Kate Stone’s Civil War: A man-flirt is detestable

Stone, riding her horse with a pistol in her belt, decides that the antebellum age of young love, innocent flirting, and romantic dreams is over.

1864

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone, riding her horse with a pistol in her belt, decides that the antebellum age of young love, innocent flirting, and romantic dreams is over.

July 18, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Only the quiet routine of home duties. Nothing from the outside world. Oh, for letters from [those] who have bidden us adieu to know what is going on and how they arc faring in their new life.

Mrs. St. Clair and Neta Irvine came in and I tried to be unusually polite and non-committal to Mrs. St-Olair. She is such a dangerous woman that, I am afraid of her. She will start any report, and now she is most intimate with the Yankees. … Mr. Moore dined with us. Mr. Moore is the most belligerent minister I ever saw and the hottest Southerner. He cannot reconcile himself to defeat. There are two Yankee cotton-buyers in town. They are very conciliating in manner, we hear, and dumb as to the war.

Mollie Moore and I took a lovely ride this afternoon entirely alone but with pistols gleaming at our side. I fancy the good people of Tyler, the conservative, will be horrified if they saw them, but we will hope for the best and trust they did not spy our weapons. We took them more for a frolic than anything else, but the roads are said not to be entirely safe with so many hard cases roving around. Mollie and I were longing for a ride and good long gossip together, and all our cavaliers have left us. Mollie told me all about “Adonis” and confesses to a partial engagement, but she evidently does not expect to keep it. We decided that the girls would all have to change their war customs, stop flirting, and only engage themselves when they really meant something. The days of lightly-won and lightly-held hearts should be over.

Mr. Moore’s accounts of the frolics of Willy and Jimmy Carson on their bachelor ranch worry me considerably. I am afraid they will get into serious trouble carrying on so with those country girls and will carry their flirtations too far, and they are but boys turned loose with no one out there to restrain them. Hope they will soon come in, and I will talk to them. Might do some good. A man-flirt is detestable, and I do not want those boys to degenerate into that.

We are living now on the fat of the land, plenty of milk, cream, butter, and gumbo, vegetables of all kinds, melons, and chickens. I am only sorry Mamma and the boys cannot be with us to enjoy it. The outer world is still a sealed book to us. Few mails.

Brontë and her diary

“The haughty sadness of grandeur beamed out of her intent fixed hazel eye, & though so young, I always felt as if I dared not have spoken to her for my life, how lovely were the lines of her small & rosy mouth, but how very proud her white brow, spacious & wreathed with ringlets, & her neck, which, though so slender, had the superb curve of a queen’s about the snowy throat.”

On Jan. 21, 2011, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City opened a fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.” Introducing the exhibit were these thoughts:

“For centuries, people have turned to private journals to document their days, sort out creative problems, help them through crises, comfort them in solitude or pain, or preserve their stories for the future. As more and more diarists turn away from the traditional notebook and seek a broader audience through web journals, blogs, and social media, this exhibition explores how and why we document our everyday lives. With over seventy items on view, the exhibition raises questions about this pervasive practice: what is a diary? Must it be a private document? Who is the audience for the unfolding stories of our lives — ourselves alone, our families, or a wider group?”

Timeless questions … certainly legitimate ones for 21st century bloggers and tweeters. The exhibit, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit before its conclusion on May 21, featured work from the brightest stars of the literary galaxy. As quoted in the introductory essay, Henry David Thoreau aspired for his diary “to meet the facts of life — the vital facts — face to face.” Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife co-authored their diary to celebrate their new married life together. “I do verily believe there is no sunshine in this world, except what beams from my wife’s eyes,” he wrote. “I feel new as the earth which is just born again,” his wife later wrote in response.

St. Augustine and Anais Nin … Walter Scott and Tennessee Williams … William S. Burroughs and Charlotte Brontë … A prisoner from World War II and a police rescue worker from the 2001 World Trade Center attack — the range of work and creativity and purpose is just as astounding as the authors and the beautiful words this exhibit so elegantly celebrated.

The exhibit lives on online. In addition to the introductory essay, the website offers images of diary pages, diary excerpts, and essays on the authors.

Also included are audio readings of selected diaries by actors Paul Hecht and Barbara Feldon. Reading the diaries is, for me, a joy, but hearing them read to me is a special — and often quite romantic — experience.

This special series begins with Charlotte Brontë: “The haughty sadness of grandeur beamed out of her intent fixed hazel eye, & though so young, I always felt as if I dared not have spoken to her for my life, how lovely were the lines of her small & rosy mouth, but how very proud her white brow, spacious & wreathed with ringlets, & her neck, which, though so slender, had the superb curve of a queen’s about the snowy throat.”

