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: Strange Stories from History for Young People
Author: Eggleston, George Cary, 1839-1911
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 "Strange Stories from History for Young People" ***

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


images generously made available by Kentuckiana Digital Library

      Images of the original pages are available through the Kentuckiana
      Digital Library. See




Author of
"Red Eagle," "The Big Brother," "The Wreck of the Red Bird,"
"The Signal Boys," Etc.


New York
Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square

[Illustration: Title Page]


Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth, $1.00 per volume.

  MR. STUBBS'S BROTHER. A sequel to "Toby Tyler." By JAMES OTIS.
  WHO WAS PAUL GRAYSON? By JOHN HABBERTON, Author of "Helen's Babies."

PUBLISHED BY Harper & Brothers, NEW YORK.

_Any of the above works will be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to
any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price._

Copyright, 1885, by HARPER & BROTHERS.


In calling the tales in this volume "Strange Stories" I have sought
simply to indicate that, in the main, they are unfamiliar to youthful
readers, and that most of them relate deeds and occurrences some what
out of the common. In choosing the themes I have tried to avoid the
tales that have been often used, and to tell only those of which young
readers generally have not before heard.

Of course, a book of this kind can make no pretension to originality of
matter, as the facts used in it are to be found in historical works of
recognized authority, though many of them have been drawn from books
that are not easily accessible to the majority of readers. If there is
any originality in my little volume it is in the manner in which the
tales are told. I have endeavored to tell them as simply as possible,
and at the same time with as much dramatic force and fervor as I could
command, while adhering rigidly to the facts of history.

It would be impossible for me to say to what sources I am indebted for
materials. The incidents related have been familiar to me for years, as
they are to all persons whose reading of history has been at all
extensive, and I cannot say with any certainty how much of each I
learned from one and how much from another historical writer. Nor is it
in any way necessary that I should do so, as the recorded facts of
history are common property. But a special acknowledgment is due to Mr.
James Parton in the case of the tale of the Negro Fort, and also for
certain details in those relating to the New Orleans campaign of
1814-15. In that field Mr. Parton is an original investigator, to whose
labors every writer on the subject must be indebted. I wish also to
acknowledge my obligation to Mr. A. B. Meek, the author of a little
work entitled "Romantic Passages in Southwestern History," for the main
facts in the stories of the Charge of the Hounds and the Battle of the
Canoes on the Alabama River; but, with respect to those matters, I have
had the advantage of private sources of information also.

Most of the stories in the volume were originally written for _Harper's
Young People_; one was first published in _Good Cheer_, and a few in
other periodicals. I owe thanks to the editors and publishers concerned
for permission to reprint them in this form.



  THE STORY OF THE NEGRO FORT                                13

  A WAR FOR AN ARCHBISHOP                                    26

  THE BOY COMMANDER OF THE CAMISARDS                         38

  THE CANOE FIGHT                                            55

  THE BATTLE OF LAKE BORGNE                                  67

  THE BATTLE IN THE DARK                                     77

  THE TROUBLESOME BURGHERS                                   88

  THE DEFENCE OF ROCHELLE                                    99

  THE SAD STORY OF A BOY KING                               111

  TWO OBSCURE HEROES                                        120

  THE CHARGE OF THE HOUNDS                                  130

  THE STORY OF A WINTER CAMPAIGN                            140

  YOUNG WASHINGTON IN THE WOODS                             151

  THE STORY OF CATHERINE                                    163

  THE VIRGINIA WIFE-MARKET                                  175


  BOYHOOD OF DANIEL WEBSTER                                 185

  THE SCULLION WHO BECAME A SCULPTOR                        193

  BOYHOOD OF WILLIAM CHAMBERS                               200

  HOW A BOY HIRED OUT, AND WHAT CAME OF IT                  206

  THE WICKEDEST MAN IN THE WORLD                            212

  A PRINCE WHO WOULD NOT STAY DEAD                          228



  _Breakfast and Battle_                                              23

  _Vladimir Besieging the City Containing his Archbishop_             35

  _Cavalier Personating the Lieutenant of the Count Broglio_          47

  _With a Single Blow he Knocked over the Indian with whom
       Austill was Struggling_                                        63

  _Boarding the Gun-boats_                                            73

  _General Jackson at New Orleans_                                    79

  _The Burghers Prepare to Defend their City_                         95

  _Richelieu Surveying the Works at Rochelle_                        103

  _The Parting between King Richard II. and Queen Isabella_          117

  _Martin Preaching to the People on the Duty of Fighting_           125

  "_Just at the Moment when Matters were at their Worst, he
       Rode up_"                                                     137

  _Capture of the Dutch fleet by the Soldiers of the French
       Republic_                                                     149

  _Washington as a Surveyor_                                         157

  "_She Went Boldly into his Tent_"                                  171

  "_'To the End of the Twelfth Book of the Æneid,' answered
       the 'Idle' Boy in Triumph_"                                   189


During the war of 1812-14, between Great Britain and the United States,
the weak Spanish Governor of Florida--for Florida was then Spanish
territory--permitted the British to make Pensacola their base of
operations against us. This was a gross outrage, as we were at peace
with Spain at the time, and General Jackson, acting on his own
responsibility, invaded Florida in retaliation.

Among the British at that time was an eccentric Irish officer, Colonel
Edward Nichols, who enlisted and tried to make soldiers of a large
number of the Seminole Indians. In 1815, after the war was over, Colonel
Nichols again visited the Seminoles, who were disposed to be hostile to
the United States, as Colonel Nichols himself was, and made an
astonishing treaty with them, in which an alliance, offensive and
defensive, between Great Britain and the Seminoles, was agreed upon. We
had made peace with Great Britain a few months before, and yet this
ridiculous Irish colonel signed a treaty binding Great Britain to fight
us whenever the Seminoles in the Spanish territory of Florida should see
fit to make a war! If this extraordinary performance had been all, it
would not have mattered so much, for the British government refused to
ratify the treaty; but it was not all. Colonel Nichols, as if determined
to give us as much trouble as he could, built a strong fortress on the
Appalachicola River, and gave it to his friends the Seminoles, naming it
"The British Post on the Appalachicola," where the British had not the
least right to have any post whatever. Situated on a high bluff, with
flanks securely guarded by the river on one side and a swamp on the
other, this fort, properly defended, was capable of resisting the
assaults of almost any force that could approach it; and Colonel Nichols
was determined that it should be properly defended, and should be a
constant menace and source of danger to the United States. He armed it
with one 32-pounder cannon, three 24-pounders, and eight other guns. In
the matter of small-arms he was even more liberal. He supplied the fort
with 2500 muskets, 500 carbines, 400 pistols, and 500 swords. In the
magazines he stored 300 quarter casks of rifle powder and 763 barrels of
ordinary gunpowder.

When Colonel Nichols went away, his Seminoles soon wandered off, leaving
the fort without a garrison. This gave an opportunity to a negro bandit
and desperado named Garçon to seize the place, which he did, gathering
about him a large band of runaway negroes, Choctaw Indians, and other
lawless persons, whom he organized into a strong company of robbers.
Garçon made the fort his stronghold, and began to plunder the country
round about as thoroughly as any robber baron or Italian bandit ever
did, sometimes venturing across the border into the United States.

All this was so annoying and so threatening to our frontier settlements
in Georgia, that General Jackson demanded of the Spanish authorities
that they should reduce the place; and they would have been glad enough
to do so, probably, if it had been possible, because the banditti
plundered Spanish as well as other settlements. But the Spanish governor
had no force at command, and could do nothing, and so the fort remained,
a standing menace to the American borders.

Matters were in this position in the spring of 1816, when General Gaines
was sent to fortify our frontier at the point where the Chattahoochee
and Flint rivers unite to form the Appalachicola. In June of that year
some stores for General Gaines's forces were sent by sea from New
Orleans. The vessels carrying them were to go up the Appalachicola, and
General Gaines was not sure that the little fleet would be permitted to
pass the robbers' stronghold, which had come to be called the Negro
Fort. Accordingly, he sent Colonel Clinch with a small force down the
river, to render any assistance that might be necessary. On the way
Colonel Clinch was joined by a band of Seminoles, who wanted to
recapture the fort on their own account, and the two bodies determined
to act together.

Meantime the two schooners with supplies and the two gun-boats sent to
guard them had arrived at the mouth of the river; and when the
commandant tried to hold a conference with Garçon, the ship's boat,
bearing a white flag, was fired upon.

Running short of water while lying off the river's mouth, the officers
of the fleet sent out a boat to procure a supply. This boat was armed
with a swivel and muskets, and was commanded by Midshipman Luffborough.
The boat went into the mouth of the river, and, seeing a negro on shore,
Midshipman Luffborough landed to ask for fresh-water supplies. Garçon,
with some of his men, lay in ambush at the spot, and while the officer
talked with the negro the concealed men fired upon the boat, killing
Luffborough and two of his men. One man got away by swimming, and was
picked up by the fleet; two others were taken prisoners, and, as was
afterwards learned, Garçon coated them with tar and burned them to

It would not do to send more boats ashore, and so the little squadron
lay together awaiting orders from Colonel Clinch. That officer, as he
approached the fort, captured a negro, who wore a white man's scalp at
his belt, and from him he learned of the massacre of Luffborough's
party. There was no further occasion for doubt as to what was to be
done. Colonel Clinch determined to reduce the fort at any cost, although
the operation promised to be a very difficult one.

Placing his men in line of battle, he sent a courier to the fleet,
ordering the gun-boats to come up and help in the attack. The Seminoles
made many demonstrations against the works, and the negroes replied with
their cannon. Garçon had raised his flags--a red one and a British
Union-jack--and whenever he caught sight of the Indians or the
Americans, he shelled them vigorously with his 32-pounder.

Three or four days were passed in this way, while the gun-boats were
slowly making their way up the river. It was Colonel Clinch's purpose to
have the gun-boats shell the fort, while he should storm it on the land
side. The work promised to be bloody, and it was necessary to bring all
the available force to bear at once. There were no siege-guns at hand,
or anywhere within reach, and the only way to reduce the fort was for
the small force of soldiers--numbering only one hundred and sixteen
men--to rush upon it, receiving the fire of its heavy artillery, and
climb over its parapets in the face of a murderous fire of small-arms.
Garçon had with him three hundred and thirty-four men, so that, besides
having strong defensive works and an abundant supply of large cannon,
his force outnumbered Colonel Clinch's nearly three to one. It is true
that the American officer had the band of Seminoles with him, but they
were entirely worthless for determined work of the kind that the white
men had to do. Even while lying in the woods at a distance, waiting for
the gun-boats to come up, the Indians became utterly demoralized under
the fire of Garçon's 32-pounder. There was nothing to be done, however,
by way of improving the prospect, which was certainly hopeless enough.
One hundred and sixteen white men had the Negro Fort to storm,
notwithstanding its strength and the overwhelming force that defended
it. But those one hundred and sixteen men were American soldiers, under
command of a brave and resolute officer, who had made up his mind that
the fort could be taken, and they were prepared to follow their leader
up to the muzzle of the guns and over the ramparts, there to fight the
question out in a hand-to-hand struggle with the desperadoes inside.

Finally the gun-boats arrived, and preparations were made for the
attack. Sailing-master Jairus Loomis, the commandant of the little
fleet, cast his anchors under the guns of the Negro Fort at five
o'clock in the morning on the 27th of July, 1816. The fort at once
opened fire, and it seemed impossible for the little vessels to endure
the storm of shot and shell that rained upon them from the ramparts
above. They replied vigorously, however, but with no effect. Their guns
were too small to make any impression upon the heavy earthen walls of
the fortress.

Sailing-master Loomis had roused his ship's cook early that morning, and
had given him a strange breakfast to cook. He had ordered him to make
all the fire he could in his galley, and to fill the fire with
cannon-balls. Not long after the bombardment began the cook reported
that breakfast was ready; that is to say, that the cannon-balls were
red-hot. Loomis trained one of his guns with his own hands so that its
shot should fall within the fort, instead of burying itself in the
ramparts, and this gun was at once loaded with a red-hot shot. The word
was given, the match applied, and the glowing missile sped on its way. A
few seconds later the earth shook and quivered, a deafening roar
stunned the sailors, and a vast cloud of smoke filled the air, shutting
out the sun.

The hot shot had fallen into the great magazine, where there were
hundreds of barrels of gunpowder, and the Negro Fort was no more. It had
been literally blown to atoms in a second.

The slaughter was frightful. There were, as we know already, three
hundred and thirty-four men in the fort, and two hundred and seventy of
them were killed outright by the explosion. All the rest, except three
men who miraculously escaped injury, were wounded, most of them so badly
that they died soon afterwards.

One of the three men who escaped the explosion unhurt was Garçon
himself. Bad as this bandit chief was, Colonel Clinch would have spared
his life, but it happened that he fell into the hands of the sailors
from the gun-boat; and when they learned that Garçon had tarred and
burned their comrades whom he had captured in the attack on
Luffborough's boat, they turned him over to the infuriated Seminoles,
who put him to death in their own cruel way.


This is the history of a strange affair, which at one time promised to
give the government of the United States no little trouble, even
threatening to involve us in a war with Spain, for the fort was on
Spanish territory, and the Spaniards naturally resented an invasion of
their soil.



In the latter part of the tenth century Sviatozlaf was Grand Prince of
Russia. He was a powerful prince, but a turbulent one, and he behaved so
ill towards his neighbors that, when an opportunity offered, one of them
converted his skull into a gold-mounted drinking-cup, with an
inscription upon it, and his dominions were parcelled out between his
three sons--Yaropolk, Oleg, and Vladimir.

Yaropolk, finding his possessions too small for his ambition, made war
on Oleg, and conquered his territory; but his brother Oleg having been
killed in the war, the tender-hearted Yaropolk wept bitterly over his

The other brother, Vladimir, was so grieved at the death of Oleg that he
abandoned his capital, Novgorod, and remained for a time in seclusion.
Yaropolk seized the opportunity thus offered, and made himself master of
Vladimir's dominions also. Not long afterwards Vladimir appeared at the
head of an army, and Yaropolk ran away to his own capital, Kiev.
Vladimir at once resumed the throne, and sent word to Yaropolk that he
would in due time return the hostile visit.

About this time Yaropolk and Vladimir both asked for the hand of the
Princess Rogneda, of Polotzk, in marriage; and the father of the
princess, fearing to offend either of the royal barbarians, left the
choice to Rogneda herself. She chose Yaropolk, sending a very insulting
message to Vladimir, whereupon that prince marched against Polotzk,
conquered the province, and with his own hand slew the father and
brothers of the princess. Then, with their blood still unwashed from his
hands, he forced Rogneda to marry him.

Having attended to this matter, Vladimir undertook to return his
brother's hostile visit, as he had promised to do. Yaropolk's capital,
Kiev, was a strongly fortified place, and capable of a stout resistance;
but Vladimir corrupted Blude, one of Yaropolk's ministers, paying him to
betray his master, and promising, in the event of success, to heap
honors on his head. Blude worked upon Yaropolk's fears, and persuaded
him to abandon the capital without a struggle, and Vladimir took
possession of the throne and the country. Even in his exile, however,
Yaropolk had no peace. Blude frightened him with false stories, and
persuaded him to remove from place to place, until his mind and body
were worn out, when, at Blude's suggestion, he determined to surrender
himself, and trust to the mercy of Vladimir. That good-natured brother
ordered the betrayed and distressed prince to be put to death.

Then Vladimir rewarded Blude. He entertained him in princely fashion,
declaring to his followers that he was deeply indebted to this man for
his faithful services, and heaping all manner of honors upon him. But at
the end of three days he said to Blude: "I have kept my promise
strictly. I have received you with welcome, and heaped unwonted honors
upon your head. This I have done as your friend. To-day, as judge, I
condemn the traitor and the murderer of his prince." He ordered that
Blude should suffer instant death, and the sentence was executed.

Now that both Oleg and Yaropolk were dead, Vladimir was Grand Prince of
all the Russias, as his father before him had been. He invaded Poland,
and made war upon various others of his neighbors, greatly enlarging his
dominions and strengthening his rule.

But Vladimir was a very pious prince in his heathen way, and feeling
that the gods had greatly favored him, he made rich feasts of
thanksgiving in their honor. He ordered splendid memorials to various
deities to be erected throughout the country, and he specially honored
Perune, the father of the gods, for whom he provided a new pair of
golden whiskers--golden whiskers being the special glory of Perune.

Not content with this, Vladimir ordered a human sacrifice to be made,
and selected for the victim a Christian youth of the capital. The father
of the boy resisted, and both were slain, locked in each other's arms.

Vladimir gave vast sums of money to the religious establishments, and
behaved generally like a very devout pagan. His piety and generosity
made him so desirable a patron that efforts were made by the priests of
other religions to convert him. Jews, Mohammedans, Catholics, and Greeks
all sought to win him, and Vladimir began seriously to consider the
question of changing his religion. He appointed a commission, consisting
of ten boyards, and ordered them to examine into the comparative merits
of the different religions, and to report to him. When their report was
made, Vladimir weighed the matter carefully.

He began by rejecting Mohammedanism, because it forbids the use of wine,
and Vladimir was not at all disposed to become a water-drinker. Judaism,
he said, was a homeless religion, its followers being wanderers on the
face of the earth, under a curse; so he would have nothing to do with
that faith. The Catholic religion would not do at all, because it
recognized in the pope a superior to himself, and Vladimir had no mind
to acknowledge a superior. The Greek religion was free from these
objections, and moreover, by adopting it he would bring himself into
friendship with the great Greek or Byzantine Empire, whose capital was
at Constantinople, and that was something which he earnestly desired to

Accordingly, he determined to become a Christian and a member of the
Greek Church; but how? There were serious difficulties in the way. In
order to become a Christian he must be baptized, and he was puzzled
about how to accomplish that. There were many Greek priests in his
capital, any one of whom would have been glad to baptize the heathen
monarch, but Vladimir would not let a mere priest convert him into a
Christian. Nobody less than an archbishop would do for that, and there
was no archbishop in Russia.

It is true that there were plenty of archbishops in the dominions of his
Byzantine neighbors, and that the Greek emperors, Basil and Constantine,
would have been glad to send him a dozen of them if he had expressed a
wish to that effect; but Vladimir was proud, and could not think of
asking a favor of anybody, least of all of the Greek emperors. No, he
would die a heathen rather than ask for an archbishop to baptize him.

Nevertheless, Vladimir had fully made up his mind to have himself
baptized by an archbishop. It was his lifelong habit, when he wanted
anything, to take it by force. He had taken two thirds of his dominions
in that way, and, as we have seen, it was in that way that he got his
wife Rogneda. So now that he wanted an archbishop, he determined to take
one. Calling his army together, he declared war on the Greek emperors,
and promising his soldiers all the pillage they wanted, he marched away
towards Constantinople.

The first serious obstacle he met with was the fortified city of
Kherson, situated near the spot where Sebastopol stands in our day. Here
the resistance was so obstinate that month after month was consumed in
siege operations. At the end of six months Vladimir became seriously
alarmed lest the garrison should be succored from without, in which case
his hope of getting himself converted into a Christian must be abandoned

While he was troubled on this score, however, one of his soldiers picked
up an arrow that had been shot from the city, and found a letter
attached to it. This letter informed the Grand Prince that the
water-pipes of the city received their supplies at a point immediately
in his rear, and with this news Vladimir's hope of becoming a Christian
revived. He found the water-pipes and stopped them up, and the city

There were plenty of bishops and archbishops there, of course, and they
were perfectly willing--as they had been from the first, for that
matter--to baptize the unruly royal convert, but Vladimir was not
content now with that. He sent a messenger to Constantinople to tell the
emperors there that he wanted their sister, the Princess Anne, for a
wife; and that if they refused, he would march against Constantinople
itself. The Emperors Basil and Constantine consented, and although
Vladimir had five wives already, he married Anne, and was baptized on
the same day.

