October 27

October Twenty-Seventh

The attempt made to establish a separate and independent confederation has failed, but the consciousness of having done your duty faithfully and to the end will in some measure repay for the hardships you have undergone. In bidding you farewell, rest assured that you carry with you my best wishes for your future welfare and happiness.... I now cheerfully and gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the officers and men of my command, whose zeal, fidelity, and unflinching bravery have been the great source of my past success in arms. I have never on the field of battle sent you where I felt myself unwilling to pursue. You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the government to which you have surrendered can afford to be and will be magnanimous.

N. B. Forrest
(Farewell Address to His Soldiers )

 

 

October 27, 1863

Tuesday. It rained hard all day, consequently no drill or other work was attempted. Major Palon and the quartermaster came from the city, the latter with rubber blankets and shelter tents for the recruits. He also brought some letters, one for me telling about the draft at home. Those that are drafted can get off by hiring a substitute or by paying $300, in which case a substitute is furnished them. I am glad I enlisted. There have been times when I could hardly say it, but I can say it now with all sincerity.

More women and children have come, wives and children of the men we have. Poor things! I suppose they have nowhere else to go or to stay, so they have followed on after their husbands and fathers. I have heard that the government has provided camps for them, where rations are served to them just as to the soldiers. It is a very proper thing to do, and I hope it may be true that these helpless ones are thus provided for. This arming of the negroes is not such a simple affair as it seemed. This is a side I had not thought of, but I don't see how it can be dodged.

It's not quite as pleasant this morning as yesterday; had Dr. Forbush operate on my game jaws, teeth, etc., this forenoon; took ether and I must say that I have no desire to ever take any more. The doctor tells me my upper jaw is very badly injured. I suspected it but hoped it might be the crushed teeth which gave me so much pain; have been sick all the forenoon from the effects of the ether. When I came out from under its influence I was crying like a great booby, for just at that time I was living over my illness of typhoid fever when I was reported dead at Rockville, Md. in the winter of 1862-63, and I thought I was all alone among strangers. It was more real, though, as I was delirious at Rockville, and don't recall any such genuine anguish as I was experiencing when I awoke from the effects of ether. To awake from such hallucinations to the realities of life comparatively well was a remarkable experience; it dazed me for a moment on coming back to the world, but I rallied soon on looking at the doctor and Pert and saw them relievedly smiling at my surprised look and manner. I went to a band concert tonight, and stayed with Carl Wilson.

Tuesday, October 27th, Boulogne.—We got loaded up and off by about 7 p.m., and arrived back here this morning. There are two trains to unload ahead of us, so we shall probably be on duty all day. It is the second night running we haven't had our clothes off—though we did lie down the night before. Last night we had each a four-hour shift to lie down, when all the worst were seen to. One man died at 6 a.m. and another is dying: many as usual are delirious, and the hæmorrhage was worse than ever: it is frightfully difficult to stop it with these bad wounds and compound fractures. One sergeant has both eyes gone from a shell wound.

The twelve sitting-up cases on each carriage are a joy after the tragedy of the rest. They sit up talking and smoking till late, "because they are so surprised and pleased to be alive, and it is too comfortable to sleep!"

One man with a broken leg gave me both his pillows for a worse man, and said, "I'm not bad at all—only got me leg broke." A Reading man, with his face wounded and one eye gone, kept up a running fire of wit and hilarity during his dressing about having himself photographed as a Guy Fawkes for 'Sketchy Bits.'

October 27

October 27, 1864. (Promenade de la Treille ).--The air this morning was so perfectly clear and lucid that one might have distinguished a figure on the Vouache. [Footnote: The Vouache is the hill which bounds the horizon of Geneva to the south-west.] This level and brilliant sun had set fire to the whole range of autumn colors; amber, saffron, gold, sulphur, yellow ochre, orange, red, copper-color, aquamarine, amaranth, shone resplendent on the leaves which were still hanging from the boughs or had already fallen beneath the trees. It was delicious. The martial step of our two battalions going out to their drilling-ground, the sparkle of the guns, the song of the bugles, the sharp distinctness of the house outlines, still moist with the morning dew, the transparent coolness of all the shadows--every detail in the scene was instinct with a keen and wholesome gayety.

There are two forms of autumn: there is the misty and dreamy autumn, there is the vivid and brilliant autumn: almost the difference between the two sexes. The very word autumn is both masculine and feminine. Has not every season, in some fashion, its two sexes? Has it not its minor and its major key, its two sides of light and shadow, gentleness and force? Perhaps. All that is perfect is double; each face has two profiles, each coin two sides. The scarlet autumn stands for vigorous activity: the gray autumn for meditative feeling. The one is expansive and overflowing; the other still and withdrawn. Yesterday our thoughts were with the dead. To-day we are celebrating the vintage.