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘A child of love’

Part 9 of this special series focuses on Tennessee Williams, the famed playwright, who embraced his diary as shelter from the depressive snowstorms that ravaged his life

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 9 focuses on Tennessee Williams, the famed playwright, who embraced his diary as shelter from the depressive snowstorms that ravaged his life. Success, drugs, sensual companionship, even public accolades like a Pulitzer Prize (for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) all failed to calm his suffocating anxiety, loneliness, and despair.

“A child of love — dined on the terrace with the cathedral spires lit up and a mass choir singing Catalonian folks songs on the Square below. Then love — came twice, both ways, and divinely responsive as if a benign Providence, or shall we be frank and say God, had suddenly taken cognizance and pity of my long misery this summer and given me this night as a token of forgiveness.”

Examine images of his amazing diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘I have deprived my family’

Part 7 of this series focuses on Walter Scott, a 19th century British author who fought depression and debt late in life with the inspiration and energy gained from keeping a journal.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 7 focuses on Walter Scott, a 19th century British author who fought depression and debt late in life with the inspiration and energy gained from keeping a journal. Four six years, the book became the place for him to ponder the depths and causes of his lifelong sadness, celebrate and record the famous people that moved in and out of his life, and preserve a private life he hoped his family would appreciate long after he was gone.

“November 20th. I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular [diary]. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting and I have deprived my family and the public of some curious information by not carrying this resolution into effect.”

Examine images of his powerful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘He was nearly pulled apart’

Part 6 of this series focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 6 focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s. They wrote and illustrated a travel diary, recording — and often haughtily (and hilariously) criticizing — daily life in American society.

“On the boat’s arrival at her destination, the passengers were assailed by a mob of cabmen, porters &c who though not allowed to come on board the steamer quarreled about their passengers, and if any one ventured ashore and presumed to scorn their offer he was nearly pulled to pieces for his temerity.”

Examine images of their wonderful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘A strange vanity’

Part 5 of this series focuses on John Newton, a British slave trafficker and later a minister who wrote ‘Amazing Grace.’

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 5 focuses on John Newton, a British slave trafficker and later a minister who wrote “Amazing Grace.” Throughout his adult life, he struggled with his religious faith and with his views on slavery, and the diary captured in daily detail the long, tumultuous spiritual journey he made. In the end, as the exhibit essay explains, Newton simply hoped that someday he “would serve as inspiration to others.”

“I have been reading what I have recorded of my experience in the last year – a strange vanity. I find myself condemn’d in every page[.] But the Lord is good, O how gracious! How wonderfully has he born with my repeated backslidings! And yet the thought but faintly affects. What I can I will – Lord I am not able to praise thee, accept the desire, which I trust is thine own gift – deliver me from that pride, impurity & self seeking, which so fatally interrupt my progress.”

Examine images of the extraordinary diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘To be ready to die’

Part 4 of this series focuses on Paul Horgan, a middle-aged novelist who in the summer of 1968 shared Aspen, Colo., with hippies, rich tourists, and others from whom he felt wearily disconnected.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 4 focuses on Paul Horgan, a middle-aged novelist who in the summer of 1968 shared Aspen, Colo., with hippies, rich tourists, and others from whom he felt wearily disconnected. Nevertheless, he took comfort and inspiration from his perch as a keen observer of the details that define and enrich daily life.

“I remember once being sent to bed physically ill because I could not be a part of the off-hand dinner conversation of a couple — young, beautiful, articulate — at the next table, in a hotel restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas. To be ready to die because a beautiful young man and a beautiful girl were not known to me, or did not want me with them!”

Examine images of Horgan’s fascinating diary and learn more about him here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘Happiness has no succession of events’

Part 3 in this series focuses on Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne, newlyweds who co-authored a diary celebrating their new lives together.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 3 focuses on Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne, newlyweds who co-authored a diary celebrating their new lives together.

“Happiness has no succession of events; because it is a part of eternity, and we have been living in eternity, ever since we came to this old Manse. Like Enoch, we seem to have been translated to the other state of being, without having passed through death.”

Examine images of their heart-swelling diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘I woke with a feeling of agony’

This special series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.” Part 2 focuses on Frances Eliza Grenfell, whose parents forbid her to spend her life with the man she loved. So she secretly wrote him letters, spilling her broken heart and feverish longings, page after page after page.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 2 focuses on Frances Eliza Grenfell, whose parents forbid her to spend her life with the man she loved. So she secretly wrote him letters, spilling her broken heart and feverish longings, page after page after page.

“I dreamt a long letter came from you, & I opened it, Oh! how well I can see it now, & as I was eagerly beginning the first page, I woke with a feeling of agony, for to have read it in a dream w[oul]d have been a blessing. I slept again; & again a long long letter was brought to me in your hand – I opened it, I found it was my own writing inside – the Journal I had kept for you.”

Examine images of her beautiful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin