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Oliver Wendell Holmes,

"My Hunt after 'The Captain,'"
in The Atlantic
(Dec. 1862)


"Doings of the Sunbeam"
in The Atlantic
(July 1863)

Excerpts from a Digital Text  at The Atlantic and another at Google Books.

N.B. The first excerpt concerns Holmes's efforts to find his son, Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who had been wounded at the Battle of Antietam.  (His son was later famous as a Supreme Court Justice.)  The second excerpt, written six months later, includes  detailed descriptions of wet plate photography as well as Holmes's response to photographs from Antietam.

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"My Hunt after 'The Captain,'"

In the dead of the night which closed upon the bloody field of Antietam, my household was startled from its slumbers by the loud summons of a telegraphic messenger. The air had been heavy all day with rumors of battle, and thousands and tens of thousands had walked the streets with throbbing hearts, in dread anticipation of the tidings any hour might bring.

We rose hastily, and presently the messenger was admitted. I took the envelope from his hand, opened it, and read:

Hagerstown 17th
To__________ H ______
Capt H______ wounded shot through the neck thought not mortal at Keedysville
William G. Leduc

Through the neck,--no bullet left in wound. Windpipe, food-pipe, carotid, jugular, half a dozen smaller, but still formidable vessels, a great braid of nerves, each as big as a lamp-wick, spinal cord,-- ought to kill at once, if at all. Thought not mortal, or not thought mortal,--which was it? The first; that is better than the second would be.--"Keedysville, a post-office, Washington Co., Maryland." Leduc? Leduc? Don't remember that name. The boy is waiting for his money. A dollar and thirteen cents. Has nobody got thirteen cents? Don't keep that boy waiting,--how do we know what messages he has got to carry?

[Arriving in Philadelphia,] I went straight to the house in Walnut Street where the Captain would be heard of, if anywhere in this region. His lieutenant-colonel was there, gravely wounded; his college-friend and comrade in arms, a son of the house, was there, injured in a similar way; another soldier, brother of the last, was there, prostrate with fever. A fourth bed was waiting ready for the Captain, but not one word had been heard of him, though inquiries had been made in the towns from and through which the father had brought his two sons and the lieutenant-colonel. And so my search is . . . to be continued.  . . .

[He and his traveling partner continue on to Baltimore, but he wasn't there, so Holmes went on to Frederick, Maryland.]

At the United States Hotel, where many were lying, I heard mention of an officer in an upper chamber, and, going there, found . . . Lieutenant Wilkins, of the same Twentieth, whom I had met repeatedly before on errands of kindness or duty, and who was just from the battle-ground. . . . From his lips I learned something of the mishaps of the regiment. My Captain's wound he spoke of as less grave than at first thought; but he mentioned incidentally having heard a story recently that he was killed,-- a fiction, doubtless,-- a mistake,-- a palpable absurdity,-- not to be remembered or made any account of. Oh no! but what dull ache is this in that obscurely sensitive region, somewhere below the heart, where the nervous centre called the semilunar ganglion lies unconscious of itself until a great grief or a mastering anxiety reaches it through all the non- conductors which isolate it from ordinary impressions? . . .

[Continuing on to Middletown, he and his traveling companions visit all the hospitals in town, looking for their loved ones.]  The principal collections of the wounded were in the churches. Boards were laid over the tops of the pews, on these some straw was spread, and on this the wounded lay, with little or no covering other than such scanty clothes as they had on. There were wounds of all degrees of severity, but I heard no groans or murmurs. Most of the sufferers were hurt in the limbs, some had undergone amputation, and all had, I presume, received such attention as was required. Still, it was but a rough and dreary kind of comfort that the extemporized hospitals suggested. I could not help thinking the patients must be cold; but they were used to camp life, and did not complain. The men who watched were not of the soft-handed variety of the race. One of them was smoking his pipe as he went from bed to bed. I saw one poor fellow who had been shot through the breast; his breathing was labored, and he was tossing, anxious and restless. The men were debating about the opiate he was to take, and I was thankful that I happened there at the right moment to see that he was well narcotized for the night. Was it possible that my Captain could be lying on the straw in one of these places? Certainly possible, but not probable; but as the lantern was held over each bed, it was with a kind of thrill that I looked upon the features it illuminated. Many times as I went from hospital to hospital in my wanderings, I started as some faint resemblance,-the shade of a young man's hair, the outline of his half-turned face,--recalled the presence I was in search of. The face would turn towards me, and the momentary illusion would pass away, but still the fancy clung to me. There was no figure huddled up on its rude couch, none stretched at the roadside, none toiling languidly along the dusty pike, none passing in car or in ambulance, that I did not scrutinize, as if it might be that for which I was making my pilgrimage to the battlefield. . . .

