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Title: Marse Henry (Volume 1) - An Autobiography
Author: Watterson, Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marse Henry (Volume 1) - An Autobiography" ***

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[Illustration: Henry Watterson (About 1908)]


"Marse Henry"

An Autobiography

By

Henry Watterson



Volume I



TO MY FRIEND
ALEXANDER KONTA
WITH AFFECTIONATE SALUTATION

"Mansfield,"
1919


  A mound of earth a little higher graded:
  Perhaps upon a stone a chiselled name:
  A dab of printer's ink soon blurred and faded--
  And then oblivion--that--that is fame!

  --HENRY WATTERSON



Contents



Chapter the First

    I Am Born and Begin to Take Notice--John Quincy Adams and Andrew
    Jackson--James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce--Jack Dade and "Beau
    Hickman"--Old Times in Washington

Chapter the Second

    Slavery the Trouble-Maker--Break-Up of the Whig Party and Rise of the
    Republican--The Key--Sickle's Tragedy--Brooks and Sumner--Life at
    Washington in the Fifties

Chapter the Third

    The Inauguration of Lincoln--I Quit Washington and Return to
    Tennessee--A Run-a-bout with Forest--Through the Federal Lines and a
    Dangerous Adventure--Good Luck at Memphis

Chapter the Fourth

    I Go to London--Am Introduced to a Notable Set--Huxley, Spencer, Mill
    and Tyndall--Artemus Ward Comes to Town--The Savage Club

Chapter the Fifth

    Mark Twain--The Original of Colonel Mulberry Sellers--The "Earl of
    Durham"--Some Noctes Ambrosianæ--A Joke on Murat Halstead

Chapter the Sixth

    Houston and Wigfall of Texas--Stephen A. Douglas--The Twaddle about
    Puritans and Cavaliers--Andrew Johnson and John C. Breckenridge

Chapter the Seventh

    An Old Newspaper Rookery--Reactionary Sectionalism in Cincinnati and
    Louisville--_The Courier-Journal_

Chapter the Eighth

    Feminism and Woman Suffrage--The Adventures in Politics and Society--A
    Real Heroine

Chapter the Ninth

    Dr. Norvin Green--Joseph Pulitzer--Chester A. Arthur--General
    Grant--The Case of Fitz-John Porter

Chapter the Tenth

    Of Liars and Lying--Woman Suffrage and Feminism--The Professional
    Female--Parties, Politics, and Politicians in America

Chapter the Eleventh

    Andrew Johnson--The Liberal Convention in 1872--Carl Schurz--The
    "Quadrilateral"--Sam Bowles, Horace White and Murat Halstead--A
    Queer Composite of Incongruities

Chapter the Twelfth

    The Ideal in Public Life--Politicians, Statesmen and Philosophers--
    The Disputed Presidency in 1876--The Persona and Character of Mr.
    Tilden--His Election and Exclusion by a Partisan Tribunal



Illustrations



Henry Watterson (About 1908)

Henry Clay--Painted at Ashland by Dodge for The Hon. Andrew Ewing of
Tennessee-The Original Hangs in Mr. Watterson's Library at "Mansfield"

W. P. Hardee, Lieutenant General C.S.A.

John Bell of Tennessee--In 1860 Presidential Candidate "Union Party"--"Bell
and Everett" Ticket

Artemus Ward

General Leonidas Polk--Lieutenant General C.S.A. Killed in Georgia, June
14, 1864--P. E. Bishop of Louisiana

Mr. Watterson's Editorial Staff in 1868 When the Three Daily Newspapers
of Louisville Were United into the _Courier-Journal_. Mr. George D.
Prentice and Mr. Watterson Are in the Center

Abraham Lincoln in 1861. From a Photograph by M. B. Brady

Mrs. Lincoln in 1861



"MARSE HENRY"



Chapter the First

    I Am Born and Begin to Take Notice--John Quincy Adams and Andrew
    Jackson--James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce--Jack Dade and "Beau
    Hickman"--Old Times in Washington



I


I am asked to jot down a few autobiographic odds and ends from such data of
record and memory as I may retain. I have been something of a student of
life; an observer of men and women and affairs; an appraiser of their
character, their conduct, and, on occasion, of their motives. Thus, a kind
of instinct, which bred a tendency and grew to a habit, has led me into
many and diverse companies, the lowest not always the meanest.

Circumstance has rather favored than hindered this bent. I was born in a
party camp and grew to manhood on a political battlefield. I have lived
through stirring times and in the thick of events. In a vein colloquial and
reminiscential, not ambitious, let me recall some impressions which these
have left upon the mind of one who long ago reached and turned the corner
of the Scriptural limitation; who, approaching fourscore, does not yet feel
painfully the frost of age beneath the ravage of time's defacing waves.
Assuredly they have not obliterated his sense either of vision or vista.
Mindful of the adjuration of Burns,

  Keep something to yourself,
  Ye scarcely tell to ony,

I shall yet hold little in reserve, having no state secrets or mysteries of
the soul to reveal.

It is not my purpose to be or to seem oracular. I shall not write after the
manner of Rousseau, whose Confessions had been better honored in the breach
than the observance, and in any event whose sincerity will bear question;
nor have I tales to tell after the manner of Paul Barras, whose Memoirs
have earned him an immortality of infamy. Neither shall I emulate the
grandiose volubility and self-complacent posing of Metternich and
Talleyrand, whose pretentious volumes rest for the most part unopened upon
dusty shelves. I aspire to none of the honors of the historian. It shall be
my aim as far as may be to avoid the garrulity of the raconteur and to
restrain the exaggerations of the ego. But neither fear of the charge of
self-exploitation nor the specter of a modesty oft too obtrusive to be
real shall deter me from a proper freedom of narration, where, though in
the main but a humble chronicler, I must needs appear upon the scene and
speak of myself; for I at least have not always been a dummy and have
sometimes in a way helped to make history.

In my early life--as it were, my salad days--I aspired to becoming what
old Simon Cameron called "one of those damned literary fellows" and Thomas
Carlyle less profanely described as "a leeterary celeebrity." But some
malign fate always sat upon my ambitions in this regard. It was easy to
become The National Gambler in Nast's cartoons, and yet easier The National
Drunkard through the medium of the everlasting mint-julep joke; but the
phantom of the laurel crown would never linger upon my fair young brow.

Though I wrote verses for the early issues of Harper's Weekly--happily no
one can now prove them on me, for even at that jejune period I had the
prudence to use an anonym--the Harpers, luckily for me, declined to publish
a volume of my poems. I went to London, carrying with me "the great
American novel." It was actually accepted by my ever too partial friend,
Alexander Macmillan. But, rest his dear old soul, he died and his
successors refused to see the transcendent merit of that performance, a
view which my own maturing sense of belles-lettres values subsequently came
to verify.

When George Harvey arrived at the front I "'ad 'opes." But, Lord, that
cast-iron man had never any bookish bowels of compassion--or political
either for the matter of that!--so that finally I gave up fiction and
resigned myself to the humble category of the crushed tragi-comedians of
literature, who inevitably drift into journalism.

Thus my destiny has been casual. A great man of letters quite thwarted, I
became a newspaper reporter--a voluminous space writer for the press--now
and again an editor and managing editor--until, when I was nearly thirty
years of age, I hit the Kentucky trail and set up for a journalist. I did
this, however, with a big "J," nursing for a while some faint ambitions
of statesmanship--even office--but in the end discarding everything that
might obstruct my entire freedom, for I came into the world an insurgent,
or, as I have sometimes described myself in the Kentucky vernacular, "a
free nigger and not a slave nigger."



II


Though born in a party camp and grown to manhood on a political battlefield
my earlier years were most seriously influenced by the religious spirit
of the times. We passed to and fro between Washington and the two family
homesteads in Tennessee, which had cradled respectively my father and
mother, Beech Grove in Bedford County, and Spring Hill in Maury County.
Both my grandfathers were devout churchmen of the Presbyterian faith. My
Grandfather Black, indeed, was the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, who
lived, preached and died in Madison County, Kentucky. He was descended, I
am assured, in a straight line from that David Black, of Edinburgh, who, as
Burkle tells us, having declared in a sermon that Elizabeth of England
was a harlot, and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, little better, went to
prison for it--all honor to his memory.

My Grandfather Watterson was a man of mark in his day. He was decidedly a
constructive--the projector and in part the builder of an important railway
line--an early friend and comrade of General Jackson, who was all too
busy to take office, and, indeed, who throughout his life disdained the
ephemeral honors of public life. The Wattersons had migrated directly from
Virginia to Tennessee.

The two families were prosperous, even wealthy for those days, and my
father had entered public life with plenty of money, and General Jackson
for his sponsor. It was not, however, his ambitions or his career that
interested me--that is, not until I was well into my teens--but the camp
meetings and the revivalist preachers delivering the Word of God with more
or less of ignorant yet often of very eloquent and convincing fervor.

The wave of the great Awakening of 1800 had not yet subsided. Bascom was
still alive. I have heard him preach. The people were filled with
thoughts of heaven and hell, of the immortality of the soul and the life
everlasting, of the Redeemer and the Cross of Calvary. The camp ground
witnessed an annual muster of the adjacent countryside. The revival was
a religious hysteria lasting ten days or two weeks. The sermons were
appeals to the emotions. The songs were the outpourings of the soul in
ecstacy. There was no fanaticism of the death-dealing, proscriptive sort;
nor any conscious cant; simplicity, childlike belief in future rewards and
punishments, the orthodox Gospel the universal rule. There was a good deal
of doughty controversy between the churches, as between the parties; but
love of the Union and the Lord was the bedrock of every confession.

Inevitably an impressionable and imaginative mind opening to such sights
and sounds as it emerged from infancy must have been deeply affected. Until
I was twelve years old the enchantment of religion had complete possession
of my understanding. With the loudest, I could sing all the hymns. Being
early taught in music I began to transpose them into many sorts of rhythmic
movement for the edification of my companions. Their words, aimed directly
at the heart, sank, never to be forgotten, into my memory. To this day I
can repeat the most of them--though not without a break of voice--while too
much dwelling upon them would stir me to a pitch of feeling which a life of
activity in very different walks and ways and a certain self-control I have
been always able to command would scarcely suffice to restrain.

The truth is that I retain the spiritual essentials I learned then and
there. I never had the young man's period of disbelief. There has never
been a time when if the Angel of Death had appeared upon the scene--no
matter how festal--I would not have knelt with adoration and welcome; never
a time on the battlefield or at sea when if the elements had opened to
swallow me I would not have gone down shouting!

Sectarianism in time yielded to universalism. Theology came to seem to my
mind more and more a weapon in the hands of Satan to embroil and divide the
churches. I found in the Sermon on the Mount leading enough for my ethical
guidance, in the life and death of the Man of Galilee inspiration enough to
fulfill my heart's desire; and though I have read a great deal of modern
inquiry--from Renan and Huxley through Newman and Döllinger, embracing
debates before, during and after the English upheaval of the late fifties
and the Ecumenical Council of 1870, including the various raids upon the
Westminster Confession, especially the revision of the Bible, down to
writers like Frederic Harrison and Doctor Campbell--I have found nothing
to shake my childlike faith in the simple rescript of Christ and Him
crucified.



III


From their admission into the Union, the States of Kentucky and
Tennessee have held a relation to the politics of the country somewhat
disproportioned to their population and wealth. As between the two parties
from the Jacksonian era to the War of Sections, each was closely and hotly
contested. If not the birthplace of what was called "stump oratory," in
them that picturesque form of party warfare flourished most and lasted
longest. The "barbecue" was at once a rustic feast and a forum of political
debate. Especially notable was the presidential campaign of 1840, the year
of my birth, "Tippecanoe and Tyler," for the Whig slogan--"Old Hickory" and
"the battle of New Orleans," the Democratic rallying cry--Jackson and Clay,
the adored party chieftains.

I grew up in the one State, and have passed the rest of my life in the
other, cherishing for both a deep affection, and, maybe, over-estimating
their hold upon the public interest. Excepting General Jackson, who was
a fighter and not a talker, their public men, with Henry Clay and Felix
Grundy in the lead, were "stump orators." He who could not relate and
impersonate an anecdote to illustrate and clinch his argument, nor "make
the welkin ring" with the clarion tones of his voice, was politically good
for nothing. James K. Polk and James C. Jones led the van of stump orators
in Tennessee, Ben Hardin, John J. Crittenden and John C. Breckenridge
in Kentucky. Tradition still has stories to tell of their exploits and
prowess, their wit and eloquence, even their commonplace sayings and
doings. They were marked men who never failed to captivate their audiences.
The system of stump oratory had many advantages as a public force and was
both edifying and educational. There were a few conspicuous writers for
the press, such as Ritchie, Greeley and Prentice. But the day of personal
journalism and newspaper influence came later.

I was born at Washington--February 16, 1840--"a bad year for Democrats,"
as my father used to say, adding: "I am afraid the boy will grow up to be a
Whig."

In those primitive days there were only Whigs and Democrats. Men took their
politics, as their liquor, "straight"; and this father of mine was an
undoubting Democrat of the schools of Jefferson and Jackson. He had
succeeded James K. Polk in Congress when the future President was elected
governor of Tennessee; though when nominated he was little beyond the age
required to qualify as a member of the House.

To the end of his long life he appeared to me the embodiment of wisdom,
integrity and courage. And so he was--a man of tremendous force of
character, yet of surpassing sweetness of disposition; singularly
disdainful of office, and indeed of preferment of every sort; a profuse
maker and a prodigal spender of money; who, his needs and recognition
assured, cared nothing at all for what he regarded as the costly glories
of the little great men who rattled round in places often much too big for
them.

Immediately succeeding Mr. Polk, and such a youth in appearance, he
attracted instant attention. His father, my grandfather, allowed him a
larger income than was good for him--seeing that the per diem then paid
Congressmen was altogether insufficient--and during the earlier days of his
sojourn in the national capital he cut a wide swath; his principal yokemate
in the pleasures and dissipations of those times being Franklin Pierce, at
first a representative and then a senator from New Hampshire. Fortunately
for both of them, they were whisked out of Washington by their families in
1843; my father into the diplomatic service and Mr. Pierce to the seclusion
of his New England home. They kept in close touch, however, the one with
the other, and ten years later, in 1853, were back again upon the scene
of their rather conspicuous frivolity, Pierce as President of the United
States, my father, who had preceded him a year or two, as editor of the
Washington Union, the organ of the Administration.

When I was a boy the national capital was still rife with stories of their
escapades. One that I recall had it that on a certain occasion returning
from an excursion late at night my father missed his footing and fell into
the canal that then divided the city, and that Pierce, after many fruitless
efforts, unable to assist him to dry land, exclaimed, "Well, Harvey, I
can't get you out, but I'll get in with you," suiting the action to the
word. And there they were found and rescued by a party of passers, very
well pleased with themselves.

My father's absence in South America extended over two years. My mother's
health, maybe her aversion to a long overseas journey, kept her at home,
and very soon he tired of life abroad without her and came back. A
committee of citizens went on a steamer down the river to meet him, the
wife and child along, of course, and the story was told that, seated on
the paternal knee curiously observant of every detail, the brat suddenly
exclaimed, "Ah ha, pa! Now you've got on your store clothes. But when ma
gets you up at Beech Grove you'll have to lay off your broadcloth and put
on your jeans, like I do."

Being an only child and often an invalid, I was a pet in the family and
many tales were told of my infantile precocity. On one occasion I had a
fight with a little colored boy of my own age and I need not say got the
worst of it. My grandfather, who came up betimes and separated us, said,
"he has blackened your eye and he shall black your boots," thereafter
making me a deed to the lad. We grew up together in the greatest amity
and in due time I gave him his freedom, and again to drop into the
vernacular--"that was the only nigger I ever owned." I should add that in
the "War of Sections" he fell in battle bravely fighting for the freedom of
his race.

It is truth to say that I cannot recall the time when I was not
passionately opposed to slavery, a crank on the subject of personal
liberty, if I am a crank about anything.



IV


In those days a less attractive place than the city of Washington could
hardly be imagined. It was scattered over an ill-paved and half-filled
oblong extending east and west from the Capitol to the White House, and
north and south from the line of the Maryland hills to the Potomac River.
One does not wonder that the early Britishers, led by Tom Moore, made game
of it, for it was both unpromising and unsightly.

Private carriages were not numerous. Hackney coaches had to be especially
ordered. The only public conveyance was a rickety old omnibus which, making
hourly trips, plied its lazy journey between the Navy Yard and Georgetown.
There was a livery stable--Kimball's--having "stalls," as the sleeping
apartments above came to be called, thus literally serving man and
beast. These stalls often lodged very distinguished people. Kimball, the
proprietor, a New Hampshire Democrat of imposing appearance, was one of the
last Washingtonians to wear knee breeches and a ruffled shirt. He was a
great admirer of my father and his place was a resort of my childhood.

One day in the early April of 1852 I was humped in a chair upon one side
of the open entrance reading a book--Mr. Kimball seated on the other side
reading a newspaper--when there came down the street a tall, greasy-looking
person, who as he approached said: "Kimball, I have another letter here
from Frank."

"Well, what does Frank say?"

Then the letter was produced, read and discussed.

It was all about the coming National Democratic Convention and its
prospective nominee for President of the United States, "Frank" seeming to
be a principal. To me it sounded very queer. But I took it all in, and as
soon as I reached home I put it up to my father:

"How comes it," I asked, "that a big old loafer gets a letter from a
candidate for President and talks it over with the keeper of a livery
stable? What have such people to do with such things?"

My father said: "My son, Mr. Kimball is an estimable man. He has been
an important and popular Democrat in New Hampshire. He is not without
influence here. The Frank they talked about is Gen. Franklin Pierce, of New
Hampshire, an old friend and neighbor of Mr. Kimball. General Pierce served
in Congress with me and some of us are thinking that we may nominate him
for President. The 'big old loafer,' as you call him, was Mr. John C.
Rives, a most distinguished and influential Democrat indeed."

Three months later, when the event came to pass, I could tell all about
Gen. Franklin Pierce. His nomination was no surprise to me, though to the
country at large it was almost a shock. He had been nowhere seriously
considered.

In illustration of this a funny incident recurs to me. At Nashville the
night of the nomination a party of Whigs and Democrats had gathered in
front of the principal hotel waiting for the arrival of the news, among
the rest Sam Bugg and Chunky Towles, two local gamblers, both undoubting
Democrats. At length Chunky Towles, worn out, went off to bed. The result
was finally flashed over the wires. The crowd was nonplused. "Who the hell
is Franklin Pierce?" passed from lip to lip.

Sam Bugg knew his political catechism well. He proceeded at length to tell
all about Franklin Pierce, ending with the opinion that he was the man
wanted and would be elected hands down, and he had a thousand dollars to
bet on it.

Then he slipped away to tell his pal.

"Wake up, Chunky," he cried. "We got a candidate--Gen. Franklin Pierce, of
New Hampshire."

"Who the----"

"Chunky," says Sam. "I am ashamed of your ignorance. Gen. Franklin Pierce
is the son of Gen. Benjamin Pierce, of Revolutionary fame. He has served
in both houses of Congress. He declined a seat in Polk's Cabinet. He won
distinction in the Mexican War. He is the very candidate we've been after."

"In that case," says Chunky, "I'll get up." When he reappeared Petway, the
Whig leader of the gathering, who had been deriding the convention, the
candidate and all things else Democratic, exclaimed:

"Here comes Chunky Towles. He's a good Democrat; and I'll bet ten to one he
never heard of Franklin Pierce in his life before."

Chunky Towles was one of the handsomest men of his time. His strong suit
was his unruffled composure and cool self-control. "Mr. Petway," says
he, "you would lose your money, and I won't take advantage of any man's
ignorance. Besides, I never gamble on a certainty. Gen. Franklin Pierce,
sir, is a son of Gen. Benjamin Pierce of Revolutionary memory. He served in
both houses of Congress, sir--refused a seat in Polk's Cabinet, sir--won
distinction in the Mexican War, sir. He has been from the first my choice,
and I've money to bet on his election."

Franklin Pierce had an only son, named Benny, after his grandfather, the
Revolutionary hero. He was of my own age. I was planning the good time we
were going to have in the White House when tidings came that he had been
killed in a railway accident. It was a grievous blow, from which the
stricken mother never recovered. One of the most vivid memories and
altogether the saddest episode of my childhood is that a few weeks later I
was carried up to the Executive Mansion, which, all formality and marble,
seemed cold enough for a mausoleum, where a lady in black took me in her
arms and convulsively held me there, weeping as if her heart would break.



V


Sometimes a fancy, rather vague, comes to me of seeing the soldiers go
off to the Mexican War and of making flags striped with pokeberry
juice--somehow the name of the fruit was mingled with that of the
President--though a visit quite a year before to The Hermitage, which
adjoined the farm of an uncle, to see General Jackson is still uneffaced.

I remember it vividly. The old hero dandled me in his arms, saying "So this
is Harvey's boy," I looking the while in vain for the "hickory," of which I
had heard so much.

On the personal side history owes General Jackson reparation. His
personality needs indeed complete reconstruction in the popular mind, which
misconceives him a rough frontiersman having few or none of the social
graces. In point of fact he came into the world a gentleman, a leader, a
knight-errant who captivated women and dominated men.

I shared when a young man the common belief about him. But there is ample
proof of the error of this. From middle age, though he ever liked a horse
race, he was a regular if not a devout churchman. He did not swear at all,
"by the Eternal" or any other oath. When he reached New Orleans in 1814 to
take command of the army, Governor Claiborne gave him a dinner; and after
he had gone Mrs. Claiborne, who knew European courts and society better
than any other American woman, said to her husband: "Call that man a
backwoodsman? He is the finest gentleman I ever met!"

There is another witness--Mr. Buchanan, afterward President--who tells how
he took a distinguished English lady to the White House when Old Hickory
was President; how he went up to the general's private apartment, where he
found him in a ragged _robe-de-chambre_, smoking his pipe; how, when
he intimated that the President might before coming down slick himself a
bit, he received the half-laughing rebuke: "Buchanan, I once knew a man in
Virginia who made himself independently rich by minding his own business";
how, when he did come down, he was _en règle_; and finally how, after
a half hour of delightful talk, the English lady as they regained the
street broke forth with enthusiasm, using almost the selfsame words of Mrs.
Claiborne: "He is the finest gentleman I ever met in the whole course of my
life."



VI


The Presidential campaign of 1848--and the concurrent return of the Mexican
soldiers--seems but yesterday. We were in Nashville, where the camp fires
of the two parties burned fiercely day and night, Tennessee a debatable,
even a pivotal state. I was an enthusiastic politician on the Cass and
Butler side, and was correspondingly disappointed when the election went
against us for Taylor and Fillmore, though a little mollified when, on his
way to Washington, General Taylor grasping his old comrade, my grandfather,
by the hand, called him "Billy," and paternally stroked my curls.

Though the next winter we passed in Washington I never saw him in the White
House. He died in July, 1850, and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore. It is
common to speak of Old Rough and Ready as an ignoramus. I don't think this.
He may not have been very courtly, but he was a gentleman.

Later in life I came to know Millard Fillmore well and to esteem him
highly. Once he told me that Daniel Webster had said to him: "Fillmore, I
like Clay--I like Clay very much--but he rides rough, sir; damned rough!"

I was fond of going to the Capitol and of playing amateur page in the
House, of which my father had been a member and where he had many friends,
though I was never officially a page. There was in particular a little old
bald-headed gentleman who was good to me and would put his arm about me and
stroll with me across the rotunda to the Library of Congress and get
me books to read. I was not so young as not to know that he was an
ex-President of the United States, and to realize the meaning of it. He had
been the oldest member of the House when my father was the youngest. He was
John Quincy Adams. By chance I was on the floor of the House when he fell
in his place, and followed the excited and tearful throng when they bore
him into the Speaker's Room, kneeling by the side of the sofa with an
improvised fan and crying as if my heart would break.

One day in the spring of 1851 my father took me to a little hotel on
Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol and into a stuffy room, where a snuffy
old man wearing an ill-fitting wig was busying himself over a pile of
documents. He turned about and was very hearty.

"Aha, you've brought the boy," said he.

And my father said: "My son, you wanted to see General Cass, and here he
is."

My enthusiasm over the Cass and Butler campaign had not subsided.
Inevitably General Cass was to me the greatest of heroes. My father had
been and always remained his close friend. Later along we dwelt together at
Willard's Hotel, my mother a chaperon for Miss Belle Cass, afterward Madame
Von Limbourg, and I came into familiar intercourse with the family.

The general made me something of a pet and never ceased to be a hero to me.
I still think he was one of the foremost statesmen of his time and treasure
a birthday present he made me when I was just entering my teens.

The hour I passed with him that afternoon I shall never forget.

As we were about taking our leave my father said: "Well, my son, you have
seen General Cass; what do you think of him?"

And the general patting me affectionately on the head laughingly said: "He
thinks he has seen a pretty good-looking old fogy--that is what he thinks!"



VII


There flourished in the village life of Washington two old blokes--no
other word can properly describe them--Jack Dade, who signed himself "the
Honorable John W. Dade, of Virginia;" and Beau Hickman, who hailed from
nowhere and acquired the pseudonym through sheer impudence. In one way and
another they lived by their wits, the one all dignity, the other all cheek.
Hickman fell very early in his career of sponge and beggar, but Dade lived
long and died in office--indeed, toward the close an office was actually
created for him.

Dade had been a schoolmate of John Tyler--so intimate they were that at
college they were called "the two Jacks"--and when the death of Harrison
made Tyler President, the "off Jack," as he dubbed himself, went up to the
White House and said: "Jack Tyler, you've had luck and I haven't. You must
do something for me and do it quick. I'm hard up and I want an office."

"You old reprobate," said Tyler, "what office on earth do you think you are
fit to fill?"

"Well," said Dade, "I have heard them talking round here of a place they
call a sine-cu-ree--big pay and no work--and if there is one of them left
and lying about loose I think I could fill it to a T."

"All right," said the President good naturedly, "I'll see what can be done.
Come up to-morrow."

The next day "Col. John W. Dade, of Virginia," was appointed keeper of
the Federal prison of the District of Columbia. He assumed his post with
_empressement_, called the prisoners before him and made them an
address.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said he; "I have been chosen by my friend, the
President of the United States, as superintendent of this eleemosynary
institution. It is my intention to treat you all as a Virginia gentleman
should treat a body of American ladies and gentlemen gathered here from all
parts of our beloved Union, and I shall expect the same consideration
in return. Otherwise I will turn you all out upon the cold mercies of a
heartless world and you will have to work for your living."

There came to Congress from Alabama a roistering blade by the name of
McConnell. He was something of a wit. During his brief sojourn in the
national capital he made a noisy record for himself as an all-round,
all-night man about town, a dare-devil and a spendthrift. His first
encounter with Col. John W. Dade, of Virginia, used to be one of the
standard local jokes. Colonel Dade was seated in the barroom of Brown's
Hotel early one morning, waiting for someone to come in and invite him to
drink.

Presently McConnell arrived. It was his custom when he entered a saloon to
ask the entire roomful, no matter how many, "to come up and licker," and,
of course, he invited the solitary stranger.

When the glasses were filled Dade pompously said: "With whom have I the
honor of drinking?"

"My name," answered McConnell, "is Felix Grundy McConnell, begad! I am a
member of Congress from Alabama. My mother is a justice of the peace, my
aunt keeps a livery stable, and my grandmother commanded a company in the
Revolution and fit the British, gol darn their souls!"

Dade pushed his glass aside.

"Sir," said he, "I am a man of high aspirations and peregrinations and can
have nothing to do with such low-down scopangers as yourself. Good morning,
sir!"

It may be presumed that both spoke in jest, because they became inseparable
companions and the best of friends.

McConnell had a tragic ending. In James K. Polk's diary I find two entries
under the dates, respectively, of September 8 and September 10, 1846. The
first of these reads as follows: "Hon. Felix G. McConnell, a representative
in Congress from Alabama called. He looked very badly and as though he had
just recovered from a fit of intoxication. He was sober, but was pale, his
countenance haggard and his system nervous. He applied to me to borrow one
hundred dollars and said he would return it to me in ten days.

"Though I had no idea that he would do so I had a sympathy for him even in
his dissipation. I had known him in his youth and had not the moral courage
to refuse. I gave him the one hundred dollars in gold and took his note.
His hand was so tremulous that he could scarcely write his name to the note
legibly. I think it probable that he will never pay me. He informed me he
was detained at Washington attending to some business in the Indian Office.
I supposed he had returned home at the adjournment of Congress until he
called to-day. I doubt whether he has any business in Washington, but fear
he has been detained by dissipation."

The second of Mr. Polk's entries is a corollary of the first and reads:
"About dark this evening I learned from Mr. Voorhies, who is acting as my
private secretary during the absence of J. Knox Walker, that Hon. Felix
G. McConnell, a representative in Congress from the state of Alabama,
had committed suicide this afternoon at the St. Charles Hotel, where he
boarded. On Tuesday last Mr. McConnell called on me and I loaned him one
hundred dollars. [See this diary of that day.] I learn that but a short
time before the horrid deed was committed he was in the barroom of the St.
Charles Hotel handling gold pieces and stating that he had received them
from me, and that he loaned thirty-five dollars of them to the barkeeper,
that shortly afterward he had attempted to write something, but what I have
not learned, but he had not written much when he said he would go to his
room.

"In the course of the morning I learn he went into the city and paid a
hackman a small amount which he owed him. He had locked his room door,
and when found he was stretched out on his back with his hands extended,
weltering in his blood. He had three wounds in the abdomen and his throat
was cut. A hawkbill knife was found near him. A jury of inquest was held
and found a verdict that he had destroyed himself. It was a melancholy
instance of the effects of intemperance. Mr. McConnell when a youth resided
at Fayetteville in my congressional district. Shortly after he grew up to
manhood he was at my instance appointed postmaster of that town. He was a
true Democrat and a sincere friend of mine.

"His family in Tennessee are highly respectable and quite numerous. The
information as to the manner and particulars of his death I learned from
Mr. Voorhies, who reported it to me as he had heard it in the streets. Mr.
McConnell removed from Tennessee to Alabama some years ago, and I learn he
has left a wife and three or four children."

Poor Felix Grundy McConnell! At a school in Tennessee he was a roommate of
my father, who related that one night Felix awakened with a scream from a
bad dream he had, the dream being that he had cut his own throat.

"Old Jack Dade," as he was always called, lived on, from hand to mouth, I
dare say--for he lost his job as keeper of the district prison--yet never
wholly out-at-heel, scrupulously neat in his person no matter how seedy the
attire. On the completion of the new wings of the Capitol and the removal
of the House to its more commodious quarters he was made custodian of the
old Hall of Representatives, a post he held until he died.



VIII


Between the idiot and the man of sense, the lunatic and the man of genius,
there are degrees--streaks--of idiocy and lunacy. How many expectant
politicians elected to Congress have entered Washington all hope, eager to
dare and do, to come away broken in health, fame and fortune, happy to get
back home--sometimes unable to get away, to linger on in obscurity and
poverty to a squalid and wretched old age.

I have lived long enough to have known many such: Senators who have filled
the galleries when they rose to speak; House heroes living while they could
on borrowed money, then hanging about the hotels begging for money to buy
drink.

There was a famous statesman and orator who came to this at last, of whom
the typical and characteristic story was told that the holder of a claim
against the Government, who dared not approach so great a man with so much
as the intimation of a bribe, undertook by argument to interest him in the
merit of the case.

The great man listened and replied: "I have noticed you scattering your
means round here pretty freely but you haven't said 'turkey' to me."

Surprised but glad and unabashed the claimant said "I was coming to that,"
produced a thousand-dollar bank roll and entered into an understanding as
to what was to be done next day, when the bill was due on the calendar.

The great man took the money, repaired to a gambling house, had an
extraordinary run of luck, won heavily, and playing all night, forgetting
about his engagement, went to bed at daylight, not appearing in the House
at all. The bill was called, and there being nobody to represent it, under
the rule it went over and to the bottom of the calendar, killed for that
session at least.

The day after the claimant met his recreant attorney on the avenue face to
face and took him to task for his delinquency.

"Ah, yes," said the great man, "you are the little rascal who tried to
bribe me the other day. Here is your dirty money. Take it and be off with
you. I was just seeing how far you would go."

The comment made by those who best knew the great man was that if instead
of winning in the gambling house he had lost he would have been up betimes
at his place in the House, and doing his utmost to pass the claimant's bill
and obtain a second fee.

Another memory of those days has to do with music. This was the coming of
Jenny Lind to America. It seemed an event. When she reached Washington Mr.
Barnum asked at the office of my father's newspaper for a smart lad to sell
the programs of the concert--a new thing in artistic showmanry. "I don't
want a paper carrier, or a newsboy," said he, "but a young gentleman, three
or four young gentlemen." I was sent to him. We readily agreed upon the
commission to be received--five cents on each twenty-five cent program--the
oldest of old men do not forget such transactions. But, as an extra
percentage for "organizing the force," I demanded a concert seat. Choice
seats were going at a fabulous figure and Barnum at first demurred. But
I told him I was a musical student, stood my ground, and, perhaps seeing
something unusual in the eager spirit of a little boy, he gave in and the
bargain was struck.

Two of my pals became my assistants. But my sales beat both of them hollow.
Before the concert began I had sold my programs and was in my seat. I
recall that my money profit was something over five dollars.

The bell-like tones of the Jenny Lind voice in "Home, Sweet Home," and "The
Last Rose of Summer" still come back to me, but too long after for me to
make, or imagine, comparisons between it and the vocalism of Grisi, Sontag
and Parepa-Rosa.

Meeting Mr. Barnum at Madison Square Garden in New York, when he was
running one of his entertainments there, I told him the story, and we had a
hearty laugh, both of us very much pleased, he very much surprised to find
in me a former employee.

One of my earliest yearnings was for a home. I cannot recall the time when
I was not sick and tired of our migrations between Washington City and the
two grand-paternal homesteads in Tennessee. The travel counted for much of
my aversion to the nomadic life we led. The stage-coach is happier in the
contemplation than in the actuality. Even when the railways arrived there
were no sleeping cars, the time of transit three or four days and nights.
In the earlier journeys it had been ten or twelve days.



