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Title: Border and Bastille
Author: Lawrence, George A. (George Alfred), 1827-1876
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 "Border and Bastille" ***

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by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



BORDER AND BASTILLE.

BY GEORGE A. LAWRENCE

THE AUTHOR OF "GUY LIVINGSTONE"

New York:
W. I. POOLEY & CO.,
Harpers' Building, Franklin Square.

WYNKOOP, HALLENBECK & THOMAS, PRINTERS,
No. 113 Fulton Street, New York.



L'ENVOI.


When, late in last autumn, I determined to start for the Confederate
States as soon as necessary preparations could be completed, I had
listened, not only to my own curiosity, impelling me at least to see one
campaign of a war, the like of which this world has never known, but
also to the suggestions of those who thought that I might find materials
there for a book that would interest many here in England. My intention,
from the first, was to serve as a volunteer-aide in the staff of the
army in Virginia, so long as I should find either pen-work or handiwork
to do. The South might easily have gained a more efficient recruit; but
a more earnest adherent it would have been hard to find. I do not
attempt to disguise the fact that my predilections were thoroughly
settled long before I left England; indeed, it is the consciousness of a
strong partisan spirit at my heart which has made me strive so hard, not
only to state facts as accurately as possible, but to abstain from
coloring them with involuntary prejudice.

To say nothing of my being afterwards backed by the powerful
Secessionist interest at Baltimore, the introductory letters furnished
me by Colonel Dudley Mann and Mr. Slidell, addressed to the most
influential personages--civil and military--in the Confederacy, from
President Davis downwards, were such as could hardly have failed to
secure me the position I desired, though they benevolently over
estimated the qualifications of the bearer. To the first of these
gentlemen I am indebted for much kindness and valuable advice; to the
second I am personally unknown; and I am glad to have this opportunity
of acknowledging his ready courtesy. It was Colonel Mann who counseled
my going through the Northern States, instead of attempting to run the
blockade from Nassau or Bermuda, as I had originally intended. In spite
of the events, I am so certain that the advice was sound and wise, that
I do not repent--scarcely regret--having followed it.

I need not particularize the precaution taken to insure the safe
delivery of these credentials: it is sufficient to state that they were
never submitted to Federal inspection; nor had I ever, at any time, in
my possession, a single document which could vitiate my claim to the
rights of a neutral and civilian. Even Mr. Seward did not pretend to
refuse liberty of unexpressed sympathy with either side to an utter
foreigner. While I was a free agent in the Northern States, I was
careful to indulge in no other.

Since my return, I hear that some one has been kind enough to insinuate
that I might have succeeded better if I had been more careful to
prosecute my journey South with vigor at any risk; or if I had been less
imprudent in parading my object while in Baltimore. I prefer to meet the
first of these assertions by a simple record of facts, and by the most
unqualified denial that it is possible to give to any falsehood, written
or spoken. As to the second--really quite as unfounded--it may be well
to say, that before I had been a full fortnight in America, I was
"posted" in the literary column of "Willis' Home Journal." I could not
quarrel with the terms in which the intelligence--avowedly copied from
an English paper--was couched. The writer seemed to know rather more
about my intentions--if not of my antecedents--than I knew myself; but I
can honestly say that the halo of romance with which he was pleased to
surround a very practical purpose, did not however compensate me for the
inconvenient publicity. This paragraph soon found its way into other
journals, and at last confronted me--to my infinite disgust--in the
"Baltimore Clipper," a bitter Unionist organ.

Perhaps this will answer sufficiently the accusation of "parade," for
even had we been disposed to indulge in an "alarum and flourish of
trumpets," the sensation-mongers would have anticipated the absurdity.
Besides this, my movements were not in anywise interfered with up to the
moment of my arrest, when we were miles beyond all Federal pickets. My
captors, of course, had never heard of my existence till we met. It is
more than probable that the report just referred to did greatly
complicate my position when I was actually in confinement; but here my
person--not my plans--suffered, and here, the real mischief of that very
involuntary publicity began and ended.

After my plans were finally arranged, I had an interview with the
editorial powers of the _Morning Post_; there it was settled that I
should communicate to that journal as constantly as circumstances would
permit, any interesting matter or incidents that fell in my way, in
consideration of which was voted a liberal supplement of the sinews of
war; but it was clearly understood that my movements and line of action
were to be absolutely untrammeled. I could not have entered into any
contract that in any way interfered with the primary object I had in
view. I had no intention of commencing such correspondence before I had
actually crossed the southern frontier, so that one letter from
Baltimore--afterwards quoted--was the solitary contribution I was able
to furnish.

I have said thus much, because I wish any one who may be interested on
the point to know clearly on what footing I stood at starting: for the
general public, of course, the subject cannot have the slightest
interest.

Of all compositions, I suppose, a personal narrative is the most
wearying to the writer, if not to the reader; egotistical talk may be
pleasant enough, but, commit it to paper, the fault carries its own
punishment. The recurrence of that everlasting first pronoun becomes a
real stumbling-block to one at last. Yet there is no evading it, unless
you cast your story into a curt, succinct diary; to carry this off
effectively, requires a succession of incidents, more varied and
important than befell me.

A failure--absolute and complete--however brought about, is a fair mark
for mockery, if not for censure. Perhaps, however, I may hope that some
of my readers, in charity, if not in justice, will believe that I have
honestly tried to avoid over-coloring details of personal adventure, and
that no word here is set down in willful insincerity or malice, though
all are written by one whose enmity to all purely republican
institutions will endure to his life's end.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I. A Foul Start

CHAPTER II. Congressia

CHAPTER III. Capua

CHAPTER IV. Friends in Council

CHAPTER V. The Ford

CHAPTER VI. The Ferry

CHAPTER VII. Fallen Across the Threshold

CHAPTER VIII. The Road to Avernus

CHAPTER IX. Caged Birds

CHAPTER X. Dark Days

CHAPTER XI. Homeward Bound

CHAPTER XII. A Popular Armament

CHAPTER XIII. The Debatable Ground

CHAPTER XIV. Slavery and the War



BORDER AND BASTILLE



CHAPTER I.

A FOUL START.


Looking back on an experience of many lands and seas, I cannot recall a
single scene more utterly dreary and desolate than that which awaited
us, the outward-bound, in the early morning of the 20th of last
December. The same sullen neutral tint pervaded and possessed
everything--the leaden sky--the bleak, brown shores over against us--the
dull graystone work lining the quays--the foul yellow water--shading one
into the other, till the division-lines became hard to discern. Even
where the fierce gust swept off the crests of the river wavelets,
boiling and breaking angrily, there was scant contrast of color in the
dusky spray, or murky foam.

The chafing Mersey tried in vain to make himself heard. All other
sounds--a voice, for instance, two yards from your ear--were drowned by
the trumpet of the strong northwester. All through the past night, we
listened to that note of war; we could feel the railway carriages
trembling and quivering, as if shaken by some rude giant's hand, when
they halted at any exposed station; and, this morning, the pilots shake
their wise, grizzled beads, and hint at worse weather yet in the offing.
For forty-eight hours the storm-signals had never been lowered, nor
changed, except to intimate the shifting of a point or two in the
current of the gale, and few vessels, if any, had been found rash enough
to slight "the admiral's" warning.

It had been gravely discussed, we heard afterwards, by the owners and
captain of "The Asia," whether she should venture to sea that day;
finally, the question was left to the latter to decide. There are as
nice points of honor, and as much jealous regard for professional credit
in the merchant service as in any other. Only once, since the line was
started, has a "Cunarder" been kept in port by wind or weather--this was
the commander's first trip across the Atlantic since his promotion; you
may guess which way the balance turned.

We waited on the landing-stage one long cold hour. The huge square
structure, ordinarily steady and solid as the mainland itself, was
pitching and rolling not much less "lively" than a Dutch galliot in a
sea-way; and the tug that was to take us on board parted three hawsers
before she could make fast alongside. It was hard to keep one's footing
on the shaking, slippery bridge, but in ten minutes all staggered or
tumbled, as choice or chance directed, on to the deck of the little
steamer. I was looking for a dry corner, when an American passenger made
room for me very courteously, and I begun to talk to him--about the
weather, of course. It was a keen, intellectual face, pleasant withal,
and kindly, and in its habitual expression not devoid of genial humor.
But, at that moment, it was possessed by an unutterable misery. No
wonder.

"I was ill the whole way over from America," he said, "and _then_ we
started with bright weather and a fair wind."

I was much attracted by the voice, betraying scarcely any Transatlantic
accent: it was quiet and calm in tone, like that of any brave man on his
way to encounter some irresistible pain or woe; but saddened by an agony
of anticipation, he presaged, only too truly, "the burden of the
atmosphere and the wrath to come."

Another struggle and scramble--and we are on board, at last. It is some
comfort to exchange that wretched little wet tug for the deck of the
Asia; though a trifle unsteady even now, she oscillates after the sober
and stately fashion befitting a mighty "liner." Half an hour sees the
end of the long stream of mail-bags, and the huge bales of newspapers
shipped; then the moorings are cast loose; there rises the faintest echo
of a cheer--who could be enthusiastic on such a morning?--the vast
wheels turn slowly and sullenly, as if hating the hard work before them;
and we are fairly off.

The waves and weather grew rapidly wilder; as we neared blue water, just
after passing the light, we saw a large ship driving helplessly and--the
sailors said--hopelessly, among the breakers of the North Sands. She had
tried to run in without a pilot, and _ours_ seemed to think her fate the
justest of judgments; but to disinterested and unprofessional spectators
the sight was very sad, and somewhat discouraging. So with omen and
augury, as well as the wind dead against us.

    "The Sword went out to sea."

All that day and night "The Asia" staggered and weltered on through the
yeasty channel waves, breaking in her passengers rather roughly for a
conflict with vaster billows. Thirteen hours of hard steaming barely
brought us abreast of Holyhead. The gale moderated towards morning, and
we ran along the Irish coast under a blue sky, making Queenstown shortly
after sundown.

By this time I had become acquainted with my cabin-mate, in which
respect I was singularly fortunate. M. ---- was a thorough Parisian,
and a favorable specimen of his class. Small of stature, and
slender of proportion--a very important point where space is so
limited--low-voiced, and sparing of violent expletives or gestures,
delicately neat in his person and apparel, one could hardly have
selected a more amiable colleague under circumstances of some
difficulty. I can aver that he conducted himself always with a perfect
modesty and decorum: he would preserve his equilibrium miraculously,
when his perpendicular had been lost long ago: he never fell upon me but
once (sleeping on a sofa, I was exposed defenselessly to all such
contingencies), and then lightly as thistle-down. On the rare occasions
when the _mal-de-mer_ proved too much for his valiant self-assertion, he
yielded to an overruling fate without groan or complaint: folding the
scanty coverlet around him, he would subside gradually into his berth,
composing his little limbs as gracefully as Cæsar. His courtesy was
invincible and untiring: he was anxious to defer and conform even to my
insular prejudices. Discovering that I was in the habit of daily
immersing in cold water--a feat not to be accomplished without much
toil, trouble, and abrasion of the cuticle--he thought it necessary to
simulate a like performance, though nothing would have tempted him to
incur such needless danger. His endeavors to mislead me on this point,
without actually committing himself, were ingenious and wily in the
extreme. Sitting in the saloon at the most incongruous hours of day and
night, he would exclaim, "J'ai l'idée de prendre bientôt mon bain!" or
he would speak with a shiver of recollection of the imaginary plunge
taken that morning. I don't think I should ever have been deluded, even
if my curiosity had not led me to question the steward; but never, by
word or look, did I impugn the reality of that Barmecide bath. To his
other accomplishments, M. ---- added a very pretty talent for piquet;
the match was even enough, though, to be interesting, at almost nominal
stakes, and so we got pleasantly through many hours--dark, wet, or
boisterous.

We were not a numerous company--only thirty-three in all. Few amateurs
travel at this inclement season. I knew only one other Englishman on
board, an officer in the Rifle Brigade, returning to Canada from
sick-leave. Among the Americans was Cyrus Field, the energetic promoter
of the Atlantic Telegraph, then making (I think he said) his thirtieth
transit within five years. He was certainly entitled to the freedom of
the ocean, if intimate acquaintance with every fathom of its depth and
breadth could establish a claim. It rather surprised me, afterwards, to
see such science and experience yield so easily to the common weakness
of seafaring humanity. Mr. Field told me that throughout the fearful
weather to which the Niagara and Agamemnon were exposed, on their first
attempt to lay down the cable, he never once felt a sensation of nausea;
the body had not time to suffer till the mind was relieved from its
heavy, anxious strain.

For three days after leaving Queenstown, the west winds met us, steady
and strong; but it was not till the afternoon of Christmas day that the
sea began to "get up" in earnest, and the weather to portend a gale.
Then, the Atlantic seemed determined to prove that report had not
exaggerated the hardships of a winter passage. It blew harder and harder
all Friday, and after a brief lull on Saturday--as though gathering
breath for the final onset--the storm fairly reached its height, and
then slowly abated, leaving us substantial tokens of its visit in the
shape of shattered boats, and the ruin of all our port bulwarks forward
of the deck-house. I fancy there was nothing extraordinary in the
tempest; and, in a stout ship, with plenty of sea room, there is
probably little real danger; but about the intense discomfort there
could be no question. I speak with no undue bitterness, for of nausea,
in any shape, I know of little or nothing, but--oh, mine enemy!--if I
could feel certain you were well out in the Atlantic, experiencing, for
just one week, the weather that fell to our lot, I would abate much of
my animosity, purely from satiation of revenge.

Unless absolutely prostrated by illness, the voyager, of course, has a
ravenous appetite; such being the case, what can be more exasperating
than having to grapple with a sort of dioramic dinner, where the dishes
represent a series of dissolving views--mutton and beef of mature age,
leaping about with a playfulness only becoming living lambs and
calves--while the proverb of "cup and lip" becomes a truism from
perpetual illustration? Neither is it agreeable, after falling into an
uncertain doze, to feel dampness mingling strangely with your dreams,
and to awake to find yourself, as it were, an island in a little salt
lake formed by distillation through invisible crevices.

    "Oh, laith, laith were our gude Scot lords
    To wet their cork-heeled shoon,"

says the grand old ballad; so, I suppose, it is nothing "unbecoming the
character of an officer and a gentleman" to hold such midnight
irrigation in utter abhorrence.

On one of these occasions I abandoned a post no longer tenable, and went
into the small saloon close by, to seek a dry spot whereon to finish the
night, I found it occupied by a ghastly man, with long, wild gray hair,
and a white face--striding staggeringly up and down--moaning to himself
in a harsh, hollow voice, "No rest; I can't rest." He never spoke any
other words, and never ceased repeating these, while I remained to hear
him. Instantly there came back to my memory a horrible German tale, read
and forgotten fifteen years ago, of a certain old and unjust steward,
Daniel by name, who, having murdered his master by casting him down an
oubliettes, ever haunted the fatal tower, first as a sleep-walker, then
as a restless ghost--moaning and gibbering to himself, and tearing at a
walled-up door with bleeding hands. The train of thought thereby
suggested was so very sombre, that I preferred returning to my cabin,
and climbing into an unfurnished berth, to spending more minutes in that
weird company. I never made the man out satisfactorily afterwards. It is
possible that he was one of the few who scarcely showed on deck, till we
were in sight of land; but rather, I believe, like other visions and
voices of the night, he changed past recognition under the garish light
of day.

Then come the noisy nuisances, extending through all the diapason of
sound. One--the most annoying--to which the ear never becomes callous by
use, is the incessant crash, not only alongside, but overhead. At
intervals--more frequent, of course, after our bulwarks were swept
away--the green water came tumbling on board by tons; and, being unable
to escape quickly enough by the after-scuppers, surged backwards and
forwards with every roll of the vessel, as if it meant to keep you down
and bury you forever. Lying in my berth, I could feel the heavy seas
smite the strong ship one cruel blow after another on her bows or beam,
till at last she would seem to stop altogether, and, dropping her head,
like a glutton in the P. R., would take her punishment sullenly, without
an effort at rising or resistance. Nevertheless, I stand by "The Asia,"
as a right good boat for rough weather, though she is not a flyer, and
sometimes could hardly do more than hold her own. Eighty-one knots in
the twenty-four hours was all the encouragement the log could give one
day.

I liked our commander exceedingly. He had just left the Mediterranean
station, and there still abode with him a certain languid levantine
softness of voice and manner; when he came in to dinner, out of the wild
weather, the moral contrast with the turmoil outside was quite
refreshing. Report speaks highly of Captain Grace's seamanship; and I
believe in him far more implicitly than I should in one of those hoarse
and blusterous Tritons, who think roughness and readiness inseparable,
and talk to you as if they were hailing a consort.

The library on board was not extensive, consisting (with the exception
of "The Newcomes") chiefly of religious works of the Nonconformist
school, and tales, which have long ago passed into surplus stock, or
been withdrawn from general circulation. But there was one invaluable
novel, which I shall always remember gratefully. I never got quite
through it, but I read enough to be enabled to affirm, that its
principles are unexceptionable, its style grammatically faultless, and
its purpose sustained (ah, how pitilessly!) from first to last. The few
amatory scenes are conducted with the most rigid propriety; and when
there occurs a lover's quarrel, the parties hurl high moral truths at
each other, instead of idle reproaches. But it is mainly as a soporific,
that I would recommend "_Silwood_:" on four different occasions, under
most trying circumstances it succeeded perfectly and promptly with me,
for which relief--unintentional, perchance--I tender much thanks to the
unknown author, and wish "more power to his arm."

Quite crippled for the time being by rheumatism, I was in bad form for
clambering about the sloping, slippery planks; nevertheless I did
contrive to crawl up to the hurricane-deck just before sundown, about
the crisis of the gale. I confess to being disappointed in the
"rollers:" it may be that their vast breadth and volume takes off from
their apparent height, but I scarcely thought it reached Dr. Scoresby's
standard--from 26 to 30 feet, if I remember right, from trough to crest.
One realizes thoroughly the _abysmal_ character of the turbulent chaos,
and there is a sensation of infiniteness around and below you not devoid
of grandeur; but as an exhibition of the puissance of angry water, I do
not think the mid-ocean tempest equal to the storm which brings the
thunder of the surf full on the granite bulwarks of Western Ireland.

It must be owned, that the conversational powers of our small society
were limited. Very often some selfishness mingled with my sincere
compassion for the prostrated sufferings of my Philadelphian friend of
the tug-boat; for whenever his weary aching head would allow of the
exertion, he could talk on almost any subject, fluently and well. He was
returning from a long visit to Paris, and a rapid tour through Germany
and Southern Europe. Most of the countries, that he had been compelled
to hurry over, I had loitered through in days past, and I ought to have
been shamed by the contrast in our recollections--his, so clear and
systematical--mine, so vague and dim. An intellectual American
travelling through strange lands does certainly look at nature, animate
and inanimate, after a practical business-like fashion peculiar to his
race; but it would be unfair to infer that such minds are, necessarily,
unappreciative. At all events, that concentrative, synthetical power,
that takes in surrounding objects at a single glance, and retains them
in a tolerably distinct classification, is rather enviable, even as a
mental accomplishment.

We did not speak much about the troubles beyond sea, and the
Philadelphian was rather reserved as to his proclivities. My impression
is, that his sympathy tended rather southward (all his early life had
been spent in Alabama), but he declined to commit himself much, nor do I
believe that he was a violent partisan either way. On one point he was
very decided: Falkland himself could not have wished more devoutly for
the termination of a fatal civil war--fatal, he said, to the interests,
present and future, of both the combatant powers--ruinous to every
class, with two exceptions; the adventurers who, having little to lose,
gained, by joining the ranks of either army, a social position to which
they could not otherwise have aspired; and the speculators, who,
directly or indirectly, fairly or unfairly, made gains vast and unholy,
such as wreckers are wont to gather in time of tempest and general
disaster. He scarcely alluded to the corruption and peculation prevalent
in all high places, diluted in its downward percolation till sutlers and
horse-thieves would strive in vain to emulate the fraudulent audacity of
their superiors. It was well he spared me then, for soon after landing,
my eyes and ears grew weary with the repetition of all these ignoble
details. To illustrate how heavily the taxes were already beginning to
weigh on the non-militant part of the population, my informant proved to
me by very clear figures that, if he individually could secure permanent
exemption from such burdens by the absolute sacrifice of one-tenth of
his whole property, real and personal, the commutation, would be
decidedly advantageous to him. True, he represented a class whose
incomes exceeded a certain standard, and therefore suffered rather more
heavily; but the same calculation, with very slight alterations, applied
to all other subordinate ones.

Grave and mild of speech was the Philadelphian philosopher, without a
trace of dogmatism or self-assertion in his tone; nevertheless, I judged
him to be a man of mark somewhere, and I afterwards heard that, albeit
not a violent or prominent politician, he had great honor in his own
country.

Strong head-winds and a heavy sea baffled us till we had cleared the
longitude of Cape Race; then the weather softened, the breeze veered
round till it blew on our quarter, and we had clear sky above us all the
way in. We sighted the first pilot-boat on the afternoon of January 3d,
and, as she came sweeping down athwart us, with her broad, white wings
full spread, our glasses soon made out the winning number of the
sweepstakes, "22." It was long past dinner hour when the beautiful
little schooner rounded to, under our lee, but all appetite just then
was merged in a craving for latest intelligence.

It was a caricaturist's study--the crowd of keen, anxious faces round
the gangway--as the pilot came aboard. He was a stout man, of
agricultural exterior, looking as if he were in the habit of ploughing
anything rather than the deep sea; but it is the fashion of his guild to
eschew the nautical as much as possible in their attire. The "anxious
inquirers" got little satisfaction from him--he seemed taciturn by
nature, if not sullen--and they came back to where the rest of us stood
on the hurricane deck, muttering discontentedly, "Gold at 46. No news."
It seemed very odd--such a complete stagnation of affairs, military and
civil--but we went to dinner in spite of our disappointment. Before we
rose from table the truth began to ooze out. One or two New York papers,
that had slipped on board with the pilot, were more communicative than
he would or could be.

Thousands of corpses, the full tale of which will never be known till
the day of judgment, lying rolled in blood, with a handful of earth
raked over them under the fatal Fredericksburg heights; the finest army
in Federaldom hurled back upon its intrenchments; nothing but darkness
covering a disastrous, if not shameful defeat; the papers crowded with
dreary funeral notices, showing how, to every great city of the North,
from hospital and battle-ground, the slain are being gathered in, to be
buried among their own people; a wail of widows and orphans and mothers,
from homestead, hamlet, and town, overpowering with its simple energy,
the bombastic war-notes and false stage-thunder of the press; rumors of
a terrible battle in the far West, where, after three days' hard
fighting, Rosecrans barely holds his own, and yet "_there are no
news_!"

It is an excellent quality in a soldier not to know when he is beaten,
but whether blind obstinacy will succeed when it influences the rulers
and destinies of a great nation, is more than questionable. Pondering
these things, I remembered how, four thousand years ago, a stiff-necked
generation were brought to their senses and on their knees. It was on
the morning after the visit of the Dark Angel, when Egypt awoke, and
found not a house in which there was not one dead. If such fearful waste
of life goes on here, with no decisive or final advantage on either side
attained, that ancient curse may not be long in recurring.

I rose when the sun ought to have risen, on the following morning,
intending to admire the famous harbor which Americans love to compare
with the Neapolitan Bay. But long before we reached the Narrows,

    "A blinding mist came up and hid the land
    As far as eye could see."

Very soon we were buried in fog, dense and Cimmerian, as ever brooded
over our own Thames or the Righi panorama. More and more slowly the
paddles turned, till they stopped altogether. It was dangerous to
advance, ever so cautiously, when the keenest sight could not pierce
half a ship's length ahead. So there we lay at anchor for weary hours,
listening to the church-bells chiming drowsily through the heavy air,
till an enterprising tug ventured out for the mails, and sent another
for the relief of the passengers.

The custom-house officers were not troublesome, and I was soon at the
Brevoort House, the Parisian Pylades still faithfully following my
fortunes. I was far from entreating him to leave me; landing utterly
alone in a strange land, one does not lightly cast aside companionship.
For reasons easily understood, I had declined to avail myself of many
proffered letters of introduction to New Yorkers.

That lonely feeling did not last long: the first object which caught my
eye on the steps of the Brevoort House was an honest English face--a
face I have known, and liked right well, these dozen years and more.
There stood "the Colonel" (any Ch. Ch. or Rifle Brigade man will
recognize the _sobriquet_), beaming upon the world in general with the
placid cheerfulness that no changes of time or place or fortune seem
able to alter, looking just as comfortable and thoroughly "at home" as
he did, steering Horniblow to victory at Brixworth. I had heard that my
old friend was on his way to England to join the Staff College, but had
never reckoned on such a successful "nick" as this. By my faith, my
turns of luck beyond the Atlantic were not so frequent as to excuse
forgetfulness, when they did befall.

So I had aid and abetment in performing the little lionization which is
obligatory on a visitor to New York; for the "Colonel's" comrade, my
fellow-voyager of the Asia, came to the same hotel.

Assisted by the Parisian, we made trial of the esculents peculiar to the
country--gombo soup, sweet potatoes, terrapins, and canvas-backs--with
much solemnity and satisfaction, agreeing, that fame had spoken truth
for once, in extolling the two last-named delicacies. We went to the
Opera, and there, in a brilliant _salle_ of white and gold, spoilt,
however, by the incongruity of bonnets mingling everywhere with full
evening toilettes, assisted at a massacre--unmusical and melancholy--of
"Lucrezia." We drove out through the crude, unfinished Central Park to
Harlem lane, whither the trotters are wont to resort, and saw several
teams looking very much like work (though no celebrities), almost all of
the lean, rather ragged form which characterizes, more or less, all
American-bred "fast horses." The ground was too hard frozen to allow of
anything beyond gentle exercise; but even at quarter-speed, that
wonderful hind-action was very remarkable. Watching those clean, sinewy
pasterns shoot forward--well _outside_ of the fore hoof-track--straight
and swift as Mace's arm in an "upper-cut," you marvel no longer at the
mile-time which hitherto has seemed barely credible.

Perhaps this same bitter weather may account for our disappointment in
the brilliancy of Broadway. Several careful reviews of the sunny side
failed to detect anything dangerously attractive in beauty, equipage, or
attire. It is probable that most of the _lionnes_ had laid them down in
their delicate dens, waiting for a more clement season, to renew
external depredations; though sometimes you could just catch a glimpse
of bright eyes and a little pink nose peering over dark fur wrappings,
as a brougham or barouche, carefully closed, swept quickly by. We
visited Barnum, of course. I think a conversational and communicative
Albino was the most note-worthy curiosity in the Museum, chiefly, from
his intense appreciation of the imposture of the whole concern,
originated and directed by the King of Humbugdom.

The sanguine popular mind was unusually depressed just then. The
President's emancipatory proclamation had recently issued, and seemed to
adapt itself, with wonderful elasticity, to the discontents of all
parties; not comprehensive enough for the ultra-Abolitionists, it was
stigmatized by the Democrats as unconstitutional and oppressive; while
moderate politicians agreed that, beyond irritating feelings already
bitter enough, it would be practically invalid as an offensive measure.
We shall see, hereafter, how these prognostications were justified.

But the first word in all men's mouths, for a day or two at least after
my arrival, was--Monitor. That same gale which had buffeted the Asia so
rudely on the high seas, had raged yet more savagely shorewards: the
Merrimac's antagonist, like a drowning paladin of the mail-clad days,
had sunk under her mighty armor, and now, with half her crew in their
iron coffin, lay at rest in the crowded burial-ground on which Cape
Hatteras looks down. Great discouragement and consternation--greater
than has often been caused by the loss of any single vessel--fell upon
all the North when the news came in. Ever since her famous duel, which
the Federals never would allow was a drawn battle, they had elevated the
Monitor into a national champion, and prophesied weeping in the South if
she and their batteries should meet: few then dared to insinuate a doubt
about Charleston's certain fall, when once the leaguer was fairly
mustered for assault. Grave doubts were now expressed as to the
seaworthiness of all the new iron-clads, though their advocates could
point to a sister of the unhappy Monitor, which had survived a great
part of the same storm. That they all must be more unsafe in really
rough weather than the crankiest of our old "coffin brigs," seems quite
ascertained now: the fact of their being unable to make headway through
a heavy sea unless towed by a consort, speaks for itself. The immediate
cause of the Monitor's foundering (according to Captain Worden's
account, which my informant had from his own lips) was a leak sprung,
where her protruding stern-armour, coming down flat on the waves with
every plunge of the vessel, became loosened from the main hull; but, for
some time before this was discovered, she seems to have spent more
minutes under than above the water, and nothing alive could have stood
unlashed for a second on her deck. So great was the public
disappointment, that the tribe of false prophets--whose cry of "Go up to
Ramoth Gilead, and prosper," deafens us here, not less, usually in
defeat than in success--did for awhile abate their blatancy; while
Ericsson--most confident of projectors--spake softly, below his breath,
as he suggested faint excuse and encouragement.

The news from the West--hourly improving, and more clearly
confirmed--were hardly welcomed, as they deserved, and scarcely
counter-balanced the naval disaster. It was not long, however, before
Rosecrans the Invincible came in for his full share of credit--perhaps
not more than he merited. Few other Federal commanders can claim that
epithet; and, though some people persisted in considering Murfreesburg a
Pyrrhic victory, it is certain that he held his ground manfully, and
eventually advanced, where defeat, or even a retrograde movement, would
have been simply ruin.

On the fifth day our small company were scattered--each going his own
way, east, north, and south--while the Parisian abode in New York still.



CHAPTER II.

CONGRESSIA.


Of two lines to Philadelphia I selected the longest, wishing to see the
harbor, down which a steamer takes passengers as far as Amboy; but the
Powers of the Air were unpropitious again: it never ceased blowing, from
the moment we went on board a very unpleasant substitute for the regular
passage-boat, till we landed on the railway pier. My first experience of
American travel was not attractive. The crazy old craft puffed and
snorted furiously, but failed to persuade any one that she was doing
eight miles an hour; the grime of many years lay thick on her dusky
timbers--dust under cover, and mud where the wet swept in, and her
close, dark cabins were stifling enough to make you, after five minutes
of vapor-bathing, plunge eagerly into the bitter weather outside.
Indeed, there was not much to see, for the track lies on the inner and
uglier side of Staten Island. The last few miles lead through marshes,
with nothing taller growing than reeds and osiers.

For an hour or so after leaving Amboy, you look out on a country thickly
populated, well cultivated, and trimly fenced, bearing a strong
resemblance to parts of our own eastern counties. We passed through one
wood, in height of trees, sweep of ground, color of soil, and build of
boundary-fence, so exactly like a certain cover in Norfolk similarly
bisected by the rail, that I could have picked out the precise spot
where, many a time and oft, I have waited for the "rocketers." But the
character of the landscape soon changed; loose, sprawling "zigzags"
usurped the place of neat squared posts and rails; the stunted woodland
stretched farther afield, with rarer breaks of clearing; and the low
hill-ranges, behind which the watery sun soon absconded, looked drearily
bare in the distance.

It was pleasant, from the ferry boat, which was our last change, to meet
the lights of Philadelphia, gleaming out on the broad dark Susquehanna.

I can say little of that staid, opulent, intensely respectable city--not
even if the imputation of dullness, cast upon her by the more mercurial
South, be a slander; for the few hours of my stay there were spent
almost entirely with my Asiatic friend, whose invitations and
inducements to a longer sojourn were very hard to resist. But I was
impatient to get on (as men will be who cannot see their arm's-length
into the future), and at midnight I started again for Washington.

My recollections of that journey are the reverse of roseate. The
atmosphere of the cars--windows hermetic, and stoves red-hot--made one
look back regretfully on the milder _inferno_ of the passage-boat; the
acrid apple-odor was more pungently nauseating; and the abomination of
expectoration less carefully dissembled. Besides this, I was afflicted
by another nuisance, purely private and personal.

Whether there be any such thing as love at first sight or no, is a
question--grave or gay, as you choose to discuss it--but, that
instinctive antipathies exist, is most certain. I was the victim of one
of such that night. Waiting for change in the ticket-office, my eye
lighted on a dark man, of African appearance, standing unpleasantly
near, and for a second or two I could not get rid of a horrible
fascination, compelling me to stare. I say "dark man" advisedly, for it
would have been hard to guess at his original color, unless his cast of
feature had not given a line. Now, I have seen Irish squatters in their
cabins, London outcasts in their penny lodgings, and beggars of Southern
Europe in their nameless dens; but the conviction flashed upon me (and
it has never since passed away), that I was then gazing on a dirtier
specimen of healthy humanity than I had ever yet foregathered with. I
believe that all the rains of heaven beating on his brow would not have
altered its dinginess by a shade, nor penetrated one of the earthy
layers that had thickened there; a thunder-shower must have glanced off,
as water will do from tough, hardened clay. Rough patches of hair,
scanty and straggling, like the vegetation of waste, barren lands, grew
all over his cheeks and chin (a negro with an ample, honest beard is an
anomaly), and a huge bush of wool--unkempt, I dare swear, from earliest
infancy--seemed to repel the ruins of a nondescript hat. Whether he was
really uglier than his fellows I cannot remember--I was so absorbed in
contemplating and realizing his surpassing squalor--but the expression
of the uncouth face (if it had any whatsoever) was, I think, neither
ferocious nor sullen. There is generally a "colored car" attached to
every train; for you will find the tender-hearted Abolitionist, in
despite of his African sympathies, when it is a question of personal
contact or association, quite as earnest in keeping those "innocent
blacknesses" aloof, as the haughtiest Southerner. On the present
occasion there was no such distinction of races. I do not think the
contraband was conscious of the effect produced by his lordly presence;
it was probably simple accident which brought him so often in my
neighborhood; but, wherever I moved through the crowded cars, seeking
for a seat, the loose shambling limbs and dull vacant eyes seemed
impelled to follow. At last I lost my _bete noire_, and found a place
close to the door with nothing but a low pile of logs in my front. I was
tired, and soon began to doze; but I woke up with a start and a shudder,
as a haunted man might do, becoming aware, in sleep, of the approach of
some horrible thing. There he sat, on the logs close to my feet, in a
heavy stertorous slumber, his huge head rocking to and fro, and his
features hideously contorted, as he growled and gibbered to himself in
an unknown tongue, like some dreaming Caliban. I arose and fled away
swiftly from the face of my "brother," and, finding no other available
resting-place, did battle on the outside platform with the keen night
wind.

I am indebted, however, to that honest contraband for a curious sight,
which I should have otherwise missed--the crossing of the Gunpowder
River. There, the train rushes, on a single track, over three-quarters
of a mile of tremulous trestle-work, without an apology for a side-rail,
so that you look straight down into the dark water, over which you seem
wafted with no visible support beneath. The effect is sufficiently
startling, especially seen as I saw it, under a bright, capricious moon.
From Baltimore, the cars were less crowded, and I encountered my dusky
tormentor no more.

If there is much in first impressions, I was not likely to be enchanted
with Washington.

The snow, just then beginning to melt, lay inches deep on the
half-frozen soil; everything looked unnaturally and unutterably dreary
in the bleak leaden dawn-light; and, as I drove down Pennsylvania avenue
(after rejection at the lodgings to which I had been recommended), the
first object that caught my eye was a huge placard:

     EMBALMING OF THE DEAD.

These ghastly advertisements are not unfrequent in that part of the
city, and I was informed that the advertisers occasionally do a very
brisk business.

After waiting for two hours in the hall of the Metropolitan, like a
client in some patrician antechamber, they _did_ accord me a tolerable
room on the sublimest story.

I called that same afternoon on Lord Lyons, to whom I brought an
introductory letter. I have to thank the British Legation for much
courteous kindness, and for two very pleasant evenings, on the first of
which I was the guest of the chief, on the second, of his secretaries.
Here will (if I ever leave it behind me) begin and end my agreeable
reminiscences of Washington. I disliked it cordially at first sight; I
was thoroughly bored before I had got through my stay of seventy hours;
I utterly abominate and execrate the city

     From turret to foundation-stone,

at this moment, as I catch a narrow glimpse of its outskirts through the
rusty window-bars of the Old Capitol. Should the Southern Mazeppas,
whose banners have already floated in sight of Arlington Heights, ever
work their will here, I could name one Briton whose composure will not
be ruffled by compassion at hearing the news. If there is anything in
presentiments, surely one of these whispered warnings thus early in my
pilgrimage, though I was deafer than the adder just then.

There was in Washington, of course, the usual crowd--official,
political, and mercantile--with a vast supplement of hangers-on and
aspirants, that always follows the meeting of Congress; and, besides,
the influx never ceased of all officers who could get leave--of many who
could not--from the Army of the Potomac. Speaking impartially--for I
scarcely interchanged four words with an American during my stay--I
thought the military element the most repulsive.

It would be unfair to cavil at the absence of a martial bearing in men,
who, having followed other professions all their lives, so lately and
suddenly took up that of arms. In this singular war, whole regiments
have been sent into action (as at Antietam) without even an hour's
practice in file-firing, and have stood their ground, too, manfully,
though helplessly, the merest food for cannon. So it is not strange if
the lawyers, merchants, clerks, stock-brokers, bar-keepers, and
newspaper editors, who officer the volunteer corps, should laugh at
"setting-up" preliminaries to scorn, and consider a few days of rough
battalion-drill a satisfactory qualification for efficient service in
the field.

In spite of these disadvantages, it is indisputable that the Yankee will
fight right stubbornly, after his own fashion, though rarely with the
dash and fire of the Southerner. Considering the raw and heterogeneous
materials out of which the huge armies of the North have been formed,
the individual instances of personal cowardice are creditably rare. Even
in the cases of disorderly retreats, I believe discipline rather than
pluck to have been wanting. Martinets and formalists would certainly be
out of place here, and some of the technicalities of the art of war may
well be dispensed with; nevertheless, all these palliations do not alter
my unfavorable impression of the Federal officer on furlough.

Once out of the camp, and among familiar scenes again, the recent
centurion falls back, swiftly and easily, into the slovenly habits and
careless demeanor that were natural to him before he was called to
command; his uniform begins to look like a masquerade dress hired for
the occasion; of the hard and, perhaps, gallant service of months past,
there is soon no other evidence, than an unnecessary loudness of speech,
and a readiness to seize on any occasion to bluster or blaspheme. A
friend of mine once remarked (by way of excuse for being detected in the
most eccentric _deshabille_) that "the British dragoon, under _any_
circumstances, was a respectable and elevating sight." I do not think
the most amiable stranger would be inclined to concede as much to an
officer of Federal volunteers, encountering that warrior in his native
bar or oyster saloon. On the whole, I prefer the real Zouave _en
tapageur_, to his Transatlantic imitator: the former at least swaggers
_professionally_.

It would hardly be honest to take the "loafers" of Washington as fair
representatives of their order: there are, no doubt, better--if not
braver--soldiers in the front; and perhaps even the queer specimens then
before me might look decent, if not dignified, under the earnest light
of battle.

But wherever I was brought in contact with portions of the Federal army
(I never saw a whole regiment in review order), I was forcibly struck
with the entire absence of the "smartness" which distinguishes our own
and much of the Continental soldiery. While I was at Washington, there
were three squadrons of regular cavalry encamped in the centre of the
city. These troops were especially on home-service--guard-mounting,
orderly duty, &c.--with no field or picket work whatever. There was no
more excuse for slovenliness than might have been allowed to a regiment
in huts at Aldershott or Shorncliffe. I wish that the critical eye of
the present Cavalry Inspector-General could inspect that encampment; if
he preserved his wonted courteous calmness, it would be a very Victory
of Suffering: the effect upon his predecessor would be instantly fatal.

