Some Memoriesof My Life
Chapel Hill, N.C.
March 25th, 1908.
Aut non tautais aut pulic
ALFRED MOORE WADDELL.
Copyright, 1908, by Alfred Moore Waddell.CONTENTS.
|The Old Plantation—Hillsborough—School Days—The Bar There—The University—First Visit to New York—Admission to Bar—A Queer Old-Time Judge||7|
|Wilmington from 1856 to 1865—Edward Everett and Henry W. Miller—Bell and Everett Campaign—First Japanese—Fort Sumter—Yellow Fever—Railroad Wreck—Fort Fisher—Capture of Wilmington and Incidents Ensuing—Hon. Geo. Davis—Ganey||39|
|Strange Coincidences—Seal of Franklin Literary Society of Randolph-Macon College—Shipwreck of Capt. Hugh Waddell—The Mary Celeste, John William Anderson, Pilot||73|
|A Post-Bellum Military Tribunal—Artemus Ward—Vienxtemps and Ole Bull—Lord Lytton's Play—The Commander of The Shenandoah—Foster, “Medium”||89|
|Quash and the Duel||137|
|A Rebel Brigadier in Northern New England||157|
|Garfield—Boutwell and Jay—Wilmington Revolution—Race Problem Conference—Booker Washington||230|
As the history of any period, in order to be of interest and value, must embrace not only its public events, but a great variety of social, industrial and political features illustrative of its life, it is of advantage to him who would write it to gather all the material of the latter kind within his reach when preparing his work. Even the reminiscences of one whose individual life contains nothing of value may be useful for such a purpose.
I have written some of mine on that assumption, and not because they contain any unusual or important facts, or literary merit.
While there has been a large increase of biographical and auto-biographical writing of late years the previous lack of it in North Carolina has been keenly felt by all who have undertaken to preserve the story of her civilization.
I make my little contribution with the hope that others may be induced to furnish memorabilia of greater interest and value, and thus supply that class of material which constitutes in large measure the real basis of all true history.
This record of my recollections, it will be observed, is quite free from any attempt to philosophize upon any subject mentioned in it. There is no discussion
of the many public questions that have arisen during the long and remarkable period covered by it, although in many cases the temptation to discuss them was strong. It is a mere recital of homely incidents and public events occurring under my own observation and preserved on the tablets of memory during three distinct eras of the history of our country,—indeed, so far as the Southern States are concerned, it would be quite correct to say four distinct eras, for they had in addition to the others a “Reconstruction” era which was not vouchsafed to the rest of the country, and the recollection of which does not suggest the poet's tribute to “the actions of the just” which
“Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.”CHAPTER I.
My earliest recollections are of an old plantation in “the back country,” as the region of middle North Carolina was called by the people on the sea coast. It had been the summer residence of my ancestor, Alfred Moore, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the old mulberry tree under which tradition said he used to read law after his admission to the bar, was still standing in my youth.
At the time of which I write it was the summer residence of his son, of the same name, my grandfather, who was a rice planter on the lower Cape Fear, and a man of extraordinary gifts as a conversationist, an orator and belle-lettres scholar, who was for many years a member and speaker of the House of Commons of the State. He died when I was a child, but I remember him as he held me on his knee, and told me stories about things long since forgotten.
This summer residence was in Orange County, about three miles from the historic town of Hillsborough,* where I was born (September 16, 1834), and the plantation although greatly reduced in extent and much decayed, still bears its old name, Moorefields.* See “Historic Hillsborough,” by Francis Nash, in N. C. Booklet.
It lies in the midst of an undulating country, abundantly watered by small rocky streams and heavily wooded by every kind of forest tree indigenous to the middle belt of the Atlantic States. At the time when I first remember it there was on one side of the house a spacious flower garden, filled with old-fashioned roses, and tulips, and dahlias, and jonquils, and hyacinths and violets. From its box-hedged beds several large mimosa trees sprang, and in one corner a cluster of tall sunflower plants spread their yellow glories. A long row of bee hives occupied the outer line of the fence, and the air in summer was musical with the hum of thousands of busy honey-makers. On the other side, at a little greater distance, was a large kitchen garden, and leading down from the grove of noble oaks surrounding the house the brown line of a well-worn path stretched to another clump of great oaks from the pebbly soil around whose roots welled, bubbling, a spring of cold water. Just below the spring the stream babbled through a rock-built dairy, laving the sides of many crocks and pans of earthenware filled with golden butter and creamy milk. Thence away over hillock and vale, beyond the orchard and thick growth of cherry trees, the yellow fields of waving grain and the green ranks of Indian corn were spread for nearly a mile to where the dark mass of circling woods enclosed them on all sides.
On this plantation Thomas Hart Benton, Senator from Missouri, was born and passed his early years,
his grandfather, Thomas Hart, Sheriff of the county, having owned a part of it in the Colonial period, and it was the scene of several incidents during the Revolution, among which may be mentioned the hurried trip of Col. David Fanning, the Tory leader, when, on a raid, he captured Governor Burke and his suite at Hillsborough in September, 1781, and took them through the plantation on his way to Deep River and thence to Fayetteville and Wilmington, riding his celebrated mare, the “Red Doe,” whose fame as the swiftest horse in the country is traditional.
As I look back and recall the happy days spent on that old place they seem to be separated from me by a hundred years and are wrapped in a tender mist of indescribable memories.
Those memories, too, are still farther projected into the past by the traditions delivered to me from my earliest childhood, until they almost seem to be personal experiences, the effect of which is like the consciousness of having really lived in a very remote past. Many of these traditions are associated in my mind with the figure of a venerable little lady who held in her lap and played an instrument now obsolete—an English guitar—which had (in couplets) twelve wire strings and the music of which was about the same as that of the modern mandolin.
After the recital of some story, she would play an old English or Scotch air, to which her youthful audience would listen with absorbed interest, and then bombard her with questions, until they were
politely informed that it was her bed time. That dear old soul attained the age of ninety-odd years before she was called to join her forefathers, and, I honestly believe, never consciously did a wrong act in all her long life. She never married, and was addressed by all who knew her, except the servants, as “Aunt.” Cheerful and industrious, she was also a brave soul and fearless beyond most of her sex, as was evidenced by several incidents in her life. She delighted in reciting to us youngsters the traditions to which I have referred. These traditions, however, were not received exclusively from my older relatives or their white neighbors, for some of them were heard by the cabin fire-sides of the old slaves.
One of the latter, “Uncle Abel,” a venerable man with a white beard, was the son of General Nash's body servant Harry, who was with the General when he was killed at the battle of Germantown, Pa., Oct. 4, 1777; and the hours spent in the old man's cabin, listening to his reminiscences while he smoked the tobacco which it was my delight to give him, are still well remembered by me though more than fifty years have passed since then. Uncle Abel was always a very polite, well-bred, and self-respecting man who, having faithfully served as carriage-driver and house-servant for many years was, at the time of which I write, exempted from work of any kind, and living with his old wife, “Maum Sarah” in a cabin surrounded by his own patch of corn, and garden truck and fruit trees. He did not strictly confine himself
to statements of fact in entertaining us small boys of the family, but told some marvelous tales about hunting in the low country when he was young, and about duels and other thrilling events—which were purposely exaggerated, I think, for his own amusement, because I remember that he laughed immoderately at our expressions of astonishment.
One story that he told about a celebrated white deer in Brunswick County which had frequently been shot at but without effect, and about how one fellow moulded a silver bullet to kill him, and couldn't shoot because every time he aimed at the deer a fly would “light” on the barrel of the rifle and shut out the sight—was a master-piece of narrative. This story was evidently one form of the ancient tradition of the White Doe which was common throughout the country, and which especially appealed to the superstitious nature of the negroes, but Uncle Abel was too intelligent to believe in the truth of it.
He was not, however, exempt from the emotional religion of his race, and sometimes had prayer-meetings in his cabin to which he invited the other negroes. Among these was Uncle Bob, a very tall, old, black man, who disliked Uncle Abel very much, because he considered him “stuck up;” and so, on one occasion when Abel sent a message to Bob that he was going to have a “praise meetin,” at his house, and would be glad if he would come, old Bob said: “You go back and tell Abel dat I say dere's a heap o’ false prophet gwine ’bout nowadays.”
Speaking of these old negroes reminds me of others in and around Hillsboro, and especially of one big fat young black fellow who belonged to a “band” and made most unearthly noises on a brass horn. He was a very sentimental, though fat, darkey, and sang in a high key. “Ben Bolt” was his favorite song, but the havoc he played with the words of the song—as for instance, when he yelled:“The mill have gone to decade, Ben Bolt,And the rafters have tumbling in”
The recital of such trivial recollections is, perhaps, inexcusable, but in this connection it is a fact worth recording that for some years about the period under discussion the actual clerical labor in the office of the Clerk of the Court of Orange County was performed by a negro slave, whose master was and had been for many years the Clerk.
The slave, who was, however, practically a free man, was Peter Benton and his handwriting was beautiful. He sat behind the door in the Clerk's office and kept the records as neatly and accurately as any one could do. I often saw him thus engaged, the reason being that his master had grown old and feeble, and Peter seemed to take pride and pleasure in so aiding one who always treated him more as a friend than as a servant. Among his other accomplishments, too, Peter practiced medicine in a private way, and was a man of importance and greatly respected as a superior sort of person by the negroes
throughout the county, and was highly regarded by the white people as a man of worth and respectability.
One of the events happening about that time that impressed my youthful mind and excited my imagination was the arrival in Hillsborough, and the passage through the town on its way to the Alamance battle ground where a great celebration took place, of the small-sized full-rigged ship which the Wilmington people had sent up, manned by bluejackets. It was carried on a large, long wagon-bed and rocked from side to side over the rough streets, as if at sea, and being the first and only ship that had ever made its appearance in that region, was an object of the greatest interest and curiosity, and inspired every school-boy with a desire to become “a sailor bold and free.” The crew consisted of two or three young gentlemen whom I knew in after years as among the most genial and entertaining citizens of Wilmington, and who have long since passed away. One of them, Mr. John Reston, was a great humorist, and a beautiful tenor singer.
No railroad with its roaring train and shrieking whistle had then waked the echoes of the Occoneechee hills which overlooked the village. The old-fashioned four-horse stage, whose advent was announced a half mile away by the strident notes of a long tin horn—the pride of the heavily bearded driver, the crack of whose whip above his leaders was like a pistol-shot—was the traveler's means of conveyance, and the bearer of the mails; and its arrival was greeted by
an assemblage of citizens who didn't expect anything particular in the way of correspondence, but hankered after the news, which was retailed by the stage-driver and passengers, for there were no daily newspapers published then outside of the big cities, and these had no subscribers in the village. While the Mexican war was in progress the arrival of the stage was the most exciting event in the life of the town, because a number of soldiers had gone from Orange and the adjoining counties, and great anxiety was felt as to their fate.
A few of these had joined the Mississippi Rifles, under Col. Jefferson Davis, and had distinguished themselves, and when they and the other Orange County men returned after the war they were welcomed by a great turnout of the people. I well remember one of them, Bill Hobbs, who was a splendid specimen of physical manhood but a very modest person, and how reluctant he was when urged by my father to recite his part in one of the most desperate actions of the war; but his simple narrative of the affair when he was induced to speak—his account of how he helped by hand to roll a field gun into position while the spokes were shattered by the fire of the enemy, roused my enthusiasm and admiration to the highest degree, and inspired me with a feeling of awe while in his presence. Later in life I knew a good many such men in the Confederate army and among them a cousin, Maj. James F. Waddell, of Alabama, who (according to a statement made to me
by Hon. Geo. D. Wise, of Virginia), while commanding a battery and after losing nearly all his men, was trying to work one of his guns alone, when Wise, a staff officer, who was carrying a dispatch, dismounted and helped him.
In those days Hillsborough was better provided with good schools than any town in the State, if not in the South.
A private school for boys was conducted by the Rev. Moses Ashley Curtis, Rector of the Episcopal church, but the number of scholars, of whom I was one, was limited. Dr. Curtis was afterwards distinguished both in this country and Europe as a botanist of rare attainments, and is still referred to and quoted as such by eminent writers in that department of natural science. As evidence of the fact the late Mr. Wm. A. Wright, of Wilmington, told me that he was visiting the Kew Gardens in London some years ago with his wife, and in passing a pit where an employe was at work he exclaimed “why look there at our Dionæa Muscipula!” Whereupon the man looked up surprised, and in a moment afterwards left the place. A little while passed when another more important looking person approached, and, contrary to English custom, addressed Mr. Wright, saying, “You are, I suppose, Sir, from America?” to which the latter replied in the affirmative; “And, I apprehend, from North Carolina?” “Yes.” “And from Wilmington, or its vicinity?” “Well, Sir, you surprise me, but you are correct—I am from Wilmington.”
The gentleman then introduced himself as the Superintendent of the Gardens and explained that the employe had come and told him about Mr. Wright's exclamation at the sight of the Dionæa, and that as it was a plant whose growth was confined chiefly to the region around Wilmington, he inferred that he must have come from that locality. He then inquired if Mr. Wright was acquainted with Dr. Curtis, and proceeded to pay a very high tribute to him as a botanist, and after expressing regret that he had not devoted himself exclusively to that science, concluded by saying that if he had done so he would be recognized as one of the greatest botanists in the world. Dr. Curtis had not attained such distinction at the time he was preaching and teaching school at Hillsborough, but if he had most persons would not have known it, for reputation of that kind in those days was known only to men of science. Like himself his school was modest and unpretentious, and, as I have already said, was limited as to numbers, but it turned out good scholars. Dr. Curtis numbered among his other accomplishments a knowledge of music and played the organ and piano well. Once, while training a church choir of which I was a young member, for Christmas music, he caught my pronunciation of the word “Jerusalem,” which was not at all different from the others, and immediately stopped the singing, and, calling me by name, said in his abrupt way, “What does S-a-l-e-m spell?” “Salem,” I replied. “Well, what does J-e-r-u-s-a-l-e-m
spell?” The point was readily seen, and from that day to this, the word “Jeroozlum” has been an abomination to my ears.
He appeared to be blunt of speech, and rather unsympathetic in his manner, but this was a shield he wore to protect himself from exposing one of the most generous hearts that ever beat in a human bosom, and to conceal sensibilities that were as tender as a woman's. As illustrative of this, I remember that once when he and my father, who was his intimate friend, had been discussing the inexhaustible wealth of texts for sermons contained in the New Testament, the latter remarked that he had never heard him preach a sermon on the parable of the Prodigal Son, one of the most touching and beautiful stories in the Bible, and expressed a wish that he would do so, to which Dr. Curtis replied that he couldn't trust himself on that theme for he would break down completely.
Certainly no casual acquaintance of his would have suspected him of possessing such a nature, and it is doubtful whether it was known to more than a few of those among whom he lived for years.
The Bingham school, conducted by the father of the gentlemen who afterwards became, and one of whom is still, so distinguished as educators, was at the height of its fame and had students from every Southern State; and Mrs. Burwell's school for young ladies was enjoying a wide-spread popularity and a large patronage.
The Bingham school was succeeded by the Caldwell Institute, under Rev. Alexander Wilson, which sustained the high character of its predecessor. I attended both, but was very young when Mr. Bingham removed to another locality, although I well remember his superior gifts as a teacher, and especially his wonderful discipline. “Old Bill,” as he was called by the boys, was known from Virginia to Texas as the best schoolmaster, and the strictest disciplinarian in the South. His brother John Bingham, who was his assistant, was one of the best men, and it now seems to me the very best Latin teacher I ever knew.
Ralph H. Graves, whose son of the same name was afterwards a professor at the University of North Carolina, was the sweet-tempered, but eccentric, teacher of mathematics, but the career both of Mr. John Bingham and Mr. Graves was chiefly at the Caldwell Institute. The late Governor Alfred M. Scales was also a tutor in the same institution, and more than twenty-five years afterwards, when he and I were members of Congress, I used to tease him about having been my teacher and model of righteousness in those days.
The experiences of a boy at school there at that time were very varied. Hillsborough was the county seat of Orange, which then embraced all of what is now Alamance and a large part of what is now Durham County, and the courts were held there. Strange as it may sound to modern ears, it is still no exaggeration
to say that there was no Bar in the United States from Boston to New Orleans that was superior to the one which at that time assembled at Hillsborough.
Both of the then United States Senators from North Carolina, Willie P. Mangum, Senator and acting Vice-President, and Wm. A. Graham, Senator and afterwards Secretary of the Navy—lived and practiced law in Orange County. Two men who were afterwards successively Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the State, Thomas Ruffin and Frederick Nash, lived there. George E. Badger, Senator and Secretary of the Navy; Wm. H. Haywood, United States Senator; Abram W. Venable, member of Congress; Hugh Waddell, Speaker of the State Senate; Henry W. Miller, Robt. B. Gilliam, afterwards Judge; Perrin Busbee, Edwin G. Reade, afterwards Judge of the Supreme Court, and others of like character practiced at that bar, and they had no superiors anywhere.
Whenever a case of importance was to be tried the boys at school were given a holiday in order that they might hear the great lawyers speak, and they never failed to take advantage of the privilege. I remember several such cases and the effect they produced upon the boys who heard the trials. One or two that I recall were murder cases, in which the prisoners were convicted and hanged, and of course the boys witnessed the executions, for there is no horror great enough to suppress the eager curiosity of a school
boy. If the ghastly preparations for these executions, the parade through the village, and the final act in the awful drama affected the other boys as they did me they have not to this day forgotten them. Next to the victims, the person who suffered most on these occasions was the Sheriff of the county, who was a very tender-hearted and benevolent man and had a holy horror of the duty imposed upon him. He was a next door neighbor and friend and client of my father, and in that way I learned of his great aversion to the performance of this part of his office and I remember how depressed he was whenever called upon to perform the painful task.
Politics ran high in those days, and during the campaigns there was as great bitterness between Whigs and Democrats as has ever since existed between members of opposing parties. No election day ever passed without numerous fisticuffs, and sometimes there were very serious “free fights” in which large numbers were engaged and blood was freely spilled.
I remember one such occasion when the entire court-house square seemed to be a struggling mass of fighting men. These occasions, it is hardly necessary to say, were red letter days for the school boys, who missed no part of the performance, and experienced unmitigated delight in following up the combatants.
General musters of the militia of the county were annually held, and they were, if possible, more exciting
and joyous events to the boys than any others. Excepting the drums and fifes, and the gorgeous uniforms of the generals and their staffs, there was nothing military to be seen, unless a few old flint-lock muskets proudly carried by a man here and there in the serpentine ranks might be so regarded; and the manoeuvres, invariably resulting in the inextricable mixing up of all the companies with their guns, sticks and umbrellas, and the frantic efforts to get back into some kind of formation, furnished a comedy which not one of those boys has ever yet seen equalled.
On one of those general muster days when it seemed to me that every man, woman and child in the county was present, there was an incident which was probably the most unique in the annals of that historic county. My younger brother, a little boy, owned a large white hog which had been given to him, and which had served him as a saddle animal around the yard and sometimes in the streets. Anticipating the general muster he determined to “jine the cavalry,” and, with the assistance of his negro boy Wesley, he secretly prepared the trappings for his war horse “Dick.”
With a correct idea of contrasted colors he selected red flannel decorations for Dick, but without due regard to contingencies he made his bridle reins of the same material.
When the day arrived, and the sound of a drum in the distance assured him that the procession was
about to be formed he decked out his steed and mounted him, with the negro boy behind, and slowly reached a position on the street where he intended to join the head of the procession.
At last it appeared a long way off, but before it reached his position the squeal of the fifes and crash of the drums had been suspended and only the faint tap of one kettle drum, to measure the time, was heard. Meantime “Dick” was grunting and feeding quietly along the edge of the sidewalk with the two warriors on his back. Finally, just as the head of the column had reached a point nearly opposite him a perfect pandemonium of drums and fifes and yells was turned loose, and Dick, as if struck by an electric shock, lifted his head, uttered a loud “goof” and fairly split the wind for home, distributing the red flannel trappings and the two boys on his way amidst the shouts and laughter of the spectators.
As there was a greater variety of good fish in the streams and more small game in the fields and woods around Hillsborough than, perhaps, anywhere else in the State, so there were more “characters” there. The remembrance of some of them is to this day a frequent source of amusement to me. Among them was one fellow, generally known as “Universal Bill,” who was an especial object of interest to the school boys because, although not large in stature, he was “a holy terror” as a fighter, and always illustrated that fact on public occasions. He was not what the negroes called a “poor bockra,” being the possessor of
some property, but he seemed to regard it as essential to the maintenance of his dignity as a citizen that he should be on hand at all public gatherings, and engage in personal combat with any and every body who was at all inclined to indulge in that sort of exercise.
On one occasion he was arrested for fighting, and being carried by four men, two holding his arms and two his legs, into the presence of a very stern magistrate, he “cussed” the Court, and being fined a dollar for the offense he pulled out a bill and laying it down said he would “cuss” out the balance, which he proceeded to do with great vigor.
Another, but very different, character residing in the town at that time was a very quiet man who, although uneducated, possessed a genuine wit that was proverbial. I recall a specimen of it, as follows: A dog, supposed to have gone mad, was pursued with an outcry through the streets, and was finally driven into an enclosure where he was pelted with sticks and stones and otherwise harried by the boys for some time while a crowd assembled and looked on. During the excitement one of the crowd said, “I don't believe that dog is really mad,” whereupon the quiet citizen observed, “Well, gentlemen, if he ain't mad he certainly is the best natured dog that ever I saw.”
God bless the old town which has a history that began before the American Revolution, and which has numbered among its inhabitants some of the
most refined, cultured and patriotic people of America.
At that time some of the most distinguished men in the State, after retiring from high public positions, consented to preside over the County Courts of their respective counties. Willie P. Mangum, ex-Judge and ex-United States Senator, presided in Orange County, and I tried my first case before him. Ex-Chief Justice Ruffin presided in Alamance County and ex-United States Senator Badger in Wake County. Their services were purely patriotic, and gratuitous and were important and valuable to the counties.
The first volume, recently published, of the very interesting and exhaustive “History of the University,” by its former President, that able, scholarly and faithful North Carolinian, Dr. Kemp P. Battle, covers the period of my college life (as of every other period up to 1868) so completely as to leave no room for sketches of some of the young men there at that time, who afterwards made their mark, and therefore I will only make the general observation that of the students there at that time (1850-53) there were a good many who became prominent in almost every sphere of activity and usefulness. As Senators and Representatives in Congress and the legislatures of several States, as Governors of States, Judges, eminent professional and business men, and as heroes in the war between the States from the rank of Brigadier General to private, they can be named; and
among the latter, alas! if the roll were called, in many cases their living comrades must answer “Killed in battle,” or “died of wounds.”
The same may be said of a great many students both of a prior and a subsequent date, for the University contributed more than a thousand of her sons to the ranks of the Confederate army, of whom nearly four hundred perished in the conflict.
My recollection of the personal appearance and characteristics of the Faculty of my day was briefly given in the Centennial Address at the University in 1895, as follows:
“Governor Swain was sui generis. He was the most unpromising looking man, perhaps, in the State. Tall, large, with stooping shoulders, and joints loosely set at odd angles, with a long, dark and profoundly melancholy countenace, and a most peculiar throaty intonation of voice, it is not surprising that his personal appearance was freely commented upon by students; and the sobriquet of ‘Old Bunk,’ which they gave him in honor of his native county of Buncombe flavored their criticism.
“The most unique and original observation in regard to his personal appearance that I remember to have heard was made by a student a short while before I joined college. The student, who was a little fuddled with wine and not very accurate in his knowledge of Genesis, said ‘Old Bunk reminds me of Chaos; he is without form and void.’ And yet, with his personal disadvantages, there was something
imposing and attractive in his presence, and when he began to pace to and fro in the lecture room and discuss the great men and the great questions which had agitated society, he clothed himself and his subject with a sort of fascination which fixed the attention and excited the admiration of his hearers. He was a gentle spirit, with a kindly humor and an innocent vanity in regard to some things, but endowed with large intellectual capacity, a wonderful memory, and last but not least, an unerring tact. He possessed as extensive and accurate knowledge of the history of the people of North Carolina as any man of his generation, and made some valuable contributions to our historical literature. He was a walking enclycopedia of information upon the genealogy of the State. It would be a grateful task, if my hour permitted, to give a pen picture of the associate professors of Governor Swain who were personally known to me as a student. I can not, and am sure no other student of that day can think of them except with reverent affection. I can see before me now the splendid dome in which was housed the brain of Dr. Mitchell and which, among all the heads I ever saw, was the noblest in form and proportion; and the sturdy frame, the quick step and the circular glasses behind which beamed the kind, brown eyes of Dr. Phillips; and the refined and dreamy countenance of Dr. Hubbard; and the courtly grace of Dr. Wheat; and the sensitive diffidence of Professor Fetter, and the grave and gentle manner of Professor
Shipp. I have gazed with strange emotions into the clear pool on the shaggy slope of our highest mountain into which on that June night in 1858 Dr. Mitchell was precipitated to his death; and to me the rostrum of Gerrard Hall has been invested with a sacred interest since that venerable servant of God, Dr. Phillips, in 1867, even in the act of prayer, was called thence to his reward. Like these two, but without the tragic incidents which accompanied their taking off, all the other professors who were here in my day have also passed away.”
Dr. Battle does not neglect to mention even the servants of the University, several of whom are sketched by him. There was one, however, in my day whom he omitted, probably because he was not a regular employe and only served the students occasionally (and surreptitiously) with so-called “suppers.” He was a rather small, black, and very bowlegged negro named Charles Liggins (probably Ligon) whom I remember solely on account of an extraordinary “toast” as he called it, which, upon demand by one of the boys, he invariably declaimed with changing attitude and gesture.
This “toast” was Charles's rendition of the last stanza of Campbell's “Pleasures of Hope,” the first line of which he recited thus: “Eternal Hope, whence yonder sphere swarblind,” and in every subsequent line he introduced the word “whence” in the most vehement manner until the climax, when with tragic air he exclaimed:
“Thou, ondressed maid, shalt o'er the ruins smile.” Whereupon Ned Graham, of New Bern, would fall out of his chair hug himself and fairly howl with delight.
Receiving my legal education, first under Chief Justice Nash and Judge Bailey at Hillsborough, and afterwards under Judge Battle and Saml. F. Phillips, Esq., at Chapel Hill, and being admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court under a promise not to practice until of age, it was—as a verbose gentleman characterized such an occurrence—“a curious concatenation of fortuitous circumstances” that my first fee was paid to me on my 21st birthday by a stranger, the same being a four-dollar bill of the old Bank of Cape Fear, which should have been preserved as a souvenir, but was not withdrawn from circulation.
It excites my risibles even to this day to recall an incident that occurred in the early career of one of my friends who afterwards commanded a brigade in Lee's Army. We were both reading law at the time, he in Alamance County and I in Orange. He was invited to deliver the Fourth of July oration at the county seat (Graham), and great preparation was made for the observance of the occasion. He was a bright fellow, and devoted his whole time for several weeks to writing and committing to memory and declaiming in the fields and woods his gorgeous and thrilling bursts of verbal pyrotechnics. Notwithstanding the impossibility of securing a band or other suitable music for the occasion he determined that it
would never do to celebrate the day without music of some kind, and after diligent effort and when about to abandon all hope he learned that there had just arrived in the neighborhood “a wandering minstrel” with a musical instrument the name of which was unknown to his informant. He determined to utilize him for the occasion and did so. He found that the instrument carried by the wanderer was not a harp or hand organ, but a “hurdy gurdy” and also discovered that the artist had only one eye and was a little deaf, but anxious for an engagement at any price. A bargain was made, and the aforesaid orchestra was carefully instructed by the orator just when to begin the overture, and when, on a signal, to stop; but the special and peculiar thing to be observed was the moment when the peroration was to close, at which moment the orator would make a grand sweeping gesture, whereupon the orchestra should immediately “break forth into joy.” The first part of the program was carried out according to orders and the orator rose and turned loose the American Eagle, while the orchestra fixed its cyclopean gaze with concentrated intensity upon him and held it there like the Ancient Mariner until, in his enthusiasm, the orator, who had not gotten half through, forgot his instructions and made the grand gesture agreed upon, and immediately the orchestra seized the crank of the hurdy gurdy violently and made the rafters ring with the tune of “The Hog-eye Man.” The orator tried to stop him by “waving him down”
and calling in an undertone but this was interpreted to mean “faster,” and the crank worked with accelerated speed until the orator sat down amid the cheers and laughter of the crowd.
To hear the foregoing story told by Gen. W. W. Kirkland (who was the Fourth of July orator), with all the embellishments with which he adorned it, was indeed a rare treat.
At that time (1855) I made my first visit to New York, an event to which every untraveled country-bred youth looked forward with hope, as the realization of his fondest dream.
Stopping at Old Point Comfort on the way for a few days, I got my first view of life at a fashionable summer resort of that period, and was introduced to some persons prominent in society, among whom was Madame Bonaparte, of Baltimore, then somewhat advanced in life and a very gracious and charming matron. On the boat that took me from there to Baltimore were two of my former Hillsborough schoolmates, one of whom was on his wedding tour and both of whom were as “green” as myself. The route then traveled most commonly from Philadelphia to New York was by the Camden and Amboy railroad, and thence by boat from Amboy.
When we arrived at the Battery at the foot of Broadway my two friends mounted with me to the top of the old-fashioned stage in order that we might see the sights on our way up town, and just as we ascended the first slope of the street and saw the long
crowded thoroughfare stretching before us, my newly married friend, unable to restrain his enthusiasm, exclaimed, “By George, it looks like Hillsborough election day!”
Our home while in New York was the far-famed St. Nicholas Hotel, then in the fullness of its glory and said to be the finest hotel in the world, with its wealth of variegated marbles, plate glass, frescoes, gilded columns and luxurious furnishings, all of which was a revelation of unimagined splendor to the eyes of a rural visitor of that day, and would, if still in existence, be an establishment “not to be sneezed at” to-day.
Castle Garden had been the great opera house prior to that time and Jenny Lind had run New York wild with her singing there a few years before, but we heard one of the last performances ever given there, if not the last, when Sonnambula was sung by the best artists of the day. Niblo's was the fashionable theater, and we heard there two of the other old operas, the “Bohemian Girl,” and the “Child of the Regiment,” which are still remembered by me because it was my first experience of the kind, and my passion for music was gratified as never before.
The Croton reservoir was one of the show places, the location being, I believe, where the splendid public library building now stands, and the Crystal Palace, built in 1853 for the World's Fair, was still open to visitors. The latter structure was situated between Fortieth and Forty-second streets on Sixth avenue
which was then a suburb of the city, there being few, if any, solid blocks beyond the neighborhood of Twenty-third street. There was not even a horsecar line in the city, public transportation being by means of omnibuses, stages and similar vehicles, and I believe there was no hotel above Fourteenth street on the corner of which street and Broadway stood the Roosevelt residence, which was considered one of the fine private up-town homes. Another show place was the Five Points, down on the East side, which was the quarter inhabited by a majority of the lowest criminals, murderers, burglars, pickpockets and thieves. No one ever ventured to go there at night, and no stranger ever went there, even in the day time, except under police protection, as we did, and even then the creatures we saw and their surroundings sent a chill of horror, fear and disgust through us. There was a complete transformation of this devil's den some years after our visit, when it was cleansed of its vile population, and rebuilt with business houses and other structures.
When I came to the bar there were on the bench some of the finest specimens of the old-time judges still presiding—men saturated with the spirit and learning, and characterized by the dignified manners of a former age. They preserved the traditions of the profession in all their integrity and hedged themselves about with a barrier that forbade the approach of levity or familiarity while engaged in the performance of duty, whether in open court or at chambers.
No lawyer would have dared to talk to one of them about his case in advance of a trial, or to use the privilege of social intercourse as a means of discovering the inclination of the judicial mind on any question that might come before the court. While the official conduct of these old Romans of the law was alike, their personal characteristics differed, of course, as much as those of other men. There was one of them, however, who had such a marked individuality as to entitle him to a brief special notice, and I will attempt to give a picture of him from memory.
He wore a suit of plain black cloth, a little the worse for use, a year-old silk “tile,” a high black satin stock over the edges of which was turned down a narrow margin of linen collar, and a pair of roomy boots, which moaned at every step he took. The one pronounced part of his apparel, however,—the peculiar feature of his wardrobe,— was a pair of black kid gloves, each finger of which was an inch too long, and which gave to his hands the appearance of being maimed. Dignity is an inadequate word to convey a just idea of his bearing. Solemnity would come nearer to it. Propriety itself felt constrained in the court room where he presided. He could smile, but that unusual occurrence gave a tearful look to his long, dark countenance, which rather added to the general melancholy of his expression. He was, in every feature and limb, a long man. His teeth
were large and long, and he had a habit of placing his forefinger on his right eye-tooth when listening to argument, or evidence, or when meditating. He was also given to soliloquizing in an audible tone when not on the bench, which impressed strangers with an idea that he was mentally unsound, or remarkably eccentric; but he was really a good lawyer and a man of the most sterling integrity. He sternly administered justice where fraud or crime was involved, for he hated a scoundrel.
In his day the stocks and the whipping-post were still in use, and were considered to be the surest preventives of petty crimes and misdemeanors, an opinion in which he fully concurred. Another opinion which he firmly held was that French brandy was the only liquor fit for a gentleman to drink, although he was willing to admit that there might be extenuating circumstances, such as the impossibility of getting that beverage, that would justify the substitution of whiskey; and, as it was generally impossible to get it in the country villages of his circuit, these extenuating circumstances constantly arose,—but only during the intervals of court, for no one ever knew him to give the slightest evidence of having stimulated while on the bench.
As might be expected from so gloomy a character he pondered much upon the problems of life, and, while reverential towards religion and the Bible, which he read much, was inclined to rely on his reason, and to preserve an independent judgment
about that as about all things. He conceived a dislike for St. Paul because of his teaching the doctrine of eternal damnation so strenuously, insisting that this was a perversion of the true teaching of the Master, and asserting most illogically that “if Paul had lived in this day he would have been called a demagogue.” All this would be said in a tone and with a gesture almost funeral, and perhaps in the next breath he would ask for a glass of brandy, and after absorbing it would stride up and down, soliloquizing and feeling that eye-tooth.
His especial time, however, for soliloquizing was late at night, when he would silently get out of bed, and lighting a long-stem pipe, would sit by the fireplace in his long night gown, and talk to himself for an hour or two. If anything unusual had occurred in court, or any person with a strange name had been before him, that would most probably be the theme of his observations. He did not speak in undertones, but in an ordinary conversational way which, in the silence of midnight, could easily be heard in an adjoining room.
On one occasion a short, ill-formed, and unprepossessing individual with a decided Hebrew name of three syllables, which was hard to pronounce,—and this was always an offence,—was a party to a suit before him involving some commercial transactions of a rather shady character. After a tedious trial the case had been given to the jury about nightfall,
and they had retired to find a verdict, with the prospect of an all-night session. The Judge went to bed, but about midnight the occupant of the room adjoining his heard him move a chair to the fireplace, and heave the deep sigh which always preceded his soliloquies. After a few moments he began, in a mournful voice, and with frequent pauses:
“It ought to be an indictable offence to have such a name as that defendant's—Moses must have had an awful time keeping the muster roll of the children of Israel—but I suppose that was done by the captains of hundreds—They must have been stouter men than this fellow, to have killed so many enemies, and conquered so many tribes—That is a cruel history—but the ways of Providence are past finding out—Joshua must been a good general—but Old Hickory would have made short work with him—Strange people, and a strange history—They must have been good farmers and stock raisers in Bible times—but there is not a Jew in this country that owns a plough, or even a stump-tail bull—Yes, I suppose the race began to degenerate physically at an early period.—Saul, the son of Kish, was a big tall man, but tradition says that Saul of Tarsus, called Paul, was a little fellow, not much over five feet high,—just about such a looking one, I suppose, as that fellow with the infernal name whose case was tried to-day.
“No doubt he believes in eternal damnation, too—Well,—if anybody deserves it, it's a fellow that drinks beer, and can't appreciate a good ham—Beer!—there
is no mention of such a drink in the Bible—Wine, and strong drink are often referred to—Even Paul recommends a little wine for the stomach's sake, but beer—no case can be cited from Scripture where it was used, and the maxim ‘expressio unius, exclusio alterius’ applies—Judgment accordingly—What the ‘strong drink’ mentioned in the Bible was made of, is not stated—there's no evidence on that point—but it couldn't have been whiskey—unless it was wheat whiskey, which is the best—It certainly was not corn liquor, for there wasn't any corn in that country—although they called wheat corn—It was brandy—distilled grape juice—what we now call French brandy, I suppose—the only drink fit for a gentleman—and, if so, it proves that those people were civilized—But I apprehend that it was not commonly used, for most, if not all, the reported cases of intoxication, beginning with Noah, were from wine, and not from strong drink—They tell me that too much wine makes a man sicker than too much spirits—I am glad that I do not drink it—it is mighty poor stuff.”
At the conclusion of this sentence his listening neighbor heard him move his chair, and in a moment afterwards caught the sound of glass and the gurgle of a bottle, followed by a profound sigh and the replacing of his chair by the fire. A silence of some moments ensued, and then the soliloquy was resumed:
“When did those people begin to have surnames?—There are not a half dozen surnames in the whole
Bible—Think of writs being issued against ‘Jacob’ or ‘Daniel,’ in a town as big as Jerusalem,—and the suits for false arrest that must have followed—If anybody had sued out an injunction against ‘Paul’ for preaching his doctrine, and had even described him as ‘of Tarsus,’ the wrong man might have been enjoined, for Tarsus was ‘no mean city,’ and there were probably whole families of that name there—I suppose, however, that they could hardly have made a mistake, as nobody else would ever have proclaimed such a—the Lord forgive me—damnable doctrine—If the jury find a verdict for that fellow I think I will set it aside and grant a new trial—the weight of evidence is against him—his name is outrageous—he wears a moustache—he parts his hair in the middle—and I am informed that he plays the fiddle,—damn him.”
And he knocked out his pipe and went to bed.CHAPTER II
In the Spring of 1856 I removed to Wilmington, the old “stamping ground” of my forefathers, which, excepting about a year's residence in Charlotte (1882-83), has ever since been my home. On my arrival there I found the town overshadowed by a tragedy which had occurred a day or two before.
It was the duel that had been fought between Joseph H. Flanner and Dr. Wm. C. Willkings in which the latter was killed. Both were young men who had been friends, the one a merchant, and the other a physician. It was, so far as I now recall, the last fatal duel fought in the State, and, alas! was caused by a petty political controversy over the election of Commissioners of Navigation for the port of Wilmington. The effect of the duel on the whole community was very observable and very depressing. One young life (26) snuffed out, and another blasted and destined to end in a foreign country under a heavy cloud.
In that year the election for President occurred, and I made my first political speech for Fillmore and Donelson, who were defeated, as was Fremont, the first candidate of the Republican party, by Buchanan
and Breckenridge. That contest was—all unconsciously to most of those engaged in it—the first skirmish between the forces that five years afterwards confronted each other in the greatest war of modern times. The real, earnest, and enthusiastic Union men in that struggle were the supporters of the Fillmore and Donelson ticket. They were the conservative element of the population who were equally opposed to the extremists of both sections of the country. Intensely devoted to the Union, they feared the effect of the growing antagonisms between the anti-slavery party of the North and the Secession party of the South, indulging as they did the vain hope that these antagonisms might be reconciled in some way that would preserve the integrity of the Republic. Vain, indeed, were such hopes as the rapidly culminating events proved.
At that time Wilmington was the largest naval stores market not only in this country, but, perhaps, in the world.
There was also a very considerable lumber business with the West Indies, for which return cargoes of sugar, molasses and coffee were received; and much lumber, with the cargoes of naval stores and cotton, was shipped to the North and to Europe. There was a fleet of coastwise vessels, including a large number of “Corn Crackers” from the Northeastern counties of the State, and several river steamboat lines to Fayetteville had been established which made daily trips, so that the wharves presented a very lively appearance
and property on the river front was the most valuable in the city. This situation, which was very profitable to the commission merchants, brokers and middle-men, continued with increasing proportions until the breaking out of the war; but when New Inlet, where Fort Fisher afterwards stood, was closed after the war by the great engineering feat which marked an era in constructions of that kind, the “Corn Cracker” trade which had been carried on entirely through that inlet, was destroyed, because it was then necessary to go around Cape Fear and the Frying Pan Shoals to the mouth of the river, an additional distance of perhaps fifty miles of dangerous navigation. The general substitution of steam for sails greatly reduced the number of sailing vessels trading to the port, and changed the character of the business, to say nothing of the fact that the naval stores business, owing to the exhaustion of the turpentine forests, was soon shifted to points further south where it has flourished for many years past.
Those were the “flush times” of ante-bellum Wilmington, although they now appear somewhat insignificant. There were four banks with ample capital for the needs of business, and each was conducted honestly and profitably until wiped out by the results of the war. The principal business section of the town, outside of the shipping and commission business, was between Water and Second streets from west to east, and between Mulberry (now Grace) and
Ann streets from north to south. There was but one public market which occupied the center of Market street between Front and the river and on top of which was a bell tower, from which, in accordance with an ancient custom, the old bell (which now serves as a fire alarm at the Fourth Street engine house) was rung in the morning, at noon, sunset and nine o'clock at night.
The old “Line” steamers between Wilmington and Charleston established by “Commodore” Vanderbilt, had been supplanted by the railroad then called the Wilmington and Manchester (now the W. C. & A.), which had just been built and the depot for which stood on the west side of the river opposite to the foot of Market street, and could only be reached by the ferry. The Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford, now the Carolina Central, railroad was about to be constructed, but the chief transportation facilities by land were furnished by the Wilmington and Weldon railroad, now a part of the Atlantic Coast Line system.
Notwithstanding all the jokes that have been perpetrated and the more or less good-natured ridicule that has been indulged in concerning the alleged superiority of everything “before the war” there is—so far as the social life and customs of the people at that period are to be compared with those of the present—a great deal of truth in the claim. It is certainly true that the radical change in the fortunes of the people, involving as it did the necessity of constant
employment of both sexes and all ages in the struggle for existence, could not operate otherwise than to destroy to a large extent the social ideals and observances that had previously prevailed, and with every year of such experience the ideals faded more. In the eyes of people from some other parts of the country such observances were regarded as fantastical, if not ridiculous, but it was, after all, better than the vulgar disregard of social amenities that prevailed in the homes of such critics. This is a subject upon which much has been written, and more might be, but there can be no doubt about the fact that, socially as well as politically, things are not as they used to be, and in the eyes of old people in this part of the vineyard, not by any means as good as they used to be.
There was nothing of what is called “style” among the well-bred people of the Cape Fear country, but there was what was much better—unbounded hospitality, scrupulous courtesy and civility amongst men, and universal deference to women and to old age.
In those days few people in Wilmington spent their summers in the mountains of North Carolina—the most glorious and beautiful region on this continent—because of the fatiguing travel it involved, but some went to the middle part of the State where they had summer residences, inherited in many instances from their forefathers, and found there the ease and comfort which they so much enjoyed.
But the larger part of the absentees in the summer
went to the Sound, and to Smithville, now Southport. Their residences at both places were “open house” to all their friends and the life in them was ideal, so far as absolute freedom from form and ceremony was concerned. Dinner parties, boating expeditions, oyster roasts, and similar entertainments were the daily experiences, and the young people danced away the evenings in unalloyed pleasure. The Sound, however, as both Wrightsville and Masonboro were called, was the chief resort of the young people, who in a long procession of vehicles of all kinds would drive down over the sandy roads, and have such an outing as the modern electric road, the modern hotel, and modern cottage life on the beach can never equal. In those days there was not even a fisherman's hut on Wrightsville Beach, and, except on the Fourth of July, when the annual regatta which was inaugurated about that time, was held, the only visitors were boating parties, or sportsmen fishing for drum in the surf. Now, the whole length of the beach for a distance of more than a mile and a half from one inlet to the other, is closely built up with cottages, hotels, and club houses, with trolley cars running every half hour during the summer season to and from Wilmington.
To a young man fond of field sports, and fishing, and good cheer, life on the rice plantations of the Cape Fear river at that time was most attractive. These plantations extended for many miles along both branches of the river, ending with Orton, about eighteen
miles below Wilmington, and were homes of unbounded hospitality. Alas! the rice planter of the Cape Fear is an extinct species. For some years after the war a few endeavored to carry on the business, but it gradually ceased, chiefly because of the difficulty in securing labor, but finally because of its unprofitableness, and now the rich lands, the original cost of clearing and ditching and “banking,” of which averaged perhaps a hundred dollars an acre and that were for more than a century very valuable and profitable, are practically worthless and abandoned, at least for the purposes for which they have been immemorially used.
There were two military companies in the town, the Wilmington Light Infantry, organized in the year 1853, of which I was a member, and the German Volunteers, organized a little later, and the town was justly proud of them, for they were well drilled, and handsomely uniformed. I think the dress uniform of the Light Infantry was the handsomest I ever saw. This company made a memorable trip to Fayetteville and on to Raleigh in 1857. They went by boat to Fayetteville but marched from there to Raleigh, a distance of sixty miles, which was the first experience of the kind that any military company in the State had undergone since the war with Mexico, when some of the companies of volunteers had to march considerable distances to reach transportation facilities. The Light Infantry were treated with great distinction both at Fayetteville and Raleigh,
and there was much speaking and banqueting at both places. Mr. Edward J. Hale, founder and editor of The Fayetteville Observer (which is still published by his able son of the same name), made the speech of welcome at Fayetteville, and Governor Bragg the speech of welcome at Raleigh.
At the banquet at Raleigh, which was held on the first floor of the old Guion Hotel, now the State Museum, some fine speeches were made. Among the orators was ex-Governor Manly, and it so happens that I distinctly remember one of his sentences, when in an eloquent and impassioned protest against the encouragement of the spirit of discord and disunion which was then brewing in the country, he pictured the culmination of it as “ the dread hour when the heroic spirits of our Revolutionary dead shall walk disturbed among us.” I also remember that about an hour later when the revelry of the boys had reached its climax, I saw him and Governor Bragg, who was an exceedingly dignified man, hastily disappearing through a window as if fleeing from the wrath to come. That eloquent outburst against disunion, which was as sincere as any human utterance ever was, recalls the speech which, about three years afterwards, I heard Hon. Gustavus A. Henry, of Tennessee, make at the Bell and Everett Convention in Baltimore, which was a magnificent and thrilling denunciation of disunion that brought tears to my eyes. And at the same time I remember that fierce Union men as we then were, in less than a year afterwards
I was a Confederate soldier, and a little later Mr. Henry was Confederate Senator from Tennessee.
It was about this period that the present City Hall building was erected on the site of the old Academy, which had been converted into a theater by the Thalian Association, under an agreement between the latter and the town to construct on the east end of the building a new theater, or opera house. This was done, and it has ever since been the only opera house in the city. The Thalian Association was in quite a flourishing condition and gave frequent entertainments. The play bill for one of these performances is by some chance still in my possession, and although the cast of characters for the play and succeeding farce contains a long list of names, mine is the only one among them of a living person to-day. The late Col. James G. Burr wrote a very interesting sketch of the Association some years ago which was published, but whether there are any copies of it extant or not I do not know. One thing may be safely said in regard to those entertainments, viz: that they afforded infinite amusement and pleasure to the audiences, for, although there were some really clever actors among the members of the Association, there was almost certain to be some mishap that put the house in a roar of laughter.
The play just referred to, for instance, was the extravaganza called “The Invisible Prince,” in which I took the title role, and another young gentleman, Mr. Henry Savage, the part of the “Queen of the
Fairies,” and at a certain point of supposed dramatic interest when the Prince was suddenly discovered in a grotto it was the part of the Queen to swoon and fall upon a green bank to the great dismay of her attendants. Those large unmanageable hoop-skirts were then in style, and the Queen had put on one of them over his trousers. He gracefully fell on the green covered lounge representing the bank, with his feet toward the audience, and the hoop skirt flew up high enough “to see his cravat” as one expressed it, and, amidst the storm that followed, the curtain fell. Another ridiculous incident occurred in the same play on a former occasion, when a very corpulent member, Mr. Alva Burr, took the part of the Invisible Prince, and in the death scene, while lying on his back surrounded by his followers who were singing a dirge over his prostrate form, the audience observed a strange palpitation in the ample bosom of the corpse, and soon discovered that it was singing bass.
During those two or three years preceding the war several memorable lectures were delivered in that opera house, two of which greatly impressed me. One was the celebrated address of Edward Everett on Washington, in behalf of the Ladies’ Mount Vernon Association, which was the most perfect piece of elocution I have ever heard. It was said that Mr. Everett had carefully rehearsed that speech before a mirror in order to render its delivery faultless in tone and gesture, and certainly its perfection in every detail justified such a suspicion. His voice was melodious,
his action was easy and graceful, his gestures were beautifully expressive of every shade of his thought, and his rhetoric was exquisitely polished and pure; and yet there was a total absence of that magnetic influence without which no man can be really eloquent, or sway an audience. My own impression in regard to the address was given to a friend immediately after hearing it in these words: “I can only compare that speech to a globe of ice. It was perfect in its rounded form, perfect in its transparent purity of thought and in its polished diction, but as cold as the North Pole.”
The other address to which I refer was the splendid lecture of Henry W. Miller, on “The Eighteenth Century,” some sentences of which, uttered in his deep-toned voice and with intense, though suppressed, feeling and gesture—as, for instance, when describing the awakening of the spirit of liberty among the masses, he spoke of “the might that slumbers in a freeman's arm”—were strikingly eloquent and impressive. In neither of the speeches was there any impassioned oratory, but they were as fine specimens of different styles of the highest order of public speaking as were ever exhibited in my experience.
At that time the current of public events, although gliding swiftly to the cataract and the whirlpool, was on its surface smooth until it struck the boulder of the John Brown raid in 1859 and broke into foam and fury, arousing the country with sudden and startling effect to a realization of its close proximity
to an appalling catastrophe, but after that portentous occurrence the turbulence and swirl of the stream, despite numberless eddies of reaction, became more and more manifest.
In 1859 President Buchanan attended the Commencement at the University of North Carolina, and for the first time in its history a military company, the Wilmington Light Infantry, was also present, having met and escorted the President as a guard of honor from Raleigh. Besides the military company there had also gone from Wilmington the Major General of militia and his staff, of which I was a member. Orders had been sent ahead by the general for horses to be in readiness at Raleigh for the grand parade there, and when we arrived a half dozen prancing steeds, splendidly caparisoned, were awaiting us at the station, but one of the staff positively refused to take his mount, declaring that it would be at the cost of his life, for he couldn't ride. The result was that the general and staff marched on foot at the head of the procession, which was very absurd, but not so absurd, when viewed in the light of subsequent events, as an incident that occurred after our arrival at the University. The General was informed that there was a lieutenant of the United States Army on the ground who had intimated a willingness to serve on his staff if invited, but the invitation was not extended as the gentleman was unknown to the General. The General died at the beginning of the
war and therefore never knew that the lieutenant's name was, as I was afterwards told, “Jeb” Stuart!
Being a young and enthusiastic Union man, and extremely desirous to do all that was in my power for its preservation, I bought The Daily Herald and, in May, 1860, abandoning the practice of law, devoted myself to the publication of that paper for a year prior to the war. Shortly after assuming that position I was made an alternate delegate to the National Convention which met in Baltimore and nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President. It was my first experience of the kind, and naturally it made a lasting impression upon me. Immediately behind the North Carolina delegation sat the New York delegation, and among the latter were Erastus Brooks and James W. Gerard. Mr. Gerard made a very bright speech advocating the nomination of Gen. Sam Houston, of Texas, for President, and a Mr. Harris, of Missouri (who was afterwards a member of the Confederate Congress), also made a fervent and eloquent speech. I have already spoken of the speech of Gustavus A. Henry, of Tennessee, as a characteristic outburst in behalf of the Union, and of the fact that he was subsequently a Senator in the Confederate Congress.
Upon the adjournment of the Convention, in company with Hon. O. P. Meares, who was also a delegate, I went over to Washington where a great debate
between Jefferson Davis, Stephen A. Douglas and others was in progress, and witnessed quite a dramatic scene in the Senate in which those champions were actors. We also witnessed while in Washington the landing of the first Japanese representatives that ever visited this country. They came on a United States man of war and were landed at the navy yard where a great throng of people assembled to see the landing and the parade that followed up Pennsylvania avenue to Willard's Hotel, where quarters for the Japanese had been provided. Remembering that occurrence and the condition of the Japanese at that time, and comparing them with the present attitude of Japan as the victor over the powerful Russian Empire, the transformation in the career of the former seems almost miraculous. A people who at that time, forty-five years ago, were counted as an insignificant nation of island barbarians without any of the ideas of modern civilization, and therefore absolutely destitute of a navy or disciplined army, or financial system, or any of the industrial forces that constitute the strength of a “world power” of the twentieth century, has now reached, as it were by leaps and bounds, the position of arbiter of the destinies of the East. It has no parallel in history.
Not long after these events the Presidential election occurred, and the new era of American history began. No one who lived through that hysterical period can now look back upon it without a feeling
of mingled pity and astonishment, or, unless utterly devoid of a sense of humor, fail to see in the rapidly culminating tragedy many of the comic features which invariably characterize every great popular convulsion. But these were of short duration and soon disappeared beneath the opposing tidal waves that swept over the land. Under their overwhelming influence in each section of the country party lines were obliterated, and after the secession of the Southern States the Northern people became practically a unit on one side, and the Southern people more nearly absolutely “solid” on the other. The eyes of the people on both sides were fixed on events in Charleston harbor, where the first act of the drama of civil war was about to be performed.
On the evening of April 10, 1861, the telegraph operator at the Wilmington office confidentially communicated to me at the Herald office a telegram that had just passed through from General Beauregard at Charleston to Jefferson Davis at Richmond, saying that he would open fire on Fort Sumter at 4 a. m., if Major Anderson refused to surrender. Thereupon I hurried to the old “Manchester Depot” opposite to the Market street dock on the other side of the river, and caught the train for Charleston as it was passing out. I described that trip to a New York audience in 1878 in the following brief sentences:
“I shall never forget that, after a night of great anxiety, and when about twenty miles from the city, just as the first gray streaks began to lighten the eastern
sky, and when the silent swamps were wakened only by the rumble of the train, there was distinctly heard a single dull, heavy report like a clap of distant thunder, and immediately following it at intervals of a minute or two, that peculiar measured throb of artillery which was then so new, but afterwards became so familiar to our ears. The excitement on the train at once became intense, and the engineer, sympathizing with it, opened his valves, and giving free rein to the iron horse, rushed us with tremendous speed into the historic city.
“Springing from the train and dashing through the silent streets we entered our hotel ascended to the roof, and there I experienced sensations which never before or since have been mine. As I stepped into the cupola and looked out upon that splendid harbor, there in the center of its gateway to the sea, half wrapped in the morning mist, lay Sumter, and high above its parapets, fluttering in the morning breeze floated proudly and defiantly the stars and stripes. In a moment afterwards just above it there was a sudden red flash, and a column of smoke, followed by an explosion, and opposite on James Island, a corresponding puff floated away on the breeze, and I realized with emotions indescribable that I was looking upon a civil war among my countrymen.”
Thenceforward until the middle of August, 1864, I was a Confederate soldier, without any record worth mentioning, but at that time my health was completely
wrecked, and my resignation was tendered and accepted.
The yellow fever was brought to Wilmington by a blockade runner in September, 1862, and raged with terrible effect for two or three months. Happening to be going from Richmond, Va., to Augusta, Ga., and stopping for a day or two in Wilmington, just before the fever broke out, and hearing that a poor fellow named Swarzman, a young German, was sick and alone, I called at his room, sat by his bedside and tried to cheer him, holding his hand in the meantime. I observed that he had a very yellow appearance and supposed he had jaundice. After sitting some time, I bade him good bye, and a few hours later left the city for Augusta. He died with black vomit within forty-eight hours, and his was the first case of the dreadful scourge, or at least it was the first recognized case. My escape was a signal mercy, and there was cause for additional gratitude when on my return home, which was delayed until the fever had disappeared, a dreadful railroad accident occurred in which two young ladies sitting immediately behind me were killed and every person in the car except one was hurt, while I crawled out with slight injury. The railroad was in a very dilapidated condition—as the war was going on and no means of repairing it was available—and the engine “jumped the track” twice after the accident, the last time being about ten miles from Wilmington, whereupon, with several others I left it and walked to town.
I have frequently related the circumstances attending this fatal accident for the purpose of proving that, according to my experience, there seldom occurs a tragedy without some comic incident. In this case the comic incident was as follows: Provisions of all kinds were hard to get, and seeing an old “aunty” at one of the stations with a box of ten dozen eggs, I bought them, paying her five (Confederate) dollars per dozen for them and placed them under the seat in front of me on which Mr. James Dawson, of Wilmington, and another gentleman were sitting. When the accident occurred all the lights in the car were extinguished and the night being very dark, it was impossible to distinguish persons. Just after I crawled out of the wreck, and while the cries and groans of the victims were still going on, a feeble voice cried, “Gentlemen, I am bleeding to death.” At once recognizing the voice as that of Dawson, and expressing the hope that he was mistaken he replied, “No, just feel my head and my clothes.” I did so, and the wet and slimy clothes certainly seemed to verify his assertion. About that time a lantern was brought by the conductor (Harry Brock) and the revelation it made, in spite of the solemnity of the surroundings, was ludicrous in the extreme. My box of eggs, when the car turned over, had fallen on Dawson's head and shoulders. and the contents were streaming from his battered hat—an old “stove-pipe”—and from hair and face and arms in a yellow cascade.
His change of expression upon the discovery was even more ridiculous than the plight he was in.
I was still an invalid when the army under General Terry, having captured Fort Fisher, marched into Wilmington on the 22d February, 1865. Fortunately they made but a short stay, excepting a garrison for the town, and thus our people were spared many of the horrors that were experienced elsewhere by the people of captured towns. It is but truth to say that, with a few exceptions, the officers in charge were humane, and kindly disposed, and some of them with whom I became acquainted were very clever gentlemen. Of course there were, as is always the case, some laughable incidents attending the entry of the troops into the town, and one I remember was the conduct of an elderly citizen—a very quiet man—who stood on a street corner watching the column pass without a word or sign until the negro troops, beside whom streamed a shouting mass of ex-slaves, appeared. Then he turned away, and with both hands raised and an indescribable expression of mingled horror and disgust exclaimed, “Blow, Gabriel, blow, for God's sake blow!”
Although not a participant in the battle of Fort Fisher (being an invalid in Wilmington), I witnessed during the progress of that terrific bombardment the most solemn and impressive scene, perhaps, in my experience.
It was during the Sunday morning service at old St. James church, when a large congregation was
present, nearly all the women of which were in deep mourning for dead Confederate soldiers, and profound gloom and anxiety for the fate of those engaged in the fight overshadowed the hearts of all. The thunder of the guns, distinctly audible and shaking the atmosphere like jelly, had been irregular until the Litany was read, when from the beginning of that solemn service to its conclusion almost simultaneously the responses of the congregation and the roar of broadsides united.
“From battle and murder, and from sudden death,” read the minister, “Good Lord, deliver us,” prayed the congregation, and, simultaneously “Boom—boom—boom,” answered the guns until the situation was almost intolerable. It was an experience never to be forgotten.
After the capture of Wilmington this venerable church, established in 1738, was seized by order of General Hawley for a military hospital, and in giving an account of it the rector, Dr. Watson (afterwards Bishop of the Diocese) reported to the Diocesan Convention of 1866 as follows:
“This was not the first calamity of the sort in the history of the Parish Church of St. James. In 1780, during the occupation of Wilmington by the British troops the church was stripped of its pews and furniture, and converted, first into a hospital, then into a blockhouse, and finally into a riding school for Tarleton's dragoons. In 1865 the pews were again torn out with pickaxes * * * * There
was sufficient room elsewhere, more suitable for hospital purposes. Other hospitals had to be emptied to supply even half the beds in the church which were indeed, never much more than half filled.”
Upon my first visit to Wilmington it was my happy fortune to be made known to Mr. George Davis, who was a recognized leader of the bar, and the foremost orator and cultured gentleman of the lower Cape Fear country. We were of the same blood, on one side, though distantly related, and I was then, as I am now, proud of my connection with such a gentleman. He was a man of spotless character, a quiet but high strung gentleman of the old school, who through all the vicissitudes of a long life never swerved a hair's breadth from his convictions of right and duty. Bred a Whig and honestly regarding the preservation of the Union—in spite of the defiant nullification of the Constitution and laws of the country by a large number of the Northern States—as the paramount interest of the American people, he was selected to represent the State in the Peace Conference at Washington just before the war. Upon the failure of that patriotic effort to save the Union, he cordially approved the secession of North Carolina when Mr. Lincoln called for troops from the State to make war on the other Southern States, and upon the organization of the Confederacy was elected Senator from North Carolina, which office he filled with honor, and was afterwards appointed by President Davis Attorney General of the Confederate
States, in which position he remained until the final surrender.
Mr. Davis was a really great lawyer of large attainments in his profession and wide culture outside of it, and an orator of the first order, but a very modest and unassuming man, who always discounted his own abilities, and never sought preferment, but was content to devote the remainder of his life to the practice of his profession in a comparatively obscure field, although he was offered the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of his State, and could have enjoyed similar honors if he had been willing to accept them. He was one of the last and noblest of the representatives of the old order of Southern lawyers and gentlemen of the old school, and passed to his reward at a ripe age some years ago.
There were many other able lawyers practicing at the Wilmington bar at that time, not one of whom is now living, and it is a pleasure to remember that each and every one of them practiced his profession according to the traditional usages and principles of the olden times, and felt an honorable pride in doing so. There were, as a matter of course, some wits and wags among them and many a good story has been lost with their passing away. Only a lawyer can appreciate two incidents that I remember as occurring in the old county court-house. An old practitioner who had not long before come from another county to settle in Wilmington, and who happened
that morning to be feeling a little “salubrious,” was called by the Judge presiding, a very dignified man, and requested, as the Judge was occupied with another matter to administer the insolvent debtor's oath to a man who was waiting for that ceremony. The man had never been in court in his life and was scared half to death, not knowing what was to be done to him. The old lawyer beckoned him around to the Clerk's desk, looked fiercely at him and said, “Take the book.” With trembling hands and a piteous countenance he did so, and the old lawyer, who was too far from the Judge to be heard, administered the oath in these words: “You solemnly swear that you are not worth a d— and never expect to be?” “I do, sir,” said the frightened man. “Then kiss the book,” and the lawyer gravely resumed his seat, while the insolvent citizen, relieved of all financial anxieties, went his way in peace. The other incident was when the most inveterate wit of the bar, answering a legally impossible statement by two opposing counsel, said he had no right to be surprised, as he understood one of them had brought an action of ejectment in another county on a lost deed, and the other had defended the suit under a nuncupative will—a purely technical witticism which, as I have said, only a lawyer can enjoy.
As a finale to the record of characters whom I personally knew around Wilmington it would not be just to omit one who was unique, if not distinguished, in my early recollections of the town. The facts in
regard to him, as given here, are nearly literally true, and may serve to illustrate a phase of our ante-bellum civilization which is not familiar to the present generation, and for their benefit I record them in the following form.
Ganey—Mr. Ganey, as he preferred to be called—was a curiosity; one of those half-witted creatures who occasionally startle us with an observation that sounds uncomfortably like satire. He lived in a cabin in the woods, worked sometimes, when obliged to, in the surrounding turpentine forest, but subsisted chiefly on the charity of the neighboring planters. Although “innocent of the trammels of spelling,” and as superstitious as the most ignorant African, he regarded himself as much better than his poor neighbors. He even assumed an air of familiarity—but in a very solemn way—with the gentlemen to whose houses he paid his periodical begging visits, and was extremely sensitive to any fancied slight on such occasions. In imitation of them he thought it incumbent on him to carry an umbrella, and wear a high hat and gloves of some kind, and he recognized no distinction as to the time when this was to be done; so that, even when chipping turpentine (by an act of trespass on some planter's land) he might sometimes be seen arrayed in a cast-off stove-pipe hat and tattered cotton gloves, and carrying a faded umbrella in one hand, and a turpentine hacker in the other. He liked to be “mistered” when spoken to, and a failure to so dignify
him was sure to be responded to by a similar neglect to attach a handle to the name of the person thus addressing him. He had contracted from the local piney woods preachers a habit of droning his words through his nose, and of adding, with an indescribable emphasis, “er” to every third or fourth one, without regard to whether it was a proper name or not. Strange to say, too, he was—perhaps from an incapacity to appreciate danger—absolutely fearless. He borrowed a gun on one occasion and went to a public gathering to demand satisfaction from a leading and wealthy planter for some alleged indignity to him. When asked what he was carrying a gun for, he replied that he “a totin’ it for that wolf-er.”
“What wolf do you mean?”
“I mean that Mc. . . . . . . .er,” he replied; and the gentleman referred to having just then made his appearance on the round, Ganey would have shot him if he had not been knocked down and disarmed. As soon as he recovered his feet he attempted a second assault, and to the magistrate who seized him and commanded the peace he said:
“You git out'n the way-er, you's a Dimmycrat-er, an’ me and him's both Whigs-er.”
When food for powder was getting very scarce during the war between the States Ganey was conscripted. He had escaped service up to that time because nobody would enlist him, but they took him at last. He was not afraid of the fighting that was in prospect, but he did have a mortal aversion to being
ordered about “like a nigger,” and made to sleep on the ground, and go hungry, and barefooted, and ragged, as he had seen some of the soldiers doing. So, when he was being brought into town, rigged out in his old stove-pipe hat and cotton gloves, and while crossing a deep and wide stream in a ferry boat, he suddenly stepped overboard, to the astonishment and dismay of the guard, and, disappearing for a moment, rose again serenly to the surface and began to float off, looking like a bottle with a long stopper in it. He was rescued and, on being asked how he managed to float, as he did not seem to try to swim, replied:
“I reckin the Lord done it-er—but I was a'treadin’ water-er.”
After an interview with the conscript officer, during which he solemnly swore that he was sixty-five years old, although not over forty, if that, it was thought best to put him in the Home Guard, and accordingly he was furnished with an old musket and sent to a sea-coast village which was garrisoned by a Home Guard regiment and a few regular troops. It was a very hot day and the road was through deep sand all the way. After trudging for two or three hours along this road he at last arrived in the village, and upon turning a corner of the street he came to a house with a wide piazza fronting the harbor, and discovered sitting on the piazza in his shirt-sleeves, reading a nswpaper and looking exceedingly comfortable, an elderly gentleman whom he at once recognized
as the proprietor of a large plantation in the county and whom he had often seen sitting on the county court bench. He immediately halted, brought his old musket down with a thud in the sand, wiped the streams of perspiration from his face with his sleeve, and without other salutation, said:
“I'd like to know how it is-er, that we poor folkser has to come a-walkin’ and a-sweatin’-er through the sand-er, for to fight the battles of the country-er, and you swell heads-er is a-settin’ on your piazzas a-keepin’ cool-er?”
“Good morning, Ganey,” said the gentleman, without noticing the inquiry.
“Good mornin’, Green-er,” replied Ganey, resenting the neglect to “mister” him, “but you haint answered my question-er.”
“Well, Ganey, the reason I am sitting here, and don't turn out with the soldiers is that I am an officer of the regiment.”
“You are an officer of the regiment-er? What officer are you-er?”
“I am the Commissary.”
“You are the Commissary-er? What is a Commissary-er?”
“A Commissary is the man that provides rations for the troops—that feeds them.”
“A Commissary is the man-er that provides rations for the troops-er, that feeds ’em-er? Well, what are we gwine to have for dinner to-day-er?”
“Really, I don't know, Ganey.”
“You don't know-er? Well, you're not fittin’ to be a Commissary-er; I'm a-gwine home-er.”
And he did go and was allowed to remain there.
One of Ganey's peculiarities was his inordinate fondness for ham, which he conceived to be the most aristocratic of all dishes, and sufficient, if supplemented by wheat bread, to satisfy the most fastidious palate. Bacon in any other form, and corn bread, were objects of his special contempt, the reason being that those articles constituted the standard dishes of the negroes and poor whites. Nothing short of extreme hunger and the inability to get other food could induce him to eat them. For a ham, however, and some flour he was always willing to sacrifice his pride, even to the extent of working, and the possession of these articles completely filled the measure of his happiness, and brought the umbrella, stove-pipe hat and gloves into continuous use while the larder held out.
The progress of the war, however, resulted in a steady reduction of the number of these seasons of happiness for him, and hams became correspondingly more precious in his sight.
Finally, when all was over, and the Northern soldiers took possession, Ganey, who had not seen a ham in a long time, learned that the Government Commissary in town was distributing rations to the half-starved people, and he thereupon started for the scene of action. His habiliments were more picturesque than ever. His head—which looked as if it
had been driven into his shoulders with a force that bent them—was covered by a “bell-crown” of the year 1856, and his clothes consisted of a threadbare and shiny “claw-hammer” of still earlier date, which displayed a waist of excessive length and a tail that appeared to have begun to grow out of it but had never reached maturity, and a pair of baggy cotton trousers. Supplementing these, he wore a pair of gloves which suggested a compromise between mittens and cavalry gauntlets, and the melancholy remains of a pair of Confederate shoes. His umbrella—originally a green cotton one, now colorless except where patched—was used as a walking cane, and with the rib ends tied around the handle, resembled a balloon in the first stages of inflation. As thus arrayed, and walking in the middle of the road leading to town, visions of ham—boiled ham, fried ham, and raw ham—and of flour in barrels, sacks, buckets, or cooked as bread, floated before him and quickened his gait. He did not “let on” to anybody the condition of his mind or stomach, but, as he afterwards confessed, he did “natally hone after ham and flour vittles.”
Underlying this longing appetite, however, there was a feeling of dissatisfaction with the business for which he had started to town. He had always regarded his levy of contributions on the surrounding planters as not only legitimate but as a sort of vested right which had been confirmed by long acquiescence on their part but he had never seen any “Yankees”—except
a foraging party, who were not engaged in distributing charity—and, being uncertain as to how he might be treated, and withal a little shaky generally in regard to the outcome of the business, he insensibly slackened his pace as he approached the ferry—the same ferry which had been the scene of his floating exploit.
There was a guard of blue-coats there, who were greatly tickled by his appearance, and who chaffed him a little, but good-naturedly sent him on with a word of encouragement, at which his spirits began to revive rapidly. At last he reached the town and meeting a citizen, said:
“Mister, whur's the Commissary-er?”
“At that large store, yonder,” answered the man, pointing to a building into and out of which persons were passing, and then laughing in spite of himself at Ganey's outlandish rig.
Now, Ganey did not know the name of the Commissary, and was therefore entirely ignorant of the fact that he bore the same name as the Commissary of the Home Guard, for whose knowledge of his duties he had expressed such contempt.
He went to the building designated, and upon entering saw what he thought was the most entrancing sight his eyes ever rested on. An apparently countless number of flour barrels were piled over the wide floors, and hams by the hundred were hanging up, or scattered around, loose. Women and children were being supplied by the clerks with provisions of all
sorts, and the rush of business quite bewildered him. Several young men of the town had been employed by the Commissary to assist in the work of distribution, and to designate the most needy of the applicants for assistance. One of these young men recognized Ganey as soon as he came in, but said nothing, knowing that Ganey did not remember him, even if he had ever seen him before, and having heard the story of his conversation with the Home Guard Commissary, and remembering the identity of the names of the two commissaries he at once resolved to have a little fun.
Every moment of his stay in the store seemed to enlarge the hollow in Ganey's anatomy, until he felt as if his whole interior was a howling wilderness. He looked and ached, going farther and farther into the store until he reached a point in front of the clerk, when the latter very politely inquired what he wished.
“I want to see the Commissary-er.”
“You'll have to send in your name before he will see you, he's very busy just now.”
‘My name's Ganey-er, George Washington Ganeyer.”
“Ah! Ganey's your name, is it? Then you are the man that insulted him, and told him he was a very ignorant Commissary not to know what the soldiers were going to have for dinner—and all that sort of thing. What do you want to see him for?”