Chapter the Second

    Slavery the Trouble-Maker--Break-Up of the Whig Party and Rise of the
    Republican--The Key--Sickle's Tragedy--Brooks and Sumner--Life at
    Washington in the Fifties



I


Whether the War of Sections--as it should be called, because, except in
Eastern Tennessee and in three of the Border States, Maryland, Kentucky
and Missouri, it was nowise a civil war--could have been averted must ever
remain a question of useless speculation. In recognizing the institution of
African slavery, with no provision for its ultimate removal, the Federal
Union set out embodying the seeds of certain trouble. The wiser heads of
the Constitutional Convention perceived this plainly enough; its dissonance
to the logic of their movement; on the sentimental side its repugnancy; on
the practical side its doubtful economy; and but for the tobacco growers
and the cotton planters it had gone by the board. The North soon found
slave labor unprofitable and rid itself of slavery. Thus, restricted to the
South, it came to represent in the Southern mind a "right" which the South
was bound to defend.

Mr. Slidell told me in Paris that Louis Napoleon had once said to him in
answer to his urgency for the recognition of the Southern Confederacy: "I
have talked the matter over with Lord Palmerston and we are both of the
opinion that as long as African slavery exists at the South, France and
England cannot recognize the Confederacy. They do not demand its instant
abolition. But if you put it in course of abatement and final abolishment
through a term of years--I do not care how many--we can intervene to some
purpose. As matters stand we dare not go before a European congress with
such a proposition."

Mr. Slidell passed it up to Richmond. Mr. Davis passed it on to the
generals in the field. The response he received on every hand was the
statement that it would disorganize and disband the Confederate Armies.
Yet we are told, and it is doubtless true, that scarcely one Confederate
soldier in ten actually owned a slave.

Thus do imaginings become theories, and theories resolve themselves
into claims; and interests, however mistaken, rise to the dignity of
prerogatives.



II


The fathers had rather a hazy view of the future. I was witness to the
decline and fall of the old Whig Party and the rise of the Republican
Party. There was a brief lull in sectional excitement after the Compromise
Measures of 1850, but the overwhelming defeat of the Whigs in 1852 and the
dominancy of Mr. Jefferson Davis in the cabinet of Mr. Pierce brought the
agitation back again. Mr. Davis was a follower of Mr. Calhoun--though it
may be doubted whether Mr. Calhoun would ever have been willing to go to
the length of secession--and Mr. Pierce being by temperament a Southerner
as well as in opinions a pro-slavery Democrat, his Administration
fell under the spell of the ultra Southern wing of the party. The
Kansas-Nebraska Bill was originaly harmless enough, but the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise, which on Mr. Davis' insistence was made a part of it,
let slip the dogs of war.

In Stephen A. Douglas was found an able and pliant instrument. Like Clay,
Webster and Calhoun before him, Judge Douglas had the presidential bee in
his bonnet. He thought the South would, as it could, nominate and elect him
President.

Personally he was a most lovable man--rather too convivial--and for a
while in 1852 it looked as though he might be the Democratic nominee. His
candidacy was premature, his backers overconfident and indiscreet.

"I like Douglas and am for him," said Buck Stone, a member of Congress and
delegate to the National Democratic Convention from Kentucky, "though
I consider him a good deal of a damn fool." Pressed for a reason he
continued; "Why, think of a man wanting to be President at forty years of
age, and obliged to behave himself for the rest of his life! I wouldn't
take the job on any such terms."

The proposed repeal of the Missouri Compromise opened up the slavery debate
anew and gave it increased vitality. Hell literally broke loose among the
political elements. The issues which had divided Whigs and Democrats went
to the rear, while this one paramount issue took possession of the stage.
It was welcomed by the extremists of both sections, a very godsend to the
beaten politicians led by Mr. Seward. Rampant sectionalism was at first
kept a little in the background. There were on either side concealments and
reserves. Many patriotic men put the Union above slavery or antislavery.
But the two sets of rival extremists had their will at last, and in seven
short years deepened and embittered the contention to the degree that
disunion and war seemed, certainly proved, the only way out of it.

The extravagance of the debates of those years amazes the modern reader.
Occasionally when I have occasion to recur to them I am myself nonplussed,
for they did not sound so terrible at the time. My father was a leader
of the Union wing of the Democratic Party--headed in 1860 the Douglas
presidential ticket in Tennessee--and remained a Unionist during the War of
Sections. He broke away from Pierce and retired from the editorship of the
Washington Union upon the issue of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
to which he was opposed, refusing the appointment of Governor of Oregon,
with which the President sought to placate him, though it meant his return
to the Senate of the United States in a year or two, when he and Oregon's
delegate in Congress, Gen. Joseph Lane--the Lane of the Breckenridge and
Lane ticket of 1860--had brought the territory of Oregon in as a state.

I have often thought just where I would have come in and what might have
happened to me if he had accepted the appointment and I had grown
to manhood on the Pacific Coast. As it was I attended a school in
Philadelphia--the Protestant Episcopal Academy--came home to Tennessee
in 1856, and after a season with private tutors found myself back in the
national capital in 1858.

It was then that I began to nurse some ambitions of my own. I was going to
be a great man of letters. I was going to write histories and dramas and
romances and poetry. But as I had set up for myself I felt in honor bound
meanwhile to earn my own living.



III


I take it that the early steps of every man to get a footing may be of
interest when fairly told. I sought work in New York with indifferent
success. Mr. Raymond of the Times, hearing me play the piano at which from
childhood I had received careful instruction, gave me a job as "musical
critic" during the absence of Mr. Seymour, the regular critic. I must have
done my work acceptably, since I was not fired. It included a report of the
debut of my boy-and-girl companion, Adelina Patti, when she made her first
appearance in opera at the Academy of Music. But, as the saying is, I did
not "catch on." There might be a more promising opening in Washington, and
thither I repaired.

The Daily States had been established there by John P. Heiss, who with
Thomas Ritchie had years before established the Washington Union. Roger A.
Pryor was its nominal editor. But he soon took himself home to his beloved
Virginia and came to Congress, and the editorial writing on the States was
being done by Col. A. Dudley Mann, later along Confederate commissioner to
France, preceding Mr. Slidell.

Colonel Mann wished to work incognito. I was taken on as a kind of
go-between and, as I may say, figurehead, on the strength of being my
father's son and a very self-confident young gentleman, and began to get my
newspaper education in point of fact as a kind of fetch-and-carry for
Major Heiss. He was a practical newspaper man who had started the Union at
Nashville as well as the Union at Washington and the Crescent--maybe it was
the Delta--at New Orleans; and for the rudiments of newspaper work I could
scarcely have had a better teacher.

Back of Colonel Mann as a leader writer on the States was a remarkable
woman. She was Mrs. Jane Casneau, the wife of Gen. George Casneau, of
Texas, who had a claim before Congress. Though she was unknown to fame,
Thomas A. Benton used to say that she had more to do with making and ending
the Mexican War than anybody else.

Somewhere in the early thirties she had gone with her newly wedded husband,
an adventurous Yankee by the name of Storm, to the Rio Grande and started
a settlement they called Eagle Pass. Storm died, the Texas outbreak began,
and the young widow was driven back to San Antonio, where she met and
married Casneau, one of Houston's lieutenants, like herself a New Yorker.
She was sent by Polk with Pillow and Trist to the City of Mexico and
actually wrote the final treaty. It was she who dubbed William Walker
"the little gray-eyed man of destiny," and put the nickname "Old Fuss and
Feathers" on General Scott, whom she heartily disliked.

[Illustration: Henry Clay--Painted at Ashland by Dodge for the Hon. Andrew
Ewing of Tennessee--The Original Hangs in Mr. Watterson's Library at
"Mansfield"]

A braver, more intellectual woman never lived. She must have been a beauty
in her youth; was still very comely at fifty; but a born insurrecto and
a terror with her pen. God made and equipped her for a filibuster. She
possessed infinite knowledge of Spanish-American affairs, looked like a
Spanish woman, and wrote and spoke the Spanish language fluently. Her
obsession was the bringing of Central America into the Federal Union. But
she was not without literary aspirations and had some literary friends.
Among these was Mrs. Southworth, the novelist, who had a lovely home in
Georgetown, and, whatever may be said of her works and articles, was a
lovely woman. She used to take me to visit this lady. With Major Heiss she
divided my newspaper education, her part of it being the writing part.
Whatever I may have attained in that line I largely owe to her. She took
great pains with me and mothered me in the absence of my own mother, who
had long been her very dear friend. To get rid of her, or rather her pen,
Mr. Buchanan gave General Casneau, when the Douglas schism was breaking
out, a Central American mission, and she and he were lost by shipwreck on
their way to this post, somewhere in Caribbean waters.

My immediate yokemate on the States was John Savage, "Jack," as he was
commonly called; a brilliant Irishman, who with Devin Reilley and John
Mitchel and Thomas Francis Meagher, his intimates, and Joseph Brennan, his
brother-in-law, made a pretty good Irishman of me. They were '48 men, with
literary gifts of one sort and another, who certainly helped me along with
my writing, but, as matters fell out, did not go far enough to influence my
character, for they were a wild lot, full of taking enthusiasm and juvenile
decrepitude of judgment, ripe for adventures and ready for any enterprise
that promised fun and fighting.

Between John Savage and Mrs. Casneau I had the constant spur of
commendation and assistance as well as affection. I passed all my spare
time in the Library of Congress and knew its arrangements at least as well
as Mr. Meehan, the librarian, and Robert Kearon, the assistant, much to the
surprise of Mr. Spofford, who in 1861 succeeded Mr. Meehan as librarian.

Not long after my return to Washington Col. John W. Forney picked me up,
and I was employed in addition to my not very arduous duties on the States
to write occasional letters from Washington to the Philadelphia Press.
Good fortune like ill fortune rarely comes singly. Without anybody's
interposition I was appointed to a clerkship, a real "sinecure," in the
Interior Department by Jacob Thompson, the secretary, my father's old
colleague in Congress. When the troubles of 1860-61 rose I was literally
doing "a land-office business," with money galore and to spare. Somehow, I
don't know how, I contrived to spend it, though I had no vices, and worked
like a hired man upon my literary hopes and newspaper obligations.

Life in Washington under these conditions was delightful. I did not know
how my heart was wrapped up in it until I had to part from it. My father
stood high in public esteem. My mother was a leader in society. All doors
were open to me. I had many friends. Going back to Tennessee in the
midsummer of 1861, via Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, there happened a railway
break and a halt of several hours at a village on the Ohio. I strolled
down to the river and sat myself upon the brink, almost despairing--nigh
heartbroken--when I began to feel an irresistible fascination about the
swift-flowing stream. I leaped to my feet and ran away; and that is the
only thought of suicide that I can recall.



IV


Mrs. Clay, of Alabama, in her "Belle of the Fifties" has given a graphic
picture of life in the national capital during the administrations of
Pierce and Buchanan. The South was very much in the saddle. Pierce, as I
have said, was Southern in temperament, and Buchanan, who to those he did
not like or approve had, as Arnold Harris said, "a winning way of making
himself hateful," was an aristocrat under Southern and feminine influence.

I was fond of Mr. Pierce, but I could never endure Mr. Buchanan. His very
voice gave offense to me. Directed by a periodical publication to make a
sketch of him to accompany an engraving, I did my best on it.

Jacob Thompson, the Secretary of the Interior, said to me: "Now, Henry,
here's your chance for a foreign appointment."

I now know that my writing was clumsy enough and my attempt to play the
courtier clumsier still. Nevertheless, as a friend of my father and mother
"Old Buck" might have been a little more considerate than he was with a
lad trying to please and do him honor. I came away from the White House my
_amour propre_ wounded, and though I had not far to go went straight
into the Douglas camp.

Taking nearly sixty years to think it over I have reached the conclusion
that Mr. Buchanan was the victim of both personal and historic injustice.
With secession in sight his one aim was to get out of the White House
before the scrap began. He was of course on terms of intimacy with all the
secession leaders, especially Mr. Slidell, of Louisiana, like himself
a Northerner by birth, and Mr. Mason, a thick-skulled, ruffle-shirted
Virginian. It was not in him or in Mr. Pierce, with their antecedents and
associations, to be uncompromising Federalists. There was no clear law to
go on. Moderate men were in a muck of doubt just what to do. With Horace
Greeley Mr. Buchanan was ready to say "Let the erring sisters go." This
indeed was the extent of Mr. Pierce's pacifism during the War of Sections.

A new party risen upon the remains of the Whig Party--the Republican
Party--was at the door and coming into power. Lifelong pro-slavery
Democrats could not look on with equanimity, still less with complaisance,
and doubtless Pierce and Buchanan to the end of their days thought less
of the Republicans than of the Confederates. As a consequence Republican
writers have given quarter to neither of them.

It will not do to go too deeply into the account of those days. The times
were out of joint. I knew of two Confederate generals who first tried for
commissions in the Union Army; gallant and good fellows too; but they are
both dead and their secret shall die with me. I knew likewise a famous
Union general who was about to resign his commission in the army to go with
the South but was prevented by his wife, a Northern woman, who had obtained
of Mr. Lincoln a brigadier's commission.



V


In 1858 a wonderful affair came to pass. It was Mrs. Senator Gwin's fancy
dress ball, written of, talked of, far and wide. I did not get to attend
this. My costume was prepared--a Spanish cavalier, Mrs. Casneau's
doing--when I fell ill and had with bitter disappointment to read about
it next day in the papers. I was living at Willard's Hotel, and one of my
volunteer nurses was Mrs. Daniel E. Sickles, a pretty young thing who was
soon to become the victim of a murder and world scandal. Her husband was a
member of the House from New York, and during his frequent absences I used
to take her to dinner. Mr. Sickles had been Mr. Buchanan's Secretary of
Legation in London, and both she and he were at home in the White House.

She was an innocent child. She never knew what she was doing, and when a
year later Sickles, having killed her seducer--a handsome, unscrupulous
fellow who understood how to take advantage of a husband's neglect--forgave
her and brought her home in the face of much obloquy, in my heart of hearts
I did homage to his courage and generosity, for she was then as he and I
both knew a dying woman. She did die but a few months later. He was by no
means a politician after my fancy or approval, but to the end of his days I
was his friend and could never bring myself to join in the repeated public
outcries against him.

Early in the fifties Willard's Hotel became a kind of headquarters for the
two political extremes. During a long time their social intercourse
was unrestrained--often joyous. They were too far apart, figuratively
speaking, to come to blows. Truth to say, their aims were after all not
so far apart. They played to one another's lead. Many a time have I seen
Keitt, of South Carolina, and Burlingame, of Massachusetts, hobnob in the
liveliest manner and most public places.

It is certainly true that Brooks was not himself when he attacked Sumner.
The Northern radicals were wont to say, "Let the South go," the more
profane among them interjecting "to hell!" The Secessionists liked to prod
the New Englanders with what the South was going to do when they got to
Boston. None of them really meant it--not even Toombs when he talked about
calling the muster roll of his slaves beneath Bunker Hill Monument; nor
Hammond, the son of a New England schoolmaster, when he spoke of the
"mudsills of the North," meaning to illustrate what he was saying by the
underpinning of a house built on marshy ground, and not the Northern work
people.

Toombs, who was a rich man, not quite impoverished by the war, banished
himself in Europe for a number of years. At length he came home, and
passing the White House at Washington he called and sent his card to the
President. General Grant, the most genial and generous of men, had him come
directly up.

[Illustration: W. P. Hardee, Lieutenant General C.S.A.]

"Mr. President," said Toombs, "in my European migrations I have made it a
rule when arriving in a city to call first and pay my respects to the Chief
of Police."

The result was a most agreeable hour and an invitation to dinner. Not
long after this at the hospitable board of a Confederate general, then an
American senator, Toombs began to prod Lamar about his speech in the House
upon the occasion of the death of Charles Sumner. Lamar was not quick to
quarrel, though when aroused a man of devilish temper and courage. The
subject had become distasteful to him. He was growing obviously restive
under Toombs' banter. The ladies of the household apprehending what was
coming left the table.

Then Lamar broke forth. He put Toombs' visit to Grant, "crawling at the
seat of power," against his eulogy of a dead enemy. I have never heard
such a scoring from one man to another. It was magisterial in its dignity,
deadly in its diction. Nothing short of a duel could have settled it in the
olden time. But when Lamar, white with rage, had finished, Toombs without a
ruffle said, "Lamar, you surprise me," and the host, with the rest of
us, took it as a signal to rise from table and rejoin the ladies in the
drawing-room. Of course nothing came of it.

Toombs was as much a humorist as an extremist. I have ridden with him under
fire and heard him crack jokes with Minié balls flying uncomfortably about.
Some one spoke kindly of him to old Ben Wade. "Yes, yes," said Wade; "I
never did believe in the doctrine of total depravity."

But I am running ahead in advance of events.



VI


There came in 1853 to the Thirty-third Congress a youngish, dapper and
graceful man notable as the only Democrat in the Massachusetts delegation.
It was said that he had been a dancing master, his wife a work girl. They
brought with them a baby in arms with the wife's sister for its nurse--a
mis-step which was quickly corrected. I cannot now tell just how I came to
be very intimate with them except that they lived at Willard's Hotel. His
name had a pretty sound to it--Nathaniel Prentiss Banks.

A schoolmate of mine and myself, greatly to the mirth of those about us,
undertook Mr. Banks' career. We were going to elect him Speaker of the
next House and then President of the United States. This was particularly
laughable to my mother and Mrs. Linn Boyd, the wife of the contemporary
Speaker, who had very solid presidential aspirations of his own.

The suggestion perhaps originated with Mrs. Banks, to whom we two were
ardently devoted. I have not seen her since those days, more than sixty
years ago. But her beauty, which then charmed me, still lingers in my
memory--a gentle, sweet creature who made much of us boys--and two years
later when Mr. Banks was actually elected Speaker I was greatly elated and
took some of the credit to myself. Twenty years afterwards General Banks
and I had our seats close together in the Forty-fourth Congress, and he did
not recall me at all or the episode of 1853. Nevertheless I warmed to him,
and when during Cleveland's first term he came to me with a hard-luck story
I was glad to throw myself into the breach. He had been a Speaker of the
House, a general in the field and a Governor of Massachusetts, but was a
faded old man, very commonplace, and except for the little post he held
under Government pitiably helpless.

Colonel George Walton was one of my father's intimates and an imposing
and familiar figure about Washington. He was the son of a signer of the
Declaration of Independence, a distinction in those days, had been mayor of
Mobile and was an unending raconteur. To my childish mind he appeared to
know everything that ever had been or ever would be. He would tell me
stories by the hour and send me to buy him lottery tickets. I afterward
learned that that form of gambling was his mania. I also learned that many
of his stories were apocryphal or very highly colored.

One of these stories especially took me. It related how when he was on a
yachting cruise in the Gulf of Mexico the boat was overhauled by pirates,
and how he being the likeliest of the company was tied up and whipped to
make him disgorge, or tell where the treasure was.

"Colonel Walton," said I, "did the whipping hurt you much?"

"Sir," he replied, as if I were a grown-up, "they whipped me until I was
perfectly disgusted."

An old lady in Philadelphia, whilst I was at school, heard me mention
Colonel Walton--a most distinguished, religious old lady--and said to me,
"Henry, my son, you should be ashamed to speak of that old villain
or confess that you ever knew him," proceeding to give me his awful,
blood-curdling history.

It was mainly a figment of her fancy and prejudice, and I repeated it
to Colonel Walton the next time I went to the hotel where he was then
living--I have since learned, with a lady not his wife, though he was then
three score and ten--and he cried, "That old hag! Good Lord! Don't they
ever die!"

Seeing every day the most distinguished public men of the country, and with
many of them brought into direct acquaintance by the easy intercourse of
hotel life, destroyed any reverence I might have acquired for official
station. Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but it is a veritable
eye opener. To me no divinity hedged the brow of a senator. I knew the
White House too well to be impressed by its architectural grandeur without
and rather bizarre furnishments within.



VII


I have declaimed not a little in my time about the ignoble trade of
politics, the collective dishonesty of parties and the vulgarities of
the self-exploiting professional office hunters. Parties are parties.
Professional politics and politicians are probably neither worse nor
better--barring their pretensions--than other lines of human endeavor. The
play actor must be agreeable on the stage of the playhouse; the politician
on the highways and the hustings, which constitute his playhouse--all the
world a stage--neither to be seriously blamed for the dissimulation which,
being an asset, becomes, as it were, a second nature.

The men who between 1850 and 1861 might have saved the Union and averted
the War of Sections were on either side professional politicians, with here
and there an unselfish, far-seeing, patriotic man, whose admonitions were
not heeded by the people ranging on opposing sides of party lines. The two
most potential of the party leaders were Mr. Davis and Mr. Seward. The
South might have seen and known that the one hope of the institution of
slavery lay in the Union. However it ended, disunion led to abolition. The
world--the whole trend of modern thought--was set against slavery. But
politics, based on party feeling, is a game of blindman's buff. And
then--here I show myself a son of Scotland--there is a destiny. "What is to
be," says the predestinarian Mother Goose, "will be, though it never come
to pass."

That was surely the logic of the irrepressible conflict--only it did come
to pass--and for four years millions of people, the most homogeneous,
practical and intelligent, fought to a finish a fight over a quiddity; both
devoted to liberty, order and law, neither seeking any real change in the
character of its organic contract.

Human nature remains ever the same. These days are very like those days. We
have had fifty years of a restored Union. The sectional fires have quite
gone out. Yet behold the schemes of revolution claiming the regenerative.
Most of them call themselves the "uplift!"

Let us agree at once that all government is more or less a failure; society
as fraudulent as the satirists describe it; yet, when we turn to the
uplift--particularly the professional uplift--what do we find but the same
old tunes, hypocrisy and empiricism posing as "friends of the people,"
preaching the pussy gospel of "sweetness and light?"

"Words, words, words," says Hamlet. Even as veteran writers for the press
have come through disheartening experience to a realizing sense of the
futility of printer's ink must our academic pundits begin to suspect the
futility of art and letters. Words however cleverly writ on paper are after
all but words. "In a nation of blind men," we are told, "the one-eyed man
is king." In a nation of undiscriminating voters the noise of the agitator
is apt to drown the voice of the statesman. We have been teaching everybody
to read, nobody to think; and as a consequence--the rule of numbers the
law of the land, partyism in the saddle--legislation, state and Federal,
becomes largely a matter of riding to hounds and horns. All this, which was
true in the fifties, is true to-day.

Under the pretense of "liberalizing" the Government the politicians are
sacrificing its organic character to whimsical experimentation; its checks
and balances wisely designed to promote and protect liberty are being
loosened by schemes of reform more or less visionary; while nowhere do we
find intelligence enlightened by experience, and conviction supported by
self-control, interposing to save the representative system of the
Constitution from the onward march of the proletariat.

One cynic tells us that "A statesman is a politician who is dead," and
another cynic varies the epigram to read "A politician out of a job."
Patriotism cries "God give us men," but the parties say "Give us votes
and offices," and Congress proceeds to create a commission. Thus
responsibilities are shirked and places are multiplied.

Assuming, since many do, that the life of nations is mortal even as is the
life of man--in all things of growth and decline assimilating--has not our
world reached the top of the acclivity, and pausing for a moment may it not
be about to take the downward course into another abyss of collapse and
oblivion?

The miracles of electricity the last word of science, what is left for
man to do? With wireless telegraphy, the airplane and the automobile
annihilating time and space, what else? Turning from the material to the
ethical it seems of the very nature of the human species to meddle and
muddle. On every hand we see the organization of societies for making men
and women over again according to certain fantastic images existing in
the minds of the promoters. "_Mon Dieu_!" exclaimed the visiting
Frenchman. "Fifty religions and only one soup!" Since then both the soups
and the religions have multiplied until there is scarce a culinary or moral
conception which has not some sect or club to represent it. The uplift is
the keynote of these.



Chapter the Third

    The Inauguration of Lincoln--I Quit Washington and Return to
    Tennessee--A Run-a-bout with Forest--Through the Federal Lines and a
    Dangerous Adventure--Good Luck at Memphis



I


It may have been Louis the Fifteenth, or it may have been Madame de
Pompadour, who said, "After me the deluge;" but whichever it was, very much
that thought was in Mr. Buchanan's mind in 1861 as the time for his exit
from the White House approached. At the North there had been a political
ground-swell; at the South, secession, half accomplished by the Gulf
States, yawned in the Border States. Curiously enough, very few believed
that war was imminent.

As a reporter for the States I met Mr. Lincoln immediately on his arrival
in Washington. He came in unexpectedly ahead of the hour announced, to
escape, as was given out, a well-laid plan to assassinate him as he passed
through Baltimore. I did not believe at the time, and I do not believe now,
that there was any real ground for this apprehension.

All through that winter there had been a deal of wild talk. One story had
it that Mr. Buchanan was to be kidnapped and made off with so that Vice
President Breckenridge might succeed and, acting as _de facto_
President, throw the country into confusion and revolution, defeating the
inauguration of Lincoln and the coming in of the Republicans. It was a
figment of drink and fancy. There was never any such scheme. If there had
been Breckenridge would not have consented to be party to it. He was a man
of unusual mental as well as personal dignity and both temperamentally and
intellectually a thorough conservative.

I had been engaged by Mr. L.A. Gobright, the agent of what became later the
Associated Press, to help with the report of the inauguration ceremonies
the 4th of March, 1861, and in the discharge of this duty I kept as close
to Mr. Lincoln as I could get, following after him from the senate chamber
to the east portico of the capitol and standing by his side whilst he
delivered his inaugural address.

Perhaps I shall not be deemed prolix if I dwell with some particularity
upon an occasion so historic. I had first encountered the newly elected
President the afternoon of the day in the early morning of which he had
arrived in Washington. It was a Saturday, I think. He came to the capitol
under the escort of Mr. Seward, and among the rest I was presented to him.
His appearance did not impress me as fantastically as it had impressed some
others. I was familiar with the Western type, and whilst Mr. Lincoln was
not an Adonis, even after prairie ideals, there was about him a dignity
that commanded respect.

I met him again the next Monday forenoon in his apartment at Willard's
Hotel as he was preparing to start to his inauguration, and was struck by
his unaffected kindness, for I came with a matter requiring his attention.
This was, in point of fact, to get from him a copy of the inauguration
speech for the Associated Press. I turned it over to Ben Perley Poore, who,
like myself, was assisting Mr. Gobright. The President that was about to
be seemed entirely self-possessed; not a sign of nervousness, and very
obliging. As I have said, I accompanied the cortège that passed from the
senate chamber to the east portico. When Mr. Lincoln removed his hat to
face the vast throng in front and below, I extended my hand to take it,
but Judge Douglas, just behind me, reached over my outstretched arm and
received it, holding it during the delivery of the address. I stood just
near enough the speaker's elbow not to obstruct any gestures he might make,
though he made but few; and then I began to get a suspicion of the power of
the man.

He delivered that inaugural address as if he had been delivering inaugural
addresses all his life. Firm, resonant, earnest, it announced the coming of
a man, of a leader of men; and in its tone and style the gentlemen whom he
had invited to become members of his political family--each of whom thought
himself a bigger man than his chief--might have heard the voice and seen
the hand of one born to rule. Whether they did or not, they very soon
ascertained the fact. From the hour Abraham Lincoln crossed the threshold
of the White House to the hour he went thence to his death, there was not
a moment when he did not dominate the political and military situation and
his official subordinates. The idea that he was overtopped at any time by
anybody is contradicted by all that actually happened.

I was a young Democrat and of course not in sympathy with Mr. Lincoln or
his opinions. Judge Douglas, however, had taken the edge off my hostility.
He had said to me upon his return in triumph to Washington after the famous
Illinois campaign of 1868: "Lincoln is a good man; in fact, a great man,
and by far the ablest debater I have ever met," and now the newcomer began
to verify this opinion both in his private conversation and in his public
attitude.



II


I had been an undoubting Union boy. Neither then nor afterward could I be
fairly classified as a Secessionist. Circumstance rather than conviction or
predilection threw me into the Confederate service, and, being in, I went
through with it.

The secession leaders I held in distrust; especially Yancey, Mason,
Slidell, Benjamin and Iverson, Jefferson Davis and Isham G. Harris were not
favorites of mine. Later along I came into familiar association with
most of them, and relations were established which may be described as
confidential and affectionate. Lamar and I were brought together oddly
enough in 1869 by Carl Schurz, and thenceforward we were the most devoted
friends. Harris and I fell together in 1862 in the field, first with
Forrest and later with Johnston and Hood, and we remained as brothers to
the end, when he closed a great career in the upper house of Congress, and
by Republican votes, though he was a Democrat, as president of the Senate.

He continued in the Governorship of Tennessee through the war. He at no
time lost touch with the Tennessee troops, and though not always in the
field, never missed a forward movement. In the early spring of 1864, just
before the famous Johnston-Sherman campaign opened, General Johnston asked
him to go around among the boys and "stir 'em up a bit." The Governor
invited me to ride with him. Together we visited every sector in the army.
Threading the woods of North Georgia on this round, if I heard it once I
heard it fifty times shouted from a distant clearing: "Here comes Gov-ner
Harris, fellows; g'wine to be a fight." His appearance at the front had
always preceded and been long ago taken as a signal for battle.

[Illustration: John Bell of Tennessee--In 1860 Presidential Candidate
"Union Party"--"Bell and Everett" Ticket.]

My being a Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Press and having
lived since childhood at Willard's Hotel, where the Camerons also lived,
will furnish the key to my becoming an actual and active rebel. A few days
after the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, Colonel Forney came to my quarters
and, having passed the time of day, said: "The Secretary of War wishes you
to be at the department to-morrow morning as near nine o'clock as you can
make it."

"What does he want, Colonel Forney?" I asked.

"He is going to offer you the position of private secretary to the
Secretary of War, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and I am very
desirous that you accept it."

He went away leaving me rather upset. I did not sleep very soundly that
night. "So," I argued to myself, "it has come to this, that Forney and
Cameron, lifelong enemies, have made friends and are going to rob the
Government--one clerk of the House, the other Secretary of War--and I, a
mutual choice, am to be the confidential middle man." I still had a home in
Tennessee and I rose from my bed, resolved to go there.

I did not keep the proposed appointment for next day. As soon as I could
make arrangements I quitted Washington and went to Tennessee, still
unchanged in my preconceptions. I may add, since they were verified by
events, that I have not modified them from that day to this.

I could not wholly believe with either extreme. I had perpetrated no wrong,
but in my small way had done my best for the Union and against secession. I
would go back to my books and my literary ambitions and let the storm blow
over. It could not last very long; the odds against the South were too
great. Vain hope! As well expect a chip on the surface of the ocean to lie
quiet as a lad of twenty-one in those days to keep out of one or the other
camp. On reaching home I found myself alone. The boys were all gone to the
front. The girls were--well, they were all crazy. My native country was
about to be invaded. Propinquity. Sympathy. So, casting opinions to the
winds in I went on feeling. And that is how I became a rebel, a case of
"first endure and then embrace," because I soon got to be a pretty good
rebel and went the limit, changing my coat as it were, though not my better
judgment, for with a gray jacket on my back and ready to do or die, I
retained my belief that secession was treason, that disunion was the height
of folly and that the South was bound to go down in the unequal strife.

I think now, as an academic proposition, that, in the doctrine of
secession, the secession leaders had a debatable, if not a logical case;
but I also think that if the Gulf States had been allowed to go out by
tacit consent they would very soon have been back again seeking readmission
to the Union.

Man proposes and God disposes. The ways of Deity to man are indeed past
finding out. Why, the long and dreadful struggle of a kindred people, the
awful bloodshed and havoc of four weary years, leaving us at the close
measurably where we were at the beginning, is one of the mysteries which
should prove to us that there is a world hereafter, since no great creative
principle could produce one with so dire, with so short a span and nothing
beyond.



III


The change of parties wrought by the presidential election of 1860
and completed by the coming in of the Republicans in 1861 was indeed
revolutionary. When Mr. Lincoln had finished his inaugural address and
the crowd on the east portico began to disperse, I reentered the rotunda
between Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, and Mr. John Bell, of Tennessee,
two old friends of my family, and for a little we sat upon a bench, they
discussing the speech we had just heard.

Both were sure there would be no war. All would be well, they thought, each
speaking kindly of Mr. Lincoln. They were among the most eminent men of the
time, I a boy of twenty-one; but to me war seemed a certainty. Recalling
the episode, I have often realized how the intuitions of youth outwit the
wisdom and baffle the experience of age.

I at once resigned my snug sinecure in the Interior Department and, closing
my accounts of every sort, was presently ready to turn my back upon
Washington and seek adventures elsewhere.

They met me halfway and came in plenty. I tried staff duty with General
Polk, who was making an expedition into Western Kentucky. In a few weeks
illness drove me into Nashville, where I passed the next winter in
desultory newspaper work. Then Nashville fell, and, as I was making my way
out of town afoot and trudging the Murfreesboro pike, Forrest, with his
squadron just escaped from Fort Donelson, came thundering by, and I leaped
into an empty saddle. A few days later Forrest, promoted to brigadier
general, attached me to his staff, and the next six months it was mainly
guerilla service, very much to my liking. But Fate, if not Nature, had
decided that I was a better writer than fighter, and the Bank of Tennessee
having bought a newspaper outfit at Chattanooga, I was sent there to edit
The Rebel--my own naming--established as the organ of the Tennessee state
government. I made it the organ of the army.

It is not the purpose of these pages to retell the well-known story of the
war. My life became a series of ups and downs--mainly downs--the word being
from day to day to fire and fall back; in the Johnston-Sherman campaign, I
served as chief of scouts; then as an aid to General Hood through the siege
of Atlanta, sharing the beginning of the chapter of disasters that befell
that gallant soldier and his army. I was spared the last and worst of these
by a curious piece of special duty, taking me elsewhere, to which I was
assigned in the autumn of 1864 by the Confederate government.

This involved a foreign journey. It was no less than to go to England to
sell to English buyers some hundred thousand bales of designated cotton to
be thus rescued from spoliation, acting under the supervision and indeed
the orders of the Confederate fiscal agency at Liverpool.

Of course I was ripe for this; but it proved a bigger job than I had
conceived or dreamed. The initial step was to get out of the country. But
how? That was the question. To run the blockade had been easy enough a
few months earlier. All our ports were now sealed by Federal cruisers and
gunboats. There was nothing for it but to slip through the North and to get
either a New York or a Canadian boat. This involved chances and disguises.