The arms looked tolerably clean and serviceable; but bridle-bits,
bosses, spurs, and accoutrements were crusted with rust and grime;
boots, buttons, and clothing were innocent of the brush as the horses'
coats of the curry-comb. The most careful grooming could not have made
the generality of these animals look anything but ragged and
weedy--rather dear at the Government price of 115-120 dollars,--and
their housings were not calculated to set them off to advantage. The
saddle--a modification of the Mexican principle of raw-hide stretched
over a wooden frame--carries little metal-work; it is lighter, I think,
than ours, and more abruptly peaked, but not uncomfortable; being thrown
well off the spine and withers, there is little danger of sore backs
with ordinary care in settling the cloth or blanket. The heavy clog of
wood and leather, closed in front, and only admitting the fore-part of
the foot, which serves as a stirrup, is unsightly in the extreme; its
advantages are said to be, protection from the weather, and the
impossibility of the rider's entanglement: but the sole has no grip
whatever, and rising to give full effect to a sabre-cut would be out of
the question. Besides a halter, a single rein, attached to rather a
clumsy bit, is the usual trooper's equipment: to this is attached the
inevitable ring-martingale, without which few Federal cavaliers, civil
or military, would consider themselves safe.

I cannot conceive such an anomaly as a thorough Yankee _horseman_.
Given--one, or a span of trotters, to be yoked after the neatest
fashion, and to be driven gradually and scientifically up to
top-speed--the Northerner is quite at home, and can give you a wrinkle
or two worth keeping. But this habit of hauling at horses, who often go
as much on the bit as on the traces, is destructive to "hands." If the
late lamented Assheton Smith were compelled to witness the equitation
here, he would suffer almost as much as Macaulay in the purgatory which
Canon Sidney imagined for the historian. I have discussed that
Martingale-question with several good judges and breeders of American
blood-stock, but I never could get them _quite_ to agree in the
absurdity of tying down a colt's head for the rest of his natural life,
without regard to his peculiar propensities--star-gazing, boring, or
neutral. The custom, of course, never could prevail where men were in
the habit of crossing a country; but an American horse is scarcely ever
put at anything beyond the ruins of a rail fence, and there are few,
north of the Potomac, that I should like to ride at four feet of stiff
timber. It is very different in the South, where many men from infancy
pass their out-door life in the saddle: from what I have heard,
Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia--to say nothing of the wild Texan
rangers--could show riders who, when the first strangeness had worn off,
would hold their own tolerable in England, over a fair hunting country,
in any ordinary run.

On the outbreak of the war, volunteers enlisted in the Federal cavalry,
who--far from being able to manage a horse--could not bridle one without
assistance; and a conscript, who could keep his saddle through an entire
day, without "taking a voluntary," was considered by his fellows as a
credit to the regiment, and almost an accomplished dragoon. Such a thing
as a military riding-school has, I believe, never been thought of, away
from West Point; the drill is simply that of mounted infantry. Things
are better now than they were; a Federal cavalryman can at least sit
saddle-fast, to receive and return a sabre-cut; there have been some
sharp skirmishes of late, and, allowing for exaggeration, Averill's
encounter with Fitzhugh Lee brought out real work on both sides.

Looking at that squalid encampment, it was easy to realize all one had
heard of the mortality among the horses in the Army of the Potomac,
where no natural causes could justify it. Unless some sympathy exists
between the two--unless the trooper takes some pride or interest in the
animal he rides beyond that of being conveyed safely from point to
point--it is vain to expect that the comforts of the latter will be
greatly cared for. General orders are powerless here, and the personal
supervision of the officers--even if "stables" were as carefully
attended as in our own service--would only touch the surface of the
evil. That utter absence of _esprit du corps_ and soldierly
self-respect, has cost the Federal treasury many millions; nor will the
drain ever cease till "re-mounts" shall be no more needed.

The foregoing remarks apply exclusively to the _tenue_ of the privates
and non-commissioned officers; those of superior rank that I met were
tolerably correct, both in dress and equipment; several, indeed, were
mounted on really powerful chargers, and rode them not amiss, though
with a seat as unprofessional as can be conceived.

The military loungers certainly monopolize all the leisure of
Washington--by day at least; for, if all tales are true, the
legislators, in the evening and small hours, are wont to unbend somewhat
freely from their labors; and the Senate acts wisely, in not risking
through a night session the little dignity it has left to lose. But,
with few exceptions, every civic face meets you with the same anxious,
worried look of unsatisfied craving; there is hunger in all the
restless, eager eyes, and the thin, impatient lips work nervously, as if
scarcely able to repress the cry which the children of the horse-leech
have uttered since the beginning of time. It is easy to understand this,
when you remember that, at such a season, there gathers here, besides
the legion of politicians and partisans, and the mighty army of
contractors, a vaster host of persons interested in the private bills
submitted to Congress, and of candidates for the numerous places of
preferment which are being vacated and created daily. Before the
smallest of these has lain open for an hour, there will be scores of
shrill claimants wrangling over it, summoned from the four winds of
heaven by the unerring instinct of the Rapacidæ.

Every one of any official or political standing can either influence or
dispose of a certain amount of patronage; to such, life must sometimes
be made a heavy burden. Human nature shrinks from the contemplation of
what each successive President must be doomed to undergo. His nerves
ought to be of iron, and his conscience of brass, or a Gold Coast
Governorship might prove a less dangerous dignity. The character best
fitted for the post would be such an one as Gallio, the tranquil cynic
of Antioch.

Marking, and hearing these things, I thoroughly appreciated an anecdote
told me on board the Asia. At Mobile, in 1849, the Philadelphian met
President Polk, then on his way home from Washington, his term having
just expired. He took up office--a cheery, sanguine man, quite as
healthy as the generality of his compatriots at forty-five; he laid it
down--a helpless invalid, shattered in body and mind, past hope of
revival. My informant, who knew him well, was much shocked at the
change, but tried to console the ex-President, by speaking of the
important measures that made his administration one of the most eventful
since that of Washington; hinting that such grave responsibility and
continual excitement might well account for exhaustion and reaction. The
sick man shook his head drearily, and put the implied compliment aside:
he was past such vanities then.

"You're wrong," he said. "It isn't Oregon, or Mexico, or Texas, but the
office-hunters that have brought me--where I am."

In that answer there was the simple solemnity, that attaches to the
lightest words of the dying. Sixty days later the speaker was "sleeping
down in Tennessee," never more to be vexed by the clamor of the
cormorants, or waked by the clients keeping watch at his door. Nor was
he a solitary victim. General Taylor did not live to see half his duty
done, and the atmosphere of the White House, in one month, proved fatal
to Harrison.

To a disinterested spectator--especially if he chance to be of indolent
temperament--there is something very irritating in the ceaseless crowd,
and hurry, and din. From early morning till long past midnight, you
might search in vain, through any one of the principal hotels, for a
quiet nook to write or read in, unless it were found in your own
chamber, where the appliances of comfort are more than limited. All
private sitting-rooms are instantly engaged at fabulous prices, and, in
the public parlors the feminine element reigns with no divided sway. It
is difficult to appreciate even newspaper "leader," with a prattle and
titter around, wherein mingle tunes, not _quite_ so low and sweet as the
voice of Cordelia. Those energetic civilians never seem at rest or at
ease; they snatch their frequent drinks, upstanding and covered, as if
they were just a minute behindhand for some appointment, and bolt their
food, as if dinner were a necessary medicinal evil.

Soothe to say, the edibles do not deserve much better treatment: the
whole commissariat arrangements in the hotels is supremely
uncomfortable. The guests feed separately, but no dinner can be served
in the public rooms after five, P. M.. You can choose to any
extent, from a sufficiently ample, though very simple, _carte_; but your
repast arrives _en masse_, no matter into how many courses it ought
naturally to be divided, and is set down before you in uncovered dishes.
Of course, when you arrive at the last, it retains scarcely a memory of
the fire. I saw some of the _indigènes_ obviate the inconvenience, by
taking fish, flesh, and fowl on their plate at one and the same time,
consuming the impromptu "olla" with a rapid impartial voracity; but so
bold an innovation on old-world customs would hardly suit a stranger.
All liquors are rather high in price and lower in quality than one would
expect, considering the place and season; but the sum charged for
unstinted board and a tolerable bed (from two to two and a half dollars
per diem), is reasonable enough, especially during the present
depreciation of the currency.

Out-door scenes were not much more attractive. The three-months' reign
of Jupiter Pluvius, which has made this spring evilly notorious, had
just begun in earnest. In the main avenues, on either side of the
rail-track of the cars, the mud was a trifle deeper than that of a
cross-lane, in winter, in the Warwickshire clays. To traverse the
by-streets comfortably, you require rather a clever animal over a
country, and especially good in "dirt;" they are intersected by frequent
brooks, much wider and deeper than that celebrated one which tested the
prowess of "_le bonhomme Briggs_." There are rough stepping-stones at
some of the crossings, and the passage of these, after nightfall,
resembles greatly that of a "shaking" bog, where the traveler has to
leap from tussock to moss-hag with agile audacity; the consequences of a
false step being, in both cases, about the same. I began to think,
regretfully of certain rugged continental _pavés_ execrated in days gone
by; they, at least, had a firm bottom, more or less remote.

The public buildings of Washington do not attempt architectural display:
with scarcely an exception, they are severely simple and square. But
there is a certain grandeur in the masses of white marble, which is
everywhere lavishly employed, and the Capitol stands right well--alone,
on the crest of a low, abrupt slope, with nothing to intercept the view
from its terraces, seaward, and up the valley of the Potomac. The effect
will probably be better when wind and weather shall have slightly toned
down the sheen of the fresh-hewn stones, so dazzling now as almost to
tire the eye.

I lingered some time in the stranger galleries of Congress, but--"a
plague on both their Houses"--there was no question of stirring interest
before either. I had hoped to see at least one Representative committed
to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms; but, on that day, the
hardly-worked official had rest from his labors. Only a few hours later,
an irascible Senator (from Delaware, I think) created a temporary
excitement by defying first his political opponent, and then generally
all powers that be, eventually displaying the revolver, which is the
_ratio ultima_, of so many Transatlantic debates. I heard some "tall
talking," enforced by much energy of gesture and resonance of tone; but
not a period veiling on eloquence. The speakers generally seemed to have
studied in the simple school of the "stump" or the tavern, and, when at
a loss for an argument, would introduce a diatribe against the South, or
a declaration of fidelity to the Union, very much as they might have
proposed a toast or sentiment, supremely disregardful of such trifles as
relevancy or connection. The retort--more or less courteous--seemed much
favored by these honest rhetoricians, and appreciated by the galleries,
who at such times applauded sympathetically, in despite of menace or
intercession of Vice-President or Speaker. Nobody, indeed, took much
notice of either of these two dignitaries; and they appeared perfectly
reconciled to their position. You would not often find orators and
audience understand one another more thoroughly; the easy freedom of the
whole concern was quite festive in its informality.

Having secured a portion of my English letters (one or more were
retained for the recreation, and, I hope, improvement of the
post-official mind), nothing detained me in Washington beyond the fourth
morning. I turned northwards the more cheerfully, because it involved
escape from a certain chamber-maiden, to whose authority I was subjected
at the Metropolitan--the most austere tyrant that ever oppressed a
traveler. That grim White Woman might have paired with the Ancient
Mariner--she was so deep-voiced, and gaunt, and wan. On the few
occasions when I ventured to summon her, she would "hold me with her
glittering eye" till I quailed visibly beneath it, utterly scorning and
rejecting some mild attempts at conciliation. I am certain she suspected
me of meditating some black private or public treachery; and I know
there was joy in that granite heart when circumstances brought me, at
last, in my innocence, before the bar of her offended country. On that
fourth morning, however, the mood of Sycorax seemed to change; there was
a ghastly gayety in her manner, and on her rigid lips an Homeric smile,
more terrible than a frown. Then I pondered within myself--"If her hate
be heavy to bear, what--what--would her love be?" The unutterable horror
of the idea gave me courage that I might otherwise have lacked, to
confess my intentions of absconding. But I avow that the liberality of
the parting largesse is to be attributed to the meanest motives--of
personal fear.

On the railway platform, shaking the mud of Washington from my drenched
boots, I purposed never to return thither. But I reckoned without my
future hosts, MM. Seward and Stanton, who, though I have trespassed on
their hospitality, now for some weeks, seem still loth to let me go.



CHAPTER III.

CAPUA.


The southward approach to Baltimore is very well managed. The railroad
makes an abrupt curve, as it sweeps round the marshy woodlands through
which the Patapsco opens into the bay; so that you have a fair view of
the entire city, swelling always upwards from the water's edge, on a
cluster of low, irregular hills, to the summit of Mount Vernon. From
that highest point soars skyward a white, glistening pillar crowned by
Washington's statue. I have seldom seen a monument better placed, and it
is worthy of its advantages. The figure retains much of the strength and
grace for which in life it was renowned, and, if ever features were
created, worthy of the deftest sculptor and the purest marble, such,
surely, was the birthright of that noble, serene face.

No one, that has sojourned in Washington, can be ten minutes in
Baltimore without being aware of a great and refreshing change. You
leave the hurry and bustle of traffic behind at the railway station, and
are never subjected to such nuisances till you return thither. Even in
the exclusively commercial squares of the city there reigns comparative
leisure, for, except in the establishments of government contractors, or
others directly connected with the supply of the army, business is by no
means brisk just now. You may pass through Baltimore street, the main
artery bisecting the town from east to west, at any hour, without
encountering a denser or busier throng than you would meet in Regent
street, any afternoon _out_ of the season, and, about the usual
promenade time, the proportion of fair _flâncuses_, to the meaner
masculine herd, would be nearly the same.

I betook myself to Guy's hotel, which had been recommended to me as
quiet and comfortable: for many people it would have been _too_ quiet.
The black waiters carried the science of "taking things easy" to a rare
perfection; they were thoroughly polite, and even kindly in manner, and
never dreamed of objecting to any practicable order, but--as for
carrying it out within any specified time--_altra cosa_. After a few
vain attempts and futile remonstrances, the prudent and philosophical
guest would recognize resignedly the absolute impossibility of obtaining
breakfast, however simple, under forty-five minutes from the moment of
commanding the same; indeed that was very good time, and I positively
aver that I have waited longer for eggs, tea, and toast. I never tried
abuse or reproach, for I chanced, early in my stay, to be present when
an impatient traveler voided the vials of his wrath on the head of the
chief attendant: insisting, with many strange oaths, on his right to
obtain cooked food, of some sort, within the half-hour.

Years ago, I was amused, at the _Gaietés_, by a common-place scene
enough of stage-temptation. _Madelon_, driven into her last
intrenchments by the sophistries of the wily aristocrat, objected
timidly, "_Mais, Monseigneur, j'aime mon mari._" For a moment the
_Marquis_ was surprised, and seemed to reflect. Then he said,
"_Tiens--tu aimes ton mari? C'est bizarre: mais--après tout--ce n'est
pas defendu._" As he spoke, he smiled upon his simple vassal--evidently
wavering between amusement and compassion.

With just such a smile--allowing for the exaggeration of the African
physiognomy--did "Leonoro" contemplate his victim, and me, the
bystander, and then sauntered slowly from the room, without uttering one
word. It was a great moral lesson, and I profited by it. But, in truth,
there was little to complain of; the quarters were clean and
comfortable, and one got, in time, as much as any reasonable man could
desire. The arrangements are on the European system, _i.e._, there are
no fixed hours for meals, which are ordered from the _carte_, and no
fixed charge for board. I should have remained there permanently, had it
not been for one objection, which eventually overcame my aversion to
change. The basement story of the house was occupied by a bar and oyster
saloon; the pungent testaceous odors, mounting from those lower regions,
gave the offended nostrils no respite or rest; in a few minutes, a
robust appetite, albeit watered by cunning bitters, would wither, like a
flower in the fume of sulphur. Half-a-dozen before dinner, have always
satiated my own desire for these mollusks; before many days were over, I
utterly abominated the name of the species; familiarity only made the
nuisance more intolerable, and I fled at last, fairly _ostracised_. How
the _habitués_ stood it was a mystery, till I recognized the fact, that
there is no accident of pleasure or pain to which humanity is liable, no
antecedent of rest or exertion, no untimeliness of hour or incongruity
of place, which will render an apple or an oyster inopportune to an
American _bourgeois_.

My first visit in Baltimore was to the British Consul, to whom I brought
credentials from a member of the Washington Legation. I shall not easily
forget the many courtesies, for which I have never adequately thanked
Mr. Bernal: few English travelers leave Baltimore, without carrying away
grateful recollections of his pleasant house in Franklin street, and
without having received some kindness, social or substantial, from the
fair hands which dispense its hospitalities so gently and gracefully.

On that same evening my name was entered as an honorary member of the
Maryland Club. It would be absurd to compare this institution with the
palaces of our own metropolis; but, in all respects, it may fairly rank
with the best class of yacht clubs. You find there, besides the ordinary
writing and reading accommodation, a pleasant lounge from early
afternoon to early morning; a fair French cook, pitilessly monotonous in
his _carte_; a good steady rubber at limited points; and a perfect
billiard-room. In this last apartment it is well worth while to linger,
sometimes, for half an hour, to watch the play, if the "Chief" chances
to be there. I have never seen an amateur to compare with this great
artist, for certainty and power of cue. A short time before my arrival,
at the carom game, on a table without pockets, he scored 1,015 on _one
break_. I heard this from a dozen eye-witnesses.

I went through many introductions that evening; and, in the next
fortnight, received ample and daily proofs of the proverbial hospitality
of Baltimore. There are residents--praisers of the time gone by, who
cease not to lament the convivial decadence of the city; but such
deficiency is by no means apparent to a stranger.

If _gourmandize_ be the favorite failing in these parts, there is surely
some excuse for the sinners. Probably no one tract on earth, of the same
extent, can boast of so many delicacies peculiar to itself, as the
shores of the Chesapeake. Of these, the most remarkable is the
"terrapin": it is about the size of a common land tortoise, and haunts
the shallow waters of the bay and the salt marshes around. They say he
was a bold man who first ate an oyster; a much more undaunted
experimentalist was the first taster of the terrapin. I strongly advise
no one to look at the live animal, till he has thoroughly learnt to like
the savory meat; _then_ he will be enabled to laugh all qualms and
scruples to scorn. Comparisons have been drawn between the terrapin and
the turtle--very absurdly; for, beyond the fact of both being
testudines, there is not a point of resemblance. Individually, I
prefer the tiny "diamond-back" to his gigantic congener, as more
delicate and less cloying to the palate. Then there is the superb
"canvas-back,"--peerless among water-fowl--never eaten in perfection out
of sight of the sandbanks where he plucks the wild sea-celery; and, in
their due season, "soft crabs," and "bay mackerel." Last of all, there
are oysters (well worth the name!) of every shape, color, and size. They
assert that the "cherrystones" are superior to our own Colchester
natives in flavor: for reasons before stated, I cared not to contest the
point.

A dinner based upon these materials, with a saddle of five-year-old
mutton from the Eastern Shore, as the main _pièce de résistance_, might
have satisfied the defunct Earl Dudley, of fastidious memory. The wines
deserve a separate paragraph.

For generations past, there has prevailed a great rivalry and emulation
amongst the Amphitryons of Baltimore. They seem to have taken as much
pride in their cellars, as a Briton might do in his racing or hunting
stables--bestowing the same elaborate care on their construction and
management. The prices given for rare brands appear fabulous, even to
those who have heard at home, three or four "commissioners" at an
auction, with plenipotentiary powers, disputing the favorite bin of some
deceased Dean or Don. But when you consider, what the lost interest on
capital lying dormant for seventy years will amount to, the apparent
extravagance of cost is easily accounted for.

That is no uncommon age for Madeira. No European palate can form an idea
of this wonderful wine; for, when in mature perfection, it is utterly
ruined by transport beyond the seas. The vintages of Portugal and
Hungary are thin and tame beside the puissant liquor that, after half a
century's subjection to southern suns, enters slowly on its prime, with
abated fire, but undiminished strength. Drink it _then_, and you will
own, that from the juice of no other grape can be drawn such subtlety of
flavor, such delicacy of fragrance, passing the perfume of flowers.
Climate of course is the first consideration. I believe Baltimore and
Savannah limit, northward and southward, the region wherein the maturing
process can be thoroughly perfected.

Those pleasant banquets began early, about 5 P. M., and were indefinitely
prolonged; for cigars are not supposed to interfere with the proper
appreciation of Madeira, and the revelers here cherish the honest old
English custom of chanting over their liquor. Closing my eyes now, so as
to shut out the dingy drab walls of this my prison-chamber, I can call
up one of those cheery scenes quite distinctly: I can hear the "Chief's"
voice close at my ear, trolling forth the traditional West Point ditty
of "Benny Havens," or the rude sea-ballad, full of quaint pathos:--

     'Twas a Friday morning when we set sail;

then--deeper and fuller tones, rolling out Barry Cornwall's sonorous
verses of "King Death." It is good to look back on hours like these,
though I doubt if the ill-cooked meats, whereof I hope soon to
partake--not unthankfully--will be improved by the memory.

In spite of this large hospitality, instances even of individual excess
are comparatively rare. I have seen more aberration of intellect and
convivial eccentricity after a Greenwich dinner, or a heavy
"guest-night," than was displayed at any one of these Baltimore
entertainments: a stranger endowed with a fair constitution, abstaining
from morning drinks, and paying attention to the Irishman's paternal
advice--"Keep your back from the fire, and don't mix your liquors"--may
take his place, with comfort and confidence.

But my social recollections of Baltimore are by no means exclusively
bacchanalian. British stock, lamentably at a discount in other parts of
the Union, is, perhaps, a trifle above par here. The popularity of our
representatives--masculine and feminine--may have something to do with
this; at any rate, the avenues of the best and pleasantest circles are
easily opened to any Englishman of warranted position and name.

If a traveler were to enter a drawing-room here, expecting to be
surprised at every turn by some incongruity of speech or demeanor, such
as book-makers have attributed to our American cousins, he would not
fill a page of his mental note-book. I had no such prejudices to be
disappointed. After experience of society in many lands, I begin to
think that well-bred and educated people speak and behave after much the
same fashion all the world over. Few Baltimorean voices are free from a
perceptible accent; it is more marked in the gentler sex, but rarely so
strong as to be disagreeable. The ear is never offended by the New
England twang, or Connecticut drawl, and some tones rang true as silver.

You hear, of course, occasional peculiarities of expression, and words
somewhat distorted from our Anglican meaning, but these are not much
more frequent or strange than provincial idioms at home. I was only once
fairly puzzled in this wise.

It was at a public "assembly." I had just been presented to the

     Queen rose of a rosebud garden of girls,

a very gazelle, too, for litheness and grace; the music of the _Sirène_
had begun, and my arm had encircled my partner's willowy waist; when I
felt her hang back, and saw on her fair face a distressed look of
penitence and perplexity: "I'm so sorry," she murmured, "but I can't
dance _loose_." Perfectly vague as to her meaning, I assured her that
she should be guided after as _serree_ a fashion as she chose; but this
evidently did not touch the difficulty. By the merest chance, I observed
that all the cavaliers put themselves, as it were, in position, their
left hand locked in the right of their _valseuse_, before making a
start, omitting the preliminary paces that get you well into the swing.
It was all plain sailing then, and swift sailing, too; the rest of the
performance was completed with perfect unanimity, much to my own
satisfaction, and, I trust, not to the discontent of my fairy-footed
charge.

The freedom and independent self-reliance of the Baltimorean
_demoiselles_ is very remarkable. At home they receive and entertain
their own friends, of either sex, quite naturally, and--taking their
walks abroad, or returning from an evening party--trust themselves
unhesitatingly to the escort of a single cavalier. Yet, you would
scarcely find a solitary imitation of the "fast girls" who have been
giving our own ethical writers so much uneasiness of late. It speaks
well for the tone of society, where such a state of things can prevail
without fear and without reproach. Though Baltimore breeds gossips,
numerous and garrulous as is the wont of provincial cities, I never
heard a slander or a suspicion leveled against the most intrepid of
those innocent Unas.

From the _morale_ one must needs pass to the _personel_. On the
appearance of a _debutante_, they say, the first question in Boston is,
"Is she clever?" In New York, "Is she wealthy?" In Philadelphia, "Is she
well-born?" In Baltimore, "Is she beautiful?" And, for many years past,
common report has conceded the Golden Apple to the Monumental city. I
think the distinction has been fairly won.

The small, delicate features, the long, liquid, iridescent eyes, the
sweet, indolent _morbidezza_, that make southern beauty so perilously
fascinating, are not uncommon here, and are often united to a clearness
and brilliancy of complexion scarcely to be found nearer the tropics.
The Upper Ten Thousand by no means monopolize these personal advantages.
At the hour of "dress parade" you cannot walk five steps without
encountering a face well worthy of a second look. Occasionally, too, you
catch a provokingly brief glimpse of a high, slender instep, and an
ankle modeled to match it. The fashion of Balmorals and kilted kirtles
prevails not here; and maids and matrons are absurdly reluctant to
submit their pedal perfections to the passing critic. Even on a day when
it is a question of Mud _v._ Modesty, you may escort an intimate
acquaintance for an hour, and depart, doubting as to the color of her
hosen. But, conceding the justice of Baltimore's claim, and the constant
recurrence of a more than _stata pulchritudo_--I am bound to confess
that, with a single exception, I saw nothing approaching _supreme_
perfection of form or feature.

The exception was a very remarkable one.

I write these words, as reverently as if I were drawing the portrait of
the fair Austrian Empress, or any other crowned beauty: indeed, I always
looked on that face, simply as a wonderful picture, and so I remember it
now. I have never seen a countenance more faultlessly lovely. The _pose_
of the small head, and the sweep of the neck, resembled the miniatures
of Giulia Grisi in her youth, but the lines were more delicately drawn,
and the _contour_ more refined; the broad open forehead, the brows
firmly arched, without an approach to heaviness, the thin chiselled
nostril and perfect mouth, cast in the softest feminine mould, reminded
you of the First Napoleon. Quick mobility of expression would have been
inharmonious there. With all its purity of outline, the face was not
severe or coldly statuesque--only superbly serene, not lightly to be
ruffled by any sudden revulsion of feeling; a face, of which you never
realized the perfect glory till the pink-coral tint flushed faintly
through the clear pale cheeks, while the lift of the long trailing
lashes revealed the magnificent eyes, lighting up, slowly and surely, to
the full of their stormy splendor. It chanced, that the lady was a
vehement Unionist, and "rose," very freely, on the subject of the war.
Sincere in her honest patriotism, I doubt if she ever guessed at the
real object of her opponent in the arguments which not unfrequently
arose. If there be any indiscretion in this pen-and-ink sketch from
nature, I should bitterly regret the involuntary error, though its
subject, to the world in general, remains nameless as Lenore.

There is another peculiarity of Baltimore society, which a stranger will
only perceive when he has passed withinside its porches. It is divided,
not only into sets, but, as it were, into clans. Several of the leading
families, generally belonging to the territorial aristocracy (let the
word stand) that took root in the State at, or soon after, its
settlement, have so intermarried, as to create the most curious net of
cousinship, the meshes of which are yearly becoming more intricate and
numerous. Yet there are no especial indications of exclusiveness or
spirit of _clique_; rather it is the homely feeling of kinsmanship,
which makes the intercourse of relations more familiar and
unceremonious, than that of intimate acquaintances or friends.

Cadets from many powerful houses in all the three kingdoms, were among
the early colonists of Maryland. It is good to mark, how gallantly the
"old blood" hold its own, even here; how, the descendants of soldiers
and statesmen have already attained the pride of place that their
ancestors won at home centuries ago, by a like valiance of sword,
tongue, or pen. Take one family, for instance, with whose members I was
fortunate enough to be especially intimate.

For generations past, the Howards have been men of mark in Maryland.
Wherever hard or famous work was to be done, in field or senate, one, at
least, of the name was sure to be found in the front. The present head
of the family sustains right well the reputations of the worthies who
went before him. A staunch friend and an uncompromising
adversary--valuing political honesty no more lightly than private
honor--liberal and unsuspicious to a fault in his social relations--very
frank and simple in speech--in manner always courteous and cordial--it
would be hard to find, in Europe, an apter representative of the ancient
régime. I believe, that those who really know General Howard, will not
consider this sketch a flattery or an exaggeration. He was a candidate
for the Governorship at the last election, and so powerful was his
acknowledged personal _prestige_, that, in despite of overt intimidation
and secret influences, which made a free voting an absurdity, the Black
Republicans exulted over his withdrawal as an important victory.

Though ordinary business is so slack in Baltimore just at present,
almost every male resident, not engaged in law or physic, has, or
supposes himself to have, something to do. Instances of absolute
idleness are very rare. So, by ten, A. M., all the men betake themselves
to their offices, and there busy themselves about their affairs, after a
fashion, energetic or desultory, till after two o'clock. The dinner hour
varies from three to half-past five. Post-prandial labor is generally
declined; wisely, too, for few American digestions will bear trifling
with; though Nature must have gifted some of my acquaintance with a
marvellous internal mechanism. How, otherwise, could they stand a long
unbroken course of free living, with such infinitesimal correctives of
exercise? The evening is spent after each man's fancy--at the club, or
at one of the many houses where a familiar is certain to meet a welcome,
and more or less of pleasant company. The entertainments are often more
extensive and formal, embracing, of course, music, and such are
invariably wound up by a supper. I have heard certain of our seniors
grow quite pathetic over the abolition of those social, if unsalubrious,
repasts. I wonder at such regrets no longer, if I cannot share them.
There is surely an hilarious informality about these _media-nochi_ that
attaches to no antecedent feast; the freedom of a picnic, without its
manifold inconveniences: as the witching hour draws nearer, the
"brightest eyes that ever have shone" glitter yet more gloriously, till
in their nearer and dearer splendor a Chaldean would forget the stars;
and the "sweetest lips that ever were kissed" sip the creaming Verzenay,
or savor the delicate "olio," with a keener honesty of zest. The
supper-tables are almost always adorned by some of the pretty, quaint
conceits of an artist, whose fame extends far beyond Baltimore. Mr.
Hermann's ice-imitations of all fruits and flowers, are marvellously
vivid and natural: I have never seen them equalled by any continental
_glaciers_.

I have lingered, perhaps, too long over too trifling details; and yet, I
wish I had done my subject more justice. Be it remembered, that I
visited Baltimore at a season of unusual social depression. I do not
speak of the stagnation in commerce, and the ruin of Southern interests
and possessions, from which many have suffered heavy pecuniary loss: the
effects of the war come home to the fair city yet more sharply. For
months past the best part of her _jeunesse dorèe_ have been fighting--as
only the daintily born and bred _can_ fight, at bitter need--in the van
of Southern armies.

Every fresh rumor of battle adds to the crowd of pale, anxious faces,
and every bulletin lengthens the list of mourners. There are few
families, Federal or Secessionist, who have not relatives--none that
have not dear friends--exposed to hourly peril, from disease, if not
from lead or steel. The suspense felt in England during the Crimean or
Indian wars, cannot be compared to that which many here are forced to
endure. _We_ knew, at least, where our soldiers were, and heard often
how they fared: their sickness, wounds, and deaths were all recorded.
But the scenes of this war's vast theatre are so often shifted, and
communication with the remoter parts of the Southwest is so uncertain,
that months will elapse without a line of tidings from the absent; the
grass has grown and withered again, over many graves, before the weary
hearts at home knew that the time was past, for waiting, and watching,
and prayers.

The last season in New York, they say, has been the gayest known for
many years. The _nouveaux riches_ have been spending their ill or well
gotten gains right royally. But the temptations to exuberant festivity
are few indeed in Baltimore, just now: with all that they have to endure
and fear, it speaks well for the hardihood of her citizens, that they
can maintain even a chastened cheerfulness.



CHAPTER IV.

FRIENDS IN COUNCIL.


I may not deny that I found the places in which my lines were just then
cast exceedingly pleasant: if no serious purpose had been before me I
could have been contented to sojourn there till spring had waned. But it
is some satisfaction now to be able to think and say--I do say it, in
perfect honesty and sincerity--that I did not lose sight of my journey's
main object for one single day from first to last. Indeed I should have
felt far more impatient of delay had it not been for the continuance of
foul weather, and recurrence of heavy storms, which made armies no less
than individuals, impotent to act or move. On the morning following my
arrival, I took counsel with one who was, perhaps, better able to advise
me as to my future course than any one then resident in Baltimore:
certainly none could have been more heartily willing to help, both in
word and deed. I owe to that man much more than a debt of ordinary
hospitality. To say that his courtesy and cordiality were marked, where
benevolence to a stranger is the rule, would very faintly express the
personal trouble he undertook and the personal risk he incurred in his
efforts to facilitate and further my purposes. Up to this moment I do
not believe that he has grudged one whit of all this, much as he may
have chafed at all having proved unavailing. I am right sorry that
prudence forbids my chronicling here a name which will always stand high
on my muster-roll of friends; but the memory of almost any Englishman
who has visited Baltimore will fill up the blank that I must leave
perforce.

It seemed that there was a choice of two routes into Secessia. The
first--in many respects the easiest, and far the most traveled--lay
through the lower counties of Maryland: the narrow peninsula on which
Leonardstown is situated forming the starting point, whence the
blockade-runner took to cross the Lower Potomac--there, from four to
eight miles wide. It was necessary to run the gauntlet of several
gun-boats and smaller craft; but traffic at that particular time was
carried on with tolerable regularity, and captures, though not
unfrequent, were, so far, exceptions to a rule. On the land route,
before reaching the point of embarkation, lay the chief difficulties. A
horseman traveling with saddle-bags, became at once a suspicious
personage, liable everywhere to jealous scrutiny. The main roads were
already becoming so cut up as to be traversed only with great toil and
difficulty by ordinary vehicles, while the cross roads were simply
impassable by wheels. The principal turnpikes still hard enough to carry
a "stage," _e. g._, that from Washington to Leonardstown, were more
carefully guarded, and picketed at certain points, especially bridges.
At any one of these points, a search might be apprehended, and anything
beyond the simplest necessaries was liable to seizure as contraband of
war; personal arrest might possibly follow, but the Federal outposts
were said to content themselves, as a rule, with confiscation and
appropriation, unless any documents of a compromising nature were found.
Such a course was obviously pleasanter for all parties, than sending in
prisoners--with their effects. Now it so chanced, that in the
modest--not to say scanty--outfit, which I thought it worth while to
bring out from home, was a certain pair of riding boots, by which I set
especial store. They were such as many of our field-officers now in
Canada are in the habit of wearing--coming high up on the thigh,
perfectly water-proof, but very light, and pliant as a glove. I saw
nothing of American manufacture to compare with them. Some of my
duck-shooting acquaintance at Baltimore were never weary of admiring
their fair proportions; nor did my sage counselor, before alluded to,
refuse his warm approbation; but he urged very strongly the hazard of my
wearing them on my way to the Lower Potomac--to carry or transmit them
otherwise was simply impossible. Nevertheless, neither Bombastes nor
Dalgetty could have clung more obstinately to this favorite _chaussure_
than did I to mine. I knew that in the South, where an ordinary pair of
cavalry boots commands readily seventy dollars or more, they could not
be matched, and I had not

     Lived in the saddle for years a score,

without learning that on a long march the value of thoroughly well
fitting and comfortable nether integuments is "above rubies." And they
did carry me right well and safely through many rough ways and much wild
weather, impervious alike to water, mud, rain, or snow. I _will_ give
honor where honor is due. Fagg, of Panton street, was the architect.[1]
So I "set my foot down," literally and metaphorically, on this point,
absolutely determined that boots and saddle-bags should share my
fortunes. Eventually I compromised things, by investing in a colossal
pair of overalls, warranted to smother and obliterate the proportions of
any human legs, however encased beneath.

[Footnote 1: If this looks like an "advertisement," I can't help it, and
only say that it is a disinterested one; it may be long before I need
water-proofs again, and I owe their deserving manufacturer nothing
but--justice.]

But during this discussion the other route came naturally into question.
It was the one most generally attempted by horsemen, and during the last
ten weeks had been traversed repeatedly with perfect success.

In this neighborhood there were one or two fords, easily crossed at
ordinary seasons, and only impassable after continuous downfalls of snow
or rain. In fact, the chief obstacle was not the river but the
Chesapeake and Ohio canal, which runs close along the northern bank from
Cumberland to Washington. It is not broad, but very deep, muddy, and
precipitous, nor could I hear of any one who had succeeded in getting a
horse across it, or who had even made the attempt. The only passages
were by bridges over, and culverts under, the water-way. These were, of
course, zealously guarded; but it was possible, occasionally, to attack
a picket with an irresistible "silver spear;" and several instances had
lately occurred of sentinels keeping their eyes and ears shut fast
during the brief time required for a small mounted party to pass their
posts. I do not mean to insinuate that venality was the general rule; so
far from this being the case, I understood that it was necessary to make
such overtures with great caution, while the negotiation involved
certain delay and possible failure. Detachments were constantly shifted
from point to point, and regiments from station to station. Some corps
were notoriously more accessible than others. According to common
report, the recruits from New England, Massachusetts, and Connecticut
were the easiest to deal with, and the subalterns were said to be
usually open to a fair offer. But perhaps this was a scandal after all;
for the Marylander holds the Yankee proper in such bitter dislike and
contempt that he would miss no chance of a by-blow.

Once over the river at this point and you were comparatively safe. There
were no regular pickets or patrols on the further bank, and only
scattered reconnoitering parties of cavalry were to be evaded. Under
cover of darkness, with a good local guide, this was easily done--one
long night's ride.

To this route my Mentor and I did at last seriously incline, for good
and sufficient reasons.

The Southern "trooper" fares, I believe, far better in many ways than
his Northern compeer. Besides being more carefully groomed and tended,
he carries a rider better able to husband a failing animal's strength,
so as to "nurse him home." But the "raiders" travel often far and fast
through a country fetlock-deep on light land, where provender is scanty
and shelter there is none. The daily wear and tear of horse-flesh during
this last bitter winter has been something fearful, and even at the time
I speak of the difficulty of obtaining a really serviceable "mount" in
Virginia could hardly be over-estimated. From one thousand to one
thousand five hundred dollars were spoken of as ordinary prices for a
fair charger, and men willing to give that sum had been forced to go
into South Carolina before they could suit themselves. In my own case
the difficulty was increased; for in hard condition, without cloak,
valise, or accoutrements, I drew fourteen stone one pound, in a common
hunting-saddle. Now, an animal well up to that weight, with anything
like action on a turn of speed, is right hard to find on the
Transatlantic seaboard. Even in Maryland, where horse-flesh is
comparatively plenty, and breeders of blood-stock abound, such a
specimen is a rarity. Even among the stallions, I can scarcely remember
one coming up to the standard of a real weight-carrier, with the
exception of Black Hawk. I saw hundreds of active, wiry hackneys,
excellently adapted for fast, _light_ work, either in shafts or under
saddle; their courage and endurance, too, are beyond question; but
looking at them with a view to long, repeated marches (where--if
ever--you ought to have ten "pounds in hand"), I decided that they were
about able to carry--the boots honorably mentioned above. However, after
mature consideration and long debate, it was settled that I should, if
possible, be mounted before starting, instead of trusting to chance
beyond the border. This, of course, decided the selection of routes: no
quadruped could cross the Lower Potomac.

