Hannibal Eugene Hackett
A bored 25-year-old in Crescent City, California.
Journal forA happy thought has struck me--I will keep a journal: it may be interesting to my friends on the other side, but if not it will have answered its purpose by partially occupying my time during the irksomeness of idleness in this "Sleepy Hollow" of existence.
Crescent City, Jan. 1, 1860.
The old year is dead, and let it sleep in oblivion. To me a retrospection of the years has nothing of pleasure, and if here and there a bright spot appears in the view, it only serves by contrast to render the picture more dark and gloomy. So let it slumber.
With the future only have I to deal, and in after years this journal may furnish some waymarks, when the mind, in looking back, may linger for a moment, which otherwise would be lost in chaos and obscurity.
I am still as in days gone by looking forward, but happiness, mayhap in long abeyance, has almost ceased to be a hope. I think I see it in the dim distance, but when I approach, it vanishes like the rainbow or mirage. I am now twenty-five years old, and what have those years brought to me? Nothing except twenty-five. It took my last dollar to bring me to California, and now--what now? I do not know. "I think 'tis somewhat better here than there," and were it not for a few [omission], I would never return to Maine again.
It is wild, dark and stormy without and quite in keeping with my state of mind.
Jan. 2, 1860.
Another day of the new year has been added to the eternal past. Time stops not at any of the little events of man, nor even at the birth of its infant year, but impatient and incorrigible hurries on to succeeding ages. A day, a week, a month, a year, a century--all are alike in time's relentless, endless, tireless flight. And what are we? We "eat, drink, toil, tremble, laugh, weep, sleep and die." And there is the last of us.
But no more speculation. Estoy dolorido. ["I'm in pain."] I will think of the agreeable--of this "goodly" western land.
"Εοπερε, παωτα ϕερεις,We have received a number of New Year's calls today--as yesterday was Sunday they were postponed till today. The Messrs. Baxter, and Dugan, Ormon, Eldridge, Baker, Drs. Miller and Mason, etc. Tonight I have read The Diadem. 'Tis a work of rare sentiment, beauty and refinement. The illustrations are in the highest style of art, though I fancy a sort of sameness in the portraiture engravings. "The Highland Reaper," the frontispiece, is a splendid picture--the expression is so perfectly illustrative of the supposed state of her mind in the reminiscences involved in the accompanying poetry. "Esther Copeland" is a very characteristic illustration of vanity, hypocrisy and folly. The "Maid of Foro" I consider the most beautiful and interesting, though others would probably think differently.
Φερεις οευου, ϕερεις αιγα,
Φερες ματερε παιδα."
[??--"Now you have no one, you have a goat, you are a fake kid."]
I have also been reading from Byron, and the "Poetry of the Ancients." Thus I close this nasty, rainy, gloomy day and my livraison ["reading"].
Rain, rain, rain. Nevertheless have passed this day more cheerily than the preceding. Have not been out today. I do not like the saloons--I always had an aversion to such society: nothing but drink, and witless, mindless mirth. I always leave such places in worse temper than when I enter.
Have been reading Roman history. What a devil of a set they were. Maximian was made for a soldier, but not an emperor. His promotion was like making your ass your master because he can pack a bigger load than thou.
I think I would rather live now than at any former period, and a thousand years hence than now, but it matters little when a man plays his part in the great farce which has been going on since Adam. It does not occupy him long, and then--what then? "I do not know, no more do you." But "why should a living man complain," says Job. This oracular remark of the man of Nod* silences all complaint on my part, whether lawful or expedient, so I will smoke my cigar and smoke the matter out of my head.
*Damn the quotation--I had spelled Job with a double d, and have made him a resident of Nod to rhyme with him. Viz, it should be--the Nod is all in my head.
Got up this morning at half past twelve to sit up with Tommy. He is very badly, though we speak encouragingly to him. Dr. M-----, an old ass, has been poisoning him with calomel and other delicious potions for the last six weeks, and now admits in consultation 'tis not the complaint he has doctored for! So much valuable mercury all thrown away. O, what a set of dunces we trust our lives to.
I have been lucubrating this morning in "Byron's Life and Letters" by Thos. Moore. Byron's character has been termed difficult, incomprehensible &c. I do not think so. He lived in an age of popular vices, if I may so speak, when, as is indeed too much the case in our own time, licentiousness and intemperance were, by tacit acknowledgment, accounted evidences of smartness. Lord Byron was a person of ardent temperament, and the most lively passions, accordingly, in this vitiated state of public morals, insofar as he excelled the rabble mind, so far he exceeded them in dissipation, and the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions in his life arose probably from the continual struggle going on between his perverted ambition and his better, nobler nature. Nevertheless, to these very causes is no doubt attributable his great power and success as a poet. With his knowledge of the passions, and of mankind generally, acquired by familiarity with the darker traits of human nature, who, without this experience, could so faithfully and powerfully delineate them!
