March 7

Sunday, March 7th.—We are stuck in the jolly place close to G.H.Q., but can't leave the train as there are no orders. I've been having a French class, with the wall of the truck for a blackboard, and occasional bangs from a big gun somewhere.

March 7, 1864

Monday. We left Key West about ten last night. We are now out of sight of land, and I suppose are in the Gulf of Mexico. The weather is hot as blazes. So hot an awning has been put over the quarter-deck, and it is now a most delightful spot to sit and watch the porpoises play.

March 7, 1863

Was carried back into the house to-day and put among the convalescents. I must be getting well, but it is slow. Most all the time I was worst off Dr. Andrus let me have anything I wanted to eat, but then I couldn't eat it. Now I can eat, he has cut me down to nothing. What he allows me only makes me crazy for more.

Very pleasant but colder than yesterday; have been hard at work all day with some men decorating the chapel with evergreens, etc.; got some help from the ladies; reception and dancing this evening. General J. B. Carr and lady were present and other distinguished guests. Captain Samuel Darrah was floor manager. Captain E. B. Frost looked after the supper; brilliant party.

March Seventh

The opening of the University of Virginia was an event of prime importance for the higher education in the whole country, and really marks a new era. In the South this university completely dominated the situation down to the war and for some time afterwards, being the model for most that was best in the colleges everywhere, setting the standards to which they aspired, and being the source of constant stimulus and inspiration.

Charles F. Smith
(University of Wisconsin )

 

University of Virginia opened, 1825

 

 

162. John Adams

Philadelphia, 7 March, 1777.

The President, who is just arrived from Baltimore, came in a few minutes ago and delivered me yours of February 8, which he found at Susquehanna River, on its way to Baltimore. It gives me great pleasure to find that you have received so many letters from me, although I knew they contained nothing of importance. I feel a restraint in writing, like that which you complain of, and am determined to go on trifling. However, the post now comes regularly, and I believe you may trust it. I am anxious and impatient to hear of the march of the Massachusetts soldiers for the new army. They are much wanted.

This city is a dull place in comparison of what it was. More than one half the inhabitants have removed into the country, as it was their wisdom to do. The remainder are chiefly Quakers, as dull as beetles. From these neither good is to be expected nor evil to be apprehended. They are a kind of neutral tribe, or the race of the insipids. Howe may possibly attempt this town, and a pack of sordid scoundrels, male and female, seem to have prepared their minds and bodies, houses and cellars, for his reception; but these are few, and more despicable in character than number. America will lose nothing by Howe's gaining this town. No such panic will be spread by it now as was spread by the expectation of it in December. However, if we can get together twenty thousand men by the first of April Mr. Howe will scarcely cross Delaware River this year. New Jersey may yet be his tomb, where he will have a monument very different from his brother's [164] in Westminster Abbey.

I am very uneasy that no attempt is made at Rhode Island. There is but a handful left there, who might be made an easy prey. The few invalids who are left there are scattered over the whole island, which is eleven miles in length, and three or four wide. Are New England men such sons of sloth and fear as to lose this opportunity? We may possibly remove again from hence, perhaps to Lancaster or Reading. It is good to change place; it promotes health and spirits; it does good many ways; it does good to the place we remove from, as well as to that we remove to, and it does good to those who move. I long to be at home at the opening spring, but this is not my felicity. I am tenderly anxious for your health and for the welfare of the whole house.

Footnotes:

[164]Erected at the expense of Massachusetts Bay, pursuant to a vote of the General Court in 1758.

La Madeleine, March 7, 1883

This is only a hasty line of thanks and congratulation on your prosperous journey. I have not yet seen either the Wolvertons or the Anson family, and to-day there are a couple of inches of snow over Cannes. Incorrigible Potter circulates the Financial Reform Almanack in the name of the Cobden Club, for which Reay, A. Russell, and others have denounced him. He asked me to read it through, which has been the melancholy occupation of a whole day, ending in agreement with the critics.

I am losing Mallet, who is less well and goes to Mentone. Also, Colonel Hay,[193 ] Lincoln's secretary and biographer, who proved a most agreeable acquaintance. Yesterday, there was an expedition to Pégomas (Houghton, Dempsters, &c.) and I find that the old lady[194 ] is the original of St. Monica in Ary Scheffer's picture. Myers, translator of Homer, is here, with a nice, newly-married wife, and Cross is in great force, writing the biography[195 ] and wanting me to read the papers.

Thanks for the MS., with the answer for which pray express my acknowledgments.

*****

You have heard that the Ashburnham MSS. are offered to the Museum, and that some of them were stolen from public libraries in France. We propose, if we buy at all, to resell to France as many of these as can be proved to be stolen, and Delisle, the French Panizzi, comes this week to produce his evidence, amicably, before the Museum experts.

