September 1

September 1, 1862

A rumor is afloat that we leave here soon. The 128th is about full, and no doubt we will go soon. But often a report is started by some one without the least reason or foundation. They do it I suppose to see how fast a lie will travel. Just the ordinary camp routine is all that came along to-day.

September First

Around me blight, where all before was bloom!
And so much lost! alas! and nothing won;
Save this—that I can lean on wreck and tomb,
And weep—and weeping pray—Thy will be done.
Abram J. Ryan
(The Prayer of the South )

 

General Hood evacuates Atlanta, 1864

 

 

This is the anniversary of our muster into the U. S. service at Brattleboro, Vt., 1862. Thus far, as a regiment, we have been prospered. God grant that we may continue to be, and that as many as is consistent with His will, may be allowed to pass one more year if necessary in the service, and then be returned home happy, feeling that we have endeavored to do our duty as soldiers faithfully to our country and our God; have completed two more rolls; shall try and finish the other in the morning; all's quiet in front.

Tuesday, September 1st.—No orders yet, so we are still waiting, packed up.

Went with one of the regulars to-day to see the big hospital ship Asturias  with 3000 beds, and also to see Sister —— at the No.— Maritime Hospital. They've been very busy there dressing the wounded for the ship. Colonel —— brought us back in his motor, and met the Consul-General on the way, who told us K. came through to-day off a cruiser, and was taken on to Paris in a motor. Smiles of relief from every one. One of the Sisters had heard from her mother in Scotland that she had five Russian officers billeted! They are said to be on their way through from Archangel.

Troopships full of French and English troops are leaving Havre every day, for Belgium.

Wouldn't you like to be under the table when K. and J. and F. are poring over their maps to-night?

September 1, 1863

Baton Rouge, La. We are waiting for a boat to come along and take us to New Orleans. Our commissions came and were passed around last night. We each got one and I suppose will get pay accordingly. Bostwick is colonel; Captain Parker lieutenant colonel; Lieutenant Palon is major; Dick Enoch is a captain; Charlie Heath, Garret Dillon, Rube Reynolds, Charlie Bell, Mart Smith, Sol Drake and Henry Lay are first lieutenants; Jacob Ames, John Keys, George Culver, Charlie Wilson, Wm. Platto and Lawrence Van Alstyne are second lieutenants. I may wish myself back looking after the fodder of Company B, but so far my only regret is leaving the boys. We have seen good times together and times not so good, but we have hung together through it all like so many brothers. But every day brings something new to think of, and the day before is soon forgotten.

Sundown. On board a steamer called the Exact. She lies at the dock, and is taking on the First Vermont Battery. They are the fellows that we supported when posted in the woods on the center at Port Hudson. They don't know any better than we do what is before them. With good luck loading, and no accident going down, we ought to see New Orleans by morning.

207. John Adams

Philadelphia, Monday, 1 September, 1777.

We have now run through the summer, and although the weather is still warm, the fiercest of the heat is over. And although the extreme intemperance of the late season has weakened and exhausted me much, yet I think, upon the whole, I have got through it as well as upon any former occasion.

A letter from General Washington, dated Saturday, informs that our light parties have brought in four-and-twenty prisoners more. So that the prisoners and deserters since Mr. Howe landed are near a hundred. The question now is, whether there will be a general engagement. In the first place, I think after all that has passed, it is not good policy for us to attack them, unless we can get a favorable advantage of them in the situation of the ground, or an opportunity to attack a detachment of their army with superior numbers. It would be imprudent, perhaps, for us with our whole force to attack them with all theirs.

But another question arises, whether Mr. Howe will not be able to compel us to a general engagement. Perhaps he may; but I make a question of it. Washington will manœuvre it with him a good deal to avoid it. A general engagement, in which Howe should be defeated, would be ruin to him. If we should be defeated, his army would be crippled, and perhaps we might suddenly reinforce our army, which he could not. However, all that he could gain by a victory would be the possession of this town, which would be the worst situation he could be in, because it would employ his whole force by sea and land to keep it and the command of the river.

Their principal dependence is not upon their arms, I believe, so much as upon the failure of our revenue. They think they have taken such measures, by circulating counterfeit bills, to depreciate the currency, that it cannot hold its credit longer than this campaign. But they are mistaken.

