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Title: My Day - Reminiscences of a Long Life
Author: Pryor, Sara Rice
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My Day - Reminiscences of a Long Life" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  The following variant spellings were found by readers and retained:

    mits should possibly be mitts
    Courtland and Cortlandt
    ante-bellum and antebellum
    practise and practice
    McIlwane and McIlwaine
    gray and grey
    Bremer and Brémer






  [Illustration: MRS. ROGER A. PRYOR.]

     MY DAY



     TIMES," ETC.




     _All rights reserved_

     COPYRIGHT, 1909,

     Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1909.

     Norwood Press
     J. S. Cushing Co.—Berwick & Smith Co.
     Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

     To the Memory of
     My Son
     Theodorick Bland Pryor

     _I stood at dawn by a limitless sea
       And watched the rose creep over the gray;
     Till the heavens were a glowing canopy!
       This was my day!_

     _The pale stars stole away, one by one—
       Like sensitive souls from the presence of Pride:
     The moon hung low, looking back, as the sun
       Rose over the tide._

     _And he, like a King, came up from the Sea!
       He opened my rose—unfettered my song—
     And quickened a heart to be true to me
       All the day long._

     _The soul that was born of a song and flower
       Of tender dawn-flush, and shadowy gray,
     Was strengthened by Love for a bitter hour
       That chilled my day._

     _I had dwelt in the garden of the Lord!
       I had gathered the sweets of a summer day:
     I was called to stand where a flaming sword
       Turned every way._

     _It spared not the weak—nor the strong—nor the dear;
       And following fast, like a phantom band,
     Famine and Fever and shuddering Fear
       Swept o'er the land._

     _They whispered that Hope, the angel of light,
       Would spread her white wings and speed her away;
     But she folded me close in my longest night
        And darkest day._

     _As of old, when the fire and tempest had passed,
       And an earthquake had riven the rocks, the Word
     In a still small voice rose over the blast—
       The Voice of the Lord._

     _And the Voice said: "Take up your lives again!
       Quit yourselves manfully! Stand in your lot!
     Let the Famine, the Fever, the Peril, the Pain,
       Be all forgot!_

     _"Weep no more for the lovely, the brave,
       The young head pillowed on a blood-stained sod;
     The daisy that grows on the soldier's grave
       Looks up to God!_

     _"The soul of the patriot-soldier stands
       With a mighty host in eternal calm,
     And He who pressed the sword to his hands
       Has given the Palm."_

            *       *       *       *       *

     _And now I stand with my face to the west,
       Shading mine eyes, for my glorious sun
     Is splendid again as he sinks to his rest—
       His day is done._

     _I have lost my rose, forgotten my song,
       But the true heart that loved me is mine alway;
     The stars are alight—the way not long—
       I had my day!_

_November 8, 1908._


     Mrs. Roger A. Pryor. From a Photograph, 1900      _Frontispiece_

                                                        FACING PAGE

     Residence of Dr. S. P. Hargrave                             43

     Mrs. Fanny Bland Randolph                                   71

     University of Virginia                                      75

     Stephen A. Douglas                                          85

     William Walker                                             121

     Washington in 1845                                         138

     General Robert E. Lee in 1861                              208

     Theodorick Bland Pryor                                     344

     William Rice Pryor                                         348

     Charlotte Cushman                                          359

     Helena Modjeska                                            362

     General Hancock                                            371

     General Sheridan                                           377

     Mrs. Vincenzo Botta                                        403

     Judge Roger A. Pryor in 1900                               447




I am constrained to encourage a possible reader by assuring him that I
have no intention whatever of writing strictly an autobiography. Nothing
in myself nor in my life would warrant me in so doing.

I might, perhaps, except the story of the Civil War, and my part in the
trials and sorrows of my fellow-women, but this story I have fully and
truly told in my "Reminiscences of Peace and War."

My countrymen were so kind to these first stories that I feel I may
claim some credentials as a "babbler of Reminiscences." Besides, I have
lived in the last two-thirds of the splendid nineteenth century, and
have known some of the men and women who made that century notable. And
I would fain believe with Mr. Trollope that "the small records of an
unimportant individual life, the memories which happen to linger in the
brain of the old like bits of drift-wood floating round and round in
the eddies of a back-water, can more vividly than anything else bring
before the young of the present generation those ways of acting and
thinking and talking in the everyday affairs of life which indicate the
differences between themselves and their grandfathers."

But I shall have more than this "floating driftwood" to reward the
reader who will follow me to the end of my story!

Writers of Reminiscences are interested—perhaps more interested than
their readers—in recalling their earliest sensations, and through them
determining at what age they had "found themselves"; _i.e._ become
conscious of their own personality and relation to the world they had

Long before this time the child has seen and learned more perhaps than
he ever learned afterwards in the same length of time. He has acquired
knowledge of a language sufficient for his needs. His miniature world
has been, in many respects, a foreshadowing of the world he will know
in his maturity. He has learned that he is a citizen of a country with
laws,—some of which it will be prudent to obey,—such as the law against
taking unpermitted liberties with the cat, or touching the flame of
the candle; while other laws may be evaded by cleverness and discreet
behavior. He finds around him many things; pictures on walls, for
instance, that may be admired but never touched,—other lovely things
that may be handled and even kissed, but must be returned to mantels
and tables,—and yet others, not near as delightful as these, "poor
things but his own," to be caressed or beaten, or even broken at his
pleasure. He has learned to indulge his natural taste for the drama. His
nurse covers her head with a paper and becomes the dreadful, groaning
villain behind it, while the baby girds himself for attack, tears the
disguise from the villain, and shouts his victory. As he learns the
names and peculiarities of animals, the scope of the drama widens. He is
a spirited horse, snorting and charging along, or—if his picture-books
have been favorable—a roaring lion from whom the nurse flees in terror.
Of the domestic play there is infinite variety—nursing in sickness, the
doctor, baby-tending, cooking,—and once, alas! I heard a baby girl of
eighteen months enact a fearful quarrel between man and wife, ending
firmly "I leave you! I never come back!"

These natural tendencies of children would seem to prove that the soul
or mind of man can be "fetched up from the cradle"—a phrase for which
I am indebted to one of my contemporaries, Mr. Leigh Hunt, who in turn
quoted it as a popular phrase in his late (and my early) day. But with
the single exception of the spoken language all these childish plays
have been successfully taught to our humble brothers; to our poor
relation the monkey, the dog, elephant, seal, canary bird—even to fleas.
All these are capable of enacting a short drama. The elephant, longing
for his bottle, never rings his bell too soon. The dog remembers his
cue, watches for it, and never anticipates it. The seal, more wonderful
than all, born as he has been without arms or legs, mounts a horse for
a ride, and waits for his umbrella to be poised on his stubby nose.
Even the creature whose name is a synonym for vulgar stupidity has been
taught to indicate with porcine finger the letters which spell that

With these and other animals we hold in common our faculty of imitation,
our memory, affection, antipathy, revenge, gratitude, passionate
adoration of one special friend, and even the perception of music—the
infant will weep and the poodle howl in response to the same strain
in a minor key—and yet, notwithstanding this common lot, this common
inheritance, there is born for us and not for them a moment when some
strange unseen power breathes into us something akin to consciousness
of a living soul.

Having no past as a standard for the reasonable and natural, nothing
surprises children. They are simply witnesses of a panorama in the
moving scenes of which they have no part. When I was three years old,
I visited my grandfather in Charlotte County. The Staunton River wound
around his plantation and I was often taken out rowing with my aunts.
One day the canoe tipped and my pretty Aunt Elizabeth fell overboard.
Without the slightest emotion I saw her fall, and saw her recovered.
For aught I knew to the contrary it was usual and altogether proper
for young ladies to fall in rivers and be fished out by their long
hair. But another event, quite ordinary, overwhelmed me with the most
passionate distress. Having, a short time before, advanced a tentative
finger for an experimental taste of an apple roasting for me at my
grandfather's fire, I was prepared to be shocked at seeing a colony of
ants rush madly about upon wood a servant was laying over the coals.
My cries of distress arrested my grandfather as he passed through the
room. He quickly ordered the sticks to be taken off, and calling me
to a seat in front of him, said gravely: "We will try these creatures
and see if they deserve punishment. Evidently they have invaded our
country. The question is, did they come of their own accord, or were
they while enjoying their rights of life and liberty, captured by us
and brought hither against their will?" My testimony was gravely taken.
I was quite positive I had seen the sticks, swarming with ants, laid
upon the fire. "Uncle Peter," who had brought in the wood, was summoned
and sharply cross-questioned. Nothing could shake him. To the best
of his knowledge and belief, "them ants nuvver come 'thouten they was
'bleeged to," and so, as they were by this time wildly scampering over
the floor, they were gently admonished by a persuasive broom to leave
the premises. Uncle Peter was positive they would find their way home
without difficulty, and I was comforted.

I remember this little incident perfectly; I can see my dear
grandfather, his white hair tied with a black ribbon _en queue_,
advancing his stick like a staff of office. I claim that then and
there—three years old—I found myself, "fetched up my soul" from
somewhere, almost "from the cradle," inasmuch as I had pitied
the unfortunate, unselfishly espoused his cause, and won for him
consideration and justice.

Writers of fiction are supposed to present, as in a mirror, the truth
as it is found in nature. They are fond of hinting that at some moment
in the early life of every individual something occurs which foreshadows
his fate, something which if interpreted—like the dreams of the ancient
Hebrews—would tell us without the aid of gypsy, medium, or clairvoyant
the things we so ardently desire to know. In Daniel Deronda, Gwendolyn,
in her moment of triumph, touches a spring in a panel, which, sliding
back, reveals a picture,—the upturned face of a drowning man. In Lewis
Rand, Jacqueline, the bride of half an hour, hears the story of a
duel—and the pistol-shot echoes ever after through her brain, filling
it with insistent foreboding.

We might recall illustrations of similar foreshadowing in real life. For
instance, Jean Carlyle, six years old, beautiful and vivid as a tropical
bird, stands before an audience to sing her little song; and waits in
vain for her accompanist. Finally she throws her apron over her head and
runs away in confusion. _She_ was prepared, she knew her part; but the
support was lacking, the accompaniment failed her. It was not given to
him who told the story to perceive the prophecy!

Were I fanciful enough to fix upon one moment as prophetic of my life—as
a key-note to the controlling principle of that life—I might recall the
incident in my grandfather's room, when I ceased to be merely an inert
absorber of light and warmth and comfort, and became aware of the _pain_
in the world—pain which I passionately longed to alleviate.


I had a childless aunt, who annually came up from her home in Hanover to
spend part of the summer with my parents and my grandfather. She begged
me of my mother for a visit, meant to be a brief one, and as she was
greatly loved and respected by her people, I was permitted to return
with her.

There were no railroads in Virginia at that time. All journeys were made
in private conveyances. The great coach-and-four had disappeared after
the Revolution. The carriage and pair, with the goatskin hair trunk
strapped on behind, or—in case the journey were long—a light wagon for
baggage, were now enough for the migratory Virginian.

He lived at home except for the three summer months, when it was his
invariable rule to visit Saratoga, or the White Sulphur, Warm, and Sweet
Springs, of Virginia, making a journey to the latter, in something less
than a week, now accomplished from New York in eight or nine hours.

The carriage on high springs creaked and rocked like a ship at sea.
Fortunately, it was well cushioned and padded within—and furnished at
the four corners with broad double straps through which the arms of
the passenger could be thrust to steady himself withal. He needed them
in the pitching and jolting over the rocks and ruts of dreadful roads.
Inside each door were ample pockets for sundry comforts—biscuits,
sandwiches, apples, restorative medicines and cordials, books and
papers. A flight of three or four carpeted steps was folded inside the
door. Twenty-five miles were considered "a day's journey," quite enough
for any pair of horses. At noon the latter were rested under the shade
of trees near some spring or clear brook, the carriage cushions were
laid out, and the luncheon! Well, I cannot presume to be greater than
the greatest of all our American artists,—he who could mould a hero in
bronze and make him live again; and hold us, silent and awed, in the
presence of the mysterious and unspeakable grief of a woman in marble!
Has he not confessed that although he remembers an early perception of
beauty in sky and sea, and field and wood—the memory that has followed
him vividly through life is of odors from a baker's oven, and from
apples stewing in a German neighbor's kitchen? Hot gingerbread and
spiced, sugared apples! I should say so, indeed!

In just such a carriage as I have described, I set forth with my strange
aunt and uncle—a little three-and-a-half-year-old! At night we slept in
some country tavern, surrounded by whispering aspen trees. A sign in
front, swung like a gibbet, promised "Refreshment for man and beast."
Invariably the landlord, grizzled, portly, and solemn, was lying at
length on a bench in his porch or lounging in a "split-bottom chair"
with his feet on the railing. He had seen our coming from afar. He
was eager for custom, but he had dignity to maintain. Lifting himself
slowly from his bench or chair, he would leisurely come forward, and
hesitatingly "reckon" he could accommodate us. I was mortally afraid of
him! Sinking into one of his deep feather beds, I trembled for my life
and wept for my mother.

Finally one night, wearied out with the long journey, we turned into
an avenue of cedars and neared our home. My aunt and uncle, on the
cushions of the back seat, little dreamed of the dire resolve of the
small rebel in front. Like the ants, I had been brought, against my
will, to a strange country. I silently determined I would not be a good
little girl. I would be as naughty as I could, give all the trouble I
could, and force them to send me home again. But with the morning sun
came perfect contentment, which soon blossomed into perfect happiness.
From my bed I ran out in my bare feet to a lovely veranda shaded by
roses. On one of the latticed bars a little wren bobbed his head in
greeting, and poured out his silver thread of a song. Gabriella, the
great tortoise-shell cat, with high uplifted tail, wooed and won me;
and when Milly, black and smiling, captured me, it was to introduce me
to an adorable doll and a little rocking-chair.

From that hour until I married I was the happy queen of the household,
the one whose highest good was wisely considered and for whose happiness
all the rest lived.

The bond between my aunt and her small niece could never be sundered,
and as she was greatly loved and trusted, and as many children blessed
my own dear mother, I was practically adopted as the only child of my
aunt and uncle, Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Pleasants Hargrave.


The general impression I retain of the world of my childhood is
of gardens—gardens everywhere; abloom with roses, lilies, violets,
jonquils, flowering almond-trees which never fruited, double-flowering
peach trees which also bore no fruit, but were, with the almond trees,
cherished for the beauty of their blossoms. And conservatories! These
began deep in the earth and were built two stories high at the back of
the house. They were entered by steps going down and only thus were they
entered. Windows opened into them from the parlor (always "parlor,"—not
drawing-room) or from my lady's chamber. On the floor were great tubs
of orange and lemon trees and the gorgeous flowering pomegranate. Along
the walls were shelves reached by short ladders, and on these shelves
were ranged cacti, gardenias (Cape Jessamine, or jasmine, as we knew
this queen of flowers), abutilon, golden globes of lantana, and the
much-prized snowy Camellia Japonica, sure to sent packed in cotton as
gifts to adorn the dusky tresses of some Virginia beauty, or clasp the
folds of her diaphanous kerchief. These camellias, long before they were
immortalized by the younger Dumas, were reckoned the most poetic and
elegant of all flowers—so pure and sensitive, resenting the profanation
of the slightest touch. No cavalier of that day would present to his
ladye faire the simple flowers we love to-day. These would come fast
enough with the melting of the snows early in February.

I have never forgotten the ecstasy of one of these early February
mornings. Mittened and hooded I ran down the garden walk from which the
snow had been swept and piled high on either side. Delicious little
rivers were running down and I launched a mighty fleet of leaves
and sticks. Suddenly I beheld a miracle. The snow was lying thickly
all around, but the sun had melted it from a south bank, and white
violets—hundreds of them—had popped out. I spread my apron on the clean
snow and filled it with the cool, crisp blossoms. Running in exultant
I poured my treasure into my dear aunt's lap as she sat on a low chair
which brought my head just on a level with her bosom. Ah! Like St.
Gaudens, I remember the gingerbread and apples!—but I remember the
violets also!

I can see myself in the early hot summer, sent forth to breathe the
cool air of the morning. What a paradise of sweets met my senses!
The squares, crescents, and circles edged with box, over which an
enchanted glistening veil had been thrown during the night; the tall
lilacs, snowballs, myrtles, and syringas, guarding like sentinels
the entrance to every avenue; the glowing beds of tulips, pinks,
purple iris, "bleeding hearts," flowering almond with rosy spikes,
lily-of-the-valley! I scanned them all with curious eyes. Did I not
know that the fairies, riding on butterflies, had visited each one and
painted it during the night? Did I not know that these same fairies
had hung their cups on the grass, and danced so long that the cups grew
fast to the blades of grass and became lilies-of-the-valley? I knew all
this—although my dear aunt never approved of fairy tales and gave me
no fairy-tale books. Cousin Charles believed them; moreover, I had a
charming picture of a fairy, riding on a butterfly. Of course they were

But I always hurried along, with small delay, among the flower beds. I
knew where the passion-vine had dropped golden globes of fruit during
the night—and I knew well where the cool figs, rimy with the early
dew, were bursting with scarlet sweetness. Tell me not of your acrid
grape-fruit, or far-fetched orange, wherewithal to break the morning
fast! I know of something better. Alas! neither you nor I can ever
again—except in fancy—cool our lips with the dew-washed fruits of an
"old Virginia" garden.

It seems to me that the life we led at Cedar Grove and Shrubbery
Hill was busy beyond all parallel. Everything the family and the
plantation needed was manufactured at home, except the fine fabrics,
the perfumes, wines, etc., which were brought from Richmond, Baltimore,
or Philadelphia. Everything, from the goose-quill pen to carpets,
bedspreads, coarse cotton cloth, and linsey-woolsey for servants'
clothing, was made at home. Even corset-laces were braided of cotton
threads, the corset itself of home manufacture.

Miss Betsey, the housekeeper, was the busiest of women. Besides her
everlasting pickling, preserving, and cake-baking, she was engaged, with
my aunt, in mysterious incantations over cordials, tonics, camomile,
wild cherry, bitter bark, and "vinegar of the four thieves," to be used
in sickness.

The recipe for the latter—well known in Virginia households a century
ago—was probably brought by Thomas Jefferson from France in 1794.
He was a painstaking collector of everything of practical value. To
this day there exists in the French druggists' code a recipe known as
the "Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs"; and it is that given by condemned
malefactors who, according to official records still existing in France,
entered deserted houses in the city of Marseilles during a yellow fever
epidemic in the seventeenth century and carried off immense quantities
of plunder. They seemed to possess some method of preserving themselves
from the scourge. Being finally arrested and condemned to be burned
to death, an offer was made to change the method of inflicting their
punishment if they would reveal their secret. The condemned men then
confessed that they always wore over their faces handkerchiefs that
had been saturated in strong vinegar and impregnated with certain
ingredients, the principal one being bruised garlic.

The recipe, still preserved in the Randolph family of Virginia, is an
odd one—with a homely flavor—hardly to be expected of a French formula.
It requires simply "lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue and mint,
of each a large handful; put them in a pot of earthenware, cover the
pot closely, and put a board on the top; keep it in the hottest sun two
weeks, then strain and bottle it, putting in each a clove of garlic.
When it has settled in the bottle and becomes clear, pour it off gently;
do this until you get it all free from sediment. The proper time to make
it is when herbs are in full vigor, in June."

Only a housewife, who lived in an age of abundant leisure, could afford
to interest herself for two weeks in the preparation of a bottle of the
"Vinegar of the Four Thieves." The housekeeper of to-day can steep her
herbs, then strain them through one of the fine sieves in her pantry,
the whole operation costing little labor and time, with perhaps as good
results. If she is inclined to make the experiment, she will achieve
a decoction which has the merit at least of romance, the secret of
its combination having been purchased by sparing the lives of four
distinguished Frenchmen, with the present practical value of providing
a refreshing prophylactic for the sick room,—provided the lavender,
rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, and mint completely stifle the clove of

Pepper and spices were pounded in marble mortars. Sugar was purchased
in the bulk—in large cones wrapped in thick blue paper. This was broken
into great slices, and then subdivided into cubes by means of a knife
and hammer.

Sometimes a late winter storm would overtake the new-born lambs,
and they would be found forsaken by the flock. The little shivering
creatures would be brought to a shelter, and fed with warm milk from
the long bottles, in which even now we get Farina Cologne. Soft linen
was wrapped around the slender neck, and my dear aunt fed the nurslings
with her own white hands. How the lambkins could wag their tiny tails!
and how they grew and prospered!

All the fine muslins of the family, my aunt's great collars, and the
ruffles worn by my uncle, my Cousin Charles, and myself, were carefully
laundered under my aunt's supervision. Dipped in pearly starch, they
were "clapped dry" in our own hands, ironed with small irons, and
beautifully crimped on a board with a penknife. Fine linen was a kind
of hall-mark by which a gentleman was "known in the gates when he" sat
"among the elders of the land."

I was intensely interested in all this busy life—and always eager to be
a part of it.

There was nothing I had not attempted before I rounded my first
decade,—churning, printing the butter with wooden moulds, or shaping
it into a bristling pineapple; spinning on tiptoe at the great wheel—we
had no flax-wheels—and even once scrambling up to the high seat of the
weaver and sending the shuttle into hopeless tangles. "Ladies don't
nuvver do dem things" sternly rebuked Milly. "Lemme ketch you ergin
at dat business, an' 'twont be wuf while for Marse Chawles to baig for

The inconsistencies as to proprieties puzzled me then and have puzzled
me ever since.

"Why mustn't I spin and churn, Milly?" I insisted.

"Ain't I done tole you? Ladies don't nuvver do dem things."

"Then why can I help with the laces and muslins?"

"Cause—ladies _does_ do dem things."

And so I became an expert _blanchisseuse de fin_, as it was the one
household industry allowed my caste.

There was no railroad to bring us luxuries from the nearest
town—Richmond—twenty-five miles distant, and we depended upon the little
covered cart of Aunt Mary Miller. Aunt Mary and her husband, Uncle
Jacob, were old family servants who had been given their freedom. They
lived at the foot of a hill near our house, and down the path, slippery
with fallen pine needles, I was often sent with Milly to summon Uncle
Jacob, who was the coachman. He was very old, and gray, and always
unwilling to "hitch up de new kerridge in dis bad weather." He would
stand on the lawn and scan the horizon in every direction—and a dim,
distant haze was enough to daunt him. Aunt Mary was allowed to collect
eggs, poultry, and peacock's feathers from the neighbors, take them down
to Richmond to her waiting customers, and return with sundry delightful
things,—Peter Parley's books, a wax doll, oranges and candy for me, and
wonderful stories of the splendors she had seen. She had other stories
than these. One night "a hant" had walked around her cart and "skeered"
her old horse "pretty nigh outen his senses"; as to herself, "Humph,
I'se used to hants."

"_Where_, Aunt Mary, tell me," I begged. With a furtive glance lest my
elders would hear, she answered:—

"I ain't sayin' nothin'. Don't you go an' say _I_ tole you anythin'.
Jes you run down to the back of the gyardin as fur as the weepin' willer
an' you'll know."

Of course I knew already what I should find beneath the willow. I
had often stood at the foot of the two long white slabs and read:
"Sacred to the Memory of Charles Crenshaw" and "Sacred to the Memory of
Susannah Crenshaw." I knew their story. This had been their home. The
brother had died early, and for love of him the sister had broken her
heart. My sweet great-aunt Susannah! Had she not left a lovely Chinese
basket—which I was to inherit—full of curious and precious things; a
carved ivory fan, necklace, pearls, and amethysts, and a treasure of
musk-scented yellow lace? Aunt Mary shook her head when I announced
scornfully that I wasn't afraid of my Aunt Susannah.

"I ain't talkin'! Miss Susannah used to war blue satin high-heeled
slippers. You jes listen! Some o' dese dark nights you'll hear sump'n
goin' '_click, click_.'"

"I know, Aunt Mary. That's the death-head moth. Milly says it won't hurt
anybody, without you meddle with it."

"Humph! _Milly!_ I seed hants befo' her mammy was bawn! _I_ tells you
it's Miss Susannah comin' on her high heels to see if you meddlin' with
her things. I knowed Miss Susannah! she was monsous particlar. She ain't
nuvver goin' to let you war _her_ things."

I was a wretched child for a long time after this. Whenever I retired
into the inner chambers of my imagination—as was my wont when grown-up
people talked politics, or religion, or slavery—I found my pretty
fairies all fled, and in their places hollow-eyed goblins and ghosts.
If my gentle Aunt Susannah was permitted to come back to her home, how
about all the others who had lived there? My aunt coming for her final
good-night kiss would uncover a hot face, to be instantly recovered
upon her departure. _Par parenthèse_, I never did wear Aunt Susannah's
jewels. All disappeared mysteriously except the chain of lovely beads.
These I wore. One night I slept in them and the next morning they
were gone. Whither? Ah, you must call up some one of those long-time
sleepers. According to latter-day lights, they may "come when you do
call." They may know. I never did know.


No house in Virginia was more noted for hospitality than my uncle's.
I remember an ever coming and going procession of Taylors, Pendletons,
Flemings, Fontaines, Pleasants, etc. These made small impression upon
me. Men might come and men might go, but my lessons went on forever;
writing, geography, and much reading. I had Mrs. Sherwood's books. I
wonder if any present-day child reads "Little Henry and his Bearer,"
or Miss Edgeworth's "Rosamond," or "Peter Parley's Four Quarters of
the Globe"! Hannah More was the great influence with my aunt and her
friends. "Thee will be a second Hannah More" was the highest praise the
literary family at Shrubbery Hill could possibly give me. Mr. Augustine
Birrell could never have written his sarcastic review of her in my day.
It would not have been tolerated. From Miss Edgeworth, Cowper, Burns,
St. Pierre, my aunt read aloud to me. On every centre table, along with
the astral lamp, lay a sumptuous volume in cream and gold. This was
the elegant annual "Friendship's Offering," containing the much-admired
poems of one Alfred Tennyson, collaborating with his brother Charles.
Miss Martineau was much discussed and was distinctly unpopular. Stories
were told of her peculiarities, her ignorance of the etiquette of polite
society at the North. When she was in Washington in 1835, was invited
by Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith to an informal dinner at five o'clock.
Mrs. Smith had requested three friends to meet her, and had arranged
for "a small, genteel dinner." She had descended to the parlor at an
early hour to arrange some flowers, when her daughter informed her that
Miss Martineau and her companion, Miss Jeffrey, had arrived, and were
upstairs in her bedroom, having requested to be shown to a chamber. Mrs.
Smith wrote to Mrs. Kirkpatrick: "I hastened upstairs and found them
combing their hair! They had taken off their bonnets and large capes.
'You see,' said Miss Martineau, 'we have complied with your request
and come sociably to spend the day with you. We have been walking all
the morning; our lodgings were too distant to return, so we have done
as those who have no carriages do in England when they go to pass a
social day.' I offered her combs, brushes, etc., but showing me the
enormous pockets in her French dress she said that they were provided
with all that was necessary, and pulled out nice little silk shoes, silk
stockings, a scarf for her neck, little lace mits, a gold chain, and
some other jewellery, and soon, without changing her dress, was prettily
equipped for dinner or evening company. It was a rich treat to hear her
talk when the candles were lit and the curtains drawn. Her words flow
in a continuous stream, her voice is pleasing, her manners quiet and
ladylike." She was thought to be unfriendly to the South—which I have
the best of reasons for believing was true.

All this I heard with unheeding ears, but a delicious, memorable hour
awaited me. Some guest had brought her maid, and from her I heard a
wonderful fairy-godmother story,—of one Cinderella, whose light footstep
would not break a glass slipper.

Uncle Remus had not yet dawned upon a waiting world of children, but
Cowper had written charmingly about hares and how to domesticate them.
I had a flourishing colony of "Little Rabs." Some of my humble friends
were domiciled in the small playhouse built for me in the garden. Into
this sacred refuge, ascended by a flight of tiny steps, even Gabriella
was forbidden to enter. I could just manage to stand under the low
ceiling. There I entertained a strange company. I had no toys of any
description, and only one doll, which was much too fine for every day.
Flowers and forked sticks served for the _dramatist personæ_ of my

I had never heard of Æsop or of Aristophanes, but it was early given to
me to discern the excellent points of frogs. I caught a number of them
on the sandy margin of a little brook which ran at the bottom of the
garden, and Milly helped me to dress them in bits of muslin and lace.
Their ungraceful figures forbade their masquerading as ladies,—a frog
has "no more waist than the continent of Africa,"—but with caps and
long skirts they made admirable infants, creeping in the most orthodox
fashion. Of course their prominent eyes and wide mouths left something
to be desired; but these were very dear children, over whose mysterious
disappearance their adoptive mother grieved exceedingly. Could it be
that snakes—but no! The suggestion is too awful!

My aunt had a warm affection for a kinswoman who lived seven or eight
miles from us. This lady's gentleness and sweetness made her a welcome
visitor, and I never tired of hearing her talk, albeit her manner was
tinged with sadness. She grieved over the disappearance, years before,
of a dear young brother. He had simply dropped out of sight—her "poor
Brother Ben!" This was a great mystery which she often discussed with
my aunt, and which delightfully stirred my imagination.

One night late in summer a cold storm of rain and wind howled without
and beat against the window-panes. A fire was kindled on the hearth, and
around it the family gathered for a cosey evening. Suddenly some one
saw a face pressed against the window, and hastened to open the door
to the benighted visitor. There, dripping upon the threshold, stood a
wretched-looking man. It was Brother Ben!

He carried a bundle of blankets on his back which he proceeded to
unwind, revealing at last two tiny Indian girls! The frightened little
creatures clung to him closely, and only after being brought to the
fire and fed on warm milk were sufficiently reassured to permit him to
explain himself. With one on each knee, "Brother Ben" told his story. He
had run away to escape the restraints of home and had found his way to
the wild Western country beyond the Ohio. Friendly Indians had sheltered
and succored him, and he had finally married a young daughter of their
chief. When his children were born, he "came to himself." He could not
endure the prospect of rearing them among savages, and so had stolen
them from their mother's wigwam during her temporary absence, and was
well on his way before his theft was discovered. For days and nights
he was in the wilderness, fording rivers, climbing mountains, hiding
under the bushes at night. Finally he overtook a party of homeward-bound
huntsmen, and in their company succeeded in reaching his sister's door.

I never knew what became of him, but the children were adopted by their
aunt as her own. They were queer little round creatures, knowing no
word of English, but affectionate and docile. I was much with them,
delighting to teach them. I cared no more for Gabriella nor my rabbits
and frogs. I thought no more of fairies and midnight apparitions. Here
was food enough for imagination, different from anything I had ever
dreamed of,—romance brought to my very door.

Without doubt the Indian mother, far away towards the setting sun, wept
for her babes, but nobody, excepting myself, seemed to think of her.
Could I write to her? Could I, some day, find a huntsman going westward
and send her a message? She might even come to them! Some dark night I
might see her dusky face pressed against the window-pane, peering in!

As time wore on, the children grew to be great girls, and their Indian
peculiarities of feature and coloring became so pronounced that they
were constantly wounded by being mistaken for mulattoes. There was no
school in Virginia where they could be happy. No lady would willingly
allow her little girls to associate with them. Evidently there was no
future for them in Virginia. Finally their aunt found through our Quaker
friends an excellent school, I think in Ohio, and thither the little
wanderers were sent, were kindly treated, were educated, and grew up to
be good women who married well.

My aunt made many long journeys—across the state to the White Sulphur
Springs of which I remember nothing but crowds and discomfort—to
Amherst, where my father lived, to Charlotte to visit my grandfather,
and to Albemarle to visit friends among the mountains. She joined
house-parties for a few weeks every summer; and one of these I, then a
very little child, can perfectly recollect.

The country house, like all Virginia houses, was built of elastic
material capable of sheltering any number of guests, many of whom
remained all summer. Indeed, this was expected when a visit was
promised. "My dear sir," said the master of Westover to a departing
guest who had sought shelter from a rain-storm, "My dear sir, do stay
and pay us a visit."

The guest pleaded business that forbade his compliance. "Well, well,"
said Major Drewry, "if you can't pay us a visit, come for two or three
weeks at least."

"Week ends" were unknown in Virginia, and equally out of the question an
invitation limited by the host to prescribed days and hours. Sometimes
a happy guest would ignore time altogether and stay along from season
to season. I cannot remember a parallel case to that of Isaac Watts,
who, invited by Sir Thomas Abney to spend a night at Stoke Newington,
accepted with great cheerfulness and staid twenty years, but I do
remember that an invitation for one night brought to a member of our
family a pleasant couple who remained four years. Virginia was excelled,
it seems, by the mother country.

At this my first house-party there were many young people—among them
the famous beauty, Anne Carmichael, and the then famous poet and
novelist, Jane Lomax. These, with a number of bright young men, made a
gay party. Every moonlight night it was the custom to bring the horses
to the door-steps, and all would mount and go off for a visit to some
neighbor. I was told, however, that the object of these nocturnal rides
was to enable Miss Lomax to write poetry on the moon, and I was sorely
perplexed as to the possibility, without the longest kind of a pen, of
accomplishing such a feat. I spent hours reasoning out the problem,
and had finally almost brought myself to the point of consulting the
young lady herself,—although I distinctly thought there was something
mysterious and uncanny about her,—when something occurred which strained
relations between her and myself.

An uninteresting bachelor from town had appeared on the scene, to the
chagrin of the young people, whose circle was complete without him. He
belonged to the class representing in that day the present-day "little
brothers of the rich," often the most agreeable relations the rich can
boast, but in this case decidedly the reverse.

It was thought that the present intruder was "looking for a wife,"—he
had been known to descend upon other house-parties without an
invitation,—and it was deliberately determined to give him the most
frigid of cold shoulders. Our amiable hostess, however, emphatically
put a stop to this. I learned the state of things and resented it.
"Old True," as he was irreverently nicknamed, was a friend of mine. I
resolved to devote myself to him, and to espouse his cause against his

One day when the young ladies were together in my aunt's room there was
great merriment over the situation in regard to "old True," and many
jests to his disadvantage related and laughed over. To my great delight
Miss Lomax presently announced: "Now, girls, this is all nonsense! Mr.
Trueheart is a favorite of mine. I shall certainly accept him if he asks

I believed her literally. I saw daylight for my injured friend, and
immediately set forth to find him. He was sitting alone under the trees,
on the lawn, and welcomed the little girl tripping over the grass to
keep him company. On his knee I eagerly gave him my delightful news, and
saw his face illumined by it. I was perfectly happy—and so, he assured
me, was he!

That evening my aunt observed an unwonted excitement in my face and
manner—and after feeling my pulse and hot cheeks decided I was better
off in bed, and sent me to my room, which happened to be in a distant
part of the house. To reach it I had to go through a long, narrow,
dark hall. I always traversed this hall at night with bated breath.
Tiny doors were let into the wall near the floor, opening into small
apertures then known by the obsolescent name of "cuddies." I was
afraid to pass them. So far from the family, nobody would hear me if I
screamed. Suppose something were to jump out at me from those cuddies!

In the middle of this fearsome place I heard quick steps behind. Before
I could run or scream, strong fingers gripped my shoulders and shook
me, and a fierce whisper hissed in my ear—"_You little devil!_"

It was the poetess—the lady who wrote verses on the moon! "Old True"
had suffered no grass to grow under his feet!

He left early next morning and so did we—my aunt perceiving that the
excitement of the gay house-party was not good for me.

I learned there were other things besides hot roast apples to be
avoided. Fingers might be burned by meddling with people's love affairs.

We were not the only guests who left the hospitable, gay, noisy,
sleep-forbidding house. Our host had an eccentric sister whom we all
addressed as "Cousin Betsey Michie," and who had left her own home
expressly to spend a few weeks here with my aunt, to whom she was much
attached. When "Cousin Betsey" discovered our intended departure, she
ordered her maid "Liddy" to pack her trunk,—a little nail-studded box
covered with goatskin,—and insisted upon claiming us as her guests for
the rest of the season.

"Cousin Betsey" was to me a terrible old lady,—large, masculine,
"hard-favored," and with a wart on her chin. I wondered what I should
do, were she ever to kiss me,—which she never did,—and had made up my
mind to keep away from her as far as possible. I owed her nothing, I
reasoned, as she was not really my cousin. She used strong language,
and was intolerant of all the singing, dancing, and midnight rides of
the young people. Her room was immediately beneath mine. But the night
before, lying awake after my startling interview with the poetess, I
had heard the galloping horses of the party returning from a midnight
visit to "Edgeworth," and the harsh voice of Cousin Betsey calling to
her sister: "Maria, Maria! Don't you dare get out of bed to give those
scamps supper—a passel of ramfisticated villains, cavorting all over
the country like wild Indians."

A peal of musical laughter, and "Oh, Cousin Betsey!" was the answer of
a merry horsewoman below.

As we heard much about Johnsonian English from Cousin Betsey, it was
reasonable to suppose, my aunt thought, that the startling word was

One evening while we were her guests she suddenly asked if I could
write. I was about to give her an indignant affirmative, when my aunt
interrupted, "Not very well." She knew I should be pressed into service
as a secretary.

"She ought to learn," said Cousin Betsey. "My own writing is more like
Greek than English since my eyes fail me. Maria Gordon has been copying
for me, but such fantastic flourishes! It will be Greek copied into
Sanskrit if _she_ does it. Well, what can the child do? Come here, miss.
Are your hands clean? Ah! Wash them again, honey; you must help Liddy
make the Fuller's pies for my dinner-party to-morrow."

I was aghast! But I found the "Fuller's pies" were quite within my
powers. "Pie" was not the American institution, but the bird supposed to
hide itself in its nest. "_Je m'en vais chercher un grand peut-estre. Il
est au nid de la pie_," says Rabelais. As to my hands—I feel persuaded
that Cousin Betsey's guests would have been reassured could they have
known to a certainty the old lady had not prepared them with her own!
A glass bowl was placed before me forthwith,—a bowl of boiling water,
some almonds and raisins. "Liddy" blanched the almonds in the hot
water and instructed me to press each one neatly into a large raisin,
which, puffing out around the nut, made it resemble an acorn, or,
to the instructed, a nest. These were the "pies" (birds in a nest),
and very attractive they were, piled in the quaint old bowl with its
fine diamond cutting. As to the "Fuller" thus immortalized, I looked
him up, furtively, in the great Johnson's Dictionary which lay in
solitary grandeur upon a table in the old lady's bedroom. Finding him
unsatisfactory, I concluded Dr. Johnson was not, after all, the great
man Cousin Betsey would have me believe. She quoted him on all occasions
as authority upon all subjects. Boswell's Life of him, "Rasselas," "The
Journey to the Hebrides," and "The Rambler" held places of honor upon
the shelves of her small bookcase. "Read these, child," she reiterated,
"and you need read nothing else. They will teach you to speak and write
_English_,—you need no other language,—and everything else you need know
except sewing and cooking." I soon became interested in her own literary
work. She was, at the moment, engaged in writing a novel, "Some Fact and
Some Fiction," which was to appear serially in the _Southern Literary
Messenger_. I listened "with all my ears" to her talk concerning
it with my aunt. It was to be a satire upon the affectations of the
day—especially upon certain innovations in dress and custom brought
by her cousin "Judy," the accomplished wife of our late Minister to
France, Mr. Rives, and transplanted upon the soil of Albemarle County;
also the introduction of Italian words to music in place of good old
English. The heroine was exquisitely simple, her muslin gown clasped
with a modest pearl brooch and a rose-geranium leaf. Her language was
fine Johnsonian English—a sort of vitalized "Lucilla," like the heroine
in Miss Hannah More's "Cœlebs." As to the Italian words for music, I
blithely committed to memory this sarcastic travesty, sung for me in
Cousin Betsey's sonorous contralto:—

     The Frog he did a'courting ride,
       Rigdum bulamitty kimo—
     With sword and buckler by his side—
       Rigdum bulamitty kimo.


     Kimo naro, delta karo!
       Kimo naro, kimo!
     Strim stram promedidle larabob rig
       Rigdum bulamitty kimo!

This was deemed a clever satire on the unintelligible Italian words of
recent songs, and ran through several verses, describing the Frog's
courtship of Mistress Mouse, who seems to have been a fair lady with
domestic habits who lived in a mill and was occupied with her spinning.

I was full of anticipation on the great day of the dinner-party. Mrs.
Rives, Ella Page her niece, and little Amélie Rives—named for her
godmother the queen of France—were the only invited guests. The house
was spick and span. I filled a bowl with damask roses from the garden,
sparing the microphylla clusters that hung so prettily over the front
porch. The dinner was to be at two o'clock.

A few minutes before two a sable horseman galloped up to the door,
dismounted, and, scraping his foot backward as he bared a head covered
with gray wool, presented a note which my aunt read aloud:—

                                       "CASTLE HILL, Wednesday noon.

     "DEAR COUSIN BETSEY:—I know you will be amiable enough to
     pardon me when I tell you how _désolée_ I am to find the hours
     have flown unheeded by, and we are too late for your dinner!
     The young ladies and I were reading Byron together, and you
     know how

          "'Noiseless falls the foot of time
          That only treads on flowers.'

     I am sure you forgive us, and hope you will prove it by asking
     us again.

                            "Your affectionate cousin,
                                                     "JUDITH RIVES."

There was an ominous pause—and then the old dame said, in her sternest
magisterial manner:—

"Tell Judy Rives to read Byron less—and Lord Chesterfield more." Turning
to my aunt after the dignified old servitor had bowed himself out, she
said, with fine scorn: "There's no use in telling _her_ to read Dr.
Samuel Johnson! '_Désolée_,' forsooth!—and 'the foot of time'! That
sounds like that idiot, Tom Moore."

I had a very good time at Cousin Betsey's. I helped to pick the berries
and gather the eggs from the nests in the privet hedge. Also for several
days I had a steady diet of "Fuller's pies."

As to the novel, if it appeared at all it fell upon the public ear with
a dull thud. Still, Cousin Betsey must have been, in her way, a great
woman, for it was of her that Thomas Jefferson exclaimed, "God send she
were a man, that I might make her Professor in my University."


Something akin to the tulip mania of Holland possessed the Southern
country in the early thirties. The _Morus multicaulis_, upon the leaves
of which the silkworm feeds, can be propagated from slips or cuttings.
These cuttings commanded a fabulous price. To plant them was to lay a
sure foundation for a great fortune.

My uncle visited Richmond at a time when the mania had reached
fever-heat. Men hurried through the streets, with bundles of twigs under
their arms, as if they were flying from an enemy. All over the city
auction sales were held, and fortunes lost or gained—as they are to-day
in Wall Street—with the fluctuations of the market. "I saw old Jerry
White running with a bundle of sticks under his arm as if the devil
were after him," said my uncle,—lazy, rheumatic old Jerry, who had not
for years left his chimney corner in winter, or the bench upon which he
basked like a lizard in summer, except to eat and sleep!

Long galleries, roofed with glass, were hastily erected all over the
country, the last year's eggs of the _Bombyx mori_ obtained at great
price, and the freshly gathered leaves of the _Morus multicaulis_ laid
in readiness for their hatching.

My uncle ridiculed this madness, although as a physician it interested

"It does people good to stir them up," he declared. "It wakes up their
livers and keeps them out of mischief. It is a fine tonic. They will
need no bark and camomile while the fever lasts."

We made a pilgrimage to the distant farm of one of the maniacs. With
my narrow skirts drawn closely around me, I tiptoed gingerly along the
aisles dividing the long tables, and saw the hideous, grayish yellow,
three-inch worms—each one armed with a rhinoceros-like horn on his
head—devouring leaves for dear life. They had need for haste. Their time
was short. Think of the millions of brave men and fair ladies who were
waiting for the strong, shining threads it was their humble destiny
to spin! Meanwhile, the lazy moths, their _raison d'être_ having been
accomplished, enjoyed in elegant leisure the evening of their days
of beneficence. I saw the ease with which their spider-web thread was
caught in hot water, and wound in balls as easily as I wound the wools
for my aunt's knitting.

Nothing came of it all! In time all the _Morus multicaulis_ was dug up,
and good, sensible corn planted in its stead. Old Jerry found again his
warm seat by the ingleside, where doubtless he

     "backward mused on wasted time,"

and many a better man than poor Jerry was stricken with amazement at
his own folly. Does not _Morus_ come from the Greek word for "fool"?

Next to his Bible and the Westminster Catechism, my uncle pinned his
faith to the _Richmond Whig_. Henry Clay was his idol. To make Henry
Clay President of the United States was something to live for. When
the great man passed through Virginia, all Hanover went to Richmond to
do him honor, ourselves among the number. He was a son of Hanover, the
"Mill boy of the Slashes." The old Mother of Presidents could, never
fear, give yet another son to the country! No living man except Webster
equalled him in all that the world holds essential to greatness—none
was as dear to the mass of people. And yet neither could be elected to
the post of Chief Magistrate of those adoring people!

Clay, at the time he visited Richmond, was confident he would win this
honor. My uncle resolved I should see "the next President." A procession
of citizens was to conduct him to a hall where a banquet awaited him. My
uncle found a vacant doorstep on the line of march, and there we awaited
the great man's coming. "Ah, there he comes!" exclaimed my uncle. "Look
well, little girl! You may never again see the greatest man in the
world." But to look was impossible. The crowd thronged us, and my uncle
caught me to a vantage-ground on his shoulder. A tumbling sea of hats
was all I could see! Presently a space appeared in the procession, and a
tall man on the arm of another looked up with a rare smile to the small
maiden, lifted his hat, and bowed to her! My uncle never allowed me to
forget that one supreme moment in my child-life. To this day I cannot
look at the fine bronze statuette of Henry Clay in my husband's library
without a sensation born of the pride of that hour.

I am afraid the small maiden dearly loved glory! Nobody would ever
have guessed the ambitious little heart beating, the next winter,
under the cherry merino; nor the conscious lips deep in her poke-bonnet
that followed the prayers at church and implored mercy for a miserable
sinner! For she had, during that glorious summer, another shining hour
to remember. Those penitent lips had been kissed by a great man all the
way from England—a man who had kissed the hand of a queen! She had a dim
apprehension of virtue through the laying on of hands in church. What,
then, might not come in the way of royal attribute from the laying on
of lips!

Great thoughts like these so swelled my bosom that I was fain to reveal
them to my little Quaker cousin at Shrubbery Hill. She received them
gravely. "Oh, Sara Agnes," she ventured, "I am afraid thee is going
to be one of the world's people!" All the same she had just dressed
her doll Isabella in black silk, with a lace mantilla! The Princess
Isabella, born, like myself, in 1830, was even then known as the future
queen of Spain. It was an age of young queens.

Among the strangers from abroad who found their way to Virginia, none
was more honored in Hanover than the Quaker author and philanthropist,
Joseph John Gurney. He was the brother of Elizabeth Fry, who gave her
life to the amelioration of the prison horrors of England.

My uncle entertained Dr. Gurney. The house was filled with guests to its
utmost capacity. A picture of the long dining-tables rises before me—the
gold-and-white best service, the flowers—and the sweetest flower of all,
my young aunt. She was tall and graceful and very beautiful,—with large
gray eyes, dark curls framing her face, delicate features, a lovely
smile! She wore a narrow gown of pearl silk, the "surplice" waist belted
high, and sleeves distended at the top by means of feather cushions tied
in the armholes. I remember my uncle ordered the dinner to be served
quietly and in a leisurely manner. "These Englishmen eat deliberately,"
he said. "Only Americans bolt their food."

In the evening, after the dinner company had left, a small party
gathered around the astral lamp in the parlor, and Dr. Gurney drew forth
his scrap-book and pencils, and began, as he talked, to retouch sketches
he had made during his journey. The parlor was simply furnished. The
Virginian of that day seemed to attach small importance to the style
of his furniture. His chief pride was in his table, his fine wines, his
horses and equipage, and the perfect comfort he could give his guests.
There was no bric-a-brac, there were no pictures or brackets on the
wall. "I have now," said an artist to me, "seen everything hung on
American walls except buckwheat cakes! I have seen the plate in which
they were served."

This parlor at Cedar Grove admitted but one picture—a fine copy over
the mantel of the School of Athens, which my cousin Charles had brought
as a present for my aunt, when he last returned from abroad. She was
not responsible for the taste of this inherited home, which she had
not tenanted very long. The walls of the parlor were papered with a
wonderful representation of a Venetian scene—printed at intervals
of perhaps four or more feet. There was a castle with turrets and
battlements; and a marble stair, flanked with roses in pots, descending
into the water. Down this stair came the most adorable creature in
the world,—roses on her brocade gown, roses on her broad hat,—and at
the foot of the stair a cavalier, also adorable, extended his hand
to conduct her to the gondola in waiting. In the distance were more
castles, more sea, more gondolas.

In this room the distinguished stranger met the company convened in
his honor. If he gasped or shuddered at the ornate walls, he gave no
sign. The little girl on the ottoman in the chimney corner, permitted
to sit up late because of the rare occasion, listened with wide
eyes to conversation she could not understand. Weighty matters were
discussed,—for all the world was alive to the question which had to
be met later,—the possibility of freeing the slaves under the present
constitutional laws. This was a small gathering of the wise men of our
neighborhood—come to consult a wise man from the country that had met
and solved a similar problem. Perhaps all of these men had, like my
uncle, given freedom to inherited slaves.

Presently I found myself, as I half dreamed in the corner, caught up
by strong arms to the bosom of the great man himself. Bending over the
sleepy head, he whispered a strange story—how that, far away across the
seas, there was once a little girl "just like you" who loved her play,
and loved to sit up and hear grown people talk—how a lady came to her
one day and said, "My child, you must study and learn to deny yourself
much pleasure, for soon you will be the queen of England"—how the little
girl neither laughed nor cried, but said, "I will be good"—how time
had gone on, and she had kept her promise and was now grown up to be a
lovely lady; and sure enough, just a little while ago had been crowned
queen—and how everybody was glad, because they knew, as she had been a
good child, she would be a good queen.

That was a long time ago. Many things have happened and been forgotten
since then; the Venetian lady and her cavalier have sailed away in
unknown seas; the good Englishman has long since gone to his rest; the
queen has won, God grant, an immortal crown, having lived to be old,
never forgetting all along her life her promise; and the little girl
has lived to be old, too! She has dreamed many dreams, but none more
beautiful than the one she probably dreamed that night,—all roses and
castles and gondolas, and a gracious young queen lovelier than all the

Thus passed the first eight years of my life. Compared with those that
followed, they were years of absolute serenity and happiness. They were
not gay. This was the time when people who "feared God and desired to
save their souls" felt bound to forsake the Established Church, many of
whose clergy had become objects of disgust rather than of reverence.
Dissenters and Quakers lived all around us; my uncle and aunt were
Presbyterians, and I heard little but sober talk in my early years.
Sometimes we attended the silent meetings of the Quakers, and sometimes
old St. Martin's, to which many of our Episcopal friends belonged.
Extreme asceticism, however, was as far from the temper of my aunt
and uncle as was the extreme of dissipation. They were strict in the
observance of the Sabbath and of all religious duties. Temperance in
speech and living, moderation, serenity,—these ruled the life at Cedar

And so, although I cannot claim that

     "There was a star that danced,
     And under it I was born,"

I look back with gratitude unspeakable to a beautiful childhood, and
bless the memory of those who suffered no "shapes of ill to hover near
it," and mar its perfect innocence.


When it was found that a refined and intelligent society was inclined
to crystallize around the court green of Albemarle County, it became
imperative to choose a fitting name for a promising young village.

In 1761 there was a charming princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz;
intelligent, amiable, and only seventeen years of age. She had stepped
forth from the conventional ranks of the young noblewomen of her day,
and written a spirited letter to Frederick the Great, in which she
entreated him to stop the ravages of war then desolating the German
States. She had painted in vivid colors the miseries resulting from the
brutality of the Prussian soldiery.

It appears that this letter reached the eyes of the Prince of Wales.
He fell in love with the letter before he ever knew the writer. In the
same year that he, as George III, ascended the throne of England, the
lovely Charlotte, Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, became his wife.
Charlottesville, then, was a name of happy omen for the pretty little
town, and in three more years a county was created, it would seem,
expressly that it might be called "Mecklenburg," and yet again a slice
taken from another county to form the county of Charlotte.

The colony of Virginia was strewn thickly with the names of royal
England: King and Queen, Charles City,—Charlestown,—King George, King
William, William and Mary, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Caroline,
Prince George, Henrico, Prince William. No less than four rivers were
named in honor of the good Queen Anne: Rapidan, North Anna, South Anna,
Rivanna. We might almost call the roll of the House of Lords from a list
of Virginia counties.

Twenty-four years after the Princess Charlotte had become a queen, Mrs.
Abigail Adams, as our minister's wife, was presented at the Court of St.
James. Alas for time,—and perhaps for prejudice,—she found, in place
of the charming princess, an "embarrassed woman, not well-shaped nor
handsome, although bravely attired in purple and silver." The interview
was cold and stilted, but all the "embarrassment" was on the part of

There had been a recent unpleasantness between John Bull and Brother
Jonathan; King George, however, brave Briton as he was, broke the ice,
and startled Mrs. Adams by giving her a hearty kiss! She could not
venture, however, to remind the queen that we had named counties in
her honor. She might, in her present state of mind, have deemed it an
impertinence on our part.

  [Illustration: RESIDENCE OF DR. S. P. HARGRAVE.]

I am so impatient under descriptions of scenery, that I do not like
to inflict them upon others. But I wish I could stand with my reader
upon the elliptic plain formed by cutting down the apex of Monticello.
He would, I am sure, appreciate the fascination of mountain, valley,
and river which drew the first settlers, and later the Randolphs,
Gilmers, William Wirt, and Thomas Jefferson, to the region around
Charlottesville. On the east the almost level scene is bounded by the
horizon, and on the west the land seems to billow onward, wave after
wave, until it rises in the noble crests of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A mist of green at our feet is pierced here and there by the simple
belfries of the village churches, and a little farther on, glimpses
appear of the classic Pantheon and long colonnades of the University
of Virginia. Imagination may fill in this picture, but reality will far
exceed imagination, especially if the happy moment is caught at sunset
when the mountains change color, from rose through delicate shadings
to amethyst, and finally paint themselves deep blue against the evening
sky. Then, should that sky chance to be veiled with light, fleecy clouds
all flame and gold—but I forbear!

This was the spot chosen by my aunt as the very best for my education
and my social life. The town was small in the forties, indeed, is not
yet a city. It is described at that time as having four churches, two
book-stores, several dry-goods stores, and a female seminary. The family
of Governor Gilmer lived on one of the little hills, Mr. Valentine
Southall on another, and we were fortunate enough to secure a third,
with a glorious view of the mountains and with grounds terraced to
the foot of the hill. Large gardens, grounds, and ornamental trees
surrounded all the houses. The best of these were of plain brick of
uniform unpretentious architecture, comfortable, and ample. A small
brick building at the foot of our lawn was my uncle's office, and behind
it, on my tenth birthday, he made me plant a tree.

The "Female Seminary" had been really the magnet that drew my dear aunt.
It was a famous school, presided over by an excellent and much-loved
Presbyterian clergyman. There it was supposed I should learn everything
my aunt could not teach me.

Behold me, then, on a crisp October morning wending my way to the
great brick hive for girls. I was going with my aunt to be examined
for admission. Her thoughts were, doubtless, anxious enough about
the creditable showing I should make. Mine were anxious, too. I was
conscious of a linen bretelle apron under my pelisse, and my mind was
far from clear about the propriety of so juvenile a garment. Suppose no
other girl wore bretelle aprons!

However, when we marched up the broad brick-paved walk and ascended the
steps of the great building, whose many windows seemed to stare at us
like lidless eyes, bretelle aprons sank into insignificance.

The room into which we were ushered seemed to be filled with hundreds
of girls, and the Reverend Doctor's desk on a platform towered over
them. He was most affable and kind. The examination lasted only a few
minutes, a list of books was given me, and a desk immediately in front
of the principal assigned me. Books were borrowed from some other girl,
the lessons for the next day pointed out, and my school life began.

Remember, I had not yet planted my tenth birthday tree. These were
the books deemed suitable for my age,—Abercrombie's "Intellectual
Philosophy," Watts on the "Improvement of the Mind," Goldsmith's
"History of Greece," and somebody's Natural Philosophy.

I worked hard on these subjects with the result that, as I could
not understand them, I learned by rote a few words in answer to the
questions. A bright, amiable little scrap of a girl, who always knew
her lessons, volunteered to assist me. If any collector of old books
should happen to find a volume of Watts on the Mind, much thumbed,
and blotted here and there with tears, and should see within the early
pages pencilled brackets enclosing the briefest possible answer to the
questions, that book, those tears, were mine; and the brackets are the
loving marks made by Margaret Wolfe, whose memory I ever cherish.

"What is Logic?" questions the teacher's guide at the bottom of the

"Logic," answers Dr. Watts (in conspicuous pencilled brackets), "is the
art of investigating and communicating Truth."

I had been struggling with Dr. Watts, Abercrombie, _et al._, for several
months, when my aunt reluctantly realized that, however admirable the
school might be for others, I was not improving in mind or health. As
soon as she arrived at this conclusion, she decided to experiment with
no more large female seminaries, but to educate me, as best she could,
at home.

At the same time I know that my dear aunt suffered from the overthrow
of all her plans for my education. She had, for my sake, made great
sacrifices in leaving her inherited home. These sacrifices were all for
naught. She must have felt keen disappointment, and regret at the loss,
toil, expense,—and, above all, my worse than wasted time.

Yet, after all, my time at school may not have been utterly thrown
away! The experience may have borne fruit that I know not of.
Moreover, I _had_ learned something! I learned that Logic is the art of
investigating and communicating Truth!


Masters were found in a preparatory school for my home education. Happy
to escape from the schoolroom, I worked as never maiden worked before,
loving my summer desk in the apple tree in the garden, loving my winter
desk beside the blazing wood in my uncle's office, passionately loving
my music, and interested in the other studies assigned me. With no
competitive examinations to stimulate me, I yet made good progress.
Before I reached my thirteenth year, I had learned to read French
easily. I had wept over the tender story of Picciola and the sorrows
of Paul and Virginia. I had sailed with Ulysses and trod the flowery
fields with Calypso. My aunt had beguiled me into a course of history
by allowing me as reward those romances of Walter Scott which are
founded on historical events. My love of music and desire to excel in
it made me patient under the eccentric itinerant music teacher, the one
pioneer apostle of classic music in all Virginia, who was known, more
than once, to arrive at midnight and call me up for my lesson; and who,
while other maidens were playing the "Battle of Prague" and "Bonaparte
crossing the Rhine," or singing the campaign songs of the hero of the
log cabin, taught me to love Beethoven and Liszt, and to discern the
answering voices in that genius, then young, whose magic music fell
not then, nor ever after, upon unheeding ears. I had read with my aunt
selections all the way from "The Faerie Queene" through the times of
later queens,—Elizabeth and Anne,—and had made a beginning with the
queen for whom I had a sentiment, and who has given her name to so fair
an age of fancy and of elegant writing. Alas, for the mental training
I might have had through the study of mathematics! Were it not that
the lack of this training must be apparent to all who are kind enough
to listen to my story, I might quote Joseph Jefferson, as Mr. William
Winter reports him: "Why, look at me! I seem to have managed pretty
well, but I couldn't for the life of me add up a column of figures." The
only figures I know anything about are figures of speech. Fortunately, I
have had little use for addition. My knowledge has been quite sufficient
for my needs.

My French teacher, Mr. Mertons,—a square-shouldered, spectacled German,
with an upright shock of coarse black hair, literally pounded the
French language into me. With a grammar held aloft in his left hand, he
emphasized every rule with his right fist, coming down hard on my aunt's
mahogany. If success is to be measured by results, I can only say that,
although I perceived some charm in Mme. de Sévigné and in Dumas, I was
rather dense with Racine and Molière; and as to the spoken language!
I can usually manage to convey, by gesture and deliberate English,
a twilight glimmer of my meaning in talking to a polite Frenchman,
but blank darkness descends upon him when I speak to him in "a French
not spoken in France." The gift for "divers kinds of tongues" was not
bestowed upon me.

The music teacher deserves more than a passing notice. He was unique.
Mr. William C. Rives found him somewhere in France, and promised
him a large salary if he would come to America, live near or in
Charlottesville, and teach his daughter Amélie. He was the incarnation
of thriftlessness; with no polish of manner, no idea of business,
or order, or of the necessity of paying a debt, but he was also the
incarnation of music! My uncle again and again satisfied the sheriff
and released him from bonds. Finally, he could not appear in town at
all by daylight, and often arrived at midnight for my lesson. Gladly my
aunt would rise and dress to preside over it. My teacher would disappear
before the dawn. He owed money all over town which he had not the
faintest intention of ever paying. More than once his defenceless back
could have borne witness to a creditor's outraged feelings. But he was
resourceful. Thereafter he carried all his music, a thick package, in a
case sewed to the lining of his coat. His back, rather than his breast,
needed a shield. It was amusing to see him pack himself up, as it were,
before venturing into the open.

But with all this, we prized him above rubies. He was a brilliant
pianist, a great genius; had studied with Liszt, early appreciated
Chopin, adored Beethoven. One of his animated lessons would leave me in
a state "which fiddle-strings is weakness to express my nerves," and
yet no summons to duty ever thrilled me with pleasure like his "Koom
on ze biahno." Once there, absolute fidelity to the composer's writing
and the position of my hands exacted all my attention. The margins of
my music were liberally adorned with illustrations of my fist—a clumsy
bunch with an outsticking thumb.

I always felt keenly the charm of music, even when it was beyond my
comprehension. One day, happening to look up from his own playing,
he detected tears in my eyes. He was enraged in three languages.
"Himmel! Zis is not bathétique! Zis is _scherzo_! Eh, bien! I blay him
_adagio_." And under shut teeth a sibilant whisper sounded very much
like "_imbécile_," as he hung his head to one side, arched his brows,
and drawled out the theme in a ridiculous manner. Once I was so carried
away by a delicious passage I was playing that I diminished the _tempo_,
that the linked sweetness might be long drawn out. He literally danced!
He beat time furiously with both hands. "Ach! is it _you_ yourselluf,
know bedder zan ze great maestro," and sweeping me from the piano stool
he rendered the passage properly.

One summer my aunt, in order that I might have lessons, took board in
a country place where he lived. I was pleasing myself one day with a
little German song I had smuggled from town:—

     "The church bells are ringing, the village is gay,
     And Leila is dressed in her bridal array.
         She's wooed, and she's won
         By a proud Baron's son,
     And Leila, Leila, Leila's a Lady!"

Proceeding gayly with the chorus, and exulting in Leila's ladyship and
good fortune, I was startled by thunderous claps through the house. Mr.
Meerbach was fleeing to his own room, slamming the doors between himself
and my uneducated voice!

Of course he lost his scholars. At last only Amélie Rives, Jane Page,
Eliza Meriwether, and myself remained. We had to make up his salary
among us. "I hope you'll study, dear," said my kind uncle; "I am
now giving eight dollars apiece for your lessons." Jane Page played
magnificently. This rare young genius, a niece of Mrs. William C. Rives,
died young. The rest of us played well, too. My teacher wished to take
me to Richmond to play for Thalberg his own difficult, florid music,
and was terribly chagrined at my aunt's refusal to permit me to go.

The little Episcopal church and rectory were just across the street,
and the rector, Mr. Meade, allowed me free access to the gallery, where
I delighted to practise on the small pipe organ. I was just tall enough
to reach the foot notes. The church was peculiarly interesting from the
fact that Thomas Jefferson, who is supposed to have been a free thinker,
had insisted upon building it and had furnished the plans for it.
Before it was built, services were held in the Court House, which Mr.
Jefferson regularly attended, bringing his seat with him on horseback
from Monticello, "it being," says Bishop Meade, "of some light machinery
which, folded up, was carried under his arm and, unfolded, served for
a seat on the floor of the Court House."

I was thirteen years old when Mr. Meade sent for me one evening to come
to him in his vestry room. He told me that the Episcopal Convention was
to meet in his church in two days, and he had just discovered that Miss
Willy (the organist) had arranged an entire new service of chants and
hymns. He had requested her not to use it, urging that his father the
bishop, the clergy, and all his own people knew and loved the old tunes,
and could not join in the new. Miss Willy had indignantly resented his
interference and threatened to resign, with all her choir, unless he
yielded. "I shall certainly not yield," said the rector. "I have told
her that I know a little girl who will be glad to help me. Now I wish
you to play for the convention, beginning day after to-morrow (Sunday),
and every evening during its session. This will give you evening
services all the week, beginning with three on Sunday. I will see that
familiar hymns are selected, and you need chant none of the Psalms
except the Benedictus and Gloria in Excelsis."

I began, "Oh, I'm afraid—" "No," said Mr. Meade, "you're not afraid;
you are not going to be afraid. Just be in your place fifteen minutes
before the time, and draw the curtain between you and the audience. I
shall send you a good choir."

I practised with a will next day. On the great day, when I passed the
sable giant, Ossian, pulling away at the rope under the belfry, and
heard the solemn bell announcing that my hour had come, my heart sank
within me. But Ossian gave me a glittering smile which showed all his
magnificent ivories. He was grinning because he was going to pump the
organ for such a slip of a lass as I!

On arriving at the organ gallery, I found my choir,—several ladies whom
I knew, and a group of fine-looking students from the University. They
looked down kindly on the small organist, with her hair hanging in two
braids down her back. I resolutely kept that small back to the drawn
curtain! Only the tip of one of Miss Willy's nodding plumes, and I
should have been undone!

