September 24

September Twenty-Fourth

No other man did half so much either to develop the Constitution by expounding it, or to secure for the judiciary its rightful place in the Government as the living voice of the Constitution.... The admiration and respect which he and his colleagues won for the court remain its bulwark: the traditions which were formed under him and them have continued in general to guide the action and elevate the sentiments of their successors.

James Bryce
(England)

 

John Marshall born, 1755

Zachary Taylor born, 1784

 

 

I am expecting to go to Harper's Ferry; reported to the Surgeon in charge this morning as directed, but the train hasn't come from the front yet, therefore I shan't probably get off today. My wound has been very painful this afternoon—in fact more painful than it's ever been yet. The Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania went through the city this afternoon en route for home. Well, let them go, they are deserving of such joy! It's a good regiment. My wound has gotten very sore and painful and don't give me a moment's peace. My system is beginning to feel the strain, too, and my tongue seems paralyzed yet. I can't utter a word. At any rate I'm not noisy company for anyone—not even the ladies here who are very sympathetic.

cannon

No. 11.

Cannon ball house, Winchester, Va.; see solid shot embedded in the brick wall, under the two lower end windows, during the Civil War.

No. 11.

Cannon ball house, Winchester, Va.; see solid shot embedded in the brick wall, under the two lower end windows, during the Civil War.

No. 11.

Cannon ball house, Winchester, Va.; see solid shot embedded in the brick wall, under the two lower end windows, during the Civil War.

Thursday, September 24th, 3 p.m.—Taking 480 sick and wounded down to St Nazaire, with a junior staff nurse, one M.O., and two orderlies. Just been feeding them all at Angers; it is a stupendous business. The train is miles long—not corridor or ambulance; they have straw to lie on the floors and stretchers. The M.O. has been two nights in the train already on his way down from the front (four miles from the guns), and we joined on to him with a lot of hospital cases sent down to the base. I've been collecting the worst ones into carriages near ours all the way down when we stop; but of course you miss a good many. Got my haversack lined with jaconet and filled with cut-dressings, very convenient, as you have both hands free. We continually stop at little stations, so you can get to a good many of them, and we get quite expert at clawing along the footboards; some of the men, with their eyes, noses, or jaws shattered, are so extraordinarily good and uncomplaining. Got hold of a spout-feeder and some tubing at Angers for a boy in the Grenadier Guards, with a gaping hole through his mouth to his chin, who can't eat, and cannot otherwise drink. The French people bring coffee, fruit, and all sorts of things to them when we stop.

We shall have to wait at St Nazaire all day, and come back by night to-morrow.

One swanky Ambulance Train carries four permanent Sisters to the front to fetch cases to Le Mans and the Base. They go to Villeneuve. They say the country is deserted, crops left to waste, houses empty, and when you get there no one smiles or speaks, but listens to the guns. The men seem to think the Germans have got our range, but we haven't found theirs. The number of casualties must be nearly into five figures this last battle alone; and when you think of the Russians, the Germans, the French, the Austrians, and the Belgians all like that, the whole convulsion seems more meaningless than ever for civilised nations.

This is in scraps, owing to the calls of duty. The beggars simply swarm out of the train at every stop—if they can limp or pull up by one arm—to get the fruit and things from the French.

September 24, 1862

Wednesday. New tents were given us to-day. "A" tents they are called; I suppose because they are in the shape of a letter A. They are like the roof of a house cut off at the eaves, and one gable split open for us to enter, with strings sewed fast to one side and buttonholes in the other so we can close them up tight. A detail from each company has been clearing up the ground and laying out for an all-winter stay. The officers have moved back to the more level portion of the field, which brings our lines of tents on much better ground than before. A long and wide street has been laid out and is being graded off, on the west side of which the officers' tents are ranged, the colonel's tent in the middle and a little in the rear of the tents of the captains and lieutenants, which are directly in front of their respective companies. On a line with Colonel Cowles' tent are those of the lieutenant colonel (which by the way has no occupant yet, he being off somewhere on detached service), the major, quartermaster, adjutant, surgeon and chaplain. Back of these is a big tent called the Hospital, which so far has not been of much use. Then in front of all these are the companies' quarters, the ten company streets running off at right angles to the broad street along which the company officers' tents are now being placed. A wide space is left in front of Colonel Cowles' tent, and runs clear through camp, nothing being on it but a flag-pole, which is to stand directly in front of the colonel's tent and in line with the tents of the company officers. So many hands make light work of any job, but I am only telling how it is to be, for only the laying out is completed and the grading begun.

We that were not detailed for the work were taken out to the great sandy plain toward what I am told is Chesapeake Bay and given a lesson in battalion-drill.

The 135th N. Y. was with us, and from the crowds of people who were there I suppose battalion-drill is something worth seeing. But it was anything but fun for us, and we came back to camp hungry, tired, and with as much dust on us as would stick. We were glad enough to crawl into our old shelter tents. It is well I wrote the most of the day's doings before we went out, for it is hard work to put this little finish to it. Good-night, diary.

23. Abigail Adams

Boston Garrison, 24 September, 1774.

