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´╗┐Title: Mayne Reid - A Memoir of his Life
Author: Reid, Elizabeth
Language: English
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Mayne Reid
A Memoir of his Life
By Elizabeth Reid
Published by Ward and Downey, 12 York Street, Convent Garden, London.
This edition dated 1890.

Mayne Reid, by Elizabeth Reid.





To most of the world, Captain Mayne Reid is known only as a writer of
thrilling romances and works on natural history.  It will appear in
these pages that he was also distinguished as a man of action and a
soldier, and the record of his many gallant deeds should still further
endear him to the hearts of his readers.

He was born in the north of Ireland, in April, 1818, at Ballyroney,
county Down, the eldest son of the Reverend Thomas Mayne Reid,
Presbyterian minister, a man of great learning and ability.  His mother
was the daughter of the Reverend Samuel Rutherford, a descendant of the
"hot and hasty Rutherford" mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion."

One of Mayne Reid's frequent expressions was: "I have all the talent of
the Reids and all the deviltry of the Rutherfords."  He certainly may be
said to have inherited at least the "hot and hasty temper" of his
mother's family, for his father, the Reverend Thomas Mayne Reid, was of
a most placid disposition, much beloved by his parishioners, and a
favourite alike with Catholics and Protestants.  It used to be said of
him by the peasantry, "Mr Reid is so polite he would bow to the ducks."
Several daughters had been born to them before the advent of their
first son.  He was christened Thomas Mayne, but in after life dropped
the Thomas, and was known only as Mayne Reid.  Other sons and daughters
followed, but Mayne was the only one destined to figure in the world's

Young Mayne Reid early evinced a taste for war.  When a small boy he was
often found running barefooted along the road after a drum and fife
band, greatly to his mother's dismay.  She chided him, saying, "What
will the folks think to see Mr Reid's son going about like this?"  To
which young Mayne replied, "I don't care.  I'd rather be Mr Drum than
Mr Reid."

It was the ardent wish of both parents that their eldest son should
enter the Church; and, at the age of sixteen, Mayne Reid was sent to
college to prepare for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, but
after four years' study, it was found that his inclinations were
altogether opposed to this calling.  He carried off prizes in
mathematics, classics, and elocution; distinguished himself in all
athletic sports; anything but theology.  It is recorded, on one occasion
when called upon to make a prayer, he utterly failed, breaking down at
the first few sentences.  It was called by his fellow-students "Reid's
wee prayer."

Captain Mayne Reid has been heard to say, "My mother would rather have
had me settle down as a minister, on a stipend of one hundred a year,
than know me to be the most famous man in history."

The good mother could never understand her eldest son's ambition; but
she was happy in seeing her second son, John, succeed his father as
pastor of Closkilt, Drumgooland.

In the month of January, 1810, Mayne Reid first set foot in the new
world--landing at New Orleans.  We quote his own words: "Like other
striplings escaped from college, I was no longer happy at home.  The
yearning for travel was upon me, and without a sigh I beheld the hills
of my native land sink behind the black waves, not much caring whether I
should ever see them again."

Soon after landing, he thus expressed himself, showing how little store
he set upon his classical training as a stock-in-trade upon which to
begin the battle of life: "And one of my earliest surprises--one that
met me on the very threshold of my Transatlantic existence--was the
discovery of my own utter uselessness.  I could point to my desk and
say, `There lie the proofs of my erudition; the highest prizes of my
college class.'  But of what use are they?  The dry theories I had been
taught had no application to the purposes of real life.  My logic was
the prattle of the parrot.  My classic lore lay upon my mind like
lumber; and I was altogether about as well prepared to struggle with
life--to benefit either my fellow-men or myself--as if I had graduated
in Chinese mnemonics.  And, oh! ye pale professors, who drilled me in
syntax and scansion, ye would deem me ungrateful indeed were I to give
utterance to the contempt and indignation which I then felt for ye;
then, when I looked back upon ten years of wasted existence spent under
your tutelage; then, when, after believing myself an educated man, the
illusion vanished, and I awoke to the knowledge that I knew nothing."

We shall not here follow Mayne Reid through the ever varying scenes of
this period--his life in Louisiana, encounters on the prairies with
buffaloes, grizzly bears, and Indians on the war-path with their
trophies of scalps; his excursions with trappers and Indians up the Red
River, the Missouri, and Platte--for all of these are embodied in his
writings, which contain more reality than romance.

Mayne Reid tried his hand at various occupations, both in the civilised
and uncivilised life of the new world.

For a brief space he was "storekeeper" and "nigger driver," then tutor
in the family of Judge Peyton Robertson, of Tennessee.  Soon tiring of
this, he set up a school of his own in the neighbourhood, erecting a
wooden building as school house, at his own expense.  He was very
popular as a teacher, but hunting in the backwoods being more to his
taste, he soon went in quest of fresh sport.

At Cincinnati, Ohio, by way of a change, he joined a company of
strolling players, but very soon convinced himself that play-acting was
not his _forte_.  This little episode in his life, the gallant Captain
was anxious to keep from the knowledge of his family in Ireland.  They,
strict Presbyterians as they were, looked upon play-actors as almost
lost to the evil one.  However, the fact got into print some years

Of all his varied adventures, the Captain would never tell us of his
failure in this one line of business, though he would dwell on his
talent as "storekeeper" and schoolmaster.

Between the years 1842 and 1846 we hear of him as a poet, newspaper
correspondent and editor.  In the autumn of 1842 Mayne Reid had reached
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Here he contributed poetry to the _Pittsburgh
Chronicle_, under the _nom de plume_ of the "Poor Scholar."  In the
spring of 1813 he settled in Philadelphia, and devoted all his energies
to literature, the most ambitious of his efforts being a poem, "La
Cubana," published in "Godey's Magazine."  Here he also produced a
five-act tragedy "Love's Martyr," which is full of dramatic power.

During Mayne Reid's residence in Philadelphia he made the acquaintance
of the American poet, Edgar Allan Poe, and the following account of the
poet's life, written by Mayne Reid some years later, in defence of his
much maligned friend, is of interest.

"Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I knew a man named Edgar Allan Poe.
I knew him as well as one man may know another, after an intimate and
almost daily association extending over a period of two years.  He was
then a reputed poet; I only an humble admirer of the Muses.

"But it is not of his poetic talent I here intend to speak.  I never
myself had a very exalted opinion of it--more especially as I knew that
the poem upon which rests the head corner-stone of his fame is not the
creation of Edgar Allan Poe, but of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  In
`Lady Geraldine's Courtship,' you will find the original of `The Raven.'
I mean the tune, the softly flowing measure, the imagery and a good
many of the words--even to the `rustling of the soft and silken

"This does not seem like defending the dead poet, nor, _as a poet_, is
his defence intended.  I could do it better were I to speak of his
prose, which for classic diction and keen analytic power has not been
surpassed in the republic of letters.  Neither to speak of his poetry,
or his prose, have I taken up the pen; but of what is, in my opinion, of
much more importance than either--his moral character.  Contrary to my
estimate, the world believes him to have been a great poet; and there
are few who will question his transcendent talents as a writer of prose.
But the world also believes him to have been a blackguard; and there
are but few who seem to dissent from this doctrine.

"I am one of this few; and I shall give my reasons, drawing them from my
own knowledge of the man.  In attempting to rescue his maligned memory
from the clutch of calumniators, I have no design to represent Edgar
Allan Poe as a model of what man ought to be, either morally or
socially.  I desire to obtain for him only strict justice; and if this
be accorded, I have no fear that those according it will continue to
regard him as the monster he has been hitherto depicted.  Rather may it
be that the hideous garment will be transferred from his to the
shoulders of his hostile biographer.

"When I first became acquainted with Poe he was living in a suburban
district of Philadelphia, called `Spring Garden.'  I have not been there
for twenty years, and, for aught I know, it may now be in the centre of
that progressive city.  It was then a quiet residential neighbourhood,
noted as the chosen quarter of the Quakers.

"Poe was no Quaker; but, I remember well, he was next-door neighbour to
one.  And in this wise: that while the wealthy co-religionist of William
Penn dwelt in a splendid four-story house, built of the beautiful
coral-coloured bricks for which Philadelphia is celebrated, the poet
lived in a lean-to of three rooms--there may have been a garret with a
closet--of painted plank construction, supported against the gable of
the more pretentious dwelling.

"If I remember aright, the Quaker was a dealer in cereals.  He was also
Poe's landlord; and, I think, rather looked down upon the poet--though
not from any question of character, but simply from his being fool
enough to figure as a scribbler and a poet.

"In this humble domicile I can say that I have spent some of the
pleasantest hours of my life--certainly some of the most intellectual.
They were passed in the company of the poet himself and his wife--a lady
angelically beautiful in person and not less beautiful in spirit.  No
one who remembers that dark-eyed, dark-haired daughter of Virginia--her
own name, if I rightly remember--her grace, her facial beauty, her
demeanour, so modest as to be remarkable--no one who has ever spent an
hour in her company but will endorse what I have above said.  I remember
how we, the friends of the poet, used to talk of her high qualities.
And when we talked of her beauty, I well knew that the rose-tint upon
her cheek was too bright, too pure to be of earth.  It was consumption's
colour--that sadly-beautiful light which beckons to an early tomb.

"In the little lean-to, besides the poet and his interesting wife, there
was but one other dweller.  This was a woman of middle age, and almost
masculine aspect.  She had the size and figure of a man, with a
countenance that, at first sight, seemed scarce feminine.  A stranger
would have been incredulous--surprised, as I was--when introduced to her
as the mother of that angelic creature who had accepted Edgar Poe as the
partner of her life.

"Such was the relationship; and when you came to know this woman better,
the masculinity of her person disappeared before the truly feminine
nature of her mind; and you saw before you a type of those grand
American mothers--such as existed in the days when block-houses had to
be defended, bullets run in red-hot saucepans, and guns loaded for sons
and husbands to fire them.  Just such a woman was the mother-in-law of
the poet Poe.  If not called upon to defend her home and family against
the assaults of the Indian savage, she was against that as ruthless, as
implacable, and almost as difficult to repel--poverty.  She was the
ever-vigilant guardian of the house, watching it against the silent but
continuous sap of necessity, that appeared every day to be approaching
closer and nearer.  She was the sole servant, keeping everything clean:
the sole messenger, doing the errands, making pilgrimages between the
poet and his publishers, frequently bringing back such chilling
responses as `The article not accepted,' or, `The cheque not to be given
until such and such a day'--often too late for his necessities.

"And she was also messenger to the market; from it bringing back, not
the `delicacies of the season,' but only such commodities as were called
for by the dire exigencies of hunger.

"And yet were there some delicacies.  I shall never forget how, when
peaches were in season and cheap, a pottle of these, the choicest gifts
of Pomona, were divested of their skins by the delicate fingers of the
poet's wife, and left to the `melting mood,' to be amalgamated with
Spring Garden cream and crystallised sugar, and then set before such
guests as came in by chance.

"Reader!  I know you will acknowledge this to be a picture of tranquil
domestic happiness; and I think you will believe me, when I tell you it
is truthful.  But I know also you will ask, `What has it to do with the
poet?' since it seems to reflect all the credit on his wife, and the
woman who called him her son-in-law.  For all yet said it may seem so;
but I am now to say that which may give it a different aspect.

"During two years of intimate personal association with Edgar Allan Poe,
I found in him the following phases of character, accomplishment and

"First: I discovered rare genius; not at all of the poetic order, not
even of the fanciful, but far more of a practical kind, shown in a power
of analytic reasoning such as few men possess, and which would have made
him the finest detective policeman in the world.  Vidocq would have been
a simpleton beside him.

"Secondly: I encountered a scholar of rare accomplishments--especially
skilled in the lore of Northern Europe, and more imbued with it than
with the southern and strictly classic.  How he had drifted into this
speciality I never knew.  But he had it in a high degree, as is apparent
throughout all his writings, some of which read like an echo of the
Scandinavian `Sagas.'

"Thirdly: I felt myself in communication with a man of original
character, disputing many of the received doctrines and dogmas of the
day; but only original in so far as to dispute them, altogether
regardless of consequences to himself or the umbrage he gave to his

"Fourthly: I saw before me a man to whom vulgar rumour had attributed
those personal graces supposed to attract the admiration of women.  This
is the usual description given of him in biographical sketches.  And
why, I cannot tell, unless it has been done to round off a piquant
paragraph.  His was a face purely intellectual.  Women might admire it,
thinking of this; but it is doubtful if many of them ever fell, or could
have fallen, in love with the man to whom it belonged.  I don't think
many ever did.  It was enough for one man to be beloved by one such
woman as he had for his wife.

"Fifthly: I feel satisfied that Edgar Allan Poe was not, what his
slanderers have represented him, a rake.  I know he was not; but in
truth the very opposite.  I have been his companion in one or two of his
wildest frolics, and can certify that they never went beyond the
innocent mirth in which we all indulge when Bacchus gets the better of
us.  With him the jolly god sometimes played fantastic tricks--to the
stealing away his brain, and sometimes, too, his hat--leaving him to
walk bareheaded through the streets at an hour when the sun shone too
clearly on his crown, then prematurely bald.

"While acknowledging this as one of Poe's failings, I can speak truly of
its not being habitual; only occasional, and drawn out by some
accidental circumstance--now disappointment; now the concurrence of a
social crowd, whose flattering friendship might lead to champagne, a
single glass of which used to affect him so much that he was hardly any
longer responsible for his actions, or the disposal of his hat.

"I have chronicled the poet's crimes, all that I ever knew him to be
guilty of, and, indeed, all that can be honestly alleged against him;
though many call him a monster.  It is time to say a word of his
virtues.  I could expatiate upon these far beyond the space left me; or
I might sum them up in a single sentence by saying that he was no worse
and no better than most other men.

"I have known him to be for a whole month closeted in his own house--the
little `shanty' supported against the gable of the rich Quaker--all the
time hard at work with his pen, poorly paid, and hard driven to keep the
wolf from his slightly-fastened door, intruded on only by a few select
friends, who always found him, what they knew him to be, a generous
host, an affectionate son-in-law and husband; in short, a respectable

"In the list of literary men, there has been no such spiteful biographer
as Dr Rufus Griswold, and never such a victim of posthumous spite as
poor Edgar Allan Poe."

Mayne Reid left Philadelphia in the spring of 1846, spending the summer
at Newport, Rhode Island, as correspondent to the _New York Herald_,
under the name of "Ecolier."  In September of the same year he was in
New York, and had secured a post on Wilkes' _Spirit of the Times_, but
in November he abandoned the pen for the sword.

The following extract from a letter of Mayne Reid to his father tells
something of his life in Philadelphia:

"Headquarters, U.S. Army,

"City of Mexico,

"January 20th, 1848.

"Can I expect that my silence for several years will be pardoned?  When
I last wrote you I made a determination that our correspondence, on my
side at least, should cease until I had made myself worthy of continuing
that correspondence.  Since then circumstances have enabled me to take
rank among _men_--to prove myself not unworthy of that gentle blood from
which I am sprung.  Oh, how my heart beats at the renewal of those
tender ties--paternal, fraternal, filial affection; those golden chains
of the heart so long, so sadly broken.

"If I mistake not, my last letter to you was written in the city of
Pittsburgh.  I was then on my way from the West to the cities of the
Atlantic.  Shortly after I reached Philadelphia, where for a while my
wild wanderings ceased.  In this city I devoted myself to literature,
and for a period of two or three years earned a scanty but honourable
subsistence with my pen.  My genius, unfortunately for my purse, was not
of that marketable class which prostitutes itself to the low literature
of the day.  My love for tame literature enabled me to remain poor--ay,
even obscure, if you will--though I have the consolation of knowing that
there are understandings, and those, too, of a high order, who believe
that my capabilities in this field are not surpassed, if equalled, by
any writer on this continent.  This is the under-current of feeling
regarding me in the United States; the current, I am happy to say, that
runs in the minds of the educated and intelligent.  Perhaps in some
future day this under-current may break through the surface, and shine
the brighter for having been so long concealed.

"But I have now neither time nor space for theories.  Facts will please
you better, my dear father and best friend.  During my trials as a
writer, my almost anonymous productions occasionally called forth warm
eulogies from the press.  A little gold rubbed into the palm of an
editor would have made them wonders!  During this time I made many
friends, but none of that class who were able and willing to lift me
from the sink of poverty.

"There are no Maecenases in the United States.  I found none to forge
golden wings for me, that I might fly to the heights of Parnassus.
During this probation I frequently sent you papers and magazines,
containing my productions, generally, I believe, under the _nom de
plume_ of `The Poor Scholar.'  Have these missiles ever reached you?  As
I have said, for three or four years I struggled on through this life of
literature, and amid the charlatanism and quackery of the age I found I
must descend to the everyday nothings of the daily press.  I edited,
corresponded, became disgusted.  The war broke out with Mexico.  I flung
down the pen and took up the sword.  I entered the regiment of New York
Volunteers as a 2nd lieutenant, and sailing--"

The letter is torn here, and the remaining portion has unfortunately
been lost.  The regiment in which Mayne Reid obtained a commission was
the 1st New York Volunteers, the first regiment raised in New York for
the Mexican War, and of which Ward B. Burnett was colonel.  Mayne Reid
sailed with his regiment in December, 1846, for Vera Cruz.



Shortly before his death Captain Mayne Reid conceived the idea of
publishing his recollections of the Mexican war, and had commenced to
roughly sketch out two or three chapters entitled "Mexican War
Memories."  From these the following account in his own words is taken.
The ink was scarcely dry on the last pages when he took to the bed from
which he never more arose.

"During the first months of 1847, the look-out sentinel stationed on the
crenated parapet of San Juan d'Ulloa must have seen an array of ships
unusual in numbers for that coast, so little frequented by mariners:
equally unusual in the kind of craft and the men on board.  For, in
addition to the half-score ships flying the flags of different nations,
some at anchor close to the Castle, some under the lee of Sacrificios
Isle, there was a stream of other craft out in the offing, not at anchor
or lying to, but passing coastwise up and down, beyond the most distant
range of cannon shot: craft of every size and speciality, schooners,
brigs, barques and square-rigged three-masters, from a 200-ton sloop to
a ship of as many thousands.  Not armed vessels either, though every one
of them was loaded to the water-line either with armed and uniformed men
or the materials of war; in the large ones a whole regiment of soldiers,
in the less, half a regiment, a consort ship containing the other half,
and in some but two or three companies, all they were capable of
accommodating.  Some carried cavalrymen with their horses, others
artillerymen with their mounts and batteries, while a large number were
but laden with the senseless material of war-tents, waggons, the effects
coming under the head of commissariat and quartermaster stores.  Not one
out of twenty of these vessels was an actual man-of-war.  But one might
be seen leading and guiding a group of the others, as if their convoy to
some known pre-arranged destination.  Just this were they doing,
escorting the transport ships to their anchorage pre-determined.

"Two such anchorages were there, quite thirty miles apart from one
another, though in the diaphanous atmosphere of the Vera Cruz coast a
bird of eagle eye soaring midway between could command a view of both.
The one northernmost was the Isle of Lobos; that south, Punta Anton
Lizardo.  To the first I shall take the reader, as to it I was first
taken myself.

"Lobos Islet lies off the Vera Cruz coast, opposite the town of Tuxpan,
and about two miles.  It is of circular form, and, if I remember
rightly, about a half-mile in diameter.  Its availability as an
anchorage comes from a surrounding of coral reefs, with a gap in its
northern side that admits ships into water the breakers cannot disturb.
Chiefly is it a harbour of refuge against the dreaded norther of the
Caribbean coast, and a vessel caught in one of these might run for it;
but not likely, unless her papers were not presentable to the Vera Cruz
custom house.  If they were, the shelter under Sacrificios would be
safer, and easily reached.  In later times the contrabandist a is the
man who has most availed himself of the advantages of Lobos, and in
times more remote the filibusters; the Tuxpan fishermen also
occasionally beach their boats upon it.  But that neither buccaneer,
smuggler, nor fisherman had frequented it lately, we had proof given us
at landing on its shore by its real denizens, the birds.  These--several
species of sea-fowl--were so tame they flew screaming over the heads of
the soldiers, so close that many were knocked down by their muskets.
They became shy enough anon.

"We found the island covered all over with a thick growth of
_chapparal_; it could not be called forest, as the tallest of the trees
was but some fifteen or twenty feet in height.  The species were varied,
most of them of true tropical character, and amongst them was one that
attracted general attention as being the `india-rubber tree'.  Whether
it was the true _siphonica elastica_ I cannot say, though likely it was
that or an allied species.

"A peculiarity of this isle, and one making it attractive to
contrabandista and filibusters, is that fresh water is found on it.
Near its summit centre, not over six feet above the ocean level, is a
well or hole, artificially dug out in the sand, some six feet deep.  The
water in this rises and falls with the tide, a law of hydraulics not
well understood.  Its taste is slightly brackish, but for all that was
greatly relished by us--possibly from having been so long upon the
cask-water of the transport ships.  Near this well we found an old
musket and loading pike, rust-eaten, and a very characteristic souvenir
of the buccaneers; also the unburied skeleton of a man, who may have
been one of their victims.

"The troops landed on Lobos were the 1st New York Volunteers, S.
Carolina, 1st and 2nd Pennsylvania, etc, etc.  One of the objects in
this debarkation was to give these new regiments an opportunity for
drilling, such as the time might permit, before making descent upon the
Mexican coast.  But there was no drill-ground there, as we saw as soon
as we set foot on shore--not enough of open space to parade a single
regiment in line, unless it were formed along the ribbon of beach.

"On discovery of this want, there followed instant action to supply it--
a curious scene, hundreds of uniformed men plying axe and chopper,
hewing and cutting, even the officers with their sabres slashing away at
the _chapparal_ of Lobos Island: a scene of great activity, and not
without interludes of amusement, as now and then a snake, scorpion, or
lizard, dislodged from its lair and attempting escape, drew a group of
relentless enemies around it.

"In fine, enough surface was cleared for camp and parade-ground.  Then
up went soldiers' bell-tents and officers' marquees, in company rows and
regimental, each regiment occupying its allotted ground.

"The old buccaneers may have caroused in Lobos, but never could they
have been merrier than we, nor had they ampler means for promoting
cheer, even though resting there after a successful raid.  Both our
sutlers and the skippers of our transport ships, with a keen eye to
contingencies, were well provided with stores of the fancy sort; many
the champagne cork had its wire fastenings cut on Lobos, and probably
now, in that bare isle, would be found an array of empty bottles lying
half buried in the sand.

"Any one curious about the life we led on Lobos Island will find some
detailed description of it in a book I have written called `The Rifle
Rangers,' given to the public as a romance, yet for all more of a

"Our sojourn there was but brief, ending in a fortnight or so, still it
may have done something to help out the design for which it was made.
It got several regiments of green soldiers through the `goose-step,'
and, better still, taught them the ways of camp and campaigning life.

"Mems.--A fright from threatened small-pox, trouble with insects,
scorpions and little crabs.  Also curious case of lizard remaining on my
tent ridge pole for days without moving.  No wonder at Shakespeare's
`Chameleon feeding on air.'  Amusements, stories, and songs; mingling of
mariners with soldiers.  Norther just after landing, well protected
under Lobos.