[Searching unsuccessfully in Boonsborough, they continued to Keedysville.  People tell him where they think his son is, but he is never there when Holmes arrives.]  Then, foolish, fond body that I was, my heart sank within me. Had he been taken ill on the road, perhaps been attacked with those formidable symptoms which sometimes come on suddenly after wounds that seemed to be doing well enough, and was his life ebbing away in some lonely cottage, nay, in some cold barn or shed, or at the wayside, unknown, uncared for? Somewhere between Philadelphia and Hagerstown, if not at the latter town, he must be, at any rate. I must sweep the hundred and eighty miles between these places as one would sweep a chamber where a precious pearl had been dropped. . . .

[At long last, he learns that his son will be arriving on the next train.  He boards the train and tries to stay calm as he checks each car for his son.]  In the first car, on the fourth seat to the right, I saw my Captain; there saw I him, even my first-born, whom I had sought through many cities.

"How are you, Boy?"

"How are you, Dad?"

Such are the proprieties of life, as they are observed among us Anglo-Saxons of the nineteenth century, decently disguising those natural impulses that made Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt, weep aloud so that the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard, nay, which had once overcome his shaggy old uncle Esau so entirely that he fell on his brother's neck and cried like a baby in the presence of all the women. But the hidden cisterns of the soul may be filling fast with sweet tears, while the windows through which it looks are undimmed by a drop or a film of moisture. . . .

[Finally, twelve days after receiving the telegram, Holmes and his son headed for home.]  Fling open the window-blinds of the chamber that looks out on the waters and towards the western sun! Let the joyous light shine in upon the pictures that hang upon its walls and the shelves thick-set with the names of poets and philosophers and sacred teachers, in whose pages our boys learn that life is noble only when it is held cheap by the side of honor and of duty. Lay him in his own bed, and let him sleep off his aches and weariness. So comes down another night over this household, unbroken by any messenger of evil tidings,--a night of peaceful rest and grateful thoughts; for this our son and brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.

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The Doings of the Sun Beam

FEW of those who seek a photographer's establishment to have their portraits taken know at all into what a vast branch of commerce this business of sun-picturing has grown. We took occasion lately to visit one of the principal establishments in the country, that of Messrs. E. & H. T. Anthony, in Broadway, New York. We had made the acquaintance of these gentlemen through the remarkably instantaneous stereoscopic views published by them, and of which we spoke in a former article in terms which some might think extravagant. Our unsolicited commendation of these marvellous pictures insured us a more than polite reception. Every detail of the branches of the photographic business to which they are more especially devoted was freely shown us, and "No Admittance" over the doors, of their inmost  sanctuaries came to mean for us, "Walk in; you are heartily welcome.". . .

The guests of the neighboring hotels, as they dally with their morning's omelet, little imagine what varied uses come out of the shells which furnished them their anticipatory repast of disappointed chickens. If they had visited Mr. Anthony's upper rooms, they would have seen a row of young women before certain broad, shallow pans filled with the glairy albumen which once enveloped those potential fowls.

The one next us takes a large sheet of photographic paper (a paper made in Europe for this special purpose, very thin, smooth, and compact), and floats it evenly on the surface of the albumen. Presently she lifts it very carefully by the turned-up corners and hangs it bias, as a seamstress might say, that is, cornerwise, on a string, to dry. This "albumenized" paper is sold most extensively to photographers, who find it cheaper to buy than to prepare it. It keeps for a long time uninjured, and is "sensitized" when wanted, as we shall see by and by.

The amount of photographic paper which is annually imported from France and Germany has been estimated at fifteen thousand reams. . . .

In another portion of the same establishment are great collections of the chemical substances used in photography. To give an idea of the scale on which these are required, we may state that the estimate of the annual consumption of the precious metals for photographic purposes, in this country, is set down at ten tons for silver and half a ton for gold. Vast quantities of the hyposulphite of soda, which, we shall see, plays an important part in the process of preparing the negative plate and finishing the positive print, are also demanded. In another building, provided with steampower, which performs much of the labor, is carried on the great work of manufacturing photographic albums, cases for portraits, parts of cameras, and of printing pictures from negatives. Many of these branches of work are very interesting. The luxurious album, embossed, clasped, gilded, resplendent as a tropical butterfly, goes through as many transformations as a "purple emperor." It begins a pasteboard larva, is swathed and pressed and glued into the condition of a chrysalis, and at last alights on the centre-table gorgeous in gold and velvet, the perfect imago. The cases for portraits are made in lengths, and cut up, somewhat as they say ships are built in Maine, a mile at a time, to be afterwards sawed across so as to become sloops, schooners, or such other sized craft as may happen to be wanted.

