September 20

September 20

September 20, 1864.--Read Eugénie de Guérin's volume again right and left with a growing sense of attraction. Everything is heart, force, impulse, in these pages which have the power of sincerity and a brilliance of suffused poetry. A great and strong soul, a clear mind, distinction, elevation, the freedom of unconscious talent, reserve and depth--nothing is wanting for this Sévigné of the fields, who has to hold herself in with both hands lest she should write verse, so strong in her is the artistic impulse.

22. John Adams

Philadelphia, 20 September, 1774.

I am very well yet. Write to me as often as you can, and send your letters to the office in Boston, or to Mr. Cranch's, whence they will be sent by the first conveyance.

I am anxious to know how you can live without Government. But the experiment must be tried. The evils will not be found so dreadful as you apprehend them. Frugality, my dear, frugality, economy, parsimony, must be our refuge. I hope the ladies are every day diminishing their ornaments, and the gentlemen, too. Let us eat potatoes and drink water; let us wear canvas, and undressed sheepskins, rather than submit to the unrighteous and ignominious domination that is prepared for us.

Tell Brackett I shall make him leave off drinking rum. We can't let him fight yet. My love to my dear ones.

Adieu.

September Twentieth

Judged by percentage in killed and wounded, Chickamauga nearly doubled the sanguinary records of Marengo and Austerlitz; was two and a half times heavier than that sustained by the Duke of Marlborough at Malplaquet; more than double that suffered by the army under Henry of Navarre in the terrific slaughter at Coutras; nearly three times as heavy as the percentage of loss at Solferino and Magenta; five times greater than that of Napoleon at Wagram, and about ten times as heavy as that of Marshall Saxe at Bloody Raucoux.... Or, if we take the average percentage of loss in a number of the world's great battles—Waterloo, Wagram, Valmy, Magenta, Solferino, Zurich, and Lodi—we shall find by comparison that Chickamauga's record of blood surpassed them nearly three for one.

General John B. Gordon

 

Second day at Chickamauga, 1863

 

 

My wounds were very painful during the night, my lips and face are terribly swollen and my jaws are in shocking condition, but I'm thankful it is no worse. My side and chest are very lame, but I hope it is nothing more serious than a bruise or contusion. Lieut. Hill has had his leg amputated, but I don't think he can live, the stump is so short—poor, brave, gallant, natty Hill with the most of life before him. Sheridan's loss was 5018 of which 4300 were killed and wounded. Early's loss was about the same. About 850 of his wounded fell into our hands. Our division lost 600 in killed and wounded and seventeen are missing, more than both of the other two divisions of our corps together. Our regiment lost twelve killed and forty-six wounded. Sheridan captured two thousand prisoners, five pieces of artillery and nine battle flags. Generals Rhodes and Godwin of Kershaw's Division were killed, and General York lost an arm. I saw Major Dillingham at a distance as he lay stricken, when I entered the hospital grounds yesterday. He was no shirk in battle but valiant. We feel like sparing him least of any, and had not looked for it, therefore it is a great shock. Only a moment before the order to advance he was talking with several officers near me and was in the best of spirits which, it occurred to me at the time, greatly contrasted with my feeling for I never dreaded more to go into battle. I was greatly but silently depressed.

September 20

September 20, 1866.--My old friends are, I am afraid, disappointed in me; they think that I do nothing, that I have deceived their expectations and their hopes. I, too, am disappointed. All that would restore my self-respect and give me a right to be proud of myself, seems to me unattainable and impossible, and I fall back upon trivialities, gay talk, distractions. I am always equally lacking in hope, in faith, in resolution. The only difference is that my weakness takes sometimes the form of despairing melancholy and sometimes that of a cheerful quietism. And yet I read, I talk, I teach, I write, but to no effect; it is as though I were walking in my sleep. The Buddhist tendency in me blunts the faculty of free self-government and weakens the power of action; self-distrust kills all desire, and reduces me again and again to a fundamental skepticism. I care for nothing but the serious and the real, and I can take neither myself nor my circumstances seriously. I hold my own personality, my own aptitudes, my own aspirations, too cheap. I am forever making light of myself in the name of all that is beautiful and admirable. In a word, I bear within me a perpetual self-detractor, and this is what takes all spring out of my life. I have been passing the evening with Charles Heim, who, in his sincerity, has never paid me any literary compliment. As I love and respect him, he is forgiven. Self-love has nothing to do with it--and yet it would be sweet to be praised by so upright a friend! It is depressing to feel one's self silently disapproved of; I will try to satisfy him, and to think of a book which may please both him and Scherer.