"_La Villa Rica de Vera Cruz_ (the rich city of the True Cross), viewed
from the sea, presents a picture unique and imposing.  It vividly
reminded me of the vignette engravings of cities in Goldsmith's old
geography, from which I got my earliest lessons about foreign lands.
And just as they were bordered by the engraver's lines, so is Vera Cruz
embraced by an _enceinte_ of wall.  For it is a walled city without
suburbs, scarce a building of any kind beyond the parapet and fosse
engirdling it.  Roughly speaking, its ground plan is a half circle,
having the sea-shore for diameter, this not more than three-quarters of
a mile in length.  There is no beach or strand intervening between the
houses and the sea, the former overlooking the latter, and protected
from its wash by a breakwater buttress.

"The architecture is altogether unlike that of an American or English
seaport of similar size.  Substantially massive, yet full of graceful
lines, most of the private dwellings are of the Hispano-Moriscan order,
flat-roofed and parapetted, while the public buildings, chiefly the
churches, display a variety of domes, towers and turrets worthy of Inigo
Jones or Christopher Wren.

"From near the centre of the semicircle a pier or mole, El Muello,
projects about a hundred yards into the sea, and on this all visiting
voyagers have to make landing, as at its inner end stands the custom
house (_aduana_).  Fronting this on an islet, or rather a reef of coral
rocks, stands the fortress castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, off shore about a
quarter of a mile.  It is a low structure with the usual caramite
coverings and crenated parapet, surmounted by a watch and flag-tower.

"The anchorage near it is neither good nor ample, better being found
under the lee of Sacrificios, a small treeless islet lying south of it
nearly a league, and, luckily for us, beyond the range of Ulloa's guns,
as also those of a fort at the southern extremity of the city.

"Hundreds of ships may ride there in safety, though not so many nor so
safe as at Anton Lizardo.  Perhaps never so many, nor of such varied
kind, were brought to under it as on March 9th, 1847.

"The surf boats are worthy of a word, as without them our beaching would
have been difficult and dangerous, if not impossible.  They were of the
whale boat speciality, and, as I remember, of two sizes.  The larger
were built to carry two hundred men, the smaller half this number.  Most
of them were brought to Anton Lizardo in two large vessels, and so
hastily had they been built and dispatched, that there had not been time
to paint them, all appearing in that pale slate colour known to painters
as the priming coat.  Of course none had any decking, only the thwarts.

"The commander-in-chief had made requisition for 150 of these boats,
though only sixty-nine arrived at Anton Lizardo in time to serve the
purpose they were intended for.

"The capture of Vera Cruz was an event alike creditable to the army and
navy of the United States, for both bore part in it; and creditable not
only on account of the courage displayed, but the strategic skill.  It
was, in truth, one of those _coups_ in which boldness was backed up by
intelligence even to cunning, this last especially shown in the way we
effected a landing.

"The fleet, as already said, lay at Anton Lizardo, each day receiving
increase from new arrivals.  When at length all that were expected had
come to anchor there, the final preparations were made for descent upon
the land of Montezuma, and all we now waited for was a favouring wind.
I do not remember how many steam vessels we had, but I think only two or
three.  Could we have commanded the services of a half-score steam tugs,
the landing might have been effected at an earlier date.

"The day came when the wind proved all that was wanted.  A light
southerly breeze, blowing up coast almost direct for Vera Cruz, had
declared itself before sunrise, and by earliest daybreak all was
activity.  Alongside each transport ship, as also some of the war
vessels, would be seen one or more of the great lead-coloured boats
already alluded to, with streams of men backing down the man-ropes and
taking seat in them.  These men were soldiers in uniform and full
marching order.  Knapsacks strapped on, haversacks filled and slung,
cartouche box on hip, and gun in hand.  In perfect order was the
transfer made from ship to boat, and, when in the boats, each company
had its own place as on a parade-ground.  Where it was a boat that held
two companies, one occupied the forward thwarts, the other the stern,
their four officers--captain, first lieutenant, second and brevet--
conforming to their respective places.

"But there were other than soldiers in the boat, each having its
complement of sailors from the ships.

"A gun from the ship that carried our commander-in-chief gave the signal
for departure from Punta Anton Lizardo, and while its boom was still
reverberating, ship after ship was seen to spread sail; then, one after
another, under careful pilotage, slipped out through the roadway of the
coral reef, steaming up coast straight for Vera Cruz, the doomed city.

"While sweeping up the coast, I can perfectly remember what my own
feelings were, and how much I admired the strategy of the movement.  Who
should get credit for it I cannot tell.  But I can hardly think that
Winfield Scott's was the head that planned this enterprise, my after
experience with this man guiding me to regard him as a soldier
incapable--in short, such as late severe critics have called him, `fuss
and feathers.'  `The hasty plate of soup' was then ringing around his
name.  Whoever planned it is deserving of great praise.  Its ingenuity,
misleading our enemy, lay in making the latter believe that we intended
to make landing at Anton Lizardo.  Hence all his disposable force that
could be spared from the garrison of Vera Cruz was there to oppose us.
And when our ships hastily drew in anchor and went straight for Vera
Cruz, as hawks at unprotected quarry, these detached garrison troops saw
the mistake they had made.  The coast road from Vera Cruz to Anton
Lizardo is cut by numerous streams, all bridgeless.  To cross them
safely needed taking many a roundabout route--so many that the swiftest
horse could not reach Vera Cruz so soon as our slowest ship, and we were
there before them.  We did not aim to enter the port nor come within
range of its defending batteries, least of all those of San Juan
d'Ulloa.  The islet of Sacrificios, about a league from the latter,
whose southern end affords sheltering anchorage, was the point we aimed
at; and there our miscellaneous flotilla became concentrated, some of
the ships dropping anchor, others remaining adrift.  Then the beaching
boats, casting off hawsers, were rowed straight for the shore, some half
mile off.  A shoal strand it was, where a boat's keel touched bottom
long before reaching dry land.  That in which I was did so, and well do
I remember how myself and comrades at once sprang over the gunwales,
and, waist deep, waded out to the sand-strewn shore.

"There we encountered no enemy--nothing to obstruct us.  All the
antagonism we met with or saw was a stray shot or two from some
long-range guns mounted on the parapet of the most southern fort of the
city.  But we had now our feet sure planted on the soil of Mexico."



I give now some accounts written by Mayne Reid of the various
engagements of the American army in Mexico.  Some of these were written
from the seat of war, and others subsequently.

"The capture of Vera Cruz was an affair of artillery.  The city was
bombarded for several days by a semicircle of batteries placed upon the
sandhills in its rear.  It at length surrendered, and with it the
celebrated castle of San Juan d'Ulloa.

"During the siege a few of us who were fond of fighting found
opportunities of being shot at in the back country.  The sandhills--
resembling Murlock Banks, only more extensive--form a semicircle round
Vera Cruz.  The city itself, compactly built, and of picturesque
appearance, stands upon a low sandy plain--semicircular, of course--the
sea-shore being the boundary diameter.  Behind the hills of sand, for
leagues inward, extends a low jungly country, covered with the forests
of tropical America.  This, like all the coast lands of Mexico, is
called the _tierra caliente_ (hot land).  This region is far from being
uninhabited.  These thickets have their clearings and their cottages,
the latter of the most temporary construction that may serve the wants
of man in a climate of almost perpetual summer.  There are also several
villages scattered through this part of the _tierra caliente_.

"During the siege the inhabitants of these cottages (_ranchos_) and
villages banded together under the name _jarochos_ or _guerrilleros_,
but better known to our soldiers by the general title _rancheros_, and
kept up a desultory warfare in our rear, occasionally committing murders
on straggling parties of soldiers who had wandered from our lines.

"Several expeditions were sent out against them, but with indifferent
success.  I was present in many of these expeditions, and on one
occasion, when in command of about thirty men, I fell in with a party of
_guerrilleros_ nearly a hundred strong, routed them, and, after a
straggling fight of several hours, drove them back upon a strong
position, the village of Medellini.  In this skirmish I was fired at by
from fifty to a hundred muskets and escopettes, and, although at the
distance of not over two hundred yards, had the good fortune to escape
being hit.

"One night I was sent in command of a scouting party to reconnoitre a
guerilla camp supposed to be some five miles away in the country.  It
was during the mid-hours of the night, but under one of those brilliant
moonlights for which the cloudless sky of Southern Mexico is celebrated.
Near the edge of an opening--the prairie of Santa Fe--our party was
brought suddenly to a halt at the sight of an object that filled every
one of us with horror.  It was the dead body of a soldier, a member of
the corps to which the scouting party belonged.  The body lay at full
length upon its back; the hair was clotted with blood and standing out
in every direction; the teeth were clenched in agony; the eyes glassy
and open, as if glaring upon the moon that shone in mid-heaven above.
One arm had been cut off at the elbow, while a large incision in the
left breast showed where the heart had been torn out, to satisfy the
vengeance of an inhuman enemy.  There were shot wounds and sword cuts
all over the body, and other mutilations made by the zopilotes and
wolves.  Notwithstanding all, it was recognised as that of a brave young
soldier, who was much esteemed by his comrades, and who for two days had
been missing from the camp.  He had imprudently strayed beyond the line
of pickets, and fallen into the hands of the enemy's _guerrilleros_.

"The men would not pass on without giving to his mutilated remains the
last rites of burial.  There was neither spade nor shovel to be had; but
fixing bayonets, they dug up the turf, and depositing the body, gave it
such sepulture as was possible.  One who had been his bosom friend,
cutting a slip from a bay laurel close by, planted it in the grave.  The
ceremony was performed in deep silence, for they knew that they were on
dangerous ground, and that a single shout or shot at that moment might
have been the signal for their destruction.

"I afterwards learnt that this fiendish act was partly due to a spirit
of retaliation.  One of the American soldiers, a very brutal fellow, had
shot a Mexican, a young Jarocho peasant, who was seen near the roadside
chopping some wood with his machete.  It was an act of sheer wantonness,
or for sport, just as a thoughtless boy might fire at a bird to see
whether he could kill it.  Fortunately the Mexican was not killed, but
his elbow was shattered by the shot so badly that the whole arm required
amputation.  It was the wantonness of the act that provoked retaliation;
and after this the _lex talionis_ became common around Vera Cruz, and
was practised in all its deadly severity long after the place was taken.
Several other American soldiers, straying thoughtlessly beyond the
lines, suffered in the same way, their bodies being found mutilated in a
precisely similar manner.  Strange to say, the man who was the cause of
this vengeance became himself one of its victims.  Not then, at Vera
Cruz, but long afterwards, in the Valley of Mexico; and this was the
strangest part of it.  Shortly after the American army entered the
capital, his body was found in the canal of Las Vigas, alongside the
`Chinampas,' or floating gardens, gashed all over with wounds, made by
the knives of assassins, and mutilated just as the others had been.  It
might have been a mere coincidence, but it was supposed at the time that
the one-armed Jarocho must have followed him up, with that implacable
spirit of vengeance characteristic of his race, until at length, finding
him alone, he had completed his vendetta.

"Vera Cruz being taken, we marched for the interior.  Puente Nacional,
the next strong point, had been fortified, but the enemy, deeming it too
weak, fell back upon Cerro Gordo, another strong pass about twenty miles
from the former.  Here they were again completely routed, although
numbering three times our force.  In this action I was cheated out of
the opportunity of having my name recorded, by the cowardice or
imbecility of the major of my regiment, who on that day commanded the
detachment of which I formed part.  In an early part of the action I
discovered a large body of the enemy escaping through a narrow gorge
running down the face of a high precipice.  The force which this officer
commanded had been sufficient to have captured these fugitives, but he
not only refused to go forward, but refused to give me a sufficient
command to accomplish the object.  I learnt afterwards that Santa Anna,
commander-in-chief of the Mexican army, had escaped by this gorge.

"After the victory of Cerro Gordo, the army pushed forward to Jalapa, a
fine village half-way up the table-lands.  After a short rest here we
again took the road, and crossing a spur of the Cordilleras, swept over
the plains of Perote, and entered the city of Puebla.  Yes, with a force
of 3,000 men, we entered that great city, containing a population of at
least 75,000.  The inhabitants were almost paralysed with astonishment
and mortification at seeing the smallness of our force.  The balconies,
windows and house-tops were crowded with spectators; and there were
enough men in the streets--had they been men--to have stoned us to
death.  At Puebla we halted for reinforcements a period of about two

"In the month of August, 1847, we numbered about 12,000 effective men,
and leaving a small garrison here, with the remainder--10,000--we took
the road for the capital.  The city of Mexico lies about eighty miles
from Puebla.  Half-way, another spur of the Andes must be crossed.  On
the 10th of August, with an immense siege and baggage-train, we moved
over these pine-clad hills, and entered the Valley of Mexico.  Here halt
was made for reconnaissance, which lasted several days.  The city stands
in the middle of a marshy plain interspersed with lakes, and is entered
by eight roads or causeways.  These were known to be fortified, but
especially that which leads through the gate San Lazaro, on the direct
road to Puebla.  This was covered by a strong work on the hill El Pinol,
and was considered by General Scott as next to impregnable.  To turn
this, a wide diversion to the north or south was necessary.  The latter
was adopted, and an old road winding around Lake Chalco--through the old
town of that name, and along the base of the southern mountain ridge--
was found practicable.

"We took this road, and after a slow march of four days our vanguard
debouched on the great National Road, which rounds southward from the
city of Mexico to Acapulco.  This road was also strongly fortified, and
it was still further resolved to turn the fortifications on it by making
more to the west.  San Augustin de las Cuenas, a village five leagues
from Mexico on the National Road, became the point of reserve.  On the
19th of August, General Worth moved down the National Road, as a feint
to hold the enemy in check at San Antonio (strongly fortified) while the
divisions of Generals Worth and Twiggs, with the brigade of Shields--to
which I was attached--commenced moving across the Pedregal, a tract of
country consisting of rocks, jungle and lava, and almost impassable.  On
the evening of the 19th, we had crossed the Pedregal, and became engaged
with a strong body of the enemy under General Valencia, at a place
called Contreras.  Night closed on the battle, and the enemy still held
his position.

"It rained all night; we sat, not slept, in the muddy lanes of a poor
village, San Geronimo--a dreadful night.  Before daybreak, General
Persifer Smith, who commanded in this battle, had taken his measures,
and shortly after sunrise we were at it again.  In less than an hour
that army `of the north,' as Valencia's division was styled, being men
of San Luis Potosi and other northern States, the flower of the Mexican
army, was scattered and in full flight for the city of Mexico.

"This army was 6,000 strong, backed by a reserve of 6,000 more under
Santa Anna himself.  The reserve did not act, owing, it was said, to
some jealousy between Valencia and Santa Anna.  In this battle we
captured a crowd of prisoners and twenty seven pieces of artillery.

"The road, as we supposed, was now open to the city; a great mistake, as
the sharp skirmishes which our light troops encountered as we advanced
soon led us to believe.  All at once we stumbled upon the main body of
the enemy, collected behind two of the strongest field works I have ever
seen, in a little village called Cherubusco.

"The road to the village passed over a small stream spanned by a bridge,
which was held in force by the Mexicans, and it soon became evident
that, unless something like a flank movement were made, they would not
be dislodged.  The bridge was well fortified and the army attacked
fruitlessly in front.

"General Shields' brigade was ordered to go round by the hacienda of Los
Portales and attack the enemy on the flank.  They got as far as the
barns at Los Portales, but would go no farther.  They were being shot
down by scores, and the men eagerly sought shelter behind walls or
wherever else it could be found.  Colonel Ward B. Burnett made a
desperate attempt to get the companies together, but it was
unsuccessful, and he himself fell, badly wounded.

"The situation had become very critical.  I was in command of the
Grenadier Company of New York Volunteers, and saw that a squadron of
Mexican lancers were getting ready to charge, and knew that if they came
on while the flanking party were in such a state of disorganisation the
fight would end in a rout.  On the other hand, if we charged on them,
the chances were the enemy would give way and run.  In any case, nothing
could be worse than the present state of inaction and slaughter.

"The lieutenant-colonel of the South Carolina Volunteers--their colonel,
Butler, having been wounded, was not on the field--was carrying the blue
palmetto flag of the regiment.  I cried out to him:

"`Colonel, will you lead the men on a charge?'

"Before he could answer, I heard something snap, and the colonel fell,
with one leg broken at the ankle by a shot.  I took the flag, and as the
wounded officer was being carried off the field, he cried:

"`Major Gladden, take the flag.  Captain Blanding, remember Moultrie,
Loundes and old Charleston!'

"Hurrying back to my men, reaching them on the extreme right, I rushed
on in front of the line, calling out: `Soldiers, will you follow me to
the charge?'

"`Ve vill!' shouted Corporal Haup, a Swiss.  The order to charge being
given, away we went, the Swiss and John Murphy, a brave Irishman, being
the first two after their leader--myself.

"The Mexicans seeing cold steel coming towards them with such gusto,
took to their heels and made for the splendid road leading to the city
of Mexico, which offered unequalled opportunities for flight.

"A broad ditch intervened between the highway and the field across which
we were charging.  Thinking this was not very deep, as it was covered
with a green scum, I plunged into it.  It took me nearly up to the
armpits, and I struggled out all covered with slime and mud.  The men
avoided my mishap, coming to the road by a dryer but more roundabout

"As we got on the road Captain Phil Kearney came thundering over the
bridge with his company, all mounted on dappled greys.  The gallant Phil
had a weakness for dappled greys.  As they approached I sang out: `Boys,
have you breath enough left to give a cheer for Captain Kearney?'

"Phil acknowledged the compliment with a wave of his sword, as he went
swinging by towards the works the enemy had thrown up across this road.
Just as he reached this spot, the recall bugle sounded, and at that
moment Kearney received the shot that cost him an arm.

"Disregarding the bugle call, we of the infantry kept on, when a rider
came tearing up, calling upon us to halt.

"`What for?'  I cried.

"`General Scott's orders.'

"`We shall rue this halt,' was my rejoinder.  `The city is at our mercy;
we can take it now, and should.'

"Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter, then in command of the New York Volunteers,
called out:

"`For God's sake, Mayne Reid, obey orders, and halt the men.'

"At this appeal I faced round to my followers, and shouted `Halt!'

"The soldiers came up abreast of me, and one big North Irishman cried:

"`Do you say halt?'

"I set my sword towards them, and again shouted `Halt!'  This time I was
obeyed, the soldiers crying out:

"`We'll halt for you, sir, but for nobody else.'"



Captain Mayne Reid continues the account: "Thus was the American army
halted in its victorious career on the 20th of August.  Another
hour, and it would have been in the streets of Mexico.  The
commander-in-chief, however, had other designs; and with the bugle
recall that summoned the dragoons to retire, all hostile operations
ended for the time.  The troops slept upon the field.

"On the following day the four divisions of the American army separated
for their respective headquarters in different villages.  Worth crossed
over to Tacubaya, which became the headquarters of the army; Twiggs held
the village of San Angel; Pillow rested at Miscuac, a small Indian
village between San Angel and Tacubaya, while the Volunteer and Marine
division fell back on San Augustine.  An armistice had been entered into
between the commanders-in-chief of the two armies.

"This armistice was intended to facilitate a treaty of peace; for it was
thought that the Mexicans would accept any terms rather than see their
ancient city at the mercy of a foreign army.  No doubt, however, a great
mistake was made, as the armistice gave the crafty Santa Anna a chance
to fortify an inner line of defence, the key to which was the strong
Castle of Chapultepec, which had to be taken three weeks later with the
loss of many brave men.

"The commissioners of both governments met at a small village near
Tacubaya, and the American commissioner demanded, as a necessary
preliminary to peace, the cession of Upper and Lower California, all New
Mexico, Texas, parts of Sonora, Coahuila and Tamaulipas.  Although this
was in general a wild, unsettled tract of country, yet it constituted
more than one-half the territory of Mexico, and the Mexican
commissioners would not, even if they dared, agree to such a
dismemberment.  The armistice was therefore abortive, and on the 6th of
September, the American commander-in-chief sent a formal notice to the
enemy that it had ceased to exist.  This elicited from Santa Anna an
insulting reply, and on the same day the enemy was seen in great force
to the left of Tacubaya, at a building called Molino del Rey, which was
a large stone mill, with a foundry, belonging to the government, and
where most of their cannon had been made.  It is a building notorious in
the annals of Mexican history as the place where the unfortunate Texan
prisoners suffered the most cruel treatment from their barbarous
captors.  It lies directly under the guns of Chapultepec, from which it
is distant about a quarter of a mile, and it is separated from the hill
of Chapultepec by a thick wood of almond trees.

"On the afternoon of the 7th of September, Captain Mason, of the
Engineers, was sent to reconnoitre the enemy's position.  His right lay
at a strong stone building, with bastions, at some distance from Molino
del Rey, while his left rested in the works around the latter.

"The building on the right is called Casa Mata.  It is to be presumed
that this position of the enemy was taken to prevent our army from
turning the Castle of Chapultepec and entering the city by the Tacubaya
road and the gate San Cosme.  All the other _garitas_, Piedas, Nino
Perdido, San Antonio and Belen were strongly fortified, and guarded by a
large body of the enemy's troops.  Having in all at this time about
30,000 men, they had no difficulty in placing a strong guard at every
point of attack.

"On the 7th General Worth was ordered to attack and carry the enemy's
lines at Molino del Rey.  His attack was to be planned on the night of
the 7th and executed on the morning of the 8th.

"On the night of the 7th the 1st Division, strengthened by a brigade of
the 3rd, moved forward in front of the enemy.  The dispositions made
were as follows:

"It was discovered that the weakest point of the enemy's lines was at a
place about midway between the Casa Mata and Molino del Rey.  This
point, however, was strengthened by a battery of several guns.

"An assaulting party of 500 men, commanded by Major Wright, were
detailed to attack the battery, after it had been cannonaded by Captain
Huger with the battering guns.  To the right of this assaulting party
Garland's brigade took position within supporting distance.

"On our left, and to the enemy's right, Clark's brigade, commanded by
Brevet-Colonel Mackintosh, with Duncan's battery, were posted; while the
supporting brigade from Pillow's division lay between the assaulting
column and Clark's brigade.

"At break of day the action commenced.  Huger, with the 24th, opened on
the enemy's centre.  Every discharge told; and the enemy seemed to
retire.  No answer was made from his guns.  Worth, becoming at length
convinced--fatal conviction--that the works in the centre had been
abandoned, ordered the assaulting column to advance.

"These moved rapidly down the slope, Major Wright leading.  When they
had arrived within about half musket shot the enemy opened upon this
gallant band the most dreadful fire it has ever been the fate of a
soldier to sustain.  Six pieces from the field battery played upon their
ranks; while the heavy guns from Chapultepec, and nearly six thousand
muskets from the enemy's entrenchments, mowed them down in hundreds.
The first discharge covered the ground with dead and dying.  One half
the command at least fell with this terrible cataract of bullets.  The
others, retiring for a moment, took shelter behind some magney, or, in
fact, anything that would lend a momentary protection.

"The light battalion and the 11th Infantry now came to their relief, and
springing forward amid the clouds of smoke and deadly fire, the enemy's
works were soon in our possession.  At the same time the right and left
wing had become hotly engaged with the left and right of the enemy.
Garland's brigade, with Duncan's battery, after driving out a large body
of infantry, occupied the mills, while the command of Colonel Mackintosh
attacked the Casa Mata.

