January 26

It has been a lovely day. Some of the time it's been really uncomfortable, the sun has been so warm. About 1 a. m. last night when making the rounds considerable firing was heard towards the right of the line. It was probably deserters trying to come into our lines. Sergeant Daniel Foster came to the picket line this afternoon to get some money to send Corporal C. B. Lee's remains to Vermont who died last evening. Banty has come with some rations. Lieut. Ezra Stetson arrived in camp Sunday evening.

January 26

January 26, 1868.--Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness. These eighty thousand daily births, of which statistics tell us, represent as it were an effusion of innocence and freshness, struggling not only against the death of the race, but against human corruption, and the universal gangrene of sin. All the good and wholesome feeling which is intertwined with childhood and the cradle is one of the secrets of the providential government of the world. Suppress this life-giving dew, and human society would be scorched and devastated by selfish passion. Supposing that humanity had been composed of a thousand millions of immortal beings, whose number could neither increase nor diminish, where should we be, and what should we be! A thousand times more learned, no doubt, but a thousand times more evil. There would have been a vast accumulation of science, but all the virtues engendered by suffering and devotion--that is to say, by the family and society--would have no existence. And for this there would be no compensation.

Blessed be childhood for the good that it does, and for the good which it brings about carelessly and unconsciously by simply making us love it and letting itself be loved. What little of paradise we see still on earth is due to its presence among us. Without fatherhood, without motherhood, I think that love itself would not be enough to prevent men from devouring each other--men, that is to say, such as human passions have made them. The angels have no need of birth and death as foundations for their life, because their life is heavenly.

January Twenty-Sixth

THREE VIEWS OF SECESSION CONNECTED WITH LOUISIANA; 1803-1811-1861

Resolved, that the annexation of Louisiana to the Union transcends the Constitutional power of the Government of the United States. It formed a New Confederacy to which the States united by the former compact are not bound to adhere.

Massachusetts Legislature
(Upon Purchase of Louisiana Territory, 1803 )

 

Louisiana secedes from the Union, 1861

Virginia readmitted to the Union, 1870

 

 

Tuesday, 26th January.—A dazzling blue spring day. As we were not going in to load at Rouen till 3 p.m., we went for the most glorious walk in this country. We crossed the ferry over the Seine to the foot of the steep high line of hills which eventually overlooks Rouen, and climbed up to the top by a lovely winding woody path in the sun. (The boatman congratulated us on the sinking of the Blücher, as a naval man, I suppose.) "Who said War?" said P. while we were waiting on the shingle for the boat; it did seem very remote. At the top we got to the Church of Le Bon Secours, which is in a very fine position with a marvellous view. We had some lovely cider in a very clean pub with a garden, and then took the tram down a very steep track into Rouen. I was standing in the front of the tram for the view over Rouen, which was dazzling, with the spires and the river and the bridges, when we turned a sharp corner and smashed bang into a market-cart coming up our track. For the moment one thought the man and woman and the horse must be done for; the horse disappeared under the tram, and there arose such a screaming that the three Tommies and I fell over each other trying to get out to the rescue. When we did we found the man and woman had been luckily shot out clear of the tram, except that the man's hand was torn, and the old woman was frantically screaming, "Mon cheval, mon cheval, mon cheval," at least a hundred times without stopping. The others were out by this time and the two tram people, and the French clack went on at its top speed, while P. and the Tommies and a very clever old woman out of the tram tried to cut the horse clear of the broken cart, and I did up the man's hand with our hankies; the only one concerned least was the horse, who kept quiet with its legs mixed up in the tram. At last the tram succeeded in moving clear of the horse without hurting it, and it was got up smiling after all. The outside old woman went on picking up the fish and the harness, &c., the man was taken off to have his hand bathed, and the poor old woman of the cart stopped screaming "Mon cheval, mon cheval," and went off to have a drink, and we walked on and found a train at Rouen. That sort of thing is always happening in France.

I hope the overworked people at the heads of the various departments of the British Army realise how the men appreciate what they try and do for them in the trenches. If you ask what the billets are like, they say, "Barns and suchlike; they do the best they can for us." If you ask if the trench conditions are as bad for the Germans, they say, "They're worse off; they ain't looked after like what we are."

9.30 p.m.—On way to Havre. I was just going to say that from the Seine to Le Havre there is nothing to report, when I came across a young educated German in my wards with his left leg off from the hip, and his right from below the knee, and a bad shell wound in his arm, all healed now, done at Ypres on 24th October. And I had an hour's most thrilling and heated conversation with him in German. He was very down on the English Sisters in hospital, because he says they hated him and didn't treat him like the rest. I said that was because they couldn't forget what his regiment (Bavarians) had done to the Belgian women and children and old men, and the French. And he said he  couldn't forget how the Belgian women had put out the eyes of the German wounded at Liège and thrown boiling water on them. I said they were driven to it.[2] I asked him a lot of straight questions about Germany and the War, and he answered equally straight. He said they had food in Germany for ten years, and that they had ten million men, and that all the present students would be in the Army later on, and that practically the supply could never stop. And I said that however long they could go on, in the end there would be no more Germany because she was up against five nations. He said no man has any fear of a Russian soldier, and that though they were slow over it they would get Paris, but not London except by Zeppelins; he admitted that it would be sehr schwer  to land troops in England, and that our Navy was the best, but we had so few soldiers, they hardly counted! He got very excited over the Zeppelins. I asked why the Germans hated the English, and he said, "In Berlin we do not speak of the English at all(!!!); it is the French and the Russians we hate." He said the Turks were no good zu helfen, and Austria not much better. He was very down on Belgium for resisting in the first place! and said the Schuld  was with France and Russia. They were very much astonished when England didn't remain neutral! He had the cheek to say that three German soldiers were as good as twenty English, so I assured him that five English could do for fifty Germans, and went on explaining carefully to him how there could be no more Germany in the end because the right must win! and he said, "So you say in England, but we know otherwise in Deutschland, and I am a German." So as I am an English we had to agree to differ. His faith in his Vaterland  nearly made him cry and must have given him a temperature. I felt quite used up afterwards. He is fast asleep now. There is also an old soldier of sixty-three who says General French and General Smith-Dorrien photographed him as the oldest soldier in the British Army. He has four sons in it, one killed, two wounded. He was with General Low in the Chitral Expedition, and is called Donald Macdonald, of the K.O.S.B.'s. "Unfortunately I was reduced to the ranks for being drunk the other day," he said gaily. "But the Captain he said, 'Don't lose 'eart, Macdonald, you'll get it all back.'"

[2]I have since found that no sort of evidence was brought forward by the Germans to support this charge, and it is emphatically denied by the Belgian authorities.