September 20, 1862

In spite of the fact that we are sumptuously fed, I have long longed for a good square meal off a clean table. This morning, early, I sneaked away to a farm house I had often looked at, and wondered if the people there would contract to fill me up for such a consideration as I could afford. I told them I was not begging, but would like to buy a breakfast. The lady was willing, and I was soon sitting in a chair at a clean table with a clean table-cloth and clean dishes on it. And such a breakfast! I forgot who or where I was. The smell of the victuals made me ravenous, and I ate until I could eat no more. They were pleasant people and seemed to enjoy seeing me eat. I felt guilty because I had not asked my friends to go with me, but I wanted first to investigate on my own hook, for I was not at all sure of getting anything when I set out, in which case I was going back to camp in time for breakfast, and say nothing about it. But when the hostess would not take anything for the hearty meal I had eaten, I was glad I had not brought my family with me. I gave them my heartiest thanks and returned to camp to find Company B getting ready for picket duty, and I was soon in my place ready for anything.

10 a. m. We are about six miles from Camp Millington, at a village called Catonsville. That is, the company is broken up into squads, and the one I am with is here, and in my charge as corporal. I am to keep one man on post and change him for another every two hours. Not a very hard job for any of us. The people seem very pleasant, and as the day is not very hot we are simply having a picnic. We are to pick up travelers who cannot give a good account of themselves and hold them until the officer of the guard comes round, and let him decide what to do with them. Coming here we passed Louden Park Cemetery, a beautiful place, and the largest of its kind I ever saw. Shade trees all over it, great fine monuments and vaults as large as small houses. I guess only rich people are buried there, for I saw no common headstones. But then I suppose we only saw a part of it, and the best part at that.

Night. The day has passed quietly. Nothing startling happened. The people have treated us royally, gave us all the peaches we could eat, and also gave us the credit of being the best behaved of any detail that has been here.

9 p. m. Some firing was heard on the post next ours, and which is the farthest out of any. I went out to learn what it meant. It seems a man came along and when halted, jumped the fence and ran for a piece of woods near by. Mike Sullivan started out to capture him. They shot at each other, but the man got away. Mike got a lot of slivers stuck in his face by a bullet hitting a post he was passing as the shot was fired. This is the only excitement we have had up to this time, midnight.

Sunday, September 20th.—Began with early service at the Jesuit School Hospital at 6.30, and the rest of the day one will never forget. The fighting for these concrete entrenched positions of the Germans behind Rheims has been so terrific since last Sunday that the number of casualties has been enormous. Three trains full of wounded, numbering altogether 1175 cases, have been dressed at the station to-day; we were sent down at 11 this morning. The train I was put to had 510 cases. You boarded a cattle-truck, armed with a tray of dressings and a pail; the men were lying on straw; had been in trains for several days; most had only been dressed once, and many were gangrenous. If you found one urgently needed amputation or operation, or was likely to die, you called an M.O. to have him taken off the train for Hospital. No one grumbled or made any fuss. Then you joined the throng in the dressing-station, and for hours doctors of all ranks, Sisters and orderlies, grappled with the stream of stretchers, and limping, staggering, bearded, dirty, fagged men, and ticketed them off for the motor ambulances to the Hospitals, or back to the train, after dressing them. The platform was soon packed with stretchers with all the bad cases waiting patiently to be taken to Hospital. We cut off the silk vest of a dirty, brigandish-looking officer, nearly finished with a wound through his lung. The Black Watch and Camerons were almost unrecognisable in their rags. The staple dressing is tincture of iodine; you don't attempt anything but swabbing with lysol, and then gauze dipped in iodine. They were nearly all shrapnel shell wounds—more ghastly than anything I have ever seen or smelt; the Mauser wounds of the Boer War were pin-pricks compared with them. There was also a huge train of French wounded being dressed on the other side of the station, including lots of weird, gaily-bedecked Zouaves.

