October 25

October 25

October 25, 1875.--I have been listening to M. Taine's first lecture (on the "Ancien Régime") delivered in the university hall. It was an extremely substantial piece of work--clear, instructive, compact, and full of matter. As a writer he shows great skill in the French method of simplifying his subject by massing it in large striking divisions; his great defect is a constant straining after points; his principal merit is the sense he has of historical reality, his desire to see things as they are. For the rest, he has extreme openness of mind, freedom of thought, and precision of language. The hall was crowded.

October Twenty-Fifth

Supposing a disintegration of the Union, notwithstanding all efforts to prevent it, to be forced upon us by the obstinacy and impracticability of parties on each side—the case would still be far from hopeless. The Border States, in that event, would form, in self-defence, a Confederacy of their own, which would serve as a centre of reinforcement for the reconstruction of the Union.

John P. Kennedy
(In “The Border States—their Power and Duty in the Present Disordered Condition of the Country”)

 

John P. Kennedy born, 1795

 

 

October 25, 1863

Sunday. When we awoke we were in sight of Brashear City. We landed, formed in line as well as we could, and marched to our headquarters, where I found my old crony, Sol Drake. We found quarters for the men in an unused building, and in a little while their woolly heads were sticking out from every window.

The quartermaster drew clothes for them, and they were soon fitted out with suits of blue, just like the rest of the Linkum Sogers. The trouble was to fit them with shoes. I doubt if many had ever had a shoe on their feet. Their feet are wide at the toes and taper straight back to the heel. No. 12 was the smallest size we found use for, the most of them taking 14 or larger. They insisted on squeezing a No. 14 foot into a No. 10 or 12 shoe, but we, knowing what that would result in, got them properly shod after a long time. Then how proud they were! We then gave them their rations for the day, telling them through interpreters that if they wasted it or gave it away, they could have no more until to-morrow. We moved all our belongings from the boat and filled out the day visiting and talking over old times, and at early bedtime settled down for the night in a four-room house which has been taken for our headquarters while here.

Went to see Dr. Thayer about getting my leave extended about 10 o'clock a. m.; found him at his house but cranky; would not, to my surprise, give me a certificate for extension of leave. My wound is not yet fully healed, the stitches are still in, it's sensitive, inflamed and sore, can't eat solid food, am not fit to go to the front, and I'm no malingerer either. It would teach Dr. Thayer something to get in a hot fight and be wounded. I never did like bandbox doctors, anyway! I'm afraid the board of surgeons at Annapolis, Md. will discharge me for they  are practical men. I'm disgusted with Thayer! All I need is a reasonable time for my wound to mend. A man with a part of his head shot away can't be expected to be fit for duty a month after. If I shirked battle, I suppose Thayer would extend my sick leave! That's the way such things usually go! Merit don't count though, with testy doctors if approached too soon after breakfast. If I were a toady in manner or reality, I suppose I could get anything, but I'm only a plain, presentable, unassuming country lad while Thayer impresses me as an aristocrat. Ed. Russell has taken me to ride about Burlington, a very pretty little city; took the noon train for Montpelier; shall go up and call professionally on Dr. James in the morning; he'll give me a certificate.

October 25

October 25, 1870 (Geneva ).--"Each function to the most worthy:" this maxim governs all constitutions, and serves to test them. Democracy is not forbidden to apply it, but democracy rarely does apply it, because she holds, for example, that the most worthy man is the man who pleases her, whereas he who pleases her is not always the most worthy, and because she supposes that reason guides the masses, whereas in reality they are most commonly led by passion. And in the end every falsehood has to be expiated, for truth always takes its revenge.

Alas, whatever one may say or do, wisdom, justice, reason, and goodness will never be anything more than special cases and the heritage of a few elect souls. Moral and intellectual harmony, excellence in all its forms, will always be a rarity of great price, an isolated chef d'oeuvre. All that can be expected from the most perfect institutions is that they should make it possible for individual excellence to develop itself, not that they should produce the excellent individual. Virtue and genius, grace and beauty, will always constitute a noblesse such as no form of government can manufacture. It is of no use, therefore, to excite one's self for or against revolutions which have only an importance of the second order--an importance which I do not wish either to diminish or to ignore, but an importance which, after all, is mostly negative. The political life is but the means of the true life.

220. John Adams

Yorktown, 25 October, 1777.