October 27

October 27, 1856.--In all the chief matters of life we are alone, and our true history is scarcely ever deciphered by others. The chief part of the drama is a monologue, rather an intimate debate between God, our conscience, and ourselves. Tears, griefs, depressions, disappointments, irritations, good and evil thoughts, decisions, uncertainties, deliberations, all these belong to our secret, and are almost all incommunicable and intransmissible, even when we try to speak of them, and even when we write them down. What is most precious in us never shows itself, never finds an issue even in the closest intimacy. Only a part of it reaches our consciousness, it scarcely enters into action except in prayer, and is perhaps only perceived by God, for our past rapidly becomes strange to us. Our monad may be influenced by other monads, but none the less does it remain impenetrable to them in its essence; and we ourselves, when all is said, remain outside our own mystery. The center of our consciousness is unconscious, as the kernel of the sun is dark. All that we are, desire, do, and know, is more or less superficial, and below the rays and lightnings of our periphery there remains the darkness of unfathomable substance.

I was then well-advised when, in my theory of the inner man, I placed at the foundation of the self, after the seven spheres which the self contains had been successively disengaged, a lowest depth of darkness, the abyss of the un-revealed, the virtual pledge of an infinite future, the obscure self, the pure subjectivity which is incapable of realizing itself in mind, conscience, or reason, in the soul, the heart, the imagination, or the life of the senses, and which makes for itself attributes and conditions out of all these forms of its own life.

But the obscure only exists that it may cease to exist. In it lies the opportunity of all victory and all progress. Whether it call itself fatality, death, night, or matter, it is the pedestal of life, of light, of liberty, and the spirit. For it represents resistance --that is to say, the fulcrum of all activity, the occasion for its development and its triumph.

October 27

October 27, 1853.--I thank Thee, my God, for the hour that I have just passed in Thy presence. Thy will was clear to me; I measured my faults, counted my griefs, and felt Thy goodness toward me. I realized my own nothingness, Thou gavest me Thy peace. In bitterness there is sweetness; in affliction, joy; in submission, strength; in the God who punishes, the God who loves. To lose one's life that one may gain it, to offer it that one may receive it, to possess nothing that one may conquer all, to renounce self that God may give Himself to us, how impossible a problem, and how sublime a reality! No one truly knows happiness who has not suffered, and the redeemed are happier than the elect.

(Same day.)--The divine miracle par excellence consists surely in the apotheosis of grief, the transfiguration of evil by good. The work of creation finds its consummation, and the eternal will of the infinite mercy finds its fulfillment only in the restoration of the free creature to God and of an evil world to goodness, through love. Every soul in which conversion has taken place is a symbol of the history of the world. To be happy, to possess eternal life, to be in God, to be saved, all these are the same. All alike mean the solution of the problem, the aim of existence. And happiness is cumulative, as misery may be. An eternal growth is an unchangeable peace, an ever profounder depth of apprehension, a possession constantly more intense and more spiritual of the joy of heaven--this is happiness. Happiness has no limits, because God has neither bottom nor bounds, and because happiness is nothing but the conquest of God through love.

The center of life is neither in thought nor in feeling, nor in will, nor even in consciousness, so far as it thinks, feels, or wishes. For moral truth may have been penetrated and possessed in all these ways, and escape us still. Deeper even than consciousness there is our being itself, our very substance, our nature. Only those truths which have entered into this last region, which have become ourselves, become spontaneous and involuntary, instinctive and unconscious, are really our life--that is to say something more than our property. So long as we are able to distinguish any space whatever between the truth and us we remain outside it. The thought, the feeling, the desire, the consciousness of life, are not yet quite life. But peace and repose can nowhere be found except in life, and in eternal life and the eternal life is the divine life, is God. To become divine is then the aim of life: then only can truth be said to be ours beyond the possibility of loss, because it is no longer outside us, nor even in us, but we are it, and it is we; we ourselves are a truth, a will, a work of God. Liberty has become nature; the creature is one with its creator--one through love. It is what it ought to be; its education is finished, and its final happiness begins. The sun of time declines and the light of eternal blessedness arises.

Our fleshly hearts may call this mysticism. It is the mysticism of Jesus: "I am one with my Father; ye shall be one with me. We will be one with you."

Do not despise your situation; in it you must act, suffer, and conquer. From every point on earth we are equally near to heaven and to the infinite.

There are two states or conditions of pride. The first is one of self-approval, the second one of self-contempt. Pride is seen probably at its purest in the last.

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It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.

