March 17

The weather still continues boisterous. Hon. Portus Baxter's son arrived in camp last evening with several other Vermont gentlemen. They gave an entertainment at the Colonel's mess house this evening for the officers of the Tenth. I did not attend. Lieutenant E. P. Farr returned from Vermont this evening; received a letter from home.

March 17, 1864

Thursday. We unloaded ourselves and our belongings, and teams soon carted them to the high ground above. We settled in the quarters just vacated by the 22d C. D. A., borrowed some tents and in a little while were living like soldiers again. I could not help thinking how different was our coming this time from what it was almost a year ago. Then it took us six long weeks to get inside, and now not as many hours. As we had no orders, we looked about the place for a while and then settled down, I to my everlasting task of writing.

March 17, 1863

Last night I got a little box from home. That I may never forget a single thing in it I'll put them right down now. On top was a New York Sun, next a dear little letter from Jane. A little package of tea, a bottle of Arnold's Balsam, a pipe, a comb (wish it had been a fine tooth comb), a little hand looking-glass, a spool of thread, a lot of buttons, a good lead pencil, a pair of scissors, a ball of soap, half a paper of pins, a darning needle and a small needle, a steel pen and way down in the bottom a little gold locket which made the tears come. God bless the dear ones at home. How thoughtful and how kind of them to think of so many things, and all useful, too.

March Seventeenth

“THE GALLANT PELHAM”—Robert E. Lee

Just as the Spring came laughing through the strife,
With all its gorgeous cheer;
In the bright April of historic life,
Fell the great cannoneer....

We gazed and gazed upon that beauteous face,
While round the lips and eyes,
Couched in their marble slumber, flashed the grace
Of a divine surprise.
James Ryder Randall

 

Lieutenant-Colonel John Pelham killed at Kelly's Ford, Va., 1863

Roger Brooke Taney born, 1777

 

 

March 17

March 17, 1870.--This morning the music of a brass band which had stopped under my windows moved me almost to tears. It exercised an indefinable, nostalgic power over me; it set me dreaming of another world, of infinite passion and supreme happiness. Such impressions are the echoes of paradise in the soul; memories of ideal spheres, whose sad sweetness ravishes and intoxicates the heart. O Plato! O Pythagoras! ages ago you heard these harmonies--surprised these moments of inward ecstacy--knew these divine transports! If music thus carries us to heaven, it is because music is harmony, harmony is perfection, perfection is our dream, and our dream is heaven. This world of quarrels and bitterness, of selfishness, ugliness, and misery, makes us long involuntarily for the eternal peace, for the adoration which has no limits, and the love which has no end. It is not so much the infinite as the beautiful that we yearn for. It is not being, or the limits of being, which weigh upon us; it is evil, in us and without us. It is not all necessary to be great, so long as we are in harmony with the order of the universe. Moral ambition has no pride; it only desires to fill its place, and make its note duly heard in the universal concert of the God of love.

March 17

March 17, 1868.--Women wish to be loved without a why or a wherefore; not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves. All analysis seems to them to imply a loss of consideration, a subordination of their personality to something which dominates and measures it. They will have none of it; and their instinct is just. As soon as we can give a reason for a feeling we are no longer under the spell of it; we appreciate, we weigh, we are free, at least in principle. Love must always remain a fascination, a witchery, if the empire of woman is to endure. Once the mystery gone, the power goes with it. Love must always seem to us indivisible, insoluble, superior to all analysis, if it is to preserve that appearance of infinity, of something supernatural and miraculous, which makes its chief beauty. The majority of beings despise what they understand, and bow only before the inexplicable. The feminine triumph par excellence is to convict of obscurity that virile intelligence which makes so much pretense to enlightenment. And when a woman inspires love, it is then especially that she enjoys this proud triumph. I admit that her exultation has its grounds. Still, it seems to me that love--true and profound love--should be a source of light and calm, a religion and a revelation, in which there is no place left for the lower victories of vanity. Great souls care only for what is great, and to the spirit which hovers in the sight of the Infinite, any sort of artifice seems a disgraceful puerility.

