January 5

It has been a beautiful day, but the wind is blowing very chilly to-night; drew clothing for the Company this afternoon; had a very good dress parade considering the quantity of snow and mud under foot. Our school met this evening but we didn't accomplish much. Capt. E. B. Frost, and Dr. W. A. Child and wife dined with us to-day; had a nice time. Herbert George, the band master, has been in this evening relating his experiences during his leave in Vermont. It almost makes me homesick: have got to go on picket early in the morning beyond Culpeper, Va.

January 5, 1864

Tuesday. We had a cold wet rain this morning and then the rain stopped. The cold, however, kept right on and we are expecting to shiver all night. Sol, our commissary, had to go up town on business, so with his authority I went to the post bakery and drew bread for the regiment. Towards night Sol, Jim Brant, who is still waiting for a boat, and myself went up town and filled up on raw oysters, getting back in time to say our lessons to Colonel B. The run home, or the oysters, or both, warmed us up so the weather seems much milder, and we had a much more comfortable night than we looked for.

January Fifth

What the cloud doeth
The Lord knoweth,
The cloud knoweth not
What the artist doeth,
The Lord knoweth;
Knoweth the artist not?
Sidney Lanier

 

 

January 5

January 5, 1881.--I think I fear shame more than death. Tacitus said: Omnia serviliter pro dominatione. My tendency is just the contrary. Even when it is voluntary, dependence is a burden to me. I should blush to find myself determined by interest, submitting to constraint, or becoming the slave of any will whatever. To me vanity is slavery, self-love degrading, and utilitarianism meanness. I detest the ambition which makes you the liege man of something or some-one--I desire to be simply my own master.

If I had health I should be the freest man I know. Although perhaps a little hardness of heart would be desirable to make me still more independent.

Let me exaggerate nothing. My liberty is only negative. Nobody has any hold over me, but many things have become impossible to me, and if I were so foolish as to wish for them, the limits of my liberty would soon become apparent. Therefore I take care not to wish for them, and not to let my thoughts dwell on them. I only desire what I am able for, and in this way I run my head against no wall, I cease even to be conscious of the boundaries which enclose me. I take care to wish for rather less than is in my power, that I may not even be reminded of the obstacles in my way. Renunciation is the safeguard of dignity. Let us strip ourselves if we would not be stripped. He who has freely given up his life may look death in the face: what more can it take away from him? Do away with desire and practice charity--there you have the whole method of Buddha, the whole secret of the great Deliverance....

It is snowing, and my chest is troublesome. So that I depend on nature and on God. But I do not depend on human caprice; this is the point to be insisted on. It is true that my chemist may make a blunder and poison me, my banker may reduce me to pauperism, just as an earthquake may destroy my house without hope of redress. Absolute independence, therefore, is a pure chimera. But I do possess relative independence--that of the stoic who withdraws into the fortress of his will, and shuts the gates behind him.

"Jurons, excepté Dieu, de n'avoir point de maître."

This oath of old Geneva remains my motto still.

January 5, 1863

Chalmette. Monday. Said to be just below the city of New Orleans. We left quarantine about 11 p. m. and reached here about 8 this morning. Many were left behind, too sick to be moved. We have put up our tents, and have been looking about. It is a large camp ground and from all signs was lately occupied and was left in a hurry. Odds and ends of camp furniture are scattered about, and there are many signs of a hasty leave-taking. A few of us went back across the country to a large woods, where we found many trees covered with long gray moss, hanging down in great bunches from the branches. We took all we could carry to make a bed of, for it is soft as feathers.