"'Tis pity, though, in this sublime world, that pleasure's a sin and sometimes sin a pleasure." Um! but I hate reviewing and metaphysics above all things, so no more of this.
My time is growing confoundedly irksome in this accursed place.
Carajo, as the Spanish say. I wish I was out of it, and nothing but "filthy lucre" keeps me here. No business, no amusement, no life--no news--nothing. The steamer is expected tonight, the only event to vary the everlasting, petrifying, stupidly comatose monotony of this lugubrious borough. I wonder if I shall get any letters. I hope so, but "hope cheats us from afar." My friends, if I have any, treat me shabbily--no letters for two months--convenit! if they continue I will abjure them all.
Rose at 8 o'clock and breakfasted. Coffee good. Steamer not arrived. Weather rainy as usual--myself habitant ["living"] as usual too I might add. Can do nothing but keep hours and serve the ladies. Have been helping them on camisas*--rather like it--it turns one's thoughts in a pleasant direction. And then, you always do everything just right, and are always commended. *ladies' shirts [The operators of his boarding house are apparently sewing blouses.]
Have been reading Dr. Kane's Arctic Explorations. Kane was a great man, and his portrait is characteristic. You see in his countenance as plainly as words could express it that firmness of purpose, that indomitable energy, which carried him through so many hardships, so many perils, to the consummation of his enterprise, and his own immortal fame.
Mem. Will write some letters tomorrow. Though my friends don't deserve any, yet it will be a diversion.
12 o'clock mezzanotte
The night is wild and boisterous, and the wind is howling and shrieking like the wail of evil spirits. Such weather makes me gloomy. I am naturally of that time of mind, and fear that it grows upon me. Mr. Dugan and Baker called in the evening--played a few games of euchre and got beat, and must now write to mon père cher [mon cher père="my dear father"], and also to mi señora María [my lady Mary].
Sat up all last light, consiguiente [consequently] was up this matin betimes. Read from Dr. Kane's works, and some in Robinson Crusoe, which I had never read. Breakfasted at 9 o'clock, and have since been hard at work. Felt very unlovable tonight, and loup-garouish [like a werewolf].
What kind of a wife would M------ make? She seems quite practicable, and has the three good points which Julian [sic] enumerated, viz: "Fair-haired, fair-breasted, and easy to move," besides perhaps others perdue [lost].
Confoundedly sleepy, and--
Rose late this morning, as usual. Read some in the "British Poets" and translated a little Spanish.
I am getting ineffably ennuyé [bored], the result of having no fixed employment. A desultory life is misery. I believe most people are all wrong in their plan of life--"They aim so high they will o'ershoot the mark." Conticinio [dead of night].
Have written a long letter to T----- W----- and put it in the post. If I had it back again I would burn it. I am conscious of some absurdities, all through carelessness, for I believe I am not more stupid than the rest of them.
Il vous souhaite le bon soir.C. C. Beekman Papers, Mss 916 Box 5, Oregon Historical Society Research Library The 1862 entry was written immediately after the battle between the Monitor and Merrimac. Hackett was apparently in the theatre of war at the time and might have learned of the battle before writing this.
["He (sic) wishes you a good evening."]
Sunday, Jan. 8, 1860.
The holy Sabbath! and yet, because it is the Sabbath I lay abed this morning till near noon. I do not go to church--these canting Methodists have no interest for me. I am conscious of a slow, gradual change in my character. I was once in my simple youth and ignorance religiously inclined, and many a prayer have I sent up to "the great God above." Can it be that the gentle, affectionate, confiding little boy of that period, and the sad skeptic of this, are identical?
"The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall,
Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise
The meanest thing that crawled beneath my eyes;
But now, so callous grown, so changed from youth--"
"Eheu, fugaces, posthume, posthume, labuntur anni" ["Alas, Posthumus, the years glide swiftly away"], and so what are we hurrying [for]?
The steamer is expected tonight, and I must send a letter to mi querida hermana [my dear sister], which
'Rose late--read & wrote &c. Took violent exercise in the afternoon, almost to exhaustion. Tonight the steamer arrived with the eastern mail. No letters for me, and I'm as savage as a bear. However, I shall have no answers to write, but to be forgotten by one's friends is damnedly provoking anyway, especially when you have tried all you could to please them, but I am (or is) a pronoun that is not demonstrative, and I will let them know that I can be as indolent as the laziest of them.
The Columbia brings me sad news of the loss of the Northerner on the 5th inst. off Cape Mendocino, and 35 lives. She has been running between San Francisco and Victoria, V.I. and was on her way to the latter place at the time of the accident. The conduct of the officers is highly spoken of, nevertheless I think they must have been culpable in hugging the shore so closely.
What after all are my disappointments at not hearing from my friends to many who hear from theirs only to learn that they are forever lost by the wreck of the Northerner.
Little done, and little to record. Breakfasted at 11½ o'clock. Weather fine.