March 17

March 17, 1861.--This afternoon a homicidal languor seized hold upon me--disgust, weariness of life, mortal sadness. I wandered out into the churchyard, hoping to find quiet and peace there, and so to reconcile myself with duty. Vain dream! The place of rest itself had become inhospitable. Workmen were stripping and carrying away the turf, the trees were dry, the wind cold, the sky gray--something arid, irreverent, and prosaic dishonored the resting-place of the dead. I was struck with something wanting in our national feeling--respect for the dead, the poetry of the tomb, the piety of memory. Our churches are too little open; our churchyards too much. The result in both cases is the same. The tortured and trembling heart which seeks, outside the scene of its daily miseries, to find some place where it may pray in peace, or pour out its grief before God, or meditate in the presence of eternal things, with us has nowhere to go. Our church ignores these wants of the soul instead of divining and meeting them. She shows very little compassionate care for her children, very little wise consideration for the more delicate griefs, and no intuition of the deeper mysteries of tenderness, no religious suavity. Under a pretext of spirituality we are always checking legitimate aspirations. We have lost the mystical sense; and what is religion without mysticism? A rose without perfume.

The words repentance and sanctification are always on our lips. But adoration and consolation are also two essential elements in religion, and we ought perhaps to make more room for them than we do.

Wednesday, March 17th.—I didn't tell you that yesterday a kind I.M.S. colonel at the place where we took the Indians on showed us a huge pile of used shell cases near the station, and we all had some. I've got a twelve-pounder and a sixteen-pounder, like my pom-poms, only huge. Next time he's going to get us some Gurkha's kukries. On the way down a little Gurkha happened to get off the train for a minute, and when he looked round the train had gone past him. He ran after it, and perched on one of the buffers till the next stop, when he reappeared, trembling with fright, but greeted with roars of amusement by the other Gurkhas.

We had some more to-day, including twelve with mumps, and one who insisted on coming with his mumpy friend though quite well himself!

We woke this morning at Merville, one of the railheads for Neuve Chapelle, and loaded up very early—guns going as hard as ever. Mine were a very bad lot—British (except the twelve native mumpers), including some brave Canadians. They kept me very busy till the moment of unloading, which is a difficult and painful business with these bad ones; but the orderlies are getting very gentle and clever with them. I had among them eight Germans, several mere boys. One insisted on kissing my hand, much to the orderlies' amusement.

(A truckful of pigs outside is making the most appalling noise. 11 p.m. I am writing in bed. We generally move up about 11.30 p.m.)

Every journey we hear thrilling accounts, rumours, and forecasts, most of which turn out to be true. We have had a lot of the St Eloi people.

There were several versions of a story of some women being found in a captured German trench. One version said they were French captives, another that they were German wives.

In one compartment were five Tommies being awfully kind to one German; and yet if he had a rifle, and they had theirs, he'd be a dead man.

The hospitals at Boulogne are so busy that no one goes off duty, and they are operating all night.

We had time for a blow across the bridge after unloading, and I happened to meet my friend S. (who was at Havre). She is on night duty, and they are grappling with those awful cases all night as hard as they can go. Four were taken out of the motor ambulances dead this week; the jolting is the last straw for the worst ones; it can't possibly be helped, "but it seems a pity."

In all this rush we happen to have had nights in bed, which makes all the difference.

The pigs still squeal, but I must try and go to sleep.

88. John Adams

Philadelphia, 17 March, 1776.

Our worthy friend, Frank Dana, arrived here last evening from New York, to which place he came lately from England in the packet. In company with him is a gentleman by the name of Wrixon, who has been a field-officer in the British army, served all the last war in Germany, and has seen service in every part of Europe. He left the army some time ago, and studied law in the Temple, in which science he made a great proficiency. He wrote, lately, a pamphlet under the title of "The Rights of Britons," which he has brought over with him. He is a friend of liberty, and thinks justly of the American question. He has great abilities, as well as experience in the military science, and is an able engineer. I hope we shall employ him.

The Baron de Woedtke we have made a Brigadier-general, and ordered him to Canada. The testimonials in his favor I shall inclose to you.[130] Mr. Dana's account, with which Mr. Wrixon's agrees, ought to extinguish, in every mind, all hopes of reconciliation with Great Britain. This delusive hope has done us great injuries, and, if ever we are ruined, will be the cause of our fall. A hankering after the leeks of Egypt makes us forget the cruelty of her task-masters.

I shall suffer many severe pains on your account for some days. By a vessel from Salem a cannonade was heard from dark till nine o'clock, last night was a week ago. Your vicinity to such scenes of carnage and desolation as, I fear, are now to be seen in Boston and its environs, will throw you into much distress, but I believe in my conscience, I feel more here than you do. The sound of cannon was not so terrible when I was at Braintree as it is here, though I hear it at four hundred miles distance.

