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Title: Literary Hearthstones of Dixie
Author: Pickett, La Salle Corbell, 1848-1931
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: THE HOME OF AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON, ASHLAND PLACE
Now owned by Mrs. George Fearn, Jr.]



LITERARY HEARTHSTONES OF DIXIE



_By_

LA SALLE CORBELL PICKETT

AUTHOR OF "PICKETT AND HIS MEN," "JINNY," ETC.



_With Portraits and Illustrations_



PHILADELPHIA & LONDON

J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

1912

COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY


PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 1912

PRINTED BY J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS
PHILADELPHIA, U.S.A.



  Transcriber's Note:

  There is an inconsistency in the fifth paragraph of the Forword
  where the author refers to Dr. Bagley's "The Old Fashioned
  Gentleman," and the reference to Dr. Bagby's "The Old Virginia
  Gentleman" in the chapter "Bacon and Greens".



FOREWORD.


The fires still glow upon the hearthstones to which our southern
writers in the olden days gave us friendly welcome. They are as bright
to-day as when, "four feet on the fender," we talked with some gifted
friend whose pen, dipped in the heart's blood of life, gave word to
thoughts which had flamed within us and sought vainly to escape the
walls of our being that they might go out to the world and fulfil their
mission. They who built the shrines before which we offer our devotion
have passed from the world of men, but the fires they kindled yet burn
with fadeless light.

To us who have dwelt in the same environment and found beauty in the
same scenes that inspired them to eloquent expression of the thoughts,
the loves, the hopes, and the aspirations which were our own as well
as theirs, these writers of our South are living still and will live
through the long procession of the years. In the garden of our lives
they planted the flowers of poesy, of fable, and of romance. With the
changes of the years those flowers may have passed into the realm of
the old-fashioned, like the blossoms in Grandmother's garden, but are
there any sweeter or more royally blooming than these?

The lustre of our gifted ones is not dimmed by the passage of time,
but in the rush of new books upon the world the readers of to-day lose
sight of the volumes which wove threads of gold into the joys and
sorrows of the generation now travelling the downward slope of life.
Their starry radiance is sometimes lost to view in the electric flash
of the present day. If these pages can in any slight way aid in
keeping their memory bright they will have reached their highest aim.

The poets of Dixie in war days tended the flames that glowed upon the
altar of patriotism. Their lives were given to their country as truly
as if their blood had crimsoned the sod of hard-fought fields. They
gave of their best to our cause. Their bugle notes echo through the
years, and the mournful tones of the dirges they sang over the grave
of our dreams yet thrill our hearts. Before our eyes "The Conquered
Banner" sorrowfully droops on its staff and "The Sword of Lee" flashes
in the lines of our Poet-Priest.

For the quotations with which are illustrated the varying phases of
his poetic thought I am indebted to the kindness of the publishers
of Father Ryan's poems, Messrs. P.J. Kenedy & Sons. For certain
selections from the poems of Hayne I am indebted to the Lothrop,
Lee & Shephard Company, and for selections from Dr. Bagley's "The
Old Fashioned Gentleman," Messrs. Charles Schribner's Sons.

My thanks are due the Houghton, Mifflin Company for permission to
include in my paper on Margaret Junkin Preston two poems and other
quotations from the "Life and Letters of Margaret J. Preston," by Mrs.
Allan, the step-daughter of Mrs. Preston.

The selections in the article on Georgia's doubly gifted son, Sidney
Lanier, poet and musician, are given through the kind permission of
Professor Edwin Mims and of Doubleday, Page & Company, publishers of
Mrs. Clay's "A Belle of the Fifties."



CONTENTS

                                                       PAGE

"THE POET OF THE NIGHT"                                 11
  Edgar Allan Poe

"THE SUNRISE POET"                                      41
  Sidney Lanier

"THE POET OF THE PINES"                                 69
  Paul Hamilton Hayne

"THE FLAME-BORN POET"                                   99
  Henry Timrod

"FATHER ABBOT"                                         125
  William Gilmore Simms

"UNCLE REMUS"                                          151
  Joel Chandler Harris

"THE POET OF THE FLAG"                                 175
  Francis Scott Key

"THE POET-PRIEST"                                      201
  Father Ryan

"BACON AND GREENS"                                     225
  Dr. George William Bagby

"WOMAN AND POET"                                       253
  Margaret Junkin Preston

"THE 'MOTHER' OF 'ST. ELMO'"                           283
  Augusta Evans Wilson



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                       PAGE

THE HOME OF AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON, ASHLAND PLACE    _Frontispiece_

EDGAR ALLAN POE                                         20

SIDNEY LANIER                                           58

HOUSE WHERE TIMROD LIVED DURING HIS LAST YEARS         116

WOODLANDS, THE HOME OF WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS           126

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS                                   156

SNAP-BEAN FARM, ATLANTA, GEORGIA                       166

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY                                      194

FATHER RYAN                                            204

ST. MARY'S CHURCH, MOBILE. FATHER RYAN'S LATE
RESIDENCE ADJOINING                                    216

DR. GEORGE W. BAGBY                                    236

"AVENEL"                                               240



LITERARY HEARTHSTONES OF DIXIE



"THE POET OF THE NIGHT"

EDGAR ALLAN POE


"I am a Virginian; at least, I call myself one, for I have resided all
my life until within the last few years in Richmond."

Thus Edgar A. Poe wrote to a friend. The fact of his birth in Boston
he regarded as merely an unfortunate accident, or perhaps the work of
that malevolent "Imp of the Perverse" which apparently dominated his
life. That it constituted any tie between him and the "Hub of the
Universe," unless it might be the inverted tie of opposition, he never
admitted. The love which his charming little actress mother cherished
for the city in which she had enjoyed her greatest triumphs seemed to
have turned to hatred in the heart of her brilliant and erratic son.
In his short and disastrous sojourn in Boston, when his fortunes were
at their lowest ebb, it is not likely that his thought once turned to
the old house on Haskins, now Carver, Street, where his ill-starred
life began.

The reason given by Poe, "I have resided there all my life until
within the last few years," suggests but slight cause for his love of
Richmond, the home of his childhood, the darkening clouds of which,
viewed through the softening lens of years, may have shaded off to
brighter tints, as the roughness of a landscape disappears and melts
into mystic, dreamy beauty as we journey far from the scene.

The three women who had been the stars in the troubled sky of his
youth irradiated his memory of the Queen City of the South. In the
churchyard of historic old Saint John's, that once echoed to the words
of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Poe's mother lay
in an unidentified grave. In Hollywood slept his second mother, who
had surrounded his boyhood with the maternal affection that, like an
unopened rose in her heart, had awaited the coming of the little child
who was to be the sunbeam to develop it into perfect flowering. On
Shockoe Hill was the tomb of "Helen," his chum's mother, whose beauty
of face and heart brought the boyish soul

    To the Glory that was Greece
            And the grandeur that was Rome.

Through the three-fold sanctification of the twin priestesses, Love and
Sorrow, Richmond was his home.

So Virginia claims her poet son, the tragedy of whose life is a gloomy,
though brilliant, page in the history of American literature.

There are varying stories told of Poe's Richmond home. The impression
that he was the inmate of a stately mansion, where he was trained to
extravagance which wrought disaster in later years, is not borne out
by the evidence. When the loving heart and persistent will of Mrs.
Allan opened her husband's reluctant door to the orphaned son of
the unfortunate players, that door led into the second story of the
building at the corner of Fourteenth Street and Tobacco Alley, in which
Messrs. Ellis & Allan earned a comfortable, but not luxurious, living
by the sale of the commodity which gave the alley its name. As it was
customary in those days for merchants to live in the same building with
their business, the fact that he did so does not argue that Mr. Allan
was "down on his luck," but neither does it presuppose that he was the
possessor of wealth. But it was a home in the truest sense for little
Edgar, for it was radiant with the love of the tender-hearted woman who
had brought him within its friendly walls.

From this home Mr. Allan went to London to establish a branch of the
Company business. He was accompanied by Mrs. Allan and Edgar, and the
boy was placed in the school of Stoke-Newington, shadowy with the dim
procession of the ages and gloomed over by the memory of Eugene Aram.
The pictured face of the head of the Manor School, Dr. Bransby,
indicates that the hapless boys under his care had stronger than
historic reasons for depression in that ancient institution.

England was thrilling with the triumph of Waterloo, and even
Stoke-Newington must have awakened to the pulsing of the atmosphere.
Not far away were Byron, Shelley, and Keats, at the beginning of their
brief and brilliant careers, the glory and the tragedy of which may
have thrown a prophetic shadow over the American boy who was to travel
a yet darker path than any of these.

Under the elms that bordered the old Roman road, what forms of antique
romance would lie in wait for the dreamy lad, joining him in his
Saturday afternoon walks and telling him stories of their youth in the
ancient days to mingle with the age-youth in the heart of the
dual-souled boy. The green lanes were haunted by memories of
broken-hearted lovers: Earl Percy, mourning for the fair and fickle
Anne; Essex, calling vainly for the royal ring that was to have saved
him; Leicester, the Lucky, a more contented ghost, returning in
pleasing reminiscence to the scenes of his earthly triumphs,
comfortably oblivious of his earthly crimes. What boy would not have
found inspiration in gazing at the massive walls, locked and barred
against him though they were, within which the immortal Robinson
Crusoe sprang into being and found that island of enchantment, the
favorite resort of the juvenile imagination in all the generations
since?

At Stoke-Newington the introspective boy found little to win him from
that self-analysis which later enabled him to mystify a world that
rarely pauses to take heed of the ancient exhortation, "Know thyself."
In the depths of his own being he found the story of "William Wilson,"
with its atmosphere of weird romance and its heart of solemn truth.

Incidentally, he uplifted the reputation of the American boy, so far as
regarded Stoke-Newington's opinion, by assuring his mates when they
marvelled over his athletic triumphs and feats of skill that all the
boys in America could do those things.

At the end of the year in which the family returned from
Stoke-Newington Mr. Allan moved into a plain little cottage a story and
a half high, with five rooms on the ground floor, at the corner of Clay
and Fifth Streets. Here they lived until, in 1825, Mr. Allan inherited
a considerable amount of money and bought a handsome brick residence at
the corner of Main and Fifth Streets, since known as the Allan House.
With the exception of two very short intervals, from June of this year
until the following February was all the time that Poe spent in the
Allan mansion.

The Allan House, in its palmy days, might appeal irresistibly to the
mind of a poet, attuned to the harmonies of artistic design and
responsive to the beauties of romantic environment. It was a two-story
building with spacious rooms and appointments that suggested the taste
of the cultivated mistress of the stately dwelling. On the second floor
was "Eddie's room," as she lovingly called it, wherein her affectionate
imagination as well as her skill expended themselves lavishly for the
pleasure of the son of her heart.

A few years later, upon his sudden return after a long absence, it was
his impetuous inquiry of the second Mrs. Allan as to the dismantling of
this room that led to his hasty retreat from the house, an incident
upon which his early biographers, led by Dr. Griswold, based the
fiction that Mr. Allan cherished Poe affectionately in his home until
his conduct toward "the young and beautiful wife" forced the expulsion
of the poet from the Allan house. The fact is that Poe saw the second
Mrs. Allan only once, for a moment marked by fiery indignation on his
part, and on hers by a cold resentment from which the unfortunate
visitor fled as from a north wind; the second Mrs. Allan's strong point
being a grim and middle-aged determination, rather than "youth and
beauty." Not that the thirty calendar years of that lady would
necessarily have conducted her across the indefinite boundaries of the
uncertain region known as "middle age," but the second Mrs. Allan was
born middle-aged, and the almanac had nothing to do with it.

It was in the sunshine of youth and the warmth of love and the
fragrance of newly opening flowers of poetry that Edgar Poe lived in
the new Allan home and from the balcony of the second story looked out
upon the varied scenes of the river studded with green islets, the
village beyond the water, and far away the verdant slopes and forested
hills into the depths of which he looked with rapt eyes, seeing visions
which that forest never held for any other gaze. Mayhap, adown those
dim green aisles he previsioned the "ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir"
with the tomb of Ulalume at the end of the ghostly path through the
forest--the road through life that led to the grave where his heart lay
buried. Through the telescope on that balcony he may first have
followed the wanderings of Al Araaf, the star that shone for him alone.
In the dim paths of the moonlit garden flitted before his eyes the
dreamful forms that were afterward prisoned in the golden net of his
wondrous poesy.

[Illustration: EDGAR ALLAN POE
From the daguerreotype formerly owned by Edmund Clarence Stedman]

To these poetic scenes he soon bade farewell, and on St. Valentine's
day, 1826, entered the University of Virginia, where Number 13, West
Range, is still pointed out as the old-time abiding place of
Virginia's greatest poet, whose genius has given rise to more
acrimonious discussion than has ever gathered about the name of any
other American man of letters. The real home of Poe at this time was
the range of hills known as the Ragged Mountains, for it was among
their peaks and glens and caverns and wooded paths and rippling
streams that he roamed in search of strange tales and mystic poems
that would dazzle his readers in after days. His rambles among the
hills of the University town soon came to a close. Mr. Allan, being
confronted by a gaming debt which he regarded as too large to fit the
sporting necessities of a boy of seventeen, took him from college and
put him into the counting-room of Ellis & Allan, a position far from
agreeable to one accustomed to counting only poetic feet.

The inevitable rupture soon came, and Poe went to Boston, the city of
his physical birth and destined to become the place of his birth into
the tempestuous world of authorship. Forty copies of "Tamerlane and
Other Poems" appeared upon the shelf of the printer--and nowhere else.
It is said that seventy-three years later a single copy was sold for
$2,250. Had this harvest been reaped by the author in those early
days, who can estimate the gain to the field of literature?

Boston proving inhospitable to the firstling of her gifted son's
imagination, the Common soon missed the solitary, melancholy figure
that had for months haunted the old historic walks. Edgar A. Poe
dropped out of the world, or perhaps out of the delusion of fancying
himself in the world, and Edgar A. "Perry" appeared, an enlisted
soldier in the First Artillery at Fort Independence. For two years
"Perry" served his country in the sunlight, and Poe, under night's
starry cover, roamed through skyey aisles in the service of the Muse
and explored "Al Araaf," the abode of those volcanic souls that rush
in fatal haste to an earthly heaven, for which they recklessly
exchange the heaven of the spirit that might have achieved
immortality.

A severe illness resulted in the disclosure of the identity of the
young soldier, and a message was sent to Mr. Allan, who effected his
discharge and helped secure for him an appointment to West Point. On
his way to the Academy he stopped in Baltimore and arranged for the
publication of a new volume, to contain "Al Araaf," a revised version
of "Tamerlane," and some short poems.

Some months later No. 28 South Barracks, West Point, was the despair
of the worthy inspector who spent his days and nights in unsuccessful
efforts to keep order among the embryo protectors of his country. Poe,
the leader of the quartette that made life interesting in Number 28,
was destined never to evolve into patriotic completion. He soon
reached the limit of the endurance of the officials, that being, in
the absence of a pliant guardian, the only method by which a cadet
could be freed from the walls of the Academy.

Soon after leaving the military school Poe made a brief visit to
Richmond, the final break with Mr. Allan took place, and the poet went
to Baltimore.

Number 9 Front Street, Baltimore, is claimed as the birthplace of Poe.
There is a house in Norfolk that is likewise so distinguished. There
are other places, misty with passing generations, similarly known to
history. Poe, though not Homeric in his literary methods, had much the
same post-mortem experience as the Father of the Epicists.

At the time of the Poet-wanderer's return to Baltimore his aunt, Mrs.
Clemm, had her humble but neat and comfortable home on Eastern Avenue,
then Wilks Street, and here he found the first home he had known since
his childhood and, incidentally, his charming child cousin, Virginia,
who was to make his home bright with her devotion through the
remainder of her brief life.

In these early days no thought of any but a cousinly affection had
rippled the smooth surface of Virginia's childish mind, and she was
the willing messenger between Poe and his "Mary," who lived but a
short distance from the home of the Clemms, and who, when the frosts
of years had descended upon her, denied having been engaged to
him--apparently because her elders were more discreet than she
was--but admitted that she cried when she heard of his death.

In his attic room on Wilks Street he toiled over the poems and tales
that some time would bring him fame.

Poe was living in Amity Street when he won the hundred-dollar prize
offered by the _Saturday Visitor_, with his "Manuscript Found in a
Bottle," and wrote his poem of "The Coliseum," which failed of a prize
merely because the plan did not admit of making two awards to the same
person. A better reward for his work was an engagement as assistant
editor of the _Southern Literary Messenger_, which led to his removal
to Richmond.

The _Messenger_ was in a building at Fifteenth and Main Streets, in
the second story of which Mr. White, the editor, and Poe, had their
offices. The young assistant soon became sole editor of the
publication, and it was in this capacity that he entered upon the
critical work which was destined to bring him effective enemies to
assail his reputation, both literary and personal, when the grave had
intervened to prevent any response to their slanders. Not but that he
praised oftener than he censured, but the thorn of censure pricks
deeply, and the rose of praise but gently diffuses its fragrance to be
wafted away on the passing breeze. The sharp satire attracted
attention to the _Messenger_, as attested by the rapid growth of the
subscription list.

Here Poe was surrounded by memories of his childhood. The building was
next door to that in which Ellis & Allan had their tobacco store in
Poe's school days in Richmond. The old Broad Street Theatre, on the
site of which now stands Monumental Church, was the scene of his
beautiful mother's last appearance before the public. Near Nineteenth
and Main she died in a damp cellar in the "Bird in Hand" district,
through which ran Shockoe Creek. Eighteen days later the old theatre
was burned, and all Richmond was in mourning for the dead.

At the northwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets, opposite the Allan
mansion, was the MacKenzie school for girls, which Rosalie Poe
attended in Edgar's school days. He was the only young man who enjoyed
the much-desired privilege of being received in that hall of learning,
and some of the bright girls of the institution beguiled him into
revealing the authorship of the satiric verses, "Don Pompioso," which
caused their victim, a wealthy and popular young gentleman of
Richmond, to quit the city with undue haste. The verses were the boy's
revenge upon "Don Pompioso" for insulting remarks about the position
of Poe as the son of stage people.

On Franklin Street, between First and Second, was the Ellis home,
where Poe, with Mr. and Mrs. Allan, lived for a time after their
return from England. On North Fifth Street, near Clay, still stood the
cottage that was the next home of the Allans. At the southeast corner
of Eleventh and Broad Streets was the school which Poe had attended,
afterward the site of the Powhatan Hotel. Near it was the home of Mrs.
Stanard, whose memory comes radiantly down to us in the lines "To
Helen."

Ever since the tragedy of the Hellespont, it has been the ambition of
poets to perform a noteworthy swimming feat, and one of Poe's
schoolboy memories was of his six-mile swim from Ludlam's Wharf to
Warwick Bar.

On May 16, 1836, in Mrs. Yarrington's boarding-house, at the corner of
Twelfth and Bank Streets, Poe and Virginia Clemm were married. The
house was burned in the fire of 1865.

In January, 1837, Poe left the _Messenger_ and went north, after which
most of his work was done in New York and Philadelphia. "The Fall of
the House of Usher" was written when he lived on Sixth Avenue, near
Waverley Place, and "The Raven" perched above his chamber door in a
house on the Bloomingdale Road, now Eighty-Fourth Street.

When living in Philadelphia Poe went to Washington for the double
purpose of securing subscribers for his projected magazine, and of
gaining a government appointment. The house in which he stayed during
his short and ill-starred sojourn in the Capital is on New York
Avenue, on a terrace with steps to a landing whence a longer flight
leads to a side entrance lost in a greenery of dark and heavy bushes.
On the opposite side is a small, square veranda. The building, which
is two stories and a half high, was apparently a cheerful yellow color
in the beginning, but it has become dingy with time and weather. The
scars of its long battle with fate give it the appearance of being
about to crumble and crash, after the fashion of the "House of Usher."
It has windows with gloomy casements, opening even with the ground in
the first story, and in the second upon a narrow balcony. A sign on
the front of the building invites attention to a popular make of
glue.[1]

      [1] Since this was written the old house has been torn down.

In 1849, about two years after the passing of the gentle soul of
Virginia, Poe returned to Richmond. He went first to the United States
Hotel, at the southwest corner of Nineteenth and Main Streets, in the
"Bird in Hand" neighborhood where he had looked for the last time on
the face of his young mother. He soon removed to the "Swan," because
it was near Duncan Lodge, the home of his friends, the MacKenzies,
where his sister Rose had found protection. The Swan was a long,
two-storied structure with combed roof, tall chimneys at the ends, and
a front piazza with a long flight of steps leading down to the street.
It was famous away back in the beginning of the century, having been
built about 1795. When it sheltered Poe it wore a look of having stood
there from the beginning of time and been forgotten by the passing
generations.

Duncan Lodge, now an industrial home, was then a stately mansion,
shaded by magnificent trees. Here Poe spent much of his time, and one
evening in this friendly home he recited "The Raven" with such
artistic effect that his auditors induced him to give it as a public
reading at the Exchange Hotel. Unfortunately, it was in midsummer, and
both literary Richmond and gay Richmond were at seashore and mountain,
and there were few to listen to the poem read as only its author could
read it. Later in the same hall he gave, with gratifying success, his
lecture on "The Poetic Principle."

In early September, with some friends, he spent a Sunday in the Hygeia
Hotel at Old Point. At the request of one of the party he recited "The
Raven," "Annabel Lee," and "Ulalume," saying that the last stanza of
"Ulalume" might not be intelligible to them, as it was not to him and
for that reason had not been published. Even if he had known what it
meant, he objected to furnishing it with a note of explanation,
quoting Dr. Johnson's remark about a book, that it was "as obscure as
an explanatory note."

Miss Susan Ingram, an old friend of Poe, and one of the party at Old
Point, tells of a visit he made at her home in Norfolk following the
day at Point Comfort. Noting the odor of orris root, he said that he
liked it because it recalled to him his boyhood, when his adopted
mother kept orris root in her bureau drawers, and whenever they were
opened the fragrance would fill the room.

Near old St. John's in Richmond was the home of Mrs. Shelton, who, as
Elmira Royster, was the youthful sweetheart from whom Poe took a
tender and despairing farewell when he entered the University of
Virginia. Here he spent many pleasant evenings, writing to Mrs. Clemm
with enthusiasm of his renewed acquaintance with his former lady-love.

Next to the last evening that Poe spent in Richmond he called on Susan
Talley, afterward Mrs. Weiss, with whom he discussed "The Raven,"
pointing out various defects which he might have remedied had he
supposed that the world would capture that midnight bird and hang it
up in the golden cage of a "Collection of Best Poems." He was haunted
by the "ghost" which "each separate dying ember wrought" upon the
floor, and had never been able to explain satisfactorily to himself
how and why, his head should have been "reclining on the cushion's
velvet lining" when the topside would have been more convenient for
any purpose except that of rhyme. But it cannot be demanded of a poet
that he should explain himself to anybody, least of all to himself. To
his view, the shadow of the raven upon the floor was the most glaring
of its impossibilities. "Not if you suppose a transom with the light
shining through from an outer hall," replied the ingenious Susan.

When Poe left the Talley home he went to Duncan Lodge, a short
distance away, and spent the night. The next night he was at Sadler's
Old Market Hotel, leaving early in the morning for Philadelphia, but
stopping in Baltimore, where came to him the tragic, mysterious end of
all things.

Poe knew men as little as he knew any of the other every-day facts of
life. In the depths of that ignorance he left his reputation in the
hands of the only being he ever met who would tear it to shreds and
throw it into the mire.