"This building proved to be a strong work with deep ditches and
entrenchments.  The brigade moved rapidly forward to assault it, but on
reaching the wide ditch the tremendous fire of muskets to which they
were exposed, as well as the heavy guns from the Castle, obliged them to
fall back on their own battery.

"Duncan now opened his batteries upon this building, and with such
effect that the enemy soon retreated from it, leaving it unoccupied.

"At this time the remaining brigade of Pillow's division, as well as
that of Twiggs', came on the ground, but they were too late.  The enemy
had already fallen back, and Molino del Rey and the Casa Mata were in
possession of the American troops.  The latter was shortly after blown
up, and all the implements in the foundry, with the cannon moulds,
having been destroyed, our army was ordered to return to Tacubaya.

"Thus ended one of the most bloody and fruitless engagements ever fought
by the American army.  Six hundred and fifty of our brave troops were
either killed or wounded, while the loss of the enemy did not amount to
more than half this number.

"The fatal action at Molino del Rey cast a gloom over the whole army.
Nothing had been gained.  The victorious troops fell back to their
former positions, and the vanquished assumed a bolder front, celebrating
the action as a victory.  The Mexican commander gave out that the attack
was intended for Chapultepec, and had consequently failed.  This, among
his soldiers, received credence and doubled their confidence; we, on the
other hand, called it a victory on our side.  Another such victory and
the American army would never have left the Valley of Mexico.

"On the night of the 11th of September, at midnight, two small parties
of men were seen to go out from the village of Tacubaya, moving silently
along different roads.  One party directed itself along an old road
toward Molino del Rey, and about half-way between the village and this
latter point halted.  The other moved a short distance along the direct
road to Chapultepec and halted in like manner.  They did not halt to
sleep; all night long these men were busy piling up earth, filling
sand-bags, and laying the platforms of a gun battery.

"When day broke these batteries were finished, their guns in position,
and, much to the astonishment of the Mexican troops, a merry fire was
opened upon the Castle.  This fire was soon answered, but with little
effect.  By ten o'clock another battery from Molino del Rey, with some
well-directed shots from a howitzer at the same point, seemed to annoy
the garrison exceedingly.

"A belt of wood lies between the Castle and Molino del Rey on the south.
A stone wall surrounds these woods.  Well-garrisoned, Chapultepec would
be impregnable.  The belief is that 1,000 Americans could hold it
against all Mexico.  They might starve them out, or choke them with
thirst, but they could not drive them out of it.  There are but few
fortresses in the world so strong in natural advantages.

"During the whole of the 12th the shot from the American batteries kept
playing upon the walls of the Castle, answered by the guns of the
fortress, and an incessant fire of musketry was kept up by the
skirmishing party in the woods of Molino del Rey.  Towards evening the
Castle began to assume a battered and beleaguered appearance.  Shot and
shell had made ruin on every point, and several of the enemy's guns were

"To enumerate the feats of artillerists on this day would fill a volume.
A twenty-pound shot from a battery commanded by Captain Huger and
Lieutenant Hagney entered the muzzle of one of the enemy's howitzers and
burst the piece.  It was not a chance shot.  This battery was placed on
the old road between Tacubaya and Molino del Rey.  The gate of the
Castle fronts this way, and the Calzada, or winding road from the Castle
to the foot of the hill, was exposed to the fire.  As the ground lying
to the north and east of Chapultepec was still in possession of the
enemy, a constant intercourse was kept up with the Castle by this

"On the morning of the 11th, however, when Huger's and Hagney's battery
opened, the Calzada became a dangerous thoroughfare.  The latter officer
found that his shot thrown on the face of the road ricochetted upon the
walls with terrible effect, and consequently most of his shots were
aimed at this point.  It was amusing to see the Mexican officers who
wished to enter or go out of the Castle wait until Hagney's guns were
discharged, and then gallop over the Calzada as if the devil were after

"A Mexican soldier at the principal gate was packing a mule with

"`Can you hit that fellow, Hagney?' was asked.

"`I'll try,' was the quiet and laconic reply.  The long gun was pointed
and levelled.  At this moment the soldier stooped by the side of the
mule in the act of tightening the girth.  `Fire!' said Hagney, and
almost simultaneous with the shot a cloud of dust rose over the
causeway.  When this cleared away the mule was seen running wild along
the Calzada, while the soldier lay dead by the wall.

"On the day when Chapultepec was stormed, September 13th, 1847, I was in
command of the Grenadier Company of 2nd New York Volunteers--my own--and
a detachment of United States Marines, acting with us as light infantry,
my orders being to stay by and guard the battery we had built on the
south-eastern side of the Castle during the night of the 11th.  It was
about a thousand yards from, and directly in front of, the Castle's main
gate, through which our shots went crashing all the day.  The first
assault had been fixed for the morning of the 13th, a storming party of
500 men, or `forlorn hope,' as it was called, having volunteered for
this dangerous duty.  These were of all arms of the service, a captain
of regular infantry having charge of them, with a lieutenant of
Pennsylvanian Volunteers as his second in command.

"At an early hour the three divisions of our army, Worth's, Pillow's and
Quitman's, closed in upon Chapultepec, our skirmishers driving the
enemy's outposts before them; some of these retreating up the hill and
into the Castle, others passing around it and on towards the city.

"It was now expected that our storming party would do the work assigned
to it, and for which it had volunteered.  Standing by our battery, at
this time necessarily silent, with the artillery and engineer officers
who had charge of it, Captain Huger and Lieutenant Hagney, we three
watched the advance of the attacking line, the puffs of smoke from
musketry and rifles indicating the exact point to which it had reached.
Anxiously we watched it.  I need not say, nor add, that our anxiety
became apprehension when we saw that about half-way up the slope there
was a halt, something impeding its forward movement.  I knew that if
Chapultepec were not taken, neither would the city, and failing this,
not a man of us might ever leave the Valley of Mexico alive.

"Worth's injudicious attempt upon the intrenchments of Molino del Rey--
to call it by no harsher name--our first retreat during the campaign,
had greatly demoralised our men, while reversely affecting the Mexicans,
inspiring them with a courage they had never felt before.  And there
were 30,000 of these to our 6,000--five to one--to say nothing of a host
of _rancheros_ in the country around and _leperos_ in the city, all
exasperated against us, the invaders.  We had become aware, moreover,
that Alvarez with his spotted Indians (_pintos_) had swung round in our
rear, and held the mountain passes behind us, so that retreat upon
Puebla would have been impossible.  This was not my belief alone, but
that of every intelligent officer in the army: the two who stood beside
me feeling sure of it as myself.  This certainty, combined with the slow
progress of the attacking party, determined me to participate in the
assault.  As the senior engineer officer out-ranked me, it was necessary
I should have his leave to forsake the battery--now needing no further
defence--a leave freely and instantly given, with the words: `Go, and
God be with you!'

"The Mexican flag was still waving triumphantly over the Castle, and the
line of smoke-puffs had not got an inch nearer it; nor was there much
change in the situation when, after a quick run across the intervening
ground with my following of volunteers and marines, we came up with the
storming party at halt, and irregularly aligned along the base of the
hill.  For what reason they were staying there we knew not at the time,
but I afterwards heard it was some trouble about scaling ladders.  I did
not pause then to inquire, but, breaking through their line with my
brave followers, pushed on up the slope.  Near the summit I found a
scattered crowd of soldiers, some of them in the grey uniform of the
Voltigeur Regiment; others, 9th, 14th and 15th Infantry.  They were the
skirmishers, who had thus far cleared the way for us, and far ahead of
the `forlorn hope.'  But beyond lay the real area of danger, a slightly
sloping ground, some forty yards in width, between us and the Castle's
outward wall--in short, the glacis.  It was commanded by three pieces of
cannon on the parapet, which, swept it with grape and canister as fast
as they could be loaded and fired.  There seemed no chance to advance
farther without meeting certain death.  But it would be death all the
same if we did not--such was my thought at that moment.

"Just as I reached this point there was a momentary halt, which made it
possible to be heard; and the words I then spoke, or rather shouted, are
remembered by me as though it were but yesterday:

"`Men! if we don't take Chapultepec, the American army is lost.  Let us
charge up to the walls.'

"A voice answered: `We'll charge if any one leads us.'

"Another adding: `Yes, we're ready!'

"At that instant the three guns on the parapet belched forth their
deadly showers almost simultaneously.  My heart bounded with joy at
hearing them go off thus together--it was our opportunity; and, quickly
comprehending it, I leaped over the scarp which had sheltered us,
calling out:

"`Come on; I'll lead you!'

"It did not need looking back to know that I was followed.  The men I
had appealed to were not the men to stay behind, else they would not
have been there, and all came after.

"When about half-way across the open ground I saw the parapet crowded
with Mexican artillerists in uniforms of dark blue with crimson facings,
each musket in hand, and all aiming, as I believed, at my own person.
On account of a crimson silk sash I was wearing, they no doubt fancied
me a general at least.  The volley was almost as one sound, and I
avoided it by throwing myself flat along the earth, only getting touched
on one of the fingers of my sword-hand, another shot passing through the
loose cloth of my overalls.  Instantly on my feet again, I made for the
wall, which I was scaling, when a bullet from an escopette went tearing
through my thigh, and I fell into the ditch."


Even as he lay wounded in the ditch, brave Mayne Reid painfully raised
himself, addressing the men and encouraging them.  Above the din of
musketry his voice was heard.

"`For God's sake, men, don't leave that wall.'

"Only a few scattered shots were fired after this.  The scaling ladders
came up, and some scores of men went swarming over the parapet and
Chapultepec was taken.

"The second man up to the walls of the Castle was Corporal Haup, the
Swiss, when he fell, shot through the face, over the body of Mayne Reid,
covering the latter with his blood.  The poor fellow endeavoured to roll
himself off, saying, `I'm not hurt so badly as you.'  But he was dead
before Mayne Reid was carried off the field.

"Mayne Reid's lieutenant, Hypolite Dardonville, a brave young Frenchman,
dragged the Mexican flag down from its staff, planting the Stars and
Stripes in its place--the standard of the New York regiment.

"The contest was not yet over.  The advantage must be followed up, and
the city entered.  Worth's division obliquing to the right followed the
enemy on the Tabuca Road, and through the gate of San Cosme; while the
volunteers, with the rifle and one or two other regiments, detached from
the division of General Twiggs, were led along the aqueduct towards the
citadel and the gate of Belen.  Inch by inch did these gallant fellows
drive back their opponents; and he who led them, the veteran Quitman,
was ever foremost in the fight.

"A very storm of bullets rained along this road, and hundreds of brave
men fell to rise no more; but when night closed the gates of Belen and
San Cosme were in possession of the Americans.

"During the still hours of midnight the Mexican army, to the number of
some 20,000, stole out of the city and took the road for Guadaloupe.

"Next morning at daybreak, the remnant of the American army, in all less
than 3,000 men, entered the city without further opposition, and formed
up in the Grand Plaza.  Ere sunrise the American star-spangled banner
floated proudly over the Palace of Moctezuma, and proclaimed that the
city of the Aztecs was in possession of the Americans.

"Chapultepec was in reality the key to the city.  If the former were not
captured, the latter in all probability would not have been taken at
that time, or by that army.

"The city of Mexico stands on a perfectly level plain, where water is
reached by digging but a few inches below the surface; this everywhere
around its walls, and for miles on every side.

"It does not seem to have occurred to military engineers that a position
of this kind is the strongest in the world; the most difficult to
assault and easiest to defend.  It only needs to clear the surrounding
_terrain_ of houses, trees, or aught that might give shelter to the
besiegers, and obstruct the fire of the besieged.  As in the wet ground
trenching is impossible, there is no other way of approach.  Even a
charge by cavalry going at full gallop must fail; they would be
decimated, or utterly destroyed, long before arriving at the entrenched

"These were the exact conditions under which Mexico had to be assaulted
by the American army.  There were no houses outside of the city walls,
no cover of any kind, save rows of tall poplar trees lining the sides of
the outgoing roads, and most of these had been cut down.  How then was
the place to be stormed, or rather approached within storming distance?
The eyes of some skilled American engineers rested upon the two
aqueducts running from Chapultepec into the suburbs of the city.  Their
mason work, with its massive piers and open arches between, promised the
necessary cover for skirmishers, to be supported by close following

"And they did afford this very shelter, enabling the American army to
capture the city of Mexico.  But to get at the aqueducts Chapultepec
need to be first taken, otherwise the besiegers would have had the enemy
both in front and rear.  Hence the desperate and determined struggle at
the taking of the Castle, and the importance of its succeeding.  Had it
failed, I have no hesitation in giving my opinion that no American who
fought that day in the Valley of Mexico would ever have left it alive.
Scott's army was already weakened by the previous engagements, too much
so to hold itself three days on the defensive.  Retreat would have been
not disastrous, but absolutely impossible.  The position was far worse
than that of Lord Sale, in the celebrated Cabool expedition.  All the
passes leading out of the valley by which the Americans might have
attempted escape were closed by columns of cavalry.  The Indian general,
Alvarez, with his host of spotted horsemen, the Pintos of the Acapulco
region, had occupied the main road by Rio Frio the moment after the
Americans marched in.  No wonder these fought on that day as for very
life.  Every intelligent soldier among them knew that in their attack
upon Chapultepec there were but two alternatives: success and life, or
defeat and death."

The following are extracts from dispatches and official documents:

From Major-General Winfield Scott, commander-in-chief.

"September 18, 1847.

"The following are the officers and corps most distinguished in these
brilliant operations...  Particularly a detachment under Lieutenant
Reid, New York Volunteers, consisting of a company of the same, with one
of marines."

From Major-General G.J. Pillow, commanding division.

"September 18, 1847.

"Lieutenant Reid, in command of the one company of the New York Regiment
and one of marines, came forward in advance of the other troops of this
command, Quitman's, participated in the assault and was severely

From Major-General J.A. Quitman, commanding division.

"September 29, 1847.

"Two detachments from my command not heretofore mentioned in this report
should be noticed.  Captain Gallagher and Lieutenant Reid, who, with
their companies of New York Volunteers, had been detailed on the morning
of the 12th, by General Shields, to the support of our battery, Number
2, well performed the service.  The former, by the orders of Captain
Huger, was detained at that battery during the storming of Chapultepec.
The latter, a brave and energetic young officer, being relieved from the
battery on the advance to the Castle, hastened to the assault, and was
among the first to ascend the crest of the hill, where he was severely
wounded...  The gallant New York Regiment claims for their standard the
honour of being the first waved from the battlements of Chapultepec."

From Brigadier-General Shields.

"September 25, 1847.

"The New York flag and Company B of that regiment, under the command of
a gallant young officer, Lieutenant Reid, were among the first to mount
the ramparts of the Castle, and then display the Stars and Stripes to
the admiration of the army."

From Captain Huger, chief of ordnance.

"September 20, 1847.

"As there were two companies in support of batteries 2 and 3, I now
allowed one of them, commanded by Lieutenant Reid, New York Volunteers,
his command, composed of volunteers and marines, to join its proper
division, and he gallantly pushed up the hill and joined it during the
storming of the Castle."

From Colonel Ward B. Burnett, commanding New York Regiment.

"Order Number 35.

"The following promotions and appointments having been made `upon good
and sufficient recommendations' will be obeyed and respected

"2nd Lieutenant Mayne Reid, of Company B, to be 1st lieutenant of
Company G, _vice_ Innes, promoted."



It was reported that Lieutenant Mayne Reid had died of his wounds.  This
intelligence reached his family in Ireland, who mourned him as dead
until the joyful contradiction arrived.  It may be interesting as
evidence of his reputation at this time to give an extract from a
contemporary notice in the _Newport News_.

"The lamented Lieutenant Reid.

"Lieutenant Reid has been in this country some five or six years, and
during that time has been mostly connected with the press, either as an
associate editor or correspondent; in this last capacity, he passed the
summer of 1846 in Newport, R.I., engaged in writing letters to the _New
York Herald_, under the signature of `Ecolier.'  It was at this time
that we became acquainted with him, and there are many others in the
community who will join us in bearing testimony to his worth as a man,
all of whom will be grieved at the announcement of his death.  He
returned to New York about the first of September, and shortly after
sailed for Mexico with his regiment.  He was at the battle of Monterey,
and distinguished himself in that bloody affair.  We published a little
poem from his pen, entitled `Monterey,' about three months ago, which
will undoubtedly be remembered by our readers; towards the close of the
poem, was this stanza:

  "`We were not many--we who pressed
  Beside the brave who fell that day;
  But who of us has not confessed
  He'd rather share their warrior rest,
  Than not have been at Monterey?'

"Alas! for human glory!  The departed, probably, little thought at the
time he penned the above lines that he should so soon be sharing `their
warrior rest.'  At the storming of Chapultepec he was severely wounded,
and died soon after from his wounds.  He was a man of singular talents,
and gave much promise as a writer.  His temperament was exceedingly
nervous, and his fancy brilliant.  His best productions may be found in
`Godey's Book,' about three or four years ago, under the signature of
`Poor Scholar.'  It is mournful that talents like his should be so early
sacrificed, and that his career should be so soon closed, far--very
far--from the land of his birth and the bosom of his home, as well as
the land of his adoption.  But thus it is!  When the day arrives for our
army to return, if it ever does, it will present a sad spectacle.  The
ranks will be thinned, and hearts made sorrowful at their coming that
hoped to rejoice in the fullest fruition of gladness.  Many a gallant
spirit has fallen to rise no more; and the wild note of the bugle cannot
awake them to duty, or the sweeter call of friendship and home.  The
triumphs may be as splendid as ever crowned a human effort, but they
have been purchased at the price of noble lives, and too dearly not to
mingle the tear of sorrow with the shout of joy."

The verses by Captain Mayne Reid referred to are:


  We were not many--we who stood
      Before the iron sleet that day--
  Yet many a gallant spirit would
  Give half his years if he but could
      Have been with us at Monterey.

  Now here, now there, the shot it hailed
      In deadly drifts of fiery spray,
  Yet not a single soldier quailed,
  When wounded comrades round them wailed
      Their dying shouts at Monterey.

  And on--still on our columns kept,
      Through walls of flame, its withering way;
  Where fell the dead, the living stept,
  Still charging on the guns which swept
      The slippery streets of Monterey.

  The foe himself recoiled aghast,
      When, striking where he strongest lay,
  We swooped his flanking batteries past,
  And braving full their murderous blast,
      Stormed home the towers of Monterey.

  Our banners on those turrets wave,
      And there our evening bugles play;
  Where orange boughs above their grave
  Keep green the memory of the brave
      Who fought and fell at Monterey.

  We were not many--we who pressed
      Beside the brave who fell that day;
  But who of us has not confessed
  He'd rather share their warrior rest,
      Than not have been at Monterey?

At a public dinner held in the city of Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the
capture of Mexico, Mayne Reid's memory was toasted, and the following
lines, by a young poetess of Ohio, were recited with great effect:


  Gone to his dreamless sleep;
      And spirits of the brave,
      Watching o'er his lone grave,


  Mother, to sorrow long wed!
      Far o'er the mighty deep,
      Where the brave coldly sleep,
  Thy warrior son lies dead.

  In thine own far island home,
      Ere thy life's task is done,
      Oft with the setting sun,
  O'er the sea thy thoughts will roam.


  The trumpet, while thousands die!
      Madly forcing his way,
      Through the blood-dashing spray
  He beareth our banner on high!

  Like a thought he hath sunk to rest.
      Slow they bear him away,
      In stern martial array,
  The flag and the sword on his breast.

  High in the temple of fame,
      The poet's fadeless wreath,
      And the soldier's sheath,
  Are engraven above his name.

  As time to the earth shall belong,
      The sad wind o'er, the surge
      Shall chant its low dirge
  To this peerless child of song.

  Gone to his dreamless sleep;
      And spirits of the brave,
      Watching o'er his lone grave,

The muse of the poetess perhaps required chastening, but the verses are
not without power and at least show the love and admiration felt for the



Mayne Reid was laid up in the city of Mexico for some time.  It was at
first supposed that amputation of the leg would be necessary; but on the
doctors consulting, they came to the conclusion that this would be
certain death, as the bullet had only just escaped severing the femoral
artery.  At last, under skilful care, he made a good recovery, and by
the following December we find him on the eve of fighting a duel, but
the challenged one "backed out," his friend sending the following

"City of Mexico,

"December 19th, 1847.


"Captain McKinstry has received your note of yesterday, and has
requested me, as his friend, to inform you that he has not made any
remarks reflecting upon you as a gentleman and a man of honour.

"Very respectfully,

"Your obedient servant,

"John B. Grayson,

"Captain 165 A.

"Lieutenant Mayne Reid,

"N.Y. Volunteers."

The following letter from Mr Piatt was addressed to Dr Halstead, city
of Mexico:

"Mac-o-Chee, December 1847.

"Dr Halstead,

"Dear Sir,

"I address you with pain and regret on account of the late intelligence
brought us by the papers of the severe wound received by Lieutenant Reid
and his death.  Whilst we look with pride upon the many gallant deeds he
performed, it but poorly remunerates us for so severe a loss.  And we
should receive with sad but infinite pleasure any further account of him
whilst wounded.  It is with regret that we call upon you to give us this
sad intelligence, as it may inconvenience you, but the deep interest we
felt for Mr Reid has tempted us to trouble you with these inquiries,
and remain,

"Yours respectfully,

"A.L. Piatt."

The Piatts were originally a French family, and the elder Mr Piatt, the
writer of the letter, was a great friend of Mayne Reid.

It is not given to every man to read obituary notices of himself, but
this happened to Mayne Reid more than once.  So marvellous, indeed, were
his recoveries from the brink of death, that he came to be regarded by
his friends as bearing a "charmed life."

Two or three weeks after the announcement of his death, the _New York
Herald_ published a contradiction of the report:

"Through misinformation, it was currently reported that Lieutenant Mayne
Reid, whose gallant behaviour at the battle of Chapultepec called forth
a merited compliment from General Scott in one of his late dispatches,
had died of his wounds.  We are informed by one of our returned officers
that although wounded severely by an escopette ball in the left leg
above the knee, he has since recovered, and intends to remain.  Of
course he will be promoted."

In the _National Gazette_ of Philadelphia was printed:--"We perceive in
the list of wounded in the recent battles in Mexico, the name of
Lieutenant Mayne Reid, of New York.  If we mistake not, the gentleman
named is favourably known throughout the country as a writer, and a
contributor to our leading magazines.  For several years he resided in
Philadelphia.  While in this city he won for himself many friends, as
well as a high literary reputation.  His first essays appeared as the
compositions of the `Poor Scholar.'  Lieutenant Reid is a ripe scholar
as well as a ready writer."

The following paragraph appeared in the Pittsburgh _Daily Dispatch_, in
March, 1848:--"Lieutenant Mayne Reid, whose death was reported some time
since, is about to be married to Signorina Guadaloupe Rozas, a beautiful
lady, daughter of Senator Rozas, and said to be the wealthiest heiress
in the Valley of Mexico.  He formerly resided here, and was known as the
`Poor Scholar.'"

