June 20

Have just returned from the heights. The City of Petersburg looks lovely at a distance, but our guns command it and can at any time lay it in ruins. The enemy occupy the heights on the other side of the Appomattox river. Siege guns are shelling back and forth, but it's no such fighting as we have seen since we broke winter quarters. We have remained in the woods all day, it's been so warm. Orry Blanchard called to-night; am detailed for fatigue—probably to work a detail on fortifications.

June 20, 1863

Saturday. One of Company B, while poking about yesterday, had the good luck to shoot a cow, and last night he came in dragging as much of it as he could. So we have had another fill up and the world seems well with us now. I went for another swim in the river, and gave my clothes another washing. My one shirt has shrunk so I can hardly get into it. Not a button is left on it. The wristbands only come a little below my elbows, and the bottom only just reaches to my trousers. I have no way to tell how I look, but the others are about as black as the negro troops, and I suppose I must be ditto. The rifle pits are being extended and the Rebs are shoving theirs just as fast, each keeping about the same distance from the other. No shooting is done, a sort of agreement having been made not to fire on each other until another assault is made along the whole line.

June Twentieth

Jamestown and St. Mary's are both within the segment of a circle of comparatively small radius whose centre is at the mouth of the Chesapeake. In this strategic region, the key of America, Raleigh chose the base from which he would colonize the new empire; here the Jamestown experiment succeeded, after Raleigh's head had fallen on the block; the Revolution was fired by the eloquence of Patrick Henry, and was consummated at Yorktown; the War of 1812 was settled by the victories of North Point and Fort McHenry; the crisis of the Civil War occurred; and seven Presidents of the United States were born.

Allen S. Will

 

The first Lord Baltimore obtains from the Crown a grant of the territory lying between the Potomac and the 40th parallel, 1632

Secession of West Virginia from Virginia sustained by the Federal Government, 1863

“Virginia, who had given to all the States in common five great commonwealths of the northwest and the county of Kentucky, was now bereft of half of what remained to her”

 

 

Prince's Gate June 20, 1885

No one ever saw Mr. Gladstone in better spirits than he was at dinner yesterday. I hope it was the hitch.[257 ] It is a bore to be away when the thing is to be decided. May agrees with me, and with that other Radical[258 ] from Cambridge, that even the ingeniously remodelled assurances ought not to be given; when we have preserved peace with so much difficulty, no concession not absolutely required should be made to these dangerous successors.[259 ] But it will need great fortitude, and I do not seriously hope for success against the strong wish of so many colleagues.


[257 ] Disagreements in the Cabinet on Ireland had been cut short on June 8 by the defeat of the Government, through a combination of Tories and Irish, on the Budget.

[258 ] Mr. James Stuart.

[259 ] When Lord Salisbury came into office in June 1885, he required assurances of support from the Leader of the Opposition, which Mr. Gladstone refused to give.

St. Martin Haute Autriche June 20, 1884

The idleness of Coombe Warren[220 ] has much to answer for. I was taken by surprise when you sent me that letter,[221 ] and would have given a great deal to escape the necessity of answering it. Ever since, it has stood grievously in the way of writing to you; and I have conquered my difficulty with extreme reluctance. Try to forgive my not writing—try, much harder, to forgive my writing.

*****

When I come I shall have to congratulate you on your authorship. I do not do so now, because it would be meaningless, the C.R.[222 ] being due here to-morrow only. I do hope you liked doing it, and like having done it, and like to think of doing it again.

I still think that we ought to evacuate;[223 ] but I thought there would be no time for Mr. Gladstone to do it, and no obligation on others. The convention is a very dexterous way of laying compulsion on the Ministers, whoever they may be, several years hence. It meets what I thought an insurmountable difficulty, if it succeeds, as I hope it will. But I cannot look with satisfaction on the principle as compensation for the risk of failure. The cause does not seem to me so sacred or so pure as to offer consolation for the fall of the Ministry.

It is an indefinite principle, depending for its application on variable circumstances. It is not clean cut. We retain certain ill-gotten possessions, obtained by treaty or by necessity. It is not evident that we should surrender a possession which is not ill-gotten.

Our motives for surrender are mixed. It is to relieve us from a very troublesome and very dangerous engagement, to avoid a formidable expenditure, to disarm the menacing jealousy of other Powers. The mixture of motives is obvious, and we are not in a position to claim the merit which belongs to the purest among them.