Having now become a Christian, the Grand Prince determined that his
Russians should do the same. He publicly stripped the god Perune of his
gorgeous golden whiskers, and of his rich vestments, showing the people
that Perune was only a log of wood. Then he had the deposed god whipped
in public, and thrown into the river, with all the other gods.

He next ordered all the people of his capital city to assemble on the
banks of the Dnieper River, and, at a signal, made them all rush into
the water, while a priest pronounced the baptismal service over the
whole population of the city at once. It was the most wholesale baptism
ever performed.


That is the way in which Russia was changed from a pagan to a
Christian empire. The story reads like a romance, but it is plain,
well-authenticated history. For his military exploits the Russian
historians call this prince Vladimir the Great. The people call him St.
Vladimir, the Greek Church having enrolled his name among the saints
soon after his death. He was undoubtedly a man of rare military skill,
and unusual ability in the government of men. Bad as his acts were, he
seems to have had a conscience, and to have done his duty so far as he
was capable of understanding it.


When Louis XIV. was King of France, that country was generally Catholic,
as it is still, but in the rugged mountain region called the Cevennes
more than half the people were Protestants. At first the king consented
that these Protestant people, who were well behaved both in peace and in
war, should live in quiet, and worship as they pleased; but in those
days men were not tolerant in matters of religion, as they are now, and
so after a while King Louis made up his mind that he would compel all
his people to believe alike. The Protestants of the Cevennes were
required to give up their religion and to become Catholics. When they
refused, soldiers were sent to compel them, and great cruelties were
practised upon them. Many of them were killed, many put in prison, and
many sent to work in the galleys.

When this persecution had lasted for nearly thirty years, a body of
young men who were gathered together in the High Cevennes resolved to
defend themselves by force. They secured arms, and although their
numbers were very small, they met and fought the troops.

Among these young men was one, a mere boy, named Jean Cavalier. His home
was in the Lower Cevennes, but he had fled to the highlands for safety.
This boy, without knowing it, had military genius of a very high order,
and when it became evident that he and his comrades could not long hold
out against the large bodies of regular troops sent against them, he
suggested a plan which in the end proved to be so good that for years
the poor peasants were able to maintain war against all the armies that
King Louis could send against them, although he sent many of his finest
generals and as many as sixty thousand men to subdue them.

Cavalier's plan was to collect more men, divide, and make uprisings in
several places at once, so that the king's officers could not tell in
which way to turn. As he and his comrades knew the country well, and had
friends to tell them of the enemy's movements, they could nearly always
know when it was safe to attack, and when they must hide in the woods.

Cavalier took thirty men and went into one part of the country, while
Captain La Porte, with a like number, went to another, and Captain St.
John to still another. They kept each other informed of all movements,
and whenever one was pressed by the enemy, the others would begin
burning churches or attacking small garrisons. The enemy would thus be
compelled to abandon the pursuit of one party in order to go after the
others, and it soon became evident that under Cavalier's lead the
peasants were too wily and too strong for the soldiers. Sometimes
Cavalier would fairly beat detachments of his foes, and give them chase,
killing all whom he caught; for in that war both sides did this, even
killing their prisoners without mercy. At other times Cavalier was
worsted in fight, and when that was the case he fled to the woods,
collected more men, and waited for another chance.

Without trying to write an orderly history of the war, for which there
is not space enough here, I shall now tell some stories of Cavalier's
adventures, drawing the information chiefly from a book which he himself
wrote years afterwards, when he was a celebrated man and a general in
the British army.

One Sunday Cavalier, who was a preacher as well as a soldier, held
services in his camp in the woods, and all the Protestant peasants in
the neighborhood attended. The Governor of Alais, whose name was De la
Hay, thought this a good opportunity not only to defeat Cavalier's small
force, but also to catch the Protestant women and children in the act of
attending a Protestant service, the punishment for which was death. He
collected a force of about six hundred men, cavalry and infantry, and
marched towards the wood, where he knew he should outnumber the peasants
three or four to one. He had a mule loaded with ropes, declaring that he
was going to hang all the rebels at once.

When news of De la Hay's coming was brought to the peasants, they sent
away all the country people, women, and children, and began to discuss
the situation. They had no commander, for although Cavalier had led them
generally, he had no authority to do so. Everything was voluntary, and
everything a subject of debate. On this occasion many thought it best to
retreat at once, as there were less than two hundred of them; but
Cavalier declared that if they would follow him, he would lead them to a
place where victory might be won. They consented, and he advanced to a
point on the road where he could shelter his men. Quickly disposing them
in line of battle behind some defences, he awaited the coming of the

De la Hay, being over-confident because of his superior numbers,
blundered at the outset. Instead of attacking first with his infantry,
he placed his horsemen in front, and ordered an assault. Cavalier was
quick to take advantage of this blunder. He ordered only a few of his
men to fire, and this drew a volley from the advancing horsemen, which
did little damage to the sheltered troops, but emptied the horsemen's
weapons. Instantly Cavalier ordered a charge and a volley, and the
horsemen, with empty pistols, gave way, Cavalier pursuing them. De la
Hay's infantry, being just behind the horsemen, were ridden down by
their own friends, and became confused and panic-stricken. Cavalier
pursued hotly, his men throwing off their coats to lighten themselves,
and giving the enemy no time to rally. A reinforcement two hundred
strong, coming up, tried to check Cavalier's charge; but so impetuous
was the onset that those fresh troops gave way in their turn, and the
chase ended only when the king's men had shut themselves up in the
fortified towns. Cavalier had lost only five or six men, the enemy
losing a hundred killed and many more wounded. Cavalier captured a large
quantity of arms and ammunition, of which he was in sore need.

When the battle was over it was decided unanimously to make Cavalier the
commander. He refused, however, to accept the responsibility unless it
could be accompanied with power to enforce obedience, and his troops at
once voted to make his authority absolute, even to the decision of
questions of life and death. According to the best authorities, Cavalier
was only seventeen years old when this absolute command was conferred
upon him. How skilfully he used the scant means at his disposal we shall
see hereafter.

On one occasion Cavalier attacked a party of forty men who were marching
through the country to reinforce a distant post, and killed most of
them. While searching the dead bodies, he found in the pocket of the
commanding officer an order signed by Count Broglio, the king's
lieutenant, directing all military officers and town authorities to
lodge and feed the party on their march. No sooner had the boy soldier
read this paper than he resolved to turn it to his own advantage in a
daring and dangerous way.

The castle of Servas, near Alais, had long been a source of trouble to
him. It was a strong place, built upon a steep hill, and was so
difficult of approach that it would have been madness to try to take it
by force. This castle stood right in the line of Cavalier's
communications with his friends, near a road which he was frequently
obliged to pass, and its presence there was a source of annoyance and
danger to him. Moreover, its garrison of about forty men were constantly
plundering and murdering Cavalier's friends in the country round about,
and giving timely notice to his enemies of his own military movements.

When he found the order referred to, he resolved to pretend that he was
Count Broglio's nephew, the dead commander of the detachment which he
had just destroyed. Dressing himself in that officer's clothes, he
ordered his men to put on the clothing of the other dead royalists. Then
he took six of his best men, with their own Camisard uniforms on, and
bound them with ropes, to represent prisoners. One of them had been
wounded in the arm, and his bloody sleeve helped the stratagem. Putting
these six men at the head of his troop, with a guard of their disguised
comrades over them, he marched towards the Castle of Servas. There he
declared himself to be Count Broglio's nephew, and said that he had met
a company of the Barbets, or Camisards, and had defeated them, taking
six prisoners; that he was afraid to keep these prisoners in the village
overnight lest their friends should rescue them; and that he wished to
lodge them in the castle for safety. When the governor of the castle
heard this story, and saw the order of Count Broglio, he was completely
imposed upon. He ordered the prisoners to be brought into the castle,
and invited Cavalier to be his guest there for the night. Taking two of
his officers with him, Cavalier went into the castle to sup with the
governor. During supper several of his soldiers, who were encamped just
outside, went into the castle upon pretence of getting wine or bread,
and when five or six of them were in, at a signal from Cavalier, they
overpowered the sentinels and threw the gates open. The rest of the
troop rushed in at once, and before the garrison could seize their
arms the boy commander was master of the fortress. He put the garrison
to the sword, and, hastily collecting all the arms, ammunition, and
provisions he could find, set fire to the castle and marched away. When
the fire reached the powder magazine the whole fortress was blown to
fragments, and a post which had long annoyed and endangered the
Camisards was no more.


On another occasion, finding himself short of ammunition, Cavalier
resolved to take some by force and stratagem from the strongly fortified
town of Savnes. His first care was to send a detachment of forty men to
a point at some distance, with orders to burn a church which had lately
been fortified, "thereby," he says, "to make the inhabitants of Savnes
believe we were busy in another place." Then he detached an officer and
fifty men, and ordered them to disguise themselves as country militia in
the king's service, and to go into Savnes in that character. With some
difficulty this officer accomplished his purpose, and then Roland and
Cavalier marched upon the place. His officer inside the town, when the
alarm was given, said to the governor, "Let them come; you'll see how
I'll receive them." Anxious for his own safety, the governor permitted
the supposed officer of militia to take charge of the defence, and the
armed citizens put themselves under his command. He instructed the
citizens to reserve their fire until he should give them orders, and in
that way enabled Cavalier to approach unharmed. Suddenly the officer,
directing the aim of his men against the citizens, ordered them to throw
down their arms upon pain of instant death, and they, seeing themselves
caught in a trap, obeyed. Cavalier marched in without opposition,
secured all that he could carry away of arms, ammunition, and
provisions, and retired to the woods.

Throughout the summer and autumn the boy carried on his part of the war,
nearly always getting the better of his enemies by his shrewdness and
valor, and when that was impossible, eluding them with equal shrewdness.
During that first campaign he destroyed many fortified places, won many
fights against superior numbers of regular troops, and killed far more
soldiers for the enemy than he had under his own command. Failing to
conquer him by force or strategy, his foes fell back upon the confident
hope of starving him during the winter, for he must pass the winter in
the forests, with no bases of supply to draw upon for either food or
ammunition. But in indulging this hope his enemies forgot that the crown
and glory of his achievements in the field had been his marvellous
fertility of resource. The very qualities which had made him formidable
in fight were his safeguard for the winter. He knew quite as well as
they did that he must live all winter in the woods surrounded by foes,
and, knowing the difficulty of doing so, he gave his whole mind to the
question of how to do it.

He began during the harvest to make his preparations. He explored all
the caves in the mountains, and selected the most available ones for use
as magazines, taking care to have them in all parts of the mountains, so
that if cut off from one he could draw upon another. In these caves he
stored great quantities of grain and other provisions, and during the
winter, whenever he needed meal, some of his men, who were millers,
would carry grain to some lonely country mill and grind it. To prevent
this, the king's officers ordered that all the country mills should be
disabled and rendered unfit for use; but before the order could be
executed, Cavalier directed some of his men, who were skilled
machinists, to disable two or three of the mills by carrying away the
essential parts of their machinery and storing them in his caves. Then,
when he wanted meal, his machinists had only to replace the machinery in
some disabled mill, and remove it again after his millers had done the
necessary grinding. His bakers made use of farmers' ovens to bake bread
in, and when the king's soldiers, hearing of this, destroyed the ovens,
Cavalier sent his masons--for he had all sorts of craftsmen in his
ranks--to rebuild them.

Having two powder-makers with him, he collected saltpetre, burned willow
twigs for charcoal, and made all the powder he needed in his caves.
Before doing so he had been obliged to resort to many devices in order
to get powder, sometimes disguising himself as a merchant and going into
a town and buying small quantities at a time, so that suspicion might
not be awakened, until he secured enough to fill his portmanteau.

For bullets he melted down the leaden weights of windows, and when that
source of supply failed he melted pewter vessels and used pewter
bullets--a fact which gave rise to the belief that he used poisoned
balls. Finally, in a dyer's establishment, he had the good luck to find
two great leaden kettles, weighing more than seven hundred quintals,
which, he says, "I caused immediately to be carried into the magazines
with as much diligence and care as if they had been silver."

Chiefly by Cavalier's tireless energy and wonderful military skill, the
war was kept up against fearful odds for years, and finally the young
soldier succeeded in making a treaty of peace in which perfect liberty
of conscience and worship--which was all he had been fighting for--was
guaranteed to the Protestants of the Cevennes. His friends rejected this
treaty, however, and Cavalier soon afterwards went to Holland, where he
was given command of a regiment in the English service. His career in
arms was a brilliant one, so brilliant that the British made him a
general and governor of the island of Jersey; but he nowhere showed
greater genius or manifested higher soldierly qualities than during the
time when he was the Boy Commander of the Camisards.



The smallest naval battle ever fought in the world, perhaps, occurred on
the Alabama River on the 13th of November, 1813, between two canoes, and
this is the way in which it happened.

The United States were at war with Great Britain at that time, and a war
with Spain was also threatened. The British had stirred up the Indians
in the Northwest to make war upon the whites, and in 1813 they persuaded
the Creek Indians of Alabama and Mississippi to begin a war there.

The government troops were so busy with the British in other quarters of
the country that very little could be done for the protection of the
white settlers in the Southwest, and for a good while they had to take
care of themselves in the best way they could. Leaving their homes,
they gathered together here and there and built rude stockade forts, in
which they lived, with all their women and children. All the men,
including all the boys who were old enough to pull a trigger--and
frontier boys learn to use a gun very early in life--were organized into
companies of volunteer soldiers.

At Fort Madison, one of the smallest of the forts, there was a very
daring frontiersman, named Samuel (or Sam) Dale--a man who had lived
much with the Indians, and was like them in many respects, even in his
dress and manners. Hearing that the Indians were in force on the
southeastern bank of the Alabama River, the people in Fort Madison were
greatly alarmed, fearing that all the crops in that region--which were
ripe in the fields--would be destroyed. If that should occur, they knew
they must starve during the coming winter, and so they made up their
minds to drive the savages away, at least until they could gather the

Captain Dale at once made up a party, consisting of seventy-two men,
all volunteers. With this force he set out on the 11th of November,
taking Tandy Walker, a celebrated scout, for his guide. The column
marched to the Alabama River, and crossed it at a point about twenty
miles below the present town of Claiborne.

Once across the river, Dale knew that he was among the Indians, and,
knowing their ways, he was as watchful as if he had been one of them
himself. He forbade his men to sleep at all during the night after
crossing the river, and kept them under arms, in expectation of an

No attack being made, he moved up the river the next morning, marching
most of the men, but ordering Jerry Austill, with six men, to paddle up
in two canoes that had been found. This Jerry Austill--who afterwards
became a merchant in Mobile and a state senator--was a boy only nineteen
years of age at the time, but he had already distinguished himself in
the war by his courage.

At a point called Peggy Bailey's Bluff, Dale, who was marching with one
man several hundreds of yards ahead of his men, came upon a party of
Indians at breakfast. He shot one of them, and the rest ran away,
leaving their provisions behind them. Securing the provisions, Dale
marched on for a mile or two, but, finding no further trace of Indians,
he concluded that the country on that side of the river was now pretty
clear of them, and so he set to work to cross to the other side, meaning
to look for enemies there.

The river at that point is about a quarter of a mile wide, and, as there
were only two small canoes at hand, the work of taking the men across
was very slow. When all were over except Dale and about a dozen others,
the little remnant of the force was suddenly attacked.

The situation was a very dangerous one. With the main body of his
command on the other side of the river, where it could give him no help,
Dale had to face a large body of Indians with only a dozen men, and, as
only one canoe remained on his side of the river, it was impossible for
the whole of the little party to escape by flight, as the canoe would
not hold them all.

Concealing his men in the bushes, behind trees, and under the
river-bank, he replied to the fire of the Indians, and kept them at bay.
But it was certain that this could not last long. The Indians must soon
find out from the firing how small the number of their adversaries was;
and Dale knew that as soon as the discovery was made, they would rush
upon him, and put the whole party to death.

He called to the men on the other side of the river to come over and
help him, but they were panic-stricken, probably because they could see,
as Dale could not, how large a body of Indians was pressing their
commander. The men on the other bank did, indeed, make one or two slight
attempts to cross, but those came to nothing, and the little party on
the eastern shore seemed doomed to destruction.

Bad as matters were with Dale, they soon became worse. An immense canoe,
more than thirty feet long and four feet deep, came down the river,
bearing eleven warriors, who undertook to land and attack Dale in the
rear. This compelled the party to fight in two directions at once. Dale
and his companions kept up the battle in front, while Jerry Austill,
James Smith, and one other man fought the warriors in the canoe to keep
them from landing. One of the eleven was killed, and another swam ashore
and succeeded in joining the Indians on the bank.

Seeing how desperate the case was, Dale resolved upon a desperate
remedy. He called for volunteers for a dangerous piece of work, and was
at once joined by Jerry Austill, James Smith, and a negro man whose name
was Cæsar. With these men he leaped into the little canoe, and paddled
towards the big Indian boat, meaning to fight the nine Indians who
remained in it, although he and his canoe party numbered only four men
all told.

As the two canoes approached each other, both parties tried to fire, but
their gunpowder was wet, and so they grappled for a hand-to-hand battle.
Jerry Austill, being in front, received the first attack. No sooner did
the two canoes touch than an Indian sprang forward, and dealt the youth
a terrible blow with a war-club, knocking him down, and making a dent in
his skull which he carried through life. Once down, he would have been
killed but for the quickness of Smith, who, seeing the danger his
companion was in, raised his rifle. With a single blow he knocked over
the Indian with whom Austill was struggling.

Then Austill rose, and the fierce contest went on. Dale and his men
rained their blows upon their foes, and received blows quite as lusty in
return, but Cæsar managed the boat so skilfully that, in spite of the
superior numbers of the Indians, the fight was not very unequal. He held
the little boat against the big one, but kept it at the end, so that the
Indians in the other end of the big canoe could not reach Dale's men.

In this way those that were actually fighting Dale, Austill, and Smith
never numbered more than three or four at any one time, and so the
three could not be borne down by mere force of numbers. Dale stood for a
time with one foot in each boat; then he stepped over into the Indian
canoe, giving his comrades more room, and crowding the Indians towards
the end of their boat.

One by one the savages fell, until only one was left facing Dale, who
held Cæsar's gun, with bayonet attached, in his hand. This sole survivor
was Tar-cha-chee, an Indian with whom Dale had hunted and lived, one
whom he regarded as a friend, and whom he now wished to spare. But the
savage was strong within the Indian's breast, and he refused to accept
mercy even from a man who had been his comrade and friend. Standing
erect in the bow of the canoe, he shook himself, and said, in the
Muscogee tongue, "Big Sam, you are a man, I am another; now for it."

With that he rushed forward, only to meet death at the hands of the
friend who would gladly have spared him.


The canoe fight was ended, but Dale's work was not yet done. His party
on the bank were every minute more closely pressed, and if they were to
be saved it must be done quickly. For this purpose he and his companions
at once began clearing the big canoe of its load of dead Indians. Now
that only the white men were there, the Indians upon the bank directed a
galling fire upon the canoe, but by careening it to one side Dale made a
sort of breastwork of its thick gunwale, and thus succeeded in clearing
it. When this was done he went ashore and quickly carried off the party
there, landing all of them in safety on the other side.