IV


In West Tennessee, not far from Memphis, lived an aunt of mine. Thither I
repaired. My plan was to get on a Mississippi steamer calling at one of
the landings for wood. This proved impracticable. I wandered many days and
nights, rather ill mounted, in search of some kind--any kind--of exit,
when one afternoon, quite worn out, I sat by a log heap in a comfortable
farmhouse. It seemed that I was at the end of my tether; I did not know
what to do.

Presently there was an arrival--a brisk gentleman right out of Memphis,
which I then learned was only ten miles distant--bringing with him a
morning paper. In this I saw appended to various army orders the name of
"N.B. Dana, General Commanding."

That set me to thinking. Was not Dana the name of a certain captain, a
stepson of Congressman Peaslee, of New Hampshire, who had lived with us at
Willard's Hotel--and were there not two children, Charley and Mamie, and a
dear little mother, and--I had been listening to the talk of the newcomer.
He was a licensed cotton buyer with a pass to come and go at will through
the lines, and was returning next day.

"I want to get into Memphis--I am a nephew of Mrs. General Dana. Can you
take me in?" I said to this person.

After some hesitation he consented to try, it being agreed that my mount
and outfit should be his if he got me through; no trade if he failed.

Clearly the way ahead was brightening. I soon ascertained that I was with
friends, loyal Confederates. Then I told them who I was, and all became
excitement for the next day's adventure.

We drove down to the Federal outpost. Crenshaw--that was the name of the
cotton buyer--showed his pass to the officer in command, who then turned to
me. "Captain," I said, "I have no pass, but I am a nephew of Mrs. General
Dana. Can you not pass me in without a pass?" He was very polite. It was a
chain picket, he said; his orders were very strict, and so on.

"Well," I said, "suppose I were a member of your own command and were run
in here by guerillas. What do you think would it be your duty to do?"

"In that case," he answered, "I should send you to headquarters with a
guard."

"Good!" said I. "Can't you send me to headquarters with a guard?"

He thought a moment. Then he called a cavalryman from the outpost.

"Britton," he said, "show this gentleman in to General Dana's
headquarters."

Crenshaw lashed his horse and away we went. "That boy thinks he is a guide,
not a guard," said he. "You are all right. We can easily get rid of him."

This proved true. We stopped by a saloon and bought a bottle of whisky.
When we reached headquarters the lad said, "Do you gentlemen want me any
more?" We did not. Then we gave him the bottle of whisky and he disappeared
round the corner. "Now you are safe," said Crenshaw. "Make tracks."

But as I turned away and out of sight I began to consider the situation.
Suppose that picket on the outpost reported to the provost marshal general
that he had passed a relative of Mrs. Dana? What then? Provost guard.
Drumhead court-martial. Shot at daylight. It seemed best to play out the
hand as I had dealt it. After all, I could make a case if I faced it out.

The guard at the door refused me access to General Dana. Driven by a nearby
hackman to the General's residence, and, boldly asking for Mrs. Dana, I
was more successful. I introduced myself as a teacher of music seeking
to return to my friends in the North, working in a word about the old
Washington days, not forgetting "Charley" and "Mamie." The dear little
woman was heartily responsive. Both were there, including a pretty girl
from Philadelphia, and she called them down. "Here is your old friend,
Henry Waterman," she joyfully exclaimed. Then guests began to arrive. It
was a reception evening. My hope fell. Some one would surely recognize me.
Presently a gentleman entered, and Mrs. Dana said: "Colonel Meehan, this is
my particular friend, Henry Waterman, who has been teaching music out in
the country, and wants to go up the river. You will give him a pass, I am
sure." It was the provost marshal, who answered, "certainly." Now was my
time for disappearing. But Mrs. Dana would not listen to this. General Dana
would never forgive her if she let me go. Besides, there was to be a supper
and a dance. I sat down again very much disconcerted. The situation was
becoming awkward. Then Mrs. Dana spoke. "You say you have been teaching
music. What is your instrument?" Saved! "The piano," I answered. The girls
escorted me to the rear drawing-room. It was a new Steinway Grand, just
set up, and I played for my life. If the black bombazine covering my gray
uniform did not break, all would be well. I was having a delightfully good
time, the girls on either hand, when Mrs. Dana, still enthusiastic, ran
in and said, "General Dana is here. Remembers you perfectly. Come and see
him."

He stood by a table, tall, sardonic, and as I approached he put out his
hand and said: "You have grown a bit, Henry, my boy, since I saw you last.
How did you leave my friend Forrest?"

I was about making some awkward reply, when, the room already filling up,
he said:

"We have some friends for supper. I am glad you are here. Mamie, my
daughter, take Mr. Watterson to the table!"

Lord! That supper! Canvasback! Terrapin! Champagne! The general had seated
me at his right. Somewhere toward the close those expressive gray eyes
looked at me keenly, and across his wine glass he said:

"I think I understand this. You want to get up the river. You want to see
your mother. Have you money enough to carry you through? If you have not
don't hesitate, for whatever you need I will gladly let you have."

I thanked him. I had quite enough. All was well. We had more music and some
dancing. At a late hour he called the provost marshal.

"Meehan," said he, "take this dangerous young rebel round to the hotel,
register him as Smith, Brown, or something, and send him with a pass up the
river by the first steamer." I was in luck, was I not?

But I made no impression on those girls. Many years after, meeting Mamie
Dana, as the wife of an army officer at Fortress Monroe, I related the
Memphis incident. She did not in the least recall it.



V


I had one other adventure during the war that may be worth telling. It was
in 1862. Forrest took it into his inexperienced fighting head to make a
cavalry attack upon a Federal stockade, and, repulsed with considerable
loss, the command had to disperse--there were not more than two hundred of
us--in order to escape capture by the newly-arrived reinforcements that
swarmed about. We were to rendezvous later at a certain point. Having some
time to spare, and being near the family homestead at Beech Grove, I put in
there.

It was midnight when I reached my destination. I had been erroneously
informed that the Union Army was on the retreat--quite gone from the
neighborhood; and next day, believing the coast was clear, I donned a
summer suit and with a neighbor boy who had been wounded at Shiloh and
invalided home, rode over to visit some young ladies. We had scarcely been
welcomed and were taking a glass of wine when, looking across the lawn, we
saw that the place was being surrounded by a body of blue-coats. The story
of their departure had been a mistake. They were not all gone.

There was no chance of escape. We were placed in a hollow square and
marched across country into camp. Before we got there I had ascertained
that they were Indianians, and I was further led rightly to surmise what we
called in 1860 Douglas Democrats.

My companion, a husky fellow, who looked and was every inch a soldier, was
first questioned by the colonel in command. His examination was brief. He
said he was as good a rebel as lived, that he was only waiting for his
wound to heal to get back into the Confederate Army, and that if they
wanted to hang him for a spy to go ahead.

I was aghast. It was not he that was in danger of hanging, but myself, a
soldier in citizen's apparel within the enemy's lines. The colonel turned
to me. With what I took for a sneer he said:

"I suppose you are a good Union man?" This offered me a chance.

"That depends upon what you call a good Union man," I answered. "I used to
be a very good Union man--a Douglas Democrat--and I am not conscious of
having changed my political opinions."

That softened him and we had an old-fashioned, friendly talk about the
situation, in which I kept the Douglas Democratic end of it well to the
fore. He, too, had been a Douglas Democrat. I soon saw that it was my
companion and not myself whom they were after. Presently Colonel Shook,
that being the commandant's name, went into the adjacent stockade and
the boys about began to be hearty and sympathetic. I made them a regular
Douglas Democratic speech. They brought some "red licker" and I asked for
some sugar for a toddy, not failing to cite the familiar Sut Lovingood
saying that "there were about seventeen round the door who said they'd
take sugar in their'n." The drink warmed me to my work, making me quicker,
if not bolder, in invention. Then the colonel not reappearing as soon as I
hoped he would, for all along my fear was the wires, I went to him.

"Colonel Shook," I said, "you need not bother about this friend of mine. He
has no real idea of returning to the Confederate service. He is teaching
school over here at Beech Grove and engaged to be married to one of
the--girls. If you carry him off a prisoner he will be exchanged back into
the fighting line, and we make nothing by it. There is a hot luncheon
waiting for us at the ----'s. Leave him to me and I will be answerable."
Then I left him.

Directly he came out and said: "I may be doing wrong, and don't feel
entirely sure of my ground, but I am going to let you gentlemen go."

We thanked him and made off amid the cheery good-bys of the assembled
blue-coats.

No lunch for us. We got to our horses, rode away, and that night I was at
our rendezvous to tell the tale to those of my comrades who had arrived
before me.

Colonel Shook and I met after the war at a Grand Army reunion where I was
billed to speak and to which he introduced me, relating the incident
and saying, among other things: "I do believe that when he told me near
Wartrace that day twenty years ago that he was a good Union man he told at
least half the truth."



Chapter the Fourth

    I Go to London--Am Introduced to a Notable Set--Huxley, Spencer, Mill
    and Tyndall--Artemus Ward Comes to Town--The Savage Club



I


The fall of Atlanta after a siege of nearly two months was, in the opinion
of thoughtful people, the sure precursor of the fall of the doomed
Confederacy. I had an affectionate regard for General Hood, but it was my
belief that neither he nor any other soldier could save the day, and
being out of commission and having no mind for what I conceived aimless
campaigning through another winter--especially an advance into Tennessee
upon Nashville--I wrote to an old friend of mine, who owned the Montgomery
Mail, asking for a job. He answered that if I would come right along and
take the editorship of the paper he would make me a present of half of
it--a proposal so opportune and tempting that forty-eight hours later saw
me in the capital of Alabama.

I was accompanied by my fidus Achates, Albert Roberts. The morning after
our arrival, by chance I came across a printed line which advertised a room
and board for two "single gentlemen," with the curious affix for those
times, "references will be given and required." This latter caught me.
When I rang the visitors' bell of a pretty dwelling upon one of the nearby
streets a distinguished gentleman in uniform came to the door, and,
acquainted with my business, he said, "Ah, that is an affair of my wife,"
and invited me within.

He was obviously English. Presently there appeared a beautiful lady,
likewise English and as obviously a gentlewoman, and an hour later my
friend Roberts and I moved in. The incident proved in many ways fateful.
The military gentleman proved to be Doctor Scott, the post surgeon. He
was, when we came to know him, the most interesting of men, a son of that
Captain Scott who commanded Byron's flagship at Missolonghi in 1823; had
as a lad attended the poet and he in his last illness and been in at the
death, seeing the club foot when the body was prepared for burial. His
wife was adorable. There were two girls and two boys. To make a long story
short, Albert Roberts married one of the daughters, his brother the other;
the lads growing up to be successful and distinguished men--one a naval
admiral, the other a railway president. When, just after the war, I was
going abroad, Mrs. Scott said: "I have a brother living in London to whom
I will be glad to give you a letter."



II


Upon the deck of the steamer bound from New York to London direct, as
we, my wife and I newly married, were taking a last look at the receding
American shore, there appeared a gentleman who seemed by the cut of his jib
startlingly French. We had under our escort a French governess returning to
Paris. In a twinkle she and this gentleman had struck up an acquaintance,
and much to my displeasure she introduced him to me as "Monsieur Mahoney."
I was somewhat mollified when later we were made acquainted with Madame
Mahoney.

I was not at all preconceived in his favor, nor did Monsieur Mahoney, upon
nearer approach, conciliate my simple taste. In person, manners and apparel
he was quite beyond me. Mrs. Mahoney, however, as we soon called her, was a
dear, whole-souled, traveled, unaffected New England woman. But Monsieur!
Lord! There was no holding him at arm's length. He brooked not resistance.
I was wearing a full beard. He said it would never do, carried me perforce
below, and cut it as I have worn it ever since. The day before we were to
dock he took me aside and said:

"Mee young friend"--he had a brogue which thirty years in Algiers, where he
had been consul, and a dozen in Paris as a gentleman of leisure, had not
wholly spoiled--"Mee young friend, I observe that you are shy of strangers,
but my wife and I have taken a shine to you and the 'Princess'," as he
called Mrs. Watterson, "and if you will allow us, we can be of some sarvis
to you when we get to town."

Certainly there was no help for it. I was too ill of the long crossing to
oppose him. At Blackwall we took the High Level for Fenchurch Street, at
Fenchurch Street a cab for the West End--Mr. Mahoney bossing the job--and
finally, in most comfortable and inexpensive lodgings, we were settled in
Jermyn Street. The Mahoneys were visiting Lady Elmore, widow of a famous
surgeon and mother of the President of the Royal Academy. Thus we were
introduced to quite a distinguished artistic set.

It was great. It was glorious. At last we were in London--the dream of my
literary ambitions. I have since lived much in this wondrous city and in
many parts of it between Hyde Park Corner, the heart of May Fair, to the
east end of Bloomsbury under the very sound of Bow Bells. All the way as
it were from Tyburn Tree that was, and the Marble Arch that is, to Charing
Cross and the Hay Market. This were not to mention casual sojourns along
Piccadilly and the Strand.

In childhood I was obsessed by the immensity, the atmosphere and the
mystery of London. Its nomenclature embedded itself in my fancy; Hounsditch
and Shoreditch, Billingsgate and Blackfriars; Bishopgate, within, and
Bishopgate, without; Threadneedle Street and Wapping-Old-Stairs; the Inns
of Court where Jarndyce struggled with Jarndyce, and the taverns where the
Mark Tapleys, the Captain Costigans and the Dolly Vardens consorted.

Alike in winter fog and summer haze, I grew to know and love it, and those
that may be called its dramatis personae, especially its tatterdemalions,
the long procession led by Jack Sheppard, Dick Turpin and Jonathan Wild
the Great. Inevitably I sought their haunts--and they were not all gone in
those days; the Bull-and-Gate in Holborn, whither Mr. Tom Jones repaired on
his arrival in town, and the White Hart Tavern, where Mr. Pickwick fell in
with Mr. Sam Weller; the regions about Leicester Fields and Russell Square
sacred to the memory of Captain Booth and the lovely Amelia and Becky
Sharp; where Garrick drank tea with Dr. Johnson and Henry Esmond tippled
with Sir Richard Steele. There was yet a Pump Court, and many places along
Oxford Street where Mantalini and De Quincy loitered: and Covent Garden and
Drury Lane. Evans' Coffee House, or shall I say the Cave of Harmony, and
The Cock and the Cheshire Cheese were near at hand for refreshment in the
agreeable society of Daniel Defoe and Joseph Addison, with Oliver Goldsmith
and Dick Swiveller and Colonel Newcome to clink ghostly glasses amid the
punch fumes and tobacco smoke. In short I knew London when it was still Old
London--the knowledge of Temple Bar and Cheapside--before the vandal horde
of progress and the pickaxe of the builder had got in their nefarious work.



III


Not long after we began our sojourn in London, I recurred--by chance, I am
ashamed to say--to Mrs. Scott's letter of introduction to her brother. The
address read "Mr. Thomas H. Huxley, School of Mines, Jermyn Street." Why,
it was but two or three blocks away, and being so near I called, not
knowing just who Mr. Thomas H. Huxley might be.

I was conducted to a dark, stuffy little room. The gentleman who met me was
exceedingly handsome and very agreeable. He greeted me cordially and we
had some talk about his relatives in America. Of course my wife and I were
invited at once to dinner. I was a little perplexed. There was no one to
tell me about Huxley, or in what way he might be connected with the School
of Mines.

It was a good dinner. There sat at table a gentleman by the name of Tyndall
and another by the name of Mill--of neither I had ever heard--but there was
still another of the name of Spencer, whom I fancied must be a literary
man, for I recalled having reviewed a clever book on Education some four
years agone by a writer of that name; a certain Herbert Spencer, whom I
rightly judged might he be.

The dinner, I repeat, was a very good dinner indeed--the Huxleys, I took
it, must be well to do--the company agreeable; a bit pragmatic, however,
I thought. The gentleman by the name of Spencer said he loved music and
wished to hear Mrs. Watterson sing, especially Longfellow's Rainy Day, and
left the others of us--Huxley, Mill, Tyndall and myself--at table. Finding
them a little off on the Irish question as well as American affairs, I
set them right as to both with much particularity and a great deal of
satisfaction to myself.

Whatever Huxley's occupation, it turned out that he had at least one
book-publishing acquaintance, Mr. Alexander Macmillan, to whom he
introduced me next day, for I had brought with me a novel--the great
American romance--too good to be wasted on New York, Philadelphia or
Boston, but to appear simultaneously in England and the United States,
to be translated, of course, into French, Italian and German. This was
actually accepted. It was held for final revision.

We were to pass the winter in Italy. An event, however, called me suddenly
home. Politics and journalism knocked literature sky high, and the
novel--it was entitled "One Story's Good Till Another Is Told"--was laid by
and quite forgotten. Some twenty years later, at a moment when I was being
lashed from one end of the line to the other, my wife said:

"Let us drop the nasty politics and get back to literature." She had
preserved the old manuscript, two thousand pages of it.

"Fetch it," I said.

She brought it with effulgent pride. Heavens! The stuff it was! Not a
gleam, never a radiance. I had been teaching myself to write--I had been
writing for the English market--perpendicular! The Lord has surely been
good to me. If the "boys" had ever got a peep at that novel, I had been
lost indeed!



IV


Yea, verily we were in London. Presently Artemus Ward and "the show"
arrived in town. He took a lodging over an apothecary's just across the way
from Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where he was to lecture. We had been the
best of friends, were near of an age, and only round-the-corner apart we
became from the first inseparable. I introduced him to the distinguished
scientific set into which chance had thrown me, and he introduced me to a
very different set that made a revel of life at the Savage Club.

I find by reference to some notes jotted down at the time that the last I
saw of him was the evening of the 21st of December, 1866. He had dined with
my wife and myself, and, accompanied by Arthur Sketchley, who had dropped
in after dinner, he bade us good-by and went for his nightly grind, as
he called it. We were booked to take our departure the next morning.
His condition was pitiable. He was too feeble to walk alone, and was
continually struggling to breathe freely. His surgeon had forbidden the use
of wine or liquor of any sort. Instead he drank quantities of water, eating
little and taking no exercise at all. Nevertheless, he stuck to his lecture
and contrived to keep up appearances before the crowds that flocked to hear
him, and even in London his critical state of health was not suspected.

Early in September, when I had parted from him to go to Paris, I left him
methodically and industriously arranging for his début. He had brought some
letters, mainly to newspaper people, and was already making progress toward
what might be called the interior circles of the press, which are so
essential to the success of a newcomer in London. Charles Reade and Andrew
Haliday became zealous friends. It was to the latter that he owed his
introduction to the Savage Club. Here he soon made himself at home. His
manners, even his voice, were half English, albeit he possessed a
most engaging disposition--a ready tact and keen discernment, very
un-English,--and these won him an efficient corps of claquers and backers
throughout the newspapers and periodicals of the metropolis. Thus his
success was assured from the first.

The raw November evening when he opened at Egyptian Hall the room was
crowded with an audience of literary men and women, great and small, from
Swinburne and Edmund Yates to the trumpeters and reporters of the morning
papers. The next day most of these contained glowing accounts. The Times
was silent, but four days later The Thunderer, seeing how the wind blew,
came out with a column of eulogy, and from this onward, each evening proved
a kind of ovation. Seats were engaged for a week in advance. Up and down
Piccadilly, from St. James Church to St. James Street, carriages bearing
the first arms in the kingdom were parked night after night; and the
evening of the 21st of December, six weeks after, there was no falling off.
The success was complete. As to an American, London had never seen the
like.

All this while the poor author of the sport was slowly dying. The demands
upon his animal spirits at the Savage Club, the bodily fatigue of "getting
himself up to it," the "damnable iteration" of the lecture itself, wore him
out. George, his valet, whom he had brought from America, had finally to
lift him about his bedroom like a child. His quarters in Picadilly, as I
have said, were just opposite the Hall, but he could not go backward and
forward without assistance. It was painful in the extreme to see the man
who was undergoing tortures behind the curtain step lightly before the
audience amid a burst of merriment, and for more than an hour sustain the
part of jester, tossing his cap and jingling his bells, a painted death's
head, for he had to rouge his face to hide the pallor.

His buoyancy forsook him. He was occasionally nervous and fretful. The fog,
he declared, felt like a winding sheet, enwrapping and strangling him. At
one of his entertainments he made a grim, serio-comic allusion to this.
"But," cried he as he came off the stage, "that was not a hit, was it? The
English are scary about death. I'll have to cut it out."

He had become a contributor to Punch, a lucky rather than smart business
stroke, for it was not of his own initiation. He did not continue his
contributions after he began to appear before the public, and the
discontinuance was made the occasion of some ill-natured remarks in certain
American papers, which very much wounded him. They were largely circulated
and credited at the time, the charge being that Messrs. Bradbury and Evans,
the publishers of the English charivari, had broken with him because the
English would not have him. The truth is that their original proposal was
made to him, not by him to them, the price named being fifteen guineas a
letter. He asked permission to duplicate the arrangement with some New York
periodical, so as to secure an American copyright. This they refused. I
read the correspondence at the time. "Our aim," they said, "in making
the engagement, had reference to our own circulation in the United States,
which exceeds twenty-seven thousand weekly."

I suggested to Artemus that he enter his book, "Artemus Ward in London,"
in advance, and he did write to Oakey Hall, his New York lawyer, to
that effect. Before he received an answer from Hall he got Carleton's
advertisement announcing the book. Considering this a piratical design on
the part of Carleton, he addressed that enterprising publisher a savage
letter, but the matter was ultimately cleared up to his satisfaction, for
he said just before we parted: "It was all a mistake about Carleton. I did
him an injustice and mean to ask his pardon. He has behaved very handsomely
to me." Then the letters reappeared in Punch.



V


Whatever may be thought of them on this side of the Atlantic, their success
in England was undeniable. They were more talked about than any current
literary matter; never a club gathering or dinner party at which they were
not discussed. There did seem something both audacious and grotesque in
this ruthless Yankee poking in among the revered antiquities of Britain, so
that the beef-eating British themselves could not restrain their laughter.
They took his jokes in excellent part. The letters on the Tower and Chawsir
were palpable hits, and it was generally agreed that Punch had contained
nothing better since the days of Yellow-plush. This opinion was not
confined to the man in the street. It was shared by the high-brows of the
reviews and the appreciative of society, and gained Artemus the entrée
wherever he cared to go.

Invitations pursued him and he was even elected to two or three fashionable
clubs. But he had a preference for those which were less conventional. His
admission to the Garrick, which had been at first "laid over," affords an
example of London club fastidiousness. The gentleman who proposed him used
his pseudonym, Artemus Ward, instead of his own name, Charles F. Browne. I
had the pleasure of introducing him to Mr. Alexander Macmillan, the famous
book publisher of Oxford and Cambridge, a leading member of the Garrick. We
dined together at the Garrick clubhouse, when the matter was brought up and
explained. The result was that Charles F. Browne was elected at the next
meeting, where Artemus Ward, had been made to stand aside.

Before Christmas, Artemus received invitations from distinguished people,
nobility and gentry as well as men of letters, to spend the week-end with
them. But he declined them all. He needed his vacation, he said, for rest.
He had neither the strength nor the spirit for the season.

Yet was he delighted with the English people and with English life. His was
one of those receptive natures which enjoy whatever is wholesome and sunny.
In spite of his bodily pain, he entertained a lively hope of coming out of
it in the spring, and did not realize his true condition. He merely
said, "I have overworked myself, and must lay by or I shall break down
altogether." He meant to remain in London as long as his welcome lasted,
and when he perceived a falling off in his audience, would close his season
and go to the continent. His receipts averaged about three hundred dollars
a night, whilst his expenses were not fifty dollars. "This, mind you," he
used to say, "is in very hard cash, an article altogether superior to that
of my friend Charles Reade."

[Illustration: Artemas Ward]

His idea was to set aside out of his earnings enough to make him
independent, and then to give up "this mountebank business," as he
called it. He had a great respect for scholarly culture and personal
respectability, and thought that if he could get time and health he might
do something "in the genteel comedy line." He had a humorous novel in view,
and a series of more aspiring comic essays than any he had attempted.

Often he alluded to the opening for an American magazine, "not quite so
highfalutin as the Atlantic nor so popular as Harper's." His mind was
beginning to soar above the showman and merrymaker. His manners had always
been captivating. Except for the nervous worry of ill-health, he was the
kind-hearted, unaffected Artemus of old, loving as a girl and liberal as a
prince. He once showed me his daybook in which were noted down over five
hundred dollars lent out in small sums to indigent Americans.

"Why," said I, "you will never get half of it back."

"Of course not," he said, "but do you think I can afford to have a lot of
loose fellows black-guarding me at home because I wouldn't let them have a
sovereign or so over here?"

There was no lack of independence, however, about him. The benefit which he
gave Mrs. Jefferson Davis in New Orleans, which was denounced at the North
as toadying to the Rebels, proceeded from a wholly different motive. He
took a kindly interest in the case because it was represented to him as one
of suffering, and knew very well at the time that his bounty would meet
with detraction.

He used to relate with gusto an interview he once had with Murat Halstead,
who had printed a tart paragraph about him. He went into the office of the
Cincinnati editor, and began in his usual jocose way to ask for the needful
correction. Halstead resented the proffered familiarity, when Artemus told
him flatly, suddenly changing front, that he "didn't care a d--n for the
Commercial, and the whole establishment might go to hell." Next day the
paper appeared with a handsome amende, and the two became excellent
friends. "I have no doubt," said Artemus, "that if I had whined or begged,
I should have disgusted Halstead, and he would have put it to me tighter.
As it was, he concluded that I was not a sneak, and treated me like a
gentleman."

Artemus received many tempting offers from book publishers in London.
Several of the Annuals for 1866-67 contain sketches, some of them
anonymous, written by him, for all of which he was well paid. He wrote for
Fun--the editor of which, Mr. Tom Hood, son of the great humorist, was an
intimate friend--as well as for Punch; his contributions to the former
being printed without his signature. If he had been permitted to remain
until the close of his season, he would have earned enough, with what he
had already, to attain the independence which was his aim and hope. His
best friends in London were Charles Reade, Tom Hood, Tom Robertson, the
dramatist, Charles Mathews, the comedian, Tom Taylor and Arthur Sketchley.
He did not meet Mr. Dickens, though Mr. Andrew Haliday, Dickens' familiar,
was also his intimate. He was much persecuted by lion hunters, and
therefore had to keep his lodgings something of a mystery.

So little is known of Artemus Ward that some biographic particulars may not
in this connection be out of place or lacking in interest.

Charles F. Browne was born at Waterford, Maine, the 15th of July, 1833.
His father was a state senator, a probate judge, and at one time a wealthy
citizen; but at his death, when his famous son was yet a lad, left his
family little or no property. Charles apprenticed himself to a printer, and
served out his time, first in Springfield and then in Boston. In the latter
city he made the acquaintance of Shilaber, Ben Perley Poore, Halpine, and
others, and tried his hand as a "sketchist" for a volume edited by Mrs.
Partington. His early effusions bore the signature of "Chub." From the Hub
he emigrated to the West. At Toledo, Ohio, he worked as a "typo" and later
as a "local" on a Toledo newspaper. Then he went to Cleveland, where as
city editor of the Plain Dealer he began the peculiar vein from which still
later he worked so successfully.

The soubriquet "Artemus Ward," was not taken from the Revolutionary
general. It was suggested by an actual personality. In an adjoining town
to Cleveland there was a snake charmer who called himself Artemus Ward,
an ignorant witling or half-wit, the laughing stock of the countryside.
Browne's first communication over the signature of Artemus Ward purported
to emanate from this person, and it succeeded so well that he kept it up.
He widened the conception as he progressed. It was not long before his
sketches began to be copied and he became a newspaper favorite. He remained
in Cleveland from 1857 to 1860, when he was called to New York to take the
editorship of a venture called Vanity Fair. This died soon after. But
he did not die with it. A year later, in the fall of 1861, he made his
appearance as a lecturer at New London, and met with encouragement. Then he
set out _en tour_, returned to the metropolis, hired a hall and opened
with "the show." Thence onward all went well.

The first money he made was applied to the purchase of the old family
homestead in Maine, which he presented to his mother. The payments on this
being completed, he bought himself a little nest on the Hudson, meaning,
as he said, to settle down and perhaps to marry. But his dreams were not
destined to be fulfilled.

Thus, at the outset of a career from which much was to be expected, a man,
possessed of rare and original qualities of head and heart, sank out of the
sphere in which at that time he was the most prominent figure. There was
then no Mark Twain or Bret Harte. His rivals were such humorists as
Orpheus C. Kerr, Nasby, Asa Hartz, The Fat Contributor, John Happy, Mrs.
Partington, Bill Arp and the like, who are now mostly forgotten.

Artemus Ward wrote little, but he made good and left his mark. Along with
the queer John Phoenix his writings survived the deluge that followed them.
He poured out the wine of life in a limpid stream. It may be fairly said
that he did much to give permanency and respectability to the style
of literature of which he was at once a brilliant illustrator and
illustration. His was a short life indeed, though a merry one, and a sad
death. In a strange land, yet surrounded by admiring friends, about to
reach the coveted independence he had looked forward to so long, he sank to
rest, his dust mingling with that of the great Thomas Hood, alongside of
whom he was laid in Kensal Green.



Chapter the Fifth

    Mark Twain--The Original of Colonel Mulberry Sellers--The "Earl of
    Durham"--Some Noctes Ambrosianæ--A Joke on Murat Halstead



I


Mark Twain came down to the footlights long after Artemus Ward had passed
from the scene; but as an American humorist with whom during half a century
I was closely intimate and round whom many of my London experiences
revolve, it may be apropos to speak of him next after his elder. There was
not lacking a certain likeness between them.

Samuel L. Clemens and I were connected by a domestic tie, though before
either of us were born the two families on the maternal side had been
neighbors and friends. An uncle of his married an aunt of mine--the
children of this marriage cousins in common to us--albeit, this apart, we
were life-time cronies. He always contended that we were "bloodkin."

Notwithstanding that when Mark Twain appeared east of the Alleghanies and
north of the Blue Ridge he showed the weather-beating of the west, the
bizarre alike of the pilot house and the mining camp very much in evidence,
he came of decent people on both sides of the house. The Clemens and
the Lamptons were of good old English stock. Toward the middle of the
eighteenth century three younger scions of the Manor of Durham migrated
from the County of Durham to Virginia and thence branched out into
Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.

His mother was the loveliest old aristocrat with a taking drawl, a drawl
that was high-bred and patrician, not rustic and plebeian, which her famous
son inherited. All the women of that ilk were gentlewomen. The literary and
artistic instinct which attained its fruition in him had percolated through
the veins of a long line of silent singers, of poets and painters, unborn
to the world of expression till he arrived upon the scene.

These joint cousins of ours embraced an exceedingly large, varied and
picturesque assortment. Their idiosyncrasies were a constant source of
amusement to us. Just after the successful production of his play, The
Gilded Age, and the uproarious hit of the comedian, Raymond, in the leading
role, I received a letter from him in which he told me he had made in
Colonel Mulberry Sellers a close study of one of these kinsmen and thought
he had drawn him to the life. "But for the love o' God," he said, "don't
whisper it, for he would never understand or forgive me, if he did not
thrash me on sight."

The pathos of the part, and not its comic aspects, had most impressed him.
He designed and wrote it for Edwin Booth. From the first and always he
was disgusted by the Raymond portrayal. Except for its popularity and
money-making, he would have withdrawn it from the stage as, in a fit of
pique, Raymond himself did while it was still packing the theaters.

The original Sellers had partly brought him up and had been very good to
him. A second Don Quixote in appearance and not unlike the knight of La
Mancha in character, it would have been safe for nobody to laugh at James
Lampton, or by the slightest intimation, look or gesture to treat him with
inconsideration, or any proposal of his, however preposterous, with levity.

He once came to visit me upon a public occasion and during a function.
I knew that I must introduce him, and with all possible ceremony, to
my colleagues. He was very queer; tall and peaked, wearing a black,
swallow-tailed suit, shiny with age, and a silk hat, bound with black crepe
to conceal its rustiness, not to indicate a recent death; but his linen as
spotless as new-fallen snow. I had my fears. Happily the company, quite
dazed by the apparition, proved decorous to solemnity, and the kind old
gentleman, pleased with himself and proud of his "distinguished young
kinsman," went away highly gratified.

Not long after this one of his daughters--pretty girls they were, too, and
in charm altogether worthy of their Cousin Sam Clemens--was to be married,
and Sellers wrote me a stately summons, all-embracing, though stiff and
formal, such as a baron of the Middle Ages might have indited to his noble
relative, the field marshal, bidding him bring his good lady and his
retinue and abide within the castle until the festivities were ended,
though in this instance the castle was a suburban cottage scarcely big
enough to accommodate the bridal couple. I showed the bombastic but
hospitable and genuine invitation to the actor Raymond, who chanced to be
playing in Louisville when it reached me. He read it through with care and
reread it.

"Do you know," said he, "it makes me want to cry. That is not the man I am
trying to impersonate at all."

Be sure it was not; for there was nothing funny about the spiritual being
of Mark Twain's Colonel Mulberry Sellers; he was as brave as a lion and as
upright as Sam Clemens himself.

When a very young man, living in a woodland cabin down in the Pennyrile
region of Kentucky, with a wife he adored and two or three small children,
he was so carried away by an unexpected windfall that he lingered overlong
in the nearby village, dispensing a royal hospitality; in point of fact, he
"got on a spree." Two or three days passed before he regained possession of
himself. When at last he reached home, he found his wife ill in bed and the
children nearly starved for lack of food. He said never a word, but walked
out of the cabin, tied himself to a tree, and was wildly horsewhipping
himself when the cries of the frightened family summoned the neighbors
and he was brought to reason. He never touched an intoxicating drop from
that day to his death.



II


Another one of our fantastic mutual cousins was the "Earl of Durham." I
ought to say that Mark Twain and I grew up on old wives' tales of estates
and titles, which, maybe due to a kindred sense of humor in both of us, we
treated with shocking irreverence. It happened some fifty years ago that
there turned up, first upon the plains and afterward in New York and
Washington, a lineal descendant of the oldest of the Virginia Lamptons--he
had somehow gotten hold of or had fabricated a bundle of documents--who
was what a certain famous American would have called a "corker." He wore
a sombrero with a rattlesnake for a band, and a belt with a couple of
six-shooters, and described himself and claimed to be the Earl of Durham.