This report was untrue.  Mayne Reid had not yet "met his fate."

He was equally distinguished in love and in war, and by some fair
_Mexicaines_ was entitled the "_Don Juan de Tenorio_."

An American journal describes the gallant Captain as a "_mixture of
Adonis and the Apollo Belvidere, with a dash of the Centaur_!"

He possessed a faultless figure, and the grace of his manner was very

It was one of Mayne Reid's duties in Mexico to protect the inmates of a
convent, and the nuns frequently sent him little delicacies in the shape
of sweetmeats, made by their own fair hands, with his initials in
comfits on the top.  In a letter he wrote:

"During the campaign in which I had taken part, chance threw me into the
company of monks of more than one order.  Under the circumstances that
gave me _entree_ of their convents, and an intimate acquaintance with
the brethren, even to joining them in their cups--these consisting of
the best wines of Spain and her colonies, Xeres, Canario, Pedro Ximenes,
with now and then a spice of Catalan brandy, opening the hearts and
loosening the tongues of these cloistered gentry--I can speak to the
character of the present monks of Mexico as Friar Guage spoke of their
fraternity more than a century ago."


The following letter from Mayne Reid to the _Ohio State Journal_ in
1882, may be here fitly introduced:

"Sir,--My attention has been called to a letter which lately appeared in
some American newspapers headed `Mayne Reid's Mexican War Experiences,'
in which certain statements are made gravely affecting my character and
reputation.  The writer says that in Pueblao, Mexico, `Lieutenant Reid,
while reproving one of the men of his company, became very much heated,
and ran his sword through the man's body.  The man died the same night.'

"Now, sir, it is quite true that I ran a soldier through with my sword,
who soon after died of the wound.  But it is absolutely untrue that
there was any heat of temper on my part, or other incentive to act, save
that of self-defence and the discharge of my duty as an officer.  On the
day of the occurrence I was officer of the guard, and the man a prisoner
in the guard prison--where, indeed, he spent most of his time--for he
was a noted desperado, and, I may add, robber, long the pest and terror
not only of his comrades in the regiment, but the poor Mexican people
who suffered from his depredations, as all who were then there and are
still living may remember.  Having several times escaped from the
guard-house prison, he had that day been recaptured, and I entered the
cell to see to his being; better secured.  While the manacles were being
placed upon his wrists--long-linked heavy irons--he clutched hold of
them, and, rushing at me, aimed a blow at my head, which, but for my
being too quick for him, would have been dealt me with serious if not
fatal effect.  He was a man of immense size and strength, and as all
knew, regardless of consequences.  He had been often heard to boast that
no officer dare put him in irons, and threaten those who in the line of
their duty had to act towards him with severity.  Still, when I thrust
out, it was with no intention to kill, only to keep him off, and in
point of fact, in his mad rush toward me he impaled himself on my sword.

"The writer of the letter goes on to say: `Lieutenant Reid's grief was
uncontrollable.  The feeling against him, despite the fact that he had
provocation for the act, was very strong in the regiment...  If the
regiment had not moved with the rest of the army toward Mexico the next
day, Lieutenant Reid would have been court-martialled, and might have
been shot.'

"In answer to these serious allegations, not made in any malice, I
believe, but from misinformation, I have only to say that I _was_ tried
by court-martial, and instead of being sentenced to be shot, was ordered
to resume command of my company for the forward march upon Mexico.  And
so far from the feeling being strong against me in the regiment, it was
just the reverse, not only in the regiment, but throughout the whole
army--the lamented Phil Kearney, commanding the dragoons, with many
other officers of high rank, publicly declaring that for what I had
done, instead of condemnation I deserved a vote of thanks.  This because
the army's discipline had become greatly relaxed during the long period
of inaction that preceded our advance into the Valley of Mexico, and we
had much trouble with the men--especially of the volunteer regiments.
My act, involuntary and unintentional though it was, did something
toward bringing them back to a sense of obedience and duty.  That I
sorrowed for it is true, but not in the sense attributed to me by the
newspaper correspondent.  My grief was from the necessity that forced it
upon me, and its lamentable result.  It is some satisfaction to know
that the unfortunate man himself held me blameless, and in his dying
words, as I was told, said I had but done my duty.  So I trust that this
explanation will place the affair in a different light from that thrown
upon it by the article alluded to."

In February, 1876, Mr Henry Lee wrote to Captain Mayne Reid for some
account of the Mexican axolotl, and received the following answer:

Chasewood, Ross, Herefordshire, February 28, 1876.

My dear Henry Lee,--You ask me to tell you what I know of that strange
Protean--the _axolotl_.  Such knowledge as I have is at your service.

First, as to its name; which is a word purely Aztecan.  The Spaniards,
adopting it, have made some change in the spelling without materially
altering the pronunciation.  Their form is _ajolote_--the final syllable
sounded, though with the accent on the penultimate.  But, to one
unacquainted with Spanish orthoepy, it may be observed that the "j" is
pronounced as an aspirated "h"--in short, as the Greek chi--and so also
is "x" in the Aztec orthography.  The final "tl" of the latter, common
to many Aztec and Zapoteque words--as in _tepetl_ (mountain), _metatl_
(millstone), which the Indian lingeringly lets fall from the tip of his
tongue--cannot well be symbolised by any exponent of vocal sound in our
language.  The Spaniards represent it indifferently by "te," sometimes
with the addition of a "c," thus, _metate, Popocatepec_.  The _ajolote_,
however, is without the added "c," and pronounced, as nearly as
possible, _ah-ho-loat-e_, with emphasis on the "loat," and the
terminating "e" barely distinguishable.

So much for the name of the reptile-fish.  As to its nature, I fear I
can add but little to the information already before the public; though,
perhaps, something of its _habitat_ that may be interesting.  Your
species, of the Brighton Aquarium, dwells in the Laguna de Tezcoco--the
largest of six lakes that lie in the Valley of Mexico.  An ordinary map
will indicate only five: Chalco, Xochimilco, Tezcoco, San Christobal,
and Zumpango; and of these alone does Humboldt speak in his "Essai
Politique."  But there are in reality six--the sixth called Xaltocan.
The two first-named are in the southern section of the valley--which, by
the way, is not a _valley_, but a _plain_, with a periphery of
mountains; an elevated plateau, slightly over 7,000 feet above the sea's
level, the mountain rim around, composed of parallel and transverse
_sierras_ of the great Andean Cordillera, having several summits that
rise from 8,000 to 10,000 feet higher, with two--Popocatepec and
Ixticihuatl--that carry the eternal snow.  Chalco and Xochimilco, as
observed, occupying a southern position on this plain, are both fresh
water lakes--if lakes they can be called, for at the present time their
surface is concealed by a thick sedge of _tulares_--various species of
aquatic plants--whose roots, entwined, form a floating coverture termed
_cinta_, which is in places so close and tough as to permit de-pasturage
by horses and horned cattle.  Here and there only are spots of clear
water of very limited extent, while the vast morass, miles upon miles,
is traversed by three or four canals--in the language of the country,
_acalotes_--partly natural, but for the most part hewn out of the sedge,
and kept open by the passage of the Indian boats and canoes navigating
them.  It was upon sections of this _cinta_ that the famed _chinampas_,
or "Floating Gardens," were constructed, and not, as erroneously stated
by Humboldt, and other writers following him, on rafts of timber and
sticks.  I may here interpolate a fact not generally, if at all, known
to Europeans: that these _chinampas_ (of which I hope some day to give
an account) are in existence at the present time.

Several species of very small fish inhabit lakes Chalco and Xochimilco;
indeed, the fish marker of the Mexican capital is chiefly supplied from
them.  But I have never heard of the axolotl being taken, or observed in
either; and you surprise me by saying it has spawned in _fresh_ water in
the Brighton Aquarium.  Tezcoco, from which I presume your Protean must
have come, is altogether of a different character, being salt as brine
itself--so much that a man bathing in it comes out with a scaly crust
over his skin, while waterfowl are often caught upon it, unable to fly
through their wings getting thus encrusted!  No fish can live in it, for
the few minnow-like species there observed are found only by the
estuaries of influent fresh-water streams.  Even vegetation struggles in
vain against the blighting influence of its atmosphere, and around its
shores are seen but the forms of plants belonging to species that grow
in salitrose soil; these so stunted and sparse as rather to heighten the
impression of sterility.  Tezcoco is, in truth, a Dead Sea of the
Western world.  Not so small, neither, since its area may be estimated
at a hundred square miles, more or less.  Once it was much larger--at
the time of the Conquest--this being the lake whose waters washed the
walls of the ancient Tenochtitlan.  At the present time its edge is, at
least, a league from the suburbs of the modern city standing on the same
site.  At certain seasons, however, after a long spell of rain, but more
from the effects of a strong east wind, the lake is brought nearer, by
overflow of the adjacent plain, a phenomenon leading to the popular but
erroneous idea that Tezcoco, like the ocean, has a tide.  Once, too, if
we are to credit Humboldt, this lake was much deeper than it is now.
Writing of it in 1803, he states its depth then to have been from three
to five French metres.  I think the great German traveller must have
been misinformed, as there has been no silting up to account for its
present shallowness.  There is not a spot in Lake Tezcoco where a man,
standing upright, would have his head under water.  It is traversed by
market boats of the bread-basket pattern, flat bottomed, and impelled by
poling--just the same sort as Cortez found navigating it when he
launched his brigantine on its eastern edge, which vessel was doubtless
nothing more than a rude raft.  The _periaguas_, and other craft which
now ply upon it, bringing produce from Tezcoco, and other lake shore
towns to the capital city, are all of the punt species, none of them
drawing over eighteen inches of water.  Notwithstanding, they have to
keep to well-known ways, where the lake is deepest, guiding their course
by certain landmarks on the shore, passing a wooden cross, "La Cruz,"
planted near the centre, coming in sight of which the devout--or rather,
I should say, superstitious--boatmen uncover, and offer up a prayer to
"Al Virgen."

This grand shallow sheet, then, so saline that fish cannot live in it,
and vegetation withers under its blighting breath, is the congenial
dwelling-place of the axolotl, and, if I mistake not, its only one in
the Valley of Mexico; at least I am not aware of its existence in the
other three lakes lying northward, their waters salt, too, but at times
so low as to be almost dried up, or showing only a residuum of mud, its
surface an efflorescence, akin to soda, and resembling hoar frost,
called "tequiqzuite."

Though in a sense the sole inhabitant of Tezcoco, the axolotl is not
left to peaceful or undisputed possession of the lake.  It has its
enemies in the predatory aquatic birds--herons, cranes, and cormorants--
while man is also among them.  To the "Lake Indian" its capture is a
matter of economic industry, its flesh being a saleable commodity in the
market.  It is not absolutely relished as an article of food, except by
the Indians themselves; who, as is well known, will eat anything and
everything that lives, moves, and has being, be it fish, fowl, reptile,
or insect.  This, from ancient usage, originally a thing of necessity,
not choice, when the Aztec, surrounded by Tlascallan, with other warlike
enemies, was confined to the islands of this inland sea, and from it
compelled to draw part of his sustenance--to eat indifferently frogs,
tadpoles, newts, and such repulsive reptiles; as also the eggs of a
curious water-fly--the axavacatl (_Ahuatlea Mexicana_)--a sort of
"caviar," still obtainable in the markets of the Mexican capital.  I
have seen the axolotl of respectable dimensions--at least a foot in
length, while specimens of fifteen and sixteen inches are occasionally
exhibited.  Fish or flesh, relished or not, it is often eaten by
invalids, the Mexican _medicos_ pronouncing it a specific for liver
inflammation and pulmonary complaints, as we do cod-liver oil; while it
is also supposed to be serviceable in cases of hectic fever, and as a
food for children.  A mucilaginous syrup, compounded of its gelatinous
portions and certain medicinal herbs, is sold in the _boticas_ of the
apothecaries as a balsam for colds, coughs, and other bronchial

I refrain from touching on the zoological character of this creature, so
strangely abnormal, as I could add nothing to what is already known to
you.  Besides, that is a question for the scientific naturalist, to whom
I leave it.  But it may not be generally known that, in addition to your
Brighton Aquarium species--which is, I suppose, the _Siredon
Humboldtii_, or _Siredon Harlanii_, of Laguna de Tezcoco--there is a new
and quite distinct one recently discovered, inhabiting Lake Patzcuaro.
This large sheet of water, lying centrally in the State of Michoacan--
more than a hundred miles from the Mexican valley, in a direction nearly
due west--has also its axolotl.  Its discoverer has named it _Siredon
Dumerilii_, after the accomplished French herpetologist; while its local
vulgar name on the shores of Patzcuaro is "achoque de agua," or "water
achoque," to distinguish it from a sort of land lizard called "achoque
de tierra"--the _Bolitoglossa Mexicana_ of Dumeril and Bibron, also
common around the edges of the Michoacan Lake.  The Patzcuaro species
differs from yours of the Brighton Aquarium in several respects.  In
size it is somewhat the same; but its colour, instead of being blackish,
or white, as in the Albino varieties of Humboldt's Siredon, is of a
violet-red, slightly blemished with grey, the gills only being black,
while the neck, throat, and breast are of a pale, whitish hue.

Without dwelling longer on this subject, I will venture to say that when
all of the great Mexican saline lakes--such as Chapa'a and Cuitzoc--are
searched, there will be found other species of axolotl, distinct from
any of those yet known to science.  Mexico is a fine field for the
scientific explorer; its paths hitherto but little trodden by the
naturalist, because unsafe from being so much frequented by the "Knights
of the Road," ycleped _salteadores_.

Mayne Reid.



Captain Mayne Reid returned from Mexico to the United States in the
spring of 1848.

He spent the autumn and winter at his friend Donn Piatt's house in the
valley of the Mac-o-Chee, Ohio.  Here he wrote the greater part of "The
Rifle Rangers," in which he gives us pictures of his Mexican life,
returning to New York in the spring of 1849.  The question was then
going the round of the newspapers, "Who was first into Chapultepec?"

The following is an extract from a letter written by Mayne Reid in
reference to the storming of Chapultepec, and in which he inclosed some
testimonies of his part in the affair:

"These documents were hastily collected in New York in the spring of
1849, when I heard of other individuals claiming to have been first into
Chapultepec.  I do not claim to have been first over the walls, as I did
not get over the wall at all, but was shot down in front of it; but I
claim to have led up the men who received the last volley of the enemy's
fire, and thus left the scaling the wall a mere matter of climbing, as
scarcely any one was shot afterwards.

"While collecting this testimony I was suddenly called upon to take the
leadership of a legion organised in New York to assist the revolutionary
struggle in Europe, and I sailed at the latter end of June, 1849.
Otherwise I could have obtained far more testimony than contained in
these scant documents here.

"Mayne Reid.

"P.S.--General Pillow was at the time using every exertion to disprove
my claims, it being a life and death matter with him, having an eye to
the Presidency, to prove that the men of his division were the first to
enter Chapultepec."

The following testimony was given to Mayne Reid, and, as he says,
"generously given, as only one of these officers was my personal friend,
the others being almost unknown to me."


Testimony of Lieutenant Cochrane, Second Regiment of Voltigeurs.

"On the morning of the 13th of September, 1847, the regiment of
Voltigeurs, to which I was attached as subaltern officer, was ordered to
clear the woods and the western side of the wall, extending from Molino
del Rey to the Castle of Chapultepec, of the Mexican Infantry (light),
and to halt at the foot of the hill, in order to allow the storming
party of Worth's division to scale the hill.

"We drove the Mexicans as ordered, but in so rapid a manner that, along
with some of the infantry of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Ninth of
Pillow's division, we kept driving the enemy under a heavy fire from the
Castle, and a redan on the side of the hill, clear into their works--the
storming party coming up rapidly.

"After driving them from the redan, I pushed for the south-western
corner of the Castle with all the men about me, and scarcely ten yards
from the wall, an officer of infantry, and either an officer or sergeant
of artillery--judging from the stripe on his pants--were shot, and fell.
They were the only two at the time that I saw in advance of me along
the narrow path, the rock of which we were scrambling.  On collecting
under the wall of the Castle there were some thirty or forty of us
infantry and Voltigeurs at the extreme corner of the Castle, and several
other officers were there at the same point.  The main body had halted
at the scarp of the hill, some forty yards from the wall, awaiting the
arrival of the scaling ladders before making the final and decisive

"I ordered two men of the Voltigeurs to go back a little way and assist
the ladders up the hill.  As they proceeded to do so they passed the
point where the infantry officer above alluded to lay wounded, who, with
evident pain, raised himself and sang out above the din and rattle of

"`For God's sake, men, don't leave that wall, or we shall all be cut to
pieces.  Hold on, and the Castle is ours!' or words to that effect.

"I immediately answered from the wall: `There is no danger, Captain, of
our leaving this.  Never fear'--or words to that amount.

"Shortly after the ladders came--the rush was made and the Castle fell.

"In the course of a casual conversation about the events of that
memorable morning, while in the city of Mexico, this incident was
mentioned, and the officer who was wounded proved to be Lieutenant Mayne
Reid, of the New York Volunteers, who had been ordered to guard the
battering guns upon the plain, and had joined the party in the assault
on the Molino del Rey side of the Castle.  I spoke freely of this
matter, and was quite solicitous to become acquainted, while in Mexico,
with the gallant and chivalric officer in question.  This is a hasty and
imperfect sketch of this transaction.  I heard that Lieutenant Reid had
made a speech to the men of all arms, which had induced them to ascend;
but, as a party were fiercely engaged at the redan for a few seconds, I
could not have heard his remarks above the din, as I was one of the
redan party.  It may be possible that the above speech is the one
alluded to, though from what I heard said of it, he must have made other
remarks at an earlier moment.

"Of course, I have not given the exact words, as some eighteen months
have elapsed since that never-to-be-forgotten day, but I have given the
_fact_ and the substance of the words, which shows far more--the _fact_,
I mean--credit and honour to his courage and his gallant conduct than
the mere words could.

"Theo. D. Cochrane,

"Late Second Lieutenant Regiment of Voltigeurs.

"Columbia, Pa., May 20, 1849."

"Cleveland, O., June, 1849.

"Captain Mayne Reid,

"Dear Sir,

"Very much surprised was I yesterday, when Mr Grey, of the
_Plain-dealer_, honoured me with a call, and communicated to me some
lines of your letter to him, wherein it is stated that you had sent me
about fourteen days ago a letter, with inclosure to Upman.  I never have
received your letter, and can obtain no information at the post office
about it.  Nevertheless will I testify to what I have seen of your
military bravery and valour at Chapultepec--the only place where I have
personally observed your gallant conduct.

"When our regiment--Fifteenth Infantry--had charged through the cypress
trees on the foot of the Chapultepec Hill, and after our skirmishers had
taken the first redan, and chased the Mexicans out of it, I saw a young
officer on my right hand side collecting about thirty or forty men of
different corps, and encouraging the same with an address, which the
roaring of the cannon and the musketry hindered me from understanding.
Shortly after I saw the little band of heroes, with their brave leader
in front, charge the right side battery, where a howitzer was posted;
and they tried very hard to climb the mud walls, which were about twenty
feet high.  Soon after I perceived through the dense smoke, caused by
the last discharge of the battery towards that small command, that the
officer had scaled the wall and fell, what I then took for dead.

"All this was done in half the time I take to write it, and I was too
much occupied with the command of my own detachment to enter into more
particulars of that deciding moment.  My earnest admiration was paid to
the dead hero; and onward we went to the left corner of the
fortification.  How we entered the Castle, and what great excitement
prevailed in the first half-hour of that glorious victory, is too well
known for further description.  But one thing I must add, that my first
inquiry after the abating of the excitement was, `Who was that young
officer leading the charge on our right?' and one of my men gave me the
answer: `It is a New Yorker by the name of Mayne Reid--a hell of a
fellow.'  That name I had heard several times before very favourably
mentioned, without being personally acquainted with the man; and just as
I was going to see if he was really dead, or wounded, General
Cadwallader addressed the troops from the window of the Castle, and gave
orders to rally the different companies and be prepared for further
orders.  I had to stay with my company, of course, and could not satisfy
my great desire to ascertain the fate of that brave young man.  One
thing more I wish to say, namely, that this same brave conduct of yours
helped on the left a great deal, because it turned the fire of the
infantry in our front and gave us time to storm the walls the right

"Yours most respectfully,

"Charles Peternell,

"Captain Fifteenth Infantry."

Donn Piatt received the following statement, made on affidavit by
Lieutenant Marshall, of the Fifteenth Infantry:

"I was in command of our company ordered to the attack of Chapultepec
(Captain King being indisposed), and had approached, under cover of
trees and rocks, to the brow of the hill upon which the Castle stands,
where we halted to await the coming of the scaling ladders.  At this
point the fire from the Castle was so continuous and fatal that the men
faltered, and several officers were wounded while urging them on.  At
this moment I noticed Lieutenant Reid, of the New York Volunteers.  I
noticed him more particularly at the time on account of the very
brilliant uniform he wore.

"He suddenly jumped to his feet, calling upon those around to follow,
and without looking back to see whether he was sustained or not, pushed
on almost alone to the very walls, where he fell badly wounded.  All the
officers who saw or knew of the act pronounced it, without exception,
the bravest and most brilliant achievement performed by a single
individual during the campaign; and at the time we determined, should
occasion ever require it, to do him justice.  I am satisfied that his
daring was the cause of our taking the Castle as we did.  Nor was it an
act of blind courage, but one of cool self-possession in the midst of
imminent danger.  Lieutenant Reid had observed from the sound that the
Castle was poorly supplied with side guns, and knew that could he once
get his men to charge up to the walls they would be almost upon equal
footing with the defenders.  What makes this achievement more
remarkable, Lieutenant Reid was not ordered to attack, but volunteered."


He also received letters from Captain D.J. Sutherland, of the United
States Marines, and Captain D. Upman, of the United States Infantry, to
the same effect.

The chief honours of the assault on the Castle at Chapultepec were
undoubtedly his.



About the middle of June, 1849, Captain Mayne Reid, in company with the
revolutionary leader Hecker, and others bent upon the same errand,
sailed in the Cunard steamship "Caledonia" for Liverpool, to aid the
revolutionary movements then disturbing Europe.

The men composing the legion raised in New York, were to follow in
another steamer.

On arrival at Liverpool, Captain Reid and Hecker received the
intelligence, which had just arrived, that the Bavarian revolution was
at an end.  They were therefore to proceed direct for Hungary, so soon
as their men should arrive.  Their plans had been to make for Baden
first, and then on to Hungary.

Taking leave of his friend Hecker, Captain Mayne Reid appointed to join
him in London in about a week or ten days.  Mayne Reid then took the
first boat leaving for Warren Point, to visit his native home before
embarking on his perilous expedition.  He landed in Ireland on the
morning of July 12th, and at once took a car to Rathfriland, some twenty
miles distant, reaching it about mid-day.  Here he dispatched a
messenger to Ballyroney to break the news of his return to his family,
who were in ignorance of his having left America, fearing the shock that
his sudden appearance might have upon his mother, for _la joie fait

The Captain quickly followed on the heels of his messenger.  We leave
the reader to imagine this reunion after so long an absence.  He had
left home a mere youth.  He returned a man who had passed through many
fires, and bore their scars upon him.