The Ministry would not be united for common action on this question, if the motives of expediency did not come to aid the motive of principle. The bit of gold has to be beaten very thin to gild the whole of them. One sees and recognises the surface gilding, but one knows that there is inferior metal beneath.

The position would be loftier and more correct if we retired from an enterprise crowned with success, in the fulness of conscious superiority as well as of conscious rectitude. But we have not accomplished triumphantly the work from which we withdraw. We are not incurring the sacrifice of stopping short in a career of victory and of political triumphs, so that the world wonders at our moderation and self-control. We are giving up an undertaking in which we have disappointed the expectation of the world, in which we have shown infirmity of purpose, want of forethought, a rather spasmodic and inconclusive energy, occasional weakness and poverty of resource; and our presence and promise have been mixed blessings for the Egyptian people. So that the principle is not large enough as a basis for such a structure, nor clear enough to yield me comfort for the enforced close of such a career.

Do not be angry with me for saying all this—you have heard it before.


[220 ] Lord Wolverton's residence near London.

[221 ] A letter from Mr. Gladstone to his daughter.

[222 Contemporary Review.

[223 ] Egypt.

June 20, 1914.


I have just received your letter—the last, you say, that you can send before you sail away again for "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave," where you still seem to feel that it is my duty to return to die. I vow I will not discuss that with you again. Poverty is an unpretty thing, and poverty plus old age simply horrid in the wonderful land which saw my birth, and to which I take off my sun-bonnet in reverent admiration, in much the same spirit that the peasants still uncover before a shrine. But it is the land of the young, the energetic, and the ambitious, the ideal home of the very rich and the laboring classes. I am none of those—hence here I stay. I turn my eyes to the west often with a queer sort of amazed pride. If I were a foreigner—of any race but French—I 'd work my passage out there in an emigrant ship. As it is, I did forty-five years of hard labor there, and I consider that I earned the freedom to die where I please.

I can see in "my mind's eye" the glitter in yours as you wrote—and underscored—I'll wager you spend half your days in writing letters back to the land you have willfully deserted. As well have stayed among us and talked—and you talk so much better than you write. "Tut! tut! That is nasty." Of course I do not deny that I shall miss the inspiration of your contradictions—or do you call it repartee? I scorn your arguments, and I hereby swear that you shall not worry another remonstrance from me.

You ask me how it happens that I wandered in this direction, into a part of the country about which you do not remember to have ever heard me talk, when there were so many places that would have seemed to you to be more interesting. Well, this is more interesting than you think. You must not fancy that a place is not interesting because you can't find it in Hare, and because Henry James never talked about it. That was James's misfortune and not his fault.

The truth is I did look in many more familiar directions before fortunate accident led me here. I had an idea that I wanted to live on the heights of Montmorency, in the Jean Jacques Rousseau country. But it was terribly expensive—too near to Enghien and its Casino and baccarat tables. Then I came near to taking a house near Viroflay, within walking distance of Versailles. But at the very mention of that all my French friends simply howled. "It was too near to Paris"; "it was the chosen route of the Apaches"; and so on and so forth. I did not so much care for the situation. It was too familiar, and it was not really country, it was only suburbs. But the house attracted me. It was old and quaint, and the garden was pretty, and it was high. Still it was too expensive. After that I found a house well within my means at Poigny, about an hour, by diligence, from Rambouillet. That did attract me. It was real country, but it had no view and the house was very small. Still I had got so tired of hunting that I was actually on the point of taking it when one of my friends accidentally found this place. If it had been made to order it could not have suited me better—situation, age, price, all just to my taste. I put over a year and a half into the search. Did I keep it to myself well?

Besides, the country here had a certain novelty to me. I know the country on the other side of the Petit Morin, but all this is new to me except Meaux. At first the house did not look habitable to me. It was easily made so, however, and it has great possibilities, which will keep me busy for years.

Although you do not know this part of the country, it has, for me, every sort of attraction—historical as well as picturesque. Its historical interest is rather for the student than the tourist, and I love it none the less for that.

If ever you relent and come to see me, I can take you for some lovely walks. I can, on a Sunday afternoon, in good weather, even take you to the theater—what is more, to the theater to see the players of the Comedie Francaise. It is only half an hour's walk from my house to Pont-aux-Dames, where Coquelin set up his maison de retraite for aged actors, and where he died and is buried. In the old park, where the du Barry used to walk in the days when Louis XVI clapped her in prison on a warrant wrung from the dying old king, her royal lover, there is an open-air theater, and there, on Sundays, the actors of the Theatre Francais play, within sight of the tomb of the founder of the retreat, under the very trees—and they are stately and noble—where the du Barry walked.

