March 25

Chilly wind from the southeast; very cloudy; looks like rain; Company drill from 10 to 11 a. m. Our Third Division of the Third Corps has been permanently transferred as Third Division of the Sixth Corps, Brigadier-General Prince assuming command of the division. General French is ordered to Washington, D. C. Our regiment was a favorite with him, and the officers met in the chapel this evening to pass resolutions of regret, although we are glad to go to the gallant Sixth Corps if ours must be broken up.

March Twenty-Fifth

Nor had Calvert planted English institutions in Maryland simply as he found them. He went back to a better time for freedom of action, and looked forward to a better time for freedom of thought. While as yet there was no spot in Christendom where religious belief was free, and when even the Commons of England had openly declared against toleration, he founded a community wherein no man was to be molested for his faith.

William Hand Browne

 

Landing of the Maryland colonists, St. Clement's Island, 1634

 

 

March 25, 1864

Friday. We reached Alexandria about midnight. The 128th went ashore, but we of the recruiting squad remained on board. We hear nothing of Colonel Bostwick and the others that were left behind. After breakfast I went ashore and looked up the 128th, and also looked about the place. It is a pretty place, not quite so large as Baton Rouge, but in every way a much better place to live in. A broad street runs along next the levee, and appears to be the principal business street. The Court House, a large brick building stands on a square by itself, and is the finest building I saw. Alexandria is rather a big village than a city. The streets are wide, and the houses are not crowded up against each other. Nearly every house has a yard and one or more shade trees in it. I saw no fortifications. If there are any they are outside. Altogether it is the finest place to live in I have seen in Louisiana. General Smith had taken possession, and we had only to walk in and enjoy ourselves. Towards night the negroes began to flock in and we enlisted quite a number. Dr. Andrus staid with us. The pilot let us in his house, where we rigged up a checker-board and played till most morning. Neither of us had anything to brag about when we finally gave it up.

Thursday, March 25th.—There is a great deal of very neat and elaborate glass market-gardening going on round Rouen: it looks from the train an unbroken success; thousands of fat little plants with their glass hats off and thousands more with them on, and very little labour that can be seen. But the vegetables we buy for our mess are not particularly cheap.

p.m.R.— There are three trains waiting here, or rather at S., which means a blessed lull for the people in the firing line.

There was a day or two after Neuve Chapelle when the number of wounded overflowed the possibilities of "collection"; the stretcher-bearers were all hit and the stretchers were all used, and there were not enough medical officers to cope with the numbers (extra ones were hurried up from the Base Hospitals very quickly), and if you wanted to live you had to walk or crawl, or stay behind and die. We had a Canadian on who told me last night that he should never forget the stream of wounded dragging themselves along that road from Neuve Chapelle to Estaires who couldn't be found room for in the motor ambulances. Two trains picked them up there, and there were many deaths on the trains and in the motor ambulances. The "Evacuation" was very thorough and rapid to the bases and to the ships, but in any great battle involving enormous casualties on both sides there must be some gaps you can't provide for.

March 25

March 25, 1851.--How many illustrious men whom I have known have been already reaped by death, Steffens, Marheineke, Neander, Mendelssohn, Thorwaldsen, Oelenschläger, Geijer, Tegner, Oersted, Stuhr, Lachmann; and with us, Sismondi, Töpffer, de Candolle, savants, artists, poets, musicians, historians. [Footnote: Of these Marheineke, Neander, and Lachmann had been lecturing at Berlin during Amiel's residence there. The Danish dramatic poet Oelenschläger and the Swedish writer Tegner were among the Scandinavian men of letters with whom he made acquaintance during his tour of Sweden and Denmark in 1845. He probably came across the Swedish historian Geijer on the same occasion. Schelling and Alexander von Humboldt, mentioned a little lower down, were also still holding sway at Berlin when he was a student. There is an interesting description in one of his articles on Berlin, published in the Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève, of a university ceremonial there in or about 1847, and of the effect produced on the student's young imagination by the sight of half the leaders of European research gathered into a single room. He saw Schlosser, the veteran historian, at Heidelberg at the end of 1843.] The old generation is going. What will the new bring us? What shall we ourselves contribute? A few great old men--Schelling, Alexander von Humboldt, Schlosser--still link us with the glorious past. Who is preparing to bear the weight of the future? A shiver seizes us when the ranks grow thin around us, when age is stealing upon us, when we approach the zenith, and when destiny says to us: "Show what is in thee! Now is the moment, now is the hour, else fall back into nothingness! It is thy turn! Give the world thy measure, say thy word, reveal thy nullity or thy capacity. Come forth from the shade! It is no longer a question of promising, thou must perform. The time of apprenticeship is over. Servant, show us what thou hast done with thy talent. Speak now, or be silent forever." This appeal of the conscience is a solemn summons in the life of every man, solemn and awful as the trumpet of the last judgment. It cries, "Art thou ready? Give an account. Give an account of thy years, thy leisure, thy strength, thy studies, thy talent, and thy works. Now and here is the hour of great hearts, the hour of heroism and of genius."

