Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sketches of the Great West in The Washington Union now has The Washington Union (October 6, 1845) with "Sketches of the West" by Philip St. George Cooke. Many passages from Cooke's published "Sketches" were later revised and incorporated in the 1851-1853 magazine series "Scenes Beyond the Western Border," which in turn became Part II of the 1857 book, Scenes and Adventures in the Army.

Found on

The text is already transcribed on the Dragooned page for Sketches of the Great West.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

aught save

No glimpse of aught, save trees and flowers. --Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
I was joined, after our frugal supper of dried meat, at the watch-fire of the bivouac, by my friend Frank, who came, I suppose, to while a dull hour; but to give him his due, he brought up some coffee, and we made in tin cups refreshing and strong sleep-dispelling draughts.
"Heaven knows," he said, "why guards should watch in this valley of desolation, with world-forbidding battlements; we might sleep a month, safe from aught save grizzly bears." --September 1852 Scenes Beyond the Western Border and Scenes and Adventures in the Army, 378

Monday, October 10, 2016

Genesis 6:2,4 on the prairie

Image Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
"That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."  --Genesis 6:2
Allusions to Genesis 6:2 and 4 occur in consecutive installments of "Scenes Beyond the Western Border." Both references take the biblical "sons of God" to mean "angels":

July 1852:
Ay de Mi! Our life is a sad struggle;—our material nature with its base cravings,—its cares for animal comforts, and all the ills of the flesh, preys upon and tethers the soul, which yearns for the Beautiful, the Noble, the Exalted;—essays to soar in that sphere, whose types are the bright stars of Heaven! Or, clings to that electric chain of Love which binds humanity—and in the olden Time drew down angels!--Southern Literary Messenger 18 (July 1852): 413; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army.
August 1852:
Come, O, sleep! thou luxury to the happiest; thou matchless blessing to those that may not be comforted. Come deathlike; profound as Adam's first. Oh! fated Progenitor! Then from near thy soft heart, sprang its resistless enemy, evermore armed against the peace of thy unhappy sons! Nay, the very Angels surrendered Heaven, and trembling, yielded to her arms.--Southern Literary Messenger 18 (August 1852): 506; and (slightly revised) Scenes and Adventures in the Army
Herman Melville's seventh novel Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities was first published in late July 1852--in between the July and August installments of "Scenes Beyond the Western Border," quoted above.
Did not the angelical Lotharios come down to earth, that they might taste of mortal woman's Love and Beauty? even while her own silly brothers were pining after the self-same Paradise they left? Yes, those envying angels did come down; did emigrate; and who emigrates except to be better off?  --Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities
 More allusions to Genesis 6:2, 4 in Melville's writings:
All of us have monarchs and sages for kinsmen; nay, angels and archangels for cousins; since in antediluvian days, the sons of God did verily wed with our mothers, the irresistible daughters of Eve. --Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
"... according to Genesis, the angels indeed consorted with the daughters of men, the devils also, add the uncanonical Rabbins, indulged in mundane amours.  --Moby-Dick, or, The Whale

But still the Venus is of the earth, and the Apollo is divine. Should a match be made between them, the union would be like that of the sons of God with the daughters of men.  --Statues in Rome, reconstructed lecture
"This evanescence is the charm!
And most it wins the spirits that be
Celestial, Sir. It comes to me
It was this fleeting charm in show
That lured the sons of God below,
Tired out with perpetuity
Of heaven's own seventh heaven aglow;
Not Eve's fair daughters, Sir; nay, nay
Less fugitive in charm are they:
It was the rose."  --Herman Melville, The Rose Farmer

Saturday, July 30, 2016

scribblers getting defensive

They anticipate attack in conversation with a real or imagined critic:
"But some of us scribblers, My Dear Sir, always have a certain something unmanageable in us, that bids us to do this or that, and be done it must—hit or miss.” --Herman Melville, Letter to Richard Bentley, June 5 1849; page 132 in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Correspondence
Image Credit: British Library
But here comes Frank again: well, rest is evidently not a time for dull narrative.

F. "Most industrious of scribblers, I give you good evening!"  --August 1852 - Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and  Scenes and Adventures in the Army

But now, “the morn is up again,”—and we have marched many miles fasting, and have been attracted through a turbid river by the sight of grass, and have stopped for breakfast under some cotton woods,—and in their shade I am scribbling with a pencil—  
F.—“Yes, and fine work you are making of it! The day should commence with the morning, and the brighter the better; not with the nightmare of a sleeper, who should have watched.--March 1853 Scenes Beyond the Western Border ["scribbling" deleted in revision of this dialogue for the 1857 book version, Scenes and Adventures in the Army]

C.—   "... I scribble by no rule, and with no object but pastime; and, to compare in some future day the old with the new tone of mind."--August 1853 Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Let's change the subject

"Frank as a bear hunter! Let us change then the subject."  --September 1851 Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army
 I[maginary]. F[riend]. "— Ah, please describe no more this barren region with a solitary animal and vegetable production — buffalo and buffalo grass." September 1851 Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army
"Last night there was a severe frost, and the winds are very high, and low enough, as you see, to flare the candle under the tent, and cover me with dust; but let us change the disagreeable subject.  --December 1851 Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army
"Ho, Vee-Vee, a fresh calabash; and with it we will change the subject." --Herman Melville, Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
"Nothing more about rattle-snakes, I beseech," in distress; "I must positively decline to reenter upon that subject. Sit down, sir, I beg, and take some of this wine." 
--The Confidence-Man - chapter 36 - A Mystic
 "Indeed, sir," with friendly decision, "let us change the subject."
--The Confidence-Man - chapter 36 - A Mystic