There was a glad welcome for him in his native place, but the rejoicings
were saddened with the reflection that he must so soon depart on the
errand of war.  All the neighbours vied each with the others in doing
honour to the hero.

Captain Reid, amongst his luggage, had brought over from America a
quantity of Colt's revolvers; the sight of these weapons caused no
little consternation at Ballyroney.

The time agreed upon with Hecker expired, and Mayne Reid bade adieu to
his home, and arrived in London at the beginning of August.  He at once
threw all his energies into the Hungarian cause.

Shortly after his arrival in London a public meeting was held at the
Hanover Square Rooms to advocate the recognition of Hungary as a nation.
Mayne Reid was present, and the following is a report of his part in
the proceedings:

"Colonel Reid, United States, moved the next resolution, and announced
himself to be at the head of a band of bold Americans, who had arrived
in this metropolis on their way to Hungary, to place their swords and
lives at the disposal of her people.  The resolution he moved was as
follows: `That the immediate recognition of the government _de facto_ of
the kingdom of Hungary by this country is no less demanded by
considerations of justice and policy and the commercial interests of the
two States, than with a view to putting a stop to the effusion of human
blood, and of terminating the prospect of the fearful and bloody
sepulchre of a soldier.'  `Gentlemen,' he said, `let us hope that this
result may never be--let us pray that it may never be; and before I
resume my seat I will offer a prayer to the God of Omnipotence, couched
in a paraphrase upon the language of the eloquent Curran: May the
Austrian and the Russian sink together in the dust; may the brave Magyar
walk abroad in his own majesty; may his body swell beyond the measure of
his chains, now bursting from around him; and may he stand redeemed,
regenerated, and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of universal

But Captain Mayne Reid was not destined to fight in the cause of
Hungary, any more than in the Baden insurrection.  Fate held different
purposes for him to fulfil.

Before the expedition had started came the news of the defeat at
Temsevar, on August 9th, 1849.  Kossuth had been compelled to abandon
his position and flee into Turkey, and the subjugation of Hungary was
soon after completed.

There was now no use for the legion, and Captain Reid helped them in
returning to America.

To raise sufficient funds for this purpose he sold most of the Colt's
revolvers he had brought over.


Captain Mayne Reid now finally sheathed his sword, once more took up the
pen, and began those marvellous tales of adventure which have made his
name famous.



Captain Mayne Reid now sought to find a publisher for his first romance,
"The Rifle Rangers," which he had written at Donn Piatt's house in Ohio,
and to which he had now put the finishing touches in London.

To find a publisher for a book by an unknown author was no easy task.
Eventually the work was published by William Shoberl, Great Marlborough
Street, in two volumes, at one guinea, on an agreement to pay the author
half the profits.  The preface to "The Rifle Rangers" is as follows:

"The incidents are not fictitious, but allowance must be made for a
poetic colouring which fancy has doubtless imparted.  The characters are
taken from living originals, though most of them figure under fictitious
names; they are portraits nevertheless."

The book was dedicated to his friend, Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart.

"The Rifle Rangers" became at once a success, and the reviews in the
press were of the most flattering description.  The _Observer_, April
7th, 1850, says:

"Two extraordinary volumes, teeming with varied Mexican adventures, and
written by no everyday man.  Of Captain Mayne Reid may be said,
according to his own analysis of himself, what Byron wrote of Bonaparte:

"`And quiet to quick bosoms is a bell!'

"The volumes contain some wild love passages, and many descriptions of
manners and scenery."

Of this book a writer in an American journal says: "In London he found a
publisher, and awoke to a world-wide fame.  The book that could not be
published here, was translated and republished in every language in
Europe, and returning to this country, found thousands of delighted
readers.  Your correspondent, calling once to pay his respects to
Lamartine, found that gentleman with Mayne Reid's book in his hand, and
the eminent Frenchman loud in its praise.  Dumas, senior, said he could
not close the book till he had read the last word."

This was followed by his second romance, the world-famed "Scalp
Hunters," which was written by Mayne Reid in Ireland, at Ballyroney, in
the old house in which he was born.  On its completion he returned to
London, and the book was published in 1851, by Charles Street, in three

It at once became one of the most popular books of the season, and has
maintained its popularity ever since.  Over a million copies have been
sold in Great Britain alone, and it has been translated into as many
languages as "The Pilgrim's Progress."  The preface to "The Scalp
Hunters" is dated June, 1851:

"My book is a _trapper_ book.  It is well known that trappers swear like
troopers; some of them, in fact, worse.  I have endeavoured to
christianise my trappers as much as lay in my power.  I, however, see a
wide distinction between the impiety of a trapper's oath and the
immorality of an unchaste episode."

There was not an adverse criticism in any of the press notices.

David Bogue, publisher, of Fleet Street, proposed to Mayne Reid to write
a series of boys' books of adventure, the books which earned for him the
title of the "Boy's Novelist."  The first of these was "The Desert
Home," or "English Family Robinson."  It was published by Bogue at
Christmas, 1851, in an illustrated cloth edition at 7 shillings 6 pence.
The _Globe_, February 2nd, 1852, says: "Captain Mayne Reid offers to
the juvenile community a little book calculated to excite their surprise
and to gratify their tastes for the transatlantic, and the wonderful.
The dangers and incidents of life in the wilderness are depicted in
vivid colours."

In addition to his literary work Captain Mayne Reid now established a
Rifle Club.  His military ardour was not quite quenched.  The Belvidere
Rifle Club was the title.

The preliminary conditions for obtaining recognition by the Crown were
stated by the Marquis of Salisbury, Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex, to be
that the numbers of a Volunteer Rifle Corps should exceed sixty, and
that particulars of the names of the members, and of the mode of
training in arms practised, should be supplied.

The Christmas of 1852 saw the production of "The Boy Hunters."  "For the
boy readers of England and America this book has been written, and to
them it is dedicated; that it may interest them, so as to rival in their
affections the top, the ball, and the kite--that it may impress them, so
as to create a taste for that most refining study, the study of Nature--
that it may benefit them, by begetting a fondness for books, the
antidotes of ignorance, of idleness, and vice, has been the design, as
it is the sincere wish, of their friend the author."



During the year 1852 a strong friendship had sprung up between Captain
Mayne Reid and Louis Kossuth, the ex-governor of Hungary, who was at
that time living in London.  Captain Reid entered enthusiastically into
the Hungarian cause and attended many public meetings on behalf of the

In February, 1853, when the ill-fated insurrection at Milan took place,
Kossuth was anxious to join the insurgents as soon as possible.

Captain Reid proposed that Kossuth should travel across the Continent
disguised as his servant.  A passport was actually got from the Foreign
Office for this purpose, and bears date 24th February, 1853, "for the
free passage of Captain Mayne Reid, British subject, travelling on the
Continent with a man-servant, James Hawkins, British subject."  All was
in readiness for their departure, when a telegram in cipher was received
by Kossuth that the rising had proved only an _emeute_.

Fortunately for Captain Reid, who was thus spared risking his life on
the altar of friendship, as he was quite prepared to do.  Capture in
Austria would have been certain death for one, if not both of them.

He remained a staunch friend to Louis Kossuth during the latter's
residence in England, ever ready to defend him with the pen, as he had
been with the sword.

_The Times_ of February 10th, 1853, contained these lines at the head of
its Notices to Correspondents: "At 2 o'clock this morning we received a
letter, signed `Mayne Reid,' denying, in absurdly bombastic language,
the genuineness of the proclamation which we published on the 10th
inst., and which we introduced as `professing to be addressed by M.
Kossuth to the Hungarian soldiers in Italy.'  Such documents are seldom
very formal, but we had good reason for believing it to be genuine, and
shall certainly not discredit it without better authority than that of
`Mayne Reid.'"

The letter to which _The Times_ refers--or rather a copy of it--was sent
by its author to the _Sun_.

"Louis Kossuth and the Italians.

"The following note has been addressed to ourselves by Captain Mayne
Reid, inclosing, as will be seen, a somewhat remarkable communication
addressed to one of our morning contemporaries.  In our leading columns
of this evening we have referred more directly to the very curious
documents here subjoined:

"To the Editor of the _Sun_.

"30, Parkfield Street, Islington.

"February 16th, 1853.

"Sir,--I regret that I am a stranger to you, but I have a confidence
that your sense of `fair play' will influence you to insert the
accompanying letter in your journal of to-morrow.  I need hardly add
that the facts which it states have been drawn from an authentic source.

"With high respect, sir,

"I am, etc,

"Mayne Reid."

"To the Editor of _The Times_.

"Sir,--In your journal of the 10th inst. appears a telegraphic dispatch
announcing an insurrection in Milan; and underneath, in the same column,
a document which you state `purports to be from Kossuth,' and to which
is appended the name of that gentleman.

"Now, sir, M. Kossuth either did write that document, or he did not.  If
he did, and you have published it without his authorisation, you have
committed, by all the laws of honour in this land, a dishonourable act.
If he did not write it, you have committed, by the laws of justice in
this land, a criminal act.  I charge you with the committal of both.
You are guilty of the latter; and the latter, like a parenthesis,
embraces the former.

"You have published that document without any authorisation from the man
whose name is subscribed to it; and upon the day following, in an
additional article, you have declared its authenticity, as a
proclamation addressed by M. Kossuth, from Bayswater, for the purpose of
engaging the Lombard and Hungarian patriots in the late insurrection at

"As such, sir, in the name of M. Kossuth, _I disavow the document.  I
pronounce it to be a forgery_.

"It remains with M. Kossuth to bring you before the bar of the law.  It
has become my duty to arraign you before the tribunal of public opinion.

"I charge you, then, with having given utterance to a forged document,
which was calculated to reflect with a damning influence upon the fame
of its reputed author.  Such conduct is in any case culpable.  In yours
it is inexcusable, since you daily tell us that `whatever is intended
for insertion must be authenticated by the name and address of the

"But this is not all, sir.  In the editorial referred to, you take
occasion to speak of the man whose name has been thus abused in a tirade
of vengeful invective, whose epithets I, as a gentleman, shall not
condescend to reproduce.

"Calling the false proclamation `bombastic fustian,' you have charged M.
Kossuth with aiding to incite the late insurrection in Milan, and
thereby causing the wanton shedding of blood--of `hallooing on the
wretched victims to certain destruction, while he himself enjoys the
most perfect personal security under the guardianship of British law.'

"This is a serious charge, and, if not true, a slander which, by the
mildest construction, must be termed most cruel and atrocious.  _It is
not true_.  It is a slander, and I feel confident that all who read will
pronounce it, as I have done, cruel and atrocious.

"With regard to its first clause, I here affirm that M. Kossuth had not
only no part in inciting the Italians to a revolution at this time; but,
that up to the latest moment, he opposed such an ill-judged and
premature movement with all the might of his counsel.  He had weighty
reasons for so doing.  Perhaps you, sir, may know what these `weighty
reasons' are; but whether you do or not, I am not going to declare them
for the benefit of Austrian ears.  This is not the question now, but
your charge is; to which I oppose the affirmation that it is _not true_.
With regard to the latter clause of your quoted assertion, I have thus
to answer; that the moment in which M. Kossuth received the news of the
insurrection in Milan--and which came upon him as unexpectedly as upon
any man in England--upon that moment he hurried to make preparation for
his departure to the scene of action.  Although filled with a prophetic
apprehension that the affair would turn out to be an _emeute_, and not a
national revolution, he, nevertheless, resolved to fling his body into
the struggle.  I, who was to have had the honour of sharing his dangers,
can bear testimony to the zeal with which he was hurrying to face them,
when he was frustrated by the news that the insurrection was crushed.
Were I to detail, as I may one day be called upon to do, the sacrifices
which he made to effect that object, the slanders, sir, which you have
uttered against him would recoil still more bitterly upon yourself.  For
the present I content myself with the assertion of the fact; but should
you render it necessary I am ready with the proofs.

"But no such explanation was needed to shield Louis Kossuth from your
unmanly accusation.  Shall I recall a circumstance in the life of that
heroic man to refute you?  You, sir, must know it well.  It has been
recorded in the columns, and engraven in the tablets, of history.  In
August, 1849, upon the banks of the Danube stood Louis Kossuth.  On one
side was the avenging Austrian, thirsting for his blood; on the other
his weak and wavering protector, who had declared that unless he--
Kossuth--and his associates would consent to abandon the religion of
their fathers they must be yielded up, to what?  On the part of Kossuth,
to death--certain death--upon the ignominious scaffold.  In this
perilous crisis, others, less compromised, accepted life upon the terms
proposed.  What did Kossuth, when it came to his turn to speak?  He
uttered these words of glory: `Death, death upon the scaffold, in
preference to such terms for life!  Accursed be the tongue that could
make to me such an infamous proposal.'

"In such language, at such a time, there is no `bombastic fustian.'  I
could believe that there were men incapable of comprehending the sublime
courage, the heroic virtue of such an act; but I did not believe there
existed a man in all England who would have the effrontery--the positive
and palpable meanness--to stigmatise the hero of that act with a charge
of cowardice.

"Such, sir, are the facts connected with this affair.  I may at some
future time treat you to a few opinions, and review more copiously the
history of your conduct in relation to M. Kossuth.  Meanwhile, I leave
you to purify your soiled escutcheon as you best may.

"I am, sir, yours obediently,

"Mayne Reid.

"February 15th.

"P.S.--February 16th.  Sir,--In your journal of this morning, instead of
publishing the above letter, you have noticed it in a short paragraph,
worthy of the pen that would malign a patriot.  But do not imagine that
you are to escape thus easily from the unpleasant position in which you
have placed yourself.  In this country the character of a gentleman,
though he be a stranger, is not to be wantonly assailed with impunity,
and you, sir, shall be as amenable to the laws of honour and justice as
the meanest citizen in the land.

"You say, in relation to your pseudo proclamation, that you `had good
reason for believing it to be genuine, and shall certainly not discredit
it without better authority than that of Mayne Reid.'

"If you had no better authority for publishing it than what is implied
by the tenor of the above paragraph, I fancy you will have some
difficulty in explaining to your readers why you published it at all,
and to your countrymen why--_so long as a doubt existed in your mind as
to its genuineness_--you took advantage of the sentiments expressed by
it to defame the character of its reputed author.  You take occasion to
characterise my letter as `absurdly bombastic language.'  It is before
the public as above.  Let them be the judges; and the only favour I
should ask of them would be, to read your editorial article upon the
same subject.  Having given yours a prior perusal, I feel satisfied that
their ears will not be so delicately attuned as to be jarred by the
`absurdly bombastic' of mine.

"`Bombastic' seems to be a favourite phrase with you, and for the style
itself no writer in England is more accustomed to its usage than that
mythical personage--the editor of _The Times_.

"Your sneer at the `authority of Mayne Reid,' is equally characteristic.
It is true I am but a plain gentleman, who make my living, like
yourself, by literature.  But I did not calculate upon the statement of
a plain gentleman having any weight with you.  In my letter I offered
you full proof of my assertions.  You do not seem inclined to call them

"And now, sir, one word more.  If you flatter yourself that by means of
bold swagger and personal invective you can cover your misdeeds, you are
sadly mistaken.  You may insult the understanding of Englishmen, as you
repeatedly do, with your wordy sophistry, and mystify the masses, who
`run as they read.'  I, sir, have a higher faith in the intelligence of
my countrymen, and a full confidence that the majority of them have
heads clear enough to understand, and hearts pure enough to repudiate,
an unprovoked and unproven slander.

"I am, sir, etc,

"Mayne Reid."


In the _Morning Advertiser_ of February 19th, 1853, appeared the

"M. Kossuth and `The Times.'

"To the Editor of the _Morning Advertiser_.


"Your kindness in giving a place in your widely circulated journal to my
former communication in relation to M. Kossuth leads me to hope that you
will also publish the inclosed document.

"I am, sir,

"With high respect,

"Truly yours,

"Mayne Reid.

"301, Parkfield Street, February 17th."


"To the Editor of _The Times_.


"You have refused to disavow the pseudo proclamation which you published
over the name of M. Kossuth, _without better authority than that of
Mayne Reid_.  Perhaps you will be satisfied with the authority of the
gentleman whose name is in autograph appended to the communication I now
inclose you.

"I am, sir, etc,

"Mayne Reid."

"To Captain Mayne Reid.

"London, February 18, 1853.

"My Dear Sir,

"I feel myself under high obligations for the generous and chivalric
manner in which you stepped forth to do me justice, when you knew me to
be wronged in that `proclamation' matter; as also I feel bound to
lasting gratitude towards you for the noble readiness with which you
gave me at once your helping hand, at my request, to aid me to reach the
field of that action which I did not approve, but which, of course, I
must have been anxious to join.

"Your generous assistance, which you so readily granted me, I can the
more appreciate, as I am sorry to say with us there are many
difficulties, even in reaching any field of honourable danger at all.
We are not free to move.  Evidence of it: That when not long ago my
departed dear mother was on her death-bed in exile, a certain
`constitutional' government would allow me to go to imprint the parting
kiss of filial devotion on her brow upon the condition only that I
should submit to the disgraceful profanation of being accompanied by a
`gendarme' to my dying mother's bed.

"I thank you, sir, most affectionately, for that your assistance, as
well as your chivalric defence.  I was just about myself to publish a
formal disavowal of that `Proclamation to the Hungarian Soldiers.'  I
hope you, as well as every Englishman, will appreciate my motive for not
having done it earlier.

"My motive, sir, was this: that my disavowal would, of course, have been
telegraphed to Austrian quarters; and, supposing the fight in Italy
still pending, might have possibly done some harm to my beloved brethren
in oppression, the Italians.  So I took it to be my simple duty rather
silently to submit to any virulent indignity than to harm the chances of
the struggling patriots at Milan, who, though inconsiderately and at an
ill-chosen moment, risked their life and blood and their sacred honour
to free their country from insupportable oppression, and that a foreign
one, too; just as England once rose and risked blood and life and sacred
honour--nay, more, sent one king to the scaffold and one other into
eternal exile--to free herself from oppression, though it was not a
foreign one.

"The history of past revolutions is but too readily forgotten by those
who now reap their fruits in peace and happiness.  But I would like to
recall it to memory now, when men will be but too ready to add bitter
blame to the misfortune of the vanquished.

"I certainly, sir, did highly disapprove of any idea of rising in Italy
now; but the failure of the unfortunate victims I will consider but as a
new claim upon my compassion and sympathy.  Men, in the peaceful
enjoyment of freedom and prosperity, can scarcely imagine what
aspirations and what thoughts can and must cross the hearts of a people
suffering what Italy does.  That should be borne in mind before we cast
the stone of blame upon those who fell.

"I, sir, am so much penetrated by this sentiment, that, were it not for
higher motives--which are entirely of no personal susceptibility that I
am not permitted to take upon myself the imputation of an imprudent act
which I did not commit--I, perhaps, would have preferred to be injured
by letting pass in silence the whole proclamation matter, and all the
venomous slander connected with it.

"But for those higher motives I feel infinitely obliged to you for
having so generously undertaken to vindicate my prudence, and my plain
but honest character.  May be that this, your chivalry, will entirely
release me from the necessity of any further public steps in that
respect.  That I shall see, and leave in the meantime my ready disavowal
where it is.

"However, as following the generous impulse of your heart, you may,
perhaps, feel inclined to fight on the battle, if required, in which you
so nobly engaged, I thought it would perhaps be as well to state to you
some particulars.

"I think any intelligent reader of that purported proclamation may have
at once become aware of its not being genuine on reading it.  Because,
to say in one and the same, document something to this effect: `I send
the bearer to you that he may inform me who amongst you are faithful and
true, and inform me how you should organise;' and to say in the same
document, as it were with the same breath: `Rise!  Strike!  The moment
is at hand,' which, is as much as to say, `Don't organise'--this is,
indeed, too absurd a blunder in logic to be believed.

"Do I then disavow the sentiments contained in that document?  No, sir;
all my life is, and will be, summed up in this idea: my country's
freedom--my country's rights; and consistently with this, I am, and will
remain, an irreconcilable enemy to Francis Joseph of Austria, who stole
by perjury from my country sacred rights, freedom, constitution, laws,
and national existence; and beaten back in his criminal attack, robbed
it by treason and by foreign force--and now murders it.  Yes, sir, I
avow openly these my sentiments, and trust in God that the day of
justice and retribution will soon come.  And why should I not avow them?
I am not bound to any allegiance to Francis Joseph of Austria.  Not I;
not my exiled countrymen; not our dear Hungary.  He is no lawful
sovereign of Hungary.  Justice is at home in England, sir; and,
therefore, I defy any man to get up a jury, or to point out a court in
all England which would find a verdict for Francis Joseph being a lawful
sovereign of Hungary--or I and my country owing him allegiance.

"Nor do I desire to be understood that I have never written anything
like the contents of that apocryphal document.  I, indeed, sir, never
thought to have any claim to the reputation of a classical authorship.
Bad as it is, sir, I have written worse things in my life.  I may have
written every sentence of it; some of them at one time, some at another
on different occasions--probably when I was a prisoner at Kutayah, for
different exigencies, all past, long past, years ago, out of which
writings the present document might have been patched up without my
knowledge, and used on the present occasion without my consent.

"All this is not the question.  The question, sir, is--have I addressed
this (or whatsoever else) proclamation from English soil for the purpose
of engaging the Hungarian soldiers, or whomsoever else, in the late
insurrection at Milan, or wherever else, in Italy?

"That is the question.  Answering to this question, you disavowed the
document as such, and pronounced it to be a forgery--and you are
perfectly right.  I neither invited, nor gave any authority to any one
to invite, the Hungarian soldiers to join in any insurrection in Italy
now.  Nay, whenever I heard anything said about the Lombard patriots
being incapable of enduring longer their oppression, and that perhaps
they might feel inclined to break forth at any risk, I condemned the
very idea of thinking now upon an insurrection in Italy, declaring that,
for the present, no revolutionary movement would succeed in Lombardy,
but `would turn out to be but a deplorable _emeute_;' and I, for one,
declared every _emeute_, however valiantly fought, would but render
impure the well-founded, legitimate prospects of the cause of liberty.

"All this, sir, you have known, when you gave your chivalric _dementi_
to that purported proclamation of mine.  You have known more yet; you
have seen a letter from one of the most renowned Italian patriots, dated
on the 10th of February, from the field of action, in which he
categorically confesses that `I in my views was perfectly right, and
they have been wrong;' and in which he further, giving me the first
notice of my name having been used `clandestinely' at Milan, gives me
himself full evidence that it was done without my knowledge, without my

"You have known all this, sir; but one thing you may not yet know, and
that is:

"I came to England about the end of June, 1852.  Since that time I have
been always on English soil; and since I have been on English soil, I
never addressed any proclamation to the Hungarian soldiers in Italy.

"But stop.  Yes, I have addressed a proclamation to them.  A single one,
dated February 15th, a copy of which I beg leave to send to you; and
remain with the highest regards and sincere gratitude,

"Dear sir,

"Yours affectionately and obediently,

"L. Kossuth.

"P.S.--You may make any public or private use of this my letter, and of
the annexed proclamation, you may think proper.--Kossuth."

"To the Hungarian Soldiers quartered in Italy.

