October 21

It has seemed a long day; have been in the village all day; called on Charley French; wound fairly easy today. Pert, Hattie Glover and I went up to the Academy Lyceum this evening; students much younger than before the war; probably older boys in the army; dark and gloomy to-night.

October Twenty-First

When social relations were resumed between the North and South—they followed slowly the resumption of business relations—what we should call the color-blindness of the other side often manifested itself in a delicate reticence on the part of our Northern friends; and as the war had by no means constituted their lives as it had constituted ours for four long years, the success in avoiding the disagreeable topic would have been considerable, if it had not been for awkward allusions on the part of the Southerners, who, having been shut out for all that time from the study of literature and art and other elegant and uncompromising subjects, could hardly keep from speaking of this and that incident of the war. Whereupon a discreet, or rather an embarrassed silence, as if a pardoned convict had playfully referred to the arson or burglary, not to say worse, that had been the cause of his seclusion.

Basil L. Gildersleeve

 

 

Wednesday, October 21st.—Arrived at Boulogne 6 a.m. Went on to Calais, and reached St Omer at 2 p.m., where I believe we are to take up from the motor ambulances. A train of Indians is here. Some Belgian refugees boarded the train at Boulogne, and wanted a lift to Calais, but had to be turned off reluctantly on both sides. Have been going through bedding equipment to-day.

No mail for me yet, but the others have had one to-day.

3.30 p.m.—Off for Steenwerck, close to the Belgian frontier, N.W. of Lille. Good business Just seen five aeroplanes. Have been warned by Major —— to wear brassards in prominent place, owing to dangerous journey in view!

4.30.—This feels like the Front again. Thousands and thousands of Indian troops are marching close to the line, with long fair British officers in turbans, mounted, who salute us, and we wave back; transport on mules. Gorgeous sunset going on; perfectly flat country; no railway traffic except de la Guerre.

p.m.Steenwerck.—Pitch dark; saw big guns flashing some way off. The motor ambulances are not yet in with the wounded. The line is cut farther on.

p.m.—We have had dinner, and have just been down the line to see the place about 100 yards off. The Germans were here six days ago; got into a big sewer that goes under the line, and blew it up. There is a hole 30 feet long, 15 across and 15 deep—very good piece of work. They occupied the station, and bragged about getting across to England from Calais. The M.O. who lives here, to be the link (with a sergeant and seven men) between the field ambulances and the trains, dined with us. It is a wee place. The station is his headquarters.

October 21, 1863

Wednesday. Nelly, one of the women who came with our crowd, has volunteered to be our cook, and besides being a good cook has proved herself to be a good forager. When I woke up she had fresh pork and chicken cooked and we asked no questions about what price she paid for them. Quartermaster Schemerhorn rode up to Newtown for rations, and I went back to bed to finish up my nap. The mosquitoes had not quite finished their job on me, and some actually bit me through a thick woollen blanket. My leg was very sore where they feasted on it this morning. One of the men mixed up some mud for a poultice, which helped it wonderfully. I found out we could learn many things from these poor creatures, not the least being how to live on the fat of the land we are in.

Noon. The quartermaster came back and said the A. G. Brown would be along to-day some time. That it will make a landing one-half mile above here. Accordingly we pack up and move up to Mr. Nelson's so as to be sure of not missing it. Mr. Nelson, the owner of everything in this region, is here. He has been a merchant in New Orleans, but since Banks' order driving all Rebel sympathizers from the city, has been here at his plantation home. It is said he owns 20,000 acres of land, and all the necessary stock and tools to work so large a tract. After a supper of hard-tack and bacon, Lieutenant Reynolds and I went and called on the gentleman. He received us very politely, and offered us the best his house afforded. The boat not coming we prolonged our visit, sitting on the broad piazza and smoking his cigars. He said he was a widower, with two children, a son in the army, and a daughter at school in Georgia. He told us of the outrageous wrongs he had suffered at the hands of the invading armies, how they had laid waste his land, torn down his buildings and fences, taking away his mules and horses, cattle and sheep, until he had nothing but the bare land to live upon, and no slaves left him to work even that. It was holding up the other side of the picture to our view, and in spite of ourselves we were sorry for him. He evidently did not expect sympathy from us, for after reciting his wrongs he changed the subject of conversation around to topics we could all agree upon, and after a sociable chat he invited us to spend the night with him, agreeing to have us called in case the boat came during the night. He urged us to stay and we did. He gave us rooms, elegantly furnished, with beds so white and clean we were some time making up our minds whether after all we ought not to sleep on the floor, and leave the beds as they were. But the whole mosquito bars and a few nips from our ever-present enemies decided us. We undressed and were soon asleep, too sound even to dream of home. The boat did not come and the next thing we were aware of it was morning.

70. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 21 October, 1775.

The sickness has abated here and in the neighboring towns. In Boston, I am told, it is very sickly among the inhabitants and the soldiery. By a man, one Haskins, who came out the day before yesterday, I learn that there are but about twenty-five hundred soldiers in town. How many there are at Charlestown, he could not tell. He had been in irons three weeks, some malicious fellow having said that he saw him at the battle of Lexington; but he proved that he was not out of Boston that day, upon which he was released, and went with two other men out in a small boat, under their eye, to fish. They played about near the shore, while catching small fish, till they thought they could possibly reach Dorchester Neck; no sooner were they perceived attempting to escape, than they had twenty cannons discharged at them, but they all happily reached the shore. He says no language can paint the distress of the inhabitants; most of them destitute of wood and of provisions of every kind. The bakers say, unless they have a new supply of wood they cannot bake above one fortnight longer; their biscuit are not above one half the former size; the soldiers are obliged to do very hard duty, and are uneasy to a great degree, many of them declaring they will not continue much longer in such a state, but at all hazards will escape. The inhabitants are desperate, and contriving means of escape. A floating battery of ours went out two nights ago, and rowed near the town, and then discharged their guns. Some of the balls went into the workhouse, some through the tents in the Common, and one through the sign of the Lamb Tavern. He says it drove them all out of the Common, men, women, and children screaming, and threw them into the utmost distress; but, very unhappily for us, in the discharge of one of the cannon, the ball not being properly rammed down, it split and killed two men, and wounded seven more, upon which they were obliged to return. He also says that the Tories are much distressed about the fate of Dr. Church, and very anxious to obtain him, and would exchange Lovell for him.

This man is so exasperated at the ill usage he has received from them, that he is determined to enlist immediately. They almost starved him whilst he was in irons. He says he hopes it will be in his power to send some of them to heaven for mercy. They are building a fort by the hay-market,[106] and rending down houses for timber to do it with. In the course of the last week, several persons have found means to escape. One of them says it is talked in town that Howe will issue a proclamation, giving liberty to all who will not take up arms, to depart the town, and making it death to have any intercourse with the country afterwards.

At present it looks as if there was no likelihood of peace; the ministry are determined to proceed at all events; the people are already slaves, and have neither virtue nor spirit to help themselves nor us. The time is hastening when George, like Richard, may cry, "My kingdom for a horse!" and want even that wealth to make the purchase. I hope by degrees we shall be inured to hardships, and become a virtuous, valiant people, forgetting our former luxury, and each one apply with industry and frugality to manufactures and husbandry, till we rival all other nations by our virtues.

I thank you for your amusing account of the Quakers; their great stress with regard to color in their dress, etc., is not the only ridiculous part of their sentiments with regard to religious matters.

"There's not a day but to the man of thought Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach On life, and makes him sick of seeing more."

What are your thoughts with regard to Dr. Church? Had you much knowledge of him? I think you had no intimate acquaintance with him.

"A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man;Some sinister intent taints all he does."

It is matter of great speculation what will be his punishment; the people are much enraged against him; if he is set at liberty, even after he has received a severe punishment, I do not think he will be safe. He will be despised and detested by every one, and many suspicions will remain in the minds of people in regard to our rulers; they are for supposing this  person is not sincere, and that  one they have jealousy of.

