Rock And Roll Years 1959

The last couple of times I have posted episodes of The Rock And Roll Years I have put a list of first films of the year in question and secondly albums released in the year in question. I thought for this one that I would extend the range and I was thinking of poetry books published in the year, but it proved beyond my capabilities or maybe I just thought it wouldn’t work anyway so instead I’ve just repeated the films thing.

Films of 1959
Film Director
The 39 Steps Ralph Thomas
Les Quatre Cent Coups François Truffaut
Ben-Hur William Wyler
The Devil’s Disciple Guy Hamilton
Floating Weeds Yasujiro Ozu
The Gunfight At Dodge City Joseph M Newman
Hiroshima Mon Amour Alain Resnais
I’m All Right Jack John Boulting
Look Back In Anger Tony Richardson
Nazarin Luis Buñuel
North By Northwest Alfred Hitchcock
Our Man In Havana Carol Reed
Pickpocket Robert Bresson
Rio Bravo Howard Hawks
Shadows John Cassavetes
Some Like It Hot Billy Wilder
The World Of Apu Satyajit Ray

I don’t think I saw any of these films when they came out in 1959 but I almost certainly did see some films in that year when I was 5 years old. Most of these films I have seen at some time or another some in the cinema some on tv. A few of them I have either never seen or forgotten whether I’ve seen them or not and those are the ones that I would like to see most.

Here’s some random reminisces about some of them. Hiroshima Mon Amour was the first film I saw by Alain Resnais which was on BBC2 in about 1970 the first in a series of his films that they broadcast in the World Cinema programme which I think was late on a Thursday night back then. Other films included were Last Year At Marienbad and Muriel possibly more. When they first started that programme the first director they featured with a series was Luis Buñuel and the first film they showed in that sequence was The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de San Cruz from memory I would say that the film is about a serial killer who likes to hear a certain music-box being played while his victim is dying but I may be wrong about that. Also from memory I would say that there’s something correspondent with the look of the music-box and the miniature ballerina in David Lynch‘s Eraserhead but maybe that’s just my imagination. Nazarin wasn’t part of that BBC2 series and I can’t remember when or where I first saw it but it was much later. The first Buñuel film that I saw when it first came out at the cinema was The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie and that was in Jericho, Oxford.

The only time I saw Ben-Hur at the cinema was in Paris Easter 1975. It was dubbed into French so I may have missed some of the sense of the dialogue. One of the things it’s famous for is stuntsmen dying during the chariot race apparently this is untrue.

I would have given you a link to watch the whole film for The Devil’s Disciple but all the ones I could find are those ones where you have to click on a meaningless link and I just don’t trust those. I managed to find a couple of clips from the film (one of those I don’t think I’ve ever seen before) and the impression I got was that the American producer (Harold Hecht) in order to get the film to sell better in the USA emphasised the patriotic American elements and anti British army. Shaw‘s play is not really about that. Alexander Mackendrick was originally the director of the film but he was replaced during production probably because he didn’t approve of the way it was going. A number of Shaw’s plays have been turned into films but in my opinion never really succesfully. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

If there is one of these films that I saw in 1959 then that will be The 39 Steps and the more I think about that then the more it seems likely. I was 5 then and if the rest of the family wanted to go to the cinema it would have been simpler to take me with them rather than get a baby-sitter. And at that age I was perfectly capable of sitting quietly watching films for a couple of hours. Cinema for us then took place in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. I certainly remember watching this film very early in my life. The Forth railway bridge was just down the road from us and if we went to Edinburgh for the day to visit zoo or castle or both we would get the ferry along side it and fairly early on in my life I would have gone across the bridge in a train so the sequence of the film which happens on the bridge (pretty much copied from Hitchcock‘s superior 1935 version) would have been particularly meaningful for me. Later I read all the Richard Hannay books. I once wrote a song that was called Island Of Sheep. I’ve got the words somewhere but I can’t remember how the music went actually I could probably re-construct it if I could be bothered in fact I think I may have a recording of the music somewhere.

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end of august

I had to buy myself a new nylon string guitar earlier this year because I was having problems with the pick-up on my old one and anyway thought it was time to get a more expensive instrument. I chose a Taylor 314ce and I must say I’m happy with it. I’ve done some rough recordings recorded live at home not the best way to hear the guitar but quickly done that’s all I care really.

First of all I ran through Arvo Pärt‘s Für Alina – I could have played it better but there was no major mistake which can easily happen and also there were no cars driving past while I was playing. There was a dog I could hear barking but I can’t detect it on listening back. A car went past just as I finished so I left that in for good measure.

Für Alina

Also I recorded a version of my song Caspian Gates. There are some passing cars during this recording. Here are the words.

your mother gave you a motive
for your father to be dead
besides there were other reasons
for you to go ahead
you knew that you were better
of that you were sure
than a man who couldn’t cross a room
without falling on the floor

nothing comes to he who waits
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

to the land of the baby
brought up by a bear
came a man who as a baby
had been washed nearly everywhere
the story took you over
and led you in your mind
like a star that you followed
brightly as it shined

driven onwards by the fates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

your bed fixed in the doorway
so all can see you lie
it’s a sight even sad enough
to make a horse cry
and when at last you come
to seek some sort of shelter
it won’t be siwa
it’ll end in the delta

with all your loves and all your hates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

Caspian Gates

Actually I should have done a different song because I realise I posted the album recording of this song nearly a year ago. And I still haven’t updated the Music page on this site with some recordings from that album. Things will have to change.

Finally here’s an image of one of the contenders for the title of Caspian Gates – this is the Darial Gorge on the border between Georgia and Russia.

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granite mix 11

I think I mentioned before that this mix was to be a mix of things I’ve recorded from the radio over the years. It’s not something I do any more I can’t imagine spending the time. But I used to starting in the late 60s. At first it was to quarter-inch reel to reel. Then it was onto cassette which was what I recorded most of my radio recordings. Later I started to use mini-disc but by then I’d already slowed down in my recording habits.

The quality of the tracks is not brilliant in that they were recorded off the radio mainly onto cassette then in some cases kept for many years then digitised so there’s some crackle a bit of buzz and probably cases where there’s a subtle pitch change. I have mainly tried to make them live recordings in the radio studio or out at a gig but they may not all be – well one’s part of a dj set, that’s sort of live but there’s a couple I’m not sure about.

Thomas Morley was organist at St Paul’s Cathedral and composed many madrigals. He almost certainly knew Shakespeare as they lived nearby and London wasn’t that big back then apparently. He certainly wrote music for one of the playwright’s songs in a famous play. I don’t know who wrote the words for this song they are good.

Sleep, slumb’ring eyes; give rest unto my cares,
My cares, the infants of my troubled brain;
My cares, surpris’d with black despair,
Doth the assertion of my hopes restrain.
Sleep, then, my eyes, O sleep and take your rest,
To banish sorrow from a free born breast.

My freeborn breast, born free to sorrow’s smart,
Brought in subjection by my wand’ring eye,
Whose trait’rous sight conceiv’d that to my heart
For which I wail, I sob, I sigh, I die.
Sleep, then, my eyes, disturb’d of quiet rest,
To banish sorrow from my captive breast.

My captive breast, stung by these glist’ring stars,
These glist’ring stars, the beauty of the sky,
That bright black sky which doth the sunbeams bar
From her sweet comfort on my heart’s sad eye.
Wake, then, my eyes, true partners of unrest,
For sorrow still must harbour in my breast.

From a live concert of Paco Peña one of my favourite guitarists accompanied by another guitarist whose name I don’t know unfortunately. And I don’t know enough to say what type of piece this is siguiriyas or what have you.

Next is The Chemical Brothers well sort of it’s more like The Beatles really but it was a great moment when I heard this Essential Mix set one Saturday night in about 1996. Really you need to have more context than I’ve given here.

