There is a kind of knowledge that men cannot get from books. It must be obtained from intercourse with the world, from mingling with men and mixing with society.
No place is better suited to any man than a city. The country serves to study nature. There all is fresh -- the trees are standing as nature formed them, the meadows smile with rural verdure, the little streams laugh along their many courses; all is natural, and all is beautiful.
It is otherwise in the city. There nature has surrendered to art. Green trees, and vernal meadows and smiling lawns give place to huge piles of brick and mortar. The melody of sweet birds is exchanged for the rumbling of drays; the whizzing of steam, the buzz of commerce, and the varied tones of hurried and busy men. The city is a great human hive. Comers and goers, buyers and sellers, strangers and friends, natives and foreigners, soldiers and civilians, greet the vision whithersoever we turn our eyes.
This morning I felt wearied with books, and determined to take a walk, and, by way of variety, to study one chapter of men. I was soon on Main street, the principal thoroughfare of this growing city, where I entered at once upon the task I had assumed.
Look! Everybody is in a hurry. No one walks except the aged and infirm. Everybody runs. Hurry is the word On, on is everybody's motto. Truly this is a fast age. People live fast, they travel fast, they come rich or poor fast, and they die fast.
Why is that tall man, who is engaged in leading that dray, so profane! He interlards every sentence he utters with some horrid imprecation. He swears as if he had notes before him. His oaths are new-fanged and far-fetched, and they are truly grating "to ears polite." I am told that profanity is by no means uncommon in the city. It is heard not only in the streets, but at the hotels, on the boats, in the cars, on the wharf, at the depots, in business houses, and even in the private circle. And the little boys see, are imitating their seniors, cursing and swearing almost before they can articulate words with distinctness. Is this a characteristic for Memphis, this far-famed Bluff City, the expected capital of the Confederate States? Is this the city known far and wide for the number and character of its churches and Sabbath schools? Is this the city on which Providence has bestowed so many advantages? Then, why is it so profane? Why is the disgusting habit tolerated by the city authorities? Would that not only Memphis, but the entire South, while shaking of the vassalage of the North would be divorced from all vice and stand forth in virtue, peerless among the nations of the earth!
There is a female in tattered rags, leading a sickly looking child along the pavement: I see that she is weeping. Some sorrow is brooding over her, or perhaps, some care or pressing want is gnawing, like a canker work, at her heart. How easily it is to be virtuous and honest, when free from temptation; but it is quite a different ting when loved ones are crying for bread, or shivering with cold. Many a man looks with horror upon one that will steal a loaf of bread to keep his wife and children form starving, who could not himself withstand strong temptation. His wife rolls in her carriage, or moves like a queen, in her comfortable mansion. Wealth has poured upon her its abundant stores. Her table is crowded with fish, and flesh, and fowl, and whatever else the market can furnish, or her fancy crave. She worships at fashion's shrine, and is, at least, a professed worshiper at the shrine of the cross. Might not a change in her circumstances, bring about a change in her husband's standard of morals! Let down that braided hair; exchange that costly silk for the coarsest of epparedy [sic] strip those delicate little fingers of the jewels that now sparked upon them; let that little hand, so soft and fair, be stained with exposure to cold, let that loved and lovely wife want for bread, and might not her doting husband rebel against the conventionalities of live, and, at least, feel strongly tempted to take by force what he could not otherwise obtain?
Here come several men in uniform. They are soldiers, and belong to one of the regiments camped near the city. They have left home to fight for their country, and are now only awaiting orders from headquarters to march. Two of the four are intoxicated, and can scarcely move along the street. The other two are striving to get them away from the drinkshops, and out to their camp. How disgustingly noisy they are! They are in a sad condition to meet the Yankees. The foe in whose hands they now are, slays more than those who come with sword and bayonet. His attacks are more to be dreaded. Mighty heroes have fallen before him. He who subjugated almost the entire civilized world; who supplanted kings and bartered empires; who left behind him whithersoever he went, the marks of desolation and ruin. Left at last under the attacks of this insidious foe. Then let others beware.
But, this study, as well as that of books, wearies me. I musts return to my room, It is said that "variety is the spice of life," and I will seek something of this, by studying and then walking, and by walking, and then studying. I wish t wander along the streets on Sabbath evening, and jot down whatever I see that my interest the reader.
Memphis, October 26, 1861
Memphis Commercial Appeal, October 30, 1861.
30, "MORE GUERRILLA OUTRAGES. HORSE STEALING AND CONSCRIPTING. ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF A MAN NAMED GRADY."
From gentlemen who have arrived in the city this morning, we learn that GARRISON [sic] and NEWSOM [sic], two noted rebel leaders, are playing a highhanded game with persons and property in the upper portions of Shelby and Tipton counties. Yesterday [29th] morning they made their appearance at the residence of DR. B.R. GAITHER, in Tipton county, and took away three head of horses (all they could find) and committed other depredations upon his property. They are arresting every man they can find who is able to bear a musket, and they declare it to be their intention to take away all the able bodied men in the county to the rebel conscript camps, there to be placed in the service of JEFFERSON I, king of rebeldom.
On last Friday [23rd], as MR. HAMP GRADY was returning from Memphis to his home, he was waylaid by a man named JACK BONDS, and his sons, who shot at him. He, however, escaped being the victim of their fell intentions with only a slight wound.
Society in the counties above is represented as being thoroughly broken up, no bond or tie is held sufficiently sacred to shield a man from outrage by those who were once his friends and neighbors, but now bitter political enemies. We repeat our conviction that there is but one remedy for all this, and that is for the banishment of the disloyal, and the enrollment and arming of the State militia, and the sooner the better.
Memphis Bulletin, October 30, 1863.
30, "CONJUGALITY AND FORTUNE TELLING."
Madame Belgraves, the Renowned Fortune Teller is now making her first tour in the South, and will make but a short stay in Memphis. All who wish to avail themselves of her extraordinary powers, would do well to call soon. Her manner of telling fortunes and selecting conjugal partners has astonished the most incredulous. She may be found for a few days longer at No. 18 Madison street, up stairs.
Memphis Bulletin, October 30, 1863.