Have written a letter to my Uncle Joseph, San Francisco, and read the papers. Congress wrangling, as usual.
I am inveterately given to sleep lately. But I believe my chief happiness consists in sleep; however, it is denounced by the philosophic, the metaphysic and the ethic, and so are most pleasures.
The Crescent City Herald was an abortion today, about the size of your hand. Its "father" says it was all for the want of paper, which God grant he may not want in his future bringings forth.
Have eaten, drunken, slept, and, and--I don't know what else.
The most important news by the late arrival is that of a treaty between the U.S. and Mexico, by which the latter cedes to our government Lower Cal. and Sonora, together with a portion of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for a "way" between the two oceans.
Mexico presents at present a deplorable aspect. It is that of a nation divided against itself, and fast degenerating, by its intestine [sic] disorders, into hopeless anarchy. The Spanish character is totally incompatible with a republic, being essentially wanting in those attributes of republicanism, moral stamina, incorruptible patriotism, and a correct appreciation of liberty.
It is now three hundred and forty years since Cortes and his followers entered the harbor of Vera Cruz, and saw towering afar off near the capital of the Montezumas the snowcapped peak of Orizaba, or "Snow Mountain." A hundred years later, our Anglo-Saxon fathers landed at Plymouth, and, I may say, laid the foundation of the future Republic. While we, through almost insuperable obstacles, from natural causes and the tyranny of those who should have been our friends and patrons, have overcome every hardship, and wrung a reluctant tribute even from oppression itself, and at last stand, in the pride of our strength and glory, among the first of nations, what is the condition of Mexico, a century our senior? "None are so poor to do her reverence." Since her independence, she has been relapsing from one degree of weakness to another, till her total imbecility is at hand. Her population is now less than was that of the ancient Aztecs, whom Cortes subdued.
In this state of affairs, that the intervention of the United States is not only an act of expending for our own safety and interests, but one of justice to Mexico and to humanity, cannot by any man who loves liberty be controverted or denied.
With our power, we may preserve her from that confusion and bloodshed to which she is tending, while, by giving her citizens the benefit of law and order, she may ultimately become what she is naturally adapted to be, a happy and prosperous country. (What a rigmarole.)
Rose early, though reluctantly, and breakfasted at 5½ o'clock in the silvery moonlight. Afterward was interested in the beauty of the rosy morning twilight--the amber-colored clouds changing to gold--"from gold to crimson," and finally to pearl, and as the sun came up from behind the distant hills, and threw his gorgeous beams over the dewy earth, and danced in lambent rays upon the waters of our little bay, I thought I had never seen anything more beautiful.
Quite poetical, truly, and this reminds me that I have written four stanzas of poetry today on friendship, which, as characteristic of my humor, are inveterately misanthropic, and worthy of the veriest cynic.
I have also been reading Tom Paine, at which M------ expressed a holy horror. This amused me exceedingly. The spirit of intolerance manifested against Paine arises usually from ignorance and superstitious prejudice. What if his views were erroneous at times. A person in the years of puberty, if he be not a dunce, should be able to judge for himself, and should be no more afraid to read Tom Paine than the Bible, where he reads everything from David to the Devil.
Company in this evening--conversation all fiddle-faddle, made a blunder, but did not care--ladies got me over it better than I desired.
Read Vale's Life of Tom Paine, and Butler's Hudibras. This latter reminds me of a little forensic incident which pleased me the other day. The defendants were endeavoring to disqualify the evidence of a principal witness on account of his suspicious character (which was really bad, he having been a state prison convict), and among others called against him was my uncle. The Major, who goes upon the principle that "honest men are scarce," thought it not best to say too much, and accordingly so ambiguously worded his testimony that it could be construed for either side without much twisting. In his speech, the counsel for the defense alluded to this, and humorously compared the Maj. to Sir Hudibras with the lines
"He could distinguish and divideThe quotation was so applicable that none who knew the Major's peculiarity could suppress a very broad grin, in which the judge himself joined.
A hair twist south and southwest side,
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands and still confute."
This day passed in idle thought, as useless to others as to me. "Sir, there's someone at the door must needs speak with you." (Exit.)
The weather is still beautiful, as it has been for several days--warm and bright as a May Day in old Maine. I like the climate of California, but its scenery I do not admire: it is dull, dreary and monotonous. It is called by many grand, beautiful and imposing. It may be grand and imposing, but as for beauty, I have never been able to discover it in any remarkable degree. Everything is on an immense scale, but height, depth, length and breadth are far different things from beauty. The sight of a tree three or four hundred feet high may impress me with wonder, but not the pleasure which a rose affords. In short, California scenery is to that of the East what a plain 7-ft. virgin is to one of comely proportions.
Nothing of new, as the French say. Several gentlemen called this evening, and one lady. Had considerable conversation and argument with her--discussed the merits of several of the poets--found her intelligent. I like to argue with a woman, but like also to be right, for they are remorseless, and if they get you "cornered," they push you like an irritable bull. If I had forty thousand dollars, I suppose I would marry one of these wretches.