Of course I shall only take you there if you insist. I have outgrown the playhouse. I fancy that I am much more likely to sit out on the lawn and preach to you on how the theater has missed its mission than I am—unless you insist—to take you down to the hill to listen to Moliere or Racine.

If, however, that bores you,—it would me,—you can sit under the trees and close your eyes while I give you a Stoddard lecture without the slides. I shall tell you about the little walled town of Crecy, still surrounded by its moat, where the tiny little houses stand in gardens with their backs on the moat, each with its tiny footbridge, that pulls up, just to remind you that it was once a royal city, with drawbridge and portcullis, a city in which kings used to stay, and in which Jeanne d'Arc slept one night on her way back from crowning her king at Rheims: a city that once boasted ninety-nine towers. Half a dozen of these towers still stand. Their thick walls are now pierced with windows, in which muslin curtains blow in the wind, to say that to-day they are the humble homes of simple people, and to remind you of what warfare was in the days when such towers were a defense. Why, the very garden in which you will be sitting when I tell you this was once a part of the royal estate, and the last Lord of the Land was the Duke de Penthievre. I thought that fact rather amusing when I found it out, considering that the house I came so near to taking at Poigny was on the Rambouillet estate where his father, the Duke de Toulouse, one of Louis XIV's illegitimate sons, died, where the Duke de Penthievre was born, and where he buried his naughty son, the Duke de Lamballe.

Of course, while I am telling you things like this you will have to bring your imagination into play, as very few vestiges of the old days remain. I still get just as much fun out of Il y avait une fois, even when the "once on a time" can only be conjured up with closed eyes. Still, I can show you some dear little old chapels, and while I am telling you about it you will probably hear the far-off, sad tolling of a bell, and I shall say to you "Ca sonne a Bouleurs." It will be the church bells at Bouleurs, a tiny, tree-shaded hamlet, on another hilltop, from which, owing to its situation, the bells, which rarely ring save for a funeral, can be heard at a great distance, as they have rung over the valley for years. They sound so sad in the still air that the expression, Ca sonne a Bouleurs, has come to mean bad luck. In all the towns where the bell can be heard, a man who is having bad luck at cards, or has made a bad bargain, or has been tricked in any way, invariably remarks, "Ca sonne a Bouleurs."

I could show you something more modern in the way of historical association. For example, from the road at the south side of my hill I can show you the Chateau de la Haute Maison, with its mansard and Louis XVI pavilions, where Bismarck and Favre had their first unsuccessful meeting, when this hill was occupied by the Germans in 1870 during the siege of Paris. And fifteen minutes' walk from here is the pretty Chateau de Conde, which was then the home of Casimir-Perier, and if you do not remember him as the President of the Republic who resigned rather than face the Dreyfus case, you may remember him as the father-in-law of Madame Simone, who unsuccessfully stormed the American theater, two years ago.

You ask me how isolated I am. Well, I am, and I am not. My house stands in the middle of my garden. That is a certain sort of isolation. There is a house on the opposite side of the road, much nearer than I wish it were. Luckily it is rarely occupied. Still, when it is, it is over-occupied. At the foot of the hill—perhaps five hundred yards away—are the tiny hamlet of Joncheroy and the little village of Voisins. Just above me is the hamlet of Huiry—half a dozen houses. You see that is not sad. So cheer up. So far as I know the commune has no criminal record, and I am not on the route of tramps. Remember, please, that, in those last winters in Paris, I did not prove immune to contagions. There is nothing for me to catch up here—unless it be the gayety with which the air is saturated.

You ask me also how it happens that I am living again "near by Quincy?" As true as you live, I never thought of the coincidence. If you please, we pronounce it "Kansee." When I read your question I laughed. I remembered that Abelard, when he was first condemned, retired to the Hermitage of Quincy, but when I took down Larousse to look it up, what do you think I found? Simply this and nothing more: "Quincy: Ville des Etats-Unis (Massachusetts), 28,000 habitants."

Isn't that droll? However, I know that there was a Sire de Quincy centuries ago, so I will look him up and let you know what I find.

The morning paper—always late here—brings the startling news of the assassination of the Crown Prince of Austria. What an unlucky family that has been! Franz Josef must be a tough old gentleman to have stood up against so many shocks. I used to feel so sorry for him when Fate dealt him another blow that would have been a "knock-out" for most people. But he has stood so many, and outlived happier people, that I begin to believe that if the wind is tempered to the shorn lamb, the hides, or the hearts, of some people are toughened to stand the gales of Fate.