The expression on Ganey's face was indescribable.
“He told us,” added the clerk, “that you would
probably come in for a little help, and to be on the lookout for you.”
“Who told you-er?” asked Ganey, with a wild look.
“I said the Commissary told us,” answered the clerk.
“The Yankee Commissary-er?”
“Do you wish to insult Captain Green again, by calling him a Yankee?” said the clerk, sharply.
“Yes, yes, Captain Green, the Commissary, the man that provides rations for the troops, that feeds ’em.”
Poor Ganey! The hams and flour barrels seemed to be receding from his gaze, to be fading in the dim distance never to return, while the figure of Captain Green, sitting in his shirt sleeves, with a newspaper in his hands which fluttered in the breeze, rose up mockingly between him and this vision of bliss. His countenance assumed an expression of despair which was pitiful to see, and the heart of the clerk failed him in presence of such evident suffering. Finally he said:
“Mr. Ganey, Captain Green is a good, kind man, and I'll go into the office and see him for you. Perhaps he will not be hard with you.”
Back again came the vision, slowly, but each moment more distinctly, until the world seemed to him to be a vast plain of snow-white flour, studded with golden hams.
“But here comes the Captain, now,” and while
Ganey looked anxiously for the elderly gentleman whom he knew, a fine looking young man walked out towards them and the clerk, addressing him, said:
“Captain Green, this is Mr. Ganey who wishes to see you,” and immediately disappeared, leaving the two confronting each other.
The Captain thought this was the rarest specimen of a native he had yet encountered, and, regarding him for a moment during which he tried hard to keep his countenance, he said:
“Well, sir, what do you wish to see me about?”
“Are you the Commissary-er?”
“That feller told me-er, Capt'n Green were the Commissary-er,” said Ganey, with indignation.
“Well, that was right; I am Captain Green.”
Not until then did the truth dawn on Ganey, and it lifted a great weight from his heart. He looked around upon the wealth of hams and flour with an inexpressible longing, and then said:
“I heerd you was a-givin’ out-er of rations-er, and I come to git some-er,—some ham-er and flour-er,” the last words being uttered in a tone of almost pathetic anxiety.
“Were you in the rebel army?” asked the Captain.
“They tuck me-er for the Home Guard-er, but I left the fust day-er,” quickly answered Ganey; and he felt that he was getting closer to the hams and flour.
“Because,” said the Captain, “we reserve the best rations for the rebel soldiers and their families.”
Ganey almost fainted, and the entire stock of hams and flour seemed to have been suddenly snatched away by an evil spirit.
In despair he asked:
“What d'ye call-er the best rations-er?”
“Oh, fresh meats, canned meats and vegetables, sugar and coffee and the like,” answered the Captain.
Ganey had never seen any canned meat and did not know what the phrase meant, but he hoped—Oh! how he hoped it did not not mean ham. So, with almost a wail in his voice, he asked the question, and, upon receiving a negative answer, the vision re-appeared to him with more vividness than ever, and under its influence he almost forgot his “ers” in stating his case and the necessity of ham and flour to his very existence. The Captain was, as the clerk said, a good, kind man, and recognizing the situation he overwhelmed Ganey with astonishment by giving him two hams, a small sack of flour and some other things, with he eagerly seized upon and started off with, merely saying, as he left:
“I wish you well-er.”
As he went out of town, fairly staggering under his load, he met the Commissary of the Home Guard who hailed him and said:
“Why, Ganey, you must have been to see the Yankee Commissary.”
“Yes, and he knows what I'm gwine to have-er for dinner to-day-er!”CHAPTER III.
Strange, and even startling, coincidences are not uncommon in the experience of most persons. One of the most remarkable in mine occurred in 1873, as follows: An invitation to deliver the annual address before the Franklin Literary Society of Randolph-Macon College, Va., reached me at my home in Wilmington, and a reply accepting it was mailed the next day, after which my little boy, returning from school, brought me something which he said he had picked up while playing in the school-yard, and asked what it was. It was a circular piece of metal covered with rust and dirt, and to gratify his curiosity I took the trouble to clean it thoroughly when, to my astonishment, it turned out to be a bronze seal bearing on one side the legend, “Eripuit fulmen cœlo, sceptrumque tyrannis” and on the other side, “Franklin Literary Society,” Randolph-Macon College. Of course the incident was the preface to my speech when delivered, and the return of the seal to the President of the Society, who was on the stage with me, followed by the statement of Dr. Duncan, the President of the College, that the seal had been lost for twenty-five years, made a sensation.
I had taken my little boy with me to the College, and he sat far back in the audience. After the exercises
were over, I asked him if he heard any comment from any one in the audience upon the recital of the incident, to which he replied, that a man seated near him said, “Oh, that's too thin.” Well, a gentleman engaged in politics can not expect all his statements to pass unchallenged.
One of the most extraordinary experiences of this sort that ever occurred within my knowledge (and concerning which a private letter, written at the time and giving the particulars, is still in my possession) was, at his request, furnished to Mr. James Sprunt, the great cotton exporter and accomplished writer of Wilmington, who had himself been through a similar experience, and he published the story about fifteen years ago as one of the “Tales of the Cape Fear Blockade” in The Southport Leader, and with his permission it is here reproduced:
“On the second day of February, 1834, Mr. John Waddell, a prominent citizen of the Cape Fear, the uncle of Col. A. M. Waddell and of Capt. Hugh Waddell, took passage for himself and twenty-two of his slaves in the American Brig Enconium from Charleston, S. C., for New Orleans, it being Mr. Waddell's purpose to cultivate with his own servants a plantation on the Red River of which he was the owner. When about two days out from Charleston, the Enconium encountered a gale of wind which increased to a hurricane, carrying away sails and top-hamper, and straining her hull, spars and rigging so as to greatly endanger the lives of those on board.
For three days and nights the sun and stars were totally obscured so that it was impossible to determine by observation the position of the vessel, which was driven by the wind currents they knew not whither. The perilous condition of the brig increased until about the sixth day, when a climax was reached by her stranding at night upon an unknown reef, which subsequently proved to be near Abaco, one of the Bahama Islands, well known, many years after, to all the blockade runners bound to and from Nassau and Wilmington. The inhabitants of these islands, and especially of Abaco, were nearly all negroes, who followed the profession of wreckers, a vocation so allied to piracy as to be often a distinction without a difference. Owing to the roughness of the sea, or to the absence of the natives in more favorable positions for wreckage, the Enconium remained hard and fast on the reef during a day and night, without any prospect of relief or rescue from the breakers, which threatened every moment to destroy her, and engulf the wretched passengers, who clung to the wreck in an agony of despair, straining their eyes in every direction for help. At last a passing Bahama schooner hove to, and after infinite risk and labor, landed the Enconium's people on Abaco, and then proceeded to save as much of the cargo as possible.
“The rescuer proved to be a wrecking vessel, entirely out of her usual track, commanded by a white man of extraordinary intelligence, who informed Mr. Waddell that the position of the Enconium was so
remote from the usual wrecking ground, they would in all probability have perished, had he not, by a mere chance, been sailing in that vicinity. After some delay on the island, a vessel was chartered by the Captain of the wrecked brig to take his passengers and crew to Nassau, where, immediately upon their arrival in the harbor, they were prohibited by the authorities from landing, and from holding any intercourse with the shore. Being destitute of provisions however, they entreated the Governor for permission to refit and proceed towards their destination, instead of which they were ordered to lie under the guns of a British man-of-war on that station, until their case could be investigated. On the following day, orders were given to land the entire company. Immediately after this was effected, the negro slaves were declared free by the Governor, and the men given the choice of joining the negro regiment then on garrison duty, or of obtaining other employment on shore. In vain Mr. Waddell protested through the American Consul, against this extraordinary proceeding, which he characterized as an outrage upon the rights of an American citizen. The Governor was obdurate, and upon Mr. Waddell's attempt to recover and re-ship his slaves, threatened to hang him forthwith if he did not desist. It appears that none of the slaves volunteered to return with their former master, being attracted to their new-found liberty by the agreeable climate, the ease and idleness of the vagrant negro inhabitants, and
doubtless by a lively recollection of the horrors of the sea, from which they had been so happily delivered. Mr. Waddell therefore returned by the first opportunity to the Cape Fear, a sadder and a wiser man. He subsequently recovered through the United States Government a part of the value of the lost property from the British Crown.
“Twenty-seven years after, and during the first year of the late Civil War, a nephew of Mr. John Waddell, Capt. Hugh Waddell, now of Washington, D. C., while on the staff of General Clingman, became weary of the tedium and restraint of camp life and obtained a furlough, with permission to take a trip to the West Indies, through the Federal Blockade. His father, the late Hon. Hugh Waddell, and his mother, were living in Pittsboro, N. C., at that time, and thither he proceeded, having engaged passage on one of the blockade running steamers then preparing for departure at Charleston, for Nassau. During this family reunion, his pleasurable anticipations were occasionally marred by the apprehensions of his devoted mother, who, while avowing her willingness to give him up for his country's defense, viewed with much alarm his proposed adventure through the blockade, which seemed fraught with unnecessary dangers. Of these forebodings he made sport at first, but was so touched by his mother's distress at parting, and especially by a letter from her which reached him just before the vessel sailed, that he decided to abandon the voyage, and forfeit the
passage money if necessary. The boat which was waiting to take him on board, was accordingly sent back for the luggage, which had preceded him, and Capt. Hugh Waddell returned at once to his duties.
“The frail steamer, upon which his passage had been engaged, proceeded through the blockade, encountered a gale at sea, and went down with all on board. Hastily constructed, and criminally unsafe, designed for space and speed, without any regard for the unfortunate lives on board, this cockle shell of a boat was a type of many others which went to the bottom during the four years war. It was my misfortune, some months later, to pass three of the most miserable days and nights of a lifetime on board a similar vessel—waterlogged and helpless, upon a raging sea, from which we were rescued at last as by a miracle.
“It is remarkable that Captain Waddell's desire to run the blockade did not die with his first attempt. After a few more months of service in the field, he felt an irrepressible longing for the sea, and again obtained the desired permission—this time by way of Savannah, Ga., but did not inform his family of his intention. Accordingly, he joined some pilots in fitting out a small schooner, upon which, with a venture of a few bales of cotton as cargo, they cautiously approached the bar, and found it so closely guarded by the Federal cruisers, that a whole month was spent in ineffectual efforts to pass them. At last, on the 19th of December, 1861, a bold attempt
on a favorable wind was successful, although they were obliged to sail within a hundred yards of the blockaders; and when morning dawned they found themselves out of sight of land, with a clear horizon. The first two days passed pleasantly enough, with a fair breeze and no hostile sail in sight, but the morning of the third day broke with heavy rains and high wind, increasing in fury for two days, during which, in consequence of bad navigation, they drifted far to the westward, and in the middle of the night, to the horror of all on board, ran into the breakers off “Little Joe's Cay” on the Bahama banks, and pounded with great force upon the bottom.
“Captain Waddell was asleep in the cabin when this occurred, and was roughly awakened by the shock which pitched him against the side of the vessel as she keeled over in the surf. Immediately afterwards he heard the terrified Captain on deck kick open the hatchway and shout ‘come out, boys, come out, we are lost.’ In a subsequent letter to his mother, Captain Waddell said, ‘I crawled out as soon as possible, without hat or coat, and such a sight I trust I may never behold again. The breakers were running mountain high, and it was as dark as pitch, and all we could see was the white caps on the waves as they rolled by and over us. The vessel was in a moment covered with water and lying on one side, from which she was raised by every breaker and carried forward about half a length, to be cast down on the rocks with
such violence as nearly to crush her to pieces.’ During this fearful night everything aloft and below was swept away, except a small boat swung in the davits and the six desperate men who clung to the rail and to the stumps of the masts as best they could. The hull proved to be staunch and true to the last. Each succeeding wave sent them higher upon the reef, until a fearful roller lifted them on its crest and dashed them with such force upon a coral bed that the vessel was broken nearly in twain, and the stern sank, leaving the bow on the reef, with the hapless crew clinging to the bowsprit and broken cordage.
“When day dawned they saw land about four miles off, and having saved the small boat in a damaged condition, the Captain and two men undertook at greater risk to their lives, to make for the shore, and, if possible, obtain assistance for the rescue of those remaining on the wreck and hanging to the bowsprit, which was the only part above water. Before leaving them, the Captain had little hope of reaching the land; the small boat being unseaworthy, and liable to sink at any moment. Nevertheless, he said, they could but die if they remained, and he would prefer dying in an attempt to save his shipmates as well as himself. In a few minutes the little boat was out of sight, the waves still rolling fearfully high. Hours passed without relief to the poor fellows on the wreck; the night came, and with it increasing danger from exhaustion. At daybreak
the three heroic fellows were still clinging to the wreck, but their faces were drawn and haggard with despair as they vainly turned to each other for encouragement. When the tide fell, it left enough of the bow above water upon which they could huddle together, and Waddell soon fell asleep, from which he was shortly awakened by the sea breaking over his feet. When the tide turned they were obliged to climb out upon the bowsprit, but not until they had knelt down in the water and commended their souls to God, believing that the end was at hand. Captain Waddell had been upon the bowsprit about an hour when, resting his head upon a rope, he again fell asleep for a few minutes, when he suddenly awoke and said to the man nearest to him: ‘I have had a strange dream; I dreamed that a sail appeared over yonder, and gradually the hull of a white schooner arose, which sailed straight for us and hove to within speaking distance, after which she lowered a small boat painted green and white, which approached us rapidly, but on coming near changed its course and steered for the sunken stern of the wreck and swinging around to the bow, hailed us in these words: “Hand me down that young man in the middle first,” referring to me.’ The companion to whom he told his dream turned his face sadly away saying he wished to God it would come true. About an hour after, when, parched with thirst, and weak from exposure and hunger, they were almost wishing for death, one of the unfortunate men asked
if an object which he saw in the distance was not a light house, whereupon another turned his eyes around and looked, and in a moment cried out ‘It is a sail.’ He continued looking for a few moments, and then turned to the others and burst out crying, exclaiming, ‘we are saved, we are saved.’ They all then fell to weeping, like little children, and as the vessel approached nearer they saw to their amazement that it was the same as described in Waddell's dream. The sails were soon furled and a small boat painted green and white lowered, which came rapidly towards them, when one of the men, lifting his hand reverently, exclaimed, ‘My God, it is all just as Waddell dreamt; let us watch and see if the rest will come true!’ When within a few yards of the wreck, the small boat swept around the stern, and, coming towards the bowsprit, the steersman shouted: ‘Thank God, you are saved! Hand me down that young man in the middle, first.’ Their joy at deliverance was complete when they learned, in a few moments, that their friends who had gone in search of assistance, had drifted out to sea, and that the schooner had picked them up and then hastened to rescue those who were still clinging to the wreck. When they reached the schooner the three friends who had gone off for help were eagerly waiting at the rail to congratulate them, and when they climbed on board there were six strong men embraced in each other's arms, weeping as if their hearts would break. Not having had a mouthful to eat or drink in about four
days, they all fell to eating potatoes, which was the only food on board, and made a very hearty meal. Exhaustion then overtook them, and they became completely prostrated. The men who rescued them were wreckers by profession, and they succeeded in recovering from the wreck a part of the cargo.
“Waddell's party in the meantime obtained shelter on shore at the house of the Captain, Matthew Lowe, until the schooner was ready to take them to her destination, Green Turtle Cay, (where, strangely enough, the writer was shipwrecked two years later, and had to remain in a negro hut for three weeks waiting for deliverance.) Captain Waddell had then an opportunity of examining the surrounding country, which he found to be entirely destitute of both food and fresh water; it was, in fact, nothing more than an immense mass of coral. Their rescuer, Captain Lowe, told them that it was the first time he had been in that region for about two weeks, and that their escape was a miracle. In the evening, while they were all sitting around the fire, an old lady, who was one of the household, told them of many notable wrecks; among which she said was the case of one John Waddell, who was wrecked more than 25 years before, about eight miles off, with a number of slaves, who were subsequently liberated at Nassau. She said that her husband, the brother of Captain Waddell's rescuer, had saved John Waddell, who was the kindest gentleman she
had ever met. When she learned that she was speaking to the nephew of John Waddell, and that he had been saved from shipwreck, under almost precisely the same circumstances, and by one of the two brothers, she was greatly astonished, because, she said, there were hundreds of wreckers, and nearly three hundred miles of reefs and bays, along the Bahamas.
“In a few days the party was conveyed via Green Turtle Cay to Nassau where, twenty-seven years before, the uncle had also landed in distress. Captain Waddell soon found Southern friends and sympathizers, who speedily supplied his wants, and he proceeded to the Royal Victoria Hotel, a well known hostelry to the present day. There he registered his name, and the clerk called a bell boy, saying, ‘Show Mr. Waddell to his room,’ whereupon an old negress, who was scrubbing the floor, looked quickly up, with ‘Whut is yo’ name, sah?’ When she learned upon further inquiry that he was from Wilmington, she was greatly pleased and interested, and informed him that she was one of the former slaves of his uncle, whom he had left on the island so many years ago.
“Some weeks later, Captain Waddell sailed for the Georgia coast in a small vessel laden with salt. They were in the gulf stream, ‘hove to,’ for five days, in a fearful storm, the worst known in many years; but they succeeded in running through the blockade without injury, although they passed so near to six
blockaders at night, that they could distinguish a man smoking on deck.
“The foregoing narrative is not only a true story, but many of the minor incidents which might make it one of the most remarkable records of the war times, have been forgotten, and only the main facts have been gleaned from old letters, and from conversations with members of the family referred to.”
In connection with the foregoing narrative of a blockade-running venture it will not be inappropriate to recite another case which, although it did not involve any coincidences, splendidly illustrated the heroism and fidelity to duty of a Cape Fear pilot.
Among these blockade-runners in 1863 was a steamer called the Mary Celeste. Her pilot was John William Anderson, of Smithville, and he, like all the best pilots, was as familiar with the channels over the bars, both at New Inlet (where Fort Fisher stood and which is now closed) and at the mouth of the river, as a farmer is with the roads over his land. One night, in the month of August, 1863, Anderson took the Mary Celeste out over New Inlet Bar, and gliding past the blockading fleet, which was always watching for such valuable prizes, escaped under cover of the darkness and reached Nassau in safety. He only escaped one danger to run into a more fearful one. Yellow fever was raging there, and the victims of that scourge were most numerous among the sailors and other non-residents. Anderson was stricken with the fever just before the Mary
Celeste weighed anchor for her return voyage, and by the time she neared the North Carolina coast it was evident he must die.
An entrance through the blockading fleet could, of course, only be made between sunset and sunrise, and, as Anderson was the only Cape Fear pilot on board, great anxiety prevailed as to the safety of the ship. At last the critical hour arrived when, in the uncertain light of the dawn, they found that they had run near a blockader and had been seen by her. The blockader opened fire on the Mary Celeste and pursued her. Like a scared greyhound she made straight for New Inlet Bar, then visible several miles away, and after her steamed the blockader, from whose bow gun every few minutes would leap a flame, followed by a shell which would pass over or through her rigging and burst in the air, or, striking the sea, would flash a great column of spray towards the sky. By this time poor Anderson was dying below in his berth, and the officers of the ship began to realize the terrible situation in which they found themselves, with the enemy in pursuit and before them a bar over which it was almost certain destruction for any one aboard except Anderson to attempt to steer the Mary Celeste. Anderson heard the firing and knew what it meant before they told him. He knew, too, that he was dying and had no further interest in this world's affairs, but the sense of duty asserted itself even in the presence of death.
He was too weak to go up, but he demanded to be
taken on deck and carried to the man at the wheel. Two strong sailors lifted him and carried him up to the wheelhouse. They stood him on his feet and supported him on either side. His face was as yellow as gold, and his eyes shone like stars. He fixed his unearthly gaze upon the long line of breakers ahead, then upon the dim line of pines that stood higher than the surrounding forest, then at the compass for a moment, and then said calmly, “Hard starboard!” Quick revolved the wheel under the hands of the helmsman; slowly veered the stem of the rushing steamer, and a shell hurtled over the pilot-house and went singing toward the beach.
Anderson kept his gaze fixed on the breakers, and in the same calm tone said, “Steady.” On ploughed the steamer straight for her goal, while the group of men in the pilot-house stood in profound silence, but fairly quivering with suppressed excitement. The blockader, now seeing that it was impossible to overtake her and not desiring to come within range of the big guns of Fort Fisher, abandoned the chase with a farewell shot, and the Mary Celeste, now nearly on the bar, slacked her pace a little, and nothing but the swash of the sea and the trembling thud of the ship under the force of the engine could be heard. The dying pilot, though failing fast, continued in the same calm tone to give his directions. They were now crossing the bar but had passed the most dangerous point, when he bent his head as if to cough, and the horrified men saw that last fatal symptom
which immediately preceded dissolution—black vomit—and knew that the end was very near. He knew it, too, but gave no sign of fear and continued at his post. His earthly home was now visible to his natural eye—he was almost there where loved ones awaited his coming—but nearer still to his spiritual vision was the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. At last the bar was safely crossed, smooth water was reached, the engine slowed down, the Mary Celeste glided silently into the horbor, stopped her headway gradually, lay still, loosed her anchor chains, dropped her anchor, and as the last loud rattle of her cable ceased, the soul of John William Anderson took its flight to the undiscovered country.CHAPTER IV.
Although the war did not end with the capture of Wilmington, but continued for two months longer, it was practically completed, and the final result was recognized as inevitable by all intelligent persons, and the thought uppermost in every mind was: What next? It is not my purpose to recite the public events which made up the history of that period, but rather to recall some incidents that came under my personal observation. The first one occurred a day or two after the occupation of the town, when at the dinner hour (corn bread and bacon) I heard a crash and a scream on my back piazza, and hurrying out found a terrified servant girl, a lot of smashed crockery and scattered bread and meat, and a young, half-drunk Yankee soldier standing against the railing. To my demand for an explanation of his presence he said he didn't want any rebel insolence—that that sort of thing was played out—whereupon I took him by the collar, led him around to the front door, and told him to leave and not return, which, to my surprise, he did.
Not long afterwards one of the pilots at Smithville (now Southport) was arrested on the charge, I think, of having been a blockade-runner, and was brought to Wilmington and put in jail. He sent for
me and upon my arrival said he was not well, didn't know why he was arrested, and was extremely anxious to get back to his family. I had noticed particularly an assistant surgeon of the Northern troops, who was evidently a young doctor from the rural districts, and whose whole appearance and manner impressed me with the idea that he wouldn't object to supplementing his pay by a little outside practice. In addition to his eager and restless countenance I observed that his coat sleeve didn't cover his wrist and that he had hands and fingers of enormous length which suggested a large capacity for reaching after things. Remembering this gentleman, I asked the pilot if he had any money on his person. He said he did and produced quite a sum.
I told him there was only one chance and that was to get a surgeon's certificate that he was ill and would die if kept in jail, and that could not be asked for without offering to pay for it. He readily caught my plan, and offered all his money. Taking fifty dollars, I went to find the surgeon, and apologized for intruding on him, but said a friend of mine was under arrest for some unknown cause, and was in jail and claimed to be ill—that my friend had no right to call on an army surgeon for his services but if he would kindly visit the prisoner, and could consistently with his duty, certify that he was too ill to be confined and ought to be at once released it would give me great pleasure to hand him the fifty dollars which I held in my hand. The effect
was magical. I had hardly finished before he was out of his chair and on his way to the door with his hat on. In about fifteen minutes he returned and said the pilot was very ill and would die if kept where he was, and that he had given the necessary certificate and arranged for his immediate discharge—whereupon with a grave face I handed over the cash with thanks, and soon saw the pilot on his way home as well as he ever was.
Was there anything morally wrong on my part in that transaction?
There were no courts in the State at that time but lawyers had some opportunity to earn a living by drawing petitions for pardon and deeds for the transfer of real estate and other commercial transactions, and being for a while the only lawyer left in Wilmington, I managed to get a living.
As an illustration of the situation, tragic and alarming at the time, but really a farce so far as the law and the Constitution were concerned, two citizens of Bladen County who had been arrested by the military authorities for a murder alleged to have been committed during the war and before the Federals had occupied Wilmington, and were arraigned for trial before a military court (whether called a Commission or Court-Martial I don't remember) in Wilmington, employed me to defend them. To a lawyer the whole proceeding of trying by a military court two citizens for the alleged murder of another citizen before the army had taken possession of the
region in which the alleged murder had been committed was, of course, an absurdity, and a mere display of brutum fulmen, but we went through the trial before the brass-buttoned officers, and the fact having been proven that the victim was a “loyal” citizen, the tribunal (it would be ridiculous to call it a court) promptly pronounced the two citizens, who were highly respectable men, guilty of murder and sentenced them to death, on purely circumstantial evidence.
They were incarcerated in a vile den with a strong guard over them, but by some mysterious influence they escaped—poorer than when confined, by a thousand dollars or more.
About this time or a little later, some of the newcomers, with more money than discretion, thought they could inaugurate an agricultural campaign that would not only prove to be immensely profitable to themselves, but educational to the benighted planters of the Cape Fear country, who—as they believed—had ignorantly and wastefully managed their affairs; and accordingly they bought or rented rice plantations, and, hiring hordes of freedmen, undertook to cultivate that staple commodity in an enlightened and scientific way. The result was pitiful and disastrous to every one who undertook it, without exception, and in the course of a year or two they, each and every one, went broke and sought other fields of enterprise, the chief one being the field of carpetbag politics, which just then began to blossom and
give promise of a rich harvest. Suppressing the indignation which that era naturally evoked, there has always been to my mind an element of pathos in the career of the carpet-bagger. Travesty as it was on government of any kind, and sin as it was against American civilization, and laughable as it was in the very extravagance of its scoundrelism, it is impossible to escape a sentiment of pity for its humiliating outcome.
And what adequate tribute can be paid to the men whose patient forbearance, and wise conduct, and splendid courage enabled them in the face of apparently insurmountable difficulties to rescue the State from the perils that environed it, and restore its ancient character for integrity and conservatism? A clearer and more overwhelming vindication of the masterfulness of a people, and of their capacity for self government has never been seen; and yet there are American citizens, some of whom are designated as statesmen by their followers, who at this late day (forty years after the war) are still striving to obstruct the magnificent progress which has followed the supremacy of such men in the government of their States, and to cripple their influence in national affairs. And this not from any well-grounded fear that the welfare of the country is endangered by this righteous restoration, but solely because of an unholy desire to perpetuate the political and commercial domination of other States, and
the power and patronage of a party! Surely the mills of God grind slowly.
The first thing in the way of a popular entertainment after the war that I can recall was the lecture of “Artemus Ward,” illustrative of his experiences on the Pacific Coast, which was delivered in a little room, dignified by the name of Mozart Hall, on Front street. There had never been any similar performance in the history of the town, and the audience (which was not large and did not know the real character of the lecture) were at first puzzled, but in a few moments caught the spirit of the humorist and thenceforward gave themselves up to the most hilarious merriment.
It was indeed a sort of revelation of a new phase of American humor which at once captured every one who heard it. Of course it was absurd and not intellectual, but it was so quaintly absurd and ridiculous that the most serious minded person could not restrain the impulse to laugh immoderately.
Not long afterwards we had an opportunity to hear that wonderful violinist, Vienxtemps in the same hall and that also was to most of the audience a revelation but of a very different kind. And this reminds me that one of the pleasantest incidents about that period that I can remember was a day's travel in company with Ole Bull, the great violinist, to whose music I had listened with wonder and whom I found to be an exceedingly well informed man, especially upon a subject in which I was at the time
much interested, namely, the early Scandinavian voyages to America.
He also came to Wilmington and gave one of his marvelous exhibitions of skill as a violinist, and, as showing his genial disposition and kindly spirit, when one of his Norwegian countrymen, the late John C. Bailey, of Wilmington, accompanied me in a call upon him at his hotel, he not only entertained us with pleasant conversation, but voluntarily took out his favorite instrument and delighted us for nearly an hour with the most delicious music I ever heard.
Except to those who are already informed in regard to his history, it may be interesting to state that Ole Bull, who next to Paganini, was the greatest violinist the world has ever produced, was also a hero and a cultured gentleman. He played the violin at the age of five, and when nine years old was first violinist in the theater where his father was an actor. He overcame many adversities and before he was twenty-five years of age had established his reputation in every country of Europe. In the revolution of 1848 in France he marched at the head of a regiment through the streets of Paris, as I was informed and could easily believe from my slight acquaintance with him, for he was a fine type of man, physically and intellectually, and possessed a temperament marked by enthusiasm. He put more soul into his violin than any great artist I ever heard, and the effect was correspondingly overpowering.
In the summer of 1868 Mr. Louis H. DeRosset,
who during the war had gone to the West Indies in the interest of the Confederacy, and when all hope of success vanished had at the solicitation of some English friends gone to England where he became for several years the private secretary of Lord Lytton (Bulwer), was on a visit home and asked me and three other gentlemen to join him in publicly reading “The Rightful Heir,” one of Lord Lytton's dramas, on a certain evening which would be simultaneous with the production of the play in London—the purpose being to thus secure the American copyright. We cheerfully complied with the request and each of us read an act of the drama at the opera house, and each of us afterwards received an autograph letter of thanks from Lord Lytton. Mine was dated October 15th, 1868, and has been preserved for the autograph.
Among the pleasant memories of my life was the close intercourse between me and my double-first cousin Capt. James Iredell Waddell, who commanded the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah, the only ship that carried the Confederate flag around the world. This companionship was after the war, for he had been an officer of the United States Navy when I was a boy, and we had not met for many years. He was one of the many victims of that stupendous tragedy, a splendid specimen of manhood physically, and as brave, true and gallant a gentleman as ever trod a quarter deck. Reared in the navy from the age of 17, and having served under the flag in every sea, he was devoted
to it and to his country's service, and it nearly broke his heart when a sense of duty compelled him to resign his commission and offer his services to his native South. He had been on the Asiatic Station for some time when the war between the States broke out, and was kept there as long as possible, but immediately upon his return to the United States he resigned, and was promptly arrested as a suspected enemy. He had not seen his wife for two or three years and asked the privilege of visiting her at Annapolis for two days, which was granted, and after a few hours visit he bade her good-bye and “ran the blockade” across the Potomac at night into Virginia and to Richmond, where he was given a commission in the Confederate service. In 1864 he was assigned to the command of the Shenandoah and made his around-the-world cruise, doing enormous damage to the commerce of the enemy and having many remarkable experiences, one of the most dramatic of which was the burning of five or six whalers loaded with oil, in Behring Straits, about dusk, when the burning oil spread over the sea making a magnificent spectacle and endangering his own ship, which was compelled to run for her life to escape destruction. The publication of a history of this cruise by a petty officer who was the only deserter from the ship after her arrival in Liverpool after a most trying experience, and the exact identity of this publication with the diary of the surgeon of the ship, which mysteriously disappeared at the time of his desertion, justified the
belief that it was stolen, and the deserter and thief supplemented the facts of the diary by a most infamous attack upon the integrity of the commanding officer against whom he bore a bitter grudge for having been severely disciplined by him. As the publication did give the history of the cruise (aside from this attack,) any subsequent history of it would have been superfluous except as a vindication of the slandered officer, and therefore none was made. A just tribute to the memory of Captain Waddell was delivered at Raleigh several years ago by Capt. S. A. Ashe, who served under him when himself a cadet in the Navy.
Because of a correspondence between Judge Kelley, of Pennsylvania, afterwards known as “Pig Iron Kelley,” and myself in which he cordially invited me to call on him in Washington where he was a member of Congress, I took occasion on my first trip to the North after the war, to stop in Washington, and going to the Capitol, to send in my card for Judge Kelley.
He immediately came out, and, against my protestation, insisted on taking me on the floor of the House. We went in, and one of the first persons to whom he introduced me was—not a member, but Theodore Tilton, who seemed to be a guest in the lobby. Judge Kelley said, “Mr. Tilton, allow me to introduce my friend Colonel Waddell, late of the Confederate Army,” whereupon Mr. Tilton bowed stiffly and said, “Well Sir, new that you have seen us Yankees,
you don't find any horns or hoofs on us, do you?” To which I replied, “Oh! no, Mr. Tilton, I've seen Yankees before, and behind, and they do not alarm me in the least.” Then Judge Kelley asked me to go with him down the aisle on his side of the House, and to my dismay, introduced me in the same terms to Mr. Thaddeus Stevens, who was in his seat and looked up indifferently acknowledging the introduction, and immediately indulged in a diatribe upon the “drunken tailor at the other end of the avenue,” meaning Andrew Johnson, the President. Being no admirer of the President, I said nothing, and soon got away from what was an undesired interview with the most detested individual, to me and every Southerner, in the country.
My position was very embarrassing to me, and I speedily bade good-bye to Judge Kelley, and left the sacred precincts of the Capitol. It was on this trip that my first, and last interview with the famous “Spiritual Medium,” Mr. Foster, occurred. It was at the earnest request of one of the proprietors of Willard's Hotel, Mr. Chadwick, that I remained over night to enjoy this experience, expecting nothing except, perhaps, some absurd trickery, but the result was so astounding that I have never forgotten and will never forget it. There were four of us who went up to the barely furnished room of Mr. Foster, and we were all strangers to each other—except that
Maj. H. A. Gilliam, of North Carolina, and I were acquainted, the other two being respectively from Alabama and Georgia, and we were introduced respectively as gentlemen from these several States. I have often told in social intercourse what occurred at that meeting, and no one has ever yet attempted to explain or account for the extraordinary and incomprehensible results of it. To give in detail what occurred—the recollection of which is indelibly engraved upon my memory—would be to recite what any ordinary person would regard as an incredible story, and therefore I omit any account of it—but it certainly was very astounding. Mr. Foster was a man of medium stature, with dark hazel eyes, whose expression when in repose seemed to me to be sad and introspective, and his manner was quiet and gentlemanly. He indulged in no attempt at mystery or secrecy of any kind, but was perfectly natural in all his conversation and conduct, although he had a dreamy look while engaged in “communicating” with any of us, and after an hour of most extraordinary demonstrations of his peculiar gifts, begged us to excuse him for the reason that the work was very exhausting to him. We bade him good-bye, all of us wondering what in the world was the meaning and explanation of such an apparently supernatural performance, but none of us having any more faith in Spiritualism than before. Foster was at that time at the height of his fame, and must have been receiving a large income
from his interviews. I believe the Psychologists who have for many years investigated phenomena of this kind are still baffled in their efforts to account for them, although my knowledge of the literature of psychology is limited. I have often heard the whole matter summarily disposed of by knowing persons who declared that it was “nothing but mind-reading, or hypnotism,” without ever seeming to reflect that mind-reading or hypnotism is quite as difficult to account for as so-called spiritual manifestations.
In 1868 an election was ordered in the state on the question of amending the Constitution, and the newly enfranchised negroes were in high feather over their accession to the right of suffrage, and disposed to assert to the fullest what they supposed to be their especial privileges. In Wilmington they were decidedly on top, and were appointed poll-holders and judges of election. I can never forget that my venerable father, being asked to go to the polls and vote, and complying without ever thinking of what he might encounter there, presented himself at the polling place, and was confronted by a black fellow citizen who was recently a slave, and asked by him his name, and residence and so forth, as preliminary to the exercise of his right of suffrage. The old gentleman's face was a study for a moment, but he handed his ballot to the colored gentleman, and then coming out into the street and gazing for a moment across the river towards the plantations that had been the homes of his ancestors for more than a hundred
years, he took off his hat and in an undertone said with upraised hands, “My God!”
At the same election the venerable Dr. James F. McRee, one of the most distinguished physicians that ever lived in the city presented himself at the polls, and his vote was refused upon the ground that he had at one time been the chief magistrate or alderman of the city, and as he retired from the voting place a poor wretched negro, who was idiotic and crawling on all fours, came up and was allowed to vote unchallenged.