Cannes March 25, 1881

Rome is the cause of all my delinquency. I remained a week, very ill with sunshine and south wind, but very happy, and supremely grateful for your letters and Illingworth's Sermons. Travellers' Rome is what it was; but in the real city the change is like the work of centuries. The religious activity and appearance that were of old are gone, and their place is usurped by things profane. The State has so thrown the Church into the background, that the Leonine city sleeps like a faded and deserted suburb, and one must look behind the scenes for what used to be the glory and the pride of Rome. The bewildered Girondin[101 ] at the Vatican, who stands so well with the Castle,[102 ] I did not see, but heard much of his moderation, patience, and despair. I think he is the first Pope who has been wise enough to despair, and has felt that he must begin a new part, and steer by strange stars over an unknown sea.

I found a British ambassador devoid of political influence and understanding, but splendidly hospitable, and good-natured even to the friends of his own government. Layard, after serving the Court as a stick to beat Paget with, had left before I came. Almost all my time was spent with the two friends[103 ] whom you remember at a memorable examination at Venice, and seven days passed like hours. But why do I write all this? Am I not going to see you soon? I hear of a friendly yacht in the Mediterranean, and of his family accompanying the P.M. That can only mean embarkation at Cannes. It will be a joy for us indeed, and nothing shall be left undone to make your stay here as pleasant and as long as possible. You will not take long to understand that it is one of the sweetest spots in Europe. Let this be an assured element in all your Easter plans, that you will find here a haven of rest and friends not to be surpassed in affection by any elsewhere. Tell me what rooms to take at a neighbouring snug hotel. Or do you stay at Capodimonte? Nothing here spoken of must be to the detriment of six weeks with the Professor[104 ] at peaceful Tegernsee, between August and October.

Lecky seems to me to have composed unconscious of another tune running in his head. The likeness is greater in the description than in the reality. Chatham had public virtue, genius, energy, coupled with the magic power of transmitting it, the strength that comes with unselfish passion, and a grand way of spending popularity that others meanly hoard. He had few ideas, less instruction than Fox or Shelburne, too little political knowledge for a clear notion of his own place, of the stair he stood upon in history, or for any definite view of the English or European future. I admit no comparison,[105 ] except with the Burke of 1770-80. That early Burke would have made the peace with the Africanders, which is the noblest work of the Ministry.

When you seem to doubt what I think of it, you mean that Coercion has robbed me of my footing in your confidence. Four weeks ago a very eminent foreigner wrote to me that the discovery of the Afghan papers would chill your father's Russian sympathies. After explaining that the discovery was not new for Ministers, I begged my friend to dismiss sympathies for principles, and to understand that there are in the world men who treat politics as the art of doing, on the largest scale, what is right; and I informed him that he would presently see peace made with the Boers on terms of great moderation, after disasters unavenged, in defiance of military indignation, in spite of lost prestige. You see that I knew what I was saying. Bearing in mind how strong a weapon of offence is thus given to enemies at home, considering the strength the offended feelings lately showed, and the weakness that lies in the attitude of the Government down to the time of our defeats, I declare that I rejoice in this inward victory with heartier joy and a purer pride than I have been able to feel at any public event since I broke my heart over the surrender of Lee.[106 ]

Carlyle's two volumes are crowded with grotesque eloquence, but they make him smaller in my eyes (nothing could make him worse). The account of Southey seems to me to do him less harm than the rest. "Common Sense" I read and recognised as Hayward. It seemed to me nearly true; but I thought the Times  and Temps  near the truth.