"He touched me for a tenner the first time I ever saw him," drawled Mark
to me, "and I coughed it up and have been coughing them up, whenever he's
around, with punctuality and regularity."

The "Earl" was indeed a terror, especially when he had been drinking. His
belief in his peerage was as absolute as Colonel Sellers' in his millions.
All he wanted was money enough "to get over there" and "state his case."
During the Tichborne trial Mark Twain and I were in London, and one day he
said to me:

"I have investigated this Durham business down at the Herald's office.
There's nothing to it. The Lamptons passed out of the Demesne of Durham a
hundred years ago. They had long before dissipated the estates. Whatever
the title, it lapsed. The present earldom is a new creation, not the same
family at all. But, I tell you what, if you'll put up five hundred dollars
I'll put up five hundred more, we'll fetch our chap across and set him in
as a claimant, and, my word for it, Kenealy's fat boy won't be a marker to
him!"

He was so pleased with his conceit that later along he wrote a novel and
called it The Claimant. It is the only one of his books, though I never
told him so, that I could not enjoy. Many years after, I happened to see
upon a hotel register in Rome these entries: "The Earl of Durham," and
in the same handwriting just below it, "Lady Anne Lambton" and "The Hon.
Reginald Lambton." So the Lambtons--they spelled it with a b instead of a
p--were yet in the peerage. A Lambton was Earl of Durham. The next time
I saw Mark I rated him on his deception. He did not defend himself, said
something about its being necessary to perfect the joke.

"Did you ever meet this present peer and possible usurper?" I asked.

"No," he answered, "I never did, but if he had called on me, I would have
had him come up."



III


His mind turned ever to the droll. Once in London I was living with my
family at 103 Mount Street. Between 103 and 102 there was the parochial
workhouse, quite a long and imposing edifice. One evening, upon coming in
from an outing, I found a letter he had written on the sitting-room table.
He had left it with his card. He spoke of the shock he had received upon
finding that next to 102--presumably 103--was the workhouse. He had loved
me, but had always feared that I would end by disgracing the family--being
hanged or something--but the "work'us," that was beyond him; he had not
thought it would come to that. And so on through pages of horseplay; his
relief on ascertaining the truth and learning his mistake, his regret at
not finding me at home, closing with a dinner invitation.

It was at Geneva, Switzerland, that I received a long, overflowing letter,
full of flamboyant oddities, written from London. Two or three hours later
came a telegram. "Burn letter. Blot it from your memory. Susie is dead."

How much of melancholy lay hidden behind the mask of his humour it would
be hard to say. His griefs were tempered by a vein of stoicism. He was a
medley of contradictions. Unconventional to the point of eccentricity, his
sense of his proper dignity was sound and sufficient. Though lavish in
the use of money, he had a full realization of its value and made close
contracts for his work. Like Sellers, his mind soared when it sailed
financial currents. He lacked acute business judgment in the larger things,
while an excellent economist in the lesser.

His marriage was the most brilliant stroke of his life. He got the woman of
all the world he most needed, a truly lovely and wise helpmate, who kept
him in bounds and headed him straight and right while she lived. She was
the best of housewives and mothers, and the safest of counsellors and
critics. She knew his worth; she appreciated his genius; she understood
his limitations and angles. Her death was a grievous disaster as well as a
staggering blow. He never wholly recovered from it.



IV


It was in the early seventies that Mark Twain dropped into New York, where
there was already gathered a congenial group to meet and greet him. John
Hay, quoting old Jack Dade's description of himself, was wont to speak of
this group as "of high aspirations and peregrinations." It radiated
between Franklin Square, where Joseph W. Harper--"Joe Brooklyn," we called
him--reigned in place of his uncle, Fletcher Harper, the man of genius
among the original Harper Brothers, and the Lotos Club, then in Irving
Place, and Delmonico's, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth
Street, with Sutherland's in Liberty Street for a downtown place of
luncheon resort, not to forget Dorlon's in Fulton Market.

[Illustration: General Leonidas Polk--Lieutenant General C.S.A.--Killed in
Georgia June 14, 1864--P.E. Bishop of Louisiana]

The Harper contingent, beside its chief, embraced Tom Nast and William A.
Seaver, whom John Russell Young named "Papa Pendennis," and pictured as "a
man of letters among men of the world and a man of the world among men of
letters," a very apt phrase appropriated from Doctor Johnson, and Major
Constable, a giant, who looked like a dragoon and not a bookman, yet
had known Sir Walter Scott and was sprung from the family of Edinburgh
publishers. Bret Harte had but newly arrived from California. Whitelaw
Reid, though still subordinate to Greeley, was beginning to make himself
felt in journalism. John Hay played high priest to the revels. Occasionally
I made a pious pilgrimage to the delightful shrine.

Truth to tell, it emulated rather the gods than the graces, though all of
us had literary leanings of one sort and another, especially late at night;
and Sam Bowles would come over from Springfield and Murat Halstead from
Cincinnati to join us. Howells, always something of a prig, living
in Boston, held himself at too high account; but often we had Joseph
Jefferson, then in the heyday of his career, with once in a while Edwin
Booth, who could not quite trust himself to go our gait. The fine fellows
we caught from oversea were innumerable, from the elder Sothern and Sala
and Yates to Lord Dufferin and Lord Houghton. Times went very well those
days, and whilst some looked on askance, notably Curtis and, rather oddly,
Stedman, and thought we were wasting time and convivializing more than was
good for us, we were mostly young and hearty, ranging from thirty to five
and forty years of age, with amazing capabilities both for work and play,
and I cannot recall that any hurt to any of us came of it.

Although robustious, our fribbles were harmless enough--ebullitions of
animal spirit, sometimes perhaps of gaiety unguarded--though each shade,
treading the Celestian way, as most of them do, and recurring to those
Noctes Ambrosianæ, might e'en repeat to the other the words on a memorable
occasion addressed by Curran to Lord Avonmore:

  _"We spent them not in toys or lust or wine;
  But search of deep philosophy,
  Wit, eloquence and poesy--
  Arts which I loved, for they, my friend, were thine."_



V


Mark Twain was the life of every company and all occasions. I remember a
practical joke of his suggestion played upon Murat Halstead. A party of
us were supping after the theater at the old Brevoort House. A card was
brought to me from a reporter of the World. I was about to deny myself,
when Mark Twain said:

"Give it to me, I'll fix it," and left the table.

Presently he came to the door and beckoned me out.

"I represented myself as your secretary and told this man," said he, "that
you were not here, but that if Mr. Halstead would answer just as well I
would fetch him. The fellow is as innocent as a lamb and doesn't know
either of you. I am going to introduce you as Halstead and we'll have some
fun."

No sooner said than done. The reporter proved to be a little bald-headed
cherub newly arrived from the isle of dreams, and I lined out to him a
column or more of very hot stuff, reversing Halstead in every opinion. I
declared him in favor of paying the national debt in greenbacks. Touching
the sectional question, which was then the burning issue of the time,
I made the mock Halstead say: "The 'bloody shirt' is only a kind of
Pickwickian battle cry. It is convenient during political campaigns and on
election day. Perhaps you do not know that I am myself of dyed-in-the-wool
Southern and secession stock. My father and grandfather came to Ohio from
South Carolina just before I was born. Naturally I have no sectional
prejudices, but I live in Cincinnati and I am a Republican."

There was not a little more of the same sort. Just how it passed through
the World office I know not; but it actually appeared. On returning to the
table I told the company what Mark Twain and I had done. They thought I was
joking. Without a word to any of us, next day Halstead wrote a note to the
World repudiating the interview, and the World printed his disclaimer with
a line which said: "When Mr. Halstead conversed with our reporter he had
dined." It was too good to keep. A day or two later, John Hay wrote an
amusing story for the Tribune, which set Halstead right.

Mark Twain's place in literature is not for me to fix. Some one has called
him "The Lincoln of letters." That is striking, suggestive and apposite.
The genius of Clemens and the genius of Lincoln possessed a kinship outside
the circumstances of their early lives; the common lack of tools to work
with; the privations and hardships to be endured and to overcome; the way
ahead through an unblazed and trackless forest; every footstep over a
stumbling block and each effort saddled with a handicap. But they got
there, both of them, they got there, and mayhap somewhere beyond the stars
the light of their eyes is shining down upon us even as, amid the thunders
of a world tempest, we are not wholly forgetful of them.



Chapter the Sixth

    Houston and Wigfall of Texas--Stephen A. Douglas--The Twaddle about
    Puritans and Cavaliers--Andrew Johnson and John C. Breckenridge



I


The National Capitol--old men's fancies fondly turn to thoughts of
youth--was picturesque in its personalities if not in its architecture. By
no means the least striking of these was General and Senator Sam Houston,
of Texas. In his life of adventure truth proved very much stranger than
fiction.

The handsomest of men, tall and stately, he could pass no way without
attracting attention; strangers in the Senate gallery first asked to have
him pointed out to them, and seeing him to all appearance idling his time
with his jacknife and bits of soft wood which he whittled into various
shapes of hearts and anchors for distribution among his lady acquaintances,
they usually went away thinking him a queer old man. So inded he was;
yet on his feet and in action singularly impressive, and, when he chose,
altogether the statesman and orator.

There united in him the spirits of the troubadour and the spearman. Ivanhoe
was not more gallant nor Bois-Guilbert fiercer. But the valor and the
prowess were tempered by humor. Below the surging subterranean flood that
stirred and lifted him to high attempt, he was a comedian who had tales to
tell, and told them wondrous well. On a lazy summer afternoon on the shady
side of Willard's Hotel--the Senate not in session--he might be seen,
an admiring group about him, spinning these yarns, mostly of personal
experience--rarely if ever repeating himself--and in tone, gesture and
grimace reproducing the drolleries of the backwoods, which from boyhood had
been his home.

He spared not himself. According to his own account he had been in the
early days of his Texas career a drunkard. "Everybody got drunk," I once
heard him say, referring to the beginning of the Texas revolution, as he
gave a side-splitting picture of that bloody episode, "and I realized that
somebody must get sober and keep sober."

From the hour of that realization, when he "swore off," to the hour of his
death he never touched intoxicants of any sort.

He had fought under Jackson, had served two terms in Congress and had been
elected governor of Tennessee before he was forty. Then he fell in love.
The young lady was a beautiful girl, well-born and highly educated, a
schoolmate of my mother's elder sister. She was persuaded by her family to
throw over an obscure young man whom she preferred, and to marry a young
man so eligible and distinguished.

He took her to Nashville, the state capital. There were rounds of gayety.
Three months passed. Of a sudden the little town woke to the startling
rumor, which proved to be true, that the brilliant young couple had come to
a parting of the ways. The wife had returned to her people. The husband had
resigned his office and was gone, no one knew where.

A few years later Mrs. Houston applied for a divorce, which in those days
had to be granted by the state legislature. Inevitably reports derogatory
to her had got abroad. Almost the first tidings of Governor Houston's
whereabouts were contained in a letter he wrote from somewhere in the
Indian country to my father, a member of the legislature to whom Mrs.
Houston had applied, in which he said that these reports had come to his
ears. "They are," he wrote, "as false as hell. If they be not stopped I
will return to Tennessee and have the heart's blood of him who repeats
them. A nobler, purer woman never lived. She should be promptly given the
divorce she asks. I alone am to blame."

She married again, though not the lover she had discarded. I knew her in
her old age--a gentle, placid lady, in whose face I used to fancy I could
read lines of sorrow and regret. He, to close this chapter, likewise
married again a wise and womanly woman who bore him many children and with
whom he lived happy ever after. Meanwhile, however, he had dwelt with the
Indians and had become an Indian chief. "Big Drunk, they called me," he
said to his familiars. His enemies averred that he brought into the world a
whole tribe of half-breeds.



II


Houston was a rare performer before a popular audience. His speech abounded
with argumentative appeal and bristled with illustrative anecdote, and,
when occasion required, with apt repartee.

Once an Irishman in the crowd bawled out, "ye were goin' to sell Texas to
England."

Houston paused long enough to center attention upon the quibble and then
said: "My friend, I first tried, unsuccessfully, to have the United States
take Texas as a gift. Not until I threatened to turn Texas over to England
did I finally succeed. There may be within the sound of my voice some who
have knowledge of sheep culture. They have doubtless seen a motherless lamb
put to the breast of a cross old ewe who refused it suck. Then the wise
shepherd calls his dog and there is no further trouble. My friend, England
was my dog."

He was inveighing against the New York Tribune. Having described Horace
Greeley as the sum of all villainy--"whose hair is white, whose skin is
white, whose eyes are white, whose clothes are white, and whose liver is in
my opinion of the same color"--he continued: "The assistant editor of
the Try-bune is Robinson--Solon Robinson. He is an Irishman, an Orange
Irishman, a redhaired Irishman!" Casting his eye over the audience
and seeing quite a sprinkling of redheads, and realizing that he had
perpetrated a slip of tongue, he added: "Fellow citizens, when I say that
Robinson is a red-haired Irishman I mean no disrespect to persons whose
hair is of that color. I have been a close observer of men and women for
thirty years, and I never knew a red-haired man who was not an honest man,
nor a red-headed woman who was not a virtuous woman; and I give it you as
my candid opinion that had it not been for Robinson's red hair he would
have been hanged long ago."

His pathos was not far behind his humor--though he used it sparingly. At a
certain town in Texas there lived a desperado who had threatened to kill
him on sight. The town was not on the route of his speaking dates but he
went out of his way to include it. A great concourse assembled to hear him.
He spoke in the open air and, as he began, observed his man leaning against
a tree armed to the teeth and waiting for him to finish. After a few
opening remarks, he dropped into the reminiscential. He talked of the old
times in Texas. He told in thrilling terms of the Alamo and of Goliad.
There was not a dry eye in earshot. Then he grew personal.

"I see Tom Gilligan over yonder. A braver man never lived than Tom
Gilligan. He fought by my side at San Jacinto. Together we buried poor Bill
Holman. But for his skill and courage I should not be here to-day. He--"

There was a stir in front. Gilligan had thrown away his knife and gun and
was rushing unarmed through the crowd, tears streaming down his face.

"For God's sake, Houston," he cried, "don't say another word and forgive me
my cowardly intention."

From that time to his death Tom Gilligan was Houston's devoted friend.

General Houston voted against the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and as a
consequence lost his seat in the Senate. It was thought, and freely said,
that for good and all he was down and out. He went home and announced
himself a candidate for governor of Texas.

The campaign that followed was of unexampled bitterness. The secession wave
was already mounting high. Houston was an uncompromising Unionist. His
defeat was generally expected. But there was no beating such a man in a
fair and square contest before the people. When the votes were counted he
led his competitor by a big majority. As governor he refused two years
later to sign the ordinance of secession and was deposed from office by
force. He died before the end of the war which so signally vindicated his
wisdom and verified his forecast.



III


Stephen Arnold Douglas was the Charles James Fox of American politics. He
was not a gambler as Fox was. But he went the other gaits and was possessed
of a sweetness of disposition which made him, like Fox, loved where he was
personally known. No one could resist the _bonhomie_ of Douglas.

They are not all Puritans in New England. Catch a Yankee off his base,
quite away from home, and he can be as gay as anybody. Boston and
Charleston were in high party times nearest alike of any two American
cities.

Douglas was a Green Mountain boy. He was born in Vermont. As Seargent
Prentiss had done he migrated beyond the Alleghanies before he came of age,
settling in Illinois as Prentiss had settled in Mississippi, to grow into a
typical Westerner as Prentiss into a typical Southerner.

There was never a more absurd theory than that, begot of sectional aims and
the sectional spirit, which proposed a geographic alignment of Cavalier and
Puritan. When sectionalism had brought a kindred people to blows over
the institution of African slavery there were Puritans who fought on the
Southern side and Cavaliers who fought on the Northern side. What was
Stonewall Jackson but a Puritan? What were Custer, Stoneman and Kearny but
Cavaliers? Wadsworth was as absolute an aristocrat as Hampton.

In the old days before the war of sections the South was full of typical
Southerners of Northern birth. John A. Quitman, who went from New York,
and Robert J. Walker, who went from Pennsylvania to Mississippi; James
H. Hammond, whose father, a teacher, went from Massachusetts to South
Carolina. John Slidell, born and bred in New York, was thirty years old
when he went to Louisiana. Albert Sidney Johnston, the rose and expectancy
of the young Confederacy--the most typical of rebel soldiers--had not a
drop of Southern blood in his veins, born in Kentucky a few months after
his father and mother had arrived there from Connecticut. The list might be
extended indefinitely.

Climate, which has something to do with temperament, has not so much to
do with character as is often imagined. All of us are more or less
the creatures of environment. In the South after a fashion the duello
flourished. Because it had not flourished in the North there rose a notion
that the Northerners would not fight. It proved to those who thought it a
costly mistake.

Down to the actual secession of 1860-61 the issue of issues--the issue
behind all issues--was the preservation of the Union. Between 1820 and
1850, by a series of compromises, largely the work of Mr. Clay, its
threatened disruption had been averted. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill put a sore
strain upon conservative elements North and South. The Whig Party went to
pieces. Mr. Clay passed from the scene. Had he lived until the presidential
election of 1852 he would have given his support to Franklin Pierce, as
Daniel Webster did. Mr. Buchanan was not a General Jackson. Judge Douglas,
who sought to play the rôle of Mr. Clay, was too late. The secession
leaders held the whip hand in the Gulf States. South Carolina was to have
her will at last. Crash came the shot in Charleston Harbor and the fall of
Sumter. Curiously enough two persons of Kentucky birth--Abraham Lincoln
and Jefferson Davis--led the rival hosts of war into which an untenable and
indefensible system of slave labor, for which the two sections were equally
responsible, had precipitated an unwilling people.

Had Judge Douglas lived he would have been Mr. Lincoln's main reliance in
Congress. As a debater his resources and prowess were rarely equaled
and never surpassed. His personality, whether in debate or private
conversation, was attractive in the highest degree. He possessed a full,
melodious voice, convincing fervor and ready wit.

He had married for his second wife the reigning belle of the National
Capital, a great-niece of Mrs. Madison, whose very natural ambitions
quickened and spurred his own.

It was fated otherwise. Like Clay, Webster, Calhoun and Blaine he was to be
denied the Presidency. The White House was barred to him. He was not yet
fifty when he died.

Tidings of his death took the country by surprise. But already the
sectional battle was on and it produced only a momentary impression, to be
soon forgotten amid the overwhelming tumult of events. He has lain in his
grave now nearly sixty years. Upon the legislation of his time his name was
writ first in water and then in blood. He received less than his desert in
life and the historic record has scarcely done justice to his merit. He
was as great a party leader as Clay. He could hold his own in debate with
Webster and Calhoun. He died a very poor man, though his opportunity for
enrichment by perfectly legitimate means were many. It is enough to
say that he lacked the business instinct and set no value upon money;
scrupulously upright in his official dealing; holding his senatorial duties
above all price and beyond the suspicion of dirt.

Touching a matter which involved a certain outlay in the winter of 1861, he
laughingly said to me: "I haven't the wherewithal to pay for a bottle of
whisky and shall have to borrow of Arnold Harris the wherewithal to take me
home."

His wife was a glorious creature. Early one morning calling at their home
to see Judge Douglas I was ushered into the library, where she was engaged
setting things to rights. My entrance took her by surprise. I had often
seen her in full ballroom regalia and in becoming out-of-door costume, but
as, in gingham gown and white apron, she turned, a little startled by my
sudden appearance, smiles and blushes in spite of herself, I thought I had
never seen any woman so beautiful before. She married again--the lover whom
gossip said she had thrown over to marry Judge Douglas--and the story went
that her second marriage was not very happy.



IV


In the midsummer of 1859 the burning question among the newsmen of
Washington was the Central American Mission. England and France had
displayed activity in that quarter and it was deemed important that the
United States should sit up and take notice. An Isthmian canal was being
considered.

Speculation was rife whom Mr. Buchanan would send to represent us. The
press gang of the National Capital was all at sea. There was scarcely a
Democratic leader of national prominence whose name was not mentioned in
that connection, though speculation from day to day eddied round Mr. James
S. Rollins, of Missouri, an especial friend of the President and a most
accomplished public man.

At the height of excitement I happened to be in the library of the State
Department. I was on a step-ladder in quest of a book when I heard a
messenger say to the librarian: "The President is in the Secretary's room
and wants to have Mr. Dimitry come there right away." An inspiration shot
through me like a flash. They had chosen Alexander Dimitry for the Central
American Mission.

He was the official translator of the Department of State. Though an able
and learned man he was not in the line of preferment. He was without
political standing or backing of any sort. At first blush a more unlikely,
impossible appointment could hardly be suggested. But--so on the instant
I reasoned--he was peculiarly fitted in his own person for the post in
question. Though of Greek origin he looked like a Spaniard. He spoke the
Spanish language fluently. He had the procedure of the State Department
at his finger's ends. He was the head of a charming domestic fabric--his
daughters the prettiest girls in Washington. Why not?

I climbed down from my stepladder and made tracks for the office of the
afternoon newspaper for which I was doing all-round work. I was barely on
time, the last forms being locked when I got there. I had the editorial
page opened and inserted at the top of the leading column a double-leaded
paragraph announcing that the agony was over--that the Gordian knot was
cut--that Alexander Dimitry had been selected as Envoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Central American States.

It proved a veritable sensation as well as a notable scoop. To increase my
glory the correspondents of the New York dailies scouted it. But in a day
or two it was officially confirmed. General Cass, the Secretary of State,
sent for me, having learned that I had been in the department about the
time of the consultation between the President, himself and Mr. Dimitry.

"How did you get this?" he asked rather sharply.

"Out of my inner consciousness," I answered with flippant familiarity.
"Didn't you know that I have what they call second sight?"

The old gentleman laughed amiably. "It would seem so," he said, and sent me
about my business without further inquiry.



V


In the National Capital the winter of 1860-61 was both stormy and nebulous.
Parties were at sea. The Northerners in Congress had learned the trick of
bullying from the Southerners. In the Senate, Chandler was a match for
Toombs; and in the House, Thaddeus Stevens for Keitt and Lamar. All of
them, more or less, were playing a game. If sectional war, which was
incessantly threatened by the two extremes, had been keenly realized and
seriously considered it might have been averted. Very few believed that it
would come to actual war.

A convention of Border State men, over which ex-President John Tyler
presided, was held in Washington. It might as well have been held at the
North Pole. Moderate men were brushed aside, their counsels whistled down
the wind. There was a group of Senators, headed by Wigfall of Texas, who
meant disunion and war, and another group, headed by Seward, Hale and
Chase, who had been goaded up to this. Reading contemporary history and,
seeing the high-mightiness with which the Germans began what we conceive
their raid upon humanity, we are wont to regard it as evidence of
incredible stupidity, whereas it was, in point of fact, rather a
miscalculation of forces. That was the error of the secession leaders. They
refused to count the cost. Yancey firmly believed that England would be
forced to intervene. The mills of Lancashire he thought could not get on
without Southern cotton. He was sent abroad. He found Europe solid against
slavery and therefore set against the Confederacy. He came home with what
is called a broken heart--the dreams of a lifetime shattered--and, in a
kind of dazed stupor, laid himself down to die. With Richmond in flames and
the exultant shouts of the detested yet victorious Yankees in his ears, he
did die.

Wigfall survived but a few years. He was less a dreamer than Yancey. A man
big of brain and warm of heart he had gone from the ironclad provincialism
of South Carolina to the windswept vagaries of Texas. He believed wholly
the Yancey confession of faith; that secession was a constitutional right;
that African slavery was ordained of God; that the South was paramount,
the North inferior. Yet in worldly knowledge he had learned more than
Yancey--was an abler man than Jefferson Davis--and but for his affections
and generous habits he would have made a larger figure in the war, having
led the South's exit from the Senate.



VI


I do not think that either Hammond or Chestnut, the Senators from
South Carolina, both men of parts, had at bottom much belief in the
practicability of the Confederate movement. Neither had the Senators from
Arkansas and Alabama, nor Brown, of Mississippi, the colleague of Jefferson
Davis. Mason, of Virginia, a dogged old donkey, and Iverson, of Georgia,
another, were the kind of men whom Wigfall dominated.

One of the least confident of those who looked on and afterward fell in
line was the Vice President, John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky. He was the
Beau Sabreur among statesmen as Albert Sidney Johnston, among soldiers.
Never man handsomer in person or more winning in manners. Sprung from a
race of political aristocrats, he was born to early and shining success
in public life. Of moderate opinions, winning and prudent, wherever he
appeared he carried his audience with him. He had been elected on the
ticket with Buchanan to the second office under the Government, when he was
but five and thirty years of age. There was nothing for him to gain from
a division of the Union; the Presidency, perhaps, if the Union continued
undivided. But he could not resist the onrush of disunionism, went with
the South, which he served first in the field and later as Confederate
Secretary of War, and after a few years of self-imposed exile in Europe
returned to Kentucky to die at four and fifty, a defeated and disappointed
old man.

The adjoining state of Tennessee was represented in the Senate by one of
the most problematic characters in American history. With my father, who
remained his friend through life, he had entered the state legislature in
1835, and having served ten years in the lower House of Congress, and
four years as governor of Tennessee he came back in 1857 to the National
Capital, a member of the Upper House. He was Andrew Johnson.

I knew him from my childhood. Thrice that I can recall I saw him weep;
never did I see him laugh. Life had been very serious, albeit very
successful, to him. Of unknown parentage, the wife he had married before he
was one and twenty had taught him to read. Yet at six and twenty he was in
the Tennessee General Assembly and at four and thirty in Congress.

There was from first to last not a little about him to baffle conjecture.
I should call him a cross between Jack Cade and Aaron Burr. His sympathies
were easily stirred by rags in distress. But he was uncompromising in his
detestation of the rich. It was said that he hated "a biled shirt." He
would have nothing to do "with people who wore broadcloth," though he
carefully dressed himself. When, as governor of Tennessee, he came to
Nashville he refused many invitations to take his first New Year's dinner
with a party of toughs at the house of a river roustabout.

There was nothing of the tough about him, however. His language was careful
and exact. I never heard him utter an oath or tell a risqué story. He
passed quite fifteen years in Washington, a total abstainer from the use of
intoxicants. He fell into the occasional-drink habit during the dark days
of the War. But after some costly experience he dropped it and continued a
total abstainer to the end of his days.

He had, indeed, admirable self-control. I do not believe a more
conscientious man ever lived. His judgments were sometimes peculiar, but
they were upright and sincere, having reasons, which he could give with
power and effect, behind them. Yet was he a born politician, crafty to a
degree, and always successful, relying upon a popular following which never
failed him.

In 1860 he supported the quasi-secession Breckenridge and Lane Presidential
ticket, but in 1861 he stood true to the Union, retaining his seat in the
Senate until he was appointed military governor of Tennessee. Nominated for
Vice President on the ticket with Lincoln, in 1864, he was elected, and
upon the assassination of Lincoln succeeded to the Presidency. Having
served out his term as President he returned to Tennessee to engage in
the hottest kind of politics, and though at the outset defeated finally
regained his seat in the Senate of the United States.

He hated Grant with a holy hate. His first act on reëntering the Senate was
to deliver an implacably bitter speech against the President. It was his
last public appearance. He went thence to his home in East Tennessee,
gratified and happy, to die in a few weeks.



VII


There used to be a story about Raleigh, in North Carolina, where Andrew
Johnson was born, which whispered that he was a natural son of William
Ruffin, an eminent jurist in the earlier years of the nineteenth century.
It was analogous to the story that Lincoln was the natural son of various
paternities from time to time assigned to him. I had my share in running
that calumny to cover. It was a lie out of whole cloth with nothing
whatever to support or excuse it. I reached the bottom of it to discover
proof of its baselessness abundant and conclusive. In Johnson's case I take
it that the story had nothing other to rest on than the obscurity of his
birth and the quality of his talents. Late in life Johnson went to Raleigh
and caused to be erected a modest tablet over the spot pointed out as the
grave of his progenitor, saying, I was told by persons claiming to have
been present, "I place this stone over the last earthly abode of my alleged
father."

Johnson, in the saying of the countryside, "out-married himself." His wife
was a plain woman, but came of good family. One day, when a child, so the
legend ran, she saw passing through the Greenville street in which her
people lived, a woman, a boy and a cow, the boy carrying a pack over his
shoulder. They were obviously weary and hungry. Extreme poverty could
present no sadder picture. "Mother," cried the girl, "there goes the man I
am going to marry." She was thought to be in jest. But a few years later
she made her banter good and lived to see her husband President of the
United States and with him to occupy the White House at Washington.

Much has been written of the humble birth and iron fortune of Abraham
Lincoln. He had no such obstacles to overcome as either Andrew Jackson
or Andrew Johnson. Jackson, a prisoner of war, was liberated, a lad of
sixteen, from the British pen at Charleston, without a relative, a friend
or a dollar in the world, having to make his way upward through the most
aristocratic community of the country and the time. Johnson, equally
friendless and penniless, started as a poor tailor in a rustic village.
Lincoln must therefore, take third place among our self-made Presidents.
The Hanks family were not paupers. He had a wise and helpful stepmother. He
was scarcely worse off than most young fellows of his neighborhood, first
in Indiana and then in Illinois. On this side justice has never been
rendered to Jackson and Johnson. In the case of Jackson the circumstance
was forgotten, while Johnson too often dwelt upon it and made capital out
of it.

Under date of the 23rd of May, 1919, the Hon. Josephus Daniels, Secretary
of the Navy, writes me the following letter, which I violate no confidence
in reproducing in this connection:

MY DEAR MARSE HENRY:--

I can't tell you how much delight and pleasure your reminiscences in the
Saturday Evening Post have given me, as well as the many others who have
followed them, and I suppose you will put them in a volume when they are
finished, so that we may have the pleasure of reading them in connected
order.

As you know, I live in Raleigh and I was very much interested in your
article in the issue of April 5, 1919, with reference to Andrew Johnson, in
which you quote a story that "used to be current in Raleigh, that he was
the son of William Ruffin, an eminent jurist of the nineteenth century." I
had never heard this story, but the story that was gossiped there was that
he was the son of a certain Senator Haywood. I ran that story down and
found that it had no foundation whatever, because if he had been the son of
the Senator reputed to be his father, the Senator was of the age of twelve
years when Andrew Johnson was born.

My own information is, for I have made some investigation of it, that the
story about Andrew Johnson's having a father other than the husband of his
mother, is as wanting in foundation as the story about Abraham Lincoln.
You did a great service in running that down and exposing it, and I trust
before you finish your book that you will make further investigation and
be able to do a like service in repudiating the unjust, idle gossip with
reference to Andrew Johnson. In your article you say that persons who claim
to have been present when Johnson came to Raleigh and erected a monument
over the grave of his father, declare that Johnson said he placed this
stone over the last earthly abode of "my alleged father." That is one phase
of the gossip, and the other is that he said "my reputed father," both
equally false.

The late Mr. Pulaski Cowper, who was private secretary to Governor Bragg,
of our State, just prior to the war, and who was afterwards president of
our leading life insurance company, a gentleman of high character, and of
the best memory, was present at the time that Johnson made the address from
which you quote the rumor. Mr. Cowper wrote an article for The News and
Observer, giving the story and relating that Johnson said that "he was glad
to come to Raleigh to erect a tablet to his father." The truth is that
while his father was a man of little or no education, he held the position
of janitor at the State Capitol, and he was not wanting in qualities which
made him superior to his humble position. If he had been living in this day
he would have been given a lifesaving medal, for upon the occasion of a
picnic near Raleigh when the cry came that children were drowning he was
the first to leap in and endanger his life to save them.

Andrew Johnson's mother was related to the Chappell family, of which there
are a number of citizens of standing and character near Raleigh, several of
them having been ministers of the Gospel, and one at least having gained
distinction as a missionary in China.

I am writing you because I know that your story will be read and accepted
and I thought you would be glad to have this story, based upon a study and
investigation and personal knowledge of Mr. Cowper, whose character and
competency are well known in North Carolina.



Chapter the Seventh

    An Old Newspaper Rookery--Reactionary Sectionalism in Cincinnati and
    Louisville--_The Courier-Journal_



I


My dream of wealth through my commission on the Confederate cotton I was to
sell to English buyers was quickly shattered. The cotton was burned and I
found myself in the early spring of 1865 in the little village of Glendale,
a suburb of Cincinnati, where the future Justice Stanley Matthews had his
home. His wife was a younger sister of my mother. My grandmother was still
alive and lived with her daughter and son-in-law.

I was received with open arms. A few days later the dear old lady said to
me: "I suppose, my son, you are rather a picked bird after your adventures
in the South. You certainly need better clothing. I have some money in bank
and it is freely yours."

I knew that my Uncle Stanley had put her up to this, and out of sheer
curiosity I asked her how much she could let me have. She named what seemed
to me a stupendous sum. I thanked her, told her I had quite a sufficiency
for the time being, slipped into town and pawned my watch; that is, as I
made light of it afterward in order to escape the humiliation of borrowing
from an uncle whose politics I did not approve, I went with my collateral
to an uncle who had no politics at all and got fifty dollars on it! Before
the money was gone I had found, through Judge Matthews, congenial work.

There was in Cincinnati but one afternoon newspaper--the Evening
Times--owned by Calvin W. Starbuck. He had been a practical printer but was
grown very rich. He received me kindly, said the editorial force was quite
full--must always be, on a daily newspaper--"but," he added, "my brother,
Alexander Starbuck, who has been running the amusements, wants to go
a-fishing in Canada--to be gone a month--and, if you wish, you can during
his absence sub for him."

It was just to my hand and liking. Before Alexander Starbuck returned the
leading editor of the paper fell from a ferryboat crossing the Ohio River
and was drowned. The next day General Starbuck sent for me and offered me
the vacant place.

"Why, general," I said, "I am an outlawed man: I do not agree with your
politics. I do not see how I can undertake a place so conspicuous and
responsible."

He replied: "I propose to engage you as an editorial manager. It is as
if building a house you should be head carpenter, I the architect. The
difference in salary will be seventy-five dollars a week against fifteen
dollars a week."

I took the place.



