November 11

Fair day; arrived in Barre by 7 o'clock p. m. stage; took my first degree in masonry to-night. Webber Tilden did the work.

November 11, 1862

John Van has been over again and says his regiment is going into winter quarters in the city outskirts. I hear the 128th has sailed for Fortress Monroe. The papers are all headed, "Removal of McClellan," and everyone is giving his opinion of the change. I say nothing because I know too little about it to venture an opinion. I went out and treated myself to a good square meal to-day and begin to think I was more hungry than sick, for I feel fit and ready for anything. Chaplain Parker has been here to see his boys, as he calls them. Says he left the regiment off Fortress Monroe on board the Arago. He reports them well and in fine spirits.

November Eleventh

“The report of Mr. Stanton, as Secretary of War, on the 19th of July, 1866, exhibits the fact that of the Federal prisoners in Confederate hands during the war, 22,576 died; while of the Confederate prisoners in Federal hands 26,436 died.”

[Since Dr. Stevenson wrote the above (1876), the figures on either side have been added to, but the proportion remains about the same. If nothing more, these figures of comparative mortality should be borne in mind in exoneration of Henry Wirz, and of those of greater responsibility who were accused with him, but who were neither executed nor even brought to trial. A number of gallant Federal officers, once prisoners at Andersonville, have in later years come forward to testify in book and monograph as to the true character of Major Wirz.—Editor]

 

 

Wednesday, November 11th.—Sometimes it seems as if we shall never get home, the future is so unwritten.

A frightful explosion like this Hell of a War, which flared up in a few days, will take so much longer to wipe up what can be wiped up. I think the British men who have seen the desolation and the atrocities in Belgium have all personally settled that it shan't happen in England, and that is why the headlines always read—

"THE BRITISH ARMY IMMOVABLE."
"WAVES OF GERMAN INFANTRY BROKEN."
"ALLIES THROW ENEMY BACK AT ALL POINTS."
"YPRES HELD FOR THREE WEEKS UNDER A RAIN OF SHELLS."

You can tell they feel like that from their entire lack of resentment about their own injuries. Their conversation to each other from the time they are landed on the train until they are taken off is never about their own wounds and feelings, but exclusively about the fighting they have just left. If one only had time to listen or take it down it would be something worth reading, because it is not letters home or newspaper stuff, but told to each other, with their own curious comments and phraseology, and no hint of a gallery or a Press. Incidentally one gets a few eye-openers into what happens to a group of men when a Jack Johnson lands a shell in the middle of them. Nearly every man on the train, especially the badly smashed-up ones, tells you how exceptionally lucky he was because he didn't get killed like his mate.

November 11, 1863

Wednesday. Yesterday I had to skip, or else break into my description of the Ninetieth, and that I did not want to do. Lieutenant Drake went to the city and I attended to his duties as well as my own. An order came for the Ninetieth to report at New Orleans, leaving a guard here to receive and forward such recruits as may be sent in from the front. It does not take soldiers long to move, and the entire outfit, officers and men, were off on the next train, leaving Lieutenant Smith and myself with Company D here to take care of the next squad that comes. Soon after they had gone who should appear but Colonel Bostwick, Adjutant Phillips and Lieutenant Wilson from Newtown with 130 more recruits. They were all hungry and we had quite a time filling so many empty baskets. The colonel looks well and says he feels well. Wilson, however, is sick, and the colonel decided to go on to New Orleans, and to take everything with him except Smith and I, and ten men as guards. They got off on the 5 p. m. train. We had a hustling time getting them off, and after they were gone Smith and I sat down on the platform and smoked.

The weather is cold for the time of year and we lay and shivered till after sunrise. Having no tents left we took up quarters in the same house we were in once before. Had we been out in a tent I don't know how we could have slept at all. We put in the day preparing for another cold night. With the aid of an apology for a stove, a candle and a pack of cards, we passed quite a comfortable evening and night.