Your question about my injustice to Germany before 1840 touches a vital point, and you narrowly escape a very long answer. Scientific Germany was hardly born in all those years when Goethe, Schleiermacher, Schlegel, Richter reigned. The real, permanent, commanding work of the nation has been done by a generation of men very many of whom I have known. To me it seemed that Carlyle spoke of great men before Agamemnon, and the bonfires that were good in the dark obscure the daylight.

And there would be much to say about the appreciation of the French and German genius, and the unpleasant reciprocity of chilled sympathy. But even if I could convince you of the fact, I do not know the reason. Let me only say, to prove that I am not fearful of giving you pain, that I think there is some want of method in his[107 ] pursuit of foreign literature. Things come to him by a sort of accident, are pressed on him by some occasion, and are taken up with absorbing vigour, not always with a distinct recognition of the book's place in its series, of the writer's place among other writers. That sort of knowledge can only be obtained by close and constant study of Reviews, by men having more patience than urgent steam pressure, by much indistinct groping and long suspense. This seems unreasonably confused; yet I think you will see what I mean by the time we have taken a walk over the hill of Californie,[108 ] from which you gaze on fifty miles of the Riviera.

To-morrow I must be away from home; so I write in ignorance of your brother's speech on Candahar. I am sure, if he spoke on so good a subject, he justified Challemel. It will be a real privilege to hear Lowell discourse on Dante. I am sorry the Paradiso,[109 ] which is in the press, has not appeared. It is a good thing for all parties that Lowell should be linked by more than political chains.

The Sermons[110 ] have been unjustly taken by Wickham before I could read them; but I shall have them soon. I saw enough to justify all you said, in former letters. There is an originality about them which obliges one to think again before acquiescing in everything. The next number of the Church Quarterly  will be very interesting to me. But there will be a dreadful cold shower-bath when the "Life"[111 ] appears.

"Consuelo" is a very great novel. Afterwards she[112 ] threw herself away on Monographs. I know that I don't like her; but I don't think I could ever have compared Miss Brontë or Miss Austen to her.

*****

Do you know an M.P. of the name of Lea? He is a rich Kidderminster carpet manufacturer, and is member, now, for Derry. I have seldom met a more thoughtful, intelligent, and satisfactory man. He has been to Aldenham, and I have stayed with him at Kidderminster, and thought him so sensible, so full of resource, that I should think him worth talking to about Ireland.... He was an Independent, and has, I think, conformed. Among your friends, apart from Whips, I should expect Bryce to know all about him. If he comes to a Tuesday I entreat you to remember that he has impressed me, and friends who are better judges than I, in a way not common among the people one meets in small provincial towns and societies. I have a good deal more to say, but I fancy it will lose nothing by waiting for the Paris Express. Meanwhile the great veil will be lifted from the Budget and the Sempronian Law,[113 ] and I await a rare excitement. Keep Cannes and Tegernsee steadily in view.

[101 ] Leo XIII.

[102 ] Dublin Castle.

[103 ] Minghetti and Bonghi.

[104 ] Dr. Döllinger.

[105 i.e., of Mr. Gladstone.

[106 ] Lord Acton said elsewhere of Lee—"The greatest general the world has ever seen, with the possible exception of Napoleon."

[107 ] Mr. Gladstone's.

[108 ] At Cannes.

[109 ] Scartazzini's.

[110 ] Illingworth's "In a College Chapel."

[111 ] Of George Eliot.

[112 ] George Sand.

[113 ] Meaning the Irish Land Bill. The reference is to the agrarian laws of Tib. and C. Sempronius Gracchus.