Have you any prospect of returning? I hoped to have heard from you by the gentlemen who came as a committee here;[107] but they have been here a week, and I have not any letters.

My father and sister Betsey desire to be remembered to you. He is very disconsolate. It makes my heart ache to see him, and I know not how to go to the house. He said to me the other day, "Child, I see your mother, go to what part of the house I will." I think he has lost almost as much flesh as if he had been sick; and Betsey, poor girl, looks broken and worn with grief. These near connections, how they twist and cling about the heart, and, when torn off, draw the best blood from it.

"Each friend by fate snatched from us is a plume Plucked from the wing of human vanity."

Be so good as to present my regards to Mrs. Hancock. I hope she is very happy. Mrs. Warren called upon me on her way to Watertown. I wish I could as easily come to you as she can go to Watertown. But it is my lot. In the twelve years we have been married, I believe we have not lived together more than six.

If you could, with any conveniency, procure me the articles I wrote for, I should be very glad, more especially the needles and cloth; they are in such demand that we are really distressed for want of them.

Adieu. I think of nothing further to add, but that I am, with the tenderest regard, your

Portia.

Footnotes:

[106]Somewhere about the southeasterly corner of the Common.

[107]Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, and Colonel Harrison, who came from the Continental Congress to mature the plans for continuing the army.

Some Occult Phenomena

[October 21, 1880.]

There were thirteen of them, and they sat down to dinner just as the clock in the steeple chimed midnight. The sheeted dead squeaked and gibbered in their graves; the owl hooted in the ivy. "For what we are going to receive may the Secret Powers of Nature and the force of circumstances make us truly thankful," devoutly exclaimed the domestic medium. The spirits of Chaos and Cosmos rapped a courteous acknowledgment on the table. Potage à la sorcière  (after the famous recipe in Macbeth) was served in a cauldron; and while it was being handed round, Hume recited his celebrated argument regarding miracles. He had hardly reached the twenty-fifth hypothesis, when a sharp cry startled the company, and Mr. Cyper Redalf, the eminent journalist, was observed to lean back in his chair, pale and speechless. His whole frame was convulsed with emotion; his hair stood erect and emitted electro-biological sparks. The company sat aghast. A basin of soup dashed in his face and a few mesmeric passes soon brought him round, however; and presently he was able to explain to the assembled carousers the cause of his agitation. It was a recollection, a tender memory of youth. The umbrella of his boyhood had suddenly surged upon his imagination! It was an umbrella from which he had been parted for years: it was an umbrella round which had once centred associations solemn and mysterious. In itself there had been nothing remarkable about the umbrella. It was a gingham, conceived in the liberal spirit of a bygone age; such an umbrella as you would not easily forget when it had once fairly bloomed on the retina of your eye; yet an everyday umbrella, a commonplace umbrella half a century ago; an umbrella that would have elicited no remark from our great-grandmothers, hardly a smile from our grandmothers; but an umbrella well calculated to excite the affections and stimulate the imagination of an impulsive, high-spirited, and impressionable boy. It was an umbrella not easily forgotten; an umbrella that necessarily produced a large and deep impression on the mind.

All present were profoundly moved; a feeling of dismay crept over them, defacing their festivity. Tears were shed. Only from one pair of damp eyes did any gleam of hope or comfort radiate.

A distinguished foreigner, well known in the uttermost spirit-circles, wiped from his brow drops of perspiration which some dream had loosened from his brain. He felt the tide of psychic force beating upon the high shores of his heart. He was conscious of a constitutional change sweeping like a tempest over his protoplastic tissue. He felt that the secret fountains of his being were troubled by the angel of spirit-rapping, and that his gross, unbelieving nature stepped down, bathed, and was healed. The Moses of the spirit-wilderness struck the rock of his material life, and occult dynamics came welling forth from the undiscovered springs of consciousness. His mortal statics lost their equilibrium in a general flux of soul. A cyclone raged round his mesmeric aura. He began to apprehend an epiphany of electro-biological potentiality. The fierce light that never was in kerosine or tallow dawned round him; matter melted like mist; souls were carousing about him; the great soul of nature brooded like an aurora of clairvoyance above all; his awful mediumhood held him fiercely in her mystic domination; and things grew to a point. From the focus of the clairvoyant aurora clouds of creative impulse gathered, and sweeping soulward were condensed in immaterial atoms upon the cold peaks of Purpose. Thus a spiritual gingham impressed upon his soul of souls a matrix, out of which, by a fine progenitive effort, he now begets and ejects a materialized gingham into a potato-plot of the garden without.

