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tion, I suppose.) Indeed, what is Nature but change, in all its visible, and still more its invisible processes ? Or what is humanity in its faith, love, heroism, poetry, even morals, but emotion ? NATURE AND DEMOCRACY MORALITY
Democracy most of all affiliates with the open air, is sunny and hardy and sane only with Nature — just as much as Art is. Something is required to temper both - to check them, restrain them from excess, morbidity. I have wanted, before departure, to bear special testimony to a very old lesson and requisite. American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices — through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life — must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sunwarmth and free skies, or it will certainly dwindle and pale. We cannot have grand races of mechanics, work people, and commonalty, (the only specific purpose of America,) on any less terms. I conceive of no flourishing and heroic elements of Democracy in the United States, or Democracy maintaining itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part - to be its healthelement and beauty-element — to really underlie the whole politics, sanity, religion and art of the New World. Finally, the morality: “Virtue,” said Marcus Aurelius, “what is it, only a living and enthusiastic sympathy with Nature ?” Perhaps indeed the efforts of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been, and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same
to bring people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions, to the costless average, divine, original concrete.
THE WHITE HOUSE BY MOONLIGHT
February 24th.— A spell of fine soft weather. I wander about a good deal, sometimes at night under the moon. To-night took a long look at the President's house. The white portico the palace-like, tall, round columns, spotless as snow - the walls also the tender and soft moonlight, flooding the pale marble, and making peculiar faint languishing shades, not shadows — everywhere a soft transparent hazy, thin, blue moon-lace, hanging in the air — the brilliant and extra-plentiful clusters of gas, on and around facade, columns, portico, &c.— everything so white, so marbly pure and dazzling, yet soft — the White House of future poems, and of dreams and dramas, there in the soft and copious moon — the gorgeous front, in the trees, under the lustrous flooding moon, full of realty, full of illusion the forms of the trees, leafless, silent, in trunk and myriadangles of branches, under the stars and sky — the White House of the land, and of beauty and night — sentries at the gates, and by the portico, silent, pacing there in blue
– stopping you not at all, but eyeing you with sharp eyes, whichever way you move. A NIGHT BATTLE, OVER A WEEK SINCE
May 12.— There was part of the late battle at Chancellorsville, (second Fredericksburgh,) a little over a week ago, Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday, under Gen. Joe Hooker, I would like to give just a glimpse of (a moment's look in a terrible storm at sea of which a few suggestions are enough, and full details impossible.) The fighting had been very hot during the day, and after an intermission the latter part, was resumed at night, and kept up with furious energy till 3 o'clock in the morning. That afternoon (Saturday) an attack sudden and strong by Stonewall Jackson had gain'd a great advantage to the southern army, and broken our lines, entering us like a wedge, and leaving things in that position at dark. But Hooker at 11
at night made a desperate push, drove the secesh forces back, restored his original lines, and resumed his plans. This night scrimmage was very exciting, and accorded countless strange and fearful pictures. The fighting had been general both at Chancellorsville and northeast at Fredericksburgh.