II


The office of the Evening Times was a queer old curiosity shop. I set to
and turned it inside out. I had very pronounced journalistic notions of my
own and applied them in every department of the sleepy old money-maker. One
afternoon a week later I put forth a paper whose oldest reader could not
have recognized it. The next morning's Cincinnati Commercial contained a
flock of paragraphs to which the Chattanooga-Cincinnati-Rebel Evening Times
furnished the keynote.

They made funny reading, but they threw a dangerous flare upon my "past"
and put me at a serious disadvantage. It happened that when Artemus Ward
had been in town a fortnight before he gave me a dinner and had some of his
friends to meet me. Among these was a young fellow of the name of Halstead,
who, I was told, was the coming man on the Commercial.

Round to the Commercial office I sped, and being conducted to this person,
who received me very blandly, I said: "Mr. Halstead, I am a journeyman day
laborer in your city--the merest bird of passage, with my watch at the
pawnbroker's. As soon as I am able to get out of town I mean to go--and
I came to ask if you can think the personal allusions to me in to-day's
paper, which may lose me my job but can nowise hurt the Times, are quite
fair--even--since I am without defense--quite manly."

He looked at me with that quizzical, serio-comic stare which so became him,
and with great heartiness replied: "No--they were damned mean--though I
did not realize how mean. The mark was so obvious and tempting I could not
resist, but--there shall be no more of them. Come, let us go and have a
drink."

That was the beginning of a friendship which brought happiness to both of
us and lasted nearly half a century, to the hour of his death, when, going
from Louisville to Cincinnati, I helped to lay him away in Spring Grove
Cemetery.

I had no thought of remaining in Cincinnati. My objective was Nashville,
where the young woman who was to become my wife, and whom I had not seen
for nearly two years, was living with her family. During the summer Mr.
Francisco, the business manager of the Evening Times, had a scheme to buy
the Toledo Commercial, in conjunction with Mr. Comly, of Columbus, and to
engage me as editor conjointly with Mr. Harrison Gray Otis as publisher. It
looked very good. Toledo threatened Cleveland and Detroit as a lake port.
But nothing could divert me. As soon as Parson Brownlow, who was governor
of Tennessee and making things lively for the returning rebels, would
allow, I was going to Nashville.

About the time the way was cleared my two pals, or bunkies, of the
Confederacy, Albert Roberts and George Purvis, friends from boyhood, put
in an appearance. They were on their way to the capital of Tennessee. The
father of Albert Roberts was chief owner of the Republican Banner, an old
and highly respectable newspaper, which had for nearly four years lain in a
state of suspension. Their plan now was to revive its publication, Purvis
to be business manager, and Albert and I to be editors. We had no cash.
Nobody on our side of the line had any cash. But John Roberts owned a farm
he could mortgage for money enough to start us. What had I to say?

Less than a week later saw us back at home winnowing the town for
subscribers and advertising. We divided it into districts, each taking a
specified territory. The way we boys hustled was a sight to see. But the
way the community warmed to us was another. When the familiar headline,
The Republican Banner, made its appearance there was a popular hallelujah,
albeit there were five other dailies ahead of us. A year later there was
only one, and it was nowise a competitor.

Albert Roberts had left his girl, Edith Scott, the niece of Huxley, whom I
have before mentioned, in Montgomery, Alabama. Purvis' girl, Sophie Searcy,
was in Selma. Their hope was to have enough money by Christmas each to
pay a visit to those distant places. My girl was on the spot, and we had
resolved, money or no money, to be married without delay. Before New Year's
the three of us were wedded and comfortably settled, with funds galore, for
the paper had thrived consumingly. It had thrived so consumingly that after
a little I was able to achieve the wish of my heart and to go to London,
taking my wife and my "great American novel" with me. I have related
elsewhere what came of this and what happened to me.



III


That bread cast upon the waters--"'dough' put out at usance," as Joseph
Jefferson used to phrase it--shall return after many days has been I dare
say discovered by most persons who have perpetrated acts of kindness,
conscious or unconscious. There was a poor, broken-down English actor with
a passion for Chaucer, whom I was wont to encounter in the Library of
Congress. His voice was quite gone. Now and again I had him join me in a
square meal. Once in a while I paid his room rent. I was loath to leave him
when the break came in 1861, though he declared he had "expectations," and
made sure he would not starve.

I was passing through Regent Street in London, when a smart brougham drove
up to the curb and a wheezy voice called after me. It was my old friend,
Newton. His "expectations" had not failed him, he had come into a property
and was living in affluence.

He knew London as only a Bohemian native and to the manner born could know
it. His sense of bygone obligation knew no bounds. Between him and John
Mahoney and Artemus Ward I was made at home in what might be called the
mysteries and eccentricities of differing phases of life in the British
metropolis not commonly accessible to the foreign casual. In many after
visits this familiar knowledge has served me well. But Newton did not live
to know of some good fortune that came to me and to feel my gratitude to
him, as dear old John Mahoney did. When I was next in London he was gone.

It was not, however, the actor, Newton, whom I had in mind in offering a
bread-upon-the-water moral, but a certain John Hatcher, the memory of whom
in my case illustrates it much better. He was a wit and a poet. He had been
State Librarian of Tennessee. Nothing could keep him out of the service,
though he was a sad cripple and wholly unequal to its requirements. He fell
ill. I had the opportunity to care for him. When the war was over his old
friend, George D. Prentice, called him to Louisville to take an editorial
place on the Journal.

About the same time Mr. Walter Haldeman returned from the South and resumed
the suspended publication of the Louisville Courier. He was in the prime of
life, a man of surpassing energy, enterprise and industry, and had with
him the popular sympathy. Mr. Prentice was nearly three score and ten. The
stream had passed him by. The Journal was not only beginning to feel the
strain but was losing ground. In this emergency Hatcher came to the rescue.
I was just back from London and was doing noticeable work on the Nashville
Banner.

"Here is your man," said Hatcher to Mr. Prentice and Mr. Henderson, the
owners of the Journal; and I was invited to come to Louisville.

After I had looked over the field and inspected the Journal's books I was
satisfied that a union with the Courier was the wisest solution of the
newspaper situation, and told them so. Meanwhile Mr. Haldeman, whom I had
known in the Confederacy, sent for me. He offered me the same terms for
part ownership and sole editorship of the Courier, which the Journal people
had offered me. This I could not accept, but proposed as an alternative the
consolidation of the two on an equal basis. He was willing enough for the
consolidation, but not on equal terms. There was nothing for it but a
fight. I took the Journal and began to hammer the Courier.

A dead summer was before us, but Mr. Henderson had plenty of money and was
willing to spend it. During the contest not an unkind word was printed on
either side. After stripping the Journal to its heels it had very little
to go on or to show for what had once been a prosperous business. But
circulation flowed in. From eighteen hundred daily it quickly mounted to
ten thousand; from fifteen hundred weekly to fifty thousand. The middle of
October it looked as if we had a straight road before us.

But I knew better. I had discovered that the field, no matter how worked,
was not big enough to support two rival dailies. There was toward the last
of October on the edge of town a real-estate sale which Mr. Haldeman and I
attended. Here was my chance for a play. I must have bid up to a hundred
thousand dollars and did actually buy nearly ten thousand dollars of the
lots put up at auction, relying upon some money presently coming to my
wife.

I could see that it made an impression on Mr. Haldeman. Returning in the
carriage which had brought us out I said: "Mr. Haldeman, I am going to ruin
you. But I am going to run up a money obligation to Isham Henderson I shall
never be able to discharge. You need an editor. I need a publisher. Let
us put these two newspapers together, buy the Democrat, and, instead of
cutting one another's throats, go after Cincinnati and St. Louis. You will
recall that I proposed this to you in the beginning. What is the matter
with it now?"

Nothing was the matter with it. He agreed at once. The details were soon
adjusted. Ten days later there appeared upon the doorsteps of the city in
place of the three familiar visitors, a double-headed stranger, calling
itself the Courier-Journal. Our exclusive possession of the field thus
acquired lasted two years. At the end of these we found that at least the
appearance of competition was indispensable and willingly accepted an offer
from a proposed Republican organ for a division of the Press dispatches
which we controlled. Then and there the real prosperity of the
Courier-Journal began, the paper having made no money out of its monopoly.



IV


Reconstruction, as it was called--ruin were a fitter name for it--had just
begun. The South was imprisoned, awaiting the executioner. The Constitution
of the United States hung in the balance. The Federal Union faced the
threat of sectional despotism. The spirit of the time was martial law. The
gospel of proscription ruled in Congress. Radicalism, vitalized by the
murder of Abraham Lincoln and inflamed by the inadequate effort of Andrew
Johnson to carry out the policies of Lincoln, was in the saddle riding
furiously toward a carpetbag Poland and a negroized Ireland.

The Democratic Party, which, had it been stronger, might have interposed,
lay helpless. It, too, was crushed to earth. Even the Border States, which
had not been embraced by the military agencies and federalized machinery
erected over the Gulf States, were seriously menaced. Never did newspaper
enterprise set out under gloomier auspices.

There was a party of reaction in Kentucky, claiming to be Democratic,
playing to the lead of the party of repression at the North. It refused to
admit that the head of the South was in the lion's mouth and that the first
essential was to get it out. The Courier-Journal proposed to stroke the
mane, not twist the tail of the lion. Thus it stood between two fires.
There arose a not unnatural distrust of the journalistic monopoly created
by the consolidation of the three former dailies into a single newspaper,
carrying an unfamiliar hyphenated headline. Touching its policy of
sectional conciliation it picked its way perilously through the cross
currents of public opinion. There was scarcely a sinister purpose that was
not alleged against it by its enemies; scarcely a hostile device that was
not undertaken to put it down and drive it out.

Its constituency represented an unknown quantity. In any event it had to be
created. Meanwhile, it must rely upon its own resources, sustained by the
courage of the venture, by the integrity of its convictions and aims, and
by faith in the future of the city, the state and the country.

Still, to be precise, it was the morning of Sunday, November 8,1868.
The night before the good people of Louisville had gone to bed expecting
nothing unusual to happen. They awoke to encounter an uninvited guest
arrived a little before the dawn. No hint of its coming had got abroad;
and thus the surprise was the greater. Truth to say, it was not a pleased
surprise, because, as it flared before the eye of the startled citizen in
big Gothic letters, The Courier-Journal, there issued thence an aggressive
self-confidence which affronted the _amour propre_ of the sleepy
villagers. They were used to a very different style of newspaper approach.

Nor was the absence of a timorous demeanor its only offense. The Courier
had its partisans, the Journal and the Democrat had their friends. The trio
stood as ancient landmarks, as recognized and familiar institutions. Here
was a double-headed monster which, without saying "by your leave" or "blast
your eyes" or any other politeness, had taken possession of each man's
doorstep, looking very like it had brought its knitting and was come to
stay.

The Journal established by Mr. Prentice, the Courier by Mr. Haldeman and
the Democrat by Mr. Harney, had been according to the standards of those
days successful newspapers. But the War of Sections had made many changes.
At its close new conditions appeared on every side. A revolution had come
into the business and the spirit of American journalism.

In Louisville three daily newspapers had for a generation struggled for
the right of way. Yet Louisville was a city of the tenth or twelfth class,
having hardly enough patronage to sustain one daily newspaper of the first
or second class. The idea of consolidating the three thus contending to
divide a patronage so insufficient, naturally suggested itself during the
years immediately succeeding the war. But it did not take definite shape
until 1868.

Mr. Haldeman had returned from a somewhat picturesque and not altogether
profitable pursuit of his "rights in the territories" and had resumed the
suspended publication of the Courier with encouraging prospects. I had
succeeded Mr. Prentice in the editorship and part ownership of the Journal.
Both Mr. Haldeman and I were newspaper men to the manner born and bred;
old and good friends; and after our rivalry of six months maintained with
activity on both sides, but without the publication of an unkind word on
either, a union of forces seemed exigent. To practical men the need of this
was not a debatable question. All that was required was an adjustment of
the details. Beginning with the simple project of joining the Courier and
the Journal, it ended by the purchase of the Democrat, which it did not
seem safe to leave outside.



V


The political conditions in Kentucky were anomalous. The Republican Party
had not yet definitely taken root. Many of the rich old Whigs, who had held
to the Government--to save their slaves--resenting Lincoln's Emancipation
Proclamation, had turned Democrats. Most of the before-the-war Democrats
had gone with the Confederacy. The party in power called itself Democratic,
but was in fact a body of reactionary nondescripts claiming to be Unionists
and clinging, or pretending to cling, to the hard-and-fast prejudices of
other days.

The situation may be the better understood when I add that "negro
testimony"--the introduction to the courts of law of the newly made
freedmen as witnesses--barred by the state constitution, was the burning
issue. A murder committed in the presence of a thousand negroes could not
be lawfully proved in court. Everything from a toothbrush to a cake of
soap might be cited before a jury, but not a human being if his skin
happened to be black.

[Illustration: Mr. Watterson's Editorial Staff in 1868, When the
Three Daily Newspapers of Louisville Were United into the
"_Courier-Journal_." Mr. George D. Prentice and Mr. Watterson Are in
the Center.]

To my mind this was monstrous. From my cradle I had detested slavery. The
North will never know how many people at the South did so. I could not go
with the Republican Party, however, because after the death of Abraham
Lincoln it had intrenched itself in the proscription of Southern men. The
attempt to form a third party had shown no strength and had broken down.
There was nothing for me, and the Confederates who were with me, but
the ancient label of a Democracy worn by a riffraff of opportunists,
Jeffersonian principles having quite gone to seed. But I proposed to
lead and reform it, not to follow and fall in behind the selfish and
short-sighted time servers who thought the people had learned nothing and
forgot nothing; and instant upon finding myself in the saddle I sought
to ride down the mass of ignorance which was at least for the time being
mainly what I had to look to for a constituency.

Mr. Prentice, who knew the lay of the ground better than I did, advised
against it. The personal risk counted for something. Very early in the
action I made a direct fighting issue, which--the combat interdicted--gave
me the opportunity to declare--with something of the bully in the
tone--that I might not be able to hit a barn door at ten paces, but could
shoot with any man in Kentucky across a pocket handkerchief, holding myself
at all times answerable and accessible. I had a fairly good fighting record
in the army and it was not doubted that I meant what I said.

But it proved a bitter, hard, uphill struggle, for a long while against
odds, before negro testimony was carried. A generation of politicians were
sent to the rear. Finally, in 1876, a Democratic State Convention put its
mark upon me as a Democrat by appointing me a Delegate at large to the
National Democratic Convention of that year called to meet at St. Louis to
put a Presidential ticket in the field.

The Courier-Journal having come to represent all three of the English
dailies of the city the public began to rebel. It could not see that
instead of three newspapers of the third or fourth class Louisville was
given one newspaper of the first class; that instead of dividing
the local patronage in three inadequate portions, wasted upon a triple
competition, this patronage was combined, enabling the one newspaper to
engage in a more equal competition with the newspapers of such rival and
larger cities as Cincinnati and St. Louis; and that one of the contracting
parties needing an editor, the other a publisher, in coming together the
two were able to put their trained faculties to the best account.

Nevertheless, during thirty-five years Mr. Haldeman and I labored side by
side, not the least difference having arisen between us. The attacks to
which we were subjected from time to time drew us together the closer.
These attacks were sometimes irritating and sometimes comical, but they had
one characteristic feature: Each started out apparently under a high state
of excitement. Each seemed to have some profound cause of grief, to be
animated by implacable hate and to aim at nothing short of annihilation.
Frequently the assailants would lie in wait to see how the
Courier-Journal's cat was going to jump, in order that they might take
the other side; and invariably, even if the Courier-Journal stood for
the reforms they affected to stand for, they began a system of
misrepresentation and abuse. In no instance did they attain any success.

Only once, during the Free Silver craze of 1896, and the dark and tragic
days that followed it the three or four succeeding years, the paper having
stood, as it had stood during the Greenback craze, for sound money, was
the property in danger. It cost more of labor and patience to save it from
destruction than it had cost to create it thirty years before. Happily Mr.
Haldeman lived to see the rescue complete, the tide turned and the future
safe.



VI


A newspaper, like a woman, must not only be honest, but must seem to be
honest; acts of levity, loose unbecoming expressions or behavior--though
never so innocent--tending in the one and in the other to lower reputation
and discredit character. During my career I have proceeded under a
confident belief in this principle of newspaper ethics and an unfailing
recognition of its mandates. I truly believe that next after business
integrity in newspaper management comes disinterestedness in the public
service, and next after disinterestedness come moderation and intelligence,
cleanliness and good feeling, in dealing with affairs and its readers.

From that blessed Sunday morning, November 8, 1868, to this good day, I
have known no other life and had no other aim. Those were indeed parlous
times. It was an era of transition. Upon the field of battle, after four
years of deadly but unequal combat, the North had vanquished the South.
The victor stood like a giant, with blood aflame, eyes dilate and hands
uplifted again to strike. The victim lay prostrate. Save self-respect and
manhood all was lost. Clasping its memories to its bosom the South sank
helpless amid the wreck of its fortunes, whilst the North, the benign
influence of the great Lincoln withdrawn, proceeded to decide its fate. To
this ghastly end had come slavery and secession, and all the pomp, pride
and circumstance of the Confederacy. To this bitter end had come the
soldiership of Lee and Jackson and Johnston and the myriads of brave men
who followed them.

The single Constitutional barrier that had stood between the people of the
stricken section and political extinction was about to be removed by the
exit of Andrew Johnson from the White House. In his place a man of blood
and iron--for such was the estimate at that time placed upon Grant--had
been elected President. The Republicans in Congress, checked for a time
by Johnson, were at length to have entire sway under Thaddeus Stevens.
Reconstruction was to be thorough and merciless. To meet these conditions
was the first requirement of the Courier-Journal, a newspaper conducted by
outlawed rebels and published on the sectional border line. The task was
not an easy one.

There is never a cause so weak that it does not stir into ill-timed
activity some wild, unpractical zealots who imagine it strong. There is
never a cause so just but that the malevolent and the mercenary will seek
to trade upon it. The South was helpless; the one thing needful was to get
it on its feet, and though the bravest and the wisest saw this plainly
enough there came to the front--particularly in Kentucky--a small but noisy
body of politicians who had only worked themselves into a state of war when
it was too late, and who with more or less of aggression, insisted that
"the states lately in rebellion" still had rights, which they were able to
maintain and which the North could be forced to respect.

I was of a different opinion. It seemed to me that whatever of right might
exist the South was at the mercy of the North; that the radical party led
by Stevens and Wade dominated the North and could dictate its own terms;
and that the shortest way round lay in that course which was best
calculated to disarm radicalism by an intelligent appeal to the business
interests and conservative elements of Northern society, supported by a
domestic policy of justice alike to whites and blacks.

Though the institution of African slavery was gone the negro continued the
subject of savage contention. I urged that he be taken out of the arena of
agitation, and my way of taking him out was to concede him his legal and
civil rights. The lately ratified Constitutional Amendments, I contended,
were the real Treaty of Peace between the North and South. The recognition
of these Amendments in good faith by the white people of the South was
indispensable to that perfect peace which was desired by the best people of
both sections. The political emancipation of the blacks was essential to
the moral emancipation of the whites. With the disappearence of the negro
question as cause of agitation, I argued, radicalism of the intense,
proscriptive sort would die out; the liberty-loving, patriotic people of
the North would assert themselves; and, this one obstacle to a better
understanding removed, the restoration of Constitutional Government would
follow, being a matter of momentous concern to the body of the people both
North and South.

Such a policy of conciliation suited the Southern extremists as little as
it suited the Northern extremists. It took from the politicians their best
card. South no less than North, "the bloody shirt" was trumps. It could
always be played. It was easy to play it and it never failed to catch the
unthinking and to arouse the excitable. What cared the perennial candidate
so he got votes enough? What cared the professional agitator so his appeals
to passion brought him his audience?

It is a fact that until Lamar delivered his eulogy on Sumner not a Southern
man of prominence used language calculated to placate the North, and
between Lamar and Grady there was an interval of fifteen years. There was
not a Democratic press worthy the name either North or South. During those
evil days the Courier-Journal stood alone, having no party or organized
following. At length it was joined on the Northern side by Greeley. Then
Schurz raised his mighty voice. Then came the great liberal movement of
1871-72, with its brilliant but ill-starred campaign and its tragic finale;
and then there set in what, for a season, seemed the deluge.

But the cause of Constitutional Government was not dead. It had been merely
dormant. Champions began to appear in unexpected quarters. New men spoke
up, North and South. In spite of the Republican landslide of 1872, in 1874
the Democrats swept the Empire State. They carried the popular branch of
Congress by an overwhelming majority. In the Senate they had a respectable
minority, with Thurman and Bayard to lead it. In the House Randall and Kerr
and Cox, Lamar, Beck and Knott were about to be reënforced by Hill and
Tucker and Mills and Gibson. The logic of events was at length subduing the
rodomontade of soap-box oratory. Empty rant was to yield to reason. For all
its mischances and melancholy ending the Greeley campaign had shortened the
distance across the bloody chasm.



Chapter the Eighth

    Feminism and Woman Suffrage--The Adventures in Politics and Society--A
    Real Heroine



I


It would not be the writer of this narrative if he did not interject
certain opinions of his own which parties and politicians, even his
newspaper colleagues, have been wont to regard as peculiar. By common
repute he has been an all-round old-line Democrat of the regulation sort.
Yet on the three leading national questions of the last fifty years--the
Negro question, the Greenback question and the Free Silver question--he has
challenged and antagonized the general direction of that party. He takes
some pride to himself that in each instance the result vindicated alike his
forecast and his insubordination.

To one who witnessed the break-up of the Whig party in 1853 and of the
Democratic Party in 1860 the plight in which parties find themselves at
this time may be described as at least, suggestive. The feeling is at once
to laugh and to whistle. Too much "fuss and feathers" in Winfield Scott did
the business for the Whigs. Too much "bearded lady" in Charles Evans Hughes
perhaps cooked the goose of the Republicans. Too much Wilson--but let me
not fall into _lèse majesté_. The Whigs went into Know-Nothingism and
Free Soilism. Will the Democrats go into Prohibition and paternalism? And
the Republicans--

The old sectional alignment of North and South has been changed to East and
West.

For the time being the politicians of both parties are in something of a
funk. It is the nature of parties thus situate to fancy that there is no
hereafter, riding in their dire confusion headlong for a fall. Little other
than the labels being left, nobody can tell what will happen to either.

Progressivism seems the cant of the indifferent. Accentuated by the
indecisive vote in the elections and heralded by an ambitious President who
writes Humanity bigger than he writes the United States, and is accused
of aspiring to world leadership, democracy unterrified and undefiled--the
democracy of Jefferson, Jackson and Tilden ancient history--has become
a back number. Yet our officials still swear to a Constitution. We have not
eliminated state lines. State rights are not wholly dead.

The fight between capital and labor is on. No one can predict where it
will end. Shall it prove another irrepressible conflict? Are its issues
irreconcilable? Must the alternative of the future lie between Socialism
and Civil War, or both? Progress! Progress! Shall there be no stability in
either actualities or principles? And--and--what about the Bolsheviki?



II


Parties, like men, have their ups and downs. Like machines they get out of
whack and line. First it was the Federalists, then the Whigs, and then the
Democrats. Then came the Republicans. And then, after a long interruption,
the Democrats again. English political experience repeats itself in
America.

A taking label is as valuable to a party as it is to a nostrum. It becomes
in time an asset. We are told that a fool is born every minute, and, the
average man being something of a fool, the label easily catches him. Hence
the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

The old Whig Party went to pieces on the rocks of sectionalism. The
institution of African slavery arrived upon the scene at length as the
paramount political issue. The North, which brought the Africans here in
its ships, finding slave labor unprofitable, sold its slaves to the South
at a good price, and turned pious. The South took the bait and went crazy.

Finally, we had a pretty kettle of fish. Just as the Prohibitionists are
going to convert mortals into angels overnight by act of assembly--or still
better, by Constitutional amendment--were the short-haired women and the
long-haired men of Boston going to make a white man out of the black man by
Abolition. The Southern Whigs could not see it and would not stand for it.
So they fell in behind the Democrats. The Northern Whigs, having nowhere
else to go, joined the Republicans.

The wise men of both sections saw danger ahead. The North was warned that
the South would fight, the South, that if it did it went against incredible
odds. Neither would take the warning. Party spirit ran wild. Extremism had
its fling. Thus a long, bloody and costly War of Sections--a fraternal
war if ever there was one--brought on by alternating intolerance, the
politicians of both sides gambling upon the credulity and ignorance of the
people.

Hindsight is readier, certainly surer, than foresight. It comes easier and
shows clearer. Anybody can now see that the slavery problem might have had
a less ruinous solution; that the moral issue might have been compromised
from time to time and in the end disposed of. Slave labor even at the South
had shown itself illusory, costly and clumsy. The institution untenable,
modern thought against it, from the first it was doomed.

But the extremists would not have it. Each played to the lead of the other.
Whilst Wendell Phillips was preaching the equality of races, death to the
slaveholders and the brotherhood of man at the North, William Lowndes
Yancey was exclaiming that cotton was king at the South, and, to establish
these false propositions, millions of good Americans proceeded to cut one
another's throats.

There were agitators and agitators in those days as there are in these. The
agitator, like the poor, we have always with us. It used to be said even at
the North that Wendell Phillips was just a clever comedian. William Lowndes
Yancey was scarcely that. He was a serious, sincere, untraveled provincial,
possessing unusual gifts of oratory. He had the misfortune to kill a friend
in a duel when a young man, and the tragedy shadowed his life. He clung to
his plantation and rarely went away from home. When sent to Europe by the
South as its Ambassador in 1861, he discovered the futility of his scheme
of a Southern confederacy, and, seeing the cornerstone of the philosophy
on which he had constructed his pretty fabric, overthrown, he came home
despairing, to die of a broken heart.

The moral alike for governments and men is: Keep the middle of the road.



III


Which brings us to Feminism. I will not write Woman Suffrage, for that is
an accomplished fact--for good or evil we shall presently be better able to
determine.

Life is an adventure and all of us adventurers--saving that the word
presses somewhat harder upon the woman than the man--most things do in
fact, whereby she is given greater endurance--leaving to men the duty of
caring for the women; and, if need be, looking death squarely and defiantly
in the face.

The world often puts the artificial before the actual; but under the
dispensation of the Christian civilization--derived from the Hebraic--the
family requiring a head, headship is assigned to the male. This male is
commonly not much to speak of for beauty of form or decency of behavior.
He is made purposely tough for work and fight. He gets toughened by outer
contact. But back of all are the women, the children and the home.

I have been fighting the woman's battle for equality in the things that
count, all my life. I would despise myself if I had not been. In contesting
precipitate universal suffrage for women, I conceived that I was still
fighting the woman's battle.

We can escape none of Nature's laws. But we need not handicap ourselves
with artificial laws. At best, life is an experiment, Death the final
adventure. Feminism seems to me its next of kin; still we may not call the
woman who assails the soap boxes--even those that antic about the White
House gates--by the opprobrious terms of adventuress. Where such a one is
not a lunatic she is a nuisance. There are women and women.

We may leave out of account the shady ladies of history. Neither Aspasia
nor Lucrezia Borgia nor the Marquise de Brinvilliers could with accuracy
be called an adventuress. The term is of later date. Its origin and growth
have arisen out of the complexities of modern society.

In fiction Milady and Madame Marneffe come in for first honors--in each the
leopard crossed on the serpent and united under a petticoat, beautiful
and wicked--but since the Balzac and Dumas days the story-tellers and
stage-mongers have made exceeding free with the type, and we have between
Herman Merivale's Stephanie de Mohrivart and Victorien Sardou's Zica a
very theater--or shall we say a charnel house--of the woman with the past;
usually portrayed as the victim of circumstance; unprincipled through cruel
experience; insensible through lack of conscience; sexless in soul, but
a siren in seductive arts; cold as ice; hard as iron; implacable as the
grave, pursuing her ends with force of will, intellectual audacity and
elegance of manner, yet, beneath this brilliant depravity, capable of
self-pity, yielding anon in moments of depression to a sudden gleam of
human tenderness and a certain regret for the innocence she has lost.

Such a one is sometimes, though seldom, met in real life. But many
pretenders may be encountered at Monte Carlo and other European resorts.
They range from the Parisian cocotte, signalized by her chic apparel, to
the fashionable divorcée who in trying her luck at the tables keeps a sharp
lookout for the elderly gent with the wad, often fooled by the enterprising
sport who has been there before.

These are out and out professional adventuresses. There are other
adventuresses, however, than those of the story and the stage, the casino
and the cabaret. The woman with the past becomes the girl with the future.

Curiously enough this latter is mainly, almost exclusively, recruited
from our countrywomen, who to an abnormal passion for foreign titles join
surpassing ignorance of foreign society. Thus she is ready to the hand of
the Continental fortune seeker masquerading as a nobleman--occasionally but
not often the black sheep of some noble family--carrying not a bona fide
but a courtesy title--the count and the no-account, the lord and the Lord
knows who! The Yankee girl with a _dot_ had become before the world
war a regular quarry for impecunious aristocrats and clever crooks, the
matrimonial results tragic in their frequency and squalor.

Another curious circumstance is the readiness with which the American
newspaper tumbles to these frauds. The yellow press especially luxuriates
in them; woodcuts the callow bedizened bride, the jaded game-worn groom;
dilates upon the big money interchanged; glows over the tin-plate stars
and imaginary garters and pinchbeck crowns; and keeping the pictorial
paraphernalia in cold but not forgotten storage waits for the inevitable
scandal, and then, with lavish exaggeration, works the old story over
again.

These newspapers ring all the sensational changes. Now it is the wondrous
beauty with the cool million, who, having married some illegitimate of
a minor royal house, will probably be the next Queen of Rigmarolia, and
now--ever increasing the dose--it is the ten-million-dollar widow who is
going to marry the King of Pontarabia's brother, and may thus aspire to be
one day Empress of Sahara.

Old European travelers can recall many funny and sometimes melancholy
incidents--episodes--histories--of which they have witnessed the
beginning and the end, carrying the self-same dénouement and lesson.



IV


As there are women and women there are many kinds of adventuresses; not all
of them wicked and detestable. But, good or bad, the lot of the adventuress
is at best a hard lot. Be she a girl with a future or a woman with a past
she is still a woman, and the world can never be too kind to its women--the
child bearers, the home makers, the moral light of the universe as they
meet the purpose of God and Nature and seek not to thwart it by unsexing
themselves in order that they may keep step with man in ways of
self-indulgent dalliance. The adventuress of fiction always comes to grief.
But the adventuress in real life--the prudent adventuress who draws the
line at adultery--the would-be leader of society without the wealth--the
would-be political leader without the masculine fiber--is sure of
disappointment in the end.

Take the agitation over Suffragism. What is it that the woman suffragette
expects to get? No one of them can, or does, clearly tell us.

It is feminism, rather than suffragism, which is dangerous. Now that they
have it, my fear is that the leaders will not stop with the ballot for
women. They are too fond of the spotlight. It has become a necessity for
them. If all women should fall in with them there would be nothing of
womanhood left, and the world bereft of its women will become a masculine
harlotocracy.

Let me repeat that I have been fighting woman's battles in one way and
another all my life. I am not opposed to Votes for Women. But I would
discriminate and educate, and even at that rate I would limit the franchise
to actual taxpayers, and, outside of these, confine it to charities,
corrections and schools, keeping woman away from the dirt of politics. I do
not believe the ballot will benefit woman and cannot help thinking that in
seeking unlimited and precipitate suffrage the women who favor it are off
their reckoning! I doubt the performances got up to exploit it, though
somehow, when the hikers started from New York to Albany, and afterward
from New York to Washington, the inspiring thought of Bertha von Hillern
came back to me.

I am sure the reader never heard of her. As it makes a pretty story let me
tell it. Many years ago--don't ask me how many--there was a young woman,
Bertha von Hillern by name, a poor art student seeking money enough to take
her abroad, who engaged with the management of a hall in Louisville to walk
one hundred miles around a fixed track in twenty-four consecutive hours.
She did it. Her share of the gate money, I was told, amounted to three
thousand dollars.

I shall never forget the closing scenes of the wondrous test of courage and
endurance. She was a pretty, fair-haired thing, a trifle undersized, but
shapely and sinewy. The vast crowd that without much diminution, though
with intermittent changes, had watched her from start to finish, began to
grow tense with the approach to the end, and the last hour the enthusiasm
was overwhelming. Wave upon wave of cheering followed every footstep of the
plucky girl, rising to a storm of exultation as the final lap was reached.

More dead than alive, but game to the core, the little heroine was carried
off the field, a winner, every heart throbbing with human sympathy, every
eye wet with proud and happy tears. It is not possible adequately to
describe all that happened. One must have been there and seen it fully to
comprehend the glory of it.

Touching the recent Albany and Washington hikes and hikers let me say at
once that I cannot approve the cause of Votes for women as I had approved
the cause of Bertha von Hillern. Where she showed heroic, most of the
suffragettes appear to me grotesque. Where her aim was rational, their aim
has been visionary. To me the younger of them seem as children who need
to be spanked and kissed. There has been indeed about the whole Suffrage
business something pitiful and comic.

Often I have felt like swearing "You idiots!" and then like crying
"Poor dears!" But I have kept on with them, and had I been in Albany or
Washington I would have caught Rosalie Jones in my arms, and before she
could say "Jack Robinson" have exclaimed: "You ridiculous child, go and get
a bath and put on some pretty clothes and come and join us at dinner in
the State Banquet Hall, duly made and provided for you and the rest of you
delightful sillies."



Chapter the Ninth

    Dr. Norvin Green--Joseph Pulitzer--Chester A. Arthur--General
    Grant--The Case of Fitz-John Porter



I


Truth we are told is stranger than fiction. I have found it so in the
knowledge which has variously come to me of many interesting men and women.
Of these Dr. Norvin Green was a striking example. To have sprung from
humble parentage in the wilds of Kentucky and to die at the head of the
most potential corporation in the world--to have held this place against
all comers by force of abilities deemed indispensable to its welfare--to
have gone the while his ain gait, disdaining the precepts of Doctor
Franklin--who, by the way, did not trouble overmuch to follow them
himself--seems so unusual as to rival the most stirring stories of the
novel mongers.