Some scores of miles up the country there lived, and I trust lives
still, a certain small horse-dealer, a firm Secessionist at heart, well
versed in the time-tables of the road southward; indeed, his house was,
as it were, a principal station on the underground railway. He was
reputed trustworthy, and fairly honest in traffic. I can indorse this
conscientiously, only hoping that such a remarkable characteristic as
the last named will not identify the individual to his hurt. I was at
once put into communication with Mr. ---- Symonds, let us call him, for
the sake of old hippic memories. He spoke confidently as to my ultimate
prospects of getting across, without pretending to fix an exact day, or
even week. Shortly before my arrival he had forwarded several travelers,
who arrived at their journey's end without the slightest let or
hindrance. I suppose there is no indiscretion in saying that Lord
Hartington and Colonel Leslie were among the fortunate ones. Mr. Symonds
"thought he had something that would suit me," and, a few days later,
the animal and the dealer paraded for inspection in Baltimore.

I was much pleased with both. The man seemed to understand his business
thoroughly; without making extravagant promises, he expressed himself
willing to serve my purpose to the utmost of his power, at any
reasonable risk to himself, and spoke very moderately about the horse,
asking for nothing more than a fair trial of his merits. I liked the
animal better than anything I had seen so far. He was a dark-brown
gelding, about 15.3, with strong, square hind-quarters, and a fair slope
of shoulder--without much knee-action--but springy enough in his slow
paces: his turn of speed was not remarkable, but he could last forever,
and, if the ground were not too heavy, would gallop on easily for miles
with a long, steady stride; like most Maryland-bred horses, he had
wonderfully clean, flat legs: after the hardest day's work, I never saw
a puff on them; he was not sulky or savage, but had a temper and will of
his own; both of these, however, yielded, after a sharp wrangle or two,
to the combined influence of coaxing and a pair of sharp English rowels:
in the latter days of our acquaintance we never had a difference of
opinion. Considering the scarcity of staunch horse-flesh, the price
asked was very moderate, and I closed the bargain on the spot. I was
assured that my new purchase was of the Black Hawk stock, and he was
christened "Falcon" that same day.

So Mr. Symonds departed, promising to set all possible wheels to work,
and to inform me of the earliest opportunity for a start, the first
_desideratum_ being, of course, a reliable guide.

I cannot say that the hours of my detention hung heavily. The social
attractions of the place were ample enough to fill up afternoons and
evenings right pleasantly. In the mornings, whenever the weather was not
pitilessly bad, I rode or drove through the country round.

I think no one understands the full luxury of rapid motion without
bodily exertion, till they have sat behind a pair of first-class
American trotters. The "wagon," to begin with, is a mechanical triumph.
It is wonderful to see such lightness combined with such strength and
stability. I have seen one, after five years' constant usage over
fearfully bad roads. It was owned by a man noted for reckless pace,
where many Jehus drove furiously; not a bolt or joint had started, the
hickory of shafts and spokes still seemed tough as hammered steel. These
carriages are roomy enough, and fairly comfortable, when you are in
them, but that same entrance is apt rather to puzzle a stranger. The
fore and hind wheels are nearly the same height, and set very close
together; even when the fore-carriage is turned so that they nearly
lock, the space left for ascent between them is narrow indeed; this same
arrangement renders, of course, impossible a sudden turn in a contracted
circle. But the dames and demoiselles who put their trust in these rapid
chariots, make a mock at such small difficulties. You are shamed into
activity after once seeing your fair charge spring to her place, with
graceful confidence, never soiling the skirt of her dainty robe.

The team that I used to drive constantly were fair, but not remarkable
performers; their best mile-time was a trifle under three minutes twenty
seconds. Their owner had not had leisure to keep them in steady
exercise, so that at first they were very skittish, and prone to break;
but they soon settled down to their work, and then did not pull an ounce
too much for pleasure, even when spinning along at top-speed, with their
small lean heads thrust eagerly forward, after the fashion of the barbs
called "Drinkers of the Wind." Once I drove, in single harness, a
trotter whose time was close on two minutes forty-five seconds; but this
is not considered anything extraordinary, and the outside price of such
an animal would be under one thousand dollars: once "inside the forties"
the fancy prices begin, and go up rapidly to four thousand dollars, or
higher.

It must be remembered that the roads in these parts cannot be compared,
either for level or metal, with the highways over our champagne, they
"cut up" fast in rough weather, and settle slowly, while the ground
generally sinks and swells too abruptly to allow of a lengthened stretch
at full speed. I often wished that the whole "turn-out" of which I have
spoken could be transported, without the risk of sea-passage, into one
of our eastern counties. I can hardly conceive a greater luxury to a
"coachman" than sending such a pair along on the road leading into
Norfolk from Newmarket.

I had been some time in Baltimore before I was honored by an
introduction to the most renowned--it is a bold word--of all its
beauties. To many, even in England, the name of "Flora Temple" will not
sound strange: her great feat of the mile in two minutes nineteen
seconds has never yet been equaled, and for the last three years she has
rested idly on her laurels, in default of any challenger to dispute her
sovereignty of the turf. Her owner, W. Macdonald, Esq., resides within a
short distance of the city, and, I doubt not, would receive any stranger
with the same courtesy that he extended to me. His stables are well
worth a visit, for, besides the fair champion, they contain several
other trotters of no mean repute (one team, the "Chicago Chestnuts," is
a notoriety), and the carriages exemplify every improvement of American
manufacture. The building itself is very peculiar--perfectly circular,
with a diameter of one hundred feet, and a dome-roof rising to fifty
feet at the crown. In the centre is a large fountain of white marble,
round which is a broad tan-ride, and outside this again the stalls,
horse boxes, harness and carriage apartments.

On the left-hand side of the entrance-arch is a large chamber,
rush-strewn, like the firing-room of some ancient châtelaine, but
brilliant with polished wood and metal, gorgeous with stained glass:
that is the boudoir of the Queen of the Turf, and over the door-way are
her titles of honor emblazoned. The Great Lady, as is the wont of her
compeers, is somewhat capricious at times, and disinclined to parade her
beauty before strangers; but she chanced to be in a special good humor
that day, and allowed me to admire her "points" at leisure.

It is hard to fancy a more faultless picture of compact activity and
strength. Viewed from a distance, and, at first sight, her proportions
deceive every one; you are surprised, indeed, when you come close to her
withers, and find that you are standing by a veritable pony, barely
reaching fourteen hands three inches. But look at the long slope of
shoulder--the chest wide enough to give the largest lungs free play in
their labor--the flat, square quarters, the muscular fullness of the
upper limbs, so perfectly "let down," the clear, sinewy legs, without a
curb-mark or windfall to tell tales of fearfully fast work and hard
training--and you will wonder less how the championship was won. They
say that the Queen was never fitter than now; yet since her zenith she
has seldom rested, and is now long past the equine climacteric, and far
advanced in her teens.

This part of America is so constantly visited by my compatriots, that it
may be well, while we are on this subject, to say a few words about the
sporting resources of Maryland.

There is very fair partridge-shooting in many districts. As I crossed
the country in mid-winter, I could hardly judge of what the autumn cover
would be; but I heard that of this there was no lack, and that in
October the birds would lie right well, especially in the weedy
stubbles, and along the brushy banks of water-courses. In many places a
fair shot may reckon on from ten to fifteen brace, and I could name two
guns that have not unfrequently bagged from thirty to fifty brace on the
Eastern Shore; but I believe they shot with unusually "straight powder."
There is a good show of woodcock at certain seasons; but it sounds
strange to English ears when they speak of the season opening in June;
the bird is much smaller than ours, weighing, I believe, about seven or
eight ounces, and it is found much oftener in comparatively open ground
than in thick woodland.

But the royal sport of Maryland is the wildfowl shooting on the
Chesapeake Bay. The best of the season was passed long before my
arrival; but in two visits to Carroll's Island, I saw enough to feel
sure that my Baltimore friends vaunted not its capabilities in vain. I
cannot remember having seen elsewhere so promising a "ducking-point."
Imagine a low, marshy peninsula, verging landward into stunted woods,
full of irregular water-courses and stagnant pools--tapering off seaward
into a mere spit of sand, on which reeds and bent-grass scarcely deign
to grow, towards the extreme point, just where the neck is narrowest,
are the "blinds"--ten or twelve in number--a long gunshot apart, in
which the "fowlers" lurk, waiting for their prey. On either side stretch
the broad estuary of the Gunpowder River, and the broader waters of the
Chesapeake, along whose shallows lie the banks of the wild celery on
which the canvas-back loves to feed. Changing these feeding-grounds soon
after dawn and shortly before sunset, the fowls naturally cross the neck
of the little peninsula: they will never willingly pass over land,
unless they can see water close beyond. Occasionally you may have fair
shooting all through the day, but, as a rule, the above-mentioned hours
are those alone when good "flying" may be reckoned on. When it _is_
good, the sport must be superb: it is the very sublimation of
"rocketing." You must hold straight and forward to stop a cock-pheasant
whizzing over the leafless tree-tops--well up in the keen January wind;
but a swifter traveler yet is the canvas-back drake, as he swings over
the bar, at the fullest speed of his whistling pinions, disdaining to
turn a foot from his appointed course, albeit vaguely suspecting the
ambush below. The height of the "flying" varies, of course, greatly. I
saw nothing brought down, to the best of my calculation, within
forty-five or fifty yards, and most were much beyond that distance. At
first you let several chances slip, believing them to be out of shot;
but the mighty duck-guns, carrying five or six drams of strong coarse
powder, do their work gallantly; and nothing can be more refreshing than
the _aplomb_ with which their victims, stricken down from that dizzy
height, strike water, reeds, or sand.

Among the many varieties of fowl--varying from wild swan to
widgeon--that are slain here, the canvas-back holds, by common consent,
the pre-eminence for delicacy of flavor and tenderness of meat; but I
confess I have thought almost as highly of an occasional "red-head" in
perfect condition.

This, the most celebrated of all ducking points on the Chesapeake, is
rented by a club, the members of which are all resident in Baltimore, or
its neighborhood; the number, I think, is limited to twelve. When they
muster in force, the sleeping accommodation must necessarily be limited,
as Mr. Russell describes it; but there is room and verge enough in the
quaint old homestead of the proprietor for any ordinary party. The burly
host himself is quite in keeping with the place, and bears his part
right jovially in the rough-and-ready revels that contrast not
disagreeably with the social amenities left behind in the city. I spent
some very pleasant hours of sunshine and twilight at the "Colonel's";
(he has as good a right to the title as many more pretentious
dignitaries), though the "flying" was indifferent on both my visits. On
the first occasion, though several varieties of fowl were bagged, we
only secured one canvas-back, which was courteous enough to tumble to
the stranger's gun. Sooth to say, the first interview with the
uncompromising contraband who hakes you _is_ a trial, and it is bitterly
cold work for feet and fingers, when you first come into your "blind"
under the early dawn; but the blood soon warms up as the warning cries
from the markers become more frequent; the pulse quickens as the dark
specks or lines loom nearer, defined against the dull red or silvery
gray of the sky-line; chills and shivers are all forgotten, as your
first "red-head," pioneer of a whole "skeen" from the river--crashes
down yards behind you, on the hard, wet sand that fringes the bay.

In the genial October weather, during which comes the cream of the
flying, the sojourn at Carroll's Island must be enviably delightful. But
much I fear, that next autumn's prospects look brighter for the fowl
than for their sedulous persecutors. Who can say what changes may have
been wrought in the fortunes of some of those cheery sportsmen before
next season shall open. Perhaps ere that the echoes of the Chesapeake
will be waked by an artillery that would drown the roar even of the
mighty duck-gun. The sea-fishing in the bay is remarkably good, but it
is not greatly affected by amateurs; and very few yachts are seen on its
usually placid waters. Almost all the streams round the Chesapeake, in
spite of their being perpetually "thrashed," and never preserved, abound
in small trout; but farther afield, in Northwestern Maryland, where the
tributaries of the Potomac and Shenandoah flow down the woody ravines of
Cheat Mountain and the Blue Ridge, there is room for any number of
fly-rods, and fish heavy enough to bend the stiffest of them all.

Before troubles began, they used to hunt, after a fashion, in most of
the upland districts; but the sport can hardly be very exciting. The
gravest of the "potterings" of ancient days, when our great-grandsires
used to "drag" up their fox while the dew lay heavy on the grass, was a
"cracker" compared to one of these runs, as I heard them described.
Three or four couple of cross-bred hounds do occasionally weary and
worry to death their unhappy quarry, after three or four hours "ringing"
through endless woodlands; unless, indeed, he goes earlier to ground, in
which case he is dug out to meet a quicker and more merciful death. The
fact, that a heavy fall of snow is supposed greatly to facilitate
matters, about settles the question of "sport." I should like to ask
Charles Payne, or Goddard, their opinion of "pricking" a fox. However,
to ride straight and fast over such a country would be simply
impossible; their detestable snake-fences meet you everywhere, with
their projecting "zigzags" of loosely-piled rails; you can hardly ever
get a chance of taking them in your stride, and they are a fair standing
jump with the top bar removed, which generally involves dismounting. The
name of poor Falcon had led me so far afield, that I must continue my
own chronicle in another chapter.



CHAPTER V.

THE FORD.


In about ten days I heard from Mr. Symonds. The road was not yet open,
but a party was waiting to start. He had secured me a henchman in the
shape of a private in an Alabama regiment who was anxious to accompany
any one south, without fee or reward. The man was said to be well
acquainted with the country beyond the Potomac, besides being really
honest and courageous. I had no reason to question these qualifications,
though his tongue was apt to stir too loudly for prudence, and too fast
for truth; while over the manner of his release (he had been for months
a prisoner of war), there hung a mystery never cleared up
satisfactorily. It was necessary, of course, that my squire should be
mounted, and after some deliberation, it was settled that I should
furnish him with a steed. I was moved thereto, partly from a wish to
spare Falcon all dead weight in the shape of saddle-bags, partly from
the knowledge that superfluous horse-flesh was a commodity easily and
profitably disposed of in Secessia. I did not trouble myself much about
my second horseman's mount, merely stipulating for a moderate animal at
a moderate price. I bought indeed "in the dark," and did not see my
purchase till the day before our first actual start. This last
negotiation concluded, I had nothing to do but to abide patiently till
it pleased others to sound "boot and saddle."

So day followed day till, in spite of all the social attractions of
Baltimore, I began to chafe bitterly under the delay. I never could get
rid of a half-guilty consciousness that I ought to be somewhere else,
and that somewhere--far away. On the morning of 17th February, I was in
the office of my friend and chief counselor, above mentioned, discussing
the propriety of throwing aside the upper route altogether--selling back
my cattle--and making my way as straight as possible to the shores of
the Lower Potomac. We were actually debating the point when the door
opened, and disclosed Mr. Symonds. He had come all in hot haste to tell
us that a main obstacle was removed. The water had been let out of the
Chesapeake and Ohio canal, so that it could now be easily crossed at any
unguarded point. The picket was of necessity so widely scattered as to
be easily evaded. The small party that my squire and I were to join,
meant starting at latest on the following Friday or Saturday night. Mr.
Symonds had no recent intelligence from the immediate bank of the river,
but he believed that, in despite of the heavy rains and occasional snow
storms, we should find one crossing place--White's Ford to wit--still
barely practicable.

I was already furnished with sadlery, &c., but small final preparations
and divers leave-takings filled up every spare minute till afternoon on
the following day. I was to sleep the first night at a house only a few
miles from Mr. Symonds', so as to be in readiness to start at two hours'
notice, and my Mentor insisted on seeing me so far on my way. It had
been snowing at intervals all the morning, and the flakes were driving
thick and blindingly as we drove out of Baltimore. Our team faced the
heavy road and frequent hills right gallantly, but the fifteen miles
seemed long, that brought us to the door of our quarters, faces aching
with the lash of sleet--beard and moustaches frozen to bitterness.

As my hosts were in nowise privy to my plans, I may venture to say, that
for the next three days I was more or less a guest at Drohoregan Manor.
This ancient homestead of the Carroll family is very well described by
Mr. Russell in his "Diary:" his visit, however, was to the late
Professor, who died last year. The law of primogeniture does not prevail
here, and it was only an accidental succession of single heirs, that
brought an undivided patrimony down to the present generation. One
cannot help regretting that the estate is to be cut up now into five
shares or more. Eleven thousand acres of fertile hill and dale, sinking
and swelling gently, so as to attract all the benignity of sun or
breeze--not more densely wooded than is common on our own western
shores, and watered to an ornamental perfection--truly on any civilized
land, such is a goodly heritage.

The home-farm of Drohoregan Manor has long been celebrated for the
breeding of a high-class stock of all kinds. I saw sheep there scarcely
coarser than the average of Southdowns; and some fine, level,
clean-limbed steers. Here has stood, for a dozen years past, the
renowned Black Hawk, considered by many superior to his sire, the Morgan
stallion of the same name. As I before said, he realized my idea of a
thoroughbred weight carrier, better than anything I saw in Maryland;
though if one of his stock--a brown two-year-old colt--"furnishes"
according to present promise, he will probably be surpassed in his turn.
There was a large number of colts and fillies well adapted for rapid
road work; and I was not surprised to hear that at the sale which
followed quickly on my visit, they fetched more than average prices. I
did not think so highly of the cart stock, principally the produce of a
big gray Pereheron horse. Both he and Black Hawk remain in their present
quarters, for the late Colonel Carroll's eldest son retains the Manor
House, and proposes, I believe, to continue both the farming and
breeding establishments on no diminished scale. I rode up to Mr.
Symonds' in the afternoon of the 19th; he was absent, but his wife
informed me that it was possible--though scarcely probable--that our
party would start the following night. Then, for the first time, I made
acquaintance with my squire for the nonce--"Alick" he was called; I
cannot remember his surname--he had a rugged, honest face, and a manner
to match; but I was rather disconcerted at hearing that he knew no more
of riding or stable work than he had picked up in a fortnight's
irregular practice in an establishment where horses as well as men were
taught to "rough it" in good earnest.

I liked my new purchase much more than my new acquaintance. The former
was a raw-boned, leggy roan, with a coarse head, a dull eye, and a
weakish neck, far too low in condition, as I saw and said at once; not
fitted for long travel through a country where a horse must needs lose
flesh daily, from pure lack of provender. However, there was no time to
make a change, so I was fain to hope that easy journeys at first, and a
light weight on his back, might gradually bring the ungainly beast into
better form. It appeared that he was just recovering from the distemper
and "sore tongue," which had followed each other in rapid succession.
These two diseases are the terror and bane of Virginian and Maryland
stables. An animal who has once surmounted them is supposed to be
seasoned, and acquires considerable additional value, like a "salted"
horse in Southern Africa.

So I returned to the Manor for that night, and thither, early the next
morning, came Symonds in person. He informed me that the start from his
house would not take place till after nightfall on the following
evening, so that I had thirty vacant hours before me, I knew that the
English mail had reached Baltimore, and it then seemed so uncertain when
letters would reach me again, that I could not resist the temptation of
securing my correspondence. My host was himself returning to the city,
so I accepted the offer of a seat in his wagon, and we had a pleasant
drive back through the clear frosty weather.

The next day--having made the Post-office "part," and said those few
more last words that are forgotten at every leave-taking--I retraced my
steps, by the afternoon train, to Ellicott's Mills, where I found a
carriage from Drohoregan Manor awaiting me. At this point, the Patapsco
hurries through a channel narrowed by embankments and encroachments of
the granite cliffs, looking upon the yellow water streaked with huge
foam-clots, chafing against its banks lip high. I could not but augur
ill for our chances of traversing a wider and wilder stream. But it was
too early then to think of desponding, so casting forebodings behind, I
drove up to our rallying place, rattling over four long leagues under
seventy minutes. The black ponies tossed their heads, and champed their
bits, gayly, as they made best time over the last mile.

I found that the party that purposed actually to cross the Potomac was,
from one cause or another, reduced to four, including myself and my
attendant. A cousin of Symonds', hight Walter, with the same
surname--there is a perfect clan of them in those parts--was to
accompany us only to our first resting-place, a farm-house about
eighteen miles off. Our proposed companions were both Maryland men; one
had already served for some months in a regiment of Confederate cavalry,
and was returning to his duty, after one of those furloughs--often
self-granted--in which the Borderers are prone to indulge; the other was
a mere youth, and had never seen a shot fired; but a more enthusiastic
recruit could hardly be conceived.

Twilight had melted into darkness long before the rest of the party
arrived; then an hour or more was consumed in the last preparations and
refreshments. It was fully nine o'clock on the night of February 21st,
when we started from Symonds' door, strengthened for the journey with a
warm stirrup-cup, and warmer kind wishes from the family, including two
_very_ "sympathizing" damsels, who had come in from neighboring
homesteads to bid the Southward-bound good speed.

Before we had ridden a mile, the Marylanders turned off to a house where
they were to take up some letters, promising to rejoin us before we had
gone a league. But we traversed more than that distance, at the slowest
foot-pace, without being overtaken, and at length determined to wait for
the laggards, drawing back about thirty paces off the path, into a glade
where there was partial shelter from the icy wind that swept past, laden
with coming snow. There we tarried for a long half-hour (told on my
watch by a fusee-light), and still no signs of our companions. Symonds
(the cousin), who abode with us still, began to mutter doubts, and the
Alabama man to grumble curses (he had ever a fatal facility in
blasphemy), and I own to having entertained divers disagreeable
misgivings, though I carefully avoided expressing them. At last our
guide thought it best that we should make our way to a lonely
farm-house, about seven miles short of our night's destination, where,
in any case, the party was to have called in passing. So we wound on
through the narrow wood-paths in single file--sinking occasionally
pastern-deep, where the thin ice over mud-holes supplanted the safe
crackling snow-crests--traversing frequent fords, where rills had
swollen into brooks and turbid streams; some of those gullies must have
been dark even at noon-day, with overhanging cypress and pine; they were
so bitterly black now that you were fain to follow close on the splash
in your front, for no mortal ken could have pierced half a horse's
length ahead. At length, we left the path altogether, and pulling down a
snake fence, passed through the gap into open fields. It was all plain
sailing here, and a great relief after groping through the dim woodland;
we encountered no obstacle but an occasional "zigzag," easily
demolished, till we came to a deep hollow, where the guide
dismounted--evidently rather vague as to his bearings--and proceeded to
feel his way. Somewhere about here there was a "branch" (or rivulet) to
be crossed, and danger of bog and marsh if you went astray. At last he
professed to have discovered the right point; but neither force nor
persuasion could induce the stubborn brute he rode to face it. There was
nothing for it but trying what "giving him a lead" would do. The place
was evidently a small one, but the landing absolutely uncertain; so I
put Falcon at it steadily, letting him have his head. Then first the
poor horse displayed his remarkable talent for getting over difficulties
in the dark, a talent that I have never seen equaled in any other
animal, and which alone made him invaluable. He took off--almost at a
stand--out of clay up to his hocks, exactly at the right time, and
landed me on firm ground without a scramble. A minute afterward there
came a rush, a splutter, and a crash, and a struggling mass rolled at my
feet, gradually resolving itself into a man, a roan horse, and two
saddle-bags. So sped Alabama's maiden leap. It was soft falling,
however, and no harm beyond the breaking of a strap was done; but it was
fully three-quarters of an hour before our united efforts got Symonds'
refugee across. We accomplished it at last by hurling the brute
backwards into the branch by main strength, and then wading ourselves
through mud that just touched the upper edge of my thigh-boots. Once
over, the track was easily found, and a barking chorus, performed by
half a dozen vigilant mongrels, guided us up to the homestead we were
seeking, just as the snow began to fall heavily. The stout farmer was
soon on foot--men sleep lightly in these troublous times--proffering
food, fire, and shelter. Our guide strongly advised our remaining there
till we could gain some tidings of our lost companions; it seemed so
unlikely that they should have passed or missed us on the road, that he
could not but fear lest accident or treachery should have detained them;
he offered himself to retrace our track, and make all inquiries, which
he alone could do safely. So it was settled; and, after making the
horses as comfortable as rude accommodation would allow, my squire and I
betook ourselves to rest, not unwillingly, about three, A. M.

The traveler's first waking impulse leads him straight to the window or
to the weather-glass. I turned away from the look-out in utter disgust;
a hundred yards off, through the cloud of driving snow-flakes, and a
level white mantel, rising up to the tower bars of the snake-fences,
merged tillage into pasture undistinguishably. I chronicled that same
day as the dreariest of all _then_ remembered Sabbaths. Besides some odd
numbers of an ancient Methodist magazine, there was no literature
available, and all the letters that I cared to write had been dispatched
before I left Baltimore.

A visit to the shed which sheltered our horses, did not greatly raise
one's spirits. Poor Falcon was hardy as a Shetlander, and in any
ordinary weather I never thought of clothing him, but no wonder he
shivered there, under a rug, coated inch-deep with snow; the rough-hewn
sides and crazy roof gaping with fissures a hand-breadth wide and more,
were scanty defense against the furious drift, which swept through, not
to be denied. I tried to comfort my horse, by chafing his legs and ears
till both were thoroughly warm, setting Alick at the same task with the
roan; though clumsy and apt to be obstinate, he worked with a will. At
last we had the satisfaction of seeing both animals feed, with an
appetite that I, for one, could not but envy. Our hosts were so cordial
in their honest hospitality, that one felt ungrateful in being so
wearily bored. In the afternoon we had a visit from a neighboring
farmer, who, I believe, had been summoned with the benevolent intent
that he should enlighten or entertain the stranger. He was one of those
stout, elderly men, who, by dint of a certain portliness of presence,
gravity of manner, and slowness of speech, acquire in their own country
much honor for social or political wisdom. He was quite up to the
average rank of rustic oracles; nevertheless, our converse dragged
heavily; it was "up hill all the way." There was a depressing formality
about the whole arrangement; my interlocutor sat exactly opposite to me,
putting one cut-and-dried question after another; never removing his
eyes from my face, while I answered to the best of my power, save to
glance at the silent audience, as though praying them to note such and
such points carefully. I began to feel as I did in the schools long ago,
when the _vivâ voce_ examiner was putting me through my facings; and was
really glad when the one-sided dialogue ended. The queries were very
simple for the most part, relating chiefly to the sympathies and
intentions of Great Britain, with regard to the war. On the latter point
I could, of course, give no information beyond vague surmises,
practically worthless; as to the former, I thought myself justified in
saying that the balance of public feeling, in the upper and agricultural
classes especially, leant decidedly southward. But here, as elsewhere, I
found it impossible to make Secessionists understand or allow the
wisdom, justice, or generosity of the non-interference policy hitherto
pursued by our Government. This is not the time or place to discuss an
important question of statecraft, nor am I presumptuous enough to assert
that different and more decisive measures would have had all the good
effect that their advocates insist upon; but however justifiable
England's conduct may have been according to theories of international
law, I fear the practical result will be that she has secured the
permanent enmity of one powerful people, and the discontented distrust
of another. It is ill trusting even proverbs implicitly; that old one,
about the safe middle course, will break down, like the rest, sometimes.
My pertinacious querist stopped, I suppose, when he had got to the end
of his list, and apparently spent the rest of the evening in a slow
process of digestion; for he would break out, now and then, at the most
irrelevant times, with a repetition of one of his former interrogations,
which I had to answer again, briefly as I might. About sundown _le Bon
Gualtier_ returned, sorely travel-worn himself, and with an utterly
exhausted horse. He had ascertained that our companions had gone on,
probably to our original destination of the previous night; though why
they should have passed our present resting-place without calling there,
remained a mystery; nor was that point ever satisfactorily explained. To
proceed at once was impossible, for a fresh horse had to be found for
our guide; this, a cousin of our host's offered to provide by the
following evening (we could not venture to stir abroad in daylight); he
also offered to make his way to the farm where the missing men were
supposed to be, early in the morning, and to bring back certain
intelligence of their movements. This was only one instance of the
cordial kindness and hearty co-operation which I met with at the hands
of these sturdy yeomen. Not only would they rise and open their doors at
the untimeliest of hours, and entertain you with their choicest of
fatlings, corn, and wine, but there was no amount of personal toil or
risk that they would not gladly undergo to forward any southward-bound
stranger on his way; nor could you have insulted your host more grossly
than by hinting at pecuniary guerdon. Before midnight the snow had
ceased to fall; the next morning broke bright and sunnily, though the
frost still held on sharply. Two or three visitors, masculine and
feminine, came in sleighs during the day, and altogether it passed much
more rapidly than the preceding one. About four, P. M., our good-natured
messenger returned; our comrades had duly reached the spot originally
fixed for the Saturday night's halt, and had pursued their journey on
the Sunday evening to the farm which was to be our last point before
attempting the Potomac; their written explanation was very vague, but
they promised to wait for us at the house they were then making for. We
at once determined to press on thus far that night, though the score or
more of miles of crow-flight between would certainly be lengthened at
least a third, by the _dêtours_ necessary to avoid probable pickets or
outposts, and the deep snow must make the going fearfully heavy.
Walter's fresh mount came down--a powerful, active mare, in good working
condition, but with weak, cracked hoofs that would not have carried her
a day's march on hard, stony roads.

Under the red sunset we started once more, with more good wishes;
indeed, I had ridden a mile before my fingers forgot the parting
hand-grip of my stalwart host.

Now in thinking or speaking of these night rides beforehand, one is apt
to invest them with a slight tinge of romance and excitement, which is
not unattractive. Let me say, that in practice, nothing can be more
dreary and disagreeable. I can fancy a canter through or canter over
some woodland paths, under the capricious light of a broad summer or
autumn moon, with one or more pleasant companions, being both
exhilarating and agreeable, but traverse the same number of miles in a
night of winter or early spring, when you have to blunder on at a foot's
pace in Indian file, thankful, indeed, when the snow or mud is only
fetlock deep, where, if you are in mood for conversation, you, dare not
often speak above a whisper (I never could see the sense of this, far
out in the wilds, but the guides are imperative), where the solitary
excitement is found in the possible proximity of a picket, or the
probable depth of a ford. I think you would agree with me, that the only
object in the journey on which your eyes or thoughts delight to dwell,
is the "biggit land" that ends it.

On that especial night we had one thing in our favor--the reflection
from the fresh white ground carpet would have prevented darkness, even
without the light of a waxing moon. But it was slow and weary traveling.
It would have been cruelty to have forced the horses beyond a walk
through snow that in places was over their knees; besides which, we
dared not risk a jingle of stirrup or bridle-bit, where an outlying
picket might be within ear-shot. Twice we passed within twenty yards of
where the fresh track showed that the patrol had recently turned at the
end of his beat; but the guide knew the country thoroughly, and
professed to have no fears. To speak the truth, I had heard him, when in
the ingle-nook, and warm with Old Rye, vaunt so loudly his own sagacity
and courage, that I conceived certain misgivings as to how far either
were to be relied on. That night, however, he fully maintained part of
his character by leading us safety and surely through a perfect
labyrinth of tracks, sometimes diverging across the open country, and
occasionally plunging into woodland where there was no vestige of a
path.

I ought to be nearly weather-proof by this time; but, in spite of a warm
riding-cloak and a casing of chamois leather from neck to ankle, I felt
sometimes chilled to the marrow; my lips would hardly close round the
pipe-stem, and even while I smoked the breath froze on my moustache,
stiff and hard. My flask was full of rare country whisky, fiery hot from
the still; but it seemed at last to have lost all strength, and was
nearly tasteless. I would have given anything for a brisk trot or
rattling gallop to break the monotonous foot-pace, but the reasons
before stated forbade the idea: there was nothing for it, but to plod
steadily onwards. Walter himself suffered a good deal in hands and feet;
but the Alabama man, utterly unused to the lower extremes of
temperature, only found relief from his misery in an occasional
drowsiness that made him sway helplessly in his saddle. The last league
of our route lay through the White Grounds. The valley of the Potomac
widens here towards the north, and six thousand acres of forest stretch
away--unbroken, save by rare islets of clearings. There was no visible
track; but our guide struck boldly across the woodlands, taking bearings
by certain landmarks and the steady moon. It was not dark even here; but
low sweeping boughs and fallen trunks often hidden by snow, made the
traveling difficult and dangerous. I ceased not to adjure Alick, who
followed close in my rear, to keep fast hold of his horse's head. I
doubt if he ever heard me, for he never intermitted a muttered
running-fire of the most horrible execrations that I ever listened to
even in this hard-swearing country. Whether this ebullition of blasphemy
comforted him at the moment I cannot say; but, if "curses come home to
roost," a black brood was hatched that night, unless one whole page be
blotted out from the register of the Recording Angel.

Both men and horses rejoiced, I am sure, when, about two, A. M., we
broke out into a wide clearing, and drew rein under the lee of
outbuildings surrounding the desired homestead. The farmer was soon
aroused, and came out to give us a hearty though whispered welcome. It
is not indiscreet to record _his_ name, for he has already "dree'd his
doom;" he was noted among his fellows for cool determination in purpose
and action, and truly, I believe that the yeomanry of Maryland counts no
honester or bolder heart than staunch George Hoyle's.

Our last companions were sleeping placidly up-stairs--that was the best
intelligence that our host could give us. He laughed at the idea of
fording the Potomac, declaring that no living man or horse could stand,
much less swim, in the stream. Knowing the character of the man, and his
thorough acquaintance with the locality, one ought to have accepted his
decision unquestioned; but I was not then so inured to disappointment as
I became in later days, and wished to see for myself how the water lay.
After a short sleep and hurried breakfast, Hoyle took me to a point
whence we looked down on a long reach of the river. At the first glance
through my field-glasses, every vestige of hope vanished. The fierce
current--its sullen neutral tint checkered with frequent
foam-clots--washed and weltered high against its banks, eddying and
breaking savagely wherever it swept against jut of ground or ledge of
rock, while ever and anon shot up above the turbid surface tossing trunk
of uprooted alder or willow. Mazeppa's Ukraine stallion, or the
mightiest _destrier_ that ever Paladin bestrode, would have been whirled
away like withered leaves, ere they had swum ten of the seven hundred
yards that lay between us and the Virginia shore. I could hardly believe
my eyes, when Hoyle pointed out to me the fording-place where, on the
23d of last December, he had crossed without wetting his horse's girth.

It was waste of time to look longer, so, in no pleasant mood, I returned
to the farm-house, where a council of war was incontinently held. The
Marylanders had already arranged their plan; they had a vague idea of
some ferry to the northward, and intended to grope their way to it
somehow. Before attempting this, it was necessary to divest themselves
of any suspicious articles, either of baggage or accoutrement; indeed,
they left every scrap of clothing behind, except what they carried on
their persons, and one change of under-raiment sewn up in the folds of a
rug. They meant to assume the character of small cattle-dealers, and as
far as appearance went, succeeded perfectly--nothing more unmilitary can
be conceived. Their horses were passably hardy and active, but stunted,
mean-looking animals, while the saddle-gear would have been dear
anywhere at five dollars. The men themselves had the lazy, slouching
look peculiar to the hybrid class with which they wished to be
identified. They were civil and sorry enough about the turn affairs had
taken; but evidently quite determined that we should part company. The
elder of the two took me aside, and spoke thus, as near as I can
remember:

"Look here, Major, I'm right down sorry about this here; and I'd have
liked well to have gone slick through with ye, but it won't work in the
parts we're agoing to try. Four men and horses ain't so easy put up as
two, and there ain't many as'll venture it. The sort of your brown horse
is kind'er uncommon up along there, and they'd spot _him_ if they didn't
spot you, and you'd never get to look like a citizen--not if you was to
shave and wear a wig. There's no two words about it: it ain't to be
done."

I believe the man intended to gild the pill with a rough compliment; in
any case, I was bound to swallow it. There was no sort of contract
between us, nor any promise of remuneration; I only rode by sufferance
in that company. I felt, too, that he was right: it would be very
difficult for any Englishman--drilled or undrilled--to disguise himself
as a Virginia cattle-dealer, so that keen native eyes could not detect
the travestie. I do not think I should have pressed the point, even had
I been in a position to do so; as it was, I yielded with good grace,
only begging my late companions to let me have the earliest information
as to the route, if they succeeded in getting through. This they readily
promised; so, with the concurrence of the good Walter, I determined to
fall back, for the present, on my original "base," with the consoling
reflection that I was only imitating the most renowned Federal
commanders.

All this was scarcely settled, when our host hurried in--rather a blank
look on his bold face--to say that one of his contrabands had just come
in, after an absence of two hours: he had taken one of his master's
horses without leave, and absolutely declined to state where, or why, he
had gone. As 1,800 Federals, including a regiment of cavalry, occupied
Poolsville--only six miles off--it was easy to guess in what direction
the "colored person" had wandered. There was no time for argument, and
even chastisement was reserved for a more fitting season: in fifteen
minutes more, we had ridden swiftly across the cleared lands, and with
Hoyle for our pilot, were winding through the ravines and glades of the
White Grounds. The day was dull and cloudy: so, having no sun to guide
us, we, the strangers, speedily lost all idea of direction; even Walter,
the confident, owned himself fairly puzzled. But our host led on at a
steady pace, never pausing to consult landmarks or memory; evidently
every bush and brake was familiar to him; there was not the ghost of a
track, but we seemed generally to follow the winding of a rapid, shallow
stream, up whose channel we often scrambled for forty yards or more.

    We had na ridden a league, a league,
    O' leagues but barely three,

when we struck a path leading straight through the woods to
Clarksburg--the first point on the proposed route of the two
Marylanders: they meant to feel their way cautiously thence in a
northwesterly direction; the elder had one or two acquaintances in the
neighborhood of Frederick City that he hoped would assist them. So, with
leave-takings, hurried but amicable, our party separated. We, the other
three, proposed to make for our quarters of the last Sunday, and for ten
miles further our kind host rode in our company, absolutely refusing to
turn back till we were in a country that Walter knew right well, and
might be considered comparatively safe; then he left us, proposing to
return home by another and yet more circuitous route, so as to baffle
possible pursuers. He did get home safe, but was arrested within the
same week--not, I trust, before he had moderately chastised that
treacherous contraband--and we met, two months later, in the old
Capitol.

Three hours' more riding brought us within sight of the town, where we
intended to refresh ourselves and our cattle, and, perhaps, to abide for
the night. We relied so implicitly on the hospitality we were certain to
find, that we had provided ourselves with no food of any sort; my flask,
too, had been emptied on the previous night. Fancy our disgust, when we
found the shutters closed, everything carefully locked up, and no living
soul about the place but two helpless little colored persons of tender
age. The whole family had gone out to a sledging "frolic," and would not
return before late at night; it was then past P. M.; we had breakfasted
lightly at seven, and been in the saddle ever since nine o'clock. We did
discover some Indian corn for the horses, and left them to feed under
their old shed, only removing bridles and loosening girths.

About ten minutes later, we were sitting under the house-porch--it was
narrow and deep, as is the fashion in those parts, and boarded up the
sides breast high--I was lighting a sullen pipe, hoping to deaden the
hungry cravings which could not be satisfied, when I felt my arm pulled
violently; a hoarse whisper said in my ear, "By G--d, they've got us,"
and turning, I met the good Walter's face, white, and convulsed with
emotions which I care not to define or remember. Alick was already
crouching below the boarding, and I stooped, too, mechanically; as I did
so, I followed the direction of the guide's haggard eyes: by my faith,
just where the wood opened on the clearing, about one hundred and eighty
yards to our front, there sat on their horses six Federal dragoons,
surveying the landscape with some interest. It was very odd to see them
gazing straight down upon us, evidently unconscious of our proximity;
but they were looking from light into the shadow of the porch:
fortunately, too, the horses were well under cover. It chanced that,
close to the gate in the outermost inclosure, there was a watering-pond;
around and from this tracks of all kinds of cattle crossed and diverged
in every direction; as we entered we had remarked many hoof-prints
turning abruptly to the right, probably left by the sleighing party. The
dragoons halted five minutes or so in consultation; then they turned and
rode off quickly along that same right-hand track. The house was so
evidently shut up, that I presume they thought it would be wasted time
if they searched it then.

