Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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A Diary From Dixie.

January 21, 2014

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

January 21st.—Both of us were too ill to attend Mrs. Davis’s reception. It proved a very sensational one. First, a fire in the house, then a robbery—said to be an arranged plan of the usual bribed servants there and some escaped Yankee prisoners. To-day the Examiner is lost in wonder at the stupidity of the fire and arson contingent. If they had only waited a few hours until everybody was asleep; after a reception the household would be so tired and so sound asleep. Thanks to the editor’s kind counsel maybe the arson contingent will wait and do better next time.

Letters from home carried Mr. Chesnut off to-day. Thackeray is dead. I stumbled upon Vanity Fair for myself, I had never heard of Thackeray before. I think it was in 1850. I know I had been ill at the New York Hotel,[1] and when left alone, I slipped down-stairs and into a bookstore that I had noticed under the hotel, for something to read. They gave me the first half of Pendennis. I can recall now the very kind of paper it was printed on, and the illustrations, as they took effect upon me. And yet when I raved over it, and was wild for the other half, there were people who said it was slow; that Thackeray was evidently a coarse, dull, sneering writer; that he stripped human nature bare, and made it repulsive, etc.

[1] The New York Hotel, covering a block front on Broadway at Waverley Place, was a favorite stopping place for Southerners for many years before the war and after it. In comparatively recent times it was torn down and supplanted by a business block.

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