By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Conqueror
Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Conqueror" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.






     "Je considère Napoleon, Fox, et Hamilton comme les trois plus
     grands hommes de notre époque, et si je devais me prononcer entre
     les trois, je donnerais sans hesiter la première place à Hamilton.
     Il avait deviné l'Europe."

     TALLEYRAND, _Études sur la République_



Set up, electrotyped, and published March, 1902. Reprinted May, July
twice, August, September, October, December, 1902; February, 1903;
February, 1904.

Special edition June, 1904.

Norwood Press J.S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass.,












It was my original intention to write a biography of Alexander Hamilton
in a more flexible manner than is customary with that method of
reintroducing the dead to the living, but without impinging upon the
territory of fiction. But after a visit to the British and Danish West
Indies in search of the truth regarding his birth and ancestry, and
after a wider acquaintance with the generally romantic character of his
life, to say nothing of the personality of this most endearing and
extraordinary of all our public men, the instinct of the novelist proved
too strong; I no sooner had pen in hand than I found myself working in
the familiar medium, although preserving the historical sequence. But,
after all, what is a character novel but a dramatized biography? We
strive to make our creations as real to the world as they are to us.
Why, then, not throw the graces of fiction over the sharp hard facts
that historians have laboriously gathered? At all events, this
infinitely various story of Hamilton appealed too strongly to my
imagination to be frowned aside, so here, for better or worse, is the
result. Nevertheless, and although the method may cause the book to read
like fiction, I am conscientious in asserting that almost every
important incident here related of his American career is founded on
documentary or published facts or upon family tradition; the few that
are not have their roots among the probabilities, and suggested
themselves. As for the West Indian part, although I was obliged to work
upon the bare skeleton I unearthed in the old Common Records and Church
Registers, still the fact remains that I did find the skeleton, which I
have emphasized as far as is artistically possible. No date is given nor
deed referred to that cannot be found by other visitors to the Islands.
Moreover, I made a careful study of these Islands as they were in the
time of Hamilton and his maternal ancestors, that I might be enabled to
exercise one of the leading principles of the novelist, which is to
create character not only out of certain well-known facts of heredity,
but out of understood conditions. In this case I had, in addition, an
extensive knowledge of Hamilton's character to work backward from, as
well as his estimate of the friends of his youth and of his mother.
Therefore I feel confident that I have held my romancing propensity well
within the horizon of the probabilities; at all events, I have depicted
nothing which in any way interferes with the veracity of history.
However, having unburdened my imagination, I shall, in the course of a
year or two, write the biography I first had in mind. No writer, indeed,
could assume a more delightful task than to chronicle, in any form,
Hamilton's stupendous services to this country and his infinite variety.



In the eighteenth century Nevis was known as The Mother of the English
Leeward Caribbees. A Captain-General ruled the group in the name of the
King, but if he died suddenly, his itinerant duties devolved upon the
Governor of Nevis until the crown heard of its loss and made choice of
another to fill that high and valued office. She had a Council and a
House of Assembly, modelled in miniature upon the Houses of Peers and
Commons; and was further distinguished as possessing the only court in
the English Antilles where pirates could be tried. The Council was made
up of ten members appointed by the Captain-General, but commanded by
"its own particular and private Governor." The freeholders of the Island
chose twenty-four of their number to represent them in the House of
Assembly; and the few chronicles of that day agree in asserting that
Nevis during her hundred proud years of supremacy was governed
brilliantly and well. But the careful administration of good laws
contributed in part only to the celebrity of an Island which to-day,
still British as she is, serves but as a pedestal for the greatest of
American statesmen. In these old days she was a queen as well as a
mother. Her planters were men of immense wealth and lived the life of
grandees. Their cane-fields covered the mountain on all its sides and
subsidiary peaks, rising to the very fringe of the cold forest on the
cone of a volcano long since extinct. The "Great Houses," built
invariably upon an eminence that commanded a view of the neighbouring
islands.--St. Christopher, Antigua, Montserrat,--were built of blocks
of stone so square and solid and with a masonry so perfect that one
views their ruins in amazement to-day. They withstood hurricanes,
earthquakes, floods, and tidal waves. They were impregnable fortresses
against rioting negroes and spasmodically aggressive Frenchmen. They
even survived the abolition of slavery, and the old gay life went on for
many years. English people, bored or in search of health, came for the
brilliant winter, delighted with the hospitality of the planters, and to
renew their vitality in the famous climate and sulphur baths, which, of
all her possessions, Time has spared to Nevis. And then, having
weathered all the ills to which even a West Indian Island can be
subject, she succumbed--to the price of sugar. Her great families
drifted away one by one. Her estates were given over to the agent for a
time, finally to the mongoose. The magnificent stone mansions, left
without even a caretaker, yielded helplessly to the diseases of age, and
the first hurricane entering unbarred windows carried their roofs to the
sea. In Charles Town, the capital since the submergence of James Town in
1680, are the remains of large town houses and fine old stone walls,
which one can hardly see from the roadstead, so thick are the royal
palms and the cocoanut trees among the ruins, wriggling their slender
bodies through every crevice and flaunting their glittering luxuriance
above every broken wall.

But in the days when the maternal grandparents of Alexander Hamilton
looked down a trifle upon those who dwelt on other isles, Nevis recked
of future insignificance as little as a beauty dreams of age. In the
previous century England, after the mortification of the Royalists by
Cromwell, had sent to Nevis Hamiltons, Herberts, Russells, and many
another refugee from her historic houses. With what money they took
with them they founded the great estates of the eighteenth century, and
their sons sent their own children to Europe to become accomplished men
and women. Government House was a miniature court, as gay and splendid
as its offices were busy with the commerce of the world. The Governor
and his lady drove about the Island in a carriage of state, with
outriders and postilions in livery. When the Captain-General came he
outshone his proud second by the gorgeousness of his uniform only, and
both dignitaries were little more imposing than the planters themselves.
It is true that the men, despite their fine clothes and powdered
perukes, preferred a horse's back to the motion of a lumbering coach,
but during the winter season their wives and daughters, in the shining
stuffs, the pointed bodices, the elaborate head-dress of Europe, visited
Government House and their neighbours with all the formality of London
or Bath. After the first of March the planters wore white linen; the
turbaned black women were busy among the stones of the rivers with
voluminous wardrobes of cambric and lawn.

Several estates belonged to certain offshoots of the ducal house of
Hamilton, and in the second decade of the eighteenth century Walter
Hamilton was Captain-General of the English Leeward Caribbees and
"Ordinary of the Same." After him came Archibald Hamilton, who was,
perhaps, of all the Hamiltons the most royal in his hospitality.
Moreover, he was a person of energy and ambition, for it is on record
that he paid a visit to Boston, fleeing from the great drought which
visited Nevis in 1737. Then there were William Leslie Hamilton, who
practised at the bar in London for several years, but returned to hold
official position on Nevis, and his brother Andrew, both sons of Dr.
William Hamilton, who spent the greater part of his life on St.
Christopher. There were also Hugh Hamilton, Charles, Gustavus, and
William Vaughn Hamilton, all planters, most of them Members of Council
or of the Assembly.

And even in those remote and isolated days, Hamiltons and Washingtons
were associated. The most popular name in our annals appears frequently
in the Common Records of Nevis, and there is no doubt that when our
first President's American ancestor fled before Cromwell to Virginia, a
brother took ship for the English Caribbees.

From a distance Nevis looks like a solitary peak in mid-ocean, her base
sweeping out on either side. But behind the great central cone--rising
three thousand two hundred feet--are five or six lesser peaks, between
which are dense tropical gorges and mountain streams. In the old days,
where the slopes were not vivid with the light green of the cane-field,
there were the cool and sombre groves of the cocoanut tree, mango,
orange, and guava.

Even when Nevis is wholly visible there is always a white cloud above
her head. As night falls it becomes evident that this soft aggravation
of her beauty is but a night robe hung on high. It is at about seven in
the evening that she begins to draw down her garment of mist, but she is
long in perfecting that nocturnal toilette. Lonely and neglected, she
still is a beauty, exacting and fastidious. The cloud is tortured into
many shapes before it meets her taste. She snatches it off, redisposes
it, dons and takes it off again, wraps it about her with yet more
enchanting folds, until by nine o'clock it sweeps the sea; and Nevis,
the proudest island of the Caribbees, has secluded herself from those
cynical old neighbours who no longer bend the knee.




Nevis gave of her bounty to none more generously than to John and Mary
Fawcett. In 1685 the revocation of the Edict of Nantes had sent the
Huguenots swarming to America and the West Indies. Faucette was but a
boy when the Tropics gave him shelter, and learning was hard to get;
except in the matter of carving Caribs. But he acquired the science of
medicine somehow, and settled on Nevis, remodelled his name, and became
a British subject. Brilliant and able, he was not long accumulating a
fortune; there were swamps near Charles Town that bred fever, and the
planters lived as high and suffered as acutely as the English squires of
the same period. His wife brought him money, and in 1714 they received a
joint legacy from Captain Frank Keynall; whether a relative of hers or a
patient of his, the Records do not tell.

Mary Fawcett was some twenty years younger than her husband, a
high-spirited creature, with much intelligence, and a will which in
later years John Fawcett found himself unable to control. But before
that period, when to the disparity in time were added the irritabilities
of age in the man and the imperiousness of maturity in the woman, they
were happy in their children, in their rising fortunes, and, for a
while, in one another.

For twenty-eight years they lived the life of the Island. They built a
Great House on their estate at Gingerland, a slope of the Island which
faces Antigua, and they had their mansion in town for use when the
Captain-General was abiding on Nevis. While Mary Fawcett was bringing up
and marrying her children, managing the household affairs of a large
estate, and receiving and returning the visits of the other grandees of
the Island, to say nothing of playing her important part in all social
functions, life went well enough. Her children, far away from the swamps
of Charles Town, throve in the trade winds which temper the sun of Nevis
and make it an isle of delight. When they were not studying with their
governesses, there were groves and gorges to play in, ponies to ride,
and monkeys and land crabs to hunt. Later came the gay life of the
Capital, the routs at Government House, frequent even when the Chief was
elsewhere, the balls at neighbouring estates, the picnics in the cool
high forests, or where more tropical trees and tree ferns grew thick,
the constant meeting with distinguished strangers, and the visits to
other islands.

The young Fawcetts married early. One went with her husband, Peter
Lytton, to the island of St. Croix. The Danish Government, upon
obtaining possession of this fertile island, in 1733, immediately issued
an invitation to the planters of the Leeward Caribbees to immigrate,
tempting many who were dissatisfied with the British Government or
wished for larger estates than they could acquire on their own populous
islands. Members of the Lytton, Mitchell, and Stevens families of St.
Christopher were among the first to respond to the liberal offer of the
Danish Government. The two sons of James Lytton, Peter and James, grew
up on St. Croix, Danish by law, British in habit and speech; and both
married women of Nevis. Peter was the first to wed, and his marriage to
young Mary Fawcett was the last to be celebrated in the Great House at

When Peter Lytton and his wife sailed away, as other sons and other
daughters had sailed before, to return to Nevis rarely,--for those were
the days of travel unveneered,--John and Mary Fawcett were left alone:
their youngest daughter, she who afterward became the wife of Thomas
Mitchell of St. Croix, was at school in England.

By this time Dr. Fawcett had given up his practice and was living on his
income. He took great interest in his cane-fields and mills, and in the
culture of limes and pine-apples; but in spite of his outdoor life his
temper soured and he became irritable and exacting. Gout settled in him
as a permanent reminder of the high fortunes of his middle years, and
when the Gallic excitability of his temperament, aggravated by a
half-century of hot weather, was stung to fiercer expression by the
twinges of his disease, he was an abominable companion for a woman
twenty years closer to youth.

In the solitudes of the large house Mary Fawcett found life unendurable.
Still handsome, naturally gay of temper, and a brilliant figure in
society, she frequently deserted her elderly husband for weeks at a
time. The day came when he peremptorily forbade her to leave the place
without him. For a time she submitted, for although a woman of uncommon
independence of spirit, it was not until 1740 that she broke free of
traditions and astonished the island of Nevis. She shut herself up with
her books and needlework, attended to her house and domestic negroes
with the precision of long habit, saw her friends when she could, and
endured the exactions of her husband with only an occasional but mighty

It was in these unhappy conditions that Rachael Fawcett was born.


The last affliction the Fawcetts expected was another child. This little
girl came an unwelcome guest to a mother who hated the father, and to
Dr. Fawcett, not only because he had outgrown all liking for crying
babies, but because, as in his excited disturbance he admitted to his
wife, his fortune was reduced by speculations in London, and he had no
desire to turn to in his old age and support another child. Then Mary
Fawcett made up her definite mind: she announced her intention to leave
her husband while it was yet possible to save her property for herself
and the child to whom she soon became passionately attached. Dr. Fawcett
laughed and shut himself up in a wing where the sounds of baby distress
could not reach him; and it is doubtful if his glance ever lingered on
the lovely face of his youngest born. Thus came into the world under the
most painful conditions one of the unhappiest women that has lived. It
was her splendid destiny to become the mother of the greatest American
of his centuries, but this she died too soon to know, and she
accomplished her part with an immediate bitterness of lot which was
remorselessly ordained, no doubt, by the great Law of Compensation.

There were no divorce laws on the Islands in the eighteenth century, not
even an act for separate maintenance; but Mary Fawcett was a woman of
resource. It took her four years to accomplish her purpose, but she got
rid of Dr. Fawcett by making him more than anxious to be rid of her. The
Captain-General, William Matthew, was her staunch friend and admirer,
and espoused her cause to the extent of issuing a writ of supplicavit
for a separate maintenance. Dr. Fawcett gradually yielded to pressure,
separated her property from his, that it might pass under her personal
and absolute control, and settled on her the sum of fifty-three pounds,
four shillings annually, as a full satisfaction for all her dower or
third part of his estate.

Mistress Fawcett was no longer a woman of consequence, for even her
personal income was curtailed by the great drought of 1737, and Nevis,
complaisant to the gallantry of the age, was scandalized at the novelty
of a public separation. But she was free, and she was the woman to feel
that freedom to her finger tips; she could live a life with no will in
it but her own, and she could bring up her little girl in an atmosphere
of peace and affection. She moved to an estate she owned on St.
Christopher and never saw John Fawcett again. He died a few years later,
leaving his diminished property to his children. Rachael's share was the
house in Charles Town.

The spot on which Rachael spent her childhood and brief youth was one of
the most picturesque on the mountain range of St. Christopher. Facing
the sea, the house stood on a lofty eminence, in the very shadow of
Mount Misery. Immediately behind the house were the high peaks of the
range, hardly less in pride than the cone of the great volcano. The
house was built on a ledge, but one could step from the terrace above
into an abrupt ravine, wrenched into its tortuous shape by earthquake
and flood, but dark for centuries with the immovable shades of a virgin
tropical forest. The Great House, with its spacious open galleries and
verandahs, was surrounded with stone terraces, overflowing with the
intense red and orange of the hybiscus and croton bush, the golden
browns and softer yellows of less ambitious plants, the sensuous tints
of the orchid, the high and glittering beauties of the palm and
cocoanut. The slopes to the coast were covered with cane-fields, their
bright young greens sharp against the dark blue of the sea. The ledge on
which the house was built terminated suddenly in front, but extended on
the left along a line of cliff above a chasm, until it sloped to the
road. On this flat eminence was an avenue of royal palms, which, with
the dense wood on the hill above it, was to mariners one of the most
familiar landmarks of the Island of "St. Kitts." From her verandah Mary
Fawcett could see, far down to the right, a large village of negro huts,
only the thatched African roofs visible among the long leaves of the
cocoanut palms with which the blacks invariably surround their
dwellings. Beyond was Brimstone Hill with its impregnable fortress. And
on the left, far out at sea, her purple heights and palm-fringed shores
deepening the exquisite blue of the Caribbean by day, a white ever
changing spirit in the twilight, and no more vestige of her under the
stars than had she sunk whence she came--Nevis. Mary Fawcett never set
foot on her again, but she learned to sit and study her with a whimsical
affection which was one of the few liberties she allowed her
imagination. But if the unhappiest years of her life had been spent
there, so had her fairest. She had loved her brilliant husband in her
youth, and all the social triumphs of a handsome and fortunate young
woman had been hers. In the deep calm which now intervened between the
two mental hurricanes of her life, she sometimes wondered if she had
exaggerated her past afflictions; and before she died she knew how
insignificant the tragedy of her own life had been.

Although Rachael was born when her parents were past their prime, the
vitality that was in her was concentrated and strong. It was not enough
to give her a long life, but while it lasted she was a magnificent
creature, and the end was abrupt; there was no slow decay. During her
childhood she lived in the open air, for except in the cold nights of a
brief winter only the jalousies were closed; and on that high shelf even
the late summer and early autumn were not insufferable. Exhausted as the
trade winds become, they give what little strength is in them to the
heights of their favourite isles, and during the rest of the year they
are so constant, even when storms rage in the North Atlantic, that Nevis
and St. Christopher never feel the full force of the sun, and the winter
nights are cold.

Rachael was four years old when her parents separated, and grew to
womanhood remembering nothing of her father and seeing little of her
kin, scattered far and wide. Her one unmarried sister, upon her return
from England, went almost immediately to visit Mrs. Lytton, and married
Thomas Mitchell, one of the wealthiest planters of St. Croix. Mary
Fawcett's children had not approved her course, for they remembered
their father as the most indulgent and charming of men, whose frequent
tempers were quickly forgotten; and year by year she became more wholly
devoted to the girl who clung to her with a passionate and uncritical

Clever and accomplished herself, and quick with ambition for her best
beloved child, she employed the most cultivated tutors on the Island to
instruct her in English, Latin, and French. Before Rachael was ten years
old, Mistress Fawcett had the satisfaction to discover that the little
girl possessed a distinguished mind, and took to hard study, and to _les
graces_, as naturally as she rode a pony over the hills or shot the reef
in her boat.

For several years the women of St. Christopher held aloof, but many of
the planters who had been guests at the Great House in Gingerland called
on Mistress Fawcett at once, and proffered advice and service. Of these
William Hamilton and Archibald Hamn became her staunch and intimate
friends. Mr. Hamn's estate adjoined hers, and his overlooker relieved
her of much care. Dr. James Hamilton, who had died in the year preceding
her formal separation, had been a close friend of her husband and
herself, and his brother hastened with assurance of his wish to serve
her. He was one of the eminent men of the Island, a planter and a member
of Council; also, a "doctor of physic." He carried Rachael safely
through her childhood complaints and the darkest of her days; and if his
was the hand which opened the gates between herself and history, who
shall say in the light of the glorified result that its master should
not sleep in peace?

In time his wife called, and his children and stepchildren brought a new
experience into the life of Rachael. She had been permitted to gambol
occasionally with the "pic'nees" of her mother's maids, but since her
fourth year had not spoken to a white child until little Catherine
Hamilton came to visit her one morning and brought Christiana Huggins of
Nevis. Mistress Huggins had known Mary Fawcett too well to call with
Mistress Hamilton, but sent Christiana as a peace offering. Mary's first
disposition was to pack the child off while Mistress Hamilton was
offering her embarrassed explanations; but Rachael clung to her new
treasure with such shrieks of protest that her mother, disconcerted by
this vigour of opposition to her will, permitted the intruder to remain.

The wives of other planters followed Mistress Hamilton, for in that soft
voluptuous climate, where the rush and fret of great cities are but a
witch's tale, disapproval dies early. They would have called long since
had they not been a trifle in awe of Nevis, more, perhaps, of Mistress
Fawcett's sharp tongue, then indolent. But when Mistress Hamilton
suddenly reminded them that they were Christians, and that Dr. Fawcett
was dead, they put on their London gowns, ordered out their coaches, and
called. Mary Fawcett received them with a courteous indifference. Her
resentment had died long since, and they seemed to her, with their
coaches and brocades and powdered locks, but the ghosts of the Nevis of
her youth. Her child, her estate, and her few tried friends absorbed
her. For the sake of her daughter's future, she ordered out her ancient
coach and made the round of the Island once a year. The ladies of St.
Kitts were as moderately punctilious.

And so the life of Rachael Fawcett for sixteen years passed uneventfully
enough. Her spirits were often very high, for she inherited the Gallic
buoyancy of her father as well as the brilliant qualities of his mind.
In the serious depths of her nature were strong passions and a tendency
to melancholy, the result no doubt of the unhappy conditions of her
birth. But her mother managed so to occupy her eager ambitious mind with
hard study that the girl had little acquaintance with herself. Her
English studies were almost as varied as a boy's, and in addition to her
accomplishments in the ancient and modern languages, she painted, and
sang, played the harp and guitar. Mary Fawcett, for reasons of her own,
never let her forget that she was the most educated girl on the Islands.

"I never was one to lie on a sofa all day and fan myself, while my
children sat on the floor with their blacks, and munched sugar-cane, or
bread and sling," she would remark superfluously. "All my daughters are
a credit to their husbands; but I mean that you shall be the most
brilliant woman in the Antilles."

The immediate consequences of Rachael's superior education were two: her
girl friends ceased to interest her, and ambitions developed in her
strong imaginative brain. In those days women so rarely distinguished
themselves individually that it is doubtful if Rachael had ever heard of
the phenomenon, and the sum of her worldly aspirations was a wealthy and
intellectual husband who would take her to live and to shine at foreign
courts. Her nature was too sweet and her mind too serious for egoism or
the pettier vanities, but she hardly could help being conscious of the
energy of her brain; and if she had passed through childhood in
ignorance of her beauty, she barely had entered her teens when her happy
indifference was dispelled; for the young planters besieged her gates.

Girls mature very early in the tropics, and at fourteen Rachael Fawcett
was the unresponsive toast from Basseterre to Sandy Point. Her height
was considerable, and she had the round supple figure of a girl who has
lived the out-door life in moderation; full of strength and grace, and
no exaggeration of muscle. She had a fine mane of reddish fair hair, a
pair of sparkling eager gray eyes which could go black with passion or
even excited interest, a long nose so sensitively cut that she could
express any mood she chose with her nostrils, which expanded quite
alarmingly when she flew into a temper, and a full well-cut mouth. Her
skin had the whiteness and transparency peculiar to the women of St.
Kitts and Nevis; her head and brow were nobly modelled, and the former
she carried high to the day of her death. It was set so far back on her
shoulders and on a line so straight that it would look haughty in her
coffin. What wonder that the young planters besieged her gates, that her
aspirations soared high, that Mary Fawcett dreamed of a great destiny
for this worshipped child of her old age? As for the young planters,
they never got beyond the gates, for a dragon stood there. Mistress
Fawcett had no mind to run the risk of early entanglements. When Rachael
was old enough she would be provided with a distinguished husband from
afar, selected by the experienced judgement of a woman of the world.

But Mary Fawcett, still hot-headed and impulsive in her second
half-century, was more prone to err in crises than her daughter. In
spite of the deeper passions of her nature, Rachael, except when under
the lash of strong excitement, had a certain clearness of insight and
deliberation of judgement which her mother lacked to her last day.


Rachael had just eaten the last of her sixteenth birthday sweets when,
at a ball at Government House, she met John Michael Levine. It was her
début; she was the fairest creature in the room, and, in the idiom of
Dr. Hamilton, the men besieged her as were she Brimstone Hill in
possession of the French. The Governor and the Captain General had
asked her to dance, and even the women smiled indulgently, disarmed by
so much innocent loveliness.

Levine, albeit a Dane, and as colourless as most of his countrymen, was
her determined suitor before the night was half over. It may be that he
was merely dazzled by the regal position to which the young men had
elevated her, and that his cold blood quickened at the thought of
possessing what all men desired, but he was as immediate and persistent
in his suit as any excitable creole in the room. But Rachael gave him
scant attention that night. She may have been intellectual, but she was
also a girl, and it was her first ball. She was dazzled and happy,
delighted with her conquests, oblivious to the depths of her nature.

The next day Levine, strong in the possession of a letter from Mr. Peter
Lytton,--for a fortnight forgotten,--presented himself at Mistress
Fawcett's door, and was admitted. The first call was brief and
perfunctory, but he came the next day and the next. Rachael, surprised,
but little interested, and longing for her next ball, strummed the harp
at her mother's command and received his compliments with indifference.
A week after his first call Mary Fawcett drove into town and spent an
hour with the Governor. He told her that Levine had brought him a
personal letter from the Governor of St. Croix, and that he was wealthy
and well born. He was also, in his Excellency's opinion, a distinguished
match even for the most beautiful and accomplished girl on the Island.
Peter Lytton had mentioned in his letter that Levine purposed buying an
estate on St. Croix and settling down to the life of a planter. On the
following day Levine told her that already he was half a West Indian, so
fascinated was he with the life and the climate, but that if she would
favour his suit he would take Rachael to Copenhagen as often as she
wished for the life of the world.

Mary Fawcett made up her mind that he should marry Rachael, and it
seemed to her that no mother had ever come to a wiser decision. Her
health was failing, and it was her passionate wish not only to leave her
child encircled by the protection of a devoted husband, but to realize
the high ambitions she had cherished from the hour she foresaw that
Rachael was to be an exceptional woman.

Levine had not seen Rachael on the morning when he asked for her hand,
and he called two days later to press his suit and receive his answer.
Mistress Fawcett told him that she had made up her own mind and would
perform that office for Rachael at once, but thought it best that he
should absent himself until the work was complete. Levine, promised an
answer on the morrow, took himself off, and Mary Fawcett sent for her

Rachael entered the library with a piece of needlework in her hand. Her
mind was not on her books these days, for she had gone to another ball;
but her hands had been too well brought up to idle, however her brain
might dream. Mary Fawcett by this time wore a large cap with a frill,
and her face, always determined and self-willed, was growing austere
with years and much pain: she suffered frightfully at times with
rheumatism, and her apprehension of the moment when it should attack her
heart reconciled her to the prospect of brief partings from her
daughter. Her eyes still burned with the fires of an indiminishable
courage however; she read the yellow pages of her many books as rapidly
as in her youth, and if there was a speck of dust on her mahogany
floors, polished with orange juice, she saw it. Her negroes adored her
but trembled when she raised her voice, and Rachael never had disobeyed
her. She expected some dissatisfaction, possibly a temper, but no

Rachael smiled confidently and sat down. She wore one of the thin white
linens, which, like the other women of the Islands, she put aside for
heavier stuffs on state occasions only, and her hair had tumbled from
its high comb and fallen upon her shoulders. Mary Fawcett sighed as she
looked at her. She was too young to marry, and had it not been for the
haunting terror of leaving her alone in the world, the Dane, well
circumstanced as he was, would have been repulsed with contumely.

"Rachael," said her mother, gently, "put down your tapestry. I have
something to say to you, something of great import."

Rachael dropped her work and met her mother's eyes. They were hard with
will and definite purpose. In an instant she divined what was coming,
and stood up. Her face could not turn any whiter, but her eyes were
black at once, and her nostrils spread.

"It cannot be possible that you wish me to marry that man--Levine," she
stammered. "I do not know how I can think of such a thing--but I do--it
seems to me I see it in your eyes."

"Yes," said her mother, with some uneasiness. "I do; and my reasons are

"I won't listen to them!" shrieked Rachael. "I won't marry him! His
whiteness makes me sick! I know he is not a good man! I feel it! I never
could be happy with him! I never could love him!"

Mary Fawcett looked at her aghast, and, for a moment, without answering;
she saw her own will asserting itself, heard it on those piercing notes,
and she knew that it sprang from stronger and more tragic foundations
than had ever existed in her own nature; but believing herself to be
right, she determined to prevail.

"What do you know about men, my darling?" she said soothingly. "You have
been dreaming romantic dreams, and young Levine does not resemble the
hero. That is all. Women readjust themselves marvellously quick. When
you are married to him, and he is your tender and devoted husband, you
will forget your prince--who, no doubt, is dark and quite splendid. But
we never meet our princes, my dear, and romantic love is only one of the
things we live for--and for that we live but a little while. Levine is
all that I could wish for you. He is wealthy, aristocratic, and
chivalrously devoted."

Her long speech had given her daughter time to cool, but Rachael
remained standing, and stared defiantly into the eyes which had relaxed
somewhat with anxious surprise.

"I _feel_ that he is not a good man," she repeated sullenly, "and I hate
him. I should die if he touched me. I have not danced with him. His
hands are so white and soft, and his eyes never change, and his mouth
reminds me of a shark's."

"Levine is a remarkably handsome man," exclaimed Mistress Fawcett,
indignantly. "You have trained your imagination to some purpose, it
seems. Forget your poets when he comes to-morrow, and look at him
impartially. And cannot he give you all that you so much desire, my
ambitious little daughter? Do you no longer want to go to Europe? to
court? to be _grande dame_ and converse with princes?"

"Oh, yes," said Rachael. "I want that as much as ever; but I want to
love the man. I want to be happy."

"Well, _do_ love him," exclaimed her mother with energy. "Your father
was twenty years older than myself, and a Frenchman, but I made up my
mind to love him, and I did--for a good many years."

"You had to leave him in the end. Do you wish me to do the same?"

"You will do nothing of the kind. There never was but one John Fawcett."

"I don't love this Levine, and I never shall love him. I don't believe
at all that that kind of feeling can be created by the brain, that it
responds to nothing but the will. I shall not love that way. I may be
ignorant, but I know that."

"You have read too much Shakespeare! Doubtless you imagine yourself one
of his heroines--Juliet? Rosalind?"

"I have never imagined myself anybody but Rachael Fawcett. I _cannot_
imagine myself Rachael Levine. But I know something of myself--I have
read and thought enough for that. I could love someone--but not this
bleached repulsive Dane. Why will you not let me wait? It is my right.
No, you need not curl your lip--I am _not_ a little girl. I may be
sixteen. I may be without experience in the world, but you have been
almost my only companion, and until just now I have talked with
middle-aged men only, and much with them. I had no real childhood. You
have educated my brain far beyond my years. To-day I feel twenty, and it
seems to me that I see far down into myself--much deeper than you do. I
tell you that if I marry this man, I shall be the most hopeless wretch
on earth."

Mary Fawcett was puzzled and distressed, but she did not waver for a
moment. The cleverest of girls could not know what was best for herself,
and the mother who permitted her daughter to take her life into her own
hands was a poor creature indeed.

"Listen, my dear child," she said tenderly, "you have always trusted in
me, believed me. I _know_ that this is a wise and promising marriage for
you. And--" she hesitated, but it was time to play her trump. "You know
that my health is not good, but you do not know how bad it is. Dr.
Hamilton says that the rheumatism may fly to my heart at any moment, and
I _must_ see you married--"

She had ejaculated the last words; Rachael had shrieked, and flung
herself upon her, her excitement at this sudden and cruel revelation
bursting out in screams and sobs and a torrent of tears. Her mother had
seen her excited and in brief ungovernable tempers, but she never had
suspected that she was capable of such passion as this; and, much
disturbed, she led her off to bed, and sent for her advisers, Archibald
Hamn and Dr. Hamilton.


Mr. Hamn responded at once to the widow's call, his adjacence giving him
the advantage of Dr. Hamilton, of whom he was a trifle jealous. He was
an old bachelor and had proposed to Mistress Fawcett--a captivating
woman till her last hour--twice a year since her husband's death. But
matrimony had been a bitter medicine for Mary after her imagination had
ceased to sweeten it, and her invariable answer to her several suitors
was the disquieting assertion that if ever she was so rash as to take
another husband, she certainly should kill him. Archibald was not the
man to conquer her prejudices, although she loved the sterling in him
and attached him to her by every hook of friendship. He was a dark
nervous little man, spare as most West Indians, used a deal of snuff,
and had a habit of pushing back his wig with a jerking forearm when in
heated controversy with Dr. Hamilton, or expounding matrimony to the

Dr. Hamilton, for whose arrival Mr. Hamn was kept waiting,--Mistress
Fawcett tarried until her daughter fell asleep,--was a large square man,
albeit lean, and only less nervous than the widow's suitor. His white
locks were worn in a queue, a few escaping to soften his big powerful
face. Both men wore white linen, but Dr. Hamilton was rarely seen
without his riding-boots, his advent, except in Mistress Fawcett's
house, heralded by the clanking of spurs. Mary would have none of his
spurs on her mahogany floors, and the doctor never yet had been able to
dodge the darkey who stood guard at her doorstep.

The two men exchanged mild surmises as to the cause of the summons; but
as similar summons occurred when newly wedded blacks were pounding each
other's heads, provoked thereto by the galling chain of decency, or an
obeah doctor had tied a sinister warning to Mistress Fawcett's knocker,
neither of the gentlemen anticipated serious work. When Mary Fawcett
entered the long room, however, both forgot the dignity of their years
and position, and ran forward.

Dr. Hamilton lifted her as if she had been a palm leaf, and laid her on
the sofa. He despatched Mr. Hamn for a glass of Spanish port, and
forbade her to speak until he gave permission.

But Mary Fawcett made brief concessions to the weakness of the flesh.
She drank the wine, then sat up and told her story.

"Oh, Mary," said Dr. Hamilton, sadly, "why do you ask our advice? Your
ear may listen, but never your mind. If it were a matter of business, we
might even be allowed to act for you; but in a domestic--"

"What?" cried Mistress Fawcett; "have I not asked your advice a thousand
times about Rachael, and have I not always taken it?"

"I recall many of the conversations, but I doubt if you could recall the
advice. However, if you want it this time, I will give it to you. Don't
force the girl to marry against her will--assuredly not if the man is
repulsive to her. For all your brains you are a baby about men and
women. Rachael knows more by instinct. She is an extraordinary girl, and
should be allowed time to make her own choice. If you are afraid of
death, leave her to me. I will legally adopt her now, if you choose--"

"Yes, and should you die suddenly, your wife would think Rachael one too
many, what with your brood and the Edwardses to boot." Mistress Fawcett
was nettled by his jibe at the limit of her wisdom. "I shall leave her
with a husband. To that I have made up my mind. What have you to say,

This was an advantage which Mr. Hamn never failed to seize; he always
agreed with the widow; Dr. Hamilton never did. Moreover, he was
sincerely convinced that--save, perhaps, in matters of money--Mary
Fawcett could not err.

"I like the appearance of this Dane," he said, reassuringly, "and his
little country has a valiant history. This young man is quite
prince-like in his bearing, and his extreme fairness is but one more
evidence of his high breeding--"

"He looks like a shark's belly," interrupted Dr. Hamilton, "I don't
wonder he sickens Rachael. I have nothing against him but his
appearance, but if he came after Kitty I'd throw him out by the seat of
his breeches."

"He never looked at Kitty, at Government House, nor at Mistress
Montgomerie's," cried Mary. "You are jealous, Will, because Rachael has
carried off the foreign prize."

Dr. Hamilton laughed, then added seriously, "I am too fond of the girl
to forbear to give my advice. Let her choose her own husband. If you
dare to cut out her future, as if it were one of her new frocks, you
have more courage than I. She has more in her than twenty women. Let her
alone for the next five years, then she will have no one to answer to
but herself. Otherwise, my lady, you may find yourself holding your
breath in a hurricane track, with no refuge from the storm you've
whipped up but five feet underneath. If you won't give her to me, there
are her sisters. They are all wealthy--"

"They are years older than Rachael and would not understand her at all."

"I can't see why they should not understand her as well as a strange

"He will be her husband, madly in love with her."

"Levine will never be madly in love with anybody. Besides, it would not
matter to Rachael if her sisters did not understand her; she has too
strong a brain not to be independent of the ordinary female nonsense;
moreover, she has a fine disposition and her own property. But if her
husband did not understand her,--in other words, if their tastes proved
as opposite as their temperaments,--it would make a vast deal of
difference. Sisters can be got rid of, but husbands--well, you know the

"I will think over all you have said," replied Mary, with sudden
humility; she had great respect for the doctor. "But don't you say a
word to Rachael."

"I'm far too much afraid of you for that. But I wish that Will were home
or Andrew old enough. I'd set one of them on to cut this Dane out. Well,
I must go; send for me whenever you are in need of advice," and with a
parting laugh he strode out of the house and roared to the darkey to
come and fasten his spurs.

Archibald Hamn, who foresaw possibilities in the widow's loneliness, and
who judged men entirely by their manners, remained to assure Mistress
Fawcett of the wisdom of her choice, and to offer his services as
mediator. Mary laughed and sent him home. She wrote to Levine not to
call until she bade him, and for several days pondered deeply upon her
daughter's opposition and Dr. Hamilton's advice. The first result of
this perturbing distrust in her own wisdom was a violent attack of
rheumatism in the region of her heart; and while she believed herself to
be dying, she wrung from her distracted daughter a promise to marry
Levine. She recovered from the attack, but concluded that, the promise
being won, it would be folly to give it back. Moreover, the desire to
see her daughter married had been aggravated by her brush with death,
and after another interview with Levine, in which he promised all that
the fondest mother could demand, she opened her chests of fine linen.

Rachael submitted. She dared not excite her mother. Her imagination,
always vivid though it was, refused to picture the end she dreaded; and
she never saw Levine alone. His descriptions of life in Copenhagen
interested her, and when her mother expatiated upon the glittering
destiny which awaited her, ambition and pride responded, although
precisely as they had done in her day dreams. She found herself
visioning Copenhagen, jewels, brocades, and courtiers; but she realized
only when she withdrew to St. Kitts, that Levine had not entered the
dream, even to pass and bend the knee. Often she laughed aloud in
merriment. As the wedding-day approached, she lost her breath more than
once, and her skin chilled. During the last few days before the ceremony
she understood for the first time that it was inevitable. But time--it
was now three months since the needlewomen were set at the
trousseau--and her unconscious acceptance of the horrid fact had trimmed
her spirit to philosophy, altered the habit of her mind. She saw her
mother radiant, received the personal congratulations of every family on
the Island. Her sisters came from St. Croix, and made much of the little
girl who was beginning life so brilliantly; beautiful silks and laces
had come from New York, and Levine had given her jewels, which she tried
on her maid every day because she thought the mustee's tawny skin
enhanced their lustre. She was but a child in spite of her intellect.
Her union with the Dane came to appear as one of the laws of life, and
she finished by accepting it as one accepted an earthquake or a
hurricane. Moreover, she was profoundly innocent.


Mary Fawcett accompanied the Levines to Copenhagen, but returned to St.
Christopher by a ship which left Denmark a month later, being one of
those women who picture their terrestrial affairs in a state of
dissolution while deprived of their vigilance. She vowed that the North
had killed her rheumatism, and turned an absent ear to Rachael's appeal
to tarry until Levine was ready to return to St. Croix. She remained
long enough in Denmark, however, to see her daughter presented at court,
and installed with all the magnificence that an ambitious mother could
desire. There was not a misgiving in her mind, for Rachael, if somewhat
inanimate, could not be unhappy with an uxorious husband and the world
at her feet; and although for some time after her marriage she had
behaved like a naughty child caught in a trap, and been a sore trial to
her mother and Mr. Levine, since her arrival in Copenhagen she had
deported herself most becomingly and indulged in no more tantrums.
Levine had conducted himself admirably during his trying honeymoon. Upon
his arrival in Copenhagen he had littered his wife's boudoir with
valuable gifts, and exhibited the beauty he had won with a pride very
gratifying to his mother-in-law. In six months he was to sail for his
estates on St. Croix, and pay an immediate visit to St. Kitts, whence
Mistress Fawcett would return with her daughter for a sojourn of several
months. She returned to her silent home the envy of many Island mothers.

Rachael wrote by every ship, and Mary Fawcett pondered over these
letters, at first with perplexity, finally with a deep uneasiness. Her
daughter described life in Denmark, the court and society, her new gowns
and jewels, her visits to country houses, the celebrities she met. But
her letters were literary and impersonal, nor was there in them a trace
of her old energy of mind and vivacity of spirit. She never mentioned
Levine's name, nor made an intimate allusion to herself.

"Can she no longer love me?" thought Mary Fawcett at last and in terror;
"this child that I have loved more than the husband of my youth and all
the other children I have borne? It cannot be that she is unhappy. She
would tell me so in a wild outburst--indeed she would have run home to
me long since. Levine will never control her. Heaven knows what would
have happened if I had not gone on that wedding-journey. But she settled
down so sweetly, and I made sure she would have loved him by this. It is
the only thing to do if you have to live with one of the pests. Perhaps
that is it--she has given him all her love and has none left for me."
And at this she felt so lonely and bitter that she almost accepted
Archibald Hamn when he called an hour later. But in the excitement of
his risen hopes his wig fell on the floor, and she took offence at his
yellow and sparsely settled scalp.

There were few gleams of humour left in life for Mary Fawcett. Rachael's
letters ceased abruptly. Her mother dared not sail for Denmark, lest she
pass the Levines on their way to St. Croix. She managed to exist through
two distracted months, then received a note from her daughter, Mrs.

"Rachael is Here," it ran, "but refuses to see Us. I do not know what to
think. I drove over as soon as I heard of Their arrival. Levine received
Me and was as Courteous and Polished as ever, but Rachael had a
_Headache_ and did not come out. Mary and I have been there Twice since,
and with the _same_ result. Levine assured us that he had begged her to
see her Sisters, but that She is in a very _low_ and _melancholy_ state,
owing doubtless to her Condition. He seemed much _concerned_, but More,
I could not help thinking, because he feared to lose an Heir than from
any _love_ for my little Sister. Peter and Mary agree with Me, that _You
had best come here_ if You can."

Mary Fawcett, whatever her foibles, had never failed to spring upright
under the stiffest blows of her life. Ignoring her physical pains, which
had been aggravated by the mental terrors of the last two months, and
sternly commanding the agony in her heart to be silent, she despatched a
note at once to Dr. Hamilton,--Archibald Hamn was in Barbados,--asking
him to charter a schooner, if no ship were leaving that day for the
Danish Islands, and accompany her to St. Croix. He sent her word that
they could sail on the following morning if the wind were favourable,
and the black women packed her boxes and carried them on their heads to

That evening, as Mary Fawcett was slowly walking down the avenue,
leaning heavily on her cane, too wretched to rest or sleep, a ship
flying the German colours sailed past. She wondered if it had stopped at
St. Croix, then forgot it in the terrible speculations which her will
strove to hold apart from her nerves.

Wearied in body, she returned to the house and sat by the window of her
room, striving to compose her mind for sleep. She was forcing herself to
jot down instructions for her housekeeper, whom she had taught to read,
when she heard a chaise and a pair of galloping horses enter the avenue.
A moment later, Dr. Hamilton's voice was roaring for a slave to come and
hold his horses. Then it lowered abruptly and did not cease.

Mary Fawcett knew that Rachael had come to her, and without her husband.
For a moment she had a confused idea that the earth was rocking, and
congratulated herself that the house was too high for a tidal wave to
reach. Then Dr. Hamilton entered with Rachael in his arms and laid her
on the bed. He left at once, saying that he would return in the morning.
Mary Fawcett had not risen, and her chair faced the bed. Rachael lay
staring at her mother until Mary found her voice and begged her to
speak. She knew that her hunger must wait until she had stood at the bar
and received her sentence.

Rachael told her mother the story of her married life from the day she
had been left alone with John Levine,--a story of unimaginable horrors.
Like many cold men to whom the pleasures of the world are, nevertheless,
easy, Levine was a voluptuary and cruel. Had his child been safely born,
there would have been no measure in his brutality. Rachael had watched
for her opportunity, and one night when he had been at a state function
in Christianstadt, too secure in her apparent apathy to lock her door,
she had bribed a servant to drive her to Frederikstadt, and boarded the
ship her maid had ascertained was about to leave. She knew that he would
not follow her, for there was one person on earth he feared, and that
was Mary Fawcett. He would not have returned to St. Croix, had his
investments been less heavy; but on his estates he was lord, and had no
mind that his mother-in-law should set foot on them while he had slaves
to hold his gates.

Mary Fawcett listened to the horrid story, at first with a sort of
frantic wonder, for of the evil of life she had known nothing; then her
clear mind grasped it, her stoicism gave way, and she shrieked and raved
in such agony of soul that she had no fear of hell thereafter. Rachael
had to rise from the bed and minister to her, and the terrified blacks
ran screaming about the place, believing that their mistress had been

She grew calm in time, but her face was puckered like an old apple, and
her eyes had lost their brilliancy for ever. And it was days before she
realized that her limbs still ached.

Rachael never opened her lips on the subject again. She went back to bed
and clung to her mother and Dr. Hamilton until her child was born. Then
for three months she recognized no one, and Dr. Hamilton, with all his
skill, did not venture to say whether or not her mind would live again.

The child was a boy, and as blond as its father. Mary Fawcett stood its
presence in the house for a month, then packed it off to St. Croix. She
received a curt acknowledgment from Levine, and an intimation that she
had saved herself much trouble. As for Rachael, he would have her back
when he saw fit. She wrote an appeal to the Captain-General and he sent
her word that the Danes would never bombard Brimstone Hill, and there
was no other way by which Levine could get her daughter while one of her
friends ruled the Leeward Caribbees.

Many thoughts flitted through the brain of Mary Fawcett during that long
vigil. Her mind for the first time dwelt with kindness, almost with
softness, on the memory of her husband. Beside this awful Dane his
shadow was god-like. He had been high-minded and a gentleman in his
worst tantrums, and there was no taint of viciousness in him. A doubt
grew in her brain, grew to such disquieting proportions that she
sometimes deserted Rachael abruptly and went out to fatigue herself in
the avenue. Had she done wrong to leave him alone in his old age, to
bear, undiverted, the burden of a disease whose torments she now could
fully appreciate, to die alone in that great house with only his slaves
to tend him? It had seemed to her when she left him that human nature
could stand no more, and that she was justified; but she was an old
woman now and knew that all things can be endured. When that picture of
his desolate last years and lonely death had remorselessly shaped itself
in her imagination, and she realized that it would hang there until her
hands were folded, she suffered one more hour of agony and abasement,
then caught at the stoicism of her nature, accepted her new dole, and
returned to her daughter.


Rachael's mind struggled past its eclipse, but her recovery was very
slow. Even after she recognized her mother and Dr. Hamilton, she sat for
months staring at Nevis, neither opening a book nor looking round upon
the life about her. But she was only eighteen, and her body grew strong
and vital again. Gradually it forced its energies into her brain,
released her spirit from its apathy, buried memory under the fresher
impressions of time. A year from the day of her return, if there were
deep and subtle changes in her face and carriage, which added ten years
to her appearance, she was more beautiful to experienced eyes than when
she had flowered for the humming-birds. She took up her studies where
she had dropped them, a little of her old buoyancy revived; and if her
girlishness was buried with ideals and ambitions, her intellect was
clear and strong and her character more finely balanced. She flew into
no more rages, boxed her attendants' ears at rarer intervals, and the
deliberation which had seemed an anomaly in her character before, became
a dominant trait, and rarely was conquered by impulse. When it worked
alone her mother laid down her weapons, edged as they still were, and
when impulse flew to its back, Mary Fawcett took refuge in oblivion. But
she made no complaint, for she and her daughter were more united than
when the young girl had seemed more fit to be her grandchild.

The Governor of St. Christopher had written a letter to his friend, the
Governor of St. Croix, which had caused that estimable functionary to
forbid Levine the door of Government House. Levine could not endure
social ostracism. He left St. Croix immediately, and took his son Peter
with him. To this child Rachael never referred, and her mother doubted
if she remembered anything associated with its impending birth. Perhaps
she believed it dead. At all events, she made no sign. Except that she
was called Mistress Levine, there was nothing in her outer life to
remind her that for two years the markers in her favourite books had not
been shifted. She had studied music and painting with the best masters
in Copenhagen, and in the chests which were forwarded by her sisters
from St. Croix, there were many new books. She refused to return to
society, and filled her time without its aid; for not only did she have
the ample resources of her mind, her mother, the frequent companionship
of Dr. Hamilton and four or five other men of his age and attainments,
but she returned to the out-door life with enthusiasm. On her spirit was
an immovable shadow, in her mind an indelible stain, but she had strong
common sense and a still stronger will. An experience which would have
embittered a less complete nature, or sent a lighter woman to the
gallantries of society, gave new force and energy to her character, even
while saddening it. To the past she never willingly gave a thought;
neither was she for a moment unconscious of its ghost.


Two years passed. Rachael was twenty, a beautiful and stately creature,
more discussed and less seen than any woman on the islands of Nevis and
St. Christopher. Occasionally Christiana Huggins paid her a visit, or
Catherine Hamilton rode over for the day; but although Christiana at
least, loved her to the end, both were conscious of her superiority of
mind and experience, and the old intimacy was not resumed.

Dr. Hamilton had used all his influence in the Council to promote a
special bill of divorce, for he wanted Rachael to be free to marry
again. He had no faith in the permanent resources of the intellect for a
young and seductive woman, and he understood Rachael very thoroughly.
The calm might be long, but unless Levine died or could be legally
disposed of, she would give the Islands a heavier shock than when the
innovation of Mary Fawcett had set them gabbling. Against the
conservatism of his colleagues, however, he could make no headway, and
both the Governor and Captain-General disapproved of a measure which
England had never sanctioned.

But Dr. Hamilton and her mother were more disturbed at the failure of
the bill than Rachael. Time had lifted the shadow of her husband from
the race, but, never having loved, even a little, her imagination
modelled no pleasing features upon the ugly skull of matrimony. It is
true that she sometimes thought of herself as a singularly lonely being,
and allowed her mind to picture love and its companionships. As time
dimmed another picture she caught herself meditating upon woman's chief
inheritance, and moving among the shadows of the future toward that
larger and vitalizing part of herself which every woman fancies is on
earth in search of her. When she returned from these wanderings she
sternly reminded herself that her name was Levine, and that no woman
after such an escape had the right to expect more. She finally compelled
herself to admit that her avoidance of society was due to prudence as
well as to her stern devotion to intellect, then studied harder than

But it is a poor fate that waits upon the gathering together of many


Rachael was riding home one afternoon from Basseterre, where she had
been purchasing summer lawns and cambrics. It was March, and the winter
sun had begun to use its summer fuel; but the trades blew softly, and
there was much shade on the road above the sea. There was one long
stretch, however, where not a tree grew, and Rachael drew rein for a
moment before leaving the avenue of tamarinds which had rustled above
her head for a mile or more. Although it was a hot scene that lay before
her, it was that which, when away from home, for some reason best known
to her memory, had always been first to rise. The wide pale-gray road
rose gradually for a long distance, dipped, and rose again. On either
side were cane-fields, their tender greens sharp against the deep hard
blue of the sea on the left, rising to cocoanut groves and the dark
heights of the mountains above the road. Far away, close to the sea, was
Brimstone Hill, that huge isolated rock so near in shape to the crater
of Mount Misery. Its fortifications showed their teeth against the faded
sky, and St. Christopher slept easily while tentative conquerors
approached, looked hard at this Gibraltar of the West Indies, and sailed

But there scarcely was a sail on the sea to-day. Its blue rose and fell,
in that vast unbroken harmony which quickens the West Indian at times
into an intolerable sense of his isolation. Rachael recalled how she had
stared at it in childish resentment, wondering if a mainland really lay
beyond, if Europe were a myth. She did not care if she never set foot on
a ship again, and her ambitions were in the grave with her desire for a
wealthy and intellectual husband.

On the long road, rising gray and hot between the bright green
cane-fields, horsemen approached, and a number of slave women moved
slowly: women with erect rigid backs balancing large baskets or stacks
of cane on their heads, the body below the waist revolving with a
pivotal motion which suggests an anatomy peculiar to the tropics. They
had a dash of red about them somewhere, and their turbans were white.
Rachael's imagination never gave her St. Kitts without its slave women,
the "pic'nees" clinging to their hips as they bore their burdens on the
road or bent over the stones in the river. They belonged to its
landscape, with the palms and the cane-fields, the hot gray roads, and
the great jewel of the sea.

Rachael left the avenue and rode onward. One of the horsemen took off
his Spanish sombrero and waved it. She recognized Dr. Hamilton and shook
her whip at him. He and his companion spurred their horses, and a moment
later Rachael and James Hamilton had met.

"An unexpected pleasure for me, this sudden descent of my young
kinsman," said the doctor, "but a great one, for he brings me news of
all in Scotland, and he saw Will the day before he sailed."

"It is too hot to stand here talking," said Rachael. "Come home with me
to a glass of Spanish port, and cake perhaps."

The doctor was on his way to a consultation, but he ordered his relative
to go and pay his respects to Mistress Fawcett, and rode on whistling.
The two he had recklessly left to their own devices exchanged
platitudes, and covertly examined each other with quick admiration.

There are dark Scots, and Hamilton was one of them. Although tall and
slight, he was knit with a close and peculiar elegance, which made him
look his best on a horse and in white linen. His face was burnt to the
hue of brick-dust by the first quick assault of the tropic sun, but it
was a thin face, well shaped, in spite of prominent cheek bones, and set
with the features of long breeding; and it was mobile, fiery, impetuous,
and very intelligent: ancestral coarseness had been polished fine long

They left the road and mounted toward the dark avenue of the Fawcett
estate, Rachael wondering if her mother would be irritated at the
informality of the stranger's first call; he should have arrived in
state with Dr. Hamilton at the hour of five. Perhaps it was to postpone
the moment of explanation that she permitted her horse to walk, even
after they had reached the level of the avenue, and finally to crop the
grass while she and Hamilton dismounted and sat down in a heavy grove of
tamarinds on the slope of the hill.

"I'm just twenty-one and have my own way to make," he was telling her.
"There are three before me, so I couldn't afford the army, and as I've a
fancy for foreign lands, I've come out here to be a merchant. I have so
many kinsmen in this part of the world, and they've all succeeded so
well, I thought they'd be able to advise me how best to turn over the
few guineas I have. My cousin, the doctor, has taken me in hand, and if
I have any business capacity I shall soon find it out. But I ached for
the army, and failing that, I'd have liked being a scholar--as I know
you are, by your eyes."

His Scotch accent was not unlike that of the West Indians, particularly
of the Barbadians; but his voice, although it retained the huskiness of
the wet North, had, somewhere in its depths, a peculiar metallic quality
which startled Rachael every time it rang out, and was the last of all
memories to linger, when memories were crumbling in a brain that could
stand no more.

How it happened, Rachael spent the saner hours of the morrow attempting
to explain, but they sat under the tamarinds until the sun went down,
and Nevis began to robe for the night. Once they paused in their
desultory talk and listened to the lovely chorus of a West Indian
evening, that low incessant ringing of a million tiny bells. The bells
hung in the throats of nothing more picturesque than grasshoppers,
serpents, lizards, and frogs so small as to be almost invisible, but
they rang with a harmony that the inherited practice of centuries had
given them. And beyond was the monotonous accompaniment of the sea on
the rocks. Hamilton lived to be an old man, and he never left the West
Indies; but sometimes, at long and longer intervals, he found himself
listening to that Lilliputian orchestra, his attention attracted to it,
possibly, by a stranger; and then he remembered this night, and the
woman for whom he would have sacrificed earth and immortality had he
been lord of them.

Heaven knows what they talked about. While it was light they stared out
at the blue sea or down on the rippling cane-fields, not daring to
exchange more than a casual and hasty glance. Both knew that they should
have separated the moment they met, but neither had the impulse nor the
intention to leave the shade of the wood; and when the brief twilight
fell and the moon rose, there still was Nevis, and after her the many
craft to divert their gaze. Hamilton was honourable and shy, and Rachael
was a woman of uncommon strength of character and had been brought up by
a woman of austere virtue. These causes held them apart for a time, but
one might as well have attempted to block two comets rushing at each
other in the same orbit. The magnetism of the Inevitable embraced them
and knit their inner selves together, even while they sat decorously
apart. Rachael had taken off her hat at once, and even after it grew
dark in their arbour, Hamilton fancied he could see the gleam of her
hair. Her eyes were startled and brilliant, and her nostrils quivered
uneasily, but she defined none of the sensations that possessed her but
the overwhelming recrudescence of her youth. It had seemed to her that
it flamed from its ashes before Dr. Hamilton finished his formal words
of introduction, and all its forgotten hopes and impulses, timidity and
vagueness, surged through her brain during those hours beside the
stranger, submerging the memory of Levine. Indeed, she felt even younger
than before maturity so suddenly had been thrust upon her; for in those
old days she had been almost as severely intellectual as yesterday, and
when she had dreamed of the future, it had been with the soberness of an
overtaxed brain. But to-day even the world seemed young again. She
fancied she could hear the unquiet pulses of the Island, so long grown
old, and Nevis had never looked so fair. She hardly was conscious of her
womanhood, only of that possessing sense of happiness in youth. As for
Hamilton, he had never felt otherwise than young, although he was a
college-bred man, something of a scholar, and he had seen more or less
of the world since his boyhood. But the intensity and ardour of his
nature had received no check, neither were they halfway on their
course; and he had never loved. It had seemed to him that the Island
opened and a witch came out, and in those confused hours he hardly knew
whether she were good or bad, his ideal woman or his ideal devil; but he
loved her. He was as pale as his sunburn would permit him to be, and his
hands were clasped tightly about his knees, when relief came in the
shape of Mary Fawcett.

Her daughter's horse had gone home and taken the stranger with him, and
Mistress Fawcett, with quick suspicion, new as it was, started at once
down the avenue. Rachael heard the familiar tapping of her mother's
stick, hastily adjusted her hat, and managed to reach the road with
Hamilton before her mother turned its bend.

Mary Fawcett understood and shivered with terror. She was far from being
her imperious self as her daughter presented the stranger and remarked
that he was a cousin of Dr. Hamilton, characteristically refraining from
apology or explanation.

"Well," she said, "the doctor will doubtless bring you to call some day.
I will send your horse to you. Say good evening to the stranger,
Rachael, and come home." She was one of the most hospitable women in the
Caribbees, and this was the kinsman of her best friend, but she longed
for power to exile him out of St. Kitts that night.

Hamilton lifted his hat, and Rachael followed her mother. She was cold
and frightened, and Levine's white malignant face circled about her.

Her mother requested her support, and she almost carried the light
figure to the house. Mistress Fawcett sent a slave after Hamilton's
horse, then went to her room and wrote a note to Dr. Hamilton, asking
him to call on the following day and to come alone. The two women did
not meet again that night.

But there is little privacy in the houses of St. Kitts and Nevis. Either
the upper part of almost every room is built of ornamental lattice-work,
or the walls are set with numerous jalousies, that can be closed when a
draught is undesirable but conduct the slightest sound. Rachael's room
adjoined her mother's. She knew that the older woman was as uneasily
awake as herself, though from vastly different manifestations of the
same cause. At four o'clock, when the guinea fowl were screeching like
demons, and had awakened the roosters and the dogs to swell the infernal
chorus of a West Indian morning, Rachael sat up in bed and laughed

"What a night!" she thought. "And for what? A man who companioned me for
four hours as no other man had ever done? and who made me feel as if the
world had turned to fire and light? It may have been but a mood of my
own, it is so long since I have talked with a man near to my own
age--and he is so near!--and yet so real a man.... No one could call him
handsome, for he looks like a flayed Carib, and I have met some of the
handsomest men in Europe and not given them a thought. Yet this man kept
me beside him for four hours, and has me awake a whole night because he
is not with me. Has the discipline of these last years, then, gone for
nothing? Am I but an excitable West Indian after all, and shall I have
corded hands before I am twenty-five? It was a mistake to shut myself
away from danger. Had I been constantly meeting the young men of the
Island and all strangers who have come here during the last two years, I
should not be wild for this one--even if he has something in him unlike
other men--and lie awake all night like the silly women who dream
everlastingly of the lover to come. I am a fool."

She lit her candle and went into her mother's room. Mary Fawcett was
sitting up in bed, her white hair hanging out of her nightcap. It seemed
to her that the end of the world had come, and she cursed human nature
and the governors of the Island.

"I know what has kept you awake," said Rachael, "but do not fear. It was
but a passing madness--God smite those guinea fowl! I have lived the
life of a nun, and it is an unnatural life for a young woman. Yesterday
I learned that I have not the temperament of the scholar, the
recluse--that is all. I should have guessed it sooner--then I should not
have been fascinated by this brilliant Scot. It was my mind that flew
eagerly to companionship--that was all. The hours were pleasant. I would
not regret them but for the deep uneasiness they have caused you. To-day
I shall enter the world again. There are many clever and accomplished
young men on St. Kitts. I will meet and talk to them all. We will
entertain them here. There is a ball at Government House to-night,
another at Mistress Irwin's on Wednesday week. I promise you that I will
be as gay and as universal as a girl in her first season, and this man
shall see no more of me than any other man."

Her mother watched her keenly as she delivered her long tirade. Her face
was deeply flushed. The arm that held the candle was tense, and her hair
fell about her splendid form like a cloud of light. Had Hamilton seen
anything so fair in Europe? What part would he play in this scheme of

"You will meet this man if you go abroad," she replied. "Better stay
here and forbid him the gates."

"And think about him till I leap on my horse and ride to meet him? A
fevered imagination will make a god of a Tom Noddy. If I see him
daily--with others--he will seem as commonplace as all men."

Mary Fawcett did not speak for some moments. Then she said: "Hark ye,
Rachael. I interfered once and brought such damnable misery upon you
that I dare not--almost--(she remembered her note to Dr. Hamilton)
interfere again. This time you shall use your own judgement, something
you have taught me to respect. Whatever the result, I will be to the end
what I always have been, the best friend you have. You are very strong.
You have had an awful experience, and it has made a woman of thirty of
you. You are no silly little fool, rushing blindly into the arms of the
first man whose eyes are black enough. You have been brought up to look
upon light women with horror. In your darkest days you never sought to
console yourself as weaker women do. Therefore, in spite of what I saw
in both your faces yesterday, I hope."

"Yes--and give yourself no more uneasiness. Could _I_ look upon the
love of man with favour? Not unless I were to be born again, and my
memory as dead as my body."

"If you love, you will be born again; and if this man overmasters your
imagination, your memory might quite as well be dead. One of the three
or four things in my life that I have to be thankful for is that I never
had to pass through that ordeal. You are far dearer to me than I ever
was to myself, and if you are called upon to go through that wretched
experience, whose consequences never finish, and I with so little time
left in which to stand by and protect you--" She changed abruptly.
"Promise me that you will do nothing unconsidered, that you will not
behave like the ordinary Francesca--for whom I have always had the most
unmitigated contempt. The hour. The man. The fall. The wail: 'The earth
rocked, the stars fell. I knew not what I did!' You have deliberation
and judgement. Use them now--and do not ramble alone in the gorge with
this handsome Scot--for he is a fine man; I would I could deny it. I
felt his charm, although he did not open his mouth."

Rachael's eyes flashed. "Ah! did you?" she cried. "Well, but what of
that? Are not our creoles a handsome race, and have not all but a few
been educated in England? Yes, I will promise you--if you think all this
is serious enough to require a promise."

"But you care so little for the world. You would be sacrificing so much
less than other women--nevertheless it would make you wretched and
humiliate just as much; do not forget that. I almost am tempted to wish
that you had a lighter nature--that you would flirt with love and brush
it away, while the world was merely amused at a suspected gallantry. But
_you_--you would love for a lifetime, and you would end by living with
him openly. There is no compromise in you."

"Surely we have become more serious than an afternoon's talk with an
interesting stranger should warrant. I am full of a sudden longing for
the world, and who knows but I shall become so wedded to it that I would
yield it for no man? Besides, do I not live to make you happy, to
reward as best I can your unselfish devotion? If ever I could love any
man more than I love you, then that love would be overwhelming indeed.
But although I can imagine myself forgetting the world in such a love, I
cannot picture you on the sacrificial altar."


Rachael was asleep when Dr. Hamilton called. Mistress Fawcett received
him in the library, which was at the extreme end of the long house. He
laughed so heartily at her fears that he almost dispelled them. Whatever
he anticipated in Rachael's future, he had no mind to apprehend danger
in every man who interested her.

"For God's sake, Mary," he exclaimed, "let the girl have a flirtation
without making a tragedy of it. She is quite right. The world is what
she wants. If ever there was a woman whom Nature did not intend for a
nun it is Rachael Levine. Let her carry out her plan, and in a week she
will be the belle of the Island, and my poor cousin will be consoling
himself with some indignant beauty only a shade less fair. I'll engage
to marry him off at once, if that will bring sleep to your pillow, but I
can't send him away as you propose. I am not King George, nor yet the
Captain-General. Nor have I any argument by which to persuade him to go.
I have given him too much encouragement to stay. I'll keep him away from
routs as long as I can--but remember that he is young, uncommonly
good-looking, and a stranger: the girls will not let me keep him in
hiding for long. Now let the girl alone. Let her think you've forgotten
my new kinsman and your fears. I don't know any way to manage women but
to let them manage themselves. Bob Edwards failed with Catherine. I have
succeeded. Take a leaf out of my book. Rachael is not going through life
without a stupendous love affair. She was marked out for it, specially
moulded and equipped by old Mother Nature. Resign yourself to it, and go
out and put up your hands against the next tidal wave if you want an
illustration of what interference with Rachael would amount to. I wish
Levine would die, or we could get a divorce law through on this Island.
But the entire Council falls on the table with horror every time I
suggest it. Don't worry till the time comes. I'll fill my house with all
the pretty girls on St. Kitts and Nevis, and marry this hero of romance
as soon as I can."

Rachael went to the ball at Government House that night, glittering in a
gown of brocade she had worn at the court of Denmark: Levine had sent
her trunks to Peter Lytton's, but not her jewels. She was the most
splendid creature in the rooms, and there was no talk of anyone else.
But before the night was a third over she realized that the attention
she would receive during this her second dazzling descent upon society
would differ widely from her first. The young men bowed before her in
deep appreciation of her beauty, then passed on to the girls of that
light-hearted band to which she no longer belonged. She was a woman with
a tragic history and a living husband; she had a reputation for severe
intellectuality, and her eyes, the very carriage of her body, expressed
a stern aloofness from the small and common exteriorities of life. The
Governor, the members of Council, of the Assembly, of the bench and bar,
and the clergy, flocked about her, delighted at her return to the world,
but she was the belle of the matrons, and not a young man asked her to

She shrugged her shoulders when she saw how it was to be.

"Can they guess that I am younger than they are?" she thought. "And
would I have them? Would I share that secret with any in the world--but
one? Do I want to dance--to _dance_--Good God! And talk nonsense and the
gossip of the Island with these youths when I have naught to say but
that my soul has grown wings and that the cold lamp in my breast has
blown out, and lit again with the flame that keeps the world alive? Even
if I think it best never to see him again, he has given me that, and I
am young at last."

When she returned home, as the guinea fowl were at their raucous matins,
she was able to tell her mother that the Scot had not attended the ball,
and Mary Fawcett knew that Dr. Hamilton had managed to detain him.

But a fortnight later they met again at the house of Dr. George Irwin,
an intimate friend of the Hamiltons.

The Irwin's house in Basseterre was on the north side of the Park, which
was surrounded by other fine dwellings and several public buildings. The
broad verandahs almost overhung the enclosure, with its great banyan
tree, the royal palms about the fountain, the close avenues, the flaming
hedges of croton and hybiscus, and the traveller's palm and tree ferns
brought from the mountains. When a ball was given at one of the houses
about this Park on a moonlight night, there was much scheming to avoid
the watchful eyes of lawful guardians.

It was inevitable that Hamilton should attend this ball, for the Irwins
and his relatives were in and out of each other's houses all day and
half the night. By this time, however, he had met nearly every girl on
St. Kitts, and his cousin had ridden out that afternoon to assure
Mistress Fawcett that the danger weakened daily.

But for an hour, he did not leave Rachael's side that night. The
beauties of St. Christopher--and they were many, with their
porcelain-like complexions and distinguished features--went through all
their graceful creole paces in vain. That he was recklessly in love with
Rachael Levine was manifest to all who chose to look, and as undaunted
by her intellect and history as any man of his cousin's mature coterie.
As for Rachael, although she distributed her favours impartially for a
while, her mobile face betrayed to Dr. Hamilton that mind and body were
steeped in that tremulous content which possesses a woman when close to
an undeclared lover in a public place; the man, and Life and her own
emotions unmortalized, the very future bounded by the gala walls, the
music, the lights, and the perfume of flowers. These walls were hung
with branches of orange trees loaded with fruit, and with ferns and
orchids brought fresh from the mountains. A band of blacks played on
their native instruments the fashionable dances of the day with a weird
and barbaric effect, and occasionally sang a wailing accompaniment in
voices of indescribable softness. There was light from fifty candles,
and the eternal breeze lifted and dispersed the heavy perfume of the
flowers. Hamilton had been in many ball-rooms, but never in one like
this. He abstained from the madeiras and ports which were passed about
at brief intervals by the swinging coloured women in their gay frocks
and white turbans; but he was intoxicated, nevertheless, and more than
once on the point of leaving the house. The unreality of it all held him
more than weakness, for in some things James Hamilton was strong enough.
The weakness in him was down at the roots of his character, and he was
neither a feathercock nor a flasher. He had no intention of making love
to Rachael until he saw his future more clearly than he did to-night.
During the fortnight that had passed since he met her, he had thought of
little else, and to-night he wanted nothing else, but impulsive and
passionate as he was, he came of a race of hard-headed Scots. He had no
mind for a love affair of tragic seriousness, even while his quickened
imagination pictured the end.

He deliberately left her side after a time and joined a group of men who
were smoking in the court. After an hour of politics his brain had less
blood in it, and when he found himself standing beside Rachael on the
verandah he suggested that they follow other guests into the Park. He
gave Rachael his arm in the courtly fashion of the day, and they walked
about the open paths and talked of the negroes singing in the
cane-fields, and the squalid poverty of the North, as if their hearts
were as calm as they are to-day. People turned often to look at them,
commenting according to the mixing of their essences, but all concurring
in praise of so much beauty. Hamilton's sunburn had passed the acute
stage, leaving him merely brown, and his black silk small clothes and
lace ruffles, his white silk stockings and pumps, were vastly becoming.
His hair, lightly powdered, was tied with a white ribbon, but although
he carried himself proudly, there was no manifest in his bearing that
the vanities consumed much of his thought. He was gallanted like a young
blood of the period, and so were the young men of St. Kitts. Rachael
wore a heavy gold-coloured satin, baring the neck, and a stiff and
pointed stomacher, her hair held high with a diamond comb. Her fairness
was dazzling in the night-light, and it was such a light as Hamilton
never had seen before: for in the Tropics the moon is golden, and the
stars are crystal. The palm leaves, high on their slender shafts,
glittered like polished dark-green metal, and the downpour was so
dazzling that more than once the stranger shaded his eyes with his hand.
Had it not been for the soft babble of many voices, the silence would
have been intense, until the ear was tuned to the low tinkle of the
night bells, for the sea was calm.

Once, as if in explanation for words unspoken, he commented nervously on
the sensation of unreality with which these tropic scenes inspired him,
and Rachael, who longed to withdraw her hand from his arm, told him of
an entertainment peculiar to the Islands, a torchlight hunt for
land-crabs, which once a year travel down from the mountains to the sea,
to bathe and shed their shells. Words hastened. Before she drew breath
she had arranged a hunt for the night of the 10th of April, and received
his promise to be one of her guests. They were not so happy as they had
been within doors, for the world seemed wider. But their inner selves
pressed so hard toward each other that finally they were driven to
certain egotisms as a relief.

"I think little of the future," she said, after a direct question, "for
that means looking beyond my mother's death, and that is the one fact I
have not the courage to face. But of course I know that it holds nothing
for me. A ball occasionally, and the conversation of clever men who
admire me but care for some one else, books the rest of the week, and
life alone on a shelf of the mountain. The thought that I shall one day
be old does not console me as it may console men, for with women the
heart never grows old. The body withers, and the heart in its awful
eternal youth has the less to separate and protect it from the world
that has no use for it. Then the body dies and is put away, but the
heart is greedily consumed to feed the great pulses of the world that
lives faster every year. We give, and give, and give."

"And are only happy in giving," said Hamilton, quickly. "But if men
preserve the balance of the world by taking all that women give them, at
least the best of us find our happiness in the gifts of one woman, and a
woman so besought dare not assert that her heart is empty. I
understand--and no one more clearly than I do to-night--that if she give
too much, she may curse her heart and look out bitterly upon the
manifold interests that could suppress it for weeks and months--if life
were full enough. Is yours? What would you sacrifice if you came to me?"

He asked the question calmly, for there were people on every side of
them, but he asked it on an uncontrollable impulse, nevertheless; he had
vowed to himself that he would wait a month.

His natural repose was greater than hers, for she had the excitable
nerves of the Tropics. He felt her arm quiver before she dropped her
hand from his arm. But she replied almost as calmly: "Nothing after my
mother's death. Absolutely nothing. When a woman suffers as I have done,
and her future is ruined in any case, the world counts for very little
with her, unless it always has counted for more than anything else. We
grow the more cynical and contemptuous as we witness the foolish
gallantries of women who have so much to lose. I am not hard. I am very
soft about many things, and since you came I am become the very tragedy
of youth; but I have no respect for the world as I have seen it. For
many people in the world I have a great deal, but not for the substance
out of which Society has built itself. One never loses one's real
friends, no matter what one does. Every circumstance of my life has
isolated me from this structure called society, forced me to make my own
laws. I may never be happy, because my capacity for happiness is too
great, but in my own case there is no alternative worth considering.
This is the substance of what I have thought since we met, but you are
not to speak to me of it again while my mother lives."

"I do not promise you that--but this: that I will do much thinking
before I speak again."


But although they parted with formal courtesy, it was several nights
before either slept. Rachael went home to her bed and lay down, because
she feared to agitate her mother, but her disposition was to go out and
walk the circuit of the Island, and she rose as soon as she dared, and
climbed to the highest crest behind the house. It was cold there, and
the wind was keen. She sat for hours and stared out at Nevis, who was
rolling up her mists, indifferent to the torment of mortals.

During the past fortnight she had conceived a certain stern calm, partly
in self-defence, due in part to love for her mother. But since she had
left Hamilton, last night, there had been moments when she had felt
alone in the Universe with him, exalted to such heights of human passion
that she had imagined herself about to become the mother of a new race.
Her genius, which in a later day might have taken the form of mental
creation, concentrated in a supreme capacity for idealized human
passion, and its blind impulse was a reproduction of itself in another

Were she and Hamilton but the victims of a mighty ego roaming the
Universe in search of a medium for human expression? Were they but
helpless sacrifices, consummately equipped, that the result of their
union might be consummately great? Who shall affirm or deny? The very
commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery. We know
absolutely nothing. But we have these facts: that a century and a half
ago, on a tropical island, where, even to common beings, quick and
intense love must seem the most natural thing in the world, this man and
woman met; that the woman, herself born in unhappy conditions, but
beautiful, intellectual, with a character developed far beyond her years
and isolated home by the cruel sufferings of an early marriage, reared
by a woman whose independence and energy had triumphed over the narrow
laws of the Island of her birth, given her courage to snap her fingers
at society--we know that this woman, inevitably remarkable, met and
loved a stranger from the North, so generously endowed that he alone of
all the active and individual men who surrounded her won her heart; and
that the result of their union was one of the stupendous intellects of
the world's history.

Did any great genius ever come into the world after commonplace
pre-natal conditions? Was a maker of history ever born amidst the
pleasant harmonies of a satisfied domesticity? Of a mother who was less
than remarkable, although she may have escaped being great? Did a woman
with no wildness in her blood ever inform a brain with electric fire?
The students of history know that while many mothers of great men have
been virtuous, none have been commonplace, and few have been happy. And
lest the moralists of my day and country be more prone to outraged
virtue, in reading this story, than were the easy-going folk who
surrounded it, let me hasten to remind them that it all happened close
upon a hundred and fifty years ago, and that the man and woman who gave
them the brain to which they owe the great structure that has made their
country phenomenal among nations, are dust on isles four hundred miles

A century and a half ago women indulged in little introspective
analysis. They thought on broad lines, and honestly understood the
strength of their emotions. Moreover, although Mary Wollstonecraft was
unborn and "Émile" unwritten, Individualism was germinating; and what
soil so quickening as the Tropics? Nevertheless, to admit was not to lay
the question, and Rachael passed through many hours of torment before
hers was settled. She was not unhappy, for the intoxication lingered,
and behind the methodical ticking of her reason, stood, calmly awaiting
its time, that sense of the Inevitable which has saved so many brains
from madness. She slept little and rested less, but that sentinel in her
brain prevented the frantic hopelessness which would have possessed her
had she felt herself strong enough to command James Hamilton to leave
the Island.

She met him several times before the night of her entertainment, and
there were moments when she was filled with terror, for he did not
whisper a reference to the conversation in the Park. Had he thought
better of it? Would he go? Would he conquer himself? Was it but a
passing madness? When these doubts tormented her she was driven to such
a state of jealous fury that she forgot every scruple, and longed only
for the bond which would bind him fast; then reminded herself that she
should be grateful, and endeavoured to be. But one day when he lifted
her to her horse, he kissed her wrist, and again the intoxication of
love went to her head, and this time it remained there. Once they met up
in the hills, where they had been asked with others to take a dish of
tea with Mistress Montgomerie. They sat alone for an hour on one of the
terraces above the house, laughing and chattering like children, then
rode down the hills through the cane-fields together. Again, they met in
the Park, and sat under the banyan tree, discussing the great books they
had read, all of Europe they knew. For a time neither cared to finish
that brief period of exquisite happiness and doubt, where imagination
rules, and the world is unreal and wholly sweet, and they its first to

The wrenching stage of doubt had passed for Hamilton, but he thought on
the future with profound disquiet. He would have the woman wholly or not
at all, after Mary Fawcett's death; he knew from Dr. Hamilton that it
would occur before the year was out. He had no taste for intrigue. He
wanted a home, and the woman he would have rejoiced to marry was the
woman he expected to love and live with for the rest of his life. Once
or twice the overwhelming sense of responsibility, the certainty of
children, whom he could not legalize, the possible ruin of his worldly
interests, as well as his deep and sincere love for the woman, drove him
almost to the bows of a homeward-bound vessel. But the sure knowledge
that he should return kept him doggedly on St. Christopher. He even had
ceased to explain his infatuation to himself by such excuse as was given
him by her beauty, her grace, her strong yet charming brain. He loved
her, and he would have her if the skies fell.

It is doubtful if he understood the full force of the attraction between
them. The real energy and deliberation, the unswerving purpose in her
magnetized the weakness at the roots of his ardent, impulsive, but
unstable character. Moreover, in spite of the superlative passion which
he had aroused in her, she lacked the animal magnetism which was his in
abundance. Her oneness was a magnet for his gregariousness and
concentrated it upon herself. That positive quality in him overwhelmed
and intoxicated her; and in intellect he was far more brilliant and far
less profound than herself. His wit and mental nimbleness stung and
pricked the serene layers which she had carefully superimposed in her
own mind to such activities as mingled playfully with his lighter moods
or stimulated him in more intellectual hours. While the future was yet
unbroken and imagination remodelled the face of the world, there were
moments when both were exalted with a sense of completeness, and
terrified, when apart, with a hint of dissolution into unrelated

When a man and woman arrive at that stage of reasoning and feeling, it
were idle for their chronicler to moralize; her part is but to tell the


Mary Fawcett encouraged her daughter's social activity, and as
Hamilton's name entered the rapid accounts of revels and routs in the
most casual manner, she endeavoured to persuade herself that the madness
had passed with a languid afternoon. She was a woman of the world, but
the one experience that develops deepest insight had passed her by, and
there were shades and moods of the master passion over which her sharp
eyes roved without a shock.

As she was too feeble to sit up after nine o'clock, she refused to open
her doors for the crab hunt, but gave Rachael the key of a little villa
on the crest of a peak behind the house, and told her to keep her
friends all night if she chose.

This pavilion, designed for the hotter weeks of the hurricane season,
but seldom used by the Fawcetts, was a small stone building, with two
bedrooms and a living room, a swimming bath, and several huts for
servants. The outbuildings were dilapidated, but the house after an
airing and scrubbing was as fit for entertainment as any on St. Kitts.
The furniture in the Tropics is of cane, and there are no carpets or
hangings to invite destruction. Even the mattresses are often but
plaited thongs of leather, covered with strong linen, and stretched
until they are hard as wood. All Mary Fawcett's furniture was of
mahogany, the only wood impervious to the boring of the West Indian
worm. This tiny house on the mountain needed but a day's work to clean
it, and another to transform it into an arbour of the forest. The walls
of the rooms were covered with ferns, orchids, and croton leaves. Gold
and silver candelabra had been carried up from the house, and they would
hold half a hundred candles.

All day the strong black women climbed the gorge and hill, their hips
swinging, baskets of wine, trays of delicate edibles, pyramids of linen,
balanced as lightly on their heads as were they no more in weight and
size than the turban beneath; their arms hanging, their soft voices
scolding the "pic'nees" who stumbled after them.

Toward evening, Rachael and Kitty Hamilton walked down the mountain
together, and lingered in the heavy beauty of the gorge. The ferns grew
high above their heads, and palms of many shapes. The dark machineel
with its deadly fruit, the trailing vines on the tamarind trees, the
monkeys leaping, chattering with terror, through flaming hybiscus and
masses of orchid, the white volcanic rock, the long torn leaves of the
banana tree, the abrupt declines, crimson with wild strawberries, the
loud boom of the sunset gun from Brimstone Hill--Rachael never forgot a
detail of that last walk with her old friend. Hers was not the nature
for intimate friendships, but Catherine Hamilton had been one of her
first remembered playmates, her bridesmaid, and had hastened to
companion her when she emerged from the darkness of her married life.
But Catherine was an austere girl, of no great mental liveliness, and
the friendship, although sincere, was not rooted in the sympathies and
affections. She believed Rachael to be the most remarkable woman in the
world, and had never dared to contradict her, although she lowered her
fine head to no one else. But female virtue, as they expressed it in the
eighteenth century, stood higher in her estimation than all the gifts of
mind and soul which had been lavished upon Rachael Levine, and she was
the first to desert her when the final step was taken. But on this
evening there was no barrier, and she talked of her future with the man
she was to marry. She was happy and somewhat sentimental. Rachael sighed
and set her lips. All her girlhood friends were either married or about
to be--except Christiana, who had not a care in her little world. Why
were sorrow and disgrace for her alone? What have I done, she thought,
that I seem to be accursed? I have wronged no one, and I am more gifted
than any of these friends of mine. Not one of them has studied so
severely, and learned as much as I. Not one of them can command the
homage of such men as I. And yet I alone am singled out, first, for the
most hideous fate which can attack a woman, then to live apart from all
good men and women with a man I cannot marry, and who may break my
heart. I wish that I had not been born, and I would not be dead for all
the peace that is in the most silent depths of the Universe.

At ten o'clock, that night, the hills were red with the torches of as
gay a company as ever had assembled on the Island. The Governor and Dr.
Hamilton were keen sportsmen, and nothing delighted them more than to
chase infuriated land-crabs down the side of a mountain. There were some
twenty men in the party, and most of them followed their distinguished
elders through brush and rocky passes. Occasionally, a sudden yell of
pain mingled with the shouts of mirth, for land-crabs have their methods
of revenge. The three or four girls whom Rachael had induced to attend
this masculine frolic, kept to the high refuge of the villa, attended by
cavaliers who dared not hint that maiden charms were less than

Hamilton and Rachael sat on the steps of the terrace, or paced up and
down, watching the scene. Just beyond their crest was the frowning mass
of Mount Misery. The crystal flood poured down from above, and the moon
was rising over the distant hills. The sea had the look of infinity.
There might be ships at anchor before Basseterre or Sandy Point, but the
shoulders of the mountain hid them; and below, the world looked as if
the passions of Hell had let loose--the torches flared and crackled, and
the trees took on hideous shapes. Once a battalion of the pale
venomous-looking crabs rattled across the terrace, and Rachael, who was
masculine in naught but her intellect, screamed and flung herself into
Hamilton's arms. A moment later she laughed, but their conversation
ceased then to be impersonal. It may be said here, that if Hamilton
failed in other walks of life, it was not from want of resolution where
women were concerned. And he was tired of philandering.

The hunters returned, slaves carrying the slaughtered crabs in baskets.
There were many hands to shell the victims, and in less than half an
hour Mary Fawcett's cook sent in a huge and steaming dish. Then there
were mulled wines and port, cherry brandy and liqueurs to refresh the
weary, and sweets for the women. A livelier party never sat down to
table; and Hamilton, who was placed between two chattering girls, was a
man of the world, young as he was, and betrayed neither impatience nor
ennui. Rachael sat at the head of the table, between the Governor and
Dr. Hamilton. Her face, usually as white as porcelain, was pink in the
cheeks; her eyes sparkled, her nostrils fluttered with triumph. She
looked so exultant that more than one wondered if she were intoxicated
with her own beauty; but Dr. Hamilton understood, and his supper lost
its relish. Some time since he had concluded that where Mary Fawcett
failed he could not hope to succeed, but he had done his duty and
lectured his cousin. He understood human nature from its heights to its
dregs, however, and promised Hamilton his unaltered friendship, even
while in the flood of remonstrance. He was a philosopher, who invariably
held out his hand to the Inevitable, with a shrug of his shoulders, but
he loved Rachael, and wished that the ship that brought Levine to the
Islands had encountered a hurricane.

The guests started for home at one o'clock, few taking the same path.
The tired slaves went down to their huts. Rachael remained on the
mountain, and Hamilton returned to her.


It was a month later that Rachael, returning after a long ride with
Hamilton, found her mother just descended from the family coach.

"Is it possible that you have been to pay visits?" she asked, as she
hastened to support the feeble old woman up the steps.

"No, I have been to Basseterre with Archibald Hamn."

"Not to St. Peter's, I hope."

"Oh, my dear, I do not feel in the mood to jest. I went to court to
secure the future of my three dear slaves, Rebecca, Flora, and Esther."

Rachael placed her mother on one of the verandah chairs and dropped upon

"Why have you done that?" she asked faintly. "Surely--"

"There are several things I fully realize, and one is that each attack
leaves me with less vitality to resist the next. These girls are the
daughters of my dear old Rebecca, who was as much to me as a black ever
can be to a white, and that is saying a good deal. I have just signed a
deed of trust before the Registrar--to Archibald. They are still mine
for the rest of my life, yours for your lifetime, or as long as you live
here; then they go to Archibald or his heirs. I want you to promise me
that they shall never go beyond this Island or Nevis."

"I promise." Rachael had covered her face with her hand.

"I believe you kept the last promise you made me. It is not in your
character to break your word, however you may see fit to take the law
into your own hands."

"I kept it."

"And you will live with him openly after my death. I have appreciated
your attempt to spare me."

"Ah, you _do_ know me."

"Some things may escape my tired old eyes, but I love you too well not
to have seen for a month past that you were as happy as a bride. I shall
say no more--save for a few moments with James Hamilton. I am old and
ill and helpless. You are young and indomitable. If I were as vigorous
and self-willed as when I left your father, I could not control you now.
I shall leave you independent. Will Hamilton, Archibald, and a few
others will stand by you; but alas! you will, in the course of nature,
outlive them all, and have no friend in the world but Hamilton--although
I shall write an appeal to your sisters to be sent to them after my
death. But oh, how I wish, how I wish, that you could marry this man."

Mary Fawcett was attacked that night by the last harsh rigours of her
disease and all its complications. Until she died, a week later,
Rachael, except for the hour that Hamilton sat alone beside the bed of
the stricken woman, did not leave her mother. The immortal happiness of
the last month was forgotten. She was prostrate, literally on her knees
with grief and remorse, for she believed that her mother's discovery had
hastened the end.

"No, it is not so," said Mary Fawcett, one day. "My time has come to
die. Will Hamilton will assure you of that, and I have watched the space
between myself and death diminish day by day, for six months past. I
have known that I should die before the year was out. It is true that I
die in sorrow and with a miserable sense of failure, for you have been
my best-beloved, my idol, and I leave you terribly placed in life and
with little hope of betterment. But for you I have no reproach. You have
given me love for love, and duty for duty. Life has treated you
brutally; what has come now was, I suppose, inevitable. Human nature
when it is strong enough is stronger than moral law. I grieve for you,
but I die without grievance against you. Remember that. And Hamilton? He
is honourable, and he loves you utterly--but is he strong? I wish I
knew. His emotions and his active brain give him so much apparent
force--but underneath? I wish I knew."

Rachael was grateful for her mother's unselfish assurance, but she was
not to be consoled. The passions in her nature, released from other
thrall, manifested themselves in a grief so profound, and at times so
violent, that only her strong frame saved her from illness. For two
weeks after Mary Fawcett's death she refused to see James Hamilton; but
by that time he felt at liberty to assert his rights, and her finely
poised mind recovered its balance under his solace and argument. Her
life was his, and to punish him assuaged nothing of her sorrow. He had
decided, after consultation with his cousin, to take her to Nevis, not
only to seclude her from the scandalized society she knew best, but that
he might better divert her mind, in new scenes, from her heavy
affliction. Hamilton had already embarked in his business enterprise,
but he had bought and manned a sail-boat, which would carry him to and
from St. Kitts daily. In the dead calms of summer there was little
business doing.

"I attempted no sophistry with my cousin," said Hamilton, "and for that
reason I think I have put the final corking-pin into our friendship.
Right or wrong we are going to live together for the rest of our lives,
because I will have no other woman, and you will have no other man; and
we will live together publicly, not only because neither of us has the
patience for scheming and deceit, but because passion is not our only
motive for union. There is gallantry on every side of us, and doubtless
we alone shall be made to suffer; for the world loves to be fooled, it
hates the crudeness of truth. But we have each other, and nothing else

And to Rachael nothing else mattered, for her mother was dead, and she
loved Hamilton with an increasing passion that was long in culminating.


They sailed over to Nevis, accompanied by a dozen slaves, and took
possession of Rachael's house in Main Street. It stood at the very end
of the town, beyond the point where the street ceased and the road round
the Island began. The high wall of the garden surrounded a grove of
palms and cocoanut trees. Only sojourners from England had occupied the
big comfortable house, and it was in good repair.

When the acute stage of her grief had passed, it was idle for Rachael to
deny to Hamilton that she was happy. And at that time she had not a care
in the world, nor had he. Their combined incomes made them as careless
of money as any planter on the Island. Every ship from England brought
them books and music, and Hamilton was not only the impassioned lover
but the tenderest and most patient of husbands. Coaches dashed by and
the occupants cast up eyes and hands. The gay life of Nevis pulsed
unheeded about the high walls, whose gates were always locked. The
kinsman of the leading families of the Island and the most beautiful
daughter of old John and Mary Fawcett were a constant and agitating
theme, but two people lived their life of secluded and poignant
happiness, and took Nevis or St. Kitts into little account.





I should have been glad to find an old Almanac of Nevis which contained
a description of its 11th of January, 1757. But one January is much like
another in the Leeward Islands, and he who has been there can easily
imagine the day on which Alexander Hamilton was born. The sky was a
deeper blue than in summer, for the sun was resting after the terrific
labours of Autumn, and there was a prick in the trade winds which
stimulated the blood by day and chilled it a trifle at night. The slave
women moved more briskly, followed by a trotting brood of "pic'nees,"
one or more clinging to their hips, all bewailing the rigours of winter.
Down in the river where they pounded the clothes on the stones, they
vowed they would carry the next linen to the sulphur springs, for the
very marrow in their bones was cold. In the Great Houses there were no
fires, but doors and windows were closed early and opened late, and
blankets were on every bed. The thermometer may have stood at 72°.

Nevis herself was like a green jewel casket, after the autumn rains.
Oranges and sweet limes were yellow in her orchards, the long-leaved
banana trees were swelling with bunches of fruit, the guavas were ready
for cream and the boiling. The wine was in the cocoanut, the royal palms
had shed their faded summer leaves and glittered like burnished metal.
The gorgeous masses of the croton bush had drawn fresh colour from the
rain. In the woods and in the long avenues which wound up the mountain
to the Great House of every estate, the air was almost cold; but out
under the ten o'clock sun, even a West Indian could keep warm, and the
negroes sang as they reaped the cane. The sea near the shore was like
green sunlight, but some yards out it deepened into that intense hot
blue which is the final excess of West Indian colouring. The spray flew
high over the reef between Nevis and St. Kitts, glittering like the salt
ponds on the desolate end of the larger island, the roar of the breakers
audible in the room where the child who was to be called Alexander
Hamilton was born.

Rachael rose to a ceaseless demand upon her attention for which she was
grateful during the long days of Hamilton's absence. Alexander turned
out to be the most restless and monarchical of youngsters and preferred
his mother to his black attendants. She ruled him with a firm hand,
however, for she had no mind to lessen her pleasure in him, and although
she could not keep him quiet, she prevented the blacks from spoiling

During the hurricane months Hamilton yielded to her nervous fears, as he
had done in the preceding year, and crossed to St. Kitts but seldom. As
a matter of fact, hurricanes of the first degree, are rare in the West
Indies, the average to each island being one in a century. But from the
25th of August, when all the Caribbean world prostrates itself in church
while prayers for deliverance from the awful visitation are read, to the
25th of October, when the grateful or the survivors join in
thanksgiving, every wind alarms the nervous, and every round woolly
cloud must contain the white squall. Rachael knew that Nevis boats had
turned over when minor squalls dashed down the Narrows between the
extreme points of the Islands, and that they were most to be dreaded in
the hurricane season. Hamilton's inclination was to spare in every
possible way the woman who had sacrificed so much for him, and he asked
little urging to idle his days in the cool library with his charming
wife and son. Therefore his business suffered, for his partners took
advantage of his negligence; and the decay of their fortunes began when
Rachael, despite the angry protests of Archibald Hamn, sold her property
on St. Kitts and gave Hamilton the money. He withdrew from the firm
which had treated him inconsiderately, and set up a business for
himself. For a few years he was hopeful, although more than once
obliged to borrow money from his wife. She gave freely, for she had been
brought up in the careless plenty of the Islands. Mary Fawcett,
admirable manager as she was, had been lavish with money, particularly
when her favourite child was in question; and Rachael's imagination had
never worked toward the fact that money could roll down hill and not
roll up again. She was long in discovering that the man she loved and
admired was a failure in the uninteresting world of business. He was a
brilliant and charming companion, read in the best literatures of the
world, a thoughtful and adoring husband. It availed Archibald Hamn
nothing to rage or Dr. Hamilton to remonstrate. Rachael gradually
learned that Hamilton was not as strong as herself, but the maternal
instinct, so fully aroused by her child, impelled her to fill out his
nature with hers, while denying nothing to the man who did all he could
to make her happy.

In the third year Hamilton gave up his sail-boat, and had himself rowed
across the Narrows, where the overlooker of a salt estate he had bought
awaited him with a horse. Once he would have thought nothing of walking
the eight miles to Basseterre, but the Tropics, while they sharpen the
nerves, caress unceasingly the indolence of man. During the hurricane
season he crossed as often as he thought necessary, for with expert
oarsmen there was little danger, even from squalls, and the distance was
quickly covered.

Gradually Rachael's position was accepted. Nothing could alter the fact
that she was the daughter of Dr. and Mary Fawcett, and Hamilton was of
the best blood in the Kingdom. She was spoken of generally as Mistress
Hamilton, and old friends of her parents began to greet her pleasantly
as she drove about the Island with her beautiful child. In time they
called, and from that it was but another step to invite, as a matter of
course, the young Hamiltons to their entertainments. After all, Rachael
was not the first woman in tropical Great Britain to love a man she
could not marry, and it was fatiguing to ask the everlasting question of
whether the honesty of a public irregular alliance were not
counterbalanced by its dangerous example. It was a day of loose morals,
the first fruit of the vast scientific movement of the century, whose
last was the French Revolution. Moreover, the James Hamiltons were
delightful people, and life on the Islands was a trifle monotonous at
times; they brought into Nevis society fresh and unusual personalities,
spiced with a salient variety. Hamilton might almost be said to have
been born an astute man of the world. He opened his doors with an
accomplished hospitality to the most intelligent and cultivated people
of the Island, ignoring those who based their social pretensions on rank
and wealth alone. In consequence he and his wife became the leaders of a
small and exclusive set, who appreciated their good fortune. Dr.
Hamilton and a few other Kittifonians were constant visitors in this
hospitable mansion. Christiana Huggins, who had taken a bold stand from
the first, carried her father there one day in triumph, and that austere
parent laid down his arms. All seemed well, and the crumbling of the
foundations made no sound.

And Alexander? He was an excitable and ingenious imp, who saved himself
from many a spanking by his sparkling mind and entrancing sweetness of
temper. He might fly at his little slaves and beat them, and to his
white playmates he never yielded a point; but they loved him, for he was
generous and honest, and the happiest little mortal on the Island. He
could get into as towering a rage as old John Fawcett, but he was
immediately amenable to the tenderness of his parents.

When he was four years old he was sent to a small school, which happened
to be kept by a Jewess. In spite of his precocity his parents had no
wish to force a mind which, although delightful to them in its saucy
quickness, aroused no ambitious hopes; they sent him to school merely
that there might be less opportunity to spoil him at home. His new
experience was of a brief duration.

Hamilton on a Sunday was reading to Rachael in the library. Alexander
shoved a chair to the table and climbed with some difficulty, for he was
very small, to an elevated position among the last reviews of Europe.
He demanded the attention of his parents, and, clasping his hands behind
his back, began to recite rapidly in an unknown tongue. The day was very
hot, and he wore nothing but a white apron. His little pink feet were
bare on the mahogany, and his fair curls fell over a flushed and earnest
face, which at all times was too thin and alert to be angelic or
cherubic. Hamilton and Rachael, wondering whom he fancied himself
imitating, preserved for a moment a respectful silence, then, overcome
by his solemn countenance and the fluency of his outlandish utterance,
burst into one of those peals of sudden laughter which seem to strike
the most sensitive chord in young children. Alexander shrieked in wrath
and terror, and made as if to fling himself on his mother's bosom, then
planted his feet with an air of stubborn defiance, and went on with his
recital. Hamilton listened a moment longer, then left the house
abruptly. He returned in wrath.

"That woman has taught him the Decalogue in Hebrew!" he exclaimed. "'Tis
a wonder his brains are not addled. He will sail boats in the
swimming-bath and make shell houses in the garden for the next three
years. We'll have no more of school."


Alexander Hamilton had several escapes from imminent peril when he was a
boy, and the first occurred in the month of December, 1761. Hamilton had
gone to St. Croix on business, and Rachael and the child spent the
fortnight of his absence with Christiana Huggins. Rachael was accustomed
to Hamilton's absences, but Nevis was in a very unhealthy condition,
through lack of wind and rains during the preceding autumn. The sea had
looked like a metal floor for months, the Island was parched and dry,
the swamps on the lowlands were pestiferous. Many negroes had died in
Charles Town, and many more were ill. The obeah doctors, with their
absurd concoctions and practices, were openly defying the physicians of
repute, for the terrified blacks believed that the English had prayed
once too often that the hurricane should be stayed, and that he sulked
where none might feel his faintest breath. Therefore they cursed the
white doctor as futile, and flung his physic from the windows.

Rachael was glad to escape to the heights with Alexander. There it was
almost as cool as it should be in December, and she could watch for her
husband's sloop. He had gone with the first light wind, and there was
enough to bring him home, although with heavy sail. She forgot the
muttering negroes and the sickness below. Her servants had been
instructed to nurse and nourish where assistance was needed, and up here
there was nothing to do but wander with her friend and child through the
gay beauty of the terraced garden, or climb the stone steps to the cold
quiet depths of the forest.

At the end of a fortnight there was no sign of her husband's sloop, but
the wind was strengthening, and she decided to return home and make
ready for him. During the long drive she passed negroes in large
numbers, either walking toward Charles Town or standing in muttering
groups by the roadside. At one time the driveway was so thick with them
that her coach could not pass until the postilion laid about him with
his whip.

"This is very odd," she said to her nurse. "I have never seen anything
like this before."

"Me no t'ink he nothin'. All go tee tick--oh, dis pic'nee no keep till
one minit. Me no t'ink about he'n de road."

She lifted the child between her face and her mistress's eyes, and
Rachael saw that her hand trembled. "Can the negroes be rising?" she
wondered; and for a moment she was faint with terror, and prayed for
Hamilton's return.

But she was heroic by nature, and quickly recovered her poise. When she
arrived at home she sent the nurse to Charles Town on an errand, then
went directly to her bedroom, which was disconnected from the other
rooms, and called her three devoted maids, Rebecca, Flora, and Esther.
They came running at the sound of her voice, and she saw at once that
they were terrified and ready to cling to her garments.

"What is the matter?" she demanded. "Tell me at once."

"Me no know fo' sure," said Rebecca, "but me t'ink, t'ink, till me yell
in me tleep. Somethin' ter'ble go to happen. Me feel he in de air. All
de daddys, all de buddys, 'peak, 'peak, togedder all de time, an' look
so bad--an' de oby doctors put de curse ebberywheres. Me fine befo' de
gate dis mornin' one pudden', de mud an' oil an' horsehair, but me no
touch he. Me ask all de sissys me know, what comes, but he no 'peak. He
run out he tongue, and once he smack me ear. Oh, Mistress, take us back
to Sinkitts."

"But do you _know_ nothing?"

They shook their heads, but stared at her hopefully, for they believed
implicitly in her power to adjust all things.

"And my other slaves? Do you think they are faithful to me?"

"All in de town all de time. Me ask ebbery he tell me what comes, and he
say 'nothin,' but I no believe he."

"And has the Governor taken no notice?"