There was no real confusion about the whole day, owing to the good organising of the No.— Clearing Hospital people who run it. Every man was fed, and dressed and sorted. They'll have a heavy time at the two hospitals to-night with the cases sent up from the trains.

M. and I are now—9 p.m.—in charge of a train of 141 (with an M.O. and two orderlies) for St Nazaire; we jump out at the stations and see to them, and the orderlies and the people on the stations feed them: we have the worst cases next to us. We may get there some time to-morrow morning, and when they are taken off, we train back, arriving probably on Wednesday at Le Mans. The lot on this train are the best leavings of to-day's trains,—a marvellously cheery lot, munching bread and jam and their small share of hot tea, and blankets have just been issued. We ourselves have a rug, and a ration of bread, tea, and jam; we had dinner on the station.

When I think of your Red Cross practices on boy scouts, and the grim reality, it makes one wonder. And the biggest wonder of it all is the grit there is in them, and the price they are individually and unquestioningly paying for doing their bit in this War.

212. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 20 September, 1777.

I sit down this evening to write you, but I hardly know what to think about your going to New York. The story has been told so many times, and with circumstances so particular, that I with others have given some heed to it, though my not hearing anything of it from you leaves me at a loss.

Yours of September 4 came to hand last night. Our worthy uncle is a constant attendant upon the post-office for me, and brought it me. Yours of September 5 came to-night to Braintree, and was left as directed with the canister. I am sorry you gave yourself so much trouble about it. I got about half you sent me by Mr. Gerry. Am much obliged to you, and hope to have the pleasure of making the greater part of it for you. Your letter damped my spirits. When I had no expectation of your return till December, I endeavored to bring my mind to acquiesce in the too painful situation. I have reckoned the days since Bass went away a hundred times over, and every letter expected to find the day set for your return.

But now I fear it is far distant. I have frequently been told that the communication would be cut off, and that you would not be able ever to return. Sometimes I have been told so by those who really wished it might be so, with malicious pleasure. Sometimes your timid folks have apprehended that it would be so. I wish anything would bring you nearer. If there is really any danger I should think you would remove. It is a plan your enemies would rejoice to see accomplished, and will effect if it lies in their power. I am not apt to be intimidated, you know. I have given as little heed to that, and a thousand other bugbear reports, as possible. I have slept as soundly since my return, notwithstanding all the ghosts and hobgoblins, as ever I did in my life. It is true I never close my eyes at night till I have been to Philadelphia, and my first visit in the morning is there.

How unfeeling is the world! They tell me they heard you was dead with as little sensibility as a stock or a stone; and I have now got to be provoked at it, and can hardly help snubbing the person who tells me so.

The story of your being upon this conference at New York came in a letter, as I am told, from R. T. P. to his brother-in-law G——fe. Many, very many have been the conjectures of the multitude upon it. Some have supposed the war concluded, the nation settled. Others an exchange of prisoners. Others, a reconciliation with Britain, etc., etc.

I cannot consent to your tarrying much longer. I know your health must greatly suffer from so constant application to business, and so little exercise. Besides, I shall send you word by and by, as Regulus's steward did, that whilst you are engaged in the Senate, your own domestic affairs require your presence at home; and that your wife and children are in danger of wanting bread. If the Senate of America will take care of us, as the Senate of Rome did of the family of Regulus, you may serve them again; but unless you return, what little property you possess will be lost....

As to what is here under my more immediate inspection, I do the best I can with it. But it will not, at the high price labor is, pay its way. I know the weight of public cares lie so heavy upon you that I have been loath to mention your own private ones.

The best accounts we can collect from New York, assure us that our men fought valiantly. We are no wise dispirited here. We possess a spirit that will not be conquered. If our men are all drawn off and we should be attacked, you would find a race of Amazons in America. But I trust we shall yet tread down our enemies.