We, however, must disappoint them by renouncing all luxuries, and by a severe economy. General Washington sets a fine example. He has banished wine from his table, and entertains his friends with rum and water. This is much to the honor of his wisdom, his policy, and his patriotism. And the example must be followed by banishing sugar and all imported articles from our families. If necessity should reduce us to a simplicity of dress and diet becoming republicans, it would be a happy and glorious necessity.

Yours, yours, yours.

September 1

September 1, 1875.--I have been working for some hours at my article on Mme. de Staël, but with what labor, what painful effort! When I write for publication every word is misery, and my pen stumbles at every line, so anxious am I to find the ideally best expression, and so great is the number of possibilities which open before me at every step.

Composition demands a concentration, decision, and pliancy which I no longer possess. I cannot fuse together materials and ideas. If we are to give anything a form, we must, so to speak, be the tyrants of it. [Footnote: Compare this paragraph from the "Pensées of a new writer, M. Joseph Roux, a country curé, living in a remote part of the Bas Limousin, whose thoughts have been edited and published this year by M. Paul Mariéton (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre):

"Le verbe ne souffre et ne connait que la volonté qui le dompte, et n'emporte loin sans péril que l'intelligence qui lui ménage avec empire l'éperon et le frein."]

We must treat our subject brutally, and not be always trembling lest we are doing it a wrong. We must be able to transmute and absorb it into our own substance. This sort of confident effrontery is beyond me: my whole nature tends to that impersonality which respects and subordinates itself to the object; it is love of truth which holds me back from concluding and deciding. And then I am always retracing my steps: instead of going forward I work in a circle: I am afraid of having forgotten a point, of having exaggerated an expression, of having used a word out of place, while all the time I ought to have been thinking of essentials and aiming at breadth of treatment. I do not know how to sacrifice anything, how to give up anything whatever. Hurtful timidity, unprofitable conscientiousness, fatal slavery to detail!

In reality I have never given much thought to the art of writing, to the best way of making an article, an essay, a book, nor have I ever methodically undergone the writer's apprenticeship; it would have been useful to me, and I was always ashamed of what was useful. I have felt, as it were, a scruple against trying to surprise the secret of the masters of literature, against picking chef-d'oeuvres to pieces. When I think that I have always postponed the serious study of the art of writing, from a sort of awe of it, and a secret love of its beauty, I am furious with my own stupidity, and with my own respect. Practice and routine would have given me that ease, lightness, and assurance, without which the natural gift and impulse dies away. But on the contrary, I have developed two opposed habits of mind, the habit of scientific analysis which exhausts the material offered to it, and the habit of immediate notation of passing impressions. The art of composition lies between the two; you want for it both the living unity of the thing and the sustained operation of thought.

September 1

September 1, 1874. (Clarens ).--On waking it seemed to me that I was staring into the future with wide startled eyes. Is it indeed to me that these things apply. [Footnote: Amiel had just received at the hands of his doctor the medical verdict, which was his arrêt de mort.] Incessant and growing humiliation, my slavery becoming heavier, my circle of action steadily narrower!... What is hateful in my situation is that deliverance can never be hoped for, and that one misery will succeed another in such a way as to leave me no breathing space, not even in the future, not even in hope. All possibilities are closed to me, one by one. It is difficult for the natural man to escape from a dumb rage against inevitable agony.

Noon.--An indifferent nature? A Satanic principle of things? A good and just God? Three points of view. The second is improbable and horrible. The first appeals to our stoicism. My organic combination has never been anything but mediocre; it has lasted as long as it could. Every man has his turn, and all must submit. To die quickly is a privilege; I shall die by inches. Well, submit. Rebellion would be useless and senseless. After all, I belong to the better-endowed half of human-kind, and my lot is superior to the average.

But the third point of view alone can give joy. Only is it tenable? Is there a particular Providence directing all the circumstances of our life, and therefore imposing all our trials upon us for educational ends? Is this heroic faith compatible with our actual knowledge of the laws of nature? Scarcely; But what this faith makes objective we may hold as subjective truth. The moral being may moralize his sufferings by using natural facts for his own inner education. What he cannot change he calls the will of God, and to will what God wills brings him peace.

