January 28

Thursday, January 28th.—Got to Boulogne this morning. Have been getting stores in and repairs done; expect to be sent up any time. Sharp frost and cold wind.

January 28, 1863

Cold day. Ice formed on puddles last night. I am staying in my tent, keeping as warm as I can, I begin to feel I am going to give out. I have kept out of the hospital so far and hope to die right here in my tent if die I must. But to-morrow may be warmer and my cough better, and under such conditions my spunk will rise as it always has. So good-bye, diary. I am going to try for a nap.

A fine morning. Most of the companies have been fixing their streets; have been at work all day on Lieut. Ezra Stetson's ordnance returns, and have not got them done yet; will try and finish them in the morning. The regiment got no mail to-night. Corporal C. B. Lee's remains were sent home Tuesday; had a dress parade to-night in which the recruits took part. Those of Company B never had a gun in their hands till this morning.

January 28

January 28, 1881.--A terrible night. For three or four hours I struggled against suffocation and looked death in the face.... It is clear that what awaits me is suffocation--asphyxia. I shall die by choking.

I should not have chosen such a death; but when there is no option, one must simply resign one's self, and at once.... Spinoza expired in the presence of the doctor whom he had sent for. I must familiarize myself with the idea of dying unexpectedly, some fine night, strangled by laryngitis. The last sigh of a patriarch surrounded by his kneeling family is more beautiful: my fate indeed lacks beauty, grandeur, poetry; but stoicism consists in renunciation. Abstine et sustine.

I must remember besides that I have faithful friends; it is better not to torment them. The last journey is only made more painful by scenes and lamentations: one word is worth all others--"Thy will, not mine, be done!" Leibnitz was accompanied to the grave by his servant only. The loneliness of the deathbed and the tomb is not an evil. The great mystery cannot be shared. The dialogue between the soul and the King of Terrors needs no witnesses. It is the living who cling to the thought of last greetings. And, after all, no one knows exactly what is reserved for him. What will be will be. We have but to say, "Amen."

January Twenty-Eighth

The rights of Louisiana as a sovereign State are those of Virginia; no more, no less. Let those who deny her right to resume delegated powers successfully refute the claim of Virginia to the same right, in spite of her expressed reservation made and notified to her sister States when she consented to enter the Union.... For two-thirds of a century this right has been known by many of the States to be, at all times, within their power.

Judah P. Benjamin
(Farewell Address in the United States Senate )

 

 

La Madeleine Jan. 28, 1881

My faults are to you an opportunity of displaying those qualities to which you will not let me allude.

*****

Those are not truisms about George Eliot. The reality of her characters is generally perfect. They are not quite always vivid, or consistent. They degenerate sometimes into reminiscences. But they live a life apart from hers, and do not serve her purposes. I wonder whether Arthur Lyttelton knows any good German criticism of her; I don't think I have seen any.

*****

The Tories were sure to cheer as wildly as the Irish hit. You have, I fancy, felt the weakness of Forster's great speech,[68 ] which, to the eye of a practised revolutionist, slightly disparages the Government.

He makes out an irresistible case against those who think all is right in Ireland, so far at least as to need nothing exceptional from Parliament. He thinks little of the man—the imaginary hearer—who thinks that the Irish peasants have a case; that the suffering and the wrong are real, and are partly the work of the law; that the horrors which fill us with impatience are the direct—though not the unmixed—consequence thereof; that the first way to remove effects is to remove the cause; that, whereas all this is certain, it remains to be proved that the evil is beyond that treatment; and that the movement which has its root in the soil, cannot be so dissociated from the movement that has its root in America, that the one may heal and the other may starve. Probably he does not wish to speak of remedial measures beforehand, and in the same comminatory breath, or to dwell too much on the purely revolutionary peril, which is a delicate topic, about which people are not agreed, and which it is awkward to prove. But he is so little occupied with the one real objection, in this speech charged with the wisdom of many Cabinet discussions, that one wonders whether that other line of thought, so repugnant to the Castle,[69 ] was ever forcibly put forward in the Cabinet.