"THE SUNRISE POET"

SIDNEY LANIER


In my memory-gallery hangs a beautiful picture of the Lanier home as I
saw it years ago, on High Street in Macon, Georgia, upon a hillock
with greensward sloping down on all sides. It is a wide, roomy
mansion, with hospitality written all over its broad steps that lead
up to a wide veranda on which many windows look out and smile upon the
visitor as he enters. One tall dormer window, overarched with a high
peak, comes out to the very edge of the roof to welcome the guest.
Two, smaller and more retiring, stand upon the verge of the
high-combed house-roof and look down in friendly greeting. There are
tall trees in the yard, bending a little to touch the old house
lovingly.

Far away stretched the old oaks that girdled Macon with greenery,
where Sidney Lanier and his brother Clifford used to spend their
schoolboy Saturdays among the birds and rabbits. Near by flows the
Ocmulgee, where the boys, inseparable in sport as well as in the more
serious aspects of life, were wont to fish. Here Sidney cut the reed
with which he took his first flute lesson from the birds in the woods.
Above the town were the hills for which the soul of the poet longed in
after life.

Macon was the "live" city of middle Georgia. She made no effort to
rival Richmond or Charleston as an educational or literary centre, but
she had an admirable commercial standing, and offered a generous
hospitality that kept her in fond remembrance. In the Macon
post-office Sidney Lanier had his first business experience, to offset
the drowsy influence of sleepy Midway, the seat of Oglethorpe College,
where he continued his studies after completing the course laid out in
the "'Cademy" under the oaks and hickories of Macon.

January 6, 1857, Lanier entered the sophomore class of Oglethorpe,
where it was unlawful to purvey any commodity, except Calvinism,
"within a mile and a half of the University"--a sad regulation for
college boys, who, as a rule, have several tastes unconnected with
religious orthodoxy.

Lanier carried with him the "small, yellow, one-keyed flute" which had
superseded the musical reed provided by Nature, and practised upon it
so fervently that a college-mate said that he "would play upon his
flute like one inspired."

Montvale Springs, in the mountains of Tennessee, where Sidney's
grandfather, Sterling Lanier, built a hotel in which he gave his
twenty-five grandchildren a vacation one summer, still holds the
memory of that wondrous flute and yet more marvellous nature among the
"strong, sweet trees, like brawny men with virgins' hearts." From its
ferns and mosses and "reckless vines" and priestly oaks lifting
yearning arms toward the stars, Lanier returned to Oglethorpe as a
tutor. Here amid hard work and haunting suggestions of a coming poem,
"The Jacquerie," he tried to work out the problem of his life's
expression.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the guns of Fort Sumter thundered across Sidney Lanier's dreams
of music and poetry, he joined the Macon volunteers, the first company
to march from Georgia into Virginia. It was stationed near Norfolk,
camping in the fairgrounds in the time that Lanier describes as "the
gay days of mandolin and guitar and moonlight sails on the James
River." Life there seems not to have been "all beer and skittles," or
the poetic substitutes therefor, for he goes on to say that their
principal duties were to picket the beach, their "pleasures and sweet
rewards of toil consisting in ague which played dice with our bones,
and blue mass pills that played the deuce with our livers."

In 1862, the Company went to Wilmington, North Carolina, where they
indulged "for two or three months in what are called the 'dry shakes
of the sand-hills,' a sort of brilliant tremolo movement." The time
not required for the "tremolo movement" was spent in building Fort
Fischer, until they were ordered to Drewry's Bluff, and then to the
Chickahominy, where they took part in the Seven Days' fight.

Even war places were literary shrines for Lanier, for wherever he
chanced to be he was constantly dedicating himself anew to the work
of his life. In Petersburg he studied in the Public Library. In that
old town he first saw General R.E. Lee, and watched his calm face
until he "felt that the antique earth returned out of the past and
some mystic god sat on a hill, sculptured in stone, presiding over a
terrible, yet sublime, contest of human passions"--perhaps the most
poetic conception ever awakened by the somewhat familiar view of an
elderly gentleman asleep under the influence of a sermon on a drowsy
mid-summer day. Writing to his father from Fort Boykin, he asks him
to "seize at any price volumes of Uhland, Lessing, Schelling, Tieck."

In the spring of 1863, on a visit to his old home in Macon, Lanier met
Miss Mary Day and promptly fell in love, a fortunate occurrence for
him, in that he secured an inspiring companion in his short and
brilliant life, and for us because it is to her loving care that we
owe the preservation of much of his finest work. On the return to
Virginia, he and his brother Clifford had as companions the charming
Mrs. Clement C. Clay and her sister, who wanted escorts from Macon to
Virginia. She claims to have bribed them with "broiled partridges,
sho' 'nuf sugar, and sho' 'nuf butter and spring chickens, 'quality
size,'" to which allurements the youthful poets are alleged to have
succumbed with grace and gallantry. I recall an evening that General
Pickett and I spent with Mrs. Clay at the Spotswood Hotel, when she
told us of her trip from Macon, and her two poet escorts. I remember
that Senator Vest was present and played the violin while Senator and
Mrs. Clay danced.

Sidney Lanier said of his experience at Fort Boykin, on Burwell's Bay,
that it was in many respects "the most delicious period" of his life.
It may be that no other young soldier found so much of romance and
poetry in the service of Mars or put so much of it into the lives of
those around him. There are old men, now, who in their youth lived on
the James River, in whose hearts the melody of Sidney Lanier's flute
yet lingers in golden fire and dewy flowering. At Fort Boykin he
decided the question of his vocation, writing to his father so
eloquent a letter upon the desirability of pursuing his tastes, rather
than trying to follow the paternal footsteps in a profession for which
he had no talent, that his father relinquished all hope of making a
lawyer of his gifted son.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, Lanier served as signal officer until
he was captured and taken to the prison camp at Point Lookout, in
which gloomy place was developed the disease which in a few years
deprived literature and music of a light that would have sparkled in
beauty through the mists of centuries. Imprisonment did not serve as
an interruption to the work of the student, for even a prison cell was
a shrine to the radiant gods of Lanier's vision. Probably Heine and
Herder were never before translated in surroundings so little
congenial to those masters of poesy. One of his fellow-prisoners said
that Lanier's flute "was an angel imprisoned with us to cheer and
console us." To the few who are left to remember him at that time, the
waves of the Chesapeake, with the sandy beach sweeping down to kiss
the waters, and the far-off dusky pines, are still melodious with that
music.

After his release he was taken to the Macon home, where he was
dangerously ill for two months, being there when General Wilson
captured the town and Mr. Jefferson Davis and Senator Clement C. Clay
were brought to the Lanier house on their gloomy journey to Fortress
Monroe. In that month Lanier's mother died of consumption, and he
spent the summer months at home with his father and sister. In the
autumn he taught on a large plantation nine miles from Macon, where,
with "mind fairly teeming with beautiful things," he was shut up in
the "tare and tret" of the school-room. He spent the winter at Point
Clear on Mobile Bay, breathing in health with the sea-breezes and the
air that drifted fragrantly through the pines.

As clerk in the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery, the property of his
grandfather and his uncles, he may have found no more advantageous a
field for his "beautiful things" than in the Georgia school-room, but
even in that "dreamy and drowsy and drone-y town" there was some life
"late in the afternoon, when the girls come out one by one and shine
and move, just as the stars do an hour later." But Lanier was as
patient and self-contained in peace as he had been brave in war, and
he accepted the drowsy life of Montgomery as he had accepted the
romance and adventures of Fort Boykin, on Sundays playing the
pipe-organ in the Presbyterian Church, and spending his leisure in
finishing "Tiger Lilies," begun in the wild days of '63, on Burwell's
Bay. In 1867 he returned to Macon, where in September he read the
proof of his book, his one effort at romance-writing, chiefly
noticeable for its musical element. The fluting of the author is
recalled by the description of the hero's flute-playing: "It is like
walking in the woods among wild flowers just before you go into some
vast cathedral."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next winter Sidney Lanier was teaching in Prattville, Alabama, a
town built on a quagmire by Daniel Pratt, of whom one of his negroes
said his "Massa seemed dissatisfied with the way God had made the
earth and he was always digging down the hills and filling up the
hollows." Prattville was a small manufacturing town, and Lanier was
about as appropriately placed there as Arion would have been in a
tin-shop, but he kept his humorous outlook on life, departing from his
serenity so far as to make his only attempts at expressing in verse
his political indignation, the results of which he did not regard as
poetry, and they do not appear in the collection of his poems. His
muse was better adapted to the harmonies than to the discords of life.
Some lines written then furnish a graphic picture of conditions in the
South at that time:

                  Young Trade is dead,
    And swart Work sullen sits in the hillside fern
    And folds his arms that find no bread to earn,
                  And bows his head.

In 1868, after Lanier's marriage, he took up the practice of law in
his father's office in Macon. In that town he made his eloquent
Confederate Memorial address, April 26, 1870.

Lanier, to whom "Home" meant all that was radiant and joyous in life,
wrote to Paul Hamilton Hayne that he was "homeless as the ghost of
Judas Iscariot." He was thrust upon a wandering existence by the
always unsuccessful attempt to find strength enough to do his work. At
Brunswick he found the scene of his Marsh poems in "the length and the
breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn," in which he reaches
his depth of poetic feeling and his height of poetic expression.

From Lookout Mountain he wrote Hayne that at about midnight he had
received his letter and poem, and had read the poem to some friends
sitting on the porch, among them Mr. Jefferson Davis. From Alleghany
Springs he wrote his wife that new strength and new serenity
"continually flash from out the gorges, the mountains, and the streams
into the heart and charge it as the lightnings charge the earth with
subtle and heavenly fires." Lanier's soul belonged to music more than
to any other form of art, and more than any other has he linked music
with poetry and the ever-varying phenomena of Nature. Of a perfect day
in Macon he wrote:

    "If the year was an orchestra, to-day would be the calm, passionate,
    even, intense, quiet, full, ineffable flute therein."

In November, 1872, Lanier went to San Antonio in quest of health,
which he did not find. Incidentally, he found hitherto unrevealed
depths of feeling in his "poor old flute" which caused the old leader
of the Maennerchor, who knew the whole world of music, to cry out with
enthusiasm that he had "never heard de flude accompany itself pefore."

That part of his musical life which Sidney Lanier gave to the world
was for the most part spent in Baltimore, where he played in the
Peabody Orchestra, the Germania Maennerchor, and other music
societies. An old German musician who used to play with him in the
Orchestra told me that Lanier was the finest flutist he had ever
heard.

It was in Baltimore, too, that he gave the lectures which resulted in
his most important prose-writings, "The Science of English Verse,"
"The English Novel," "Shakespeare and His Forerunners."

In August, 1874, at Sunnyside, Georgia, amid the loneliness of
abandoned farms, the glory of cornfields, and the mysterious beauty of
forest, he wrote "Corn," the first of his poems to attract the
attention of the country. It was published in _Lippincott's_ in 1875.
Charlotte Cushman was so charmed by it that she sought out the author
in Baltimore, and the two became good friends.

At 64 Centre Street, Baltimore, Lanier wrote "The Symphony," which he
said took hold of him "about four days ago like a real James River
ague, and I have been in a mortal shake with the same, day and night,
ever since," which is the only way that a real poem or real music or a
real picture ever can get into the world. He says that he "will be
rejoiced when it is finished, for it verily racks all the bones of my
spirit." It appeared in _Lippincott's_, June, 1875.

Lanier was at 66 Centre Street, Baltimore, when he wrote the words of
the Centennial Cantata, which he said he "tried to make as simple and
candid as a melody of Beethoven." He wrote to a friend that he was not
disturbed because a paper had said that the poem of the Cantata was
like a "communication from the spirit of Nat Lee through a Bedlamite
medium." It was "but a little grotesque episode, as when a catbird
paused in the midst of the most exquisite roulades and melodies to mew
and then take up his song again."

       *       *       *       *       *

In December of that year he was compelled to seek a milder climate in
Florida, taking with him a commission to write a book about Florida
for the J.B. Lippincott Company. Upon arriving at Tampa, he wrote to a
friend:

    Tampa is the most forlorn collection of little one-story frame
    houses imaginable, and as May and I walked behind our landlord,
    who was piloting us to Orange Grove Hotel, our hearts fell nearer
    and nearer towards the sand through which we dragged. Presently
    we turned a corner and were agreeably surprised to find ourselves
    in front of a large three-story house with old nooks and corners,
    clean and comfortable in appearance and surrounded by orange
    trees in full fruit. We have a large room in the second story,
    opening upon a generous balcony fifty feet long, into which
    stretch the liberal arms of a fine orange tree holding out their
    fruitage to our very lips. In front is a sort of open plaza
    containing a pretty group of gnarled live-oaks full of moss and
    mistletoe.

[Illustration: SIDNEY LANIER
From a photograph owned by H.W. Lanier]

In May he made an excursion of which he wrote:

    For a perfect journey God gave us a perfect day. The little
    Ocklawaha steamboat _Marion_--a steamboat which is like nothing
    in the world so much as a Pensacola gopher with a preposterously
    exaggerated back--had started from Palatka some hours before
    daylight, having taken on her passengers the night previous; and
    by seven o'clock of such a May morning as no words could
    describe, unless words were themselves May mornings, we had made
    the twenty-five miles up the St. John's to where the Ocklawaha
    flows into that stream nearly opposite Welaka, one hundred miles
    above Jacksonville.

It was on this journey that he saw the most magnificent residence that
he had ever beheld, the home of an old friend of his, an alligator,
who possessed a number of such palatial mansions and could change his
residence at any time by the simple process of swimming from one to
another.

On his return to Baltimore he lived at 55 Lexington in four rooms
arranged as a French flat. He makes mention of a gas stove "on which
my comrade magically produces the best coffee in the world, and this,
with fresh eggs (boiled through the same handy little machine), bread,
butter, and milk, forms our breakfast." December 3 he writes from the
little French flat, announcing that he "has plunged in and brought
forth captive a long Christmas poem for _Every Saturday_," a Baltimore
weekly publication. The poem was "Hard Times in Elfland." He says,
"Wife and I have been to look at a lovely house with eight rooms and
many charming appliances," whereof the rent was less than that of the
four rooms.

The next month he writes from 33 Denmead Street, the eight-room house,
to which he had gone, with the attendant necessity of buying "at least
three hundred twenty-seven household utensils" and "hiring a colored
gentlewoman who is willing to wear out my carpets, burn out my range,
freeze out my water-pipes, and be generally useful." He mentions
having written a couple of poems, and part of an essay on Beethoven
and Bismarck, but his chief delight is in his new home, which invests
him with the dignity of paying taxes and water rates. He takes the
view that no man is a Bohemian who has to pay water rates and street
tax.

       *       *       *       *       *

In addition to supporting his new dignity he finds time and strength
for his usual work, and he writes on January 30, 1878, "I have been
mainly at work on some unimportant prose matter for pot-boilers, but I
get off a short poem occasionally, and in the background of my mind am
writing my Jacquerie." Unfortunately, "Jacquerie" remained in the
background of his mind, with the exception of two songs--all we have
to indicate what a stirring presentation our literature might have had
of the fourteenth century awakening of "Jacques Bonhomme," that early
precursor of the more terrible arousing in 'Ninety-Three.

In the latter part of the year Lanier was living at Number 180 St.
Paul Street, and in December he wrote to a friend:

    "Bayard Taylor's death slices a huge cantle out of the world.... It
    only seems that he has gone to some other Germany a little farther
    off.... He was such a fine fellow, one almost thinks he might
    have talked Death over and made him forego his stroke."

At Bayard Taylor's home, where Lanier visited, were two immense
chestnut trees, much loved by the two poets. Mrs. Taylor wrote that
one of the trees died soon after the death of its poet owner. The
other lingered until a short time after the passing of Lanier. It was
in connection with the lines of the "Cantata," written in the
Baltimore home of the Southern poet, that the poet friends began a
long-continued series of letters which one loves to read on a winter
night, when the winds are battling with the world outside, and the
fire gleams redly in the open grate, and the lamp burns softly on the
library table, and all things invite to poetic dreams.

November 12, 1880, Sidney Lanier wrote to his publisher a letter of
appreciation of the beautiful work done upon his volume, "The Boy's
King Arthur." It is dated at Number 435 North Calvert Street, the
latest Baltimore address that we have.

       *       *       *       *       *

The distinction Sidney Lanier achieved as first flutist in the
orchestra of the Peabody Institute led to an offer of a position in
the Thomas Orchestra, which the condition of his health did not permit
him to accept.

In the summer of 1880 his "Science of English Verse" was published.
"Shakespeare and His Forerunners" resulted from his work with his
classes in Elizabethan Poetry. "The English Novel" is the course of
lectures on "Personality Illustrated by the Development of Fiction,"
delivered at Johns Hopkins University in the winter of 1880-'81. As we
read the printed work in its depth and strength, we do not realize
that his wife took the notes from his whispered dictation, and that
his auditors as they listened trembled lest, with each sentence, that
deep musical voice should fall on eternal silence. All this while he
had been working at lectures and boys' books, when, as he said, "a
thousand songs are singing in my heart that will certainly kill me if
I do not utter them soon." One of the thousand, "Sunrise," he uttered
with a temperature of 104 degrees burning out his life, but it is full
of the rapture of the dawn.

To the pines of North Carolina the poet was taken, in the hope that
they might give him of their strength. But the wind-song through their
swaying branches lulled him to his last earthly sleep. On the 7th of
September the narrow stream of his earthly existence broadened and
deepened and flowed triumphantly into the great ocean of Eternal Life.



"THE POET OF THE PINES"

PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE


"Why are not your countrymen all poets, surrounded as they are by
beautiful things to inspire them?" I asked a young Swiss.

"Because," he replied, "my people are so accustomed to beauty that it
has no influence upon them."

They had never known anything but beauty: there were no sharp
contrasts to clash, flint-like, and strike out sparks of divine fire.

Had the beauty of old Charleston produced the same negative effect,
Southern literature would have suffered a distinct loss--if that may
be regarded as lost which has never been possessed. For centuries the
Queen of the Sea stood in a vision of splendor, the tumultuous waves
of the Atlantic dashing at her feet, eternal sunshine crowning her
royal brow. Her gardens were stately with oleanders and pomegranates,
brilliant with jonquils and hyacinths, myrtle and gardenia. Roses of
the olden time, Lancaster and York and the sweet pink cinnamon,
breathed the fragrance of days long past. The hills that environed her
were snowy with Cherokee roses and odorous with jasmine and
honeysuckle. Her people dwelt in mansions in the corridors of which
ancestral ghosts from Colonial days kept guard.

In old Charleston that goes back in history almost a century before
the Revolution and extends to the opening of the Sixties--the old
Queen City by the Sea, which now few are left to remember--was a
circle of congenial creative souls just before the first shot at Fort
Sumter heralded the destruction of the old-time life of the Colonial
city. William Gilmore Simms was the head and mentor of the brilliant
little band, and the much younger men, Paul Hamilton Hayne and Henry
Timrod, were the fiery souls that gave it the mental electricity
necessary to furnish the motive power. Through all the coming days of
trial and hardship, of aspiration and defeat, of watching from the
towers of high achievement or lying prone in the valley of failure,
not one of that little circle ever lost the golden memory of those
magic evenings in the home of the novelist and poet, the thinker and
dreamer, William Gilmore Simms, the intellectual father of them all.

At that time in the old city was another picturesque home that harked
back to Colonial days--stately, veranda-circled, surrounded by that
fascinating atmosphere of history and poetry known to those old
dwellings alone of all the structures of the New World: the home of
the Southern poet of Nature, Paul Hamilton Hayne. Its many-windowed
front looked cheerfully out upon a wide lawn radiant with flowers of
bygone fashion, loved by the poets of olden times, and bright with the
greenery that kept perpetual summer around the historic dwelling. This
beautiful pre-Revolutionary home was burned in the bombardment of
Charleston, and with it was destroyed the library that had been the
pride of the poet's heart.

In this old home the Poet of the Pines was born of a family that
looked back to the opening days of the eighteenth century, when
Charleston was young, glowing with the beauty of her birth into the
forests of the New World, wearing proudly the tiara of her loyalty to
King and Crown. Looking back along the road that stretched between the
first Hayne, who helped to make of the old city a memory to be
cherished on the page of history and a picture on the canvas of the
present to awaken admiration, and the young soul that looked with
poetic vision on the beginning of the new era, one sees a long
succession of brilliant names and powerful figures.

Paul Hayne was the great-grand-nephew of "the Martyr Hayne," who has
given to Charleston her only authentic ghost-story, the scene of which
was a brick dwelling which stood till 1896 at the corner of Atlantic
and Meeting Streets. Colonel Isaac H. Hayne, a soldier of the
Revolution, secured a parole, that he might be with his dying wife.
While on parole he was ordered to fight against his country. Rather
than be forced to the crime of treason, he broke his parole, was
captured and condemned to death. From her beautiful, mahogany-panelled
drawing-room in that old home where the two streets cross, his
sister-in-law, who had gone with his two little children to plead for
his life, watched as he passed on his way from the vault of the old
Custom House, used then as a prison, to the gallows. "Return, return
to us!" she called in an agony of grief. As he walked on he replied,
"If I can I will." It is said that his old negro mammy, to whom he was
always "my chile," ran out to the gate with the playthings she had
fondly cherished since the days when they were to him irresistible
attractions, crying, "Come back! Come back!" To both calls his heart
responded with such longing love that when the soul was released, the
old home knew the step and the voice again. Ever afterward when
eventide fell, one standing at that window would hear a ghostly voice
from the street below and steps upon the stairs and in the hall;
footsteps of one coming--never going.

Paul Hamilton Hayne's uncle, Colonel Arthur P. Hayne, fought under
Jackson at New Orleans, and was afterward United States Senator. Paul
was nephew of Robert Y. Hayne, whose career as a statesman and an
orator won for him a fame that has not faded with the years. With this
uncle, Paul found a home in his orphaned childhood.

Of his sailor father, Lieutenant Hayne, his shadowy memory takes form
in a poem, one stanza of which gives us a view of the brave seaman's
life and death:

    He perished not in conflict nor in flame,
      No laurel garland rests upon his tomb;
      Yet in stern duty's path he met his doom;
    A life heroic, though unwed to fame.

Though he pathetically mourns:

    Never in childhood have I blithely sprung
      To catch my father's voice, or climb his knee,

still

      Love limned his wavering likeness on my soul,
      Till through slow growths it waxed a perfect whole
    Of clear conceptions, brightening heart and mind.

That clear conception remained a lifelong treasure in the poet's
heart.

Through a great ancestral corridor had Paul Hamilton Hayne descended,
with soul enjewelled with all the gems of character and thought that
had sparkled in the long gallery through which he had travelled into
the earth-light.

In the school of Mr. Coates, in Charleston, he was fitted to enter
Charleston College, a plain, narrow-fronted structure with six
severely classic columns supporting the façade. It stood on the
foundation of the "old brick barracks" held by the Colonial troops
through a six-weeks siege by twelve thousand British regulars under
Sir Henry Clinton.

Hayne satisfied the hunger and thirst of his excursive and ardent mind
by browsing in the Charleston Library on Broad and Church streets. It
may be that sometimes, on his way to that friendly resort, he passed
the old house on Church Street which once sheltered General
Washington; a substantial three-storied building with ornamental
woodwork which might cause its later use as a bakery to seem out of
harmony to any but _chefs_ with high ideals of their art.

