June 15

June 15, 1864

Wednesday. Was busy settling up Captain Laird's company affairs, which is made much harder on account of the original papers being missing.

June Fifteenth

O, Art, high gift of Heaven! how oft defamed
When seeming praised! To most a craft that fits,
By dead, prescriptive Rule, the scattered bits
Of gathered knowledge; even so misnamed
By some who would invoke thee.
Washington Allston

 

 

Weather quite warm all day; about 9 o'clock a. m. changed positions to the left; remained till night, and then moved still further to the left and finally camped for the night. A part of the regiment has gone on picket. I am not going; no news to-day. I have been thinking quite seriously that I will go home this winter and fit myself for a profession—not that I am getting tired of military life but think it for my interests in the long run; am undecided what I will do. I don't believe I shall be a quitter, though, for I am not weak that way. No patriot resigns in the face of the enemy when his country needs his services.

June 15, 1863

Monday. As I heard no more about a move, and as the regiment did not show up, I set out to look them up. I got the best direction I could from Orr and went and went, and kept going, inquiring all the time for the 128th New York. No one seemed to know. The troops were all strangers. I could not even find our brigade. Darkness came and I was completely lost. The firing had about stopped, and men lay everywhere, some dead and the rest sleeping. I don't know what time it was when I gave up the search, but all at once I found myself completely tired out. I was following a path, and not daring to lay down in it, I crawled under a bush near it and in a minute was sleeping as sound as the rest. When I awoke this morning the sun was shining. I lay still trying to get my wits to working again, and the first I remember was a great buzzing of flies behind me. I mistrusted a dead soldier was close by and upon getting up found two, a captain and a lieutenant, that had been laid there to keep them from being run over in the night. There was only a little picket shooting going on, everything else was resting up after the hard work of the day before. About 10 a. m. I found the 128th way down towards the river, and within musket shot of the rebel works. Walt Orr's thumb was the only loss to Company B, but several were wounded in the other companies. As this was to be our permanent quarters I hurried back to get the commissary stores ready to move.

June 15

June 15, 1869.--The great defect of liberal Christianity [Footnote: At this period the controversy between the orthodox party and "Liberal Christianity" was at its height, both in Geneva and throughout Switzerland.] is that its conception of holiness is a frivolous one, or, what comes to the same thing, its conception of sin is a superficial one. The defects of the baser sort of political liberalism recur in liberal Christianity; it is only half serious, and its theology is too much mixed with worldliness. The sincerely pious folk look upon the liberals as persons whose talk is rather profane, and who offend religious feelings by making sacred subjects a theme for rhetorical display. They shock the convenances of sentiment, and affront the delicacy of conscience by the indiscreet familiarities they take with the great mysteries of the inner life. They seem to be mere clever special pleaders, religious rhetoricians like the Greek sophists, rather than guides in the narrow road which leads to salvation.

It is not to the clever folk, nor even to the scientific folk, that the empire over souls belongs, but to those who impress us as having conquered nature by grace, passed through the burning bush, and as speaking, not the language of human wisdom, but that of the divine will. In religious matters it is holiness which gives authority; it is love, or the power of devotion and sacrifice, which goes to the heart, which moves and persuades.

What all religious, poetical, pure, and tender souls are least able to pardon is the diminution or degradation of their ideal. We must never rouse an ideal against us; our business is to point men to another ideal, purer, higher, more spiritual than the old, and so to raise behind a lofty summit one more lofty still. In this way no one is despoiled; we gain men's confidence, while at the same time forcing them to think, and enabling those minds which are already tending toward change to perceive new objects and goals for thought. Only that which is replaced is destroyed, and an ideal is only replaced by satisfying the conditions of the old with some advantages over.

Let the liberal Protestants offer us a spectacle of Christian virtue of a holier, intenser, and more intimate kind than before; let us see it active in their persons and in their influence, and they will have furnished the proof demanded by the Master; the tree will be judged by its fruits.

* * * *

42. Abigail Adams

Weymouth,[77] 15 June, 1775.