"De Gobbenor lord and all de noble Buckras go yis'day to Sinkitts. Take
de militia for one gran' parade in Bassetarr. Is de birfday to-morrow de
Gobbenor lord de Sinkitts. Up in de Great Houses no hear nothin', an'
all quiet on 'states till yes'day. Now comin' to town an' look so bad,
so bad!"

"Very well, then, the Governor and the militia must come back. Rebecca,
you are the most sensible as well as the weakest in the arms. You will
stay here to-night, and you will not falter for a moment. As soon as it
is dark Flora and Esther will row me across the channel, and I will send
the Buckra's agent on a fast horse with a note to the Governor. If the
other house servants return, you will tell them that I am ill and that
Flora and Esther are nursing me. You will lock the gates, and open them
to no one unless your Buckra should return. Do you understand?"

The slave rolled her eyes, but nodded. She might have defied the
Captain-General, but not one of the Fawcetts.

There were two hours before dark. Rachael was conscious of every nerve
in her body, and paced up and down the long line of rooms which
terminated in the library, until Alexander's legs were worn out trotting
after her, and he fell asleep on the floor. Twice she went to the roof
to look for Hamilton's sloop, but saw not a sail on the sea; and the
streets of Charles Town were packed with negroes. England sent no
soldiers to protect her Islands, and every free male between boyhood and
old age was forced by law to join the militia. It was doubtful if there
were a dozen muscular white men on Nevis that night, for the birthday of
a Governor was a fête of hilarities. Unless the militia returned that
night, the blacks, if they really were plotting vengeance, and she knew
their superstitions, would have burned every house and cane-field before

The brief twilight passed. The mist rolled down from the heights of
Nevis. Rachael, with Alexander in her arms, and followed by her maids,
stole along the shore through the thick cocoanut groves, meeting no one.
They were far from the town's centre, and all the blacks on the Island
seemed to be gathered there. The boat was beached, and it took the
combined efforts of the three women to launch it. When they pushed off,
the roar of the breakers and the heavy mist covered their flight. But
there was another danger, and the very physical strength of the slaves
departed before it. They had rowed their mistress about the roadstead
before St. Kitts a hundred times, but the close proximity of the reef so
terrified them that Rachael was obliged to take the oars; while Flora
caught Alexander in so convulsive an embrace that he awoke and protested
with all the vigour of his lungs. His mother's voice, to which he was
peculiarly susceptible, hushed him, and he held back his own, although
the gasping bosom on which he rested did not tend to soothe a nervous
child. But there were other ways of expressing outraged feelings, and he
kicked like a little steer.

Rachael herself was not too sure of her knowledge of the dangerous
channel, although she had crossed it many times with Hamilton; and the
mist was floating across to St. Kitts. The hollow boom of the reef
seemed so close that she expected to hear teeth in the boat every
moment, and she knew that far and wide the narrows bristled. She
wondered if her hair were turning white, and her straining nerves
quivered for a moment with a feminine regret; for she knew the power of
her beauty over Hamilton. But her arms kept their strength. Life had
taught her to endure more than a half-hour of mortal anxiety.

She reached the shore in safety, and Esther recovered her muscle and
agreed to run to the overlooker's house and send him, on his fleetest
horse, with her mistress's note to the Governor of Nevis. When the
others reached the house, a mile from the Narrows, the man had gone; and
Rachael could do no more. The overlookers wife mulled wine, and the
maids were soon asleep. Alexander refused to go to bed, and Rachael, who
was not in a disciplinary mood, led him out into the open to watch for
the boats of the Governor and his militia. There was no moon; they could
cross and land near Hamilton's house and overpower, without discharging
a gun, the negroes packed in Charles Town. If the Governor were prompt,
the blacks, even had they dispersed to fire the estates, would not have
time for havoc; and she knew the tendency of the negro to procrastinate.
They did not expect the Governor until late on the following day; they
could drink all night and light their torches at dawn when Nevis was
heavy in her last sleep. Nevertheless, Rachael watched the Island

Fortunately, Alexander possessed an inquiring mind, and she was obliged
to answer so many questions that the strain was relieved. They walked
amidst a wild and dismal scene. The hills were sterile and black. The
salt ponds, sunken far below the level of the sea, from lack of rain,
glittered white, but they were set with aloes and manchineel, and there
were low and muddy flats to be avoided. It was a new aspect of nature to
the child who had lived his four years amid the gay luxuriance of tropic
verdure, and he was mightily interested. Nevertheless, it was a long
hour before the overlooker returned with word that the Governor was on
his way to Nevis with the militia of both Islands--for St. Kitts was
quiet, its negroes having taken the drouth philosophically--and that her
husband was with them. He had arrived at Basseterre as the boats were
leaving; as a member of the Governor's staff, he had no choice. He had
sent her word, however, not to return to Nevis that night; and Rachael
and Alexander went down to the extreme point of the Island and sat there
through a cold night of bitter anxiety. With the dawn Hamilton came for

The negroes, surprised and overwhelmed, had surrendered without
resistance, and before they had left the town. They confessed that their
intention had been to murder every white on the Island, seize the
ammunition which was stored on the estates, and fire upon the militia as
it passed, on the following day. The ringleaders and obeah doctors were
either publicly executed or punished with such cruelty that the other
malcontents were too cowed to plan another rebellion; and the abundant
rains of the following autumn restored their faith in the white man.


When Alexander was five years old, James arrived, an object of much
interest to his elder brother, but a child of ordinary parts to most
beholders. He came during the last days of domestic tranquillity; for it
was but a few weeks later that Hamilton was obliged to announce to
Rachael that his fortunes, long tottering, had collapsed to their rotten
foundations. It was some time before she could accommodate her
understanding to the fact that there was nothing left, for even Levine
had not dared to lose his money, far less her own; and had she ever
given the subject of wealth a thought, she would have assumed that it
had roots in certain families which no adverse circumstance could
deplace. She had overheard high words between Archibald Hamn and her
husband in the library, but Hamilton's casual explanations had satisfied
her, and she had always disliked Archibald as a possible stepfather. Dr.
Hamilton had frequently looked grave after a conversation with his
kinsman, but Rachael was too unpractical to attribute his heavier moods
to anything but his advancing years.

When Hamilton made her understand that they were penniless, and that his
only means of supporting her was to accept an offer from Peter Lytton to
take charge of a cattle estate on St. Croix, Rachael's controlling
sensation was dismay that this man whom she had idolized and idealized,
who was the forgiven cause of her remarkable son's illegitimacy, was a
failure in his competition with other men. Money would come somehow, it
always had; but Hamilton dethroned, shoved out of the ranks of planters
and merchants, reduced to the status of one of his own overlookers,
almost was a new and strange being, and she dared not bid forth her
hiding thoughts.

Fortunately the details of moving made life impersonal and commonplace.
The three slaves whose future had been the last concern but one of Mary
Fawcett, were sent, wailing, to Archibald Hamn. Two of the others were
retained to wait upon the children, the rest sold with the old mahogany
furniture and the library. The Hamiltons set sail for St. Croix on a day
in late April. The sympathy of their friends had been expressed in more
than one offer of a lucrative position, but Hamilton was intensely
proud, and too mortified at his failure to remain obscure among a people
who had been delighted to accept his princely and exclusive hospitality.
On St. Croix he was almost unknown.

They made the voyage in thirty-two hours, but as the slaves were ill,
after the invariable habit of their colour, Rachael had little respite
from her baby, or Hamilton from Alexander, whose restless legs and
enterprising mind kept him in constant motion; and the day began at five
o'clock. There was no opportunity for conversation, and Hamilton was
grateful to the miserable mustees. He had the tact to let his wife
readjust herself to her damaged idols without weak excuses and a
pleading which would have distressed her further, but he was glad to be
spared intimate conversation with her.

As they sailed into the bright green waters before Frederikstadt, the
sun blazed down upon the white town on the white plain with a vicious
energy which Rachael had never seen on Nevis during the hottest and most
silent months of the year. She closed her eyes and longed for the cool
shallows of the harbour, and even Alexander ceased to watch the flying
fish dart like silver blades over the water, and was glad to be stowed
comfortably into one of the little deck-houses. As for the slaves,
weakened by illness, they wept and refused to gather themselves

But Rachael's soul, which had felt faint for many days, rose triumphant
in the face of this last affliction. Like all West Indians, she hated
extreme heat, and during those months on her own Islands when the trades
hibernated, rarely left the house. She remembered little of St. Croix.
Her imagination had disassociated itself from all connected with it, but
now it burst into hideous activity and pictured interminable years of
scorching heat and blinding glare. For a moment she descended to the
verge of hysteria, from which she struggled with so mighty an effort
that it vitalized her spirit for the ordeal of her new life; and when
Hamilton, cursing himself, came to assist her to land, she was able to
remark that she recalled the beauty of Christianstadt, and to
anathematize her sea-green maids.

The trail of Spain is over all the islands, and on St. Croix has left
its picturesque mark in the heavy arcades which front the houses in the
towns. Behind these arcades one can pass from street to street with
brief egress into the awful downpour of the sun, and they give to both
towns an effect of architectural beauty. At that time palms and
cocoanuts grew in profusion along the streets of Frederikstadt and in
the gardens, tempering the glare of the sun on the coral.

Peter Lytton's coach awaited the Hamiltons, and at six o'clock they
started for their new home. The long driveway across the Island was set
with royal palms, beyond which rolled vast fields of cane. St. Croix was
approaching the height of her prosperity, and almost every inch of her
fertile acres was under cultivation. They rolled up and over every hill,
the heavy stone houses, with their negro hamlets and mills, rising like
half-submerged islands, unless they crowned a height. The roads swarmed
with Africans, who bowed profoundly to the strangers in the fine coach,
grinning an amiable welcome. Surrounded by so generous a suggestion of
hospitality and plenty, with the sun low in the west, the spirits of the
travellers rose, and Rachael thought with more composure upon the
morrow's encounter with her elder sisters. She knew them very slightly,
their husbands less. When her connection with Hamilton began,
correspondence between them had ceased; but like others they had
accepted the relation, and for the last three years Hamilton had been a
welcome guest at their houses when business took him to St. Croix. Mrs.
Lytton had been the first to whom he had confided his impending failure,
and she, remembering her mother's last letter and profoundly pitying the
young sister who seemed marked for misfortune, had persuaded her husband
to offer Hamilton the management of his grazing estates on the eastern
end of the Island. She wrote to Rachael, assuring her of welcome, and
reminding her that her story was unknown on St. Croix, that she would be
accepted without question as Hamilton's wife and their sister. But
Rachael knew that the truth would come out as soon as they had attracted
the attention of their neighbours, and she had seen enough of the world
to be sure that what people tolerated in the wealthy they censured in
the unimportant. To depend upon her sisters' protection instead of her
own lifelong distinction, galled her proud spirit. For the first time
she understood how powerless Hamilton was to protect her. The glamour of
that first year when nothing mattered was gone for ever. She had two
children, one of them uncommon, and they were to encounter life without
name or property. True, Levine might die, or Hamilton make some
brilliant coup, but she felt little of the buoyancy of hope as they left
the cane-fields and drove among the dark hills to their new home.

The house and outbuildings were on a high eminence, surrounded on three
sides by hills. Below was a lagoon, which was separated from the sea by
a deep interval of tidal mud set thick with mangroves. The outlet
through this swamp was so narrow that a shark which had found its way in
when young had grown too large to return whence he came, and was the
solitary and discontented inhabitant of the lagoon. The next morning
Rachael, rising early and walking on the terrace with Alexander, was
horrified to observe him warming his white belly in the sun. On three
sides of the lagoon was a thick grove of manchineels, hung with their
deadly apples; here and there a palm, which drooped as if in discord
with its neighbours. It was an uncheerful place for a woman with terror
and tumult in her soul, but the house was large and had been made
comfortable by her brother-in-laws' slaves.

Mrs. Lytton and Mrs. Mitchell drove over for the eleven o'clock
breakfast. They were very kind, but they were many years older than the
youngest of their family, proudly conscious of their virtue,
uncomprehending of the emotions which had nearly wrenched Rachael's soul
from her body more than once. Moreover, Mrs. Mitchell was the physical
image of Mary Fawcett without the inheritance of so much as the old
lady's temper; and there were moments, as she sat chattering amiably
with Alexander, with whom she immediately fell in love, when Rachael
could have flown at and throttled her because she was not her mother.
Mrs. Lytton was delicate and nervous, but more reserved, and Rachael
liked her better. Nevertheless, she was heartily glad to be rid of both
of them, and reflected with satisfaction that she was to live on the
most isolated part of the Island. She had begged them to ask no one to
call, and for months she saw little of anybody except her family.

Her household duties were many, and she was forced at once to alter her
lifelong relation to domestic economics. Hamilton's salary was six
hundred pieces of eight, and for a time the keeping of accounts and the
plans for daily disposal of the small income furnished almost the only
subjects of conversation between her husband and herself. His duties
kept him on horseback during all but the intolerable hours of the day,
and until their new life had become a commonplace they were fortunate
in seeing little of each other.

Alexander long since had upset his father's purpose to defer the opening
of his mind until the age of seven. He had taught himself the rudiments
of education by such ceaseless questioning of both his parents that they
were glad to set him a daily task and keep him at it as long as
possible. In this new home he had few resources besides his little books
and his mother, who gave him all her leisure. There were no white
playmates, and he was not allowed to go near the lagoon, lest the shark
get him or he eat of forbidden fruit. Just after his sixth birthday,
however, several changes occurred in his life: Peter Lytton sent him a
pony, his father killed the shark and gave him a boat, and he made the
acquaintance of the Rev. Hugh Knox.

This man, who was to play so important a part in the life of Alexander
Hamilton, was himself a personality. At this time but little over
thirty, he had, some years since, come to the West Indies with a
classical library and a determination to rescue the planters from that
hell which awaits those who drowse through life in a clime where it is
always summer when it is not simply and blazingly West Indian. He soon
threw the mantle of charity over the patient planters, and became the
boon companion of many; but he made converts and was mightily proud of
them. His was the zeal of the converted. When he arrived in the United
States, in 1753, young, fresh from college, enthusiastic, and handsome,
he found favour at once in the eyes of the Rev. Dr. Rogers of Middletown
on the Delaware, to whom he had brought a letter of introduction.
Through the influence of this eminent divine, he obtained a school and
many friends. The big witty Irishman was a welcome guest at the popular
tavern, and was not long establishing himself as the leader of its
hilarities. He was a peculiarly good mimic, and on Saturday nights his
boon companions fell into the habit of demanding his impersonation of
some character locally famous. One night he essayed a reproduction of
Dr. Rogers, then one of the most celebrated men of his cloth. Knox
rehearsed the sermon of the previous Sunday, not only with all the
divine's peculiarity of gesture and inflection, but almost word for
word; for his memory was remarkable. At the start his listeners
applauded violently, then subsided into the respectful silence they were
wont to accord Dr. Rogers; at the finish they stole out without a word.
As for Knox, he sat alone, overwhelmed with the powerful sermon he had
repeated, and by remorse for his own attempted levity. His emotional
Celtic nature was deeply impressed. A few days later he disappeared, and
was not heard of again until, some months after, Dr. Rogers learned that
he was the guest of the Rev. Aaron Burr at Newark, and studying for the
church. He was ordained in due course, converted his old companions,
then set sail for St. Croix.

Hamilton met him at Peter Lytton's, talked with him the day through, and
carried him home to dinner. After that he became little less than an
inmate of the household; a room was furnished for him, and when he did
not occupy it, he rode over several times a week. His books littered
every table and shelf.

Alexander was his idol, and he was the first to see that the boy was
something more than brilliant. Hamilton had accepted his son's
cleverness as a matter of course, and Rachael, having a keen contempt
for fatuous mothers, hardly had dared admit to herself that her son was
to other boys as a star to pebbles. When Knox, who had undertaken his
education at once, assured her that he must distinguish himself if he
lived, probably in letters, life felt almost fresh again, although she
regretted his handicap the more bitterly. As for Knox, his patience was
inexhaustible. Alexander would have everything resolved into its
elements, and was merciless in his demand for information, no matter
what the thermometer. He had no playmates until he was nine, and by that
time he had much else to sober him. Of the ordinary pleasures of
childhood he had scant knowledge.

Rachael wondered at the invariable sunniness of his nature,--save when
he flew into a rage,--for under the buoyancy of her own had always been
a certain melancholy. Before his birth she had gone to the extremes of
happiness and grief, her normal relation to life almost forgotten. But
the sharpened nerves of the child manifested themselves in acute
sensibilities and an extraordinary precocity of intellect, never in
morbid or irritable moods. He was excitable, and had a high and
sometimes furious temper, but even his habit of study never extinguished
his gay and lively spirits. On the other hand, beneath the surface
sparkle of his mind was a British ruggedness and tenacity, and a
stubborn oneness of purpose, whatever might be the object, with which no
lighter mood interfered. All this Rachael lived long enough to discover
and find compensation in, and as she mastered the duties of her new life
she companioned the boy more and more. James was a good but
uninteresting baby, who made few demands upon her, and was satisfied
with his nurse. She never pretended to herself that she loved him as she
did Alexander, for aside from the personality of her first-born, he was
the symbol and manifest of her deepest living.

Although Rachael was monotonously conscious of the iron that had impaled
her soul, she was not quite unhappy at this time, and she never ceased
to love Hamilton. Whatever his lacks and failures, nothing could destroy
his fascination as a man. His love for her, although tranquillized by
time, was still strong enough to keep alive his desire' to please her,
and he thought of her as his wife always. He felt the change in her, and
his soul rebelled bitterly at the destruction of his pedestal and halo,
and all that fiction had meant to both of them; but he respected her
reserve, and the subject never came up between them. He knew that she
never would love any one else, that she still loved him passionately,
despite the shattered ideal of him; and he consoled himself with the
reflection that even in giving him less than her entire store, she gave
him, merely by being herself, more than he had thought to find in any
woman. His courteous attentions to her had never relaxed, and in time
the old companionship was resumed; they read and discussed as in their
other home; but this their little circle was widened by two, Alexander
and Hugh Knox. The uninterrupted intimacy of their first years was not
to be resumed.

They saw little of the society of St. Croix. In 1763 Christiana Huggins,
visiting the Peter Lyttons, married her host's brother, James, and
settled on the Island. She drove occasionally to the lonely estate in
the east, but she had a succession of children and little time for old
duties. Rachael exchanged calls at long intervals with her sisters and
their intimate friends, the Yards, Lillies, Crugers, Stevens, Langs, and
Goodchilds, but she had been too great a lady to strive now for social
position, practically dependent as she was on the charity of her


In the third year of their life on St. Croix, Rachael discovered that
Peter Lytton was dissatisfied with Hamilton, and retained him to his own
detriment, out of sympathy for herself and her children. From that time
she had few tranquil moments. It was as if, like the timid in the
hurricane season, she sat constantly with ears strained for that first
loud roar in the east. She realized then that the sort of upheaval which
shatters one's economic life is but the precursor of other upheavals,
and she thought on the unknown future until her strong soul was faint

Hamilton was one of those men whose gifts are ruined by their impulses,
in whom the cultivation of sober judgement is interrupted by the
excesses of a too sanguine temperament. He was honourable, and always
willing to admit his mistakes, but years and repeated failure did little
toward balancing his faults and virtues. In time he wore out the
patience of even those who loved and admired him. His wife remained his
one loyal and unswerving friend, but her part in his life was near its
finish. The day came when Peter Lytton, exasperated once too often,
after an ill-considered sale of valuable stock, let fly his temper, and
further acceptance of his favour was out of the question. Hamilton,
after a scene with his wife, in which his agony and remorse quickened
all the finest passions in her own nature, sailed for the Island of St.
Vincent, in the hope of finding employment with one of his former
business connections. He had no choice but to leave his wife and
children dependent upon her relatives until he could send for them; and
a week later Rachael was forced to move to Peter Lytton's.

Her brother-in-law's house was very large. She was given an upstairs
wing of it and treated with much consideration, but this final ignominy
broke her haughty spirit, and she lost interest in herself. She was
thankful that her children were not to grow up in want, that Alexander
was able to continue his studies with Hugh Knox. He was beyond her now
in everything but French, in which they read and talked together daily.
She also discussed constantly with him those heroes of history
distinguished not only for great achievements, but for sternest honour.
She dreamed of his future greatness, and sometimes of her part in it.
But her inner life was swathed like a mummy.

To Alexander the change would have been welcome had he understood his
mother less. But the ordinary bright boy of nine is acute and observing,
and this boy of Rachael's, with his extraordinary intuitions, his
unboyish brain, his sympathetic and profound affection for his mother,
felt with her and criticised his father severely. To him failure was
incomprehensible, then, as later, for self-confidence and indomitability
were parts of his equipment; and that a man of his father's age and
experience, to say nothing of his education and intellect, should so
fail in the common relation of life, and break the heart and pride of
the uncommonest of women, filled him with a deep disappointment, which,
no doubt, was the first step toward the early loss of certain illusions.

Otherwise his life was vastly improved. He soon became intimate with
boys of neighbouring estates, Edward and Thomas Stevens, and Benjamin
Yard, and for a time they all studied together under Hugh Knox. At first
there was discord, for Alexander would have led a host of cherubims or
had naught to do with them, and these boys were clever and spirited.
There were rights of word and fist in the lee of Mr. Lytton's barn,
where interference was unlikely; but the three succumbed speedily, not
alone to the powerful magnetism in little Hamilton's mind, and to his
active fists, but because he invariably excited passionate attachment,
unless he encountered jealous hate. When his popularity with these boys
was established they adored the very blaze of his temper, and when he
formed them into a soldier company and marched them up and down the palm
avenue for a morning at a time, they never murmured, although they were
like to die of the heat and unaccustomed exertion. Neddy Stevens, who
resembled him somewhat in face, was the closest of these boyhood

Alexander was a great favourite with Mr. Lytton, who took him to ride
every morning; Mrs. Lytton preferred James, who was a comfortable child
to nurse; but Mrs. Mitchell was the declared slave of her lively nephew,
and sent her coach for him on Saturday mornings. As for Hugh Knox, he
never ceased to whittle at the boy's ambition and point it toward a
great place in modern letters. Had he been born with less sound sense
and a less watchful mother, it is appalling to think what a brat he
would have been; but as it was, the spoiling but fostered a
self-confidence which was half the battle in after years.

Hamilton never returned. His letters to his wife spoke always of the
happiness of their final reunion, of belief in the future. His brothers
had sent him money, and he hoped they would help him to recover his
fortunes. But two years passed and he was still existing on a small
salary, his hopes and his impassioned tenderness were stereotyped.
Rachael's experience with Hamilton had developed her insight. She knew
that man requires woman to look after her own fuel. If she cannot, he
may carry through life the perfume of a sentiment, and a tender regret,
but it grows easy and more easy to live without her. It was a long while
before she forced her penetrating vision round to the certainty that she
never should see Hamilton again, and then she realized how strong hope
had been, that her interest in herself was not dead, that her love must
remain quick through interminable years of monotony and humiliation. For
a time she was so alive that she went close to killing herself, but she
fought it out as she had fought through other desperate crises, and
wrenched herself free of her youth, to live for the time when her son's
genius should lift him so high among the immortals that his birth would
matter as little as her own hours of agony. But the strength that
carried her triumphantly through that battle was fed by the last of her
vitality, and it was not long before she knew that she must die.

Alexander knew it first. The change in his mother was so sudden, the
earthen hue of her white skin, the dimming of her splendid eyes, spoke
so unmistakably of some strange collapse of the vital forces, that it
seemed to the boy who worshipped her as if all the noises of the
Universe were shrieking his anguish. At the same time he fought for an
impassive exterior, then bolted from the house and rode across the
Island for a doctor. The man came, prescribed for a megrim, and
Alexander did not call him again; nor did he mention his mother's
condition to the rest of the family. She was in the habit of remaining
in her rooms for weeks at a time, and she had her own attendants. Mrs.
Lytton was an invalid, and Peter Lytton, while ready to give of his
bounty to his wife's sister, had too little in common with Rachael to
seek her companionship. Alexander felt the presence of death too surely
to hope, and was determined to have his mother to himself during the
time that remained. He confided in Hugh Knox, then barely left the

Just before her collapse Rachael was still a beautiful woman. She was
only thirty-two when she died. Her face, except when she forced her
brain to activity, was sad and worn, but the mobile beauty of the
features was unimpaired, and her eyes were luminous, even at their
darkest. Her head was always proudly erect, and nature had given her a
grace and a dash which survived broken fortunes and the death of her
coquetry. No doubt this is the impression of her which Alexander carried
through life, for those last two months passed to the sound of falling
ruins, on which he was too sensible to dwell when they had gone into the
control of his will.

After she had admitted to Alexander that she understood her condition,
they seldom alluded to the subject, although their conversation was as
rarely impersonal. The house stood high, and Rachael's windows commanded
one of the most charming views on the Island. Below was the green
valley, with the turbaned women moving among the cane, then the long
white road with its splendid setting of royal palms, winding past a hill
with groves of palms, marble fountains and statues, terraces covered
with hibiscus and orchid, and another Great House on its summit. Far to
the right, through an opening in the hills, was a glimpse of the sea.

Rachael lay on a couch in a little balcony during much of the soft
winter day, and talked to Alexander of her mother and her youth, finally
of his father, touching lightly on the almost forgotten episode with
Levine. All that she did not say his creative brain divined, and when
she told him what he had long suspected, that his mother's name was
unknown to the Hamiltons of Grange, he accepted the fact as but one more
obstacle to be overthrown in the battle with life which he had long
known he was to fight unaided. To criticise his mother never occurred to
him; her control of his heart and imagination was too absolute. His only
regret was that she could not live until he was able to justify her. The
audacity and boldness of his nature were stimulated by the prospect of
this sharp battle with the world's most cherished convention, and he was
fully aware of all that he owed to his mother. When he told her this she

"I regret nothing, even though it has brought me to this. In the first
place, it is not in me to do anything so futile. In the second place, I
have been permitted to live in every part of my nature, and how many
women can say that? In the third, you are in the world, and if I could
live I should see you the honoured of all men. I die with regret because
you need me for many years to come, and I have suffered so much that I
never could suffer again. Remember always that you are to be a great
man, not merely a successful one. Your mind and your will are capable of
all things. Never try for the second best, and that means to put your
immediate personal desire aside when it encounters one of the ideals of
your time. Unless you identify yourself with the great principles of the
world you will be a failure, because your mind is created in harmony
with them, and if you use it for smaller purposes it will fail as surely
as if it tried to lie or steal. Your passions are violent, and you have
a blackness of hate in you which will ruin you or others according to
the control you acquire over it; so be warned. But you never can fail
through any of the ordinary defects of character. You are too bold and
independent to lie, even if you had been born with any such disposition;
you are honourable and tactful, and there is as little doubt of your
fascination and your power over others. But remember--use all these
great forces when your ambition is hottest, then you can stumble upon no
second place. As for your heart, it will control your head sometimes,
but your insatiable brain will accomplish so much that it can afford to
lose occasionally; and the warmth of your nature will make you so many
friends, that I draw from it more strength to die than from all your
other gifts. Leave this Island as soon as you can. Ah, if I could give
you but a few thousands to force the first doors!"

She died on the 25th of February, 1768. Her condition had been known for
some days, and her sisters had shed many tears, aghast and deeply
impressed at the tragic fate of this youngest, strangest, and most
gifted of their father's children. Unconsciously they had expected her
to do something extraordinary, and it was yet too soon to realize that
she had. His aunts had announced far and wide that Alexander was the
brightest boy on the Island, but that a nation lay folded in his saucy
audacious brain they hardly could be expected to know.


The Great House of Peter Lytton was hung with white from top to bottom,
and every piece of furniture looked as if the cold wing of death had
touched it. A white satin gown, which had come from London for Rachael
six years before,--just too late, for she never went to a ball
again,--was taken from her mahogany press and wrapped about her wasted
body. Her magnificent hair was put out of sight in a cap of blond lace.

The fashionable world of St. Croix, which had seen little of Rachael in
life, came to the ceremonious exit of her body. They sat along the four
sides of the large drawing-room, looking like a black dado against the
white walls, and the Rev. Cecil Wray Goodchild, the pastor of the larger
number of that sombre flock, sonorously read the prayers for the dead.
Hugh Knox felt that his was the right to perform that ceremony; but he
was a Presbyterian, and Peter Lytton was not one of his converts. He was
there, however, and so were several Danes, whose colourless faces and
heads completed the symbolization encircling the coffin. People of
Nevis, St. Christopher, and St. Croix were there, the sisters born of
the same mother, a kinsman of Hamilton's, himself named James Hamilton,
these bleached people of the North, whose faces, virtuous as they were,
would have seemed to the dead woman to shed the malignant aura of
Levine's,--and the boy for whom the sacrificial body had been laid on
the altar. He paid his debt in wretchedness then and there, and stood by
the black pall which covered his mother, feeling a hundred years older
than the brother who sat demurely on Mrs. Lytton's agitated lap.

When Mr. Goodchild closed his book, the slave women entered with silver
pitchers containing mulled wines, porter mixed with sugar and spice,
madeira, and port wine. Heaped high on silver salvers were pastries and
"dyer bread," wrapped in white paper sealed with black wax. The guests
refreshed themselves deeply, then followed the coffin, which was borne
on the shoulders of the dead woman's brothers and their closest
friends, across the valley to the private burying-ground of the Lyttons.
Old James Lytton was placed beside her in the following year, and ten
years later a child of Christiana Huggins, the wife of his son. The cane
grows above their graves to-day.


Alexander went home with Mrs. Mitchell, and it was long before he
returned to Peter Lytton's. His favourite aunt was delighted to get him,
and her husband, for whom Alexander had no love, was shortly to sail on
one of his frequent voyages.

Mrs. Mitchell had a winter home in Christianstadt, for she loved the gay
life of the little capital, and her large house, on the corner of King
and Strand streets, was opened almost as often as Government House. This
pile, with its imposing façade, represented to her the fulfilment of
worldly ambitions and splendour. There was nothing to compare with it on
Nevis or St. Kitts, nor yet on St. Thomas; and her imagination or memory
gave her nothing in Europe to rival it. When Government House was closed
she felt as if the world were eating bread and cheese. The Danes were
not only the easiest and most generous of rulers, but they entertained
with a royal contempt of pieces of eight, and their adopted children had
neither the excuse nor the desire to return to their native isles.

Christianstadt, although rising straight from the harbour, has the
picturesque effect of a high mountain-village. As the road across the
Island finds its termination in King Street, the perceptible decline and
the surrounding hills, curving in a crescent to the unseen shore a mile
away, create the illusion. On the left the town straggles away in an
irregular quarter for the poor, set thick with groves of cocoanut and
palm. On the right, and parallel with the main road, is Company Street,
and above is the mountain studded with great white stone houses,
softened by the lofty roofs of the royal palm. All along King Street the
massive houses stand close together, each with its arcade and its
curious outside staircase of stone which leads to an upper balcony where
one may catch the breeze and watch the leisures of tropic life. Almost
every house has a court opening into a yard surrounded by the
overhanging balconies of three sides of the building; and here the
guinea fowl screech their matins, the roosters crow all night, there is
always a negro asleep under a cocoanut tree, and a flame of colour from
potted plants.

Down by the sea is the red fort, built on a bluff, and commanding a
harbour beautiful to look upon, with its wooded island, its sharp high
points, its sombre swamps covered with lacing mangroves, but locked from
all the world but that which can come in sailing ships, by the coral
reef on which so many craft have gone to pieces.

From Alexander's high window in Thomas Mitchell's house, he could see
the lively Park behind the Fort; the boats sail over from the blue peaks
of St. Thomas and St. John, the long white line of the sounding reef.
Above the walls of Government House was the high bold curve of the
mountain with its dazzling façades, its glitter of green. In the King
Street of that day gentlemen in knee breeches and lace shirts, their
hair in a powdered queue, were as familiar objects as turbaned blacks
and Danes in uniform. After riding over their plantations "to hear the
cane grow," they almost invariably brought up in town to talk over
prospects with the merchants, or to meet each other at some more jovial
resort. Sometimes they came clattering down the long road in a coach and
four, postilions shouting at the pic'nees in the road, swerving, and
halting so suddenly in some courtyard, that only a planter, accustomed
to this emotional method of travel, could keep his seat. Ordinarily he
preferred his horse, perhaps because it told no tales.

Thomas Mitchell had made his large fortune in the traffic of slaves, and
was on terms of doubtful courtesy with Peter Lytton, who disapproved the
industry. Blacks were by no means his only source of revenue; he had
one of the two large general stores of the Island--the other was
Nicholas Cruger's--and plantations of cane, whose yield in sugar,
molasses, and rum never failed him. He was not a pleasing man in his
family, and did not extend the hospitality of its roof to Alexander with
a spontaneous warmth. His own children were married, and he did not look
back upon the era of mischievous boys with sufficient enthusiasm to
prompt him to adopt another. He yielded to his wife's voluble
supplications because domestic harmony was necessary to his content, and
Mistress Mitchell had her ways of upsetting it. Alexander was
immediately too busy with his studies to pay attention to the
indifferent grace with which Mr. Mitchell accepted his lot, and,
fortunately, this industrious merchant was much away from home. Hugh
Knox, as the surest means of diverting the boy from his grief, put him
at his books the day after he arrived in Christianstadt. His own house
was on Company Street, near the woods out of which the town seemed to
spring; and in his cool library he gathered his boys daily, and crammed
their brains with Latin and mathematics. The boys had met at Peter
Lytton's before, but Knox easily persuaded them to the new arrangement,
which was as grateful to him--he was newly married--as to Alexander.
When the lessons were over he gave his favourite pupil a book and an
easy-chair, or made experiments in chemistry with him until it was cool
enough to ride or row. In the evening Alexander had his difficult
lessons to prepare, and when he tumbled into bed at midnight he was too
healthy not to sleep soundly. He spent two days of every week with his
friend Ned Stevens, on a plantation where there were lively people and
many horses. Gradually the heaviness of his grief sank of its weight,
the buoyancy and vivacity of his mind were released, the eager sparkle
returned to his eyes. He did not cease to regret his mother, nor
passionately to worship her memory; but he was young, the future was an
unresting magnet to his ambitious mind, devoted friends did their
utmost, and his fine strong brain, eager for novelty and knowledge,
opened to new impressions, closed with inherent philosophy to what was
beyond recall. So passed Rachael Levine.

A year later his second trial befell him. Ned Stevens, the adored, set
sail for New York to complete his education at King's College. Alexander
strained his eyes after the sails of the ship for an hour, then burst
unceremoniously into the presence of Hugh Knox.

"Tell me quick," he exclaimed; "how can I make two thousand pieces of
eight? I must go to college. Why didn't my uncles send me with Neddy? He
had no wish to go. He swore all day yesterday at the prospect of six
years of hard work and no more excuses for laziness. I am wild to go.
Why could it not have been I?"

"That's a curious way the world has, and you'll be too big a philosopher
in a few years to ask questions like that. If you want the truth, I've
wrangled with Peter Lytton,--it's no use appealing to Tom Mitchell,--but
he's a bit close, as you know, when it actually comes to putting his
hand in his pocket. He didn't send any of his own sons to New York or
England, and never could see why anyone else did. Schooling, of course,
and he always had a tutor and a governess out from England; but what the
devil does a planter want of a college education? I argued that I
couldn't for the life of me see the makings of a planter in you, but
that by fishing industriously among your intellects I'd found a certain
amount of respectable talent, and I thought it needed more training than
I could give it; that I was nearing the end of my rope, in fact. Then he
asked me what a little fellow like you would do with a college education
after you got it, for he couldn't stand the idea of you trying to earn
your living in a foreign city, where there was ice and snow on the
ground in winter; and when I suggested that you might stay on in the
college and teach, if you were afraid of being run over or frozen to
death in the street, he said there was no choice between a miserable
teacher's life and a planter's, and he'd leave you enough land to start
you in life. I cursed like a planter, and left the house. But he loves
you, and if you plead with him he might give way."

"I'd do anything else under heaven that was reasonable to get to New
York but ask any man for money. Peter Lytton knows that I want learning
more than all the other boys on this island; and if I'm little, I've
broken in most of his colts and have never hesitated to fight. He finds
his pathos in his purse. Why can't I make two thousand pieces of eight?"

"You'd be so long at it, poor child, that it would be too late to enter
college; for there's a long apprenticeship to serve before you get a
salary. But you must go. I've thought, thought about it, and I'll think
more." He almost wished he had not married; but as he had no other cause
to regret his venture, even his interest in young Hamilton did not urge
him to deprive his little family of the luxuries so necessary in the
West Indies. Economy on his salary would mean a small house instead of
large rooms where one could forget the heat; curtailment of the
voluminous linen wardrobes so soon demolished on the stones of the
river; surrender of coach and horses. He trusted to a moment of sudden
insight on the part of Peter Lytton, assisted by his own eloquent
argument; and his belief in Alexander's destiny never wavered. Once he
approached Mrs. Mitchell, for he knew she had money of her own; but, as
he had expected, she went into immediate hysterics at the suggestion to
part with her idol, and he hastily retreated.

Alexander turned over every scheme of making money his fertile brain
conceived, and went so far as to ask his aunt to send him to New York,
where he could work in one of the West Indian houses, and attend college
by some special arrangement. He, too, retreated before Mrs. Mitchell's
agitation, but during the summer another cause drove him to work, and
without immediate reference to the wider education.

Mr. Mitchell was laid up with the gout and spent the summer on his
plantation. His slaves fled at the sound of his voice, his wife wept
incessantly at this the heaviest of her life's trials, and it was not
long before Alexander was made to feel his dependence so keenly by the
irascible planter that he leaped on his horse one day and galloped five
miles under the hot sun to Lytton's Fancy.

"I want to work," he announced, with his usual breathless impetuosity
when excited, bursting in upon Mr. Lytton, who was mopping his face
after his siesta. "Put me at anything. I don't care what, except in
Uncle Mitchell's store. I won't work for him."

Mr. Lytton laughed with some satisfaction. "So you two have come to
loggerheads? Tom Mitchell, well, is insufferable. With gout in him he
must bristle with every damnable trait in the human category. Come back
and live with me," he added, in a sudden burst of sympathy, for the boy
looked hot and tired and dejected; and his diminutive size appealed
always to Peter Lytton, who was six feet two. "You're a fine little
chap, but I doubt you're strong enough for hard work, and you love your
books. Come here and read all day if you like. When you're grown I'll
make you manager of all my estates. Gad! I'd be glad of an honest one!
The last time I went to England, that devil, Tom Collins, drank every
bottle of my best port, smashed my furniture, broke the wind of every
horse I had, and kept open house for every scamp and loafer on the
Island, or that came to port. How old are you--twelve? I'll turn
everything over to you in three years. You've more sense now than any
boy I ever saw. Three years hence, if you continue to improve, you'll be
a man, and I'll be only too glad to put the whole thing in your hands."

Alexander struggled with an impulse to ask his uncle to send him to
college, but not only did pride strike at the words, but he reflected
with some cynicism that the affection he inspired invariably expressed
itself in blatant selfishness, and that he might better appeal to the
enemies he had made to send him from the Island. He shook his head.

"I'll remain idle no longer," he said. "I'm tired of eating bread that's
given me. I'd rather eat yours than his, but I've made up my mind to
work. What can you find for me now?"

"You are too obstinate to argue with in August. Cruger wants a reliable
clerk. I heard him say so yesterday. He'll take you if I say the word,
and give you a little something in the way of salary."

"I like Mr. Cruger," said Alexander, eagerly, "and so did my mother."

"He's a kind chap, but he'll work you to death, for he's always in a
funk that Tom Mitchell'll get ahead of him. But you cannot do better. I
have no house in town, but you can ride the distance between here and
Christianstadt night and morning, if my estimable brother-in-law--whom
may the gout convince of his sins--is too much for you."

But Alexander had no desire to return to the house where he had passed
those last terrible weeks with his mother, and Mrs. Mitchell begged him
on her knees to forgive the invalid, and sent him to the house in
Christianstadt, where he would be alone until December; by that time,
please God, Tom Mitchell would be on his way to Jamaica. But Alexander
had little further trouble with that personage. Mr. Mitchell had his
susceptibilities; he was charmed with a boy of twelve who was too proud
to accept the charity of wealthy relatives and determined to make his
living. Alexander entered Mr. Cruger's store in October. Mr. Mitchell
did not leave the Island again until the following spring, and moved to
town in November. He and Alexander discussed the prospects of rum,
molasses, and sugar, the price of mahogany, of oats, cheese, bread, and
flour, the various Island and American markets, until Mrs. Mitchell left
the table. Her husband proudly told his acquaintance that his nephew,
Alexander Hamilton, was destined to become the cleverest merchant in the


But Alexander had small liking for his employment. He had as much
affinity with the sordid routine of a general store and counting-house
as Tom Mitchell had with the angels. But pride and ambition carried him
through most of the distasteful experiences of his life. He would come
short in nothing, and at that tender age, when his relatives were
prepared to forgive his failures with good-humoured tact, he was willing
to sacrifice even his books to clerical success. He soon discovered that
he had that order of mind which concentrates without effort upon what
ever demands its powers,--masters the detail of it with incredible
swiftness. At first he was a general clerk, and attended to the loading
and unloading of Mr. Cruger's sloops; after a time he was made
bookkeeper; it was not long before he was in charge of the
counting-house. He got back to his books in time--for business in the
Islands finishes at four o'clock--and when he had learned all the Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, and mathematics Hugh Knox could teach him, he spent his
leisure hours with Pope, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Milton, Plato, and the
few other English poets and works of Greek philosophers which Knox
possessed, as well as several abridged histories of England and Europe.
These interested him more than aught else, purely literary as his
proclivities were supposed to be, and he read and reread them, and
longed for some huge work in twenty volumes which should reveal Europe
to his searching vision. But this was when he was fourteen, and had
almost forgotten what the life of a mere boy was like. Shortly after he
entered Mr. Cruger's store he wrote his famous letter to young Stevens.
It will bear republication here, and its stilted tone, so different from
the concise simplicity of his business letters, was no doubt designed to
produce an effect on the mind of his more fortunate friend. He became a
master of style, and before he was twenty; but there is small indication
of the achievement in this letter, lovable as it is:--

     ST. CROIX, November 11, 1769.

     DEAR EDWARD, This serves to acknowledge the receipt of yours per
     Capt. Lowndes, which was delivered me yesterday The truth of Capt.
     Lightbowen and Lowndes' information is now verified by the presence
     of your father and sister, for whose safe arrival I pray, and that
     they may convey that satisfaction to your soul, that must naturally
     flow from the sight of absent friends in health; and shall for news
     this way, refer you to them.

     As to what you say, respecting your soon having the happiness of
     seeing us all, I wish for an accomplishment of your hopes, provided
     they are concomitant with your welfare, otherwise not; though doubt
     whether I shall be present or not, for to confess my weakness, Ned,
     my ambition is prevalent, so that I contemn the grovelling
     condition of a clerk, or the like, to which my fortune condemns me,
     and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt
     my station. I am confident, Ned, that my youth excludes me from any
     hopes of immediate preferment, nor do I desire it; but I mean to
     prepare the way for futurity. I'm no philosopher, you see, and may
     be justly said to build castles in the air; my folly makes me
     ashamed, and beg you'll conceal it; yet, Neddy, we have seen such
     schemes successful, when the projector is constant. I shall
     conclude by saying I wish there was a war.

     I am, Dear Edward, Yours


     P.S. I this moment received yours by William Smith, and pleased to
     see you give such close application to study.

He hoped that in time Mr. Cruger would find it necessary to send him to
New York; but his employer found him too useful on St. Croix, and
recognized his abilities, not to the extent of advancing his
intellectual interests, but of taxing and developing his capacity for
business and its heavy responsibilities. In the following year he placed
him in temporary charge of his branch house, in Frederikstadt, and
Alexander never wished for war so desperately as when he stood under the
arcade on Bay Street and stared out at the shallow green roadstead and
the inimitable ocean beyond. Frederikstadt was a hamlet compared to
Christianstadt, and unredeemed--the arcades excepting--by any of the
capital's architectural or natural beauty. Alexander believed it to be
the hottest, dullest, and most depressing spot on either hemisphere. The
merchants and other residents were astonished that Nicolas Cruger should
send a lad of thirteen to represent him in matters which involved large
sums of money, but they recognized young Hamilton's ability even while
they stared with some rudeness at the small figure in white linen, and
the keen but very boyish face. When they passed him under the arcades,
and asked him what ship he expected to heave in sight, he was tempted to
say a man-of-war, but had no mind to reveal himself to the indifferent.
He read from sundown until midnight or later, by the light of two long
candles protected from draughts and insects by curving glass chimneys.
Mosquitoes tormented him and cockroaches as long as his hand ran over
the table; occasionally a land-crab rattled across the room, or a
centipede appeared on the open page. But he was accustomed to these
embellishments of tropic life, and although he anathematized them and
the heat, he went on with his studies. It was about this time that he
began to indulge in literary composition; and although less gifted boys
than Alexander Hamilton struggle through this phase of mental
development as their body runs the gamut of juvenile complaints, still
it may be that had not his enormous energies been demanded in their
entirety by a country in the terrible straits of rebirth, or had he
dwelt on earth twenty years longer, he would have realized the ambitions
of his mother and Hugh Knox, and become one of the greatest literary
forces the world has had. But although this exercise of his restless
faculties gave him pleasure, it was far from satisfying him, even then.
He wanted the knowledge that was locked up in vast libraries far beyond
that blinding stretch of sea, and he wanted action, and a sight of and a
part in the great world. Meanwhile, he read every book he could find on
the Island, made no mistakes in Mr. Cruger's counting-house, and stood
dreaming under the arcade for hours at a time, muttering his thoughts,
his mobile features expressing the ceaseless action of his brain.

Sometime during the previous year Peter Levine had returned to St. Croix
for his health, and he remained with relatives for some time. He and
Alexander met occasionally and were friendly. As he was a decent little
chap our hero forgave him his paternity, although he never could quite
assimilate the fact that he was his mother's child.

Alexander returned, after six months of Frederikstadt, to the East End
of the Island. A few months later, Mr. Cruger, whose health had failed,
went to New York for an extended sojourn, leaving the entire
responsibility of the business in young Hamilton's hands. Men of all
ages were forced to obey and be guided by a boy in the last weeks of his
fourteenth year, and there were many manifestations of jealous ill-will.
Some loved, others hated him, but few submitted gracefully to a
leadership which lowered their self-esteem. For the first time Alexander
learned that even a mercantile life can be interesting. He exercised all
the resources of his inborn tact with those who had loved and those who
did not hate him, and won them to a grateful acceptance of a mastership
which was far more considerate and sympathetic than anything they had
known. As for his enemies, he let them see the implacable quality of his
temper, mortified them by an incessant exposure of their failings,
struck aside their clumsy attempts to humiliate him with the keen blade
of a wit that sent them skulking. Finally they submitted, but they
cursed him, and willingly would have wrung his neck and flung him into
the bay. As for Hamilton, there was no compromise in him, even then,
where his enemies were concerned. He enjoyed their futile wrath, and
would not have lifted his finger to flash it into liking.

Only once the tropical passions of his inheritance conquered his desire
to dominate through the forces of his will alone. One of the oldest
employees, a man named Cutter, had shown jealousy of young Hamilton from
the first, and a few days after Mr. Cruger's departure began to manifest
signs of open rebellion. He did his work ill, or not at all, absented
himself from the store for two days, and returned to his post without
excuse, squaring his shoulders about the place and sneering his contempt
of youthful cocks of the walk. Alexander struggled to maintain a
self-control which he felt to be strictly compatible with the dignity of
his position, although his gorge rose so high that it threatened to
choke him. The climax came when he gave Cutter a peremptory order, and
the man took out a cigar, lit it, and laughed in his face. For the next
few moments Alexander had a confused impression that he was in hell,
struggling his way through the roar and confusion of his nether
quarters. When he was himself again he was in the arms of his chief
assistant, and Mr. Cutter bled profusely on the floor. He was informed
later that he had "gone straight over the counter with a face like a
hurricane" and assaulted his refractory hireling with such incredible
rapidity of scientific fist that the man, who was twice his size, had
succumbed from astonishment and an almost supernatural terror.
Alexander, who was ashamed of himself, apologized at once, but gave the
man his choice of treating him with proper respect or leaving the store.
Cutter answered respectfully that he would remain; and he gave no
further trouble.

"You'll get your head blown off one of these days," said Hugh Knox to
Alexander, on a Sunday, as they sat in the library over two long glasses
of "Miss Blyden," a fashionable drink made of sugar, rum, and the juice
of the prickly pear, which had been buried in the divine's garden for
the requisite number of months. "These Creoles are hot, even when
they're only Danes. It's not pleasant for those clerks, for it isn't as
if you had the look of the man you are. You look even younger than your
age, and for a man of thirty to say 'Yes, sir' to a brat like you chokes
him, and no wonder. I believe if there was a war this minute, you'd
rouse the Island and lead it to battle without a misgiving or an
apology. Well, don't let your triumphs lead to love of this business. I
happen to know that Cruger means to make a partner of you in a few
years, for he thinks the like of you never dropped into a merchant's
counting-house; but never forget that your exalted destiny is to be a
great man of letters, a historian, belike. You're taking to history, I
notice, and you're getting a fine vocabulary of your own."

"I'd like to know what I'll write the history of if I'm to rot in this
God-forsaken place. Caribs? Puling rows between French and English? I'd
as well be up on Grange with my mother if it wasn't for you and your
books. I want the education of a collegian. I want to study and read
everything there is to be studied and read. I've made out a list of
books to send for, when I've money enough, as long as you are. It's
pinned on the wall of my room."

"And I suppose you've never a qualm but that head of yours will hold it
all. You've a grand opinion of yourself, Alec."

"That's a cutting thing for you to say to me, sir," cried Alexander,
springing to his feet. "I thought you loved me. If you think I'm a fool,
I'll not waste more of your time."

"A West Indian temper beats the conceit out of the Irish. You'll control
yours when you're older, for there's nothing you won't do when you put
your mind to it, and you'll see the need for not making a fool of
yourself too often. But as for its present liking for exercise--it's a
long way the liveliest thing on St. Croix. However, you've forgiven me;
I know that by the twinkle in your eye, so I'll tell you that your brain
will hold all you care to put into it, and that you'll have made another
list as long as King Street before you're five years older. Meanwhile,
I've some books on theology and ethics you haven't had a dash at yet,
and you can't read my other old books too often. Each time you'll find
something new. Sitting up till midnight won't hurt you, but don't forget
to say your prayers."

Knox, long since, had laid siege to Alexander's susceptible and ardent
mind with the lively batteries of his religious enthusiasms. His
favourite pupil was edifyingly regular in attendance at church, and said
his prayers with much fervour. The burden of his petitions was
deliverance from St. Croix.

When this deliverance was effected by a thunderbolt from heaven, his
saving sense of humour and the agitated springs of his sympathy forbade
a purely personal application. But twenty years later he might have
reflected upon the opportune cause of his departure from St. Croix as
one of the ironies of the world's history; for an Island was devastated,
men were ruined, scores were killed, that one man might reach his proper
sphere of usefulness.


Early in August, 1772, Mr. Cruger sent him on a business tour to several
of the neighbouring Islands, including the great _entrepôt_ of the West
Indies,--St. Thomas. Despite the season, the prospect of no wind for
days at a time, or winds in which no craft could live, Alexander
trembled with delight at the idea of visiting the bustling brilliant
versatile town of Charlotte Amalie, in whose harbour there were
sometimes one hundred and eighty ships, where one might meet in a day
men of every clime, and whose beauty was as famous as her wealth and
importance. How often Alexander had stared at the blue line of the hills
above her! Forty miles away, within the range of his vision, was a bit
of the great world, the very pivot of maritime trade, and one cause and
another had prevented him from so much as putting his foot on a sloop
whose sails were spread.

As soon as the details of his tour were settled he rode out to the
plantations to take leave of his relatives. Mrs. Mitchell, who barred
the hurricane windows every time, the wind rose between July and
November, and sat with the barometer in her hand when the palms began to
bend, wept a torrent and implored him to abstain from the madness of
going to sea at that time of the year. Her distress was so acute and
real that Alexander, who loved her, forgot his exultation and would have
renounced the trip, had he not given his word to Mr. Cruger.

"I'll be careful, and I'll ride out the day after I return," he said,
arranging his aunt on the sofa with her smelling-bottle, an office he
had performed many times. "You know the first wind of the hurricane is a
delight to the sailor, and we never shall be far from land. I'm in
command, and I'll promise you to make for shore at the first sign of
danger. Then I shall be as safe as here."

His aunt sighed for fully a minute. "If I only could believe that you
would be careful about anything. But you are quite a big boy now, almost
sixteen, and ought to be old enough to take care of yourself."

"If I could persuade you that I am not quite a failure at keeping the
breath in my body we both should be happier. However, I vow not to set
sail from any island if a hurricane is forming, and to make for port
every time the wind freshens."

"Listen for that terrible roar in the southeast, and take my
barometer--Heaven knows what barometers are made for; there are not
three on the Island. I shall drive in to church every Sunday and besiege
Heaven with my supplications."

"Well, spare me a breeze or I shall pray for a hurricane."

He did not see Mrs. Lytton or James, but Mr. Lytton had scant
apprehension of hurricanes, and was only concerned lest his nephew roll
about in the trough of the sea under an August sun for weeks at a time.
"That's when a man doesn't repent of his sins; he knows there is nothing
worse to come," he said. "I'd rather have a hurricane," and Alexander
nodded. Mr. Lytton counted out a small bag of pieces of eight and told
the boy to buy his aunt a silk gown in Charlotte Amalie. "I've noticed
that if it's all one colour you're not so sure to have it accepted with
a sigh of resignation," he said. "But be careful of plaids and stripes."
And Alexander, with deeper misgivings than Mrs. Mitchell had inspired,
accepted the commission and rode away.

He set sail on the following day, and made his tour of the lesser
islands under a fair breeze. Late in the month he entered the harbour of
St. Thomas, and was delighted to find at least fifty ships in port,
despite the season. It was an unusually busy year, and he had dared to
hope for crowded waters and streets; exquisite as Charlotte Amalie might
be to look upon, he wanted something more than a lovely casket.

The town is set on three conical foot-hills, which bulge at equal
distances against an almost perpendicular mountain, the tip, it is said,
of a range whose foundations are four miles below. The three sections of
the town sweep from base to pointed apex with a symmetry so perfect,
their houses are so light and airy of architecture, so brilliant and
varied of colour, that they suggest having been called into being by the
stroke of a magician's wand to gratify the whim of an Eastern potentate.
Surely, they are a vast seraglio, a triple collection of pleasure houses
where captive maidens are content and nautch girls dance with feet like
larks. Business, commerce, one cannot associate with this enchanting
vista; nor cockroaches as long as one's foot, scorpions, tarantulas, and

When Alexander was in the town he found that the houses were of stone,
and that one long street on the level connected the three divisions.
Flights of steps, hewn out of the solid rock of that black and barren
range, led to the little palaces that crowned the cones, and there were
palms, cocoanuts, and tamarind trees to soften the brilliancy of façade
and roof. Above the town was Blackbeard's Castle; and Bluebeard's so
high on the right that its guns could have levelled the city in an hour.
Although not a hundred years old, and built by the Danes, both these
frowning towers were museums of piratical tradition, and travellers
returned to Europe with imaginations expanded.

The long street interested Alexander's practical mind more than legends
or architecture. Huge stone buildings--warehouses, stores, exchange- and
counting-houses--extended from the street to the edge of the water,
where ships were unloaded and loaded from doors at the rear. Men of
every nation and costume moved in that street; and for a day Mr.
Cruger's business was in abeyance, while the boy from the quiet Island
of St. Croix leaned against one of the heavy tamarind trees at the foot
of the first hill, and watched the restless crowd of Europeans,
Asiatics, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, North and South Americans. There were
as many national costumes as there were rival flags in the harbour.
There was the British admiral in his regimentals and powdered queue, the
Chinaman in his blouse and pigtail, the Frenchman with his earrings,
villanous Malays, solemn merchants from Boston, and negroes trundling
barrows of Spanish dollars. But it was the extraordinary assortment of
faces and the violent contrasts of temperament and character they
revealed which interested Alexander more than aught else. With all his
reading he had not imagined so great a variety of types; his mental
pictures had been the unconscious reflection of British, Danish, or
African. Beyond these he had come in contact with nothing more striking
than sailors from the neighbouring Islands, who had suggested little
besides the advisability of placing an extra guard over the money boxes
whilst they were in port. Most of these men who surged before him were
merchants of the first rank or the representatives of others as
important,--captains of large ships and their mates. The last sauntered
and cursed the heat, which was infernal; but the merchants moved rapidly
from one business house to another, or talked in groups, under the
tamarind trees, of the great interests which brought them to the Indies.
Upon the inherent characteristics which their faces expressed were
superimposed the different seals of those acquired,--shrewdness,
suspicion, a hawk-like alertness, the greed of acquisition. Alexander,
with something like terror of the future, reflected that there was not
one of these men he cared to know. He knew there were far greater cities
than the busy little _entrepôt_ of the West Indies, but he rightly
doubted if he ever should see again so cosmopolitan a mob, a more picked
assortment of representative types. Not one looked as if he remembered
his wife and children, his creed, or the art and letters of his land.
They were a sweating, cursing, voluble, intriguing, greedy lot,
picturesque to look upon, profitable to study, calculated to rouse in a
boy of intellectual passions a fury of final resentment against the
meannesses of commercial life. Alexander jerked his shoulders with
disgust and moved slowly down the street. After he had reflected that
great countries involved great ideas, and that there was no place for
either political or moral ideals in an isolated and purely commercial
town like little Charlotte Amalie, he recovered his poise, and lent
himself to his surroundings again with considerable philosophy.

He had almost crossed the foot of the third hill when he turned
abruptly into a large store, unlike any he had seen. It was full of
women, splendid creatures, who were bargaining with merchants' clerks
for the bales of fine stuffs which had been opened for the display of
samples to the wholesale buyers from other Islands. These women
purchased the exiled stuffs to sell to the ladies of the capital, and
this was the only retail trade known to the St. Thomas of that day.
Alexander bethought himself of his uncle's commission, and precipitately
bought from the open bale nearest the door, then, from the next, a
present for Mrs. Mitchell. Mrs. Lytton, who was an invalid and
fifty-eight, received, a fortnight later, a dress pattern of
rose-coloured silk, and Mrs. Mitchell, who aspired to be a leader of
fashion, one of elderly brown. But Alexander was more interested in the
sellers than in the possible dissatisfaction of his aunts. The women of
his acquaintance were fair and fragile, and the Africans of St. Croix
were particularly hideous, being still of parent stock. But these
creatures were tawny and magnificent, with the most superb figures, the
most remarkable swing, that ever a man had looked upon; and glorious
eyes, sparkling with deviltry. On their heads the white linen was wound
to a high point and surmounted by an immense hat, caught up at one side
with a flower. They wore for clothing a double skirt of coloured linen,
and a white fichu, open in a point to the waist and leaving their
gold-coloured arms quite bare. They moved constantly, if only from one
foot to the other. Occasionally their eyes flashed sparks, and they flew
at each other's throats, screeching like guinea fowl, but in a moment
they were laughing good-naturedly again, and chattering in voices of a
remarkable soft sweetness. Several of them noticed Alexander, for his
beauty had grown with his years. His eyes were large and gray and dark,
like his mother's, but sparkled with ardour and merriment. His mouth was
chiselled from a delicate fulness to a curving line; firm even then, but
always humorous, except when some fresh experience with the ingenuous
self-interest of man deepened the humour to cynicism. The nose was long,
sharply cut, hard, strong in the nostrils, the head massive, the brow
full above the eyes, and the whole of a boyish and sunburned fairness.
He could fetch a smile that gave his face a sweet and dazzling beauty.
His figure was so supple and well knit, so proud in its bearing, that no
woman then or later ever found fault with its inconsiderable inches; and
his hands and feet were beautiful. His adoring aunt attended to his
wardrobe, and he wore to-day, as usual, white linen knee-breeches, black
silk stockings, a lawn shirt much beruffled with lace. His appearance
pleased these gorgeous birds of plumage, and one of them snatched him
suddenly from the floor and gave him a resounding smack. Alexander, much
embarrassed, but not wholly displeased, retreated hurriedly, and asked
an Englishman who they were and whence they came.

"They are literally the pick of Martinique, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the
other Islands celebrated for beautiful women. Of course they've all got
a touch of the tar brush in them, but the French or the Spanish blood
makes them glorious for a few years, and during those few they come here
and make hay. Some come at certain seasons only, others perch here till
they change in a night from houri to hag. This daylight trade gives them
a _raison d'étre_, but wait till after dark. God! this is a hell hole;
but by moonlight or torchlight this street is one of the sights of the
earth. The magnificent beauty of the women, enhanced by silken stuffs of
every colour, the varied and often picturesque attire of the men, all
half mad with drink--well, if you want to sleep, you'd better get a room
high up."

"Mine is up one hundred and seventeen steps. I am but afraid I may not
see all there is to see."

But before the week was half out he had tired of St. Thomas by day and
by night. The picture was too one-sided, too heavily daubed with colour.
It made a palette of the imagination, sticky and crude. He began to
desire the green plantations of St. Croix, and more than ever he longed
for the snow-fields of the north. Two days of hard work concluded Mr.
Cruger's business, and on the thirtieth of the month he weighed anchor,
in company with many others, and set sail for St. Croix. He started
under a fair breeze, but a mile out the wind dropped, and he was until
midnight making the harbour of Christianstadt When they were utterly
becalmed the sun seemed to focus his hell upon the little sloop. It
rolled sickeningly in the oily wrinkled waters, and Alexander put his
Pope in his pocket. The sea had a curious swell, and he wondered if an
earthquake were imminent. The sea was not quite herself when her
foundations were preparing to shake. Earth-quakes had never concerned
him, but as the boat drifted past the reef into the harbour of
Christianstadt at midnight, he was assailed by a fit of terror so sudden
and unaccountable that he could recall but one sensation in his life
that approached it: shortly after he arrived on the Island he had stolen
down to the lagoon one night, fascinated by the creeping mist, the
scowling manchineels, the talk of its sinister inhabitant, and was
enjoying mightily his new feeling of creeping terror, when the silence
was broken by a heavy swish, and he saw the white belly of the shark not
three feet from him. He had scampered up the hill to his mother's skirts
as fast as his legs could carry him, nor visited the lagoon again until
the shark was mouldering on its bed. To-night a mist, almost
imperceptible except on the dark line of coast, changed the beauty of
the moonbeams to a livid light that gave the bay the horrid pallor of a
corpse. The masses of coral rock in the shallow waters looked leprous,
the surface was so glassy that it fell in splinters from the oars of the
boat that towed them to shore. There was not a sound from the reef, not
a sound from the land. The slender lacing mangroves in the swamp looked
like upright serpents, black and petrified, and the Fort on the high
bluff might have been a sarcophagus full of dead men but for the
challenge of the sentry.

Alexander began to whistle, then climbed down into the boat and took an
oar. When he had his feet on land he walked up King Street more hastily
than was his habit in the month of August. But here, although the town
might have been a necropolis, so quiet was it, it had not put on a death
mask. There was no mist here; the beautiful coral houses gleamed under
the moonbeams as if turned to marble, and Alexander forgot the horror of
the waters and paused to note, as he had done many times before, the
curious Alpine contrast of these pure white masses against the green and
burnished arches of tropic trees. Then he passed through the
swimming-bath to his bed, and a half-hour later slept as soundly as if
the terrible forces of the Caribbean world were safe in leash.


When he awoke, at seven o'clock, he heard a dull low roar in the
southeast, which arrested his attention at once as a sound quite
dissimilar from the boom of the reef. As he crossed Strand Street to Mr.
Cruger's store, an hour later, he noticed that a strong wind blew from
the same direction and that the atmosphere was a sickly yellow. For a
moment, he thought of the hurricane which he had passed his life
expecting, but he had a head full of business and soon forgot both roar
and wind. He was immediately immersed in a long and precise statement of
his trip, writing from notes and memory, muttering to himself, utterly
oblivious to the opening of the windows or the salutations of the
clerks. Mr. Cruger arrived after the late breakfast. He looked worried,
but shook Alexander's hand heartily, and thanked heaven, with some
fervour, that he had returned the night before. They retired to the
private office on the court, and Mr. Cruger listened with interest to
young Hamilton's account of his trip, although it was evident that his
mind felt the strain of another matter. He said abruptly:--

"The barometer was down two-tenths when I visited the Fort at a quarter
to eleven. I'd give a good deal to know where it is now."

Alexander remembered his aunt's barometer, which he had hung in his room
before sailing, and volunteered to go over and look at it.

"Do," exclaimed Mr. Cruger; "and see if the wind's shifted."

As Alexander crossed Strand Street to the side door of Mr. Mitchell's
house he encountered the strongest wind he had ever known, and black
clouds were racing back and forth as if lost and distracted. He returned
to tell Mr. Cruger that the barometer stood at 30.03.

"And the wind hasn't shifted?" demanded Mr. Cruger. "That means we'll be
in the direct path of a hurricane before the day is half out, unless
things change for the better. If the barometer falls four-tenths"--he
spread out his hands expressively. "Of course we have many scares.
Unless we hear two double guns from the Fort, there will be no real
cause for alarm; but when you hear that, get on your horse as quick as
you can and ride to warn the planters. The Lyttons and Stevens and
Mitchells will do for you. I'll send out three of the other boys."

They returned to accounts. Mr. Cruger expressed his gratification
repeatedly and forgot the storm, although the wind was roaring up King
Street and rattling the jalousies until flap after flap hung on a broken
hinge. Suddenly both sprang to their feet, books and notes tumbling to
the floor. Booming through the steady roar of the wind was the quick
thunder of cannon, four guns fired in rapid succession.

As Alexander darted through the store, the clerks were tumbling over
each other to secure the hurricane windows; for until the last minute,
uneasy as they were, they had persuaded themselves that St. Croix was in
but for the lashing of a hurricane's tail, and had bet St. Kitts against
Monserrat as flattening in the path of the storm. The hurricane windows
were of solid wood, clamped with iron. It took four men to close them
against the wind.

Alexander was almost flung across Strand Street. Shingles were flying,
the air was salt with spray skimmed by the wind from the surface of
waves which were leaping high above the Fort, rain was beginning to
fall. Mr. Mitchell's stables were in the rear of his house. Every negro
had fled to the cellar. Alexander unearthed four and ordered them to
close the hurricane windows. He had saddled many a horse, and he urged
his into Strand Street but a few moments later. Here he had to face the
wind until he could reach the corner and turn into King, and even the
horse staggered and gasped as if the breath had been driven out of him.
He reared back against the wall, and Alexander was obliged to dismount
and drag him up the street, panting for breath himself, although his
back was to the wind and he kept his head down. The din was terrific.
Cannon balls might have been rattling against the stones of every house,
and to this was added a roar from the reef as were all the sounds of the
Caribbean Sea gathered there. Alexander would have pulled his hat down
over his ears, for the noise was maddening, but it had flown over the
top of a house as he left the store. He was a quarter of an hour
covering the few yards which lay between the stable and the corner, and
when he reached the open funnel of King Street he was nearly swept off
his feet. Fortunately the horse loved him, and, terrified as it was,
permitted him to mount; and then it seemed to Alexander, as they flew up
King Street to the open country, that they were in a fork of the wind,
which tugged and twisted at his neck while it carried them on. He
flattened himself to the horse, but kept his eyes open and saw other
messengers, as dauntless as himself, tearing in various directions to
warn the planters, many of whom had grown callous to the cry of "Wolf."

The horse fled along the magnificent avenue of royal palms which
connected the east and west ends of the Island. They were bending and
creaking horribly, the masses of foliage on the summits cowering away
from the storm, wrapping themselves about in a curiously pitiful manner;
the long blade-like leaves seemed striving each to protect the other.
Through the ever-increasing roar of the storm, above the creaking of the
trees, the pounding of the rain on the earth, and on the young cane,
Alexander heard a continuous piercing note, pitched upon one monotonous
key, like the rattle of a girl's castinets he had heard on St. Thomas.
His brain, indifferent now to the din, was as active as ever, and he
soon made out this particular noise to be the rattle of millions of
seeds in the dry pods of the "shaggy-shaggy," or "giant," a common
Island tree, which had not a leaf at this season, nothing but countless
pods as dry as parchment and filled with seeds as large as peas. Not for
a second did this castinet accompaniment to the stupendous bass of the
storm cease, and Alexander, whose imagination, like every other sense in
him, was quickening preternaturally, could fancy himself surrounded by
the orchestra of hell, the colossal instruments of the infernal regions
performed upon by infuriate Titans. He was not conscious of fear,
although he knew that his life was not worth a second's purchase, but he
felt a wild exhilaration, a magnificent sense of defiance of the most
powerful element that can be turned loose on this planet; his nostrils
quivered with delight; his soul at certain moments, when his practical
faculty was uncalled upon, felt as if high in the roaring space with the
Berserkers of the storm.

Suddenly his horse, in spite of the wall of wind at his back, stood on
his hind legs, then swerved so fiercely that his rider was all but
unseated. A palm had literally leaped from the earth, sprawled across
the road not a foot in front of the horse. The terrified brute tore
across the cane-field, and Alexander made no attempt to stop him, for,
although the rain was now falling as if the sea had come in on the high
back of the wind, he believed himself to be on the Stevens plantation.
The negro village was not yet deserted, and he rode to the west side of
the mill and shouted his warning to the blacks crouching there. On every
estate was a great bell, hung in an open stone belfry, and never to be
rung except to give warning of riot, flood, fire, or hurricane. One of
the blacks obeyed Alexander's peremptory command to ring this bell, and,
as it was under the lee of the mill, reached it in a moment. As
Alexander urged his horse out into the storm again, he heard the rapid
agitated clang of the bell mingle discordantly with the bass of the wind
and the piercing rattle of the giant's castinets. He rode on through the
cane-field, although if the horse stumbled and injured itself, he would
have to lie on his face till the storm was over. But there was a greater
danger in the avenue; he was close enough to see and hear tree after
tree go down, or their necks wrenched and the great green heads rush
through the air with a roar of their own, their long glittering leaves
extended before them as if in supplication.

The Lytton plantation was next on his way, and Alexander rode straight
for the house, as the mills and village lay far to the left. The
hurricane shutters on the sides encountering the storm were already
closed, and he rode round to the west, where he saw his uncle's anxious
face at a drawing-room window. Mr. Lytton flung himself across the sash
in an attempt to lift the boy from his horse into the room, and when
Alexander shouted that he was on his way to the Mitchell estate,
expostulated as well as he could without breaking his throat. He begged
him to rest half an hour at least, but when informed that the Fort for
the first time within the memory of man had fired its double warning, he
ran to fasten his hurricane windows more securely, and despatch a slave
to warn his blacks; their huts never would survive the direct attack of
a hurricane. He was horrified to think of his favourite exposed to a
fury, which, clever and intrepid as he was, he had small chance of
outwitting; but at least he had that one chance, and Mrs. Mitchell was

Alexander passed through one other estate before he reached Mr.
Mitchell's, terrifying those he warned almost as much by his wild and
ragged appearance--his long hair drove straight before him, and his thin
shirt was in sodden ribbons--as by his news that a first-class hurricane
was upon them. At last he was in the cane-fields of his destination, and
the horse, as if in communication with that ardent brain so close to his
own, suddenly accelerated his already mercurial pace, until it seemed to
Alexander that he gathered up his legs and darted like an inflated
swallow straight through crashing avenues and flying huts to the stable
door. Fortunately this solid building opened to the west, and Alexander
was but a few moments stalling and feeding the animal who had saved two
necks by his clever feet that day. He was sorry so poorly to reward him
as to close and bar the door, but he feared that he might forget to
attend to it when the hurricane veered, and in all the fury of
approaching climax was pouring out of the west.

The house was only an eighth of a mile away, but Alexander was half an
hour reaching it. He had to travel on his knees, sometimes on his
stomach, until he reached the western wall, keeping his arm pressed
close against his eyes; his sense of humour, not to be extinguished by a
hurricane, rebelling at the ignoble pass to which his pride had come.
When he reached the north wall he rose, thinking he could cling to the
projections, but he was still facing the storm; he flung himself
prostrate again to avoid being lifted off his feet and sailing with the
rubbish of Mr. Mitchell's plantation. As he reached the corner the wind
gave him a vicious flip, which landed him almost at the foot of the
steps, but he was comparatively safe, and he sat down to recover his
breath. He could afford a few moments' rest, for the heavy wooden
windows facing the east, north, and south, were closed. Here he was
sheltered in a way. The only two good words that can be said for a
hurricane are that it gives sufficient warning of its approach, and that
it blows from one point of the compass at a time. Alexander sat there
panting and watched the wild battle in mid-air of shingles, fences,
thatched roofs, and tree-tops; listened to the artillery of the storm,
which, with a stone building to break its steady roar, sounded as if a
hundred cannon were bombarding the walls and rattling here and there on
their carriages meanwhile; listened to crash after crash of tree and
wall, the terrified bowlings and bellowings of beasts, the shrieking and
grinding of trees, the piercing monotone of the dry seeds in their cases
of parchment, the groans and prayers of the negroes in the cellar behind
him. He turned his head and looked through the windows of the great
apartment, which, although above ground, was supposed to be safest in a
hurricane. All but the western blinds being closed, the cellar was
almost dark, but Alexander knew that it was packed: doubtless every
African on the estate was there; he could see, for some distance back,
row after row of rolling eyes and hanging tongues. Some knelt on the
shoulders of others to get the air. Alexander shuddered. The sight
reminded him of his uncle's slave-ships, where the blacks came, chained
together, standing in the hold, so closely packed that if one died he
could not fall, nor the others protect themselves from the poisons of a
corpse, which pressed hard against the living for twenty hours perhaps,
before it was unchained and flung to the sharks. Alexander went close to
one of the windows and shouted to them not to forget to secure the
western blinds when the lull came, then ran up the steps and vaulted
through an open window. It was a few minutes before he found his aunt,
and it must be recorded that on his way to the front of the house he
looked under two beds and into four wardrobes. He came upon her in the
drawing-room, valiantly struggling with a hurricane window. Her hair was
dishevelled, and her eyes bulged with horror, but even as Alexander came
to the rescue, she shoved the bar into place. Then she threw herself
into his arms and fainted. He had but time to fling water on her face,
when a loud rattle from another window sent him bounding to it, and for
ten minutes he struggled to fasten the blind soundly again, while it
seemed to him that a hundred malignant fingers were tugging at its edge.
He had no sooner secured it, than his aunt's voice at his ear begged him
to try every window on three sides of the house, and he went rapidly
from one to the other, finding most of them in need of attention--long
disuse had weakened both staples and hooks. His aunt trotted after him,
thumping every window, and reminding him that if one went, and the wind
burst in, the roof would be off and the torrents upon them before they
could reach the cellar.

Fortunately for those who fought the storm, the temperature had fallen
with the barometer, and these two dared not relax their vigilance for a
moment. Every negro had deserted to the lower region. Alexander was
unable to change his wet clothes or to refresh himself with so much as a
banana, but there was not a second's time to think of hunger or
discomfort. More than once that sense of wild exultation in fighting a
mighty element possessed him. His own weak hands and a woman's weaker
against one of the Titanic hurricanes of the world's history, with a
prospect of winning the fight, was a sight to move comfortable gods to
paean or laughter, according to their spiritual development.

But during much of that terrible day and night Alexander's brain was
obliged to work on device after device to strengthen those battered
boards which alone protected the house from destruction, its inmates,
perhaps, from death. A tamarind tree came down on a corner of the roof
with a crash; and when Mrs. Mitchell and Alexander reached the room,
which was in a wing, the rain was struggling past the heavy mass through
a hole in the roof. They closed up the room, as well as the jalousies of
the inner walls, but as they returned to the windows they heard the rain
fighting to pass the branches, and knew that if the wind snatched the
tree, the deluge would come in.

Mrs. Mitchell neither fainted again nor exhibited other sign of fear.
While that hurricane lasted she was all Mary Fawcett; and Alexander,
meeting her eyes now and again, or catching sight of her as she darted
forward at the first rattle of a shutter, recalled his mother's many
anecdotes of his redoubtable grandmother, and wondered if that valiant
old soul had flown down the storm to the relief of the fortress.

Toward evening that sudden lull came which means that at last the
besieged are in the very centre of the hurricane, and will have respite
while the monster is swinging his tail to the west. Alexander and Mrs.
Mitchell, after opening the windows on the east side of the house, and
securing those opening to the west, went to the pantry and made a
substantial meal without sitting or selecting. To his last day Alexander
could not remember what he ate that night, although he recalled the
candle in the long chimney, the constant craning of his aunt's head, the
incessant racing of the rats along the beams. He went to his room and
took a cold bath, which with the food and suspended excitement quite
refreshed him; put on dry clothes, nailed a board against the hole in
the roof, then sat down with Mrs. Mitchell in the western gallery to
await the hurricane's return.

"We have three windows where we had one before," remarked Mrs.
Mitchell; "and the hinges of that door are rusty. God knows! If you had
not come, the roof would have gone long before this."

"The silence is horrible," said Alexander.

It was, indeed, earsplitting. Not a sound arose from that devastated
land. Birds and beasts must lie dead by the thousand; not a horseman
ventured abroad; not a whisper came from the cellar, where two hundred
Africans might be dead from fright or suffocation. Mrs. Mitchell had lit
the candles, and there was something sinister and ironical in the steady
flames. How long before they would leap and add the final horror to what
must be a night of horrors? It was impossible to work in the dark, but
every yellow point was a menace.

They had not long to endure the silence. This time the hurricane sent no
criers before it. It burst out of the west with a fury so intensified
that Alexander wondered if one stone in Frederikstadt were left upon
another. It was evident that it had gathered its forces for a final
assault, and its crashing and roaring, as it tore across the unhappy
Island it had marked for destruction, was that of a gigantic wheel
whirling ten thousand cannon, exploding, and lashing each other in
mid-air. It seemed to Alexander that every ball they surely carried
rattled on the roof, and the heavy stone structure vibrated for the
first time. It was two hours before he and Mrs. Mitchell met again, for
they worked at opposite ends of the long gallery; but in the third both
rushed simultaneously to the door. It sprang back from its rusty
fastenings, and they were but in time to seize the bar which passed
through a staple in its middle, and pull it inward until it pressed hard
against the jamb on the right. There was no other way to secure it, and
for three hours Alexander and Mrs. Mitchell dragged at it alternately,
while the other attended to the windows. By this time Alexander had
ceased to wonder if he should see another morning, or much to care: the
storm was so magnificent in its almighty power, its lungs of iron
bellowed its purpose with such furious iteration, as if out of all
patience with the mortals who defied it, that Alexander was almost
inclined to apologize. More than once it took the house by the shoulders
and shook it, and then a yell would come from below, a simultaneous note
pitched in a key of common agony. Suddenly the house seemed to spring
from its foundations, then sink back as if to collapse. Alexander called
out that it had been uprooted and would go down the hill in another
moment, but Mrs. Mitchell, who was at the bar, muttered, "An earthquake.
I believe a hurricane shakes the very centre of the earth."

They feared that the foundations of the house had been loosened, and
that the next blast would turn it over, but the house was one of the
strongest in the Caribbees, built to withstand the worst that Nature
could do, so long as man saw to its needs; and when the hurricane at
last revolved its artillery away into the east, carrying with it that
piercing rattle of the giant's castinets, which never for a moment had
ceased to perform its part, roof and walls were firm. Mrs. Mitchell and
Alexander sank where they had stood, and slept for twenty hours.


Alexander rode back to Christianstadt two days later, and again and
again he drew a hard breath and closed his eyes. It was a sight to move
any man, and the susceptible and tender nature of young Hamilton bled
for the tragedy of St. Croix. There was not a landmark, not a
cane-field, to remind him that it was the beautiful Island on which he
had spent the most of his remembering years. Although all of the Great
Houses were standing, their mien and manner were so altered by the
disappearance of their trees and outbuildings, and by the surrounding
pulpy flats in place of the rippling acres of young cane, that they were
unrecognizable. Here and there were masses of débris, walls and thatched
roofs swept far from the village foundations; but as a rule there was
but a board here or a bunch of dried leaves there, a battered utensil or
a stool, to reward the wretched Africans who wandered about searching
for the few things they had possessed before the storm. They looked
hopeless and dull, as if their faculties had been stunned by the
prolonged incessant noise of the hurricane.

Alexander was riding down what a week ago had been the most celebrated
avenue in the Antilles. Where there were trees at all, they were
headless, the long gray twisted trunks as repulsive as they had once
been beautiful The road was littered with many of the fallen; but others
were far away in what had been the cane-fields, serpents and lizards
sunning themselves on the dead roots. Even stone walls were down, and
under them, sometimes, were men. Mills were in ruins; for no one had
remained to keep bars in their staples. Tanks of last year's rum and
treacle had been flung through the walls, and their odours mingled with
the stench of decomposing men and cattle. The horrid rattle of the
land-crab was almost the only sound in that desolate land. "The Garden
of the Antilles" looked like a putrid swamp, and she had not a beauty on

Alexander turned at a cross-road into a path which led through the
Grange estate to the private burying-ground of the Lyttons. These few
moments taxed his courage more heavily than the ride with the hurricane
had done, and more than once he opened his clenched teeth and half
turned his horse's head. But he went on, and before long he had climbed
to the end of his journey. The west wall of the little cemetery had been
blown out, and the roof of old James Lytton's tomb lay with its débris.
A tree, which evidently had been torn from the earth and flung from a
distance, lay half in and half out of the enclosure. But his mother's
headstone, which stood against the north wall, was undisturbed, although
the mound above her was flat and sodden. The earth had been strong
enough to hold her. Alexander remembered its awful air of finality as it
opened to receive her, then closed over her. What he had feared was that
the burying-ground, which stood on the crest of a hill, would have been
uprooted and scattered over the cane-fields.

He rode on to Christianstadt. There the evidences of the hurricane were
less appalling, for the houses, standing close together, had protected
each other, and only two were unroofed; but everywhere the trees looked
like twisted poles, the streets and gardens were full of rubbish, and
down by the bay the shore was strewn with the wreckage of ships; the
Park behind the Fort was thick with decaying fish, which the blacks were
but just now sweeping out to the water.

After Alexander had ascertained that Mr. Mitchell's house was quite
unharmed, although a neighbour had lost half a roof and been deluged in
consequence, he walked out Company Street to see how it had fared with
Hugh Knox. That worthy gentleman was treating his battered nerves with
weak whiskey and water when he caught sight of Alexander through the
library window. He gave a shout that drew an exasperated groan through
the ceiling, flung open the door, and clasped his beloved pupil in his

"I knew you were safe, because you are you, although I've been afraid to
ask if you were dead or alive. Cruger sent out three others to warn the
planters, and they've all been brought home, one dead, one maimed, one
with chills and fever and as mad as a March hare. Good God! what a
visitation! I'd rather have been on a moving bog in Ireland. You
wouldn't have ridden out in that hurricane if I'd got you, not if I'd
been forced to tie you up. Fancy your being here alive, and not even a
cold in your head! But you've a grand destiny to work out, and the
hurricane--which I believe was the Almighty in a temper--knew what it
was about. Now tell me your experience. I'm panting to tell you mine.
I've not had a soul to talk to since the hour it started. The Missis
behaved like a Trojan while it lasted, then went to bed, and hasn't
spoken to me since; and as for everyone else in Christianstadt--well,
they've retired to calm their nerves in the only way,--prayer first and
whiskey after."

Alexander took possession of his own easy-chair and looked gratefully
around the room. The storm had not disturbed it, neither had a wench's
duster. Since his mother's death he had loved this room with a more
grateful affection than any mortal had inspired, well as he loved his
aunt, Hugh Knox, and Neddy. But the room did not talk, and the men who
had written the great books which made him indifferent to his island
prison for days and weeks at a time, were dead, and their selfishness
was buried with them.

Meanwhile Knox, forgetting his desire to hear the experience of his
guest, was telling his own. It was sufficiently thrilling, but not to be
compared with that of the planter's; and when he had finished, Alexander
began with some pride to relate his impressions of the storm. He, too,
had not talked for three days; his heart felt warm again; and in the
familiar comfortable room, the terrible picture of the hurricane seemed
to spring sharp and vivid from his memory; he had recalled it confusedly
hitherto, and made no effort to live it again. Knox leaned forward
eagerly, dropping his pipe; Alexander talked rapidly and brilliantly,
finally springing to his feet, and concluding with an outburst so
eloquent that his audience cowered and covered his face with his hands.
For some moments Knox sat thinking, then he rose and pushed a small
table in front of Alexander, littering it with pencils and paper, in his
untidy fashion.

"My boy," he said, "you're still hot with your own eloquence. Before you
cool off, I want you to write that down word for word as you told it to
me. If it twisted my very vitals, it will give a similar pleasure to
others. 'Twould be selfish to deny them. When it's done, I'll send it to
Tiebout. Now I'll leave you, and if my niggers are still too demoralized
to cook supper for you, I'll do it myself."

Alexander, whose brain, in truth, felt on fire, for every nerve had
leapt to the recreating of that magnificent Force that had gathered an
island into the hollow of its hand, crushed, and cast it back to the
waters, dashed at the paper and wrote with even more splendour than he
had spoken. When he had finished, he was still so excited that he
rushed from the house and walked till the hideous sights and smells
drove him home. He was quivering with the ecstasy of birth, and longed
for another theme, and hours and days of hot creation. But he was to be
spared the curse of the "artistic temperament."


The description of the hurricane went to St. Christopher by sloop two
days later (there were no English papers on St. Croix), and was not
heard from for two weeks. Meanwhile Alexander forgot it, as writers have
a way of forgetting their infants of enthusiastic delivery. There was
much to do on St. Croix. The negroes were put at once to rebuilding and
repairing, and masters, as well as overlookers and agents, were behind
them from morning till night. Mr. Mitchell had not returned, and
Alexander was obliged to take charge of his estates. When he was not
galloping from village to village and mill to mill, driving the sullen
blacks before him, or routing them out of ruins and hollows, where they
huddled in a demoralized stupor, he was consoling his aunt for the
possible sacrifice of Mr. Mitchell to the storm. Alexander was quite
confident that the hurricane had spared Tom Mitchell, whomsoever else it
may have devoured, but his logic did not appeal to his aunt, who wept
whenever he was there to offer his arm and shoulder. At other times she
bustled about among her maids, who were sewing industriously for the

Alexander was grateful for the heavy task Mr. Mitchell's absence
imposed, for there was no business doing in Christianstadt, and his
nerves were still vibrating to the storm he had fought and conquered.
His rigorous self-control was gone, his suppressed energies and
ambitions were quick and imperious, every vial of impatience and disgust
was uncorked. As he rode through the hot sunlight or moved among the
Africans, coaxing and commanding, getting more work out of them by his
gay bright manner than the overlookers could extract with their whips,
his brain was thumping with plans of delivery from a life which he
hated so blackly that he would wrench himself free of it before the year
was out if he had to ship as a common sailor for New York. It seemed to
him that the vacancies in his brain ached. His imagination was hot with
the future awaiting him beyond that cursed stretch of blinding water.
For the first time he fully realized his great abilities, knew that he
had in him the forces that make history. All the encouragement of his
mother and Hugh Knox, the admiration and confidence of such men as Mr.
Cruger, the spoiling of his relatives, and his easy conquest or equally
flattering antagonism of the youth of the Island, had fostered his
self-confidence without persuading him that he was necessarily a genius.
Strong as his youthful ambitions had been, burning as his desire for
more knowledge, much in his brain had been dormant, and a humorous
philosophy, added to the sanguineness of youth and a deep affection for
a few people, had enabled him to bear his lot with unbroken
cheerfulness. But the clashing forces of the Universe had roused the
sleeping giant in his brain and whirled his youth away. His only
formulated ambition was to learn first all that schools could teach him,
then lead great armies to battle. Until the day of his death his desire
for military excitement and glory never left him, and at this time it
was the destiny which heated his imagination. It seemed to him that the
roar and rattle of the hurricane, in whose lead he had managed to
maintain himself unharmed, were the loud prophecy of battle and
conquest. At the same time, he knew that other faculties and demands of
his brain must have their way, but he could only guess at their nature,
and statesmanship was the one achievement that did not occur to him; the
American colonies were his only hope, and there was no means by which he
could know their wrongs and needs. Such news came seldom to the West
Indies, and Knox retained little interest in the country where he had
sojourned so short a while. And at this time their struggle hardly would
have appealed to young Hamilton had he known of it. He was British by
instinct and association, and he had never received so much as a
scratch from the little-finger nail of the distant mother, whose long
arm was rigid above her American subjects.

His deliverance was so quick and sudden that for a day or two he was
almost as dazed as the Africans after the hurricane. One day Hugh Knox
sent him out a copy of the St. Christopher newspaper which had published
his description of the storm. With some pride in his first-born, he read
it aloud to his aunt. Before he was halfway down the first column she
was on the sofa with her smelling-salts, vowing she was more terrified
than when she had expected to be killed every minute. When he had
finished she upbraided him for torturing people unnecessarily, but
remarked that he was even cleverer than she had thought him. The next
morning she asked him to read it again; then read it herself. On the
following day Hugh Knox rode out.

Alexander was at one of the mills. Knox told Mrs. Mitchell that he had
sent a copy of the newspaper to the Governor of St. Croix, who had
called upon him an hour later and insisted upon knowing the name of the
writer. Knox not only had told him, but had expanded upon Alexander's
abilities and ambitions to such an extent that the Governor at that
moment was with Peter Lytton, endeavouring to persuade him to open his
purse-strings and send the boy to college.

"He will not do all," added Knox, "and I rely upon you to do the rest.
Between you, Alexander can get, first the education he wants now more
than anything in life, then the chance to make a great reputation among
men. If you keep him here you're no better than criminals, and that's
all I have to say."

Mrs. Mitchell shuddered. "Do you think he really wants to go?" she

"Do I think he wants to go!" roared Hugh Knox. "Do I think--Good God!
why he's been mad to go for five years. He'd have thought of nothing
else if he hadn't a will like a bar of iron made for a hurricane door,
and he'd have grown morbid about it if he hadn't been blest with a
cheerful and a sanguine disposition. You adore him, and you couldn't
see that!"

"He never said much about it," said Mrs. Mitchell, meekly; "but I think
I can see now that you are right. It will make me ill to part with him,
but he ought to go, and if Peter Lytton will pay half his expenses, I'll
pay the other half, and keep him in pocket coin besides. Of course Tom
won't give a penny, but I have something of my own, and he is welcome to
it. Do have everything arranged before my husband's return. He is alive
and well. I had a letter from him by the sloop that came from St. Kitts,
and he'll be here by the next or the one after."

As soon as Knox had gone Mrs. Mitchell ordered her coach and drove to
Lytton's Fancy. Her love for Alexander had struggled quite out of its
fond selfishness, and she determined that go to New York he should and
by the next ship. She found her brother-in-law meditating upon the
arguments of the Governor, and had less difficulty in persuading him
than she had anticipated.

"I'm sorry we haven't sent him before," he said finally. "For if two men
like Walsterstorff and Knox think so highly of him, and if he can write
like that,--it gave me the horrors,--he ought to have his chance, and
this place is too small for him. I'll help you to keep him at college
until he's got his education,--and it will take him less time than most
boys to get it,--and then he'll be able to take care of himself. If he
sails on Wednesday, there's no produce to send with him to sell; but
I've silver, and so have you, and he can take enough to keep him until
the Island is well again. We'll do the thing properly, and he shan't
worry for want of plenty."

When Alexander came home that evening he was informed that the world had
turned round, and that he stood on its apex.


The night before he sailed he rode out to the Grange estate. The wall of
the cemetery had been repaired, James Lytton's slab was in its place,
the tree had been removed, and he had rebuilt the mound above his
mother as soon as the earth was firm again. There was no evidence of the
hurricane here. The moon was out, and in her mellow bath the Island had
the beauty of a desert. Alexander leaned his elbows on the wall and
stared down at his mother's grave. He knew that he never should see it
again. What he was about to do was for good and all. He would no more
waste months returning to this remote Island than he would turn back
from any of the goals of his future. And it mattered nothing to the dead
woman there. If she had an immortal part, it would follow him, and she
had suffered too much in life for her dust to resent neglect. But he
passionately wished that she were alive and that she were sailing with
him to his new world. He had ceased to repine her loss, much to miss
her, but his sentiment for her was still the strongest in his life, and
as a companion he had found no one to take her place. To-night he wanted
to talk to her. He was bursting with hope and anticipation and the
enthusiasm of the mere change, but he was close to melancholy.

Suddenly he bent his head. From the earth arose the golden music of a
million tiny bells. They had hung rusty and warped since the hurricane,
but to-night they rang again, and as sweetly as on the night, seventeen
years ago, when their music filled the Universe, and two souls, whose
destiny it was to bring a greater into the world, were flooded with a
diviner music than that fairy melody. Alexander knew nothing of that
meeting of his parents, when they were but a few years older than he was
to-night, but the inherited echo of those hours when his own soul
awaited its sentence may have stirred in his brain, for he stood there
and dreamed of his mother and father as they had looked and thought when
they had met and loved; and this he had never done before. The tireless
little ringers filled his brain with their Lilliputian clamour, and his
imagination gave him his parents in the splendour of their young beauty
and passion. For the first time he forgave his father, and he had a deep
moment of insight: one of the mysteries of life was bare before him. He
was to have many of these cosmic moments, for although his practical
brain relied always on hard work, never on inspiration, his divining
faculty performed some marvellous feats, and saved him from much
plodding; but he never had a moment of insight which left a profounder
impression than this. He understood in a flash the weakness of the
world, and his own. At first he was appalled, then he pitied, then he
vibrated to the thrill of that exultation which had possessed his mother
the night on the mountain when she made up her mind to outstay her
guests. And then the future seemed to beckon more imperiously to the boy
for whose sake she had remained, the radiant image of his parents melted
in its crucible, and the world was flooded with a light which revealed
more than the smoke of battlefields and the laurels of fulfilled


On the following day, as Alexander stood on the wharf with his tearful
relatives and friends, Hugh Knox detached him from Mrs. Mitchell and led
him aside.

"Alec," he said, "I've two pieces of parting advice for you, and I want
you to put them into the pocket of your memory that's easiest to find.
Get a tight rein on that temper of yours. It's improved in the last
year, but there's room yet. That's the first piece. This is the second:
keep your own counsel about the irregularity of your birth, unless
someone asks you point-blank who has the right; if anyone else does,
knock him down and tell him to go to hell with his impertinence. And
never let it hit your courage in the vitals for a moment. You are not
accountable; your mother was the finest woman I ever knew, and you've
got the best blood of Britain in your veins, and not a relative in the
world who's not of gentle blood. You're an aristocrat in body and brain,
and you'll not find a purer in the American colonies. The lack of a
priest at the right time can cause a good deal of suffering and trouble,
but it can't muddy a pure stream; and many a lawful marriage has done
that. So, mind you never bring your head down for a minute, nor
persuade yourself that anyone has a better right to keep it up. It would
be the death of you."

Alexander nodded, but did not reply. He was feeling very low, now that
the hour for parting was come, for his affections were strong and
tender, and they were all rooted in the Island he hated. He understood,

He was six weeks reaching Boston, for even the wind seemed to have had
the life beaten out of it. He had a box of Knox's books, which he was to
return by the Captain; and although he had read them before, he read
them again, and wrote commentaries, and so kept his mind occupied for
the greater part of the voyage. But an active brain, inexperienced in
the world, and in no need of rest, is always bored at sea, and he grew
sick of the sight of that interminable blue waste; of which he had seen
too much all his life. When he had learned all there was to know about a
ship, and read all his books, he burned for change of any sort. The
change, when it came, was near to making an end of him: the ship caught
fire, and they were a day and a night conquering the flames and
preparing their philosophy to meet death; for the boats were
unseaworthy. Alexander had all the excitement he wanted, for he fought
the fire as hard as he had fought the hurricane, and he was delighted
when the Captain gave him permission to turn in. This was his third
touch-and-go with death.

He arrived in Boston late in October, and took passage immediately for
New York. There had been no time to announce his coming, and he was
obliged to find his own way to the house of Hercules Mulligan, a member
of the West Indian firm, to whom Mr. Cruger had given him a warm letter
of introduction. Mr. Mulligan, a good-natured Irishman, received him
hospitably, and asked him to stop in his modest house until his plans
were made. Alexander accepted the invitation, then started out in search
of his friend, Ned Stevens, but paused frequently to observe the queer,
straggling, yet imposing little city, the red splendour of the autumn
foliage; above all, to enjoy the keen and frosty air. All his life he
had longed for cold weather. He had anticipated it daily during his
voyage, and, although he had never given way to the natural indolence of
the Tropics, he had always been conscious of a languor to fight. But the
moment the sharp air of the North had tingled his skin his very muscles
seemed to harden, his blood to quicken, and even his brain to become
more alert and eager. If he had been ambitious and studious in an
average temperature of eighty-five degrees, what would happen when the
thermometer dropped below zero? He smiled, but with much contentment.
The vaster the capacity for study, the better; as for his ambitions,
they could rest until he had finished his education. Now that his feet
were fairly planted on the wide highway of the future, his impatience
was taking its well-earned rest; he would allow no dreams to interfere
with the packing of his brain.

It was late in the afternoon, and the fashionable world was promenading
on lower Broadway and on the Battery by the Fort. It was the first time
that Alexander had seen men in velvet coats, or women with hoopskirts
and hair built up a foot, and he thought the city, with its quaint Dutch
houses, its magnificent trees, and these brilliant northern birds, quite
like a picture book. They looked high-bred and intelligent, these
animated saunterers, and Alexander regarded the women with deep
inquisitiveness. Women had interested him little, with the exception of
his mother, who he took for granted _sui generis_. The sisters of his
friends were white delicate creatures, languid and somewhat affected;
and he had always felt older than either of his aunts. In consequence,
he had meditated little upon the sex to which poets had formed a habit
of writing sonnets, regarding them either as necessary appendages or
creatures for use. But these alert, dashing, often handsome women,
stirred him with a new gratitude to life. He longed for the day when he
should have time to know them, and pictured them gracing the solid
home-like houses on the Broadway, and in the fine grounds along the
river front, where he strayed alter a time, having mistaken the way to
King's College. He walked back through Wall Street, and his enthusiasm
was beginning to ebb, he was feeling the first pangs of a lonely
nostalgia, when he almost ran into Ned Stevens's arms. It was four years
since they had met. Stevens had grown a foot and Alexander a few inches,
but both were boyish in appearance still and recognized each other at

"When I can talk," exclaimed Stevens, "when I can get over my
amazement--I thought at first it was my double, come to tell me
something was wrong on the Island--I'll ask you to come to Fraunces'
Tavern and have a tankard of ale. It's healthier than swizzle."

"That is an invitation, Neddy," cried Alexander, gaily. "Initiate me at
once. I've but a day or two to play in, but I must have you for

They dined at Fraunces' Tavern and sat there till nearly morning.
Alexander had much to tell but more to hear, and before they parted at
Mr. Mulligan's door he knew all of the New World that young Stevens had
patiently accumulated in four years. It was a stirring story, that
account of the rising impatience of the British colonies, and Stevens
told it with animation and brevity. Alexander became so interested that
he forgot his personal mission, but he would not subscribe to his
friend's opinion that the Colonials were in the right.

"Did I have the time, I should study the history of the colonies from
the day they built their first fort," he said. "Your story is
picturesque, but it does not convince me that they have all the right on
their side. England--"

"England is a tyrannical old fool," young Stevens was beginning,
heatedly, when a man behind arose and clapped a hand over his mouth.

"There are three British officers at the next table," he said. "We don't
want any more rows. One too many, and God knows what next."

Stevens subsided, but Alexander's nostrils expanded. Even the mental
atmosphere of this brilliant North was full of electricity.

The next day he presented to Dr. Rogers and Dr. Mason the letters which
Hugh Knox had given him. He interested them at once, and when he asked
their advice regarding the first step he should take toward entering
college, they recommended Francis Barber's Grammar School, at
Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Stevens had suggested the same institution,
and so did other acquaintances he made during his brief stay in the city
which was one day to be christened by angry politicians,
"Hamiltonopolis." Early in the following week he crossed to New Jersey
and rode through the forests to the village, with its quaint streets and
handsome houses, "the Burial Yard Lot," beside the main thoroughfare of
the proud little hamlet, and Mr. Barber's Grammar School at its upper
end. Hamilton was accepted immediately, but where to lodge was a
harassing question. The only rooms for hire were at the tavern, where
permanent lodgement would be intolerable. When he presented a letter to
Mr. Boudinot, which Mr. Cruger had given him, the problem was solved at
once. Mr. Boudinot, one of the men of his time, had a spacious and
elegant house, set amidst gardens, lawns, and forest trees; there were
many spare bedrooms, and he invited Hamilton to become a member of his
family. The invitation was given as a matter of course, and Hamilton
accepted it as frankly. All the pupils who were far from home visited in
the neighbourhood. Liberty Hall, on the Springfield turnpike, was
finishing when Hamilton arrived. When the family was installed and he
presented his letter to its owner, William Livingston, he received as
pressing an invitation as Mr. Boudinot's, and divided his time between
the two houses.

Mr. Boudinot was a large man, with a long nose and a kindly eye, who was
deeply attached to his children. Susan was healthy, pretty, lively, and
an ardent young patriot. The baby died, and Hamilton, having offered to
sit up with the little body, entertained himself by writing an
appropriate poem, which was long treasured by Mr. Boudinot.

At Liberty Hall life was even more interesting. William Livingston was
one of the ablest lawyers, most independent thinkers, and ardent
republicans of the unquiet times. Witty and fearless, he had for years
made a target of kingly rule; his acid cut deep, doing much to weaken
the wrong side and encourage the right. His wife was as uncompromising a
patriot as himself; his son, Brockholst, and his sprightly cultivated
daughters had grown up in an atmosphere of political discussion, and in
constant association with the best intellects of the day. Sarah, the
beauty, was engaged to John Jay, already a distinguished lawyer,
notoriously patriotic and high-minded. He was a handsome man, with his
dark hair brushed forward about his face, his nobility and classic
repose of feature. Mr. Livingston wore his hair in a waving mass, as
long as he had any. His nose was large and sharp, and he had a very
disapproving eye. He took an immediate liking to young Hamilton,
however, and his hospitality was frank and delightful. Brockholst and
Alexander liked and admired each other in those days, although they were
to become bitter enemies in the turbulent future. As for the lively bevy
of women, protesting against their exile from New York, but amusing
themselves, always, they adopted "the young West Indian." The
delicate-looking boy, with his handsome sparkling face, his charming
manners, and gay good humour captivated them at once; and he wrote to
Mrs. Mitchell that he was become shockingly spoiled. When Mr. Livingston
discovered that his brain and knowledge were extraordinary, he ceased at
once to treat him as a fascinating boy, and introduced him to the men
who were constantly entertained at his house: John Jay, James Duane, Dr.
Witherspoon, President of Princeton; and members of the Morris,
Schuyler, Ogden, Clinton, and Stockton families. The almost weekly
conversation of these men contributed to the rapid maturing of
Hamilton's mind. His recreation he found with the young women of the
family, and their conversation was not always political. Sarah
Livingston, beautiful, sweet, and clever, was pensively in love; but
Kitty and Susan were not, and they were handsome and dashing. They were
sufficiently older than Alexander to inspire him with the belief that he
was in love with each in turn; and if he was constant to either, it was
to Kitty, who was the first to reveal to him the fascination of her
sex. But they did not interrupt the course of his studies; and in the
dawn, when he repaired to the Burial Yard Lot to think out his difficult
task for the day, not a living face haunted the tombstones.

And when winter came and he walked the vast black forests alone, the
snow crunching under his feet, the blood racing in his body, a gun on
his shoulder, lest he meet a panther, or skated till midnight under the
stars, a crystal moon illuminating the dark woods on the river's edge,
the frozen tide glittering the flattering homage of earth, he felt so
alive and happy, so tingling and young and primeval, that had his
fellow-inhabitants flown to the stars he would not have missed them.
Until that northern winter embraced and hardened him, quickening mind
and soul and body, crowding the future with realized dreams, he never
had dared to imagine that life could be so fair and beautiful a thing.

On stormy winter nights, when he roasted chestnuts or popped corn in the
great fireplace of Liberty Hall, under the tuition of all the Livingston
girls, Sarah, Susan, Kitty, and Judith, he felt very sociable indeed;
and if his ears, sometimes, were soundly boxed, he looked so penitent
and meek that he was contritely rewarded with the kiss he had snatched.

The girls regarded him as a cross between a sweet and charming boy to be
spoiled--one night, when he had a toothache, they all sat up with
him--and a phenomenon of nature of which they stood a trifle in awe. But
the last was when he was not present and they fell to discussing him.
And with them, as with all women, he wore, because to the gay vivacity
and polished manners of his Gallic inheritance he added the rugged
sincerity of the best of Britons; and in the silences of his heart he
was too sensible of the inferiority of the sex, out of which, first and
last, he derived so much pleasure, not to be tender and considerate of
it always.

Before the year of 1773 was out Mr. Barber pronounced him ready for
college, and, his choice being Princeton, he presented himself to Dr.
Witherspoon and demanded a special course which would permit him to
finish several years sooner than if he graduated from class to class. He
knew his capacity for conquering mental tasks, and having his own way to
make in the world, had no mind to waste years and the substance of his
relatives at college. Dr. Witherspoon, who had long been deeply
interested in him, examined him privately and pronounced him equal to
the heavy burden he had imposed upon himself, but feared that the board
of trustees would not consent to so original a plan. They would not.
Hamilton, nothing daunted, applied to King's College, and found no
opposition there. He entered as a private student, attached to no
particular class, and with the aid of a tutor began his customary
annihilation of time. Besides entering upon a course of logic, ethics,
mathematics, history, chronology, rhetoric, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, all
the modern languages, and Belles Lettres, he found time to attend Dr.
Clossy's lectures on anatomy, with his friend Stevens, who was studying
medicine as a profession.

King's was a fine building facing the North River and surrounded by
spacious grounds shaded by old sycamores and elms. There were many
secluded corners for thought and study. A more favourite resort of
Alexander's was Batteau Street, under whose great elms he formed the
habit of strolling and muttering his lessons, to the concern of the
passer-by. In his hours of leisure he rollicked with Stevens and his new
friends, Nicolas Fish and Robert Troup. The last, a strong and splendid
specimen of the young American collegian, had assumed at once the
relation of big brother to the small West Indian, but was not long
discovering that Hamilton could take care of himself; was flown at
indeed by two agile fists upon one occasion, when protectiveness, in
Alexander's measurement, rose to interference. But they formed a deep
and lifelong friendship, and Troup, who was clever and alert, without
brilliancy, soon learned to understand Hamilton, and was not long
recognizing potentialities of usefulness to the American cause in his

It was Troup who took him for his first sail up the Hudson, and except
for the men who managed the boat, they went alone. Troup was a good
listener, and for a time Hamilton chattered gaily as the boat sped up
the river, jingling rhymes on the great palisades, which looked like the
walls of some Brobdingnagian fortress, and upon the gorgeous masses of
October colouring swarming over the perpendicular heights of Jersey and
the slopes and bluffs of New York. It was a morning, and a piece of
nature, to make the quicksilver in Hamilton race. The arch was blue, the
tide was bluer, the smell of salt was in the keen and frosty air. Two
boats with full white sails flew up the river. On either bank the
primeval forest had burst in a night into scarlet and gold, pale yellow
and crimson, bronze, pink, the flaming hues of the Tropics, and the
delicate tints of hot-house roses. Hamilton had never seen such a riot
of colour in the West Indies. They passed impenetrable thickets close to
the water's edge, ravines, cliffs, irregular terraces on the hillside,
gorges, solitary heights, all flaunting their charms like a vast booth
which has but a day in which to sell its wares. They sped past the
beautiful peninsula, then the lawns of Philipse Manor. Hamilton stepped
suddenly to the bow of the boat and stood silent for a long while.

The stately but narrow end of the Hudson was behind; before him rolled a
wide and ever widening majestic flood, curving among its hills and
palisades, through the glory of its setting and the soft mists of
distance, until the far mountains it clove trembled like a mirage. The
eye of Hamilton's mind followed it farther and farther yet. It seemed to
him that it cut the world in two. The sea he had had with him always,
but it had been the great chasm between himself and life, and he had
often hated it. This mighty river, haughty and calm in spite of the
primeval savagery of its course, beat upon the gates of his soul, beat
them down, filled him with a sense of grandeur which made him tremble.
He had a vision of the vastness and magnificence of the New World, of
the great lonely mountains in the North, with their countless lakes
hidden in the immensity of a trackless forest, of other mountain ranges
equally wild and lonely, cutting the monotony of plains and prairies,
and valleys full of every delight. All that Hamilton had read or heard
of the immense area beyond or surrounding the few cities and hamlets of
the American colonies, flew to coherence, and he had a sudden
appreciation of the stupendousness of this new untravelled world,
understood that with its climate, fertility, and beauty, its large
nucleus of civilization, its destiny must be as great as Europe's, nor
much dissimilar, no matter what the variance of detail. The noblest
river in the world seemed to lift its voice like a prophet, and the time
came--after his visit to Boston--when Hamilton listened to it with a
thrill of impatient pride and white-hot patriotism. But to-day he felt
only the grandeur of life as he never had felt it before, felt his soul
merge into this mighty unborn soul of a nation sleeping in the infinity,
which the blue flood beneath him spoke of, almost imaged; with no
premonition that his was the destiny to quicken that soul to its birth.

       *       *       *       *       *

While on the ship, Alexander had written to his father, asking for news
of him and telling of the change in his own fortunes. James Hamilton had
replied at once, gratefully, but with melancholy; by this time he knew
himself to be a failure, although he was now a planter in a small way.
Alexander's letter, full of the hope and indomitable spirit of youth,
interested as keenly as it saddened him. He recalled his own high
courage and expectant youth, and wondered if this boy had stronger
mettle than his own equipment. Then he remembered Rachael Levine and
hoped. He lived to see hope fulfilled beyond any achievement of his
imagination, although the correspondence, brisk for a time, gradually
subsided. From Hugh Knox and Mrs. Mitchell Alexander heard constantly,
and it is needless to state that his aunt kept him in linen which was
the envy of his friends. His beruffled shirts and lace stocks were
marvels, and if he was an exquisite in dress all his life, it certainly
was not due to after-thought. Meanwhile, he lodged with the family of
Hercules Mulligan, and wrote doggerel for their amusement in the
evening. Troup relates that Hamilton presented him with a manuscript of
fugitive poetry, written at this period. Mercifully, Troup lost it.
Hamilton has been peculiarly fortunate in this respect. He lies more
serenely in his grave than most great men.

When he was not studying, or joking, or rhyming, during those two short
years of college life, he read: Cudworth's "Intellectual System,"
Hobbes's "Dialogues," Bacon's "Essays," Plutarch's "Morals," Cicero's
"De Officiis," Montaigne's "Essays," Rousseau's "Émile," Demosthenes's
"Orations," Aristotle's "Politics," Ralt's "Dictionary of Trade," and
the "Lex Mercatoria."

He accomplished his mental feats by the--to him--simple practice of
keeping one thing before his mind at a time, then relegating it
uncompromisingly to the background; where, however, it was safe in the
folds of his memory. What would have sprained most minds merely
stimulated his, and never affected his spirits nor his health, highly as
nature had strung his nerves. He was putting five years college work
into two, but the effect was an expansion and strengthening of the
forces in his brain; they never weakened for an instant.


In the spring of 1774 Hamilton visited Boston during a short holiday.
His glimpse of this city had been so brief that it had impressed his
mind but as a thing of roofs and trees, a fantastic woodland
amphitheatre, in whose depths men of large and solemn mien added daily
to the sum of human discomfort. He returned to see the important city of
Boston, but with no overwhelming desire to come in closer contact with
its forbidding inhabitants. He quickly forgot the city in what those
stern sour men had to tell him. For to them he owed that revelation of
the tragic justice of the American cause which enabled him to begin with
the pen his part in the Revolution, forcing the crisis, taking rank as a
political philosopher when but a youth of seventeen; instead of bolting
from his books to the battlefield at the first welcome call to arms. Up
to this time he had adhered to his resolution to let nothing impede the
progress of his education, to live strictly in the hour until the time
came to leave the college for the world. Therefore, although he had
heard the question of Colonies versus Crown argued week after week at
Liberty Hall, and at the many New York houses where he dined of a Sunday
with his friends, Stevens, Troup, and Fish, he had persistently refused
to study the matter: there were older heads to settle it and there was
only one age for a man's education. Moreover, he had grown up with a
deep reverence for the British Constitution, and his strong aristocratic
prejudices inclined him to all the aloofness of the true conservative.
So while the patriots and royalists of King's were debating, ofttimes
concluding in sequestered nooks, Hamilton remained "The young West
Indian," an alien who cared for naught but book-learning, walking
abstractedly under the great green shade of Batteau Street while Liberty
Boys were shouting, and British soldiers swaggered with a sharp eye for
aggression. This period of philosophic repose in the midst of electric
fire darting from every point in turn and sometimes from all points at
once, endured from the October of his arrival to its decent burial in
Boston shortly after his seventeenth birthday.

Boston was sober and depressed, stonily awaiting the vengeance of the
crown for her dramatic defiance in the matter of tea. Even in that
rumbling interval, Hamilton learned, the Committee of Correspondence,
which had directed the momentous act, had been unexcited and methodical,
restraining the Mohawks day after day, hoping until the last moment that
the Collector of Customs would clear the ships and send the tea whence
it came. Hamilton heard the wrongs of the colonies discussed without any
of the excitement or pyrotechnical brilliancy to which he had become
accustomed. New York was not only the hot-bed of Toryism, but even such
ardent Republicans as William Livingston, George Clinton, and John Jay
were aristocrats, holding themselves fastidiously aloof from the rank
and file that marched and yelled under the name of Sons of Liberty. To
Hamilton the conflict had been spectacular rather than real, until he
met and moved with these sombre, undemonstrative, superficially
unpleasing men of Boston; then, almost in a flash, he realized that the
colonies were struggling, not to be relieved of this tax or that, but
for a principle; realized that three millions of people, a respectable
majority honourable, industrious, and educated, were being treated like
incapables, apprehensive of violence if they dared to protest for their
rights under the British Constitution. Hamilton also learned that Boston
was the conspicuous head and centre of resistance to the crown, that she
had led the colonies in aggressiveness since the first Stamp Act of 1765
had shocked them from passive subjects into dangerous critics. He had
letters which admitted him to clubs and homes, and he discussed but one
subject during his visit. There were no velvet coats and lace ruffles
here, except in the small group which formed the Governor's court. The
men wore dun-coloured garments, and the women were not much livelier. It
was, perhaps, as well that he did not see John Hancock, that ornamental
head-piece of patriotic New England, or the harmony of the impression
might have been disturbed; but, as it was, every time he saw these men
together, whether sitting undemonstratively in Faneuil Hall while one of
their number spoke, or in church, or in groups on Boston Common, it was
as if he saw men of iron, not of flesh and blood. Every word they
uttered seemed to have been weighed first, and it was impossible to
consider such men giving their time and thought, making ready to offer
up their lives, to any cause which should not merit the attention of all
men. Although Hamilton met many of them, they made no individual
impression on him; he saw them only as a mighty brain, capable of
solving a mighty question, and of a stern and bitter courage.

He returned to New York filled with an intense indignation against the
country which he had believed too ancient and too firm in her highest
principles to make a colossal mistake, and a hot sympathy for the
colonists which was not long resolving itself into as burning a
patriotism as any in the land. It was not in him to do anything by
halves, it is doubtful if he ever realized the half-hearted tendency of
the greater part of mankind. He studied the question from the first
Stamp Act to the Tea Party. The day he was convinced, he ceased to be a
West Indian. The time was not yet come to draw the sword in behalf of
the country for which he conceived a romantic passion, which satisfied
other wants of his soul, but he began at once on a course of reading
which should be of use to her when she was free to avail herself of
patriotic thinkers. He also joined the debating club of the college. His
abrupt advent into this body, with his fiery eloquence and remarkable
logic, was electrical. In a day he became the leader of the patriot
students. There were many royalists in King's, and the president, Dr.
Myles Cooper, was a famous old Tory. He looked upon this influential
addition to the wrong side with deep disfavour, and when he discovered
that the most caustic writer of Holt's Whig newspaper, who had carved
him to the quick and broken his controversial lances again and again,
was none other than his youngest and most revolutionary pupil, his wrath
knew no bounds.

With the news of the order to close the port of Boston, the wave of
indignation in the colonies rose so high that even the infatuated clergy
wriggled. Philadelphia went so far as to toll her muffled bells for a
day, and as for New York, then as now, the nerve-knot of the country,
she exploded. The Sons of Liberty, who had reorganized after the final
attempt of England to force tea on the colonies, paraded all day and
most of the night, but were, as yet, more orderly than the masses, who
stormed through the streets with lighted torches, shrieking and yelling
and burning the king and his ministers in effigy.

The substantial citizens also felt that the time was come to prepare for
the climax toward which their fortunes were hastening. That spiteful
fist would be at their own skulls next, beyond a doubt. The result of a
long and hot debate in the Exchange between the Sons of Liberty and the
more conservative patriots was an agreement to call a Congress of the
Colonies. The contest over the election of delegates was so bitter,
however, the Committee of the Assembly, which was largely ministerial,
claiming the right to nomination, that it was determined to submit the
question to the people at large.


In the early morning Hamilton still sauntered beneath the college trees
or those of Batteau Street, pondering on his studies, and abstracting
himself from the resting city, but in the evenings and during half the
night he inhaled the hot breath of rebellion; and the flaring torches,
the set angry faces, the constant shouting, the frightened pallor of the
women at the windows of the great houses on the line of march, the
constant brawls with British soldiers, stormed the curb he had put on
his impatient spirit. He realized that the colonies were not yet
prepared to fight, and he had no thought of doing anything rash, but it
was his propensity to do a thing at once if it were to be done at all,
and this last indignity should result in something except talk. He was
present at the meeting in the Exchange and listened carefully to all
that was said, feeling that he could add to that whirlwind of ideas, but
forbearing on account of his youth. His mind, by now, was so mature that
he reminded himself, with some difficulty, that he was but seventeen. He
was as lively and as happy as ever, but that was temperamental and would
endure through all things; mentally he had no youth in him, had had
little since the day he began to ask questions.

The meeting in the Fields--at which it was hoped to effect a choice of
delegates by the people at large--was called for the 6th of July, and a
great multitude assembled. Alexander McDougall, the first patriot to
have suffered imprisonment at the hands of the Tyrant, presided, and
celebrated speakers harangued. It was here that Hamilton's impatience
got rid of its curb. He heard much that was good, more that was bad,
little that was new; and he found the radicals illogical and the
conservatives timid. Nicolas Fish and Robert Troup pushed their way
through the crowd to where Hamilton stood, his uplifted face expressing
his thoughts so plainly to those who knew him that these friends
determined to force him to the platform.

At first he protested; and in truth, the idea, shaping concretely,
filled his very legs with terror; but the young men's insistence, added
to his own surging ideas, conquered, and he found himself on the
platform facing a boundless expanse of three-cornered hats. Beneath were
the men who represented the flower as well as the weeds of the city, all
dominated by the master passion of the civilized world. There was little
shade in the Fields and the day was hot. It was a crowded,
uncomfortable, humid mass whose attention he was about to demand, and
their minds were already weary of many words, their calves of the
ruthless mosquito. They stared at Hamilton in amazement, for his slender
little figure and fair curling hair, tied loosely with a ribbon, made
him look a mere boy, while his proud high-bred face, the fine green
broadcloth of his fashionably cut garments, the delicate lawn of his
shirt and the profusion of lace with which it was trimmed, particularly
about his exquisite hands, gave him far more the appearance of a court
favourite than a champion of liberty. Some smiled, others grunted, but
all remained to listen, for the attempt was novel, and he was beautiful
to look upon.

For a moment Hamilton felt as if the lower end of his heart had grown
wings, and he began falteringly and in an almost inaudible voice. Pride
hastened to his relief, however, and his daily debates in college had
given him assurance and address. He recovered his poise, and as ideas
swam from his brain on the tide of a natural eloquence, he forgot all
but the great principle which possessed him in common with that jam of
weary men, the determination to inspire them to renewed courage and
greater activity. He rehearsed their wrongs, emphasized their
inalienable rights under the British Constitution--from which the
ministerial party and a foolish sovereign had practically divorced them.
He insisted that the time had come in their history to revert to the
_natural_ rights of man--upon which all civil rights were founded--since
they were no longer permitted to lead the lives of self-respecting
citizens, pursuing the happiness which was the first instinct of the
human intelligence; they had been reduced almost to the level of their
own slaves, who soon would cease to respect them.

He paused so abruptly that the crowd held its breath. Then his ringing
thrilling voice sounded the first note of the Revolution. "It is war!"
he cried. "It is war! It is the battlefield or slavery!"

When the deep roar which greeted the startling words had subsided, he
spoke briefly of their immense natural advantages, in the event of war,
the inability of England to gain any permanent advantage, and finally of
the vast resources of the country, and its phenomenal future, when the
"waves of rebellion, sparkling with fire, had washed back to the shores
of England the wrecks of her power, her wealth, and her glory."

His manner was as fiery and impetuous as his discourse was clear,
logical, and original. The great crowd was electrified. It was as if a
blade of lightning had shot down from the hot blue sky to illuminate the
doubting recesses of their understandings. They murmured repeatedly "It
is a collegian," "a collegian," and they thundered their applause when
he finished.

Troup and Fish bore him off in triumph to Fraunces' Tavern, where
Stevens joined them immediately, hot, but exultant.

"I've just passed our president, looking like an infuriated bumblebee,"
he cried. "I know he heard your speech from some hidden point of
vantage. It was a great speech, Alec. What a pity Hugh Knox, Mr. Lytton,
and Benny Yard were not there to hear. I'll write them about it
to-night, for St. Croix ought to burn a bonfire for a week. It was a
hurricane with a brain in it that whirled you straight to these
shores--as opportune for this country as for your own ambitions, for,
unless I'm much mistaken, you're going to be a prime factor in getting
rid of these pestiferous redcoats--we've a private room, so I can talk
as I please. One tried to trip me up just now, thinking I was you."

Fish leaned across the table and looked penetratingly at Hamilton, who
was flushed and nervous. The young New Yorker had a chubby face, almost
feminized by a soft parted fringe, but his features were strong, and his
eyes preternaturally serious.

"You've committed yourself, Hamilton," he said. "That was no college
play. Whether you fight or not doesn't so much matter, but you must give
us your pen and your speech. I'm no idle purveyor of compliments, but
you are extraordinary, and there isn't a man living can do for the cause
with his pen what you can do. Write pamphlets, and they'll be published
without an hour's delay."

"Ah, I see!" cried Hamilton, gaily. "I was a bit bewildered. You think
my new patriotism needs nursing. 'After all, he is a West Indian, born
British, brought up under Danish rule, which is like being coddled by
one's grandmother. He sympathizes with us, his mind is delighted with a
new subject for analysis and discourse, but patriotism--that is
impossible,' Is it not true?"

"You have read my thought," said Fish, with some confusion. "And you
have a great deal to occupy your mind. I never have known anyone whose
brain worked at so many things at once. I am selfish enough to want you
to give a good bit of it to us."

"I never was one to make fierce demonstrations," said Alexander; "but
fill up another bumper--the first has calmed my nerves, which were like
to jump through my skin--and stand up, and I'll drink you a pledge."

The three other young men sprang to their feet, and stood with their
glasses raised, their eyes anxiously fixed on young Hamilton. They had
believed him to be preparing himself for a great career in letters, and
knowing his tenacity and astonishing powers of concentration, had
doubted the possibility of interesting him permanently in politics. They
all had brains and experience enough--it was a hot quick time--to
recognize his genius, and to conceive the inestimable benefit it could
confer upon the colonial cause. Moreover, they loved him and wanted to
see him famous as quickly as possible.

"Stand up on the table," cried Troup. "It is where you belong; and
you're the biggest man in New York, to-day." As Hamilton, although
self-confident, was modest, Troup put down his bumper, seized the hero
in his big arms and swung him to the middle of the table. Then the
three, raising their glasses again, stood in a semi-circle. Hamilton
threw back his head and raised his own glass. His hand trembled, and his
lips moved for a moment without speaking, after his habit when excited.

"The pledge! The pledge!" cried Fish. "We want it."

"It is this," said Hamilton. "I pledge myself, body and soul and brain,
to the most sacred cause of the American colonies. I vow to it all my
best energies for the rest of my life. I swear to fight for it with my
sword; then when the enemy is driven out, and all the brain in the
country needed to reconstruct these tattered colonies and unify them
into one great state, or group of allied states, which shall take a
respectable place among nations, to give her all that I have learned,
all that my brain is capable of learning and conceiving. I believe that
I have certain abilities, and I solemnly swear to devote them wholly to
_my country_. And I further swear that never, not in a single instance,
will I permit my personal ambitions to conflict with what must be the
lifelong demands of this country."

He spoke slowly and with great solemnity. The hands of the three young
men shook, as they gulped down a little of the wine. Hamilton rarely was
serious in manner; even when discussing literature, politics, or any of
the great questions before the world, his humour and wit were in
constant play, a natural gift permitting this while detracting nothing
from the weight of his opinions. But his words and his manner were so
solemn to-day that they impressed his hearers profoundly, and they all
had a vague presentiment of what the unborn Country would owe to that

"You'll keep that, Alexander," said Fish. "Perhaps it were better for
you had you not made it so strong. I burn with patriotism, but I'd not
have you sacrificed--"

"I've made my vows," cried Hamilton, gaily, "and I'll not have you
mention the fact again that I'm not an American born. Here's not only to
liberty, but to a united people under the firmest national constitution
ever conceived by man."

"Amen," said Troup, "but that's looking well ahead. Hard as it will be
to get England out, it will be harder still to make New York and New
England love each other; and when it comes to hitching Massachusetts and
Virginia about each other's necks, I vow my imagination won't budge."

"It will come," said Hamilton, "because in no other way can they
continue to exist, much less become one of the nations of the earth.
This war is but an interlude, no matter how long it may take. Then will
come the true warfare of this country--the Great Battle of Ideas, and
our real history will begin while it is raging, while we are
experimenting; and there will be few greater chapters in any country. I
shall take part in that battle; how, it is too soon to know, except that
for union I shall never cease to strive until it is a fact. But it has
grown cooler. Let us ride up to the village of Harlem and have supper
under the trees."


It was not long after this that he wrote the pamphlets in reply to the
tracts assailing the Congress and aimed particularly at setting the
farmers against the merchants. These tracts were by two of the ablest
men on the Tory side, and were clever, subtle, and insinuating.
Hamilton's pamphlets were entitled, "A Full Vindication of the Measures
of Congress from the Calumnies of Their Enemies," and "The Farmer
Refuted; or a More Comprehensive and Impartial View of the Disputes
between Great Britain and the Colonies, Intended as a Further
Vindication of the Congress." It is not possible to quote these
pamphlets, and they can be found in his "Works," but they were
remarkable not only for their unanswerable logic, their comprehensive
arraignment of Britain, their close discussion of the rights of the
colonists under the British Constitution, their philosophical definition
of "natural rights," and their reminder that war was inevitable, but for
their anticipation of the future resources of the country, particularly
in regard to cotton and manufactures, and for the prophecies regarding
the treatment of the colonies by Europe. The style was clear, concise,
and bold, and with a finish which alone would have suggested a pen
pointed by long use.

These pamphlets, which created a profound sensation, were attributed to
William Livingston and John Jay, two of the ablest men on the patriot
side. That side was profoundly grateful, for they put heart into the
timid, decided the wavering, and left the Tory writers without a leg to
stand on. Nothing so brilliant had been contributed to the cause.

It was not long before the public had the author's name. Troup had been
present at the writing of the pamphlets, and he called on Dr. Cooper,
one day, and announced the authorship with considerable gusto.

"I'll not believe it," exclaimed the president, angrily; "Mr. Jay wrote
those pamphlets, and none other. A mere boy like that--it's absurd. Why
do you bring me such a story, sir? I don't like this Hamilton, he's too
forward and independent--but I have no desire to hear more ill of him."

"He wrote them, sir. Mulligan, in whose house he lives, and I, can prove
it. He's the finest brain in this country, and I mean you shall know

He left Dr. Cooper foaming, and went to spread the news elsewhere. The
effect of his revelation was immediate distinction for Hamilton. He was
discussed everywhere as a prodigy of intellect; messages reached him
from every colony. "Sears," said Willets, one of the leaders of the
Liberty party, "was a warm man, but with little reflection; McDougall
was strong-minded; and Jay, appearing to fall in with the measures of
Sears, tempered and controlled them; but Hamilton, after these great
writings, became our oracle."

Congress met in May, 1775, and word having come that Chatham's
conciliation bill had been rejected, and that Britain was about to send
an army to suppress the American rebellion, this body assumed sovereign
prerogatives. They began at once to organize an army; Washington was
elected Commander-in-chief, and they ordered that five thousand men be
raised to protect New York, as the point most exposed. The royal troops
were expelled, and the city placed in command of General Charles Lee, an
English soldier of fortune, who had fought in many lands and brought to
the raw army an experience which might have been of inestimable service,
had he been high-minded, or even well balanced. As it was, he very
nearly sacrificed the cause to his jealousy of Washington and to his
insane vanity.

Hamilton, meanwhile, published his two pamphlets on the Quebec Bill, and
took part in a number of public debates. At one of these, as he rose to
speak, a stranger remarked, "What brings that lad here? The poor boy
will disgrace himself." But the merchants, who were present in force,
listened intently to all he had to say on the non-importation agreement,
and admitted the force of his arguments toward its removal, now that war
practically had been declared. One of the most interesting of the
phenomena in the career of Hamilton was the entire absence of struggle
for an early hearing. People recognized his genius the moment they came
in contact with it, and older men saw only the extraordinary and mature
brain, their judgement quite unaffected by the boyish face and figure.
Those who would not admit his great gifts were few, for except in the
instances where he incurred jealous hate, he won everybody he met by his
charming manner and an entire absence of conceit. He was conscious of
his powers, but took them as a matter of course, and thought only of
what he would do with them, having no leisure to dwell on their quality.
In consequence, he already had a large following of unhesitating
admirers, many of them men twice his age, and was accepted as the
leading political philosopher of the country.

Dr. Cooper sent for him after his third pamphlet. He, too, was a patriot
in his way, and although he bristled whenever Hamilton's name was
mentioned, he had come in contact with too many minds not to recognize
ability of any sort; he knew that Hamilton would be invaluable to the
Royalist cause.

"Ask your own price, sir," he said, after suggesting the higher service
to which he could devote his pen. "You will find us more liberal--" But
Hamilton had bolted. It is impossible to knock down one's venerable
president, and his temper was still an active member in the family of
his faculties. To the numerous other offers he received from the Tory
side he made no reply, beyond inserting an additional sting into his pen
when writing for Holt's _Journal_. In the press he was referred to, now,
as "The Vindicator of Congress," and it was generally conceded that he
had done more to hasten matters to a climax, by preparing and whetting
the public mind, than anyone else in America.

There is no doubt that the swiftness and suddenness of Hamilton's
conversion, his abrupt descent from a background of study and alien
indifference, gave him a clearer and more comprehensive view of the
wrongs and needs of the colonists than they possessed themselves. They
had been muttering ever since the passage of the first stamp tax,
threatening, permitting themselves to be placated, hoping, despairing,
hoping again. Hamilton, from the first moment he grasped the subject,
saw that there was no hope in ministerial England, no hope in anything
but war. Moreover, his courage, naturally of the finest temper, and an
audacity which no one had ever discouraged, leapt out from that far
background of the West Indies into an arena where the natives moved in
an atmosphere whose damps of doubt and discouragement had corroded them
for years. Even among men whose courage and independence were of the
first quality, Hamilton's passionate energy, fearlessness of thought,
and audacity of expression, made him remarkable at once; and they drew
a long breath of relief when he uncompromisingly published what they had
long agreed upon over the dining-table, or built up the doctrine of
resistance with argument as powerful as it was new.

But the time rapidly approached for deeds, and Hamilton had been
occupied in other ways than writing pamphlets. During the past six
months he had studied tactics and gunnery, and had joined a volunteer
corps in order to learn the practical details of military science. All
his friends belonged to this corps, which called itself "Hearts of Oak,"
and looked very charming in green uniforms and leathern caps, inscribed
"Freedom or Death." They soon attracted the attention of General Greene,
a superior man and an accomplished officer. He took an especial fancy to
Hamilton, and great as was their disparity in years, they were close
friends until the General's death. It was Greene who first attracted
Washington's attention to the youngest of his captains, and Hamilton was
able to render the older man, whose services and talents have even yet
not been properly recognized by his country, exceptional service. The
company exercised in the churchyard of St. George's chapel, early in the
morning; for in spite of the swarms of recruits clad in every variety of
uniform, deserted houses, and daily flights of the timid into Jersey,
earthworks and fortifications, college went on as usual.

It was not long before the "Hearts of Oak" had an opportunity to
distinguish themselves. The provincial committee ordered them to remove
the cannon stationed at the Battery. In the harbour was the British
war-ship, _Asia_, which immediately sent off a boat to enquire into this
proceeding. A large number of armed citizens had escorted the little
corps to the Battery, and several lost their heads and fired at the
boat. There was an immediate broadside from the _Asia_. Three of the
militia were wounded, and one fell dead by Hamilton's side. "It is
child's play to a hurricane," he thought. "I doubt if a man could have a
better training for the battlefield." They removed the guns.

The result of this attack was another explosion of New York's nerves.
The Sons of Liberty made it unsafe for a Tory to venture abroad. They
marched through the streets shouting vengeance, burning in effigy, and
making alarming demonstrations before the handsome houses of certain
loyalists. Suddenly, about ten o'clock at night, they were animated by a
desire to offer up Dr. Cooper, and they cohered and swarmed down toward
King's. Hamilton and Troup happened to be walking in the grounds when
the sudden flare of torches and the approaching tide of sound, warned
them of the invasion. They ran like deer to head them off, but reached
the portico only a moment ahead of the mob, which knew that it must be
sudden and swift to be victorious.

"I can talk faster than you," whispered Hamilton, "I'll harangue them,
and it won't take Dr. Cooper long to understand and flee through the
back door--and may the devil fly away with him."

"A moment!" he cried, "I've something to say, and I may not have another
chance, war is so close upon us."

"'Tis young Hamilton," cried someone in the crowd. "Well, make us a
speech; we're always glad to hear you, but we'll not go home without old
Cooper. Don't think it."

Hamilton never remembered what nonsense he talked that night.
Fortunately words always came with a rush, and he could mix up politics,
wrongs, the clergy, and patriotism, in so picturesque a jumble that an
excited crowd would not miss his usual concise logic. "Do you suppose
he's gone?" he whispered, pausing to take breath.

"Go on, go on," said Troup nervously, "I hear someone moving."


There was a wild yell from the crowd, and a hoarse roar from above.
Hamilton and Troup looked up. Dr. Cooper's infuriated visage, surrounded
by a large frill, projected from his bedroom window. "Don't listen to
him," he shrieked, thrusting his finger at Hamilton. "He's crazy! He's

"The old fool," fumed Troup, "he thinks you're taking your just revenge.
If I could get inside--"

Dr. Cooper was jerked back by a friendly hand and the window slammed.
"Someone understands," whispered Troup, excitedly; "and they'll have him
out in two minutes. Go on, for heaven's sake."

Hamilton, who had been tearful with laughter, began again:--

"I appeal to you, my friends, am I crazy?" Indignant shouts of "No! No!"
"Then let me, I pray, make a few remarks on the possibility of holding
New York against the advancing fleet, that you can testify to my sanity
to-morrow, and save me from whatever unhappy fate this irascible
gentleman has in store for me."

"Go ahead! Go ahead!" cried someone in the mob. "We won't let him touch

And again Hamilton harangued them, until Troup slipped round to the rear
of the big building and returned with word that Dr. Cooper was safely
over the back fence and on his way to the _Asia_. When Hamilton
announced the flight, there was muttering, but more laughter, for the
mob was in a better humour than when it came.

"Well, that silver tongue of yours did the old man a good turn to-night,
but you shan't make fools of us again." And a few days later, when
Alexander attempted to head off the same mob as it made for the press of
Rivington, the Tory printer, they would not listen to him. But the
effort raised him still higher in the estimation of the patriots, for
they saw that his love of law and order was as great as his passion for


In January the convention of New York gave orders that a company of
artillery be raised. Hamilton, through Colonel McDougall of the First
New York regiment, at once applied for the captaincy, underwent an
examination that convinced the Congress of his efficiency, and on the
14th of March was appointed Captain of the Provincial Company of
Artillery. McDougall had already applied for "coarse blue cloth," with
which to clothe in a semblance of uniform those who already had
enlisted, and Hamilton took even better care of them. On May 26th he
wrote a brief, pointed, and almost peremptory letter to the Congress,
representing the injustice of paying his men less than the wages
received by the Continental artillery, adding that there were many marks
of discontent in his ranks, and that in the circumstances it was
impossible for him to get any more recruits. "On this account I should
wish to be immediately authorized to offer the same pay to all who may
be inclined to recruit," he wrote. He then went on to demand ten
shillings a head for every man he should be able to enlist, and that
each man of his company be allowed a frock as a bounty.

Congress passed a resolution as soon as the letter was read, granting
him all he asked for, but limiting his company to one hundred men. When
it was recruited to his satisfaction, it numbered ninety-one, exclusive
of himself and his four officers. Besides his Captain-Lieutenant, and
first, second, and third Lieutenants, he had three sergeants, three
corporals, six bombardiers, three gunners, two drummers, two fifers, a
barber, and seventy-one matrosses, or assistant gunners.

He had his troubles, and Congress came to the rescue whenever it
received one of his singularly unboyish letters, expressed, moreover,
with little more diffidence than if he had been Commander-in-chief. But
he knew what he wanted, and he never transcended courtesy; he was
evidently a favourite with the Congress. On July 26th he wrote demanding
a third more rations for his men, and on the 31st a resolution was
passed which marked an end to the disposition to keep his little company
on a level with the militia rather than with the regular army.
Thereafter he had no further complaints to carry to headquarters; but he
was annoyed to discover that one of his officers was a hard drinker, and
that the Lieutenant Johnson who had recruited the larger number of his
men before he assumed command, had disobeyed orders and enlisted them
for a year instead of for the term of war.

Meanwhile, although the very air quivered and every man went armed to
the teeth, if a war-ship fired a gun the streets were immediately filled
with white affrighted faces; and although redoubts were building day and
night, still Congress came out with no declaration, and the country
seemed all nerves and no muscle. The English fleet arrived and filled
the bay,--a beautiful but alarming sight. Washington came and made New
York his headquarters, called for more troops, and Brooklyn Heights were
fortified, lest the English land on Long Island and make an easy descent
on the city.

It is doubtful if the Americans have ever appreciated all they owe to
Lord Howe. He sat out in the harbour day after day, while they completed
their preparations, practically waiting until they announced themselves
ready to fight. But no man ever went to the wars with less heart for his
work, and he put off the ugly business of mowing down a people he
admired, hoping from day to day for an inspired compromise. It was not
until after the Declaration of Independence by the Congress, the wild
enthusiasm it excited throughout the colonies, and the repeated
declination of Washington to confer with Howe as a private citizen, that
our Chief received word the British Commander was landing troops on Long
Island, near Gravesend.

Several thousand troops were ordered across to reinforce the Brooklyn
regiments, and Hamilton's artillery was among them. He stood up in his
boat and stared eagerly at the distant ridge of hills, behind which some
twenty thousand British were lying on their arms with their usual easy
disregard of time, faint, perhaps, under the torrid sun of August. But
they were magnificently disciplined and officered, and nothing in
history had rivalled the rawness and stubborn ignorance of the American
troops. Hamilton had not then met Washington, but he knew from common
friends that the Chief was worried and disgusted by what he had seen
when inspecting the Brooklyn troops the day before. Greene, second only
to Washington in ability, who had been in charge of the Brooklyn
contingent, knowing every inch of the ground, was suddenly ill. Putnam
was in command, and the Chief was justified in his doubt of him, for
nothing in the mistakes of the Revolution exceeded his carelessness and
his errors of judgement during the battle of Long Island.

There were still two days of chafing inactivity, except in the matter of
strengthening fortifications, then, beginning with dawn of the 28th,
Hamilton had his baptism of fire in one of the bloodiest battlefields of
the Revolution.

The Americans were outgeneralled and outnumbered. Their attention was
distracted by land and water, while a British detachment, ten thousand
strong, crept over the ridge of hills by night, and through the Bedford
Pass, overpowering the guards before their approach was suspected. At
dawn they poured down upon the American troops, surprising them, not in
one direction, but in flank, in rear, and in front. The green woods
swarmed with redcoats, and the Hessians acted with a brutality
demoralizing to raw troops. Hamilton's little company behaved well, and
he was in the thick of the fight all day. The dead were in heaps, the
beautiful green slopes were red, there was not a hope of victory, but he
exulted that the colonies were fighting at last, and that he was acting;
he had grown very tired of talking.

He was driven from his position finally, and lost his baggage and a
field-piece, but did not take refuge within the redoubts until
nightfall. There, in addition to fatigue, hunger, a bed on the wet
ground, and the atmosphere of hideous depression which pressed low upon
the new revolutionists, he learned that Troup had been taken prisoner.
Then he discovered the depths to which a mercurial nature could descend.
He had been fiercely alive all day; the roar of the battle, the plunging
horses, the quickening stench of the powder, that obsession by the devil
of battles which makes the tenderest kill hot and fast, all had made him
feel something more than himself, much as he had felt in the hurricane
when he had fancied himself on high among the Berserkers of the storm.
In his present collapse he felt as if he were in a hole underground.

Washington arrived on the scene next morning, and for forty-eight hours
he barely left the saddle, encouraging the wretched men and exercising
an unceasing vigilance. For two long days they were inactive in the
rain. The Chief, having assured himself that the British aimed to obtain
command of the river, determined upon the retreat which ranks as one of
the greatest military achievements in history. On the night of the 29th,
under cover of a heavy fog, the feat of embarking nine thousand men,
with all the ammunition and field-pieces of the army, and ferrying them
across the East River with muffled oars, was accomplished within earshot
of the enemy. Washington rode from regiment to regiment, superintending
and encouraging, finally taking his stand at the head of the ferry
stairs. He stood there until the last man had embarked at four in the
morning. The last man was Hamilton. His was one of the regiments, and
the rear one, detailed to cover the retreat, to attract fire to itself
if necessary. His position was on the Heights, just outside the
intrenchments, at the point closest to the enemy. For nine hours he
hardly moved, his ear straining for the first indication that the
British heard the soft splashing of bare feet in the mud. The fog was so
thick that he could see nothing, not even the battalions of retreating
Americans; the forms of his own men were vague and gray of outline. He
never had fancied an isolation so complete, but his nerves stood the
strain; when they began to mutter he reminded himself of Mr. Cruger's
store and St. Croix. There was a false summons, and after turning his
back upon his post with a feeling of profound relief, he was obliged to
return and endure it for two hours longer. Did the fog lift he would
never see another. It was dawn when a messenger came with the news that
his turn positively had come, and he marched his men down the slope to
the ferry stairs. He passed close enough to Washington to see his
dejected, haggard face.

On the 15th of the following month, after much correspondence with
Congress, discussion, and voting, it was determined to abandon New York
City, and intrench the army on the Heights of Harlem. Hamilton was
bitterly disappointed; he wanted to defend the city, and so had three
of the generals, but they were overruled, and the march began on a
blazing Sunday morning. It was not only the army that marched, but all
the inhabitants of the town who had not escaped to the Jersey shore. The
retreat was under the command of General Putnam, and guided through all
the intricacies of those thirteen winding miles by his aide-de-camp,
Aaron Burr. The last man in the procession was Alexander Hamilton.

"So, you're covering again, Alexander," said Fish, as he passed him on
his way to his own regiment,--the New York, of which he was
brigade-major. "You can't complain that your adopted country doesn't
make use of you. By the way, Troup is in the Jersey prison-ship, safe
and sound."

"Can't we exchange him?" asked Hamilton, eagerly, "Do you think General
Washington would listen to us?"

"If we have a victory. I shouldn't care to approach him at present. God!
This is an awful beginning. The whole army is ready to dig its own
grave. The only person of the lot who has any heart in him to-day is
little Burr. He's like to burst with importance because he leads and we
follow. He's a brave little chap, but such a bantam one must laugh.
Well, I hate to leave you here, the very last man to be made a target
of. You won't be rash?" he added anxiously.

"No, granny," said Hamilton, whose gaiety had revived as he heard of
Troup's safety. "And I'd not exchange my position for any."


Handshakes in those days were solemn. Fish feared that he never should
see Hamilton again, and his fear was close to being realized.

It was a long, hot, dusty, miserable march; some lay down by the wayside
and died. Hamilton had been bred in the heat of the Tropics, but he had
ridden always, and to-day he was obliged to trudge the thirteen miles on
foot. He had managed to procure horses for his guns and caissons, but
none for himself and his officers.

It was on the Hoagland farm at the junction of the Kingsbridge and
Bloomingdale roads that a serious skirmish occurred, and Hamilton and
his men stood the brunt of it. The tired column was almost through the
pass, when a detachment of British light infantry suddenly appeared on
the right. Fortunately the cannon had not entered the pass, and were
ready for action. Hamilton opened fire at once. There was a sharp
engagement, but the British were finally driven off. Then the defenders
of the column made good their own retreat, for they knew that by now the
redcoats were swarming over the island.

Toward night a cold wind and rain swept in from the ocean. When the
little army finally reached Harlem Heights they were obliged to sleep on
the wet ground without so much as a tent to cover them, then arise at
dawn and dig trenches. But by night they were men again, they had ceased
to be dogged machines: the battle of Harlem Heights had been fought and
won. The British had begun the battle in the wrong place and at the
wrong time, and all the natural advantages of that land of precipices,
forests, gorges, wooded hills, and many ravines, were with the
Americans. Again Hamilton worked in the thick of the fight during the
four hours it lasted, but like everybody else he went to sleep happy.


He rose at dawn the next morning, and rousing his men, set them at work
throwing up redoubts. He was standing some distance from them, watching
the sun rise over the great valley they had been forced to abandon, with
its woods and beautiful homes, now the quarters of British officers,
when every nerve in his body became intensely aware that some one was
standing behind him. He knew that it was a man of power before he
whirled round and saw Washington.

"This is Captain Hamilton?" said the Chief, holding out his hand.
"General Greene spoke to me, weeks ago, about you, but I have been in no
mood until to-day for amenities. I know of your part in the retreat
from Long Island, and I noticed you as you passed me on the ferry
stairs. What a lad you are! I am very proud of you."

"I had asked for no reward, sir," cried Hamilton, with a smile so
radiant that Washington's set face caught a momentary reflection from
it, and he moved a step nearer, "but I feel as if you had pinned an
order on my coat."

"I have heard a great deal more about you," said Washington, "and I want
to know you. Will you come up and have breakfast with me?"

"_Oh, yes, I will_," said Hamilton, with such seriousness that they both
laughed. Hamilton's personal pride was too great to permit him to feel
deeply flattered by the attentions of any one, but the halo about
Washington's head was already in process of formation; he stood aloft,
whether successful or defeated, a strong, lonely, splendid figure, and
he had fired Hamilton's imagination long since. At that time he was
ready to worship the great Chief with all a boy's high enthusiasm, and
although he came to know him too well to worship, he loved him, save at
intervals, always. As for Washington, he loved Hamilton then and there,
and it is doubtful if he ever loved any one else so well. When they were
alone he called him "my boy," an endearment he never gave another.

On that September morning they breakfasted together, and talked for
hours, beginning a friendship which was to be of the deepest
consequences to the country they both were striving to deliver.

During the following month Hamilton had much leisure, and he spent it in
the library of the Morris house, which its owner, a royalist, had
abandoned on the approach of the American troops, fleeing too hurriedly
to take his books. The house was now General Washington's headquarters,
and he invited Hamilton to make what use of the library he pleased. It
was a cool room, and he found there many of the books he had noted down
for future study. He also wrote out a synopsis of a political and
commercial history of Great Britain. As the proclivities and furnishing
of a mind like Hamilton's cannot fail to interest the students of
mankind, a digression may be pardoned in favour of this list of books
he made for future study, and of the notes scattered throughout his pay

     Smith's History of New York; Leonidas; View of the Universe;
     Millot's History of France; Memoirs of the House of Brandenburgh;
     Review of the Characters of the Principal Nations of Europe; Review
     of Europe; History of Prussia; History of France; Lassel's Voyage
     through Italy; Robertson's Charles V; Present State of Europe;
     Grecian History; Baretti's Travels; Bacon's Essays; Philosophical
     Transactions; Entick's History of the Late War; European
     Settlements in America; Winn's History of America.

     The Dutch in Greenland have from 150 to 200 sail and ten thousand
     seamen.... It is ordered that in their public prayers they pray
     that it should please God to bless the Government, the Lords, the
     States, and their great and small fisheries.

     Hamburg and Germany have a balance against England--they furnish
     her with large quantities of linen.

     Trade with France greatly against England.... The trade with
     Flanders in favour of England.... A large balance in favour of
     Norway and Denmark.

     Rates of Exchange with the several Nations in 52, viz.: To Venice,
     Genoa, Leghorn, Amsterdam, Hamburgh. To Paris--Loss, Gain.

     Postlethwaite supposes the quantity of cash necessary to carry on
     the circulation in a state one third of the rents to the land
     proprietors, or one ninth of the whole product of the lands. See
     the articles, Cash and Circulation.

     The par between land and labour is twice the quantity of land whose
     product will maintain the labourer. In France one acre and a half
     will maintain one. In England three, owing to the difference in the
     manner of living.

     Aristotle's Politics, chap. 6, definition of money, &c.

     The proportion of gold and silver, as settled by Sir Isaac Newton's
     proposition, was 1 to 14. It was generally through Europe 1 to 15.
     In China I believe it is 1 to 10.

     It is estimated that the labour of twenty-five persons, on an
     average, will maintain a hundred in all the necessaries of life.

     Postlethwaite, in his time, supposes six millions of people in
     England. The ratio of increase has been found by a variety of
     observations to be, that 100,000 people augment annually, one year
     with another to--. Mr. Kerseboom, agreeing with Dr. Halley, makes
     the number of people thirty-five times the number of births in a

     Extracts from Demosthenes' Orations.

     Philippic. "As a general marches at the head of his troops, so
     ought wise politicians, if I dare use the expression, to march at
     the head of affairs; insomuch that they ought not to wait _the
     event_, to know what measures to take; but the measures which they
     have taken ought to produce the _event_."

     "Where attack him? it will be said. Ah, Athenians--war, war, itself
     will discover to you his weak sides, if you will seek them."

     Sublimely simple. Vide Long. C. 16.

     Are the limits of the several states and the acts on which they are
     founded ascertained, and are our ministers provided with them? What
     intelligence has been given to Congress by our ministers of the
     designs, strength by sea and land, actual interests and views of
     the different powers in Europe?

     The government established (by Lycurgus) remained in vigour about
     five hundred years, till a thirst of empire tempted the Spartans to
     entertain foreign troops, and introduce Persian gold to maintain
     them; then the institutions of Lycurgus fell at once, and avarice
     and luxury succeeded.

     He (Numa) was a wise prince, and went a great way in civilizing the
     Romans. The chief engine he employed for this purpose was religion,
     which could alone have sufficient empire over the minds of a
     barbarous and warlike people to engage them to cultivate the arts
     of peace.

     Dr. Halley's Table of Observations exhibiting the probabilities of
     life; containing an account of the whole number of people of
     Breslau, capital of Silesia, and the number of those of every age,
     from one to a hundred. (Here follows the table with comments by

     When the native money is worth more than the par in foreign,
     exchange is high; when worth less, it is low.

     Portugal trade--Spanish trade--Artificers--Money--Exchange--Par of
     exchange--Balance of
     Power--Council of trade--Fishery.

     Money coined in England from the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

     Quere. Would it not be advisable to let all taxes, even those
     imposed by the States, be collected by persons of Congressional
     appointment; and would it not be advisable to pay the collectors so
     much per cent. on the sums collected?

Hamilton was nineteen at this time, and while there are many instances
of mental precocity in the history of mankind, it is doubtful if there
is a parallel case of so great a _range_ of intellectual curiosity, or
such versatility combined with pursuit of knowledge as distinct from
information. But the above notes are chiefly significant as showing that
long before he could have dreamed of directing the finances of the
United States, while he was wild with delight at the prospect of
military excitement and glory, a part of his mind was imperiously
attracted to the questions which were to become identified in American
history with his name.

Washington often came in and sat for an hour with him; and although they
talked military science and future campaigns invariably,--for
Washington was a man of little reading and his thoughts moved in a
constant procession to one tune,--this was perhaps the happiest period
of their intercourse. The Chief demanded nothing, and his young friend
was free to give or not, as he chose. In that interval nothing gave
Hamilton such pleasure as to see Washington come into the cool library,
his face softening.

"You have a streak of light in you that never goes out," said the man of
many burdens once. "When I catch a spark of it, I am cheered for the
rest of the day. When I am close to it for a time, I can feel the iron
lid on my spirits lifting as if it were on a bubbling pot. I believe you
are something more than human."

During the first of these conversations Hamilton suggested the
advisability of keeping up the spirits of the raw troops by drawing the
enemy in separate detachments into constant skirmishes, a plan in which
the Americans were sure to have every advantage; and this policy was
pursued until Washington fell back into Westchester County.

The American troops under Washington numbered about nineteen thousand
men, in one-third of whom the Chief felt something like confidence. Many
were grumbling at the prospect of a winter in the discomforts of camp
life; others were rejoicing that their time of service drew to a close;
all were raw. Nevertheless, he determined to give the British battle on
the shore of the Bronx River, where they were camped with the intention
of cutting him off from the rest of the country.

Both armies were near White Plains on the morning of the 28th of
October. Most of the Americans were behind the breastworks they had
thrown up, and the British were upon the hills below, on the opposite
side of the Bronx. On the American side of the stream was an eminence
called Chatterton's Hill, and on the evening of the 27th Colonel Haslet
was stationed on this height, with sixteen hundred men, in order to
prevent the enfilading of the right wing of the army. Early the next
morning McDougall was ordered to reinforce Haslet with a small corps
and two pieces of artillery under Hamilton, and to assume general

At ten o'clock the British army began its march toward the village, but
before they reached it, Howe determined that Chatterton's Hill should be
the first point of attack, and four thousand troops under Leslie moved
off to dislodge the formidable looking force on the height.

Hamilton placed his two guns in battery on a rocky ledge about halfway
down the hill, and bearing directly upon that part of the Bronx which
the British were approaching. He was screened from the enemy by a small
grove of trees. The Hessians, who were in the lead, refused to wade the
swollen stream, and the onslaught was checked that a bridge might
hastily be thrown together for their accommodation. Hamilton waited a
half-hour, then poured out his fire. The bridge was struck, the workmen
killed, the Hessians fell back in a panic. Leslie appealed to the
loyalty of the British, forded the river at another point, and rushed up
the hill with bayonets fixed, resolved to capture the guns. But the guns
flashed with extraordinary rapidity. Both the British and the watching
Americans were amazed. There were no tin canisters and grape-shot in the
American army, even the round shot were exhausted. Loading cannon with
musket balls was a slow process; but Hamilton was never without
resource. He stood the cannon on end, filled his three-cornered hat with
the balls, and loaded as rapidly as had he leaped a century. His guns
mowed down the British in such numbers that Leslie fell back, and
joining the Hessian grenadiers and infantry, who had now crossed the
stream, charged up the southwestern declivity of the hill and
endeavoured to turn McDougall's right flank. McDougall's advance opposed
them hotly, while slowly retreating toward the crown of the eminence.
The British cavalry attacked the American militia on the extreme right,
and the raw troops fled ignominiously. McDougall, with only six hundred
men and Hamilton's two guns, sustained an unequal conflict for an hour,
twice repulsing the British light infantry and cavalry. But the attack
on his flank compelled him to give way and retreat toward the
intrenchments. Under cover of a heavy rainstorm and of troops despatched
in haste, he retreated in good order with his wounded and artillery,
leaving the victors in possession of a few inconsiderable breastworks.

Fort Washington was betrayed, and fell on the 16th of November. Then
began that miserable retreat of the American army through the Jerseys,
with the British sometimes in full pursuit, sometimes merely camping on
the trail of the hapless revolutionists. For Washington's force was now
reduced to thirty-five hundred, and they were ragged, half fed, and
wretched in mind and body. Many had no shoes, and in one regiment there
was not a pair of trousers. They left the moment their leave expired,
and recruits were drummed up with great difficulty. Washington was
obliged to write eight times to General Lee, who was at North Castle
with a considerable force, before he was able to hope for relief in that

Hamilton had a horse at times, at others not. But his vitality was proof
against even those endless days and nights of marching and
countermarching, through forests and swamps, in the worst of late autumn
and winter weather; and he kept up the spirits of his little regiment,
now reduced from bullets, exposure, and the expiration of service to
thirty men. Nevertheless, he held the British in check at the Raritan
River while the Americans destroyed the bridge, and when Washington,
after having crossed the Delaware, determined to recross it on Christmas
night and storm Trenton, he was one of the first to be chosen, with what
remained of his men and guns.

As they crossed the Delaware that bitter night, the snow stinging and
blinding, the river choked with blocks of ice, Hamilton for the first
time thought on St. Croix with a pang of envy. But it was the night for
their purpose, and all the world knows the result. The victory was
followed on the 3d of January by the capture of Princeton; and here
Hamilton's active military career came to an end for the present.

     Well do I recollect the day [wrote a contemporary] when Hamilton's
     company marched into Princeton. It was a model of discipline. At
     their head was a boy, and I wondered at his youth; but what was my
     surprise, when, struck with his slight figure, he was pointed out
     to me as that Hamilton of whom we had heard so much.

     I noticed [a veteran officer said many years after] a youth, a mere
     stripling, small, slender, almost delicate in frame, marching
     beside a piece of artillery, with a cocked hat pulled down over his
     eyes, apparently lost in thought; with his hand resting on a
     cannon, and every now and again patting it as if it were a
     favourite horse or a pet plaything.




Hamilton's body succumbed to the climax of Trenton and Princeton upon
months of hardship and exposure, and he was in hospital for a week with
a rheumatic fever. But Troup, whose exchange had been effected, was with
him most of the time, and his convalescence was made agreeable by many
charming women. He was not the only brilliant young man in the army, for
Troup, Fish, Burr, Marshall, were within a few months or, at most, a
year or two of his age, and there were many others; men had matured
early in that hot period before the Revolution, when small boys talked
politics, and even the women thought of little else; but Hamilton,
through no fault of his, had inspired his friends with the belief that
he was something higher than human, and they never tired of sounding his
praises. Moreover, Washington had not hesitated to say what he thought
of him, and the mere fact that he had won the affection of that austere
Chieftain was enough to give him celebrity. At all events, he was a
dazzling figure, and pretty women soothed many a weary hour. As for
Troup, who was unpleasantly anatomical, he had a fresh story for every
day of the horrors of the prison cattle-ship _Mentor_, where half the
prisoners had died of filth, starvation, and fever, from putrid water
and brutal treatment.

But never was there a more impatient invalid than Hamilton. He was
astonished and disgusted that his body should defy his mind, and at the
first moment possible he was up and about his duties with the army at
Morristown. Troup was ordered to join the army under Gates in the North.

Morristown was a natural fortress, a large fertile valley, protected by
precipitous hills and forests, yet with defiles known to the Americans,
through which they could retreat if necessary. It was within striking
distance of New Brunswick and Amboy, in which towns Washington kept the
British cooped up for months, not permitting them to cut a stick of
forest wood without fighting for it. "Here was seen," to quote Hamilton,
"the spectacle of a powerful army straitened within narrow limits by the
phantom of a military force, and never permitted to transgress those
limits with impunity; in which skill supplied the place of means, and
disposition was the substitute for an army."

Congress had invested Washington with such extraordinary powers after
the brilliant exploit at Trenton, that in Europe he was called "The
Dictator of America." Therein lay the sole cause of the ultimate victory
of the Revolutionists, and had the States been more generous, and less
jealous of delegating powers to Congress, he would have driven out the
British in short order.

Mrs. Washington had joined her General--she kept an eye on him--at
Freeman's Tavern, which had been converted into comfortable
headquarters, and he was happy in his military family: Colonel Harrison,
indefatigable and fearless, affectionately known as "Old Secretary";
Tench Tilghman of Maryland, young, accomplished, cheerful, devoted to
Washington and serving without pay, for his fortune was considerable;
Richard Kidder Meade, sprightly, enthusiastic, always willing to slave;
and John Fitzgerald,--all in an attitude of perpetual adoration. But he
lacked a secretary of the requisite ability, and as soon as he heard of
Hamilton's return to camp he sent for him.

Hamilton was feeling almost well, and he walked rapidly across the
village green to headquarters, delighted at the prospect of seeing
Washington again. He had acquired a military air and walked more erectly
than ever, for he was somewhat sensitive of his juvenile appearance. He
found Washington in a front room on the second floor. The General wore
his usual blue and buff, and looked less harassed and worn than when he
had last seen him. He rose and shook hands warmly with Hamilton, who
thanked him again for the messages he had received while in hospital.

"I would have had you brought here if there had been any place to make
you comfortable; and I am going to ask you to come and live with me
now--as my aide and secretary."

Hamilton sprang to his feet impetuously. "Oh, sir!" he exclaimed, "I
don't want to leave the regular line of promotion! I don't want to leave
my men. I'm much attached to them. And I'll not deny my ambition, sir; I
want opportunities to distinguish myself. I've already refused two
generals. This war will last for years. There is no reason in the world
why I should not be a general in three."

"No," said Washington, "there is none; there is every possibility of
your becoming one of the most brilliant figures on the revolutionary
battlefields. I admit that, and I understand your ambition.
Nevertheless, I think I can prove to you that there is another way in
which you can serve your country better. I know your uncompromising
sense of duty and your high patriotism, and I am sure you will accept my
invitation when I prove to you that while there are hundreds to fight
valorously, even brilliantly, there is scarcely a man I can get to write
my letters who can do more than punctuate properly or turn a sentence
neatly. You must know the inexpressible value of a brilliant
accomplished versatile secretary, with a brain capable of grasping every
question that arises--and you can imagine how many of that sort have
come my way. I have been driven nearly distracted, dictating,
explaining, revising--when I have so much else to think of. Besides the
constant correspondence with the Congress and the States, something else
is always turning up--to-day it is the exchange of prisoners, a most
important and delicate matter. Were you my secretary, you would also be
my brain: a word would be sufficient. I could trust you so implicitly
that if matters pressed I could confidently sign my name to whatever you
wrote without reading it over. There is no one else living of whom I can
say that. You are the most useful young man in America, and if you will
give your great brain to this country from this time on, she will be far
more grateful to you than if you merely continued to fight, splendidly
as you have done that. And _I_ need you--I have no words to tell you how

"Sir," said Hamilton, deeply touched, "no human being could withstand
such an appeal, and your words of praise are glory enough. I will come
as soon as you say, and do the best I can."

"Come at once. The British persist in treating us as rebels. It is for
you, with your inspired pen, to force and coax them to regard us with
the respect an educated thinking people--not a horde of ignorant rebels,
as they imagine--deserve. If you do that, you will do a greater service
to your country than if you rose to be first in military rank. Here are
some notes. When you have finished, write to Congress and ask for the
rank of Lieutenant-Colonel; and move up here to-day, if possible. I
cannot tell you how happy I shall be to have you a member of my family."

Washington had won his point. A shrewd judge of men, he had calculated
upon Hamilton succumbing to an appeal to his sense of patriotic
duty--the strongest passion in his passionate nature. Much as he loved
Hamilton, he had no hesitation in using him, and our petted young hero
was to learn what work meant for the first time in his life. He wrote
most of the day, often half the night; but although he chafed angrily at
the confinement, beat many a tattoo on the floor with his heels, and
went for a hard ride more than once that he might keep his temper, the
result was that mass of correspondence, signed "George Washington,"
which raised the commander of the American forces so high in the
estimation of Europe, adding to his military renown the splendour of a
profound and luminous intellect.

There was, also, some correspondence with the Congress regarding the
disposition of his artillery men. He insisted upon definite provision
for them, and they were permitted to enlist in the Continental Army.
They loved him, and the final parting on March 18th, with cannon as
well as men!--made him ill for half a day.

Otherwise his life at Headquarters was very pleasant Tilghman and Meade
became two of the most congenial friends he ever made. The tavern was
comfortable, and he had a room to himself for a time. The dining room
reunions were agreeable in spite of their formality. Besides the amiable
military family, and the most motherly of women, who knit him stockings
and kept his wardrobe in order, there were frequent visitors. The
Livingston girls were spending the winter with their aunt, Lady
Sterling, and, with their beautiful cousin, the Lady Kitty Alexander,
often drove over to a five o'clock dinner or the more informal supper.
The Boudinots and Morgans, the generals in camp at Morristown and their
wives, and the more distinguished officers, were frequently dined at
Headquarters. Washington sat halfway in the table's length, with Mrs.
Washington opposite. Hamilton was placed at the head of the table on the
day of his arrival, a seat he retained while a member of the family. The
Chief encouraged him to talk, and it must be confessed that he talked
from the time he sat down till the meal finished. His ideas were always
on the rush, and talking was merely thinking aloud. As he expressed
himself with wit and elegance, and on subjects which interested them all
profoundly, illuminating everything he touched, old men and young would
lean forward and listen with respect to the wisdom of a young man who
was yet an infant in the eyes of the law. How he escaped being
insufferably spoiled can only be explained by the ceaseless activity of
his brain, and the fact that the essence of which prigs are made was not
in him. That he was utterly without commonplace conceit is indisputable,
for he was the idol of the family. Harrison christened him "The Little
Lion," a name his friends used for their aptest designation as long as
he lived, and assumed a paternal relation which finished only with the
older man's death. The Lady-in-chief made such a pet of him that he was
referred to in the irreverent Tory press as "Mrs. Washington's

"Alexander," said Kitty Livingston to him, one day, "have a care. You
are too fortunate. The jealous gods will smite you."

But Hamilton, thinking of those terrible months in the previous year, of
mental anxiety and physical hardship, when, in bitter weather, he had
often gone hungry and insufficiently clothed, and of his present arduous
duties, concluded there was a fine balance in his affairs which
doubtless would placate the gods.


In May and July there were illustrious additions to Washington's
family,--John Laurens and Lafayette. Both became the intimate friends of
Hamilton, the former one of the few passionate attachments of his life.
Although Hamilton was by no means indifferent to the affection he
inspired in nine-tenths of the people he met, he did not himself love
easily. He was too analytical, he saw people too precisely as they were,
and his acquaintance with human nature had made him too cynical to
permit the flood gates of his affections to open except under uncommon
stress. He dreaded disappointment. For Troup, Fish, Stevens, Meade, and
Tilghman he had a deep affection and served their interests ardently;
for Washington a contradictory budget of emotions, which were sometimes
to be headed "respectful affection," at others "irritated resentment,"
now and again a moment of adoration. While he could not pay sufficient
tribute to Washington's magnanimity and generosity, he had by now seen
him in too many tempers, had been ground too fine in his greedy machine,
to think on him always with unqualified enthusiasm. Lafayette,
brilliant, volatile, accomplished, bubbling with enthusiasm for the
cause of Liberty, and his own age within a few months, he liked
sincerely and always. There was no end to the favours he did him, and
Lafayette loved no one better in his long and various career. Women,
Hamilton fancied sharply and forgot quickly.

But Laurens, the "young Bayard of the Revolution," fresh from the
colleges and courts of Europe, a man so handsome that, we are told,
people experienced a certain shock when he entered the room, courtly,
accomplished to the highest degree, of flawless character, with a mind
as noble and elevated as it was intellectual, and burning with the most
elevated patriotism,--he took Hamilton by storm, capturing judgement as
well as heart, and loving him as ardently in return.

Like Hamilton, Laurens was of Huguenot descent; he was born in South
Carolina, of a distinguished family. Against the expressed wish of his
father he had returned to America, made his way to Headquarters and
offered his services to Washington, who immediately attached him to his
military household. The unhappiest of men, praying for death on every
battlefield, he lived long enough to distinguish himself by a bravery so
reckless, by such startling heroic feats, that he was, beyond all
question, the popular young hero of the Revolution. He worshipped
Washington as one might worship a demi-god, and risked his life for him
on two occasions. But Hamilton was the friend of his life; the bond
between them was romantic and chivalrous. Each burned to prove the
strength of his affection, to sacrifice himself for the other. Laurens
slaved at Washington's less important correspondence, and Hamilton's
turn came later. The age has passed for such friendships; but at that
time, when young men were nurtured on great ideas, when they were
sacrificing themselves in a sacred cause, and had seen next to nothing
of the frivolities of life, they were understandable enough.

Hamilton was obliged to share his room with both the young men, and they
slept on three little cots in a small space. When the nights were
insufferably hot they would go out and lie on the grass and talk until
they were in a condition to sleep anywhere. Hamilton would forecast the
next movement of the enemy; Laurens and Lafayette would tell all they
knew about military science in Europe; and then they would discuss the
future of the liberated country and the great ideals which must govern
her. And when men can be idealistic while fighting the Jersey mosquito,
it must be admitted that they are of the stuff to serve their country

But all this delightful intercourse was interrupted in August.
Washington gave battle to the British at Brandywine, was defeated, and
in the following month surprised them at Germantown, and was defeated
again. Nevertheless, he had astonished the enemy with his strength and
courage so soon after a disastrous battle. To hold Philadelphia was
impossible, however, and the British established themselves in the
Capital of the colonies, making, as usual, no attempt to follow up their

Washington went into temporary quarters near the village of Whitemarsh.
His own were in a baronial hall at the head of a beautiful valley. Old
trees shaded the house, and a spring of pure water bubbled in a fountain
before the door. The men were encamped on the hills at the north.

There was a great hall through the centre of the mansion, and here
Washington held his audiences and councils of war. The house throughout
was of extreme elegance, and much to the taste of the younger members of
the family, particularly of Hamilton, who spent the greater part of his
leisure in the library. But his enjoyment of this uncommon luxury was

Washington must have reinforcements or his next engagement might be his
last. There was but one source from which he could obtain a considerable
supply, and that was from the army of Gates in the North. But Gates was
swollen with the victory of Saratoga and the capture of Burgoyne, and
was suspected to be in the thick of an intrigue to dethrone Washington
and have himself proclaimed Commander-in-chief. At the moment he was the
idol of the army, and of the northern and eastern States, for his
victories were tangible and brilliant, while Washington's surer
processes were little appreciated. Therefore to get troops from him
would be little less difficult than to get them from Lord Howe, short of
a positive command, and this prerogative Washington did not think it
politic to use. He called a council of war, and when it was over he
went to his private office and sent for Alexander Hamilton.

He looked haggard, as if from sleepless nights, and for a moment after
Hamilton entered the room, although he waved his hand at a chair, he
stared at him without speaking. Hamilton divined what was coming--he
attended all councils of war--and sat forward eagerly. The prospect of a
holiday from clerical work would alone have filled him with youth, and
he knew how great a service he might be able to render the cowering

"Hamilton," said Washington, finally, "you are as much in my secret
thoughts as I am myself. If I attempted to deceive you, you would divine
what I withheld. It is a relief to speak frankly to you, I dare not
demand these troops from Gates, because there is more than a possibility
he would defy me, and that the Congress and a large part of the army
would sustain him. He has given sufficient evidence of his temper in
sending me no official notice of the battle of Saratoga. But unless I am
to meet with overwhelming disaster here, I must have reinforcements. It
may be possible to extract these by diplomacy, and I have selected you
for the mission, because I feel sure that you will not forget the issues
at stake for a moment, because you never lose your head, and because you
will neither be overawed by Gates's immediate splendour, nor will you
have any young desire to assert the authority which I give you as a last
resort. There is another point: If you find that Gates purposes to
employ his troops on some expedition, by the prosecution of which the
common cause will be more benefited than by their being sent down to
reinforce this army, you must suspend your consideration for me. God
knows I am tender of my reputation, and I have no wish to be disgraced,
but we are or should be fighting for a common cause and principle, and
should have little thought of individual glory. However, I do not
believe in the disinterestedness of Gates, nor in his efficiency on a
large scale. But I leave everything in your hands."

Hamilton stood up, his chest rising, and stared at his Chief.

"Sir," he said, after a moment, "do you appreciate that you are placing
your good name and your future in my hands?" For a moment he realized
that he was not yet of age.

"You are the only being to whom I can confide them, and who can save
this terrible situation."

"And you have the magnanimity to say that if Gates has a chance of other
victories to let him go unhindered?" He had one of his moments of
adoration and self-abnegation for this man, whose particular virtues, so
little called upon in ordinary affairs, gave him so lonely a place among

Washington jerked his head. There was nothing more to say. Hamilton's
head dropped for a moment, as if he felt the weight of an iron helmet,
and his lips moved rapidly.

"Are you saying your prayers when your lips work like that?" asked
Washington, crossly.

Hamilton threw back his head with a gay laugh. His eyes were sparkling,
his nostrils dilating; his whole bearing was imperious and triumphant.
"Never mind that. I'll undertake this mission gladly, sir, and I think
I'll not fail. My old friend Troup is his aide. He will advise me of
many things. I'll bring you back those regiments, sir. One way or
another a thing can always be managed."

The light in Hamilton's face was reflected on Washington's. "You are my
good genius," he said shortly. "Take care of yourself. You will have to
ride hard, for there is no time to lose, but be careful not to take
cold. I shall give you orders in writing. Come back as soon as you can.
I believe I am not lacking in courage, but I always have most when you
are close by."

There is a print somewhere representing Hamilton setting forth on this
mission. He is mounted on a handsome white horse, and wears a long green
cloak, one end thrown over a shoulder. His three-cornered hat is pulled
low over his eyes. In the rear is an orderly.

He started on the 30th of October, riding hard through the torn desolate
country, toward Newburg on the Hudson. He was three days making the
distance, although he snatched but a few hours' rest at night, and but
a few moments for each meal. From Newburg he crossed to Fishkill and,
acting on his general instructions, ordered Putnam to despatch southward
three brigades; and on his own account despatched seven hundred Jersey
militia on the same expedition.

He then started hot and hard for Albany, a dangerous as well as
exhausting journey, for neither savage tribes nor redcoats could be far
in the distance. His mental anxiety by now wore as severely as the
physical strain. None knew better than he that his talents were not for
diplomacy. He was too impatient, too imperious, too direct for its
sinuous methods. On the other hand, he had a theory that a first-rate
mind could, for a given time, be bent in any direction the will
commanded, and he had acquired an admirable command of his temper. But
the responsibility was terrific, and he was half ill when he reached
Albany. He presented himself at General Gates's headquarters at once.

Gates, like Lee, was a soldier of fortune; and low-born, vain, weak, and
insanely ambitious. He had been advised of Hamilton's coming, and had no
intention of giving Washington an opportunity to rival his own
achievements and reëstablish himself with the army and the Congress. He
received Hamilton surrounded by several of his military family; and for
the first time our fortunate hero encountered in high places active
enmity and dislike. He had incurred widespread jealousy on account of
his influence over Washington, and for the important part he was playing
in national affairs. To the enemies of the Commander-in-chief he
represented that exalted personage, and was particularly obnoxious.
Never was a youth in a more difficult position.

"I cannot expose the finest arsenal in America," said Gates, pompously,
"to the possibility of destruction. Sir Henry Clinton may return at any
minute. Nor could I enterprise against Ticonderoga were my army
depleted. Nor can I leave the New England States open to the ravages and
the depredations of the enemy."

These statements made no impression on Hamilton, and he argued
brilliantly and convincingly for his object, but Gates was inflexible.
He would send one brigade and no more.

Hamilton retired, uneasy and dejected. Gates had an air of omnipotence,
and his officers had not concealed their scorn. He hesitated to use his
authority, for a bold defiance on the part of Gates might mean the
downfall of Washington, perhaps of the American cause. That Washington
was practically the American army, Hamilton firmly believed. If he fell,
it was more than likely that the whole tottering structure would

Another reason inclined him not to press Gates too far. He had been able
to order seventy-seven hundred troops from Fishkill, which was more than
Washington had expected, although by no means so many as he needed. He
therefore wrote to the Chief at length, sent for Troup, and threw
himself on the bed; he was well-nigh worn out.

Troup was already in search of him, and met the messenger. Big and
bronzed, bursting with spirits, he seemed to electrify the very air of
the room he burst into without ceremony. Hamilton sat up and poured out
his troubles.

"You have an affinity for posts of danger," said Troup. "I believe you
to be walking over a powder-mine here. I am not in their confidence, for
they know what I think of Washington, but I believe there is a cabal on
foot, and that Gates may be in open rebellion any minute. But he's a
coward and a bully. Treat him as such. Press your point and get your
troops. He is but the tool of a faction, and I doubt if they could make
him act when it came to the point. He wants to make another grand coup
before striking. Look well into what regiment he gives you. Which are
you to have?"

"General Patterson's."

"I thought as much. It is the weakest of the three now here, consists of
but about six hundred rank and file fit for duty. There are two hundred
militia with it, whose time of service is so near expiring that they
will have dissolved ere you reach Headquarters."

Hamilton had sprung to his feet in a fury. He forgot his pains, and let
his temper fly with satisfaction in the exercise. "If that is the case,"
he cried, when he had finished his anathema of Gates, "I'll have the
men;" and he dashed at his writing materials. But he threw his pen aside
in a moment. "I'll wait till to-morrow for this. I must be master of
myself. Tell me of Saratoga. You distinguished yourself mightily, and no
one was more glad than I."

Troup talked while Hamilton rested. That evening he took him to call at
the Schuyler mansion, high on the hill.

Philip Schuyler was the great feudal lord of the North. He had served
the colonial cause in many ways, and at the outbreak of the Revolution
had been one of its hopes and props. But brilliant as his exploits had
been, the intrigues of Gates, after the fall of Ticonderoga, had been
successful, and he was deprived of the army of the North before the
battle of Saratoga. The day of exoneration came, but at present he was
living quietly at home, without bitterness. A man of the most exalted
character, he drew added strength from adversity, to be placed at the
service of the country the moment it was demanded. Mrs. Schuyler,
herself a great-granddaughter of the first patroon, Killian Van
Rensselaer, was a woman of strong character, an embodied type of all the
virtues of the Dutch pioneer housewife. She had a lively and turbulent
family of daughters, however, and did not pretend to manage them. The
spirit of our age is feeble and bourgeois when compared with the
independence and romantic temper of the stormy days of this Republic's
birth. Liberty was in the air; there was no talk but of freedom and
execration of tyrants; young officers had the run of every house, and
Clarissa Harlowe was the model for romantic young "females." Angelica
Schuyler, shortly before the battle of Saratoga, had run off with John
Barker Church, a young Englishman of distinguished connections, at
present masquerading under the name of Carter; a presumably fatal duel
having driven him from England. Subsequently, both Peggy and Cornelia
Schuyler climbed out of windows and eloped in a chaise and four,
although there was not an obstacle worth mentioning to union with the
youths of their choice. It will shock many good mothers of the present
day to learn that all these marriages were not only happy, but set with
the brilliance of wealth and fashion. When Hamilton was introduced to
the famous white hall of the Schuyler mansion on the hill, Cornelia and
Peggy were still free in all but fancy; Elizabeth, by far the best
behaved, was the hope of Mrs. Schuyler's well-regulated soul and one of
the belles of the Revolution. Hamilton was enchanted with her, although
his mind was too weighted for love. Her spirits were as high as his own,
and they talked and laughed until midnight as gaily as were Gates's army
marching south. But Hamilton was a philosopher; nothing could be done
before the morrow; he might as well be happy and forget. He had met many
clever and accomplished American women by this, and Lady Kitty Alexander
and Kitty and Susan Livingston were brilliant. He had also met Angelica
Church, or Mrs. Carter, as she was called, one of the cleverest and most
high-spirited women of her time. It had crossed his mind that had she
been free, he might have made a bold dash for so fascinating a creature,
but it seemed to him to-night that on the whole he preferred her sister.
"Betsey" Schuyler had been given every advantage of education,
accomplishment, and constant intercourse with the best society in the
land. She had skill and tact in the management of guests, and without;
being by any means a woman of brilliant parts, understood the questions
of the day; her brain was informed with shrewd common sense. Hamilton
concluded that she was quite clever enough, and was delighted with her
beauty, her charm of manner, and style. Her little figure was graceful
and distinguished, her complexion the honey and claret that artists
extol, and she had a pair of big black eyes which were alternately
roguish, modest, tender, sympathetic; there were times when they were
very lively, and even suggested a temper. She was bright without
attempting to be witty, but that she was deeply appreciative of wit
Hamilton had soothing cause to know. And he had learned from the
admiring Troup that she was as intrepid as she was wholly and daintily
feminine. Altogether, Hamilton's fate was sealed when he bent over her
hand that night, although he was far from suspecting it, so heavily did
duty press the moment he was alone in his rooms.

On the following morning he asked for an interview with General Schuyler
and several other military men whom he knew to be friendly to
Washington, and they confirmed the advice of Troup. In the afternoon he
wrote to Gates a letter that was peremptory, although dignified and
circumspect, demanding the addition of a superior brigade. He expressed
his indignation in no measured terms, and in more guarded phrases his
opinion of the flimsiness of the victorious General's arguments. Gates
sent the troops at once, and despatched a volume of explanation to

Hamilton set out immediately for New Windsor, Troup bearing him company
the greater part of the way, for he was feeling very ill. But he forgot
his ailments when he arrived. To his fury he discovered that not a
regiment had gone south. Two of the brigades, which had received no pay
for eight months, had mutinied, and he was obliged to ask Governor
Clinton to borrow $5000, with which to pay them off. He had the
satisfaction of despatching them, wrote a peremptory letter to Putnam,
who had other plans brewing, another to Gates, asking for further
reinforcements, then went to bed in Governor Clinton's house with fever
and rheumatism. But he wrote to Washington, apprising him of a scheme
among the officers of the northern department to recover the city of New
York, and denouncing Putnam in the most emphatic terms. Two days later
he recovered sufficiently to proceed to Fishkill, where he wrested
troops from Putnam, and ascertained that heavy British reinforcements
had gone from that neighbourhood to Howe. He wrote at once to
Washington, advising him of his peril, and endeavoured to push on; but
his delicate frame would stand no more, and on the 15th he went to bed
in Mr. Kennedy's house in Peekskill, with so violent an attack of
rheumatism that to his bitter disgust he was obliged to resign himself
to weeks of inactivity. But he had the satisfaction to receive a letter
from Washington approving all that he had done. And in truth he had
saved the situation, and Washington never forgot it.


Hamilton rejoined the army at Valley Forge and soon recovered his health
and spirits. It was well that the spirits revived, for no one else
during that terrible winter could lay claim to any. The Headquarters
were in a small valley, shut in by high hills white with snow and black
with trees that looked like iron. The troops were starving and freezing
and dying a mile away, muttering and cursing, but believing in
Washington. On a hill beyond the pass Lafayette was comfortable in
quarters of his own, but bored and fearing the worst. Laurens chafed at
the inaction; he would have had a battle a day. As the winter wore on,
the family succumbed to the depressing influence of unrelieved monotony
and dread of the future, and only Hamilton knew to what depths of
anxiety Washington could descend. But despair had no part in Hamilton's
creed. He had perfect faith in the future, and announced it
persistently. He assumed the mission of keeping the family in good
cheer, and they gave him little time for his studies. As for Washington,
even when Hamilton was not at his desk, he made every excuse to demand
his presence in the private office; and Hamilton in his prayers
humorously thanked his Almighty for the gift of a cheerful disposition.
It may be imagined what a relief it was when he and Laurens, Meade, or
Tilghman raced each other up the icy gorge to Lafayette's, where they
were often jollier the night through than even a cheerful disposition
would warrant. Hamilton, although he had not much of a voice, learned
one camp-song, "The Drum," and this he sang with such rollicking abandon
that it fetched an explosive sigh of relief from the gloomiest breast.

There were other duties from which Hamilton fled to the house on the
hill for solace. Valley Forge harboured a heterogeneous collection of
foreigners, whose enthusiasm had impelled them to offer swords and
influence to the American cause: Steuben, Du Portail, De Noailles,
Custine, Fleury, Du Plessis, the three brothers Armand, Ternant,
Pulaski, and Kosciusko. They had a thousand wants, a thousand
grievances, and as Washington would not be bothered by them, their daily
recourse was Hamilton, whom they adored. To him they could lament in
voluble French; he knew the exact consolation to administer to each, and
when it was advisable he laid their afflictions before Washington or the
Congress. They bored him not a little, but he sympathized with them in
their Cimmerian exile, and it was necessary to keep them in the country
for the sake of the moral effect. But he congratulated himself on his
capacity for work.

"I used to wish that a hurricane would come and blow Cruger's store to
Hell," he said one day to Laurens, "but I cannot be sufficiently
thankful for that experience now. It made me as methodical as a machine,
gave my brain a system without which I never could cope with this mass
of work. I have this past week dried the tears of seven Frenchmen,
persuaded Steuben that he is not Europe, nor yet General Washington, and
without too much offending him, written a voluminous letter to Gates
calculated to make him feel what a contemptible and traitorous ass he
is, yet giving him no chance to run, blubbering, with it to the
Congress, and official letters _ad nauseum_. I wish to God I were out of
it all, and about to ride into battle at the head of a company of my

"And how many widows have you consoled?" asked Laurens. He was huddled
in his cot, trying to keep warm.

"None," said Hamilton, with some gloom. "I haven't spoken to a woman for
three weeks."

It was a standing joke at Headquarters that Washington always sent
Hamilton to console the widows. This he did with such sympathy and tact,
such address and energy, that his friends had occasionally been forced
to extricate him from complications. But it was an accomplishment in
which he excelled as long as he lived.

"The Chief will never let you go," pursued Laurens. "And as there is no
one to take your place, you really should not wish it. Washington may be
the army, but you are Washington's brain, and of quite as much
importance. You should never forget--"

"Come out and coast. That will warm your blood," interrupted Hamilton.
His own sense of duty was not to be surpassed, but he had rebellious
moods, when preaching suggested fisticuffs.

Outside they met a messenger from Lafayette, begging them to repair to
his quarters at once. There they found him entertaining a party of
charming women from a neighbouring estate; and a half-hour later the
dignity and fashion of Washington's family might have been seen coasting
down a steep hill with three Philadelphian exiles, who were as
accomplished in many ways as they were satisfying to look upon.

It was one of those days when a swift freeze has come with a rain-storm.
Hamilton had stood at the window of the office for an hour, early in the
day, biting the end of his quill, and watching the water change to ice
as it struck the naked trees, casing every branch until, when the sun
came out, the valley was surrounded by a diamond forest, the most
radiant and dazzling of winter sights. The sun was still out, its light
flashed back from a million facets, the ground was hard and white, the
keen cold air awoke the blood, and the three young men forgot their
grumblings, and blessed the sex which has alleviated man's burdens so
oft and well.


In June the military ardours of this distinguished young trio were
gratified to the point of temporary exhaustion. The British evacuated
Philadelphia on the 18th, and proceeded up the Delaware in New Jersey.
Captain Allan McLane had, as early as May 25th, reported to Washington
the enemy's intention to change their quarters for New York, and
Washington's desire was to crush them by a decisive blow. At a council
of war, however, it was decided merely to hang upon the skirts of the
retreating army and avoid an engagement. Lee was aggressive, almost
insulting, in counselling inaction, Washington, much embarrassed, but
hesitating to ignore the decisions of the council, followed the enemy by
a circuitous route, until he reached the neighbourhood of Princeton. The
British were in and about Allentown. Washington called another council
of war, and urged the propriety of forcing an engagement before the
enemy could reach the Heights of Monmouth. Again Lee overruled, being
sustained by the less competent generals, who were in the majority. As
soon as the council broke up, Hamilton sought out General Greene and led
him aside, Greene was white and dejected, but Hamilton's face was hot,
and his eyes were flashing.

"I believe that Lee is in the pay of the British or the Conway Cabal,"
he exclaimed. "I've always believed him ready at any minute to turn
traitor. It's a pity he wasn't left to rot in prison. Washington must
fight. His honour is at stake. If he lets the British walk off while we
sit and whistle, his influence with the army will be gone, Europe will
have no more of him, the Conway Cabal will have the excuse it's been
watching at keyholes for, and Gates will be Commander-in-chief
to-morrow. Will you come with me and persuade him to fight?"

"Yes," said Greene. "And I believe he will. You are like a sudden cold
wind on an August day. Come on."

They walked rapidly toward Washington's tent. He was sitting on his
camp-stool, but rose as they approached.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I anticipate the object of your visit. You wish
me to fight."

"Yes!" exclaimed Hamilton. "As much as you wish it yourself. Why should
you regard the councils of the traitorous and the timorous, who, for
aught you know, may be in the pay of the Cabal? If the British retreat
unmolested, the American army is disgraced. If Congress undertake to
manage it, the whole cause will be lost, and the British will be
stronger far than when we took up arms--"

"Enough," said Washington. "We fight"

He ordered a detachment of one thousand men, under General Wayne, to
join the troops nearest the enemy. Lafayette was given the command of
all the advance troops--Lee sulkily retiring in his favour--which
amounted to about four thousand. Hamilton was ordered to accompany him
and reconnoitre, carry messages between the divisions, and keep
Washington informed of the movements of the enemy. There was but a
chance that he would be able to fight, but the part assigned to him was
not the least dangerous and important at Washington's disposal. The
Chief moved forward with the main body of the army to Cranbury.

Clinton had no desire to fight, being encumbered with a train of
baggage-wagons and bathorses, which with his troops made a line on the
highroad twelve miles long. It being evident that the Americans intended
to give battle, he encamped in a strong position near Monmouth
Court-house, protected on nearly all sides by woods and marshes. His
line extended on the right about a mile and a half beyond the
Court-house, and on the left, along the road toward Allentown, for about
three miles.

This disposition compelled Washington to increase the advance corps, and
he ordered Lee to join Lafayette with two brigades. As senior officer,
Lee assumed command of the whole division, under orders to make the
first attack. Both Lafayette and Hamilton were annoyed and apprehensive
at this arrangement. "Washington is the shrewdest of men in his
estimates until it is a matter of personal menace," said Hamilton, "and
then he is as trusting as a country wench with a plausible villain. I
thought we had delivered him from this scoundrel, and now he has
deliberately placed his fortunes in his hands again. Mark you, Lee will
serve us some trick before the battle is over."

Hamilton had been galloping back and forth night and day between
Lafayette's division and Headquarters, wherever they happened to be,
and reconnoitring constantly. The weather was intensely hot, the soil so
sandy that his horse often floundered. He had not had a full night's
sleep since Washington announced his decision to give battle, and he
would have been worn out, had he not been too absorbed and anxious to
retain any consciousness of his body. Early on the morning of the 28th,
a forward movement being observed on the part of the enemy, Washington
immediately put the army in motion and sent word to Lee to press forward
and attack.

Lee looked uglier and dirtier than usual, and the very seat of his
breeches scowled as he rode forward leisurely. In a few moments he
halted, word having been brought him that the main body of the British
was advancing.

"If we could but court-martial him on the spot," groaned Lafayette,
whose delicate boyish face was crumpled with anxiety.

"He meditates treason!" exclaimed Hamilton. "It is writ all over him."

Having ascertained that the rumour was false, Lee consented to move on
again, and the division entered the forest, their advance covered from
the British on the plains beyond. For a time Lee manoeuvred so cleverly
that Hamilton and Lafayette permitted themselves to hope. Under cover of
the forest he formed a portion of his line for action, and with Wayne,
Hamilton, and others, rode forward to reconnoitre. Concluding that the
column of the British deploying on the right was only a covering party
of two thousand, he manoeuvred to cut them off from the main army. Wayne
was detached with seven hundred men to attack the covering party in the
rear. Lee, with a stronger force, was to gain its front by a road to the
left. Small detachments were concealed in the woods. At nine o'clock,
the Queen's dragoons being observed upon an eminence near the wood, Lee
ordered his light-horse to decoy them to the point where Wayne was
posted. The dragoons appeared to fall into the trap, but upon being
attacked from the wood, galloped off toward the main column. Wayne
started in pursuit; his artillery was raking them, and he had ordered a
charge at the point of the bayonet, when, to his amazement, he received
an order from Lee to make but a feint of attack and pursuit. He had no
choice but to obey, brilliant as might be the victory wrested from him.
Lee, meanwhile, dawdled about, although his troops were on one foot with

Suddenly Sir Henry Clinton, learning that the Americans were marching in
force on both his flanks, with the design of capturing his baggage,
changed the front of his army by facing about in order to attack Wayne
with such deadly fire that the enemy on his flanks would be obliged to
fly to the succour of that small detachment. Lafayette immediately saw
the opportunity for victory in the rear of the enemy, and rode up to Lee
asking permission to make the attempt.

Lee swung his loose head about and scowled at the ardent young
Frenchman. "Sir," he replied witheringly, "you do not know British
soldiers. We cannot stand against them. We certainly shall be driven
back at first. We must be cautious."

"It may be so, General," replied Lafayette, who would have given much to
see that head rolling on the sands; "but British soldiers have been
beaten, and they may be again. At any rate, I am disposed to make the

Lee shrugged his shoulders, but as Lafayette sat immovable, his clear
hazel eyes interrogating and astonished, he reluctantly gave the Marquis
the order to wheel his column to the right and attack the enemy's left.
He simultaneously weakened Wayne's detachment and went off to
reconnoitre. He afterward claimed that he saw what looked to be the
approach of the entire army, and he ordered his right to fall back. The
brigades of Scott and Maxwell on the left were already moving forward
and approaching the right of the Royal forces, when they received an
order from Lee to reënter the wood. At the same time an order was sent
to Lafayette to fall back to the Court-house. With a face as flaming as
his unpowdered head, he obeyed. Upon reaching the Court-house he learned
that a general retreat had begun on the right, under the immediate
command of Lee. He had no choice but to follow.

Hamilton, hardly crediting that his worst fears were realized in this
unwarranted retreat, galloped over to Lee and urged that possession be
taken of a neighbouring hill that commanded the plain on which the enemy
were advancing. But Lee protested violently that the Americans had not a
chance against that solid phalanx, and Hamilton, now convinced that he
meditated the disgrace of the American arms, galloped with all speed in
search of Washington.

The retreat, by this, was a panic. The troops fled like an army of
terrified rabbits, with that reversion to the simplicity of their dumb
ancestors which induces the suspicion that all the manly virtues are
artificial. In times of panic man seems to exchange his soul for a tail.
These wretches trampled each other into the shifting sand, and crowded
many more into the morass. The heat was terrific. They ran with their
tongues hanging out, and many dropped dead.

Washington heard of the retreat before Hamilton found him. He was
pushing on to Lee's relief when a country-man brought him word of the
disgraceful rout. Washington refused to credit the report and spurred
forward. Halfway between the meeting-house and the morass he met the
head of the first retreating column. He commanded it to halt at once,
before the panic be communicated to the main army; then made for Lee.
Lee saw him coming and braced himself for the shock. But it was a
greater man than Lee who could stand the shock of Washington's temper.
He was fearfully roused. The noble gravity of his face had disappeared.
It was convulsed with rage.

"Sir," he thundered, "I desire to know what is the reason of this?
Whence arises this confusion and disorder?"

"Sir--" stammered Lee, "sir--" He braced himself, and added impudently:
"I thought it best not to beard the enemy in such a situation. It was
contrary to my opinion--"

"_Your_ opinion!" And then the Chief undammed a torrent of profanity
Washingtonian in its grandeur.

He wheeled and galloped to the rallying of the troops. At this moment
Hamilton rode up. He had ridden through the engagement without a hat. It
seemed to him that he could hear the bubbling of his brain, that the
very air blazed, and that the end of all things had come. That day of
Monmouth ever remained in his memory as the most awful and hopeless of
his life. An ordinary defeat was nothing. But the American arms branded
with cowardice, Washington ignobly deposed, inefficient commanders
floundering for a few months before the Americans were become the
laughing-stock of Europe,--the whole vision was so hideous, and the day
so hopeless in the light of those cowardly hordes, that he galloped
through the rain of British bullets, praying for death; he had lost all
sense of separate existence from the shattered American cause. He did
not perceive that Washington had reached the column, and resolved to
make one more appeal to Lee, he rode up to that withered culprit and
exclaimed passionately:--

"I will stay with you, my dear General, and die with you! Let us all die
here, rather than retreat!"

Lee made no reply. His brain felt as if a hot blast had swept it.

"At least send a detachment to the succour of the artillery," said
Hamilton, with quick suspicion. And Lee ordered Colonel Livingston to

At the same moment some one told Hamilton that Washington was in the
rear, rallying the troops. He spurred his horse and found that the
General had rallied the regiments of Ramsay and Stewart, after a rebuke
under which they still trembled, and was ordering Oswald to hasten his
cannon to the eminence which his aide had suggested to Lee. Hamilton
himself was in time to intercept two retreating brigades. He succeeded
in rallying them, formed them along a fence at hand, and ordered them to
charge at the point of the bayonet. He placed himself at their head, and
they made a brilliant dash upon the enemy. But his part was soon over.
His horse was shot under him, and as he struck the ground he was
overcome by the shock and the heat, and immediately carried from the
field. But the retreat was suspended, order restored, and although the
battle raged all day, the British gained no advantage. The troops were
so demoralized by the torrid heat that at sunset both Commanders were
obliged to cease hostilities; and Washington, who had been in the saddle
since daybreak, threw himself under a tree to sleep, confident of a
victory on the morrow.

"I had a feeling as if my very soul were exploding," said Hamilton to
Laurens, as they bathed their heads in a stream in the woods, with the
bodies of dead and living huddled on every side of them. "I had a
hideous vision of Washington and the rest of us in a huge battle
picture, in which a redcoat stood on every squirming variety of
continental uniform, while a screeching eagle flew off with the
Declaration of Independence. But after all, there is something
magnificent in so absolutely identifying yourself with a cause that you
go down to its depths of agony and fly to its heights of exaltation. I
was mad to die when the day--and with it the whole Cause--seemed lost.
Patriotism surely is the master passion. Nothing else can annihilate the

Laurens, who had performed prodigies of valour, sighed heavily. "I felt
as you did while the engagement lasted," he replied. "But I went into
the battle with exultation, for death this time seemed inevitable. And
the only result is a headache. What humiliation!"

"You are morbid, my dear," said Hamilton, tenderly. "You cannot persuade
me that at the age of twenty-five naught remains but death--no matter
what mistakes one may have made. There is always the public career--for
which you are eminently fitted. I would begin life over again twenty
times if necessary."

"Yes, because you happen to be a man of genius. I am merely a man of
parts. There are many such. Not only is my life ruined, but every day I
despair anew of ever attaining that high ideal of character I have set
for myself. I want nothing short of perfection," he said passionately.
"Could I attain that, I should be content to live, no matter how
wretched. But I fall daily. My passions control me, my hatreds, my
impulses of the moment. When a man's very soul aches for a purity which
it is in man to attain if he will, and when he is daily reminded that he
is but a whimperer at the feet of the statue, the world is no place for

"Laurens," said Hamilton, warmly, "you refine on the refinements of
sensibility. You have brooded until you no longer are normal and capable
of logic. Compare your life with that of most men, and hope. You are but
twenty-five, and you have won a deathless glory, by a valour and
brilliancy on these battlefields that no one else has approached. Your
brain and accomplishments are such that the country looks to you as one
of its future guides. Your character is that of a Bayard. It is your
passions alone, my dear, which save you from being a prig. Passion is
the furnace that makes greatness possible. If, when the mental energies
are resting, it darts out tongues of flame that strike in the wrong
place, I do not believe that the Almighty, who made us, counts them as
sins. They are natural outlets, and we should burst without them. If one
of those tongues of flame was the cause of your undoing, God knows you
have paid in kind. As a rule no one is the worse, while most are better.
A certain degree of perfection we can attain, but absolute
perfection--go into a wilderness like Mohammed and fast. There is no
other way, and even then you merely would have visions; you would not be

Laurens laughed. "It is not easy to be morbid when you are by. Acquit me
for the rest of the night. And it is time we slept. There will be hot
work to-morrow. How grandly the Chief rallied! There is a man!"

"He was in a blazing temper," remarked Hamilton. "Lee and Ramsay and
Stewart were like to have died of fright. I wish to God he'd strung the
first to a gibbet!"

They sought out Washington and lay down beside him. The American army
slept as though its soul had withdrawn to another realm where repose is
undisturbed. Not so the British army. Sir Henry Clinton did not share
Washington's serene confidence in the morrow. He withdrew his weary army
in the night, and was miles away when the dawn broke.

Once Washington awoke, raised himself on his elbow, and listened
intently. But he could hear nothing but the deep breathing of his weary
army. The stars were brilliant. He glanced about his immediate vicinity
with a flicker of amusement and pleasure in his eyes. The young men of
his household were crowded close about him; he had nearly planted his
elbow on Hamilton's profile. Laurens, Tilghman, Meade, even Lafayette,
were there, and they barely had left him room to turn over. He knew that
these worshipping young enthusiasts were all ready and eager to die for
him, and that in spite of his rigid formality they were quite aware of
his weak spot, and did not hesitate to manifest their affection. For a
moment the loneliest man on earth felt as warmly companioned as if he
were raising a family of rollicking boys; then he gently lifted Hamilton
out of the way, and slept again. He was bitterly disappointed next
morning; but to pursue the enemy in that frightful heat, over a sandy
country without water, and with his men but half refreshed, was out of
the question.

The rest of the year was uneventful, except for the court-martialling of
Lee and his duel with Laurens, who challenged him for his defamation of
Washington. Then came the eventful winter of 1779-80, when the army went
into quarters at Morristown, Washington and his military family taking
possession of a large house belonging to the Widow Ford.


"Alexander!" cried a musical but imperious voice.

Hamilton was walking in the depths of the wood, thinking out his
financial policy for the immediate relief of the country. He started and
faced about. Kitty Livingston sat on her horse, a charming picture in
the icy brilliance of the wood. He ran toward her, ripped off her
glove, kissed her hand, replaced the glove, then drew back and saluted.