This town is a small one, not larger than Plymouth. There are in it two German Churches, the one Lutheran, the other Calvinistical. The congregations are pretty numerous and their attendance upon public worship is decent. It is remarkable that the Germans, wherever they are found, are careful to maintain the public worship, which is more than can be said of the other denominations of Christians, this way. There is one Church here, erected by the joint contributions of Episcopalians and Presbyterians, but the minister, who is a missionary, is confined for Toryism, so that they have had for a long time no public worship. Congress have appointed two chaplains, Mr. White and Mr. Duffield, the former of whom, an Episcopalian, is arrived, and opens Congress with prayers every day. The latter is expected every hour. Mr. Duché, I am sorry to inform you, has turned out an apostate and a traitor. Poor man! I pity his weakness and detest his wickedness.

As to news, we are yet in a painful suspense about affairs at the northward, but from Philadelphia we have accounts that are very pleasing. Commodore Hazelwood with his galleys and Lieutenant-colonel Smith in the garrison of Fort Mifflin have behaved in a manner the most gallant and glorious. They have defended the river and the fort with a firmness and perseverance which does honor to human nature. If the news from the northward is true, Mr. Howe will scarcely venture upon winter-quarters in Philadelphia. We are waiting for news from Rhode Island.

I am wearied with the life I lead, and long for the joys of my family. God grant I may enjoy it in peace. Peace is my dear delight. War has no charms for me. If I live much longer in banishment I shall scarcely know my own children. Tell my little ones that if they will be very good, papa will come home.

221. Abigail Adams

Boston, 25 October, 1777.

The joyful news of the surrender of General Burgoyne and all his army, to our victorious troops, prompted me to take a ride this afternoon with my daughter to town, to join, to-morrow, with my friends in thanksgiving and praise to the Supreme Being who hath so remarkably delivered our enemies into our hands. And, hearing that an express is to go off to-morrow morning, I have retired to write you a few lines. I have received no letters from you since you left Philadelphia, by the post, and but one by any private hand. I have written you once before this. Do not fail of writing by the return of this express, and direct your letters to the care of my uncle, who has been a kind and faithful hand to me through the whole season, and a constant attendant upon the post-office.

Burgoyne is expected in by the middle of the week. I have read many articles of capitulation, but none which ever before contained so generous terms. Many people find fault with them, but perhaps do not consider sufficiently the circumstances of General Gates, who, by delaying and exacting more, might have lost all. This must be said of him, that he has followed the Golden Rule, and done as he would wish himself, in like circumstances, to be dealt with. Must not the vaporing Burgoyne, who, it is said, possesses great sensibility, be humbled to the dust? He may now write the "Blockade of Saratoga."[183] I have heard it proposed that he should take up his quarters in the Old South, but believe he will not be permitted to come to this town. Heaven grant us success at the southward. That saying of Poor Richard often occurs to my mind, "God helps them who help themselves;" but if men turn their backs and run from an enemy, they cannot surely expect to conquer him.

This day, dearest of friends, completes thirteen years since we were solemnly united in wedlock. Three years of this time we have been cruelly separated. I have, patiently as I could, endured it, with the belief that you were serving your country and rendering your fellow-creatures essential benefits. May future generations rise up and call you blessed, and the present behave worthy of the blessings you are laboring to secure to them, and I shall have less reason to regret the deprivation of my own particular felicity. Adieu, dearest of friends, adieu.

Footnotes:

[183]This refers to Burgoyne's talents as a dramatist, which were said to have been called into requisition to amuse his companions whilst penned up within the lines in Boston.

279. Abigail Adams

25 October, 1782.

My dearest Friend,—The family are all retired to rest; the busy scenes of the day are over; a day which I wished to have devoted in a particular manner to my dearest friend; but company falling in prevented it, nor could I claim a moment until this silent watch of the night.

Look (is there a dearer name than friend ? Think of it for me), look to the date of this letter, and tell me what are the thoughts which arise in your mind. Do you not recollect that eighteen years have run their circuit since we pledged our mutual faith to each other, and the hymeneal torch was lighted at the altar of Love? Yet, yet it burns with unabating fervor. Old Ocean has not quenched it, nor old Time smothered it in this bosom. It cheers me in the lonely hour; it comforts me even in the gloom which sometimes possesses my mind.

It is, my friend, from the remembrance of the joys I have lost, that the arrow of affliction is pointed. I recollect the untitled man to whom I gave my heart, and in the agony of recollection, when time and distance present themselves together, wish he had never been any other. Who shall give me back time? Who shall compensate to me those years I cannot recall? How dearly have I paid for a titled husband! Should I wish you less wise, that I might enjoy more happiness? I cannot find that in my heart. Yet Providence has wisely placed the real blessings of life within the reach of moderate abilities; and he who is wiser than his neighbor sees so much more to pity and lament, that I doubt whether the balance of happiness is in his scale.