Resistance would have been utterly out of the question, even if the
numbers had been more equal, for the only arms in the party were my
own--a long hunting-knife worn in my belt, and a fire-shooter carried by
Alick; so we prepared for escape instantly. I had to go round to the
back of the house to get my hunting-cup, which I had left there. When I
came out I found Walter already mounted; his mare was not in the same
shed with our horses. In a few hurried words he explained that; it would
be best for _him_ to make off at once, and wait for us in the woods
below, to which the clearing sloped down from the homestead. Though I
had before formed my own opinion as to his vaunted valiance, I confess I
_was_ rather disappointed; but he was not a hireling, and I had no right
to prevent him from looking after his own safety first; I only shrugged
my shoulders without replying, and went into the other shed to help
Alick saddle up. The Alabamian was much less delicate or more determined
than myself; when he heard of Walter's intentions, his face darkened
threateningly.

"By the ----!" he said, "he ain't going to quit after that fashion," and
as he went out towards the corner where Walter still lingered, I saw his
hand shift back to the butt of my revolver. Now, I was too sensible of
the guide's good intentions and disinterested kindness to wish to press
hardly on a temporary loss of nerve, so I busied myself with buckle and
curb-link, and refrained from assisting at the debate; it was very
brief, nor can I say if Alick's arguments were intimidating or
conciliatory; I rather suspected the former, from the expression of his
face when he returned, simply remarking, "I've made it all right, Major.
He stops with us as long as we want him to."

Ten minutes afterwards we gained the shelter of the woods, and, keeping
always well down in the gullies or hollows, were picking our way in a
direction nearly parallel to that taken by our pursuers. This was our
only course, as we dared not show ourselves as yet across open ground or
along traveled roads. We might have ridden about a league and a half--it
is difficult to judge distance in thick cover and over broken ground,
when the pace is so constantly varied--our guide's confidence began to
return, and, with it, his weakness for self-laudation. He began once
more to recount his many narrow escapes, and was sanguine as to his
chance of pulling through this--the closest shave of all. We were
halting on the bank of a muddy, swollen stream, in some doubt whether we
should try the treacherous bottom there or higher up, when, looking over
my shoulder, I saw the figures of four horsemen, looming large against
the red evening sky as they passed slowly across the sky-line, on the
crest of some abrupt rising ground about 300 yards to our right: soon
two more showed themselves, making the pursuing party complete; they
were evidently retracing their steps--for what reason I know not. Almost
at the same instant the Alabamian caught sight of the enemy; but before
he could speak I touched our guide on the shoulder with my hunting-whip,
pointing in the direction of the danger. If you ever saw a wing-tipped
mallard's flurry when the retriever comes upon him unawares, you will
have a good idea of how the valiant Walter "squattered" through the
ford. The twilight was darkening fast, and, in the shadow of the ravine,
we were almost safe from the eyes of our pursuers; but I marvel that
even at such a distance their ears were not attracted by the flounder
and the splash. My squire and I followed more leisurely; indeed,
throughout, the former had displayed a creditable coolness and
determination; also, he seemed to take very kindly to my own favorite
motto, "_Festina lente_"--"More haste, worse speed."

That was our last look at the dragoons. We learnt afterwards that, later
in the evening, they searched the farm-house (the family had just
returned), and not only struck our trail through the woods, but held it
within three miles of our resting-place for the night; there the
numerous crossroads, and the utter confusion of many tracks, baffled our
pursuers; probably, too, their horses by that time were in poor
condition for following up an indefinite chase.

Alick and I determined to push for our original starting-point--the
house of Symonds of that ilk. Another two hours' riding brought us to
where a lane turned off towards Ben Gualtier's home. He was evidently
anxious to find himself a free agent, and this time even the Alabamian
did not seek to detain him. The rest of the road we had traversed, on
the preceding Saturday, and we could hardly miss our way. So there I
parted from my honest guide, with many kind wishes on his side, and
hearty thanks on mine. I rather repent having alluded to that little
nervousness; but, after all, it was hardly a question of physical
courage; we sought to avoid imprisonment, not peril to life or limb.

My stout horse, Falcon, strode cheerily over the last of those dark,
tiresome miles without a stumble or sign of weariness; but the roan's
ears were drooping, and he slouched along heavily on his shoulders long
before we saw the lights of Symonds' homestead, where we met a hearty if
not a joyful welcome. We had not tasted food for thirteen hours, during
which we had scarcely been out of the saddle; so even disappointment
could not prevent our relishing to the uttermost the savory supper with
which our hostess would fain have comforted us.

Our talk was chiefly of the future, about which Symonds did not despond,
though he was disposed to blame, somewhat sharply, our late companions,
for choosing to find their way South independently; I thought he was
unjust then, and since that I have had ample evidence of their good
intentions and good faith.

The next morning I rode Falcon down into Baltimore, there to await fresh
tidings, leaving Alick and the roan at Symonds', to await fresh orders.



CHAPTER VI.

THE FERRY.


I had not been in Baltimore three days when my plans were somewhat
altered by the introduction of a fresh agent. The guide, who accompanied
Lord Hartington and Colonel Leslie, had returned unexpectedly, and
Symonds pressed me strongly to secure his services. He had made the
traverse several times successfully, and was thoroughly acquainted with
most of the ground on both banks of the Potomac. He had now made his way
on foot from the Shenandoah Valley, across the Alleghany Range, to
Oakland; thence by the cars to somewhere near Sykesville, on the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Here, the day began to break, and he would
not trust farther to the short-sightedness of Federal officials; so he
looked out for a soft place in a snowdrift, and leapt out, alighting
without injury. The same reasons that made reticence useless in Hoyle's
case apply here: to both men Republican justice has done its worst long
ago. My new guide's name was Shipley. He was lying _perdu_ in Baltimore
when I first heard of him, so there was no difficulty in arranging an
interview. After some hesitation, and not a little negotiation, Shipley
agreed to pilot me through by one route or another. He was to ride my
second horse, and keep the animal as a remuneration for his services, so
soon as we should be fairly within Confederate lines. He would not
promise to start before the expiration of a full week, as the clothes
and other necessaries which he had come specially to obtain could not be
got ready sooner. This new arrangement involved two changes which did
not please me, viz., the elimination of poor Alick from the party, and
the shifting of my saddle-bags from the roan on to Falcon, for the guide
stipulated that each should carry his own baggage. Symonds, however, was
very urgent that I should close with the conditions at once; he had the
highest opinion of Shipley's talents and trustworthiness, and insisted
that such a chance should not be let slip. He promised that Alick, if
possible, should be provided with a mount, so as to be still enabled to
accompany us. _I_ could not, of course, be expected to increase my
already double risk in horse-flesh.

So we struck hands on the bargain, and I resigned myself pretty
contentedly to another delay. The days passed rapidly, as they always
did in Baltimore on most afternoons. I rode Falcon out for exercise and
"schooling." He soon became very clever at the only obstacles you
encounter in crossing this country--timber fences, and small brooks with
steep broken banks; though, to the last, he always would hang a little
in taking off, he never dreamt of refusing.

Before the week was quite out, Alick came down from Symonds', bringing
tidings of our late companions, the two Marylanders. They had succeeded
in crossing by a horse-ferry at Shepherdstown--a small village not far
from Sharpsburg, and about seven miles from the battle-field of
Antietam. The letter was written from the south bank of the Potomac, and
furnished us with all the necessary names and halting-points on the
route. Now, everything looked promising again. It was soon settled that
Alick and Shipley should make their way across the country to Sharpsburg
with the two horses (this was the latter's own arrangement, and _he_,
too, was unkind enough to object to my un-citizenlike appearance). I was
to meet them there, at a certain house, on a certain day, traveling by
another route--through Frederick city. Thither I betook myself by the
train leaving Baltimore, on the afternoon of March the 10th, arriving at
Frederick nearly two hours behind time, in consequence of a difficulty
between the wheels and the rails, the latter having become sulkily
slippery with the sleet that came on in earnest after nightfall. Very
early the next morning I started for Petersville, near which village, in
the shadow of the South Mountain, lay the country-house of the
good-natured friend who had offered to forward me to Sharpsburg.

I shall not easily forget that drive; the distance was rather under
fourteen miles, and it was performed in something over four hours; yet
the load consisted simply of my driver, myself, and my saddle-bags, in
the lightest conceivable wagon, drawn by a pair of horses especially
selected for strength rather than speed. We traveled on a broad
turnpike, not inferior, I was told, in ordinary times to the average of
such roads; in many places the mud literally touched the axles, and more
than once we should have been set fast in spite of the struggles of our
team, if I had not lightened the weight by descending into a quagmire
that reached fully half-way up my thigh-boots.

At last we struggled through, reaching my friend's house with no other
damage than some strained spokes and a broken spring. There I found
horses ready caparisoned, and a faithful contraband to guide me on my
way. The ride was as pleasant as the drive had been disagreeable. It was
positive rest to exchange the jolting and jerking of the carriage for
the familiar sway of the saddle. I had a strong hackney under me, a
bright clear sky overhead, and a companion who, if not brilliantly
amusing, was very passably intelligent.

He was able to tell me all about the South Mountain fight: indeed, our
route lay right across the centre of that bloody battle-ground. Riding
along the valley, with the hills on our left, we soon came to
Birkettsville: close above was the scene of the most furious assaults,
and the most obstinate struggle. The quaint little hamlet--reminding you
of a Dutch village--looked cheerful enough now, as the sun shimmered
over the dark-red bricks, and glistening roofs grouped round a more
glittering chapel-cupola; but one could not help remembering, that
thither, on a certain afternoon, in just such pleasant weather, came
maimed men by hundreds, crawling or being carried in; and that for weeks
after, scarce one of those cozy houses but sheltered some miserable
being moaning his tortured life away. The undulating champaign between
the Catoctin and South Mountains, that forms the broad Middletown
valley, seems to invite the manoeuvres of infantry battalions; but,
climbing the steep ascent in the teeth of musketry and field-batteries,
must have been sharp work indeed, though the assailing force doubtless
far outnumbered the defenders. I think the carrying of those heights one
of the most creditable achievements in the war.

The terrible handwriting of the God of Battles is still very plainly to
be discerned; all along the mountain-side trees--bent, blasted, and
broken--tell where round-shot or grape tore through; and scored bark,
closing often over imbedded bullets, shows where beat most stormily the
leaden hail. Near the crest of the mountain, there are several patches
of ground, utterly differing in color from the soil around, and
evidently recently disturbed. You want no guide to tell you that in
those Golgothas moulder corpses by hundreds, cast in, pell-mell, with
scanty rites of sepulture. Besides these common trenches, there are
always some single graves, occasionally marked by a post with initials
roughly carved. It is good to see that, after the bitter fight, some
were found, not so weary or so hurried, but that they could find time to
do a dead comrade--perhaps even a dead enemy--one last kindness.

Descending from the ridge, we rode some way up a narrow valley--where
overhanging pine-woods and soft green pastures, traversed by rapid
streams, reminded me often of the Ardennes--and then climbed the Elk
Range, beyond which lies the field of Antietam. We soon crossed the
creek, along whose banks was waged that fierce battle that made men
think as lightly of the South Mountain fight as if it had been but a
passing skirmish, and I rode up to the appointed meeting-place in
Sharpsburg just a few minutes in advance of the appointed hour.

My first question, after making myself known to the good man of the
house, was naturally, of my horses and men. Will you be kind enough to
fancy my feelings, when I heard that they were miles away, and--the
reason why. Three days before the ferry-boat had been carried away and
shattered by the floods; nothing but a skiff could cross till a cable
was rigged from bank to bank; there was no chance of this being
completed before the beginning of the following week. The neighborhood
was too dangerous to linger in; there was a provost-marshal guard
actually stationed in Sharpsburg: so my men, hearing of the disaster on
their road, had very properly remained at their last halting-place,
about ten miles farther up the country. I was so savagely disappointed
that I hardly listened to my new friend, as he proceeded to give some
useful hints on our route and conduct, whenever we should succeed in
getting over the river. I only remember one suggestion: "if I was
stopped anywhere this side of Winchester, I might give a fictitious
name, and say that I was going to visit _my son_, an officer in the
Federal army." Now, as I have barely entered on my eighth lustre, I can
only suppose that the great bitterness of my heart imparted to my face,
for the moment, a helpless--perhaps imbecile--look of senility. I had no
alternative, however, but to retreat, as my men had done; the place was
evidently too hot to hold me: already, through the window, I saw a
shabby dragoon paying auspicious attention to my horses, contraband, and
saddle-bags. I was greatly relieved, on going out, to find that the
warrior was too stupidly drunk, to be actuated by anything beyond an
idle, purposeless curiosity. So, after receiving directions as to where
I was likely to rejoin my companions, I set my face northeast again, and
rode out into the deepening darkness with feelings not much less sullen
than the black rock of clouds massed up behind, that broke upon, us,
right soon, with wind and drenching ruin.

My horse, as well as I, must have been glad when we reached the
homestead we were seeking, for throughout the afternoon I had ridden
quickly wherever there was level ground, calculating on a night's rest
in Sharpsburg. I had some difficulty in convincing the farmer that I was
a true man and no spy; having once realized the fact, he showed himself
not less hospitable than his fellows. I was not surprised to find my men
gone; with all his good-will to the cause, their host had not dared to
entertain such suspicious strangers longer than twenty-four hours: keen
eyes and ready tongues were rife all around, and we had proof already,
in poor George Hoyle's case, how quickly and sternly the charge of
"harboring disaffected persons" could be acted upon: he had sent the men
to separate secluded farm-houses, whence they could be summoned at a few
hours' warning. He strongly advised me to wait elsewhere till the horse
ferry was reestablished, of which he promised to give me the very
earliest intelligence: so I at once determined to take the Hagerstown
stage to Frederick next morning (the house stood not many yards from the
main road), and the rail from thence back to Baltimore, leaving men and
horses in their present quarters. It was evident that the honest
Irishman spoke (he was an emigrant of twenty years' standing) thus in
perfect sincerity, from no lack of hospitality, though in poor mood for
conviviality. I did strive hard, all that evening, to meet his simple,
social overtures half-way, simply that I might not appear ungracious or
ungrateful.

The homestead nestles close to the foot of the South Mountain, near
Middleton Gap, some miles north of the point where I had crossed that
day. We talked, of course, about the battles (they were within sound,
though not sight, of Antietam). I found that a field-hospital had been
established in the field immediately adjoining the orchard, and that
some of the wounded, chiefly Confederates, who could not be moved, had
lain there for many days. I asked the good wife how she felt while the
Southern army was marching past her doors, "Well," she said, "I wasn't
greatly skeared, only I thought I'd pull down the new parlor-curtains;
but they behaved right well, and didn't meddle with nothin' to signify;
not like them Yankees, who are always pickin' and stealin'. But I'd like
to get right out of this country, anyhow; we'll never do no good here
while the war lasts."

I wonder how many voices, if they dared speak out, would join in the
dreary "_refrain_ of those last few words?"

No note-worthy incident marked my journey back to Baltimore. I remained
there till the following Tuesday, and, in that interval, received a note
from Shipley, which both puzzled and disquieted me; it was purposely
vague and obscure; but, as far as I could make out, the writer thought
it would be better at once to make for some point northwest of
Cumberland--to retrace, in fact, the route that he had himself recently
traversed; I rather inferred that he meant to move in that direction
without waiting for me, leaving me to make my way to a rendezvous which
he would appoint by letter. Now, of all parties concerned in the
expedition the one whose safety I valued next to my own was Falcon. I
had been loth to trust him, so far, to a rider about whose
qualifications I knew nothing--except that it was very unlikely he would
have good "hands." I had no notion of risking the good horse, without
me, on an indefinitely long journey, where he might be indifferently
cared for. I wrote at once to stop any such movement; and with this I
was forced to be content.

Late on the Monday evening, the expected summons reached me--sent
specially by train. The next morning I started for Frederick, whence I
intended to drive through Middletown to Boonesborough, near which was
the place of meeting. The first thing I saw in the morning paper, when I
began to read it in the cars, was a fresh general order, suggestive of
most unpleasant misgivings. General Kelly had just succeeded to the
command of Maryland Heights, and of the division specially selected for
picket duty on the river. This--his first order--enjoined the seizure of
all boats of every description between Monocacy creek and St. John's
(comprising the whole of the Upper Potomac); no passenger or merchandise
could be conveyed from Maryland into Virginia without a proper pass, and
then only at the two specified places--Harper's Ferry and Point of
Rocks; any one transgressing this edict was liable to arrest and trial
by martial law.

Throwing down the ill-omened journal, I could not forbear a muttered
quotation: "The day looks dark for England." Nevertheless, I drove on
straight from Frederick, determined to prove what the morrow would bring
forth. It was late when we reached the small roadside hotel, on the
ridge of the South Mountain, where I had arranged to halt for the night;
but, late as it was, I had time to hear fresh evil tidings before I
slept.

The Shepherdstown ferry was in working order at noon on the Monday. The
same evening, soon after dusk, four mounted men, with two led horses,
rode down, requiring to be set across instantly. The ferryman objected,
stating that his orders were imperative against putting any one over,
after sundown, without a special pass. The men insisted, stating that
they bore dispatches from Kelly to Milroy, and enforced their demands
with threats. The unhappy ferryman was totally unarmed, and only wished
to escape. They shot him to death without further parley, under the eyes
of his mother and sister, who saw all from their windows. Then they
ferried themselves and their horses across, and left the boat on the
Virginia, bank, after knocking out two or three of her planks. Naturally
there was a great revulsion of popular feeling in the country, and there
had been a real _émeute_ round the murdered man's grave. When they had
buried him, that day, in Sharpsburg, no one, suspected of Southern
sympathies, could venture openly to appear. From all that I could learn,
the authors of that butchery were not Confederate soldiers, or even
guerrillas, but purely and simply horse-thieves, who had come over with
the sole object of plunder, tempted by the enormous prices that
horse-flesh could then command in Virginia.

Very early the next morning I had a visit from the Irishman, who lived
hard by. Things did not look less gloomy when I had heard what he had to
tell. To begin with, that unlucky tongue of Alick's had been doing all
sorts of mischief. He never touched strong liquors, so there was not
even that excuse for his imprudence. Instead of remaining quiet in the
secluded retreat to which he had been, sent, he would persist in hanging
about in the immediate neighborhood of Boonesborough, and appeared to
have spoken freely about our projects, greatly exalting and exaggerating
their importance; indeed, he could scarcely have said more if we had
been traveling as accredited agents between two belligerent powers. Such
vainglorious garrulity was not only intensely provoking, but involved
real peril to all parties concerned. I thought the Irishman was
perfectly right in taking that blundering bull by the horns, and acting
decisively on his own responsibility, inasmuch as there was no time to
communicate with me. He insisted that the Alabamian should quit the
neighborhood without an hour's delay--there had already been talk of his
arrest--furnishing him with certain necessaries and a few dollars on my
account. In despite of the edict aforesaid, there were still punts and
skiffs concealed all along the river bank, and a footman unencumbered
with baggage could always be put over without difficulty. Indeed, Alick
had actually crossed into Virginia, and returned safely, while he was
loitering about Boonesborough. I never saw the Alabamian again, though I
heard from him once, as will appear hereafter. He carried away with him
my best wishes and my revolver; I hope both have profited him. Where
caution or diplomacy are not required, his sterling honesty and dogged
courage will always stand him and others in good stead; if his superiors
can only tie up his tongue, I believe they will "make a man of him yet."

As to Shipley, I found that it was not considered prudent for him to
await my arrival there, as a search might be made over the Irishman's
premises at any moment. He had been sent back on the previous afternoon
to a house near Newmarket, a village some thirty miles east of
Boonesborough, so that we must almost have crossed on the high road
leading to Frederick city; there I was certain to find both him and
Falcon.

The Irishman was decidedly of opinion that to persevere in our
enterprise at the Shepherdstown ferry or anywhere in the immediate
neighborhood, would be not only the height of rashness, but absolute
waste of time. He advised our striking northward at once, by the
Cumberland route, which then appeared to be the only one offering
possible chances of success. Even on the Lower Potomac, the _cordon_ of
pickets and guard-boats had been so strengthened of late as to become
well nigh impervious, and captures were of hourly occurrence.

Slowly--and I fear rather sullenly--I admitted the justice of my
friend's counsel, as I walked down to his stable, where the roan had
been standing since Alick's departure. Perhaps even while I write, the
war-tide is surging backwards and forwards once again past the doors of
that cozy homestead; but I trust its roof-tree is still inviolate by
fire or sword, and that no rude hand has scorched or torn the "new
parlor-curtains," in which my trim little hostess took an innocent
pride. It was past noon when I bade farewell to my friends, and mounted
the roan, to strike Shipley's back trail. There was a light blue sky
overhead, though the wind blew intensely cold, and hoofs on the hard
frozen ground rang as on pavement. For the first eighteen miles or so,
which brought us to Frederick, my horse stepped out cheerily enough,
though he carried far more weight than he had yet been burdened with, in
the shape of myself and full saddle-bags. Here we baited, an obscure inn
which had been recommended to me as "safe;" and late in the afternoon
held on for Newmarket. I found the farm-house I sought without any
difficulty, but the owner was down in the village, a mile or so off.
Without dismounting, I asked to see the mistress, and a thin,
sickly-looking woman came to the door. At my first question--relating of
course to Shipley--a glimmer of distrust dawned on her pale, vague face.
"There was no one there except her own family, and she had never seen or
heard of a man on a brown horse." I was too thoroughly inured to
disappointment by this time to feel angry--much less surprised--at
anything in that line. Evidently I had to do with one of those
impracticable yet timorous females--strong in their very weakness--who
will persist in bearing a meek false-witness till the examiner's
patience fails. So my answer was quiet enough. "Pardon me, I think your
memory is treacherous. You surely must at least once in your natural
life, have seen or heard of 'a man on a brown horse.' But if you have
known nothing of such a remarkable pair within--the last month for
instance, I fear you can't help me much. If you will tell me where to
find your husband, in Newmarket, and allow me to light my pipe, I'll not
trouble you any more." These benevolences the pale woman did not
withhold, but she saw me depart with a wintry smile, and I heard her
distinctly mutter to a handmaiden--fearfully arid and adust--who peered
over her mistress' shoulder, "There's another on 'em, _I_ know."

I found the husband in Newmarket, easily enough--at the "store," of
course: this is invariably the centre of all gossiping and liquoring-up,
in such villages as cannot boast a public bar-room. When I delivered
certain verbal credentials, he was disposed to be more communicative
than his spouse; but his information was not very clear or satisfactory.
It appeared that on the previous morning, some hour before dawn a man
had knocked at the door and asked for shelter: from the description, I
at once recognized my guide and Falcon. But, for once, Shipley's
over-caution told against him: he not only declined to give his name,
but would not state, precisely, whence he came or whither he was going:
there were many Federal spies about, laying traps for Southern
sympathizers; so the former got suspicious, and instead of welcoming the
stranger, prayed him to pass on his way. This solitary instance of
inhospitality is thus, I think, easily accounted for. I could not blame
my "informant;" but the state of things was enough to chafe even a meek
temper: the roan's long legs had begun to tire under the unwonted weight
before I reached Newmarket, and he rolled fearfully in the slowest trot;
yet I had sworn not to sleep before I laid my hand on Falcon's mane, and
I felt, with every fresh check, more savagely determined to keep the
trail as long as horse-flesh would last under me. I knew there were few
places in that county where Shipley would dare to trust himself even for
a night's lodging: some of his relations lived within half a league of
Symonds; and, if he meant fairly by me and mine, he was certain to
advise the latter of his return: so I resolved to push straight on for
my old quarters. Between me and the wished for _gîte_ there lay sixteen
miles of hilly road--darkling every minute faster.

I do not care to remember that dreary ride--or rather, walk--for two
hours, at least, of the distance were done on foot. For awhile I had
pleasanter companions than my own sullen thoughts: a pair of blue-birds
kept with me, for two or three miles at least, fluttering and twittering
along the fences by my side, with the prettiest sociability--sometimes
ahead, sometimes behind--never more than a dozen yards off; their
brilliant plumage shot through the twilight like jets of sapphire flame:
I felt absurdly sorry when they disappeared at last into the deepening
blackness. I had been warned of the probability of encountering a
cavalry picket somewhere on my road: so I was not greatly surprised when
the possible peril became a certain one. I was riding slowly up a low,
steep hill, about ten miles from Newmarket (I think the two or three
houses are dignified by the name of Rockville), when I saw the
indistinct forms of several horses, and the taller figure of one mounted
man, standing out against the clear night-sky on the very crest of the
ascent. I drew rein instinctively; but in that particular frame of mind,
I don't think I should have turned back, if the gates of the old Capitol
had stood open across the road. So I jogged steadily on, trying to look
as innocently unconscious as possible. Seven or eight horses were
picketed to some posts outside what I conclude was a whisky store; the
troopers were all comforting themselves within: the intense cold had
probably made the solitary sentinel drowsy, for his head drooped low on
his breast, and he never lifted it as I rode past. I could not attempt
to make a run of it, so I did not quicken my speed, when the danger was
left behind: indeed I halted more than once, listening for the sound of
hoofs in my rear, in which case I meant to have made a plunge into the
black woods on either side, so as to let the pursuit pass. Hearing
nothing, I dismounted again, and strode on rather more cheerfully.

The roan was not more glad than his rider, when we groped our way up the
lane, leading through fields to Symonds' homestead. The good wife came
out quickly, in answer to my hail, her husband being absent, as usual.

"Oh, Major," she said, "I can't say how glad I am to see you. Shipley's
so anxious about you: he hasn't been gone half an hour."

"And the brown horse?" I broke in.

"He's in the stable; and looking right well."

With a huge sigh of relief I flung myself out of the saddle.

"That'll do," I said, "Mrs. Symonds; I don't want to hear another word,
unless it relates to--ham and eggs."

Truly, I fear that the neat-handed Phillis must have been aweary that
night before she had satisfied Gargantua. A messenger soon summoned
Shipley, and he was with me before midnight; he explained all his
movements satisfactorily, and I could not but acknowledge he had acted
throughout discreetly and well. We sat far into the morning, discussing
future plans. Ultimately it was settled that he should start with the
roan, so soon as the animal should be rested and fit for the road,
traveling by moderate stages, to some resting-place near Oakland. The
rendezvous was to be determined by information he would receive in those
parts; and I was to be advised of it by a letter left for me in
Cumberland. Shipley reckoned that it would take him ten days at least to
make his point. This interval I was to spend in Baltimore; from which I
was to proceed, with my horse, to Cumberland, in the cars. This plan had
the double advantage of saving Falcon over two hundred miles of march,
and of enabling my guide to make his way, more securely, as a solitary
traveler. He could not trust himself on the railroad, nor would it have
been safe to attempt the transport of two horses.

So, on the following day, I made--anything but a triumphant--entry into
Baltimore. Kindly greetings and condolences could not enable me during
that last visit to shake off a restless discontent--a gloomy distrust of
the future--a vague sense of shameful defeat.



CHAPTER VII.

FALLEN ACROSS THE THRESHOLD.


Early on Monday, the 30th of April, I addressed myself to the journey
once more, taking the cars to Cumberland, whither Falcon had preceded me
by two days, and this time I bound myself by a vow--not lightly to be
broken--that I would not see Baltimore again, of free will or free
agency, till I had heard the tuck of Southern drums. The most remarkable
part of the road is from Point of Rocks to Harper's Ferry, inclusive,
where the rails find a narrow space to creep between the river and the
cliffs of Catoctin and Elk Mountains. The last-named spot is especially
picturesque, standing on a promontory washed on either side by the
Potomac and Shenandoah, with all the natural advantages of abrupt rocks,
feathery hanging woods, and broken water. Thenceforward there is little
to interest or to compensate for the sluggishness of pace and frequency
of delays. The track winds on always through the same monotony of forest
and hill, plunging into the gorges and climbing the shoulders of bluffs,
with the audacity of gradient and contempt of curve that marks the
handiwork of American engineers. I wonder that one of these did not take
Mount Cenis in hand, and save the monster tunnel. The line was strongly
picketed; everywhere you saw the same fringe of murky-white tents, and
at every station the same groups of squalid soldiery.

What especially exasperated _me_ was, the incessant and continuous
neighborhood of the Potomac. If you left it for a few minutes you were
certain to come upon it again before the eye had time to forget the
everlasting foam-splashed ochre of the sullen current, and at each fresh
point it met you undiminished in volume, unabated in turbulency. Long
before this I had begun to look at the river in the light of a personal
enemy. I think that Xerxes, in the matter of the Hellespont, did wisely
and well. Did I possess his resources of men and money, I would fain do
so and more likewise to that same Potomac, subdividing its waters till
the pet spaniel of "my Mary Jane" should ford them without wetting the
silky fringes of her trailing ears.

Theoretically, a road passing through leagues of forest-clad hills ought
to be pleasant, if not interesting; practically, you are bored to death
before you get half way through. There is a remarkable scarcity of
anything like fine-grown, timber; the underwood is luxuriant enough,
especially where the mountain laurel abounds; but in ten thousand acres
of stunted firwood, you would look in vain for any one tree fit to
compare with the gray giants that watch over Norwegian fiords, or fit to
rank in "the shadowy army of the Unterwalden pines."

We reached Cumberland shortly after sundown; my first visit was to the
stables, where I hoped to find Falcon. Imagine my disgust on hearing
that, through an accident on the line, the unlucky horse had been shut
up for forty-six hours in his box, with provender just enough for one
day. He had been well tended, however, and judiciously fed in small
quantities at frequent intervals, and, barring that he looked rather
"tucked up," did not seem much the worse for his enforced fast.

I found Shipley's letter, too, where I had been told to expect it; he
had got so far without let or hindrance; the meeting-place was set about
forty miles northwest of Cumberland. I spent the evening, not
unpleasantly, partly at the house of a "sympathizing" resident to whom I
had been recommended; partly in the society of the most miraculous
Milesian I ever encountered--off the stage or out of a book. He was
stationed in Cumberland on some sort of recruiting service, and from
dawn to midnight never ceased to oil his already lissom tongue with
"caulkers" of every imaginable liquor. I was told that at no hour of
the twenty-four had any man seen him thoroughly drunk or decently sober.
When we first met, his cups had brought him nearly to the end of the
belligerent or irascible stage; he was then inveighing against the
dwellers in the Shenandoah Valley, where he had lately been quartered,
for their want of patriotism in declining to furnish their defenders
with gratuitous whisky and tobacco; threatening the most dreadful
reprisals when he should visit "thim desateful Copperhids" again.
Suddenly, without any warning, he slid into the maudlin phase, taking
his parable of lamentation against "this crule warr."

"I weep, sirr," said he, "over the rrupture of mee adhopted
counthree--the counthree that resaved mee with opin arrums, when I was
floying from the feece of toirants," &c., &c.

When he informed me that he belonged to Mulligan's division, the words,
"I suppose so," escaped me, involuntary. Truly, if the rest of the
brigade resembled the specimen before me, only the mighty Celt, whom
Thackeray had made immortal, could command it. I shall never again look
on the "stock" freshman as an exaggeration or caricature.

I waited, the next morning, till a heavy snowstorm had resolved itself
into a thin, driving sleet; then my saddle-bags were strapped on Falcon,
and I set forth alone, the good horse striding away, as strong under me
as if he had never heard of short commons. We baited at Frostburgh, a
small village set on a hill mined and tunneled with coalpits; fifteen
miles or so beyond this was the roadside inn, where I proposed to halt
for the night. The sun had long set when I rode up to the
spectral-looking white house; remarking with no pleasant surprise, that
not a vestige of smoke rose from its gaunt chimneys. At the gate there
stood a cart laden with some sort of household goods. Near this, a man,
who lounged up, seeing me draw rein, to ask my business. It appeared
that a "flitting" had taken place that very day, and that he--the good
man--was then betaking himself, with the residue of the chattels, to
their new home, about five miles back on the Frostburgh road, whither
his family had already gone. The next chance of a billet was at
Grantsville, two leagues farther on. Now that sounds too absurdly short
a distance to disquiet any traveler; but neither is the fatal straw in
the camel's load a ponderous thing, _per se_. Both Falcon and I had
reckoned that our day's work was done when we climbed the last hill, so
it was in some discontent that we set our faces once more against the
black road, and the stinging sleet, and the bitter north wind.

Amongst Mrs. Browning's earlier poems, there is one to my mind almost
peerless for sweet sonority of verse-music, and simplicity of strength.
If it chance that any reader of mine has not admired "The Rhyme of the
Duchess May," this page, at least, has not been written in vain. My
saddle-bags held no volume other than a note-book, but that ballad in
manuscript was nearly the last gift bestowed on me in Baltimore. Never
was mortal mood less romantic than mine, so I cannot account for the
fancy which impelled me, there and then, to recite aloud, how

    The bridegroom led the flight, on his red roan steed of might;
    And the bride lay on his arm, still, as tho' she feared no harm,
        Smiling out into the night.
    "Fearest thou?" he said at last. "Nay," she answered him in haste,
    "Not such death as we could find; only life with one behind,
        Ride on--fast as fear--ride fast."

I found one listener, more appreciative than the wild pine-barren, that
surely had never been waked by rhythmic sound since the birthday of
Time. Falcon pricked his ears, and champed his bit cheerily, as he
mended his pace without warning of spur. As for myself--the pure,
earnest Saxon diction proved a more efficient "comforter" than "the
many-colored scarf round my neck, wrought by the same kind white hands
beyond the sea;" hands that, even now, I venture to salute with the lips
of a grateful spirit, in all humility and honor.

So the way did not seem so long that brought us through the straggling,
dim-lighted streets of Grantsville, up to the porch of its single
hostelry, where, after some parley, I found a fair chance of supper and
bed, and a heavy-handed Orson to help me in racking up Falcon.

It would be very unfair to draw a comparison between an ordinary
roadside inn in England and its synonym up in the country of America; a
better parallel is a speculative railway tavern verging always on
bankruptcy. There is an utter absence of the old-fashioned coziness
which enables you easily to dispense with luxuries. You enter at once
into a stifling, stove heated bar-room, defiled with all nicotine
abominations, where, for the first few minutes, you draw your breath
hard, and then settle down into a dull, uneasy stupor, conscious of
nothing except a weight tightening around your temples like a band of
molten iron. That is the only guest-chamber, save a parlor in the rear,
the ordinary withdrawing-room and nursery of the family, where you take
your meals in an atmosphere impregnated with babies and their
concomitants. The fare is not so bad, after all, and monotony does not
prevent chicken and ham fixings from being very acceptable after a long,
fasting ride. It blew a gale that night from the northwest, and the
savage wind--laden with sheets of snow--hurled itself against eaves and
gable till the crazy tenement quivered from roof-tree to foundation
beams. I went to my unquiet rest early, chiefly to avoid an importunate
reveler in the bar-room, who "wished to put to the stranger a few small
questions," troublesome to answer, that I had not patience to evade.

It was high noon on the following day when I set forth again. The snow
had ceased to fall two hours before, but I wished to give it time to
settle; besides, any tracks would greatly help me over the rough
cross-country road I had to travel. My route-bill enjoined me to call at
a certain house where the lane turned off from the highway, to obtain
further instructions. These were duly given me by the farmer, an elderly
man, with a wild, gray beard, vague, red eyes, and a stumbling
incoherence of speech. He repeatedly professed himself "pure and clear
as the dew of Heaven." These characteristics applied probably to his
principles--patriotic or private; they certainly did not to his
directions, which led me two miles astray, before I had ridden twice
that distance; no trifling error, when you had to struggle back over
steep, broken ground, through drifts fully girth deep.

However, as evening closed in, I "made" Accident--the point where I
ought to have found Shipley. He was a very good guide--when you caught
him--but such a perfect _ignis fatuus_, when once out of sight, that I
was not at all surprised at hearing he had gone on, the night before, to
a farm-house--more safe and secluded, certainly--about sixteen miles
off. My informant offered to pilot me thither so soon as it should be
thoroughly dark. This offer I accepted at once, only hoping that Falcon
would, like myself, consider it "all in the day's work."

I shall never forget my halt at Accident, if only on account of the
martyrdom I endured at the hands of some small, pale boys, children of
the house wherein I abode. I had just settled myself to smoke a
meditative pipe before supper, when they came in, with a formidable air
of business about all the three; they drew up a little bench, exactly
opposite to my rocking-chair, fixing themselves, and me, into a
deliberate stare. Every now and then the spokes-boy of the party--he was
the oldest, evidently, but his face was smaller and whiter, and his eyes
were more like little black beads than those of either of his
brethren--would fire off a point-blank pistol-shot of a question; when
this was answered or evaded, they resumed their steady stare. I was
lapsing rapidly into a helpless imbecility under the horrible
fascination, when their mother summoned me to supper; they vanished
then, with a derisive chuckle, to which they were certainly entitled:
for they had utterly discomfited the stranger within their gates.

One more long night-ride over steep, broken forest-ground--enlivened by
certain ultra-marine reminiscences of my guide, who had been a sort of
land-buccaneer in California--brought us to the farm, far in the bosom
of the hills, where I found Shipley, buried in a deep sleep. The sole
intelligence I heard that night related to the roan: the enfeebled
constitution of that unlucky animal had given way under rough travel and
wild weather; he was reported to be dying; hearing which, I could
scarcely deny him great good sense, however I might lament his lack of
endurance.

"The sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep," applies, of course, to
horses as well as hard-worked men.

My new host was a thorough specimen of the upland yeoman--half hunter,
half farmer, and all over a cattle-dealer. Deer and bears still abound
in those hills, though the latter are not so plentiful as they were a
score of years back, when B---- and his father slew thirty-three in a
single season: in one conflict he lost two fingers, from his
hunting-knife slipping while he was locked in the death-grapple.

The next morning broke wild and stormy, but the good man rode out on the
scout, to see how the land lay round Oakland; while he was absent we
talked over our plans, and looked over his cattle to find a remount for
my guide. The roan's malady had not been exaggerated; he was indeed in a
miserable plight, suffering, I thought, from acute internal
inflammation. After dinner we had some very pretty rifle practice, at
short distances, with a huge, clumsy weapon. I saw a boy of sixteen put
five consecutive bullets into the circumference of a half-crown at
seventy-five yards.

Late in the afternoon our host returned, and we came to terms for rather
a neat four-year-old filly: neither her condition nor strength was equal
to the work before her; but Shipley thought that, nursing, she would
carry him through; and once in Secessia, my interest in the purchase
would cease. The roan was, of course, left behind, to be killed or
cured. His chances of life seemed then so faint (though the hill-farmers
are no mean farriers) that I thought he was fairly valued in the deal at
thirty dollars. It appeared that there was increase of vigilance
throughout the frontier-guard: in Oakland itself a full company was
stationed, and strong pickets were thrown out all around, but B---- felt
confident he could pilot us through these.

We started soon after nightfall, in the midst of a sharp sleet-storm,
but we dared not delay to give the weather time to clear, for a
domiciliary visit from the Federals was by no means improbable. The old
hunter had not boasted too much of his local knowledge. He led on,
through winding byways and forest paths--sometimes striking straight
across the clearings--till the lights of Oakland glimmered in our rear,
and the _cordon_ of pickets was threaded; nor did he leave us till we
had reached a point whence a straight track--well known to
Shipley--would bring us down on the north branch of the Potomac.
Thenceforward, my guide and I rode on alone: the moon shone out, broad
and bright, in a cloudless sky, as we climbed the wooded spurs that lie
as outworks before the main range of the Alleghanies; the silvery
transparent shimmer of the frost-work on the feathery for-sprays, was
one of the most remarkable effects of reflected light that I can
remember. The snow was more than fetlock-deep where it lay level, and
the filly tired fearfully towards morning. She could not walk near up to
Falcon's long, even stride. I had to halt perpetually, to wait for my
companion; but in the tenth weary hour we sighted the crazy bridge that
spans the North Branch, and by four, A. M., on Good Friday, our steeds

        Might graze at ease
    Beyond the brood Borysthenes.