All went well. The singing was fine from half a dozen manly throats,
supplementing two or three female voices and my own little pipe. I was
soon lost to my surroundings in the enjoyment of my work. When, on the
last day, the good bishop asked for the grand old hymn, "How firm a
foundation, ye saints of the Lord," it thrilled my soul to hear the
church fill with the triumphant singing of the congregation, led by
little me and my improvised choir.


The society of Charlottesville in the forties was composed of a few
families of early residents and of the professors at the University.
Governor Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy in Tyler's time, Mr. Valentine
Southall of an old Virginia family, and himself eminent in his
profession of the law, Dr. Charles Carter, Professor Tucker, William B.
Rogers, Dr. McGuffey, Dr. Cabell, Professor Harrison,—all these names
are well known and esteemed to this day. There were young people in
these families, and all them were my friends. Along the road I have
travelled for so many years I have met none superior to them and very
few their equals.

My special coterie was a choice one. It included, among others, Lizzie
Gilmer (the lovely) and her sisters; beautiful Lucy Southall; Maria
Harrison and her sweet sister Mary, both accomplished in music and
literature; Eliza Rives and Mary McGuffey. James Southall, William C.
Rives, Jr., George Wythe Randolph, Jack Seddon, Kinsey Johns, Professor
Schéle de Vere, John Randolph Tucker, St. George Tucker—these were
habitués of my home, and all apparently interested in me and in my
music. To each name I might append a list of honors won, at the bar,
in literature, and in the army. I have survived them all—and I kept the
friendship of each one as long as he lived.

The customs in entertaining differed from those in vogue at the
present day. Afternoon teas, which had been fashionable during the
Revolution—tea then being a rare luxury—had not survived until the
forties. Choice Madeira in small glasses, and fruit-cake were offered
to afternoon callers. The cake must always be _au naturel_ if served
in the daytime. Cake iced—in evening dress—was only permissible at the
evening hour.

Dinner-parties demanded a large variety of dishes. They were not served
_à la Russe_. Two table-cloths were _de rigueur_ for a dinner company.
One was removed with the dishes of meat, vegetables, celery, and many
pickles, all of which had been placed at once upon the table. The
cut-glass and silver dessert dishes rested on the finest damask the
housewife could provide. This cloth removed, left the mahogany for the
final walnuts and wine.

Three o'clock was a late hour for a dinner-party—the ordinary family
dinner was at two. The large silver tureen, which is now enjoying a
dignified old age on our sideboards, had then place at the foot of the
table. After soup, boiled fish appeared at the head.

An interview has been preserved between a Washington hostess of the
time and Henry, an "experienced and fashionable" caterer. Upon being
required to furnish the smallest list of dishes possible for a "genteel"
dinner-party of twelve persons, he reluctantly reduced his menu to
soup, fish, eight dishes of meat, stewed celery, spinach, salsify,
and cauliflower. "Potatoes and beets would not be genteel." The meats
were turkey, ham, partridges, mutton chops, sweetbreads, oyster pie,
pheasants, and canvas-back ducks. "Plum-pudding," suggested the hostess.
"La, no, ma'am! All kinds of puddings and pies are out of fashion."
"What, then, can I have at the head and foot of the table?" asked the
hostess. "Forms of ice-cream at the head, and at the foot a handsome
pyramid of fruit. Side dishes, jellies, custards, blanc-mange, cakes,
sweetmeats, and sugar-plums." "No nuts, raisins, figs?" "Oh, _no, no_,
ma'am, they are _quite_ vulgar!"

For the informal supper-parties, to which my aunt was wont to invite
the governor and Mrs. Gilmer, Mr. and Mrs. Southall, Professor and Mrs.
Tucker, the table was amply furnished with cold tongue, ham, broiled
chickens or partridges, and pickled oysters, hot waffles, rolls and
muffins, very thin wheaten wafers, green sweetmeats, preserved peaches,
brandied peaches, cake, tea, and coffee; and in summer the fruits
of the season. These suppers made a brave showing with the Sheffield
candelabra and bowls of roses. Ten years later these "high teas" were
quite out of fashion, and would, by a modern "fashionable caterer," be
condemned as "vulgar." There was a crusade against all card-playing and
dancing. The pendulum was swinging far back from an earlier time when
the punchbowl and cards ruled the evening, and the dancing master held
long sessions, travelling from house to house. To have a regular dancing
party, with violins and cotillon, was like "driving a coach-and-six
straight through the Ten Commandments!" My aunt, however, had the
courage of her convictions, and allowed me small and early dances in
our parlor, with only piano music. Old Jesse Scott lived at the foot of
the hill—but to the length of introducing him and his violin we dared
not go. As it was, after our first offence, a sermon was preached in
the Presbyterian church against the vulgarity and sin of dancing. My
aunt listened respectfully but continued the dance she deemed good for
my health and spirits.

The noblest of men, and one of my uncle's dearest friends, was Thomas
Walker Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy during Tyler's administration.
He was killed on the Potomac by the bursting of a gun on trial for the
first time. My uncle and aunt went immediately to Washington to bring
him home. No man had ever been so loved and esteemed by all who knew
him. I have never seen such grief, as the sorrow of his wife. She had
been a brilliant member of the Washington society, noted for ready wit
and repartee. Never, as long as she lived, did she reënter social life.
With her orphaned children she lived on "The Hill" very near us. These
children were a part of our family always.

As time went on, and we grew tall,—Lizzie and I,—students from the
University found us out, and had permission to visit us. Lizzie,
three years my senior, became engaged to St. George Tucker, one of our
choice circle. When more visitors called on Lizzie than she could well
entertain in an evening, it was her custom to send Susan, a little
pet negress whom she had taught to read, running down the hill with,
"Please, Miss Hargrave, please, ma'am, Miss Lizzie say she certn'ly will
be glad if you let Miss Sara come up an' help 'er with her comp'ny." My
aunt could never deny her anything. I was too young, much too young,
but we took our lives very naturally and unconsciously, accepting a
guest and doing our best for him, whether he was old or young. We were
never announced as débutantes. No Rubicon flowed across our path,—on
one side pinafores and long braids, on the other purple-and-fine-linen
and elaborate coiffure,—the which if stepped across at an entertainment
ushered us into society.

Lizzie and I felt that we were young hostesses, and took pains to be,
according to our lights, ceremonious and conventional in our behavior.
Some one or two of our guests was sure to be George Gordon, or James
Southall, or "Jim" White, or "Sainty" Tucker, who were as brothers to
us; and very watchful and strict were these boy chaperons! The great
anxiety was lest our visitors should stay too late. So my aunt and Mrs.
Gilmer carefully timed the burning of a candle until ten o'clock, and
all candles thereafter were cut that length. When they began to flicker
in the sockets, good nights were expected.

Mrs. Gilmer's large house was divided in the middle by a hall extending
to a door in the rear. On one side were the bedrooms of the family,
on the other the parlors and dining-room. She spent her evenings in a
darkened room, just across the hall from the parlor, and although she
had not the heart to mingle with us, we knew she was near.

One night we had a number of guests, among them a stranger, Mr. Tebbs,
brought by one of our own band who had introduced him and then left, Mr.
Tebbs remarking that he too must soon leave, as a friend was down town
waiting for him. The candles burned low, and we allowed long pauses in
conversation, vainly hoping the stranger would depart. Presently the
knocker sounded an alarum, and little Susan hurried from her mistress's
room to answer it. We distinctly heard her announce, "Dish yer's a
letter, Miss Ann," and Mrs. Gilmer's languid reply, "Light a candle and
read it to me." We essayed to drown Susan's voice, for I was quite sure
it was a peremptory order for me to come home, but it rang out clearly
and deliberately, "Tebbs, you damn rascal! Are you going to stay at Mrs.
Gilmer's all night!" To make matters worse, Susan immediately appeared
with the note for the blushing Mr. Tebbs, who then and there bade us a
long farewell. We never saw him more! A delicious little story was told
with keen relish by Juliet, the fifteen-year-old daughter. She had, as
she thought, "grown up," while her mother lived in seclusion, and had
a boy-lover of her own. Sitting, after hours, one moonlight night on
the veranda under her mother's window, the anxious youth was moved to
seize the propitious moment and declare himself. Juliet wished to answer
correctly, and dismiss him without wounding him. She assured him "Mamma
would never consent." A voice from within decided the matter: "Accept
the young man, Juliet, if you want to—I've not the least objection—and
let him run along home now. Be sure to bolt the door when you come in!"
Evidently Mrs. Gilmer had small respect for boy-lovers; and wished to
go to sleep.

The Gilmer home was full of treasures of books and pictures. We turned
over the great pages of Hogarth and the illustrations of Shakespeare,
very much to the damage of these valuable books. Choice old Madeira
was kept in the cellar, to which we had free access, mixing it with
whipped cream or mingling it with ice, sugar and nutmeg whenever we so
listed. A great gilded frame rested against the wall, from which some
large painting had been removed. Over this we stretched a netting and
inaugurated _tableaux vivantes_, of which we never wearied. I was always
Rowena, to whom Lizzie, as Rebecca the Jewess, gave her jewels. One of
the Gilmer boys made an admirable Dr. Primrose, another Moses, whom we
dressed for the fair, and the other children were flower girls, nuns,
or pilgrims with staff and shell.

When one questions the possibility of this large family living
for several years without a head and moving about decorously and
systematically, we must not forget the family butler, Mandelbert, and
his wife, Mammy Grace. Both were long past middle age. They simply
assumed the care of their broken-hearted mistress and her children,
ruling the house with patient wisdom and kindness. Mammy Grace, so well
known fifty years ago in Virginia, was peculiar in her speech, retaining
the imagery of her race and nothing of its dialect. She was straight
and tall and always carefully dressed. She wore a dark, close-fitting
gown, which she called a "habit," a handkerchief of plaid madras
crossed upon her bosom, an ample checked apron, and a cap with a full
mob crown like Martha Washington's. When she dropped her respectful
"curtsey," her salutation, "Your servant, master," was less suggestive
of deference than of dignified self-respect. Her one fault was that,
like her mistress, she never knew when the children were grown. This
was sometimes embarrassing. As surely as 8 o'clock Saturday night came,
one after the other would be called from the parlor, and would obey
instantly, for fear she would add more than a hint of the thorough,
personally superintended bath which awaited each one.

Mandelbert was superb, tall, gray, and very stately. He had been born
and trained in the family, a model, _distingué_-looking servant. Mammy
Grace lived to an honored old age, but a liberal use of fine old Madeira
proved the reverse of the modern lacteal remedy for old age. In a few
years there was no more wine in the cellar—and no more Mandelbert.

The grandmother of the Gilmer children was Mrs. Ann Baker, a lovely
old lady who wore a Letitia Ramolino turban, with little curls sewn
within its brim. She had been a passenger on James Rumsey's boat in
1786 at Shepherdstown, when he was the first to succeed by steam alone
in propelling a vessel against the current of the Potomac, and "at the
rate of four or five miles an hour!" She was a lovely, cultivated old
lady, the widow of a distinguished man. I cannot be quite sure,—all
witnesses are gone,—but I have a distinct impression I was told that
General Washington was a passenger with Mrs. Baker on James Rumsey's


The year after my fifteenth birthday was destined to be an eventful
one to me. In May of that year I wrote a letter to my aunt, Mrs.
Izard Bacon Rice, who lived at "The Oaks" in Charlotte County. This
letter, the earliest extant of my girlhood, has recently been placed
in my hands, and I venture to hope I may be pardoned for inserting
the naïve production here; not for any intrinsic merit, but because
of the light it reflects upon my development and associations at the
age of fifteen,—a light not to be acquired by mere recollection, as
a photograph of the person must be more lifelike than a sketch from

                                     "CHARLOTTESVILLE, May 25, 1845.

     "MY DEAR AUNT: I think that I have fully tested the truth of
     the old saying, viz. 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,'
     for I have hoped and hoped in vain for an answer to my last
     letter, and since it does not make its appearance, I write to
     request an explanation.

     "I received a letter from Willie (Carrington) this morning,
     and was rejoiced to hear that you still intend coming to
     Charlottesville 'some of these times,' and that she thinks of
     coming also. I am overjoyed at the idea of seeing my _dear_
     little Henry, and Tom in a few weeks. Willie says that Henry
     is _beautiful_, and that Tom has become quite a famous beau,
     improved wonderfully in gallantry, etc. I anticipate a great
     many long, pleasant walks with him, though I am afraid he will
     not like Charlottesville, as he will find no rabbits' tracks
     or partridges here. I hope you will come the first of June
     and stay a long while with us.

     "Aunt Mary has been very unwell for a long time, but I am in
     hopes that she is getting a little better. I think your visit
     will improve her wonderfully. We are all as busy as we can
     be: aunt and uncle in the garden and yard, and I studying
     my French lessons, sewing, reading, and housekeeping for
     Aunt Mary when she is sick. I am very disconsolate at the
     thought of losing my most intimate friend (Lizzie Gilmer)
     for a few months. She is going to Staunton, and I expect to
     miss her very much. We have a very quiet time now—as most of
     my acquaintances were _sent off_ at the late disturbances at
     the University, and I can study, undisturbed by company. I
     scarcely visit any one except Lizzy, and receive more visits
     from her than any one else, as she comes _every_ day, and
     frequently two or three times a day. I am going to spend my
     last evening with her this evening, as she leaves to-morrow.
     I am very sorry that Willie will not see her, as I know they
     would like each other.

     "Who do you think I have had a visit from? No less a personage
     than Dr. Schéle de Vere, professor of modern languages at the
     University. He has called on me _twice_, but I, unfortunately,
     was not at home once when he called. He is a German (one of
     the nobility), and speaks our language shockingly, and is such
     an incessant _chatterer_ that he gives _me_ no possible chance
     of wedging in a syllable. He walked with me from church last
     Sunday, and jabbered incessantly, much to the amusement of
     the congregation in general, but particularly of two little
     boys who walked behind us. When he parted with us, he asked
     uncle's permission to visit us, which was granted; and he
     seemed _very_ grateful, and said he 'would have de pleasure
     den of sharing de doctor's hospitality and hearing some of
     Miss Rice's fine music.' But what mortifies me beyond measure
     is that he treats me as a _little child_, and inquires _most
     affectionately_ about my progress in music, etc. He is not
     so much older than I am, either, as he is only twenty-one, so
     _I_ think he might be more respectful in his demeanor. What do
     you think of it all? He plays very well on the piano, and has
     heard the best performers in Europe, so I feel very reluctant
     to play for him. The first time he heard me play, he wanted to
     applaud me as they do at concerts, but he was checked by one
     of the company, who intimated to him that it was not customary
     in this country, so he contented himself with clapping his
     hands several times.

     "I have neither time nor paper for much more, so good-by.
     Aunt Mary joins me in love and a kiss to all grandfather's
     household and to Tom, Henry, and Uncle Izard.

                                          "Yours affectionately,
                                                      "SARA A. RICE.

     "P.S. I send my best respects to Lethe, Viny, and Aunt Chany,
     and my love to all the ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, and
     Tom's dogs.

                                          "Yours affectionately,
                                                     "SARA A. RICE."

This sixty-four-year-old letter was beautifully written with a quill
pen, clear and distinct without an erasure, blotted with sand from
a perforated box, without envelope, and sealed with wax. Written in
figures upon the envelope was "Uncle Sam's" receipt for prepaid postage,
12½ cents, no stamps having then been issued by him.

Fanciful seals and motto wafers were in high favor among romantic young
people. "L'amitié c'est l'amour sans ailes" was a prime favorite; also a
maiden in a shallop looking upward to a star, the legend "Si je te perds
je suis perdu." The most delicate refusal to a lover on record was the
lady's card, "With thanks," sealed with a bird in flight and "Liberty
is sweet!"

The "disturbances of late," for which my friends were "suspended for
a month," were not of a serious nature. They were only the midnight
pranks of mischievous boys, such as hyphenating the livery-stable's name
"Le Tellier" to read "Letel-Liar," drawing his "hacks" to the doors
of the citizens, placing the undertaker's sign over the physician's
office, driving Mr. Schéle's ponies, and leaving on their flanks the
painted words "So far for to-day," the phrase with which he invariably
ended his lectures. It remained later for the student in whom I was
most interested to excel them all. He drove a flock of sheep one dark
night up the rotunda stairs to the platform on the roof, and then shut
down the trap-door. A plaintive good-morning-bleating welcomed faculty
and students next day. Needless to say, the valiant shepherd was

Late in the summer of this year another large convention of clergymen,
Presbyterian this time, was held at Charlottesville. No good hotel
could be found anywhere in Virginia. The landlord was ruined by the
hospitality of the citizens. As soon as a pleasant stranger "put up"
at a public house, he was claimed as a guest by the first man who could
reach him.

When large religious or political or literary meetings convened in
our town, my uncle would send to the chairman asking for the number of
guests we could entertain. Until they arrived, we were as much on the
_qui vive_ as if we had bought numbers in a lottery.

On this occasion, Lizzie and I were in great grief. She had been away
from town for two months, and was now to make me a long visit. We
had made plans for a lovely week. Now the house would be filled with
clergymen,—no music, no visitors (and Lizzie was engaged), no "fun"! My
aunt sympathized with us, and fitted up a small room at the far end of
the hall, moved in the piano and guitar, and bade us make ourselves at

We were seated at church behind a row of the grave and reverend seniors,
when Dr. White leaned over our pew and said to one of them, "I'm glad
to tell you I can send you to Dr. Hargrave's. He will take fine care of

"But," demurred the reverend gentleman, "I have my son with me."

"Take him along! There's plenty of room," replied the doctor.

Lizzie gave me a despairing glance. Now we _are_ ruined, we thought. A
dreadful small boy to be amused and kept out of mischief.

That afternoon we were condoling with each other in our little city of
refuge, when the opening front door revealed among our guests a slender
youth, who, upon being directed to his room, sprang up the stairs two
or three steps at a time.

"Mercy!" said I. "Worse and worse! There's no hope for us! A strange
young man to be entertained in our little parlor!"

My aunt entering just then, we confided our miseries to her. "Never
mind, Lizzie," she said, "Sara shall keep him in the large room. She
must bring down all her prettiest books and pictures and arrange a table
in a corner for his amusement. He will not be here much of the time. He
has to go to church with his father, you know."

The name of this unwelcome intruder was Roger A. Pryor. He made
himself charming. I had not yet tucked up my long braids, but he
treated me beautifully. He was so alert, so witty, so amiable, that
he was unanimously voted the freedom of our sanctum. He entered with
glee into our schemes for self-defence. Running out to a shrub on the
lawn, he returned with a handful of "wax berries," gravely explained,
"ammunition," and proceeded to test the range of the missile. Just then
one of the enemy, the great Dr. Plumer, entered the hall, and the soft
berry neatly reached his dignified nose. His Reverence gave no sign of
intelligence. He had been a boy himself!

St. George Tucker took an immense fancy to our new ally. He found a
great deal to say to me. How glad was I that my aunt had given me a new
rose-colored silk bonnet from Mme. Viglini's.

The week passed like a dream. When the stage drew up at midnight to
take our guest to the railroad, seven miles distant, we were both very
_triste_ at parting.

He was sixteen years old, was to graduate next summer at Hampden Sidney
College, and come the session afterward to our University. I hoped all
would go well with him; and after the winding horn of the stage was
quite out of hearing, I,—well, I had been taught early to entreat the
Father of all to take care of my friends. There could be no great harm
in including him by name, nor yet in adding to my petition the words
"_for me!_"

I suppose I may have seemed a bit _distrait_ after this incident, for
my uncle, who was always devising occupation for me, insisted upon my
writing a story. I liked to please him, and I surprised him by producing
a love story. I think I called it "The Birthnight Ball." I remember this
quotation, which I considered quite delicate and suggestive:—

"The stars, with vain ambition, emulate her eyes." That is all I
remember of my story. My uncle sent it to the _Saturday Evening Post_
in Philadelphia and it was accepted, the editor proposing, as I was a
young writer, to waive the _honorarium_! I was only too glad to accept
the honor.

In the autumn my uncle took us on a long journey to Niagara Falls
and the Northern Lakes. In New York we stopped at the Astor House on
Broadway, and my room looked into the park then opposite, where scarlet
flamingoes gathered around a fountain. We walked in the beautiful
Bowling Green Park, then the fashionable promenade, took tea with
the Miss Bleeckers on Bleecker Street, and bought a lovely set of
turquoises, a jewelled comb, and a white topaz brooch from Tiffany's.
Moreover, my seat at table was near that of John Quincy Adams, now an
aged man, paralytic, and almost incapable of conveying his food to his
lips. He was charmingly cheerful, and courteous to a sweet-faced lady
who attended him.

I think we took the canal-boat in Schenectady which was to convey us
across the state of New York.

My uncle had been beguiled in New York by a flaming pictorial
advertisement of palatial packet-boats, drawn by spirited horses
galloping at full speed. When we entered our little craft, we found
it so crowded that we were wretchedly uncomfortable. Possibly, in our
ignorance, we had not taken the fine packet of the advertisement. Our
own boat crawled along at a snail's pace, making three or four miles
an hour. Many of the passengers left it every morning, preferring to
walk ahead and wait for us until night. We made the journey in five or
six days. The heat, the discomfort, the mosquitoes! Who can imagine the
misery of that journey? Fresh from the mountains and gorgeous sunsets
of Albemarle, we found little to admire in the scenery.

As to the Falls, which we had come so far to see—they and their
_entourage_ made me ill. It was all so weird and strange; the dark
forests of evergreen, pine, and spruce; the sullen Indians, squatted
around blankets, embroidering with beads and porcupine quills; the
hapless little Indian babies strapped to boards and swinging in the
trees, and over all, the heavy roar of the waters. The immensity of
their power filled me with terror. I longed to get away from the awful

The best part of a journey is the home-coming. The dear familiar
house,—we never knew how good it was,—the welcome of affectionate,
cheerful servants; the dogs beside themselves with joy, the perfect
peace, leisure, relaxation! Flowers, fruit, and much accumulated
mail awaited us. My keen eye detected a large-enveloped paper from
Philadelphia, and my nimble fingers quickly abstracted it, unperceived,
from the miscellaneous heap, and consigned it to a bureau drawer in my
room, the key of which went into my pocket.

In the privacy of my bedtime hour—having bolted the door—I drew it
forth. Oh, what inane foolishness! What sad trash! Tearing it into
strips, I lighted each one at my candle and saw the whole burned—burned
to impalpable smoke and degraded dust and ashes; consigned then and
there to utter oblivion!

My uncle often wondered why the story had not appeared. There was a
perilous moment when he threatened to write to the publishers, but I
persuaded him to be patient and dignified about it, and the matter,
after a while, was forgotten. Never was an uncle so managed by a young

I think my great card with him was my interest in his office work.
Physicians compounded and prepared their own prescriptions sixty-five
years ago. He delighted in me when I donned my ample apron and, armed
with scales and spatula, gravely assumed the airs of a physician's
assistant. I knew all his professional manœuvres to satisfy
hypochondriac old gentlemen and nervous old ladies. I learned to make
the innocuous pills which "helped" them "so much," and the carminative
for the aching little stomachs of the babies. Great have been the
strides since then in the noblest of all professions!

  [Illustration: MRS. FANNY BLAND RANDOLPH.]

Just here I venture to illustrate some of the radical changes in the
practice of medicine by extracts from a letter written by Dr. Theodorick
Bland to his sister, Fanny Bland Randolph. The letter is copied from
the original in the possession of the late Joseph Bryan of Richmond,

The treatment in 1840 differed in no material particular from that of
1771, when Dr. Bland prescribed—regretting the necessity of "absent
treatment"—to his sister's husband, John Randolph, as follows:—

     "I take Mr. Randolph's case to be a bilious intermittent,
     something of the inflammatory kind, which, had he been bled
     pretty plentifully in the beginning, would have intermitted
     perfectly; but unless his pulse is hard and, as it were,
     laboring and strong, I would not advise that he should now be
     bled; but if they are strong and his head-ache violent, and
     the weight of the stomach great, let him lose about six ounces
     of blood from the arm, and if he is much relieved from that,
     and his pulse rises and is full and strong after it, a little
     more may be taken. Let his body be kept open by Glysters, made
     with chicken water, molasses, decoction of marsh-mallows and
     manna, given once, twice or three times,—nay, even four times
     a day if occasion requires, and let him have manna and cream
     of tartar dissolved in Barley Water,—one ounce of manna and a
     half ounce of Cream of Tartar to every pint. Of this let him
     drink plentifully, but prior to this, after bleeding (should
     bleeding be necessary) let him take a vomit of Ipecac, four
     grains every half hour until he has four or five plentiful
     vomits, drinking plentifully of Camomile Tea (to three or four
     pints at intervals) to work it off. Should the pain in the
     head be violent and the eyes red and heavy, let his temples
     be cupped or leeches applied to his temples, which operation
     may be repeated every day, if he find relief from it, for
     two or three days. If the manna, Cream of Tartar and Glysters
     be not effectual, let him take fifteen grains of rhubarb and
     as many of Vitriolated Tartar, repeating the dose, twice or
     three times at six or eight hours intervals. Should he have
     any catching of the nerves, let one of the powders be given
     every four hours in a spoonful of jalop or pennyroyal water.
     Should he be delirious, sleepy, or dozing in a half kind of
     a sleep, his pulse small and quick, put blisters to his back,
     arms and legs, and leeches and cupping to his temples. If his
     skin should be hot, dry and parched after he has taken his
     vomit or before, let him be put in a tub of warm water with
     vinegar in it, up to his arm-pits and continue in it as long
     as he can bear it, first wetting his head therein. He may,
     now and then, drink a little claret-whey and have his tongue
     sponged with sage-tea, honey and vinegar. Dear Fanny, with
     sincere wishes for his safe and speedy recovery, and love to
     him and your dear little ones,

                                     "Your affectionate brother,
                                                         "T. BLAND."

It is difficult to imagine that one of the "dear little ones" was John
Randolph of Roanoke—that incarnation of genius and outrageous temper.
His father survived Dr. Bland's treatment only a few years. Still,
fidelity to historic truth impels me to state that we have no evidence
that the doctor was in league with Henry St. George Tucker, who almost
immediately married the widow!


Many of the best types of purely American society could have been found
in the forties in the towns of the country. Now everybody, high and low,
rich and poor, seeks a home in the cities. It is not without reason that
all classes should flock to the metropolis. There wealth can be enjoyed,
poverty aided, talent appreciated; but there individual influence is
almost lost. The temptation to self-assertion, repugnant as it is to
refined feeling, is almost irresistible. Men and women must assert
themselves or sink into oblivion. Nobody has time to climb the rickety
stairs to find the genius in the attic. Nobody looks for the statesman
among the serene adherents to the "Simple Life." Had Cincinnatus lived
at this day, he would have ploughed to the end of his furrow. Nobody
would have interrupted him.

The absence of all the hurry and fever of life made the little town
of Charlottesville an ideal home before the cataclysm of 1861. The
professors at the University could live, in the moderate age, upon
their modest salaries, and have something to spare for entertaining.
The village contingent was refined, amiable, and intelligent. Staunton
sent us, every winter, her young ladies, the daughters of Judge Lucas
Thompson, all of whom were finally absorbed by the descendants of
Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, Maryland. From the neighborhood on the
Buck-mountain Road came the family of William C. Rives, twice our envoy
to the Court of Versailles, and many times sent to the Senate of the
United States. The "gallant Gordons, many a one," the Randolphs and
Pages, and Mr. Stevenson, late Minister to England,—all these lived
near enough to be neighbors and visitors. Across Moore's Creek, at the
foot of Monticello, was the house of Mr. Alexander Rives. There lived
my sweet friend and bridesmaid, Eliza Rives, and there I could call for
a glass of lemonade when on my way to Monticello, guiding, as I often
did, some stranger-guest to visit the home of Thomas Jefferson. We would
pass through the straggling bushes of Scottish broom which bordered the
road—planted originally by Mr. Jefferson himself—pause at the modest
monument over his ashes, and reverently ponder the inscription thereon.
In his own handwriting, among his papers, had been found the record he
desired—not that he had been Minister to France and Secretary of State,
not that he had been twice President of the United States, but simply,—

     "Here lies buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration
     of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for
     Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia."

A few steps through the woods would bring us to the plateau commanding
the noble view I have tried to describe. I loved the spot, the glorious
mountains, the glimpse at our feet of the Greek temple in its sacred
grove, the atmosphere of mystery and romance. Once I saw a solitary
_fleur-de-lis_ unfurling its imperial banner on the site of the
abandoned garden. Once I was permitted, in the absence of the owner,
to explore an upper floor in the villa, and was startled by a white,
strained face gleaming out from a dim alcove. This was the bust of
Voltaire. A happy, happy young girl was I on these rides, mounted on my
own horse, Phil Duval, and not unconscious of my becoming green cloth
habit, green velvet turban, and long green feather, fastened with a
diamond buckle—as I believed it to be!


Young girls reared in a university town and admitted to the friendship
of the professors' families must be dull indeed if they absorb nothing
from the literary atmosphere. My dear aunt was an accomplished English
scholar. Her father had been the friend and neighbor of Patrick
Henry, her husband had been one of John Randolph's physicians. My
close friends, the Gilmers, Southalls, and the daughters of Professor
Harrison, all had brothers who were students, and we strove to keep pace
with these fine young fellows and meet them on English ground at least.

We had no circulating library in Charlottesville, and depended upon
the mails for our current literature. We saw _Graham's Magazine_ from
Philadelphia, the _Home Journal_ from New York, the _Southern Literary
Messenger_ from Richmond. Dickens's novels reached us from London,
issued then in monthly sections, and we impatiently awaited them. "Oh,
Sara, have you been introduced to Mr. Toots?" wrote Maria Gordon; "he
is so much in love with Florence Dombey, he 'feels as if somebody was
a-settin' on him!'"

We liked Dickens better than Walter Scott. We found the remarks of
Captain Clutterbuck and the Rev. Dryasdust hard to bear, barring the
door to the enchanted palace until they had their say. To be sure,
Dickens could be tiresome too, pausing in the middle of an exciting
story while somebody—the "stroller" or the "bagman"—related something
wholly irrelevant. To my mind, a story within a story was a nuisance.
It was like a patch on a garment. The garment might be homespun and the
patch satin, but it was a blemish, nevertheless, something put on to
help a weak place. I skipped these stories then and skip them now!

As to Thackeray, I blush to say we did not appreciate him when he
appeared as "Michael Angelo Titmarsh." But we all knew Becky! She was
only a sublimated little Miss Betsy Stevens, a ragged mountain woman
who sold peaches on a small commission, and who, like Becky, having "no
mamma" or other asset, lived by her wits.

Perhaps in our estimation of Thackeray we were guided somewhat by his
own countrymen. An English paper fell in our hands which was not at all
respectful to "Chawls-Yellowplush-Angelo-Titmarsh-Jeames-William-
Makepeace-Thackeray, Esquire of London Town in old England." Such
ridicule would soon settle him! No man could survive it.

None of the visiting authors deigned to call on us,—Thackeray, Dickens,
Miss Martineau,—all passed us by. True, Frederika Bremer condescended
to spend a night with her compatriot, Mr. Schéle de Vere, _en route_ to
the South, where she was to find little to admire except bananas. Mr.
Schéle invited a choice company to spend the one evening Miss Bremer
granted him. Her novels were extremely popular with us. Every one was
on tiptoe of pleased anticipation. While the waiting company eagerly
expected her, the door opened—not for Miss Bremer, but her companion,
who announced:—

"Miss Bremer, she beg excuse. She _ver_ tired and must sleep! If she
come, she gape in your noses!"

Alas for tourist's help in the translating books! "Face" and "nose,"
"gape" and "yawn," although not synonymic, bear at least a cousinly
relation to each other.

The beautiful Christian custom of lighting a Christmas tree—bringing
"the glory of Lebanon, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box," to
hallow our festival—had not yet obtained in Virginia. We had heard much
of the German Christmas tree, but had never seen one. Lizzie Gilmer, who
was to marry a younger son of the house, was intimate with the Tuckers,
and brought great reports of the preparation of the first Christmas tree
ever seen in Virginia.

I had not yet been allowed to attend the parties of "grown-up" people,
but our young friend John Randolph Tucker was coming of age on Christmas
Eve, and great pressure was brought to bear upon my aunt to permit
me to attend the birthday celebration. This was a memorable occasion.
"Rare Ran Tucker" was a prime favorite with the older set, handsome,
distingué, and already marked for the high place he attained later on
the honor roll of his country.

My aunt could not persist in her rules for me, and I was permitted,
provided I went as "a little girl in a high-necked dress," to accompany
Lizzie. My much-discussed gown was of blue silk, opening over white, and
laced from throat to hem with narrow black velvet! Never, never was girl
as happy! The tree loaded with tiny baskets of bonbons, each enriched
with an original rhyming jest or sentiment, was magnificent, the supper
delicious, the speeches and poems from the two old judges (Tucker) were
apt and witty. I went as a little girl—a close bud—but no "high-necked"
gown ever prisoned a happier heart.

It seems to me, as I look back, that my University friends, Mr. Schéle
de Vere, James Southall, William C. Rives, Jr., George Wythe Randolph,
Roger Pryor, _et al._, felt all at once a very kind interest in my
education. They sent me no end of books. The last presented me with
a gorgeous Shakespeare, also Macaulay's "Essays," Hazlitt's "Age of
Elizabeth" and Leigh Hunt's "Fancy and Imagination," and came himself
to read them to me, along with Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Coleridge.
Mr. Schéle sent me much music and French literature, he also coming to
read the latter with me. William C. Rives loved my music, to which he
could listen by the hour. I kept the friendship of these brilliant men
as long as they lived. Only two lived to be old.

The Tuckers were a family of literary distinction—One of the happiest
and wittiest of them was my dear Lizzie's husband, St. George Tucker.
Anything, everything, would provoke a pun, a parody, or a graceful

When it was proposed to change the name of "Competition"—a court-house
village in the county of Pittsylvania—to "Chatham," he produced a pencil
and paper, and in a moment gave:—

     "Illustrious Pitt, how glorious is thy fame,
     When Competition dies in Chatham's name."

He was a friend of G. P. R. James, whom he once surprised eating a very
"ripe" cheese.

"You see, Tucker, I am, like Samson, slaying my thousands."

"And with the same weapon?" inquired St. George.

We had a delightful addition to our society in Powhatan Starke, who
came from the Eastern Shore, and spent a year first as a guest of
the Southalls, and later of all of us. He seemed to have been created
for the express purpose of making people happy. He would have us all
convulsed with laughter while he held the woollen skeins for my aunt's
knitting. He taught me on the piano waltzes not to be found in the
books; and the polka, a new dance with picturesque figures just then
introduced. He joined in and enhanced every scheme for pleasure, and
would finally spend half the night serenading us. "The serenade,"
according to a recent definition, "is a cherished courtship custom of
primitive societies." Courtship had nothing to do with it in 1847.
It was only a delicate compliment to ladies who had entertained the
serenaders. Four or five voices in unison would sing such songs as "Oft
in the Stilly Night," "The Last Rose of Summer," "Eileen Aroon," "Flow
Gently, Sweet Afton," and one voice render Rizzio's lovely song:—

                 "Queen of my soul whose starlit eyes
                 Are all the light I seek,
                 Whose voice in sweetest melodies
                 Can love or pardon speak;
                   I yield me to thy soft control
                   Mary—Mary—Queen of my soul!
     (_Chorus_) Mary! Mary! Queen of my soul!"

With the first twang of the guitar strings we would slip from our beds,
find our shawls and slippers, and creep downstairs. Crouched close to
the door, we would listen for _Vive l'amour_, the song always concluding
the serenade:—

     "Let every bachelor fill up his glass,
               Vive la Compagnie!
     And drink to the health of his favorite lass,
               Vive la Compagnie!"

And just here, rising as it were to a question of privilege concerning
individual rights, let me solemnly assure my reader that I do not
plagiarize from "Trilby." The low-hanging fruit of Mr. Du Maurier's
bountiful orchard is to be desired to make wise the daughters of Eve,
but this Eve has no occasion to rob it. _Au contraire!_ Powhatan Starke
had brought this song from Paris in the forties and sung it for us
twenty years before, according to Du Maurier, the "genteel Carnegie"
had given it in his hiccupy voice to the Laird, Taffy, Little Billie,
Dodor, Zouzou, and the rest.

Personally, I should like to help myself with both hands to the clever
things the young authors are writing. But I am "proud, tho' poor!"
Besides, I should be found out!" Mon verre n'est pas grand, mais je bois
dans mon verre."

I know, I have heard, but one verse of this immortal song. All the
rest were freshly made, whether at dinner, evening party, or moonlight
serenade, to suit the company and the occasion. The chorus, as rendered
by Carnegie the genteel, was:—

     "Veeverler, Veeverler, veverler vee
             Veverler Companyee."

But my friend twenty years before respected it enough to be accurate:—

     "Vive! Vive! Vive l'amour
     Vive la compagnie!"

Only he, like _les autres_, sometimes dropped his "_r_'s." They were all
nice in their pronunciation. They gave to the broad "_a_" its fullest

     "E'en the slight hahbell raised its head
     Elahstic from her ahry tread!"

exclaimed George Gordon, as one of the maidens tripped across the lawn.
But even he was sometimes indifferent to the rights, as a terminal,
of the letter "_r_"; for only as a terminal does the Southern tongue
utterly scorn it. When but a lisping infant, a possible orator was
drilled in the test words:—

     "Around the rugged rocks
     The ragged rascal ran,"

and taught to roll the elusive consonant to the utmost limit.

But I must linger no longer in this enchanted valley among the
mountains. A long road lies before me. I must pass swiftly on. With just
such trifling events I might fill my book. Dear to every heart are the
annals of its youth; before we enter the vast world of—

     "Effort, and expectation and desire—
     And something evermore about to be."

We cherish the sweet nothings of a happy time as we preserve dried
rose-leaves. Mayhap through their faint fragrance we may dream the rose!

It was a busy time as well as a happy time. I was helping Mrs. William
C. Rives build a church; I was hemstitching all the ruffles for Thomasia
Woodson's trousseau; I was playing waltzes, _ad infinitum_, at the
house-parties in Charlotte—the Henrys and Carringtons—and singing
campaign songs, to the great delight of my dear grandfather, in honor
of my old friend, Henry Clay, whom we were once more trying to make our

     "Get out o' the way, you're all unlucky;
     Clear the track for old Kentucky!"

(And just here I wish to record the fact that only once in all my life
did my old grandfather ever reprove me. I had committed a flagrant act
of _lèse majestie_. I had put a nightcap on the bust of Patrick Henry!)

But my dear aunt's invitations, written on paper embossed with an
orange-blossom and tied with white satin ribbon, were now issued for my

I had begun my acquaintance with the young man known now as "the
General," or "the Judge," by beseeching God to take care of him.
According to my Presbyterian training, I was taught that every prayer
must be followed by efforts for its fulfilment. It was clearly my duty
"to take care of him." He needed it.


Two years after our marriage, my husband was seriously ill from an
affection of the throat, and consulted Dr. Green, an eminent specialist
of Philadelphia. He was ordered to a warmer climate, and forbidden to
speak in or out of court. The tiny law office at a corner of the court
green in Charlottesville was abandoned, and we hastened to Petersburg,
near his birthplace. As it was absolutely impossible for him to exist
without occupation, he purchased a newspaper, sallied forth one morning
to solicit subscribers for "_The South Side Democrat_," and before a
week's end was justified in beginning its issue.

This step determined his career in life. He did not practise law until
he came to New York in 1865.

At the age of twenty-two he became an enthusiastic editor. The little
_South Side Democrat_ soon evinced pluck and spirit. Its youthful editor
sailed his small craft right into the troubled sea of politics, local
and national, to sink or swim according to its merits and the wisdom
of its pilot. It was loved of the gods, with the inevitable result,—but
not until he left it.

  [Illustration: STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS.]

I remember our first meeting with Stephen A. Douglas, so soon to become
a conspicuous figure in our political history. He had just returned from
Europe, and was passing through Petersburg with his first wife (Miss
Martin of North Carolina), and of course glad to talk with the editor
of a Democratic paper, aspiring as he did to the highest office in the
country. He was thirty-nine years old, and below the average height. But
the word _insignificant_ could never have been applied to him. There was
something in his air, his carriage, that forbade it. His massive head,
his resolute face, more than compensated for his short stature.

He has always been accused of rude, unconventional manners. He was
enough of a courtier to inform me that I resembled the Empress Eugénie.

To us he took the trouble to be charming, talked of his European
experience—of everything, in fact, except the perilous stuff burning
in his own bosom, his hunger for the presidency. Like my editor,
he had been admitted to the bar before he had reached his majority.
The parallel was to appear again later. Mr. Douglas also had been a
representative in Congress at thirty.

My husband was a delegate to the Democratic Convention that nominated
Franklin Pierce in 1852, and Mr. Douglas suffered himself to be a

The "Little Giant" received at first only 20 votes, but he steadily
increased until Virginia cast her 15 votes for Mr. Pierce, after which
there was "a stampede" which decided the matter. Some writer reminded
Douglas that vaulting ambition overleaps itself, but added dryly,
"Perhaps the little Judge never read Shakespeare and does not think of

An interesting event in Petersburg was a brief visit from Louis Kossuth
_en route_ to the Southern and Western cities, his avowed purpose being
"to invoke the aid of the great American republic to protect his people;
peaceably, if they may, by the moral influence of their declarations;
but forcibly, if they must, by the physical power of their arm—to
prevent any foreign interference in the struggle to be renewed for the
liberties of Hungary."

Our Congress, it will be remembered,[1] had, after Kossuth's defeat
and his detention in Turkey—whither he had fled for refuge—directed
the President to offer one of the ships of our Mediterranean squadron
to bring him and his suite to our country. The Turkish government had
no especial use for Governor Kossuth as a guest or as a captive, and
accordingly he landed from the steamer _Vanderbilt_ which had been sent
with a committee to meet him, at New York quarantine, December 5, 1851,
at one o'clock in the morning. Early as was the hour, a great crowd
collected on shore to greet him. A salute of twenty-one guns and an
address of welcome from the health-officer at once assured him that he
came to us, not to be pitied as a defeated refugee, but to receive all
honor due a conquering hero. As his boat steamed by, Governor's Island
gave him a salute of thirty-one guns, New Jersey one hundred and twenty,
and New York,—but we know how New York can behave! Steamers, great and
small, whistled, pistols and guns were fired, Hungarian cheers were
shouted, and our Stars and Stripes took into close embrace the Hungarian
flag. We know New York hospitality, and her enthusiasm, nay, crazy
excitement when something, anything, novel and interesting happens.

When Kossuth reached Castle Garden, the unhappy mayor essayed in vain to
read his speech. Speech, indeed! A hundred thousand throats were aching
with a speech, and they delivered it with a roar!

"There was," says a reporter, "a continuous roar of cheers like waves on
the shore." Every house was decorated; and as the hero passed, mounted
on Black Warrior, a horse which had borne conquerors in many Florida
and Mexican wars, the street was jammed with enthusiastic people, and
the windows alive with women and children. Never, since the landing of
Lafayette, had New York so abandoned herself to enthusiasm. The story is
too long—of the speeches, processions, dinners, receptions, fire-works,
etc.—to be repeated fully in these pages.

Of course, the little _South Side Democrat_ threw up its cap with the
rest. Kossuth, when he reached the town, had already received honors
of which his wildest fancy never dreamed, and we did our best to echo
them according to our ability. There were several ladies in his suite
to whom I paid my respects (I am not sure his wife was among them), and
the only impression they made upon me was one of extreme weariness. They
spoke English fairly well, but were too utterly worn out to exhibit the
least animation. Kossuth spoke English perfectly. He had a long talk
with my young editor, to whom he gave a huge cigar, which was never
reduced to ashes! But after he left, the _South Side Democrat_ came to
its senses (having never utterly lost them), and expressed a decided
opinion in favor of the non-intervention of this country in the affairs
of Hungary, giving good reasons therefor. Kossuth, when the paper was
handed him, read the editorial carefully, and exclaimed, "_So young_,
and yet so depraved!" adding, with his usual tact, "I mean, of course,

But even at this highest pinnacle of glory in New York, when an
editorial banquet was given him at The Astor by George Bancroft, William
Cullen Bryant, Henry J. Raymond, Parke Godwin, Henry Ward Beecher,
Charles A. Dana, and others, Mr. Webster had coldly declined attendance.

His letter was received with hisses and groans. "Kossuth," said Mr.
Webster, in a private letter from Washington, "is a gentleman in
appearance and demeanor, is handsome enough in person, evidently
intellectual and dignified, amiable and graceful in his manners. I shall
treat him with all personal and individual respect; but if he should
speak to me of the policy of 'intervention,' I shall have ears more deaf
than adders'."

The Senate, the President, Congress, all received him cordially. He
dined at the White House; was treated with the utmost distinction, and
a seat of honor assigned him on the floor of the Senate; but before
he left Washington, every one except himself knew that his mission had
failed. He soon discovered it, and appealed no longer for intervention
but for money. He complained bitterly at Pittsburg that he had received
little but costly banquets and foolish parades. The net amount of the
contributions to his cause was less than $100,000, and according to
his statement at Pittsburg, only $30,000 remained for the purchase
of muskets. We had expressed with enthusiasm our appreciation of his
patriotism, courage, and devotion. We had entertained him _en prince_.
We had added a substantial gift. It was not enough.

The citizens of New York very soon calmed down, and by the middle
of January the name of Kossuth was rarely mentioned. When Congress
came to audit his hotel bill, it fairly gasped! The retainers of the
poor refugee had not been poor livers. They had occupied luxurious
apartments, and proved beyond a shadow of doubt the Hungarian
appreciation of old Madeira and champagne. No one, however, could accuse
the hero himself of excess. Still, all at once, he seemed less of a

One unprejudiced looker-on in Vienna, Ampère, wrote of Kossuth at the
editorial dinner, "He has the bad taste to love fanciful dress, wore a
_lévite_ of black velvet, and seemed to me much less imposing than when
he harangued, leaning upon his sword, in the hall at Castle Garden."
Ampère also philosophizes upon our American enthusiasm,—"the only lively
amusement of the multitude in a country where one has little to amuse
one. It is without consequence and without danger, simply to let out
the steam (_à lâcher la vapeur_), not to cause explosions but to prevent

"The American likes excitement," says Bryce in 'The American
Commonwealth,' "but he is shrewd and keen; his passion seldom obscures
his reason; he keeps his head when a Frenchman, or an Italian, or
even a German, would lose it. Yet he is also of an excitable temper,
with emotions capable of being quickly and strongly stirred. He likes
excitement for its own sake, and goes wherever he can find it."

The Kossuth episode vividly illustrated this! _Sic transit gloria_—be
it prince or patriot!

My young editor had soon to leave the _South Side Democrat_ under the
care of a foster-father. He was summoned to Washington—lured less by
a fine salary than the larger field—to edit with John W. Forney the
_Washington Union_, then the national Democratic organ. It was desired
that one of the two editors should be from the South. Mr. Forney
represented the North.


We had the good fortune to secure pleasant rooms in the large
boarding-house of Mrs. Tully Wise, sister of Henry A. Wise of Virginia.
Mrs. Wise had a number of agreeable people in her house: Professor and
Mrs. Spenser Baird of the Smithsonian Institution; Professor Baird's
assistants,—Mr. Turner, an Englishman, and a Swiss naturalist whom
Professor Baird addressed as "George,"—Mr. James Heth, Commissioner of
Pensions, and his family; Commodore Pennock and his wife, sister of Mrs.
(Admiral) Farragut, and others. I must not forget Miss Dick, whose rooms
were above mine, and who hovered around like the plump, busy little
bird that she was. A long table in the dining-room was filled with "new"
people—desirable possibly, but not known by us. There were the _nouveau
riche_ party from New York, the tall, angular, large-limbed, _passée_
young woman and her fat mamma; there were the well-groomed government
clerk and his stylish young wife; a French count, a German baron; a
physician (Dr. McNalty), and a beautiful dark-eyed young lady who always
wore a camellia in her dusky hair, Miss —well, let her be "Miss Vernon,"
with her father. Lesser lights plenty—a large number in all.

Then Mrs. Wise herself gathered pleasant men and women around her.
In her little parlor we met Dr. Yelverton Garnett, our devoted friend
in all his after life—Mrs. Garnett, daughter of Henry A. Wise, and a
charming young sister, Annie Wise. Our hostess was a widow, well born
and good, who was educating, alone and unaided, five splendid boys, who
lived to reward her by their own worth and success.

We were made thoroughly comfortable, and I soon learned that the "man
behind the gun," to whom it behooved me to be civil, was the head
waiter, Patrick, tall, black, stern, and unyielding. No use in trying
blandishments on Patrick! If one were starved, having overstayed
appointed hours, she must fast until the next meal or find refreshment
elsewhere. I once complained to Mrs. Wise,—that I lost the sweetest
hour in the late afternoon for my stroll on Pennsylvania Avenue; and
represented the perfect ease with which Patrick could keep my tea for
me. She listened with sympathy to the oft-told tale.

"Well, you know, my dear," she said kindly, "Patrick—now you know
Patrick is _so_ good! There's nobody like Patrick! He has some trouble,
with all those strangers to serve. I know you would like to help
Patrick! Yes, to be sure, it would seem to be a simple thing to set
aside a biscuit and bit of cold tongue for you, and keep the kettle
hot on the hearth,—but you see Patrick,—well, he _is_ so good, you'll
not have the heart to trouble him! And dear! I think you will yourself
choose to be indoors early here in Washington."

The one who was "dear" was Mrs. Wise—the noblest and best of women.

Very soon I found that with all these pieces upon the board, a lively
game might be expected. Miss Dick, whose brother was employed by the
government, soon enlightened me: the rich New York girl wanted a title.
She was "trying to catch" the baron, and would succeed, "as nobody else
wanted either of them." Miss Vernon was dying for love of Dr. McNalty.
She was going into a decline. Probably the doctor was ignorant of the
state of things. Such a beautiful girl—a perfect lady! Somebody ought
to speak to the doctor. She, (Miss Dick) couldn't. Nobody would listen
to an old maid—"perhaps _you_, Mrs. Pryor"—("Oh, mercy, no")—well, then,
poor girl! The French count was flirting with the wife of the government
clerk. Her husband would find _her_ out, never fear! There was danger
of a hostile meeting before the winter was over. Then that hateful old
Dr. Todkin, with his straw-colored wig! To be sure, she and some others
liked the parlors kept dark—but what business had he to say he hoped
some lady would come who "liked the light and _could bear the light_!"
Such Dutch impertinence!

I received these confidences of Miss Dick in my own rooms, for I soon
learned, with Mrs. Baird and Mrs. Heth, that the public drawing-room
was no place for me.

"Gossip!" said they. "It has gone beyond gossip! The air is thick with
something worse. You might cut it with a knife."

But it was not long before we had a ripple in our own calm waters.
On one side of me at our round table sat Mr. George, the eccentric,
small, intense Swiss naturalist, who amused me much by affecting to be
a woman-hater.

"Not that they concern me," he said, "but,—well, I find fishes more
interesting. I understand them better."

Beside my husband was placed our special pet, Maria Heth, taken under
our wing in the absence of her parents, neither of whom ever appeared.
The circle was completed by Professor and Mrs. Baird, little Lucy Baird,
and Mr. Turner. In course of time my right-hand man fell into silence,
broken by long-drawn sighs. I supposed he had lost a "specimen," or
failed to find enough bones in some fish he was to classify, or maybe
heard bad news from home, or belike had a toothache; so, after a few
essays on my part to encourage him, I let him alone. Presently his place
at the board was vacant. Things went on in this way until one morning,
early, Maria Heth knocked at my door.

"I am troubled about Mr. George," she said. "I am sorry to worry you,
but I'm afraid there's no help for it. Mamma is too nervous to hear
unpleasant things, and I'm afraid of exciting papa."

"Come to the point, Maria! Mr. George, you say! Well, then, what about
Mr. George?"

"Well, you know he's been missing nearly a week. It was no business of
mine. I had no dream _I_ had anything to do with it. But see what he
has written me! 'This comes to you from a broken-hearted man. _Forget
him!_ You will meet him no more on earth. Perhaps—_yonder!_ George.'"

Questioning Maria further, she confessed that on the day Mr. George
disappeared, she received from him a passionate love-letter. She had
answered him curtly. Yes,—she certainly had told him what she thought
of his impertinence. "Of course, I am distressed, but what could I
do," said the poor child. "You know my brother! Richard would have been
enraged. I had to settle him once for all to save trouble."

I went immediately to Mrs. Baird with my information. She, too, had
become anxious at the sudden disappearance of the young naturalist. He
had not been seen at the Institution, and investigation revealed the
fact that he had not occupied his rooms. Professor Baird was deeply
concerned, and a vigorous search was made for the missing man.

Upon returning from my walk that evening, I found a note on my table
from Mrs. Baird. The runaway had been found. It would be unnecessary
to drag the river or notify the police. He was discovered in the upper
chamber of an humble lodging-house, very limp and penitent, but "clothed
and in his right mind." He had not been drinking, he had not been in
the river. I never knew what Professor Baird did to him—pulled him
out of bed, very likely, and shook him into his senses. So we lost Mr.
George (whose surname I dare not reveal), and he was doubtless mightily
strengthened in his opinion of women—not to be understood by him and
not, by any means, comparable to fishes.

Perhaps I should not leave the _dramatis personæ_ of our boarding-house
"in the air." Before I left Mrs. Wise, the baron was safely moored into
harbor by the tall young lady from New York. The government clerk had
openly insulted the French count, and it was supposed a challenge had
passed between them. Evidently nothing had come of it. If they fought,
it was a bloodless battle. The exquisite Miss Vernon had reappeared,
thinner, paler, but radiant and beautiful exceedingly. Miss Dick
was puzzled. Perhaps the girl had "gotten over it," like a sensible
woman. Perhaps she had not been ill at all—only hysterical. It was not
impossible she might have feigned illness "to bring him around." These
were some of the solutions of the problem that occurred to Miss Dick.

I could have enlightened her. One evening, Dr. McNalty, whom I knew
but slightly, spoke to me in the hall. He had a soft white parcel in
his hand and seemed embarrassed and agitated. He begged me to do him a
great kindness—would I see Miss Vernon—not send a messenger, see her
myself and give her some camellias from him. Possibly there might be
some message from her. He would await my return.

Would I? I flew on the wings of hope and keen interest. I comprehended
the situation. Of course there had been a misunderstanding. Possibly
his letters had been returned and unopened. Only a desperate necessity
could have nerved him to appeal to me—almost a stranger. I rose to the
occasion, and when I was admitted to Miss Vernon's room, I was prepared
to be an eloquent advocate, should circumstances encourage and justify

When I returned to Dr. McNalty, I bore a message. She had laid the
camellias against her lovely cheek and said, "Tell him his flowers are
whispering to me."

I hope my reader will appreciate my reticence in ending this little
story just here. If, as Talleyrand declared, "a man who suppresses
a _bon mot_ deserves canonization," is there no nimbus for the woman
who, for truth's sake, suppresses the _dénouement_ of a love story? The
temptation is great to amplify a little, embroider a little—but then I
should have to reckon with my conscience, with the certainty of being

As a matter of fact, I know only this of the young woman I am
constrained to call Miss Vernon. Her true name was one well and
honorably known in history. She was the most beautiful of all
dark-eyed women I have ever known—of course the blue-eyed angels are
exceptional—and her manners and attire were as elegant as her person.
She wore rich velvet, then much in vogue, and only one jewel:—

     "On her fair breast a sparkling cross she wore
     Which Jews might kiss and infidels adore."

I never knew the end of the romance in which I bore a small part. I
never even knew of what whisperings camellias are capable. Had they been
violets—or roses, or lilies of the valley—but big white camellias! I
only know she recovered and that Dr. McNalty thanked me warmly for my
small service. That is all.


Mr. Fillmore was a fine type of the kind of man Americans love to raise
to the highest office in their gift. He had not been a mill boy, nor
lived in a log-cabin, nor split rails (which was to his discredit),
but he had been an apprentice to a wool-carder in Livingston County,
New York. Afterward he had worked in a lawyer's office all day and
studied at night. He had had no patron. He was essentially a self-made
man. When, by the death of President Taylor, he became President of
the United States, he fitted into the place as if he had made himself
expressly for it.

According to Ampère, who observed us so narrowly in 1852, "M. Fillmore
avait un cachet de simplicité digne et bienveillante, qui me semble
faire de lui le type de ce que doit être un président Américain."

But nobody said any of those fine things about dear Mrs. Fillmore. The
_cachet de simplicité_ she certainly possessed, but she wore it with
a difference. In a President it was admirable, in a beautiful woman it
would have been adorable. It stamped plain, unhandsome, ungraceful Mrs.
Fillmore as ordinary, commonplace. She was the soul of kindness. "She
has no manner," said a woman of fashion. "She is absolutely simple. It
is not good form to be so motherly to her guests. Why, what do you think
she said to me at the last levee? 'You look pale and ill, my dear! Pray
find a seat.' Think of that! Haven't I a right to look pale and ill, I

"She meant to be kind," I ventured. "Should she have permitted you to
faint on the floor?"

"Kind, indeed! It was her duty, if she thought me 'gone off in my
looks,' to tell me how _well_ I was looking! I should have been all
right after that. As it was, I came straight home and went to bed."

I fairly revelled in the music I could now hear. From a famous musician,
Mr. Palmer, I took lessons again. He was a notable character—a splendid
musician, and a welcome guest at Mr. Corcoran's and other houses, where
he amused the company with tricks of legerdemain. He afterward became
the celebrated "Heller," the prince of legerdemain and clairvoyance.
The elder Booth, Hackett, and Anna Cora Mowatt introduced me to the
fascinations of the stage. Nothing to my mind had ever been, could ever
be, finer than their Hamlet, Falstaff, and Parthenia. The Armstrongs
gave me _carte blanche_ to their box at the theatre, and I saw
everything. I wonder if any one at the present day remembers the Ravel
brothers and their matchless pantomimes! Mrs. Baird made a party, taking
little Lucy to see "Jocko." Not a word was spoken in the play; not an
eye was dry in the house.

One evening an agreeable Frenchman whom we knew joined us in our box,
and seeking an opportunity, whispered to me, "Madame, will you grant me
a favor? There—in the parquette, second from the front, _voyez-vous?_
A lady _en chapeau bleu_?"

"Yes, yes, I see! Who is she?"

"Madame" (tragically), "that _demoiselle_ with the young man is
_fiancée_ to my friend!"

"And you are perhaps jealous!"

"Ah, _mais non_, Madame! I have this moment said to my friend,
'_Regardez votre fiancée_.' He has responded, '_C'est vrai!_ It is
custom of this country.'"

"And what then?" I asked.

"Oh!" shrugging his shoulders in scorn not to be expressed in words, "I
say, '_Eh bien, Emil_. If _you_ satisfy, _I_ very well satisfy!' But,
pardon, Madame, is it _convenable_ in this country for _demoiselle_ to
appear at theatre with young gentleman without chaperon?"

I found refuge in ignorance: "I am sure I cannot say. You see I am from
Virginia. I haven't been long in Washington, and customs here may differ
from manners in my home."

I was a proud woman when Mr. Pierce sent for my young editor to read
with him his inaugural address. These were mighty political secrets,
not to be shared with Miss Dick, and thus published to her little
boarding-house world. I felt that I belonged, not to that nor to any
other small world. I belonged to the nation; and strange to say, that
impression (or must I say delusion?) never left me in my darkest, most
obscure days.

Mr. Pierce liked my young editor. We adored _him_! Only since we
lost him have we learned of his many mistakes, vacillation, weakness,
unpopularity; nothing of these appeared in 1852. He had been a fine
politician, had served his country "with bravery and credit," enlisting
as a private in the Mexican War. "His integrity was above suspicion,
and he was deeply religious." It is quite certain he did not desire the
nomination. There was nobody in his family to exult over his promotion,
no son, no daughter to blossom with new beauty because of the splendid
stem on which she grew. Only a sick, broken-hearted wife, too feeble to
endure the exactions of social life, too sad to take part in anything
outside her own room. She did not even attempt it. It was at once
understood that our republican court was such only in name. In name only
did Mrs. Pierce appear in its annals. I never saw her. I never saw any
one who had seen her. We thought of her as a Mater Dolorosa, shrouded
in deepest mourning, and we gave her a sacred place in our hearts.

I cannot close my records of this, my earliest experience of Washington
life, without remembering with gratitude all I owe to the friendship
and wisdom of the discreet, cultured women who felt an early interest in
me, guiding and instructing me. Mrs. Spenser Baird, Mrs. Garnett(_née_
Wise), lovely Annie Wise, and Maria Heth, these were my intimate
friends. Mrs. Garnett, a lovely Christian woman, watched me closely
and restrained me in my natural desire for beautiful raiment. I once
confessed to her, almost with tears, that Léonide Delarue had beguiled
me into giving forty dollars for a bonnet, whereupon she produced
pencil and paper and proved that the material (exclusive of a bit of
superfluous point-lace) could be obtained for ten dollars. The young
English queen, it was said, could make her own bonnets. But I could
not succeed as a milliner. I had some talent, but not in that line.
However, that I might please and surprise Mrs. Garnett and also imitate
the Queen, when the time came for me to indulge myself in a winter
bonnet (we did not call them hats—they weren't hats!), I essayed the
"creation" of one with velvet, satin, and feathers galore. It was a
dreadful failure! I took it to Madame Delarue's and begged her to tell
me what ailed it.

"_Mon Dieu!_" she exclaimed, throwing up her hands in despair,

I gave away my "creation" to somebody in my service—anybody who would
condescend to accept it. Mrs. Garnett felt I could hardly afford to try
again. She knew, however, how important to me as a young politician's
wife would be the virtue of economy. It is not written in the stars
that an honest politician can ever be rich. A great evening reception
was to be given by some magnate at which my young editor consented to
be present. He secretly visited Harper's fine store and brought home a
lovely "bertha" for me made of three rows of point-lace. I gasped! But
I was prudent. I accepted it with apparent pleasure, went to Harper's,
found it had been charged, and effected its return. But here was a
dilemma. I was to attend the reception. I was to wear evening dress and
a beautiful "bertha."

"Have you not imitation lace?" I inquired.

Harper had,—and the imitation was good,—the price of plenty of it ten
dollars. I guiltily made the exchange, took a searching look at my
model, and perfectly copied it.

That evening, brave in my counterfeit presentment I stood under a blaze
of light with my intimates, Mrs. Clay, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and others
around me. My editor approached and was complimented upon my appearance.
"Ah, but," he said, in the pride of his young heart, "if I can only keep
it up! Why, Mrs. Clay, that bit of lace cost me hundreds of dollars!" I
caught the wondering eyes of my fully instructed friends, gave them an
imploring glance—and when the boastful young fellow departed, told them
my story. They said I was a very silly woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Fillmore's tastes had been sufficiently ripened to enable him to
gather around him men of literary taste and attainment. John P. Kennedy,
a man of elegant accomplishments, was Secretary of the Navy. Washington
Irving was often Mr. Kennedy's guest. We knew these men, and among them
none was brighter, wittier, or more genial than G. P. R. James, the
English novelist whose star rose and set before 1860. He was the most
prolific of writers, "Like an endless chain of buckets in a well," said
one; "as fast as one is emptied, up comes another."

We were very fond of Mr. James. One day he dashed in, much excited:—

"Have you seen the _Intelligencer_? By George, it's all true! Six times
has my hero, a 'solitary horseman,' emerged from a wood! My word! I
was totally unconscious of it! Fancy it! Six times! Well, it's all up
with that fellow. He has got to dismount and enter on foot—a beggar, or
burglar, or pedler, or at best a mendicant friar."

"But," suggested one, "he might drive, mightn't he?"

"Impossible!" said Mr. James. "Imagine a hero in a gig or a curricle!"

"Perhaps," said one, "the word 'solitary' has given offence. Americans
dislike exclusiveness. They are sensitive, you see, and look out for

He made himself very merry over it; but the solitary horseman appeared
no more in the few novels he was yet to write.

One day, after a pleasant visit from Mr. James and his wife, I
accompanied them at parting to the front door, and found some difficulty
in turning the bolt. He offered to assist, but I said no—he was not
supposed to understand the mystery of an American front door.

Having occasion a few minutes afterward to open the door for another
departing guest, there on his knees outside was Mr. James, who
laughingly explained that he had left his wife at the corner, and had
come back to investigate that mystery. "Perhaps you will tell me," he
added, and was much amused to learn that the American door opened of
itself to an incoming guest, but positively refused, without coaxing,
to let him out. "By George, that's fine!" he said, "that'll please the
critics in my next." I never knew whether it was admitted, for I must
confess that, even with the stimulus of his presence, his books were
dreary reading to my uninstructed taste.

A very lovely and charming actress was prominent in Washington society
at this time,—the daughter of an old New York family, Anna Cora (Ogden)
Mowatt. She was especially interesting to Virginians, for she had
captivated Foushee Ritchie, soon afterward my husband's partner on the
editorship of the _Richmond Enquirer_. Mr. Ritchie, a confirmed old
bachelor, had been fascinated by Mrs. Mowatt's Parthenia (in "Ingomar"),
and was now engaged to her. He proudly brought to me a pair of velvet
slippers she had embroidered for him, working around them as a border
a quotation from "Ingomar":—

     "Two souls with but a single thought,
     Two hearts that beat as one."