Have read Campbell's "British Poets," a very convenient work of reference, &c., &c., &c.
Sunday Jan. 15, 1860.
Rose late: breakfasted at 11 o'clock, which, by the way, is not far from our usual breakfasting in winter.
"When one," says Byron, "subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning--how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse."
Steamer in today--have read the papers--Congress not organized, and maneuvering.
Company fun this evening--hes and shes--married and unmarried--Miss A------ very good-looking and sprightly in conversation. Dr. S----- must be an ass to think of wooing her at his time of life, but if he has gold enough he will do, for
Mem. Must write a letter to my sister Julia, whom, when I think of it, I have neglected for a long time. She will wonder at this, and possibly feel hurt, but--but--I don't know what--"Whatever is, is right," though many a poor devil may be sacrificed in evolving it. My life is monotonous and desultory. Shut up in this little cranny of the world, we have nothing to do but suck our paws like a bear and slap the time away. But "I'll have done with it" un de ces jours ["one of these days"].
My friends, no doubt, are expecting great things of me. That I shall come home with a "golden fleece" and all that. No sooner does a Californian set foot in the eastern states than "How much has he got?" flies from mouth to mouth and is the stereotyped inquiry, which if he does not hear, he feels and sees in the countenance of every man, woman and child he meets. And if the gods have not favored him, why, be damned to him--every mother's son of them who has a copper and a nail to rattle will turn up his nose in sovereign contempt.
The weather is glorious. While writing this, I am sitting in my room without a fire, and have thrown open the door, the air being oppressively warm.
There is this difference between Cal. and New England, that in good weather there, some clouds are usually floating over the sky, while here they are not sun clouds in this climate and are almost sure precursors of rain.
Took a trip in dream last night, 3000 miles over the continent. Called on no one, however, but F. G. Butler Esq., and was happy on awaking that I had been in so good company.
Today have done nothing--nothing. This journal is something of a relief, but god knows who will want to read it. However it answers its purpose while I write by occupying my thoughts, and further I do not care.
I wish there were more women here: as it is, they are only an aggravation. There are so few, there is no room for comparison or selection, and any two-legged she, be she as ugly as Otway's "wrinkled hag," can command the most gallant attention. I like the manners of our women. If a California lady has petticoats and legs, she is not afraid to own it (or show it, I might almost add) instead of simpering absurdly at their mention like some hypocritic prudes I have seen--but the subject breeds discontent, so "no more on't."
Foggy, nasty, chilly day, and looks like rain. Eat, drink and sleep is the order of the day--and make merry if you can. Positively nothing to record. Damn the pen and damn this diary, and thus I euphoniously close, and go to bed.
Rode--dined--read--Boswell's Life of Johnson, London News, the weeklies, &c. Wrote a letter to my sister for the overland mail. Have also been studying Spanish--I like the Spanish--it is so copious, sonorous and musical. I commenced to study it in Massachusetts in 1856, but soon dropped it, and have given it no attention since, until lately.
The winter of '56 was the happiest period of my life, and yet I was glad to have done with it. The fact was, Andaba en dimes y diretes con M---y A----- [I was walking and gossiping with M---y A-----]. Such things, though they may amuse for a while, must be put an end to or they weary. Sino, se hace tarde. Bueno noche [sic]. [But it's getting late. Good night.]
Got me up late. I am getting as indolent as an alderman but what boots it? Why should a man waste all his best days in laying up money to leave, mayhap to a fool. And yet, men are measured, not by their intellect and ability, but by the size of their purse, and the women are as much ahead of the men in this respect as Eve was of Adam in deviltry.
Have been reading the papers. There are "mare's tails" in the political horizon, precursors of a struggle for 1860. Congress is in an imbroglio of bickerings. The Democrats are "proudly obstinate," and the Black Republicans in an agony of intrigue, haste and suspense. Buchanan seems destined to manufacture a little glory out of the Mexican question and certes the old gent's perseverance deserves some such reward.
I'm as cold as an iceberg, and--bon soir.
Ditto with yesterday, nothing to record worth the scratch of a pen. I have read a good deal of late, but desultorily--I never could confine myself to routine, and the keeping of this journal is a severe tax upon my longanimity.
Was out this evening till 10 o'clock--afterward at home in conversazione, and am now in my dormitory with my household gods around me, which are--no matter what. Have been thinking, but my thoughts take a direction which my pen must not follow, and could not if it would. 12 o'clock midnight--Have conjugated 5 Spanish verbs, smoked 5 pipes of Spanish tobacco, and dilapidated a chair in trying to kill an infernal cat that was concatenating in my apartments. So ends my diatribe.
It is twelve o'clock Saturday night, or rather the interregnum between the two days where Sunday from her primulat travil [Romanian for "first travel"] will soon assume her throne and Saturday retire into the dim obscurity of the past. Farther than this trite metaphor, what can be said of today? Nada sé, absolutamente. [I don't know anything absolutely.] (The frequent recurrence of barbarism in my journal might seem to another pedantic, but as I do not write for others, the critique is all my own.) The day just past has had no interest for me further than that it connects the yesterday and tomorrow of my life, and thus preserved the thread of chronology, and my unprofitable existence.
Shall I go to church tomorrow? Was today very politely invited to attend by the "dispenser of truth" (or with truth). Whether for my spiritual good, or his own pecuniary benefit, I am not at liberty to say, but when that redoubtable hat as large as a churn is passed 'round he always manifests a lively interest. "Man delighteth not me," and these hypocritic long-faced, stupid Methodist jackasses in particular. I have just parted company with one at a card table, who will doubtless tomorrow, with the effrontery of a wh--e, preach anathemas on such immoralities.
Got me up at 9 o'clock and breakfasted at 11. We go to bed late, and rise late. Do not go to church today. I [would] rather smoke a cigar.
I fear a few more years will make me a misanthrope, but I should hope not. The world is full of selfishness, and hypocrisy is the varnish that covers the defects--it extends everywhere. You meet it on the street, at your neighbor's, in the house of God--and in your own home. "Ay, there's the nut." You feel it then, and it strikes your heart.
I have been thinking of my mother tonight. O! if she had lived--she was one of the noblest of women. I have often wished I had a portrait of her, but unfortunately there is none in existence. I think I could paint, were I acquainted with the art, a correct picture of her from recollection, though I was but nine years old when she died, but her countenance is still indelibly impressed upon my memory.
The days are prepossessing and the nights fair and frosty; notwithstanding, I had a diabolical dream last night which might have furnished a new suggestion for Dante's Inferno. Just imagine a person confined upon his back, and scalding water dripping on his bowels from a hole in the ceiling. Nature smiles and man reviles. The "times" are duller than a country schoolroom. The most really exhilarating and invigorating thing of late was the appearance of a beautiful young lady on the street today--a stranger in town--with her convoy. Now it must be known that such visits, in our masculine dominion, are like those of angels in all respects.
With eyes and mouths dilated, our fascinated young gents gazed upon the joyous spectacle--
I pretermit and go to bed.
The days are cold but silvery bright. We never have snow at this place, though there are vast quantities in sight from the Battery Point on the distant line of the Siskiyous. Those mountains, when viewed by moonlight, present a very romantic and mysterious appearance, stretching to the north and south in serried columns, all in white, like a cavalcade of Death's pale horsemen.
Weather beautiful. Our winters are like the last part of Oct. in Maine.
Went to a horse race this afternoon. Saw all the world there, and four whores on the way in a carriage stuck in the mud. They were in a fury, and I heard them call the driver in so many words--a God damned blockhead. We rode on and left them in their glory, or rather fury.
Company called this evening--cards, conversation, scandal, &c., &c.
Jan. 26, 1860.
Today is my birthday--I'm 26 years old. How long! a fading dream, I see them dimly--a little cot upon the hillside--Mother--father--sister--brothers--
I feel a silly weakness tonight and a sadness unusual even for me as I recall the past--the dear ones gone--my cheerless life--and emotions I cannot control crowd my bosom, and the tears fall thick upon the paper while I write.
To twenty-six I've dragged along
Through toil and sorrow, pain and wrong,
And what of value have they brought?
Nothing; I've seen the world's fierce strife,
And hated man, and hated life,
And still live on, and still to naught
My waning life, my fleeting years,
I see them dimly through my tears,
A part of Time's vast cavalcade--
Why should I stay them? The long train
of ages have all passed in vain
Since evanescent man was made.
Steamers arrived with mail &c.
Received a letter from my sister Rachel, which puts me in better humor than I supposed myself capable of.
By the way, she writes a very pleasing letter, and shows more genius and facility than I expected, though I knew her to be a girl of much good sense. Strange there are traits in people's character that we never understand until we are separate from them. Her style and diction are good: if she would use a little more confidence, and not write as if she feared she should say too big a thing, it would be an improvement.
Rose with the sun, agreeable to the habitude of my youth, but though bent to it when a twig, I have not inclined to it very regularly in my treeage.
Have taken a long walk about the city, and feel tired tonight. Called on several friends, and had a long "talk" with a literary gentleman on "these degenerate days," and the perverted taste of society. "A lamentable decline of interest in literature," "aversion to clubs and associations for intellectual improvement," "a tendency to dissipation and pleasure," &c., &c. were some of the points of this learned discussion. Tonight cards and insipid conversation, which I escape, rather impolitely, at an early hour.
Another Sabbath, and spent much like former ones in sluggishly lying in bed till too late for church, and eating and swilling the rest of the day, making myself an epicurian philosopher.