The hero of this singular battle lived until the year 1841. The whole
story of his life is a romance of hardship, daring, and wonderful
achievement. When he died, General John F. H. Claiborne, who knew him
intimately, wrote a sketch of his career for a Natchez newspaper, in
which he described him as follows:

"In person General Dale was tall, erect, raw-boned, and muscular. In
many respects, physical and moral, he resembled his antagonists of the
woods. He had the square forehead, the high cheek-bones, the compressed
lips, and, in fact, the physiognomy of an Indian, relieved, however, by
a firm, benevolent Saxon eye. Like the red men, too, his foot fell
lightly upon the ground, and turned neither to the right nor left. He
was habitually taciturn, his face grave, he spoke slowly and in low
tones, and he seldom laughed. I observed of him what I have often noted
as peculiar to border men of high attributes: he entertained the
strongest attachment for the Indians, extolled their courage, their love
of country, and many of their domestic qualities; and I have often seen
the wretched remnant of the Choctaws camped round his plantation and
subsisting on his crops."

It is a curious fact that after the war ended, when Weatherford (Red
Eagle), who commanded the Indians on the shore in this battle with Dale,
was about to marry, he asked Dale to act as his best man, and the two
who had fought each other so desperately stood side by side, as devoted
friends, at the altar.



When the British made up their minds, near the end of the year 1814, to
take New Orleans, and thus to get control of the Mississippi River,
there seemed to be very little difficulty in their way.

So far as anybody on either side could see, their only trouble was
likely to be in making a landing. If they could once get their splendid
army on shore anywhere near the city, there was very little to prevent
them from taking the town, and if they had taken it, it is easy to see
that the whole history of the United States would have been changed.

They did make a landing, but they did not take New Orleans, and in the
story of "The Battle in the Dark" I shall tell how and why they failed.
In the present story I want to tell how they landed.

The expedition consisted of a large fleet bearing a large army. At first
the intention was to sail up the Mississippi River, but General Jackson
made that impossible by building strong forts on the stream, and so it
was necessary to try some other plan.

It happens that New Orleans has two entrances from the sea. The river
flows in front of the city, and by that route it is about a hundred
miles from the city to the sea; but just behind the town, only a few
miles away, lies a great bay called Lake Pontchartrain. This bay is
connected by a narrow strait with another bay called Lake Borgne, which
is connected directly with the sea.

Lake Borgne is very shallow, but the British knew little about it. They
only knew that if they could land anywhere on the banks of Lake Borgne
or Lake Pontchartrain they would be within an easy march of New Orleans.

Accordingly, the fleet bearing the British army, instead of entering the
mouth of the Mississippi, and trying to get to New Orleans in front,
sailed in by the back way, and anchored near the entrance of Lake

Here the British had their first sight of the preparations made to
resist them. Six little gun-boats, carrying twenty-three guns in all,
were afloat on the lake under command of Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby
Jones. These gun-boats were mere mosquitoes in comparison with the great
British men-of-war, and when they made their appearance in the track of
the invading fleet, the British laughed and wondered at the
foolhardiness of the American commander in sending such vessels there.

Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones knew what he was about, however, as
the British soon found out. He sailed up almost within cannon-shot of
the enemy's ships, and they, of course, gave chase to him. Then he
nimbly sailed away, with the fleet after him. Very soon a large
man-of-war ran aground; then another and another struck the bottom, and
the British Admiral began to understand the trick. It was evident that
Lake Borgne was much too shallow for the large ships, and so the
commander called a halt, and transferred the troops to the smaller
vessels of the fleet.

When that was done the chase was begun again by the smaller ships, and
for a time with every prospect of success; but presently even these
ships were hard aground, and the whole British fleet which had been
intended to carry the army across the lake was stuck fast in the mud
near the entrance, and thirty miles from the point at which the landing
was to be made.

The British commander was at his wits' end. It was clear that the ships
could not cross the lake, and the only thing to be done was to transport
the army across little by little in the ships' boats, and make a landing
in that way. But to do that while Lieutenant Jones and his gun-boats
were afloat was manifestly impossible. If it had been attempted, the
little gun-boats, which could sail anywhere on the lake, would have
destroyed the British army by boat-loads.

There was nothing to be done until the saucy little fleet was out of
the way, and to put it out of the way was not easy.

Lieutenant Jones was an officer very much given to hard fighting, and in
this case the British saw that they must fight him at a disadvantage. As
they could not get to him in their ships, they must make an attack in
open boats, which, of course, was a very dangerous thing to do, as the
American gun-boats were armed with cannon.

The British commander wanted his bravest men for such work, and so he
called for volunteers to man the boats. A thousand gallant fellows
offered themselves, and were placed in fifty boats, under command of
Captain Lockyer. Each boat was armed with a carronade--a kind of small
cannon--but the men well knew that the real fighting was not to be done
with carronades. The only hope of success lay in a sudden, determined
attack. The only way to capture the American gun-boats was to row up to
them in the face of their fire, climb over their sides, and take them by
force in a hand-to-hand fight.


When the flotilla set sail, on the 14th of December, Lieutenant Jones
knew what their mode of attack would be quite as well as Captain Lockyer
did. If he let them attack him in the open lake he knew very well that
the British could overpower him and capture his fleet; but he did not
intend to be attacked in the open lake if he could help it. His plan was
to sail slowly, keeping just out of reach of the row-boats, and
gradually to draw them to the mouth of the strait which leads into Lake
Pontchartrain. At that point there was a well-armed fort, and if he
could anchor his gun-boats across the narrow channel, he believed he
could destroy the British flotilla with the aid of the fort, and thus
beat off the expedition from New Orleans.

Unluckily, while the fleet was yet far from the mouth of the strait the
wind failed entirely, and the gun-boats were helpless. They could not
sail without wind, and they must receive the attack right where they

At daylight on the morning of December 15 the British flotilla was
about nine miles away, but was rapidly drawing nearer, the boats being
propelled by oars. Lieutenant Jones called the commanders of his
gun-boats together, gave them instructions, and informed them of his
purpose to make as obstinate a fight as possible. His case was hopeless;
his fleet would be captured, but by fighting obstinately he could at
least gain time for General Jackson at New Orleans, and time was greatly
needed there.

Meanwhile the British boats, carrying a thousand men, all accustomed to
desperate fighting, approached and anchored just out of gunshot. Captain
Lockyer wished his men to go into action in the best condition possible,
and therefore he came to anchor in order to rest the oarsmen, and to
give the men time for breakfast.

At half-past ten o'clock the British weighed anchor, and, forming in
line, began the advance. As soon as they came within range the American
gun-boats opened fire, but with little effect at first. Of course the
British could not reply at such a distance, but being under fire, their
chief need was to go forward as fast and come to close quarters as
quickly as possible. The sailors bent to their oars, and the boats flew
over the water. Soon the men at the bows began to fire the carronades in
reply to the American cannon. Then as the boats drew nearer, small arms
came into use, and the battle grew fiercer with every moment. The
British boats were with difficulty kept in line, and their advance grew
slower. Oarsmen were killed, and time was lost in putting others into
their places. Still the line was preserved, and the battle went on, the
attacking boats slowly and steadily advancing all the time.

Two of the American gun-boats had drifted out of place, and were
considerably in advance of the rest. Seeing this, Captain Lockyer
ordered the men commanding the British boats to surround them, and a few
minutes later the sailors were climbing over the sides of these vessels.
Their attack was stoutly resisted. The American sailors above them fired
volleys into their faces, and beat them back with handspikes. Scores of
the British fell back into the water dead or wounded, while their
comrades pressed forward to fill their places. There were so many of
them that in spite of all the Americans could do to beat them off they
swarmed over the gunwales and gained the decks. Their work was not yet
done, however. The Americans fiercely contested every inch of their
advance, and the two parties hewed each other down with cutlasses, the
Americans being slowly beaten back by superior numbers, but still
obstinately fighting until they could fight no more.

One by one all the gun-boats were taken in this way, Lieutenant Jones's
vessel holding out longest, and the Lieutenant himself fighting till he
was stricken down with a severe wound.

Having thus cleared Lake Borgne, the British were free to begin the work
of landing. It was a terrible undertaking, however--scarcely less so
than the fight itself. The whole army had to be carried thirty miles in
open boats and landed in a swamp. The men were drenched with rain, and,
a frost coming on, their clothes were frozen on their bodies. There was
no fuel to be had on the island where they made their first landing, and
to their sufferings from cold was added severe suffering from hunger
before supplies of food could be brought to them. Some of the sailors
who were engaged in rowing the boats were kept at work for four days and
nights without relief.

The landing was secured, however, and the British cared little for the
sufferings it had cost them. They believed then that they had little
more to do except to march twelve miles and take possession of the city,
with its one hundred and fifty thousand bales of cotton and its ten
thousand hogsheads of sugar. How it came about that they were
disappointed is made clear in the next story.



When the British succeeded in taking Lieutenant Jones's little gun-boats
and making a landing, after the manner described in the preceding story,
they supposed that the hardest part of their work was done. It was not
far from their landing-place to New Orleans, and there was nothing in
their way. Their army numbered nearly twenty thousand men, and the men
were the best soldiers that England had. Many of them were Wellington's

It seemed certain that such an army could march into New Orleans with
very little trouble indeed, and everybody on both sides thought
so--everybody, that is to say, but General Jackson. He meant to fight
that question out, and as the Legislature and many of the people in the
city would do nothing to help him, he put the town under martial law,
and worked night and day to get together something like an army.

On the 23d of December, 1814, the British arrived at a point a few miles
below the city, and went into camp about noon. As soon as Jackson heard
of their arrival he said to the people around him, "Gentlemen, the
British are below: we must fight them tonight."

He immediately ordered his troops forward. He had made a soldier of
everybody who could carry a gun, and his little army was a curiously
mixed collection of men. There were a few regulars, in uniform; there
were some Mississippi troopers, and Coffee's Kentucky and Tennessee
hunters, in hunting-shirts and jeans trousers; there were volunteers of
all sorts from the streets of New Orleans--merchants, lawyers, laborers,
clerks, and clergymen--armed with shot-guns, rifles, and old muskets;
there were some criminals whom Jackson had released from prison on
condition that they would fight; there was a battalion of free negroes,
who were good soldiers; and, finally, there were about twenty Choctaw


With this mixed crowd Jackson had to fight the very best troops in the
British army. Only about half of his men had ever heard a bullet
whistle, and less than half of them were drilled and disciplined; but
they were brave men who believed in their general, and they were about
to fight for their country as brave men should. When all were
counted--backwoodsmen, regulars, city volunteers, negroes, Indians, and
all--the whole army numbered only 2131 men! But, weak as this force was,
Jackson had made up his mind to fight with it. He knew that the British
were too strong for him, but he knew too that every day would make them
stronger, as more and more of their troops would come forward each day.

The British camp was nine miles below the city, on a narrow strip of
land between the river and a swamp. Jackson sent a gun-boat, the
_Carolina_, down the river, with orders to anchor in front of the camp
and pour a fire of grape-shot into it. He sent Coffee across to the
swamp, and ordered him to creep through the bushes, and thus get upon
the right flank of the British. He kept the rest of his army under his
own command, ready to advance from the front upon the enemy's position.

But no attack was to be made until after dark. The army was kept well
out of sight, and the British had no suspicion that any attack was
thought of. They did not regard Jackson's men as soldiers at all, but
called them a _posse comitatus_ of ragamuffins--that is to say, a mob of
ragged citizens--and the most they expected such a mob to do was to wait
somewhere below the city until the British soldiers should get ready to
drive them away with a few volleys.

So the British lighted their camp-fires, stacked their arms for the
night, and cooked their suppers. They meant to stay where they were for
a day or two until the rest of their force could come up, and then they
expected to march into the town and make themselves at home.

Night came on, and it was exceedingly dark. At half-past seven o'clock
there came a flash and a roar. The _Carolina_, lying in the river,
within a few hundred yards of the camp, had begun to pour her broadsides
into the British quarters. Her cannon vomited fire, and sent a
hail-storm of grape-shot into the camp, while the marines on board kept
up a steady fire of small-arms.

The British were completely surprised, but they were cool-headed old
soldiers, who were not to be scared by a surprise. They quickly formed a
line on the bank, and, bringing up some cannon, gave battle to the saucy

For ten minutes this fight went on between the Americans on the river
and the British on shore; then Jackson ordered his troops to advance.
His columns rushed forward and fell upon the enemy, again surprising
them, and forcing them to fight on two sides at once. Coffee, who was
hidden over in the swamp, no sooner heard the roar of the _Carolina's_
guns than he gave the word to advance, and, rushing out of the bushes,
his rough Tennesseeans and Kentuckians attacked still another side of
the enemy's position.

Still the sturdy British held their ground, and fought like the brave
men and good soldiers that they were. It was too dark for anybody to see
clearly what was going on. The lines on both sides were soon broken up
into independent groups of soldiers, who could not see in what direction
they were marching, or maintain anything like a regular fight. Regiments
and battalions wandered about at their own discretion, fighting whatever
bodies of the enemy they met, and sometimes getting hopelessly entangled
with each other. Never was there so complete a jumble on a battle-field.
Whenever two bodies of troops met, they had to call out to each other to
find out whether they were friends or foes; then, if one body proved to
be Americans and the other British, they delivered a volley, and rushed
upon each other in a desperate struggle for mastery.

Sometimes a regiment would win success in one direction, and just as its
enemy on that side was driven back, it would be attacked from the
opposite quarter. Coffee's men were armed with squirrel rifles, which,
of course, had no bayonets; but the men had their long hunting-knives,
and with no better weapons than these they did not hesitate to make
charge after charge upon the lines of gleaming bayonets.

The British suffered terribly from the first, but their steadiness was
never lost for a moment. The mad onset of the Americans broke their
lines, and in the darkness it was impossible to form them again
promptly; but still the men kept up the fight, while the officers, as
rapidly as they could, directed their detached columns towards protected

Retreating slowly and in as good order as they could, the British got
beyond the range of the _Carolina's_ guns by nine o'clock, and, finding
a position where a bank of earth served for a breastwork, they made a
final stand there. It was impossible to drive them from such a position,
and so, little by little, the Americans withdrew, and at ten o'clock
the Battle in the Dark was at an end.

Now let us see what Jackson had gained or lost by this hasty attack. The
British were still in a position to threaten New Orleans. They had not
been driven away, and the rest of their large army, which had not yet
come up, was hurrying forward to help them. They had lost a great many
more men than Jackson had, but they could spare men better than he
could, and they were not whipped by any means. Still, the attack was
equal to a victory for the Americans. It is almost certain that if
Jackson had waited another day before fighting he would have lost New
Orleans, and the whole Southwest would have been overrun.

But, by making this night attack, he showed the British that he could
and would fight; and they, finding what kind of a defence he meant to
make, made up their minds to move slowly and cautiously. They waited for
the rest of their force to come up, and while they were waiting and
getting ready Jackson had more than two weeks' time in which to collect
troops from the country north of him, to get arms and ammunition, and to
throw up strong fortifications. When the British made their grand attack
on the 8th of January, 1815, they found Jackson ready for them. His army
was increased, his men were full of confidence, and, best of all, he had
a line of strong earth-works to fight behind. It is commonly said that
his fortifications were made of cotton-bales, but that is an error. When
he first began to fortify, he used some cotton-bales, and some sugar,
which, it was thought, would do instead of sand; but in some of the
early skirmishes it was found that the sugar was useless, because it
would not stop cannon-balls; while the cotton was worse, because it took
fire, and nearly suffocated the men behind it with smoke. The cotton and
sugar were at once thrown aside, and the battle of New Orleans was
fought behind earth-works. In that battle the British were so badly
worsted that they gave up all idea of taking New Orleans, which, a month
before, they had believed it would be so easy to capture.


Philip van Artevelde was a Dutchman. His father, Jacob, had been
Governor of Ghent, and had made himself a great name by leading a revolt
against the Count of Flanders, and driving that tyrant out of the
country on one occasion.

Philip was a quiet man, who attended to his own affairs and took no part
in public business; but in the year 1381 the good people of Ghent found
themselves in a very great difficulty. Their city was subject to the
Count of Flanders, who oppressed them in every way. He and his nobles
thought nothing of the common people, but taxed them heavily and
interfered with their business.

The city of Bruges was the rival of Ghent, and in those days rivals in
trade were enemies. The Bruges people were not satisfied with trying to
make more money and get more business than Ghent could, but they wanted
Ghent destroyed, and so they supported Count Louis in all that he did to
injure their neighboring city.

Having this quarrel on their hands, the Ghent people did not know what
to do. Count Louis was too strong for them, and they were very much
afraid he would destroy their town and put the people to death.

A public meeting was held, and remembering how well old Jacob van
Artevelde had served them against the father of Count Louis, they made
his son Philip their captain, and told him he must manage this quarrel
for them.

Philip undertook this duty, and tried to settle the trouble in some
peaceable way; but the Count was angry, and would not listen to anything
that Van Artevelde proposed. He said the Ghent people were rebels, and
must submit without any conditions at all, and this the sturdy Ghent
burghers refused to do.

Count Louis would not march against the town and give the people a fair
chance to fight the matter out. He preferred to starve them, and for
that purpose he put soldiers on all the roads leading towards Ghent, and
refused to allow any provisions to be taken to the city.

The people soon ate up nearly all the food they had, and when the spring
of 1382 came they were starving. Something must be done at once, and
Philip van Artevelde decided that it was of no use to resist any longer.
He took twelve deputies with him, and went to beg the Count for mercy.
He offered to submit to any terms the Count might propose, if he would
only promise not to put any of the people to death. Philip even offered
himself as a victim, agreeing that the Count should banish him from the
country as a punishment, if he would spare the people of the town. But
the haughty Count would promise nothing. He said that all the people of
Ghent from fifteen to sixty years old must march half-way to Bruges
bareheaded, with no clothes on but their shirts, and each with a rope
around his neck, and then he would decide how many of them he would put
to death and how many he would spare.

The Count thought the poor Ghent people would have to submit to this,
and he meant to put them all to death when they should thus come out
without arms to surrender. He therefore called on his vassals to meet
him in Bruges at Easter, and to go out with him to "destroy these
troublesome burghers."

But the "troublesome burghers," as we shall see presently, were not the
kind of men to walk out bareheaded, with ropes around their necks, and
submit to destruction.

Philip van Artevelde returned sadly to Ghent, on the 29th of April, and
told the people what the Count had said. Then the gallant old soldier
Peter van den Bossche exclaimed:

"In a few days the town of Ghent shall be the most honored or the most
humbled town in Christendom."

Van Artevelde called the burghers together, and told them what the
situation was. There were 30,000 people in Ghent, and there was no food
to be had for them. There was no hope that the Count would offer any
better terms, or that anybody would come to their assistance. They must
decide quickly what they would do, and Philip said there were three
courses open to them. First, if they chose, they could wall up the gates
of the town and die of starvation. Secondly, they could accept the
Count's terms, march out with the ropes around their necks, and take
whatever punishment the Count might put upon them. If they should decide
to do that, Philip said he would offer himself to the Count to be hanged
first. Thirdly, they could get together 5000 of their best men, march to
Bruges, and fight the quarrel out.

The answer of the people was that Philip must decide for them, and he at
once said, "Then we will fight."

The 5000 men were got together, and on the 1st of May they marched out
of the town to win or lose the desperate battle. The priests of the
city stood at the gates as the men marched out, and prayed for blessings
upon them. The old men, the women, and the children cried out, "If you
lose the battle you need not return to Ghent, for you will find your
families dead in their homes."

The only food there was for these 5000 men was carried in five little
carts, while on another cart two casks of wine were taken.

The next day Van Artevelde placed his little army in line on the common
of Beverhoutsveld, at Oedelem, near Bruges. There was a marsh in front
of them, and Van Artevelde protected their flank by a fortification
consisting of the carts and some stakes driven into the ground. He then
sent a messenger to the Count, begging him to pardon the people of
Ghent, and, having done this, he ordered his men to go to sleep for the

At daybreak the next morning the little army was aroused to make final
preparations for the desperate work before them. The priests exhorted
the men to fight to the death, showing them how useless it would be to
surrender or to run away, as they were sure to be put to death at any
rate. Their only hope for life was in victory, and if they could not win
that, it would be better to die fighting like men than to surrender and
be put to death like dogs.