I was fortunate to see Paco Peña roughly around the time of the earlier recording and that is also true of this track by Oregon. I’m sure that the set on the recording is pretty much the same set that they did when I saw them in December 1990 at Hope Chapel.

This song by The Fall is taken from a radio session on the programme Mixing It which must have been sometime in 2005. Midnight In Aspen is the story of a dying Hunter S Thompson. I’ve got a better Fall radio session from an 80s John Peel programme but later on I’m using another Peel session. Anyway this is better sound quality.

I can’t remember when I taped this concert by Tadao Sawai but he died in 1997 so it must have been before then. The wikipedia page I have linked to only lists 1 album to his name which can’t be right. There are fortunately 2 albums of his on Itunes and for slightly less than 15 quid you can buy them both. Actually I might just do that.

From a Lou Reed gig broadcast on the radio in about 199? this is a version of A Dream which has Lou doing the vocals rather than John Cale who did them on the album (Songs For Drella) and the filmed performance of the album. I believe the words are taken from Warhol‘s diaries which I haven’t read but I will buy the book one day – gee wouldn’t that be great?

The Schnittke has a very quiet beginning – it’s a short piece and it’s very beautiful in a crystalline way. Without having listened to a great deal of his music I admire him greatly and I have got the underlying philosophy of his work and in a way shamelessly appropriated it myself. I can’t tell for sure whether I’ve included a full work here or just an excerpt of one, but I don’t see it matters and I hope he would agree with me

The oldest recording is this John Peel session which I did not record when it was first aired in about 1971 but later in the 80s when it was repeated. This session was issued on vinyl I believe in the Peel Sessions series and later there was a cd. Both formats are quite rare now. Syd‘s Two Of A Kind was only known to be recorded on this show – you can also find this on a compilation.

Finally a 1991 live concert recorded at the Royal Festival Hall. This was part 1 of the encore. Keith Jarrett is a very serious man and musician.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 11
Artist Title Comment
Thomas Morley Sleep Slumb’ring Eyes Unknown performers
Paco Peña Unknown See notes above
Chemical Brothers Chemical Beats/Tomorrow Never Knows Excerpt from Essential Mix
Oregon Unknown Live circa 1990
The Fall Midnight In Aspen Mixing It session
Tadao Sawai Unknown See notes above
Lou Reed A Dream See notes above
Alfred Schnittke Voices Of Nature? See notes above
Syd Barrett Two Of A Kind John Peel session
Keith Jarrett Somewhere Over The Rainbow See notes above
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18th july gig

IMG_0031 (1)

I have a little gig on Saturday night at the Adam & Eve pub in Hotwells. I’m doing it with my good friend Jane Thomason which seemed like a good idea. Initially Everton Hartley will also feature – he has another gig on Saturday so he’ll only be around for the 1st half hour (9-9.30).

The plan is that Everton and I will do our guitar duo thing, then Jane will do a set of her wonderful songs and then she is going to accompany me on violin for a mostly instrumental set. We’ve only got 5 pieces that we’ve worked on, but all the pieces are vehicles for improvisation and have no set length.

The image is one that Jane has created and used on her Facebook page to publicise the gig.

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Heavens Above We Can’t Hear What You’re Saying

I signed up to recently not that I’ve got a lot of confidence in my handling of the social networking milieu. It’s always struck me that I could maybe do something with 140 characters perhaps it was a medium that suited my compositional abilities but until now I had resisted the urge to experiment.

I had the idea of using the channel to put up whichever elements of my work (that’s a grandiose way of putting it) Fool’s Gold would fit into the required format (number-of-characters-wise). The whole of this so-called work is already up on this website (geology category) so it’s sort of web-published already but I thought the tweet at a time method might work quite well for anyone foolish or presumptuous enough to follow me. Having taken another look at it though there’s not much that I’m prepared to use I get the feeling something specific is required and I’m trying to filter that to some sort of distilled doctrine.

In the meantime I’m only dipping in very slightly to the twitterverse. Trying to get my head round the ability it has to link me up with people who I know vaguely and haven’t seen for years – have I got an address book up in the sky now? It’s not like I do facebook.

I’m listening right now to some L Shankar that I taped off the radio years and years ago when I used to do that sort of stuff. It’s made me think that the next granite mix I do will be of tracks recorded from the radio. The quality is going to be a bit ropy but it should be a rewarding blend. Some of the most interesting things I ever taped were on quarter inch reel to reel and they disappeared a long time ago sad to say. All is transitory whilst simultaneously being permanent some might say.

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Granite Mix 10

The last Granite Mix had a track by Bill Evans in it (not to mention earlier appearances in the geological section) and now I’ve decided to dedicate a whole mix to the man, just to show how much I love his music. His world is a curious mixture of beauty and tragedy perfectly expressed by the way he would hunch over the piano in his simultaneous role as servant and master. Here’s a clip to show what I mean.

Tony Scott was another character who found his contemporary world hard to deal with. There aren’t many clarinetists in so-called Modern Jazz (so-called because I don’t like labels/genres in music, but unfortunately the alternative is to redefine musical history which would be tedious).

1957 was a very productive year for Charles Mingus and as well as East Coasting he put out The Clown, Mingus Three and A Modern Jazz Symposium Of Music And Poetry as well as recording Tijuana Moods which wasn’t released until later.

Kind Of Blue was my first (as far as I’m aware) encounter with Bill Evans and it is no doubt the most well-known album that he played on. There is a certain amount of controversy over whether Bill should have had any of the composition credits on the album, specifically on Blue In Green. In his autobiography Miles insists

Some people went around saying that Bill was co-composer of the music on Kind Of Blue. That isn’t true; it’s all mine and the concept was mine. What he did was turn me on to some classical composers, and they influenced me.

On the other hand Evans has told how Davis gave him a piece of paper with 2 chords (Gmin13 & A7(#9#5)) and asked what he’d do with it. It seems he did a fair bit with it and all he did with it was used. So on the original album the track is credited to Davis and on subsequent recordings that Evans did of the track it’s credited to both men.

The live recordings taken from the 2 albums released in 1961 – Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby which were recorded on June 25th 1961 for me are up there with the finest ever live recorded music. It’s all a matter of taste come to that but certain things affect the whole shape of what comes after and other things just disappear down a black hole.

Jim Hall – hugely underrated. Here’s his obituary from a couple of years ago.

So my favourite things by Bill Evans are the June 25th live recording, the contribution to Kind Of Blue and then there’s the solo session recorded on January 10th 1963 which Evans requested never to be released. For me that’s like Kafka saying in his will that all his unpublished manuscripts should be destroyed. Luckily in both cases it didn’t happen. Basically he was so strung out on heroin at the time that he did the session to get some money to score. I don’t remember the exact story. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I’ve read about it. Most of the time in this world you’re not there. Unless it’s yourself of course. But the thing about the session is that the deliberative, totally introspective nature of the performance means that… well it’s difficult to explain, but the most I can say is that listening to the music from that recording is like eavesdropping on a genius when he thinks he’s alone and musing with the universe.

After that there’s a couple of live tracks with the 2 main bassists that Bill found to replace Scott LaFaro (I haven’t even covered that, I’m going to have to save it for later). Firstly Chuck Israels and then Eddie Gomez.