I feel a disposition to quarrel with a race of beings who have cut me off, in the midst of my days, from the only society I delighted in. "Yet no man liveth for himself," says an authority I will not dispute. Let me draw satisfaction from this source, and, instead of murmuring and repining at my lot, consider it in a more pleasing view. Let me suppose that the same gracious Being who first smiled upon our union, and blessed us in each other, endowed my friend with powers and talents for the benefit of mankind, and gave him a willing mind to improve them for the service of his country. You have obtained honor and reputation at home and abroad. Oh, may not an inglorious peace wither the laurels you have won!

I wrote you by Captain Grinnell. The Firebrand  is in great haste to return, and I fear will not give me time to say half I wish. I want you to say many more things to me than you do; but you write so wise, so like a minister of state. I know your embarrassments. Thus again I pay for titles. Life takes its complexion from inferior things. It is little attentions and assiduities that sweeten the bitter draught and smooth the rugged road.

I have repeatedly expressed my desire to make a part of your family. But "Will you come and see me?" cannot be taken in that serious light I should choose to consider an invitation from those I love. I do not doubt but that you would be glad to see me, but I know you are apprehensive of dangers and fatigues. I know your situation may be unsettled, and it may be more permanent than I wish it. Only think how the words, "three, four, and five years' absence," sound! They sink into my heart with a weight I cannot express. Do you look like the miniature you sent? I cannot think so. But you have a better likeness, I am told. Is that designed for me? Gracious Heaven! restore to me the original, and I care not who has the shadow.

We are hoping for the fall of Gibraltar, because we imagine that will facilitate the peace; and who is not weary of the war? The French fleet still remain with us, and the British cruisers insult them. More American vessels have been captured since they have lain here than for a year before; the General Greene  is taken and carried into Halifax, by which, I suppose, I have lost some small bundles or packages. Beals told me that you gave him seven small packages, which he delivered Captain Bacon for me. The prisoners have all arrived, except Savil, who is yet in France. I mentioned to you before, that some of them had been with me, and offered to repay the money with which you supplied them. I could only tell them that I had never received a line from you concerning the matter, and that I chose first to hear from you. I would not receive a farthing, unless I had your express direction, and your handwriting to prove, that what you had done was from your private purse, which I was confident was the case, or you would have been as ready to have relieved others, if you had any public funds for that purpose, as those which belonged to this town. I found a story prevailing that what you had done was at the public expense. This took its rise either from ignorance or ingratitude; but it fully determined me to receive your direction. The persons who have been with me are the two Clarks, the two Beales, and Job Field.

Adieu, my dear friend.

Ever, ever yours,     Portia.

Sunday, October 25th.—Couldn't write last night: the only thing was to try and forget it all. It has been an absolute hell of a journey—there is no other word for it. First, you must understand that this big battle from Ostend to Lille is perhaps the most desperate of all, though that is said of each in turn—Mons, the Aisne, and this; but the men and officers who have been through all say this is the worst. The Germans are desperate, and stick at nothing, and the Allies are the same; and in determination to drive them back, each man personally seems to be the same. Consequently the "carnage" is being appalling, and we have been practically in it, as far as horrors go. Guns were cracking and splitting all night, lighting up the sky in flashes, and fires were burning on both sides. The Clearing Hospital close by, which was receiving the wounded from the field and sending them on to us, was packed and overflowing with badly wounded, the M.O. on the station said.

We had 368; a good 200 were dangerously and seriously wounded, perhaps more; and the sitting-up cases were bad enough. The compound-fractured femurs were put up with rifles and pick-handles for splints, padded with bits of kilts and straw; nearly all the men had more than one wound—some had ten; one man with a huge compound fracture above the elbow had tied on a bit of string with a bullet in it as a tourniquet above the wound himself. When I cut off his soaked three layers of sleeve there was no dressing on it at all.