"You are a saucy boy," said Miss Livingston, "and I've a mind to box
your ears. I've brought you up very badly; but upon my word, if you were
a few years older, I believe I'd marry you and keep you in order,
something no other woman will ever be able to do. But I've a piece of
news for you--my dear little brother. Betsey Schuyler is here."

Alexander, much to his annoyance, blushed vividly. "And how can you know
that I have ever even seen Miss Schuyler?" he asked, rather sulkily.

"_She_ told me all about it, my dear. And I inferred from the young
lady's manner that she lived but to renew the experience. She is down at
Surgeon-General Cochraine's. Mrs. Cochraine is her aunt. Seriously, I
want you to be a good little beau, and keep her here as long as
possible. She is a great addition to our society; for she is not only
one of the belles of the country, accomplished and experienced, but she
has an amazing fine character, and I am anxious to know her better. You
are still too young to marry, _mon enfant_, but you are so precocious
and Miss Schuyler is so charming--if you will marry at your absurd age,
you could not do better; for you'll get fine parents as well as a wife,
and I've never known a youth more in need of an entire family."

Hamilton laughed. "If I accumulate any more parents," he said, "I shall
share the fate of the cat. This morning Colonel Harrison--one of my
fathers--almost undressed me to see if my flannels were thick enough,
Mrs. Washington gave me a fearful scolding because I went out without a
muffler, and even the General is always darting edged glances at the
soles of my boots. Yesterday, Laurens, who is two-thirds English, tried
to force an umbrella into my hand, but at that I rebelled. If I marry,
it will be for the pleasure of taking care of someone else."

He escorted Miss Livingston out to the highroad, and returned to
Headquarters, his imagination dancing. He had by no means forgotten Miss
Schuyler. That merry roguish high-bred face had shone above many dark
horizons, illuminated many bitter winter nights at Valley Forge. He was
excited at the prospect of seeing her again, and hastened to arrange a
dinner, to which she must be bidden. The young men did as they chose
about entertaining, sure of Washington's approval.

"Ah, I know Miss Schuyler well," exclaimed Tilghman, when Hamilton
remarked that they should immediately show some attention to the
daughter of so illustrious a man as General Schuyler. "I've fetched and
carried for her--in fact I once had the honour to be despatched by her
mamma to buy her a pair of stays. I fell at her little feet immediately.
She has the most lively dark good-natured eyes I ever saw--Good God,
Hamilton, are you going to run me through?"

Hamilton for the moment was so convulsed with jealous rage that his very
fingers curved, and he controlled them from his friend's throat with an
effort. Tilghman's words brought him to his senses, and he laughed
heartily. "I was as jealous as Othello, if you'll have the truth, and
just why, I vow I don't know, for I met this young lady only once, and
that a year ago. I was much attracted, but it's not possible I'm in love
with her."

"It's love, my dear boy," said Tilghman, gravely. "Go and ask Steuben if
I am not right. Laurens and I will arrange the dinner. You attend to
your case immediately."

Hamilton, much concerned, repaired to the house of Baron Steuben. This
old courtier and rake was physician in ordinary to all the young men in
their numerous cardiacal complications. Hamilton found him in his little
study, smoking a huge meerschaum. His weather-beaten face grinned with
delight at the appearance of his favourite, but he shook his head
solemnly at the revelation.

"I fear this time you are shot, my dear little Hamilton," he said, with
much concern. "Have you told me all?"

"All that I can think of." Hamilton was sitting forward on the edge of
the chair in considerable dejection. He had not expected this
intrication, had hoped the Baron would puff it away.

"Has she a neat waist?"

Hamilton admitted, with some surprise, that her waist was exceptional.

"And her eyes?--I have heard of them--benevolent, yet sparkling;--and a
daughter of the Schuylers. Hamilton, believe me, there are worse things
than love."

"But I have affairs of the utmost moment on hand at present. I'm
revolving a whole financial system, and the correspondence grows heavier
every day. I've no time for love."

"My boy," said the former aide to the great Frederick, with emphasis,
"when you can work in the sun, why cling to the cold corner of a public
hearth? Your brain will spin the faster for the fire underneath. You
will write great words and be happy besides. Think of that. What a
combination! Mein Gott! You will be terribly in love, my son, but your
balance is so extraordinary that your brain will work on just the same.
Otherwise I would not dare give such counsel, for without you General
Washington would give up, and your poor old Steuben would not have money
for tobacco. Give me just one half-sovereign," he added coaxingly.

Hamilton examined the big tobacco pouch and found it two-thirds full.
"Not a penny," he said gaily. "The day after to-morrow I will buy you
some myself, but I know where that last sovereign went to."

Hamilton took care of the old spendthrift's money, and not only then but
as long as he lived. "The Secretary of the Treasury is my banker," said
Steuben, years after. "My Hamilton takes care of my money when he cannot
take care of his own."

Hamilton retired in some perturbation, and the result of much thinking
was that he spent an unconscionable time over his toilet on the evening
of the dinner. In his nervousness he tore one of his lace ruffles.
Laurens attempted to mend it, and the rent waxed. Hamilton was forced to
knock at Mrs. Washington's door and ask her to repair the injury. She
was already dressed, in a black lutestring, her hair flat and natural.
She looked approvingly at Hamilton, who, not excepting Laurens, was
always the most faultlessly dressed member of the family. To-night he
wore dark green velvet, fitting closely and exquisitely cut, white silk
stockings, and a profusion of delicate lace. His hair was worn in a
queue and powdered. It was not till some years later that he conformed
to the prevailing fashion and wore a wig.

Mrs. Washington mended the lace, retied the bow of his queue, kissed him
and told him to forget the cares of war and correspondence, and enjoy
himself. Hamilton retired, much comforted.

It was an imposing family which, a half-hour later, awaited the guests
in the drawing-room. Washington was in black velvet and silk stockings,
his best white wig spreading in two symmetrical wings. It was a cold
grave figure always, and threw an air of solemnity over every scene it
loomed upon, which only Hamilton's lively wit could dispel. Laurens wore
plum-coloured velvet and much lace, a magnificent court costume. His own
figure was no less majestic than Washington's, but his brown eyes and
full mouth were almost invariably smiling, despite the canker. He wore a
very close wig. Tilghman was in blue, the other men in more sober dress.
Lafayette some time since had departed for France, Hamilton having
suggested that the introduction of a French military force of six or
seven thousand troops would have a powerful effect upon the American
army and people.

Lady Sterling arrived with Lady Kitty--the bride of Colonel William Duer
since July--her undistinguished homeliness enhancing the smart
appearance of her daughter, who was one of the beauties of the time.
Lady Kitty had a long oval face, correct haughty little features, and a
general air of extreme high breeding. Her powdered hair was in a tower,
and she had the tiniest waist and stood upon the highest heels of all
the belles. She wore white satin over an immense hoop, a flounce of
Spanish lace and a rope of pearls. Kitty Livingston wore yellow which
outshone the light of the candles. Susan Boudinot and the other girls
were dressed more simply. Mr. Boudinot's eyes were as keen and as kind
as ever, his nose seemed longer, and the flesh was accumulating beneath
his chin.

The Cochraines and Miss Elizabeth Schuyler were the last to arrive. The
northern belle's wardrobe had been an object of much concern to the
young ladies now cut off from New York shops, and lamenting the
demoralized condition of those in Philadelphia. In Albany all things
were still possible. Miss Schuyler wore a pink brocade of the richest
and most delicate quality, and a bertha of Brussels lace. The pointed
bodice and large paniers made her waist look almost as small as Kitty
Duer's, and her feet were the tiniest in the world. She turned them in
and walked with a slight shuffle. Hamilton had never seen a motion so
adorable. Her hair was rolled out from her face on both sides as well as
above, and so thickly powdered that her eyes looked as black as General
Washington's coat, while her cheeks and lips were like red wine on pale
amber. She blushed as Hamilton bowed before her and offered his arm, and
then she felt his heart thump. As for Hamilton, he gave himself up for
lost the moment she entered the room, and with the admission, his
feelings concentrated with their usual fiery impetuosity. As it was too
soon for an outlet, they rushed to his eyes and camped there, to Miss
Schuyler's combined discomfort and delight.

For once Hamilton was content to listen, and Miss Schuyler was not loath
to entertain this handsome young aide, of whom all the world was
talking, and who had haunted her dreams for a year. She had read Milton,
Shenstone, and Dodsworth, "The Search after Happiness," by Hannah More,
the works of Madame de Genlis, the "Essay on Man," and Shakespeare's
lighter plays. Her learning was not oppressive, merely sufficient to
give distinction to her mind, and Hamilton was enchanted once more; but
he found her most interesting when relating personal anecdotes of
encounters with savage warriors in that dark northern land where she had
been born and bred, of hideous massacres of which her neighbours had
been the victims, of adventurous journeys she had taken with her father,
of painted chieftains they had been forced to entertain. She talked
with great spirit and no waste of words, and it was evident that she was
both sensible and heroic. Hamilton ate little and forgot that he was in
a company of twenty people. He was recalled by an abraded shin.

He turned with a jump and encountered Meade's agonized face thrust
across Susan Livingston, who sat between them.

"For God's sake, Hamilton, come forth and talk," said Meade, in a hoarse
whisper. "There hasn't been a word said above a mutter for
three-quarters of an hour. Tilghman gave out long ago. Unless you come
to the rescue we'll all be moaning in each other's arms in three

Hamilton glanced about the table. Washington, looking like himself on a
monument, was making not a pretence to entertain poor Lady Sterling, who
was almost sniffling. Lord Sterling, having gratified, an hour since,
Mrs. Washington's polite interest in his health, was stifling yawn after
yawn, and his chubby little visage was oblong and crimson. Tilghman,
looking guilty and uncomfortable,--it was his duty to relieve Hamilton
at the table,--was flirting with Miss Boudinot. Lady Kitty and Baron
Steuben always managed to entertain each other. Laurens and Kitty
Livingston were sitting back and staring at each other as they had
stared many times before. The others were gazing at their plates or at
Hamilton. It was, indeed, a Headquarters dinner at the worst.

It has been remarked that Hamilton had a strong sense of duty. He felt
himself unable, even with the most charming girl on the continent beside
him, to resist the appeal of all those miserable eyes, and launched
forth at once upon the possibilities of Lafayette returning with an
army. Everybody responded, and he had many subjects of common interest
to discourse brilliantly upon until the long meal finished. Even
Washington gave him a grateful glance, and the others reattacked their
excellent food with a lost relish, now that the awful silence and sense
of personal failure were dispelled by their "bright particular star," as
the letters of the day from Morristown and the vicinity cleped our
hero. But with Miss Schuyler he had no further word that night, and he
retired with the conviction that there were times when there was no
satisfaction whatever in doing one's duty.


But a few nights later there was a subscription ball in the commissary
storehouse, and Hamilton danced with Miss Schuyler no less than ten
times, to the merciless amusement of the family. The ball, the first of
any size since the war began, was a fine affair, and had been organized
by Tilghman, Meade, and several of the Frenchmen; they were determined
upon one gay season, at least. The walls were covered with flags and
holly; the women wore their most gorgeous brocades; feathers and jewels
were on becoming white wigs or on the towers of powdered hair. All the
foreigners were in full regimentals, Steuben, in particular, being half
covered with gold lace and orders; the music and supper were admirable.
Even Washington looked less careworn than usual, and as he stood apart
with Lord Sterling, General Knox, and General Greene, he shed no
perceptible chill. Miss Schuyler wore white, with a twist of black
velvet in her powdered hair and another about her throat, and would have
been the belle of the party had Hamilton permitted other attentions. But
she gave him all the dances he demanded, and although her bright manner
did not lapse toward sentiment for a moment, he went home so elated that
he sat scribbling poetry until Laurens pelted him with pillows and
extinguished the candle.

The next day there was a sleighing party to Lord Sterling's, and he
drove Miss Schuyler, her aunt, and the wife of General Knox through the
white and crystal and blue of a magnificent winter day. Mrs. Cochraine
made no secret of her pride in her niece's capture of Washington's
celebrated favourite, and assured him of a hearty welcome at her house
if he felt disposed to call. He promptly established the habit of
calling every evening.

But although he was seriously and passionately in love, and quite sure
that Miss Schuyler loved him in return, he hesitated for the first time
in his life before precipitating a desired consummation. That he had no
money did not worry him in the least, for he knew himself capable of
earning any amount, and that the Republic, when free, would bristle with
opportunities for young men of parts. But he was in honour bound to tell
her of the irregularity of his birth. And in what manner would she
regard a possible husband with whose children she never could discuss
their father's parents? She was twenty-two, a small woman-of-the-world,
not a romantic young miss incapable of reason. And the Schuylers? The
proudest family in America! Would they take him on what he had made of
himself, on the promise of his future, or would their family pride prove
stronger than their common sense? He had moments of frantic doubt and
depression, but fortunately there was no time for protracted periods of
lover's misery. Washington demanded him constantly for consultation upon
the best possible method of putting animation into the Congress and
extracting money for the wretched troops. He frequently accompanied the
General, as at Valley Forge, in his visits to the encampment on the
mountain, where the emaciated tattered wretches were hutting with all
possible speed against the severity of another winter. The snow was
already on the ground, and every prospect of a repetition of the horrors
of Valley Forge. The mere sight of Washington put heart into them, and
Hamilton's lively sallies rarely failed to elicit a smile in return.

It so happened that for a fortnight the correspondence with Congress,
the States, the Generals, and the British, in regard to the exchange of
prisoners, was so heavy, the consultations with Washington so frequent,
that Hamilton saw nothing of Miss Schuyler, and had little time for the
indulgence of pangs. When he emerged, however, his mind was the freer to
seek a solution of the problem which had tormented him, and he quickly
found it. He determined to write the truth to Miss Schuyler, and so save
the embarrassment he had dreaded for both. To think was to act. He
related the facts of his birth and of his ancestry in the briefest
possible manner, adding a description of his mother which would leave no
question of the place she held in his esteem. He then stated, with the
emphasis of which he was master, that he distractedly awaited his
dismissal, or Miss Schuyler's permission to declare what he had so
awkwardly concealed.

He sent the letter by an orderly, and attacked his correspondence with a
desire to put gunpowder on his quill. But Miss Schuyler was a
tender-hearted creature and had no intention that he should suffer. She
scrawled him a hasty summons to come to her at once, and bade the
orderly ride as for his life. Hamilton, hearing a horse coming up the
turnpike at runaway pace, glanced out of the window to see what neck was
in danger, then flung his quill to the floor and bolted. He was out of
the house before the orderly had dismounted, and secured possession of
the note. When he had returned to his office, which was in a log
extension at the back of the building, he locked the door and read what
he could of Miss Schuyler's illegible chirography. That it was a command
to wait upon her at once he managed to decipher, but no more at the
moment; and feeling as if the heavens had opened, he despatched a hasty
note, telling her that he could not leave his work before night, when he
would hasten with the pent-up assurances of a love which had been his
torment and delight for many weeks. And then he answered a summons to
Washington's office, and discussed a letter to the Congress as if there
were no such person in the world as Elizabeth Schuyler, as indeed for
the hour there was not, nor for the rest of the afternoon.

But at eight o'clock he presented himself at the Cochraine quarters, and
Miss Schuyler was alone in the drawing-room. It was some time before
they arrived at the question which had weighed so heavily on Hamilton's
mind. When, however, they came down to conversation, Miss Schuyler

"I am sure that it will make no difference with my dear father, who is
the most just and sensible of men. I had never thought of your parentage
at all. I should have said you had leapt down from the abode of the
gods, for you are much too remarkable to have been merely born. But if
he should object--why, we'll run away."

Her eyes danced at the prospect, and Hamilton, who had vowed that
nothing should induce him to enter a family where he was not welcome,
was by now so hopelessly in love that he was ready to order the chaise
and four at once. He remained until Mrs. Cochraine sent him home, then
walked up the hill toward Headquarters, keeping to the road by instinct,
for he was deep in a reverie on the happiness of the past hours. His
dreams were cruelly shattered by the pressure of a bayonet against his

"What?" he demanded. "Oh, the countersign." He racked his memory. It had
fled, terrified, from his brain under the rush of that evening's

"I can't remember it," he said haughtily; "but you know who I am. Let me
pass." The sentry stood like a fate.

"This is ridiculous!" cried Hamilton, angrily, then the absurdity of the
situation overcame him, and he laughed. Once more he searched his brain
for the countersign, which he remembered having given to little Ford
just after dinner. Mrs. Ford and her son retained two rooms in the
house, and Hamilton frequently gave the youngster the word, that he
might play in the village after dark. Suddenly he saw him approaching.
He darted down the road, secured the password, and returned in triumph
to the sentry.

"Sir," exclaimed the soldier, in dismay, "is this quite regular? Will
you give me your word, sir, that it is all right?"

"I vow that no harm shall come to you," said Hamilton. "Shoulder your
musket." And there the incident ended, so far as the soldier was
concerned, but young Ford carried the story to Headquarters, and it was
long before Hamilton heard the last of it.

There was no sleep in him that night. He went to his office and laboured
for hours over a verse which should adequately express the love
consuming him, and then he awoke Laurens and talked into that
sympathetic ear until it was time to break the ice and freshen himself
for work.

His work that day was of a vastly different character from the
impassioned trifle of the night before. He obtained exemption from other
duty, and ordered luncheon and dinner brought to his office. One of the
most remarkable examples of Hamilton's mature genius at this age of
twenty-three is his long and elaborate letter to Robert Morris on the
financial condition of the country, written during the earliest period
of his love for Elizabeth Schuyler. As passionate and impatient as he
was tender, alive in every part of his nature to the joy of a real
affection and to the prospect of a lasting happiness, he yet was able
for twelve hours at a time to shut his impending bride in the remotest
cupboard of his mind, nor heed her sighs. But there was an older love
than Elizabeth Schuyler: a ragged poverty-stricken creature by this,
cowering before dangers within and without, raving mad at times,
imbecile at others, filling her shattered body with patent nostrums, yet
throughout her long course of futilities and absurdities making a
desperate attempt to shade the battered lamp of liberty from the fatal
draught. Her name was the United States of America, and never was there
a more satiric misnomer. If the States chose to obey the requisitions of
the Congress, they obeyed them; but as a rule they did not. There was no
power in the land to enforce obedience; and they hated each other. As
the Congress had demonstrated its inefficiency to the most inactive in
public affairs, the contempt of the States is hardly to be wondered at.
It is not too much to say that troops were recruited by Washington's
influence alone, and kept from mutiny by his immortal magnetism. The
finances of the Revolution were in such a desperate condition that Sir
Henry Clinton built his hopes of success--now he had discovered that no
victory gave him a permanent advantage--upon the dissolution of the
American army, possibly an internal war. With depreciated bills in
circulation amounting to one hundred and sixty millions of dollars, a
public debt of nearly forty millions in foreign and domestic loans, the
Congress had, in March, ordered a new emission of bills; the result had
been a season of crazy speculation and the expiring gasp of public
credit. In addition to an unpaid army, assurances had been given to the
French minister that not less than twenty-five thousand men should be
ready for the next campaign; and how to force the States to recruit
them, and how to pay them when in the field, was the present question
between Headquarters and Congress.

From the time that Hamilton's mind had turned to finance, in his
nineteenth year, he had devoted the greater part of his leisure to the
study and thought of it. Books on the subject were few in those days;
the science of political economy was unborn, so far as Hamilton was
concerned, for Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," published in 1776, had
not made its way to America. He assimilated all the data there was to be
found, then poured it into the crucible of his creative faculty, and
gradually evolved the great scheme of finance which is the locomotive of
the United States to-day. During many long winter evenings he had talked
his ideas over with Washington, and it was with the Chief's full
approval that he finally went to work on the letter embodying his scheme
for the immediate relief of the country. It was addressed to Robert
Morris, the Financier of the Revolution.

The first part of the letter was an essay on inflated and depreciated
currency, applied personally, the argument based on the three following
points: There having been no money in the country, Congress had been
unable to avoid the issuance of paper money. The only way to obtain and
retire this immense amount of depreciated paper money was to obtain real
money. Real money could be obtained in one way only,--by a foreign loan.
He then elaborately disposed of the proposed insane methods of applying
this projected loan which were agitating the Congress. But he was an
architect and builder as well as an iconoclast, and having shown the
futility of every financial idea ever conceived by Congress, he
proceeded to the remedy. His scheme, then as ever, was a National Bank,
to be called The Bank of the United States; the capital to be a foreign
loan of two millions sterling.

This letter, even in its details, in the knowledge of human nature it
betrays, and in its scheme to combine public and private capital that
the wealthy men of the country should, in their own interests, be
compelled to support the government, reads like an easy example in
arithmetic to-day; but a hundred and twenty years ago it was so bold and
advanced that Morris dared to adopt several of its suggestions in part
only, and founded the bank of Pennsylvania on the greater plan, by way
of experiment. No one but Hamilton could carry out his own theories.

Hamilton, who often had odd little attacks of modesty, signed the
letter, James Montague; address, Morristown. He read it to Washington
before posting.

The Chief, whose men were aching, sighed heavily.

"They will pick a few crumbs out of it," he said. "But they will not
make a law of it in toto; the millennium is not yet come. But if it
gives them one idea we should be thankful, it being a long and weary
time since they have experienced that phenomenon. If it does not, I
doubt if these men fight another battle. I wonder if posterity will ever
realize the indifference of their three million ancestors to the war
which gave them their independence--if we accomplish that end. I ask for
soldiers and am treated much as if I had asked for my neighbour's wife.
I ask for money to keep them from starving and freezing and am made to
feel like an importunate beggar."

"I had a letter from Hugh Knox not so long since," said Hamilton, in his
lightest tone; for Washington was on the verge of one of his attacks of
infuriated depression, which were picturesque but wearing. "He
undertakes to play the prophet, and he is an uncommon clever man, sir:
he says that you were created for the express purpose of delivering
America, to do it single-handed, if necessary, and that my proud destiny
is to be your biographer. The first I indorse, so does every thinking
man in the country. But for the second--alas! I am not equal to a post
of such exalted honour."

Washington smiled. "No one knows better than your old Chief that your
destiny is no such ha'penny affair as that. But at least you wouldn't
make an ass of me. God knows what is in store for me at the hands of

"You lend yourself fatally well to marble and stone, sir," said
Hamilton, mischievously. "I fear your biographers will conceive
themselves writing at the feet of a New World Sphinx, and that its
frozen granite loneliness will petrify their image of you."

"I like the prospect! I am unhappily conscious of my power to chill an
assemblage, but the cold formality of my manner is a safeguard, as you
know. My nature is one of extremes; if I did not encase myself, I should
be ramming every man's absurd opinions down his throat, and letting my
cursed temper fly at each of the provocations which constantly beset me.
I have not the happy gift of compromise; but I am not unhuman, and I
like not the prospect of going down to posterity a wooden figurehead
upon some emblematic battle-ship. Perhaps, my boy, you, who best know
me, will be moved by charity to be my biographer, after all."

"I'll make it the business of my old age, sir; I pledge you my word, and
no one loves you better nor can do you such justice as I. When my work
in the National Family is done, then shall I retire with my literary
love, an old and pleasant love; and what higher subject for my pen?"

He spoke in a tone of badinage, for he was bent on screwing up
Washington's spirits, but he made his promise in good faith,
nevertheless, and Washington looked at him with deep affection.

"My mind is certainly easier," he said, in a tone that was almost light.
"Go now and post your letter, and give your evening to Miss Schuyler.
Present my compliments to her."

"I became engaged to her last night, sir."

"Ah! had you forgotten to tell me?"

"No, sir; I have but just remembered it."

Washington laughed heartily. "Mind you never tell her that," he said.
"Women love the lie that saves their pride, but never an unflattering
truth. You have learned your lesson young,--to put a tempting face aside
when duty demands every faculty; it is a lesson which takes most men
longest to learn. I could tell you some amusing stories of rough and
tumbles in my mind between the divine image of the hour and some affair
of highest moment. But to a brain like yours all things are possible."

He rose, and took Hamilton's hand and shook it warmly.

"God bless you," he said. "Your future unrolls to my vision, brilliant
and happy. I deeply wish that it may be so."


The letter from General Schuyler, giving his consent to the engagement,
has not been preserved; but some time after he had occasion to write
Hamilton a business letter, in which the following passage occurs:--

     You cannot, my dear sir, be more happy at the connexion you have
     made with my family than I am. Until the child of a parent has made
     a judicious choice, his heart is in continual anxiety; but this
     anxiety was removed on the moment I discovered it was on you she
     had placed her affections. I am pleased with every instance of
     delicacy in those who are so dear to me; and I think I read your
     soul on the occasion you mention. I shall therefore only entreat
     you to consider me as one who wishes in every way to promote your

General Schuyler was ordered by Congress to Morristown to confer with
Washington. He took a house, sent for his family, and remained until
late in the summer. The closest friendship was formed between Schuyler
and Hamilton, which, with common political interests and deepening
sympathy, increased from year to year. The good fairies of Nevis who had
attended Hamilton's birth never did better for him than when they gave
him Elizabeth Schuyler for wife and Philip Schuyler for father and
friend. And they had blasted the very roots of the chief impediment to
success, for he triumphed steadily and without effort over what has
poisoned the lives of many men; and triumphed in spite of the fact that
the truth was vaguely known always, and kept in the quiver of his

As Hamilton was absent from Headquarters but seldom during General
Schuyler's sojourn, the lovers met almost every evening, and
occasionally Washington, who possessed certain sympathies based on long
experience, would give Hamilton a morning free, and suggest a ride
through the woods. Never were two people happier nor more inherently
suited. Hamilton's instinct had guided him safely past more brilliant
women to one who willingly would fold herself round his energetic
individuality of many parts, fitting into every division and crevice.
She was receptive, sympathetic, adaptive, with sufficient intelligence
to appreciate the superlative brain of the man whom she never ceased to
worship and to regard as a being of unmortal clay. A brilliant ambitious
wife in the same house with Hamilton might have written a picturesque
diary, but the domestic instrument would have twanged with discords.
Hamilton was unselfish, and could not do enough for those he loved; but
he was used to the first place, to the unquestioned yielding of it to
his young high-mightiness by his clever aspiring friends, by the army of
his common acquaintance, and in many ways by Washington himself. Had he
married Angelica Schuyler, that independent, high-spirited, lively,
adorable woman, probably they would have boxed each other's ears at the
end of a week.

Hamilton made the dash on Staten Island with Lord Sterling, and in March
went with General St. Clair and Colonel Carrington to negotiate with the
British commissioners for the exchange of prisoners; before the battle
of Springfield he was sent out to reconnoitre. Otherwise his days were
taken up bombarding the Congress with letters representing the necessity
of drafting troops to meet the coming emergencies.

He and Miss Betsey Schuyler had a very pretty plan, which was nothing
less than that they should go to Europe on their wedding tour, Congress
to find his presence necessary at the Court of France. The suggestion
originated with Laurens, who had been asked to go as secretary to
Franklin. He had no wish to go, and knowing Hamilton's ardent desire to
visit Europe and growing impatience with his work, had recommended his
name to the Congress. General Schuyler would have procured a leave of
absence for his impending son-in-law, and sent the young couple to
Europe with his blessing and a heavy wallet, but Hamilton would as soon
have forged a man's name as travelled at his expense. He hoped that the
Congress would send him. He was keenly alive to the value of studying
Europe at first hand before he was called upon to help in the modelling
of the new Republic, and the vision of wandering in historic lands with
his bride kept him awake at night. Moreover, he was desperately tired of
his life at Headquarters. When the expedition to Staten Island was in
question, he asked Washington, through Lafayette, to give him the
command of a battalion which happened to be without a field-officer.
Washington refused, partly from those motives of policy to which he ever
showed an almost niggling adherence, but more because he could not spare
his most useful aide. Hamilton, who was bursting for action of any sort,
retired to his detested little office in angry disappointment. But he
was a philosopher. He adjusted himself to the Inevitable, and dismissed
the matter from his mind, after registering a vow that he would take
advantage of the first excuse which might offer to resign his position.

The Schuylers returned to Albany. The French fleet arrived, and hovered
well beyond the range of British guns, having no desire to risk an
engagement until reinforced. Its Admiral, Count Rochambeau, having a
grievance, Hamilton advised a personal conference.

"We might suggest that he meet us halfway--say at Wethersfield, near
Hartford," he added. "That would save us something in travelling

Washington sighed heavily. "We are worse off than you think," he said.
"I might scrape together money enough for half the journey, but no more.
Lafayette and his aide must go with us--to say nothing of the escort.
Think of the innkeepers' bills, for ourselves and horses. What to do I
confess I do not know, for I should confer with this Frenchman at once."

"Go we must, sir," said Hamilton, decidedly, "if we have to take up a
collection--why not? If an object cannot be accomplished one way, try
another." He stood up and emptied the contents of his pockets on the
table. "Only five hundred beggarly continentals," he said ruefully.
"However, who knows what treasures may line more careful pockets than
mine? I know they will come forth as spontaneously. Have I your
permission to try, sir?"

Washington nodded, and Hamilton ran downstairs, pressed Meade into
service, and together they made the round of the officers' quarters. He
returned at the end of an hour and threw a huge bundle of paper on the
table. "Only eight thousand dollars, sir," he said. "It's the best that
any man could do. But I think it may carry us through."

"It will have to," said Washington. "Remind me, my dear boy, if you see
me eating too much. I have such an appetite!"

They set out on their journey a week later, having communicated with
Rochambeau, who agreed to meet them at Wethersfield. All went well, for
the wretched inns were not exorbitant, until they reached Hartford. They
arrived late in the afternoon, weary and ravenous. After a bath and a
glimpse of luxurious beds, they marched to the dining room and sat down
to a sumptuous repast, whose like had greeted neither nostril nor palate
for many a day. The wines were mellow, the tobacco green, the
conversation gay until midnight. Hamilton sang "The Drum," and many
another song rang among the rafters. Washington retired first, bidding
the youngsters enjoy themselves. The young men arose at their accustomed
hour next morning, with appetites renewed, but waited in vain for their
Chief. Hamilton finally knocked at his door. There was no response, and
a servant told him that the General had gone out nearly an hour before.
He went in search, bidding Lafayette and M'Henry remain behind. As he
had anticipated, he found Washington in a secluded nook, engaged in
prayer. He waited a few moments, then coughed respectfully. Washington
immediately rose, his harassed face showing little relief.

"Is anything wrong, sir?" asked Hamilton, anxiously.

"Alas!" said the General, "I wonder that you, too, are not driven to
prayer, to intercede for help in this distressing predicament. Think of
that extravagant repast we consumed last night. God help me, but I was
so famished I never gave a thought to consequences. Unquestionably, the
breakfast will be on a like scale. _And we have but eight thousand
dollars with which to pay the bill_!"

"It is true! I never gave the matter a thought--I am cursedly
extravagant. And we must get home! I suppose we shall have to fast all
the way. Well, we've fasted before, and the memory of last night's
dinner may sustain us--"

"But this man's bill! How are we to meet it?"

"Shall I speak to him, sir? Tell him unreservedly our predicament--that
these wretched eight thousand dollars are all we have in the world?
Perhaps he is a good patriot, and will call the account square."

"Do," said Washington, "and come here and tell me what he says. I am too
mortified to show my face. I shall not enter the house again."

Hamilton walked slowly to the house, little caring for his errand. He
returned on a dead run.

"We are saved, sir!" he cried, almost in Washington's arms. "Governor
Trumbull has sent word to all the hostelries that we are to be his
guests while we are in the state of Connecticut!"

Washington said his prayers again, and ate two chickens for breakfast.

On the return from this conference, when approaching the house of
General Benedict Arnold, opposite West Point, where they were invited
for breakfast, Washington suddenly decided to accompany Lafayette, who
wished to inspect some earthworks.

"You need not come," he said to Hamilton and M'Henry.
"I know that you are both in love with Mrs. Arnold. Go on. We will join
you presently."

The young men were greeted with effusion by the pretty hostess, with
absent reserve by her husband. Mrs. Arnold left the room to order that
the breakfast be delayed. While she was absent, a note was brought to
Arnold. He opened it, turned green, and rising hastily, announced that
his presence was demanded at West Point and left the room. The sound of
a smothered scream and fall came from above. A moment later the aides
heard the sound of galloping hoofs.

Their suspicions aroused, they ran outside. A messenger, with a despatch
from Colonel Jameson, awaited Washington's arrival. Hamilton tore open
the paper. It contained the news that a British spy had been captured
within the lines. In an instant Hamilton and M'Henry were on their
horses and off in pursuit of the fugitive. That Arnold was a traitor and
had fled to the British war-ship, _Vulture_, hovering in Haverstraw Bay,
a slower wit than Hamilton's would have assumed. The terrified scoundrel
was too quick for them. He had ridden over a precipice to the shore
below, and under protection of a flag of truce was far down the river
when his pursuers sighted him. They returned with all speed.

I shall not repeat the oft-told tale of André's capture, trial, and
death. Nowhere has it been so well told as by Hamilton himself, in a
letter to Laurens, printed at the time and universally read. It is only
necessary here to allude to his share in that unhappiest episode of the
war. When Washington reached the house his aide was engaged in consoling
Mrs. Arnold, who was shrieking and raving, weeping and fainting;
imposing on Hamilton a task varied and puzzling, even to one of his
schooling. But she was very young, very charming, and in a tragic
plight. Washington himself wiped away a tear, and for a moment forgot
the barely averted consequences of her husband's treason, while he
assisted Hamilton in assuaging a grief so bitter and so appealing. As
soon as was possible he sent her through the British lines.

But Hamilton quickly forgot Mrs. Arnold in his sympathy and admiration
for the unfortunate André. He conceived a quick and poignant friendship
for the brilliant accomplished young Englishman, with the dreamy soft
face of a girl, and a mettle which had brought him to destruction.
Hamilton did all he could to save him, short of suggesting to André to
ask Sir Henry Clinton to offer Arnold in exchange. He enlisted the
sympathy of the officers at West Point in the prisoner's behalf, gave up
his leisure to diverting André's mind, and persuaded Washington to delay
the execution and send an indirect suggestion to Clinton to offer the
exchange himself. When all hope was over, he personally begged
Washington to heed André's request for a soldier's death, and not
condemn such a man to the gibbet. Washington gladly would have saved his
interesting prisoner's life, and felt deeply for him, but again those
motives of policy prevailed, and André was executed like a common


Washington was in temporary quarters--a cramped and wretched tavern--at
Liberty Pole, New Jersey. The inaction being oppressive, Hamilton
concentrated his thoughts on the condition and needs of the country.

     I am sorry that the same spirit of indifference to public affairs
     prevails, [he wrote to Sears]. It is necessary we should rouse and
     begin to do our business in earnest, or we shall play a losing
     game. We must have a government with more power. We must have a tax
     in kind. We must have a foreign loan. We must have a bank on the
     true principles of a bank. We must have an administration distinct
     from Congress, and in the hands of single men under their orders.
     We must, above all things, have an army for the war.... We are told
     here there is to be a Congress of the neutral powers at the Hague
     for meditating of peace. God send it may be true. We want it; but
     if the idea goes abroad, ten to one if we do not fancy the thing
     done, and fall into a profound sleep till the cannon of the enemy
     waken us next campaign. This is our national character.

Hamilton, the High Priest of Energy, had long since declared war against
the genius of the American people, who believed in God and the art of
leisure. Hamilton believed in God and a cabinet of zealous ministers. He
was already a thorn in the side of estimable but hesitant patriots, and
in times to come his unremitting and remorseless energy was to be a
subject of reproach by associates and enemies alike. Even Jefferson,
that idol of the present as of the past democracy, had timidly declared
against separation in 1774, while Hamilton, a boy of seventeen, had been
the first to suggest the resort to arms, and incessant in his endeavours
until the great result was accomplished. He had countless other schemes,
and he knew that eventually he would succeed in driving the American
people before the point of his quill. That his task would be long and
arduous did not daunt him for a moment. By this time he knew every want
of the country, and was determined upon the reorganization of the
government. The energy which is one of the distinguishing
characteristics of the American nation to-day was generated by Hamilton,
might, indeed, be said to be the persistence and diffusion of his ego.
For the matter of that, all that is greatest in this American evolution
of a century was typified in Hamilton. Not only his formidable energy,
but his unqualified honour and integrity, his unquenchable optimism, his
extraordinary nimbleness of mind and readiness of resource, his gay
good-nature, high spirits, and buoyancy, his light philosophy
effervescing above unsounded depths, his inability to see when he was
beaten, his remorseless industry, his hard common sense, combined with a
versatile cleverness which makes for shallowness in another race, his
careless generosity, his aptitude for detail and impatience of it, his
reckless bravery in war and intrepidity in peace, even his highly strung
nerves, excitability, and obliging readiness at all times for a fight,
raise him high above history as the genius of the American race. The
reverse side of the national character we owe to the greatest of his
rivals; as will be seen hereafter.

During the sojourn at Liberty Pole, Washington and he sat through many
nights discussing the imperative need of the reorganization of the
government, and the best methods by which it could be accomplished. The
result was Hamilton's letter to James Duane, an important member of the

This letter, no doubt the most remarkable of its kind ever written, and
as interesting to-day as when Hamilton conceived it, is far too long to
be quoted. It began with an exhaustive analysis of the reasons for the
failure of Congress to cope with a situation which was becoming more
threatening every hour, and urged the example of the Grecian republics
and the Swiss cantons against the attempted confederation of the States
without a strong centralized government. Lacking a common tie of
sufficient strength, the States would inevitably drift toward
independent sovereignty, and they had given signal proof in the matter
of raising troops, contributing money, and in their everlasting disputes
about boundary lines, as to the absolute lack of any common public
spirit. His remedy, in brief, was a convention of the States for the
purpose of creating a Federal Constitution, the distributing of the
powers of government into separate departments, with Presidents of War,
Marine, and Trade, a secretary of Foreign Affairs, and a Financier,
defining their prerogatives; the States to have no privileges beyond an
internal police for the protection of the property and the rights of
individuals, and to raise money by internal taxes; the army to be
recruited on a permanent establishment. In addition, there was an
elaborate system of taxation, by which the country could be supported in
all its emergencies. His favourite plan of a National Bank was
elaborated in minute detail, the immediate necessity for a foreign loan
dwelt upon with sharp reproof, and examples given of the recruiting of
armies in European states.

Out of a multitude of suggestions a few were adopted within a short
time, but the great central suggestion, the calling of a convention for
the purpose of creating a Federal Constitution, was to be hammered at
for many weary years before jealous States and unconfident patriots
could be persuaded to a measure so monarchical and so bold. But the
letter is on record, and nothing more logical, far-sighted, and
comprehensive ever was written. It contained the foundation-stones upon
which this government of the United States stands to-day. Congress put
on its spectacles and read it with many grunts, magnanimously expressing
admiration for a youth who had fearlessly grappled with questions which
addled older brains; but its audacious suggestions of a government
greater than Congress, and of a bank which would add to their troubles,
were not taken seriously for a moment.

Hamilton also found time to write a good many love letters. Here is one
of them:--

     I would not have you imagine, Miss, that I write you so often to
     gratify your wishes or please your vanity; but merely to indulge
     myself, and to comply with that restless propensity of my mind
     which will not be happy unless I am doing something in which you
     are concerned. This may seem a very idle disposition in a
     philosopher and a soldier, but I can plead illustrious examples in
     my justification. Achilles liked to have sacrificed Greece and his
     glory to a female captive, and Anthony lost a world for a woman. I
     am very sorry times are so changed as to oblige me to go to
     antiquity for my apology, but I confess, to the disgrace of the
     present time, that I have not been able to find as many who are as
     far gone as myself in the laudable Zeal of the fair sex. I suspect,
     however, if others knew the charm of my sweetheart as I do, I could
     have a great number of competitors. I wish I could give you an idea
     of her. You can have no conception of how sweet a girl she is. It
     is only in my heart that her image is truly drawn. She has a lovely
     form and still more lovely mind. She is all goodness, the gentlest,
     the dearest, the tenderest of her sex. Ah, Betsey, how I love her!

His reiterated demand for a foreign loan, and the sending of a special
envoy to obtain it, at last wrung a reluctant consent from Congress.
Lafayette was his politic suggestion, and Congress would have indorsed
it, but that adventurous young hero had not come to America to return
and beg money on his own doorstep. There was a prospect of fighting in
the immediate future, and he was determined to add to his renown. The
choice then lay between Hamilton and Laurens, who had received the
thanks of Congress for his distinguished services in the field, and
whose father had been a president of that body. Lafayette and all the
Frenchmen were anxious that the mission be given to Hamilton. The former
went to Philadelphia and talked to half the Congress. He offered
Hamilton private letters which would introduce him to the best society
of Europe; adding, "I intend giving you the _key_ of the cabinet, as
well as of the societies which influence them."

Laurens, by this time, was eager to go. His father, who had started for
Holland as Minister Plenipotentiary, had been captured by the British
and confined in the Tower of London; the foreign mission would give him
an opportunity to attempt his liberation. Moreover, life was very dull
at present, and he knew himself to be possessed of diplomatic talents.
But he was also aware of Hamilton's ardent desire to visit Europe, all
that it would mean to that insatiate mind, his weariness of his present
position. Washington would give his consent to the temporary absence of
Hamilton, for the French money was the vital necessity of the Republic's
life, and he knew that his indomitable aide would not return without it
Therefore Laurens wrote to Hamilton, who was in Albany awaiting his
wedding-day, that he should resign in his favour, and congratulated him
on so brilliant and distinguished a honeymoon.

The struggle in Hamilton's mind was brief. The prospect of sailing with
his bride on a long and delightful journey that could not fail to bring
him highest honour had made his blood dance. Moreover, in the previous
month Washington had again refused his request for an independent
command. It took him but a short time to relinquish this cherished dream
when he thought of the unhappy plight of Mr. Laurens, and remembered the
deep anxiety of the son, often expressed. He wrote to Laurens,
withdrawing in the most decisive terms. Laurens was not to be outdone.
He loved his father, but he loved Hamilton more. He pressed the
appointment upon his friend, protesting that the affairs of the elder
Laurens would be quite as safe in his hands. Hamilton prevailed, and
Congress, having waited amiably while the two martial youths had it out,
unanimously appointed Laurens. He could not sail until February, and as
soon as the matter was decided obtained leave of absence and repaired in
all haste to Albany, to be present at Hamilton's wedding.


The wedding of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler was the most
notable private event of the Revolution. The immense social and
political consequence of the Schuylers, and the romantic fame of the
young aide, of whom the greatest things possible were expected, brought
the aristocracy of New York and the Jersies to Albany despite the
inclement winter weather. The large house of the Schuylers gave a
prolonged hospitality to the women, and the men lodged in the
patriarchal little town. But although Hamilton was glad to see the
Livingstons, Sterlings, and Boudinots again, the greater number of the
guests interested him far less than a small group of weather-beaten
soldiers, of which this occasion was the happy cause of reunion. Troup
was there, full of youth and honours. He had received the thanks of
Congress for his services at Saratoga, and been appointed secretary of
the Board of War. Recently he had resigned from the army, and was
completing his law studies. Nicolas Fish came with Lafayette, whose
light artillery he commanded. He was known as a brave and gallant
soldier, and so excellent a disciplinarian that he had won the approval
and confidence of Washington. He still parted his little fringe in the
middle, and his face was as chubby as ever, his eyes as solemn.
Lafayette, who had brought a box full of clothes that had dazzled Paris,
embraced Hamilton with tears, but they were soon deep in conjectures of
the next campaign. Laurens, looking like a king in exile, wrung many
hearts. Hamilton's brother aides, unfortunately, were the more closely
bound by his absence, but they had despatched him with their blessing
and much chaffing.

The hall of the Schuyler mansion was about twenty feet square and
panelled in white. It was decorated with holly, and for three nights
before the wedding illuminated by hundreds of wax candles, while the
young people danced till three in the morning. The Schuyler house, long
accustomed to entertaining, had never been gayer, and no one was more
content than the chatelaine. Although she had been reasonably sure of
Elizabeth, there was no telling at what moment the maiden might yield to
the romantic mania of the time, and climb out of her window at night
while Hamilton stood shivering below. Now all danger was past, and Mrs.
Schuyler moved, large, placid, and still handsome, among her guests,
beaming so affectionately whenever she met Mrs. Carter's flashing eyes
that Peggy and Cornelia renewed their vows to elope when the hour and
the men arrived. General Schuyler, once more on the crest of public
approval, was always grave and stern, but he, too, breathed satisfaction
and relief. He was a tall man of military appearance, powerful,
muscular, slender; but as his nose was large and fleshy, and he wore a
ragged-looking wig with wings like Washington's, he could not be called
handsome. It was a noble countenance, however, and his black eyes
flashed and pierced.

As for Hamilton and Miss Schuyler, who had a trunk full of charming new
gowns, they were as happy as two children, and danced the night through.
They were married on the 20th, in the drawing-room, in front of the
splendid mantel, which the housewives had spent much time in admiring.
The bride wore the white which became her best, made with a long pointed
bodice and paniers, and lace that had been worn by the wife of the first
patroon. She had risen to the dignity of a wig, and her mass of black
hair was twisted mercilessly tight under the spreading white monstrosity
to which her veil was attached. Hamilton wore a black velvet coat, as
befitting his impending state. Its lining and the short trousers were of
white satin. His shapely legs were in white silk, his feet in pumps with
diamond buckles, the present of Lafayette. He, too, wore a wig,--a close
one, with a queue,--but he got rid of it immediately after the ceremony,
for it heated his head.

Hamilton had then reached his full height, about five feet six. His
bride was perhaps three inches shorter. The world vowed that never had
there been so pretty a couple, nor one so well matched in every way.
Both were the perfection of make, and the one as fair and fresh as a
Scot, the other a golden gipsy, the one all fire and energy, the other
docile and tender, but with sufficient spirit and intelligence. It is
seldom that the world so generously gives its blessing, but it might
have withheld it, for all that Hamilton and his bride would have cared.

Hamilton's honeymoon was brief. There was a mass of correspondence
awaiting him, and no place for a bride in the humble Dutch house at New
Windsor where Washington had gone into winter quarters. But the distance
was not great, and he could hope for flying leaves of absence.
Washington was not unsympathetic to lovers; he had been known to unbend
and advise his aides when complications threatened or a siege seemed
hopeless; and he had given Hamilton the longest leave possible.
Nevertheless, the bridegroom set forth, one harsh January morning, on
his long journey, over roads a foot deep in snow, and through solitary
winter forests, with any thing but an impassioned desire to see General
Washington again. Had he been returning to the command of a corps, with
a prospect of stirring events as soon as the snow melted, he would have
spurred his horse with high satisfaction, even though he left a bride
behind him; but to return to a drudgery which he hated the more for
having escaped it for three enchanted weeks, made his spirit turn its
back to the horse's head. He resolved anew to resign if an opportunity
offered. Four years of that particular sort of devotion to the patriot
cause were enough. He wished to demonstrate his patriotism in other
ways. He had accomplished the primary object for which Washington had
pressed him into service, and he believed that the war was nearing its
finish; there was nothing he could now do at Headquarters which the
other aides could not do as well, and he wanted military excitement and
renown while their possibilities existed.


The first task awaiting him upon his arrival at Headquarters was to draw
up a letter of instruction for Laurens, a task which required minute
care; for on its suggestions, as much as on Laurens's brilliant talents,
depended the strength of a mission whose failure might mean that of the
American arms. Laurens had requested the letter, and told Hamilton that
he should be guided by it. He did not anticipate a royal condition of
mind which would prompt him practically to carry off the French
money-bags under the king's astonished nose, and he knew Hamilton's
command of every argument connected with the painful subject of
financial needs. Hamilton drew up a lucid and comprehensive letter, in
nine parts, which Laurens could study at his leisure on the frigate,
_Alliance_; then attacked his accumulated duties. They left him little
leisure to remember he was a bridegroom, although he occasionally
directed his gaze toward the North with some longing. His freedom
approached, however, and it was swift and unexpected.

It came on the 16th of February. His office was in his bedroom. He had
just completed a letter containing instructions of an important nature
for the commissary, and started in search of Tilghman, whose duty it was
to see it safely delivered. On the stairs he passed Washington, whose
brow was heavy. The General, with that brevity which was an indication
of his passionate temper fighting against a self-control which he must
have knocked flat with great satisfaction at times, ejaculated that he
wished to speak with him at once. Hamilton replied that he would wait
upon him immediately, and hastened to Tilghman's office, wondering what
had occurred to stir the depths of his Chief. He was but a moment with
Tilghman, but on the stairs he met Lafayette, who was in search of him
upon a matter of business. It is possible that Hamilton should not have
permitted himself to be detained, but at all events he did, for perhaps
two minutes. Suddenly he became conscious that Washington was standing
at the head of the stairs, and wondering if he had awaited him there, he
abruptly broke off his conversation with Lafayette, and ran upward.
Washington looked as if about to thunder anathema upon the human race.
He had been annoyed since dawn, and his passions fairly flew at this
last indignity.

"Colonel Hamilton!" he exclaimed. "You have kept me waiting at the head
of the stairs these ten minutes. I must tell you, sir, you treat me with

Hamilton's eyes blazed and his head went back, but his quick brain leapt
to the long-desired opportunity. He replied as calmly as if his heart
were not thumping, "I am not conscious of it, sir, but since you have
thought it necessary to tell me so, we part."

"Very well, sir!" replied Washington, "if it be your choice!" He turned
his back and strode to his office.

Hamilton went to his room with a light heart, feeling as if the
pigeon-holes were marching out of his brain. The breach was
Washington's; he himself had answered with dignity, and could leave with
a clear conscience. He had not kept Washington waiting above four
minutes, and he did not feel that an apology was necessary.

"Oh," he thought aloud, "I feel as if I had grown wings." He would
return to his bride for a few weeks, then apply once more for a command.

There was a knock, and Tilghman entered. The young men looked at each
other in silence for a moment; Tilghman with an almost comical anxiety,
Hamilton with alert defiance.

"Well?" demanded Hamilton.

"I come from the Chief--ambassador extraordinary. Look out of the
window, or I shall not have courage to go on. He's put the devil to bed
and is monstrous sorry this misunderstanding has occurred--"

"Misunderstanding?" snorted Hamilton.

"You know my love of euphony, Hamilton. Pray let me finish. I'd rather
be Laurens on my way to beg. What is a king to a lion? But seriously, my
dear, the Chief is desperately sorry this has occurred. He has deputed
me to assure you of his great confidence in your abilities, integrity,
and usefulness, and of his desire, in a candid conversation, to heal a
difference which could not have happened but in a moment of passion. Do
go and see him at once, and then we shall all sleep in peace to-night."

But Hamilton shook his head decidedly. "You know how tired I am of all
this," he said, "and that I can be as useful and far more agreeably
active in the field. If I consent to this interview, I am lost. I have
never doubted the Chief's affection for me, but he is also the most
astute of men, and knows my weakness. If, arguments having failed, he
puts his arm about my shoulders and says, 'My boy, _do_ not desert me,'
I shall melt, and vow that neither bride nor glory could beckon me from
him. So listen attentively, mon ami, and deliver my answer as follows:
1st. I have taken my resolve in a manner not to be revoked, 2d. As a
conversation could serve no other purpose than to produce explanations,
mutually disagreeable, though I certainly will not refuse an interview
if he desires it, yet I should be happy if he would permit me to decline
it. 3d. That, though determined to leave the family, the same principles
which have kept me so long in it will continue to direct my conduct
toward him when out of it. 4th. That I do not wish to distress him or
the public business by quitting him before he can derive other
assistance by the return of some of the gentlemen who are absent. 5th.
And that in the meantime it depends on him to let our behaviour to each
other be the same as if nothing had happened."

Tilghman heaved a deep sigh. "Then you really mean to go?" he said.
"Heartless wretch! Have you no mercy on us? Headquarters will be a tomb,
with Washington reposing on top. Think of the long and solemn
breakfasts, the funereal dinners, the brief but awful suppers.
Washington will never open his mouth again, and I never had the courage
to speak first. If ever you deign to visit us, you will find that we
have lost the power of speech. I repeat that you have no heart in your

Hamilton laughed. "If you did not know that I love you, you would not
sit there and revile me. No family has ever been happier than ours. In
four years there has not been a quarrel until to-day. I can assure you
that my heart will ache when the time comes to leave you, but I really
had got to the end of my tether. I have long felt as if I could not go
on another day."

"'Tis grinding, monotonous work," admitted Tilghman, "and we've all
wondered how you have stood it as long as this--every bit of you was
made for action. Well, I'll take your message to the Chief."

Washington consented to waive the explanation and sent Hamilton another
message, thanking him for consenting to remain until Harrison and Meade


Little Mrs. Hamilton was delighted with the course affairs had taken,
and pleaded for resignation from the army. But to this Hamilton would
not hearken. Anxious as he was for the war to finish, that he might
begin upon the foundations of home and fortune, he had no intention of
deserting a cause to which he had pledged himself, and in which there
still was a chance for him to achieve distinction. So far, his ambitions
were wholly military. If the profound thought he had given to the
present and future needs of the Republic was not wholly impersonal; if
he took for granted that he had a part to play when the Revolution
finished, it was little more than a dream at present. His very
temperament was martial, the energy and impetuosity of his nature were
in their element on the battlefield, and he would rather have been a
great general than the elder Pitt. But although there is no reason to
doubt that he would have become a great general, had circumstance
favoured his pet ambition, yet Washington was a better judge of the
usefulness of his several abilities than he was himself. Not only had
that reader of men made up his mind that a brain like his favourite's
should not be wasted on the battlefield,--left there, perhaps, while
dolts escaped, for Hamilton had no appreciation of fear or danger,--but
he saw in him the future statesman, fertile, creative, executive,
commanding; and he could have no better training than at a desk in his
office. Phenomenally precocious, even mature, as Hamilton's brain had
been when they met that morning on the Heights of Harlem, these four
years had given it a structural growth which it would not have acquired
in camp life, and to which few men of forty were entitled. Of this fact
Hamilton was appreciative, and he was too philosophical to harbour
regrets; but that period was over now, and he wanted to fight.

On April 27th he wrote to Washington, asking for employment during the
approaching campaign, suggesting the command of a light corps, and
modestly but decidedly stating his claims.

Washington was greatly embarrassed. Every arbitrary appointment caused a
ferment in the army, where jealousies were hotter than martial ardours.
Washington was politic above all things, but to refuse Hamilton a
request after their quarrel and parting was the last thing he wished to
do. He felt that he had no choice, however, and wrote at once,
elaborating his reasons for refusal, ending as follows:--

     My principal concern rises from an apprehension that you will
     impute my refusal of your request to other motives than those I
     have expressed, but I beg you to be assured I am only influenced by
     the reasons I have mentioned.

Hamilton knew him too well to misunderstand him, but he was deeply
disappointed. He retired into the library behind the drawing-room of the
Schuyler mansion, and wrote another and a more elaborate letter to
Robert Morris. He began with a reiteration of the impotence of Congress,
its loss of the confidence of this country and of Europe, the necessity
for an executive ministry, and stated that the time was past to indulge
in hopes of foreign aid. The States must depend upon themselves, and
their only hope lay in a National Bank. There had been some diffidence
in his previous letter. There was none in this, and he had a greater
mastery of the subject. In something like thirty pages of close writing,
he lays down every law, extensive and minute, for the building of a
National Bank, and not the most remarkable thing about this letter is
the psychological knowledge it betrays of the American people. Having
despatched it, he wrote again to Washington, demonstrating that his case
was dissimilar from those the Chief had quoted. He disposed of each case
in turn, and his presentation of his own claims was equally
unanswerable. Washington, who was too wise to enter into a controversy
with Hamilton's pen, did not reply to the letter, but made up his mind
to do what he could for him, although still determined there should be
no disaffection in the army of his making.

Meanwhile Hamilton received letters from Lafayette, begging him to
hasten South and share his exile; from Washington, asking advice; and
from members of the family, reminding him of their affection and regret.
Tilghman's is characteristic:--

Headquarters, 27th April.

     MY DEAR HAMILTON: Between me and thee there is a gulf, or I should
     not have been thus long without seeing you. My faith is strong, but
     not strong enough to attempt walking on the waters. You must not
     suppose from my dealing so much in Scripture phrase that I am
     either drunk with religion or with wine, though had I been inclined
     to the latter I might have found a jolly companion in my lord, who
     came here yesterday. We have not a word of news.... I must go over
     and see you soon, for I am not yet weaned from you, nor do I desire
     to be. I will not present so cold words as compliments to Mrs.
     Hamilton. She has an equal share of the best wishes of

     Your most affectionate


The following was from Laurens:--

     I am indebted to you, my dear Hamilton, for two letters: the first
     from Albany, as masterly a piece of cynicism as ever was penned;
     the other from Philadelphia, dated the second March; in both you
     mention a design of retiring, which makes me extremely unhappy. I
     would not wish to have you for a moment withdraw from the public
     service; at the same time my friendship for you, and knowledge of
     your value to the United States, makes me most ardently desire that
     you should fill only the first offices of the Republic. I was
     flattered with an account of your being elected a delegate from New
     York, and am much mortified not to hear it confirmed by yourself. I
     must confess to you that at the present stage of the war, I should
     prefer your going into Congress, and from thence becoming a
     minister plenipotentiary for peace, to your remaining in the army,
     where the dull system of seniority, and the _tableau_, would
     prevent you from having the important commands to which you are
     entitled; but, at any rate, I will not have you renounce your rank
     unless you entered the career above mentioned. Your private affairs
     cannot require such immediate and close attention. You speak like a
     _paterfamilias_ surrounded with a numerous progeny.

On the 26th of May he had an appreciative letter from Robert Morris,
thanking him for his suggestions, and assuring him of their
acceptability. He promises a bank on Hamilton's plan, although with far
less capital; still it may afterward be increased to any extent.

The northern land was full of amenities, the river gay with pleasure
barges. The French gardens about the Schuyler mansion were romantic for
saunterings with the loveliest of brides; the seats beneath the great
trees commanded the wild heights opposite. Forty of the finest horses in
the country were in General Schuyler's stables, and many carriages.
There was a constant stream of distinguished guests. But Hamilton, who
could dally pleasurably for a short time, had no real affinity for
anything but work. There being no immediate prospect of fighting, he
retired again to the library and began that series of papers called _The
Continentalist_, which were read as attentively as if peace had come.
They examined the defects of the existing league of states, their
jealousies, which operated against the formation of a Federal
government, then proceeded to enumerate the powers with which such a
government should be clothed.

Hamilton did not wait with any particular grace, but even the desired
command came to him after a reasonable period of attempted patience. At
Washington's request he accompanied him to Newport to confer with
Rochambeau. Although the Chief did not allude to Hamilton's last letter,
their intercourse on this journey was as natural and intimate as ever;
and Washington did not conceal his pleasure in the society of this the
most captivating and endearing of his many young friends. After the
conference was over, Hamilton returned to Albany for a brief visit, then
determined to force Washington to show his hand. He joined the army at
Dobbs Ferry, and sent the Chief his commission. Tilghman returned with
it, express haste, and the assurance that the General would endeavour to
give him a command, nearly such as he could desire in the present
circumstance of the army, Hamilton had accomplished his object. He
retained his commission and quartered with General Lincoln.

When Washington arrived at Dobbs Ferry and went into temporary quarters,
he gave a large dinner to the French officers, and invited Hamilton to

     His graceful manners and witty speeches provoked universal
     admiration [runs the pen of a contemporary]. He was the youngest
     and smallest man present. His hair was turned back from the
     forehead, powdered, and queued at the back. His face was boyishly
     fair, and lighted up with intelligence and genius. Washington,
     grave, elegant and hospitable, sat at the side of the table, with
     the accomplished Count de Rochambeau on his right. The Duke de
     Luzerne occupied a seat opposite. General Knox was present, and so
     was Baron Steuben.

Shortly afterward, Hamilton attended a council of war, at Washington's
invitation. The squadron of De Grasse was approaching the coast of
Virginia. For the second time, Washington was obliged to give up his
cherished scheme of marching on New York, for it was now imperative to
meet Cornwallis in the South. The Chief completely hoodwinked Clinton as
to his immediate plans, Robert Morris raised the funds for moving the
army, and Hamilton obtained his command. To his high satisfaction, Fish
was one of his officers. Immediately before his departure for the South
he wrote to his wife. He had attained his desire, but he was too unhappy
to be playful. A portion of the letter is as follows:--

     A part of the army, my dear girl, is going to Virginia, and I must,
     of necessity, be separated at a much greater distance from my
     beloved wife. I cannot announce the fatal necessity without feeling
     everything that a fond husband can feel. I am unhappy;--I am
     unhappy beyond expression. I am unhappy because I am to be so
     remote from you; because I am to hear from you less frequently than
     I am accustomed to do. I am miserable because I know you will be
     so; I am wretched at the idea of flying so far from you, without a
     single hour's interview, to tell you all my pains and all my love.
     But I cannot ask permission to visit you. It might be thought
     improper to leave my corps at such a time and upon such an
     occasion. I must go without seeing you--I must go without embracing
     you:--alas! I must go.

The allied armies moved on the 22d of August and arrived within two
miles of the enemy's works at York Town, on the 28th of September.
Hamilton's light infantry was attached to the division of Lafayette, who
joined the main army with what was left of his own. Laurens was also in
command of a company of light infantry in the young French general's
division. He had acquitted himself brilliantly in France, returning, in
spite of all obstacles and the discouragement of Franklin, with two and
a half million livres in cash, part of a subsidy of six millions of
livres granted by the French king; but he felt that to be in the field
again with Washington, Hamilton, Lafayette, and Fish was higher fortune
than successful diplomacy.

The allied army was twelve thousand strong; Cornwallis had about
seventy-eight hundred men. The British commander was intrenched in the
village of York Town, the main body of his troops encamped on the open
grounds in the rear. York Town is situated on a peninsula formed by the
rivers York and James, and into this narrow compass Cornwallis had been
driven by the masterly tactics of Lafayette. The arrival of De Grasse's
fleet cut off all hope of retreat by water. He made but a show of
opposition during the eight days employed by the Americans in bringing
up their ordnance and making other preparations. On the 9th the trenches
were completed, and the Americans began the bombardment of the town and
of the British frigates in the river. It continued for nearly
twenty-four hours, and so persistent and terrific was the cannonading,
that the British, being unfortunate in their embrasures, withdrew most
of their cannon and made infrequent reply. On the night of the 11th new
trenches were begun within two and three hundred yards of the British
works. While they were completing, the enemy opened new embrasures, from
which their fire was far more effective than at first. Two redoubts
flanked this second parallel and desperately annoyed the men in the
trenches. It was determined to carry them by assault, and the American
light infantry and De Viomenil's grenadiers and chasseurs were ordered
to hold themselves in readiness for the attack. Laurens, with eighty
men, was to turn the redoubt in order to intercept the retreat of the
garrison, but Hamilton, for the moment, saw his long-coveted
opportunity glide by him. Washington had determined to give it to our
hero's old Elizabethtown tutor, Colonel Barber, conceiving that the
light infantry which had made the Virginia campaign was entitled to
precedence. Hamilton was standing with Major Fish when the news of this
arrangement was brought to him. He reached the General's tent in three
bounds, and poured forth the most impetuous appeal he had ever permitted
himself to launch at Washington. But he was terribly in earnest, and the
prospect of losing this magnificent opportunity tore down the barriers
of his self-possession. "It is my right to attack, sir!" he concluded
passionately, "I am the officer on duty!" Washington had watched his
flushed nervous face and flashing eyes, which had far more command in
their glances than appeal, and he never made great mistakes: he knew
that if he refused this request, Hamilton never would forgive him.

"Very well," he said. "Take it."

Hamilton ran back to Fish, crying: "We have it. We have it;" and
immediately began to form his troops. The order was issued to advance in
two columns, and after dark the march began, Hamilton leading the
advance corps. The French were to attack the redoubt on the right.

The signal was a shell from the American batteries, followed by one from
the French. The instant the French shell ascended, Hamilton gave the
order to advance at the point of the bayonet; then his impatience, too
long gnawing at its curb, dominated him, and he ran ahead of his men and
leaped to the abatis. For a half moment he stood alone on the parapet,
then Fish reached him, and together they encouraged the rest to come on.
Hamilton turned and sprang into the ditch, Fish following. The infantry
was close behind, and surmounting the abatis, ditch, and palisades,
leaped into the work. Hamilton had disappeared, and they feared he had
fallen, but he was investigating; he suddenly reappeared, and formed the
troops in the redoubt. It surrendered almost immediately. The attack
took but nine minutes, so irresistible was the impetuosity of the
onslaught. Hamilton gave orders at once to spare every man who had
ceased to fight. When Colonel Campbell advanced to surrender, one of the
American captains seized a bayonet and drew back to plunge it into the
Englishman's breast. Hamilton thrust it aside, and Campbell was made
prisoner by Laurens. Washington was delighted. "Few cases," he said,
"have exhibited greater proofs of intrepidity, coolness, and firmness
than were shown on this occasion." On the 17th, when Washington received
the proposition for surrender from Cornwallis, he sent for Hamilton and
asked his opinion of the terms. To Laurens was given the honour of
representing the American army at the conference before the surrender.
Tilghman rode, express haste, to Philadelphia with the first news of the
surrender of Cornwallis and his army.

Hamilton's description of his part in the conquest that virtually put an
end to the war is characteristic.

     Two nights ago, my Eliza [he wrote], my duty and my honour obliged
     me to take a step in which your happiness was too much risked. I
     commanded an attack upon one of the enemy's redoubts; we carried it
     in an instant and with little loss. You will see the particulars in
     the Philadelphia papers. There will be, certainly, nothing more of
     this kind; all the rest will be by approach; and if there should be
     another occasion, it would not fall to my turn to execute it.

"It is to be hoped so," she said plaintively to her mother. "Else shall
I no longer need to wear a wig."


The next few years may be passed over quickly; they are not the most
interesting, though not the least happy of Hamilton's life. He returned
home on furlough after the battle of York Town and remained in his
father-in-law's hospitable home until the birth of his boy, on the 22d
of January. Then, having made up his mind that there was no further work
for him in the army, and that Britain was as tired of the war as the
States, he announced his intention to study for the bar. His friends
endeavoured to dissuade him from a career whose preparation was so long
and arduous, and reminded him of the public offices he could have for
the asking. But Hamilton was acquainted with his capacity for
annihilating work, and at this time he was not conscious of any
immediate ambition but of keeping his wife in a proper style and of
founding a fortune for the education of his children. His military
ambition had been so possessing that the sudden and brilliant finish at
York Town of his power to gratify it had dwarfed for a while any other
he may have cherished.

He took a little house in the long street on the river front, and
invited Troup to live with him. They studied together. He had been the
gayest of companions, the most courted of favourites, since his return
from the wars. For four months even his wife and Troup had, save on
Sundays, few words with him on unlegal matters. His brain excluded every
memory, every interest. For the first time he omitted to write regularly
to Mrs. Mitchell, Hugh Knox, and Peter Lytton. All day and half the
night he walked up and down his library, or his father-in-law's,
reading, memorizing, muttering aloud. His friends vowed that he marched
the length and width of the Confederacy. He never gave a more striking
exhibition of his control over the powers of his intellect than this.
The result was that at the end of four months he obtained a license to
practise as an attorney, and published a "Manual on the Practice of
Law," which, Troup tells us, "served as an instructive grammar to future
students, and became the groundwork of subsequent enlarged practical
treatises." If it be protested that these feats were impossible, I can
only reply that they are historic facts.

It was during these months of study that Aaron Burr came to Albany.

This young man, also, was not unknown to fame; and the period of the
Revolution is the one on which Burr's biographers should dilate, for it
was the only one through which he passed in a manner entirely to his
credit. He was now in Albany, striving for admittance to the bar, but
handicapped by the fact that he had studied only two years, instead of
the full three demanded by law.

While Burr did not belong to the aristocracy of the country, his family
not ranking by any means with the Schuylers, Van Rensselaers,
Livingstons, Jays, Morrises, Roosevelts, and others of that small and
haughty band, still he came of excellent and respectable stock. His
father had been the Rev. Aaron Burr, President of Princeton College, and
his mother the daughter of the famous Jonathan Edwards. He was
quick-witted and brilliant; and there is no adjective which qualifies
his ambition. He was a year older than Hamilton, about an inch taller,
and very dark. His features were well cut, his eyes black, glittering,
and cold; his bearing dignified but unimposing, for he bent his
shoulders and walked heavily. His face was not frank, even in youth, and
grew noticeably craftier. He and Hamilton were the greatest fops in
dress of their time; but while the elegance and beauty of attire sat
with a peculiar fitness on Hamilton, seeming but the natural
continuation of his high-bred face and easy erect and graceful bearing,
Burr always looked studiously well-dressed. In regard to their height, a
similar impression prevailed. One never forgot Burr's small stature, and
often commented upon it. Comment upon Hamilton's size was rare, his
proportions and motions were so harmonious; when he was on the platform,
that ruthless test of inches, he dominated and controlled every brain in
the audience, and his enemies vowed he was in league with the devil.

Burr brought letters to General Schuyler, and was politely given the run
of the library. He and Hamilton had met casually in the army, but had
had no opportunity for acquaintance. At this time the law was a subject
of common interest, and they exchanged many opinions. There was no shock
of antagonism at first, and for that matter they asked each other to
dinner as long as Hamilton lived. But Hamilton estimated him justly at
once, although, as Burr was as yet unconscious of the depths of his own
worst qualities, the most astute reader of character hardly would
suspect them. But Hamilton read that he was artificial and
unscrupulous, and too selfish to serve the country in any of her coming
needs. Still, he was brilliant and fascinating, and Hamilton asked him
to his home. Burr, at first, was agreeably attracted to Hamilton, whose
radiant disposition warmed his colder nature; but when he was forced to
accept the astounding fact that Hamilton had prepared himself for the
bar in four months, digesting and remembering a mountain of knowledge
that cost other men the labour of years, and had prepared a Manual
besides, he experienced the first convulsion of that jealousy which was
to become his controlling passion in later years. Indeed, he established
the habit with that first prolonged paroxysm, and he asked himself
sullenly why a nameless stranger, from an unheard-of Island, should have
the unprecedented success which this youth had had. Social victory,
military glory, the preference of Washington, the respect and admiration
of the most eminent men in the country, a horde of friends who talked of
him as if he were a demi-god, an alliance by marriage with the greatest
family in America, a father-in-law to advance any man's ambitions, a
fascination which had kept the women talking until he married, and
finally a memory and a legal faculty which had so astounded the
bar--largely composed of exceptional men--that it could talk of nothing
else: it was enough for a lifetime, and the man was only twenty-five.
What in heaven's name was to be expected of him before he finished? The
more Burr brooded, the more enraged he became. He had been brought up to
think himself extraordinary, although his guardian had occasionally
birched him when his own confidence had disturbed the peace; he was
intensely proud of his military career, and aware of his fitness for the
bar. But in the blaze of Hamilton's genius he seemed to shrivel; and as
for having attempted to prepare himself for practice in four months, he
might as well have grafted wings to his back and expected them to grow.
It was some consolation to reflect that, as aide and confidential
secretary for four years to Washington, Hamilton had been a student of
the law of nations, and that thus his mind was peculiarly fitted to
grasp what confronts most men as a solid wall to be taken down stone by
stone; also that himself acknowledged no rival where the affections of
women were concerned. But while he lifted the drooping head of his
pride, and tied it firmly to a stake with many strong words, he chose to
regard Hamilton as a rival, and the idea grew until it possessed him.

In July Robert Morris, after some correspondence, persuaded Hamilton to
accept the office of Continental Receiver for a short time.

     Your former situation in the army [he wrote], the present situation
     of that very army, your connexions in the state, your perfect
     knowledge of men and measures, and the abilities with which heaven
     has blessed you, will give you a fine opportunity to forward the
     public service.

Hamilton, who had no desire to interrupt his studies, was placed in a
position which gave him no choice; his sense of public duty grew

     For my part [he wrote to Morris], considering the late serious
     misfortune to our ally, the spirit of reformation, of wisdom, and
     of unanimity, which seems to have succeeded to that of blunder and
     dissension in the British government, and the universal reluctance
     of these states to do what is right, I cannot help viewing our
     situation as critical, and I feel it the duty of every citizen to
     exert his faculties to the utmost.

But in spite of the onerous and disagreeable duties of his position, he
continued to pursue the course of study necessary for admission to the
bar as a counsellor. He also found time to write a letter to Meade. The
following extract will show that the severity of his great task was
over, and that he was once more alive to that domestic happiness to
which so large a part of his nature responded.

     You reproach me with not having said enough about our little
     stranger. When I wrote last I was not sufficiently acquainted with
     him to give you his character. I may now assure you that your
     daughter, when she sees him, will not consult you about her choice,
     or will only do it in respect to the rules of decorum. He is truly
     a very fine young gentleman, the most agreeable in conversation and
     manners of any I ever knew, nor less remarkable for his
     intelligence and sweetness of temper. You are not to imagine by my
     beginning with his mental qualifications that he is defective in
     personal. It is agreed on all hands that he is handsome; his
     features are good, his eye is not only sprightly and expressive,
     but it is full of benignity. His attitude in sitting is, by
     connoisseurs, esteemed graceful, and he has a method of waving his
     hand that announces the future orator. He stands, however, rather
     awkwardly, and as his legs have not all the delicate slimness of
     his father's, it is feared he may never excel as much in dancing,
     which is probably the only accomplishment in which he will not be a
     model. If he has any fault in manners, he laughs too much. He has
     now passed his seventh month.

Happy by temperament, Hamilton was at this time happier in his
conditions--barring the Receivership--than any vague, wistful, crowded
dream had ever presaged. His wife was adorable and pretty, sprightly and
sympathetic, yet accomplished in every art of the Dutch housewife; and
although he was far too modest to boast, he was privately convinced that
his baby was the finest in the Confederacy. He had a charming little
home, and Troup, the genial, hearty, and solid, was a member of it. In
General and Mrs. Schuyler he had found genuine parents, who strove to
make him forget that he had ever been without a home. He had been forced
to refuse offers of assistance from his father-in-law again and again.
He would do nothing to violate his strong sense of personal
independence; he had half of the arrears of his pay, Troup his share of
the expenses of the little house. He knew that in a short time he should
be making an income. The cleverest of men, however, can be hoodwinked by
the subtle sex. The great Saratoga estate of the Schuylers furnished the
larder of the Hamiltons with many things which the young householder was
far too busy to compare with his slender purse.

He heard constantly from his friends in the army, and finally was
persuaded to sit for a portrait, to be the common property of six or
eight of them. Money was desperately tight, they could not afford a copy
apiece, but each was to possess it for two months at a time so long as
he lived; he who survived the others to dispose of it as he chose. For
Hamilton to sit still and look in one direction for half an hour was
nothing short of misery, even with Betsey, Troup, and the Baby to amuse
him; and only the head, face, stock, and front of the coat were
finished. But the artist managed to do himself justice with the massive
spirited head, the deep-set mischievous eyes, whose lightnings never
were far from the surface; the humour in the remarkable curves of the
mouth, the determination and suppressed energy of the whole face. It was
a living portrayal, and Betsey parted from it with tears. When she saw
it again her eyes were dim with many tears. The last of its owners to
survive fell far into poverty, and sold it to one of her sons. It is
to-day as fresh, as alive with impatient youth and genius, as when
Hamilton estimated portrait painters thieves of time.

Meanwhile a compliment was paid to him which upset his plans, and placed
him for a short time in the awkward position of hesitating between
private desires and public duty: he was elected by the New York
legislature, and almost unanimously, a delegate to Congress. Troup
brought him the news as he was walking on the broad street along the
river front, muttering his Blackstone, oblivious of his fellow-citizens.

"Go to Congress!" he exclaimed. "Who goes to that ramshackle body that
is able to keep out of it? Could not they find someone else to send to
distinguish himself by failure? I've my living to make. If a man in
these days manages to support his wife and child, there is nothing else
he can do which so entitles him to the esteem of his fellow-citizens."

"True," said Troup, soothingly; "there certainly is nothing in that body
of old women and lunatics, perpetually bickering with thirteen
sovereign, disobedient, and jealous States, to tempt the ambition of any
man; nor, ordinarily, to appeal to his sense of usefulness. But just at
present there are several questions before it with which it is thought
you can cope more successfully than any man living. So I think you ought
to go, and so does General Schuyler. I know all that you will sacrifice,
domestic as well as pecuniarily--but remember, you solemnly dedicated
yourself to the service of this country."

"I'm not likely to forget it, and I am willing to sacrifice anything if
I am convinced of my usefulness in a given direction, but I see no
chance of accomplishing aught in Congress, of doing this country any
service until it is a nation, not a sack of scratching cats."

Not only was great pressure brought to bear upon him, but he was not
long convincing himself that it was his duty to take his knowledge of
certain subjects vexing the Confederation, to the decrepit body which
was feebly striving to save the country from anarchy. He had given
little attention to the general affairs of the country during the past
six months, but an examination of them fired his zeal. He accepted the
appointment, and returned to his law books and his dispiriting struggle
with the taxes.

In the autumn Hamilton received the second of those heavy blows by which
he was reminded that in spite of his magnetism for success he was to
suffer like other mortals. Laurens was dead--killed in a petty skirmish
which he was so loath to miss that he had bolted to it from a sick-bed.
Hamilton mourned him passionately, and never ceased to regret him. He
was mercurial only among his lighter feelings. The few people he really
loved were a part of his daily thoughts, and could set his heartstrings
vibrating at any moment. Betsey consoled, diverted, and bewitched him,
but there were times when he would have exchanged her for Laurens. The
perfect friendship of two men is the deepest and highest sentiment of
which the finite mind is capable; women miss the best in life.

In October Hamilton resigned the Receivership, having brought an
honourable amount of order out of chaos and laid down the law for the
guidance of future officials. November came, and he set off for
Philadelphia philosophically, though by no means with a light heart. The
baby was too young to travel; he was obliged to send his little family
to General Schuyler's, with no hope of seeing them again for months, and
a receding prospect of offering them a home in New York. His
father-in-law, not unmindful that consolation was needed, drove him
two-thirds of the distance, thus saving him a long ride, or its
alternative, the heavy coach. In Philadelphia he found sufficient work
awaiting him to drive all personal matters out of his head.

It was during this year of hard work and little result that he renewed
an acquaintance with James Madison, Jr., afterward fourth President of
the United States, and Gouverneur Morris, one of the most brilliant and
disinterested young men in the country, now associated with Robert
Morris in the Department of Finance. With the last the acquaintance
ripened into a lifelong and intimate friendship; with Madison the
friendship was equally ardent and intimate while it lasted. Madison had
the brain of a statesman, energy and persistence in crises, immense
industry, facility of speech, a broad contempt for the pretensions and
mean bickerings of the States, and a fairly national outlook. As
Hamilton would have said, he "thought continentally." But he lacked
individuality. He was too patriotic, too sincere to act against his
principles, but his principles could be changed by a more powerful and
magnetic brain than his own, and the inherent weakness in him demanded a
stronger nature to cling to. It happened that he and Hamilton, when they
met again in Congress, thought alike on many subjects, and they worked
together in harmony from the first; nevertheless, he was soon in the
position of a double to that towering and energetic personality, and
worshipped it. In their letters the two young men sign themselves,
"yours affectionately," "yours with deep attachment," which between
men--I suppose--means something. So noticeable was Madison's devotion to
the most distinguished young man of the day, and a few years later so
absorbed was he into the huge personality of his early friend's
bitterest enemy, that John Randolph once exclaimed in wrath, "Madison
always was some great man's mistress--first Hamilton's, then
Jefferson's:" a remark which was safe in the days of our ancestors, when
life was all work and no satiety.

Gouverneur Morris had sacrificed home, inheritance, and ties in the
cause of the Revolution, most of his family remaining true to the crown.
His education was thorough, however, and subsequently he had nine years
of Europe, of which he left to posterity an entertaining record. Tall,
handsome, a wit, a beau, notable for energy in Congress, erratic,
caustic, cynical, but the warmest of friends, he was a pet of society, a
darling of women, and trusted by all men. He and Hamilton had much in
common, and to some degree he took Laurens's place; not entirely, for
Laurens's idealism gave him a pedestal in Hamilton's memory which no
other man but Washington ever approached; and Morris was brutal in his
cynicism, placing mankind but a degree higher than the beasts of the
forest. But heart and brain endeared him to Hamilton, and no man had a
loftier or more burning patriotism. As for himself, he loved and admired
Hamilton above all men. He was as strong in his nationalism, believing
Union under a powerful central government to be the only hope of the
States. Both he and Madison were leaders; but both, even then, were
willing to be led by Hamilton, who was several years their junior.

The three young enthusiasts made a striking trio of contrasts as they
sat one evening over their port and walnuts in a private room of a
coffee-house, where they had met to discuss the problems convulsing the
unfortunate country. Madison had the look of a student, a taciturn
intellectual visage. He spoke slowly, weightily, and with great
precision. Morris had, even then, an expression of cynicism and contempt
on his handsome bold face, and he swore magnificently whenever his new
wooden leg interfered with his comfort or dignity. Hamilton, with his
fair mobile face, powerful, penetrating, delicate, illuminated by eyes
full of fire and vivacity, but owing its chief attraction to a mouth as
sweet as it was firm and humorous, made the other men look almost heavy.
Madison was carelessly attired, the other two with all the picturesque
elegance of their time.

"A debt of $42,000,000," groaned Morris, "interest $2,400,000; Robert
Morris threatening to resign; delirious prospect of panic in
consequence; national spirit with which we began the war, a stinking
wick under the tin extinguisher of States' selfishness, stinginess, and
indifference--caused by the natural reversion of human nature to first
principles after the collapse of that enthusiasm which inflates mankind
into a bombastic pride of itself; Virginia pusillanimous, Rhode Island
an old beldam standing on the village pump and shrieking disapproval of
everything; Jay, Adams, and Franklin, after years of humiliating
mendicancy, their very hearts wrinkled in the service of the stupidest
country known to God or man, shoved by a Congress not fit to black their
boots under the thumb of the wiliest and most disingenuous diplomatist
in Europe--much France cares for our interests, provided we cut loose
from Britain; Newburg address and exciting prospect, in these monotonous
times, of civil war, while peace commission is sitting in London; just
demands of men who have fought, starving and naked, for a bare
subsistence after the army disbands, modest request for arrears of
pay,--on which to relieve the necessities of their families turned out
to grass for seven years,--pleasantly indorsed by the Congress, which
feels safe in indorsing anything, and rejected by the States, called
upon to foot the bill, as a painful instance of the greed and depravity
of human nature--there you are: no money, no credit, no government, no
friends,--for Europe is sick of us,--no patriotism; immediate prospects,
bankruptcy, civil war, thirteen separate meals for Europe. What do you
propose, Hamilton? I look to you as your Islanders flee to a stone house
in a hurricane. You are an alien, with no damned state roots to pull up,
your courage is unhuman, or un-American, and you are the one man of
genius in the country. Madison is heroic to a fault, a roaring
Berserker, but we must temper him, we must temper him; and meanwhile we
will both defer to the peculiar quality of your mettle."

Madison, who had not a grain of humour, replied gravely, his rich
southern brogue seeming to roll his words down from a height: "I have a
modest hope in the address I prepared for the citizens of Rhode Island,
more in Hamilton's really magnificent letter to the Governor. Nothing
can be more forcible--nay, beguiling--than his argument in that letter
in favour of a general government independent of state machinery, and
his elaborate appeal to that irritating little commonwealth to consent
to the levying of the impost by Congress, necessary to the raising of
the moneys. I fear I am not a hero, for I confess I tremble. I fear the
worst. But at all events I am determined to place on record that I left
no stone unturned to save this miserable country."

"You will go down to posterity as a great man, Madison, if you are never
given the chance to be one," replied the father of American humour and
coinage; "for it is not in words but in acts that we display the faith
that is not in us. Well, Hamilton?"

"I must confess," said Hamilton, "that Congress appears to me, as a
newcomer, rooted contentedly to its chairs, and determined to do
nothing, happy in the belief that Providence has the matter in hand and
but bides the right moment to make the whole world over. But I see no
cause to despair, else I should not have come to waste my time. I fear
that Rhode Island is too fossilized to listen to us, but I shall urge
that we change the principle of the Confederation and vote to make the
States contribute to the general treasury in an equal proportion to
their means, by a system of general taxation imposed under continental
authority. If the poorer States, irrespective of land and numbers, could
be relieved, and the wealthier taxed specifically on land and houses,
the whole regulated by continental legislation, I think that even Rhode
Island might be placated. It may be that this is not agreeable to the
spirit of the times, but I shall make the attempt--"

"Considering there is no spirit _in_ the times, we might as well expect
to inform its skull with genius by means of a lighted candle. You think
too well of human nature, my boy; expect nothing, that ye be not
disappointed, especially in the matter of revenue."

"I have no exalted opinion of human nature, but if I did not think more
hopefully of it than you do, I should yield up that enthusiasm without
which I can accomplish nothing. You have every gift, but you will end as
a dilettante because your ideal is always in the mud; and it is only
now and again that you think it worth while to pick it up and give it a

"Right, right," murmured Morris, good-naturedly. "Would that I had your
unquenchable belief in the worth while. Allied to your abilities it will
make the new world over and upset the wicked plans of the old. Analyst
and disbeliever in man's right to his exaggerated opinion of himself,
how do you keep enthusiasm abreast with knowledge of human kind? Tell
me, Hamilton, how do you do it?"

"I fear 'tis the essence of which I am made. My energies will have
outlet or tear me to pieces. When there is work to do, my nostrils
quiver like a war-horse's at the first roar and smoke--"

"Your modesty does you infinite honour; the truth is, you have the holy
fire of patriotism in an abnormal degree. I have it, but I still am
normal. I have made sacrifices and shall make more, but my ego curls its
lip. Yours never does. That is the difference between you and most of
us. Hundreds of us are doggedly determined to go through to the bitter
end, sacrifice money, youth and health; but you alone are happy. That is
why we love you and are glad to follow your lead. But, I repeat, how can
you labour with such undying enthusiasm for the good of human kind when
you know what they amount to?"

"Some are worth working for, that is one point; I don't share your
opinion of general abasement, for the facts warrant no such opinion. And
the battle of ideas, the fight for certain stirring and race-making
principles,--that is the greatest game that mortals can play. And to
play it, we must have mortals for puppets. To create a new government, a
new race, to found what may become the greatest nation on the
earth,--what more stupendous destiny? Even if one were forgotten, it
would be worth doing, so tremendous would be the exercise of the
faculties, so colossal the difficulties. I would have a few men do it
all; I have no faith in the uneducated. The little brain, half opened by
a village schoolmaster, is pestilential; but in the few with sufficient
power over the many,--from whom will be evolved more and more to rank
with the first few,--in those I have faith, and am proud to work with

"Good. I'd not have a monarchy, but I'd have the next thing to it, with
a muzzle on the rabble. Perhaps I, too, have faith in a few,--in
yourself and George Washington; and in Madison, our own Gibraltar. But
the pig-headed, selfish, swinish--well, go on with your present plans.
'Tis to hear those we met to-night, not to analyze each other. Tell us
all, that we may not only hope, but work with you."

"The army first. If retirement on half pay is impossible, then full pay
for, say six years,--and the arrears,--paid upon the disbanding of the
army. Washington, by the exercise of the greatest moral force, but one,
that has appeared in this world, has averted a civil war--I am persuaded
that horror is averted, and I assume that the country does not care
eternally to disgrace itself by letting its deliverers, who have
suffered all that an army can suffer, return to their ruined homes
without the few dollars necessary for another start in life. I have
resigned my claim to arrears of pay, that my argument may not be
weakened. Then a peace establishment. Fancy leaving our frontiers to the
mercy of state militia! I shall urge that the general government have
exclusive power over the sword, to establish certain corps of infantry,
artillery, cavalry, dragoons, and engineers, a general system of land
fortifications, establishment of arsenals and magazines, erection of
founderies and manufactories for arms, of ports and maritime
fortifications--with many details with which I will not bore you. I
shall urge the necessity of strengthening the Federal government through
the influence of officers deriving their appointment directly from
Congress--always, always, the necessity of strengthening the central
government, of centralizing power, and of putting the States where they
belong. It is federation or anarchy. Then--moderate funds permanently
pledged for the security of lenders. I have preached that since I have
dared to preach at all, and that is the only solution of our present
distress, for we'll never get another foreign loan--"

"We've accepted your wisdom, but we can't apply it," interposed Morris.
"Our only hope lies in your national government--but go on."

"A moment," said Madison. "This, in regard to the peace establishment:
Do we apply a war congress to a state of peace, I fear we shall too
clearly define its limits. The States may refuse obedience, and then the
poor invalided body will fall into greater disrepute than ever."

"I have thought of that," replied Hamilton, "and if the worst comes to
the worst, I have a radical plan to propose,--that Congress publish
frankly its imperfections to the country--imperfections which make it
impossible to conduct the public affairs with honour to itself or
advantage to the United States; that it ask the States to appoint a
convention, with full powers to revise the Confederation, and to adopt
and propose all necessary alterations--all to be approved or rejected,
in the last instance, by the legislatures of the several States. That
would be the first step toward a national government. With that, all
things would be possible,--the payment of our foreign loan, of our army,
duties on foreign goods, which is a source of revenue to which they are
incredibly blind; the establishment of a firm government, under which
all will prosper that are willing to work, of a National Bank, of a
peace army--"

"Of Utopia!" exclaimed Morris. "Hamilton, you are the least visionary
man in this country, but you are God knows how many years ahead of your
times. If we are ever on two legs again, you will put us there; but your
golden locks will thin in the process, and that rosy boyish face we love
will be lined with the seams of the true statesman. Only you could
contemplate imbuing these fossilized and commonplace intellects,
composing our Congress of the Confederation--mark the ring of it!--with
a belief in its own impotency and worthlessness. You are not mortal. I
always said it. When Duane gave me your letter to read, I remarked: 'He
withdrew to heaven, and wrote that letter on the knee of the Almighty;
never on earth could he have found the courage and the optimism.' No,
Hamilton, I would embrace you, did my wooden leg permit me to escape
your wrath, but I can give you no encouragement. You will fail
here--gloriously, but you will fail. Mark my words, the army will go
home cursing, and scratch the ground to feed its women. The States will
have no peace establishment to threaten their sovereign rights, we will
pay nobody, and become more and more poverty-stricken and contemptible
in our own eyes, and in the eyes of Europe; we will do nothing that is
wise and everything that is foolish--"

"And then, when the country is sick unto death," interrupted Hamilton,
"it will awake to the wisdom of the drastic remedy and cohere into a

"Query," said Madison, "would it not be patriotic to push things from
bad to worse as quickly as possible? It might be a case of justifiable

"And it might lead to anarchy and the jaws of Europe," said Hamilton.
"It is never safe to go beyond a certain point in the management of
human affairs. What turn the passions of the people may take can never
be foretold, nor that element of the unknown, which is always under the
invisible cap and close on one's heels. God knows I have not much
patience in my nature, and I do not believe that most of my schemes are
so far in advance of even this country's development; but certain
lessons must be instilled by slow persistence. I have no faith in
rushing people at the point of the bayonet in times of peace."

"I think you are right there," said Morris. "But mark my words, you'll
propagate ideas here, and the result in time will be the birth of a
nation--no doubt of that; but you must rest content to live on hope for
the present. I was a fettered limb in this body too long. I know its

He knew whereof he spoke. Hamilton won little but additional reputation,
much admiration, half resentful, and many enemies. The army went home
unpaid; the peace establishment consisted of eighty men; little or
nothing was done to relieve the national debt or to carry on the
business of government. Even his proposition to admit the public to the
galleries of Congress, in the hope of interesting it in governmental
affairs, only drew upon him the sneer that he could go out on the
balcony and make his speeches if he feared his eloquence was wasted. He
was accused of writing the Newburg address inciting the officers to
civil war, because it was particularly well written, and of hurrying
Congress to Trenton, when threatened by a mutinous regiment. But he
worked on undaunted, leaving his indelible mark; for he taught the
States that their future prosperity and happiness lay in giving up to
the Union some part of the imposts that might be levied on foreign
commodities, and incidentally the idea of a double government; he
proposed a definite system of funding the debts on continental
securities, which gradually rooted in the common sense of the American
people, and he inveighed with a bitter incisiveness, which was tempered
by neither humour nor gaiety, against the traitorous faction in the pay
of France. He dissuaded Robert Morris from resigning, and introduced a
resolution in eulogy of Washington's management of his officers in the
most critical hour of the Union's history. But his immediate
accomplishment was small and discouraging, although his foresight may
have anticipated what George Ticknor Curtis wrote many years later:--

     The ideas of a statesman like Hamilton, earnestly bent on the
     discovery and inculcation of truth, do not pass away. Wiser than
     those by whom he was surrounded, with a deeper knowledge of the
     science of government than most of them, and constantly enunciating
     principles which extended far beyond the temporizing policy of the
     hour, the smiles of his opponents only prove to posterity how far
     he was in advance of them.

The following extract from a letter of James M'Henry, Lafayette's former
aide, and a member of the Congress, is interesting as a commentary on
the difficulties of our hero's position while a member of that body.

     DEAR HAMILTON: The homilies you delivered in Congress are still
     remembered with pleasure. The impressions they made are in favour
     of your integrity; and no one but believes you a man of honour and
     of republican principles. Were you ten years older and twenty
     thousand pounds richer, there is no doubt but that you might obtain
     the suffrages of Congress for the highest office in their gift.
     You are supposed to possess various knowledge, useful, substantial,
     and ornamental. Your very grave and your cautious, your men who
     measure others by the standard of their own creeping politics,
     think you sometimes intemperate, but seldom visionary: and that
     were you to pursue your object with as much cold perseverance as
     you do with ardour and argument, you would become irresistible. In
     a word, if you could submit to spend a whole life in dissecting a
     fly you would be, in their opinion, one of the greatest men in the
     world. Bold designs; measures calculated for their rapid execution;
     a wisdom that would convince from its own weight; a project that
     would surprise the people into greater happiness, without giving
     them an opportunity to view it and reject it, are not adapted to a
     council composed of discordant elements, or a people who have
     thirteen heads, each of which pay superstitious adorations to
     inferior divinities.

     Adieu, my dear friend, and in the days of your happiness drop a
     line to your


At the end of 1783 Hamilton was convinced that he was of no further
immediate use to the country, and refused a reelection to the Congress,
despite entreaty and expostulation, returning to the happiness of his
domestic life and to his neglected law-books. The British having
evacuated New York, he moved his family there and entered immediately
upon the practice of his profession.





It was the autumn of 1786. New York had risen from her charred and
battered ruins. There were cows on her meadows, a lake with wooded
shores as merely traditional, groves, gardens, orchards, fields, and
swamps; but her business houses and public buildings were ambitious once
more, her spires more lofty and enduring, her new dwelling-houses,
whether somewhat crowded in Wall Street and Broadway, or on the terraces
of less busy streets, or along the river fronts and facing a wild and
lovely prospect, were square, substantial, and usually very large. And
every street was an avenue of ancient trees. Mrs. John Jay, with her
experience of foreign courts, her great beauty, and the prestige of her
distinguished husband, was the leader of society, holding weekly
receptions, and the first to receive the many distinguished strangers.
Although society was not quite as gay as it became three years later,
under a more settled government and hopeful outlook, still there was
quiet entertaining by the Hamiltons, who lived at 58 Wall Street, the
Duers, Watts, Livingstons, Clintons, Duanes, Jays, Roosevelts, Van
Cortlandts, and other representatives of old New York families, now
returned to their own. Congress was come to New York and established in
the City Hall in Wall Street. It had given the final impetus to the
city, struggling under the burden of ruins and debt left by the British;
and society sauntered forth every afternoon in all the glory of velvet
and ruffles, three-cornered hats recklessly laced, brocades, hoopskirts,
and Rohan hats, to promenade past the building where the moribund body
was holding its last sessions. The drive was down the Broadway into the
shades of the Battery, with the magnificent prospect of bay and wooded
shores beyond. Politics, always epidemic among men and women alike, had
recently been animated by Hamilton's coup at Annapolis, and the prospect
of a general convention of the States to consider the reorganization of
a government which had reduced the Confederation to a condition
fearfully close to anarchy, the country to ruin, and brought upon the
thirteen sovereign independent impotent and warring States the contempt
of Europe and the threat of its greed.

A group of men, standing on a corner of Wall Street and the Broadway,
were laughing heartily: a watch was dragging off to jail two citizens
who had fallen upon each other with the venom of political antithesis;
the one, a Nationalist, having called Heaven to witness that Hamilton
was a demi-god, begotten to save the wretched country, the other
vociferating that Hamilton was the devil who would trick the country
into a monarchy, create a vast standing army, which would proclaim him
king and stand upon the heads of a people that had fought and died for
freedom, while the tyrant exercised his abominable functions.

The men in the group were Governor Clinton, Hamilton's bitterest
opponent, but sufficiently amused at the incident; William Livingston,
Governor of New Jersey, now with but a few hairs on the top of his head
and a few at the base, his nose more penetrating, his eye more
disapproving, than ever; James Duane, Mayor of New York; John Jay, the
most faultless character in the Confederation, honoured and unloved, his
cold eyes ever burning with an exalted fire; and John Marshall of
Virginia, munching an apple, his attire in shabby contrast to the
fashionable New Yorkers, the black mane on his splendid head unpowdered
and tossing in the ocean breeze.

"I like your Hamilton," he announced, "and I've come to the conclusion
that I think with him on all matters. He's done more to educate the
people up to a rational form of government during the last seven years
than all the rest of us put together. He's shone upon them like a fixed
star. Other comets have come and gone, whirling them forward to
destruction, but they have always been forced to turn and look at him
again and again, and he has always shone in the same place."

"Sir," exclaimed Clinton, who was flushed with rage, "are you aware that
I am present, and that I entirely disapprove of Mr. Hamilton's attempt
to reduce the States to a condition of ignominious subserviency to an
ambitious and tyrannical central power?"

"I had heard of you, sir," replied Marshall, meekly, "and I am glad to
have the opportunity to ask you what _your_ remedy is for the existing
state of things? You will admit that there must be a remedy, and
quickly. If not a common government with a Constitution empowering it to
regulate trade, imposts, reduce the debt, enter into treaties with
foreign powers which will not be sneered at, administer upon a thousand
details which I will not enumerate, and raise the country from its
slough of contempt, then what? As the personage who has taken the most
decided stand against the enlightened and patriotic efforts of Mr.
Hamilton, I appeal to you for a counter suggestion as magnificent as
his. I am prepared, sir, to listen with all humility."

Clinton, whose selfish fear of his own downfall with that of State
supremacy was so well known that a smile wrinkled across the polite
group of gentlemen surrounding him, deepened his colour to purple under
this assault, and stammered: "Sir, have I not myself proposed an
enlargement of the powers of Congress, in order to counteract the
damnable policy of Britain? Did not your Hamilton harangue that crowd I
sanctioned till he got nearly all he asked for?"

"But he knew better than to ask for too much, in the conditions,"
replied Marshall, suavely. "May I suggest that you have not answered my
humble and earnest questions?"

"I answer no questions that I hold to be impertinent and unimportant!"
said Clinton, pompously, and with a dignified attempt to recover his
poise. He swept his hat from his head; the New Yorkers were as
punctilious; Marshall lifted his battered lid from the wild mass
beneath, and the popular Governor sauntered down the street, saluted
deferentially by Nationalists and followers alike. When he had occasion
to sweep his gorgeous hat to his knees, the ladies courtesied to the
ground, their draperies taking up the entire pavement, and His
Excellency was obliged to encounter the carriages in the street.

"If Clinton were sure of figuring as powerfully in a national government
as he does in the state of New York, he would withdraw his opposition,"
said Livingston, contemptuously. "He has been Governor for nine years.
New York is his throne. He is a king among the common people, who will
elect him indefinitely. Were it not for Hamilton, he would be New York,
and the awful possibilities lying hidden in the kernel of change haunt
his dreams at night. You embarrassed him in a manner that rejoiced my
heart, Mr. Marshall. I beg you will do me the honour to dine with me
to-night. I beg to assure you that your fame is as known to me as were I
a Virginian."

"I'll accept the invitation with pleasure," replied Marshall, whose
manners were all that his attire was not. "I shall be glad to talk with
you on many subjects. To-morrow I shall pay my respects to Mr. Hamilton.
His has been a trying but not a thankless task. He has addressed himself
to the right class of men all over the country, winning them to his
sound and enlightened views, giving them courage, consolidating them
against the self-interested advocates of State sovereignty. That he has
so often neglected a legal practice which must bring him a large income,
as well as sufficient personal glory, out of a sincere pity for and
patriotic interest in this afflicted country, gives New York deep cause
for congratulation that she was in such close communication with that
Island of his youth. I wish that fate had steered him to Virginia."

"Surely you have enough as it is," said Duane, laughing: "Washington,
yourself, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, Madison, Randolph. Spare us
Hamilton. We shall need him badly enough. The Clinton faction is very
strong. That the Hamilton embraces the best spirits of the community
means that it is in the minority, and needs the unremitting exercise of
his genius to counteract the disadvantage in numbers."