Rock, and wood, and water, were all looking their best, under a
brilliant sun, when I rose, but the object on which I gazed with most
satisfaction, was the accursed river circumvented at last. The solitary
green things I could find actually on the bank, were some sprigs of
cypress: these I gathered with due formula of lustration; but the _absit
omen_ was spoken in vain.

Then I wrote two or three letters, inclosing in each the cypress, token
of partial success; but these never reached their destinations: they
were prudently suppressed, three days later, by the person to whose
discretion I trusted to forward them. My correspondence being cleared
off, and Falcon thoroughly groomed, I fell back upon the resources of
the little town for amusement, and lighted on one scrap of light
literature, the fragment of a nameless magazine. In this there were some
good, quiet verses, that I thought worth transcribing, were it only for
the incongruity of the place in which I found them: perhaps they are
already well known; but _I_ am ignorant even of the author's name.

                 MAUD.

    Yes, she always loved the sea,
    God's half uttered mystery;
    With the murmur of its myriad shells,
      And never-ceasing roar:
    It was well, that when she died,
    They made Maud a grave beside
    The blue pulses of the tide,
      'Neath, the crags of Elsinore.

    One chill red leaf falling down--
    Many russet autumns gone;
    A lone ship with folded wings
      Lay sleeping off the lea:
    Silently she came by night,
    Folded wings of murky white,
    Weary with their lengthened flight;
      Way-worn nursling of the sea.

    Eager peasants thronged the sands;
    There were tears and clasping hands;
    But one sailor, heeding none,
      Passed thro' the churchyard-gate:
    Only "Maud," the headstone read,--
    Only Maud, was't all it said?
    Why did _he_ then bow his head,
      Moaning, "Late, mine own, too late!"

    And they called her cold--God knows,
    Under quiet winter's snows,
    The invisible hearts of flowers
      Grow up to blossoming:
    And the hearts judged calm and cold,
    Might, if all their tale were told,
    Seem cast in a gentler mould,
      Full of love and life and spring.

We were in the saddle again an hour before sunset, our next point being
a log-hut on the very topmost ridge of the Alleghanies, wherein dwelt a
man said to be better acquainted than any other in the country round,
with the passes leading into the Shenandoah Valley. We ascertained,
beyond a doubt, that a company was stationed at Greenland Gap, close to
which it was absolutely necessary we should pass; but with a thoroughly
good local guide, we might fairly count on the same luck which had
brought us safe round Oakland. Night had fallen long before we came down
on the South River, a mere mountain torrent, at ordinary seasons; but
now, flowing along with the broad dignity of a swift, smooth river. My
guide's mare wanted shoeing, and there chanced to be a rude forge close
to the ford, which is the only crossing-place since the bridge was
destroyed last autumn by the Confederates. It was important that the
local pilot should be secured as soon as possible (he was constantly
absent from home), so I rode on alone, with directions that were easy to
follow.

The smith, whose house stood but three hundred yards or so off, had told
me that I had to strike straight across the ford, for a gap in the dense
wood cloaked by the opposite bank. It was disagreeably dark at the
water's edge, for the low moon was utterly hidden behind a thicket of
cypress and pine; but I did make out a narrow opening _exactly_
opposite; for this I headed unhesitatingly. We lost footing twice; but a
mass of tangled timber above broke the current--nowhere very strong--and
the water shoaled quickly under the further shore; the bottom was sound,
too, just there, though the bank was steep; and Falcon answered a sharp
drive of the spurs with a gallant spring, that landed him on a narrow
shelf of slippery clay, hedged in on three sides by brush absolutely
impenetrable. There was not room to stand firm, much less to turn
safely; before I had time to think what was to be done, there was a
backward slide, and a flounder; in two seconds more, I had drawn myself
with some difficulty from under my horse, who lay still on his side, too
wise, at first, to struggle unavailingly. If long hunting experience
makes a man personally rather indifferent about accidents, it also
teaches him when there is danger to the animal he rides; looking at
Falcon's utter helplessness and the constrained twist of his hind legs,
which I tried in vain to straighten, I began to have uncomfortable
visions of ricked backs and strained sinews: I was on the wrong side of
the river, too, for help; though even the rope of a Dublin Garrison
"wrecker" would have helped but little then. Thrice the good horse made
a desperate attempt to stand up, and thrice he sank back again with the
hoarse sigh, between pant and groan--half breathless, half
despairing--that every hunting man can remember, to his cost. It was
impossible to clear the saddle-bags without cutting them; I had drawn my
knife for this purpose, when a fourth struggle (in which his fore-hoofs
twice nearly struck me down), set Falcon once more on his
feet--trembling, and drenched with sweat, but materially uninjured. I
contrived to scramble into the saddle, and we plunged into the ford
again, heading up stream, till we struck the real gap, which was at
least thirty yards higher up. It is ill trusting to the accuracy of a
native's _carte du pays_. Another league brought me to the way-side hut
where I was instructed to ask for fresh guidance.

"Right over the big pasture, to the bars at the corner--then keep the
track through the wood to the 'improvements'--and the house was close
by." Such were the directions of the good-natured mountaineer, who
offered himself to accompany me: but this I would by no means allow.

Now, an up-country pasture, freshly cleared, is a most unpleasant place
to cross, after nightfall: the stumps are all left standing, and felled
trees lie all about--thick as boulders on a Dartmoor hillside; then,
however, a steady moon was shining, and Falcon picked his way daintily
through the timber, hopping lightly, now and then, over a trunk bigger
than the rest, but never losing the faint track: we got over the high
bars, too, safely, hitting them hard. The wood-path led out upon a
clearing, after a while: here I was fairly puzzled. There was no sign of
human habitation, except a rough hut, some hundred yards to my right,
that I took to be an outlying cattle-shed: there was not the glimmer of
a light anywhere.

I have not yet written the name of the man I was seeking: contrasts of
time and place made it so very remarkable, that I venture to break the
rule of anonyms. Mortimer Nevil--who would have dreamt of lighting on,
perhaps, the two proudest patronymics of baronial England, in a log hut
crowning the ridge of the Alleghanies?

While I wandered hither and thither in utter bewilderment, my ear caught
a sound as of one hewing timber; I rode for it, and soon found that the
hovel I had passed thrice was the desired homestead; truly, it was
fitting that the possible descendant of the king-maker should reveal
himself by the rattle of his axe.

It is needless to say, that I was received courteously and kindly. The
mountaineer promised his services readily; albeit, he spoke by no means
confidently of our chances of getting through; the company of Western
Virginians that had recently marched into Greenland, was said to be
unusually vigilant; only the week before, a professional blockade-runner
had been captured, who had made his way backwards and forwards
repeatedly, and was thoroughly conversant with the ground. The attempt
could not possibly be made till the following evening; till then, Nevil
promised to do his best to make Falcon and me comfortable.

I shall not easily forget my night in the log hut; it consisted of a
single room, about sixteen feet by ten; in this lived and slept the
entire family--numbering the farmer, his wife, mother, and two children.
When they spoke, confidently, of finding me a bed, I fell into a great
tremor and perplexity; the problem seemed to me not more easy to solve
than that of the ferryman, who had to carry over a fox, a goose, and a
cabbage; it was physically impossible that the large-limbed Nevil and
myself should be packed into the narrow non-nuptial couch; the only
practicable arrangement involved my sharing its pillow with the two
infants or with the ancient dame; and at the bare thought of either
alternative, I shivered from head to heel. At last, with infinite
difficulty, I obtained permission to sleep on my horse-rug spread on the
floor, with my saddle for a bolster; when this point was once settled, I
spent the evening very contentedly, basking in the blaze of the huge
oaken logs; if stinted in all else, the mountaineer has always large
luxury of fuel. I was curious to find out if my host knew anything of
his own lineage; but he could tell me nothing further, than that his
grandfather was the first colonist of the family; oddly enough, though,
in his library of three or four books, was an ancient work on heraldry;
his father had been much addicted to studying this, and was said to have
been learned in the science.

At about ten, P. M., Shipley knocked at the door, fearfully wet and cold;
the smith had accompanied him to the ford, so that he could not go
astray, but his filly hardly struggled through the deep, strong water.
Our host found quarters for him, in the log hut of a brother, who dwelt
a short half-mile off.

I spent all the fore-part of the next day in lounging about, watching
the sluggish sap drain out of the sugar-maples, occasionally falling
back on the female society of the place; for the Nevil had gone forth on
the scout. It was not very lively: my hostess was kindness itself, but
the worn, weary look never was off her homely face; nor did I wonder at
this when I heard that, besides their present troubles and hardships,
they had lost four children in one week of the past winter from
diphtheria; it was sad to see how painfully the mother clung to the two
that death had left her; she could not bear them out of her sight for an
instant. A very weird-looking cummer was the grand-dame--with a broken,
piping voice--tremulous hands, and jaws that, like the stage witch
wife's, ever munched and mumbled. She seldom spoke aloud, except to
groan out a startlingly sudden ejaculation of "Oh, Lord," or "O dear;"
these widows' mites cast into the conversational treasury did not
greatly enhance its brilliancy.

The blue sky grew murky-white before sundown, and night fell intensely
cold. The Nevil who guided us on foot had much the best of it, and I
often dismounted, to walk by his side. If he who sang the praises of the
"wild northwester" had been with us then, I doubt if he would not have
abated of his enthusiasm. The bitter snow-laden blast, even where thick
cover broke its vicious sweep, was enough to make the blood stand still
in the veins of the veriest Viking. After riding about ten miles, we
left the rough paths we had hitherto pursued, and struck, across
country. For two hours or more we forced our way slowly and
painfully through bush and brake--through marshy rills and rocky
burns--demolishing snake-fences whenever we broke out on a clearing.
Shipley led his mare almost the whole way; and I, thinking the saddle
safest and pleasantest conveyance over ordinarily rough ground, was
compelled to dismount repeatedly.

It was about one o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the 5th of April: we
were then crossing some tilled lands, intersected by frequent narrow
belts of woodland. Our course ran parallel to the mountain-road leading
from Greenland to Petersburg; the former place was then nearly three
miles behind us, and our guide felt certain that we had passed the
outermost pickets. It was very important that we should get housed
before break of day; so we were on the point of breaking into the beaten
track again, and had approached it within fifty yards, when suddenly,
out of the dark hollow on our left, there came a hoarse shout:

"Stop. Who are you? Stop or I'll fire."

Now I have heard a challenge or two in my time, and felt certain at once
that even, a Federal picket would have employed a more regular formula.
The same idea struck Shipley too.

"Come on," he said, "they're only citizens."

So on we went, disregarding a second and third summons in the same
words. We both looked round for the Nevil, but keener eyes would have
sought for him in vain; at the first sound of voices he had plunged into
the dark woods above us, where a footman, knowing the country, might
defy any pursuit. Peace and joy go with him! By remaining he would only
have ruined himself, without profiting us one jot.

Then three revolver-shots were fired in rapid succession. To my question
if he was hit, my guide answered cheerily in the negative; neither of us
guessed that one bullet had struck his mare high up in the neck; though
the wound proved mortal the next day, it was scarcely perceptible, and
bled altogether internally. One of those belts of woodland crossed our
track about two hundred yards ahead; we crashed into this over a gap in
the snake-fence; but the barrier on the further side was high and
intact. Shipley had dismounted, and had nearly made a breach by pulling
down the rails, when, the irregular challenge was repeated directly in
our front, and we made out a group of three dark figures about
thirty-five yards off.

"Give your names, and where you are going, or I'll fire."

"He's very fond of firing," I said in an undertone to Shipley, and then
spoke out aloud. (I saw at once the utter impossibility of escape, even
if we could have found our way back, without quitting our horses, which
I never dreamt of.)

"If you'll come here, I'll tell you all about it."

I could not have advanced if I had wished it; in broad day the fence
would have been barely practicable. I spoke those exact words in a tone
purposely measured and calm, so that they should not be mistaken by our
assailants: I have good reason to remember them, for they were the last
I ever uttered on American ground as a free agent. They had hardly
passed my lips, when a rifle cracked; I felt a dull numbing blow inside
my left knee, and a sensation as if hot sealing-wax was trickling there;
at the same instant, Falcon dropped under me--without a start or
struggle, or sound besides a horrible choking sob--shot right through
the jugular vein.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE ROAD TO AVERNUS.


Before I had struggled clear of my horse, Shipley's hand was on my
shoulder, and his hurried whisper in my ear.

"What shall we do? Will you surrender?"

Now, though I knew already that I had escaped with a flesh-wound from a
spent bullet, I felt that I could not hope to make quick tracks that
night. Certain reasons--wholly independent of personal convenience--made
me loth to part with my saddle-bags; besides this, I own I shrank from
the useless ignominy of being hunted down like a wild beast on the
mountains. So I answered, rather impatiently:

"What the deuce would you have one do--with a dead horse and a lamed
leg? Shift for yourself as well as you can."

Without another word I walked towards the party in our front, with an
impulse I cannot now define; it could scarcely have been seriously
aggressive, for a hunting-knife was my solitary weapon; but for one
moment I _was_ idiot enough to regret my lost revolver, I was traveling
as a neutral and civilian, with no other object than my private ends;
the slaughter of an American citizen, on his own ground, would have been
simply murder, both by moral and martial law, and I heard afterwards
that our Legation could not have interfered to prevent condign
punishment. But reason is dumb sometimes, when the instincts of the "old
Adam" are speaking. I suppose I am not more truculent than my fellows;
but since then, in all calmness and sincerity, I have thanked God for
sparing me one strong temptation.

Before I had advanced ten paces the same voice challenged again.

"Stop where you are--if you come a step nearer, I'll shoot."

I was in no mood to listen to argument, much less to an absurd threat.

"You may shoot and be d----d," I said. "You've got the shooting all your
own way to-night. I carry no fire-arms,"--and walked on.

Now, I record these words--conscious that they were thoroughly
discreditable to the speaker--simply because I mentioned them in my
examination before the Judge Advocate (after he had insisted on the
point of verbal accuracy), and from his office emanated a paragraph,
copied into all the Washington journals, stating that I had cursed my
captors fluently. I affirm, on my honor, that this was the solitary
imprecation that escaped me from first to last.

So I kept on advancing: they did _not_ fire, and I don't suppose they
would have done so, even if they had had time to reload. I soon got near
enough to discern that among the three men there was not a trace of
uniform; they were evidently farmers, and roughly dressed "at that." So
I opened parley in no gentle terms, requiring their authority for what
they had done, and promising that they should answer it, if there was
such a thing as law in these parts.

"Well, if we ain't soldiers," the chief speaker said, "we're Home
Guards, and that's the same thing here; we've as much authority as we
want to back us out. Why didn't you stop, and tell us who you are, and
where you're going?"

By this time I was cool enough to reflect, and act with a purpose. For
my own, as well as for his sake, I was most anxious that Shipley should
escape. I knew they would not find a scrap of compromising paper on me;
but he was a perfect post-carrier of dangerous documents, and a marked
man besides--altogether a suspicious companion for an innocent traveler.
So I began to discuss several points with my captors in a much calmer
tone--demonstrating that from the irregularity of their challenge we
could not suppose it came from any regular picket--that there were many
horse-thieves and marauders about, so that it behoved travelers to be
cautious--that it would have been impossible to have explained our
names, object, and destination in a breath, even if they had given more
time for such reply: finally, making a virtue of necessity, I consented
to accompany them to the regular out-post of Greenland, stipulating that
I should have a horse to carry me and my saddle-bags; for my knee was
still bleeding, and stiffening fast.

All this debate took ten minutes at least, during which time my captors
seemed to have forgotten my companion's existence, though they must have
seen his figure cross the open ground when they first fired. Long before
we got back to the horses, Shipley had "vamosed" into the mountain,
carrying his light luggage with him; only some blank, envelopes were
lying about, evidently dropped in the hurry of removal.

I knelt down by Falcon's side, and lifted his head out of the dark red
pool in which it lay. Even in the dim light I could see the broad,
bright eye glazing: the death-pang came very soon; he was too weak to
struggle; but a quick, convulsive shiver ran through all the lower
limbs, and, with a sickening hoarse gurgle in the throat, the last
breath was drawn.

My good, stout, patient horse! Few and evil were the days of his
pilgrimage with me; but we had begun to know and like each other well. I
cannot remember to have borne a heavier heart, than when I turned away
from his corpse, half shrouded in a winding-sheet of drifting
snow-flakes--seeing nothing certain in my own future, save frustrated
projects and exhausted resources.

I threw my saddle-bags across Shipley's saddle, and rode slowly down,
three miles, into Greenland. The filly's head drooped wearily, as she
faltered on through the half-frozen mud and water; but no one guessed,
till daylight broke, that she had then got her death-wound.

When we reached the hovel that was the headquarters of the detachment,
only two or three soldiers were lounging around the fire; but the news
of a capture roused most of the sleepers, and the low, dim room was soon
filled, suffocatingly, with a squalid crowd, in and out of uniform:
prominent, in the midst, stood the long, lank, half-dressed figure of
the lieutenant in command. Neither he nor his men were absolutely
uncourteous, when they once recognized that I was not a Confederate spy,
or a professional blockade-runner; but they were exultant, of course,
and disposed to indulge in a rough jocularity, during the necessary
inspection of my person and baggage.

The surgeon was a coarse edition of Maurice Quill; when he had examined
my knee, and dressed it--not unskillfully--(the conical point of "the
Sharp's" bullet had just reached the bone), he took great interest in
the search of my saddle-bags; desiring to be informed of the precise
cost of each article. When I declined to satisfy him, he became
exceedingly witty--not to say sarcastic.

"Here's a mighty curious sort of a traveler, boys; as don't know what
nothing costs that belongs to him, nor how he come by it," &c.

Now I was getting tired, and bored with the whole business, and stifled
with the close atmosphere--laden with every graveolent horror; besides,
I had not escaped from London "chaff" and Parisian _persiflage_, to be
mocked by a wild Virginian. So I said, quite gravely:

"It's very simple; but I don't wonder it puzzles you. You have to pay,
when you buy, out here, I dare say, _I_ haven't paid for anything for
twenty years. But, if I had known I was going to meet _you_, before I
came away I would have--looked at the bills."

Perhaps my face did not look like jesting; anyhow, he took every word
for earnest, and remained silent for some time; ruminating, I suppose,
on the grand simplicity of such a system of commerce.

This occupied their attention for a considerable time; when a party
_did_ start in pursuit of my companion, under the guidance of
Dolley--the man who had fired the last fatal shot--I reflected, with
some satisfaction, that the fugitive had a long two hours' "law," The
guard-room cleared gradually; and, before daybreak, I got some brief,
broken rest--supine on the narrowest of benches, with my crossed arms
for a pillow.

In spite of wound, and weariness, and discomfiture, I have spent a
drearier time than the morning of that same Sunday. After the first
awkward feeling had passed off, my captors showed themselves civil, and
almost friendly, after their fashion. They were very like big
school-boys--those honest Volunteers--prone to rough jokes and rude
horse-play among themselves, which the commanding officer not only
sanctioned, but personally mingled with: good-fellowship reigned
supreme, to the utter subversion of dignity and discipline.

There were some lithe, active figures among them, well fitted for the
long forced marches for which both the Northern and Southern infantry is
renowned; and two or three raw-boned giants, topping six feet by some
inches; but not one powerful or athletic frame: in many trials of
strength, in wrist and arm, I did not come across one formidable muscle.

About three o'clock--the weather had become bright and almost warm
before noon--I was lounging about on the bank of the trout-stream that
ran past the door, with my guard at my shoulder, when I saw a group of
several figures approaching. When they came nearer, one man lifted his
cap on his bayonet's point, and the others shouted. I could not catch
the words; but I guessed the truth: they had run down Shipley, after
all. He was so utterly exhausted, both in mind and body, when first
brought in, that he could hardly speak: he was not of a hardy
constitution, and he had undergone fatigue enough--to say nothing of the
fearful weather--to have broken down a more practiced pedestrian.
Dolley's party were not the actual captors, though they were hard on the
fugitive's trail; another squad, sent to search for some Confederates
supposed to be hidden in the neighborhood, had come upon some tracks in
the snow, leading to a farm-house, and there discovered my unhappy
guide, sleeping the sleep of exhaustion. This was twelve miles from the
spot where we parted, and he had struggled on till strength would carry
him no further.

The lieutenant's face grew longer than Nature had left it, as he
perused, one after another, the documents found on Shipley. Though his
demeanor towards myself remained quite amicable, it was clear that he
judged me, to a certain extent, by my associations; and his simple
joviality was somewhat clouded by an uneasy sense of responsibility.
Nevertheless, the evening passed quickly enough round the guard-room
fire; the men sang some simple chants, and the deep, rough voices
sounded not unmusically. Once more, I preferred a single plank to the
nameless abominations of the bunks, above and below stairs; and
consequently awoke with aching bones, but flesh intact.

The next morning we bade farewell to the Greenland detachment, in no
unkindness. I was really sorry when I read in the papers, a month later,
of their capture by Imboden's division, after an obstinate defense in
the church, which was burned over their heads before the survivors would
surrender.

New Creek, the headquarters of Colonel Mulligan's brigade, was our
destination. We had a sufficient escort, and besides, the valiant Dolley
accompanied us, in the character of chief witness, as well as chief
captor. His "get up" was very remarkable, consisting of a pair of brown
overalls, an old blue uniform coat, about three sizes too small for him,
and the very tallest black hat, that, as I think, I ever beheld. Slight
as my wound was, it had quite crippled me for the time; a farmer,
however, for a moderate consideration, found me a pony that saved my
legs, at much peril to its own: for it stumbled miraculously often.
Shipley began by walking, but was glad to avail himself of a chance
animal half way. Dolley and two of his friends were mounted; the
soldiers kept pace with us gallantly on foot.

When we started, I bore no sort of malice to that same Dolley; but,
before we had got through the twenty-three miles that brought us to New
Creek, I hated him intensely, as one hates the man--friend or foe--that
bores you to death's door. That he should be puffed up with vainglory,
was neither unlikely nor unreasonable. His own shots were the only ones
he had ever seen fired in anger. It was natural, too, that he should
over-estimate the importance of his capture; he had suffered from the
war, in purse, if not in person, and had lost two sons in the Northern
army from disease, one of whom had been imprisoned for six months by the
Confederates. After his first excitement had passed away, he bore
himself not unkindly towards me; though, at Greenland, he did greatly
bewail the darkness that had caused him to take a costly life instead of
a worthless one; Falcon would have fetched five hundred dollars in those
parts; even at my own valuation, _I_ could not have been appraised so
highly. So I listened to him twice or thrice with great patience, while
he told how well he had deserved of his country; but, when he persisted
in repeating the same tale, not only to me, but to every creature he
encountered, the iteration became simply "damnable." He spoke of his
dead sons in the same pompous tones of self-exultation with which he
reckoned all other items standing to the credit side of his patriotism.
Fortunately for my equanimity, I was not present when he told his own
tale at New Creek; it must have been a grand romance of history.

Yet my poor Dolley made a bad night's work of it after all. His three
days' fame in local papers cost him dear. Immediately on getting out of
prison, I heard--not without a savage satisfaction--that Imboden's
horsemen had harried his homestead thoroughly in their last raid; Dolley
only saving his life by "running like a hare." The Southerners know
everything that goes on near their lines, and are wonderfully regular in
settling scores with any registered debtor.

At New Creek I was confronted with Colonel Mulligan. His attire was
anything but military; black overalls crammed into high butcher boots, a
Garibaldi shirt of the brightest emerald green; but his bearing was
unmistakably that of a soldier and gentleman. He treated me with the
utmost courtesy. I also met with no small kindness from the adjutant of
the artillery corps, an old Crimean. Unluckily, Colonel Mulligan could
not deal with my case, so, after a brief examination, and liberal
refreshment, Shipley and myself were forwarded by rail to Wheeling, two
hundred miles further west, where the district Provost Marshal was
stationed.

We reached Wheeling in the early morning, and there were indulged with a
most welcome bath, and breakfast. Soon afterwards we stood in the
presence of the Provost Marshal, Major Darr.

The figure of this functionary certainly resembles, in its square
obesity, that of the great Emperor in his latter days. Possibly for this
reason, Major Darr affects a Napoleonic curtness and decision of speech.
Nevertheless, he was amenable to reason, and on my agreeing to pay the
expenses of an escort, consented to forward me to Baltimore, to be
identified. Shipley was committed at once to the military prison.

It was a long, weary journey of twenty-three hours, and I was so
harassed by want of sleep, that I scarcely appreciated some really fine
scenery on the Laurel and Chestnut ranges. We reached Baltimore about
three, A. M., and I dispatched two notes immediately, one to the British
Consul, another to my most intimate acquaintance in the city.

Both came down without delay, proffering all possible assistance. I had
a regular _levee_ before my guards conveyed me to the office of the
Chief of Gen. Schenck's staff, to whose mercies I was consigned. Colonel
Cheesebrough was civil enough; but, in his turn, professed himself
unable to deal with my case, and referred it to the General. Cæsar was
not less dilatory than Felix. I never saw the potentate before whose nod
Baltimore trembles (he was unwell, I believe, or unusually sulky), but I
underwent a lengthened interrogatory at the mouth of a very young and
girlish-looking aide-de-camp. In the midst of this, rather an absurd
incident occurred. General Schenck's headquarters are at the Eutaw
House. The fair daughter of a house at which I had been very
intimate--was to be married that same day, and at that same house the
bridegroom's party were staying. Suddenly, through an opening door, two
or three of these my friends debouched upon the scene. They had not
heard one word of my misadventures, so that they were naturally rather
surprised at finding me there, in such company. I really think that the
sympathy lavished upon me in that brief interview was not so refreshing
as the palpable discomfort of the unhappy _aide_, under a galling
glance-fire maintained by Southern eyes, not careful to dissemble their
hatred and scorn.

I was so perfectly used to being _ballotte_ by this time, that it did
not in anywise surprise me, to hear that I was to be sent down to
Washington, to be examined by the Judge-Advocate-General. There was so
much delay in making out commitment papers that we lost the afternoon
train. No other started before eight, P. M., so that, by the time we
reached Washington, all offices would have been closed, and we must have
spent the night in the Central Guard-house. I had heard enough of the
foul abominations of that refuge for the imprisoned destitute, to make
me determined never to cross the threshold unless under actual coercion.
I said as much to the cavalry sergeant who had me in charge; suggesting
that, by taking the four A. M. train on the following morning, we should
arrive hours before the Provost Marshal's or Judge Advocate's offices
were open. He was civilly rational about the whole question, and, on my
parole not to attempt escape, readily consented to accompany me to a
house, where I was more at home than anywhere else in Baltimore. There I
remained till long after midnight: though none of us were in the best of
spirits or tempers, that brief return to social life was an
indescribable rest and restorative. I mention this unimportant incident
chiefly because one of the charges brought against me afterwards was
founded on "my having bribed my escort, and spent the whole night at the
house of a notorious Secessionist." The poor sergeant was reduced to the
ranks for dereliction of duty; and I the more regret this, because his
good-nature was _not_ mercenary.

We reached Washington about six, A. M. No offices were open before nine.
I employed the interval, partly in breakfasting with what appetite I
might, partly in a visit to Percy Anderson, whose slumbers I was
compelled to break by the most disagreeable of all morning
apparitions--a friend in trouble. I could only just stay long enough to
receive condolences, and promises of all possible assistance--private or
diplomatic; then I betook myself to the Provost Marshal's office, which
I did not enter; thence to that of the Judge-Advocate-General.

I look back upon that interview with feelings of unmitigated
self-contempt, I confess to have been utterly deluded by that sleek
official's sham _bonhommie_; so that when he prayed me to be frank and
explicit--"Anything that you say, I shall receive with perfect
confidence," &c., &c.,--I did strive, to the best of my powers, to
forget no important incident or word relative to my conduct since I
landed in America; only making reservations where confession might
implicate others. An artless boy might easily have been gulled by the
portly presence, the unctuous voice, and eyes that twinkled merrily
through gold-rimmed glasses; but no man of mature age can remember such
a gross mistake without a hot flush of shame.

I have little cause to love the Federal Government; but I bear no grudge
against any individual Unionist with the solitary exception of the
Judge-Advocate, simply because to him alone can I trace deliberately
unfair dealing and intentional discourtesy. While I was in prison I sent
him two letters, at long intervals; though I again committed a gross
error, in addressing him as one gentleman would write to another, I
cannot think this wholly excuses his coolly ignoring both
communications. On the 21st of May, Major Turner's duty brought him to
Carroll place, and he remained there two full hours: the superintendent,
who had conferred with the prison surgeon on the state of my health,
pressed him strongly to see me. The Judge-Advocate refused, on the
ground that the case was already decided, and would be settled in a day
or so, at furthest; that same afternoon he departed on a fortnight's
leave, knowing right well that no steps could be taken in the matter
till his return. Officials are justified, I suppose, in avoiding all
waste of time or trouble; perhaps it _was_ more simple to lie to a
subordinate than to risk the short discussion that an interview would
have involved. I cannot guess at the especial reason which caused me to
be honored by Major Turner's enmity; certain it is that he was _not_
neutral or indifferent with regard to my case, but exerted himself very
successfully to thwart any measures tending to its decision or
adjustment.

During the latter days of my imprisonment, I indulged more than once in
a day-dream, not the less pleasant because it is wildly improbable.
Should the changes and chances of this mortal life ever bring me face to
face with that jovial Judge, on any neutral ground, by my faith and
honor I will say in his ear five short words not hard to understand. On
the steps of Carroll place, when the door opened to set me free, I sent
Major Turner a message much to this effect. I devoutly hope it was
delivered with the "verbal accuracy" of which he is so remarkably fond.

At the conclusion of the long examination, the Judge-Advocate left me
for a short time to obtain instructions--possibly a warrant--from
Secretary Stanton; on his return he told me that nothing could be
decided until Shipley's case had been inquired into; he assured me that
the latter should be telegraphed for at once from Wheeling; and so, with
the pleasantest of smiles, and a jest on his lips, handed me over to
Colonel Baker, who was already in waiting. This official's overt
functions are those of a District Provost Marshal--in reality, he is the
Chief of Secret Police. There are legions of stories abroad, imputing to
him the grossest oppression and venality; even strong Unionists shake
their heads disparagingly, at the mention of his name.

But of Colonel Baker, from my own knowledge, I can say nothing: I simply
passed through his office to the Old Capitol; nor do I know that he in
anywise influenced my after fortunes.

It appeared that my quarters were to be, not in the main building of the
prison, but in a sort of _dependänce_, a couple of hundred yards off,
called Carroll place; thither I was at once removed, after a brief
consultation with the officer on guard.

Mr. Wood, the head Superintendent, soon came to welcome the new arrival,
and in his first sentence gave me a specimen of the _brusquerie_ of
address for which he has acquired a certain notoriety.

"Mr. ----," he said, "I'm always glad to see your countrymen _here_. My
father was an Englishman; but I've no sympathy with England. I was born
and bred a plebeian, sir."

As I felt no particular interest in Mr. Wood's proclivities or
proletarianism, I simply shrugged my shoulders, and turned away without
a reply. But when, on his first visit to my room, two days later, he
repeated exactly the same formula, without variation of a syllable, I
thought it better to assure him that the iteration was absolutely
unnecessary, inasmuch as I had believed him on _both_ points easily from
the first. He was not at all disconcerted or offended, only we heard him
mutter to his subordinate, when they got outside our door:

"That's a pretty d----d high-handed sort of a chap, anyhow."

After half an hour's waiting, I was conducted to a room on the third
story, No. 20, and in a few minutes experienced that great rarity of a
"fresh sensation," finding myself--for the very first time in my
life--fairly under lock and key.

I had been so "harried" of late, that I felt a certain relief in being
settled _somewhere_. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent in
making acquaintance with the Baltimorean blockade-runner, my room-mate,
and in exchanging dreary prison civilities with the cells either side,
through little tunnels pierced in the wall by former prisoners, which
allowed passage to anything of a calibre not exceeding that of a rolled
newspaper. A deep, narrow trough, ingeniously excavated in a
pine-splinter, enabled us to pledge each other in mutual libations,
devoted to our better luck and speedy release. The neighbors, with whom
I chiefly held commune, were an Episcopal clergyman and a captain in the
Confederate army. Of these, more hereafter. I breathed more freely when
the temporary absence of my room-mate, for exercise, left me alone--for
the first time since my capture--with my saddle-bags. They had been in
Northern custody for four days, and subjected to the severest scrutiny:
nevertheless, they still held certain documents that I was right glad to
see vanish in the red heat of a fierce log fire.



CHAPTER IX.

CAGED BIRDS.


The miserable first-waking--dreariest of all hours that follow a great
loss or disaster--came late to me. I had gone through a certain amount
of knocking-about--mental and bodily--in the last week; and, for eight
nights, the nearest approach to a bed had been the extempore couch of a
railway-car. So, on an unhappy emaciated palliasse, covered by a dusty
horse-rug (it took me four days to weary the jailer into a concession of
sheets), I slept, all noises notwithstanding, far into my first
prison-day. It was provokingly brilliant and warm; indeed I must, in
justice to the Weather Office, allow, that its benignancy has scarcely
been interrupted, since I ceased to care whether skies were foul or
fair. My recollections of that first day are rather vague; but my
impression is, that I had a good deal to think about, and did not in the
least know how to begin. I paced up and down, as long as my knee would
allow; it was still stiff and painful, though healing fast. In a room
twelve feet by eight, you square the circle much too often for pleasure;
but it was a week before I had any other exercise. Then, I believe, I
made some attempts to improve the acquaintance of my room-mate.

He was not sullen, but, at first, somewhat saturnine and silent. The
fact was that, for many days, he had been fasting from the luxuries
dearest to every American heart--whisky and tobacco; for all money and
clothes had been taken from him at the Provost Marshal's office, and
never were returned: in these respects, after my arrival, he fared
sumptuously, by comparison, and abated greatly of his discontent. I
might have been much more unfortunate in my companion. He was not
conversational, certainly, nor very amusing in any way; but he was
cunning in all the small crafts of captivity, and kept our chamber swept
and garnished to the best of his power. The way in which dust
accumulated and renewed itself within those narrow limits, was little
short of miraculous; you might brush till you were weary, and ten
minutes afterwards things would look as though brooms had never been.
Twining ropes out of sea sand, or any other of the tasks with which
wizards have baffled fiends, were not more helpless than that on which
my comrade busied himself each morning. The wood fire could not account
for it; the nuisance increased when it became too warm to light anything
but candles; so it must remain another of the physical puzzles
concerning which we are perpetually wondering, where it all comes from,
and are never likely to be satisfied.

Mr. C---- seemed by no means sanguine as to his own prospects, and took
an early opportunity of advising me not to buoy myself up with hopes of
speedy release. I can say, truly, that from the very first I did not so
delude myself. Some of my Baltimore friends would fain have persuaded me
that, in the utter absence of criminating evidence, I should not be
detained long; I forbore to argue, but my opinion remained always the
same. I had heard how tenacious was the grasp of Federal officials,
unless loosened by more golden oil than I could then command. I had
heard, too, how slowly aid or intercession from the free outer world
could penetrate these mock-bastilles, and how reluctantly the
authorities would grant the supreme favor of a hearing, or trial, to any
whose condemnation was not sure. So I was prepared to resign myself to
anything short of a month's incarceration; but even thus, I
under-estimated the hospitable urgency of my amiable entertainers.

The return-wing of the main building in which we were confined, is
occupied exclusively by the prisoners committed under a Secretary's
warrant. These are much more closely guarded than the other inmates; but
they have the advantage of being divided off into pairs, or threes at
most, in their rooms, and their comforts are certainly better attended
to. The regulations anent food and liquors are liberal enough; you can
obtain almost anything by paying about twice its cost; but the privilege
of having meals sent in, is not lightly valued by those who have once
done battle with the boiled leather, called ration beef, contests in
which passive resistance generally prevails.

The barred window of No. 20 looks out on the narrow yard wherein
ordinary captives are allowed to disport themselves for three half-hours
daily. It is a very motley crowd. There are no Confederate soldiers
here; all these are confined in the Old Capitol; but of every other
class you may see specimens.

I will try one or two sketches. It used to amuse me to guess at the
profession of a captive from outward signs, and, after a little
practice, one is rarely wrong.

Those three, talking together apart, and gesticulating so vehemently,
with the Hebrew stamp on every line of their dark, keen faces, are
blockade-runners: they bewail their captivity more loudly than their
fellows; but, be sure, they will wriggle out, soonest of all, if freedom
can be purchased by hard swearing or gold. The profits of a single
successful venture are simply fabulous; the smugglers are frequently
captured with dollars on their persons by tens of thousands: they will
part readily with a share of the plunder to any accommodating official,
sooner than lose valuable time here; and, as for the oath, they swallow
it without a pretense at reluctance.

That group, with wild beards and long unkempt hair, clad in rough
garments of every shade, from "butternut" to hodden gray, come evidently
from the far uplands of Virginia. Looking at those rough-hewn faces and
fierce eyes, you can easily believe that such men are not careful to
dissemble their sympathies, and would not lightly forget an injury; the
chastisement of this paternal Government will change sullen disaffection
into savage animosity; they will all be sent South in time, and "it's a
free fight there." I fancy one or two of those yeomen will see the color
of Yankee blood, before they see the old homestead again.

That pale Judas face, with scanty, hircine beard, and an expression
changing often from spiteful to cunning, could belong only to a Yankee
paymaster or commissary, detected in his frauds before he had made up a
pile high enough to defy justice; for swindler is not _quite_ safe till
he is nearly a "milliner." (So, was my comrade wont to pronounce
millionaire.) Such cases occur daily, and the unity of shabbiness here
is always diversified by some trim criminals in dark blue. Putting
apparel aside, these accessions do not seem greatly to improve the
respectability of the life below-stairs.

There is a very tall man, who generally manages to take his exercise at
a different hour from the common herd: when he does mix with them, his
well-cut clothes and spotless linen make a strange contrast with the
squalor round him. He seems perfectly contented with his present lot; he
is always humming snatches of song, or chanting right lustily: he speaks
loud and freely with the few to whose converse he condescends; and there
is a gay recklessness about his whole bearing almost too ostentatious to
be natural. Before long you notice one peculiarity. Speaking or
listening--sitting or standing--walking or resting--his long, white,
lissom fingers are never still; they cannot handle the commonest object
without betraying a swift, subdued dexterity. Look closer yet, and all
his glib, sham-soldier talk will not deceive you. That gallant belongs
to a great army, whose spoils--if not bloodless--must be won with knife
and pistol, instead of rifle and sabre; to an order whose squires are
often knighted with no gentle _accolade_--an order, the date of whose
foundation neither herald nor historian knows, but which must last while
Christendom shall endure--the Unholy Order of Industry.

The professional gamblers, here, far outnumber the turfites of England,
and they apply themselves to their business from early youth with far
more exclusive pertinacity. The richest field for their talent is
barren, now that the highroad of the Mississippi is closed; but still in
every city of importance, North or South, he who would "fight the
tiger," need not wander far without discovering his den. In Richmond,
especially, the play never was so desperate and deep. It is unnecessary
to say towards which side the sympathies and interests of the mercurial
guild tend. The cunning Yankee was ever too prudent to risk much of his
hard-earned gold on the chance of a card, fairly or unfairly turned: it
is only the planter, on whom wealth flows in while he sleeps, that
tempts Fortune with a daring, near which the recklessness of the Regency
seems cautious and tame.