To nature both our continued existence and our morality are equally indifferent. But God, on the other hand, if God is, desires our sanctification; and if suffering purifies us, then we may console ourselves or suffering. This is what makes the great advantage of the Christian faith; it is the triumph over pain, the victory over death. There is but one thing necessary--death unto sin, the immolation of our selfish will, the filial sacrifice of our desires. Evil consists in living for self --that is to say, for one's own vanity, pride, sensuality, or even health. Righteousness consists in willingly accepting one's lot, in submitting to, and espousing the destiny assigned us, in willing what God commands, in renouncing what he forbids us, in consenting to what he takes from us or refuses us.

In my own particular case, what has been taken from me is health--that is to say, the surest basis of all independence; but friendship and material comfort are still left to me; I am neither called upon to bear the slavery of poverty nor the hell of absolute isolation.

Health cut off, means marriage, travel, study, and work forbidden or endangered. It means life reduced in attractiveness and utility by five-sixths.

Thy will be done!

Hotel Klinger Marienbad Sept. 1, 1883

... Here, at last, I am resting from hard times at Marienbad, where the waters get into one's head, as my letter will probably show. You insist on my recording everything on which you will disagree, so I must say that I should have voted more in royal than episcopal company.[201 ] In our Church and in the countries I have lived in much, one is so accustomed to those marriages that one does not think of a law to prevent them. Then as to Egypt, I was not orthodox as to the policy of the argument in favour of Lesseps, but vehemently comforted by the line taken, to make no sordid profit out of our military position, and to resist every entanglement that would indefinitely prolong the occupation. When I consider that our presence there should be the pivot for the settlement of the Eastern question, and the means of civilising Africa, I can see so much to dazzle ambitious politicians that I fear no Minister but one will ever be strong enough—in ascendency as well as in moral power—to evacuate, and I complacently take note of that additional steam to my propeller, whenever the question of retirement stirs again; and my third heresy is about the Pope. His declaration was concerted, I suppose, to hit some of the clergy between wind and water, and so had a political, not a moral aim. We may get embarrassed if we prompt and promote the political influence of the Pope, whose principles are necessarily, whose interests are generally, opposed to our own. It is as dangerous for us that his political authority should be obeyed in Irish confessionals as that, in this instance, it should be defied. Having morally supported the movement which upset his sovereignty, being prepared to oppose any movement to restore it, we come with a bad grace to ask him to prop and protect our authority in our dominions. Long ago I remember writing to headquarters that it would become impossible—impossible for Liberals—to govern Ireland after the Council; and although I am avowedly the worst of prophets, this prophecy has had a good deal of confirmation. It was an interesting question whether the Pope would definitely and unconditionally condemn murder, whether from religious or political motives. It would have borne untold consequences, as a direct revocation of the Vatican system, which stands or falls with the doctrine that one may murder a Protestant. But I don't believe that so audacious a change of front would have moved a single priest in Ireland.

Of George,[202 ] in the sixpenny edition, I had a glimpse at Cannes. The better part of him, with more moderation and philosophy, and a wider induction, may be found in the writings of the academic Socialists, who, in the last ten years, have occupied almost all the Chairs of Germany, and who have been the warmest admirers of the Irish policy.

