January 10

A beautiful morning. Dan Bancroft came in to see me this forenoon, a private in the Vermont Cavalry; had inspection at 11 a. m. and dress parade this evening. Quite a number of recruits came this evening, but only one for Company B. Col. A. B. Jewett and Lieut.-Colonel W. W. Henry also returned from Vermont to-night. The band has been serenading Colonel Jewett. It is cold and frosty with a little snow still on the ground.

Sunday, January 10th.—Woke up at Bailleul, sun shining for once, and everything—floods and all—looking lovely all the way down. Loaded up early and got down to B. by 4 p.m. to hear that we are to go on to Rouen—another all-night touch. We have put off the fourteen worst cases at B., and are now on our way to R. This is the first time we have shipped Canadians, P.P.C.L.I., the only regiment as yet in the fighting line. They are oldish men who have nearly all seen service before, many in South Africa.

Lots more wounded this time. Some S.L.I. got badly caught in a wood; they've just come from India.

When I took the Devonshire toffee round, a little doubtful whether the H.A.C.'s would not be too grand for it, one of them started up, "Oh, by George, not really!"

We have a boy on board with no wound and no disease, but quite mad, poor boy; he has to have a special orderly on him.

January 10, 1864

Sunday. Sergeant Brant thought sure he would go to-day and after a good-bye all round started for the boat. He came back soon after, saying he had given up the trip for to-day. It seems the boat is held back for some reason and will sail to-morrow. That will give me time to write some more letters. The quartermaster and I went to church to-day. He knew where to go, and though it was a long walk there and back, I felt well paid for going. As near as I could tell it was a Methodist church. At any rate the language used was United States, while those I had before attended used Latin. We were seated in a pew with a handsome young lady, who gave us a hymn book, even finding the place for us. I was never more sorry I could not sing. After church she invited us to come again, saying how glad she was we had come to-day. We promised her we would, and came back. If I can find the way there I certainly mean to go again. We now expect to start for Texas this week sometime. Only a part are to go and we are all impatience to know who will be taken and who left. If I knew my leave of absence wouldn't come I should want to go, but suppose it did come and had to follow me up, the time would be up before I could get started. I am very often thankful for the things I don't know.

January 10

January 10, 1881.--To let one's self be troubled by the ill-will, the ingratitude, the indifference, of others, is a weakness to which I am very much inclined. It is painful to me to be misunderstood, ill-judged. I am wanting in manly hardihood, and the heart in me is more vulnerable than it ought to be. It seems to me, however, that I have grown tougher in this respect than I used to be. The malignity of the world troubles me less than it did. Is it the result of philosophy, or an effect of age, or simply caused by the many proofs of respect and attachment that I have received? These proofs were just what were wanting to inspire me with some self-respect. Otherwise I should have so easily believed in my own nullity and in the insignificance of all my efforts. Success is necessary for the timid, praise is a moral stimulus, and admiration a strengthening elixir. We think we know ourselves, but as long as we are ignorant of our comparative value, our place in the social assessment, we do not know ourselves well enough. If we are to act with effect, we must count for something with our fellow-men; we must feel ourselves possessed of some weight and credit with them, so that our effort may be rightly proportioned to the resistance which has to be overcome. As long as we despise opinion we are without a standard by which to measure ourselves; we do not know our relative power. I have despised opinion too much, while yet I have been too sensitive to injustice. These two faults have cost me dear. I longed for kindness, sympathy, and equity, but my pride forbade me to ask for them, or to employ any address or calculation to obtain them.... I do not think I have been wrong altogether, for all through I have been in harmony with my best self, but my want of adaptability has worn me out, to no purpose. Now, indeed, I am at peace within, but my career is over, my strength is running out, and my life is near its end.

"Il n'est plus temps pour rien excepté pour mourir."

This is why I can look at it all historically.