Each single process in the manufacture of elaborate products of skill oftentimes seems and is very simple. The workmen in large establishments, where labor is greatly subdivided, become wonderfully adroit in doing a fraction of something. They always remind us of the Chinese or the old Egyptians. A young person who mounts photographs on cards all day long confessed to having never, or almost never, seen a negative developed, though standing at the time within a few feet of the dark closet where the process was going on all day long. One forlorn individual will perhaps pass his days in the single work of cleaning the glass plates for negatives. Almost at his elbow is a toning bath, but he would think it a good joke, if you asked him whether a picture had lain long enough in the solution of gold or hyposulphite. . . .

We left the great manufacturing establishment of the Messrs. Anthony, more than ever impressed with the vast accession of happiness conferred upon mankind by this art, which has spread itself as widely as civilization. The photographer can procure every article needed for his work at moderate cost and in quantities suited to his wants. His prices have consequently come down to such a point that pauperism itself need hardly shrink from the outlay required for a family portrait-gallery. The "tin-types," as the small miniatures are called, -- stannotypes would be the proper name, -- are furnished at the rate of two cents each! A portrait such as Isabey could not paint for a Marshal of France, a likeness such as Malbone could not make of a President's lady, to be had for two coppers, -- a dozen chefs d'oeuvre for a quarter of a dollar.

We had been for a long time meditating a devotion of a part of what is left of our more or less youthful energies to acquiring practical knowledge of the photographic art. The auspicious moment came at last, and we entered ourselves as the temporary apprentice of Mr. J. W. Black of this city, well known as a most skilful photographer and a friendly assistant of beginners in the art.

We consider ourselves at this present time competent to set up a photographic ambulance or to hang out a sign in any modest country town. We should, no doubt, over-time and under-tone, and otherwise wrong the countenances of some of our sitters; but we should get the knack in a week or two, and if Baron Wenzel owned to having spoiled a hatful of eyes before he had fairly learned how to operate for cataract, we need not think too much of libelling a few village physiognomies before considering ourselves fit to take the minister and his deacons. After years of practice there is always something to learn, but every one is surprised to find how little time is required for the acquisition of skill enough to make a passable negative and print a tolerable picture. We could not help learning, with the aid that was afforded us by Mr. Black and his assistants, who were all so very courteous and pleasant, that, as a token of gratitude, we offered to take photographs of any of them who would sit to us for that purpose. Every stage of the process, from preparing a plate to mounting a finished sun-print, we have taught our hands to perform, and can therefore speak with a certain authority to those who wish to learn the way of working with the sunbeam.

Notwithstanding the fact that the process of making a photographic picture is detailed in a great many books, -- nay, although we have given a brief account of the principal stages of it in one of our former articles, we are going to take the reader into the sanctuary of the art with us, and ask him to assist, in the French sense of the word, while we make a photograph, -- say, rather, while the mysterious forces which we place in condition to act work that miracle for us.

We are in a room lighted through a roof of ground glass, its walls-covered with blue paper to avoid reflection. A camera mounted on an adjustable stand is before us. We will fasten this picture, which we are going to copy, against the wall. Now we will place the camera opposite to it, and bring it into focus so as to give a clear image on the square of ground glass in the interior of the instrument. If the image is too large, we push the camera back; if too small, push it up towards the picture and focus again. The image is wrong side up, as we see; but if we take the trouble to reverse the picture we are copying, it will appear in its proper position in the camera. Having got an image of the right size, and perfectly sharp, we will prepare a sensitive plate, which shall be placed exactly where the ground glass now is, so that this same image shall be printed on it.

