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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 08, No. 46, August, 1861 online

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a black eye with a white pupil, meant mischief. To him and his guns,
flanking the approaches and ready to pile the moat full of Seceders, the
country owes the safety of Fortress Monroe.

Within the walls are sundry nice old brick houses for officers'
barracks. The jolly bachelors live in the casemates and the men in long
barracks, now not so new or so convenient as they might be. In fact, the
physiognomy of Fortress Monroe is not so neat, well-shorn, and elegant
as a grand military post should be. Perhaps our Floyds, and the like,
thought, if they kept everything in perfect order here, they, as
Virginians, accustomed to general seediness, would not find themselves
at home. But the new _régime_ must change all this, and make this the
biggest, the best equipped, and the model garrison of the country. For,
of course, this must be strongly held for many, many years to come. It
is idle to suppose that the dull louts we find here, not enlightened
even enough to know that loyalty is the best policy, can be allowed
the highest privilege of the moral, the intelligent, and the
progressive, - self-government. Mind is said to march fast in our time;
but mind must put on steam hereabouts to think and act for itself,
without stern schooling, in half a century.

But no digressing! I have looked far away from the physiognomy of the
fortress. Let us turn to the


PHYSIOGNOMY OF THE COUNTRY.


The face of this county, Elizabeth City by name, is as flat as a
Chinaman's. I can hardly wonder that the people here have retrograded,
or rather, not advanced. This dull flat would make anybody dull and
flat. I am no longer surprised at John Tyler. He has had a bare blank
brick house, entitled sweetly Margarita Cottage, or some such tender
epithet, at Hampton, a mile and a half from the fort. A summer in this
site would make any man a bore. And as something has done this favor
for His Accidency, I am willing to attribute it to the influence of
locality.

The country is flat; the soil is fine sifted loam running to dust, as
the air of England runs to fog; the woods are dense and beautiful
and full of trees unknown to the parallel of New York; the roads are
miserable cart-paths; the cattle are scalawags; so are the horses, not
run away; so are the people, black and white, not run away; the crops
are tolerable, where the invaders have not trampled them.

Altogether the whole concern strikes me as a failure. Captain John Smith
& Co. might as well have stayed at home, if this is the result of the
two hundred and thirty years' occupation. Apparently the colonists
picked out a poor spot; and the longer they stayed, the worse fist they
made of it. Powhattan, Pocahontas, and the others without pantaloons and
petticoats, were really more serviceable colonists.

The farm-houses are mostly miserably mean habitations. I don't wonder
the tenants were glad to make our arrival the excuse for running off.
Here are men claiming to have been worth forty thousand dollars, half in
biped property, half in all other kinds, and they lived in dens such
as a drayman would have disdained and a hod-carrier only accepted on
compulsion.


PHYSIOGNOMY OF WATER.


Always beautiful! the sea cannot be spoilt. Our fleet enlivens it
greatly. Here is the flag-ship "Cumberland" _vis-à-vis_ the fort. Off to
the left are the prizes, unlucky schooners, which ought to be carrying
pine wood to the kitchens of New York, and new potatoes and green peas
for the wood to operate upon. This region, by the way, is New York's
watermelon patch for early melons; and if we do not conquer a peace here
pretty soon, the Jersey fruit will have the market to itself.

Besides stately flag-ships and poor little bumboat schooners, transports
are coming and going with regiments or provisions for the same. Here,
too, are old acquaintances from the bay of New York, - the "Yankee," a
lively tug, - the "Harriet Lane," coquettish and plucky, - the "Catiline,"
ready to reverse her name and put down conspiracy.

On the dock are munitions of war in heaps. Volunteer armies load
themselves with things they do not need, and forget the essentials.
The unlucky army-quartermaster's people, accustomed to the slow and
systematic methods of the by-gone days at Fortress Monroe, fume terribly
over these cargoes. The new men and the new manners of the new army do
not altogether suit the actual men and manners of the obsolete army. The
old men and the new must recombine. What we want now is the vigor of
fresh people to utilize the experience of the experts. The Silver-Gray
Army needs a frisky element interfused. On the other hand, the new army
needs to be taught a lesson in _method_ by the old; and the two combined
will make the grand army of civilization.