(We hear of
poor fighting, episodes, skedaddling on our part. I think not of it. I think of the fierce bravery, the general rule.) One corps, the 6th, Sedgewick's, fights four dashing and bloody battles in thirty-six hours, retreating in great jeopardy, losing largely but maintaining itself, fighting with the sternest desperation under all circumstances, getting over the Rappahannock only by the skin of its teeth, yet getting over. It lost many, many brave men, yet it took vengeance, ample vengeance. But it was the tug of Saturday evening, and through the night and Sunday morning, I wanted to make a special note of. It was largely in the woods, and quite a general engagement. The night was very pleasant, at times the moon shining out full and clear, all Nature so calm in itself, the early summer grass so rich, and foliage of the trees - yet there the battle raging, and many good fellows lying helpless, with new accessions to them, and every minute amid the rattle of muskets and crash of cannon, (for there was an artillery contest too,) the red life-blood oozing out from heads or trunks or limbs upon that green and dew-cool grass. Patches of the woods take fire, and several of the wounded, unable to move, are consumed quite large spaces are swept over, burning the dead also
some of the men have their hair and beards singed some, burns on their faces and hands — others holes burnt in their clothing. The flashes of fire from the cannon, the quick faring flames and smoke, and the immense roar - the musketry so general, the light nearly bright enough for each side to see the other — the crashing, tramping of men - the yelling - close quarters — we hear the secesh yells - our men cheer loudly back, especially if Hooker is in sight - hand to hand conflicts, each side stands up to it,
brave, determin'd as demons, they often charge upon us a thousand deeds are done worth to write newer greater poems on — and still the woods on fire still
many are not only scorch'd - too
many, unable to move, are burned to death. Then the camps of the wounded — O heavens, what scene is this? — is this indeed humanity these butchers' shambles? There are several of them. There they lie, in the largest, in an open space in the woods, from 200 to 300 poor fellows
the groans and screams the odor of blood, mixed with the fresh scent of the night, the grass, the trees — that slaughter-house! O well is it their mothers, their sisters cannot see them cannot conceive, and never conceiv'd, these things. One man is shot by a shell, both in the arm and leg both are amputated - there lie the rejected members. Some have their legs blown off — some bullets through the breast — some indescribably horrid wounds in the face or head, all mutilated, sickening, torn, gouged out some in the abdomen some mere boys many rebels, badly hurt --- they take their regular turns with the rest, just the same as any the surgeons use them just the same. Such is the camp of the wounded such a fragment, a reflection afar off of the bloody scene
-while all over the clear, large moon comes out at times softly, quietly shining. Amid the woods, that' scene of Aitting souls — amid the crack and crash and yelling sounds -- the impalpable perfume of the woods -- and yet the pungent, stifling smoke — the radiance of the moon, looking from heaven at intervals so placid — the sky so heavenly — the clear-obscure up there, those buoyant upper
a few large placid stars beyond, coming silently and languidly out, and then disappearing — the melancholy, draperied night above, around. And there, upon the roads, the fields, and in those woods, that contest, never one more desperate in any age or land — both parties now in forcemasses - no fancy battle, no semi-play, but fierce and savage demons fighting there – courage and scorn of death the rule, exceptions almost none.
What history, I say, can ever give — for who can know the mad, determin'd tussle of the armies, in all their separate large and little squads — as this — each steep'd from crown to toe in desperate, mortal purports? Who know the conAict, hand-to-hand — the many conflicts in the dark, those shadowy-tangled, flashing moonbeam'd woods - the writhing groups and squads — the cries, the din, the cracking guns and pistols
- the distant cannon the cheers and calls and threats and awful music of the oaths - the indescribable mix the officers' orders, persuasions, encouragements - the devils fully rous’d in human hearts
the strong shout, Charge, men, charge -- the flash of the naked sword, and rolling fame and smoke? And still the broken, clear and clouded heaven — and still again the moonlight pouring silvery soft its radiant patches over all. Who paint the scene, the sudden partial panic of the afternoon, at dusk ? Who paint the irrepressible advance of the second division of the Third corps, under Hooker himself, suddenly order'd up — those rapid-filing phantoms through the woods ? Who show what moves there in the shadows, Aluid and firm -- to save, and it did save,) the army's name, perhaps the nation ? as there the veterans hold the field. (Brave Berry falls not yet — but death has mark'd him soon he falls.) THE MOST INSPIRITING OF ALL WAR'S SHOWS
June 29.— Just before sundown this evening a very large cavalry force went by — a fine sight. The men evidently had seen service. First came a mounted band of sixteen bugles, drums and cymbals, playing wild martial tunes made my heart jump. Then the principal officers, then company after company, with their officers at their heads, making of course the main part of the cavalcade ; then a long train of men with led horses, lots of mounted negroes with special horses — and a long string of baggage-wagons, each drawn by four horses — and then a motley rear guard. It was a pronouncedly warlike and gay show; the sabres clank'd, the men look'd young and healthy and strong; the electric tramping of so many horses on the hard road, and