When I first met Doctor Green he was president of a Kentucky railway
company. He had been, however, one of the organizers of the Western Union
Telegraph Company. He deluded himself for a little by political ambitions.
He wanted to go to the Senate of the United States, and during a
legislative session of prolonged balloting at Frankfort he missed his
election by a single vote.

It may be doubted whether he would have cut a considerable figure at
Washington. His talents were constructive rather than declamatory. He was
called to a greater field--though he never thought it so--and was foremost
among those who developed the telegraph system of the country almost from
its infancy. He possessed the daring of the typical Kentuckian, with the
dead calm of the stoic philosopher; imperturbable; never vexed or querulous
or excited; denying himself none of the indulgences of the gentleman of
leisure. We grew to be constant comrades and friends, and when he returned
to New York to take the important post which to the end of his days he
filled so completely his office in the Western Union Building became my
downtown headquarters.

There I met Jay Gould familiarly; and resumed acquaintance with Russell
Sage, whom I had known when a lad in Washington, he a hayseed member of
Congress; and occasionally other of the Wall Street leaders. In a small
way--though not for long--I caught the stock-gambling fever. But I was on
the "inside," and it was a cold day when I did not "clean up" a goodly
amount to waste uptown in the evening. I may say that I gave this over
through sheer disgust of acquiring so much and such easy and useless
money, for, having no natural love of money--no aptitude for making money
breed--no taste for getting it except to spend it--earning by my own
accustomed and fruitful toil always a sufficiency--the distractions and
dissipations it brought to my annual vacations and occasional visits,
affronted in a way my self-respect, and palled upon my rather eager quest
of pleasure. Money is purely relative. The root of all evil, too. Too much
of it may bring ills as great as not enough.

At the outset of my stock-gambling experience I was one day in the office
of President Edward H. Green, of the Louisville and Nashville Railway, no
relation of Dr. Norvin Green, but the husband of the famous Hetty Green. He
said to me, "How are you in stocks?"

"What do you mean?" said I.

"Why," he said, "do you buy long, or short? Are you lucky or unlucky?"

"You are talking Greek to me," I answered.

"Didn't you ever put up any money on a margin?"

"Never."

"Bless me! You are a virgin. I want to try your luck. Look over this stock
list and pick a stock. I will take a crack at it. All I make we'll divide,
and all we lose I'll pay."

"Will you leave this open for an hour or two?"

"What is the matter with it--is it not liberal enough?"

"The matter is that I am going over to the Western Union to lunch. The
Gould party is to sit in with the Orton-Green party for the first time
after their fight, and I am asked especially to be there. I may pick up
something."

Big Green, as he was called, paused a moment reflectively. "I don't want
any tip--especially from that bunch," said he. "I want to try your virgin
luck. But, go ahead, and let me know this afternoon."

At luncheon I sat at Doctor Green's right, Jay Gould at his left. For the
first and last time in its history wine was served at this board; Russell
Sage was effusive in his demonstrations of affection and went on with his
stories of my boyhood; every one sought to take the chill off the occasion;
and we had a most enjoyable time instead of what promised to be rather a
frosty formality. When the rest had departed, leaving Doctor Green, Mr.
Gould and myself at table, mindful of what I had come for, in a bantering
way I said to Doctor Green: "Now that I am a Wall Street ingénu, why don't
you tell me something?"

Gould leaned across the table and said in his velvet voice: "Buy Texas
Pacific."

Two or three days after, Texas Pacific fell off sixty points or more. I did
not see Big Green again. Five or six months later I received from him a
statement of account which I could never have unraveled, with a check
for some thousands of dollars, my one-half profit on such and such an
operation. Texas Pacific had come back again.

Two or three years later I sat at Doctor Green's table with Mr. Gould, just
as we had sat the first day. Mr. Gould recalled the circumstance.

"I did not think I could afford to have you lose on my suggestion and I
went to cover your loss, when I found five thousand shares of Texas Pacific
transferred on the books of the company in your name. I knew these could
not be yours. I thought the buyer was none other than the man I was after,
and I began hammering the stock. I have been curious ever since to make
sure whether I was right."

"Whom did you suspect, Mr. Gould?" I asked.

"My suspect was Victor Newcomb," he replied.

I then told him what had happened. "Dear, dear," he cried. "Ned Green! Big
Green. Well, well! You do surprise me. I would rather have done him a favor
than an injury. I am rejoiced to learn that no harm was done and that,
after all, you and he came out ahead."

It was about this time Jay Gould had bought of the Thomas A. Scott estate a
New York daily newspaper which, in spite of brilliant writers like Manton
Marble and William Henry Hurlbut, had never been a moneymaker. This was the
_World_. He offered me the editorship with forty-nine of the hundred
shares of stock on very easy terms, which nowise tempted me. But two or
three years after, I daresay both weary and hopeless of putting up so much
money on an unyielding investment, he was willing to sell outright, and
Joseph Pulitzer became the purchaser.

His career is another illustration of the saying that truth is stranger
than fiction.



II


Joseph Pulitzer and I came together familiarly at the Liberal Republican
Convention, which met at Cincinnati in 1872--the convocation of cranks,
as it was called--and nominated Horace Greeley for President. He was a
delegate from Missouri. Subsequent events threw us much together. He began
his English newspaper experience after a kind of apprenticeship on a German
daily with Stilson Hutchins, another interesting character of those days.
It was from Stilson Hutchins that I learned something of Pulitzer's origin
and beginnings, for he never spoke much of himself.

According to this story he was the offspring of a runaway marriage between
a subaltern officer in the Austrian service and a Hungarian lady of noble
birth. In some way he had got across the Atlantic, and being in Boston, a
wizened youth not speaking a word of English, he was spirited on board a
warship. Watching his chance of escape he leaped overboard in the darkness
of night, though it was the dead of winter, and swam ashore. He was found
unconscious on the beach by some charitable persons, who cared for him.
Thence he tramped it to St. Louis, where he heard there was a German
colony, and found work on a coal barge.

It was here that the journalistic instinct dawned upon him. He began to
carry river news items to the Westliche Post, which presently took him on
its staff of regular reporters.

The rest was easy. He learned to speak and write English, was transferred
to the paper of which Hutchins was the head, and before he was
five-and-twenty became a local figure.

When he turned up in New York with an offer to purchase the World we met
as old friends. During the interval between 1872 and 1883 we had had a
runabout in Europe and I was able to render him assistance in the purchase
proceeding he was having with Gould. When this was completed he said to me:
"You are at entire leisure; you are worse than that, you are wasting your
time about the clubs and watering places, doing no good for yourself, or
anybody else. I must first devote myself to the reorganization of the
business end of it. Here is a blank check. Fill it for whatever amount you
please and it will be honored. I want you to go upstairs and organize my
editorial force for me."

Indignantly I replied: "Go to the devil--you have not money enough--there
is not money enough in the universe--to buy an hour of my season's loaf."

A year later I found him occupying with his family a splendid mansion up
the Hudson, with a great stable of carriages and horses, living like a
country gentleman, going to the World office about time for luncheon and
coming away in the early afternoon. I passed a week-end with him. To me it
seemed the precursor of ruin. His second payment was yet to be made. Had I
been in his place I would have been taking my meals in an adjacent hotel,
sleeping on a cot in one of the editorial rooms and working fifteen hours
out of the twenty-four. To me it seemed dollars to doughnuts that he would
break down and go to smash. But he did not--another case of destiny.

I was abiding with my family at Monte Carlo, when in his floating palace,
the Liberty, he came into the harbor of Mentone. Then he bought a shore
palace at Cap Martin. That season, and the next two or three seasons, we
made voyages together from one end to the other of the Mediterranean,
visiting the islands, especially Corsica and Elba, shrines of Napoleon whom
he greatly admired.

He was a model host. He had surrounded himself with every luxury, including
some agreeable retainers, and lived like a prince aboard. His blindness had
already overtaken him. Other physical ailments assailed him. But no word of
complaint escaped his lips and he rarely failed to sit at the head of his
table. It was both splendid and pitiful.

Absolute authority made Pulitzer a tyrant. He regarded his newspaper
ownership as an autocracy. There was nothing gentle in his domination, nor,
I might say, generous either. He seriously lacked the sense of humor, and
even among his familiars could never take a joke. His love of money was by
no means inordinate. He spent it freely though not wastefully or joyously,
for the possession of it rather flattered his vanity than made occasion for
pleasure. Ability of varying kinds and degrees he had, a veritable genius
for journalism and a real capacity for affection. He held his friends at
good account and liked to have them about him. During the early days of his
success he was disposed to overindulgence, not to say conviviality. He
was fond of Rhine wines and an excellent judge of them, keeping a varied
assortment always at hand. Once, upon the Liberty, he observed that I
preferred a certain vintage. "You like this wine?" he said inquiringly. I
assented, and he said, "I have a lot of it at home, and when I get back I
will send you some." I had quite forgotten when, many months after, there
came to me a crate containing enough to last me a life-time.

He had a retentive memory and rarely forgot anything. I could recall many
pleasurable incidents of our prolonged and varied intimacy. We were one
day wandering about the Montmartre region of Paris when we came into a
hole-in-the-wall where they were playing a piece called "Les Brigands." It
was melodrama to the very marrow of the bones of the Apaches that gathered
and glared about. In those days, the "indemnity" paid and the "military
occupation" withdrawn, everything French pre-figured hatred of the German,
and be sure "Les Brigands" made the most of this; each "brigand" a
beer-guzzling Teuton; each hero a dare-devil Gaul; and, when Joan the Maid,
heroine, sent Goetz von Berlichingen, the Vandal Chieftain, sprawling in
the saw-dust, there was no end to the enthusiasm.

"We are all 'brigands'," said Pulitzer as we came away, "differing
according to individual character, to race and pursuit. Now, if I were
writing that play, I should represent the villain as a tyrannous City
Editor, meanly executing the orders of a niggardly proprietor."

"And the heroine?" I said.

"She should be a beautiful and rich young lady," he replied, "who buys
the newspaper and marries the cub--rescuing genius from poverty and
persecution."

He was not then the owner of the World. He had not created the
Post-Dispatch, or even met the beautiful woman who became his wife. He was
a youngster of five or six and twenty, revisiting the scenes of his boyhood
on the beautiful blue Danube, and taking in Paris for a lark.



III


I first met General Grant in my own house. I had often been invited to his
house. As far back as 1870 John Russell Young, a friend from boyhood, came
with an invitation to pass the week-end as the President's guest at Long
Branch. Many of my friends had cottages there. Of afternoons and evenings
they played an infinitesimal game of draw poker.

"John," my answer was, "I don't dare to do so. I know that I shall fall
in love with General Grant. We are living in rough times--particularly in
rough party times. We have a rough presidential campaign ahead of us. If I
go down to the seashore and go in swimming and play penny-ante with General
Grant I shall not be able to do my duty."

It was thus that after the general had gone out of office and made the
famous journey round the world, and had come to visit relatives in
Kentucky, that he accepted a dinner invitation from me, and I had a number
of his friends to meet him.

Among these were Dr. Richardson, his early schoolmaster when the Grant
family lived at Maysville, and Walter Haldeman, my business partner, a
Maysville boy, who had been his schoolmate at the Richardson Academy, and
General Cerro Gordo Williams, then one of Kentucky's Senators in Congress,
and erst his comrade and chum when both were lieutenants in the Mexican
War. The bars were down, the windows were shut and there was no end of
hearty hilarity. Dr. Richardson had been mentioned by Mr. Haldeman as "the
only man that ever licked Grant," and the general promptly retorted "he
never licked me," when the good old doctor said, "No, Ulysses, I never
did--nor Walter, either--for you two were the best boys in school."

I said "General Grant, why not give up this beastly politics, buy a
blue-grass farm, and settle down to horse-raising and tobacco growing in
Kentucky?" And, quick as a flash--for both he and the company perceived
that it was "a leading question"--he replied, "Before I can buy a farm
in Kentucky I shall have to sell a farm in Missouri," which left nothing
further to be said.

There was some sparring between him and General Williams over their
youthful adventures. Finally General Williams, one of the readiest and most
amusing of talkers, returned one of General Grant's sallies with, "Anyhow,
I know of a man whose life you took unknown to yourself." Then he told of a
race he and Grant had outside of Galapa in 1846. "Don't you remember," he
said, "that riding ahead of me you came upon a Mexican loaded with a lot of
milk cans piled above his head and that you knocked him over as you swept
by him?"

"Yes," said Grant, "I believed if I stopped or questioned or even deflected
it would lose me the race. I have not thought of it since. But now that you
mention it I recall it distinctly."

"Well," Williams continued, "you killed him. Your horse's hoof struck him.
When, seeing I was beaten, I rode back, his head was split wide open. I did
not tell you at the time because I knew it would cause you pain, and a dead
greaser more or less made no difference."

Later on General Grant took desk room in Victor Newcomb's private office in
New York. There I saw much of him, and we became good friends. He was the
most interesting of men. Soldierlike--monosyllabic--in his official and
business dealings he threw aside all formality and reserve in his social
intercourse, delightfully reminiscential, indeed a capital story teller. I
do not wonder that he had constant and disinterested friends who loved him
sincerely.



IV


It has always been my opinion that if Chester A. Arthur had been named by
the Republicans as their candidate in 1884 they would have carried the
election, spite of what Mr. Blaine, who defeated Arthur in the convention,
had said and thought about the nomination of General Sherman. Arthur, like
Grant, belonged to the category of lovable men in public life.

There was a gallant captain in the army who had slapped his colonel in
the face on parade. Morally, as man to man, he had the right of it. But
military law is inexorable. The verdict was dismissal from the service. I
went with the poor fellow's wife and her sister to see General Hancock at
Governor's Island. It was a most affecting meeting--the general, tears
rolling down his cheeks, taking them into his arms, and, when he could
speak, saying: "I can do nothing but hold up the action of the court till
Monday. Your recourse is the President and a pardon; I will recommend it,
but"--putting his hand upon my shoulder--"here is the man to get the pardon
if the President can be brought to see the case as most of us see it."

At once I went over to Washington, taking Stephen French with me. When
we entered the President's apartment in the White House he advanced
smiling to greet us, saying: "I know what you boys are after; you mean--"

"Yes, Mr. President," I answered, "we do, and if ever--"

"I have thought over it, sworn over it, and prayed over it," he said, "and
I am going to pardon him!"



V


Another illustrative incident happened during the Arthur Administration.
The dismissal of Gen. Fitz-John Porter from the army had been the subject
of more or less acrimonious controversy. During nearly two decades this had
raged in army circles. At length the friends of Porter, led by Curtin and
Slocum, succeeded in passing a relief measure through Congress. They were
in ecstasies. That there might be a presidential objection had not crossed
their minds.

Senator McDonald, of Indiana, a near friend of General Porter, and a man of
rare worldly wisdom, knew better. Without consulting them he came to me.

"You are personally close to the President," said he, "and you must know
that if this bill gets to the White House he will veto it. With the
Republican National Convention directly ahead he is bound to veto it. It
must not be allowed to get to him; and you are the man to stop it. They
will listen to you and will not listen to me."

First of all, I went to the White House.

"Mr. President," I said, "I want you to authorize me to tell Curtin and
Slocum not to send the Fitz-John Porter bill to you."

"Why?" he answered.

"Because," said I, "you will have to veto it; and, with the Frelinghuysens
wild for it, as well as others of your nearest friends, I am sure you don't
want to be obliged to do that. With your word to me I can stop it, and have
it for the present at least held up."

His answer was, "Go ahead."

Then I went to the Capitol. Curtin and Slocum were in a state of mind. It
was hard to make them understand or believe what I told them.

"Now, gentlemen," I continued, "I don't mean to argue the case. It is not
debatable. I am just from the White House, and I am authorized by the
President to say that if you send this bill to him he will veto it."

That, of course, settled it. They held it up. But after the presidential
election it reached Arthur, and he did veto it. Not till Cleveland came in
did Porter obtain his restoration.

Curiously enough General Grant approved this. I had listened to the
debate in the House--especially the masterly speech of William Walter
Phelps--without attaining a clear understanding of the many points at
issue. I said as much to General Grant.

"Why," he replied, "the case is as simple as A, B, C. Let me show you."

Then, with a pencil he traced the Second Bull Run battlefield, the location
of troops, both Federal and Confederate, and the exact passage in the
action which had compromised General Porter.

"If Porter had done what he was ordered to do," he went on, "Pope and his
army would have been annihilated. In point of fact Porter saved Pope's
Army." Then he paused and added: "I did not at the outset know this. I
was for a time of a different opinion and on the other side. It was
Longstreet's testimony--which had not been before the first Court of
Inquiry that convicted Porter--which vindicated him and convinced me."



Chapter the Tenth

    Of Liars and Lying--Woman Suffrage and Feminism--The Professional
    Female--Parties, Politics, and Politicians in America



I


All is fair in love and war, the saying hath it. "Lord!" cried the most
delightful of liars, "How this world is given to lying." Yea, and how
exigency quickens invention and promotes deceit.

Just after the war of sections I was riding in a train with Samuel Bowles,
who took a great interest in things Southern. He had been impressed by a
newspaper known as The Chattanooga Rebel and, as I had been its editor, put
innumerable questions to me about it and its affairs. Among these he asked
how great had been its circulation. Without explaining that often an entire
company, in some cases an entire regiment, subscribed for a few copies, or
a single copy, I answered: "I don't know precisely, but somewhere near a
hundred thousand, I take it." Then he said: "Where did you get your press
power?"

This was, of course, a poser, but it did not embarrass me in the least. I
was committed, and without a moment's thought I proceeded with an imaginary
explanation which he afterward declared had been altogether satisfying. The
story was too good to keep--maybe conscience pricked--and in a chummy talk
later along I laughingly confessed.

"You should tell that in your dinner speech tonight," he said. "If you tell
it as you have just told it to me, it will make a hit," and I did.

I give it as the opinion of a long life of experience and observation that
the newspaper press, whatever its delinquencies, is not a common liar, but
the most habitual of truth tellers. It is growing on its editorial page I
fear a little vapid and colorless. But there is a general and ever-present
purpose to print the facts and give the public the opportunity to reach its
own conclusions.

There are liars and liars, lying and lying. It is, with a single exception,
the most universal and venial of human frailties. We have at least three
kinds of lying and species, or types, of liars--first, the common,
ordinary, everyday liar, who lies without rime or reason, rule or compass,
aim, intent or interest, in whose mind the partition between truth and
falsehood has fallen down; then the sensational, imaginative liar, who has
a tale to tell; and, finally, the mean, malicious liar, who would injure
his neighbor.

This last is, indeed, but rare. Human nature is at its base amicable,
because if nothing hinders it wants to please. All of us, however, are more
or less its unconscious victims.

Competition is not alone the life of trade; it is the life of life; for
each of us is in one way, or another, competitive. There is but one
disinterested person in the world, the mother who whether of the human or
animal kingdom, will die for her young. Yet, after all, hers, too, is a
kind of selfishness.

The woman is becoming over much a professional female. It is of importance
that we begin to consider her as a new species, having enjoyed her beauty
long enough. Is the world on the way to organic revolution? If I were a
young man I should not care to be the lover of a professional female. As
an old man I have affectionate relations with a number of suffragettes, as
they dare not deny; that is to say, I long ago accepted woman suffrage as
inevitable, whether for good or evil, depending upon whether the woman's
movement is going to stop with suffrage or run into feminism, changing the
character of woman and her relations to men and with man.



II


I have never made party differences the occasion of personal quarrel or
estrangement. On the contrary, though I have been always called a Democrat,
I have many near and dear friends among the Republicans. Politics is not
war. Politics would not be war even if the politicians were consistent and
honest. But there are among them so many changelings, cheats and rogues.

Then, in politics as elsewhere, circumstances alter cases. I have as a rule
thought very little of parties as parties, professional politicians and
party leaders, and I think less of them as I grow older. The politician and
the auctioneer might be described like the lunatic, the lover and the poet,
as "of imagination all compact." One sees more mares' nests than would
fill a book; the other pure gold in pinchbeck wares; and both are out for
gudgeons.

It is the habit--nay, the business--of the party speaker when he mounts the
raging stump to roar his platitudes into the ears of those who have the
simplicity to listen, though neither edified nor enlightened; to aver that
the horse he rides is sixteen feet high; that the candidate he supports is
a giant; and that he himself is no small figure of a man.

Thus he resembles the auctioneer. But it is the mock auctioneer whom he
resembles; his stock in trade being largely, if not altogether, fraudulent.
The success which at the outset of party welfare attended this legalized
confidence game drew into it more and more players. For a long time they
deceived themselves almost as much as the voters. They had not become
professional. They were amateur. Many of them played for sheer love of
the gamble. There were rules to regulate the play. But as time passed and
voters multiplied, the popular preoccupation increased the temptations and
opportunities for gain, inviting the enterprising, the skillful and the
corrupt to reconstitute patriotism into a commodity and to organize public
opinion into a bill of lading. Thus politics as a trade, parties as
trademarks, the politicians, like harlots, plying their vocation.

Now and again an able, honest and brave man, who aims at better things,
appears. In the event that fortune favors him and he attains high station,
he finds himself surrounded and thwarted by men less able and courageous,
who, however equal to discovering right from wrong, yet wear the party
collar, owe fealty to the party machine, are sometimes actual slaves of the
party boss. In the larger towns we hear of the City Hall ring; out in the
counties of the Court House ring. We rarely anywhere encounter clean,
responsible administration and pure, disinterested, public service.

The taxpayers are robbed before their eyes. The evil grows greater as we
near the centers of population. But there is scarcely a village or hamlet
where graft does not grow like weeds, the voters as gullible and helpless
as the infatuated victims of bunko tricks, ingeniously contrived by
professional crooks to separate the fool and his money. Is self-government
a failure?

None of us would allow the votaries of the divine right of kings to tell
us so, albeit we are ready enough to admit the imperfections of universal
suffrage, too often committing affairs of pith and moment, even of life and
death, to the arbitrament of the mob, and costing more in cash outlay than
royal establishments.

The quadrennial period in American politics, set apart and dedicated to
the election of presidents, magnifies these evil features in an otherwise
admirable system of government. That the whipper-snappers of the vicinage
should indulge their propensities comes as the order of their nature.
But the party leaders are not far behind them. Each side construes every
occurrence as an argument in its favor, assuring it certain victory. Take,
for example, the latest state election anywhere. In point of fact, it
foretold nothing. It threw no light upon coming events, not even upon
current events. It leaves the future as hazy as before. Yet the managers of
either party affect to be equally confident that it presages the triumph of
their ticket in the next national election. The wonder is that so many of
the voters will believe and be influenced by such transparent subterfuge.

Is there any remedy for all this? I much fear that there is not.
Government, like all else, is impossible of perfection. It is as man
is--good, bad and indifferent; which is but another way of saying we live
in a world of cross purposes. We in America prefer republicanism. But would
despotism be so demurrable under a wise unselfish despot?



III


Contemplating the contrasts between foreign life and foreign history with
our own one cannot help reflecting upon the yet more startling contrasts of
ancient and modern religion and government. I have wandered not a little
over Europe at irregular intervals for more than fifty years. Always a
devotee to American institutions, I have been strengthened in my beliefs by
what I have encountered.

The mood in our countrymen has been overmuch to belittle things American.
The commercial spirit in the United States, which affects to be
nationalistic, is in reality cosmopolitan. Money being its god, French
money, English money, anything that calls itself money, is wealth to it. It
has no time to waste on theories or to think of generics. "Put money in thy
purse" has become its motto. Money constitutes the reason of its being.
The organic law of the land is Greek to it, as are those laws of God which
obstruct it. It is too busy with its greed and gain to think, or to feel,
on any abstract subject. That which does not appeal to it in the concrete
is of no interest at all.

Just as in the days of Charles V and Philip II, all things yielded to the
theologian's misconception of the spiritual life so in these days of the
Billionaires all things spiritual and abstract yield to what they call the
progress of the universe and the leading of the times. Under their rule we
have had extraordinary movement just as under the lords of the Palatinate
and the Escurial--the medieval union of the devils of bigotry and
power--Europe, which was but another name for Spain, had extraordinary
movement. We know where it ended with Spain. Whither is it leading us? Are
we traveling the same road?

Let us hope not. Let us believe not. Yet, once strolling along through the
crypt of the Church of the Escurial near Madrid, I could not repress the
idea of a personal and physical resemblance between the effigies in marble
and bronze looking down upon me whichever way I turned, to some of our
contemporary public men and seeming to say: "My love to the President when
you see him next," and "Don't forget to remember me kindly, please, to the
chairmen of both your national committees!"



IV


In a world of sin, disease and death--death inevitable--what may man do to
drive out sin and cure disease, to the end that, barring accident, old age
shall set the limit on mortal life?

The quack doctor equally in ethics and in physics has played a leading part
in human affairs. Only within a relatively brief period has science made
serious progress toward discovery. Though Nature has perhaps an antidote
for all her poisons many of them continue to defy approach. They lie
concealed, leaving the astutest to grope in the dark.

That which is true of material things is truer yet of spiritual things. The
ideal about which we hear so much, is as unattained as the fabled bag of
gold at the end of the rainbow. Nor is the doctrine of perfectability
anywhere one with itself. It speaks in diverse tongues. Its processes and
objects are variant. It seems but an iridescent dream which lends itself
equally to the fancies of the impracticable and the scheming of the
self-seeking, breeding visionaries and pretenders.

Easily assumed and asserted, too often it becomes tyrannous, dealing with
things outer and visible while taking little if any account of the inner
lights of the soul. Thus it imposes upon credulity and ignorance; makes
fakers of some and fanatics of others; in politics where not an engine of
oppression, a corrupt influence; in religion where not a zealot, a promoter
of cant. In short the self-appointed apostle of uplift, who disregarding
individual character would make virtue a matter of statute law and ordain
uniformity of conduct by act of conventicle or assembly, is likelier to
produce moral chaos than to reach the sublime state he claims to seek.

The bare suggestion is full of startling possibilities. Individualism was
the discovery of the fathers of the American Republic. It is the bedrock
of our political philosophy. Human slavery was assuredly an indefensible
institution. But the armed enforcement of freedom did not make a black man
a white man. Nor will the wave of fanaticism seeking to control the food
and drink and dress of the people make men better men. Danger lurks and is
bound to come with the inevitable reaction.

The levity of the men is recruited by the folly of the women. The leaders
of feminism would abolish sex. To what end? The pessimist answers what
easier than the demolition of a sexless world gone entirely mad? How simple
the engineries of destruction. Civil war in America; universal hara-kiri
in Europe; the dry rot of wealth wasting itself in self-indulgence. Then a
thousand years of total eclipse. Finally Macaulay's Australian surveying
the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral from a broken parapet of London Bridge;
and a Moslem conqueror of America looking from the hill of the Capitol at
Washington upon the desolation of what was once the District of Columbia.
Shall the end be an Oriental renaissance with the philosophies of Buddha,
Mohammed and Confucius welded into a new religion describing itself as the
last word of science, reason and common sense?

Alas, and alack the day! In those places where the suffering rich most do
congregate the words of Watts' hymn have constant application:

  _For Satan finds some mischief still
  For idle hands to do._

When they have not gone skylarking or grown tired of bridge they devote
their leisure to organizing clubs other than those of the uplift. There
are all sorts, from the Society for the Abrogation of Bathing Suits at the
seaside resorts to the League at Mewville for the Care of Disabled Cats.
Most of these clubs are all officers and no privates. That is what many of
them are got up for. Do they advance the world in grace? One who surveys
the scene can scarcely think so.

But the whirl goes on; the yachts sweep proudly out to sea; the auto cars
dash madly through the streets; more and darker and deeper do the contrasts
of life show themselves. How long shall it be when the mudsill millions
take the upper ten thousand by the throat and rend them as the furiosos of
the Terror in France did the aristocrats of the _Régime Ancien_? The
issue between capital and labor, for example, is full of generating
heat and hate. Who shall say that, let loose in the crowded centers of
population, it may not one day engulf us all?

Is this rank pessimism or merely the vagaries of an old man dropping back
into second childhood, who does not see that the world is wiser and better
than ever it was, mankind and womankind, surely on the way to perfection?



V


One thing is certain: We are not standing still. Since "Adam delved and Eve
span"--if they ever did--in the Garden of Eden, "somewhere in Asia," to the
"goings on" in the Garden of the Gods directly under Pike's Peak--the earth
we inhabit has at no time and nowhere wanted for liveliness--but surely
it was never livelier than it now is; as the space-writer says, more
"dramatic"; indeed, to quote the guidebooks, quite so "picturesque and
interesting."

Go where one may, on land or sea, he will come upon activities of one sort
and another. Were Timon of Athens living, he might be awakened from his
misanthrophy and Jacques, the forest cynic, stirred to something like
enthusiasm. Is the world enduring the pangs of a second birth which shall
recreate all things anew, supplementing the miracles of modern invention
with a corresponding development of spiritual life; or has it reached the
top of the hill, and, mortal, like the human atoms that compose it, is it
starting downward on the other side into an abyss which the historians of
the future will once again call "the dark ages?"

We know not, and there is none to tell us. That which is actually happening
were unbelievable if we did not see it, from hour to hour, from day to day.
Horror succeeding horror has in some sort blunted our sensibilities. Not
only are our sympathies numbed by the immensity of the slaughter and the
sorrow, but patriotism itself is chilled by the selfish thought that,
having thus far measurably escaped, we may pull through without paying our
share. This will account for a certain indifferentism we now and again
encounter.

At the moment we are felicitating ourselves--or, is it merely confusing
ourselves?--over the revolution in Russia. It seems of good augury. To
begin with, for Russia. Then the murder war fairly won for the Allies, we
are promised by the optimists a wise and lasting peace.

The bells that rang out in Petrograd and Moscow sounded, we are told, the
death knell of autocracy in Berlin and Vienna. The clarion tones that
echoed through the Crimea and Siberia, albeit to the ear of the masses
muffled in the Schwarzwald and along the shores of the North Sea, and up
and down the Danube and the Rhine, yet conveyed a whispered message which
may presently break into song; the glad song of freedom with it glorious
refrain: "The Romanoffs gone! Perdition having reached the Hohenzollerns
and the Hapsburgs, all will be well!"

Anyhow, freedom; self-government; for whilst a scrutinizing and solicitous
pessimism, observing and considering many abuses, administrative and
political, federal and local, in our republican system--abuses which being
very visible are most lamentable--may sometimes move us to lose heart of
hope in democracy, we know of none better. So, let us stand by it; pray for
it; fight for it. Let us by our example show the Russians how to attain it.
Let us by the same token show the Germans how to attain it when they come
to see, if they ever do, the havoc autocracy has made for Germany. That
should constitute the bed rock of our politics and our religion. It is the
true religion. Love of country is love of God. Patriotism is religion.

It is also Christianity. The pacifist, let me parenthetically observe,
is scarcely a Christian. There be technical Christians and there be
Christians. The technical Christian sees nothing but the blurred letter of
the law, which he misconstrues. The Christian, animated by its holy spirit
and led by its rightful interpretation, serves the Lord alike of heaven and
hosts when he flies the flag of his country and smites its enemies hip and
thigh!



Chapter the Eleventh

    Andrew Johnson--The Liberal Convention in 1872--Carl Schurz--The
    "Quadrilateral"--Sam Bowles, Horace White and Murat Halstead--A Queer
    Composite of Incongruities



I


Among the many misconceptions and mischances that befell the slavery
agitation in the United States and finally led a kindred people into actual
war the idea that got afloat after this war that every Confederate was a
Secessionist best served the ends of the radicalism which sought to reduce
the South to a conquered province, and as such to reconstruct it by hostile
legislation supported wherever needed by force.

Andrew Johnson very well understood that a great majority of the men who
were arrayed on the Southern side had taken the field against their better
judgment through pressure of circumstance. They were Union men who had
opposed secession and clung to the old order. Not merely in the Border
States did this class rule but in the Gulf States it held a respectable
minority until the shot fired upon Sumter drew the call for troops from
Lincoln. The Secession leaders, who had staked their all upon the hazard,
knew that to save their movement from collapse it was necessary that blood
be sprinkled in the faces of the people. Hence the message from Charleston:

  _With cannon, mortar and petard
  We tender you our Beauregard_--

with the response from Washington precipitating the conflict of theories
into a combat of arms for which neither party was prepared.

The debate ended, battle at hand, Southern men had to choose between the
North and the South, between their convictions and predilections on one
side and expatriation on the other side--resistance to invasion, not
secession, the issue. But four years later, when in 1865 all that they had
believed and feared in 1861 had come to pass, these men required no drastic
measures to bring them to terms. Events more potent than acts of Congress
had already reconstructed them. Lincoln with a forecast of this had shaped
his ends accordingly. Johnson, himself a Southern man, understood it even
better than Lincoln, and backed by the legacy of Lincoln he proceeded not
very skillfully to build upon it.

The assassination of Lincoln, however, had played directly into the hands
of the radicals, led by Ben Wade in the Senate and Thaddeus Stevens in the
House. Prior to that baleful night they had fallen behind the marching
van. The mad act of Booth put them upon their feet and brought them to the
front. They were implacable men, politicians equally of resolution and
ability. Events quickly succeeding favored them and their plans. It was not
alone Johnson's lack of temper and tact that gave them the whip hand. His
removal from office would have opened the door of the White House to Wade,
so that strategically Johnson's position was from the beginning beleaguered
and came perilously near before the close to being untenable.

Grant, a political nondescript, not Wade, the uncompromising extremist,
came after; and inevitably four years of Grant had again divided the
triumphant Republicans. This was the situation during the winter of
1871-72, when the approaching Presidential election brought the country
face to face with a most extraordinary state of affairs. The South was in
irons. The North was growing restive. Thinking people everywhere felt
that conditions so anomalous to our institutions could not and should not
endure.



II


Johnson had made a bungling attempt to carry out the policies of Lincoln
and had gone down in the strife. The Democratic Party had reached the ebb
tide of its disastrous fortunes.

It seemed the merest reactionary. A group of influential Republicans,
dissatisfied for one cause and another with Grant, held a caucus and issued
a call for what they described as a Liberal Republican Convention to
assemble in Cincinnati May 1, 1872.