"Gallant Countrymen!--It is with indignation I learn that on the
occasion of the troubles of February 6th, at Milan, an appeal has been
circulated there in my name, calling on you to join in that abortive

"Soldiers! that document was not genuine.  I have not approved of an
insurrection in Italy for the present moment.  I issued no appeal
calling on you to take a part in it.

"Once the time will come--and come it shall, undoubtedly--when I, in the
name of our country, will desire you, wheresoever you may then be, to
side with the people around the banner of liberty.  That is a sacred
duty.  Our enemy is the same everywhere, and the people's cause is one
and the same; alike as there is but one God, one honour, and one

"But this one I shall do at the right time.  The present time was not
the right one.

"Of one thing you may rest assured, and that is, that I shall never play
with your blood a wanton play.

"Whensoever I shall say to you, `Ye braves, the time is at hand!'  I
will tell you this neither from London, nor from any distant safe place,
but from headquarters.  In person will I lead you on, and claim the
first share in your glorious dangers.

"Never shall I invite you to risk any danger in which I myself do not

"And as no one can be present in two places at once, should I, for that
reason, not place myself, at the head of your heroic ranks--because duty
will call on me to do that in our own dear country, where I shall have
to fight for freedom and right in Hungary, while you will be fighting
for it in Italy--my appeal will reach you by the hand of a gallant
Hungarian commander, whom I will charge to lead you on to the field of
glory--fighting forward home to join the banner which I shall hold

"Of this you may rest assured.  Until then be prepared--but wait.  Don't
play your blood wantonly.  The Fatherland, the world, is needing it.

"For freedom and Fatherland!

"L. Kossuth.

"London, February 15, 1853."

The "forged proclamation" correspondence elicited numerous editorials
from the Press, all warmly in praise of Captain Mayne Reid's able
defence of Kossuth.

From the _Morning Advertiser_ of February 19 the following is extracted:

"_The Times_--we say it with regret, because the character of the entire
newspaper press is more or less affected by the misdeeds of one of its
leading members--has earned for itself an unenviable notoriety by the
frequency with which it gives circulation to calumnies against those to
whom it is opposed, and then refusing to allow the parties affected to
prove that they are calumniated.

"A striking case, illustrative of this, has occurred within the last few
days.  _The Times_, by some means or other, becomes possessed of a
document purporting to be a proclamation from Kossuth, addressed to the
Hungarian soldiers in that portion of the Austrian army employed to put
down the insurrection in Milan.  We do not charge our contemporary with
publishing this proclamation knowing it not to be genuine.  We are
willing to give _The Times_ credit for believing in the perfect
genuineness of the document when it opened its columns to its insertion.
Nor do we blame that journal for inditing a leading article, in which
the proclamation in question was made the groundwork of a furious
onslaught on Kossuth, because we are still assuming that _The Times_ all
this while believed the document to be an emanation from the pen of the
illustrious Magyar.

"But farther than this, in our allowances for our contemporary, we
cannot go.  _The Times_ is told that the proclamation to the Hungarian
soldiers in the Austrian army was not the production of Kossuth's pen,
and that he was in no wise responsible for its sentiments or its
exhortations.  Captain Mayne Reid writes to _The Times_, not only
denying the genuineness of the document but producing facts and
assigning reasons, which ought to have satisfied that journal that it
had preferred a charge against Kossuth as groundless as it was
injurious.  But instead of giving a ready insertion to Captain Mayne
Reid's vindication of the character of the Hungarian chief from the
calumnies which _The Times_ put into circulation, that journal, without
assigning, or being able to assign, any reason for still believing that
the document was genuine, reiterates the assertion of its having
proceeded from Kossuth's pen.

"Fortunately for the character of the English press, there is not
another journal of any reputation in the country that would act in this
matter as _The Times_ has done.  However much a paper may chance to be
opposed to a particular individual, we know of no instance, with this
solitary exception of _The Times_, in which an editor, having preferred
a groundless charge against a man whose character is everything to him,
would refuse to allow a contradiction and disproof of the accusation.
The force of injustice could no further go.  To act in this way is to
play the part of a moral assassin, and ought to draw down on the head of
the journalist who could play so criminal a part the indignation and
abhorrence of the public.

"_The Times_ has not yet forgotten its old grudge against the Magyar
chief, nor is it likely it ever will.  It not only greatly damaged its
commercial interests by the system of calumny which it pursued towards
the Hungarian exile, but it had also to endure the mortification of
finding that all its efforts to injure Kossuth's character, or to
diminish the interest felt in the cause of Hungary, were entirely
unsuccessful.  Never was the utter powerlessness of a journal more
thoroughly demonstrated than was that of _The Times_ on the arrival of
Kossuth in this country, and the mortification of its signal failure to
prevent the tide of popular feeling from flowing in favour of the
ex-governor of Hungary, still rankles in the heart of _The Times_.  The
gross act of injustice which we have sought to expose, and which we have
so unsparingly denounced, is the consequence of that intolerable

"The character of Kossuth needed not the able and unanswerable defences
which Captain Mayne Reid, a popular author as well as gallant officer,
published in the columns of this journal on Thursday.  Least of all was
it necessary to vindicate the Hungarian chief from the charge of want of
courage.  The entire conduct of Kossuth, during the most troublous and
perilous period of the struggle for the national independence of his
country, proved him to be a man possessed of courage, of heroism, and of
a disregard of all considerations of personal safety, as his civil
administration of the affairs of Hungary showed him to be a statesman of
consummate capacity.

"Afterwards came the other, and, in some respects, still nobler display
of lofty heroism, which Kossuth made when a prisoner in Turkey.  Those
are indeed heartless calumniators who would seek to brand with the guilt
of cowardice one of the bravest of men, overwhelmed with sorrow and an
exile from his country--a country dearer to him than life itself.  But
for the credit of English journalism be it spoken, there is only one
paper amidst the entire press of this country of which he can complain.
We need not name that journal.  Every one knows we allude to _The
Times_--a journal whose name has for some time past been everywhere
regarded as synonymous with all that is unprincipled and ungenerous.

"Since the above was in the printer's hands, we have received another
communication from Captain Mayne Reid, inclosing a letter from Kossuth
himself, which completely settles the question of the forged
proclamation.  No one can read the letter of the illustrious Hungarian
without blushing to think that he should be systematically assailed in
the most savage manner, and be made the victim of a series of the
grossest calumnies by a paper arrogating to itself the title of `the
leading journal of Europe.'  Captain Mayne Reid deserves, and will
receive, the thanks of every lover of justice for his spirited and
triumphant defence of the character of Kossuth."

_The Times_ afterwards stated that Kossuth was storing arms at
Rotherhithe.  In the issue of that journal on April 18th, 1853, appeared
the following editorial note:

"We have received another highly complimentary letter from Mr Mayne
Reid--we mean a whole sheet full of abuse--and so long as we continue
what we are, and Mr Mayne Reid continues what he is, we shall consider
his abuse the greatest praise it is in his power to bestow.  A feeling
of regard for the English language induces us, however, to refrain from
giving publicity to Mr Mayne Reid's balderdash, which we dare say may
be read in another place."

A copy of this letter had been forwarded to the _Morning Advertiser_,
and appeared in full in its columns on April 18th.  It is as follows:

"To the Editor of _The Times_.

"Sir,--It is written--`Whom the gods would destroy, him they make mad.'
Your doom then seems inevitable; for if an utter abandonment of the laws
of morality, a reckless disregard of the laws of honour, a desperate
determination to court the contempt of your countrymen--if these be
symptoms of madness, then are you mad indeed--mad as moon can make you.

"But the gods are guiltless of the act.  The demons have done it.  Your
own vile passions have crazed you.

"Once more you have assailed M. Kossuth; once more you have shot your
envenomed shaft; and once more, glancing back from the pure shield of
that gentleman's honour, your poisoned arrow has recoiled upon yourself.
Unscathed stands he.  His escutcheon is unstained.  Even your foul ink
has not soiled it.  It is pure as ever; spotless as the pinions of the
swan, as the wing of the wave-washed albatross.

"You have created an abyss of infamy.  Into this you designed to drive
M. Kossuth.  You essayed to push him from the cliff.  Headlong you
rushed upon him; but, blinded by bad passions, you missed your aim.  You
have staggered over yourself; and your intended victim stands
triumphantly above you.

"From the declarations of the gentleman himself, from my own personal
knowledge of facts, I pronounce your whole statement regarding M.
Kossuth and his Rotherhithe arsenal a web of wicked falsehoods.  But the
cold-blooded audacity, the harlotic _abandon_, with which you have
uttered these falsehoods, and commented upon them, are positively
astounding.  It is difficult to believe you in earnest; and one is
inclined to fancy you the dupe of some gross deception.

"But the palpable _animus_ that guides your pen will not permit this
charitable construction, and we are prevented from giving you even the
benefit of a doubt.  We have no alternative but to believe you guilty,
with deliberate forethought, with `malice _prepense_.'

"But, sir, if you are to be suffered to drag innocent men from the
privacy of their hearth to charge them with imaginary crimes--to support
your charges with not a shadow of evidence, but, upon the contrary, to
substitute coarse calumny and vengeful vituperation--if all this be
permitted you with impunity, it is full time that we inquire, in what
consists English freedom?

"There are other tyrannies besides that of despotic governments.  There
is the tyranny of a licentious press; and, for my part, I would rather
submit me to the rule of the sabre and the knout, than live at the mercy
of a conclave of dissipated adventurers who sneak around the purlieus of
Printing House Square.

"I shall not condescend to repeat the slanders you have lately uttered.
I am saved the necessity of refuting them.  The pen and the tongue have
already accomplished this.  Higher names than mine have endorsed the
refutation.  In the House of Commons, Duncombe, Walmsley, Bright and
Dudley Stuart, have nailed the lie to the wall.

"I know not what course M. Kossuth may pursue towards you.  Doubtless he
may treat you with that dignified silence he has hitherto observed.  He
can well afford it.  He need not fear to be silent.  He shall not lack

"You may double your staff of facile scribes, and arm each of them with
a plume plucked from the fetid wing of the Austrian eagle.  You will
find among the champions of truth, brains as clear and pens as clever as
your own; and though you may stuff your columns with wordy sophistry, it
will be scattered like chaff before the heaven-born wind.

"I repeat it, M. Kossuth can afford to treat you with sublime silence;
but I, who am gifted neither with the divine endurance nor Christian
forbearance of that noble man--I cannot help telling you the contempt I
feel for you and yours.  I feel the paucity of language to express it,
and I doubt not but that every Englishman will experience a similar
difficulty.  True, we might get over that by borrowing a little from
your vocabulary, but I shall not condescend to do so.  Even now I feel
that I am sinking the gentleman in coming thus forward a second time to
call you to account.

"But as the citizen of a country by you disgraced--as the friend of a
man by you injured--I cannot submit myself to silence.  When you charge
M. Kossuth and other Hungarian leaders with a violation of our
hospitality, I cannot do otherwise than pronounce your statements false.
You perhaps do not know how much you yourself are indebted to the high
respect which these gentlemen have for the laws of English hospitality.
But for that, sir, I can assure you that you would long since have been
dragged from your incognito, and treated in a manner I will not
describe; and although I for one should not approve of such a
proceeding, I could not deny that you have done all in your power to
deserve it.  But if the laws of our country protect you, they also
protect the stranger from personal insult.  The host has duties as well
as the guest, and may equally violate the laws of hospitality.  You,
sir, have been guilty of that violation.

"I call upon you, then, to make some atonement for the wrong you have
done, to apologise to the man you have wronged, to your countrymen,
whose honour you have compromised, whose intelligence you have insulted.
I counsel you to this course, which you will find the most prudent.  Do
not affect to despise my counsel.  Do not imagine, like Macbeth, that by
`becoming worse,' and keeping up a meretricious swagger, you may
extricate yourself from your unhappy position.  This, be assured, you
can never do.  Powerful as you fancy yourself, you are not strong enough
to defy public opinion.  You may flounce about the lobbies of a
theatre--you may frown upon the manager, and frighten the trembling
_debutante_--you may, now and then, make merit for yourself by holding
up to public execration some unfortunate wretch who, having
miscalculated the amount of black-mail, has made you an _inadequate_
offer; but fancy not, for all this, that you are omnipotent: you cannot
annihilate one atom of truth.  The humblest gentleman in England may
condemn and defy you.

"Mayne Reid.

"14, Alpha Road, Regent's Park.

"April 16, 1853."

The language of this letter seems now somewhat inflated.  Allowance must
be made for the feelings of the writer, which, naturally sensitive, were
then strongly stirred by his friendship for Kossuth and his enthusiasm
for a popular cause.

A week later Kossuth wrote to Mayne Reid complaining of the espionage to
which he had been subjected during his residence in England, giving
certain facts.  The communication, along with a letter from his own pen,
was forwarded by Captain Mayne Reid to the _Daily News_, in the columns
of which it appeared, April 25th, 1853.

The following letters from Kossuth to Mayne Reid may be here
conveniently inserted:

"28th March, 1856.

"My Dear Sir,

"Here I am again to torment you eternally.  I send you the second half
of my second lecture for revision; the first half I am just a little
cutting to the proper length, inasmuch as this second half, as you shall
see, scarcely does admit of much abbreviation.

"How long _can_ a lecture be?

"Yours affectionately,


"Captain Mayne Reid."

"Friday evening, June 6, 1856.

"My Dear Sir,

"Sick, exhausted and outworn, I have had to prepare a new lecture for
Glasgow, whither I travel next Monday.

"Hard work this lecturing, but they promise to be remunerative; and I
have debts to pay, and my children want bread.

"I am greatly under obligation for your many kindnesses and assistance.
I am not unmindful of my obligation, and I hope soon to testify it; but
do me the favour once more to revise my grammar and syntax, I pray you.

"With the most sincere assurance of gratitude,

"Yours in truth and affection,


"Captain Mayne Reid."

"12, Regent's Park Terrace,

"March 4th, 1861.

"My Dear Friend,

"Very sorry to hear of the illness of Madame Reid and of your own
indisposition.  Bronchitis--that curse of the London climate--is a very
trying affair; we know only too much of it.

"Many, many thanks for your kind offer, which I gladly accept as far as
your powerful pen is concerned.  I am indeed in need of it, the more so
as I have no time to write myself--have scarcely time to breathe.

"We must try and make this Chancery suit a glorious triumph to my
country's rights and to the great principles involved in it, and I think
we may if only the press is not allowed to relax its support.

"The papers--at least most of them--are well disposed--even _The
Times_--only think!

"So write! write! write! is the word now more than ever.

"The _Daily News_ will, I think, accept any good article on the
subject--at least I expect them to do so--the _Morning Star_ still more,
and of the _Morning Advertiser_ I feel perfectly sure.

"I shall try to see you in the course of to-morrow, if possible--if not,
then after to-morrow for certainty.

"Yours very faithfully,


"Captain Mayne Reid."

In October, 1853, a meeting was held at the London Tavern, under the
presidency of Lord Dudley Stuart, to express sympathy with Turkey.
Captain Mayne Reid was present, and spoke effectively against secret

"Secret diplomacy!  There was not a phrase in the language that was more
repugnant to the hearts and the ears of Englishmen.  Secret diplomacy!
There was dishonour in the sound--there was positive and palpable
meanness in the thought.

"What has secret diplomacy done for England?  Was it by secret diplomacy
that this mighty nation had been built up?  If they looked back upon
their former history they would find that the tricksters of foreign
countries had always out-tricked the tricksters of England.  He could
understand some mean and petty nation having resort to secret diplomacy;
but he could not understand why England should have recourse to it.
Their first duty was to know what was right; and having ascertained
that, to demand it in the most open and straightforward manner.  He was
no lover of war; he would be glad to see the sword turned into the
plough share; but he believed the time had come when war was not only
just, but a strict and holy necessity.  They were bound by treaty to
protect the integrity of Turkey.  Throw interest to the winds, their
honour called upon them."

A week later, on the 22nd of October, the British and French fleets
entered the Bosphorus, determined to prevent the dismemberment of
Turkey, although it was not until the following March that war was
declared against Russia.

At Christmas 1853 "The Young Voyageurs," a sequel to "The Boy Hunters,"
was published.  The dedication was:

"Kind Father, Gentle and Affectionate Mother, Accept this tribute of a
Son's gratitude.

"Mayne Reid."

Of this book the _Nonconformist_ says:

"As a writer of books for boys, commend us above all men living to
Captain Mayne Reid.

"We venture to add, that we should like to see _men_ of any age who
could deny that its perusal gave them both pleasure and instruction."



Captain Mayne Reid had now met his fate; not in the dark-eyed Mexican
senorita, but a fair little English girl, a child scarce thirteen years
of age.  Her name was Elizabeth Hyde, the only daughter of George
William Hyde, a lineal descendant of the first Earl of Clarendon.

In his novel of "The Child Wife," he describes his first meeting this
young girl: "In less than ten minutes after, he was in love with a
child!  There are those who will deem this an improbability.
Nevertheless it was true; for we are recording an actual experience."
Later on he says to his friend Roseveldt: "That child has impressed me
with a feeling I never had before.  Her strange look has done it.  I
feel as if she had sounded the bottom of my soul!  It may be fate,
destiny, but as I live, Roseveldt, I have a presentiment she will yet be
my wife!"

The courtship was in itself a romance.  Elizabeth Hyde was living in
London with Mrs Hyde, the widow of her Uncle Clarendon, who brought her
up after her mother's death.  At Mrs Hyde's house Captain Reid was one
evening a guest.  Afterwards he told his wife, "I fell in love with you
that evening at first sight."  The next morning her aunt said, "Captain
Mayne Reid has quite fallen in love with you."  Elizabeth answered, "You
can tell him _I_ have not fallen in love with him."  A short time
afterwards to the question of some one who had not seen the "lion,"
"What is Captain Reid like?" she replied, "Oh, he is a middle-aged
gentleman."  This was repeated to Captain Reid, and he afterwards
allowed that his vanity was much wounded at the time.  A few weeks
passed and the "middle-aged gentleman" was quite forgotten.  Other
matters occupied Elizabeth Hyde's thoughts.  One day she was alone in
the drawing-room making a doll's outfit.  Captain Reid entered the room,
but she did not recognise him.  He looked surprised, and said, "Do you
not remember me?"  As he had a very foreign appearance, she exclaimed,
"Oh, yes, you are Monsieur--" Then he mentioned his name.  He asked how
old she was, and, on hearing, said, "You are getting old enough to have
a lover, and you must have me."

The "middle-aged gentleman" did not, however, come up to her standard.
Her uncle was her ideal.

After this Captain Reid made long and frequent visits to the aunt's
house, but saw the niece very little.  With her, indeed, he found so
little favour that she intentionally avoided his society.  Mrs Hyde
began to believe herself the attraction, as Mayne Reid spent hours in
her society.  All is fair in love and war.

An old Quaker lady--a great friend, who was frequently at the house at
the time of Mayne Reid's visits--was under the same impression, and at
the first visit she paid after his marriage, said to Mayne Reid, in her
quaint fashion, "Why, Mayne, I always thought thou wast after Eliza"
(Mrs Reid's aunt).

At last Elizabeth was beginning to feel some interest in her "lover."
It was pity at first, as she had a notion he was a refugee, having
lately heard his name in connection with the Hungarian refugees, though
to her childish mind a refugee had no definite meaning.  She thought,
however, it was something to be sorry for.

One day Captain Reid brought her "The Scalp Hunters," asking her to read
it, and saying she would find herself there.  This book was written and
published before the Captain saw her, but he said it was a
foreshadowing, and that at first sight of her he had exclaimed to
himself, "This is Zoe!"

Mrs Hyde was now about to marry again--a clergyman--and to reside in a
distant suburb of London.  Just before her removal, Captain Mayne Reid
called to say he was going on a visit to Paris, and to wish goodbye.
Mrs Hyde was not at home.  He said to Elizabeth, "I shall not know
where to find you when I return."  But she did not enlighten him on the
subject, little thinking how long it would be ere they met again.

After Mrs Hyde's marriage, Elizabeth went to her father in the country.
There did not seem any probability of Captain Reid and herself ever
meeting again, but she could not forget him for a single day during the
interval which elapsed.

Two years after, in the winter of 1853, without the least knowledge that
his Zoe was there, fate brought Captain Reid to the town at which she
was then staying, where he had been invited to address a public meeting
on behalf of the Polish Refugees.

Zoe was one of the audience at the Mechanics' Hall, where the meeting
was held, accompanied by some friends.

The following is a quotation from a description which Mrs Reid wrote
down:--"An electric thrill seemed to pass through me as Captain Reid
entered the room.  Instantly, as though drawn by an invisible hand, and
without a word to my friends, I left my seat and followed in the
direction I saw him take.  There was a platform at one end, occupied by
the speakers and a few ladies and gentlemen.  He took his seat on the
platform, and I mine also, just opposite to him.  We did not speak, but
our eyes met.

"At last it all came to an end--near midnight.  The audience were fast
dispersing in the body of the hall, the lights were being extinguished.
The few who remained on the platform were hand-shaking and
congratulating the speakers.  Captain Reid had a number around him.  I
might also have joined them--we were then standing only a few feet
apart--but something held me back.

"The place was now almost in darkness--all were leaving the platform.  I
caught a glimpse of my father hurrying towards me, and could just dimly
see two or three gentlemen evidently waiting for the Captain, who was
still conversing with one person.

"It seemed as though we were again about to be severed.  At that moment
he came towards me, grasped my hand, and I just caught the hurried
words:--`I leave for London by the next train.  Send me your address.'
Speech seemed to have left me, but it flashed upon me that I was in
ignorance of _his_, and managed to stammer out:--`I do not know where.'
He instantly handed me his card, and was gone.

"My father lifted me down from the platform and we groped our way out in
the darkness.

"I then learned that Captain Mayne Reid had only arrived that evening,
and was obliged to leave by the midnight train for London.

"On awaking the next morning, I immediately sprang out of bed to see if
the card which I had left on my table the previous night was still
there--or if it had not all been a dream.  But there was the card, with
the name and address in full.

"It was not long after breakfast before I wrote and posted a formal
little note:

"`Dear Captain Reid,--As you asked me last night to send you my address,
I do so.'

"By return of post I received the following:

"`My Little Zoe,--Only say that you love me, and I will be with you at

"My reply was:

"`I think I do love you.'

"On receipt of this the Captain put himself into an express train,
quickly covering the hundred and fifty miles which separated us.  My
lover told me that when we parted in London he had feared that it was
impossible to make me love him, but he could never forget me, and, in
spite of all obstacles, had the firm conviction I should yet be his.

"My father rather reluctantly gave his consent to our marriage, the date
of which was then fixed.

"I remember telling my father that I should be obliged to marry Captain
Reid, despite his objection.  But his disposition was the most gentle
and confiding.

"The last letter from my _fiance_ contains the following:

"I shall soon now call you my own, and gaze again into those beautiful

"Your love falls on my heart like dew on the withered leaf.  I am
getting old, and _blase_, and fear that your love for me is only a
romance, which cannot last when you know me better.  Do you think you
can love me in my dressing-gown and slippers?

"The word _blase_ puzzled me very much.  It was not then in my

Her aunt was greatly astonished at hearing the news of the marriage, as
she was daily expecting her niece's arrival _en route_ for school.