THE FORCES.


When I arrived, Fort Monroe and the neighborhood were occupied by two
armies.

1. General Butler.

2. About six thousand men, here and at Newport's News.

Making together more than twelve thousand men.

Of the first army, consisting of the General, I will not speak. Let his
past supreme services speak for him, as I doubt not the future will.

Next to the array of a man comes the army of men. Regulars a few, with
many post officers, among them some very fine and efficient fellows.
These are within the post. Also within is the Third Regiment of
Massachusetts, under Colonel Wardrop, the right kind of man to have, and
commanding a capital regiment of three-months men, neatly uniformed in
gray, with cocked felt hats.

Without the fort, across the moat, and across the bridge connecting this
peninsula of sand with the nearest side of the mainland, are encamped
three New York regiments. Each is in a wheat field, up to its eyes in
dust. In order of precedence they come One, Two, and Five; in order
of personal splendor of uniform they come Five, One, Two; in order of
exploits they are all in the same negative position at present; and the
Second has done rather the most robbing of hen-roosts.

The Fifth, Duryea's Zouaves, lighten up the woods brilliantly with their
scarlet legs and scarlet head-pieces.

* * * * *

These last words were written upon the day that the attack in which
Winthrop fell was arranged.

The disastrous day of the 10th of June, at Great Bethel, need not be
described here. It is already written with tears and vain regrets in our
history. It is useless to prolong the debate as to where the blame of
the defeat, if blame there were, should rest. But there is an impression
somewhat prevalent that Winthrop planned the expedition, which is
incorrect. As military secretary of the commanding general, he made a
memorandum of the outline of the plan as it had been finally settled.
Precisely what that memorandum (which has been published) was he
explains in the last letter he wrote, a few hours before leaving the
fort. He says, - "If I come back safe, I will send you my notes of the
plan of attack, part made up from the General's hints, part my own
fancies." This defines exactly his responsibility. His position as aid
and military secretary, his admirable qualities as adviser under the
circumstances, and his personal friendship for the General, brought him
intimately into the council of war. He embarked in the plan all the
interest of a brave soldier contemplating his first battle. He probably
made suggestions some of which were adopted. The expedition was the
first move from Fort Monroe, to which the country had been long looking
in expectation. These were the reasons why he felt so peculiar a
responsibility for its success; and after the melancholy events of the
earlier part of the day, he saw that its fortunes could be retrieved
only by a dash of heroic enthusiasm. Fired himself, he sought to kindle
others. For one moment that brave, inspiring form is plainly visible
to his whole country, rapt and calm, standing upon the log nearest the
enemy's battery, the mark of their sharpshooters, the admiration of
their leaders, waving his sword, cheering his fellow-soldiers with his
bugle voice of victory, - young, brave, beautiful, for one moment erect
and glowing in the wild whirl of battle, the next falling forward toward
the foe, dead, but triumphant.

On the 19th of April he left the armory-door of the Seventh, with his
hand upon a howitzer; on the 21st of June his body lay upon the same
howitzer at the same door, wrapped in the flag for which he gladly died,
as the symbol of human freedom. And so, drawn by the hands of young men
lately strangers to him, but of whose bravery and loyalty he had been
the laureate, and who fitly mourned him who had honored them, with long,
pealing dirges and muffled drums, he moved forward.

Yet such was the electric vitality of this friend of ours, that those
of us who followed him could only think of him as approving the funeral
pageant, not the object of it, but still the spectator and critic of
every scene in which he was a part. We did not think of him as dead. We
never shall. In the moist, warm midsummer morning, he was alert, alive,
immortal.




DIRGE

FOR ONE WHO FELL IN BATTLE.


Room for a Soldier! lay him in the clover;
He loved the fields, and they shall be his cover;
Make his mound with hers who called him once her lover:
Where the rain may rain upon it,
Where the sun may shine upon it,
Where the lamb hath lain upon it,
And the bee will dine upon it.

Bear him to no dismal tomb under city churches;
Take him to the fragrant fields, by the silver birches,
Where the whippoorwill shall mourn, where the oriole perches:
Make his mound with sunshine on it,
Where the bee will dine upon it,
Where the lamb hath lain upon it,
And the rain will rain upon it.

