November 6

Left Chelsea at 10 o'clock a. m. for Barre; Jo Watson brought me over; attended church this afternoon, heard an excellent sermon by Rev. F. S. Bliss; called on Mrs. Oromal Dodge this evening.

November Sixth

The First Lieutenant stood ... gazing at the flag under which he had so long done battle, and then turned away with tears coursing down his bronzed cheeks.

He was not alone in this exhibition of weakness, if such it was, for more than one eye, unaccustomed to weep, turned aside to conceal the unwonted drops, as at a silent signal, the quartermaster hauled down the Stars and Bars, thereby surrendering the Shenandoah to the British authorities.

Cornelius E. Hunt
(Of “The Shenandoah”)

 

The “Shenandoah” furls the last Confederate battle flag, 1865

 

 

November 6

November 6, 1852.--I am capable of all the passions, for I bear them all within me. Like a tamer of wild beasts, I keep them caged and lassoed, but I sometimes hear them growling. I have stifled more than one nascent love. Why? Because with that prophetic certainty which belongs to moral intuition, I felt it lacking in true life, and less durable than myself. I choked it down in the name of the supreme affection to come. The loves of sense, of imagination, of sentiment, I have seen through and rejected them all; I sought the love which springs from the central profundities of being. And I still believe in it. I will have none of those passions of straw which dazzle, burn up, and wither; I invoke, I await, and I hope for the love which is great, pure and earnest, which lives and works in all the fibres and through all the powers of the soul. And even if I go lonely to the end, I would rather my hope and my dream died with me, than that my soul should content itself with any meaner union.

November 6, 1863

Friday. This morning Lieutenants Reynolds, Smith, Ames and myself formed a club of four for mutual protection against starvation. We have a rejected recruit for a cook, and have made a draft on the commissary for salt horse, hard-tack and coffee. If he can't get up a meal on that, then he's no cook for us. My company was examined and almost every one proved to be sound enough for soldiers. A dozen at a time were taken into a tent, where they stripped and were put through the usual gymnastic performance, after which they were measured for shoes and a suit, and then another dozen called in. Some of them were scarred from head to foot where they had been whipped. One man's back was nearly all one scar, as if the skin had been chopped up and left to heal in ridges. Another had scars on the back of his neck, and from that all the way to his heels every little ways; but that was not such a sight as the one with the great solid mass of ridges, from his shoulders to his hips. That beat all the anti-slavery sermons ever yet preached. But this is over with now, and I don't wonder their prayers are mostly of thanks to Massa Linkum. They are very religious, holding prayer meetings every night, after which the fiddle begins and dancing goes on all night, if not stopped on account of the noise they make. I don't know how they get along with so little sleep, or rest. After the examination we got blankets and clothes from the quartermaster and they were fitted as well as it is possible to fit from a ready-made stock.

Our cook, George, proved to be a jewel. He made salt beef taste so much like a chicken we didn't notice the difference. Major Palon came from the city at night, and brought some letters. One was for me and contained three dollars from my old crony, Walt Loucks. This will keep us in extras for a little while. We were some time deciding how to use it, but a majority thought a part of it should go for flour, so George could try his hand at pancakes.

November 6

November 6, 1877. (Geneva ).--We talk of love many years before we know anything about it, and we think we know it because we talk of it, or because we repeat what other people say of it, or what books tell us about it. So that there are ignorances of different degrees, and degrees of knowledge which are quite deceptive. One of the worst plagues of society is this thoughtless inexhaustible verbosity, this careless use of words, this pretense of knowing a thing because we talk about it--these counterfeits of belief, thought, love, or earnestness, which all the while are mere babble. The worst of it is, that as self-love is behind the babble, these ignorances of society are in general ferociously affirmative; chatter mistakes itself for opinion, prejudice poses as principle. Parrots behave as though they were thinking beings; imitations give themselves out as originals; and politeness demands the acceptance of the convention. It is very wearisome.

Language is the vehicle of this confusion, the instrument of this unconscious fraud, and all evils of the kind are enormously increased by universal education, by the periodical press, and by all the other processes of vulgarization in use at the present time. Every one deals in paper money; few have ever handled gold. We live on symbols, and even on the symbols of symbols; we have never grasped or verified things for ourselves; we judge everything, and we know nothing.

How seldom we meet with originality, individuality, sincerity, nowadays!--with men who are worth the trouble of listening to! The true self in the majority is lost in the borrowed self. How few are anything else than a bundle of inclinations--anything more than animals--whose language and whose gait alone recall to us the highest rank in nature!

