previous next

[413] sounded through the stillness of midnight; and it was long before I could persuade myself that the strains were real, and not imaginings. The band of the Second Infantry was playing Christmas anthems in the midst of the sleeping army. The dreamy music, soft and low as a mother's prayer, floated over the camp, and stole like a benediction into the half-unconscious ears of the rude soldiery around. First it was a dead march; then a beautiful variation on “ Gentle Annie,” and last, “Do they miss me at home?” The effect was unequalled by anything I ever heard, except that wonderful death chant which breaks in upon and hushes the mad drinkers of the poisoned wine in “ Lucrezia Borgia.” That is the beauty of a soldier's life. There are such touches of purest romance, occasionally breaking through the dull prose and bitter suffering. It is, after all, the only profession which rises above the commonplace. In it beauty and effect are studied and arrived at; and the most delicate refinement and heroism are necessary to the true soldier. It is that which is so charming, I believe, in the profession, that which renders it a fit place for a dreamer and a writer.

In the second passage he describes a contrivance for comfort in the winter.

To-day we have had a squad of men at work in our tent. We have dug a cellar about two feet down in the ground, and have scraped a deep hole in one corner, with an opening outside the tent for a fireplace and chimney. The arrangement is a great success. We have more room; and then, too, it is a pleasure, for it is a novelty, ποικιλον τε καὶ εὐδαιμονία one remembers. It is not a bad thing to be a troglodyte. It is attacking the very citadel of death and terror to live in a grave and build a fire at one end! According to Bayard Taylor, I shall take the most luxurious repose possible tonight. He somewhere sillily remarks: “There is no rest more grateful than that we take on the turf or sand, save the rest below it.” To be sure, I do not put much confidence in what he says, for I can testify that a very mean straw mattress even is far preferable to the bare earth. Faith! there is little to choose between that and a grave. Indeed, the one is uncommonly apt to lead to the other. But, dear me, what a jumble of demi-puns. Well, mother Earth and daddy Clouds have been hard at work all day turning Virginia into a mortar-bed, and the army will have to stay in camp awhile, if it does not wish to get stuck in the mud.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Bayard Taylor (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: