June 4

The enemy made two unsuccessful assaults last night. Reinforcements are arriving rapidly. The rain yesterday and this afternoon has greatly cooled the air. There has been considerable cannonading on both sides and heavy skirmishing all day. The lines of battle in our immediate front are only about eight hundred yards apart and the skirmish lines are very near each other. The One Hundred and Sixth New York Volunteer Infantry, our favorite fighting companion as a regiment, are digging another line of rifle pits in our front for the pickets. I got a letter from Captain H. R. Steele this afternoon. General Grant issued an order to-day for the army to act on the defensive. Good!

June 4, 1863

Thursday. Last night we had another serenade. No one was hurt so far as I can find out. The regiment was routed out again and moved back to the other side of the woods, on account of the shot and shell which have a way of coming right at us lately. I stuck to my big tree, for although it has been hit two or three times, nothing can ever go through it. The day has passed like the others lately, with nothing to do but loaf about. Two deserters came out of the woods across the field in our front. They say there is but little in Port Hudson to eat, and a great many there to eat it, and that they will eat themselves out soon, even if not another gun is fired.

June Fourth

In the hallowed stillness of your bridal eve, ere the guests have all assembled, lift up to yours the pale face, love's perfect image, and you shall see that vision to which God our Father vouchsafes no equal this side the jasper throne—you shall see the ineffable eyes of innocence entrusting to you, unworthy, oh! so unworthy, her destiny through time and eternity. Inhale the perfume of her breath and hair, that puts the violets of the wood to shame; press your first kiss (for now she is all your own), your first kiss upon the trembling petals of her lips, and you shall hear, with ears you knew not that you had, the silver chiming of your wedding bells far, far up in heaven.

George W. Bagby

 

 

187. John Adams

Philadelphia, 4 June, 1777.

I wish I could know whether your season is cold or warm, wet or dry, fruitful or barren whether you had late frosts, whether those frosts have hurt the fruit, the flax, the corn or vines, etc. We have a fine season here and a bright prospect of abundance.

You will see, by the inclosed papers in a letter from my friend Parsons, a very handsome narration of one of the prettiest exploits of this war, a fine retaliation of the Danbury mischief. Meigs, who was before esteemed a good officer, has acquired by this expedition a splendid reputation. You will see by the same papers, too, that the writers here in opposition to the Constitution of Pennsylvania are making factious use of my name and lucubration; much against my will, I assure you, for although I am no admirer of the form of this government, yet I think it is agreeable to the body of the people, and if they please themselves they will please me. And I would not choose to be impressed into the service of one party or the other, and I am determined I will not enlist. Besides, it is not very genteel in these writers to put my name to a letter [174] from which I cautiously withheld it myself. However, let them take their own way; I shall not trouble myself about it.

I am growing better by exercise and air.

Footnotes:

[174]This was addressed to George Wythe and printed under the title Thoughts on GovernmentWorks of John Adams, Vol. I., p. 208.

June 4

June 4, 1877.--I have just heard the "Romeo and Juliet" of Hector Berlioz. The work is entitled "Dramatic symphony for orchestra, with choruses." The execution was extremely good. The work is interesting, careful, curious, and suggestive, but it leaves one cold. When I come to reason out my impression I explain it in this way. To subordinate man to things--to annex the human voice, as a mere supplement, to the orchestra--is false in idea. To make simple narrative out of dramatic material, is a derogation, a piece of levity. A Romeo and Juliet in which there is no Romeo and no Juliet is an absurdity. To substitute the inferior, the obscure, the vague, for the higher and the clear, is a challenge to common sense. It is a violation of that natural hierarchy of things which is never violated with impunity. The musician has put together a series of symphonic pictures, without any inner connection, a string of riddles, to which a prose text alone supplies meaning and unity. The only intelligible voice which is allowed to appear in the work is that of Friar Laurence: his sermon could not be expressed in chords, and is therefore plainly sung. But the moral of a play is not the play, and the play itself has been elbowed out by recitative.

The musician of the present day, not being able to give us what is beautiful, torments himself to give us what is new. False originality, false grandeur, false genius! This labored art is wholly antipathetic to me. Science simulating genius is but a form of quackery.

Berlioz as a critic is cleverness itself; as a musician he is learned, inventive, and ingenious, but he is trying to achieve the greater when he cannot compass the lesser.

Thirty years ago, at Berlin, the same impression was left upon me by his "Infancy of Christ," which I heard him conduct himself. His art seems to me neither fruitful nor wholesome; there is no true and solid beauty in it.

I ought to say, however, that the audience, which was a fairly full one, seemed very well satisfied.