Several persons called in the evening--a learned talk on crinoline and the gospel, and--I wait for another day.
Heard the birds singing merrily in the trees this morning before I was up. I listened to them a long time in dreamy pleasure. It carried me back to my boyhood days, when I heard them in the groves on the old homestead, myself as happy as they, contented in the present--careless for the future. "All things have now become estranged," and, mingling in the world's great alembic, my own change is no less remarkable than that of my time.
The day passed unimportantly, and--good night.
Mail steamer departed this morning before I rose, consequently did not get a letter posted to my sister Rachel as I ought, for which neglect I do not deserve the least mercy at her hand. But I will write her a good long one next mail that will make her forgive me everything. By the way, she writes that they think of me often: is it possible that anybody ever remembers me with regard? me, 6000 miles away by ocean? perhaps--I can remember--and some things that I wish I might forget.
I have been thinking today of Miss -------. She was beautiful, respectable and witty: what more could I ask? And yet I obstinately threw her away, or rather my fate would not allow me to be happy. It was a recent amour, and unlike some of my former ones, sincere and honorable. My friends never suspected it. But now, no more. And 'tis but a miserable consolation to remember that I might, perhaps, if she would, have been happy.
Wednesday, February 1, 1860.
Came home tonight much fatigued in consequence of an absurd expedition I have been on this afternoon. I have not yet shaken off all my boyish nature and it is still frequently leading me into foolish adventures, which as soon as ended my manhood condemns.
Saw something as I walked up street which warned me against matrimony. It was so true an illustration of waning connubial affection, and of the impatience of marital fidelity inherent in some natures, of which I fear mine is an example. It was a young acquaintance of mine, lately married, walking in "close order" with his wife's pretty niece, while the spouse was left to shift for herself. I have seen other indications which confirm my belief that he likes the girl best. She is the lovelier of the two, and the phiz is quite natural. I think I might court the young lady, and save them much trouble (the married folks), but then, the remedy would be as bad as the disease.
Feb. 2, 1860.
Rose early this morning, and I felt myself very amiable, but all my sweetness of temper was dispelled by events of the day. Have been full of business, but the more I do the less have I to record. I do not like to write my actions--they are seldom interesting in the retrospect. Came near getting my leg broken this afternoon, through the carelessness of a damned sheephead of a fellow, whom I think I called by his proper name at the time. Tonight, cards, conversation and myself a few Spanish verbs.
Feb. 3, 1860.
I have never known weather in any part of the world, at any time of the year, to compare with this. The bright blue sky, the temperate warmth of the sun, the gentle breezes from the mountains, the absence of any annoying features, all render it supremely beautiful. The moonlight nights are enchanting, and the young ladies are in an agony of romance. But I am sick of admiring the climate--it is all we have to say when we meet in this sluggard of a town.
I am called away by a young lady--Addio.
Have been unhappy all day, in direct opposition to my historical philosophy. Existence is made up of contradictions, and dissimulation is its philosophy, I believe. A man may say, "I will banish sorrow," but yet he is not happy. There may be an external semblance of gladness, and even gaiety, while the heart is sunk in the gloom of wretchedness, and the bosom is crowded with a volcano of emotions becoming but the more dangerous by their confinement. Yet he who knows the world will be prepared for its vicissitudes, for the past is the prophet of the future. But this knowledge is seldom acquired but by the destruction of the fondest hopes, and the immolation of the dearest qualities of the heart.
"False world, thou ly'st
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
Of new-coined treasure;
A paradise, that has no stint,
No change, no measure--
A painted cask, but nothing in't,
Nor wealth, nor pleasure."
Sunday, Feb. 5, 1860.
Got me up very late, with a cursed headache, but it passed off with coffee &c. Went to church--purchased three shillings' worth of religion, and came home with much self-complacency, spirits exuberant, and becoming somewhat loquacious I soon raised a tempest among some lady visitors, who evidently thought I was intruding upon their prerogative. Miss A------ was "highly indignant"; however, it "blew over," and I retired unharmed. By the way, H----- made a remark for the salvo pudore of which I would not have answered. But among us virtuous people, we do not fear a little latitude in conversation, knowing, like Donna Julia, that though we relax somewhat from prudery, our self-control will always prevent any improper consequence from being sure to follow.
Steamer Columbia arrived last night with the mails. Have read the papers &c. Tonight was urged to go to church--wouldn't go. This evening is glorious. It reminds me of a similar moonlight night at the East, when I walked four miles with a young lady, and four miles back, without feeling tired. Also, drank so much old cider on the way, with some other young gents, that I lost my girl (that is, afterwards) and ran two miles going home, trying to outrun the moon.
Will write a letter and go to bed.
Rose at six.
Rode--read--wrote &c. The weather has at length changed. The wind is shrieking wildly and mournfully tonight; the "whitecaps" are licking the surface of the bay. The moon is struggling through the dark masses of broken clouds, while a number of fires along the mountainous coast throw 'round all a lurid glare, like the livid coloring of hell.
