July 21

July 21

July 21, 1877.--A superb night--a starry sky--Jupiter and Phoebe holding converse before my windows. Grandiose effects of light and shade over the courtyard. A sonata rose from the black gulf of shadow like a repentant prayer wafted from purgatory. The picturesque was lost in poetry, and admiration in feeling.

Marched hard all night and daylight found us nearly through the gap; have marched hard—fairly raced—all day; brought up on the east side of Goose Creek again, where we are in camp for the night tired and worn out. We marched through Leesburg with stars and stripes waving and bands playing national airs, something unusual for us to do without it's a large place. Rumor says that our rear guard burned the place, but I don't believe it, although it has the reputation of being strongly rebel—a regular hotbed.

July Twenty-First

We thought they slept!—the sons who kept
The names of noble sires,
And slumbered while the darkness crept
Around their vigil fires!
But, aye, the “Golden Horseshoe” knights
Their Old Dominion keep,
Whose foes have found enchanted ground,
But not a knight asleep.
Francis O. Ticknor

 

First Battle of Manassas, 1861

 

 

123. Abigail Adams

Boston, 21 July, 1776.

Last Thursday, after hearing a very good sermon, I went with the multitude into King Street to hear the Proclamation for Independence read and proclaimed. Some field-pieces with the train were brought there. The troops appeared under arms, and all the inhabitants assembled there (the small-pox prevented many thousands from the country), when Colonel Crafts read from the balcony of the State House the proclamation. Great attention was given to every word. As soon as he ended, the cry from the balcony was, "God save our American States," and then three cheers which rent the air. The bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed, and every face appeared joyful. Mr. Bowdoin then gave a sentiment, "Stability and perpetuity to American independence." After dinner, the King's Arms were taken down from the State House, and every vestige of him from every place in which it appeared, and burnt in King Street. Thus ends royal authority in this State. And all the people shall say Amen.

I have been a little surprised that we collect no better accounts with regard to the horrid conspiracy at New York; and that so little mention has been made of it here. It made a talk for a few days, but now seems all hushed in silence. The Tories say that it was not a conspiracy, but an association. And pretend that there was no plot to assassinate the General.[149] Even their hardened hearts feel——the discovery——we have in George a match for "a Borgia or a Catiline"—a wretch callous to every humane feeling. Our worthy preacher told us that he believed one of our great sins, for which a righteous God has come out in judgment against us, was our bigoted attachment to so wicked a man. May our repentance be sincere.

Footnotes:

[149]See Irving's Life of Washington, Vol. II. p. 240.

July 21

July 21, 1856.--Mit sack und pack here I am back again in my town rooms. I have said good-bye to my friends and my country joys, to verdure, flowers, and happiness. Why did I leave them after all? The reason I gave myself was that I was anxious about my poor uncle, who is ill. But at bottom are there not other reasons? Yes, several. There is the fear of making myself a burden upon the two or three families of friends who show me incessant kindness, for which I can make no return. There are my books, which call me back. There is the wish to keep faith with myself. But all that would be nothing, I think, without another instinct, the instinct of the wandering Jew, which snatches from me the cup I have but just raised to my lips, which forbids me any prolonged enjoyment, and cries "go forward! Let there be no falling asleep, no stopping, no attaching yourself to this or that!" This restless feeling is not the need of change. It is rather the fear of what I love, the mistrust of what charms me, the unrest of happiness. What a bizarre tendency, and what a strange nature! not to be able to enjoy anything simply, naïvely, without scruple, to feel a force upon one impelling one to leave the table, for fear the meal should come to an end. Contradiction and mystery! not to use, for fear of abusing; to think one's self obliged to go, not because one has had enough, but because one has stayed awhile. I am indeed always the same; the being who wanders when he need not, the voluntary exile, the eternal traveler, the man incapable of repose, who, driven on by an inward voice, builds nowhere, buys and labors nowhere, but passes, looks, camps, and goes. And is there not another reason for all this restlessness, in a certain sense of void? of incessant pursuit of something wanting? of longing for a truer peace and a more entire satisfaction? Neighbors, friends, relations, I love them all; and so long as these affections are active, they leave in me no room for a sense of want. But yet they do not fill my heart; and that is why they have no power to fix it. I am always waiting for the woman and the work which shall be capable of taking entire possession of my soul, and of becoming my end and aim.

"Promenant par tout séjour Le deuil que tu cèles, Psyché-papillon, un jour Puisses-tu trouver l'amour Et perdre tes ailes!"

I have not given away my heart: hence this restlessness of spirit. I will not let it be taken captive by that which cannot fill and satisfy it; hence this instinct of pitiless detachment from all that charms me without permanently binding me; so that it seems as if my love of movement, which looks so like inconstancy, was at bottom only a perpetual search, a hope, a desire, and a care, the malady of the ideal.

... Life indeed must always be a compromise between common sense and the ideal, the one abating nothing of its demands, the other accommodating itself to what is practicable and real. But marriage by common sense! arrived at by a bargain! Can it be anything but a profanation? On the other, hand, is that not a vicious ideal which hinders life from completing itself, and destroys the family in germ? Is there not too much of pride in my ideal, pride which will not accept the common destiny?...

Noon.--I have been dreaming--my head in my hand. About what? About happiness. I have as it were, been asleep on the fatherly breast of God. His will be done!