I must entreat you to remember me often. I never think your letters half long enough. I do not complain. I have no reason to. No one can boast of more letters than your

Portia.

September 20

September 20th.--To be witty is to satisfy another's wits by the bestowal on him of two pleasures, that of understanding one thing and that of guessing another, and so achieving a double stroke.

Thus Doudan scarcely ever speaks out his thought directly; he disguises and suggests it by imagery, allusion, hyperbole; he overlays it with light irony and feigned anger, with gentle mischief and assumed humility. The more the thing to be guessed differs from the thing said, the more pleasant surprise there is for the interlocutor or the correspondent concerned. These charming and delicate ways of expression allow a man to teach what he will without pedantry, and to venture what he will without offense. There is something Attic and aerial in them; they mingle grave and gay, fiction and truth, with a light grace of touch such as neither La Fontaine nor Alcibiades would have been ashamed of. Socratic badinage like this presupposes a free and equal mind, victorious over physical ill and inward discontents. Such delicate playfulness is the exclusive heritage of those rare natures in whom subtlety is the disguise of superiority, and taste its revelation. "What balance of faculties and cultivation it requires! What personal distinction it shows! Perhaps only a valetudinarian would have been capable of this morbidezza of touch, this marriage of virile thought and feminine caprice. If there is excess anywhere, it lies perhaps in a certain effeminacy of sentiment. Doudan can put up with nothing but what is perfect--nothing but what is absolutely harmonious; all that is rough, harsh, powerful, brutal, and unexpected, throws him into convulsions. Audacity--boldness of all kinds--repels him. This Athenian of the Roman time is a true disciple of Epicurus in all matters of sight, hearing, and intelligence--a crumpled rose-leaf disturbs him.

"Une ombre, un souffle, un rien, tout lui donnait la fièvre."

What all this softness wants is strength, creative and muscular force. His range is not as wide as I thought it at first. The classical world and the Renaissance--that is to say, the horizon of La Fontaine--is his horizon. He is out of his element in the German or Slav literatures. He knows nothing of Asia. Humanity for him is not much larger than France, and he has never made a bible of Nature. In music and painting he is more or less exclusive. In philosophy he stops at Kant. To sum up: he is a man of exquisite and ingenious taste, but he is not a first-rate critic, still less a poet, philosopher, or artist. He was an admirable talker, a delightful letter writer, who might have become an author had he chosen to concentrate himself. I must wait for the second volume in order to review and correct this preliminary impression.

Midday.--I have now gone once more through the whole volume, lingering over the Attic charm of it, and meditating on the originality and distinction of the man's organization. Doudan was a keen penetrating psychologist, a diviner of aptitudes, a trainer of minds, a man of infinite taste and talent, capable of every nuance and of every delicacy; but his defect was a want of persevering energy of thought, a lack of patience in execution. Timidity, unworldliness, indolence, indifference, confined him to the role of the literary counsellor and made him judge of the field in which he ought rather to have fought. But do I mean to blame him?--no indeed! In the first place, it would be to fire on my allies; in the second, very likely he chose the better part.

Was it not Goethe who remarked that in the neighborhood of all famous men we find men who never achieve fame, and yet were esteemed by those who did, as their equals or superiors? Descartes, I think, said the same thing. Fame will not run after the men who are afraid of her. She makes mock of those trembling and respectful lovers who deserve but cannot force her favors. The public is won by the bold, imperious talents--by the enterprising and the skillful. It does not believe in modesty, which it regards as a device of impotence. The golden book contains but a section of the true geniuses; it names those only who have taken glory by storm.

With the Raja

[September 20, 1879.]