And then finally another solo piece another popular song by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse a ballad that was one of his favourites not least for the title. Fool though he might have thought himself sometimes for his massive heroin and then cocaine intake the legacy’s there. Few can claim to have achieved more.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 10
Artist Title Album
Tony Scott Five The Modern Art Of Jazz
Charles Mingus Celia East Coasting
Miles Davis Flamenco Sketches (alt take) Kind Of Blue
Bill Evans Trio My Man’s Gone Now Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Bill Evans & Jim Hall Romain Undercurrent
Bill Evans Everything Happens To Me Solo Sessions Volume 1
Bill Evans Trio Stella By Starlight At Shelly’s Manne-Hole
Bill Evans Trio Blue In Green Live In Paris Volume 3
Bill Evans What Kind Of Fool Am I Alone Again
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Triumph of the West 1

When I was a boy I read something about the ancient Romans which made a tremendous impression upon me. Here in Rome they used to hold ceremonies which they called triumphs… For them a triumph was a celebration held when a victorious general came back from the wars. On his return from his campaign they would put him in a chariot put a wreath of victory on his brows and then draw him through the streets in honour to the Capitol where the senate would receive him… But the Romans were a cautious and superstitious people and to avert the malice of the gods and to remind their general just who he was they put somebody else in the chariot too, a slave. From time to time the slave would lean forward and say to the general “Remember, remember thou too are human”.

Near the start of his masterly television essay on certain aspects of the history of the last 3,000 years the historian John M Roberts speaks these words. One can’t help thinking that his reference to this historical detail and his personalisation of it suggest that he, as a historian, is reminding himself of his lack of omniscience. His work is the next best thing to omniscience as suggested in AJP Taylor’s review of Roberts’ History of the World

It is unbelievably accurate in its facts and almost incontestable in its judgements.

This 1st episode (again I will admit now that I don’t have a complete set) really stands by itself as being the argument in a nutshell. The series is in classical essay form with the introduction stating all that is going to follow in brief then subsequently the deeper analysis in largely chronological sequence and finally the reiteration of the main message and if there is to be any futurology it should happen at this point too. I can’t remember whether there is or not but I expect it’s there.

There’s a lot of very powerful archive footage – only short snippets for obvious budgetary reasons and in most cases that’s all you need to keep the flow of the narrative going. It’s about 50 minutes long, the opening and closing credits are a bit clipped and at 160Mb it may take a short moment to load.

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brasil 2015

last year i mentioned that i was going to brazil and that i would post something relevant afterwards. it’s taken a long time mainly because the source material i brought back was very limited. a lot of the time i didn’t want to take my camera around with me as it’s an old-fashioned digital still camera that allows you to take short videos about 1.30 maximum length. well eventually we had a reunion night last week and so at the last minute i downloaded the scraps of footage i’d brought back and cobbled them together. there’s a dark middle section which is just from the window of the flat where i was staying and i cut a lot of that bit out although maybe i’ll do a remix sometime with more of that in.

the opening shots are from a football tournament we participated in on june 22nd 2014 and there is some better quality footage of this event which was shown on norwegian tv and that’s below.

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When I Was 4

Here’s the next year of the Rock And Roll Years series. I better confess now that I don’t have all of these. In fact I’m missing some of the ones that I would most like to have in particular those that cover the period when British bands first made their extraordinary impact. In addition some of the episodes I have aren’t complete. This one pretty much is except I’m missing the closing credits. I’m sure you can live without those. In fact you can probably live without the final act. I would hope so anyway.

For 1957 I went through some of the films released that year. This time I’m going to cover some of the albums released in the year in question. I’m taking my information from the 1958 albums category page in wikipedia. Not a definitive list no doubt but an interesting and thorough enough work in progress. My aim is to concentrate on those albums which I have in vinyl. I’m sure I could dig through my collection and find albums missing from the list in my collection, but I must say I would be happy to get hold of any of the albums that are covered in the list, pretty expensive items some of them must be.

Firstly there are 2 great Miles Davis albums, Milestones and Porgy and Bess. I’m discounting 1958 Miles because that shouldn’t be on the page as it wasn’t released in 1958.

Then Miles crops up again on the brilliant Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else.

None of those 3 do I have on original releases from the 50s, but the next 2 I do.

Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk. The title sort of says it all. The other musicians playing on the session are Bill Hardman on trumpet, Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone and Jimmy “Spanky” DeBrest on double bass.