After these exhortations were given, seven gray friars said mass and
gave the sacrament to all the soldiers. Then the five cart-loads of
provisions and the two casks of wine were divided among the men, for
their last breakfast. When that meal was eaten, the soldiers of Ghent
had not an ounce of food left anywhere.

Meanwhile the Count called his men together in Bruges, and got them
ready for battle; but the people of Bruges were so sure of easily
destroying the little Ghent army that they would not wait for orders,
but marched out shouting and singing and making merry.


As their column marched along the road in this noisy fashion, the
"troublesome burghers" of Ghent suddenly sprang upon them, crying,
"Ghent! Ghent!"

The charge was so sudden and so fierce that the Bruges people gave way,
and fled in a panic towards the town, with Van Artevelde's men at their
heels in hot pursuit. The Count's regular troops tried to make a stand,
but the burghers of Ghent came upon them so furiously that they too
became panic-stricken and fled. The Count himself ran with all his
might, and as soon as he entered the city he ordered the gates to be
shut. He was so anxious to save himself from the fury of Van Artevelde's
soldiers that he wanted to close the gates at once and leave those of
his own people who were still outside to their fate. But it was already
too late. Van Artevelde's column had followed the retreating crowd so
fast that it had already pushed its head into the town, and there was no
driving it back. The five thousand "troublesome burghers," with their
swords in their hands, and still crying "Ghent!" swarmed into Bruges,
and quickly took possession of the town. The Count's army was utterly
routed and scattered, and the Count himself would have been taken
prisoner if one of the Ghent burghers had not hidden him and helped him
to escape from the city.

Van Artevelde's soldiers, who had eaten the last of their food that
morning in the belief that they would never eat another meal on earth,
supped that night on the richest dishes that Bruges could supply; and
now that the Count was overthrown, great wagon trains of provisions
poured into poor, starving Ghent.

There was a great golden dragon on the belfry of Bruges, of which the
Bruges people were very proud. That dragon had once stood on the Church
of St. Sophia in Constantinople, and the Emperor Baldwin had sent it as
a present to Bruges. In token of their victory Van Artevelde's
"troublesome burghers" took down the golden dragon and carried it to



In the old times, when people were in the habit of fighting each other
about their religion, the little French seaport Rochelle was called "the
city of refuge." The Huguenots, or French Protestants, held the place,
and when the armies of the French king tried to take it, in the latter
part of the sixteenth century, they were beaten off and so badly used in
the fight that the king was glad to make terms with the townspeople.

An agreement was therefore made that they should have their own
religion, and manage their own affairs; and to make sure of this the
king gave Rochelle so many special rights that it became almost a free
city. After that, whenever a Protestant in any part of France found that
he could not live peaceably in his own home, he went to Rochelle, and
that is the way the place came to be called the city of refuge.

For a good many years the people of Rochelle went on living quietly.
They had a fine harbor of their own, their trade was good, and they were
allowed to manage their own affairs. At last the new King of France made
up his mind that he would not have two religions in his country, but
would make everybody believe as he did. This troubled the people of
Rochelle, but the king sent them word that he only meant to make them
change their religion by showing them that his was better, and that he
did not intend to trouble them in any way.

In those days promises of that kind did not count for much; but the
king's prime-minister, Cardinal Richelieu, who really managed
everything, knew very well that Rochelle could give a great deal of
trouble if it chose, and so, perhaps, he really would have let the town
alone if it had not been for the meddling of the English prime-minister,

This Buckingham, with an English fleet and army, sailed into the harbor
of Rochelle in the middle of July, 1627, and undertook to help the
people against the French king. If Buckingham had been either a soldier
or a sailor, he might have made himself master of the French king's
forts near Rochelle at once; but, although he had command of a fleet and
an army, he really knew nothing about the business of a commander, and
he blundered so badly that the generals of the French king got fresh
troops and provisions into the forts, and were able to hold them in
spite of all that the English could do.

Seeing how matters stood, Richelieu at once sent an army to surround
Rochelle, and at daylight on the 10th of August the people found a
strong force in front of the town. Rochelle had not made up its mind to
join the English, and the magistrates sent word to the French general
that they wanted peace. They said they were loyal to the French king,
and even offered to help drive the English away, if their king would
promise not to break the treaty that had been made with them many years

It was too late to settle the matter in that way, however. The French
general meant to make the town surrender, and so, while the English were
fighting to get control of the island of Rhé, at some distance from the
town, he began to build works around Rochelle. His plan was to shut the
people up in the city and cut off their supplies of food; and when the
Rochelle folk saw what he was doing, they opened fire on his men.

The war was now begun, and the Huguenots made terms with Buckingham,
hoping, with his help, to win in the struggle. Buckingham promised to
help them, and he did try to do so in his blundering way; but he did
them more harm than good, for when he found that he could not take the
forts he sailed away, taking with him three hundred tons of grain, which
he ought to have sent into the town.

It was November when the English left, and Rochelle was in a very bad
situation. Richelieu set to work to shut the town in and seal it up. He
built strong works all around the land side, and then, with great
labor, brought earth and stones and built a mole, or strip of land,
nearly all the way across the mouth of the harbor, so that no boats
could pass in or out.


The situation was a terrible one, but the people of Rochelle were brave,
and had no thought of flinching. They chose the mayor, Guiton, for their
commander, and when he accepted the office he laid his dagger on the
table, saying: "I will thrust that dagger into the heart of the first
man who speaks of giving up the town." He then went to work to defend
the place. He strengthened the works, and made soldiers of all the men
in the city, and all the boys, too, for that matter. Everybody who could
handle a weapon of any kind had to take his place in the ranks. England
had promised to send help, and the only question, Guiton thought, was
whether or not he could hold out till the help should come; so he laid
his plans to resist as long as possible.

The French in great numbers stormed the defences time after time; but
the brave Rochellese always drove them back with great loss. It was
clear from the first that Guiton would not give way, and that no column,
however strong, could force the city gates. But there was an enemy
inside the town which was harder to fight than the one outside. There
was famine in Rochelle! The cattle were eaten up, and the horses went
next. Then everything that could be turned into food was carefully used
and made to go as far as it would. Guiton stopped every kind of waste;
but day by day the food supply grew smaller, and the people grew weaker
from hunger. Starvation was doing its work. Every day the list of deaths
grew longer, and when people met in the streets they stared at each
other with lean, white, hungry faces, wondering who would be the next to

Still these heroic people had no thought of giving up. They were
fighting for liberty, and they loved that more than life. The French
were daily charging their works, but could not move the stubborn,
starving Rochellese.

The winter dragged on slowly. Spring came, and yet no help had come
from England. In March the French, thinking that the people must be worn
out, hurled their heaviest columns against the lines; but, do what they
would, they could not break through anywhere, and had to go back to
their works, and wait for famine to conquer a people who could not be
conquered by arms.

One morning in May an English fleet was seen outside the mole. The news
ran through the town like wildfire. Help was at hand, and the poor
starving people were wild with joy. Men ran through the streets shouting
and singing songs of thanksgiving. They had borne terrible sufferings,
but now help was coming, and they were sure that their heroic endurance
would not be thrown away. Thousands of their comrades had fallen
fighting, and thousands of their women and children had starved to
death; but what was that if, after all, Rochelle was not to lose her

Alas! their hope was a vain one, and their joy soon turned to sorrow.
The English fleet did nothing. It hardly tried to do anything; but
after lying within sight of the town for a while it sailed away again
and left Rochelle to its fate.

Richelieu was sure that Guiton would surrender now, and so he sent a
messenger to say that he would spare the lives of all the people if the
town were given up within three days. But the gallant Guiton was not
ready even yet to give up the struggle. "Tell Cardinal Richelieu," he
said to the messenger, "that we are his very obedient servants;" and
that was all the answer he had to make.

When the summer came some food was grown in the city gardens, but this
went a very little way among so many people, and the famine had now
grown frightful. The people gathered all the shellfish they could find
at low tide. They ate the leaves off the trees, and even the grass of
the gardens and lawns was used for food. Everything that could in any
way help to support life was consumed; everything that could be boiled
into the thinnest soup was turned to account; everything that could be
chewed for its juice was used to quiet the pains of fierce hunger; but
all was not enough. Men, women, and children died by thousands. Every
morning when the new guard went to take the place of the old one many of
the sentinels were found dead at their posts from starvation.

Still the heroic Guiton kept up the fight, and nobody dared say anything
to him about giving up. He still hoped for help from England, and meant
to hold out until it should come, cost what it might. In order that the
soldiers might have a little more to eat, and live and fight a little
longer, he turned all the old people and those who were too weak to
fight out of the town. The French would not let these poor wretches pass
their lines, but made an attack on them, and drove them back towards
Rochelle. But Guiton would not open the city gates to them. He said they
would starve to death if he let them into Rochelle, and they might as
well die outside as inside the gates.

At last news came that the English had made a treaty with the French,
and so there was no longer any hope of help for Rochelle, and truly the
place could hold out no longer. The famine was at its worst. Out of
about thirty thousand people only five thousand were left alive, and
they were starving; of six hundred Englishmen who had stayed to help the
Rochellese all were dead but sixty-two. Corpses lay thick in the
streets, for the people were too weak, from fasting, even to bury their
dead. The end had come. On the 30th of October, 1628, after nearly
fifteen months of heroic effort and frightful suffering, Rochelle

Richelieu at once sent food into the town, and treated the people very
kindly; but he took away all the old rights and privileges of the city.
He pulled down all the earth-works used by the defenders of the place,
and gave orders that nobody should build even a garden fence anywhere
near the town. He made a law that no Protestant who was not already a
citizen of Rochelle should go thither to live, and that the "city of
refuge" should never again receive any stranger without a permit from
the king.


London took a holiday on the 16th of July, 1377. There were processions
of merry-makers in the streets, and the windows were crowded with gayly
dressed men, women, and children. The great lords, glittering in armor,
and mounted upon splendid steel-clad horses, marched through the town.
The bishops and clergymen in gorgeous robes made a more solemn, but not
less attractive show. The trade-guilds were out in their best clothing,
bearing the tools of their trades instead of arms. Clowns in motley,
merry-makers of all kinds, great city dignitaries, lords and
commons--everybody, in short, made a mad and merry holiday; and at night
the houses were illuminated, and great bonfires were lighted in the

All England was wild with joy; but the happiest person in the land was
Richard Plantagenet, a boy eleven years of age. Indeed, it was for this
boy's sake and in his honor that all this feasting and merry-making went
on, for on that day young Richard was crowned King of England; and in
those times a king of England was a much more important person than now,
because the people had not then learned to govern themselves, and the
king had powers which Englishmen would not allow any man to have in our

Richard was too young to govern wisely, and so a council was appointed
to help him until he should grow up; but in the meantime he was a real
king, boy as he was, and it is safe to say that he was the happiest boy
in England on that July day, when all London took a holiday in his

But if he had known what this crowning was to lead to, young Richard
might have been very glad to change places with any baker's or butcher's
boy in London. The boy king had some uncles and cousins who were very
great people, and who gave him no little trouble after a while. He had
wars on his hands, too, and needed a great deal more money than the
people were willing to give him; and so, when he grew older and took the
government into his own hands, he found troubles all around him. The
Irish people rebelled frequently; the Scotch were hostile; there was
trouble with Spain because Richard's uncle wanted to become king of that
country, and there was a standing war with France.

But this was not all. In order to carry on these wars the king was
obliged to have money; and when he ordered taxes to be collected the
common people, led by Wat Tyler, rose in rebellion. They marched into
London, seized the Tower, and put to death the treasurer of the kingdom,
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other persons high in the
government. Tyler was so insolent one day that the Lord Mayor of London
killed him; but the boy king, who was only sixteen years old, seeing
that the rebels were too strong for him, put himself at their head, and
marched with them out of the city; and so the king, against whom the
rebellion was made, became the leader of the rebels. As soon as matters
grew quiet, however, he broke all the promises he had made, and punished
the chief rebels very harshly.

Not long after this one of the king's uncles made himself master of the
kingdom by force, and it was several years before Richard could put him
out of power.

But the greatest of all Richard's troubles were yet to come. His cousin,
Henry Bolingbroke, the son of old John of Gaunt, had misbehaved, and
Richard had sent him out of England, not to return for ten years. But
while Richard was in Ireland putting down a rebellion there, Henry came
back to England, raised an army, and was joined by many of the most
powerful men in the kingdom. When Richard came back from Ireland Henry
made him a prisoner, and not long afterwards the great men made up their
minds to set up Henry as the king instead of Richard. They made Richard
sign a paper giving up his right to the crown, and then, to make the
matter sure, Parliament passed a law that Richard should be king no

Richard was only thirty-three years old when all this was done, but
after so many troubles he might well have been glad to give up his
kingship, if that had been the end of the matter. But a king who has
been set aside is always a dangerous man to have in the kingdom, and it
would not do to let Richard go free. He might gather his friends around
him and give trouble. So it was decided that the unfortunate man should
be shut up in a prison for the rest of his life.

But even this was not the worst of the matter. Richard had a wife--Queen
Isabella--whom he loved very dearly, and if the two could have gone away
together into some quiet place to live, they might still have been happy
in spite of being under guard all the time. But the new king would not
have it so. He gave orders that Richard should be shut up closely in a
prison, and that Isabella should go back to France, where Richard had
married her.

This was a terrible thing for the young man and his younger wife, who
might have had a long life of happiness still before them if Richard
had never been a king. But Richard had been King of England, and so he
had to give up both his freedom and his wife.

In his play of "King Richard the Second" Shakespeare makes a very
touching scene of their parting. In the play their farewell takes place
in the street, as shown in our picture. Isabella, anxious to see her
husband once more before they part forever, waits at a point which she
knows he must pass on his way to prison. There they meet and talk
together for the last time on earth. The words which Shakespeare puts
into their mouths are terribly sad, but very beautiful. You will find
the scene at the beginning of Act V. of the play. The picture shows the
two at the moment when Richard moves away to his prison, leaving
Isabella to mourn for him in a nunnery for the rest of her life.

It is not certainly known what became of Richard after he was taken to
prison. It is believed that he was murdered there--perhaps starved to
death--but there is a story that he got away and lived in Scotland,
dying there in 1419. It is not at all likely that the story is true,
however, and the common belief has always been that he died or was
killed in Pontefract Castle, where he was imprisoned.


However that may be, Richard's life was a terribly unhappy one, and all
his sorrows grew out of the fact that he was a king. If he could have
looked forward on that July day when the people were making merry in his
honor, and could have known all that was to happen to him, instead of
being the happiest boy in England on his coronation day, he would have
been the most wretched.



When the British marched up from Savannah and took Charleston, in the
spring of 1780, they thought the Revolution was at an end in the
Southern States, and it really seemed so. Even the patriots thought it
was useless to resist any longer, and so when the British ordered all
the people to come together at different places and enrol themselves as
British subjects, most of them were ready to do it, simply because they
thought they could not help themselves.

Only a few daring men here and there were bold enough to think of
refusing, and but for them the British could have set up the royal power
again in South Carolina, and then they would have been free to take
their whole force against the patriots farther north. The fate of the
whole country depended, to a large extent, upon the courage of the few
men who would not give up even at such a time, but kept up the fight
against all odds. These brave men forced the British to keep an army in
the South which they needed farther north.

The credit of beginning this kind of partisan warfare belongs chiefly to
two or three plain men, who did it simply because they loved their
country more than their ease.

The man who first began it was Justice Gaston--a white-haired patriot
who lived on a little stream called Fishing Creek, near Rocky Mount. He
was eighty years of age, and might well have thought himself too old to
care about war matters; but he was a brave man and a patriot, and the
people who lived near him were in the habit of taking his advice and
doing as he did.

When the news came that Tarleton had killed a band of patriots under
Colonel Buford in cold blood Justice Gaston called his nine sons and
many of his nephews around him. Joining hands, these young men promised
each other that they never would take the British oath, and never would
give up the cause, come what might.

Soon afterwards a British force came to the neighborhood, and all the
people were ordered to meet at Rocky Mount to enrol their names and take
the oath. One of the British officers went to see Justice Gaston, and
tried to persuade him that it was folly to refuse. He knew that if
Gaston advised the people to give up, there would be no trouble; but the
white-haired patriot told him to his face that he would never take the
oath himself or advise anybody else to do so.

As soon as the officer left the old man sent for his friends, and about
thirty brave fellows met at his house that night, with their rifles in
their hands. They knew there would be a strong force of British and
Tories at Rocky Mount the next day, but, in spite of the odds against
them, they made up their minds to attack the place, and when the time
came they did so. Creeping through the woods, they suddenly came upon
the crowd, and after a sharp fight sent the British flying
helter-skelter in every direction. This stopped the work of enrolling
the people as British subjects, and it did more than that. It showed the
patriots through the whole country that they could still give the
British a great deal of trouble, and after this affair many of the men
who had thought of giving up rubbed up their rifles instead, and formed
little bands of fighting men to keep the war going.

Another man who did much to stir up partisan warfare was the Rev.
William Martin, an old and pious preacher in the Scotch-Irish
settlements. These Scotch-Irish were very religious people, and their
preacher was their leader in all things. One Sunday, after the news had
come to the settlement that Buford's men had been killed by the British
in cold blood, the eloquent old man went into his pulpit and preached
about the duty of fighting. In the afternoon he preached again, and even
when the service was over he went on in the open air, still preaching to
the people how they should fight for their country, until all the men
in the settlement were full of fighting spirit. The women told the men
to go and do their duty, and that they would take care of the crops.

These little bands of patriots were too small to fight regular battles,
or even to hold strong posts. They had to hide in the woods and swamps,
and only came out when they saw a chance to strike a blow. Then the blow
fell like lightning, and the men who dealt it quickly hid themselves

They had signs by which they told each other what they were going to do.
A twig bent down, a few stones strung along a path, or any other of a
hundred small signs, served to tell every patriot when and where to meet
his friends. A man riding about, breaking a twig here and there, or
making some other sign of the kind, could call together a large force at
a chosen spot within a few hours. The men brought out in this way would
fall suddenly upon some stray British force that was off its guard, and
utterly destroy it. The British would at once send a strong body of
troops to punish the daring patriots, but the redcoat leader would look
in vain for anybody to punish. The patriots could scatter and hide as
quickly as they could come together.


Finding that they could not destroy these patriot companies, the British
and Tories took their revenge on women and children. They burned the
houses of the patriots, carried off their crops, and killed their
cattle, so as to starve their families; but the women were as brave us
the men, and from first to last not one of them ever wished her husband
or son to give up the fight.

If the patriots could not conquer the British, they at least kept them
in a hornets' nest. If they could not drive them out of South Carolina,
they could keep them there, which was nearly as good a thing to do,
because every soldier that Cornwallis had to keep in the South would
have been sent to some other part of the country to fight the Americans
if the Carolinians had let the British alone.

In this way small bands of resolute men kept Cornwallis busy, and held
the state for the American cause, until General Greene went south and
took command. Greene was one of the greatest of the American generals,
and after a long campaign he drove the British out of the state. But if
it had not been for the partisans the South would have been lost long
before he could be spared to go there; and if the partisans had not kept
a British army busy there, it might have gone very hard with the
Americans in the rest of the country.

