October 1

Stayed in Rutland last night; took the 4 o'clock a. m. train for Burlington, but to my disgust found it to be a freight; arrived at Burlington at noon; took the 1 o'clock p. m. train for Montpelier; arrived there at 4 o'clock p. m.; stopped at Burnham's Hotel; found Carl Wilson; hasn't changed much in three years nor Montpelier; think a boil is coming on my ankle; am half sick.

October First

Come on thy swaying feet,
Wild Spirit of the Fall!
With wind-blown skirts, loose hair of russet brown
Crowned with bright berries of the bitter sweet.
Trip a light measure with the hurrying leaf,
Straining thy few late roses to thy breast:
With laughter overgay, sweet eyes drooped down,
That none may guess thy grief:
Dare not to pause for rest
Lest the slow tears should gather to their fall.
Danske Dandridge

 

 

63. Abigail Adams

Weymouth,[102] 1 October, 1775.

Have pity upon me. Have pity upon me, O thou my beloved, for the hand of God presseth me sore.

Yet will I be dumb and silent, and not open my mouth, because Thou, O Lord, hast done it.

How can I tell you (O my bursting heart!) that my dear mother has left me? This day, about five o'clock, she left this world for an infinitely better.

After sustaining sixteen days' severe conflict, nature fainted, and she fell asleep. Blessed spirit! where art thou? At times I am almost ready to faint under this severe and heavy stroke, separated from thee, who used to be a comforter to me in affliction; but, blessed be God, his ear is not heavy that He cannot hear, but He has bid us call upon Him in time of trouble.

I know you are a sincere and hearty mourner with me, and will pray for me in my affliction. My poor father, like a firm believer and a good Christian, sets before his children the best of examples of patience and submission. My sisters send their love to you and are greatly afflicted. You often expressed your anxiety for me when you left me before, surrounded with terrors; but my trouble then was as the small dust in the balance, compared to what I have since endured. I hope to be properly mindful of the correcting hand, that I may not be rebuked in anger.

You will pardon and forgive all my wanderings of mind; I cannot be correct.

'T is a dreadful time with the whole province. Sickness and death are in almost every family. I have no more shocking and terrible idea of any distemper, except the plague, than this.

Almighty God! restrain the pestilence which walketh in darkness and wasteth at noonday, and which has laid in the dust one of the dearest of parents. May the life of the other be lengthened out to his afflicted children.

From your distressed     Portia.

Footnotes:

[102]This was written from the house of her father.

Thursday, October 1st.—The sky in Mid France on October 1st is of a blue that outblues the bluest that June or any other month can do in l'Angleterre. It is cold in the early mornings and evenings, dazzling all day, and shining moon by night.

The H.A.C. are all over the town: they do orderly duty at Headquarters and all the Offices; they seem to be gentlemen in Tommy's kit; fine big lot they are. Taking it all round, the Regular British Army on Active Service—from hoary, beribboned Generals, decorated Staff Officers of all ranks, other officers, and N.C.O.'s down to the humblest Tommy—is the politest and best-mannered thing I have ever met, with few exceptions. Wherever you are, or go, or have to wait, they come and ask if they can do anything for you, generally with an engaging smile seize your hand-baggage, offer you chairs and see you through generally. And the men and N.C.O.'s are just the same, and always awfully grateful if you can help them out with the language in any way.

This was a conversation I heard in my ward to-day. Brother of Captain —— (wounded) visits the amputation man, and, by way of cheering him up, sits down, gazes at his ugly bandaged stump on a pillow, and says—

"That must be the devil."

"Yes, it is," says the leg man.

"Hell," says the other, and then they both seemed to feel better and began to talk of something else.

We had a funeral of an Orderly and a German from No.— Sta. (both tetanus). On grey transport waggons with big black horses, wreaths from the Orderlies, carried by a big R.A.M.C. escort (which, of course, escorted the German too), with Officers and Padre and two Sisters.

October 1

October 1, 1849.--Yesterday, Sunday, I read through and made extracts from the gospel of St. John. It confirmed me in my belief that about Jesus we must believe no one but Himself, and that what we have to do is to discover the true image of the founder behind all the prismatic reactions through which it comes to us, and which alter it more or less. A ray of heavenly light traversing human life, the message of Christ has been broken into a thousand rainbow colors and carried in a thousand directions. It is the historical task of Christianity to assume with every succeeding age a fresh metamorphosis, and to be forever spiritualizing more and more her understanding of the Christ and of salvation.

I am astounded at the incredible amount of Judaism and formalism which still exists nineteen centuries after the Redeemer's proclamation, "it is the letter which killeth"--after his protest against a dead symbolism. The new religion is so profound that it is not understood even now, and would seem a blasphemy to the greater number of Christians. The person of Christ is the center of it. Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell--all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened, that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted. Christian boldness and Christian liberty must be reconquered; it is the church which is heretical, the church whose sight is troubled and her heart timid. Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine, there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him, or as Angelus, [Footnote: Angelus Silesius, otherwise Johannes Soheffler, the German seventeenth century hymn-writer, whose tender and mystical verses have been popularized in England by Miss Winkworth's translations in the Lyra Germanica.] I think, said, "the eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me."

Christianity, if it is to triumph over pantheism, must absorb it. To our pusillanimous eyes Jesus would have borne the marks of a hateful pantheism, for he confirmed the Biblical phrase "ye are gods," and so would St. Paul, who tells us that we are of "the race of God." Our century wants a new theology--that is to say, a more profound explanation of the nature of Christ and of the light which it flashes upon heaven and upon humanity.

* * * *

Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh--that is to say, over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of sickness, of isolation, and of death. There is no serious piety without heroism. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage.

* * * *

Duty has the virtue of making us feel the reality of a positive world while at the same time detaching us from it.