"I think that what I admire most in Hamilton," remarked a newcomer, a
small dark man of vivid personality, "are his methods of manipulation.
He picks out his own men, Duer, Troup, Malcolm, has them sent to the
legislature, where they blindly and indefatigably obey his behest and
gain the consent of that body to the convention at Annapolis, then see
that he is elected as principal delegate. He goes to Annapolis
ostensibly to attend a commercial convention: while its insufficient
numbers are drowsing, he springs upon them an eloquent proposal for a
national convention for reforming the Union, and forces it through
before they know what they are about. Certainly Mr. Hamilton is a man of

"Do I understand. Mr. Burr," said Jay, from his glacial height, "that
you are impugning the purity of Mr. Hamilton's motives?"

"No, sir," replied Burr, whom an archangel could not have rebuked. "In
the present condition of things all methods are justifiable. Hamilton is
great but adaptable. I respect him for that quality above all others,
for he is quite the most imperious character in America, and his natural
instinct is to come out and say, 'You idiots, fall into line behind me
and stop twaddling. I will do your thinking; be kind enough not to delay
me further.' On the other hand, he is forced to be diplomatic, to
persuade where he would command, to move slowly instead of charging at
the point of the bayonet. So, although I have no sympathy with his
pronounced monarchical inclinations, I respect his acquired methods of
getting what he wants."

"What do you mean by pronounced monarchical inclinations?" snorted
Governor Livingston, who could not endure Burr.

Burr gave his peculiar sardonic laugh. "Will you deny it, sir?"

"Deny it? I certainly am in Mr. Hamilton's confidence to no such extent,
and I challenge you to indicate one sentence in his published writings
which points to such a conclusion."

"Ah, he is too clever for that; but his very walk, his whole personality
expresses it, to say nothing of the fact that he never thinks of denying
his admiration of the British Constitution. And did he not defend the
Tories after the evacuation, when no other lawyer would touch them? I
admired his courage, but it was sufficient evidence of the catholicity
of his sentiments."

"Mr. Hamilton defended the abstract principle of right against wrong in
defending the wretched Tories against the persecutions of an
unmagnanimous public sentiment," said Jay, witheringly. "I should advise
you, young gentleman, to become a disciple of Mr. Hamilton. I can
recommend no course which would prove so beneficial." And he turned on
his heel.

He had hit Burr. The jealousy born in Albany had thriven with much
sustenance since. Hamilton was by far the most prominent figure at the
New York bar, and was hastening to its leadership. Burr was conspicuous
for legal ability, but never would be first while Hamilton was in the
race. Moreover, although Hamilton had not then reached that dizzy height
from which a few years later he looked down upon a gaping world, he was
the leader of a growing and important party, intelligently followed and
worshipped by the most eminent men in the Confederation, many of them
old enough to be his father; and he was the theme of every drawing-room,
of every coffee-house group and conclave. His constant pamphlets on the
subject nearest to all men's hearts, his eloquent speeches on the same
theme upon every possible occasion, and the extraordinary brilliance of
his legal victories, gave people no time to think of other men. When he
entered a drawing-room general conversation ceased, and the company
revolved about him so long as he remained. When he spoke, all the world
went to hear. For an ambitious young man to be told to attach himself to
the train of this conquering hero was more than poor Burr could stand,
and he replied angrily:--

"I have the privilege of being true to my own convictions, I suppose.
They are not Mr. Hamilton's and never will be. I do not impugn the
purity of his motives, but I have no desire to see George Washington
king, nor Hamilton, neither. I wish you good day, sirs," and he strode
up Broadway to the Fields with dignity in every inch of him.

"This constant talk of Hamilton's monarchical principles makes my gorge
rise," said Livingston. "Did he not fight as hard as he was permitted,
to drive monarchy out of the country? Was he not the first to sound the
call to arms?"

"Hamilton's exact attitude on that question is not clearly understood,"
replied Duane, soothingly, for the heat of Livingston's republicanism
had never abated. "I fancy it is something like this: So far no
constitution has worked so well as the British. Montesquieu knew whereof
he praised. The number of men in this country equal to the great problem
of self-government are in a pitiful minority. The anarchic conditions of
the States, the disgrace which they have brought upon us, their
inefficiency to cope with any problem, the contemptible depths of human
nature which they have revealed to the thinking members of the
community--all these causes inspire Hamilton, incomparably the greatest
brain in the country, with a dread of leaving any power whatever in
their hands. He believes firmly in the few of tried brain and
patriotism. I very much doubt if he has considered the subject of actual
monarchy for a moment, for he is no dreamer, and he knows that even his
followers have been Republicans too long. But that he will fight for the
strongest sort of national government, with the least possible power
vested in the States--oh, no doubt of that."

"Our people are hopeless, I fear," said Livingston, with a sigh. "This
period of independency seems to have demoralized them when it should
have brought out their best elements. Well, Mr. Marshall, what say you?
You have been modestly silent, and we have been rudely voluble when so
distinguished a guest should have had all the floor."

"I have been deeply entertained," replied Marshall, with a grin. "My
visit to New York is by no means wasted. I envy Mr. Hamilton; but let
him look out for Mr. Burr. There are just five feet seven inches of
jealous hate in that well-balanced exterior, and its methods would be
sinuous, I fancy, but no less deadly. But Hamilton has had many escapes.
What was that atrocious story I heard of a duelling cabal? When the
rolling stone of gossip reaches Virginia from New York, it has gathered
more moss than you would think."

"It would be difficult to exaggerate that story," snorted Livingston."
Hamilton defended his course in regard to the Tories in two pamphlets,
signed 'Phocion.' They were answered by a Mr. Ledyard, who signed
himself 'Mentor,' and was a conspicuous advocate of the damnable spirit
of revenge possessing this country. It is a bold man indeed who enters
into a conflict of the pen with Hamilton, and 'Mentor' was left without
a leg to stand on. Forthwith, a club of Ledyard's friends and
sympathizers, enraged by defeat, and fearing the growing ascendency of
Hamilton over men's minds, deliberately agreed to challenge him in turn
until he was silenced forever. This atrocious project would undoubtedly
have been carried out, had not Ledyard himself repudiated it with
horror. Can you show me a greater instance of the depravity of human
nature, sir?"

"We are in a ferment of bitter passions," said Marshall, sadly, "and I
fear they will be worse before they are better. I only hope that
Hamilton will not be swept into their current, for upon his keeping his
balance depends the future greatness of this country. I am at your
service, sir, for I will confess my two legs are tired."


As the three men turned into Broadway they saluted a man who was
entering Wall Street. It was Hamilton, hastening home to his family
after the day's work. He had lost his boyish slenderness; his figure had
broadened and filled out sufficiently to add to his presence while
destroying nothing of its symmetry or agile grace, and it was dressed
with the same care. His face was as gay and animated as ever, responded
with the old mobility to every passing thought, but its lines and
contours showed the hard work and severe thought of the last four years.
When he was taking a brief holiday with his friends, or tumbling about
the floor with his little brood, he felt as much a boy as ever, but no
one appreciated more fully than he the terrible responsibility of his
position in the Confederation. His abilities, combined with his
patriotism, had forced him to the head of the Nationalist Party, for
whose existence he was in greatest measure responsible; and he hardly
dared to think of his personal ambitions, nor could he hesitate to
neglect his lucrative practice whenever the crying needs of the country
demanded it. He had also given much time to the creating and
organization of the Bank of New York. But Burr was not far wrong when he
accused him of impatience. His bearing was more imperious, his eye
flashed more intolerantly, than ever. To impute to him monarchical
ambitions was but the fling of a smarting jealousy, but it is quite true
that he felt he knew what was best for the country, and would have liked
to regulate its affairs without further hindrance.

His house, beyond the dip of Wall Street and within sight of the bay,
was of red brick, and as unbeautiful architecturally as other New York
houses which had risen at random from the ruins. But within, it was very
charming. The long drawing-room was furnished with mahogany, and
rose-coloured brocade, with spindle-legged tables and many bibelots sent
by Angelica Church, now living in London. The library was filling with
valuable books, and the panelled whiteness of the dining room glittered
with silver and glass, which in quantity or value was not exceeded in
the home of any young couple in America; the world had outdone itself at
the most interesting wedding of the Revolution. Betsey's sitting room
was behind the drawing-room, and there Hamilton found her counting the
moments until his return. She had lost nothing of her slimness, and
except on dress occasions wore her mass of soft black hair twisted in a
loose knot and unpowdered. She looked younger and prettier than with
powder or wig, and Hamilton begged her to defy the fashion; but yielding
in all else, on this point she was inflexible. "I am wiser than you in
just a few things," she would say, playfully, for she firmly believed
him infallible; "my position would suffer, were I thought eccentric. You
cannot stand in rank without a uniform. I shall not yield to Sarah Jay
nor even Kitty Duer. I am a little Republican, sir, and know my rights.
And I know how to keep them."

To-day, after her usual prolonged and unmitigated greeting, she
remarked: "Speaking of eccentric people, I met to-day, at Lady
Sterling's, that curious person, Mrs. Croix, or Miss Capet, as some will
call her. Her hair was built up quite a foot and unpowdered. On top of
it was an immense black hat with plumes, and her velvet gown was at
least three yards on the floor. She certainly is the handsomest creature
in town, but, considering all the gossip, I think it odd Lady Sterling
should take her up, and I believe that Kitty is quite annoyed. But Lady
Sterling is so good-natured, and I am told that Dr. Franklin went
personally and asked her to give this lady countenance. He calls her his
Fairy Queen, and to-day saluted her on the lips before all of us. Poor
dear Dr. Franklin is by now quite in the class with Caesar's wife, but
still I think his conduct rather remarkable."

"Who is this woman?" asked Hamilton, indifferently.

"Well!" exclaimed his wife, with a certain satisfaction, "you _are
busy_. She has been the talk of the town for quite three months,
although she never went _anywhere_ before to-day."

"I hear all my gossip from you," said Hamilton, smiling from the hearth
rug, "and considering the labours of the past three months--but tell me
about her. I believe I love you best when gossiping. Your effort to be
caustic is the sweetest thing in the world."

She threw a ball of wool at him, which he caught and pulled apart, then
showered on her head. It was yellow wool, and vastly becoming on her
black hair. "You must have a yellow hat at once, with plumes," he said,
"but go on."

"You shall wind that this evening, sir. Well, she came here about three
months ago with Captain Croix of the British army, and rumour hath it
that he left a wife in England, and that this lady's right to the royal
name of Capet is still unchallenged. The story goes that she was born
about eighteen years ago, on a French frigate bound for the West Indies,
that her mother died, and that, there being no one else of that royal
name on board, the Captain adopted her; but that a baby and a ship being
more than he could manage, he presented the baby to a humble friend at
Newport, by the name of Thompson, who brought her up virtuously, but
without eradicating the spirit of the age, and one fine day she
disappeared with Colonel Croix, and after a honeymoon which may have
been spent in the neighbourhood of any church between here and Rhode
Island, or of none, they arrived in New York, and took the finest
lodgings in town. I suppose Dr. Franklin was a friend of her humble
guardian, he is so philanthropic, and that he is willing to take my
lady's word that all is well--and perhaps it is. I feel myself quite
vicious in repeating the vaguest sort of gossip--active, though. Who
knows, if she had worn a wig, or an inch of powder, and employed the
accepted architect for her tower, she would have passed without
question? Another pillar for my argument, sir."

"As it is, you are even willing to believe that she is a daughter of the
house of France," said Hamilton, with a hearty laugh. "Would that the
world were as easily persuaded of what is good for it as of what tickles
its pettiness. Shall you ask this daughter of the Capets to the house?"

"I have not made up my mind," said Mrs. Hamilton, demurely.

The two older children, Philip and Angelica, came tumbling into the
room, and Hamilton romped with them for a half-hour, then flung them
upon their mother, and watched them from the hearth rug. Betsey was
lovely with her children, who were beautiful little creatures, and
Hamilton was always arranging them in groups. The boy and girl pulled
down her hair with the yellow wool, until all her diminutive figure and
all her face, but its roguish black eyes, were extinguished; and
Hamilton forgot the country.

Elizabeth Schuyler was a cleverer woman than her meed of credit has led
the world to believe. She understood Hamilton very well even then,
although, as his faults but added to his fascination in the eyes of
those that loved him, the knowledge did not detract from her happiness.
In many ways she made herself necessary to him; at that time she even
kept his papers in order. He talked to her freely on every subject that
interested him, from human nature to finance, taxes, and the law, and
she never permitted a yawn to threaten. He read aloud to her every line
he wrote, and while she would not have presumed to suggest, her sympathy
was one of his imperative needs. When his erratic fancy flashed him into
seductive meshes, she pulled a string and back he came. Perhaps this is
the reason why no specific account of his numerous alleged amours have
come down to us. He is vaguely accused of being the Lothario of his
time, irresistible and indefatigable; but of all famous men whose names
are enlivened with anecdotes of gallantry in the vast bulk of the
world's unwritten history, he alone is the hero of much mysterious
affirmation but of no particular romance. The Reynolds affair is open
history and not a case in point. It is probable that, owing to inherent
fickleness and Betsey's gentle manipulation, his affairs rarely lasted
long enough to attract attention. It is one of the accidents of life
that the world barely knew of his acquaintance with Eliza Croix, she who
has come down to us as Madame Jumel; and such a thing could not happen
twice. But whether or not he possessed in all their perfection the
proclivities of so great and impetuous and passionate a genius, it is
certain that he loved his wife devotedly, and above all other women, so
long as his being held together. His home was always his Mecca, and he
left it only when public duty compelled his presence in exile.


In February he went to the Assembly to fight Clinton's opposition to the
harassing need of conferring a permanent revenue upon Congress. He had
already written a memorial, distributed over the State, setting forth
the dangerous position of the country. But Clinton was lord of the
masses, and their representatives in the Legislature had been trained to
think as he thought. They honoured him because he had made New York the
greatest State in the Union, not yet realizing that he had brought her
into disrepute at home and abroad, and that his selfish policy was now
hastening her to her ruin. To increase the power of Congress was to
encourage the spirit of Nationalism, and that meant the sure decline of
the States and of himself. The fight was hot and bitter. Clinton won;
but the thinking men present took Hamilton's words home and pondered
upon them, and in time they bore fruit.

After many delays the Convention was summoned to meet at Philadelphia on
the 14th of May. History calls it the Constitutional Convention, but its
promoters were careful to give the States-right people no such guide to
contravention. The violent oppositionists of all change slumbered
peacefully, while the representatives of the more enlightened were
appointed to the Convention under moderately worded and somewhat vague
resolutions; and some of them went as vaguely. Congress, after a
characteristic and selfish hesitation, and a thorough fright induced by
the Massachusetts rebellion, was finally persuaded to give her official
sanction to the proposed Convention. Hamilton secured his appointment as
a delegate,--after a hard fight to have New York represented at
all,--and found himself saddled with two Clintonians, Robert Yates and
John Lansing, Jr. But the first great step for which he had struggled,
since his Morristown letter to the Financier of the Revolution seven
years before, was assured at last.

Shortly before the Convention opened, Gouverneur Morris and James
Madison, Jr. met by appointment at Hamilton's house to discuss the plan
of campaign and make sure of their leader's wishes. General Schuyler
and Robert Troup were also present.

Morris was a delegate from Pennsylvania, but was about to return to New
York, having bought the family estate at Morrisania from his brother,
Staats Long Morris, and was involved in business enterprises which
resulted in a large fortune. He awaited the settlement of the country's
affairs before sailing for Europe in his private interests. Troup, now a
successful lawyer at the New York bar, was an able politician and
devoted to Hamilton's interests. Philip Schuyler was entirely in his
son-in-law's confidence, working for and with him always, occupying the
double position of adviser and follower. Madison, who had forced the
Convention at Annapolis, had had his breath taken away by Hamilton's
coup, but now was delighted that he had been the instrument which made
it possible. He had composed his somewhat halting mind to the
determination to concentrate his energies upon wringing from the
Convention a national scheme of government after Hamilton's model,
provided that model were not too extreme: he was no monarchist, and knew
the people very thoroughly. But he was deeply anxious to have Hamilton's
views and plans for his guidance, even if modification were necessary.
He knew Hamilton's complete mastery of the science of government, and
that his broad structure was bound to be right, no matter what its

The company assembled in the library, whose open windows overhung a
garden full of lilacs, dogwood, and maples. There was a long table in
the room, about which the guests mechanically seated themselves, so
accustomed were they to the council table. Hamilton had greeted them in
the hall, and sent them on to the library, while he went to fetch some
papers his wife had promised to copy for him.

"So this is the room in which the government of the United States is to
be born," said Troup, glancing about at the familiar books and at the
desk stuffed with papers. "I shall always smell lilacs in the new

"If we get one," observed Morris. "'Conceive' would be a better word
than 'born,' Twelve states,--for my part I am glad the refusal of Rhode
Island to send delegates makes one less,--each wanting its own way, and
the North inevitably pitted against the South: I confess that
'still-born' strikes me as a better word than any."

"We'll have a Constitution," said Madison, doggedly, "I've made up my
mind to that. There are a sufficient number of able and public-spirited
men on their way to Philadelphia to agree upon a wise scheme of
government and force it through--besides Hamilton and ourselves there
are Washington, Governor Randolph, William Livingston, Rufus King, Roger
Sherman, Dr. Franklin, James Wilson, George Wythe, the Pinckneys, Hugh
Williamson--to mention but a few."

"They are not a bad lot," admitted Morris, "if they had all seen more of
the world and less of their native or adopted State--all this State
patriotism makes me sick. Half were not born in the State they
vociferate about, are not certain of ending their days in it, nor of
which their children may adopt as intemperately."

"Travel is not the only cure for provincialism," said General Schuyler.
"Dr. Franklin, I happen to know, is bent upon a form of government
little firmer than the one now existing; and Hamilton, whose travels are
limited to campaigning in the different States, has a comprehensive
grasp of European political machinery, and the breadth of vision such
knowledge involves, which could gain nothing by personal contact."

"Dr. Franklin was too long a mendicant at foreign courts not to be
besottedly in love with their antithesis, and Hamilton has a brain power
and an intellectual grasp which quite remove him from the odiums of
comparison," said Morris. "I think myself he is fortunate in never
having visited Europe, deeply as he may regret it; for with his faculty
of divination he goes straight for what is best only--or most essential.
Had he lived there, the details and disappointments might have blocked
his vision and upset the fine balance of his mind. There she is!"

He was at the window as quickly as he could have flung a book to the
lilacs, despite his wooden leg; and he was followed by Troup and
General Schuyler, demanding "Who?"

"Mrs. Croix--there. Did anything so lovely ever dawn upon a distracted
American's vision? 'Tis said she is an unregistered daughter of the
house of Capet, and I vow she looks every inch a princess. I stared at
her so long last night in Vauxhall that she was embarrassed; and I never
saw such poise, such royal command of homage. How has she developed it
at the age of eighteen? I half believe this tale of royal birth;
although there are those who assert that she is nothing less than the
daughter of our highest in honour."

"'Tis said that she had an opportunity to acquire her aplomb in the
village of Rutland, Massachusetts, where for some years she enlivened
the exile and soothed the domestic yearnings of many British officers,"
said Troup. "One told me that he would vow she was none other than the
famous vagrant 'Betsey.'"

"But I am told that she comes of a respectable Rhode Island family named
Bowen," observed General Schuyler, who was not romantic. "That she was
wayward and ran off with Colonel Croix, of whose other wife there is no
proof, but that none of these fancy stories are true."

"Then wherein lies her claim to the name of Capet?" demanded Morris.
"'Twould be nothing remarkable were she a daughter of Louis V., and I'm
told she signs her name Eliza Capet Croix."

"I don't know," said Schuyler, meekly. "'Tis easy enough to assume a
name, if you have it not. I am told that Lady Sterling is assured of her
respectability. She certainly shines upon us like a star at this moment.
I did not know that women had such hair."

"Is this what we came here to discuss?" asked a voice, dropped to the
register of profound contempt. They turned about with a laugh and faced
Madison's ascetic countenance, pale with disgust. "We have the most
important work to do for which men ever met together, and we stand at
the window and talk scandal about a silly woman and her hair."

"You did not, my dear James," said Morris, lightly; "and thereby you
have missed the truly divine stimulus for the day's work. Don't you
realize, my friend, that no matter how hard a man may labour, some woman
is always in the background of his mind? She is the one reward of

"I know nothing of the sort," replied Madison, contemptuously. "I can
flatter myself that I at least am independent of what appears to men
like you to be the only motive for living."

"Right, my boy, but great as you are, you don't know what you might have

The door opened, and Hamilton entered the room, his hands full of
papers, his face as gay and eager as if he were about to read to his
audience a poem or a lively tale. Perhaps one secret of his ascendency
over those who knew him best was that he never appeared to take himself
seriously, even when his whole being radiated power and imperious
determination. When he descended to the depths of seriousness and his
individuality was most overwhelming, his unsleeping sense of humour
saved him from a hint of the demagogue.

"While my wife was finishing, I heard you gossiping from the window
above," he said, "but I had by far the best view. The lilac bushes--"

"Do you know her?" asked Morris, eagerly.

"Alas, I do not. It is incalculable months since I have had time to look
so long at a woman. What is the matter, Madison?"

"I am nauseated. I had thought that _you_--"

Here even General Schuyler laughed, and Hamilton hurriedly arranged his

He sat down when he began to talk, but was quickly on his feet and
shaking his papers over the table. To him, also, the council table was
the most familiar article of furniture in his world, but he was usually
addressing those it stood for, and he was too ardent a speaker, even
when without the incentive of debate, to keep to his chair.

"I know what you are wondering," he said. "No, it is not the British
Constitution. What I have done so distempered as to impress people with
the belief that I am blind to the spirit of this country, I am at a loss
to conjecture. The British Constitution is the best form which the world
has yet produced; in the words of Necker, it is the only government
'which unites public strength with individual security,' Nevertheless,
no one is more fully convinced than I that none but a republican
government can be attempted in this country, or would be adapted to our
situation. Therefore, I propose to look to the British Constitution for
nothing but those elements of stability and permanency which a
republican system requires, and which may be incorporated into it
without changing its characteristic principles. There never has been,
and there never will be, anything in my acts or principles inconsistent
with the spirit of republican liberty. Whatever my private
predilections, it would be impossible for me, understanding the people
of this country as I do, to fail to recognize the authority of that
people as the source of all political power. Therefore you will find
many departures from the British Constitution in the rough draft I am
about to read. I have neither the patience nor the temper to dogmatize
upon abstract theories of liberty, and our success will lie in adapting
to our particular needs such principles of government as have been tried
and not found wanting, our failure in visionary experiments. The best
and wisest effort we can make will be a sufficient experiment, for whose
result we must all tremble.

"It is going to be difficult to persuade this Convention to unite upon
any constitution very much stronger than the one Dr. Franklin will
propose, or to accomplish its ratification afterward. Nevertheless, I
have prepared a draft of the strongest constitution short of monarchy
which it is possible to conceive, and which I shall propose to the
Convention for reasons I will explain after I have read it to you. Do
you care to listen?"

"Hurry up!" exclaimed Morris. The audience leaned forward. Madison shook
his head all through the reading; Morris jerked his with emphatic

The radical points in which Hamilton's constitution differed from that
under which we live, was in the demand for a President, to be elected by
property holders, and who should hold office during good behaviour;
senators possessing certain property qualifications and elected on the
same principle; and governors of States appointed and removable by the
President. Practically the author of the dual government, he believed
emphatically in subserving the lesser to the greater, although endowing
the States with sufficient power for self-protection. The Executive was
to be held personally responsible for official misconduct, both he and
the senators subject to impeachment and to removal from office. The
whole scheme was wrought out with the mathematical complexity and
precision characteristic of Hamilton's mind.

"Would that it were possible," exclaimed Morris, when Hamilton had
finished. "But as well expect the Almighty to drive the quill. You will
weaken your influence, Hamilton, and to no effect."

"Ah, but I have calculated upon two distinct points, and I believe I
shall achieve them. I have not the most distant hope that this paper
will be acceptable to five men in the Convention,--three, perhaps, would
round the number,--Washington, yourself, myself. Nevertheless, I shall
introduce it and speak in its favour with all the passion of which I am
master, for these reasons: I believe in it; its energy is bound to give
a tone that might be lacking otherwise; and--this is the principal
point--_there must be something to work back from_. If I alarm with the
mere chance of so perilous a menace to their democratic ideals, they
will go to work in earnest at _something_ in order to defeat me, and
they will not go back so far in the line of vigour as if I had suggested
a more moderate plan; for, mark my words, they would infallibly incline
to weaker measures than _any_ firm government which should first be
proposed. In the management of men one of the most important things to
bear in mind is their proneness to work forward from the weak, and
backward from the strong. On the quality of the strength depends its
magnetism over the weak. All reformers are ridiculed or outlawed, and
their measures are never wholly successful; but they awaken men's minds
to something of approximate worth, and to a desire for a divorce from
the old order of things. So, while I expect to be called a monarchist, I
hope to instil subtly the idea of the absolute necessity of a strong
government, and implant in their minds a distrust of one too weak."

"Good," said Morris. "And it is always a delight to see your revelation
of yourself in a new light. I perceive that to your other
accomplishments you add the cunning of the fox."

"You are right to call it an accomplishment," retorted Hamilton. "We
cannot go through life successfully with the bare gifts of the Almighty,
generous though He may have been. If I find that I have need of cunning,
or brutality,--than which nothing is farther from my nature,--or even
nagging, I do not hesitate to borrow and use them."

"Let us call this sagacity," said Troup. "'Tis a prettier word. Or the
canniness of the Scot. But there is one thing I fear," he added
anxiously. "You may injure your chances of future preferment. Your
ambition will be thought too vaulting, particularly for so young a man,
and, besides, you may be thought a menace to the commonwealth."

"That is a point to be considered, Hamilton," said General Schuyler.

"I have an end to gain, sir, and I mean to gain it. Moreover, this is no
time to be considering private interests. If this be not the day for
patriotism to stifle every personal ambition, then there is little hope
for human nature. I believe the result of this paper will be a
constitution of respectable strength, and I shall use all the influence
I wield to make the people accept it. So, if you worry, consider if the
later effort will not outweigh the first."

"Hamilton," said Madison, solemnly, "you are a greater man even than I
thought you. You have given me a most welcome hint, and I shall take
upon myself to engineer the recession from your constitution. I shall
study its effect with the closest attention and be guided accordingly, I
am heart and soul in this matter, and would give my life to it if
necessary. I never should have thought of anything so astute," he added,
with some envy, "but perhaps if I had, no one else would be so
peculiarly fitted as myself to work upon its manifold suggestions. I
hope I do not strike you as conceited," he said, looking around
anxiously, "but I _feel_ that it is in me to render efficient service in
the present crisis."

Before Morris could launch his ready fling, Hamilton hastened to assure
Madison of his belief that no man living could render services so great.
He underrated neither Madison's great abilities nor the danger of
rankling arrows in that sensitive and not too courageous spirit. They
then discussed a general plan of campaign and the best methods of
managing certain members of the Convention. Morris was the first to

"Adieu," he said. "I go to ruminate upon our Captain's diplomacy, and to
pursue the ankle of Mrs. Croix. Be sure that the one will not interfere
with the other, but will mutually stimulate."

The other gentlemen adjourned to the dining room.


The story of the Convention has been told so often that only the merest
outline is necessary here; those who have not before this read at least
one of the numberless reports, would be the last to wish its
multigenerous details. To the students of history there is nothing new
to tell, as may be the case with less exploited incidents of Hamilton's
career. Someone has said that it was an assemblage of hostile camps, and
it certainly was the scene of intense and bitter struggles, of a
heterogeneous mass blindly striving to cohere, whilst a thousand
sectional interests tugged at the more familiar of the dual ideal; of
compromise after compromise; of a fear pervading at least one-half that
the liberties of republicanism were menaced by every energetic
suggestion; of the soundest judgement and patriotism compelled to
truckle to meaner sentiments lest they get nothing; of the picked men of
the Confederacy, honourable, loyal, able, and enlightened, animated in
the first and last instance by a pure and common desire for the highest
welfare of the country, driven to war upon one another by the strength
of their conflicting opinions; ending--among the thirty-nine out of the
sixty-one delegates who signed the Constitution--in a feeling as closely
resembling general satisfaction as individual disappointments would

At first so turbulent were the conditions, that Franklin, who troubled
the Almighty but little himself, arose and suggested that the meetings
be opened with prayer. After this sarcasm, and the submission of his
mild compromise with the Confederation, he sat and watched the painted
sun behind Washington's chair, pensively wondering if the artist had
intended to convey the idea of a rise or a setting. Hamilton presented
his draft at the right moment, and the startled impression it made quite
satisfied him, particularly as his long speech to the Committee of the
Whole was received with the closest attention. Nothing could alter his
personal fascination, and even his bitterest enemies rarely left their
chairs while he spoke. The small figure, so full of dignity and
magnetizing power that it excluded every other object from their vision,
the massive head with a piercing force in every line of its features,
the dark eyes blazing and flashing with a fire that never had been seen
in the eyes of a mere mortal before, the graceful rapid gestures, and
the passionate eloquence which never in its most apparently abandoned
moments failed to be sincere and logical, made him for the hour the
glory of friend and enemy alike, although the reaction was
correspondingly bitter. Upon this occasion he spoke for six hours
without the interruption of a scraping heel; and what the Convention did
not know about the science of government before he finished with them,
they never would learn elsewhere. Although he made but this one speech,
he talked constantly to the groups surrounding him wherever he moved. To
his original scheme he had too much tact to make further allusion; but
his general opinions, ardently propounded, his emphatic reiteration of
the demoralized country's need for a national government, and of the
tyrannies inherent in unbridled democracies, wedged in many a chink.
Nevertheless, he was disgusted and disheartened when he left for New
York, at the end of May. The Convention was chaos, but he could
accomplish nothing more than what he hoped he might have done; the
matter was now best in the hands of Madison and Gouverneur Morris, and
his practice could no longer be neglected.

But although he returned to a mass of work,--for he handled most of the
great cases of the time,--he managed to mingle daily with the crowd at
Fraunces' and the coffee-houses, in order to gauge the public sentiment
regarding the proposed change of government, and to see the leading men
constantly. On the whole, he wrote to Washington, he found that both in
the Jerseys and in New York there was "an astonishing revolution for the
better in the minds of the people."

Washington replied from the depths of his disgust:--

    ... In a word I almost despair of seeing a favourable issue to the
     proceedings of the Convention, and do, therefore, repent having any
     agency in the business. The men who oppose a strong and energetic
     government are, in my opinion, narrow-minded politicians, or are
     under the influence of local views. The apprehension expressed by
     them that the _people_ will not accede to the form proposed, is the
     _ostensible_, not the real cause of the opposition; but admitting
     that _present_ sentiment is as they prognosticate, the question
     ought nevertheless to be, is it, or is it not, the best form? If
     the former, recommend it, and it will assuredly obtain, maugre
     opposition. I am sorry you went away; I wish you were back.

To Washington, who presided over that difficult assemblage with a
superhuman dignity, to Hamilton who breathed his strong soul into it, to
Madison who manipulated it, to Gouverneur Morris, whose sarcastic
eloquent tongue brought it to reason again and again, and whose
accomplished pen gave the Constitution its literary form, belong the
highest honours of the Convention; although the services rendered by
Roger Sherman, Rufus King, James Wilson, R.R. Livingston, and Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney entitle them to far more than polite mention.

When Hamilton signed the Constitution, on the 17th of September, it was
by no means strong enough to suit him, but as it was incomparably better
than the Articles of Confederation, which had carried the country to the
edge of anarchy and ruin, and was regarded by a formidable number of
people and their leaders as so strong as to be a menace to the liberties
of the American citizen, he could with consistency and ardour exert
himself to secure its ratification. After all, it was built of his
stones, chipped and pared though they might be; had he not gone to the
Convention, the result might have been a constitution for which his pen
would have refused to plead.

Manhattan Island, Kings and Westchester counties had long since accepted
his doctrines, and they stood behind him in unbroken ranks; but the
northern counties and cities of New York, including Albany, were still
under the autocratic sway of Clinton. Hamilton's colleagues, Yates and
Lansing, had resigned their seats in the Great Convention. Among the
signatures to the Constitution his name stood alone for New York, and
the fact was ominous of his lonely and precarious position. But
difficulties were ever his stimulant, and this was not the hour to find
him lacking in resource.

"The Constitution terrifies by its length, complexity, frigidity, and
above all by its novelty," he said to Jay and Madison, who met by
appointment in his library. "Clinton, in this State, has persuaded his
followers that it is so many iron hoops, in which they would groan and
struggle for the rest of their lives. To defeat him and this pernicious
idea, we must discuss the Constitution publicly, in the most lucid and
entertaining manner possible, lay every fear, and so familiarize the
people with its merits, and with the inseparable relation of its
adoption to their personal interests, that by the time the elections for
the State Convention take place, they will be sufficiently educated to
give us the majority. And as there is so much doubt, even among members
of the Convention, as to the mode of enacting the Constitution, we must
solve that problem as quickly as possible. My purpose is to publish a
series of essays in the newspapers, signed, if you agree with me,
Publius, and reaching eighty or ninety in number, which shall expound
and popularize the Constitution of the United States; and if you will
give me your inestimable help, I am sure we shall accomplish our

"If you need my help, I will give it to you to the best of my ability,
sir," said Jay, "but I do not pretend to compete with your absolute
mastery of the complex science of government, and I fear that my weaker
pen may somewhat counteract the vigour of yours; but, I repeat, I will
do my best with the time at my disposal."

Hamilton laughed, "You know how anxious I am to injure our chances of
success," he said. "I hope all things from your pen."

Jay bowed formally, and Hamilton turned to Madison. "I know you must
feel that you have done your share for the present," he said, "and there
is hard work awaiting you in your State Convention, but the subject is
at your finger tips; it hardly can be too much trouble."

"I am not very well," said Madison, peevishly, "but I realize the
necessity,--and that the papers should be read as extensively in
Virginia as here. I will write a few, and more if I can."

But, as it came to pass, Madison wrote but fourteen separate papers of
the eighty-five, although he collaborated with Hamilton on three others,
and Jay wrote five only. The remaining sixty-three, therefore, of the
essays, collected during and after their publication under the title of
"The Federalist," which not only did so much to enlighten and educate
the public mind and weaken the influence of such men as Clinton, but
which still stand as the ablest exposition of the science of government,
and as the parent of American constitutional law, were the work of

"It is the fortunate situation of our country," said Hamilton, a few
months later, at Poughkeepsie, "that the minds of the people are
exceedingly enlightened and refined." Certainly these papers are a great
tribute to the general intelligence of the American race of a century
and more ago. Selfish, petty, and lacking in political knowledge they
may have been, but it is evident that their mental _tone_ was high, that
their minds had not been vulgarized by trash and sensationalism.
Hamilton's sole bait was a lucid and engaging style, which would not
puzzle the commonest intelligence, which he hoped might instruct without
weighing heavily on the capacity of his humbler readers. That he was
addressing the general voter, as well as the men of a higher grade as
yet unconvinced, there can be no doubt, for as New York State was still
seven-tenths Clintonian, conversion of a large portion of this scowling
element was essential to the ratification of the Constitution. And yet
he chose two men of austere and unimaginative style to collaborate with
him; while his own style for purity, distinction, and profundity
combined with simplicity, has never been excelled.

Betsey was ailing, and her doors closed to society; the children romped
on the third floor or on the Battery. Hamilton wrote chiefly at night,
his practice occupying the best of the hours of day, but he was sensible
of the calm of his home and of its incentive to literary composition; it
never occurred to him to open his office in the evening. Betsey, the
while she knitted socks, listened patiently to her brilliant husband's
luminous discussions on the new Constitution--which she could have
recited backward--and his profound interpretation of its principles and
provisions. If she worried over these continuous labours she made no
sign, for Hamilton was racing Clinton, and there was not a moment to
lose. Clinton won in the first heat. After a desperate struggle in the
State Legislature the Hamiltonians succeeded in passing resolutions
ordering a State Convention to be elected for the purpose of considering
the Constitution; but the result in April proved the unabated power and
industry of Clinton,--the first, and not the meanest of New York's
political "bosses,"--for two-thirds of the men selected were his
followers. The Convention was called for the 17th of June and it was
rumoured that the Clintonians intended immediately to move an
adjournment until the following year. According to an act of Congress
the ratification of only nine States was necessary to the adoption of
the Constitution. The others could come into the Union later if they
chose, and there was a disposition in several States to watch the
experiment before committing themselves. Hamilton, who knew that such a
policy, if pursued by the more important States, would result in civil
war, was determined that New York should not behave in a manner which
would ruin her in the present and disgrace her in history, and wrote on
with increasing vigour, hoping to influence the minds of the
oppositionists elected to the Convention as well as the people at large.
Even he had never written anything which had attracted so wide admiring
and acrimonious attention. The papers were read in all the cities of the
Confederation, and in such hamlets as boasted a mail-bag. When they
reached England and France they were almost as keenly discussed. That
they steadily made converts, Hamilton had cause to know, for his
correspondence was overwhelming. Troup and General Schuyler attended to
the greater part of it; but only himself could answer the frequent
letters from leaders in the different states demanding advice. He
thought himself fortunate in segregating five hours of the twenty-four
for sleep. The excitement throughout the country was intense, and it is
safe to say that nowhere and for months did conversation wander from the
subject of politics and the new Constitution, for more than ten minutes
at a time. In New York Hamilton was the subject of constant and vicious
attack, the Clintonians sparing no effort to discredit him with the
masses. New York City was nicknamed Hamiltonopolis and jingled in
scurrilous rhymes. In the midst of it all were two diversions: the
fourth of his children, and a letter which he discovered before General
Schuyler or Troup had sorted his mail. As the entire Schuyler family
were now in his house, and his new son was piercingly discontented with
his lot, he took refuge in his chambers in Garden Street, until Betsey
was able to restore peace and happiness to his home. The postman had
orders to bring his mail-bag thither, and it was on the second morning
of his exile that the perfume of violets caused him to make a hasty
journey through the letters.

He found the spring sweetness coincidentally with a large square,
flowingly superscribed. He glanced at the clock. His devoted assistants
would not arrive for half an hour. He broke the seal. It was signed
Eliza Capet Croix, and ran as follows:--

     MY DEAR SIR: Do you care anything for the opinion of my humble sex,
     I wonder? The humblest of your wondering admirers is driven beyond
     the bounds of feminine modesty, sir, to tell you that what you do
     not write she no longer cares to read. I was the first to detect--I
     claim that honour--such letters by Publius as were not by your
     hand, and while I would not disparage efforts so conscientious,
     they seem to me like dawn to sunrise. Is this idle flattery? Ah,
     sir! I too am greatly flattered. I do not want for admirers. Nor
     can I hope to know--to know--so great and busy a man. But my
     restless vanity, sir, compels me to force myself upon your notice.
     I should die if I passed another day unknown to the man who gives
     me the greatest pleasures of my life--I have every line you have
     had printed that can be found, and half the booksellers in the
     country searching for the lost copies of the _Continentalist_--I
     should die, I say, if you were longer ignorant that I have the
     intelligence, the ambition, and the erudition to admire you above
     all men, living or dead. For that is my pride, sir. Perchance I was
     born for politics; at all events you have made them my passion, and
     I spend my days converting Clintonians to your cause. Do not scorn
     my efforts. It is not every day that a woman turns a man's thoughts
     from love to patriotism; I have heard that 'tis oftenest the other
     way. But I take your time, and hasten to subscribe myself, my dear

     Your humble and obd't servant


The absence of superfluous capitals and of underscoring in this letter,
alone would have arrested his attention, for even men of a less severe
education than himself were liberal in these resources, and women were
prodigal. The directness and precision were also remarkable, and he
recalled that she was but nineteen. The flattery touched him, no doubt,
for he was very human; and despite the brevity of his leisure, he read
the note twice, and devoted a moment to conjecture.

"She is cleverer, even, than Lady Kitty, or Susan and Kitty Livingston,
by this," he mused. "She would be worth knowing, did a driven mortal but
have the time to idle in the wake of so much intelligence--and beauty.
Not to answer this were unpardonable--I cannot allow the lady to die."
He wrote her a brief note of graceful acknowledgement, which caused Mrs.
Croix to shed tears of exultation and vexation. He acknowledged her but
breathed no fervid desire for another letter. It is not to be expected
that maturest nineteen can realize that, although a busy man will find
time to see a woman if it be worth his while, the temptations to a
romantic correspondence are not overwhelming.

Hamilton tore up the letter and threw it into the waste basket. Its
perfume, delicate but imperious, intruded upon his brief. He dived into
the basket as he heard Troup's familiar whistle, and thrust the pieces
into a breast pocket. In a moment he remembered that Betsey's head would
be pillowed upon that pocket at five in the afternoon, and he hastily
extracted the mutilated letter, and applied a match to it, consigning
women to perdition. Troup sniffed as he entered the room.

"Violets and burnt paper," remarked he. "'Tis a combination I have
noticed before. I wonder will some astute perfumer ever seize the idea?
It would have its guilty appeal for our sex--perchance for t'other;
though I'm no cynic like you and Morris."

"Shut up," said Hamilton, "and get to work if you love me, for I've no
time to write to St. Croix, much less waste five seconds on any woman."

That afternoon he wasted half an hour in search of a bunch of redolent
violets to carry home to his wife. He pinned three on his coat.


When the 17th of June approached, Hamilton, John Jay, Chancellor
Livingston, and James Duane, started on horse for Poughkeepsie, not
daring, with Clinton on the spot, and the menace of an immediate
adjournment, to trust to the winds of the Hudson. General Schuyler had
promised to leave even a day sooner from the North, and the majority of
Federal delegates had gone by packet-boat, or horse, in good season.

The old post road between New York and Albany was, for the greater part
of the way, but a rough belt through a virgin forest. Occasionally a
farmer had cleared a few acres, the lawns of a manor house were open to
the sun, the road was varied by the majesty of Hudson and palisade for a
brief while, or by the precipitous walls of mountains, so thickly wooded
that even the wind barely fluttered their sombre depths. Man was a
moving arsenal in those long and lonely journeys, for the bear and the
panther were breeding undisturbed. But the month was hot, and those
forest depths were very cool; the scenery was often as magnificent as
primeval, and a generous hospitality at many a board dispelled, for an
interval, the political anxiety of Hamilton and his companions.

Hamilton, despite a mind trained to the subordination of private
interests to public duty, knew that it was the crisis of his own destiny
toward which he was hastening. He had bound up his personal ambitions
with the principles of the Federalist party--so called since the
publication in book form of the Publius essays; for not only was he
largely responsible for those principles, but his mind was too well
regulated to consider the alternative of a compromise with a possibly
victorious party which he detested. Perhaps his ambition was too
vaulting to adapt itself to a restricted field when his imagination had
played for years with the big ninepins of history; at all events, it was
inseparably bound up with nationalism in the boldest sense achievable,
and with methods which days and nights of severe thought had convinced
him were for the greatest good of the American people. Union meant
Washington in the supreme command, himself with the reins of government
in both hands. The financial, the foreign, the domestic policy of a
harmonious federation were as familiar to his mind as they are to us
to-day. Only he could achieve them, and only New York could give him
those reins of power.

It is true that he had but to move his furniture over to Philadelphia to
be welcomed to citizenship with acclamation by that ambitious town; but
not only was his pride bound up in the conquest of New York from
Clintonism to Federalism, but New York left out of the Union, dividing
as she did New England from the South and North, of the highest
commercial importance by virtue of her central position and her harbour,
meant civil war at no remote period, disunion, and the undoing of the
most careful and strenuous labours of the nation's statesmen. That New
York should be forced into the Union at once Hamilton was determined
upon, if he had to resort to a coup which might or might not meet with
the approval of the rest of the country. Nevertheless, he looked forward
to the next few weeks with the deepest anxiety. An accident, an illness,
and the cause was lost, for he made no mistake in estimating himself as
the sole force which could bear Clinton and his magnificent organization
to the ground. Hamilton was no party manipulator. He relied upon his
individual exertions, abetted by those of his lieutenants,--the most
high-minded and the ablest men in the country,--to force his ideas upon
the masses by their own momentum and weight. Indeed, so individual did
he make the management of the Federalist party, that years later, when
the "Republican" leaders determined upon its overthrow, they aimed all
their artillery at him alone: if he fell the party must collapse, on top
of him; did he retain the confidence of the people, he would magnetize
their obedience, no matter what rifts there might be in his ranks.

He had established a horse-express between Virginia and Poughkeepsie,
and between New Hampshire and the little capital. Eight States having
ratified, the signature of New Hampshire, the next in order, would mean
union and a trial of the Constitution, a prospect which could not fail
to influence the thinking men of the anti-Federal party; but it was from
the ratification of Virginia that he hoped the greatest good. This State
occupied much the same position in the South that New York did in the
North, geographically, commercially, historically, and in the
importance of her public men. And she was as bitterly opposed to union,
to what a narrow provincialism held to be the humiliation of the States.
Patrick Henry, her most powerful and eloquent leader, not through the
selfish policy of a Clinton, but in the limitations of a too narrow
genius, was haranguing with all his recuperated might against the
sinister menace to the liberties of a people who had freed themselves of
one despotism so dearly; and even Randolph, with characteristic
hesitancy when approaching a point, was deficient in enthusiasm,
although he intimated that he should vote for the unconditional adoption
of the Constitution he had refused to sign. He and Marshall were
Madison's only assistants of importance against the formidable opponent
of union, and it was well understood among leaders that Jefferson, who
was then American minister in France, gave the Constitution but a
grudging and inconsistent approval, and would prefer that it failed,
were not amendments tacked on which practically would nullify its
energies. But although Hamilton had such lieutenants as John Jay, Philip
Schuyler, Duane, and Robert Livingston, Madison had the inestimable,
though silent, backing of Washington. The great Chief had, months since,
forcibly expressed his sentiments in a public letter; and that colossal
figure, the more potent that it was invisible and mute, guided as many
wills as Madison's strenuous exertions and unanswerable dispassionate

But Washington, although sufficiently revered by New Yorkers, was not
their very own, as was he the Virginians'; was by no means so impinging
and insistent as his excellency, Governor Clinton, he whose powerful
will and personality, aided by an enterprise and wisdom that were not
always misguided, for eleven years had compelled their grateful
submission. It was difficult to convince New Yorkers that such a man was
wholly wrong in his patriotism, particularly when their own interests
seemed bound so firmly to his. It was this dominant, dauntless,
resourceful, political nabob that Hamilton knew he must conquer
single-handed, if he conquered him at all; for his lieutenants, able as
they were, could only second and abet him; they had none of his
fertility of resource. As he rode through the forest he rehearsed every
scheme of counterplay and every method that made for conquest which his
fertile brain had conceived. He would exercise every argument likely to
appeal to the decent instincts of those ambitious of ranking as
first-class citizens, as well as to the congenital selfishness of man,
which could illuminate the darker recesses of their Clintonized
understandings, and effect their legitimate conversion; then, if these
higher methods failed, coercion.

"What imperious method are you devising, Hamilton?" asked Livingston.
"Your lips are set; your eyes are almost black. I've seen you like that
in court, but never in good company before. You look as if considering a
challenge to mortal combat."

Hamilton's brow cleared, and he laughed with that mercurial lightness
which did more to preserve the balance of what otherwise would have been
an overweighted mind than any other quality it possessed.

"Well, am I not to fight a duel?" he asked. "Would that I could call
Clinton out and settle the question as easily as that. I disapprove of
duelling, but so critical a moment as this would justify anything short
of trickery. We'll leave that to Clinton; but although there is no vast
difference between my political and my private conscience, there are
recourses which are as fair in political as in martial warfare, and I
should be found ingenuous and incapable did I fail to make use of them."

"Well, you love a fight," said Jay, without experiencing the humour of
his remark. "I believe you would rather fight than sit down in good
company at any time, and you are notoriously convivial. But easy
conquest would demoralize you. If I do not mistake, you have the
greatest battle of your career, past or present, immediately ahead of
you--and it means so much to all of us--I fear--I fear--"

"I will listen to no fears," cried Hamilton, who at all events had no
mind to be tormented by any but his own. "Are we not alive? Are we not
in health? Are not our intellectual powers at their ripest point of
development? Can Clinton, Melancthon Smith, Yates, Lansing, Jones, make
a better showing?"

"We are nineteen against forty-six," said Jay, with conceivable gloom.

"True. But there is no reason why we should not shortly be forty-six
against nineteen."

"We certainly are Right against the most unstatesman-like Selfishness
the world has ever seen," observed Duane.

"Would that experience justified us in thinking well enough of the human
race to gather courage from that fact," replied Hamilton. "It is to the
self-interest of the majority we shall have to appeal. Convince them
that there is neither career nor prosperity for them in an isolated
State, and we may drag them up to a height which is safer than their
mire, simply because it is better, or better because it is safer. This
is a time to practice patriotism, but not to waste time talking about

"Your remarks savour of cynicism," replied Jay, "but I fear there is
much truth in them. It is only in the millennium, I suppose, that we
shall have the unthinkable happiness of seeing on all sides of us an
absolute conformity to our ideals."

In spite of the close, if somewhat formal, friendship between Jay and
Hamilton, the latter was often momentarily depressed by the resemblance
of this flawless character to, and its rigid contrasts from, his dead
friend Laurens. Jay was all that Laurens had passionately wished to be,
and apparently without effort; for nature had not balanced him with a
redeeming vice, consequently with no power to inspire hate or love. Had
he been a degree greater, a trifle more ambitious, or had circumstances
isolated him in politics, he would have been an even lonelier and
loftier figure than Washington, for our Chief had one or two redeeming
humanities; as it was, he stood to a few as a character so perfect that
they marvelled, while they deplored his lack of personal influence. But
his intellect is in the rank which stands just beneath that of the men
of genius revealed by history, and he hangs like a silver star of the
tropics upon the sometimes dubious fields of our ancestral heavens.
Nevertheless, he frequently inspired Hamilton with so poignant a longing
for Laurens that our impetuous hero was tempted to wish for an exchange
of fates.

"In the millennium we will all tell the truth and hate each other,"
answered Hamilton. "And we either shall all be fools, or those irritants
will be extinct; in any case we shall be happy, particularly if we have
someone to hate."

"Ah, now you jest," said Duane, smiling. "For you are logical or
nothing. _You_ may be happy when on the warpath, but the rest of us are
not. And you are the last man to be happy in a millennium by yourself."

They all laughed at this sally, for Hamilton was seldom silent. He
answered lightly:--

"Someone to fight. Someone to love. Three warm friends. Three hot
enemies. A sufficiency of delicate food and wine. A West Indian
swimming-bath. Someone to talk to. Someone to make love to. War.
Politics. Books. Song. Children. Woman. A religion. There you have the
essence of the millennium, embroider it as you may."

"And scenery," added Jay, devoutly.

The road for the last quarter of an hour had led up a steep hill, above
which other hills piled without an opening; and below lay the Hudson. As
they paused upon the bare cone of the elevation, the river looked like a
chain of Adirondack lakes, with dense and upright forests rising tier
beyond tier until lost in the blue haze of the Catskills. The mountains
looked as if they had pushed out from the mainland down to the water's
edge to cross and meet each other. So close were the opposite crags that
the travellers could see a deer leap through the brush, the red of his
coat flashing through the gloomy depths. Below sped two packet-boats in
a stiff breeze.

"Friends or enemies?" queried Livingston. "I wish I were with them, for
I must confess the pleasures of horse travel for seventy-five miles must
be the climax of a daily habit to be fully appreciated. It is all very
well for Hamilton, who is on a horse twice every day; but as I am ten
years older and proportionately stiffer, I shall leave patriotism to the
rest of you for a day or two after our arrival."

Hamilton did not answer. He had become conscious of the delicate yet
piercing scent of violets. Wild violets had no perfume, and it was long
past their season. He glanced eagerly around, but without realizing what
prompted a quick stirring of his pulses. There was but one tree on the
crag, and he stood against it. Almost mechanically his glance sought its
recesses, and his hand reached forward to something white. It was a
small handkerchief of cambric and lace. The other men were staring at
the scenery. He hastily glanced at the initials in the corner of the
scented trifle, and wondered that he should so easily decipher a tangled
E.C.C. But he marvelled, nevertheless, and thrust the handkerchief into
his pocket.

They reached Poughkeepsie late in the afternoon. Main Street, which was
the interruption of the post road, and East Street, which terminated the
Dutchess turnpike, were gaily decorated with flags and greens, the
windows and pavements crowded with people whose faces reflected the
nervous excitement with which the whole country throbbed. The capital
for ten years, the original village had spread over the hills into a
rambling town of many avenues, straight and twisted, and there were
pretentious houses and a certain amount of business. Hamilton and his
party were stared at with deep curiosity, but not cheered, for the town
was almost wholly Clintonian. The Governor had his official residence on
the Dutchess turnpike, a short distance from town; and this was his
court. Nevertheless, it was proudly conscious of the dignity incumbent
upon it as the legislative centre of the State, and no matter what the
suspense or the issue, had no mind to make the violent demonstrations of
other towns. Nearly every town of the North, including Albany, had
burned Hamilton in effigy, albeit with battered noses, for he had his
followers everywhere; but here he was met with a refreshing coolness,
for which the others of his party, at least, were thankful.

They went first to Van Kleek's tavern, on the Upper Landing Road, not
far from the Court-house, to secure the rooms they had engaged; but
finding an invitation awaiting them from Henry Livingston to make use of
his house during the Convention, repaired with unmixed satisfaction to
the large estate on the other side of the town. The host was absent, but
his cousin had been requested to do the honours to as many as he would
ask to share a peaceful retreat from the daily scene of strife.

"And it has the advantage of an assured privacy," said Hamilton. "For
here we can hold conference nightly with no fear of eavesdropping.
Moreover, to get a bath at Van Kleek's is as easy as making love to

General Schuyler joined them an hour later. He had been in town all day,
and had held several conferences with the depressed Federalists, who,
between a minority which made them almost ridiculous, and uncomfortable
lodgings, were deep in gloomy forebodings. As soon as they heard of
their Captain's arrival they swarmed down to the Livingston mansion.
Hamilton harangued them cheerfully in the drawing-room, drank with them,
in his host's excellent wine, to the success of their righteous cause;
and they retired, buoyant, confirmed in their almost idolatrous belief
in the man who was responsible for all the ideas they possessed.


Although Hamilton and Clinton had no liking for each other, they were
far from being the furious principals in one of those political hatreds
which the times were about to engender,--an intellectual cataclysm which
Hamilton was to experience in all its blackness, of which he was to be
the most conspicuous victim. He had by no means plumbed his depths as
yet. So far he had met with few disappointments, few stumbling blocks,
never a dead wall. Life had smiled upon him as if magnetized. At home he
found perfect peace, abroad augmenting ranks of followers, sufficient
work to use up his nervous energies, and the stimulant of enmity and
opposition that he loved. It was long since he had given way to rage,
although he flew into a temper occasionally. He told himself he was
become a philosopher, and was far from suspecting the terrible passions
which the future was to undam. His mother, with dying insight, had
divined the depth and fury of a nature which was all light on the
surface, and in its upper half a bewildering but harmonious
intermingling of strength, energy, tenderness, indomitability,
generosity, and intense emotionalism: a stratum so large and so
generously endowed that no one else, least of all himself, had suspected
that primeval inheritance which might blaze to ashes one of the most
nicely balanced judgements ever bestowed on a mortal, should his enemies
combine and beat his own great strength to the dust.

But when Hamilton and Clinton approached the Court-house from opposite
directions, on the morning of the 17th, they did not cross the street to
avoid meeting, although they bowed with extreme formality and measured
each other with a keen and speculative regard. Clinton was now
forty-nine years old, his autocratic will, love of power, and knowledge
of men, in their contemptuous maturity. He was a large man, with the
military bearing of the born and finished martinet, a long hard nose,
and an irritated eye. The irritation kindled as it met Hamilton's, which
was sparkling with the eager determination of a youth which, although
desirable in itself, was become a presumption when pitted against those
eighteen additional distinguished years of the Governor of New York.
That there was a twinkle of amusement in the Federalist's eye was also
to his discredit.

"The young fop," fumed Clinton, as he brushed a fleck of mud from his
own magnificent costume of black ducape, "he is the _enfant gâté_ of
politics, and I shall settle him here once for all. It will be a public

The Court-house, which stood halfway up the hill, on the corner of Main
and East streets, and was surrounded by the shade of many maples, was a
two-story building of rough stones welded together by a ruder cement.
The roof sloped, and above was a belfry. The Convention was held in the
upper story, which was unbroken by partition; and with the windows open
upon what looked to be a virgin forest, so many were the ancient trees
remaining in the little town, the singing of birds, the shrilling of
crickets, the murmur of the leaves in an almost constant breeze, the old
Court-house of Poughkeepsie was by no means a disagreeable
gathering-place. Moreover, it was as picturesque within as it was
arcadian without; for the fine alert-looking men, with their powdered
hair in queues, their elaborately cut clothes of many colours, made for
the most part of the corded silk named ducape, their lawn and ruffles,
made up the details of a charming picture, which was far from appealing
to them, but which gives us a distinct pleasure in the retrospect.

Governor Clinton was elected the President of the Convention. On the
right of the central table sat his forty-five henchmen, with Melancthon
Smith, one of the most astute and brilliant debaters of the time, well
to the front. Opposite sat Hamilton, surrounded by General Schuyler,
Jay, Duane, and Robert Livingston, the rest of his small following close
to the windows, but very alert, their gaze never ranging far from their
leader. Beyond the bar crowded the invited guests, many of them women in
all the finery of the time.

If the anti-Federalists had entertained the idea of an immediate and
indefinite adjournment, they appear to have abandoned it without waste
of time; perhaps because long and tedious journeys in midsummer were not
to be played with; perhaps because they were sure of their strength;
possibly because Clinton was so strongly in favour of arranging
Hamilton's destinies once for all.

Certainly at the outset the prospects of the Federalists were almost
ludicrous. The anti-Federalists were two-thirds against one-third,
fortified against argument, uncompromisingly opposed to union at the
expense of State sovereignty, clever and thinking men, most of them,
devoted to Clinton, and admirably led by an orator who acknowledged no
rival but Hamilton. The latter set his lips more than once, and his
heart sank, but only to leap a moment later with delight in the mere
test of strength.

Clinton's first move was to attempt a vote at once upon the Constitution
as a whole, but he was beaten by Hamilton and many in his own ranks, who
were in favour of the fair play of free debate. The Governor was forced
to permit the Convention to go into a Committee of the Whole, which
would argue the Constitution section by section. Hamilton had gained a
great point, and he soon revealed the use he purposed to make of it.

It is doubtful if his own followers had anticipated that he would speak
almost daily for three weeks, receiving and repelling the brunt of every
argument; and certainly Clinton had looked for no such feat.

The contest opened on the Clintonian side, with the argument that an
amended Confederation was all that was necessary for the purposes of a
more general welfare. The plan advanced was that Congress should be
given the power to compel by force the payment of the requisitions which
the States so often ignored. Hamilton demolished this proposition with
one of his most scornful outbursts.

     Coerce the States! [he cried]. Never was a madder project devised!
     Do you imagine that the result of the failure of one State to
     comply would be confined to that State alone? Are you so willing to
     hazard a civil war? Consider the refusal of Massachusetts, the
     attempt at compulsion by Congress. What a series of pictures does
     this conjure up? A powerful State procuring immediate assistance
     from other States, particularly from some delinquent! A complying
     State at war with a non-complying State! Congress marching the
     troops of one State into the bosom of another! This State
     collecting auxiliaries and forming perhaps a majority against its
     Federal head! And can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a
     government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting
     itself?--a government that can exist only by the sword? And what
     sort of a State would it be which would suffer itself to be used as
     the instrument of coercing another? ... A Federal standing army,
     then, must enforce the requisitions or the Federal treasury will be
     left without supplies, and the government without support.... There
     is but one cure for such an evil--to enable the national laws to
     operate on individuals like the laws of the States. To take the old
     Confederation as the basis of a new system, and to trust the sword
     and the purse to a single assembly organized upon principles so
     defective, giving it the full powers of taxation and the national
     forces, would result in what--Despotism! To avoid the very issue
     which appears to be held in such abject terror, a totally different
     government from anything into which the old Confederation can be
     twisted, or fitted out with wings and gables, must be established
     with proper powers and proper checks and balances.

His words created a palpable uneasiness. The outburst was the more
effective for following and preceding close passionless and pointed
reasoning, a trenchant review of other republics ancient and modern, and
an elaborate argument in favour of the representation prescribed by the
new Constitution.

Hamilton was not only the most brilliant, resourceful, and unanswerable
orator of his time, but he was gifted with an almost diabolical power
over the emotions of men, which he did not hesitate to use. At this
momentous assembly he kept them in exercise; when he chose, he made his
audience weep; and the Clintonians weakened daily. Had not many years of
trouble and anxiety made their emotions peculiarly susceptible, Hamilton
would have attempted their agitation more sparingly; and had he been
theatrical and rhetorical in his methods, he would have lost his control
of them long before the end of the session. But he rarely indulged in a
trope or a flight, never in bathos nor in bursts of ill-balanced appeal.
Nothing ever was drier than the subjects he elucidated day after day for
three weeks: for he took the Constitution to pieces bit by bit, and
compelled them to listen to an analysis which, if propounded by another,
would have bored them to distraction, vitally interested as they were.
But he not only so illuminated the cold pages of the Constitution that
while they listened they were willing to swear it was more beautiful
than the Bible, but the torrent of his eloquence, never confusing, so
sharp was every feature of the Constitution to his own mind, the magic
of his personality, and his intense humanity in treating the driest
sections of the document, so bewitched his audience that, even when he
talked for six hours without pausing on the subject of taxation, perhaps
the baldest topic which the human understanding is obliged to consider,
there was not a sign of impatience in the ranks of the enemy.

He by no means harrowed them daily; he was far too astute for that.
There were days together when he merely charmed them, and they sat with
a warm unconscious smile while he demolished bit by bit one of
Melancthon Smith's clever arguments, in a manner so courteous that even
his victim could only shrug his shoulders, although he cursed him
roundly afterward. Then, when his audience least expected an assault, he
would treat them to a burst of scorn that made them hitch their chairs
and glance uneasily at each other, or to a picture of future misery
which reduced them to pulp.

Clinton was infuriated. Even he often leaned forward, forgetting his own
selfish ambitions when Hamilton's thrilling voice poured forth a rapid
appeal to the passions of his hearers; but he quickly resumed the
perpendicular, and set his lips to imprison a scarlet comment. He saw
that his men were weakening, and as much to the luminous expounding of
the Constitution, to the logic of the orator, as to a truly satanic
eloquence and charm. He held long private sessions at his mansion on the
turnpike, where he was assisted by much material argument. But even
Melancthon Smith, who distinguished himself in almost daily debate,
acknowledged more than once that Hamilton had convinced him; and others
asserted, with depression, that their minds, which they had supposed to
be their own,--or Clinton's,--seemed to be in a process of remaking.

After all, for the most part, they were sincere and earnest; and
although it is difficult for us of the present day to comprehend that
enlightened men ever could have been so mad as to believe that the
country would prosper without union, that a mere State should have been
thought to be of greater importance than a Nation, or that a democratic
constitution, which permits us to coddle anarchists in our midst, and
the lower orders to menace the liberties of the upper, was ever an
object of terror to men of bitter republican ideals, yet the historic
facts confront us, and we wonder, when reading the astonishing
arguments of that long and hard-fought contest, if Hamilton's
constitution, had it passed the Great Convention, would not have
ratified with a no more determined opposition.

Melancthon Smith was one of the brightest and most conspicuous men of
his time, but his name is forgotten to-day. He was sincere; he was, in
his way, patriotic; he was a clever and eloquent orator. Moreover, he
was generous and manly enough to admit himself beaten, as the sequel
will show. To insure greatness, must the gift of long foreknowledge be
added to brilliant parts and an honest character? If this be the
essential, no wonder Melancthon Smith is forgotten. We have him
asserting that in a country where a portion of the people live more than
twelve hundred miles from the centre, one body cannot legislate for the
whole. He apprehends the abolition of the State constitutions by a
species of under-mining, predicts their immediate dwindling into
insignificance before the comprehensive and dangerous power vested in
Congress. He believes that all rich men are vicious and intemperate, and
sees nothing but despotism and disaster in the Federal Constitution.

But, like most of the speakers of that day, he was trenchant and
unadorned, so that his speeches are as easy reading as they must have
been agreeable to hear. It is a curious fact that the best speakers of
to-day resemble our forefathers in this respect of trenchant simplicity.
Mediocrity for half a century has ranted on the stump, and given
foreigners a false impression of American oratory. Those who indulge in
what may be called the open-air metaphor, so intoxicating is our
climate, may find consolation in this flight of Mr. Gilbert Livingston,
who had not their excuse; for the Court-house of Poughkeepsie was hot
and crowded. He is declaiming against the senatorial aristocrats lurking
in the proposed Constitution. "What," he cries, "what will be their
situation in a Federal town? Hallowed ground! Nothing so unclean as
State laws to enter there, surrounded as they will be by an impenetrable
wall of adamant and gold, the wealth of the whole country flowing into
it!" "_What_? What WALL?" cried a Federal. "A wall of gold, of adamant,
which will flow in from all parts of the continent." The joyous roar of
our ancestors comes down to us.

Hamilton's speech, in which he as effectually disposed of every argument
against the Senate as Roger Sherman had done in the Great Convention, is
too long to be quoted; but it is as well to give the precise words in
which he defines the vital difference between republics and democracies.

     It has been observed by an honourable gentleman [he said] that a
     pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect
     government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is
     more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people
     themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good
     government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure
     deformity. When they assembled, the field of debate presented an
     ungovernable mob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared
     for every enormity. In these assemblies the enemies of the people
     brought forward their plans of ambition systematically. They were
     opposed by their enemies of another party; and it became a matter
     of contingency, whether the people subjected themselves to be led
     blindly by one tyrant or another.

Again he says, in reply to Melancthon Smith:--

     It is a harsh doctrine that men grow wicked as they improve and
     enlighten their minds. Experience has by no means justified us in
     the supposition that there is more virtue in one class of men than
     in another. Look through the rich and the poor of this community,
     the learned and the ignorant--Where does virtue predominate? The
     difference indeed consists not in the quantity, but kind of vices
     which are incident to various classes; and here the advantage of
     character belongs to the wealthy. Their vices are probably more
     favourable to the prosperity of the State than those of the
     indigent; and partake less of moral depravity.

More than once Hamilton left his seat and went up to the belfry to
strain his eyes down the Albany post road or over the Dutchess turnpike,
and every afternoon he rode for miles to the east or the south, hoping
to meet an express messenger with a letter from Madison, or with the
good tidings that New Hampshire had ratified. Madison wrote every few
days, sometimes hopefully, sometimes in gloom, especially if he were not
feeling well. Each letter was from ten to twelve days old, and it seemed
to Hamilton sometimes that he should burst with impatience and anxiety.
On the 24th of June, as he was standing in the belfry while Chancellor
Livingston rained his sarcasms, he thought he saw an object moving
rapidly down the white ribbon which cut the forest from the East. In
five minutes he was on his horse and the Dutchess turnpike. The object
proved to be the messenger from Rufus King, and the letter which
Hamilton opened then and there contained the news of the adoption of the
Constitution by New Hampshire.

There was now a Nation, and nine States would be governed by the new
laws, whether New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island
sulked unprotected in the out-skirts, or gracefully entered the league
before dragged in or driven. It was a glittering and two-edged weapon
for Hamilton, and he flashed it in the faces of the anti-Federalists
until they were well-nigh blinded. Nevertheless, he did not for a moment
underrate Clinton's great strength, and he longed desperately for good
news from Virginia, believing that the entrance of that important State
into the Union would have more influence upon the opposition than all
the arts of which he was master.


And through it all Hamilton was sensible that someone was working for
him, and was not long attributing the influence to its proper source.
Mysterious hints were dropped of political reunions in a house on a
thickly wooded hill, a quarter of a mile behind the Governor's, the
fortunate guests to which enchanted abode being sworn to secrecy. That
it was the nightly resort of Clintonians was an open secret, but that
Federalism was being intelligently interpreted, albeit with deepest
subtlety, was guessed by few of the visitors themselves, and Hamilton
divined rather than heard it. If converts were not actually made, they
were at least undergoing a process of education which would make them
the more susceptible to Hamilton's final effort. Even before he caught a
glimpse of radiant hair among the maples, when riding one day along the
lane at the foot of the hill, he suspected that Mrs. Croix had preceded
the Convention with the deliberate intention of giving him the precious
assistance of a woman with a talent for politics and a genius for men.
He was touched, interested, intrigued, but he resisted the temptation to
precipitate himself into the eddies of her magnetism. Croix was in
England, but even before his departure, which among men was regarded as
final, she had achieved a reputation as a lady of erratic impulse and
imperious habit. That she was also the most brilliant and fascinating
woman in America, as well as the most beautiful, were facts as publicly
established. Hamilton had resisted the temptation to meet her, the
temptation receiving no help from indifference on the part of the lady;
he had answered more than one note of admirable deftness. But he had no
intention of being drawn into an intrigue which would be public gossip
in a day and ruin the happiness of his wife. To expect a man of
Hamilton's order of genius to keep faith with one woman for a lifetime
would be as reasonable as to look for such genius without the
transcendent passions which are its furnace; but he was far from being a
man who sought adventure. Under certain conditions his horizon abruptly
contracted, and life was dual and isolated; but when the opportunity had
passed he dismissed its memory with contrite philosophy, and was so
charming to Betsey that he persuaded himself, as her, that he wished
never to behold the face of another woman. Nor did he--overwhelming
temptation being absent: he was the most driven man in the United
States, with no time to run about after women, had such been his
proclivity; and his romantic temperament, having found high satisfaction
in his courtship and marriage with one of the most bewitching and
notable girls in America, was smothered under a mountain of work and
domestic bliss. So, although well aware that his will must perish at
times in the blaze of his passions, he was iron against the temptation
that held itself sufficiently aloof. To an extreme point he was master
of himself. He knew that it would be no whirlwind and forgetting with
this mysterious woman, who had set the town talking, and yet whose
social talents were so remarkable that she managed women as deftly as
she did men, and was a welcome guest in many of the most exclusive
houses in New York; the men were careful to do none of their gossiping
at home, and the women, although they criticised, and vowed themselves
scandalized, succumbed to her royal command of homage and her air of
proud invincibility. That she loved him, he had reason to know, and
although he regarded it as a young woman's romantic passion for a public
man focussing the attention of the country, and whom, from pressure of
affairs, it was almost impossible to meet, still the passion existed,
and, considering her beauty and talents, was too likely to communicate
itself to the object, were he rash enough to create the opportunity.
Hamilton's morals were the morals of his day,--a day when aristocrats
were libertines, receiving as little censure from society as from their
own consciences. His Scotch foundations had religious shoots in their
grassy crevices, but religion in a great mind like Hamilton's is an
emotional incident, one of several passions which act independently of
each other. He avoided temptation, not because he desired to shun a
torment of conscience or an accounting with his Almighty,--to Whom he
was devoted,--but because he was satisfied with the woman he had married
and would have sacrificed his ambitions rather than deliberately cause
her unhappiness. Had she been jealous and eloquent, it is more than
probable that his haughty intolerance of restraint would have driven him
to assert the pleasure of his will, but she was only amused at his
occasional divagations, and had no thought of looking for meanings which
might terrify her. He was quite conscious of his good fortune and too
well balanced to risk its loss. So Mrs. Croix might be driven to rest
her hopes on a trick of chance or a _coup de théâtre_. But she was a
very clever woman; and she was not unlike Hamilton in a quite phenomenal
precocity, and in the torrential nature of her passions.

Having a considerable knowledge of women and some of Mrs. Croix, he
inferred that sooner or later she would cease to conceal the light of
her endeavour. Nevertheless, he was taken aback to receive one day a
parcel, which, in the seclusion of his room, he found to contain a
dainty scented handkerchief, the counterpart of the one hidden in the
tree by the post road.

"Can she have put it there on purpose?" he thought. "Did she take for
granted that I would pause to admire the scenery, and that I would
recognize the perfume of her violets? Gad! she's deeper than I thought
if that be true. The wider the berth, the better!"

He gave no sign, and, as he had expected, a note arrived in due course.
It ran:--

     THE MAPLES, 8th July--4 in the morning.

     DEAR SIR: I fear I am a woman of little purpose, for I intended to
     flit here like a swallow and as noiselessly flit again,
     accomplishing a political trifle for you meanwhile, of which you
     never should be the wiser. But alas! I am tormented by the idea
     that you never _will_ know, that in this great crisis of your
     career, you think me indifferent when I understand so well your
     terrible anxieties, your need for stupendous exertion, and all that
     this convention means to this great country and to yourself; and
     heart and soul and brain, at the risk of my popularity,--that I
     love, sir,--and of a social position grudgingly acquired me, but
     which I demand by right of an inheritance of which the world knows
     less than of my elevation by Colonel Croix,--at the risk of all, I
     am here and working for you. Perhaps I love power. Perhaps this
     country with its strange unimaginable future. Perhaps I merely love
     politics, which you have glorified--perhaps--well, when we do meet,
     sir, you will avoid me no longer. Do you find me lacking in pride?
     Reflect how another woman would have pursued you with love-letters,
     persecuted you. I have exercised a restraint that has left its
     mark, not only out of pride for myself, but out of a deep
     understanding of your multitude of anxieties and interests; nor
     should I dare to think of you at all were I not so sure of my power
     to help you--now and always. Think, sir, of what such a
     partnership--of which the world should never be cognizant--would
     mean. I purpose to have a _salon_, and it shall be largely composed
     of your enemies. Not a secret but that shall yield to me, not a
     conspiracy but that you shall be able to forestall in time. I
     believe that I was born devoted to your interests. Heart and soul I
     shall be devoted to them as long as I live, and whether I am
     permitted to know you or not. I could ruin you if I chose. I feel
     that I have the power within me even for that. But God forbid! I
     should have gone mad first. But ask yourself, sir, if I could not
     be of vital assistance to your career, did we work in common. And
     ask yourself other things--and truthfully. E.C.C

     P.S. In a meeting held here last night the two generals poured
     vials of their own molten iron into the veins of the rank and file,
     belted them together in a solid bunch, vowed that you were a dealer
     in the black arts and reducing them to knaves and fools. Their
     words sank, no doubt of that. But I uprooted them, and blew them
     away. For I professed to be seized with an uncontrollable fit of
     laughter at the nonsense of forty-seven men--_the flower of the
     State_--terrified of a bare third, and of a man but just in his
     thirties. I rapidly recounted your failures in your first Congress,
     dwelling on them, harping on them; and then I stood up like a
     Chorus, and proclaimed the victories of C's career. C, who had
     scowled when I went off into hysterics, almost knelt over my hand
     at parting; and the rest departed secure in your fancied destiny,
     their waxen brains ready for your clever fingers. At least you will
     acknowledge the receipt of this, sir? Conceive my anxiety till I
     know it has not fallen into the wrong hands!

A messenger brought the note directly after breakfast, and Hamilton
hastily retreated with it to the privacy of his room. His horse awaited
him, but he read the epistle no less than four times. Once he moved
uneasily, and once he put his hand to his neck as if he felt a silken
halter. He smiled, but his face flushed deeply. Her bait, her veiled
threat, affected him little. But all that was unsaid pulled him like a
powerful magnet. He struggled for fully twenty minutes with the
temptation to ride to that paradise on the hill as fast as his horse
would carry him. But although he usually got into mischief when absent
from Betsey, contradictorily he was fonder of his wife when she was
remote; moreover, her helplessness appealed to him, and he rejected the
idea of deliberate disloyalty, even while his pulses hammered and the
spirit of romance within him moved turbulently in its long sleep. He
glanced out of the window. Beyond the tree-tops gleamed the river; above
were the hills, with their woods and grassy intervals. It was an
exquisite country, green and primeval; a moderate summer, the air warm
but electric. The nights were magnificent. Hamilton dreamed for a time,
then burned the letter in a fit of angry impatience.

"I have nothing better to do!" he thought. "Good God!"

An answer was imperative. He took a long ride first, however, then
scrawled a few hasty lines, as if he had found just a moment in which to
read her letter, but thanking her warmly for her interest and
information; ending with a somewhat conscience-stricken hope for the
instructive delight of her personal acquaintance when he should find the
leisure to be alive once more. So rested the matter for a time.


That afternoon the very memory of Eliza Croix fled before a mounted
messenger, who came tearing into town with word of Virginia's
ratification, of the great excitement in the cities of Richmond,
Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York, the processions in honour of this
important conquest. There were tales also of fray and bloodshed, in
which the Federals had retained the field; but, on the whole, the
country seemed wild with delight.

But although this news did not produce the visible effect upon the
opposition for which Hamilton had hoped, the anti-Federalist leaders
were as fearful of hurrying the matter to the final vote as the
Constitutionalists. Clinton stood like a rock, but he feared defections
at the last moment, was conscious that his dominance over the minds of
the men who had come to the Convention believing implicitly in his
doctrine that union was unnecessary, concurring in his abhorrence of the
new Constitution, was snapping daily, as Hamilton's arguments and acute
logic fermented in their clarifying brains. Many began to avoid their
chief. They talked in knots by themselves. They walked the forest roads
alone for hours, deep in thought. It was evident that Hamilton had
liberated their understandings from one autocrat, whether he had brought
them under his own despotic will or not.

There was no speaking, and little or no business for several days. A few
more amendments would be suggested, then an adjournment. It was like the
lull of the hurricane, when nervous people sit in the very centre of the
storm, awaiting the terrors of its final assault.

Hamilton had much leisure for several days, but he was too deeply
anxious to give more than a passing thought to Mrs. Croix, although he
was grateful for the help he knew she was rendering him. "If we were
Turks," he thought once, "she would be an invaluable member of a harem.
She never could fill my domestic needs, which are capacious; most
certainly I should never, at any time, have chosen her for the mother of
my children; but as an intellectual and political partner, as a
confidante and counsellor, she would appeal to me very keenly. I talk to
Betsey, dear child, because I must talk, because I have an egotistical
craving for response, but I must bore her very often, and I am not
conscious of ever having received a suggestion from her--however, God
knows I am grateful for her sympathy. As the children grow older I shall
have less and less of her; already I appreciate the difference. She will
always have the core of my soul and the fealty of my heart, but it is
rather a pity that man should be given so many sides with their
corresponding demands, if no one woman is to be found able to respond to
all. As for this remarkable creature, I could imagine myself in a state
of mad infatuation, and seeking her constantly for the delight of mental
companionship besides; but the highest and best, if I have them--oh, no!
Perhaps the Turks are wiser than we, after all, for their wives suffer
only from jealousy, while--most men being Turks on one plan or
another--the women of the more advanced races suffer from humiliation,
and are wounded in their deepest sentiments. All of which goes to prove,
that the longer I delay a meeting with this high-priestess the better."

In a day or two he was hard at work again fighting the last desperate
battle. The oppositionists had brought forward a new form of conditional
ratification, with a bill of rights prefixed, and amendments subjoined.
This, it would seem, was their proudest achievement, and, in a long and
adroit speech, Melancthon Smith announced it as their final decision.
That was at midday. Hamilton rose at once, and in one of the most
brilliant and comprehensive speeches he had yet made, demonstrated the
absurdity of conditional ratification, or the power of Congress to
indorse it. It was a close, legal, and constitutional argument, and with
the retorts of the anti-Federalists occupied two days, during which
Hamilton stood most of the time, alert, resourceful, master of every
point of the vast subject, to which he gave an almost embarrassing
simplicity. On the third day occurred his first signal triumph and the
confounding of Clinton: Melancthon Smith stood up and admitted that
Hamilton had convinced him of the impossibility of conditional
ratification. Lansing immediately offered as a substitute for the motion
withdrawn, another, by which the State ratify but reserve to itself the
right to secede after a certain number of years, unless the amendments
proposed should previously be submitted to a general convention.

Adjournment followed, and Hamilton and his leaders held a long
consultation at the Livingston mansion, as a result of which he wrote
that night to Madison, now in New York, asking his advice as to the sort
of ratification proposed by the enemy. It was a course he by no means
approved, but it seemed the less of two evils; for if, by hook or crook,
the Constitution could be forced through, the good government which
would ensue was bound to break up the party of the opposition. He had a
trump, but he hesitated to resort to a coercion so high-handed and
arbitrary. His supposed monarchical aspirations were hurled at him
daily, and he must proceed with the utmost caution, lest his future
usefulness be impaired at the outset.

Madison replied at once that such a proposition could not be considered,
for only unconditional ratification was constitutional; but before his
letter arrived Hamilton and Smith had had another hot debate, at the end
of which the anti-Federalist leader declared himself wholly beaten, and
announced his intention to vote for the unconditional acceptance of the

But although there was consternation in the ranks of the
anti-Federalists at this momentous defection, Clinton stood like an old
lion at bay, with his other leaders behind him, his wavering ranks still
coherent under his practised manipulation. For several days more the
battle raged, and on the night before what promised to be the day of the
final vote, Hamilton received a note from Mrs. Croix.

     July 24.

     DEAR SIR: The case is more desperate than you think. The weakening
     caused by the defection of the great Lieutenant has been
     counteracted in large measure by the General. His personal
     influence is enormous, his future like yours is at stake; he is
     desperate. It all rests with you. Make your great and final effort
     to-morrow. It is a wonderful responsibility, sir--the whole future
     of this country dependent upon what flows from your brain a few
     hours hence, but as you have won other great victories by efforts
     almost unprecedented, so you will win this. I am not so
     presumptuous as to write this to inspire you, merely to assure you
     of a gravity, which, after so long and energetic a contest, you
     might be disposed to underrate.

Hamilton was very grateful for this note, and answered it more warmly
than had been his habit. His friends were deep in gloomy
prognostications, for it was impossible to delay twenty-four hours
longer. He had made converts, but not enough to secure a majority; and
his followers did not conceive that even he could put forth an effort
more convincing or more splendid than many of his previous achievements.
In consequence, his susceptible nature had experienced a chill, for he
was Gallic enough to compass greater things under the stimulus of
encouragement and prospective success; but this unquestioning belief in
him by a woman for whose mind he was beginning to experience a profound
admiration, sent his quicksilver up to a point where he felt capable of
all things. She had scored one point for herself. He felt that it would
be unpardonable longer to accept such favours as she showered upon him
unsought, and make no acknowledgment beyond a civil note: he expressed
his desire to call upon her when they were both in New York once more.
"But not here in Arcadia!" he thought. "I'll call formally at her
lodgings and take Troup or Morris with me. Morris will doubtless abduct
her, and that will be the end of it."


On the following day every shop was closed in Poughkeepsie. The men,
even many of the women, stood for hours in the streets, talking little,
their eyes seldom wandering from the Court-house, many of them crowding
close to the walls, that they might catch a ringing phrase now and
again. By this time they all knew Hamilton's voice, and they confessed
to a preference for his lucid precision. In front of the Court-house,
under a tree, an express messenger sat beside his horse, saddled for a
wild dash to New York with the tidings. The excitement seemed the more
intense for the heat of the day, which half suppressed it, and all
longed for the snap of the tension.

Within the upper room of the Court-house the very air vibrated. Clinton,
who always grunted at intervals, and blew his nose stentoriously when
fervescent, was unusually aggressive. Beyond the bar men and women
stood; there was no room for chairs, nor for half that desired
admittance. In the very front stood the only woman whose superb physique
carried her through that trying day without smelling-salts or a friendly
shoulder. She was a woman with the eyes of an angel, disdainful of men,
the mouth of insatiety, the hair and skin of a Lorelei, and a patrician
profile. Her figure was long, slender, and voluptuous. Every man within
the bar offered her his chair, but she refused to sit while other women
stood; and few were the regrets at the more ample display of her

Hamilton and Lansing debated with a lively exchange of acrimonious wit.
Smith spoke in behalf of the Constitution. Then Hamilton rose for what
all felt was to be a grand final effort, and even his friends
experienced an almost intolerable excitement. On the other side men
trembled visibly with apprehension, not so much in fear of the result as
of the assault upon their nervous systems. They hardly could have felt
worse if on their way to execution, but not a man left his seat; the
fascination was too strong to induce even a desire to avoid it.

Hamilton began dispassionately enough. He went over the whole
Constitution rapidly, yet in so emphatic a manner as to accomplish the
intelligent subservience of his audience. Then, with the unexaggerated
eloquence of which he was so consummate a master, he pictured the
beauty, the happiness, the wealth of the United States under the new
Constitution; of the peace and prosperity of half a million homes; of
the uninterrupted industry of her great cities, their ramifications to
countless hamlets; of the good-will and honour of Europe; of a vast
international trade; of a restored credit at home and abroad, which
should lift the heavy clouds from the future of every ambitious man in
the Republic; of a peace between the States which would tend to the
elevation of the American character, as the bitter, petty, warring, and
perpetual jealousies had incontestably lowered it; of, for the beginning
of their experiment, at least eight years of harmony under George

He spoke for two hours in the glowing terms of a prophecy and an
optimism so alluring, that load after load seemed to roll from the
burdened minds opposite, although Clinton snorted as if about to thrust
down his head and paw the earth. When Hamilton had made his hearers
thoroughly drunk with dreams of an ecstatic future, he advanced upon
them suddenly, and, without a word of warning transition, poured upon
them so terrible a picture of the consequences of their refusal to enter
the Union, that for the first few moments they were ready to leap upon
him and wrench him apart. The assault was terrific, and he plunged on
remorselessly. He sketched the miseries of the past eleven years, the
poverty, the dangers, the dishonour, and then by the most precise and
logical deduction presented a future which, by the commonest natural and
social laws, must, without the protection of a high and central power,
be the hideous finish. The twilight came; the evening breeze was
rustling through the trees and across the sultry room. As Hamilton had
calculated, the moment came when he had his grip on the very roots of
the enemy's nerves. Chests were rising, handkerchiefs appearing. Women
fainted. Clinton blew his nose with such terrific force that the
messenger below scrambled to his feet. Hamilton waited during a
breathless moment, then charged down upon them.

"Now listen, gentlemen," he said. "No one so much as I wishes that this
Constitution be ratified to the honour of the State of New York; but
upon this I have determined: that the enlightened and patriotic minority
shall not suffer for the selfishness and obstinacy of the majority. I
therefore announce to you plainly, gentlemen, that if you do not ratify
this Constitution, with no further talk of impossible amendments and
conditions, that Manhattan Island, Westchester, and Kings counties shall
secede from the State of New York and form a State by themselves,
leaving the rest of your State without a seaport, too contemptible to
make treaties, with only a small and possibly rebellious militia to
protect her northern boundaries from the certain rapacity of Great
Britain, with the scorn and dislike of the Union, and with no hope of
assistance from the Federal Government, which is assured, remember, no
matter what her straits. That is all."

It was enough. He had won the day. The Constitution was ratified without
further parley.


Hamilton reëntered New York to the blaze of bonfires, the salute of
cannon, and the deafening shouts of a multitude that escorted him to his
doorway. Betsey was so proud of him she hardly could speak for a day,
and his library was flooded with letters of congratulation from all
parts of the Union. For several days he shut himself up with his family
and a few friends, for he needed the rest; and the relaxation was
paradisal. He played marbles and spun tops with his oldest boys, and
dressed and undressed Angelica's doll as often as his imperious daughter
commanded. Troup and Fish, now the dignified Adjutant-General of State,
with his bang grown long and his hair brushed back, spent hours with him
in the heavy shades of the garden, or tormenting a monkey on the other
side of the fence. Madison came at once to wrangle with him over the
temporary seat of government, and demanded the spare bedroom, protesting
he had too much to say to waste time travelling back and forth. He was a
welcome guest; and he, too, sat on the floor and dressed Angelica's

The city was _en fête_, and little business was transacted except at the
public houses. Bands of citizens awoke Hamilton from his sleep, shouting
for "Alexander the Great." Anti-Federalists got so drunk that they
embraced the Federalists, and sang on Hamilton's doorstep. The hero
retreated to the back room on the top floor. The climax came on the 5th
of August, in the great procession, with which, after the fashion of
other triumphant cities, New York was to demonstrate in honour of the
victory of the Constitution.

But, unlike its predecessors, this procession was as much in honour of
one man as of the triumph of a great principle. To have persuaded New
York, at that time, that Hamilton had not written the Constitution, and
secured its ratification in the eleven States of the Union by his
unaided efforts, would have been a dissipation of energy in August which
even Clinton would not have attempted. To them Hamilton was the
Constitution, Federalism, the genius of the new United States. And he
was their very own. "Virginia has her Madison," they reiterated,
"Massachusetts her Adamses--and may she keep them and be damned; other
States may think they have produced a giant, and those that do not can
fall back on Washington; but Hamilton is ours, we adore him, we are so
proud of him we are like to burst, and we can never express our
gratitude, try as we may; so we'll show him an honour that no other
State has thought of showing to any particular man."

And of the sixth of New York's thirty thousand inhabitants that turned
out on that blazing August day and marched for hours, that all the
eager city might see, at least two-thirds bore a banner emblazoned with
Hamilton's portrait or name, held on high. The procession was
accompanied by a military escort; and every profession, every trade, was
represented. A large proportion of the men who marched were gentlemen.
Nicolas Fish was on the staff of the grand marshal, with six of his
friends. Robert Troup and two other prominent lawyers bore, on a
cushion, the new Constitution, magnificently engrossed. Nicolas Cruger,
Hamilton's old employer, again a resident of New York, led the farmers,
driving a plough drawn by three yoke of oxen. Baron Polnitz displayed
the wonders of the newly perfected threshing-machine. John Watts, a man
who had grown gray in the highest offices of New York, before and since
the Revolution, guided a harrow, drawn by horses and oxen. The
president, regents, professors, and students of Columbia College, all in
academic dress, were followed by the Chamber of Commerce and the members
of the bar. The many societies, led by the Cincinnati, followed, each
bearing an appropriate banner.

And in the very centre of that pageant, gorgeous in colour and costume,
from the green of the foresters to the white of the florists, was the
emblazoned on every side of it. In the memory of the youngest present
there was to be but one other procession in New York so imposing, and
that, too, was in honour of Hamilton.

He stood on a balcony in the Broadway, with his family, Madison, Baron
Steuben, and the Schuylers, bowing constantly to the salutes and cheers.
Nicolas Cruger looked up and grinned. Fish winked decorously, and Troup
attempted a salaam, and nearly dropped the Constitution. But Hamilton's
mind served him a trick for a moment; the vivid procession, with his
face and name fluttering above five thousand heads, the compact mass of
spectators, proud and humble, that crowded the pavements and waved their
handkerchiefs toward him, the patriotically decorated windows filled
with eager, often beautiful, faces, disappeared, and he stood in front
of Cruger's store on Bay Street, with his hands in his linen pockets,
gazing out over a blinding glare of water, passionately wishing for the
war-ship which never came, to deliver him from his Island prison and
carry him to the gates of the real world beyond. He had been an
ambitious boy, but nothing in his imaginings had projected him to the
dizzy eminence on which he stood to-day. He was recalled by the salute
of the Federal ship's thirteen guns to the president of the Congress and
its members, who stood on the fort in the Battery.

After all, perhaps it was the proudest and the happiest day of his
career, for the depths in his nature still slumbered, the triumph was
without alloy; and he knew that there were other heights to scale, and
that he should scale them. It was the magnificent and spontaneous
tribute of an intelligent people to an enlightened patriotism, to years
of severe and unselfish thought; and hardly an enemy grudged him his
deserts. The wild feeling of exultant triumph which surged behind his
smiling face receded before the rising swell of the profoundest
gratitude he had ever known.

The day finished with a great banquet at Mr. Bayard's country-seat, near
Grand Street, where tables were spread for six thousand persons, in a
pavilion surmounted by an image of Fame, and decorated with the colours
of the nations that had formed treaties with the United States. Later,
there was a grand display of fireworks.


On the following day Hamilton went to Albany to march at the head of a
Federal procession with General Schuyler, then returned to
"Hamiltonopolis" and such legal work as he was permitted to accomplish;
for not only were leaders consulting him on every possible question from
the coming elections to the proper seat for the new government, and his
duties as a member of Congress pressing, but Edward Stevens, now
established as a doctor in Philadelphia, paid him a visit of a week, and
they talked the night through of St. Croix and old times. One of the
pleasantest results of these years of supremacy was the unqualified
delight of his Island friends. Hugh Knox was so proud of him, and of
himself and the debt which Hamilton acknowledged, that he wrote
explosive reams describing the breathless interest of St. Croix in his
career, and of the distinguished gatherings at the Governor's when he
arrived with one of their lost citizen's infrequent epistles. Mrs.
Mitchell, poor soul, wrote pathetically that she would no longer regret
his loss could she love him less. Hamilton wrote to her as often as he
could find the time, and Betsey selected a present for her several times
a year. Gratitude is the privilege of a great soul, and Hamilton had a
full measure of it. Even his father and brother wrote occasionally,
respectfully, if with no great warmth; and if their congratulations were
usually accompanied by the experimental sigh of poverty, Hamilton was
glad to respond, for at this period he was making a good deal of money.

His promised bow to Mrs. Croix he deferred from day to day, pleading to
himself the pressure of work, which was submerging; but while he
reproached himself for ingratitude, he knew that he dreaded the meeting:
the old spirit of adventure within him, long quiescent, tapped
alluringly on the doors of his prudence. That she did not write again,
even to congratulate him as other friends had done, but added to his
discomfort, for he knew that her pride was now in arms, and that she
must be deeply wounded. He heard of her constantly, and at the
procession in his honour he had seen her, leaning on the arm of General
Knox, a dazzling, but angelic vision in blue and white, at which even
the bakers, wig-makers, foresters, tanners, and printers had turned to
stare. One of the latter had leaped down from the moving platform on
which he was printing a poem of occasion by William Duer, and begged her
on his knee to deign to receive a copy. She held weekly receptions,
which were attended by two-thirds of the leading men in town, and
Hamilton's intimate friends discoursed of her constantly. Croix was
supposed to have been seized with a passion for travelling in savage
jungles, and it was the general belief that his death would be
announced as soon as the lady should find it convenient to go into
mourning. It was plain to the charitable that he had left her with
plenty of money, for she dressed like the princess she looked, and her
entertainments lacked no material attraction. The gossip was more
furious than ever, but the most assiduous scandal-monger could connect
no one man with her name, nor trace her income to other than its reputed
source. More than once Hamilton had passed her coach, and she had bowed
gravely, with neither challenge nor reproach in her sweet haughty eyes.
After these quick passings Hamilton usually gave her a few moments of
intense thought. He marvelled at her curious intimate knowledge of him,
not only of the less known episodes of his career, but of more than one
of his mental processes. It is true, she might have led Troup or Fish
into gossip and analysis, but her sympathy counted heavily. She drew him
by many strings, and sometimes the response thrilled him unbearably. He
felt like a man who stood outside the gates of Paradise, bolting them
fast. Still, he could quite forget her in his work; and it is probable
that but for chance he never would have met her, that one of the
greatest disasters in history would have been averted.

Betsey, who had not been well for some time, went to the northern
forests of her old home to strive for "spring" and colour. She took the
children with her, and Hamilton, who hated to live alone, filled his
deserted rooms with Troup, Fish, and Baron Steuben, whose claims he had
been pressing upon Congress for years, practically supporting him
meanwhile. The old soldier felt keenly the ingratitude of the country he
had served, but in time it made him ample compensation; meanwhile the
devotion of a few friends, and the lionizing of society, helped him to
bear his lot with considerable fortitude. He spent hours in the nursery
of the little Hamiltons, and was frequently seen in the Broadway with
one in his arms and the other three attached to his person.

All the talk was of Washington and the first administration, Hamilton
having carried his point in Congress that New York should be the
temporary seat of government; there was jealousy and wrangling over
this, as over most other matters involving state pride, but Hamilton
believed that should the prize fall to Philadelphia, she would not
relinquish it as lightly as New York, which geographically was the more
unfit for a permanent gathering, and that the inconvenience to which
most of the members, in those days of difficult travel over a vast area,
would be subjected, would force them the sooner to agree upon a central
and commonly agreeable locality,--one, moreover, which would not meet
with the violent opposition of New York. Madison, who had been in favour
of Philadelphia, finally acknowledged Hamilton's sagacity and gave him
his influence and vote.

That point settled, all eyes were turned to Mount Vernon. The masses
took for granted that Washington would respond to every call of duty the
public chose to make, and it was inconceivable that anyone else should
fill the first term of that great executive experiment. The universal
confidence in Washington and belief that he was to guide the
Constitution over the more critical of its shoals, had operated more
than any other factor in the ratification of that adventurous
instrument. It was a point upon which Hamilton had harped continually.
That a whole country should turn, as a matter of course, to a man whom
they revered for his virtues rather than for any brilliant parts he may
have effectually hidden within his cold and silent exterior, their
harmonious choice unbroken by an argument against the safety and dignity
of the country in the hands of such a man, certainly is a manifest of
the same elevation of tone that we infer from the great popularity of
the writings of Hamilton and the deference to such men as Jay and Philip
Schuyler. But although they had all the faults of human nature, our
forefathers, and were often selfish and jealous to a degree that
imperilled the country, at least they had the excuse, not only of being
mere mortals, but of living in an era of such changes, uncertainty, and
doubt, that public and private interests seemed hopelessly tangled.
They were not debased by political corruption until Jefferson took them
in hand, and sowed the bountiful crop which has fattened so vast and so
curious a variation upon the original American.

The Federal leaders by no means shared the confidence of the people in
Washington's response to their call, and they were deeply uneasy. They
knew that he had been bombarded with letters for a year, urging upon him
the acceptance of the great office which would surely be offered him,
and that he had replied cautiously to each that he could not share their
opinion of his indispensability, that he had earned the repose he loved
after a lifetime spent in the service of his country, and had no desire
to return to public life. Hamilton, at least, knew the motive that lay
behind his evasion; without ambition, he was very jealous of his fame.
That fame now was not only one of the most resplendent in history, but
as unassailable as it was isolated. He feared the untried field in which
he might fail.

One evening, late in September, as Hamilton and his temporary household
were entering the dining room, Gouverneur Morris drove down Wall Street
in his usual reckless fashion, scattering dogs and children, and pulling
his nervous sweating horses almost to their haunches, as he reached
Hamilton's door. As he entered the house, however, and received the
enthusiastic welcome to which he was accustomed, his bearing was as
unruffled as if he had walked down from Morrisania reading a breviary.

"I grow desperately lonely and bored out on my ancestral domain, and
long for the glare and glitter, the intrigues and women, of Europe--our
educated ones are so virtuous, and the others write such shockingly
ungrammatical notes," he announced, as he took his seat at the board.
"Educated virtue is beneficial for the country, but we will all admit
that politics are our only excitement, and my blood dances when I think
of Europe. However, I did not come tearing through the woods on a hot
night to lament the virtue of the American woman. I've written to
Washington, and he won't listen to me. We all know how many others have
written, including Lafayette, I hear. And we all know what the
consequences will be if--say John or Sam Adams, Hancock, or Clinton
should be our first president. I long for Paris, but I cannot leave the
country while she is threatened with as grave a peril as any that has
beset her. Would that he had a grain of ambition--of anything that a
performer upon the various chords of human nature could impress. I
suppose if he were not so desperately perfect, we should not be in the
quandary we are, but he would be far easier to manage. As I awoke from
my siesta just two hours ago, my brain was illuminated by the idea that
one man alone could persuade him; and that was Alexander Hamilton. He
likes us, but he loves you. If he has a weak spot, it has yearned over
you since you were our infant prodigy in uniform, with your curls in
your eyes. You must take him in hand."

"I have mentioned it to him, when writing of other things."

"He is only too glad of the excuse to evade a mere mention. You must
write to him as peremptorily as only you dare to write to that majestic
presence. Don't mince it. Don't be too respectful--I was, because he is
the one being I am afraid of. So are all the others. Besides, you have
the most powerful and pointed pen in this country. We have spoiled you
until you are afraid of no one--if you ever were. And you know him as no
one else does; you will approach him from precisely the right sides.
Your duty is clear, and the danger is appalling. Besides, I want to go
to Europe. Promise me that you will write to-night."

"Very well," said Hamilton, laughing. "I promise." And, in truth, his
mind had opened at once to the certainty that the time was come for him
to make the final effort to insure Washington's acceptance. He had felt,
during the last weeks, as if burrowing in the very heart of a mountain
of work; but his skin chilled as he contemplated the opening of the new
government without Washington in the presidential Chair.

Two hours after dinner Morris escorted him to the library and shut him
in, then went, with his other friends, to Fraunces' tavern, and the
house was quiet. Hamilton's thoughts arranged themselves rapidly, and
before midnight he had finished his letter. Fortunately it has been
preserved, for it is of as vital an interest as anything he ever wrote,
not only because it was the determining factor in Washington's
acceptance of an office toward which he looked with reluctance and
dread, but because of its consummate sagacity and of its peremptory
tone, which no man but Hamilton would have dared to assume to

It ran:--

     NEW YORK, September, 1788.

     ... I should be deeply pained, my dear sir, if your scruples in
     regard to a certain station should be matured into a resolution to
     decline it; though I am neither surprised at their existence, nor
     can I but agree in opinion, that the caution you observe in
     deferring an ultimate determination, is prudent. I have, however,
     reflected maturely on the subject, and have come to a conclusion
     (in which I feel no hesitation), that every public and personal
     consideration will demand from you an acquiescence in what will
     _certainly_ be the unanimous wish of your country. The absolute
     retreat which you meditated at the close of the late war was
     natural, and proper. Had the Government produced by the Revolution
     gone on in a _tolerable_ train, it would have been most advisable
     to have persisted in that retreat. But I am clearly of opinion that
     the crisis which brought you again into public view, left you no
     alternative but to comply; and I am equally clear in the opinion,
     that you are by that act _pledged_ to take a part in the execution
     of the Government. I am not less convinced, that the impression of
     this necessity of your filling the station in question is so
     universal, that you run no risk of any uncandid imputation by
     submitting to it. But even if this were not the case, a regard to
     your own reputation, as well as to the public good, calls upon you
     in the strongest manner, to run that risk.