When we rejoice in the freedom of our country we ought not to forget how
much we owe the partisans, and especially such men as Justice Gaston and
the Rev. William Martin, who first set the partisans at their work. It
would have been much easier and pleasanter for them to remain quiet
under British rule; and they had nothing to gain for themselves, but
everything to lose, by the course they took. Gaston knew that his home
would be burned for what he did, and the eloquent old Scotch preacher
knew that he would be put into a prison-pen for preaching war sermons
to his people; but they were not men to flinch. They cared more for
their country than for themselves, and it was precisely that kind of men
throughout the land, from New England to Georgia, who won liberty for us
by seven years of hard fighting and terrible suffering.



A terrible bit of news was carried from mouth to mouth through the
region that is now Alabama at the beginning of September, 1813. The
country was at that time in the midst of the second war with Great
Britain, and for a long time British agents had been trying to persuade
the Creeks--a powerful nation of half-civilized but very warlike Indians
who lived in Alabama--to join in the war and destroy the white
settlements in the Southwest.

For some time the Creeks hesitated, and it was uncertain what they would
do. But during the summer of 1813 they broke out in hostility, and on
the 30th of August their great leader, Weatherford, or the Red Eagle, as
they called him, stormed Fort Mims, the strongest fort in the Southwest.
He took the fort by surprise, with a thousand warriors behind him, and,
after five hours of terrible fighting, destroyed it, killing about five
hundred men, women, and children.

This was the news that startled the settlers in the region where the
Alabama and Tombigbee rivers come together. It was certain, after such a
massacre as that, that the Indians meant to destroy the settlements, and
kill all the white people without mercy.

In order to protect themselves and their families the settlers built
rude forts by setting pieces of timber endwise in the ground, and the
people hurried to these places for safety. Leaving their homes to be
burned, their crops to be destroyed, and their cattle to be killed or
carried off by the Indians, the settlers hastily got together what food
they could, and took their families into the nearest forts.

One of the smallest of these stockade forts was called Sinquefield. It
stood in what is now Clarke County, Alabama, and, as that region was
very thinly settled, there were not enough men to make a strong force
for the defence of the fort. But the brave farmers and hunters thought
they could hold the place, and so they took their families thither as
quickly as they could.

Two families, numbering seventeen persons, found it was not easy to go
to Sinquefield on the 2d of September, and so, as they were pretty sure
that there were no Indians in their neighborhood as yet, they made up
their minds to stay one more night at a house a few miles from the fort.
That night they were attacked, and all but five of them were killed.
Those who got away carried the news of what had happened to the fort,
and a party was sent out to bring in the bodies.

The next day all the people in Fort Sinquefield went out to bury their
dead friends in a valley at some little distance from the fort, and,
strange as it seems, they took no arms with them. Believing that there
were no Indians near the place, they left the gates of the fortress
open, and went out in a body without their guns.

As a matter of fact there was a large body of Indians not only very
near them, but actually looking at them all the time. The celebrated
Prophet Francis was in command, and in his sly way he had crept as near
the fort as possible to look for a good chance to attack it. Making his
men lie down and crawl like snakes, he had reached a point only a few
hundred yards from the stockade without alarming the people, and now,
while they stood around the graves of their friends without arms to
defend themselves with, a host of their savage enemies lay looking at
them from the grass and bushes on the hill.

As soon as he saw that the right moment had come, Francis sprang up with
a savage war-cry, and at the head of his warriors made a dash at the
gates. He had seen that the men outside were unarmed, and his plan was
to get to the gates before they could reach them, and thus get all the
people of the place at his mercy in an open field and without arms to
fight with.

The fort people were quick to see what his purpose was, and the men
hurried forward with all their might, hoping to reach the fort before
the savages could get there. By running at the top of their speed they
did this, and closed the gates in time to keep the Indians out. But, to
their horror, they then saw that their wives and children were shut out
too. Unable to run so fast as the men had done, the women and children
had fallen behind, and now the Indians were between them and the gates!

Seeing that he had missed his chance of getting possession of the fort,
Francis turned upon the women and children with savage delight in the
thought of butchering these helpless creatures in the sight of their
husbands, fathers, and brothers.

It was a moment of terror. There were not half enough white men in the
fort to master so large a force of Indians, and if there had been it was
easy to see that by the time they could get their rifles and go to the
rescue it would be too late.

At that moment the hero of this bit of history came upon the scene. This
was a young man named Isaac Haden. He was a notable huntsman, who kept
a famous pack of hounds--fierce brutes, thoroughly trained to run down
and seize any live thing that their master chose to chase. This young
man had been out in search of stray cattle, and just at the moment when
matters were at their worst he rode up to the fort, followed by his
sixty dogs.

Isaac Haden had a cool head and a very daring spirit. He was in the
habit of taking in a situation at a glance, deciding quickly what was to
be done, and then doing it at any risk that might be necessary. As soon
as he saw how the women and children were placed, he cried out to his
dogs, and, at the head of the bellowing pack, charged upon the flank of
the Indians. The dogs did their work with a spirit equal to their
master's. For each to seize a red warrior and drag him to earth was the
work of a moment, and the whole body of savages was soon in confusion.
For a time they had all they could do to defend themselves against the
unlooked-for assault of the fierce animals, and before they could beat
off the dogs the men of the fort came out and joined in the attack, so
that the women and children had time to make their way inside the gates,
only one of them, a Mrs. Phillips, having been killed.

The men, of course, had to follow the women closely, as they were much
too weak in numbers to risk a battle outside. If they had done so the
Indians would have overcome them quickly, and then the fort and
everybody in it would have been at their mercy, so the settlers hurried
into the fort as soon as the women were safe.

But the hero who had saved the people by his quickness and courage was
left outside, and not only so, but the savages were between him and the
fort. He had charged entirely through the war party, and was now beyond
their line, alone, and with no chance of help from any quarter.

His hope of saving himself was very small indeed; but he had saved all
those helpless women and little children, and he was a brave enough
fellow to die willingly for such a purpose as that if he must. But brave
men do not give up easily, and young Haden did not mean to die without a
last effort to save himself.


Blowing a loud blast upon his hunting-horn to call his remaining dogs
around him, he drew his pistols--one in each hand--and plunged spurs
into his horse's flanks. In spite of the numbers against him he broke
through the mass of savages, but the gallant horse that bore him fell
dead as he cleared the Indian ranks. Haden had fired both his pistols,
and had no time to load them again. He was practically unarmed now, and
the distance he still had to go before reaching the gates was
considerable. His chance of escape seemed smaller than ever, but he
quickly sprang from the saddle, and ran with all his might, hotly
pursued, and under a terrific fire from the rifles of the savages. The
gate was held a little way open for him to pass, and when he entered the
fort his nearest pursuers were so close at his heels that there was
barely time for the men to shut the gate in their faces.

Strangely enough, the brave young fellow was not hurt in any way. Five
bullets had passed through his clothes, but his skin was not broken.


Nearly all the countries in Europe were making war upon France in 1795.
The French people had set up a republic, and all the kingdoms round
about were trying to make them submit to a king again. This had been
going on for several years, and sometimes it looked as though the French
would be beaten, in spite of their brave struggles to keep their enemies
back and manage their own affairs in their own way.

At one time everything went against the French. Their armies were worn
out with fighting, their supply of guns had run short, they had no
powder, and their money matters were in so bad a state that it seemed
hardly possible for France to hold out any longer. In the meantime
England, Austria, Spain, Holland, Piedmont, and Prussia, besides many of
the small German states, had joined together to fight France, and their
armies were on every side of her.

A country in such a state as that, with so many powerful enemies on
every side, might well have given up; but the French are a brave people,
and they were fighting for their liberties. Instead of giving up in
despair, they set to work with all their might to carry on the war.

The first thing to be done was to raise new armies, and so they called
for men, and the men came forward in great numbers from every part of
the country. In a little while they had more men to make soldiers of
than had ever before been brought together in France. But this was only
a beginning. The men were not yet trained soldiers, and even if they had
been, they had no guns and no powder; no clothing was to be had, and
there was very little food for them to eat. Still the French did not

Knowing that there would not be time enough to train the new men, they
put some of their old soldiers in each regiment of new ones, so that
the new men might learn from the veterans how to march and how to

In the meantime they had set up armories, and were making guns as fast
as they could. Their greatest trouble was about powder. They had
chemists who knew how to make it, but they had no nitre to make it of,
and did not know at first how to get any. At last one of their chemists
said that there was some nitre--from a few ounces to a pound or two--in
the earth of every cellar floor; and that if all the nitre in all the
cellar floors of France could be collected, it would be enough to make
plenty of powder.

But how to get this nitre was a question. The cellar floors must be dug
up, the earth must be washed, and the water must be carefully passed
through a course of chemical treatment in order to get the nitre, free
from earth and from all other things with which it was mixed. It would
take many days for a chemist to extract the nitre from the earth of a
singly cellar, and then he would get only a pound or two of it at most.

It did not seem likely that much could be done in this way, but all the
people were anxious to help, and so the cry went up from every part of
the country, "Send us chemists to teach us how, and we will do the work
and get the nitre ourselves." This was quickly done. All the chemists
were set at work teaching the people how to get a little nitre out of a
great deal of earth, and then every family went to work. In a little
while the nitre began to come in to the powder-factories. Each family
sent its little parcel of the precious salt as a free gift to the
country. Some of them were so proud and glad of the chance to help that
they dressed their little packages of nitre in ribbons of the national
colors, and wrote patriotic words upon them. Each little parcel held
only a few ounces, or at most a pound or two, of the white salt; but the
parcels came in by tens of thousands, and in a few weeks there were
hundreds of tons of nitre at the powder-mills.

As soon as there was powder enough the new armies began to press their
enemies, and, during the summer and fall of 1794, they steadily drove
them back. When they met their foes in battle they nearly always forced
them to give way. They charged upon forts and took them at the point of
the bayonet; cities and towns everywhere fell into their hands, and by
the time that winter set in they were so used to winning battles that
nothing seemed too hard for them to undertake.

But the French soldiers were in a very bad condition to stand the cold
of winter. One great army, under General Pichegru, which had driven the
English and Dutch far into the Netherlands, was really almost naked. The
shoes of the soldiers were worn out, and so they had to wrap their feet
in wisps of straw to keep them from freezing. Many of the men had not
clothing enough to cover their nakedness, and, for decency's sake, had
to plait straw into mats which they wore around their shoulders like
blankets. They had no tents to sleep in, but, nearly naked as they were,
had to lie down in the snow or on the hard frozen ground, and sleep as
well as they could in the bitter winter weather.

There never was an army more in need of a good rest in winter-quarters,
and as two great rivers lay in front of them, it seemed impossible to do
anything more until spring. The English and Dutch were already safely
housed for the winter, feeling perfectly sure that the French could not
cross the rivers or march in any direction until the beginning of the
next summer.

The French generals, therefore, put their men into the best quarters
they could get for them, and the poor, half-naked, barefooted soldiers
were glad to think that their work for that year was done.

Day by day the weather grew colder. The ground was frozen hard, and ice
began running in the rivers. After a little while the floating ice
became so thick that the rivers were choked with it. When Christmas came
the stream nearest the French was frozen over, and three days later the
ice was so hard that the surface of the river was as firm as the solid

Then came an order from General Pichegru to shoulder arms and march. In
the bitterest weather of that terrible winter the barefooted, half-clad
French soldiers left their huts, and marched against their foes.
Crossing the first river on the ice, they fell upon the surprised Dutch
and utterly routed them. About the same time they made a dash at the
strong fortified posts along the river, and captured them.

The French were now masters of the large island that lay between the two
rivers, for they are really only two branches of one river, and the land
between them is an island. But the ice in the farther stream was not yet
hard enough to bear the weight of cannon, so Pichegru had to stay where
he was for a time. Both sides now watched the weather, the French hoping
for still harder frosts, while their enemies prayed for a thaw.

The cold weather continued, and day by day the ice became firmer. On the
8th of January, 1795, Pichegru began to cross, and on the 10th his whole
army had passed the stream, while his enemies were rapidly retreating.
He pushed forward into the country, sending his columns in different
directions to press the enemy at every point. The barefooted, half-naked
French soldiers were full of spirit, and in spite of frost and snow and
rough frozen roads they marched steadily and rapidly. City after city
fell before them, and on the 20th of January they marched into Amsterdam
itself, and were complete conquerors.

Hungry and half-frozen as they were, it would not have been strange if
these poor soldiers had rushed into the warm houses of the city and
helped themselves to food and clothing. But they did nothing of the
kind. They stacked their arms in the streets and public squares, and
quietly waited in the snow, patiently bearing the bitter cold of the
wind for several hours, while the magistrates were getting houses and
food and clothing ready for them.

This whole campaign was wonderful, and on almost every day some strange
thing happened; but, perhaps, the strangest of all the events in this
winter war was that which is shown in the picture. Pichegru, learning
that there was a fleet of the enemy's vessels lying at anchor near the
island of Texel, sent a column of cavalry, with some cannon, in that
direction, to see if anything could be done. The cavalry found the
Zuyder Zee hard frozen, and the ships firmly locked in the ice. So they
put spurs to their horses, galloped over the frozen surface of the sea,
marched up to the ships, and called on them to surrender. It was a new
thing in war for ships to be charged by men on horseback; but there the
horsemen were, with strong ice under them, and the ships could not sail
away from them. The sailors could make a fight, of course, but the
cavalry, with their cannon, were too strong for them, and so they
surrendered without a battle, and for the first time in history a body
of hussars captured a squadron of ships at anchor.




No man ever lived whose name is more honored than that of George
Washington, and no man ever deserved his fame more. All the success that
ever came to him was won by hard work. He succeeded because he was the
kind of man that he was, and not in the least because he had "a good
chance" to distinguish himself. He never owed anything to "good luck,"
nor even to a special education in the business of a soldier. Some men
are called great because they have succeeded in doing great things; but
he succeeded in doing great things because he was great in himself.

Everybody who knew him, even as a boy, seems to have respected as well
as liked him. There was something in his character which made men think
well of him. When he was only sixteen years of age Lord Fairfax admired
him to such a degree that he appointed him to a post which not many men
would have been trusted to fill. He put the boy at the head of a
surveying party, and sent him across the mountains to survey the valley
of Virginia--a vast region which was then unsettled. So well did
Washington perform this difficult and dangerous task that a few years
later, when he was only twenty-one years old, the Governor of Virginia
picked him out for a more delicate and dangerous piece of work.

The English colonies lay along the Atlantic coast, while the French held
Canada. The country west of the Alleghany Mountains, which we now know
as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc., was claimed by both the French and the
English, though only the Indians lived there. The French made friends of
the savages, and began building forts at different points in that
region, and putting soldiers there to keep the English away. The
Governor of Virginia wanted to put a stop to this, and so he resolved to
send a messenger into "the Great Woods," as the western country was
called, to warn the French off, and to win the friendship of the Indians
if possible.

For such a service he needed a man with a cool head, good sense, great
courage, and, above all, what boys call "grit;" for whoever should go
would have to make his way for many hundreds of miles through a
trackless wilderness, over mountains and rivers, and among hostile
Indians. Young Washington had already shown what stuff he was made of,
and, young as he was, he was regarded as a remarkable man. The governor
therefore picked him out as the very best person for the work that was
to be done.

It was November when Washington set out, and the weather was very cold
and wet. He took four white men and two Indians with him, the white men
being hunters who knew how to live in the woods. As the country they had
to pass through was a wilderness, they had to carry all their supplies
with them on pack-horses. They rode all day through the woods, and when
night came slept in little tents by some spring or watercourse. Day
after day they marched forward, until at last they reached an Indian
village, near the spot where Pittsburgh now stands, and there they
halted to make friends with the Indians.

This was not very easy, as the French had already had a good deal to do
with the tribes in that region; but Washington persuaded the chief,
whose name was Tanacharisson, to go with him to visit the French
commander, who was stationed in a fort hundreds of miles away, near Lake

This march, like the other, was slow and full of hardships; but at last
the fort was reached, and Washington delivered his message to the French
officer. A day or two later the Frenchman gave him his answer, which was
that the western country belonged to the French, and that they had no
notion of giving it up.

All the trouble Washington had met in going north was nothing compared
with what was before him in going back to Virginia again. The winter was
now at its worst, and the weather was terrible. The rivers and creeks
were full of floating ice, and the woods were banked high with snow. But
Washington was not to be daunted by any kind of difficulty. He set out
on his return march, and with the aid of canoes, in which his baggage
was carried down a small stream that ran in that direction, he took his
party as far as Venango, in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania.

There he found that he could go no farther on horseback. The ground was
frozen on top, but soft beneath, and the poor horses broke through the
hard crust at every step. There was a French fort at Venango, and
Washington might have waited there very comfortably for better weather;
but it was his duty to get back to Virginia as soon as possible with the
French commander's answer, and so he made up his mind to go on, even at
the risk of his life.

Leaving the rest of the party to come when they could with the horses,
Washington and a single companion named Gist set out on foot for the
long winter march. As they had no pack-horses to carry tents and
cooking-vessels and food, they had to leave everything behind except
what they could carry on their backs; and as they were obliged to take
their rifles, powder-horns, and bullet-pouches, their hunting-knives and
hatchets, and a blanket apiece, they were pretty heavily loaded, and
could not afford to burden themselves with much else.

Day by day the two brave fellows trudged on through the snow-drifts,
sleeping at night as best they could, exposed to the biting cold of the
winter, without shelter, except such as the woods afforded. There were
other dangers besides cold and hunger. At one time a treacherous Indian,
who had offered to act as guide, tried to lead the two white men into a
trap. As they suspected his purpose, they refused to do as he wished,
and a little later he suddenly turned about and shot at Washington, who
was only a few paces distant. Missing his aim, he was quickly
overpowered, and Gist wanted to kill him, not merely because he deserved
to be put to death for his treachery, but also because, if allowed to go
free, he was pretty sure to bring other hostile Indians to attack the
lonely travellers during the night.


But Washington would not have him killed. He made him build a camp-fire,
and then told him to leave them at once. The Indian did so, and as soon
as it was certain that he was out of sight and hearing the two young men
set out to make their escape. They knew the Indian would soon come back
with others, and that their only chance for life was to push on as fast
as they could. The Indians could track them in the snow, but by setting
out at once they hoped to get so far ahead that they could not be easily

It was already night, and the travellers were weary from their day's
march, but they could not afford to stop or rest. All through the night
they toiled on. Morning came, and they must have felt it nearly
impossible to drag their weary feet farther, but still they made no
halt. On and on they went, and it was not till night came again that
they thought it safe at last to stop for the rest and sleep they needed
so badly. The strain they had undergone must have been fearful. They
were already weary and wayworn when they first met the treacherous
Indian, and after that they had toiled through the snow for two days and
a night without stopping to rest or daring to refresh themselves with

Just before reaching their journey's end they arrived at the brink of a
river which they expected to find frozen over; but they found it full of
floating ice instead. Without boat or bridge, there seemed no chance of
getting across; but after a while they managed to make a rude raft, and
upon this they undertook to push themselves across with long poles.

The current was very strong, the raft was hard to manage, and the great
fields of ice forced it out of its course. In trying to push it in the
right direction, Washington missed his footing and fell into the icy
river. His situation was very dangerous, but by a hard struggle he got
upon the floating logs again. Still the current swept them along, and
they could not reach either shore of the stream.

At last they managed to leap from the logs, not to the bank, but to a
small island in the river. There they were very little better off than
on the raft. They were on land, it is true, but there was still no way
of getting to shore; and as there was nothing on the island to make a
fire with, Washington was forced, drenched as he was with ice-water, to
pass the long winter night in the open air, without so much as a tiny
blaze or a handful of coals by which to warm himself.

Unfortunately the night proved to be a very cold one, and poor Gist's
feet and hands were frozen before morning. Washington got no
frost-bites, but his sufferings must have been great.