A Southern man and a Confederate soldier, a Democrat by conviction and
inheritance, I had been making in Kentucky an uphill fight for the
acceptance of the inevitable. The line of cleavage between the old and the
new South I had placed upon the last three amendments to the Constitution,
naming them the Treaty of Peace between the Sections. The negro must be
invested with the rights conferred upon him by these amendments, however
mistaken and injudicious the South might think them. The obsolete Black
Laws instituted during the slave régime must be removed from the statute
books. The negro, like Mohammed's coffin, swung in midair. He was neither
fish, flesh nor fowl, nor good red herring. For our own sake we must
habilitate him, educate and elevate him, make him, if possible, a contented
and useful citizen. Failing of this, free government itself might be
imperiled.

I had behind me the intelligence of the Confederate soldiers almost to a
man. They at least were tired of futile fighting, and to them the war was
over. But--and especially in Kentucky--there was an element that wanted to
fight when it was too late; old Union Democrats and Union Whigs who clung
to the hull of slavery when the kernel was gone, and proposed to win in
politics what had been lost in battle.

The leaders of this belated element were in complete control of the
political machinery of the state. They regarded me as an impudent
upstart--since I had come to Kentucky from Tennessee--as little better than
a carpet-bagger; and had done their uttermost to put me down and drive me
out.

[Illustration: Abraham Lincoln in 1861 _From a Photograph by M B
Brady_]

I was a young fellow of two and thirty, of boundless optimism and my full
share of self-confidence, no end of physical endurance and mental vitality,
having some political as well as newspaper experience. It never crossed my
fancy that I could fail.

I met resistance with aggression, answered attempts at bullying with
scorn, generally irradiated by laughter. Yet was I not wholly blind to
consequences and the admonitions of prudence; and when the call for a
Liberal Republican Convention appeared I realized that if I expected to
remain a Democrat in a Democratic community, and to influence and lead a
Democratic following, I must proceed warily.

Though many of those proposing the new movement were familiar
acquaintances--some of them personal friends--the scheme was in the air, as
it were. Its three newspaper bellwethers--Samuel Bowles, Horace White and
Murat Halstead--were especially well known to me; so were Horace Greeley,
Carl Schurz and Charles Sumner, Stanley Matthews being my kinsman, George
Hoadley and Cassius M. Clay next-door neighbors. But they were not the men
I had trained with--not my "crowd"--and it was a question how far I might
be able to reconcile myself, not to mention my political associates, to
such company, even conceding that they proceeded under good fortune with a
good plan, offering the South extrication from its woes and the Democratic
Party an entering wedge into a solid and hitherto irresistible North.

Nevertheless, I resolved to go a little in advance to Cincinnati, to have a
look at the stalking horse there to be displayed, free to take it or leave
it as I liked, my bridges and lines of communication quite open and intact.



III


A livelier and more variegated omnium-gatherum was never assembled. They
had already begun to straggle in when I arrived. There were long-haired
and spectacled doctrinaires from New England, spliced by short-haired and
stumpy emissaries from New York--mostly friends of Horace Greeley, as it
turned out. There were brisk Westerners from Chicago and St. Louis. If
Whitelaw Reid, who had come as Greeley's personal representative, had his
retinue, so had Horace White and Carl Schurz. There were a few rather
overdressed persons from New Orleans brought up by Governor Warmouth, and a
motely array of Southerners of every sort, who were ready to clutch at any
straw that promised relief to intolerable conditions. The full contingent
of Washington correspondents was there, of course, with sharpened eyes and
pens to make the most of what they had already begun to christen a conclave
of cranks.

Bowles and Halstead met me at the station, and we drove to the St. Nicholas
Hotel, where Schurz and White were awaiting us. Then and there was
organized a fellowship which in the succeeding campaign cut a considerable
figure and went by the name of the Quadrilateral. We resolved to limit
the Presidential nominations of the convention to Charles Francis Adams,
Bowles' candidate, and Lyman Trumbull, White's candidate, omitting
altogether, because of specific reasons urged by White, the candidacy of B.
Gratz Brown, who because of his Kentucky connections had better suited my
purpose.

The very next day the secret was abroad, and Whitelaw Reid came to me to
ask why in a newspaper combine of this sort the New York Tribune had been
left out.

To my mind it seemed preposterous that it had been or should be, and I
stated as much to my new colleagues. They offered objection which to me
appeared perverse if not childish. They did not like Reid, to begin with.
He was not a principal like the rest of us, but a subordinate. Greeley was
this, that and the other. He could never be relied upon in any coherent
practical plan of campaign. To talk about him as a candidate was
ridiculous.

I listened rather impatiently and finally I said: "Now, gentlemen, in this
movement we shall need the New York Tribune. If we admit Reid we clinch it.
You will all agree that Greeley has no chance of a nomination, and so by
taking him in we both eat our cake and have it."

On this view of the case Reid was invited to join us, and that very night
he sat with us at the St. Nicholas, where from night to night until the end
we convened and went over the performances and developments of the day and
concerted plans for the morrow.

As I recall these symposiums some amusing and some plaintive memories rise
before me.

The first serious business that engaged us was the killing of the boom for
Judge David Davis, of the Supreme Court, which was assuming definite and
formidable proportions. The preceding winter it had been incubating at
Washington under the ministration of some of the most astute politicians of
the time, mainly, however, Democratic members of Congress.

A party of these had brought it to Cincinnati, opening headquarters well
provided with the requisite commissaries. Every delegate who came in that
could be reached was laid hold of and conducted to Davis' headquarters.

We considered it flat burglary. It was a gross infringement upon our
copyrights. What business had the professional politicians with a great
reform movement? The influence and dignity of journalism were at stake. The
press was imperilled. We, its custodians, could brook no such deflection,
not to say defiance, from intermeddling office seekers, especially from
broken-down Democratic office seekers.

The inner sanctuary of our proceedings was a common drawing-room between
two bedchambers, occupied by Schurz and myself. Here we repaired after
supper to smoke the pipe of fraternity and reform, and to save the country.
What might be done to kill off "D. Davis," as we irreverently called the
eminent and learned jurist, the friend of Lincoln and the only aspirant
having a "bar'l"? That was the question. We addressed ourselves to the task
with earnest purpose, but characteristically. The power of the press must
be invoked. It was our chief if not our only weapon. Seated at the same
table each of us indited a leading editorial for his paper, to be wired
to its destination and printed next morning, striking D. Davis at a
prearranged and varying angle. Copies of these were made for Halstead, who
having with the rest of us read and compared the different scrolls
indited one of his own in general commentation and review for Cincinnati
consumption. In next day's Commercial, blazing under vivid headlines, these
leading editorials, dated "Chicago" and "New York," "Springfield, Mass.,"
and "Louisville, Ky.," appeared with the explaining line "The Tribune
of to-morrow morning will say--" "The Courier-Journal--and the
Republican--will say to-morrow morning--"

Wondrous consensus of public opinion! The Davis boom went down before it.
The Davis boomers were paralyzed. The earth seemed to have risen and hit
them midships. The incoming delegates were arrested and forewarned. Six
months of adroit scheming was set at naught, and little more was heard of
"D. Davis."

We were, like the Mousquetaires, equally in for fighting and foot-racing,
the point with us being to get there, no matter how; the end--the defeat
of the rascally machine politicians and the reform of the public
service--justifying the means. I am writing this nearly fifty years after
the event and must be forgiven the fling of my wisdom at my own expense and
that of my associates in harmless crime.

Some ten years ago I wrote: "Reid and White and I the sole survivors; Reid
a great Ambassador, White and I the virtuous ones, still able to sit up and
take notice, with three meals a day for which we are thankful and able to
pay; no one of us recalcitrant. We were wholly serious--maybe a trifle
visionary, but as upright and patriotic in our intentions and as loyal to
our engagements as it was possible for older and maybe better men to be.
For my part I must say that if I have never anything on my conscience worse
than the massacre of that not very edifying yet promising combine I shall
be troubled by no remorse, but to the end shall sleep soundly and well."

Alas, I am not the sole survivor. In this connection an amusing incident
throwing some light upon the period thrusts itself upon my memory. The
Quadrilateral, including Reid, had just finished its consolidation of
public opinion before related, when the cards of Judge Craddock, chairman
of the Kentucky Democratic Committee, and of Col. Stoddard Johnston, editor
of the Frankfort Yeoman, the organ of the Kentucky Democracy, were brought
from below. They had come to look after me--that was evident. By no chance
could they find me in more equivocal company. In addition to ourselves--bad
enough, from the Kentucky point of view--Theodore Tilton, Donn Piatt and
David A. Wells were in the room.

When the Kentuckians crossed the threshold and were presented seriatim the
face of each was a study. Even a proper and immediate application of whisky
and water did not suffice to restore their lost equilibrium and bring them
to their usual state of convivial self-possession. Colonel Johnston told me
years after that when they went away they walked in silence a block or two,
when the old judge, a model of the learned and sedate school of Kentucky
politicians and jurists, turned to him and said: "It is no use, Stoddart,
we cannot keep up with that young man or with these times. 'Lord, now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!'"



IV


The Jupiter Tonans of reform in attendance upon the convention was Col.
Alexander K. McClure. He was one of the handsomest and most imposing of
men; Halstead himself scarcely more so. McClure was personally unknown to
the Quadrilateral. But this did not stand in the way of our asking him
to dine with us as soon as his claims to fellowship in the good cause of
reform began to make themselves apparent through the need of bringing the
Pennsylvania delegation to a realizing sense.

He looked like a god as he entered the room; nay, he acted like one. Schurz
first took him in hand. With a lofty courtesy I have never seen equalled he
tossed his inquisitor into the air. Halstead came next, and tried him upon
another tack. He fared no better than Schurz. And hurrying to the rescue
of my friends, McClure, looking now a bit bored and resentful, landed me
somewhere near the ceiling.

It would have been laughable if it had not been ignominious. I took my
discomfiture with the bad grace of silence throughout the stiff, formal and
brief meal which was then announced. But when it was over and the party,
risen from table, was about to disperse I collected my energies and
resources for a final stroke. I was not willing to remain so crushed nor to
confess myself so beaten, though I could not disguise from myself a feeling
that all of us had been overmatched.

"McClure," said I with the cool and quiet resolution of despair, drawing
him aside, "what in the ---- do you want anyhow?"

He looked at me with swift intelligence and a sudden show of sympathy, and
then over at the others with a withering glance.

"What? With those cranks? Nothing."

Jupiter descended to earth. I am afraid we actually took a glass of wine
together. Anyhow, from that moment to the hour of his death we were the
best of friends.

Without the inner circle of the Quadrilateral, which had taken matters into
their own hands, were a number of persons, some of them disinterested and
others simple curiosity and excitement seekers, who might be described as
merely lookers-on in Vienna. The Sunday afternoon before the convention was
to meet we, the self-elect, fell in with a party of these in a garden "over
the Rhine," as the German quarter of Cincinnati is called. There was first
general and rather aimless talk. Then came a great deal of speech making.
Schurz started it with a few pungent observations intended to suggest and
inspire some common ground of opinion and sentiment. Nobody was inclined
to dispute his leadership, but everybody was prone to assert his own. It
turned out that each regarded himself and wished to be regarded as a man
with a mission, having a clear idea how things were not to be done. There
were Civil Service Reform Protectionists and Civil Service Reform Free
Traders. There were a few politicians, who were discovered to be spoilsmen,
the unforgivable sin, and quickly dismissed as such.

Coherence was the missing ingredient. Not a man jack of them was willing
to commit or bind himself to anything. Edward Atkinson pulled one way and
William Dorsheimer exactly the opposite way. David A. Wells sought to
get the two together; it was not possible. Sam Bowles shook his head
in diplomatic warning. Horace White threw in a chunk or so of a rather
agitating newspaper independency, and Halstead was in an inflamed state of
jocosity to the more serious-minded.

It was nuts to the Washington Correspondents--story writers and satirists
who were there to make the most out of an occasion in which the bizarre was
much in excess of the conventional--with George Alfred Townsend and Donn
Piatt to set the pace. Hyde had come from St. Louis to keep especial tab on
Grosvenor. Though rival editors facing our way, they had not been admitted
to the Quadrilateral. McCullagh and Nixon arrived with the earliest from
Chicago. The lesser lights of the guild were innumerable. One might have
mistaken it for an annual meeting of the Associated Press.



V


The convention assembled. It was in Cincinnati's great Music Hall. Schurz
presided. Who that was there will ever forget his opening words: "This is
moving day." He was just turned forty-two; in his physiognomy a scholarly
_Herr Doktor_; in his trim lithe figure a graceful athlete; in the
tones of his voice an orator.

Even the bespectacled doctrinaires of the East, whence, since the days when
the Star of Bethlehem shone over the desert, wisdom and wise men have had
their emanation, were moved to something like enthusiasm. The rest of us
were fervid and aglow. Two days and a night and a half the Quadrilateral
had the world in a sling and things its own way. It had been agreed, as I
have said, to limit the field to Adams, Trumbull and Greeley; Greeley being
out of it, as having no chance, still further abridged it to Adams and
Trumbull; and, Trumbull not developing very strong, Bowles, Halstead and
I, even White, began to be sure of Adams on the first ballot; Adams the
indifferent, who had sailed away for Europe, observing that he was not a
candidate for the nomination and otherwise intimating his disdain of us and
it.

Matters thus apparently cocked and primed, the convention adjourned over
the first night of its session with everybody happy except the D. Davis
contingent, which lingered on the scene, but knew its "cake was dough."
If we had forced a vote that night, as we might have done, we should have
nominated Adams. But inspired by the bravery of youth and inexperience we
let the golden opportunity slip. The throng of delegates and the audience
dispersed.

In those days, it being the business of my life to turn day into night and
night into day, it was not my habit to seek my bed much before the presses
began to thunder below, and this night proving no exception, and being
tempted by a party of Kentuckians, who had come, some to back me and some
to watch me, I did not quit their agreeable society until the "wee short
hours ayont the twal." Before turning in I glanced at the early edition
of the Commercial, to see that something--I was too tired to decipher
precisely what--had happened. It was, in point of fact, the arrival about
midnight of Gen. Frank P. Blair and Governor B. Gratz Brown.

I had in my possession documents that would have induced at least one of
them to pause before making himself too conspicuous. The Quadrilateral,
excepting Reid, knew this. We had separated upon the adjournment of the
convention. I being across the river in Covington, their search was
unavailing. I was not to be found. They were in despair. When having had
a few hours of rest I reached the convention hall toward noon it was too
late.

I got into the thick of it in time to see the close, not without an angry
collision with that one of the newly arrived actors whose coming had
changed the course of events, with whom I had lifelong relations of
affectionate intimacy. Sailing but the other day through Mediterranean
waters with Joseph Pulitzer, who, then a mere youth, was yet the secretary
of the convention, he recalled the scene; the unexpected and not over
attractive appearance of the governor of Missouri; his not very pleasing
yet ingenious speech; the stoical, almost lethargic indifference of Schurz.

"Carl Schurz," said Pulitzer, "was the most industrious and the least
energetic man I have ever worked with. A word from him at that crisis would
have completely routed Blair and squelched Brown. It was simply not in him
to speak it."

Greeley was nominated amid a whirl of enthusiasm, his workers, with
Whitelaw Reid at their head, having maintained an admirable and effective
organization and being thoroughly prepared to take advantage of the
opportune moment. It was the logic of the event that B. Gratz Brown should
be placed on the ticket with him.

The Quadrilateral was nowhere. It was done for. The impossible had come to
pass. There rose thereafter a friendly issue of veracity between Schurz and
myself, which illustrates our state of mind. My version is that we left the
convention hall together with an immaterial train of after incidents, his
that we had not met after the adjournment--he quite sure of this because he
had looked for me in vain.

"Schurz was right," said Joseph Pulitzer upon the occasion of our yachting
cruise just mentioned, "I know, for he and I went directly from the hall
with Judge Stallo to his home on Walnut Hills, where we dined and passed
the afternoon."

[Illustration: Mrs. Lincoln in 1861 _From a Photograph by M. B.
Brady_]

The Quadrilateral had been knocked into a cocked hat. Whitelaw Reid was the
only one of us who clearly understood the situation and thoroughly knew
what he was about. He came to me and said: "I have won, and you people have
lost. I shall expect that you stand by the agreement and meet me as my
guests at dinner to-night. But if you do not personally look after this the
others will not be there."

I was as badly hurt as any, but a bond is a bond and I did as he desired,
succeeding partly by coaxing and partly by insisting, though it was devious
work.

Frostier conviviality I have never sat down to than Reid's dinner. Horace
White looked more than ever like an iceberg, Sam Bowles was diplomatic
but ineffusive, Schurz was as a death's head at the board; Halstead and I
through sheer bravado tried to enliven the feast. But they would none of
us, nor it, and we separated early and sadly, reformers hoist by their own
petard.



VI


The reception by the country of the nomination of Horace Greeley was as
inexplicable to the politicians as the nomination itself had been
unexpected by the Quadrilateral. The people rose to it. The sentimental,
the fantastic and the paradoxical in human nature had to do with this. At
the South an ebullition of pleased surprise grew into positive enthusiasm.
Peace was the need if not the longing of the Southern heart, and Greeley's
had been the first hand stretched out to the South from the enemy's
camp--very bravely, too, for he had signed the bail bond of Jefferson
Davis--and quick upon the news flashed the response from generous men eager
for the chance to pay something upon a recognized debt of gratitude.

Except for this spontaneous uprising, which continued unabated in July, the
Democratic Party could not have been induced at Baltimore to ratify the
proceedings at Cincinnati and formally to make Greeley its candidate. The
leaders dared not resist it. Some of them halted, a few held out, but by
midsummer the great body of them came to the front to head the procession.

He was a queer old man; a very medley of contradictions; shrewd and simple;
credulous and penetrating; a master penman of the school of Swift and
Cobbett; even in his odd picturesque personality whimsically attractive; a
man to be reckoned with where he chose to put his powers forth, as Seward
learned to his cost.

What he would have done with the Presidency had he reached it is not easy
to say or surmise. He was altogether unsuited for official life, for which
nevertheless he had a passion. But he was not so readily deceived in men or
misled in measures as he seemed and as most people thought him.

His convictions were emotional, his philosophy was experimental; but there
was a certain method in their application to public affairs. He gave
bountifully of his affection and his confidence to the few who enjoyed his
familiar friendship--accessible and sympathetic though not indiscriminating
to those who appealed to his impressionable sensibilities and sought his
help. He had been a good party man and was by nature and temperament a
partisan.

To him place was not a badge of servitude; it was a decoration--preferment,
promotion, popular recognition. He had always yearned for office as the
legitimate destination of public life and the honorable award of party
service. During the greater part of his career the conditions of journalism
had been rather squalid and servile. He was really great as a journalist.
He was truly and highly fit for nothing else, but seeing less deserving and
less capable men about him advanced from one post of distinction to another
he wondered why his turn proved so tardy in coming, and when it would come.
It did come with a rush. What more natural than that he should believe it
real instead of the empty pageant of a vision?

It had taken me but a day and a night to pull myself together after the
first shock and surprise and to plunge into the swim to help fetch the
waterlogged factions ashore. This was clearly indispensable to forcing
the Democratic organization to come to the rescue of what would have been
otherwise but a derelict upon a stormy sea. Schurz was deeply disgruntled.
Before he could be appeased a bridge, found in what was called the Fifth
Avenue Hotel Conference, had to be constructed in order to carry him across
the stream which flowed between his disappointed hopes and aims and what
appeared to him an illogical and repulsive alternative. He had taken to his
tent and sulked like another Achilles. He was harder to deal with than any
of the Democratic file leaders, but he finally yielded and did splendid
work in the campaign.

His was a stubborn spirit not readily adjustable. He was a nobly gifted
man, but from first to last an alien in an alien land. He once said to me,
"If I should live a thousand years they would still call me a Dutchman." No
man of his time spoke so well or wrote to better purpose. He was equally
skillful in debate, an overmatch for Conkling and Morton, whom--especially
in the French arms matter--he completely dominated and outshone. As sincere
and unselfish, as patriotic and as courageous as any of his contemporaries,
he could never attain the full measure of the popular heart and confidence,
albeit reaching its understanding directly and surely; within himself a man
of sentiment who was not the cause of sentiment in others. He knew this and
felt it.

The Nast cartoons, which as to Greeley and Sumner were unsparing in the
last degree, whilst treating Schurz with a kind of considerate qualifying
humor, nevertheless greatly offended him. I do not think Greeley minded
them much if at all. They were very effective; notably the "Pirate Ship,"
which represented Greeley leaning over the taffrail of a vessel carrying
the Stars and Stripes and waving his handkerchief at the man-of-war Uncle
Sam in the distance, the political leaders of the Confederacy dressed in
true corsair costume crouched below ready to spring. Nothing did more to
sectionalize Northern opinion and fire the Northern heart, and to lash the
fury of the rank and file of those who were urged to vote as they had shot
and who had hoisted above them the Bloody Shirt for a banner. The first
half of the canvass the bulge was with Greeley; the second half began in
eclipse, to end in something very like collapse.

The old man seized his flag and set out upon his own account for a tour of
the country. Right well he bore himself. If speech-making ever does any
good toward the shaping of results Greeley's speeches surely should have
elected him. They were marvels of impromptu oratory, mostly homely and
touching appeals to the better sense and the magnanimity of a people not
ripe or ready for generous impressions; convincing in their simplicity and
integrity; unanswerable from any standpoint of sagacious statesmanship or
true patriotism if the North had been in any mood to listen and to reason.

I met him at Cincinnati and acted as his escort to Louisville and thence to
Indianapolis, where others were waiting to take him in charge. He was in a
state of querulous excitement. Before the vast and noisy audiences which we
faced he stood apparently pleased and composed, delivering his words as he
might have dictated them to a stenographer. As soon as we were alone he
would break out into a kind of lamentation, punctuated by occasional bursts
of objurgation. He especially distrusted the Quadrilateral, making an
exception in my case, as well he might, because however his nomination had
jarred my judgment I had a real affection for him, dating back to the years
immediately preceding the war when I was wont to encounter him in the
reporters' galleries at Washington, which he preferred to using his floor
privilege as an ex-member of Congress.

It was mid-October. We had heard from Maine; Indiana and Ohio had voted. He
was for the first time realizing the hopeless nature of the contest. The
South in irons and under military rule and martial law sure for Grant,
there had never been any real chance. Now it was obvious that there was to
be no compensating ground swell at the North. That he should pour forth his
chagrin to one whom he knew so well and even regarded as one of his boys
was inevitable. Much of what he said was founded on a basis of fact, some
of it was mere suspicion and surmise, all of it came back to the main point
that defeat stared us in the face. I was glad and yet loath to part with
him. If ever a man needed a strong friendly hand and heart to lean upon he
did during those dark days--the end in darkest night nearer than anyone
could divine. He showed stronger mettle than had been allowed him: bore
a manlier part than was commonly ascribed to the slovenly slipshod
habiliments and the aspects in which benignancy and vacillation seemed to
struggle for the ascendancy. Abroad the elements conspired against him.
At home his wife lay ill, as it proved, unto death. The good gray head he
still carried like a hero, but the worn and tender heart was beginning to
break. Overwhelming defeat was followed by overwhelming affliction. He
never quitted his dear one's beside until the last pulsebeat, and then he
sank beneath the load of grief.

"The Tribune is gone and I am gone," he said, and spoke no more.

The death of Greeley fell upon the country with a sudden shock. It roused a
universal sense of pity and sorrow and awe. All hearts were hushed. In an
instant the bitterness of the campaign was forgotten, though the huzzas of
the victors still rent the air. The President, his late antagonist, with
his cabinet and the leading members of the two Houses of Congress, attended
his funeral. As he lay in his coffin he was no longer the arch rebel,
leading a combine of buccaneers and insurgents, which the Republican
orators and newspapers had depicted him, but the brave old apostle of
freedom who had done more than all others to make the issues upon which a
militant and triumphant party had risen to power.

The multitude remembered only the old white hat and the sweet old baby
face beneath it, heart of gold, and hand wielding the wizard pen; the
incarnation of probity and kindness, of steadfast devotion to his duty as
he saw it, and to the needs of the whole human family. A tragedy in truth
it was; and yet as his body was lowered into its grave there rose above it,
invisible, unnoted, a flower of matchless beauty--the flower of peace
and love between the sections of the Union to which his life had been a
sacrifice.

The crank convention had builded wiser than it knew. That the Democratic
Party could ever have been brought to the support of Horace Greeley for
President of the United States reads even now like a page out of a nonsense
book. That his warmest support should have come from the South seems
incredible and was a priceless fact. His martyrdom shortened the distance
across the bloody chasm; his coffin very nearly filled it. The candidacy of
Charles Francis Adams or of Lyman Trumbull meant a mathematical formula,
with no solution of the problem and as certain defeat at the end of it.
His candidacy threw a flood of light and warmth into the arena of deadly
strife; it made a more equal and reasonable division of parties possible;
it put the Southern half of the country in a position to plead its own
case by showing the Northern half that it was not wholly recalcitrant or
reactionary; and it made way for real issues of pith and moment relating to
the time instead of pigments of bellicose passion and scraps of ante-bellum
controversy.

In a word Greeley did more by his death to complete the work of Lincoln
than he could have done by a triumph at the polls and the term in the White
House he so much desired. Though but sixty-one years of age, his race
was run. Of him it may be truly written that he lived a life full of
inspiration to his countrymen and died not in vain, "our later Franklin"
fittingly inscribed upon his tomb.



Chapter the Twelfth

    The Ideal in Public Life--Politicians, Statesmen and Philosophers--The
    Disputed Presidency in 1876--The Personality and Character of Mr.
    Tilden--His Election and Exclusion by a Partisan Tribunal



I


The soul of journalism is disinterestedness. But neither as a principle nor
an asset had this been generally discovered fifty years ago. Most of my
younger life I was accused of ulterior motives of political ambition,
whereas I had seen too much of preferment not to abhor it. To me, as to
my father, office has seemed ever a badge of servitude. For a long time,
indeed, I nursed the delusions of the ideal. The love of the ideal has not
in my old age quite deserted me. But I have seen the claim of it so much
abused that when a public man calls it for a witness I begin to suspect his
sincerity.

A virile old friend of mine--who lived in Texas, though he went there from
Rhode Island--used to declare with sententious emphasis that war is the
state of man. "Sir," he was wont to observe, addressing me as if I were
personally accountable, "you are emasculating the human species. You are
changing men into women and women into men. You are teaching everybody
to read, nobody to think; and do you know where you will end, sir?
Extermination, sir--extermination! On the north side of the North Pole
there is another world peopled by giants; ten thousand millions at the very
least; every giant of them a hundred feet high. Now about the time you have
reduced your universe to complete effeminacy some fool with a pick-axe will
break through the thin partition--the mere ice curtain--separating these
giants from us, and then they will sweep through and swoop down and swallow
you, sir, and the likes of you, with your topsy-turvy civilization, your
boasted literature and science and art!"

This old friend of mine had a sure recipe for success in public life.
"Whenever you get up to make a speech," said he, "begin by proclaiming
yourself the purest, the most disinterested of living men, and end
by intimating that you are the bravest;" and then with the charming
inconsistency of the dreamer he would add: "If there be anything on this
earth that I despise it is bluster."

Decidedly he was not a disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Yet he, too, in
his way was an idealist, and for all his oddity a man of intellectual
integrity, a trifle exaggerated perhaps in its methods and illustrations,
but true to his convictions of right and duty, as Emerson would have had
him be. For was it not Emerson who exclaimed, "We will walk on our own
feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds?"



II


In spite of our good Woodrow and our lamented Theodore I have quite made up
my mind that there is no such thing as the ideal in public life, construing
public life to refer to political transactions. The ideal may exist in art
and letters, and sometimes very young men imagine that it exists in very
young women. But here we must draw the line. As society is constituted the
ideal has no place, not even standing room, in the arena of civics.

If we would make a place for it we must begin by realizing this.
The painter, like the lover, is a law unto himself, with his little
picture--the poet, also, with his little rhyme--his atelier his universe,
his attic his field of battle, his weapons the utensils of his craft--he
himself his own Providence. It is not so in the world of action, where the
conditions are directly reversed; where the one player contends against
many players, seen and unseen; where each move is met by some counter-move;
where the finest touches are often unnoted of men or rudely blotted out by
a mysterious hand stretched forth from the darkness.

"I wish I could be as sure of anything," said Melbourne, "as Tom Macaulay
is of everything." Melbourne was a man of affairs, Macaulay a man of books;
and so throughout the story the men of action have been fatalists, from
Cæsar to Napoleon and Bismarck, nothing certain except the invisible player
behind the screen.

Of all human contrivances the most imperfect is government. In spite of
the essays of Bentham and Mill the science of government has yet to be
discovered. The ideal statesman can only exist in the ideal state, which
has never existed.

The politician, like the poor, we have always with us. As long as men
delegate to other men the function of acting for them, of thinking for
them, we shall continue to have him.

He is a variable quantity. In the crowded centers his distinguishing
marks are short hair and cunning; upon the frontier, sentiment and the
six-shooter! In New York he becomes a boss; in Kentucky and Texas, a
fighter and an orator. But the statesman--the ideal statesman--in the
mind's eye, Horatio! Bound by practical limitations such an anomaly would
be a statesman minus a party, a statesman who never gets any votes or
anywhere--a statesman perpetually out of a job. We have had some imitation
ideal statesmen who have been more or less successful in palming off their
pinchbeck wares for the real; but looking backward over the history of
the country we shall find the greatest among our public men--measuring
greatness by real and useful service--to have been while they lived least
regarded as idealists; for they were men of flesh and blood, who amid the
rush of events and the calls to duty could not stop to paint pictures, to
consider sensibilities, to put forth the deft hand where life and death
hung upon the stroke of a bludgeon or the swinging of a club.

Washington was not an ideal statesman, nor Hamilton, nor Jefferson, nor
Lincoln, though each of them conceived grandly and executed nobly. They
loved truth for truth's sake, even as they loved their country. Yet no one
of them ever quite attained his conception of it.

Truth indeed is ideal. But when we come to adapt and apply it, how many
faces it shows us, what varying aspects, so that he is fortunate who is
able to catch and hold a single fleeting expression. To bridle this and
saddle it, and, as we say in Kentucky, to ride it a turn or two around the
paddock or, still better, down the home-stretch of things accomplished,
is another matter. The real statesman must often do as he can, not as he
would; the ideal statesman existing only in the credulity of those simple
souls who are captivated by appearances or deceived by professions.

The nearest approach to the ideal statesman I have known was most grossly
stigmatized while he lived. I have Mr. Tilden in mind. If ever man pursued
an ideal life he did. From youth to age he dwelt amid his fancies. He was
truly a man of the world among men of letters and a man of letters among
men of the world. A philosopher pure and simple--a lover of books, of
pictures, of all things beautiful and elevating--he yet attained great
riches, and being a doctrinaire and having a passion for affairs he was
able to gratify the aspirations to eminence and the yearning to be of
service to the State which had filled his heart.

He seemed a medley of contradiction. Without the artifices usual to the
practical politician he gradually rose to be a power in his party; thence
to become the leader of a vast following, his name a shibboleth to millions
of his countrymen, who enthusiastically supported him and who believed that
he was elected Chief Magistrate of the United States. He was an idealist;
he lost the White House because he was so, though represented while he
lived by his enemies as a scheming spider weaving his web amid the coil of
mystification in which he hid himself. For he was personally known to few
in the city where he had made his abode; a great lawyer and jurist who
rarely appeared in court; a great political leader to whom the hustings
were mainly a stranger; a thinker, and yet a dreamer, who lived his own
life a little apart, as a poet might; uncorrupting and incorruptible; least
of all were his political companions moved by the loss of the presidency,
which had seemed in his grasp. And finally he died--though a master of
legal lore--to have his last will and testament successfully assailed.

Except as news venders the newspapers--especially newspaper workers--should
give politics a wide berth. Certainly they should have no party politics.
True to say, journalism and literature and politics are as wide apart as
the poles. From Bolingbroke, the most splendid of the world's failures, to
Thackeray, one of its greatest masters of letters--who happily did not get
the chance he sought in parliamentary life to fall--both English history
and American history are full of illustrations to this effect. Except in
the comic opera of French politics the poet, the artist, invested with
power, seems to lose his efficiency in the ratio of his genius; the
literary gift, instead of aiding, actually antagonizing the aptitude for
public business.

The statesman may not be fastidious. The poet, the artist, must be always
so. If the party leader preserve his integrity--if he keep himself
disinterested and clean--if his public influence be inspiring to his
countrymen and his private influence obstructive of cheats and rogues among
his adherents--he will have done well.

We have left behind us the gibbet and the stake. No further need of the
Voltaires, the Rousseaus and the Diderots to declaim against kingcraft
and priestcraft. We have done something more than mark time. We report
progress. Yet despite the miracles of modern invention how far in the arts
of government has the world traveled from darkness to light since the old
tribal days, and what has it learned except to enlarge the area, to
amplify and augment the agencies, to multiply and complicate the forms and
processes of corruption? By corruption I mean the dishonest advantage of
the few over the many.

The dreams of yesterday, we are told, become the realities of to-morrow.
In these despites I am an optimist. Much truly there needs still to be
learned, much to be unlearned. Advanced as we consider ourselves we are yet
a long way from the most rudimentary perception of the civilization we are
so fond of parading. The eternal verities--where shall we seek them? Little
in religious affairs, less still in commercial affairs, hardly any at all
in political affairs, that being right which represents each organism.
Still we progress. The pulpit begins to turn from the sinister visage of
theology and to teach the simple lessons of Christ and Him crucified. The
press, which used to be omniscient, is now only indiscriminate--a clear
gain, emitting by force of publicity, if not of shine, a kind of light
through whose diverse rays and foggy luster we may now and then get a
glimpse of truth.



III


The time is coming, if it has not already arrived, when among fair-minded
and intelligent Americans there will not be two opinions touching the
Hayes-Tilden contest for the presidency in 1876-77--that both by the
popular vote and a fair count of the electoral vote Tilden was elected
and Hayes was defeated; but the whole truth underlying the determinate
incidents which led to the rejection of Tilden and the seating of Hayes
will never be known.

"All history is a lie," observed Sir Robert Walpole, the corruptionist,
mindful of what was likely to be written about himself; and "What is
history," asked Napoleon, the conqueror, "but a fable agreed upon?"