Later. The doctor won't allow us to use our bed of moss. Says it would make us sick to sleep on it, and much worse than the ground. This is said to be the very ground where General Jackson fought the battle of New Orleans and a large tree is pointed out as the one under which General Packenham was killed. Ancient-looking breastworks are in sight and a building near our tents has a big ragged hole in the gable which has been patched over on the inside so as to leave the mark as it was made, which a native tells me was made by a cannon ball during the battle of New Orleans. The ground is level and for this country is dry. The high bank, or breastworks, cuts off the view on one side and a board fence cuts off a view of the river. Towards the city are enough trees to cut off an extended view in that direction, so we have only the swamp back of us to look at. But this beats quarantine and I wish the poor fellows left there were well enough to get here. There are several buildings on the ground, which the officers are settling themselves in, while a long shed-like building is being cleared out for a hospital. It has been used for that, I judge, and is far better than the one at quarantine. We brought along all that were not desperately sick and have enough to fill up a good part of the new hospital. Walter Loucks has rheumatism in his arms and suffers all the time. He and James Story are my tent mates. We have confiscated some pieces of board to keep us off the ground. Company B has been hard hit. We left seven men at Baltimore, seven at Fortress Munroe and seven at our last stopping-place. It seems to go by sevens, as I find we have seven here in our new hospital. This with the four that have died makes thirty-two short at this time.

January 5

January 5, 1877.--This morning I am altogether miserable, half-stifled by bronchitis--walking a difficulty--the brain weak--this last the worst misery of all, for thought is my only weapon against my other ills. Rapid deterioration of all the bodily powers, a dull continuous waste of vital organs, brain decay: this is the trial laid upon me, a trial that no one suspects! Men pity you for growing old outwardly; but what does that matter?--nothing, so long as the faculties are intact. This boon of mental soundness to the last has been granted to so many students that I hoped for it a little. Alas, must I sacrifice that too? Sacrifice is almost easy when we believe it laid upon us, asked of us, rather, by a fatherly God and a watchful Providence; but I know nothing of this religious joy. The mutilation of the self which is going on in me lowers and lessens me without doing good to anybody. Supposing I became blind, who would be the gainer? Only one motive remains to me--that of manly resignation to the inevitable--the wish to set an example to others--the stoic view of morals pure and simple.

This moral education of the individual soul--is it then wasted? When our planet has accomplished the cycle of its destinies, of what use will it have been to any one or anything in the universe? Well, it will have sounded its note in the symphony of creation. And for us, individual atoms, seeing monads, we appropriate a momentary consciousness of the whole and the unchangeable, and then we disappear. Is not this enough? No, it is not enough, for if there is not progress, increase, profit, there is nothing but a mere chemical play and balance of combinations. Brahma, after having created, draws his creation back into the gulf. If we are a laboratory of the universal mind, may that mind at least profit and grow by us! If we realize the supreme will, may God have the joy of it! If the trustful humility of the soul rejoices him more than the greatness of intellect, let us enter into his plan, his intention. This, in theological language, is to live to the glory of God. Religion consists in the filial acceptation of the divine will whatever it be, provided we see it distinctly. Well, can we doubt that decay, sickness, death, are in the programme of our existence? Is not destiny the inevitable? And is not destiny the anonymous title of him or of that which the religions call God? To descend without murmuring the stream of destiny, to pass without revolt through loss after loss, and diminution after diminution, with no other limit than zero before us--this is what is demanded of us. Involution is as natural as evolution. We sink gradually back into the darkness, just as we issued gradually from it. The play of faculties and organs, the grandiose apparatus of life, is put back bit by bit into the box. We begin by instinct; at the end comes a clearness of vision which we must learn to bear with and to employ without murmuring upon our own failure and decay. A musical theme once exhausted, finds its due refuge and repose in silence.

Barripore, January 5, 1844

MIRAGE AT POOREE.

There is one part of the sands at Pooree, on which if you stand about the middle of the day, and look towards the north, you are surprised to observe in the distance an English town. You see several three-storied houses, with doors and windows: interspersed here and there are several very English-looking trees; and at a short distance, standing on a small hill, you see the ruins of a large castle, with the green ivy clinging to it in many parts. Often have I stood and gazed upon this scene, for it reminds me of dear England. And yet, if you go to the place, what do you suppose you find? Nothing but one long flat bed of loose sand, without one vestige of a tree.