Well, I imagine that Austria will not grieve much—though she may be mad—over the loss of a none too popular crown prince, whose morganatic wife could never be crowned, whose children cannot inherit, and who could only have kept the throne warm for a while for the man who now steps into line a little sooner than he would have had this not happened. If a man will be a crown prince in these times he must take the consequences. We do get hard-hearted, and no mistake, when it is not in our family that the lightning strikes. The "Paths of Glory lead but to the grave," so what matters it, really, out by what door one goes?

This will reach you soon after you arrive in the great city of tall buildings. More will follow, and I expect they will be so gay that you will rejoice to have even a postal tie with La Belle France, to which, if you are a real good American, you will come back when you die—if you do not before.




June 20, 1915

Having an American neighbor near by again has changed life more than you would imagine.

She is only five miles away. She can come over on horseback in half an hour, and she often arrives for coffee, which is really jolly. Now and then she drives over unexpectedly, and carries me back with her for the night. I never feel like staying longer, but it changes the complexion of life. Besides, we can talk about our native land—in English—and that is a change.

Now don't imagine that I have been lonely. I have not. I was quite contented before she returned, but I have never concealed from you that the war is trying. I needed, now and then, to exchange words with one of my own race, and to say things about my own country which I'd be burned at the stake before I 'd say before a French person.

Beside, the drive from here to Voulangis is beautiful. We have three or four ways to go, and each one is prettier than the other. Sometimes we go through Quincy, by the Château de Moulignon, to Pont aux Dames, and through the old moated town of Crécy-en-Brie. Sometimes we go down the valley of the Mesnil, a hilly path along the edge of a tiny river, down which we dash at a breakneck speed, only possible to an expert driver. Indeed Père never believes we do it. He could not. Since he could not, to him it is impossible to anyone.

Just now the most interesting way is through Couilly and St. Germain, by the Bois de Misère, to Villiers-sur-Morin, whence we climb the hill to Voulangis, with the valley dropping away on one side. It is one of the loveliest drives I know, along the Morin, by the mills, through the almost virgin forest.

The artillery—territorials—is cantoned all along here, at Villiers, at Crecy, and at Voulangis. The road is lined with grey cannon and ammunition wagons. Every little way there is a sentinel in his box, and horses are everywhere.

Some of the sentinel boxes are, as we used to say in the States, "too cute for words." The prettiest one in the Department is right here, at the corner of the route Madame, which crosses my hill, and whence the road leads from the Demi-Lune right down to the canal. It is woven of straw, has a nice floor, a Gothic roof, a Gothic door, and the tiniest Gothic window, and a little flag floating from its peak.

It is a little bijou, and I did hope that I could beg, borrow, steal, or buy it from the dragoon who made it. But I can't. The lieutenant is attached to it, and is going to take it with him, alas!

I happened to be at Voulangis when the territorials left—quite unexpectedly, as usual. They never get much notice of a relève.

We were sitting in the garden at tea when the assemblage general was sounded, and the order read to march at four next morning.

You never saw such a bustle,—such a cleaning of boots, such a packing of sacks, such a getting together of the officers' canteens— orderlies getting about quickly, and trying to give demonstrations of "efficiency" (how I detest the very word!), and such a rounding up of last things for the commissary department, including a mobilization of Brie cheese (this is its home), and such a pulling into position of cannon—all the inevitable activity of a regiment preparing to take the road, after a two months' cantonnement, in absolute ignorance of the direction they were to take, or their destination.

The last thing I saw that night was-the light of their lanterns, and the last thing I heard was the march of their hob-nailed boots. The first thing I heard in the morning, just as day broke, was the neighing of the horses, and the subdued voices of the men as the teams were harnessed.

We had all agreed to get up to see them start. It seemed the least we could do. So, well wrapped up in our big coats, against the chill of four o'clock, we went to the little square in front of the church, from which they were to start, and where the long line of grey cannon, grey ammunition, camions, grey commissary wagons were ready, and the men, sac au dos, already climbing into place—one mounted on each team of four horses, three on each gun-carriage, facing the horses, with three behind, with their backs to the team. The horses of the officers were waiting in front of the little inn opposite, from which the officers emerged one by one, mounted and rode to a place in front of the church. We were a little group of about twenty women and children standing on one side of the square, and a dead silence hung over the scene. The men, even, spoke in whispers.