No visitors tonight and I retire early, for what with women and fleas and cards &c., I have failed to get much sleep of late.
The weather, last night, portended a long storm, so common in this climate in the winter season, and it did rain through the night, but I was agreeably surprised on awaking this morning to see the sun struggling for admittance through my window curtains. The day has indeed been more lovely than usual, and this evening is enchanting.
The silvery rays of the moon fall softly over the widespread landscape; the dewdrops are glittering in the mellow light on flower and leaf; softly and sweetly the nightingale is singing in the myrtle shrubbery, and over all the broad blue sky, with here and there a pearly cloud sailing over its expanse like some gentle fairy, and the stars twinkling modestly in the moonlight as though in gladness at the sight--all this justifies enthusiasm for the beauties of nature.
But such sentimentality is not characteristic of me, and I only admit it because I can think of nothing else to write in these stupid times. Manly spirit and vigor are in danger of being extinguished by desuetude, and I really believe if such petrifying dullness were to continue any great length of time, we should all become old women, and cease to propagate. Nothing done to record.
Rose early this morning--under protest--at the importunities of the ambitious women. Confoundedly dejected all day. An anomalous and indescribable sensation of wretchedness frequently comes over me, and a painful fear of I do not know what--and without any apparent cause. It is not well. I must guard against such hypochondria.
Have been thinking today on the depravity of California society. It is the damnedest country I ever saw. Almost every man is a roué and drunkard, and the women are not a whit behind. Virtue and chastity sound here like terms of mythology. Evening passed as usual.
Some consummate fools looking over my shoulder bring the day's scribbling to a close.
Read and written a good deal today. Consequently have little for this receptacle of the fragments of my vagrant thoughts. Have looked over my old manuscripts, about half a bushel of which I committed to the flames. [Some survive among the miscellaneous Beekman papers at the Oregon Historical Society.] This will probably share the same fate not long hence.
The frogs are in full chorus tonight. The more gloomy their surroundings, the happier do they seem. How different from man. And what makes the difference? Mind! And was mind created for misery? "That is the question."
I do not know.
Feb. 10, 1860.
Today is but a counterpart of the preceding--rode in the morning--read--
wrote--&c., subsequently, and visitors and conversation this evening, completing the diurnal round of sluggish existence. Received a very curious letter today from a whilom inamorata, full of crimination and imprecation. She evidently thinks she has discovered a process for "blowing up" men--even three thousand miles away--which Shakespeare's shrew inquired for in vain, but I fear she will miscarry (I mean her plans). Only think what I might have done in my youthful inexperience.
Saturday, Feb. 11.
March 10, 1862.
Two years have elapsed since I was last scribbling in this journal--years which have brought events of momentous import not only to me individually, but to the world. The most remarkable and interesting event which has transpired, at least to every American, has been the rebellion of the entire body of the slave states against the government. That glorious fabric, the boast of our fathers, the pride of their sons, the envy and wonder of the world, has been in imminent danger of tumbling to pieces from the accursed machinations of the most damnable traitors that ever disgraced the form of humanity. The capital was nearly taken, forts were captured by coups de main, the sick ejected from hospitals, arsenals and dockyards destroyed or seized, public property of every description confiscated or ravaged, and the power of the federal government insulted, and set at defiance. The country, from long years of peace, though having the germs of strength, was, as one may say, without army or navy, or warlike appliances. Moreover the people were struck with amazement at the suddenness and unnaturalness of the blow, aimed at the very heart of American liberty, and by Americans themselves. Then things for a period seemed to paralyze the arm of government, while meantime the diabolical schemes of the traitors had well nigh been consummated.
But the shock to the natural energies could not last. A terrible--to the rebels--
revulsion in the public feeling took place, and the North and West arose in their majesty. Seventy-five thousand men were first called out by President Lincoln, but to keep pace with rebel activity, the number was almost immediately increased until the thundering tread of over six hundred thousand men among our hills and valleys, the ring of workshops and armories in turning out materiel of war, the energy in our navy yards in providing for the marine service, and the clangor of arms in every city and village from Maine to California showed that the North was now fully aroused, and that treason must be put down. Some eleven months have elapsed since the fall of Fort Sumter, the first conflict in arms,
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New Vineyard, Franklin County, Maine;
Franklin L. Hackett, farmer, 49
Deborah Hackett, 25
Julia Hackett, 21
Abigail Hackett, 19
Hannibal Hackett, 16
Rachel Hackett, 14
Abraham Hackett, 9
Susan Hackett, 7
Emma Hackett, 2
Joseph Hackett, 4 months
All born in Maine.
