November 15

Attended the examination at the Academy of classes in mathematics to include geometry; nothing very exciting going on.

November 15, 1863

Sunday. We kept in our tents nearly all day, writing letters and wondering when this dreary way of living will end. A man caught a big catfish which we traded some army rations for and have been living high to-night, besides having enough for some days to come. Our forces up the Teche are said to be working back this way. Droves of cattle and horses are being driven on ahead of them. They swim them across from Berwick, and when they get here are so tired out there is no trouble in yarding them. Then they are shipped to Algiers and slaughtered for the army. The horses, I suppose, are used in some other way, but am not sure, for I have seen bones in meat that I well know never grew in a cow, or a steer.

Sunday, November 15th.—We got a move on in the middle of the night, and are now on our way up.

The cold of this train life is going to be rather a problem. Our quarters are not heated, but we have "made" (i.e., acquired, looted) a very small oil-stove which faintly warms the corridor, but you can imagine how no amount of coats or clothes keeps you warm in a railway carriage in winter. I'm going to make a foot muff out of a brown blanket, which will help. A smart walk out of doors would do it, but that you can't get off when the train is stationary for fear of its vanishing, and for obvious reasons when it is moving. I did walk round the train for an hour in the dark and slime in the siding yesterday evening, but it is not a cheering form of exercise.

To-day it is pouring  cats and dogs, awful for loading sick, and there will be many after this week for the trains.

Every one has of course cleared out of beautiful Ypres, but we are going to load up at Poperinghe, the town next before it, which is now Railhead. Lately the trains have not been so far.

November Fifteenth

In other words, a veteran of our civil strife, General Sherman advocated in an enemy's country the sixteenth century practices of Tilly, described by Schiller, and the later devastation of the Palatinate policy of Louis XIV, commemorated by Goethe. In the twenty-first century, perhaps, partisan feeling as regards the Civil War performances having by that time ceased to exist, American investigators, no longer regardful of a victor's self-complacency, may treat the episodes of our struggle with the same even-handed and out-spoken impartiality with which Englishmen now treat the revenges of the Restoration, or Frenchmen the dragonnades of the Grand Monarque. But when that time comes, the page relating to what occurred in 1864 in the Valley of the Shenandoah, in Georgia, and in the Carolinas,—a page which Mr. Rhodes somewhat lightly passes over—will probably be rewritten in characters of far more decided import.

Charles Francis Adams
(Massachusetts)

 

Sherman begins his march from Atlanta to the sea, 1864

 

 

November 15, 1862

WE  are nearly out of sight of land. Wild ducks and geese cover the water. The sun is just coming up, and seems to me I never saw such a lovely morning. Besides the ducks and geese on the water, the air is full of them, some alighting on the water and others rising from it. They are so tame they only get out of the way of the boat, and if shooting was allowed, hundreds could be shot from where I stand. I am sore and stiff from my run to catch the boat, but I am thankful to be here and take in these new sights on this glorious morning. Chaplain Parker is on board and is pointing out places and vessels, and helping us to enjoy it all.

11 a. m. We are sailing over the spot where the Monitor and Merrimac fought. An eye-witness who is on board has been giving a vivid description of it, to which I listened with the deepest interest.

Noon. We have landed at Newport News; so they call it, but there are only a few shanties in sight, and beside each one is a huge pile of oyster shells. The boys are here, having been brought off from the Arago, which lies off shore. Oysters are plenty and cheap, and I am full of them, the best I ever tasted, fresh from the water, and so large many of them make two good mouthfuls. The Monitor, which saved the day when the Merrimac came out of the James River, lies near by, and the wrecks of the Cumberland and Congress which were sunk, show above the water. The Arago lies just outside and at 2 p. m. we go on board. The only white men I have seen are soldiers. The negroes and their shanties are all I can see of Newport News.

November 15

November 15, 1876.--I have been reading "L'Avenir Religieux des Peuples Civilisés," by Emile de Laveleye. The theory of this writer is that the gospel, in its pure form, is capable of providing the religion of the future, and that the abolition of all religious principle, which is what the socialism of the present moment demands, is as much to be feared as Catholic superstition. The Protestant method, according to him, is the means of transition whereby sacerdotal Christianity passes into the pure religion of the gospel. Laveleye does not think that civilization can last without the belief in God and in another life. Perhaps he forgets that Japan and China prove the contrary. But it is enough to determine him against atheism if it can be shown that a general atheism would bring about a lowering of the moral average. After all, however, this is nothing but a religion of utilitarianism. A belief is not true because it is useful. And it is truth alone--scientific, established, proved, and rational truth--which is capable of satisfying nowadays the awakened minds of all classes. We may still say perhaps, "faith governs the world"--but the faith of the present is no longer in revelation or in the priest--it is in reason and in science. Is there a science of goodness and happiness?--that is the question. Do justice and goodness depend upon any particular religion? How are men to be made free, honest, just, and good?--there is the point.