The child had gone to school of a different kind to educate herself in
the real experiences of life.

After Captain Reid's marriage many amusing incidents occurred in
relation to his "Child Wife."  One day Captain Reid, accompanied by his
little lady, was choosing a bonnet for her at a fashionable milliner's
in Regent Street.

The milliner had addressed Mrs Reid several times as "Miss."  At last
the Captain exclaimed rather sharply:

"This lady is my wife!"

The milliner, looking very much astonished, said: "I beg your pardon,
sir, I thought the young lady was about returning to school, and that
you were choosing a bonnet for her to take."

Two years later, when they were residing in the country, Mrs Reid was
one day in the baker's shop in the village ordering amongst other things
some biscuits.  Whilst the old man was weighing them out, he offered
some to Mrs Reid.  She thought this rather odd, but not liking to
appear offended took a biscuit.  The baker inquired, "How is Captain and
Mrs Reid, miss?"  Mrs Mayne Reid was much surprised as well as amused
at this question, thinking of course the baker must know her, as she and
Captain Reid had often been in the shop.  She answered: "Captain Reid is
quite well, and _I_ am Mrs Reid."

The old man's face was a study for an artist; he nearly fell back behind
his counter, exclaiming: "I humbly beg your pardon, ma'am.  I thought
you was the young lady visiting at the house during the holidays."  The
Captain's wife being still taken for a school-girl, it was necessary for
her to assume an extra amount of dignity.

It appeared they had fancied that Mrs Mayne Reid was an elderly invalid
lady, who did not go out much.

About this time Mrs Reid's father was on a visit to them, and used to
accompany his daughter on horse-back nearly every day.  He looked so
young that the servants were asked: "Who is that young gentleman who is
always riding out with Mrs Reid?"

They got things considerably mixed, taking the husband for the father,
and the father for something else, the latter being much the younger
looking of the two, though of about the same age.

A short time previous to Captain Mayne Reid's death, he and Mrs Reid
were spending an evening at a friend's house, and the late John Oxenford
was one of the guests.  Just as they were taking their departure, Mr
Oxenford said to Mrs Reid: "I have had a very pleasant surprise in
meeting your father again; he is as entertaining as ever."  Mrs Reid
was rather puzzled, since her father had been dead some years, until the
hostess explained: "This is Captain Mayne Reid's wife, not his

At which there was a general laugh all round.

These funny incidents were constantly occurring.  Sometimes Mrs Reid
would be supposed to be in no way related to Captain Reid, and would
hear all kinds of remarks and comments passed upon the gallant
Captain-author, which she would afterwards relate for his amusement.

Captain Reid used to say he could not have endured having an old wife.
On one occasion, when attending a large public _soiree_, a somewhat
elderly dame of his acquaintance attached herself to him, and promenaded
the room by his side for a great part of the evening.  Mrs Reid
wondered what was making her husband look so savage.  He came across the
room to her saying: "I want _you_ to keep close by me for the rest of
the evening, or people will be taking that old thing for my wife!"

He was proud of his wife, and liked to have her remain his "Child Wife"
to the end of the chapter.

"The Hunter's Feast" and "The Forest Exiles" were now written, the
latter being his next boys' book for Christmas 1854.

"The Bush Boys," published in 1855, was the first of Captain Mayne
Reid's South African books for boys.  It was dedicated "To three very
dear young friends, Franz, Louis and Vilma; the children of a still
older friend, the friend of freedom, of virtue, and of truth--Louis
Kossuth, by their sincere well-wisher, Mayne Reid."

Captain Reid had commenced "The Quadroon" some time before, and laid the
Mss. away in his desk.  It was finally published in three volumes, 1856,
and was a very popular book.  It was dramatised shortly after its first
appearance, and performed at the City of London Theatre.  Some years
later, when a controversy arose as to the source of Mr Boucicault's
drama of "The Octoroon," Mayne Reid sent the following letter to the
_Athenaeum_, on December 14th, 1861:

"During a residence of many years--commencing in 1839, and ending, with
intervals of absence, in 1848--the author of `The Quadroon' was an
eye-witness of nearly a score of slave auctions, at which beautiful
Quadroon girls were sold in bankruptcy, and bought up, too, notoriously
with the motives that actuated the `Gayarre' of his tale; and upon such
actual incidents was the story of `The Quadroon' founded.  Most of the
book was written in 1852; but, as truthfully stated in its preface, in
consequence of the appearance of `Uncle Tom's Cabin' its publication was
postponed until 1856.  The writing of it was finished early in 1855.

"With regard to `The Quadroon' and the Adelphi drama, the resemblance is
just that which must ever exist between a melodrama and the romance from
which it is taken; and when `The Octoroon' was first produced in New
York--January, 1860--its scenes and characters were at once identified
by the newspaper critics of that city as being transcripts from the
pages of `The Quadroon.'  Some of its scenes as at present performed are
original--at least, they are not from `The Quadroon'--but these
introduced incidents are generally believed not to have improved the
story; and one of them--the poisoning of the heroine--Mr Boucicault has
had the good taste to alter, restoring the beautiful Quadroon to the
happier destiny to which the romance had consigned her.  It might be
equally in good taste if the clever dramatist were to come out before
the public with a frank avowal of the source whence his drama has been

Soon after his marriage Captain Mayne Reid took up his abode in
Buckinghamshire, at Gerrards Cross, about 20 miles from London.  The
greater number of his works were written in this rural retreat.

"The Young Yagers," a sequel to "The Bush Boys," was his Christmas book
for 1856, and on the 3rd of January, 1857, the first chapter of his
novel, "The War Trail," appeared in _Chambers Journal_.  Messrs.
Chambers paid three hundred guineas for the right of issue in their
journal, and the following year they published "Oceola" in the same
manner, with an advance in price.  The scene of this novel is laid in
Florida, and deals with the Seminole war.

During the year 1858, Captain Mayne Reid wrote "The Plant Hunters," also
his first essay at a sea book of adventure for boys, "Ran Away to Sea."
It was followed in 1859 by "The Boy Tar," published by Messrs.
Routledge, and in 1860 he wrote for that firm "Odd People," a popular
description of singular races of men.

"The White Chief," published in 1859, was his next novel.

In 1860 "The Wild Huntress" first appeared in _Chambers Journal_.

In 1861 Messrs. Routledge published "Bruin, or the Great Bear Hunt,"
also a book of "Zoology for Boys: Quadrupeds, what they are and where

Captain Reid dramatised "The Wild Huntress" himself.

In 1861-62, "The Wood Rangers" and "The Tiger Hunter, or a Hero in Spite
of Himself," adapted from the French of Louis de Bellemare, were
published; and in 1862, the first part of "The Maroon" appeared in
_Cassell's Family Paper_.  It was afterwards issued in three volumes by
Hurst and Blackett, of Marlborough Street.  Mayne Reid dramatised this
story himself, and the play was performed at one of the East End London

In the autumn of 1863, Mayne Reid published a "Treatise on Croquet."  He
was an enthusiast of the game, had made a study of the rules, and spent
many a happy hour in sending his enemy to "Hong-Kong."  Calling one day
at a friend's house he picked up a little book called "The Rules of
Croquet," by an "Old Hand;" on examination this proved to be a copy of
his own book.  It was sent out in boxes of croquet, of what was known as
the "Cassiobury" set, and Lord Essex was responsible for its
publication.  Mayne Reid demanded an explanation and withdrawal of the
work.  This being refused him, he advised his solicitor, the result
being a Chancery suit against Lord Essex, which was eventually
compromised by the payment of 125 pounds, as well as all costs of the
suit, the withdrawal of the book and the destruction of all copies.

Towards the end of 1862 a singular being presented himself at Captain
Reid's town house.  He was attired in a rough blanket, with his head
passed through a hole in the middle of it--a sort of "poncho"--and
carried a brown paper parcel under his arm.  Mayne Reid listened to his
story, which was to the effect that he had lately landed from Australia,
that he had travelled round the earth more than six times and had lived
with cannibals.

Captain Mayne Reid invited the "cannibal" to stay and eat, as it was
just luncheon-time.  Mrs Reid listened to his wonderful tales with
horror.  The cannibal remarked, "I scarcely know how to use a knife and
fork, having been away so long from civilisation."

During the repast, Captain Reid had to leave the table to see some one
in his study, and Mrs Reid quickly made an excuse for going too,
fearing she might be eaten!

The parcel contained a story he had written.  He had tried to get an
audience of some publishers in London, but they would not look at him.
His name was Charles Beach, otherwise "Cannibal Charlie."  Mayne Reid
told him to leave his manuscript, and he would look at it, at the same
time giving the man a sum of money and telling him to get himself a
"rig-out," as no doubt his appearance being so outlandish prejudiced
those whom he called upon.

At the "cannibal's" next appearance, he was looking a little more
civilised, and the manuscript in time, through the help of Captain Mayne
Reid, developed into a three volume novel, published in 1864, under the
title of "Lost Lenore; or the Adventures of a Rolling Stone."

In the preface Mayne Reid scarcely takes sufficient credit to himself
for the part he played; he had recast and nearly rewritten the whole
work before it was placed in the publisher's hands.  He says:

"A `Rolling Stone' came tumbling across my track.  There was a
crystalline sparkle about it, proclaiming it no common pebble.  I took
it up, and submitted it to examination--it proved to be a diamond!  A
diamond of the `first water,' slightly encrusted with quartz, needing
but the chisel of the lapidary to lay bare its brilliant beauties to the
gaze of an admiring world.  Charles Beach is the proprietor of this
precious gem; I, but the artisan intrusted with its setting.  If my
share of the task has been attended with labour, it has been a `labour
of love,' for which I shall feel amply rewarded in listening to the
congratulations which are due--and will certainly be given--to the lucky
owner of the `Rolling Stone,' the finder of `Lost Lenore.'"



The next novel from his pen was "The White Gauntlett," an historical
romance of the time of Charles the First.  Many of the scenes are laid
in Buckinghamshire.

During the same year, 1863, "The Ocean Waifs" was appearing in the _Boys
Journal_, and the following year "The Boy Slaves" was written for the
same magazine.  After an interval of six years Captain Reid now
satisfied his boy readers as to the fate of Karl and Caspar, the young
"Plant Hunters," in the sequel called "The Cliff Climbers."

The _Boys' Journal_, 1865, contained his next boys' book, "Afloat in the

This year the wonderful tale of "The Headless Horseman" made its first
appearance.  There was a large coloured lithograph to be seen at all the
railway stations and bookstalls of a handsome black horse, with a rider,
in Mexican striped blanket, booted and spurred--all complete, but
wanting a head!  By many, this work is considered Mayne Reid's
masterpiece.  It is translated into Russian, and the circulation is
stated to be the largest of any English author in Russia.  Captain Mayne
Reid is the most popular English novelist there.

In addition to his novels and books for boys, Mayne Reid is the author
of numerous short stories and magazine sketches, most of which are
published in collected form.

The author's many eccentricities were the theme of his rural neighbours'
gossip.  During his residence at Gerrards Cross, the gallant Captain
attended church more for the purpose of studying the bonnets than
anything else.  His inattention to the service, as also his dandyism in
dress, were alike commented upon.  One morning the post brought him the
following, sent anonymously by a young lady:

"A friend who is deeply interested in Captain Mayne Reid's spiritual
welfare forwards a prayer book, with the sincere wish that it may induce
him to behave more reverently in church, and in reminding him that there
is such a colour as lavender, hopes that the everlasting lemon kids may
be varied!"  This was accompanied by an infinitesimal prayer book, and a
pair of lavender _cotton_ gloves.

The vicar also presented him with a large church service; so the
Captain's spiritual welfare was well looked after just then.

One of the humbler members of the congregation, a labouring man, had
also noticed the non use of a prayer book, and accosted the Captain one
day, thus: "Ah, sir, I see you don't require no book; you be a
scholard."  The poor man evidently thinking that he knew it all by

Between the years 1862 and 1865 Captain Mayne Reid built himself a house
in the style of a Mexican hacienda, with flat roof.  In front of the
house he constructed an artificial pond--a circular basin lined with
cement, a jet of water in the centre--probably to remind him of the
alligator and the sisters Loupe, and Luz, to whom we are introduced in
"The Rifle Rangers."  He also built some model cottages and a reading

He made his own bricks, employing a regular staff of brick makers, and
was his own architect.  During the time of the building he would be up
at six o'clock every morning to look after the workmen, and woe betide
any who were the least negligent in their duty.  The Captain's voice
would be heard afar off, and one might fancy he was again storming
Chapultepec, or that a troop of his wild Indians on the "war-path" had
suddenly invaded the quiet village.

This unfortunate mania for bricks and mortar, combined with other
circumstances, ended disastrously, and Mayne Reid had to give up his
country home, returning to London towards the end of 1866, to begin the
world over again.  His spirit was still undaunted, and in spite of
failing health he succeeded, after many struggles and disappointments,
in re-establishing himself.

On Saturday, April 27th, 1867, there appeared in the streets of London
the first number of a new penny evening journal, called _The Little
Times_.  It was an almost exact counterpart of _The Times_ in miniature.
In the first column was:

"Births.--On the 27th inst., at 275 and a half, Strand, London, _The
Times_, of a _Little Times_.

"Marriages.--On the 6th inst., at Brussels, Philip Coburg to Mary
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.  No cards.

"Deaths.--On the 12th inst., at Saint Stephen's, Westminster, Mr
Gladstone's amendment to the Reform Bill, deeply lamented by Lord

This paper was Captain Reid's first enterprise after his bankruptcy.
The Publisher's advertisement was "_The Little Times_ will be published
daily as soon as possible after the receipt of the morning mails and

"Its latest edition will contain all the news received up to the
dispatch of the evening mails for the country.

"Subscribers in the provinces will thus receive the latest London and
Foreign Intelligence before it can reach them by the morning papers.

"About the political leaning of _The Little Times_ nothing need here be
said.  Its spirit and proclivities will soon be discovered.

"It is scarcely necessary to point out to men of business the advantage
of using _The Little Times_ as an advertising medium.

"No quack or immoral advertisements will be admitted into its columns--
the Publisher reserving to himself the right to decide as to their

"The terms for advertising will be One penny per word, and Two pence per
word for the title in Capitals.  No advertisement charged less than Two

"It is hoped that _The Little Times_ will be found in the shop of every
newsvendor, and on the stalls of every railway station.  If not, a note
of requisition addressed to the Publisher will ensure not only an answer
but a prompt supply."

It was a stupendous undertaking for him, as he not only edited and wrote
the leaders, as well as the feuilletons of the paper, but did other
literary work at the same time.  We give the following "editorial" from
his pen, under date of May 6, 1866:

"We are on the eve of an event that will startle, not only the people of
this country, but Europe and the whole world.

"Our information comes from high and indubitable authority; though we do
not consider ourselves at liberty, at the present moment, to give
details.  The vagueness of our statement does not imply its
unsubstantiality.  All we will now venture to affirm is: that neither
the mass of the English population, nor public opinion on the Continent,
is prepared for the occurrence; and without indicating the party in the
State taking the initiative, or the precise intent and plan of the
action contemplated, we simply refer to it as having all the
characteristics of a _coup d'etat_.

"The action this day taken by the Ministry, in the matter of the Hyde
Park demonstration, may assist in the interpretation of the event to
which we allude."

"Our first word this day is for the working men of the metropolis; and
we should give it to them in the shape of advice, but that we know it
would reach them too late.  If damage is to be done, it will be begun
before we get upon the scene, and our presence there would have no
influence in staying it.  If windows are to be smashed the stones will
commence flying before three o'clock, and when stones are in the air no
quiet peacemaker will be tolerated.

"But you are not going about your business in the right way.  On the
contrary, all wrong.  _You have no right to assemble in the Park_.

"We do not speak of the Park as being private property, or belonging to
the Crown.  We deny such a doctrine _in toto_.  Neither that Park, nor
any other to which the Crown claims ownership by fossil fictions of old
statutory law.  It belongs to the nation, but no part or portion of the
nation has the right to use it for party purposes without the consent of
the whole, and that consent should be obtained through the only
authority that can legally grant it--the Legislative Government of the
people.  We know that this user is claimed by a thing which calls itself
Government, in the shape of a Privy Council--not only claimed but
enjoyed, without thought of illegality.  We have militia trainings,
fancy fairs, grand cavalcades of idleness and elegance, with roads cut
to accommodate them.  All this without asking either Parliament or
people.  But all this without asking is wrong--positively and legally
wrong.  If such privileges were asked, neither Parliament nor people
would be slow to refuse them.  Certainly not the Parliament, and as
certainly not the English people, who have never been addicted to a
dog-in-the-manger policy when the sport of their aristocracy required
permission.  The sting lies in your not being consulted, and now the
greater sting in being yourselves refused a share of the same privilege.
Is this not the true explanation of your present ill-humour?  We would
risk a wager that it is.

"For all that you have no right to assemble in the Park, as you declare
yourselves determined upon doing."

He was compelled to abandon _The Little Times_ for want of funds, and
also from his health breaking down under the strain of night and day

After resting a while, Mayne Reid wrote "The Finger of Fate," the first
part of which appeared in the _Boy's Own Magazine_, December, 1867.

"The Finger of Fate" has since earned a fame its author never
anticipated for it, his widow having to defend her rights (and that
successfully) in the Chancery Division against an infringement of the
copyright, and a leader in _The Times_ was devoted to the subject.  The
book ends with a trial in favour of the plaintiff!

He had also a short tale, "The Fatal Cord," running in a periodical, the
_Boys of England_, and had engaged to write "The Planter Pirate" for the
same paper.



In October, 1867, Captain and Mrs Mayne Reid went to the United States,
arriving at Newport, Rhode Island, in November.  Here they took a
furnished cottage for the winter.

Soon after his arrival Captain Reid was eagerly sought by different
publishers who wished to get his name.  At Newport he wrote "The Child
Wife," for which _Frank Leslie's Paper_ paid him 8,000 dollars for the
right of first appearance in its columns.  "The Child Wife" was
published by Ward, Lock and Tyler, in 3 volumes, in 1868, and is now
issued in one volume by Messrs Sonnenschein and Co.  The proprietor of
the _Fireside Companion_ also paid 5,000 dollars to run "The Finger of
Fate" in his paper.  Mayne Reid had as much work for his pen as he could
get through, and was now speculating upon bringing out a boys' magazine
of his own in New York.

In December, 1868, the first number of _Onward_, Mayne Reid's magazine,
appeared; he continued in the editorship for 14 months, doing other
literary work in addition, till his health completely gave way, and the
magazine was abandoned.

He was a constant sufferer from the effects of the wound in his leg, and
during this brief sojourn in the United States was a patient in Saint
Luke's Hospital, New York, in 1870, suppuration of the thigh having
brought him to death's door.  From the hospital he writes:

"To the Editor of the _Sun_.

"Sir,--I have been for some days an inmate of Saint Luke's Hospital, a
sufferer from a severe and dangerous malady.  To save my life calls for
the highest surgical skill, along with combination of the most
favourable circumstances, among them quiet.  And yet during the whole of
yesterday, and part of the day before (the Lord's Day), the air around
me has been resonant with what, in the bitterness of my spirit, I
pronounce a _feu d'enfer_.  It has resembled an almost continuous
fusillade of small arms, at intervals varied by a report like the
bursting of a bombshell or the discharge of a cannon.  I am told that
this infernal fracas proceeds from a row of dwelling houses in front of
this hospital, and that it is caused by the occupants of these dwellings
or their children.

"Accustomed in early life to the roar of artillery, my nerves are not
easily excited by concussive sounds, and, therefore, I have not been
seriously affected by them.  But, alas! how different with scores of my
fellow-sufferers in the hospital, beside the couch of many of whom death
stands waiting for his victim.  I am informed by my nurses, intelligent
and experienced men, that they have known several cases where death has
not only been hastened, but actually caused by the nervous startling and
torture inflicted by these Fourth of July celebrations.  I have been
also informed that the venerable and philanthropic founder of this
valuable institution has done all in his power to have this cruel
infliction stayed, even by personal appeal to the inhabitants of the
houses in question, and that he has been met by refusal, and the reply,
`We have a right to do as we please upon our own premises.'  I need not
point out the utter falsity of this assured view of civic rights, but I
would remark that the man, who, even under the sanction of long custom,
and the pretence of country's love, permits his children, through mere
wanton sport, to murder annually one or more of his fellow citizens, I
say that such a man is not likely to make out of these children citizens
who will be distinguished either for their patriotism or humanity.

"In the name of humanity I ask you, sir, to call public attention to
this great cruelty, and, if possible, have it discontinued.

"Yours very truly,

"Mayne Reid.

"Saint Luke's Hospital, July 5th, 1870."

He was interviewed in the hospital by a lady, who wrote the following
account of her visit to Mayne Reid:

"New York, August 9, 1870.

"My sympathies were enlisted, too, for the brave fellow who has been
languishing in Saint Luke's Hospital.  The sole tidings of him was the
4th of July remonstrance, which revealed how his spirit chafed at the
seclusion and helplessness incomparably worse than physical pain.

"To find my way, then, to the hospital seemed a part of my pleasure in
New York.  The gate shut me in with a heavy clang, and I walked up the
path to the main building with, I confess, no little trepidation at my
boldness.  In answer to the request `to see Captain Mayne Reid,' I was
conducted through a broad hall into a long ward furnished with an
infinite number of low, narrow cots, that looked too small for any
practical purpose.  A turn through a short hall and what appeared to be
an apothecary's closet brought us to the private room of the author.  He
was lying upon a bedstead (similar to the ones in the ward) which was
placed in the centre of the apartment.  As he turned his head and raised
himself upon his elbow to address me, he presented the view of a
middle-aged, sturdy-looking English squire.  The head is compact and
covered by a profusion of dark brown hair, which, in contrast with the
pallid complexion, stood out as if it had no part and parcel with the
corpse-like whiteness of the scalp.  The brow was smooth and fair,
rounded out to gigantic proportions by ideality, causality and
reverence.  The nose, nervous and scornful, would have been remarkable
but for the large and beautiful eyes, that are restless habitually, but
when fixed upon an object have a lancellating effect, and withal an
expression of great good heart, that is seconded by one of the most
winning smiles I ever beheld.  Hands of uncommon grace and beauty
somehow complete the charm of his lips and eyes.

"To speak first of matters of most interest to the public, Captain Reid
has been suffering from the effects of a gun-shot wound received in the
Mexican war, culminating in an abscess which threatened to exhaust his
vitality.  Recovered from that by the care of one of the most
experienced surgeons in America, he was attacked by dysentery, which at
the time I saw him had reduced him to a critical condition again.

"`I may say truly,' he observed, `that I was dead, and am alive.  The
doctors had given me up, and I felt myself there was no chance.  I had
the hiccough for hours, and the brandy and water administered gave me no
relief.  With life slowly ebbing away, and the past and future passing
in rapid review before my mind, an old recollection flashed before me in
the strangest way, that draughts of pure brandy would sometimes arrest
hiccoughs.  I reached forth my hand for the bottle of brandy that stood
on my stand and took a swallow.  Instantly it went like fire through my
veins, and with another draught my life was saved.  I tell it to you for
it may be of service to you some time.'

