July 30, 1862 [part 2]
Negroes are admitted to testify in the Courts of the District of Columbia. Lincoln is making a desperate effort “to run with the hare & hunt with the hounds,” i.e., to please both Abolitionists & Democrats. He has signed the bill confiscating the slaves of all engaged in active “rebellion,” as he terms it, has had the members from the border States at the White House, & made a most piteous appeal to them “ to relieve him from the pressure upon him” by assenting to the proposition made some time since to pay them for the slaves in their respective States—to consent to the gradual abolition of Slavery, but for the credit of humanity, be it said, very few of them yielded to his overtures. The minority report is most Uriah Heap-ish, but the Majority speak out & throw the blame of the war back on Mr Lincoln’s shoulders in defiance of the attempt he makes to fix it on them. Recruiting goes on slowly at the North, not a moiety of his 300,000 men being forth coming & no enthusiasm exhibited at the cry of To Arms.
How comes it that I can be so happy in the midst of such wide spread distress? Is it that I do not see & thus do not realize it? It must be so for I am neither selfish nor callous. God has mercifully protected me so far from it & I hear of it only through the papers or from the report of others, & here I live quietly amid my groves & gardens, wandering from tree to tree to see how the apples ripen, the peaches blush, peep at the Figs, bring in baskets of choice Dahlias, red, write, make Lavender baskets & Flybrushes—in short lead so delightful a “dolce par niente” life that I could almost forget there was a war. No I could not do that. The sufferings of the wounded, the sick, rouse & stir my heart of hearts & the most serious employment of my time is I believe devoted to them. God, I thank Thee that Thou has thus blessed me, I thank Thee for the contentment which enables me thankfully to enjoy the blessings which Thou has sent me.
Amused myself for the past few days writing some Lines on the Mosque of St. Sophia. It has long been a favourite notion of mine & I had some ideas at one time sending it to Longfellow & asking him to elaborate & adorn it, but this War has taken all relish from his productions. Poet tho he is, I never care to read again either of his past or of his future writing. So I concluded to try to read again either of his past or of his future writing. So I concluded to try what I could do myself. I am not exactly pleased with them. They lack fire, viz., Life, energy. The fact is, Mrs Edmondston, they lack the poetic inspiration! The lines are good, smooth, pretty, very neat in short, but they do not stir the blood or make one pulse beat quicker. Shall I insult you by calling them “Hemanic”? They are better than the “tolerable.” They mount even to fine in some lines, very well for an amateur & better than much of the published poetry one reads, but still, Madam, so far below your own standard that, honestly put, I do not think you take unalloyed pleasure in them. There is a something which you wish to say, something you feel, something which these lines do not say & which, Madam, in short, I fear you are not capable of saying! At any rate then I am thankful for the capacity of feeling, thankful that I can feel a grand idea, an exquisite beauty, even if the expression of it has been denied me. With the German poet, translated for me years ago by own dear brother, I will say
“Beloved! If thou has not fame thou hast
But it is too late to copy the lines today, so I leave them for a leisure moment.
Patrick thinks he hears Guns all the morning. I sharpen my ears but can hear nothing. They are in a North Easterly direction, so they may be at Drury’s bluff or in the James River. It is a solemn sound, that of a heavy booming Gun here in the stillness & solitude of the country & the thought that it may be an announcement of the death of some loved one in our army of patriots may well depress one.
Throughout the North Negro Regts are being raised, equipped, & drilled as soldiers, Lincoln in this having yielded to the popular cry. Hunter in S C has a Regt of them which he styles the 1st S C Volunteers. Amo writes me that he has seen two men who were taken prisoners at Port Royal guarded by negroes in the U S uniform. Cuffee did not do his duty, as they escaped! In this State they are doing the same thing. Some of them marched from Washington to Plymouth last week. Col Williams hung two sent out as emissaries to induce others to run away & enlist. They had U S money & enlistment papers with them!
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html