It is not strange that the captive knight should accept his present
position so cheerfully. Here, he enjoys every luxury that money can buy,
and whithersoever he may be consigned, he is sure to fall on his feet;
for it matters little to those cosmopolites on what spot of earth their
vagrant tents are pitched. Neither is he of the stuff that is likely
indefinitely to be detained: even this jealous Government need not fear
to let such an enemy go free. My comrade--not innocent or unmindful of
past losses at _faro_--contemplating the gay cavalier with no loving
glance, growls out, "They won't bother themselves with that rubbish
long."

There is another figure, quite picturesquely repulsive, which will
attract you more than if it were pleasant to look upon. A man,
exceedingly old, stout, and lame, with red, savage eyes, and a scowl
that never lightens or breaks: it would be an equine injustice to
compare his head to a horse's; that of many a thoroughbred measures less
in superficial inches. Clearly, a storekeeper from some remote village,
where he has battened on the necessities of his neighbors for years,
till he has got bloated like an ancient spider in its web. He hobbles up
and down, never interchanging a word with his fellows, but unceasingly
mumbling his huge toothless jaws; they say he never mutters anything but
curses; if so, his daily expense in blasphemy is something fearful to
contemplate. I think that cleanliness is as foreign to that horrible old
creature's soul as godliness: he never shows a vestige of linen, and I
am certain he sleeps in that rusty coat of bluish gray, and in that
squalid cravat-rope, never untwisted since it was first donned. His
offense must surely have been commerce, active and profitable, with
Rebeldom, for he never can have sympathized with any living thing.

One more picture, to close the list. I ought to know that figure, long
and lanky, but sinewy withal, though the head, under the fur cap, is
averted still.

    Mock me not, for otherwhere, than along the greenwood fair,
        Have I ridden fast with thee.

He turns now--I knew I was right--it is my cheery host of the White
Grounds, who led us so gallantly through brake, and brook, and
snowdrift, when the Federal dragoons followed hard on our trail: a broad
light of recognition spreads over all his honest face as he waves a
stealthy salute, and I straightway go through the pantomime of drinking
to his health and quick deliverance.

Women of all classes are confined here; but beauty alone beams on the
prison-yard from the windows of its cell. At this moment of writing, I
hear voices from a room immediately below me; fair, the speakers
possibly may be, but--judging from the fitful scraps of conversation
that rise hither--they are assuredly _very_ frail.

I think one of the most exasperating circumstances of this house of
bondage, is the exceeding flimsiness of its defenses. Part of the
inclosure of both yards consists of tall, thin boarding, full of cracks
and crevices, that might be breached with no extraordinary exertion of
foot or shoulder; and there is hardly any part of the stronghold out of
which a man, of average ingenuity, armed with a common clasp-knife--if
unwatched--could not make his way in a couple of hours. But, unwatched
you never are. The passages are not more than thirty feet long, and
there is a sentinel in each who can hear almost every sound from within.
A State prisoner never stirs beyond his room, without an armed guard at
his shoulder.

I soon heard that my reverend neighbor on the right contemplated
evasion, and, considering his opportunities, I rather wondered at
finding him here. In every cell there is a small closet, corresponding
with those on the floor above and below. In this especial one the
ceiling had fallen away, or been removed by some former prisoner;
nothing but plain boards intercepted a passage to the unoccupied
attic-story, where dormer windows opened on to the shingle roof. But,
with all this, it took the parson a full month to make up his mind and
preparations. I often communed with him through the tunnel aforesaid,
and he amused me not a little sometimes.

He looked at all things through a magnifying glass of about eighteen
power. I know that he was perfectly honest in the delusion of
considering himself one of the most important State prisoners that had
ever been confined here. He would have it that half Maryland was in
mourning for him, and ready with ransom of untold gold, but was certain
that the Government would never venture to set him free while the war
should last. Upon the oath of allegiance being proposed to him, instead
of simply declining, he defied the Judge to do his worst, expressing his
readiness to confront either gallows or platoon. The risk of either was
about equal to that of his being tortured at the stake, on the steps of
the Capitol. In spite of all this simple vanity, and flightiness of
brain, you could see that the parson had good strong principles, and
held to them fast; and I believe that his nervous excitability would not
have deterred him from encountering real danger. He appeared thoroughly
courteous, generous, and good-natured; and my companion, to whose
regiment he had been chaplain, told me that nothing could exceed his
considerate kindness to the soldiers.

Albeit afflicted by occasional fits of depression, the reverend, as a
rule, talked very cheerily; but, ah! me, how sorrowfully he would sing!
There was one psalm--penitential I presume--of about twenty-two verses,
an especial favorite. This was probably, the most soul-depressing melody
that has been chanted since the days of The Captivity. The mournful tone
bore you down irresistibly; Mark Tapley would have subsided into
melancholy gloom, before the slow versicles were half dragged through.
But the parson was not the only musical culprit, nor the worse, by many
degrees. It would be absurd to expect much cheerfulness here; a hoarse
roar breaks out now and then at some coarse practical joke; but a frank,
honest laugh--never. Yet I do wish that imprisoned discontent would vent
itself otherwise than in discordant, dismal howling. At this minute a
cracked voice is droning out,

    A little more cider;

it might be a Sioux chanting his death-song.

How well I remember, in what "stately home of England" I first listened
to that pleasant ditty. I hear, now, the leader's rich, round tones, and
I see quite plainly the fair faces of the youths and virgins that made
up the choir. _Bastá!_ it don't bear thinking about. If mine enemy were
anywhere but round the corner, I would try if his music would stand a
volley of orange-shot.

For three days or so, I could scarcely take up a paper without seeing my
own unlucky name paraded in one or more paragraphs. As they all varied,
it was somewhat remarkable that, in all alike, facts should have been so
absurdly distorted. They were not content with drawing my own fancy
portrait--imagine, if you please, the caricature--but they built a
little romance about poor Falcon's assassin, giving him credit for much
suffering for his country's sake, particularly for long imprisonment at
Richmond, since which time he had devoted himself as an Avenger. I was
gratified to observe that his name was seldom, if ever, correctly spelt.
I did think of sending a contradictory note to one of the local
journals, but decided against wasting ink and paper. Besides, it is a
pity to abase oneself unnecessarily. "I ain't proud, 'cos its sinful,"
nor over careful with whom I try a fall; but I confess a preference for
more creditable antagonists than American penny-a-liners. So, I let
them--lie.

On the fourth evening of my imprisonment, there was an unusual stir in
the building soon after nightfall. Intercourse between the different
rooms is prevented as much as possible, but the channels of covert
communication are many, and not easily cut off. In ten minutes every one
was aware that the iron-clads which were to annihilate Charleston had
recoiled, beaten and wounded. My mate rejoiced greatly after his
saturnine fashion, and I--the fullness of listlessness being not
yet--felt a brief glow of satisfaction. Others were more demonstrative.
Loud came the pæan of the warlike priest through our mural
speaking-trumpet; while the sturdy soldier on the left, after hearing
the news, and taking a trough-full of "old rye," expressed himself "good
for two months more of gaol." Some one at a lower window began to sing,
softly at first, the National Anthem of the South; then voice after
voice joined in, in spite of sentinels' warnings, till the full volume
of the defiant chorus rolled out, ringingly:

    "Hurrah! hurrah! for Southern rights, hurrah!
    One cheer more for the bonnie blue flag
      That carries a Single Star."

On the whole, I think that Sunday evening passed more rapidly than any
that I can chronicle here.

The newspapers, for the next few days, were rather amusing. The
well-practiced Republican apologists exhausted their ingenuity in
endeavoring to explain away the reverse. It was an experiment--a
reconnaissance on a large scale--anything you please but a repulse. But
the facts hemmed them in remorselessly; at last, in their desperation,
they fell fiercely, not only on their Democratic opponents, but on each
other.

The truth is, that the failure of the iron-clads was so complete, that
it ought to furnish some useful hints for the future. With the exception
of the Keokuk, whose construction differed slightly from that of her
fellows, none were sunk or fairly riddled with shot; but scarcely one
went out of that sharp, brief battle efficiently offensive. The starting
of bolts might easily be remedied, but it is clear that the revolving
machinery of the turrets is far too delicate and vulnerable; and that
these are liable to become "jammed" by a chance shot at any moment. This
objection is the more serious, when you consider how miserably these
vessels seem to steer. Almost all were more or less "sulky" as soon as
they felt the strong tideway, and the huge Ironsides lay a helpless,
useless log, half an hour after going into action. Neither do they
appear to be very formidable offensively. No reliable evidence proves
Fort Sumter to have suffered material damage; yet the attacking force
spent their strength exclusively on one of its sides and angles, and
there was nothing to prevent their pouring in a concentric fire on any
weakened point or possible breach.

But a stranger soon ceases to be surprised at any trick or eccentricity
of the American Press. The common courtesies and proprieties of the
Fourth Estate are utterly ignored in the noisy Batrachomachia; the first
step in editorial training here must be to trample on self-respect, as
the renegade used to trample on the cross. Not only do the leading
articles teem with coarse personal abuse of political opponents, but a
rival journalist is often freely stigmatized by name; his antecedents
are viciously dissected, and the back-slidings of his great-grandsire
paraded triumphantly; though this is an extreme case, for such an
authenticated ancestor seldom helps or hampers the class of which I
speak. A year of such ignoble brawling must surely be sufficient to
annihilate more moral dignity than most of these small Thunderers can
pretend to start with.

One is prepared for anything after seeing whole columns of journals,
boasting no small metropolitan and provincial renown, filled by those
revolting advertisements, that the lowest of our own penny papers only
accept under protest.

Upon one point, certainly, all agree--constant distrust and depreciation
of England; and, all things considered, I know no one spot on God's
earth, where the hackneyed old line can be quoted so complacently by a
Britisher:

    Sibilat populus, mihi plaudo.

It would be unfair, not to give the American Press credit for great
energy and ability in collecting intelligence from the different seats
of war. Considering the vast surface over which military operations
extend, and the immense distances that often lie between the scene of
action and the place of publication, it is really wonderful to see how
copiously the New York journals contrive to minister to their readers'
curiosity. The "Herald," in particular, has one or more correspondents
wherever a single brigade is stationed, and according to their own
accounts--which there is no reason to doubt--they frequently accompany
the troops till actually under fire. All agents of the Press with the
army of the Potomac are now obliged to sign their communications with
their real name. This general order is of course intended to check the
freedom of criticism, which has of late become rather too plain-spoken
to be agreeable to the irascible Chief. But it is difficult to gag an
undaunted "special;" so every morning the last intelligence streams
forth--fresh, strong, and rather coarsely flavored--like new whisky from
a still.

The sobriety of the weekly journals contrasts refreshingly with the
license of their diurnal brethren. Sporting papers are nearly the same
all the world over; but, in the rest of these placid periodicals, there
is little of violence or virulence to be found. They are enthusiastic
about the war, of course, and occasionally querulous about the
Copperheads; but they never quarrel among themselves, and are seldom
thoroughly savage with any one or anything. They generally contain a
chapter or two borrowed, with or without permission, from some English
story in progress--"Eleanor's Victory" is the favorite now--the rest of
the non-illustrated pages are filled with the very mildest little tales
that, I think, ever were penned.

These simple romancers in nowise resemble the vitriolic
melo-dramatists--scarcely caricatured by _Punch_ in "Mokeanna,"--who try
to drug, in default of intoxicating their audience; the liquor they
proffer in their pretty flimsy cups, if not exciting, is far from
deleterious; not unfrequently you catch glimpses of an under-current of
honest pathos, soon smothered by garish flowers of language; and
sometimes the style sparkles into mild effervescence, redeeming itself
from utter vapidity; these ephemerals, indeed, belong rather to the
lemonade than the milk-and-water class; but, throughout, there is a
woeful want of _verve_ and virility.

It was inexpressibly refreshing, after loitering through twenty such
pages, to revert to the "History of the Crimean War:" the curt, nervous
periods were a powerful mental tonic; and few of his many readers owe so
practical a debt to Mr. Kinglake as the writer of these words.



CHAPTER X.

DARK DAYS.


So--heavier with each link--the chain of days dragged on. My room mate
soon thawed into a stolid sociability, and was quite disposed to be
communicative; but his narrative riches about matched those of the
knife-grinder, and his military experience of one year only embraced one
battle--that of Manassas. His ideas of English society were very
remarkable. The works of Mr. G. W. M. Reynolds are much favored, it
appears, by the class who believe in Mr. George F. Train's veracity and
eloquence; from these turbid fountains mine honest friend's conceptions
were drawn. I took some trouble to undeceive him, and partially
succeeded, chiefly by insisting upon the fact that--of all living
writers--the ingenious author of the "Mysteries of Everything" was
probably the man least qualified, by personal experience, to discourse
concerning the manners and customs of the upper, or even the educated,
classes. Slowly and reluctantly, the Baltimorean abandoned his cherished
ideal of the British aristocrat--a covert Caligula, with all modern
improvements--varying the monotony of orgies with interludes of murder
and rapine; the instrument of these pleasant vices being always ready in
the shape of a Frankenstein-monster, whose mission it is to tyrannize
perpetually over the guilty lordling or lady whose secret he holds;
doing a steady trade of two assassinations or abductions weekly; and
utterly inviolable by cord, shot, or steel, up to the final blue-fire
_tableau_ of the dreary drama. I believe that my mate is now prepared to
admit, that a certain amount of piety and chastity is not incompatible
with tenure of the highest dignities in the Anglican Church--that a
youth need not necessarily be a savage Sybarite, because he happens to
be heir to a dukedom--that matronly virtue may, with a struggle, be
retained even by a Countess--and that a man may possibly be a kindly
landlord, and even an honest farmer himself (that was the crowning
triumph), though born a belted Earl.

On the fourth day, I bethought myself of teaching my companion piquet
(no purely transatlantic game is in the least interesting, if the stakes
are nominal); he acquired it with the ready aptitude that seems natural
to Americans, and I soon had to drop the odds of the deal. We played
many hundred _parties_ for imaginary eagles; eventually I got a run, and
left off a good winner, which, as my opponent had not money enough to
buy tobacco, was highly satisfactory to every one concerned.

After a week's confinement to my room, I was allowed to take half an
hour's exercise daily in a narrow strip of yard just twenty-one paces
long; it was hedged in with kitchens and all sorts of disagreeable
buildings, but the additional space was not to be despised. On the first
evening after this concession, I was pacing up and down moodily (only
inmates of the same room are allowed to descend together, so that you
gain no social advantage), when just over my head, from a window on the
first story, there broke out a burst of merriment, and a
half-intelligible trill of baby-language; then a little round pink face,
under a cloud of fair hair, peered out at me through the bars. The utter
incongruity of the whole picture struck me so absurdly, that, I believe,
I did indulge in a dreary laugh. Then the child began to talk again; and
clapped its hands exultingly, as its mother caught an orange I threw up
at her, when the sentinel's back was turned. So a sort of acquaintance
began. Every day for a month, I saw that promising two-year-old (to
whose sex I cannot speak with certainty); and I never heard it fretting
or wailing. Whenever it saw me, it used to break out into a real
uproarious laugh, as if our common imprisonment was the very best joke
that had ever been presented to its infantile mind. I am ashamed to
avow, that my own sense of the ridiculous was by no means so keen. The
mother evidently pined far more than the baby; for her face grew, every
day, more white and worn. What was the offense of either against the
Government, I never heard; for no official or soldier will answer any
question, and discourse between the prisoners is strictly forbidden.
They went South, in the great exodus of the 20th of May. I contrived on
that morning, with much cunning, to cast in six or seven oranges at
their window, which, I hope, solaced those two Gentle Traytours through
the burden and heat of the day.

Till I got too sulky and savage to seek unnecessary intercourse with any
one, I found occasional amusement in chaffing the sentinels. The orders
against conversation with these were not rigidly enforced. Finding that
they rose very freely to the bait of a strained ironical politeness, I
used to beg them to tell off by sections, the victims of their red right
hands--chickens and ducks not being counted; also, I was fain to learn,
how many rebel standards and pieces of cannon each man had captured and
retained? If they took no credit for any such feats, I would by no means
believe them, imputing the denial solely to the modesty inseparable from
true courage.

Descending into the yard, one day, I found the sentry--an overgrown lad,
with broad, crimson, beardless cheeks--in a perfect paroxysm of
excitement, using great freedom of gesticulation and blasphemy. I had
had immense success in bewildering this particular warrior a few days
previously: so I went up to him at once:

"My blood-stained veteran," I said, "what has raised your apoplectic
valor?"

I think he was rather ashamed at being caught; but he grumbled out,
sulkily rough, something about--"If they don't keep their ---- heads in,
they'll get more than they ask for." I followed the direction of his
eyes, and there, on the third story, sat two of the quietest-looking
middle-aged women I ever beheld. They were evidently new arrivals, and
had not heard of the injunctions against putting heads out windows: for
they were staring down in blank astonishment, unconscious that the
blatant threats were leveled at them. Now, the ingenious juggler who
packed himself into a bottle, might possibly have succeeded in
infringing the aforesaid rule: no other human being could have got his
cranium through the bars. I suspect, it was simply an outbreak of the
plethoric sentry's irrational ferocity (he had been sweltering under a
burning sun for two hours) on the first helpless object that came across
him; for I could not make out that the women had answered or aggravated
him. I addressed to my friend many compliments on his prowess--trusting
that his soldierly zeal would be appreciated in higher quarters.
Nevertheless, I presumed to suggest that it would have been wiser to
have begun with the baby: if he could frighten that into fits, his rapid
promotion must have been insured. I believed that Brigadier Turchin
would soon want an _aide_, and who knows? &c.

In a few minutes he waxed frightfully wroth; but he had already broken
the non-conversation orders, and I would not allow him to fall back upon
these now. At last he retreated to a part of his beat where I could not
follow him, and there growled and ground his teeth till my time was up.
The corporal who was my immediate guard tried to excuse his comrade,
hinting that "he wasn't quite right in the head." Possibly this may have
been one of his "off-days." The jest of that afternoon was turned into
bloody earnest before three weeks had passed.

Not long after this I had a pleasanter incident to chronicle. As I
entered the yard one day, my guard remarked with a broad grin:
"Somethin' new up there, Colonel."

The indiscriminate appropriation of military titles here, is, of course,
proverbial, though common prudence made me very careful not to claim a
fictitious rank, after leaving Baltimore, where I was well known. I got
a brevet-step with almost every change of place or association;
disclaimers were never listened to.

Through the bars of a second story window that fronted each turn of my
tramp, I saw--this. A slight figure in the freshest summer toilette of
cool pink muslin; close braids of dark hair shading clear pale cheeks;
eyes that were made to sparkle, though the look in them then was very
sad, and the languid bowing down of the small head told of something
worse than weariness.

Truly, a pretty picture, though framed in such rude setting, but almost
as startling, at first, as the apparition of the fair witch in the
forest to Christabelle. Slightly in the background stood a mature
dame--the mother, evidently. No need to ask what their crime had been;
aid and abetment of the South suggested itself before you detected the
ensign of her faith that the demoiselle still wore undauntedly--a pearl
_solitaire_, fashioned as a single star. I may not deny that my gloomy
"constitutional" seemed, thenceforward, a shade or two less dreary; but,
though community of suffering does much abridge ceremony, it was some
days before I interchanged with the fair captives any sign beyond the
mechanical lifting of my cap when I entered and left their presence,
duly acknowledged from above. One evening I chanced to be loitering
almost under their window; a low, significant cough made me look up; I
saw the flash of a gold bracelet and the wave of a white hand, and there
fell at my feet a fragrant pearly rosebud nestling in fresh green
leaves. My thanks were, perforce, confined to a gesture and a dozen
hurried words, but I would the prison beauty could believe that fair
Jane Beaufort's rose was not more prized than hers, though the first was
a love token granted to a king, the last only a graceful gift to an
unlucky stranger. I suppose that most men, whose past is not utterly
barren of romance, are weak enough to keep some withered flowers till
they have lived memory down, and I pretend not to be wiser than my
fellows. Other fragrant messengers followed in their season, but, if
ever I "win hame to mine ain countrie," I make mine avow to enshrine
that first rosebud in my _reliquaire_, with all honor and solemnity,
there to abide till one of us shall be dust.

I heard from Lord Lyons about once a week. Though my letters were always
answered most promptly, the replies never reached me within eight days.
All correspondence, going or coming, passes the inspection of the
Provost Marshal and the Superintendent, and letters are forwarded and
delivered--sooner or later--the whole thing resolving itself into a
question of official memory or convenience. I did not doubt from the
first, that no intercession, that could properly be exercised, would be
spared. If repeated applications and strong representations could have
availed, I should have been free long ago. But many autocrats might take
a lesson from the insolent indifference of this Administration, when an
argument or a request is to be set aside; it is exactly in proportion to
the pliancy they display when confronted with demands enforced by a
substantial threat. Lord Lyons' reputation for courtesy and kindness of
heart stands too high to need any testimony of mine; but I cannot
forbear here expressing my sense of his good offices, and I am not the
less grateful, because these words are written on the fifty-sixth day of
imprisonment.

To one member of the Legation, I am indebted for far more than official
benevolence. On the second day after my committal, Percy Anderson
brought up himself to the Old Capitol, a package containing cigars,
books, newspapers, &c., which, he was told, would be transmitted to me
"right away." I trust that the contents satisfied the critical tastes of
the officer on guard; for from his clutches no fragment emerged. I never
even heard of the kind intention, till weeks had passed; and, of many
papers afterwards forwarded by the same hands, only one packet reached
me.

All this time, my reverend neighbor was pressing on in earnest his
preparations for escape. His room-mate was a young Marylander, who had
served some time on the staff of the Confederate army; he was captured
at his own home, whither he had returned for a hurried visit, and was
now detained as a "spy;" this vague and marvelously elastic charge is
always laid, when it is desirable to exclude a prisoner from the
conditions of exchange. The plan of evasion was very simple. After
passing through the floor into the attic, and thence out through the
dormer-window, they had to crawl over about eighty feet of
shingle-roof--not slippery at all, nor particularly steep--along the
ridge, except where they had to descend a little to circumvent the
chimney-stacks; this brought them to another dormer, giving admission to
a house in the same block of building, but not connected with the
prison. The parson believed this to be uninhabited; and the event proved
either that he was right, or that the inmates were friendly. After
several false starts, they decided on making the attempt on the 1st of
May.

In the twenty-four hours preceding, the reverend's excitable nerves had
been wound up to something above concert pitch. He seemed to hold the
real risk--discovery and the bullet of a sentinel--very cheap; but,
magnifying imaginary difficulties after his own peculiar fashion, he had
come to look upon the roof as a pass of peril, only to be accomplished
by preterhuman agility and steadiness of brain. His fellow-adventurer,
who from first to last bore himself with a gay recklessness good to
behold, laughed all such forebodings utterly to scorn. I tried the
gentler tone of grave argument, demonstrating that a _glissade_ on
shingles in dry weather was next to impossible, and that the ridge, once
gained, was nearly as safe traveling as an ordinary mountain-path. The
parson's armor of meek obstinacy was proof alike to reason and ridicule;
he waxed not wroth, and was thankful for any suggestion; but, when asked
to act accordingly, ever fell back on one plaintive formula--"I am no
gymnast,"--after the fashion of that exasperating child who met all the
Poet's questions and objections with the refrain of

    Master, we are seven.

These visionary terrors would have been of little moment, if they had
not induced his reverence to persist in the use of certain machines,
which were more than likely to bring the whole adventure to grief. These
were a sort of sandals, studded with sharp nails, that could be fitted
either to hands or feet, and no words can describe the proud
satisfaction with which they were regarded by their simple-minded
constructor. Though I saw it was almost useless, I tried hard to
persuade him that, for any sort of climbing (where neither ice nor sharp
edges were to be feared), no engines could be so safe as bare feet and
hands; that it would be much harder to recover himself, if a slip ensued
from any strap giving way; finally, that if the contrivance answered
perfectly in every other way, there was certain risk of what was most to
be avoided--sharp, sudden noises, likely to strike strangely on the
sentinel's ear. My friend heard me out quite patiently, thanked me very
cordially, and then--took his own way.

Everything was ready by midnight; but the start was not made till three,
A. M., at which hour the moon was quite down. We could talk but little,
as it was especially important not to arouse any suspicion among the
sentries; as far as I could make out, the adventurers employed the
interval very wisely, in taking in supplies of both creature and
spiritual comforts, dividing their attention about equally between
supper and devotional exercises. At last the moment came, and they bade
us farewell; the good parson bestowing upon my unworthy self a really
pathetic benediction. If my own "God-speed" was less solemn, I know it
was not less sincere. Then I went to bed, and as another twenty minutes
passed without my hearing a sound, I began to think the fugitives were
well away. I was just dropping off to sleep, when I heard voices in the
yard speaking loud and hastily, though I could not catch the words. Then
there was a scuffle of feet above, and a scrambling fall beyond the
right hand wall. After a few minutes silence, quick steps came along the
passage, and the door of No. 22 was opened. The visitors soon went away;
but we did not know what watch might be set, so essayed no communication
with our unlucky neighbor till the morning was far advanced. The
adventure had miscarried in this wise.

When they mounted into the empty attic they found the window invitingly
open, and, after waiting a few minutes to humor the moon, the soldier
volunteered to reconnoiter. He reached the ridge without the slightest
difficulty, and crawled along till he could see his way clear to the
window they wished to attain. Then he returned undiscovered and reported
progress. Now the first mistake was making a reconnaissance at all:
_vestigia nulla retrorsum_, ought to have been the word that night, if
ever. The second and graver error was, allowing the parson to go first,
when they started in earnest. The light, lithe body of the soldier could
glide over the roof with the silent swiftness of a cat "on the rampage;"
the same animal, shod with walnut-shells, suggests itself as an apt,
though irreverent comparison for the priestly fugitive. To use the
narrator's own words--occasionally more forcible than elegant:

"You might have heard him two blocks off, squattering and spluttering
over the shingles."

Those miserable machines, when put to the proof, made more noise than
even we had imputed to them. The prisoners over whose heads the parson
passed, heard the slipping and scratching quite plainly, though the
attic floor was between them. Nevertheless he had time to reach the
desired window, to let it slip once with a resonant bang, and to slip
inside out of sight, before any alarm was raised. But the drowsy or
careless sentinel awoke to a sense of his position just as the second
fugitive turned the first chimney-stack, and challenged with a threat of
shooting. The Marylander knew that the game was up, as far as he was
concerned; if he went on and escaped the bullet, those below would have
seen at what window he entered, and the start was hopelessly short: to
persist would only have insured two recaptures. He certainly did the
wisest thing in retracing his way as speedily as possible. When the
guards came to No. 22, they found its solitary inmate in bed, sleeping
apparently the heavy, stertorous sleep of a deep drinker: an empty
whisky-bottle gave a color of probability to the picture. They could get
nothing out of him then; and, afterwards, he took the line of having
been insensibly overcome by liquor, and so prevented from accompanying
his fellow-prisoner. The authorities could scarcely have believed the
story; but perhaps they wished to keep the escape as quiet as possible;
at any rate the Marylander was not more strictly guarded or severely
treated than before. He took the mishap with wonderful pluck and
good-humor, and spoke rather humorously than wrathfully of the whole
affair. Yet, as far as he knew, he had come back to indefinite
captivity. When he went South with the rest of them on the 20th of May,
no man of the five hundred better deserved freedom.

Some days afterwards we had news of the divine--safe so far, and many
miles away. Certainly, had he possessed his soul in patience a fortnight
or so longer, he would have been forwarded to his desired destination
securely and at the expense of the enemy. Before he reaches it now, he
will have paid away a sheaf of greenbacks, and run the gauntlet of a
frontier blockade, closing in more tightly every hour. North of the
Potomac there is no rest for the sole of his foot. So, many would say,
that the escapade had far better have been deferred. Eight weeks ago I
should have been of that same opinion, but now I doubt--I--doubt. The
prospect outside ought to be very dark, and rife with peril, to induce a
man to resign himself deliberately to another decameron here.[2]

[Footnote 2: Since writing the above, I have met the parson in England.
I am bound to state that he gives rather a different account of the
escapade, and intimates that the Maryland youth's "tightness" was rather
real than shamed; that it was, in fact, the cause of his being left
behind. It is possible that I may have been too hard on his reverence's
nervousness--scarcely doing justice to his earnestness of purpose; but,
as to the aforesaid infernal machines I decline to retract one word.]

On the 15th of May, my room-fellow was told that he was to be sent South
immediately: he received the news very stolidly, and betrayed no
impatience during the interval that elapsed before the exchange-steamer
could be got ready. Truth to say, it is rather an equivocal
advantage--to be turned loose in a city where famine-prices prevail,
utterly penniless. But, if my mate did not exult in his prospects,
neither did he in any way despond. He "supposed he'd get along somehow;"
indeed, he had plenty of a very useful capital--solid, persevering
self-reliance.

There was great bustle in the yard on the morning of the 20th; all the
men who had got the order of release were mustered there before ten
o'clock. After many delays, each person passed out singly, as his name
was called, and it was high noon when the last prize was drawn; leaving
nothing but dreary--very dreary--blanks for us whose tickets were still
in the wheel. There was no uproarious merriment, or even exuberant
cheerfulness in the crowd below; the satisfaction was of the saturnine
sort, such as people feel who have waited long for their just dues, and
have extraordinarily little to be thankful for. Once more, in dumb show,
I pledged mine honest host of the White Grounds, while he responded in a
stealthy _duc-an-dhurras_; then, having furnished my mate with such
provant as was available, I wished him, too, sincerely good-speed.

I cannot say that I was sorry, at first, to find myself quite alone. I
am ashamed to confess that I had been daily growing more sullen and
unsocial; upon reflection, I think I had decidedly begun to tyrannize
over my companion; some of his harmless peculiarities, which I hardly
noticed at first, would, at times, irritate me savagely; besides every
cubic inch of vacant space has its value in a low-browed room twelve
feet by eight, when the thermometer means mounting in earnest. But, as
the dreary time dragged on, and as the leaden listlessness settled down
heavier hour by hour, I began to look back regretfully, if not
remorsefully. There were moments, not few or far between, when I would
have given much to hear the wire-drawn monotone that lately had been an
offense to me; ay, even though each slow sentence should be punctuated
by expectoration.

Among those who were exempted from the gaol delivery was an Englishman,
John Hardcastle by name, who had been arrested about a month later than
myself, on the Lower Potomac, on his way homeward through the Northern
States. He had, I believe, been employed by the Confederate Government
in carrying out some inventions and improvements in armory. There was
nothing remarkable about the little, round, ruddy man, except a
joviality which never seemed to droop in the heavy prison air; when I
wrote that an honest laugh was never heard here, I ought to have made
that one exception; he had a fair voice, too, and a large collection of
songs, which he chanted out merrily, instead of merging all tunes into
one dolorous drone. He was confined at first on the floor immediately
under me, but, on the 20th. of May, changed his quarters into one of the
large rooms in the main building, with windows opening back and front
into the yard and the avenue; these latter were without bars. All
through the evening of Sunday, the 24th, I listened, rather enviously,
to Hardcastle's noisy mirth; his voice never ceased to rattle--now
bantering a fellow-prisoner with good-natured aggravation--now shouting
out a verse of some popular song--now declaiming a sentence or so of
exaggerated mock-oratory--yet he did not give me the idea of being
uproarious with drink (I heard afterwards he was perfectly sober),
rather, he seemed possessed by an exhilaration involuntary and
irrational, like a person who has inhaled laughing-gas. It was not till
next day that the Highland word "Fey" came into my mind. I am scarcely
inclined now, wholly to deride that old superstition. Is it possible
that the foreshadow of doom does, in some mysterious way, affect certain
nervous systems, when the soul, within a few hours, must pass out free
through the rugged doors of violent death?

About eleven o'clock on the following morning I heard a rifle-shot, but
took, little heed of it, as I knew that accidental discharges from
careless handling of firelocks were not uncommon. Shortly afterwards,
the officer of the keys asked me to visit the Superintendent in his
room. It was natural that such a summons should conjure up certain faint
hopes of approaching liberation; or, at least, of the "hearing" so long
deferred. All such visions vanished instantly at the first sight of the
official's face, as he met me in the door-way; no good tidings for
anyone were written there; I knew that some grave disaster had occurred,
before my eye lighted on the table, strewn with papers, letters, and
bank-notes--all dabbled with the dull, red blots that marked the hand of
Cain.

In a very few words--spoken in a low hoarse voice, strangely changed
from its wonted boisterous loudness--the Superintendent told me why I
was wanted there. A British subject had just been shot by a sentinel for
transgressing the window-order mentioned above; as eight hundred dollars
in Confederate notes, besides other valuables, were found on his person,
it was thought well that I should assist at the inventory and attest its
correctness. It seemed that some hasty words of the Superintendent,
reflecting on the remissness of the soldiers on duty, had been the
proximate cause of the slaughter, I do believe that the death-warrant
was unwittingly spoken. The man's bearing and demeanor are rough, even
to coarseness, and his sensibilities probably blunted from having
perpetually to listen to complaints and tales of wrong-doing, which he
must perforce ignore; but I do not think his nature is harsh or cruel;
the bark of Cerberus is much worse than the bite; and he is quite
capable of benevolent actions, done in an uncouth way. The lips of the
corpse, up-stairs were scarcely whiter than those that kept working and
muttering nervously close by my shoulder, as I sat at my ghastly task. I
was right glad when all was ended, and I had escaped from the small,
close room, where the air seemed heavy with the savor of blood. All that
day, there lay upon the prison-house a weight and a gloom, that came not
from the murky, windless sky; the few faces that showed themselves in
the yard looked more dark and sullen than ever; and men, gathering in
knots instead of pacing to and fro, murmured or whispered eagerly. My
unlucky head chanced to be more troublesome than usual; altogether, I
cannot look back upon a more depressing evening.

About noon on the following day, a tawdry coffin of polished elm, beaded
and plated wherever there was room for a scrap of silvered metal, was
laid on chairs in the prison yard; and, soon, all those who had access
to that part of the building gathered round it--listening, uncovered, to
the scanty rites, which the Old Capitol concedes to prisoners released
by that Power, in presence of whose claims the _habeas corpus_ is never
suspended. A tall, lank-haired man, looking more like an undertaker than
a divine of any denomination, read straight through, without a syllable
of preface, the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the
Corinthians, and then, kneeling down, began a rambling, extemporaneous
prayer, the main object of which seemed to be, to address the Deity by
as many periphrastic adjurations as possible. The orator besought "that
these melancholy circumstances might be blessed to us, the survivors;"
and rehearsed several platitudes on the uncertainty of life; but, from
first to last, there was not one single word of intercession or
commendation on behalf of the dead man's soul. I was glad when it was
over; our own simple service, read by the merest layman, would surely
have been a more fitting obsequy.

What followed was startling enough from its very suddenness. One of the
assistants stepped forward, and, with a quick, careless motion, threw
back two folding shutters, that formed the upper part of the coffin lid;
the blaze of the vertical sun, on which no living thing could have
looked unblinded, fell full on the heavy eyelids, that never shrunk or
shivered, and on the bare, upturned features, blanched to the unnatural
whiteness only found in corpses from which the life-blood has been
drained away. Since then, I have tried to recall the face as I saw it
often--round and ruddy, beaming with reckless joviality, and grotesque
humor: it will only rise as I saw it once--white, and solemn, and still.
When the crowd had satisfied their curiosity, the coffin was borne away,
and everything fell back into the old groove of monotony.

It will hardly be believed, that, though the victim had communicated
more than once with the British Legation (an envelope franked by Lord
Lyons was among the papers I examined), the Federal authorities did not
deem it necessary to give any official notice of the slaughter. Percy
Anderson was absolutely ignorant of what had happened, when he came to
me on the following day. The fact, too, is significant, that the
Washington journals, for whose net no incident is generally too small,
made no allusion to the tragedy, till the Thursday morning; I presume
silence was considered useless, when a member of our Legation must have
been made acquainted with the details.

The regrets of those who may have been interested in poor John
Hardcastle's life and death, will scarcely be lessened by the knowledge,
that he was not even in fault when he suffered. There were eight or ten
prisoners confined in the same room; and it was one of his companions
who had previously been twice warned back by the sentinel: he himself
was shot almost instantaneously after his head was thrust forth, without
a second challenge. The Washington papers stated that, when ordered to
draw back, he refused with an oath. With such chroniclers, one would not
bandy contradictions; I give this version of the facts, as I received it
from the lips of the Superintendent.

Late in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 27th, I was again summoned
below. I found Percy Anderson waiting there: he had obtained from the
War Office an order to see me alone, without limitation of time. I
understood that there was no precedent for such a concession; the
general rule being that prisoners should only receive their friends in
the presence of an officer, who is bound to watch and listen jealously,
while no interview can be extended beyond fifteen minutes. Never,
surely, was a call better timed. I was at my very worst, just then;
besides a couple of potatoes and a crust of dry bread, no solid food had
passed my lips for seventy hours. Of my personal appearance, from my own
knowledge, I can say nothing, (for my mate and I had agreed in
considering mirrors superfluous luxuries); but, from the startling
effect produced upon my visitor, I fancy that the dreary week of weeks
had made wild work with the outward as well as inward man. I know that
the kind diplomatist was more than pained at finding himself unable to
give me any foothold of certain or substantial hope; it was impossible
to hazard a reliable guess as to the termination of my confinement.
Hitherto, the unceasing efforts of the Legation had spent themselves on
the passive obstinacy of the Federal Government like bullets on a cotton
bale; of a truth it was long before those unjust judges grew aweary.
Nevertheless, the mere sight and sound of a frank English face and voice
were more effectual restoratives than all the cunning tonics and
incentives with which the prison surgeon had been striving to quicken an
imperceptible pulse, and to revive a deceased appetite. I have always
thought since, that the rest at that one conversational oasis, just
enabled me to hold on to the hither verge of Sahara.

The next eight days seem nearly blank to me now. I was past reading
anything, for I could scarcely make out the capitals with which the
journalists headed their daily bits of romance from Vicksburg and
elsewhere. It was with great difficulty that I scrawled detached
sentences at long intervals--a difficulty that, I fear, some unhappy
compositor, doomed to decipher the foregoing pages, will thoroughly
appreciate, though he may decline to sympathize with.

I had one passage of arms with the Superintendent during that week. I
have an idea that I spoke somewhat freely with regard to the
Administration that he had the honor to serve, pressing him for a
justification of its conduct in my own especial case.

The official listened quite coolly and calmly, with a twinkle of
amusement in his shrewd cynical eyes, and answered:

"Well, we've had a good bit of trouble with England and English this
year; and I reckon they think they've got a pretty fair-sized fish now,
and mean to keep him, whether or no."

"That's Republican justice, all over," I said; "to make the one that you
can catch, pay for the dozen that you can't, or that you are afraid to
grapple with."

"I don't know about justice," was the reply; "but it's d----d good
policy."

And so we parted--not a whit worse friends than before.

    Delicta, majorum, immeritus lues,

if memory had not failed me, I might have quoted that line often and
appropriately enough. But every agent in the "robbery"--from the
vainglorious Virginian, my chief captor, down to the smooth Secretary,
whose velvet gripe was so loth to unclose--seemed provokingly bent on
exaggerating the importance of their prize. Perhaps the very interest
felt in my release, and the exertions unsparingly used--especially in
Baltimore--to secure it, strengthened the false impressions or pretenses
of the Federal powers. I write in the firm assurance that no Southern
friend will deem these words ungracious or ungrateful.