The Library of old Charleston was composed chiefly of English classics
and the literature of France in the olden time when Europe furnished
us with something more than anarchy, clothes, and bargain-counter
titles. A sample of the Young America of that early day asked an old
gentleman, "Why are you always reading that old Montaigne?" The reply
was, "Why, child, there is in this book all that a gentleman needs to
think about," with the discreet addition, "Not a book for little
girls, though." If we find in our circle of poets a certain
stateliness of style scarcely to be looked for in a somewhat new
republic that might be expected to rush pell-mell after an idea and
capture it by the sudden impact of a lusty blow, after the manner of
the minute-men catching a red-coat at Lexington; if we observe in
their writing old world expressions that woo us subtly, like the odor
of lavender from a long-closed linen chest, we may attribute it to the
fact that aristocratic old Charleston, though the first to assert her
independence of the political yoke, yet clung tenaciously to the
literary ideals of the Old World.

On Meeting Street was Apprentices' Library Hall, where Glidden led his
hearers through the intricacies of Egyptian Archæology. Here Agassiz
sometimes lectured on Zoölogy, and our youthful poet may have watched
animals from the jungle climb up the blackboard at the touch of what
would have been only a piece of chalk in any other hand, but became a
magic creative force under the guidance of that wizard of science.
Here he could have followed with Thackeray the varying fortunes and
ethic vagaries of the royal Georges. His poetic soul may have kindled
with the fire of Macready's "Hamlet" when, thinking that he was too
far down the slope of life to hark back to the days of the youthful
Dane, he proved that he still had the glow of the olden time in his
soul by reading the part as only Macready could. In this old hall he
may have looked upon the paintings which inspired him to create his
own pictures, luminous with softly tinted word-colors.

Meeting Street seems to have been named with reference to its uses,
for here, too, was the old theatre, gone long ago, where Fannie
Ellsler danced with a wavering, quivering, shimmering grace that drove
humming-birds to despair. In that theatre it may be that Paul Hayne
heard Jenny Lind fill the night with a melody which would irradiate
his soul throughout life and reproduce itself in the music-tones of
his gently cadenced verse. There the ill-fated Adrienne Lecouvreur
lived and died again in her wondrous transmigration into the soul of
the great Rachel.

When a boy, Hayne's heart may have often thrilled to the voice of the
scholarly Hugh Swinton Legare, as he made the heart of some classic
old poem live in the music of his organ-tones.

A sensitive soul surrounded by the influences of life in old
Charleston had many incentives to high and harmonious expression.

That the Queen City of the Sea did not claim the privilege of the
fickleness alleged to be incident to the feminine character is
illustrated by the fact that she had but two postmasters in seventy
years, a circumstance worthy of note "in days like these, when ev'ry
gate is thronged with suitors, all the markets overflow," and the
disbursing counter is crowded with claimants for the rewards due for
commendable activity in the campaign. One of those two was Peter
Bascot, an appointee of Washington. The other was Alfred Huger, "the
last of the Barons," who had refused to take the office in the time of
Bascot.

In old Charleston the servants were the severest sticklers for
propriety, and the butlers of the old families rivalled each other in
the loftiness of their standards. Jack, the butler of "the last of the
Barons," was wide awake to the demands of his position, and when an
old sea captain, an intimate friend of Mr. Huger, dining with the
family, asked for rice when the fish was served he was first met with
a chill silence. Thinking that he had not been heard, he repeated the
request. Jack bent and whispered to him. With a burst of laughter, the
captain said, "Judge, you have a treasure. Jack has saved me from
disgrace, from exposing my ignorance. He whispered, 'That would not
do, sir; _we_ never eats rice with fish.'"

Russell's book-shop on King Street was a favorite place of meeting for
the Club which recognized Simms as king by divine right. From these
pleasant gatherings grew the thought of giving to Charleston a medium
through which the productions of her thought might go out to the
world. In April, 1857, appeared _Russell's Magazine_, bearing the
names of Paul Hamilton Hayne and W.B. Carlisle as editors, though upon
Hayne devolved all the editorial work and much of the other writing
for the new publication. He had helped to keep alive the _Southern
Literary Messenger_ after the death of Mr. White and the departure of
Poe for other fields of labor, had assisted Richards on the _Southern
Literary Gazette_ and had been associate editor of Harvey's
_Spectator_. For Charleston had long been ambitious to become the
literary centre of the South. The object of _Russell's Magazine_ was
to uphold the cause of literature in Charleston and in the South, and
incidentally to stand by the friends of the young editor, who carried
his partisanship of William Gilmore Simms so far as to permit the
publication of a severe criticism of Dana's "Household Book of Poetry"
because it did not include any of the verse of the Circle's rugged
mentor. _Russell's_ had a brilliant and brief career, falling upon
silence in March, 1860; probably not much to the regret of Paul Hayne,
who, while too conscientious to withhold his best effort from any
enterprise that claimed him, was too distinctly a poet not to feel
somewhat like Pegasus in pound when tied down to the editorial desk.

This quiet life, in which the gentle soul of Hayne, with its delicate
sensitiveness, poetic insight, and appreciation of all beauty, found
congenial environment, soon suffered a rude interruption. As
Charleston was the first to throw off the yoke of Great Britain and
draw up a constitution which she thought adapted to independent
government, so did she first express the determination of South
Carolina to break the bonds that held her turbulent political soul in
uncongenial association.

Hayne heard the twelve-hour cannonade of Fort Sumter's hundred and
forty guns echoing over the sea, and saw the Stars and Bars flutter
above the walls of the old fort. He saw Generals Bee and Johnson come
back from Manassas, folded in the battle flag for which they had given
their lives, to lie in state in the City Hall at the marble feet of
Calhoun, the great political leader whom they had followed to the
inevitable end. General Lee was in the old town for a little while. A
man said to him, "It is difficult for so many men to abandon their
business for the war." The general replied, "Believe me, sir, the
business of this generation _is_ the war." In the spirit of this
answer Charleston met the crisis so suddenly come upon her.

All the young poet's patriotic love and inherited martial instinct
urged him to the battle, but his frail physique withheld him from the
field, and he took service as an aide on the staff of Governor
Pickens.

At the close of the war, wrecked in health, with only the memory of
his beautiful home and library left to him, with not even a piece of
the family silver remaining from the "march to the sea," Hayne went to
the pine-barrens of Georgia, eighteen miles from Augusta, to build a
new home.

When the first man and woman were sent out from their garden home, it
was not as a punishment for sin, but as an answer to their ambitious
quest for knowledge and their new-born longing for a wider life. It
was not that the gate of Eden was closed upon them; it was that the
gates of all the Edens of the world were opened for them and for the
generations of their children. One of those gates opened upon the Eden
of Copse Hill, where the poet of Nature found a home and all friendly
souls met a welcome that filled the pine-barrens with joy for them. Of
Copse Hill the poet says:

    A little apology for a dwelling was perched on the top of a
    hill overlooking in several directions hundreds of leagues of
    pine-barrens there was as yet neither garden nor inclosure near
    it; and a wilder, more desolate and savage-looking home could
    hardly have been seen east of the prairies.

What that "little apology of a dwelling" was to him is best pictured
in his own words:

    On a steep hillside, to all airs that blow,
      Open, and open to the varying sky,
      Our cottage homestead, smiling tranquilly,
    Catches morn's earliest and eve's latest glow;
    Here, far from worldly strife and pompous show,
      The peaceful seasons glide serenely by,
      Fulfil their missions and as calmly die
    As waves on quiet shores when winds are low.
    Fields, lonely paths, the one small glimmering rill
      That twinkles like a wood-fay's mirthful eye,
    Under moist bay-leaves, clouds fantastical
    That float and change at the light breeze's will,--
      To me, thus lapped in sylvan luxury,
    Are more than death of kings, or empires' fall.

Here with "the bonny brown hand" in his that was "dearer than all dear
things of earth" Paul Hayne found a life that was filled with beauty,
notwithstanding its moments of discouragement and pain. We like to
remember that always with him, helping him bear the burdens of life,
was that wifely hand of which the poet could say, "The hand which
points the path to heaven, yet makes a heaven of earth."

On sunny days he paced to and fro under the pines, the many windows of
his mind opened to the studies in light and shade and his soul attuned
to the music of the drifting winds and the whispering trees. When
Nature was in darkened mood and gave him no invitation to the open
court wherein she reigned, he walked up and down his library floor,
engrossed with some beautiful thought which, in harmonious garb of
words, would go forth and bless the world with its music.

The study, of which he wrote:

    This is my world! within these narrow walls
      I own a princely service

was perhaps as remarkable a room as any in which student ever spent
his working hours, the walls being papered wholly with cuts from
papers and periodicals. The furniture was decorated in the same way,
even to the writing desk, which was an old work bench left by some
carpenters. All had been done by the "bonny brown hands" that never
wearied in loving service.

Many of his friends made pilgrimages to the little cottage on the
hill, where they were cordially welcomed by the poet, who, happy in
his home with his wife and little son, lived among the flowers which
he tended with his own hands, surrounded by the majesty of the pines
whose

    Passion and mystery murmur through the leaves,--
      Passion and mystery touched by deathless pain,
    Whose monotone of long, low anguish grieves
      For something lost that shall not live again.

Hither came Henry Timrod, doomed to failure, loss, and early death,
but with soul eternally alive with the fires of genius. In the last
days of his sad and broken life William Gilmore Simms came to renew
old memories and recount the days when life in old Charleston was
iridescent as the waves that washed the feet of the Queen of the Sea.
Congenial spirits they were who met in that charming little study
where Paul Hayne walked "the fields of quiet Arcadies" and

    ... gleamings of the lost, heroic life
    Flashed through the gorgeous vistas of romance.

Hayne had the subtle power of touching the friendliness in the hearts
of those who were far away, as well as of the comrades who had walked
with him along the road of life. Often letters came from friends in
other lands, known to him only by that wireless intuitional telegraphy
whereby kindred souls know each other, though hands have not met nor
eyes looked into eyes. Many might voice the thought expressed by one:
"I may boast that Paul Hayne was my friend, though it was never my
good fortune to meet him." Many a soul was upheld and strengthened by
him, as was that of a man who wrote that he had been saved from
suicide by reading the "Lyric of Action." His album held autographed
photographs of many writers, among them Charles Kingsley, William
Black, and Wilkie Collins. He cherished an ivy vine sent him by
Blackmore from Westminister Abbey.

Hayne's many-windowed mind looked out upon all the phases of the
beauty of Nature. Her varied moods found in him a loving response. He
awaited her coming as the devotee at the temple gate waits for the
approach of his Divinity:

    I felt, through dim, awe-laden space,
    The coming of thy veiled face;
      And in the fragrant night's eclipse
      The kisses of thy deathless lips,
    Like strange star-pulses, throbbed through space!

Whether it is drear November and

    But winds foreboding fill the desolate night
    And die at dawning down wild woodland ways,

or in May "couched in cool shadow" he hears

    The bee-throngs murmurous in the golden fern,
    The wood-doves veiled by depths of flickering green,

for him the music of the spheres is in it all. Whether at midnight

        The moon, a ghost of her sweet self,

       *       *       *       *       *

        Creeps up the gray, funereal sky wearily, how wearily,

or morning comes "with gracious breath of sunlight," it is a part of
glorious Nature, his star-crowned Queen, his sun-clad goddess.

To no other heart has the pine forest come so near unfolding its
immemorial secret. That poet-mind was a wind-harp, and its quivering
strings echoed to every message that came from the dim old woods on
the "soft whispers of the twilight breeze," the flutterings of the
newly awakened morn or the crash of the storm. "The Dryad of the Pine"
bent "earth-yearning branches" to give him loving greeting and receive
his quick response:

    Leaning on thee, I feel the subtlest thrill
    Stir thy dusk limbs, tho' all the heavens are still,
    And 'neath thy rings of rugged fretwork mark
    What seems a heart-throb muffled in the dark.

"The imprisoned spirits of all winds that blow" echoed to his ear from
the heart of the pine-cone fallen from "the wavering height of yon
monarchal pine."

When a glorious pine, to him a living soul, falls under the axe he
hears "the wail of Dryads in their last distress."

In the greenery of his loved and loving pines, with memories happy,
though touched to tender sadness by the sorrows that had come to the
old-time group of friends, blessed with the companionship of the two
loving souls who were dearest to him of all the world, he sang the
melodies of his heart till a cold hand swept across the strings of his
wonderful harp and chilled them to silence.

In his last year of earth he was invited to deliver at Vanderbilt
University a series of lectures on poetry and literature. Before the
invitation reached him he had "fallen into that perfect peace that
waits for all."



"THE FLAME-BORN POET"

HENRY TIMROD


A writer on Southern poets heads his article on one of the most gifted
of our children of song, "Henry Timrod, the Unfortunate Singer."

At first glance the title may seem appropriate. Viewed by the standard
set up by the world, there was little of the wine of success in
Timrod's cup of life. Bitter drafts of the waters of Marah were served
to him in the iron goblet of Fate. But he lived. Of how many of the
so-called favorites of Fortune could that be said? Through the mists
of his twilit life, he caught glimpses of a sun-radiant morning of
wondrous glory.

Thirty years after Timrod's death a Northern critic, writing of the
new birth of interest in Timrod's work, said: "Time is the ideal
editor." Surely, Editor Time's blue pencil has dealt kindly with our
flame-born poet.

In Charleston, December 8, 1829, the "little blue-eyed boy" of his
father's verse first opened his eyes upon a world that would give him
all its beauty and much of its sadness, verifying the paternal
prophecy:

    And thy full share of misery
    Must fall in life on thee!

In early childhood he was destined to lose the loving father to whom
his "shouts of joy" were the sweetest strain in life's harmony.

Henry Timrod and Paul Hayne, within a month of the same age, were
seat-mates in school. Writing of him many years later, Hayne tells of
the time that Timrod made the thrilling discovery that he was a poet;
that being, perhaps, the most exciting epoch in any life. Coming into
school one morning, he showed Paul his first attempt at verse-writing,
which Hayne describes as "a ballad of stirring adventures and
sanguinary catastrophe," which he thought wonderful, the youthful
author, of course, sharing that conviction. Convictions are easy at
thirteen, even when one has not the glamour of the sea and the romance
of old Charleston to prepare the soul for their riveting.

Unfortunately, the teacher of that school thus honored by the presence
of two budding poets had not a mind attuned to poesy. Seeing the boys
communing together in violation of the rules made and provided for
school discipline, he promptly and sharply recalled them to the
subjects wisely laid down in the curriculum. Notwithstanding this
early discouragement, the youthful poet, abetted by his faithful
fellow song-bird, persevered in his erratic way, and Charleston had
the honor of being the home of one who has been regarded as the most
brilliant of Southern poets.

When Henry Timrod finished his course of study in the chilling
atmosphere in which his poetic ambition first essayed to put forth its
tender leaflets, he entered Franklin College, in Athens, the nucleus
of what is now the University of Georgia. A few years ago a visitor
saw his name in pencil on a wall of the old college. The "Toombs oak"
still stood on the college grounds, and it may be that its whispering
leaves brought to the youthful poet messages of patriotism which they
had garnered from the lips of the embryonic Georgia politician. Timrod
spent only a year in the college, quitting his studies partly because
his health failed, and partly because the family purse was not equal
to his scholastic ambition.

Returning to Charleston at a time when that city cherished the
ambition to become to the South what Boston was to the North, he
helped form the coterie of writers who followed the leadership of that
burly and sometimes burry old Mentor, William Gilmore Simms. The young
poet seems not to have been among the docile members of the flock, for
when Timrod's first volume of poems was published Hayne wrote to
Simms, requesting him to write a notice of Timrod's work, not that he
(Timrod) deserved it of Simms, but that he (Hayne) asked it of him. It
may be that Timrod's recognition of the fact that he could write
poetry and that Simms could only try to write it led to a degree of
youthful assumption which clashed with the dignity of the older man.
The Nestor of Southern literature seems not to have cherished
animosity, for he not only noticed Timrod favorably, but in after
years, when the poet's misfortunes pressed most heavily upon him, made
every possible exertion to give him practical and much needed
assistance.

Upon his return from college, Timrod, with some dim fancies concerning
a forensic career circling around the remote edges of his imagination,
entered the office of his friend, Judge Petigru. The "irrepressible
conflict" between Law and Poesy that has been waged through the
generations broke forth anew, and Timrod made the opposite choice from
that reached by Blackstone. Judging from the character of the rhythmic
composition in which the great expounder of English law took leave of
the Lyric Muse, his decision was a judicious one. Doubtless that of
our poet was equally discreet. When the Club used to gather in
Russell's book-shop on King Street, Judge Petigru and his recalcitrant
protégé had many pleasant meetings, unmarred by differences as to the
relative importance of the Rule in Shelley's Case and the flight of
Shelley's Lark.

Henry Timrod was thrust into the literary life of Charleston at a time
when that life was most full of impelling force. It was a Charleston
filled with memories quite remote from the poetry and imaginative
literature which represented life to the youthful writers. It was a
Charleston with an imposing background of history and oratory,
forensic and legislative, against which the poetry and imagination of
the new-comers glittered capriciously, like the glimmering of
fireflies against the background of night, with swift, uncertain
vividness that suggested the early extinguishing of those quivering
lamps. But the heart of Charleston was kindled with a new ambition,
and the new men brought promise of its fulfilment.

Others have given us a view of the literary life of Charleston, of her
social position, of her place in the long procession of history. To
Timrod it was left to give us martial Charleston, "girt without and
garrisoned at home," looking "from roof and spire and dome across her
tranquil bay." With him, we see her while

    Calm as that second summer which precedes
      The first fall of the snow,
    In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds
      The City bides the foe.

Through his eyes we look seaward to where

    Dark Sumter, like a battlemented cloud,
      Looms o'er the solemn deep.

We behold the Queen City of the Sea standing majestically on the
sands, the storm-clouds lowering darkly over her, the distant thunders
of war threatening her, and the pale lightnings of the coming tempest
flashing nearer,

    And down the dunes a thousand guns lie couched,
      Unseen, beside the flood--
    Like tigers in some Orient jungle crouched
      That wait and watch for blood.

We see her in those dark days before the plunge into the darkness has
been taken, as

    Meanwhile, through streets still echoing with trade,
      Walk grave and thoughtful men,
    Whose hands may one day wield the patriot's blade
      As lightly as the pen.

Thus he gives us the picture of the beautiful city of his love as

    All untroubled in her faith, she waits
      The triumph or the tomb.

Hayne said that of all who shared the suppers at the hospitable home
of Simms in Charleston none perhaps enjoyed them as vividly as Timrod.
He chooses the word that well applies to Timrod's life in all its
variations. He was vivid in all that he did. Being little of a talker,
he was always a vivid listener, and when he spoke, his words leaped
forth like a flame.

Russell's book-shop, where the Club used to spend their afternoons in
pleasant conversation and discourse of future work, was a place of
keen interest to Timrod, and when their discussions resulted in the
establishment of _Russell's Magazine_ he was one of the most
enthusiastic contributors to the ambitious publication.

While Charleston was not the place of what would be called Timrod's
most successful life, it was the scene in which he reached his highest
exemplification of Browning's definition of poetry: "A presentment of
the correspondence of the universe to the Deity, of the natural to the
spiritual, and of the actual to the ideal."

In the environments of Charleston he roamed with his
Nature-worshipping mother, who taught him the beauties of clouds and
trees and streams and flowers, the glory of the changeful pageantry of
the sky, the exquisite grace of the bird atilt on a swaying branch.
Through the glowing picture which Nature unfolded before him he looked
into the heart of the truth symbolized there and gave us messages from
woods and sky and sea. While it may be said that a poet can make his
own environment, yet he is fortunate who finds his place where nature
has done so much to fit the outward scene to the inward longing.

In Charleston he met "Katie, the Fair Saxon," brown-eyed and with

    Entangled in her golden hair
    Some English sunshine, warmth and air.

He straightway entered into the kingdom of Love, and that sunshine
made a radiance over the few years he had left to give to love and
art.

In the city of his home he answered his own "Cry to Arms" when the
"festal guns" roared out their challenge. Had his physique been as
strong as his patriotism, his sword might have rivaled his pen in
reflecting honor upon his beautiful city. Even then the seeds of
consumption had developed, and he was discharged from field service.
Still wishing to remain in the service of his country, he tried the
work of war correspondent, reaching the front just after the battle of
Shiloh. Overcome by the horrors of the retreat, he returned to
Charleston, and was soon after appointed assistant editor of the
_Daily South Carolinian_, published in Columbia. He removed to the
capital, where his prospects became bright enough to permit his
marriage to Kate Goodwin, the English girl to whom his Muse pays such
glowing tribute.

In May, 1864, Simms was in Columbia, and on his return to "Woodlands"
wrote to Hayne that Timrod was in better health and spirits than for
years, saying: "He has only to prepare a couple of dwarf essays,
making a single column, and the pleasant public is satisfied. These he
does so well that they have reason to be so. Briefly, our friend is in
a fair way to fatten and be happy."

This prosperity came to an end when the capital city fell a victim to
the fires of war, and Timrod returned to the city of his birth, where
for a time the publication of the _South Carolinian_ was continued, he
writing editorials nominally for fifteen dollars a month, practically
for exercise in facile expression, as the small stipend promised was
never paid. With the paper, he soon returned to Columbia, where after
a time he secured work in the office of Governor Orr, writing to Hayne
that twice he copied papers from ten o'clock one morning till sunrise
of the next.

With the close of the session, his work ended, and in the spring he
visited Paul Hayne at Copse Hill. Hayne says: "He found me with my
family established in a crazy wooden shanty, dignified as a cottage,
near the track of the main Georgia railroad, about sixteen miles from
Augusta." To Timrod, that "crazy wooden shanty," set in immemorial
pines and made radiant by the presence of his poet friend, was finer
than a palace. On that "windy, frowzy, barren hill," as Maurice
Thompson called it, the two old friends spent together the spring days
of '67--such days as lingered in golden beauty in the memory of one of
them and have come down to us in immortal verse.

Again in August of that year he visited Copse Hill, hoping to find
health among the pines. Of these last days Paul Hayne wrote years
later:

    In the latter summer-tide of this same year I again persuaded him
    to visit me. Ah! how sacred now, how sad and sweet, are the memories
    of that rich, clear, prodigal August of '67!

    We would rest on the hillsides, in the swaying golden shadows,
    watching together the Titanic masses of snow-white clouds which
    floated slowly and vaguely through the sky, suggesting by their
    form, whiteness, and serene motion, despite the season, flotillas
    of icebergs upon Arctic seas. Like lazzaroni we basked in the
    quiet noons, sunk into the depths of reverie, or perhaps of yet
    more "charmed sleep." Or we smoked, conversing lazily between the
    puffs,

      "Next to some pine whose antique roots just peeped
      From out the crumbling bases of the sand."

    But the evenings, with their gorgeous sunsets, "rolling down like
    a chorus" and the "gray-eyed melancholy gloaming," were the
    favorite hours of the day with him.

One of those pines was especially his own, by his love and his choice
of its shade as a resting place. Of it Paul Hayne wrote when his
friend had passed from its shadows for the last time:

    The same majestic pine is lifted high
      Against the twilight sky,
    The same low, melancholy music grieves
      Amid the topmost leaves,
    As when I watched and mused and dreamed with him
      Beneath those shadows dim.

Such dreams we can dimly imagine sometimes when we stand beneath a
glorious pine and try to translate its whisperings into words, and
watch "the last rays of sunset shimmering down, flashed like a royal
crown." Sometimes we catch glimpses of such radiant visions when we
stand in the pine shadows and think, as Hayne did so often after that
beautiful August, "Of one who comes no more." Under that stately tree
he

    Seemed to drink the sunset like strong wine
      Or, hushed in trance divine,
    Hailed the first shy and timorous glance from far
      Of evening's virgin star.

In all his years after, Paul Hayne held in his heart the picture of
his friend with head against that "mighty trunk" when

    The unquiet passion died from out his eyes,
      As lightning from stilled skies.