The appearance is caused solely by the refraction of the rays of light. To explain this I will give an example. If you hold a stick so that the lower part is in the water and the upper part in the air, the stick will appear to be bent at the point where it passes the surface of the water; or, place a shilling in a cup or basin, so that you cannot see it because the side of the cup hides it from you, fill the cup with water, and then you will see the shilling, although it is still in the same spot it was in before. This bending of the rays is what is called refraction, and is caused by the rays passing out of one transparent thing into another which is more or less dense than the first. I think that the cause of the mirage at Pooree is this. Hot air is less dense than cold air. The steam which comes from a kettle is still water, but it occupies a much larger space than the water did. One kettle of water will give much more than a kettlefull of steam, so that it is evident that the heat has made the water occupy a much larger quantity of space. Still the steam is only water; therefore it must be much less dense than cold water. If you filled a saucepan with water, and fastened the lid down, so that no steam could escape, it would burst it: the particles of heat cause the particles of water to be less closely connected together. But that is a subject too abstruse for this work.

Well, hot air, like hot water, is less dense than cold air; also water is more dense than air. You could not run along as quickly in the water as you could in the air; you could not strike a person with your hand under water hard enough to hurt him; and this is because the water is more dense or solid than air: therefore, air with a good deal of moisture in it is more dense than when dry. But along the hot sands of Pooree, close to the sea-shore, there must be a great deal of heat and also a great deal of moisture.

In the direction in which you look to see the mirage I mentioned, there is a small piece of stagnant water from which much moisture must arise under the burning heat of the sun; consequently there must be much refraction in all directions. And this is seen in looking the right way from all parts of the Pooree sands; and from the particular point to which I have alluded, this picture, owing, I suppose, to certain marks in the sand, assumes the appearance of a castle, houses, &c. All this is a very rough explanation; but it may serve to give you some idea of the probable cause of the mirage. Ships have sometimes appeared to be sailing in the air from the same cause; and distant coasts, which were far below the horizon, have been distinctly seen by means of the refraction.

The Teapot Series

Social Dissection

[January 5, 1880.]

Gossip I

My Dear Mrs. Smith

I cannot understand why Mrs. Smith, with her absurd figure—for really I can apply no other adjective to it—should wear that most absurdly tight dress. Some one should tell her what a fright it makes of her. She is nothing but convexities. She looks exactly like an hour-glass, or a sodawater machine. At a little distance you can hardly tell whether she is coming to you, or going away from you. She looks just the same all round. People call her smile sweet; but then it is the mere sweetness of inanity. It is the blank brightness of an empty chamber. She sheds these smiles upon everyone and everything, and they are felt to be cold like moonshine. Speaking for myself, these eau-sucré smiles could not suckle my love. I would languish upon them. My love demands stronger drink. Mrs. Smith's features are good, no doubt. Her eyes are good. An oculist would be satisfied with them. They have a cornea, a crystalline lens, a retina, and so on, and she can see with them. This is all very satisfactory, I do not deny, as far as it goes. Physiologically her eyes are admirable; but for poetry, for love, or even for flirting, they are useless. There is no significance in them, no witchery, no suggestiveness. The aurora of beautiful far-away thoughts does not coruscate in them. Her eyelids conceal them, but do not quench them. They would be nothing for winking, or tears. If she winked at me, I should not jump into the air, as if shot in the spine, with my blood tingling to my extremities; my heart would not beat like a side-drum; my blushes would not come perspiring through my whiskers. Her winking would altogether misfire. Why? Because her winking would be physiological and not erotic. If you ever learnt to love her, it would not be for any lovelight in her eye; it would never be the quick, fierce, hot, biting electric passion of the fleshly poets, it would be what a chemist might call the "eremacausis" kindled by habit. Mrs. Smith's tears are quite the poorest product of the lachrymal glands I have ever seen. They are simply a form of water. They might dribble from an effete pump; they might leak from a worn-out mashq.[AA] I observe them with pity and regret. Their drip has no echo in my bosom; it produces no stalactites of sympathy in my heart.