The commander, in front of his staff, ran his eyes slowly over the line, until a sous-officier approached, saluted, and announced, "All ready," when the commander rode to the head of the line, raised one hand above his head, and with it made a sharp forward gesture—the unspoken order "en avant"—and backed his horse, and the long grey line began to move slowly towards the Forêt de Crécy, the officers falling into place as it passed.

Some of the men leaned down to shake hands as they went by, some of the men saluted, not a word was spoken, and the silence was only broken by the tramp of the horses, the straining of the harnesses, and rumble of the wheels.

It was all so different—as everything in this war has been—from anything I had ever dreamed when I imagined war. Yet I suppose that the future dramatist who uses this period as a background can get his effects just the same, without greatly falsifying the truth. You know I am like Uncle Sarcey—a really model theatre audience. No effect, halfway good, passes me by. So, as I turned back at the garden gate to watch the long grey line winding slowly into the forest, I found that I had the same chill down my back and the same tightness over my eyes and in my throat, which, in the real theatre-goers, announce that an effect has "gone home."

The only other thing I have done this month which could interest you was to have a little tea-party on the lawn for the convalescent boys of our ambulance, who were "personally conducted" by one of their nurses.

Of course they were all sorts and all classes. When I got them grouped round the table, in the shade of the big clump of lilac bushes, I was impressed, as I always am when I see a number of common soldiers together, with the fact that no other race has such intelligent, such really well-modelled faces, as the French. It is rare to see a fat face among them. There were farmers, blacksmiths, casters, workmen of all sorts, and there was one young law student, and the mixed group seemed to have a real sentiment of fraternity.

Of course, the law student was more accustomed to society than the others, and became, naturally, a sort of leader. He knew just what to do, and just how to do it,—how to get into the salon when he arrived, and how to greet his hostess. But the rest knew how to follow suit, and did it, and, though some of them were a little shy at first, not one was confused, and in a few minutes they were all quite at their ease. By the time the brief formality of being received was over, and they were all gathered round the tea-table, the atmosphere had become comfortable and friendly, and, though they let the law student lead the conversation, they were all alert and interested, and when one of them did speak, it was to the point.

When tea was over and we walked out on the lawn on the north side of the house to look over the field of the battle in which most of them had taken part, they were all ready to talk—they were on ground they knew. One of them asked me if I could see any of the movements of the armies, and I told him that I could not, that I could only see the smoke, and hear the artillery fire, and now and then, when the wind was right, the sharp repeating fire of rifles as well as mitrailleuses, and that I ended by distinguishing the soixante-quinze from other artillery guns.

"Look down there, in the wide plain below Montyon," said the law student. I looked, and he added, "As nearly as I can judge the ground from here, if you had been looking there at eleven o'clock in the morning, you would have seen a big movement of troops."

Of course I explained to him that I had not expected any movement in that direction, and had only watched the approach from Meaux.

Beyond that one incident, these wounded soldiers said no word about battles. Most of the conversation was political.

When the nurse looked at her watch and said it was time to return to the hospital, as they must not be late for dinner, they all rose. The law student came, cap in hand, made me a low bow, and thanked me for a pleasant afternoon, and every man imitated his manner—with varying degrees of success—and made his little speech and bow, and then they marched up the road, turning back, as the English soldiers had done—how long ago it seems—to wave their caps as they went round the corner.

I did wish that you could have been there. You always used to love the French. You would have loved them more that afternoon.

It is wonderful how these people keep up their courage. To me it seems like the uplift of a Holy Cause. They did expect a big summer offensive. But it does not come, and we hear it rumored that, while we have men enough, the Germans have worked so hard, while the English were recruiting, that they are almost impregnably entrenched, and that while their ammunition surpasses anything we can have for months yet, it would be military suicide to throw our infantry against their superior guns. In the meantime, while the Allies are working like mad to increase their artillery equipments, the Germans are working just as hard, and Time serves one party as well as the other. I suppose it will only be after the war that we shall really know to what our disappointment was due, and, as usual, the same cry consoles us all: "None of these things will change the final result!" and most people keep silent under the growing conviction that this "may go on for years."

One thing I really must tell you—not a person mentioned the Lusitania at the tea-party, which was, I suppose, a handsome effort at reticence, since the lady of the house was an American, and the Stars and Stripes, in little, were fluttering over the chimney.

I take note of one remark in your last letter, in reply to mine of May 18. You twit me with "rounding off my periods." I apologize. You must remember that I earned my bread and salt doing that for years, and habit is strong. I no longer do it with my tongue in my cheek. My word for that.