March 15

March 15, 1863

Sunday. Have my pants on and have made up my bed. If this keeps on I'll soon be able to hunt for something to eat.

Cold but pleasant; no wind; four hours' drill to-day, but I was excused being so busy at the chapel. I forgot to mention that Captain J. A. Sheldon returned from Vermont last night where he has been on recruiting service since November. The Third Corps is to be reviewed to-morrow by Major-General French.

March Fifteenth

Abhorrence of debt, public and private; dislike of banks, and love of hard money—love of justice and love of country, were ruling passions with Jackson; and of these he gave constant evidence in all the situations of his life.

Thomas Hart Benton

 

Andrew Jackson born, 1767

Battle of Guilford Courthouse, 1871

Through Mr. Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court, Secretary Seward promises the Confederate Commissioners that Fort Sumter would be speedily evacuated, 1861

 

 

March 15

March 15, 1881.--The "Journal" is full of details of the horrible affair at Petersburg. How clear it is that such catastrophes as this, in which the innocent suffer, are the product of a long accumulation of iniquities. Historical justice is, generally speaking, tardy--so tardy that it becomes unjust. The Providential theory is really based on human solidarity. Louis XVI. pays for Louis XV., Alexander II. for Nicholas. We expiate the sins of our fathers, and our grandchildren will be punished for ours. A double injustice! cries the individual. And he is right if the individualist principle is true. But is it true? That is the point. It seems as though the individual part of each man's destiny were but one section of that destiny. Morally we are responsible for what we ourselves have willed, but socially, our happiness and unhappiness depend on causes outside our will. Religion answers--"Mystery, obscurity, submission, faith. Do your duty; leave the rest to God."

March 15

March 15th.--This last lecture in Victor Cherbuliez's course on "Chivalry," which is just over, showed the same magical power over his subject as that with which he began the series two months ago. It was a triumph and a harvest of laurels. Cervantes, Ignatius Loyola, and the heritage of chivalry--that is to say, individualism, honor, the poetry of the present and the poetry of contrasts, modern liberty and progress--have been the subjects of this lecture.

The general impression left upon me all along has been one of admiration for the union in him of extraordinary skill in execution with admirable cultivation of mind. With what freedom of spirit he uses and wields his vast erudition, and what capacity for close attention he must have to be able to carry the weight of a whole improvised speech with the same ease as though it were a single sentence! I do not know if I am partial, but I find no occasion for anything but praise in this young wizard and his lectures. The fact is, that in my opinion we have now one more first rate mind, one more master of language among us. This course, with the "Causeries Athéniennes," seems to me to establish Victor Cherbuliez's position at Geneva.

March 15, 1864

Tuesday. The Laurel Hill, our present habitation, cut loose from foot of Poydras Street this morning and tied up at the foot of First Street. Forage for man and beast soon began to come on board and kept it up by spells all day. The paymaster came and paid everybody but Ames and Van Alstyne. The one is under arrest for drunkenness, and the other has been "absent without leave." We looked on with wistful eyes, but the paymaster never took the hint. Whether out of pity or not I don't know, Colonel Parker invited me to go with him and Captain Hoyt to the theatre. We went, and enjoyed what we saw of it very much. At what seemed to me the most interesting part, the captain of the Laurel Hill came in and said he had orders to go to Port Hudson as soon as he could get up steam. The officers and many of the men were out on pass and we started out to round them up. I found Major Palon at the St. Charles, and he knew where others were likely to be found. He went one way and I another. I found it easier to find them than to get them started for the boat. Some refused to go; thinking it a ruse to get them back on the boat. I did get one started and we double-quicked it to the foot of First Street just in time to get on board. Upon counting noses we found sixteen officers were left behind, Colonel Bostwick among them.

March 15

March 15, 1879.--I have been turning over "Les histories de mon Parrain" by Stahl, and a few chapters of "Nos Fils et nos Filles" by Legouvé. These writers press wit, grace, gayety, and charm into the service of goodness; their desire is to show that virtue is not so dull nor common sense so tiresome as people believe. They are persuasive moralists, captivating story-tellers; they rouse the appetite for good. This pretty manner of theirs, however, has its dangers. A moral wrapped up in sugar goes down certainly, but it may be feared that it only goes down because of its sugar. The Sybarites of to-day will tolerate a sermon which is delicate enough to flatter their literary sensuality; but it is their taste which is charmed, not their conscience which is awakened; their principle of conduct escapes untouched.

Amusement, instruction, morals, are distinct genres. They may no doubt be mingled and combined, but if we wish to obtain direct and simple effects, we shall do best to keep them apart. The well-disposed child, besides, does not like mixtures which have something of artifice and deception in them. Duty claims obedience; study requires application; for amusement, nothing is wanted but good temper. To convert obedience and application into means of amusement is to weaken the will and the intelligence. These efforts to make virtue the fashion are praiseworthy enough, but if they do honor to the writers, on the other hand they prove the moral anaemia of society. When the digestion is unspoiled, so much persuading is not necessary to give it a taste for bread.