There is no stone, above or below ground, white enough to mark,
worthily, in my calender, the fifth day of last June. I hereby abjure,
for evermore, any superstitious prejudice against the ill luck of
Fridays. Late in the afternoon, I was pacing to and fro in the narrow
exercise-ground, speculating idly as to the delay of my dinner, which
was overdue--not that I felt any interest in the subject, but it was a
sort of break, and fresh starting-point in the monotony of hours--when I
was summoned once more into official presence. They took me to the room
on the ground-floor, where I had waited on the first day of my
imprisonment while the cell above was preparing. I found there the
lieutenant commanding the guard, and two or three more officers, one of
whom, I understood, was a deputy of the Judge-Advocate. They read out a
paper, of which the following is an exact copy, and asked if I had any
objection to sign it:

     DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, COUNTY OF WASHINGTON.

     _Old Capital Prison, Washington, D. C._

     I, ----, of ----, in England, do solemnly swear on my Parole of
     Honor, that I will leave the United States of America, with as
     little delay us possible, and that I will not return there during
     the existing rebellion.

     So help me God.
     Signed, ----.

     Sworn to and subscribed before me,
     this fifth day of June, A. D. 1863.
     JOHN A. LOVELL,
     Lieut. Comdg. Guard.

Now, had I been offered a free passage South, I doubt if I should have
accepted it, then; the aspect of things within the last two mouths had
changed for me entirely. I could not hope to carry out one of my
original plans; for all available resources were nearly exhausted, and
procuring fresh supplies from home would have involved infinite
difficulty and delay. Besides, a refusal gave at once to the Federal
authorities the pretext for detention that they had sought so eagerly,
and, so far, failed to find. I know no earthly consideration, excepting
clear obligations of duty or honor, that would have persuaded me to
incur ten more prison days. If, instead of being a free agent, I had
been bound by an oath to penetrate into Secessia at all hazards, I
should have held myself at that moment amply assoilzed of my vow. So,
with the remark--"that, of all the places on this earth, the Northern
States of America was the country I most wished to leave, and least
cared to revisit"--I signed the parole, and confirmed it with an oath.

Then, it appeared that my debt to the Union was paid, so that it had no
further lien on my effects or me. The saddle-bags were soon packed; in
another half-hour, I stood outside the prison-door--realizing, with a
dull, dazed feeling of strangeness and novelty, that there was not the
shadow of bolt, bar, or wall between me and the clear sultry skies.



CHAPTER XI.

HOMEWARD BOUND.


Now that this personal narrative is drawing rapidly to its close, there
is one point to which I must needs allude, at the risk of sinning
egotistically. While under lock and key, I never ventured to grapple
with the subject. Even now--sitting in a pleasant room, with windows
opening down on a trim lawn studded with flower-jewels and girdled with
the mottled belts of velvet-green that are the glory of Devonion
shrub-land, beyond which Tobray shimmers broad and blue under the breezy
summer weather--I shrink from it with a strange reluctance that I
cannot, shake off, though it shames me.

I speak of the effect--moral, intellectual, and physical--produced by
those eight weeks of imprisonment.

I do not wish to intimate that there were any actual hardships beyond
the prevention of free air and exercise to be endured. More than this: I
am ready and willing to allow, that certain privileges were conceded to
me that I had no right to claim, which were granted to few, if any, of
my fellows in misfortune. The Corporal of the Keys was a clerk in the
house of Ticknor & Field, the great Boston publishers, before he became
a soldier; and was disposed to show every consideration and indulgence
to one whom he was pleased to consider a brother of the Literate Guild.
The under-superintendent--Donnelly by name--treated one with a
benevolence quite paternal. The monotony of my solitary confinement was
often broken by his rambling chat and reminiscences of a gambler's life
in the Far West; for he liked nothing better than lingering in my cell
for an hour or so, when his day's work was done. After the prison doors
were opened, I lingered for ten minutes within them, to exchange a
farewell hand-grip with that quaint, kind old man. There was a stringent
curfew-order, enjoining the extinguishment of all lights at nine, P. M.;
but on condition of vailing my window with a horse-rug, so as not to
establish a bad precedent, I was allowed to keep mine burning at
discretion. Now some readers of these pages may think that a
confinement, such as I have described, wherein, there was to be obtained
a sufficiency of meat, drink, tobacco, and light literature, is not,
after all, a _peine forte et dure_; and that it is both weak and
unreasonable thereanent to make one's moan. So, in bygone days, when a
lazy fit was strong upon me, have I thought myself. I am not malicious
enough to wish that the most contemptuously skeptical of such critics
may be undeceived, at the price which I paid for the learning. It is
possible that a person of settled sedentary habits, endowed not only
with powerful resources within himself, but also with the ornament of a
meek and quiet spirit, might hold out well enough for awhile, more
especially if supported by the reflection that he was suffering for his
country's good or for his own private advantage. But take the converse
example of a man unsupported by any consolations of patriotism or
peculation, of a temperament somewhat impatient, and prone to anger,
accustomed, too, from youth upwards, to constant habits of strong
out-door exercise, with such an one I fancy it will fare--very much as
it fared with me. It is an established fact, that a few months'
confinement within four walls, without stint of food or aggravation of
punishment, will bring an athletic Red Indian to the extreme of bodily
prostration, if not to mortal sickness.

It is humiliating to confess, but I fear unhappily true, that in despite
of all advantages of a civilized education, some of us, under like
circumstances, will go down as helplessly as the noble savage.

Would you like to hear of the process? It is not pleasant to look upon,
or to tell.

The first few days are spent in an uneasy, irritable expectation that
every hour will bring some news--good or bad--from the world without,
bearing on your own especial case; then comes the frame of mind wherein
you allow that there must be certain official delays, and begin to
calculate, wearily, how far the wire-drawn formalities will be
protracted, making a liberal margin for unexpected contingencies: this
phase soon passes away: then comes the bitter, up-hill fight of hoping
against hope; how long this may endure depends much on temperament--more
on bodily health; but in most cases it is soon over, and is succeeded by
the last state, ten thousand times worse than the first: slowly, but
very surely, the dense black cloud of utter listlessness settles down,
never broken thereafter save by brief flashes of a futile, irrational
ferocity. All your ideas move round like tired mill-horses, in the
narrowest circle, with an unhappy Ipse Ego for its centre: all the
passing events of the outward world seem unnaturally dwarfed and
distant, as if seen through an inverted telescope: the struggles of
stranger nations move you no more than the battles on an ant-hill; the
only question of civil or religious liberty in which you feel the
faintest interest is the unimportant one involving your own personal
freedom. And throughout you are shamefully conscious that this
indifference is not philosophical, but simply selfish.

So much for the _morale_. Does the _physique_ fare better.

When you enter the gaol, there is probably laid up in your lungs a
certain store of fresh, free air, which takes some time to exhaust
itself; but soon you begin to draw your breath more and more slowly, and
to feel that the atmosphere inhaled no longer refreshes you; no
wonder--it is laden with compressed animal life. Then a dull, hot weight
closes round your brows, as if a heavy, fever-stricken hand was always
clasping them; there it lies--at night, when the drowsiness which is
_not_ sleep overcomes you--in the morning, when you wake, with damp
linen and dank hair: plunge your forehead in ice-cold water; before the
drops have dried there it is burning--burning again. The distaste for
all food grows upon you, till it becomes a loathing not to be driven
away by bitters or quinine: there is no savor in the smoke of
Kinnekinnick, nor any flavor in the still waters of Monongahela.
Physical prostration of necessity speedily ensues. Let me mention one
fact--not in vaunting, but in proof that I do not speak idly. When we
were trying those athletics at Greenland, the day after my capture, I
could rend a broad linen band fastened tightly round my upper arm by
bending the _biceps_: when I had been a month in Carroll place I had to
halt, at least once, from absolute breathlessness and debility, on the
stairs leading from the yard to the third story; my pulse was almost
imperceptible. By this time my sight had become so seriously affected
that I was absolutely unable to read the clearest print; even now, a
month after my enfranchisement, though keen Atlantic breezes and home
comforts have worked wonders, I cannot write five consecutive sentences
without a respite.

I am forced to quote my own experience; but I know that it could be
matched, if not exceeded, by very many cases of equal or worse
suffering.

Long confinement falls, of course, intensely harder on a stranger than
on a native. The latter, I suppose, can never quite divest himself of an
interest in passing events, which the former, at the best of times, can
but faintly share: besides which, most Americans--not purely political
prisoners--have either a definite term of captivity to look forward to,
or are, in one way or other, subject to the chances of exchange.

If the Federal Government had avowed at once, that it was their
sovereign pleasure to keep an Englishman in durance for a _certain_
period, without attempting to excuse the arbitrary stretch of authority,
one would have chafed, I suppose, under the injustice, but still
submitted, as it is the duty of manhood to submit to any inevitable
necessity. It was the doubt and indefiniteness of the whole affair that
made it so inexpressibly exasperating. It was bad enough to have no
palpable adversary to grapple with: it was worse to have no specific
charge. As I had contravened a general order by crossing the Federal
lines without a pass, the Legation did not apply for my unconditional
release: it merely pressed for the inquiry and trial that, in most
civilized countries, a criminal can claim as a right. I was never
confronted with any judicial authority from the moment that I entered
the prison doors till they opened to let me go free: I never received
any official intimation of the reasons for my prolonged detention; and
Lord Lyons' repeated applications were at last only met by a vague
assertion that they "had reason to believe that an aide-de-camp's
commission, signed by General Lee, had reached me at Baltimore." There
was not, of course, the faintest scintilla of evidence to establish
anything of the sort. While in America I received no communication
whatever--written or verbal--from any person connected with the
Confederate Government or army.

I do honestly affirm that, in dilating on the several hardships of my
own especial case, I have no idea of enlisting any sympathy, public or
private. I simply wish to show what arbitrary oppression can be
exercised upon British subjects with perfect impunity by a Government
which will maintain quasi-friendly relations with our own just so long
as it conforms the standing-ground of a tottering Cabinet. Perhaps, some
day or other, as a last peace-offering to the Republican hydra, MM.
Seward and Stanton will burn a bishop, and so bring our pacific Foreign
Office to bay.

Physical causes prevented my feeling very exhilarated or exultant during
my earliest hours of freedom. It was pleasant though to meet an English
face at the hotel where I meant to sleep. I had not seen Mr. Austin
since we were contemporaries at Oxford; but on the 2d June I had
received from him a very kind and courteous note, offering a visit, if
it should be acceptable. I need scarcely say how welcome it would have
been; but he did not get my written reply till the following Monday--not
bad time, either, for the Old Capitol post-office. I dined with Mr.
Austin, and at the same table sat General Martindale, military commander
at Washington, and Senator Sumner. The former certainly recognized my
identity; but he was not the less amicable for that. It was odd to find
myself receiving suggestions as to my route, in case I visited Niagara,
from the same man who three days before had granted a pass to my friend
for his proposed prison visit. I sat some time after dinner in talk with
Mr. Sumner. His face is much aged and careworn since I first saw it,
some years ago, in England: but his manner retains the polished
geniality which made him so great a favorite in most European _salons_.

The rest of the evening I spent at Percy Anderson's. I much regretted
that I could not see Lord Lyons, to express my sense of his unwearied
exertions in my behalf; but he was dining out; and it was judged better
that I should not risk an apparent infringement of my parole by
lingering in Washington an unnecessary hour the next morning, so I was
forced to trust my thanks to writing.

I can never forget, while I live, the welcomes which waited me in
Baltimore; welcomes much too cordial to be wasted on a discomfited
adventurer. Still I was glad to find that those whose opinion was well
worth having gave one credit for having deserved success. I was very,
very loth to leave my kind friends, though we may perchance forgather
again should I outlive my parole, and be enabled to carry out certain
half-formed plans of hunting in the Far West. It was only the sternest
sense of duty that impelled me to sacrifice to Niagara sixty hours that
intervened before June the 13th, when the Inman steamer started, in
which I had secured a berth by telegraph.

Twenty-two hours of unbroken rail-travel--partly through the beautiful
Susquehannah Valley; partly through the best cultivated lands (about
Troy and Elmira) that I saw in the States, whose trim, loose stone walls
reminded one of part of the Heythrop and Cotswold countries--brought us
to Buffalo. The Company had here so contrived matters that it was
absolutely impossible for the traveler to proceed farther that night, or
to get at any luggage beyond what he carries in his hand: from Elmira it
travels by a route of its own, to which your through-ticket does not
apply: the baggage-agent hands it over to you at Niagara the next
morning, with a cheerfully placid face, as if rather proud of the
satisfactory correctness of the whole arrangement.

I will not add a stone to the descriptive cairn heaped up by generations
of tourists in honor of the King-Cataract; simply because it is
presumption in any man to pass judgment on that famous scene till he has
studied it for more days than I could spare hours. I do not think, the
eye is disappointed, even at first sight: after being fully prepared by
Church's vivid picture--a very triumph of transparent coloring--you
still stand dumb in honest admiration of that one miracle in the midst
of wonders--the central curve of the Horse-shoe--where the main current
plunges over the verge, without a ripple to break the grandeur of the
clear, smooth chrysoprase, flashing back the sunlight through a filmy
lace-work of foam. But the ear is certainly dissatisfied: perhaps my
acoustics were out of order, as well as other cephalic organs; but it
struck me that Niagara hardly _made any noise at all_. Yet I penetrated
under the Fall as far as there is practicable foothold; and listened at
all sorts of distances for a _deafening_ roar, which never came.

I started eastward again by that same night's express. I cannot let
this, my last experience, pass, without recording my vote on the
much-mooted question of American railway travel. The natives, of course,
extol the whole system as one of the greatest of their institutions; but
I cannot understand any difference of opinion among strangers. The
baggage arrangement--except when the Company suffers under an aberration
of intellect, such as I have mentioned on the Niagara route--is really
convenient, and the _commissionaires_ attached to every train relieve
you of all responsibility at your journey's end, by collecting your
effects and transporting them to any given direction; but this solitary
advantage does not counterbalance other _désagrémens_. When the weather
is such as to allow a true current of air to circulate through the car,
the atmosphere is barely endurable; but with stoves at work, and all
apertures closed, it soon becomes dangerously oppressive. The German
element prevails strongly throughout Yankee-land: perhaps this accounts
for the natives' dread of fresh air. Your only chance of escaping from
semi-suffocation is to secure a seat next to a window, and keep it open,
hardening your heart against all the grumbling of your neighbors, who
run through a whole gamut of complaints, in the hope of softening or
shaming the Hyperborean. Sometimes you will have to encounter menaces;
but, in such a cause, it is surely worth while to do battle to the
death; revolver and bowie-knife lose their terrors in the presence of
imminent asphyxia. The advocates of the system chiefly insist on the
sleeping-cars, and the advantage of passing from one end of the train to
the other at your pleasure. On the first of these points, let me say,
that few aliens, after one trusting experiment of those stifling berths,
will be inclined to repeat it: the atmosphere of a crowded steamboat
cabin is pure and fresh by comparison. As for the vaunted promenade--the
man who would avail himself thereof, would, probably waltz with grace
and comfort to himself on the deck of the Lively Sally in a sea-way: it
requires some practice even to stand upright without holding on; the
jolting and oscillation are such that I think you take rather more
involuntary exercise than on the back of a cantering cover-hack. The
pace is not such as to make much amends: from twenty to twenty-five
miles an hour is the outside speed even of expresses: and on many lines
you ought to calculate the probabilities of arrival by anything rather
than the time-tables. Collisions, however, are certainly rare; the most
common accident is when the train breaks through one of the crazy wooden
bridges, or, obeying the direction of some playfully eccentric
pointsman, plunges headlong over an embankment into some peaceful valley
below. The steam-signals are very peculiar; the engine never whistles,
but indulges in a prolonged bellow, very like the hideous sounds emitted
by that hideous semi-brute, yclept the Gong-Donkey, who used to haunt
our race-courses some years ago--making weak-minded men start, and
strong-minded women scream with his unearthly roaring. When I first
heard the hoarse warning-note boom through the night, a shudder of
reminiscence came over me, for I used to shrink from that awful creature
with a repugnance such as I never felt for any other living thing.

All the weariness of the long night-journey will not prevent a traveler
from appreciating the superb Hudson, along whose banks the last part of
the road, from Albany, is carried. You are seldom out of sight of the
Caatskill range--blue in the distance or dark in the foreground--but the
crowning glory of the river are the old cliffs, where the rock soars up
sheer from the water's edge, with no more vegetation on its face than
will grow in the crevices of ancient walls.

I had scarcely twenty-four hours left for the Imperial City before the
Edinburgh sailed. This time I abode at the New York Hotel, where a
Baltimorean had already secured quarters. This much, at least, must be
conceded to the Yankee capital. In no other town that I know of can a
traveler so thoroughly take his ease in his inn. These magnificent
_caravanserais_ cast far into the shade the best managed establishments
of London, Paris, or Vienna, simply because luxuries enough to satiate
any moderate desires, are furnished at fixed prices that need not alarm
the most economical traveler. The _cuisine_ at the New York Hotel is
really artistic, and the attendance quite perfect. Also is found there a
certain Château Margaux of '48: after savoring that rich liquid velvet,
you wilt not wonder that the house has long been a favorite with the
Southern Sybarites. Things are changed, of course, now, and many of Mr.
Cranston's old patrons must now exercise their critical tastes on
mountain whisky and ration beef; but the tone of feeling in the
establishment remains the same. An out-spoken Republican or Abolitionist
would not meet a cordial welcome from the present frequenters of the New
York, nor, I think, from its jovial host. Likewise the Empress City can
boast that her barbers and iced drinks do actually "beat all creation."
After a long journey you are thoroughly disposed to appreciate these
scientific tonsors, whose delicacy of manipulation is unequaled in
Europe. Only the pen of that eloquent writer, who told the "Times" how
he "thirsted in the desert," could do justice to the high-art triumphs
of the cunning barkeeper.

"Joe"--of the mirthful eye, and agile hand, and ready repartee--long may
you flourish, mitigating the fierce summer thirst of many a parched
palate; stimulating withered appetites till they hunger anew for the
flesh-pots; warming the heart-cockles of departing voyagers till they
laugh the keen breezes of the bay to scorn. With me, at least, gratitude
for repeated refreshment shall long keep your memory green--green as the
mint-sprays that, when your last "julep" is mingled, should surely be
strewn, unsparingly, on your grave.

I never felt quite clear of Federaldom till I set my foot firm on the
deck of the good ship Edinburgh. I did not indulge in a soliloquy even
then; so I certainly shall not inflict on _you_ any rhapsodies about
freedom; but, in good truth, the sensation was too agreeable to be
easily forgotten.

The homeward voyage was as great a "success," as unbroken fine weather,
favorable winds, and company both pleasant and fair, could make it. On
the thirteenth day, towards evening, I found myself in the familiar
Adelphi, at Liverpool, savoring some "clear" turtle, not with a less
relish because, in the accurately pale face of the waiter who brought in
the lordly dish, there was not the faintest yellow tinge nor a ripple of
"wool" in his hair.

All of my personal narrative that could possibly interest the most
indulgent public is told now; if the few words I have left to say should
bore you--O patient reader!--they will at least be free of egotism.



CHAPTER XII.

A POPULAR ARMAMENT.


It was ordained that the navy should reap all the boys and the men that
were to be gathered in the warfare of this spring. The amphibious
failures in the southwest involved no graver consequences than a vast
futile expenditure of Northern time, money, and men; such waste has been
too common, of late, to excite much popular disgust or surprise. In
other parts, the keenest correspondent has been put to great straits for
memorable matter; for a skirmish, or a raid, even on a large scale, can
hardly carry much beyond a local interest.

On the last day of April, the summer land-campaign began in earnest,
when its truculent commander led the "finest army on the planet" across
the Rappahanock, unopposed.

If all other warlike music was prudently silent then, be sure, the
General's own private trumpet flourished very sonorously; indeed, for
many days past it had not ceased to ring. Few armaments have set forth
under more pompous auspices. First came the great review, graced by the
presence of the White House Court, who witnessed the marching past of
the biennial veterans with perfect patience, if not satisfaction. The
"specials" of the Republican papers outdid themselves on that occasion;
magnificently ignoring his temporary dignity, they hesitated not to
compare each member of the President's family with a corresponding
European royalty, giving, of course, the preference to the
home-manufactured article: it was good to read their raptures over the
gallant bearing of Master Lincoln, as if "the young Iulus" (as they
_would_ call him) had shown himself worthy of high hereditary honors.
One writer, I think, did allow, that the balance of grace might incline
rather to Eugénie the Empress, than to the President's stout,
good-tempered spouse; but he was much more cynical or conscientious than
most of his fellows.

Thenceforward one became aweary of the sight, sound, and name of
"Hooker." The right man was in the right place at last: had his counsels
been followed in the Peninsula, when the caution or incapacity of
McClellan threw the grand opportunity away, the Federal flag would have
floated over Richmond last summer. Was there not the hero's own
testimony to that effect, rendered before the War Committee, months ago,
wherein, with a chivalrous generosity, he ceased not to exalt himself on
the ruined reputation of his late commander? Even as Ajax prayed for
light, the people cried aloud for one week of fair weather: no more was
wanted to crush and utterly confound the hopes of Rebels, Copperheads,
and perfidious Albion. Every illustrated journal was crowded with
portraits, of Fighting Joe and his famous white charger; it was said,
that horse and rider could never show themselves without eliciting a
burst of cheering, such as rang out near the Lake Regillus, when
Herminus and Black Auster broke into the wavering battle. No wonder. Had
he not thoroughly reorganized the army demoralized by Burnside's defeat,
till there was but one word in every soldier's mouth, and that
word--"Forward!"

There was joy, as for a victory, when it was known that the Falmouth
camp was broken up, and that the eager battalions had left the
Rappahannock fairly behind them: as to success, only fools or traitors
could question it. Even the Democratic journals were carried away by the
tide, and hardly ventured to hesitate their doubts. The hero's own
proclamation, issued on the south bank of the river, was surely enough
to reassure the most timid unbeliever.

How vaunt and prophecy were fulfilled, all the world knows now. A more
miserable waste of apparently ample means and material has seldom been
recorded in the annals of modern war. General Hooker stands forth the
worthy rival of that mighty monarch, who,

            "With fifty thousand men,
    Marched up the hill and then--marched down again."

But of the two, the exploit of the American strategist is much the most
brilliant and memorable; his preparations and blunders were conducted on
a vaster scale, and, Varus-like, scorning the triviality of a bloodless
disgrace, he left sixteen thousand dead, wounded, and missing behind in
his retreat.

The defeated General may well pray to be saved from his friends: the
strongest ground of condemnation might be drawn from the excuses of some
of these injudicious partisans. Not more than a third of the Federal
forces was, they say, at any one time engaged: yet Hooker's last words
to his troops, before going into action, boasted that the enemy must,
perforce, fight him on his own ground. The Federal commander recognized,
perhaps not less than his opponent, the importance of the simple old
tactic--bringing a superior force to bear on detached or weak points of
the adverse line--which has entered, under one form or another, into
most great military combinations since war became a science; but he
appears to have been utterly incapable of reducing theory to practice.
For the twentieth time in this war, a Northern general was
outmanoeuvred and beaten, simply because his adversary--understanding
how to husband an inferior strength--seized the right moment for
bringing it into play.

I do not mean to assert that the Confederates invariably advance in
column, or to advocate this especial mode of attack: a successful
outflanking of the enemy may turn out an advantage not less decided than
the breaking of his centre; but, when half-disciplined troops are to be
handled, concentrative movements must surely be safer than extensive
ones. It would be well to remember that, among all the trained
battalions of Europe, our own crack regiments are supposed to be the
only ones that can be thoroughly relied on for attacking in line.

If Hooker thought himself strong enough to cross the rear of Lee's army,
and cut him off from Richmond, while a combined movement against the
city was being executed by Dix and Keyes from the southeast, the delay
of forty hours, during which he advanced about six miles, can scarcely
be excused, or even accounted for. That the wary foe should be taken
entirely by surprise, was a contingency too improbable to be calculated
on by any sane tactician, however sanguine.

To dispense almost entirely with the aid of the cavalry arm, on the eve
of a general engagement, was certainly a bold stroke of strategy--too
bold to be justified by any independent successes likely to be achieved
by the detachment. Stoneman's exploits appear to have been greatly
exaggerated; but, whatever were the results, they might clearly have
been attained if he had crossed the Rappahannock alone with one
horseman, leaving the main guard to attend more dress-parades in the
Falmouth camp. To pretend that weather in anywise influenced Hooker's
retreat is utterly absurd. No change for the worse took place till the
Tuesday evening, when the army had fallen back on the river bank; the
troops were actually recrossing when the rain began: then it did come
down in earnest.

    Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mare--

a spectacle frequently repeated in this war--that of a Federal General
"changing his base" in hot haste, without flourish of trumpet.

At the most critical moment, Fighting Joe seems to have been afflicted
with the fatal indecision, by no means incompatible with perfect
physical fearlessness, which has ruined wiser plans than ever were
moulded in his brain. Rumor hints broadly at a sudden fit of depression,
not unnatural in one notoriously addicted to the use of stimulants; but
this is, probably, the ill-natured invention of an enemy.

At all such seasons, some subordinate must needs lift some of the
dishonor from the shoulders of the chief. The non-arrival of
reinforcements is much the easiest way of accounting for a foiled
combination. The rout of Howard's corps was not to be considered, as it
happened under the General's own eye: so Sedgwick was, by some, made the
Grouchy of the day: but he seems to have fought his division as well as
any of his fellows, and it was probably a superior force that checked
his advance towards the main army, and eventually hurled him back upon
the Rappahannock.

Perhaps the Confederate organs do not greatly exaggerate, when they
claim Chancellorville as _the_ victory of this war: though there is a
fearful counterpoise in the loss of the South's favorite leader. But the
great Army of the Potomac, in its shameful retreat, could not console
itself by the boast of having done to death the terrible enemy, at whose
name they had learnt to tremble. A miserable mistake (so the Richmond
papers say) slew Stonewall Jackson, in the crisis of victory, with a
Confederate bullet, as he was reconnoitering with his staff in front of
his line.

Surely it is glory, sufficient for any one of woman born, that the news
of his death should have sent a start and a shiver through thirty
millions of hearts. I subjoin a funeral notice, which utters very simply
and strongly the feeling of the country that the stern, pure soldier
served so well: but a strange honor and respect attaches to his memory
amongst those whom in life he never ceased to disquiet. Even the rabid
Republican journalists rejoice--not coarsely or ungenerously--speaking
with bated tones, as is fit and natural in presence of a good man's
corpse.

Let us return to our poor Hooker, who is sitting now, somewhat gloomily,
in the shade. Human nature can spare so little sympathy for braggarts in
disaster, that we may possibly have been too hard on his demerits. In
this respect the Grim old Fighting Cox (as the historian of the Mackerel
Brigade calls him) is absolutely incorrigible. Conceive a General--on
the very morning after the reverse was consummated--proclaiming to his
soldiers "that they had added to the laurels already won by the Army of
the Potomac!" If a succession of defeats are equal to one victory--on
the principle of two negatives making an affirmative--or if nothing
added to a cipher brings out a substantial product, there may possibly
be something in these words beyond the desperation of bombast,
otherwise----

But, in justice to Joseph, let us ask--Are the materials at his command,
or at that of any Federal commander, really so powerful or manageable as
they seem?

Probably no one civilized nation is composed of elements so difficult to
mould into the form of a thoroughly organized army, as the Northern
States of the Union. The men individually, especially those drawn from
the West, are fully endowed with the courage, activity, and endurance
inherent in the Anglo-Saxon race: they can act promptly and daringly
enough on their own independent resources; but, when required to move as
unreasoning units of a mass, directed by a superior will, they utterly
fail. All the antecedents of the Federal recruit interfere with his
progress towards the mechanical perfection of the trained soldier. The
gait and demeanor of the country lads are not more shambling and
slovenly than those of the ordinary British; but the latter from his
youth up, has imbibed certain ideas of subordination to superiors, which
make him yield more pliantly and implicitly to after discipline. Now,
the American is taught to contemn all such old-world ideas as respect of
persons. Even the All-mighty Dollar cannot command deference, though it
may enforce obedience. The volunteer carries with him into the ranks, an
ostentatious spirit of self-assertion and independence. He has always
mixed on terms of as much equality as his purse would allow of, with the
class from which his officers have emerged by election; and knows that,
at the expiration of their service, each will resume his place as if no
such distinction had existed. So he goes into action fully prepared to
criticise the orders of his superiors, and even to ignore them if they
clash too strongly with his private judgment; he has no intention of
abating one iota of his franchise, or one privilege of an enlightened
citizen. In the regular army, ceremonial is rather better observed; but,
even here, you will observe the barriers of grade frequently
transgressed, both in manner and tone: the volunteers will rarely salute
even a field-officer, unless on parade, or by special orders.

This spirit of independent judgment is by no means confined to the rank
and file. The evidence before the War Committee shows how seldom a
General-in-Chief can depend on the hearty co-operation of his Division
leaders, and how unreservedly dissent was often expressed by those whose
lips discipline ought to have sealed.

The fact is, that a spirit of party impregnates all the military
organization of the North: a Federal army is a vast political machine.
State Governors have followed the example of the Administration in their
selection of the higher officers: these, as a rule, owe their election
entirely to their own influence, or that of their friends; all other
qualifications are disregarded. It is idle to expect that such men can
command the confidence of the soldiers by virtue of their rank; they
have to win this by individual prowess.[3] The Confederates have been
more just and wise. Some of these political appointments were made at
the beginning of the war, but changes were made as soon as incapacity
was manifest, and almost all posts of importance are now occupied by
officers educated at West Point, or at one of many military schools long
established at the South.

[Footnote 3: It is well to remember, that, before the Committee for
inquiring into the conduct of the war, Generals McDowell and Rosecrans,
in the most explicit terms, attributed many disasters to the fact, of
the soldiers having no confidence in the officers who led them.]

An army of free-thinkers is very hard to handle either in camp or field.
They do not grumble, perhaps, so much as the British "full private;"
indeed they have little cause, for the commissariat arrangements, even
in remote departments, are admirable, and the Union grudges no comfort,
or even luxury, to her armies. But they become "demoralized" (the word
is a cant one now) surprisingly fast, and recover from such, depression
very, very slowly. When the moment for action arrives, such men get
fresh heart in the first excitement, but they lack stability, and if any
sudden check ensues, involving change of ground to the rear, a few
minutes are enough to turn a retreat into a rout. You may send forth
your volunteer, with all the pomp and circumstance of war, and greet his
return with all enthusiasm of welcome; you may make him the hero of
paragraph and tale (I believe it is treasonable to choose any other
_jeune premier_ for a love story just now); you may put a flag into his
hand, more riddled and shot-torn than any of our old Peninsular
standards; you may salute him "veteran," a month after the first baptism
of fire; but the savor of the conscript and the citizen will cling to
him still.

What would you have? The _esprit de corps_, which has more or less been
kept alive in civilized armies since the days of the Tenth Legion, is,
perforce, wanting here. All military organization is posterior to the
War of Independence. It is certainly not their fault if even the regular
battalions can inscribe on their colors no nobler name than that of some
desultory Mexican or Border battle. If Australia should become an
empire, she must carry the same blank ensigns without shame. But when a
regiment has no traditionary honors to guard, it lacks a powerful
deterrent from self-disgrace.

It is easy to deride martinets and pipe-clay: all the drill in
Christendom will not make a good soldier out of a weakling or a coward;
but, unless you can turn men into machines, so far as to make them act
independently of individual thought or volition, you can never depend on
a body of non-fatalists for advancing steadily, irrespective of what may
be in their front; nor for keeping their ranks unbroken under a hail of
fire, or on a sinking, ship. As skirmishers, the Federal soldiers act
admirably; and in several instances have carried fortified positions
with much dash and daring; it is in line of battle, on a stricken field,
that they are--to say the least--uncertain. In spite of the
highly-colored pictures of charges, &c., I do not believe that, from the
very beginning of this war, any one battalion has actually _crossed_
bayonets with another, though they may often have come within ten yards
of collision. This fact (which I have taken some trouble to verify) is
surely sufficiently significant.

The parallels of our own Parliamentary army, and of the French levies
after the first Revolution, suggest themselves naturally here; but they
will not quite hold good. The stern fanatics who followed Cromwell went
to their work--whether of fighting or prayer--with all their heart, and
soul, and strength, conning the manual not less studiously than the
psalter, while their General would devote himself for days together to
the minutest duties of a drill-sergeant. With all this, and with his
"trust in Providence," it was long before the wary Oliver would bring
his Ironsides fairly face to face,

    With the bravos of Alsatia and the pages of Whitehall.

It is true that the Revolutionary army of '93 was utterly different from
those, wherein the Maison du Roi took the right of the line. It was
hastily raised, and loosely constructed, out of rude material perilous
to handle. But--putting aside that military aptitude inherent in every
Frenchman--in all ranks there was a leaven of veterans strong enough to
keep the turbulent conscripts in order, though the aristocratic element
of authority was wanting. Traditions of subordination and discipline
survived in an army, not the less thoroughly French, because it was
rabidly Republican. The recruits liked to feel themselves soldiers; they
were willing to give up for awhile the pageantry of war, but not its
decorum; and, in that implicit obedience to their officers, there
mingled a sturdy plebeian pride; they would not allow that it was harder
to follow the wave of Colonel Bonhommne's sabre, than that of Marshal de
Montmorenci's baton; or that the word of command rang out more
efficiently from the patrician's dainty lips, than from under the rough
moustaches of the proletarian.

The regular army here does little to help the volunteer service, beyond
giving subalterns as field-officers (a lieutenant would rarely be
satisfied with a troop or a company); the rank is, of course, temporary,
though sometimes substantiated by brevet. It is possible, that a few
non-commissioned officers may be found, who have served in a similar or
subordinate capacity in the regular army during the Mexican war; but
such exceptions are too rare to affect the civism of the entire force.

True it is, that the Federal levies have to face enemies not a whit
superior in discipline. Indeed, Harry Wynd's motto, "I fight for mine
own hand," is especially favored in the South. But when one side is
battling for independence, the other for subjugation, there must ever be
an essential difference in the spirit animating their armies. The
impetuosity of the Confederate onset is acknowledged even here: on
several occasions it has been marked by a wild energy and recklessness
of life, worthy to be compared with the Highland charge, which swept
away dragoon and musketeer at Killiecrankie and Prestonpans.

I am not disposed to question the hardihood or endurance of the Yankee
militant; nor even to deny that a sense of patriotism may have much to
do with his dogged determination to persevere, now, even to the end: but
as for enthusiasm--you must look for it in the romances of war that
crowd the magazines, or in the letters of vividly imaginative
correspondents, or--anywhere but among the Federal rank and file. Such a
feeling is utterly foreign to the national character; nor have I seen a
trace of it in any one of the many soldiers with whom I have spoken of
the war. All the high-flown sentiment of the Times or Tribune will not
prevent the Yankee private from looking at his duty in a hard,
practical, business-like way; he is disposed to give his country its
money's worth, and does so, as a rule, very fairly; but military ardor
in the States is not exactly a consuming fire at this moment. The
hundred-dollar bounty has failed for some time to fill up the gaps made
by death or desertion: and the strong remedy of the Conscription Act
will not be employed a day too soon. Perhaps those who augur favorably
for Northern success expect that coerced levies will fight more fiercely
and endure more cheerfully than the mustered-out volunteers. _Qui vivra
verra._

It is simple justice, to allow that the native soldiers have borne
themselves, as a rule, better than the aliens. The Irish
Brigade--reduced to a skeleton, now, by the casualties of two years--has
performed good service under Meagher, who himself has done much to
redeem the ridicule incurred in early days; but the Germans have not
been distinguished either for discipline, or daring. The Eleventh
Division, whose shameful rout at Chancellorville is still in every one's
mouth, was almost exclusively a "Dutch" corps.

But other difficulties beset a Federal General, besides the
intractability of his armed material, and the jealousies of immediate
subordinates. The uncertainty of his position is in itself a snare. When
the chief is first appointed, no panegyric seems adequate to his past
merit, and the glories are limitless that he is certain to win. If he
should inaugurate his command with the shadow of a success, the
Government organs chant themselves hoarse in praise and prophecy. But
the popular hero knows right well, that the ground is already mined
under his feet; the first reverse will drag him down into a pit of
obscurity, if not of odium, deep and dark as Abiram's grave. Of all
taskmasters, a Democracy is the most pitilessly irrational; it were
better for an unfaithful or unlucky servant to fall into Pharaoh's
hands, than to lie at the mercy of a free and enlightened, people.
Demagogues, and the crowds they sway, are just as impatient and
impulsive now, as when the mob of the Agora cheered the bellowing of
Cleon; neither is their wrath less clamorous because it has ceased to
lap blood. A Federal chief must be very sanguine or very short sighted,
who, beyond the glare and glitter of his new headquarters, does not mark
the loom of Cynoscephalæ. Conceive the worry, of feeling yourself
perpetually on your promotion--of knowing, that by delay you risk the
imputation of cowardice or incapacity, while on the first decisive
action must be periled the supremacy, that all men are so loth to
surrender. The unhappy commander, if a literate, might often think of
Porsena's front rank at the Bridge, when

    Those in the rear cried, "Forward,"
    Those in the van cried, "Back."

To few minds is allotted such a temperate and steady strength as would
enable a man, thus tried and tempted, to weigh all chances calmly;
determined to strike, only when the time should come; disregarding the
extravagant expectations alike of friend or foe; shrinking no more from
the responsibilities of unavoidable failure, than from any other
personal dangers. If such a chief could once fairly grasp the staff of
command, a virtual dictatorship might work great things for the North.
But whence is he likely to emerge? Hardly from the midst of this vast
political and military turmoil, where every man is struggling and
straining to clutch at the veriest shred of power.

Hooker has fared better than his fellows in misfortune. The Washington
Cabinet, usually ready enough to make sacrifices to popular indignation,
still stand by their discomfited favorite with creditable firmness. Even
before the army crossed the river, there appeared significant articles
in the Government organs, begging the public to be patient and moderate
in anticipation. The press-prophets, who indulged in the most
magnificent sketches of what _ought_ to be done, were those, with whose
patriotic regrets over defeat, would mingle some exultation over a
disgraced political opponent. So people in general seem content to give
the Fighting One another chance.

This unusual clemency may be easily accounted for. It would be almost
impossible to pitch on any one with the slightest pretensions to fill
the vacated path. If you except Rosecrans, and perhaps Franklin, there
is hardly a Division leader who has not, at one time or another,
betrayed incapacity enough to disqualify him from holding any important
command. West Point may send forth as good theoretical soldiers as
Sandhurst, or St. Cyr, while the practical experience of American
Generals might equal that of our own officers before the Crimean war;
but the best from West Point have gone southward long ago, and by the
retirement of McClellan the North lost, probably, her one promising
strategist. Cool and provident in the formation of his plans, though
somewhat unready in their execution, and scarcely equal to sudden
emergencies, if he achieved no brilliant success, he was likely to steer
clear of grave disaster. The dearth of tacticians is made very manifest,
by the list of candidates suggested in the event of Hooker's removal
from command.