[AA: A water-carrier's leathern bag.]

I have often been told that her nose was good—and good it unquestionably is—good for blowing; good for sneezing; good for snoring; good for smelling; a fine nose for a catarrh. But who could play with it? Who could tweak it passionately, as a prelude to kissing? Who could linger over it tenderly with a candle, or a lump of mutton fat, when cold had laid its cruel hand upon it? It is not tip-tilted like a flower; it is not whimsical with some ravishing and unexpected little crook. It is straight, like a mathematical line. But it has no parts. Her cheeks are round and fair. Each has its dimple and blush. They are thoroughly healthy, Mrs. Smith's digestion is unexceptionable. You might indicate the contour of these cheeks with a pair of compasses; you might paint them with your thumb. Poor Mrs. Smith's talk, or babble rather, is of her husband, her children, her home. It is a mere purring over them. She never cuts them to pieces, and holds them up to scorn and mockery. She never penetrates their weaknesses. She does not even understand that Smith is a common-place, stereotyped kind of fellow, exactly like hundreds of other men in his class. She does not appear to notice the ghastly defects in his education, tastes, and character, which gape before all the world else. She does not see that he is without the morbidezza  of culture; that he finds no appogiatura  in art; that he never rises at midnight, amid lightning and rain, to emit an inarticulate cry of æsthetic anguish in some metrical construction of the renaissance period. She does not miss in him that yearning after the unattainable, which in some mysterious wise fills us with a mute despair; which has in it yet I know not what of sweetness amid the delirious aspirations with which it distracts us. She cannot know, with her base instincts dragging her down to the hearth-level of home and child, the material gracelessness of her husband, equally incapable of striking an Anglo-Saxon, or a mediæval attitude; and with his blood flushed, healthy face unable to realize in his expression that divine sorrow which can alone distinguish the man of culture from ordinary Englishmen, or the anthropoid apes. She will never know what vibrates so harshly on us—the want of feeling for colour which is displayed in the coarse tone of his brown hair. So in regard to her children, the mind of Mrs. Smith is quite uncritical. Look at that baby, like a thousand other babies you see every day. It has not a single idiosyncrasy on which anyone above the intellectual level of a crétin  could hang an affection. Its porcine eyes twinkle dimly through rolls of fat; it splutters and puffs, and its habits are simply abominable. What a gross home for that life's star, which hath had elsewhere its setting and cometh from afar! The star is quenched in fat; it has exchanged the music of the spheres for a hideous caterwauling! Yet Mrs. Smith loves that child, and gobbles over it, descending to its abysses of grossness.

Her house is one of many in a long unlovely street; it is furnished according to the most corrupt dictates of bestial Philistinism—that is, with a view to comfort. There are no subtle harmonies in the papers and chintzes; there are no hidden suggestions of form and tone in the cornices and bell handles; all is barren of proportion, concord, and meaning. Still, this poor woman, with her inartistic eye and foolish heart, loves this wretched shelter, and would pour out her idiotic tears if she were leaving it for Paradise.

But if we descend from our aesthetic heights to the lowly level of the biped Smith, we may see Mrs. S. in a totally different atmosphere, and certain lights and shadows will play about her with a radiance not altogether without beauty. She is a single-minded woman, anxious to make her husband and children comfortable and happy in their home,—and dreaming of nothing beyond this. She is full of homely wisdom; a hundred little economies she practises with forethought and unwearying assiduity tend to make her husband and children love her and regard her as a paragon of domestic policy. Her husband's affection and her children's affection are all the world to her; music and painting and poetry, Mr. Ruskin, Phidias, Praxiteles, Holman Hunt, and Mr. Whistler pale away into shadows of shadows in presence of the indications of love she receives from that baby. And this intense single-minded love elevates her within its own compass. She sees in that baby's eyes the light that never was on sea or land, the consecration and the mother's dream. She broods over it till she effects for it in her own maternal fancy an apotheosis; and round its image in her heart there glows a bright halo of poetry. She sees through the fat. The grossness disappears before her rapt gaze. There remains the spirit from heaven:—

      Sweet spirit newly come from Heaven
      With all the God upon thee, still
      Beams of no earthly light are given
      Thy heart e'en yet to bless and fill.
      Thy soul a sky whose sun has set,
      Wears glory hovering round it yet;
      And childhood's eve glows sadly bright
      Ere life hath deepened into night.