I sat down to write to you on Monday, but really could not compose myself sufficiently; the anxiety I suffered from not hearing one syllable from you for more than five weeks, and the new distress arising from the arrival of recruits, agitated me more than I have been since the never-to-be-forgotten 14th of April. I have been much revived by receiving two letters from you last night; one by the servant of your friend, and the other by the gentlemen you mention, though they both went to Cambridge, and I have not seen them. I hope to send this as a return to you.

I feared much for your health, when you went away. I must entreat you to be as careful as you can consistently with the duty you owe your country. That consideration, alone, prevailed with me to consent to your departure in a time so perilous and so hazardous to your family, and with a body so infirm as to require the tenderest care and nursing. I wish you may be supported and divinely assisted in this most important crisis, when the fate of empire depends upon your wisdom and conduct. I greatly rejoice to hear of your union and determination to stand by us.

We cannot but consider the great distance you are from us as a very great misfortune, when our critical situation renders it necessary to hear from you every week, and will be more and more so, as difficulties arise. We now expect our seacoast ravaged; perhaps the very next letter I write will inform you that I am driven away from our yet quiet cottage. Necessity will oblige Gage to take some desperate steps. We are told for truth that he is now eight thousand strong. We live in continual expectation of alarms. Courage I know we have in abundance; conduct I hope we shall not want; but powder,—where shall we get a sufficient supply? I wish we may not fail there. Every town is filled with the distressed inhabitants of Boston. Our house [78] among others is deserted, and by this time, like enough, made use of as a barrack. Mr. Bowdoin and his lady are at present in the house of Mrs. Borland, and are going to Middleborough, to the house of Judge Oliver. He, poor gentleman, is so low that I apprehend he is hastening to a house not made with hands; he looks like a mere skeleton, speaks faint and low, is racked with a violent cough, and, I think, far advanced in a consumption. I went to see him last Saturday. He is very inquisitive of every person with regard to the times; begged I would let him know of the first intelligence I had from you; is very unable to converse by reason of his cough. He rides every pleasant day, and has been kind enough to call at the door (though unable to get out) several times. He says the very name of Hutchinson distresses him. Speaking of him, the other day, he broke out, "Religious rascal! how I abhor his name!"

Pray be as particular as possible when you write. Everybody wants to hear and to know what is doing, and what may be communicated do not fail to inform me of. All our friends desire to be kindly remembered to you. Gage's proclamation you will receive by this conveyance. All the records of time cannot produce a blacker page. Satan, when driven from the regions of bliss, exhibited not more malice. Surely the father of lies is superseded. Yet we think it the best proclamation he could have issued.

I shall, whenever I can, receive and entertain, in the best manner I am capable, the gentlemen who have so generously proffered their services in our army. Government is wanted in the army and elsewhere. We see the want of it more from so large a body being together, than when each individual was employed in his own domestic circle. My best regards attend every man you esteem. You will make my compliments to Mr. Mifflin and lady. I do not now wonder at the regard the ladies express for a soldier. Every man who wears a cockade appears of double the importance he used to do, and I feel a respect for the lowest subaltern in the army. You tell me you know not when you shall see me. I never trust myself long with the terrors which sometimes intrude themselves upon me.

I hope we shall see each other again, and rejoice together in happier days; the little ones are well, and send duty to papa. Don't fail of letting me hear from you by every opportunity. Every line is like a precious relic of the saints.

I have a request to make of you; something like the barrel of sand, I suppose you will think it, but really of much more importance to me. It is, that you would send out Mr. Bass, and purchase me a bundle of pins and put them in your trunk for me. The cry for pins is so great that what I used to buy for seven shillings and sixpence are now twenty shillings, and not to be had for that. A bundle contains six thousand, for which I used to give a dollar; but if you can procure them for fifty shillings, or three pounds,[79] pray let me have them.

I am, with the tenderest regard,

Your        Portia.

Footnotes:

[77]This is dated from her father's house.

[78]In Boston.

[79]Ten dollars.