Friday, March 11, 2016

General Cooke's 1871 comments on the The Army and Navy

Image Credit: Raynors' Historical Collectible Auctions
In November 1871 the Society of the Army of the Cumberland held its fifth reunion in Detroit, Michigan. Just two years away from retirement, General Cooke then resided in Detroit where he commanded the Department of the Lakes. So of course he was invited to the reunion. The published transcript shows that he formally responded to one of the toasts. Remarks below are transcribed from the Detroit Free Press, November 17, 1871. (Also published in the 1872 volume, Fifth Reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumblerland.)

The printed 1872 volume clarifies a blurred word in the newspaper version: "fuglemen."
"1. a trained soldier formerly posted in front of a line of soldiers at drill to serve as a model in their exercises...." --Merriam-Webster
From the Detroit Free Press, November 17, 1871:
The third regular toast, “The Army and Navy.” Responded to by Gen P. St. George Cooke, as follows:

At the usual civic festivals this toast, as a compliment, calls only for an acknowledgment of thanks, and consequently of a brevity worth the approval of the highest authority, civil and military—to wit: of our present Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. One who has realized a theory that in action is developed the supremest human triumphs; in speech next, and in writing third in order.

I adopt the theory—I embrace it with avidity; it should be a favorite with a profession, which, almost to a man, might say, with the great warrior Anthony, “I am no orator.”

We have in our land many soldiers now—many able officers—successful, many of them, in their professions and pursuits before their country’s extreme danger called them to arms; their ready response, as well as after distinction, proved them to have been of the elite; now again they are prominent citizens.

But that terrible war was a long one, and a fast school; for apt scholars there was time to learn that profession, and to develope not only thousands of volunteers into able, valuable officers, but some of them—as also regular officers—into commanding Generals. You are witnesses and proofs that such was the process, such the experience of the successful ones. Where now are those first Major Generals! I served under some of them, and tragic failures they were.

We could extemporize now a grand army, perhaps equal to any existing; but twenty years hence! How then! For the first year of a war—it is our experience—volunteers fall far short of the mark; and great wars are becoming short and sharp, counting only by months.

Our army, now reduced to 30,000 men, will again become the teachers of science and practice of war; the inventers, or lawful custodians of their improvements; and the fuglemen of the rank and file.

It is a thankless service; as patriots we pray for honorable peace; as soldiers we languish for professional excitement and promotion. But there’s the rub; when war comes the regulars have but small advancements; and, in truth, I think that long subordinate service—with the habit of mere obedience—cramps rather than developes capacities for command.

The regulars, with our volunteer policy, became the fly-wheel of that great helpless machine—an army of raw volunteers; they keep it a-going; the first motions are bad enough: but what would happen without some infusion of practical knowledge, and without the slowly acquired science of a very important number of them? And does it not sometimes happen that an influential politician turned General is borne along on the shoulders of some modest educated soldier of low rank?

But it is wonderful, when we consider the amount of duty performed and the various parts that are played by our small army. It can be found from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle; from the Bay of Fundy to the Pacific shore. It defends frontiers from the tomahawk—which means, now, repeating arms in the hands of the Indians; it sometimes has to watch and control the mob in our great cities; it enforces the law and teaches civilization in some of the Southern States, and has begun, in strange alliance with the Quakers, much the same office for our red brethren.

We are sentinels—and scarcely more—on external frontiers almost too expanded for computation. We arrest awful conflagrations, and defend from robbers, and care for, not only property, but vast crowds of trembling, homeless and starving women and children.

Gentlemen, how can I do justice to the Navy? And how remarkably reticent they are, those men of daring deeds! I think they have not produced a single orator; but fortunately for them, their achievements are eloquent, and need no trumpeter.

In our first foreign war, when the outlook was rather gloomy, they led off with victories; striking a chord of the national heart, which still vibrates in their favor. In the war of the rebellion, with a liberal volunteer infusion, they performed an amount of service that is almost incredible, when we consider the smallness of their force at the beginning. Always harmonious when co-operating with the army, they illustrated their career with actions not only of rival importance and brilliancy, but which, in fact, have won the applause of nations.
The book version prints a paragraph at the start of Cooke's response which does not appear in the newspaper transcript. There Cooke reveals that in 1863, he volunteered for duty in the Army of the Cumberland in a letter to General Rosecrans that strangely "miscarried." Nothing of Cooke's 1871 remarks before the Society of the Army of the Cumberland is recorded in Otis E. Young's classic biography, The West of Philip St George Cooke. However, the fate of that 1863 dead letter does illuminate Young's assessment of this unfortunate period in Cooke's career when "it is remarkable that Cooke had so little of an intra-service reputation that no officer requested his services in any capacity."
"In the spring of 1863, being at St. Louis, I wrote a letter to your Commanding General, offering myself as a volunteer in your army. Afterward, in New York City, GENERAL ROSECRANS informed me--with flattering expressions of regret--that he never received it--the letter miscarried."  --Philip St. George Cooke, speaking at reunion banquet in Detroit for the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, November 16, 1871