On my way through the book I perceived many new applications of my law of irony. Every epoch has two contradictory aspirations which are logically antagonistic and practically associated. Thus the philosophic materialism of the last century was the champion of liberty. And at the present moment we find Darwinians in love with equality, while Darwinism itself is based on the right of the stronger. Absurdity is interwoven with life: real beings are animated contradictions, absurdities brought into action. Harmony with self would mean peace, repose, and perhaps immobility By far the greater number of human beings can only conceive action, or practice it, under the form of war--a war of competition at home, a bloody war of nations abroad, and finally war with self. So that life is a perpetual combat; it wills that which it wills not, and wills not that it wills. Hence what I call the law of irony--that is to say, the refutation of the self by itself, the concrete realization of the absurd.

Is such a result inevitable? I think not. Struggle is the caricature of harmony, and harmony, which is the association of contraries, is also a principle of movement. War is a brutal and fierce means of pacification; it means the suppression of resistance by the destruction or enslavement of the conquered. Mutual respect would be a better way out of difficulties. Conflict is the result of the selfishness which will acknowledge no other limit than that of external force. The laws of animality govern almost the whole of history. The history of man is essentially zoological; it becomes human late in the day, and then only in the beautiful souls, the souls alive to justice, goodness, enthusiasm, and devotion. The angel shows itself rarely and with difficulty through the highly-organized brute. The divine aureole plays only with a dim and fugitive light around the brows of the world's governing race.

The Christian nations offer many illustrations of the law of irony. They profess the citizenship of heaven, the exclusive worship of eternal good; and never has the hungry pursuit of perishable joys, the love of this world, or the thirst for conquest, been stronger or more active than among these nations. Their official motto is exactly the reverse of their real aspiration. Under a false flag they play the smuggler with a droll ease of conscience. Is the fraud a conscious one? No--it is but an application of the law of irony. The deception is so common a one that the delinquent becomes unconscious of it. Every nation gives itself the lie in the course of its daily life, and not one feels the ridicule of its position. A man must be a Japanese to perceive the burlesque contradictions of the Christian civilization. He must be a native of the moon to understand the stupidity of man and his state of constant delusion. The philosopher himself falls under the law of irony, for after having mentally stripped himself of all prejudice--having, that is to say, wholly laid aside his own personality, he finds himself slipping back perforce into the rags he had taken off, obliged to eat and drink, to be hungry, cold, thirsty, and to behave like all other mortals, after having for a moment behaved like no other. This is the point where the comic poets are lying in wait for him; the animal needs revenge themselves for his flight into the Empyrean, and mock him by their cry: Thou art dust, thou art nothing, than art man !

The Old Colonel

[Illustration: THE OLD COLONEL—"Ripening for pension."]

"Kwaihaipeglaoandjeldikaro"—Rigmarole Veda.

[November 15, 1879.]

The old Indian Colonel ripening for pension on the shelf of General Duty is an object at once pitiful and ludicrous. His profession has ebbed away from him, and he lies a melancholy derelict on the shore, with sails flapping idly against the mast and meaningless pennants streaming in the wind.

He has forgotten nearly everything he ever learnt of military duty, and what he has not forgotten has been changed. It is as much as he can do to keep up with the most advanced thoughts of the Horse Guards on buttons and gold lace. Yet he is still employed sometimes to turn out a guard, or to swear that "the Service is going," &c.; and though he has lost his nerve for riding, he has still a good seat on a boot-lace committee.

He is a very methodical old man. He rises at an early hour, strolls down to the club on the Mall—perhaps the Wheler Club, perhaps some other—has his tea, newspaper, and gossip there, and then back to his small bungalow, [where he turns out his servants for swearing parade. Each one gets it pretty hot; and then breakfast]. After breakfast he arrays himself for the day in some nondescript white uniform, and with a forage cap stuck gaily on one side of his head, a cheroot in his mouth, and a large white umbrella in his hand, he again sallies forth to the Club. An old horse is led behind him.