In the first administration of Mr. Cleveland there were present at a
dinner table in Washington, the President being of the party, two leading
Democrats and two leading Republicans who had sustained confidential
relations to the principals and played important parts in the drama of the
Disputed Succession. These latter had been long upon terms of personal
intimacy. The occasion was informal and joyous, the good fellowship of the
heartiest.

Inevitably the conversation drifted to the Electoral Commission, which had
counted Tilden out and Hayes in, and of which each of the four had some
story to tell. Beginning in banter with interchanges of badinage it
presently fell into reminiscence, deepening as the interest of the
listeners rose to what under different conditions might have been described
as unguarded gayety if not imprudent garrulity. The little audience was
rapt.

Finally Mr. Cleveland raised both hands and exclaimed, "What would the
people of this country think if the roof could be lifted from this house
and they could hear these men?" And then one of the four, a gentleman noted
for his wealth both of money and humor, replied, "But the roof is not going
to be lifted from this house, and if any one repeats what I have said I
will denounce him as a liar."

Once in a while the world is startled by some revelation of the unknown
which alters the estimate of a historic event or figure; but it is
measurably true, as Metternich declares, that those who make history rarely
have time to write it.

It is not my wish in recurring to the events of nearly five-and-forty years
ago to invoke and awaken any of the passions of that time, nor my purpose
to assail the character or motives of any of the leading actors. Most of
them, including the principals, I knew well; to many of their secrets I
was privy. As I was serving, in a sense, as Mr. Tilden's personal
representative in the Lower House of the Forty-fourth Congress, and as a
member of the joint Democratic Advisory or Steering Committee of the two
Houses, all that passed came more or less, if not under my supervision, yet
to my knowledge; and long ago I resolved that certain matters should remain
a sealed book in my memory.

I make no issue of veracity with the living; the dead should be sacred.
The contradictory promptings, not always crooked; the double constructions
possible to men's actions; the intermingling of ambition and patriotism
beneath the lash of party spirit; often wrong unconscious of itself;
sometimes equivocation deceiving itself--in short, the tangled web of good
and ill inseparable from great affairs of loss and gain made debatable
ground for every step of the Hayes-Tilden proceeding.

I shall bear sure testimony to the integrity of Mr. Tilden. I directly know
that the presidency was offered to him for a price, and that he refused it;
and I indirectly know and believe that two other offers came to him, which
also he declined. The accusation that he was willing to buy, and through
the cipher dispatches and other ways tried to buy, rests upon appearance
supporting mistaken surmise. Mr. Tilden knew nothing of the cipher
dispatches until they appeared in the New York _Tribune_. Neither did
Mr. George W. Smith, his private secretary, and later one of the trustees
of his will.

It should be sufficient to say that so far as they involved No. 15 Gramercy
Park they were the work solely of Colonel Pelton, acting on his own
responsibility, and as Mr. Tilden's nephew exceeding his authority to act;
that it later developed that during this period Colonel Pelton had not been
in his perfect mind, but was at least semi-irresponsible; and that on two
occasions when the vote or votes sought seemed within reach Mr. Tilden
interposed to forbid. Directly and personally I know this to be true.

The price, at least in patronage, which the Republicans actually paid
for possession is of public record. Yet I not only do not question the
integrity of Mr. Hayes, but I believe him and most of those immediately
about him to have been high-minded men who thought they were doing for the
best in a situation unparalleled and beset with perplexity. What they did
tends to show that men will do for party and in concert what the same men
never would be willing to do each on his own responsibility. In his "Life
of Samuel J. Tilden," John Bigelow says:

"Why persons occupying the most exalted positions should have ventured to
compromise their reputations by this deliberate consummation of a series of
crimes which struck at the very foundations of the republic is a question
which still puzzles many of all parties who have no charity for the crimes
themselves. I have already referred to the terrors and desperation with
which the prospect of Tilden's election inspired the great army of
office-holders at the close of Grant's administration. That army, numerous
and formidable as it was, was comparatively limited. There was a much
larger and justly influential class who were apprehensive that the return
of the Democratic party to power threatened a reactionary policy at
Washington, to the undoing of some or all the important results of the
war. These apprehensions were inflamed by the party press until they were
confined to no class, but more or less pervaded all the Northern States.
The Electoral Tribunal, consisting mainly of men appointed to their
positions by Republican Presidents or elected from strong Republican
States, felt the pressure of this feeling, and from motives compounded in
more or less varying proportions of dread of the Democrats, personal
ambition, zeal for their party and respect for their constituents,
reached the conclusion that the exclusion of Tilden from the White House
was an end which justified whatever means were necessary to accomplish
it. They regarded it, like the emancipation of the slaves, as a war
measure."



IV


The nomination of Horace Greeley in 1872 and the overwhelming defeat that
followed left the Democratic party in an abyss of despair. The old Whig
party, after the disaster that overtook it in 1852, had been not more
demoralized. Yet in the general elections of 1874 the Democrats swept the
country, carrying many Northern States and sending a great majority to the
Forty-fourth Congress.

Reconstruction was breaking down of its very weight and rottenness. The
panic of 1873 reacted against the party in power. Dissatisfaction with
Grant, which had not sufficed two years before to displace him, was growing
apace. Favoritism bred corruption and corruption grew more and more
flagrant. Succeeding scandals cast their shadows before. Chickens of
carpetbaggery let loose upon the South were coming home to roost at the
North. There appeared everywhere a noticeable subsidence of the sectional
spirit. Reform was needed alike in the State Governments and the National
Government, and the cry for reform proved something other than an idle
word. All things made for Democracy.

Yet there were many and serious handicaps. The light and leading of the
historic Democratic party which had issued from the South were in obscurity
and abeyance, while most of those surviving who had been distinguished in
the party conduct and counsels were disabled by act of Congress. Of the few
prominent Democrats left at the North many were tainted by what was called
Copperheadism--sympathy with the Confederacy. To find a chieftain wholly
free from this contamination, Democracy, having failed of success in
presidential campaigns, not only with Greeley but with McClellan and
Seymour, was turning to such Republicans as Chase, Field and Davis. At last
heaven seemed to smile from the clouds upon the disordered ranks and to
summon thence a man meeting the requirements of the time. This was Samuel
Jones Tilden.

To his familiars Mr. Tilden was a dear old bachelor who lived in a fine old
mansion in Gramercy Park. Though 60 years old he seemed in the prime of
his manhood; a genial and overflowing scholar; a trained and earnest
doctrinaire; a public-spirited, patriotic citizen, well known and highly
esteemed, who had made fame and fortune at the bar and had always been
interested in public affairs. He was a dreamer with a genius for business,
a philosopher yet an organizer. He pursued the tenor of his life with
measured tread.

His domestic fabric was disfigured by none of the isolation and squalor
which so often attend the confirmed celibate. His home life was a model
of order and decorum, his home as unchallenged as a bishopric, its
hospitality, though select, profuse and untiring. An elder sister presided
at his board, as simple, kindly and unostentatious, but as methodical as
himself. He was a lover of books rather than music and art, but also of
horses and dogs and out-of-door activity.

He was fond of young people, particularly of young girls; he drew them
about him, and was a veritable Sir Roger de Coverley in his gallantries
toward them and his zeal in amusing them and making them happy. His
tastes were frugal and their indulgence was sparing. He took his wine not
plenteously, though he enjoyed it--especially his "blue seal" while
it lasted--and sipped his whisky-and-water on occasion with a pleased
composure redolent of discursive talk, of which, when he cared to lead
the conversation, he was a master. He had early come into a great legal
practice and held a commanding professional position. His judgment was
believed to be infallible; and it is certain that after 1871 he rarely
appeared in the courts of law except as counsellor, settling in chambers
most of the cases that came to him.

It was such a man whom, in 1874, the Democrats nominated for Governor of
New York. To say truth, it was not thought by those making the nomination
that he had any chance to win. He was himself so much better advised that
months ahead he prefigured very near the exact vote. The afternoon of the
day of election one of the group of friends, who even thus early had the
Presidency in mind, found him in his library confident and calm.

"What majority will you have?" he asked cheerily.

"Any," replied the friend sententiously.

"How about fifteen thousand?"

"Quite enough."

"Twenty-five thousand?"

"Still better."

"The majority," he said, "will be a little in excess of fifty thousand."

It was 53,315. His estimate was not guesswork. He had organized his
campaign by school districts. His canvass system was perfect, his
canvassers were as penetrating and careful as census takers. He had before
him reports from every voting precinct in the State. They were corroborated
by the official returns. He had defeated Gen. John A. Dix, thought to be
invincible by a majority very nearly the same as that by which Governor Dix
had been elected two years before.



V


The time and the man had met. Though Mr. Tilden had not before held
executive office he was ripe and ready for the work. His experience in the
pursuit and overthrow of the Tweed Ring in New York, the great metropolis,
had prepared and fitted him to deal with the Canal Ring at Albany, the
State capital. Administrative reform was now uppermost in the public mind,
and here in the Empire State of the Union had come to the head of affairs
a Chief Magistrate at once exact and exacting, deeply versed not only in
legal lore but in a knowledge of the methods by which political power
was being turned to private profit and of the men--Democrats as well as
Republicans--who were preying upon the substance of the people.

The story of the two years that followed relates to investigations that
investigated, to prosecutions that convicted, to the overhauling of popular
censorship, to reduced estimates and lower taxes.

The campaign for the Presidential nomination began as early as the autumn
of 1875. The Southern end of it was easy enough. A committee of Southerners
residing in New York was formed. Never a leading Southern man came to town
who was not "seen." If of enough importance he was taken to No. 15 Gramercy
Park. Mr. Tilden measured to the Southern standard of the gentleman in
politics. He impressed the disfranchised Southern leaders as a statesman
of the old order and altogether after their own ideas of what a President
ought to be.

The South came to St. Louis, the seat of the National Convention,
represented by its foremost citizens, and almost a unit for the Governor of
New York. The main opposition sprang from Tammany Hall, of which John Kelly
was then the chief. Its very extravagance proved an advantage to Tilden.

Two days before the meeting of the convention I sent this message to Mr.
Tilden: "Tell Blackstone"--his favorite riding horse--"that he wins in a
walk."

The anti-Tilden men put up the Hon. S.S.--"Sunset"--Cox for temporary
chairman. It was a clever move. Mr. Cox, though sure for Tammany, was
popular everywhere and especially at the South. His backers thought that
with him they could count a majority of the National Committee.

The night before the assembling Mr. Tilden's two or three leading friends
on the committee came to me and said: "We can elect you chairman over Cox,
but no one else."

I demurred at once. "I don't know one rule of parliamentary law from
another," I said.

"We will have the best parliamentarian on the continent right by you all
the time," they said.

"I can't see to recognize a man on the floor of the convention," I said.

"We'll have a dozen men at hand to tell you," they replied. So it was
arranged, and thus at the last moment I was chosen.

I had barely time to write the required keynote speech, but not enough to
commit it to memory; nor sight to read it, even had I been willing to adopt
that mode of delivery. It would not do to trust to extemporization. A
friend, Col. J. Stoddard Johnston, who was familiar with my penmanship,
came to the rescue. Concealing my manuscript behind his hat he lined the
words out to me between the cheering, I having mastered a few opening
sentences.

Luck was with me. It went with a bang--not, however, wholly without
detection. The Indianans, devoted to Hendricks, were very wroth.

"See that fat man behind the hat telling him what to say," said one to his
neighbor, who answered, "Yes, and wrote it for him, too, I'll be bound!"

One might as well attempt to drive six horses by proxy as preside over a
national convention by hearsay. I lost my parliamentarian at once. I
just made my parliamentary law as we went. Never before or since did any
deliberate body proceed under manual so startling and original. But
I delivered each ruling with a resonance--it were better called an
impudence--which had an air of authority. There was a good deal of quiet
laughter on the floor among the knowing ones, though I knew the mass was
as ignorant as I was myself; but realizing that I meant to be just and was
expediting business the convention soon warmed to me, and feeling this I
began to be perfectly at home. I never had a better day's sport in all my
life.

One incident was particularly amusing. Much against my will and over my
protest I was brought to promise that Miss Phoebe Couzins, who bore a
Woman's Rights Memorial, should at some opportune moment be given the floor
to present it. I foresaw what a row it was bound to occasion.

Toward noon, when there was a lull in the proceedings, I said with an
emphasis meant to carry conviction: "Gentlemen of the convention, Miss
Phoebe Couzins, a representative of the Woman's Association of America, has
a memorial from that body, and in the absence of other business the chair
will now recognize her."

Instantly and from every part of the hall arose cries of "No!" These put
some heart into me. Many a time as a schoolboy I had proudly declaimed the
passage from John Home's tragedy, "My Name is Norval." Again I stood upon
"the Grampian hills." The committee was escorting Miss Couzins down the
aisle. When she came within the radius of my poor vision I saw that she was
a beauty and dressed to kill.

That was reassurance. Gaining a little time while the hall fairly rocked
with its thunder of negation I laid the gavel down and stepped to the edge
of the platform and gave Miss Couzins my hand.

As she appeared above the throng there was a momentary "Ah!" and then a
lull, broken by a single voice:

"Mister Chairman. I rise to a point of order."

Leading Miss Couzins to the front of the stage I took up the gavel and gave
a gentle rap, saying: "The gentleman will take his seat."

"But, Mister Chairman, I rose to a point of order," he vociferated.

"The gentleman will take his seat instantly," I answered in a tone of one
about to throw the gavel at his head. "No point of order is in order when a
lady has the floor."

After that Miss Couzins received a positive ovation and having delivered
her message retired in a blaze of glory.



VI


Mr. Tilden was nominated on the second ballot. The campaign that followed
proved one of the most memorable in our history. When it came to an end
the result showed on the face of the returns 196 in the Electoral College,
eleven more than a majority; and in the popular vote 4,300,316, a majority
of 264,300 for Tilden over Hayes.

How this came to be first contested and then complicated so as ultimately
to be set aside has been minutely related by its authors. The newspapers,
both Republican and Democratic, of November 8, 1876, the morning after the
election, conceded an overwhelming victory for Tilden and Hendricks. There
was, however, a single exception. The New York Times had gone to press with
its first edition, leaving the result in doubt but inclining toward the
success of the Democrats. In its later editions this tentative attitude
was changed to the statement that Mr. Hayes lacked the vote of
Florida--"claimed by the Republicans"--to be sure of the required votes in
the Electoral College.

The story of this surprising discrepancy between midnight and daylight
reads like a chapter of fiction.

After the early edition of the Times had gone to press certain members of
the editorial staff were at supper, very much cast down by the returns,
when a messenger brought a telegram from Senator Barnum, of Connecticut,
financial head of the Democratic National Committee, asking for the Times'
latest news from Oregon, Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina. But for
that unlucky telegram Tilden would probably have been inaugurated President
of the United States.

The Times people, intense Republican partisans, at once saw an opportunity.
If Barnum did not know, why might not a doubt be raised? At once the
editorial in the first edition was revised to take a decisive tone and
declare the election of Hayes. One of the editorial council, Mr. John C.
Reid, hurried to Republican headquarters in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, which
he found deserted, the triumph of Tilden having long before sent everybody
to bed. Mr. Reid then sought the room of Senator Zachariah Chandler,
chairman of the National Republican Committee.

While upon this errand he encountered in the hotel corridor "a small man
wearing an enormous pair of goggles, his hat drawn over his ears, a
greatcoat with a heavy military cloak, and carrying a gripsack and
newspaper in his hand. The newspaper was the New York Tribune," announcing
the election of Tilden and the defeat of Hayes. The newcomer was Mr.
William E. Chandler, even then a very prominent Republican politician,
just arrived from New Hampshire and very much exasperated by what he had
read.

Mr. Reid had another tale to tell. The two found Mr. Zachariah Chandler,
who bade them leave him alone and do whatever they thought best. They
did so, consumingly, sending telegrams to Columbia, Tallahassee and New
Orleans, stating to each of the parties addressed that the result of the
election depended upon his State. To these was appended the signature of
Zachariah Chandler.

Later in the day Senator Chandler, advised of what had been set on foot
and its possibilities, issued from National Republican headquarters this
laconic message: "Hayes has 185 electoral votes and is elected."

Thus began and was put in motion the scheme to confuse the returns and make
a disputed count of the vote.



VII


The day after the election I wired Mr. Tilden suggesting that as Governor
of New York he propose to Mr. Hayes, the Governor of Ohio, that they unite
upon a committee of eminent citizens, composed in equal numbers of the
friends of each, who should proceed at once to Louisiana, which appeared to
be the objective point of greatest moment to the already contested result.
Pursuant to a telegraphic correspondence which followed, I left Louisville
that night for New Orleans. I was joined en route by Mr. Lamar and General
Walthal, of Mississippi, and together we arrived in the Crescent City
Friday morning.

It has since transpired that the Republicans were promptly advised by the
Western Union Telegraph Company of all that had passed over its wires, my
dispatches to Mr. Tilden being read in Republican headquarters at least as
soon as they reached Gramercy Park.

Mr. Tilden did not adopt the plan of a direct proposal to Mr. Hayes.
Instead he chose a body of Democrats to go to the "seat of war." But before
any of them had arrived General Grant, the actual President, anticipating
what was about to happen, appointed a body of Republicans for the like
purpose, and the advance guard of these appeared on the scene the following
Monday.

Within a week the St. Charles Hotel might have been mistaken for a
caravansary of the national capital. Among the Republicans were John
Sherman, Stanley Matthews, Garfield, Evarts, Logan, Kelley, Stoughton, and
many others. Among the Democrats, besides Lamar, Walthal and myself, came
Lyman Trumbull, Samuel J. Randall, William R. Morrison, McDonald, of
Indiana, and many others.

A certain degree of personal intimacy existed between the members of the
two groups, and the "entente" was quite as unrestrained as might have
existed between rival athletic teams. A Kentucky friend sent me a demijohn
of what was represented as very old Bourbon, and I divided it with
"our friends the enemy." New Orleans was new to most of the "visiting
statesmen," and we attended the places of amusement, lived in the
restaurants, and saw the sights as if we had been tourists in a foreign
land and not partisans charged with the business of adjusting a
Presidential election from implacable points of view.

My own relations were especially friendly with John Sherman and James A.
Garfield, a colleague on the Committee of Ways and Means, and with Stanley
Matthews, a near kinsman by marriage, who had stood as an elder brother to
me from my childhood.

Corruption was in the air. That the Returning Board was for sale and could
be bought was the universal impression. Every day some one turned up with
pretended authority and an offer to sell. Most of these were, of course,
the merest adventurers. It was my own belief that the Returning Board was
playing for the best price it could get from the Republicans and that the
only effect of any offer to buy on our part would be to assist this scheme
of blackmail.

The Returning Board consisted of two white men, Wells and Anderson; and two
negroes, Kenner and Casanave. One and all they were without character. I
was tempted through sheer curiosity to listen to a proposal which seemed to
come direct from the board itself, the messenger being a well-known State
Senator. As if he were proposing to dispose of a horse or a dog he stated
his errand.

"You think you can deliver the goods?" said I.

"I am authorized to make the offer," he answered.

"And for how much?" I asked.

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars," he replied. "One hundred thousand
each for Wells and Anderson, and twenty-five thousand apiece for the
niggers."

To my mind it was a joke. "Senator," said I, "the terms are as cheap as
dirt. I don't happen to have the amount about me at the moment, but I will
communicate with my principal and see you later."

Having no thought of entertaining the proposal, I had forgotten the
incident, when two or three days later my man met me in the lobby of the
hotel and pressed for a definite reply. I then told him I had found that I
possessed no authority to act and advised him to go elsewhere.

It is asserted that Wells and Anderson did agree to sell and were turned
down by Mr. Hewitt; and, being refused their demands for cash by the
Democrats, took their final pay, at least in patronage, from their own
party.



VIII


I passed the Christmas week of 1876 in New York with Mr. Tilden. On
Christmas day we dined alone. The outlook, on the whole, was cheering.
With John Bigelow and Manton Marble, Mr. Tilden had been busily engaged
compiling the data for a constitutional battle to be fought by
the Democrats in Congress, maintaining the right of the House of
Representatives to concurrent jurisdiction with the Senate in the counting
of the electoral vote, pursuant to an unbroken line of precedents
established by that method of proceeding in every presidential election
between 1793 and 1872.

There was very great perplexity in the public mind. Both parties appeared
to be at sea. The dispute between the Democratic House and the
Republican Senate made for thick weather. Contests of the vote of three
States--Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida, not to mention single votes
in Oregon and Vermont--which presently began to blow a gale, had already
spread menacing clouds across the political sky. Except Mr. Tilden, the
wisest among the leaders knew not precisely what to do.

From New Orleans, on the Saturday night succeeding the presidential
election, I had telegraphed to Mr. Tilden detailing the exact conditions
there and urging active and immediate agitation. The chance had been lost.
I thought then and I still think that the conspiracy of a few men to use
the corrupt returning boards of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida to
upset the election and make confusion in Congress might by prompt exposure
and popular appeal have been thwarted. Be this as it may, my spirit was
depressed and my confidence discouraged by the intense quietude on our
side, for I was sure that beneath the surface the Republicans, with
resolute determination and multiplied resources, were as busy as bees.

Mr. Robert M. McLane, later Governor of Maryland and later still Minister
to France--a man of rare ability and large experience, who had served in
Congress and in diplomacy, and was an old friend of Mr. Tilden--had been at
a Gramercy Park conference when my New Orleans report arrived, and had then
and there urged the agitation recommended by me. He was now again in New
York. When a lad he had been in England with his father, Lewis McLane, then
American Minister to the Court of St. James, during the excitement over the
Reform Bill of 1832. He had witnessed the popular demonstrations and had
been impressed by the direct force of public opinion upon law-making and
law-makers. An analogous situation had arrived in America. The Republican
Senate was as the Tory House of Lords. We must organize a movement such as
had been so effectual in England. Obviously something was going amiss with
us and something had to be done.

It was agreed that I should return to Washington and make a speech "feeling
the pulse" of the country, with the suggestion that in the National Capital
should assemble "a mass convention of at least 100,000 peaceful citizens,"
exercising "the freeman's right of petition."

The idea was one of many proposals of a more drastic kind and was the
merest venture. I myself had no great faith in it. But I prepared the
speech, and after much reading and revising, it was held by Mr. Tilden and
Mr. McLane to cover the case and meet the purpose, Mr. Tilden writing Mr.
Randall, Speaker of the House of Representatives, a letter, carried to
Washington by Mr. McLane, instructing him what to do in the event that the
popular response should prove favorable.

Alack the day! The Democrats were equal to nothing affirmative. The
Republicans were united and resolute. I delivered the speech, not in
the House, as had been intended, but at a public meeting which seemed
opportune. The Democrats at once set about denying the sinister and violent
purpose ascribed to it by the Republicans, who, fully advised that it
had emanated from Gramercy Park and came by authority, started a counter
agitation of their own.

I became the target for every kind of ridicule and abuse. Nast drew a
grotesque cartoon of me, distorting my suggestion for the assembling of
100,000 citizens, which was both offensive and libellous.

Being on friendly terms with the Harpers, I made my displeasure so resonant
in Franklin Square--Nast himself having no personal ill will toward
me--that a curious and pleasing opportunity which came to pass was taken to
make amends. A son having been born to me, Harper's Weekly contained an
atoning cartoon representing the child in its father's arms, and, above,
the legend "10,000 sons from Kentucky alone." Some wag said that the son
in question was "the only one of the 100,000 in arms who came when he was
called."

For many years afterward I was pursued by this unlucky speech, or rather
by the misinterpretation given to it alike by friend and foe. Nast's
first cartoon was accepted as a faithful portrait, and I was accordingly
satirized and stigmatized, though no thought of violence ever had entered
my mind, and in the final proceedings I had voted for the Electoral
Commission Bill and faithfully stood by its decisions. Joseph Pulitzer, who
immediately followed me on the occasion named, declared that he wanted my
"one hundred thousand" to come fully armed and ready for business; yet he
never was taken to task or reminded of his temerity.



IX


The Electoral Commission Bill was considered with great secrecy by the
joint committees of the House and Senate. Its terms were in direct
contravention of Mr. Tilden's plan. This was simplicity itself. He was
for asserting by formal resolution the conclusive right of the two Houses
acting concurrently to count the electoral vote and determine what should
be counted as electoral votes; and for denying, also by formal resolution,
the pretension set up by the Republicans that the President of the Senate
had lawful right to assume that function. He was for urging that issue
in debate in both Houses and before the country. He thought that if the
attempt should be made to usurp for the president of the Senate a power to
make the count, and thus practically to control the Presidential election,
the scheme would break down in process of execution.

Strange to say, Mr. Tilden was not consulted by the party leaders in
Congress until the fourteenth of January, and then only by Mr. Hewitt, the
extra constitutional features of the electoral-tribunal measure having
already received the assent of Mr. Bayard and Mr. Thurman, the Democratic
members of the Senate committee.

Standing by his original plan and answering Mr. Hewitt's statement that Mr.
Bayard and Mr. Thurman were fully committed, Mr. Tilden said: "Is it not,
then, rather late to consult me?"

To which Mr. Hewitt replied: "They do not consult you. They are public men,
and have their own duties and responsibilities. I consult you."

In the course of the discussion with Mr. Hewitt which followed Mr. Tilden
said: "If you go into conference with your adversary, and can't break off
because you feel you must agree to something, you cannot negotiate--you are
not fit to negotiate. You will be beaten upon every detail."

Replying to the apprehension of a collision of force between the parties
Mr. Tilden thought it exaggerated, but said: "Why surrender now? You can
always surrender. Why surrender before the battle for fear you may have to
surrender after the battle?"

In short, Mr. Tilden condemned the proceeding as precipitate. It was a
month before the time for the count, and he saw no reason why opportunity
should not be given for consideration and consultation by all the
representatives of the people. He treated the state of mind of Bayard and
Thurman as a panic in which they were liable to act in haste and repent at
leisure. He stood for publicity and wider discussion, distrusting a scheme
to submit such vast interests to a small body sitting in the Capitol as
likely to become the sport of intrigue and fraud.

Mr. Hewitt returned to Washington and without communicating to Mr. Tilden's
immediate friends in the House his attitude and objection, united with
Mr. Thurman and Mr. Bayard in completing the bill and reporting it to the
Democratic Advisory Committee, as, by a caucus rule, had to be done with
all measures relating to the great issue then before us. No intimation had
preceded it. It fell like a bombshell upon the members of the committee.

In the debate that followed Mr. Bayard was very insistent, answering the
objections at once offered by me, first aggressively and then angrily,
going the length of saying, "If you do not accept this plan I shall wash my
hands of the whole business, and you can go ahead and seat your President
in your own way."

Mr. Randall, the Speaker, said nothing, but he was with me, as were a
majority of my colleagues. It was Mr. Hunton, of Virginia, who poured oil
on the troubled waters, and somewhat in doubt as to whether the changed
situation had changed Mr. Tilden I yielded my better judgment, declaring
it as my opinion that the plan would seat Hayes; and there being no other
protestant the committee finally gave a reluctant assent.

In open session a majority of Democrats favored the bill. Many of them made
it their own. They passed it. There was belief that Justice David Davis,
who was expected to become a member of the commission, was sure for Tilden.
If, under this surmise, he had been, the political complexion of "8 to 7"
would have been reversed.

Elected to the United States Senate from Illinois, Judge Davis declined to
serve, and Mr. Justice Bradley was chosen for the commission in his place.

The day after the inauguration of Hayes my kinsman, Stanley Matthews, said
to me: "You people wanted Judge Davis. So did we. I tell you what I know,
that Judge Davis was as safe for us as Judge Bradley. We preferred him
because he carried more weight."

The subsequent career of Judge Davis in the Senate gave conclusive proof
that this was true.

When the consideration of the disputed votes before the commission had
proceeded far enough to demonstrate the likelihood that its final decision
would be for Hayes a movement of obstruction and delay, a filibuster, was
organized by about forty Democratic members of the House. It proved rather
turbulent than effective. The South stood very nearly solid for carrying
out the agreement in good faith.

Toward the close the filibuster received what appeared formidable
reinforcement from the Louisiana delegation. This was in reality merely
a bluff, intended to induce the Hayes people to make certain concessions
touching their State government. It had the desired effect. Satisfactory
assurances having been given, the count proceeded to the end--a very bitter
end indeed for the Democrats.

The final conference between the Louisianans and the accredited
representatives of Mr. Hayes was held at Wormley's Hotel and came to be
called "the Wormley Conference." It was the subject of uncommon interest
and heated controversy at the time and long afterward. Without knowing why
or for what purpose, I was asked to be present by my colleague, Mr. Ellis,
of Louisiana, and later in the day the same invitation came to me from the
Republicans through Mr. Garfield. Something was said about my serving as a
referee.

Just before the appointed hour Gen. M. C. Butler, of South Carolina,
afterward so long a Senator in Congress, said to me: "This meeting is
called to enable Louisiana to make terms with Hayes. South Carolina is
as deeply concerned as Louisiana, but we have nobody to represent us in
Congress and hence have not been invited. South Carolina puts herself in
your hands and expects you to secure for her whatever terms are given to
Louisiana."

So of a sudden I found myself invested with responsibility equally as an
agent and a referee.

It is hardly worth while repeating in detail all that passed at this
Wormley Conference, made public long ago by Congressional investigation.
When I entered the apartment of Mr. Evarts at Wormley's I found, besides
Mr. Evarts, Mr. John Sherman, Mr. Garfield, Governor Dennison, and Mr.
Stanley Matthews, of the Republicans; and Mr. Ellis, Mr. Levy, and Mr.
Burke, Democrats of Louisiana. Substantially the terms had been agreed upon
during the previous conferences--that is, the promise that if Hayes came in
the troops should be withdrawn and the people of Louisiana be left free to
set their house in order to suit themselves. The actual order withdrawing
the troops was issued by President Grant two or three days later, just as
he was going out of office.

"Now, gentlemen," said I, half in jest, "I am here to represent South
Carolina; and if the terms given to Louisiana are not equally applied to
South Carolina I become a filibuster myself to-morrow morning."

There was some chaffing as to what right I had there and how I got in, when
with great earnestness Governor Dennison, who had been the bearer of a
letter from Mr. Hayes, which he had read to us, put his hand on my shoulder
and said: "As a matter of course the Southern policy to which Mr. Hayes has
here pledged himself embraces South Carolina as well as Louisiana."

Mr. Sherman, Mr. Garfield and Mr. Evarts concurred warmly in this, and
immediately after we separated I communicated the fact to General Butler.

In the acrimonious discussion which subsequently sought to make "bargain,
intrigue and corruption" of this Wormley Conference, and to involve certain
Democratic members of the House who were nowise party to it but had
sympathized with the purpose of Louisiana and South Carolina to obtain some
measure of relief from intolerable local conditions, I never was questioned
or assailed. No one doubted my fidelity to Mr. Tilden, who had been
promptly advised of all that passed and who approved what I had done.

Though "conscripted," as it were, and rather a passive agent, I could
see no wrong in the proceeding. I had spoken and voted in favor of the
Electoral Tribunal Bill, and losing, had no thought of repudiating its
conclusions. Hayes was already as good as seated. If the States of
Louisiana and South Carolina could save their local autonomy out of the
general wreck there seemed no good reason to forbid.

On the other hand, the Republican leaders were glad of an opportunity to
make an end of the corrupt and tragic farce of Reconstruction; to unload
their party of a dead weight which had been burdensome and was growing
dangerous; mayhap to punish their Southern agents, who had demanded so much
for doctoring the returns and making an exhibit in favor of Hayes.



X


Mr. Tilden accepted the result with equanimity.

"I was at his house," says John Bigelow, "when his exclusion was announced
to him, and also on the fourth of March when Mr. Hayes was inaugurated, and
it was impossible to remark any change in his manner, except perhaps that
he was less absorbed than usual and more interested in current affairs."

His was an intensely serious mind; and he had come to regard the
presidency as rather a burden to be borne--an opportunity for public
usefulness--involving a life of constant toil and care, than as an occasion
for personal exploitation and rejoicing.

How much of captivation the idea of the presidency may have had for
him when he was first named for the office I cannot say, for he was as
unexultant in the moment of victory as he was unsubdued in the hour of
defeat; but it is certainly true that he gave no sign of disappointment to
any of his friends.

He lived nearly ten years longer, at Greystone, in a noble homestead he had
purchased for himself overlooking the Hudson River, the same ideal life of
the scholar and gentleman that he had passed in Gramercy Park.

Looking back over these untoward and sometimes mystifying events, I have
often asked myself: Was it possible, with the elements what they were, and
he himself what he was, to seat Mr. Tilden in the office to which he had
been elected? The missing ingredient in a character intellectually and
morally great and a personality far from unimpressive, was the touch of the
dramatic discoverable in most of the leaders of men; even in such leaders
as William of Orange and Louis XI; as Cromwell and Washington.

There was nothing spectacular about Mr. Tilden. Not wanting the sense of
humor, he seldom indulged it. In spite of his positiveness of opinion and
amplitude of knowledge he was always courteous and deferential in debate.
He had none of the audacious daring, let us say, of Mr. Elaine, the
energetic self-assertion of Mr. Roosevelt. Either in his place would have
carried all before him.

I repeat that he was never a subtle schemer--sitting behind the screen and
pulling his wires--which his political and party enemies discovered him to
be as soon as he began to get in the way of the machine and obstruct the
march of the self-elect. His confidences were not effusive, nor their
subjects numerous. His deliberation was unfailing and sometimes it carried
the idea of indecision, not to say actual love of procrastination. But in
my experience with him I found that he usually ended where he began, and it
was nowise difficult for those whom he trusted to divine the bias of his
mind where he thought it best to reserve its conclusions.

I do not think in any great affair he ever hesitated longer than the
gravity of the case required of a prudent man or that he had a preference
for delays or that he clung tenaciously to both horns of the dilemma, as
his training and instinct might lead him to do, and did certainly expose
him to the accusation of doing.

He was a philosopher and took the world as he found it. He rarely
complained and never inveighed. He had a discriminating way of balancing
men's good and bad qualities and of giving each the benefit of a generous
accounting, and a just way of expecting no more of a man than it was in him
to yield. As he got into deeper water his stature rose to its level, and
from his exclusion from the presidency in 1877 to his renunciation of
public affairs in 1884 and his death in 1886 his walks and ways might have
been a study for all who would learn life's truest lessons and know the
real sources of honor, happiness and fame.





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