The thing is patent to all who live above the dead-level of vulgar imbecility. No head of a department could fail to understand it. Indeed, to such as live on the uplands of speculation, not only is the process lucid in itself, but it is luciferous, illuminating all the obscure hiding-places of Nature. It is the magic-lantern of creation; it is the key to all mysticism, to the three-card trick, and to the basket-trick; it sheds a glory upon thimble-rigging, a halo upon legerdemain; it even radiates vagabond beams of splendour upon pocket-picking and the cognate arts. It explains how the apples get into the dumpling; how the milk comes out of the cocoanut; how the deficit issues from the surplus; how matter evolves itself from nothing. It renders the hypothesis of a First Cause not only unnecessary, but exquisitely ludicrous. Under such dry light as it offers to our intelligence the whole epos of Christianity seems a vapid dream.

But I anticipate conclusions. We must go back to the dinner-party and to Mr. Cyper Redalf, who has been restored to consciousness, and who still is the object of general sympathy; for it is not until the disturbance in the distinguished foreigner's nerve aura has amounted to a psychic cyclone that the company perceive his interesting condition, and begin to look for a manifestation. The hopes of some fondly turn to raps, others desire the pressure of a spirit hand, or the ringing of a bell, or the levitation of furniture, or the sound of a spirit voice, the music of an immaterial larynx. Dinner is soon forgotten; the thing has become a séance, hands are joined, the lights are instinctively lowered, and the whole company, following an irresistible impulse, march round and round the room, and then out into the darkness after the soul-stirred foreigner, after the foreigner of distinction. Is it unconscious cerebration that leads them to the potato-plot, or is it the irresistible influence of some Supreme Power, something more occult and more interesting than God, that compels them to fall on their knees, and grub with their hands in the recently manured potato-bed? I must leave this question unanswered, as a sufficiently occult explanation does not occur to me: but suffice it to say that this search after truth, this burrowing in the gross earth for some spiritual sign, appears to me a spectacle at once inspiring and touching. It seems to me that human life has seldom had anything more beautiful and more ennobling to show than these postmaster-generals, boards of revenue, able editors, and foreigners of distinction asking Truth, the Everlasting Verity, for a sign and then searching for it in a potato-field. In this glorious quest every circumstance demands our respectful attention. They search on their hands and knees in the attitude of passionate prayer; they search in the dark; they seize the dumb earth with delirious fingers; they knock their heads against one another and against the dull, hard trunks of trees. Still they search: they wrestle with the Earth: she must yield up her secrets. Nor will Earth deny to them the desired boon. Theirs is the true spirit of devout inquiry, and they are persons of consideration in evening-dress. Nature will unveil her charms. Earth with the groans of an infinite pain, a boundless travail, yields up the gingham umbrella.

We will not intrude upon their immediate rapture as they carry their treasure away with loving hands; but it is necessary to note the means taken to prove, for the satisfaction only of a foolish and unbelieving world, the supernatural nature of the phenomenon. The umbrella is examined under severe test conditions: it is weighed in a vacuum, and placed under the spectroscope. It is found to be porous and a conductor of heat; but it is not soluble in water, though it boils at 500° Fahr. To demonstrate the absence of trickery or collusion everyone turns up his sleeves and empties his waistcoat pockets. There is no room for sleight of hand in presence of this searching scientific investigation. The umbrella is  certainly not  a supposititious animal; yet it is the umbrella of Mr. Cyper Redalf's boyhood. No one can doubt this who sees him clasp it in a fond embrace, who sees him shed burning tears on its voluminous folds.—THE ORPHAN.