So through that glowing August on Copse Hill the two Southern poets
walked and talked and built their shrine to the shining Olympic
goddess to whom their lives were dedicated.

When summer had wrapped about her the purple and crimson glories of
her brilliant life and drifted into the tomb of past things, Timrod
left the friend of his heart alone with the "soft wind-angels" and
memories of "that quiet eve"

      When, deeply, thrillingly,
    He spake of lofty hopes which vanquish Death;
      And on his mortal breath
    A language of immortal meanings hung
      That fired his heart and tongue.

[Illustration: HOUSE WHERE TIMROD LIVED DURING HIS LAST YEARS
1108 Henderson Street, Columbia, S.C.]

Impelled by circumstances to leave the pines before their inspiring
breath had given him of their life, he had little strength to renew
the battle for existence, and of the sacrifice of his possessions to
which he had been forced to resort he writes to Hayne: "We have eaten
two silver pitchers, one or two dozen silver forks, several sofas,
innumerable chairs, and a huge bedstead."

We should like to think of life as flowing on serenely in that pretty
cottage on Henderson Street, Columbia, its wide front veranda crowned
with a combed roof supported by a row of white columns. In its cool
dimness we may in fancy see the nature-loving poet at eventide looking
into the greenery of a friendly tree stretching great arms lovingly to
the shadowy porch. A taller tree stands sentinel at the gate, as if to
guard the poet-soul from the world and close it around with the beauty
that it loved.

But life did not bring him any more of joy or success than he had
achieved in the long years of toil and sorrow and disappointment,
brightened by the flame of his own genius throwing upon the dark wall
of existence the pictures that imagination drew with magic hand upon
his sympathetic, ever responsive mind. On the sixth of October, after
that month of iridescent beauty on Copse Hill, came the days of which
he had written long before:

    As it purples in the zenith,
      As it brightens on the lawn,
    There's a hush of death about me,
      And a whisper, "He is gone!"

On Copse Hill, "Under the Pine," his lifelong friend stood and
sorrowfully questioned:

    O Tree! have not his poet-touch, his dreams
      So full of heavenly gleams,
    Wrought through the folded dulness of thy bark,
      And all thy nature dark
    Stirred to slow throbbings, and the fluttering fire
      Of faint, unknown desire?

Near the end of his last visit he had told Paul Hayne that he did not
wish to live to be old--"an octogenarian, far less a centenarian,
like old Parr." He hoped that he might stay until he was fifty or
fifty-five; "one hates the idea of a mummy, intellectual or physical."
If those coveted years had been added to his thirty-eight beautiful
ones, a brighter radiance might have crowned our literature. Or, would
the vision have faded away with youth?

On the seventh of October, 1867, Henry Timrod was laid to rest in
Trinity Churchyard, Columbia, beside his little Willie, "the Christmas
gift of God" that brought such divine light to the home only to leave
it in darkness when the gift was recalled before another Christmas
morn had gladdened the world. The poet's grave is marked by a shaft
erected by loving hands, but a memorial more fitting to one who so
loved the beautiful is found in the waving grasses and the fragrant
flowers that Nature spreads for her lover, and the winds of heaven
that breathe soft dirges over his lowly mound.

In Washington Square, Charleston, stands a monument erected in 1901 by
the Timrod Memorial Association of South Carolina to the memory of the
most vivid poet the South has given to the world. On the west panel is
an inscription which expresses to us the mainspring of his character:

    Through clouds and through sunshine, in peace and in war, amid
    the stress of poverty and the storms of civil strife, his soul
    never faltered and his purpose never failed. To his poetic
    mission he was faithful to the end. In life and in death he was
    "not disobedient unto the Heavenly vision."

On the panel facing the War Monument are three stanzas from his own
beautiful Ode, sung at the decoration of Confederate graves in
Magnolia Cemetery in 1867--such a little time before his passing that
it seems to have mournful, though unconscious, allusion to his own
early fall in the heat of earth's battle:

    Sleep sweetly in your humble graves;
      Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause,
    Though yet no marble column craves
      The pilgrim here to pause.

    In seeds of laurel in the earth
      The blossom of your fame is blown,
    And somewhere, waiting for its birth,
      The shaft is in the stone.

    Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
      There is no holier spot of ground
    Than where defeated valor lies,
      By mourning beauty crowned!

The shaft which the prophetic eye of Timrod saw "in the stone" was in
time revealed, and years later that other shaft, awaiting the hour for
doing homage to the poet, found the light. To-day the patriot soldiers
asleep in Magnolia, and their poet alike, have stately testimonials of
the loving memory of their people.

    [Note: The quotations from Henry Timrod found in this book are
    used by special permission of the B.F. Johnson Publishing Company,
    the authorized publishers of Timrod's Poems.]



"FATHER ABBOT"

WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS


Woodlands, near Midway, the half-way stop between Charleston and
Augusta, was a little kingdom of itself in the years of its greatness
when William Gilmore Simms was monarch of the fair domain. It was far
from being a monastery, though its master was known as "Father Abbot."
The title had clung to him from the pseudonym under which he had
written a series of letters to a New York paper, upholding the view
that Charlestonians should not go north on health-seeking vacations
when they had better places nearer home, mentioning Sullivan's Island
where the hospitable Fort Moultrie officers "were good hands at
drawing a cork." Of course, he meant a trigger.

Rather was Woodlands a bit of enchanted forest cut from an old
black-letter legend, in which one half expected to meet mediæval knights
on foaming steeds--every-day folk ride jogging horses--threading their
way through the mysterious forest aisles in search of those romantic
adventures which were necessary to give knights of that period an
excuse for existence. It chanced, however, that the only knights known
to Woodlands were the old-time friends of its master and the youthful
writers who looked to "Father Abbot" for literary guidance.

Having welcomed his guests with the warmth and urbanity which made him
a most enjoyable comrade, Father Abbot would disperse them to seek
entertainment after the manner agreeable to them. For the followers of
old Isaac Walton there was prime fishing in the Edisto River, that
"sweet little river" that ripples melodiously through "Father Abbot's"
pages. To hunters the forest offered thrilling occupation. For the
pleasure rider smooth, white, sandy bridle-paths led in silvery curves
through forests of oak or pine to the most delightful of Nowheres.

[Illustration: WOODLANDS, THE HOME OF WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS
By courtesy of D. Appleton & Company]

Having put each guest into the line of his fancy, the master of
Woodlands would betake himself to his library to write his thirty
pages, the daily stint he demanded from the loom of his imagination.
Sometimes he had a companion in Paul Hayne who, not so much given to
outdoor life as many of the frequenters of Woodlands, liked to sit in
the library, weaving some poetic vision of his own or watching the
flight of the tireless pen across the page.

By and by the pen would drop upon the desk, its task finished for that
morning, and the worker would look up with an air of surprise at
becoming aware of his companion and say: "Near dinner time, old boy.
What do you say to a sherry and soda?" As there was only one thing to
be said to a sherry and soda, this was the signal for repairing to the
dining room. By the time the sherry and soda sparkled hospitable
welcome the sportsmen returned and after doing justice to the genius
of the host in mixed drinks, they were seated around a generous table,
most of the good things with which it was laden having come from the
waters and fields and vines of Woodlands. For if a world-wide war had
closed all the harbors of earth Woodlands could still have offered
luxurious banquets to its guests. The host beguiled the time with
anecdotes, of which he had an unfailing store that never lost a point
in his telling, or declaimed poetry, of which his retentive memory
held an inexhaustible collection.

The feast was followed by cigars, Simms having begun to smoke of late
years to discourage a tendency to stoutness. Then all would join in
the diversions of the afternoon, which sometimes led to the "Edge of
the Swamp," a gruesome place which the poet of Woodlands had
celebrated in his verse. Here

                   Cypresses,
    Each a great, ghastly giant, eld and gray
    Stride o'er the dusk, dank tract.

Around the sombre cypress trees coiled

                 Fantastic vines
  That swing like monstrous serpents in the sun.

There are living snakes in the swamp, yet more terrifying than the
viny serpents that circle the cypresses, and

    The steel-jaw'd cayman from his grassy slope
    Slides silent to the slimy, green abode
    Which is his province.

Now and then a bit of sunny, poetic life touches upon the gloomy place,
for

                       See! a butterfly
    That, travelling all the day, has counted climes
    Only by flowers ...
    Lights on the monster's brow.

An insecure perch for the radiant wanderer. The inhospitable saurian
dives with embarrassing suddenness and dips the airy visitor into the
"rank water." The butterfly finds no charm in the gloomy place and
flies away, which less ethereal wanderers might likewise be fain to
do. Now and then the stillness that reigned over that home of malign
things was broken by the sound of a boat-horn on a lumber raft
floating down the Edisto.

A song written by Simms chants the charms of a grapevine swing in the
festoons of which half a dozen guests could be seated at once, all on
different levels, book in one hand, leaving the other free to reach up
and gather the clusters of grapes as they read. After supper they sat
on the portico, from which they looked through a leafy archway formed
by the meeting of the branches of magnificent trees, and discussed
literature and metaphysics.

The Christmas guests at Woodlands would be awakened in early morning
by the sound of voice and banjo and, looking from their windows, could
see the master distributing gifts to his seventy dusky servitors. In
the evenings host and guests met in the spacious dining room where
Simms would brew a punch of unparalleled excellence, he being as
famous for the concoction of that form of gayety as was his friend,
Jamison, down the river, for the evolution of the festive cocktail.

Life flowed on pleasantly at Woodlands from October till May in those
idyllic years before death had made a graveyard of the old home and
fire had swept away the beautiful mansion.

William Gilmore Simms first opened his eyes upon the world of men in
Charleston, at a time when to be properly born in Charleston meant to
be born to the purple. William Gilmore, alas! did not inherit that
imperial color. He sprang from the good red earth, whence comes the
vigor of humanity, and dwelt in the rugged atmosphere of toil which
the Charleston eye could never penetrate. Politically, the City by the
Sea led the van in the hosts of Democracy; ethically, she remained far
in the rear with the Divine Right of Kings and the Thirty-Nine
Articles of Aristocracy.

So Charleston took little note of the boy whose father failed in trade
and fared forth to fight British and Indians under Old Hickory and to
wander in that far Southwest known as Mississippi to ascertain whether
that remote frontier might offer a livelihood to the unfortunate. The
small William Gilmore, left in the care of his grandmother, was
apprenticed to a druggist and became a familiar figure on the streets
of Charleston as he came and went on his round of errands. Small
wonder that the Queen of the Sea, having swallowed his pills and
powders in those early days, had little taste for his literary output
in after years.

In Charleston he not only learned the drug business, but took his
first course in the useful art of deception, reading and writing
verses by the light of a candle concealed in a box, to hide its rays
from his thrifty grandmother, who was adverse not only to the waste of
candles but to the squandering of good sleep-time.

Fortunately, she had no objection to furnishing him with entertainment
in off hours. For the material of much of his work in after life was
he indebted to the war stories and ancient traditions that she told
her eager little grandson in those 'prentice days. But for her olden
tales, the romances of Revolutionary South Carolina and the shivery
fascination of "Dismal Castle" might have been unknown to future
readers.

All the region around Charleston, so rich in historic memories, was an
inspiration to the future romance writer. The aged trees festooned
with heavy gray moss lent him visions of the past to reappear in many
a volume. In his boat in Charleston harbor, and on the sands looking
out over the ocean, he gathered that collection of sea pictures which
adorned his prose and verse in the years to come.

Over on Morris Island glowed the Charleston light, "the pale,
star-like beacon, set by the guardian civilization on the edges of the
great deep." Lying on the shore he watched "the swarthy beauty, Night,
enveloped in dark mantle, passing with all her train of starry
servitors; even as some queenly mourner, followed by legions of gay
and brilliant courtiers, glides slowly and mournfully in sad state and
solemnity on a duteous pilgrimage to some holy shrine." He saw "over
the watery waste that sad, sweet, doubtful light, such as Spenser
describes in the cathedral wood: 'A little glooming light, most like a
shade.'" Drifting about in his boat he might pass Long Island, where
in 1776 the ocean herself fought for Charleston, interposing an
impassable barrier to the advance of Sir Henry Clinton.

While sea and shore and sky and earth were giving him of their best,
his father came back with innumerable stories of adventure that would
of themselves have set up a young romancer in business. Having talked
his mind dry of experiences he returned to Mississippi to make another
collection of thrilling tales, leaving William Gilmore, Jr., with a
mental outlook upon life which the glories of Charleston could never
have opened to him.

Drugs, considered as a lifelong pursuit, did not appeal to the youth
who had been writing verses ever since he had arrived at the age of
eight years and now held a place in the poet's corner of a Charleston
paper. He went into the law office of his friend, Charles E. Carroll,
where his perusal of Blackstone was interspersed with reading poetry
and writing Byronic verses.

While thus variously engaged he received an invitation to visit his
father in the wilds of Mississippi, a call to which his adventurous
spirit gave willing response. Were there not Indians and other wild
things and the choicest assortment of the odds and ends of humanity
out there, just waiting to be made useful as material for the pen of
an ambitious romancer? Through untrodden forests he rode in a silence
broken only by his horse's feet and the howl of wolves in the
distance. To all the new views of the world he kept open the windows
of his mind and they were transmitted to his readers in the years to
come. If he did not sleep with head pillowed upon the grave of one of
De Soto's faithful followers, he at least thought he did, and the
fancy served him as the theme of verse. And those varying types of
human nature and beast nature--do they not all appear again upon the
printed page?

When the end of his visit came his father pleaded:

"Do not think of Charleston. Whatever your talents they will there be
poured out like water on the sands. Charleston! I know it only as a
place of tombs."

There came a time when he, too, knew it only as a place of tombs. Just
now he knew it as the home of the Only Girl in the world, so--what was
the use? And then, Charleston is born into the blood of all her sons,
whether she recognizes them or not. It is better to be a door-keeper
in Charleston than to dwell in the most gorgeous tents of outside
barbarians. So he who was born to the Queen City would hang on to the
remotest hem of her trailing robe at the imminent risk of having his
brains dashed out on the cobble-stones as she swept along her royal
way, rather than sit comfortably upon velvet-cushioned thrones in a
place unknown to her regal presence. Simms came back to his native
city with her "unsociable houses which rose behind walls, shutting in
beautiful gardens that it would have been a sacrilege to let the
public enjoy."

Soon after his return he was admitted to the bar and proved his
forensic prowess by earning $600 in the first year of his practice, a
degree of success which enabled him to unite his destiny with that of
the Only Girl, and begin housekeeping in Summerville, a suburban
village where living was cheap. For, though "Love gives itself and is
not bought," there are other essentials of existence which are not so
lavish with themselves.

The pen-fever had seized upon Simms with great virulence and he
followed his fate. Soon after his return from Mississippi, General
Charles Coates Pinckney died and Simms wrote the memorial poem for
him. When LaFayette visited Charleston the pen of Simms was called
upon to do suitable honor to the great occasion. Such periodical
attacks naturally resulted in a chronic condition. Charleston was the
scene of his brief, though not wholly unsuccessful, career as a
play-wright. In Charleston he edited the _Daily Gazette_ in the
exciting tunes of Nullification, taking with all the strength that was
in him the unpopular side of the burning question. In the doorway of
the Gazette office he stood defiantly as the procession of Nullifiers
came down the street, evidently with hostile intentions toward the
belligerent editor. Seeing his courageous attitude the enthusiasts
became good-natured and contented themselves with marching by, giving
three cheers for their cause.

In that famous bookshop, Russell's, on King Street he was accustomed
to meet in the afternoons with the youthful writers who looked upon
him as their natural born leader. In his "Wigwam," as he called his
Charleston home, he welcomed his followers to evenings of brightness
that were like stars in their memory through many after years of
darkness. When he made his home at Woodlands he often came to the
"Wigwam" to spend a night, calling his young disciples in for an
evening of entertainment. His powerful voice would be heard ringing
out in oratory and declamation so that neighbors blocks away would say
to Hayne or Timrod next morning, "I noticed that you had Simms with
you last night." In 1860 the "Wigwam" was accidentally burned.

At Woodlands, Simms awaited the coming of the war which he had
predicted for a number of years. There he was when the battle of
Fredericksburg filled him with triumphant joy, and he saw in fancy
"Peace with her beautiful rainbow plucked from the bosom of the storm
and spread from east to west, from north to south, over all the sunny
plains and snowy heights." Unfortunately, his radiant fancy wrought in
baseless visions and the fires of the storm had burned away that
brilliant rainbow before Peace came, as a mourning dove with shadowy
wings hovering over a Nation's grave.

In May, 1864, Simms went to Columbia and was there when the town was
destroyed by fire, the house in which he was staying being saved by
his presence therein. "You belong to the whole Union," said an
officer, placing a guard around the dwelling to protect the sturdy
writer who counted his friends all over the Nation. He said to friends
who sympathized with him over his losses, "Talk not to me about my
losses when the State is lost."

Simms describes the streets of Columbia as "wide and greatly protected
by umbrageous trees set in regular order, which during the vernal
season confer upon the city one of its most beautiful features."

The _Daily South Carolinian_ was sent to Charleston to save it from
destruction. Its editors, Julian Selby and Henry Timrod, remained in
the office on the south side of Washington Street near Main, where
they prepared and sent out a daily bulletin while bomb-shells fell
around them, until their labors were ended by the burning of the
building.

From the ashes of the _Carolinian_ arose the _Phoenix_ and Simms was
its editor through its somewhat brief existence. Selby relates that
Simms offended General Hartwell and was summoned to trial at the
General's headquarters on the corner of Bull and Gervais Streets. The
result of the trial was an invitation for the defendant to a sumptuous
luncheon and a ride home in the General's carriage accompanied by a
basket of champagne and other good things. The next day the General
told a friend that if Mr. Simms was a specimen of a South Carolina
gentleman he would not again enter into a tilt with one. "He outtalked
me, out-drank me, and very clearly and politely showed me that I
lacked proper respect for the aged."

The _Phoenix_ promptly sank back into its ashes and Simms returned to
Charleston to a life of toil and struggle, not only for his own
livelihood but to help others bear the burden of existence that was
very heavy in Charleston immediately succeeding the war. Timrod wrote
to him, "Somehow or other, you always magnetize me on to a little
strength."

In 1866 Simms visited Paul Hayne at Copse Hill, the shrine to which
many footsteps were turned in the days when the poet and his little
family made life beautiful on that pine-clad summit. Hayne welcomed
his guest with joy and with sorrow--joy to behold again the face of
his old friend; sorrow to see it lined with the pain and losses of the
years.

Of all their old circle, Simms was the one whose wreck was the most
disastrous. He had possessed so many of the things which make life
desirable that his loss had left him as the storm leaves the ruined
ship which, in the days of its magnificence, had ridden the waves with
the greatest pride. The fortnight in Copse Hill was the first relief
from toil that had come to him since death and fire and defeat had
done their worst upon him. His biographer says, "He was as eager as
ever to pass the night in profitless, though pleasant, discussions
when he should have been trying to regain his strength through sleep."
To a later visitor Paul Hayne showed a cherished pine log on which
were inscribed the names of Simms and Timrod.

Upon the return of Simms he wrote to his friend at Copse Hill that no
language could describe the suffering of Charleston. He said that the
picture of Irving, given him by Hayne, served a useful purpose in
helping to cover the bomb-shell holes still in his walls. "For the
last three years," he writes, "I have written till two in the morning.
Does not this look like suicide?" He mentions the fact that he shares
with his two sons his room in which he sleeps, works, writes and
studies, and is "cabin'd, cribbed, confined"--"I who have had such
ample range before, with a dozen rooms and a house range for walking,
in bad weather, of 134 feet." The old days were very fair as seen
through the heavy clouds that had gathered around the Master of
Woodlands.

In 1870, June 11th, the bell of Saint Michael's tolled the message
that Charleston's most distinguished son had passed away. His funeral
was in Saint Paul's. He was buried in Magnolia Cemetery, at the
dedication of which twenty-one years earlier he had read the
dedication poem. The stone above him bears simply the name, "Simms."

On the Battery in Charleston a monument commemorates the broken life
of one who gave of his best to the city of his home and his love.
Verily might he say: I asked for bread and you gave me a stone.



"UNCLE REMUS"

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS


Seeing the name of Joel Chandler Harris, many people might have to
stop and reflect a moment before recalling exactly what claim that
gentleman had upon the attention of the reader. "Uncle Remus" brings
before the mind at once a whole world of sunlight and fun, with not a
few grains of wisdom planted here and there. The good old fun-loving
Uncle has put many a rose and never a thorn into life's flower-garden.

Being in Atlanta some years ago, when Mr. Harris was on the editorial
staff of the _Constitution_, I called up the office and asked if I
might speak to him. The gentleman who answered my call replied that
Mr. Harris was not in, adding the information that if he were he would
not talk through the telephone. I asked what time I should be likely
to find him in the office.

"He will be in this afternoon, but I fear that he would not see you if
you were the angel Gabriel," was the discouraging reply.

"I am not the angel Gabriel," I said. "Tell him that I am a lady--Mrs.
Pickett--and that I should like very much to see him."

"If you are a lady, and Mrs. Pickett, I fear that he will vanish and
never be found again."

Notwithstanding the discouragements, I was permitted to call that
afternoon in the hope that the obdurate Uncle Remus might graciously
consent to see me. I found him in his office in the top story of the
building, an appropriate place to avoid being run to covert by the
public, but inconvenient because of the embarrassment which might
result from dropping out of the window if he should have the
misfortune to be cornered. To say that I was received might be
throwing too much of a glamour over the situation. At least, I was not
summarily ejected, nor treated to a dissolving view of Uncle Remus
disappearing in the distance, so I considered myself fortunate. I told
him that I had called up by telephone that morning to speak to him.

"I never talk through the telephone," he said. "I do not like to talk
in a hole. I look into a man's eyes when I talk to him."

When Uncle Remus was fairly run to earth and could not escape, he was
quite human in his attitude toward his caller; his only fault being
that he was prone to talk of his visitor's work rather than his own,
and a question that would seem to lead up to any personal revelation
on his part would result in so strong an indication of a desire for
flight that the conversation would be directed long distances away
from Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. He was a born story-teller, and
had not the made author's owl-like propensity to perch upon high
places and hoot his wisdom to the passing crowd. The expression
"literary" as applied to him filled him with surprise. He called
himself an "accidental author"; said he had never had an opportunity
of acquiring style, and probably should not have taken advantage of it
if he had. He was always as much astonished by his success as other
people are by their failures.

       *       *       *       *       *

I met him once at a Confederate reunion in Atlanta, where I took my
little grand-children, who had been brought up on Uncle Remus, to see
him. Having heard their beauty praised, he cautioned them not to think
too much of their looks, telling them that appearance was of little
consequence. He gave each of them a coin, saying, "I don't believe in
giving money to boys; I believe in their working for it."

"Well," said little George, "haven't we earned it listening to Uncle
Remus?"

"If that is so, I'm afraid I haven't money enough to pay you what I
owe you."

He was at ease and natural and like other people with children. He
invited them to come to his farm and see the flowers and trees,
telling them how his home received the name of "The Wren's Nest." As
he sat one morning on the veranda, he saw a wren building a nest on
his letter-box by the gate. When the postman came he went out and
asked him to deliver the mail at the door, to avoid disturbing Madam
Wren's preparations for housekeeping. The postman was faithful, and
the Wren family had a prosperous and happy home.