Finally there is The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn Volume 2 which has Sonny Rollins as guest artist. My copy of this is not pristine, there’s a chunk of the front cover missing. Anyway this one shouldn’t really be there because although recorded in 1958 it wasn’t released until 1959. Well I suppose the whole premise is rather arbitrary. Really does it matter?

Just enjoy the programme.

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American Civil War Reprise

This follows from my recent post of February 8th…

Sherman’s memoirs are the subjects and facts of history as it happened – the affair of generals and presidents although lesser mortals are recorded and considered also. But please allow me to record some views from more of a social history angle. I do so in the form of quotations from a book containing the writings of Walt Whitman who valiantly worked in the army hospitals looking after war casualties. Here are a few quotations which convey the reality of what I consider to be the first modern war. Modern in terms of use of technology and of public relations. A war that created a nation/society that still rules us in terms of power of suggestion – some weird mixture of Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Here is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell’d to leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen’d he lay with his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during those two days and nights within reach of them—whether they came to him—whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels, soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem’d to be moving around the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly, bound up his wounds, cheer’d him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This good secesh, however, did not change our soldier’s position, for it might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart, and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)

Wednesday, February 4th.—Visited Armory-square hospital, went pretty thoroughly through wards E and D. Supplied paper and envelopes to all who wish’d—as usual, found plenty of men who needed those articles. Wrote letters. Saw and talk’d with two or three members of the Brooklyn 14th regt. A poor fellow in ward D, with a fearful wound in a fearful condition, was having some loose splinters of bone taken from the neighborhood of the wound. The operation was long, and one of great pain—yet, after it was well commenced, the soldier bore it in silence. He sat up, propp’d—was much wasted—had lain a long time quiet in one position (not for days only but weeks,) a bloodless, brown-skinn’d face, with eyes full of determination—belong’d to a New York regiment. There was an unusual cluster of surgeons, medical cadets, nurses, &c., around his bed—I thought the whole thing was done with tenderness, and done well. In one case, the wife sat by the side of her husband, his sickness typhoid fever, pretty bad. In another, by the side of her son, a mother—she told me she had seven children, and this was the youngest. (A fine, kind, healthy, gentle mother, good-looking, not very old, with a cap on her head, and dress’d like home—what a charm it gave to the whole ward.) I liked the woman nurse in ward E—I noticed how she sat a long time by a poor fellow who just had, that morning, in addition to his other sickness, bad hemorrhage—she gently assisted him, reliev’d him of the blood, holding a cloth to his mouth, as he coughed it up—he was so weak he could only just turn his head over on the pillow.

May ’63.—As I write this, the wounded have begun to arrive from Hooker’s command from bloody Chancellorsville. I was down among the first arrivals. The men in charge told me the bad cases were yet to come. If that is so I pity them, for these are bad enough. You ought to see the scene of the wounded arriving at the landing here at the foot of Sixth street, at night. Two boat loads came about half-past seven last night. A little after eight it rain’d a long and violent shower. The pale, helpless soldiers had been debark’d, and lay around on the wharf and neighborhood anywhere. The rain was, probably, grateful to them; at any rate they were exposed to it. The few torches light up the spectacle. All around—on the wharf, on the ground, out on side places—the men are lying on blankets, old quilts, &c., with bloody rags bound round heads, arms, and legs. The attendants are few, and at night few outsiders also—only a few hard-work’d transportation men and drivers. (The wounded are getting to be common, and people grow callous.) The men, whatever their condition, lie there, and patiently wait till their turn comes to be taken up. Near by, the ambulances are now arriving in clusters, and one after another is call’d to back up and take its load. Extreme cases are sent off on stretchers. The men generally make little or no ado, whatever their sufferings. A few groans that cannot be suppress’d, and occasionally a scream of pain as they lift a man into the ambulance. To-day, as I write, hundreds more are expected, and to-morrow and the next day more, and so on for many days. Quite often they arrive at the rate of 1000 a day.

Oh you who philosophize…

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