* * * *

October 1, 1862

Wednesday. Another hot day. How hot I don't know, but it wilted me. I tumbled down, completely used up while at drill. Several others did the same. We seem to be getting over it to-night, as the air cools off. The nights are cool, and that is all that keeps us from melting. Not cool enough, however, to stop the mosquitoes. The heat, together with our changed condition of living, is beginning to get in its work. Several are in the hospital.

Later. There is great excitement in Company B to-night. Orderly Sergeant Lewis Holmes, the one we voted to be our orderly, is to be set back and a corporal named Gilbert Kniffin is to be put in his place. As soon as the companies were organized at Hudson, we were allowed to vote which of the five sergeants of Company B should be orderly sergeant. We did not know then, but have since learned that the orderly sergeant stands next in the line of promotion to the commissioned officers. Kniffin is only a corporal, but he has friends at home who have influence, and this influence has been brought to bear so heavy that this move has been decided upon.

9 p. m. It is all over, and Lew Holmes is still orderly sergeant of Co. B, 128th N. Y. Vols. We, the enlisted men of the company, talked the thing over and decided we would not put up with it. We did not know if we would be able to prevent it, but we finally decided we would stand by Holmes, and fight the thing to a finish, whatever the outcome might be. When we spoke to Captain Bostwick he acted as if he was ashamed of himself, but he said the change had already been made and could not be unmade. We told him we could unmake it, and would, or die in the company street. So the matter rested until time for roll call, when Kniffin came out with the book and called the name of William H. Appleby, the first name on the list. To his honor be it said, he remained silent, and was immediately put in the mule-stable, which was our guard-house. The next man's name was called, and he went to join Appleby. This went on until the guard-house was full, when a council of the company officers was held, after which the captain gave us a lecture, telling us what insubordination meant, and that the whole regiment, if necessary, would be used to enforce obedience. We had agreed not to talk back, but to simply refuse to answer to our names when called by Corporal Kniffin, or in any way acknowledge him as orderly sergeant, so we said nothing. The men were brought back from the guard-house, and Kniffin again called William H. Appleby. He did not answer and was again put in the guard-house. After a few more had been sent to keep him company another halt was made, the prisoners were again brought out, and the captain called the roll, when every man responded promptly. We were then ordered to break ranks and so the matter stands. But we have won our first battle, we feel sure of that, although we are warned that a company, and if necessary the whole regiment, will be called upon to shoot any who do not answer roll call in the morning. My name is so near the bottom of the list it was not reached, and so I had nothing to do but look on and listen, but I am as determined as any, and I flap my wings and crow just as loudly as William H. Appleby does.

62. John Adams

Philadelphia, 1 October, 1775.

This morning I received your two letters, of 8 September and 16 September. What shall I say? The intelligence they contain came upon me by surprise, as I never had the least intimation before that any of my family was ill, excepting in a card from Mrs. Warren, received a few days ago, in which she informed me that "Mrs. Adams had been unwell, but was better."

You may easily conceive the state of mind in which I am at present. Uncertain and apprehensive at first, I suddenly thought of setting off immediately for Braintree, and I have not yet determined otherwise. Yet the state of public affairs is so critical that I am half afraid to leave my station, although my presence here is of no great consequence.

I feel, I tremble for you. Poor Tommy! I hope, by this time, however, he has recovered his plump cheeks and his fine bloom. By your account of Patty I fear, but still I will hope she has been supported, and is upon the recovery. I rejoice to learn that Abby and her brothers have hitherto escaped, and pray God that His goodness may be still continued to them. Your description of the distressed state of the neighborhood is affecting indeed. It is not uncommon for a train of calamities to come together. Fire, sword, pestilence, famine, often keep company and visit a country in a flock.

At this distance I can do no good to you or yours. I pray God to support you. I hope our friends and neighbors are kind as usual. I feel for them in the general calamity. I am so far from thinking you melancholy, that I am charmed with that admirable fortitude and that divine spirit of resignation which appear in your letters. I cannot express the satisfaction it gives me, nor how much it contributes to support me.

You have alarmed me, however, by mentioning anxieties which you do not think it proper to mention to any one. I am wholly at a loss to conjecture what they can be. If they arise from the letters, be assured that you may banish them forever. These letters [100]have reached Philadelphia, but have produced effects very different from those which were expected from the publication of them. These effects I will explain to you sometime or other. As to the versification of them, if there is wit or humor in it, laugh; if ill-nature, sneer; if mere dullness, why, you may even yawn or nod. I have no anger at it, nay even scarcely contempt. It is impotent.

As to politics, we have nothing to expect but the whole wrath and force of Great Britain. But your words are as true as an oracle, "God helps them who help themselves, and if we obtain the divine aid by our own virtue, fortitude, and perseverance, we may be sure of relief." It may amuse you to hear a story. A few days ago, in company with Dr. Zubly, somebody said there was nobody on our side but the Almighty. The Doctor,[101] who is a native of Switzerland, and speaks but broken English, quickly replied, "Dat is enough! Dat is enough!" And turning to me, says he, "It puts me in mind of a fellow who once said, The Catholics have on their side the Pope, and the King of France, and the King of Spain, and the King of Sardinia, and the King of Poland, and the Emperor of Germany, etc., etc., etc.; but as to those poor devils, the Protestants, they have nothing on their side but God Almighty."

Footnotes:

[100]The intercepted letters already referred to.

[101]The reverend Dr. Zubly was one of the delegates to the Congress from Georgia, which Province did not appoint any until July, 1775. He, however, was among the few who stopped by the wayside. So far from retaining the confidence here expressed in the American cause, he entered into secret correspondence with the British authorities in Georgia, and being detected, he fled the country.