Try not to laugh, Dear Vanity. I know you don't mean anything by it; but these Indian kings are so sensitive. The other day I was translating to a young Raja what Val Prinsep had said about him in his "Purple India"; he had only said that he was a dissipated young ass and as ugly as a baboon; but the boy was quite hurt and began to cry, and I had to send for the Political Agent to quiet him and put him to sleep. When you consider the matter philosophically there is nothing per se  ridiculous in a Raja. Take a hypothetical case: picture to yourself a Raja who does not get drunk without some good reason, who is not ostentatiously unfaithful to his five-and-twenty queens and his five-and-twenty grand duchesses, who does not festoon his thorax and abdomen with curious cutlery and jewels, who does not paint his face with red ochre, and who sometimes takes a sidelong glance at his affairs, and there is no reason why you should not think of such a one as an Indian king. India is not very fastidious; so long as the Government is satisfied, the people of India do not much care what the Rajas are like. A peasant proprietor said to Mr. Caird and me the other day, "We are poor cultivators; we cannot afford to keep Rajas. The Rajas are for the Lord Sahib."

The young Maharaja of Kuch Parwani assures me that it is not considered the thing for a Raja at the present day to govern. "A really swell Raja amuses himself." One hoards money, another plays at soldiering, a third is horsey, a fourth is amorous, and a fifth gets drunk; at least so Kuch Parwani thinks. Please don't say that I told you this. The Foreign Secretary knows what a high opinion I have of the Rajas, and indeed he often employs me to whitewash them when they get into scrapes. "A little playful, perhaps, but no more loyal Prince in India!" This is the kind of thing I put into the Annual Administration Reports of the Agencies, and I stick to it. Playful no doubt, but a more loyal class than the Rajas there is not in India. They have built their houses of cards on the thin crust of British Rule that now covers the crater, and they are ever ready to pour a pannikin of water into a crack to quench the explosive forces rumbling below.

The amiable chief in whose house I am staying to-day is exceedingly simple in his habits. At an early hour he issues from the zenana and joins two or three of his thakores, or barons, who are on duty at Court, in the morning draught of opium. They sit in a circle, and a servant in the centre goes round and pours the kasumbha [D] out of a brass bowl and through a woollen cloth into their hands, out of which they lap it up. Then a cardamum to take away the acrid after-taste. One hums drowsily two or three bars of an old-world song; another clears his throat and spits; the Chief yawns, and all snap their fingers, to prevent evil spirits skipping into his throat; a late riser joins the circle, and all, except the Chief, give him tazim —that is, rise and salaam; a coarse jest or two, and the party disperses. A crowd of servants swarm round the Chief as he shuffles slowly away. Three or four mace-bearers walk in front shouting, "Raja, Maharaja salaamat ho; niga rakhiyo!" ("Please take notice; to the King, the great King, let there be salutation!") A confidential servant continually leans forward and whispers in his ear; another remains close at hand with a silver tea-pot containing water and wrapped up in a wet cloth to keep it cool; a third constantly whisks a yak's tail over the King's head; a fourth carries my Lord's sword; a fifth his handkerchief; and so on. Where is he going? He dawdles up a narrow staircase, through a dark corridor, down half-a-dozen steep steps, across a courtyard overgrown with weeds, up another staircase, along another passage, and so to a range of heavy quilted red screens that conceal doors leading into the female penetralia. Here we must leave him. Two servants disappear behind the parda  with their master, the others promptly lie down where they are, draw the sheets or blankets which they have been wearing over their faces and feet, and sleep. About noon we see the King again. He is dressed in white flowing robes with a heavy carcanet of emeralds round his neck. His red turban is tied with strings of seed pearls and set off with an aigrette springing from a diamond brooch. He sits on the Royal mattress, the gaddi.[E] A big bolster covered with green velvet supports his back; his sword and shield are gracefully disposed before him. At the corner of the gaddi  sits a little representation of himself in miniature, complete even to the sword and shield. This is his adopted son and heir. For all the queens and all the grand duchesses are childless, and a little kinsman had to be transplanted from a mud village among the cornfields to this dreamland palace to perpetuate the line. On the corners of the carpet on which the gaddi  rests sit thakores of the Royal house, other thakores sit below, right and left, forming two parallel lines, dwindling into sardars, palace officers, and others of lower rank as they recede from the gaddi. Behind the Chief stand the servants with the emblems of royalty—the peacock feathers, the fan, the yak tail, and the umbrella (now furled). The confidential servant is still whispering into the ear of his master from time to time. This is durbar. No one speaks, unless to exchange a languid compliment with the Chief. Presently essence of roses and a compound of areca nut and lime are circulated, then a huge silver pipe is brought in, the Chief takes three long pulls, the thakores on the carpet each take a pull, and the levée breaks up amid profound salaams. After this—dinner, opium, and sleep.