"As we talked, the air coming fresh through the open window, laden with
the murmur of leaves and twitter of swallows, a light, even step was
heard approaching, and a lady came forward, pausing on the threshold.
Oh, but she was fair! with her golden hair caught up under an azure
fanchon of satin, and falling in soft ripples over her forehead.  There
was an expression of firmness in her calm blue eyes which gave character
to the face of infantile shape and loveliness.  From her face my eye
wandered to her figure, struck with admiration at her graceful pose--an
accomplishment few women possess.  They dance and sometimes walk well,
but they rarely know how to stand still.  Her gown, I observed, was
white, with an overdress or wrap of blue, admirably suited to her
peculiar style of beauty.

"`My wife,' said the invalid, and as he explained that I called because
I had read his books she smiled and extended her hand.  The smile was
like sunshine, and the clasp of her soft, cool hand a positive luxury.
The clear and musical voice was in keeping with her beautiful self, and
I loitered for a moment to gather a full impression of the scene."

A few days after this interview a serious relapse took place, and on
August 10th, telegrams were sent to his friends: "Captain Mayne Reid is
dying."  Everything was prepared for his interment, and even an obituary
notice was written.

His wife was allowed to stay at the hospital during the night, being
told by the doctors that any minute might be her husband's last.  He had
been lying in an unconscious state for the past three days, all the
signs of approaching dissolution being present.  About 8 o'clock on the
morning of the 11th he rallied considerably.  The doctors and two of the
lady nurses were around his bed, when he suddenly raised himself up,
exclaiming in a strong voice: "Turn those she-Beelzebubs," pointing to
the two ladies, "out of the room at once, preaching at a fellow, and
telling him he's going to die.  I'm not going to die.  Bring me a

Every one was astounded, the poor chaplain being nearly frightened out
of his wits.  The beef-steak was speedily brought in, and the patient
made a feint of eating a portion.

From that day the gallant Captain slowly progressed towards recovery,
and on September 10th left Saint Luke's Hospital and sailed for
Liverpool in the middle of October, this being his last visit to the
country in whose cause he had shed his blood and earned the laurels of



For some time after his return home Mayne Reid's health remained in a
precarious state, and he suffered very much from depression.  At one
time it was almost feared that his mind would not recover its balance.
That wonderful intellect was sadly clouded; the terrible ordeal he had
passed through in New York had left its mark behind.  But in the end,
with careful nursing his illusions vanished, and he once more resumed
the pen.  After writing some short articles for "Cassell's Illustrated
Travels," he revised "The Finger of Fate" and "Lone Ranche," which was
published in two volumes by Chapman and Hall.  In May, 1872, Mayne Reid
commenced writing a new story, "The Death Shot," for Mr Ingram.  It
appeared in _The Penny Illustrated Paper_, and was a great success,
speedily increasing the circulation of that paper.  "The Death Shot" was
also published by Beadle and Adams, of New York, in their _Saturday

On returning from his autumn tour in South Wales, Captain Reid writes to
his young friend, Charles Ollivant:

"I'm growing as fat as the claimant, and strong as a bull, but sorrowful
as a `gib cat.'"

He was then re-writing "The Lone Ranche," and making it a much longer
book.  It ran through the columns of _The Penny Illustrated Paper_,
under the title of "Adela."

In a letter written in November, Mayne Reid says:

"I am now in the middle of a negotiation, that if successful will be of
great service to me--perhaps give me a small income for life, and for my
dear wife when I die.  I am trying to re-purchase the copyrights of my

It was successful, and in December, 1873, and the following June, 1874,
he was enabled to re-purchase the copyrights of most of his works.

In the autumn of 1874, Chapman and Hall published "The Death Shot" in
three volumes.  It had recently been revised.

In the preface, dated Great Malvern, September, 1874, he says:

"The author has re-modelled--almost rewritten it.

"It is the same story, but as he hopes and believes, better told."

During the summer of this year Captain Reid commenced "The Flag of
Distress," which was first published in _Chambers Journal_ in August,
1875.  He received three hundred guineas for the right of issue in that
journal.  Of this book Dr William Chambers wrote to Mayne Reid: "I
think the plot excellent, and the character of `Harry Blew' the finest
you have drawn."

"The Flag of Distress" was afterwards published in three volumes by
Tinsley, and it and "The Death Shot" are now issued in one volume,
published by Swan Sonnenschein and Co.

He also contributed several articles to magazines and a short tale to
_The Illustrated London News_.

In October, 1874, Mayne Reid was again laid low.  This time an abscess
attacked the knee of the wounded leg.  Again reports of his death were
circulated, and once more arrangements made for his burial.  For six
months he was on his bed, and rose at last a cripple, never being able
to walk again for the remainder of his life without the aid of crutches.
In 1882 a small pension was granted him from the United States
Government for Mexican war services.  The claim was for an invalid
pension, and this was afterwards increased, but only shortly before his

During the last few years of his life, Captain Mayne Reid may be said to
have literally turned his sword into the "plough share."  He resided
then near Ross, Herefordshire, amid the picturesque Wye scenery, and
occupied himself in farming.  He reared a peculiar breed of sheep--a
cross between a Mexican species and the Welsh mountain sheep--and
succeeded at length in getting a flock, all with the same peculiarities,
namely, jet black bodies, snow-white faces and long white bushy tails.
An account of these sheep appeared in the _Live Stock Journal_, 1880.
They were called "Jacob's sheep," being "ringed and speckled."

The Captain used to say, jestingly, that he should go down to posterity
as a breeder of sheep.  Their mutton appeared on his table, and out of
their wool he had cloth woven, from which he wore garments made to his
own design.

He was also a large potato grower, experimenting with Mexican seed.
Some clever articles upon potato culture from his pen were contributed
to the _Live Stock Journal_, 1880.

In his Herefordshire home he wrote "Gwen Wynn: a Romance of the Wye."

Towards the end of 1880 Captain Mayne Reid revised "The Free Lances," in
fact re-writing almost every line.  The book had been originally written
while he was editing the _Onward Magazine_ in New York, but was not then
published.  Mr Bonner, the proprietor of the _New York Ledger_, paid a
large sum for running it through his paper.

This revising, in addition to other literary work, was rather hard upon
Mayne Reid.  He writes:

"I thought I would have broken down, but I seem to get better with the
hard work, only I am in great fear my poor wife will give way.  She is
in very delicate health, and looking quite ill.  That acts sadly against
me in my work, for when she is not cheerful I don't write nearly so

His wife was his amanuensis.  Captain Mayne Reid regularly contributed a
Christmas tale to the _Penny Illustrated Paper_ and other journals
during these latter days.

"The Free Lances" was published in three volumes, 1881, by Remington.
The _Saturday Review_, July, 1881, says: "Captain Mayne Reid seems to be
as lively a writer as he ever was, and if `The Free Lances' causes any
less thrill of excitement than was wont to be aroused by `The Scalp
Hunters,' the fault must be due to a change in the reader rather than in
the author."

"The Free Lances" is now published in one volume.

The last novel from Captain Mayne Reid's pen was "No Quarter," an
historical tale of the Parliamentary wars.  Most of the scenes are laid
in Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean, all of which Mayne Reid
personally visited before writing the story.  The principal characters
and scenes of the book are historically correct.

He also wrote for the _Sporting and Dramatic News_ articles on "Our Home
Natural History," and letters to the _New York Tribune_ on the "Rural
Life of England."

For Mr Ingram's paper, the _Boys' Illustrated News_, of which Captain
Mayne Reid was co-editor on its first appearance, he wrote "The Lost
Mountain" and "The Chase of Leviathan," also natural history notes and
short stories.

"The Naturalist in Siluria," a popular book on natural history, was also
written in Herefordshire.

Mr W.H. Bates, author of "The Naturalist on the Amazon," in a letter to
Mrs Reid, says:

"Throughout our mutual acquaintance Captain Mayne Reid always impressed
me as a man deeply interested in all natural history lore, and the
subject was one of our most constant topics of conversation.  If
circumstances in early life had turned his attention in that direction
he would have made a reputation as a naturalist."

The last book for boys written by Captain Mayne Reid was "The Land of
Fire," a short story of the South Seas; but ere its publication the hand
that penned it was cold in death.


Captain Mayne Reid possessed great powers of oratory.  He would speak
for hours on a subject with untiring energy.  The language from his
tongue flowed facile as that from his pen, his favourite theme being
politics.  He would often astound his hearers by the eloquence he
expended upon his beloved theory--the superiority of Republican over
Monarchial institutions.  Occasionally he came across a Tory equally
red-hot, and then the "fur would fly."  But Captain Reid, by his great
charm of manner, rarely gave offence, and was, as a rule, listened to
with good nature on both sides.  Often while in the height of a very hot
discussion he would suddenly change the theme, dropping at once from the
sublime to the ridiculous with such ease that it was difficult for his
audience to tell if he had really been in earnest.  Had Mayne Reid
chosen, he would have made a name as an orator.  The few occasions on
which he occupied the platform amply proved this.

Though cherishing the strongest Republican principles, Mayne Reid was by
no means a leveller, but in many things the very opposite to what the
expression of his opinions would lead one to suppose.  He was an enigma,
which only one in the close contact of everyday life with him could

His name rarely figured at literary gatherings, but he sometimes
attended the Geographical or Zoological Societies' meetings; in fact, he
avoided rather than sought literary society.

Before commencing a new book, Captain Mayne Reid would thoroughly study
his subject and work out the plot.  He would make rough drafts at first,
which were afterwards thrown away.

He had no skill with the pencil, but would make curious figures like
hieroglyphics in his manuscript, intended to represent objects
described, but bearing to all but himself a merely imaginary

His mode of writing was peculiar.  He rarely sat at a table, but
reclined on a couch, arrayed in dressing-gown and slippers, with a
portable desk and fur robe thrown across his knees even in hot weather,
and a cigar between his lips--which was constantly going out and being
re-lighted--while the floor all around him was strewed with matches.
Latterly, after he became a cripple, the dressing-gown was discarded for
a large Norfolk jacket, made from his own sheep's wool; and he would sit
and write at the window in a large arm-chair with an improvised table in
front of him resting on his knees, upon which at night he would have a
couple of candles placed, the inevitable cigar, matches, and whisky
toddy being the accessories.

He had a singular habit of reading in bed, with newspapers, manuscript,
and a lighted candle on his pillow.  At least a score or more of times
he has been found in the morning with the paper burnt to black tinder
all round him, but neither himself nor the bed-clothes in the slightest

The Mexican hero was never an idle man; and after his sword was sheathed
in its scabbard, his pen never rested.  His brain was as active as ever
till within a fortnight of his death.

On October 22nd, 1883, Mayne Reid had fought his last battle.


An irregular block of white marble, on which is carved a sword and pen
crossing each other, and these words from "The Scalp Hunters:--"

  This is the weed prairie,
  It is misnamed,
  It is the Garden of God,

mark his last resting-place, in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.



In this chapter are given a reminiscence by Donn Piatt of Mayne Reid,
and a few extracts from the numerous obituary notices which appeared in
the press.  Donn Piatt writes:

"Mayne Reid wrote his first romance at my house, in this valley, where
he spent a winter.  He had come out of the Mexican war decorated with an
ugly wound, and covered with glory as the bravest of the brave, in our
little army under Scott.

"When not making love to the fair girls of the Mac-o-chee, or dashing
over the country on my mare, he was writing a romance, [`The Rifle
Rangers'] with the scene in Mexico and on our Mexican border.

"He would read chapters to us of an evening (he was a fine reader), and
if the commendation did not come up to his self-appreciation he would go
to bed in a huff, and not touching pen to paper for days would make my
mare suffer in his wild rides.  I found that to save bay Jenny I must
praise his work, and he came to regard me in time as Byron did Gifford.
When told that ugly critic had pronounced `me lord' the greatest of
living poets, he said that he was `a damned discriminating fellow.'

"That romance proved a great success.  Again, like Byron, he put his
well-worn gown, one morning, about one wakened to fame and fortune.

"The first remittance took the restless soldier of fortune from us,
never to return.  He would not have been content to remain as long as he
did, but for the fact that he was desperately in love with a fair inmate
of our house.  But in her big blue eyes the gallant Irishman did not
find favour, and he at last gave up the pursuit.

"From the station where he awaited his train he wrote us two letters.
One of these I never saw.  The other contained the following lines,
which, without possessing any remarkable poetic merit, gracefully put on
record his kind feelings on parting from the house he had made his home
for nearly a year."

  Mac-o-Chee Adieu.

  Fade from my sight the valley sweet,
      The brown, old, mossy mill,
  The willows, where the wild birds keep
      Song watch beside the rill;
  The cottage, with its rustic porch,
      Where the latest flower blooms,
  And autumn, with her flaming torch,
      The dying year illumes.

  Within mine ears the sad farewell
      In music lingers yet,
  And casts upon my soul a spell
      That bids it not forget;
  Forget, dear friends, I never may,
      While yet there lives a strain,
  A flower, a thought, a favoured lay
      To call you back again.

  When evening comes you fondly meet
      About the firelit hearth,
  And hours fly by on winged feet,
      In music and in mirth;
  Ah! give a thought to one whose fate
      On thorny pathway lies,
  Who lingered fondly near the gate
      That hid his paradise.

  I hear, along the ringing rails,
      My fate, that comes apace,
  A moment more and strife prevails,
      Where once were peace and rest;
  Unrest begins, my furlough ends,
      The world breaks on my view,
  Ah! peaceful scene; ah! loving friends,
      A sad and last adieu.

"Between that parting and our next encounter some twenty years
intervened.  Mayne Reid had made his fame and fortune, throwing the last
away upon a Mexican ranch in England, and I yet floating about on spars
had just begun to use my pen as a means of support.  He was grey, stout
and rosy, living with his handsome little wife in rooms in Union Square.
I told him that the old homestead upon the Mac-o-chee had fallen into
decay, and of the little family circle he so fondly remembered I alone

"That made him so sad that I proposed a bottle of wine to alleviate our
sorrow, and he led the way to a subterranean excavation in Broadway,
where we had not only the bottle, but a dinner and several bottles."

The following are short extracts from some public notices of his life:

In _The Times_, October 24th, 1883--"Every schoolboy, and every one who
has ever been a schoolboy, will learn with sorrow of the death of
Captain Mayne Reid.  Who has forgotten those glorious rides across the
Mexican prairies, when we galloped, mounted upon a mustang--a horse
would have been too flat and unromantic--on the war trail, and surprised
our enemy.  The very titles of the books are enough to stir the blood.
What a vista they open out of wild adventure, of mystery, of savage

In _The Standard_--"It is an odd incident in the life of Captain Mayne
Reid, that its active part ended suddenly, just when he might be
supposed to think that it was seriously beginning.  In 1849 he came to
London, and began to pour forth that wonderful stream of romance, which
never quite failed through thirty-four years, to the day of his death.
Captain Mayne Reid wrote for men and women, as well as boys; but there
was not, we believe, a word in his books which a schoolboy could not
read aloud to his mother and sisters."

In _The Daily News_--"An active man of adventurous temperament, he
imparted his own animal spirits and his passion for the marvellous into
the products of his busy brain.  He was born with a zest for travel,
which he contrived to indulge at a very early age.  He explored American
backwoods, hunted with Indians up the Red River, and roamed the
boundless prairie on his own account.  On behalf of the United States,
in whose army he received a commission, he fought against Mexico.  When
his sword was in its sheath, and his fingers held the pen, he wrote with
vigour and impetuosity as if under fire.  Captain Mayne Reid gave by his
books a great deal of innocent pleasure, and they could always be
admitted without scruple or inquiry into the best-regulated families."

And in _The Spectator_, October 27th, 1883--"As our judgment on Mayne
Reid's novels is not that of our contemporaries, we are disinclined to
allow his death to pass without a word of criticism.  As an individual
we knew nothing about him, except that in our judgment he missed his
career, and would have made a first-class agent of the Geographical
Society, to explore dangerous or excessively difficult regions, like
Thibet, the Atlas Range, or the unknown hills and locked-up villages of
Eastern Peru.  He was a man of exceptional daring, having a positive
liking for danger; he had the typographical eyes which should belong to
a general; and he had a faculty of description, which he watered down
for his novels till it was hardly apparent.  During the only interview
which this writer ever had with him, accident induced his interlocutor
to ask about the Pintos--the particoloured race sprung from native
Mexicans and the cross breed between Indians and Negroes--who are stated
to exist in the State of Mexico.  The writer disbelieved in them, and
expressed his belief, but Captain Mayne Reid, who declared he had seen
specimens of the race, held him quite fascinated for half-an-hour by a
description which, if imaginary, was a triumph of art, but which left on
the hearer's mind an impression of absolute truth."



  And I must leave thee, Erin! 'tis my fate--
  And I must wander over many a land!
  And other climes and other homes await
  The `Scholar,' wasted--worn--but may this hand
  That writes thy praises now, cold on the sand
  Unburied lie for ever--may no hearth
  Shelter me, vagrant on a foreign strand
  The cursed and homeless outcast of the earth,
  When I forget thou art the country of my birth.

  Erin, I love thee! though thy sunken cheek
  Is pale with weeping, and thy hollow eye,
  With many a stifled groan, and rending shriek,
  Reveals dark tales of bitter agony;
  That I have pitied thy sad misery
  I've proved through every change of land and sea;
  I've wafted o'er the ocean many a sigh,
  And many an earnest prayer that thou shouldst be,
  As are thy children's souls--unshackled, happy, free!

  I love thee, though I could not live with thee!
  The trampler of thy fields, red with thy gore,
  Had made my home a hell--I would not be
  The fawning minion at a great man's door--
  I would not beg upon thy wintry moor
  To starve neglected; and soon as I knew
  That there were other lands, the broad seas o'er,
  With hands to welcome, and with hearts as true--
  I dropped one tear, and bid my native land adieu!


  How gorgeously the golden sun declining
  Gilds the soft sea whose tranquil waters span
  Fair Cuba's Isle, the broad blue billow lining
  With such bright tints as painter's pencil can
  Project upon the naked canvas never!
  In mellower beam his parting glances quiver,
  Blending the hues of gold and red and azure,
  And pouring on the wave his richest treasure.
  From terraced roof above the noisy town,
  The Spanish maiden watches him go down;
  And mischief glistens in her dark brown eye:
  For sunset brings the masking hour nigh.
  Through loophole barred in yonder battlement,
  Where grimly frowns El Moros castled wall
  There's many an eye in weary watching bent,
  And many a sigh--alas! too idly spent--
  By pinioned captive pining in his thrall.
  The brilliant sheen upon the distant sea
  Perchance may to his memory recall
  Some happy thought of days when he was free;
  Draw from his haggard eye the scalding tear--
  The first that he has shed for many a year;
  He breathes! he moves! alas, the clanking chain,
  Soon checks the thought--he's in his cell again!
  The sentry pacing on the 'brazured wall,
  Lets to his feet the burnished carbine fall,
  And looking down upon the busy bay,
  Hums to himself some Andalusian lay;
  Or, gazing on the banner floating gay,
  Drawls out the loyal words, "_Viva el rey_!"
  Along the shores that skirt this southern town,
  A thousand dark eyes beam from faces brown--
  'Tis they that joy to see the sun go down.

  The muleteer, mounting, homeward turns his face,
  And goads his laden mule to quicker pace;
  The weary slave from out the field of cane,
  A moment glances at the far free main,
  And sighs as he bethinks him of his chain.
  Short-lived and silent is his thought of pain,
  For, stopping in his task while it is on,
  He reads relief in yonder setting sun,
  For, 'tis the herald of his labour done!
  The poor _Bozal_, who knows not yet to pray,
  Thinks of his wife and children far away,
  In some rude kraal by Biafra's bay.
  But where are they, that mild and gentle race,
  Who worshipped him with prostrate form and face?
  Where is the palm-screened hut of the cacique,
  That once rose over yon barranca's brow?
  Where are they all?  Son of the island, speak!
  Where the _bohio_ stood, domes, turrets now
  Alone along the hill-sides proudly gleam!
  Ha! thou art sad and silent on the theme;
  But in thy silence I can read their doom--
  Name, nation, all, have passed into the tomb.
  The tomb?  No--no; they have not even one
  To tell that they were once, and now are gone!
  The fading light grows purple on the deep,
  In gorgeous robes the god hath sunk to sleep;
  So sets the sun o'er Cuba, with a smile--
  The sweetest that he sheds upon this southern isle!

Mayne Reid did not admire a classical education.  He wrote the following
in May, 1881, and intended to publish it:

"The old adage `knowledge is power' is more trite than true.  Like many
other proverbs long unquestioned in these modern days it often meets
contradiction--indeed oftener than otherwise--ignorant men in every walk
of life wielding an influence denied to the most learned.  Substitute
the word `wealth' for knowledge, or even craft of the lowest kind, and
the proverb, alas! holds good.

"Nevertheless is there still some truth in it in its original form,
dependent on the kind of knowledge, whether it be useful or merely
ornamental.  To the latter belong most of that taught at our
universities and public schools--especially what are called the `dead
languages'--all but useless as regards the needs and realities of after
life, and but of little value even for its adornments.  Lore more
valueless, and time worse spent than in acquiring it, are scarce
possible to be conceived.  It barely finds its parallel in the Chinese
mnemonics.  When one reflects on the hours spent on this study, days--
with nights as well--weeks, months, and years, and then in after life
looks back how little good he has got from it--unless, indeed, he be
himself a school teacher or college professor to perpetuate the folly--
his reflections cannot be of a satisfactory kind.  What might he have
done--what could he not have done--had he been instructed in science,
instead of his mind made a storehouse of lumber, the cast-off clothing
of nations who were never properly clad, with coffins containing their
language dead as themselves?

"`But,' say the advocates of so-called classical education, `what better
way is there of training the youthful mind--giving it shape, scope, and
direction--what other?'  It seems hardly worth while to answer such a
question; the wonder is that any one should ask it.  Training the mind
by the declination of `hic haec hoc,' or that most absurd of all absurd
excessing, scansion, is the veriest mockery of mental discipline.
Science even in its humblest branches does infinitely better, and along
with the lesson gives something as valuable as the training itself, or
more so.

"`Ah! that may be true,' admit the admirers of defunct tongues, `but
then think of the soldiers, the statesmen, the poets, the heroes and
notables of every speciality, who have lived, and whose deeds are alone
recorded in the languages called dead.  Think of their customs and ways
of life, their virtues and their vices, their gods and their devils, and
how are you to get knowledge of them without acquaintance with their
language?'  Possibly better if we had never got knowledge of them, since
their ways of life were not always such as they ought to be, while their
vices and devils had a far more powerful influence over them than their
virtues and gods.

"But admitting the knowledge worth attaining, it is the sheerest
nonsense to say that it is not attainable without the study of their
languages.  The best classical scholar--and this in its truest sense--
the writer ever came in contact with was a man who knew not even the
letters of either Latin or Greek alphabet.  There are no arcana there.
Everything has been translated worth translating, and for the
acquisition of classical knowledge a year spent in reading these
translations is worth ten in the slow uncertain process of extracting it
from the originals.  To say that in translations the literature of the
ancients is not obtainable in its purity, is, like many other sayings,
either a falsehood or misconception.  And often more, since all the
translations are an actual improvement on the original."



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