So with the husband; so with the home; a glory gathers round them, which she alone, the intense worshipper, sees; and this unæsthetic Mrs. Smith, altogether unsatisfactory to the artistic eye, most practical, most commonplace, carries within her some of the Promethean flame, and is worthy of that halo of homely joy and affection with which she is crowned.

Tanghi, 56 miles south of Cuttack, January 5, 1845

MODE OF TRAVELLING.

The following afternoon we were able to revisit the caves. But I will first describe our journey. On the Monday and Tuesday we had plenty of shooting; the Wednesday, New-Year's day, we spent in-doors. At six o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 2nd, we started for Jonkia. We went on horseback, riding fourteen miles before breakfast. Our manner of travelling is most delightfully independent: we encamp at any place we wish to see; Mr. G. transacts his necessary business as magistrate and revenue-collector; then we have one, two, or three days' exercise in hunting and shooting, the time depending chiefly on the abundance of game.

When we feel inclined to start we send forward an order to the principal man at the next place, say twelve or fifteen miles distant, to build one room, about thirty feet square, in a shady place, for ourselves; for the walls we use cocoa-nut and palm leaves, bound together with bamboos, and the ceiling is made of the same material with a few pieces of matting to keep out the sun. The evening before we start we send on a cart with some of our chairs, tables, and other necessaries and provisions, which it would be very awkward to forget, under charge of some of our followers: we have about one hundred and twenty of them with us.

Then, in the morning, we get up at five; we have a bit of toast, an egg, and a cup of coffee or a glass of sherry; give orders for the tents to be struck and everything to be brought on as quickly as possible, and then we mount our horses; a groom runs by the side, and a little way behind come our palanquins and tonjons.

We are also attended by men carrying our guns and powder, by many other servants, and about half the inhabitants of the last village through which we passed. If we feel tired we get into our tonjons; if the sun is too hot we call for our palanquins. Every now and then we see five or six peacocks feeding in a rice-field, or we come to a place where there are plain tracks of deer. Then we give our horses to the grooms, and creep along gently with our heads down and our guns in our hands, whilst my wife either watches the sport or trots gently on. At last we arrive at our encamping-place; there we find our leafy house ready, and similar ones provided for the servants and horses; eat a hearty breakfast, at which we sometimes substitute beer for tea, and by the time that is over the tents are arrived.

We have them put up, arrange them comfortably, perhaps have a game at chess, and then go out for a stroll about our new ground. Our dinner-hour varies, but is generally between seven and eight. We are usually up about five, and often walk from ten to twenty miles a-day. This has done me a great deal of good. I feel already quite a different person from what I did when I was in Cuttack. I have not, however, lost my cough.

Sunday is a day of rest with us; we have service and spend the day very quietly. At Jonkia we remained until Saturday the 4th; then came on to Tanghi; on Thursday, the 9th, proceeded to Soonercollee, on the 10th to Bampoor, and yesterday, the 11th, we arrived at this place. So much for our actual route; now I will give some account of what we have seen.

When we came to Jonkia we agreed that we had never seen anything to compare with the scenery there; but as we came into Soonercollee we quite forgot Jonkia in the new splendours that met our eyes. Yet these were again eclipsed in the beauties of Chelka Lake, to which we took one evening's ride from Soonercollee. It is utterly impossible to convey any idea of the scenery either by the pen or the pencil; yet I will try what I can do.

