November 22

Northwest wind, cold and cloudy, with snow to-night; went up to the old homestead this afternoon; called at Mr. Elijah Wheeler's, also at his sister Susan's; am at Jim Burnham's to-night with Ryle Seaver; shall both stay here. Aunt Thompson has gone over to Cousin David Smith's.

November 22, 1863

Sunday. On duty as officer of the guard. The duties in this bricked-in camp are light, and are more a matter of form than anything else. Still it must be gone through with. I find the men have improved wonderfully from what they were at Brashear City. Nothing at all happened worth writing about.

November Twenty-Second

The history of that period, of the reconstruction period of the South, has never been fully told. It is only beginning to be written.

Thomas Nelson Page

 

Convention in Louisiana disfranchising ex-Confederates, 1867

 

 

November 22, 1862

The sun rose clear this morning, and the air is just right. Our lower regions are hot and stuffy, but on deck it is delightful. Great birds, sea-gulls I hear them called, are all about and pick up, or pick at, everything that floats on the water. We went ashore and while there saw General Corcoran and staff. If he amounts to much he is, like a "singed cat," better than he looks. My throat troubles me yet and to-night is about as bad as ever. Good-night, diary.

Sunday, November 22nd.—Left B. early this morning and got to Merville about midday. Loaded up and got back to B. in the night. Many wounded Germans and a good lot of our sick, knocked over by the cold. I don't know how any of them stick it. Five bombs were dropped the day before where we were to-day, and an old man was killed. Things are being badly given away by spies, even of other nationalities. Some men were sleeping in a cellar at Ypres to avoid the bombardment, with some refugees. In the night they missed two of them. They were found on the roof signalling to the Germans with flash-lights. In the morning they paid the penalty.

The frost has not broken, and it is still bitterly cold.

November 22

November 22, 1880.--How is ill-nature to be met and overcome? First, by humility: when a man knows his own weaknesses, why should he be angry with others for pointing them out? No doubt it is not very amiable of them to do so, but still, truth is on their side. Secondly, by reflection: after all we are what we are, and if we have been thinking too much of ourselves, it is only an opinion to be modified; the incivility of our neighbor leaves us what we were before. Above all, by pardon: there is only one way of not hating those who do us wrong, and that is by doing them good; anger is best conquered by kindness. Such a victory over feeling may not indeed affect those who have wronged us, but it is a valuable piece of self-discipline. It is vulgar to be angry on one's own account; we ought only to be angry for great causes. Besides, the poisoned dart can only be extracted from the wound by the balm of a silent and thoughtful charity. Why do we let human malignity embitter us? why should ingratitude, jealousy--perfidy even--enrage us? There is no end to recriminations, complaints, or reprisals. The simplest plan is to blot everything out. Anger, rancor, bitterness, trouble the soul. Every man is a dispenser of justice; but there is one wrong that he is not bound to punish--that of which he himself is the victim. Such a wrong is to be healed, not avenged. Fire purifies all.

"Mon âme est comme un feu qui dévore et parfume Ce qu'on jette pour le ternir."

The Civil Surgeon

"Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it."

[November 22, 1879.]

Perhaps you would hardly guess from his appearance and ways that he was a surgeon and a medicine-man. He certainly does not smell of lavender or peppermint, or display fine and curious linen, or tread softly like a cat. Contrariwise.

He smells of tobacco, and wears flannel underclothing. His step is heavy. He is a gross, big cow-buffalo sort of man, with a tangled growth of beard. His ranting voice and loud familiar manner amount to an outrage. He laughs like a camel, with deep bubbling noises. Thick corduroy breeches and gaiters swaddle his shapeless legs, and he rides a coarse-bred Waler mare.

I pray the gods that he may never be required to operate upon my eyes, or intestines, or any other delicate organ—that he may never be required to trephine my skull, or remove the roof of my mouth.

Of course he is a very good fellow. He walks straight into your drawing-room with a pipe in his mouth, bellowing out your name. No servant announces his arrival. He tramples in and crushes himself into a chair, without removing his hat, or performing any other high ceremonial. He has been riding in the sun, and is in a state of profuse perspiration; you will have to bring him round with the national beverage of Anglo-India, a brandy-and-soda.

Now he will enter upon your case. "Well, you're looking very blooming; what the devil is the matter with you? Eh? Eh? Want a trip to the hills? Eh? Eh? How is the bay pony? Eh? Have you seen Smith's new filly? Eh?"

This is very cheerful and reassuring if you are a healthy man with some large conspicuous disease—a broken rib, cholera, or toothache; but if you are a fine, delicately-made man, pregnant with poetry as the egg of the nightingale is pregnant with music, and throbbing with an exquisite nervous sensibility, perhaps languishing under some vague and occult disease, of which you are only conscious in moments of intense introspection, this mode of approaching the diagnosis is apt to give your system a shock.