I have just returned from a visit to my brother, with my father, who carried me there the day before yesterday, and called here in my return, to see this much injured town. I view it with much the same sensations that I should the body of a departed friend—having only put off its present glory for to rise finally to a more happy state. I will not despair, but will believe that, our cause being good, we shall finally prevail. The maxim "In time of peace prepare for war" (if this may be called a time of peace) resounds throughout the country. Next Tuesday they are warned at Braintree, all above fifteen and under sixty, to attend with their arms; and to train once a fortnight from that time is a scheme which lies much at heart with many.

Scott has arrived, and brings news that he expected to find all peace and quietness here, as he left them at home. You will have more particulars than I am able to send you, from much better hands.

There has been in town a conspiracy of the negroes. At present it is kept pretty private. It was discovered by one who endeavored to dissuade them from it. He, being threatened with his life, applied to Justice Quincy for protection. They conducted in this way: got an Irishman to draw up a petition to the Governor, telling him they would fight for him, provided he would arm them and engage to liberate them if he conquered. And it is said that he attended so much to it as to consult Percy upon it; and one Lieutenant Small has been very busy and active. There is but little said, and what steps they will take in consequence of it, I know not. I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me—to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have. You know my mind upon this subject.

I left all our little ones well, and shall return to them to-night. I hope to hear from you by the return of the bearer of this, and by Revere. I long for the day of your return, yet look upon you as much safer where you are—but I know it will not do for you. Not one action has been brought to this court; no business of any sort in your way. All law ceases and the gospel will soon follow, for they are supporters of each other. Adieu. My father hurries me. Yours most sincerely.

September 24, 1863

BRASHEAR  City, La. We remained in New Orleans until the 16th waiting for orders. Having just enough money to live on, we tramped about the city, which I find very interesting, especially the part below Canal Street which is here called the French part of town. Above Canal Street the people mostly speak English, and below Canal Street they mostly speak French. The houses in the French part are low squatty buildings as compared with those on the other side. Canal Street seems to divide everything. It is very wide, with a horse-car track in the middle and a regular street on each side of it. The cars are all drawn by mules. The car tickets each have a picture of a car drawn by a mule, and pass for five cents anywhere, just as money does. These cars runs as far out as Lake Ponchartrain I am told, but on account of the expense I have not been out there. I am told it is the summer resort of the people who have money to go there. The "shell road" which I have read about is a continuation of Canal Street. It is wide and as smooth as a floor. After a shower it glistens like snow, for it slopes each way so the water runs off and leaves it as clean as you please. Way out along the shell road is a tremendous large cemetery, and this I must tell you about. The old lady where I boarded had a son on one of the river boats. He died last week and his body was brought home and buried from her house. The old lady invited me to attend the funeral and I am glad I went, for it was all so strange. The only thing that seemed real was the mother's grief. There were several carriages and I had one all to myself. Some others I found out went empty. The graves in the cemetery are all on top of the ground and are like little brick houses, all whitewashed or painted white. There was no end to the flowers in the yard or at the grave. A wagon-load of them went from the house. After the burial we came back with just as much pomp and ceremony as we went. I was sorry for the mother, and if she hadn't such an outlandish name I would give it. I have never tried to pronounce it, and not having seen it in print will give it up. That is the way with most all the names here. How they remember them is beyond me. I, for one, got very tired of hanging about. I gave up my diary after we came back from our gulf trip, but time hangs so heavy on my hands I have started it again and have caught up to this time the best I can. Colonel B. brought us here on the 16th and we have done nothing but loaf ever since. Brashear City is a small place on Berwick Bay. A small place just across the bay they tell me is Berwick. Cattle and horses are brought down from the country to Berwick and made to swim across the bay to this place, where they are yarded and shipped to New Orleans for market. There is a store and a restaurant, and some large empty buildings that I suppose were used for storehouses. We came here by way of the Opelousas and Great Western R. R., which begins at Algiers opposite New Orleans, and ends here at Brashear City. This is the R. R. that the Twenty-third Connecticut were guarding when the Rebels captured them, last June. A part of them were here as well as some other troops. The restaurant keeper told me of the capture, and showed me the bullet marks on his shop to prove they did not give up without a fight. He says the bravest fight of any was made by a New York man, whose grave he showed me near his shop. Just what we are here for or how long we are to stay does not yet appear. Colonel B. says that part of Franklin's expedition that went up the Teche country by way of this place is somewhere along the Bayou Teche, and we are to wait here for orders. Last Tuesday I went to the city for our mail. I had six letters, all full of news I was rejoiced to hear. Our folks are well, and I begin to think they have more sense than their youngest son and brother, for they don't worry about me as much as I do about them. Walt Loucks wrote about the 128th and Dave Cottrell wrote about his folks and his regiment. They are doing nothing yet, but resting up. When I got back I found our discharges from the 128th had come. As we have not been mustered into any other, I don't see why we are not just plain citizens again.