January 10

January 10, 1868. (Eleven P. M.).--We have had a philosophical meeting at the house of Edouard Claparède. [Footnote: Edouard Claparède, a Genevese naturalist, born 1832, died 1871.] The question on the order of the day was the nature of sensation. Claparède pronounced for the absolute subjectivity of all experience--in other words, for pure idealism--which is amusing, from a naturalist. According to him the ego alone exists, and the universe is but a projection of the ego, a phantasmagoria which we ourselves create without suspecting it, believing all the time that we are lookers-on. It is our noümenon which objectifies itself as phenomenon. The ego, according to him, is a radiating force which, modified without knowing what it is that modifies it, imagines it, by virtue of the principle of causality--that is to say, produces the great illusion of the objective world in order so to explain itself. Our waking life, therefore, is but a more connected dream. The self is an unknown which gives birth to an infinite number of unknowns, by a fatality of its nature. Science is summed up in the consciousness that nothing exists but consciousness. In other words, the intelligent issues from the unintelligible in order to return to it, or rather the ego explains itself by the hypothesis of the non-ego, while in reality it is but a dream, dreaming itself. We might say with Scarron:

"Et je vis l'ombre d'un esprit Qui traçait l'ombre d'um système Avec l'ombre de l'ombre même."

This abolition of nature by natural science is logical, and it was, in fact, Schelling's starting-point. From the standpoint of physiology, nature is but a necessary illusion, a constitutional hallucination. We only escape from this bewitchment by the moral activity of the ego, which feels itself a cause and a free cause, and which by its responsibility breaks the spell and issues from the enchanted circle of Maïa.

Maïa! Is she indeed the true goddess? Hindoo wisdom long ago regarded the world as the dream of Brahma. Must we hold with Fichte that it is the individual dream of each individual ego ? Every fool would then be a cosmogonic poet producing the firework of the universe under the dome of the infinite. But why then give ourselves such gratuitous trouble to learn? In our dreams, at least, nightmare excepted, we endow ourselves with complete ubiquity, liberty and omniscience. Are we then less ingenious and inventive awake than asleep?

January Tenth

SECESSION: A SOUTHERN VIEW, 1861

A State, finding herself in the condition in which Mississippi has judged she is—in which her safety requires that she should provide for the maintenance of her rights out of the Union—surrenders all the benefits (and they are known to be many), deprives herself of the advantages (and they are known to be great), severs all the ties of affection (and they are close and enduring), which have bound her to the Union; and thus divesting herself of every benefit—taking upon herself every burden—she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her limits.

Jefferson Davis  (Farewell Address in United States Senate )

 

SECESSION: FROM THE NORTHERN STANDPOINT, 1814

Whenever it shall appear that these causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint, among nominal friends, but real enemies, inflamed by mutual hatred and jealousy, and inviting, by intestine divisions, contempt and aggression from abroad.

Journal of the Hartford Convention

 

Florida secedes, 1861

The “Bonnie Blue Flag” first sung in public at Jackson Mississippi, 1861

 

 

January 10, 1917

I went to Paris, as I told you I hoped to do. Nothing new there. In spite of the fact that, in many ways, they are beginning to feel the war, and there is altogether too much talk about things no one can really know anything about, I was still amazed at the gaiety. In a way it is just now largely due to the great number of men en permission. The streets, the restaurants, the tea-rooms are full of them, and so, they tell me, are the theatres.

Do you know what struck me most forcibly? You'll never guess. It was that men in long trousers look perfectly absurd. I am so used to seeing the culotte and gaiters that the best-looking pantaloons I saw on the boulevards looked ugly and ridiculous.

I left the officer billeted in my house to take care of it. The last I saw of him he was sitting at the desk in the salon, his pipe in his mouth, looking comfortable and cosy, and as if settled for life. I only stayed a few days, and came home, on New Year's Eve, to find that he had left the night before, having been suddenly transferred to the staff of the commander of the first army, as officier de la liaison, and I had in his place a young sous-officier of twenty-two, who proves to be a cousin of the famous French spy, Captain Luxe, who made that sensational escape, in 1910, from a supposed-to-be-impregnable German military prison. I am sure you remember the incident, as the American papers devoted columns to his unprecedented feat. The hero of that sensational episode is still in the army. I wonder what the Germans will do with him if they catch him again? They are hardly likely to get him alive a second time.