For this purpose we must quit the warm precincts of the cheerful day, and go into the narrow den where the deeds of darkness are done. Its dimensions are of the smallest, and its aspect of the rudest. A feeble yellow flame from a gas-light is all that illuminates it. All round us are troughs and bottles and water-pipes, and ill-conditioned utensils of various kinds. Everything is blackened with nitrate of silver; every form of spot, of streak, of splash, of spatter, of stain, is to be seen upon the floor, the walls, the shelves, the vessels. Leave all linen behind you, ye who enter here, or at least protect it at every exposed point. Cover your hands in gauntlets of India-rubber, if you would not utter Lady Macbeth's soliloquy over them when they come to the light of day. Defend the nether garments with overalls, such as plain artisans are wont to wear. Button the ancient coat over the candid shirt-front, and hold up the retracted wristbands by elastic bands around the shirtsleeve above the elbow. Conscience and nitrate of silver are telltales that never forget any tampering with them, and the broader the light the darker their record. Now to our work.

Here is a square of crown glass three fourths as large as a page of the "Atlantic Monthly," if you happen to know that periodical.  Let us brush it carefully, that its surface may be free from dust. Now we take hold of it by the upper left-hand corner and pour some of this thin syrup-like fluid upon it, inclining the plate gently from side to side, so that it may spread evenly over the surface, and let the superfluous fluid drain back from the right-hand upper corner into the bottle. We keep the plate rocking from side to side, so as to prevent the fluid running in lines, as it has a tendency to do. The neglect of this precaution is evident in some otherwise excellent photographs. . . . In less than a minute the syrupy fluid has dried, and appears like a film of transparent varnish on the glass plate. We now place it on a flat double hook of gutta-percha, and lower it gently into the nitrate-of-silver bath. As it must remain there three or four minutes, we will pass away the time in explaining what has been already done.

The syrupy fluid was iodized collodion. This is made by dissolving gun-cotton in ether with alcohol, and adding some iodide of ammonium. When a thin layer of this fluid is poured on the glass plate, the ether and alcohol evaporate very speedily, and leave a closely adherent film of organic matter derived from the cotton, and containing iodide of ammonium. We have plunged this into the bath, which contains chiefly nitrate of silver, but also some iodide of silver, -- knowing that a decomposition will take place, in consequence of which the iodide of ammonium will become changed to the iodide of silver, which will now fill the pores of the collodion film. The iodide of silver is eminently sensitive to light. The use of the collodion is to furnish a delicate, homogeneous, adhesive, colorless layer in which the iodide may be deposited. Its organic nature may favor the action of light upon the iodide of silver.

While we have been talking and waiting, the process just described has been going on, and we are now ready to take the glass plate out of the nitrate-of-silver bath. It is wholly changed in aspect. The film has become in appearance like a boiled white of egg, so that the glass produces rather the effect of porcelain, as we look at it. Open no door now! Let in no glimpse of day, or the charm is broken in an instant! No Sultana was ever veiled from the light of heaven as this milky tablet we hold must be. But we must carry it to the camera which stands waiting for it in the blaze of high noon. To do this, we first carefully place it in this narrow case, called a shield, where it lies safe in utter darkness. We now carry it to the camera, and, having removed the ground glass on which the camera-picture had been brought to an exact focus, we drop the shield containing the sensitive plate into the groove the glass occupied. Then we pull out a slide, as the blanket is taken from a horse before he starts. There is nothing now but to remove the brass cap from the lens. That is giving the word Go! It is a tremulous moment for the beginner.

As we lift the brass cap, we begin to count seconds, -- by a watch, if we are naturally unrhythmical, -- by the pulsations in our souls, if we have an intellectual pendulum and escapement. Most persons can keep tolerably even time with a second-hand while it is traversing its circle. The light is pretty good at this time, and we count only as far as thirty, when we cover the lens again with the cap. Then we replace the slide in the shield, draw this out of the camera, and carry it back into the shadowy realm where Cocytus flows in black nitrate of silver and Acheron stagnates in the pool of hyposulphite, and invisible ghosts, trooping down from the world of day, cross a Styx of dissolved sulphate of iron, and appear before the Rhadamanthus of that lurid Hades.

Such a ghost we hold imprisoned in the shield we have just brought from the camera. We open it, and find our milky-surfaced glass plate looking exactly as it did when we placed it in the shield. . No eye, no microscope, can detect a trace of change in the white film that is spread over it. And yet there is a potential image in it, -- a latent soul, which will presently appear before its judge. This is the Stygian stream, -- this solution of protosulphate of iron, with which we will presently flood the white surface.