U.S. Census, enumerated August 24, 1850
Crescent City, Del Norte County, California:
Hannibal Hackett, 26, laborer, born in Maine
U.S. Census, enumerated June 4, 1860
Benicia, Solano County, California:
H. E. Hackett, 30, U.S. soldier, born in Maine
U.S. Census, enumerated June 13, 1870
St. Augustine's College
Hannibal E. Hackett, Military Instructor
Major; attained rank February 5, 1874, commissioned February 9, 1874
"Roster of the National Guard of California," Report of the Adjutant General of the State of California for the Years 1873, 1874 and 1875, page 47
MILITARY COMMISSIONS.--Commissions were issued from general headquarters yesterday as follows: To Hannibal E. Hackett, as Major of the National Guard of California and Military Instructor of St. Augustine College, Benicia, vice John H. Dickenson, resigned; also, to Mathias Dixheimer, as First Lieutenant of the Sherman Guard, Company H, Fourth Infantry Regiment, Fourth Brigade.
Sacramento Daily Union, February 11, 1874, page 3
The faculty is comprised as follows: Rev. William P. Tucker, Rector, Teacher of Greek, Philosophy and Sacred Studies; Elijah Broadbent, Headmaster and Teacher of Higher Mathematics and Natural Sciences; Major H. E. Hackett, Military Commandant and Teacher of Mathematics and Geography; M. T. Sickal, Teacher of English Grammar and Elocution; F. W. Gabriel, Teacher of Vocal and Instrumental Music and Grammar; Mrs. C. E. Gabriel, Principal of Lower School and Teacher of Spanish; Mons. Henrie Mowron, Teacher of French.
"College of St. Augustine," Pacific Churchman, San Francisco, June 11, 1874, page 5
College of St. Augustine, Benicia.--[Incor. 1868.] Board of Trustees--Pres., the Bishop. Vice-Pres., Rev. J. Lloyd Breck, D.D. Sec., Rev. W. P. Tucker. Rector of College, Rev. W. P. Tucker, A.M. Headmaster, E. Broadbent. Commandant, Maj. H. E. Hackett.
William G. Farrington, ed., Church Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1875, Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, page 26
H. E. Hackett to A. S. Hackett, lot on S.E. cor. of Sadowa and Capitol sts., E. 50x125 . . . Gift
"Real Estate Transactions," San Francisco Call, September 18, 1890, page 6
Belmont School, San Mateo County, California:
Hannibal E. Hackett, 66, teacher, born Jan. 1834, married 25 years, born in Maine
Abby Hackett, 43, born Sept. 1856 in California, parents born in New Hampshire
U.S. Census, enumerated June 29-30, 1900
These pensions were granted: California--Original--Hannibal E. Hackett, Belmont, $6. Increased--John A. Owen, Pasadena, $17.
"Of Interest to People of the Pacific Coast," San Francisco Call, January 1, 1902, page 9
MAJOR HACKETT DIES.
(The Bee's Special Service.)
WOODLAND (Yolo Co.), September 8.--Mrs. F. W. Blanchard received a telegram Monday announcing the death at Belmont of her brother-in-law, Major H. E. Hackett. Deceased had been a frequent visitor to Woodland. He was a noted educator. For a number of years he was an instructor in St. Augustine's Academy, Benicia. Later he was a teacher in Brewer's Academy at San Mateo and at the time of his death was a member of the faculty of Reed's Military Academy at Belmont.
Sacramento Bee, September 8, 1909, page 7
CANCER CARRIES OFF MAJOR H. E. HACKETT
Former Military Instructor to Be Buried Today
(Special Dispatch to the Call)
BELMONT, Sept. 8. --Major H. E. Hackett, until recently recorder and commandant at Belmont School, died at the Gardiner sanatorium in Belmont yesterday. He was at one time military instructor at St. Augustine's college at Benicia and afterward instructor of military tactics at St. Matthew's military school, San Mateo. For some months he had been suffering with cancer, which caused his death. Major Hackett was once a noncommissioned officer in the regular army and later a member of the national guard of California. A widow and son survive him. The funeral will take place at Benicia tomorrow.
San Francisco Call, September 9, 1909, page 5
HACKETT--Passed away, at Belmont, Cal., September 7, 1909, Major H. E. Hackett, formerly commandant at St. Augustine college, Benicia, Cal., and St. Matthew's military academy, San Mateo, Cal., and recorder and commandant of Belmont school, Belmont, Cal., 1889 to 1907. (Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles, Cal. papers please copy.)
The services will take place today (Thursday), September 9, 1909, at Cypress Lawn chapel, upon arrival of train leaving Belmont at 12:24 o'clock. Interment at Benicia. Please omit flowers.
San Francisco Call, September 9, 1909, page 11
Major Hannibal Eugene Hackett
Birth: January 1834, Maine
Death: September 7, 1909, San Mateo County, California
Burial: Benicia City Cemetery, Solano County, California
Married: Abigail Ann Sanborn (1855-1929) July 24, 1875, Solano County, California
Children: Lewis Wendell Hackett (1884-1962)
Last revised June 8, 2018