Cannes Nov. 11, 1885

I wish I had been with you in Norway or could have seen Hawarden during this most interesting time. Other trouble and travel have made havoc of my correspondence, and when you receive these superfluous lines, the die will have been cast in Midlothian. For I fancy that the enemy's only hope now is that Mr. Gladstone will not be able to address his audience.

Lord Granville has kept me up to the mark as to important matters, and announced the manifesto[260 ] in very warm terms; but his abrupt style of composition is not favourable to the more delicate shades of party division. One makes out, from afar, that Chamberlain is going off from the X.P.M.[261 ] while Goschen is elaborately advancing towards him; also that he, in fact, agrees better with Chamberlain, whilst the policy of the moment draws him to Goschen.

Our Joe ought to know how to bide his time. I suppose he thinks that something must be offered to the new voters that they care for. I imagine that the Church question forms a very real cause of division. Mr. Gladstone's authority will be able to keep it down for the time, and no more.

Let us hope for an utterly overwhelming victory, in spite of some perceptible progress on the part of the Tories. Through a friend I have explained to Bismarck that he must be prepared for this, if only the voice holds. Tories here tell me that they have no real hope. Selborne's name being on the Grey manifesto, I conclude that he will not be Chancellor. It will be possible to strengthen the new Government immensely with new men, but I am afraid a certain friend of ours will claim the Woolsack. The Eastern question makes me very impatient to see Mr. Gladstone in Downing Street again.

If Morier only came to luncheon, you hardly can have seen the change in him. He is a strong man, resolute, ready, well-informed and with some amount of real resource. But ambition long deferred, activity long restrained, a certain coarseness of grain which is coming to the surface, have turned him into a bully, quarrelsome and dangerous. A dexterous Muscovite will always be able to provide an opportunity of putting him in the wrong and getting up an ugly fracas. It is extraordinary what dull men make sufficient diplomatists. Arnold Morley is new to me; I gather from what you say that Russell[262 ] is sure of his seat. I was disturbed to find the Duke so hard on him, and so little support on the more amiable side of the family.

I quite agree with Chamberlain, that there is latent Socialism in the Gladstonian philosophy. What makes me uncomfortable is his inattention to the change which is going on in those things. I do not mean in European opinion, but in the strict domain of science. A certain conversation that you remember, when Stuart, fresh from the horny hands of Democracy,[263 ] produced his heresies, was very memorable to me. But it is not the popular movement, but the travelling of the minds of men who sit in the seat of Adam Smith that is really serious and worthy of all attention. Maine tells me that his book, a Manual of unacknowledged Conservatism, is selling well. It is no doubt meant to help the enemy's cause, and more hostile to us than the author cares to appear. For he requested me not to review it. You know that the new Hatzfeldt is the son of the lady who protected Lassalle, and that it is desirable to speak of his wife as little as of his mother. He is a Berlin bureaucrat, pur sang. I have something to write against time, which keeps me at work during the night until the end of November. Don't mind it, but please tell me what happens, and whether I may come and see you re-installed.

Fancy my disappointment: Paget[264 ] passed under our windows, and Liddon—as he told the World—was at Tegernsee, and I missed them both. The Pagets have set up a delightful daughter-in-law, and a near relation of hers, a Balliol man, son, I believe, of the chief Tory wire-puller in Shropshire, has just come out here....


[260 ] Mr. Gladstone's Election Address, partly written in Norway, containing the Authorised Programme of the Liberal party.

[261 i.e., ex-Prime Minister.

[262 ] Mr. George Russell. He stood for Fulham, but was not elected.

[263 ] At his election for Hoxton.

[264 ] Now Bishop of Oxford.

Midnapore, November 11, 1842

A friend has just made me a present of a very small kind of monkey, about nine inches high, of a light-brown colour. His antics are often very amusing. I fasten him by a chain to a thick pole in the compound, at the top of which is his house. He will sometimes turn his waterpot upside down and sit on it in the gravest possible manner. He will then perhaps stoop down and gather a blade of grass, and examine it as attentively as though he were inquiring to what species and genus it belonged. Perhaps by this time several large knowing-looking crows, something like English magpies, will have collected round him, holding their heads on one side and looking as if they were listening very attentively to his lecture on botany. Presently you would see the sly little monkey turn his eye to see how near they are, and then with one bound he will catch hold of the nearest crow by the neck; but the crow is the stronger of the two and always gets away safe. These crows are as common as sparrows and quite as tame, for they will hop into the verandah and pick up anything the parrots drop. We have two parrots; they are of a kind very common here; so I told a man to go out and catch me a couple, as I wanted to teach them to talk. He did so, and they are now getting very tame. I gave him a few pice for his trouble. They are of a kind that I do not remember ever to have seen in England. The upper mandible is red, the lower black. From the lower mandible extends on each side a broad black stripe, to where we suppose the ears to be; and there is another black stripe from one eye to the other. These stripes give the bird a very peculiar appearance. The upper circle resembles a pair of tortoiseshell spectacles.

I had a young hyæna given to me, which I made every endeavour to tame, giving him milk and food, but nevertheless as soon as I approached he flew at me. As he has scarcely any teeth I did not fear him, but took him in my arms, being careful to keep a tight hold on his neck. He slept during the day, but showed an inclination to go out at night, but, not being permitted to do so, continued making the most extraordinary noises resembling the sobbing of a child in pain. The servants were all afraid of him. Having kept us awake that night, I resolved the next to try him outside the house, and accordingly, fastening him up, I gave him a box to sleep in. The next morning I found he was dead. The servants declared he had been killed by a pack of jackals, but I shrewdly suspected they themselves to have been guilty.

The other day I caught one of those beautiful little squirrels which I have before described. It is grey, with a broad yellow stripe down each side. The body is about as big as my thumb, and the tail the size of my middle finger. I borrowed a common squirrel's cage, but the little thing was so small that it immediately struggled through the wires, and the mungoose, perceiving it, killed and devoured it. A great many of them live in the thatch of our house.

MUSK-RAT—MUNGOOSE.

The musk-rat is a small sharp-snouted animal, from which musk may be extracted. The scent rising from it is overpowering. All the houses here swarm with them, but the mungoose has either killed or driven away all that were here, and our house therefore is quite free from the smell. The mungoose is very destructive. I just left the room for a few minutes, and while absent it commenced demolishing some eggs which I had brought in from the fowl-house: there were eight on the table; he had broken five over my papers and then dipped his paws in the ink and ran over the table. Whilst punishing him for this fault I held him by the neck, but he nevertheless managed to give me a severe scratch with his claws. He is a thorough beast of prey, and will eat nothing but animal food except sugar.

COBRA DE CAPELLO.

The prawns here are most delicious, and many of them are as large as a good-sized lobster. I was crossing my compound in the dusk a few evenings ago, after feeding my fowls and ducks. I walked slowly, thinking of England and my children, when I happened suddenly to cast my eyes upon the ground. I started back on perceiving within two paces of me the dreaded cobra de capello—its head raised, its hood expanded, and manifesting every sign of anger. Two, or at most three, steps more, and I should have trodden upon it and received the fatal bite. Unfortunately I had no stick in my hand; I called the servants to bring bamboos, but by the time they came it had glided into its hole, and I went home thanking the Supreme Being who had saved me from the fearful danger. Since that time I have not been out without a large bamboo in my hand, for, although I have stopped up the hole, yet the cobra de capello is, no doubt, still in my compound. The bite of this snake is most deadly.