During the night that part of the stream which lay between the island
and the shore that Washington wished to reach froze over, and in the
morning the travellers were able to renew their journey. Once across
that, the worst of their troubles were over.

Is it any wonder that a young man who did his duty in this way rapidly
rose to distinction? He was always in earnest in his work, and always
did it with all his might. He never shammed or shirked. He never let his
own comfort or his own interest stand in the way when there was a duty
to be done. He was a great man before he became a celebrated one, and
the wisest men in the country found out the fact.

When the revolution came there were other soldiers older and better
known than Washington, but there were men in Congress who had watched
his career carefully. They made him, therefore, commander-in-chief of
the American armies, knowing that nobody else was so sure to do the very
best that could be done for the country. They did not make him a great
man by appointing him to the chief command; they appointed him because
they knew he was a great man already.


Peter the Great, the emperor who, in a few years, changed Russia from a
country of half-savage tribes into a great European nation, was one day
visiting one of his officers, and saw in his house a young girl, who
attracted his attention by her beauty and her graceful manners. This
girl was a prisoner named Martha, and she was living as a sort of
servant and housekeeper in the family of the Russian officer. She had
been taken prisoner when the town she lived in was captured. Nobody
knows, even to this day, exactly who she was, except that she was a poor
orphan girl who had been brought up by a village clergyman; but it is
generally believed that her father was a Livonian peasant.

Martha's beauty and the brightness of her mind pleased the emperor so
much that, after a while, he made up his mind to marry her, in spite of
her humble origin. Peter was in the habit of doing pretty much as he
pleased, whether his nobles liked it or not; but even he dared not make
a captive peasant girl the Empress of Russia. He therefore married her
privately, in the presence of a few of his nearest friends, who were
charged to keep the secret. Before the marriage took place he had Martha
baptized in the Russian Church, and changed her name to Catherine.

Now Peter had a bad habit of losing his temper, and getting so angry
that he fell into fits. As he was an absolute monarch and could do
whatever he liked, it was very dangerous for anybody to go near him when
he was angry. He could have a head chopped off as easily as he could
order his breakfast. But he was very fond of Catherine, and she was the
only person who was not in the least afraid of him. She soon learned how
to manage him, and even in his worst fits she could soothe and quiet the
old bear.

Peter was nearly always at war, and in spite of the hardships and
dangers of the camp and battle-field Catherine always marched with him
at the head of the army. The soldiers wondered at her bravery, and
learned to like her more than anybody else. If food was scarce, the
roads rough, and the marches long, they remembered, that Catherine was
with them, and were ashamed to grumble. If she could stand the hardships
and face the dangers, they thought rough soldiers ought not to complain.

Catherine was a wise woman as well as a brave one. She soon learned as
much of the art of war as Peter knew, and in every time of doubt or
difficulty her advice was asked, and her opinion counted for as much as
if she had been one of the generals. After she had thus shown how able a
woman she was, and had won the friendship of everybody about her by her
good temper and her pleasant ways, Peter publicly announced his
marriage, and declared Catherine to be his wife and czarina. But still
he did not crown her.

This was in the year 1711, and immediately afterwards Peter marched
into the Turkish country at the head of forty thousand men. This army
was not nearly large enough to meet the Turks, but Peter had other
armies in different places, and had ordered all of them to meet him on
the march. For various reasons all these armies failed to join him, and
he found himself in a Turkish province with a very small number of
troops. The danger was so great that he ordered Catherine and all the
other women to go back to a place of safety. But Catherine would not go.
She had made up her mind to stay with Peter at the head of the army, and
was so obstinate about it that at last Peter gave her leave to remain.
Then the wives of the generals, and, finally, of the lower officers,
wanted to stay also. She persuaded Peter to let them do so, and the end
of it was that the women all stayed with the army.

Everything went against Peter on this march. The weather was very dry.
Swarms of locusts were in the country, eating every green thing. There
was no food for the horses, and many of them starved to death. It was
hard for the Russians to go forward or to go backward, and harder still
to stay where they were.

At last the soldiers in front reported that the Turks were coming, and
Peter soon saw a great army of two hundred thousand fierce Moslems in
front of his little force, which counted up only thirty-eight thousand
men. Seeing the odds against him he gave the order to retreat, and the
army began its backward march. As it neared the river Pruth a new danger
showed itself. The advance-guard brought word that a great force of
savage Crim Tartars held the other bank of the river, completely cutting
off Peter's retreat.

The state of things seemed hopeless. With two hundred thousand Turks on
one side, and a strong force of Crim Tartars holding a river on the
other, Peter's little army was completely hemmed in. There was no water
in the camp, and when the soldiers went to the river for it, the Tartars
on the other shore kept up a fierce fight with them. A great horde of
Turkish cavalry tried hard to cut off the supply entirely by pushing
themselves between Peter's camp and the river, but the Russians managed
to keep them back by hard fighting, and to keep a road open to the

Peter knew now that unless help should come to him in some shape, and
that very quickly, he must lose not only his army, but his empire also,
for if the Turks should take him prisoner, it was certain that his many
enemies would soon conquer Russia, and divide the country among
themselves. He saw no chance of help coming, but he made up his mind to
fight as long as he could. He formed his men in a hollow square, with
the women in the middle, and faced his enemies.

The Turks flung themselves in great masses upon his lines, trying to
crush the little force of Russians by mere numbers. But Peter's brave
men remembered that Catherine was inside their hollow square, and they
stood firmly at their posts, driving back the Turks with frightful
slaughter. Again and again and again they fell upon his lines in heavy
masses, and again and again and again they were driven back, leaving
the field black with their dead.

This could not go on forever, of course, and both sides saw what the end
must be. As the Turks had many times more men than Peter, it was plain
that they would, at last, win by destroying all the Russians.

For three days and nights the terrible slaughter went on. Peter's men
beat back the Turks at every charge, but every hour their line grew
thinner. At the end of the third day sixteen thousand of their brave
comrades lay dead upon the field, and only twenty-two thousand remained
to face the enemy.

Towards night on the third day a terrible rumor spread through their
camp. A whisper ran along the line that _the ammunition was giving out_.
A few more shots from each soldier's gun, and there would be nothing
left to fight with.

Then Peter fell into the sulks. As long as he could fight he had kept up
his spirits, but now that all was lost, and his great career seemed near
its end, he grew angry, and went to his tent to have one of his savage
fits. He gave orders that nobody should come near him, and there was no
officer or soldier in all the army who would have dared enter the tent
where he lay, in his dangerous mood.

But if Peter had given up in despair, Catherine had not. In spite of
Peter's order and his anger, she boldly went into his tent, and asked
him to give her leave to put an end to the war by making a treaty of
peace with the Turks, if she could. It seemed absurd to talk of such a
thing, or to expect the Turks to make peace on any terms when they had
so good a chance to conquer Peter, once for all, and to make him their
prisoner. Nobody but Catherine, perhaps, would have thought of such a
thing; but Catherine was a woman born for great affairs, and she had no
thought of giving up any chance there might be to save Peter and the

Her first difficulty was with Peter himself. She could not offer terms
of peace to the Turks until Peter gave her leave, and promised to fulfil
whatever bargain she might make with them. She managed this part of
the matter, and then set to work at the greater task of dealing with the


She knew that the Turkish army was under the command of the Grand
Vizier, and she knew something of the ways of Grand Viziers. It was not
worth while to send any kind of messenger to a Turkish commander without
sending him also a bribe in the shape of a present, and Catherine was
sure that the bribe must be a very large one to buy the peace she
wanted. But where was she to get the present? There was no money in
Peter's army-chest, and no way of getting any from Russia. Catherine was
not discouraged by that fact. She first got together all her own jewels,
and then went to all the officers' wives and asked each of them for
whatever she had that was valuable--money, jewels, and plate. She gave
each of them a receipt for what she took, and promised to pay them the
value of their goods when she should get back to Moscow. She went in
this way throughout the camp, and got together all the money, all the
jewelry, and all the silver plate that were to be found in the army. No
one person had much, of course; but when the things were collected
together, they made a very rich present, or bribe, for the Grand Vizier.

With this for a beginning, Catherine soon convinced the Turkish
commander that it was better to make peace with Russia than to run the
risk of having to fight the great armies that were already marching
towards Turkey. After some bargaining she secured a treaty which allowed
Peter to go back to Russia in safety, and thus she saved the czar and
the empire. A few years later Peter crowned her as Empress of Russia,
and when he died he named her as the fittest person to be his successor
on the throne.

Thus the peasant girl of Livonia, who was made a captive in war and a
servant, rose by her genius and courage to be the sole ruler of a great
empire--the first woman who ever reigned over Russia. It is a strange
but true story.



The first English settlement in America that came to anything was made
in the most absurd way possible. A great company of London merchants set
about the work of planting an English colony in Virginia, and they were
very much in earnest about it too; but if they had been as anxious to
have the scheme fail as they were to make it succeed, they could hardly
have done worse for it than they did in some respects.

They knew that the colonists must have something to eat and must defend
themselves against the Indians, and so it ought to have been plain to
them that the first men sent out must be stout farmers, who could cut
down trees, plough the ground, raise food enough for the people to eat,
and handle guns well, if need be. The work to be done was that of
farmers, wood-choppers, and men who could make a living for themselves
in a new country, and common-sense ought to have led the London Company
to send out nobody but men of that kind to make the first settlement.
Then, after those men had cleared some land, built some houses, and
raised their first crop, men of other kinds might have been sent as fast
as there was need for their services.

But that was not the way in which the London Company went to work. They
chose for their first settlers about the most unfit men they could have
found for such a purpose. There were one hundred and five of them in
all, and forty-eight of them--or nearly half of the whole company--were
what people in those days called "gentlemen"--that is to say, they were
the sons of rich men. They had never learned how to do any kind of work,
and had been brought up to think that a gentleman could not work without
degrading himself and losing his right to be called a gentleman. There
were a good many "servants" also in the party, and probably most of them
were brought to wait upon the gentlemen. There were very few farmers and
not many mechanics in the party, although farmers and mechanics were the
men most needed. There were some goldsmiths, who expected to work the
gold as soon as the colonists should find it, and there was a
perfume-maker. It is hard to say in what way this perfume-man was
expected to make himself useful in the work of planting a settlement in
the swamps of Virginia; but, as there were so many fine "gentlemen" in
the party, the perfumer probably thought his wares would be in demand.

None of the men brought families with them. They were single men, who
came out to this country, not to make comfortable homes for wives and
children, by hard and patient work, but to find gold and pearls, or to
grow rich in some other quick and easy way, and then to go back and live
in ease in England.

It is a wonder that such men ever succeeded in planting a settlement at
all. From the first it does not seem to have been clear to them that
they ought to raise plenty of food for themselves and learn how to live
by their own work. They expected the company in London to send them most
of their food and everything else that they needed. They had plenty of
rich land and a good climate, but they expected to be fed by people
three thousand miles away, across a great ocean.

Luckily, there was one man of sense and spirit among them--the
celebrated Captain John Smith--who got them to work a little, and, after
many hardships and two or three narrow escapes from failure, the colony
was firmly planted.

The London Company sent out ships every year with supplies and fresh
colonists; but, strange as it seems, most of the men sent were
unmarried, and even those who had wives and children left them in

When we think of it, this was a very bad way to begin the work of
settling a new country. The bachelors, of course, did not intend to
stay all their lives in a country where there were no women and
children. They meant to make some money as quickly as they could and
then go back to England to live. The married men who had left their
families behind them were in still greater haste to make what they could
and go home. In short, for a dozen years after the colony was planted,
nobody thought of it as his real home, where he meant to live out his
life. If the colonists had been married men, with wives and children in
Virginia, they would have done all they could to make the new settlement
a pleasant one to live in: they would have built good houses, set up
schools, and worked hard to improve their own fortunes and to keep order
in the colony.

But year after year the ships brought cargoes of single men to Virginia,
and the settlement was scarcely more than a camp in the woods. After the
company had been trying for a good many years to people a new country by
landing shiploads of bachelors on its shores, it began to dawn upon
their minds that if the Virginia settlement was ever to grow into a
thriving and lasting colony, there must be women and children there to
make happy homes, as well as men to raise wheat, corn, and tobacco.

Sir Edwin Sandys was the wise man who saw all this most clearly. He
urged the company to send out hard-working married men, who would take
their wives and children with them to Virginia and settle there for
good. But this was not all. There were already a great many bachelors in
the colony, and there were no young women there for them to marry. Sir
Edwin knew that if these bachelors were to stay in Virginia and become
prosperous colonists they must have a chance to marry and set up homes
of their own. So he went to work in England to get together a cargo of
sweethearts for the colonists. He persuaded ninety young women of good
character to go out in one of the company's ships, to marry young men in

The plan was an odd one, but it was managed with good sense and did well
for everybody concerned. It was agreed that the company should provide
the young women with such clothing and other things as they would need
for the voyage, and should give them free passage on board the ship.
When they landed in Virginia they were to be perfectly free to marry or
not, as they pleased. If any of them did not at once find husbands to
their liking they were to be provided for in good homes until they chose
to marry.

But no man could marry one of these young women without paying for her
in tobacco, which was used instead of money in Virginia. The girls were
not to be sold, exactly, but it was expected that each colonist who
married one of them should pay the company as much as it had spent in
bringing her across the ocean.

And the men of the colony were glad enough to do this. When the shipload
of sweethearts landed at Jamestown a large number of men who were tired
of bachelor life hurried to the wharf to get wives for themselves if
they could. They went among the young maids, introduced themselves, got
acquainted, and did all the courting that was necessary in a very
little time. The young women were honest, good, well-brought-up girls,
and among the many men there were plenty of good, industrious, and brave
fellows who wanted good wives, and so all the girls were "engaged" at
once. The men paid down one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco
apiece--for that was the price fixed upon--and, as there was nothing to
wait for, the clergymen were sent for and the weddings took place

It was an odd thing to do, of course, but the circumstances were very
unusual, and the plan of importing sweethearts by the cargo really seems
to have been a very good one. It must have been a strange sight when the
girls landed and met the men who had come to the town to woo and marry
them. And many of the girls must have felt that they took great risks in
coming three thousand miles from home and marrying men whom they had
known for so short a time; but it seems that the marriages were happy
ones, in spite of the haste in which they were made. The newly-married
pairs went to work in earnest to create good homes for themselves, and
when their English friends learned from their letters how happy and
prosperous they were, another company of sixty sweethearts set sail for
the colony and became the wives of good men.

It was in this way that the English camp at Jamestown was changed into a
real colony of people who meant to live in America and to build up a
thriving community here. Now that the men had wives and children to
provide for, they no longer lived "from hand to mouth," hoping to make a
fortune by some lucky stroke, and then to leave the colony forever. They
went to work, instead, to cultivate the land, to build good houses, to
make and save money, to educate their children, and to become prosperous
and happy in their homes. Virginia, which had been a mere stopping-place
to them, was now their own country, where their families lived and their
nearest friends were around them. There they expected to pass their
lives in efforts to better their own fortunes, and to make the country
a pleasant one for their children and grandchildren after them to live
in. They were anxious to have schools and churches, and to keep up right
standards of morals and proper manners in the colony, so that their
children might grow to be good and happy men and women.

That is the way in which the first English colony in America became
prosperous, and many of the men who afterwards became famous in the
history of the nation were the great-great-grandsons of the women whom
Sir Edwin Sandys sent out as sweethearts for the colonists.

The Pilgrims, who settled at Plymouth about the time that all this
happened, brought their families with them, and quickly made themselves
at home in America. The planting of these two colonies--the first in
Virginia and the second in Massachusetts--was the beginning from which
our great, free, and happy country, with its fifty millions of people,
has grown.


[A] For some of the materials used in this sketch I am indebted
to the work entitled "The Boyhood of Great Men," by John G. Edgar,
published by Messrs. Harper & Brothers.

Daniel Webster, the great statesman, orator, and lawyer, was born on the
18th of January, 1782.

His father lived near the head-waters of the Merrimac River, and the
only school within reach was a poor one kept open for a few months every
winter. There Webster learned all that the country schoolmaster could
teach him, which was very little; but he acquired a taste which did more
for him than the reading, writing, and arithmetic of the school. He
learned to like books, and to want knowledge; and when a boy gets really
hungry and thirsty for knowledge it is not easy to keep him ignorant.
When some of the neighbors joined in setting up a little circulating
library, young Webster read every book in it two or three times, and
even committed to memory a large part of the best of them. It was this
eagerness for education on his part that led his father afterwards to
send him to Exeter to school, and later to put him into Dartmouth

There are not many boys in our time who have not declaimed parts of
Webster's great speeches; and it will interest them to know that the boy
who afterwards made those speeches could never declaim at all while he
was at school. He learned his pieces well, and practised them in his own
room, but he could not speak them before people to save his life.

Webster was always fond of shooting and fishing, and, however hard he
studied, the people around him called him lazy and idle, because he
would spend whole days in these sports. Once, while he was studying
under Dr. Woods to prepare for college, that gentleman spoke to him on
the subject, and hurt his feelings a little. The boy went to his room
determined to have revenge, and this is the way he took to get it. The
usual Latin lesson was one hundred lines of Virgil, but Webster spent
the whole night over the book. The next morning before breakfast he went
to Dr. Woods and read the whole lesson correctly. Then he said:

"Will you hear a few more lines, doctor?"

The teacher consenting, Webster read on and on and on, while the
breakfast grew cold. Still there was no sign of the boy's stopping, and
the hungry doctor at last asked how much farther he was prepared to

"To the end of the twelfth book of the Æneid," answered the "idle" boy,
in triumph.

After that, Webster did not give up his hunting and fishing, but he
worked so hard at his lessons, and got on so fast, that there was no
further complaint of his "idleness." He not only learned the lessons
given to him, but more, every day, and besides this he read every good
book he could lay his hands on, for he was not at all satisfied to know
only what could be found in the school-books.

Webster's father was poor and in debt, but finding how eager his boy was
for education, and seeing, too, that he possessed unusual ability, he
determined, ill as he could afford the expense, to send him to college.
Accordingly, young Daniel went to Dartmouth.

Many anecdotes are told to illustrate the character of young Dan. He was
always lavish of his money when he had any, while his brother was
careful but generous, especially to Dan, whom he greatly admired. On one
occasion the boys went to a neighboring town on a high holiday, each
with a quarter of a dollar in his pocket.

"Well, Dan," said the father on their return, "what did you do with your

"Spent it," answered the boy.

"And what did you do with yours, Zeke?"

"Lent it to Dan," was the answer. The fact was that Dan had spent both

Young Webster was very industrious in his studies, as we have seen, and
he was physically strong and active as his fondness for sport proved;
but he could never endure farm-work. One day his father wanted him to
help him in cutting hay with a scythe; but very soon the boy complained
that the scythe was not "hung" to suit him; that is to say, it was not
set at a proper angle upon its handle. The old gentleman, adjusted it,
but still it did not suit the boy. After repeated attempts to arrange it
to Dan's liking, the father said, impatiently, "Well, hang it to suit
yourself." And young Dan immediately "hung" it over a branch of an
apple-tree and left it there. That was the hanging which pleased him.


After finishing his college course Webster began studying law, but
having no money, and being unwilling to tax his father for further
support, he went into Northern Maine, and taught school there for a
time. While teaching he devoted his evenings to the work of copying
deeds and other legal documents, and by close economy managed to live
upon the money thus earned, thus saving the whole of his salary as a
teacher. With this money to live on, he went to Boston, studied law, and
soon distinguished himself. The story of his life as a public man, in
the senate, in the cabinet, and at the bar, is well known, and does not
belong to this sketch of his boyhood.