     It cannot be considered as a compliment to say, that on your
     acceptance of the office of President, the success of the new
     Government, in its commencement, may materially depend. Your agency
     and influence will be not less important in preserving it from the
     future attacks of its enemies, than they have been in recommending
     it, in the first instance, to the adoption of the people.
     Independent of all considerations drawn from this source, the point
     of light in which you stand at home and abroad will make an
     infinite difference in the respectability with which the Government
     will begin its operations, in the alternative of your being or not
     being at the head of it. I forbear to urge considerations which
     might have a more personal application. What I have said will
     suffice for the inferences I mean to draw.

     First. In a matter so essential to the well being of society, as
     the prosperity of a newly instituted government, a citizen, of so
     much consequence as yourself to its success, has no option but to
     lend his services if called for. Permit me to say it would be
     inglorious, in such a situation, not to hazard the glory, however
     great, which he might have previously acquired.

     Secondly. Your signature to the proposed system pledges your
     judgement for its being such an one as, upon the whole, was worthy
     of the public approbation. If it should miscarry (as men commonly
     decide from success, or the want of it), the blame will, in all
     probability, be laid on the system itself; and the framers of it
     will have to encounter the disrepute of having brought about a
     revolution in government, without substituting anything that was
     worthy of the effort. They pulled down one Utopia, it will be said,
     to build up another. This view of the subject, if I mistake not, my
     dear sir, will suggest to your mind greater hazard to that fame,
     which must be and ought to be dear to you, in refusing your future
     aid to the system, than in affording it. I will only add, that in
     my estimate of the matter, that aid is indispensable.

     I have taken the liberty to express these sentiments, and to lay
     before you my view of the subject. I doubt not the considerations
     mentioned have fully occurred to you, and I trust they will finally
     produce in your mind the same result which exists in mine. I
     flatter myself the frankness with which I have delivered myself
     will not be displeasing to you. It has been prompted by motives
     which you could not disapprove. I remain, my dear sir,

     With the sincerest respect and regard,

     Your obedient and humble servant,



Hamilton folded and sealed the letter, then determined to take it to the
post-office himself. The night was hot and his head was throbbing: he
had worked, dined, wined, talked, and written, since eight in the
morning, with no interval for fresh air or exercise. He was not tired,
but very nervous, and after he had disposed of his letter, he set off
for a stroll along the river front, and walked for two miles up the
quiet road on the east side, listening to the lap of the water, and
pausing to watch the superb effect of the moonlight on the bright
ripples and on the wooded heights of Long Island. The little village of
Brooklyn twinkled here and there for a time, then lay like a sombre
shadow in the silences of her forest. As he returned, there was not a
light anywhere, except now and again at a masthead, for it was very
late. The clock in Trinity steeple struck one as he reëntered the town.
He moved through the narrow dark and crooked streets with a lagging
step, although he had walked briskly for the past hour. There seemed to
be no sleep in him, and the idea of his quiet room was an irritation.

"That woman is on my nerves," he thought. "I've written a letter
to-night that may bridge this country over another crisis, and I should
be sleeping the sleep of the self-sufficient statesman, or at least
excogitating upon weighty matters; and for the last hour I've given no
thought to anything but an unknown woman, who has electrified my
imagination and my passions. Is there, perhaps, more safety in meeting
her and laying the ghost? Imagination plays us such damnable tricks. She
may have a raucous voice, or too sharp a wit; or she may love another by
this. I'll ask Nick to take me there to-morrow."

The drawing-room windows of the dwellings were but a few feet above the
ground, and many of them abutted on the pavement. The narrow street was
almost dark, in spite of the moonlight, but Hamilton saw that some one
sat at a lower window but a few feet ahead of him. It was a woman, for
her arm hung over the sill There was nothing to arrest his attention in
the circumstance, beyond the vague beauty of the arm and hand, for on
these dog nights many sat at their windows until the chill of early
morning; but he suddenly remembered that he was in Pearl Street. For a
moment he meditated retreat; with no enthusiasm, however. He shrugged
his shoulders and walked on, but his breath was short. As he approached
he could see that she was watching him, although her face was almost
invisible. He paused beneath the window, half in defiance, his eyes
striving to pierce the heavy shade of the room. The hand closed abruptly
about the lower part of his face. It trembled, but there was as much
determination as warmth in the finger tips; and he seemed to have been
transported suddenly to a field of violets.


"Nick," said Hamilton, a few evenings later as they were peeling
walnuts, "This is the night on which Mrs. Croix receives, is it not? Do
you attend? I will go with you. The lady has kindly been at pains to let
me know that I shall not be unwelcome."

Troup pushed back his plate abruptly, and Baron Steuben burst into a
panegyric. Fish replied that he had not intended to go, but should
change his mind for the sake of the sensation he must create with such a
lion in tow. He left the table shortly after, to dress, followed by
Steuben, who announced his intention to make one of the party. The host
and Troup were left alone.

"What is the matter?" asked Hamilton, smiling. "I see you disapprove of
something. Surely you have not lost your heart--"

"Nonsense," exclaimed Troup, roughly, "but I have always hoped you would
never meet her."

"_Have_ you?"

"If you want to know the truth she has pumped me dry about you. She did
it so adroitly that it was some time before I discovered what she was up
to. At first I wondered if she were a spy, and I changed my first mind
to avoid her, determined to get to the bottom of her motives. I soon
made up my mind that she was in love with you, and then I began to
tremble, for she is not only a very witch of fascination, but she has
about forty times more power of loving, or whatever she chooses to call
it, than most women, and every mental attraction and fastidious
refinement, besides. There is not a good woman in the country that could
hold her own against her. I have no wish to slander her, and have never
discussed her before; but my instincts are strong enough to teach me
that a woman whose whole exterior being is a promise, will be driven by
the springs of that promise to redeem her pledges. And the talk of you
banishes all that regal calm from her face and lets the rest loose. I
suppose I am a fool to tell you this, but I've been haunted by the idea
from the first that if you know this woman, disaster will come of it. I
do not mean any old woman's presentiment, but from what I know of her
nature and yours. You do astonishingly few erratic things for a genius,
but in certain conditions you are unbridled, and my only hope has been
that the lightning in you would strike at random without doing much
harm--to you, at all events. But this volcano has a brain in it, and
great force of character. She will either consume you, ruining your
career, or if you attempt to leave her she will find some way to ruin
you still. God knows I'm no moralist, but I am jealous for your genius
and your future. This has been a long speech. I hope you'll forgive it."

Hamilton had turned pale, and he hacked at the mahogany with the point
of his knife. He made no attempt to laugh off Troup's attack, Troup
watched him until he turned pale himself. "You have met her," he said

Hamilton rose and pushed back his chair. "I promise you one thing," he
said: "that if I happen to lose my nethermost to Mrs. Croix, the world
shall never be the wiser. That I explicitly promise you. I dislike
extremely the position in which I put the lady by these words, but you
will admit that they mean nothing, that I am but striving to allay your
fears--which I know to be genuine. She will probably flout me. I shall
probably detest her conversation. But should the contrary happen, should
she be what you suspect, and should a part of my nature which has never
been completely accommodated, annihilate a resistance of many months, at
least you have my assurance that worse shall not happen."

Troup groaned. "You have so many sides to satisfy! Would that you could
have your truly phenomenal versatility of mind with a sweet simplicity
of character. But we are not in the millennium. And as you have not the
customary failings of genius,--ingratitude, morbidity, a disposition to
prevaricate, a lack of common-sense, selfishness, and
irresponsibility,--it is easy for us to forgive you the one inevitable
weakness. Come to me if you get into trouble. She'd have no mercy at my
hands. I'd wring her neck."

Many people were at their country-seats, but politics kept a number of
men in town, and for this political and wholly masculine _salon_ of Mrs.
Croix, Gouverneur Morris drove down from Morrisania, Robert Livingston
from Clermont; Governor Clinton had made it convenient to remain a day
longer in New York. Dr. Franklin had been a guest of my lady for the
past two days. They were all, with the exception of Clinton, in the
drawing-room, when Hamilton, Steuben and Fish arrived; and several of
the Crugers, Colonel Duer, General Knox, Mayor Duane, Melancthon Smith,
Mr. Watts, Yates, Lansing, and a half-dozen lesser lights. Mrs. Croix
sat in the middle of the room, and her chair being somewhat higher and
more elaborate than its companions, suggested a throne: Madame de Staël
set the fashion in many affectations which were not long travelling to
America. In the house, Mrs. Croix discarded the hoopskirt, and the
classic folds of her soft muslin gown revealed a figure as superb in
contour as it was majestic in carriage. Her glittering hair was in a
tower, and the long oval of her face gave to this monstrous head-dress
an air of proportion. Her brows and lashes were black, her eyes the
deepest violet that ever man had sung, childlike when widely opened, but
infinitely various with a drooping lash. The nose was small and
aquiline, fine and firm, the nostril thin and haughty. The curves of her
mouth included a short upper lip, a full under one, and a bend at the
corners. There was a deep cleft in the chin. Technically her hair was
auburn; when the sun flooded it her admirers vowed they counted twenty
shades of red, yellow, sorrel, russet, and gold. Even under the soft
rays of the candles it was crisp with light and colour. The dazzling
skin and soft contours hid a jaw that denoted both strength and
appetite, and her sweet gracious manner gave little indication of her
imperious will, independent mind, and arrogant intellect. She looked to
be twenty-eight, but was reputed to have been born in 1769. For women so
endowed years have little meaning. They are born with what millions of
their sex never acquire, a few with the aid of time and experience only.
Nature had fondly and diabolically equipped her to conquer the world, to
be one of its successes; and so she was to the last of her ninety-six
years. Her subsequent career was as brilliant in Europe as it had been,
and was to be again, in America. In Paris, Lafayette was her sponsor,
and she counted princes, cardinals, and nobles among her conquests, and
died in the abundance of wealth and honours. If her sins found her out,
they surprised her in secret only. To the world she gave no sign, and
carried an unbroken spirit and an unbowed head into a vault which looks
as if not even the trump of Judgement Day could force its marble doors
to open and its secrets to come forth. But those doors closed behind her
seventy-seven years later, when the greatest of her victims had been
dust half a century, and many others were long since forgotten.
To-night, in her glorious triumphant womanhood she had no thought of
vaults in the cold hillside of Trinity, and when Hamilton entered the
room, she rose and courtesied deeply. Then, as he bent over her hand:
"At last! Is it you?" she exclaimed softly. "Has this honour indeed come
to my house? I have waited a lifetime, sir, and I took pains to assure
you long since of a welcome."

"Do not remind me of those wretched wasted months," replied Hamilton,
gallantly, and Dr. Franklin nodded with approval. "Be sure, madam, that
I shall risk no reproaches in the future."

She passed him on in the fashion of royalty, and was equally gracious to
Steuben and Fish, although she did not courtesy. The company, which had
been scattered in groups, the deepest about the throne of the hostess,
immediately converged and made Hamilton their common centre. Would
Washington accept? Surely he must know. Would he choose to be addressed
as "His Serene Highness," "His High Mightiness," or merely as
"Excellency"? Would so haughty an aristocrat lend himself agreeably to
the common forms of Republicanism, even if he had refused a crown, and
had been the most jealous guardian of the liberties of the American
people? An aristocrat is an aristocrat, and doubtless he would observe
all the rigid formalities of court life. Most of those present heartily
hoped that he would. They, too, were jealous of their liberties, but had
no yearning toward a republican simplicity, which, to their minds,
savoured of plebianism. Socially they still were royalists, whatever
their politics, and many a coat of arms was yet in its frame.

"Of course Washington will be our first President," replied Hamilton,
who was prepared to go to Mount Vernon, if necessary. "I have had no
communication from him on the subject, but he would obey the command of
public duty if he were on his death-bed. His reluctance is natural, for
his life has been a hard one in the field, and his tastes are those of a
country gentleman,--tastes which he has recently been permitted to
indulge to the full for the first time. Moreover, he is so modest that
it is difficult to make him understand that no other man is to be
thought of for these first difficult years. When he does, there is no
more question of his acceptance than there was of his assuming the
command of the army. As for titles they come about as a matter of
course, and it is quite positive that Washington, although a Republican,
will never become a Democrat. He is a grandee and will continue to live
like one, and the man who presumes to take a liberty with him is lost."

Mrs. Croix, quite forgotten, leaned back in her chair, a smile
succeeding the puzzled annoyance of her eyes. In this house her words
were the jewels for which this courtly company scrambled, but Hamilton
had not been met abroad for weeks, and from him there was always
something to learn; whereas from even the most brilliant of women--she
shrugged her shoulders; and her eyes, as they dwelt on Hamilton,
gradually filled with an expression of idolatrous pride. The new delight
of self-effacement was one of the keenest she had known.

The bombardment continued. The Vice-President? Whom should Hamilton
support? Adams? Hancock? Was it true that there was a schism in the
Federal party that might give the anti-Federalists, with Clinton at
their head, a chance for the Vice-Presidency at least? Who would be
Washington's advisers besides himself? Would the President have a
cabinet? Would Congress sanction it? Whom should he want as confreres,
and whom in the Senate to further his plans? Whom did he favour as
Senators and Representatives from New York? Could this rage for
amendments be stopped? What was to be the fate of the circular letter?
Was all danger of a new Constitutional Convention well over? What about
the future site of the Capital--would the North get it, or the South?

All these, the raging questions of the day, it took Hamilton the greater
part of the evening to answer or parry, but he deftly altered his orbit
until he stood beside Mrs. Croix, the company before her shrine. He had
encountered her eyes, but although he knew the supreme surrender of
women in the first stages of passion, he also understood the vanities
and weaknesses of human nature too well not to apprehend a chill of the
affections under too prolonged a mortification.

Clinton entered at midnight; and after almost bending his gouty knee to
the hostess, whom he had never seen in such softened yet dazzling
beauty, he measured Hamilton for a moment, then laughed and held out his

"You are a wonderful fighter," he said, "and you beat me squarely. We'll
meet in open combat again and again, no doubt of it, and I hope we will,
for you rouse all my mettle; but I like you, sir, I like you. I can't
help it."

Hamilton, at that time of his life the most placable of men, had shaken
his hand heartily. "And I so esteem and admire you, sir," he answered
warmly, "that I would I could convert you, for your doctrines are bound
to plunge this country into civil war sooner or later. The Constitution
has given the States just four times more power than is safe in their
hands; but if we could establish a tradition at this early stage of the
country's history that it was the duty of the States always to consider
the Union first and themselves as grateful assistants to a hard-working
and paternal central power, we might do much to counteract an evil
which, if coddled, is bound to result in a trial of strength."

"That is the first time I ever heard you croak, except in a public
speech where you had a point to gain," said Livingston. "Do you mean

"What of it?" asked Clinton. "Under Mr. Hamilton's constitution--for if
it be not quite so monarchical as the one he wanted, it has been saddled
upon the United States through his agency more than through any other
influence or group of influences--I say, that under Mr. Hamilton's
constitution all individualism is lost. We are to be but the component
parts of a great machine which will grind us as it lists. Had we
remained thirteen independent and sovereign States, with a tribunal for
what little common legislation might be necessary, then we might have
built up a great and a unique nation; but under what is little better
than an absolute monarchy all but a small group of men are bound to live
and die nonentities."

"But think of the excited competition for a place in that group," said
Hamilton, laughing. The disappointed Governor's propositions were not
worthy of serious argument.

"I do not think it is as bad as that, your Excellency," said Dr.
Franklin, mildly. "I should have favoured a somewhat loose
Confederation, as you know, but the changes and the development of this
country will be so great that there will be plenty of room for
individualism; indeed, it could not be suppressed. And after a careful
study of this instrument that you are to live under--my own time is so
short that my only rôle now is that of the prophet--I fail to see
anything of essential danger to the liberties of the American people. I
may say that the essays of "The Federalist" would have reassured me on
this point, had I still doubted. I read them again the other week. The
proof is there, I think, that the Constitution, if rigidly interpreted
and lived up to, must prove a beneficent if stern parent to those who
dwell under it."

Clinton shrugged his shoulders. "I would I could share your optimism,"
he said. "What a picture have we! The most venerable statesman in the
country finding some hope for individual liberty in this Constitution;
the youngest, an optimist by nature and habit, sanguine by youth and
temperament, trembling for the powers it may confer upon a people too
democratically inclined. This is true, sir--is it not?"

"Yes," said Hamilton. "Democracy is a poison, just as Republicanism is
the ideal of all self-respecting men. I would do all I could to vitalize
the one and nullify the other. The spirit of democracy exists already,
no doubt of it. If we could suppress it in time, we should also suppress
the aspirations of encouraged plebianism,--a dangerous factor in any
republic. It means the mixing of ignoble blood with good, a gradual
lowering of ideals until a general level of sordidness, individualism in
its most selfish and self-seeking form, and political corruption, are
the inevitable results. You, your Excellency, are an autocrat. It is odd
that your principles should coincide so closely with the despotism of

"Oh, I can't argue with you!" exclaimed Clinton, impatiently. "No one
can. That is the reason you beat us when we clearly were in the right.
What says Madam? She is our oracle." "If she would but bring him under
her foot!" he said to Yates. "She is heart and soul with us. I augur
well that he is here at last."

"It is long since our fairy queen has spoken," Franklin was saying;
gallant to all women, he was prostrate before this one. "Her genius
directs her to the most hidden kernels."

"What do you wish?" she asked lightly. "A prophecy? I am no Cassandra.
Unlike Dr. Franklin, I am too selfish to care what may happen when I am
dead. At this date we are assured of two elements in government:
unselfish patriotism and common-sense. There never has been a nobler nor
a more keenly intelligent group of men in public life than General
Washington will be able to command as assistants in forming a
government. And should our Governor lead his own party to victory," she
added, turning to Clinton with so brilliant a smile that it dissipated a
gathering scowl, "it would be quite the same. The determined struggle
of the weaker party for the rights which only supremacy can insure them
is often misconstrued as selfishness; and power leads their higher
qualities as well as their caution and conservatism to victory. I am a
philosopher. I disapproved the Constitution, and loved the idea of
thirteen little sovereignties; but I bow to the Inevitable and am
prepared to love the Constitution. The country has too much to
accomplish, too much to recover from, to waste time arguing what might
have been; it is sure to settle down into as complacent a philosophy as
my own, and adjust itself to its new and roomy crinoline."

"Crinoline is the word," growled Clinton, who accepted her choice of
words as a subtle thrust at Hamilton. "It is rigid. Wherever you move it
will move with you and bound your horizon."

"Oh, well, you know," said Hamilton, who was tired of the conversation,
"like a crinoline it can always be broken."


Washington was President of the United States. He had come over grandly
from the Jersey shore in a magnificent barge manned by twelve oarsmen in
white uniform, escorted by other barges but a shade less imposing. A
week later he had taken the oath of office on the new Broad Street
gallery of Federal Hall, amidst the breathless silence of thousands,
surrounded by the dignitaries of state and three personal friends,
Hamilton, Steuben, and Knox. The anti-Federalists were crushed, no
longer of dignity as a party, although with ample resources for
obstruction and annoyance. The country, after an interval of rejoicing,
had settled down to another period of hope and anxiety.

And Hamilton had incurred the dislike of Adams and the hostility of the
Livingstons. He had thought it best to scatter the votes for the
Vice-President, lest there be the slightest risk of Washington's defeat;
and Adams who thought quite as much of himself as he did of George
Washington, and had expected to be elected with little less than
unanimity, instead of by a bare thirty-four votes, never forgave
Hamilton the humiliation. "I have seen the utmost delicacy used toward
others," he wrote to a friend, "but my feelings have never been
regarded." He knew that Hamilton believed him to have been in sympathy
with the Conway Cabal,--a suspicion of which he never cleared
himself,--and attributed to the Federal leader the motive of wishing to
belittle his political significance, lest he should endeavour to use his
power as President of the Senate to hamper and annoy the Administration.
Perhaps he was right. Far be it from anyone to attempt a journey through
the utmost recesses of Hamilton's mind. He was frank by nature and
habit, but he had resolved that the United States government should
succeed, and had no mind to put weapons into the hands of Washington's
rivals. He believed in Adams's general integrity, patriotism, and
federalism, however, and brought him to power in his own fashion. He
achieved his objects with little or no thought of personal consequences;
and although this has been characterized as one of the great political
mistakes of his career, it must be remembered that it was a time for
nervousness and exaggerated fears. Washington had enemies; no other man
was believed, by the men who did the thinking for the country, to be
able to hold the United States together until they were past their
shoals, and the method of election was precarious: each elector casting
two votes without specification, the higher office falling to the
candidate who received the larger number of votes.

The Livingstons had desired a seat in the Senate of the new Congress for
one of their powerful family, and Hamilton had given the prize to Rufus
King. No gift could have been more justly bestowed; but the Livingstons
felt themselves flouted, their great services to the country unrewarded.
Their open hostility roused all the haughty arrogance of Hamilton's
nature, and he made no effort to placate them. When the great office of
Chief Justice of the United States was given to John Jay, instead of to
Robert Livingston, they attributed the discrimination to Hamilton's
influence over Washington; and the time came when this strong and
hostile faction lent themselves to the scheming of one of the subtlest
politicians that has ever lived.

The contest for the prizes of the two Houses had been hot and bitter,
and Hamilton had never been more active. As a result, the Federalists
controlled the Senate, and they had elected four of the six
Representatives. Philip Schuyler had drawn the short term in the Senate,
and the antagonism of the Livingstons to Hamilton enabled Burr to
displace him two years later. The signal mistakes of Hamilton's
political career were in his party management. One of the greatest
leaders in history, cool and wise, and of a consummate judgement in all
matters of pure statesmanship, he was too hot-headed and impetuous, too
obstinate when his righting blood was up, for the skilful manipulation
of politics. But so long as the Federal party endured, no other leader
was contemplated: his integrity was spotless, his motives unquestioned,
his patriotism and stupendous abilities the glory of his party; by sheer
force of genius he carried everything before him, whether his methods
were approved by the more conservative Federalists or not.

Madison, who mildly desired an office, possibly in the Cabinet, he
despatched South to get himself elected to Congress, for he must have
powerful friends in that body to support the great measures he had in
contemplation; and that not unambitious statesman, after a hot fight
with Patrick Henry, was obliged to content himself with a seat in the
House. Before he went to Virginia he and Hamilton had talked for long
and pleasant hours over the Federal leader's future schemes. In all
things he was in accord with his Captain, and had warmly promised his

It was some weeks before Hamilton had a private interview with
Washington, although he had dined at his house, entertained him, and
been present at several informal consultations on such minor questions
as the etiquette of the Administration. But delicacy held him from
embarrassing Washington in a familiar interview until he had been
invited formally to a position in the contemplated cabinet. He knew that
Washington wished him to be Secretary of the Treasury, but he also knew
that that most cautious and conscientious of men would not trust to his
own judgement in so grave a matter, nor take any step without weeks of
anxious thought. The more deeply were Washington's affections or desires
engaged, the more cautious would he be. He was not a man of genius,
therefore fell into none of the pitfalls of that terrible gift; he was
great by virtue of his superhuman moral strength--and it is safe to say
that in public life he never experienced a temptation--by a wisdom that
no mental heat ever unbalanced, by an unrivalled instinct for the best
and most useful in human beings, and by a public conscience to which he
would have unhesitatingly sacrificed himself and all he loved, were it a
question of the nation's good. But Hamilton knew whom he would consult,
and devoted himself to his legal work without a qualm for the future. As
he had anticipated, Washington wrote to Robert Morris for advice, and
the reply of that eminent financier, that "Hamilton was the one man in
the United States competent to cope with the extreme difficulties of
that office," pleasantly ended the indecision of the President, and he
communicated with Hamilton at once.

Hamilton answered by letter, for Washington was wedded to the
formalities, but he followed it with a request for a private interview;
and after the lapse of eight years Washington and Hamilton met once more
for a purely personal colloquy.

Washington was occupying temporarily the house of Walter Franklin, on
the corner of Cherry Street and Franklin Square, a country residence at
which society grumbled, for all the world lived between the present site
of the City Hall and Battery Park. Hamilton rode up on horseback, and
was shown into the library, which overlooked a pleasant garden. The
President, in the brown suit of home manufacture which he had worn at
the inauguration, as graceful and erect as ever, although with a more
elderly visage than in the days of war, entered immediately, closed the
door carefully, then took both Hamilton's hands in his enormous grasp.
The austere dignity of his face relaxed perceptibly.

"Oh!" he said. "I am glad to see you!"

"It is not a return to old times, alas!" said Hamilton, gaily; "for what
we all had to do then was a bagatelle to this, and you have made the
supreme sacrifice of your life."

Washington seated himself in an arm-chair, motioning Hamilton to one
opposite. "I wrote Knox," he said, "that I felt as if setting out to my
own execution; and I swear to you, Hamilton, that if it had not been for
you I doubt if my courage would not have failed me at the last moment. I
had a moment of nervous dread this morning before I opened your letter,
but I believed that you would not fail me. It is a colossal enterprise
we are embarked upon, this constructing of a great nation for all time.
God knows I am not equal to it, and although I shall always reserve to
myself the final judgement, I expect a few of you to think for me--you,
in particular. Then with the Almighty's help we may succeed, but I can
assure you that it has cost me many wakeful nights--and cold sweats."

He spoke with his usual slow impressiveness, but he smiled as he watched
Hamilton's flashing eyes and dilating nostrils. "You look but little
older," he added. "Not that you still look a stripling, controlling your
temper with both hands while I worked you half to death; but you have
the everlasting youth of genius, I suppose, and you look to me able to
cope with anything."

Hamilton laughed. "I am far older in many things, sir. I fear I often
seemed ungrateful. I have blessed you many times, since, for the
discipline and the invaluable knowledge I gained in those years."

"Ah!" exclaimed Washington. "Ah! I am very glad to hear you say that. It
is like your generosity, and I have had many anxious moments, wondering
if there might not still be a grudge. But not only were your peculiar
gifts indispensable to this country, but, I will confess, now that it is
over, I mortally dreaded that you would lose your life. You and Laurens
were the most reckless devils I ever saw in the field. Poor Laurens! I
felt a deep affection for him, and his death was one of the bitterest
blows of the war. If he were here now, and Lafayette, how many pleasant
hours I should look forward to; but I have you, and God knows I am
grateful. Lafayette, I am afraid, has undertaken too great a business
for his capacity, which is admirable; but he is not strong enough to be
a leader of men."

"I wish he were here, and well out of it."

"I have not sufficiently thanked you for the letter you wrote me last
September. It was what I had earnestly hoped for. My position was most
distressing. It was impossible for me not only to ask the advice of
anyone, but the temper of the public mind regarding myself. To assume
that I must be desired--but I need not explain to you, who know me
better than anybody living, the extreme delicacy of my position, and the
torments of my mind. Your letter explained everything, told me all I
wished to know, made my duty clear--painfully clear. You divined what I
needed and expressed yourself in your usual frank and manly way, without
the least hesitation or fear. I take this occasion to assure you again
of my deep appreciation."

"Oh, sir," said Hamilton, who was always affected unbearably by
Washington's rare moments of deep feeling, "I was merely the selected
instrument to give you what you most needed at the moment; nothing more.
This was your destiny; you would be here in any case. It is my pride, my
reward of many years of thought and work, that I am able to be of
service to your administration, and conspicuous enough to permit you to
call me to your side. Be sure that all that I have or am is yours, and
that I shall never fail you."

"If I did not believe that, I should indeed be deep in gloomy
forebodings. Jay will officiate as Secretary of State for the present;
Knox, as Secretary at War. I contemplate inviting Randolph to act as
Attorney-General, and Jefferson as permanent Secretary of State, if he
will accept; thus dividing the appointments between the North and the
South. What do you think of the wisdom of appointing Mr. Jefferson? He
is a man of great abilities, and his long residence abroad should make
him a valuable Secretary of State, his conspicuous services acceptable
to both sections of the country. It is the selection over which I have
hesitated longest, for it is a deep and subtle nature, a kind I have no
love of dealing with, but so far as I know it is not a devious one, and
his talents command my respect."

"I am unable to advise you, sir, for he is not personally known to me,"
said Hamilton, who was not long wishing that he had had a previous and
extensive knowledge of Thomas Jefferson. "Madison thinks well of him--is
a close personal friend. He has rendered great services to the State of
Virginia, his experience is wide, and he possesses a brilliant and
facile pen--I can think of no one better fitted for the position. His
record for personal bravery is not untarnished, but perhaps that will
insure peace in the Cabinet."

Washington laughed. "Jefferson would slide under the table if you
assaulted him," he said. "It is you only that I fear, as it is you only
upon whom I thoroughly rely, and not for advice in your own department
alone, but in all. I think it would perhaps be better not to hold
collective meetings of the Cabinet, but to receive each of you alone. It
is as well the others do not know that your knowledge and judgement are
my chief reliance."


Hamilton, on his way home, stopped in at the chambers of Troup.

"Bob," he said, "you are to wind up my law business. I am to be
Secretary of the Treasury."

Troup half rose with an exclamation of impatience. "Good heavens!" he
exclaimed. "Have you not an introductory line in your nature? It has
been bad enough to have been anticipating this, without having it go
straight through one like a cannon-ball. Of course it is no use to
reason with you--I gave that up just after I had assumed that you were a
small boy whom it was the duty of a big collegian to protect, and you
nearly demolished my not too handsome visage with your astonishing
fists for contradicting you. But I am sorry. Remain at the bar and you
have an immediate prospect of wealth, not too many enemies, and the
highest honours. Five years from now, and you would lead not only the
bar of New York but of the whole country. Jay may be the first Chief
Justice, but you would be the second--."

"Nothing would induce me to be Chief Justice. I should be bored to
death. Can you fancy me sitting eternally and solemnly in the middle of
a bench, listening to long-winded lawyers? While I live I shall have

"Well, you will have action enough in this position; it will burn you
out twenty years before your time. And it will be the end of what peace
and happiness a born fighter could ever hope to possess; for you will
raise up enemies and critics on every side, you will be hounded, you
will be the victim of cabals, your good name will be assailed--."

"Answer this: do you know of anyone who could fill this office as
advantageously to the country as I?"

"No," said Troup, unwillingly. "I do not."

Hamilton was standing by the table. He laid his hand on a volume of
Coke, expanding and contracting it slowly. It was perhaps the most
beautiful hand in America, and almost as famous as its owner. But as
Troup gazed at it he saw only its superhuman suggestion of strength.

"The future of this country lies there," said Hamilton. "I know, and you
know, that my greatest gift is statesmanship; my widest, truest
knowledge is in the department of finance; moreover, that nothing has so
keen and enduring a fascination for me. I could no more refuse this
invitation of Washington's than I could clog the wheels of my mind to
inaction. It is like a magnet to steel. If I were sure of personal
consequences the most disastrous, I should accept, and without
hesitation. For what else was the peculiar quality of my brain given me?
To what other end have I studied this great question since I was a boy
of nineteen--wild as I was to fight and win the honours of the field?
Was ever a man's destiny clearer, or his duty?"

"I have no more to say," said Troup, "but I regret it all the same.
Have you heard from Morris--Gouverneur?"

"Oh, yes, I had a long screed, in almost your words, spiced with his own
particular impertinence. Will you wind up my law business?"

"Oh, of course," said Troup.

The new Congress, made up, though it was, of many of the ablest men in
the country, had inherited the dilatory methods of the old, and did not
pass an act establishing the Treasury Department until the 2d of
September. Hamilton's appointment to this most important portfolio at
the disposal of the President was looked upon as a matter of course. It
created little discussion, but so deep a feeling of security, that even
before the reading of his famous Report business had revived to some
extent. This Report upon the public credit was demanded of him at once,
but it was not until the recess of Congress that he could work
uninterruptedly upon it; for that body, floundering in its chaos of
inherited difficulties, turned to the new Secretary for advice on almost
every problem that beset it. I cannot do better here than to quote from
the monograph on Hamilton by Henry Cabot Lodge, who puts with admirable
succinctness a series of facts important to the knowledge of every

     In the course of a year he was asked to report, and did report with
     full details, upon the raising, management, and collection of the
     revenue, including a scheme for revenue cutters; as to the
     estimates of income and expenditure; as to the temporary regulation
     of the chaotic currency; as to navigation laws, and the regulation
     of the coasting trade, after a thorough consideration of a heap of
     undigested statistics; as to the post-office, for which he drafted
     a bill; as to the purchase of West Point; on the great question of
     public lands and a uniform system of managing them; and upon all
     claims against the government. Rapidly and effectively the
     secretary dealt with all these matters, besides drawing up as a
     voluntary suggestion a scheme for a judicial system. But in
     addition to all this multiplicity of business there were other
     matters like the temporary regulation of the currency, requiring
     peremptory settlement. Money had to be found for the immediate and
     pressing wants of the new government before any system had been or
     could be adopted, and the only resources were the empty treasury
     and broken credit of the old confederacy. By one ingenious
     expedient or another, sometimes by pledging his own credit,
     Hamilton got together what was absolutely needful, and without a
     murmur conquered those petty troubles when he was elaborating and
     devising a far-reaching policy. Then the whole financial machine of
     the Treasury Department, and a system of accounting, demanded
     instant attention. These intricate problems were solved at once,
     the machine constructed, and the system of accounts devised and put
     into operation; and so well were these difficult tasks performed
     that they still subsist, developing and growing with the nation,
     but at bottom the original arrangements of Hamilton. These
     complicated questions, answered so rapidly and yet so accurately in
     the first weeks of confusion incident to the establishment of a new
     government, show a familiarity and preparation, as well as a
     readiness of mind of a most unusual kind. Yet while Hamilton was
     engaged in all this bewildering work, he was evolving the great
     financial policy, at once broad, comprehensive, and minute, and
     after the recess in January he laid his ground plan before Congress
     in his first report on public credit; a state paper which marks an
     era in American history, and by which the massive corner-stone,
     from which the great structure of the Federal government has risen,
     was securely laid.

New York, meanwhile, had blossomed to her full. Houses had been
renovated, and with all the elegance to be commanded. Many had been let,
by the less ambitious, to the Members of Congress from other States, and
all were entertaining. General Schuyler occupied a house close to
Hamilton, and his daughters Cornelia and Peggy--Mrs. Stephen Van
Rensselaer--were lively members of society. The Vice-President had taken
the great house at Richmond Hill, and General Knox as imposing a mansion
as he could find. Washington, after a few months, moved to the McComb
house in lower Broadway, one of the largest in town, with a reception
room of superb proportions. Here Mrs. Washington, standing on a dais,
usually assisted by Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Hamilton, received, with the
rigid formality of foreign courts, all who dared to attend her levees.
She had discarded the simplicity of campaigning days, and attired
herself with a magnificence which was emulated by her "Court." It was
yet too soon to break from tradition, and the Washingtons conducted
themselves in accordance with their strong aristocratic proclivities.
Nor did it occur to anyone, even the most ardent Republican, that
dignity and splendour were inconsistent with a free and enlightened
Republic, until Jefferson began his steady and successful system of
plebeianizing the country.

Washington's levees were frigid; but I have not observed any special
warmth at the White House upon public occasions in my own time. The
President, after the company had assembled, entered in full official
costume: black velvet and satin, diamond knee-buckles, his hair in a bag
and tied with ribbons. He carried a military hat under his arm, and wore
a dress sword in a green shagreen scabbard. He made a tour of the room,
addressing each guest in turn, all being ranged according to their rank.
At his wife's levees he attended as a private individual and mingled
more freely with the guests; but his presence always lowered every voice
in the room, and women trembled with anxiety lest he should not engage
them in conversation, while dreading that he might. The unparalleled
dignity, the icy reserve of his personality, had always affected the
temperature of the gatherings he honoured; but at this time, when to the
height of a colossal and unique reputation was added the first
incumbency of an office, bestowed by a unanimous sentiment, which was to
raise the United States to the plane of the great nations of Europe, he
was instinctively regarded as superhuman, rather as a human embodiment
of the Power beyond space. He was deeply sensitive to the depressing
effect he produced, and not a little bored by the open-mouthed curiosity
he excited. A youngster, having run after him for quite a block, one
day, panting from his exertions, Washington wheeled about suddenly, and
made a bow so profound and satirical that his pursuer fled with a yell
of terror.

The President was very fond of the theatre, and invited a party once a
week to accompany him to John Street. He entertained at table
constantly, and dined out formally and intimately. Congress, he attended
in great state. He had brought to New York six white horses of the
finest Virginian breed, and a magnificent cream-coloured coach,
ornamented with cupids and festoons. For state occasions the horses were
covered over night with a white paste, and polished next morning until
they shone like silver. The hoofs were painted black. When Washington
drove through the city on his way to Congress, attended by postilions
and outriders, it is little wonder that he had a royal progress through
proud and satisfied throngs.

The Adamses, who had counselled all the usages of foreign courts, but
had been outvoted by Hamilton and Jay, entertained but little less than
the President; and so did the Schuylers, Livingstons, Jays, and half the
town. The Hamiltons, of necessity, entertained far more simply; but
Betsey received every Wednesday evening, when her rooms were a crush of
fashion and politics, eager for a glimpse of Hamilton and to do court to
her popular self. They gave at least one dinner a week, but Betsey as a
rule went out with her parents, for her husband was too busy for

The world saw little of Hamilton at this time, and Betsey but little
more. He worked in his library or office for fourteen hours of the day,
while the country teemed with conjectures of his coming Report. A
disposition to speculate upon it was already manifest, and more than one
friend endeavoured to gain a hint of its contents. Not even Madison, to
whom he had talked more freely than to anyone, knew aught of the details
of that momentous Report, what recommendations he actually should make
to Congress; for none knew better than he that a hint derived from him
which should lead to profitable speculation would tarnish his good name
irretrievably. Careless in much else, on the subject of his private and
public integrity he was rigid; he would not have yielded a point to
retain the affection of the best and most valued of his friends.
Fastidious by nature on the question of his honour, he knew, also, that
other accusations, even when verified, mattered little in the long run;
a man's actual position in life and in history was determined by the
weight of his brain and the spotlessness of his public character. He
worked in secret, with no help from anyone; nor could blandishments
extract a hint of his purpose. Against the rock of his integrity passion
availed nothing. As for Betsey, between her growing children, the
delicacy which had followed the birth of her last child, and her heavy
social duties, she would have had little time to assist him had he
confided even in her. Moreover, to keep up a dignified position upon
$3500 a year cost her clever little Dutch head much anxious thought. It
is true that some money had been put aside from the income of her
husband's large practice, but he was the most careless and generous of
men, always refusing the fees of people poorer than himself, and with no
talent for personal, great as was his mastery of political, economy. If
General Schuyler often came to the rescue his son-in-law never knew it.
Hamilton had a vague idea that Betsey could manage somehow, and was far
too absorbed to give the matter a thought. Betsey, it would seem, had
her own little reputation, for it was about this time that M'Henry
finished a letter to Hamilton, as follows:--

     Pray present me to Mrs. Hamilton. I have learned from a friend of
     yours that she has, as far as the comparison will hold, as much
     merit as your treasurer as you have as treasurer of the wealth of
     the United States.


Congress reassembled, and on the 2d of January Hamilton sent in his
Report on Public Credit. By this time excitement and anxiety, to say
nothing of cupidity, were risen to fever pitch. All realized that they
were well in the midst of a national crisis, for the country was
bankrupt, and her foreign and domestic debts footed up to quite eighty
millions of dollars--a stupendous sum in the infancy of a nation, when
there was little specie in the country, and an incalculable amount of
worthless paper, with long arrears of interest besides. If Hamilton
could cope with this great question, and if Congress, with its
determined anti-government party, would support him, the Union and its
long-suffering patriots would enter upon a season of prosperity and
happiness. If the one were inadequate to meet the situation, or the
other failed in its national duty, the consequences must be deeper
wretchedness and disaster than anything they yet had endured. The
confidence in Hamilton was very widespread, for not only were his great
abilities fully recognized, but his general opinions on the subject had
long been known, and approved by all but the politicians on the wrong
side. The confidence had been manifested in a manner little to his
liking: speculators had scoured the country, buying up government
securities at the rate of a few shillings on the pound, taking advantage
of needy holders, who dwelt, many of them, in districts too remote from
the centre of action to know what the Government was about. And even
before this "signal instance of moral turpitude," the fact that so many
old soldiers who had gone home with no other pay than government
securities, to be exchanged for specie at the pleasure of a government
which nobody had trusted, had sold out for a small sum, was one of the
agitating themes of the country; and opinion was divided upon the right
of the assignees to collect the full amount which the new government
might be prepared to pay, while the moral rights of the worthy and
original holder were ignored. It was understood, however, that Hamilton
had given no more searching thought to any subject than to this.

The public was not admitted to the galleries of Congress in those days,
but a great crowd packed Wall and Broad streets while the Report was
reading and until some hint of its contents filtered through the guarded
doors. Hamilton himself was at home with his family, enjoying a day of
rest. It is one of the most curious incidents in his career, as well as
one of the highest tributes to his power over men, that Congress, after
mature deliberation, decided that it would be safer to receive his
Report in writing than in the form of a personal address from a man who
played so dangerously upon the nerve-board of the human nature. There
hardly could be any hidden witchery in a long paper dealing with so
unemotional a subject as finance; but no man could foresee what might be
the effect of the Secretary's voice and enthusiasm,--which was
perilously communicable,--his inevitable bursts of spontaneous
eloquence. But Hamilton had a pen which served him well, when he was
forced to substitute it for the charm of his personality. It was so
pointed, simple, and powerful, it classified with such clarity, it
expressed his convictions so unmistakably, and conveyed his subtle
appeals to human passions so obediently, that it rarely failed to
quiver like an arrow in the brain to which it was directed. And this
particular report was vitalized by the author's overwhelming sense of
the great crisis with which he was dealing. Reading it to-day, a hundred
and eleven years after it was written, and close to the top of a
twelve-story building, which is a symbol of the industry and progress
for which he more than any man who has ever dedicated his talents to the
United States is responsible, it is so fresh and convincing, so earnest,
so insistent, so courteously peremptory, that the great century which
lies between us and that empire-making paper lapses from the memory, and
one is in that anxious time, in the very study of the yet more anxious
statesman; who, on a tropical island that most of his countrymen never
will see, came into being with the seed of an unimagined nation in his

To condense Hamilton is much like attempting to increase the density of
a stone, or to reduce the alphabet to a tabloid. I therefore shall make
no effort to add another failure to the several abstracts of this
Report. The heads of his propositions are sufficient. The Report is
accessible to all who find the subject interesting. The main points were
these: The exploding of the discrimination fallacy; the assumption of
the State debts by the Government; the funding of the entire amount of
the public debt, foreign, domestic, and State; three new loans, one to
the entire amount of the debt, another of $10,000,000, a third of
$12,000,000; the prompt payment of the arrears and current interest of
the foreign loan on the original terms of the contract; the segregating
of the post-office revenue, amounting to about a million dollars, for a
sinking fund, that the creation of a debt should always be accompanied
by the means of extinguishment; increased duties on foreign commodities,
that the government might be able to pay the interest on her new debts
and meet her current expenses; and more than one admonition for prompt
action, as the credit of the nation was reaching a lower level daily,
besides sinking more hopelessly into debt through arrears of interest.
The indebtedness he divided as follows: The foreign debt, $10,070,307,
with arrears of interest amounting to $1,640,071. The liquidated
domestic debt, $27,383,917, with arrears of interest amounting to
$13,030,168. The unliquidated part he estimated at $2,000,000, and the
aggregate debt of the State at $25,000,000; making a total of nearly

He also hinted at his long-cherished scheme of a National Bank, and a
possible excise law, and gave considerable space to the miserable
condition of landed property and the methods by which it might be
restored to its due value.


The talk in the drawing-room of Mrs. Croix that night was of little else
but the Secretary's Report. Mrs. Croix, so said gossip, had concluded
that this was the proper time for the demise of her recalcitrant
officer, and had retired to weeds and a semi-seclusion while Mrs.
Washington pondered upon the propriety of receiving her. Her court cared
little for the facts, and vowed that she never had looked so fair or so
proud; Hamilton, that she shone with the splendour of a crystal star on
the black velvet skies of the Tropics. She wore, this evening, a few
yards of black gauze which left bare a crescent of her shining neck and
the lower arms. Her bright hair was arranged in a mass of ringlets,
after a fashion obtaining in Europe, and surmounted by a small turban of
gauze fastened with a diamond sun. Many of the men who visited her
habitually called her Lady Betty, for she was one of those women who
invite a certain playful familiarity while repelling intimacy. Hamilton
called her, as the fancy moved him, Egeria, Boadicea, or Lady Godiva.

Clinton came in fuming. "It is not possible," he cried, "that the
Congress can be so mad as to be hoodwinked by this deep political scheme
for concentrating the liberties of the United States under the executive
heel. 'To cement more closely the union of the States and to add to
their security against foreign attack!' Forsooth! This assumption plan
is nothing more nor less than another of his dastardly schemes to
squeeze out of the poor States what little liberty he left them under
the Constitution. He could not obtain at Philadelphia all he wished for,
but now that Washington has given him both reins, he laughs in our
faces. I regret that I ever offered him my hand."

"Then our party in Congress will fight him on political grounds?" asked
Mrs. Croix.

"You may put it that way if you choose. It certainly will not be blinded
by his speciousness and aid him in his subtle monarchism. 'Contribute in
an eminent degree to an orderly, stable, and satisfactory arrangement of
the Nation's finances!' 'Several reasons which render it probable that
the situation of the State creditors will be worse than that of the
creditors of the Union, if there be not a national assumption of the
State debts!' And then his plan of debit and credit, with 'little doubt
that balances would appear in favour of all the States against the
United States!' My blood has boiled since I read that paper. I have
feared apoplexy. He is clever, that West Indian,--do they grow many
such?--but he did not select a country composed entirely of fools to
machinate in."

"My dearest Governor," whispered Mrs. Croix, "calm yourself, pray. Only
you can cope with Mr. Hamilton. You must be the colossal spirit without
the walls of Congress to whom all will look for guidance. If you become
ill, the cause is lost."

Clinton composed himself promptly, and asked Elbridge Gerry, of
Massachusetts, which, section of the Report he expected to attack first.
There were no Federalists present.

Gerry shrugged his shoulders and shot a narrow glance of contempt at the
Governor. "Give me time, your Excellency, pray. Mr. Hamilton's paper has
the thought of a decade in it. It merits at least a week of thought on
our part. I never could agree with him in all things, but in some I am
at one with him; and I acknowledge myself deeply in his debt, insomuch
as he has taught me, among thousands of others, to 'think
continentally,' I certainly agree with him that to pay to present
holders the full value of their certificates, without discrimination, is
a matter of constitutional law, a violation of which would be a menace
to the new government. I shall support him on that point at the risk of
being accused of speculation."

Stone, of Maryland, was striding up and down, but a degree less agitated
than the Governor of New York.

"The man is cleverer than all the rest of us put together!" he
exclaimed. "Let us not forget that for an instant. A greater thought
than this of assumption has never been devised by man. If it be carried
into execution,--which God forbid,--it will prove a wall of adamant to
the Federal government, impregnable to any attempt on its fabric or

"Oh, is it so bad as that?" asked Gerry. "Every fort falls if the siege
be sufficiently prolonged. I apprehend no such disaster, and I confess I
see much promise in at least two of Mr. Hamilton's schemes. After all,
the redemption of the country is what we must look to first."

"You are a trimmer. Cannot you see that if the whole revenue of the
States be taken into the power of Congress, it will prove a band to draw
us so close together as not to leave the smallest interstice for

"But do you meditate separation?" asked Mrs. Croix. "Surely that would
be as great a crime as Mr. Hamilton's monarchical manoeuvres--if it be
true he practises such."

"He is bold enough about them," snorted Clinton. "I do the man justice
to recognize his insolent frankness."

"Those I cannot say I have observed," said Gerry. "Nor do I think that
we meditate separation. We are struggling out of one pit. It would be
folly to dig a deeper. And Massachusetts has a great debt, with
decreasing revenue for interest and redemption. I am not sure that
assumption would not be to her advantage. She stood the brunt of the
war. It is but fair that she should have relief now, even at the expense
of other States whose debt is insignificant; and she is able to take
care of herself against the Federal government--"

"The brunt of the war!" exclaimed the Attorney-General of the Cabinet,
who, with the Speaker of the House, had just entered, and who had
controlled himself with difficulty for several seconds. "I beg to assure
you, sir, that Virginia may claim that honour. Her glorious patriotism,
her contributions in men and money--they exceeded those of any State in
the Union, sir."

Gerry laughed. "I have no means of comparison by which patriotism may be
measured, Mr. Randolph," he said. "But we can produce figures, if
necessary, to prove our title to supremacy in the other matters you
mention. As you have reduced your debt, however, by an almost total
repudiation of your paper money--"

"How about Mr. Madison?" asked Mrs. Croix, hurriedly. "He is your
fellow-statesman, Mr. Randolph, but he is Mr. Hamilton's devoted friend
and follower. Virginia may be sadly divided."

"My fears have decreased on that point," said Randolph, drily. "Mr.
Madison's loyalty toward his State increases daily."

"So does his ambition," observed Muhlenberg. "If I am not mistaken, he
has begun to chafe at Hamilton's arrangement of his destinies--and a
nature like that is not without deep and sullen jealousies. To be a
leader of leaders requires a sleepless art; to lead the masses is play
by comparison. Hamilton is a magician, but he is arrogant and impatient.
With all his art and control of men's minds, he will lose a follower now
and again, and not the least important would be--will be--Madison."

"Have you proof?" asked Clinton, eagerly. "He would be of incomparable
value in our ranks. By the way, Aaron Burr is working to the front. He
is a born politician, if I am not mistaken, and is in a rapid process of
education. I feel sure that I have attached him to our cause by
appointing him Attorney-General of the Staite. He should make an
invaluable party man."

"He will be attached to no cause," said Gerry. "He is, as you say, a
politician. There is not a germ of the statesman in him; nor of the
honest man, either, unless I am deeply mistaken. He is the only man of
note in the country who has not one patriotic act to his credit. He
fought, but so did every adventurous youth in the country; and had there
been anything more to his interest to do at the time, the Revolution
could have taken care of itself. But during all our trying desperate
years since--did he go once to Congress? Did he interest himself in the
Constitution, either at Philadelphia or Poughkeepsie? What record did he
make in the State Legislature during his one term of infrequent
attendance? While other men, notably Hamilton, of whom he betrays an
absurd jealousy, have been neglecting their private interests in the
public cause, he has been distinguishing himself as a femalist, and
thinking of nothing else but making money at the bar. I admit his
brilliancy, his intrepidity, and the exquisite quality of his address,
but I don't believe that an honest man who comes into contact with him
instinctively trusts him."

"Oh, let us not indulge in such bitter personalities," cried Mrs. Croix,
who took no interest at that time in the temporary husband of her old
age. "Surely this coming legislation should compel every faculty. What
of the other debts?--of funding? Or, if it is still too soon to talk of
these matters with equilibrium," she added hastily, as Clinton turned
purple again, "pray tell me that the great question of deciding upon a
site for the Capital is nearing a solution. It has been such a source of
bitter agitation. I wish it were settled."

"The House may or may not pass this bill for ten years in Philadelphia,
and the banks of the Potomac thereafter," growled the Senator from North
Carolina. "The Federalists have the majority, and they are determined to
keep the seat of government in the North, as they are determined to have
their monarchical will in everything. Madison hopes for some fortuitous
coincidence, but I confess I hardly know what he means."

Gerry laughed. "When Madison takes to verbiage," he said, "I should
resort to a plummet and line."

"Sir!" cried Randolph, limping toward the door in angry haste. "Mr.
Madison is one of the loftiest statesmen in the country!"

"Has been. Centrifugal forces are in motion."

"How everybody in politics does hate everybody else!" said Mrs. Croix,
with a patient sigh.


The next morning Mrs. Croix sent a peremptory summons to Hamilton.
Although at work upon his "Additional Estimates," he responded at once.
The lady was combing her emotional mane in the sunshine before the
mirror of her boudoir when he arrived, and the maid had been dismissed.

"Well, Egeria," he said, smiling down upon this dazzling vision, "what
is it? What warning of tremendous import have you to deliver, that you
rout a busy Secretary from his work at eleven in the morning? I dared
not loiter, lest your capricious majesty refuse me your door upon my
next evening of leisure--"

"It is not I who am capricious!" cried Mrs. Croix. She pouted
charmingly. "Indeed, sir, I never am quite sure of you. You are all
ardour to-day, and indifference to-morrow. For work I am always put
aside, and against your family demands I do not exist."

"My dear Boadicea," said Hamilton, drily, "I am a mere creature of
routine. I met you after my habits of work and domesticity were well
established. You are the fairest thing on earth, and there are times
when you consume it, but circumstances isolate you. Believe me, I am a
victim of those circumstances, not of caprice."

"My dear Hamilton," replied Mrs. Croix, quite as drily, "you have all
the caprice of a woman combined with all the lordly superiority of the
male. I well know that although I bewitch you, I can do so at your
pleasure only. You are abominably your own master, both in your strength
and your weakness. But there is no one like you on earth, so I submit.
And I work and burrow for you, and you will not even accept my precious

"I will not have you playing the rôle of spy, if that is what you mean.
I do not like this idea of confessing my enemies when they think
themselves safe in your house, I prefer to fight in the open, and they
reveal themselves to me sooner or later. What should I think of myself
and you if I permitted you to act as a treacherous go-between."

"You will not permit me to help you! And I could do much! I could tell
you so much now that would put you on your guard. I could help you
immeasurably. I could be your fate. But you care for nothing but my
beauty!" And she dropped dismally into her pocket-handkerchief.

Hamilton was not one of those men who dread a woman's tears. He had
dried too many. His immediate and practical consolation but appeared to
deepen her grief, however, and he was obliged to resort to eloquence.

"Where do I find such hours of mental companionship as here?" he
demanded. "I say nothing of art and literature; do I not discuss with
you the weightiest affairs of State--everything, in fact, upon which my
honour does not compel silence? Never have I thought of asking the
advice, the opinion, of a woman before. You are my Egeria, and I am
deeply grateful for you. If at times I remember nothing but your beauty,
would you have it otherwise? I flatter myself that you would not. Have
you really anything to reproach me for, because I will not hear of your
committing an act which I would not commit myself? I suppose it is
hopeless to talk of honour to the cleverest of women, but you must
accept this dictum whether you understand it or not: I will listen to
none of the confidences of your trusting anti-Federalists. Why cannot
you come out honestly and declare your true politics? You could do far
more good, and I leave you no excuse to perpetrate this lie."

"I will not," sobbed his Egeria, obstinately. "I may be able to be of
service to you, even if you will not let me warn you of Madison's

She had scored her point, and Hamilton sprang to his feet, his face as
white as her petticoats. "Madison's treachery!" he exclaimed. "It is
true he comes near me but seldom this Congress. I had attributed his
coldness to temperament. Can it be? So many forces would operate. There
is much jealousy and ambition in him. He can never lead my party. Is he
capable of deserting that he might lead another? One expects that sort
of thing of a Burr; but Madison--I have thought him of an almost
dazzling whiteness at times--then I have had lightning glimpses of
meaner depths. He is easily influenced. Virginia opposes me so bitterly!
Will he dare to continue to defy her? Can he continue to rise if she
combines against him? Oh, God! If he only had more iron in his soul!"

It was characteristic of him that he had forgotten his audience. He was
thinking aloud, his thought leaping from point to point as they sprang
into the brilliant atmosphere of his mind; or using its rapid divining
rod. He threw back his head. "I'll not believe it till I have proof!" he
exclaimed defiantly. "Why, I should feel as if one of the foundations of
the earth had given way. Madison--we have been like brothers. I have
confided deeply in him. There is little in that Report of yesterday that
I have not discussed with him a hundred times--nothing but the ways and
means, which I dared confide to no one. He has always been in favour of
assumption, of paying the whole debt. It is understood that he is to
support me in Congress. I'll hear no more. Dry your tears. You have
accomplished your object with a woman's wit. I believe you did but shed
those tears to enhance your loveliness, my Lady Godiva."


The immediate consequences of Hamilton's Report were a rise of fifty per
cent in the securities of the bankrupt Confederation, and a bitter
warfare in Congress. All were agreed upon the propriety of paying the
foreign loan, but the battle raged about every other point in turn. One
of the legacies of the old Congress was the principle of repudiating
what it was not convenient to redeem, and the politicians of the country
had insensibly fallen into the habit of assuming that they should start
clear with the new government, and relegate the domestic debt to the
limbo which held so many other resources best forgotten. They were far
from admitting the full measure of their inheritance, however, and
opened the battle with a loud denouncement of the greedy speculator who
had defrauded the impoverished soldier, to whose needs they had been
indifferent hitherto. Most of this feeling concentrated in the
opposition, but many Federalists were so divided upon the question of
discrimination that for a time the other great questions contained in
the Report fell back. Feeling became so bitter that those who supported
the assignees were accused of speculation, and personalities were hot
and blistering. Many of the strongest men, however, ranged with
Hamilton, and were in sight of victory, when Madison, who had hoped to
see the question settle itself in favour of the original holders without
his open support, came out with a double bomb; the first symptom of his
opposition to the Federal party, and an unconstitutional proposition
that the holders by assignment should receive the highest market-price
yet reached by the certificates, by which they would reap no
inconsiderable profit, and that the balance of the sum due, possibly
more than one-half, should be distributed among the original holders.
For a time the reputation for statemanship which Madison had won was
clouded, for his admission of the claims of the assignees nullified any
argument he could advance in favour of the original holders. But he had
his limitations. There was nothing of the business man in his
composition. One of the most notable and useful attributes of Hamilton's
versatile brain was excluded from his, beyond its comprehension. His
proposition was rejected by thirty-six votes to thirteen.

Then the hostile camps faced each other on the questions of the domestic
debt and assumption. In regard to the former, common decency finally
prevailed, but the other threatened to disrupt the Union, for the
Eastern States threw out more than one hint of secession did the measure
fail. Madison, without further subterfuge, came forth at the head of
his State as the leader of the anti-assumptionists. He offered no
explanation to his former chief and none was demanded. For a time
Hamilton was bitterly disgusted and wounded. He shrugged his shoulders,
finally, and accepted his new enemy with philosophy, though by no means
with amiability and forgiveness; but he had seen too much of the
selfishness and meanness of human nature to remain pained or astonished
at any defection.

When June came, however, he was deeply uneasy. On March 29th the
resolutions providing for the foreign debt and for paying in full the
principal of the domestic debt to the present holders passed without a
division. So did the resolution in favour of paying the arrears of
interest in like manner with the principal of the domestic debt. But the
resolution in favour of assumption was recommitted. The next day the
friends of assumption had the other resolutions also recommitted, and
the furious battle raged again. Finally, on June 2d, a bill was passed
by the House, which left the question of assumption to be settled by a
future test of strength.

The anti-assumptionists were triumphant, for they believed the idea
would gain in unpopularity. But they reckoned without Hamilton.


Jefferson had arrived on March 21st, and entered at once upon his duties
as Secretary of State. He disapproved of the assumption measure, but was
so absorbed in the perplexing details of his new office, in
correspondence, and in frequent conferences with the President on the
subject of foreign affairs, that he gave the matter little consecutive
thought. Moreover, he was dined every day for weeks, all the
distinguished New Yorkers, from Hamilton down, vying with each other in
attentions to a man whose state record was so enlightened, and whose
foreign so brilliant, despite one or two humiliating failures. He rented
a small cottage in Maiden Lane, and looked with deep disapproval upon
the aristocratic dissipations of New York, the frigid stateliness of
Washington's "Court." The French Revolution and the snub of the British
king had developed his natural democratism into a controlling passion,
and he would have preferred to find in even the large cities of the new
country the homely bourgeois life of his highest ideals.

No one accused him of inconsistency in externals. With his shaggy sandy
hair, his great red face, covered with freckles, his long loose figure,
clad in red French breeches a size too small, a threadbare brown coat,
soiled linen and hose, and enormous hands and feet, he must have
astounded the courtly city of New York, and it is certain that he set
Washington's teeth on edge. It is no wonder that when this vision rises
upon the democratic horizon of to-day, he is hailed as a greater man
than Washington or Hamilton.

Shortly after the final recommitment of the resolution in favour of
assumption, the Federalist leader met this engaging figure almost in
front of Washington's door, and a plan which had dawned in his mind a
day or two before matured on the instant. He had no dislike for
Jefferson at the time, and respected his intellect and diplomatic
talents, without reference to differences of opinion. Jefferson grinned
as Hamilton approached, and offered his great paw amiably. He did not
like his brother secretary's clothes, and his hitherto averted
understanding was gradually moving toward the displeasing fact that
Hamilton was the Administration; but he had had little time for
reflection, and he succumbed temporarily to a fascination which few

Hamilton approached him frankly. "Will you walk up and down with me a
few moments?" he asked. "I have intended to call upon you. You have
returned at a most opportune time. Do you realize, sir, that the whole
business of this nation is at a deadlock? There is nothing in this talk
of the North seceding, but so great is the apprehension that the
energies of the country are paralyzed, and no man thinks of anything but
the possible failure of the Government. I am convinced that assumption
is not only necessary to permanent union, to the solution of the
financial problem, but to the prosperity of the States themselves." He
then proceeded to convince Jefferson, who listened attentively,
wondering, with a sigh, how any man could pour out his thoughts so
rapidly and so well. "Will you turn this over in your mind, and let me
see you again in a day or two?" asked Hamilton, as he finished his
argument. "Let me reiterate that there is no time to lose. The
Government is at a standstill in all matters concerning the
establishment of the country on a sound financial basis, until this
subordinate matter is settled."

"You alarm and deeply interest me," said Jefferson. "I certainly will
give the matter my attention. Will you dine with me to-morrow? We can
then discuss this matter at leisure. I will ask one or two others."

The next day, at Mr. Jefferson's epicureous board, Hamilton played his
trump. Having again wrought havoc with his host's imagination, but by no
means trusting to the permanence of any emotion, he proposed a bargain:
if Jefferson would use his influence with the Virginians and other
Southern anti-assumptionists in Congress, he and Robert Morris would
engage to persuade obstinate Northerners to concede the Capital city to
the South. Hamilton made no sacrifice of conviction in offering this
proposition. There was no reason why the Government should not sit as
conveniently on the banks of the Potomac as elsewhere, and if he did not
carry the Union through this new crisis, no one else would. All his
great schemes depended upon his bringing the hostile States to reason,
and with his usual high-handed impatience he carried his object in his
own way.

Jefferson saw much virtue in this arrangement. The plan was an almost
immediate success. White and Lee of Virginia were induced to change
their votes, and assumption with some modifications passed into a law.
The Government, after a ten years' sojourn in Philadelphia, would abide
permanently upon the Potomac.


Mrs. Hamilton, albeit she had not a care in the world, sighed heavily.
She was standing before her mirror, arrayed in a triumph of art recently
selected by Mrs. Church, in London. On her head was an immense puff of
yellow gauze, whose satin foundation had a double wing in large plaits.
The dress was of yellow satin, flowing over a white satin petticoat, and
embellished about the neck with a large Italian gauze handkerchief,
striped with white. Her hair was in ringlets and unpowdered. She was a
very plate of fashion, but her brow was puckered.

"What is it?" asked her husband, entering from his room. "You are a
vision of loveliness, my dear Eliza. Is there a rose too few, or a hoop

"No, sir, I am well enough pleased with myself. I am worrying lest
General Washington ask me to dance. It will be bad enough to go out with
Mr. Adams, who snaps at me every time I venture a remark, but he at
least is not a giant, and I do not feel like a dwarf. When the President
leads me out--that is to say, when he did lead me out at the
Inauguration ball, I was like to expire of mortification. I felt like a
little polar cub trotting out to sea with a monster iceberg. And he
never opened his lips to distract my mind, just solemnly marched me up
and down, as if I had done something naughty and were being exhibited. I
saw Kitty Livingston giggle behind her fan, and Kitty Duer drew herself
up to her full height, which is quite five feet six, and looked down
upon me with a cruel amusement. Women are so nasty to each other. Thank
heaven I have a new gown for to-night--anyhow!"

Hamilton laughed heartily; she always amused him, she was half his wife,
half the oldest of his children. "And you are fresher far than any of
them; let that console you," he said, arranging her necklace. "I am sure
both the President and the Vice-President will take you out; they hardly
would have the bad taste not to. And you look very sweet, hanging on to
Washington's hand. Don't imagine for a moment that you look ridiculous.
Fancy, if you had to walk through life with either of them."

Betsey shuddered and smoothed her brow. "It _would_ be a walk with the
dear General," she said. "I dare not dwell upon what it would be with
Mr. Adams--or anyone else! You are amazing smart, yourself, to-night."

"This new costume depressed me for a moment, for it is very like one
Laurens used to wear upon state occasions, but I had not the courage to
wear the light blue with the large gilt buttons, and the pudding cravat
Morris inconsiderately sent me; not with Jefferson's agonized eye to
encounter. The poor man suffers cruelly at our extravagance and

"He is an old fright," quoth Betsey, "and I'd not dance with him, not if
he went on his knees."

She looked her husband over with great pride. He wore a coat of
plum-coloured velvet, a double-breasted Marseilles vest, white satin
breeches, white silk stockings, and pumps. There were full ruffles of
lace on his breast and wrists. A man of to-day has to be singularly
gifted by nature to shine triumphant above his ugly and uniform garb,
whereas many a woman wins a reputation for beauty by a combination of
taste with the infinite range modern fashion accords her. In the days of
which we write, a man hardly could help looking his best, and while far
more decorative than his descendant, was equally useful. And as all
dressed in varying degrees of the same fashion, none seemed effeminate.
As for Hamilton, his head never looked more massive, his glance more
commanding, than when he was in full regalia; nor he more ready for a
fight. All women know the psychological effect of being superlatively
well dressed. In the days of our male ancestors' external vanities it is
quite possible that they, too, felt unconquerable when panoplied in
their best.

The ball that night was at Richmond Hill, the beautiful home of the
Vice-President and his wife, Abigail Adams, one of the wisest, wittiest,
and most agreeable women of her time. This historic mansion, afterward
the home of Aaron Burr during his successful years, was a country
estate where Varick Street now crosses Charlton in the heart of the
city. It stood on an eminence overlooking the Hudson, surrounded by a
park and commanding a view of the wild Jersey shore opposite. The
Adamses were ambitious people and entertained constantly, with little
less formality than the President. The early hours of their receptions,
indeed, were chilling, and many went late, after dancing was, begun or
the company had scattered to the card-tables. The Vice-President and his
wife stood at the head of the long drawing-room and said good evening,
and no more, as the women courtesied to the ground, or the men bowed as
deeply as their varying years would permit. The guests then stood about
for quite an hour and talked in undertones; later, perhaps, the host and
hostess mingled with them and conversed. But although Mrs. Adams was
vastly popular, her distinguished husband was less so; he was not always
to be counted upon in the matter of temper. This grim old Puritan, of an
integrity which makes him one of the giants of our early history,
despite the last hours of his administration when he was beating about
in the vortex of his passions, and always honest in his convictions,
right or wrong, had not been gifted by nature with a pleasing address,
although he could attach people to him when he chose. He was irascible
and violent, the victim of a passionate jealous nature, without the
saving graces of humour and liveliness of temperament. But his sturdy
upright figure was very imposing; his brow, which appeared to end with
the tip of his nose, so bold was the curve, would have been benevolent
but for the youthful snapping eyes. His indomitability and his capacity
for hatred were expressed in the curves of his mouth. He was always well
dressed, for although a farmer by birth, he was as pronounced an
aristocrat in his tastes as Washington or Hamilton. At this time,
although he liked neither of them, he was the staunch supporter of the
Government. He believed in Federalism and the Constitution,
insignificant as he found his rewards under both, and he was an ally of
inestimable value.

When the Hamiltons entered his drawing-room to-night they found many
people of note already there, although the minuet had not begun. The
President, his graceful six feet in all the magnificence of black velvet
and white satin, his queue in a black silk bag, stood beside his lady,
who was as brave as himself in a gown of violet brocade over an immense
hoop. Poor dame, she would far rather have been at Mount Vernon in
homespun, for all this pomp and circumstance bored and isolated her. She
hedged herself about with the etiquette which her exalted position
demanded, and froze the social aspirant of insufficient pretensions, but
her traditions and her propensities were ever at war; she was a woman
above all things, and an extremely simple one.

John Jay, now Chief Justice of the United States, was there, as ever the
most simply attired personage in the Union. His beautiful wife, however,
beaming and gracious, but no less rigid than "Lady Washington," in her
social statutes, looked like a bird of paradise beside a graven image,
so gorgeous was her raiment. Baron Steuben was in the regalia of war and
a breastplate of orders. Kitty Livingston, now Mrs. Matthew Ridley, had
also received a fine new gown of Mrs. Church's selection, for the two
women still were friends, despite the rupture of their families. Lady
Kitty Duer, so soon to know poverty and humiliation, was in a gown of
celestial blue over a white satin petticoat, her lofty head surmounted
by an immense gauze turban. General and Mrs. Knox, fat, amiable, and
always popular, although sadly inflated by their new social importance,
were mountains of finery. Mrs. Ralph Izard, Mrs. Jay's rival in beauty,
and Mrs. Adams's in wit, painted by Gainsborough and Copley, wore a
white gown of enviable simplicity, and a string of large pearls in her
hair, another about her graceful throat. Mrs. Schuyler, stout and
careworn, from the trials of excitable and eloping daughters, clung to
the kind arm of her austere and silent husband. Fisher Ames, with his
narrow consumptive figure and his flashing ardent eyes, his eloquent
tongue chilled by this funereal assemblage, had retreated to an alcove
with Rufus King, where they whispered politics. Burr, the target of many
fine eyes, was always loyal to his wife in public; she was a charming
and highly respected woman, ten years his senior. Burr fascinated women,
and adorned his belt with their scalps; but had it not been for this
vanity, which led him to scatter hints of infinite devilment and
conquest, it is not likely that he would have been branded, in that era
of gallantry, a devirginator and a rake. All that history is concerned
with is his utter lack of patriotism and honesty, and the unscrupulous
selfishness, from which, after all, he suffered more than any man. His
dishonesties and his treasonable attempts were failures, but he left a
bitter legacy in his mastery of the arts of political corruption, and in
a glittering personality which, with his misfortunes, has begodded him
with the shallow and ignorant, who know the traditions of history and
none of its facts. He was a poor creature, with all his gifts, for his
life was a failure, his old age one of the loneliest and bitterest in
history; and from no cause that facts or tradition give us but the blind
selfishness which blunted a good understanding to stupidity. Selfishness
in public life is a crime against one's highest ambitions.

Mrs. Hamilton kept a firm hold on her husband's arm, and her glance shot
apprehensively from Washington to the Vice-President. The latter could
not dance at present; the former looked as if petrified, rooted in the
floor. Betsey had a clever little head, and she devised a scheme at
once. She was the third lady in the land, and although many years
younger than Mrs. Adams, had entertained from her cradle. No one else
immediately following the entrance of her husband and herself, she did
not move on after her courtesy, but drew Mrs. Adams into conversation,
and the good lady by this time was glad of a friendly word.

"You will be detained here for an hour yet," said Betsey, sweetly. "Can
I help you? Shall I start the minuet? Dear Mr. Adams will be too tired
to dance to-night. Shall I choose a partner and begin?"

"For the love of heaven, do," whispered Mrs. Adams. "Take out Colonel
Burr. He matches you in height, and dances like a courtier."

Other people entered at the moment, and Betsey whispered hurriedly to
Hamilton: "Go--quickly--and fetch Colonel Burr. I breathe freely for the
first time since the clock struck six, but who knows what may happen?"

Hamilton obediently started in quest of Burr. But alas, Ames and King
darted at him from their hiding-place behind a curtain, and he
disappeared from his wife's despairing vision. Ten minutes later he
became aware of the familiar strains of the minuet, and guiltily glanced
forth. Betsey, her face composed to stony resignation lest she disgrace
herself with tears, was solemnly treading the measure with the solemnest
man on earth, clutching at his hand, which was on a level with her
turban. A turn of her head and she encountered her husband's contrite
eye. Before hers he retreated to the alcove, nor did he show himself in
the ball-room again until it was time to take his wife to their coach.

He escaped from the room by a window, and after half the evening in the
library with a group of anxious Federalists,--for it was but a night or
two after his dinner with Jefferson,--he retired to a small room at the
right of the main hall for a short conference with the Chief Justice. He
was alone after a few moments, and was standing before the half-drawn
tapestry, watching the guests promenading in the hall, when Kitty
Livingston passed on the arm of Burr. Their eyes met, and she cut him.
His spirits dropped at once, and he was indulging in reminiscences
tinged with melancholy, for he had loved her as one of the faithful
chums of his youth, niching her with Troup, Fish, and other enthusiastic
friends of that time, when to his surprise she entered abruptly, and
drew the tapestry behind her.

"You wicked varlet!" she exclaimed. "What did you sow all this
dissension for, and deprive me of my best friends?" Then she kissed him
impulsively. "I shall always love you, though. You were the dearest
little chap that ever was--and that is why I am going to tell you
something to-night, although I may never speak to you again, Aaron Burr
is burrowing between my family and the Clinton faction. He hopes to make
a strong combination, defeat General Schuyler at the next election, and
have himself elected senator in his place. Why, why did you alienate us?
We are nine in public life--did you forget that?--and what was Rufus
King to you or to the country compared with our combined strength? Why
should John be preferred to Robert? You are as high-handed and arrogant
as Lucifer himself; and generally you win, but not always. Burr has seen
his first chance for political preferment, and seized it with a cunning
which I almost admire. He has persuaded both the Livingstons and the
Clintons that here is their chance to pull you down, and he is only too
willing to be the instrument--the wretched little mole! I shall hate
myself to-morrow for telling you this, for God knows I am loyal to my
people, but I have watched you go up--up--up. I should feel like your
mother would if I saw you in the dust. I am afraid it is too late to do
anything now. These two hostile parties will not let slip this chance.
But get Burr under your foot when you can, and keep him there. He is
morbid with jealousy and will live to pull you down."

"My dear girl," exclaimed Hamilton, who was holding her hand between
both his own, "do not let your imagination run away with you. I am very
well with Burr, and he is jealous by fits and starts only. Why in the
name of heaven should he be jealous? He has never given a thought to the
welfare of the country, and I have devoted myself to the subject since
boyhood. If I reap the reward--and God knows the future is precarious
enough--why should he grudge me a power for which he has never striven?
I know him to be ambitious, and I believe him to be unscrupulous, and
for that reason I have been glad that he has hitherto kept out of
politics; for he would be of no service to the country, would not
hesitate to sacrifice it to his own ends--unless I am a poor student of
character. But as to personal enmity against me, or jealousy because I
occupy a position he has never sought,--and he is a year older than I,
remember,--I find that hard to believe, as well as this other; he is not
powerful enough to unite two such factions."

"He has a tongue as persuasive from its cunning as yours is in its
impetuosity, and he has convinced greater men than himself of his
usefulness. Believe me, Alexander, I speak of what I know, not of what I
suspect. Accept the fact, if you will not be warned. You always
underrate your enemies. Your confidence in your own genius--a confidence
which so much has occurred to warrant--blinds you to the power of
others. Remember the old adage: Pride goeth before a fall--although I
despise the humble myself; the world owes nothing to them. But I have
often trembled for the time when your high-handed methods and your scorn
of inferior beings would knock the very foundations from under your
feet. Now, I will say no more, and we part for ever. Perhaps if you had
not worn that colour to-night, I should not have betrayed my
family--heaven knows! We women are compounded of so many contradictory
motives. Thank your heaven that you men are not half so complex."

"My dear friend," said Hamilton, drily, "you women are not half so
complex as men. You may lay claim to a fair share because your
intelligence is above the average, but that is the point--complexity is
a matter of intelligence, and as men are, as a rule, far more
intelligent than women, with far more densely furnished brains--"

But here she boxed his ears and left the room. She returned in a moment.
"You have not thanked me!" she exclaimed. "I deserve to be thanked."

Hamilton put his arm about her and kissed her affectionately.

"From the bottom of my heart," he said. "I deeply appreciate the
impulse--and the sacrifice."

"But you won't heed," she said, with a sigh. "Good-by, Alexander! I
think Betsey is looking for you."


Hamilton for many months was far too busy with the reports he sent to
Congress in rapid succession, above all with the one concerning the
establishment of a National Bank, to be presented at the opening of the
next Session, and with the routine of business connected with his
department, to interfere in politics. He warned General Schuyler,
however, and hoped that the scandal connected with the State lands, in
which Burr was deeply implicated, would argue for the statesman in his
contest with a mere politician. But Burr, in common with the other
commissioners, was acquitted, although no satisfactory explanation of
their astounding transactions was given, and General Schuyler lost the
election as much through personal unpopularity as through the industry
of Burr and the determined efforts of the Livingstons. Schuyler, the
tenderest of men in his friendships, was as austere in his public manner
as in his virtues, and inflexible in demanding the respect due to his
rank and position. Of a broad intelligence, and a statesman of
respectable stature, he knew little of the business of politics and
cared less. He took his defeat with philosophy, regretting it more for
the animosity toward his son-in-law it betokened than because it removed
him temporarily from public life, and returned with his family to
Albany, Hamilton was annoyed and disgusted, and resolved to keep his eye
on Burr in the future. While he himself was in power the United States
should have no set-backs that he could prevent, and if Burr realized his
reading of his character he should manage to balk his ambitions if they
threatened the progress of the country. Kitty Livingston he did not see
again for many months, for her father died on July 25th. Hamilton heard
of William Livingston's death with deep regret, for Liberty Hall was
among the brightest of his memories; but events and emotions were
crowding in his life as they never had crowded before, and he had little
time for reminiscence.

Congress adjourned on the 12th of August to meet in Philadelphia in
December. New York followed Washington to the ferry stairs upon the day
of his departure, weeping not only for that great man's loss, but for
the glory that went with him. "That vile Philadelphia," as Angelica
Church, in a letter to Betsey of consolatory lament, characterized the
city where Independence was born, was to be the capital of the Nation
once more, New York to console herself with her commerce and the
superior cleanliness of her streets. Those who could, followed the
"Court," and those who could not, travelled the weary distance over the
corduroy roads through the forests, and over swamps and rivers, as often
as circumstances would permit. Of the former was Mrs. Croix, whose
particular court protested it must have the solace of her presence in a
city to which few went willingly. Clinton heaped her with reproaches,
but she argued sweetly that he was outvoted, and that she should ever go
where duty called. "She felt politics to be her mission," and in truth
she enjoyed its intrigues, the double game she played, with all her
feminine soul. Hamilton would not help himself in her valuable
storehouse, but it pleased her to know that she held dangerous secrets
in her hands, could confound many an unwary politician. And she had her
methods, as we have seen, of springing upon Hamilton many a useful bit
of knowledge, and of assisting him in ways unsuspected of any. She
established herself in lodgings in Chestnut Street, not unlike those in
which she had spent so many happy hours for two years past, inasmuch as
they were situated on the first floor and communicated with a little
garden. Her removal was looked upon as quite natural, and so admirably
did she deport herself that even Mrs. Washington received her in time.

Philadelphia was a larger city than New York, with wide ill-kept
streets, good pavements, and many fine houses and public buildings.
Chestnut Street was the great thoroughfare, shopping district, and
promenade. It was a city renowned for social activity and "crucifying
expenses." Naturally its press was as jubilant over the revival of its
ancient splendour as that of disappointed New York was scurrilous and
vindictive. When the latter was not caricaturing Robert Morris,
staggering off with the Administration on its back, or "Miss Assumption
and her bastard brats," its anti-Federal part was abusing Hamilton as
the arch-fiend who had sold the country, and applying to him every
adjective of vituperation that fury and coarseness could suggest. There
were poems, taunts, jibes, and squibs, printed as rapidly as the press
and ingenuity could turn them out. If our ancestors were capable of
appreciating the literary excellence of their pamphleteers, as many of
those who have replaced them to-day could not, it must be admitted that
we do not rage and hate so violently. The most hysteric effusions of our
yellow press, or the caustic utterances of our reputable newspapers, are
tame indeed before the daily cyclones of a time when everybody who did
not love his political neighbor hated him with a deadly virulence of
which we know little to-day. We may be improved, merely commercialized,
or more diffuse in our interests. In those days every man was a
politician first and himself after.

The violence of party feeling engendered once more by the debates over
Hamilton's Report spread over the country like a prairie fire, and raged
until, in the North at least, it was met by the back fire of increasing
prosperity. As the summer waned farmers and merchants beheld the prices
of public securities going up, heard that in Holland the foreign loan
had gone above par, and that two hundred and seventy-eight thousand
dollars of the domestic debt had been purchased and cancelled at a cost
of one hundred and fifty thousand, saw trade reviving, felt their own
burdens lighten with the banishment of the State debt. To sing the
praises of the Assumption Bill was but a natural sequence, and from
thence to a constant panegyric of Hamilton. The anti-Federalist press
was drowned in the North by the jubilance of the Federal and its
increasing recruits, but in the South everything connected with the
Government in general and Hamilton in particular was unholy, and the
language in which the sentiment was expressed was unholier.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was established in a little house in Philadelphia,
at work upon his second Report on the Public Credit, and elaborating his
argument in favour of a National Bank. Betsey had been more fortunate
than many in getting her house in order within a reasonable time, for
others were camping in two rooms while the carpenters hammered over the
rest of the neglected mansions. Washington arrived in November and took
possession of the stately home of Robert Morris, although he grumbled
that the stables would hold but twelve horses. It was a splendid
mansion, however, and filled not only with the fine collections of the
rich merchant, but with many beautiful works of art that the President
brought from Mount Vernon. Congress opened on the 6th of December.

If Hamilton had given only an occasional half-amused, half-irritated
attention to the journalistic and pamphlet warfare in which he had been
the target, he now found a domestic engagement confronting him which
commanded his attentions and roused all the fighting Scotch blood in his
composition. Jefferson had done much and distressful thinking during the
summer recess. In the leisure of his extensive, not to say magnificent,
Virginia estates, and while entertaining the neighbouring aristocracy,
he had moved slowly to the conclusion that he approved of nothing in the
Administration, and that Hamilton was a danger to the Nation and a
colossus in his path. Assumption he held to be a measure of the very
devil, and fumed whenever he reflected upon his part in its
accomplishment. "I was made to hold a candle!" he would explain
apologetically. "He hoodwinked me, made a fool of me."

For a statesman of forty-seven, and one of the most distinguished and
successful men in the country, the literary author of The Declaration of
Independence, the father of many beneficent and popular laws in his own
State, a minister to foreign courts and one of the deepest and subtlest
students of human nature of his century, to find himself fooled and
played with by a young man of thirty-three, relegated by him to a second
place in the Cabinet and country, means--meant in those days, at
least--hate of the most remorseless quality. Jefferson was like a
volcano with bowels of fire and a crater which spilled over in the
night. He smouldered and rumbled, a natural timidity preventing the
splendour of fireworks. But he was deadly.

He and Madison met often during these holidays, and an object of their
growing confidence was James Monroe, the new Senator from Virginia.
Monroe was a fighter, and hatred of Hamilton was his religion. Moreover,
he disapproved with violence of every measure of the new government, and
everybody connected with it, from Washington down, Jefferson excepted;
Randolph he held to be a trimmer, and overlooked the fact that although
he himself had opposed the Constitution with all his words, he was one
of the first to take office under it. Jefferson needed but this younger
man's incentive to disapprove more profoundly not only assumption, but
Hamilton's design to establish a National Bank. That was the most
criminal evidence of an ultimate dash for a throne which the Secretary
of the Treasury, whose place in the Cabinet should have been second to
his own, but who was the very head and front of the Administration, had
yet betrayed. And as for the triumphal progress of Washington through
the States in the previous autumn, and again before leaving for Mount
Vernon upon the close of the last Congress, a king could have done no
more. The new Republic was tottering on its rotten foundations, and
Jefferson and his able lieutenants vowed themselves to the rescue.
Madison was the anti-government leader in the House, Monroe would abet
him in the Senate, and Jefferson would undertake the fight in the
Cabinet. It cannot be said that he liked the prospect, for he read his
fellow-beings too well to mistake the mettle of Hamilton. He was a
peaceable soul, except when in his study with pen in hand, but stem this
monarchical tide he would, and bury Hamilton under the dam.

"We are three to one," he said reassuringly to his coadjutors. "He is
brilliant. I do not deny it. But against a triple power--"

"He is worth any three men I ever knew," said Madison, drearily. "We
shall have to work harder than he will."

Jefferson lifted his pen, and squinted thoughtfully at its point.
Monroe, who was the youngest of the trio, laughed aloud.

And these were the forces of which Hamilton felt the shock shortly after
the convening of Congress.


On the 13th of December Hamilton sent to the House of Representatives
his second Report on Public Credit--no longer a nomen of bitter
sarcasm--and the Report in favour of a National Bank. Congress was once
more on edge. Since his first Great Report, it had considered and
wrangled over his successive Reports on State Debits and Credits, West
Point, Public Lands, Estimates, and Renewal of Certificates; and it had
lived through the hot summer on the prospect of the excitement which the
bold and creative Secretary would surely provide. Even his enemies loved
Hamilton in their way, for life was torpid when he rested on his

The anti-Federalists, had they needed an additional incentive for the
coming battle, a condition to rouse all their strength and mettle, found
it in the rapidly increasing prosperity of the country, which had raised
Hamilton to a height of popularity from which it would be an historic
triumph to drag him down. He was, indeed, almost at the zenith of a
reputation which few men have achieved. From end to end of the Union his
name was on every lip, sometimes coupled with a hiss, but oftener with
every expression of honour and admiration that the language could
furnish. Even in the South he had his followers, and in the North and
East it was hardly worth a man's nose to abuse him. He was a magician,
who could make the fortunes of any man quick enough to seize his
opportunities, and the saviour of the national honour and fortunes. His
fame obscured that of Washington, and abroad he was by far the most
interesting and significant figure in the young country. No wonder the
anti-Federalists trembled for the future, and with all the vigour of
hardened muscles fought his scheme for allying the moneyed classes with
the Government.

Hamilton made no secret of his design so closely to attach the wealthy
men of the country to the central Government that they must stand or
fall with it, coming to its rescue in every crisis; and time has
vindicated his far-sighted policy. But when the National Bank was in the
preliminary stages of its journey, certain of its hosts in Congress saw
but another horrid menace to the liberties of the people, another step
toward the final establishment of a monarchy after the British pattern.
The old arguments of subservience to British institutions in the matter
of funding, and other successful pets of the Secretary, were dragged
forth and wrangled over, in connection with this new and doubly
pernicious measure of a National Bank.

Hamilton recommended that a number of subscribers should be incorporated
into a bank, to be known as the Bank of the United States; the capital
to be ten million dollars; the number of shares twenty-five thousand;
the par value of each share four hundred dollars; the Government to
become a subscriber to the amount of two millions, and to require in
return a loan of an equal sum, payable in ten yearly instalments of two
hundred thousand dollars each. The rest of the capital stock would be
open to the public, to be paid for, one-quarter in gold and silver, and
three-quarters in the six or three per cent certificates of the national
debt. The life of the bank was to end in 1811. As an inducement for
prompt subscriptions a pledge would be given that for twenty years to
come Congress would incorporate no other.

It is odd reading for us, with a bank in every street, not only those
old diatribes in Congress against banks of all sorts, but Hamilton's
elaborate arguments in favour of banks in general, the benefits and
conveniences they confer upon individuals as well as nations. But in
those days there were but three banks in the Union, and each had been
established against violent opposition, Hamilton, in particular, having
carried the Bank of New York through by unremitting personal effort. The
average man preferred his stocking. Representatives from backwoods
districts were used to such circulating mediums as military warrants,
guard certificates, horses, cattle, cow-bells, land, and whiskey. They
looked askance at a bank as a sort of whirlpool into which wealth would
disappear, and bolt out at the bottom into the pockets of a few
individuals who understood what was beyond the average intellect. But by
far the most disquieting objection brought forward against this plan of
the Secretary's was its alleged unconstitutionality.

Monroe, although a new man, and speaking seldom, exerted a systematic
opposition in the Senate, and Madison, in the House, argued, with
lucidity and persistence, that the Constitution had no power to grant a
charter to any such institution as the Secretary proposed. Others argued
that the success of this new scheme would infringe upon the rights of
the States, and still others thundered the everlasting accusations of
monarchical design. Nevertheless, the bill for granting the required
charter passed both Houses by a handsome majority. The able Federalists
had contemptuously dissected the arguments against it with greater skill
than even Madison could command; and confidence in Hamilton, by this
time, practically was a religion. The bill was sent to Washington to
sign or veto, and the anti-Federalists, disconcerted and alarmed by
their signal defeat in Congress, rested their final hope on Jefferson.

The President, according to law, had but ten days in which to sign or
veto a bill: if he hesitated but a moment beyond the constitutional
limit, the bill became a law without his signature. It may safely be
said that these ten days were the most miserable of Washington's life so
far, although they were but the forerunner of many to come.

By this time the Cabinet had acquired the habit of assembling for
conference about a council table in the President's house. Washington
sat at the head of the table, with Hamilton on his left, and Jefferson
on his right. Knox, who would have frowned upon the Almighty had he
contradicted Hamilton, sat beside his Captain. Randolph sat opposite,
his principles with Jefferson, but his intellect so given to
hair-splitting, that in critical moments this passion to weigh every
side of a proposition in turn frequently resulted in the wrench of a
concession by Hamilton, while Jefferson fumed. As time went on,
Washington fell into the habit of extending his long arms upon the table
in front of him, and clasping his imposing hands in the manner of a

Jefferson began a tentative showing of his colours while the bill was
fighting its stormy way through Congress, and Hamilton was a brief while
perceiving his drift and appreciating his implacable enmity. The first
time that Jefferson encountered the lightning in Hamilton's eye, the
quivering of his nostril, as he half rose from his chair under the
sudden recognition of what he was to expect, his legs slid forward
limply, and he turned his head toward the door. Washington suppressed a
smile, but it was long before he smiled again, Hamilton would have no
hints and innuendoes; he forced his enemy to show his hand. But although
he wrung from Jefferson his opposition to the Bank and to every scheme
the Secretary of the Treasury had proposed, he could not drag him into
the open. Jefferson was deprecating, politely determined to serve the
country in his own way, lost in admiration of this opponent's intellect,
but forced to admit his mistakes--the mistakes of a too ardent mind. The
more bitter and caustic the sarcasms that leaped from Hamilton's tongue,
the more suave he grew, for placidity was his only weapon of
self-preservation; a war of words with Hamilton, and he would be made
ridiculous in the presence of his colleagues and Washington.
Occasionally the volcano flared through his pale eyes, and betrayed such
hate and resentment that Washington elevated his hands an inch. The
President sat like a stoic, with a tornado on one side of him and a
growling Vesuvius on the other, and exhibited an impartiality, in spite
of the fact that Jefferson daily betrayed his hostility to the
Administration, which revealed but another of his superhuman attributes.
But there is a psychological manifestation of mental bias, no matter
what the control, and some men are sensitive enough to feel it.
Jefferson was quite aware that Washington loved Hamilton and believed in
him thoroughly, and he felt the concealed desire to side openly with the
Secretary to whom, practically, had been given the reins of government.
Washington, rather than show open favouritism, even to Hamilton, to whom
he felt the profoundest gratitude, would have resigned his high office;
but the desire was in his head, and Jefferson felt it. The campaign
open, he kept up a nagging siege upon Washington's convictions in favour
of his aggressive Secretary's measures, finding constant excuses to be
alone with the President. Hamilton, on the other hand, dismissed the
subject when left alone with Washington, unless responding to a demand.
He frequently remained to the midday meal with the family, and was as
gay and lively as if Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were in the limbo to
which he gladly would have consigned them. His nature was mercurial in
one, at least, of its essences, and a sudden let-down, followed by
congenial company, restored his equilibrium at once. But Washington
watched the development of the blackness and violence of his deeper
passions with uneasiness and regret, finally with alarm.

Hamilton, in truth, was roused to his dregs. The sneaking retreat of
Madison from his standard and affections, the rancorous enmity of
Monroe, with whom he had fought side by side and been well with whenever
they had been thrown together in the bitter winters of inaction; the
slow, cool, determined, deadly opposition of Jefferson, whom he
recognized as a giant in intellect and despised as a man with that hot
contempt for the foe who will not strip and fight in the open, which
whips a passionate nature to the point of fury, had converted Hamilton
into a colossus of hate which, as Madison had intimated, far surpassed
the best endeavours of the powerful trio. He hated harder, for he had
more to hate with,--stronger and deeper passions, ampler resources in
his intellect, and an energy of temperament which Jefferson and Madison,
recruited by Monroe, could not outweigh. He saw that he was in for the
battle of his life, and that its finish might be deferred for years;
for he made no such mistake as to underrate the strength and resources
of this triple enemy; he knew that it would last until one or the other
were worn out. Hamilton had no thought of defeat; he never contemplated
it for a moment; his faith in himself and in the wisdom of his measures
was absolute; what he looked forward to with the deepest irritation was
the persistent opposition, the clogging of his wheels of progress, the
constant personal attacks which might weaken him with the country before
his multitudinous objects should be accomplished. He suggested resource
after resource to his faithful and brilliant disciples in Congress, and
he determined to force Jefferson to leave the Cabinet.

"If he only would take himself out of that room with a defiant admission
that he intended to head the opposite party and fight me to the death!"
he exclaimed to Mrs. Croix, one day. "What right has he to sit there at
Washington's hand, a member of his Cabinet, ostensibly in its first
place, and at war with every measure of the Administration? He cannot
oppose me without involving the President, under whom he holds office,
and if he had a grain of decent feeling he would resign rather than
occupy such an anomalous position."

"He intends to force you to resign."

"You don't mean to say that he is coming here?" asked Hamilton, in
disgust. "Who next?"

"Mr. Jefferson succumbed quite three weeks ago," said Mrs. Croix, gaily.
"He amuses me, and I am instilling the conviction that no human being
can force you to do anything you don't want to do, and that the sooner
he retreats gracefully the better."

Hamilton shrugged his shoulders and made no answer. He had ceased
remonstrance long since. If it pleased her to think she was fighting the
battles he was forced to fight with undiminished vigour himself, he
should be the last to interfere with her amusement. She was a born
intrigante, and would have been miserable freckling her complexion in
the open sunlight. He was too grateful to her at this time to risk a
quarrel, or to condemn her for any of her violations of masculine
standards. It was to her he poured out his wrath, after an encounter
with Jefferson which had roused him too viciously for reaction at
Washington's board or at his own. His wife he spared in every way. Not
only was her delicate health taxed to the utmost with social duties
which could not be avoided, the management of her household affairs, and
an absorbing and frequently ailing family, but he would have controlled
himself had he burst, before he would have terrified her with a glimpse
of passions of whose existence she had not a suspicion. To her and his
family he was ever the most amiable and indulgent of men, giving them
every spare moment he could command, and as delighted as a schoolboy
with a holiday, when he could spend an hour in the nursery, an evening
with his wife, or take a ramble through the woods with his boys. He took
a deep pride in his son Philip, directed his studies and habits, and was
as pleased with every evidence of his progress as had he seen Madison
riding a rail in a coat of tar and feathers. He coddled and petted the
entire family, particularly his little daughter Angelica, and they
adored him, and knew naught of his depths.

But Mrs. Croix knew them. In her management of Hamilton she made few
mistakes, passionately as she loved him. It was in her secluded presence
he stormed himself cool, was indignantly sympathized with first, then
advised, then soothed. He was made to understand that the more he
revealed the black and implacable deeps of his nature, the more was he
worshipped, the more keen the response from other and not dissimilar
deeps. His wife was necessary to him in many ways, his Egeria in many
more. Although he would have sacrificed the last to the first, had it
come to an issue, he would have felt as if one-half of him had been
cruelly divorced. Few women understand this dual nature in men, and few
are the men who do not. It has been known to exist in those who make no
pretensions to genius, and in Hamilton was as natural as the versatility
of his intellect. When with one he locked the other in the recesses of
his mind as successfully as when at college he had accomplished
herculean feats of mental accumulation by keeping but one thing before
his thought at a time. What he wanted he would have, so long as his
family were in no way affected; and had it not been for Mrs. Croix at
this time, it might have been worse for Betsey. She cooled his fevers;
her counsel was always sound. And her rooms and herself were beautiful.
She had her way of banishing the world by drawing her soft blue curtains
and lighting her many candles. Had she been a fool, Hamilton would have
tired of her in a month; as it was, he often thought of her as the most
confidential and dispensing of his friends, and no more.

During the preceding two years of their acquaintance there had been many
quarrels, caused by furious bursts of temper on the part of the lady,
when Hamilton forgot her for a month or more. There were times when she
was the solitary woman of Earth, and others when she might have reigned
on Mars. He was very busy, and he had countless interests to absorb time
and thought. He never pretended to more than a romantic passion for her,
and deep as was her own infatuation, it was sometimes close to hate; for
she was a woman whose vanity was as strong as her passions. At this
time, however, he felt a frequent need of her, and she made the most of
the opportunity.


Meanwhile, Washington, deeply disturbed by the arguments in the press
and Congress against the constitutionality of the National Bank, had
privately asked for the written opinions of Jefferson and Randolph, and
for a form of veto from Madison. They were so promptly forthcoming that
they might have been biding demand. Washington read them carefully,
then, too worried and impatient for formalities, carried them himself to
Hamilton's house.

"For God's sake read them at once and tell me what they amount to," he
said, throwing the bundle of papers on the table. "Of course you must
prepare me an answer in writing, but I want your opinion at once. I will

Long years after, when Betsey was an old woman, someone asked her if she
remembered any incidents in connection with the establishment of the
great Bank. She replied, "Yes, I remember it all distinctly. One day
General Washington called at the house, looking terribly worried. He
shut himself up in the study with my husband for hours, and they talked
nearly all the time. When he went away he looked much more cheerful.
That night my husband did not go to bed at all, but sat up writing; and
the next day we had a Bank."

Hamilton's answer, both verbally and in a more elaborate form, was so
able and sound a refutation of every point advanced by the enemy that
Washington hesitated no longer and signed the bill during the last
moments remaining to him. Years later, when the same question was raised
again, Chief Justice Marshall, the most brilliant ornament, by common
consent, the Supreme Court of the United States has had, admitted that
he could add nothing to Hamilton's argument. It must, also, have
convinced Madison; for while President of the United States, and his
opportunity for displaying the consistencies of his intellect,
unrivalled, he signed the charter of the Second National Bank. Monroe,
whose party was in power, and able to defeat any obnoxious measure of
the Federalists, advocated; the second Bank as heartily as he had cursed
the first. His defence of his conduct was a mixture of insolent
frankness and verbiage. He said: "As to the constitutional objection, it
formed no serious obstacle. In voting against the Bank in the first
instance, I was governed essentially by policy. The construction I gave
to the Constitution I considered a strict one. In the latter instance it
was more liberal but, according to my judgement, justified by its
powers." If anyone can tell what he meant, doubtless his own shade would
be grateful.

Hamilton's second Report on the Public Credit had beer buffeted about
quite as mercilessly as the Report in favour of a bank. The customs
officers had, during the past year collected $1,900,000, which sufficed
to pay two-thirds of the annual expenses of the Government. There was
still a deficit of $826,000, and to meet future contingencies of a
similar nature, the Secretary of the Treasury urged the passage of an
Excise Bill.

Even his enemies admired his courage, for no measure could be more
unpopular, raise more widespread wrath. It was regarded as a deliberate
attempt to deprive man of his most cherished vice; and every argument
was brought forth in opposition, from the historic relation of whiskey
to health and happiness, to the menace of adopting another British
measure. The bill passed; but it was a different matter to enforce it,
as many an excise officer reflected, uncheerfully, whilst riding a rail.
On the 28th of January Hamilton sent in his Report in favour of the
establishment of a mint, with details so minute that he left the framers
of the necessary bill little excuse for delay; but it had the same
adventurous and agitated experience of its predecessors, and only limped
through, in an amended form, after the wildest outburst of democratic
fanaticism which any of the measures of Hamilton had induced. The
proposition to stamp the coins with the head of the President was
conclusive of an immediate design to place a crown upon the head of
Washington. Doubtless the leaders of the Federal party, under the able
tuition of their despot, had their titles ready, their mine laid.
Jefferson, in the Cabinet, protested with such solemn persistence
against so dangerous a precedent, and Hamilton perforated him with such
arrows of ridicule, that Washington exploded with wrath, and demanded to
know if neither never intended to yield a point to the other.