Otherwise it may be bracing, like the inclement north wind. But, speaking for myself, it has proved most ruinous and disastrous. Since I have known the Doctor my constitution has broken up. I am a wreck. There is hardly a single drug in the whole pharmacopoeia that I can take with any pleasure, and I have entirely lost sight of a most interesting and curious complaint.

You see, dear Vanity, that I don't mince matters. I take our Doctor as I find him, rough and allopathic; but I am sure he might be improved in the course of two or three generations. We may leave this, however, to Nature and the Army Medical Department. Reform is not my business. I have no proposals to offer that will accelerate the progress of the Doctor towards a higher type.

Happily his surgical and medicinal functions claim only a portion of his time. He is in charge of the district gaol, a large and comfortable retreat for criminals. Here he is admirable. To some eight or nine hundred murderers, robbers, and inferior delinquents he plays the part of maître d'hôtel  with infinite success. In the whole country side you will not find a community so well bathed, dressed, exercised, fed and lodged as that over which the Doctor presides. You observe on every face a quiet, Quakerish air of contentment. Every inmate of the gaol seems to think that he has now found a haven of rest.

      If the sea-horse on the ocean
        Own no dear domestic cave,
      Yet he slumbers without motion
        On the still and halcyon wave;
      If on rainy days the loafer
        Gamble when he cannot roam,
      The police will help him so far
        As to find him here a home.

This is indeed a quiet refuge for world-wearied men; a sanctuary undisturbed by the fears of the weak or the passions of the strong. All reasonable wants are gratified here; nothing is hoped for any more. The poor burglar burdened with unsaleable "grab" and the reproaches of a venal world sorrowfully seeks an asylum here. He brings nothing in his hand; he seeks nothing but rest. He whispers through the key-hole—

              Nil cupientium
      Nudus castra peto.

Look at this prisoner slumbering peacefully beside his huqqa  under the suggestive bottle tree (there is something touching in his selecting the shade of a bottle  tree: Horace clearly had no bottle  tree; or he would never have lain under a strawberry (and cream) tree). You can see that he has been softly nurtured. What a sleek, sturdy fellow he is! He is a covenanted servant here, having passed an examination in gang robbery accompanied by violence and prevarication. He cannot be discharged under a long term of years. Uncovenanted pilferers, in for a week, regard him with respect and envy. And certainly his lot is enviable; he has no cares, no anxieties. Famine and the depreciation of silver are nothing to him. Rain or sunshine, he lives in plenty. His days are spent in an innocent round of duties, relieved by sleep and contemplation of [Greek: to on]. In the long heats of summer he whiles away the time with carpet-making; between the showers of autumn he digs, like our first parents, in the Doctor's garden; and in winter, as there is no billiard-table, he takes a turn on the treadmill with his mates. Perhaps, as he does so, he recites Charles Lamb's Pindaric ode:—

                             Great mill!
      That by thy motion proper
      (No thanks to wind or sail, or toiling rill)
      Grinding that stubborn-corn, the human will,
      Turn'st out men's consciences,
      That were begrimed before, as clean and sweet
      As flour from purest wheat,
      Into thy hopper.

Yet sometimes a murmur rises like a summer zephyr even from the soft lap of luxury and ease. Even the hardened criminal, dandled on the knee of a patriarchal Government, will sometimes complain and try to give the Doctor trouble. But the Doctor has a specific—a brief incantation that allays every species of inflammatory discontent. "Look here, my man! If I hear any more of this infernal nonsense, I'll turn you out of the gaol neck and crop." This is a threat that never fails to produce the desired effect. To be expelled from gaol and driven, like Cain, into the rude and wicked world, a wanderer, an outcast—this would indeed be a cruel ban. Before such a presentiment the well-ordered mind of the criminal recoils with horror.

The Civil Surgeon is also a rain doctor, and takes charge of the Imperial gauge. If a pint more or a pint less than usual falls, he at once telegraphs this priceless gossip to the Press Commissioner, Oracle Grotto, Delphi, Elysium. This is one of our precautions to guard against famine. Mr. Caird is the other.

[I was once in a very small station where our Civil Surgeon was an Eurasian. He was a pompous little fellow, but a capital doctor, gaoler, and metereologist.

"Omnis Aristippum decint, color et status, et res."

We liked him so much that we all got ill; crime increased, the gaol filled, and no one ever passed the rain-gauge without either emptying it or pouring in a brandy-and-soda. With women and children he was a great favourite; for he had not become brutalised by familiarity with suffering in hospitals. His heart was still tender, his voice soft, and he had a gentle way with his hands. I never knew anyone who was so unwilling to inflict pain; yet he was not unnerved when it had to be done. But, poor little physician! he was not able to cure himself when fever laid her hot hand on him. He tried to go on with his work and live it down; but the recuperative forces of Nature were weak within him, and he died. "The good die first, and those whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn to the socket." Our cow-buffalo doctor is still alive, I fear.]—ALI BABA, K.C.B.