During the last fortnight I have heard of three persons having been killed by it in Midnapore. Two of them were hunters, the other was one of the wives of the Rajah. She put her hand into a cupboard to procure something, when a cobra, which had concealed itself there, bit her. When a person is wounded by this venomous reptile he generally expires within an hour. The only possible cure, and that is an uncertain one, is to swallow every few minutes a glass of brandy with some eau de luce, or smelling-salts, dissolved in it, while a man stands near beating you with a heavy whip. Or, instead of this, you may be fastened to a carriage and be compelled to run as fast as possible. The object is to keep you awake, for the danger of the bite consists in the heavy lethargy it produces. The remedies applied, however, are sure to bring on a violent fever, which frequently proves fatal. Few diseases in this country last longer than an hour or two. Fever, cholera, and inflammation of the liver, the three great scourges of India, commonly prove fatal within from two to twelve hours, so that no one can exist here without being constantly reminded of the uncertainty of human life. It is curious that I, who dreaded so greatly the reptiles of India, should have been at once sent to the station where they most abound, for there is probably no place in Bengal where serpents and lizards are so plentiful. Our house is infested by numbers of centipedes, which get on the chairs and on the clothes in a most unpleasant manner. However, we have neither of us yet been bitten.

I have not seen a scorpion alive. My wife and I were walking in the compound the other day, when we saw a very large snake looking at us through the hedge of aloes. It was of a light-brown, and was, I think, five or six feet long.

The other day my servants brought me in a venomous snake which they said they had killed in the compound; I took it up by its tail and carried it into my wife's dressing-room to show it to her. I laid it down on the floor, and soon it began to wriggle away, and, raising its head, turned at us. Fortunately there was a stick at hand, and, taking it up, I killed the animal with one blow. So great is the dread of them here, that no one ever sleeps without a light, lest, stepping out of bed at night, he should place his foot upon some venomous creature; most people keep a long bamboo in every room. We never put on our shoes without first examining well to see that there is nothing alive in them. The oil which we burn in the evening and at night is extracted from the cocoa-nut and has a most agreeable smell. For this purpose cocoa-nuts are brought from Ceylon and all the neighbouring islands. This oil could not be used in England, because it congeals into a sort of fat when the thermometer is at 64°.

YAMS—POTATOES.

We have a kind of root here which they call a yam, although I do not think it is one. It is brown outside and white within; about two feet long and thickest at the middle, where it is four inches in diameter. This they boil and then fry into lumps; it is exceedingly nice. Potatoes are scarce, dear, and bad, except sweet ones, which I like; they are very stringy, and taste like potatoes mixed with sugar.

BAMBOO.

I think I have described to you the graceful appearance of the bamboo-tree, but it is its extreme usefulness that renders it so precious. It is a sort of hollow strong cane, and serves for the upright posts at the corners of the native houses and also for the door-posts. To our own bungalows or thatched houses it forms the rafters to support the thatch; it is used for scaffolding and for ladders without any shaping or preparing. One joint of it makes a very good bottle; a long piece of it, with one side cut off and the stoppage at the joints cut away, makes a waterspout or watercourse, or a thing for fowls to eat or drink out of. In short, it would be tedious to enumerate the many uses to which it is put.

I had the other day an instance of the extent to which servants carry the system of doing each his own work and no one's else. I had been feeding the parrots with a little rice and had spilt a few grains of it upon the table. I called the barah, or furniture-cleaner: he said it was the parrot's food, and therefore it was the waiter's business to clean it up. I told him to do as he was bid, but he would not, and then I said that if he did not I should discharge him with a character for disobedience; this he preferred to doing what he considered was not his own work, so I sent him away at once.

None of my servants can speak a word of English, and I am sometimes rather at a loss on this account; but I always keep a dictionary on the table, and I am rapidly acquiring a knowledge of the Hindustanee language. There are no shops that Europeans can go to, except at Calcutta. In the country, which is called the Mofussil, a sort of pedlers come round with goods. I offer them generally one-third of the price they name, and they in most cases take it. The other day, my wife was making up her accounts, and asked the kitmajar how much he had given for a certain article; the man said, "Three rupees." My wife replied that she did not think he had given so much; he answered, "Yes, three rupees." She said, "Now, I don't believe you gave more than two rupees;" to which his answer was, "Yes, I gave two rupees." Still she did not credit him, and said, "Now, I am sure you only gave one rupee;" and he replied, "Yes, one rupee." And he was quite satisfied: and all this time he answered as calmly as possible, and did not appear in the least ashamed; and yet this man is one who is considered a very good servant, and whom I believe to be as honest as any one I have.