One can hardly congratulate you ... about St. Peter's.[203 ] At Montreux I met a newly-married young clergyman whose ugliness almost made me take him for ——, and who assured me that it was offered to Holland. The dean of St. Paul's[204 ] was at Munich the other day, and delighted Döllinger, who believes, in consequence, that a more mischievous fellow than Chamberlain does not eat bread. He also sent him, and enabled me to read, Mozley's washy "Recollections." Liddon, I see, is busy with Rosmini, in the intervals of Pusey.[205 ] Rosmini will interest you if the book ripens. He had much of Newman, and nearly reformed the papacy. But I am troubled with a doubt. His book was answered, by Passaglia, Thenier, Curci, and others, and it was condemned by the Index. Rosmini wrote a long and curious defence of it, which he printed, but did not publish, so as not to defy his censors. Liddon ought to have this defence before him, to strengthen his text withal. Perhaps Lockhart, and the other English Rosminians, may scruple to give it to him, lest they break the measured silence of their chief. It may be worth while to ask the eloquent and impulsive Canon, whenever you see him, whether he knows of it. Do let me thank you warmly for speaking of me to Mrs. Craven. She was almost my earliest friend, and I am shocked to think that I seemed unfaithful to memories forty years old. She was intimate with my mother before I was born. What does it matter that she also bores me a good deal by her restlessness, her curiosity and indiscretion, her want of serenity, &c.? I always liked her in spite of it, and she was always a great, but uncomfortable, admirer of Mr. Gladstone. Not so Waddington. You must have seen at once that he is a very estimable, solid, deeply religious man. There is hardly so great a scholar in France, and I think he is the only Frenchman before whom Mommsen has retracted a statement. That indeed is his proper line. Like George Lewis, he is really happiest among his coins and inscriptions, and was never made for the active life in which his high character, his knowledge, and now his willingness to serve a party not his own, have carried him so far. He has more caution than go, and has neither eloquence, nor influence over men. Above all things, he is cautious to do nothing that would enable adversaries to accuse his patriotism. His language about Egypt, and the future of France in the East, would seem exaggerated, but I dare say you have read "Memories of Old Friends," a book meant for invalids at Bohemian wells, and curiously displaying English minds as they were about 1840. In the second edition Mill's letters are appended, in one of which he describes Tocqueville's opinion that one must not lower national pride, "almost the only elevated sentiment that remains in considerable strength." Waddington might adopt those words with even greater justice now. He once befriended me, so that I am bound to speak up for him. We had met but once, at the Embassy, when he asked me to dinner, and arranged that I should meet, besides Lyons, Wimpfen and Hohenlohe, whom he knew to be old friends of mine, Louis Arco, and the three most learned men in Paris, and then he gave me his box at the Français. But whilst I testify what a good fellow he is, it is necessary, highly necessary, to add that he is not a friend of Mr. Gladstone. That class of scholars to which he belongs, men busy with inscriptions, ruins, medals, vases, contriving thereby to amend a text or fix a date, inevitably resent the spirit in which Mr. Gladstone studies antiquity, carrying with him emotions and ideals derived from elsewhere, and considerably disturbing accepted habits and conclusions. Then it is very hard for an extra patriotic Frenchman to see with patience a powerful government that does not always use its strength, that accepts rebuke and repulse, and is ready to draw in the outposts of the empire. Whatever the true cause, I am pretty sure of the fact that he will come to Hawarden, like Ruskin, curious to probe the great Gladstonian mystery, not favourably prepossessed. I hope you will have him soon, and deal justly with him.

When you sit down to Macaulay, remember that the Essays are really flashy and superficial. He was not above par in literary criticism; his Indian articles will not hold water; and his two most famous reviews, on Bacon and Ranke, show his incompetence. The essays are only pleasant reading, and a key to half the prejudices of our age. It is the History (with one or two speeches) that is wonderful. He knew nothing respectably before the seventeenth century, he knew nothing of foreign history, of religion, philosophy, science, or art. His account of debates has been thrown into the shade by Ranke, his account of diplomatic affairs, by Klopp. He is, I am persuaded, grossly, basely unfair. Read him therefore to find out how it comes that the most unsympathetic of critics can think him very nearly the greatest of English writers.

My good friend Bright[206 ] got me into controversy by sending me Beard's "Hibbert Lectures," on the Reformation. There was a great deal to say, with the usual result; but you would think them interesting as a stimulant. Have I ever told you that I have read the Diaries, letters, &c., of G. Eliot? Cross wants me to review them in the Nineteenth Century, or at least wanted; but I know not where he is, or whether he still wishes it.

I always see Miss Helen Gladstone in the papers, and suppose she is with you. I don't know whether Miss Renouf is in her house.[207 ] She is a sort of god-child of mine, and her father is, without exception, the most learned Englishman I know. The daughter of such a man should be something unusual; the mother, too, is of a clever family, a Brentano.

Lady Blennerhassett gave me some accounts of you at Holmbury. Minghetti, whom I saw lately, tells me that our friend Bonghi has a Roman History in the press, which the Italians hope to set up against Mommsen. I forgot, to complete my confession, that I have never been happy about our policy with Cetewayo. But the general result of the session cannot be lamented, only it is not heroic success, such as Mr. Gladstone's supremacy and the flatness of the Opposition would demand. The great thing is his health. I did not come over, not being once summoned, so that we shall only meet at Cannes. Do talk about plans. Can there be anything before Cannes? It can never be too soon to meet.


[201 ] On the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill.

[202 ] Henry George, author of "Progress and Poverty."

[203 ] Eaton Square.

[204 ] R. W. Church.

[205 ] Liddon translated Rosmini's "Five Wounds of the Church."

[206 ] The Master of University.

[207 ] At Cambridge.