Busy as the busy bee, his rest should be the clover;
Gentle as the lamb was he, and the fern should be his cover;
Fern and rosemary shall grow my soldier's pillow over:
Where the rain may rain upon it,
Where the sun may shine upon it,
Where the lamb hath lain upon it,
And the bee will dine upon it.

Sunshine in his heart, the rain would come full often
Out of those tender eyes which evermore did soften;
He never could look cold, till we saw him in his coffin.
Make his mound with sunshine on it,
Where the wind may sigh upon it,
Where the moon may stream upon it,
And Memory shall dream upon it.

"Captain or Colonel," - whatever invocation
Suit our hymn the best, no matter for thy station, -
On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!
Long as the sun doth shine upon it
Shall grow the goodly pine upon it,
Long as the stars do gleam upon it
Shall Memory come to dream upon it.




REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.


_Currents and Counter-Currents in Medical Science._ With other Addresses
and Essays. By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. Boston; Ticknor & Fields. 12mo.

This volume contains seven occasional addresses and essays, written at
various periods between 1812 and 1860. The subjects of which it treats
are "Homoeopathy, and its Kindred Delusions," "Puerperal Fever, as
a Private Pestilence," "The Position and Prospects of the Medical
Student," "The Duties of the Physician," - a Valedictory Address to
the Medical Graduates of Harvard University, - "The Mechanism of Vital
Actions," "Some more Recent Views of Homoeopathy," and "Currents
and Counter-Currents in Medical Science." They are characterized by
extensive information, fertile thought, strong convictions, keen wit,
sound sense, and unflinching intellectual courage and self-trust. They
are valuable contributions to the literature of the medical profession,
and at the same time have that peculiar fascination which distinguishes
all the productions of Dr. Holmes's ingenious and opulent mind. The
style is clear, crisp, sparkling, abounding in originalities of verbal
combination and felicities of descriptive phrase. In its movement, it
bears the marks of a kind of mental impatience of the processes of
slower, more dogged, and more cautious intellects, natural to a keen,
bright, and swift intelligence, desirous of flashing the results of its
operation in the briefest and most brilliant expression. The argument,
though founded on premises which have been gathered by careful
observation and study, often disregards the forms of the logic whose
spirit it obeys, and, by its frequent use of analogy and illustration,
may sometimes dazzle and confuse the minds it seeks to convince. In
regard to opponents, it is not content with mere dialectic victory, but
insinuates the subtle sting of wit to vex and irritate the sore places
of defeat and humiliation.

The reputation which Dr. Holmes enjoys, as one of the most popular poets
and prose-writers of the day, has made the public overlook the fact that
literature has been the recreation of a life of which medical science
has been the business. By far the larger portion of his time, for the
last thirty years, has been devoted to his profession. Perhaps the
value and validity of the conclusions he records in this volume may be
questioned from the very circumstance that he expresses them in the
lucid and vigorous style of an accomplished man of letters. "People,"
says Macaulay, "are loath to admit that the same man can unite very
different kinds of excellence. It is soothing to envy to believe that
what is splendid cannot be solid, that what is clear cannot be profound.
Very slowly was the public brought to acknowledge that Mansfield was a
great jurist, and that Burke was a great master of political science.
Montagu was a brilliant rhetorician, and therefore, though he had
ten times Harley's capacity for the driest parts of business, was
represented by detractors as a superficial, prating pretender." Indeed,
that peculiar vital energy which is the characteristic of genius carries
the man of genius cheerfully through masses of drudgery which would
dismay and paralyze the vigor of industrious mediocrity. The present
volume, bright as it is in expression, is full of evidences that the
author has submitted to the austerest requirements of his laborious
profession; and if his opinions generally coincide with those which have
been somewhat reluctantly adopted by the most eminent physicians of the
age, it is certain that he has not jumped to his conclusions, but has
reached them by patient and independent thought, study, and observation.