They were bleeding faster than we could cope with it; and the agony of getting them off the stretchers on to the top bunks is a thing to forget. We were full up by about 2 a.m., and then were delayed by a collision up the line, which was blocked by dead horses as a result. All night and without a break till we got back to Boulogne at 4 p.m. next day (yesterday) we grappled with them, and some were not dressed when we got into B——. The head cases were delirious, and trying to get out of the window, and we were giving strychnine and morphia all round. Two were put off dying at St Omer, but we kept the rest alive to Boulogne. The outstanding shining thing that hit you in the eye all through was the universal silent pluck of the men; they stuck it all without a whine or complaint or even a comment: it was, "Would you mind moving my leg when you get time," and "Thank you very much," or "That's absolutely glorious," as one boy said on having his bootlace cut, or "That's grand," when you struck a lucky position for a wound in the back. One badly smashed up said contentedly, "I was lucky—I was the only man left alive in our trench"; so was another in another trench; sixteen out of twenty-five of one Company in a trench were on the train, all seriously wounded except one. One man with both legs smashed and other wounds was asked if it was all by one shell: "Oh yes; why, the man next me was blowed to bits." The bleeding made them all frightfully thirsty (they had only been hit a few hours many of them), and luckily we had got in a good supply of boiled water beforehand on each carriage, so we had plenty when there was time to get it. In the middle of the worst of it in the night I became conscious of a Belgian Boy Scout of fourteen in the corridor, with a glass and a pail of drinking water; that boy worked for hours with his glass and pail on his own, or wherever you sent him. We took him back to Calais. He had come up into the firing line on his cycle fitted with a rifle, with tobacco for the troops, and lived with the British whom he loved, sharing their rations. He was a little brick; one of the Civil Surgeons got him taken back with us, where he wanted to go.

There were twenty-five officers on the train. They said there were 11,000 Germans dead, and they were using the dead piled up instead of trenches.

About 1 o'clock that night we heard a rifle shot: it was a German spy shooting at the sentry sailor on the armoured train alongside of us; they didn't catch him.

It took from 4 to 10 p.m. to unload our bad cases and get them into hospitals on motor ambulances: they lay in rows on their stretchers on the platform waiting their turn without a grumble.

There have been so many hundreds brought down this week that they've had suddenly to clear four hotels for hospitals.

We are now in the filthiest of sidings, and the smell of the burning of our heaps of filthy débris  off the train is enough to make you sick. We all slept like logs last night, and could have gone on all day; but the train has to be cleaned down by the orderlies, and everything got ready for the next lot: they nearly moved us up again last night, but we shall go to-day.

I think if one knew beforehand what all this was going to be like one would hardly want to face it, but somehow you're glad to be there.

We were tackling a bad wound in the head, and when it was finished and the man was being got comfortable, he flinched and remarked, "That leg is a beast." We found a compound-fractured femur put up with a rifle for a splint! He had blankets on, and had never mentioned that his thigh was broken. It too had to be packed, and all he said was, "That leg is  a beast," and "That leg is a Beast."

The Planter

A Farmer Prince

[Illustration: THE PLANTER—"A farmer prince."]

[October 25, 1879]

The Planter lives to-day as we all lived fifty years ago. He lives in state and bounty, like the Lord of Burleigh. He lives like that fine old English gentleman who had an old estate, and who kept up his old mansion at a bountiful old rate. He lives in a grand wholesale manner; he lives in round numbers; he lives like a hero. Everything is Homeric about him. He establishes himself firmly in the land with great joy and plenty; and he gathers round him all that makes life full-toned and harmonious, from the grand timbre of draught-ale and the organ-thunder of hunting, to the piccolo and tintinnabulum of Poker and maraschino. His life is a fresco-painting, on which some Cyclopæan Raphaelite has poured his rainbows from a fire-engine of a hundred elephant-power.

We paltry officials live meanly in pen-and-ink sketches. Our little life is bounded by a dream of promotion and pension. We toil, we slave; we put by money, we pinch ourselves. We are hardly fit to live in this beautiful world, with its laughing girls and grapes, its summer seas, its sunshine and flowers, its Garnet Wolseleys and bulbuls. We go moping through its glories in green spectacles, befouling it with our loathsome statistics and reports. The sweet air of heaven, the blue firmament, and the everlasting hills do not satisfy our poisoned hearts; so we make to ourselves a little tin-pot world of blotted-paper, debased rupees, graded lists, and tinsel honours; we try to feed our lungs on its typhoidal effluvia. Aroint[T] thee, Comptroller and Accountant-General with all thy grisly crew! Thou art worse than the blind Fury with the abhorred shears; for thou slittest my thin-spun pay-wearing spectacles, thrice branded varlet! [There is a lily on my brow with anguish moist and fever-dew, and on my cheeks a fading rose fast withereth too, and for these emblems of woe thou shalt have to give an answer.]

[T: An old English form of avaunt, begone! Vide "Macbeth ," I. iii. 6.]

