June 10

June 10, 1864

Friday. Captain Laird went home to-day, and Company D is mine to look after again. I have just been able to keep about to-day.

Oh, dear! Another day finds us in the same old position. I wonder if this awful war will ever find an end? It looks worse to me than ever. Here we are within ten miles of Richmond, and I can't see any prospect of our ever getting nearer to it without sacrificing half our noble army, and this in my opinion won't pay. But I fear I am getting faint-hearted! I must have more faith in our Generals. Indeed, I think I have faith in them, but they can't do what they want without they have the men to do it with.

June Tenth

The indomitable courage, the patient endurance of privations, the supreme devotion of the Southern soldiers, will stand on the pages of history, as engraven on a monument more enduring than brass.

Maj. Jas. F. Huntington, U. S. A.

 

United Confederate Veterans organized at New Orleans, 1889

Battle of Bethel, Va., the first regular engagement of the War between the States, 1861

 

 

June 10, 1863

Wednesday. There has been considerable firing along the lines both to the right and left of us. From all I can find out, we, on the center, are the nearest to the rebel works of any, and our batteries are able to keep them inside. Both to the right and left there seems to be a strip of disputed ground, occupied by both sides, who are entrenched in rifle pits, which each side keeps pushing forward, and it is the fighting over these that we hear most every night. Last night they fired on our position for a while, and at one time they came so fast my bedfellow left me and went back with the regiment. But my old tree had not failed me yet, and I was not going back on it, so I staid and slept like a baby through what, by the looks of the trees and limbs, was quite a sharp cannonading.

41. John Adams

Same date.

Dr. Church has given me a lotion which has helped my eyes so much that I hope you will hear from me oftener than you have done. Pray write me as often and particularly as possible. Send your letters to the care of the Committee of Safety, who will forward them. I long to know how you fare, and whether you are often discomposed with alarms. Guard yourself against them, my dear. I think you are in no danger. Don't let the groundless fears and fruitful imaginations of others affect you. Let me know what guards are kept, and who were principally concerned in the battle at Grape Island, as well as that at Chelsea. The reputation of our countrymen for valor is very high. I hope they will maintain it, as well as that for prudence, caution, and conduct.

When I shall come home I know not. We have business enough before us, to detain us until the 31st of next December. No assembly ever had a greater number of great objects before them. Provinces, nations, empires are small things before us. I wish we were good architects.

40. John Adams

10 June, 1775.

Dr. Church returns to-day, and, with smarting eyes, I must write a few lines to you. I never had in my life such severe duty to do, and was never worse qualified to do it. My eyes depress my spirits, and my health is quite infirm. Yet I keep about, and attend Congress very constantly.

I wish I could write freely to you, my dear, but I cannot. The scene before me is complicated enough. It requires better eyes and better nerves than mine; yet I will not despond. I will lay all difficulties prostrate at my feet. My health and life ought to be hazarded in the cause of my country, as well as yours, and all my friends.

It is impossible to convey to you any adequate idea of the embarrassments I am under. I wish that you and our friends may not be in greater distress than I am. I fear you are. Pray let me know as often as possible. Our friends write to Mr. ——, not to me, this time. They don't let us know the state of Boston people, nor the state of the army in Boston, so exactly as I could wish.

Two days ago we saw a very wonderful phenomenon in this city: a field-day, on which three battalions of soldiers were reviewed, making full two thousand men, battalion men, light infantry, grenadiers, riflemen, light horse, artillery men with a fine train, all in uniforms, going through the manual exercise and the manœuvres with remarkable dexterity. All this has been accomplished in this city since the 19th of April; so sudden a formation of an army never took place anywhere.

In Congress we are bound to secrecy. But, under the rose, I believe that ten thousand men will be maintained in the Massachusetts, and five thousand in New York, at the Continental expense.

We have a Major Skene, just arrived from London with a commission to be governor of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and surveyor of the woods, etc., a close prisoner. He must dispute for his government with Arnold and Allen. My love and duty where due.