The courage which Dr. Holmes displays throughout this volume is of a
refreshing kind. His frank, bold utterance of his convictions not only
subjects him to the adverse criticism of a numerous and powerful body
of able men in his own profession, but brings him into direct hostility
with many persons who, outside of his profession, are among the warmest
lovers of his literary genius. Some of the most intelligent admirers
and appreciators of "The Autocrat" and "The Professor" are adherents of
Homoeopathy; and of Homoeopathy Dr. Holmes is not only a scientific, but
a sarcastic opponent. He both acknowledges and satirizes the fact, that
intellectual men, eminent in all professions but that of medicine, are
champions of the system he derides; but he does not the less spare one
bitter word or cutting fleer against the system itself. By thus daring,
provoking, and defying opposition both to his professional and literary
reputation, he seems to us to indicate a real, if somewhat impatient
love of truth. He valorously invites and courts the malicious sharpness
of the most unfriendly criticism. Some people may call by the name of
conceit this honest and unwithholding devotion of his whole powers to
what he deems the cause of truth; but, we must be allowed to object,
conceit is commonly anxious for the safety of the individual, while
Dr. Holmes intrepidly exposes his individuality to the fire of hostile
cannon, which are prevented from being discharged against each other
only by the lucky thought that they can do more execution by being
converged upon him. Had he appeared as an intelligent, knowing, and
efficient controversialist on the side of the traditions of his
profession, his wholesale denunciation of quackery, vulgar or genteel,
might be referred to conceit; had he turned state's evidence against the
accredited deceptions of his own profession, and gone over entirely to
the enthusiasts who think that medicine is not an experimental science,
but a series of hap-hazard hits at the occult laws of disease, he might
be accused of conceit; but we think the charge is ridiculously false as
directed against a man who boldly puts his professional and literary
fame at risk in order to advance the cause of reason, learning, and
common sense. Nobody can justly appreciate Holmes who does not perceive
an impersonal earnestness and insight beneath the play of his provoking
personal wit. We admit that he makes enemies needlessly; but all fair
minds must still concede that even his petulances of sarcasm are but
eccentric utterances of a love of truth which has its source in the
deepest and gravest sentiments of his nature.

The object of Dr. Holmes's volume is to bring physicians and the people
over whom they hold dominion into sensible relations with each other.
A beautiful scorn of deception and humbug shines through his clear
exposition of the facts and laws of disease. A high sense of the duties
and dignity of the medical profession animates every precept he enforces
on the attention of those who are to deal with disease. Like all the
advanced thinkers of his profession, he relies, in the art of curing,
more on Nature than on drugs; but in thus assisting to dispel the notion
that the prescriptions either of the regular doctor or the irregular
empiric possess the power to heal, he injures the quack only to aid
the good physician. The strength of the quack consists in the two-fold
ignorance of the sick, - in their ignorance of the superficial character
of their common ailments, and in their ignorance of the deadly nature of
their exceptional diseases. Panaceas, seeming to cure the former, are
eagerly taken for the latter; but it is well known that they do not cure
in either case. Physicians are tempted into quackery by the desire to
dislodge ignorant pretenders from bedsides which it is their proper
function to attend, and in ministering to sick imaginations they are too
apt to pour a needless amount of nauseous medicine into sick bodies. If
people, while in health, would heed the honest advice which Dr.
Holmes gives in this volume, they would force physicians to be less
hypocritical in their management of them when they are ill, and they
would destroy the wide-spread evil of quackery under which the world now
groans.


_History of Civilization in England._ By HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE. Vol. II.
From the Second London Edition. To which is added an Alphabetical Index.
New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo.

The present volume of Mr. Buckle's history consists of a deductive
application to the history of Spain and Scotland of certain leading
propositions, which, in his previous volume, he claims to have
inductively established. These are four; "1st, That the progress of
mankind depends on the success with which the laws of phenomena are
investigated, and on the extent to which a knowledge of those laws
is diffused; 2d, That, before investigation can begin, a spirit of
skepticism must arise, which, at first aiding the investigation, is
afterwards aided by it; 3d, That the discoveries thus made increase
the influence of intellectual truths, and diminish, relatively, not
absolutely, the influence of moral truths, - moral truths being more
stationary than intellectual truths, and receiving fewer additions; 4th,
That the great enemy of this movement, and therefore the great enemy of
civilization, is the protective spirit, or the notion that the good of
society depends on its concerns being watched over and protected by a
State that teaches men what to do, and a Church which teaches them what
to believe."