In approaching the small village of Soonercollee you ascend a hill some 200 or 300 feet high by a steep winding road or rather path. At the top of the eminence it is cut through the solid rock, which rises about thirty feet on each side. Suddenly, at a turn in the road, the whole country in the front becomes visible, and I doubt whether any one could repress a cry of admiration at the sight. The spectator is (as I said before) at the summit of a lofty hill; beneath him is a plain of some ten or twelve miles across, bounded on every side by a lofty range and masses of rock. Peering up behind are to be seen a succession of noble mountains. The sides of the hills, where they do not consist of rocky precipices, are covered with a dense jungle: the plain below is cultivated, except where, in three places, abrupt rocky masses, interspersed with jungle, rise to a height of 300 or 400 feet. It looks as if some mighty convulsion had taken place, and the earth had thrown up large bubbles of rock from the surface of the plain.

CHELKA LAKE—WATER-FOWL.

The scenery on the Chelka Lake, a piece of water some forty miles long by from ten to twenty in breadth, is very similar to the above, if you substitute water for the level plain of the rice-fields. Here the hills rise abruptly from the lake, and many of them are quite inaccessible. The islands are inhabited by animals, but not by man; and it is rather curious that each islet appears to have its own peculiar race. Thus, one is inhabited by the beautiful spotted deer, another by the enormous Indian elk, another by goats and fowls (this one is sacred to the goddess Khalee), another by wild pigs, and another by pigeons. With some difficulty I landed on one of the pigeon islands: its greatest height did not exceed thirty feet, and in circumference it may have been near a quarter of a mile; but its structure was most extraordinary. It was composed entirely of enormous masses of rock piled together without the appearance of order or arrangement: it appeared as if some earthquake had destroyed some giant dwelling-place, and left the ruins in one vast heap. Some of the stones, larger than a man's body, had fallen upon one end; they gave way beneath my foot, but returned to their position as soon as relieved of the extra weight which had destroyed the balance. The blue pigeons rose in clouds from every crevice, and fluttered about until I left the neighbourhood of their nests.

The lake lay all around—so calm, so beautiful, with the green mountains rising here and there from its surface, dotted all over with myriads of ducks, geese, teal, and many other aquatic birds: and this reminded me of one thing which I should have related before. As we approached the shores of the lake we were surprised to see a long line of tall white and red creatures standing just within the water. We looked at them through Mr. G.'s glass, and found that they were birds; we got out of our tonjons, crept towards them with loaded guns, fired, and missed them, when they all rose and flew away.

The next morning Mr. G. and I returned to the spot: we each took a separate boat, as Mrs. Acland was not with us; mine, like the others, was about thirty feet long, and formed of a single piece of wood, a tree scooped out. Mr. G. was very anxious to obtain some game, and in the course of about two hours shot a couple of large bare-headed geese and nineteen ducks of various sorts; indeed, they sat in such masses on the water as to resemble rather a low wall than a number of birds. At one shot he killed five ducks, and I three: I did not care much about them, but I was anxious to see again some of my friends of the previous evening.

At last I came in sight of a flock of them near the shore. I sat down in the bottom of the boat, whilst the men pushed it gently along. I was nearly within shot, when Mr. G. fired his gun at the distance of about a mile from my boat: up and away flew all the birds. I was very much annoyed: however, after some time, I saw about half a dozen nearly two miles from me. On we went again, but they had become shy: they raised their heads and looked about them as we approached, and presently they rose. I did not think I was sufficiently near, but I might not have another chance, so I fired, and down fell one of the birds. I pushed one of the boatmen over to fetch it, though he hardly needed pushing, for they appeared quite as anxious as I was.

I will try to describe my prize: I believe the bird to have been a flamingo; and yet, if so, the usual descriptions are very erroneous. The beak is pink, and furnished with a double row of teeth on each side of the lower mandible—one row on the beak, and dark coloured; the other very white and sharp, close to the tongue, which is large. The eyes are pale, and surrounded by a thick yellow ring; the wings are of a beautiful rose-colour, edged with black; the legs pink; the rest of the body is white. When standing upright it is about five feet high: the body is extremely small, neck and legs very long; it has three toes in front and is web-footed, also a claw behind; the beak very large.