Speculative Philosophy

Thursday, 10.

The first number of Volume III. of the "Journal of Speculative Philosophy" comes to hand, printed in fair type, with promise of attracting attention from thinkers at home and abroad. And it is a significant fact that the most appreciative notice yet taken of this Journal comes from Germany, and is written by the President of the Berlin Philosophical Society. Nor less remarkable that this first attempt to popularize Philosophy, so far as practicable, should date from the West, and show an ability in dealing with speculative questions that may well challenge the attainments of thinkers everywhere,—the translations showing a ripe scholarship, and covering almost the whole range of historic thinking.8

England, too, has at last found a metaphysician that Coleridge would have accepted and prized. And the more that he follows himself in introducing philosophy from Germany into Britain. James Hutchison Stirling's fervor and strength in advocating Hegel's ideas command the highest respect. Having had Schelling's expositor in Coleridge, we now have Hegel's in Stirling; and, in a spirit of catholicity shown to foreign thought unexpected in an Englishman, promising not a little in the way of qualifying favorably the metaphysics of Britain. Nothing profound nor absolute can be expected from minds of the type of Mill, Herbert Spencer, and the rest,—if not hostile, at least indifferent to and incapable of idealism; naturalists rather than metaphysicians. It will be a most hopeful indication if Stirling's book, the "Secret of Hegel," find students among his countrymen. Cavilling there will be, of course, misapprehension, much nonsense uttered concerning Hegel's Prime Postulates. But what was thought out fairly in Germany, must find its way and prompt comprehension in England; if not there, then here in New England, out of whose heart a fresh philosophy should spring forth, to which the German Hegel shall give impulse and furtherance. The work has already begun, with Harris's publishing the thoughts of the world's thinkers, himself familiar with the best of all thinking. I look for a more flowing, inspiring type of thought, Teutonic as Greek, of a mystic coloring transcending Boehme, Swedenborg, and freed from the biblicisms of the schools of our time. Hegel's secret is that of pure thought akin with that of Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, the ancient masters in philosophy. The One is One out of whose womb the Not One is born to perish perpetually at its birth. Whoso pronounces Person  apprehensively, speaks the secret of all things, and holds the key to all mysteries in nature and spirit.

For further encouragement, moreover, we are promised a translation of the complete works of Plotinus, by a learned contributor to the "Journal," who has qualifications for that service unsurpassed, perhaps, by any on this side of the Atlantic.

He writes from St. Louis:—

"I have tried my hand on Plotinus, and find it easy to render the text into modern philosophical phraseology. Until lately I have been unable to procure a good critical edition of the Greek philosopher. And now, if my energies are spared, a translation of his entire works is not very far in the future."9

It were a good test of one's aptitude for metaphysical studies, his appreciation of Plotinus. Profound as any predecessor of the Platonic school of idealism, he had the remarkable merit of treating ideas in a style at once transparent and subtle, dealing with these as if they were palpable things, such was his grasp of thought and felicity in handling. His themes are of universal concernment at all times. Promoting a catholic and manly method, his books were good correctives of any exclusiveness still adhering in our schools of science and divinity, while the tendencies of his time, as in ours, were towards comparative studies.

A like tendency appeared, also, in England in the studies of the British Platonists, or Latitudinarians,—Dr. Henry More, Dr. Cudworth, Dr. Rust, Norris, Glanvil, John Smith, whose writings deserve a place in theological libraries, and the study of divines especially.

Norris thus praises his friend Dr. More, whose works had high repute and were much studied in his day:—

"Others in learning's chorus bear their part,

And the great work distinctly share;

Thou, our great catholic professor art,

All science is annexed to thy unerring chair;

Some lesser synods of the wise

The Muses kept in universities;

But never yet till in thy soul

Had they a council œcumenical:

An abstract they'd a mind to see

Of all their scattered gifts, and summed them up in thee.

Thou hast the arts whole Zodiac run,

And fathom'st all that here is known;

Strange restless curiosity,

Adam himself came short of thee,—

He tasted of the fruit, thou bearest away the tree."