During this session of Congress, Hamilton also sent in Reports on Trade
with India and China, and on the Dutch Loan. He was fortunate in being
able to forget his enemies for days and even weeks at a time, when his
existence was so purely impersonal that every capacity of his mind, save
the working, slept soundly. By now, he had his department in perfect
running order; and his successors have accepted his legacy, with its
infinitude of detail, its unvarying practicality, with gratitude and
trifling alterations. When Jefferson disposed himself in the Chair of
State, in 1801, he appointed Albert Gallatin--the ablest financier,
after Hamilton, the country has produced--Secretary of the Treasury, and
begged him to sweep the department clean of the corruption amidst which
Hamilton had sat and spun his devilish schemes. Gallatin, after a
thorough and conscientious search for political microbes, informed his
Chief that in no respect could the department be improved, that there
was not a trace of crime, past or present. Jefferson was disconcerted;
but, as a matter of fact, his administrations were passed complacently
amidst Hamilton legacies and institutions. Jefferson's hour had come. He
could undo all that he had denounced in his rival as monarchical,
aristocratical, pernicious to the life of Democracy. But the
administrations of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, ran from first to
last on those Federal wheels which are still in use, protected within
and without by Federal institutions. But their architect was sent to his
grave soon after the rise of his arch-enemy to power, was beyond
humiliation or party triumph; it would be folly to war with a spirit,
and greater not to let well enough alone. But that is a far cry.
Meanwhile the Bank was being rushed through, and its establishment was
anticipated with the keenest interest, and followed by a season of crazy
speculation, dissatisfaction, and vituperation. But this Hamilton had
expected, and he used his pen constantly to point out the criminal folly
and inevitable consequences of speculation.


Congress adjourned while the excitement was at its height. Washington
went to Mount Vernon, the Cabinet scattered, and there was an interval
of peace. Philadelphia in summer was always unhealthy, and liable to an
outbreak of fever at any moment. Hamilton sent his family to the
Schuyler estate at Saratoga. Mrs. Croix had gone as early as May to the
New England coast; for even her magnificent constitution had felt the
strain of that exciting session, and Philadelphia was not too
invigorating in winter. Hamilton remained alone in his home, glad of the
abundant leisure which the empty city afforded to catch up with the
arrears of his work, to design methods for financial relief against the
time to apply them, and to prepare his Report on Manufactures, a paper
destined to become as celebrated and almost as widespread in its
influence as the great Report on Public Credit. It required days and
nights of thinking, research, correspondence, comparison, and writing;
and how in the midst of all this mass of business, this keen anxiety
regarding the whirlwind of speculation--which was involving some of the
leading men in the country, and threatening the young Government with a
new disaster; how, while sitting up half the night with his finger on
the public pulse, waiting for the right moment to apply his remedies, he
managed to entangle himself in a personal difficulty, would be an
inscrutable mystery, were any man but Alexander Hamilton in question.

I shall not enter into the details of the Reynolds affair. No intrigue
was ever less interesting. Nor should I make even a passing allusion to
it, were it not for its political ultimates. A couple of blackmailers
laid a trap for the Secretary of the Treasury, and he walked into it, as
the wisest of men have done before and since, when the woman has been
sufficiently attractive at the right moment. This woman was common and
sordid, but she was young and handsome, and her affectation of violent
attachment, if ungrammatical, was plausible enough to convince any man
accustomed to easy conquest; and the most astute of men, provided his
passions be strong enough, can be fooled by any woman at once designing
and seductive. Ardent susceptibility was in the very essence of
Hamilton, with Scotland and France in his blood, the West Indies the
mould of his youthful being, and the stormy inheritance of his parents.

But although Hamilton might succumb to a woman of Mrs. Reynold's type,
she could not hold him. After liberally relieving the alleged pecuniary
distress of this charmer, and weary of her society, he did his best to
get rid of her. She protested. So did he. It was then that he was made
aware of the plot The woman's husband appeared, and announced that only
a thousand dollars would heal his wounded honour, and that if it were
not immediately forthcoming, he would write to Mrs. Hamilton.

Hamilton was furious. His first impulse was to tell the man to do his
worst, for anything in the nature of coercion stripped him for the fray
at once. But an hour of reflection cooled his blood. No one was to blame
but himself. If he had permitted himself to be made a fool of, it was
but just that he should take the consequences, and not cruelly wound the
woman he loved the better for his vagaries. Moreover, such a scandal
would seriously affect the high office he filled, might indeed force him
to resignation; not only thwarting his great ambitions, but depriving
the country of services which no other man had the ability or the will
to render. And a few moments forecast of the triumph of his enemies, not
only over himself but possibly over his party, in case of his downfall,
was sufficient in itself to force him to terms. Few are the momentous
occasions in which men are governed by a single motive. Hamilton's
ambitions were welded into the future happiness and glory of the country
he had so ardently adopted. And if love of power was his ruling passion,
it certainly was directed to the loftiest of ends. To desire to create a
nation out of the resources of a vast understanding, controlled by
wisdom and honour, is an ambition which should be dignified with a
higher name. Small and purely personal ambitions were unknown to
Hamilton, his gifts were given him for the elevation of the human race;
but he would rather have reigned in hell than have sunk to
insignificance on earth. As he remarked once to Kitty Livingston, the
complexity of man so far exceeds that of the average woman, complexity
being purely a matter of brain and having no roots whatever in sex, that
it were a waste of valuable time to analyze its ramifications, and the
crossings and entanglements of its threads. Hamilton paid the money,
yielded further to the extent of several hundred dollars, then the
people disappeared, and he hoped that he had heard the last of them.
Fortunately his habits were methodical, the result of his mercantile
training on St. Croix, and he preserved the correspondence.


Hamilton looked forward to the next Congressional term with no
delusions. He polished his armour until it was fit to blind his
adversaries, tested the temper of every weapon, sharpened every blade,
arranged them for immediate availment. In spite of the absorbing and
disconcerting interests of the summer, he had followed in thought the
mental processes of his enemies, kept a sharp eye out for their new
methods of aggression. Themselves had had no more intimate knowledge of
their astonishment, humiliation, and impotent fury at the successive
victories of the invulnerable Secretary of the Treasury, than had
Hamilton himself. He knew that they had confidently hoped to beat him by
their combined strength and unremitting industry, and by the growing
power of their party, before the finish of the preceding term. The
Federalists no longer had their former majority in Congress upon all
questions, for many of the men who, under that title, had been devoted
adherents of the Constitution, were become alarmed at the constant talk
of the monarchical tendencies of the Government, of the centralizing
aristocratic measures of the Secretary of the Treasury, at the
"unrepublican" formalities and elegance of Washington's "Court," at his
triumphal progresses through the country, and at the enormous one-man
power as exhibited in the person of Hamilton. Upon these minds
Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe had worked with unremitting subtlety. It
was not so much that the early Federalists wished to see Hamilton
dragged from his lofty position, for they admired him, and were willing
to acknowledge his services to the country; but that the idea grew
within them that he must be properly checked, lest they suddenly find
themselves subjects again. They realized that they had been running to
him for advice upon every matter, great and insignificant, since the new
Congress began its sittings, and that they had adopted the greater part
of his counsels without question; they believed that Hamilton was
becoming the Congress as he already was the Administration; and
overlooked the fact that legislative authority as against executive had
no such powerful supporter as the Secretary of the Treasury. But it was
not an era when men reasoned as exhaustively as they might have done.
They were terrified by bogies, and the blood rarely was out of their
heads. "Monarchism must be checked," and Hamilton for some months past
had watched the rapid welding of the old anti-Federalists and the timid
Federalists into what was shortly to be known, for a time, as the
Republican party. That Jefferson had been at work all summer, as during
the previous term, with his subtle, insinuating, and convincing pen, he
well knew, and for what the examples of such men as Jefferson and
Madison counted--taking their stand on the high ground of stemming the
menace to personal liberties. The Republican party was to be stronger
far than the old anti-Federal, for it was to be a direct and constant
appeal to the controlling passion of man, vanity; and Hamilton believed
that did it obtain the reins of power too early in the history of the
Nation, confusion, if not anarchy, would result: not only was it too
soon to try new experiments, diametrically opposed to those now in
operation, but, under the tutelage of Jefferson, the party was in favour
of vesting more power in the masses. Hamilton had no belief in
entrusting power to any man or body of men that had not brains,
education, and a developed reasoning capacity. He was a Republican but
not a Democrat. He recognized, long before the rival party saw their
mistake in nomenclature, that this Jefferson school marked the
degeneracy of republicanism into democracy. Knowing how absurd and
unfounded was all the hysterical talk about monarchism, and that time
would vindicate the first Administration and its party as Republican in
its very essence, he watched with deep, and often with impersonal,
uneasiness the growth of a party which would denationalize the
government, scatter its forces, and interpret the Constitution in a
fashion not intended by the most protesting of its framers. Hamilton had
in an extraordinary degree the faculty which Spencer calls
representativeness; but there were some things he could not foresee, and
one was that when the Republicans insinuated themselves to power they
would rest on their laurels, let play the inherent conservatism of man,
and gladly accept the goods the Federal party had provided them. The
three men who wrote and harangued and intrigued against Hamilton for
years, were to govern as had they been the humblest of Hamiltonians. But
this their great antagonist was in unblest ignorance of, for he, too,
reasoned in the heat and height and thick of the fray; and he made
himself ready to dispute every inch of the ground, checkmate every move,
force Jefferson into retirement, and invigorate and encourage his own
ranks. The majority in both Houses was still Federal, if diminished, and
he determined that it should remain so.

As early as October his watching eye caught the first flash in the
sunlight of a new blade in the enemies' armoury. One Freneau had come to
town. He had some reputation as a writer of squibs and verses, and
Hamilton knew him to be a political hireling utterly without principle.
When, therefore, he heard incidentally that this man had lately been in
correspondence and conference with the Virginian junta, and particularly
that he had been "persuaded by his old friend Madison to settle in
Philadelphia," had received an appointment as translating clerk in the
Department of State, and purposed to start a newspaper called the
_National Gazette_ in opposition to Fenno's Administration organ, _The
United States Gazette_, he knew what he was to expect. Fenno's paper was
devoted to the Administration, and to the Secretary of the Treasury in
particular; it was the medium through which Hamilton addressed most of
his messages to the people. Naturally it was of little use to his
enemies; and that Jefferson and his aides had realized the value of an
organ of attack, he divined very quickly. He stated his suspicions to
Washington immediately upon the President's arrival, and warned him to
expect personal assault and abuse.

"There is now every evidence of a strong and admirably organized cabal,"
he added. "And to pull us down they will not stop at abuse of even you,
if failure haunts them. I shall get the most of it, perhaps all. I hope
so, for I am used to it."

He laughed, and quite as light-heartedly as ever; but Washington looked
at him with uneasiness.

"You are a terrible fighter, Hamilton," he said. "I have never seen or
dreamed of your equal. Why not merely oppose to them a massive
resistance? Why be continually on the warpath? They give you a tentative
scratch, and you reply with a blow under the jaw, from which they rise
with a sullener determination to ruin you, than ever. When you are alone
with your pen and the needs of the country, you might have the wisdom of
a thousand years in your brain, and I doubt if at such times you
remember your name; you are one of the greatest, wisest, coolest
statesmen of any age; but the moment you come forth to the open, you are
not so much a political leader as a warlike Scot at the head of his
clan, and readier by far to make a dash into the neighbouring fastness
than to wait for an attack. Are you and Jefferson going to fight
straight through this session?--for if you are, I shall no longer yearn
so much for the repose of Mount Vernon as for the silences of the tomb."

Washington spoke lightly, as he often did when they were alone, and he
had returned from Virginia refreshed; but Hamilton answered

"We both behaved abominably last year, and it was shocking that you
should bear the brunt of it. I'll do my best to control myself in the
Cabinet--although that man rouses all the devil in me; but not to fight
at the head of my party. Oh! Can the leopard change his spots? I fear I
shall die with my back against the wall, sir, and my boots on." "I
haven't the slightest doubt of it. But be careful of giving too free and
constant a play to your passions and your capacity for rancour, or your
character will deteriorate. Tell me," he added abruptly, narrowing his
eyes and fixing Hamilton with a prolonged scrutiny, "do you not feel its
effects already?"

By this time the early, half-unwilling, half-magnetized affection which
the boy in Hamilton had yielded to his Chief had given place to a
consistent admiration for the exalted character, the wisdom, justice,
and self-control of the President of the United States, and to a devoted
attachment. The bond between the two men grew closer every day, and only
the end of all things severed it. Hamilton, therefore, replied as
frankly as if Washington had asked his opinion on the temper of the
country, instead of probing the sacred recesses of his spirit:--

"There have been times when I have sat down and stared into myself with
horror; when I have felt as if sitting in the ruins of my nature. I have
caught myself up again and again, realizing where I was drifting. I have
let a fiend loose within me, and I have turned upon it at times with a
disgust so bitter and a terror so over-mastering that the mildness which
has resulted has made me feel indifferent and even amiable to mine
enemies. Whether this intimate knowledge of myself will save me, God
knows; but when some maddening provocation comes, after reaction has run
its course, I rage more hotly than ever, and only a sense of personal
dignity keeps me from using my fists. I am two-thirds passion, and I am
afraid that in the end it will consume me. I live so intensely, in my
best and my worst! I would give all I possess for your moderation and

"No, you would not," said Washington. "War is the breath of your
nostrils, and peace would kill you. Not that the poise I have acquired
brings me much peace in these days."

Hamilton, who had spoken dejectedly, but with the deep relief which
every mortal feels in a moment of open and safe confession, sprang to
his feet, and stood on the hearth rug, his eyes sparkling with humour.
"Confess, sir," he cried gaily. "You do not like Jefferson any better
than I do. Fancy him opposite to you day after day, stinging you with
honeyed shafts and opposing you with obstacle after obstacle, while
leering with hypocrisy. Put yourself in my place for an instant, and
blame me if you can."

"Oh," said Washington, with a deep growl of disgust, "o-h-h!" But he
would not discuss his Secretary of State, even with Hamilton.


The bombardment from Freneau's _Gazette_ opened at once. It began with a
general assault upon the Administration, denouncing every prominent
member in turn as a monarchist or an aristocrat, and every measure as
subversive of the liberties of the country. Vice-President Adams
received a heavy broadside, his "Discourses on Davila," with their
animadversions upon the French Revolution in particular and Democracy in
general, being regarded as a heinous offence against the spirit of his
country, and detrimental to the political morals of the American youth.
But although the _Gazette_ kept up its pretence of being an
anti-Administration organ, publishing in the interests of a deluded
people, it soon settled down to abuse of Hamilton.

That a large number of the articles were from Jefferson's damning pen
few of the Republican leader's friends denied with any warmth, and the
natural deductions of history would have settled the question, had not
Freneau himself confessed the truth in his old age. What Jefferson did
not write, he or Madison inspired, and Freneau had a lively pen of his
own. They had promising material in General St. Clair's recent and
disastrous defeat by the Indians, which, by a triumph of literary
ingenuity, was ascribed to the ease and abundance with which the
Secretary of the Treasury had caused money to circulate. But a far
stronger weapon for their malignant use was the ruinous speculation
which had maddened the country since the opening of the Bank of the
United States. It was not enough that the Bank was a monarchical
institution, a machine for the corruption of the Government, a club of
grasping and moneyed aristocrats, but it had been purposely designed for
the benefit of the few--the "corrupt squadron," namely, the Secretary
and his friends--at the expense of the many. The subsequent failure for
$3,000,000 of one of these friends, William Duer, gave them no pause,
for his ruin precipitated a panic, and but added distinction to his
patron's villany.

For a time Hamilton held his peace. He had enough to do, steering the
financial bark through the agitated waters of speculation, without
wasting time on personal recrimination. Even when, before the failure,
he was accused of being in secret partnership with Duer, he did not
pause for vindication, but exerted himself to alleviate the general
distress. He initiated the practice, followed by Secretaries of the
Treasury at the present moment, of buying Government loan certificates
in different financial centres throughout the country, thus easing the
money market, raising the price of the certificates, and strengthening
the public credit. He used the sinking-fund for this purpose.

There was comparative peace in the Cabinet, an armed truce being,
perhaps, a more accurate description of an uneasy psychological
condition. Hamilton had made up his mind not only to spare Washington
further annoyance, if possible, but to maintain a dignity which he was
keenly conscious of having relinquished in the past. The two antagonists
greeted each other politely when they met for the first time in the
Council Chamber, although they had crossed the street several times
previously to avoid meeting; and if Jefferson discoursed unctiously and
at length, whenever the opportunity offered, upon the lamentable
consequences of a lamentable measure, and indulged in melancholy
prognostications of a general ruin, in which the Government would
disappear and be forgotten, Hamilton replied for a time with but an
occasional sarcasm, and a change of subject. One day, however, a
long-desired opportunity presented itself, and he did not neglect it. He
was well aware that Jefferson had complained to Virginia that he had
been made to hold a candle to the wily Secretary of the Treasury in the
matter of assumption, in other words, that his guileless understanding,
absorbed in matters of State, had been duped into a bargain of which
Virginia did not approve, despite the concession to the Potomac.

About two months after Congress opened, Washington, as his Cabinet
seated itself, was detained in his room with a slight indisposition, but
sent word that he would appear presently. For a time, Randolph and Knox
talked feverishly about the Indian troubles, while Hamilton looked over
some notes, and Jefferson watched his antagonist covertly, as if
anticipating a sudden spring across the table. Hamilton was not in a
good humour. He was accustomed to abuse in Congress, and that it was
again in full tide concerned him little, for he was sure of ultimate
victories in both Houses; and words which were powerless to result in a
defeat for himself, or his party, he treated with the scorn which
impotence deserved. But it was another matter to have his private
character assailed day after day in the press, to watch a subtle pen
insinuate into the public mind that a woman imperilled her reputation in
receiving him, and that he was speculating in secret with the reckless
friend whom he had warned over and over, and begged to desist. Freneau
sent him three copies of the _Gazette_ daily, lest he miss something,
and he had that morning left Betsey in tears. Fenno was fighting the
Secretary's battles valiantly; but there was only one pen in America
which could cope with Jefferson's, and that was Hamilton's own. But
aside from his accumulating cares, it was a strife to which he did not
care to descend. To-day, however, he needed but a match, and Jefferson,
who experienced a fearful fascination in provoking him, applied it.

"I hear that Duer is on the verge of failure," he remarked sadly.

"Yes," said Hamilton; "he is."

"I hold it to be a great misfortune that he has been connected with the
Administration in any way."

"His connection was quite distinct from your department. I alone was
responsible for his appointment as my assistant. There is no necessity
for you to shed any hypocritical tears."

"What concerns the honour of the Administration naturally concerns the
Secretary of State."

"There is no question of honour. If Duer fails, he will fail honourably,
and the Administration, with which he is no longer connected, will in no
way be involved."

"Of those facts of course I am sure, but I fear the reflections in the

"Keep your own pen worthily employed, and the Administration will take
care of itself."

"I do not understand you, sir," said Jefferson, with great dignity.

"I am quite ready to be explicit. Keep your pen out of Freneau's
blackguard sheet, while you are sitting at Washington's right hand, at
all events--"

Jefferson had elevated both hands. "I call Heaven to witness," he cried,
"this black aspersion upon my character is, has been, entirely a
production of the imagination of my enemies. I have never written nor
inspired a line in Mr. Freneau's paper."

Hamilton laughed and returned to his notes.

"You do not believe me, sir?" demanded Jefferson, the blood boiling
slowly to his large face.

"No," said Hamilton; "I do not."

Jefferson brought his mighty fist down upon the table with a bang."
Sir!" he exclaimed, his husky voice unpleasantly strained, "I have stood
enough from you. Are you aware that you have called me a liar, sir? I
have suffered at your hands since the day I set foot in this country. I
left the peace and retirement that I love, to come forth in response to
a demand upon my duty, a demand I have ever heeded, and what has been my
reward? The very first act I was tricked into committing was a crime
against my country--"

"Were you in your dotage, sir?" thundered Hamilton, springing to his
feet, and bringing his own hand down with such violence that the lead in
his cuff dented his wrist. "Was your understanding enfeebled with age,
that you could not comprehend the exhaustive explanation I made of the
crisis in this country's affairs? Did I not give you twenty-four hours
in which to think it over? What were you doing--muddling your brains
with French wines?--that you could not reason clearly when relieved of
my baleful fascination? Were you not protected on the following day by
two men, who were more your friends than mine? I proposed a
straightforward bargain, which you understood as well then as you do
now. You realized to the full what the interests of the country
demanded, and in a rare moment of disinterested patriotism you agreed to
a compromise in which you saw no detriment to yourself. What you did not
anticipate was the irritation of your particular State, and the
annoyance to your vanity of permitting a younger man to have his way.
Now let me hear no more of this holding a candle, and the tricking of an
open mind by a wily one, unless you are willing to acknowledge that your
brain was too weak to grasp a simple proposition; in which case you had
better resign from public office."

"I know that is what you are trying to force me to do," gasped
Jefferson, almost speechless between rage and physical fear; for
Hamilton's eyes were flashing, his body curved as if he meditated
immediate personal violence. "But I'll not do it, sir, any more than I
or anyone else will be deluded by the speciousness of your language. You
are an upstart. You have no State affinities, you despise them for a
very good reason--you come from God knows where--I do not even know the
name of the place. You are playing a game. You care nothing for the
country you were not born in. Unless you can be king, you would treat it
as your toy."

"For your absurd personalities I care nothing," said Hamilton, reseating
himself. "They are but the ebullitions of an impotence that would ruin
and cannot. But take heed what you write, for in injuring the Secretary
of the Treasury you injure the prosperity of the country; and if you
push me too far, I'll expose you and make you infamous. Here comes the
President. For God's sake bottle your spite for the present."

The two men did not exchange a remark during the rest of the sitting,
but Jefferson boiled slowly and steadily; Hamilton's words had raised
welts under which he would writhe for some time to come. When the
Cabinet adjourned he remained, and followed Washington into the library,
under cover of a chat about seeds and bulbs, a topic of absorbing
interest to both. When their legs were extended before the fire,
Jefferson said, as abruptly as if the idea had but just presented

"Mr. President, we are both Virginians, and had cut our wisdom
teeth--not that for a moment I class myself with you, sir--while young
Hamilton was still in diapers."

"Children do not wear diapers in the West Indies," interrupted
Washington, in his gravest accents. "I spent some months on the Island
of Barbadoes, in the year seventeen hundred and fifty-one."

"Was he born In the West Indies? I had never heard. But, if I may
continue, I have therefore summoned up my courage to speak to you on a
subject close to my heart--for no subject can be so close as the welfare
of a country to which we have devoted our lives."

He paused a moment, prepared with an answer, did the President haughtily
warn him not to transgress the bounds of etiquette; but Washington was
staring at the fire, apparently recalling the scenery of the Tropics.

Jefferson continued: "In the length and breadth of this Union there is
not a man, not even the most ardent Republican, who has not implicit
faith in the flawless quality of your patriotism and in your personal
wisdom; but, and possibly unknown to you, sir, the extreme and
high-handed measures, coupled with the haughty personal arrogance, of
our Secretary of the Treasury have inspired a widespread belief, which
is permeating even his personal friends, that he entertains subtle and
insidious monarchical designs, is plotting to convert our little
Republic into a kingdom. Personally, I do not believe this--"

"I should hope not. You have always seemed to me to be a man of
singular wisdom and good sense. Therefore I feel sure that you are as
heartily sick of all this absurd talk about monarchism as I am. There is
not a word of truth in Mr. Hamilton's 'monarchical designs'; it is
impossible that you should not know this as well as I do. You must also
be as well aware that he has rendered services to this country which
will be felt as long as it remains united. It is doubtful if anyone else
could have rendered these same services, for, to my knowledge at least,
we have no man in the country who combines financial genius with an
unexampled boldness and audacity. He has emphatically been the man for
the hour, abruptly transferred from his remote birthplace, it has seemed
to me, by a special intervention of Providence; free of all local
prejudices, which have been, and will continue to be, the curse of this
country, and with a mettle unacted upon by years of doubt and
hesitation. I do no other man in public life an injustice in my warm
admiration of Mr. Hamilton's genius and absolute disinterestedness. Each
has his place, and is doing his part bravely and according to his
lights, many of them rendering historic services which Mr. Hamilton's
will not overshadow. His are equally indisputable. This unfortunate
result of establishing a National Bank was doubtless inevitable, and
will quickly disappear. That the Bank is a monarchical device, you, of
all men, are too wise to believe for a moment. Leave that for such
sensational scoundrels as the editors of this new _Gazette_ and of other
papers. I regret that there is a personal antipathy between you and Mr.
Hamilton, but I have not the least doubt that you believe in his
integrity as firmly as I do."

Jefferson was scowling heavily. "I am not so sure that I do, sir," he
said; inconsistent often in his calmest tempers, passion dissipated his
power of consecutive thought. "When Mr. Hamilton and I were on friendly
terms--before he took to annoying me with a daily exhibition of personal
rancour, from which I have been entirely free--he has often at my own
table avowed his admiration of the British Constitution, deprecated the
weakness of our own admirable instrument, tacitly admitted his regret
that we are a republic and not a kingdom. I have his very words in my
diary. He is committed out of his own mouth. I not only believe but know
him to be a lover of absolute monarchy, and that he has no faith that
this country can continue to exist in its present shape. It is for that
reason I hold him to be a traitor to the country with which he is merely
amusing himself."

"Sir," said Washington, turning to Jefferson an immobile face, in which
the eyes were beginning to glitter, "is a man to be judged by his
private fancies or by his public acts? I know nothing of Mr. Hamilton's
secret desires. Neither, I fancy, do you. We do know that he has
resigned a brilliant and profitable practice at the bar to guide this
unfortunate country out of bankruptcy and dishonour into prosperity and
every promise of a great and honourable future. Pray let the matter rest
there for the present. If Mr. Hamilton be really a liar and a charlatan,
rest assured he will betray himself before any great harm is done. Every
man is his own worst enemy. I was deeply interested in what you were
saying when we entered this room. Where did you say you purchased those
lily bulbs? My garden is sadly behind yours, I fear. I certainly shall
enter upon an amiable rivalry with you next summer."

And Jefferson knew better than to persist.


On January 28th Hamilton sent to Congress his Report on Manufactures,
and how anybody survived the fray which ensued can only be explained by
the cast-iron muscles forged in the ancestral arena. Hamilton had no
abstract or personal theories regarding tariff, and would have been the
first to denounce the criminal selfishness which distinguishes
Protection to-day. The situation was peculiar, and required the
application of strictly business methods to a threatening and immediate
emergency. Great Britain was oppressing the country commercially by
every method her council could devise. Defensive legislation was
imperative. Moreover, if the country was to compete with the nations of
the world and grow in independent wealth, particularly if it would
provide internal resources against another war, it must manufacture
extensively, and its manufactures must be protected. Such, in brief, was
the argument of one of the ablest State papers in any country, for whose
exhaustive details, the result of two years of study and comparison, of
research into the commercial conditions of every State in Europe, there
is no space here. The battle was purely political, for the measure was
popular with the country from the first. It was opposed by the planters,
with Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe in the lead. They argued that the
measure would burden the people at large; that the country was too
remunerative not to be able to take care of itself; that progress should
be natural and not artificial; that the measure was unconstitutional;
above all, as the reader need hardly be told, that no proposition had
yet been advanced by the monarchical Secretary of the Treasury so
"paternal," so conclusive of his ultimate designs. "To let the thirteen
States, bound together in a great indissoluble union, concur in erecting
one great system, superior to the control of transatlantic force and
influence, and able to dictate the connection between the old and the
new world," was but another subtle device to consolidate the States for
sudden and utter subversion when Hamilton had screwed the last point
into his crown. That in the Twentieth Century the United States would be
an object of uneasiness daily approaching to terror in the eyes of Great
Britain and Europe, as a result of this Report, even Hamilton himself
did not foresee, much less the planters; nor that it would carry through
the War of 1812 without financial distress. Above all, did no one
anticipate that the three Virginians, in their successive incumbencies
of the Executive Chair, would pursue the policy of protection in
unhesitating obedience to the voice of the people. The first result of
this Report was the great manufacturing interests of Paterson, New
Jersey, which celebrated their centennial a few years ago. Paterson was
Hamilton's personal selection, and it still throbs with something of his
own energy.

Meanwhile he was being elected an honorary member of colleges and
societies of arts and letters, and persecuted by portrait painters and
sculptors. Every honour, public and private, was thrust upon him, and
each new victory was attended by a public banquet and a burst of popular
applause. He was apparently invulnerable, confounding his opponents and
enemies without effort. Never had there been such a conquering hero;
even the Virginian trio began to wonder uneasily if he were but mortal,
if he were not under some mighty and invisible protection. As for the
Federalists, they waxed in enthusiasm and devotion. His career was at
its zenith. No man in the United States was--nor has been since--so
loved and so hated, both in public and in private life. Even
Washington's career had not been more triumphant, and hardly so
remarkable; for he was an American born, had always had a larger measure
of popular approval, and never had discovered the faculty of raising
such bitter and powerful enemies. Nor had he won an extraordinary
reputation until he was long past Hamilton's present age. Certainly he
had never exhibited such unhuman precocity.

But although Hamilton had, by this time, extancy to suffice any man, and
was hunted to his very lair by society, he had no thought of resting on
his labours. He by no means regarded himself as a demi-god, nor the
country as able to take care of itself. He prepared, and sent to
Congress in rapid succession, his Reports on Estimates for Receipts and
Expenditures for 1791-92, on Loans, on Duties, on Spirits, on Additional
Supplies for 1792, on Remission of Duties, and on the Public Debt.

Nor did his labours for the year confine itself to reports. On August
4th, his patience with the scurrilities of Freneau's _Gazette_ came to
an end, and he published in Fenno's journal the first of a series of
papers that Jefferson, in the hush of Monticello, read with the
sensations of those forefathers who sat on a pan of live coals for the
amusement of Indian warriors. Hamilton was thorough or nothing. He had
held himself in as long as could be expected of any mortal less
perfected in his self-government than George Washington: but when,
finally, he was not only stung to fury by the constant and systematic
calumnies of Jefferson's slanting art, but fearful for the permanence of
his measures, in the gradual unsettling of the public mind, he took off
his coat; and Jefferson knew that the first engagement of the final
battle had begun in earnest, that the finish would be the retirement of
one or other from the Cabinet.

Hamilton began by mathematically demonstrating that Freneau was the tool
of Jefferson, imported and suborned for the purpose of depressing the
national authority, and exposed the absurdity of the denials of both.
When he had finished dealing with this proposition, its day for being a
subject of animated debate was over. He then laid before the public
certain facts in the career of Jefferson with which they were
unacquainted: that he had first discountenanced the adoption of the
Constitution, and then advised the ratification of nine of the States
and the refusal of four until amendments were secured,--a proceeding
which infallibly would have led to civil war; that he had advocated the
transfer of the debt due to France to a company of Hollanders in these
words: "If there is a _danger_ of the public debt _not being punctual_,
I submit whether it may not be better, that _the discontents which would
then arise_ should be _transferred_ from a _court_ of whose _good-will
we have so much need_ to the _breasts_ of a _private company_"--an
obviously dishonourable suggestion, particularly as the company in view
was a set of speculators. It was natural enough, however, in a man whose
kink for repudiation in general led him to promulgate the theory that
one generation cannot bind another for the payment of a debt. Hamilton,
having disposed of Jefferson's attempts, under the signature of
Aristides, to wriggle out of both these accusations, discoursed upon the
disloyal fact that the Secretary of State was the declared opponent of
every important measure which had been devised by the Government, and
proceeded to lash him for his hypocrisy in sitting daily at the right
hand of the President while privately slandering him; of exercising all
the arts of an intriguing mind, ripened by a long course of European
diplomacy, to undermine an Administration whose solidity was the only
guaranty for the continued prosperity and honour of the country.
Hamilton reminded the people, with a pen too pointed to fail of
conviction, of the increase of wealth and happiness which had ensued
every measure opposed by the Secretary of State, and drew a warning
picture of what must result were these measures reversed by a party
without any convictions beyond the determination to compass the downfall
of the party in power. He bade them choose, and passed on to a
refutation of the several accusations hurled at the Administration, and
at himself in particular.

He wrote sometimes with temperance and self-restraint, at others with
stinging contempt and scorn. Jefferson replied with elaborate denials,
solemn protests of disinterested virtue, and counter accusations.
Hamilton was back at him before the print was dry, and the battle raged
with such unseemly violence, that Washington wrote an indignant letter
to each, demanding that they put aside their personal rancours and act
together for the common good of the country. The replies of the two men
were characteristic. Hamilton wrote a frank and manly letter, barely
alluding to Jefferson, and asserting that honour and policy exacted his
charges and refutations. He would make no promise to discontinue his
papers, for he had no intention of laying down his pen until Jefferson
was routed from the controversial field, and the public satisfied of the
truth. Jefferson's letter was pious and sad. It breathed a fervent
disinterestedness, and provided as many poisoned arrows for his rival as
its ample space permitted. It was a guinea beaten out into an acre of
gold leaf and steeped in corrosive sublimate.

But during that summer of 1792 Hamilton had little time for personal
explosions except in brief. The Presidential elections approached, and
the greater part of his time was given to party management and counsel.
Washington's renomination and election were assured. The only obstacle
encountered had been Washington himself, but his yearning for peace had
again retired before duty. The parties were arrayed in a desperate
struggle for the Vice-Presidency, the issue to determine the
vindication or the condemnation of the measures of Hamilton. Adams
himself was unpopular in the anti-Federalist ranks, on account of his
aristocratic tastes and his opposition to the French Revolution; but the
time was propitious for a tremendous trial of strength with the
omnipotent Secretary of the Treasury, and any candidate of his would
have been opposed as bitterly.

Jefferson and Burr were each suggested for the office, but Hamilton
brought down his heavy hand on both of them promptly, and the fight
settled into a bitter struggle between Adams and Clinton. The latter's
strength in the State of New York was still very great, and he was as
hardy a fighter as ever. But his political past was studded with
vulnerable points, and the Federalists spared him not.

It is impossible, whatever one's predilections, not to admire Clinton
for his superb fighting qualities. He was indomitable, and in ability
and resourcefulness second only to Hamilton himself, in party management
far superior; for he had greater patience, a tenderer and more intimate
concern for his meaner followers, and less trust in his own unaided
efforts and the right of his cause. Hamilton by no means was blind to
the pettier side of human nature, but he despised it; instead of
truckling and manipulating, he would scatter it before him or grind it
to pulp. There is no possible doubt that if Hamilton had happened into a
country at war with itself, but with strong monarchical proclivities, he
would have seized the crown and made one of the wisest and kindest of
autocrats. His lines cast in a land alight from end to end with
republican fires, he accepted the situation with his inherent
philosophy, burned with a patriotism as steady as Washington's own, but
ruled it in his own way, forced upon it measures in whose wisdom he
implicitly believed, and which, in every instance, time has vindicated.
But his instinct was that of the amiable despot, and he had no
conciliation in him.

His opponents saw only the despot, for time had not given them range of
vision. Therefore, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Clinton, and his other
formidable enemies have a large measure of excuse for their conduct,
especially as they were seldom unstung by mortifying defeat. It is
doubtful if the first three, at least, ever admitted to themselves or
each other that they hated Hamilton, and were determined for purely
personal reasons to pull him down. Every man knows how easy it is to
persuade himself that he is entirely in the right, his opponent, or even
he who differs from him, entirely in the wrong. The Virginian trio had
by this, at all events, talked themselves into the belief that Hamilton
was a menace to the permanence of the Union, and that it was their pious
duty to relegate him to the shades of private life. That in public life
he would infallibly interfere with their contemplated twenty-four years
Chair Trust may have been by the way. They were all men with a
consciousness of public benefits to their credit, and some disinterested
patriotism. If their ignoble side is constantly in evidence in their
dealings with Hamilton, it by no means follows that two, at least, of
our most distinguished Presidents--Monroe was a mere imitationist--had
no other. Had that been the case, they would have failed as miserably as
Burr, despite their talents, for the public is not a fool. But that
their faults were ignoble, rather than passionate, their biographers
have never pretended to deny. In many instances no apology is attempted.
On the other hand, the most exhaustive research among the records of
friends and enemies has failed to bring to light any evidence of mean
and contemptible traits in Hamilton. No one will deny his faults, his
mistakes; but they were the mistakes and faults of passion in every
instance; of a great nature, capable of the extremest violence, of the
deadliest hate and maddest blows, but fighting always in the open; in
great crises unhesitatingly sacrificing his personal desires or hatreds
to the public good. Even his detractors--those who count in
letters--have admitted that his nature and his methods were too
high-handed for grovelling and deceit, that the mettle of his courage
was unsurpassed. Jefferson and Madison had the spirit of the mongrel in
comparison; Monroe was a fighter, but cowardly and spiteful. In point of
mettle alone, Adams and Clinton were Hamilton's most worthy opponents.

Burr had not shown his hand as yet. He was at war with Clinton himself,
and an active and coruscating member of the Senate. But Hamilton, by
this, knew him thoroughly. He read his lack of Public spirit in every
successive act of his life, recognized an ambition which would not
hesitate to sacrifice his best friend and the country he was using, and
a subtlety and cunning which would, with his lack of principle and
property, make him the most dangerous man in America should he contrive
to grasp the reins of power. Therefore he checkmated his every move,
careless of whether he made another powerful enemy or not.

Hamilton attempted no delusions with himself. He knew that he hated
Jefferson with a violence which threatened at times to submerge all the
good in him, horrified him when he sat down and looked into himself. On
the other hand, he knew himself to be justified in thwarting and
humiliating him, for the present policy of the country must be preserved
at any cost. But he was too clear and practised an analyst to fail to
separate his public from his personal rancour. He would drive Jefferson
from public office for the public good, but he would experience the
keenest personal pleasure in so doing. Such was Hamilton. Could a genius
like his be allied in one ego with a character like Washington's, we
should have a being for which the world has never dared to hope in its
most Biblical moments. But genius must ever be imperfect. Life is not
long enough nor slow enough for both brain and character to grow side by
side to superhuman proportions.


The following political year was a lively one for Hamilton, perhaps the
liveliest of his career. As it approached, those interested in public
affairs had many subjects for constant and excited discussion: the
possible Vice-President, whose election was to determine the future
status of the Secretary of State, and cement or weaken the centralized
powers of the Administration; the battle in the two _Gazettes_, with
the laurels to Hamilton, beyond all controversy, and humiliation for
Jefferson and Madison; the growing strength of the "Republican" party
under Madison's open and Jefferson's literary leadership; the probable
policy of the Administration toward the French Revolution, with
Jefferson hot with rank Democracy, and Hamilton hotter with contempt for
the ferocity of the Revolutionists; the next move of the Virginians did
Hamilton win the Vice-Presidency for the Administration party; and the
various policies of the Secretary of the Treasury and their results. At
coffee-houses, at public and private receptions, and in Mrs. Croix's
drawing-room, hardly another subject was broached.

"A fool could understand politics in these days," said Betsey, one
evening in December, with a sigh. "Not a word does one hear of clothes,
gossip, husbands, or babies. Mrs. Washington told me the day after she
returned that she had deliberately thought of nothing but butter and
patchwork during the entire recess, that her poor brain might be able to
stand the strain of the winter. Shall you have to work harder than

"I do not know," replied Hamilton, and at that moment he did not. He was
correcting a French exercise of his son's, and feeling domestic and
happy. Jefferson and he had made no pretence at formal amiability this
season; they did not speak at all, but communicated on paper when the
business of their respective departments required an interchange of
opinion. He had vanquished his enemy in print, made him ridiculous in
the eyes of all who read the _Gazettes_. Moreover, Washington, disturbed
during the summer by the constant nagging of Jefferson and his agents,
respecting the "monarchical schemes" and "corrupt practices" of the
Secretary of the Treasury, had formulated the accusations and sent them
to Hamilton for refutation. The vindication, written without passion, as
cold, clear, consistent, and logical, as if dealing with an abstract
proposition, had convinced, and finally, all to whom it was shown; with
the exception of Jefferson, who had no intention of being convinced.
Hamilton was conscious that there was no vulnerable point in his public
armour. Of his private he was not so sure; Reynolds was in jail, for
attempting, in company with one Clingman, to suborn a witness to commit
perjury, and had appealed to him for aid. He had ignored him, determined
to submit to no further blackmail, be the consequences what they might.
But he was the last man to anticipate trouble, and on the whole he was
in the best of humours as the Christmas holidays approached, with his
boys home from their school on Staten Island, his little girl growing
lovelier and more accomplished, and his wife always charming and pretty;
in their rare hours of uninterrupted companionship, piquant and
diverting. He had gone out with her constantly since Congress assembled,
and had enjoyed the recreations of society after his summer of hard work
and angry passions. Everywhere he had a triumphal progress; men and
women jostled each other about him, eager for a word, a smile, making
him talk at length, whether he would or not. The confidence in him was
stronger than ever, but his enemies were the most powerful, collectively
and individually, that had ever arrayed against a public man: Jefferson,
Madison, and Monroe, with the South behind them; the Livingstons and the
Clinton faction in New York; Burr, with his smiling subterranean
industry; the growing menace of the Republican party. Pamphlets were
circulating in the States warning voters against all who supported the
Secretary of the Treasury. It was one man against odds of appalling
strength and resource; for by common consent both of friends and enemies
Hamilton was the Federal party. Did he fall, it must go; all blows were
aimed at him alone. Could any one man stand for ever an impregnable
fortress before such a battery? Many vowed that he would, for "he was
more than human," but others, as firm in their admiration, shrugged
their shoulders. The enemy were infuriated at the loss of the
Vice-Presidency, for again Hamilton had been vindicated and Adams
reflected. What would be their next move?

Betsey knew that her husband had enemies, but the fact gave her little
concern; she believed Hamilton to be a match for the allied forces of
darkness. She noticed when his hair was unpowdered that it was turning
gray and had quite lost its boyish brightness; here and there work and
care had drawn a line. But he was handsomer, if anything, and of the
scars on his spirit she knew nothing. In the peace and pleasant
distractions of his home his mercurial spirits leaped high above his
anxieties and enmities, and he was as gay and happy, as interested in
the manifold small interests of his family, as were he a private man of
fortune, without an ambition, an enemy, or a care. When most absorbed or
irritated he never victimized his household by moods or tempers, not
only because they were at his mercy, but because his nature
spontaneously gave as it received; his friends had his best always, his
enemies the very worst of which his intense passionate nature was
capable. Naturally his family adored him and studied his happiness.

Betsey continued her somewhat rambling remarks, "The only variety is the
French Revolution."

"By the way, Washington has had a distressing letter from Madame
Lafayette. She begs him to receive her boy--George Washington--and keep
him until the trouble is over. The Chief fears that in the present
temper of the public his reception of Lafayette's son would be given an
embarrassing significance, and yet it is impossible to refuse such a
request,--with Lafayette in an Austrian dungeon, his wife in daily
danger of prison or guillotine, and this boy, his only son, with no one
but a tutor to protect him. I offered at once to receive the child into
my family--subject, of course, to your approval. Should you object? It
would add to your cares--"

"I have no cares, sir. I shall be delighted; and he can talk French with
the children."

"I shall send him to Staten Island with Philip and Alex. Washington will
make him a liberal allowance for school and clothing. I confess I am
anxious to receive him, more than anxious to show that my old friendship
is undiminished. I fear to open every packet from Europe, lest I hear of
Lafayette's death. Fortunately, Morris was able to render some
assistance to Madame Lafayette. Morris is a source of sufficient worry
himself, for he is much too independent and bold for a foreign envoy in
the thick of mob rule, mad with blood."

"I hate to think of old friends in trouble," said Betsey, removing a
tear. "Poor Kitty Duer! I had another letter from her to-day. It is
pitiful to think of her and the poor little children, with nothing but
what Lady Sterling, who has so little, and Lady Mary can give them. Is
there no way of getting Colonel Duer out of Debtor's prison?"

"I've moved heaven and earth, but certain of his creditors are
inexorable. Still, I hope to have him out and on his feet before long.
You are not to worry about other people this evening, for I am
particularly happy. Philip is really remarkable, and I believe that
Angelica is going to turn out a musical genius. What a delight it is to
have one person in the world to whom one can brag about one's offspring
without apology."

"Why, of course they are the most remarkable children in the world--all
five of them," said Betsey, placidly.

Edward Stevens came in and threw himself on the sofa. "What a relief to
come into this scene of domestic tranquillity, after the row outside!"
he exclaimed. "All the world is in the streets; that is to say, all the
daft American world that sympathizes with that bloody horror in France.
The news that the allied armies have been beaten and the Duke of
Brunswick was in full retreat when the packets sailed, has apparently
driven them frantic with joy. They are yelling 'Ça ira,' bonfires are
flaring everywhere, and bells ringing. All of the men are drunk, and
some of the women. And yet the statesman who must grapple with this
portentous problem is gossiping with his wife, and looking as if he had
not a care in the world. Thank Heaven!"

"I can do nothing to-night," said Hamilton, smiling. "I have had too
much experience as a practical philosopher not to be happy while I can."

"You have the gift of eternal youth. What shall you do in this French
matter, Alexander the Great? All the world is waiting to know. I should
worry about you if I had time in this reeking town, where it is a wonder
any man has health in him. Oh, for the cane-fields of St. Croix! But
tell me, what is the policy to be--strict neutrality? Of course the
President will agree with you; but fancy Jefferson, on his other side,
burning with approval for the very excesses of the Revolution, since
they typify democracy exultant. And of course he is burrowing in the
dark to increase his Republican party and inspire it with his fanatical
enthusiasm for those inhuman wretches in France. I believe he would
plunge us into a war to-morrow."

"No, he is an unwarlike creature. He would like to trim, keep this
country from being actually bespattered with blood, but coax the
Administration to give the Revolutionists money and moral support. He
will do nothing of the sort, however. The policy of this remote country
is absolute, uncompromising, neutrality. Let Europe keep her hands off
this continent, and we will let her have her own way across the water.
The United States is the nucleus of a great nation that will spread
indefinitely, and any further Europeanizing of our continent would be a
menace which we can best avoid by observing from the beginning a
strictly defensive policy. To weaken it by an aggressive inroad into
European politics would be the folly of schoolboys not fit to conduct a
nation. We must have the Floridas and Louisiana as soon as possible. I
have been urging the matter upon Washington's attention for three years.
Spain is a constant source of annoyance, and the sooner we get her off
the continent the better--and before Great Britain sends her. We need
the Mississippi for navigation and must possess the territories that are
the key to it. How idiotic, therefore, to antagonize any old-world

"You _are_ long-headed!" exclaimed Stevens. "Good heavens! Listen to
that! The very lungs of Philadelphia are bellowing. Our people must be
mad to see in this hideous French Revolution any resemblance to their
own dignified and orderly struggle for freedom."

"It is so easy to drive men mad," said Hamilton, contemptuously.
"Particularly when they are in constant and bitter opposition to the
party in power, and possess a leader as subtle and venomous as Thomas
Jefferson--'Thomas,' as he signed a letter to Washington the other day.
You may imagine the disgust of the Chief."

"Not another word of politics this night!" exclaimed Mrs. Hamilton. "I
have not uttered a word for just twenty-five minutes. Alexander, go and
brew a beaker of negus."


The next morning Hamilton was sitting in his office when the cards of
James Monroe, F.A. Muhlenberg, and A. Venable were brought in.

"What on earth can they want?" he thought. "Monroe? We have not bowed
for a year. Two days ago he turned into a muddy lane and splashed
himself to his waist, that he might avoid meeting me."

His first impulse was to excuse himself, on the plea of the pressing
nature of his work; but curiosity triumphed, and he told his page to
admit the men.

Muhlenberg was again Speaker of the House; Venable was a Representative
from Virginia. Hamilton was not friendly with either, but nodded when
they passed him. He greeted them amiably as they entered to-day, and
exchanged a frigid bow with Monroe. The Senator from Virginia took a
chair in the rear of the others, stretched his long legs in front of
him, and folded his arms defiantly. He looked not unlike a greyhound,
his preference for drab clothing enhancing the general effect of a
pointed and narrow leanness.

There was a moment of extreme awkwardness. Muhlenberg and Venable
hitched their chairs about. Monroe grinned spasmodically, and rubbed his
nose with his upper lip.

"Well, gentlemen," said Hamilton, rapping his fingers on the table.
"What can I do for you?" He scented gun-powder at once.

"I am to be the spokesman in this delicate matter, I believe," said
Muhlenberg, who looked red and miserable, "and I will, with your
permission, proceed to my unpleasant task with as little delay as

"Pray do," replied Hamilton. "The daily assaults of my enemies for
several years have endowed me with a fortitude which doubtless will
carry me through this interview in a creditable manner."

"I assure you, sir, that I do not come as an enemy, but as a friend. It
is owing to my appeal that the matter was not laid directly before the

"The President?" Hamilton half rose, then seated himself again. His eyes
were glittering dangerously. Muhlenberg blundered on, his own gaze
roving. The Federal term of endearment for Hamilton, "The Little Lion,"
clanged suddenly in his mind, a warning bell.

"I regret to say that we have discovered an improper connection between
yourself and one Reynolds." He produced a bundle of letters and handed
them to Hamilton. "These are not in your handwriting, sir, but I am
informed that you wrote them."

Hamilton glanced at them hastily, and the angry blood raced through his

"These letters were written by me," he said. "I disguised my handwriting
for purposes of my own. What is the meaning of this unwarrantable
intrusion into a man's private affairs? Explain yourself at once."

"That is what we have come for, sir. Unfortunately we cannot regard it
as a private affair, but one which concerns the whole nation."

"The whole nation!" thundered Hamilton. "What has the nation to do with
an affair of this sort? Why cannot you tell the truth and say that you
gloat in having discovered this wretched affair,--a common enough
episode in the lives of all of you,--in having another tid-bit for
Freneau? Why did you not take it to him at once? What do you mean by
coming here personally to take me to task?"

"I think there is some misapprehension, sir," said Muhlenberg. "It
would be quite impossible for any one present to have misconducted
himself in the manner in which the holder of those letters, Mr.
Reynolds, accuses you of having done. And surely the whole country is
intimately concerned in the honesty--or the dishonesty--of the Secretary
of the Treasury."

The words were out, and Muhlenberg sat with his mouth open for a moment,
as if to reinhale the air which was escaping too quickly for calm
speech. Then he set his shoulders and braced himself to meet the
Secretary's eyes. Hamilton was staring at him, with no trace of passion
in his face. His eyes looked like steel; his whole face had hardened
into a mask. He had realized in a flash that he was in the meshes of a
plot, and forced the heat from his brain. "Explain," he said. "I am

"As you are aware, sir, this James Clingman, who has been arrested with
Reynolds, was a clerk in my employ. You will also recall that when he
applied to me to get him out, I, in company with Colonel Burr, waited on
you and asked your assistance. You said that you would do all that was
consistent, but we did not hear from you further. Clingman refunded the
money, or certificates, which they had improperly obtained from the
Treasury, the action was withdrawn, and he was discharged to-day. While
the matter was pending I had several conversations with Clingman, and he
frequently dropped hints to the effect that Reynolds had it in his power
materially to injure the Secretary of the Treasury, as he knew of
several very improper transactions of his. At first I paid no attention
to these hints, but when he went so far as to assert that Reynolds had
it in his power to hang the Secretary of the Treasury, that the latter
was deeply concerned in speculation with Duer, and had frequently
advanced him--Reynolds, I mean--money with which to speculate, then I
conceived it my duty to take some sort of action, and yesterday
communicated with Mr. Monroe and Mr. Venable. They went at once to call
on Reynolds--whom I privately believe to be a rascal, sir--and he
asserted that he was kept in prison by your connivance, as you feared
him; and promised to put us in possession of the entire facts this
morning. When we returned at the hour appointed, he had absconded,
having received his discharge. We then went to his house and saw his
wife, who asserted, after some circumlocution, that you had been
concerned in speculations with her husband, that at your request she had
burnt most of the letters you had written to herself and her husband,
and that all were in a disguised hand--like these few which she had
preserved. You will admit that it is a very serious charge, sir, and
that we should have been justified in going directly to the President.
But we thought that in case there might be an explanation--"

"Oh, there is an explanation," said Hamilton, with a sneer. "You shall
have it at my pleasure. I see that these notes implicate me to the
extent of eleven hundred dollars. Strange, that a rapacious Secretary of
the Treasury, handling millions, and speculating wildly with a friend of
large resources, should have descended to such small play as this. More
especially strange that he should have deliberately placed himself in
the power of such a rascal as this Reynolds--who seems to impress every
one he meets with his blackguardism--and communicated with him freely on
paper; you will have observed that I acknowledged these notes without
hesitation. What a clumsy knave you must think me. I resent the
imputation. Perhaps you have noticed that in one of these notes I state
that on my honour I cannot accommodate him with the three hundred
dollars he demands, because it is quite out of my power to furnish it.
Odd, that a thieving Secretary, engaged in riotous speculation, could
not lay his hand on three hundred dollars, especially if it were
necessary to close this rascal's mouth. I doubt, gentlemen, if you will
be able to convince the country that I am a fool. Nevertheless, I
recognize that this accusation must be met by controverting proof; and
if you will do me the honour to call at my house to-night at nine
o'clock, I shall, in the presence of the Comptroller of the Treasury,
furnish these proofs."

He rose, and the others pushed back their chairs and departed hastily.
Muhlenberg's red face wore a look of relief, but Monroe scowled. Neither
had failed to be impressed by the Secretary's manner, and the Speaker of
the House, ashamed of his part in the business, would gladly have
listened to an immediate vindication.

Hamilton sat motionless for some moments, the blood returning to his
face, for he was seething with fury and disgust.

"The hounds!" he said aloud, then again and again. He was alone, and he
never had conquered his youthful habit of muttering to himself. "I can
see Monroe leaping, not walking, to the jail, the moment he learned of a
chance to incriminate me. The heels at the end of those long legs must
have beaten the powder from his queue. And this is what a man is to
expect so long as he remains in public life--if he succeeds. He resigns
a large income, reduces his family almost to poverty, works himself half
to death, rescues the country from contempt, launches it upon the sea of
prosperity; and his public rewards are more than counterbalanced by the
persecutions of his enemies. I have been on the defensive from the
moment I entered public life. Scarcely a week but I have been obliged to
parry some poisoned arrow or pluck it out and cauterize. The dreams of
my youth! They never soared so high as my present attainment, but
neither did they include this constant struggle with the vilest
manifestations of which the human nature is capable." He brought his
fist down on the table. "I am a match for all of them," he exclaimed.
"But their arrows rankle, for I am human. They have poisoned every hour
of victory."

He caught up his hat and went out into the air. The solace of Mrs. Croix
in his blacker moods occurred to him; and he walked down Chestnut Street
as rapidly as he could, in the crowd, lifting his hat now and again to
cool his head in the frosty air. It was a brilliant winter's day; drifts
of snow hid the dead animals and the garbage in the streets; and all the
world was out for Christmas shopping. As it was one of the seasons for
display, everybody was in his best. The women wore bright-coloured
taffetas or velvets, over hoops flattened before and behind, muskmelon
bonnets or towering hats. They whisked their gowns about, that their
satin petticoats be not overlooked. The men wore the cocked hat, heavily
laced, and a long coat, usually of light-coloured cloth, with a
diminutive cape, the silver buttons engraved with initials or crest.
Their small clothes were very short, but heavy striped stockings
protected their legs; on their feet were pointed shoes, with immense
silver buckles. Hamilton was dressed with his usual exquisite care, his
cuffs carefully leaded. But his appearance interested him little to-day.
For the moment, however, he forgot his private annoyance in the portent
on every side of him. Few of the seekers after gifts had entered the
shops. They blocked the pavements, even the street, talking excitedly of
the news of the day before. Fully half the throng sported the
tri-coloured cockade, the air hissed with "Citizen," "Citess," or rang
with a volley of "Ça ira! Ça ira!"

Hamilton set his teeth. "It _is_ the next nightmare," he thought. "The
Cabinet is quiet at present--Jefferson, mortified and beaten, is coaxing
back his courage for a final spring. When the time comes to determine
our attitude there will be Hell, nothing less." But his nostrils
quivered. He might rebel at poisoned arrows, but he revelled in the
fight that involved the triumph of a policy.

His mind was abstracted, the blood was still in his brain as he entered
Mrs. Croix's drawing-room. For a moment he had a confused idea that he
had blundered into a shop. The chairs, the sofas, the floor, were
covered with garments and stuffs of every hue. Hats and bonnets were
perched on every point. Never had he seen so much gorgeous raiment in
one space before. There were brocades, taffetas, satins, lutestrings,
laces, feathers, fans, underwear like mist. While he was staring about
him in bewilderment, Mrs. Croix came running in from her bedroom. Her
hair was down and tangled, her dressing sacque half off, her face
flushed, her eyes sparkling. She looked half wanton, half like a giddy
girl darting about among her first trunks.

"Hamilton!" she cried. "Hamilton!" She flew at him much as his children
did when excited. "Look! Look! Look! Is this not magnificent? This is
the happiest day of my life!"

"Indeed? Are you about to set up a shop?"

"A shop? I am about to deck myself once more in the raiment that I love.
Have I not drooped in weeds long enough, sir? I am going to be beautiful
again! I am going to wear all those lovely things--all! all! And I am
going to Lady Washington's to-morrow night. Mrs. Knox will take me. But
I vow I do not care half so much for that as for my beautiful things.
They arrived by the London packet yesterday, but have only now been
delivered. I ordered them long since, and hardly could control my
impatience till they came. I am so happy! I feel like a bird that has
been plucked for years."

Hamilton looked at her in amazement, and despair. More than once he had
caught a glimpse of the frivolous side of her nature, but that it could
spread and control her he never had imagined. Her intelligence, her
passions, her inherited and accumulated wisdom, were crowded into some
submerged cell. There was nothing in her at the present moment for him,
and he turned on his heel without a word and left the house. She rapped
sharply on the window as he passed, but he did not look up. He was
filled with that unreasoning anger peculiar to man when woman for once
has failed to respond. He consigned her and her clothes to the devil,
and looked at his watch. It was ten minutes to one. His dinner hour was
two o'clock. He would go home to his wife, where he should have gone in
the first place. She never had failed him, or if she had he could not
recall the occasion. Her little dark face rose before him, innocent and
adorable. He could not tell her of the cause of his annoyance,--it
suddenly occurred to him that the less of that matter confided to Mrs.
Croix the better,--but then he never worried her with his troubles. He
would merely go and bask in her presence for an hour, confess to a
headache, and receive her sweet ministrations.

As he entered his own house, and, relieved of his coat and hat by the
waiting black, ran up the stair, he thought he heard a soft babble of
voices. Knowing that his wife would, if he desired it, dismiss at once
any company she might have, he knocked confidently at her door and
entered. For a moment he felt inclined to rub his eyes, and wondered if
he were the victim of delirium. The bed was covered with bandboxes, the
sofa with new frocks. Betsey was sitting before the mirror, trying on a
cap, and her sisters, Peggy and Cornelia, were clapping their hands.
Angelica was perched on the back of a chair, her eyes twice their
natural size, Hamilton attempted instant retreat, but Betsey saw his
reflection in the mirror.

"You?" she cried. "What a surprise and pleasure. Come here, sir, at

Meanwhile his two sisters-in-law, whose expected visit he had quite
forgotten, ran forward and kissed him effusively. With the desire in his
heart to rend the Universe in twain he went forward and smiled down into
his wife's eager face.

"Angelica has sent me so many things!" she exclaimed. Her face was
flushed, her eyes sparkling. She looked sixteen. "And this cap is the
most bewitching of all. You came just at the right moment; it is quite
singular. Read--".

She thrust a letter from Mrs. Church into his hand, and he read where
his wife pointed. "Someone who loves you will tell you if it is becoming
or not." And on the following page. "Kiss my saucy Brother for me. I
call him my Brother with an air of pride. And tell him, _Il est l'homme
le plus aimable du monde_."

"It is charming," said Hamilton, pinching his wife's chin. "It is like a
frame. You never looked half so sweet."

Betsey cooed with delight. Hamilton, having done his duty, was about to
retire in good order, when he met his little daughter's eyes. They had
dismissed the wonderful cap and were fixed on him with an expression
that gave him a sudden thrill. It was not the first time he had seen in
Angelica so strong a resemblance to his mother that he half believed
some fragment of Rachael Levine had come back to him. Her eyes were
dark, but she had a mane of reddish fair hair, and a skin as white as
porcelain, a long sensitive nose, and a full mobile mouth. She had none
of his mother's vitality and dash, however. She was delicate and rather
shrinking, and he knew that Rachael at her age must have been a marvel
of mental and physical energy. It was only occasionally, when he turned
suddenly and caught Angelica staring at him, that he experienced the odd
sensation of meeting his mother's eyes, informed, moreover, with an
expression of penetrating comprehension--an expression he recalled
without effort. The child idolized him. She sat outside his study while
he wrote, crawling in between the legs of anyone who opened the door? to
sit at his feet; or, if he dismissed her, in another part of the room
until he left it. She watched for his daily returns, and usually greeted
him from the banister post. Amiable, intelligent, pretty, affectionate,
and already putting forth the tender leaves of a great gift, her father
thought her quite perfect, and they had long conversations whenever he
was at leisure in his home. She demanded a great deal of petting, and he
was always ready to humour her, the more as she was the only girl, and
the one quiet member of his little family--although she had been known
to use her fists upon occasion. Her prettiness and intelligence
delighted him, her affection was one of the deepest pleasures of his
life, and he was thankful for the return to him of his mother's
beautiful and singular features. To-day the resemblance was so striking
that he contracted his eyelids. Angelica straightened herself, gave a
spring, and alighted on his chest.

"Take me downstairs and talk to me," she commanded. "'Tis nearly an hour
to dinner."

Hamilton swung her to his shoulder, and went downstairs. On the way he
laughed out loud. The past half-hour tossed itself into the foreground
of his mind, clad in the skirts of high comedy. Tragedy fled. The
burden in his breast went with it. Far be it from him to cherish a
grudge against the sex that so often reduced the trials of public life
to insignificance. Women were delicious irresponsible beings; man was an
ingrate to take their shortcomings seriously.

"Why do you laugh?" asked his daughter, whose arm nearly strangled him.
"You were very angry when you came into mamma's room."

"Indeed?" said Hamilton, nettled. "Was I not smiling?"

"Yes, sir; but you often smile when you would like to run the
carving-knife into somebody."

They had reached the library. Hamilton sat the child on the edge of his
table and took a chair closely facing her. "What do you mean, you little
witch?" he demanded. "I am always happy when I am at home."

"Almost always. Sometimes you are very angry, and sometimes you are sad.
Why do you pretend? Why don't you tell us?"

"Well," said Hamilton, with some confusion. "I love you all very much,
you see, and you do make me happy--why should I worry you?"

"I should feel better if you told me--right out. It gives me a pain

She laid her hand to her head, and Hamilton stared at her in deepening
perplexity. Another child--anything feminine, at least--would have
indicated her heart as the citadel of sorrow. "Why there?" he asked. "Do
you mean a pain?"

"Yes, a pain, but not so bad as when I am in Albany or Saratoga and you
are here. Then I worry all the time."

"Do you mean that you are ever unhappy?"

"I am unhappy whenever you are, or I am afraid that you are. I know that
you are very big and the cleverest man in the world, and that I am too
little to do you any good, and I don't know why I worry when I am away."
"But, my dear child, what in Heaven's name do you mean? Have you ever
spoken to your mother of this?"

Angelica shook her head. Her eyes grew larger and wiser. "No; I should
only worry Betsey, and she is always happy. She is not clever like you
and me."

Hamilton rose abruptly and walked to the window. When he had composed
his features he returned. "You must not criticise your mother in that
way, my dear. She is a very clever little woman, indeed."

Angelica nodded. "If she were clever, you would not say 'little.' Nobody
says that you are a very clever little man. When I'm big, I'll not be
called little, either. I love our dear Queen Bess, but I'm _all yours_.
Why were you so angry to-day?"

"I couldn't possibly tell you," replied her father, turning cold. "You
must not ask too many questions; but I am very grateful for your
sympathy. You are my dear little girl, and you make me love you more and
more, daily."

"And will you tell me whenever you are not feeling like what you are
making the rest believe?"

"If it will make you any happier, I will whisper it into your pink
little ear. But I think I should be a very bad father to make you

"I told you, sir, that I am more unhappy when I imagine things. It is
just like a knife," and again she pointed to her head.

Hamilton turned pale. "You are too young to have headaches," he said.
"Perhaps you have been studying too hard. I am so ambitious for my
children; but the boys have taken to books as they have to kites and
fisticuffs. I should have remembered that girls--" His memory gave up
the stories of his mother's precocity. But this child, who was so
startlingly like the dead woman, was far less fitted to carry such
burdens. So sensitive an intelligence in so frail a body might suddenly
flame too high and fall to ashes. He resolved to place her in classes of
other little girls at once, and to keep her in the fields as much as
possible. None knew better than he how close the highly strung
unresting brain could press to madness. He had acquired a superhuman
control over his. If this girl's brain had come out of his own, it must
be closely watched. She had not inherited his high light spirits, but
the melancholy which had lain at the foundations of his mother's nature;
she would require the most persistent guarding. He took her face between
his hands and kissed it many times.

"Very well," he said, "we will have our little secrets. I will tell you
when I am disturbed, and you will sit close beside me with your doll
until I feel better. But remember, I expect as much confidence in
return. You will never have a care nor a terror nor an annoyance that
you will not confide it to me directly."

She nodded. "I'm always telling you things to myself. And I won't cry
any more in the night, when I think you have felt badly and could not
tell anyone. It will all go away if you talk to me about it," she added

Hamilton swung her to his shoulder again and started for the dining

"The child is uncanny," he thought. "Can there be anything in that old
theory that tormented and erring souls come back to make their last
expiation in children? That means early death!" He dismissed the thought


After dinner he called on Oliver Wolcott, the Comptroller, one of his
closest friends, and related the scene of the morning, adding the
explanation. Wolcott was a Puritan, and did not approve of the marital
digressions of his friends. But in this case the offence was so much
less than the accusation that he listened with frequent ejaculations of
content. He agreed at once to call at Hamilton's house at eight o'clock,
look over the papers, and read them aloud when the trio arrived.

"And may the devil damn them," he added. "It will be one of the keenest
pleasures of my life to confound them. The unpatriotic villains! They
know that in disgracing you they would discredit the United States, and
in their hearts they know that your measures are the only wheels for
this country to run on; but to their party spite they would sacrifice
everything. I'll be there."

And when the men called that night at nine o'clock, he read them the
correspondence from beginning to end--Reynold's letters, and those of
the woman. More than once Muhlenberg begged him to desist, but he was
merciless. When he had finished, Hamilton explained that he had
disguised his handwriting lest the man forge or make other use of it.

The three rose as soon as the ordeal was over. "It is no use for me to
attempt to express my regret or my humiliation," said Muhlenberg, "I
shall be ashamed of this as long as I live."

"I feel like an ass and a spy," exclaimed Venable. "I heartily beg your
pardon, sir."

"Your mistake was justifiable. Are you satisfied?"

"More than satisfied."

Hamilton turned to Monroe.

"I made a mistake," said the Senator from Virginia. "I beg your pardon."

"And I shall hear no more of this?"

He received the solemn promise of each, then let them go. But he locked
the letters carefully in their drawer again.

"Are you going to keep those things?" asked Wolcott. "It must have made
you sick to listen to them."

"It did. Perhaps I shall keep them for penance, perhaps because I do not
trust Monroe."


Hamilton was not long kept in ignorance of the next tactics of his
enemies. They made their deadliest assault soon after Christmas.
Immediately upon the assembling of Congress it was suggested that the
Secretary of the Treasury be asked to furnish a plan for reducing the
public debt. Madison arose and fired the first gun. What Congress
wanted was not a plan, but a statement of the national finances. The
Federalists replied that the information would come in due course, and
that the House was in duty bound to ask the Secretary to furnish a
scheme. The Republicans, led by Madison, protested that already too much
power had been invested in the Secretary of the Treasury, that it had
exceeded constitutional limits. Moreover, he overwhelmed them with
volumes, deliberately calculated to confuse their understandings. One
Giles, who did the dirty work of the party, announced that the Secretary
was not fit to make plans, and added the numerous and familiar
denunciations. But the Republicans were outvoted, and the suggestions
were called for. Hamilton furnished them immediately. His plan to reduce
the debt was met by so strenuous an opposition from the Republicans that
it was defeated, and by the party which had been most persistent in
their detestation of the obnoxious burden. Rather than add to the
laurels of Hamilton, they would shoulder it with equanimity. But this
defeat was but an incident. The Secretary of the Treasury, as the result
of a series of resolutions, was bidden to lay before Congress an account
of the moneys borrowed at Antwerp and Amsterdam; the President to
furnish a statement of the loans made by his authority, their terms,
what use had been made of them, how large was the balance; the chiefs of
departments to make a return of the persons employed and their salaries.
Hamilton, by this time, was fully alive to the fact that he was about to
be subjected to fresh persecution, and the agility of his enemies could
not keep pace with his. He furnished the House with an itemized
list--which it took the Committee days to plod through--of his
bookkeepers, clerks, porters, and charwomen, and the varying emoluments
they had received since the Department was organized, three years and a
half before. He further informed them that the net yield of the foreign
loan was eighteen millions six hundred and seventy-eight thousand
florins, that the loans were six in number, that three bore five per
cent interest, two four and a half, and one four per cent The enemy was
disconcerted but not discouraged. Five fresh resolutions were moved
almost immediately. Impartial historians have agreed that Jefferson
suggested these shameful resolutions, and that Madison drew them up.
Giles brought them forward. In a vociferous speech he asserted that no
man could understand the Secretary's report, that his methods and
processes were clothed in a suspicious obscurity. It was his painful
duty to move the adoption of the following resolutions: That copies of
the papers authorizing the foreign loans should be made; that the names
of the persons to whom and by whom the French debt had been paid be sent
to Congress; that a statement of the balances between the United States
and the Bank be made; that an account of the sinking-fund be rendered,
how much money had come into it and where from, how much had been used
for the purchase of the debt and where the rest was deposited. The fifth
demanded an account of the unexpended revenue at the close of the
preceding year. Giles charged that a serious discrepancy existed between
the report of the Secretary and the books of the Bank--not less than a
million and a half. It had been the purpose of Jefferson and Madison to
bring forward the resolutions with an air of comparative innocence. But
the vanity of Giles carried him away, and his speech informed Congress,
and very shortly the country, that the honesty of the Secretary of the
Treasury had been impeached, and that he was called upon to vindicate

In crises Hamilton never lost his temper. The greater the provocation,
as the greater the danger, the colder and more impersonal he became. Nor
was it in his direct impatient nature to seek to delay an evil moment
any more than it was to protect himself behind what the American of
to-day calls "bluff." In this, the severest trial of his public career,
he did not hesitate a moment for irritation or protest. He called upon
his Department to assist him, and with them he worked day and night,
gathering, arranging, elaborating all the information demanded by
Congress. When he was not directing his subordinates, he was shut up in
his library preparing his statements and replies. His meals were taken
to him; his family did not see him for weeks, except as he passed them
on his way to or from the front door. He sent in report after report to
Congress with a celerity that shattered his health, but kept his enemies
on the jump, and worked them half to death. The mass of manuscript he
sent would have furnished a modest bookstore, and the subjects and
accounts with which he was so familiar drove Madison and others, too
opposed to finance to master the maze of it, close upon the borders of
frenzy. It had been their uncommunicated policy to carry the matter over
to the next session, but Hamilton was determined to have done with them
by adjournment.

And in the midst of this tremendous pressure arrived George Washington

It was on the first Saturday of his retirement into the deep obscurity
of his library, with orders that no one knock under penalty of driving
him from the house, that Hamilton, opening the door suddenly with intent
to make a dash for his office, nearly fell over Angelica. She was
standing just in front of the door, and her face was haggard.

"How long have you been here?" demanded her father.

"Three hours, sir."

"Three! Have you stood all that time?"

Angelica nodded. She was determined not to cry, but she was wise enough
not to tax the muscles of her throat.

Hamilton hesitated. If the child fidgeted, she would distract his
attention, great as were his powers of concentration; but another
searching of her eyes decided him.

"Very well," he said. "Go in, but mind you imagine that you are a mouse,
or you will have to leave."

When he returned, she was sitting in a low chair by his desk, almost
rigid. She had neither doll nor book. "This will never do," he thought.
"What on earth shall I do with the child?" His eye fell upon the chaos
of his manuscript. He gathered it up and threw it on the sofa. "There,"
he said, "arrange that according to the numbers, and come here every
five minutes for more."

And Angelica spent two hours of every day in the library, useful and

One day Hamilton was obliged to attend a Cabinet meeting, and to spend
several hours at his office just after. Returning home in the early
winter dusk, he saw two small white faces pressed against the hall
window. One of them was Angelica's, the other he had never seen. As he
entered, his daughter fell upon him.

"This is George Washington Lafayette," she announced breathlessly. "He
came to-day, and he doesn't speak any English, and he won't go near
Betsey or anyone but me, and he won't eat, and I know he's miserable and
wretched, only he won't cry. His tutor's ill at the Inn."

The little Frenchman had retired to the drawing-room. Angelica darted
after him and dragged him forward into the light. He was small for his
age, but his features had the bold curious outline of his father's. He
carried himself with dignity, but it was plain that he was terrified and
unhappy. Hamilton gave him a warm embrace, and asked him several
questions in French. The boy brightened at once, answered rapidly and
intelligently, and took firm possession of his new friend's hand.

"I am more happy now," he announced. "I don't like the other people
here, except this little girl, because they do not speak French, but you
are a Frenchman, and I shall love you, as my father said I should--long
ago! I will stay with you day and night."

"Oh, you will?" exclaimed Hamilton. "I am going to send you to school
with my boys."

"Oh, not yet, sir! not yet!" cried the boy, shrilly. "I have seen so
many strangers on that dreadful ship, and in France--we hid here,
there--moving all the time. I wish to live with you and be your little

"And so you shall, but I am uncommonly busy."

"He is a very quiet little boy," interposed Angelica, who was three
years his junior. "He would not move if he sat in your room, and I will
take him for a walk every day. He will die if he has to sit in a room by
himself all day."

"I shall sleep with you, sir, I hope?" asked young Lafayette, eagerly.
"I have thought all day of the dark of to-night. I have seen such
terrible things, sir!"

"Good Heaven!" thought Hamilton, "is it not enough to be dry nurse to a
nation?" But he could not refuse, and during the few hours he snatched
for sleep he was half strangled. By day the boy sat quietly in a corner
of the library, and studied the text-books his guardian bought him.
Betsey did all she could to win him, but he had no faith in people who
could not speak his language. Angelica, like all of Hamilton's children,
knew something of French, and he liked her and accepted her motherly
attentions; but Hamilton he adored. The moment his absorbed friend made
for the front door he was after him, and Hamilton let him run at his
heels, lest he get neither air nor exercise. He had no time at present
to take him to call on his august godfather, and, in truth, he dreaded
the prospect. Washington knew nothing of children, and his diminutive
namesake would probably be terrified into spasms.


The three long and exhaustive reports, accounting honourably for every
penny entrusted to the Secretary of the Treasury, and justifying every
payment, measure, and investment, had gone to the Congress. Nine days
later Giles brought forward nine resolutions of censure against the
Secretary of the Treasury. But by this time Congress had made up its
mind, and many of the Republicans were disgusted and humiliated. The
Federalists were triumphant, and amused themselves with Giles, drawing
him on, to confound him with ridicule and proof of the absurdity of his
charges. Madison, desperate, lost his head and the respect of many of
his colleagues, by asserting hysterically that the House was impotent to
change the truth of the accusations, and that in the tribunal of public
opinion the Secretary would be condemned. But Hamilton was triumphantly
vindicated by Congress and the Nation at large. His house was in a state
of siege for weeks from people of all parts of the country, come to
congratulate him; his desk obliterated by letters he had no time to
read. The Federals were jubilant. Their pride in Hamilton was so great
that a proclamation from above would not have disturbed their faith, and
they were merciless to the discomfited enemy. In truth, the Virginian
trio and their close adherents were mortified and confounded. In their
hearts they had not believed Hamilton guilty of dishonesty, but they had
been confident that his affairs were in chaos, that large sums must have
escaped, not conceiving that any mortal could at the same time create
gigantic schemes, and be as methodical as a department clerk in every
detail of his great office.

Although Hamilton had commanded his brain to dwell exclusively upon the
vindication and its means, the deeps below were bitter and hot. When the
work was over, and exhausted in body and mind he went about his duties
mechanically, or attempted to find distraction in his family, he felt as
if the abundant humanity in him were curdled; and he longed for a war,
that he might go out and kill somebody. It was small compensation that
the Virginian ring were grinding their teeth, and shivering under daily
shafts of humiliation and ridicule. So terrible was the position in
which they had placed him, so immeasurably had they added to the sum of
his contempt for human kind, that individually they occupied, for a
time, but a corner of his thought.

His only solace during this trial had been Washington; he had been too
busy and too frozen for Mrs. Croix. But that closest of his friends,
although forced by his high office to a position of stern neutrality,
did all he could in private to convince Hamilton of his unaltered
affection and regard. As soon as the vindication was complete he fell
into the habit of finishing his daily walk with an hour in Hamilton's
library. But if his visits were a pleasure to his Secretary, they were
wretchedness unleavened for two other members of the family. The
President never failed to ask for Angelica and George Washington
Lafayette; and upon their prompt but unwilling advent he would solemnly
place one on either knee, where they remained for perhaps half an hour
in awe-stricken misery. They had orders to show no distress, and they
behaved admirably; but although young Lafayette was rapidly learning
English, the fact did not lessen his fear of this enormous man, who
spoke so kindly, and looked as if he could have silenced the Terror with
the awful majesty of his presence. Angelica, being an independent little
American, was less overwhelmed, but she was often on the verge of
hysterics. It was the short session of Congress, and in March, George,
with scalding but dignified tears, accompanied his godfather to Mount
Vernon, whence he wrote Hamilton a daily letter of lament, until habit
tempered his awe; from that point he passed with Gallic bounds into an
ardent affection for the great man, who, if of an unearthly dignity, was
always kind, and, when relieved of the cares of State, uniformly genial.

The respite in Philadelphia was brief. In April came the first news of
the beheading of the French king; and the same tardy packets brought
word that France was at war with England and Spain. Hamilton sent the
news, express haste, to Washington, and dismissed every consideration
from his brain but the terrible crisis forced upon the United States,
and the proper measures to save her from shipwreck. In the early stages
of the French Revolution he had predicted the developments with such
accuracy to Henry Walter Livingston that the new Secretary of Legation,
upon his arrival in Paris, told Gouverneur Morris--United States
minister since 1792--that to his astonishment he found nothing to
surprise him. Therefore the prophet had long been determined upon the
policy the United States should pursue when this crisis shot out of the
eastern horizon; he had now but to formulate it in such a manner that
every point could be grasped at once by the Cabinet, and acted upon.
When Washington arrived in Philadelphia and summoned his advisers,
Hamilton presented twelve questions for discussion, the most pressing of
which were: Shall a proclamation issue for the purpose of preventing
interferences of the citizens of the United States in the war between
France and Great Britain, etc.? Shall it contain a declaration of
neutrality? Shall a minister from this Republic of France be received?
Jefferson was in a far less enviable position than Hamilton. He neither
wished for war, nor dared he machinate for it; but with all his
democratic soul he loved the cause which was convulsing the world from
its ferocious centre in France. Had Jefferson come of stout yeoman
stock, like John Adams, or of a long line of patrician ancestors, like
Hamilton, and, to a lesser degree, like Washington, he might, judging
from certain of his tastes, and his love of power, have become, or been,
as aristocratic in habit and spirit as were most men of his wealth,
position, and importance in the young country. But the two extremes met
in his blood. The plebeianism of his father showed itself in the
ungainly shell, in the indifference to personal cleanliness, and in the
mongrel spirit which drove him to acts of physical cowardice for which
his apologists blush. But his mother had belonged to the aristocracy of
Virginia, and this knowledge induced a sullen resentment that he should
be so unlike her kind, so different in appearance from the courtly men
of his State. Little was wanting to accelerate his natural desire to
level his country to a plane upon which with his gifts he easily could
loom as a being of superior mould; but when a British sovereign publicly
turned his back upon him, and the English court, delighted with its cue,
treated him with an unbearable insolence, nothing more was needed to
start the torrent of his hate against all who stood for aristocracy.
Democracy rampant on all sides of him, during his sojourn in France,
found in him not only an ardent sympathizer, but a passionate advocate.
He quite overlooked the fact that he failed to persuade the country of
his enthusiasm to accord the United States fair commercial treatment: it
embodied and demonstrated his ideal of liberty, equality, fraternity,
and he was its most devoted friend, unresting until he had insinuated
his own admiration into the minds of his followers in America, and made
Jacobinism a party issue.

To turn his back upon France, therefore, to help her neither in money
nor moral support, was a policy he had no intention to pursue, could he
avoid it; but knowing his weakness in the Cabinet, he suggested an extra
session of Congress. It would then be an easy matter to throw the
responsibility upon his followers in both Houses, while he stood to the
country as working consistently and harmoniously in his great office.

But Hamilton, who understood him thoroughly, would listen to no
proposition which would involve weeks of delay, inflame further the
public mind, and give Jefferson an opportunity to make political
capital. Moreover, he would have no such confession of weakness go out
from the Administration. He prevailed, and in that first meeting
Jefferson was forced to consent also to the immediate issue of a
proclamation to the people. He argued with such fervour, however,
against the use of the word "neutrality," declaring that the Executive
had no constitutional authority so far to commit the people, that
Washington, to humour him, omitted the word, while declaring
authoritatively for the substance. It was also agreed that Genet, the
new Minister from France, sent by the Revolutionists to succeed M.
Ternant, should be received. The first meeting closed tranquilly, for
both Hamilton and Jefferson had tacitly admitted that it was no time for
personal recrimination.

But the Cabinet met daily, and other subjects, notably Hamilton's
contention that their treaties made with a proper French government no
longer existed, came up for elaborate discussion; Hamilton had an
exhaustive report prepared on each of them. The two Secretaries, who
hated each other as two men hardly have hated before or since, and who
realized that they had met for their final engagement in official life,
soon dismissed any pretence at concord, and wrangled habitually--with
cutting sarcasm or crushing force on Hamilton's part, with mild but
deadly venom on Jefferson's; until he too was maddened by a jagged dart
which momentarily routed his tender regard for his person. Jefferson
wrenched one victory from the Cabinet despite Hamilton's determined
opposition: Genet's reception should be absolute. But on all other
important points the Secretary of the Treasury scored, and stone by
stone built up the great policy of neutrality which prevailed until the
year 1898; impressed into the Government the "Doctrine"--he had
formulated it in "The Federalist"--which was to immortalize the name of
a man who created nothing. Hamilton, with all the energy and obstinacy
of his nature, was resolved that the United States should not have so
much as a set-back for the sake of a country whose excesses filled him
with horror, much less run the risk of being sucked into the whirlpool
of Europe; and he watched every move Jefferson made, lest his secret
sympathies commit the country. When, after a triumphal procession
through miles of thoughtless enthusiasts, who remembered only the
services of France, forgot that their friends had been confined entirely
to the royalty and aristocracy that the mob was murdering, and were
intoxicated by the extreme democracy of the famous Secretary of State,
Genet arrived in Philadelphia, inflated and bumptious, his brain half
crazed by the nervous excitement of the past two years, and was received
with frigid politeness by Washington, Hamilton was not long discovering
that Jefferson was in secret sympathy and intercourse with this
dangerous fire-brand. The news had preceded and followed the new
minister that he had been distributing blank commissions to all who
would fit out privateers to prey upon British commerce, opening
headquarters for the enlistment of American sailors into the French
service, and constituting French consuls courts of admiralty for the
trial and condemnation of prizes brought in by French privateers.

As soon as he arrived in Philadelphia he demanded of Hamilton the
arrears of the French debt, which the Secretary had refused to pay until
there was a stable government in France to receive it. Hamilton laughed,
locked the doors of the Treasury, and put the key in his pocket. To
Genet's excited volubility and pertinacity he paid as little attention
as to Jefferson's arguments. Moreover, he reversed all Citizen Genet's
performances in the South; and in course of time, even the captured
British ships, to the wrath and disgust of Jefferson, were returned to
their owners.

Freneau's _Gazette_ supported the Secretary of State with the
desperation of an expiring cause; in this great final battle, were
Jefferson driven from the Cabinet, his faithful organ must scurry to the
limbo of its kind. It assailed the Administration for ingratitude and
meanness, then turned its attention almost exclusively to the Secretary
of the Treasury. It accused him of abstracting the moneys due to France,
of plundering the industrious farmer with the Excise Law, destroying the
morals of the people by Custom House duties; resurrected the old
discrimination cry and asserted vehemently that he, and he alone, had
robbed the poor soldiers. It raked every accusation, past and present,
from its pigeon holes. Jefferson, on the other hand, was held up as a
model of the disinterested statesman, combining virtues before which
those falsely attributed to Washington paled and expired; and as the
only man fit to fill the Executive Chair. Genet accepted all this as
gospel, fortunately, perhaps, for the country; for his own excesses and
impudence, his final threat to appeal from the President to the people,
ruined him with the cooling heads of the Republican party, and finally
lost him even the support of Jefferson.

Meanwhile, after stormy meetings of the Cabinet, Hamilton, in the peace
of his library, with Angelica sorting his pages,--until she went to the
North,--had written a series of papers defending the proclamation. They
were so able and convincing, so demonstrable of the treasonable efforts
of the enemy to undermine the influence of the Administration, so cool
and so brilliant an exposition of the rights and powers of the
Executive, that on July 7th Jefferson wrote to Madison: "For God's sake,
my dear sir, take up your pen. Select the most striking heresies, and
cut him to pieces in the face of the public."

Madison hastened to obey his chief in a series of papers which tickled
the literary nerve, but failed to convince. That the laurels were to
Hamilton was another bitter pill which Jefferson was forced to swallow.
Nevertheless, Hamilton, despite his victories, felt anything but
amiable. He was so exhausted that he was on the verge of a collapse, and
triumphs were drab under the daily harassment of Jefferson, Genet, and
Freneau. Matters came to a climax one day in August, shortly before the
outbreak of yellow fever.


Hamilton laid down a copy of Freneau's _Gazette_, whose editorial
columns were devoted, as usual, to persuading the people of the United
States that they were miserable, and that they owed their misery to the
Secretary of the Treasury. It also contained a shameful assault upon the
President. As he lifted another paper from the pile on his library
table, his eyes fell on the following address to himself:--

     O votary of despotism! O abettor of Carthaginian faith! Blush! Can
     you for a moment suppose that the hearts of the yeomanry of America
     are becoming chilled and insensible to the feelings of insulted
     humanity like your own? Can you think that gratitude, the most
     endearing disposition of the human heart, is to be argued away by
     your dry sophistry? Do you suppose the people of the United States
     prudently thumb over Vattel and Pufendorf to ascertain the sum and
     substance of their obligations to their generous brethren, the
     French? No! no! Each individual will lay his hand on his heart and
     find the amount there. He will find that manly glow, both of
     gratitude and love, which animated his breast when assisted by this
     generous people in establishing his own liberty and shaking off the
     yoke of British despotism!

In the _Aurora_ he was denounced as the foe of France and the friend of
Great Britain and Spain, the high priest of tyranny, the bitterest enemy
of the immortal French trio, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité; the subtle
and Machiavellian adviser of Washington, who, relieved of this
pernicious influence, would acknowledge the debts of gratitude and
follow the will of the American people.

"Are they mad?" he thought, flinging the entire pile into the
waste-basket. "Or are they merely so eager for power and our ruin that
they are indifferent to the fact that the Administration, and the
foundations upon which it stands, never has needed the support of the
people more than now? Can only the party in power afford to be
patriotic? What a spectacle is this, that I, an alien born, am wearing
out my life and sacrificing my character, to save from themselves a
people who pant for my ruin! Has the game been worth the candle? Debt,
my family crowded into a house not half large enough to hold them, my
health almost gone, my reputation, in spite of repeated vindications,
undermined by daily assault--for the fools of the world believe what
they are told, and I cannot compromise my dignity by replying to such
attacks as these; above all, a sickening and constant disgust for life
and human nature! _Is_ the game worth the candle? Had I remained at the
bar, I should have given my family abundance by now; with only the kind
and quantity of enemies that stimulate. It is only politics that rouse
the hellish depths in the human heart. It is true that I have saved the
country, made it prosperous, happy, and honoured. But what guaranty have
I that this state will last beyond the administration of Washington?
With the Republicans in power the whole edifice may be swept away, the
country in a worse plight than before, and the author of its brief
prosperity forgotten with his works. I shall have lived in vain, and
leave my sons to be educated, my family to be supported, by my

He was in no mood to see the reverse side of the picture; and indeed his
cares were so many and overwhelming at this time that it is little
wonder he believed he had lost for ever the gay buoyancy of his spirits.
In addition to the predominating trials, financial matters were
demanding all the leisure he should have given to rest, heavy failures
in England having seriously affected the money concerns of the United
States; and the rebellions in the West against the Excise Law were
sounding a new alarm. Moreover, his constant efforts to obtain Duer's
release were unavailing; he could get no word of Lafayette; and the last
packet had brought a rumour of the murder of Gouverneur Morris by the
mob. Altogether, he may be excused for forgetting that he was still the
most dazzling figure in America, in the full tide of actual success, and
an object of terrified hatred to a powerful ring who could reach their
zenith over his political corpse, and by no other means whatever.

He picked up his hat, and went forth reluctantly to a Cabinet meeting.
It was early, and he saw Washington for a few moments alone in the
library. The President was in a no more cheerful or amiable frame of
mind than himself. His responsibilities in this terrible crisis wore on
his spirits and temper; and the daily fear that his Secretaries would
come to blows,--for Jefferson was in the worst humour of the
quintette,--to say nothing of the assaults of the press, made him openly
regret the hour he was persuaded into the Executive Chair. But his
entire absence of party spirit, despite his secret sympathy with every
measure of Hamilton's, his attitude of stern neutrality, never emerged
more triumphantly from any trial of his public career; nor did he ever
exhibit the magnanimity of his character more strikingly than in his
undisturbed affection for Hamilton, while daily twitted with being the
tool of his "scheming and ambitious Secretary."

Hamilton saw a copy of Freneau's _Gazette_ in the waste-basket, but by
common consent they ignored the subjects which would be unavoidable in a
few moments, and spoke of the stifling heat, of the unhealthy state of
Philadelphia, the menace of the San Domingo refugees pouring into the
city, of the piles of putrid coffee and hides on the wharves at the foot
of Mulberry Street, and of the carcasses of rotting hogs and horses
which lay everywhere.

"Thank Heaven, we can get our women and children out of it," said the
President. "And unless we can finish this business in another week, I
shall take the Government to the country. I suppose we are entitled to
escape with our lives, if they leave us nothing else."

They entered the Council Chamber and found the others in their
accustomed seats. Jefferson's brow was corrugated, his weak and mincing
mouth pressed out of shape. He had just finished reading the last of
Hamilton's "No Jacobin" papers, published that morning, in which Genet's
abominable breaches of decorum, violation of treaties, and deliberate
insults to the Executive--and through him to the American people--had
been set forth in so clear pointed and dispassionate a manner, that no
thinking Republican who read could fail to be convinced of the
falseness of his position in supporting this impudent and ridiculous
Frenchman. Furthermore, the Secretary of State had been forced, through
the exigencies of his position, to sign despatch after despatch, letter
after letter, in violation of his private sympathies. He was feeling not
only as angry as a cornered bull, but extremely virtuous. He hated what
he firmly believed to be the cold and selfish policy of the
Administration, as he hated every other policy it had executed; and the
knowledge that he had sacrificed his personal feelings to save his
country from discord, made him feel a far better man than the Secretary
of the Treasury, who had a diabolical talent for getting his own way. He
had some reason to be pleased with his conduct, and with his share in
contributing to a series of measures which later on won for the Cabinet
at that crucial period the encomiums of history; and when time had
abated the fevers, Hamilton would have been the first to acknowledge
that Jefferson not only was the brake which the Administration needed at
that time, but that, owing to his popularity with the French and the
masses of the United States, he reduced the danger of a popular

As Hamilton took his seat this morning, however, the blood was in his
head, and he and Jefferson exchanged a glance of sullen hate which made
Washington extend his long arms at once. All went well until the
President, with a premonitory sigh, introduced the dynamic name, Genet.
Hamilton forgot his debility, and was all mind, alert and energetic.
Jefferson, who had come to hate Genet as an intolerable nuisance, would
have been the first at another moment to counsel the demand for recall
which he knew was now inevitable, but he was in too bad a humour to-day
to concur in any measure agreeable to Hamilton.

The latter had replied promptly to Washington's remark that the time had
come to take definite action with regard to the light-headed Frenchman,
who continued to fit out and despatch privateers, and was convulsing the
country generally.

"Pray send him home, bag and baggage, sir. He is not entitled to the
dignity or consideration of the usual formalities. Moreover, he is the
trigger of the United States so long as he remains at liberty in it. I
estimate that there is a new Jacobin club formed daily. At any moment he
may do something which will drive these fools, under their red caps and
cockades, mad with admiration."

Jefferson brought his brows down to the root of his nose. "'Fools' is
not the word for an honest enthusiasm for liberty, sir. I regret the
present excitement--its manifestations at this moment--as much as

"Indeed? I am amazed. Who, then, is responsible for them?"

"Not I, sir."

"Oh, let us have no more hypocrisy, at all events," said Hamilton,
contemptuously. He had his wrath under control, but he suddenly
determined to force the climax. "If you had employed your secret pen to
better purpose, or not employed it at all, there would not be a Jacobin
club in the country; this ridiculous Frenchman, unencouraged by your
private sympathy, by your assurances of my inability to withhold the
residue of the debt, would have calmed down long since. I accuse you
here, deliberately and publicly, instead of writing private letters to
the public, both because I have not your commanding talent for patient
and devious ways, and because I wish you to declare, unequivocally,
whether or not you purpose to continue this policy of obstruction. Time
presses. We must act at once with regard to this Frenchman. Reserve
subterfuge for some more opportune time, and let us know what you intend
to do."

Jefferson looked with appeal at Washington, who usually interposed when
his Secretaries arrived at personalities. But Washington, although his
face was as immobile as stone, was so sick with anger and disgust over
the whole situation, at what appeared to be the loss of the popular
faith in himself, and the ridicule and abuse which had filled the
columns of Freneau's paper that morning, that it was a relief to him to
hear Hamilton explode.

"I repudiate every word you have said, sir," growled Jefferson. "More I
will not say. As to Citizen Genet, with whom I have never had a word of
private intercourse--" Here, even Washington lifted his head, and
Hamilton laughed outright. Jefferson continued, determined upon
martyrdom rather than rouse the terrible passions opposite: "As to
Citizen Genet, if the Cabinet agree that it is best he leave this
country. I shall demand that his recall be requested in the regular
manner, in accordance with every principle of international courtesy. He
may be imprudent, intoxicated with the glorious wine of liberty, but he
is a Frenchman, a distinguished citizen of the great country that came
so nobly to our rescue, and I protest against the base ingratitude which
would fling insults in the teeth of an unfortunate people."

Hamilton threw back his head impatiently, and drummed with his fingers
on the table. "The primary motive of France for the assistance she gave
us was, obviously, to enfeeble a hated and powerful rival. A second
motive was to extend her relations of commerce in the new world, and to
acquire additional security for her possessions there, by forming a
connection with this country when detached from Great Britain. To
ascribe to her any other motives, to suppose that she was actuated by
friendship toward us, is to be ignorant of the springs of action which
invariably regulate the cabinets of princes. A despotic court aid a
popular revolution through sympathy with its principles! For the matter
of that, if you insist upon American statesmen being sentimental fools,
the class that assisted us has been murdered by the rabble, which I
refuse to recognize as France. And if it be your object to reduce this
country to a similar position that you may climb over maddened brains to

"Hear!" roared Jefferson, justly indignant. "I? Never a man loved peace
as I do. My life has been hell since you have forced me into daily
conflict, when, God knows, I perish with desire for the peace of my
homely life in Virginia. Power! I scorn it, sir. I leave that to
restless upstarts like yourself--"

He stopped, choking. Hamilton laughed contemptuously. "You are at work
with your pen day and night, strengthening your misnamed party, and
preparing the way by which you can lift yourself to a position where you
can undo all that the party you hate, because it is composed of
gentlemen, has accomplished for the honour and prosperity of your
country. You are perfectly well aware that Genet was sent here to stir
up a civil war, and embroil us with Europe at the same time, and you
have secretly sympathized with and encouraged him. I cannot make up my
mind whether you are a villain, or merely the victim of a sublimated and
paradoxical imagination. But in either case, I wish to be placed on
record as asserting that you are the worst enemy the United States is
cursed with to-day."

This was too much for Jefferson, who had convinced himself that he was a
high-minded and self-sacrificing statesman, stooping to devious ways for
the common good. He forgot his physical fear, and shouted, pounding the
table with his fist:--

"How dare you, sir? How dare you? It is you who are ruining, corrupting,
and dishonouring this unhappy country, with your Banks, your devilish
methods to cement the aristocracy, your abominable Excise Law--"

"Oh, but you have counteracted that so effectively! I was coming to that
point. I conceived a measure by which to meet an imperative financial
demand, and you, by your agents, by your secret machinations, have been
the author of insurrection after insurrection, of the most flagrant
breaches of the laws of your country. You have cost innumerable men,
engaged in the pursuit of plain duty, their self-respect, and in several
cases their lives. Another hideous problem is approaching--one, I am
persuaded, that can be solved by arms and bloodshed alone; and to your
pen, to your deliberate unsettling of men's minds, to the hatred you
have inspired for the lawful government of this country, to you, and to
you alone--"

"It's a lie! a lie!" shouted Jefferson. "You are speaking to an
honourable man, sir! one who occupies a position in this country both by
birth and breeding that you would give your soul--you adventurer!--to
possess. Go back to your Islands! You have no place here among men of
honourable birth. It's monstrous that this country should be ruled by a
foreign bastard--!"

For a moment, every one present had a confused idea that a tornado was
in the room. Then two doors were wrenched open, Jefferson fled down the
street, with Randolph, bearing his hat, in pursuit; Knox was holding
Hamilton firmly in his arms; and Washington, who had risen some moments
since, and stood staring in grim disgust, awaiting the end, was divided
between a desire to laugh, and to give way to a burst of fury himself.

Hamilton had made no attempt to struggle when Knox caught him, but he
now withdrew from the relaxing arms, and the Secretary of War left the
room hastily. Hamilton, to Washington's astonishment, flung himself into
a chair, and dropped his head on his arms. In a moment, he began to sob
convulsively. A malignant fever was breeding in his depressed system;
the blood still surged in his head. He had a despairing sense that his
character was in ruins; he was humiliated to his depths; he despised
himself so bitterly that he forgot the existence of Jefferson.

The humour and anger died out of Washington. He went forward hastily and
locked the door. Then he stooped over Hamilton, and pressed him closely
in his arms.

"My dear boy!" he said huskily. "My dear boy!"


That was the last of Hamilton's battles in the Cabinet. Jefferson
resigned; although, in order that the Administration might, until the
crisis was past, preserve an unbroken front to the country, he
reluctantly consented to withhold his resignation until the assembling
of Congress. He retired to Monticello, however; and apologized to the
Secretary of the Treasury.

Hamilton, almost immediately, was taken down with yellow fever, which
broke out suddenly and raged with a fearful violence. To the ordinary
odours of carcasses and garbage, were added those of vinegar, tar,
nitre, garlic, and gunpowder. Every disinfectant America had ever heard
of was given a trial, and every man who possessed a shot-gun fired it
all day and all night. The bells tolled incessantly. The din and the
smells were hideous, the death carts rattled from dawn till dawn; many
were left unburied in their houses for a week; hundreds died daily; and
the city confessed itself helpless, although it cleaned the streets.
Hamilton had a very light attack, but Dr. Stevens dropped in frequently
to see him; he privately thought him of more importance than all

Lying there and thinking of many things, too grateful for the rest to
chafe at the imprisonment, and striving for peace with himself, Hamilton
one day conceived the idea of immersing yellow-fever patients in
ice-water. Microbes were undiscovered, but Hamilton, perhaps with a
flashing glimpse of the truth, reasoned that if cold weather invariably
routed the disease, a freezing of the infected blood should produce the
same result. He succeeded in convincing Stevens, with the issue that
when the scourge was over, the young West Indian doctor had so many
cures to his credit, where all other physicians had failed, that the
City Council presented him with a silver tankard, gratefully inscribed,
and filled with golden coins. Hamilton's fecund brain, scattering its
creations, made more than one reputation.

Meanwhile, he awoke one day to find Mrs. Croix sitting beside his bed.
She had left town in June, and usually did not return until late in
September. She wore a white frock and a blue sash, and looked like an
angel about to do penance.

"I have come back to take care of the sick, including yourself," she
announced, "I was born to be a nurse, and I felt that my place was here.
I have come to see you first, and I shall call daily, but otherwise I am
in Dr. Stevens's hands."