"You must never steal an egg from a nest," he told the boys. Curving
one hand into an imitation nest holding an imaginary egg, he hovered
over it with the other hand, rubbing it gently, explaining to the
boys, who watched him with absorbing interest, how the egg would
change to a beautiful fluff of feathers and music, and after a while
would fly away among the trees and fill the woods with sweet sounds.
"If you destroy the egg, you kill all that beauty and music, and there
will be no little bird to sit on the tree and sing to you." The boys
assured him that they had never taken an egg, nor even so much as
looked into the nest, because some birds will leave their nests if you
just look into them.

At the reception given to Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Stuart, Winnie Davis, and
myself, Mr. Harris was invited to stand in line, but declined. It
would be difficult to imagine him as standing with a receiving party,
shaking hands with the public. He was asked to speak, but that was
even less to be expected. The nearest he ever came to making a speech
was once when he sat upon the platform while his friend, Henry O.
Grady, was addressing a large assemblage with all that eloquence for
which he was noted. When he had finished, the call for "Harris" came
with great volume and persistency. He arose and said, "I am coming,"
walked down from the platform and was lost in the crowd.

[Illustration: JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
At Home]

Uncle Remus wrote his stories at "Snap Bean Farm," in West End, a
suburb of Atlanta. They filled his evenings with pleasure after the
office grind was over. If no one but himself had ever seen them, he
would have been as happy in the work as he was when the public was
delighting in the adventures of Br'er Wolf and Br'er B'ar. In that
cosy home the early evening was given to the children, and the later
hours to recording the tales which had amused them through the
twilight.

A home it was, not only to him but to all who came in friendship to
see him in his quiet retreat. There was no room in it for those whom
curiosity brought there to see the man of letters or to do honor to a
lion. The lionizing of Uncle Remus was the one ambition impossible of
achievement in the literary world. For everything else that touched
upon the human, the vine-embowered, tree-shaded house on Gordon Street
opened hospitable doors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton, the county-seat of Putnam
County, Georgia, and in his early days attended the Eatonton Academy,
where he received all the academic training he ever had. His vitally
helpful education was gained in the wider and deeper school of life,
and few have been graduated therefrom with greater honors.

At six years of age he had the good fortune to encounter "The Vicar of
Wakefield," than whom, it is safe to assert, no boy of such tender
years had ever a better and more inspiring friend. This beloved
clerical gentleman led young Joel into a charmed land of literature,
in which he dwelt all his life.

In the post-office at Eatonton was an old green sofa, very much the
worse for wear, which yet offered a comfortable lounging place for the
boy Joel, adapted to his kittenish taste for curling up in quiet
retreats. There he would spend hours in reading the newspapers that
came to the office. In one of them he found an announcement of a new
periodical to be published by Colonel Turner on his plantation nine
miles from Eatonton. In connection with this announcement was an
advertisement for an office boy. It occurred to the future "Uncle
Remus," then twelve years old, that this might open a way for him. He
wrote to Colonel Turner, and a few days later the Colonel drove up to
town to take the unknown boy to his plantation. So beside the editor
Joel Chandler Harris rode to the office of the _Countryman_ and to his
happy destiny. It has been said that but for the Turner plantation
there would have been no Uncle Remus, but what would have become of
the possibilities of that good old darky if the little Joel had not
enjoyed the acquaintance of a good-natured post-master who permitted
him to occupy the old green sofa and browse among the second-class
mail of the Eatonton community?

Surely there was never a better school for the development of a
budding author than the office of the _Countryman_, and the
well-selected library in the home of its editor, and the great
wildwood that environed the plantation.

Best of all, there were the "quarters," where "Uncle Remus" conducted
a whole university of history and zoölogy and philosophy and ethics
and laughter and tears. Down in the cabins at night the printer's boy
would sit and drink in such stores of wit and wisdom as could not lie
unexpressed in his facile mind, and the world is the richer for every
moment he spent in that primitive, child-mind community, with its
ancient traditions that made it one with the beginning of time.

At times he joined a 'coon hunt, and with a gang of boys and a pack of
hounds chased the elusive little animal through the night, returning
home triumphant in the dawn. He hunted rabbits in the woods, and,
maybe, became acquainted with the character of the original Br'er
Rabbit from his descendants in the old plantation forest.

From the window near which his type-case stood he saw the squirrels
scampering over trees and roofs, heard the birds singing in the
branches, caught dissolving views of Br'er Fox flitting across the
garden path, and breathed in beauty and romance to be exhaled later
for the enchantment of a world of readers.

In Colonel Hunter's library, selected with scholarly taste, he found
the great old English masters who had the good fortune to be born into
the language while it was yet "a well of English undefiled." In that
well he became saturated with a pure, direct, simple diction which
later contact with the tendencies of his era and the ephemeral
production of the daily press was not able to change.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the office of the _Countryman_ that Joel Chandler Harris
made his first venture into the world of print, shyly, as became one
who would afterward be known as the most modest literary man in
America. When Colonel Hunter found out the authorship of the bright
paragraphs that slipped into his paper now and then with increasing
frequency, he captured the elusive young genius and set it to work as
a regular contributor. In this periodical the young writer's first
poem appeared: a mournful lay of love and death, as a first poem
usually is, however cheerful a philosopher its author may ultimately
become.

This idyllic life soon ceased. When the tide of war rolled over
central Georgia, it swept many lives out of their accustomed paths and
destroyed many a support around which budding aspirations had wound
their tendrils. The "printer's boy" sat upon a fence on the old Turner
plantation, watching Slocum's Corps march by, and amiably receiving
the good-natured gibes and jests of the soldiers, who apparently found
something irresistibly mirth-provoking in the quaint little figure by
the wayside. Sherman was marching to the sea, and the Georgia boy was
taking his first view of the progress of war.

Among the many enterprises trampled to earth by those ruthless feet
was the _Countryman_, which survived the desolating raid but a short
time. It was years before the young journalist knew another home. For
some months he set type on the Macon _Daily Telegraph_, going from
there to New Orleans as private secretary of the editor of the
_Crescent Monthly_. When the _Crescent_ waned and disappeared from the
journalistic sky, he returned to Georgia and became editor,
compositor, pressman, mailing clerk, and entire force on the Forsyth
_Advertiser_.

A pungent editorial upon the abuses of the State government, which
appeared in the _Advertiser_, attracted the attention of Colonel W.T.
Thompson and led him to offer Mr. Harris a place on the staff of the
Savannah _Daily News_. Happily, there lived in Savannah the charming
young lady who was to be the loving centre of the pleasant home of
"Uncle Remus." The marriage took place in 1873, and Mr. Harris
remained with the _News_ until '76, when, to escape yellow fever, he
removed to Atlanta. He was soon after placed on the editorial staff of
the _Constitution_, and in its columns Uncle Remus was first
introduced to the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

In his home in West End, "Snap-Bean Farm," he lived in calm content
with his harmonious family and his intimate friends, Shakespeare and
his associates, and those yet older companions who have come down to
us from ancient Biblical times. Some of his intimates were chosen from
later writers. Among poets, he told me that Tom Moore was his most
cherished companion, the one to whom he fled for consolation in
moments of life's insufficiencies.

Mr. Harris had no objection to talking in sociable manner of other
writers, but if his visitor did not wish to see him close up like a
clam and vanish to the seclusion of an upper room it was better not to
mention Uncle Remus. Neither had he any fancy for the kind of talk
that prevails at "pink teas" and high functions of society in general.
Anything that would be appropriate to the topics introduced in such
places would never occur to him, and the vapory nothingness was so
filled with mysterious terrors for him that he fled before them in
unspeakable alarm.

[Illustration: SNAP-BEAN FARM, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
The residence of Joel Chandler Harris]

"Snap-Bean Farm" was all the world that he cared for, and here he
lived and wove his enchantments, not in his well-appointed study, as a
thoroughly balanced mind would have done, but all over the house, just
where he happened to be, preferably beside the fire after the little
ones had gone to bed, leaving memories of their youthful brightness to
make yet more glowing the flames, and waves of their warmth of soul to
linger in enchantment about the hearth.

It was a sunny, happy day when I visited "Snap-Bean Farm." A
violet-bordered walk led me to the pretty frame cottage, built upon a
terrace quite a distance from the street--a shady, woodsy, leafy,
flowery, fragrant distance--a distance that suggested infinite beauty
and melody, infinite fascination. When the home was established there,
the rumbling and clang of the trolley never broke the stillness of the
peaceful spot. A horse-car crept slowly and softly to a near-by
terminus and stopped, as if, having reached Uncle Remus and his woodsy
home, there could be nothing beyond worth the effort. There were wide
reaches of pine-woods, holding illimitable possibilities of romance,
of legend, of wildwood and wild-folk tradition. It was a country home
in the beginning, and it remained a country home, regardless of the
outstretching of the city's influences. Joel Chandler Harris had a
country soul, and if he had been set down in the heart of a metropolis
his home would have stretched out into mystic distances of greenery
and surrounded itself with a limitless reach of cool, vibrant, amber
atmosphere, and looked out upon a colorful and fragrant wilderness of
flowers, and he would have dwelt in the solitudes that God made.

As I walked, a fragrance wrapped me around as with a veil of radiant
mist. It came straight from the heart of his many-varied roses that
claimed much of his time and care. The shadow of two great cedar trees
reached protecting arms after me as I went up to the steps of the
cottage hidden away in a green and purple and golden and pink tangle
of bloom and sweet odors; ivy and wistaria and jasmine and
honeysuckle. Beside the steps grew some of his special pet roses.
Their glowing and fragrant presence sometimes afforded him a congenial
topic of discourse when a guest chanced to approach too closely the
subject of the literary work of the host, if one may use the term in
connection with a writer who so constantly disclaimed any approach to
literature, and so persistently declined to take himself seriously.

In the front yard was a swing that appealed to me reminiscently with
the force of the olden days when I had a swing of my very own. As I
"let the old cat die," we talked of James Whitcomb Riley's poem,
"Waitin' fer the Cat to Die," and Mr. Harris told me of the visit
Riley had made to him not long before. Two men with such cheerful
views of life could not but be congenial, and it was apparent that the
visit had brought joy to them both.

I did not see the three dogs and seven cats--mystic numbers!--but felt
confident that my genial host could not have been satisfied with any
less.

The charmed circle in which Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit shone as social
stars is yet with us, and we shall not let it go out from our lives.
The mystic childhood of a dim, mysterious race is brought to us
through these beings that have come to us from the olden time "when
animals talked like people."

"The Sign of the Wren's Nest" is peopled by these legendary forms with
their never-dying souls. They lurk in every corner and peer out from
every crevice. They hide behind the trees, and sometimes in the
moonlight we see them looking out at us as we walk along the path.
They crouch among interlacing vines and look at us through the lacy
screen with eyes in which slumber the traditions of the ages.

We look for the Magician who, with a wave of the hand, made all these
to live and move before us. We know he must be there. We "cannot make
him dead"; but he can make himself and us alive in the life of the
past. A little door, with one shutter of Memory and one of Faith,
opens before us, and he comes to dwell again in the world which he
created in "The Sign of the Wren's Nest."



"THE POET OF THE FLAG"

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY


Away back in the years, Terra Rubra, the colonial home of John Ross
Key, spread out broad acres under the sky of Maryland, in the northern
part of Frederick County. Girt by noble trees, the old mansion, built
of brick that came from England in the days when the New World yet
remained in ignorance of the wealth of her natural and industrial
resources, stood in the middle of the spacious lawn which afforded a
beautiful playground for little Francis Scott Key and his young
sister, who lived here the ideal home life of love and happiness.
Among the flowers of the terraced garden they learned the first
lessons of beauty and sweetness and the triumph of growth and
blossoming. At a short distance was a dense line of forest, luring the
young feet into tangled wildernesses of greenery and the colorful
beauty of wild flowers in summer, and lifting great gray arms in
solemn majesty against the dun skies of winter. Through it flowed the
rippling silver of Pipe Creek on its sparkling way to the sea. At the
foot of a grassy slope a spring offered draughts of the clear pure
water which is said to be the only drink for one who would write epics
or live an epic. Beyond a wide expanse of wind-blown grass the young
eyes saw the variant gray and purple tints of the Catoctin Mountains,
showing mystic changes in the floodtide of day or losing themselves in
the crimson and gold sea of sunset.

In this stately, old, many-verandaed home, looking across nearly three
thousand acres of fertile land as if with a proud sense of lordship,
the wide-browed, poet-faced boy with the beautiful dreamy eyes and the
line of genius between his delicately arched brows passed the golden
years of his childhood.

It is said that President Washington once went to Terra Rubra to visit
his old friend. General John Ross Key, of Revolutionary fame. It may
be that the venerated hand of the "Father of His Country"--the hand
that had so resolutely put away all selfish ambitions and had reached
out only for good things to bestow upon his people and his nation--was
laid in blessing upon the bright young head of little Francis Scott
Key, helping to plant in the youthful heart the seed that afterward
blossomed into the thought which he expressed many years later:

    I have said that patriotism is the preserving virtue of Republics.
    Let this virtue wither and selfish ambition assume its place as
    the motive for action, and the Republic is lost.

    Here, my countrymen, is the sole ground of danger.

Seven miles from Annapolis, where the Severn River flows into Round
Bay, stands Belvoir, a spacious manor-house with sixteen-inch walls,
in which are great windows reaching down to the polished oak floor. In
this home of Francis Key, his grandfather, the young Francis Scott Key
spent a part of the time of his tutelage, preparing for entrance into
St. John's College, the stately buildings of which were erected by a
certain early Key, who had come to our shore to help unlock the gates
of liberty for the world.

The old college, with its historic campus, fits well into the
atmosphere of Annapolis, standing proudly in her eighteenth-century
dignity, watching the rest of the world scramble in a helter-skelter
rush for modern trivialities. Its old walls are in pleasing harmony
with the colonial mansions poised on little hillocks, from which they
look down on you with benevolent condescension and invite you to climb
the long flights of steps that lead to their very hearts, grand but
hospitable, which you do in a glow of high-pitched ambition, as if you
were scaling an arduous but fascinating intellectual height. Having
reached the summit, you stop an instant on the landing, partly for
breathing purposes, but more especially to exult a moment on the
height of triumph.

The four-storied college at the end of Prince George Street--regal
Annapolis would not be content with a street of less than royal
dignity--looks down with pleased approval on its wide expanse of green
campus, for that stretch of ground has a history that makes it worthy
of the noble building which it supports. It spread its greenery to the
view of those window-eyes decades before the Revolution, and when that
fiery torch flamed upon the country's record the college green
furnished a camping place for the freedom-loving Frenchmen who came
over the sea to help set our stars permanently into the blue of our
national sky. In 1812 American troops pitched their tents on the
famous campus, and under the waving green of its summer grasses and
the white canopy of its winter snows men who died for their country's
honor lie in their long sleep.

On the grounds east of the college buildings stands the Tulip Tree
which sheltered the first settlers of Annapolis in 1649, and may have
hidden away in the memory-cells of its stanch old heart reminiscences
of a time when a bluff old Latin sailor, with more ambition in his
soul than geography in his head, unwittingly blundered onto a New
World. Whatever may be its recollections, it has sturdily weathered
the storms of centuries, surviving the tempests hurled against it by
Nature and the poetry launched upon it by Man. It has been known by
the name of the "Treaty Tree," from a tradition that in the shade of
its branches the treaty with the Susquehannoghs was signed in 1652. In
1825 General La Fayette was entertained under its spreading boughs,
and it has since extended hospitable arms over many a patriotic
celebration.

In "the antiente citie" Francis Scott Key found many things which
appealed to his patriotic soul. On the State House hill was the old
cannon brought to Maryland by Lord Baltimore's colony and rescued from
a protracted bath in St. Mary's River to take its place among the many
relics of history which make Annapolis the repository of old stories
tinged by time and fancy with a mystic coloring of superstition. He
lived in the old "Carvel House," erected by Dr. Upton Scott on
Shipwright Street. Not far away was the "Peggy Stewart" dwelling,
overlooking the harbor where the owner of the unfortunate _Peggy
Stewart_, named for the mistress of the mansion, was forced by the
revolutionary citizens of Annapolis, perhaps incited by an
over-zealous enthusiasm but with good intentions, to burn his ship in
penalty for having paid the tax on its cargo of tea.

If Francis Key had a taste for the supernatural, there was ample
opportunity for its gratification in this haven of tradition. He may
have seen the headless man who was accustomed to walk down Green
Street to Market Space, with what intention was never divulged. Every
old house had its ghost, handed down through the generations, as
necessary a piece of furniture as the tester-bed or the sideboard.
Perhaps not all of these mysterious visitants were as quiet as the
shadowy lady of the Brice house, who would glide softly in at the hour
of gloaming and, with her head on her hand, lean against the mantel,
look sadly into the faces of the occupants of the room, and vanish
without a sound--of course, it is undeniable that Annapolis would have
only well-bred ghosts.

After graduation from St. John's, in that famous class known as the
"Tenth Legion" because of its brilliancy, Francis Scott Key studied
law in the office of his uncle, Philip Barton Key, in Annapolis, where
his special chum was Roger Brooke Taney, who persuaded him to begin
the practice of his profession in Frederick City. In 1801 the youthful
advocate opened his law office in the town from which the
Revolutionary Key had marched away to Boston to join Colonel
Washington's troops. Francis Key invited his friend to visit Terra
Rubra with him, and Mr. Taney found the old plantation home so
fascinating that many visits followed. Soon there was a wedding at
beautiful Terra Rubra, when pretty, graceful Ann Key became the wife
of the future Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

In 1802, at Annapolis, in the mahogany wainscoted drawing-room of the
old Lloyd house, built in 1772, Key was married to Mary Tayloe Lloyd.

After a few years of practice in Frederick City, Francis Scott Key
removed to Georgetown, now West Washington. Here at the foot of what
is known as M Street, but was Bridge Street in the good old days
before Georgetown had given up her picturesque street names for the
insignificant numbers and letters of Washington, half a block from the
old Aqueduct Bridge, stands a two-storied, gable-roofed,
dormer-windowed house, bearing in black letters the inscription, "The
Key Mansion." Below is the announcement that it is open to the public
from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily, excepting Sunday. On a placard between
two front doors are printed the words, "Home of Francis Scott Key,
author of The Star-Spangled Banner," the patriotic color-scheme being
shown in the white placard and blue and red lettering.

For more than a century the house has stood there, and the circling
years have sent it into remote antiquity of appearance, the storms of
time having so swept it with their winds and beaten it with their
rains and bombarded it with snow and sleet and hail as to make
difficult the realization that it was once the home of bounding,
scintillant life, and that its walls in the years gone by were radiant
with the visions and hopes and ambitions of a happy group of youthful
souls. It stands at the foot of what is now a street of shops, and the
wearing away of the decades have taken from it all suggestion of home
surroundings.

Through a door at the left I passed into a wide hall, on the walls of
which are some patriotic inscriptions. There is one, a quotation from
President McKinley, that conveys an admonition the disregard of which
leads to consequences we often have occasion to deplore: "The
vigilance of the Citizen is the safety of the Republic."

At the right of the hall are two rooms, locked now, but serving as
parlors when the sad old house was a bright, beautiful home. A steep
Colonial stairway leads to a hall on the second floor, where again
there are inscriptions on the walls to remind the visitor of his
duties as a citizen of the nation over which the Star-Spangled Banner
yet waves.

On the second floor the first sign of life appeared. A door stood
slightly ajar, and in answer to a touch a tall woman with a face of
underlying tragedy and a solitary aspect that fitted well with the
loneliness of the old house appeared and courteously invited me to
enter. She is the care-taker of the mansion, bears an aristocratic old
Virginia name, and is wrapped around with that air of gloomily
garnered memories characteristic of women who were in the heart of the
crucial period of our history. I am not surprised when she tells me
that she watched the battle of Fredericksburg from her window as she
lay ill in her room, and that she witnessed the burning of Richmond
after the surrender. I recognize the fact that life has been a harder
battle, since all her own have passed over the line and left her to
the lonely conflict, than was ever a contest in those days of war.

She tells me that the Key relics have all been taken to the Betsy Ross
house in Philadelphia. What they were she does not know, for they were
all packed in boxes when she first came to the Key mansion. The only
object left from the possessions of the man who made that old dwelling
a shrine upon which Americans of to-day ought to place offerings of
patriotism is an old frame in a small room at the end of the hall. On
the bottom of the frame is printed in large black letters the name,
Francis Scott Key. Some jagged fragments within the frame indicate
that something, either picture or flag, has been hastily and
carelessly removed.

Finding no relic of the man whose life once glorified the now dark and
gloomy house, I hold with the greater tenacity the mental picture I
have of the old flag I used to see in the National Museum. Faded,
discolored, and tattered, it is yet the most glorious piece of bunting
our country owns to-day--the flag that floated over Fort McHenry
through the fiery storm of that night of anxious vigil in which our
national anthem was born.

In this old house on Bridge Street Francis Scott Key lived when he was
Attorney for the District of Columbia, and in a small brick office
adjoining his home he did the work that placed him in the front rank
of the American bar.

St. John's Episcopal Church, not far away, where he was vestryman, has
a tablet to the memory of Reverend Johannes I. Sayrs, a former rector,
on which is an inscription by Key. In Christ Church is a memorial
window dedicated to Francis Scott Key.

"It is a pity that the old house is to be sold," said a resident of
Georgetown.

"Is it to be sold?" I asked. For a long time this fate has been
hovering over the old Key home, but I had hoped, even when there was
no hope.

"Yes," was the reply. "The ground is wanted for business buildings."

"A pity?" I said. "It is more than a pity; it is a national shame." Is
there not patriotism enough in our land to keep that shrine sacred to
historic memory?

It was from this house that Key set out September 4, 1814, to
negotiate for the release of Dr. Beanes, one of his friends, who,
after having most kindly cared for British soldiers when wounded and
helpless, was arrested and taken to the British fleet as a prisoner in
revenge for his having sent away from his door-yard some intoxicated
English soldiers who were creating disorder and confusion. Key, in
company with Colonel John S. Skinner, United States Agent for Parole
of Prisoners, arrived at Fort McHenry, on Whetstone Point, in time to
witness the effort of General Ross to make good his boast that he "did
not care if it rained militia, he would take Baltimore and make it his
winter headquarters."

They were on the ship _Surprise_, and, upon making their plea for
their captive friend, were told that he had inflicted atrocious
injuries upon British soldiers, and the Admiral had resolved to hang
him from the yard-arm. The eloquence of Mr. Key, supplemented by
letters written by British officers to Dr. Beanes, thanking him for
the many kindnesses which they had received from him, finally won
Admiral Cochrane from his vengeful decision. After the release of the
captive the Americans were not permitted to return to land, lest they
might carry information detrimental to the British cause. Thus Admiral
Cochrane, who enjoyed well-merited distinction for doing the wrong
thing, placed his unwilling guests in their own boat, the _Minden_, as
near the scene of action as possible, with due regard for their
physical safety, in order that they might suffer the mortification of
seeing their flag go down. Two hours had been assigned, in the British
mind, for the accomplishment of that beneficent result, after which
"terms for Baltimore" might be considered.

For three days Key and his companions watched the landing of nine
thousand soldiers and marines at North Point, preparatory to the
attack on the fort, which was defended by a small force of raw
militia, partly composed of the men who had been so easily defeated at
Bladensburg. They were under command of Colonel George Armistead, who
faced a court-martial if he should not win, for the Washington
administration had peremptorily ordered him to surrender the fort.

Through the long hours of the 13th Key paced the deck of his boat,
watching the battle with straining eyes and a heart that thrilled and
leaped and sank with every thunder of gun and flash of shell. The day
was calm and still, with no wind to lift the flag that drooped around
its staff over Fort McHenry. At eventide a breeze unfurled its folds,
and as it floated out a shell struck it and tore out one of its
fifteen stars.