What you say of great men manifesting only themselves in their works—the predominance, one should say, of the lyrical mood—is profoundly true. Milton and Byron are supreme examples. It is the reason why there are so few great epics, and so few great—there are many good—histories. It is, in higher literary work, the same solicitude that makes it almost impossible for men to think of the right instead of the expedient. You can hardly imagine how people wondered what Mr. Gladstone's motives were in the Bulgarian affair. Most politicians would be ashamed of having done any considerable thing because it was right, from no motive more clever than duty.

Fancy the Encyclopædia Britannica  asking me to do their article on Jesuits! I answered that I hoped they would have one on Mrs. Lewes. I have written my testimony to Mr. Cross,[70 ] encouraging him about the intended life.... Thank you a thousand times beforehand for every chance line you promise me. You do not know how to say things that are not interesting.

[68 ] Speech on introducing the Peace Preservation Bill.

[69 ] Dublin Castle.

[70 ] George Eliot's husband.

271. Abigail Adams

28 January, 1781.

My dearest Friend,—Last evening General Lincoln called here, introducing to me a gentleman by the name of Colonel Laurens, the son, as I suppose, of your much esteemed friend, the late President of Congress; who informed me that he expected to sail for France in a few days, and would take dispatches from me. Although I closed letters to you, by way of Holland, a few days ago, I would not omit so good an opportunity as the present. 'T is a long time since the date of your last letters, the 25th of September. I wait with much anxiety, listening to the sound of every gun, but none announce the arrival of the Fame, from Holland, which we greatly fear is taken or lost, or the Mars, from France. Colonel Laurens is enabled, I suppose, to give you every kind of intelligence respecting the army, which you may wish to learn. Mr. Cranch has written you upon the same subject by way of Holland. Your friends here complain that you do not write to them. I suppose Davis threw over half a hundred letters. If you are unfortunate in that way, it is not to be helped.

I have the pleasure to inform you that a repeal of the obnoxious tender act has passed the House and Senate. The Governor, as has been heretofore predicted, when anything not quite popular is in agitation, has the gout, and is confined to his bed. A false weight and a false balance are an abomination, and in that light this tender act must be viewed by every impartial person. Who, but an idiot, would believe that forty were equal to seventy-five? But the repeal gives us reason to hope that justice and righteousness will again exalt our nation; that public faith will be restored; that individuals will lend to the public; and that the heavy taxes, which now distress all orders, will be lessened.

A late committee, who have been sitting upon ways and means for raising money, tell us that a tax for two years more, equal to what we have paid in the last; would clear this State of debt. You may judge of the weight of them; yet our State taxes are but as a grain of mustard seed, when compared with our town taxes. Clinton, I hear, has sent out a proclamation upon Germain's plan, inviting the people to make a separate peace, which will only be a new proof of the ignorance and folly of our enemies, without making a single proselyte. Even the revolted Pennsylvania troops gave up to justice the spies whom Clinton sent to them, offering them clothing and pay, letting him know that it was justice from their State, not favors from their enemies, which they wanted.

It is reported that Arnold, with a body of troops, is gone to Virginia, where it is hoped he and his Myrmidons will meet their fate. Had Clinton been a generous enemy, or known human nature, he would, like Aurelian, upon a like occasion, have given up the traitor to the hands of justice; knowing that it was in vain to expect fidelity in a man who had betrayed his own country, which, from his defection, may learn to place a higher value upon integrity and virtue than upon a savage ferocity, so often mistaken for courage. He who, as an individual, is cruel, unjust, and immoral, will not be likely to possess the virtues necessary in a general or statesman. Yet in our infant country, infidelity and debauchery are so fashionably prevalent that less attention is paid to the characters of those who fill important offices, than a love of virtue and zeal for public liberty can warrant; which, we are told by wise legislators of old, are the surest preservatives of public happiness.

You observe in a late letter that your absence from your native State will deprive you of an opportunity of being a man of importance in it. I hope you are doing your country more extensive service abroad than you could have done had you been confined to one State only; and whilst you continue in the same estimation among your fellow-citizens in which you are now held, you will not fail of being of importance to them at home or abroad.

Heaven preserve the life and health of my dear absent friend, and, in its own time, return him to his country and to the arms of his ever affectionate

Portia.

P. S. Love to my dear boys. I have sent you a present by Colonel Laurens.