These two cases which are but specimens among a thousand others of like kind that happened about that time will serve to illustrate the political degradation to which the proud people of North Carolina were subjected. But for some years afterwards—and indeed until “Reconstruction” had played out and there was a restoration of decent and honest government—this kind of travesty upon free government was continued in aggravated form. Suppose Massachusetts had been subjected to a like experience at that period? Would there not have been a race war there? And yet, although the facts were made known, they seemed to make no impression on the minds of the Northern people, beyond a feeling of shame on the part of those who retained some regard for constitutional liberty and a vindictive feeling of “serves them right” on the part of the unrelenting enemies of the South. Thank God that time has passed, and sectional hostility with it.CHAPTER V.
I little dreamed when calling on Judge Kelley at the Capitol that in about five years I would be a fellow member of the House with him, but it so happened, and so continued for eight years. My nomination for Congress to supply a vacancy caused by the withdrawal of the regular nominee was wholly unexpected and was literally forced upon me against my earnest protest and was made only seventeen days before the election by the executive committee of the district.
It certainly seemed to be a forlorn hope as there were twelve Counties in the District, and a strong opponent was in the field with a majority at the last election of about two thousand five hundred behind him. Never having been a candidate for any political position, and being unknown to the larger part of the constituency, my chances of success appeared as one in a million; but, to the astonishment of us all, on both sides, luck came my way and I was elected, in August, 1870, and then began my experience in public life.
As an ex-Confederate Democrat was persona non grata in Congress it seemed advisable to take time by the forelock and get acquainted with members prior to the assembling of that body, and accordingly I went to Washington about a month before that time
and being entitled, as a member-elect, to the privilege of the floor, soon made friends on both sides of the House and before the assemblage of the new Congress felt assured of getting my seat.
Although fairly elected and fortified by the certificate of a “Reconstruction” Republican Governor, and without any notice of a contest when I presented myself at the bar of the House to be sworn in on March 4, 1871, Mr. Maynard, a Republican member from Tennessee, rising to a question of privilege, objected to the administration of the oath to me upon the ground that I was disqualified, without stating any reason beyond that allegation. I was therefore requested by the Speaker, Mr. Blaine, to stand aside, until that matter was disposed of. One absurdity in the law at that time was that while the “loyal” members were required to take what was known as “the ironclad oath,” a modified oath had been framed for the ex-Confederate members. I stood aside and Mr. Beck, of Kentucky, afterwards distinguished as a Senator, came to me and said: “I'm very sorry, we need every Democrat here, but your case may not and probably will not be again taken up for six months, if ever.” I said, “There is a man on the other side of the House who, I believe, would move to admit me, but I won't ask him to do it.” “To whom do you refer?” asked Beck. “Judge Kelley,” I said. “What? Kelley is, as he boasts, the extremest Radical in the House.” “All the same,” said I, “unless I'm badly mistaken he will do it, if asked.” “Oh, well, I'll ask
him mighty quick,” and Beck went over to Kelley and in a few moments returned perfectly delighted and “smiling all over.” “You are right,” he said, “but it beats the Devil; he is the last man I should ever have thought would do it.”
Shortly after Kelley, who had notified the Speaker of his intention, and found him entirely in sympathy with it, rose to a question of privilege, and moved “that the House proceed to the completion of its organization by swearing in the gentleman from the Third District of North Carolina.”
And thereupon Maynard, backed by a little Radical member from my own State, undertook to offer reasons that were ridiculous against it, but was overwhelmed by Kelley who demanded the previous question on his resolution, and it was put and carried by a large majority, and the Speaker, looking me straight in the face, said “If the gentleman from North Carolina is present he will please appear to be sworn in,” and I was prompt to rise, hold up my hand, and take the oath, and the Democratic minority was increased by one vote. As already stated, this was on the 4th March, 1871, when the first session of the Forty-second Congress began. So far as my memory serves me, that was the last time that the House met on the 4th of March, although the Senate has always met in Executive Session at that time. The reason for the assembling of the House was that several years previously, in order to tie the hands of President Andrew Johnson and prevent him from
acting during a recess it was resolved that Congress should sit continuously, the old House going out and the new House coming in on the 4th of March, instead of the first Monday in the following December.
One of the outgoing members was the celebrated prize fighter and gambler, John Morrisey, of New York, who had been a member for two years, but, with becoming modesty and “horse sense,” had been a silent one. Like most of his kind he was what is called “a clever fellow,” good natured, generous and of course fearless. In one of the all-night sessions just previous to the adjournment of that Congress, and in order to pass away the tedious hours, I took a seat by him in the lobby and in the course of our conversation he gave me in answer to questions a history of all his prize fights and of some of the big betting that had been done in his New York and Saratoga establishments. In answer to the query if it was a fact that — had won $150,000 from him at one sitting, he said it was not true, and upon my remarking that I had always thought the story incredible he added: “No, he didn't win $150,000, but he won $130,000, and when he rose to leave I stopped him and said I wanted to settle right then, for I might get him some time for a big stake, and should require the same arrangement,” and he did afterwards win enormous sums from him. He said that — was the highest bettor that had ever lived so far as he knew, and when I asked what was the biggest bet he ever saw he replied “sixty thousand dollars,”
which he had lost to the same man on the above occasion, and added that — would have been a rich man if he hadn't bet so high, and when asked if he was not still rich replied, “No, I don't think he is worth more than a million and a half now.”
This interview with Morrisey reminds me of another held several years afterwards under the same circumstances of an all-night session, with George Q. Cannon, a Delegate from Utah in Congress, and a high official in the Mormon Church—a Bishop, I believe. He was an Englishman, by birth, a stout, smooth-faced, well kept looking man, very intelligent and well informed, and of very pleasant manners. We sat together for an hour or more after midnight, the purpose on my part being to gather some information, if possible, in regard to the origin, development and practical working of the Mormon government, religiously, socially and politically. He was serious, and apparently sincere and reverent in discussing the alleged miraculous origin of his “Church” and its relation to Biblical history, with which he seemed very familiar, and earnestly repudiated the charge that it was immoral in its teachings, claiming that its disciples were exceptionally sober, moral, and industrious people who had long been persecuted for their faith. He afterwards sent me some literature on the subject which appeared to me to be nonsensical and sacrilegious.
It has often been a source of regret to me that I
never kept a diary, or at least memoranda, of current events during my life, especially during the period of the Civil War and my Congressional service, and this regret is more strongly felt now that I am undertaking to write out some of my recollections—because a contemporaneous record is not only more to be relied upon for accuracy of statement, but for fullness of detail and sequence of events, than unaided memory can ever be. Every young man ought to keep a diary, not of daily trifles, but of events of any importance occurring within his observation or knowledge, for it is from such sources that true history is gathered and even if such a diary never gets beyond the circle of his family it will always be a source of interest and pleasure to his descendants. The daily paper may be suggested as a substitute, so far as public events are concerned, but who keeps a file of the daily papers? The patient and untiring student of history will resort to them, but who else?
I now realize, as never before, the value of such personal records and deplore more than ever the loss, by fire and otherwise of those that were written by some of my own forbears in the Colonial and Revolutionary periods of our history. I say “by fire and otherwise” because while all the valuable records of one branch of the family were burned in the conflagration that consumed the old homestead, those of the other branch which were equally or more interesting were borrowed as material for writing history, and could never afterwards be found.
A record, not of the public events, which may be found in the published accounts of the period—but of the incidents in the life of a member of Congress from 1871 to 1879 would in the language of a distinguished North Carolina Judge concerning another matter, make “mighty interesting reading.”
For instance, the experiences of the celebrated Ku Klux Committee in 1871, of which I was at first the only Southern member, were of the liveliest interest. If there ever was a finer test of character than was involved in the examination of witnesses by the Committee I don't know where it may be found. It was, unquestionably, a fearful ordeal to undergo, for the majority of the Committee were a body of relentless prosecuting attorneys who exhausted their powers in trying to extort evidence that would convict prominent citizens of the South, and the witnesses themselves, of crime. Every device that ingenuity could suggest was resorted to, but, although there were some pitiable exhibitions of weakness and demoralization on the part of witnesses, there were some splendid displays of fearlessness and moral courage which commanded the respect and admiration of all who witnessed them. Perhaps the most remarkable of them was when Col. Wm. L. Saunders was examined, and of this I could give no better description than in my address at the University of North Carolina on his life and character, in 1887.
On that occasion allusion was made to this episode in his career in the following language:
“In 1871 towards the close of the Reconstruction period, during which he did as much to rescue the State from the ruin and degradation which threatened her as any man within her borders, he was arrested by the United States authorities and carried to Washington to be examined by the ‘Ku Klux’ Committee with the hope and expectation on the part of those who caused his arrest of extorting from him a confession of his own complicity in the acts of the ‘Ku Klux,’ or at least of procuring evidence against others. I can never forget his presence there, or the result of his examination. Although myself a member of the Committee, he was my guest and shared my bed during his stay in Washington, but not one word passed between us on the subject of his arrest and no information was asked or given in regard to the organization of which he was supposed to be the Chief. He appeared before the Committee, and was asked more than a hundred questions, every one of which except a few formal ones, he steadfastly refused, or, as he expressed it, declined to answer. He was badgered and bullied, and threatened with imprisonment (which I really feared would be imposed upon him) but with perfect self-possession, and calm politeness he continued to say ‘I decline to answer.’ It was a new experience for the Committee, because the terror aroused by the investigation had enabled them to get much information, and no witness had up to that time defied their authority, but they recognized that they had now encountered A MAN, who knew how to
guard his rights and protect his honor, and after some delay he was discharged with his secrets (if he had any) locked in his own bosom, and carrying with him the respect and admiration of all who witnessed the ordeal through which he had passed.
“In these days of a restored union, and a return to normal conditions such conduct may not appear to have in it any element of heroism, but under the circumstances which then surrounded the Southern people, it required both moral and physical courage of the highest order.
“Those who are old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how amidst the general dismay the faint hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them and they will also with still more vividness remember how, as to a trumpet call, the strong hearts and brave thrilled responsive to every word and act of those who stood amidst the storm erect, steadfast and true to their birthright.
“Leader among the leaders of them was William L. Saunders, and this exhibition of his dauntless spirit before the chief priests of the persecution, assembled at the Capitol of the country and panoplied with irresponsible power, won for him a claim to the admiration of all true men.”
I am glad to reproduce this tribute to as brave and true a man as ever lived, and to one who did his
State, with unselfish devotion, as valuable service as was ever rendered by any of her sons, in the preparation and publication of her Colonial Records, after serving her with equal devotion and with splendid courage during four years of terrible war in which he was mangled and disabled for life by wounds of the most fearful kind.
The report of the Ku Klux Committee filled thirteen volumes, and a greater waste of paper and ink was never perpetrated, for it accomplished nothing, except perhaps the aggravation of sectional bitterness in the country, which was doubtless the purpose of those who instigated the investigation. It was a period of popular insanity in the Northern States on the subject of the negro and his alleged wrongs which ran its course in due time, and which culminated in the Force Bill and Ku Klux investigation of 1871.
There were in the House of Representatives at that time a number of strong men of each political party, many of whom were afterwards transferred to the Senate. Among the latter were Blaine, Frye, and Hale, of Maine; Hoar and Dawes, of Massachusetts; Garfield, of Ohio, and other Republicans; and Beck, of Kentucky; Voorhees, of Indiana; Lamar, of Mississippi; Reagan and Mills, of Texas, and other Democrats. There were others who never became Senators, but were very able men, who made their mark and retired to private life.
The most unique character in the House was Ben Butler, of malodorous memory. This man was,
morally and physically, a strange freak of nature. Without, apparently, any moral sense and impervious to any suggestions of that fact, and with a figure consisting of a large, retreating, bald head and cocked eyes whose lids fell heavily over them at strange angles, a ridiculous pot belly, and thin short legs, he was one whose appearance on the floor, and especially when addressing the House, always excited laughter and generally indignation—a perfect Caliban who was more despised and hated, perhaps, than any man who ever occupied a seat there. Just before my service began, Butler was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and General Farnsworth, of Illinois, who was a member of that Committee and of the same party with Butler, in the Committee room and in the presence of the other members, denounced Butler as a blankety, blankety, blank liar and scoundrel to his face. The doughty Major-General sat with cool equanimity throughout the whole performance, and when Farnsworth's fury had expended itself, simply remarked, “I have heard that before!”
He was unquestionably a man of ability and had a large law practice in Boston, especially in the criminal courts, and at different periods of his life was a candidate for office on the ticket of every party in Massachusetts for Governor—being defeated as Republican in 1871, and as a “Greenbacker” in 1878 and 1879, and elected by Democrats in 1882, and again defeated in 1883, and finally, as the “Greenback” candidate in 1884 for President receiving a
handful of votes. His war record was a combination of vindictiveness and absurdity which became historic. In an address delivered before the Miles O'Reilly Post of Union Soldiers in New York in 1878 I recited the incident related to me by Admiral Porter about what a Confederate prisoner told the officers on his flag ship was the effect of the explosion of Butler's powder ship at Fort Fisher. It was a good story and has been often published and Porter, who despised Butler, took great pleasure in telling it to me, which he did while Butler was making a characteristic speech in the House, the Admiral having come in and taken a seat by my side before Butler took the floor.
Speaking of Butler reminds me of a very witty retort which John Young Brown, of Kentucky, made to Speaker Blaine when the latter, while Brown was denouncing Butler on the floor of the House, interrupted him. In the heat of his denunciation Brown addressed himself directly to Butler, saying that he was the legitimate successor of Burk, of Ireland, whose crimes gave rise to the phrase of “Burking.” “You, Sir;” he said — — and the speaker rapped him down, saying; “The gentleman will address the Chair,” whereupon Brown instantly replied: “All right, Mr. Speaker, You, Sir,” etc., which brought down the House. Prior to this, “Sunset” Cox had attacked Butler and had been met by the reply: “Shoo, fly, don't bother me,” to which Cox made a stinging rejoinder; but the negro-minstrel
phrase of Butler produced great merriment at Cox's expense, and neutralized the effect of his speech.
In 1872-73 the Credit Mobilier scandal was developed and when the crisis was reached in the House and a vote had to be taken, there was a painful scene. The evidence was not sufficient to convict some of the accused members of corruption and they escaped, but two of them, one from each political party, were expelled. No member on the roll-call was allowed to explain his vote or say anything except “Aye” or “Nay” but Mr. Beck, when his name was called, with lightning-like rapidity answered: “For want of jurisdiction, Nay.” The Speaker's gavel fell before he finished, but too late to stop him. It was the only instance of an attempt to explain a vote and it was not recorded. There was an all-night session soon after this vote, and the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds entertained the members in their room with refreshments. As I passed through the room to the “layout” the deep and rasping tones of Judge Kelley's voice arrested my attention. He was talking to McHenry, of Kentucky, about the injustice of the attempt to convict him of any corrupt connection with the Credit-Mobilier (of which he was acquitted) and I caught one characteristic utterance that made me laugh heartily. With great solemnity, and in a sort of heart-rending tone, he said, “Sir, I was the bottom dog in the fight,
and the d—d scoundrels were gnawing me hind quarters.”
Judge Kelley's career was a peculiar one. Starting out in life as a journeyman jeweler he read law and soon became a judge in Philadelphia. He was a Calhoun Democrat and free trader, but was metamorphosed into an extremely radical Republican and ultra high protectionist, and so remained to the day of his death. He was not, however, a bitter man towards his political opponents, and was, I think, towards the end of his political life, beginning to realize the fact that he and his associates had made a great mistake in regard to reconstruction, and the real condition of the Southern people and the true relations between the races there.
There was but one voice in the House that was deeper toned than Kelley's and that was the voice of N. P. Banks, of Massachusetts, the man who was spoken of by the ex-Confederates as Stonewall Jackson's Commissary, because of the immense captures of stores from him during the war by the immortal Stonewall. The voice of General Banks was not only deeper toned than Kelley's but was free from the harshness and tearing quality that characterized the latter. It was really a magnificent voice, and the dignity of the speaker added impressiveness to its sonorous utterance. Banks's career was quite as remarkable as Kelley's, he having begun life as a factory laborer and having rapidly risen to the positions of Congressman, Governor of his State, and Major
General in the army. It is a pleasure to testify to the fact that (according to my recollection) General Banks was exceptionally free from bitterness in his speeches, at a time when it was a popular and very common practice for Northern politicians to indulge in it when discussing Southern affairs.
It was the day of the little hectoring demagogue who, having the Southern people under foot, rioted in the perfectly safe opportunity to heap opprobrium upon them and try to degrade them in every way.
Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts, was a wholly different type of man from either Judge Kelley or General Banks. Born a New England aristocrat, the son of a distinguished lawyer and leading abolitionist who had been driven out of South Carolina when he went there in 1844 to test the constitutionality of legislation prohibiting free negroes from entering that State, and, therefore, having an hereditary grievance against that State and the South, he was an educated and scholarly gentleman who, although the most intense partisan and the most unwavering supporter of every measure adopted by his party, sometimes made unanswerable speeches against those measures, and then with serene complacency voted for them. He afterwards became distinguished as a Senator, making some really great speeches in the Senate and gradually toning down his anti-Southern spirit until finally towards the close of his life he accepted an invitation from the Bar of South Carolina to deliver the annual address before them in Charleston and
made a noble and patriotic speech which reflected great honor upon him.
The personal peculiarities of many members of the House have been a source of interest and amusement to me when recalling the experiences of those days.
One that presents itself vividly was the facial expression of a member from a Northwestern State who always looked as if he smelled something disagreeable, especially when any question touching Southern affairs came up, and who reminded me of a cat that had just been singed or scalded. He was a snarl incarnate, with claws perpetually exposed, and from whom I never heard anything that was pleasant to hear. He must, it seemed to me, quarrel with himself in the absence of some one else to snarl at—but he became a Senator afterwards, and gradually yielded to the influences prevalent in that body which Donn Piatt characterized as the fog bank.
In strong contrast with such a character the genial faces and hearty spirit of many others rise up out of the past, and one of the most charming of them was that glorious fellow, Daniel W. Voorhees, of Indiana, “the tall sycamore of the Wabash,” afterwards a Senator for many years, for whom I always cherished an honest affection and unqualified admiration. He was a splendid specimen of a man physically, and his heart was as big as his body. Brave as a lion, tender as a woman, full of the milk of human kindness and as generous as a knight of old, his crowning gift was
genuine eloquence. His political enemies tried to belittle his powers in this respect, as is common among mere partisans, but no one ever heard him speak who did not feel his commanding power as an orator, however much they might differ from him in opinion. His arraignment of the Republican party for its conduct of affairs in the South, in his speech on the Report of the Ku Klux Committee of which he was a minority member, was one of the most brilliant and patriotic phillipics ever pronounced in the American Congress. He was one of the greatest advocates at the bar of his generation, and made his first national reputation when only about twenty-six years of age in the defense of young Cook, an Ohio youth who had been induced to join old John Brown in his famous raid on Harper's Ferry, for which, like his leader, he was tried and hanged.
As might naturally be expected in such a man Mr. Voorhees had a keen sense of humor and was delightful in social intercourse. A trifling but characteristic illustration of this which took place in my presence was as follows: Only members of the House or persons presenting an order from a member, were permitted to use the splendid marble bath rooms. One day his very handsome and elegantly dressed brother-in-law, who afterwards held a high position in the diplomatic service, came in and said, “Dan give me an order to the bath room,” whereupon he turned to his desk and wrote on a card which he showed me, and then handed to the gentleman. The card contained these words: “Wash this fellow!”
One of the most thoroughly well informed and useful men that I ever knew in public life was Abram S. Hewitt, of New York, who was first elected to Congress in 1874. Although afterwards forced into political prominence he was not a politician in the ordinary sense, and did not possess the temperament or the qualifications required for political leadership. He was an eminently practical business man who had attained wealth as a manufacturer of iron and steel, and was recognized as an authority upon all questions connected with that industry, but he was also a fine classical scholar and loved the best literature, although it is very doubtful if the great majority of his acquaintances were aware of the fact.
Having become somewhat intimate with him, opportunity was afforded me to learn something of his attainments in that way, while he gave me one occasion more detailed information in regard to the practical operation of the tariff on iron and steel—using his umbrella for illustration—than I ever received in the same time.
On a very cold evening when the ground was covered with a deep snow he invited Hon. John Randolph Tucker and myself to dine with him, and upon our arrival at his house we found the only other guest to be the editor of a leading New York publication, an Englishman by birth and long since dead, who during the evening, with what I thought an air of superiority that gradually grew somewhat offensive, undertook to arraign and cross-examine Mr. Tucker and myself about conditions in the South. He received
polite answers for some time, but Mr. Hewitt saw that my patience was giving out, and when it was evident that an explosion could not be longer delayed he very skilfully gave a new turn to the conversation and relieved the situation by some interesting narrative.
He and I afterwards spoke several times from the same platform in New York, and, as illustrating his scholarship, after he had finished one of the meetings, referring to something said by me he quoted a long passage, perhaps a page, from Horace as being appropriate.
Just about that time Hon. S. S. (“Sunset”) Cox, who had heard my lecture on “America before Columbus,” made a speech at the Burns Festival in Washington, and humorously alluded to my claim for the Irish saying that his bootblack was named Campbell, and he wondered if the Clan Campbell had come from Africa, whereupon I addressed the following lines to him:Why should it be strange, as you seem to supposeThat the Clan which you spoke of to-nightShould have come from a land where they never wear clothesAnd a tropical sun sheds his light?It was always the country of camels, you know,And, as for the dress, let me sayIn the heathery highlands wherever you goFolks still go half-naked to-day.But if you still doubt, my obstinate friend,And still further my patience would tax,I answer you thus, and the argument end:A great many Scotchmen are Blacks.
The mention of the lecture referred to above recalls a brief and very pleasant conversation with the distinguished Charles Kingsley, Canon of Westminster and chaplain to Queen Victoria, who had come to America on a lecturing tour, and had arrived at the Capitol a day or two days after mine was delivered. There had been no lecture on the subject of pre-Columbian discoveries in America for fifty years, the last essay being by Hon. Edward Everett in a Boston magazine about the year 1824 (I think) and there was very little knowledge of the subject even among educated people, which was what induced me to enter upon a study of it and afterwards to make it the theme of a lecture. Upon Mr. Kingsley's arrival it was announced that he would lecture on that subject, and I expressed to him my great pleasure at the prospect of hearing him, when, to my surprise and disappointment he said that he had just read in the New York Sun a full report of mine with a recital of all the authorities quoted and would change his lecture to one on Westminster Abbey. To my remonstrance that the difference was between the performance of an obscure individual from “the backwoods” and that of one whose name was known wherever the English language was spoken, he replied that the ground had been completely covered and every authority known to him, except one, had been used, and my earnest solicitations were fruitless to turn him from his purpose, which made me feel like looking for a hole to crawl in.
The most provoking thing, however, in connection with the whole matter, was the peculiar fact that in less than sixty days after the appearance of the New York Sun's report two enterprising individuals, one in New York and one in Maryland, published each a small book of supposed original investigations, which strangely tallied with mine even in the order in which the authorities were cited. Some years afterwards the exhaustive work of Ignatius Donnelly entitled “Atlantis” appeared, a monument to his patient industry.
An interesting man with whom I became acquainted not long after entering Congress, and for whom I entertained a feeling of friendship was Mr. Boudinot, a half Cherokee Indian who had represented his people at Richmond during the war. Although he showed his blood in his complexion, eyes and his long straight black hair, he was as far from being an Indian in his nature and disposition as possible, being an exceedingly gentle and lovable man, of poetic temperament, and literary instincts and possessing a fine baritone voice which though not cultivated, was very melodious in the songs and ballads he sang to his own accompaniment, and through all of which there was a tone of pathos that suggested the history of his maternal race. He was said to be an eloquent speaker, and at the time of my acquaintance with him he was, if my memory is not at fault, trying to secure from Congress some legislation for his
people in the Territory recently established as the State of Oklahoma.
Another and wholly different type of character in Washington at that time, and who furnished an extreme illustration of the money grasping spirit of the age, was a lawyer and ex-judge, a native of North Carolina, who had in early life removed to the far Northwestern States, where he had made a large fortune. The particular incident which recalls him to my memory happened during a conversation between us at the Metropolitan Hotel, there being a Senator and two or three others present. It was during the same severe weather, already alluded to as prevailing when Mr. Tucker and I dined with Mr. Hewitt and had the unpleasant bout with the editor.
It developed during the conversation that the ex-judge had come about a thousand miles from his home to Washington to argue before the Supreme Court a case of small importance for a comparatively small fee. Remarking that it was terrible weather for such a trip, I said, “Judge, have you ever traveled abroad?” to which he replied in the negative. “Well, you are reputed to be worth more than two millions, and have no child; why don't you take your wife and make an extended tour of the British Islands and Europe, where you can see all the historic places, and the art and architecture and libraries and monuments of the older civilization?” “Oh, I couldn't do that he replied, couldn't leave my business. I'd be miserable.” “Well, Judge, you are
getting old, you are very rich, you have no family to be anxious about, what is your object in life now—what are you living for?” “To make money Sir,” was the answer. “For Heaven's sake haven't you got enough when you can live comfortably on one-tenth of your income?” “No, sir. As long as there is a dollar in the world I'd like to get it!” That ended the conversation and my respect for a self-confessed idolater in contrast with whose god a wooden image would be a highly respectable object of worship.
One day in the winter of 1873, while on my way to Washington and just after passing the town of Fredericksburg, a very remarkable looking man boarded the train and came into the smoking car where I sat. He instantly attracted my attention by his patriarchal appearance and magnificent physique, and in addition to this there was some subtle influence that seemed to emanate from him and affect me after he had taken a seat opposite, and begun to read the book which he brought into the car half open in his hand. He was several inches above six feet in stature, and correspondingly stout, and wore a noble head of gray hair that fell to his shoulders and a full gray beard that swept his breast. He would have commanded attention anywhere in the world by his majestic presence and manly beauty. Afterwards I became intimate with him and discovered that there was a complete harmony between his physical stature and his intellectual proportions. It was Albert Pike,
soldier, jurist, oriental scholar and poet, and the chief of the Masonic fraternity in the United States, a man who could deeply impress the Supreme Court by his wealth of legal learning and eloquence, or discuss with scholars the Vedas of India, or write a beautiful poem. I remember that one day he asked me to use my privilege as a member of Congress to order from the Library the Rig Veda so that he could get it from me to verify something he was writing, and of course I readily promised to do so; but when I made the request in the usual way for myself of that wonderful man, A. R. Spofford, the Librarian of Congress (who could name the exact shelf and place where every one of the more than half million books in the Library could be found) he laughed and said: “Oh, you don't want this book for yourself, but for General Pike, I guess, who is the only man in Washington who wants it; but it can not be taken out of the Library for anybody.”
General Pike was writing a book on some subject of oriental literature, the manuscript of which he showed me, but just about the time he completed it a fire in his rare library destroyed the whole fruit of his labors. He had not up to that time published his poems in book form, and I do not think they ever have been so published, but he presented me with copies of all the principal ones, requesting me not to allow them to be printed. One of these entitled “Every Year” was accompanied by a full vindication of himself from the charge of plagiarism which some
one had made against him, and this poem appeared in a Sunday paper (The Herald, I think) to which, in the next issue of the paper, I wrote a reply in the same simple metre, which is inserted here by request of a friend.Time, fly he ne'er so fleetlyEvery year,Only tunes your harp more sweetlyEvery year,And we listen to its ringingAnd the minstrel swan-like singingMore melodious numbers flingingEvery year.Sing on, oh! grand old masterEvery year.Pour thy mellow measures fasterEvery year.They will make our journey lighterAnd our weary pathway brighter.As our locks grow thin and whiterEvery year.Yes, our loved ones go before usEvery year.And the living more ignore usEvery year.It is well; what need for sorrowIf the dawn of each to morrowBrighter tints from Heaven borrowEvery year.
Alexander H. Stephens who was Vice-President of the Confederacy and was elected, but not admitted, to the U. S. Senate in 1866, was in 1873 elected to the House of Representatives. Crowds usually attended
the opening of each Congress and there was an unusual crowd present at the opening of the Forty-third Congress, anxious to see the celebrated invalid statesman sworn in as a member of the body of which he had been before the war a brilliant adornment. The galleries were packed by an immense throng of curious spectators, and Mr. Stephens, who was delayed and was not sworn in with the rest of us, finally made his appearance and immediately became the center of observation. He was on crutches, and after the Speaker was notified that he was ready to be sworn in, he called Gen. P. M. B. Young, of Georgia, and myself, and asked us to help him down the center aisle to the front of the Speaker's desk, but was particular to request us not to support him except by slightly holding the loose sleeve of his coat on either side. This we did, and slowly marching down the aisle stood by him while the oath was administered, and then escorted him back to his seat. In view of Mr. Stephens's record and the circumstances surrounding us there was a touch of the dramatic in the scene. Young, who was a West Point cadet before the war, and under whom I served for a short time in 1864, was a handsome man, and as genial a friend as I ever had. Like the friend whom we served on that occasion and hundreds of other “good old rebels” he too “joined the majority” some years ago.
In the spring of 1875 there were enormous meetings in Philadelphia in behalf of the Centennial, and at one of them at which I spoke there was a demonstration
of feeling that I had thought was peculiar to the South. The first exhibition of this feeling was made upon the recital by me of an incident which had recently occurred in the State of South Carolina when some Confederate soldiers had exhumed the remains of two Union soldiers and, acting as escort of honor, had delivered them to the officer then in command of the regiment located in the State, and helped to bury them with military honors; and the second was when I asserted my right to speak in Philadelphia because my ancestor had been killed in 1777 at Germantown which was now in the corporate limits of the City. There never was in a Southern audience wilder enthusiasm, and some of the features of it were very amusing, one citizen having “shied” his stove-pipe hat at the ceiling, and another having sprung over the orchestra on the stage and proposed three times three cheers for the old North State, which were given by the whole audience standing.
It has been my fortune to hear several of the most notable debates that have occurred in the House of Representatives since the war of 1861-65. The greatest of these was that which occurred in January 1876, between Mr. Blaine and Mr. Hill, of Georgia, or “Ben Hill,” as he was familiarly called. It was a splendid display of parliamentary eloquence, of skillful and powerful attack on the one side and even more skillful and powerful defense on the other, at a critical period of national and party history. The
scandals that had disgraced the last administration of General Grant made it necessary for the leaders of the Republican party in Congress to divert public attention to some issue which would arouse the gradually fading passions and prejudices of the war, and thus enable them to check the fast-rising tide of popular condemnation, and turn it in their favor. The Presidential election was to be held that year, and the Democrats had already captured the House of Representatives and elected Randall Speaker.
A bill for the removal of disabilities from all the Southern people had been introduced with every prospect of its passage. Blaine was confidently anticipating the nomination of himself for the Presidency. Something must be done to change the face of affairs, and so it was determined in the Republican councils to inaugurate what has ever since been known as a “bloody shirt” campaign, and Mr. Blaine was the ready leader of the enterprise. The method chosen was very adroit. It was the offering of an amendment to the Amnesty bill excepting Jefferson Davis alone from its provisions. This amendment was offered, and on it Blaine took the floor. The House and galleries were crowded to suffocation in expectation of a great dramatic display, for he was recognized as the most brilliant and the most ambitious leader of his party, with more devoted followers than any other.
He played his role with the consummate skill of a Mephistopheles, describing with lurid rhetoric the
horrors of the “rebel” prisons and the treatment therein of the soldiers of the Union, and every other distressing feature of the war, all of which he charged to be the work of the arch-fiend Jefferson Davis. He denounced him as a more cruel monster than the Duke of Alva, or any other merciless character in history, and for an hour continued to pour upon the head of the Confederate President a torrent of bitter invective, concluding his speech with the declaration that while he was willing to extend amnesty to all others he would never consent to the removal of the disabilities of so great a criminal as he.
It was an awful trial to the temper of the Southern members to have to sit and listen to such an attack, made for such an unworthy and wicked purpose, upon one not only innocent of the specific charges made against him, but in no respect more guilty of crime as a Confederate than we ourselves, but we knew that Ben Hill would reply to the speech and felt confident that he would do so effectually. Our expectations were fully and gloriously realized the next day when, in the presence of an audience larger than that which greeted Blaine, and more eager to hear how his terrible arraignment would be met, Mr. Hill, who occupied a seat about the middle of the hall, arose, and in a calm, clear tone said, “Mr. Speaker.” Instantly every seat was occupied and every face was turned toward him. His opponents, not knowing what a giant he was in debate, for they had never heard him on a great occasion, and feeling sure that, whatever line of
defense he might take, he must injure his case, confidently awaited the catastrophe. As he began to warm up to his work, and deliver his sledge hammer blows Blaine, disregarding the proprieties of debate, interrupted and tried to disconcert him. He failed to do so, and after several attempts gave it up and remained silent, while Hill, with ever increasing power of argument and ever increasing volume of indisputable evidence, proceeded to demolish the cunningly constructed and apparently indestructible edifice of falsehood and malice which the gentleman from Maine had erected. With every blow delivered by Hill a part of that structure went down, and with it the serene expression of assured triumph, which had rested upon the countenance of his opponents at the beginning, gradually disappeared until at the end they looked like men who had been detected in an attempt to commit some great fraud, while the Democrats (some of whom had been very anxious) burst into a storm of enthusiastic applause, which was echoed from the packed galleries.
When the campaign of 1876 ended in which Tilden and Hayes were respectively the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties for the Presidency, and when the result was seen to be dependent upon the admission or exclusion of certain electoral votes, an excitement almost unparalleled swept over the country, and there was during the following session of Congress when the investigation of the elections in several States was being conducted, real danger
of civil war. There were some dramatic scenes in the House, and matters had reached a climax when the device of an electoral commission was resorted to and the celebrated eight to seven decision was rendered, which seated Hayes. During the deliberations of the Electoral Commission I was appointed on a committee of five members of which “Sunset” Cox was Chairman to investigate alleged election frauds in New York, on Long Island, and in Philadelphia, and we were engaged in the work for about three weeks, but it resulted in nothing, although evidence was given of election methods that were a revelation to me, and which were absolutely sickening. Especially was this the case in Philadelphia, where I got my first view behind the curtain of municipal politics in that city. While in New York the Democratic members of the committee, Messrs. Cox, Rice, of Ohio, and myself, called on Mr. Tilden twice at his Gramercy Park residence. On our first visit the impression he made on me was a very depressing one because of his very feeble and drowsy appearance, which was emphasized by his unshaven face and general dishabille, but he looked more alive on our second visit, and talked with more animation. When I spoke to some of his friends about his apparently dull and indifferent manner they laughed and said that such a comment was often made by persons who only casually met him or heard him at the beginning of a speech, but that the change in him when he began to “warm up” was magical. He was certainly
the most masterful organizer of political forces in the country at that time and was unquestionably robbed of the Presidency under the forms of law. So much has been written about that critical period that I shall not enlarge upon it further than to say that when it became apparent from the vote of the majority of the Electoral Commission in one way on a certain state of facts in the case of one State, and in an exactly opposite way on practically the same facts in the case of another State, that said majority was not a judicial but a mere partisan one that disregarded evidence and voted for their party candidate in spite of it, I personally heard from the lips of at least one Northern Democrat who had been a distinguished Union soldier expressions that if made a few years earlier would have caused him to be court-martialed and shot. It is an open secret that there was an organization, said to be 100,000 in number, composed largely of Union soldiers and officered chiefly by them, who were ready to march to Washington and inaugurate Tilden, but that they were finally dissuaded from doing so.
No one who was not at the center of affairs had then, or has ever had since, a thorough appreciation of the real situation, and the dangers that threatened the country.
I heard the speech of Hon. Jeremiah S. Black before the Electoral Commission and will never forget it. I had long wished to hear him speak, a wish that was strengthened by some very kind words he had
said of me (and to me) about a speech I had made, and which seemed to afford him much pleasure. His speech was extraordinary in every respect. It was not an argument on the facts of the case—indeed he disclaimed any intention to do that because he said it was useless—but it was the only time in my life that I ever heard counsel arraign the judges before whom he appeared as the real criminals. He excoriated them in a style of which he was the unrivalled master and they took it in silence, while the audience, composed chiefly of Congressmen and lawyers, all listened with astonishment, and some of them with delight. He spoke, as he said, unexpectedly, having only been retained or rather invited, to do so a few hours previously, but he “made the fur fly” for a half hour, and this, although fruitless of any other result, afforded me and many others the only pleasure we got out of the whole business.