I was peacefully enjoying a cup of tea with Mrs. Arnold Harris, when her
father, old General Armstrong, entered, and brought me the astounding
news that my husband had resigned his position as editor of the
_Washington Union_.

"Oh, that boy! He thinks he knows more about foreign politics than I do."

I was very fond of the General, who had always treated me in a fatherly
and most kind manner. But of course I could not hear my husband
discussed, even by him, so I expressed polite regrets and hastened
home. It was too true! The junior partner had published in the _Union_
a very strong article, taking the part of Russia in the Crimean War,
and General Armstrong had wished him to disavow it "upon further
consideration." He had refused, and declared he must write according
to his convictions or not at all. The matter might possibly have
been adjusted, had not the General, with more zeal than discretion,
remonstrated with him upon the ground that he should "think twice before
giving up a large salary."

There is a very ugly word in the English language of which I, as a
child, stood in mortal fear. I had then never read that word anywhere
except in the Bible or my Catechism. I had never heard it except in the
pulpit. I had an idea that the devil, in whose personality I believed,
but of whom I had never thought enough to be afraid, might appear at any
moment in connection with that inviting word, if uttered out of church.

Only lately has it been shorn of its terrors by being left out root and
branch in the revision of the Bible. Now, although offensive to ears
polite, it is no longer supposed to imperil the safety of the soul.
Unless refined taste forbids, it may in seasons of peculiar vexation of
spirit—_à lâcher la vapeur_—be applied to things inanimate: to a "spot"
that will not "out," to tiresome "iteration," to "faint praise," or,
on general principles, suitably preface the pronoun "it," but never to
living individuals! That would be uncivil to a degree—highly imprudent,
and likely to result unpleasantly. There can be no doubt of the fact
that it contains certain mysterious elements of relief and comfort, else
why its frequent use by men and not infrequent use by some women?

At the time of which I am writing it was to me still a desperate word of
evil source and evil omen. Even now the cells of my brain respond with
a shudder when I hear it.

You can then imagine the shock I sustained when I learned my husband's
reply to the good old General's overture.

"What did you say?" I had sternly demanded.

"Well, if you _will_ have it—I said, '_damn_ the money!'"

We did not leave Washington immediately. My editor knew he could make
good his position in regard to Russia in her quarrel with England, and
Mr. Gales offered him the columns of the _National Intelligencer_ for
that purpose. He wrote a long and able defence of Russia. Caleb Cushing
met him afterward and congratulated him on an article which was, he
said, "unanswered and unanswerable."

He was fascinated with editorial life, immediately bought an interest in
the _Richmond Enquirer_, and became co-editor with William F. Ritchie.
We had inaugurated President Pierce, whose friendship promised much. I
had made charming friends in Washington,—Mrs. Gales and Mrs. Seaton,
Mrs. Crittenden, beautiful Adele Cutts (afterward Mrs. Douglas),
Mrs. "Clem" Clay, and other charming wives of the representatives in
Congress. But I was not sorry to leave the city. My dear Blue Mountains
were awaiting me. For years I could never return to them without a
swelling heart. I was going back for a long visit to my aunt and the
baby girl I had lent her (to keep her own dear heart from breaking
when I left her), and I had a splendid boy to show my friends in
Charlottesville—the old people only—for all my confrères had married
and taken wing.

It was not long before Mr. Pierce sent my husband on a special mission
to Greece. I could not accompany him. I could not travel with my
babies—there were now three—nor could I leave them with my delicate
aunt. I went with him as far as Washington, where we spent one day and
night. A dinner had been arranged to witness the unfolding of a superb
specimen of the _Agave Americana_, supposed to be over fifty years
old, and which now, for the first time in the memory of the present
generation, had suddenly thrown up a great stalk crowned with a bud
nearly a foot long.

We did not attend the dinner, but at midnight, upon answering a knock
at the door, there stood a man bearing in his arms the splendid flower.
A thick fringe of narrow, pure white petals formed a rosette, and from
the centre rose a plume of golden stamens. I was resolved this midnight
beauty should not discover the dawn which signals the closing of its
petals, so I placed it in the ample fireplace, made a framework of
canes, parasols, and umbrellas around it and covered the whole with a
blanket. In the morning I peeped in. It presented a tightly twisted
spike, having entered upon another long sleep of fifty years, more
or less. It was this flower that my husband, with outrageous American
boasting, described to Queen Mathilde of Greece as an ordinary floral
production of this country, not to be confounded with the commonplace
night-blooming Cereus, and fired an ambition in her soul that could
hardly have been gratified.

While my husband was absent on his mission, President Pierce spent one
day in Charlottesville to visit the tomb and home of Jefferson, the
father of his political party. We were then at my aunt's country place,
and the President wrote to me regretting he could not go out to see me,
and inviting me to spend the one evening of his stay with him and a few
friends at his hotel.

I had a delightful evening. He expressed the warmest friendship for
the young ambassador to Greece, and presented me with two beautiful
books, bound sumptuously in green morocco and inscribed in his own fine
handwriting, from my "friend Franklin Pierce." Those valued books were
taken from me when our house was sacked in 1865. They possibly exist
somewhere! certainly in the grateful memory of their first owner.

The President had the courtesy to express pleasure in my piano playing.
I made him listen to Thalberg's "La Stranièra," Henselt's "Gondola,"
and "L'Elisir d'Amour"; and I left him with an impression that has never
been lost, of his kindness of heart, his captivating voice and manner.

My husband's letters from Greece and from Egypt were extremely
interesting, and I preserved them for publication in book form. Alas!
they, too, were lost in 1865. Unable to encumber myself when I fled
before the bullets in 1865, I sent my little son back under cover of
night to draw the box containing them to some safe place away from the
buildings and burn them. Thus I lost all records of our active life
in Virginia before the eve of surrender, except those preserved in the
files of Northern papers.

Passage was taken in the _Pacific_ for my husband's return, and I went
down to Petersburg that I might be with his family to meet him. The
_Pacific_ was long overdue before we would acknowledge to each other
that we were anxious,—I can hear now, as then, cries of the newsboys,
"Here's the _New York Herald_, and no news of the _Pacific_,"—repeating
like a knell of despair, as they ran down the streets, "_No news of the
Pacific! No news of the Pacific!_" At last, when the strain was almost
unbearable, my father, Dr. Pryor, ran home with the paper in his hand:
"A printed list of the passengers, my dear! Roger's name is not among

It had pleased God to deliver him. He had taken passage on the _Pacific_
and sent his baggage ahead of him. When he reached Marseilles, he
found his trunks and packages had been opened,—a discourtesy to an
ambassador,—and he remained a few days to obtain redress, allowing the
_Pacific_ to sail without him. That ill-starred steamer never reached
home. The story of her fate is held where so many secrets, so many
treasures lie—in the bosom of the great deep.

I have told elsewhere something of my husband's residence at Athens. It
suffices to state here that he accomplished the object of his mission to
the satisfaction of his government, and to his own pleasure and profit.
He brought me many beautiful pictures and carvings for the home we now
made in Richmond, to say nothing of corals, amber, mosaics, curios, and
antiques, silks, laces, velvets, perfumes, etc., to my great content.
Soon after his return, the President offered him the mission to Persia,
which he declined. We found a pleasant house in Richmond, with ample
grounds on either side for the flowers I adored. There we set up our
Lares and Penates—happy housekeepers, intent on hospitality.

The great day arrived for our first large dinner-party. Although only
men were present, they were friends and neighbors, and I presided;
with my courtly uncle, Dr. Thomas Atkinson, at my right hand. We
furnished our dinners from our own kitchens in Richmond. In every
respect—so my uncle assured me—my first venture was a success. Soup,
fish, roast, game, and salad with the perfection of chill demanded by
a self-respecting salad. Presently I saw one of the waiters whisper
to the host, and an expression of alarm pass over his face. The bread
had "given out"! I had not imagined the enormous consumption of bread
of which a wine-bibber could be capable. Passing around to the head of
the table, the dire story was repeated to me, and it was well I had a
physician at my right hand! Utter collapse threatened his young hostess.
As to the young host, he rose nobly to the occasion. "Ah! no bread! Then
we must eat cake!" Thenceforth at all our dinners a skeleton entered
our closet—if an empty bread-tray might be dignified into a skeleton.
At every dinner and supper we gave, my husband stood in mortal terror
lest the bread should give out—as it really did in very truth not many
years later.

I was very fond of a little factotum of my cook, whom I promoted from
the kitchen to my personal service. As no bell or knocker could reach
the ear in the regions allotted the servants, George was invested in
white linen, and with a primer for his entertainment and culture was
stationed at the door during visiting hours. He found it difficult to
keep awake. My French teacher would throw up his hands when he passed
out, "_Mon Dieu! Comme il dorme!_" If you have ever seen Valentine's
bust of the Nation's Ward, you have seen George; asleep, with his head
on his bosom and his spelling-book on the floor. He was of a blackness
not to be illustrated by the ace of spades, a crow's wing, or any other
sable bird or object, and this circumstance, enhancing the purity of
his white linen, made him an attractive and interesting object. George
had no imagination. He was nothing if not literal. At one time ice
was scarce in Richmond. The water of the James was a rich old-gold
color from the mud of the red-clay regions through which some of its
tributaries ran, but it was considered wholesome. We filtered it for
drinking and for tea through a great Vesuvius stone. Some of the old
residents were wont to declare they preferred it to the clear water of
the springs,—several of which were in the parks of the city,—complaining
that the spring water "lacked body." At the time of the ice famine we
filled tubs with this cool, muddy water, and in it kept our bottles of
milk. George once brought for my admiration some fine lettuce the cook
had bought from a cart.

"Put it in water!" I ordered. Soon afterwards, he entered with several
bottles of milk—which I also told him to "put in water." What was my
dismay when the cook rushed to my room in great heat:—

"I knowed that fool nigger would give you trouble!"

"Why, what's the poor child done?"

"Po' chile! Little devil, _I_ call him! He's done po'ed out all the
baby's milk in that yaller water, and seasoned it with lettuce leaves!"

We found the society of Richmond delightful. Southern society has often
been described, its members praised or blamed, criticised or admired,
according to the point of view; sometimes commended as "stately but
condescending, haughty but jovial," possessing high self-appreciation,
not often indulging in distasteful egotism; fast friends, generous,
hospitable; considering conversation an art to be studied, and fitting
themselves with just so much knowledge of literature, science, and
art, as might be indispensable for conversation; but withal "cultured,
educated men of the world who would meet any visitor on his own favorite

Richmond society has always claimed a certain seclusiveness for
itself—not _ex_clusiveness—for nobody properly introduced could visit
Richmond without having a dinner or evening party given in his honor.
"Taken in?"—of course the entertainers were sometimes "taken in"! That
did not signify once in a while.

I remember a portly dame with two showy daughters, always handsomely
attired, who managed, at some watering-place, to find favor in the
eyes of one of our citizens and obtained an invitation, which was
eagerly accepted, to make him a visit. An evening party was given
to introduce them. I had my doubts after a conversation with Madame
Mère—and expressed them, to the disgust of one of my friends.
"Impossible," she said, coolly. After they left, Mr. Price, our leading
merchant, presented a large bill for female fineries with which he had
unhesitatingly credited Madame, who had departed with her daughters to
parts unknown. It was promptly, and without a grimace, paid by their
deluded host. I could remember the sweetly apologetic way in which
Madame had told me she feared her "girls were a bit overdressed for
the small functions in Richmond. In New York, now! But here, of course,
there need be no such display as in New York!"

No amusement, except an occasional song from an obliging guest, was
provided for our evening parties. Conversation and a good supper, with
the one-and-only Pizzini to the fore—this was inducement enough. Not
quite as spirituelle as Lady Morgan, we required something more than a
lump of sugar to clear the voice. And Pizzini's suppers! His pyramids
of glacé oranges, "_non pareil_," and spun sugar; his ices, his wine
jellies, his blanc manges and, ye gods! his terrapin, pickled oysters,
and chicken salad! We assembled not much later than nine, and remained
as long as it pleased us. Sometimes we acted—"The Honeymoon," or some
other little play; Anna Cora Mowatt (Mrs. Ritchie) gave charming
tableaux, with recitations; but usually we talked and talked and
talked! "Art of conversation?" I suspect art has nothing to do with
conversation. When it becomes art, it ceases to be conversation. We did
not gossip, either. Personalities were quite, quite out of the question.
Our hosts knew to perfection the art of entertaining.

Sometime in the fifties, Charles Astor Bristed wrote his book, entitled,
"The Upper Ten Thousand of New York." It appears the world was waiting
for some such work. The theme rippled from shore to shore, until within
the past few years it seems to have expired with the myth of the Four
Hundred. N. P. Willis (wasn't he a bit of a snob himself?) caught with
avidity the new departure in Mr. Bristed's book, and eternally harped
upon it. From 1852 until the war, and afterward, until the subsidence
of the Four Hundred ripple, we have heard a great deal about classes,
society; and finally, American manners came to the fore as a subject of
journalistic interest. "American manners! Are they improving in grace
or dignity?" The question was put to a number of men and women whose
experience and frankness could be relied upon. The answers, except for
one, were vague and cautious. Nobody likes to appear as a satirist or
cynic—and yet nobody is willing to acknowledge that he knows nothing
better than what appears at present to be the standard of good breeding,
by comparison with the standard twenty or more years ago.

The one honest man revealed by the lamp-light of the inquiring editor
remembered the chapter allotted to a contributor in the preparation of
"a history of Ireland." The subject of the chapter was dictated—"The
Snakes of Ireland"—and it appeared with that heading. It was brief and
to the point—"There are no Snakes in Ireland."

"American manners?" answered the one honest man; "there aren't any."

"American manners," said George William Curtis, "where do you find them?
If high society be the general intercourse of the highest intelligence
with which we converse,—the festival of Wit and Beauty and Wisdom,—we
do not find it at Newport. Fine society is a fruit that ripens slowly.
We Americans fancy we can buy it."

Foreigners have never ceased to comment upon American manners. The
subject in the fifties seems to have been of inexhaustible interest.
"There's no use," said Max O'Rell, "in forever gazing at the Upper Ten
Thousand. They are alike all over the world. It is the million that
differ and are interesting." Marion Crawford said: "The Upper Ten can
never fraternize with artists, poets, and inventors. These take no
account of wealth or of any position not won by absolute genius or
merit, treating such position, indeed, with ill-concealed contempt."

Thackeray liked to be agreeable to the people who made his lectures
profitable, but he complains of the "uncommon splendatiousness" of
Americans. "But I haven't been in Society yet," he wrote, in 1852; "I
haven't met the Upper Ten." Another English writer went farther—much
farther—but we forbear. Now these harsh judgments were exclusively of
manners in New York, Newport, and Washington. No Curtis, Bristed, or
Willis ever, to my knowledge, visited Richmond. Thackeray, Max O'Rell,
and Ampère never thought us worth while—so our delightful small society,
which had ripened slowly and took no account of wealth, and which
could really have furnished a modicum of "Wit, beauty, and Wisdom"
for Curtis's "festival," was unrepresented. As to the criticisms of
our elder brother across the water, as long as he sends his sons to
America to find the mothers of the future peers of his realm, the edge
is blunted of his strictures upon American society and manners.


William Walker, the "Grey-eyed Man of Destiny," who was in 1854 more
talked about than any other man in the country, was our guest for
several days in Richmond. Whether he came to accept a dinner given him
by the city, or whether the dinner was the result of the visit, I cannot
remember. Although we knew him to be an interesting character, we were
unprepared for the throng that filled our house every day while he was
with us. Beginning early in the day, they poured in until night, and
remained, spellbound by the magnetism of this wonderful man. As we could
not invite them to leave for the three o'clock dinner (the dinner-hour
in Virginia varied then to suit individual convenience), I took counsel
of my blessed old negro cook, and following her advice, I spread a
table every day with cold dishes,—tongue, ham, chickens, birds, salads,
etc.,—to which all were made welcome. The sideboard ably supplemented
this informal meal. Old Madeira could be had in those days, and in lieu
of the cocktail of the present time, we brewed an appetizer, crowned
with "the herb that grows on the grave of good Virginians."

The Richmond market was insufficient for sudden demands. We depended
largely upon the small, covered country carts, intercepting them as they
passed on their way to the grocers', who bartered things dry and liquid
for the farmers' poultry, eggs, and butter. At this time of my distress,
no carts hove in sight, but I knew a grocer with a noble soul,—one Mark
Downey,—to whom I made a personal appeal, and he promised to send me,
daily, everything he could gather, from a roasting pig to a reed-bird.
My good cook rose to the occasion: "Ain't that Gin'al gone yet?" was
her morning salutation, hastily adding, "Nem-mine, honey! We-all kin
git along."

In some of the biographical sketches of William Walker I find him
painted as little better—in fact, no better—than a pirate; a man of
an unbounded stomach for power and place, regarding as nothing life,
property, or his own word, and finally, justly forsaken and punished.
Others present him to posterity as a scholar, an author, a graduate of
colleges, a student at Heidelberg, also a hero of the first water, brave
beyond compare; a maker of republics, statesman, dictator,—in all things
fearless and dashing. When I turn to the storehouse of my own memory, I
find a modest, courtly gentleman, with a strong but not ungentle face:—

             "The mildest mannered man
     That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat."

Of course I could not appear in the crowd that hung upon his lips all
day, but when we gathered around the evening lamp he was never too
weary to talk to me—but not about his conquests nor his ambitions. For
a woman's ear he had gentler themes than these.

One night I startled my husband by asking, "What church do you belong
to, General?"

  [Illustration: WILLIAM WALKER.]

"I have recently become a Catholic," he answered gravely; "it is the
faith for a man like me! I have seen the poor wounded fellows die with
great serenity after the ministration of their priest."

I recall a striking remark by the General to my husband. He said men
are commonly equally courageous, the difference between them being that
one man, from keener sensibility, sees a danger of which another is
stolidly insensible. The former is really courageous, while the latter
is indifferent from lack of apprehension. Himself incapable of fear, a
higher authority on the subject cannot be imagined.

When he took leave of us, he gave me a perfect ambrotype picture of
himself, probably the only genuine one extant. "Here I am, Madam,
and I've always been called an ugly fellow." I ventured the usual
deprecatory remark, but he shook his head:—

"I'm afraid there's no doubt about it! On my way here I heard a man
close to my car-window sing out, 'Whar's the Gray-eyed Man of Destiny?'
As he was close to me, I leaned out and said in a low tone, '_Here_,
my friend!' 'Friend nothin,' he sneered; 'an' you'd better take in your
ugly mug.'"

He looked back from the carriage that took him to the depot and answered
my waving handkerchief: "Good-by, good-by, dear lady! I'm going to make
Nicaragua a nice place, fit for you!"

Just as we were about to engage in our own life-and-death struggle, we
heard he had been betrayed, as Napoleon was betrayed, by the English,
to whom, after defeat, he had fled for protection, and had met his death

His dream had been to win Nicaragua, as Houston had won Texas, and
then annex it to the United States, thus strengthening the power of the

I have been told that many superstitions and legends have sprung up in
Nicaragua and Honduras to cluster around the memory of William Walker,
but in none is there a firmer belief than that his ghost appears on
the anniversary of his death, and will so appear until he is avenged. A
Tennessee boy, William G. Erwin, now helping to superintend the digging
of the Panama Canal, has told the legend, in Senator Taylor's magazine,
from which I select a few verses:—

     _"One night each year in Honduras, they clear the roads for his
     Their long dead Gringo President—who rides with his phantom host.
     He sweeps o'er the land in silence and the cowering natives hide,
     From the Wraith of William Walker—who haunts the land where he

     "Thus it was the wild tale started—that when dying on the sand,
     Walker smiled and sternly told them, 'Till avenged I'll haunt your
     And now on snow-white stallion once a year at midnight's spell,
     Across the land from sea to sea—rides the form that all know well.

     "His head is high, his blade is bare, his white steed spurns the
     A phantom troop charge close behind—but all make never a sound;
     While his blood cries yet for vengeance against this murderous
     He will ever come to warn them, that the day is but deferred.

     "To the sons of old Honduras as they view him through the gloom,
     The Gray-eyed Man of Destiny looks the Avatar of Doom;
     In his face they read a warning like the writing on the wall,
     'Tis, '_Beware, one day the Gringos will avenge their chieftain's

My husband entered with great zeal and efficiency into the fight against
"The Know-nothing party," or, as they proudly styled themselves, the
"American party."

The principles of this party were naturally evolved from the fact that
the ignorant foreign vote was influencing elections[2] in the cities,
that votes were freely sold, and that drunken aliens frequently had
charge of the polls. The mythical order of Washington in a time of
peculiar danger was remembered:

"Put none but Americans on guard to-night!"

It seemed reasonable and fitting that Americans, who had won this
country from the savage, and fought all its early battles with the
French and English, should govern the country they had redeemed. One
thing led to another, until it was resolved to form a secret society,
with the view of excluding all foreigners and many Roman Catholics from
any part in the councils of the nation.

This, briefly, seems to have been at the root of the great Know-nothing
movement. The immediate and practical aim in view was that foreigners
and Catholics should be excluded from all national, state, county, and
municipal offices; that strenuous efforts should be made to change the
naturalization laws, so that the immigrant could not become a citizen
until a resident of twenty-one years in this country. My husband at once
perceived the pernicious tendency of the movement, which was sweeping
the Northern states with resistless force. Secret lodges were formed
everywhere, secret ceremonies inaugurated—grip, passwords, and signs.
The country was in a ferment of excitement, followed by outrageous
lawlessness. Bands of women made raids on bar-rooms and smashed the
glasses, broke the casks, and poured the liquor into the streets. Our
one exemplar of similar enterprises should have lived in those days!
Garrison burned the Constitution of the United States at an open-air
meeting in Framingham, Massachusetts; and the crowd, in spite of a
few hisses, shouted "Amen." A mob broke into the enclosure around the
Washington Monument, and broke the beautiful block of marble from the
Temple of Concord at Rome, which had been sent by the pope as a tribute
to Washington. A street preacher, styling himself the Angel Gabriel,
incited a crowd at Chelsea, Massachusetts, to deeds of violence. They
smashed the windows of the Catholic church, tore the cross from the
gable and shivered it to atoms. These were only a few of the outrages
growing out of the excitement engendered by the Know-nothing party.

The _Enquirer_ always claimed the credit of unearthing and exposing the
signals, passwords, and ceremonies of the society. "I don't know" was
one of the answers to the "grip" when brother met brother, and hence the
popular name of the organization. Though Virginia had but few Catholics
and few immigrants, yet, upon principle, she withstood and stayed the
Know-nothing torrent that had hitherto swept over every other state.

Party feeling ran high during the election of a Virginia governor,
and the junior editor of the _Enquirer_ bore his part boldly and with
vigor. For the first few years of his editorial life he devoted himself
to study, confining himself closely to his office. A contemporary
writer says of him: "Pryor evidently studied the highest standards
in his reading, and his editorials were a revelation of strength and
purity in classic English. It was impossible, however, for a man of his
tastes and force not to drift into politics outside of the sanctum of
his paper, and the public soon recognized him as one of the ablest and
most eloquent speakers upon the hustings and in the bitter discussions
that marked the proceedings of every gathering of the people in those
years. In the mutterings and threatenings of the storm that was soon
to break in fury upon a hitherto peaceful and peace-loving land, he
found abundant opportunity for the cultivation and display of those rare
powers of oratory in debate which subsequently forced him to the front
of the forum."[3] I can only add to this tribute from a candid historian
of the time one observation—the success was great: the memory of it
sweet, but—it was bought with a price! The stern price of unremitting
labor and self-abnegation.

It was a terrible time in Virginia. Henry A. Wise was the
Anti-Know-nothing candidate for governor, and hard and valiant was the
fight my husband made for his election. It involved him in two duels—not
bloodless, but, thank God, not fatal. It is unnecessary to allude to
my own fearful anxiety. It will be understood by all women who, like
myself, have been and are sufferers from the false standard demanded
by the "code of honor," in countries where, to ignore it, would mean
ruin and disgrace. We were most devoted adherents of Mr. Wise, and
ready to go to the death in his defence, standing as he did in the
front, as we believed, of the battle for right, justice, and humanity.
Finally, he was triumphantly elected, the pestilent society quenched,
and comparative peace for a brief period reigned in Virginia.

The Democratic party was grateful for my husband's hard work, and gave
him a beautiful service of silver, inscribed with the appreciation of
the party for his "brilliant talents, eminent worth, and distinguished

Not long afterward he became the editor of _The Richmond South_, for
which I had the honor to select a motto—"_Unum et commune periclum una
salus_." Perhaps a pen picture of my "Harry Hotspur," as he was called,
may amuse those whose kind eyes follow his venerable figure as it passes
to-day. "The day after our arrival at the Red Sweet Springs we noticed
among a crowd of gentlemen a face which strikingly contrasted with
the faces around him. He was a slight figure, with a set of features
remarkable for their intellectual cast; a profusion of dark hair falling
from his brow in long, straight masses over the collar of his coat gave
a student-like air to his whole appearance. We unconsciously rose to our
feet on hearing his name, and found ourselves in the actual presence of
the far-famed editor of the _South_ and in such close vicinity, too!
Why, our awe increased almost to trepidation; we felt as if locked
in a vault full of inflammable gas, likely to explode with the first
light introduced into it. Indeed, five minutes wore away in preliminary
explanations before we could be brought to identify the youthful
person before us—who might pass for a student of divinity or a young
professor of moral philosophy—with the fiery and impetuous editor of
the _Richmond South_. He is, we believe, considered one of the ablest
political writers in all the South, and his articles were said to be
highly influential in the late party controversy. For ourselves we
regard with admiration," etc. "His young family cannot fail to create
an immediate interest in the eyes of the most casual observer.... And
then his beautiful, noble-looking children; they might serve as models
for infant Apollos, such as Thorwaldsen or Flaxman might have prayed

They _were_ lovely—my boys—my three little boys!


A bit of paper, yellow and crumbling from age, has recently been sent
to me by the son of an old Charlottesville friend. The tiny scrap has
survived the vicissitudes of fifty-one years, and because of the changes
it has seen and the dangers it has passed, if for nothing more, it
deserves preservation. It marks an important era in our life, although
it contains only this:—

                                    "CHARLOTTESVILLE, July 1, 1858.


     "May I have your receipt for brandy-peaches? You know Roger
     is speaking all over the country, trying to win votes for a
     seat in Congress. I'm not sure he will be elected—but I _am_
     sure he will like some brandy-peaches! If he is successful,
     they will enhance the glory of victory—if he is defeated, they
     will help to console him.

                                                      "S. A. PRYOR."

In this campaign my husband established his reputation as an orator. He
was canvassing the district of his kinsman, John Randolph of Roanoke,
and old men who heard his speeches did not hesitate to declare him the
equal of the eccentric but eloquent Randolph. I always like to quote
directly from the journals of the day,—I like my countrymen to tell my
story,—and happily, although I lost all memoranda, some old men have
written since the war of the noted Virginians whom they knew in the
fifties. One from a North Carolina paper I have preserved, but lost the
precise date.

"The late Rev. Thos. G. Lowe, of Halifax, was the greatest natural
orator North Carolina ever produced. He was silver-tongued and
golden-mouthed, a cross between Chrysostom and Fénelon. He was, besides,
a very earnest Whig in his politics. On one occasion, in 1860, we knew
him to go from Halifax to Henderson, a distance of some sixty miles,
to hear Pryor speak. We asked him what he thought of the Virginian.
His reply was, 'You think I didn't stand up in a hot sun three mortal
hours just to hear him abuse my party? He is wonderful, with the finest
vocabulary I have ever known.' Charles Bruce, Esq., of Charlotte,
Virginia, told us, in 1870, that when Pryor spoke at Charlotte Court
House, he saw elderly gentlemen who had ridden forty miles in their
carriages to hear him, and who said to each other, after the great
orator had concluded his masterly effort, 'We have had no such speaking
in Virginia since John Randolph's day.'"

Another from the old district writes, July 9, 1891:—

     "Of all the men I ever heard speak, Pryor made the strongest
     impression on me. Young, enthusiastic, brilliant; with a
     not unbecoming faith in a capacity of high order, he might
     reasonably have aspired to the loftiest dignities. He was a
     born orator; thorough master of those rare persuasive powers
     that captivate and lead multitudes. His figure was erect
     and finely proportioned, his gestures easy and graceful, his
     features mobile and expressive of every shade of emotion. But
     the charm of his oratory lay in his wonderfully organized
     vocal apparatus, which he played upon with the skill of a
     musical expert. No speaker of the present time can claim to
     rival him in the easy flow of rhetoric that sparkled through
     his harmoniously balanced periods, except, probably, Senator
     Daniel. While listening to him, the Richard Henry Lee of
     Wirt's graphic portraiture seemed to move and speak in every
     tone and gesture."

Another for the _Richmond Times-Democrat_ of November 2, 1902, writes:—

     "A famous orator of the antebellum period was Roger A. Pryor,
     who still survives. He had a poetic imagination, which is the
     basis of all true oratory. His vocabulary, though florid,
     was superb, and kept company with the airy creatures of
     his exuberant imagination. He rarely spoke but to evolve a
     beautiful figure, and in his political campaigns for Congress,
     in the now Fourth Virginia district, he frequently soared
     above the comprehension of his audience, whose reading was
     limited. He combined a logical mind with his poetic fancy,
     and the effect and product of his thought were striking and
     impressive, illustrating the aphorism that the poet always
     sees most deeply into human nature. Pryor had the face, the
     figure, the dramatic air, the attitude, and the vocabulary.
     When we saw him last summer at the White Sulphur, he looked
     the grave and dignified jurist, in contrast with the typical
     politician and editor of the fire-eating school of fifty years

While all these fine speeches were delighting our Democratic friends, I
was very happy with my dear aunt at her country place, Rock Hill, near
Charlottesville. There my dear son Roger was born—now my only son. The
house, like a small Swiss chalet, was perched lightly on the side of an
elevation that well deserved its name. From the crest of the hill there
was a noble view of the Blue Mountains, and of sunsets indescribable.
To the little boy and girl who spent their childhood at this place it
soon became enchanted ground. A quarry, from which stone had been taken
for building the house, was the cave of Bunyan's giants, Pope and Pagan,
who "hailed the Christians as they passed, saying, 'Turn in hither'";
two crayfish that lived in the great spring under the Druidical oaks
were the genii of the fountain; the corn-field was a mighty forest to
be entered with fear because of the Indians and wild beasts therein.

These two children, Gordon and her brother, Theodorick, fourteen months
younger, were blessed in having my own dear aunt's care and teaching
from their infancy until they were aged respectively nine and ten years.
They were not at first "remarkable" children. They were not infant
phenomena, subjected to the perilous applause of admiring friends and
kindred. They were normal in every respect—clean-blooded, sturdy, and
wholesome; with good appetites, cool heads, and quick perceptions. They
became, under the care of their wise preceptor, unusually interesting
and intelligent children. My aunt adored the children, firmly believing
that, however degeneracy might have impaired the human race in its
progress of evolution,—these two at least had been made in God's
image. In the words of their nurse, she "tuned them as if they were
little harps—just to see how sweet the music could be!" They studied
together—Gordon understanding that she must encourage the little
brother, and read to him until he could read himself. In summer the
schoolroom was sometimes _al fresco_, even drawing upon the knotted
branches of the cherry tree for desks!

Gordon read very well at the age of three. She was also taught, before
she could read, to point out rivers and cities on a map. Before he was
four, Theodorick could read also. The children never had a distasteful
task. I heard a great scholar say that _all_ learning could be made
charming to a young mind. The aunt of these children made their lessons
a reward. "Now be good when you dress, and you may have a lesson,"
or "if Gordon and Theo don't ask for anything, I will give them a
lesson right after dinner." The lessons, through the teacher's skill
and patience, were made delightful. At once they were given paper and
pencils, colored and plain, and both wrote before they were five. Their
teacher disapproved of gory tales of giants and hobgoblins. Instead of
these, they had histories quite as thrilling, and stories of the animal
kingdom, with which they lived in perfect amity and kinship. They never
had caged birds, but ducks and chickens, dogs small and great, cats and
kittens, were all regarded as part of the family, and bore historic
names. Theo once picked up (he was three) a small chicken, whereupon
the mother hen rose to his shoulders and administered a good spanking
with her wings. A servant, with great heat, belabored the hen; and Theo
checked his sobs to entreat for her, explaining, "she didn't like for
me to love her little white chicken." The hen, forsooth, was jealous!
He once caught a bee in his hand and received a stinging rebuke. "How
could you be so silly?" exclaimed his little sister. "Not at all," said
Theo; "I have often done the same thing—but this little fellow," he
added affectionately, "this little fellow had a brier in _his_ tail!"

Their aunt hesitated whether she should tell them harrowing stories
from history, but experiment proved, however, that the heroic held for
them such fascination that they lost sight completely of the pain or
suffering attending it. They adored the men and women who died bravely,
but had their favorites. Lady Jane Grey was not one, nor Mary Queen
of Scots (perhaps because of their ruffs), but they worshipped Marie
Antoinette and Charles I. They had a very high regard for honor and fair
dealing. Theo was a little over three years when he complained to me of
his little sister, "I just laid my head on the stool and let her chop it
off—because I am Charles I—and now _she_ is Marie Antoinette, and when
I am ready to cut off her head, she screams and runs away." His sense
of justice was outraged, but the little sister's vivid imagination made
her nervous, notwithstanding the fact that a cushion was the guillotine!
Having observed that a large knotted stick was treated with respect,
and travelled, to my inconvenience, with Theo on several journeys, I
essayed to throw it away. With great dignity he gravely informed me,
"This is Rameses III." Not only was it one of the Egyptian kings, but
the richest of them all. I wish I could follow these two fascinating
children beyond their babyhood, but I cannot venture! I dare not!

Late in the autumn I left Rock Hill to visit my uncle at the Oaks in
Charlotte. I had travelled alone from Richmond to Mossingford, ten or
twelve miles from my uncle's house, and there old Uncle Peter met me
with the great high-swung chariot and a hamper well filled with broiled
partridges, biscuits, cakes, and fruit. The rain had poured a steady
flood for several days, but to my joy the clouds were now rolling away
in heavy masses, and the sun shining hotly on the water-soaked earth.

"We got to hurry, Mistis," said the old coachman, as we prepared to
enjoy an _al fresco_ luncheon; "the cricks was risin' mighty fas' when
I come along fo' sun-up dis mornin'."

"But we don't have to cross the river, Uncle Peter?"

"Gawd A'mighty, no," exclaimed the old man. "Ef'n I had to cross
Staunton River, I'd done give clean up, fo' I see you! When we git
home, we'll fine out what ole Staunton River doin'. I lay she's jes'

"Well, then there is some danger?"

"Who talkin' 'bout danger? De kerridge sets mighty high. No'm, der ain't
no danger, but I ain't trustin' dem cricks. I knows cricks! Dee kin
swell deeself up as big's a river in no time!"

We had not gone far before we were overtaken by a mud-splashed horseman,
who arrested our horses and spoke in a low tone to the driver. Presently
he appeared at the carriage window. "This is Mrs. Pryor? You remember
Mr. Carrington? I hope I see you well, Madam. I am on my way to vote for
your husband—or rather, help elect him. We have a fine day; the polls
need not be kept open to-morrow. But I must hasten on. We will soon have
the pleasure of congratulating our congressman."

"One moment, please, Mr. Carrington! Are the creeks too high for us to

"I think not, Madam. The carriage hangs high, and Peter knows all about
freshets. Good morning."

There were swollen streams for us to cross. Several of them had
overflowed the meadows until they looked like lakes. At one or two the
water flowed over the floor of the carriage, and we gathered our feet
under us on the seats. My little Theo enjoyed it, but my poor nurse was
ashen from terror. Very wet, very cold, and very grateful were we when
at night we reached our haven. My dear uncle, Dr. Rice, was already
there, with cheering news from the polls.

The next morning we looked out upon a turbid yellow sea. The Staunton
had sustained her reputation, overflowed her low banks, and spread
herself generously over the face of the earth. It was a week or more
before my husband was assured of his election. He spent the intervening
days of rest sleeping—like the boy he was!

Several years later, when he was reëlected, we were in Richmond with
my little family. Gordon and the two little boys were keen politicians.
Of course I was now too busy a mother to concern myself with politics,
as was my wont in the earlier days. Moreover, I knew my congressman
would be reëlected. I was pretty sure by this time that he would always
be elected—so the day passed serenely with me. I was overwhelmed with
dismay when one of his friends called after the polls closed at sunset,
and informed me that a torch-light procession would reach our house
about eight o'clock, and would expect to find it illuminated.

"Illuminated!" I exclaimed. "And pray with what? There are not half a
dozen candles in the house, and the stores are all closed. Besides, the
baby will be asleep. It is bad for babies to be waked out of their first

My friend did not contradict me, but in the evening he sent a bushel
of small turnips and a box of candles, with a note telling me to cut a
hole in the turnips, insert a candle, and they would answer my purpose
admirably. Everybody went to work with a will, and when the crowd,
shouting and cheering, surrounded us, every window-pane blazed a welcome
into the happy faces. My young congressman made one of his charming
speeches, and then—the lights went out on the last election he was
destined to celebrate! True, he was twice after elected to Congress—in
the Confederate States; for the South had need of him in her legislative
hall as well as in the field. In both he gave her all his heart and soul
and strength, but the days were too sad for illuminations in his honor.

       *       *       *       *       *

My story has now reached the period at which my "Reminiscences of
Peace and War" begin. I shall not relate the political history of the
period—which has been better told by others than I can hope to tell
it. I shall endeavor to bring forward some things that were omitted
in my late book, but in narrating the incidents of the Civil War and
the preceding life in Washington, I may in some measure repeat myself.
For this I have a valid excuse. Apologizing for quoting himself from
a former book on Edmund Burke, John Morley remarks: "Though you may
say what you have to say well _once_, you cannot so say it _twice_."
Lord Morley strengthens his position by a quotation in Greek, which,
unhappily, remains Greek to me, and I therefore cannot avail myself of
its help, but I am glad to be sustained by his example. Besides, what
says Oliver Wendell Holmes? "It is the height of conceit for an author
to be afraid of repeating himself—because it implies that everybody has
read—and remembers—what he has said before."


Washington was like a great village in the days of President Pierce and
President Buchanan. My own pride in the federal city was such that my
heart would swell within me at every glimpse of the Capitol: from the
moment it rose like a white cloud above the smoke and mists, as I stood
on the deck of the steamboat (having run up from my dinner to salute
Mount Vernon), to the time when I was wont to watch from my window for
the sunset, that I might catch the moment when a point on the unfinished
dome glowed like a great blazing star after the sun had really gone
down. No matter whether suns rose or set, there was the star of our
country,—the star of our hearts and hopes.

When our friends came up from Virginia to make us visits, it was
delightful to take a carriage and give up days to sight-seeing; to visit
the White House and Capitol, the Patent Office, with its miscellaneous
treasures; to point with pride to the rich gifts from crowned heads
which our adored first President was too conscientious to accept; to
walk among the stones lying around the base of the unfinished monument
and read the inscriptions from the states presenting them; to spend a
day at the Smithsonian Institution, and to introduce our friends to its
president, Mr. Henry; and to Mr. Spenser Baird and Mr. George, who were
giving their lives to the study of birds, beasts, and fishes,—finding
them, as Mr. George still contended, "so much more interesting than
men," adding hastily, "We do not say ladies," and blushing after the
manner of cloistered scholars; to hint of interesting things about
Mr. George, who was a melancholy young man, and who had, as we know,
sustained a great sorrow.

  [Illustration: WASHINGTON IN 1845.]

Then the visits to the galleries of the House and Senate Chamber,
and the honor of pointing out the great men to our friends from rural
districts; the long listening to interminable speeches, not clearly
understood, but heard with a reverent conviction that all was coming out
right in the end, that everybody was really working for the good of his
country, and that we belonged to it all and were parts of it all.

This was the thought behind all other thoughts which glorified
everything around us, enhanced every fortunate circumstance, and caused
us to ignore the real discomforts of life in Washington: the cold,
the ice-laden streets in winter; the whirlwinds of dust and driving
rains of spring; the swift-coming fierceness of summer heat; the rapid
atmospheric changes which would give us all these extremes in one week,
or even one day, until it became the part of prudence never to sally
forth on any expedition without "a fan, an overcoat, and an umbrella."

The social life in Washington was almost as variable as the climate.
At the end of every four years the kaleidoscope turned, and lo!—a new
central jewel and new colors and combinations in the setting.

But behind this "floating population," as the political circles were
termed, there was a fine society in the fifties of "old residents" who
held themselves apart from the motley crowd of office-seekers. This
society was sufficient to itself, never seeking the new, while accepting
it occasionally with discretion, reservations, and much discriminating
care. The sisters, Mrs. Gales and Mrs. Seaton, wives of the editors
of the _National Intelligencer_, led this society. Mrs. Gales's home
was outside the city, and thence every day Mr. Gales was driven in his
barouche to his office. His paper was the exponent of the Old Line Whigs
(the Republican party was formed later), and in stern opposition to
the Democrats. It was, therefore, a special and unexpected honor for a
Democrat to be permitted to drive out to "the cottage" for a glass of
wine and a bit of fruit-cake with Mrs. Gales and Mrs. Seaton. Never have
I seen these gentlewomen excelled in genial hospitality. Mrs. Gales was
a handsome woman and a fine conversationalist. She had the courteous
repose born of dignity and intelligence and a certain reticence which
makes for distinction. She was literally her husband's right hand,—he
had lost his own,—and was the only person who could decipher his
left-hand writing. So that when anything appeared from his pen it
had been copied by his wife before it reached the type-setter. A fine
education this for an intelligent woman; the very best schooling for
a social life including diplomats from foreign countries, politicians
of diverse opinions, artists, authors, musicians, women of fashion,
to entertain whom required infinite tact, cleverness, and an intimate
acquaintance with the absorbing questions of the day.

Of course the levees and state receptions, which were accessible to all,
required none of these things. The rôle of hostess on state occasions
could be filled creditably by any woman of ordinary physical strength,
patience, self-control, who knew when to be silent.

Washington society, at the time of which I write, was comparatively
free from non-official men of wealth from other cities who, weary with
the monotonous round of travel,—to the Riviera, to Egypt, to Monte
Carlo,—are attracted by the unique atmosphere of a city holding many
foreigners, and devoted not to commercial but to social and political
interests. The doors of the White House and Cabinet offices being open
on occasions to all, they have opportunities denied them in their own
homes. Society in Washington in the fifties was peculiarly interesting
in that it was composed exclusively of men whose presence argued them to
have been of importance at home. They had been elected by the people,
or chosen by the President, or selected among the very best in foreign
countries, or they belonged to the United States Army or Navy service,
or to the descendants of the select society which had gathered in the
city early in its history.[4]

As I had come to Washington from Virginia, where everybody's
great-grandfather knew my great-grandfather, where the rules of
etiquette were only those of courtesy and good breeding, I had many a
troubled moment in my early Washington life, lest I should transgress
some law of precedence, etc. I wisely took counsel with one of my
"old residents," and she gave me a few simple rules whereby the young
chaperon of a very young girl might be guided: "My dear," said this
lady, "my dear, you know you cannot always have your husband to attend
you. It will be altogether proper for you to go with your sister to
morning and afternoon receptions. When you arrive, send for the host or
the master of ceremonies, and he will take you in and present you. Of
course, your husband will take you to balls; if he is busy, you simply
cannot go! I think you would do well to make a rule _never_, under any
circumstances, to drive in men's carriages. There are so many foreigners
here, you must be careful. They never bring their own court manners to
Washington. They take their cue from the people they meet. If you are
high and haughty, they will be high and haughty. If you are genially
civil but reserved, they will be so. If you talk personalities in a free
and easy way, they will spring some audacious piece of scandal on you,
and the Lord only knows where they'll end."

Now, it so happened that I had just received a request from a Frenchman
who had brought letters to be allowed to escort Madame and Mademoiselle
to a fête in Georgetown. We were to drive through the avenue of
blossoming crab-apples, and rendezvous at a spring for a picnic. I
forget the name of our hostess, but she had arranged a gay festival,
including music and dancing on the green. I had accepted this invitation
and the escort of M. Raoul, and received a note from him asking at what
hour he should have the honor, etc., and I immediately ran home and
wrote that "Madame would be happy to see M. Raoul _à trois heures_"—and
that Madame asked the privilege of using her own horses, etc. I made
haste to engage an open carriage, and congratulated myself on my clever

The afternoon was delicious. Monsieur appeared on the moment, and
we waited for my carriage. The gay equipages of other members of the
party drove up and waited for us. Presently, rattling down the street,
came an old ramshackle "night-hawk," bearing the mud-and-dust scars
of many journeys, the seats ragged and tarnished, raw-boned horses
with rat-eaten manes and tails, harness tied with rope,—the only
redeeming feature the old negro on the box, who, despite his humiliating
_entourage_, had the air of a gentleman.

What could I do? There was nothing to be done!

Monsieur handed me in without moving a muscle of his face, handed in
my sister, entered himself, and spoke no word during the drive. He
conducted us gravely to the place of rendezvous, silently and gravely
walked around the grounds with us, silently and gravely brought us home

I grew hot and cold by turns, and almost shed tears of mortification. I
made no apology—what could I say? Arriving at my own door, I turned and
invited my escort to enter. He raised his hat, and with an air of the
deepest dejection, dashed with something very like sarcastic humility,
said he trusted Madame had enjoyed the afternoon,—thanked her for the
honor done himself,—and only regretted the disappointment of the French
Minister, the Count de Sartiges, at not having been allowed to serve
Madame with his own state coach, which had been placed at his disposal
for Madame's pleasure!

As he turned away, my chagrin was such I came very near forgetting to
give my coachman his little "tip."

I began, "Oh, Uncle, how _could_ you?" when he interrupted: "Now Mistis,
don't you say nothin'; I knowed dis ole fune'al hack warn't fittin' for
you, but der warn't nar another kerridge in de stable. De boss say, 'Go
'long, Jerry, an' git er dar!'—an' I done done it! An' I done fotch 'er
back, too!"

I never saw M. Raoul afterward. There's no use crying over spilt
milk, or broken eggs, or French monsieurs, or even French counts and
ministers. I soon left for Virginia, and to be relieved of the dread of
meeting M. Raoul softened my regret at leaving Washington.

I am sorry I cannot, at length, describe the brilliant society of
Washington during the few years preceding the Civil War. I have done
this elsewhere, and need not repeat it here. But for the anxieties
engendered by the exciting questions of the day, my own happiness would
have been complete. I found and made many friends. My husband was
appreciated, my children healthy and good, my home delightful. Many
of the brilliant men and women assembled in Washington were known to
me more or less intimately, and everybody was kind to me. President
Buchanan early noticed and invited me. "The President," said Mr. Dudley
Mann, "admires your husband and wonders why you were not at the levee.
He has asked me to see that you come to the next one." I once ventured
to send him a Virginia ham, with directions for cooking it. It was to
be soaked overnight, gently boiled three or four hours, suffered to get
cold in its own juices, and then toasted. This would seem simple enough,
but the executive cook disdained it, perhaps for the reason that it was
so simple. The dish, a shapeless, jelly-like mass, was placed before
the President. He took his knife and fork in hand to honor the dish by
carving it himself, looked at it helplessly, and called out, "Take it
away! Take it away! Oh, Miss Harriet! You are a poor housekeeper! Not
even a Virginia lady can teach you."

The glass dishes of the épergne contained wonderful "French
kisses"—two-inch squares of crystallized sugar wrapped in silver paper,
and elaborately decorated with lace and artificial flowers. I was
very proud at one dinner when the President said to me, "Madam, I am
sending you a souvenir for your little daughter," and a waiter handed
me one of those gorgeous affairs. He had questioned me about my boys,
and I had told him of my daughter Gordon, eight years old, who lived
with her grandmother. "You must bring her to see Miss Harriet," he had
said—which, in due season, I did; an event, with its crowning glory of a
checked silk dress, white hat and feather, which she proudly remembers
to this day. Having been duly presented at court, the little lady
was much "in society," and accompanied me to many brilliant afternoon

She was a thoughtful listener to the talk in her father's library, and
once, when an old politician spoke sadly of a possible rupture of the
United States, surprised and delighted him by slipping her hand in his
and saying, "Never mind! _United_ will spell _Untied_ just as well"—a
little _mot_ which was remembered and repeated long afterward.

An interesting time was the arrival in Washington of the first Japanese
Embassy that visited this country. All Washington was crazy over the
event. I have told elsewhere of my own childish behavior upon that
occasion—when, not having much of a head to speak of, I lost the
little I had. Having already cared for the health of my soul by honest
confession, I need not repeat it here. I was nervous lest the Japanese
dignitaries should recognize me as the effusive lady who had met them
_en route_, but I carefully avoided wearing in their presence the bonnet
and gown they had seen, and if they remembered they gave no sign.

Washington lost _its_ head! There was something ridiculous in the way
it behaved. So many fêtes were given to the Japanese, so many dinners,
so many receptions, we were worn out attending them. "I don't know what
we have come here for," said one senator to another; "there's nothing
whatever done at the House." "_I_ know," his friend replied; "we came
here to wait on the Japanese at table."

At the end of one of the balls given them I had seated myself at the
door of an anteroom, while my husband was struggling for his carriage
in the street. Across the room Miss Lane, with her party, also waited.
A young man whom I had seen in society, but whose name I had not heard,
approached me, and commenced a harangue of tender sympathy for my
neglected position,—so young, so fair, so innocent! Oh, where, where
was the miscreant who should protect me? Why, why could I not have been
given to one who could have appreciated me—whose life and soul would
have been mine, and more in the same strain. I did not, in accordance
with stage proprieties, exclaim, "Unhand me, villain!" At first I
affected not to hear, but finally rose, crossed the room, and joined
Miss Lane. She had not heard, and I did not deem the incident, although
novel and most annoying, important enough for inquiry. I did not know
him, there was no need for investigation—no call for pistols and coffee.

A few days after I saw him again at the Baron de Limbourg's
garden-party. I had joined with Lord Lyons and the Prince de Joinville
in the toast to Miss Lane, pledged in the famous thousand-dollar-a-drop
"Rose" wine, and was again in the foyer waiting for my carriage when my
would-be champion again approached me. "Mrs. Pryor," he said in calm,
measured tones, "I am Lieutenant —. I feel perfectly sure you will grant
my request. Take my arm and go with me to speak to Miss Lane."

I instantly divined his intention. Walking up to Miss Harriet, he said
penitently: "Miss Lane, you witnessed my intrusion upon Mrs. Pryor the
other evening and her exquisite forbearance. In your presence I humbly
beg her pardon." He had, poor fellow, found General Cass's wines too
potent for him. He had "lost his head"—that was all. I knew somebody
whose head had been by no means a sure fixture without the excuse of
General Cass's fine wines. Dear Miss Lane, so thoroughly equipped for
her high position by her residence at the court of St. James, had only
kindness then and ever for the wife of the young Virginia congressman.
Years afterward, when both our heads were gray, we talked together of
these amusing little events in our Washington life.

Memory lingers upon the delightful friends who made my Washington life
beautiful: Miss Lane, Mrs. Douglas, Lady Napier, Mrs. Horace Clarke
(_née_ Vanderbilt), lovely Mrs. Cyrus H. M'Cormick, Mrs. Yulee, the
Ritchies, the Masons, Secretary Cass's family, Mrs. Canfield, Mrs.
Ledyard, and my prime favorite, Lizzie Ledyard. Ah! they were charming
and kind! Even after social lines were strictly drawn between North
and South, I had the good fortune to retain my Northern friends. All
this I love to remember and would enjoy writing all over again, were
it possible _twice_ to give time to social records. Nor can I pause
to do more than hint at the spirit of the Thirty-sixth Congress, the
struggles, vituperation, intemperate speech, honest efforts of the wise

The nomination of Lincoln and Hamlin on a purely sectional platform
aroused such excitement all over the land that the Senate and House
of Representatives gave themselves entirely to speeches on the state
of the country. Read at this late day, many of them appear to be the
high utterances of patriots, pleading with each other for forbearance.
Others exhausted the vocabulary of coarse vituperation. "Nigger thief,"
"slave-driver" were not uncommon words. Others still, although less
unrefined, were not less abusive. Newspapers no longer reported a speech
as calm, convincing, logical, or eloquent—these were tame expressions.
The terms now in use were: "a torrent of scathing denunciation,"
"withering sarcasm," "crushing invective," the orator's eyes the
while "blazing with scorn and indignation." Young members ignored the
salutation of old senators. Mr. Seward's smile after such a rebuff was
maddening! No opportunity for scornful allusion was lost. My husband was
probably the first congressman to wear "the gray," a suit of domestic
cloth having been presented to him by his constituents. Immediately
a Northern member said, in an address on the state of the country,
"Virginia, instead of clothing herself in sheep's wool, had better don
her appropriate garb of sackcloth and ashes." In pathetic contrast to
these scenes were the rosy, cherubic little pages, in white blouses
and cambric collars, who flitted to and fro, bearing, with smiling
faces, dynamic notes and messages from one representative to another.
They represented the future which these gentlemen were engaged in
wrecking—for many of these boys were sons of Southern widows, who even
now, under the most genial skies, led lives of anxiety and struggle.
Thoroughly alarmed, the women of Washington thronged the galleries
of the House and the Senate-chamber. From morning until the hour of
adjournment we would sit spellbound, as one after another drew the lurid
picture of disunion and war.

When my husband's time came to speak on "the state of the country," he
entreated for a pacific settlement of our controversy. "War," he urged,
"war means widows and orphans." The temper of the speech was all for
peace. He made a noble appeal to the North for concession. He prophesied
(the dreamer) that the South could never be subdued by resort to arms!
My Northern friends were prompt to congratulate me upon his speech
on "the state of the country," and to praise it with generous words
as "calm, free from vituperation, eloquent in pleading for peace and

The evening after this speech was delivered we were sitting in the
library, on the first floor of our home, when there was a ring at
the door-bell. The servants were in a distant part of the house, and
such was our excited state that I ran to the door and answered the
bell myself. It was snowing fast, a carriage stood at the door, and
out of it bundled a mass of shawls and woollen scarfs. On entering,
a man-servant commenced unwinding the bundle, which proved to be the
Secretary of State, General Cass! We knew not what to think. He was
seventy-seven years old. Every night at nine o'clock it was the custom
of his daughter, Mrs. Canfield, to wrap him in flannels and put him
to bed. What had brought him out at midnight? As soon as he entered,
before sitting down, he exclaimed: "Mr. Pryor, I have been hearing
about secession for a long time—and I would not listen. But now I am
frightened, sir, I am frightened! Your speech in the House to-day gives
me some hope. Mr. Pryor! I crossed the Ohio when I was sixteen years
old with but a pittance in my pocket, and this glorious Union has made
me what I am. I have risen from my bed, sir, to implore you to do what
you can to avert the disasters which threaten our country with ruin."

We had this solemn warning to report to our Southern friends who
assembled many an evening in our library: R. M. T. Hunter, Muscoe
Garnett, Porcher Miles, L. Q. C. Lamar, Boyce, Barksdale of Mississippi,
Keitt of South Carolina, with perhaps some visitors from the South. Then
Susan would light her fires and show us the kind of oysters that could
please her "own white folks," and James would bring in lemons and hot
water, with some choice brand of old Kentucky.

These were not convivial gatherings. These men held troubled
consultations on the state of the country,—the real meaning and intent
of the North, the half-trusted scheme of Judge Douglas to allow the
territories to settle for themselves the vexed question of slavery
within their borders, the right of peaceable secession. The dawn would
find them again and again with but one conclusion,—they would stand
together: "_Unum et commune periclum una salus!_"

But Holbein's spectre was already behind the door, and had marked his
men! In a few months the swift bullet for one enthusiast; for another
(the least considered of them all), a glorious death on the walls of
a hard-won rampart—he the first to raise his colors and the shout of
victory; for only one, or two, or three, that doubtful boon of existence
after the struggle was all over; for _all_ survivors, memories that
made the next four years seem to be the sum of life,—the only real
life,—beside which the coming years would be but a troubled dream.

The long session did not close until June, and in the preceding month
Abraham Lincoln was chosen candidate by the Republican party for the
presidency. Stephen A. Douglas was the candidate of the Democrats.
The South and the "Old Line Whigs" also named their men. The words
"irrepressible conflict" were much used during the ensuing campaign.

The authorship of these words has always been credited to Mr. Seward.
Their true origin may be found in the address of Mr. Lincoln, delivered
at Cincinnati, Ohio, in September, 1859. On page 262 of the volume
published by Follett, Foster, and Company in 1860, entitled "Political
Debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas," may
be found the following extract from Mr. Lincoln's speech:—

     "I have alluded in the beginning of these remarks to the fact
     that Judge Douglas has made great complaint of my having
     expressed the opinion that this government 'cannot endure
     permanently half slave and half free.' He has complained of
     Seward for using different language, and declaring that there
     is an 'irrepressible conflict' between the principles of free
     and slave labor. [_A voice_, "He says it is not original with
     Seward. That is original with Lincoln."] I will attend to that
     immediately, sir. Since that time Hickman of Pennsylvania
     expressed the same sentiment. He has never denounced Mr.
     Hickman; why? There is a little chance, notwithstanding that
     opinion in the mouth of Hickman, that he may yet be a Douglas
     man. That is the difference! It is not unpatriotic to hold
     that opinion, if a man is a Douglas man.

     "But neither I, nor Seward, nor Hickman is entitled to the
     enviable or unenviable distinction of having first expressed
     that idea. That same idea was expressed by the _Richmond
     Enquirer_ in Virginia, in 1856, quite two years before it was
     expressed by the first of us. And while Douglas was pluming
     himself that in his conflict with my humble self, last year,
     he had 'squelched out' that fatal heresy, as he delighted to
     call it, and had suggested that if he only had had a chance
     to be in New York and meet Seward he would have 'squelched' it
     there also, it never occurred to him to breathe a word against
     Pryor. I don't think that you can discover that Douglas ever
     talked of going to Virginia to 'squelch' out that idea there.
     No. More than that. That same Roger A. Pryor was brought to
     Washington City and made the editor of the _par excellence_
     Douglas paper, after making use of that expression, which in
     us is so unpatriotic and heretical."

On November 6, 1860, Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United
States. On the following December 20 we heard that South Carolina had
seceded from the Union. We were all, at the time the news arrived,
attending the wedding of Mr. Bouligny and Miss Parker. The ceremony
had taken place, and I was standing behind the President's chair when a
commotion in the hall arrested his attention. He looked at me over his
shoulder and asked if I supposed the house was on fire.

"I will inquire the cause, Mr. President," I said. I went out at the
nearest door, and there in the entrance hall I found Mr. Lawrence Keitt,
member from South Carolina, leaping in the air, shaking a paper over his
head, and exclaiming, "Thank God! Oh, thank God!" I took hold of him and
said: "Mr. Keitt, are you crazy? The President hears you, and wants to
know what's the matter."

"Oh!" he cried, "South Carolina has seceded! Here's the telegram. I feel
like a boy let out from school."

I returned, and bending over Mr. Buchanan's chair, said in a low voice:
"It appears, Mr. President, that South Carolina has seceded from the
Union. Mr. Keitt has a telegram." He looked at me, stunned for a moment.
Falling back and grasping the arms of his chair, he whispered, "Madam,
might I beg you to have my carriage called?" I met his secretary and
sent him in without explanation, and myself saw that his carriage was
at the door before I reëntered the room. I then found my husband, who
was already cornered with Mr. Keitt, and we called our own carriage
and drove to Judge Douglas's. There was no more thought of bride,
bridegroom, wedding-cake, or wedding breakfast.

This was the tremendous event which was to change all our lives,—to
give us poverty for riches, mutilation and wounds for strength and
health, obscurity and degradation for honor and distinction, exile and
loneliness for inherited homes and friends, pain and death for happiness
and life.

Apprehension was felt lest the new President's inaugural might be the
occasion of rioting, if not of violence. We Southerners were advised to
send women and children out of the city. Hastily packing my personal and
household belongings to be sent after me, I took my little boys, with
their faithful nurse, Eliza Page, on board the steamer to Acquia Creek,
and, standing on deck as long as I could see the dome of the Capitol,
commenced my journey homeward. My husband remained behind, and kept his
seat in Congress until Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. He described that
mournful day to me,—differing so widely from the happy installation of
Mr. Pierce; "o'er all there hung a shadow and a fear." Every one was
oppressed by it, and no one more than the doomed President himself.

We were reunited a few weeks afterward at our father's house in
Petersburg; and in a short time my young congressman had become my
young colonel—and congressman as well, for as soon as Virginia seceded
he was elected to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of
America, and was commissioned colonel by Governor Letcher.

We bade adieu to the bright days,—the balls (sometimes three in one
evening), the round of visits, the levees, the charming "at homes." The
setting sun of such a day should pillow itself on golden clouds, bright
harbingers of a morning of beauty and happiness. Alas, alas! "whom the
gods destroy they first infatuate."

The fate of Virginia was decided April 15, when President Lincoln
demanded troops for the subjugation of the seceding states of the South.
The temper of Governor Letcher of Virginia was precisely in accord with
the spirit that prompted the answer of Governor Magoffin of Kentucky
to a similar call for state militia, "Kentucky will furnish no troops
for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern states!" Until
this call of the President, Virginia had been extremely averse from
secession, and even though she deemed it within her rights to leave the
Union, she did not wish to pledge herself to join the Confederate States
of the South. Virginia was the Virginian's country. The common people
were wont to speak of her as "The Old Mother,"—"the mother of us all,"
a mother so honored and loved that her brood of children must be noble
and true.

Her sons had never forgotten her! She had fought nobly in the Revolution
and had afterward surrendered, for the common good, her magnificent
territory. Had she retained this vast dominion, she could now have
dictated to all the other states. She gave it up from a pure spirit of
patriotism,—that there might be the fraternity which could not exist
without equality,—and in surrendering it she had reserved for herself
the right to withdraw from the confederation whenever she should deem it
expedient for her own welfare. There were leading spirits who thought
the hour had come when she might demand her right. She was not on a
plane with the other states of the Union. "Virginia, New York, and
Massachusetts had expressly reserved the right to withdraw from the
Union, and explicitly disclaimed the right or power to bind the hands
of posterity by any form of government whatever."[5]

A strong party was the "Union Party," sternly resolved against
secession, willing to run the risks of fighting within the Union for
the rights of the state. This spirit was so strong that any hint of
secession had been met with angry defiance. A Presbyterian clergyman
had ventured, in his morning sermon, a hint that Virginia might need
her sons for defence, when a gray-haired elder left the church, and
turning at the door, shouted, "Traitor!" This was in Petersburg, near
the birthplace of General Winfield Scott.

And still another party was the enthusiastic secession party, resolved
upon resistance to coercion; the men who could believe nothing good of
the North, should interests of that section conflict with those of the
South; who cherished the bitterest resentments for all the sneers and
insults in Congress; who, like the others, adored their own state and
were ready and willing to die in her defence. Strange to say, this was
the predominating spirit all through the country, in rural districts as
well as in the small towns and the larger cities. It seemed to be born
all at once in every breast as soon as Lincoln demanded the soldiers.

When it was disclosed that a majority of the Virginia Convention opposed
taking the state out of the Union, the secessionists became greatly
alarmed; for they knew that without the border states, of which Virginia
was the leader, the cotton states would be speedily crushed. They were
positively certain, however, that in the event of actual hostilities
Virginia would unite with her Southern associates. Accordingly, it was
determined to bring a popular pressure to bear upon the government at
Montgomery to make an assault on Fort Sumter. To that end my husband
went to Charleston, and delivered to an immense and enthusiastic
audience a most impassioned and vehement speech, urging the Southern
troops to "strike a blow," and assuring them that in case of conflict,
Virginia would secede "within an hour by Shrewsbury clock." The blow
was struck; Mr. Lincoln called upon Virginia for a quota of troops to
subdue the rebellion, and the state immediately passed an ordinance of
secession. Here, in substance, is my husband's Charleston speech, as
reported at the time by the _New York Tribune_:—

     "Mr. Roger A. Pryor, called by South Carolina papers the
     'eloquent young tribune of the South,' was on Wednesday
     evening serenaded at Charleston. In response to the compliment
     he made some remarks, among which were the following:
     'Gentlemen, for my part, if Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal
     Hamlin were to abdicate their office to-morrow, and were
     to give to me a blank sheet of paper whereupon to write the
     conditions of reannexation to the Union, I would scorn the
     privilege of putting the terms upon paper. [_Cheers._] And
     why? Because our grievance has not been with reference to the
     insufficiency of the guarantees, but the unutterable perfidy
     of the guarantors; and inasmuch as they would not fulfil the
     stipulations of the old Constitution, much less will they
     carry out the guarantees of a better Constitution looking to
     the interests of the South. Therefore, I invoke you to give
     no countenance to any idea of reconstruction. [_A voice_, "We
     don't intend to do anything of the kind."] It is the fear of
     that which is embarrassing us in Virginia, for all there say
     if we are reduced to the dilemma of an alternative, they will
     espouse the cause of the South against the interests of the
     Northern Confederacy. If you have any ideas of reconstruction,
     I pray you annihilate them. Give forth to the world that
     under no circumstances whatever will South Carolina stay in
     political association with the Northern states. I understand
     since I have been in Charleston that there is some little
     apprehension of Virginia in this great exigency. Now I
     am not speaking for Virginia officially; I wish to God I
     were, for I would put her out of the Union before twelve
     o'clock to-night. [_Laughter._] But I bid you dismiss your
     apprehensions as to the old Mother of Presidents. Give the
     old lady time. [_Laughter._] She cannot move with the agility
     of some of the younger daughters. She is a little rheumatic.
     Remember she must be pardoned for deferring somewhat to
     the exigencies of opposition in the Pan Handle of Virginia.
     Remember the personnel of the convention to whom she intrusted
     her destinies. But making these reservations, I assure you
     that just so certain as to-morrow's sun will rise upon us,
     just so certain will Virginia be a member of the Southern
     Confederation. We will put her in _if you but strike a blow_.
     [_Cheers._] I do not say anything to produce an effect upon
     the military operations of your authorities, for I know no
     more about them than a spinster. I only repeat, if you wish
     Virginia to be with you, _strike a blow_!'"