Dear Vanity, of course you understand that I do not allude to the amiable old gentleman who controls our Accounts Department, who is the mirror of tenderness. The person I would impale is a creation of my own wrath, a mere official type struck in frenzied fancy, [at a moment when Time seems a maniac scattering dust, and Life a Fury slinging flame].

Let us soothe ourselves by contemplating the Planter and his generous, simple life. It calms one to look at him. He is something placid, strong, and easeful. Without wishing to appear obsequious, I always feel disposed to borrow money when I meet a substantial Planter. He inspires confidence. I grasp his strong hand; I take him (figuratively) to my heart, while the desire to bank with him wells up mysteriously in my bosom.

He lives in a grand old bungalow, surrounded by ancient trees. Large rooms open into one another on every side in long vistas; a broad and hospitable-looking verandah girds all. Everywhere trophies of the chase meet the eye. We walk upon cool matting; we recline upon long-armed chairs; low and heavy punkahs swing overhead; a sweet breathing of wet khaskhas  grass comes sobbing out of the thermantidote; and a gigantic but gentle khidmatgar  is always at our elbow with long glasses on a silver tray. This man's name is Nubby Bux, but he means nothing by it, and a child might play with him. I often say to him in a caressing tone, "Peg lao ";[U] and he is grateful for any little attention of this sort.

[U: "Bring me a brandy and soda."]

It is near noon. My friend Mr. Great-Heart, familiarly known as "Jamie Macdonald," has been taking me over the factory and stables. We have been out since early morning on the jumpiest and beaniest of Waler mares. I am not killed, but a good deal shaken. The glass trembles in my hand. I have an absorbing thirst, and I drink copiously, almost passionately. My out-stretched legs are reposing on the arms of my chair and I stiffen into an attitude of rest. I hear my host splashing and singing in his tub.

Breakfast is a meal conceived in a large and liberal spirit. We pass from dish to dish through all the compass of a banquet, the diapason closing full in beer. Several joyful assistants, whose appetites would take first-class honours at any university or cattle show, join the hunt and are well in at the beer. What tales are told! I feel glad that Miss Harriet Martineau, Mrs. Mary Somerville, and Dr. Watts are not present. I keep looking round to see that no bishop comes into the room. It is a comfort to me to think that Bishop Heber is dead. I gave up blushing five years ago when I entered the Secretariat; but if at this moment Sir William Jones were to enter, or Mr. Whitley Stokes with his child-like heart and his Cymric vocabulary, I believe I should be strangely affected.

The day welters on through drink and billiards. In the afternoon more joyful Planters drop in, and we play a rubber. From whist to the polo ground, where I see the merry men of Tirhoot play the best and fastest game that the world can show. At night carousals and potations pottle deep. Next morning sees the entire party in the khadar [V] of the river, mounted on Arabs, armed with spears, hunting Jamie Macdonald's Caledonian boar. These Scotchmen never forget their nationality.

[V: Low-lying land .]

And while these joyful Planters are thus rejoicing, the indigo is growing silently all round. While they play, Nature works for them. So does the patient black man; he smokes his huqqa  and keeps an eye on the rising crop.

You will have learnt from Mr. Caird that indigo grows in cakes (the ale is imported); to his description of the process of manufacture I can only add that the juice is generally expressed in the vernacular. You give a cake of the raw material to a coloured servant, you stand over him to see that he doesn't eat it, and your assistant canes him slowly as he squeezes the juice into a blue bottle. Blue pills are made of the refuse; your female servants use aniline dyes; and there you are. If any one dies in any other way you can refuse him the rites of cremation; fine him four annas; and warn him not to do it again. This is a burning question in Tirhoot and occasions much litigation.

Jamie Macdonald has now a contract for dyeing the Blue ribbons of the Turf; Tommy Begg has taken the blue boars and the Oxford Blues; and Bobby Thomas does the blue-books and the True Blues. It may not be generally known that the aristocracy do not employ aniline dyes for their blue blood. The minor Planters do business chiefly in blue stockings, blue bonnets, blue bottles, blue beards, and blue coats. For more information of this kind I can only refer you to Mr. Caird and the Nineteenth Century.

Some Planters grow tea, coffee, lac, mother-of-pearl, pickles, poppadums and curry powder—but now I am becoming encyclopædic and scientific, and trespassing on ground already taken up by the Famine Commission.

Fewer Planters are killed now by wild camels who roam over the mango fields, but a good deal of damage is still done to the prickly pear-trees. Mr. Cunningham has written an interesting note on this. Rewards have still to be offered for dead tigers and persons who have died of starvation. "When the Government will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian."— ALI BABA, K.C.B.