In the little Italian village of Possagno there lived a jolly
stone-cutter named Pisano. He was poor, of course, or he would not have
been a stone-cutter; but he was full of good humor, and everybody liked

There was one little boy, especially, who loved old Pisano, and whom old
Pisano loved more than anybody else in the world. This was Antonio
Canova, Pisano's grandson, who had come to live with him, because his
father was dead, and his mother had married a harsh man, who treated the
little Antonio roughly.

Antonio was a frail little fellow, and his grandfather liked to have him
near him during his working hours.

While Pisano worked at stone-cutting, little Canova played at it and at
other things, such as modelling in clay, drawing, etc. The old
grandfather, plain, uneducated man as he was, soon discovered that the
pale-faced little fellow at his side had something more than an ordinary
child's dexterity at such things.

The boy knew nothing of art or of its laws, but he fashioned his lumps
of clay into forms of real beauty. His wise grandfather, seeing what
this indicated, hired a teacher to give him some simple lessons in
drawing, so that he might improve himself if he really had the artistic
ability which the old man suspected. Pisano was much too poor, as he
knew, ever to give the boy an art-education and make an artist of him,
but he thought that Antonio might at least learn to be a better
stone-cutter than common.

As the boy grew older he began to help in the shop during the day, while
in the evening his grandmother told him stories or sang or recited
poetry to him. All these things were educating him, though without his
knowing it, for they were awakening his taste and stimulating his
imagination, which found expression in the clay models that he loved to
make in his leisure hours.

It so happened that Signor Faliero, the head of a noble Venetian family,
and a man of rare understanding in art, had a place near Pisano's house,
and at certain seasons the nobleman entertained many distinguished
guests there. When the palace was very full of visitors, old Pisano was
sometimes hired to help the servants with their tasks, and the boy
Canova, when he was twelve years old, sometimes did scullion's work
there, also, for a day, when some great feast was given.

On one of these occasions, when the Signor Faliero was to entertain a
very large company at dinner, young Canova was at work over the pots and
pans in the kitchen. The head-servant made his appearance, just before
the dinner hour, in great distress.

The man who had been engaged to furnish the great central ornament for
the table had, at the last moment, sent word that he had spoiled the
piece. It was now too late to secure another, and there was nothing to
take its place. The great vacant space in the centre of the table
spoiled the effect of all that had been done to make the feast artistic
in appearance, and it was certain that Signor Faliero would be sorely

But what was to be done? The poor fellow whose business it was to
arrange the table was at his wits' end.

While every one stood dismayed and wondering, the begrimed scullion boy
timidly approached the distressed head-servant, and said, "If you will
let me try, I think I can make something that will do."

"You!" exclaimed the servant; "and who are you?"

"I am Antonio Canova, Pisano's grandson," answered the pale-faced little

"And what can you do, pray?" asked the man, in astonishment at the
conceit of the lad.

"I can make you something that will do for the middle of the table,"
said the boy, "if you'll let me try."

The servant had little faith in the boy's ability, but not knowing what
else to do, he at last consented that Canova should try.

Calling for a large quantity of butter, little Antonio quickly modelled
a great crouching lion, which everybody in the kitchen pronounced
beautiful, and which the now rejoicing head-servant placed carefully
upon the table.

The company that day consisted of the most cultivated men of
Venice--merchants, princes, noblemen, artists, and lovers of art--and
among them were many who, like Faliero himself, were skilled critics of

When these people were ushered in to dinner their eyes fell upon the
butter lion, and they forgot for what purpose they had entered the
dining-room. They saw there something of higher worth in their eyes than
any dinner could be, namely, a work of genius.

They scanned the butter lion critically, and then broke forth in a
torrent of praises, insisting that Faliero should tell them at once
what great sculptor he had persuaded to waste his skill upon a work in
butter, that must quickly melt away. But Signor Faliero was as ignorant
as they, and he had, in his turn, to make inquiry of the chief servant.

When the company learned that the lion was the work of a scullion,
Faliero summoned the boy, and the banquet became a sort of celebration
in his honor.

But it was not enough to praise a lad so gifted. These were men who knew
that such genius as his belonged to the world, not to a village, and it
was their pleasure to bring it to perfection by educating the boy in
art. Signor Faliero himself claimed the right to provide for young
Antonio, and at once declared his purpose to defray the lad's expenses,
and to place him under the tuition of the best masters.

The boy whose highest ambition had been to become a village
stone-cutter, and whose home had been in his poor old grandfather's
cottage, became at once a member of Signor Faliero's family, living in
his palace, having everything that money could buy at his command, and
daily receiving instruction from the best sculptors of Venice.

But he was not in the least spoiled by this change in his fortunes. He
remained simple, earnest, and unaffected. He worked as hard to acquire
knowledge and skill in art as he had meant to work to become a dexterous

Antonio Canova's career from the day on which he moulded the butter into
a lion was steadily upward; and when he died, in 1822, he was not only
one of the most celebrated sculptors of his time, but one of the
greatest, indeed, of all time.


Boys and girls who can buy attractive periodicals and books at any
bookstore or news-stand, can have very little notion of the difficulty
that little folk had seventy or eighty years ago in getting something to
read. It was only about fifty years ago, indeed, that this first efforts
were made to supply cheap, instructive, and entertaining literature, and
one of the men who made those efforts was Mr. William Chambers, who, in
1882, when he was eighty-two years of age, published a little account of
his life. What he has to tell of his boyhood and youth is very

His father was unfortunate in business, and became so poor that young
Chambers had to begin making his own way very early in life. He had
little schooling--only six pounds' (thirty dollars) worth in all, he
tells us--and, as there were no juvenile books or periodicals in those
days, and no books of any other kind, except costly ones, it was hard
for him to do much in the way of educating himself. But William Chambers
meant to learn all that he could, and that determination counted for a
good deal. There was a small circulating library in his native town, and
he began by reading all the books in it, without skipping one. Then he
got hold of a copy of the "Encyclopædia Britannica," which most boys
would regard as very dry reading. He read it carefully. When that was
done young Chambers was really pretty well educated, although he did not
know it.

About that time the boy had to go to work for his living. He became an
apprentice to a bookseller in Edinburgh. His wages were only four
shillings (about a dollar) a week, and on that small sum he had to
support himself, paying for food, lodging, clothes, and everything else,
for five years. "It was a hard but somewhat droll scrimmage with
semistarvation," he says; for, after paying for his lodgings and
clothes, he had only about seven cents a day with which to buy his food.

In the summer he jumped out of bed at five o'clock every morning, and
spent the time before the hour for beginning business in reading and
making electrical experiments. He studied French in that way too, and on
Sundays carried a French Testament to church, and read in French what
the minister read in English.

Winter came on, and the poor lad was puzzled. It was not only cold, but
entirely dark at five o'clock in the morning during the winter months,
and William, who had only seven cents a day to buy food with, could not
afford either a fire or a candle to read by. There was no other time of
day, however, that he could call his own, and so it seemed that he must
give up his reading altogether, which was a great grief to the ambitious

Just then a piece of good-luck befell him. He happened to know what is
called a "sandwich man"--that is to say, a man who walks about with
signs hanging behind and before him. One day this man made him a
proposition. The sandwich man knew a baker who, with his two sons,
carried on a small business in a cellar. The baker was fond of reading,
but had no time for it, and as he and his sons had to bake their bread
early in the morning, he proposed, through the sandwich man, to employ
William Chambers as reader. His plan was that Chambers should go to the
cellar bakery every morning at five o'clock and read to the bakers, and
for this service he promised to give the boy one hot roll each morning.
Here was double good-fortune. It enabled Chambers to go on with his
reading by the baker's light and fire, and it secured for him a
sufficient breakfast without cost.

He accepted the proposition at once, and for two and a half hours every
morning he sat on a flour-sack in the cellar, and read to the bakers by
the light of a penny candle stuck in a bottle.

Out of his small wages it was impossible for the boy to save anything,
and so, when the five years of his apprenticeship ended, he had only
five shillings in the world. Yet he determined to begin business at once
on his own account. Getting credit for ten pounds' worth of books, he
opened a little stall, and thus began what has since grown to be a great
publishing business.

He had a good deal of unoccupied time at his stall, and "in order to
pick up a few shillings," as he says, he began to write out neat copies
of poems for albums. Finding sale for these, he determined to enlarge
that part of his business by printing the poems. For that purpose he
bought a small and very "squeaky" press and a font of worn type which
had been used for twenty years. He had to teach himself how to set the
type, and, as his press would print only half a sheet at a time, it was
very slow work; but he persevered, and gradually built up a little
printing business in connection with his book-selling. After a while he
published an edition of Burns's poems, setting the type, printing the
pages, and binding the books with his own hands, and clearing eight
pounds by the work.

Chambers wrote a good deal at that time, and his brother Robert wrote
still more, so that they were at once authors, printers, publishers, and
booksellers, but all in a very small way. After ten years of this work,
William Chambers determined to publish a cheap weekly paper, to be
filled with entertaining and instructive matters, designed especially
for the people who could not afford to buy expensive books and
periodicals. Robert refused to join in this scheme, and so, for a time,
the whole work and risk fell upon William. His friends all agreed in
thinking that ruin would be the result; but William Chambers thought he
knew what the people wanted, and hence he went on.

The result soon justified his expectations. The first number was
published on the 4th of February, 1832. Thirty thousand copies were sold
in a few days, and three weeks later the sale rose to fifty thousand
copies a week.


When Michael Angelo was twelve years of age, although he had had no
instruction in art, he did a piece of work which greatly pleased the
painter Domenico Ghirlandajo. That artist at once declared that here was
lad of genius, who must quit his school studies and become a painter.

This was what the little Michael most wished to do, but he had no hope
that his father would listen for a moment to the suggestion. His father,
Ludovico Buonarotti, was a distinguished man in the state, and held art
and artists in contempt. He had planned a great political career for his
boy, as the boy knew very well.

Ghirlandajo was enthusiastic, however, and, in company with the lad, he
at once visited Ludovico, and asked him to place Michael in his studio.

Ludovico was very angry, saying that he wished his son to become a
prominent man in society and politics, not a dauber and a mason; but
when he found that young Michael was determined to be an artist or
nothing he gave way, though most ungraciously. He would not say that he
consented to place his son with Ghirlandajo; he would not admit that the
study of art was study, or the studio of an artist anything but a shop.
He said to the artist: "I give up my son to you. He shall be your
apprentice or your servant, as you please, for three years, and you must
pay me twenty-four florins for his services."

In spite of the insulting words and the insulting terms, Michael Angelo
consented thus to be hired out as a servant to the artist, who should
have been paid by his father for teaching him. He had to endure much,
indeed, besides the anger and contempt of his father, who forbade him
even to visit his house, and utterly disowned him. His fellow-pupils
were jealous of his ability, and ill-treated him constantly, one of
them going so far as to break his nose with a blow.

When Michael Angelo had been with Ghirlandajo about two years, he went
one day to the Gardens of St. Mark, where the Prince Lorenzo de'
Medici--who was the foremost patron of art in Florence--had established
a rich museum of art-works at great expense. One of the workmen in the
garden gave the boy leave to try his hand at copying some of the
sculptures there, and Michael, who had hitherto studied only painting,
was glad of a chance to experiment with the chisel, which he preferred
to the brush. He chose for his model an ancient figure of a faun, which
was somewhat mutilated. The mouth, indeed, was entirely broken off, but
the boy was very self-reliant, and this did not trouble him. He worked
day after day at the piece, creating a mouth for it of his own
imagining, with the lips parted in laughter and the teeth displayed.

When he had finished, and was looking at his work, a man standing near
asked if he might offer a criticism.

"Yes," answered the boy, "if it is a just one."

"Of that you shall be the judge," said the man.

"Very well. What is it?"

"The forehead of your faun is old, but the mouth is young. See, it has a
full set of perfect teeth. A faun so old as this one is would not have
perfect teeth."

The lad admitted the justice of the criticism, and proceeded to remedy
the defect by chipping away two or three of the teeth, and chiselling
the gums so as to give them a shrivelled appearance.

The next morning, when Michael went to remove his faun from the garden,
it was gone. He searched everywhere for it, but without success.
Finally, seeing the man who had made the suggestion about the teeth, he
asked him if he knew where it was.

"Yes," replied the man, "and if you will follow me I'll show you where
it is."

"Will you give it back to me? I made it, and have a right to it."

"Oh, if you must have it, you shall."

With that he led the way into the palace of the prince, and there, among
the most precious works of art in the collection, stood the faun. The
young sculptor cried out in alarm, declaring that the Prince Lorenzo
would never forgive the introduction of so rude a piece of work among
his treasures of sculpture. To his astonishment the man declared that he
was himself the Prince Lorenzo de' Medici, and that he set the highest
value upon this work.

"I am your protector and friend," he added. "Henceforth you shall be
counted as my son, for you are destined to become one of the great
masters of art."

This was overwhelming good-fortune. Lorenzo de' Medici was a powerful
nobleman, known far and wide to be a most expert judge of works of art.
His approval was in itself fame and fortune.

Filled with joy, the lad went straightway to his father's house, which
he had been forbidden to enter, and, forcing his way into Ludovico's
presence, told him what had happened. The father refused to believe the
good news until Michael led him into Lorenzo's presence.

When the prince, by way of emphasizing his goodwill, offered Ludovico
any post he might choose, he asked for a very modest place indeed,
saying, with bitter contempt, that it was good enough "for the father of
a mason."


Precisely at what time the faithful and affectionate subjects of his
Majesty Ivan IV., Czar of all the Russias, conferred upon him his pet
name, "The Terrible," history neglects to inform us, but we are left in
no uncertainty as to the entire appropriateness of the title, which is
now inseparably linked with his baptismal name. He inherited the throne
at the age of three years, and his early education was carefully
attended to by his faithful guardians, who snubbed and scared him, in
the hope that they might so far weaken his intellect as to secure a
permanent control over him, and through him govern Russia as they
pleased. They made a footstool of him sometimes, and a football at
others, and, under their system of training, the development of those
qualities of mind and heart for which he is celebrated was remarkably
rapid. He was always Ivan the Terrified, and he became Ivan the Terrible
before he was old enough to have played a reasonably good game of
marbles, or to have become tolerably expert in the art of mumbling the
peg. Indeed, it seems that the young grand-prince was wholly insensible
to the joys of these and the other excellent sports in which ordinary
youths delight, and being of an ingenious turn of mind, he invented
others better suited to his tastes and character. One of these
pastimes--perhaps the first and simplest one devised by the youthful
genius--consisted in the dropping of cats, dogs, and other domestic
animals from the top of the palace to the pavement below, and
sentimental historians have construed these interesting experiments in
the law of gravitation into acts of wanton cruelty. Another of the young
czar's amusements was to turn half-famished pet bears loose upon passing
pedestrians, and it is the part of charity to suppose that his purpose
in this was to study the psychological and physiognomical phenomena of
fear. A less profitable way he had of accomplishing the same thing was
by throwing, or, as youthful Americans phrase it, "shying," stones at
passers-by, concealing himself meanwhile behind a screen. He cultivated
his skill in horsemanship by riding over elderly people, cripples, and
children. In short, his boyish sports were all of an original and highly
interesting sort.

Up to the age of thirteen Ivan was under the tutelage of a council, of
which the Prince Shnisky was chief, and it was this prince who
domineered over the boy and made a footstool and a football of his body.
At that age Ivan asserted his independence in a very positive and
emphatic way, which even the Prince Shnisky could not misapprehend. The
young czar was out hunting, accompanied by Shnisky and other princes and
boyards, among whom was Prince Gluisky, a rival of Shnisky's, who was
prejudiced against that excellent gentleman. At his suggestion, Ivan
addressed his guardian Shnisky in language which the latter deemed
insolent. Shnisky replied angrily, and Ivan requested his dogs to
remonstrate with the prince, which they did by tearing him limb from

Having thus silenced the dictation of Shnisky, the young prince became
the ward of the no less excellent Gluisky, and was carefully taught that
the only way in which he could effectually assert authority was by
punishment. It was made clear to his budding intellect, too, that the
shortest, simplest, and altogether the best way to get rid of
disagreeable persons was to put them to death, and throughout his life
Ivan never forgot this lesson for a single moment. Power, he was told,
was worthless unless it was used, and the only way in which it could be
really used was by oppression. For three years no pains were spared to
teach him this system of ethics and politics, and the young prince, in
his anxiety to perfect himself in the art of governing, diligently
practised all these precepts.

When he was seventeen years of age he was formally crowned czar. The
citizens, ignorant of the truths of political economy and the principles
of governmental science underlying the young Czar's system, became
alarmed, and fired the city one night. When Ivan awoke, he was
terrified, being of an abnormally nervous temperament, and the
apparition of a warning monk, together with the influence of Anastasia,
the young czarina, led the czar to abandon the simple and
straightforward methods of government in which he had been bred, and for
thirteen years, under the dictation of Alexis Adascheff and the monk
Sylvester, Ivan devoted himself to the commonplace employments of
developing Russia politically and socially. He dismissed his ministers
and put others in their places. He reorganized the army; revised the
code, in the interest of abstract justice; equalized assessments;
subdued the Tartars; established forts for the protection of the
frontiers; laid the foundation for the future greatness of his empire;
began the work which was completed so grandly under Peter the Great;
introduced printing into Russia; added greatly to her possessions;
checked the abuses of the clergy; brought artists from western Europe,
and in a hundred ways made himself famous by doing those things which
historians love to chronicle.

Meanwhile, his genius for governing upon the Gluiskian system lay
dormant. It was not dead, but slept, and after its nap of thirteen years
it awoke one day, refreshed. Anastasia, the beautiful queen whose
influence had been supreme for so long a time, died, and Ivan was free
again. He recalled an old bishop who had been banished for his crimes,
and consulted him as to his future course.

"If you wish to be truly a sovereign," said this eminent prelate, "never
seek a counsellor wiser than yourself; never receive advice from any
man. Command, but never obey; and you will be a terror to the boyards.
Remember that he who is permitted to begin by advising is certain to end
by ruling his sovereign."

Here was advice of a sort suited to Ivan's taste and education, and for
reply he kissed the good bishop's hand, saying:

"My own father could not have spoken more wisely."

That the czar spoke sincerely, his faithfulness in following the
bishop's precepts abundantly attests.

His ministers and advisers being manifestly wiser than he, and therefore
not at all the proper kind of people to have about, he straightway
banished them. He then began a diligent search for their partisans, some
of whom he put to death, condemning others to imprisonment and torture.
He next turned his attention to his own household, which he was resolved
upon ruling absolutely, at least, if not well. One of the princes made
himself disagreeable by declining to participate freely in the pleasures
of the palace, and, for the sake of domestic harmony, Ivan had him
poniarded while he was at his prayers. Another so far overstepped the
bounds of courtesy and propriety as to remonstrate with one of the new
favorites upon his improper conduct, and Ivan, in order that there might
be no bickerings and hard feelings in his family, slew the discourteous
prince with his own hand.

He was in the habit of carrying an iron rod about with him, and he had a
playful way of striking his friends with it now and then, merely for his
amusement. His pleasantries of this and like sorts were endless. One day
Prince Boris, a boyard, came to pay his respects to the czar, and as he
bowed to the ground, according to custom, Ivan, seizing a knife, said,
"God bless thee, my dear Boris; thou deservest a proof of my favor," and
with that he kindly cut the nobleman's ear off.