We pour on the solution. There is no change at first; the fluid flows over the whole surface as harmless and as useless as if it were water. What if there were no picture there? Stop! what is that change of color beginning at this edge, and spreading as a blush spreads over a girl's cheek? It is a border, like that round the picture, and then dawns the outline of a head, and now the eyes come out from the blank as stars from the empty sky, and the lineaments define themselves, plainly enough, yet in a strange aspect, -- for where there was light in the picture we have shadow, and where there was shadow we have light. But while we look it seems to fade again, as if it would disappear. Have no fear of that; it is only deepening its shadows. Now we place it under the running water which we have always at hand. We hold it up before the dull-red gas-light, and then we see that every line of the original and the artist's name are reproduced as sharply as if the fairies had engraved them for us. The picture is perfect of its kind, only it seems to want a little more force. That we can easily get by the simple process called "intensifying" or "redeveloping." We mix a solution of nitrate of silver and of pyrogallic acid in about equal quantities, and pour it upon the pictured film and back again into the vessel, repeating this with the same portion of fluid several times. Presently the fluid grows brownish, and at the same time the whole picture gains the depth of shadow in its darker parts which, we desire. Again we place it under the running water. When it is well washed, we plunge it into this bath of hyposulphite of soda, which removes all the iodide of silver, leaving only the dark metal impregnating the film. After it has remained there a few minutes, we take it out and wash it again as before, under the running stream of water. Then we dry it, and when it is dry, pour varnish over it, dry that, and it is done. This is a negative, -- not a true picture, but a reversed picture, which puts darkness for light and light for darkness. From this we can take true pictures, or positives.

Let us now proceed to take one of these pictures. In a small room, lighted by a few rays which filter through a yellow curtain, a youth has been employed all the morning in developing the sensitive conscience of certain sheets of paper, which came to him from the manufacturer already glazed by having been floated upon the white of eggs and carefully dried, as previously described. This "albumenized" paper the youth lays gently and skilfully upon the surface of a solution of nitrate of silver. When it has floated there a few minutes, he lifts it, lets it drain, and hangs it by one corner to dry. This "sensitized" paper is served fresh every morning, as it loses its delicacy by keeping.

We take a piece of this paper of the proper size, and lay it on the varnished or pictured side of the negative, which is itself laid in a wooden frame, like a picture-frame. Then we place a thick piece of cloth on the paper. Then we lay a hinged wooden back on the cloth, and by means of two brass springs press all close together,-- the wooden back against the cloth, the cloth against the paper, the paper against the negative. We turn the frame over, and see that the plain side of the glass negative is clean. And now we step out upon the roof of the house into the bright sunshine, and lay the frame, with the glass uppermost, in the full blaze of light. For a very, little while we can see the paper darkening through the negative, but presently it clouds so much that its further changes cannot be recognized. When we think it has darkened nearly enough, we turn it over, open a part of the hinged back, turn down first a portion of the thick cloth, and then enough of the paper to see something of the forming picture. If not printed dark enough as yet, we turn back to their places successively the picture, the cloth, the opened part of the frame, and lay it again in the sun. It is just like cooking: the sun is the fire, and the picture is the cake; when it is Drowned exactly to the right point, we take it off the fire. A photograph printer will have fifty or more pictures printing at once, and he keeps going up and down the line, opening the frames to look and see how they are getting on. As fast as they are done, he turns them over, back to the sun, and the cooking process stops at once.

The pictures which have just been printed in the sunshine are of a peculiar purple tint, and still sensitive to the light, which will first " flatten them out," and finally darken the whole paper, if they are exposed to it before the series of processes which "fixes" and "tones" them. They are kept shaded, therefore, until a batch is ready to go down to the toning-room.

When they reach that part of the establishment, the first thing that is done with them is to throw them face down upon the surface of a salt bath. Their purple changes at once to a dull red. They are then washed in clean water for a few minutes, and after that laid, face up, in a solution of chloride of gold with a salt of soda. Here they must lie for some minutes at least; for the change, which we can watch by the scanty daylight admitted, goes on slowly. Gradually they turn to a darker shade; the reddish tint becomes lilac, purple, brown, of somewhat different tints in different cases. When the process seems to have gone far enough, the picture is thrown into a bath containing hyposulphite of soda, which dissolves the superfluous, unstable compounds, and rapidly clears up the lighter portion of the picture. On being removed from this, it is thoroughly washed, dried, and mounted, by pasting it with starch or dextrine to a card of the proper size. . . .

In our former articles we have spoken principally of stereoscopic pictures. These are still our chief favorites for scenery, for architectural objects, for almost everything but portraits,-- and even these last acquire a reality in the stereoscope which they can get in no other way. . . .