I say nothing about the purchase, and have only insisted that —— was a thief, and that we must, as we did before, make terms with Paris. But I want you to know that Léopold Delisle is one of the most eminent scholars in France, that he is a most estimable and high-minded man, tho' not a conspicuous bookmaker or littérateur, that he stands as high in Germany as any Frenchman living, and that I have long enjoyed the privilege of his friendly acquaintance. So that, if it should be otherwise feasible, any civility shown him by the P.M.[196 ] on this his very peculiar international mission, would be taken in France as a marked sign of courtesy and goodwill, just after the visit to France.

This is quite independent of the decision the Treasury may come to about the grant. I may add that Delisle is perfectly trustworthy, and that we are safe in the hands of the Museum people, to come to right judgments as to the MSS....

Cross has shown me, with some secrecy, a very curious letter of Dickens, declaring that only a woman could have written the "Scenes from Clerical Life." But he gives no good reason, and I am persuaded that he had heard the secret from Herbert Spencer, who at once detected it. I dare not express my doubt. John Morley writes pleasantly, but says he still feels like a fish out of water on the benches.

This is written at your table in considerable solitude and vacancy.

*****

I have just heard that Green is dead, and I must go to Mentone....


[193 ] Mr. Secretary Hay.

[194 ] Mrs. Hollond.

[195 ] Of George Eliot.

[196 ] Prime Minister.

Cannes March 7, 1881

When the accident[95 ] happened, the Cardwells had a favourable telegram from a friend of yours, and we learned the news and Paget's verdict together. You must have passed through terrible moments at first. But the best thing about it was your setting off to amuse yourself at Oxford. All England has been made to feel the truth of what you say, and Mr. Gladstone is almost the only man who does not ask the question: What is to be done if he is disabled?

I must give up my friend Sir Bartle at last. I thought he had courage and self-command; but he has been showing the mean spirit of recent Toryism in a way I did not suspect.

Your father's resolute adherence to principle, and his ascendency over weaker colleagues will be put to a grievous trial by the folly of the hapless Jingo[96 ] Wolseley bequeathed to the new government.

I had a cousin who travelled beyond the Vaal, and at last died there. He taught me to believe that the Boers were excellent fighting materials. But Sir Garnet pretends that they are liars and cowards, the only white race retrograding. So that Sir Bartle is not the only South African authority I must relinquish.

I hope you really like Sir James Paget. You know that he is one of my Blue Roses, and makes up for my manifold disbeliefs in great contemporaries. The author[97 ] of the novel just mentioned is here, and is our amiable and hospitable neighbour. There has been such a Whip for Candahar that five people asked to pair with me. They are not, on the whole, interesting travellers, except one, with a handsome and over-married wife. And we have had Sir Louis Mallet, very interesting, and very sound about Afghanistan.

I am just off to Rome, to bring my mother-in-law away, who has spent the winter there, and to see what ten years, and a new pope and new king have made of it. I am only allowed a week's holiday, and must crowd a good deal into it. The Sermons[98 ] will be my first resource when I come back next week. Thank you, beforehand, so very much for them. I did not guess the secret history, and, after your letter, the Arms Bill was a disappointment. When in England I convinced myself that there was, at that time, no threat of invasion or insurrection; but when I saw the Bill going on, I fancied "Endymion" might be right about that hidden danger.

*****

Your letter came in the middle of this one of mine, and I can hardly send a word of gratitude for such kindness. Until George Eliot I thought G.S.[99 ] the greatest writer of her sex in all literature. I cannot read her now. But that is individual taste, not deliberate judgment. She is as eloquent as one can be in French—the unreal, unhealthy eloquence that Rousseau brought in, that the Girondins spoke, that Chateaubriand, Lamennais, Lamartine made so popular, that nobody but Hugo strives after now, and that was modified in her case by Polish influences. Some of these Frenchmen live on nothing else; and if one plucks them, or puts their thoughts into one's own language, little remains. But she had passion, and understood it, and deep sympathy, and speculative thought, and the power—in less degree—of creating character. She could rise very high, for a moment, and her best prose is like a passage from good poets. It is a splendid exhibition, diffuse, ill-regulated, fatiguing, monotonous. There is not the mastery, the measure, the repose one learns from Goethe and the Greeks. She scatters over twenty volumes the resources her English rival concentrates into a chapter. There is beauty, but not wisdom; emotion, but not instruction; and, except in her wonderful eye for external nature, very little truth. I would call her a bad Second—such as Swinburne is to Shelley, or Heine to Schiller—comparisons which involve a great deal of disparagement.

The conversation of those three great men[100 ] is very curious—I should have liked to see and hear them.... If, by chance, there was a message or a commission for Rome, I shall be at the H. d'Angleterre until next Monday.

[95 ] Mr. Gladstone fell on the ice as he entered the gardens of Downing Street, and cut open the back of his head.

[96 ] Sir Bartle Frere, then Governor of Cape Colony.

[97 ] Miss Dempster.

[98 ] "Sermons in a College Chapel," by J. R. Illingworth.

[99 ] George Sand.

[100 ] Gladstone, Tennyson, and Paget.