The immense majority of our species are candidates for humanity, and nothing more. Virtually we are men; we might be, we ought to be, men; but practically we do not succeed in realizing the type of our race. Semblances and counterfeits of men fill up the habitable earth, people the islands and the continents, the country and the town. If we wish to respect men we must forget what they are, and think of the ideal which they carry hidden within them, of the just man and the noble, the man of intelligence and goodness, inspiration and creative force, who is loyal and true, faithful and trustworthy, of the higher man, in short, and that divine thing we call a soul. The only men who deserve the name are the heroes, the geniuses, the saints, the harmonious, puissant, and perfect samples of the race.

Very few individuals deserve to be listened to, but all deserve that our curiosity with regard to them should be a pitiful curiosity--that the insight we bring to bear on them should be charged with humility. Are we not all shipwrecked, diseased, condemned to death? Let each work out his own salvation, and blame no one but himself; so the lot of all will be bettered. Whatever impatience we may feel toward our neighbor, and whatever indignation our race may rouse in us, we are chained one to another, and, companions in labor and misfortune, have everything to lose by mutual recrimination and reproach. Let us be silent as to each other's weakness, helpful, tolerant, nay, tender toward each other! Or, if we cannot feel tenderness, may we at least feel pity! May we put away from us the satire which scourges and the anger which brands; the oil and wine of the good Samaritan are of more avail. We may make the ideal a reason for contempt; but it is more beautiful to make it a reason for tenderness.

238. John Adams

Passy, 6 November, 1778.

We have received information that so many of our letters have been thrown overboard that I fear you will not have heard so often from me as both of us wish. I have written often, but my letters have not been worth so much as other things which I have sent you. I sent you a small present by Captain Niles, but he is taken by a Jersey privateer. I sent you also some other things by Captain Barnes; and what affects me quite as much, I sent the things that my dear brother Cranch requested me to send, by these same vessels. These vessels were chosen because they were fast sailers, and so small as to be able to see danger before they could be seen; but all is taken and sent into Guernsey and Jersey. By Captain Tucker I sent you the whole of the list you gave me of articles for the family. These, I hope, have arrived safe, but I have been so unlucky that I feel averse to meddling in this way. The whole loss is a trifle, it is true. But to you in the convenience of the family, and to Mr. Cranch in his business, it would have been of value. If the Boston  arrives, the little chest she carries to you will be of service.

My anxiety for you and for the public is not diminished by time or distance. The great number of accidental disappointments in the course of the last summer are afflicting. But we hope for better luck another year. It seems to be the intention of Heaven that we should be taught the full value of our liberty by the dearness of the purchase, and the importance of public virtue by the necessity of it. There seems to be also a further design, that of eradicating forever from the heart of every American every tender sentiment towards Great Britain, that we may, some time or other, know how to make the full advantage of our independence by more extensive connections with other countries. Whatever siren songs of peace may be sung in your ears, you may depend upon it from me (who unhappily have been seldom mistaken in my guesses of the intentions of the British government for fourteen years) that every malevolent passion and every insidious art will predominate in the British cabinet against us. Their threats of Russians and of great reinforcements are false and impracticable, and they know them to be so; but their threats of doing mischief with the forces they have will be verified as far as their power.

It is by no means pleasant to me to be forever imputing malicious policy to a nation that I have ever wished and still wish I could esteem. But truth must be attended to; and almost all Europe, the Dutch especially, are at this day talking of Great Britain in the style of American sons of liberty. I hope the unfortunate events at Rhode Island [195] will produce no heart-burnings between our countrymen and the Comte d'Estaing, who is allowed by all Europe to be a great and worthy officer, and by all who know him to be a zealous friend of America.

I have enjoyed uncommon health since my arrival in this country, and, if it was peace, and my family here, I could be happy. But never, never shall I enjoy happy days without either. My little son gives me great pleasure both by his assiduity to his books and his discreet behavior. The lessons of his mamma are a constant lesson to him, and the reflection that they are so to his sister and brothers is a never-failing consolation to me at times when I feel more tenderness for them than words can express, or than I should choose to express if I had power. Remember me in the most affectionate manner to our parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and—what shall I say—children.

My respects where they are due, which is in so many places that I cannot name them. With regard to my connections with the public business here, which you will be naturally inquisitive to know something of, I can only say that we have many disagreeable circumstances here, many difficulties to accomplish the wishes of our constituents, and to give satisfaction to certain half-anglified Americans, and, what is more serious and affecting, to real and deserving Americans, who are suffering in England, and escaping from thence. But from this Court, this city and nation, I have experienced nothing but uninterrupted politeness. It is not possible for me to express more tenderness and affection to you than will be suggested by the name of

John Adams.

Footnotes:

[195]The failure of the plan against Rhode Island did give rise to much excitement in Boston, which was scarcely restrained when the French vessels arrived there.