We, who have exhausted our terms of admiration in describing the stereoscopic picture, will not quarrel with the common taste which prefers the card-portrait. The last is the cheapest, the most portable, requires no machine to look at it with, can be seen by several persons at the same time, -- in short, has all the popular elements. Many care little for the wonders of the world brought before their eyes by the stereoscope; all love to see the faces of their friends.

The sitters who throng the photographer's establishment are a curious study. They are of all ages, from the babe in arms to the old wrinkled patriarchs and dames whose smiles have as many furrows as an ancient elm has rings that count its summers. The sun is a Rembrandt in his way, and loves to track all the lines in these old splintered faces. A photograph of one of them is like one of those fossilized sea-beaches where the rain-drops have left their marks, and the shell-fish the grooves in which they crawled, and the wading birds the divergent lines of their footprints, -- tears, cares, griefs, once vanishing as impressions from the sand, now fixed as the vestiges in the sandstone.

Attitudes, dresses, features, hands, feet, betray the social grade of the candidates for portraiture. The picture tells no lie about them. There is no use in their putting on airs; the make believe gentleman and lady cannot look like the genuine article. Mediocrity shows itself for what it is worth, no matter what temporary name it may have acquired. Ill-temper cannot hide itself under the simper of assumed amiability. The querulousness of incompetent complaining natures confesses itself almost as much as in the tones of the voice. The anxiety which strives to smooth its forehead cannot get rid of the telltale furrow. The weakness which belongs to the infirm of purpose and vacuous of thought is hardly to be disguised, even though the moustache is allowed to hide the centre of expression. . . .

We have learned many curious facts from photographic portraits which we were slow to learn from faces. One is the great number of aspects belonging to each countenance with which we are familiar. Sometimes, in looking at a portrait, it seems to us that this is just the face we know, and that it is always thus. But again another view shows us a wholly different aspect, which is yet as absolutely characteristic as the first; and a third and a fourth convince us that our friend was not one, but many, in outward appearance, as in the mental and emotional shapes by which his inner nature made itself known to us. . . .

The field of photography is extending itself to embrace subjects of strange and sometimes of fearful interest. We have referred in a former article to a stereograph in a friend's collection showing the bodies of the slain heaped up for burial after the Battle of Melegnano. We have now before us a series of photographs showing the field of Antietam and the surrounding country, as they appeared after the great battle of the 17th of September. These terrible mementos of one of the most sanguinary conflicts of the war we owe to the enterprise of Mr. Brady of New York. We ourselves were on the field upon the Sunday following the Wednesday when the battle took place. It is not, however, for us to bear witness to the fidelity of views which the truthful sunbeam has delineated in all their dread reality. The photographs bear witness to the accuracy of some of our own sketches in a paper published in the "Atlantic Monthly " for December, 1862. The " ditch" is figured, still encumbered with the dead, and strewed, as we saw it and the neighboring fields, with fragments and tatters. The "colonel's gray horse" is given in another picture, just as we saw him lying.

Let him who wishes to know what war is look at this series of illustrations. These wrecks of manhood, thrown together in careless heaps or ranged in ghastly rows for burial, were alive but yesterday. How dear to their little circles far away, most of them ! -- how little cared for here by the tired party whose office it is to consign them to the earth! An officer may here and there be recognized; but for the rest, -- if enemies, they will be counted, and that is all. "80 Rebels are buried in this hole" was one of the epitaphs we read and recorded. Many people woidd not look through this series. Many, having seen it and dreamed of its horrors, would lock it up in some secret drawer, that it might not thrill or revolt those whose soul sickens at such sights. It was so nearly like visiting the battle-field to look over these views, that all the emotions excited by the actual sight of the stained and sordid scene, strewed with rags and wrecks, came back to us, and we buried them in the recesses of our cabinet as we would have buried the mutilated remains of the dead they too vividly represented. Yet war and battles should have truth for their delineator. . . . The honest sunshine
                         "Is Nature's sternest painter, yet the best";
and that gives us, even without the crimson coloring which flows over the recent picture, some conception of what a repulsive, brutal, sickening, hideous thing it is, this dashing together of two frantic mobs to which we give the name of armies. The end to be attained justifies the means, we are willing to believe; but the sight of these pictures is a commentary on civilization such as a savage might well triumph to show its missionaries. Yet through such martyrdom must come our redemption. War is the surgery of crime. Bad as it is in itself, it always implies that something worse has gone before. Where is the American, worthy of his privileges, who does not now recognize the fact, if never until now, that the disease of our nation was organic, not functional, calling for the knife, and not for washes and anodynes?

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