For the last two years of my service in the House I was Chairman of the Committee on the Post-office and Post Roads, having been appointed to that position by Speaker Randall. One of the members of the Committee was the present Speaker (1907) of the House, Mr. Cannon, of Illinois, and another was the present Senator Money, of Mississippi, but the ablest one, in my judgment, was John A. McMahon, of Ohio, who was a lawyer of very superior gifts, and attainments, which caused him to be selected as one of the counsel in the impeachment trial of Secretary Belknap, which occurred during that Congress. The
Post-office Committee during that term investigated the notorious “Star Route” frauds, and, although as usual the chief criminals managed to escape conviction in the courts, the development of frauds, false swearing and general organized scoundrelism in the securing of mail contracts in the extreme Western and Northwestern parts of the country was astounding in its bold recklessness.
Immense sums of money were made by these contractors and their associates in and out of public office, for which no service at all or the merest pretence of it was ever rendered. They succeeded, in some instances, in robbing the Government for years of hundreds of thousands of dollars by devices so cunning as to provoke irresistible laughter when the game was exposed.
It is sad to remember that every one of the Senators and Representatives from North Carolina with whom I served during those eight years has passed to the undiscovered country—the four Senators, Pool, Abbott, Ransom and Vance, and the fifteen Representatives, Cobb, Thomas, Yeates, Rogers, Leach, Harper, Shober, Manning, R. B. Vance, Davis, Scales, Ashe, Robbins, Brogden and Steele.
“What shadows we are and what shadows we pursue!”CHAPTER VI.
In the first chapter of these Memories allusion was made to the many traditions that were delivered to the writer in his youth about persons and events connected with his own people “in the low country;” that is to say, on the lower Cape Fear River, and among them were mentioned the stories told to him by Uncle Abel, the old family servant, about duels that had been fought. One of these was the duel between Col. Maurice Moore, and Gen. (afterwards Governor) Benjamin Smith, which took place on the 28th June, 1805. A brief account of this duel is contained in the Memoirs of Gen. Joseph Gardner Swift, who was the second of General Smith, and was afterwards Chief of Engineers in the United States Army. He was at the time of the duel the engineer officer in charge of Fort Johnston and of the harbor improvements at the mouth of the river. He gives quite a thrilling account of his drive through the country to notify Mrs. Smith of her husband's wound and of his return with her through a terrific thunderstorm. The meeting place of the dueling party was in what was known as the Boundary House near the sea coast, so called because the boundary line between North and South Carolina ran directly along the dividing passage-way of the building, and when the Sheriff's officers who had been sent in pursuit of
the party arrived, they found them quietly in possession of the south side of the passage way and laughing over the situation, and the chagrin of the officers.
Of course General Swift's account of the duel in his Memoirs was authentic, though very brief so far as the main facts were concerned; but what is history when compared with tradition, stimulated by a lively imagination, in regard to the details of the same event? Without in the least discounting the historical evidence, I accept the version which assigns to an individual named Quash his due meed of praise for the gallant part he took in that affair, and now proceed to tell the whole story just as it happened according to Uncle Abel's memory and my regard for the rules that should govern a writer of veracious chronicles as follows:
In the early afternoon of a golden June day in the year 1805, beneath one of the great oaks surrounding a country residence near the Cape Fear River, an old negro was fumbling with the tools at a rough carpenter's bench, and, after vainly attempting to accomplish some simple work, had paused in a state of utter bewilderment. His hand sought the top of his head, as if feeling for the idea required, and, ceasing the doleful hymn with which he had been accompanying his unskilled labor, he began to soliloquize:
“I dunno what de matter wid dese tool. Dey don't wuck right today. De saw-teeth's all dull, an’ de
aidge's all off'n de plane, an’ de compasses ’pears to wiggle. Dere mus’ be witch ’round here.”
With a furtive glance toward the wide piazza of the house, he drew a phial from his pocket and quickly scattered about the bench that surest of all charms against the machinations of witches—flaxseed—and then resumed his mumbling and his work.
Sitting on the piazza, with a book in his hand, was an elderly gentleman, rather small in stature, with eyes like an eagle, and a bald head which looked like the white dome of a cathedral, in its grand outlines. He had recently, after many years of service, resigned a distinguished judicial position, and was regarded with undisguised awe by all children, and by all the negroes in the neighborhood, to whom he appeared as little less than a visible reflection of the Almighty. “The Judge” in those days was in public estimation a very different person from the wearer of the same title now, and this particular Judge—aside from the fact that the bench on which he had sat was the highest in the land—was the very embodiment of dignity. His aspect would have been pronounced severe except that when engaged in social conversation the electric flash of humor would occasionally illuminate his countenance. This, however, never happened in his intercourse with his inferiors. To them he was an object of profound reverence, and the negroes would have regarded any approach to familiarity with him, even by an ordinary white man, as an evidence of insanity.
The Judge had stopped reading, and was watching the old man with an expression which gradually changed from one of preoccupation to one of amused interest. The flaxseed incident had escaped his attention. After observing him for some time the hopeless stupidity of the would-be carpenter began to be annoying, and finally when he could stand it no longer, the Judge arose, put down his book, and stepping out to the work-bench, said: “Quash, you have been for nearly a half hour trying to do what any child could do in five minutes—I am disgusted with your stupidity. Do you not see that this is the way you ought to—?”
Instead of manifesting any alarm at this sudden descent of the Judge upon him, Quash, interrupting and pointing to the piazza, said, in a tone of restrained impatience:
“Now, look here, ole Marster, you go back in de house. You know all ’bout readin’ in de book, but you doan onderstan’ carp'ntrin’ wuck. Dat's my bizness, an’ book is your bizness. Go back ter your book, ole Marster—go read your book.”
Two little negro boys who were engaged in “playing carriage horse” for the Judge's grandson, a youth of ten, and who had just turned the corner of the house, stopped suddenly at the sound of the Judge's voice; and, when Quash's reply fell on their ears, supposing that the old man had gone crazy or that something awful was happening, the three, after a moment's pause, fled.
The dread apprehensions of the boys as to the result of Quash's rebuke to the Judge, however, were groundless. They did not know that the two used to play together, just as themselves were then doing, and that, later, Quash used to accompany the Judge on his circuits and perform the arduous duty of grooming his horses, brushing his clothes, and blacking his shoes; and that his sole occupation for years had been the doing of little odds and ends of work about the plantation, when not more seriously engaged in fishing or ’coon hunting. So far from exhibiting anger at the old man's conduct, the Judge, although confounded for a moment, instantly turned towards the piazza, drew his handkerchief, gave a violent blast of his nose to cover an explosion of laughter, and walking slowly back resumed his seat and book in silence, while Quash, agitated by the incident, fumbled more stupidly than ever with the tools, until at last about sunset, after frequent failures, he abandoned the bench and started to his cabin, grumbling:
“What's de use o’ my th'owin’ dem flaxseed ef ole marster gwine to come walkin’ right ’cross de ring an’ brek up all de spell agin witch? What ole marster know ’bout wuckin’ wid tool?”
His pride was wounded, but his sense of the absurdity of the Judge's pretensions to a knowledge of “carp'ntrin’ ” prevailed, and he began to chuckle.
“Yas, ole marster better min’ he book, and stay ’way fum dat bench. He's quality, and what any
quality know ’bout de likes o’ wuckin’ wid tool, let ’lone ole marster dat's de top o’ de quality?”
He was now passing through an old field enclosed by woods, through which meandered a little stream on the bank of which his cabin stood. His soliloquy was cut short and he was brought to a halt by a bad omen in the shape of a rabbit, which crossed the path in front of him with two or three short leaps, and sat on his haunches under a plum bush, with his long ears erect. Quash immediately made a cross-mark in the path, spat in it, and then, facing about, walked backwards beyond the place crossed by the rabbit, after which he began on a new theme:
“Dar it is agin! Trouble comin’ sho! I know'd it soon's I seen dem tool in dat fix, and now dat same rabbit dat cross de path dis mornin’ come hoppin’ cross agin,” and he began, in a minor key and with that nasal tremulo peculiar to the religious music of his race, to sing a hymn commencing with the lines:“We'll drink out de springDat'll nuvver run dry.”
Peggy was Quash's better half (in more senses than one) and, like him, was not overburdened with work. She had finished her day's work before Quash quit the carpenter's bench, and, having preceded him to the cabin, was engaged in “bilin’ a pot o’ coffee” and frying some cat-fish for supper. When Quash came in there was an ominous silence, but, after a few moments, during which the old man
was examining his bait-gourd to see if the “yeth-wurrums” had not crawled out, Peggy turned around and said:
“Quash, what's dis I hear dem child'n say ’bout you sassin’ ole marster?”
“What child'n? Who tell you I sass ole marster?” (Quash had not seen the boys.)
Peggy replied that while she was at the wash-tub the boys had run to her in evident alarm, and told her that they had heard Quash tell the Judge to go into the house and mind his book, and leave him alone.
In an injured, self-defensive tone Quash answered Peggy as he had answered in his soliloquy, adding that he “natally b'leeved” that his old master's devotion to books was bringing witches and “sperrits” on the plantation, and finally, with some defiance in his voice, concluded with:
“Ef I did tell ole marster he better go back in de house, what den?”
“You didn't—you dar'sn't tell ole marster dat, Quash?” exclaimed Peggy. For a moment there was a dead silence, accentuated by the crackling sound of the frying fish, and then the old man impatiently said:
“Dem fish gwine bu'n up while you standin’ dar talkin’.”
Peggy proceeded with her cooking in silence, but seemed lost in speculation. What could have induced Quash to do so “owdacious” a thing she could
not understand. He was not in the habit of drinking, and gave no evidence of such indulgence now, but she thought he must have been drunk or crazy. She was distressed and apprehensive of some evil. The charm which she usually carried about her “agin witch” was the left hind foot of a graveyard rabbit, but she did not always carry it, and for some time past had laid it away in the chimney jamb. She now felt the need of it, and, moving around the fire-place, reached out her hand and felt for it, but it was gone! Greatly agitated she turned to Quash and said:
“Quash, where's de rabbit. . . . . . (a tin pan falling at that instant prevented him from hearing the word “foot”).
Quash, who had been “studyin’ ” about the rabbit that had crossed his path, but had said nothing to Peggy in regard to it, arose quickly, and staring at the old woman, said in a hoarse voice:
“Peggy, did you see ’m, too?”
It was now Peggy's turn to stare, and to feel more alarmed for Quash's sanity, but she sharply replied:
“See ’m? How I gwine ter see ’m in de dark? But I feel for ’m and he ain't dar.”
“Feel for ’m, Peggy? What's de matter wid you, talkin’ ’bout feelin’ for rabbit in de dark?” said Quash, uneasily.
An explanation followed, which, while it corrected the mistake as to the object of Peggy's search, by no means reconciled her to its loss, especially after
Quash had recited his experiences during the day. She now became satisfied that trouble was impending, and when shortly afterwards a screech owl began to mutter his shivering complaint from the thick foliage of a tree near the cabin, they both started, exchanged glances, listened for the next “shiver” and Quash said:
“What I tell yer? You hear dat?” Peggy began a diligent search for the rabbit-foot, and a profound silence settled on the cabin.
About the time that Quash got to his cabin, which was a quarter of a mile from the “great house,” a well mounted negro servant passed down the avenue leading from the county road to the house, and riding to the horse-rack, hitched his chestnut-sorrel mare, dismounted and, with hat in hand, entered the piazza, bowed awkwardly, scraped his foot on the floor, and, handing a note to the Judge, said:
“Ole Marster, Marse Maurice send me wid dis, sir,” and, again scraping his foot, stood waiting.
The Judge opened the note and read the following:
I did not hear until this morning of General Smith's conduct, of which I learn you were informed a day or two ago. I have sent Jack Grange to him with a note, and arrangements are made for a meeting day after to-morrow morning at sunrise near Robbins's on the State line. Please send Quash, with your gig, and the mahogany case to me at Harvell's house tomorrow morning.
The Judge, although anticipating this situation, read the note with emotions which were with difficulty concealed. His son was a young planter, who was very popular because of his fine social qualities, but was known to be a very high-spirited, and recklessly courageous man. The man whom he had challenged was much older than himself, had held high positions, and, although not lacking in spirit, was a demagogue. He would have been ruined if he had refused the challenge, and knowing this he had promptly accepted it, but he was full of misgivings. He had, while excited by drink, made a gross and unfounded attack upon the Judge's character in a public place and some of his political adherents had boasted of it, so that it reached the ears of Col. Maurice Moore, with the result above stated. General Smith could not retract without disgrace in the eyes of his party, and yet, knowing his accusation against the Judge to be groundless and (what was more important to his own welfare) knowing the character of the man who had challenged him, he felt anxious, and hoped that the affair might be accommodated in some way by mutual friends. An effort was made in that direction, but was sternly met by the announcement that nothing less than an apology in writing, to be dictated by Colonel Moore could prevent a meeting. So “the affair” proceeded.
Judge Moore was sorely tried. He had heard of the attack on himself and knew if his son heard of it, a duel was inevitable. He was thinking of the
matter at the time Quash's stupidity attracted his attention and roused him from his reverie; and when the servant, several hours after, arrived with the note from his son, he instinctively knew before reading it what it contained. There was no alternative but to comply with the Colonel's request that Quash and the mahogany box should be sent to him at Harvell's. Accordingly the next morning early the Judge sent for Quash and ordered him to hitch his favorite roadster to the gig, and to hold himself in readiness for service. Quash, who was always proud to hold the reins, made his preparations with unwonted activity, and soon appeared with the team, himself arrayed in his Sunday clothes.
To prevent suspicion, and to keep Quash in ignorance of the purpose of his trip and the sort of baggage he was carrying, the Judge put the mahogany case in a small trunk, and upon Quash's arrival at the door, ordered him to strap the little trunk on the gig. Then, all being ready, to the great surprise of Quash, who expected the Judge to accompany him, he handed to Quash a note, telling him at the same time to drive down to Mr. Harvell's (about 20 miles) and to deliver the note and the trunk to Mr. Harvell. Quash drove off with the air of an ambassador and the Judge, after a rapid walk on the piazza for some time, resumed his book.
While Quash was pursuing his way on one route, Colonel Moore and his friend Jack Grange, with Dr. Cobham, were traveling from the village on another
to the same point. The latter reached Harvell's first, and not long afterward the sound of wheels was heard, and presently Quash came rattling up in a style becoming the bearer of dispatches, and without observing any particular person, dismounted and came forward. Just as he was about to inquire for Mr. Harvell he saw with astonishment his “Marse Maurice,” who at the same time said:
“Well, Quash, you have something for me—bring it in.”
“No, sir, Marse Maurice, I ain’ got nuttin’ for you, sir, but ole marster gimme dis note for Mr. Harvell, an’ tell me to gie him de little trunk on de gig, sir.”
“Very well; hand me the note and bring in the trunk.”
After obeying this order Quash was directed to stable his horse, and remain until he received further orders. He retired, and at once began to wonder what was the matter. About an hour later, while discussing the merits of a coon dog with Harvell's man Sam, he saw a carriage containing General Smith, General Swift and Dr. Hill, pass by, and heard General Swift call out to Jack Grange that he would meet him at Robbins's house (about a mile distant) at 8 o'clock that evening.
Soon after this Colonel Moore and his party strolled out toward the pines in the rear of Harvell's house, and Quash observed that Jack Grange was carrying under his arm a mahogany case which looked
exactly like the one he had so often seen in the Judge's bedroom, and which he knew contained a pair of duelling pistols. Light now began to dawn on Quash, and when, a little while later, he heard a shot in the woods, followed every few moments by another and another, he needed no further evidence to convince him that Colonel Moore was going to fight General Smith, and was now practicing at a target.
The dawning of the truth upon him terrified him greatly, and made him very weak in the digestive organs, but he could not resist the temptation to sneak out into the woods and watch the target practice from a safe place behind a tree. He got there just in time to see Colonel Moore standing erect, with his face turned to the right, pistol in hand, Dr. Cobham sitting at the root of a big pine, and Jack Grange standing a few paces to one side, and to hear Jack say in a clear voice:
“Are you ready? Fire, one, two—”
Then he saw the pistol fly to a level, heard the report, and saw the skinned place on a sapling about ten paces in front of the Colonel.
“I think that will do, Maurice,” said Jack, and the pistols were returned to the case, after being carefully cleaned, and the party returned to the house, leaving Quash alone behind the tree in the woods.
When the sound of their footsteps had faded, Quash drew a long breath, and said:
“Please God, somebody gwine dead, now! Ef Marse Maurice hit dat little saplin’ quick as dat,
how a big man like Gin'l Smith gwine keep fum gittin’ hit? Mebbe Gin'l Smith shoot so, too, and den what? Lawd, Lawd! I wish I was home wid Peggy—an’ I gwine dar, too, ef Marse Maurice'll lemme. I don't beleeve Mr. Harvell’ feed good for ole marster horse, nohow, an’ he better be home.”
Upon his return to the house Quash suggested in the most insinuating and deferential manner to the Colonel that the Judge would be wanting him at home, but was almost paralyzed by the reply that his services would be required at daylight the next morning. He retired to Sam's cabin, which he had been invited to share, but when he sat down to supper the phenomenal appetite for which he was celebrated did not appear— which Sam attributed to the fact that Quash was a “quality nigger” and accustomed to better food than that set before him; but he was soon undeceived by Quash, who found his burden too heavy to carry.
“Brer Sam,” said he, “I's obleeged to tell yer dat dere's sump'n a-weighin’ on my sperrit. I'se dat oneasy in my min’ dat I can't eat. What's all dese gemmen doin’ here, does you know?”
“No,” said Sam, “I dunno what dey come here fur, but I was s'posin’ when dey fust come dat dey was gwine drivin’ in de big bay*—only I ain't see no dog, yit.”
“No,” replied Quash, “and yer ain't gwine ter* Deer hunting in the “bays,” or evergreen swamps.
see no dog, an’ dey ain't gwine drivin’ in de big bay. Man, I tell yer, dere's wuss'n any drivin’ a-gwine on. Dere's trouble a-comin’. Dey never tol’ me, but I know'd sum'pn was gwine ter happen, an’ sump'n bad, too. I seed de signs—more'n one uv ’em, too. What my carp'nter tool all git outen fix for? An’ what rabbit hoppin’ ’cross de road for? An’ squeech owl cryin’ for? Did yer hear dat shootin’ out dar in de woods dis evenin’? Dat wasn't no gun—hit was pistils; an’ I know ’zactly whar dem pistils come from—dey come out'n ole marster's room. I see Marse Jack Grange carryin’ a box under he arm and I know dat minute it been old marster pistil-box. Den I foller ’em in de woods, and, sho nuff, I see Marse Maurice standin’ up wid a pistil in ’e hand, an’ I hear Marse Jack Grange gie de word, an’ Marse Maurice shoot at a saplin’, an’ he hit ’im, too. Den dey go back in de house, an’ Marse Maurice tell me he want me soon as daybreak in de mornin’. Dere's trubble, man, I tell yer. Dere's gwine to be fightin’ wid dem pistils.”
Sam's eyes had gradually expanded during this recital until, at its conclusion, they and his under lip seemed to constitute the only features in his face. He seemed transfixed by the announcement, but soon rallied and excitedly asked Quash whom he thought the Colonel was going to fight.
“I don't think nuthin’ ’bout it—I knows. Gin'l Smith ’buse ole marster, an’ he might er know he got to fight atter dat wid Marse Maurice. Didn't you see dat cah'ige come ’long here dis evenin’ wid
Gin'l Smith, and Gin'l Swift an’ Dr. Hill settin’ in ’em? Bofe o’ ’em's got a doctor ’long, and dat means dere's de'th in de win’.”
Quash thereupon related some marvellous stories about the duels fought by the “quality” in his earlier days.
The next morning at daylight the party at Harvell's were up, and Quash, who, during the night, had seen more visions of pistols, dead men, coffins and the like than would fill a volume of description, reported to Colonel Moore in a frame of mind which well fitted him to lead at a camp meeting. The Colonel ordered him to take a seat by the driver, and entering the carriage, the party drove off to the State line about a half-mile distant. As they neared Robbins's house they saw General Smith's party preparing to leave, and when they reached the duelling ground, the latter were close behind them. The usual preliminaries followed, and while the ground was being marked off, the cases taken out, and the weapons mutually examined and loaded, the driver of Colonel Moore's carriage realizing for the first time what was about to happen, became almost speechless with terror. Quash again sneaked behind a big tree and began to pray His remarks were not very coherent, and they were punctuated by frequent peeps around the tree towards the dueling party. The current of his exclamatory petition was obstructed, indeed, he suddenly and entirely suspended his prayer, when in one of his peeps around the tree he saw General
Smith, after a moment of apparent conference with the seconds, violently jerk off his coat, then his vest, then his shirt, and finally his undershirt, and stand, stripped to the waist, in the full glare of the rising sun. He was a large man and presented a shining mark. His extraordinary conduct was caused by a suggestion from one of the seconds that their principals ought to be clothed only in their ordinary dress, which General Smith construed to be an insinuation that he might be wearing some protecting substance next his skin, and which he resented in this dramatic style.
Thereupon Colonel Moore asked the seconds to examine his own clothing, after which he resumed his place.
All this was a horrible and mysterious pantomime to Quash, who could not hear what was said. The men were now placed, the pistols given to them, the seconds took their positions, and for a moment there was a painful silence, emphasized by the sighing of the pines.
Jack Grange, by a toss-up, had won the right to give the word, and his steady, measured voice,—which sounded to Quash's ears like Gabriel's trumpet proclaiming the Judgment,—rang out:
“Gentlemen, are you ready?”
“Ready,” both replied.
Quash closed his eyes and groaned, and the carriage-driver, with protruding eyes, and knees beating a tattoo against each other, stood terror-stricken.
The reports from the two pistols were nearly simultaneous, and instantly—in pursuance of the terms agreed on, that, after firing, each should advance a step, Colonel Moore gave a long stride toward his antagonist and stood erect. General Smith staggered, and dropped his pistol, while a stream of blood ran down his naked side.
Quash, frenzied with excitement, shouted “Glory,” and the carriage-driver howled.
General Smith's wound was at first supposed to be dangerous, if not mortal, the ball having entered his right side, but Colonel Moore, as he was retiring, remarked to Jack Grange that he believed it was only a flesh wound, and that he would “like to take another crack at him.” It turned out that Colonel Moore was right, as the ball had struck a rib and ploughed around his body. He lost a great deal of blood, however, which, with the shock, made him faint, and the surgeons made him lie down. The grass had been burned and left a black stubble.
Just then Quash rushed to Colonel Moore and, seeing him talking quietly to Jack Grange, burst into tears and dropping on his knees and clasping the Colonel, said hysterically:
“Fo, God, Marse Maurice, you ain't hu't a bit, is yer?”
“No, Quash,” replied the Colonel, “he missed me, but it was a close shave. Look here,” and he pointed to the broken threads of a missing button on the breast of his coat.
Quash bounded to his feet like a youth, clapped his hands, and fairly bent himself double in a paroxysm of delight, which Colonel Moore cut short by ordering him to go to the surgeons and say that Colonel Moore had sent him to wait on General Smith if needed.
The aversion which Quash had to such service was overcome by his curiosity to see the wounded man, and find out whether he was going to die or not. He went, but his services were not needed. Yet, during the few moments he remained he used his eyes and ears actively, and this, with a tropical imagination, furnished an immense amount of material for the stories he told until the day of his death about this duel.
He returned to Colonel Moore in a very cheerful mood, and after reporting that his services were declined, he said:
“Marse Maurice, I don’ bleeve Gin'l Smith gwine dead, but he suttinly is a curus lookin’ gen'lman, to be sho’. He nekked flesh all cover wid blood, and smear’ up wid de black stubble whar de grass bin bu'n wid de fire, and he look, Marse Maurice, pint blank like a skin’ beef dat fall off'n de peg in de ashes.”
Jack Grange burst into a laugh and Colonel Moore ordered Quash to the carriage, where, finding the driver partially recovered, but still demoralized, Quash proceeded with a grand air to reproach him for his cowardice. Soon the carriage was occupied
as before, and the party, leaving General Smith to be brought more slowly to Robbins's house, returned to Harvell's to breakfast.
With every foot of the way Quash's spirits rose higher and higher, until, when he met Sam again, he squealed with hilarity. He told Sam the most stupendous lies about what had occurred on the duelling ground, especially in regard to the cool and business-like manner in which he himself had assisted in the affair, and of the evident fright of the whole Smith party. He did not hesitate to assert that General Smith “hollered” when shot, and that his Marse Maurice had to be forcibly removed from the ground to keep him from finishing Smith with a large knife. And when he finally reached home, driving Colonel Moore in a gig, and when, after embracing his son, the judge, with a twinkle in his eye, said:
“Well, Quash, did you deliver the note and trunk to Mr. Harvell?” he squealed again, and replied:
“Ole marster, go read yer book.”CHAPTER VII.
In the year 1880, I was appointed a delegate at large to the Democratic National Convention which met at Cincinnati and nominated General Hancock for President, and at the conclusion of the convention, upon the urgent solicitation of a number of prominent gentlemen, I went immediately to New York, and thence to New England to engage in the canvass as a speaker. No ex-Confederate had up to that time been invited to “stump” those States in a political campaign, and it was believed that some good might be accomplished by making the venture. We had a thorough and stirring campaign of Vermont in the hope of reducing the usual Republican majority in that stronghold of our opponents—which proved to be a vain hope—and I made some speeches in Maine and later in New York, where I felt more at home. This service consumed five months of fruitless labor, so far as the election of the Democratic candidate was concerned, but in other respects my experience was a very pleasant one.
This experience was embodied in a series of letters to The Raleigh Observer, then edited by Capt. S. A. Ashe, under the title, “A Rebel Brigadier in Northern New England,” and as these letters were cordially received both at home and in New England, and were never put in permanent form, I insert
them here as a part of these reminiscences, and as illustrative of that period.A REBEL BRIGADIER IN NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND.
“That rebel brigadier who has been speaking around here with you has gone away, hasn't he?” inquired a stalwart Vermonter of my friend Major H.
“Yes, sir; he has gone to the State of Maine.”
“Well, there's no use in denying it, he's a dangerous man, in my opinion.”
“Dangerous? How? What do you mean?”
“I mean that he's just the smoothest liar I ever heard in all my life.”
Reader, if this estimate of him, honestly and seriously given, did not completely satisfy the person alluded to, he must be insensible to flattery, and stump oratory is a delusion and a snare.
There was no anger in the voice or manner of the Vermonter. He pronounced his judgment precisely as he would have done upon a juggler whose performance had surprised him, or a “medium” whose revelations, though discredited, has left an uncomfortable impression on him.
“Yes,” he continued, “he told a nice, pretty story, and he couldn't have told it with a straighter face if it had all been true. Some folks did believe what he said, and talked like they were sorry about it, but I didn't take any stock in him, and didn't believe a word of what he was talking about.”
A short time after this conversation, when the last of the back counties had been heard from, it became painfully evident that the woods of Vermont were full of just such incredulous persons. And yet the
tale that was told was literally and historically true, and was recited in a kindly and patriotic spirit. It failed, and the question has often thrust itself upon the rebel man, “How and when can we secure the confidence of our Northern countrymen?” That question was answered last summer by a Vermont candidate for Congress (since elected) thus:
“When the rebels all go back to their plantations, and go to work, and let politics alone entirely then we will trust them, and not before,” which suggestion affords strong ground for the belief that a new light is about to break upon the House of Representatives.
But, notwithstanding his failure to effect any political change, so far as votes were concerned, the “rebel brigadier” (who enjoys the title but never obtained the rank) has reason to rejoice at the opportunity afforded him of spending some weeks of unrestrained intercourse among the people of northern New England, for it enabled him to get a nearer view of them than he had ever taken before, although he is by no means a stranger to Northern cities. His experience was a most interesting one in every way, and thoroughly convinced him of what he had previously believed to be true, viz: That ignorance, which Father Tom says “is the true mother of piety,” is and always has been the parent of sectionalism in both ends of the Union.
The masses in each section flatter themselves with the belief that they know all about the people in the other section, their social and political life and material development, when the truth is that their mutual ignorance is amazing, and often ludicrous. Regarding the discovery of a cure for this state of things as the one thing needful for the future peace and prosperity of the whole country, but (in view
of the intensely partisan character of the press) despairing of a remedy, the rebel brigadier can only tender his sympathy to such as, like himself, are honestly regretful at the situation. He is not looked to for a cure, and any suggestion of a possible remedy would be considered an impertinence in him.
The first thing that impressed itself upon him after his arrival and introduction to the public was the manifest curiosity exhibited to see him and hear what he had to say, and it was simply impossible for him to avoid thinking of Barnum in this connection, especially when a virtuous citizen, disappointed at his civilized dress and demeanor, vehemently pronounced him to be a counterfeit and not a genuine rebel. There was no lack of courtesy from his political opponents; indeed, the opposing press was even complimentary in its notices of one whom it regarded as a singularly tame specimen of the animal whose habits it was accustomed to delineate. As for the “rebel sympathizers,” a name applied to all Democrats, whether they had been Union soldiers or not—it is unnecessary to say that their kindness and hospitality was without limit. And, speaking of soldiers, he hastens to say that, with rarest exceptions, that element of the population, without distinction of party association, was, perhaps, the most cordial in its expression of friendship and good will, a disposition which his experience proves to be very general throughout the North among the men who did the fighting for the Union.
When, through the medium of “stump” speeches and social intercourse, he had established pleasant relations with the people, the most common topic of conversation was, of course, the situation of affairs in the South, and whenever such a conversation was
held he was forced to express his surprise at the questions asked and the hearsay testimony he was called on to meet, coming, too, not always from those whose opportunities for information were limited, but from persons of liberal education, ample means, and occupying public positions of trust. Never was he so deeply impressed with the power of the press in moulding public opinion. He knew what it had been, though now greatly weakened, in the South; but he was hardly prepared to believe the extent of it in New England. Newspaper readers in the South have always been few in comparison with the population, and the political education of the people has been largely derived from public speaking and the joint debates of candidates for office; but in New England nearly everybody takes a newspaper, and as a large majority of these are of the dominant political faith of that section, and daily feed their readers with food calculated to strengthen that faith, and as joint discussions between opposing candidates are almost known there, these papers become the political Bibles of the people, and their statements of fact are accepted as absolutely true. Of course this is the case, in greater or lesser degree, in all parts of the country, but nowhere to such an extent as in northern New England.
“Tell me, now, just between ourselves,” said one, “if you think it would be safe for me to travel down through your section.”
“Are the negroes really allowed to go to the polls?” asked another.
“Could a Northern Republican express his opinions without the risk of being killed?” asked a great many, and all asked seriously and in good faith.
The answers to such questions were generally received with incredulity, if their correctness was not positively denied, and that, too, perhaps by men who had never been one hundred miles from their homes in any direction. And in this way the drafts on his patience, his good breeding and amiability were rather exhausting to the rebel brigadier, but they were met with such temper as he could command—“interest added.” He could not help remembering, when such questions were propounded to him, a hundred instances in his own personal experience which gave the lie to the inferences suggested by them. He remembered how—so far from its being dangerous for a Northern man to express his opinions—men of no character at all, as well as men claiming respectability, had been in the habit of standing in the market places of his own city, boasting that they were Yankees, and uttering the most seditious and incendiary sentiments to large crowds of black men, and doing this without apprehending or experiencing the least injury to themselves. He remembered more than one instance where these unfortunate negroes, inflamed by such appeals, had absolutely attempted the driving of the whites from the public streets by force of arms, And, in answer to the query whether the blacks were allowed to vote, he had only to depict the polling places in the city in which he resides on election day, when the man and brother deposits, in peace, ballots too numerous to mention.
It was useless to say that in his own State every facility which the law afforded to the white man was equally enjoyed by the negro; that he held offices, sat on juries, had equal protection for his person and property, received for educational purposes the same amount, dollar for dollar, in proportion to numbers,
and had (what no other State afforded) a separate asylum for the insane, built and paid for out of the general taxes. It all sounded, as the Vermonter said, “mighty nice,” but—he didn't believe a word of it, or, at least, not enough to justify him in putting any confidence whatever in the political integrity and “loyalty” of Southern white men. And so the labors of the rebel brigadier became fatiguing almost from the outset, but his hope of producing some modification of the general distrust did not entirely expire, because his faith in the better nature of the American citizen was strong. This faith was not wholly unjustified, for, despite the result of the election, a kindlier and more reasonable disposition towards the Southern people prevailed at the end of the campaign than existed at the beginning. The repudiation of any feeling of enmity towards them was more earnestly expressed, and the existence of differences between the people of the two sections in politics was more generally regretted.
Still, the want of correct information as to the real temper and aspirations of the people of the South is lamentable. It can not be denied that there is yet a considerable portion of the population of New England who believe that the mass of the Southerners cherish a secret hostility to the government, and the fact that there seems to be some confusion of ideas as to whether the Republican party and the government are not synonymous terms does not affect the conclusion in the least. Nor can it be denied that a very large share of the responsibility for this grievous mistake and wrong rests upon the shoulders of newspaper editors and correspondents. It might be considered unreasonable to expect the conductors of party newspapers to subordinate party
interests to the public welfare, but the history of the country can scarcely furnish a clearer illustration of the antagonism which may exist between them than this. How the country is to be benefited by instilling into the minds of the rising generation at the North the belief that their countrymen of the South are secret enemies and conspirators against the peace and dignity of the nation, it would be difficult to show, unless the elevation of a particular class of politicians into office for a season is to be accounted a benefit to the public. What the ultimate effect of such teaching must be does not admit of discussion or doubt, and therefore it is to be hoped that the spirit which prompts it will soon die out of the hearts in which it now dwells.
Very soon after the rebel brigadier began to make acquaintance with the Vermonters, he discovered the source of the recent impetus which had been given to their anti-Southern feelings. He had not been in the State forty-eight hours before he was asked if he had read “The Fool's Errand.” He had read it, and he commented on it in a much better spirit, he hopes, than inspired the author of that remarkable book, and its after-birth, “Bricks Without Straw,” two works which demonstrate the author's great capacity as a writer, a thinker, and—a hater.
It is impossible for one who reverences intellect of a superior order for its own sake, and without regard to the tenement which it occupies, and who is animated by generous sentiments, not to regret, after reading these books—and especially the first named one—that the brain-power which produced them had not been associated with a nature which would have directed its first great effort to a nobler theme. But then, there would not, probably, have
been so much money in it, nor such an opportunity to gratify that passion which is said to be so sweet to its possessor—revenge. The hiss of the adder is in the rustle of the leaves of these books, and reading them is like smelling a bouquet, or drinking a glass of wine used sometimes to be in the days of Lucretia Borgia. They are deadly poison to the sentiment of friendship and union among the American people. They contain the latest revised and amended edition of the gospel of hate—and they are sold by the thousands. The rebel brigadier was, so to speak, shelled at long range, and then assaulted in front, flank and rear with a storm of these missiles, until, had it not been for his faith in the irresistible power of kindness and patience, he might have thought that he himself, in trying to promote the public good by appealing to the heart and conscience of the Northern people in behalf of their Southern countrymen, was also engaged in a fool's errand; but he has not, even yet, arrived at that conclusion, for he still hopes that the old gentleman with the hour glass will prove to be his faithful ally. Tourgee's books have, however, done great harm, and will continue to do so, inasmuch as they are insidious and powerful political essays, the sole object of which (except as a commercial venture) and the certain effect of which is to perpetuate in a new generation sentiments of hatred and contempt for the social, political and industrial ideas of the Southern people, and to cause them forever to look upon the territory occupied by those people as still, according to right and justice, an estate lost by bad management for a time, but improperly withheld from and ultimately and properly to belong to and be governed by them. The method by which the estate
is to be recovered does not seem to be very clearly defined, but the idea is more than a mere floating one. Of course it is impossible of realization so long as the least remnant of the Constitution is left, and therefore the suggestion of it is the more wicked and inexcusable in the eyes of those who regard the provisions of that instrument as the supreme law of the land, not only when they find it to their interest to so regard them, but at all times and under all circumstances.