Night fell. His companions went below to seek rest in such unquiet
slumbers as might visit them, but there was no sleep in the heart of
Key. Not until the mighty question which filled the night sky with
thunder and flame and surged in whelming billows through his own soul
found its answer in the court of Eternal Destiny could rest come to
the man who watched through the long hours of darkness, waiting for
dawn to bring triumph or despair.

Silence came--the silence that meant victory and defeat. Whose was the
victory? The night gave no answer, and the lonely man still paced up
and down the deck of the _Minden_. Then day dawned in a glory in the
east, and a glory in the heart of the anxious watcher. In that first
thrill of joy and triumph our majestic anthem was formed.

Key took from his pocket an old letter, and on its blank page
pencilled the opening lines of the song. In the boat which took him
back to Baltimore he finished the poem, and in his hotel made a copy
for the press. The next day the lines were put into type by Samuel
Sands, an apprentice in the office of the _Baltimore American_, who
had been deserted in the general rush to see the battle as being too
young to be trusted at the front, and that evening they were sung in
the Holliday Street Theatre. The next day the air was heard upon the
streets of Baltimore from every boy who had been gifted with a voice
or a whistle, and "The Star-Spangled Banner" was soon waving over the
musical domain as victoriously as it had floated from the ramparts of
Fort McHenry.

[Illustration: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
At the age of 35]

It is in the great moments of life that a man gives himself to the
world, and in the giving parts from nothing of himself, for in the
gift he but expands his own nature and keeps himself in greater
measure than before. May not he to whom our great anthem came through
the battle-storm smile pityingly upon the futile efforts of to-day to
supply a national song that shall eclipse the noble lines born of
patriotism and battle ardor and christened in flame?

Thus it was that Francis Scott Key reached the high tide of life
before the defences of the Monumental City, and to Baltimore he
returned when that tide was ebbing away, and in view of the old fort,
under the battlements of which he had fallen to unfathomable depths of
suffering and risen to immeasurable heights of triumphant joy, he
crossed the bar into the higher tide beyond. On a beautiful hill
Baltimore has erected a stately monument to the memory of the man who
linked her name with the majestic anthem which gives fitting voice to
our national hopes.

Away on the other edge of our continent, in Golden Gate Park, San
Francisco, another noble shaft tells the world that "the Star-Spangled
Banner yet waves" over all our land and knows no distinctions of
North, South, East, or West.

In Olivet Cemetery, in the old historic city of Frederick, Maryland,
is the grave of Francis Scott Key. Over it stands a marble column
supporting a statue of Key, his poet face illumined by the art of the
sculptor, his arms outstretched, his left hand bearing a scroll
inscribed with the lines of "The Star-Spangled Banner," while on the
pedestal sits Liberty, holding the flag for which those immortal lines
were written.

Thus, perpetuated in granite, the noble patriot stands, looking over
the town to which he long ago gave this message:

    But if ever, forgetful of her past and present glory, she shall
    cease to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave," and
    become the purchased possession of a company of stock-jobbers and
    speculators; if her people are to become the vassals of a great
    moneyed corporation, and to bow down to her pensioned and
    privileged nobility; if the patriots who shall dare to arraign
    her corruptions and denounce her usurpations are to be sacrificed
    upon her gilded altar,--such a country may furnish venal orators
    and presses, but the soul of national poetry will be gone. That
    muse will "never bow the knee in mammon's fane." No, the patriots
    of such a land must hide their shame in her deepest forests, and
    her bards must hang their harps upon the willows. Such a people,
    thus corrupted and degraded,

      "Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
      And, doubly dying, shall go down
      To the vile dust from whence they sprung,
      Unwept, unhonored, and unsung."



"THE POET-PRIEST"

FATHER RYAN


My first meeting with Father Ryan was at the Atlantic Hotel in
Norfolk, in which town he had spent the first seven years of his life,
his parents having emigrated from Limerick and found a home there a
short time before his birth. He has been claimed by a number of
cities, and the dates of his nativity, as assigned by biographers,
range from 1834 to 1840, 1839 being the one best established. He told
me that his early memories of his Norfolk home were especially
associated with figs and oysters, the oysters there being the largest
and finest he had ever seen, they and the figs seeming to "rhyme with
his appetite." Then he told me an oyster story:

"A negro boatman was rowing some people down the river, among them two
prominent politicians who were discussing an absent one. 'He has no
more backbone than an oyster,' said one. The boatman laughed, and
said, 'Skuse me, marsers, but if you-all gemmen don' know no mo' 'bout
politicians dan you does 'bout oyschers you don' know much. No mo'
backbone dan a oyscher! Why, oyschers has as much backbone as folks
has, en ef you cuts into 'em lengfwise a little way ter one side en
looks at 'em close you'll see dar backbone's jes' lak we all's
backbone is. De only diffunce is de oyscher's backbone is ter one
side, jes' whar it ought ter be, 'stead er in de middle. Dat's de
reason I t'ink de debbil mus' er tuck a han' en he'ped ter mek we
alls, en you know de Lord says, Let _us_ mek man; dat shows dat He
didn' do hit all by Hese'f; ef He had He'd a meked we all's backbone
ter de side whar de oyscher's is, ter pertect us, en put our shin
bones behime our legs, whar dey wouldn't all de time git skint, en put
our calfs in de front.'"

My impression of Father Ryan was of being in the presence of a great
power--something indefinable and indescribable, but invincibly sure.
He was of medium height, and his massive head seemed to bend by its
own weight, giving him a somewhat stooped appearance. His hair, brown,
with sunny glints touching it to gold, was brushed back from his wide,
high forehead, falling in curls around his pale face and over his
shoulders. I recall with especial distinctness the dimple in his chin,
a characteristic of many who have been very near to me, for which
reason it attracted my attention when appearing in a face new to me.
His eyes were his greatest beauty,--Irish blue, under gracefully
arched brows, and luminous with the sunshine that has sparkled in the
eyes of his race in all the generations, caught by looking skyward for
a light that dawned not upon earth. His expression was sad, and the
beautiful smile that illumined his face, radiating compassion,
kindness, gentleness and the humor of the Kelt, made me think of a
brilliant noontide sun shining across a grave.

We discussed Folk Lore, and he said that some of the best lessons were
taught in the Folk Lore of the plantation negro. One of his sermons
was on "Obstinacy," illustrated by a story told him by an old colored
man:

"Marser, does you know de reason dat de crab walks back'ards? Well,
hit's dis away: when de Lord wuz mekin' uv de fishes He meked de
diffunt parts en put 'em in piles, de legs in one pile, de fins in
anudder, en de haids in anudder. Do' de crab wan't no fish, He meked
hit at de same time. Afterwards He put 'em tergedder en breaved inter
'em de bref er life. He stuck all de fishes' haids on, but de crab wuz
obstreperous en he say, 'Gib me my haid; I gwine put hit on myse'f.'
De Lord argufied wid him but de crab wouldn' listen, en he say he
gwine put hit on. So de Lord gin him his haid en 'course he put hit on
back'ards. Den he went ter de Lord en ax' Him ter put hit straight,
but de Lord wouldn' do hit, en He tole him he mus' go back'ards all
his life fer his obstinacy. En so 'tis wid some people."

[Illustration: FATHER RYAN
From the portrait in Murphy's Hotel, Richmond, Virginia]

Father Ryan told me that one of the greatest obstacles with which he
had to contend in his dealings with people was the lack of ethic
sensitiveness which rendered them oblivious to the harm of deviations
from principle which seemed not to result in great evil. People who
would not steal articles of value did not hesitate to cheat in
car-fare, taking the view that the company got enough out of the
public without their small contribution. He said, "They are like two
very religious old ladies who, driving through a toll-gate, asked the
keeper the rate. Being newly appointed, he looked into his book and
read so much for a man and a horse. The woman who was driving whipped
up the horse, calling out, 'G'lang, Sally, we goes free. We are two
old maids and a mare.' On they went without paying."

When Abram Ryan was seven years old the family moved to St. Louis,
where the boy attended the schools of the Christian Brothers, in his
twelfth year entering St. Mary's Seminary, in Perry County, Missouri.
He completed his preparation for the work to which his life was
dedicated, in the Ecclesiastical Seminary at Niagara, New York. Upon
ordination he was placed in charge of a parish in Missouri.

On a boat going down the canal from Lynchburg to Lexington, where he
was a fellow-passenger with us, he met his old friend, John Wise, and
entered into conversation with him, in the course of which he made the
statement that he came from Missouri. "All the way from Pike?" quoted
Mr. Wise. "No," replied Father Ryan, "my name is _not_ Joe Bowers, I
have _no_ brother Ike," whereupon he sang the old song, "Joe Bowers,"
in a voice that would have lifted any song into the highest realms of
music.

He recited his poem, "In Memoriam," written for his brother David, who
was killed in battle, one stanza of which impressed me deeply because
of the longing love in his voice when he spoke the lines:

    Thou art sleeping, brother, sleeping
      In thy lonely battle grave;
    Shadows o'er the past are creeping,
    Death, the reaper, still is reaping,
    Years have swept and years are sweeping
    Many a memory from my keeping,
    But I'm waiting still and weeping
      For my beautiful and brave.

The readers of his poetry are touched by its pathetic beauty, but only
they who have heard his verses in the tones of his deep, musical voice
can know of the wondrous melody of his lines.

When I said to him that I wished he would write a poem on Pickett's
charge at Gettysburg, he replied:

"It has been put into poetry. Every flower that blooms on that field
is a poem far greater than I could write. There are some things too
great for me to attempt. Pickett's charge at Gettysburg is one of
them."

A lady who chanced to be on the boat with us repeated Owen Meredith's
poem of "The Portrait." At its close he said with sad earnestness, "I
am sorry to hear you recite that. Please never do it again. It is a
libel on womanhood."

It may be that he was thinking of "Ethel," the maiden whom, it is
said, he loved in his youth, from whom he parted because Heaven had
chosen them both for its own work, and his memories deepened the
sacredness with which all women were enshrined in his thought. She was
to be a nun and he a priest, and thus he tells of their parting:

    One night in mid of May their faces met
    As pure as all the stars that gazed on them.
    They met to part from themselves and the world;
    Their hearts just touched to separate and bleed;
    Their eyes were linked in look, while saddest tears
    Fell down, like rain, upon the cheeks of each:
    They were to meet no more.

The "great brown, wond'ring eyes" of the girl went with him on his way
through life, shadowed like the lights of a dim cathedral, but
luminous with love and sacrifice. How much of the story he tells in
pathetic verse was his very own perhaps no one may ever know, but the
reader feels that it was Father Ryan himself who, after "years and
years and weary years," walked alone in a place of graves and found
"in a lone corner of that resting-place" a solitary grave with its
veil of "long, sad grass" and, parting the mass of white roses that
hid the stone, beheld the name he had given the girl from whom he had
parted on that mid-May night.

    "ULLAINEE."

Those who were nearest him thought that the vein of sadness winding
through his life and his poetry was in memory of the girl who loved
and sacrificed and died. When they marvelled over the mournful minor
tones in his melodious verse he made answer:

    Go stand on the beach of the blue boundless deep,
    When the night stars are gleaming on high,
    And hear how the billows are moaning in sleep,
    On the low-lying strand by the surge-beaten steep,
    They're moaning forever wherever they sweep.
    Ask them what ails them: they never reply;
    They moan on, so sadly, but will not tell you why!
    Why does your poetry sound like a sigh?
    The waves will not answer you; neither shall I.

At the beginning of the war Father Ryan was appointed a chaplain in
the Army of Northern Virginia, but often served as a soldier. He was
in New Orleans in 1862 when an epidemic broke out, and devoted himself
to the care of the victims. Having been accused of refusing to bury a
Federal he was escorted by a file of soldiers into the presence of
General Butler, who accosted him with great sternness:

"I am told that you refused to bury a dead soldier because he was a
Yankee."

"Why," answered Father Ryan in surprise, facing the hated general
without a tremor, "I was never asked to bury him and never refused.
The fact is, General, it would give me great pleasure to bury the
whole lot of you."

Butler lay back in his arm-chair and roared with laughter. "You've got
ahead of me, Father," he said. "You may go. Good morning, Father."

One of the incidents of which Father Ryan told me occurred when
smallpox was raging in a State prison. The official chaplain had fled
and no one could be found to take his place. One day a prisoner asked
for a minister to pray for him, and Father Ryan, whose parish was not
far away, was sent for. He was in the prison before the messenger had
returned and, having been exposed to contagion, was not permitted to
leave. He remained in the prison ministering to the sick until the
epidemic had passed.

Immediately after the war he was stationed in New Orleans where he
edited _The Star_, a Roman Catholic weekly. Afterward he was in
Nashville, Clarksville, and Knoxville, and from there went to Augusta,
Georgia, where he founded and edited the "_Banner of the South_,"
which was permanently furled after having waved for a few years.

Unlike most Southern poets, Father Ryan did not take his themes from
Nature, and when her phenomena enters into his verse it is usually as
a setting for the expression of some ethic or emotional sentiment. He
has been called "the historian of a human soul," and it was in the
crises of life that his feeling claimed poetical expression. When he
heard of Lee's surrender "The Conquered Banner" drooped its mournful
folds over the heart-broken South. In his memorial address at
Fredericksburg when the Southern soldiers were buried, he first read
"March of the Deathless Dead," closing with the lines:

    And the dead thus meet the dead,
      While the living' o'er them weep;
    And the men by Lee and Stonewall led,
    And the hearts that once together bled,
      Together still shall sleep.

June 28, 1883, I was in Lexington and saw the unveiling of Valentine's
recumbent statue of General Lee in Washington and Lee University. At
the conclusion of Senator Daniel's eloquent oration Father Ryan
recited his poem, "The Sword of Lee," the first time that it had been
heard.

In Lexington I was at a dinner where Father Ryan was a guest. He told
a story of a reprobate Irishman, for whom he had stood godfather. Upon
one occasion the man took too much liquor and, under its influence,
killed a man, for which he was sentenced to a term in the
penitentiary. Through the efforts of the Father he was, after a time,
pardoned and employment secured for him. One evening he came to the
priest's house intoxicated and asked permission to sleep in the barn.
"No," said the Father, "go sleep in the gutter." "Ah, Father, sure an'
I've shlept in the gutter till me bones is all racked with the
rheumatism." "I can't help that; I can't let you sleep in the barn;
you will smoke, you drunken beast, and set the barn on fire and maybe
burn the house, and they belong to the parish." "Ah, Father, forgive
me! I've been bad, very bad; I've murdered an' kilt an' shtole an'
been dhrunk, an' I've done a heap of low things besides, but low as
I'm afther gettin', Father, I never got low enough to shmoke." The man
slept in the barn and the parish suffered no loss.

One evening at a supper at Governor Letcher's we were responding to
the sentiment, "Life." I gave some verses which, in Father Ryan's
view, were not serious enough for a subject so solemn. He looked at me
through his wonderfully speaking eyes and answered me in his melodious
voice:

    Life is a duty--dare it,
    Life is a burden--bear it,
    Life is a thorn-crown--wear it;
    Though it break your heart in twain
    Seal your lips and hush your pain;
    Life is God--all else is vain.

"Yes, Father," I said, and there was silence.

[Illustration: ST. MARY'S CHURCH, MOBILE.
FATHER RYAN'S LATE RESIDENCE ADJOINING
By courtesy of P.J. Kenedy & Sons]

Always a wanderer, our Poet-Priest found his first real home, since
his childhood, when pastor of St. Mary's Church in Mobile. To that
home he pays a tribute in verse.

It was an enchanting solitude for the "restless heart,"--the plain
little church with its cross pointing the way upward, the front
half-hidden by trees through which its window-eyes look out to the
street. A short distance from the church and farther back was the
priest's house, set in a bewilderment of trees and vines and shrubbery
from which window, chimney, roof, and cornice peep out as if with
inquisitive desire to see what manner of world lies beyond the forest.

      Up into the silent skies
    Where the sunbeams veil the star,
    Up,--beyond the clouds afar,
    Where no discords ever mar,
      Where rests peace that never dies.

Here, amid the "songs and silences," he wrote "just when the mood
came, with little of study and less of art," as he said, his thoughts
leaping spontaneously into rhymes and rhythms which he called verses,
objecting to the habit of his friends of giving them "the higher title
of poems," never dreaming of "taking even lowest place in the rank of
authors."

    I sing with a voice too low
      To be heard beyond to-day,
    In minor keys of my people's woe,
      But my songs will pass away.

    To-morrow hears them not--
      To-morrow belongs to fame--
    My songs, like the birds', will be forgot,
      And forgotten shall be my name.

But a touch of prophecy adds the thought:

    And yet who knows? Betimes
      The grandest songs depart,
    While the gentle, humble, and low-toned rhymes
      Will echo from heart to heart.

So the "low-toned rhymes" of him to whom "souls were always more than
songs," written "at random--off and on, here, there, anywhere," touch
the heart and linger like remembered music in a long-gone twilight.

In 1872 Father Ryan travelled in Europe, visited Rome and had an
audience with the Pope, of whom he wrote:

    I saw his face to-day; he looks a chief
      Who fears nor human rage, nor human guile;
    Upon his cheeks the twilight of a grief,
      But in that grief the starlight of a smile.

In 1883 he began an extended lecture tour in support of a charity of
deep interest in the South, but his failing health brought his effort
to an early close.

The fiery soul of Father Ryan soon burned out its frail setting. In
his forty-eighth year he retired to a Franciscan Monastery in
Louisville, intending to make the annual retreat and at its close to
finish his "Life of Christ," begun some time before. He arrived at the
Convent of St. Bonifacius March 23, 1886. The environment of the old
Monastery, the first German Catholic establishment in Louisville,
built in 1838, is not attractive. The building is on a narrow side
street filled with small houses and shops crowded up to the sidewalk.
But the interior offered a peaceful home for which the world-weary
heart of the Poet-Priest was grateful. From a balcony where he would
sit, breathing in the cool air and resting his soul in the unbroken
silence, he looked across the courtyard shaded by beautiful trees,
filled with flowers and trellised vines, his heart revelling in the
riot of color, the wilderness of greenery, all bathed in golden floods
of sunshine and canopied with an ever-changing and ever-glorious
stretch of azure sky.

Father Ryan was never again to go out from this peaceful harbor into
the tumultuous billows of world-life. He had been there but a short
time when his physician told him that he must prepare for death.
"Why," he said, "I did that long years ago." The time of rest for
which he had prayed in years gone by was near at hand.

    My feet are wearied and my hands are tired,
      My soul oppressed--
    And I desire, what I have long desired--
      Rest--only rest.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The burden of my days is hard to bear,
      But God knows best;
    And I have prayed--but vain has been my prayer
      For rest--sweet rest.

In his last days his mind was filled with reminiscences of the war and
he would arouse the monastery and tell the priests and brothers, "Go
out into the city and tell the people that trouble is at hand. War is
coming with pestilence and famine and they must prepare to meet the
invader."

On Thursday of Holy Week, April 22, 1886, the weary life drifted out
upon the calm sea of Eternal Peace.



"BACON AND GREENS"

DR. GEORGE WILLIAM BAGBY


We, the general and I, were the first to be informed of the supernal
qualities of bacon and greens. All Virginians were aware of the prime
importance of this necessary feature of an Old Dominion dinner, but
that "a Virginian could not be a Virginian without bacon and greens"
was unknown to us until the discoverer of that ethnological fact. Dr.
George William Bagby, read us his lecture on these cheerful
comestibles. We were the first to see the frost that "lies heavy on
the palings and tips with silver the tops of the butter-bean poles,
where the sere and yellow pods are chattering in the chilly breeze."

In the early days after the war Dr. Bagby had a pleasant habit of
dropping into our rooms at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, and as soon
as the ink was dry on that combination of humor and pathos and wisdom
to which he gave the classic title of "Bacon and Greens" he brought it
and read it to us. I can still follow the pleasant ramble on which he
took us in fancy through a plantation road, the innumerable delights
along the way never to be appreciated to their full extent by any but
a real Virginian brought up on bacon and greens, and the arrival at
the end of the journey, where we were taken possession of as if we
"were the Prodigal Son or the last number of the _Richmond Enquirer_."
My eyes were the first to fill with tears over the picture of the poor
old man at the last, sitting by the dying fire in the empty house,
while the storm raged outside.

Though so thoroughly approving of "bacon and greens," there was
another feature of Virginia life, as well as of Southern life
generally, that met with Dr. Bagby's stern opposition--the duel. I
once had opportunity to note his earnestness in trying to prevent a
meeting of this kind. Two young men of whom General Pickett was very
fond, Page McCarty, a writer for the press and an idol of Richmond
society, and a brilliant young lawyer named Mordecai became involved
in a quarrel which led to a challenge. The innocent cause of the
dispute was the golden-haired, blue-eyed beauty, Mary Triplett, the
belle of Richmond, who had long been the object of Page McCarty's
devotion but had shown a preference for another adorer. Page wrote
some satiric verses which, though no name was given, were known by all
Richmond to be leveled at Miss Triplett. Mr. Mordecai resented the
verses and the dispute which followed resulted in a challenge. Dr.
Bagby came to our rooms when Page McCarty was there and made an
unavailing effort to secure peace. Both he and the general were
unsuccessful in their pacific attempts, the duel took place and Page
McCarty, who bore a name that had in former times become famous in the
duelling annals of Virginia, killed his antagonist at first shot.

Though so strongly opposed to the practice, Dr. Bagby twice came near
taking a principal part in a duel. Soon after the close of the war he
wrote an editorial on prisoners of war, in which he took the ground
that more Southern soldiers died in Northern prisons than Northerners
in Southern prisons, giving figures in support of his statement. A
Northern officer in Richmond answered the article, questioning its
veracity. The doctor promptly sent a challenge to combat which the
officer declined, saying that he had fought hard enough for the
prisoners in war-time, he did not intend to fight for them now that
hostilities were over.

The second time that our genial humorist came near the serious reality
of a duel he was the party challenged. The cause of the
misunderstanding that promised to result so tragically was a magazine
article in which the doctor caricatured a peculiar kind of Virginia
Editor. The essay was a source of amusement to all its readers except
one editor, who imagined himself insulted. Urged on by misguided
friends, he challenged the author of the offending paper who,
notwithstanding his opposition to the code, accepted. A meeting was
arranged and the belligerents had arrived at historic Bladensburg with
blood-thirsty intent, when one of those sunny souls, possessed of a
universality of mind which rendered him a friend to all parties,
arrived on the scene and a disastrous outcome was averted.

Dr. Bagby has been called "a Virginia realist." To him, receiving his
first views of life from the foot of the Blue Ridge, one realism of
the external world was too beautiful to admit of his finding in the
ideal anything that could more nearly meet his fancy-picture of
loveliness than the scenes which opened daily before his eyes. Years
later a memory of his early home returns to him in the dawn:

    Suddenly there came from thicket or copse of the distant forest,
    I could not tell where, a "wood-note wild" of some bird I had not
    heard for half a century nearly, and in an instant the beauty,
    the mystery, the holiness of nature came back to me just as it
    came in childhood when sometimes my playmates left me alone in
    the great orchard of my home in Cumberland.

He avows himself

    --a pagan and a worshipper of Pan, loving the woods and waters,
    and preferring to go to them (when my heart was stirred thereto
    by that mysterious power which, as I conceive, cares little for
    worship made stately and to order on certain recurring calendar
    days) rather than to most of the brick and mortar pens that are
    supposed to hold in some way that which the visible universe no
    more contains than the works of his hands contain the sculptor
    who makes them; for I take it that the glittering show revealed
    by the mightiest telescope, or by the hope mightier even than the
    imagination of the highest mind, is but as a parcel of motes
    shining in a single thin beam of the great sun unseen and hidden
    behind shutters never to be wide opened.