Now the serious business of life again begins—to get through the day. There are six newspapers to read, twelve pegs to drink, four-and-twenty Madras cheroots to smoke, there is kindly tiffin to linger over, forty winks afterwards, a game of billiards, the band on the Mall, dinner, and over all, incessant chatter, chatter, old scandal, old jokes, and old stories. Everyone likes the old Colonel, of course. Everyone says, "Here comes poor old Smith; what an infernal bore he is!" "Hulloa, Colonel, how are you? glad to see you! what's the news? how's exchange?"

The old Colonel is not avaricious, but he saves money. He cannot help it. He has no tastes and he draws very large pay. His mind, therefore, broods over questions relating to the investment of money, the depreciation of silver, and the saving effected by purchasing things at co-operative stores. He never really solves any problem suggested by these topics. His mind is not prehensile like the tail of the Apollo Bundar; everything eludes its grasp, so its pursuits are terminable. The old Colonel's cerebral caloric burns with a feeble flicker, like that of Madras secretariats, and never consumes a subject. The same theme is always fresh fuel. You might say the same thing to him every morning, at the same hour till the crack of doom, and he would never recollect that he had heard your remark before. This certainly must give a freshness to life and render eternity possible.

The old Colonel is not naturally an indolent man, but the prominent fact about him is that he has nothing to do. If you gave him a sun-dial to take care of, or a rain-gauge to watch, or a secret to keep, he would be quite delighted. I once asked Smith to keep a secret of mine, and the poor old fellow was so much afraid of losing it that in a few hours he had got everybody in the station helping him to keep it. It always surprises me that men with so much time on their hands do not become Political Agents.

Sometimes our old Colonel gets into the flagitious habit of writing for the newspapers. He talks himself into thinking that he possesses a grievance, so he puts together a fasciculus of lop-sided sentences, gets the ideas set straight by the Doctor, the spelling refurbished by the Padré, and fires off the product to the Delhi Gazette  or the Himalayan Chronicle. Then days of feverish excitement supervene, hope alternating with fear. Will it appear? Will the Commander-in-Chief be offended? Will the Government of India be angry? What will the Service say?

The old Colonel is always rather suspicious of the great cocked-hats at head-quarters. He knows that to maintain an air of activity they must still be changing something or abolishing something, and he is always afraid that they will change or abolish him. But how could they change the old Colonel? In a regiment he would be like Alice in Wonderland; on the Staff he would be like old wine in a new bottle. They might make him a K.C.B., it is true; but he does not belong to the Simla Band of Hope, and stars must not be allowed to shoot madly from their sphere. As to abolishing the old Colonel, this too presents its difficulties, for Sir Norman Henry and all the celebrated cocked-hats at home and abroad look upon the Indian Staff Corps as Pygmalion looked on his Venus. They dote on its lifeless charms, and (figuratively) love to clasp it in their foolish arms. [Now the old Colonel is the trunk of this Frankenstein—to change the scene. So we must not abolish the old Colonel.]

It is better to dress him up in an old red coat, and strap him on to an old sword with a brass scabbard, that he may stand up on high ceremonials and drink the health of the good Queen for whom he has lived bravely through sunshine and stormy weather, in defiance of epidemics, retiring schemes and the Army Medical Department. It is good to ask him to place his old knees under your hospitable board, and to fill him with wholesome wine, while he decants the mellow stories of an Anglo-India that is speedily dissolving from view.

The old Colonel has no harm in him; his scandal blows upon the grandmothers of people that have passed away, and his little improprieties are such as might illustrate a sermon of the present day. [A rabbit might play with him if there were no chutni lying about.]

But you must never speak to him as if his sun were setting. He is as hopeful as a two-year-old. Every Gazette thrills him with vague expectations and alarms. If he found himself in orders for a Brigade he would be less surprised than anyone in the Army. He never ceases to hope that something may turn up—that something tangible may issue from the circumambient world of conjecture. But nothing will ever turn up for our poor old Colonel till his poor old toes turn up to the daisies. This change only, which we harshly call "Death," will steal over his prospects; this new slide only will be slipped into the magic lantern of his existence, accompanied by funeral drums and slow marching.

Soon we shall hardly be able to decipher his name and age on the crumbling gravestone among the weeds of our horrible station cemetery—but what matters it?

      "For his bones are dust,
      And his sword is rust,
      And his soul is with the saints, we trust."

Ali Baba, K.C.B