And More writes of Plotinus:—

"Who such things did see,

Even in the tumult that few can arrive

Of all are named from philosophy,

To that high pitch or to such secrets dive."10

Plotinus

Plotinus was by birth an Egyptian, a native of Sycopolis. He died at the conclusion of the second year of the reign of M. Aurelius Flavius Claudius, at the age of sixty-six. On his friend Eustochius coming from a distance and approaching him when dying, he said: "As yet I have expected you, and now I endeavor that my divine part may return to that divine nature which flourishes throughout the universe."

Taylor says of him, "He was a philosopher pre-eminently distinguished for the strength and profundity of his intellect, and the purity and elevation of his life. He was wise without the usual mixture of human darkness, and great without the general combination of human weakness and imperfection. He seems to have left the orb of light solely for the benefit of mankind, that he might teach them how to repair the ruin contracted by their exile from good, and how to return to their true country and legitimate kindred allies. I do not mean that he descended into mortality for unfolding the sublimest truths to the multitude, for this would have been a vain and ridiculous attempt, since their eyes, as Plato justly observes, are not strong enough to look at truth. But he came as a guide to the few who are born with a divine destiny, and are struggling to gain the lost region of light, but know not how to break the fetters by which they are detained; who are impatient to leave the obscure cavern of sense, where all is delusion and shadow, and to ascend to the realms of intellect, where all is substance and reality."

His biographers speak of him with the truest admiration. He was foreign from all sophistical ostentation and pride, and conducted himself in the company of disputants with the same freedom and ease as in his familiar discourses; for true wisdom, when it is deeply possessed, gives affability and modesty to the manners, illumines the countenance with a divine serenity, and diffuses over the whole external form an air of dignity and ease. Nor did he hastily disclose to every one the logical necessities latent in his conversation. He was strenuous in discourse, and powerful in discovering what was appropriate. While he was speaking, there was every indication of the predominance of intellect in his conceptions. The light of it diffused itself over his countenance, which was indeed, at all times, lovely, but was then particularly beautiful; a certain attenuated and dewy moisture appeared on his face, and a pleasing mildness shone forth. Then, also, he exhibited a gentleness in receiving questions, and demonstrated a vigor uncommonly robust in their solution. He was rapidly filled with what he read, and having in a few words given the meaning of a profound theory, he arose. He borrowed nothing from others, his conceptions being entirely his own, and his theories original. He could by no means endure to read twice what he had written. Such, indeed, was the power of his intellect, that when he had once conceived the whole disposition of his thoughts from the beginning to the end, and had afterwards committed them to writing, his composition was so connected, that he appeared to be merely transcribing a book. Hence he would discuss his domestic affairs without departing from the actual intention of his mind, and at one and the same time transact the necessary negotiations of friendship, and preserve an uninterrupted survey of the things he had proposed to consider. In consequence of this uncommon power of intellection, when he returned to writing, after the departure of the person with whom he had been conversing, he did not review what he had written; and yet he so connected the preceding with the subsequent conceptions, as if his composition had not been interrupted. Hence, he was at the same time present with others and with himself; so that the self-converted energy of his intellect was never remitted, except in sleep, which his admirable temperance in meats and drinks, and his constant conversion to intellect, contributed in no small measure to expel. Though he was attentive to his pupils and the necessary concerns of life, the intellectual energy of his soul while he was awake never suffered any interruption from externals, nor any remission of vigor. He was likewise extremely mild in his manners, and easy of access to all his friends and adherents. Hence, so great was his philosophic urbanity, that though he resided at Rome six and twenty years, and had been the arbitrator in many litigious causes which he amicably dissolved, yet he had scarcely an enemy throughout that vast and illustrious city. Indeed, he was so highly esteemed, not only by the senate and people of Rome, that the Emperor Galienus and his wife Salonica honored his person and reverenced his doctrine; and relying on his benevolence, requested that a city in Campania, which had been formerly destroyed, might be restored, and rendered a fit habitation for philosophers, and besides this, that it might be governed by the laws of Plato, and called Platonopolis.