Mr. Buckle, with great abundance of learning and fulness of thought,
attempts to prove that the history of Spain and Scotland verifies these
propositions. The general causes which, according to him, have sunk
Spain so low in the scale of civilization are loyalty and superstition.
The Church and State have been supreme, and the consequence has been
that the people are profoundly ignorant. Under able rulers, like
Ferdinand, Charles V., and Philip II., the loyal nation attained a great
height of power and glory; under their incompetent successors, the loyal
nation, obedient to crowned sloth and stupidity as to crowned energy and
genius, descended with frightful rapidity from its high estate, thus
proving that the progress which depends on the character of individual
monarchs or statesmen is necessarily unstable. Circumstances similar
to those which made Spain loyal made it superstitious; and loyalty and
superstition early formed an alliance by which all independent energy
of conduct and thought was suppressed. According to Mr. Buckle, the
prosperity of nations, in modern times, "depends on principles to which
the clergy, as a body, are invariably opposed." This proposition is, to
him, true of Protestant as well as Catholic clergymen; and a nation
like Spain, looking to the Government for what it should do, and to the
Church for what it should believe, has necessarily become inefficient
and ignorant.

Spain has few friends among English readers, and Mr. Buckle's
contemptuous opinion of its civilization may not, therefore, rouse
much opposition that he will be compelled to heed. But it is not so in
respect to Scotland, a caustic survey of whose civilization occupies
three-quarters of the present volume. The position is taken, that
Scotland, of all the countries of Protestant Europe, has been and is
the most superstitious and priest-ridden. The only thing that saved the
people from the fate of Spain was the fact, that their insubordination
to temporal authority was as marked as their slavery to spiritual
authority. They had the good fortune to be rebels as well as fanatics;
but the reforming clergy having, after 1580, allied themselves heartily
with the people against the king and nobles, increased as patriots
the influence they exerted as priests. The love of country being thus
associated with love of the Church, the people were enslaved by the very
religious leaders who aided them in the fight against those forms of
arbitrary power they mutually detested. The tyranny of the Presbyterian
minister was lovingly accepted by the same population by which the
tyranny of bishop and king was abhorred.

Mr. Buckle, with the malicious delight which only a philosopher in
search of facts to fit his theory can know, has delved in a stratum of
theological literature now covered from the common eye by more important
deposits, in order to prove that in the seventeenth century the people
of Scotland were ruled by a set of petty theological tyrants, as
ignorant and as inhuman as ever disgraced a civilized society, and that
their ignorance and inhumanity were all the more influential from being
called by the name and acting by the authority of religion.

The author then proceeds to consider the philosophical and scientific
reaction against this ecclesiastical despotism, which occurred in the
eighteenth century. Why did it not emancipate the Scottish intellect?

Because, says Mr. Buckle, the method of the philosophers, like the
method of the theologians, was deductive, and not inductive; and this,
he thinks, characterizes the operation of the intellect of Scotland in
all departments. Now the deductive method, or reasoning from principles
to facts, does not strike the senses with the force of the inductive,
or reasoning from facts to principles, and it is accordingly less
accessible to the average understanding. The result was, that the
writings of Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and Hume had little effect on the
popular intellect of Scotland, and its people are now the most bigoted
and intolerant of those of any country in Europe, except Spain. This
portion of Mr. Buckle's volume, containing an analytical estimate, not
only of Hutcheson, Hume, and Adam Smith, but of Black, Leslie, Hutton,
Cullen, and John Hunter, is full of original thought and valuable
information, however questionable may be some of its statements.

Whatever may be thought of the general ideas which Mr. Buckle enforces,
few will be inclined to dispute the extent of his learning, the breadth
of his understanding, the suggestiveness of his generalizations, the
earnestness of his purpose, the mental honesty with which he seeks
truth, the mental hardihood with which he assails what he considers


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Online LibraryVariousThe Atlantic Monthly, Volume 08, No. 46, August, 1861 → online text (page 20 of 21)