At the outset the rebel brigadier was called upon to calm the anxious souls of sundry and divers persons, who, never having enveloped their manly forms in a blue suit when real danger threatened the Union, and therefore having, according to the Northern practice, become the rightful possessors of all the offices, were terribly alarmed lest the rebels should take possession of the government, including the offices, and thereupon proceed to cut fantastic tricks before the astonished gaze of the true and loyal people thereof. He had to “rassle,” as it were, with a torchlight procession of weird conundrums, each of which in succession waved its torch inquiringly towards a skeleton clad in gray. He confesses that this ghostly exercise, daily indulged in, was very tiresome morally, intellectually and physically. It is true that he regularly knocked the procession into inextricable confusion whenever it passed by, but he did long and pine for exemption from the necessity for this sort of exercise. His wish was never completely gratified, however, although the performance was, towards the last, sometimes varied by the substitution of the tariff for the torchlight procession, when anxiety for the welfare of the wretched laboring man kept the rich manufacturers
awake day and night, although many of the ungrateful creatures could not understand or appreciate their tender care, and seemed totally blind to the dangers which they were told menaced them.
Leaving his political experience for the present, and turning to the social life of New England, there were many peculiarities that attracted his attention, and some that excited his admiration. If there is one characteristic more universally apparent than another among the people, it is self-dependence in everything. It is, to a Southerner, more observable in the women, because less expected there, but the woman who does not display this characteristic is the exception in her neighborhood. It may be said with entire accuracy that if any person in that country wants anything done, that person does it, unless it requires more than one, and the rule holds good with all ages, classes and sexes. Whenever “help” is employed, it is needed. There are no supernumeraries, and there is absolutely no waste. One family in the South, of a given condition as to means, will waste more than ten families of like condition in Vermont. Of course there are exceptions to these general statements, but they are not numerous.
The absence of male waiters at the hotels and eating houses in Vermont is one of the things that first strike the stranger. Unless, perhaps, we except an occasional superintendent of a dining room, it is questionable if there is a male hotel waiter in the State; and what still more forcibly strikes a Southerner is the fact that, in many instances, the handsome young lady who waits on him is a graduate, and very possibly the daughter of some prominent citizen of “the village”—as most of the towns are called—which accounts for the slender appetite of
young men from the South upon their first arrival in the Green Mountains, and the phenomenal development of the same, as illustrated by their prolonged stay at table afterwards. Cleanliness in household matters is a sort of religion with the people, and if a man should confine himself strictly to the food served at his own home, he would have to live a very long time before he could eat the traditional peck of dirt. Nothing so quickly touches one coming from the region of perpetual flowers and evergreens as the painstaking care with which he sees ladies nursing their pet plants and flowers in that far northern region on a summary day. The flora that he sees in the country makes him melancholy, and by contrast exaggerates the wealth of that which he left at home, and he finds himself frequently wishing for some of the exquisite roses and other fragrant blossoms of the land where his heart is—“just to let these people see what flowers are.”
The hotels are among the best “country” hotels in the United States. Go to the smallest village, and, although the exterior of the hotel may not be very attractive, you are sure to get good, clean, well-cooked food, a plenty of rich milk, the best butter in the world, and, finally, a bed which it is a luxury to sleep on. There is a very stringent prohibitory liquor law on the statute book of the State, but, alas! for the infirmity of human nature, it is, to a large extent, a dead letter, and nearly every hotel has its “dead-fall,” more or less carefully concealed, but generally ready to open to the magic sound of money. The rebel brigadier found the same state of things in Maine afterwards, and carefully inquired into the history and results of prohibitory legislation there, which satisfied him that, although absolute prohibition
is practically impossible, and although the enforcement of the law gives rise to much perjury and deprives the State of considerable revenue, it prevents a great deal of crime and misery, to which other communities are subject, by limiting the facilities for obtaining liquor, and keeping thereby in the pockets of the people, for expenditure in legitimate methods, thousands of dollars which would otherwise go to the vendors of the “pizen.” Still there does not seem to be any serious difficulty in the way of a man's getting a drink, if he puts his whole mind on it (like the fellow who dug for the gopher during the war), and goes armed with that most formidable of all human weapons—money. There are a plenty of people there who get “fatigued with sperrets,” but they have to do it in a sneaking way, which only adds to the degradation, and they are obliged to do it on very mean liquor, for it doesn't pay to keep a good and costly article when it is liable to be seized at any time. It may be that every man is gifted with a certain amount of “pure cussedness” distributed through different channels of his natural system, and that damming up any one of these will only cause an overflow in some other, so that the average will be maintained; but every good citizen and every pious woman will say, in regard to that channel through which the propensity to drink flows, “dam it.”
A very pleasing feature of all Vermont villages is the public park, with its fine shade trees, and bandstand, from which the good band, with which nearly every village is supplied, discourses music on public occasions, and summer evenings. That sure evidence of a well ordered society—good roads and excellent bridges—are to be seen everywhere throughout the
State, and when it is remembered that there is hardly any level land in it, the impression upon one coming from a region which, even with a flat surface, has not these advantages, is much stronger at first than it would otherwise be. To speak of a crop in the State, in the usual sense of the term, would be ridiculous.
The people get their breadstuffs from the West, but their cattle, especially the milch cows, which feed in summer on the short, sweet grass of the hillsides, are very fine. The once celebrated breed of Morgan horses, for which the State was famous, is well-nigh extinct, and a genuine, pure-blooded stock horse of that breed would, perhaps, bring a higher price there than anywhere else in the country. Still, a great many fine roadsters are raised there, and if they all had the same careful grooming which was bestowed upon one that came to the notice of the rebel brigadier they might also be envied by the young men of the country. He belonged to a very pretty young lady, who had just graduated with the first honors, and whose special delight it was to rise at four o'clock in the morning, go to the stable, and, leading him thence to the back piazza, to spread a carpet on the ground and rub down his legs. She was independent as to fortune, but could not be said to literally illustrate the spirit of self-dependence to which allusion has been made as characterizing the women of Vermont, because when she took a drive of twenty-five or thirty miles to visit a friend, as she sometimes did alone, she carried a fierce dog and a double-barrel shot gun in her phaeton, a proceeding which, as there are no Ku Klux in that region, plainly reflected upon the gallantry of her countrymen.
Stephen A. Douglas used to say that Vermont was a good country to be born in, and there he stopped. It has some advantages as a country to die in also, because it not only contains some beautifully located cemeteries, but marble and granite are very abundant, cheap, and of the finest quality. Digging one's grave, however, would be the most serious item of expense, as the soil is so thin that blasting has to be resorted to—at least, that is the impression made upon a stranger. But Vermont is also a glorious region to live in—in summer. It would strain even a tough conscience to recommend it as a desirable place for a winter residence, but from June until October it is a luxury to breathe the pure atmosphere that bathes its beautiful green hills and vales. The local attachment which sentimental writers have always attributed to the resident of a mountainous country, however, does not appear to be so intense among the inhabitants as to amount to a passion, although it is not to be denied that the individual Vermonter clings as tenaciously to a mountain—if it belongs to him and contains any valuable timber or other marketable product—as any other man. There have been periods in the history of the country, it is true, when this love of home has been powerfully developed, such periods generally coinciding with the occurrence of wars, foreign and domestic, and passing away with them, but ordinarily it is not especially observable. It is not a country in which an outsider would make an immediate fortune by an exchange of commodities, as was illustrated in the horse-swapping transaction between a New Yorker and a resident of this State, which ended by the latter's getting both horses and fifty dollars. But for energy, enterprise and thrift, and
for depositing ballots on what the rebel brigadier thought was the wrong side of politics, they certainly have “few equals and no superiors.”
The scenery in some parts of the State, and notably along the borders of Lake Champlain and around Lake Memphremagog, can scarcely be surpassed. The many smaller lakes, or ponds, as they are called, which in various places greet the gaze of the traveler as he winds his way among the mountains, give a charm to the landscape which is lacking in the grander mountain scenery of the West and South.
In Maine and New Hampshire there are similar landscapes, but the coloring is not so rich.
Sunsets are beautiful everywhere—in the pine levels of the South Atlantic coast, on the prairies and the sea, as well as amid the everlasting hills, in every latitude of every land. Those on Lake Champlain are sometimes most magnificent. In summer when the god of day, before sinking to his rest, pauses above the high-rolling wilderness of the Adirondacks to take his last lingering look across the lake upon Mount Mansfield, towering behind the hills of Winooski, the whole heavens and the earth are radiant with his glory. A rosy mist, uprising from the portals of the glowing west, mantles all the Adirondack range, and spreads far purpling up the azure steep; light, fleecy clouds float slowly across the surface; great golden bars of light, like solid beams, radiating from the fiery orb, strike through the misty veil, and, reaching upward, pale gradually toward the zenith; the slanting rays glance tenderly along the mellow waters, and melt into their silent depths; the woods are kindled with a strange, unearthly light; the south wind softly sings its vesper hymn; mountain, lake and woods as softly catch the strain, and
amid the changing splendors of the summer eve the gates of day are shut, and the stars begin their watch.
It was the good fortune of the rebel brigadier to enjoy many such sunsets while camping with hospitable friends on the shores of that beautiful lake, and on one such afternoon he had the honor to address an audience of some hundreds who had gathered there to hear him speak, or “lecture,” as they say up there.
Opposite the camp on the western side of the lake was Plattsburg, near which was the scene of McDonough's naval victory. At the southern extremity of the lake was Ticonderoga, and still further south was Bennington.
The hour, the scene and the historic associations which clustered around those names must have excited patriotic sentiments in any descendant of the men of the revolution, even though he bore the title which England honored them with. The rebel brigadier, therefore, felt and gave utterance to them, appealing most earnestly to those who surrounded him for a restoration of the mutual confidence and friendship which formerly existed between the people of the two sections of the country, protesting, meanwhile, the good faith of the Southern people, in whose behalf he spoke, and depicting, as best he could, the calamities which had befallen them in addition to those which had accompanied their overwhelming defeat in that war.
Some of his auditors seemed touched by the recital, but the majority, like the stalwart mentioned in the first paragraph, “didn't take any stock in him and didn't believe a word of what he was talking about,” and they would not believe though one should rise from the dead.
What will their children believe?
It is observable that the solemn mysterious animal in whose hind legs such rare possibilities slumber, and whose dignified gait and nodding ears when moving along a dusty lane in August are so suggestive of sweet contentment, is unknown in New England. There is not a mule in the land! Of course, therefore, notwithstanding their superior educational facilities, the people have a great deal yet to learn.
The absence of this interesting animal did not strike the rebel brigadier at first, although he was conscious when riding through the country that something familiar was lacking, but he was suddenly reminded of it one day by seeing the awkward and hesitating effort of an old brown horse to balk, and finally to kick, and then the vision of the missing mule, that living embodiment of universal dislocation, flashed upon him, and he strove to portray to his uninformed companion the matchless gifts of that uncertain quadruped.
When the old brown horse, which thus served, by contrast, as a reminder of the absent mule, had ceased his feeble resistance and resumed his slow gait, the conversation between the rebel brigadier and his companion, whom he had hired to drive him a few miles to a political meeting, was also resumed. The latter, however, had very little to resume, as up to the time of this incident he had confined his part of the conversation principally to four words, and those four words served a purpose entirely new to the rebel brigadier. He had been familiarized with the traditional “du tell,” and “I want to know,” as exclamations of surprise, but had never heard “Oh! you talk so” used, except to rebuke volubility or exaggeration. He was amused, therefore, when,
in answer to some ordinary remark of his about the changed condition of the South, his companion turned his dull eyes upon him, and with the faintest ray of animation lighting his face, and with scarcely an inflection in his voice, mechanically said, “Oh! you talk so.” And so, as the journey and the conversation continued, this ejaculatory utterance was repeated in the same tone, sometimes half suppressed, and occasionally with a slight emphasis on the “you.”
It is impossible for a stranger to pass through the region which these two were traversing without being struck with its beautiful landscapes, and, therefore, the stranger, whose experiences are herein given, was constantly commenting upon them.
“This country is certainly very beautiful in summer,” said he, “ and there is an elasticity in the atmosphere, a freshness and purity which stimulate mind and body. Exercise, even in the middle of the hottest day, does not fatigue one, and the nights are so pleasant that morning always finds one refreshed, but it must be awfully cold here in winter.”
“Well, yes; I cal'clate it's a leetle mite colder'n where you came from,” replied the native; “but Lizzie Fitch, that's been teachin’ school down South, says it ’peared like she couldn't keep warm there last winter, and then, when the cold spell got by, it come so hot ’fore school closed for summer vacation she thought she'd melt.”
“Has the lady quit teaching down there on account of the climate?” inquired the rebel brigadier.
“Oh, no; she's going back this fall and take her sister to teach too—she gits good wages I guess, and she's doing a good work.”
“I hope she will return, and take not only her sister, but as many more friends as she can with her,”
said the Southerner. “It will be good not only for the children, but for herself and her companions.”
An incredulous look was the only response to this remark, and then there was a jerk at the lines and a gentle application of the whip to the venerable locomotive power in front of them. After a moment or two of silence the driver tentatively observed that he was surprised to hear that the “school marm's” residence in the South could be good for her.
“I thought,” said he, “that the rebels took mighty little stock in our women that go down there to teach, and that they made it pretty hot for ’em, ’specially them that teach the black ones.”
“Does the lady of whom you spoke just now say she was ill-treated at the South—that they made it ‘hot for her’?”
“No, I guess not; but they say some of ’em have a rough time.”
“Well, I can't say exactly how, except that the people don't seem to care much for ’em, or notice ’em much.”
“Why should they? If one of them should stop on the way South in New York, or Pennsylvania, would she receive any particular attention from strangers unless she had letters of introduction? Or, would a Southern woman coming up here, under the same circumstances, find it different?”
“I don't know as she would.”
“Come, now; do you think if one of those rebel women should stop over awhile in your village that the ladies would call on her, and invite her to their houses, without knowing anything about her?”
“I know one that wouldn't.”
“Do you know one that would?”
The Yankee laughed a very unsatisfactory sort of a laugh, pulled his reins, and said:
“Oh, you talk so.”
They were just turning a bend in the road, which, for some distance behind them and up to this point, was flanked by a forest of hemlock, pine, maple, and beech, when the rebel brigadier pointing to the left, exclaimed:
“Look! look! did you ever see anything more beautiful than that? Isn't that magnificent?”
The country through which they were passing was mountainous and the road followed the notch through which flowed one of those tumbling brooks of clear, cold water in which the speckled trout loves to hide himself. Their course was up the stream, and they had reached nearly to the summit level, when the landscape which so excited the Southerner's admiration burst suddenly upon their sight.
At the base of an almost perpendicular peak, on whose rocky crest the sunlight was sleeping, and whose green sides were seamed by landslides and riven by the rush of waters which the voice of spring had yearly called from their frozen tomb, and, reflecting from its glassy surface every outline of the mountain, lay a lake as blue as sapphire, and as motionless as the surrounding hills. The breeze, like the sunlight on the mountain-top, was sleeping, and all-pervading stillness held the air and rested upon the water. A lone eagle sat upon a projecting cliff as if carved from the solid rock, and looked downward upon the travelers like the genius of time watching the march of humanity. The scene was perfect in its sublimely beautiful repose.
“Stop,” said the Southerner, “I must enjoy this view a little while.”
He sprang out, and, walking a few paces from the road, took off his hat and stood gazing with delight upon the scene, every feature of which he seemed to be absorbing—the smooth breadth of clear, blue water, whose colors deepened next the rocky heights—the uprising mountain with its cliffs and crags jutting through its green mantle of pines and shrubbery, and far down the winding vales the gradually softening outlines of the receding range rolling away in huge masses until lost in hazy billows along the horizon.
After a few moments passed thus, he slowly and reluctantly returned towards the vehicle, and was about to resume his seat, when the driver, who had been silently watching, said:
“Ain't there no mountains and lakes down South?”
“Oh! yes, plenty of them. In my State, North Carolina, there are twenty-six mountain peaks higher than Mt. Washington, which you all think is the tallest mountain almost in the world; but we don't have our mountains and lakes together, as you have. Our mountain scenery is grander, but not so beautiful as yours, because the water views are lacking. Our lakes are all in the low country, near the sea, where there are no hills. If some Yankees would only go down there now, and get the lakes to the mountains, they could make a fortune,”—and the rebel brigadier smiled encouragingly on his companion—but after a moment added in a soliloquy, “but, if they made as bad a mess of it as they did in trying to reconstruct society, our physical geography would be very badly deranged.”
At length their point of destination was reached, the usual crowd was assembled, and there was a flag raising, music and stump speaking. It was a very
out-of-the-way place, and there was a flavor of rank radicalism in everything about it, but there were present some of the truest and best Democrats in America—as there were at all the meetings during the campaigns in that region—who heartily enjoyed the proceedings, and applauded the sentiments of the speakers with a vim, especially when the rebel brigadier commented on the ignorance prevailing among them in regard to the South, and denounced the mean lies which were persistently kept in circulation about the Southern people. After the meeting was over a much pleased citizen came to him, and said:
“I lived in the South several years and know the truth of what you said, but you've struck a hard crowd today. I once heard a preacher right here tell a crowd that during slavery times the negroes on the plantations in the South were driven out of the fields when it was too dark to work, and were penned up at night with the other cattle! I denied the statement, and upon his repeating it I denounced him as a liar, and came very near getting mobbed for it.”
“You say the man who told that was a preacher?”
“Yes, sir, and he said he knew it to be true, and most of the crowd believed him.”
It then occurred forcibly to the “orator of the day” that he had been persuading and perspiring in vain, and that, so far as that audience was concerned, his object would be realized “when Gabr'l blow his trumpet in de mornin,’ ” and not before.
To add to his exhilaration a former carpet-bag sheriff of an adjoining county to that in which he lives, and whose sudden disappearance from the scene of his missionary labors had cast a gloom over the county treasury, came up smilingly to greet him, and to make affectionate inquiries concerning the
dear friends he had “left” behind him. The meeting was quite touching, as might have been expected, and the ex-carpet-bagger's eye—he had but one—was moistened at the recollections of the past, those halcyon days now gone never more to return. He deplored the unhappy condition of affairs at the South, and wringing the hand of the rebel brigadier at parting, expressed in mournful accents the earnest hope that the spirit of persecution for opinion's sake would soon cease in that God-forsaken country!
Fortunately the depression of spirits which such an interview naturally produced was dissipated soon afterwards by a very pleasant incident, which, like many similar ones, is most agreeably remembered by the rebel brigadier. Returning from the meeting above described, and passing through one of those pretty little hamlets which nestle in the valleys of that region, he was saluted by fifes and drums played by Union soldiers who had assembled on the roadside, and who gave him “three cheers and a tiger” as he approached, and the same as he departed. There was the sound of real reconciliation in the rattle of those drums and the ring of those cheers which it was pleasant to hear, and to fitly acknowledge.
At another meeting, in a different place, a most unexpected and rather embarrassing, but laughable, incident occurred, which created a little sensation in the crowd, but fortunately no serious disturbance. The rebel brigadier was speaking to a silent and attentive audience, and was vindicating the Southern people against the slanders which had been heaped upon them, and justifying their course in being “solid,” when a very respectable looking and well dressed gentleman interrupted him by saying that the South was not only right now, but was right during
the war; that secession was right and the North wrong! It was rather demoralizing under the circumstances, to the speaker, but he rallied, delivered a funeral oration over the dead past, and immediately turned loose the bird of freedom. He afterwards sought out the gentleman and earnestly requested him not to speak at the same time and place with him again—at least, on that particular theme. The gentleman acknowledged the force of the suggestion, but indulged in a few observations touching the history and conduct of the Republican party which were calculated to make one's hair rise. It all sounded very much like something which the rebel brigadier had heard before somewhere; but, coming from such an unexpected source and in such a latitude, it had almost the freshness of a new story. The gentleman, like many others up there, may have had a grievance of his own to complain of, but he appeared to be speaking from higher ground. There is much bitterness, however, towards the Republicans there by men who were socially tabooed and hounded down in their business, and even in their churches, because they voted the Democratic ticket, and the fact that they are in such an almost hopeless minority only adds intensity to their feeling of antagonism towards that party. The tenacity with which they hold to their political faith is certainly worthy of respect, and their desire to have justice done to the South entitles them to our sympathy and friendship. They are beaten at every election with undeviating regularity, but maintain their organization, and keep pegging away with untiring devotion; and, although the prospect for their success is not very encouraging, they may yet—and sooner than their opponents imagine—realize the reward of perseverance in a good cause.
An illustration of their spirit was furnished by another incident which happened at the same meeting. An old fashioned Democrat, some years previously, had been disgusted at seeing an old cannon, which he had long been accustomed to use in celebrating Democratic victories, prostituted (as he considered it) to similar uses by the Radicals, and, in his wrath, had “captured” the piece at night and buried it in the ground near his residence. No one knew what had become of the gun until the last campaign, when the old man resurrected it, cleaned it nicely, mounted it, prepared the cartridges, and drove down to our meeting, a distance of twelve miles with his pet hitched to a fine pair of horses, where he waked the echoes for an hour or two, to the danger of the bystanders and his own great satisfaction. Hearing the rebel brigadier regret that he did not have any Confederate money with which to illustrate his argument in regard to the payment of the rebel debt, the old gentleman hauled out a dollar bill of that unmatured currency and presented it to him. It is to be hoped that he has not died of a broken heart since the election, but that he may live to fire a salute over a Democratic victory again.
At this same meeting, too, the effect of the misrepresentation of the South by newspapers was made manifest in a way that was really distressing to the rebel brigadier.
A middle-aged man, who was evidently not in good health, came to him and said he desired a little conversation with him. He said he was a Democrat; that his health was rather delicate, and that the climate was too severe for him; that he had a little money and would like to take it and move to a milder climate to farm, as that was his occupation; that
he really wanted to go to the South to live, and, if he did, would be a good citizen there as he tried to be at home; but so much had been said about the ill-treatment of Northern men down there that he was almost afraid to risk it, and he anxiously inquired if a man of his politics, who attended to his business and didn't interfere with others, should move there, he would go unmolested and have a fair chance with his family to get along. Was it wrong for the rebel brigadier to feel a little wicked for a few moments?No. 3.
Several occurrences which happened in Vermout during the canvass afforded such good opportunities for reply to the charge of lawlessness and barbarism which Republican orators and newspapers so delighted to bring against the Southern people, that it would have been almost impossible not to take advantage of them.
One was the stripping naked and tarring and feathering of a frail woman, whose mode of life did not suit the ideas of the brave and chivalrous men who lived in her neighborhood, and who took that method of manifesting their virtuous wrath and indignation against her. Another was the murder of a little orphan girl, who was taken out at night by the woman with whom she lived and her son, and was compelled by them to take a large quantity of strychnine against her piteous protest. She died in horrible convulsions, and was left like a dead dog near the highway. Of course such crimes would not furnish any argument to convict a whole community of diabolism, and for that very reason they served very well to illustrate the unfairness of the charges against the South for similar acts done by individuals there.
As to political outrages committed by the sole proprietors of all the loyalty and law-abiding spirit in the land, an amusing instance illustrative of them happened almost under the shadow of the State Capitol, when a zealous patriot tore down and trampled upon the star spangled banner because that ensign of the free bore upon its folds the name of a vile traitor and rebel, Winfield S. Hancock! and when the meek owner of the flag hoisted it again the same advocate of free speech and fair elections repeated the operation with additional aggressive accompaniments. Of course the rebel brigadier attributed these little eccentricities to the playful disposition of the pure and enlightened people who enjoyed all the advantages of a high civilization, and not to the base and cruel spirit which prompted similar deeds in the benighted South. It may be true that the flag-trampler above mentioned really thought Hancock was a rebel, for a gentleman said during the canvass that he had just been tackled in debate by a local statesman who was under that impression: but, if he did think so, it was clearly the result of that excessive information which, by overcrowding the mind, sometimes produces results which are mistaken for downright ignorance; for it is not to be believed for a moment that such ignorance really existed in a State so highly favored in respect to “educational” advantages. But, however this may be, the rebel brigadier took great pleasure in the labor of removing the beams which obstructed the vision of the radical Vermonter when looking for motes in his Southern brother's eye, at the same time explaining that they were not beams at all, but only peculiarities of vision, superinduced by mental strain in the study of great moral ideas. His labors in this direction, it is true, were not crowned
by any phenomenal success, but they afforded him much entertainment and great satisfaction.
Allusion has several times been made in these articles to questions asked the rebel brigadier in regard to the political status of the negroes in the South, and his answers thereto. These were expected, of course, but he was not prepared to believe that any intelligent person would inquire of him, as one prominent gentleman did, “if it was possible for a negro to make a living down there.” Such an inquiry afforded a good opportunity to impart information, as well as to marvel at the profoundly self-sufficient spirit with which a Yankee will undertake to manage affairs of which he has absolutely no knowledge whatever, especially if they are other people's affairs.
Every one of those who asked these ridiculous questions thinks he knows the needs of the South better than any “rebel” possibly can, and that if those disloyal and ignorant wretches did not so persistently impede all progress by adhering to the Democratic party, the loyal Republican North would proceed, as Boutwell put it, to “renovate the waste places of the South,” and enlighten her people with true knowledge and understanding of their duties and interests. Alas! the “renovating” process does not seem to have any fascinations for those who, but for this perversity, would be its beneficiaries. On the contrary, they prefer almost any calamity to it, inasmuch as one brief experience of it cost them infinite degradation and vast treasure.
There are very few negroes in Vermont, and it is worthy of remark that, according to the information of the rebel brigadier, a fair proportion of them vote the Democratic ticket. He remembers seeing one, decorated with Hancock badges and an immense red
rosette, present at a Democratic meeting, but his honest belief is that there is at least as much and probably more aversion to personal association with the race in that part of the country than anywhere else. They are actually disliked, but the very fellows who feel that way towards them at home will howl over the imaginary wrongs to which they are subjected in the South. There is no sincerity in it, of course, so far as the negro's welfare is concerned, although there are persons there who sincerely sympathize with the supposed sorrows of the race whose ancestors their forefathers brought from Africa.
To the rising generation, generally, however, the history of slavery in this country, as a social and political fact, is very imperfectly known; and so it is in regard to most of the constitutional questions which agitated the country before the war. The general idea seems to be that the inhabitants of the South were always a horrible race of people, who enslaved and tortured the poor negro, and finally, without the least excuse or provocation, engaged in a treasonable conspiracy to destroy the government, made war on it, and after four years were conquered by the superior valor of the Republican party, who have been the principal sufferers, but who have, with unspeakable magnanimity, forgiven the great crime, and are struggling to do the criminals good continually in spite of their shameless ingratitude, which is quite a heavenly frame of mind to be in, but somewhat delusive.
There are some very large manufacturing establishments in the State, chief among which are the “Fairbanks Scales Works,” at St. Johnsbury; the “Howe Scales Works,” at Rutland, and the extensive marble works at the same place. The residences
and grounds of the Fairbanks family, of whom there are several, are very fine, and the owners of them are said to be public-spirited and charitable. The grounds, with their fine roadways and graveled walks winding amidst fountains and flowers, are open to the public. The operatives seem to be comfortably fixed, and are said to vote with remarkable unanimity for the ticket favored by the proprietors. It was recently stated in a Vermont newspaper, however, that at the late election there was one exception to the rule, and he, a workman for many years connected with the factory, soon found himself out of employment. He soon got another place, though, and expressed gratitude at having at last found work “where it was no disgrace to belong to the Episcopal Church and to vote the Democratic ticket.”
What little hope had been entertained of reducing the majority in Vermont was well nigh abandoned after the furore about the tariff was raised, because that settled the question as to the way the operatives in all the factories would vote. When S. L. Woodford, of New York, who was the “big gun” of the Republicans, arrived at Rutland, he was invited out to the marble works, and work was suspended in order that the employees might assemble and hear him discuss the tariff. The result was that they went away believing that if Hancock was elected the works would stop; that they would all be thrown out of employment and their families reduced to beggary. These things, together with the moral suasion—called bulldozing when applied to the South—which was practiced under various disguises by employers, destroyed all hope of reducing the Republican majority.
And here again an opportunity was afforded to reply
to the accusations against the South. A hypocritical rascal will bitterly denounce the Southern people for what he assumes to be their crimes against a free ballot by the negroes, and immediately turn around and give his white workmen to understand that they must vote as he does or be discharged. This is notoriously true—although a great deal of ingenuity is practiced to escape the charge of direct intimidation—and it is the most cowardly and contemptible species of bulldozing that can be indulged in, because there is no defense against it to which the working man can resort. It is doubly cowardly and contemptible when the perpetrator of it pretends to be afflicted by an alleged similar interference with suffrage in the South, and it gave unmitigated satisfaction to the rebel brigadier to express this honest opinion on the subject, ineffectual though it might be.
The fact is that a great many plain truths were told in a polite way by the rebel brigadier, which it was good for the brethren to hear, simply as a matter of news, and which it was his plain duty as a missionary to bring to their knowledge. The obligation, too, was more binding, because he was the first of his kind to go among them in that capacity, but he can not say that they all received the truth with gladness, for their political ways were evil, and their hearts were hardened against the reception of the good tidings which were borne to them. It will happen that way sometimes.
Coming from a country in which deer and smaller game are abundant, and where the streams and waters teem with all kinds of fish, it was calculated to excite the risibles of the rebel brigadier to see the lands “posted” against sportsmen, when there was
not enough game in fifty miles square of it to furnish a day's sport. In traveling over the entire State he saw but one game bird, and was told there were scarcely any in it, and yet he frequently saw stuck up over a fence (which is always made of loose stones or cedar stumps, with the twisting roots attached), “hunting forbidden on this land,” and sometimes, at a little piece of meadow with a three foot ditch in it, “fishing here not allowed.” The latter notice is much more reasonable than the former, however, for frequently the ditch contains speckled trout, and the smaller a speckled trout is the more highly he is prized, three to four inches being the desirable length of one. There is very good fishing in the lakes and ponds for pickerel, pike and bass, the latter being very nearly exactly the same fish which in middle North Carolina is called chub, in the Cape Fear region fresh water trout, and in Onslow and other eastern counties “Welshmen.” How the latter name originated it is impossible to tell, but perhaps the fish are so-called because they have so much mouth. In Lake Champlain very fair sport may be had either in ordinary pole and line fishing, or in trolling, or fishing in very deep water (up to 15 fathoms), where pike are mostly found.
The rebel brigadier passed some pleasant hours in this amusement on that lake, in company with the chairman of the State committee, who is as earnest and untiring a fisherman as he is a sagacious and energetic Democrat and a genial and hospitable gentleman. It would greatly improve the climate of Vermont to say nothing of its politics if the population were all like Hiram Atkins.No. 4.
Passing along the main street of Montpelier one day, the rebel brigadier heard the shrill notes of a
fife upon which some one was playing an old fashioned “muster tune,” in a style that recalled his earliest memories of that ear-piercing instrument. Looking in the direction from which the torturing sound proceeded, he saw seated on the front piazza of a hotel, entirely alone, a white haired, bent, and shrivelled old man, who seemed to be oblivious of all else save the fife in his hands into which he was exhausting his lungs. He did not seem to attract any particular attention, and yet he was evidently not a street musician, or playing for any purpose, apparently, except his own pleasure. It was a rather unusual proceeding, and excited a curiosity to know who the old man was. Upon inquiry, the rebel brigadier learned that he was “the fifer of Lundy's Lane,” that his fife was his inseparable companion wherever he went, and that a large part of his time was occupied in playing the old tunes he used to play in the war of 1812. He, therefore, became interested in him, and watched the old man as, heedless of his surroundings, he trilled tremulously the lively airs to which he marched as “a bold soger boy” in the days long ago. Presently the sounds ceased, the old man arose, and putting “his sole remaining joy” carefully and tenderly in his bosom, slowly walked away.
Poor old fellow! he only carried a fife, to be sure, in those early days, but a grateful country gave him a pension, and has never suspended it at his time of greatest need because his grandchildren engaged in rebellion as was done to many an old man south of the Potomac who carried a gun and shed his blood for his country nearly seventy years ago.
Peace be with the aged fifer, and, when his breath finally gives out here, may be join his old command in a country where eternal truth and justice prevail
and where the false judgments of this world will be forever set aside.
The last days of August found the campaign drawing to a close in Vermont, and the Republicans labored as diligently and anxiously as if they really feared a disaster, although they had a majority about as great as the entire Democratic vote. No importance could be attached to the result of the election there, unless it showed a very decided Democratic gain. The usual majority would indicate nothing to encourage one side or depress the other, but as the election occurred there first, it was thought that a reduction to any considerable extent would stimulate the Democrats in other States and give strength to the Hancock “boom.” In other words, there was nothing to lose, but everything to gain for them. The rebel brigadier felt that there was something of even greater importance than a party victory at stake, and governed himself accordingly; in all sincerity telling the people that—be the result what it might—if he could feel the assurance that a more just and kindly spirit towards the South would exist after he left than before he came, he would not regard his labors as fruitless. He hopes that such is the case, but he is done with the “conciliation” business henceforth, so far as making appeals to the justice or generosity of the Republican party of the North is concerned. That duty has been performed to its fullest extent, and continued efforts in that direction would be a work of supererogation, and a waste of self-respect for which there could be no adequate compensation in any benefits to be derived therefrom.
It is pleasant to believe that the Southern people will hereafter think less about what will please or displease any political party, and more of what will advance their own material welfare—that, “with
charity for all,” they will not forget where that most excellent virtue begins.
The local speakers for the Democrats did excellent service, and so did the State and local committees, but, receiving no substantial aid from outside, their burden was too great to justify much hope of reducing the majority. There was, therefore, but a moderate amount of enthusiasm displayed on either side, and very little of the loud cheering and excitement so often witnessed in the South. The crowds, which were often large, listened generally to the “lectures” without making any other demonstration than is designated by certain Congressmen when they interpolate in their speeches, before the printer gets them, the words “applause” or “laughter.”
Only on one occasion was the rebel brigadier rudely interrupted, and that was by two men, one white and the other colored, who had “run the blockade” on whiskey. A good natured reply produced a laugh at their expense, and after the speaking was over many Republicans came and expressed regret at the interruption, and the hope that they would not be charged with any responsibility for it.
“Why, gentlemen,” said he, “if I should hold you responsible I would be doing the very thing which I have been protesting against. This trifling incident of an interruption of a drunken man, or several drunken men, furnishes a good illustration of the argument I have used. Of course I have paid no attention to it, but suppose the same thing had occurred to a Northern Republican speaking in the South? The telegraph would have flashed throughout the country the intelligence of another ‘rebel outrage’—another evidence of the intolerant spirit of the slave-driving Southerner,’ and the like; and the newspapers
up here would have expatiated upon the necessity for a strong government, to protect the loyal men, and all such stuff. Why do you not give us the benefit of what you claim for yourselves? And why not be just in your judgment of us?”
As a satisfactory answer to such questions was almost impossible, the silence which followed them could not be complained of by the rebel brigadier, but if he lost an opportunity to refresh the recollection of the people as to their treatment of the South he is not aware of it.
Candor compels him to say, however, that there was one subject about which he could not speak with any special pride, and that was the condition of the educational interests of his own State and of the South generally. It was not the pleasantest thing in the world to be confronted with statistics on that subject. Indeed, notwithstanding the explanations which he could and did make as to the fate of State school funds in the years immediately following the war, and the general poverty of the people, and the misleading effect of the figures, (which were frequently quoted so as to ignore the existence of the former slave element) and, notwithstanding all that he could honestly say in any other direction tending to explain the situation, there was still a very uncomfortable balance against us, which had to be acknowledged, and it was mortifying to have to confess it. If the predictions of the rebel brigadier as to the great improvement in this respect which the next few years would witness are justified by events, the reproach will soon be removed. And why should it not be removed at once and vigorously? Can anybody give a good reason that is worth anything at all in
comparison with the benefits to accrue from its removal?
At length the time for closing the labors of the campaign arrived, and the rebel brigadier, having discharged his duty, shook the dust of Vermont from his feet and departed for the State of Maine, by way of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, where he spent a day or two for the second time during the summer, of which he will give some account hereafter.