There are horses, invariably beaten in public, which never appear
without being heavily backed; and there are men, who contrive to retain
a certain number of partisans, zealous enough to ignore all patent
demerits, and to give their favorite credit for any amount of possible
unproved capacity. Yet one would have thought the Republicans might have
hesitated in bringing forward Fremont, who has already been removed for
blunders hardly to be excused by ignorance; and though the name of
Sickles is, unhappily, well known in Europe, it is somewhat startling to
find him, so early in the day, aspirant to the highest military honors.
His advocate admits that the latter hero's professional opportunities
have been scanty, but, says he, placidly, "Neither was Cæsar bred a
soldier." If the sentence was written in sobriety, no praise can be too
high for the audacity of that superb comparison. Another patriot was
exceedingly anxious that General Halleck should be incontinently removed
from the War Office, to make room for--Butler. We accept these things
calmly now; for repeated proof has taught us, that world-wide infamy
bars no man's road to profit and honor, when Black Republicans weigh the
merits of the claimant. The Abolitionist organs of that same week
contained glowing accounts of McNeil's exploits in Missouri, and
announced with much satisfaction an accession to Negley's Brigade in the
shape of Colonel Turchin. I quote the words: "He was received with great
delight, and will, no doubt, do good service, if allowed. It will be
remembered that he was court-martialed some time since, for punishing
guerrillas."

Atrocities have been so rife here of late, that even wholesale murder
and ravishment have a chance of being lost in the crowd: in any other
civilized land than this, that reminder might well have been spared.

Surely the Confederates in the Southwest have two prizes now before
them, well worth the winning; but in the front of battle Tarquin is
seldom found, and in the rout they must ride far and fast who would
reach his shoulders with the steel. The real perils of these men will
begin when the war is done; the hot Southern vendetta will cool
strangely, if all the three shall die in their beds.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE DEBATABLE GROUND.


There is one very vexed question, the importance of which, both in the
present and for the future, can hardly be over-estimated. It does not
depend on the vicissitudes, the duration, or even the termination of the
war: rather it will become more gravely complicated as prospects of
peace dawn clearer.

In which direction do the sympathies and interests of the _Border_
States actually tend? Let it be understood that the point to be decided
is--not whether the Democrats in those parts are politically stronger
than their Republican opponents; but whether the popular feeling
identifies itself with North or South; whether an uncoerced vote of the
majority would be in favor of or hostile to the Union; finally, on which
side of the frontier-line, in case of separation, the State would fain
abide.

It seems to me that only personal knowledge and experience can enable an
alien to form any accurate opinion on these points; even where the press
is not forced to grumble out discontent with bated breath, under terror
of martial law, party spirit runs so high as to render statements,
written or spoken, barely reliable; sound, deeply as you will, into
these turbid wells, it is a rare chance if you touch truth, after all.
So, of Tennessee, Missouri, or Kentucky, I will not say a word, but for
the same reasons I _may_ venture to hazard more than a guess at the
sympathies of Maryland.

Notwithstanding her superficial extent is comparatively small, there can
be no question which of the Border States enters most importantly into
the calculations of both the belligerent powers; the weight of interests
and wealth of resources that Maryland carries with her--to say nothing
of her local advantages--are such that she cannot eventually be allowed
to adhere to either side with a lukewarm or divided fidelity.

The position I am about to advance will meet with a certain amount of
dissent, if not of incredulity, and some one will probably point at
recent events as furnishing an unanswerable contradiction to much that I
affirm. I will only pray my readers to believe that I have tried hard to
cast prejudice aside in listening, in marking, and in recording; my
opportunities of forming a deliberate judgment on the sympathies of all
classes in this especial State were such as have fallen to the lot of
very few strangers; and my observations _ought_, certainly, to have been
the more accurate, from their field having been necessarily narrowed.
Perhaps I can hardly do better than reprint here the larger portion of a
letter, written in the middle of last March, to the "Morning Post;"
nothing that has occurred since induces me materially to modify any one
of the opinions expressed therein. Though, in common with many others, I
may have regretted the disappointment of our anticipations with regard
to a general rising, in co-operation with the Southern invaders; I think
it is easy to show that there were reasons sufficient to account for, if
not excuse, this second apparent supineness.

"I believe that at home people have a very faint--perhaps a very
false--idea of how men think, and act, and suffer, in this same Border
State. Your impression may be that a lethargy prevails, where, in
reality, dangerous fever is the disease--a fever that must one day break
out violently, in spite of the quack medicines administered by an
incapable Government--in spite of the restrictions unsparingly employed,
by that grim sick-nurse, martial law.

"I fancy the world is hardly aware of the hearty sympathy with the
South--the intense antipathy to the North--which animates at this moment
the vast majority of Marylanders. I have heard more than one assert that
of the two alternatives, he would infinitely prefer becoming again a
colonial subject of England to remaining a member of the Federal Union.
This sounds like an exaggeration; I believe it to have been simply the
truth, strongly stated. I believe that the partisan spirit is as rife
and as bitter in many parts of this State, as it can be in South
Carolina or Georgia.

"A remarkable instance of this popular feeling occurred last week, at a
large sale in Howard county. The late proprietor, an Irishman by
descent, belonging to one of the old Roman Catholic families that have
been territorial magnates here for generations, had a great fancy for
dividing his land into small holdings, rented by men of proportionately
small means, so as to establish a sort of English tenant-system,
involving, of course, much free labor. It would have been hard to select
a spot in that country where the abolition feeling would be more likely
to prevail. On the present occasion about six hundred farmers and others
were assembled. They were Southerners to a man; at least, no one hinted
at dissent when Jefferson Davis's health and more violent Southern
toasts were drunk amidst a storm of cheers.

"Twice has Maryland been taunted with her inaction, if not charged with
deliberate treachery; first when, at the outbreak of the war, she did
not openly secede; again, when she did not second by a general rising
Lee's invasion of her boundary. It would be well to remember that for
Maryland to declare herself, before Virginia had actually done so, would
have been the insanity of rashness. She could hardly be expected to defy
the vengeance of the North, while cut off by a neutral State from
Southern aid, especially since Governor Hicks' measures of disarmament,
by which not only the militia but private individuals were deprived of
their firelocks. Virginia has fought so gallantly since then, that it is
easy to forget her tardiness in drawing the sword; but it would be vain
to deny that on the southern bank of the Potomac there does exist a
certain jealousy, arising probably from conflicting commercial
interests, which has led to suspicion and misconception already, and may
lead to more harm yet. General Lee issued his proclamation inviting
Maryland to rise only one day before he commenced his retreat--short
notice, surely, for a revolution involving not only the temporary ruin
of many interests, but the certainty of collision with a Federal army of
one hundred and twenty thousand men then within the border of the State.
Had Maryland joined the Confederacy a year ago, I believe her entire
territory would be desolate now, as are most great battlefields. With
the immense means of naval transport at the Federals' command, it would
be easy for them to land any number of troops in almost any part of the
western division, for the whole country is intersected by the creeks of
the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers. One glance at the map will
show this more plainly than verbal description, and make it needless to
remark on the still more exposed and isolated position of the Eastern
Shore.

"In spite of all this, men say that if the opportunity were once more
given, the blade would be drawn in earnest, and the scabbard thrown
away. It may well be so; there has been oppression and provocation
enough of late to make the scale turn once and forever.

"Meantime, Maryland has not confined herself to a suppressed sympathy
with the South. We may guess, perhaps, but no one will ever know, the
extent of the covert assistance already rendered by this State to the
Confederacy. I am not referring to the constant reinforcements of her
best and bravest--over twelve thousand, it is said--that have never
ceased to feed the ranks of the Southern armies.

"One significant fact is worth mentioning, drawn from the reports of
Federal officers--viz., out of nine thousand Marylanders drafted into
the service, there are scarcely one hundred now remaining in the ranks;
they deserted, literally, by bands.

"I speak of supplies of all sorts, especially medicines, furnished
perpetually; of valuable information forwarded as to the enemy's
movements and intentions; of Confederate prisoners tended with every
care, and supplied with every comfort that womanly tenderness could
devise; of a hundred other marks of substantial friendship that could
not only be rendered by a nominal neutral, but a real ally. It would be
hard, indeed, if any miserable jealousies were to prevent all this from
being appreciated and rewarded some day.

"The Federal Government, at least, does ample justice to the
proclivities of Maryland. The system of coercion, hourly more and more
stringent, speaks for itself. The State is at this moment subjected to a
military despotism more irritating and oppressive than was ever
exercised by Austria in her Italian dependencies; more irritating,
because domestic interference and all sorts of petty annoyances are more
frequent here; more oppressive, because it is considered unnecessary to
indulge a political prisoner with even the mockery of a trial. Nothing
is too small for the gripe of the Provost Marshal's myrmidons. There was
a general order last week for the seizure of all Southern songs and
photographs of Confederate celebrities. One convivial cheer for
Jefferson Davis brought the 'strayed reveler' the following morning into
the awful presence of Colonel Fish, there to be favored with one of his
characteristic diatribes. The duties of that truculent potentate are
doubtless both difficult and disagreeable, yet one would think, it
possible for an officer to act; energetically without ignoring the
common courtesies of life, and to maintain rigid discipline without
constantly emulating the army that swore terribly in Flanders. The oath
of allegiance--that is the touchstone whose mark gives everything its
marketable value. The Union flag must wave over every spot--chapel,
mart, institute, or ball-room--where two or three may meet together; and
beyond the shadow of the enforced ensign there is little safety or
comfort for man, woman, or child--for women least of all.

"During the past week two ladies of this city have been arraigned on the
charge of aiding and abetting deserters from the Federal army. In the
first case, the offense was having given a very trifling alms, after
much solicitation and many refusals, to a man who represented himself
and his family as literally starving. The fugitive made his way to
Canada, and thence wrote two begging letters, threatening, if money were
not sent, to denounce his benefactress. Eventually he did so. This lady
is to be separated from her husband and family, with whom she is now
residing, and sent across the lines in a few days. In the second case I
am justified in mentioning names, as from the peculiar circumstances it
will probably become more public. Mrs. Grace is the widow of a Havana
merchant, and a naturalized subject of Spain, to whose Minister she has
since appealed. She was summoned before the Provost Marshal on the same
charge, but was too ill to attend in person. Her daughter went to the
office, and found that the evidence against her mother was an
intercepted letter from some person (whose name was equally unknown to
Mrs. Grace as to the officials), telling his wife 'to go to that lady,
who would take care of her.' Miss Grace represented the extreme hardship
of the case; they had no friends or connections in the South, and her
mother's health was far from strong. Finally, she gave her own positive
assurance that there was not the faintest foundation for the charge.
Colonel Fish did not scruple to reply 'that he considered an anonymous
document evidence' strong enough to bear down a lady's proffered word of
honor. If, after this provocation, the spirit of the fair pleader was
roused, and she spoke somewhat unadvisedly with her lips, few will be
disposed to impute to her anything more than imprudence. The Provost
Marshal closed the discussion very promptly and decidedly--'Your mother
will go South within the fortnight; and you, for your insolence, will
accompany her.' When women and weaklings are before them, the
_argumentum bacculinum_ seems favored by the Republican chivalry.

"The country is not much better off than the city. The same system of
espionage and coercion prevails there; especially since that fatal
proclamation has sown distrust between master and slave, it is hard to
say how many spies there may be in any man's household. Large landed
proprietors, who have shown no sign of Southern proclivity, beyond
abstaining from taking the oath, cannot obtain the commonest
necessaries, such as groceries, &c., without resorting to shifts and
stratagems that would be absurd, if they were not so painful. Such
trammels are far more galling to the purely agricultural class than they
are to the inhabitants of a city like this, where commerce has
introduced a large mixed element, embracing not only Northerners, but
almost every European race.

"But, in spite of all privations and annoyances, there is in the
Marylander just now an honest earnestness of purpose, a readiness for
self-sacrifice, a patient hardihood, a brave, hopeful spirit, quick to
chafe but slow to complain, that might make Anglo-Saxons feel proud of
their common blood. There is plenty of the stuff left out of which
Buchanan, Semmes, Maffit (of the Florida), Hollins, and Kelso are
made--Marylanders all--who are doing their _devoir_ gallantly on the
decks of Southern war-ships. I cannot believe that the day is far
distant when both moral and physical energy will have free and fair
play.

"The ties of mutual interest that bind this State to the Confederacy are
too obvious to need much explanation, but it may be well to touch upon
them briefly. Her extensive water-power marks out Maryland as eminently
adapted for the produce of all kinds of manufactures. That very
accessibility from seaward, which is her weak point in war time, is her
strength in time of peace. The Chesapeake and its tributaries are
natural high roads for the transport of freight to the ports of
Virginia, and thence into the interior. Before these troubles, the trade
of Maryland was almost exclusively with the South; and, unless violently
diverted, it must always remain so. The South is now straining every
nerve to establish a formidable steam-navy. It is not too much to say
that the adhesion of Maryland is absolutely indispensable if this object
is to be attained. She can not only offer superb harbors, in which the
South is palpably deficient, but her natural productions--ship timber,
iron ore (the largest and toughest plates in the United States are
hammered here), and bituminous coal, the best for steam purposes south
of Nova Scotia--would be invaluable."

With this State the South would retain all the material advantages that
the restoration of the Union could offer; without her, neither would the
territorial line be complete, nor the internal resources adequate to the
requirements of a powerful nation. President Davis has repeatedly
promised that the free vote of Maryland as to her future shall be one of
the prime conditions of any treaty whatsoever, and the Southern Congress
have confirmed this by a nearly unanimous vote. On this point there
surely ought to be no doubt or wavering. A single concession to the
arbitrary tendencies of Lincoln's Cabinet, so as to allow interference
with the free expression of Maryland's will when the crisis shall
arrive, would not only, I believe, crush the hopes of the vast majority
of this State's inhabitants, but also betray the vital interest of the
Southern Confederacy in days to come.

If further proof were needed of the Southern sympathy prevalent in
Baltimore, such would be found in the measures of coercion and
prevention employed by General Schenck, when Lee's army was thought
dangerously near. A private letter dispatched to me in the height of the
panic, more than confirmed the accounts in public prints of the
stringency of the martial law. The Federal officers were, perhaps, not
sorry to have such a chance of repaying, with aggravated oppression, the
tacit contumely which must have galled them for a year and more. The
Maryland Club, whose members are Southerners to a man (for the Unionist
element was eliminated long ago), is now the headquarters of a New
England regiment, and even Colonel Fish may now wander at will through
the cool, pleasant chambers that, before comparative liberty was
stifled, he would have found not more accessible than the lost paradise
of Sultan Zim. I greatly fear that some of those daring dames and
damsels, so careless in dissembling their antipathies, may, ere this,
have been made to pay a heavy price for the indulgence of past disdain.
The position of a Federal officer, in Baltimore, was certainly far from
enviable; many men would have preferred the lash of a cutting whip, or
even a slight flesh-wound, to the sidelong glances that, when a
dark-blue uniform passed by, interpreted so eloquently the fair
Secessionists' repugnance and scorn. Neither were words always wanting
to convey a covert insult. I heard rather an amusing instance of this
while I was in prison.

It was at the time when Brigadier-Generals were being created by scores
(I myself counted over sixty names sent down by the President to
Congress in one batch), when, according to some Washington Pasquin, a
stone, thrown at a night-prowling dog in Pennsylvania avenue, struck
three of these fresh-fledged eagles: a Baltimorian _lionne_ entered one
of the street railway cars, in which two or three Federal officers were
already seated. An infantry soldier got in immediately afterwards, and,
in taking his place, set his boot accidentally on the silken verge of a
far-flowing robe. The lady gazed on the unconscious offender for a
minute or so, and spake no word; then, looking beyond him as though he
had never been, she addressed the conductor with the pretty
plaintiveness affected by those languid Southern beauties:

"Sir, won't you ask that Brigadier-General to take his foot off the
skirt of my dress?"

Which position was the most enviable at that moment--the "full
private's" or that of his silent superiors?

It was curious to remark how thoroughly the majority of clergymen, of
all denominations, but especially Roman Catholic priests, identified
themselves with the Southern sympathies of their flock. Arrests of these
reverend men were very common; but they held their way undauntedly, and
"kept silence even from good words" only under the pressure of actual
coercion. Another anecdote is worth relating.

One day there came forth an edict, peremptory as that which bade all
nations and languages bow down to a golden image, enjoining that, on a
certain day, Sabbath-prayers for the President should be offered up in
every church, chapel, and meetinghouse in Baltimore. There was an
ancient Episcopalian divine, who during nearly half a century had won
for himself much affection and respect by a zealous and kindly discharge
of his duties. A notorious Secessionist, he was wise and prudent withal,
so that many were curious to hear how he would execute or evade the
obnoxious order. He complied with it--in this wise:

"My brethren," said he, "we are commanded this day to intercede with the
Almighty for the President. Let us pray. May the Lord have mercy on
Abraham Lincoln's soul."

Did ever priest pronounce a blessing more grimly like a ban?

Perhaps it was well that Lee did not advance near enough to Baltimore to
bring things to a climax there, unless he could have succeeded in
capturing the place by a _coup de main_, and have held it permanently.
Independently of Schenck's avowed intention of shelling the town, on the
first symptoms of disaffection, from the forts of Constitution and
McHenry, there might have been wild work there in more ways than one. If
the Secessionists had once fairly risen against their oppressors and not
prevailed, it is difficult to say where the measures of savage
retaliation would have ended. I do not like to think of the possible
brutality that might have lighted on many hospitable households in
blood-shedding or rapine.

So much for the city. I have mentioned above some of the reasons that
make an up-rising throughout the State so exceedingly difficult and
dangerous to organize. That no active aid was rendered to Lee's army
upon the last occasion of its crossing the frontier, is, I think, easily
explained, when the peculiar circumstances of time and place are
considered.

Southern proclivity is by no means so general in the northwestern
counties of Maryland as in the eastern region, or on the seaboard. The
farmers in the former parts suffer greatly from the ceaseless incursions
over the border. When cattle are to be driven away, it is feared that
even regular "raiders" and guerrillas are not over-careful to ascertain
the sympathies of the owner. The horse-thieves, of course, are
absolutely indifferent whether they plunder friend or foe. Now, though
the Marylander is far from being imbued with the exclusively commercial
spirit of the Yankee, it is not unnatural that he should chafe under
these repeated assaults on his purse, if not on his person. All such
considerations vanish in the fierce energy of the thorough partisan,
who, without grudging or remorse, casts the axe-head after the helve;
but I speak, now, of men whose sympathies at the commencement of the war
were almost neutral, and who began to suffer in the way above described
before the bias of feeling had time to determine itself. It was surely
natural that the first angry impulses should turn the wavering scale;
more especially when the irritation was constantly being renewed.

Beyond these northwestern counties, in neither inroad, did the
Confederate army advance. I was not much surprised at reading in the
able letter of the Times correspondent, how the Southerners were
disappointed by meeting all along their brief line of march gloomy faces
and sullen dislike, instead of a hearty welcome; for I knew that in the
neighborhood of Hagerstown, Boonesborough, and all round South Mountain,
the majority of the inhabitants were--to use my Irishman's
expression--as "black as thunder."

One glance at the field of the recent operations will show, that the
isolated Secessionists in the southeastern counties could do little more
than pray for the success of the Confederate arms: even detached bodies
of such sympathizers could not have joined Lee, without running the
gauntlet of the Federal forces lying right across the path.

It should not be forgotten, that the stakes of the invader and of the
insurgent differ widely The former, if worsted, can fall back on his own
ground, with no other damage than the actual loss sustained. The latter,
if foiled, must calculate on absolute ruin--if not on worse miseries.
Even if he should himself escape scathless beyond the frontier, he must
leave homestead and family behind--to be dealt with as chattels and
kindred of traitors fare.

Thus, though I am disposed to think more despondingly than before of
Maryland's chances of aiding herself, for the present, with the armed
hand, my conviction remains unchanged as to the proclivities of the
majority of her population, both civic and agricultural. I do honestly
believe that, in despite of the tempting geographical water-line, the
natural place of the State is in the Southern Confederacy. And I do also
believe, that the denial of a free vote as to her future, and a coerced
adhesion to the Northern Union, would involve, not only the ruin of many
important interests, political and commercial, but an exodus of more
influential residents, than has occurred in any civilized land, since
the Revolutionary storm drove thousands of patrician emigrants over
every frontier of France.



CHAPTER XIV.

SLAVERY AND THE WAR.


Everyone in anywise interested, practically or theoretically, in the
Great War, is just now prophesying of the future, simply because it
looks vaguer and dimmer than ever. So I will hazard my guess at truth
before all is done.

I am no more capable of giving a valid opinion as to the chances or
resources of the South than if I had never left these English shores.
Proximity that is not positive presence, rather embarrasses one's
judgment, for the nearer you approach the frontier-line, the more you
become bewildered in the maze of exaggerated reports, direct
contradictions, and conflicting statistics. Judging from individual
cases, and from the spirit animating the "sympathizers" on the hither
side of the border, I feel sure that the bitter determination of the
South to hold out to the last man and the last ounce of corn-bread, has
not been in the least overstated; but as to the aspect of chances, or as
to the actual loss or gain achieved by either side up to this moment, I
am no more qualified to speak, than any careful student of the
war-chronicles. It is from consideration of the present and probable
strength or weakness of Federaldom, that I should draw the grounds of
any opinion that I might hazard.

I think _both_ are generally under-estimated. In spite of the resistance
offered in many places to the Conscription Act, it is likely that for
some time to come the North will always be able to bring into the field
armies numerically far superior to those of her adversary; nor do I
believe that she will have exclusively to depend on raw or enforced
levies. Many of the three-year men and others, whose term of volunteer
service has just expired, after a brief rest and experience of home
monotony, will begin to long for excitement again, though accompanied by
peril and hardship. To such the extravagant bounty will be a great
temptation, and the Government may not be far wrong in calculating on
the re-enlistment of a large percentage of the "veterans." Besides, it
should always be remembered that if it comes to wearing one another out
in the drain of life, the preponderance of twenty millions against four
must tell fearfully, even though the willingness to serve on the one
side should equal the reluctance on the other. Neither do I think that
national bankruptcy is so imminent over the Northern States, as some
would have it. Mr. Chase is, of course, a perilously reckless financier;
but, on more than one occasion, audacity has served him well, when
prudent sagacity could have been of little aid: the "Five-and-Twenty"
Loan was certainly eminently successful, and the tough, broad back of
Yankee-land will bear more burdens yet before it breaks or bends. I am
speaking now solely of the resources which can be made available for
_carrying on_ the war: these, I think, will be found sufficient for its
probable duration. With the commercial future or national credit of the
Northern States this question has nothing to do; it is not difficult to
foresee how both must inevitably be compromised by the load of debt
which swells portentously with every hour of warfaring. But if we have
been wont to undervalue the strength of Federaldom, latent and
displayed, we have perhaps scarcely realized how very unsubstantial and
slippery are its presumed points of vantage.

First, take the North great battle or, rather,
stalking-horse--Abolition.

Let no reader be here unnecessarily alarmed. On that terrible slave
question, over which wiser brains have puzzled, till they became lost in
a labyrinth of self-contradiction, I purpose to speak only a few cursory
words. It is beyond dispute that a vast extent of the richest land in
the South can only be kept in cultivation by the Africans, who can
thrive and fatten where the white man withers helplessly. No one that
has realized the present state of our own West Indian colonies, will
believe that the enfranchised negro can be depended upon as a daily
laborer for hire. The listless indolence inherent in all tropical races
_will_ assert itself, as soon as free agency begins or is restored. With
a bright sun overhead, and a sufficiency of sustenance for the day
before him, money will not tempt Sambo to toil among cotton or canes,
should the spirit move him to lie under his own vine or fig-tree; and he
is unfortunately peculiarly liable to these lazy fits just when his
services are most vitally important to the interests of his employer.
From so much ground having been thrown out of cultivation in the West
Indies, the supply of free negro labor is perhaps now nearly equal to
the ordinary demand; but we all know how, in the early times of
emancipation, the fortunes of our planters fared. There has been, in all
ages, certain cases of apparent political necessity, hardly to be
justified--sometimes hardly to be defended--on purely moral grounds.
Whether the existence and maintenance of a slave population in the South
be one of these huge dilemmas or paradoxes is a question that any
English or Northern abolitionist is about as capable of determining, as
he would be of legislating for Mangolian Tartary.

The two blackest points in all the dark system--for dark it is, looking
at it how you will--are first, the complication of sin and shame arising
from the mixture of the races; and, secondly, the separation of husband
and wife from each other, and from their infant families, by sale. I do
firmly believe that the recurrence of the former evil becomes rarer
every day, for advance of civilization only seems to strengthen the
natural repugnance--with which moral sentiment has nothing to
do--existing between the Anglo-Saxon and African blood.

The subject is not a pleasant one to dilate upon, but that such a
repugnance does exist, few that have been brought into actual contact
with the "colored" element _en masse_, will be inclined to deny. I think
some of those scientific philosophers who write volumes to prove that
there is no physical difference between the races, would feel their
theories strangely modified after such a practical trial. If this be an
immutable fact, it may work in the South for the prevention of evil as
well as of good; in the North it can only work for bitter harm. In
Delaware, where the free negroes are found in unusually large
proportions to the whites, they are notoriously more hardly treated than
in any other State of the original Union; and fanaticism must be blind
and deaf indeed if recent events in New York have not taught it to doubt
whether the tender mercies of the Abolitionists are so gentle, after
all. While things are so (and there is scant hope of their changing
within many generations) the position of the black freedman in the North
will never be much higher than that of the Chinese in California, where
a scintilla of civil rights is the utmost that the unhappy aliens can
claim. In the South, I do greatly fear, there is no alternative between
suppression and subjugation.

There is no reason why the second great evil--the separation of families
(under a certain age) should not be entirely removed by proper
legislation; and I believe measures to this effect have already been
mooted in more than one of the slaveholding States. Putting these two
points aside, I believe that the condition of the slave--especially
where the "patriarchal" system prevails--is infinitely better than that
of the coolies: the unutterable horrors and waste of life in the Chincha
Islands have never been matched in Kentucky or Louisiana. I believe that
the whole roll of authenticated cruelties exercised on the negroes in
any one year would be outnumbered and outdone by the brutalities
practiced within the same time upon the apprentices in our own coast
trade, and upon seamen--white and colored--in the American
merchant-service. With all this it should be remembered that the
ordinary slave-rations far exceed, both in quantity and quality, the
Sunday meal of an English west-country laborer; and that the comforts of
all the aged and infirm, whom the master is, of course, obliged to
maintain, are infinitely superior to those enjoyed by the like inmates
of our most lenient work-houses.

I think it is a mistake to suppose that the negroes, as a race, _pine_
for freedom; though, when it is suggested to them, they may grasp at it
with eagerness, much as they would at any other novelty. Many, no doubt,
can appreciate liberty, and use it as wisely and well as any freeborn
white: gradual emancipation would be one of the grandest schemes that
could be propounded to human benevolence: it is rife with difficulty,
but surely not impracticable. The indiscriminate and abrupt manumission
of the negro would, I am convinced, turn a quaint, simple, childish
creature--prone to mirth, and not easily discontented if his indolence
be not taxed too hardly, susceptible, too, of strong affection and
fidelity to his master, as many recent events have shown--into a sullen,
slothful, insolent savage, never remembering the past, except as a sort
of vague excuse for the present indulgence of his brutal instincts,
conscious that every man's hand is against him, without the meek
patience of a pariah; but only venturing to retaliate by occasional
outbursts of ruffianism or rapine. Where a body of these men is
subjected at once to military discipline, and overawed by the presence
of white soldiers in overwhelming numbers, the same danger cannot exist;
yet I doubt gravely as to the ultimate success, in any point of view, of
those negro levies. It seems hard to say, but I do think it is better
for us--even for the sake of Christian charity--to leave that Great
Anomaly to be dealt with by God in His own time.

Were the cause stronger than it is, it would be damaged, with many
moderate thinkers, by the absurdities and violence of its moat zealous
advocates. Ward Beecher, the great Abolition apostle, fairly outdoes the
earlier eccentricities of Spurgeon; every trick of stage effect--such as
the sudden display of a white slave-child--is freely employed in the
pulpit of Plymouth Church, and each successful "point" is rewarded by
audible murmurs of applause. One fact stamps the man very sufficiently.
In the latter part of last May, he was starting for a four-months'
absence in Europe; it was purely a pleasure trip, the expenses to be
paid by "his affectionate congregation;" and the whole arrangements were
thoroughly comfortable, not to say luxurious. The text of his last
sermon was taken from Acts, chapter xx. 18-27--words that even an
Apostle never spoke till, standing in the shadow of bonds and death, he
said farewell to saints who should never look upon his face any more.

Theodore Tilton, another shining light, much distinguished himself by
announcing that there was no doubt that "the negroes were destined to be
_The_ Church of Christ:" he founded his discovery not so much upon the
strong religious feeling prevalent among "colored" persons, as on that
verse in the Songs of Solomon, where the Bride professes herself "black
but comely."

It would be well if such absurdities were all one had to record: some
ebullitions of abolitionist zeal will hardly bear writing down. Take one
instance. At a large Union meeting at Philadelphia, the _Reverend_ A. H.
Gilbert, speaking of the Proclamation, and its probable effects in the
South, did not deny that it might entail a repetition of the San Domingo
horrors on a vaster scale. "But," said he--"speaking calmly and as a
Christian minister--I affirm that it would be better that every woman
and child in the South should perish, than that the principles of
Confederate Statesmen should prevail."

In all that huge assembly, there was not one man found who--for the love
of wife, or sister, or daughter, or mother--would rise to smite the
brutal blasphemer on the mouth; nay, the Quaker brood cheered him to the
echo.

That same Proclamation has done less harm than was expected, after all.
Maryland has suffered, perhaps, most: the whole Constitution is rendered
null and void there now, without her gaining any European credit as a
voluntary free State. The negroes stay or run away according to their
fancy, and work as it suits their convenience; the chances against
recapture being about 1000 to 1, so it says something for the system,
that so many have chosen to remain: hardly any household or domestic
servants are found among the fugitives.

Putting abolition aside, let us examine the condition of the North's
"second charger"--battle-horse--Restoration of the Union at any cost.
The question of the right of the Southern States to secede has been
discussed till every European ear must be weary of the theme; so we will
let the justice of the case alone, and only look at the wild
improbability of any such result being achieved. In the North, of
course, there is a strong peace-party; in the South I do not think that
any man would venture to suggest to his nearest friend any compromise
short of the acknowledgment of the Confederacy as an independent nation.
It is an utter mistake to suppose that, if the Emancipatory Proclamation
were revoked, the road towards peace would be smoothed materially: it
might have a good effect in displaying a spirit of conciliation on the
part of the Federal Government--nothing more. The wedges that will keep
the South apart from the North, forever, were moulded and sharpened long
before they were driven home. For years far-seeing men, especially on
the Border States, had provided, in their financial and domestic
arrangements, for a certain disunion: not for the first time in history
has an aristocracy grown up in the centre of a democracy, and, while the
world shall last, such a state of things can never long endure without a
collision, involving temporary subjugation or permanent disruption.

The New Englander sees this just as plainly as the Virginian, and both
have an equal pride in thinking that Cavalier and Roundhead are fighting
the old battle once more. Disputes about tariffs and falsified
compromises have only been specious pretexts for indulging in a spirit
of antagonism, which was then scarcely dissembled, and can never be
glossed over again. But the Federal Government are not only pursuing a
_mirage_, in trying to enforce a Union which could scarcely be
maintained if all the South country lay depopulated and desolate: they
are risking, every day, more perilously, the cohesion of the States that
still cling to the old Commonwealth. The Black Republican tendency to
put down all political opposition with the armed hand, or with the
_lettre de cachet_, is perpetually conflicting with the State rights,
which many true-hearted Americans value no less highly than their
allegiance to the Union. The Democrats are almost strong enough to defy
their opponents, even while the latter are in power; and resistance to
the Conscription may be only the beginning of a struggle that will
terminate in a second solution of political continuity, not less earnest
than the first. Listen to _The World_, of the 19th May, speaking of
Vallandigham's arrest:

"The blood that already makes crimson Virginian and Kentucky hill-sides,
is but a drop to that which will flow on northern soil, when the
American people discover that the battle has begun to save the
Constitution from tyrants."

Brave words, these! Yet, making allowance for editorial blatancy, they
may contain a germ of bitter truth. When New York, the Empress City, has
been threatened with martial law, it is fair to conclude that Federaldom
may soon have other enemies to deal with than those who are vexing her
borders.

No Government can hope successfully to carry out the principle of
arbitrary and irresponsible power, unless its standing ground be as
unassailable, and its resolves as unanimous as those of any individual
autocrat.

Yet, no administration--civil, political, or military--can be otherwise
than unsound to the core where no mutual confidence or reliance subsists
among its constituent members. Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet do not even keep up
the appearances of a Happy Family; in all the subordinate departments,
scarcely a week elapses without the promulgation of some disgraceful
scandal. For instance, last spring, before men had had time to discuss
the gigantic Custom-house frauds, there appeared a quiet paragraph to
the effect that one hundred and forty thousand dollars had disappeared
mysteriously from the Navy Office on the eve of pay-day; a huge reward
was offered for the discovery of the criminal, or recovery of the money;
but even Unionists laughed openly at such an advertisement, which
probably did not cause the real robber, whoever he was, to turn once
uneasily in his gorgeous bed. Even in the Commissariat, which, in all
ages and in all armies, has been the presumed headquarters of the
Autolyci, no one has yet emulated the evil renown of the Butlers at New
Orleans (it was openly stated in Congress, and scarcely contradicted,
that the profits and plunder carried off by that noble pair of brothers,
exceeded seven millions of dollars); but many of the contractors appear
to have used their opportunities much as if they were scrambling for
eagles, or robbing "against time." The corruption that has long
prevailed in Congress, whenever a "private bill" is in question, has
long been notorious; but this, at least, was shrouded with a thin vail
of decorum which the peculators in military and civil high places
disdained to encumber themselves with in these latter days.

Instances of all this might be multiplied to weariness, but you have
only to look at a week's files of any northern journal to be convinced
of the existing state of things, which even the Black Republicans not
unfrequently bewail.

There is another sort of extra-horse that the Government, or its organs,
are fond of riding for a short "spell," when the others have been hacked
rather too hardly. They have christened it--"Perfidious Albion." To
speak the truth, however, the Anglophobia is not confined to the
Abolitionists or Republicans when anything occurs to make any particular
journal cross or querulous, you are almost sure to meet, that same week,
a sanguinary leader, with the threadbare motto--"_delenda est
Britannia_." Lately, it has been suggested that the most certain fact to
secure the adhesion of the South, would be an invitation to join in an
internecine war with England and France, with Canada and Mexico for
prizes.

Truly Secessia has little cause to love us; for our practical sympathy
with her in her dire strait has been confined to the furnishing of
war-munitions at a moderate profit of three hundred per cent.; yet, I
think, even in such a cause, Georgia, Carolina, and Virginia would stand
aloof, rather than dress up in line with the Yankee battalions. The
mobocracy are "all for a muss," of course, as they always are till they
see the glitter of bayonets; but I cannot believe that the bellicose
ideas they are so fond of mooting have ever been seriously entertained
by the Government. The Federal navy is too utterly inefficient now, save
for attack and defense along its own shores, to give cause for
apprehension even to a second-class Power: it cannot even protect
Northern commerce. For a year or more, the Florida and Alabama have
laughed at the beards of all the cruisers, and carry on depredation
still with a high hand. The only grave aggression must be made on the
frontier of Canada; and there the invaders would be met by a militia
quite as well drilled as themselves, who have held their own, once
before, gallantly; to say nothing of the reinforcement of our own
regular army; if the crack regiments of New York or Massachusetts should
chance, in such a case, to find the Guards or Highlanders in their
front, it is just possible that the "veterans" might have some fresh
ideas as to the realities of a "charge in line."

Reading these bellicose articles, you are perpetually reminded of the
favorite national game of "Poker." In this, a player holding a very bad
hand against a good one, may possibly "bluff" his adversary down, and
win the stakes, if he only has confidence enough to go on piling up the
money, so as to make his own weakness appear strength. That audacity
answers often happily enough, especially with the timid and
inexperienced, but the professional gamblers tell you mournfully that
they sometimes meet an opponent with equal nerve and a longer purse;
then comes the fatal moment when the cards must be shown, and then--_le
quart d'heure de Rabelais_. I think, if ever Britannia is forced to
"see" Federalia's "hand," the world that looks on will find that the
latter has been "bluffing" to hide weakness.

Nevertheless, I am far from undervaluing the actual strength of the
northern land armies. They are composed of the most uncouth and
heterogeneous materials; but they work well enough, after their own
rough fashion, and certainly recover surprisingly fast from temporary
discomfiture; it is difficult to believe that the troops who met Lee so
gallantly at Gettysburg were the same who recrossed the Rappahannock in
sullen despondency, after Chancellorsville. But the foreign element in
the Federal forces must soon grow dangerously strong; it should never be
forgotten that the foreigners, attracted by enormous bounty, even if
they be of Anglo-Saxon blood, can be but mercenaries, after all; and, in
history, the Swiss almost monopolize the glory of mercenary fidelity.
Such subsidies can only be relied on when pay is prompt and work plenty:
irregularity or inaction will soon breed discontent, followed by some
such revolt as menaced the existence of Carthage.

These are some of the causes which, as it seems to me, even now
neutralize, to a great extent, the really vast resources of the North,
and will some day imperil her very existence as a nation--united in her
present form. Now, as to the event of the struggle.

I believe amalgamation, or any other terms than absolute subjugation of
the South--to be maintained hereafter by armies of occupancy--simply
impracticable. This--not only on the grounds of political and social
antagonism before alluded to; but because this contest has been waged
after a fashion almost unknown in the later days of civilization. I do
not speak of open warfare on stricken fields, or even of pitiless
slaughter wrought by those who, when their blood is hot, "do not their
work negligently;" but of bitter by-blows, dealt on either side, such as
humanity cannot lightly forget or forgive--of passions roused, that will
rankle savagely long after this generation shall be dust. There remains
the chance of utterly quelling and annihilating the insurrection (I
speak as a Federal) with the strong hand.

On the one side is ranged an innumerable multitude--who can hardly be
looked upon as a distinct nation, for in it mingles all the blood of
Western Europe--doggedly determined, perhaps, to persevere in its
purpose, yet strangely apathetic when a crisis seems really
imminent--easily discouraged by reverses, and fatally prone to
discontent and distrust of all ruling powers--divided by political
jealousies, often more bitter than the hatred of the Commonwealth's
foe--mingling always with their patriotism a certain commercial
calculation, that if all tales are true, makes them, from the highest to
the lowest, peculiarly open to the temptations of the Almighty Dollar;
these men are fighting for a positive gain, for the reacquisition of a
vast territory, that if they win, they must watch, as Russia has watched
Poland.

On the other side I see a real nation, numerically small, in whose veins
the Anglo-Saxon blood flows almost untainted; I see rich men casting
down their gold, and strong men casting down their lives, as if both
were dross, in the cause they have sworn to win; I see Sybarites
enduring hardships that _un vieux de la vieille_ would have grumbled at,
without a whispered murmur; I hear gentle and tender women echo in
simple earnestness the words that once were spoken to me by a fair
Southern wife--"I pray that Philip may die in the front, and that they
may burn me in the plantation, before the Confederacy makes peace on any
terms but our own." I see that reverses, instead of making this people
cashier their generals, or cavil at their rulers, only intensifies their
fierce energy of resistance. Here men are fighting--not to gain a foot
of ground, but simply to hold their own, with the liberty which they
believe to be their birthright.

It may well be that darker days are in store for the South than she has
ever yet known; it may be that she will only attain her object at the
cost of utter commercial ruin; it may be that the charity of the
European Powers is exhausted on Poland, and that neither pity nor shame
will induce them to break a thankless neutrality, here; but in the face
of all barely probable contingencies, I doubt no more of the ultimate
result, than I doubt of the ultimate performance of the justice of God.





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