The effect, however, of the speech was not merely the adoption of the
ordinance of secession by Virginia. In precipitating the assault upon
Sumter the speech had another and now little known consequence.

It must be borne in mind that when only South Carolina had seceded, the
Republican party, with the assent of the President-elect, had proffered
to the South a compromise in these terms: "The Constitution shall
never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere
with slavery in the states."[6] Of course, no Southern state would
oppose a proposition which for the first time made slavery _eo nomine_
an institution under federal protection, and guaranteed it perpetual
existence in the slave-holding states. Equally evident was it that
a measure supported by Lincoln and the entire Republican party would
prevail in every Northern state. The mere pendency, then, of such an
overture, if not intercepted in its passage by an act of hostility
between the seceded states and the federal government, would have
certainly bound the border states to the Union, and have insured the
miscarriage of the secession movement.

Had not the attack on Sumter been made at the critical moment, the
Republican compromise, as already intimated, would have prevailed,
and slavery have been imbedded in the Constitution and fastened upon
the country beyond the chance of removal,—except by revolution, or the
voluntary renunciation of its cherished interests by the slave-holding
South. The latter alternative is an inconceivable possibility; and
hence, but for the "blow" which prompted hostilities and prevented a
pacific solution, slavery would exist to-day as a recognized institution
of the republic.

I do not pretend that this consummation was desired or anticipated by
the Virginia secessionist, but affirm only that he "builded better than
he knew," and that but for his act the nation would not now be free from
the reproach of human slavery.


The "overt act," for which everybody looked, had been really the
reënforcement by federal troops of the fort in Charleston harbor. When
Fort Sumter was reduced by Beauregard, "the fight was on." My husband,
with other gentlemen, was deputed by General Beauregard to demand the
surrender of the fort, and in case of refusal which he foresaw, to
direct the commandant of the battery, Johnson, to open fire. When the
order was delivered to the commandant, he invited my husband to fire the
first shot; but this honor my husband declined, and instead suggested
the venerable Edmund Ruffin, an intense secessionist, for that service.
It was the prevalent impression at the time that Mr. Ruffin did "fire
the first gun"; at all events he fired, to him, the last; for on hearing
of Lee's surrender, Cato-like, he destroyed himself.

Fort Sumter was reduced on April 12, and Virginia was in a wild state
of excitement and confusion. On May 23 Virginia ratified an ordinance
of secession, and on the early morning of May 24 the federal soldiers,
under the Virginian, General Winfield Scott, crossed the Potomac River
and occupied Arlington Heights and the city of Alexandria. "The invasion
of Virginia, the pollution of her sacred soil," as it was termed, called
forth a vigorous proclamation from her governor and a cry of rage from
her press. General Beauregard issued a fierce proclamation, tending
to fire the hearts of the Virginians with indignation. "A reckless and
unprincipled host," he declared, "has invaded your soil," etc. Virginia
needed no such stimulus. The First, Second, and Third Virginia were
immediately mustered into service, and my husband was colonel of the
Third Virginia Infantry. He was ordered to Norfolk with his regiment to
protect the seaboard. I was proud of his colonelship, and much exercised
because he had no shoulder-straps. I undertook to embroider them myself.
We had not then decided upon the star for our colonels' insignia, and I
supposed he would wear the eagle like all the colonels I had ever known.
No embroidery bullion was to be had, but I bought heavy bullion fringe,
cut it in lengths, and made eagles, probably of some extinct species,
for the like were unknown in Audubon's time, and have not since been
discovered. However, they were accepted, admired, and, what is worse,

My resolution was taken. I steadily withstood all the entreaties of my
friends, and determined to follow my husband's regiment through the war.
I did not ask his permission. I would give no trouble. I should be only
a help to his sick men and his wounded. I busied myself in preparing a
camp equipage—a field stove with a rotary chimney, ticks for bedding,
to be filled with straw or hay or leaves, as the case might be, and a
camp chest of tin utensils, strong blankets, etc. A tent could always
be had from Major Shepard, our quartermaster. News soon came that the
Third Virginia had been ordered to Smithfield. McClellan was looking
toward the peninsula, and Major-general Joseph E. Johnston was keeping
an eye on McClellan.

When I set forth on what my father termed my "wild-goose chase," I found
the country literally alive with troops. The train on which I travelled
was switched off again and again to allow them to pass. My little boys
had the time of their lives, cheering the soldiers and picnicking at
short intervals all day. But I had hardly reached Smithfield before
the good people of the town forcibly took my camp equipage from me,
stored it, and installed me in great comfort in a private house. My
colonel soon left me to take his seat in the Confederate Congress
along with Hon. William C. Rives and others of our old friends. I was
left alone at Smithfield, not _la fille du régiment_, but _la mère_! I
heard daily from all the sick men in winter quarters, and ministered to
them according to my ability. The camp fascinated me. Picturesque huts
were built of pine with the bark on, and in clearings here and there
brilliant fires of the resinous wood were constantly burning. I knew
many of the officers, and from them soon learned that the deadly foe at
home was more to be dreaded than the foe in front. Smithfield was noted
for its Virginia hams, its fine fish, its mullets that would leap into
the fisherman's boat while he lazily enjoyed his brier-root, its great
sugary "yams," as the red sweet-potato was called. It was noted as well
for the excellence of its brandy.

My colonel issued stern orders that no intoxicating liquors were to
be sold to his soldiers. Every man who went on leave to the town was
inspected on his return. But drunken men gave trouble in the camp,
and it was discovered that brandy was smuggled in the barrels of the
muskets, and in yams, hollowed out and innocently reposing at the bottom
of baskets.

Thereupon one morning Smithfield was in an uproar, negroes screaming and
running about with pails to be filled, tipsy pigs staggering along the
streets. A squad of soldiers had been ordered out from camp, had entered
every store, and emptied the contents of every cask into the gutters. A
drunken brawl had occurred in camp, and one soldier had killed another!

The soldier was arrested and imprisoned. Later the prisoner was tried
and acquitted,—his own colonel argued in his defence,—and completely
sobered, he made a good soldier. The prompt act of the commanding
officer was salutary. There was no more trouble—no more muskets loaded
with inflammable stuff, no more yams flavored with brandy.

When the colonel was attending the session of Congress, Theo, not
yet ten years old, was often mounted on a barrel, in his little linen
blouse, to drill the Third Virginia! He had studied military tactics,
Hardee and Jomini, with his father. Lying before me as I write is his
own copy of Jomini's "L'Art de la Guerre," in which he proudly wrote his
name. An event of personal interest was the presentation to the colonel
of a blue silken flag, made by the ladies of Petersburg. The party came
down the river in a steamboat, and I have before my reminiscent eyes
an interesting picture of my colonel, as he stood with his long hair
waving in a stiff breeze, listening to the brave things the dear women's
spokesman said of their devotion to him and to their country. This flag
is somewhere, to-day, in that country, but not in the home of the man
who had earned and owned it. It is of heavy blue silk; on one side the
arms of the state of Virginia, on the other Justice with the scales. In
the upper left-hand corner is the word "Williamsburg," room being left
for the many other battles in store for the young colonel.

Things were going on beautifully with us when I one day received a
peremptory official order to change my base—to leave Smithfield next
morning before daybreak! The orderly who brought it to me looked
intensely surprised when I calmly said: "Tell the colonel it is
impossible! I can't get ready by to-morrow to leave."

"Madam," said the man, gravely, "it is none of my business, but
when Colonel Pryor gives an order, it is wise to be a strict

My colonel had returned suddenly; when I, in an open wagon, was on
my way next morning at sunrise to the nearest depot, he and his men
were _en route_ to the peninsula. They gave McClellan battle May 5
at Williamsburg,—"Pryor and Anderson in front,"—captured four hundred
unwounded prisoners, ten colors, and twelve field-pieces, slept on the
field of battle, and marched off next morning at their convenience.
My colonel personally ministered to the wounded prisoners, and General
McClellan recognizes this service in his "own story." After this he was
promoted, and my bristling eagles retired before the risen stars of the

The news of his probable promotion reached me at the Exchange Hotel in
Richmond, whither I had gone that I might be near headquarters and thus
learn the earliest tidings from the peninsula. There he joined me for
one day. We read with keen interest the announcement in the papers that
his name had been sent in by the President for promotion. Mrs. Davis
held a reception at the Spotswood Hotel on the evening following this
announcement, and we availed ourselves of the opportunity to make our
respects to her.

A crowd gathered before the Exchange to congratulate my husband, and
learning that he had gone to the Spotswood, repaired thither, and
with shouts and cheers called him out for a speech. This was very
embarrassing, and he fled to a corner of the drawing-room and hid
behind a screen of plants. I was standing near the President, trying to
hold his attention by remarks on the weather and kindred subjects of
a thrilling nature, when a voice from the street called out: "Pryor!
_General_ Pryor!" I could endure the suspense no longer, and asked
tremblingly, "Is this true, Mr. President?" Mr. Davis looked at me with
a benevolent smile and said, "I have no reason, madam, to doubt it,
except that I saw it this morning in the papers;" and Mrs. Davis at once
summoned the bashful colonel: "What are you doing lying there _perdu_
behind the geraniums? Come out and take your honors."

Following fast upon the battle after which General Johnston ordered
"Williamsburg" to be painted on his banner, my general fought the battle
of "Fair Oaks" or "Seven Pines"—and in June the Seven Days' battle
around Richmond. The story of these desperate battles has been told
many times by the generals who fought them. "Pryor's Brigade" was in the
front often; in the thick of the fight always. I myself saw my husband
draw his sword, and give the word of command "Head of column to the
right" as he entered the first of these battles.

I spent the time nursing the wounded in Kent and Paine's Hospital in
Richmond, and have told elsewhere the pathetic story of my experience as
hospital nurse. For the needs of that stern hour my dear general gave
himself—and his wife gave herself. Every linen garment I possessed,
except one change, every garment of cotton fabric, all my table-linen,
all my bed-linen, even the chintz covers for furniture,—all were torn
into strips and rolled for bandages for the soldiers' wounds.

When the fight was over, a gray, haggard, dust-covered soldier entered
my room, and throwing himself upon the couch, gave way to the anguish
of his heart—"My men! My men! They are almost all dead!"

Thousands of Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded. Richmond was
saved! "I am in hopes," wrote General McClellan to his Secretary of War,
"the enemy is as completely worn out as I am."

He was! General Lee realized that his men must have rest. My husband
was allowed a few days' respite from duty. Almost without a pause he
had fought the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Mechanicsville,
Gaines's Mill, Frazier's Farm, and Malvern Hill. He had won his
promotion early, but he had lost the soldiers he had led, the loved
commander who appreciated him, had seen old schoolmates and friends fall
by his side,—the dear fellow, George Loyal Gordon, who had been his best
man at our wedding,—old college comrades, valued old neighbors.

Opposed to him in battle, then and after, were men who in after years
avowed themselves his warm friends,—General Hancock, General Slocum,
General Butterfield, General Sickles, General Fitz-John Porter, General
McClellan, and General Grant. They had fought loyally under opposing
banners, and from time to time, as the war went on, one and another
had been defeated; but over all, and through all, their allegiance had
been given to a banner that has never surrendered,—the standard of the
universal brotherhood of all true men.

I cannot omit a passing tribute to the heroic fortitude and devotion of
the Richmond women in the time of their greatest trial. These were the
delicate, beautiful women I had so admired when I lived among them. Not
once did they spare themselves, or complain, or evince weakness, or give
way to despair. The city had "no language but a cry." Two processions
unceasingly passed along the streets; one the wounded borne from the
battlefield; the other the cheering men going to take their places at
the front. Within the hospitals all that devotion could suggest, of
unselfish service, gentle ministration, encouragement, was done by the
dear women. Every house was open for the sick and wounded. Oh, but I
cannot again tell it all! Sacredly, tenderly I remember, but to-day it
seems so cruel, so unnecessary, so wicked! I cannot dwell upon it!

One beautiful memory is of the unfailing kindness and loyalty of
the negroes. In the hospitals, in the camps, in our own houses, they
faithfully sympathized with us and helped us. Not only at this time,
but all during the war, they behaved admirably. The most intense
secessionist I ever knew was my general's man, John. Early in the
day the black man elected for himself an attitude of quiescence
as to politics, and addressed himself to the present need for

It was "Domingo," one of the cooks of our brigade at Williamsburg, that
originated the humorous description of a negro's self-appraisement and
sensations in battle, so unblushingly quoted afterward by a certain
"Cæsar" in northern Virginia. A shell had entered the domain of pots and
kettles, and created what Domingo termed a "clatteration." He at once
started for the rear.

"What's de matter, Mingo?" asked a fellow-servant, "whar you gwine wid
such a hurrification?"

"I gwine to git out o' trouble—_dar_ whar I gwine! Dar's too much
powder in dem big things. Dis chile ain't gwine bu'n hisself! An'
dar's dem Minnie bullets, too, comin' frew de a'r, singin': '_Whar_ is
you? _Whar_ is you?' I ain't gwine stop an' tell 'em whar I is! I'se
a twenty-two-hundurd-dollar nigger, an' I'se gwine tek keer o' what
b'longs to marster, I is!"

A story was related by a Northern writer of an interview with a negro
who had run the blockade and entered the service of a Federal officer.
He was met on board a steamer, after the battle of Fort Donelson, on
his way to the rear, and questioned in regard to his experience of war.

"Were you in the fight?"

"Had a little taste of it, sah."

"Stood your ground, of course."

"No, sah! I run."

"Not at the first fire?"

"Yes, sah! an' would a' run sooner ef I knowed it was a-comin'!"

"Why, that wasn't very creditable to your courage, was it?"

"Dat ain't in my line, sah,—cookin's my perfeshun."

"But have you no regard for your reputation?"

"Refutation's nothin' by de side o' life."

"But you don't consider your life worth more than other people's, do

"Hit's wuth mo' to me, sah!"

"Then you must value it very highly."

"Yas, sah, I does,—mo'n all dis wuld! Mo' dan a million o' dollars,
sah. What would dat be wuth to a man wid de bref out o' 'im?
Self-perserbashun is de fust law wid me, sah!"

"But why should you act upon a different rule from other men?"

"'Cause diffunt man set diffunt value 'pon his life. Mine ain't in de

"Well, if all soldiers were like you, traitors might have broken up the
government without resistance."

"Dat's so! Dar wouldn't 'a' been no hep fer it. But I don't put my life
in de scale against no gubberment on dis yearth. No gubberment gwine
pay me ef I loss mehsef."

"Well, do you think you would have been much missed if you had been

"Maybe not, sah! A daid white man ain' much use to dese yere sogers,
let alone a daid niggah; but I'd a missed mehsef pow'ful, an' dat's de
pint wid me."


On the 13th of August, 1862, McClellan abandoned his camp at Harrison's
Landing and retired to Fortress Monroe. General Lee withdrew all his
troops from Richmond but two companies of infantry left behind to
protect the city in case of cavalry raids. General Jackson joined
General Lee, and the battle known as the second Manassas was fought.
Wilcox, Pryor, and Featherstone were again to the front, and at one
time when the desperate struggle of this hard-fought battle was at its
height, and the situation augured adversely to the Southern troops, it
was General Pryor's privilege to suggest that several batteries should
be rushed to an advantageous position and a raking fire be opened upon
the enemy's flank which nothing could withstand. Within fifteen minutes
the aspect of the field was changed. On the plateau occupied by the
Federals stood the Henry house, celebrated in all history as the spot
where Jackson's Brigade, "standing like a stone wall," had, a year
before, earned the name for their commander which has become immortal.

I think it was early in September, 1862, that General Lee announced
to President Davis that he proposed entering Maryland with his army.
Before he could receive an answer the Southerners were crossing the
Potomac singing "Maryland, my Maryland," and in a few days Jackson
reached Frederick. "My Maryland" was earnestly invited and positively
declined to rid her "shores" of "the despot's heel." The despot's hand
could pay in good greenbacks for her wheat and flour and cattle, while
these new fellows had only Confederate money. The governor and leading
professional men were all loyal to the Union. The farmers drove their
herds into Pennsylvania, and in the mills the sound of the grinding was
not low—it ceased altogether. The Confederates might defeat Pope and
McClellan in the battle-field; the farmer proved himself master of the
situation in the wheat-field.

My general was in Frederick with his brigade, and incidentally saw
and heard nothing of the touching occurrence commemorated by Whittier.
The Quaker poet was a romancer! I use no harsher term. I am perfectly
willing Barbara Frietchie's "old gray head" should forever wear the
crown he placed upon it, but I cannot brook "the blush of shame" over
Stonewall Jackson's face. Blush he often did,—for he was as delicate as
a woman,—but blush for shame, never! Rhodes says: "His riding through
the streets gave an occasion to forge the story of Barbara Frietchie.
It is a token of the intense emotion which clouds our judgment of the
enemy in arms. Although Stonewall Jackson, not long before, was eager
to raise the black flag, he was incapable of giving the order to fire
at the window of a private house for the sole reason that there 'the
old flag met his sight,' and it is equally impossible that a remark of
old Dame Barbara, 'Spare your country's flag,' could have brought 'a
blush of shame' to his cheek. Jackson was not of the cavalier order,
but he had a religious and chivalrous respect for women." He goes on
to state that a woman, not Barbara Frietchie, waved a flag as Jackson
passed to which he paid no attention. Also, that when he had passed
through Middletown, two pretty girls had waved Union flags in his face.
"He bowed and raised his hat, and turning with his quiet smile to his
staff, said: 'We evidently have no friends in this town.'"

On September 15 the battle-line, with my husband's division
(Longstreet's), was drawn up in front of Sharpsburg (or Antietam), and
again Pryor, Wilcox, and Featherstone were well to the front. My husband
commanded Anderson's division at Antietam, General Anderson having been
wounded. This battle is quoted, along with the battle of Seven Pines,
as one of the most hotly contested of the war. Sorely pressed at one
time, General Pryor despatched an orderly to General Longstreet with a
request for artillery. The latter tore the margin from a newspaper and
wrote: "I am sending you the guns, dear General. This is a hard fight,
and we had better all die than lose it." At one time during the battle
the combatants agreed upon a brief cessation, that the dead and wounded
of both sides might be removed. While General Pryor waited, a Federal
officer approached him.

"General," said he, "I have just detected one of my men in robbing the
body of one of your soldiers. I have taken his booty from him, and now
consign it to you."

Without examining the small bundle—tied in a handkerchief—my husband
ordered it to be properly enclosed and sent to me. The handkerchief
contained a gold watch, a pair of gold sleeve-links, a few pieces of
silver, and a strip of paper on which was written, "Strike till the last
armed foe expires," and signed "A Florida Patriot." There seemed to be
no clew by which I might hope to find an inheritor for these treasures.
I could only take care of them.

I brought them forth one day to interest an aged relative, whose chair
was placed in a sunny window. "I think, my dear," she said, "there
are pin-scratched letters on the inside of these sleeve-buttons." Sure
enough, there were three initials, rudely made, but perfectly plain.

Long afterward I met a Confederate officer from Florida who had fought
at Antietam.

"Did you know any one from your state, Captain, who was killed at

"Alas! yes," he replied, and mentioned a name corresponding exactly with
the scratched initials.

The parcel, with a letter from me, was sent to an address he gave me,
and in due time I received a most touching letter of thanks from the
mother of the dead soldier.

In August I had left my Gordon, Theo, and Mary with my dear aunt, who
had been compelled to abandon her mountain home and now lived near "The
Oaks" in Charlotte County. There was no safety any longer except in
the interior, far from the railroads. Even there raiding companies of
cavalry dashed through the country bringing terror and leaving a desert
as far as food was concerned.

For myself, as I could not go northward with my soldiers, I could at
least keep within the lines of communication, and I selected a little
summer resort, "Coyners," in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the line of
the railroad. There I found General Elzey,—who had fought gallantly at
Bull Run and elsewhere,—with his face terribly wounded and bandaged up
to his eyes. He had been sent to the rear with a physician for rest and
recovery. His brilliant wife was with him; also his aid, Captain Contee,
and his young bride, who had crossed the Potomac in an open boat to join
him and redeem her pledge to marry him. We were joined by Mrs. A. P.
Hill, General and Mrs. Wigfall and a lovely daughter who has recently
given to the world an interesting story of her war recollections. The
small hotel spanned a little green valley at its head, and stretching
behind was a velvet strip of green, a spring and rivulet in the midst,
and a mountain ridge on either side. I had a tiny cottage with windows
that opened against the side of the hill (or mountain), and lying on my
bed at night, the moon and stars, as they rose above me, seemed so near
I could have stretched a long arm and picked them off the hill-top!

Strenuous as were the times, awful the suspense, the vexed questions
of precedence, relative importance, rankled in the bosoms of the
distinguished ladies in the hotel. One after another would come out
to me: "I'd like to know _who_ this Maryland woman is that she gives
herself such airs;" or, "How much longer do you think I'll stand Dolly
Morgan? Why, she treats me as though she were the Queen of Sheba." I
could only reply with becoming meekness: "I'm sure I don't know! I am
only a brigadier, you know—the rest of you are major-generals—I am not
competent to judge."

Nature had done everything for our happiness. The climate was delicious;
the valley was carpeted with moss and tender grass, and thickly gemmed
with daisies and purple asters. Before sunrise the skies, like all
morning skies seen between high hills, looked as if made of roses. A
short climb would bring us to a spot where the evening sky and mountain
would be bathed in golden glory. But oh, the anguish of anxiety, the
terror, the dreams at night of battle and murder and sudden death!

My little Roger was desperately ill at this place, and for many days
I despaired of his life. General Elzey's physician gave me no hope.
He counselled only fortitude and resignation. The dear friend of my
girlhood, George Wythe Randolph, was Secretary of War. I wrote him
a letter imploring, "Send my husband to me, if but for one hour." He
answered, "God knows I long to help and comfort you! but you ask the
_impossible_." I soon knew why. My general was at the front!

Not until late—long after every guest had departed—was I able to travel
with my invalid son. Upon arriving in Charlottesville, he had a relapse
of typhoid fever and was ill unto death for many weeks. Meanwhile his
father was ordered to the vicinity of Suffolk to collect forage and
provisions from counties near the Federal lines.

The enemy destined to conquer us at last—the "ravenous, hunger-starved
wolf"—already menaced us. General Longstreet had learned that corn and
bacon were stored in the northeastern counties of North Carolina, and
he sent two companies of cavalry on a foraging expedition to the region
around Suffolk.

"The Confederate lines," says a historian, "extended only to the
Blackwater River on the east, where a body of Confederate troops was
stationed to keep the enemy in check." That body was commanded by
General Pryor, now in front of a large Federal force to keep it in check
while the wagon trains sent off corn and bacon for Lee's army. This
was accomplished by sleepless vigilance on the part of the Confederate
general. The Federal forces made frequent sallies from Suffolk, but were
always driven back with loss. It is amusing to read of the calmness with
which his commanding officers ordered him to accomplish great things
with his small force.

"I cannot," says General Colston, "forward your requisition for two
regiments of infantry and one of cavalry: it is almost useless to
make such requisitions, for they remain unanswered. You must use every
possible means to deceive the enemy as to your strength, and you must
_hold the line of the Blackwater to the last extremity_."

General French writes: "If I had any way to increase your forces, I
should do so, but I have to bow to higher authority and the necessities
of the service. But you must annoy the villains all you can, and make
them uncomfortable. Give them no rest. Ambush them at every turn."

General Pryor did not dream I would come to his camp at Blackwater.
He supposed I would find quarters among my friends, but I had now no
home. Our venerable father had sent his family to the interior after
the battles around Richmond, had given up his church in Petersburg, and,
commending the women, old men, and children to the care of a successor,
had entered the army as chaplain, "where," as he said, "I can follow my
own church members and comfort them in sickness, if I can do no more."

As soon as the position of our brigade was made known to me, I drew
forth the box containing the camp outfit, packed a trunk or two, and
took the cars for the Blackwater. The terminus of the railroad was only
a few miles from our camp. The Confederate train could go no farther
because of the enemy. The day's journey was long, for the passenger car
attached to the transportation train was dependent upon the movements
of the latter. The few passengers who had set forth with me in the
morning had left at various wayside stations, and I was now alone. I
had no idea where we should sleep that night. I thought I would manage
it somehow—somewhere.

We arrived at twilight at the end of our journey. When I left the car,
my little boys gathered around me. There was a small wooden building
near, which served for waiting-room and post-office. The only dwelling
in sight was another small house, surrounded by a few bare trees. My
first impression was that I had never before seen such an expanse of
gray sky. The face of the earth was a dead, bare level, as far as the
eye could reach; and much, very much, of it lay under water. I was in
the region of swamps, stretching on and on until they culminated in the
one great "Dismal Swamp" of the country. No sounds were to be heard,
no hum of industry or lowing of cattle, but a mighty concert rose from
thousands, nay millions, of frogs.

"Now," thought I, "here is really a fine opportunity to be 'jolly'! Mark
Tapley's swamps couldn't surpass these." But all the railroad folk were
departing, and the postmaster was preparing to lock his door and leave
also. I liked the looks of the little man, and ventured:—

"Can you tell me, sir, where I can get lodging to-night? I am Mrs.
Pryor—the general's wife, and to-morrow he will take care of me."

My little man did not belie his looks. He took me in his own house, and
next day my general, at his invitation, made the house his headquarters.

My stay on the Blackwater was most interesting, but I cannot repeat
the story here. Suffice it to say that our safety so near the enemy's
lines—he was just across the Blackwater—was purchased by eternal

Towards the last of January we had a season of warm, humid weather.
Apparently the winter was over; the grass was springing on the swamp,
green and luxurious, and the willows swelling into bud. There were no
singing birds on the Blackwater as early as January 28, but the frogs
were mightily exercised upon the coming of spring, and their nightly
concerts took on a jubilant note.

One day I had a few moments' conversation with my husband about army
affairs, and he remarked that our Southern soldiers were always restless
unless they were in action. "They never can stand still in battle," he
said; "they are willing to yell and charge the most desperate positions,
but if they can't move forward, they must move backward. Stand still
they cannot."

I thought I could perceive symptoms of restlessness on the part of their
commander. Often in the middle of the night he would summon John, mount
him, and send him to camp, a short distance away; and presently I would
hear the tramp, tramp of the general's staff-officers, coming to hold
a council of war in his bedroom. On the 28th of January he confided to
me that on the next day he would make a sally in the direction of the
enemy. "He is getting entirely too impudent," said he; "I'm not strong
enough to drive him out of the country, but he must keep his place."

I had just received a present of coffee. This was at once roasted and
ground. On the day of the march fires were kindled before dawn under the
great pots used at the "hog-killing time" (an era in the household), and
many gallons of coffee were prepared. This was sweetened, and when our
men paused near the house to form the line of march, the servants and
little boys passed down the line with buckets of the steaming coffee,
cups, dippers, and gourds. Every soldier had a good draught of comfort
and cheer. The weather had suddenly changed. The great snow-storm that
fell in a few days was gathering, the skies were lowering, and the
horizon was dark and threatening.

After the men had marched away, I drove to the hospital tent and
put myself at the disposal of the surgeon. We inspected the store of
bandages and lint, and I was intrusted with the preparation of more.

Meanwhile John, who was left behind, indemnified himself for the loss
of the excitement of the hour by abusing "the nasty abolition Yankees,"

     "Jeff Davis is a gent'man,
     An' Linkum is a fool!
     Jeff Davis rides a fine white horse,
     An' Linkum rides a mule," etc.

He was not the only one of the nation's wards who held the nation in
contempt—root and branch, President and people. The special terms in
which he loved to designate them were in common use among his own race.
Some of the expressions of the great men I had known in Washington were
quite as offensive and not a bit less inelegant, although framed in
better English. I never approved of "calling names," for higher reasons
than the demands of good taste. I had seen what comes of it, and I
reproved John for teaching them to my little boys.

"No'm," said John, crestfallen, "I won't say nothin'; I'll just say the
Yankees are mighty mean folks."

My dear general found the enemy at the "Deserted House"; and there gave
them battle. He may tell his own story:—

                      "CARRSVILLE, ISLE OF WIGHT, January 30, 1863.

         "PETERSBURG, VA.

     "_General_: This morning at four o'clock the enemy under
     Major-general Peck attacked me at Kelley's store, eight
     miles from Suffolk. After three hours' severe fighting we
     repulsed them at all points and held the field. Their force
     is represented by prisoners to be between ten and fifteen
     thousand. My loss in killed and wounded will not exceed
     fifty—no prisoners. I regret that Colonel Poage is among the
     killed. We inflicted a heavy loss on the enemy.

                                                    "ROGER A. PRYOR,
                                     "Brigadier-general Commanding."

On February 2 the general thus addressed his troops:—

     "The brigadier-general congratulates the troops of this
     command on the results of the recent combat.

     "The enemy endeavored under cover of night to steal an
     inglorious victory by surprise, but he found us prepared at
     every point, and despite his superior numbers, greater than
     your own in the proportion of five to one, he was signally
     repulsed and compelled to leave us in possession of the field.

     "After silencing his guns and dispersing his infantry, you
     remained on the field from night until one o'clock, awaiting
     the renewal of the attack, but he did not again venture to
     encounter your terrible fire.

     "When the disparity of force between the parties is
     considered, with the proximity of the enemy to his stronghold,
     and his facilities of reënforcements by railway, the result
     of the action of the 30th will be accepted as a splendid
     illustration of your courage and good conduct."

One of the "enemy's" papers declared that our force was "three regiments
of infantry, fourteen pieces of artillery, and about nine hundred

The temptation to "lie under a mistake" was great in those days of
possible disaffection, when soldiers had to believe in their cause in
order to defend it. One of the newspaper correspondents of the enemy
explained why we were not again attacked after the first fight. He
said: "Some may inquire why we did not march forthwith to Carrsville and
attack the rebels again. The reasons are obvious. Had he went [_sic_] to
Carrsville, Pryor would have had the advantage to cut off our retreat.
The natives know every by-path and blind road through the woods and are
ever ready to help the rebels to our detriment. Pryor can always cross
the Blackwater on his floating bridge. It is prudent to allow an enemy
to get well away from his stronghold the better to capture his guns and
destroy his ammunition," etc.

Another paper declares he was heavily reënforced at Carrsville.

Another records: "The rebels have been very bold in this neighborhood.
Pryor has been in the habit of crossing the Blackwater River whenever
he wanted to. Our attacking him this time must have been a real surprise
to him. We took a large number of prisoners!"

He continued the indulgence of this habit until spring, receiving from
his countrymen unstinted praise for his protection of that part of our
state, and for the generous supplies he sent all winter to Lee's army.


As for myself, when my general was no longer needed on the Blackwater,
the camp chest and I and the little boys took the road again. We
wandered from place to place, and at last were taken as boarders,
invited by a farmer, evidently without the consent of his wife. There
I was, of all women made most miserable. The mistress of the house
had not wanted "refugees." Everything combined to my discomfort and
wretchedness, and my dear general, making me a flying visit from
Richmond where he was detained on duty, counselled me to go still
farther into the interior to an old watering place, the "Amelia Springs"
kept by a dear Virginia woman, Mrs. Winn. I had no sooner arrived and
been welcomed by a number of refugee women, and a host of children
when my three little boys developed whooping-cough, and were strictly
quarantined in a cottage at the extreme edge of the grounds. The little
hotel and cottages were filled with agreeable women, but everything
was so sad, there was no heart in any one for gayety of any kind. One
evening the proprietor proposed that the ballroom be lighted and a
solitary fiddler, "Bozeman,"—who was also the barber,—be installed in
the musician's seat and show us what he could do. Young feet cannot
resist a good waltz or polka, and the floor was soon filled with
care-forgetting maidens—there were no men except the proprietor and the
fiddler. Presently a telegram was received by the former. We huddled
together under the chandelier to read it. Vicksburg had fallen! The
gallant General Pemberton had been starved into submission. Surely and
swiftly the coil was tightening around us. Surely and swiftly would we,
too, be starved into submission.

My general was in Richmond serving on a court-martial, when the news
from Gettysburg reached the city. Every house was in mourning, every
heart broken. He called upon President and Mrs. Davis, and was told
that the President could receive no one, but that Mrs. Davis would be
glad to see him. The weather was intensely hot, and he felt he must not
inflict a long visit; but when he rose to leave, Mrs. Davis, who seemed
unwilling to be left alone, begged him to remain. After a few minutes
the President appeared, weary, silent, and depressed. Presently a dear
little boy entered in his night-robe, and kneeling beside his father's
knee, repeated his evening prayer of thankfulness and of supplication
for God's blessing on the country. The President laid his hand on the
boy's head and fervently responded, "Amen." The scene recurred vividly,
in the light of future events, to my husband's memory. With the coming
day came the news of the surrender of Vicksburg,—news of which Mr. Davis
had been forewarned the evening before,—and already the Angel of Death
was hovering near to enfold the beautiful boy and bear him away from a
world of trouble.

The long, sultry nights were spent by me in nursing my little boys
through their distressing whooping-cough paroxysms. I was sleeping
after a wakeful night, when I heard, as in a dream, my dear general's
voice. I opened my heavy eyes to see him seated beside me. He earnestly
entreated me to bear with patience the news he brought me—first that
he must return in an hour to catch a train back to Richmond, and then
that he had resigned his commission as brigadier-general and was _en
route_ to join General Fitz Lee's cavalry as a private. I have told
the story of the events which culminated in this unprecedented act of
a brigadier-general, and I fear I have not time or space to repeat
it here. Briefly, Congress having recommended that regiments should
be enlisted under officers from their own states,—in order to remedy,
if possible, the disinclination to reënlist for the war,—there was a
general upheaval and change throughout the entire army during the autumn
of 1862. The Second, Fifth, and Eighth Florida regiments of General
Pryor's Brigade were assigned to a Florida brigadier, the Fourteenth
Alabama and the Fifth North Carolina to officers from their respective
states. He was, in consequence of this order of Congress, left without
a brigade. He was positively assured of a permanent command. "I
regretted," wrote General Lee, November 25, 1862, "at the time, the
breaking up of your brigade, but you are aware that the circumstances
which produced it were beyond my control. I hope it will not be long
before you will be again in the field, that the country may derive the
benefit of your zeal and activity." He had a right to expect reward
for his splendid service on the Blackwater. He had never ceased all
winter to remind the Secretary of War of his promise to give him a
permanent command. He felt that he had earned it. He had fought many
battles,—Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mill,
Frazier's Farm, the second Manassas, and Sharpsburg, besides the fight
at the Deserted House on the Blackwater.

He now wrote, April 6, 1863, an almost passionate appeal to the
President himself, imploring that he be sent into active service, and
not be "denied participation in the struggles that are soon to determine
the destinies of my country. If I know myself," he added, "it is not the
vanity of command that moves me to this appeal. A single and sincere
wish to contribute somewhat to the success of our cause impels me to
entreat that I may be assigned to duty. That my position is not the
consequence of any default of mine you will be satisfied by the enclosed
letter from General Lee." The letter was followed by new promises. It
was supplemented by General Pryor's fellow-officers, who not only urged
that the country should not lose his services, but designated certain
regiments which might easily be assigned to him. The President wrote
courteous letters in reply, always repeating assurances of esteem,
etc., and continuing to give brigades to newer officers. The _Richmond
Examiner_ and other papers now began to notice the matter and present
General Pryor as arrayed with the party against the administration.
This being untrue, he was magnanimous enough to contradict. On March
17, 1863, the President wrote to him the following:—


     "_General_: Your gratifying letter on the 16th inst.,
     referring to an article in the _Examiner_ newspaper
     which seems to associate you with the opposition to the
     administration, has been received.

     "I did not see the article in question, but I am glad it had
     led to an expression so agreeable. The good opinion of one so
     competent to judge of public affairs, and who has known me so
     long and closely, is a great support in the midst of many and
     arduous trials.

                             "Very respectfully and truly yours,
                                                  "JEFFERSON DAVIS."

Among the letters sent to Mr. Davis in General Pryor's behalf was one
from General Lee and one from General Jackson, both of which unhappily
remained in the President's possession, no copies having been kept by
General Pryor.

As time went on, my husband waited with such patience as he could
command. Finally he resigned his commission as brigadier-general and
also his seat in Congress, and entered General Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry
as a private soldier. His resignation was held a long time by the
President, "in the hope it would be reconsidered," and repeatedly
General Pryor was "assured of the President's esteem," etc. General
Jackson, General Longstreet, General A. P. Hill, General D. H. Hill,
General Wilcox, General George Pickett, General Beauregard, were all
his devoted friends. Some of them had, like General Johnston and General
McClellan, similar experience.

It was a bitter hour for me when my general followed me to the Amelia
Springs with news that he had entered the cavalry as a private. "Stay
with me and the children," I implored.

"No," he said, "I had something to do with bringing on this war. I must
give myself to Virginia. She needs the help of all her sons. If there
are too many brigadier-generals in the service,—it may be so,—certain
it is there are not enough private soldiers."

But his hour had passed. He kissed his sleeping boys and hurried off
to the stage that was to take him to the depot. There John was waiting
with his horses (he never accepted anything but a soldier's ration from
the government), and they were off to join Fitzhugh Lee.

The Divinity that "rules our ends, rough hew them as we may," was
guiding him. I look back with gratitude to these circumstances,—then so
hard to bear,—circumstances to which, I am persuaded, I owe my husband's
life. Even were it otherwise, God forbid I should admit into my bosom
hard thoughts of any man.

General Lee welcomed him in hearty fashion:—

                                    "HEADQUARTERS, August 26, 1863.

     "_Honorable, General, or Mr._: How shall I address you? Damn
     it, there's no difference! Come up to see me. Whilst I regret
     the causes that induced you to resign your position, I am glad
     that the country has not lost your active services, and that
     your choice to serve her has been cast in one of my regiments.

                                             "Very respectfully,
                                                         "FITZ LEE."

As a common soldier in the cavalry service, General Pryor was assigned
the duties of his position, from not one of which did he ever excuse

Having no longer a home of my own, it was decided that I should go to my
people in Charlotte County. One of my sons, Theo, and two of my little
daughters were already there, and there I expected to remain until the
end of the war.

But repeated attempts to reach my country home resulted in failure.
Marauding parties and guerillas were flying all over the country. There
had been alarm at a bridge over the Staunton near "The Oaks," and the
old men and boys had driven away the enemy. I positively _could_ not
venture alone.

So it was decided that I should return to my husband's old district, to
Petersburg, and there find board in some private family.

I reached Petersburg in the autumn and wandered about for days seeking
refuge in some household. Many of my old friends had left town.
Strangers and refugees had rented the houses of some of these, while
others were filled with the homeless among their own kindred. There was
no room anywhere for me, and my small purse was growing so slender that
I became anxious. Finally my brother-in-law offered me an overseer's
house on one of his "quarters." The small dwelling he placed at my
disposal was to be considered temporary only; some one of his town
houses might soon be vacant. When I drove out to the little house, I
found it hardly better than a hovel. We entered a rude, unplastered
kitchen, the planks of the floor loose and wide apart, the earth beneath
plainly visible. There were no windows in this smoke-blackened kitchen.
A door opened into a tiny room with a fireplace, window, and out-door
of its own; and a short flight of stairs led to an unplastered attic,
so that the little apartment was entered by two doors and a staircase.
It was already cold, but we had to beat a hasty retreat and sit outside
while a negro boy made a "smudge" in the house, to dislodge the wasps
that had tenanted it for many months. My brother had lent me bedding
for the overseer's pine bedstead and the low trundle-bed underneath.
The latter, when drawn out at night, left no room for us to stand.
When that was done, we had all to go to bed. For furniture we had only
two or three wooden chairs and a small table. There were no curtains,
neither carpet nor rugs, and no china. There was wood at the woodpile,
and a little store of meal and rice, with a small bit of bacon in the
overseer's grimy closet. This was to be my winter home.

Petersburg was already virtually in a state of siege. Not a tithe of
the food needed for its army of refugees could be brought to the city.
Our highway, the river, was filled, except for a short distance, with
Federal gunboats. The markets had long been closed. The stores of
provisions had been exhausted, so that a grocery could offer little
except a barrel or two of molasses made from the domestic sorghum
sugar-cane, an acrid and unwholesome sweet used instead of sugar for
drink with water or milk and for eating with bread. The little boys
at once began to keep house. They valiantly attacked the woodpile, and
found favor in the eyes of Mary and the man, whom I never knew as other
than "Mary's husband." He and Mary were left in charge of the quarter
and had a cabin near us.

I had no books, no newspapers, no means of communicating with the
outside world; but I had one neighbor, Mrs. Laighton, a daughter of
Winston Henry, granddaughter of Patrick Henry. She lived near me with
her husband—a Northern man. Both were very cultivated, very poor, very
kind. Mrs. Laighton, as Lucy Henry,—a brilliant young girl,—I had last
seen at one of her mother's gay house-parties in Charlotte County. We
had much in common, and her kind heart went out in love and pity for
me. Her talk was a tonic to me. It stimulated me to play my part with
courage, seeing I had been deemed worthy, by the God who made me, to
suffer in this sublime struggle for liberty. She was as truly gifted
as was ever her illustrious grandfather. To hear her was to believe, so
persuasive and convincing was her eloquence.

I had not my good Eliza Page this winter. She had fallen ill. I had
a stout little black girl, Julia, as my only servant; but Mary had a
friend, a "corn-field hand," "Anarchy," who managed to help me at odd
hours. Mrs. Laighton sent me every morning a print of butter as large
as a silver dollar, with two or three perfect biscuits, and sometimes a
bowl of persimmons or stewed dried peaches. She had a cow, and churned
every day, making her biscuits of the buttermilk, which was much too
precious to drink.

A great snow-storm overtook us a day or two before Christmas. My
little boys kindled a roaring fire in the cold, open kitchen, roasted
chestnuts, and set traps for the rabbits and "snowbirds," which never
entered them. They made no murmur at the bare Christmas; they were loyal
little fellows to their mother. My day had been spent in mending their
garments,—making them was a privilege denied me, for I had no materials.
I was not "all unhappy!" The rosy cheeks at my fireside consoled me for
my privations, and something within me proudly rebelled against weakness
or complaining.

The flakes were falling thickly at midnight on Christmas Eve when I
suddenly became very ill. I sent out for Mary's husband and bade him
gallop in to Petersburg, three miles distant, and fetch me Dr. Withers.
I was dreadfully ill when he arrived, and as he stood at the foot of
my bed, I said to him: "It doesn't matter much for me, Doctor! But my
husband will be grateful if you keep me alive."

When I awoke from a long sleep, he was still standing at the foot of
my bed where I had left him—it seemed to me ages ago! I put out my hand
and it touched a little warm bundle beside me. God had given me a dear

The doctor spoke to me gravely and most kindly. "I must leave you now,"
he said, "and, alas! I cannot come again. There are so many, so many
sick. Call all your courage to your aid. Remember the pioneer women,
and all they were able to survive. This woman," indicating Anarchy,
"is a field-hand, but she is a mother, and she has agreed to help you
during the Christmas holidays—her own time. And now, God bless you, and

I soon slept again, and when I awoke, the very Angel of Strength and
Peace had descended and abode with me. I resolved to prove to myself
that if I was called to be a great woman, I _could_ be a great woman.
Looking at me from my bedside were my two little boys. They had been
taken the night before across the snow-laden fields to my brother's
house, but had risen at daybreak and had "come home to take care" of me!

My little maid Julia left me Christmas morning. She said it was too
lonesome, and her "mistis" always let her choose her own places. I
engaged "Anarchy" at twenty-five dollars a week for all her nights.
But her hands, knotted by work in the fields, were too rough to touch
my babe. I was propped up on pillows and dressed her myself, sometimes
fainting when the exertion was over.

I was still in my bed three weeks afterward, when one of my boys ran
in, exclaiming in a frightened voice, "Oh, mamma, an old gray soldier
is coming in!"

He stood—this old gray soldier—and looked at me, leaning on his sabre.

"Is this the reward my country gives me?" he said; and not until he
spoke did I recognize my husband. Turning on his heel, he went out, and
I heard him call:—

"John! John! Take those horses into town and sell them! Do not return
until you do so—sell them for anything! Get a cart and bring butter,
eggs, and everything you can find for Mrs. Pryor's comfort."

He had been with Fitz Lee on that dreadful tramp through the snow after
Averill. He had suffered cold and hunger, had slept on the ground
without shelter, sharing his blanket with John. He had used his own
horses, and now if the government needed him, the government might mount
him. He had no furlough, and soon reported for duty; but not before he
had moved us, early in January, into town—one of my brother-in-law's
houses having been vacated at the beginning of the year. John knew his
master too well to construe him literally, and had reserved the fine
gray, Jubal Early, for his use. That I might not again fall into the
sad plight in which he had found me, he purchased three hundred dollars
in gold, and instructed me to prepare a girdle to be worn all the time
around my waist, concealed by my gown. The coins were quilted in; each
had a separate section to itself, so that with scissors I might extract
one at a time without disturbing the rest.


Early in June the two armies of Grant and Lee confronted each other at
Petersburg. My dear general had bidden a silent and most sad farewell
to his little family and gone forth to join his company, when my father
entered with great news. "I have just met General Lee in the street."
"Passing through?" I asked. "Not at all! The lines are established just
here and filled with his veterans." My general soon reëntered joyfully.
He would now be on duty near us.

The next Sunday a shell fell in the Presbyterian Church opposite our
house. From that moment we were shelled at intervals, and very severely.
There were no soldiers in the city. Women were killed on the lower
streets, and an exodus from the shelled districts commenced at once.

As soon as the enemy brought up his siege guns of heavy artillery,
they opened on the city with shell without the slightest notice, or
without giving opportunity for the removal of non-combatants, the sick,
the wounded, or the women and children. The fire was at first directed
toward the Old Market, presumably because of the railroad depot situated
there, about which the soldiers might be supposed to collect. But the
guns soon enlarged their operations, sweeping all the streets in the
business part of the city, and then invading the residential region.
The steeples of the churches seemed to afford targets for their fire,
all of them coming in finally for a share of the compliment.

To persons unfamiliar with the infernal noise made by the screaming,
ricocheting, and bursting of shells, it is impossible to convey an
adequate idea of the terror and demoralization which ensued. Some
families who could not leave the besieged city dug holes in the ground,
five or six feet deep, covered with heavy timber banked over with
earth, the entrance facing opposite the batteries from which the shells
were fired. They made these bomb-proofs safe, at least, and thither
the family repaired when heavy shelling commenced. General Lee seemed
to recognize that no part of the city was safe, for he immediately
ordered the removal of all the hospitals, under the care of Petersburg's
esteemed physician, Dr. John Herbert Claiborne. There were three
thousand sick and wounded, many of them too ill to be moved. Everything
that could run on wheels, from a dray to a wheelbarrow, was pressed into
service by the fleeing inhabitants of the town. A long, never ending
line passed my door until there were no more to pass.

The spectacle fascinated my children, and they lived in the open
watching it. One day my little friend Nannie with my baby, nearly as
large as herself, in her arms, stood at the gate when a shell fell some
distance from them. A mounted officer drew rein and accosted her. "Whose
children are these?"

"This is Charles Campbell's daughter," said little Nannie, "and
this"—indicating the baby—"is General Pryor's child."

"Run home with General Pryor's baby, little girl, away from the shells,"
he said, and turning as he rode off, "My love to your father. I'm coming
to see him."

"Who is that man?" little Nannie inquired of a bystander.

"Why, don't you know? That's General Lee!"

We soon learned the peculiar deep boom of the one great gun which bore
directly upon us. The boys named it "Long Tom." Sometimes for several
weeks "Long Tom" rested or slept—and would then make up for lost time.
And yet we yielded to no panic. The children seemed to understand that
it would be cowardly to complain. One little girl cried out with fright
at an explosion, but her aunt, Mrs. Gibson, called her and said: "My
dear, you cannot make it harder for other people! If you feel very much
afraid, come to me, and I will take you in my arms, but you mustn't

Charles Campbell, the historian, lived near us, at the Anderson
Seminary. He cleared out the large coal cellar, which was fortunately
dry, spread rugs on the floor, and furnished it with lounges and chairs.
There we took refuge in utter darkness when the firing was unbearable.
My next-door neighbor, Mr. Thomas Branch, piled bags of sand around his
house and thus made it bomb-proof. One day a shell struck one of my
chimneys and buried itself, hissing, at the front door. Away we went
to Mr. Campbell's bomb-proof cellar, and there we remained until the
paroxysmal shelling ceased.

One night, after a long, hot day, we were so tired we slept soundly. I
was awakened by Eliza Page, standing trembling beside me. She pulled me
out of bed and hurriedly turned to throw blankets around the children.
The furies were let loose! The house was shaking with the concussion
from the heavy guns. We were in the street, on our way to our bomb-proof
cellar, when a shell burst not more than twenty-five feet before us.
Fire and fragments rose like a fountain in the air and fell in a shower
around us. Not one of my little family was hurt—and strange to say, the
children were not terrified!

Another time a shell fell in our own yard and buried itself in the
earth. My baby was not far away in her nurse's arms. The little creature
was fascinated by the shells. The first word she ever uttered was an
attempt to imitate them. "Yonder comes that bird with the broken wing,"
the servants would say. The shells made a fluttering sound as they
traversed the air, descending with a frightful hiss. When they exploded
in mid-air, a puff of smoke, white as an angel's wing, would drift
away, and the particles would patter down like hail. At night the track
of the shell and its explosion were precisely similar to our Fourth of
July rockets, except that they were fired, not upward, but in a slanting
direction,—not aimed at the stars, but aimed at us! I never felt afraid
of them! I was brought up to believe in predestination. Courage, after
all, is much a matter of nerves. My neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson,
Mrs. Meade, and Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, agreed with me, and we calmly
elected to remain in town. There was no place of safety accessible to
us. Mr. Branch removed his family, and, as far as I knew, none other of
my friends remained throughout the summer.

Not far from our own door ran a sunken street, with the hill, through
which it was cut, rising each side of it. Into this hill the negroes
burrowed, hollowing out a small space, where they sat all day on mats,
knitting, singing, and selling small cakes made of sorghum and flour,
and little round meat pies.

The antiphonal songs, with their weird melody, still linger in my
memory. At night above the dull roar of the guns, the keen hiss of the
shells as they fell, the rattle and rumble of the army wagons, a strong
voice from the colony of hillside huts would ring out:—

                   "My brederin do-o-n't be weary,
                     De angel brought de tidin's down.
                   Do-o-n't be weary
                     For we're gwine home!

                   "I want to go to heaven!
     (_Answer_) Yas, my Lawd!
                   I want to see my Jesus!
     (_Answer_) Yas, my Lawd!

     (_Chorus_) My brederin do-o-n't be weary,
                     De angel brought de tidin's down.
                   Do-o-n't be weary
                     For we're gwine home."

The sorghum cakes were made to perfection in our own kitchen, but the
meat pies were fascinating. I might have been tempted to invest in them
but for a slight circumstance. I saw a dead mule lying on the common,
and out of its side had been cut a very neat, square chunk of flesh!

With all our starvation we never ate rats, mice, or mule meat. We
managed to exist on peas, bread, and sorghum. We could buy a little
milk, and we mixed it with a drink made from roasted and ground corn.
The latter, in the grain, was scarce. Mr. Campbell's children picked up
the grains wherever the army horses were fed, washed, dried, and pounded
them for food.

My little boys never complained, but Theo, who had insisted upon
returning to me from his uncle's safe home in the country, said one day:
"Mamma, I have a queer feeling in my stomach! Oh, no! it doesn't ache
the least bit, but it feels like a nutmeg grater."

Poor little laddie! His machinery needed oiling. And pretty soon his
small brother fell ill with fever. My blessed Dr. Withers obtained a
permit for me to get a pint of soup every day from the hospital, and
one day there was a joyful discovery. In the soup was a drumstick of

"I cert'nly hope I'll not get well," the little man shocked me by saying.

"Oh, is it as bad as that?" I sighed.

"Why," he replied, "my soup will be stopped if I get better!"

Just at this juncture, when things were as bad as could be, my husband
brought home to tea the Hon. Pierre Soulé, General D. H. Hill, and
General Longstreet. I had bread and a little tea, the latter served in
a yellow pitcher without a handle. Mrs. Meade, hearing of my necessity,
sent me a small piece of bacon. I had known Mr. Soulé in Washington
society—of all men the most fastidious, most polished. When we assembled
around the table, I lifted my hot pitcher by means of a napkin, and
offered my tea, pure and simple, allowing the guests to use their
discretion in regard to a spoonful or two of dark brown sugar.

"This is a great luxury, madam," said Mr. Soulé, with one of his
gracious bows, "a good cup of tea."

We talked that night of all that was going wrong with our country, of
the good men who were constantly relieved of their commands, of all the
mistakes we were making.

"Mistakes!" said General Hill, bringing his clenched fist down upon the
table, "I could forgive mistakes! I cannot forgive lies! I could get
along if we could _only_, _only_ ever learn the truth, the real truth."
But he was very personal and used much stronger words than these.

The pictures my general had brought from Europe had been sent early
from Washington to Petersburg, and I had opened one of the boxes which
contained a large etching of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment." General
Longstreet stood long before this picture, as it hung in our living
room. Turning to Mr. Soulé and General Hill he exclaimed: "Oh, what does
it all signify? _Here_ is the end for every one of us!"—the end of all
the strife, the bloodshed, the bitterness—the final victory or defeat.

They talked and talked, these veterans and the charming, accomplished
diplomat, until one of them inquired the hour. I raised a curtain.

"Gentlemen," I said, "the sun is rising. You must now breakfast with
us." They declined. They had supped!

In the terrible fight at Port Walthall near Petersburg, my husband
rendered essential service. Among the few papers I preserved in a secret
drawer of the only trunk I saved, were two, one signed Bushrod Johnson,
the other D. H. Hill. The latter says: "The victory at Walthall Junction
was greatly due to General Roger A. Pryor. But for him it is probable we
might have been surprised and defeated." The other from General Johnson
runs at length: "At the most critical juncture General Roger A. Pryor
rendered me most valuable service, displaying great zeal, energy, and
gallantry in reconnoitring the positions of the enemy, arranging my
line of battle, and rendering successful the operations and movements of
the conflict." At General Johnson's request my husband served with him
during the midsummer. Such letters I have in lieu of medal or ribbon,—a
part only of much of similar nature; but less was given to many a man
who as fully deserved recognition.

Having been in active service in all the events around Petersburg, my
husband was now requested by General Lee to take with him a small squad
of men, and learn something of the movements of the enemy.

"Grant knows all about me," he said, "and I know too little about Grant.
You were a school-boy here, General, and have hunted in all the by-paths
around Petersburg. Knowing the country better than any of us, you are
the best man for this important duty."

Accordingly, armed with a pass from General Lee, my husband set forth
on his perilous scouting expeditions, sometimes being absent a week at a
time. During these scouting trips he had had adventures, narrow escapes,
and also some opportunities for gratifying, what has ever been the
controlling principle of his nature, the desire to help the unfortunate.
Once he brought me early in the morning three or four prisoners under
guard, and as he passed me on his way to snatch an hour's sleep, he
calmly ordered, "Be sure to feed them well."

I find in an unpublished diary of Charles Campbell, the historian, this
item: "I met Mrs. Pryor on her way to the commissary, with a small tin
pail in her hand. She said she was going for her daily ration of meal."
This "daily ration" for which I paid three dollars was all I had, except
beans and sorghum, and John openly rebelled when ordered to serve it
in loaves to my prisoners. However, he was overruled, and with perfect
good humor my little boys acquiesced, gave up their own breakfast, and
served the prisoners.

No farmer dared venture within the lines—no fish were in the streams,
no game in the woods around the town. The cannonading had driven them
away. There was no longer a market in Petersburg. I once, under shell
fire, visited the Old Market. At the end of a table upon which cakes and
jugs of sorghum molasses were exhibited, an aged negro offered a frozen

The famine moved on apace, but its twin sister, fever, rarely visited
us. Never had Petersburg been so healthy. Every particle of animal
or vegetable food was consumed, and the streets were clean. Flocks of
pigeons would follow the children who were eating bread or crackers.
Finally the pigeons vanished, having been themselves eaten. Rats
and mice disappeared. The poor cats staggered about the streets, and
began to die of hunger. At times meal was the only article attainable,
except by the rich. An ounce of meat daily was considered an abundant
ration for each member of the family. To keep food of any kind was
impossible—cows, pigs, bacon, flour, everything was stolen, and even
sitting hens were taken from the nest.

In the presence of such facts as these General Lee was able to report
that nearly every regiment in his army had reënlisted—and for the war!
And very soon he also reported that the army was out of meat and had
but one day's rations of bread! One of our papers copied the following
from the _Mobile Advertiser_:—

  [Illustration: GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE IN 1861.]

     "In General Lee's tent meat is eaten but twice a week,
     the general not allowing it oftener, because he believes
     indulgence in meat to be criminal in the present straitened
     condition of the country. His ordinary dinner consists of
     a head of cabbage boiled in salt water and a pone of corn
     bread. Having invited a number of gentlemen to dine with him,
     General Lee, in a fit of extravagance, ordered a sumptuous
     repast of bacon and cabbage. The dinner was served, and
     behold, a great sea of cabbage and a small island of bacon,
     or 'middling,' about four inches long and two inches across.
     The guests, with commendable politeness, unanimously declined
     the bacon, and it remained in the dish untouched. Next day
     General Lee, remembering the delicate titbit which had been
     so providentially preserved, ordered his servant to bring that
     'middling.' The man hesitated, scratched his head, and finally
     owned up:—

     "'Marse Robert,—de fac' is,—dat ar middlin' was borrowed
     middlin'. We-all didn' have no middlin'. I done paid it back
     to de place whar I got it fum.'

     "General Lee heaved a sigh of disappointment, and pitched into
     the cabbage."

Early in the autumn flour sold for $1500 a barrel, bacon $20 a pound,
beef ditto, a chicken could be bought for $50, shad $5.50 a pair—the
head of a bullock, horns and all, could be purchased, as a favor, from
the commissary for $5. Groceries soared out of sight. I once counted
in a soldier's ration eight grains of coffee! Little by little I drew
from the belt of gold I wore around my waist, receiving towards the last
one hundred dollars for one dollar in gold. These were anxious times,
difficult times—but they were not the worst times! We still had hope.
Any day, any hour might bring us victory and consequently relief. We had
the blessed boon of comradeship. _Una et commune periclum, una salus!_
Noble spirits were all around us, strong in faith and hope. Discouraging
words were never uttered when we talked together.

My neighbor, Mrs. Meade and her daughters, were delightful friends,
cheerful always. Soldiers were not allowed to wander about the streets,
but one day I saw Mary Meade pause at her gate, just across the narrow
street, and speak to one of them. "Do you know what he was asking me?"
she ran over to say. "Isn't it too funny? A soldier with his gun on his
shoulder wanted to know if we kept a dog, and if he could safely take
a drink from the well!" A number of Englishmen hung about our camps
near the close of the war. They were very agreeable, and while with
us intensely Southern. I delighted in one who had hired rooms in Mrs.
Meade's "office" opposite. He was so ardent a secessionist we honored
him with the usual Southern title of "Colonel." He came over one morning
in great indignation: "Oh, I say, it's a bit beastly of General Grant
to frighten Mrs. Meade! It's a jolly shame to fire big shells into a
lady's garden."

"What would you do, Colonel, if your chimney should be knocked off as
mine was last week?"

"Well,"—thoughtfully,—"I guess I'd toddle."

The time came when I felt that I could no longer endure the strain of
being perpetually under fire, and to my great relief, my brother-in-law,
Robert McIlwaine, removed his family to North Carolina, and placed
Cottage Farm, three miles distant from the city, at my disposal. He had
left a piano and some furniture in the house, and was glad to have me
live in it.

I had been in this refuge only a few days, happy in the blessed respite
from danger, when I learned that General Lee had established his
headquarters a short distance from us.

The whole face of the earth seemed to change immediately. Army wagons
crawled unceasingly in a fog of dust along the highroad, just in front
of our gate. All was stir and life in the rear, where there was another
country road, and a short road connecting the two passed immediately
by the well near our house. This, too, was constantly travelled; the
whir of the well-wheel never seemed to pause, day or night. We soon had
pleasant visitors, General A. P. Hill, Colonel William Pegram, General
Walker, General Wilcox, and others. General Wilcox, an old friend and
comrade, craved permission to make his headquarters on the green lawn
in the rear of the house, and my husband rejoiced at his presence and
protection for our little family.

In less than twenty-four hours I found myself in the centre of a camp.
The white tents of General Wilcox's staff-officers were stretched close
to the door. "We are here for eight years—not a day less," said my
father, and he fully believed it. This being the case, we brought all
our boxes from town, unpacked the library and set it up on shelves,
unpacked and hung our pictures. I hung the "Madonna della Seggiola" over
the mantel in the parlor and Guido's "Aurora" over the piano. There
was a baby house in one of the boxes and a trunk of evening dresses
at which I did not even glance, but stored in the cellar. Everything
looked so cosey and homelike, we were happier than we had been in a
long time. That my infant should not starve, I bought a little cow,
Rose, from a small planter in the neighborhood, for a liberal sum
in gold from my belt. "We mus' all help one another these times," he
observed complacently. Rose was a great treasure. My general's horse,
Jubal Early, was required to share his rations with her—indeed, poor
Jubal's allowance of corn was sometimes beaten into hominy for all of
us. John at once built a shelter close to his own room for Rose, "'cause
I knows soldiers! They gits up fo' day and milk yo' cow right under yo'
eyelids. When we-all was in Pennsylvania, the ole Dutch farmers used to
give Gen'al Lee Hail Columbia 'cause his soldiers milked their cows.
But Lawd! Gen'al Lee couldn' help it! He could keep 'em from stealin'
horses, but the queen of England herself couldn' stop a soldier when he
hankers after milk. An' he don't need no pail, neither; he can milk in
his canteen an' never spill a drop."

John and the boys were in fine spirits. They laid plans for chickens,
pigeons, and pigs—none of which were realized, except the latter, which
I persuaded a butcher to give me for one or two of the general's silk
vests. As we were to be here "for eight years, no less," it behooved
me to look after the little boys' education. School books were found
for them. I knew "small Latin and less Greek," but I gravely heard them
recite lessons in the former; and they never discovered the midnight
darkness of my mind as to mathematics. As to the pigs, I had almost
obtained my own consent to convert them into sausages when I was spared
the pain of signing their death warrant by their running away!

I knew nothing of the strong line of fortifications which General Grant
was building at the back of the farm, fortifications strengthened by
forts at short intervals. Our own line—visible from the garden—had fewer
forts, two of which, Fort Gregg and Battery 45, protected our immediate
neighborhood. These forts occasionally answered a challenge, but there
was no attempt at a sally on either side.

The most painful circumstance connected with our position was the picket
firing at night, incessant, like the dropping of hail, and harrowing
from the apprehension that many a man fell from the fire of a picket.
But, perhaps to reassure me, Captain Lindsay and Captain Clover, of
General Wilcox's staff, declared that "pickets have a good time. They
fire, yes, for that is their business; but while they load for the next
volley, one will call out, 'Hello, Reb,' be answered, 'Hello, Yank,'
and little parcels of coffee are thrown across in exchange for a plug
of tobacco." After accepting this fiction I could have made myself
easy, but for my constant anxiety about the safety of my dear general.
He was now employed day and night, often in peril, gleaning from every
possible source information for General Lee. While absent on one of
these scouting trips, he once met a lady who, with her children, was
vainly trying to pass through the lines that she might return to her
home at the North. Two years ago he received the following pleasant

                         "REPRESENTATIVE HALL,
                              "29th SESSION
                         "NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE.

                                             "LINCOLN, 3/19th, 1907.