To say that he enjoyed his stay in the Green Mountain State would but feebly express his feelings. The work was rapid and constant, but the novelty of his surroundings, the beauty of the scenery, the fresh, invigorating atmosphere, the hearty hospitality of his friends, and the consciousness that he was engaged in the righteous cause of the peacemaker, combined to render the labor easy and pleasant, and to make him feel like returning again whenever opportunity should offer. Looking at the people working in their various callings, and especially in the fields, he could not help contrasting with that sterile soil the bountiful land from which he came, and wondering if the industrious and energetic men and women, who labored so hard to obtain a bare living, did really have any idea of what the same expenditure of time and force would accomplish in the latitude in which he lived.
He was constantly making inquiry on this subject, and he found many persons who evidently knew the advantages of climate, soil and resources of all kinds in the South, but who had been so poisoned by the oft-repeated slanders in regard to the people that they preferred their own country, with all its exactions upon them, to the risks which they believed would
face them in the more genial clime. They will come after awhile, as a large part of New England will, simply because the inducements will be overpowering, and when they come we will be glad to see them directing their energies to the development of our vast resources, and helping us to build up our great States. But whether they come or not, the development and the building up will go on with ever increasing impetus, and this goodly land will ere long laugh with plenteousness and peace.No. 5.
A run of three or four hours by rail from the valley of the Connecticut River, which divides Vermont from New Hampshire, brings the traveler into the heart of the White Mountains, a region of country which has been more visited and oftener described than any mountainous part of America. Never having been there the rebel brigadier was glad that it lay directly on his way to Maine, and that therefore he would have an opportunity to gladden his eyes and refresh his nature-loving spirit with a view of its grand and glorious scenery. He left Vermont, carrying beneath his seat in the car a small box of fresh mountain trout which an acquaintance had sent to the station for him, as a parting present, and which was to furnish the attraction of his supper table that night at the Profile House. These he had the pleasure of dividing with a certain small, strongly built, ruddy man, with hazel gray eyes, white moustache and pleasant address, whom the Southern people admired greatly in 1861 for his military skill, and whom they have always respected for his loyalty to the Constitution, to-wit: George B. McClellan, once commander-in-chief of the army of the Potomac, later
the Democratic candidate for President and recently Governor of New Jersey.
The trout were good and so was the General's conversation, but the latter was somewhat interrupted by the yelps and capers of what looked like a bunch of hair that had been struck by lightning, but was really a very diminutive Skye terrier who rejoiced in the high-sounding title of Samuel Jones Tilden McClellan, and in being the property of an accomplished young lady. All this was at the Profile House, which was the rebel brigadier's first stopping place. And what a place it is, to be sure! A narrow-gauge road, ten miles long, running southwest from the main line of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, and winding gradually up the forest-covered foot-hills, from which some most beautiful views are seen, suddenly emerges right along the edge of a lovely lake, and thence following a narrow glen, terminates behind a grove. Stepping from the cars and crossing a romantic little bridge, the traveler looks up and sees before him, almost filling the space between him and a steep mountain side, a large white building, with heavy pillars and wide piazza, and turning back his gaze toward the train he has just left, it seems to be almost squeezed between himself and a still higher mountain. Looking, then, down the pass, along which a shady, delightful road stretches, he catches a glimpse of water again, and high above it, at a distance of 1,200 feet, and standing out from the shoulder of Cannon Mountain with startling and wonderful distinctness against the clear sky, is that vast and marvelous human profile in stone—forehead, nose, upper lip and chin—which was worshipped by the Indians and has always amazed and interested travelers. It is certainly a most astonishing freak of
nature and fascinates the beholder, who turns his eyes from it to the quiet lake below only to stare again at that great, mysterious, silent face, solemnly looking out over the hills and valleys far towards the east as if waiting for the judgment. People who live in such a country ought to have elevated characters, for all around them nature is suggestive of beautiful peace and sublime aspiration. The day which the rebel brigadier spent at the Profile House and in its vicinity was one of those calm, breezeless, delightful summer days when the sun and clouds were constantly making beautiful pictures on the broad mountain sides and on the lovely water expanses, where rested a little fleet of white boats that seemed to be suspended between two crystal atmospheres with mutual reflecting powers. No language can describe the sense of delicious repose and peace mingled with exaltation of spirits which took possession of him. The land was made for the residence of poets and painters, and for the development of every humanizing influence; and yet there is nothing so highly appreciated in it as a dollar—except two dollars.
The hotel easily accommodates 500 guests, and has all the appliances of modern civilization. The superintendent of the immense dining-room last summer was a recent graduate of a university, who was serving in that capacity in order to acquire funds sufficient to complete his theological studies, and seemed to be a gentleman who was in no danger of failure in his profession on account of that shrinking modesty which is so becoming but so often disastrous to a clerical career. The rebel brigadier would recklessly risk a per capita share of the North Carolina school fund that this person will preach with confidence, if not with power, and that he will enter upon
his vocation more familiar with the ways of this wicked world than with the Codex Sinaiticus.
The Franconia Notch in which the hotel stands is 1,974 feet above the sea, and Eagle Cliff, one of the spurs of Mount Lafayette, near the hotel, is 1,472 feet above this level, or 3,466 feet above the sea, and back of this spur Lafayette lifts its conical and precipitous form to an altitude of 5,259 feet. This pile of mountains is on one side of the narrow gorge and on the opposite side is the Cannon Mountain, 3,850 feet above the sea-level and 1,876 feet above the Profile House. On one of the shoulders of this Mount Cannon, at a height of a thousand feet, is Lonesome Lake, where in the depth of the wild woods Mr. W. C. Prime and Mr. Bridge, of New York, have built a delightful summer residence. They own the lake and the land around it, and being men of culture and fond of field sports, they enjoy life there hugely. The ascent of Mount Lafayette, three and three-fourths miles, opens a view almost equal to that from Mount Washington, and embracing a horizon reaching from Canada around the Green Mountains in Vermont down to—it makes no difference where, but it is magnificent. All around this Profile House, in fact, there is an infinite variety of scenery and natural curiosities, one of the most remarkable of which is the Flume, a narrow gorge 700 feet long and only about fifteen feet wide, cut down through the solid walls for sixty feet, over the smooth, rocky bed of which a thin silvery sheet of water glides, and suspended between the perpendicular walls of which hangs an immense and frightful looking boulder, which rolled down and was caught ages ago between the jaws of the ravine. Lakes, cascades, pools, and trout brooks abound in the vicinity, and, overshadowing
all rise the majestic hills on either side of the Pemigewassett Valley which wanders down in bewildering beauty for thirty miles. What a contrast that region presents this February day, on which these lines are written, to that which it offered on that delightful August morning when the rebel brigadier rambled through it; and how typical of humanity has been the transformation! The brief, warm season of matured growth and beauty, when the air was musical with the voices of the singing streams and whispering woods, and the hills were throbbing in the sunshine with the full pulsations of exuberant life, has passed. Death and silence reign, and the earth lies cold and stiff in her white funeral robe. But in a little while—after a little more slumber—a voice will call, the white robe will slip from hillside and valley, the color, faint at first but growing apace, will return to the face of nature, and soon she will rise again in all her glorious beauty, while the floods clap their hands, and the hills are joyful together at the resurrection. St. Paul's expression about being “worthy of the resurrection,” and the connection in which it was used has raised doubts in many a pious soul whether all men would rise again—whether in other words, annihilation would not be the fate of the most wicked. Is this doubt justified by any analogy which can be drawn from nature? This speculation reminds the rebel brigadier that a few miles from the Profile House he stopped at the Twin-Mountain House, where Henry Ward Beecher preaches in summer under a big tent and expounds what they call “Broad Church Congregationalism and Christian Liberty,” which is rather an indefinite definition of a system of theology, but is doubtless comfortable for the intellectual digestive organs of the average summer
boarder of the gentler sex in that part of the country.
Between the Profile House and the Twin-Mountain House is the little cluster of hotels and boarding houses called Bethlehem, one of the most celebrated of all the White Mountain resorts. There were about 2,500 persons spending the season there last year. The fact is, that whole region swarms with travelers during July and August, and much entertainment may be had by observing the manners and peculiarities of the motley crowd. By the way, how any person who is insensible to the ridiculous can manage to get much amusement out of this world is a profound mystery. Such persons are certainly not to be envied, for they miss boundless opportunities to laugh and grow fat. It is, however, sometimes unfortunate for one to possess too lively a sense of the ridiculous. It causes trouble with irritable folks. But where the person who excites this sentiment is all unconscious of being an object of peculiar interest, except perhaps in the way of admiration, and where there is no pain involved in its enjoyment, a keen sense of the ludicrous is a valuable possession. Now, there is nothing ridiculous in a diamond, per se, but sometimes there is fun in the flash of that jewel, and when a number of them get together on the wrong person, or at the wrong time or place, they actually seem to tremble and sparkle with a humorous consciousness of their own grotesque appearance. The rivalry among men, women and children at these fashionable resorts to make the greatest display of these precious stones, and the innocent violation of good taste exhibited by them, was often a source of quiet amusement to the rebel brigadier. Morning, noon and night, at breakfast, dinner and supper, in
the parlor, on the promenade, on lake or shore, in railway trains or stage coaches, in ball-room as in church—everywhere, at all times, by almost everybody, they were worn, as solitaires or in clusters, on hands and ears and necks and shirt-fronts and (they do say) on garters and things unmentionable. The next time he goes to a summer resort, the rebel brigadier will investigate the truth of this last assertion—by asking a married man if he knows how it is. This absurd display was made by persons from the large cities principally, but not exclusively, for it was very general. In many cases the glittering gems sparkled on ears and fingers heavily coated with soot and cinders and streaked with rivulets of perspiration, which oozed from the pores of their oleaginous possessors. Very few were heirlooms, a great many had been hired from jewelers for the season, on collateral security, and, perhaps, more still were only paste; but all served the purpose of making what Mr. Mantalini would have called a “demnition shine,” and that was happiness enough. Fat people and lean people, tall people and short people, spectacled, one-eyed and deaf people, young women leading “pug” dogs, wheezing grandmothers, thin-legged children, snobs with muttonchop whiskers, and hair parted in the middle, as well as old fellows as bald as an egg—all wore diamonds, real or counterfeit, and doubtless slept with them on. It was a diamond carnival, and was, to use a Chatham phrase, “plumb ridiculous.”
Beyond the Twin-Mountain is the far-famed Fabyan House, directly on the main line of travel, and right in front of the junction from which roads branch off to Mount Washington and other places. It is an immense wooden structure, with airy rooms and a very large office and dining room, and is always
full of people. The strains of a good orchestra greet the traveler as he arrives at the station, and he recognizes, perhaps, as he enters the building one of Strauss's beautiful waltzes, to whose rythmic swing bevies of young girls are circling on the wide piazzas. This is a central point in the White Mountains, from which streams of humanity are constantly pouring in various directions, and a rendezvous for tourists who have separated at other places. There is nothing remarkable in the immediate vicinity, but there are many wonderful and attractive places within a few miles of it, chief of which is Mount Washington, with its astonishing railway and other interesting features, a notice of which, with other matters. will be given in the next number of these papers.
The rebel brigadier had a good dinner at the Fabyan, which the eccentricities of a female who sat near him rendered easy of digestion, by keeping him in a state of suppressed merriment during his masticatory exercises. Perhaps he may attempt to describe that, too.No. 6.
It was a clear August day at the Fabyan House. The atmosphere was as pure and pleasant as it is on a bright October morning in the latitude of Cape Fear. The hotel piazzas were thronged with persons of all ages and both sexes, the older of whom sat in easy chairs or slowly promenaded back and forth, while others read the daily papers or chatted in family groups. Occasionally an unmistakable bridal couple could be observed, and very frequently persons who were engaged in looking around for a chance to sacrifice themselves to that state of life whenever a desirable opportunity presented itself. Children ran
about, followed by nurses in French caps, the orchestra were playing lively waltzes or popular songs, and in front of the hotel, at a distance of about one hundred yards, a train of open excursion cars, fitted with revolving chairs, was standing on the track of the road to Mount Washington, waiting for the arrival of other trains on the main line. Presently, upon the announcement that the train is coming, there is a general movement of such of the crowd as intend visiting the mountain, towards the station. Overcoats and shawls are on almost every arm, and finally, when all are comfortably seated, the train pulls out for the foot of Mount Washington and the excitement of expectation begins. The distance from Fabyan's is six miles, and after the train starts every eye turns toward the great brownishgray looking masses of which it forms the most conspicuous feature. There it stands, and from this distance the railroad which climbs its rocky breast seems like a pale, narrow ribbon clinging almost perpendicularly to it from head to foot. Winding around the narrow valley of the Ammonoosuc by heavy grades the train glides along and at last halts on a little plateau. There is a rush from it towards another track which begins at this point, and on which are standing some of the queerest looking engines imaginable—small, but very powerful machines, of complicated and peculiar construction and with boilers set at an angle. This is the celebrated mountain railroad. There is, in addition to the side rails, a central rail about six inches wide, containing cogs into which a cog-wheel on the engine plays, and when the engine is at work this cog-wheel makes a grinding, rumbling sound which is not at all musical. There is only one small car to each locomotive, the car being
pushed up the mountain and held back when coming down by this ratchetting process. The journey to the top of the mountain is three miles long, and the time required is an hour and a half. The rebel brigadier had been scared during his life about as often, perhaps, as other folks. He had been in one or two horrible railroad wrecks, in a steamboat collision, and once on a ship afire a hundred miles at sea, besides the experiences between 1861 and 1865; but he was a little worse scared for a few minutes while ascending Mount Washington than ever before. The grade at the trestle called Jacob's Ladder is 1,980 feet to the mile, or one foot in three; and as the trestle is raised about thirty feet from the rocks, and winds right around the edge of the mountain, about a mile up in the air, the traveler, without moving his position but by merely lowering his eyes, can see, yawning down, down, down below him, a gulf like the bottomless pit. Looking ahead, there climbs the steel track before him, up, up, up the apparently endless steep until his lower-jaw teeth seem to be rising out of their sockets and all his blood settling in his heels. The prevailing idea in his mind about this time is, that if anything should break, lightning couldn't overtake him going down the awful slope behind him. It is true that no serious accident has ever happened on the road, and that there are more than seven different arrangements of the engine which supplement the cogs, and render accidents almost impossible, but he is scared all the same, and feels that if he was sitting on one of the rocks around him he could enjoy the scenery more, for by this time the scenery is becoming very grand. Just about this point, the trees, which have been dwindling gradually, give out entirely, and there is no vegetation
amidst the wilderness of broken rocks, except the mosses and ferns and little flowers of the highest latitudes. He has put on his overcoat by this time and feels comfortable in it. And so he goes slowly up to the summit, and steps from the car to the piazza of the Summit House, a three-story building, which, in addition to the usual secure foundations, has been literally tied down and fastened to the rocks to keep from being blown away. The rocks on which this house is built are 6,293 feet, or nearly a mile and a quarter, above the sea-level. Near the hotel are the signal service station and the office of a little newspaper, called Among the Clouds, which is published daily and furnished to nearly all the ten thousand visitors who go there during the season.
The view from the top of Mount Washington is indescribably grand in its vast sweep, and in the variety of scenery which it embraces. If the statements currently circulated are true—and they certainly appear so to the visitor—the total boundary line of vision encircles a space of a thousand miles in circumference, and takes in a part of Canada and parts of five different States of the Union, as well as points on the sea at Portland, Maine, and Old Orchard Beach. The panorama spread out before the eye is sublime and in almost every direction there is, at shorter or longer distances, the glitter of water, sleeping in the bosom of the hills, or pouring down the valleys to the sea. Here and there in the far distance a broader patch of light marks the site of some great lake, on which the summer sunbeams rest; again, half buried amidst dark shadows of some remote mountain, the white buildings of a hotel or hamlet may be seen; down in the nearer glens the stage-coaches crawl along the yellow roads like ants to
and from their hives; immediately north loom up the majestic cones of Mount Clay and Mount Jefferson, which seem but a step across the intervening valleys, and behind them Mount Adams and Mount Madison lift their gray heads to the clouds; while further north still, in the blue distance, the peaks tumble, and fade away into Canada. Turning to the east the Maine lakes and mountains, like a far-off picture, greet the eye; and so turning to the south and west, a succession of grand and glorious views are spread out as far as the Lake Champlain country and the Adirondacks, and sweeping thence north again, along the Green Mountain range into Canada. Of course the full picture from the summit of Mount Washington can not be seen except upon a particularly clear day, and in this respect the rebel brigadier was very fortunate, as there was very little haze in the atmosphere, and the cloud pictures were unusually fine.
The descent of the mountain is at the same slow gait as the ascent, and when the foot is reached there is a sense of relief, as after some catastrophe that has been successfully escaped. Conversation, which had suddenly ceased at the steep places, and had not been resumed—except in a jerky way, as if the passengers had all been simultaneously seized with a conviction of their sins, or the stomachache—now breaks out with unrestrained volubility, and the little station where they wait for the train to Fabyan's becomes vocal with the chatter of many tongues and the ring of merry laughter. The hour for departure comes, and the train whizzes down the grades and around the gradual curves of the Ammonoosuc, and, running out on the level to the junction at Fabyan's, there disgorges its load of passengers. Most of the male ones seem to be impressed with the immediate
necessity of interviewing somebody, and, strangely enough, they all happen to seek the same person, and this person is one of those “meejums” between mankind and spirits whose communications far surpass those of the ordinary kind in that they can cause not only the faith but the legs of the interviewer to stagger, and can bring more wild visions into the mind, and more red marks on the flesh, than Foster, in his most successful hour ever dreamed of. The presence of this particular medium was overpowering in other respects. He wore a shirt bosom spotless enough to satisfy the ambition of a Millerite in search of his ascension robe and almost blinding with its flashing heap of diamonds, and a crown of hair that was—well, simply ravishing. His style, too, in playing his vocation, and the air of condescension with which he accepted the small modicum of filthy lucre with which the dust-covered traveler meekly sought to placate him, was very impressive. There was a lofty scorn, too, in his manner, and a repressed light in his eye, which excited the alarming suspicion that he might be a nobleman in disguise. This expression was most observable when the visitor to his shrine would utter the cheap words, “ein lager,” or the vulgar phrase, “whiskey straight,” and there was no softening of the lines upon his haughty brow, until some delicate looking young prig, with an eye glass, and a slender cane held by the middle, came walking up, with elbows stuck out, legs wide apart, and spine curved over, like a demoralized cat, and lisped out a desire to consume “a small bottle—Roederer.” Then an expression almost approaching a smile, but sad, very sad, flitted over the medium's face, like—yes, it may have been—like the swift shadow of a summer cloud over the gray walls of his ancestral chateau in a far foreign land. It may have been,
but it was not, for the bar-keeper was named Smith, and his home was in New York.
Dinner-hour is a witching time to the hungry, no matter what time of day it comes. There is no great romance about it if you have to take that meal at 12 o'clock m. and be in a hurry, too, to get back to your work, as is generally the case in New England; but to enter a vast dining-room in the cool hours of a summer evening, where there are hundreds of persons who, like yourself, are mere travelers stopping for a day or two to see the sights and be amused, is very often the prelude to an hour of fun and enjoyment of various kinds, which renders digestion easy and secures sound repose for the ensuing night to the tired frame.
There was the usual number of “characters” at the Fabyan House that day, of both sexes, and also a large number of well-bred people who attracted no particular attention because they were well-bred. That interesting animal, characterized in our earlier phraseology as the “lady-killer,” but dubbed in modern slang “the masher,” was there, of course, for they infest all the summer resorts. It is sweet to contemplate one of these festive creatures, when engaged in the delicate discussion of the ordinary hotel cuisine. The graceful poising of his fork, the tender handling of his napkin, the melting glances which he bestows upon the attractive young female, and the general appearance of having been born tired which he presents, inspire the beholder with profound emotion. It makes a disposition to commit homicide appear to be virtuous.
The “loud” female was also there in all her opulence of bad taste in dress and demeanor and her audible display of unfamiliarity with the rules of grammar.
Visiting such places for the purpose of being seen, she does not for a moment forget this purpose, but generously permits the public to see more of her when in full dress than at any other time, and to hear more of her philosophic observations upon the state of the female dry goods market and the like than could be obtained anywhere outside of a furnishing establishment. One of these dear, delightful persons sat near the rebel brigadier on that August day, and, in conversation with her companion, imparted a large amount of information which ought not to be lost to the world, but probably will be unless the quiet and refined lady who sat opposite the rebel brigadier and whose eyes twinkled every now and then during the entertainment, especially when she caught him about to choke, was an authoress. If such be the case we will probably see it in print. A Shaker friend with whom the rebel brigadier was talking, and who had heard and seen the dear creature during this conversation, said in reply to a remark which the rebel brigadier addressed to him, and in the grave and measured tone of his fraternity, “Yea, she seemeth unwise and frivolous.”No. 7.
The train from the West comes booming along, and the rebel brigadier, bidding farewell to the Fabyan House, selects a revolving chair in one of the open observation cars, seats himself, takes a last look at the crowded piazza, lights a cigar, and, as the notes of the “Beautiful Blue Danube” float out to him on the bright, clear atmosphere, glides away towards the celebrated and incomparable Notch, through which the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad
passes into the Willey Valley, and on down through marvels of scenery, to the coast. There is a full view of Mount Washington for some distance after the train leaves Fabyan's. In a little while the grade of the road steepens to about eighty feet to the mile, before reaching the plateau, from which it plunges down the valley. On this plateau is situated the Crawford House, a very large and celebrated hotel. In front of this hotel is a little lake, the head of the Saco River, and not far off is Mount Willard, the view from which has been greatly praised. The train stops at the Crawford a little while, and here the first glimpse of the gate of the Notch, down which the track winds, is obtained. There are a great many cascades and falls in the vicinity, some of which are said to be very beautiful, but not as yet very easy of access. Leaving the Crawford and starting down the valley the passenger's attention is called to a white building, far below him, in the bottom of the ravine, and he is informed that it is the historic Willey house, where a whole family were destroyed in the summer of 1826 by an avalanche. Unlike the trains on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which whirl down the Cheat River Mountains with such frightful speed, the train of open observation cars on the Portland and Ogdensburg road moves more slowly, and gives the traveler excellent opportunities to view the scenery before him, behind him, and all around him. The track clings closely to the mountain side, and is, at some points, so high above the bottom of the valley that the trees down there look like small shrubs. At the Frankenstein gulf it crosses a trestle eighty feet high and five hundred feet long, and, all along this part of the route especially, the scenery far surpasses any in the
White Mountain region. The effect upon the passengers is one of continuous enthusiasm. Exclamations are heard on all sides at almost every curve of the track when some new and splendid panorama is opened to the view. The rebel brigadier unqualifiedly pronounces the trip through the Notch, from Crawford's down to North Conway, infinitely superior in its wealth of splendid scenery to anything his eyes ever rested on. But he will not attempt to describe what has been the theme of so many inspired pens and brushes. He will proceed with his true and homely narrative, like the veracious chronicler he is, and tell how he was impressed by things in Maine.
Arriving at Portland in the afternoon his first desire was to take a good look at the beautiful harbor of which he had heard so much. He did so from a very favorable point of view and was disappointed, perhaps because he expected too much. It is, however, a spacious and well protected anchorage, but not nearly equal to some others on the Atlantic coast. Portland is a lively city of about 35,000 inhabitants and has some fine public buildings of marble and granite, and many handsome private residences. Here was born that almost supernatural orator, Sargent S. Prentiss, to whose extraordinary power Daniel Webster paid an enthusiastic tribute, after standing an hour or more and listening to his speech vindicating his right to a seat in the House of Representatives from Mississippi.
Inquiring for the Democratic headquarters the rebel brigadier was directed to a building near the hotel, and entering it he was ushered into a room where a quiet little man, with gray whiskers and sharp black eyes, was seated, receiving, opening, and
answering telegrams and letters. He was a man of few words, and had the appearance of being overworked, but was cordial in his reception of the rebel brigadier and immediately informed him that he was advertised for that evening at Biddeford, for which place he must take the next train. There was a business air about him, and a tone of half command which was really pleasing to the new recruit. While sitting there a bright, talkative, humorous New Yorker, who was also engaged in the canvass, came in, and amused the rebel brigadier with an account of his speech at some place on the coast the evening before. His description of the audience and of the manner in which, after feeling his way to their sympathies, he had carefully avoided the greenback question, and had spent his force on Mrs. Hayes's new set of china for the White House, winding up with a temperance lecture, was very laughable. In obedience to General Order No. 1 from the little man with the gray whiskers, the rebel brigadier left on the first train (late afternoon) for Biddeford. The road runs down the coast right along a number of famous beaches, and at Old Orchard Beach passes between the hotels and the surf. It being the first time in several months that he had snuffed the seabreeze, and watched the breakers roll in, he was greatly refreshed by the sight and felt like jumping out of the train and rushing into the water. Arriving at Biddeford he was met by a number of gentlemen, among whom was one—tall spare, clerical-looking, with close-cut gray hair and prominent features, whom he at once recognized, although he had never seen him before, as Governor Garcelon, the man who came so near being famous two or three years ago when a thirst for gore prevailed among the Maine
politicians. The meeting in the city building that night was immense. As one of the city papers expressed it, the place “was densely packed with enthusiastic men, and by those, too, who came to get a glance at a ‘rebel brigadier,’ as the Christian statesmen who perambulate our State waving the bloody shirt call them. The expression of all who attended the meeting is that it was the most successful one ever held here.”
It was the first time the rebel brigadier ever had the pleasure of facing an audience of simon-pure down-easters, but they made him feel entirely “to hum” from the outset by the cordiality of their greeting and by the interest they manifested in what he had to say. The chairman very kindly notified him that if, when 9 o'clock came, a large part of the audience should leave, he must not attribute it to any want of respect or lack of interest, because it was a laboring population, who invariably left any meeting at that hour. Therefore, as Governor Garcelon spoke until fifteen minutes of nine, the rebel brigadier began to feel discouraged, but when he closed, at a little after 10 o'clock, there were not a half dozen vacant seats in the hall, though many seemed to have caught cold by the unusual dissipation, as they were continually using their handkerchiefs.
Returning to headquarters at Portland for further orders, and, dropping in at the leading newspaper office, he asked for a North Carolina exchange, in order to see how the canvass was progressing at home, and was informed that they did not take a North Carolina paper, but could furnish him with a Georgia or Virginia one!
There was a large Republican meeting that night in Portland, and it was evident that the brethren
of that party were getting badly “skeert.” They did not exhibit as much enthusiasm as the “Fusionists,” but made a fine display. It was the 2nd day of September, and the whole State was in a blaze of excitement. Meetings were held almost every day in every town and village, and speakers of both parties from different States were holding forth everywhere. The little man with the gray whiskers was as busy as a bee, and wore a sly smile all the time, which encouraged the rebel brigadier as he left for new pastures.No. 8.
Among the melancholy incidents of the writer's experience in New England may be numbered the meeting, now and then, unexpectedly, with an ex-Confederate soldier of Northern birth, who, having moved to the South when a boy, and having been swept away with the tide, fought out the war on that side, and then, when all was lost and the future looked desperate, had wandered back to the region of his birth to seek a living in silence and obscurity. It was most natural to feel somewhat tenderly towards such men. Their career was not generally known to their neighbors, and, of course, they were not anxious to spread a knowledge of it themselves, although they could hardly have been held in less esteem by the “truly loyal” than the average Democrat in that latitude who never went South. “We like you rebels better than these Democrats,” Republicans would say; “for you fought us openly, while they kept up a fire in the rear, and there was not a victory won by you that they did not rejoice at.” It was almost certain to be the case that the person saying things like this had stayed at home during the war.
Occasionally, but very rarely, a native Southerner was encountered, who had strayed from home and was pegging away at some business in that land of universal industry. One of these was the drum-major of a Hancock club at the second place at which the rebel brigadier spoke in Maine, and happened to be a native of the city in which the latter lives, and a resident there until a few years ago. Of course, he was greatly interested in making the meeting a success, and among those whose attendance he solicited was an intensely bitter Radical who lived next to him. He was an old man, and had all the prejudices of an original Abolitionist against Southerners generally, and a pious horror of rebels in particular. He refused to go to the meeting at first, saying that he didn't want to hear any rebel speak; but, finally, upon the assurance that he would hear nothing offensive and the suggestion that he ought in fairness to hear the other side, and prompted doubtless by curiosity, he consented to go, and went. The next morning the drum-major found him at work in his garden, and, asking him what he had to say about the meeting and what objection he had to urge against what he had heard, the old man leaned on his hoe, and with a solemn shake of his head, replied:
“I don't know what to say. I never heard a rebel before, and I expected something different, entirely different. That man seemed to be honest, and if the rest of ’em are like him they ain't as bad as I thought. I've felt sorter worried ever since I heard him. I've got nothing to say against his speech, for he talked fair and square. The fact is—well, I don't know, I don't know,” and the old man picked up his hoe and went to work again.
The Kennebec River, up and down which the rebel brigadier traveled to fill some appointments, ought, perhaps, to have excited in him something more sentimental than it did, but, unromantic as is the confession, the thing constantly associated with it in his mind was the first bill of fare he ever saw when a boy, at the St. Nicholas Hotel in New York, upon which was printed, “Boiled—Fresh Kennebec salmon, Anchovy sauce.” The memory of that first taste of the pink fish was instantly revived when the waters of the stream were seen. It no longer yields salmon as it used to do; indeed, they are rather rare there now, as the demand for them exhausted the stock long ago, but the river and the legend on the bill of fare will, probably, always remain associated in his mind together. The stream now contributes to commerce an article quite as palatable and much more necessary to the comfort of mankind than salmon, to-wit, ice. The banks are lined with immense ice houses, some of which have a capacity of twenty-five thousand tons. The blocks, which are 44 by 28 inches in size, are packed from floor almost to roof, one layer being separated from another by small scantling, and well covered with saw-dust or other such material, and the walls are double, the space between them being filled in with similar stuff. Last summer blocks of ice which had been stored four years were taken out of one of the houses which the rebel brigadier saw, and they were so pure and transparent that (as he was told) a newspaper could be read through them endwise. The manufacture of lumber is another active industry, and the machinery in the mills has been brought to perfection. From the hauling in of the logs to their last transformation
into every kind of manufactured article, every process is by ingenious machinery, and thus the number of employes required is reduced to a minimum. And here again there is absolutely no waste. Everything is utilized, bark, saw-dust and all. There are no slabs lying around. They are turned into bed slats and the like, and so it is with all the butts and odds and ends. Whether they make any special use of the knots or not, and if not, why not, the rebel brigadier does not know, and did not ask a solution of the knotty question. He apologizes, however, for having accidentally struck upon so many hard words in one sentence, though the reader will consider it a happy accident, as it serves to turn the direction of his remarks. But it would be hard to find a soft subject in Maine, notwithstanding the large number of Greenbackers, or “soft money” men in the State. Perhaps the hardest things in that region, except the granite and the habitual violators of the prohibitory law, are the names of places. The stranger who attempts to pronounce these carelessly is in imminent danger of breaking his jaw.
Recently an able New Englander published an article in a Northern review to prove that the educational system prevailing there, and which is regarded as the best in this country, could not be cited in support of the claim that popular education was an antidote to crime, and he produced a startling array of statistics which showed that, so far from being reduced, the ratio of crimes of all sorts had steadily increased. Of course it would be silly to attribute the increase to the spread of education. It was only cited to show that in spite of education crime was on the increase.
A similar state of facts has recently been developed in connection with the prohibitory liquor law in Maine. It furnishes no argument against the law, for, as in the other case, experience would contradict it; but it is a curious fact, nevertheless, that in Maine, while the population between 1851 and 1880 only increased 14 per cent, the percentage of increase in crime during that time ranged from 125 to 800 per cent, and the total average of increase was 297 per cent. Judge Goddard, who recently published a letter on the subject, concludes his statement, covering a period from 1840 to 1880, with this sentence:
“This reveals the appalling increase of forty-three fold in what until 1876 was capital crime, within forty years.”
There is, after all, some consolation in discovering that, even with the tremendous addition of our lately enfranchised citizens, “the ignorant and whiskey drinking Southerner” is not the worst man in the world.
The people in Maine up to 1851 hardly knew what a suit for divorce was. Such a suit was an exceedingly rare proceeding. Ex-Governor Dingley proved to a committee of the Legislature that Maine now leads all New England, having granted, in 1878, one divorce for every 679 men and women in the State. Insanity and suicide also increased in a ratio far exceeding the gain in population. During all this time Maine enjoyed not only a first class school system, but the benefits of a prohibitory liquor law also, and yet 64 per cent of the convicts were under the age of 30, and 18 per cent of them under 21, and nearly all (123 out of 199) were born in Maine.
Who said any thing about glass houses?No. 9.
At the capital city of Maine (Augusta) is the residence of the present Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, who is one of the most brilliant men in public life. As a parliamentarian he has no superior, and as presiding officer of the House of Representatives for a number of years he never had an equal in some respects. Adroit, able, audacious, ready, full of resources, and as quick as lightning, he wielded the Speaker's gavel with masterly skill. When, as was sometimes the case, he took the floor for debate, he exhibited these qualities with even greater success and adorned them with wit and eloquence. He is preeminently a bright man, and his social qualities are very fine. To these latter a large part of his great personal popularity is due, for it is well known that no man of his party has so strong a hold upon its affections as he. Possessed of an impulsive temperament there is a broad contrast between him and such men as Messrs. Conkling and Edmunds, who—though perhaps abler in reasoning capacity, and certainly as constitutional lawyers,—are destitute of the personal magnetism which has caused him to be called the Henry Clay of his party.
It is the habit of the modern American to be an iconoclast. In his view George Washington was quite a respectable sort of old gentleman considering the period in which he lived, and the other men of the Revolution are charitably allowed to have done reasonably well, according to the lights before them, but he esteems the men of that era, generally, as rather “small potatoes.” There are only three names in the whole history of the country which seem to have escaped this iconoclastic disposition of the modern American mind. Those three were Clay, Calhoun
and Webster. They are still regarded as typical of three distinct orders of intellect and character, as well as of three different interpretations of the Constitution, and none who have succeeded them have approached the eminence which they occupy in popular estimation as great American statesmen. Reversing the order in which they have been named above, one is remembered as the greatest of constitutional expounders and the broadest of New England statesmen; another as the most perfect embodiment of pure reason and the possessor of the most stainless character in our public annals; and the third as the grandest popular leader in American history. The existence of such a triumvirate in our politics is no longer possible. The conditions are changed. Their peers may now be living; but if so, the average growth around them has so increased as to render the contrast less observable.
Although the illustration is by no means perfect, there is a similarity in the differences between those three great men and the three first named. These differences are as marked in one case as in the other, although they may be regarded by some as miniature likenesses. Mr. Blaine is more like Mr. Clay than Mr. Edmunds is like Mr. Calhoun, or Mr. Conkling like Mr. Webster, but the characteristic differences between them are the same. The power of analysis and the logical acumen which so distinguished Mr. Calhoun mark—though in less degree—the speeches of Mr. Edmunds, but he lacks entirely the enthusiasm which enabled Mr. Calhoun to develop his severest logic in sentences full of fire. The one slowly uncoils a chain of argument every link of which is as cold as the cable of an Arctic ship; the other used to reel his off rapidly and red hot. The chief, if not the
only points of intellectual resemblance between Mr. Conkling and Mr. Webster may be said to be the great general ability in debate which each has displayed in the forum or at the bar, and the masterful command of language which has so often astonished the hearers of each when in the full exercise of his best powers. But, as Mr. Webster's ability was profounder, so the fountain from which poured his copious stream of pure English was deeper and more limpidly clear than that from which Mr. Conkling draws.
If these comparisons are distasteful to those of a former generation in the South who admired and reverenced Webster and Calhoun, that other larger number who loved and almost worshipped Mr. Clay will still less relish a comparison between him and Mr. Blaine; and yet, as has been already said, there is much more room for comparison between them than between the others.