Monday, March 15th, 2.30 a.m.—Woke up just as we arrived at Bailleul to hear most incessant cannonade going on I ever heard, even at Ypres. The sky is continually lit up with the flashes from the guns—it is a pitch-dark night—and you can hear the roar of the howitzers above the thud-thud of the others. I think we are too far N. for there to be any French 75's in it. I had to wake Sister D. to see it, as she had never seen anything like it before. We are only a few miles away from it.

Must try and sleep now, as we shall have a heavy day to-day, but it is no lullaby.

4.30 p.m.—Just time for a scrawl. The train is packed with wounded, most of whom, including the poor sitting-ups, are now dead asleep from exhaustion. The British Army is fighting and marching all night now. The Clearing Hospitals get 800 in at a time, many with no dressings on. We have twenty-seven officers on this train alone.

I have a boy of 22 with both legs off. He is dazed and white, and wants shifting very often. Each time you fix him up he says, "That's champion."

Forty of them were shelled in their billets.

The Germans are said to be, some of them, fighting in civilian clothes till they get their uniforms. The men say there are hundreds of young boys and old men among them; they are making a desperate effort and bringing everything they've got into it now.

Later.—We also have mumps, measles, scarlet fever, and diphtheria in the infectious coach.

A baby lieut. with measles showed me some marvellous sketch-maps of German trenches and positions he'd made from observations through a periscope. He also had the very latest thing in sectional war maps, numbered in squares, showing every tree, farm, and puddle and trench: a place with four cross-roads was called "Confusion Corner," leading to a farm called "Rest-and-be-Thankful."

10 p.m.—Just got them all off after a strenuous day, and we are to go up again at 11 p.m.

The two German divisions that reinforced are giving us a tremendous lot to do.

It is just as well that this department was prepared for this, as it all goes like clockwork and an enormous amount of suffering is saved by their preparedness.

The amount that cannot be saved is grim enough.

Must go to bed.

Mentone March 15, 1880

There is so much to ask and say that I have not the courage to begin. I am afraid you will forgive the length neither of my letter nor of my silence, and will be as much bored by the silver of the one as by the golden of the other. But when all the world has its rendezvous in Harley Street, admit me, perdu in the crowd.

In this out-of-the-way region we have been kept up to the mark in home politics by pleasant visits from Freddy Leveson—a robust Gladstonian—Cowper Temple, who told me more than I knew about the world of spirits; Goschen, who spent several days with us, and whose footsteps are very visible on the road that leads away from the Liberal party, through Brookes's, to a moderado coalition; Reay, ... fresh from Midlothian; Mallet,[4 ] doctrinaire, disputatious and desponding, but abounding in criticism of the policy which he represents. Lord Blachford passed, but I did not see him. Nothing carried me back to England more than the two Italians[5 ] whom you overheard at Venice, who were here when I was very ill, but who took me over the whole ground traversed since 1842. Bonghi's essays[6 ] are appearing successively, and they are meant as a lesson for Italians, and break up the career in a way which loses the thread of continuity and the law of its progress and the wealth of the unity therein. But he is exceedingly intelligent and sympathetic, and I hope that he will recast his materials when he puts them together in a volume. When he asked me: Why is Mr. Gladstone so much attached to the Church and so much against establishments? Why is he so generous towards R. Catholics and so hard on the Pope? Why is not Ireland reconciled? Why is not England won?—you will believe that I found my voice again. I don't think the book will ever suit our public, but I should like it to appear in French.

*****

A certain letter of mine acknowledging the gift of the Lancashire Canvassing Speeches was written between the election and the summons to Windsor, in November 1868.[7 ] If it leads you to look at the Bristol electioneering speeches mentioned in it, you will be disappointed; for they will seem to you poor in comparison. In reality, they are an epoch in constitutional history. Burke there laid down, for ever, the law of the relations between members and constituencies, which is the innermost barrier against the reign of democratic force. Charles Sumner once said to me: "Mr. Burke legislated from those hustings." When you met John Morley at Glasgow he had just written a very good life of Burke. It is impossible not to be struck by the many points of resemblance between Burke and your father—the only two men of that stature in our political history—but I have no idea whether they would have been friends or bitter enemies.

Madame de Staël is the author of that saying about liberty, whom I commemorate in terms studiously excluding rivalry with George Eliot.

Do you remember a question as to the number of words in Shakespeare and in Milton? There is all about it in Brother Mark's[8 ] "Life of Milton," which is in the same series as Morley's "Burke."

And another, as to the title of the "Imitation"? I find that it is not the title given by the author—so that Milman's very plausible remark falls through.

Plenty of muffs have written in the Edinbro', but I am not one of them.

You see so many interesting and eminent men that you can spare a miss sometimes. But I am sorry for that silent evening near Lowell. The easy brightness of his mind surpasses all I remember in America. I sat next to him at a dinner at Boston twenty-seven years ago, and spoke of the burying, by Constantine, of the Palladium in a vault at Constantinople. Longfellow would not believe my story. I quoted a passage. "Yes," said Lowell, "but the passage we want is the passage into the vault." Somebody questioned whether the statue of Cromwell would stand among the sovereigns at Westminster. "At least," said he, "among the half-crowns."

