July 29

Marched at 7 o'clock a. m. for Harper's Ferry; passed through the town about noon and camped on the Winchester pike about two miles to the south; warm and sultry; am not well to-night; hope to get a day's rest here; all's quiet, except rumors of Early's raiders.

July Twenty-Ninth

... He fetcht up his right wing, he fetcht up his left wing, he fetcht up his centre, he fetcht up his reserves. He fired by file, he fired by platoons, by company, by regiments and by brigades. He opened his cannon, siege guns down thar, Napoleons here, twelve-pounders yonder, big guns, little guns, middle-size guns, round shot, shell, shrapnel, grape, canister, mortars, mines and magazines, every livin' battery and bomb a'goin' at the same time. The house trembled, the lights danced, the walls shuk, the floor came up, the ceilin' come down, the sky spilt, the ground rockt—heavens and earth, creation, sweet potatoes, Moses, nine-pences, glory, ten-penny nails, my Mary Ann, hallelujah, Samson in a 'simmon tree, Jeroosal'm, Tump Tompson in a tumbler-cart, roodle—oodle—oodle—oodle—ruddle—uddle—uddle—uddle—raddle—addle—addle—addle—addle—riddle—iddle—iddle—iddle—reetle—eetle—eetle—eetle—eetle—p-r-r-r-r-r-land! per lang! per lang! p-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-lang! Bang!... When I come to....

George W. Bagby
(How Rubenstein Played )

 

 

124. John Adams

29 July.

How are you all this morning? Sick, weak, faint, in pain, or pretty well recovered? By this time, you are well acquainted with the small-pox. Pray, how do you like it?

We have no news. It is very hard that half a dozen or half a score armies can't supply us with news. We have a famine, a perfect dearth of this necessary article. I am, at this present writing, perplexed and plagued with two knotty problems in politics. You love to pick a political bone. So I will even throw it to you.

If a confederation should take place, one great question is, how we shall vote. Whether each colony shall count one; or whether each shall have a weight in proportion to its number, or wealth, or exports and imports, or a compound ratio of all. Another is, whether Congress shall have authority to limit the dimensions of each colony, to prevent those, which claim by charter, or proclamation, or commission to the south sea, from growing too great and powerful, so as to be dangerous to the rest?

Shall I write you a sheet upon each of these questions? When you are well enough to read, and I can find leisure enough to write, perhaps I may.

Gerry carried with him a canister for you. But he is an old bachelor, and what is worse, a politician, and what is worse still, a kind of soldier; so that I suppose he will have so much curiosity to see armies and fortifications, and assemblies, that you will lose many a fine breakfast at a time when you want them most.

Tell Betsey that this same Gerry is such another as herself, sex excepted. How is my brother and friend Cranch? How is his other self and their little selves, and ours? Don't be in the dumps, above all things. I am hard put to it to keep out of them, when I look at home. But I will be gay if I can. Adieu.

St. Martin July 29, 1882

We are living here in my brother-in-law's house; and I will tell him that he must prepare for better guests, as soon as you tell me that it is not the baseless fabric of a vision. He is not married; so that there is no one to be on ceremony with; and his house is as big as many Tegernsees. Alfred[183 ] will be as welcome here as he is wherever his bright face is shown.

*****

It is impossible not to feel that the Ministry grows weaker by the associates it has lost as well as by the associates that decline to join. There are now the ingredients of an alternative Liberal Cabinet, consisting of men fairly equal to those now in office—with the necessary exception—and hostile to them. The ground is getting narrow under our feet, and the full force of the party does not support Ministers. The want of a successor to Bright indicates too clearly that Mr. Gladstone, though still master of his majority, is not what he has been, master of his party. I hope for new arrangements at the end of the session, and for a real gain of strength from ultimate success in Egypt. But, like Ireland, it is a harvest that will ripen slowly. I wonder whether things have seemed to you as gloomy as this, or whether the light before you dispels the darkness.

Mozley's book, and all others published in England since January, I have not seen. He interests me more than almost any other of our divines, and I look forward to a good time with his reminiscences, if, as I understand, it is the divine, and not the manifold writer.[184 ]


[183 ] Lyttelton.

[184 ] It was the "manifold writer."

July 29

July 29, 1871.--So long as a man is capable of self-renewal he is a living being. Goethe, Schleiermacher and Humboldt, were masters of the art. If we are to remain among the living there must be a perpetual revival of youth within us, brought about by inward change and by love of the Platonic sort. The soul must be forever recreating itself, trying all its various modes, vibrating in all its fibres, raising up new interests for itself....

The "Epistles" and the "Epigrams" of Goethe which I have been reading to-day do not make one love him. Why? Because he has so little soul. His way of understanding love, religion, duty, and patriotism has something mean and repulsive in it. There is no ardor, no generosity in him. A secret barrenness, an ill-concealed egotism, makes itself felt through all the wealth and flexibility of his talent. It is true that the egotism of Goethe has at least this much that is excellent in it, that it respects the liberty of the individual, and is favorable to all originality. But it will go out of its way to help nobody; it will give itself no trouble for anybody; it will lighten nobody else's burden; in a word, it does away with charity, the great Christian virtue. Perfection for Goethe consists in personal nobility, not in love; his standard is aesthetic, not moral. He ignores holiness, and has never allowed himself to reflect on the dark problem of evil. A Spinozist to the core, he believes in individual luck, not in liberty, nor in responsibility. He is a Greek of the great time, to whom the inward crises of the religious consciousness are unknown. He represents, then, a state of soul earlier than or subsequent to Christianity, what the prudent critics of our time call the "modern spirit;" and only one tendency of the modern spirit--the worship of nature. For Goethe stands outside all the social and political aspirations of the generality of mankind; he takes no more interest than Nature herself in the disinherited, the feeble, and the oppressed....

The restlessness of our time does not exist for Goethe and his school. It is explicable enough. The deaf have no sense of dissonance. The man who knows nothing of the voice of conscience, the voice of regret or remorse, cannot even guess at the troubles of those who live under two masters and two laws, and belong to two worlds--that of nature and that of liberty. For himself, his choice is made. But humanity cannot choose and exclude. All needs are vocal at once in the cry of her suffering. She hears the men of science, but she listens to those who talk to her of religion; pleasure attracts her, but sacrifice moves her; and she hardly knows whether she hates or whether she adores the crucifix.

Later.--Still re-reading the sonnets and the miscellaneous poems of Goethe. The impression left by this part of the "Gedichte" is much more favorable than that made upon me by the "Elegies" and the "Epigrams." The "Water Spirits" and "The Divine" are especially noble in feeling. One must never be too hasty in judging these complex natures. Completely lacking as he is in the sense of obligation and of sin, Goethe nevertheless finds his way to seriousness through dignity. Greek sculpture has been his school of virtue.