When Prince Kurbsky, whom he had threatened with death, fled to Poland
and wrote him a letter thence, telling him pretty plainly what he
thought of him, the czar playfully struck the bearer of the missive with
his iron rod, as a preliminary to the reading of the letter, and the
blood flowed copiously from the man's wounds while Ivan pondered the
words of his rebellious subject. He then became convinced that the
boyards generally sympathized with Kurbsky, and to teach them better he
put a good many of them to death by torture, and deprived many others
of their estates. His alarm was very real, however, for he was a
phenomenon of abject cowardice. He therefore fled to a fortified place
in the midst of a dense forest, where he remained a month, writing
letters to the Russians, telling them that he had abdicated and left
them to their fate as a punishment for their disloyalty and their
crimes. Singularly enough, his flight terrified the people. He had
taught them that he was their god as God was his, and his flight to
Alexandrovsky seemed to them a withdrawal of the protection of
Providence itself. Business was suspended. The courts ceased to sit. The
country was in an agony of terror. A large deputation of boyards and
priests journeyed to Alexandrovsky, and besought the sovereign to return
and resume his holy functions as the head of the church, that the souls
of so many millions might not perish. Exacting of clergy and nobles an
admission of his absolute right to do as he pleased, and a promise that
they would in no way interfere with or resist his authority, he returned
to Moscow. Here he surrounded himself with a body-guard of desperadoes,
one thousand strong at first, and afterwards increased to six thousand,
whose duty it was to discover the czar's enemies and to sweep them from
the face of the earth. As emblems of these their functions, each member
of the guard carried at his saddle-bow a dog's head and a broom. As the
punishment of the czar's enemies included the confiscation of their
property, a large part of which was given to the guards themselves,
these were always singularly successful in discovering the disaffection
of wealthy nobles, finding it out oftentimes before the nobles
themselves were aware of their own treasonable sentiments.

Feeling unsafe still, Ivan built for himself a new palace, outside the
walls of the Kremlin, making it an impregnable castle. Then, finding
that even this did not lull his shaken nerves to rest, he proceeded to
put danger afar off by dispossessing the twelve thousand rich nobles
whose estates lay nearest the palace, and giving their property to his
personal followers, so that the head which wore the crown might lie
easy in the conviction that there were no possible enemies near on the
other side of the impregnable walls which shut him in. But even then he
could not sleep easily, and so he repaired again to his forest
stronghold at Alexandrovsky, where he surrounded himself with guards and
ramparts. Here he converted the palace into a monastery, made himself
abbot, and his rascally followers monks. He rigorously enforced monastic
observances of the severest sort, and no doubt became a saint, in his
own estimation. He spent most of his time at prayers, allowing himself
no recreation except a daily sight of the torture of the prisoners who
were confined in the dungeons of the fortress. His guards were allowed
rather a larger share of amusement, and they wandered from street to
street during the day, punishing, with their hatchets, such disloyal
persons as they encountered. They were very moderate in their
indulgences, however, in imitation of their sovereign, doubtless, and it
is recorded to their credit, that, at this time, they rarely killed
more than twenty people in one day, while sometimes the number was as
low as five.

But a quiet life of this kind could not always content the czar.
Naturally, he grew tired of individual killings, and began to long for
some more exciting sport. When, one day, a quarrel arose between some of
his guards and a few of the people of Torjek, Ivan saw at a glance that
all the inhabitants of Torjek were mutinous rebels, and of course it
became his duty to put them all to death, which he straightway did.

Up to this time the genius of Ivan seems to have been cautiously feeling
its way, and so the part of his history already sketched may be regarded
as a mere preliminary to his real career. His extraordinary capacity for
ruling an empire upon the principles taught him by the Prince Gluisky
was now about to show itself in all its greatness. A criminal of
Novgorod, feeling himself aggrieved by the authorities of that city, who
had incarcerated him for a time, wrote a letter offering to place the
city under Polish protection. This letter he signed, not with his own
name, but with that of the archbishop, and, instead of sending it to the
King of Poland, to whom it was addressed, he secreted it in the church
of St. Sophia. Then, going to Alexandrovsky, he told Ivan that treason
was contemplated by the Novgorodians, and that the treasonable letter
would be found behind the statue of the Virgin in the church. Ivan sent
a messenger to find the letter, and upon his return the czar began his
march upon the doomed city. Happening to pass through the town of Khur,
on his way to Novgorod, he put all its inhabitants to death, with the
purpose, doubtless, of training his troops in the art of wholesale
massacre, before requiring them to practise it upon the people of
Novgorod. Finding this system of drill an agreeable pastime, he repeated
it upon his arrival at the city of Twer, and then, in order that the
other towns along his route might have no reason to complain of
partiality, he bestowed upon all of them a like manifestation of his
imperial regard.

It is not my purpose to describe in detail the elaborate and ingenious
cruelty practised in the massacre of the Novgorodians. The story is
sickening. Ivan first heard mass, and then began the butchery, which
lasted for many days, was conducted with the utmost deliberation and
most ingenious cruelty, and ended in the slaughter of sixty thousand
people. Ivan had selected certain prominent citizens, to the number of
several hundred, whom he reserved for public and particularly cruel
execution at Moscow. Summoning the small and wretched remnant of the
population to his presence, he besought their prayers for the
continuance and prosperity of his reign, and with gracious words of
farewell took his departure from the city.

The execution in Moscow of the reserved victims was a scene too horrible
to be described in these pages. Indeed, the half of Ivan's enormities
may not be told here at all, and even the historians content themselves
with the barest outlines of many parts of his career. He thought himself
in some sense a deity, and blasphemously asserted that his throne was
surrounded by archangels precisely as God's is. Identifying himself
with the Almighty, he claimed exemption from the observance of God's
laws, and, in defiance of the fundamental principles of the Greek
Church, of which he was the head, he married seven wives. Believing that
he might with equal impunity insult the moral sense of other nations, he
actually sought to add England's queen, Elizabeth, to the list of his
spouses. And he was so far right in his estimate of his power to do as
he pleased, that the Virgin Queen, head of the English Church, while she
would not herself become one of his wives, consented to assist him, and
selected for his eighth consort Mary Hastings, the daughter of the Earl
of Huntingdon. She came near bringing about a marriage between the two,
in face of the fact that the two churches of which Ivan and she were
respectively the heads were agreed in condemning polygamy as a heinous

For one only of all his crimes Ivan showed regret, if not remorse. His
oldest and favorite son, when the city of Pskof was besieged by the
Poles, asked that he might be intrusted with the command of a body of
troops with which to assist the beleaguered place. Ivan was so great a
coward that he dared not trust the affection and loyalty of even his own
favorite child, and in a fit of mingled fear and rage he beat the young
man to death with his iron staff, saying, "Rebel, you are leagued with
the boyards in a conspiracy to dethrone me."

Remorse seized upon him at once, and his sufferings and his fears of
retribution were terrible. Finally he determined to abandon the throne
and seek peace in a convent, but the infatuated Russians entreated him
not to desert them. He died at last, in 1580.

Did Scheherazade herself ever imagine a stranger story than this? And
yet it is plain history, and is only a fragment of the truth.


His name was Dmitri, and he was hereditary Grand-Prince of all the
Russias, being the son of Ivan the Terrible, and only surviving brother
of Feodor, the childless successor of that blood-thirsty czar. He was
carefully killed in the presence of witnesses, during his boyhood, and
duly buried, with honors appropriate to his station in life; so that if
Dmitri had been an ordinary mortal, or even an ordinary prince, there
would have been no story of his life to tell, except the brief tragedy
of his taking off. He was no ordinary prince, however, and so the
trifling incident of his death during childhood had as little to do with
his career as had one or two other episodes of a like nature in the
history of his later life. He was born to rule Russia, and was not at
all disposed to excuse himself from the performance of the duty
Providence had thus imposed upon him, by pleading the two or three
thorough killings to which he was subjected. The story, as preserved in
authentic history, is a very interesting one, and may perhaps bear
repeating here. The reader may find all the facts in any reputable
history of Russia, or of the houses of Rurik and Romanoff.

In his jealousy of the absolute power he wielded, Ivan the Terrible had
made constant war upon his nobility--killing them, or driving them away,
and in every way possible destroying whatever share of influence they
possessed in the state. When he died, leaving as his successor Feodor, a
weak prince, of uncertain temper and infirm intellect, the
nobility--naturally enough--hoped to regain their ancient influence in
the state, and might have accomplished their purpose without difficulty
if their measures to that end had been taken concertedly; but, jealous
as they were of the privileges of their class, they were even more
tenacious of their individual and family pretensions. They quarrelled
among themselves, in short, and, while they were quarrelling, a bold and
ambitious man, Boris Godunof, who happened to be the czar's
brother-in-law, conceived the project of becoming prime-minister and
actual ruler of the empire. Indeed, his ambition extended even further
than this. Not content with governing Russia in the name of Feodor, he
set covetous eyes upon the purple itself, and was resolved to become
czar in name as well as in fact. But this was a delicate and difficult
task, and could by accomplished only at great risk and by great
patience. Boris was a man of undoubted genius, extreme shrewdness,
unlimited ambition, and remarkable personal courage; and difficult and
dangerous as his task was, he seems never to have faltered in his
purpose from the instant of its conception to the time of its execution.

Knowing the power of money in state affairs, he took care to accumulate
a vast sum in his own private coffers, as a first step. He conciliated
the common people in a hundred ways--by wise legislation, by the
reformation of abuses which pressed hardly upon them, and sometimes by
the oppression of the nobles in the interest of the lower classes. He
was not long in making himself altogether the most popular man in
Russia. He removed, by death or banishment, those whom he could not
conciliate, together with all other persons whom he thought likely to
prove obstacles in the way of his grand purpose. In short, a very brief
time sufficed him for the winning of a popularity which, in any country
but Russia, would have been sufficient for his need. But Boris knew his
Russians well. He knew that loyalty to the line of Rurik was the
strongest feeling in their breasts, after that of devotion to their
creed--of which, indeed, it formed a chief part. It was their fixed
belief in the divine right of the legitimate princes of the House of
Rurik to reign, that had kept them patient, even under the rigors of
Ivan's rule; and Boris knew well enough that no usurper, however
strongly intrenched in their affections he might be, could hope to win
those superstitiously loyal people to his support against any prince of
the right line, however brutal, unjust, and despotic that prince might
be. He knew, in brief, that so long as any descendant of Rurik should
live, no other man could hope to seat himself upon the Muscovite throne.
Feodor had no children, but he had one brother, the lad Dmitri, who
would be his successor in the natural course of events. His existence
was sure to prove an effectual bar to all Boris's hopes; and so it was
necessary to get him out of the way before the scheme should be ripe for
execution. To accomplish this, the wily minister sent Dmitri and his
mother to the distant town of Uglitch, and there, by his orders, the
young prince was murdered, in the presence of his nurse and six other
people, and buried from his mother's residence. This was in 1591. The
lad's death was announced, of course. Indeed, it was known to nearly
everybody in Uglitch, the tocsin having been sounded, and the population
having gathered around the murdered boy, where they put to death a good
many who were suspected of complicity with the murderers. But in
publishing it abroad in Russia, Boris deemed it prudent to attribute it,
some say to a fever, others to an accidental fall upon a knife with
which the boy had been playing; and lest the people of Uglitch should
embarrass the minister by insisting upon a different diagnosis of the
boy's last illness, that prudent official put a great many of them to
death, cut the tongues out of others' heads, and banished the rest to
Siberia--laying the town in ashes. He spared the lad's mother, but shut
her up in a convent.

Dmitri was now out of the way, or, rather, he would have been if he had
had an ordinary capacity for staying comfortably killed; and Boris
redoubled his efforts to prepare the way for his own elevation to the
throne, as Feodor's successor, when that prince should chance to let the
sceptre fall from his grasp.

To secure the influence of the Church in his behalf, he bought of a
Greek bishop the right to appoint the successor of the patriarch (a sort
of Greek Church pope); and that office presently becoming vacant, he
appointed a creature of his own as head of the Church. He succeeded in
winning the favor of the inferior nobility, who were very numerous, and
made himself strong in many other ways.

Boris was a fellow of infinite good-luck; and so it fell out that, at
the precise moment when all his plans were complete, the Czar Feodor
obligingly died. So opportunely did this event happen, that grave
historians have been inclined to suspect Boris of having procured it in
some way; but of this there is no positive evidence.

Feodor dead, there was no heir to the throne. With him ended the line of
Rurik, which alone the Russians recognized as legitimately entitled to
rule the empire; and now a new czar must be chosen. The nobles
quarrelled, of course. They agreed in thinking that one of their order
should be elevated to the throne; but they could by no means agree which
one it should be. Each resented the pretensions of all the others, and
it speedily became manifest that the patriarch's nomination, upon
whomsoever it might fall, would turn the scale and elect a czar. The
patriarch was Boris's own creature, appointed for the sole purpose of
forwarding that minister's plans; and he promptly nominated Boris to the
vacant throne. The election was a prearranged affair; and presently
Boris was waited upon--in the convent to which he had retired with the
declared purpose of leading a monastic life in future--and informed of
his selection by the people as Czar of all the Russias. He modestly
declined, of course; and, equally of course, his modesty only made the
people the more clamorous. After some weeks of petty dalliance Boris
finally allowed himself to be persuaded, and was crowned czar, in due
form, in the year 1598.

He was not long in discovering that his position was insecure, and
incapable of being made safe. Whatever policy he might adopt--and he was
disposed, it appears, to govern wisely and well--was sure to displease
some of his subjects; and in the hands of a hostile faction, his want of
hereditary claim upon the throne was a powerful weapon. What he had
seized by crime he must keep by tyranny and violence, and a three years'
famine added greatly to his embarrassments. Whatever he did excited
discontent; and to make his wretchedness complete, he fancied himself
haunted by the ghost of the murdered Dmitri. There were symptoms of
mutiny everywhere, which daily threatened to culminate in open revolt.
It needed only a match to fire the mine.

In 1603, when matters were at their worst, there appeared in Poland a
young man who claimed to be the murdered Dmitri. His story was that, by
means of an adroit substitution, another boy had been killed in his
place; that he had escaped; and he claimed the throne of the Ruriks. He
strongly resembled the prince he claimed to be, and his identity seemed
to be established, also, by other evidence than mere personal
resemblance. There was no "strawberry mark on his left arm," but both he
and the dead prince, if, indeed, they were two distinct persons, had a
wart on the forehead, and another under the right eye, and in both one
arm was slightly longer than the other. The pretender, or real prince,
as the case may be, had also a valuable jewel which had belonged to
Dmitri; and so he was not long in winning credence for his story, both
in Poland and in Russia. Boris gave out that the young man was the monk
Otrafief, who had appeared in the army as his advocate and emissary; and
some historians--Karamsin and Bell among the number--have accepted this
theory; but a careful comparison of dates seems to contradict it.
Whoever the man was, he was an able and accomplished diplomatist as well
as a singularly bold warrior; and he succeeded presently in winning the
recognition of Sigismund, King of Poland, and putting himself at the
head of an army with which he invaded Russia. He had privately abjured
the Greek faith, and undertaken to convert Russia into a Catholic power;
and, in addition to the many other favors promised the Poles, he had
engaged to marry Marina, the daughter of a Polish nobleman.

During the autumn of the year 1604, this new Dmitri began his invasion
at the head of a small army made up of Poles and Don Cossacks. On his
march his force was swelled by accessions, and a number of towns
declared in his favor. Boris sent an army four times as great as his
own, to destroy him; and battle was joined on the last day of December.
Dmitri's case seemed utterly hopeless; but he was both able and brave.
He fought with the resolution and courage of a hero, the skill of a
consummate tactician, and the fury of a demon. And in spite of the
terrible odds against him, he won a great victory. In a military way,
its results were neutralized by the withdrawal of his Poles, and by some
other circumstances which forbade his pushing forward towards the
capital; but the moral effect was altogether in his favor. The
superstitious Russians saw in his marvellous success a miracle, and
accepted it as proof positive that this was the true prince, to oppose
whom was sacrilege. By dint of great energy Boris was able to maintain
the war till the time of his own death, which happened during the spring
of 1605. His son Feodor was crowned as his successor; but a few weeks
later he was deposed and strangled, and the new Dmitri came to the

For a time his wisdom as a statesman promised to equal his skill and
courage as a soldier, but his manifest preference for Poles to Russians
soon created jealousy; and imagining that he could overcome prejudices
by violent measures, as easily as he had conquered a throne, he spared
no pains to insult the Russian national feeling. He appointed only Poles
to high office, and lavished upon foreigners so much attention as to
breed discontent in his own capital. His apostasy from the Greek to the
Roman faith, also, was suspected, and the clergy became his implacable
enemies. The disaffection grew daily, and the efforts Dmitri made to
overawe his enemies only exasperated them. Finally, on the occasion of
his marriage with Marina, the Polish princess--which was celebrated with
great pomp by a throng of Polish soldiers and others, invited to Moscow
for the purpose--a mob, headed by Shuiski, or Schnisky--for the name is
spelled in both of these and half a dozen other ways--stormed the
palace, butchered the Poles, and impaled Dmitri on a spear. To leave no
doubt of his death this time, they kept his body transfixed with the
spear, in front of the palace, for three days, that the people might
wreak their vengeance upon the dead czar by insulting his corpse.

Schnisky profited by his victory, and while the blood of the populace
was still hot was chosen czar, as successor of the impostor he had
overthrown. His popularity was short-lived, however. His fellows among
the nobles resented his elevation above themselves, and ere long the
desire for his removal was as unanimous as his election had been. This
seemed a good time for the doubly dead Dmitri to come to life again; and
so it was presently rumored that after all he had not been killed; that
the corpse the people had spat upon and insulted was not his; that he
was alive, in Poland, and ready to claim his own. This report was
industriously circulated by the nobles; but as the people had not yet
forgotten their hatred for the usurper, he was permitted to lie down in
his grave again.

To prevent his coming to life for a third time, the dead czar's remains
were disinterred and burned. The ashes were collected and fired from a
piece of artillery, and it was supposed that further resurrection on
his part was impossible. But, as we have seen, Dmitri had a most
astonishing genius for coming to life after being thoroughly killed; and
presently he appeared again in Poland. This time, history says, he was
either a Russian schoolmaster or a Polish Jew; but however that may be,
certain it is that he so closely resembled the other two Dmitri's in
personal appearance, even to the two warts and unequally long arms, that
he imposed on everybody around him with his story. Even the Princess
Marina accepted him, and actually lived with him as his wife.

He was able, without much difficulty, to interest the King of Poland in
his behalf, and to secure a declaration of war by that potentate against
Czar Schnisky. He invaded Russia, won battles, captured Smolensko,
invested Moscow, and finally entered the city.

About this time Dmitri appeared in several other places, but only one of
him was in Moscow at the head of a victorious army; and in behalf of
this particular one Schnisky resigned his crown and retired to a
monastery, whence he was soon removed to a dungeon.

At this juncture the King of Poland, having plans of his own for the
union of Russia and his own kingdom, withdrew his countenance from
Dmitri; and that prince retired from the business of governing, and
devoted himself for the rest of his life to the less honorable, but
perhaps equally lucrative, profession of highway robbery. He was again
killed after awhile, this time by a Don Cossack. But even this public
killing had small effect. A dozen or more new Dmitri's appeared,
claiming the throne; and some of them, says the historian Bell,
"actually touched the sceptre for a moment, but only to recoil in fear
from the dangerous object of their insane ambition."

After awhile, having found the task an unprofitable one, perhaps, Dmitri
seems to have made up his mind to stay dead; but in due course a race of
his sons sprang up quite as mysteriously, if not quite as persistently,
to pester the Russians, and peace came to them only through the
elevation of the Romanoffs to the imperial throne. Connected as they
were by ties of blood with the race of Rurik, they brought legitimacy to
the rescue of a land long torn by faction. The loyalty of the people to
sovereigns whose right to rule was derived from Rurik, gave the dynasty
a strength sufficient to maintain itself; and after a little while Peter
the Great taught his Russians civilization, and a new era in Russian
history was begun.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Strange Stories from History for Young People" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.