     "My dear Judge Pryor,

     "I cannot resist the desire I have to write you concerning
     an incident of the war, in which you played such a noble and
     splendid part. You may have forgotten Mrs. Mary C. Burgess,
     whom, with three little children, you escorted with much
     personal risk through from the Confederate picket line to
     the Union line. You took two scouts. Each took a child on his
     horse, Mrs. Burgess walking. You stopped in a ravine and told
     Mrs. Burgess to go into the open field to the right where she
     would see a man on a gray horse to the left, she to signal
     this man, who would command her to come to him. She did so,
     and then came back after the children. You bade Mrs. Burgess
     good-by. She took the children and went again to the man on
     horseback. He took her to General Meade's headquarters, where
     she got orders to go to City Point, where she was detained
     two weeks, General Grant being absent, and she could go no
     farther without General Grant's orders. You will remember
     how Mrs. Burgess was sent to Mrs. Cumming's house with an
     escort of cavalry and infantry with a flag of truce. They
     were suspicious of the attention paid Mrs. Burgess, and at
     first were inclined to treat her as a spy. But after many
     hardships Mrs. Burgess finally reached New York and friends.
     Mrs. Burgess is my mother-in-law; is living with me; is
     the same dignified, cultivated lady whom you may remember.
     She is now in her seventy-fourth year. The splendid acts of
     kindness shown by you to her and the three children no doubt
     saved their lives. Mother Burgess sits here and wants you to
     know you occupy a lifelong place in her memory. For myself
     and all the family, I wish to say to you, Judge Pryor, that
     the English language does not contain words to express our
     admiration for your bravery, and our thankfulness to you for
     protecting the lone woman and children and the magnificent
     chivalry that prompted you like a true knight, which you are,
     to go to their rescue. I hope to have the honor and pleasure
     of seeing you and shaking your hand. With kindest of personal
     regard to you and all dear to you, I beg to remain,

                                     "Yours sincerely,
                                          "H. C. M. BURGESS,
                                            "1568 South 20th St.
                                                     "Lincoln, Neb."


The morning of November 29, 1864, found me comfortably seated at my
breakfast table with my little boys and my small brother, Campbell
Pryor. My venerable father, Dr. Pryor, had departed on his daily rounds
to visit the sick and wounded in the hospitals, and my husband was
away on special duty for General Lee. John had reported early with
one cupful of milk—all that little Rose, with her slender rations, was
capable of yielding. This we had boiled with parched corn and sweetened
with sorghum molasses. With perfect biscuits well beaten but unmixed
with lard or butter we made a breakfast with which we were contented.
I indulged myself in a long letter to my dear aunt, telling her of our
comfortable home and the prospect of comparative quiet with the army
soon to go into winter quarters. I had addressed my letter and was
about to seal it when General Wilcox entered, and gently told me that
my husband had been captured the day before!

I remember perfectly that I sat for a moment stunned into silence,
and then quietly stamped my letter! I would spare my aunt the sad news
for a while. In a few minutes clanking spurs at the door announced the
presence of a staff-officer.

"Madam," he said respectfully, "General Lee sends you his affectionate

Through the window I saw General Lee on his horse, Traveller, standing
at the well. He waited until his messenger returned—I was too much
overcome to speak—and then rode slowly towards the lines.

I had small hope of the speedy exchange promised me by General Wilcox.
From day to day he reported the efforts made for my husband's release
and their failure. General Lee authorized a letter to General Meade,
detailing the circumstances of his capture and requesting his release.
General Meade promptly refused to release him.

We naturally looked to the enemy for all information, and although my
husband had written me a pencilled note at City Point on the inside
of a Confederate envelope, and had implored his guard (a Federal
officer) to have it inserted in a New York paper, I did not receive it
until thirty-one years afterward. We soon had news, however, through a
despatch from the Northern army to the _New York Herald_. The paper of
November 30, 1864, contained the following:—

"Yesterday a rebel officer made his appearance in front of our
lines, waving a paper for exchange. The officer in charge of the
picket, suddenly remembering that Major Burrage, of the Thirty-sixth
Massachusetts, was taken prisoner some time since by the enemy while on
a similar errand, 'gobbled' the rebel, who proved to be the famous Roger
A. Pryor, ex-member of Congress and ex-brigadier-general of Jeff Davis's
army. He protested vehemently against what he styled 'a flagrant breach
of faith' on our part. He was assured he was taken in retaliation for
like conduct on the part of his friends, and sent to General Meade's
headquarters for further disposition."

Press despatch to _Herald_, November 30, from Washington: "Roger A.
Pryor has been brought to Washington and committed to the old Capitol
Prison." Later a personal through the _New York News_ reached me: "Your
husband is in Fort Lafayette, where a friend and relative is permitted
to visit him, (signed) Mary Rhodes." From an enormous quantity of
letters, newspaper extracts, book notices, military reports, etc.,
describing his capture written by the men who made it and witnessed it,
I select an interesting one, not hitherto published, which my husband
received recently through my brother, the Mayor of Bristol.

                                    "BRISTOL, TENN., July 10, 1908.

     "HON. W. L. RICE, "BRISTOL, VA.

     "_My dear Mayor_:—

     "I very cheerfully comply with your request to give you a
     short sketch of the circumstances which led to my selection
     as the Officer to convey Gen. R. A. Pryor to Fort Warren,
     Mass., in 1864. As an aid to my memory I have hunted over my
     old Army papers, and have found the original Order from the
     Military Governor of Washington, D.C., and also the receipt
     given me by Gen. Pryor for money which I turned over to him,
     on delivering him to the Commandant of Fort Lafayette, N. Y.
     Harbor, to which place my orders were afterwards changed and
     which papers I herewith attach.

     "In November of 1864 my Regiment, the 39th Mass., was serving
     in the defences of Washington, and I had been detailed as
     an Aid on the staff of Gen. Martindale, then Commanding the
     Military District of Washington. Having received a Leave of
     Absence to visit my home in Mass., Col. T. McGowan, then Adjt.
     General of the District, kindly offered to place a prisoner
     in my charge and thus save to me my transportation. I did not
     know who my prisoner was to be, until my orders were received,
     and naturally felt pleased to find that my charge was to be
     Gen. Roger A. Pryor, whom I had known by reputation from my
     boyhood up.

     "Though my Orders read that I was to assist Brig. General
     Wessels, I saw nothing of that gentleman until after
     General Pryor and myself had reached and taken seats in the
     train. Then Gen. Wessels made himself known, and asked an
     introduction to Gen. Pryor.

     "It was 9.30 at night when left Washington, and we did not
     reach New York until daylight next morning. When I received my
     prisoner at the Old Capitol Prison, I recall that the Supt.,
     one Colonel Wood advised me to iron my charge, alleging that
     he was a dangerous man; but this I refused to do, taking only
     Gen. Pryor's verbal parole that he would not attempt to escape
     while in my custody. This Gen. Pryor cheerfully gave, and
     religiously kept while with me. On arrival at Jersey City we
     became in some way separated from Gen. Wessels, and crossed
     over by the Cortlandt Street Ferry to New York. As the hour
     was early we stopped for breakfast at the Courtland Street
     Hotel, then quite a pretentious Hostelry. After breakfast,
     and while preparing to leave the Hotel for the Qr. Mas. Gen.
     Dept. where I was to find my orders and transportation, I was
     surprised to find that the Rotunda of the Hotel was packed,
     evidently with friends of Gen. Pryor and for a short time
     it looked as if my prisoner would be taken from me, but the
     Gen. directing me to take his arm, we passed through without
     trouble. At the Quarter Master Genl's I found my orders
     changed, and I was directed to convey my prisoner to Fort
     Lafayette New York Harbor in place of Fort Warren Boston
     Harbor. On arrival at Fort Lafayette we found Brig. Gen.
     Wessels awaiting us, and with him we proceeded across the
     ferry turning over our prisoner to Major Burke, Commandant at
     that Fort, taking his receipt therefor.

     "At this distance of time (44 years) it would seem that these
     occurrences must have passed from my memory, but I remember
     with distinctness the appearance of the General, the incident
     at the Old Capitol, the crowd in the Rotunda of the Cortlandt
     Hotel, the miraculous passage through the sea of 'Red' faces
     therein, and the appearance of Major Paddy Burke (a very old
     Officer of the Old Army) to whose custody I transferred my
     charge. I recall also the kind expressions of regard uttered
     by General Pryor as we shook hands at parting and the promise
     he extracted that should it be my fate to be wounded or a
     prisoner in Richmond, during the war, that I would make myself
     known to his family there residing, who would respond to
     any appeal made by me. It was my fortune to pass through the
     remaining months of the war without being captured, and never
     severely wounded, so I did not have to call on the generosity
     of a gallant foe, and I presume the memory of that journey
     to New York, and the memory of the stripling Officer who
     accompanied him on that journey, long ago passed from Judge
     Pryor's memory, but I recall it as a pleasant episode in a
     boy's life and I would wish, that in writing to the Judge,
     you would kindly convey to him my sincere congratulations on
     the honors he has attained, and the respect and love which he
     has received in his declining years, and with kindest wishes
     to yourself, believe me,

                                              "Very truly yours,
                                                     "WM. G. SHEEN."

Mr. Sheen kindly sent my brother the order to which he alludes:—


                        "PROVOST MARSHAL'S OFFICE

                   "WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 29th, 1864.

     "Special Orders
       _No. 217_


     "It is hereby Ordered! That _Brigadier Gen'l, H. W. Wessels_
     assisted by _Lieut. Wm. G. Sheen_ will proceed to Old Capital
     Prison and taken in charge the following named prisoner:

                      "_Roger A. Pryor 7th Va: Car_

     and deliver him together with the accompany papers to the
     Commanding Officer at Fort Warren Boston Harbor take a receipt
     therefore and report action at these Head Quarters.

     "The Quartermaster Department will furnish the necessary

                        "By Command of Col. M. N. WISERVELL,
                                                 "Military Governor.
                                             "GEO. R. WALBRIDGE,
                                         "Capt & Asst Pro. Marshal."

It will be perceived by the above that the Federal officers
granted their captured private the honor of escort by a Federal
general—Brigadier-general H. W. Wessels—and were inclined to confer upon
him the further distinction of "irons."

While he was detained in Washington, Major Leary (or Captain) discovered
a plot to assassinate him, which he revealed to the prisoner, arranging
for his greater safety. Before he reached Fort Lafayette it appears
he was threatened with assassination and also rescue. Some kind
friend in Washington thrust into his overcoat pocket a bottle of
brandy. It was taken from him when his pockets were searched, along
with his letters and pistols, but returned by a Federal officer, who
remarked,—recognizing the touch of nature which establishes the kinship
of all men in all nations,—"Keep it, General! There's an almighty sight
of comfort in a bottle of brandy." The pistols were not returned and,
along with an army cape, are preserved—I have understood—in a museum of
war relics at Concord, Mass.

A month elapsed before all the forms required by military law could be
observed in sending the letters of prisoners through the lines. At last
Colonel Ould forwarded to me a brief assurance of my dear captive's
welfare. He was confined in a casemate with twelve other prisoners.
A grate held a small quantity of coal, and on this fire the captive
soldiers cooked their slender rations of meat. Their bread was furnished
them from a baker. They lay upon straw mats on the floor. They were glad
of the rule compelling them to fetch up their fuel from the coal cellar,
as it gave opportunity for exercise. Once daily they could walk upon
the ramparts, and my husband's eyes turned sadly to the dim outlines of
the beautiful city where he had often been an honored guest. The veil
which hid from him so much of the grief and struggle of the future hid
also the reward. Little did he dream he should administer justice on
the supreme bench of the mist-veiled city.

The captives had no material except coal and water, but of the former
they manufactured seal rings (to be set when they regained their
liberty), inlaying a polished ebony surface with bits from a silver
coin to represent tiny Confederate flags. One of these was given to
my general, and lost in the great hour of losses. With the coal as a
pencil, the prisoners indulged in caricatures of the commandant. Every
morning a fresh picture on the whitewashed wall met his eye: "Burk as a
baby," "Burk in his first pants," "Burk in love," etc., etc. The reward
was the commandant's face when he saw them.

After my husband's release, his place in the casemate was filled by
a "stylish" young officer who refused, absolutely, to submit to the
degradation of bringing up his quota of the coal.

"And so," said "old Burk," "you are too great a man, are you, to fetch
your coal? I had General Pryor here. He brought up his coal! I think,
sir, you'll bring up yours!"

Before I take leave of my dear captive for the winter, I must record
his unvarying fortitude under much physical discomfort, cold, and food
which almost destroyed him. On the 20th of December, I received a brief
note from Fort Lafayette: "My philosophy begins to fail somewhat. In
vain I seek some argument of consolation. I see no chance of release.
The conditions of my imprisonment cut me off from every resource of

I learned afterward that he was ill, and often under the care of a
physician during the winter, but he tried to write as encouragingly as
possible. In February, however, he failed in health and spirits.

"I am as contented as is compatible with my condition. My mind is
ill at ease from my solicitude for my family and my country. Every
disaster pierces my soul like an arrow; and I am afflicted with the
thought that I am denied the privilege of contributing even my mite
to the deliverance of—. How I envy my old comrades their hardships
and privations! I have little hope of an early exchange, and you may
be assured my mistrust is not without reason. _Except some special
instance be employed to procure my release, my detention here will be
indefinite._ I cannot be more explicit. While this is my conviction,
I wish it distinctly understood that I would not have my government
compromise any scruple for the sake of my liberation. I am prepared for
any contingency—am fortified against any reverse of fortune."

The problem now confronting me was this: how could I maintain my
children and myself? My husband's rations were discontinued. I sent my
general's horse far into the interior, to be boarded with a farmer for
his services, as I had no possible means of feeding him. My only supply
of food was from my father's ration as chaplain. I had a part of a
barrel of flour which a relative had sent me from a county now cut off
from us. Quite a number of my old Washington servants had followed me,
to escape the shelling, but they could not, of course, look to me for
their support. My household included Eliza Page, Aunt Jinny, and Uncle
Frank (old people and old settlers), and our faithful John. I frankly
told John and Eliza my condition, but they elected to remain.

One day John presented himself with a heart-broken countenance and a
drooping attitude of deep dejection. He had a sad story to tell. The
agent of the estate to which he belonged was in town, and John had
been commissioned to inform me that all the slaves belonging to the
estate were to be immediately transferred to a Louisiana plantation for
safety. Those of us who had hired these servants by the year were to be
indemnified for our loss.

"How do you feel about it, John?" I asked.

The poor fellow broke down. "It will kill me," he declared. "I'll soon
die on that plantation."

All his affectionate, faithful service, all his hardships for our sakes,
rushed upon my memory. I bade him put me in communication with the
agent. I found that I could save the boy only by buying him! A large
sum of gold was named as the price. I unbuckled my girdle and counted
my handful of gold—one hundred and six dollars. These I offered to the
agent (who was a noted negro trader), and although it was far short of
his figures, he made out my bill of sale receipted. Remembered to-day,
this seems a wonderful act on my part. At the time it was the most
natural thing in the world!

John soon appeared with smiling face and informed me with his thanks
that he belonged to me!

"You are a free man, John," I said. "I will make out your papers and I
can easily arrange for you to pass the lines."

"I know that," he said. "Marse Roger has often told me I was a free man.
I never will leave you till I die. Papers, indeed! Papers nothing! I
belong to you—that's where I belong."

All that dreadful winter he was faithful to his promise, cheerfully
bearing, without wages, all the privations of the time. Sometimes when
the last atom of food was gone, he would ask for money, sally forth
with a horse and a light cart, and bring in peas and dried apples. Once
a week we were allowed to purchase the head of a bullock, horns and
all, from the commissary for the exclusive use of the servants—I would
have starved first—and a small ration of rice was allowed us by the
government. A one-armed boy, Alick, who had been reared in my father's
family, now wandered in to find his old master, and installed himself
as my father's servant.

The question that pressed upon me day and night was: "How, where, can I
earn some money?" to be answered by the frightful truth that there could
be no opening for me anywhere, because I could not leave my children.

One wakeful night, while I was revolving these things, a sudden thought
darted, unbidden, into my sorely harassed mind:—

"Why not open the trunk from Washington? Something may be found there
which can be sold."

At an early hour next morning John and Alick brought the trunk from the
cellar. Aunt Jinny, Eliza, and the children gathered around. It proved
to be full of my old Washington finery. There were a half-dozen or
more white muslin gowns, flounced and trimmed with valenciennes lace,
many yards; there was a rich bayadere silk gown trimmed fully with
guipure lace; a green silk dress with gold embroidery; a blue-and-silver
brocade,—these last evening gowns. There was a paper box containing
the shaded roses I had worn to Lady Napier's ball, the ball at which
Mrs. Douglas and I had dressed alike in gowns of tulle. Another box
held the garniture of green leaves and gold grapes which had belonged
to the green silk, and still another the blue-and-silver feathers for
the brocade. An opera cloak trimmed with fur; a long purple velvet
cloak; a purple velvet "coalscuttle" bonnet, trimmed with white roses;
a point-lace handkerchief; valenciennes lace; Brussels lace; and in
the bottom of the trunk a package of _ciel_ blue zephyr, awakening
reminiscences of a passion which I had cherished for knitting shawls
and "mariposas" of zephyr,—such was the collection I discovered.

I ripped all the lace from the evening gowns and made large collars and
undersleeves then in vogue. John found a closed dry-goods store willing
to sell clean paper boxes.

My first instalment was sent to Price's store in Richmond and promptly
sold. I sold the silk gowns minus the costly trimming; but when I had
stripped the muslin flounces of lace, behold raw edges that no belle,
even a Confederate, could have worn. I rolled the edges of these
flounces—there were ten or twelve on some of the gowns—and edged them
with a spiral line of blue zephyr. I embroidered a dainty vine of blue
forget-me-nots on bodice and sleeves, with a result simply ravishing!

After I had converted all my laces into collars, cuffs, and sleeves,
and had sold my silk gowns, opera cloak, and point-lace handkerchiefs,
I devoted myself to trimming the edges of the artificial flowers, and
separating the long wreaths and garlands into clusters for hats and
_bouquets de corsage_.

Eliza and the children delighted in this phase of my work, and begged
to assist,—all except Aunt Jinny.

"Honey," she said, "don't you think, in these times of trouble, you
might do better than tempt them po' young lambs in Richmond to worship
the golden calf and bow down to mammon? We prays not to be led into
temptation, and you sho'ly is leadin' 'em into vanity."

"Maybe so, Aunt Jinny, but I must sell all I can. We have to be clothed,
you know, war or no war."

"Yes, my chile, that's so; but we're told to consider the lilies.
Gawd Almighty tells us we must clothe ourselves in the garment of
righteousness, and He—"

"You always 'pear to be mighty intimate with God A'mighty," interrupted
Eliza, in great wrath. "Now you just run 'long home an' leave my mistis
to her work. How would _you_ look with nothin' on but a garment of

When I had stripped the pretty silk gowns of their trimmings, what could
be done with the gowns themselves? Finally I resolved to embroider them.
The zeal with which I worked knew no pause. I needed no rest. General
Wilcox, who was in the saddle until a late hour every night, said to me,
"Your candle is the last light I see at night—the first in the morning."

"I should never sleep," I told him.

One day I consulted Eliza about the manufacture of a Confederate candle.
We knew how to make it—by drawing a cotton rope many times through
melted wax, and then winding it around a bottle. We could get the wax,
but our position was an exposed one. Soldiers' tents were close around
us, and we scrupulously avoided any revelation of our needs, lest they
should deny themselves for our sakes. Eliza thought we might avail
ourselves of the absence of the officers, and finish our work before
they returned. We made our candle behind the kitchen; but that night,
as I sat sewing beside its dim, glowworm light, I heard a step in the
hall, and a hand, hastily thrust out, placed a brown paper parcel on
the piano near the door. It was a soldier's ration of candles!

Of course I could not find shoes for my boys. I made little boots of
carpet lined with flannel for my baby. A pair lasted just three days.
A large bronze morocco pocket-book fell into my hands, of which I made
boots for my little Mary. Alick,—prowling about the fields to gather
the herb "life everlasting," of which we made yeast,—found two or three
leather bags, and a soldier shoemaker contrived shoes for each of my

My own prime necessity was for the steel we women wear in front of our
stays. I suffered so much for want of this accustomed support, that
Captain Lindsay had a pair made for me by the government gunsmith—the
best I ever had.

The time came when the salable contents of the Washington trunk were all
gone. I then cut up my husband's dress-coat, and designed well-fitting
ladies' gloves, with gauntlets made of the watered silk lining. Of
an interlining of gray flannel I made gray gloves, and this glove
manufacture yielded me hundreds of dollars. Thirteen small fragments
of flannel were left after the gloves were finished. Of these, pieced
together, I made a pair of drawers for my Willy,—my youngest boy.

The lines around us were now so closely drawn that my father returned
home after short absences of a day or two. But we were made anxious,
during a heavy snow early in December, by a more prolonged absence.
Finally he appeared, on foot, hatless, and exhausted. He had been
captured by a party of cavalrymen. He had told them of his non-combatant
position, but when he asked for release, they shook their heads. At
night they all prepared to bivouac upon the ground; assigned him a
sheltered spot, gave him a good supper and blankets, and left him to
his repose. As the night wore on and all grew still, he raised his head
cautiously to reconnoitre, and to his surprise found himself at some
distance from the guard—but his horse tied to a tree within the circle
around the fire. My father took the hint and walked away unchallenged,
"which proves, my dear," he said, "that a clergyman is not worth as much
as a good horse in time of war."


In the colony escaped from the shells and huddled together around
General Lee were two very humble poor women who often visited me. One of
them was the proud owner of a cow, "Morning-Glory," which she contrived
to feed from the refuse of the camp kitchens, receiving in return a
small quantity of milk, to be sold at prices beyond belief. I never saw
Morning-Glory, but I often heard her friendly echo to the lowing of my
little Rose, morning and evening. Being interpreted, it might have been
found to convey an expression of surprise that either was still alive,
so slender was their allowance of food.

One day I espied, coming down the dusty road, the limp, sunbonneted
figure of Morning-Glory's mistress. She sank upon the nearest chair,
pushed back her calico bonnet, and revealed a face blurred with tears
and hair dishevelled beyond the ordinary.

"Good morning, Mrs. Jones! Come to the fire! It's a cold morning."

"No'm, I ain't cole! It's—it's" (sobbing)—"it's Mornin'-Glory!"

"Not sick? If she is, I'll—"

"No'm, Mornin'-Glory ain't never goin' to be sick no mo'."

"Oh, Mrs. Jones! _Not dead!_"

"Them pickets kep' me awake all las' night, an' I got up in the night
an' went out to see how Mornin'-Glory was gettin' on, an' she—she—she
look at me jus' the same! An' I slep' soun' till after sun-up, and when
I got my pail an' went out to milk her—_thar was her horns an hufs!_"

The poor woman broke down completely in telling me the ghastly story.
"Oh, how wicked! How was it possible to take her off and nobody hear?"
I exclaimed in great wrath.

"I don't know, Mis' Pryor, nothin' but what I tells you. Talk to me
'bout Yankees! Soldiers is soldiers, an' when you say _that_, you jus'
as well say devils is devils."

My other poor neighbor had long been a pensioner on my father. She was
a forlorn widow with many children, hopeless and helpless. My father was
in despair when she turned up "to git away from the shellin'." She found
a small untenanted house near us and set up an establishment which was
supported altogether by boarding an occasional soldier on sick leave,
and taking his rations as her pay. Like Mrs. Jones, she was a frequent
visitor to my fireside. One morning, after some unusual demonstrations
of coy shyness, she blurted out: "I knows fo' I begin what you goin' to
say! You goin' to tell me Ma'y Ann is a fool, an' I won't say you ain't
in the rights of it."

"Well, what is Mary Ann's folly? I thought she had grown up to be a
sensible girl."

"_Sensible! Ma'y Ann!_ Them pretty gals is never sensible! No'm. Melissy
Jane is the sensible one o' my chillun. I tole Ma'y Ann she didn't have
nothin' fitten to be ma'ied in, an' she up an' say she know Mis' Pryor
ain' goin' to let one o' her pa's chu'ch people git ma'ied in rags."

"I certainly will not, Mrs. Davis! Mary Ann, I suppose, is to marry the
soldier you've been taking care of. Tell her she may look to me for a
wedding-dress. When is it to be?"

"Just as Dr. Pryor says—to-morrow if convenient."

I immediately overhauled the bundle of Washington finery and found a
lavender Pina, or "pineapple" muslin, not yet prepared for sale. This
was a delicate gown, trimmed with lavender silk, and with angel sleeves
lined with white silk. This I sent to the prospective bride—considering
her needs and station, a most unsuitable wedding garment, but all I had!
I managed to make a contribution to the wedding supper, a large pumpkin
I extorted from John, who had "found" it. Melissy Jane, homely enough to
be brilliantly "sensible," appeared to take charge of the present,—the
most slatternly, unlovely, and altogether unpromising of the poor white
class I had ever seen; and my father, in view of the great good fortune
coming to the forlorn family in the acquisition of an able-bodied,
whole-hearted Confederate soldier, made no delay in performing the
marriage ceremony. About a week afterward Mrs. Davis, limper than ever,
more depressed than ever, reappeared.

"I hope nobody's sick?" I inquired.

"No'm, the chilluns is as peart as common. Ma'y Ann don't seem no ways
encouraged. 'Pears like she's onreconciled."

"Why, what ails poor Mary Ann?"

"Yas'm—he's lef' her! Jus' took hisself off and never say nuthin'.
We-all don't even know what company owns him."

"Mrs. Davis!" I exclaimed, in great indignation, "this is not to be
tolerated. That man is to be found and made to do his duty. I can manage

"I don't know as I keers to ketch 'im," sighed the poor woman. "Ef you
capters them men erginst ther will, they'll git away ergin—_sho!_ Let
'im go long! He ain't paid me a cent or a ration of meat an' meal sence
he was ma'ied. Anyhow," she proudly added, "_Ma'y Ann is ma'ied!_ Folks
can't fling it up to 'er now as she's a ole maid,"—which proves that
maternal ambitions are peculiar to no condition of life.

Looking back, and living over again these stern times, it seems to
me little short of a miracle that we actually did exist upon the
slender portion of food allotted us. We could rarely see, from one day
to another, just how we were to be fed. "Give us this day our daily
bread"—this petition was our sole reliance. And as surely as the day
would come,

             "He that doth the ravens feed,
     Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,"

would prove to us that we were of more value in His sight than many

General Lee passed my door every Sunday morning on his way to a little
wooden chapel nearer his quarters than St. Paul's Church. I have a
picture of him in my memory, in his faded gray overcoat and slouch hat,
bending his head before the sleet on stormy mornings. Sometimes his
cousin, Mrs. Banister, could find herself warranted by circumstances
to invite him to dine with her. Once she received from a country friend
a present of a turkey, and General Lee consented to share it with her.
She helped him at dinner to a moderate portion, for there was only one
turkey—like Charles Lamb's hare—and many friends! Mrs. Banister observed
the general laying on one side of his plate part of his share of the
turkey, and she regretted his loss of appetite. "Madam," he explained,
"Colonel Taylor is not well, and I should be glad to be permitted to
take this to him."

After an unusually mild season, John bethought himself of the fishes
in the pond and streams, but not a fishhook was for sale in Richmond or
Petersburg. He contrived, out of a cunning arrangement of pins, to make
hooks, and sallied forth with my boys. But the water was too cold, or
the fish had been driven down-stream by the firing. The usual resource
of the sportsman with an empty creel—a visit to the fishmonger—was quite
out of the question. There was no fishmonger any more.

Under these circumstances you may imagine my sensation at receiving the
following note:—

     "MY DEAR MRS. PRYOR: General Lee has been honored by a visit
     from the Hon. Thomas Connolly, Irish M.P. from Donegal.

     "He ventures to request you will have the kindness to give Mr.
     Connolly a room in your cottage, if this can be done without
     inconvenience to yourself."

Certainly I could give Mr. Connolly a room; but just as certainly
I could not feed him! The messenger who brought me the note hastily
reassured me. He had been instructed to say that Mr. Connolly would mess
with General Lee. I turned Mr. Connolly's room over to John, who soon
became devoted to his service. The M.P. proved a most agreeable guest,
a fine-looking Irish gentleman with an irresistibly humorous, cheery
fund of talk. He often dropped in at our biscuit toasting, and assured
us that we were better provided than the commander-in-chief.

"You should have seen 'Uncle Robert's' dinner to-day, madam! He had two
biscuits, and he gave me one."

Another time Mr. Connolly was in high feather.

"We had a glorious dinner to-day! Somebody sent 'Uncle Robert' a box of

General Lee, however, was not forgotten. On fine mornings quite a
procession of little negroes, in every phase of raggedness, used to
pass my door, each one bearing a present from the farmers' wives of
buttermilk in a tin pail for General Lee. The army was threatened
with scurvy, and buttermilk, hominy, and every vegetable that could be
obtained was sent to the hospital.

Mr. Connolly interested himself in my boys' Latin studies.

"I am going home," he said, "and tell the English women what I have seen
here: two boys reading Cæsar while the shells are thundering, and their
mother looking on without fear."

"I am too busy keeping the wolf from my door," I told him, "to concern
myself with the thunderbolts."

The wolf was no longer at the door! He had entered and had taken up
his abode at the fireside. Besides what I could earn with my needle, I
had only my father's army ration to rely upon. My faithful John foraged
right and left, and I had reason to doubt the wisdom of inquiring too
closely as to the source of an occasional half-dozen eggs or small bag
of corn. This last he would pound on a wooden block for hominy. Meal was
greatly prized for the reason that wholesomer bread could be made of it
than of wheaten flour,—meal was no longer procurable, but we were never
altogether without flour. As I have said, we might occasionally purchase
for five dollars the head of a bullock from the commissary, every other
part of the animal being available for army rations. By self-denial on
our own part we fondly hoped we could support our army and at last win
our cause. We were not, at the time, fully aware of the true state of
things in the army. Our men were so depleted from starvation that the
most trifling wound would end fatally. Gangrene would supervene, and
then nothing could be done to prevent death. Long before this time, at
Vicksburg, Admiral Porter found that many a dead soldier's haversack
yielded nothing but a handful of parched corn. _We_ were now enduring
a sterner siege. The month of January brought us sleet and storm. Our
famine grew sterner every day. Seasons of bitter cold weather would
find us without wood to burn, and we had no other fuel. I commenced
cutting down the choice fruit trees in the grounds,—and General Wilcox
managed to send me a load of rails from a fence, hitherto spared by the
soldiers. Poor little Rose could yield only one cupful of milk, so small
was her ration; but we never thought of turning the faithful animal into
beef. The officers in my yard spared her something every day from the
food of their horses.

The days were so dark and cheerless, the news from the armies at a
distance so discouraging, it was hard to preserve a cheerful demeanor
for the sake of the family. And now began the alarming tidings, every
morning, of the desertions during the night. General Wilcox wondered
how long his brigade would hold together at the rate of fifty desertions
every twenty-four hours!

The common soldier had enlisted, not to establish the right of
secession, not for love of the slave,—he had no slaves,—but simply
to resist the invasion of the South by the North, simply to prevent
subjugation. The soldier of the rank and file was not always
intellectual or cultivated. He cared little for politics, less for
slavery. He did care, however, for his own soil, his own little farm,
his own humble home, and he was willing to fight to drive the invader
from it. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not stimulate him in
the least. The negro, free or slave, was of no consequence to him. His
quarrel was a sectional one, and he fought for his section.

In any war the masses rarely trouble themselves about the merits of the
quarrel. Their pugnacity and courage are aroused and stimulated by the
enthusiasm of their comrades or by their own personal wrongs and perils.

Now, in January, 1865, the common soldier perceived that the cause was
lost. He could read its doom in the famine around him, in the faces
of his officers, in tidings from abroad. His wife and children were
suffering. His duty was now to them; so he stole away in the darkness,
and in infinite danger and difficulty found his way back to his own
fireside. He deserted, but not to the enemy.

But what shall we say of the soldier who remained unflinching at his
post _knowing_ the cause was lost for which he was called to meet
death? Heroism can attain no loftier height than this. Very few of the
intelligent men of our army had the slightest hope, at the end, of our
success. Some, like Mr. William C. Rives, had none at the beginning.

One night all these things weighed more heavily than usual upon me,—the
picket firing, the famine, the military executions, the dear one "sick
and in prison." I sighed audibly, and my son Theodorick, who slept near
me, asked the cause, adding, "Why can you not sleep, dear mother?"

"Suppose," I replied, "you repeat something for me."

He at once commenced, "Tell me not in mournful numbers"—and repeated
the "Psalm of Life." I did not sleep; those were brave words, but not
strong enough for the situation.

He paused, and presently his young voice broke the stillness:—

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy
name"—going on to the end of the beautiful psalm of adoration and faith
which nineteen centuries have decreed to be in very truth a Psalm of

That General Lee was acutely sensible of our condition was proved
by an interview with General Gordon. Before daylight, on the 2d of
March, General Lee sent for General Gordon, who was with his command
at a distant part of the line. Upon arriving, General Gordon was much
affected by seeing General Lee standing at the mantel in his room, his
head bowed on his folded arms. The room was dimly lighted by a single
lamp, and a smouldering fire was dying on the hearth. The night was
cold, and General Lee's room chill and cheerless.

"I have sent for you, General Gordon," said General Lee, with a dejected
voice and manner, "to make known to you the condition of our affairs and
consult with you as to what we had best do. I have here reports sent
in from my officers to-night. I find I have under my command, of all
arms, hardly forty-five thousand men. These men are starving. They are
already so weakened as to be hardly efficient. Many of them have become
desperate, reckless, and disorderly as they have never been before.

"It is difficult to control men who are suffering for food. They are
breaking open mills, barns, and stores in search of it. Almost crazed
from hunger, they are deserting in large numbers and going home. My
horses are in equally bad condition. The supply of horses in the country
is exhausted. It has come to be just as bad for me to have a horse
killed as a man. I cannot remount a cavalryman whose horse dies. General
Grant can mount ten thousand men in ten days and move round your flank.
If he were to send me word to-morrow that I might move out unmolested,
I have not enough horses to move my artillery. He is not likely to send
me any such message, although he sent me word yesterday that he knew
what I had for breakfast every morning. I sent him word I did not think
that this could be so, for if he did he would surely send me something

"But now let us look at the figures. As I said, I have forty-five
thousand starving men. Hancock has eighteen thousand at Winchester.
To oppose him I have not a single vidette. Sheridan, with his terrible
cavalry, has marched unmolested and unopposed along the James, cutting
the railroads and the canal. Thomas is coming from Knoxville with
thirty thousand well-equipped troops, and I have, to oppose him, not
more than three thousand in all. Sherman is in North Carolina with
sixty-five thousand men. So I have forty-five thousand poor fellows
in bad condition opposed to one hundred and sixty thousand strong and
confident men. These forces added to General Grant's make over a quarter
of a million. To prevent them all from uniting to my destruction, and
adding Johnston's and Beauregard's men, I can oppose only sixty thousand
men. They are growing weaker every day. Their sufferings are terrible
and exhausting. My horses are broken down and impotent. General Grant
may press around our flank any day and cut off our supplies."

As a result of this conference General Lee went to Richmond to make one
more effort to induce our government to treat for peace. It was on his
return from an utterly fruitless errand that he said:—

"I am a soldier! It is my duty to obey orders;" and the final disastrous
battles were fought.

It touches me to know now that it was after this that my beloved
commander found heart to turn aside and bring me comfort. No one knew
better than he all I had endeavored and endured, and my heart blesses
his memory for its own sake. At this tremendous moment, when he had
returned from his fruitless mission to Richmond, when the attack on
Fort Steadman was impending, when his slender line was confronted by
Grant's ever increasing host, stretching twenty miles, when the men were
so starved, so emaciated, that the smallest wound meant death, when his
own personal privations were beyond imagination, General Lee could spend
half an hour for my consolation and encouragement.

Cottage Farm being on the road between headquarters and Fort Gregg,—the
fortification which held General Grant in check at that point,—I saw
General Lee almost daily going to this work or to Battery 45.

I was, as was my custom, sewing in my little parlor one morning, about
the middle of March, when an orderly entered, saying:—

"General Lee wishes to make his respects to Mrs. Pryor." The general
was immediately behind him. His face was lighted with the anticipation
of telling me his good news. With the high-bred courtesy and kindness
which always distinguished his manner, he asked kindly after my welfare,
and taking my little girl in his arms, began gently to break his news
to me:—

"How long, madam, was General Pryor with me before he had a furlough?"

"He never had one, I think," I answered.

"Well, did I not take good care of him until we camped here so close to

"Certainly," I said, puzzled to know the drift of these preliminaries.

"I sent him home to you, I remember," he continued, "for a day or two,
and you let the Yankees catch him. Now he is coming back to be with you
again on parole until he is exchanged. You must take better care of him
in future."

I was too much overcome to do more than stammer a few words of thanks.

Presently he added, "What are you going to say when I tell the general
that in all this winter you have never once been to see me?"

"Oh, General Lee," I answered, "I had too much mercy to join in your
buttermilk persecution!"

"Persecution!" he said; "such things keep us alive! Last night, when
I reached my headquarters, I found a card on my table with a hyacinth
pinned to it, and these words: 'For General Lee, with a kiss!' Now," he
added, tapping his breast, "I have here my hyacinth and my card—_and I
mean to find my kiss_!"

He was amused by the earnest eyes of my little girl, as she gazed into
his face.

"They have a wonderful liking for soldiers," he said. "I knew one little
girl to give up all her pretty curls willingly that she might look like
Custis! 'They _might_ cut my hair like Custis's,' she said. Custis!
whose shaven head does not improve him in any eyes but hers."

His manner was the perfection of repose and simplicity. As he talked
with me, I remembered that I had heard of this singular calmness. Even
at Gettysburg and at the explosion of the crater he had evinced no
agitation or dismay. I did not know then, as I do now, that nothing had
ever approached the anguish of this moment, when he had come to say an
encouraging and cheering word to me, after abandoning all hope of the
success of the cause.

After talking awhile and sending a kind message to my husband, to greet
him on his return, he rose, walked to the window, and looked over the
fields,—the fields through which, not many days afterward, he dug his
last trenches!

I was moved to say, "You only, General, can tell me if it is worth my
while to put the ploughshare into those fields."

"Plant your seeds, madam," he replied; sadly adding, after a moment,
"The doing it will be some reward."

I was answered. I thought then he had little hope. I now know he had

He had already, as we have seen, remonstrated against further
resistance—against the useless shedding of blood. His protest had been
unheeded. It remained for him now to gather his forces for endurance to
the end.

Twenty days afterward his headquarters were in ashes; he had led his
famished army across the Appomattox, and telling them they had done
their duty and had nothing to regret, he had bidden them farewell


The day drew near when the husband and father of our little family was
to be restored to his own home and his own people. Paroled, and not yet
exchanged, we could hope for a brief visit from him. John was in a great
state over the possibilities of a welcoming banquet. Peas, beans, flour,
sorghum molasses,—these in small quantity he might hope to command. A
nourishing soup could be made of the peas, and if only he could "find"
an egg, he could mix it with sorghum and bake it in an unshortened open
crust for dessert. But the meat course!

Just at this critical moment a hapless duck ventured too near John's
acquisitive hand while he was on one of his prowling expeditions. This
he perfectly roasted and presented to me to be sacredly kept until
the general's arrival. Accordingly I hid it away in a small safe with
wire-netting doors, and judiciously covered it over with a cloth lest
some child or visitor should be led into irresistible temptation.

We were all expectation and excitement when a lady drove up and asked
for shelter, as she had been "driven in from the lines." Shelter and
lodging I could give by spreading quilts on the parlor floor—but,
alas, my duck! Must my precious duck be sacrificed upon the altar of
hospitality? I peeped into the little safe to assure myself that I could
manage to keep it hidden, and behold, it was gone! Not until next day,
when it was placed before my husband with a triumphant flourish (our
unwelcome guest had departed), did I discover that John had stolen it!
"Why, there's the duck!" I exclaimed.

"'Course here's the duck!" said John, respectfully. "Ducks got plenty
of sense. They knows as well as folks when to hide."

We found our released prisoner pale and thin, but devoutly thankful
to be at home. Mr. Connolly and the officers around us called in the
evening, keenly anxious to hear his story and heartily expressing their
joy at his release. My friends in Washington had wished to send me
some presents, but my husband declined them, accepting only two cans
of pineapple. Mr. Connolly sent out for the "boys in the yard" and
assisted me in dividing the fruit into portions, so each one should
have a bit. It was served on all the saucers and butter plates we could
find, and Mr. Connolly himself handed the tray around, exclaiming, "Oh,
lads! it is just the _best_ thing you ever tasted!" Then each soldier
brought forth his brier-root and gathered around the traveller for his
story. His story was a thrilling one—of his capture, his incarceration,
his comrades; finally of the unexpected result of the efforts of his
ante-bellum friends, Washington McLean and John W. Forney, for his

It was ascertained by these friends in Washington that he was detained
as hostage for the safety of some Union officer whom the Confederate
government had threatened to put to death. This situation of affairs
left General Pryor in a very dangerous position. Southern leaders were
inclined to take revenge upon some prominent Union soldiers in their
prisons, and Stanton stood ready to take counter-revenge upon the body
of "Harry Hotspur." Washington McLean, the editor and proprietor of
the _Cincinnati Enquirer_, had met my husband while he was in Congress,
and learned "to like and love him," as one expressed it. Realizing the
gravity of his friend's situation, Mr. McLean, having first approached
General Grant, who positively refused to consider General Pryor's
release, resolved to appeal to Mr. Stanton. He found Mr. Stanton in
the library of his own home, with his daughter in his arms, and the
following conversation ensued:—

"This is a charming fireside picture, Mr. Secretary! I warrant that
little lady cares nothing for war or the Secretary of War! She has her
father, and that fills all her ambition."

"You never said a truer word, did he, pet?" pressing the curly head
close to his bosom.

"Well, then, Stanton, you will understand my errand. There are curly
heads down there in old Virginia weeping out their bright eyes for a
father loved just as this pretty baby loves you."

"Yes, yes! Probably so," said Stanton.

"Now—there's Pryor—"

But before another word could be said, the Secretary of War pushed the
child from his knee and thundered:—

"He shall be hanged! Damn him!"

But he had reckoned without his host when he supposed that Washington
McLean would not appeal from that verdict. Armed with a letter of
introduction from Horace Greeley, Mr. McLean visited Mr. Lincoln. The
President remembered General Pryor's uniformly generous treatment of
prisoners who had, at various times, fallen into his custody, especially
his capture at Manassas of the whole camp of Federal wounded, surgeons
and ambulance corps, and his prompt parole of the same. Mr. Lincoln
listened attentively, and after ascertaining all the facts, issued an
order directing Colonel Burke, the commander at Fort Lafayette, to
"deliver Roger A. Pryor into the custody of Colonel John W. Forney,
Secretary of the Senate, to be produced by him whenever required."

Armed with this order, Mr. McLean visited Fort Lafayette, where he found
his friend in close confinement in the casemate with other prisoners.
Mr. McLean immediately secured his release and accompanied him to
Washington and to Colonel Forney's house.

As is now well known, even a presidential command did not stand in the
way of Stanton's vengeance. When he learned of General Pryor's release,
his rage was unbounded, and he immediately issued orders to seize the
prisoner wherever found, and announced his intention of hanging him, as
a response to the threats of the Southern leaders. Colonel Forney was
advised of this condition of affairs, and at his request his secretary,
John Russell Young, afterwards Minister to China, went to the offices of
the various Washington newspapers and gave each journal a brief account
of how General Pryor had passed through Washington that evening, and
under parole had entered into the rebel lines. As a matter of fact,
he was at that time in Colonel Forney's house, and remained there for
two more days. Stanton, however, was made to believe that his prey had
escaped him, and therefore abandoned his hunt.

At that time John Y. Beall, a Confederate officer, was confined with
General Pryor, having been, it was supposed, implicated in a conspiracy
to set fire to hotels and museums in New York, derail and fire railroad
trains. Young Beall protested innocence, but finally he was arrested,
tried by court-martial, and sentenced to be hanged. He belonged to an
influential Southern family, and was held in high esteem south of Mason
and Dixon's line. Some of the officials of the Confederacy served notice
on Secretary of War Stanton that if Beall was hanged, they would put
the rope around the necks of a number of prominent Northern soldiers
who at that time were in their custody. But the stern Stanton was
relentless, and he only sent back word that if the threat was carried
into execution, he would hang Pryor. Mr. McLean became interested in
young Beall's fate, and suggested that if General Pryor would make a
personal appeal in his behalf to President Lincoln, his execution might
probably be prevented. To that end, Mr. McLean telegraphed a request
to Mr. Lincoln, that he accord General Pryor an interview, to which
a favorable response was promptly returned. The next evening General
Pryor, with Mr. McLean and Mr. Forney, called at the White House, and
were graciously received by the President. General Pryor at once opened
his intercession in behalf of Captain Beall; but although Mr. Lincoln
evinced the sincerest compassion for the young man and an extreme
aversion to his death, he felt constrained to yield to the assurance
of General Dix, in a telegram just received, that the execution was
indispensable to the security of the Northern cities. Mr. Lincoln then
turned the conversation to the recent conference at Hampton Roads, the
miscarriage of which he deplored with the profoundest sorrow. He said
that had the Confederate government agreed to the reëstablishment of
the Union and the abolition of slavery, the people of the South might
have been compensated for the loss of their negroes and would have
been protected by a universal amnesty, but that Mr. Jefferson Davis
made the recognition of the Confederacy a condition _sine qua non_ of
any negotiations. Thus, he declared, would Mr. Davis be responsible
for every drop of blood that should be shed in the further prosecution
of the war, a futile and wicked effusion of blood, since it was then
obvious to every sane man that the Southern armies must be speedily
crushed. On this topic he dwelt so warmly and at such length that
General Pryor inferred that he still hoped the people of the South would
reverse Mr. Davis's action, and would renew the negotiations for peace.
Indeed, he declared in terms that he could not believe the senseless
obstinacy of Mr. Davis represented the sentiment of the South. It was
apparent to General Pryor that Mr. Lincoln desired him to sound leading
men of the South on the subject. Accordingly, on the general's return
to Richmond, he did consult with Senator Hunter and other prominent men
in the Confederacy, but with one voice they assured him that nothing
could be done with Mr. Davis, and that the South had only to await the
imminent and inevitable catastrophe.

The inevitable catastrophe marched on apace.

On the morning of April 2 we were all up early that we might prepare
and send to Dr. Claiborne's hospital certain things we had suddenly
acquired. An old farmer friend of my husband had loaded a wagon with
peas, potatoes, dried fruit, hominy, and a little bacon, and had sent
it as a welcoming present. We had been told of the prevalence of scurvy
in the hospitals, and had boiled a quantity of hominy, and also of dried
fruit, to be sent with the potatoes for the relief of the sick.

My husband said to me at our early breakfast:—

"How soundly you can sleep! The cannonading was awful last night. It
shook the house."

"Oh, that is only Fort Gregg," I answered. "Those guns fire incessantly.
I don't consider them. You've been shut up in a casemate so long you've
forgotten the smell of powder."

Our father, who happened to be with us that morning, said:—

"By the bye, Roger, I went to see General Lee, and told him you seemed
to be under the impression that if your division moves, you should go
along with it. The general said emphatically: 'That would be violation
of his parole, Doctor. Your son surely knows he cannot march with the
army until he is exchanged.'"

This was a great relief to me, for I had been afraid of a different

After breakfast I repaired to the kitchen to see the pails filled for
the hospital, and to send Alick and John on their errand.

Presently a message was brought me that I must join my husband, who
had walked out to the fortification behind the garden. I found a low
earthwork had been thrown up during the night still nearer our house,
and on it he was standing. My husband held out his hand and drew me
up on the breastwork beside him. Negroes were passing, wheeling their
barrows, containing the spades they had just used. Below was a plain,
and ambulances were collecting and stopping at intervals. Then a
slender gray line stretched across under cover of the first earthwork
and the forts. Fort Gregg and Battery 45 were belching away with all
their might, answered by guns all along the line. While we gazed on
all this, the wood opposite seemed alive, and out stepped a division
of bluecoats—muskets shining and banners flying in the morning sun. My
husband exclaimed: "My God! What a line! They are going to fight here
right away. Run home and get the children in the cellar."

When I reached the little encampment behind the house, I found the
greatest confusion. Tents were struck, and a wagon was loading with

Captain Glover rode up to me and conjured me to leave immediately. I
reminded him of his promise not to allow me to be surprised.

"We are ourselves surprised," he said; "believe me, your life is
not safe here a moment." Tapping his breast, he continued, "I bear
despatches proving what I say."

I ran into the house, and with my two little children I started
bareheaded up the road to town. I bade the servants remain. If things
grew warm, they had the cellar, and perhaps their presence would save
their own goods and mine, should the day go against us. The negroes, in
any event, would be safe.

The morning was close and warm, and as we toiled up the dusty road,
I regretted the loss of my hat. Presently I met a gentleman driving
rapidly from town. It was my neighbor, Mr. Laighton.

He had removed his wife and little girls to a place of safety and was
returning for me. He proposed, as we were now out of musket range,
that I should rest with the children under the shade of a tree, and he
would return to the house to see if he could save something—what did
I suggest? I asked that he would bring a change of clothing for the
children and my medicine chest.

As we waited for his return, some terrified horses dashed up the road,
one with blood flowing from his nostrils. When Mr. Laighton finally
returned, he brought news that he had seen my husband, that my boys were
safe with him, that all the cooked provisions were spread out for the
passing soldiers, and that more were in preparation; also that he had
promised to take care of me, and to leave the general free to dispense
these things judiciously. John had put the service of silver into the
buggy, and Eliza had packed a trunk, for which he was to return. This
proved to be the French trunk, in which Eliza sent a change of clothing.

When Mr. Laighton asked where he should go with us, I had no suggestion
to make. Few of my friends were in the town, which was filled with
refugees. My dear Mrs. Meade or Mr. Charles Campbell would, I was
sure, shelter us in an extremity. I decided to drive slowly through the
crowded streets, looking out for some sign of lodgings to let. Presently
we met a man who directed us to an empty house, and there, dumping the
silver service in the front porch, Mr. Laighton left us. About noon
I had my first news from the seat of war. John and Alick appeared,
the latter leading Rose by a rope. John was to return (he had come to
bring me some biscuits and my champagne glasses!), but Alick positively
rebelled. Go back! No, _marm_, not if he knew his name was Alick. His
mammy had never borned him to be in no battle! And walking off to give
Rose a pail of water, he informed her that "You'n me, Rose, is the only
folks I see anywhar 'bout here with any sense."

Neighbors soon discovered us; and to my joy I found that Mrs. Gibson,
Mrs. Meade, and Mr. Bishop—one of my father's elders—were in their own
houses, very near my temporary shelter.

Our father, I learned afterwards, was with the hospital service of his
corps, and had been sent to the rear. I sent John back to the farm,
strictly ordering that the flag should be cared for. He told me it
was safe. He had hidden it under some fence rails in the cellar. As
to the battle, he had no news, except that "Marse Roger is giving away
everything on the earth. All the presents from the farmer will go in a
little while."

In the evening my little boys, envoys from their father, came in with
confidential news. The day had gone against us. General Lee was holding
the line through our garden. The city would be surrendered at midnight.
Their father was giving all our stores of food and all his Confederate
money to the private soldiers, a fact which evidently impressed them
most of all.

I have told the thrilling story of the ensuing events elsewhere. Having
been compelled to repeat much, I must now hasten on,—only briefly
recording my husband's recapture, release on parole, and continued
recapture every time the occupying troops were replaced by a new

The day the Federals entered the town I saw our precious banner borne in
triumph past the door. The dear Petersburg women had made it and given
it to their brave defender; it was coming back, amid shouts and songs
of derision, a captive! As the troops passed they sang, to their battle

     "John Brown's body is a-mouldering in the ground,
               As we go marching on!
     Oh, glory hallelujah,
               As we go marching on!"

And down the line the tune was caught by advancing soldiers:—

     "Hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree,
           As we go marching on.
     Oh, glory hallelujah," etc.

"Ole Uncle Frank's at de bottom of dis business," said Alick; and alas!
we had reason to believe that the wily old gentleman—whom we had left
hiding in the cellar and imploring "for Gawd's sake, Jinny, bring me a
gode o' water"—had purchased favor by revealing the hiding-place of our

Early that morning German soldiers had rushed into our house demanding
prisoners. My husband was marched off to headquarters, and the parole
written by Mr. Lincoln himself on a visiting-card respected. The morning
was filled with exciting incidents. Our English "colonel" came early:
"To say good-by, madam! It's a shame!—and all just a question of bread
and cheese—nothing but bread and cheese!"

We sat all day in the front room, watching the splendidly equipped host
as it marched by on its way to capture Lee. It soon became known that we
were there. Within the next few days we had calls from old Washington
friends. Among others my husband was visited by Elihu B. Washburne and
Senator Henry Wilson, afterward Vice-president of the United States with
General Grant. These paid long visits and talked kindly and earnestly
of the South.

Mr. Lincoln soon arrived and sent for my husband. But General Pryor
excused himself, saying that he was a paroled prisoner, that General
Lee was still in the field, and that he could hold no conference with
the head of the opposing army.

The splendid troops passed continually. Our hearts sank within us. We
had but one hope—that General Lee would join Joseph E. Johnston and find
his way to the mountains of Virginia, those ramparts of nature which
might afford protection until we could rest and recruit.

Intelligence of the death of President Lincoln reached Petersburg on the
17th of April. As he had been with us but a few days before, manifestly
in perfect health and in all the glow and gladness of the triumph of the
Federal arms, the community was unspeakably shocked by the catastrophe.
That he fell by the hand of an assassin, and that the deed was done by a
Confederate and avowedly in the interest of the Confederate cause, were
circumstances which distressed us with an apprehension that the entire
South would be held responsible for the atrocious occurrence. The day
after the tragic news reached us, the people of Petersburg in public
meeting adopted resolutions framed by General Pryor, deploring the
President's death and denouncing his assassination,—resolutions which
gave expression to the earnest and universal sentiment of Virginia.
I question if, in any quarter of the country, the virtues of Abraham
Lincoln—as exhibited in his spirit of forgiveness and forbearance—are
more revered than in the very section which was the battle-ground of
the fight for independence of his rule. It is certainly my husband's
conviction that had he lived, the South would never have suffered the
shame and sorrow of the carpet-bag régime.


My condition during the military occupation of Petersburg was extremely
unpleasant. I was alone with my children when General Sheridan demanded
my house for an adjutant's office. Such alarming rumors had reached us
of outrages committed by marauding parties in the neighboring counties
that my husband had obtained an extension of his parole to visit his
sisters in Nottoway County. His first information of them was from
finding their garments in a wagon driven by German soldiers, who,
challenged by the barrel of a pistol, made good their escape, leaving
their plunder behind them. The fate of his sisters was not discovered
for some time. They had found means to hide when the thieves appeared.

General Sheridan, meanwhile, kept me prisoner in two rooms for ten
days, and very trying was the experience of those days. He called to
"make his respects" to me the day he left, and although I received him
courteously he was fully aware that I appreciated the indignity he had
put upon me and the record he had made before I met him. He thanked me
for the patience with which I had endured the ceaseless noise, tramping,
and confusion, night and day, of the adjutant's office, and apologized
for the policy he had adopted all through the war.

"It was the best thing to do," he informed me. "The only way to stamp
out this rebellion was to handle it without gloves."

I made no answer. "The mailed hand might crush the women and babes," I
thought, "but never, never kill the spirit!"

However, they departed at last—leaving me a huge gas-bill to pay and a
house polluted with dirt and dust. My husband, still a paroled prisoner,
at the end of his leave of absence returned to me and reported to the

We had made the acquaintance of General Warren, who had been superseded
by Sheridan and was now without a command. We grew very fond of him.
He spent many hours with us. Tactful, sympathetic, and kind, he never
grieved or offended us. One evening he silently took his seat. Presently
he said:—

"I have news which will be painful to you. It hurts me to tell you, but
I think you had rather hear it from me than from a stranger—General Lee
has surrendered."

It was an awful blow to us. All was over. All the suffering, bloodshed,
death—all for nothing!

General Johnston's army was surrendered to General Sherman in North
Carolina on April 26. The banner which had led the armies of the South
through fire and blood to victory, to defeat, in times of starvation,
cold, and friendlessness; the banner that many a husband and lover had
waved aloft on a forlorn hope until it fell from his lifeless hands;
the banner found under the dying boy at Gettysburg, who had smilingly
refused assistance lest it be discovered,—the banner of a thousand
histories was furled forever, with none so poor to do it reverence.

My dear general was not free until Johnston surrendered. His flag was
still in the field, but he was allowed to go to Richmond, twenty miles
away, to seek work of some kind to meet our present necessities. My
servants came in from Cottage Farm, and every one begged to remain and
serve me "for the good" I had "already done them," but this, of course,
I could not permit. My faithful John protested passionately against
accepting his freedom, but I was firm in demanding he should return
to his father in Norfolk. He had earned five dollars in United States
money; I had five more which my little boys had gained in a small cigar
speculation. This I gave him.

"Now don't let me see you here to-morrow, John. Write to me from

The next morning he was gone, and I had a grateful letter from his old
father, who expressed, however, some anxiety about his "army habits."

We had soon occasion to regret the absence of the protecting soldiers.
Almost immediately a tall, lantern-jawed young fellow with a musket
on his shoulder marched in. I was alone, and he walked up to me with a
threatening aspect.

"What do you want here?" I demanded.

"I want whiskey—d'ye hear? _Whiskey!_"

"You'll not get it!"

"Wall, I rayther guess you'll have to scare it up! I'll search the

"Search away," I blithely requested him. "Search away, and I'll call
the provost guard to help you!"

He turned and marched out. At the door he sent me a Parthian arrow.

"Wall! You've got a damned tongue in yer head ef you ain't got no

I repeat this story because my husband has always considered it a good
one—too good to be forgotten!

The time now came when I must draw rations for my family. I could not
do this by proxy. I was required to present my request in person. As
I walked through the streets in early morning, I thought I had never
known a lovelier day. How could nature spread her canopy of blossoming
magnolia and locust as if nothing had happened? How could the vine over
the doorway of my old home load itself with snowy roses, how could the
birds sing, how could the sun rise, as if such things as these could
ever again gladden our broken hearts?

My dear little sons understood they were to escort me everywhere, so we
presented ourselves together at the desk of the government official and
announced our errand.

"Have you taken the oath of allegiance, madam?" inquired that gentleman.

"No, sir." I was quite prepared to take the oath.

The young officer looked at me seriously for a moment, and said, as he
wrote out the order:—

"Neither will I require it of you, madam!"

I was in better spirits after this pleasant incident, and calling to
Alick, I bade him arm himself with the largest basket he could find and
take my order to the commissary.

"We are going to have all sorts of good things," I told him, "fresh
meat, fruit, vegetables, and everything."

When the boy returned, he presented a drooping figure and a woebegone
face. My first unworthy suspicion suggested his possible confiscation
of my stores for drink,—for which my poor Alick had a weakness,—but he
soon explained.

"I buried that ole stinkin' fish! I wouldn't bring it in your presence.
An' here's the meal they give me."

Hairy caterpillars were jumping through the meal! I turned to my table
and wrote:—

     "Is the commanding general aware of the nature of the ration
     issued this day to the destitute women of Petersburg?

                             [Signing myself] "MRS. ROGER A. PRYOR."

This I gave to Alick, with instructions to present it, with the meal,
to General Hartsuff.

Alick returned with no answer; but in a few minutes a tall orderly stood
before me, touched his cap, and handed me a note.

     "Major-General Hartsuff is sorry he cannot make _right_ all
     that seems so wrong. He sends the enclosed. Some day General
     Pryor will repay.

                                              "GEORGE L. HARTSUFF,
                                         "Major-General Commanding."

The note contained an official slip of paper:—

     "The Quartermaster and Commissary of the Army of the Potomac
     are hereby ordered to furnish Mrs. Roger A. Pryor with all
     she may demand or require, charging the same to the private
     account of

                                              "GEORGE L. HARTSUFF,
                                         "Major-General Commanding."

Without the briefest deliberation I wrote and returned the following

     "Mrs. Roger A. Pryor is not insensible to the generous offer
     of Major-General Hartsuff, but _he ought to have known_ that
     the ration allowed the destitute women of Petersburg must be
     enough for

                                              "MRS. ROGER A. PRYOR."

As I sat alone, revolving various schemes for our sustenance,—the
selling of the precious testimonial service (given by the democracy of
Virginia after my husband's noble fight against "Know-nothing-ism"),
the possibility of finding occupation for myself,—the jingling of
chain harness at the door arrested my attention. There stood a handsome
equipage, from which a very fine lady indeed was alighting. She bustled
in with her lace-edged handkerchief to her eyes, and announced herself
as Mrs. Hartsuff. She was superbly gowned in violet silk and lace, with
a tiny _fanchon_ bonnet tied beneath an enormous cushion of hair behind,
the first of the fashionable _chignons_ I had seen,—an arrangement
called a "waterfall," an exaggeration of the plethoric, distended "bun"
of the Englishwoman of a few years ago.

I found myself, all at once, conscious that I must, in this lady's eyes,
resemble nothing so much as the wooden Mrs. Noah, who presides over the
animals in the children's "Noah's arks." Enormous hoops were then in
fashion. I had long since been abandoned by mine, and never been able to
get my own consent to borrow, as others did, from a friendly grape-vine.
My gown was of chocolate-colored calico with white spots. My hair! I
had torn it out by the roots when I was delirious at the time of the
fierce battle of Port Walthall (six miles from Petersburg), which I had
_heard_, my senses being quickened by fever.

Mrs. Hartsuff began hurriedly: "Oh, my dear lady, we are in such
distress at headquarters! George is in despair! You won't let him help
you! Whatever is he to do?"

"I really am grateful to the general," I assured her; "but you see there
is no reason he should do more for me than for others."

"Oh, but there _is_ reason. You have suffered more than the rest. You
have been driven from your home! Your house has been sacked. George
knows all about you. I have brought a basket for you—tea, coffee, sugar,

"I cannot accept it, I am sorry."

"But what are you going to do? Are you going to starve?"

"Very likely," I said, "but somehow I shall not very much mind!"

"Oh, this is too utterly, utterly dreadful!" said the lady as she left
the room.

The next day the ration was changed. Fresh meat, coffee, sugar, and
canned vegetables were issued to all the women of Petersburg. The first
morning they were received I met the wife of General Weisiger trudging
along with a basket. "Going for your rations?" I asked her. "_No_
indeed! I'm going, with the only five dollars I have in the world, to
the sutler's! I shall buy, as far as it goes, currants, citron, raisins,
sugar, butter, eggs, brandy, spice—"

"Mercy! Are you to open a grocery?"

"Not a bit of it"—solemnly—"I'm going to make a _fruit cake_!"

Less, one might think, should have contented a starving woman! The
little incident is characteristic of the Southern woman's temperament.
She can lie as patiently as another under the heel of a hard fate, but
the moment the heel is lifted she is ready for a festival.

All the citizens who had been driven away now began to return—among them
the owners of the house I was occupying, and I was compelled to return
to Cottage Farm. General Hartsuff, to whom I applied for a guard, said
at once:—

"It is impossible for you to go to Cottage Farm; there are fifty or more
negroes on the place. You cannot live there."

"I must! It is my only shelter."

"Well, then, I'll allow you a guard, and Mrs. Hartsuff had better take
you out herself, that is, if you can condescend to accept as much."

I was not aware that Mrs. Hartsuff had entered and stood behind me.

"And I think, George," she said, "you ought to give Mrs. Pryor a horse
and cart in place of her own that were stolen." Before my conscience
could strengthen itself to protest that I had not owned a horse and
cart, the general exclaimed: "All right, all right! Madam, you will
find the guard at your door when you arrive. You go this evening? All
right—good morning."

Mrs. Hartsuff duly appeared in the late afternoon with an ambulance
and four horses, and we departed in fine style. She was very cheery and
agreeable, and made me promise to let her come often to see me. As we
were galloping along in state, we passed a line of weary-looking dusty
Confederate soldiers, limping along, on their way to their homes. They
stood aside to let us pass. I was cut to the heart at the spectacle.
Here was I, accepting the handsome equipage of the invading commander—I,
who had done nothing, going on to my comfortable home; while they,
poor fellows, who had borne long years of battle and starvation, were
mournfully returning on foot, to find, perhaps, no home to shelter them.
"Never again," I said to myself, "shall this happen! If I cannot help,
I can at least suffer with them."

But when I reached Cottage Farm, I found a home that no soldier, however
forlorn, could have envied me. A scene of desolation met my eyes. The
earth was ploughed and trampled, the grass and flowers were gone, the
carcasses of six dead cows lay in the yard, and filth unspeakable had
gathered in the corners of the house. The evening air was heavy with
the odor of decaying flesh. As the front door opened, millions of flies
swarmed forth.

"If this were I," said Mrs. Hartsuff, as she gathered her skirts as
closely around her as her hoops would permit, "I should fall across this
threshold and die."

"I shall not fall," I said proudly; "I shall stand in my lot."

Within was dirt and desolation. Pieces of fat pork lay on the floors,
molasses trickled from the library shelves, where bottles lay uncorked.
Filthy, malodorous tin cans were scattered on the floors. Nothing,
not even a tin dipper to drink out of the well, was left in the house,
except one chair out of which the bottom had been cut and one bedstead
fastened together with bayonets. Picture frames were piled against the
wall. I eagerly examined them. Every one was empty. One family portrait
of an old lady was hanging on the wall with a sabre cut across her face.

To my great joy Aunt Jinny appeared, full of sympathy and resource. She
gathered us into her kitchen while she swept the cleanest room for us
and spread quilts upon the floor. Later in the evening an ambulance from
Mrs. Hartsuff drove up. She had sent me a tin box of bread and butter
sandwiches, some tea, an army cot, and army bedding.