September 24

September 24, 1857.--In the course of much thought yesterday about "Atala" and "René," Châteaubriand became clear to me. I saw in him a great artist but not a great man, immense talent but a still vaster pride--a nature at once devoured with ambition and unable to find anything to love or admire in the world except itself--indefatigable in labor and capable of everything except of true devotion, self-sacrifice and faith. Jealous of all success, he was always on the opposition side, that he might be the better able to disavow all services received, and to hold aloof from any other glory but his own. Legitimist under the empire, a parliamentarian tinder the legitimist régime, republican under the constitutional monarchy, defending Christianity when France was philosophical, and taking a distaste for religion as soon as it became once more a serious power, the secret of these endless contradictions in him was simply the desire to reign alone like the sun--a devouring thirst for applause, an incurable and insatiable vanity, which, with the true, fierce instinct of tyranny, would endure no brother near the throne. A man of magnificent imagination but of poor character, of indisputable power, but cursed with a cold egotism and an incurable barrenness of feeling, which made it impossible for him to tolerate about him anybody but slaves or adorers. A tormented soul and miserable life, when all is said, under its aureole of glory and its crown of laurels!

Essentially jealous and choleric, Châteaubriand from the beginning was inspired by mistrust, by the passion for contradicting, for crushing and conquering. This motive may always be traced in him. Rousseau seems to me his point of departure, the man who suggested to him by contrast and opposition all his replies and attacks, Rousseau is revolutionary: Châteaubriand therefore writes his "Essay on Revolutions." Rousseau is republican and Protestant; Châteaubriand will be royalist and Catholic. Rousseau is bourgeois ; Chateaubriand will glorify nothing but noble birth, honor, chivalry and deeds of arms. Rousseau conquered nature for French letters, above all the nature of the mountains and of the Swiss and Savoy, and lakes. He pleaded for her against civilization. Châteaubriand will take possession of a new and colossal nature, of the ocean, of America; but he will make his savages speak the language of Louis XIV., he will bow Atala before a Catholic missionary, and sanctify passions born on the banks of the Mississippi by the solemnities of Catholic ceremonial. Rousseau was the apologist of reverie; Châteaubriand will build the monument of it in order to break it in René. Rousseau preaches Deism with all his eloquence in the "Vicaire Savoyard;" Châteaubriand surrounds the Roman creed with all the garlands of his poetry in the "Génie du Christianisme." Rousseau appeals to natural law and pleads for the future of nations; Châteaubriand will only sing the glories of the past, the ashes of history and the noble ruins of empires. Always a rôle to be filled, cleverness to be displayed, a parti-pris to be upheld and fame to be won--his theme, one of imagination, his faith one to order, but sincerity, loyalty, candor, seldom or never! Always a real indifference simulating a passion for truth; always an imperious thirst for glory instead of devotion to the good; always the ambitious artist, never the citizen, the believer, the man. Châteaubriand posed all his life as the wearied Colossus, smiling pitifully upon a pygmy world, and contemptuously affecting to desire nothing from it, though at the same time wishing it to be believed that he could if he pleased possess himself of everything by mere force of genius. He is the type of an untoward race, and the father of a disagreeable lineage.

But to return to the two episodes. "René" seems to me very superior to "Atala.'" Both the stories show a talent of the first rank, but of the two the beauty of "Atala" is of the more transitory kind. The attempt to render in the style of Versailles the loves of a Natchez and a Seminole, and to describe the manners of the adorers of the Manitous in the tone of Catholic sentiment, was an attempt too violent to succeed. But the work is a tour de force of style, and it was only by the polished classicism of the form, that the romantic matter of the sentiments and the descriptions could have been imported into the colorless literature of the empire. "Atala" is already old-fashioned and theatrical in all the parts which are not descriptive or European--that is to say, throughout all the sentimental savagery.

"René" is infinitely more durable. Its theme, which is the malady of a whole generation--distaste for life brought about by idle reverie and the ravages of a vague and unmeasured ambition--is true to reality. Without knowing or wishing it, Châteaubriand has been sincere, for René is himself. This little sketch is in every respect a masterpiece. It is not, like "Atala," spoilt artistically by intentions alien to the subject, by being made the means of expression of a particular tendency. Instead of taking a passion for René, indeed, future generations will scorn and wonder at him; instead of a hero they will see in him a pathological case; but the work itself, like the Sphinx, will endure. A work of art will bear all kinds of interpretations; each in turn finds a basis in it, while the work itself, because it represents an idea, and therefore partakes of the richness and complexity which belong to ideas, suffices for all and survives all. A portrait proves whatever one asks of it. Even in its forms of style, in the disdainful generality of the terms in which the story is told, in the terseness of the sentences, in the sequence of the images and of the pictures, traced with classic purity and marvelous vigor, "René" maintains its monumental character. Carved, as it were, in material of the present century, with the tools of classical art, "René" is the immortal cameo of Châteaubriand.

We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves. The consciousness of wrong-doing makes us irritable, and our heart in its cunning quarrels with what is outside it, in order that it may deafen the clamor within.

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The faculty of intellectual metamorphosis is the first and indispensable faculty of the critic; without it he is not apt at understanding other minds, and ought, therefore, if he love truth, to hold his peace. The conscientious critic must first criticise himself; what we do not understand we have not the right to judge.

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