You can't imagine what a mortification I sustain in not having received a single line from you since we parted. I suspect some villainy in conveyance. By the relation of Mr. Dana, Mr. Wrixon, and Mr. Temple, Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Sewall, and their associates are in great disgrace in England. Persons are ashamed to be seen to speak to them. They look despised and sunk.

I shall inclose an extract of a letter from Mons. Dubourg in Paris, and a testimonial in favor of our Prussian General. Adieu.

Footnotes:

[130]Neither Major Wrixon nor the Baron de Woedtke fulfilled the hopes formed of them. The former declined his appointment, the rank of colonel not being equal to his expectations. The latter proved intemperate and was soon afterwards drowned at Lake George.

La Madeleine March 17, 1884

May I employ the fleeting and disrespectful pencil to express sentiments of the most opposite kind? I am still so stupidly weak, unaccountably pulled by an illness which is an anachronism here, that I am afraid to wait till I am quite ripe for ink, to speak of the happy time I owed to your companionship in the two capitals of greater Britain. There has never been anything like it, and I wonder when there will again. Cambridge is in reserve; but nothing can ever equal the sensation of festive home among people I had never seen, that you procured for me at Keble. The worst recollection is the parting at Paddington. I chose my hour next day so badly that, coming at 6, I found your mother invisible, yourself out, and your sister gone. I have said nothing yet to M——; but I do look forward two months to another meeting. I am very glad that my last conversation with Mr. Gladstone left no worse impression, for in the obscurity of St. James I preached heavily on my favourite text: "après moi le déluge;" and on my favourite preacher.

Meanwhile the troublesome question of retirement is in a new phase. The half Reform bill is floated by a half pledge as to redistribution which is personal to himself. He cannot leave it to be redeemed by others, who, he expressly stated, are not parties to it. He is virtually pledged to complete the work himself; that is, to meet the next Parliament. For they will inevitably force him to dissolve in the autumn, if they do not succeed in crowding out the Reform question. If not carried by an immense majority, it will be carried by Irish votes. The Lords will be able to say that England ought to be consulted definitely, that it ought not to be overruled by Ireland, in an old Parliament, and that such a change in the Constitution is not to be carried by enemies of the Constitution until the country has pronounced.

I don't imagine that it is a bad point to dissolve upon—at any rate, there is no swopping in such a crossing.

But I suppose he has abandoned the hope of himself retiring from Egypt, and if he does not, nobody else will; and so one must begin to face what is inevitable, and to acknowledge that the Soudan has altered our position in Egypt. A further complication cannot be far off. The best time to re-open the Turkish question will be whilst we are a little damaged as to disinterestedness by Cyprus and Egypt, whilst our increased security makes us less anxious and less nervous about Constantinople, and whilst the censor of the Turk resides at No. 10. The position in the East is so much altered since Berlin[214 ] that Russia will not long be bound by that Treaty, having a price by which Austria can be won. Every step of that sort will help to fix us in Egypt.

And as long as we are at Alexandria or even at Souakim, the future of Central Africa will depend on us, or at least on our people. I do not believe that Mr. Gladstone would revive John Company and send him to the Equatorial lakes; and yet I fancy there is an opening there for inventive statesmanship.

My eagerness about Liddon's elevation does not mean that my head was turned by the ambush of that deferential Sacristan at Oxford Station,[215 ] or that the Warden[216 ] talked me over—though he talked wisely. For I am not in harmony with Liddon, and scarcely in sympathy. He has weak places that nobody sees and resents so sharply as I do; and he has got over, or swallowed, such obstacles on the road to Rome that none remain which, as it seems to me, he ought logically or legitimately to strain at. I will even confess to you alone—that that affair of Rosmini leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. But one might pick holes in any man, even in the new Bishop of Chester.[217 ] Nothing steadies a ship like a mitre—and as to his soundness, his determination to work in and through the Church, and not on eccentric courses, I satisfied myself with the supreme authority of Dean Church, on my last night in town. One cannot help seeing that Liddon is a mighty force, not yet on its level. He knows how to kindle and how to propel. Newman and Wilberforce may have had the same power, but one was almost illiterate; the other knows what he might have learnt in the time of Waterland or Butler; whereas Liddon is in contact with all that is doing in the world of thought....


[214 ] Treaty of Berlin, 1878.

[215 ] Dr. Liddon met Lord A. and Miss G. at the station.

[216 ] Dr. Talbot.

[217 ] Dr. Stubbs.