The guard, a great tall fellow, came to me for orders. I felt nervous at
his presence and wished I had not brought him. I directed him to watch
all night at the road side of the house, while I would sit up and keep
watch in the opposite direction. The children soon slept upon the floor.

As the night wore on, I grew extremely anxious about the strange
negroes. Aunt Jinny thought there were not more than fifty. They had
filled every outhouse except the kitchen. Suppose they should overpower
the guard and murder us all!

Everything was quiet. I had not the least disposition to sleep—thinking,
thinking of all the old woman had told me: of the sacking of the house,
of the digging of the cellar in search of treasure, of the torch that
had twice been applied to the house and twice withdrawn because some
officer wanted the shaded dwelling for a temporary lodging. Presently I
was startled by a shrill scream from the kitchen, a door opened suddenly
and shut, and a voice cried: "Thank Gawd! Thank Gawd A'mighty!" Then
all was still.

Was this a signal? I held my breath and listened, then softly rose,
closed the shutters and fastened them, crept to the door, and bolted it
inside. I might defend my children till the guard could come.

Evidently he had not heard! He was probably sleeping the sleep of
an untroubled conscience on the bench in the front porch. And with
untroubled consciences my children were sleeping. It was so dark in
the room I could not see their faces, but I could touch them, and push
the wet locks from their brows, as they lay in the close and heated

I resumed my watch at the window, pressing my face close to the slats of
the shutters. A pale half-moon hung low in the sky, turning its averted
face from a suffering world. At a little distance I could see the
freshly made soldier's grave which Alick had discovered and reported.
A heavy rain had fallen in the first hours of the night, and a stiff
arm and hand now protruded from the shallow grave. To-morrow I would
reverently cover the appealing arm, be it clad in blue or in gray, and
would mark the spot. Now, as I sat with my fascinated gaze upon it,
I thought of the tens of thousands, of the hundreds of thousands of
upturned faces beneath the green sod of old Virginia. Strong in early
manhood, grave, high-spirited men of genius, men whom their country had
educated for her own defence in time of peril,—they had died because
that country could devise in her wisdom no better means of settling a
family quarrel than the wholesale slaughter of her sons by the sword.
And now? "Not until the heavens be no more shall they awake nor be
raised out of their sleep."

And then, as I sorrowed for their early death in loneliness and anguish,
I remembered the white-robed souls beneath the altar of God,—the souls
that had "come out of great tribulation," and _because_ they had thus
suffered "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;... and
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

And then, as the pale, distressful moon sank behind the trees, and the
red dawn streamed up from the east, the Angel of Hope, who had "spread
her white wings and sped her away" for a little season, returned. And
Hope held by the hand an angel stronger than she, who bore to me a
message: "In the world ye have tribulations; but be of good cheer; I
have overcome the world."

The sun was rising when I saw my good old friend emerge from her
kitchen, and I opened the shutters to greet her. She had brought me
a cup of delicious coffee, and was much distressed because I had not
slept. Had I heard anything?

"'Course I know you was bleeged to hear," said Aunt Jinny, as she
bustled over the children. "That was Sis' Winny! She got happy in the
middle of the night, an' Gawd knows what she would have done if Frank
hadn't ketched hold of her and pulled her back in the kitchen! Frank an'
me is pretty nigh outdone an' discouraged 'bout Sis' Winny. She prays
constant all day; but Gawd A'mighty don't count on being bothered all
night. Ain't He 'ranged for us all to sleep, an' let Him have a little
peace? Sis' Winny must keep her happiness to herself, when folks is
trying to git some res'."

The guard now came to my window to say he "guessed" he'd "have to put
on some more harness. Them blamed niggers refused to leave. They might
change their minds when they saw the pistols."

"Oh, you wouldn't shoot, would you?" I said in great distress. "Call
them all to the back door and let me speak with them." I found myself
in the presence of some seventy-five negroes, men, women, and children,
all with upturned faces, keenly interested in what I should say to them.

I talked to them kindly and explained my presence, asking them to
remain, if they would help clean the yard, with the result that Abram
and Beverly, two old men who had known my general in his boyhood,
pledged themselves to stay with me on the terms I suggested.

To my great joy, my dear husband returned from Richmond. There was
no hope there for lucrative occupation. He had no profession. He had
forgotten all the little law he had learned at the university. He had
been an editor, diplomat, politician, and soldier, and distinguished
himself in all four. These were now closed to him forever! There seemed
to be no room for a rebel in all the world.


We found it almost impossible to take up our lives again. All the cords
binding us to the past were severed, beyond the hope of reunion. We sat
silently looking out on a landscape marked here and there by chimneys
standing sentinel over blackened heaps, where our neighbors had made
happy homes. Only one remained, Mr. Green's, beyond a little ravine
across the road.

We had, fortunately, no inclination to read. A few books had been
saved, only those for which we had little use. A soldier walked in one
day with a handsome volume which Jefferson Davis, after inscribing his
name in it, had presented to the general. The soldier calmly requested
the former owner to be kind enough to add to the value of the volume
by writing beneath the inscription his own autograph, and his request
granted, walked off with it under his arm. "He has been at some
trouble," said my husband, "and he had as well be happy if I cannot!"

As the various brigades moved away from our neighborhood, a few plain
articles of furniture that had been taken from the house were restored
to us, but nothing handsome or valuable, no books nor pictures,—just
a few chairs and tables. I had furnished an itemized list of all the
articles we had lost, with only this result.

We had news after a while of our blooded mare, Lady Jane. A letter
enclosing her photograph came from a New England officer:—

     "TO MR. PRYOR,

     "_Dear Sir_: A very fine mare belonging to you came into my
     camp near Richmond and is now with me. It would add much to
     her value if I could get her pedigree. Kindly send it at your
     earliest convenience, and oblige,

                                               "Yours truly,

                                                               "— —.

     "P.S. The mare is in good health, as you will doubtless be
     glad to know."

Disposed as my general was to be amiable, this was a little too much!
The pedigree was not sent, but later the amiable owner of Lady Jane sent
her photograph. Also his own—on her back.

A great number of tourists soon began to pass our house on their way
to visit the localities near us, now become historic. They frequently
called upon us, claiming some common acquaintance. We could not but
resent this. Their sympathetic attitude offended us, sore and proud as
we were.

We were perfectly aware that they wished to see _us_, and not to gain,
as they affected, information about the historic localities on the farm.
Still less did they desire ignobly to triumph over us. A boy, when
he tears off the wings of a fly, is much interested in observing its
actions, not that he is cruel—far from it! He is only curious to see how
the creature will behave under very disadvantageous circumstances.

One day a clergyman called, with a card of introduction from Mrs.
Hartsuff, who had, I imagine, small discernment as regards clergymen.
This one was a smug little man, sleek, unctuous, and trim, with
Pecksniffian self-esteem oozing out of every pore of his face.

"Well, madam," he commenced, "I trust I find you lying meekly under
the chastening rod of the Lord. I trust you can say 'it is good I was

Having no suitable answer just ready, I received his pious exhortation
in silence. One can always safely do this with a clergyman.

"There are seasons," continued the good man, "when chastisement must
be meted out to the transgressor; but if borne in the right spirit, the
rod may blossom with blessings in the end."

A little more of the same nature wrung from me the query, "Are there
none on the other side who need the rod?"

"Oh—well, now—my dear lady! You must consider! You were in the wrong in
this unhappy contest, or, I should say, this most righteous war."

"_Væ victis!_" I exclaimed. "Our homes were invaded. We are on our own

My reverend brother grew red in the face. Rising and bowing himself out,
he sent me a Parthian arrow:—

     "No thief e'er felt the halter draw
     With good opinion of the law."

Fortunately my general was absent at the moment. Like the Douglas, he
had endured much, but—

     "Last and worst, to spirit proud
     To bear the pity of the crowd"—

this was more than he could endure.

The suggestive odors within doors could never be stifled or cleansed
away. Not before October could I get my consent to eat a morsel in the
house. I took my meals under the trees, unless driven by the rains to
the shelter of the porch. I suffered terribly for want of occupation.
I had no household to manage, no garments to mend or make. My little
Lucy could not bear the sun, and she sat quietly beside me all day. I
could have made a sun-bonnet for her, but I had no fabric, no thimble,
needles, thread, or scissors. Finally I discovered in the pocket of
one of my Washington coats my silver card-case with Trinity Church on
one side and the Capitol at Washington on the other,—objects I had now
no right to hold dear. I made Alick drive me in my little farm cart to
the sutler's and effected an exchange for a small straw "Shaker" bonnet
which I am sure could have been purchased for less than one dollar.
Protected with this, the little girl found a play-house under the trees.
A good old friend, Mr. Kemp, invited the boys to accompany him upon
relic-hunting expeditions to the narrow plain which had divided the
opposing lines on that fateful April morning just three months before.
Ropes were fastened around extinct shells, and they were hauled in,
to stand sentinel at the door. The shells were short cylinders, with
one pointed end like a candle before it is lighted. Numbers of minie
balls were dug out of the sand. One day Mr. Kemp brought in a great
curiosity—two bullets welded together, having been shot from opposing

The sultry days were begun and rounded by hours of listless endurance
followed by troubled sleep. A bag of army "hard-tack" stood in a corner,
so the children were never hungry. Presently they, too, sat around us,
too listless to play or talk. A great army of large, light brown Norway
rats now overran the farm. They would walk to the corner before our eyes
and help themselves to the army ration. We never moved a finger to drive
them away. After a while Alick appeared with an enormous black-and-white

"Dis is jest a lettle mo'n I can stand," said Alick. "De Yankees
has stole ev'rything, and dug up de whole face o' de yearth—and de
Jews comes all de time and pizens de well, droppin' down chains an'
grapplin'-irons to see ef we-all has hid silver—but I ain' obleedged to
stan' sassyness fum dese outlandish rats."

Alick had to surrender. The very first night after the arrival of his
valiant cat there was a scuffle in the room where the crackers were
kept, a chair was overturned, and a flying cat burst through the hall,
pursued by three or four huge rats. The cat took refuge in a tree, and
stealthily descending at an opportune moment, stole away and left the
field to the enemy.

Of course there could be but one result from this life. Malaria had hung
over us for weeks, and now one after another of the children lay down
upon the "pallets" on the floor, ill with fever. Then I succumbed and
was violently ill. Our only nurse was my dear general; and not in all
the years when he never shirked a duty, nor lost a march, nor rode on
his own horse when his men toiled on foot or if one failed by the way,
nor ever lost one of the battles in which he personally led them,—not
in all those trying times was he nobler, grander than in his long
and lonely vigils beside his sick family. And most nobly did the aged
negress, my blessed Aunt Jinny, stand by us. My one fevered vision was
of an ebony idol.

General and Mrs. Hartsuff were terribly afraid of the Southern fevers,
but sent us sympathetic messages from the gate. But as soon as I
could receive him, Captain Gregory, the commissary general, sought
an interview with me. General Hartsuff had sent him to say that it
was absolutely necessary for General Pryor to leave Virginia. He had
never been pardoned. There were men in power who constantly hinted at
punishment and retribution. He had been approached by General Hartsuff
and vehemently refused to leave his family.

"Where, oh, where could he go?" I pleaded. "He does think sometimes of
New Orleans."

"Madam," said Captain Gregory, "there is a future before your husband.
New York is the place for him."

"He will never, never consent to go there," I said.

"Well, then, we must use a little diplomacy. Send him by sea to shake
off his chills. Mark my words—as soon as he registers in New York,
friends will gather around him. Only _send_ him—and speedily. I come
from General Hartsuff."

My Theo was listening to this conversation, and when Captain Gregory
left, he implored me to obey him. Without consulting his father the old
horse General Hartsuff had given me was hitched to the little cart,
and we set forth to find some broker who would lend us a small sum,
receiving my watch and diamond ring as pledges for repayment.

After several failures we found an obliging banker who lent me, upon
my proposed security, three hundred dollars. As I left his office my
hand instinctively sought my little watch to learn the hour. It was
gone!—pledged to send my general to New York. I bought some quinine and
ordered my husband's tailor to make without delay a suit of clothes to
replace the threadbare uniform of Confederate gray. It was difficult
to persuade the wearer to accept the proposition—which was only for the
sea voyage in order to break the chills that shook him so relentlessly
every third day. Nothing was farther from my thought or wishes than a
permanent residence in New York.


It was supposed that my husband would be absent only a week. The
following letter from New York explains his delay:—

     "I had intended leaving here yesterday, but our friend,
     General Warren, invited me for dinner Sunday. I find him in
     a handsome house in a fashionable quarter of the city. Mrs.
     Warren inquired kindly about you. She has two charming sisters
     of our Gordon's age.

     "What will you think when I tell you that several gentlemen
     suggest to me to settle here? Dare I 'then, to beard the
     lion in his den—the Douglas in his hall!' Not in his 'hall,'
     certainly, unless I am very specially invited by him, but
     I might in time wrestle with him, in a court-room. I have a
     mind to try it. 'The world is all before us where to choose.'
     I shouldn't like the Douglas to find out I have forgotten
     all the law I ever knew. Neither would I like my good old
     Professor Minor (if he reads the N. Y. reports) to make a
     similar discovery."

Close upon this letter followed another.

     "I am not yet determined when to return. I was to leave this
     morning, but Mr. Ben Wood of the _News_ has requested me to
     remain a day or two that he might have a talk with me. What
     this means, I am not sure. I conjecture he will propose some
     connection with his paper. By the last of the week you may
     expect me with you."

The last of the week found him still in New York. Early in October he

     "I have accepted Mr. Wood's proposition _for the present_.
     The only difficulty I see is the fact that they refuse me a
     pardon. If they learn that I am writing for the _News_, they
     may send me to keep company with John Mitchell. I understand
     that charges are constantly made against me in Washington.
     Whatever they are, they are false, trumped up to serve some
     sinister purpose. Yet I am resolved not to degrade myself by
     any abject submission. I have never solicited 'pardon,' and
     I mean to approach them with no further overture.

     "I am so glad you liked the box. Don't scold me for
     extravagance. You have suffered long enough for the mere
     decencies of life. I am going to work like a beaver and with
     no other purpose now than to earn a living for my dear wife
     and children. Ambition! The ambition of my life is to have
     my darlings settled in comfort. May God assist me in the

     "My room is at 47 West 12th Street. There you must send my
     winter clothes—and we must try, whatever is left undone, to
     send the boys to school."

But after a week or two he became discouraged at the cost of living in
New York, and wavered again.

     "I feel I cannot bear a long separation from my dear family—my
     darling little ones. And yet how can I maintain them here?
     Is it not a cruel fortune which tears us asunder when our
     delight in each other is about the only source of happiness
     left us in this world? I shall lose, in this hopeless grind,
     all the elastic energy of my mind. I cannot live without you!
     Do you advise me to continue my connection with the _News_?
     Twenty-five dollars a week is a pitiful sum, but how can I
     do better? If I can only procure the comforts of life for my
     family! That is my only object in life—fame, ambition, office,
     all these things I have renounced forever. Is it not hard
     that one should be baffled in so reasonable an endeavor? I can
     leave here at any moment, my connection with the paper being
     that of a mere contributor. I am not at all responsible for
     its course, but only for my own articles."

Early in December my husband wrote me the following letter:—

     "I am still the victim of ague and fever—the worst I ever
     suffered. The chill comes on every alternate day, and during
     its continuance—about two hours—I am tortured with the most
     agonizing nausea, followed by fever. Thus I spend two days in
     every week. Dr. Whitehead attends me and expects to relieve
     me, but meanwhile it is very annoying to be so stricken just
     as one enters the fight.

     "For I _have_ entered the fight! The die is cast—and here I
     mean to remain, 'sink or swim, survive or perish.' This is
     the way it has all come about.

     "Sitting late one night with Mr. Ben Wood in the _News_
     office, he turned to me and said rather abruptly, 'General,
     why don't you practise law? You would make $10,000 a year.'
     I answered, 'For the best of all possible reasons—I am not
     a lawyer.' He replied, 'Neither is C, nor T; yet _they_ make
     $10,000 a year.'

     "Of course the idea of my ever making so great a sum was
     too preposterous for a moment's thought. Nevertheless, Mr.
     Wood pressed the appeal; and being enforced by McMasters of
     the _Freeman's Journal_, it made an impression on my mind.
     I said nothing to you about it at the time, because I had,
     until within the last few weeks, reached no decision in the
     matter. But just then I received an invitation from Mr. Luke
     Cozzens for temporary desk room in his office and the use of
     his library. I have really borrowed books and been studying
     law in my leisure hours ever since I came to the city, and I
     now resolved to make application for admittance to the Bar!
     The application was made by James T. Brady, the most eminent
     of our forensic orators. I was required to make affidavit of
     my residence in the State, and some other formal facts, but
     such was my ignorance of legal procedure that I was unable to
     draw the affidavit, which Judge Barnard perceiving, he kindly
     drew the paper for me. Thereupon the Hon. John B. Haskins—my
     former associate in Congress—was appointed to examine me as to
     my knowledge of Law. Under his lead we went to a restaurant.
     When seated he proceeded, with much solemnity of manner, to
     'examine' me. He asked me, 'What are the essentials of the
     negotiability of a note?' This question I was prepared to
     answer, and did answer to his satisfaction.

     "After a 'judicial pause,' he asked gravely, 'What will you

     "This also I was fully prepared to answer—and entirely to his

     "He asked me no other question. He was apparently satisfied
     with the good sense of my last answer. We returned to the
     Court, and he reported in favor of my application!

     "Still an insuperable obstacle to my practising was an
     inability to procure an office, for my desk room at Mr.
     Cozzens's was not suitable for my new dignity. This difficulty
     has been removed by the offer of Mr. Hughes (an English
     'sympathizer') to allow me the use of one of his two rooms
     for the nominal price of $1 a month in Tryon Row. Both he and
     I have learned since that this is considered an undesirable
     locality—a fact of which we were ignorant, but here I must
     remain until I can better myself. My room is perfectly bare—a
     carpetless floor, plain uncovered table, and three chairs—one
     for myself, and the others for possible clients. Here I have
     swung out my modest shingle soliciting the patronage of the

     "I have commenced attending the Courts regularly and have
     heard the leading lawyers. I am not vain, as you know, but—_I
     am not afraid of them!_ But when, when shall I have a chance?
     The great difficulty in my way is the prejudice against
     'rebels'; and that I am sorry to see is not diminishing. I
     hope to wear it away after a while if, meantime, I do not
     starve. It is my last cast—and I am resolved to succeed or
     perish in the attempt. Several New York papers have spoken of
     my residence here with kindness and compliment, but a silly
     sneer in the _Boston Post_—under which I am fool enough to
     suffer—cut me to the heart, trifling and flippant as it is:
     'The Rebel Pryor has opened an office in New York for the
     practice of the Law, but he has not yet had a _rap_.'—(R. A.

     "Look now for uninteresting letters. It will be study, _study,
     study_, ever after this! I am writing now at night, with a
     languid head. My children—my dear children! How I love them!
     God bless them!"

He wrote, December 28:—

     "My prospects here had brightened a little with the promise
     of a case that would, in time, have yielded me two hundred
     dollars, but a friendly priest (and he was wise) persuaded the
     parties to settle out of Court, and so my hopes were dashed to
     the ground. But I am retained, provisionally, as counsel for
     the National Express Company, from which I may make something.
     My thoughts at Christmas in my lonely office were with my
     precious household at Cottage Farm. How I regretted my want of
     money would not permit me to send some holiday presents, but
     we must bear these privations till happier days. I longed to
     go to you—but had no money to defray the expense of the trip.
     Dearest Sara, let us endure these trials with all possible
     fortitude. If only you can keep happy, I can bear my portion
     of the burden."

In February he wrote me:—

     "To-day I make a reckoning of my earnings since my residence
     in New York. I was admitted to the Bar about the first of
     December. I have been 'practising,' then, about two months
     and a half. Well, my receipts for sundry small services have
     been $356, and I am retained by an express company. I wonder
     if this looks as if we are 'out of the woods.' Unhappily I
     have had to pay a debt incurred when I was in Fort Lafayette,
     and for which I had provided money, but it was embezzled by
     a dishonest quartermaster at the Fort. Then the small debts
     we owed when we left Washington—and which, you remember, the
     Confederate Government 'confiscated' and for which exacted
     payment—have simply waited for me to get work, and these
     I must promptly pay. However, I am hopeful. God grant my
     anticipations may be realized.

     "I have some little money owing to me and some doubtful
     claims, and the Court and lawyers treat me with marked
     courtesy. I study intensely and am as diligent as possible
     in attention to my duties. I mean at least to deserve
     success—which is the surest way to realize it. Kiss the

                                                           "R. A. P.

     "P.S. A client interrupts me! Don't be depressed, Sallie! A
     gleam of light gilds our horizon, which has been dark, God
     knows, long enough. Next summer we must have our _home_, and
     won't it be a happy home? God grant it. God bless us all."

Alas, the next letter announced the fading of the "gleam of light" into
darkness and disappointment.

     "I thought I had two _good_ cases this week, but my clients
     decided not to sue. Oh, how weary I am of this life! But there
     is no escape, and I must not despond. Stimulate the boys to
     diligence in their studies. Is Billy still mischievous? And
     Lucy demure? Ah, Fan! apple of my eye, how I love you! How I
     long to see you all! The bright, the happy day will soon come,
     I pray. Heaven only knows how I pine for my family; but my
     first duty is to feed them, and until that is accomplished I
     must forego every personal gratification.

     "I am convinced the chief obstacle to my success is the
     prejudice against 'rebels.' That is fearful, and I feel its
     effects every day. I was lately employed as a referee to
     report the facts in an application for the discharge of a
     prisoner by the process of _habeas corpus_. When my name as
     referee was announced, one of the counsel arose and protested
     to the Court that he would not appear before a rebel whose
     hands were yet red with loyal blood. Thereupon, of course,
     I declined the appointment. Still, I must toil on, nothing
     disheartened. The memory of the little household at Cottage
     Farm animates and sustains me in my troubles. May God bless
     and prosper us!

                                                          "R. A. P."

My dear aunt had now joined me with my little girls. One night I was
awakened by a voice speaking to me under my window. There stood a negro
man. "Mr. Green wants you right away, madam," he said. "He thinks he's
dying, an' he says he is _obliged_ to see you. I brought a note."

The note from a relative of Mr. Green confirmed the man's statement,
adding: "Let nothing prevent your coming. George will take care of you."

My aunt felt a little nervous at so strange and peremptory a summons,
but at last we decided I must go. She could see me in the moonlight
every step of the way, down the path, across the little bridge at the
bottom of the ravine, and up the ascent beyond. So I dressed hurriedly
and departed.

I found the house in darkness and silence. The lady who had written
me took me into her room and whispered her story. Mr. Green was
extremely ill and in great distress because he had made no will.
The house was full of his relatives, gathered because his death was
expected. He wished to leave everything he possessed to his wife and
youngest daughter, Nannie. He had provided for the others—given them
their portion. He could not secretly summon a lawyer from town. He was
miserably anxious, sleepless, and unhappy.

To-night he had found himself alone with this relative who was nursing
him, and drawing her down to his pillow, had begged her "Send for Mrs.
Pryor—_now_ and quick. She will write for me."

I knew him only by sight, and I was, of course, surprised. But I did not
hesitate. I was at once introduced into his room, and by the light of a
solitary candle burning upon the floor in a corner I dimly discerned the
gray head and closed eyes of the sick man. He was sleeping peacefully,
and we dared not awaken him. Pen, ink, and paper were given me, and
prone upon my elbows and knees in the dim corner, I wrote a will,
repeating faithfully the words I had received, beginning: "In the name
of Almighty God—Amen—I, William Green," etc.

We then awaited in silence the waking of the sick man. Very gently I
told him my errand, and read twice what I had written, asking him again
and again, "Are you sure you do not wish to leave anything whatever
to your other children?" "_No, no, no!_" he answered. I put my arm
beneath him, raised him, and the paper was laid on a pillow before him.
He looked around helplessly. His spectacles! We placed them, and with
the pen in trembling fingers he signed his name, and uttered the last
words he probably ever spoke,—"Three witnesses!" His relative signed,
I signed, and the negro nurse signed with her mark.

"Now I'll send you home," said his friend, when we left the room.
"No," I said, "I can do nothing clandestine. I must stay and tell his
relatives how I come to be here."

Very early they all assembled and I said: "I was sent for by your father
last night to write his will. If it should displease any one of you,
remember he only used my hand. He understood perfectly what he was

"I am sure it is all right, as far as I am concerned," said one. "I have
always known this place was to be left to me."

"I know nothing I can reveal," I assured her.

That day Mr. Green died. His will was admitted to probate and never

Early in February old Abram, the faithful servant in whose care my
husband left me, announced that we had reached the end of all our
resources at Cottage Farm. Rose, the little cow, had died, the turnips
and potatoes Abram had raised were all gone, the two pigs he had reared
had fulfilled their destiny long ago, and the government rations had
ceased. He "could scuffle along himself, but 'twa'n't no use to pertend"
he could "take care of mistis an' the chilluns, not like they ought to
be took care of."

"We must not despair, Abram," I said. "We'll feed the children, never
fear! I must plan something to help."

"Plannin' ain't no 'count, mistis, less'n you got sump'n to work on.
What we-all goin' to do for wood?"

"What you have done all along, I suppose."

"No'm. Dat's onpossible. We done burn up Fort Gregg an' Battery 45. Der
ain' no mo' fortifications on de place as I knows of."

"Fortifications!" I exclaimed. "Why, Abram! you surely haven't been
burning the fortifications!"

"Hit's des like I tell you, mistis. De las' stick's on yo' woodpile now."

"Well, Abram," I said gravely, "if we have destroyed our
fortifications—burned our bridges—the time has come to change our base.
We will move into town."

Of course, without food or fuel, and without Abram, we could not live in
the country. The fields were a desolate waste, with no fences to protect
a possible crop or to keep cattle within bounds. Abram saw no hope from
cultivation—nothing to "work on." He had been a refugee from a lower
plantation, and he was now inclined to put out his children to service,
and return in his old age to his old home and to his old master, who
longed to welcome him. He was a grand old man. I doubt not he has a warm
place in the bosom of that other Abram the faithful, but no whit more
faithful than he.

The afternoon before our departure from Cottage Farm, the weather was so
deliciously balmy that I walked over the garden and grounds, thinking
of the great drama that had been enacted on this spot. The spring
comes early in the lower counties of Virginia. Already the grass was
springing, and on the trees around the well which had so often refreshed
General Lee, tender young leaves were trembling. Spring had come to
touch all scars with her gentle finger-tips. Over all the battle-torn
ground, over the grave of the young soldier who had lain so long under
my window, over the track ploughed by shot and shell, she had spread a
delicate bloom like a smile on the lips of the dead.

Much of my last night at Cottage Farm was spent at the window from which
I had watched on that anxious night of my first home-coming. The home
had been polluted, sacked, desecrated—and yet I was leaving it with
regret. Many a hard battle with illness, with want, with despair, had
been fought within those walls. It seemed like a long, dark night in
which neither sun nor moon nor stars had appeared; during which we had
simply endured, watching ourselves the while, jealous lest the natural
rebound of youthful hope and spirit should surprise us, and dishonor
those who had suffered and bled and died for our sakes.


In March my husband wrote a letter of warm congratulation upon my
success in gathering all our children together, and sent me a sum
to be used in sending them to school. That I might aid my husband to
mend our fortunes, I persuaded seven of my neighbors' children to take
music lessons from me. The boys were entered to Mr. Gordon McCabe—the
accomplished gentleman and scholar so well known and so popular in
England as well as at home. My daughter Gordon entered an excellent
school of which Professor Davis was principal. The older children had
been taught by the Rev. William Hoge, who had been pastor of the Brick
Church on Fifth Avenue, New York. They were well instructed in Greek,
Latin, and mathematics, and eagerly embraced their new opportunities.
Before we left Virginia Gordon graduated in her school, and the boys
took honors of their accomplished preceptor,—Theo winning the first
prize—the Pegram prize, ordained to commemorate Mr. McCabe's colonel,
"who died with all his wounds in front." The children's father longed
all the more—were that possible—for his home. He writes March 15:—

     "Beg Gordon to apply herself diligently to my books—or what
     is left of them. She must read Wilson's 'Essay on Burns,'
     Macaulay's essays—Jeffrey, Wilson, and Sydney Smith. She must
     study Russell's 'Modern Europe,' and must read Pope, Cowper,
     and other poets. I wish her to be the most brilliant girl of
     the day. These accomplishments may stand her in better stead
     than others of mere display. McCabe will push the boys.

     "I know I have written you despondent letters, but I do not
     despair! I am only depressed by my physical weakness and by my
     very great difficulties, _but here I mean to stay!_ It is my
     last cast in the game of life, and if I fail now, all is lost.
     I am writing again for the _News_. I need the money to support
     us. The Law is so slow—so uncertain that I almost despair.
     If I had a little farm in the country and barely enough for
     existence, I would be content, _provided_ I could have my
     family and the enjoyment of their society. You can have no
     idea how miserable is my life here. It is enough to make me
     crazy. I can hardly endure it. I do trust your Christian
     fortitude enables you to bear our misfortunes better than
     I can. You have the children! Roger has written me a sweet
     letter, for which I thank him. I trust they all care a little
     for me! Poor papa, so lonely and sad without his home! Kiss
     them all for me. I love them more than all the world."

The hour before the dawn is always, we are told, a dark hour. This was
a dark hour indeed, but the dawn was near. Alas, there were yet many
nights of darkness, many mornings of fitful dawning, before the sun
rose clearly on better days! My husband's sensitive spirit responded as
quickly to the humor of a situation as to pathos and tragedy. Very soon
after the mournful letter I received the following:—

     "'The Rebel Pryor' has had 'a _rap_' at last—a rap with no
     uncertain significance. I have had a call from a _bona fide_

     "Quite unexpectedly this morning a stalwart and evidently
     brusque person entered, and accosting me asked, 'Is your name
     Pryor?' I had to acknowledge the damaging fact! 'Well,' he
     said, 'my name is "France." Ben Wood has sent me to you to
     argue a case I have in Court. Now I have as many lawsuits as
     any man in the United States, and experience has taught me
     never to retain a lawyer until we have agreed upon all I am
     to pay for his services.'

     "To this I assented, but added that as I did not know what his
     case might be, I could not indicate any terms of employment.

     "He replied, 'I live in Baltimore. I am at the head of all
     the Lottery business in the United States. My business has
     failed, and I'm trying to get discharge under your Two Thirds
     Act.' Now I had never heard of the Two Thirds Act, and had
     no notion what he meant, but this fact, you may be sure, I
     did not communicate to my intending client. At this point I
     made a bad break. I said, 'Mr. France, you know I have been
     practising in New York a very short time, and of course I am
     quite ignorant of the rate of charges here.' Instantly it
     occurred to me that he would draw an inference not only of
     my ignorance of fees, but of the law itself. Fortunately the
     reflection seemed to escape him. My object was, of course,
     to avoid designating the amount of the fee myself. I wanted
     to ask him fifty dollars, but I had a dreadful fear that the
     proposition would drive him out of the office, and I would
     not get even twenty-five,—which I would gladly have accepted.
     I begged him to name the fee, with the assurance of whatever
     it might be I would accept it.

     "He answered, 'I never _prize_' (this he pronounced _price_)
     'any man's labor.' Still I persisted in the endeavor to throw
     the burden of the offer upon him. He became angered, and fumed
     a bit, but finally said:—

     "'Little Owen' (a very able English solicitor who has settled
     in New York in the practice of Bankruptcy and Insolvency
     proceedings)—'Little Owen has served all the citations and
     prepared all the other necessary papers, and all you will
     have to do will be to argue the question of my discharge on
     the return day of the motion, three weeks hence. Now—I will
     make with you the same agreement that I have made with Mr.
     Owen—which is five hundred dollars cash, and one thousand if
     you procure my application.'

     "With the utmost dignity and appearance of reluctance I
     said, 'Mr. France, you have my word that I would accept any
     offer you might make, and of course I will agree to this sum,
     however inadequate the compensation may be.' Going down into
     his pockets he drew out five hundred dollars in notes, which
     he gave me, and which I am sending you through Bob McIlwane.
     Let me know when you receive it. I mean to win the thousand!
     Expect no more long letters! Between this hour and the day of
     argument I shall think of, dream of, no subject on earth but
     the Two Thirds Act!"

He argued the motion and won it. The court and lawyers treated him
kindly, and the judge said, "It is a great privilege to hear a good
argument from an able lawyer!" He was soon employed in other cases.
His letters now exhibited the most hopeful temper. "I am overwhelmed,"
he wrote me, "with business for the Southern Express Company. It keeps
me employed night and day, but so far has yielded me no money. I hope,
however, eventually to get a fee that shall compensate me for all my
labor, so I am encouraged to work on. I am sure of success! I feel
it in me. Let us crowd all sail, and not languish in despair. Did
you ever know any one who lived honestly, worked hard, and exerted
competent talent to fail in any enterprise of life? I think we have
competent ability; as for the rest I am certain; my health is perfect.
The debility which so oppressed me is succeeded by perfect health and

And all because of the one-thousand-dollar fee (half of which he
already owed) from Mr. France, the lottery dealer! Wherever he is,—and
I trust he lives to read these words,—I have for him, now and always,
my grateful blessing.

As for the Express Company,—the brilliant hopes from that quarter melted
as does the baseless fabric of a dream. The company became hopelessly
insolvent, and for the promised fee of three thousand dollars paid its
hard-worked counsel nothing.

The winter of 1866-1867 was marked with fluctuating hopes and
disappointments. The great labor in the interests of the Express Company
had yielded nothing.

     "The Express Company is insolvent beyond redemption [my
     husband wrote me]. This involves a loss to me of $3000—and
     again delays indefinitely the reunion with my family here. I
     am not dismayed, however, _au contraire!_ My present impulse
     is to retrieve the loss by extraordinary exertions. _Work,
     work, work_, is my duty and destiny; your welfare the goal
     that beckons me on. I contemplate nothing else—I desire
     nothing else. I have been unanimously elected a member of
     the Manhattan Club,—an association for the purpose of social
     enjoyment,—but of course the expense is a formidable bar
     to me. I sometimes attend as Mr. Schell's guest, and I am
     received with great kindness.

     "I have met Miss Augusta Evans, the authoress, and I am
     impressed with the goodness of her heart and her devotion to
     learning. Her appearance is extremely pleasing—brown hair, the
     color of yours—fair complexion—blue eyes (I think), a fine
     brow and well-developed head, a figure slight and graceful,
     and of your height. The expression of her countenance is
     serious, almost sad, though it lights up with the animation
     of talk. She is good, modest, sincere, pious. Her devotion to
     the 'lost cause' is fanatical. I think her mind is irregularly
     developed, but she has infinite ambition and will improve.

     "I have also had the great pleasure of seeing Ristori and
     of being presented to her behind the scenes. Her acting is a
     revelation. I could not understand one word of her language,
     but her voice, her exquisite articulation, her expressive
     countenance and gestures, told the story eloquently to my
     uninstructed eyes and ears. How I longed for you! All pleasure
     must be, in your absence, poisoned for me.

     "I have agreed to accept the defence of an unhappy Episcopal
     minister who was arrested in an omnibus for picking a lady's
     pocket! He was about to leave the stage when a voice arrested
     him: 'Stop that man! He has stolen my pocket-book.' The
     pocket-book was found upon him. It is by no means impossible
     that the thief may have dropped it in my client's pocket. So
     although he is miserably poor and can pay me nothing for my
     trouble, my sympathies are enlisted, and I shall do my best
     for him. Think of it! An Episcopal minister!"


     "My wretched client is bailed at last. I am more and more
     persuaded of his innocence, but whether I can make it
     appear in the trial is another thing. The evidence is almost
     conclusive against him. The case is so bad I can hardly expect
     the judge to discharge him. I can acquit him, however, before
     a jury."

Two months later he wrote:—

     "I have refused to be further connected in the case of the
     Episcopal minister, for reasons which it is not proper I
     should disclose even to you. He is now committed to the
     protecting care of a lawyer whose defence will be insanity!

     "Some of the papers made haste to announce that 'the Rebel
     Pryor has been superseded in the criminal case of — by other
     lawyers,' and it was suspected the publication had emanated
     from the prisoner's friends to escape an imaginary prejudice
     against a 'Rebel' advocate. The truth is, I learned facts
     from my client which made me withdraw from the case—facts in
     writing. I indignantly refused any further connection with —.
     His friends wrote me imploring me to stand by him, and it is
     suspected that when they found me obstinate, _they_ instigated
     the newspaper assertion! If so, they have behaved with the
     basest ingratitude, for but for me—services which nobody but
     myself could have rendered—he would long ago have been in
     State's Prison. I voluntarily, and against their remonstrance,
     renounced his case—and for other reasons than an absence of
     reward. What my reasons are neither you nor any other person
     shall ever know. They are in writing, however, and in my
     possession. Of course they know I will be silent unless I am
     forced to act otherwise."

The name of this unhappy clergyman is withheld lest the innocent may
suffer. He was accused of being an accomplished thief, and of concealing
in his left hand a small pair of scissors, which he manipulated with
such skill that he cut into the pockets (then worn in the ample skirts
of women's dresses) and cleverly extracted purses and wallets. His
case was postponed from month to month—and finally he was allowed to
leave the city for his home at the South, where he soon after died—the
presumption being, I imagine, that he was insane.

The close of the year 1866 brought no new hopes for the sorely
distressed little family in Petersburg. By the closest economy, the most
diligent work,—teaching by day, and sewing at night,—the wolf was kept
from the door, and the school bills of the boys paid. Small sums came
occasionally from the heartsick worker in New York,—heart-sick because
of his own impaired strength and health and the loss of many days from
pain and illness, and also his keen anxieties about the future of his
native state.

But at Christmas we were all refreshed by a visit from him, and improved
the hour by entreating that he should abandon the plan of living in New
York. We were most averse to it. There was small hope of our ever being
able to exist in that city of costly living and high house-rents. My
husband forbore to grieve me, at this sacred time, by opposing me. After
he returned to New York, he wrote me:—

                                          "NEW YORK, Jan. 23d, 1867.


     "I am sending you $200, with one hundred and ninety-seven
     of which you must take up a note due Ashwell, the Northern
     sutler. This is what remains of money due him to redeem the
     silver tray from which you parted to purchase shoes for the
     prisoners. Get a receipt in full from him, get the tray, and
     restore it to its place in the service. To raise this amount
     I am sorely pressed. We have had a terribly dull season. I am
     comforted by the good reports of the children. Tell them that
     I rejoice to hear of the good progress in their studies, and
     am particularly delighted with Theo's 'perfect' circular. My
     heart's desire is that the children be perfect in all things.
     Pray write often about them. Gordon writes charmingly, but
     her letters cannot be substituted for yours. Indeed I love you
     all more and more every day of my life, and I would sacrifice
     everything to be with you. Next spring you _must_ join me. Do
     let us make the experiment. By hard work and strict economy we
     may contrive to tide over our difficulties. We must remember
     that we are poor, and must act accordingly. We must be content
     to live humbly. _Anything_ is more tolerable than the life we
     now live. Business of every kind is extremely dull here, but I
     get some practice. I argued on a 'Demurrer' the other day and
     was greatly complimented—the Chief Justice again remarking;
     'it is refreshing to hear a good argument by a good lawyer.'

                                               "Devotedly, R. A. P."

                                                   "March 5th, 1867.

     "MY DEAREST,—To-morrow I will send you a certified cheque for
     $50. Would it were more! For a month I have been extremely
     pressed for money, but I still hope for easier times. My
     income is very precarious. Don't imagine I have the least idea
     of abandoning my experiment here. 'I mean to fight it out on
     this line' to the end of the struggle. My practice increases
     slowly but surely, and is based, I believe, on a conviction
     of my competency. Thank God what I have accomplished, though
     small, has been achieved by my own unaided exertions, and
     without the least obligation to a human being. I have no
     patron. I have never solicited business. My only arts are,
     work and devotion to study. These expedients may be slow of
     operation, but they are sure, and they leave my dignity and
     self-respect uncompromised. I am not conscious of having
     received a favor since my residence in New York—and when the
     victory is achieved, I shall feel inexpressible gratification
     in saying, with Coriolanus, '_Alone_ I did it!' When I speak
     of 'favor' I mean in the way of my profession. Of personal
     kindness I have been the grateful recipient—though not in many
     instances. Judge — was perpetually obtruding his promises
     upon me until at last I told him I needed no help and would
     accept no succor. Of course he is offended. Let him be! All
     his professions of regard are developed to be an interested
     scheme to press me into his service.

     "And now one more word. You must come to me. I cannot live
     without you. Is not poverty better than such an existence?
     May we not live here humbly, but content in one another's
     presence? I do not see that it is possible for me to get
     employment in Virginia. Let us abate something of our pride
     and ambition, and be content to live poorly and obscurely. We
     can at least be sustained by our mutual love and admiration.
     What care we for the world?

                                               "Devotedly, R. A. P."

A very dull season succeeded these brave words. My poor general suffered
greatly from neuralgic pains in his head; no new cases came into his
office. He writes:—

     "I cannot account for it! Everything looks so much less
     promising—but really now I _must_ remain here. I have no money
     to get away! Never before have I been so sick at heart. I
     often fear I can bear no more. I would come to you—supremely
     wretched as I am—but for the fact that I am without money
     to pay my expenses. In truth I haven't a cent in the world!
     Yesterday I had one dollar, but meeting a poor little boy
     about Willy's size with an arm just broken, I gave him the
     last of my fortune. Why my landlord trusts me, I know not. But
     he seems to have faith in me, and is willing to wait until I
     earn something."

This letter was soon followed by another,—indeed he wrote me every
day,—and he hastened to say:—

     "I felt ashamed of my last letter, but the truth is my
     'business' is oppressively stagnant—from what particular
     cause, I cannot conjecture. Whether it be the result of
     accident, or of causes which portend an ultimate failure, I
     cannot pretend to affirm. If a breeze does not come soon, I
     shall be at a standstill. What then? My family is dependent
     exclusively upon my scant earnings. If they fail, I see no
     hope in another quarter. This is the apprehension that kills
     the soul within me. The catastrophe haunts me like a spectre,
     and clouds my spirit with a perpetual gloom. God only knows
     what the event will be—but I should not talk in this strain.
     I shall relax no effort. On the contrary, I never worked as
     strenuously in my life. God willing, my earnest efforts to
     subsist my darling family may yet be successful. It is for
     them I toil, and richly do they deserve every blessing. This
     thought, above all else, encourages me. May God bless them!

                                                "Devotedly, R. A. P.

     "P.S. I see I repeated the sin for which I sought excuses.
     The present lull in my practice I attribute to the general
     stagnation of business. Mayhap the breeze will come before

     "An unwelcome breeze of another kind is now busy near me.
     An immense fire is raging in rather close proximity to the
     'Waverly,' and I have some apprehensions of a move. The Winter
     Garden Theatre and the Southern Hotel are in flames. How the
     boys would enjoy the spectacle! I suppose there are fifty
     steam-engines spouting their streams and thousands of people
     looking on. To-day, for the first time, we have an indication
     of approaching spring, and as they are painting my office, I
     mean to stroll about the city in enjoyment of the sunshine."

He had now lived in New York a year and a half—and had borne the
intense heat of summer in the crowded district. Except for one visit to
Virginia, and an occasional Sunday to Fordham to visit his old comrade
in Congress, Mr. Haskins, he had not left his narrow quarters for any
recreation whatever.


In April my husband exultantly announced that he had "eight little
cases" on the calendar; on May 14 he wrote:—

     "I am over head and ears with work, preparing Mrs. —'s case
     for trial. It is infinitely troublesome; _but_ if I win, my
     fee will be $2000—otherwise nothing."

He did win! In July he received his fee! Within two weeks I had wound
up all my small affairs in Petersburg, kissed "good-by" to my tearful
little band of music scholars, sent my Aunt Mary with my Gordon and
little Mary to "The Oaks" in Charlotte County to spend the rest of
the summer, persuaded my sable laundress, Hannah, that New York was
an earthly paradise, and taken passage thither with her and five of my
little brood.

A hot morning in July found us at City Point before sunrise, waiting for
the _Saratoga_, one of a bi-weekly line of two steam-boats, now coming
from Richmond on its way to New York. The _Saratoga_ and her consort,
the _Niagara_, had the right of way at that time with no competitors,
and could take their own time without let or hindrance. They travelled
the path now traversed by the many fine ships of the Old Dominion Line,
and travelled it alone except for an occasional Clyde boat or two.

As we waited, our noisy little engine puffed away impatiently. The
conductor hoped for a possible passenger for his return trip to
Petersburg, and had arrived at the terminus of his short road too soon.

City Point—lately a place of strategic importance, where the great
ships of the Federal army had anchored, where Mr. Lincoln had been
entertained by General Grant, where General Butler had long made his
headquarters—was now silent and deserted. Two years before the last
of General Butler's gunboats had steamed away. Not a shade tree, not
a "shanty," remained to mark the occupation of the Federal troops. An
unsheltered platform afforded the only place for a traveller to rest
while waiting for the boat, unless he could content himself with the
dust-covered seats in the forlorn little car and the limited view from
the narrow, dirty car window. Out on the platform, seated on his own
boxes, the traveller could see the sweep of the noble James River,
broadened here into a sea as it took into its bosom the muddy waters of
the Appomattox. Landward there was little to be seen except an unbroken
waste of dusty road and untilled field.

At a little distance a thin line of smoke indicated a small log cabin
and the presence of inhabitants. Outside the hut there was a "patch"
of corn and cabbages, and a watermelon vine sprawled about, searching
for the sweet waters wherewithal to fill the plump green melons it had
brought forth. A suspicious hen was leading her brood as far from the
engine as possible, and a pig in an odoriferous pen was leaping on the
sides of his stye and clamoring for his breakfast. Presently a languid
negro woman emerged from the cabin, and stooping over the cabbages,
selected a large leaf, which she proceeded to bind with a strip of
cloth around her forehead. She sauntered toward us and remarked that
it was "gwine to be a mighty hot day." She had risen early, she said,
to see the boat pass. Her son Jim was kitchen boy on the _Saratoga_,
and not allowed to leave the boat, but she could see him and "tell
'im howdy." She "cert'nly thought Sis Hannah lucky to git to go Nawth"
(Hannah was rather rueful and teary, having just parted from a Jim of
her own). "She would cert'nly go Nawth" herself if she wasn't "'bleeged
to stay at the Pint on account of the pig an' chickens an' things." She
was like the two old maids in Dickens's funny story, who lived in the
greatest discomfort in a crowded quarter on the Thames, but could not
even consider the possibility of moving—which they could well afford to
do—because of the trouble of moving "the library," a small collection
of books which any able-bodied market-woman could easily have carried
in her basket.

My own movables were really of less importance than those of my new
acquaintance. Hers represented the entire furnishing of a home—a home
sufficient for her needs. Mine were the melancholy wreckage of a home
which had been enriched with such treasures as are collected in a
prosperous and happy life: only what had been saved by a good neighbor
and a faithful servant from the sacking of our house at Cottage Farm—a
few damaged books, a box of sacred silver, and one trunk, which sufficed
for my own garments and for the slender wardrobes of my children. I was
on my way to keep house in New York with a service of silver and a few
rain-and-mud-stained books which had been picked up on the farm by our
good John.

My heart was heavier than my boxes, as I waited for the boat. All the
sad foreboding letters my general had written me rose up to fill me with
doubt and alarm. He had rented a furnished house and had paid the first
quarter of the $1800 it was to cost us. That sum seemed to me simply
enormous, but he had spent weeks in hunting throughout the length and
breadth of New York for the humble little home of his imagination. This
house was far out on an avenue in Brooklyn. I was afraid of it! I was
apprehensive that a very large hole indeed had been made in the $2000.
Moreover, my heart was sick in leaving Virginia—dear old Virginia, for
which I cherished the inordinate affection so sternly forbidden by the
Apostle. Six years of sorrow and disaster had borne fruit. "Truly," I

     "All backward as I cast my e'e
           Seems dark and drear:
     And forward though I canna' see
           I doubt and fear."

And then I had just parted with my dear aunt and my scarcely dearer
daughters, with old friends and neighbors, with affectionate servants.
And I was _tired_—tired unto death!

But the boat, churning with its great paddle-wheels the muddy waters
of the James, was approaching, the captain and an early riser or
two leaning over the deck railing. My little boys ran gayly over
the gang-plank as soon as it was lowered. Hannah clung tearfully to
her acquaintance of an hour. The gang-plank was hauled in, the great
paddle-wheels turned, and we were off, on our way to our new home.

"Good-by, Dixie," called out my boys.

"Not yet, young gentlemen," said the captain; "we are still in Dixie
waters, and will be until we reach the sea."

As we sat on deck, steaming down the river, the passengers eagerly
scanned the shores and recounted the events of the late war. The last
time I had sailed down this river each point was interesting from
Colonial and Revolutionary associations. Now all these were forgotten in
its later history. Every spot was marked as the scene of some triumph
or occupation of the Northern army—of some disaster or humiliation of
the South.

There were few passengers—three charming young ladies with their mother,
returning home after a visit to the Cullen family of Richmond; a group
of teachers going home to New England for their vacation; a comfortable
negro mammy with her basket, very proud to repeat again and again
that she was "just from Mobile, Alabama," to whom Hannah looked up
with deference and respect; and half a dozen or more tourists from New
York returning from an inspection of the historic places in and around
Richmond. Among these last was an old acquaintance, a Southern man, who
at once sought conversation with me. He had lived in New York before
and during the war. He could not conceal his amazement at the desperate
venture my general was making. "Of all places," he said, "why, why are
you choosing a home in New York?"

"Ask the withered leaf," I answered, "why it is driven by a winter wind
to one place rather than another."

"But practically," he replied somewhat testily, "as a matter of prudence
and common sense—"

"You think, then," I interrupted, "there is small hope for my poor
general in New York."

"New York—" he said slowly and with emphasis, "New York, you will find,
has _no use for the unsuccessful man_."

This was an anxious thought for me to take to my state-room. Once there,
and my restless young ones asleep, I realized the desperate venture
we were making. Nothing had ever been as I wished. With the war, its
causes, its ends and objects, I had nothing to do. My part was solely
with the poverty, the heartbreak, the losses, the exile from home.

An unbidden vision, many a time thrust from me, now arose, insistent.
My early home—all flowers and music and beauty, my opulent life; the
devotion of honored friends—_this_ was my heritage! Of this I had been
unjustly defrauded. Ah, well! It was an old story—the story of another
paradise, another yielding to sinful ambition, another sword, another
parting with happiness and home to encounter difficulty, poverty,
danger! Then, "The world was all before them where to choose a place of
rest—and Providence their guide." Aye! _Providence their Guide!_ This,
this was the anchor of their hope, and must be mine.

We were awakened before dawn by a confusion on deck—the dragging of
heavy ropes, hurried feet, loud shouts. Throwing on my wrapper, I
ascended, to find my little boys already on deck, eager for adventure.
It appeared we had met our consort, the _Niagara_, in a crippled
condition, had thrown her a cable, and were now "put about" to lead her
into port at Norfolk. The rising sun found us slowly returning with the
_Niagara_ in tow; but a few miles from Norfolk she signified her ability
to go on without us, and we resumed our onward journey to New York.

Late in the evening all eyes were turned toward land—and presently
the sky-line of New York emerged from the mists. Very different was
it from the sky-line of to-day. Then we saw only the uneven line of
moderate dwellings of unequal height, broken here and there by the
upward-pointing fingers of the churches. There was no "Brooklyn Bridge"
spanning the East River, no Babel-like towers of the modern sky-scraper,
no great statue—like a bronze figure on a newel-post—of Liberty with her
torch and coronal of stars. (I never did admire Miss Liberty. I always
sympathized with the afflicted sculptor who exclaimed, as his vision
was smitten by the giantess, "If this be Liberty, give me Death.")

We were, after much delay, "warped" into our own berth, and the
"dear old muggy atmosphere" of New York stormed my unwilling senses:
atmosphere thickened and flavored, after a sweltering summer day,
with coal smoke, street-filth, and refuse of decaying fruit and many

But all things were forgotten when we descried the slight figure of my
general on the pier! Very thin and wan did he look, sadly in need of us.
He took us, a party of eight, to a neighboring restaurant for dinner;
and then we crossed the ferry and in the horse-cars, through miles and
miles of lighted streets, we reached our little home, far away on the
outer edge of Brooklyn.

The morning after our arrival we rose early to look about us. We were
in an unsubstantial new house, narrow as a ladder and filled with
unattractive furniture. Hannah agreed to take care of the children, and
I set forth to find a market. After walking several blocks in different
directions I concluded there was no market within reach, and I began to
doubt my ability to provide a dinner. A fat, stolid-looking policeman
strolled near me as I ventured:—

"Can you tell me, Mr. Officer, where I can find an honest butcher?"

"I'll be hanged if I know one," he replied.

I considered. We had brought biscuit and crackers. I must find some milk.

"Can you tell me, then, where I can get pure milk?"

My policeman whistled! I don't know what there was in my appearance that
tempted him to "guy" me, but with a droll twinkle in his eye he said:—

"Now look 'ere, lady! If you was to go on a little further, you'd get
to Flatbush; and then you'd see the mizzable critters standing up to
their knees in stagnant water, with their hoofs rotting off. Sure and
you wouldn't want any of their milk!"

The neighborhood was sparsely settled; a number of vacant lots
surrounded our house, which was one of a row all alike. I reflected
that the people living in those houses must occasionally eat! And so
I walked on and on until I reached a cross street on which cars were
running. There I found a stand of cakes and apples, before which a woman
sat knitting. "My good woman," I said amiably, "are your cakes _plain?_"

She dropped her work and glared at me. "_Clane_, is it! You think I
put dirt in 'em?" Her manner was so threatening that I turned and fled.
Her voice pursued me—"An' the blarney of her;" (mimicking), "'Me good
ooman'! 'Me good ooman,' indade!—the loikes of her!"

What my mistake had been I could not then imagine. I now know that I
had, unconsciously, a manner unwarranted by my appearance. Turning up
a new thoroughfare, I encountered a grocery store, with vegetables and
fruit at the door. There I learned with terror the cost of provisions in
this part of the world. At home I could buy a chicken for 25 cents—here
I must give 30 cents for a pound of him! Whortleberries (the grocer
called them "blueberries") could be bought at home for a few pennies
a quart. Here 20 cents was demanded for a shallow box of withered
specimens. Fifty cents in Petersburg would buy a large beefsteak. I
purchased an infant steak for $1.50, and with this I turned my steps

A small shanty, a squatter's hut, was in the corner of the vacant lot
behind our house. Two or three children were playing in the dirt at the
door, and a goat eating paper beside them. Ah! there was a cow tethered
to a tree not far away!

A kindly-faced Irish woman answered my knock. I frankly told her my
dilemma and she sympathized at once. Her name was Mrs. Foley, and she
would milk her cow in my sight morning and evening, just behind my
house, so I could be sure of the purity of the milk. "An' sure in a wake
ye'll see the darlint fatten," she assured me. And a great comfort was
old Mrs. Foley all the time I lived near her.

I must confess the days passed wearily enough through July and into
August. The heat was extreme and of a depressing quality. We were so
far away from my general's office that his long journey morning and
evening, accompanied by Theo, was exhausting to both of them. I taught
Mary and Roger, but the children were very listless and unhappy. They
found no pleasure in walking up and down the uninteresting sidewalk of
a hot, dreary street. Loneliness, enhanced by the far-off hum of the
city, the mournful fog-horns and whistles on the river, and the not less
depressing sounds from the incessant pianos around us, oppressed us all.
We seemed to find nothing to take hold of, nothing to live for.

I one day found Hannah raining tears into her tubs as she washed our
linen, and having no mind to have my handkerchiefs anointed with other
tears than my own, I essayed to comfort her. Finally she confessed she
had never seen New York. She didn't know if it was "_thar_"—for she'd
"never seen sight of it." Moreover, Jim was writing to ask her what she
thought of Central Park and she "cert'nly was 'shamed to tell Jim she
had heerd tell of it but never set foot in it."

I had an inspiration. "Hannah," I said, "we have a steak for dinner.
You can broil a steak and boil some potatoes and rice in a few minutes.
Come, leave the tubs, run up and dress, and help me with the children.
We will all go to Central Park, spend a pleasant afternoon, and get back
in time for dinner."

We were a large party, and could not get off, having taken a hasty
luncheon, until nearly two o'clock. But the summer afternoons were long
and we had no misgivings. I had no idea of the distance, nor did I know
of any route to the Park, save the horse-car and ferry on our side, a
walk up Wall Street to Broadway, and the lumbering Broadway omnibus with
two horses for the rest of the way. At four o'clock we arrived in sight
of Central Park! A black thunder-cloud came up, and we alighted from
our stage in a drenching rain. Of course we must return without seeing
the Park, but to our joy we found a line of horse-cars waiting at the
gate for return passengers, and dripping wet, we took shelter in one of
these and were soon on our way homeward. At the end of our journey there
was Theo, with umbrellas—now useless, for more thoroughly drenched we
could not well have been,—and his father!—Well, his father was almost in
a state of nervous prostration! Hannah's spirits thereafter were worse
than ever. She lost all interest in work, and spent much of her time
leaning over her area gate and gazing into the street. Once I asked her
what she was looking at.

"Dat po-white-folks creeter hollerin' 'soap fat,'" she answered. "Lawd!
I wonder if dat ole creeter got wife!"

We were both mystified by the street cries. One man we found was _not_
crying: "Frank Potter," "Frank Potter," but "rags, bottles." But another
cry, "Pi-_ap_,—Pi-_ap_," much perplexed us. Finally Hannah brought
in a very hard, knotty, green apple, the "pi-ap" man had given her
as a sample of his wares. "Dar is his 'pi-aps,'" she explained. Light
broke upon my benighted intelligence. "Why, Hannah," I said, "he means
pie-apples!" "Good Gawd A'mighty!" she exclaimed. "Is _dat_ de bes' dey
can do!"

In August she entreated to be sent home. In vain I too entreated. I felt
that this was the last straw! What could I do in this strange city with
no faithful person to leave occasionally with the children? I offered
anything—everything—larger liberty, more wages.

Hannah said solemnly, "You knows I likes you and de chillern—but I can't
stay. I'se _feared_ to stay! I can't live in no place where folks plays
de piano all day Sunday. I'se boun' to git out. Somp'n gwine to happen
in dis Gawd-forsaken place." Then after a thoughtful pause she added
pensively: "_De watermillions is ripe at home!_ I done wrote to Jim to
git me one—a big one—and put it in a tub o' cole water erginst I come."

With Hannah I lost the last link that bound me to the old Virginia of
my childhood, my last acquaintance with the kindly old-time negro and
the dialect so expressive, so characteristic.

I filled her place with an Irish woman who served me faithfully for many
years, and was wont to commiserate me for all I had suffered "with that
nayger in the house." Her scorn of the negro knew no bounds. She never
knew how deeply I mourned my loss.

The pain of parting from friends, the doubt of the future, the dreams of
my early home, filled my heart with anguish; but I had but one consuming
desire—to sustain and strengthen the dear one who had fought so many
battles, and was now confronted with the stern struggle for existence.
To be cheerful for his sake, to press strong hands over my own breaking
heart—this was the task I set for myself.


November found us at the end of a long, dull season. No business had
come into the little law-office—the centre of all our hopes. We had
made no friends among our neighbors, to whom, of course, we had made
no advances. The silence was broken, however, one evening by a visit
from a well-groomed, handsome young fellow, who, with many apologies,
requested an interview with General Pryor.

"So the reporters have found us out," said my general, but he was
mistaken. His visitor had "ventured to call for advice—not legal advice
exactly"—but he wished to know the General's opinion upon a matter of
infinite importance to himself and to his wife. "Doubtless we had heard
his wife singing,"—we had—"she was a fine musician, but one could not
live on music."

To this my husband readily assented. He had a deeply rooted aversion to
the piano, which he believed to have been an invention of the Evil One
in a moment of unusual malignity.

"The question I wish to ask, General," said the young fellow, "is this,
Would you advise me to go into politics, law, or the coffee business?"

"The coffee business, most decidedly," said my husband; "I have tried
the other two and have a poor opinion of both of them."

The interviewer left, perfectly satisfied to enter the coffee business.
Through the open window we could hear the words of a song from the "fine
musician"—presenting, as it were, a solution of the problem:—

     "It is time for the mower to whet his scythe
     For 'tis five o'clock in the morning."

We never learned to what extent politics and the profession of the law
had suffered, nor how much the coffee business had gained. One thing
was certain: the suggestion of the fair singer, so freely given to
the breeze, was not needed by me; for my scythe was always in active
operation before five o'clock in the morning. When "the sun came
peeping in at morn," he always found me up and dressed and ready for
his greeting.

Then—as for many times before and after—our case seemed too desperate
for rest. Often after our slender breakfast not an atom of food was left
in the larder. A mouse would in vain have sought our hospitality. The
corner grocer had once trusted us for provisions as far as twenty-five
dollars' worth, but had taken his seat in the front hall and there
remained until he was paid! The bitter experience was never repeated.
But as surely as the ravens were sent to feed Elijah did the Power
that esteems us of more worth than many sparrows—many ravens—send
us something every day; some small fee for a legal service or for an
article written for the _News_. My general would bring this treasure
home, Anne would be sent on a flying errand for "a bit of a shteak"—and
Mr. Micawber never gathered around his suddenly acquired chops a more
hopeful brood than our own.

Once Mr. John R. Thompson, editor of the _Literary Messenger_ and
later of the _New York Evening Post_, fresh from England, where he had
hobnobbed with Carlyle, Tennyson, and Dickens, came to dinner. I had
little to offer him except a biscuit and a glass of ale. He did not
mind. He had known Edgar Allan Poe, and many another poverty-stricken
genius who had enriched the pages of the _Literary Messenger_ for
sums too pitiful to mention. The straits of scholarly men were
familiar to him and detracted nothing from his interest in the men
themselves. To be sure they were more interesting if they walked the
midnight streets in default of other shelter than the stars (and there
might be worse) like Johnson or Savage or Goldsmith or others of the
Grub-street fraternity;—still, the victims of a revolution were quite
miserable enough to satisfy the imagination. Misery is, after all, more
picturesque than happiness and ease.

John Mitchell, the Irish patriot, was another visitor,—railing against
the English government and declaring he would yet live to "strike the
crutches from the old hag, on the British throne"; talk to which no
stretch of politeness could induce me to listen. I had been taught to
love the good, young queen, of whom the English philanthropist, Joseph
John Gurney, had told me when I, a child of eight years, had sat upon
his knee in my uncle's house in Virginia.

An agreeable old German gentleman, whom we had known in Washington, also
came from New York to see us. "Oh, Pryor, Pryor," he exclaimed, "_how_
could you bring Madam to this mel-_an'_-choly place?"

The place would have been paradise to us if only God would give us bread
for our children. We had come to fear we would never have more—perhaps
not this. The society—exclusively of "Adullamites" like ourselves—was
not conducive to hope and cheerfulness. Very few Southerners were at
that time in New York. We were pioneers. Truly they were all—like the
followers of David—"in distress, in debt, and discontented."

Just at this anxious time I received a letter from my dear Aunt Mary.
She felt that she was incurably ill. While she had strength, she would
come, place Gordon safely in her father's house, and then die in my
arms! In a few days she would arrive in New York and I must meet her at
the boat with provision for having her borne to a carriage.

This was overwhelming news. How could I provide comforts for my more
than mother? There was but one thing left us. We must pledge our service
of silver—a testimonial service with a noble inscription, presented, we
remember, to my general by the Democratic party of Virginia after he had
fought a good fight against the peril threatened by the "Know Nothing"
party. This silver was very precious. Sell it we could not, but perhaps
we could borrow a few hundred dollars, giving it as security.

The idea of a pawn-broker never occurred to us. It seems to me now that
I had then never heard of a pawn-broker!

But not a great many years before this, as we remember, when I was
fifteen years old, this dear aunt who had reared me had suddenly
discovered that the child was a woman. She must see the world. She
must travel to Niagara Falls, visit all the great cities and see their
museums, libraries, theatres, what not; she must have hats from Mme.
Viglini in New York, gowns from Mrs. McComas in Baltimore,—and jewels
from Tiffany's. From the latter my adoptive father had bought me lovely
turquoise, rubies, white topaz necklaces, and jewelled combs. Surely,
I now thought, this will be the place where I may be remembered and
find some kindness. Accordingly I repaired thither and made my plea. I
was told, of course, that the firm must see the silver. Naturally none
of the gentlemen who talked with me could remember ever having heard
of me before. I must send the silver and then return for my answer.
Accordingly I boxed it, sent it, and on the third day presented myself—a
very wistful figure—at the silver counter. A tall young man, whose name
I learned afterwards, said to me with some hauteur, "Madam, we have
weighed your silver, and will allow you $540 for it."

"I will redeem it soon, I hope," I answered.

"Redeem it! Madam, this is not a pawnshop! We _buy_ silver."

"Then will I not get it back again?"

"Certainly not!"

I hesitated. My need was sore—but oh, to part forever with this sacred
inheritance for my children!

"You had as well realize," said my tall young man,—and he looked to
me colossal,—"that you will never have occasion to use silver again.
You had as well let it go to the crucible first as last. You will, of
course, be obliged to live humbly hereafter, and—"

But I had risen in great wrath against him. Flushed and indignant I
retorted, "You mistake, sir! I shall use my silver again! I shall not
live humbly always," and left the store.

