February 23

A very pleasant day, but lonely in camp; dancing in the chapel this evening; moon shining brightly, and not a breath of air stirring, but for all this I can't study; no letters from home; all's quiet as midnight save the music in the chapel.

February Twenty-Third

Won in the Name of Virginia; Governor Patrick Henry to Colonel George Rogers Clark:

“You are to retain the Command of the troops now at the several posts in the county of Illinois and on the Wabash, which fall within the limits of the County now erected and called Illinois County.... You are also to take the Command of five other Companies, raised under the act of Assembly which I send herewith, and which if completed, as I hope they will be speedily, will have orders to join you without loss of time, and are likewise to be under your command.... The honor and interest of the State are deeply concerned in this.”


George Rogers Clark appears before Vincennes, 1779

Battle of Buena Vista; Col. Jefferson Davis wounded, 1847

Mississippi readmitted to the Union, 1870



262. John Adams

Paris, Hotel de Valois,
Rue de Richelieu, 23 February, 1780.

My dearest Friend,—The children made me a visit to-day, and went with me to dine with my old friends, the two Abbés, whom you have often heard me mention, Chalut and Arnoux, who desire me to mention them to you in my letters as devoted friends of America, and particular friends to me and to you, notwithstanding the difference of religion. The children are still in good health and spirits, and well pleased with their academy. Ah! how much pain have these young gentlemen cost me within these three months! The mountains, the cold, the mules, the houses without chimneys or windows, the—I will not add. I wish for a painter to draw me and my company mounted on muleback, or riding in the calèches, or walking, for we walked one third of the way. Yet by the help of constant care and expense, I have been able to get them all safe to Paris. The other moiety of the family is quite as near my heart, and therefore I hope they will never be ramblers. I am sick of rambling. If I could transport the other moiety across the Atlantic with a wish, and be sure of returning them, when it should become necessary, in the same manner, how happy should I be!

I have been received here with much cordiality, and am daily visited by characters who do me much honor. Some day or other you will know, I believe, but I had better not say at present. Your friend the Comte d'Estaing, however, I ought to mention, because you have been acquainted with him. I have dined with him, and he has visited me and I him, and I hope to have many more conversations with him, for public reasons, not private, for on a private account great men and little are much alike to me.

Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard are going home in the Alliance, and, I hope, will make you a visit. How many vicissitudes they are to experience, as well as I and all the rest of our countrymen, I know not. The events of politics are not less uncertain than those of war. Whatever they may be, I shall be content. Of one thing I am pretty sure, that if I return again safe to America, I shall be happy the remainder of my days, because I shall stay at home, and at home I must be to be happy. There is no improbability that I may be obliged to come home again soon, for want of means to stay here. I hope, however, care will be taken that something may be done to supply us. My tenderest affection to Abby and Tommy. They are better off than their brothers, after all. I have been taking measures to send home your things. I hope to succeed by the Alliance. It shall not be my fault, if I do not. If I cannot send by her, I will wait for another frigate, if it is a year, for I have no confidence in other vessels.

Yours, forever yours.

February 23

February 23, 1870.--There is in man an instinct of revolt, an enemy of all law, a rebel which will stoop to no yoke, not even that of reason, duty, and wisdom. This element in us is the root of all sin--das radicale Böse of Kant. The independence which is the condition of individuality is at the same time the eternal temptation of the individual. That which makes us beings makes us also sinners.

Sin is, then, in our very marrow. It circulates in us like the blood in our veins, it is mingled with all our substance, [Footnote: This is one of the passages which rouses M. Renan's wonder: "Voila la grande difference," he writes, "entre l'éducation catholique et l'éducation protestante. Ceux qui comme moi ont reçu une éducation catholique en ont gardé de profonds vestiges. Mais ces vestiges ne sont pas des dogmes, ce sont des rêves. Une fois ce grand rideau de drap d'or, bariolé de soie, d'indienne et de calicot, par lequel le catholicisme nous masque la vue du monde, une fois, dis-je ce rideau déchiré, on voit l'univers en sa splendeur infinie, la nature en sa haute et pleine majesté. Le protestant le plus libre garde souvent quelque chose de triste, un fond d'austérité intellectuelle analogue au pessimisme slave."--(Journal des Débats, September 30, 1884).

One is reminded of Mr. Morley's criticism of Emerson. Emerson, he points out, has almost nothing to say of death, and "little to say of that horrid burden and impediment on the soul which the churches call sin, and which, by whatever name we call it, is a very real catastrophe in the moral nature of man--the courses of nature, and the prodigious injustices of mail in society affect him with neither horror nor awe. He will see no monster if he can help it."

Here, then, we have the eternal difference between the two orders of temperament--the men whose overflowing energy forbids them to realize the ever-recurring defeat of the human spirit at the hands of circumstance, like Renan and Emerson, and the men for whom "horror and awe" are interwoven with experience, like Amiel.] Or rather I am wrong: temptation is our natural state, but sin is not necessary. Sin consists in the voluntary confusion of the independence which is good with the independence which is bad; it is caused by the half-indulgence granted to a first sophism. We shut our eyes to the beginnings of evil because they are small, and in this weakness is contained the germ of our defeat. Principiis obsta --this maxim dutifully followed would preserve us from almost all our catastrophes.

We will have no other master but our caprice--that is to say, our evil self will have no God, and the foundation of our nature is seditious, impious, insolent, refractory, opposed to, and contemptuous of all that tries to rule it, and therefore contrary to order, ungovernable and negative. It is this foundation which Christianity calls the natural man. But the savage which is within us, and constitutes the primitive stuff of us, must be disciplined and civilized in order to produce a man. And the man must be patiently cultivated to produce a wise man, and the wise man must be tested and tried if he is to become righteous. And the righteous man must have substituted the will of God for his individual will, if he is to become a saint. And this new man, this regenerate being, is the spiritual man, the heavenly man, of which the Vedas speak as well as the gospel, and the Magi as well as the Neo-Platonists.