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*

La Madeleine, Oct. 27, 1881

What might, possibly, be done in a moment of triumph,[142 ] would be desertion and disaster to the party at any other moment. Nobody can hope that next Easter, or for a couple of years, we can be altogether crowned with laurel. In the presence of Mr. Gladstone himself the Tories are recovering spirits. They would take a leap forward if Achilles was safe in his tent.

That is so clear to any one looking below the surface that it suggests another objection—there might be an appearance of retreat at the first turning of the tide, of an inclination to escape, individually, from a prospect of losing battles and declining prosperity, and to leave others to face the renewal of disintegration and reaction, such as we saw in 1873. I know that this is not a consideration where duty is visibly concerned; but it is a valid consideration where policy is concerned. And it must be remembered that he may resign office but cannot abandon power.

Herbert's constituents[144 ] were probably more deeply impressed than I was by the repeated, but too suggestive, eulogy on Hartington and Lord Granville. Has Mr. Gladstone fairly faced the question, What will the party do without him? I may quote my own sentiment, because I grew up among Russells, Ellices, Byngs; and though I am very suspicious of early impressions and of doctrines unaccounted for, I know I am much more favourable to the great Whig connection, to the tradition of Locke and Somers, Adam Smith and Burke and Macaulay, than Mr. Gladstone would like. Yet it would seem dust and ashes, but for him.... The idea that politics is an affair of principle, that it is an affair of morality, that it touches eternal interests as much as vices and virtues do in private life, that idea will not live in the party. Indeed it is already overshadowed by the Beaconsfield monument, described by that prophet, Pope.[145 ]

Besides, the party would become unable, from internal divisions, to govern the country. I take the letter to be a recognition of the fact that the P.M. ought to be in the House of Commons. In that case it is on the cards that Lord Granville would retire at the same time. Where should we be in the Lords, if neither Argyll, nor Derby, nor Lord G. sat on the Treasury Bench; if Northbrook, Carlingford, and Kimberley were left to face Salisbury and Cairns? And then, if Selborne resigns the woolsack, and it becomes necessary to choose a Chancellor for his debating power? The future is as gloomy in the Commons with Bright and your father away, Goschen out of office, Hartington liable, any day, to leave it. In both cases we come to the level of mediocrity; we depend on the second rank....

The new constituency gives increased weight to the Democratic leaders, and it will be impossible for the Whigs to control them or to do without them. They will force their programme on the party by keeping it out of office until they prevail. This must come sooner or later. But Mr. Gladstone ought not to retire until he has provided for the future of the party he has remodelled. With respect to persons, if he does not bring Derby and Goschen in, nobody else can. As to Goschen—whose position will be a considerable one, as the best financier of the party, afterwards—it has been unfortunate that the overtures were not made by the P.M. himself. They would have been far more flattering; probably also more clear and definite. The measure[146 ] he objects to is considerably postponed. The way is crowded with bills on which he agrees with ministers.

As to Derby, I hope to learn all about your visit,[147 ] how you get on with her, and whether you all took care to acknowledge her good influence and services. There will never be any great intimacy between him and your father. But, in his proper place, he could be made very useful.

There is something graver than the question of persons. There is his own Church policy, the Eastern—especially Egyptian and Armenian question, the decentralisation of H. of Commons business, redistribution of seats, and ever so much more. I should like him to see more of the Prince of Wales,[148 ] that something of his influence should survive in the Royal Family. And his present power is such that there will be a real failure in his career if he retires without employing it to secure the future of the party. It would be wasting or burying the fortune of Rothschild, the most enormous capital ever collected in one hand.

The resistance to G. Eliot, the preference for Scott, the desire to confide in ——, are all one and the same thing: idealism. When Disraeli sat down exclaiming, "The time will come when you will hear me," his neighbour slapped him on the back and said, "So they will." That encouraging neighbour was ——. He can never take to a man of strong principle and purpose. He is little better than a vague Jingo: and he is the most indiscreet, and not the most accurate of men. To trust him with such a secret is like rejecting G. Eliot as cynical, gloomy, and uncharitable in her views of life. A man can be trusted only up to low-water mark. There is just one thing on which the P.M. is wilfully a little superficial!

Private Secretaries have no time for letters of their own; otherwise I think with pleasure of your new occupation. Don't let it tire you. In many ways it will interest you; and J. S. Mill would highly have approved of it, as portending an end to the subjection of women.

Please let me beg that you will not read anonymous communications. If you receive any, I think they ought to go to the police. Not, of course, to Mr. Gladstone. What he does not mind himself might worry him being sent to you.

[142 ] Mr. Gladstone's retirement.

[144 ] At Leeds.

[145 ] "Like some tall bully, lifts its head and lies."

[146 ] The County Franchise Bill.

[147 ] To Knowsley.

[148 ] The King.