But once again on the sidewalk with the sharp November wind blowing
in my face I remembered my dear invalid. I remembered my cold house,
in which there had been provided no furnace, no stove, nothing but
open grates for heating. I knew then as well as I know now that the
firm was in no wise responsible for the discourteous language of its
representative. I had only happened to encounter a fanatic, a hater of
the South,—and it was not the first time. Possibly should I return and
seek another one of the corps of clerks I might fare better. But no! I
would perish first.

Just at this moment I recollected that my dear old chaplain-father had
said, in bidding me good-by, "If you ever need a friend, you may advise
with _my_ friend in New York—Henry Corning."

This sent me to a directory in a near-by drug store, where I found
"Corning" and an address to a bank on Broadway. I repaired thither,
and was directed to a private room, where a venerable gentleman rose
to greet me and offer me a seat. I was very tired and miserable, but I
told my errand as best I could.

"I have not the pleasure of knowing your father," said the gentleman,
looking at me kindly through his spectacles (and down went the mercury
of all my courage), "but," he added, "I think my nephew, Henry Corning,
is your man. I have heard him speak of the Rev. Dr. Pryor. I will give
you his address. _My_ name is Jasper Corning."

I am sure there were tears in my eyes when he looked up, as he handed
me a slip of paper, for he added kindly: "I feel certain Henry will not
fail you. Don't despair! God is good."

Another omnibus ride brought my heavy heart to the door of Mr. Henry
Corning, in Madison Avenue. He was sitting at his desk on the ground
floor—and without one word of response to my simply told story turned
to his desk and wrote his check for $500!

"I will send you the silver immediately," I said—but he only bowed, and
with "My regards to your father," he allowed me to take leave.

I called at Tiffany's on my return, gave an order at the desk, paid the
cartage, and ordered the silver to be addressed to Mr. Corning.

When the time came, a year afterwards, for me to redeem it, I saw Mr.
Corning again, thanked him for his kindness, and said, "I am now ready
to redeem the silver." He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and
asked, "What silver?"

"Surely," I exclaimed in great alarm, "surely you received it."

"Oh, well," he replied, "if you say so, I suppose it is all right. I
have never seen your silver. There's a box there in the corner. The box
has not been opened since you sent it."

My dear aunt had her wish. She died in my house. She was ill a long
time. Through the kindness of a Southern friend I was introduced to Dr.
Rosman, who attended her with devotion and skill. He was the gentlest
and kindest of physicians. He admired and appreciated her, and truly
she was a _grande dame_ in every respect; courteous, dignified, and
beautiful, even at sixty years of age.

     "When faith and Hope, which parting from her never
     Had ripened her just soul to dwell with God,
     Her alms and deeds and all her great endeavor
     Were never lost, nor in the grave were trod."

She lives, I humbly trust, in two children of her adoption, who owe to
her all they are or ever hope to be.

The struggle, the wounds, the defeats we suffer at each other's hands
may all be classed under the head of battles,—battles where the ultimate
defeat or victory is in our own hands,—in the harm or good done to our
souls. The fight in the field ended, hostility, hatred, bitterness,
should also end; but, alas, the battles of prejudice, resentment for
unforgiven injuries, may continue for years. Some of these my story
compels me to record, but as old Thomas Fuller quaintly says: "These
battles are here inserted, not with any intent (God knows my heart) to
perpetuate the odious remembrance of mutual wrongs, that heart-burnings
may remain when house-burnings have ceased, but only to raise our
gratitude to God that so much strife should have raged in the bosom of
so fair a land, and yet so few scars remain."


While these sad days and nights of heaviness hung over us, we were
painfully conscious that some of our own people misunderstood my
husband's position in New York. Our having left Virginia was resented
at the time, and now General Pryor's avowed belief that the salvation
of the South could only be assured by acquiescence in the inevitable,
and in the full exercise of justice to the negro, was most unacceptable.
This was before the right of suffrage had been conceded to the negro; in
the interval between the fall of the Confederacy and the Reconstruction
period,—an interval during which the South was in a condition of
resentment and agitation which portended a possible renewal of the
conflict,—one of General Pryor's friends wrote him of the feeling
against him and the cause.

The following answer to this letter was sent by my husband to the
_Richmond Whig_, and puts him on record before the world at a time when
such opinions were decidedly adverse to the feelings of many of his
own personal friends. It required courage to write this letter. Since
that time the prophetic words have been fully justified by subsequent
events, and the unwelcome sentiments are to-day fully indorsed by the
South. They are pregnant with wisdom, perhaps as much needed now as at
the time they were uttered.

                                         "NEW YORK, October 5, 1867.

     "MY DEAR SIR: I was apprised before the receipt of your
     letter that a certain paper of Virginia had stigmatized me
     as a 'Radical' and had otherwise imputed to me sentiments
     inimical to the interests of the South. But the silly story
     I disdained to contradict, while it rested on the authority
     of the irresponsible person who propagated it. Since you say
     that my silence is construed into a sort of acquiescence in
     the reproach, I empower you to repel the accusation with the
     utmost energy of indignant denial. I have not the vanity to
     imagine that my opinions are of the least consequence to any
     one; but, because they have been brought into controversy,
     and have been the occasion of subjecting me to some unmerited
     animadversion, I will tell you very frankly and freely in what
     relation I stand to the politics of the day.

     "In the first place, then, neither with politics nor parties
     have I the least concern or connection. On the downfall of the
     Confederacy I renounced forever every political aspiration,
     and resolved henceforth to address myself to the care of my
     family and the pursuit of my profession. But for all that I
     have not repudiated the obligations of good citizenship. When
     I renewed my oath of allegiance to the Union, I did so in good
     faith and without reservation; and as I understand that oath,
     it not only restrains me from acts of positive hostility to
     the government, but pledges me to do my utmost for its welfare
     and stability. Hence, while I am more immediately concerned to
     see the South restored to its former prosperity, I am anxious
     that the whole country, and all classes, may be reunited on
     the basis of common interest and fraternal regard. And this
     object, it appears to me, can only be attained by conceding
     to all classes the unrestricted rights guaranteed them by
     the laws and by obliterating as speedily and as entirely as
     possible the distinctions which have separated the North and
     the South into hostile sections.

     "With this conviction, while I pretend to no part in politics,
     I have not hesitated, in private discourse, to advise my
     friends in the South frankly to 'accept the situation';
     to adjust their ideas to the altered state of affairs; to
     recognize and respect the rights of the colored race; to
     cultivate relations of confidence and good-will toward the
     people of the North; to abstain from the profitless agitations
     of political debate; and to employ their energies in the
     far more exigent and useful work of material reparation and
     development. Striving out of regard to the South to inculcate
     that lesson of prudent conduct, I have urged such arguments
     as these: That the negro is, in no sense, responsible for the
     calamities we endure; that towards us he has ever conducted
     himself with kindness and subordination; that he is entitled
     to our compassion, and to the assistance of our superior
     intelligence in the effort to attain a higher state of moral
     and intellectual development; that to assume he was placed on
     this theatre as a reproach to humanity and a stumbling-block
     to the progress of civilization would be to impeach the wisdom
     and goodness of Providence; that, considering the comparative
     numbers of the two races in the South, it would be the merest
     madness to provoke a collision of caste; in a word, that it
     is absolutely essential to the peace, repose, and prosperity
     of the South that the emancipated class should be undisturbed
     in the enjoyment of their rights under the law, and should be
     enlightened to understand the duties and interests of social
     order and well-being. But it has appeared to me that the chief
     obstacle to a complete and cordial reunion between the North
     and the South is found in the suspicion and resentment with
     which the people of these sections regard each other. Hence,
     while on the one hand assuring the Northern people of the
     good faith with which the South resumes its obligations in the
     Union, I have thought it not amiss, on the other, to protest
     to my Southern friends that the mass of the Northern community
     are animated by far more just and liberal sentiments toward
     us than we are apt to suspect.

     "And thus, leaving to others the ostensible part in the
     work of reconstruction, and abstaining studiously from all
     political connection and activity, I have hoped in some
     measure, and in a quiet way, to repair the evil I contributed
     to bring upon the South by availing myself of every
     appropriate private opportunity to suggest these counsels of
     moderation and magnanimity. Passion, to which in truth we had
     abundant provocation, precipitated us into secession; reason
     must conduct us back into the path of peace and prosperity.

     "Hard it may be to purge our hearts of the resentments and
     prejudices engendered by civil war; but until our minds be
     enlightened by a philosophic comprehension of the exigencies
     of our situation, we shall never recover the repose after
     which the wearied spirit of the South so eagerly pants.

     "At whatever risk of personal obloquy, and at whatever
     sacrifice of personal interest,—and you know it involves both
     obloquy and sacrifice to talk as I do,—I am resolved to employ
     all the energy and intellect I may command in the incessant
     endeavor to promote peace and good-will among the people of
     the lately belligerent states. What the country needs, what
     in a most especial manner the South needs, is repose; freedom
     from the throes of political agitation, and leisure to recruit
     its exhausted energies. The experience of the past six years
     should have impressed on the mind of the American nation
     this most salutary lesson,—a lesson sooner or later learnt by
     every nation in the development of its own history,—that civil
     war is the sum and consummation of all human woe. Protesting
     solemnly the integrity of motive by which I was then actuated,
     yet I never recall the names of the noble men who fell in
     our conflict; I never look abroad upon our wasted fields and
     desolated homes; I never contemplate the all-embracing ruin
     in which we are involved, the sad eclipse of our liberties and
     the sinister aspect of the future, without inwardly resolving
     to dedicate all I possess of ability for the public service
     to the task of averting another such catastrophe, and to that
     end of cultivating a spirit of forbearance and good feeling
     among all classes and all sections of the country.

     "These, my dear sir, are the opinions, very briefly and
     dogmatically delivered, which I entertain touching the actual
     condition of the Southern states, and the policy proper for
     them to pursue in the present juncture. They are the result of
     anxious and conscientious reflection, of much observation of
     the popular temper of the North, and of extreme and unabated
     solicitude for the welfare of the community to which I am
     attached by the strongest ties of filial devotion. With the
     utmost sincerity of conviction, I believe that, by a system
     of conduct in conformity to these suggestions, the Southern
     people may achieve a prosperity and happiness equal to any
     they ever enjoyed; while on the contrary, I am as firmly
     persuaded that, by a vain and impatient resistance to an order
     of things they cannot change, and to a destiny they cannot
     escape, they will infinitely aggravate the miseries of their
     present condition, and besides, bring down upon themselves
     calamities appalling to contemplate.

     "I am not acquainted with the classification of parties, but
     if these opinions make me a 'Radical,' then I am a 'Radical';
     for they are deliberately the opinions of

                                              "Very truly yours,
                                                   "ROGER A. PRYOR."


Early in the spring of 1868 we removed to Brooklyn Heights near the
Ferry, much nearer my husband's office in Liberty Street. New York had
not then stretched an arm across East River and taken into its bosom
Brooklyn—already the third city in the Union. The two cities, now one
in name, were practically one in interest as early as 1867. A great
multitude of the dwellers of Brooklyn crossed the ferry every morning
on their way to their daily work in New York. Brooklyn was a huge,
overgrown village; a city of churches, a city of homes, and of children
innumerable. Every year in May a mighty army—thousands and thousands—of
these children paraded the streets under banners from their respective
Sunday-schools,—a unique spectacle well worth a pilgrimage thither,
provided one could content himself with a precarious footing on a
crowded sidewalk; for these children had the "right of way"—and knowing
their right, dared maintain it.

In 1867 streets were so deserted—was not everybody in New York for the
day?—that little children adopted them as a perfectly safe playground.
There were no elevated railroads, no trolley cars, no automobiles, no
bicycles, no electric lights, no telephones.

Our move was signalized by a complication of difficulties. Four of
my younger children found this an altogether suitable time to indulge
in measles. Hasty visits to a near-by auction room resulted in a few
needful articles of furniture which were lent to us—for we could not
purchase. The auctioneer was to own them, and reclaim them if not paid
for in a certain time. A small room was shelved for the books that
had survived the sacking of our house, and to our great satisfaction
we found that the much-used books—books of reference—had proven too
bulky or too shabby to be stolen. These and other well-worn, well-read
books became the nucleus of a large library, and hold to-day in their
tattered bindings places of honor denied newer lights of more creditable
appearance. We were not aware when we moved to Brooklyn Heights that
we had descended into the very centre of the wealthiest society of the
city. Had we known this, it would have signified nothing to us. Our
extreme poverty forbade any expectation of indulgence in social life,
even had we felt we had the smallest right to recognition. We had never
known anything about the social ambition of which in later years we hear
so much—still less did we now regard it. We "asked our fellow-man for
leave to toil," and asked nothing more.

We soon discovered that the people around us lived in affluent ease
and elegance—but that was not our affair! We had no place in their
world, nor did we desire it. To conceal our true condition was our
instinctive impulse, and to that end we shunned notice. Sometimes a
great wave of desolation and loneliness—a longing inexpressible for
companionship—would possess me. At this time there was a bridge over
Broadway below Cortlandt Street. I sometimes, at seasons of great
depression, accompanied my husband to his office, and would ascend the
steps to this bridge and look up and down the restless sea of passing
crowds. Such a sickening sense of loneliness would come over me, I would
feel that my heart was breaking. All seemed so desolate, so hopeless,
for us in this great unknown world. We knew ourselves not only strangers
but aliens, outcasts.

Dear little Willy came to me one day and advised me to change his
terrier's name, "Rebel,"—a name he had borne by reason of his own
disposition, and not at all in honor of the "lost cause." "The boys will
stone him," said Willy; "I am going to call him 'Prince' in the street
and 'Rebel' at home." On another day his younger sisters were decoyed
into the garden of a neighbor, and there informed by the children of
the house that we would not be allowed to live in the street—that we
were "Rebels, and slave-drivers, and _awful_ people!" These painful
incidents were of everyday occurrence. "Mamma told me," said one of the
little ones, "that God loves us. Will everybody else hate us?" Before
very long, however, the little rebels made friends and were forgiven
all their enormities.

The good people of Brooklyn at that time were taking up their
cobblestones and laying a wooden pavement on Pierpont Street, and
fascinating blocks of wood were piled at intervals in the street. Of
course, the boys immediately built of them a village of tiny houses,
and one day a committee of bright-eyed fellows—Tom and Charley Nichols
and Dr. Schenck's boys—waited on me with a request that my little girls
be permitted to "come out and keep house" for them. The little girls,
they added gallantly, would be allowed to choose the boys! That was
not difficult. The small housekeepers walked off with Tom and Charley.
"Say," said one of the proud owners of real estate, with a pristine
recognition of woman's place in the household, "will your cook give you
some potatoes and apples? We've got a splendid fire around the corner."

"Sure, an I'll not lave you do it," said Anne out of the basement
window. "Is it burnin' down the place ye'll be afther doin'?"—but a
"Please, Anne, dear," from the smallest housekeeper settled the matter.
A fire in the street would be a strange spectacle in the Borough of
Brooklyn to-day.

A family of healthy children well governed cannot be unhappy, even
in the most depressing circumstances. My own little brood positively
refused to be miserable. They had literally nothing that must be
acquired with money, but their own ingenuity supplied all deficiencies.
In the vacant space in the rear of our house there was a cherry tree
which never fruited, but bore a wealth of green leaves and blossoms.
There the children elected to establish a menagerie. They soon stocked
it from the "estray" animals in the street. They were "Rebel," the
terrier; "Vixen," the dachshund; "Tearful Tommy," the cat; "Desdemona,"
a white rabbit; and "Othello," her black husband, purchased from a
dealer; and "Fleetwing," the pigeon, which had trustfully entered one
of Roger's traps. As there were no stockades, no cages, Fleetwing was
tethered to the cherry tree, and as cord might wound her slender leg,
a broad string of muslin was provided for her comfort.

One day I heard lamentation and excited barking in the menagerie.
Fleetwing had vindicated her right to her name, and was calmly sailing
in the blue ether, like a kite with a very long tail—her muslin fetter
trailing behind her. We hoped she would return, but she never did.
Othello and Desdemona were very interesting. They always came, like
children, to the table with the dessert, hopping around on the cloth
from corner to corner for bits of celery; but when the fires were
kindled, Desdemona breathed coal gas from the register, keeled over, and
expired. Othello's mourning coat expressed suitable sorrow and respect,
but very soon he too experimented with the register and followed his

The time came (with these healthy children to feed) when, like Mrs.
Cadwalader, I had to get my coals by stratagem and pray to heaven for
my salad oil—with this difference, that my prayer was for daily bread,
and that alone. Long and painfully did I ponder the dreadful problem—how
to keep my family alive without driving the dear head of the house to
desperation. Study, work, unremitting study and work from early morning
until late at night was his daily portion. Not until the last expedient
had failed should he know aught of my household anxieties.

At last I resolved to go to a dignified old gentleman I had observed
behind the desk at a neighboring grocery and tell him the truth. But I
remembered my New York experience with the silver. So be it! I had borne
rebuff more than once—I could bear it again.

I told Mr. Champney—for this was the name of the old gentleman—that I
was the wife of General Pryor, that we had come North to live, that my
husband's profession was not yielding enough for our support, nor had we
any immediate ground upon which to build hope for better fortune; that
I did hope, however, to pay for provisions for my family—sometime, not
soon, but certainly if we lived; and that certainly, without food, we
should _not_ live!

He wished to know if I was the mother of the children he had seen in his
store. I answered in the affirmative, and with no further parley he drew
forth a little yellow pass-book and handed it to me. "Use this freely,
madam," he said; "I shall never ask you for a penny! You will pay me.
General Pryor is bound to succeed." He kept his word. His German porter,
Fred, came to me every morning for my frugal orders, and gave me every
possible attention. At every day of reckoning demanded by myself, my
creditor politely remarked, there was "no occasion for hurry"! His name,
"S. T. Champney," was, thenceforward, with my children, "the St."—and
as such remains in my memory.

The city of Brooklyn had grown almost as rapidly as the Western
cities—Chicago, Seattle, and others, and a great number of poor people
were crowding into it, seeking homes. Perpetually recurring instances
of distress and homelessness appealed to the good women of Brooklyn
Heights—Mrs. Bulkley, Mrs. Packer, Mrs. Alanson Trask, Mrs. Eaton,
wife of a professor of the Packer Institute, Mrs. Rosman, Mrs. Craig,
and others, and they finally resolved to found a home for friendless
women and children. They rented a small frame building on one of the
upper streets, and in a few months the house was crowded. Mrs. Eaton,
early sent by heaven to be my good angel, had longed for an opportunity
to relieve my loneliness and isolation, and she procured for me an
invitation to join the society of women. I soon became interested,
and spent part of every day with the wretched beneficiaries of the
charity. Finally our small house was unwisely crowded, and the children
became ill. Mrs. Packer took one of the poor little babies in a dying
condition to her own home, and nursed it with the utmost tenderness. I
gave shelter to one of the women, and others were taken by the different
members of the society until we could command healthy quarters for
them. We resolved to purchase a large house, and entered with great
zeal upon our work. It was my good fortune to discover the present Home
on Concord Street, the fine old Bache mansion about to be sold for a
beer-garden. I was requested to draw up a petition to the legislature
for an appropriation, which I did in the most forceful language I could
command. Mrs. Packer went to Albany with it, and $10,000 was immediately
granted us. Each of us (we were only fifteen), armed with a little
collector's book, undertook to canvass the town. We needed $20,000 more
to buy our home.

I went forth with a heavy heart—for I was the only one who had not
headed her subscription with $500. I collected a few pitiful sums only.
Nobody would listen to me—nobody knew me! I bore it as long as I could,
and one evening I announced to my astounded general that I intended to
give a concert. He informed me in strenuous English that he considered
me a lunatic.

However, I went to work. I engaged a professional reader, who agreed
to give his services; persuaded a German music teacher to lend me her
pupils; and then looked around for a "star." Investigation resulted in
my learning that Madame Anna Bishop was living in New York. Once a very
famous prima donna, she was now "shelved," although her voice was still
good. She had grown stout, and could no longer create a sensation in
"The Dashing Young Sergeant" that "marched away" so gallantly fifteen
years before.

I hunted up Madame Bishop. She received my proposition graciously. Would
she give an evening for the poor friendless women? "_Give_, my dear
lady! I give nothing. Am I not a friendless woman myself! But I'll come
for $100, and bring my accompanist. _He_ shall give _his_ evening. But
I never sing for nothing."

I engaged madame—and then I was a busy woman indeed. I hired a hall and
two pianos, wrote programmes and advertisements and had rose-colored
cards painted, "Soirée, Musical and Literary." I discovered a florist
near my hall, and persuaded him to lend me all his plants,—I wrote
invitations to my ushers and presented each one with a crystal heart for
a badge,—and then I went home, on the great evening, tired to death, and
perfectly sure it would end in failure. My general, fully of the same
opinion, tried to comfort me by saying that I would know better next
time. He went early to the hall, and when I arrived he was pacing the
street in front of the door. "The place is crammed full," he announced;
"there is hardly standing room."

It wanted but eight minutes to the hour announced for commencing, and
Madame Bishop had not arrived. Mrs. Gamp's fiddle-string illustration
would have again been a feeble expression of mine. My heart almost
failed me. But at last the expected carriage arrived,—madame, her maid,
and her accompanist. To my exclamation of relief, she threw back her
head and laughed heartily: "Oh, you amateurs! Now, you just go and get
a seat and enjoy the music. We'll go on by the programme all right."

Advance sale of tickets had yielded $100. This I handed madame in an
envelope. All went well. She was very good indeed—very spirited. The
dashing young sergeant marched away with all the fire of earlier days.
Everybody was pleased. When I thanked madame, she slipped into my hand
her own donation—$50. The next day I entered $500 upon my collection
book and, thus vindicated, I was able to face my colleagues.

A great and useful charity is this Home for friendless women and
children in Brooklyn. And noble were the women I learned to know
and love who worked with me there. They made me their corresponding
secretary, and liked everything I did for them.

Some women formerly of high position in the South found temporary
refuge in this Home. The world would be surprised if I should give
their names! In the depth of winter I once found a woman bearing one of
Virginia's oldest names. She was sitting upon a box beside a fireless
stove, warming her baby in her bosom. Her husband had gone out to hunt
for work! She had no fire, no furniture, no food! Another, belonging
to a proud South Carolina family, I found in an attic in New York. She
had had no food for two days! These, and more, I was enabled by the
lovely women of Brooklyn to relieve, delicately and permanently. Better,
truer, more cultivated women I have nowhere known. Of the extent of
my own anxieties and privations they never knew. Something within me
proudly forbade me to complain. My dear Mrs. Eaton alone knew the true
condition of my own family. She lives to bear testimony to the truth of
the strange story I am telling—the story of a Southern general and his
wife, who showed smiling, brave faces to the world, and suffered for
ten years the pangs of extreme poverty in their home, working all the
time to the utmost limit of human endurance. Not one moment's recreation
did we allow ourselves—our "destiny was work, work, work"—and patiently
we fulfilled it. Hard study filled my husband's every waking hour, and
few were his hours of sleep. Excessive use of his eyes night and day
so injured them that at one time he found reading impossible. Gordon
read his law aloud to him for many weeks. I once copied a book of law
forms for him as we had no money to buy the book—the hardest work I
have ever done! It was my custom to retire at night with my family
and, after all were quietly sleeping, to rise and with my work-basket
creep down to the library, light a lamp, and sew until two or three
o'clock in the morning. There were seven children. All must be clothed.
I literally made every garment they wore, even their wraps in winter.
Through the kindness of Professor Eaton arrangements were made that
enabled my little girls to attend the Packer Institute, founded by the
most gracious and beautiful of women, Mrs. Harriet Packer. When they
went forth in the morning to their school, they all presented a fresh,
well-groomed appearance—the result of the midnight lamp and work-basket!

I remember but one occasion when any member of the family indulged in
outside amusements. Just across the river were the brilliant theatres
and opera-houses of the great metropolis. Here in Brooklyn were plays,
concerts, balls, evening parties. The children for five or six years
after our coming North never supposed these things possible for them. I
cannot say the fate of Tantalus was ours. True, the rivers of delight
were around us, but we never "bent to drink"—never gave the "refluent
waters" an opportunity to shrink from our lips. We simply ignored them.
But Gordon and Roger had one great pleasure in 1868. It would be hard
to make this generation understand the emotions with which they saw
and heard Dickens. His books had for a time made the very atmosphere
of their lives! They talked Dickensese to each other, and fitted his
characters into the situations of their own lives. Now they were to look
upon the man himself. Of this experience my daughter writes me:—

     "I remember as I awaited his appearance how my heart beat.
     I doubt whether the recrudescence of Shakespeare would move
     me as much now. At the appointed hour he ascended the little
     platform of Plymouth Church with a rapid gait, almost running
     up the few steps, as I remember; but truly my heart was
     thumping so, and there was such a mist of agitation before
     my eyes, that I did not at once clearly discern the great
     magician. When my brain cleared with a jerk and I could make
     myself believe that Dickens was really before me, what did I
     see? A very garish person with a velvet-faced coat and a vast
     double watch chain—all, as well as his rather heavy-nosed
     unspiritual face perfectly presented in the photograph of
     the time. He had an alert, businesslike way with him, no
     magnetism, as I recollect. But his reading impressed me then
     as now, as perfection of elocution—natural, spontaneous, as
     if he himself enjoyed every word of it and had never done it
     before. He read the trial scene from Pickwick inimitably. I
     think I have since seen the criticism that he did not give us
     the Sam Weller of our imagination, but certainly it did not
     so impress me then. I was absolutely satisfied. He followed
     Pickwick with Dr. Marigold, for which I cared much less.
     Dickens's pathos, even in my days of thraldom, almost always
     struck me as mawkish. Somehow, in looking at the man, it was
     hard to believe in his sentiment—though I still think much
     of it sincere. But truly, in appearance, he is what is now
     called 'a bounder.' I never read Forster's life of him: I
     know him only through his own books, but my impression of him
     from his appearance is that he was not exactly a gentleman.
     Yet I forgot everything except delight in the reading—after
     my initial shock of the velvet coat, the ponderous watch
     chains, the countenance to match. And to this day one of my
     most cherished memories is that I saw and heard Dickens."


I soon found that two of my children were old enough to pine for
something more than physical comfort. They did not propose to live
by bread alone. The appealing eyes of our daughter Gordon were not
to be resisted and, as I have said, she entered the Packer Institute
with her little sisters, entering the senior class, where she soon
graduated with the first honors,—and where she nobly taught an advanced
class,—relinquishing at eighteen years of age all the pleasures to which
she was entitled. Theo, I supposed, would learn law in his father's
office. But he, too, like Goethe, craved "more light." One day as I was
returning from church he asked me, with suppressed feeling, if he was
ever to go to college.

I was smitten to the heart! When I repeated this to his father, he
declared, "He shall!" And within a few months a scholarship at Princeton
was found and promised, provided the boy could pass a creditable
entrance examination.

The little man went up alone early one morning to meet his fate. He
returned at night. "And did you enter?" we exclaimed. Very calmly he
answered: "They were very kind to me at Princeton. I was examined at
some length, and I shall enter the junior class."

When I packed his small trunk for his collegiate life, I found I had
little to put into it—little more than my tears! His first report read,
"In a class of eighty-three he stands first."

He maintained this standing for two years. The class included bearded
men who had been prepared thoroughly in the best preparatory schools.
Theo had received less than two years at Mr. Gordon McCabe's school.
All the rest of his time he had given to study, alone, and unassisted.

A day came in Petersburg when he, perceiving the necessities of his
family, had sold his beloved rifle for $40. Out of that sum he reserved
for himself $2, and returned home with a work on advanced mathematics
under his arm.

He was a _perfect_ boy. If he ever thought wrongly, I cannot tell—I
know he never did wrong. Personally, he was as beautiful as he was
good—clear-eyed, serene, with a grand air. "For the future of one of
my children," I was wont to say, "I have no fear. Theo will always
be fortunate." It was said of him by President McCosh that he was
"preternaturally gifted mentally." He always acquired knowledge with
perfect ease. He studied and read whatever his father studied or
read—politics, literature, and even military tactics. In the latter
he was so proficient that when a little lad in linen blouses, the
regiments at Smithfield would mount him on a stand and make him drill
the companies.


At the end of his collegiate life he wrote: "The professors have
been so good as to give me the first honor and also the mathematical
scholarship." This scholarship required him to study at least one
year in an English university. Accordingly, in the following autumn he
was sent, through President McCosh's advice, to St. Peters, Cambridge
University. He was just nineteen when he graduated.

He was too young and inexperienced to be a good manager, and soon
perceived that his $1000 would not carry him through his year. A prize
of a Cambridge scholarship and $40 was offered. He worked for it and
won it—binding wet towels around his tired brain as he worked.

I remember one lovely June afternoon, which melted into a perfect
moonlight evening. My little girls, attired in white, listened to the
home music,—Roger, with his violin, accompanied by his mother on the
piano my dear Aunt Mary had bequeathed to Gordon. A hasty ring at the
door, a rush of eager steps, and Theo was in my arms! We thought him
lovely. His father proudly marked his fine air and, with amusement, the
delicate hint of a rising inflection in his voice. Never were people so
glad and proud. Once more we were all together.

He decided not to return to England, although his masters at Cambridge
wrote him assuring him that, although he "could not win a fellowship
without becoming a naturalized British subject," yet he would
"ultimately take an excellent degree." He entered the Columbia Law
School, that he might fit himself to be his father's partner.

In October he was called to a higher court. One warm evening he walked
out "to cool off before sleeping," and we never saw him more!

The tides bore his beautiful body to us nine days after we lost him,
and his beloved Alma Mater claimed it. There he lies in the section
reserved for the presidents and professors of the University—side by
side with the ashes of the Edwards and the Alexanders that await with
him the great awakening. His classmates sent to Virginia for a shaft
of granite, and upon this stone is inscribed: "In commemoration of his
virtues, genius, and scholarship, and in enduring testimony of our love,
this monument is erected by his classmates."

Of him a great future was expected. "He was," said one of the journals
of the time, "one of the most gifted minds that Virginia ever produced.
America probably had not his superior. Only twenty years at the
time of his death, his powerful and mature intellect gave assurance
of any position his ambition might covet. He was always first, and
easily first, in any school, academy, or college that he entered. His
powers were indeed marvellous. Proud of being a Virginian, his loss
to the state, to the country indeed, is irreparable. In arms and in
statesmanship Virginia has nothing to covet,—in letters a new field of
glory awaits her. Pryor, foremost in that field, would have filled it
with the lustre of his fame. Oh! what a loss, what a loss!"

There is a peculiar bitterness in the early blighting of such powers.
But although the laurel was so soon snatched from his brow, he had
already worked nobly and achieved greatly. He had done more in his
short life than the most of us during a long life. Whether the end came
through the hand of violence, or from accident, he could approach "the
Great Secret" as did John Sterling, "without a thought of fear and with
very much of hope." Such as he confirm our faith in immortality and make
heaven lovelier to our thought.

He was a victim of his father's fallen fortunes. Now, surely, Nemesis
must be satisfied! Innocent of crime, we had yet suffered full measure
for the crime of the nation. Others had been called to give up their
first-born sons. We had now given up ours! Was it not enough? All the
joy of life was forever ended. Hereafter one bitter memory intensified
every pang, poisoned every pleasure,—so clearly did our great
bereavement seem to grow out of our misfortunes,—and all these to be
the sequence of cruel, terrible, wicked war.

But why should I ask my readers to listen while I press, "like Philomel,
my heart against a thorn!" We can change nothing in our lives. We must
bear the lot ordained for us! We need not ask others to suffer with us!
_Grosse seelen dulden still!_

       *       *       *       *       *

The story I am telling must end not later than the year 1900—and I
find no fitting place for a brief tribute to another brilliant son whom
we lost after that year, unless my readers will forgive me for a word
just here. I leave the splendid record of his services as a physician
and surgeon, where it is safe to live—in the memories of his brethren
at home and abroad. "Pryor's practice" is still quoted in England and
France as the salvation of suffering womanhood. But other records are
written on the hearts of the poor and humble. "Many a night," said one
of his hospital confrères, "with the East River full of ice, and snow
and sleet pelting straight in his face, Dr. William Pryor has crossed
in a rowboat to see some poor waif at Blackwell's Island upon whom he
had operated,—carrying with him some delicacy the hospital diet-sheet
did not afford."

He was most richly endowed, physically and mentally, and he gave to
suffering humanity all that God had given him.

I resolved, when I consented to write this book, that I would not
intrude my own feelings and emotions upon those who are kind enough to
read my story. I know, alas, I am not the only one upon whom the tower
of Siloam has fallen. We are divinely forbidden to believe ourselves
more unworthy than those who escape such disaster.

"The Thorny Path," a painting by P. Stachiewicz, represents women
toiling along a perilous path. On one side is a high, barren rock; on
the other a ghastly precipice. Safety lies only in the narrow path,
uneven with slippery stones and thick-set with cruel thorns. Two women
are central figures in the procession: one, ragged and drunken and
cursing her lot, reels unsteadily against the flinty wall; another
treads the same path with bent head, and hands clasped in prayer.
A white "robe of righteousness" has descended upon the latter, and
celestial light surrounds her head, albeit the pilgrim feet are unshod
and torn with thorns.

  [Illustration: WILLIAM RICE PRYOR.]

Sometimes a song or picture has taught us more than many sermons. When
Christine Nilsson, standing firm and erect with upward look, sang
"I KNOW," we were thrilled and surprised into a vivid faith, which
had burned with less fervor under the teaching of the pulpit. We had
believed, but now we felt that we _knew_, that the Redeemer lives and
will stand in the latter day upon the earth, and feeling this, we were


In 1872 Horace Greeley was nominated by the Democratic party for the
presidency, to oppose General Grant's second term, and wrote to my


     "I want you to help me in this canvass. I want you to go to
     Virginia and do some work for me there and at the South.

                                               "Your friend,
                                                   "HORACE GREELEY."

Mr. Greeley had at first opposed the Civil War. He had suffered great
mental distress at its approach. He labored with all his might to
prevent a resort to arms—but, when this was inevitable, he followed
the advice of Polonius. It was he who raised the cry "On to Richmond,"
and he was thereafter a powerful supporter of the government. After
the surrender, he just as strongly advocated pacific measures, opposed
the action of the federal government in holding Mr. Jefferson Davis a
prisoner without trial, and, oblivious to all personal and pecuniary
consequences, had gone to Richmond and in open court signed the
bail-bond of the Confederate President.

It can be easily perceived that the active support of a man like General
Pryor—who could remember and use to advantage these facts—might be
extremely useful to Mr. Greeley. The temptation appealed, with force,
to my husband. Active political life had been his most successful,
most agreeable occupation, but he remembered his resolution to _work_,
and work in the study of his profession, and declined Mr. Greeley's

"You are making a great mistake," said one of his friends, "in your
office all day, and at home all night. I should like to know how you
expect to get along! You never make a visit—you are never seen at a club
or any public gathering."

"Very true," said my husband, "but I am persuaded that my only hope for
salvation here is to know something, have something the New York people
want. They do want good lawyers, and I must study day and night to make
myself one."

His friend, John Russell Young, far away in Europe, heard of Mr.
Greeley's campaign. Himself an intense Republican and devoted friend of
General Grant, he could not learn with equanimity of any added strength
to Mr. Greeley from the support of the South. He wrote from Geneva,
September 16, 1872:—

     "DEAR PRYOR:—

     "I saw in the _New York World_ that you were to make a speech
     in favor of Greeley in Virginia, and had my own reflections
     on the announcement. I should like to exchange observations
     with Mrs. Pryor on this subject, as she has positive
     political convictions. But I remember her saying once that
     darning stockings had a debilitating effect upon literary
     aspirations—and she made no reservation in favor of politics.
     At the present moment I should like to enlist her attention
     and support.

     "The idea of R. A. P.—the representative fire-eater, the
     Robespierre, or Danton, or, if you like it better, the
     Harry Hotspur of the Southern Revolution,—the one orator
     who clamored so impatiently for the Shrewsbury clock to
     strike,—oh, my friend! The spectacle of _this_ leader
     championing Horace Greeley! Can the irony of events have a
     deeper illustration? Miserere! How the world is tumbling! What
     can we expect next? Jefferson Davis and Frederick Douglass
     running on the presidential ticket, in favor of Chinese
     suffrage! If you really did make a speech, send it to me. I
     suppose in your own mind you have made many, for events like
     these develop thought in the minds of all thinking men. I do
     not see Greeley's election. I have a letter from him written
     in July which speaks very cheerfully. But I have a letter from
     the White House quite as cheerful. I cannot think that Grant
     will be beaten; and am certain, with all deference to Mrs.
     Pryor's positive political views, that he should not be. I can
     understand the passionate desire you and your people have for
     honest reconstruction. I can see how you might even fall into
     the arms of Horace Greeley to achieve such a deliverance. But
     there is no honest reconstruction possible under Mr. Greeley
     and the men who would accompany him in power. The South has
     its future in its own hands. If the men who led it as you did
     had followed your example when the war was over, there would
     be no trouble. But that required courage—a higher courage than
     ever rebellion demanded; and if the South has not reasserted
     itself, it is the fault of the Southern men themselves.

     "But I will not preach politics from this distance. If you
     are not in the campaign, keep out! Run over here with Miss
     Gordon. How delighted I should be to see you. I am sure
     mademoiselle would revel in Paris. Mrs. Young would travel
     with her, too, to Germany, visit all the famous convents and
     ecclesiastical establishments and, finally, wind up with Paris
     and an exhausted search through the shops.

     "For myself, I feel that I am having opportunities and
     neglecting them. However, I have always my work, have grappled
     with French, done something in Spanish, and have designs on
     the German language. But as you can only eat your artichoke
     a leaf at a time, French is my main occupation outside my
     business. I don't have time to play chess—and I presume Miss
     Gordon will give me a knight when we play next. You mustn't
     think me utterly good-for-naught. I have finished Carlyle's
     'Frederick' in thirteen volumes—think of that! In the summer
     I dissipated in novels,—'Don Quixote,' 'Tom Jones,' 'Roderick
     Random,'—and now I am about to begin 'Romola,' which Bayard
     Taylor said yesterday was the best historical novel in our
     language. Remember me most kindly to all at home, and believe
     me to be, dear Pryor,

                                         "Your friend sincerely,
                                                "JOHN RUSSELL YOUNG.

We had first known John Russell Young as a boy sent by Colonel Forney
to report a speech of my husband's in Congress, now on the staff of the
_New York Herald_. During a temporary residence in London he began a
series of charming letters to my daughter—lasting until the end of his
life. From London he wrote:—


     "I send you two autographs—one is from Dinah Mulock Craik (who
     wrote 'John Halifax,' you know), the other from Mr. Gladstone,
     the former Premier.

     "I shall try to obtain an autograph of Carlyle, and his
     photograph, for your library. The old man is very hard to
     reach—he is very old. I have not seen George Eliot yet, but
     will. I dined with William Black last evening.

     "I have had a good time in London. I never had so much
     attention in my life—I don't know how it happened, but so
     it fell. My Macmillan article opened the door, however, of
     every newspaper and magazine to me—and the door is of no use,
     except to look inside! But fancy the people I have met!—not,
     as I said, Carlyle or George Eliot (but she is possible
     when she comes home), but I think I have dined with nearly
     everybody else. Green—the short history man—and I have become
     good friends. I told him how much you liked his book, and he
     blushed like a June rose. I have dined with Huxley, Tyndall,
     Froude, Browning, Herbert Spencer, Kingsley, Bryce, Green,
     Norman Lockyer, William Black, Motley, and I don't know how
     many others,—so you see, as far as coming abroad has any value
     in enlarging one's horizon, I have not come in vain. You must
     forgive the vanity of all this, but when one is away from
     home, what can one do but write about one's own self?

     "I wrote your father last week that I was about to come home.
     I packed all my trunks and engaged my room on the _Adriatic_,
     which sails on the 25th. A cable comes from Mr. Bennett
     asking me to await his coming. So I have unpacked my trunk and
     again resigned myself to the London fog. If you will gently
     break the news to the retired statesman who mourns over the
     decadence of the republic, you will be a dutiful child and my
     very good friend. I am very much disappointed in not going
     home. There is a little woman whose eyes are, I suppose,
     sad enough straining through the mists for a truant lord who
     seems to wander as long as Ulysses. There are friends whose
     faces it would be sunshine to see,—and there are duties in
     the way of educating public opinion on the question of the
     presidency,—all of which is only a roundabout way of saying
     I am homesick, and that I would give the best book in my
     library (you see how extravagant I am) if it were in my power
     to accept an invitation from your mother to tea. I would
     even run the risk of a quarrel with your father on politics!
     Remember me to all at home—to your mother with especial duty,
     and believe me, my dear Miss Gordon,

                                        "Always yours sincerely,
                                               "JNO. RUSSELL YOUNG."

     "P.S.—From a letter your mother has kindly written me, I
     perceive you are to visit Virginia. Now if you will only
     justify the hopes of your friends and bring back a descendant
     of Pocahontas or Patrick Henry or of G. W. to be a comfort
     to your father and mother, I shall feel you have not visited
     Virginia in vain. However, as that is a subject from which I
     have often been warned away by the Pryor family, I shall not
     venture to give any advice.

                                   "Again your friend sincerely,
                                               "JNO. RUSSELL YOUNG."

     "I am sending you," he says in another letter, "a noticeable
     article on George Eliot's work. You will observe the tendency
     to criticise, and quotations of little things to sustain an
     adverse verdict. I remember only better things. Of course
     I must acknowledge the tinge of bitterness in all of George
     Eliot's writings, but the latter-day critic brings a railing
     accusation against the artistic features of her books. He
     thinks it was a dreadful thing for Dorothea to marry a second
     time, but how trifling is all this! I always feel when I
     have finished 'Adam Bede' and 'Middlemarch' like saying
     in reverence, 'Oh, Mistress! Oh, my Queen!' for she is the
     mistress and queen of her art, and ought to be mentioned with
     Carlyle and Hugo."

The "chance" for which General Pryor for nine years had worked and
waited came at last. A New York correspondent of the _St. Louis
Republican_ thus comments upon the event: "General Pryor borrowed the
law books which he needed to begin the study requisite to enable him to
do justice to his clients, and he studied as he fought—bravely. No man
has burned more midnight oil, and from being no lawyer ten years ago,
he has grown to be a most accomplished and erudite member of the bar. In
his late great speech in the trial of Tilton against Henry Ward Beecher,
in resisting the attempt of William M. Evarts, of Beecher's counsel,
to prevent the plaintiff from testifying, General Pryor hurled law at
the head of Mr. Evarts which the latter in all of his delving had not
reached, and Mr. Evarts complimented General Pryor, not only upon the
brilliant presentation of the law, but upon his extended acquaintance
with the authorities. His speech won the point for Tilton. He is known
to be an indefatigable student. Seven hours a day he studies law as
though he needs it all on the morrow. No man in New York has a more
brilliant future; and when it comes, no man will have so completely
carved out his own way and made his own fortune."

This trial against America's great preacher was famous at home and in
England. The accusation of Theodore Tilton aroused a tremendous feeling
throughout the United States and abroad wherever Mr. Beecher's great
reputation had established itself. The trial lasted six months. Mr.
Tilton's counsel were Mr. Beach, Hon. Sam Morris, Judge Fullerton, and
General Pryor. Arrayed against them were Hon. William M. Evarts, Hon.
Benjamin Tracy, Thomas Shearman, and Austin Abbott.

To General Pryor was intrusted all the delicate or obscure questions of
law incident upon the case. The press of the day universally awarded him
the highest praise for learning and thorough knowledge of his subject.
He won a very great reputation, and from that time onward felt that
his professional career was to be an active one. The impression the new
advocate—the rebel politician and soldier turned lawyer—made upon the
correspondents of the press never varied. A New York correspondent of
an Ohio paper[7] thus describes him:—

     "General Pryor's reply to Mr. Evarts's was, after all,
     the greatest surprise of the day. It was so remarkable
     in many respects, that I am at a loss where to begin the
     characterization. Not an exciting topic, one would say, for a
     fiery Southern orator, to analyze the statutes of the state of
     New York on the subject of evidence from married people. But
     it was evident from the very first, though formal, sentence,
     that exploded from General Pryor's lips that he needed no
     outward occasion to minister excitement to his surcharged
     batteries of personal electricity. A dry legal question was
     provocation enough; what he would do under the heat of an
     impassioned issue is inconceivable, if the proportions of
     occasion and effect were preserved. His execution, to borrow
     a musician's term, is prodigious, considered merely as a
     _tour de force_. It is a volcanic torrent of speech. To say
     the enunciation is rapid, is nothing: it is lightning-like.
     The most dexterous reporters could hardly follow him. Its
     nervous energy is equally remarkable, and seems to break out
     from every pore of his body, as well as out of his mouth,
     eyes, and finger ends. With the legal volume in his left
     hand, the eye-glass quivering in his right, and jumping to
     his nose and off again, with or without object, like a thing
     of life, or emphasizing the utterance with thrusting gestures
     of its own; his head thrown up, at every beginning his eyes
     shoot straight at the judge as if they would transfix him,
     and he drives onward like a Jehu rushing into battle. He has
     no moderate passages; but perhaps he will avail himself of
     these effects when he comes to address the jury. And yet,
     all this prodigious nervous expenditure, so far from drawing
     off the power of the brain, is only an index of its action;
     so far from jarring the self-possession and sequence of
     thought, or the precision of conception and expression, it
     only enhances and secures all these, as sheer impetus sustains
     the equilibrium of a wheel. The diction, with all its headlong
     speed, is perfect in precision and force, and no less in
     elegance; not an after word, not a word of surplusage, or a
     word to be bettered in revisal; and the like is true of the
     closely knit argument."

This picture, drawn with a bold hand, greatly amused the home circle in
Willow Street. But then, we had not heard the speech!

  [Illustration: CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN.]


Gordon and I had the privilege of seeing Charlotte Cushman when, no
longer able to act in the plays in which she had so distinguished
herself, she gave a reading at one of the large halls in New York. She
was infirm, less from age than a malady which was consuming her. I found
an immense audience assembled in her honor. There were no more seats, no
more standing room. She had no assistants, no support. A chair behind a
small table was all the _mise en scène_, and here, dressed in a matronly
gown of black silk and lace, the great tragedienne seated herself.
Her gray hair was rolled back _à la Pompadour_ from her broad, high
forehead, and beneath black brows her eye kindled as she glanced over
the fine audience. As she described it afterward, "a modest farewell
reading blossomed into a brilliant testimonial."

After our enthusiastic response to her graceful greeting, she said
simply: "Ladies and gentlemen, I shall read—I trust for your pleasure,
surely for mine," laying her hand upon her heart—"from the second scene
in the third act of 'Henry the Eighth.'"

It so happened there had been, incident upon her appearance, a
remarkable discussion in some of the journals of the day. The wise
ones, the elect, had paused in their speculations as to the authorship
of Shakespeare's plays, or the Letters of Junius, or the enlightenment
of the nations by certain rearrangement of periods in Hamlet's immortal
soliloquy, and had cast an eye of scrutiny upon Wolsey's magnificent
monologue. To _nous autres_ it seems clear enough as it is—but who
are we that we should know the heart hidden under a red robe? They
gravely opined that the _king_, not _God_, was meant in the lines, "Had
I but served my God with half the zeal," etc. Without doubt Charlotte
Cushman was aware of this remarkable discussion. A good many backs were
straightened to "attention" as she reached the noble words:—

         "... O Cromwell, Cromwell!
     Had I but served my God with half the zeal
     I served my king, HE would not in mine age
     Have left me naked to mine enemies."

She pointed upward as she uttered reverently the word "HE."

From this, after a brief pause—she did not leave her seat all
evening—she passed to "Much Ado about Nothing." Never was there such a
Dogberry, bursting with arrogance and ignorance. Mrs. Maloney, on the
Chinese question, followed, dismissing, with inimitable impudence, the
mistress who had just shown her the door. Then she became the loyal,
spirited, wildly sweet Kentucky girl and her blue-grass horse, Kentucky
Belle,—utterly charming, both of them,—concluding with "Molly Carew," In
this she was tremendous. The policemen at the door came in to listen;
the applause was loud and long. "Molly Carew," forsooth! What is there
in "Molly Carew"? What in the entreaty to take off her bonnet lest she
cost her lover, as he declares, "the loss of me wanderin' soul," to
bring down the house? What in the indignant summing up that she had
better be careful; "you'll feel mighty queer when you see me weddin'
mairching down the street an' yersilf not in it"?

I soon found out how much there was in Molly Carew _per se_ with no
Charlotte Cushman to interpret! I happened to have Samuel Lover's poems,
and when I reached home, I took the book from the library shelves and
summoned the children to listen to the funniest thing they had ever
heard in all their lives. "I warn you," said I, "you'll half kill
yourselves laughing."

I read "Molly Carew." Round eyes opened wider in astonishment as I
proceeded. There was not a smile; not the faintest glimmer of mirth.
Dead silence was broken by a polite "Is that all? Thank you, mamma,"
as they escaped. Oh, genius, gift of the gods! Who can measure it?
Who, not born to it, can hope to win it! Who can attain even a faraway
imitation of it! How it can clothe and glorify the simplest ideas! How
it transfigured Charlotte Cushman—haggard and gray from keen physical
suffering, knowing well that her hour was at hand! What noble restraint
in her selections, ignoring pain and sorrow, denying herself the tribute
of sympathy, bidding us good night with a smile on her lips and words
demanding an answering smile on ours!

To remember Charlotte Cushman is to recall Madame Helena
Modjeska—totally different, certainly not inferior. I met her in society
in New York. Her beautiful face, her tender, sensitive mouth, and the
"far-away look of her eyes, as though she were thinking of the wrongs
of Poland," are never to be forgotten. And the splendor of her genius! I
saw her as Ophelia to Edwin Booth's Hamlet. "You are as good as a Greek
chorus, my lord,"—she in a Savonarola chair, he on a _fauteuil_ at her
feet. I saw her also as Queen Catherine. I think she impressed all who
knew her as a most sad woman. But is not melancholy the prerogative of
genius? I, for one, never knew a man or woman of genius, real genius,
who was merry. Madame Modjeska made melancholy beautiful.

She was once the guest of a lady who had gathered together a number of
choice spirits in her honor. One of them, forgotten of her good angel,
asked, "How do you like our country, madame!"

"Oh," spreading out her hands to signify empty space, and speaking in
a weary tone, "Oh! It is _all_—_all_ one great level."

"Ah, but," said her hostess, "patience! I shall introduce you by and by
to a little hill."

An introduction followed, and at the close of the evening Madame
Modjeska, pressing the hand of her hostess at parting, said with

"Ah, madame! _She_ was one great mountain!"

  [Illustration: HELENA MODJESKA.]

Before the war which cut me off from every pleasure demanding leisure
and a little money, I heard the elder Booth in "Hamlet"—and I must
confess he was rather a wheezy Hamlet in his old age. In Brooklyn the
circumstances of my life forbade my indulging my passion for music and
the enjoyment of a good play, but we had tickets for gallery seats to
see Edwin Booth when Madame Modjeska played with him. Afterward we saw
him in "The Fool's Revenge," and I remember being quite carried away
and oblivious of everything except his splendid acting, until the calm
voice of my son recalled me, "Don't you think, mamma, you had better sit
down?" I spent a summer at Narragansett in the same hotel with Mr. Booth
when he was resting his weary brain. He had a hooded chair placed in a
corner of a veranda overlooking the sea, and there alone and in silence
he spent most of his time. His devoted daughter ministered to him and
carefully protected him from intrusion. At certain conditions of the
tide the sands of the Narragansett beach emit a weird, faint, singing
sound as the waves recede from them,—moaning, as it were, because they
are left behind. These sounds could not be heard by every ear. Some
eager listeners never could hear them. I used to wonder if Edwin Booth
did, and wish I could ask him what they said to him. I might even tell
him what they said to me! But his "Edwina" watched him jealously, and
we respected his evident prostration of mind and spirit. His place at
table was near mine. A moonlight smile would steal over his face when
his two grandchildren, rosy little tots, came to him at dessert for a
bit of sweet from the hand whose slightest gesture had once been able to
move a multitude. The next time he was brought vividly before us we were
in a great assembly of his friends, listening to Mr. Parke Godwin,—his
friend and ours,—as he told of the sun whose rise, whose splendid noon,
and whose setting we were ever to remember.

In the autumn of 1882 our old Southern friend, General R. D. Lilley,
visited New York in the interests of Washington and Lee University.
Colonel Mapleson, with Adelina Patti, Nicolini, and the famous
_danseuse_, Cavalassi, had just arrived for a brilliant season at
the Metropolitan Opera House. General Lilley sent me a letter from
Colonel Mapleson,—which lies before me,—in which he offered "a grand
entertainment to be given about the 3d of March for the endowment of
scholarships in Washington and Lee University, in which entertainment
the leading artists of the opera would appear," and asked for a
committee of ladies to act in concert with him.

General Lilley was in a quandary. He knew no New York ladies. No more
did I. But finally he won his way into the good graces of the widow
of Governor Dix and mother of the Rev. Morgan Dix, who granted her
drawing-room for our meetings, and doubtless consulted her own visiting
list to find patronesses. When, at the general's earnest prayer, I went
over to the first meeting, I found a noble band of women all enthusiasm
over the project. I was a stranger in New York, and but dimly recognized
the names on the committee with my own: Mrs. John Dix, Mrs. August
Belmont, Mrs. William M. Evarts, Mrs. Francis R. Rives, Mrs. John Jay,
Mrs. (Commodore) Vanderbilt, Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, Mrs. Henry Clews,
Mrs. James Brown Potter, Mrs. Winfield S. Hancock, and others, about
fifty in all! I can now easily understand that this committee had but
to _will_ a thing, and if it were not accomplished, the fault would not
lie in their lack of potentiality. They had but to say the word. Means,
overflowing means, and generous patronage would be assured.

Colonel Mapleson met with us at our meetings, which Mrs. Dix made
delightful. We had animated discussions over Mrs. Dix's tea-cups,
and adopted fine resolutions. Patti, the colonel assured us, would
sing,—certainly,—but she needed a vast deal of coaxing and mock
entreaty. Then every day Nicolini—whom she had recently married—wrote
us a letter presenting some difficulty which we must settle. The flowers
we ordered were beyond compare—to Arditi, the orchestra leader, a large
music scroll in white flowers, and upon this ground the first bars of
his "Il bacio" in blue violets. To the witch Cavalassi we voted a floral
slipper, to Colonel Mapleson a silken banner of Stars and Stripes. What,
alas! could we do for Patti? Could _any_thing be enough? At last we sent
for Colonel Mapleson. "Ladies," he said, "this will be your easiest
task. Come to the opera-house with bouquets in your hands or corsage,
tied with cords you have taken from your fans, and throw them to her,
impulsively. There's nothing she so dotes on as to run all over the
stage and pick up flowers, affect intense surprise at each new bouquet,
press them to her heart, and be utterly overcome at last as she runs

All this was done, I learned, for I was not there to see! Colonel
Mapleson, however, did not forget me. He sent me the monogram cut in
gold of Washington and Lee University, and I often wear it as a souvenir
of my charming hours with good Mrs. Dix and her friends.

When I came to the city to live, I found that Dr. Dix, his lovely
mother, and many of the ladies of our committee still remembered me.
This was not the last time we were together in a benevolent enterprise,
nor the last time Patti honored me. Childish as were the little arts
attributed to her by Colonel Mapleson, she could give evidence of a big
warm heart on occasion!


In 1877 the leading citizens of Brooklyn invited General Pryor to
deliver an address at the Academy of Music on Decoration Day. This
was an opportunity he had long desired, and the invitation was eagerly
accepted. With great zeal and bitterness some of the veterans of the
Grand Army resented the invitation, upon which my husband promptly
declined the honor. I do not give the names of the old soldiers—they
have long ago been forgiven and are fully understood. A heated
correspondence followed—one side generous, fraternal feeling, on
the other the bleeding afresh of old, unhealed wounds. Finally, the
general,—although the charm, the grace, of the compliment was all
gone,—perceiving it would be childish and ungrateful to persist in
declining to speak, consented.

The interesting nature of the occasion, and the conflict it had aroused,
drew a very great audience to the Academy of Music. My husband never
needed notes in speaking, but this time Gordon, in a very large, clear
hand, wrote out his address that he might refresh, if necessary, his

It was not necessary. He was full of fire and enthusiasm, and nobly gave
the noble sentiments eagerly quoted next day by the _New York Tribune_.
The closing paragraph strikes no uncertain note. It must have surprised
his audience:—

     "From the vantage ground of a larger observation, with a
     more calm and considerable meditation on the causes and
     conditions of national prosperity, I, for one, cannot resist
     the conclusion that, after all, Providence wisely ordered
     the event, and that it is well for the South itself that it
     was disappointed in its endeavor to establish a separate
     government. Plain is it that, if once established, such
     a government could not have long endured. It was founded
     on principles that must have proved its downfall. It must
     soon have fallen a victim to foreign aggression or domestic
     anarchy. Nor to the reëstablishment of the Union is the
     Confederate soldier any the less reconciled by the destruction
     of slavery. People of the North, history will record that
     slavery fell, not by any efforts of man's will, but by the
     immediate intervention and act of the Almighty Himself.
     And in the anthem of praise ascending to heaven for the
     emancipation of four million human beings, the voice of the
     Confederate soldier mingles its note of devout gratulation.
     And now in the unconquerable strength of freedom we may hope
     that the existence of our blessed Union is limited only
     by the mortality that measures the duration of all human
     institutions. [_Prolonged applause._]"—_Tribune_, May 31.

     "General Roger A. Pryor's Decoration Day address wins golden
     opinions. It was brave, patriotic, and statesman-like. He
     grasps the situation. He does not take much stock in bygones,
     thinks gravestones are made to leave behind and not to tie to,
     and would rather have a live man with average common sense
     than the biggest obituary that was ever written. General
     Pryor is one of the few men who have a to-morrow."—_Evening
     Express_, June 12.

The _Springfield Republican_, May 31, says:—

     "The Grand Army fellows who opposed inviting Roger A. Pryor to
     deliver the address at Brooklyn yesterday probably feel pretty
     well ashamed of themselves by this time. Certainly they would
     have deprived the country of a very desirable speech if they
     had succeeded in preventing his speaking."

Broad as were the views of the ex-rebel at this time, the Southern
papers indorsed him:—

     "General Roger A. Pryor's address on Decoration Day, at
     Brooklyn, New York, is quite remarkable. It is very brilliant
     and very eloquent. There is logic, but it is 'logic on fire,'
     as Macaulay said of Lord Chatham. There is a magnificent sweep
     in the sentences, and high and patriotic thought throughout.
     It reminds us in its glow and passion, in its rich and flowing
     rhetoric, and in its exquisite diction of Edmund Burke's
     tremendous speech on the 'Nabob of Arcot's Debts.' We do not
     think any man can accompany the orator, with his kindling,
     intense periods and sonorous, ornate style, with his lofty
     thought and impassioned eloquence, without a responsive thrill
     of emotion and a feeling of pride that this master of speech
     is a Southron."

                                       —_Wilmington_ (N. C.) _Star_.

     "The address of General Roger A. Pryor delivered on Decoration
     Day at Brooklyn, N. Y., is a brilliant production. Like
     everything emanating from him, it is full of fine thought and
     fine sentiment, with a sweeping array of glowing genius, all
     clothed in a diction simple, pure, and as opposite as if the
     idea and language had been born together from a brain entirely
     original and independent in its conceptions. The spirit of the
     address, too, is national, catholic, patriotic, and grandly
     American from beginning to end.

     "Pryor is a man of splendid parts, and Virginia has reason to
     be proud of him."—(Richmond, Va.)

The _Richmond Whig_ paid a handsome tribute:—

     "Roger A. Pryor is a man of resplendent genius. He has
     high culture, too, and he is far from being only an orator
     to excite the passions, to win applause, and to elicit
     admiration. He has comprehensiveness of brain, coupled with an
     extraordinary capacity for the nicest dialectics. As a writer
     or speaker, he should be invited to no second seat anywhere.
     He is more like William Wirt, perhaps, than any other of the
     gifted men of this country. And the day is not distant when,
     if he goes into politics again, he will have a national name
     as familiar to the North as, when he was a much younger man,
     it was to the Southern people.

     "We have no doubt he will deliver a speech of unsurpassed
     beauty and eloquence on Decoration Day in Brooklyn."

These are but representative quotations. The whole country was ready to
applaud the speech. It was a fitting close to the first twelve years of
our life of trial and probation. The sweetest praise of all came in a
letter from America's great preacher, Richard S. Storrs:—

                                        "80 PIERPONT STREET,
                                               "BROOKLYN, N. Y.,
                                                      "May 31, 1877.


     "I have read with the very greatest satisfaction and pleasure
     your admirable address of last evening. I sympathize, in
     fullest measure, with the delighted enthusiasm with which
     my wife and daughter spoke of the address after hearing it
     last evening, and am only more sorry than before that my
     unlucky and imperative engagement with the Historical Society
     Committee and Board forbade me to enjoy the splendid eloquence
     of utterance which they described to me. I do not see how
     you could possibly have treated the theme which the occasion
     presented more delicately or more grandly—with a finer touch,
     or a more complete mastery of all its proper relations and

     "It is a great address, and must have a wide and great effect.
     I only wish that all the papers would give it in its full

     "I am faithfully and with great regard,

                                                     "R. S. STORRS."

This address, which has been handsomely bound by the Brooklyn committee,
was followed by invitations all over the country to speak—even from
the Gospel Tent. But, unhappily, honor does not fill the basket, nor
warm the body, nor pay the rent, nor satisfy the tax-gatherer. It is a
nice, nice thing to have,—there's no use denying it,—but I think my dear
general would have given it all, every bit, for one good, remunerative
law case.

  [Illustration: GENERAL HANCOCK.]

Firmly fortified, as he persuaded himself, against ever again indulging
in the fascinations of politics, his admiration for his old foe at
Sharpsburg drew him into the Hancock campaign.

General Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg and Antietam, was worth every
effort of every Democrat in the country. He was a superb man in every
respect, and we soon became his ardent friends. His wife was a most
dear, beautiful woman, whom I learned to love. So charming was their
simple home on Governors Island, I could have brought myself to the
point of begging the government—that had taken so much from me—to grant
me a little corner to live near them and their two delightful friends,
General James Fry and his wife.

At General Hancock's I spent much time, and while my general consulted
with him on political matters, Mrs. Hancock and I would, when we could
escape from the crowd, sympathize with each other as only stricken
mothers can sympathize. She had just lost her beautiful Ada—and small
indeed seemed the honors of this world to her.

My general made a fine speech for General Hancock, which was praised by
the press as generously as the Decoration Day speech. It was understood
that he would be Attorney-General in case of Hancock's election. We
know the result; and I must confess that as the election returns were
reported to us, I quite abandoned myself to disappointment. From my
window next morning I could see another Democratic mourner, and in
order to signal to her my state of mind, I hung a black shawl which
I had on at the moment out of the window. Early on the day after the
election I went with my daughter Gordon across the ferry to Governor's
Island to assure myself of the welfare of my friends. It was a raw
day in November, and snow was falling. We were the only passengers on
the boat, with the exception of two serious-looking women who carried
a large paper box between them. "Funeral flowers," suggested Gordon.
Upon arriving, we walked up to General Hancock's house, and at the
door perceived our fellow-passengers had followed us. They entered
with us, and in order to give them the right of way in case they were
come on appointment, Gordon and I passed on to the back parlor, leaving
them in the front room. Presently we heard General Hancock accost them
courteously, whereupon they arose and explained, with much solemnity,
their errand. "General, for some time past we have been engaged in
preparing a testimonial for you, with the assistance of your many
admirers. Here, sir, is an autograph quilt,"—unfolding an ample and
fearful object,—"and upon it there are autographs of our celebrated men:
General Grant is here, Mr. Hayes is here, Mr. Garfield is here!"—General
Hancock interrupted, "But—ladies! Thanking you for your kindness, let
me inform you I have been defeated—your offering was probably designed
for the elected President." With warm vehemence they both protested:
"Oh, _no, no_, General! We are Democrats! No, _sir!_ No Republican is
ever going to sleep under _this_ quilt if we can help it!" "Ah, well,
then," said the general, "I suppose I can do nothing more than thank
you. Yes, I can call Mrs. Hancock. She will say how much we appreciate
your kindness."

Passing through the back parlor, he espied us. "Oh, Mrs. Pryor! _Hang it
all!_" he ruefully exclaimed, as he went aloft. When Mrs. Hancock took
charge of the situation, he returned to us.

"And so the general has sent you over to represent him at the funeral!
Tell him I am all right; but by the bye, how many people came over with

"Those two," indicating the party now descanting to Mrs. Hancock upon
the fine collection of autographs.

"Had the result been different, a fleet could not have brought them all!
However, the canes are coming in as well as the quilts. We shall not
lack for fire-wood this winter, nor for covering."

Mrs. Hancock was soon relieved of her kind friends, and both she and
the general accompanied us on a "little walk" proposed by him. "I shall
not be lonely here," he told us; "a new ship comes in sight every day;
and I've plenty to do. I must have all these leaves swept up, too. I'm
a happier man than Garfield this day. Only," he added sadly, "I cannot
reward my friends."