Our "Virginia Realist" needed not to call upon his imagination for
personalities with which to fill his free-hand sketches of nature, for
there was in his kindly humor and geniality a charm which drew forth
from all he met just the qualities necessary to fill in his world with
the characters he desired. A wide and deep sympathy enabled him to
make that world so real and true that his readers entered it at once
and found therein such entertaining companionship that they were fain
to abide there ever after.

In 1835, when a boy fresh from Parley's History of America, the future
humorist made a journey from Cumberland County to Lynchburg, hearing
by the way alarming sounds which the initiated recognized as the
report of the blasting of rocks on the "Jeems and Kanawha Canell." To
the boy, with second-hand memories of Washington and his men tramping
confusedly about his mind, the noises signified a cannonade and he
waited in terrified excitement for the British bullet that was to put
him beyond the conflicts of the world, trying to postpone the evil
moment by hiding between two large men who were fellow-passengers with
him. This was in the days when the celebrated "Canell" was a subject
for the imagination to contemplate as a triumph of futurity and an
object for hope to feed upon--a period in which the traveller embarked
upon a fascinating batteau and spent a week of dreamy beauty in
sailing from Lynchburg to Richmond and ten days back to the hill city.
Time was not money in those days, it was vision and peace and color
and sunshine and all wherein the soul of man delighteth itself and
reveleth in the joy of living. The stream of imagination was no more
dammed than the river in which "shad used to run to Lynchburg,"
showing a highly developed æsthetic taste on the part of the shad. The
youthful traveller went to the Eagle Hotel and took a view of Main
Street and dared not even wonder if he should ever be big enough to
live in Richmond. Rapt soul of youth's dawn, with myriad dreams all to
vanish when the sun rises upon the morning!

On his return from an absence of two years in the North the great
Canal was completed and, while his early impression of the
unparallelled magnitude of the Queen City had suffered revision, his
visions of journeying by canal were yet to be realized. At the foot of
Eighth Street, Richmond, he took the packet-boat, passed under Seventh
Street bridge, and with the other passengers lingered on deck to see
Richmond slowly disappear in the distance. That night the doleful
packet-horn, contrasted with his memory of the cheerful, musical note
of the old stage-horn, brought to the lad his first realization of the
inadequacies of modern improvements.

Ascending the James the traveller had a view of the best of the old
Virginia life, its wealth of beauty, its home comfort, its atmosphere
of serenity, of old memories, rich and vivid, like the wine that lay
cob-webbed in ancestral cellars, of gracious hospitality, of a softly
tinted life like the color in old pictures and the soul in old books.
The gentle humorist lived to see that life pass away from the Old
Dominion and all too soon he vanished into another world where, like
all true Virginians, he expected to find the old home-life again.

These canal days were in the early Dickens period, and occasionally
the youthful traveller could not resist the temptation to go below and
lose himself in those pages which had then almost as potent a charm in
their novelty as they have now in their friendly familiarity. But the
river-isle, which held an interest in futurity for him because of his
intention to found a romance there when he should be "big enough to
write for the papers," would draw him back to the deck. There was a
path across the hills that the passengers must follow, disembarking
for that purpose. Near Manchester was a haunted house which he looked
upon with those ghostly shivers that made a person so delightfully
uncomfortable, for he, like the rest of us, did believe in ghosts,
whatever he might say to the contrary. There was the ruined mill and,
best of all, the Three-Mile Lock, inspiring him with the highest
ambition of his life, to be a lock-keeper. Then came Richmond; the
metropolis of the world, to the young voyager.

[Illustration: DR. GEORGE W. BAGBY
From the portrait in the possession of the family]

Dr. Bagby studied for his profession at the Medical College of the
University of Pennsylvania and from there went to Lynchburg, opening
an office where now stands the opera house. Unfortunately for his
professional career but happily for the cause of the literature of
Virginia life, the office of the _Lynchburg Virginian_ was near, and
its editor, Mr. James McDonald, proved a kindred soul to the young
physician. In the absences of the editor, Dr. Bagby filled his chair
and fell a victim to the fascination with which the Demon of the
Fourth Estate lures his chosen to their doom. In Lynchburg he first
found his true calling and there, too, he met with his first failure,
the demise of the _Lynchburg Express_, of which he was part owner, and
which went to the wall by reason of the well-known weakness of genius
in regard to business matters.

Upon the collapse of the _Express_ Dr. Bagby went to Washington as
correspondent for a number of papers, and while there attained
distinction as a humorist through the "Letters of Mozis Addums,"
written for the _Southern Literary Messenger_, of Richmond.

His abiding place is of hazy uncertainty, one of his kinsmen
saying--"He didn't live anywhere," He might as well have dwelt in his
own "Hobgoblinopolis." His wanderings had taught him the peculiar
charm of the Virginia roads of that day, as evidenced by the
aspiration of "Mozis Addums" when contemplating the limitations of his
"Fifty Millions":

    I want to give Virginia a perfect system of county roads, so that
    one may get off at a station and go to the nearest country-house
    without breaking his neck, and it would take five hundred
    millions to do that.

It may be, as the doctor laments, that "The old Virginia gentleman,
All of the olden time," has passed away, the colonial house is
modernized, and the ghost, the killing of whom would be "an enormity
far greater than the crime of killing a live man," has been laid to
rest for half a century, but the old scenes and the old-time life come
back to us who once knew it, in the pages of the perennial boy who
recalls the time when "me and Billy Ivins and the other fellows set
forth with six pine poles and a cymling full of the best and biggest
fishing worms," to fish in the Appomattox where it "curves around the
foot of Uncle Jim's plantation," and where there is a patriarchal
beech with a tangle of roots whereon the Randolphs of historic note
were wont to repose in the days long gone. This fishing party is under
the fair October skies when "the morn, like an Eastern queen, is
sumptuously clad in blue and gold; the sheen of her robes in dazzling
sunlight, and she comes from her tent of glistening, silken, celestial
warp, beaming with tender smiles." "It is a day of days for flatback,
provided the moon is right." But "Billy Ivins swears that the
planetary bodies have nothing to do with fish--it's all confounded
superstition." So they cast in their hooks, "Sutherland's best," and
talk about Harper's Ferry and "old Brown" until one of the party
"thinks he has a nibble" and begs for silence, which at once
supervenes out of respect for the momentous interests hanging in the
balance. When the excitement is over the frivolous Bagby takes
advantage of the relief from suspense to make an exasperating pun,
after the manner of a newspaper man, and "Billy Ivins swears he will
kill him for a fool."

Oh, there were great old times on the Appomattox in the olden days,
before its waves had turned battle-red and flashed that savage tint
along the river-bank for all coming time.

[Illustration: "AVENEL"
The home of the Burwells, where Dr. Bagby spent many happy days]

A part of the conversation shows us that this fishing expedition took
place in the autumn of 1859, not a year before Dr. Bagby was called to
the post of editor of the _Southern Literary Messenger_, taking the
place of the poet, John R. Thompson, who was sent to England to lead
the forlorn hope of a magazine to represent the Southern cause in
London. A banquet was given at Zetelle's restaurant as a farewell to
Mr. Thompson and welcome to Dr. Bagby.

The office of the _Messenger_ was in the Law Building, a four-storied
structure erected in 1846 on the southeast corner of Capitol Square,
fronting on Franklin Street. Here he was hard at work, making the
_Messenger_ worthy of its former editors, his predecessor, Mr.
Thompson, Mr. White, of early days, Edgar A. Poe, and a succession of
brilliant writers, only less widely known, when the guns before Sumter
tempted the new editor to the field, a position for which he was ill
fitted as to physical strength, whatever might be the force of his
patriotism. He was soon running risks of pneumonia from the effects of
over-drilling and the chilling breezes from Bull Run Mountain, and
making up his mind "not to desert, but to get killed at the first
opportunity," that being the most direct route he could think of to
the two prime essentials of life, a clean shirt and solitude. He
neither deserted nor was killed, but was detailed to write letters and
papers for one of the officers, and slept through the fight of the
18th at Manassas as a result of playing night orderly from midnight to
morning.

Under the cloudless sky of the perfect Sunday, the twenty-first, he
watched the progress of the battle till the cheer that rang from end
to end of the Confederate line told him that the South had won. After
midnight that night he carried to the telegraph office the message in
which President Davis announced the victory and, walking back through
the clear, still night, saw the comet, forerunner of evil, hanging
over the field, as if in recognition of a fiery spirit on earth akin
to its own. At headquarters on Monday, the 22d, he looked out at the
pouring rain and raged over the inaction which kept the victorious
army idle on the field of victory instead of following up the
advantage by a march into the enemy's Capital, a movement which he
thought could have been carried through to complete success.

Having watched over his wounded friend, Lieutenant James K. Lee, until
death came with eternal peace. Dr. Bagby was sent with the dead
soldier to Richmond and soon afterward was discharged because of ill
health, "and thus ended the record of an unrenowned warrior."

He returned to his work on the _Messenger_ and the editorial sanctum
became the meeting place of the wits of Richmond. It was here that the
celebrated Confederate version of "Mother Goose" was evolved from the
conjoined wisdom of the circle and written with the stub of the
editorial pencil on the "cartridge-paper table-cloth," one stanza
dealing with a certain Northern general thus:

    Little Be-Pope came on with a lope,
      Jackson, the Rebel, to find him;
    He found him at last, then ran very fast,
      With his gallant invaders behind him.

The various authors were astonished to find their productions in the
next issue of the _Messenger_ and were later dismayed when the verses
were read at a meeting of the Mosaic Club, each with the name of the
writer attached.

While editor of the _Messenger_, Dr. Bagby wrote occasionally for the
_Richmond Examiner_, thereby becoming associated in a friendly way
with its editor, John M. Daniel, whose brilliant and continuous fight
upon the administration at Richmond kept him vividly before the
public. Though the genial doctor deplored the aggressiveness of the
_Examiner_, he could not resist the temptation to employ his trenchant
pen in treating of public affairs. This led to his possession of the
famous latchkey which "fitted the door of the house on Broad Street,
opposite the African Church," a key of which he wrote that it "has its
charm," and certainly one which he made more enchanting to his readers
than any other such article has ever proved.

These two men, so different in view-point and expression, so similar
in principle and purpose, met in Washington in 1861 at Brown's Hotel,
that famous old hostelry dear to the Southern heart in the years
before the tide of war swept the old Washington away forever and
brought a new South to take the place of the old plantation life.
Congenial as they were in many ways, the possession of the latchkey,
Dr. Bagby tells us, did not argue an intimate personal relation, as
the fancy of the brilliant editor of the _Examiner_ was apparently
changeable, and wavered when he discovered that his assistant neither
played chess nor talked sufficiently to inspire him to conversational
excellence. But the key opened to the younger man, whenever he so
willed, the pleasant three-storied brick house on Broad Street where
the valiant editor kept bachelor's hall in a manner that would suggest
the superfluity of complicating the situation with a wife and family.

That latchkey gave to its holder entrance to the first floor front
room parlor where hung two fine paintings, the special treasures of
the fastidious owner, and if he could not play chess upon the handsome
mosaic chess-table he could at least enjoy its artistic beauty. The
dining-room contained a set of solid antique-patterned tables to which
Mr. Daniel was wont to refer as the former property of "old
Memminger," that is, Secretary Memminger of the Confederate Treasury,
who had sold his household effects on leaving his home on Church Hill.
Over the mantel in the bachelor's chamber hung a miniature on ivory,
"the most beautiful I have ever seen," said the doctor, an unknown
beauty whose charms mystified as well as enchanted the observer; a
wondrously accomplished lady of title and wealth whom Mr. Daniel had
known abroad. The visitor must have viewed with some degree of
curiosity the effective arrangement of mirrors in the dressing-room,
whereby the owner of the mansion surveyed himself front, rear, head
and foot, as he made his toilet, perhaps reflecting humorously upon
the dismay of his manager, Mr. Walker, upon being advised as to the
necessity of wearing a white vest to a party: "But, Mr. Daniel,
suppose a man hasn't got a white vest and is too poor these war times
to buy one?" "---- it, sir! let him stay at home," was the decisive
answer.

On a second floor passage was an object which must have excited more
envy than the magnificent mirrors and solid old furniture were capable
of arousing--a bag of Java coffee, and coffee thirty dollars a
pound--the latter fact not deterring the luxurious owner of this
stately abode from imbuing his pet terriers with the coffee-drinking
habit. A little room cut off from a passage in the third story was a
library of old and rare editions of the classics. A back room, sunlit
and warm, gave a view of James River, the Henrico Hills, and the
spacious dells and forests of Chesterfield. To the mind of Dr. Bagby
all these things were represented by "John M. Daniel's Latchkey" and,
for all the charm of "Home, Sweet Home," is it not better to have the
privileges without the responsibilities of a latchkey?

Next to the editorial office of the _Messenger_ that of the _Daily
Examiner_ was the place with which Dr. Bagby was, perhaps, best
acquainted in Richmond. There, with the fiery editor, he spent his
evenings in reading proof, comforted by a mild cigar and protected by
a Derringer which Mr. Daniel would put on the table when he first
arrived, a not unnecessary precaution, for if there was one place more
dangerous than another in the Richmond of war days it was almost any
point in the near vicinity of the belligerent editor of the
_Examiner_.

Dr. Bagby was married to Miss Parke Chamberlayne of Richmond, and we
may be sure that she was the model from which he drew his charming
study of "the Virginia lady of the best type," who accompanies "The
Old Virginia Gentleman" in his pages.

After the close of the war Dr. Bagby attained high distinction as a
lecturer on Southern topics and later served his State as assistant
secretary. But in all that he did there was with him the lost dream of
the nation he had served so well through the dark and stormy years of
strife, and in August, 1883, he passed beyond into the land where
earth's broken hearts are renewed to youth.

It was written of him: "There is no man left in Virginia fit to lift
the lid of his inkstand."



"WOMAN AND POET"

MARGARET JUNKIN PRESTON


"Whoever has the good fortune to follow its trails and shimmering
waters is already half a poet," wrote Professor Harris of the road
that leads down from the verdant hills of the Alleghanies over
picturesque gorge and crag and fissure into the quiet of the valley
and brings us by exquisite stages to the beautiful town of Lexington,
Virginia. Making that journey in taking my boy, fourteen years old, to
the Virginia Military Institute, I entered at once two charming
regions--Lexington with its romantic environment, and the heart of
Margaret Junkin Preston.

When I spoke of the beautiful scenery Mrs. Preston asked me if I had
read Professor Maury's description of it. I replied that I had not. "I
am glad," she said, "because now that you have seen our
Nature-pictures you will enjoy the description so much more."

Though the name and work of Margaret Preston had long been shrined in
the hearts of a host of known friends and endeared to many unknown
readers whose lives had been cheered by the buoyant hopefulness
expressed in her writings, she was very modest in regard to her
productions, yet held it a duty to continue writing for others the
thoughts which had helped her. When we were at supper in the home of
Professor Lyle, who was gifted with an unusually poetic mind, he
repeated passages from favorite authors. On being asked if he did not
sometimes write poetry, he replied that he had often written rhymes
and loved to do it, but when he would afterward read Virgil and
Shakespeare and Tennyson he would tear up his own verses, feeling that
he ought not to make the effort.

"Then," replied Mrs. Preston, "the gardener should not plant the seeds
that bring forth the little forget-me-nots and snowdrops. He should
plant only the great multiflora roses and the Lady Bankshires and
magnolias."

Mrs. Preston spent much of her time in knitting because the weakness
of her eyes made reading and writing difficult. "Are you never tired
of knitting?" I asked. She replied that it did not tire her, and told
me that Mrs. Lee said she loved to knit because she did not have to
put her mind on the work. She could think and talk as well when she
was knitting for the reason that she did not have to keep her eyes nor
her attention upon what she was doing. She knew perfectly well when
she came to a seam. In a letter from a soldier to Mrs. Lee he thanked
her for the socks she had sent him, and wrote; "I have fourteen pairs
of socks knitted by my mother and my mother's sisters and the Church
Sewing Society, and I have not a shirt to my back nor a pair of
trousers to my legs nor a whole pair of shoes to my feet." "But," said
Mrs. Lee as she concluded the story, "I continued to knit socks just
the same."

The first open-end thimble I ever saw was one Mrs. Preston used when I
was with her at the Springs. I remarked upon it and she said that when
she used a thimble she always had that kind. "I feel about a thimble
as I do about mitts, which I always wear instead of gloves, because I
like to see my fingers come through. So I like to see my finger come
through my thimble. It is a tailor's thimble. Tailors always use that
kind. I do not know whether they like to see their fingers come
through or not." I had heard it said that it takes nine tailors to
make a man and now I reflected that it would take eighteen tailors to
make a thimble. Upon presenting this mathematical problem to Mrs.
Preston she told me about the origin of the old saying:

"It was not that kind of tailor at first. In old England the custom
was to announce a death by tolling a bell. After the bell had ceased
tolling, a number of strokes, called 'tailers,' indicated whether the
death was of a child, a woman or a man; three for a child, nine for a
man. People counting would say, 'Nine tailers, that's a man,' which in
time became colloquially 'Nine tailers make a man.' When the custom
became obsolete the saying remained, its application was forgotten,
_o_ was substituted for _e_ and it was used in derogation of a most
worthy and necessary member of the body politic."

Margaret Preston was very small, in explanation of which fact she told
me there was a story that she had been tossed on the horns of a cow.
There was Scotch blood in the Junkin family and with it had descended
the superstition that this experience dwarfs a child's growth. When
she sat upon an ordinary chair her little feet did not touch the
floor. She had a way of smoothing the front of her dress with her
hands as she talked.

Knowing her as she was then and remembering her devotion to the South
and the sacrifices she had made for her home through the dark years,
one might have thought that she was a native daughter of Virginia. In
the village of Milton, Pennsylvania, where her father, Reverend George
Junkin, was pastor of the Associate Reformed Church, Margaret Junkin
was born on the 19th of May, 1820, in a small, plain, rented house, a
centre of love and harmony, with simple surroundings, for the family
finances did not purchase household luxuries, but were largely
expended in assisting those less fortunately placed.

In this little home, where rigid economy was practised and high
aspirations reigned, our future poet entered upon the severe
intellectual training which caused her at twenty-one, when the door of
scholastic learning was closed upon her by the partial failure of her
sight, to be called a scholar, though she sorrowfully resented the
title, asking, "How can you speak of one as a scholar whose studies
were cut short at twenty-one?"

She received her first instruction from her mother, passing then under
the tutorship of her father, who fed his own ambition by gratifying
her scholarly tastes, teaching her the Greek alphabet when she was six
years old and continuing her training in collegiate subjects until she
was forced by failing sight to give up her reading.

When she was ten the family removed to Germantown, where her father
had charge of the Manual Labor School, and Margaret enjoyed the
advantages at that time afforded by the city of Philadelphia,
gathering bright memories which irradiated her somewhat sombre life
then and lightened her coming years.

In Lafayette, a new college in Easton, Pennsylvania, Dr. Junkin soon
found opportunity to carry on his system of training for practical and
religious life and here Margaret spent sixteen happy and busy
years--happy but for the gray veil that fell between her and her loved
studies before those years had passed. She was obliged to prepare her
Greek lessons at night, and the only time her father had for hearing
her recitations was in the early morning before breakfast, which in
that household meant in the dim candlelight of the period; not a
wholesome time for perusing Greek text. For Margaret Junkin it meant
seven years of physical pain, a part of the time in a darkened room,
and the lifelong regret of unavailing aspirations. It was in Easton
that she began to write in any serious and purposeful fashion, the
result of her semi-blindness, as, but for that, she would have devoted
her life to painting, for which she had decided talent. In the
beautiful environment of Easton the young soul had found the poetic
glow that tinged its early dawn. Hills crowned with a wealth of
forests, fields offering hospitality to the world, glimmering of the
Delaware waters rippling silverly along their happy way, auroral dawns
and glorious sunsets, all inspired the youthful poet's imagination to
melodious effort. Of Margaret as she was in the Easton days in 1836, a
Lafayette freshman thus writes:

    A taste for literary pursuits soon drew us together and a warm
    friendship sprang up, which continued unbroken to the day of her
    death. Her remarkable poetic talent had even then won the
    admiration of her associates, and to have been admitted into the
    charmed circle of which she was the center, where literature and
    literary work were discussed, admired and appreciated, I have
    ever counted a high privilege.

Her next home, in Oxford, Ohio, where Dr. Junkin had been elected to
the presidency of Miami University, was not a dream of delight to the
poetic soul of the young girl, for Scotch Calvinism, perhaps more
rigid than the Calvinism of Calvin himself, which did not admit of
fitting square dogmatic nails into round theological holes, insured a
succession of oft-recurrent tempests for the family, as well as for
the good doctor. The one letter which remains from the correspondence
of Margaret Junkin at that time, though indicating a buoyant nature on
the part of the writer, gives a sad view of financial difficulties,
her mother's fragility, uncongenial climate, and the persecution
directed against her father. Some of these misfortunes were obviated
by a return to Easton, Dr. Junkin having been recalled to the
presidency of Lafayette College, from which he had withdrawn a few
years before because of a disagreement with the trustees on a question
of government.

Not long afterward the failing health of Margaret's young brother
Joseph led Dr. Junkin to accept the presidency of Washington College,
Lexington, Virginia, in the hope that change of climate might bring
health to the invalid. Thus in the fall of 1848 the step was taken
which made Margaret Junkin one of our Southern poets, devoted to her
adopted State and a loved and honored daughter thereof.

On the arrival in Lexington a younger member of the family wrote:

    My first memory of Lexington is of arriving, at midnight, in a
    December snowstorm, after a twelve hours' ride from Staunton in
    an old stage coach. This was before there was a turnpike or plank
    road, and the ups and downs we had that night made an impression
    on our bodies as well as our minds.

A later memory gives us a pretty glimpse of daily life as it went on
in that charming little Virginia town:

    From the time we went to Lexington we all used to take delightful,
    long rambles, rather to the surprise of Lexington people, who were
    not quite so energetic. We found the earliest spring flowers on the
    "Cliffs," and "Cave Spring" was a favorite spot to walk to (several
    miles from town) stopping always for a rest at the picturesque
    ruins of old "Liberty Hall."

"Liberty Hall" was the name of an old school building outside of
Lexington.

Writing reproachfully to a friend for not coming to visit her,
Margaret tells of the "sweet pure air of our Virginia mountains," of
the morning "overture of the birds," "such as all the Parodis and
Linds and Albonis in the world could never equal." She tantalizes her
friend with a glowing picture of a gallop "over misty hills, down into
little green shaded glens, under overhanging branches all sparkling
with silvery dew." She tells her that they might take a walk "to 'The
Cliffs,' to see the sun go down behind yon wavy horizon of mountains,
if its setting promised to be fine, and saunter back in the gloaming,
just in time to have coffee handed in the free and easy social
Virginia style in the library."

In Lexington, Margaret's first sorrow came to her, the death of her
brother Joseph, whose health had not improved with the change to
Lexington and who had been sent to Florida, where he found a "far-off
lonely grave."

A description of the young poet at this time is given by a girl
admirer:

    Miss Maggie was the object of my secret, enthusiastic worship.
    She was not exactly pretty, but her slight figure, fair
    complexion and beautiful auburn curls furnished a piquant setting
    for her refined, intelligent countenance which made up for the
    lack of mere beauty. I used to thrill with admiration as I
    watched her riding at a swift gallop, a little black velvet cap
    showing off her fairness, the long curls blowing about her
    face....

    We wondered that a person who could write poetry, which seemed
    to our limited experience a sort of miraculous gift, should
    condescend to talk to us about our studies and games as if she
    were one of us.