I wonder if the German books on military tactics use that escape as a model in their military schools? Do you know that in every French military school the reconnaisance which Count Zeppelin made in Alsace, in the days of 1870, when he was a cavalry officer, is given as a model reconnaissance both for strategy and pluck? I did not, until I was told. Oddly enough, not all that Zeppelin has done since to offend French ideas of decency in war can dull the admiration felt by every cavalry officer for his clever feat in 1870.

Last Thursday,—that was the 4th,—we had our second relève.

The night before they left some of the officers came to say au revoir, and to tell me that the Aspirant, who had been with me in December, would be quartered on me again—if I wanted him. Of course I did.

Then the senior lieutenant told me that the regiment had suffered somewhat from a serious bombardment the days after Christmas, that the Aspirant had not only shown wonderful courage, but had had a narrow escape, and had been cité à l'ordre du jour, and was to have his first decoration.

We all felt as proud of him as if he belonged to us. I was told that he had been sent into the first-line trenches—only two hundred yards from the German front—during the bombardment, "to encourage and comfort his men" (I quote), and that a bomb had exploded over the trench and knocked a hole in his steel helmet.

I don't know which impressed me most—the idea of a lad of twenty having so established the faith in his courage amongst his superior officers as to be safe as a comfort and encouragement for the men, or the fact that, if the army had had those steel casques at the beginning of the war, many lives would have been saved.

The Aspirant came in with the second detachment the night before last—the eighth. The regiment was in and all quartered before he appeared.

We had begun to fear something had happened to him, when he turned up, freshly shaved and clean, but with a tattered overcoat on his arm, and a battered helmet in his hand.

Amélie greeted him with: "Well, young man, we thought you were lost!"

He laughed, as he explained that he had been to make a toilet, see the regimental tailor, and order a new topcoat.

"I would not, for anything in the world, have had madame see me in the state I was in an hour ago. She has to see my rags, but I spared her the dirt," and he held up the coat to show its rudely sewed-up rents, and turned over his helmet to show the hole in the top.

"And here is what hit me," and he took out of his pocket a rough piece of a shell, and held it up, as if it were very precious. Indeed, he had it wrapped in a clean envelope, all ready to take up to Paris and show his mother, as he is to have his leave of a week while he is here.

I felt like saying "Don't," but I didn't. I suppose it is hard for an ambitious soldier of twenty to realize that the mother of an only son, and that son such a boy as this, must have some feeling besides pride in her heart as she looks at him.

So now we are settled again, and used to the trotting of horses, the banging of grenades and splitting of mitrailleuses. From the window as I write—I am up in the attic, which Amélie calls the "atelier," because it is in the top of the house and has a tiny north light in the roof—that being the only place where I am sure of being undisturbed— I can see horses being trained in the wide field on the side of the hill between here and Quincy. They are manoeuvring with all sorts of noises about them—even racing in a circle while grenades and guns are fired.

In spite of all that, there came near being a lovely accident right in front of the gate half an hour ago.

The threshing-machine is at work in front of the old grange on the other side of the road, just above my house. The men had come back from breakfast, and were starting the machine up just as two mounted soldiers, each leading two horses, rode out of the grange at Amélie's, and started down the hill at a trot. The very moment the horses were turning out to pass the machine,—and the space was barely sufficient between the machine and the bank—a heedless man blew three awful blasts on his steam whistle to call his aids. The cavalry horses were used to guns, and the shrill mouth whistles of the officers, but that did not make them immune to a steam siren, and in a moment there was the most dangerous mix-up I ever saw. I expected to see both riders killed, and I don't know now why they were not, but neither man was thrown, even in spite of having three frightened horses to master.

It was a stupid thing for the man on the machine to do. He would have only had to wait one minute and the horses would have been by with a clear road before them if they shied. But he "didn't think." The odd thing was that the soldiers did not say an ugly word. I suppose they are used to worse.

You have been reproaching me for over a year that I did not write enough about the war. I do hope that all this movement about me interests you. It is not war by any means, but the nearest relation to it that I have seen in that time. It is its movements, its noise, its clothes. It is gay and brave, and these men are no "chocolate soldiers."