I have never met him since. But if I had been fortunate enough to drop in that evening at Ripon's, I rather think I should have liked to sit next to him. You would have seen the difference between a live dog and a dead lion.

Scherer ought to be much obliged to me for the conversation and for the readers I procured him. He is, I think, one of the three best living writers in France—deeper and more subtle than Taine, and infinitely better versed in political questions than Renan. If you see that arch person you will find his conversation, easy and tripping as it is, very inferior to his writings. There are volumes of essays which I am sure you would read with pleasure. And he has a special bone to pick with the author of "A History of Liberty."[9 ]

I sent for Seeley,[10 ] and read him with improvement, with much pleasure, and with more indignation. It is hard in a few crowded lines to explain my meaning on a question so fundamental. The great object, in trying to understand history, political, religious, literary or scientific, is to get behind men and to grasp ideas. Ideas have a radiation and development, an ancestry and posterity of their own, in which men play the part of godfathers and godmothers more than that of legitimate parents. We understand the work and place of Pascal, or Newton, or Montesquieu, or Adam Smith, when we have measured the gap between the state of astronomy, of political economy, &c., before they came and after they were gone. And the progress of the science is of more use to us than the idiosyncrasy of the man. Let me try to explain myself by an example of to-day. Here is Ferry's article 7.[11 ] One way of looking at it is to reckon up the passions, the follies, the vengeance of the republicans, to admire or deplore the victory of the Conservatives, to wonder at the Democrats. But beyond the wishes of the Democrats there are the doctrines of Democracy, doctrines which push things towards certain consequences without help from local or temporary or accidental motives. There is a state built on democratic principles, and a society built, largely, on anti-democratic elements, clergy and aristocracy. Those elements of society must needs react upon the state; that is, try to get political power and use it to qualify the Democracy of the Constitution. And the state power must needs try to react on society, to protect itself against the hostile elements. This is a law of Nature, and the vividness and force with which we trace the motion of history depends on the degree to which we look beyond persons and fix our gaze on things.—This is dreadfully didactic prose. But this is my quarrel with Seeley. He discerns no Whiggism, but only Whigs. And he wonders at the mistakes of the Whigs when he ought to be following up the growth and modifications of their doctrine, and its influence on the Church, on Toleration, on European politics, on the English monarchy, the Colonies, finance, local government, justice, Scotland, and Ireland. So you may read in Alison of the profligacy of Mirabeau, the ferocity of Marat, the weakness of Louis, the sombre fanaticism of Robespierre. But what we want to know is why the old world that had lasted so long went to ruin, how the doctrine of equality sprang into omnipotence, how it changed the principles of administration, justice, international law, taxation, representation, property, and religion. Seeley is as sick as I am of the picturesque scenery of the historians of sense, but he does not like to go straight at the impersonal forces which rule the world, such as predestination, equality, divine right, secularism, Congregationalism, nationality, and whatever other ruling ideas have grouped and propelled associations of men. And my great complaint is that he so much dislikes the intriguers of 1688 that he does not recognise the doctrine of 1688, which is one of the greatest forces, one of the three or four greatest forces, that have contributed to construct our civilisation, and make 1880 so unlike 1680. See H. of L.,[12 ] page 50,000. All which things make me more zealous, eager, anxious about the coming election than you who are in the midst of it, mindful of the blessing of repose and credulous of Seeley. Therefore I read with delight the address to Midlothian—more even than the speech in Marylebone—and am daily refreshed by Lowe, John Morley, even Rogers,[13 ] and fancy how happy the inquisitors were, who put a stop to the people they disagreed with! But I can quite feel your sensation in watching all this.

*****

If we win, then there will be no rest in this life for Mr. Gladstone. The victory will be his, and his only. And so will the responsibility be. Then will come the late harvest and the gathering in of its heavy sheaves. And then there will be not much Hawarden for you.

I heartily wish your brothers success—even the riotous one[14 ]—especially the riotous one. I will come and wish him joy. If we are beaten, I shall be ashamed to let you see my grief. And as it is, I am ashamed to tell you how much I should like to hear from you, because you will suspect that I only want a supplement to the Times, or a later edition of the Echo. But the next few weeks are going to be a great turning-point in the history of our lifetime, and I believe you know how to be generous. Be generous before you are just. Do not temper mercy with justice.

[4 ] Sir Louis.

[5 ] Minghetti and Bonghi.

[6 ] On Mr. Gladstone.

[7 ] Mr. Gladstone was an unsuccessful candidate for South-West Lancashire in 1868. He was at the same time elected for Greenwich.

[8 ] The Reverend Mark Pattison, then Rector of Lincoln.

[9 ] The book on which Lord Acton was then at work, and for which he amassed vast hoards of material.

[10 ] "The Expansion of England."

[11 ] For the expulsion of the Jesuits and other unauthorised congregations from French schools.

[12 ] "History of Liberty."

[13 ] Thorold Rogers, sometime M.P. for Southwark, and Professor of Political Economy at Oxford.

[14 ] Herbert Gladstone.