It was in Lexington that her power reached its full development, and
she even took prizes in magazines and newspapers for some stories with
what her friends called "prim heroes and pasteboard heroines,"
classifications which she good-naturedly accepted, as she readily
acknowledged that she had no gift for story-telling.

In Lexington, Margaret's sister, Eleanor, met the grave and dignified
Major T.J. Jackson, Professor of Mathematics in the Virginia Military
Institute, and in 1853 was married to him. Here the death of the sweet
and gentle mother brought to the life of Margaret Junkin its crowning
sorrow, and shortly afterward the lovely young wife of Major Jackson
left the earthly home.

The Professor of Latin in the Virginia Military Institute was Major
J.T.L. Preston, grandson of Edmund Randolph. He was a man of great
dignity of character and manner and of unusual scholarship. Though
Margaret Junkin had at times requested her nearest of kin to seclude
her in an asylum for the insane should she ever manifest a tendency to
marry a widower with children, she proceeded quite calmly and with
reason apparently unclouded, to fall in love with and marry Professor
Preston, notwithstanding his possession of seven charming and amiable
sons and daughters left over from a former congenial marriage. She
proved a most devoted mother to her large family, who returned her
affection in full measure. A volume of her poetry is dedicated to her
eldest stepdaughter who, after the death of Margaret, was her most
loving and appreciative biographer. To her great sorrow, one of the
sons was killed in battle.

The marriage was followed by a visit to "Oakland" on the James River,
the home of Major Preston's sister, Mrs. William Armstead Cocke, where
at first the ornately dignified style of living rather dazed the bride
accustomed as she had been to the simplicity of a home in which the
only luxury was in giving help to others. Colonel William C. Preston,
the eloquent South Carolina orator, met the "little red-headed Yankee"
with distinct aversion to her "want of style and presence," but was
soon heard to declare with enthusiastic admiration that she was "an
encyclopedia in small print." Here among ancestral trees she found
inspiration and in the society of her new sister she enjoyed the most
delightful soul companionship.

In the early years of her married life writing was laid aside while
she devoted herself to the care of her family, the entertainment of
the many visitors who came to the Preston house and the beautification
of her new home, finding plenty of space in the attractive house and
extensive grounds with their noble trees, orchard, garden and meadow
for the outlet of all her imagination. In this ideal home she was
living her peaceful and happy life when the bugle call destroyed the
serenity of the country. She suffered one of her greatest sorrows in
the difference of political opinion between her Northern father and
her Southern husband. The latter, holding that while secession was
unwise, coercion was tyranny, followed Virginia when she cast in her
lot with the seceding States. Dr. Junkin and his widowed youngest
daughter, Julia, returned to Philadelphia, while Colonel Preston
joined Stonewall Jackson's army.

Margaret Preston's worship of the muses was woven in with her devotion
to the household goddesses, and in her journal the receiving of the
first copy of her new volume of poems is sandwiched in between the
making of twenty-two gallons of blackberry wine and thirty-three
bottles of ketchup. House-cleaning and "Tintoretto"; pickles and "Mona
Lisa"; hearth-painting and "Bacharach wine" were all closely connected
in her every-day experience. From a ride through the blue hills she
would return with a poem singing in her heart, radiant with sun,
shaded with the mists of the darkening heights, and when it had
bubbled over in laughter and dreams and tears and was safe upon the
written page, she would go into the kitchen and produce such marvels
of cookery as made her a housewife of more than local fame.

One of her dearest friends was Commodore Matthew F. Maury, who was
connected with the Military Institute in the early years after the
war. On his death-bed his wife asked him if she might bury him in
Hollywood near Richmond. "As you please, my dear," he said, "but do
not carry me through the pass until the ivy and laurel are in bloom
and you can cover my bier with their beauty." When the burial service
was read over him lying in state in the Institute library, Mrs.
Preston was not able to venture over the threshold, so she remained in
the shelter of the porch, and when the family returned from the
funeral she read them the lines she had composed in the hour that they
had been gone:

    THROUGH THE PASS

    "Home, bear me home at last," he said,
      "And lay me where my dead are lying;
    But not while skies are overspread,
      And mournful wintry winds are sighing.

    "Wait till the royal march of Spring
      Carpets your mountain fastness over,--
    Till chattering birds are on the wing,
      And buzzing bees are in the clover.

    "Wait till the laurel bursts its buds,
      And creeping ivy flings its graces
    About the lichened rocks, and floods
      Of sunshine fill the shady places.

    "Then, when the sky, the air, the grass,
      Sweet Nature all, is glad and tender,
    Then bear me through the Goshen Pass
      Amid its flush of May-day splendor."

    So _will_ we bear him! Human heart
      To the warm earth's drew never nearer,
    And never stooped she to impart
      Lessons to one who held them dearer.

    Stars lit new pages for him; seas
      Revealed the depths their waves were screening;
    The ebbs gave up their masteries,
      The tidal flows confessed their meaning.

    Of ocean paths the tangled clue
      He taught the nations to unravel;
    And mapped the track where safely through
      The lightning-footed thought might travel.

    And yet unflattered by the store
      Of these supremer revelations,
    Who bowed more reverently before
      The lowliest of earth's fair creations?

    What sage of all the ages past,
      Ambered in Plutarch's limpid story,
    Upon the age he served, has cast
      A radiance touched with worthier glory?

    His noble living for the ends
      God set him (duty underlying
    Each thought, word, action) naught transcends
      In lustre, save his nobler dying.

    Do homage, sky, and air, and grass,
      All things he cherished, sweet and tender,
    As through our gorgeous mountain pass
      We bear him in the May-day splendor!

The summer of 1884 Margaret Preston spent abroad in the places of
which she had read with a loving enthusiasm which made them her own.
"Don't show me; let me find it," she would say, and go straight to the
object of her quest. Her reading had brought her into companionship
with all the beautiful minds of the world, and all the places that had
been dear to them were sacred to her heart. Windermere was "redolent
all over with the memories of Wordsworth, Southey, Kit North, Hartley
Coleridge, Harriet Martineau, Dr. Arnold." "Ambleside--Wordsworth's
Ambleside--Southey's; and such hills, such greenery, I never expect to
see again. Then we took carriage to Grasmere Lake, a lovely little
gem."

"I walked to Wordsworth's grave without being directed, and on reading
his name on his stone, and Mary Wordsworth's on his wife's, I am free
to confess to a rush of tears, Dora Quillinan, his daughter's, and
dear old Dorothy, whom Coleridge, you know, pronounced the grandest
woman he had ever known. Suddenly turning I read the name of poor
Hartley Coleridge and again I felt my eyes flow."

Perhaps few travellers have seen as much in a summer's wandering as
did Margaret Preston, yet it was on her "blind slate" that she was
forced to write of these things and of the "crowning delight of the
summer," the tour through Switzerland. She said, "My picture gallery
of memory is hung henceforth with glorious frescoes which blindness
cannot blot or cause to fade."

Life in Preston House with all its enchantments came to an end for
Margaret Preston with the passing of the noble and loving man who had
made her the priestess of that home shrine. The first two years after
his death she spent with her stepdaughter, Mrs. Allan, who lived near
the old home. Then she went to the home of Dr. George J. Preston, of
Baltimore, where she was the centre of the home and took great delight
in his children with their pretty "curly red heads." She never walked
again except to take a few steps with a crutch.

From 819 North Charles Street she wrote: "Here my large airy room
faces brick walls and housetops and when I sit at the library windows
I only see throngs of passers-by, all of whom are strangers to me."
Her life was beautiful and content, but she must often have longed for
the old friends and the "laureled avenues" and the "edges of the
glorious Goshen Pass lit with the wavering flames of the July
rhododendrons."

March 29, 1897, Margaret Preston died as she had wished when she
expressed her desire in her poem "Euthanasia," written in memory of a
friend who had passed away unconscious of illness or death:

    With faces the dearest in sight,
      With a kiss on the lips I love best,
    To whisper a tender "Good-night"
      And pass to my pillow of rest.

    To kneel, all my service complete,
      All duties accomplished--and then
    To finish my orisons sweet
      With a trustful and joyous "Amen."

    And softly, when slumber was deep,
      Unwarned by a shadow before,
    On a halcyon billow of sleep
      To float to the Thitherward shore.

    Without a farewell or a tear,
      A sob or a flutter of breath,
    Unharmed by the phantom of Fear,
      To glide through the darkness of death!

    Just so would I choose to depart,
      Just so let the summons be given;
    A quiver--a pause of the heart--
      A vision of angels--then Heaven!



"THE 'MOTHER' OF 'ST. ELMO'"

AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON


Let me introduce to you Augusta Evans Wilson as I first met her when
she was a bride, when her soul, like mine, was allied to love, faith
and romance, when every day was made perfect with its own contentment
and to-morrow's hope, when we were happy because we loved and were
loved.

I do not know why, when she clasped my hand and said, "How young you
are," I thought of the poem of Lucas, "The land where we lay
dreaming," or why those lines should come back to me now when her feet
are treading the path where silence is. It may have been because of
her sweet voice, "Which did thrill until at eve the whip-poor-will and
at noon the mocking-birds were mute and still," or because of the
exchange of memories of those days of shot and shell and red meteors,
of the camp, of the march, of the sick and wounded to whom she
ministered, and of the realization that "All our glorious visions fled
and left us nothing real but the dead, in the land where we lay
dreaming."

When she remarked upon my youth the fancy drifted through my mind that
she was rather old for a bride, or at least looked so, for I was
accustomed to seeing very youthful brides, being only half her years
when I was one, while she had passed through ageing experiences, had
written many books, and looked older than she really was. I had not
formed the habit of thinking of her as Mrs. Wilson, and in the
confusion of the old name and the new could not recall either, so
called her "Mrs. Macaria." She laughed and told me that she was
accustomed to being called "Beulah," but this was the first time that
she had been addressed as "Mrs. Macaria."

She told me of the many adventures of "Macaria" in its early days.
Camp "Beulah," named in honor of her second book, which appeared not
long before the opening of the war and brought her at once into
prominence as a writer, was near Summerville, the girlhood home of
Augusta Evans, and in that camp and its hospital, as well as in the
many others which soon sprang up around the Evans residence, she took
a Southern woman's share in the work, the darkness and the heartache
of the time. Her friend, Mr. Thomas Cooper De Leon, of Mobile, gives a
picture of her in those days:

    The slim, willowy girl, with masses of brown hair coiled in the
    funnel depths of a poke bonnet, a long check apron and a pair of
    tin buckets, became the typical guardian angel of the nearby
    hospitals.

She was amanuensis, as well as nurse, cook and general purveyor of
light and comfort, and she sent many a cheering letter to waiting
hearts at home, and never was the power of her glowing pen used more
nobly and helpfully than when, forced to write the last dread message
of all, it wove into the sorrowful words a golden thread of love and
faith and hope.

In the pauses of her work she wrote most of her war-novel, "Macaria,"
which, to a great extent, shared the uncertainties and excitements of
the period. It was published in 1864 by West & Johnson, of Richmond,
being printed on wrapping paper, and soon became a favorite with the
Southern soldiers, who probably found in it more human nature and more
of the logic of possible events than it revealed to the general
reader, their own experience in those days having led them to grave
doubts as to the accuracy of the philosophic theory that not all
conceivable things are possible. At that time it stood to reason that
the kind of literature popular in Southern camps would not appeal
forcibly to the approval of the Northern army, and a Federal officer
captured and burned all the copies of "Macaria" that he could find.

Miss Evans contrived to slip a copy of her new book across the lines
to a publisher friend who, being unable at that time to bring out a
new edition, took it to the J.B. Lippincott Company and arranged for
its publication. Immediately afterward it was found that another
publisher had come into possession of a copy and had an edition of
five thousand ready to issue but, upon inquiry, expressed his
intention of paying no royalty to the author. Through the efforts of
Mr. Lippincott he was induced to allow a royalty. Miss Evans afterward
wrote to her friend:

    I have always felt profoundly grateful to Mr. Lippincott, but fate
    has never indulged me in an opportunity of adequately thanking
    him for his generous and chivalrous action in behalf of an unknown
    rebel, who at that period was nursing Confederate soldiers in a
    hospital established near "Camp Beulah."

In telling me of this she said that the kindness of Mr. Lippincott did
not surprise her, as she remembered with gratitude the generosity of
the Lippincott Company in regard to Southern obligations at the
opening of the war.

With the beautiful voice which so enchanted me she once took captive
General Bragg's army on Lookout Mountain. With her mother she had gone
to visit her brother, Captain Howard Evans, just before the battle of
Chickamauga. It chanced that he had been sent to the front before they
arrived, but they were hospitably received and given a hut on the
slope. At midnight they were awakened by steps and whispers and upon
inquiry found that their unexpected visitors were soldiers who had
crept through the lines to see Miss Evans and hear her sing. The
mother was disposed to object to her appearing at a time and place not
conventionally appropriate to artistic performances, but, wrapping her
travelling coat and robe about her, she went out into the moonlight
with her mass of hair streaming in the wind like a flying cloud, and
sang that thrilling song written by her friend, Randall, "Maryland, my
Maryland." As the melodious tones swelled out upon the night and came
floating back in echoes from the rugged peaks and mountain walls, they
filled the audience with rapt delight. When the song was finished the
sobs and cheers that burst from the soldier-hearts formed an encore
not to be denied, and again that battle-cry thrilled out upon the air.
The moment of silence that followed was broken by the high, shrill,
quavering, penetrating note of the rebel yell.

The singer has passed into the land of the higher music and most of
those who thrilled to the sound of her battle-song on that war-crowned
height have passed away from the melodies of earth, but somewhere in
this wide land there may be hearts through which yet pulses the music
of that midnight song.

Among the most valued possessions of Mrs. Wilson were the rings,
bracelets and baskets fashioned from buttons and fruit-seeds by her
soldiers in hospital, tokens of their grateful remembrance of her. I
showed her a little cross cut from a button in a prison and given to
me by my uncle, Colonel Phillips, of the Confederate Army, who had
been a captive on Johnson's Island. The prisoners used the cross to
certify to the validity of secret messages. It was sent with the
message and returned with the answer, carrying conviction of the
truthfulness of both.

I told her the story of another cross, connected with the surrender of
the Army of Northern Virginia. Colonel Aylett, of the Fifty-Third
Virginia, a very religious man, was talking with some friends when a
letter came bringing the sad tidings. "I do not believe it," he said.
"If it could be true I should not have faith in God or in prayer." As
he talked he took from his pocket a letter folded in the way that was
followed when we had no envelopes, and, cutting it, let it fall to the
floor. One of his companions took it up, placing the pieces on the
table to look for an address, and found that the fragments formed a
crucifix, the cross at each side to which the thieves were nailed, the
block supporting the crucifix, the block on which the dice were
thrown, the sponge and the reed, as if in imitation of a celebrated
painting of the Crucifixion.

"And this beautiful cross," said Mrs. Wilson, touching the one I wore,
"it must have a story, too." I replied that it had been in my family
for nearly three centuries, that General Pickett had worn it at the
battle of Gettysburg, and that it had been blessed by the Pope three
times. The last time, it was taken to Rome by Father Walter who, in
his long service as Rector of Saint Patrick's Church in Washington,
had by his sweet spirit of kindness and liberality endeared himself to
the whole community, regardless of religious differences. Mrs. Wilson
said that when she was in Washington she went to see Father Walter
because of his great kindness to the people of the South. She spoke,
too, of the most pathetic and tragic service of his life, his faithful
attendance upon Mrs. Surratt to the last awful moment.

In 1868 Augusta Evans was married to Mr. Lorenze M. Wilson, President
of the Mobile & Montana Railroad, and became mistress of the beautiful
home on the Spring Hill shell road near the picturesque city of
Mobile. The house looked toward the road through aisles of greenery
across a yard filled with flowers diffusing a perfume blended of
geraniums, roses, tropical plants and the blossoms of the North. A
chorus of birds filled the air with music. Majestic old live-oaks with
twilight veils of gray moss were like tall and stately nuns pausing
suddenly to count their beads to the music of vesper bells. Magnolia
trees in dense white blossom gave the impression that winter had
aroused from his summer sleep and unfolded his blanket of snow to add
his most beautiful touch to the charms of the golden days. A handsome
driveway led across a lawn to a veranda, vine-wreathed and hidden in a
crush of flowers. The house, divided by a wide hall, opened upon broad
piazzas. Leading up to it through brilliant blossoming was a white
path between sentinel lines of oak trees that reached out friendly
hands to clasp each other above the broad footway. Amid such beauty
one felt lost in a mystic world of which he had never dreamed and
revelled in a vision from which he might hope that there would be no
waking.

Augusta Jane Evans was born May 4, 1835, near Columbus, Georgia. "The
Queen City of the Chattahoochee" is enthroned in a pine forest amid a
range of hills that form a semi-circle about the city with its fine
wide streets and magnificent shade trees. The St. Elmo Institute for
girls, with its great oak grove and its beautiful lake, was the model
for the school in the book, "St. Elmo." Sweet memories of the
beautiful home in Columbus remained in the heart of Miss Evans and she
said in after years that many of the happiest days of her girlhood
were spent there. In later years she had here her "White Farm," on
which all the animals and fowls were white.

In her childhood the family removed to Galveston, Texas, going
afterward to San Antonio. In the two years spent here she studied
under the tutorship of her mother, who never gave up her charge to the
care of a professional teacher, though the responsibility of seven
other children might have furnished her with an excuse for doing so.

In the most enchanting city of Texas the future novelist was
surrounded by the romantic myths of Indian lore. On a day long past,
the miracle of the San Antonio River and its valley had burst upon the
enraptured eyes of Tremanos, the young Apache brave, from the hilltop
to which he had climbed with weary footsteps, followed by the gaunt
shadow of death, dazed by the phantoms on the distant horizon, lured
on by mystic spirit music brought to him on the wings of the scorching
winds; and he had gone with glad heart down into the rich and verdant
plains of "Tejas, the Beautiful."

Not far from the picturesque old city of San Antonio was the Huisache,
one of the three springs which join to form the San Antonio River.
Along its banks the gray dove's sad note was heard. When the two
Indian sisters, "Flower of Gladness" and "Flower of Pity," used to
come down to drink from the Spring of the Huisache the song of the
dove was all of joy. A youthful Indian brave of rare enchantment came
into their lives and brought love and treachery, and the assassin's
knife felled the Indian youth on the brink of the Huisache. "Flower of
Pity," coming to the spring, found the lifeless form of the young
warrior and snatched the knife from the wound and plunged it into her
own heart. A little later "Flower of Gladness" found her sister and
the Indian brave dead by the water's edge and straightway went mad.
Manitou graciously allowed the poor lost soul to find a voice for its
woes in the note of the dove and henceforth she was the mourning dove.
The lives of the youth and maiden, floating out in white clouds of
mist, descended into the earth and became two living springs which
united with the Huisache to form the San Antonio River.

In her story of "Inez," founded upon the most tragic event in the
history of the Lone Star State, the defence of the Alamo, Miss Evans
thus described the scene from the viewpoint of the newly arrived
immigrant:

    The river wound around the town like an azure girdle, gliding
    along the surface and reflecting in its deep blue waters the
    rustling tule which fringed the margin. An occasional pecan
    or live-oak flung a majestic shadow athwart its azure bosom.
    Now and then a clump of willows sigh low in the evening breeze.
    Far away to the north stretched a mountain range, blue in the
    distance; to the south lay the luxuriant valley of the stream.
    The streets were narrow and laid out with a total disregard of
    the points of the compass.

By this river of romantic beauty and old-time myth Augusta Evans spent
two of youth's impressionable years. On Main Plaza, near the Alamo,
where the Frost National Bank now stands, was the Evans store, where
she, the daughter of the store-keeper, lived. Almost under the shadow
of the tragically historic old mission, by the park near which Santa
Ana had his headquarters, she received the incentive and gathered the
material for her first novel, "Inez," written in her own room at night
as a gift with which to surprise her father and mother. The work of a
girl of fifteen, it did not appeal to many readers, but it contained a
vivid description of the inspired heroism and self-sacrifice of the
men whose deeds crowned the history of Texas with the sanctity of the
supreme glory of self-immolation upon the altar of patriotism. We have
fallen upon commercial days now, and the traditions of the old Alamo
circle around a warehouse. Alamo Plaza is now the scene of the annual
"Battle of the Flowers," a joyous and beautiful occasion which throws
a fragrant floral veil about the terrible memories that gloom over the
place.

At the close of the two years spent in San Antonio, the family
returned to Columbus and later found a home in Mobile, Alabama, the
town of the "Maubila," Choctaw, Indians. It is a pleasant town of
shaded streets, romantic drives and beautiful homes. Its history
reaches back through the centuries to a time long before the United
States had being, and it is the only American city that has seen five
flags wave over it: French, English, Spanish, United States and
Confederate.

While in this home Augusta Evans became widely known through the
publication in 1859 of her second novel, "Beulah." Then came the war,
bringing forth her one war-novel, "Macaria." "Vashti," "St. Elmo,"
"Infelice," "At the Mercy of Tiberius," the latter being her best,
followed in quick succession, until her marriage put a close to her
work, for Mr. Wilson was unwilling that she should tax her strength by
close application. Life in the delightful home furnished interest
enough to make resort to fiction unnecessary as an entertainment. In
1879 the death of Mr. Wilson ended the idyllic home life and she
returned to her desk, writing "The Speckled Bird" and "Devota," with a
pen that had lost much of its charm in the days of happy absorption.

Having no children of her own, Mrs. Wilson gave her devoted affection
to the children and grandchildren of her husband, who was a widower at
the time of their marriage.

It has been observed that the stories of Augusta Evans have no
location. They happen in any place where the people chance to be and,
given that kind of people, the story would evolve itself in the same
way anywhere else. But for her there was always a place in which
flowers grew and trees waved their branches to the breeze and made
mystic aisles of purpled glooms, shot through with glimpses of sun
amid silences broken happily by the songs of birds. There were always
the wide sky and dim reaches of space and great walls of majestic
mountains against the horizon. However gifted might be her maidens in
roaming amid the stars or delving in philosophic depths, they, like
herself, had always eyes for the beauties which Nature sets in place,
and why should all these things be geographically bounded and
designated by appellations to be recorded in the Postoffice Guide?

Being in Mobile some years ago, I called upon Mrs. Wilson after her
husband had passed on and left her alone in the charming home. She was
in her work-room, if a place so decoratively enchanting can be
connected with a subject so stern and prosaic, so crowded with
every-day commonplaceness, as work. It was a bower of beauty, with
light, graceful furniture, and pots of plants making cheerful greenery
at every available spot. Vases of flowers cut from her garden, tended
by her own care and love, were on desk and table and in sunny alcoves,
filling the room with a glory of color and a fragrance as of incense
from jewelled censers swung in adoration of the goddess of the
exquisite shrine.

Remembering that charming study as I saw it then, blossoming and
redolent with the flowers beloved of the heart of its mistress, I
wonder at times if all that beauty is still there and if some bright
soul, as in the dead days, is sunning itself in that warmth and glow.

The old home has passed into stranger hands, as Mrs. Wilson was
persuaded to sell it after the death of her husband and her removal to
the city.

In Magnolia Cemetery in the home city so dear to her, Augusta Evans
Wilson rests beside the brother whom she was seeking when her midnight
song thrilled the hearts of the defenders of the Stars and Bars on
Look-out Mountain. On her laurel-wreathed monument are the lines
written by Mr. De Leon when the dawn of one May morning brought him
the sad tidings that his friend of many years had passed from earth:

    Dead, in her fulness of years and of fame,
      What has she left?
    High on the roll of fair Duty, a name:
    Love, friends devoted as few mortals claim:
      A Nation bereft!





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