the doors within the house open, there is placed between the different rooms a framework covered with crimson or green silk, which the natives call a half-door. The beds are nine or ten feet wide, with short posts, on which you may hang mosquito-curtains, which are a sort of large sacks made of gauze, without any opening. They are supported on the posts and tucked in closely all round, so as to prevent the mosquitoes from stinging the people in bed; the only covering, generally, is a sheet, and the gentleman's sleeping-dress is a flannel jacket and a pair of calico drawers with feet to them, to keep off the mosquitoes if they should by chance get inside the curtains. Some people also throw a gauze over the face for the same purpose. There are no feather-beds, but the mattresses are generally stuffed with the fibres from the outside rind of the cocoa-nut, called "coir.". The usual plan is to leave the glass doors (French windows you would call them) all open, but to shut the Venetian blinds, and to have a punkah over your head going all night. At about six in the morning all the glass doors are closed, and kept shut all day to exclude the hot air. If, however, there should be any wind, one of them is opened and a tattie hung up in its place; the tattie is a thick mat the size of the doorway, made of the sweet-scented cuscus-grass; this is kept constantly wetted on the outside.

THE MOHURRUN—POSITION OF CUTTACK.

From the 1st to the 11th of February is the Mohammedan festival of the Mohurrun, which is a grand scene. Every night drums beat, and dancing and merrymaking are kept up among the men only, as the Mohammedan women are kept in seclusion. In the compound the other day I saw about a dozen men, one of them thumping away on the horrible native drum called a "tomtom." Two others held by heavy chains a tall sepoy (this word means a native soldier, and ought to be spelt "sepahi"), who was covered all over with a dress of calico, fitting tight to the skin—so much so that at first I thought he was naked. The calico was painted in alternate stripes of red and yellow, and he had two little yellow horns. I imagine it must have been intended to represent the devil conquered and chained by Mohammed. He made a number of antics, and ended, as all these people do, in begging for a few pice; I gave him three annas. The station of Cuttack is situated on a small island formed by the confluence of two rivers; during the hot weather this island becomes a peninsula joined to the main land by a narrow neck of sand. The advantage of this insular position is that, whilst we abound in alligators, we are free from bears and tigers, neither have we so many pariah-dogs as there were about Midnapore. The opposite bank swarms with tigers, and with a small telescope we can sometimes see them coming down to drink by moonlight. On the opposite bank, all round the island, except to the south, rise the rugged hills which dropped from Vishna's fingers. There is one great comfort here: the sea is about fifty miles from us, in a straight line towards the south, and every evening, at about five o'clock, a deliciously cool sea-breeze sets in from that direction. About seven it becomes quite gusty, and continues to blow until about one in the morning. It is necessary to have lived in such a climate as this to know how truly luxurious such evenings are after the intense heat of the day, which is now rapidly increasing; the thermometer in the shade is about 82° or 84°, and this is only the beginning of February.

FORT OF CUTTACK.

A walk round the compound early in the morning is quite delightful. On each tree are three or four of the beautiful little striped squirrels, whilst in the branches are many paroquets, parrots, &c. All about on the ground are numbers of a bird of a bright green, with a red breast and head, about the size of a love-bird, and very much like it, except that the beak is straight and rather long, and from the centre of the tail project two long straight feathers of a reddish green. There is also the beautiful mango-bird with its bright yellow plumage and its glossy black head. Occasionally may be seen an alligator lying asleep, with his head and shoulders on the bank and the rest of his body in the water, while a lung-bird has just alighted on his head and twitters to its mate by the side of the tank. They are about the size of the amadavad, but shaped like the swallow, and their plumage is alternately a glossy black or a deep crimson, according as the sun shines on it. Then there is the India-rubber tree, and skulls bleached in the sun. I saw one with its little teeth in the front that had not yet pierced the gums: they are the second teeth, and the skull, which is very small, must have belonged to a mere child. The house belongs to Government, and there are therefore three wells in the compound; but the water is not good. The plan for watering this large orchard and garden is as follows:—From the edge of the wall to the cistern is a wooden trough, into which the water is thrown as it is drawn from the well. By this means the cistern is filled. A brick gutter runs from the cistern and separates it into so many branches; round each bed and every here and there are little openings which let the water run out on the bed. Suppose they only want to water one, they just take up a little earth in a spade and stop up the other branches of the gutter. Whenever it crosses a path, it is carried underneath by means of a small drain. The muller takes two long bamboos, having at one end a heavy weight and at the other a large gomlah suspended by a cord. One muller pulls one cord downward to make the gomlah reach the water, the other fills the gomlah, and, letting go the cord at the other end of the bamboo, draws it up. This work proceeds with great rapidity, and so the cistern gets filled and the garden watered. At a very short distance from our garden stand the remains of a fort. When the English took Cuttack this fort was garrisoned by the Mahrattas. They, however, soon gave it up. The angles of the bastion were rectangles, which prevents it being so strong as if they had been obtuse angles, for then the balls would have had a tendency to glance off; but its great strength consists in the ditch, which is about a hundred or a hundred and fifty yards wide, with the perpendicular side faced with bricks, full of water and swarming with alligators. The water is most foul and offensive, but the medical men say that, if they were to empty and drain it, it would make for many months a most fearful pestilence. The natives have offered us 30,000 l. to be allowed to drain it, because they say there is a vast quantity of treasure in it.

ORIGIN OF THE MOHURRUN.

I have just learned the origin of the Mohurrun. It is a festival, or rather commemoration of the death of Hussein and Houssein, the sons of Ali, Mohammed's nephew. These two were pursued towards the desert by their enemies; they took shelter in a well, and a spider immediately wove a web across the top. Their enemies came up, and, seeing the web, thought that Houssein and Hussein could not be in the well. However, one of them looking down observed a number of lizards all hastening up the sides, so then they thought there must be some one at the bottom who frightened the lizards, and, searching, they got up the two brothers and killed them. It is to commemorate this fact that they have instituted the festival of the Mohurrun, and inconsequence the Mohammedans all reverence the spider, while they kill the lizard.

The fort here is of great extent, comprising, I should think, at least 100 acres. The walls have been demolished, and a great portion of the interior is now occupied by a botanical garden and a racket-court.

The winds have risen to-day with tumultuous fury, as though they had been long confined and in one fearful moment had burst their prison-house. There is something very grand, though awful, in these furious tempest-bursts within the tropics. A few minutes back not a leaf rustled; now the trees are waving to and fro, small branches are whirled into the air, and leaves and rubbish are carried far away by the revolving eddies of almost a hurricane. I could scarcely see the river through the volumes of sand which are tossing about mixed with the spray.