But without attempting to draw the contrast further than by the general remark that he is ambitious but prudent, bold but conciliatory, eloquent but eminently practical, and imperious but genial and gracious—as Mr. Clay was,—we will only add that Mr. Blaine was the very heart and brains of the Republican party in Maine during the last campaign, and that, although defeated by a small majority, that party have to thank him more than all others that their defeat was not an overwhelming rout. An indefatigable laborer when work is necessary, he fairly exhausted himself by his constant and unremitting efforts to win the fight upon which so much was supposed to depend. When that fight ended the future must have seemed dark indeed to him. That bright vision, which has so often mocked at the hopes of the
ambitious politician, must have faded almost entirely from his sight, for the result seemed to portend a long lease of power to his opponents. He sent a melancholy dispatch to Garfield announcing the probable result, but he did not whine out any hypocritical regret for the poor colored man as Hayes did when he was beaten for the presidency, and before he was informed that it was to be stolen for him. It is quite safe to say that the sorrows of the colored man were not uppermost in Mr. Blaine's thoughts about that time, any more than they were in Mr. Hayes's, or would have been in Mr. Garfield's if he had been defeated in November. But the October elections dissipated the clouds which were fast gathering around the star of the ambitious Senator from Maine, and in the ides of November it has steadily climbed until it now shines at the zenith.
So much has been said about him because any account of the campaign in Maine which should omit special mention of him as the ruling spirit of his party would be very incomplete.
On the 5th September, and while passing up beyond Augusta, the rebel brigadier observed for the first time a marked change in the foliage of the hill sides. Nature was beginning to robe herself in fall colors, and the different shades of these were growing more and more perceptible. The autumn wind had first kissed the maples and they were blushing scarlet, while some of their envious neighbors of the forest trembled and grew pale, and others, more haughty, began to deck themselves with gorgeous raiment and display their varied charms. At their feet the ferns were fading because the sun's love was growing cold; high up the slopes the slender pines sighed softly, and down in the valley the Kennebec went
grumbling to the sea. Each day added new splendors to the glorious transfiguration of the hillsides, and wakened a deeper tone in forest and stream. And thus the silent succession of the seasons was painted in glowing colors day by day on the wide-stretching forests of the Pine Tree State.
The beauties of nature, however, attracted but little attention in that region about that time. It was autumn in the natural world, but dog days in politics. In every community in the State, almost, the voice of the stump speaker was daily heard, and every night the atmosphere was thick with the smoke of burning torches and resonant with the crash of drums and musical instruments. Trains and steamboats moved in all directions loaded with political clubs going to or returning from mass meetings. Party managers worked like beavers, and the manufacturers of banners, transparencies and badges were constantly employed. In a few more days the contest would be decided, and as the time approached for its conclusion the tide of excitement rose higher and higher, but there were no breaches of the peace that were made public, however much the election laws may have been violated in secret; for the Maine man has such a sensitive regard for the proprieties that he would rather pay something than have a fuss at the polls, and those upon whom he would bestow his generosity would rather be accommodating and accept a small favor, than to engage in an unseemly wrangle over the small matter of depositing a ballot.
Returning from the interior of the State the rebel brigadier filled his next appointment on the sea coast, where there was a vast crowd, a clam-bake, and speeches, with an account of which these papers will probably come to an end.
Mention has been made in a previous article of a Shaker friend of the rebel brigadier, who sat at the same table at the Fabyan House in the White Mountains, and responded in a characteristic way to a remark addressed to him concerning a “loud” female. The rebel brigadier first met him at the Memphremagog House, in Northern Vermont. He was struck by the peculiar dress and manner of the man, and observed that he seemed anxious to speak to him as he stood near him, and looked at him in a longing sort of way several times. At last he entered into conversation and informed the rebel brigadier that he had gone with the crowd the night before over to North Troy to hear him speak, and was very much interested in what he heard—that he took no part in politics and never voted, as it was contrary to his faith, but he liked to hear both sides and learn all he could. He asked many questions about the South, and answered many in regard to the fraternity to which he belonged, always saying “yea” for “yes” and “nay” for “no.” The rebel brigadier had a better appreciation of that delightful novel “The Undiscovered Country,” which W. D. Howells gave us last year, after conversing with this member of the quaint society so charmingly described therein. He listened to the Shaker's simple statement of the cardinal doctrines of celibacy and community of goods which they practice; the former according to the example of Christ and the latter after the manner of the Apostles, and recognized such expressions as “the angelic life” and “being gathered in,” so often used in some of the chapters of the book above mentioned. Accompanying these peculiarities there was a sub-stratum of shrewd common sense, and an eager but suppressed
curiosity in regard to everything, which often excited a smile.
The Shaker is again introduced because the rebel brigadier again encountered his calm gaze in a Maine village just before starting to make his last speech in that State, and was again cordially greeted by him and invited to visit the friends in New Hampshire when passing that way.
The last appointment of the rebel brigadier (because a sudden and violent change in the weather put an end to the canvass immediately afterward) was anticipated with some interest because it was on the sea coast and among the other attractions a clam-bake was announced to come off. Now a clam was a familiar acquaintance of his. He had often hunted that species of game at low tide, detecting their hiding places in the barely-submerged sand by their human habit of spitting—so strangely overlooked by Darwin, Herbert Spencer and other scientists, when seeking evidence to support the doctrine of evolution. He had used them for fish-bait, had eaten them raw, stewed, roasted, in soup, chowder and fritters, but had never seen that chef d’œuvre of New England culinary skill, an old-fashioned clam-bake, or tasted the wonderful hotch-potch which that term signifies. Therefore the mass-meeting was an interesting event to anticipate, and he took the train from Portland in excellent humor.
The station at which he left it for the place of meeting was ten or twelve miles from the coast, and, the roads being very good, he expected to enjoy a rapid drive to the “haven where he would be,” but the gentleman with whom he negotiated for transportation, although very nimble in that transaction
and in hitching up a rather suspicious looking sorrel horse to a sort of buck-board wagon, will certainly never be indicted for fast driving, unless, perhaps, he gets a new team and hears of a good bargain in the neighborhood.
Discovering that he was too strict an economist to waste the energies of the sorrel in rapid travel, but taking it for granted that, like most New England horses, that animal had a plenty of “go” in him, the rebel brigadier, after toying with the whip a moment, suddenly and vigorously applied it where he thought it would do the most good; but alas! without the least stimulating effect beyond a rather pleased switch of the tail. He thereupon resigned himself to the inevitable and sought refuge in conversation, the result of which afforded some compensation for the otherwise dreariness of the trip. He had not told the owner of the team who he was, or where he lived, but had merely engaged passage to the mass-meeting in a very few words. The journey had progressed for some time, when the driver, who had been humming a low unmeaning sort of air, said:
“I thought the meetin’ down here was last night. News come that the band up here at the village went down yisterday, and it looks like they were the ones yonder comin’ now,” and, looking ahead, the rebel brigadier saw two or three open vehicles containing men in uniform approaching, in one of which was a bass drum.
“I reckon that was a Republican meeting last night,” was the reply.
The driver, raising himself from a lounging position, gave a startled look, and turned a little pale, but instantly his face assumed a settled expression, and in a moment afterward, with a furtive glance at the rebel brigadier, he said:
“Yes; I calculated that was the kind o’ meetin’ you was goin’ to.”
“Oh, no—I am going to a ‘Fusion’ meeting, and I've come a long way to attend it, too, all the way from North Carolina. Yes, I am a Democrat—one of those rebel brigadiers you've heard of.”
The effect of this announcement was absolutely ludicrous. It was like the shock of a galvanic battery to the driver, who was evidently taken completely by surprise, and became suddenly inspired with a disposition to quicken the sorrel's gait. After a brief silence the rebel brigadier began to say something about the solid South, when his companion interrupted him with:
“Don't let's talk politics; I don't know much about it.”
So the subject was changed, and they jogged along towards the beach.
In a little while they came to a little country hotel, and the driver, who was growing more restless, said there was no use in his going any farther, that the people in the hotel would take the rebel brigadier the short distance that remained. Being almost in sight of the meeting place, the proposition was assented to, and the driver was released from his sufferings and dismissed.
Nowhere throughout New England did the rebel brigadier receive such an enthusiastic welcome as in that little hotel—a welcome the more agreeable because entirely unexpected. No one knew him, and he knew nobody there, but as soon as it was ascertained that he was a Southern Democrat and ex-rebel, the portly, gray-haired wife of the proprietor came in, grasped both his hands, begged him to place his autograph on the register, sent for the other ladies
of the house, to be introduced, told him she would drive him to the meeting herself; and seemed really delighted to have him for a guest.
A drive of a mile, the last half of which was through an old farm, brought them to the little grove in which the speakers’ stand had been erected, and where several thousand people were gathering. Tents and booths were up and a brisk trade was going on. The place was very near to and in full view of the ocean, and was in the midst of a stretch of poor land liberally sprinkled with rocks. Up and down the coast at short distances were hotels and farm houses which had been quite liberally patronized by summer visitors during the hot season, but were now comparatively empty.
Among those who were left and who attended the gathering were a few Southerners, the meeting with whom was another unexpected pleasure.
Greatly to the disappointment of the rebel brigadier the clam-bake did not come off. There was a plenty of clams otherwise cooked, but something went wrong about the other ingredients of the bake, and that interesting process was abandoned.
There was a very large number of ladies present, and they seemed to be having a good time. The crowd was enthusiastic, and the speaking lasted nearly all day.
The only drawback to the perfect success of the mass-meeting was a northeast wind, which began to blow before the speaking was over, and which grew disagreeably cool as the afternoon advanced, but the crowd did not disperse until the last speaker was through, and when they did disperse it was with cheer after cheer, and in the utmost good humor.
But while everything on shore seemed cheerful
and rejoicing, the rebel brigadier thought he detected an ominous growl in the voice of the sea as it heaved landward, and two days afterward his apprehensions were fully realized. Returning the next day to Portland, before going to his next appointment, he found the weather growing colder and more threatening, and in a few hours afterwards a drizzle set in, which, in a little while, turned into a small snow storm. This was not down in the program of the rebel brigadier, and, not wishing to subject the committee to any unnecessary expense in the way of doctor's bills on his account, he reluctantly notified them that he was about to depart for a somewhat more genial clime and would not stand upon the order of his going, but would go at once and somewhat in a hurry. Whereupon he left for Boston, and, after spending a day or two in that city, where he was overtaken by some of his returning campaign colleagues, he continued his journey to New York, where for several weeks he was again constantly employed in what turned out to be a fruitless undertaking. Whether those who work in the same cause hereafter will ever find it other than fruitless seems to be doubtful, but after some experience the rebel brigadier very confidently asserts that, unless there shall be more courage, and less selfishness in those who control its policy, the Democratic party will never gain the ascendancy in national affairs. That it may profit by its long experience of defeat, and pursue such a course during the next four years as to command the support of a large majority of the people in the next Presidential election, is greatly to be desired, but hardly to be hoped for at present.
The rebel brigadier will hail every sign of such a result, and, hoping for it, bids farewell to his readers.
During the campaign of 1880 and while I was in New York some excitement was created by the publication of a letter alleged to have been written by General Garfield, the Republican candidate for President, which was denounced as a forgery by his friends; and a certain “Tombs lawyer” who was showing the original of the letter and trying to get from acquaintances of Garfield the opinion that the signature was a genuine one, came to me and asked if I would not express such an opinion, to which, after an examination of the signature, a negative reply was given for the reason that in all the autographs of Garfield that had come under my eye (of which I then had and still have one or more) the G was invariably made with a straight stem, whereas the one then exhibited was made with a sweeping curve. Thereupon the Tombs lawyer departed in disgust, and I saw recently that the same individual is now serving a term in the penitentiary for perjury. Speaking of Garfield reminds me that the last time I ever saw him was in the Capitol building when, as both happened to be leaving the House at the same moment, I picked up his hat to try on and it went down nearly to my shoulders. I expressed surprise and asked what size he wore. He said, “a number 8” and that he had to
have them made to order, and then laughing and putting his hand on my shoulder, added, “my head is the same size as Daniel Webster's, and measures twenty-four inches in circumference.” Poor fellow, what a tragic end was his, and what a just estimate of the value and stability of human greatness he expressed on his death bed, when, after directing a message of gratitude to be sent in reply to the Queen's telegram of sympathy, he said that though he lay there, the Chief Magistrate of a great nation, and the victim of an assassin's bullet, he would be forgotten in three weeks after his death!
Even after that campaign had ended in the defeat of Hancock, the sectional animosity of some of the leaders of opinion in New England manifested itself in bitter articles containing the most reckless charges against the Southern people. Among the most absurd and extravagant of the accusations made were those published in The North American Review by Hon. George S. Boutwell, late Senator and Secretary of the Treasury, and the Hon. John Jay, a distinguished enemy of the South. They seemed to me to demand notice, and in January, 1881, I wrote a letter to The Boston Globe in reply to those gentlemen, which was published in that staunch Democratic newspaper under flaming headlines, and which, as illustrative of the difference in the temper and spirit of the accused and their accusers, is here reproduced, with apologies for its length.
To the Editor of The Globe:
The attacks which have been made upon the Southern people in the Northern magazines and reviews of late, although significant of a deliberate purpose on the part of the extremely radical wing of the Republican party, have gone unanswered, just as was the case in the congressional debate in 1875, when every expedient was resorted to to goad Southern members into an angry sectional discussion, which was patiently and persistently declined; so patiently, indeed, as to force from a Northern newspaper the declaration that “the policy of silence was scarcely ever more heroically pursued or more grandly effective as a rebuke since Pontius Pilate represented Cæsar in Jerusalem.” The reason of their silence is not that they are without defence, but that it is apparently useless for a Southern man to express sentiments of loyalty to the government, or of kindly regard for the people of the North, and that it is a waste of time and of self-respect for him to act in accordance with such sentiments. In either case or both, he is met with the insulting charge of base insincerity or mean motive by those who control public affairs. Among these there is a great cry about liberty and equal political rights for all, and yet they esteem it little less than a crime in a fellow-citizen of equal intelligence and character with themselves to exercise his freedom by voting the Democratic ticket, whether he lives in the South and was a rebel, or resides in the North and was loyal.
The insolence and arrogance of the Republican leaders towards the millions of Democrats of the North, whom they denounce as “rebel sympathizers,” even though they be maimed soldiers of the Union,
is refreshing to witness. The writer has often seen exhibitions of this kind from Republicans who stayed at home during the war towards Democrats who had fought and bled for the Union, and he could only express astonishment at the forbearance of the latter. They may possess every other virtue and be qualified in every other respect to merit the esteem of their countrymen, even to the crowning honor of having fought with the rebel beasts at more than one Ephesus, but if they have not the one indispensable titledeed, a certificate of registration as a Republican voter, they are mere trespassers upon the inheritance of the saints, to be ejected with or without legal process as the case may require. Even a rebel, however, is transformed, as if by magic, when he is seen approaching the polls with a Republican ballot in his hands; all his political sins are forgiven and he is welcomed to a seat around the flesh-pots. Naught else can make him worthy of the least consideration. No amount of fidelity to his obligations as a citizen, and no degree of uprightness in his walk and conversation as a man, can secure for him the confidence of these his Northern countrymen, or shield him from their sneers and condemnation. Facts are of no value in his vindication, and the elemental principles of human nature are ignored in his treatment. Therefore he has ceased to appeal to the former for his defence, and, knowing his own integrity, he turns with growing indifference away from national politics, and seeks to build up the material fortunes of his section.
In the face of the fact that all the Southern States have years ago, openly and by the most solemn acts of constitutional conventions, and otherwise, formally and forever renounced the doctrine of secession, they
are still charged, not merely in the columns of party newspapers, but in such periodicals as The North American Review, by writers of established reputation, with a determination not to surrender that doctrine, but to cherish it in secret until they may again practically assert it. Notwithstanding there has been no instance of resistance to the government in all the vast territory of the South since the people laid down their arms and renewed their allegiance, they are accused of nursing a rebellious spirit with a fixed resolution to make war on the government as soon as the opportunity presents itself to do so. Despite the numberless protestations and votes and acts of good faith given in Congress, in State legislatures, in the courts, in the press, in business conventions and in private social intercourse, they are held as enemies to the government, to liberty and to human progress. Although these are the only States in the Union where negroes hold offices of trust and profit and wield a large influence in public affairs, they are denounced as the only States where they are denied all rights and privileges. If a crime is committed in their territory and a Republican is the victim, it is at once, without investigation, attributed to a political motive and charged to the whole community. If a fool or a reckless man utters nonsense or disunion sentiments, not only he and the community and the State in which he lives, but the people of the whole South, from Maryland to Mexico, are saddled with the responsibility, and held up as turbulent semi-barbarians before the gaze of the world; if an honest man undertakes to vindicate them, he is—if a white man—denounced as an interested liar, and—if a negro—as a bribed one; and no character, however blameless or however distinguished, can escape this judgment, even
when receiving courtesy and hospitality at the hands of his judges.
Still, “the North has no animosity towards the South”—certainly not; and it is an evidence of the unreasoning and violent character of the Southern people that they should entertain any such absurd notion. The North is animated solely by motives of benevolence, and these are so strong that the incoming administration is publicly urged to perform a plain constitutional duty by guaranteeing to each Southern State “a Republican form of government!” Mr. Boutwell is so anxious to secure this inestimable blessing to the Southern people that he proclaims it to be the duty of the Republican party (which he regards as the government) “to extort from the Constitution” the power necessary to secure it. There is hardly any necessity to handle that poor old parchment with such violence.
It is much easier to pursue the usual Republican method in cases of party emergency and ignore it altogether, although the one process might be pursued with as much safety as the other, seeing how few are its friends. Mr. Boutwell is fairly entitled to such credit as may attach to a statesman who frankly, if not wisely, sets out his plan of revolution in advance of the accession of his party to absolute power. There is a candor and directness in his method which leaves no room for doubt as to what he would do if intrusted with the reins of government. There is an easy confidence, too, in his assertions of fact touching the conditions of affairs in the South which evinces an amount and accuracy of information never vouchsaied to the slow and painstaking investigator, but only to those who scorn such aids to judgment. He candidly admits that his party is a sectional party,
but asserts that “the circumstance is due to the fact that in the South the Republican forces are in a state of duress, and their voice is nowhere heard, nor is their power anywhere felt.” He very kindly promises, however, that “when there shall be freedom of speech, of the press and of the ballot, the Republican party will exert every constitutional power for the renovation of the waste places of the South.” While the generosity of this proposition is highly appreciated, there seems to be some uncertainty as to when such a promise would fall due; for as to nine-tenths at least of the Southern States the condition precedent is already performed, and moreover, if the exertions of the Republican party in the direction indicated should prove to be such as they have heretofore made in the same direction there would be a total failure of consideration on their side of the bargain. Indeed, the South would pay much more than Mr. Boutwell demands not to have their waste places “renovated” by the Republican party.
Mr. John Jay, Clarum et venerabile nomen, has also favored the public, through the columns of the Review, with a discussion of “Southern Statesmen and their Policy,” which is characterized by the same general, sweeping charges, and the same unfamiliarity with the facts which marked Mr. Boutwell's essay. There would be no injustice in applying a different term to the relation between Mr. Jay and the facts which he discusses from that which has just been applied to it—unfamiliarity; but certainly that very mild phrase can not be objected to, as it has not yet been adjudged treasonable to doubt the perfect knowledge of a Northern essayist on the subject of Southern affairs, particularly if such essayist goes so wide of the mark as to class a distinguished Republican
cabinet officer from Iowa among the “prominent “Southrons” who had renounced State sovereignty. Both Mr. Boutwell and Mr. Jay stand before their readers in the unenviable attitude of bitter partisans who, under the guise of anxiety for the welfare of the Union, and especially of the negro race, seek to keep alive in the hearts of a new generation the distrusts, antagonisms and hates of a past era which sprang out of circumstances forever passed away and impossible of revival, and all for the purpose, as Mr. Boutwell boldly proclaims, of preserving and guarding “the industries of the North.” The “solid South,” says Mr. Boutwell, must be broken if from no “higher motive than that of self-interest,” and in order to accomplish this the Republican party must pursue “a determined, bold, aggressive” policy towards that section. Mr. Jay, too, joins in the cry, and demands of the new administration that they shall “disable if they can not utterly destroy the monster, State sovereignty.” Considering the notorious fact that this “monster” was killed nearly fifteen years ago, and buried by the hands of the Southern people themselves, beyond any possible hope of resurrection, and that not one single human being in all the South has, from that day to this, ever attempted or expressed the least desire to revive it, this invocation of destructive wrath does not seem to be imperatively demanded by any pressing exigency of the Union at this particular juncture.
The terms “State Sovereignty” and “State Rights” are being juggled with for the purpose of deception. That a State is sovereign against the authority of the United States, not even the original secessionists now claim—indeed, the term State sovereignty is an abuse of words and is rarely used in the South, even in a
qualified sense; but that the States have “rights,” guaranteed to them as political communities by the Constitution, not even such statesmen as Messrs. Boutwell and Jay would deny. To distort every allusion by Southerners to those recognized rights into a claim of sovereignty for the States, and, to that extent, of the right of secession; and this, too, after all their acts and pledges to the contrary, is a process which may appear just and fair and honorable to the more highly educated intellect and conscience of those who guard “the industries of the North;” but the rest of the world will take a different view of it. And so Mr. Jay's assertion that “the Southern leaders of opinion” still cling to the faith “that the right to enslave the negro is the most sacred of all liberties,” may be effectual in causing those leaders of opinion and their followers to be hated and despised at the North, but it does not reflect much credit upon Mr. Jay's skill in imparting accurate information to the public. As a rhetorical flourish, it might win applause if uttered by Cadet Whitaker; but as a statement of fact, affecting the character of the Southern people, it is not entitled to especial reverence. There is a grandiose style in vogue among a certain class of Republican statesmen and writers for the periodical press when the South is the subject of their lucubrations, and Messrs. Boutwell and Jay have very well illustrated it in their respective articles in The North American Review for December.
There is one passage, however, in Mr. Jay's article which, if it was not intended for humor, is startling in what it suggests. Speaking of the Southerners who spoke at the great mass meetings in New York last summer, he says:
“Mr. Carroll alluded to the 138 votes solid against the Republican party in a tone which seemed to intimate that they intended to claim these votes as valid, and that they really expected that the Republicans would recognize them as valid, etc.”
What does Mr. Jay mean by the last sentence? Is it possible that the Republicans had determined to rebel if Hancock had been declared elected?
They could not have counted him out, because they are in a minority in both houses of Congress, and if they could not do that, then Mr. Jay's intimation that they would not recognize the Southern vote as valid was either mere brutum fulmen or evidence of a treasonable conspiracy amongst them. That Mr. Jay could have perpetrated a little fun is quite possible; that he would have seriously committed to the press a post factum declaration or intimation involving a mere empty boast is hardly credible, but to admit for one moment the supposition of a treasonable purpose on the part of the sole depository of all the loyalty in the land is too awful to contemplate. Mr. Jay's theme is “Southern Statesmen and Their Policy,” but the latter part of his essay is devoted to “the miscreants” who resorted to calumny and finally to forgery during the canvass, and to John Kelley and the Pope of Rome. What connection exists between all or any of these persons and the policy of Southern statesmen does not appear.
Now, if Mr. Jay, instead of sounding an alarm about the wicked deeds and more wicked intentions of Southerners, will only be charitable enough to judge them, not by the fragmentary utterances attributed to a few men, and which do not always necessarily bear the construction placed upon them, but
by the general conduct and sentiment of the people and their representatives, he will find any fears which he may honestly entertain as to their disposition, to be without any solid foundation. He may rest assured that there is, in the first place, no policy whatever among the Southern people in regard to acquiring a controlling influence in the general government. They not only have no established policy on the subject, but they do not for a moment consider the possibility of such a contingency, and they are loth to believe that there is any sincerity whatever in the apprehensions expressed by Northern men in regard to it, because such apprehensions are admissions of a want of sufficient sagacity and courage on the part of the Northern people for the preservation of their own interests.
The solid South, which Mr. Jay says “repelled the last-cherished hope of a reviving loyalty, and presented for the judgment of the nation the views and aims of the Southern leaders,” has no connection with loyalty one way or another, unless loyalty means adherence to the Republican party, which Mr. Jay seems to think is the case, inasmuch as he subsequently speaks of the 138 votes “solid against the Republican party.” Although he charges the Southern speakers who went North with avoiding the discussion of this and kindred questions, it is evident that he was speaking unadvisedly, for those were the precise subjects upon which they chiefly dwelt, and he could have heard then, as he can hear now, a very general expression of regret among Southerners at the necessity which forced the South to be solid in favor of any particular party. There was no concert of action between the States. Each desired for itself the control
of its own local governments, and all having been robbed by the Republican party while under its control, there was the same feeling in all against the return of that party to power. The instinct of self-preservation made the solid South, and nothing involving the loyalty of the people had anything to do with it.
The only policy the South has fixed its heart upon is such an one as will increase its material wealth, and thus enable it to enlarge its facilities for commerce and popular education; and its highest aspirations in connection with national affairs is to receive just treatment from the North, and, while discharging faithfully its obligations, to live in peace and friendship with every section of the Union.
Inspired by such sentiments the South can imitate the conduct of the illustrious man whose honored name Mr. Jay bears, when, being maligned, insulted and treated with gross injustice by a large portion of his countrymen because of the treaty which he negotiated with Great Britain, he refused to yield to a just resentment, but practicing a sweet charity and preserving a sublime self-respect, he calmly and patiently awaited the inevitable return of their better judgment for his vindication. And the South cherishes the hope that, as in his case, the vindication will speedily come, and that those who now seek to perpetuate among the Northern people an inimical and unforgiving spirit towards their countrymen will find their labors fruitless and will realize with shame that they are not in harmony with the age in which and the people among whom they live.
A. M. WADDELL.
Wilmington, N. C., January, 1881.
The next ten years were uneventful to me, being passed in the quiet pursuit of my profession, except about a year (1882-3) during which I edited a newspaper in Charlotte, and except the time wasted in canvassing the State from one end to the other as elector at large for Cleveland and Thurman in 1888. My residence in Charlotte was a very pleasant episode in my life, for unfailing courtesy and kindness on the part of the people of that historic town was extended to me while living among them, and the memory of it abides with me. Charlotte has grown tremendously since then in population, wealth, and industrial development, and is destined to become one of the leading cities of the South and an industrial centre of great importance.
The year 1898 marked an epoch in the history of North Carolina and especially of the City of Wilmington. Long continued evils borne by the community with a patience that seems incredible, and which it is no part of my purpose to describe, culminated on the 10th day of November in a radical revolution accompanied by bloodshed and a thorough reorganization of social and political conditions. It is commonly referred to as the Wilmington riot, and legally and technically it may be properly so termed, but not in the usual sense of disorderly mob violence, for, as was said by an army officer who was present and witnessed it, it was the quietest and most orderly riot he had ever seen or heard of. A negro printing
office was destroyed by a procession of perfectly sober men, but no person was injured until a negro deliberately and without provocation shot a white man, while others, armed and defiant, occupied the streets, and the result was that about twenty of them were killed and the rest of them were scattered.
The history of that event, as was to have been expected, was grossly misrepresented by that element of the press and the people in the Northern States who were ever ready to condemn the white man and sympathize with the negro in the South; but the great majority of the people in all parts of the country justified the movement—if not by expressed approval at least by abstaining from any condemnation of it, and a very convincing evidence of the spirit in which it was regarded by the Federal authorities was given by their silence and inaction concerning it. That it set the pace for the whole South on the question of white supremacy, and assured beyond further controversy the adoption of the Constitutional amendment in regard to negro suffrage in the State admits of no doubt. It constituted an interesting chapter of the public history of the country, and therefore I will not enlarge upon it further than to say that it was the spontaneous and unanimous act of all the white people and was prompted solely by an overwhelming sense of its absolute necessity in behalf of civilization and decency.
On the evening of the day of this revolution the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, then in charge of the city of Wilmington, one by one resigned and in the
same order their successors were nominated and elected.
About a year and a half after the Wilmington revolution, that is in May, 1900, the first annual conference (and the last) of the “Southern Society for the Promotion of the Study of Race Conditions and Problems in the South” was held in Montgomery, Ala., and I was invited to open the discussion by a speech on the franchise as a part of the problem, the reason being that our recent experiences in North Carolina where the election on a constitutional amendment was pending, justified the selection of one from our State to discuss the subject. I accepted the invitation, and testified to facts and events that came under my own observation, and expressed the decided conviction that justice, experience and common sense alike demanded the repeal of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The conference lasted for three days with discussion twice a day by many distinguished speakers, the last of whom, Hon. W. Bourke Cockran, of New York, also expressed the view that the 15th Amendment should be repealed as the only remedy for existing evils.
During the sessions of that conference the most distinguished negro in America Booker Washington, was a spectator and an attentive listener to the discussions, and during a recess, while I was being entertained in the office of The Montgomery Advertiser, he entered the building, and was called into the office at the suggestion of the associate editor, Col. Mike
Woods, to be introduced to me, as I had never seen him.
Upon the exchange of salutations I expressed great surprise, saying that I had expected to meet a negro, but that he was a much fairer-colored man than Frederick Douglass, and in fact was about three-fifths white, which explained to me his history and corroborated the historical evidence that no pure blooded negro had ever attained greatness, although Toussaint L'Ouverture, of Hayti, came near it; whereupon he said that Toussaint was a mulatto according to his recollection—which of course, as I remarked, strengthened the evidence. He thereupon, with ready wit, and a laugh asked me if I was willing to recognize him as belonging to the white race, to which I replied that we were not discussing that question, but that I was glad to make his acquaintance, and to recognize the great work he was doing for the industrial and moral education of the negroes.
It has been my fortune to hold the office of Mayor of Wilmington during more than six of the nine years that have elapsed since the so-called race riot of November 10th, 1898, and it is comforting to reflect that while occupying that position the old town suffered no calamity and moved steadily and rapidly along the path of peace and progress. Its people have honored me in many ways through many years, as they did my forefathers in the olden time, and it would be strange indeed and most unnatural if I were not bound by stronger ties to them than to any other
people on earth. And this is the more freely said now that the cynic's definition of gratitude, viz: “a lively sense of favors expected” can not be applied to one who has passed the mile stone on life's journey on which is inscribed three score years and ten. As at the beginning of these Memories I invoked the blessing of Heaven on my native village of Hillsborough, so in concluding them I pray that it may perpetually rest upon this historic city of Wilmington, the home of my manhood and declining years, and the pride of a brave and noble people.INDEX.
|Accident, railroad||55||Calhoun, Hon. J. C.||220, 221|
|Abel, “Uncle”||10||Caldwell Institute||18|
|Alamance||13||Camden and Amboy||30|
|America before Columbus||121||Campbell—Pleasures of Hope,||27|
|Anderson (pilot)||85||Cannon, J. G.||135|
|Atkins, Hiram||189||Cannon, Geo. Q.||107|
|“Aunt”||10||Carpet Bagger Sheriff||180|
|Ashe, Capt. S. A.||98, 157||Castle Garden||31|
|Conkling, Hon. R.||220, 221|
|Badger, Hon. Geo. E.||19, 24||Celeste, Steamer||85|
|Bailey, Judge||28||Centennial (Phil.) meetings,||128|
|Banks, Gen. N. P.||116||Centennial oration||25|
|Bar, Hillsboro||19||Cockran, Bourke||227|
|Battle, Dr. K. P.||24||Committee on P. O.||135|
|Beck, Hon. J. B.||104, 112, 115||Congressional experiences||103|
|Benton, Hon. T. H.||8||Cox, S. S.||121, 133|
|Benton, Peter||12||Croton Reservoir||31|
|Ben Bolt||12||Crystal Palace||31|
|Bell and Everett||46, 51||Curtis, Rev. M. A.||15|
|Bingham, John||18||Davis, Hon. Geo.||59|
|Bingham School||17||Dawson, James||56|
|Black, Hon. J. S.||134||Davis, Jefferson||14, 52|
|Brown, John Young||114||DeRosset, L. H.||95|
|Boutwell, Hon. Geo. S.||231||Doe, Red||9|
|Blaine, J. G.||104, 111, 129, 209||Doe, White||11|
|Boudinot||123||Douglas, Hon. S. A.||52, 171|
|Boundary House||137||Duel (Flanner and Willkings)||39|
|Bragg, Governor||46||Duel (Moore and Smith)||137|
|Bull, Ole||94, 95||Edmunds, Hon. Geo. F.,||220, 221|
|Burke, Governor||9||Electoral Commission||133|
|Burr, Col. J. G.||47||Everett, Edward||48, 122|
|Burr, Alba||48||English guitar||9|
|Butler, B. F.||112||Fabyan House, the||201|
|Buchanan, President||40, 50||Fanning, David||9|
|Burwell School||17||Farnsworth, General||113|
|Fetter, Professor||27||Letters Rebel Brigadier||157|
|Fillmore and Donelson||39||Liggins, Charles||27|
|Fort Fisher||57||Lord Lytton||96|
|Foster (spiritualist)||99||Lind, Jenny||31|
|Five Points, New York||32||Lowe, Captain|
|Fool's Errand, the||164||Mangum, Hon. W. P.||19, 24|
|Fifer of Lundy's Lane||190||Manly, Governor||46|
|Maynard of Tennessee||104, 105|
|Ganey||62||McMahon, J. A.||135|
|Garfield, President||230||McRee, Dr. J. F.||102|
|German Volunteers||45||Meares, Hon. O. P.||51|
|Gilliam, Hon. R. B.||19||Mexican War||14|
|Globe, Boston||231||Miller, Henry W.||19, 49|
|Graham, Hon. W. A.||19||Military court||89|
|Graves, R. H.||18||Mitchell, Professor||27|
|Moore, Judge Alfred||7|
|Hale, E. J.||46||Money, Senator||135|
|Hancock, General||157, 184||Moore, Col. Maurice||137|
|Hawley, General||58||Morrisey, John||106|
|Haywood, Hon. W. H.||19||Mules—none in New England||174|
|Henry, Hon. G. A.||46|
|Hewett, Hon. A. S.||120||McClellan, General||195|
|Hill, Hon. B. H.||129||Mt. Washington, ascent of||203|
|Hillsborough||7, 18, 19|
|Hobbs Bill||14||Nash, Judge||19, 28|
|Hubbard, Professor||26||Nash, General||10|
|Hoar, Geo. F.||117||Negro Problem Conference,||247|
|Negro poll holders||101|
|Idolatry of dollars||125||New York, first visit to||30|
|Invisible Prince (play)||47||Niblo's Garden||31|
|Japanese Embassy||52||New England, social life,etc.||167|
|Jay, Hon. John||231|
|Johnson, President||99||Ole Bull||94|
|Judges, old-time||32, 33|
|Kew Gardens||15||Phillips, Professor||26, 27|
|Kelley, Hon. W. D.||98, 104, 115, 116||Phillips, S. F.||28|
|Pilot, release of||89|
|Kirkland, General||30||Post-office Committee||135|
|Kingsley, Rev. Charles||122||Profile House||196|
|Ku Klux Committee||109|
|Quash and the duel||137|
|Lake Champlain, sunset on,||172||Randall, Hon. S. J.||130|
|Rebel Brigadier||157||Tilton, Theodore||98|
|Reade, Hon. E. G.||19||Tucker, Hon. J. R.||120|
|Revolution, Wilmington||245||University of N. C.||24, 25|
|Rice plantations||45||“Universal” Bill||22|
|Rice of Ohio||133|
|Ruffin, Chief Justice||19||Venable, Hon. A. W.||19|
|Voorhees, D. W.||112, 118|
|Saunders, Wm. L.||109|
|Sheriff of Orange||20||Waddell, Hugh||19, 77|
|Ship on Wheels||13||Waddell, Maj. J. F.||14|
|Shipwrecks||77||Waddell, Capt. J. I.||96|
|St. Nicholas Hotel||31||Waddell, Capt. H.||77|
|St. James's Church||57||Waddell, Mr. John||74|
|Sound, Wrightsville||43||Ward, Artemus||94|
|Smith, General||137||Washington, Booker||247|
|Sprunt, James||74||Wheat, Prof. J. T.||27|
|Stephens, A. H.||127||Wilmington Light Infantry,||45, 50|
|Stuart, J. E. B.||51|
|Swain, President||25||Wise, Hon. Geo. D.||15|
|Swift, General||137||Wright, Wm. A.||15|
|Stevens, Thaddeus||99||Woodford, S. L.||187|
|Tilden, Samuel J.||133||Yellow fever||55, 85|
|Thalian Association||47||Young, P. M. B.||128|