[D: A slightly narcotic mixture .]

[E: Throne .]

In the cool of the evening our King emerges from the palace, and, riding on a prodigiously fat white horse with pink points, proceeds to the place of carousal. A long train of horsemen follow him, and footmen run before with guns in red flannel covers and silver maces, shouting "Raja Maharaja salaamat," &c. The horsemen immediately around him are mounted on well-fed and richly-caparisoned steeds, with all the bravery of cloth-of-gold, yak-tails, silver chains, and strings of shells; behind are troopers in a burlesque of English uniform; and altogether in the rear is a mob of caitiffs on skeleton chargers, masquerading in every degree of shabbiness and rags, down to nakedness and a sword. The cavalcade passes through the city. The inhabitants pour out of every door and bend to the ground. Red cloths and white veils flutter at the casements overhead. You would hardly think that the spectacle was one daily enjoyed by the city. There is all the hurrying and eagerness of novelty and curiosity. Here and there a little shy crowd of women gather at a door and salute the Chief with a loud shrill verse of discordant song. It is some national song of the Chiefs ancestors and of the old heroic days. The place of carousal is a bare spot near a large and ancient well out of which grows a vast pipal tree. Hard by is a little temple surmounted by a red flag on a drooping bamboo. It is here that the Gangôr [F] and Dassahra [F] solemnities are celebrated. Arrived on the ground, the Raja slowly circles his horse; then, jerking the thorn-bit, causes him to advance plunging and rearing, but dropping first on the near foot and then on the off foot with admirable precision; and finally, making the white monster, now in a lather of sweat, rise up and walk a few steps on his hind legs, the Raja's performance concludes amid many shouts of wonder and delight from the smooth-tongued courtiers. The thakores and sardars now exhibit their skill in the manége  until the shades of night fall, when torches are brought, amid much salaaming, and the cavalcade defiles, through the city, back to the palace. Lights are twinkling from the higher casements and reflected on the lake below; the gola [G] slave-girls are singing plaintive songs, drum and conch answer from the open courtyards. The palace is awake. The Raja, we will romantically presume, bounds lightly from his horse and dances gaily to the harem to fling himself voluptuously into the luxurious arms of one of the five-and-twenty queens, or one of the five-and-twenty grand duchesses; and they stand for one delirious moment wreathed in each other's embraces—

        While soft there breathes
      Through the cool casement, mingled with the sighs
      Of moonlight flowers, music that seems to rise
      From some still lake, so liquidly it rose,
      And, as it swell'd again at each faint close,
      The ear could track through all that maze of chords
      And young sweet voices these impassioned words—

"Ho, you there! fetch us a pint of gin! and look sharp, will you!"

      For who, in time, knows whither we may vent
      The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
      This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
      To enrich unknowing nations with our stores!
      What worlds in the yet unformèd Orient
      May come refined with accents that are ours!

[F: Hindu festivals in honour of the Ganges and the War God respectively .]

[G: Household.]

But, dear Vanity, I can see that you are impatient of scenes whose luxuries steal, spite of yourself, too deep into your soul; besides, I dread the effect of such warm situations on a certain Zuleika to whom the note of Ali Baba is like the thrice-distilled strains of the bulbul on Bendemeer's stream. So let us electrify ourselves back to prose and propriety by thinking of the Political Agent; let us plunge into the cold waters of dreary reality by conjuring up a figure in tail-coat and gold buttons dispensing justice while H.H. the romantic and picturesque Raja, G.C.S.I., amuses himself. Yet we hear cries from the gallery of "Vive M. le Raja; vive la bagatelle!"

So say we, in faint echoes, defying the anathemas of the Foreign Office. Do not turn this beautiful temple of ancient days into a mere mill for decrees and budgets; but sweep it and purify it, and render it a fitting shrine for the homage and tribute of antique loyalty—"that proud submission, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom." With tail-coat and cocked-hat government "the unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone."—ALI BABA.