8. "Nothing is more interesting in the history of the human mind than the tendency of enlightened souls in all ages to gather in clusters, as in the material world crystallization goes on by the gathering of individual atoms about one axis of formation. Thus the schools of Greek Philosophy, the Pythagorean, the Eleatic, the Peripatetic, the Alexandrian, were human crystallizations about a central idea, and generally in a given locality,—as Samos, Athens, or the Lucanian city of Elea, where Zeno learned lessons of Parmenides, and whence they both journeyed to Athens in the youth of Socrates, and held their "Radical Club" at the house of Pythodorus in the Ceramicus. The Schoolmen and the Mystics of the middle ages clustered together in the same way about Abelard. Thomas Aquinas, Occam, Gerson, Giardano Bruno, the early Italian poets, rally in groups in the same way; so do the Elizabethan Dramatists, the Puritan Politicians, the English Platonists. Coming nearer our own time, there are the Lake Poets of England, the Weimar circle of genius, in Germany, the Transcendental Idealists in Concord and Boston, and finally, the German American Philosophers of St. Louis, concerning whom we now speak. In all these Schools and Fellowships of the human soul, a common impulse, aided by accident of locality and other circumstances, trivial only in appearance, has led to the formation of that strictest bond, the friendship of united aspirations. New England has so long been considered the special home of ideas, that it may surprise one to learn that St. Louis, on the Mississippi, has become the focus of a metaphysical renaissance ; yet such it has become. A few Germans, New Englanders, and Western men gathered there, having found each other out, began to meet, expatiate, and confer about Kant and Hegel, Fichte, and Sir William Hamilton. Soon they formed a Philosophical Society, and by and by, having accumulated many manuscripts, they began to publish a Magazine of "Speculative Philosophy." At first, this publication came out semi-occasionally, but finally settled down into a regular Quarterly, with contributors on both sides of the Atlantic, and from various schools of metaphysical thought. The January number is, indeed, a remarkable production. Every article is good, and most of them profound; no such collection of striking varieties of philosophic thought has been made public for a long time as this. The Journal is edited by William T. Harris, ll.d., Superintendent of the Public Schools of St. Louis."

F. B. Sanborn ,

in "Springfield Republican," March, 1869.

9. His works are comprised in fifty-four books, which his disciple Porphyry divided into six Enneads, assigning, agreeably to the meaning of the word, nine books to every Ennead. Thomas Taylor translated parts of these only.

10. "It would make a most delightful and instructive essay," says Coleridge, "to draw up a critical, and, where possible, biographical account of the Latitudinarian party at Cambridge, from the reign of James I to the latter half of Charles II. The greater number were Platonists, so called, at least, and such they believed themselves to be, but more truly Plotinists. Thus Cudworth, Dr. Jackson (chaplain of Charles I and Vicar of Newcastle upon Tyne), Henry More, John Smith, and some others (Norris, Glanvil). Jeremy Taylor was a Gassendist, and, as far as I know, he is the only exception. They were alike admirers of Grotius, which, in Taylor, was consistent with the tone of all his philosophy. The whole party, however, and a more amiable never existed, were scared and disgusted into this by the catachrestic language and the skeleton half truths of the systematic divines of the synod of Dort on the one hand, and by the sickly broodings of the Pietists and Solomon's Song preachers on the other. What they all wanted was a pre-inquisition into the mind, as part organ, part constituent, of all knowledge,—an examination of the scales and weights and measures themselves abstracted from the objects to be weighed or measured by them; in short, a transcendental æsthetic, logic, and noetic. Lord Herbert was at the entrance of, nay, already some paces within, the shaft and adit of the mine; but he turned abruptly back, and the honor of establishing a complete προπαιδεία (Organon) of philosophy was reserved for Immanuel Kant, a century or more afterwards."—Lit. Remains, iii. 416.