Hamilton stared at her. He was not surprised, for she was kind hearted
in her erratic imperious fashion, and much beloved by the poor; nor was
she afraid of anything under heaven. But she was the last person he had
wished to see; she was for his triumphant hours, or his furious, not for
helpless invalidism. He had longed consistently for his wife, and
written to her by every packet-boat, lest she suspect his illness and
return to the plague-stricken city. He was filled with a sudden
resentment that any other woman should presume to fill her chair. To
forget her under overwhelming provocation he had reconciled to his
conscience with little difficulty, for his extenuations were many, and
puritanism had not yet invaded the national character; but to permit
another woman to ministrate to him when ill, he felt to be an
unpardonable breach of his Eliza's rights, and his loyalty rebelled. So,
although he treated Mrs. Croix with politeness while she remained, he
gave orders to Dr. Stevens to keep her away upon any pretext he chose.
"I am too nervous to be bothered with women," he added; and Stevens
obeyed without comment.

Hamilton's convalescence was cheered by two facts: the revival of his
spirits and equilibrium, and frequent assurances from his wife that for
the first time in five years she was entirely well. She wrote that she
had regained all her old colour, "spring," vivacity, and plumpness, and
felt quite ten years younger. Hamilton was delighted; for her courage
had so far exceeded her strength that he had often feared a collapse.
Although she detested the sight of a pen, she was so elated with her
recovered health that she wrote to him weekly. Suddenly, and without
explanation, the letters stopped. Still, he was quite unprepared for
what was to follow, and on the first of October, his health improved by
a short sojourn in the country, he went to the wharf to meet the
packet-boat which invariably brought his family; his pockets full of
sweets, and not a misgiving in his mind.

As he stood on the wharf, watching the boat towed slowly to dock, his
four oldest children suddenly appeared, waving their hats and shouting
like young Indians. James, who was as broad as he was long, and was
wedged firmly between Angelica and Philip lest he turn over, swelled a
chorus which excited much amusement among by-standers. To Hamilton's
surprise his wife did not occupy her usual place behind that
enthusiastic group, but as the boat touched the pier, and all four
precipitated themselves upon him at once,--the three oldest about his
neck, and James upon his pockets,--he forgot her for the moment in the
delight of seeing and embracing his children after three months of
separation. He emerged from that wild greeting, dishevelled and
breathless, only to disappear once more within six long arms and a
circle of sunburned faces. Hamilton received from his children an almost
frantic affection; indeed, few people merely liked him; it was either
hate or a love which far transcended the bounds of such affection as the
average mortal commands. The passion he inspired in his children cost
one his life, another her reason, and left its indelible mark on a
third; but for what they gave, they received an overflowing measure in
return; no man was ever more passionately attached to his brood, nor
took a greater delight in its society.

Suddenly, through the web of Angelica's flying locks, he saw that his
wife had appeared on deck and was about to land. He disentangled himself
hastily and went forward to greet her. In a flash he noted that she was
prettier than ever, and that she was affected by something far more
extraordinary than an increase of health. She threw back her head, and
her black eyes flashed with anger as he approached with the assurance of
thirteen years of connubial ownership; but she greeted him politely and
took his arm. No explanation was possible there; and he escorted her and
the children to the coach as quickly as possible. Philip, Angelica, and
Alexander were sensible at once of the chasm yawning between the seats;
they redoubled their attentions to their father, and regarded their
mother with reproving and defiant eyes. Poor Betsey, conscious that she
was entirely in the right, felt bitter and humiliated, and sought to
find comfort in the indifference of James, who was engaged with a
cornucopia and blind to the infelicity of his parents.

When they reached the house, Hamilton dismissed the children and opened
the door of his library.

"Will you come in?" he said peremptorily.

Mrs. Hamilton entered, and sat down on a high-backed chair. She was very
small, her little pigeon toes were several inches above the floor; but
no judge on his bench ever looked so stern and so inexorable.

"Now," said Hamilton, who was cold from head to foot, for he had an
awful misgiving, "let us have an explanation at once. This is our first
serious misunderstanding, and you well know that I shall be in misery
until it is over--"

"I have not the least intention of keeping you in suspense," interrupted
Betsey, sarcastically. "I am too thankful that you did not happen to
come to Saratoga when _I_ was prostrated with misery. I have gone
through everything,--every stage of wretchedness that the human heart is
capable of,--but now, thank Heaven, I am filled with only a just
indignation. Read that!"

She produced a letter from her reticule and flipped it at him. Even
before he opened it he recognized the familiar handwriting, the profuse
capitals, of Mrs. Reynolds. Fortunately, he made no comment, for the
contents were utterly different from his quick anticipation. It
contained a minute and circumstantial account of his visits during the
past year to Mrs. Croix, with many other details, which, by spying and
bribing, no doubt, she had managed to gather. Failing one revenge, the
woman had resorted to another, and fearing that it might be lost among
the abundant and surfeiting lies of the public press, she had aimed at
what he held most dear. The letter was so minute and circumstantial that
it would have convinced almost any woman.

There was but one thing for Hamilton to do, and he lied with his
unsurpassable eloquence. When he paused tentatively, his wife

"Alexander, you are a very great man, but you are a wretchedly poor
liar. As Mr. Washington would say, your sincerity is one of the most
valuable of your gifts, and without it you could not convince a child.
As if this were not enough, only yesterday, on the boat, I overheard two
of your intimate friends discussing this intrigue as a matter of course.
There was not a word of censure or criticism; they were merely wondering
when you would add to your enemies; for as this woman was desperately in
love with you, she was bound to hate you as violently when you tired of
her. I think men are horrors!" she burst out passionately. "When, unable
to bear this terrible affliction any longer, and unwilling to worry my
poor mother, I took that letter and my grief to my father--what do you
suppose he said? After he had tried to convince me that the story was a
base fabrication, and that an anonymous communication should be
destroyed unread--as if any woman living would not read an anonymous
letter!--he said, crossly, that women did not understand men and never
made allowances for them; and he went on to make as many excuses for you
as if he were defending himself; and then wound up by saying that he did
not believe a word of it, and that the letter was written by someone you
had flouted. But it seemed to me in those awful days that I was awake
for the first time, that for the first time I understood you--and your
horrid sex, in general--I do! I do!"

She looked so adorable with her flashing eyes, the hot colour in her
cheek, and the new personality she exhibited, that Hamilton would have
foregone a triumph over his enemies to kiss her. But he dared not make a
false move, and he was terribly perplexed.

"I can only reiterate," he said, "that this letter is a lie from
beginning to end. It is written by a woman, who, with her husband, has
blackmailed me and jeopardized my reputation. I treated them as they
deserved, and this is their next move. As for Mrs. Croix, I repeat, she
is a most estimable person, whose brilliant wit and talent for politics
draw all public men about her. There is hardly one among them who might
not be victimized by a similar attack. I doubt if I have called half as
often as many others. As for the friends whom you heard discussing my
visits--you know the love of the human mind for scandal. Please be
reasonable. You have made me the most wretched man on earth, I shall be
unfit for public duty or anything else if you continue to treat me in
this brutal manner. I hardly know you. No woman was ever more loved by
her husband or received more devotion."

Betsey almost relented, he looked so miserable. But she replied firmly:
"There is one condition I have a right to make. If you agree to it, I
will consider if I can bring myself to believe your denial and your
protestations. It is that you never enter Mrs. Croix's house again, nor
see her willingly."

Hamilton knew what the promise would mean, but his mind worked with the
rapidity of lightning in great crises, and never erred. He replied

"I will see her once, and once only--to give her a decent reason for not
calling again--that I understand I am compromising her good name, or
something of the sort. I have accepted too much hospitality at her hands
to drop her brusquely, without a word of explanation."

"You can write her a letter. You can merely send polite excuses when she
invites you. You are very busy. You have every excuse. Gradually, she
will think no more about you--if it be true that she is nothing to you.
You have your choice, sir! Either your promise, or I return by the next
packet to Albany."

But Hamilton, always considerate of women, and despising the weakness
and brutality which permits a man to slink out of an amour, would not
retreat, and Betsey finally settled herself in her chair, and said, with
unmistakable determination:--

"Very well, go now. I shall not move from this room--this chair--until
you return."

Hamilton caught his hat and left the house. Although he was possessed by
the one absorbing desire to win back his wife, who had never been so
dear as to-day, when for the first time she had placed him at arm's
length and given him a thorough fright, still his brain, accustomed to
see all sides of every question at once, and far into the future, spoke
plainly of the hour when he would regret the loss of Mrs. Croix. He
might forget her for weeks at a time, but he always reawakened to a
sense of her being with a glowing impression that the world was more
alive and fair. The secret romance had been very dear and pleasant. The
end was come, however, and he was eager to pass it.

His eye was attracted to a chemist's window, and entering the shop
hastily, he purchased a bottle of smelling salts. The act reminded him
of Mrs. Mitchell, and that he had not heard from her for several months.
He resolved to write that night, and permitted his mind to wander to the
green Island which was almost lost among his memories. The respite was
brief, however.

To his relief he found Mrs. Croix in her intellectual habit. The lady,
who was reading in the door of her boudoir above the garden steps,
exclaimed, without formal greeting:--

"I am transported, sir. Such descriptions never were written before.

Hamilton, who hated descriptions of scenery at any time, and was in his
most direct and imperative temper, stood the infliction but a moment,
then asked her attention. She closed the book over her finger and smiled

"Forgive me for boring you," she said graciously. "But you know my
passion for letters; and if truth must be told, I am a little piqued. I
have not laid eyes on you for a fortnight. Not but that I am used to
your lapses of memory by this time," she added, with a sigh.

Hamilton went straight to the point. He told her the exact reason for
the necessary breach, omitting nothing but the episode of Mrs. Reynolds;
one cause of reproach was as much as a man could be expected to furnish
an angry woman.

For Mrs. Croix was very angry. At first she had pressed her hand against
her heart as if about to faint, and Hamilton had hastily extracted the
salts; but the next moment she was on her feet, towering and expanding
like an avenging queen about to order in her slaves with scimitars and

"Do you mean," she cried, "that I am flouted, flung aside like an old
cravat? I? With half the men in America in love with me? Good God, sir!
I have known from the beginning that you would tire, but I thought to be
on the watch and save my pride. How dare you come like this? Why could
you not give me warning? It is an outrage. I would rather you had killed

"I am sorry I have blundered," said Hamilton, humbly. "But how in
Heaven's name can a man know how a woman will take anything? I had such
respect for your great intelligence that I thought it due you to treat
you as I would a man--"

"A man?" exclaimed Mrs. Croix. "Treat me like a man! Of all the
supremely silly things I ever heard one of your sex say, that is the
silliest. I am not a man, and you know it."

Hamilton hastened to assure her that she was deliberately averting her
intelligence from his true meaning. "You have never doubted my sincerity
for a moment," he added. "You surely know what it will cost me never to
see you again. There is but one cause under heaven that could have
brought me to you with this decision. You may believe in my regret--to
use a plain word--when you reflect upon all that you have been to me."

He was desperately afraid that her anger would dissolve in tears, and he
be placed in a position from which he was not sure of emerging with a
clear conscience,--and he dared take home nothing less. But Mrs. Croix,
however she might feel on the morrow, was too outraged in her pride and
vanity to be susceptible either to grief or the passion of love. She
stormed up and down the room in increasing fury, her eyes flashing blue
lightning, her strong hands smashing whatever costly offering they
encountered. "Wives! Wives! Wives!" she screamed. "The little fools!
What are wives for but to keep house and bring up babies? They are a
class apart. I have suffered enough from their impertinent interference.
Am I not a woman apart? Will you assert that there is a 'wife' in
America who can hold her own with me for a moment in anything? Was I not
created to reveal to men--and only the ablest, for I waste no time on
fools--the very sublimation of my sex--a companionship they will find
in no silly little fool, stupid with domesticity? Am I to submit, then,
to be baulked by a sex I despise--and in the greatest passion that ever
possessed a woman?" She stopped and laughed, bringing her lashes
together and moving forward her beautiful lips. "What a fool I am!" she
said. "You will come back when the humour seizes you. I had forgot that
your family returned to-day. You are in your most domestic mood--and I
have been inflicted with that before. But there will come an hour when
neither your wife nor any other mortal power will keep you away from me.
Is it not true?"

Hamilton had turned pale; his ready imagination had responded with a
presentiment of many desperate struggles. He rose, and took her hand

"No," he said. "I shall not return. Believe me, that is the hardest
sentence I have ever pronounced upon myself. And forgive me if I have
been rude and inconsiderate. It was the result of the desire to have the
agony over as quickly as possible. I should have found the anticipation
unbearable, and I do not believe it would have been more soothing to
you. There is no reason why your pride should be wounded, for this is
not the result of satiety on my part, but of an imperative necessity.
Shake hands with me."

She wrenched her hand free and, seizing a vase, flung it into a mirror.
Hamilton retreated.


He had been gone just thirty-five minutes, Betsey received him with
stern approval and announced that she had implicit faith in his promise
to avoid Mrs. Croix in the future. But it was quite evident that his
punishment was unfinished, and with due humility and some humour he
bided her pleasure. Between the two women he had a lively month. Mrs.
Croix wrote him a letter a day. At first it was evident that she had
taken herself in hand, that her pen was guided by her marvellous
intelligence. She apologized charmingly for her exhibition of temper,
and for any reflection she might have made upon the most estimable of
women, who (with a sigh) had the happiness to be the wife of Alexander
Hamilton. She ignored his ultimatum and asked him to come at once, and
talk the matter over calmly. Hamilton replied with the graceful
playfulness of which he was master, but left no doubt of his continuity
of purpose. After the interchange of several letters of this complexion,
in which Mrs. Croix was quite conscious of revealing the ample resources
of her wit, spirit, and tact, she broke down and went through every
circumstance of a despairing woman fighting to recover the supreme
happiness of her life. At times she was humble, she prostrated herself
at his feet. Again she raved with all the violence of her nature. Her
pride, and it was very great, was submerged under the terrible agony of
her heart. Even passion was forgotten, and she was sincere for the
moment when she vowed that she had no wish beyond his mere presence.

Hamilton was horribly distressed. He would rather she had turned upon
him at once with all her tigerish capacity for hate. But he had given
his word to his wife, and that was the end of it. He answered every
letter, but his gallantry and kindness were pitch and oil, and it was
with profound relief that he watched the gradual stiffening of her
pride, the dull resentment, even although he knew it meant that an
enemy, subtle, resourceful, and venomous, was in the process of making.
In her final letter she gave him warning--and a last opportunity. But of
this he took no notice.

Meanwhile, Betsey had led him a dance. Naturally bright, but heretofore
too sheltered and happy, too undisturbed in her trust, she had done
little thinking, little analysis, felt nothing but amusement for the
half-comprehended vagaries of men. But jealousy and suffering give a
woman, in a week, a fill of knowledge and cunning that will serve her a
lifetime. Betsey developed both coquetry and subtlety. She knew that if
she obtained command of the situation now, she should hold it to the
end, and she was determined that this crisis should result in a close
and permanent union. If she finally believed his denial, she was much
too shrewd to give him the satisfaction of regaining his former mastery
of her mind; but she ceased to speak of it. Meanwhile, he was devoting
his energies to winning her again, and he had never found life so
interesting. She radiated a new bewitchment, and he had always thought
her the most adorable woman on the planet. He divined a good many of her
mental processes; but if he was a trifle amused, he was deeply
respectful. She was sufficiently uncertain in this new character to
torment him unbearably, and when she occasionally betrayed that she was
interested and fascinated, he was transported. When she finally
succumbed, he was more in love than he had ever been in his life.


The next seven years of Hamilton's life must be reviewed very rapidly.
Interesting as they might be made, space diminishes, and after all they
were but the precursor of the last great battle of the giants.

In the spring of 1794 the Virginian ring rallied for their final assault
in Congress. Their spokesman this time was a worthless man, named
Fraunces, and he brought forth a charge against the Secretary of the
Treasury of unfaithfulness in office. Hamilton promptly demanded another
investigation. The result may be found in the following letters from
eminent Federals in Virginia. The first is from Colonel Carrington,
dated Richmond, July 9th.

     I do not write this letter as congratulatory upon the final issue
     of the Inquiry into the Treasury Department, as I never conceived
     you exposed to receive injury therefrom. I write to express my most
     sincere wishes that you will not suffer the illiberality with which
     you have been treated to deprive the public of your services, at
     least until the storm which hangs over us, and is to be dreaded,
     not less from our own follies and vices than the malignance and
     intrigues of foreigners, blows over. It is true you have been
     abused, but it has been and still is, the fate of him who was
     supposed out of the reach of all slander. It is indeed the lot, in
     some degree, of every man amongst us who has the sense or fortitude
     to speak and act rationally, and such men must continue so to speak
     and act if we are saved from anarchy.

On July 20th, Thomas Corbin wrote to Hamilton deploring the political
conditions in Virginia created by Thomas Jefferson, in which these
significant passages occur:--

     Calumny and misrepresentation are the only weapons made use of by
     the faction of Virginia. By a dexterous management of these they
     have brought into popular disrepute, and even into popular odium,
     some of the wisest and best characters in the United States.

     War is waged by this faction against every candidate who possesses
     the union of requisites. Independent fortune, independent
     principles, talents, and integrity are denounced as badges of
     aristocracy; but if you add to these good manners and a decent
     appearance, his political death is decreed without the benefit of a
     hearing. In short, with a few exceptions everything that appertains
     to the character of a gentleman is ostracized. That yourself and
     Mr. Jay should be no favorites in Virginia, is not to be wondered
     at. But all those whose good opinion is worth your acceptance
     entertain for you both the same veneration and esteem, and hear the
     aspersions of your enemies with the same indignation that I do;
     who, after the closest examination, and the purest conviction can
     conscientiously subscribe myself etc.

In the autumn the whiskey disturbances in western Pennsylvania assumed
such serious proportions that Hamilton insisted upon recourse to arms.
With his usual precision he had calculated the numbers of the
insurgents, and the amount of troops necessary to overwhelm them.
Washington issued requisitions for fifteen thousand men, and set out
with the troops, his first intention being to command in person.
Hamilton accompanied him, and upon the President's return to
Philadelphia, assumed the general superintendence of the army, whose
commander, Henry Lee, was one of his devoted adherents. Many motives
have been ascribed to Hamilton for this exceptional proceeding, and
Washington was bitterly assailed for "not being able to move without his
favourite Secretary at his elbow," and for giving additional
conspicuousness to a man whose power already was a "menace to Republican
liberties." Randolph, then the nominal Secretary of State, but quite
aware that while Hamilton remained in the Cabinet he was but a
figurehead, was so wroth, that later, in his futile "Vindication,"
following what practically was his expulsion from the Cabinet, he
animadverted bitterly upon a favour which no one but Hamilton would
have presumed to ask. Fauchet, the successor of Genet, in the
intercepted letter to his government, which brought about the fall of
Randolph, convicting him of corruption and treachery, has this to say:--

     The army marched; the President made known that he was going to
     command it; Hamilton, as I have understood, requested to follow
     him; the President dared not refuse him. It does not require much,
     penetration to divine the object of this journey. In the President
     it was wise, it might also be his duty. But in Mr. Hamilton it was
     a consequence of the profound policy which directs all his steps; a
     measure dictated by a perfect knowledge of the human heart. Was it
     not interesting for him, for his party, tottering under the weight
     of events without and accusations within, to proclaim an intimacy
     more perfect than ever with the President, whose very name is a
     sufficient shield against the most formidable attacks? Now, what
     more evident mark could the President give of his intimacy than by
     suffering Mr. Hamilton, whose name, even, is understood in the west
     as that of a public enemy, to go and place himself at the head of
     the army which went, if I may use the expression, to cause his
     system to triumph against the opposition of the people? The
     presence of Mr. Hamilton with the army must attach it more than
     ever to his party.

There were depths in Hamilton's mind which no wise mortal will ever
attempt to plumb. It is safe to say he did nothing without one eye on a
far-reaching policy; and aside from the pleasure of being in the saddle
once more, riding over the wild Alleghanies in keen October weather,
after four years of the stenches and climatic miseries of Philadelphia,
aside from his fear of Governor Miffin's treachery, and his lack of
implicit confidence in Lee's judgement, it is quite likely that he had
some underlying motive relative to the advantage of his party, which had
been weakened by the incessant assaults upon himself. By going with the
army he not only demonstrated the perfect confidence reposed in him by
Washington, and his determination that his laws should be enforced, but
he gave emphasis to his belief that the resistance to the Excise Law had
been deliberately instigated by the Republicans under the leadership of
his avowed enemies. In this connection the following extract from
Fauchet's letter is highly interesting, intimate as he was with the
Republican leaders.

    Such therefore were the parts of the public grievance, upon which
    the western people most insisted. Now, these complaints were
    systematizing by the conversations of influential men, who retired
    into those wild countries, and who from principle, or from a series
    of particular heart-burnings, animated discontents already too near
    to effervescence. At last the local explosion is effected. The
    western people calculated on being supported by some distinguished
    characters in the east, and even imagined they had in the bosom of
    the government some abettors, who might share in their grievance or
    their principle.

The rioters, sobered by the organized force and its formidable numbers,
surrendered without bloodshed.

In January of the following year Hamilton resigned from the Cabinet. The
pressing need of his services was over, and he had many reasons for
retiring from office: his health was seriously impaired, he had a
growing family of boys to educate; he expected his father by every ship
from the Windward Islands, to spend his last years in the home to which
his son had so often invited him; Mrs. Mitchell was now a widow and
almost penniless; and his disgust of office was so uncompromising that
no consideration short of an imperative public duty would have induced
him to continue. But his principal reason, as he wrote to Mrs. Church,
was that he wished to indulge his domestic happiness more freely.
Washington let him go with the less reluctance because he promised
immediate response to any demand the President might make upon him. He
went with his wife, Angelica, and the younger children to Albany and the
Saratoga estate, where he remained until the first of June, endeavouring
to regain his health in the forest and on the river. Young Lafayette
lived with him until his return to France, in 1798.

Upon Hamilton's return to New York he immediately engaged in practice,
which he supplemented by coaching students; but he continued to be
Washington's chief adviser, and the correspondence was continuous upon
every problem which confronted the harassed President. Indeed, when one
reads its bulk, one wonders if the Cabinet did anything but execute
Hamilton's suggestions. Randolph kicked his heels in impotent wrath, and
his successor's correspondence with Hamilton was almost as voluminous
as Washington's. So was Wolcott's, who hardly cancelled a bond without
his former chief's advice; William Smith, the auditor-general, was
scarcely less insistent for orders. Hamilton wrote at length to all of
them, as well as to the numerous members of Congress who wanted advice,
or an interpretation of some Constitutional provision hitherto on the
shelf. What time he had for his practice and students would remain a
mystery, were it not for the manifest price he paid in the vigours of
all but will and brain.

During the summer of 1794 Talleyrand visited the United States. He
brought a package from Mrs. Church to Mrs. Hamilton, and a cordial
letter from the same important source to the statesman whom he ranked
higher than any man of his time. "He improves upon acquaintance," wrote
Mrs. Church to her sister; "I regret that you do not speak French." But
her sister's husband spoke French better than any man in America, and
after the resignation from the Cabinet, Talleyrand spent most of his
time in the little red brick house at 26 Broadway, where Hamilton was
working to recover his lost position at the bar. "I have seen the eighth
wonder of the world," wrote the Frenchman, one morning, after a ramble
in the small hours, which had taken him past the light in Hamilton's
study, "I have seen the man who has made the fortune of a nation,
toiling all night to supply his family with bread." The men found great
delight in each other's society. Hamilton was the most accomplished and
versatile man in America, the most brilliant of conversationists, the
most genial of companions, and hospitable of hosts. Talleyrand
epitomized Europe to him; and the French statesman had met no one in his
crowded life who knew it better. If he gave to Hamilton the concentrated
essence of all that ardent brain had read and dreamed of, of all that
fate had decreed he never should see in the mass, Talleyrand placed on
record his tribute to Hamilton's unmortal powers of divination, and
loved and regretted him to the close of his life.

Different as the men were in character, they had two points in
common,--a passionate patriotism, and the memory of high ideals. Public
life had disposed of Talleyrand's ideals, and Hamilton, after an
education in the weakness and wickedness of human nature which left
nothing to be desired, would have been equally destitute, had it not
been for his temperamental gaiety and buoyant philosophy. There were
times when these deserted him, and he brooded in rayless depths, but his
Celtic inheritance and the vastness of his intellect saved him from
despair until the end. Talleyrand was by no means an uncheerful soul;
but his genius, remarkable as it was, flowed between narrower lines, and
was unwatered by that humanity which was Hamilton's in such volume. Both
men had that faculty of seeing things exactly as they are, which the
shallow call cynicism; and those lost conversations appeal to the
imagination of the searcher after truth.

Jay's treaty was the most formidable question with which Hamilton was
called upon to deal before the retirement of Washington to private life,
and it gave him little less trouble than if he had remained in the

It had been his idea to send a special envoy to England to remonstrate
with the British Government for her abominable oppressions and
accumulating outrages, decide if possible upon a treaty with her which
would soothe the excitement in the United States,--as wild in the spring
of 1794 as the Jacobin fever,--and avert war. It was the desire of
Washington and the eminent Federalists that this mission be undertaken
by Hamilton, for he had an especial faculty for getting what he wanted:
however obstinate he might be, his diplomacy was of the first order when
he chose to use it. But he believed that, having suggested the mission,
he could not with propriety accept it, and that his services could be
given more effectively in the Cabinet. Moreover, the violent opposition
which the proposal immediately raised among the Republicans, notably
Randolph and Monroe,--the latter so far transcending etiquette as to
write to Washington, denouncing his Secretary of the Treasury,--made it
probable that his enemies would defeat his confirmation in the Senate.
He suggested the name of Chief Justice Jay; and after the usual bitter
preliminaries, that exalted but not very forcible personage sailed for
England in the latter part of April, 1794. Negotiations were very slow,
for Britain still felt for us a deep and sullen resentment, nourished by
our Jacobin enthusiasms. In January, however, news came that the treaty
was concluded; and Hamilton, supposing that the matter was settled,
resigned from the Cabinet. It has been asserted that when he read this
famous instrument, he characterized it as "an old woman's treaty," and
it is very probable that he did. Nevertheless, when, after a stormy
passage through the Senate, it was launched upon the country, and,
systematically manipulated by the practised arts of Jacobinism, carried
the United States almost to the verge of civil war, Hamilton accepted
the treaty as the best obtainable, and infinitely preferable to further
troubles. He took up his pen, having previously been stoned while
attempting to speak in its defence, and in a series of papers signed
"Catullus," wrote as even he had not done since the days of "The
Federalist." Their effect was felt at once; and as they continued to
issue, and Hamilton's sway over the public mind, his genius for moulding
opinion, became with each more manifest, Jefferson, terrified and
furious, wrote to Madison:--

     Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti-Republican party. Without
     numbers he is a host in himself. They have got themselves into a
     defile where they might be finished; but too much security on the
     Republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness
     to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose
     him. In truth when he comes forward there is no one but yourself
     can meet him.... For God's sake take up your pen and give a
     fundamental reply to "Curtius" and "Camillus."

But Madison had had enough of pen encounter with Hamilton. "He who puts
himself on paper with Hamilton is lost," Burr had said; and Madison
agreed with him, and entered the lists no more. The excitement gradually
subsided. It left ugly scars behind it, but once more Hamilton had saved
his party, and perhaps the Union. In connection with the much disputed
authorship of the Farewell Address I will merely quote a statement,
heretofore unpublished, made by Mrs. Hamilton, in the year 1840.

     Desiring that my children shall be fully acquainted with the
     services rendered by their father to our country, and the
     assistance rendered by him to General Washington during his
     administrations, for the one great object, the independence and
     stability of the government of the United States, there is one
     thing in addition to the numerous proofs which I leave them, and
     which I feel myself in duty bound to state: which is that a short
     time previous to General Washington's retiring from the Presidency,
     in the year 1796, General Hamilton suggested to him the idea of
     delivering a farewell address to the people on his withdrawal from
     public life, with which idea General Washington was well pleased,
     and in his answer to General Hamilton's suggestion, gave him the
     heads of the subject on which he would wish to remark, with a
     request that Mr. Hamilton would prepare a draft for him. Mr.
     Hamilton did so, and the address was written principally at such
     times as his office was seldom frequented by his clients and
     visitors, and during the absence of his students to avoid
     interruption; at which times he was in the habit of calling me to
     sit with him, that he might read to me as he wrote, in order, as he
     said, to discover how it sounded upon the ear, and making the
     remark, "My dear Eliza, you must be to me what old Molière's nurse
     was to him."

     The whole or nearly all the "address" was read to me by him, as he
     wrote it, and the greater part if not all was written in my
     presence. The original was forwarded to General Washington, who
     approved of it with the exception of one paragraph; of, I think,
     from four to five lines, which, if I mistake not, was on the
     subject of the public schools; which was stricken out. It was
     afterward returned to Mr. Hamilton who made the desired alteration,
     and was afterward delivered to General Washington, and published in
     that form, and has since been known as "General Washington's
     Farewell Address." Shortly after the publication of the address, my
     husband and myself were walking in Broadway when an old soldier
     accosted him with the request of him to purchase General
     Washington's farewell address, which he did, and turning to me
     said, "That man does not know he has asked me to purchase my own

     The whole circumstances are at this moment so perfectly in my mind
     that I can call to mind his bringing General Washington's letter to
     me, who returned the address, and remarked on the only alteration
     which he (General Washington) had requested to be made.

     New York, Aug. 7th, 1840.


In 1797 Hamilton was forced by treachery and the malignancy of
Jacobinism into the most painful and mortifying act of his public
career. He had been hailed by certain enthusiastic Federalists as the
legitimate successor of Washington. It was a noble ambition, and there
is no doubt that Hamilton would have cherished it, had he been less of a
philosopher, less in the habit of regarding a desire for the impossible
as a waste of time. Not only were older men in the direct line of
promotion, but he knew that as the author of the Excise Law he was hated
by one section of the Commonwealth, and that as the parent of the
manufacturing interest, to say nothing of the Assumption measure, he had
incurred the antagonism of the entire South. Lest these causes for
disqualification be obscured by the brilliancy of his reputation,
Jefferson's unresting and ramifying art had indelibly impressed the
public mind with the monarchical-aristocratical tendencies and designs
of the former Secretary of the Treasury, and of his hatred for a beloved
cause overseas. Hamilton had given an absolute negative to every
suggestion to use his name; but one at least had found its way into
print, and so terrified the enemy that they determined upon one more
powerful blow at his good name. Monroe had a fresh cause for hatred in
his humiliating recall from France, which he ascribed to the influence
of Hamilton. No doubt the trio were well satisfied for a time with their
carefully considered scheme. The pamphlet published in 1797, called "The
History of the United States for 1796," and edited by a disreputable man
named Callender, was the concentrated essence of Jacobinical fury and
vindictiveness against Alexander Hamilton. It surpassed any attack yet
made on him, while cleverly pretending to be an arraignment of the
entire Federalist party; shrieking so loudly at times against
Washington, Adams, and Jay, that the casual reader would overlook the
sole purport of the pamphlet. "It is ungenerous to triumph over the
ruins of declining fame," magnanimously finished its attack upon
Washington. "Upon this account not a word more shall be said!"

It omitted a recital of the two Congressional attacks upon Hamilton's
financial integrity, as to refrain from all mention of the vindications
would have been impossible; but it raked up everything else for which
it had space, sought to prove him a liar by his defence of the Jay
treaty in the Camillus papers, and made him insult Washington in
language so un-Hamiltonian that to-day it excites pity for the
desperation of the Virginians. When it finally arrived at the pith and
marrow of the assault, however, it was with quite an innocent air. This
was a carefully concocted version of the Reynolds affair. Callender had
obtained possession of the papers which Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable
had prepared to submit to the President, before hearing Hamilton's
explanation. He asserted that this explanation was a lie, and that the
Secretary of the Treasury had not only speculated with the public funds,
but that he had made thirty thousand pounds by the purchase of army
certificates. It was also alleged that Hamilton ordered his name
withdrawn as a Presidential candidate, in consequence of a threat that
otherwise these same papers would be published.

It is a curious instance of the fatuity of contemporaries, that
Hamilton's enemies reckoned upon a sullen silence, in the face of
damning assault, from the greatest fighter of his time. Indubitably,
they argued that he would think it best to pass the matter over; no man
could be expected to give to the public the full explanation. But they
reckoned with an insufficient knowledge of this host, as they had done
many a time before. Hamilton had no desire to hold office again, but he
was still the great leader of a great party, as determined as ever that
at no cost should there be a stain on his public honour. He consulted
with his closest friends, among them his wife. As the sin was now five
years old--and the woman a derelict--Mrs. Hamilton found it easier to
forgive than an unconfessed liaison with the most remarkable woman of
her time. Although she anticipated the mortification of the exposure
quite as keenly as her husband, she cherished his good name no less
tenderly, and without hesitation counselled him to give the facts to the
public. This he did in a pamphlet which expounded the workings of the
"Jacobin Scandal Club," told the unpleasant story without reserve, and
went relentlessly into the details of the part played in it by Monroe,
Muhlenberg, and Venable. He forced affidavits from those bewildered
gentlemen, the entire correspondence was published, and the pamphlet
itself was a masterpiece of biting sarcasm and convincing statement. It
made a tremendous sensation, but even his enemies admired his courage.
The question of his financial probity was settled for all time, although
the missile, failing in one direction, quivered in the horrified brains
of many puritanical voters. Mrs. Reynolds, now living with Clingman,
made no denial, and it is doubtful if even she would have echoed the one
animadversion of the discomfited enemy,--that Hamilton had given the
name of a mistress to the public. It is a weak and dangerous
sentimentalism which would protect a woman of commerce against the good
name of any man. The financial settlement makes her a party in a
contract, nothing more, and acquits the payer of all further
responsibility. She has no good name to protect; she has asked for
nothing but money; she is a public character, whom to shield would be a
thankless task. When this Reynolds woman added the abomination of
blackmail to her trade, and further attempted the ruin of the man who
had shown her nothing but generosity and consideration, it need hardly
be added that Hamilton would have been a sentimental fool to have
hesitated on any ground but detestation of a public scandal.

He never traced the betrayal of a secret which all concerned had
promised to keep inviolate, but he had his suspicions. Mrs. Croix, now
living in a large house on the Bowling Green, was the animated and
resourceful centre of Jacobinism. She wore a red cap to the theatre and
a tri-coloured cockade on the street. Her _salon_ was the headquarters
of the Republican leaders, and many a plot was hatched in her inspiring
presence. The Virginian Junta were far too clever to put themselves in
the power of a drunkard like Callender, but they were constantly in
collusion with Mrs. Croix. They knew that she feared nothing under
heaven, and that she had devoted herself to Hamilton's ruin. Callender
drew upon her for virus whenever his own supply ran down, and would
have hailed the Reynolds concoction, even had it gone to him naked and
begging. Hamilton saw the shadow of a fair hand throughout the entire
pamphlet, and, indeed, could have traced many an envenomed shaft, since
1793, to a source which once had threatened to cloy him with its

Meanwhile John Adams had been elected President of the United States,
and Thomas Jefferson, Vice-President. Hamilton had made no secret of the
fact that he should prefer to see Thomas Pinckney succeed Washington,
for he contemplated the possibility of Adams in the Executive Chair,
with distrust and uneasiness. In spite of that eminent statesman's
intrepidity, integrity, and loyal Federalism, he was, in Hamilton's
opinion, too suspicious, jealous of influence, and hot headed, to be a
safe leader in approaching storms. With Pinckney as a brilliant and
popular figurehead, Hamilton well knew that his own hand would remain on
the helm. With the irascible old gentleman from Massachusetts in the
Chair, his continued predominance was by no means certain. Washington
once said of Hamilton that he undoubtedly was ambitious, but that his
ambition was of that laudable kind which prompts a man to excel in
whatever he takes in hand; adding that his judgement was intuitively
great. The truth was that Hamilton regarded the United States as his
child. He had made her wealthy and respected, he foresaw a future
importance for her equal to that of any state in Europe. "I anticipate,"
he wrote to Rufus King, "that this country will, ere long, assume an
attitude correspondent with its great destinies--majestic, efficient,
and operative of great things. A noble career lies before it." The first
of the "Imperialists," he had striven for years to awaken the Government
to the importance of obtaining possession of Louisiana and the Floridas,
and he also had his eye on South America. Naturally, he wanted no
interruption; the moment the security of the country was threatened, he
was as alert and anxious as if his nursery were menaced with an Indian
invasion. Without conceit or vanity no man ever was more conscious of
his great powers; moreover, no American had made such sacrifices as he.
Washington and almost all the leading men possessed independent
fortunes. Hamilton had manifested his ability from the first to equal
the income of the wealthiest, did he give his unbroken services to the
pursuit of his profession. But he had lived for years upon a pittance,
frequently driven to borrow small sums from his friends, that he might
devote his energies entirely to his country. And no man ever gave more
generously or with less thought of reward; although he would have been
the last to deny his enjoyment of power. For a born leader of men to
care little whether he had a few trusted friends or an army at his back,
would merely indicate a weak spot in his brain.

It was quite natural, therefore, that he thought upon John Adams's
idiosyncrasies with considerable disquiet. Nevertheless, with the high
priest of Jacobinism in the field, his first object was to secure the
office for the Federalist party. The race was too close for serious
consideration of any other ultimate. He counselled every Federalist to
cast his vote for Adams and Pinckney; better a tie, with the victory to
Adams, than Thomas Jefferson at the head of the Nation. Of course there
was a hope that Pinckney might carry the South. But the Adams
enthusiasts dreaded this very issue, and threw away their votes for the
Vice-Presidency. Pinckney's followers in the South pursued the same
policy. The consequence was that Adams won by three votes only. Again
his pride was bruised, and again he attributed his mortification to
Hamilton. If he had disliked him before, his dislike in a constant state
of irritation through the ascendency and fame of the younger man, he
hated him now with a bitterness which formed a dangerous link between
himself and the Republican leaders. The time came when he was ready to
humiliate his country and ruin his own chance of reelection, to dethrone
his rival from another proud eminence and check his upward course.
Another source of bitterness was Hamilton's continued leadership of the
Federalist party, when himself, as President, was entitled to that
distinction. But that party was Hamilton's; he had created, developed
it, been its Captain through all its triumphant course. Even had he
been content to resign his commission,--which he did not contemplate for
a moment,--the great majority of the Federalists would have forced it
into his hand again. Adams declared war. Hamilton, always ready for a
fight, when no immediate act of statesmanship was involved, took up the
gauntlet. Adams might resist his influence, but the Cabinet was his, and
so were some of the most influential members of Congress, including
Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts, the president pro tem. of the
Senate. It was some time before Adams realized the full extent of this
influence; but when he did discover that his Secretary of State, Timothy
Pickering, his Secretary of the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott, and his
Secretary of War, James M'Henry, were in the habit of consulting
Hamilton upon every possible question before giving the President their
valuable opinions, and that upon one occasion, at least, a letter of
Hamilton's had been incorporated by the Secretary of War into a
Presidential Message, he was like to die of apoplexy. He wrote, in his

     Hamilton is commander-in-chief of the Senate, of the House of
     Representatives, of the heads of departments, of General
     Washington, and last, and least, if you will, of the President of
     the United States!

But the President's advisers were free to seek advice without the
Cabinet if they chose, and Washington had encouraged them to go to
Hamilton. Hamilton was at liberty to give it, and Adams could find no
evidence that he had counselled rebellion against himself; nor that he
had used his great influence for any purpose but the honour of the

And never had the country needed his services more. When Adams, grim and
obstinate, stepped forward as head of the Nation, he found himself
confronted with the menace of France. In retaliation for Genet's
disgrace, the Revolutionists had demanded the recall of Gouverneur
Morris, whose barely disguised contempt, and protection of more than one
royalist, had brought him perilously near to the guillotine. Burr had
desired the vacant mission, and his pretensions were urged by Monroe and
Madison. Washington recognized this as a device of the Opposition to
embarrass him, and he had the lowest opinion of Burr's rectitude and
integrity. Pressure and wrath produced no effect, but he offered to
appoint Monroe. It might be wise to send a Jacobin, and the President
hoped that ambition would preserve this one from compromising the
country. He made the mistake of not weighing Monroe's mental capacity
more studiously. The least said of the wild gallop into diplomacy of our
fifth President the better. He was recalled, and Charles Cotesworth
Pinckney sent in his place. The French, who had found Monroe entirely to
their taste, refused to receive the distinguished lawyer and soldier. To
escape indignity he was forced to retire to Holland. The new Republic
violated her treaties with increasing insolence, and Bonaparte was
thundering on his triumphant course. France was mocking the world, and
in no humour to listen to the indignant protests of a young and distant
nation. To dismember her by fanning the spirit of Jacobinism, and, at
the ripe moment,--when internal warfare had sufficiently weakened
her,--reduce her to a French colony, was a plot of which Hamilton, Rufus
King, then minister to England, and other astute statesmen more than
suspected her. But although Hamilton abhorred France and was outraged at
her attitude, the spirit of moderation which had regulated all his acts
in public life suffered no fluctuation, and he immediately counselled
the sending of a commission to make a final attempt before recourse to
arms. War, if inevitable, but peace with honour if possible; it was not
fair to disturb the prosperity of the young country except as a last
resort. For once he and Adams were agreed. Hamilton suggested Jefferson
or Madison as a sop to the Revolutionists, with two Federalists to keep
him in order. But the President would have his own commissioners or
none. He despatched Marshall and Gerry and ordered C.C. Pinckney to join
them. Talleyrand refused them official reception, and sent to them, in
secret, nameless minions--known officially, later on, as X.Y.Z.--who
made shameful proposals, largely consisting of inordinate demand for
tribute. Marshall and Pinckney threw up the commission in disgust. The
Opposition in Congress demanded the correspondence; and Adams, with his
grimmest smile, sent it to the Senate. It was a terrible blow to the
Jacobins, not only the manner in which France had prejudiced her
interests in this country; some of the disclosures were extremely
painful to ponder upon. "Perhaps," one of the backstairs ambassadors had
remarked, "you believe that, in returning and exposing to your
countrymen the unreasonableness of the demands of this Government, you
will unite them in resistance to those demands. You are mistaken. You
ought to know that the diplomatic skill of France, and the means she
possesses in your country, are sufficient to enable her, with _the
French party in America_, to throw the blame, which will attend the
rupture, on the Federalists, as you term yourselves, but the British
party, as France terms you; and you may assure yourselves this will be
done." Jefferson retired to weep alone. Several of the faction resigned
from Congress. Hamilton published his pamphlets, "The Stand," "France,"
and "The Answer," and the whole country burst into a roar of vengeance,
echoing Pinckney's parting shot: "Millions for defence, not a cent for
tribute!" "Hail Columbia" was composed, and inflamed the popular
excitement. Federalist clubs paraded, wearing a black cockade, and one
street riot followed another. Brockholst Livingston had his nose pulled,
and killed his man. With the exception of the extreme Jacobins, who
never swerved from their devotion to France and the principles she had
promulgated with the guillotine, the country was for war to a man, and
the President inundated with letters and memorials of encouragement. The
immediate result was the augmentation of the Federalist party, and the
decline of Jacobinism.

For a long while past, Hamilton had been urging naval and military
preparations. A bold front, he thought, would be more effective than
diplomacy; and the sequel proved his wisdom. When the crisis came a bill
for a Provisional Army was passed at once, another for the increase of
the Navy, and liberal appropriations were made. The proposed alliance
with Great Britain, Hamilton effectually opposed, for he was almost as
exasperated with England as with France; in her fear that the French
party in the United States would triumph and declare war upon her, she
had renewed her depredations upon our commerce.

Few believed that Washington would serve again, and the Nation turned
naturally to Hamilton as its General-in-chief. He had manifestly been
born to extricate them from difficulties. Even the Presidential faction
put their pride in their pockets, and agreed that he was the one man in
the country of matchless resource and military genius; they passed over
the veterans of the war without controversy. But there was one man who
never put his pride in his pocket, and that was John Adams. Rather than
present to Alexander Hamilton another opportunity for distinction and
power, he would himself cull fresh laurels for George Washington; the
supply of his old rival was now so abundant that new ones would add
nothing. Hamilton already had written to Washington as peremptorily as
only he dared, urging that he must come forth once more and without
hesitation. Washington replied that he would as cheerfully go to the
tombs of his ancestors, but admitted the obligation, and asked Hamilton
would he serve with him? Hamilton answered that he would on condition
that he be second in command to himself; he would make no further
sacrifice for an inconsiderable reward. When Washington, therefore,
received Adams's invitation, he made his acceptance conditional upon
being given the power to appoint his generals next in rank. Adams,
meanwhile, without waiting for his answer, had sent his name to the
Senate, and it had been confirmed as a matter of course. Washington was
irritated, but persisted in his condition, and sent in the names of
Alexander Hamilton for Inspector-General, with the rank of
Major-General, C.C. Pinckney and Knox for Major-Generals, and a list of
Brigadiers and Adjutant-Generals. Adams, fuming, sent the names to the
Senate, and they were confirmed in the order in which Washington had
written them; but when they came back, jealousy and temper mastered him,
and he committed the intemperate act which tolled the death-knell of the
Federalist party: he ordered the commissions made out with Hamilton's
name third on the list. Knox and Pinckney, he declared, were entitled to
precedence; and so the order should stand or not at all. He had not
anticipated an outcry, and when it arose, angry and determined, he was
startled but unshaken. The leading men in Congress waited upon him; he
received a new deluge of letters, and the most pointed of them was from
John Jay. Hamilton alone held his peace. He saw the terrible mistake
Adams had made, and dreaded the result. He wrote to Washington that he
should be governed entirely by his wishes, that he should not embarrass
him in any manner, and that it never should be said of himself that his
ambition or interest had stood in the way of the public welfare. But
when Adams stood with his head down, like an angry bull, and it was
plain to be seen that his astonishing attitude was prompted by personal
hatred alone, when the Cabinet and all the eminent men in the Nation,
with the exception of the Republican leaders, faced him with an equally
determined front, there was nothing for Hamilton to do but to stand his
ground; and he stood it. Washington put an end to the unfortunate
controversy. He gave Adams his choice between submission or the
selection of another General-in-chief. Adams submitted, but Hamilton had
in him an enemy no less malignant than Thomas Jefferson himself. Adams
had roused the deep implacability of Hamilton's nature. All hope of even
an armed truce for party advantage between the two great Federalists was
over. Hamilton had one cause for resentment which alone would have made
him ardently desire retaliation: General Knox, who had loved him
devotedly for twenty years, was bitterly alienated, and the breach was
never healed.

Hamilton made his headquarters in New York, where he could, after a
fashion, attend to his law practice,--he was now the leading counsel at
the bar,--but he entered upon his new duties with all his old spirit and
passionate energy. Although France might be discomfited by the readiness
and resource of the United States, the imposing front erected by a
universal indignation, there were reasons which made the reverse
possible; and Hamilton thrilled with all the military ardours of his
youth at the prospect of realizing those half-forgotten ambitions. He
had, in those days, sacrificed his burning desire for action and glory
to a sense of duty which had ruled him through life like a tyrannical
deity. Was he to reap the reward at this late hour? finish his life,
perhaps, as he had planned to begin it? Once more he felt a boundless
gratitude for the best friend a mortal ever made. Washington passed
Hamilton over the heads of those superior in military rank, because he
knew that he alone was equal to the great task for which himself was too
old and infirm; but Hamilton never doubted that he did it with a deep
sense of satisfied justice and of gratitude.

Never had Hamilton's conspicuous talent for detail, unlimited capacity
for work, genius for creating something out of nothing, marshalled for
more active service than now. He withheld his personal supervision from
nothing; planning forts, preparing codes of tactics, organizing a
commissariat department, drafting bills for Congress, advising M'Henry
upon every point which puzzled that unfinished statesman, were but a few
of the exercises demanded of the organizer of an army from raw material.
The legislation upon one of his bills finally matured a pet project of
many years, the Military Academy at West Point. Philip Church, the
oldest son of Angelica Schuyler, was his aide; John Church, after a
brilliant career as a member of Parliament, having returned to American
citizenship, his wife to as powerful a position as she had held in

It is hardly necessary to inform any one who has followed the fortunes
of Hamilton as far as this that he purposed to command an army of
aggression as well as defence. A war with France unrolled infinite
possibilities. Louisiana and the Floridas should be seized as soon as
war was declared, and he lent a kindly ear to Miranda, who was for
overthrowing the inhuman rule of Spain in South America. "To arrest the
progress of the revolutionary doctrines France was then propagating in
those regions, and to unite the American hemisphere in one great
society of common interests and common principles against the
corruption, the vices, the new theories of Europe," was an alluring
prospect to a man who had given the broadest possible interpretation to
the Constitution, and whose every conception had borne the stamp of an
imperialistic boldness and amplitude.

But these last of his dreams ended in national humiliation. This time he
had sacrificed his private interests, his vital forces, for worse than
nothing. One enemy worked his own ruin, and Louisiana was to add to the
laurels of Jefferson.

Talleyrand, astonished and irritated by these warlike preparations and
the enthusiasm of the infant country, wisely determined to withdraw with
grace while there was yet time. He sent a circuitous hint to President
Adams that an envoy from the United States would be received with proper
respect. For months Adams had been tormented with the vision of Hamilton
borne on the shoulders of a triumphant army straight to the Presidential
chair. His Cabinet were bitterly and uncompromisingly for war; Hamilton
had with difficulty restrained them in the past. Adams, without giving
them an inkling of his intention, sent to the Senate the name of William
Vans Murray, minister resident at The Hague, to confirm as envoy
extraordinary to France.

For a moment the country was stupefied, so firm and uncompromising had
been the President's attitude hitherto. Then it arose in wrath, and his
popularity was gone for ever. As for the Federalist party, it divided
into two hostile factions, and neither had ever faced the Republicans
more bitterly. A third of the party supported the President; the rest
were for defeating him in the Senate, and humiliating him in every
possible way, as he had humiliated the country by kissing the
contemptuous hand of France the moment it was half extended.

Hamilton was furious. He had been in mighty tempers in his life, but
this undignified and mortifying act of the President strained his
statesmanship to the utmost. It stood the strain, however; he warned
the Federalist leaders that the step taken was beyond recall and known
to all the world. There was nothing to do but to support the President.
He still had an opportunity for revenge while openly protecting the
honour of the Nation. Did Murray, a man of insufficient calibre and
prestige, go alone, he must fail; Adams would be disgraced; war
inevitable, with glory, and greater glory, for himself. But when
circumstances commanded his statesmanship, he ceased to be an
individual; personal resentments slumbered. He insisted that Murray be
but one of a commission, and Adams, now cooled and as disquieted as that
indomitable spirit could be, saw the wisdom of the advice; Oliver
Ellsworth and General Davie, conspicuous and influential men, were
despatched. Once more Hamilton had saved his party from immediate wreck;
but the strength which it had gathered during the war fever was
dissipated by the hostile camps into which it was divided, and by the
matchless opportunity which, in its brief period of numerical strength,
it had given to Thomas Jefferson.

The Federalist party had ruled the country by virtue of the
preponderance of intellect and educated talents in its ranks, and the
masterly leadership of Alexander Hamilton. The Republican party numbered
few men of first-rate talents, but the upper grade of the Federalist was
set thick with distinguished patriots, all of them leaders, but all
deferring without question to the genius of their Captain. For years the
harmonious workings of their system, allied to the aggregate ability of
their personnel, and the watchful eye and resourceful mind of Hamilton,
the silent but sympathetic figure of Washington in the background, had
enabled them to win every hard-fought battle in spite of the often
superior numbers of the Opposition. That Jefferson was able in the face
of this victorious and discouraging army to form a great party out of
the rag-tag and bobtail element, animating his policy of
decentralization into a virile and indelible Americanism, proved him to
be a man of genius. History shows us few men so contemptible in
character, so low in tone; and no man has given his biographers so
difficult a task. But those who despise him most who oppose the most
determined front to the ultimates of his work, must acknowledge that
formational quality in his often dubious intellect which ranks him a man
of genius.

His party was threatened with disorganization when the shameful conduct
of the France he adored united the country in a demand for vengeance,
and in admiration for the uncompromising attitude of the Government. Not
until the Federalists, carried away by the rapid recruiting to their
ranks, passed the Alien and Sedition laws, did Jefferson find ammunition
for his next campaign. As one reads those Resolutions to-day, one
wonders at the indiscretion of men who had kept the blood out of their
heads during so many precarious years. Three-quarters of a century later
the Chinese Exclusion Act became a law with insignificant protest; the
mistake of the Federalists lay in ignoring the fears and raging
jealousies of their time. If Hamilton realized at once that Jefferson
would be quick to seize upon their apparent unconstitutionality and
convert it into political capital, he seems to have stood alone,
although his protests resulted in the modification of both bills.

     Let us not establish a tyranny! [he wrote to Wolcott]. Energy is a
     very different thing from violence. If we make no false step we
     shall be essentially united; but if we push things to an extreme,
     we shall then give to faction body and solidity.

In their modified form they were sufficiently menacing to democratic
ideals, and Jefferson could have asked for nothing better. He
immediately drafted his famous Kentucky Resolutions, and the obedient
Madison did a like service for Virginia. The Resolutions of Madison,
although containing all the seeds of nullification and secession, are
tame indeed compared with the performance of a man who, enveloped in the
friendly mists of anonymity, was as aggressive and valiant as Hamilton
on the warpath. These Resolutions protested against the
unconstitutionality of the Federal Government in exiling foreigners, and
curbing the liberty of the press, in arrogating to itself the rights of
the States, and assuming the prerogatives of an absolute monarchy. If
Jefferson did not advise nullification, he informed the States of their
inalienable rights, and counselled them to resist the centralizing
tendency of the Federal Government before it was too late. Even in the
somewhat modified form in which these Resolutions passed the Kentucky
legislature, and although rejected by the States to which they were
despatched, they created a sensation and accomplished their primary
object. The war excitement had threatened to shove the Alien and
Sedition laws beyond the range of the public observation. The Kentucky
and Virginia Resolutions roused the country, and sent the Republicans
scampering back to their watchful shepherd. It is one of the
master-strokes of political history, and Jefferson culled the fruits and
suffered none of the odium. That these historic Resolutions contained
the fecundating germs of the Civil War, is by the way.

Such was the situation on the eve of 1800, the eve of a Presidential
election, and of the death struggle of the two great parties.

It was in December of this year of 1799 that Hamilton bent under the
most crushing blow that life had dealt him. He was standing on the
street talking to Sedgwick, when a mounted courier dashed by, crying
that Washington was dead. The street was crowded, but Hamilton broke
down and wept bitterly. "America has lost her saviour," he said; "I, a




The sunlight moved along the table and danced on Hamilton's papers,
flecking them and slanting into his eyes. He went to the window to draw
the shade, and stood laughing, forgetting the grave anxieties which
animated his pen this morning. In the garden without, his son Alexander
and young Philip Schuyler, his wife's orphan nephew, who lived with him,
were pounding each other vigorously, while Philip, Angelica, Theodosia
Burr, and Gouverneur Morris sat on the fence and applauded.

"What a blessed provision for letting off steam," he thought, with some
envy. "I would I had Burr in front of my fists this moment. I suppose he
is nothing but the dupe of Jefferson, but he is a terrible menace, all
the same."

The girls saw him, and leaping from the fence ran to the house, followed
more leisurely by Morris.

"You are loitering," exclaimed Angelica, triumphantly, as she entered
the room without ceremony, followed by Theodosia. "And when you loiter
you belong to me."

She had grown tall, and was extremely thin and nervous, moving
incessantly. But her face, whether stormy, dreamy, or animated with the
pleasure of the moment, was very beautiful. Theodosia Burr was a
handsome intellectual girl, with a massive repose; and the two were much
in harmony.

"If I snatch a moment to breathe," Hamilton was beginning, when he
suddenly caught two right hands and spread them open.

"What on earth does this mean?" he demanded. The little paws of the two
most fastidious girls he knew were dyed with ink. Both blushed vividly,
but Angelica flung back her head with her father's own action.

"We are writing a novel," she said.

"You are doing what?" gasped Hamilton.

"Yes, sir. All the girls in New York are. Why shouldn't we? I guess we
inherit brains enough."

"All the girls in New York are writing novels!" exclaimed Hamilton. "Is
this the next result of Jacobinism and unbridled liberty, the next
development of the new Americanism as expounded by Thomas Jefferson?
Good God! What next?"

"You have the prophetic eye," said Morris, who was seated on the edge of
the table, grinning sardonically. (He was bald now, and looked more
wicked than ever.) "What of woman in the future?"

"She has given me sufficient occupation in the present," replied
Hamilton, drily. "Heaven preserve me from the terrors of anticipation."
"Well, finish your novel. If you confine your pens to those subjects of
which you know nothing, you will enjoy yourselves; and happiness should
be sought in all legitimate channels. But as a favour to me, keep your
hands clean."

The girls retired with some hauteur, and Morris said impatiently:--

"I thought I had left that sort of thing behind me in France, where
Madame de Staël drove me mad. I return to find all the prettiest women
running to lectures on subjects which they never can understand, and
scarifying the men's nerves with pedantic allusions. I always believed
that our women were the brightest on the planet, but that they should
ever have the bad taste to become intellectual--well, I have known but
one woman who could do it successfully, and that is Mrs. Croix. What has
she to do with this sudden activity of Burr's? Is he handling French

"Are you convinced that she is a French spy?"

"I believe it so firmly that her sudden departure would reconcile me to
the Alien law. Where has Burr found the money for this campaign? He is
bankrupt; he hasn't a friend among the leaders; I don't believe the
Manhattan Bank, for all that he is the father of it, will let him
handle a cent, and Jefferson distrusts and despises him. Still, it is
just possible that Jefferson is using him, knowing that the result of
the Presidential election will turn on New York, and that after himself
Burr is the best politician in the country. I doubt if he would trust
him with a cent of his own money, but he may have an understanding with
the Aspasia of Bowling Green. Certainly she must have the full
confidence of France by this time, and she is the cleverest Jacobin in
the country."

"I wish that dark system could be extirpated, root and branch," said
Hamilton. "I have been too occupied these past two years to watch her,
or Burr either, for that matter. Organizing an army, and working for
your bread in spare moments, gives your enemies a clear field for
operations. I have had enough to do, watching Adams. Burr has stolen a
march that certainly does credit to his cunning. That is the most
marvellous faculty I know. He is barely on speaking terms with a
leader--Jefferson, Clinton, the Livingstons, all turned their backs upon
him long since, as a man neither to be trusted nor used. The fraud by
which he obtained the charter of the Manhattan Bank has alienated so
many of his followers that his entire ticket was beaten at the last
elections. Now he will have himself returned for the Assembly from
Orange, he is manipulating the lower orders of New York as if they were
so much wax, using their secrets, wiping the babies' noses, and hanging
upon the words of every carpenter who wants to talk: and has actually
got Clinton--who has treated him like a dog for years--to let him use
his name as a possible candidate for the Legislature. Doubtless he may
thank Mrs. Croix for that conquest. But his whole work is marvellous,
and I suppose it would be well if we had a man on our side who would
stoop to the same dirty work. I should as soon invite a strumpet to my
house. But I am fearful for the result. With this Legislature we should
be safe. But Burr has converted hundreds, if not thousands, to a party
for which he cares as much as he does for the Federal. If he succeeds,
and the next Legislature is Republican, Jefferson will be the third
President of the Unites States, and then, God knows what. Not immediate
disunion, possibly, for Jefferson is cunning enough to mislead France
for his own purposes; nor can he fail to see that Jacobinism is on the
wane--but a vast harvest of democracy, of disintegration, and
denationalization, which will work the same disaster in the end. If Burr
could be taught that he is being made a tool of, he might desist, for he
would work for no party without hope of reward. He may ruin us and gain

"It is a great pity we have not a few less statesmen in our party and a
few more politicians. When we began life, only great services were
needed; and the Opposition, being engaged in the same battle of ideas,
fought us with a merely inferior variety of our own weapons. But the
greatest of our work is over, and the day of the politician has dawned.
Unfortunately, the party of this damned lag-bellied Virginian has the
monopoly. Burr is the natural result and the proudest sample of the
French Revolution and its spawn. But your personal influence is
tremendous. Who can say how many infuscated minds you will illumine when
it comes to speech-making. Don't set your brow in gloom."

"I have not the slightest intention of despairing. The deep and never
ceasing methods of the Jacobin Scandal Club have weakened my influence
with the masses, however; no doubt of that. Its policy is to iterate and
reiterate, pay no attention to denials, but drop the same poison daily
until denial is forgotten and men's minds are so accustomed to the
detraction, belittling, or accusation, that they accept it as they
accept the facts of existence. Jefferson has pursued this policy with my
reputation for ten years. During the last eight he has been ably abetted
by Mrs. Croix, his other personal agents, and those of France. Now they
have enlisted Burr, and there is no better man for their work in the

"They know that if you go, the party follows. That is their policy, and
may they spend the long evening of time in Hell. But I believe you will
be more than a match for them yet; although this is by far the most
serious move the enemy has made." "I wish to Heaven I had persisted in
the Great Convention until I carried my point in regard to having the
electors chosen by the people in districts. Then I should snap my
fingers at Burr in this campaign, for he is an indifferent speaker, and
political manipulation would count for very little. With C.C. Pinckney
in the chair for eight years, I should feel that the country was planted
on reasonably sure foundations. It must be Adams and Pinckney, of
course, but with proper harmony Pinckney will carry the day. Rather
Jefferson in the chair than Adams--an open army that we can fight with a
united front, than a Federal dividing the ranks, and forcing us to
uphold him for the honour of the party--to say nothing of being
responsible for him."

"Jefferson is the less of several evils--Burr, for instance."

"Oh, Burr!" exclaimed Hamilton. "I should be in my dotage if Burr became
President of the United States. Personally, I have nothing against him,
and he is one of the most agreeable and accomplished of men. Theodosia
half lives here. Perhaps no man ever hated another as I hate Jefferson,
nor had such cause. He has embittered my life and ruined my health; he
has made me feel like a lost soul more than once. But better Jefferson a
thousand times than Burr. God knows I hate democracy and fear it, but
Jefferson is timid and cautious, and has some principles and patriotism;
moreover, a desire for fame. Burr has neither patriotism nor a
principle, nor the least regard for his good name. He is bankrupt,
profligate--he has been living in the greatest extravagance at Richmond
Hill, and his makings at the bar, although large, are far exceeded by
his expenses; there is always a story afloat about some dark transaction
of his, and never disproved: he challenged Church for talking openly
about the story that the Holland Land Company had, for legislative
services rendered, cancelled a bond against him for twenty thousand
dollars; but the world doubts Burr's bluster as it doubts his word. At
present he is in a desperate way because Alexander Baring, in behalf of
a friend, I.I. Augustine, is pressing for payment on a bond given to
secure the price of land bought by Burr and Greenleaf, and he has been
offering worthless land claims in settlement, and resorting to every
artifice to avert a crisis. Baring wanted me to take the case, but of
course I wouldn't touch it. I sent him to Rinnan. The man is literally
at the end of his tether. It is a coup or extinction--failure means
flight or debtor's prison. Furthermore, he is a conspirator by nature,
and there is no man in the country with such extravagant tastes, who is
so unscrupulous as to the means of gratifying them. He is half mad for
power and wealth. The reins of state in his hands, and he would stop at
nothing which might give him control of the United States Treasury. To
be President of the United States would mean nothing to him except as a
highway to empire, to unlimited power and plunder. We have been
threatened with many disasters since we began our career, but with no
such menace as Burr. But unless I die between now and eighteen hundred
and one, Burr will lose the great game, although he may give victory to
the Republican party."

"I am not surprised at your estimate and revelations," said Morris, "for
I have heard much the same from others since my return. It was this
certainty that he is bankrupt that led me to believe he was handling
French money in this election--and he is flinging it right and left in a
manner that must gratify his aspiring soul. Considering his lack of
fortune and family influence, he has done wonders in the way of
elevating himself. This makes it the more remarkable that with his great
cleverness he should not have done better--"

"He is not clever; that is the point. He is cunning. His is wholly the
brain of the conspirator. Were he clever, he would, like Thomas
Jefferson, fool himself and the world into the belief that he is honest.
Intellect and statesmanship he holds in contempt. He would elevate
himself by the Catiline system, by the simple method of proclaiming
himself emperor, and appropriating the moneybags of the country. There
is not one act of statesmanship to his credit. To him alone, of all
prominent Americans, the country is indebted for nothing. The other
night at a dinner, by the way, he toasted first the French Revolution,
then Bonaparte. It is more than possible that you are right, for France,
whether Directory or Consulate, is not likely to change her policy
regarding this country. Nothing would please either Talleyrand or
Bonaparte better than to inflame us into a civil war, then swoop down
upon us, under the pretence of coming to the rescue. Burr would be just
the man to play into their hands, although with no such intention.
Jefferson is quite clever enough to foil them, if he found that more to
his interest. Well, neither is elected yet. Let us hope for the best. Go
and ask Angelica to play for you. I have letters to write to leaders all
over the State."


Burr was the author of municipal corruption in New York, the noble
grandsire of Tammany Hall. While Hamilton was too absorbed to watch him,
he had divided New York, now a city of sixty thousand inhabitants, into
districts and sections. Under his systematic management the name of
every resident was enrolled, and his politics ascertained. Then Burr and
his committees or sub-committees laid siege to the individual.
Insignificant men were given place, and young fire-eaters, furious with
Adams, were swept in. Hundreds of doubtful men were dined and wined at
Richmond Hill, flattered, fascinated, conquered. Burr knew the private
history, the income, of every man he purposed to convert, and made
dexterous use of his information. He terrified some with his knowledge,
fawned upon others, exempted the stingy from contributions provided he
would work, and the lazy from work provided he would pay. It is even
asserted that he blackmailed the women who had trusted him on paper, and
forced them to wring votes from their men. He drafted a catalogue of
names for the electoral Legislature, calculated to impose the hesitant,
who were not permitted to observe that he smarted and snarled under many
a kick. Strong names were essential if the Republicans were to wrest
New York from the Federals after twelve years of unbroken rule, but
strong men had long since ceased to have aught to do with Burr; although
Jefferson, as Hamilton suspected, had recently extended his politic paw.
But in spite of snubs, curt dismissals, and reiterated intimations that
his exertions were wasting, Burr did at last, by dint of flattery,
working upon the weak points of the men he thoroughly understood,
convincing them that victory lay in his hands and no other,--some of
them that he was working in harmony with Jefferson,--induce Clinton,
Brockholst Livingston, General Gates,--each representing a different
faction,--and nine other men of little less importance, to compose the
city ticket. All manner of Republicans were pleased, and many
discontented Federalists. Burr, knowing that his own election in New
York was hopeless, was a candidate for the Assembly in the obscure
county of Orange; and the Legislature which would elect the next
President was threatened with a Republican majority, which alarmed the
Federalist party from one end of the Union to the other.

Hamilton had never been more alert. The moment he was awake to the
danger his mind closed to every other demand upon it, and he flung
himself into the thick of the fight. He would have none of Burr's
methods, but he spoke daily, upon every least occasion, and was ready to
consult at all hours with the distracted leaders of his party. Morris,
Troup, Fish, and other Federalists, accustomed to handling the masses,
also spoke repeatedly. But Adams had given the party a terrible blow,
scattering many of its voters far and wide. They felt that the country
had been humiliated, that it was unsafe in the hands of a man who was
too obstinate to be advised, and too jealous to control his personal
hatreds for the good of the Union; the portent of tyranny in the Alien
and Sedition laws had terrified many, and the promises of the
Republicans were very alluring. The prospect of a greater equality, of a
universal plebeianism, turned the heads of the shopkeepers, mechanics,
and labouring men, who had voted hitherto with the Federalist party
through admiration of its leaders and their great achievements. In vain
Hamilton reminded them of all they owed to the Federalists: the
Constitution, the prosperity, the _peace_. He was in the ironical
position of defending John Adams. They had made up their minds before
they went to hear him speak, and they went because to hear him was a
pleasure they never missed. Upon one occasion a man rushed from the
room, crying, "Let me out! Let me out! That man will make me believe
anything." Frequently Hamilton and Burr spoke on the same platform, and
they were so polite to each other that the audience opened their mouths
and wondered at the curious ways of the aristocracy. It was a period of
great excitement. Men knocked each other down daily, noses were
pulled,--a favourite insult of our ancestors,--and more than one duel
was fought in the woods of Weehawken.

The elections began early on the 29th of April and finished at sunset on
May 2d. Hamilton and Burr constantly addressed large assemblages. On the
first day Hamilton rode up to the poll in his district to vote, and was
immediately surrounded by a vociferating crowd. Scurrilous handbills
were thrust in his face, and his terrified horse reared before a hundred
threatening fists. A big carter forced his way to its side and begged
Hamilton to leave, assuring him there was danger of personal violence,
and that the men were particularly incensed at his aristocratic manner
of approaching the polls.

"Thank you," said Hamilton, "but I have as good a right to vote as any
man, and I shall do it in the mode most agreeable to myself."

"Very well, General," said the carter. "I differ with you in politics,
but I'll stick by you as long as there is a drop of blood in my body."

Hamilton turned to him with that illumination of feature which was not
the least of his gifts, then to the mob with the same smile, and lifted
his hat above a profound bow. "I never turned my back upon my enemy," he
said, "I certainly shall not flee from those who have always been my

The crowd burst into an electrified roar. "Three cheers for General
Hamilton!" cried the carter, promptly, and they responded as one man.
Then they lifted him from his horse and bore him on their shoulders to
the poll. He deposited his ballot, and after addressing them to the
sound of incessant cheering, was permitted to ride away. The incident
both amused and disgusted him, but he needed no further illustrations of
the instability of the common mind.

The Republicans won. On the night of the 2d it was known that the
Federalists had lost the city by a Republican majority of four hundred
and ninety votes.

A few weeks before, when uncertainties were thickest, Hamilton had
written to William Smith, who was departing for Constantinople: "... You
see I am in a humour to laugh. What can we do better in _this best of
all possible worlds?_ Should you ever be shut up in the seven towers, or
get the plague, if you are a true philosopher you will consider this
only as a laughing matter."

He laughed--though not with the gaiety of his youth--as he walked home
to-night through the drunken yelling crowds of William Street, more than
one fist thrust in his face. His son Philip was with him, and his
cousin, Robert Hamilton of Grange, who had come over two years before to
enlist under the command of the American relative of whom his family
were vastly proud. A berth had been found for him in the navy, as better
suited to his talents, and he spent his leisure at 26 Broadway. Both the
younger men looked crestfallen and anxious. Philip, who resembled his
father so closely that Morris called him "his heir indubitate," looked,
at the moment, the older of the two. Ill health had routed the robust
appearance of Hamilton's early maturity, and his slender form, which had
lost none of its activity or command, his thin face, mobile, piercing,
fiery, as ever, made him appear many years younger than his age.

"Why do you laugh, sir?" asked Philip, as they turned into Wall Street,
"I feel as if the end of the world had come."

"That is the time to laugh, my dear boy. When you see the world you have
educated scampering off through space, the retreat led by the greatest
rascal in the country, your humour, if you have any, is bound to
respond. Moreover, there is always something humorous in one's downfall,
and a certain relief. The worst is over."

"But, Cousin Alexander," said Robert Hamilton, "surely this is not
ultimate defeat for you? You will not give up the fight after the first

"Oh, no! not I!" cried Hamilton. "I shall fight on until I have made
Thomas Jefferson President of the United States. Should I not laugh? Was
any man ever in so ironical a situation before? I shall move heaven and
America to put Pinckney in the chair, and I shall fail; and to save the
United States from Burr I shall turn over the country I have made to my
bitterest enemy."

"That would not be my way of doing, sir," said Robert. "I'd fight the
rival chieftain to his death. Perhaps this Burr is not so real a
Catiline as you think him. Nobody has a good word for him, but I mean he
may not have the courage for so dangerous an act as usurpation."

"Courage is just the one estimable if misdirected quality possessed by
Burr, and, whetted by his desperate plight, no length would daunt him. A
year or two ago he hinted to me that I had thrown away my opportunities.
Pressed, he admitted that I was a fool not to have changed the
government when I could. When I reminded him that I could only have done
such a thing by turning traitor, he replied, 'Les grands âmes se
soucient peu des petits moraux.' It was not worth while to reason with a
man who had neither little morals nor great ones, so I merely replied
that from the genius and situation of the country the thing was
impracticable; and he answered, 'That depends on the estimate we form of
the human passions, and of the means of influencing them.' Burr would
neither regard a scheme of usurpation as visionary,--he is sanguine and
visionary to a degree that will be his ruin,--nor be restrained by any
reluctance to occupy an infamous place in history."

They had reached his doorstep in the Broadway. The house was lighted.
Through the open windows of the drawing-room poured a musical torrent.
Angelica, although but sixteen, shook life and soul from the cold keys
of the piano, and was already ambitious to win fame as a composer.
To-night she was playing extemporaneously, and Hamilton caught his
breath. In the music was the thunder of the hurricane he so often had
described to his children, the piercing rattle of the giant castinets
[sic], the roar and crash of artillery, the screaming of the trees, the
furious rush of the rain. Robert Hamilton thought it was a battlepiece,
but involuntarily he lifted his hat. As the wonderful music finished
with the distant roar of the storm's last revolutions, Hamilton turned
to his cousin with the cynicism gone from his face and his eyes
sparkling with pride and happiness.

"What do I care for Burr?" he exclaimed. "Or for Jefferson? Has any man
ever had a home, a family, like mine? Let them do their worst. Beyond
that door they cannot go."

"Burr can put a bullet into you, sir," said Robert Hamilton, soberly.
"And he is just the man to do it. Jefferson is too great a coward. For
God's sake be warned in time."

Hamilton laughed and ran up the stoop. His wife was in the drawing-room
with Angelica, who was white and excited after the fever of composition.
Mrs. Hamilton, too, was pale, for she had heard the news. But mettle had
been bred in her, and her spirits never dropped before public
misfortune. She had altered little in the last seven years. In spite of
her seven children her figure was as slim as in her girlhood, her hair
was as black, her skin retained its old union of amber and claret. The
lingering girlishness in her face had departed after a memorable
occasion, but her prettiness had gained in intellect and character;
piquant and roguish, at times, as it still was. It was seven years since
she had applied her clever brain to politics and public affairs
generally--finance excepting--and with such unwearied persistence that
Hamilton had never had another excuse to seek companionship elsewhere.
Moreover, she had returned to her former care of his papers, she
encouraged him to read to her whatever he wrote, and was necessary to
him in all ways. She loved him to the point of idolatry, but she kept
her eye on him, nevertheless, and he wandered no more. When he could not
accompany her to Saratoga in summer, she sent the children with one of
her sisters, and remained with him, no matter what the temperature, or
the age of a baby. But she made herself so charming that if he suspected
the surveillance he was indifferent, and grateful for her companionship
and the intelligent quality of her sympathy. Elizabeth Hamilton never
was a brilliant woman, but she became a remarkably strong-minded and
sensible one. Femininely she was always adorable. Although relieved of
the heavier social duties since the resignation from the Cabinet,
Hamilton's fame and the popularity of both forced them into a prominent
position in New York society. They entertained constantly at dinner, and
during the past seven years many distinguished men besides Talleyrand
had sat at their hospitable board: Louis Philippe d'Orleans,--supported
for several years by Gouverneur Morris,--the Duc de Montpensier, the
Duke of Kent, John Singleton Copley, subsequently, so eminent as jurist
and statesman, Kosciusko, Count Niemcewicz, the novelist, poet,
dramatist, and historian, were but a few. All travellers of distinction
brought letters to Hamilton, for, not excepting Washington, he was to
Europeans the most prosilient of Americans. If there had been little
decrease of hard work during these years, there had been social and
domestic pleasures, and Hamilton could live in the one or the other with
equal thoroughness. He was very proud of his wife's youthful appearance,
and to-night he reproached her for losing so many hours of rest.

"Could anyone sleep in this racket?" she demanded, lightly. "You must be
worn out. Come into the dining room and have supper."

And they all enjoyed their excellent meal of hot oysters, and dismissed
politics until the morrow.


But if Hamilton consigned politics to oblivion at midnight and slept for
the few hours demanded by outraged nature, he plunged from the crystal
of his bath into their reeking blackness early in the morning. He had
laughed the night before, but he was in the worst of tempers as he shut
his study door behind him. For the first time in his life he was on a
battle-ground with no sensation of joy in the coming fight. The business
was too ugly and the prospect was almost certain defeat. Were the first
battle lost, he knew that a sharper engagement would immediately
succeed: his political foresight anticipated the tie, and he alone had a
consummate knowledge of the character of Burr. That the Republicans
would offer Burr the office of Vice-President was as positive as that
Jefferson would be their first and unanimous choice. Clinton and
Chancellor Livingston might be more distinguished men than the little
politician, but the first was in open opposition to Jefferson, and the
second was deaf. Burr's conquest of New York entitled him to reward, and
he would accept it and intrigue with every resource of his cunning and
address for the larger number of votes, regardless of the will of the
people. If the result were a tie, the Federals would incline to anybody
rather than Jefferson, and Hamilton would be obliged to throw into the
scale his great influence as leader of his party for the benefit of the
man he would gladly have attached to a fork and set to toast above the
coals of Hell. He had no score to settle with Burr, but to permit him to
become President of the United States would be a crime for which the
leader of the Federalist party would be held responsible. When the
inevitable moment came he should hand over the structure he had created
to the man who had desired to rend it from gable to foundation; both
because it was the will of the people and because Jefferson was the
safer man of the two.

So far his statesmanship triumphed, as it had done in every crisis which
he had been called upon to manipulate, and as it would in many more.
But for once, and as regarded the first battle, it failed him, and he
made no attempt to invoke it. This was the blackest period of his inner
life, and there were times when he never expected to emerge from its
depths. The threatened loss of the magnificent power he had wielded, the
hatreds that possessed and overwhelmed him, the seeming futility of
almost a lifetime of labour, sacrifices without end and prodigal
dispensing of great gifts, the constant insults of his enemies, and the
public ingratitude, had saturated his spirit with a raging bitterness
and roused the deadliest passions of his nature. The marah he had passed
through while a member of the Cabinet was shallow compared to the depths
in which he almost strangled to-day. Not only was this the final
accumulation, but the inspiring and sustaining affection, the
circumscribing bulwark, of Washington was gone from him. "He was an
Aegis very essential to me," he had said sadly, and he felt his loss
more every day that he lived.

He knew there was just one chance to save the Presidency to the
Federalist party. Did he employ the magic of his pen to recreate the
popularity of John Adams, it was more than possible that thousands would
gladly permit the leader they had followed for years to persuade them
they had judged too hastily the man of whom they had expected too much.
But by this time there was one man Hamilton hated more implacably than
Jefferson, and that was John Adams. Besides the thorough disapproval of
the Administration of Adams, which, as a statesman, he shared with all
the eminent Federals in the country, his personal counts with this enemy
piled to heaven. Adams had severed the party he had created, endeavoured
to humiliate him before the country, refused, after Washington's death,
to elevate him to his rightful position as General-in-chief of the army
he had organized, alienated from him one of the best of his friends, and
primarily was answerable for the crushing defeat of yesterday. With one
of the Pinckneys at the helm, Hamilton could have defied Jefferson and
kept the Democrats out of power; but the man next in eminence to himself
in his own party had given his supremacy its death-blow, and it is
little wonder if his depths resembled boiling pitch, if the heights of
his character had disappeared from his vision. He was, above all things,
intensely human, with all good and all evil in him; and although he
conquered himself at no very remote period, he felt, at the present
moment, like Lucifer whirling through space.

Troup, now a retired judge of the U.S. District Court of New York, and a
man of some fortune, ready as of old to be Hamilton's faithful
lieutenant, entered and looked with sympathy and more apprehension at
his Chief.

"I've not come to bemoan this bad business," he said, sitting down at a
desk and taking up his pen. "What next? It looks hopeless, but of course
you'll no more cease from effort than one of your Scotch ancestors would
have laid down his arms if a rival chieftain had appeared on the warpath
with the world at his back. Is it Adams and C.C.P. to the death?"

"It is Pinckney; Adams only in so far as he is useful. He still has his
following in the New England States. The leaders in those States, first
and second, must be persuaded to work unanimously for Adams and
Pinckney, with the distinct understanding that in other States votes for
Adams will be thrown away. This, after I have persuaded them of Adams's
absolute unfitness for office. If we carry and it comes to a tie, there
is no doubt to whom the House will give the election."

Troup whistled. "This is politics!" he said. "I never believed you'd go
down to your neck. I wish you'd throw the whole thing over, and retire
to private life."

"I shall retire soon enough," said Hamilton, grimly. "But Adams will go

Troup knew that it was useless to remonstrate further. He had followed
this Captain to the bitter end too often. Underneath the immense sanity
of Hamilton's mind was a curious warp of obstinacy, born of
implacability and developed far beyond the normal bounds of
determination. When this almost perverted faculty was in possession of
the brain, Hamilton would pursue his object, did every guardian in his
genius, from foresight to acuteness, rise in warning. His present
policy if a failure might be the death of the Federalist party, but the
flashing presentiment of that historic disaster did not deter him for a

"It is the time for politics," Hamilton continued. "Statesmanship goes
begging. I shall be entirely frank about it, for that matter. There will
be no underhand scheming, Adams is welcome to know every step I take.
The correspondence must begin at once. I'll make out a list for you. I
shall begin with Wolcott."


When the tidings of the New York election reached Philadelphia, the
Federals of the House met in alarmed and hurried conference. In their
desperation they agreed to ask Hamilton to appeal to the Governor of New
York, John Jay, to reconvene the existing legislature that it might
enact a law authorizing in that State the choice of Presidential
electors in districts. Why they did not send a memorial to Jay
themselves, instead of placing Hamilton in a position to incur the full
odium of such a suggestion, can only be explained by the facts that
during the entire span of the party's existence, their leader had
cheerfully assumed the responsibility in every emergency or crisis, and
that if the distinguished formalist in the Executive Mansion of New York
had a weak spot in him, it was for Hamilton.

When Hamilton read this portentous letter, he flushed deeply and then
turned white. The expedient had not occurred to him, but it was too near
of kin to his disapproval of a provision which had delivered the State
into the hands of an industrious rascal, not to strike an immediate
response; especially in his present frame of mind. He was alone with his
wife at the moment, and he handed her the letter. She read it twice,
then laid it on the table. "It savours very much of fraud, to me," she
said. "Why do politics so often go to the head?"

"Sometimes one sort rises as an antidote to another. There comes a time
in human affairs when one is forced into a position of choosing between
two evils; a time when the scruples of delicacy and propriety, as
relative to a common course of things, ought to yield to the
extraordinary nature of the crisis."

"Right is right, and wrong is wrong," said Betsey, with her Dutch
sturdiness. "This measure--were it adopted by Mr. Jay--would merely mean
that the party in power was taking an unconstitutional advantage of its
situation to nullify the victories gained by the other."

"The victories you speak of were won by fraud and every unworthy device.
I am not arguing that, such being the case, we are justified in turning
their weapons upon them, but that for the good of the country the enemy
should be suppressed before they are able to accomplish its
demoralization, if not its ruin. The triumph of Jefferson and
Jacobinism, the flourishing of Democracy upon the ruins of Federalism,
too long a taste of power by the States rights fanatics, means, with the
weak spots in our Constitution, civil war. Burr has sowed the seeds of
municipal corruption, which, if the sower be rewarded by the second
office in the gift of the people, will spread all over the Union. That
many in the ranks of Democracy are in the pay of France, and design the
overthrow of the Government, there is not a shadow of doubt. If
Jefferson should die in office, or a tie, in spite of all I could do,
should give the Presidency to Burr, there is nothing that man's
desperate temper would not drive him to accomplish during the time
remaining to him--for he will never be the first choice of the
Democrats. Therefore, I shall propose this measure to Jay in the course
of the next two or three days, unless upon mature deliberation I alter
my present opinion that the grave crisis in national affairs justifies
it, or I conceive something better."

"You will violate your higher principles," said his wife, who had
matured in a previous era. "And it will be a terrible weapon for your

"I have now reached that happy point where I am entirely indifferent to
the broadsides of my enemies; and I believe that if I conclude to take
this step, my conscience--and history--will justify me." "If you
succeed," said Betsey, shrewdly. "But Mr. Jay is very rigid, and he
lacks your imagination, your terrible gift of seeing the future in a

"It is quite true that I have little hope of persuading Jay; as little
as I have of endowing him with the gift of foresight. But, if I think
best, I shall make the attempt, and whatever the consequences, I shall
not regret it."

Betsey said no more. She knew the exact amount of remonstrance Hamilton
would stand, and she never exceeded it. When his fighting armour was on,
no human being could influence him beyond a certain point, and she was
too wise to risk her happiness. Although he was too careful of her to
let her suspect the hideous conflicts which raged in his soul, she was
fully aware of his bitter obstinacy, and that he was the best hater in
the country. She had many gloomy forebodings, for she anticipated the
terrible strain on what was left of his constitution.

There was one person who, through her inherited intuitions, understood
Hamilton, and that was Angelica. He had kept her at arm's length, great
as the temptation to have a sympathetic confidant had been, particularly
after he had withdrawn from the intimate companionship of Washington;
she was so highly wrought and sensitive, so prone to hysteria, that he
had never yielded for a moment, even when she turned her head slowly
toward him and stared at him with eyes that read his very soul. On the
evening after the elections he had played and sung with her for an hour,
then talked for another with Philip, who was the most promising student
of Columbia College, a youth of fine endowments and elevated character.
He was the pride and delight of Hamilton, who could throttle both
apprehensions and demons while discussing his son's future, and
listening to his college trials and triumphs. Upon this particular
evening Angelica had suddenly burst into tears and left the room. The
next morning Hamilton sent her to Saratoga; and, much as he loved her,
it was with profound relief that he arranged her comfortably on the deck
of the packet-boat.

On the 7th he wrote to the Governor; but, as he had feared, Jay would
take no such audacious leap out of his straight and narrow way. The
letter was published in the _Aurora_ before it reached Albany, and
Hamilton had reason to believe that Burr had a spy in the post-office.

Hamilton executed the orders for disbanding the army, then made a tour
of several of the New England States, holding conferences and speaking
continually. He found the first-class leaders at one with him as to the
danger of entrusting the Executive office to Adams a second time, and
favourably inclined to Pinckney. But the second-rate men of influence
were still enthusiastic for the President, and extolling him for saving
the country from war. Hamilton listened to them with no attempt to
conceal his impatience. He pointed out that if Talleyrand had made up
his mind that it was best to avoid a war, he would have made a second
and regular overture, which could have been accepted without humiliation
to the country, and the severance of the Federalist party.

As if Adams had not done enough to rouse the deadly wrath of Hamilton,
he announced right and left that the Federalist defeat in New York had
been planned by his arch enemy, with the sole purpose of driving himself
from office; that there was a British faction in the country and that
Hamilton was its chief. He drove Pickering and M'Henry from his Cabinet
with contumely, as the only immediate retaliation he could think of, and
Wolcott would have followed, had there been anyone to take his place.
Franklin once said of Adams that he was always honest, sometimes great,
and often mad. Probably so large an amount of truth has never again been
condensed into an epigram. If Adams had not become inflamed with the
ambition that has ruined the lives and characters of so many Americans,
he would have come down to posterity as a great man, with a record of
services to his country which would have scattered his few mistakes into
the unswept corners of oblivion. But autocratic, irritable, and jealous,
all the infirmities of his temper as brittle with years as the
blood-vessels of his brain, the most exacting office in the civilized
world taxed him too heavily. It is interesting to speculate upon what
he might have been in this final trial of his public career, had
Hamilton died as he took the helm of State. If Hamilton's enemies very
nearly ruined his own character, there is no denying that he exerted an
almost malign influence upon them. To those he loved or who appealed to
the highest in him he gave not only strength, but an abundance of
sweetness and light, illuminating mind and spirit, and inspiring an
affection that was both unselfish and uplifting. But his enemies hated
him so frantically that their characters measurably deteriorated; to
ruin or even disconcert him they stooped and intrigued and lied; they
were betrayed into public acts which lowered them in their own eyes and
in those of all students of history. Other hatreds were healthy and
stimulating by comparison; but there is no doubt that Adams, Jefferson,
and Madison fell far lower than they would have done had Hamilton never
shot into the American heavens, holding their fields at his pleasure,
and paling the fires of large and ambitious stars.

The political excitement in the country by this time surpassed every
previous convulsion to such an extent that no man prominent in the
contest could appear on the street without insult. Although he never
knew it, Hamilton, every time he left the house, was shadowed by his son
Philip, Robert Hamilton, Troup, John Church, or Philip Church. For the
Democratic ammunition and public fury alike were centred on Hamilton.
Adams came in for his share, but the Democrats regarded his doom as
sealed, and Hamilton, as ever, the Colossus to be destroyed. The windows
of the bookshops were filled with pamphlets, lampoons, and cartoons. The
changes were rung on the aristocratical temper and the monarchical
designs of the leader of the Federalists, until Hamilton was sick of the
sight of himself with his nose in the air and a crown on his head, his
train borne by Jay, Cabot, Sedgwick, and Bayard. The people were warned
in every issue of the _Aurora, Chronicle_, and other industrious sheets,
that Hamilton was intriguing to drive the Democratic States to
secession, that he might annihilate them at once with his army and his
navy. The Reynolds affair was retold once a week, with degrading
variations, and there was no doubt that spies were nosing the ground in
every direction to obtain evidence of another scandal to vary the
monotony. Mrs. Croix, being Queen of the Jacobins, was safe, so press
and pamphlet indulged in wild generalities of debauchery and rapine. It
must be confessed that Jefferson fared no better in the Federalist
sheets. He was a huge and hideous spider, spinning in a web full of
seduced citizens; he meditated a resort to arms, did he lose the
election. As to his private vices, they saddled him with an entire
harem, and a black one at that.

When Hamilton heard that Adams had asserted that he was the chief of a
British faction, he wrote to the President, demanding an explanation;
and his note had that brief and frigid courtesy which indicated that he
was in his most dangerous temper. Adams ignored it. Hamilton waited a
reasonable time, then wrote again; but Adams was now too infuriated to
care whether or not he committed the unpardonable error of insulting the
most distinguished man in the country. He was in a humour to insult the
shade of Washington, and he delighted in every opportunity to wreak
vengeance on Hamilton, and would have died by his hand rather than
placate him.

Then Hamilton took the step he had meditated for some time past, one
which had received the cordial sanction of Wolcott, and the uneasy and
grudging acquiescence of Cabot, Ames, Carroll of Carrollton, Bayard, and
a few other devoted but conservative supporters. He wrote, for the
benefit of the second-class leaders, who must be persuaded to cast their
votes for Pinckney, to vindicate Pickering and M'Henry, and--it would be
foolish to ignore it--to gratify his deep personal hatred, the pamphlet
called "The Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President
of the United States." His temper did not flash in it for a second. It
was written in his most concise and pointed, his most lucid and classic,
manner; and nothing so damning ever flowed from mortal brain. He set
forth all Adams's virtues and services with judicial impartiality.
There they were for all to read. Let no man forget them. Then he
counterbalanced and overbalanced them by the weaknesses, jealousies, and
other temperamental defects which had arisen in evidence with the
beginnings of the President's public career. He drilled holes in poor
Adams's intellect which proved its unsoundness and its unfitness for
public duty, and he lashed him without mercy for his public mistakes and
for his treatment of his Secretaries and himself. It was a life history
on ivory, and a masterpiece; and there is no friend of Hamilton's who
would not sacrifice the memory of one of his greatest victories for the
privilege of unwriting it.

This was one of his creations that he did not read to his wife, but
Troup was permitted a glance at the manuscript. He dropped it to the
floor, and his face turned white. "Do you intend to publish this thing?"
he demanded. "And with your name signed in full?"

"I intend to print it. I had every intention of scattering it broadcast,
but I have yielded to the dissuasions of men whose opinions I am bound
to respect, and it will go only to them and to the second-class leaders
as yet unconvinced. To their entreaties that I would not sign my name I
have not listened, because such a work, if anonymous, would be both
cowardly and futile. The point is to let those for whom it is intended
know that a person in authority is talking; and anonymous performances
are legitimate only when published and unmistakable, when given in that
form as a concession to the fashion of the age."

Troup groaned. "And if it falls into the enemy's hands?"

"In that case, what a hideous opportunity it would enclose, were it

"Oh, sign it!" said Troup, wildly. He set his heel on the manuscript,
and looked tentatively at Hamilton. He knew the meaning of the
expression he encountered, and removed his heel. It was months since he
had seen the gay sparkle in Hamilton's eyes, humour and sweetness
curving his mouth. When Hamilton's mouth was not as hard as iron, it
relaxed to cynicism or contempt. He was so thin that the prominence of
the long line from ear to chin and of the high hard nose, with its
almost rigid nostrils, would have made him look more old Roman coin than
man, had it not been for eyes like molten steel. "Politics and
ambition!" thought Troup. "What might not the world be without them?"

"Let us change the subject," he said. "I hear that Mrs. Croix makes a
convert an hour from Federalism to Democracy. That is the estimate. And
a small and select band know that she does it in the hope of hastening
your ruin. I must say, Hamilton, that as far as women are concerned, you
are punished far beyond your deserts. There is hardly a man in public
life who has not done as much, or worse, but the world is remarkably
uninterested, and the press finds any other news more thrilling. The
Reynolds woman is probably responsible for many remorseful twinges in
the breasts of eminent patriots, but your name alone is given to the
public. As for Mrs. Croix, I don't suppose that any mere mortal has ever
resisted her, but if any other man has regretted it, history is silent.
What do you suppose is the reason?"

Hamilton would not discuss Mrs. Croix, but he had long since ceased to
waste breath in denial. He made no reply.

"Do you know my theory?" said Troup, turning upon him suddenly. "It is
this. You are so greatly endowed that more is expected of you than of
other men. You were fashioned to make history; to give birth, not for
your own personal good, but for the highest good of a nation, to the
greatest achievement of which the human mind is capable. Therefore, when
you trip and stumble like any fool among us, when you act like a mere
mortal with no gigantic will and intellect to lift him to the heights
and keep him there, some power in the unseen universe is infuriated, and
you pay the price with compound interest. It will be the same with that
thing on the floor. If you could be sure that it would never fall into
the hands of a Jacobin, even then it would be a mistake to print it, for
it is mainly prompted by hatred, and as such is unworthy of you. But if
it finds its way to the public, your punishment will be even in excess
of your fault. For God's sake think it over."

Hamilton made no reply, and in a moment Troup rose. "Very well," he
said, "have your own way and be happy. I'll stand by you if the citadel

Hamilton's eyes softened, and he shook Troup's hands heartily. But as
soon as he was alone, he sent the manuscript to the printer.


M.L. Davis, the authentic biographer of Burr, tells this interesting
anecdote concerning the Adams pamphlet:--'

     Colonel Burr ascertained the contents of this pamphlet, and that it
     was in the press. The immediate publication, he knew, must distract
     the Federal party, and thus promote the Republican cause in those
     States where the elections had not taken place. Arrangements were
     accordingly made for a copy as soon as the printing of it was
     completed; and when obtained, John Swartwout, Robert Swartwout, and
     Matthew L. Davis, by appointment met Colonel Burr at his house. The
     pamphlet was read, and extracts made for the press. They were
     immediately published.

When Hamilton read the voluminous extracts in the marked copies of the
Democratic papers which he found on the table in his chambers in Garden
Street, his first sensation was relief; subterranean methods were little
to his liking. He was deeply uneasy, however, when he reflected upon the
inevitable consequences to his party, and wondered that his imagination
for once had failed him. Everyone who has written with sufficient power
to incite antagonism, knows the apprehensive effect of extracts lifted
maliciously from a carefully wrought whole. Hamilton felt like a
criminal until he plunged into the day's work, when he had no time for
an accounting with his conscience. He was in court all day, and after
the five o'clock dinner at home, returned to his office and worked on an
important brief until eight. Then he paid a short call on a client, and
was returning home through Pearl Street, when he saw Troup bearing down
upon him. This old comrade's face was haggard and set, and his eyes were
almost wild. Hamilton smiled grimly. That expression had stamped the
Federal visage since morning.

Troup reached Hamilton in three strides, and seizing him by the arm,
pointed to the upper story of Fraunces' Tavern. "Alec," he said
hoarsely, "do you remember the vow you made in that room twenty-five
years ago? You have kept it until to-day. There is not an instance in
your previous career where you have sacrificed the country to yourself.
No man in history ever made greater sacrifices, and no man has had a
greater reward in the love and loyalty of the best men in a nation. And
now, to gratify the worst of your passions, you have betrayed your
country into the hands of the basest politicians in it. Moreover, all
your enemies could not drag you down, and no man in history has ever
been assailed by greater phalanxes than you have been. It took
you--yourself--to work your own ruin, to pull your party down on top of
you, and send the country we have all worked so hard for to the devil. I
love you better than anyone on earth, and I'll stick to you till the
bitter end, but I'd have this say if you never spoke to me again."

Hamilton dropped his eyes from the light in the familiar room of
Fraunces' Tavern, but the abyss he seemed to see at his feet was not the
one yawning before his friend's excited imagination. He did not answer
for a moment, and then he almost took away what was left of Troup's

"You are quite right," he said. "And what I have most to be thankful for
in life, is that I have never attracted that refuse of mankind who fawn
and flatter; or have dismissed them in short order," he added, with his
usual regard for facts. "Come and breakfast with me to-morrow. Good

He walked home quickly, told the servant at the door that he was not to
be disturbed, and locked himself in his study. He lit one candle, then
threw himself into his revolving chair, and thought until the lines in
his face deepened to the bone, and only his eyes looked alive. He wasted
no further regrets on the political consequences of his act. What was
done, was done. Nor did he anticipate any such wholesale disaster as had
distracted the Federalists since the morning issues. He knew the force
of habit and the tenacity of men's minds. His followers would be aghast,
harshly critical for a day, then make every excuse that ingenuity could
suggest, unite in his defence, and follow his lead with redoubled
loyality. His foresight had long since leaped to the end of this
conflict, for the Democratic hordes had been augmenting for years; his
own party was hopelessly divided and undermined by systematic slander.
To fight was second nature, no matter how hopeless the battle; but in
those moments of almost terrifying prescience so common to him, he
realized the inevitableness of the end, as history does to-day. His only
chance had been to placate Adams and recreate his enemy's popularity.

The day never came when he was able to say that he might have done this
at the only time when such action would have counted. He had been
inexorable until the pamphlet was flung to the public; and then,
although he was hardly conscious of it at the moment, he was immediately
dispossessed of the intensity of his bitterness toward Adams. The
revenge had been so terrible, so abrupt, that his hatred seemed
disseminating in the stolen leaves fluttering through the city.
Therefore his mind was free for the appalling thought which took
possession of it as Troup poured out his diatribe; and this thought was,
that he was no longer conscious of any greatness in him. Through all the
conflicts, trials, and formidable obstacles of previous years he had
been sustained by his consciousness of superlative gifts combined with
loftiness of purpose. Had not his greatness been dinned into his ears,
he would have been as familiar with it. But he seemed to himself to have
shrivelled, his very soul might have been in ashes--incremated in the
flames of his passions. He had triumphed over every one of his enemies
in turn. Historically he was justified, and had he accomplished the same
end impersonally, they would have been the only sufferers, and in the
just degree. But he had boiled them in the vitriol of his nature; he
had scarred them and warped them and destroyed their self-respect. Had
these raging passions been fed with other vitalities? Had they ravaged
his soul to nourish his demons? Was that his punishment,--an instance of
the inexorable law of give and take?

He recalled the white heat of patriotism with which he had written the
revolutionary papers of his boyhood, the numberless pamphlets which had
finally roused the States to meet in convention and give the wretched
country a Constitutional Government, "_The Federalist_"; which had
spurred him to the great creative acts that must immortalize him in
history. He contrasted that patriotic fire with the spirit in which he
had written the Adams pamphlet. The fire had gone out, and the
precipitation was gall and worm-wood. Even the spirit in which he had
first attacked Jefferson in print was righteous indignation by

Had he hated his soul to cinders? Had the bitterness and the
implacability he had encouraged for so many years bitten their acids
through and through the lofty ideals which once had been the larger part
of himself? Had the angel in him fallen to the bottom of the pit in that
frightful nethermost region of his, for his cynical brain to mock, until
that, too, was in its grave? He thought of the high degree of
self-government, almost the perfection, that Washington had
attained,--one of the most passionate men that had ever lived. Did that
great Chieftain stand alone in the history of souls? He thought of
Laurens, with his early despair that self-conquest seemed impossible.
Would he have conquered, had he lived? What would he or Washington
think, were they present to-night? Would they hate him, or would their
love be proof against even this abasement? He passionately wished they
were there, whether they came to revile or console. Isolated and
terror-stricken, he felt as if thrust for ever from the world of living

His mind had been turned in, every faculty bent introspectively, but for
some moments past his consciousness had vibrated mechanically to an
external influence. It flew open suddenly, as he realized that someone
was watching him, and he wheeled his chair opposite the dusk in the
lower end of the room. For a moment it, seemed to him that every
function in him ceased and was enveloped in ice. A face rested lightly
on the farther end of the long table, the fair hair floating on either
side of it, the eyes fixed upon him with an expression that flashed him
back to St. Croix and the last weeks of his mother's life. He fancied in
that moment that he could even discern the earthen hue of the skin. When
he realized that it was Angelica, he was hardly less startled, but he
found his voice.

"When did you return?" he asked, in as calm a tone as he could command.
"And why did you hide in here?"

"I came down with Grandpa, who made up his mind in a minute