Mrs. Hancock opened the gate of her little garden and gathered a
souvenir posy for Gordon, and so we parted from the two—so great, so
dignified in the hour of defeat.

When I reached home, it was well I had a _douceur_ for my general.
He held in his hand the _New York Tribune_ of the day, and pointed
an indignant finger to a communication in which the public was warned
against the incendiary principles of "persons in the family of a noted
Southern lawyer, now resident on Brooklyn Heights, who had, in the
moment of the nation's rejoicing, displayed in a window a piratical
flag, deep-bordered and ominous." My poor little jest with my neighbor!
My humble black shawl!

Having had an invitation to lunch with Mrs. Grant at the Fifth Avenue
Hotel next day, I thought it wise, as well as agreeable, to accept,
seeing I had been published as a suspicious character. I needed
Republican support.

I told Mrs. Grant of my interview with General Hancock. "Nice fellow!
Nice fellow!" she exclaimed with feeling. "You know I'm a Democrat,"
she said. "What's more, I'm _Secesh_, particularly as the Republicans
wouldn't nominate Ulysses for a third term."

"Oh, but," said I, "you mustn't forget the story of the Fisherman and
the Flounder."

She had never heard the story of Dame Isabel, the fisherman's ambitious
wife, and laughed heartily over the application to herself. "All the
same," she protested, "I was not unreasonable—I didn't wish to be Lord
of the spheres—only wife of the President of one country."

A short time before this the (Massachusetts) _Springfield Republican_
was kind enough to lend a helping hand, in the guise of a kind word to
my dear general, which was quoted by the _New York Times_, January 22,
1878. That I should have preserved it so many years, fully asserts my
appreciation of the paper's kindness.

     "The New York correspondent of the _Springfield_
     (Massachusetts) _Republican_ writes: 'Roger Pryor is pegging
     away very quietly in his law office, with increasing business,
     though it is not of a very conspicuous character nor very
     remunerative, I imagine, for he does a great deal of work
     for poor people; but he sticks so closely to his business
     that comparatively few people know that he is here, and one
     of the most characteristic representatives of the Southern
     statesman. He is in constant communication with leading
     Southern men, and knows the true inwardness of the Southern
     feeling and policy in regard to "scaling" the state debts. He
     is an intense anti-repudiationist, and the very thought of a
     thing so dishonorable makes him shiver with rage. But he is
     fully persuaded that the Southern people are determined to
     cut down their obligations materially, and throw overboard
     the carpet-bag debts altogether, if possible. He thinks that
     when the federal government required the Southern people to
     repudiate their Confederate war debts, it taught them a lesson
     in repudiation which they are now disposed to better. The
     public men of the South have not done their duty in frowning
     down this feeling and teaching the people a better policy,
     to say nothing of honesty. Pryor is the soul of honor, is
     chock full of the old-fashioned Virginia chivalric sentiment,
     and altogether too high-minded and large-thoughted to mix
     himself with our local politics. And all the democrats who
     know him and are not politicians agree that he ought to be in

He was ardently opposed to repudiation, and has often expressed
indignation that the South was required to repudiate its Confederate
war debts. As to his being in Congress, he was offered a few years later
the nomination by Tammany, which would have meant sure election—but how
could he pay the assessment demanded by that organization? Because he
could not, he was compelled to decline the honor of going back to his
old seat from the state of his adoption.

Mrs. Grant did me the honor to invite me to a reception she was giving
"to meet General and Mrs. Sheridan." "Of course you'll not go," my
husband suggested. "How can you meet General Sheridan?" "Why not?" I
said. "If he can stand it, I can."

  [Illustration: GENERAL SHERIDAN.]

When Mrs. Grant presented me, the little general—he was shorter than
I—was at first too much astonished for speech. He had hardly supposed
when he parted from me in the house where, in order that he might escape
annoyance, I had been kept by him literally in durance vile, that our
next meeting would be in the drawing-rooms of the wife of his commander.
I gave him time to realize all this, and then I asked him gently, "Do
you remember me, General Sheridan?"

In a moment both hands grasped mine. "Indeed, indeed I do, dear lady—and
I am grateful to Mrs. Grant for giving me this opportunity to tell you
that no man in this country more cordially rejoices at General Pryor's
success than I do." He then recalled Lucy, and bantered her on having
grown "taller than General Sheridan." But the crowd pressed in, and
there was no time for more reminiscences of those terrible ten days in
Petersburg. Mrs. Grant called to W. W. Story and bade him take care of
me. "She has never seen Ulysse!" she exclaimed. "Keep her until six
o'clock. He promised me to come then." Mr. Story, with his beautiful
classic face,—nobody could be as charming,—found a great many delightful
things to say to us, and when our hostess claimed us, General Grant
having arrived, he gallantly laid his hand upon his heart and said: "I
shall not forget you! You and your daughter are photographed here."

Although I had visited Mrs. Grant, I had never seen the general. True, I
had received many emphatic messages from him, but he had then required
no answer. I began to wonder what I should find to say to him—to plan
something very gentle and pleasing in return for his fire and brimstone.
I remembered that he had once told one of my friends that he often
regretted he had never studied medicine instead of military tactics.
Clearly, if it could be brought about by a little skilful management,
no more fitting response to the sulphurous remarks he had made to me at
Petersburg could be imagined than something akin to the healing art.

"This is Ulysse, Mrs. Pryor," said Mrs. Grant, and my hour had come.
He stood silent, throwing, after the manner of men, the burden of
conversation upon the woman before him. Every idea forsook me! I did
not, like Heine in the presence of Goethe, remark upon the excellent
flavor of the plums at Jena, but I found nothing better to say than "How
is it, General, that you permit Mrs. Grant to call you Ulysse?"

"Perhaps from imitation," he replied; "I know a general whose wife calls
him Roger."

He was so simple, so kind, that everything went easily after this. I
could not stifle the recollection of all I had suffered at his hands,
but I had something for which to thank him. We had been invited to
accompany him in his private car when he went to Hartford to attend the
second marriage of Mr. John Russell Young. All my life I have been so
malapropos as to welcome with tears the bride coming to take the place
of a wife whom I had loved, and this time the tears had been on the
wedding day so abundant I was in no condition to go with General Grant.
My youngest school-girl daughter took my place. At every stop on the
road crowds collected to see General Grant, and, with my Fanny on his
arm, he went out on the platform to return the greeting. Now I could
tell him of her pride in the occasion. "The pride was all mine," he
said; "an old fellow with such a beautiful girl on his arm had something
to be proud of."

"There's a very beautiful girl near us," I said to Mrs. Grant, "the
dark-eyed lady in rose moire."

"Why, that's Fred's wife," she answered. "Yes, she is beautiful, and
we are all proud of her;" adding, with a humorous expression, "It has
always been hard for me—this admiration of beauty."

"Do you not care for beauty?" I asked. "Care for it? I worship it! I
used to cry when I was a little girl because I was so ugly. 'Never mind,
Julia,' my dear mother would say, 'you can be my good little girl.' I
used to wish I could ever once be called her 'pretty little girl.'"

But no face as thoroughly kind and good as hers can ever be plain. After
all, is it ever the prettiest faces that are nearest our hearts? Having
known Mrs. Grant for many years, I can truly say I have seen no woman
so free from ostentation or affectation. Kindness of heart, genuine,
sincere desire to make others happy, patience in adversity,—these are
the traits of mind, manner, and heart that won for her so many warm
friends. No other American woman has ever been so much fêted and honored
as she. Most of us have had our little hour—a part of the world we
live in has at one time or another turned upon us eyes of applauding
affection, but she stood beside her husband at every foreign court in
Europe, presiding on occasions when he held private audience with the
greatest potentates of the world. Nothing seemed to mar her perfect
simplicity—her admirable self-forgetfulness. I was engaged one day in
taking a frugal luncheon—tea, toast, a dozen oysters—in my tiny basement
dining-room, when Mrs. Grant's card was handed me.

Running upstairs and saying to my daughter, "Mrs. Grant must have a cup
of tea," I was surprised to find the general seated near the door. After
the greeting, he said gravely, "I don't see why I can't have a cup of
tea as well as Mrs. Grant."

"I will send it to you, General! The doorway on the stair is too low
for you to go down."

"It must be pretty low," he replied; "I've a mind to try it. I've
stooped my head for less."

We divided the dozen oysters among us, brewed more tea, made more
toast and enjoyed the meal—the general inquiring kindly of news from my
husband, who was in England, having been sent by the Irish-Americans to
see what could be done for O'Donnell, the Irish prisoner.

After there was no more to be expected at the lunch table, we adjourned
to the library and I produced the met bullets my boys had found at
Cottage Farm.

He laid it on the palm of his hand and looked at it long and earnestly.

"See, General," I said, "the bullets are welded together so as to form
a perfect horseshoe—a charm to keep away witches and evil spirits."

But the general was not interested in amulets, charms, or evil spirits.
After regarding it silently for a moment, he remarked:—

"Those are minie balls, shot from rifles of equal caliber. And they
met precisely equidistant to a hair. This is very interesting, but it
is not the only one in the world. I have seen one other, picked up at
Vicksburg. Where was this found, and when?" he asked, as he handed the
relic back to me. "At Petersburg, possibly."

"Yes," I answered; "but not when you were shelling the city. It was
picked up on our farm after the last fight."

He looked at me with a humorous twinkle in his eye. "Now look here," he
said, "don't you go about telling people I shelled Petersburg."

A short time before his death, just before he was taken to Mount
McGregor, he dictated a note to me, sending his kind regards to my
general, and saying he remembered with pleasure his talk with me over
a cup of tea.

There is something very touching in all this as I remember it now—his
illness so bravely borne. His death occurred not very long afterward.
No widow ever mourned more tenderly than did Mrs. Grant. I saw her
only once before she went to sleep beside him in the marble temple
on the riverside, and she touched me by her patient demeanor. I had a
friend very close to her in her later days to whom she loved to talk of
her general,—when they met, how he proposed to her. They were riding
together, crossing a rough place in the road. Her horse stumbled and
threw her. The general caught her in his arms and said he was "glad to
safeguard her then, and would be proud to do so to the end." She said
when he came on his wooing there were members of her family who looked
askance at the undersized chap. "Nothing of him but eyes and epaulets,"
Longstreet was quoted as saying of him one evening at a tea-and-toast
euchre party. This seems to have been the opinion of some of Julia
Dent's people, but not of her far-seeing mother, to whom the maiden's
dismay was confided. "Julia, you should marry that young officer, say
what they will about his clumsiness and awkward ways! He is far above
any of the young fellows who come here. He will one day be President of
the United States."

My sisters at the South would, in these early days, have resented
these words of appreciation of General and Mrs. Grant. Not one iota the
less did my allegiance fail to _my_ dear commander in his modest tomb,
guarded perpetually night and day by a son of Virginia, because I could
perceive the tender side, the heroic side, of a foeman worthy of his


In October, 1883, General Pryor was sent to England, as counsel to
defend Patrick O'Donnell, who had been indicted for the murder of James
Carey, and was now imprisoned in London. Carey had been one of the
leaders of the Irish "Invincibles" in 1881, and was an accomplice in the
assassination of Mr. T. H. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish in Phœnix
Park. He was arrested on January 13, 1883, and turned queen's evidence.
In order to escape the vengeance of the "Invincibles," he was secretly
shipped for the Cape under the name of "Power." His plan of escape was
discovered, and he was secretly followed by Patrick O'Donnell, who shot
him before the vessel reached its destination.

The prisoner was an American citizen, and it was thought proper by
some of his personal friends to have American counsel assist the local
lawyers in his defence. There was no political signification in General
Pryor's being retained. He was aware that objection would be urged
against his appearance in an English court. There was no precedent for
his encouragement. The case of Judah P. Benjamin did not apply. Mr.
Benjamin had been born a British subject and had "eaten his dinners" at
the Temple. Only by an act of courtesy on the part of the judge could
General Pryor hope for a hearing. He wrote me, _en route_, on board the
_Scythia_, October 17:—

     "An Irish barrister on board has been my most constant
     companion,—a very intelligent gentleman is he,—and I am
     assured by him that I cannot be admitted to appear in Court,
     the rule of Court excluding from practice any but members of
     the Bar. This does not surprise me. I can be usefully employed
     in consultation and suggestion. I have industriously read in
     the law of homicide, and on those topics I consider myself an

Meanwhile the newspapers were interested in the novel experiment of
sending an American lawyer to defend an American citizen in England, and
searching for some hidden reason for the selection of General Pryor.
"Simply because of his daring spirit," said one. "He will speak out
as another would hesitate to speak." "Not so," said the editor of the
_Irish World_; "General Pryor was selected on account of his ability
as a lawyer. I know of no man who can better represent the American
bar. O'Donnell is an American citizen, and General Pryor will defend
him as an American citizen." A would-be wit in England replied, "He
was selected because he was _prior_ to all others—take notice—_this is

The _New York Times_, November 8, 1883, reminds the public that "an
English barrister would have no standing in an American court, except
by a stretch of courtesy which would be rather violent. To give audience
in court to a foreign counsel would be a great novelty in any country."

The _London Times_ commented on the matter and said, "It is probable
that Mr. Pryor will be permitted to give the accused man all possible
assistance short of taking a public part in the conduct of the case."
Chief Justice Coleridge, recently returned from this country, where
he had been the recipient of many kindly courtesies, was at once
interested, and took an early opportunity to consult leading English
jurists regarding certain amendments in the form of procedure in
the courts, the admission of foreign lawyers being one of the points
discussed. A correspondent of the _Brooklyn Eagle_ visited my husband
in England and wrote to the paper:—

     "I called on General Pryor this morning. He is snugly housed
     at the Craven Hotel in Craven Street, hard by Charing Cross
     and within a minute's walk of the American Exchange. I
     found him immersed in papers relating to the case, but with
     sufficient leisure to greet a fellow-countryman (and an old
     client _en passant_) with his customary courtesy.

     "Legally, the general has had a hard time of it here,—of
     which more anon,—but socially he has been the recipient of
     extraordinary marks of English favor. His romantic career
     as a soldier and as a lawyer is known to everybody, and
     invitations to club breakfasts and the dinner-tables of great
     men have poured in upon him. So far, he has accepted none of
     these, having been entirely preoccupied by the preparation
     of O'Donnell's defence, which, as I understand from other
     sources, is largely General Pryor's. Originally it was
     understood that the trial should occur in October, but it has
     been postponed again and again, and the general's great regret
     is that he was not able to get back to vote.

     "Speaking to me on this subject to-day, a prominent member of
     the English bar said: 'My dear fellow, General Pryor is not
     an exception to the rule. He is simply a prominent instance
     of its operation. You may not be aware that neither a Scotch
     nor an Irish barrister is allowed to plead in English courts.
     If we were to make any exception at all, it would certainly
     be made in favor of General Pryor, who is known to and liked
     by us all.'

     "'But,' I asked, 'how about his appearance in court as a
     matter of courtesy?'

     "'There is no such thing possible, and not even the judge
     has power to extend it. The Benchers of the Inns are the
     authority, and even the objection of a single barrister would
     be fatal.'"

The English papers were, as a class, against his appearance. The _St.
James Gazette_ had long articles on the subject, in one of which the
question is thus settled:—

     "The case of American counsel claiming audience in a criminal
     trial arousing passionate political interest in certain
     circles is admirably calculated to demonstrate the excellence
     of the rule which the Irish-Americans were anxious to have
     broken,—as they supposed in their interests. The only motive
     which O'Donnell could have for wishing (if he does wish it) to
     be heard through foreign counsel would be that that counsel
     should say or do something which English counsel cannot say
     or do. For, however great General Pryor's fame may be in his
     own country, we have no reason to suppose that he is gifted
     with eloquence or persuasive powers so remarkable that he
     might be relied upon to move the hearts of an Old Bailey jury
     impervious to the tried abilities of Mr. Charles Russell and
     the earnest fluency of Mr. A. M. Sullivan. Let us consider,
     then, what it is which these gentlemen could not do, and
     General Pryor, if he got the chance, could do. The principal
     thing is that he could more or less defy the judge, and
     instigate the jury to override the law or take a wrong view
     of the evidence."

The _Gazette_ little knew the manner of man under discussion. "Defy the
law," indeed! He wrote me October 25:—

     "As I have informed you, a rule of the Bar excludes any but
     an English barrister from appearing professionally in the
     courts. I will not allow a motion to be made that I be heard
     in the case, for I do not choose to solicit a favor, nor
     to incur the hazard of a rebuff, nor to expose the American
     Bar to the incivility which would be involved in rejecting
     such an application from one of its members. My presence,
     however, is not without good effect, nor have my services
     been unimportant. Indeed, I may say to you that already I have
     rendered inestimable service to my client."

Meanwhile Sir Charles Russell, afterward Lord Chief Justice of England,
Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Guy, of the British bar, and Roger A. Pryor, of the
American bar, worked faithfully, earnestly, and zealously, step by step,
for the unfortunate prisoner. O'Donnell was a poor, ignorant man, who
could not write his own name. In this country he had been a teamster in
the Federal army during the Civil War. For a long time his countryman
who had come so far to help him was not allowed to see him. Finally,
this much was granted—and of great comfort to the doomed man were the
sympathetic visits of my tender-hearted husband. His trial ended as
everybody knew it must.

General Pryor felt keenly the embarrassment of his position, but before
he left England nearly every club was open to him, and many dinners
given in his honor by Lord Russell, members of the bar, Mr. Justin
McCarthy and other literary men in London.

     "At the royal geographical dinner," he writes, "I sat beside
     Lord Houghton, and opposite Lord Aberdeen, with both of whom I
     had pleasant talk. Other eminent men were there. Invitations
     followed which I must decline, infinitely to my regret, but
     I cannot neglect the business on which I came. A dinner is
     offered me in Dublin. Last evening, however, I was glad to
     dine with Charles Russell, Q.C., and Sunday I drive with
     him to Richmond. He pays me every possible attention, and I
     can see relies upon me in the conduct of the case. I live as
     retired as possible. My clients cannot suspect me of yielding
     to British blandishments! I have had interesting interviews
     with my poor client, in compliance with his urgent entreaty.
     He was very grateful to me and cheered by my presence."

He received marked kindness from Dr. Rae, the Arctic explorer, who had
made important discoveries in King William's Land and found traces of
Sir John Franklin; also in 1864 had made a telegraphic survey across
the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Rae gave several delightful dinners to my
husband, inviting him to meet Huxley, Sir John Lubbock, and sundry
notable chemists and inventors. "Come to us Saturday at half-past
seven," he wrote from Kensington, "a handsome [_sic_] should bring you
in a little over half an hour if the beast is good." At Dr. Rae's he
met Mathilde Blind, "a brilliant woman, a Jewess; and Justin McCarthy,
a shy, silent man, spectacled and quite like a professor." Dining at
the Café Royal, "who should come in and sit opposite to us but the
Baroness Burdett-Coutts and her spouse. She is surprisingly juvenile in
appearance—not at all as she has been represented. Her voice is quite
girlish, and she moves with wonderful agility," etc.

He also met Miss Shaw, who was conducting a bevy of American girls
for a tour of European travel. Some _contretemps_ arose which made
her grateful for his conduct and assistance. The particular young lady
whom he had the honor of escorting and assisting was Miss Stanton. It
suddenly occurred to him that this might be the daughter of his old
enemy, Edwin M. Stanton. The young lady innocently answered his question
affirmatively. She had been the identical baby girl that, eighteen
years before, Stanton had held in his arms as he declared, "Pryor shall
be hanged!" My general might have done several things: he might have
left her alone in a London street to the mercy of ruffians; he might
have used, in a dark corner, the tiny pistol he carried; he might have
drowned her in the Thames; he might have surprised her by increased
devotion and care for her comfort. He chose the last, heaping coals of
fire upon her unconscious head!

Before he returned he visited places peculiarly interesting to him as
a scholar, all of which he described to me charmingly. As far as in
him lay he trod the paths, so sacred to him, once trod by the lumbering
feet of the one Englishman he adores above all others, Dr. Sam Johnson:
sitting at the desk where he wrote his dictionary and marvelling at the
meanness of the desk, looking out of his windows, walking with him and
with Boswell along the familiar streets. He also stood on the spot where
Blackstone delivered his immortal lectures, and on the very spot where
Latimer and Cranmer suffered,—the students at that moment playing near
it a vigorous game of football,—all this, and much more, so natural in
a scholar visiting for the first time the London of which he knew every
spot haunted by the great spirits of the literary world.

After he returned home, he received a long letter from Lord Russell,
telling him that he (Russell) had been sharply criticised for the
conduct of O'Donnell's case, and accused of having managed it in a
negligent and lukewarm manner. He wished his American colleague's candid
opinion on the subject, and also requested his photograph, adding, "I
am sending you mine."

General Pryor answered him cordially and was glad he could say,
"I consider that you defended O'Donnell with the utmost zeal and
enthusiasm, and with consummate skill!" It seems the queen's counsel was
sensitive as well as able. He was afterwards made Lord Chief Justice of


The circle that finally gathered around the fireside in the little
library at 157 Willow Street was long remembered by some of the men who
made it brilliant. John G. Saxe, whom we had known in Washington, was
one of these men. Thither also came the Southern author, William Gilmore
Simms. I remember one evening spent in our tiny library with Mr. Simms,
John R. Thompson, and General Charles Jones, when the trio of literary
men told stories,—not war stories,—ghost stories. Mr. Thompson recalled
a ghost I had known of myself and feared when a child,—the ghost of
the University of Virginia that announced its coming by a sudden wind
bursting open the doors, passed through the room, and walked off across
the lawn to the mountains. His deep foot-tracks could be discerned in
the soft sod, and with snow on the ground these deep tracks could be
seen to grow under his invisible feet as he strode onward. Well do I
remember nights when this ghost "walked." But General Jones had a better
story. His was a visible ghost, an old lady, whose contested will he was
reading one night, who appeared at the challenged point, looked at him
solemnly, and then vanished! Mr. Simms positively declined to mention
his own private ghost after these two thrilling visitations.

We had an interesting visit from Percy Greg, son of the English author.
Mr. Greg brought as a present to my general the proof-sheets of his
father's "Warnings of Cassandra," in which my husband discovered an
error; and according to his lifelong belief that all errors in the
English language are crimes which must be corrected, he proceeded to
enlighten Mr. Greg. "Your father has made a mistake—a slight one—which
he can correct in the next edition. He uses the word 'internecine' where
he clearly means 'intestine.'" Our guest dropped his under jaw, stared,
and reddened. An American correcting an Englishman's English! He had,
I know, respect for my husband's courage, but he had not expected rebel
guns to be turned on him in this manner.

     "This was a length, I trow,
     A rebel's daring could not go,"

if I may paraphrase Gilbert in the Bab Ballads!

But we had more eminent guests than these,—the divines of the City of
Churches, and her learned judges. Foremost and most cordial of all were
the old generals of the Grand Army of the Republic: General Hancock,
General James Fry, General Slocum, General Grant, General Tracy—a
sometime foe in field and forum; and later General Sherman, General
Fitz-John Porter, General Butterfield, and General McClellan were added
to our list of friends.

Among my husband's earliest clients was General Benjamin F. Butler,
who employed him to defend his son-in-law, Hon. Adelbert Ames, when the
latter was impeached by the state of Mississippi.

In the families of these distinguished men we soon found friends, and
to these were added many others. Brooklyn was noted for its refined and
cultivated society, and on Brooklyn Heights many of its most prominent
citizens lived, men whose names are not yet forgotten: Professor and
Mrs. Eaton, our first and dearest friends; Mr. Abbot Low,—whose splendid
monument is the library of Columbia University,—his charming wife and
daughters and his accomplished sons, one of whom was late President of
Columbia University and mayor of New York; Dr. Henry van Dyke, whose
name is famous in two continents as scholar, writer, and orator of
high distinction; John Roebling, the brilliant engineer, architect, and
builder of the great Brooklyn Bridge, whose beautiful wife was sister
of our friend, General Warren; the Hon. S. B. Chittenden and his wife,
a grand dame of the old school; the family of our minister to the Court
of St. James, Mr. Pierrepont; Mr. and Mrs. Alanson Trask, foremost in
all good works; Mr. Henry K. Sheldon, who gave artistic musicals; Mrs.
John Bullard, the patroness of art and leader in society; Mr. and Mrs.
Allen, who gave a lovely daughter to be the wife of Dr. Holbrook Curtis;
Mr. and Mrs. George L. Nichols, with a most dear and charming family of
sons and daughters; one known to the world to-day—at home and abroad—as
Katrina Trask, the brilliant author, poet, and accomplished chatelaine;
Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, now one of America's charming writers; Mrs.
Louise Chandler Moulton; and Grace Denio Litchfield, then a beautiful
young lady, and now a gifted author. These are but a representative
few of the interesting men and women who were kind enough to visit
us. A multitude of lovely young girls gathered around my school-girl
daughters; and when all the army of men turned out on New Year's Day
to observe—as they did religiously—the old-time custom of making calls,
the little house on Willow Street showed symptoms of bursting!

All of these were Northern people, and many of them from New
England,—the New England we had been taught to regard as the stronghold
of our enemies. There was not a Southern-born man or woman among them.
We had always considered the New Englander upright, narrow, and thorny!
Transplanted to Brooklyn, we found him upright indeed, but as harmless
as a thornless rose.

Many of these delightful people in time crossed the East River and
pitched their tents in New York—and many have crossed the river that
flows close to the feet of all of us; and so I imagine society in
what is now known as the Borough of Brooklyn has formed new systems
revolving around new suns. I sometimes read the old names in the society
columns of the Brooklyn journals, and the old pictures rise before me,
delightful and never to be forgotten.

The time had now come, however, when it was imperative for General Pryor
to live in New York, the city where he had commenced his work and had
always kept his office. The first of May found us in a small house on
33d Street.

A letter written by me in the following August gives my opinion of New
York as a summer resort.


     "The colonel declares he means to bring you to New York, and
     wishes me to give you my own impressions of this place. Well,
     all I have to say is 'pray that your flight be not in summer!'
     Anything like the heat and desolation of this town in summer
     cannot be imagined. Everybody leaves it. I am living in a tiny
     house in the heart of the city—and a very hard heart it is!
     On one side of me is the rear of a great hotel, its kitchens
     and servants' offices overlooking me. Really, I had as soon
     hear shrieking shells as the clatter they make with their pots
     and pans. Behind me is a sash and blind factory yielding dust
     and noise unspeakable. On the other side a dreadful man has
     planted a garden, wherein he has spread an awning, and there
     he holds his revels—his card and wine parties. Of course I
     can but listen to him more than half the stifling hot nights,
     but should I remonstrate, it is not improbable he might inform
     me that this is a free country, which I doubt. Lucy and Fanny
     fortunately are far away in Virginia, and so I am spared the
     added discomfort of suffering through their nerves.

     "This town is as completely metamorphosed in summer as if it
     had changed places with some struggling, dusty manufacturing
     city,—building and digging going on everywhere; ugly
     dirt-carts, instead of flower-crowned ladies in landaus,
     passing through the dusty streets. You might, perhaps with
     reason, suggest that I seem to have leisure,—that this is a
     fine opportunity to read and improve my mind. Yes, I know,
     but somehow I have lost all desire to improve my mind! My
     present inclination is to gratify the mind I already have,—go
     somewhere, see something, hear some really fine music!

     "Here there is nothing to be seen except unhappy
     fellow-mortals panting beneath the burden of city existence;
     street arabs making free with the front doorstep and
     improvising tables for their greasy luncheons; pathetic
     organ-grinders who lift melancholy eyes for recognition
     and reward, after harrowing the soul with despairing
     strains—'Miserere,' 'Ah, I have sighed to rest me,' and such;
     unmuzzled little animals in mortal terror of the dog-catcher;
     tired, patient horses who know not their own strength, and
     quietly obey that other creature with so much less power
     and so much more selfishness. All this is not cheerful to
     the looker-out, and having seen it once, I look no more.
     But I have lately made a discovery. My upper-story window
     presents an interesting and instructive landscape. There
     is a low-roofed stable between the hotel and the factory. I
     can look over a great flat tin roof where snowy garments are
     always drying, and upon which, like 'Little Dorritt's' lover,
     I can gaze 'until I 'most think they wuz groves.' Moreover,
     there is a happy woman who comes up through a trap-door and
     walks much under the shadow of those groves. How do I know she
     is happy? Partly by the patter of her busy feet, partly by the
     bit of song that floats to me 'whiles.' But chiefly because
     I have actually found out all about her while I have leaned
     idly out of my window. First, she is very good—this dweller
     beneath the flat roof.

     "On Sunday evenings she tunes up a little melodeon in her
     regions below, and sings straight through the Moody and Sankey
     hymn-book. Nor is this all. For a time I could not discover
     whether she was wife, maid, or mother, and I felt much anxious
     solicitude in her behalf. But lately she has brought up to the
     roof in the evenings a small rocking-chair of the Mayflower
     pattern, some crochet or tatting; and a great cat with an
     enormous upright tail has followed her, and rubbed himself
     comfortably against her knees.

     "She is a blessed little old maid—that's just what _she_ is!
     But the cat is not the only 'follower.' A wholesome-looking
     Englishman (side-whiskers, fresh complexion, china aster in
     buttonhole) comes now and then. The little Mayflower chair
     rocks a bit more nervously, the cat is overwhelmed with
     surprise by receiving a slight push from the tidy slipper, the
     tatting takes on new energy, and I see—well, now, you surely
     don't expect me to tell you what I see? Nothing very dreadful
     nor altogether unusual in the sphere of my happy woman and
     the British coachman, who has her in his 'heye' and is surely
     going to have her in his 'ome by and by.

     "But when my tired general comes home to me and keenly
     scans my face to discover whether I am pining for the pines
     or sighing for the sea, I cannot disgrace myself in his
     eyes by revealing my low interest in my happy woman. Least
     of all reveal my own loneliness! I show him the lovely
     little window-box where I have a climbing nasturtium, a
     morning-glory, and a curious strong vine that has prehensile
     fingers at the end of every cluster of leaves. I show him the
     curious ways of these strong climbers—how the nasturtium has
     no tendrils, but a great fleshy stalk to be supported, and
     so when it grows too tall to stand alone, it puts forth at
     intervals a leaf with a mission; as soon as this leaf feels
     the touch of the string, it contracts and wraps its brittle
     stalk thrice around it—in and out, as you would wind your ball
     of silk. And how the great long feelers of the morning-glory
     behave just like ourselves. They look abroad for something
     to lean upon, waving restlessly to and fro. Finding nothing,
     they deliberately turn and _lean upon themselves_!

     "My general pities me because the square of blue sky into
     which I am always looking is so small. But I tell him of all
     the glories and marvels I have seen there, between the high
     stone dwellings that shut it in: how a rainbow spanned it
     once; how my Lady Moon looks down in some of her phases and
     tells me of her hard life of hopeless bondage—while mine is
     but for a little time; how the Pleiades have been seen in my
     small heaven and bound me with sweetest influences; how my
     friend, the Great Bear, straddles across for a look at me, and
     a reminder that he knows me very well, and knew generations
     of my fathers long before the twenty-three generations that
     I know of myself.

     "And I have still more to tell him of the lovely time I am
     having in my room—how I have watched a fairy castle grow
     against my sky. How I saw at first a derrick spring aloft,
     and then many tiny spirits of the air build away on a square
     foundation; how they made port-holes in the top looking every
     way for the Mafia or any other enemy, and over this threw
     arches and fairy adornment of cunning work in white marble;
     how they threw up a rocket then and hung out electric lights,
     and I supposed their work was over and their airy castle
     finished, but they then mounted a great calcium light to let
     the incoming ships from foreign lands know our eye is upon
     them; how they built another and still another story to their
     castle—four in all, and were still building. And I call his
     attention to a strange bird coming regularly at the same hour
     in the evening, sailing (with 'a raucous voice') across our
     dwelling and into my own little plantation in the sky. He
     is of the species vulgarly called 'Bat'—and so I named him
     our Fledermaus. At precisely the same hour every morning has
     he come back again, screaming triumphantly, or putting on a
     bold front to account to his mate in Central Park how he had
     spent the night in the Long Island marshes. The first time
     the flashlight was kindled in my castle in the air and its
     searching glance fell upon the recreant Fledermaus, he wheeled
     around and made his circuit in another direction, and we shall
     hear his raucous voice no more!

     "Which is additional proof of what we know already:
     'Conscience makes cowards of us all.' Or perhaps it is
     only that no self-respecting Fledermaus can be expected to
     countenance flashlights at hours when sensitive folk are
     coming home in the morning.

     "My general listens respectfully while I go through all
     this. 'Evidently "stone walls do not a prison make,"' is his
     comment. 'Here are you interested in botany, astronomy, and in
     building the Madison Square Garden.' 'Garden! Do stone walls
     a garden make?' 'Here in New York they do,' he tells me; 'a
     great, hot theatre is to be called a garden and crowned by
     Diana of the Ephesians! St. Gaudens is making the goddess. But
     _you'll_ not need gardens or goddesses to make you happy! Ah!
     What a wonderful woman you are—so content, so cheery in spite
     of all our privations.' Which shows what poor creatures men
     are, as far as discernment goes, regarding the ways of women;
     for my dear, oh, my dear!—a very lonely, homesick, heartsick
     body is

                                                 "Your devoted
                                                     "SARA A. PRYOR.

     "P.S.—I am a wretch—I know I am—to end my letter with a howl.
     But an organ-man under my window is grinding away at 'Home,
     Sweet Home.' He must be driven away or I perish! There he goes
     again—'The Old Folks at Home'! I must put both my sofa pillows
     over my ears! Dearly, S. A. P."


Early in the winter I had a visit from a beautiful young lady, an orphan
daughter of a rear admiral of whom I had known in former days. She had
found herself temporarily embarrassed, and had planned an afternoon of
music and reading, was about to send out some cards, and wished me to
be one of her patronesses. I gladly consented, and on the afternoon
designated, went to her boarding-house near the Park, her landlady
having kindly given her rooms for the entertainment. I was early, and
as nobody appeared I pressed the negro boy at the door into my service,
and placed some palms I found at hand, arranged the desk, and awaited
the reader and her audience. Presently Bishop Potter entered, carrying
the bag which held his robe, on his way, perhaps, to christen a baby.
I knew him "by sight," and ventured to introduce myself, simply as
"Mrs. Pryor," explaining my presence. He told me of his interest in
the occasion and in the young lady who was to read, adding, "I know
little of her qualification for her task, but I _did_ know her father."
Presently who should walk in, tall, grim, and unattended, but General
Sherman! The bishop instantly presented me as Mrs. General Roger A.
Pryor. I was so wrought upon, finding myself in this awful presence,
that I exclaimed, "Oh, General Sherman! _Never_ did I think I should
find myself in the same boat with _you_!"

He looked at me gravely a moment, and said: "Now see here! I'm not as
black as I am painted."—"And I," said the bishop, "am sorry, sorry, to
find the wife of my good friend, the general, willing to remember things
past and gone forever."

"Well," said General Sherman, "if she doesn't forbid me the house, I
should like to call on General Pryor! I'm told they have the cosiest
little home in New York."

He did call, and so did his charming daughter, Rachel, whom I liked,
and hope I made my friend.

As to the "reading"—Mrs. Botta, Mrs. Bettner, the two great ones and my
own small self were the major part of the audience,—fit though few,—but
I must confess that no occasion could have been to me fraught with more
interest, more significance. My thoughts rushed back to the time when
the man before me had marched through an unhappy Southern state without
even a wheelbarrow to intercept his way, when all laws of civilized
warfare were sent to the winds, and the women and children, in a belt
sixty miles wide, were plundered and driven from their homes; returning,
after he had passed, to weep over the blackened plains he left behind
him. In his official report of his operations in Georgia he said:
"We consumed the corn and fodder in the region thirty miles on either
side, from Atlanta to Savannah, also the sweet potatoes, hogs, sheep,
and poultry, and carried off more than ten thousand horses and mules.
I estimated the damage done to the state of Georgia at one hundred
millions of dollars, at least twenty millions of which inured to our
benefit, and the remainder was simply waste and destruction."[8] But
the blame for this pillage must be placed higher than the shoulders of
General Sherman.

On December 18, 1863, Major-general Halleck thus instructed him: "Should
you capture Charleston, I hope by _some accident_ the place may be
destroyed, and if a little salt should be sown on the site, it might
prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and treason."

Sherman replied December 24, 1863:—

     "I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not
     think 'salt' will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth
     Corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their
     position will naturally bring them to Charleston first,—and
     if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have
     remarked that they generally do their work pretty well. The
     truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire
     to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at
     her fate, but feel she deserves all that seems in store."

A solid wall of smoke by day, forty miles wide and from the horizon
to the zenith, gave notice to the women and children of the fate that
was moving on them. All day they watched it—all night it was lit up by
forked tongues of flame lighting the lurid darkness. The next morning
it reached them. Terror borne on the air, fleet as the furies spread
out ahead, and murder, arson, rapine, enveloped them.

  [Illustration: MRS. VINCENZO BOTTA.]

But why repeat the story? This was war, war that spares not the
graybeard, childhood, aged women, holy nuns—nobody! Not upon one only
does the responsibility for such crimes rest. Nor is it for us to
desire, or mete out, an adequate punishment. The Great Judge "will
repay"—unless, as I humbly pray, He has forgiven, as we have forgiven,
and I trust been ourselves forgiven.

No Southerner, however, can wholly forget, as he stands before the
splendid statue made by St. Gaudens, at what price the honors to this
man were bought. The angel may bear, to some eyes, a palm of victory,
and proclaim, "Fame, Honor, Immortality, to him whom I lead." To the eye
of the Southerner the winged figure bears a rod, and the bronze lips a

Our earliest and most faithful friends in our new home were Judge Edward
Patterson (our first visitor) and his amiable and gifted family. Much
of our happiness was due to their sympathetic attentions, at a time when
we had few friends.

One of my early friends in New York was Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, whom I
had met at the house of Mrs. Dix when we were negotiating with Colonel
Mapleson, Patti, and Nicolini. She was then about sixty-nine years
old. She died seven years after she first came to my little home in 33d
Street, and a warm friendship grew to full maturity in those few years.
Without beauty she had yet a charming presence, with no evidences of
age, although the little black lace mantilla she wore over her curls was
her own confession. She was the only woman who held at the time, or has
held since, anything like a real salon. Nobody was ever known to decline
an invitation to that house. It was one of the large, old-fashioned
houses near Fifth Avenue, with San Domingo mahogany doors, wide
staircase, and four spacious rooms on each floor. There were tapestries
on the walls, a few good pictures, three busts,—one of Salvini, one of
the hostess's husband, the other her maid,—wood fires, and fresh flowers
every day. The gracious white-haired lady at the head of the house
had a charm born of long experience in all the gentle ministrations of
life; her mind was beautifully cultivated, the bluest blood filled her
veins; but not from her lips did one learn anything of her distinguished
antecedents, although she had been an author, a sculptor, and poet.
She came nearer to the distinction of holding a salon than any one who
has ever lived in New York. At her receptions might be found Salvini,
Edwin Booth, Modjeska, Christine Nilsson, and every distinguished author
and diplomat who visited the city. Nobody was ever hired to entertain
her guests—they entertained each other. Sometimes a great singer would
volunteer a song, or a poet or an actor give something of his art, of
course never requested by the hostess. Sometimes the evening would close
with a dance.

One often wondered at the ease with which Mrs. Botta could gather around
her musicians, artists, actors, authors, men and women of fashion,
men conspicuous in political life,—every one who had in himself some
element of originality or genius. Her salon was not inaptly termed
a reproduction of Lady Blessington's or the Duchess of Sutherland's.
A card to her _conversazione_, as she preferred to term it, was, as
I have said, eagerly sought, and never declined. Her afternoon teas
were famous; but her dinners! I do not mean the terrapin and wines—the
table-talk in this mansion was the attraction. Everybody came away
not only charmed, but encouraged; thinking better of himself, and by
consequence better of his fellow-creatures.

Dinners like these are constantly given to-day all over the country.
Perhaps our best and highest people—those that constitute the honor
and pride of our social life, and redeem our manners from the criticism
to which they are subjected—are the people who manage never to appear
in the papers. They give dinners of great taste and beauty that are
never described. At their tables are gathered the wit and wisdom of
many lands, and whatever accessories can be commanded by taste and
wealth. These stars of the social firmament revolve in a sphere of their
own,—around no wealthy or titled sun,—but around each other. Vitalized
by one powerful magnet, they at once, like iron filings, attract each

I had known nothing of Mrs. Botta's prestige nor of her friendship
with Emerson, Carlyle, Froude, Fanny Kemble, Frederika Brémer, Daniel
Webster, Charles O'Connor, Fitz-Greene Halleck, even Louis Kossuth,
when she first visited me, introducing herself; nor did she ever allude
to any one or anything (as so many do!) to impress me with her claims
to my consideration. A most fascinating talker herself, she proceeded
simply to draw me on gently to talk of myself,—and no magnet can draw
like human sympathy. I once found myself telling her something of my
experience in time of war, encouraged by her splendid eyes fixed upon
me in rapt attention.

Presently their light was veiled in tears, and rising from her seat she
took me in outstretched arms and kissed me. No wonder that the soul of
Jonathan was knit to the soul of David from that hour.

She could even sympathize with so small a matter as my dolors anent the
hot summer I had passed—"Yes, yes," she said, "I know all about it."
She had written a dismal catalogue of the miseries of the dog-days, of
which I remember the concluding lines:—

     "When Phœbus and Fahrenheit start a rampage
     Then there's heat, no thoughts of a blizzard assuage;
     And when 'General Humidity' joins in the tilt
     Like plucked flowers of the field the poor mortal must wilt,
     Till he cries like the wit, in disconsolate tones,
     To take off his flesh and sit in his bones!
     But for all that, my dear, to make myself clear,
     Give me New York for nine months of the year—
     With all its shortcomings there's no place so dear!
     With its life and its rush, what it does and has done,
     There's no city like it under the sun."

In which I have come to agree with her.

In her drawing-rooms, beautiful by specimens of her own work,—for she
was a sculptor and exquisite needlewoman as well as poet and graceful
hostess,—I met many of the literary lights of the day, as well as
society women of New York. "I shall give a reception to Miss Murfree,"
she once told me. "Why?" I asked. "Is she one of your great people?"
"Do you remember," said Mrs. Botta, with a twinkling eye, "'Dorinda
Cayce'?" I remembered Dorinda Cayce in the "Prophet of the Great Smoky
Mountain," who had gone through storms of snow and tempest to win pardon
for her lover in prison, only to discover at the end he was but an
ordinary, selfish mortal. There was nothing so remarkable about that, I
submitted. "Ah! but don't you remember how she explained the wonderful
fact that, with all his faults, _she_ had loved him and had been ready
to die for him? 'No—no—' said Dorinda, 'I _never_ loved _you_! I loved
what I _thunk_ you was.' Then and there," said Mrs. Botta, "she reached
deep down into the mysteries of a woman's heart. We love what we _think_
they are! I shall give her a reception."

I had met William Cullen Bryant five or six years before, not long
before he died (I have seen so many setting suns!), and Mrs. Botta, who
had known him well, was interested in my account of an interview with
him. We had come over from Brooklyn to attend a reception which the
publisher of Johnson's Encyclopædia gave to his contributors. One of
his articles had been written by my husband. At this reception I also
met Bayard Taylor, Clarence Stedman, and others, with whose talents
in invective against the South I was familiar. But I bore them no
malice. I was especially anxious to speak with the old poet, and sought
an introduction to him. When the crowd passed on to the refreshment
rooms, I observed him standing alone, leaning upon the grand piano,
and I ventured to join him. Supper _versus_ William Cullen Bryant!
There could be but one conclusion. I made bold to hope he was well, as
I stood almost spellbound before his fine gray head. I found myself
hoping something more. I was willing he should hate treason with all
his heart—but I did wish he could ever so little like the traitor!

"Oh, yes," he replied to my question, "I am perfectly well. But I find
I am growing old."

"I warrant," said I, "you could struggle for your oysters with the best
of them."

"True," he replied, "but that is not the trouble. I forget people's

"A poet can afford to forget. Only politicians need be careful."

"Nobody can afford to be unkind," answered the old poet.

"Names are small matters," I suggested. "If you remember faces, you are
all right."

"Oh, no," said he, "you must remember names. I did not arrange this
drama in which we are all acting, but I know a part of my rôle is to
remember names. If I am presented to Mr. Smith, and I meet him next day
in Broadway, I think it was intended I should say 'Good morning, Mr.
Smith.' Otherwise, why was I presented to him? If I have forgotten his
name, I have forgotten my part, and lose the only opportunity that will
ever be given me in this world of being polite to Mr. Smith."

Mrs. Botta delighted in such incidents as this. I wish she could have
laughed with me over an attempt my Gordon (Mrs. Henry Rice) made to
introduce Mr. Bryant to a class of poor white boys she was teaching at a
night-school in her home on a great tobacco plantation in Virginia. She
had taught them to read and write, some arithmetic and geography, even
some Latin; and was minded to awaken the æsthetic instincts which she
believed must exist in the poor fellows. She read them Bryant's "Ode to
a Waterfowl." "Now, boys," she said eagerly, "tell me how _you_ would
feel if you had seen this." There was dead silence. Appealing to the
most hopeful of her sons of toil, she received an enlightening response,
"I wouldn't think nuthin'." "What would you say?" she persisted. "Wall—I
reckon I'd say, 'Thar goes a duck!'"

Nobody was kinder to us than Edmund Clarence Stedman. On Tuesdays and
Fridays one might always find a welcome—no cards were issued—and a
small, choice company of literary men and women in his drawing-rooms.
Mr. Stedman was the soul of kindness. His "friends from the Old
Dominion" were just as welcome as if he had never written "Abraham
Lincoln, give us a MAN" to crush out our "rebellion." No man could
have been more generous to authors, himself so polished and graceful a
writer. I remember in my own first timid venture—I had written something
for the _Cosmopolitan Magazine_—that he made haste to welcome me, to say
my essay was "charmingly written," and to add, "I have always observed
that whatever a lady chooses to write has something, an air, that the
rest of us can never attain,"—which goes to prove the chivalry, if not
the perception, of dear Mr. Stedman.

In the eighties there were other houses where purely literary receptions
were held weekly: notably at President Barnard's, also at Mrs. Barrow's,
affectionately known by her own _nom de plume_, "Aunt Fanny," and
thus recorded to-day in encyclopædias of literature. Mrs. Andros B.
Stone also gathered the elect in her drawing-rooms. There I saw again
the gentle Madame Modjeska. There I met Henry M. Stanley, thronged
with admirers, and with great drops of perspiration on his heated
brow,—declining to say to me "nay" when I asked if this were not worse
than the jungles of Africa!

What a life he had led, to be sure! We first heard of him as a soldier
in the Confederate army; then in the Union navy. He represented "the
Blue and the Gray"—he had worn them both. We all know of his search for
Dr. Livingstone, of his subsequent marches through the Dark Continent;
of his perils by land, perils by sea, courage and fortitude. And now
here he was—quite like other people—in an evening coat with a gardenia
in his button-hole, and with an English bride all in white and gold,
and still young enough to fill the measure of his glory with more

I was early elected a member of the Wednesday Afternoon Club, proposed
by Mrs. Botta, whose first able contribution—a review of Matthew
Arnold's essay, "Civilization in the United States"—enlightened me as to
what might be expected of me when my turn came to provide a paper for
discussion. I think I disappointed Mrs. Botta by persistently "begging
off" from this duty—implied by my consent to become a member of the
club, which included Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, Mrs. R. W. Gilder, Mrs.
Almon Goodwin, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Miss Kate Field, Mrs. George
Haven Putnam, and other literary women. Mrs. John Sherwood was one of
our grande dames, altogether a very notable personage in her prime,
a much-travelled lady, the friend of Lord Houghton, Daniel Webster,
and other great lights. She could always gather a large and admiring
audience at her literary conferences. She lived to an old age, and never
ceased to be "a personage"—a very fine type of a high-born, high-bred,
intellectual woman. These reunions, which led society in the eighties,
afforded opportunity for the man or woman of versatile talent. Anybody
can harangue or read an essay or exploit a special fad or hobby. Anybody
can chatter, but how many of us can pass a thought "like a bit of flame"
from one to another; or turn, like a many-faceted gem, a scintillating
flash in every direction? This is possible! This made the charm of
the French salon, and makes the charm to-day of more than one little
drawing-room that I wot of, which has never been described in the
society columns of the newspapers.

I must not dare put myself on record as enjoying only "high thinking."
The great Dr. Johnson liked gossip, so did Madame de Sévigné, so did
Greville, and hundreds of other delightful people. So do I! But I draw a
line at some modern gossip,—whether Mrs. Claggett's domestic unhappiness
will reach the climax of a divorce, whether she will better herself in
her next venture; whether Mrs. Billion will really have any difficulty
in getting into society, or what on earth Lord Frederick could see
in that pug-nosed Peggy Rustic, who hasn't even the saving grace of a
little money. I am afraid of personalities, and yet we cannot always
discuss politics and religion. Men have been burnt at the stake for
talking politics and religion!

I have never sympathized in the wholesale abuse of New York society—and
by this much-used word I mean the society defined by Noah Webster as
"that class in any community which gives and receives entertainments."
Necessarily a city like New York must be made up of many contrasting
elements—but I believe the true leaven of good society is always here,
and will in the end inevitably prevail to the leavening of the whole.
One cannot fail to observe in the modern novels that profess to expose
it situations that could, under no circumstances, ever have occurred
in decent society. The facility with which men and women of humble
antecedents reach high position here is easily explained. Their early
disadvantages have taught them enterprise, to look out for their own
advantage and seize every opportunity. They have ambition. Hence they
are "climbers." The lowest rung in the ladder successfully reached,
there is foothold for the next. They are not sensitive. "Snubbed?" said
one. "Of course! Isn't everybody snubbed?" It is not wonderful that New
York receives them. Their wits are sharpened. They are very agreeable,
very supple, very adaptable. _Au reste!_ Well, they learn. There are
books on "Manners and Social Usages" to be had for a dime or two. There
is one called "The Gentleman" which was popular in the nineties. To have
read Mr. Howells on this book is to long to quote him.

"We have lately seen how damaging Mr. McAllister could make himself to
the best society of New York by his devout portrayal of it, and now
another devotee of fashion is trying to play the iconoclast with the
ideal of gentleman.

"Do read 'Gentleman.' It is the most delicious bit of ridiculous
flunkyism that has appeared yet—always excepting the great success in
that line. After instructing the proposed gentleman about his cravats
and pocket-handkerchief, and not to cross his legs or wink or pick his
teeth, the author concludes: 'In making an offer of marriage, when the
lady replies affirmatively, immediately clasp her in your arms'!"

But after all said and done against society, I have always liked it.
I have not the least wish to turn reformer. It will work out its own
salvation as to important characteristics, and we can afford to laugh
at its ridiculous ways. We know it is "too bad for blessing," but at
the same time "it is too good for banning."

"I overheard Jove," said Silenus, "talking of destroying the earth;
he said he had failed; they were all rogues and vixens, going from bad
to worse. Minerva said she hoped not; they were only ridiculous little
creatures with this odd circumstance: if you called them bad, they would
appear bad; if good, they would appear so; and there was no one person
among them who would not puzzle her owl—much more all Olympus—to know
whether it was fundamentally good or bad." It all depends upon the point
of view, and in a difference of opinion between Jove and Minerva I do
not hesitate.

But if I may be allowed one more word, I think the trouble about our
New York society is that we have too much of it. We have no leisure
to select. And then we seem to be always _en representation_—as
Senior said of an American girl. We are consumed with a desire to
make an impression,—that deadly foe to good manners,—or else we wrap
ourselves in reserve like a garment. Of the two I think I prefer the
former—anything but the icy dulness of the intense inane.

To tell the truth, we are heavy—we Americans. We cannot pass quickly,
"like a bit of flame," from one thing to another. We are rarely gracious
enough to wish to please, but if we do, our compliments are not an
ethereal touch, but flattery broadly laid on with spade and trowel.
Chesterfield says, "Human nature is the same all over the world."
That is, doubtless, true,—we hear it quoted often enough,—but there
is a great deal more of it in some places than in others. There is an
enormous quantity of human nature in New York. After all, it is not as
subtle as we imagine. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu declares that in all
her life she had seen but two species of human beings—men and women! We
cannot agree with her,—we have seen others,—but we have faith that all
things are working together for good, and good only, in our social life,
indications to the contrary, reports to the contrary, notwithstanding.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our little house on 33d Street was the theatre of many pleasant events.
There I found my friends on my Thursdays at home. There my daughter
Lucy was married. Among her wedding presents was an interesting bit
of embroidery from the wife of our Minister to Turkey, S. S. Cox.
Mr. Cox had sent it with a letter, at the conclusion of which he
explained,—remembering my supposed interest in Southern dialect,—"I am
sorry to be so stupid, but the truth is I'm mighty tired! I have been
toting Americans over Constantinople all day."

I answered, requesting a key to the embroidery, and added, "I am sorry
to find that the onerous duties of our Minister to the Ottoman Empire
include the bearing upon his back or in his arms the bodies of visiting
Americans, etc. ('Tote,' an old English word now obsolete, is still
used by Southern negroes for bearing a burden, not for conducting or
escorting.)" Here is Mr. Cox's reply:—

                                    "U. S. LEGATION, CONSTANTINOPLE,
                                                      "May 22, 1886.


     "If your daughter was half as much pleased with my wife's
     little gift as your letter made me, then the _entente
     cordiale_ between the Bosphorus and the Hudson is firmly
     established. These little ministrations are very little; but—

          "'To the God that maketh all
          There is no great—there is no small.'

     Some Brahmin said that! I think it is one of Emerson's petty
     larcenies from the Orient; but it is ever so true. Now

          "'On what a slender thread
          Hang everlasting things,'

     as the Methodists used to sing! Here, on my little word
     'tote,' you hang a social and philological disquisition! I
     will not discuss the word in its Africanese dialect; but I
     take the noble red man—whose totem is his household god; and
     in this sense, in this connection, let the doyley be revered,
     as your husband would say, _totus atque rotundus_.

     "The bit of Oriental work with its cabalistic characters bears
     the Sultan's monogram. It has a story, too—this monogram. It
     is said to be seen in blood in one of the temples of Stamboul,
     St. Sophia, on a column so high up that a man of my size
     can't see it. It is said that the blood came from the hand of
     Mahomet II when he rode into the church. It is shaped like
     a hand, you may see. Another tale not so harrowing: It is
     that Amurath, when he made the first treaty with a Christian
     power,—a small republic of Ragusa,—lost his temper and
     dipped his five fingers in ink, and thus made his mark on the
     parchment. This is the _tongbra_, or seal. The present Sultan
     has added a flower to his handicraft.

     "All this goes on the supposition that the embroidery sent
     Miss Lucy has the cipher on it, but as Mrs. Cox is out
     bazaaring,—or shopping,—I must guess at it.

     "All I can add is to express my regards for your husband, who
     is my _beau ideal_ in many ways. Doubtless he is your 'bold
     idol,' as a young lady said. Tell him when the time comes, to
     warm that place for me! I will go back to Congress
and die in harness. I don't want to die here,—in fact I don't want to
die at all as yet, for life has so much blessing and beauty—in spring!

"Mrs. Cox and I go this evening to dine at the palace of Zildez—the
pleasure-house of the Sultan. It is not mutual that I must take my
Only One to see him and I can't see any one of his ten thousand and
altogether lovely.

                                                   "Yours faithfully,
                                                             "S. S. COX."


I have always thought that New York's Centennial celebration in 1889 was
largely responsible for the patriotic societies of men and women which
have swept the country.

Everybody was willing at the time of the celebration to sit for two
entire days on rude seats under the April sun while the evidences of the
power and achievements of our great country passed in review before us.

We remember the military pomp of the first day, the dignified carriage
of the governors of our United States as they bared their heads in
gracious acknowledgment of the cheers of the people, the triumphant
blare of trumpets, the stirring strains of martial music, the glitter
of bayonets, the long, living line, which was only a small part of the
nation's bulwark against its possible foes.

Then the schools and colleges, then the gorgeous civic parade and
the illustrations and representatives of the trades, occupations, and
nationalities that have found a home in our broad land.

All this passed before us and is but dimly remembered. No permanent
impression was made by the great display. Little remains except the
recollection that there were millions and millions of people lining our
pavements, that the show was hardly adequate to the expectation of these
people, that it was a time of many mistakes and much discomfort.

But this pageant was not all of the Centennial. A number of men of taste
and feeling had conceived the happy idea of collecting revolutionary
relics, papers, and portraits, and exhibiting them in the Metropolitan
Opera House.

We expected to be interested in these, and some of us gave time and
thought to the task of making the collection as choice as possible. But
we were unprepared for the effect of the exhibition upon the minds of
the beholders. We filed along the galleries of the Metropolitan Opera
House and mused over the papers of "The Cincinnati"; the books, few
and well worn; pocket dictionaries with bookplates, candlesticks that
had held the tallow dips in difficult times; silver caddies that had
done duty in the "tea-cup times"; pewter platters that had served many
a frugal meal at Valley Forge; the curtains that had shaded the bed of
Lafayette; the piano-cover embroidered by sweet Nellie Custis; pathetic
empty garments, the silken coat of George Washington, the brown silk
gown of Martha Washington. We remembered at what price the glories of
the preceding days had been purchased. We lived over the early times
of anxiety, privation, and danger. Raising our eyes to the walls, we
encountered the pictured eyes of the men and women whose spirit, behind
our little army, had compelled events and given dignity and importance
to our Revolutionary history.

It was difficult to associate thought, learning, courage, foresight, and
statesmanship with those placid faces. Artists of that day presented
only the calm, impassive features of their sitters. There was George
Washington, serene in every pose, dress, and age; Alexander Hamilton,
Richard Henry Lee, keen-eyed Patrick Henry, Martha Washington, Elizabeth
Washington, fair Nelly Custis, dark-eyed Frances Bland, whose patriot
brother fills a lost grave in Trinity churchyard. These and scores of
others looked down upon us from the walls of our great opera-house.

And yet it is this, and this only, of all the pageant that made a
living and lasting impression upon the minds of the people. Pondering
upon the associations connected with these relics and portraits of the
Revolutionary time, and rereading the histories connected with them,
an impulse was given which is now thrilling our people to the extremest
bounds of our country, and which will result in our taking proper steps
to acquire and preserve all the localities connected with the struggle
for our independence.

I was keenly interested in the celebration. I knew the president, Mr.
Henry Marquand, and took upon myself the duty of collecting portraits
from Virginia—of Patrick Henry, members of the Washington family, Nelly
Custis, Frances Bland, and others. I cherish an engraved resolution
of thanks adopted by the committee, stating that such thanks were
"especially due" for my "valuable cooperation in the work of the Loan
Exhibition of portraits."

The influence of the feeling inspired at the time of the Centennial at
once expressed itself in the formation of the societies of patriotic men
and women now so numerous in this country. I assisted in the foundation
of these societies—the Preservation of the Virginia Antiquities, the
association owning Jamestown; the Mary Washington Memorial Association;
the Daughters of the American Revolution; and the National Society of
the Colonial Dames of America. The duty of organizing a chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution was assigned to me, and I named it
"The New York City Chapter." Mrs. Vincenzo Botta was my first member,
and Mrs. Martha Lamb, honorary life member. I was much in conference
with Mrs. Martha Lamb when she was helping to organize the Colonial
Dames—and I was early, heart and soul, interested in the Daughters of
the American Revolution. Of Jamestown and the noble society which owns
it—everybody knows. I managed a great ball at the White Sulphur Springs
to help build a monument over Mary Washington's grave. The governors of
New York and of Virginia each sent flags—from the state of my birth and
the state of my adoption. General Lee conducted the Mary Washington of
the hour. The Virginia beauties wore their great grandmother's gowns
of quilted petticoat and brocade, and I received a large sum for the

For the Mary Washington monument Mrs. Charles Avery Doremus, with Mrs.
Wilbur Bloodgood, gave a beautiful play, for which the Secretary of
the Navy lent me colors enough to drape the entire house. I cherish
the permit I received to use these colors. It was signed "George
Dewey"! Patti, the guest of Mrs. Ogden Doremus, occupied one of the
boxes. The orchestra played "Home, Sweet Home," and she rose and bowed
as only Patti can bow. I talked with her between acts and told her
what a naughty, candy-loving little ten-year-old maid she had been
when she _would_ stay in Petersburg with Ellen Glasgow's mother, and
Strakosch had to pay her to sing with a hatful of candy! All this she
received with her own merry, rippling laughter. It was a kind deed—the
great singer to give an afternoon of her time to encourage me in my
enterprise, and charm my amiable amateurs by her hearty applause.
Authorized by my chief, the widow of Chief Justice Waite, I made
the Princess Eulalia and the Duchess of Veragua members of the Mary
Washington Memorial Association, and conferred upon them the Golden Star
of the order. This was a pleasant souvenir for them of the Columbian

The societies based upon Colonial and Revolutionary descent deprecate
the idea that anything tending to the creation of an aristocracy is
intended by their action,—that they attach any other significance to
the accident of birth than the presumption that it insures interest
and perpetuity;—that there is any motive underlying their movement less
noble than the pure principle of patriotism. Americans, notwithstanding
their adulation of foreign titles, have been until lately somewhat
sensitive lest they should be thought to assume a right to aristocracy.
When Bishop Meade was collecting material for his "History of Old
Families and Churches in Virginia," he found the owners of hereditary
arms and crests actually ashamed to confess the fact! They felt with
Napoleon a desire to create rather than inherit nobility.

The spirit of the times now seems to tend to the American aristocracy
of birth, but on the republican foundation of merit, character and
service done; not an aristocracy which assumes the right to social rule
because of birth, but an aristocracy which recognizes birth as a bond
and an obligation. "There can be," said Bishop Potter, "only one true
aristocracy in all the world—that of character enriched by learning."

It is interesting to observe the laws that govern enthusiasm. It is
like "the wind that bloweth where it listeth"—and no man can discover
its source. Once in a hundred years a great wave of patriotic ardor
has surged over this continent. Nathaniel Bacon lived a hundred years
too soon when he struck the first blow against the tyranny of England.
A hundred years later his spirit possessed our revolutionary fathers.
Another hundred years passed, and the whole country responded to a
similar instinct of patriotism. It is sure to go on and on, and be
renewed and invigorated at every centennial celebration; and who will
be able to number the ranks, or estimate the strength or compute the
riches, or rightly value the influence of the sons and daughters of the
American Revolution?

In addition to this and other patriotic societies, a very important
national society was formed of the Colonial Dames of America, in which
I was interested. No state leads in this association—all are upon an
equal footing. The applicant cannot apply, paradoxical as this appears!
Her own place in the world, however noble her lineage, must also be
considered. She must be gentle of manner as well as gentle of blood.

It is distinctly understood that this society is a firm, though silent,
protest against that aristocracy which considers itself best because
it is highest on the tax list and bank list. There is not the remotest
suggestion of an aggressive spirit, but the steady trend is against
plutocracy, arrogance, and that impertinent assumption of place notable
in this country in those who have no foundation for pride beneath the
surface of the earth, and no aspiration above it.

One of the sure prophecies of our future prosperity and honor may be
found in the number and importance of the patriotic societies of women.
For, however individuals may sully them by personal pride and ambition,
or restrict them by a spirit of exclusiveness antagonistic to the
fundamental principles upon which they are based, their very existence
proves the decided reaction from certain grave evils which are well
known and which certainly will be, unchecked, a source of peril to our
beloved country.

I believe in the true-hearted American woman. I have known her in every
phase of human experience: in poverty, in suffering, in disaster, in
prosperity. I proudly rank myself beside her! Whatever fickle fashion
or wayward fancy may decree for her, I know if there be one passionate
desire above all others which inspires her heart, it is to leave this
world better and happier for her having been born into it,—to become
herself a bright exemplar of the beauty of goodness, so that all may
be won by the loveliness of lovely lives; to let the whole trend of her
life be forward, not backward; upward, not downward; to borrow from the
fires of the heroic past to kindle the fires of the future; to preserve
to that end the memory of the deeds of those whose lives have set them
apart in the history of our country.


In the summer of 1888 yellow fever appeared in Florida and raged with
peculiar violence in Jacksonville. Early in September I received a
letter inviting me to meet a number of ladies at rooms on Broadway
to organize a committee for the relief of the Jacksonville sufferers.
Mrs. Stedman (wife of the poet) was with me at the time I received the
letter, and she agreed with me that it would be a most beautiful thing
for the New York women to send substantial relief to their stricken
sisters in Florida. So, on the day and hour appointed, Mrs. Stedman
accompanied me to the place designated. We found ourselves in the
presence of a large roomful of ladies neither of us had ever before
seen. I was made chairman by acclamation, and a Mrs. Manton secretary.

I had never presided at a meeting, but I did my best. I invited an
expression of the views of those before me as to the wisest schemes for
the benevolent work. A great many suggestions were offered of a totally
unpractical nature, and I finally asked for an adjournment, to meet
two days from the present, and requested my "committee" to consider the
matter, confer with their friends, and give me the opportunity to seek
advice from mine. Mrs. Stedman seemed much discouraged, as we walked
home together. She felt sure nothing would result from this experiment;
and besides, as Mayor Hewitt was engaged in collecting funds for the
relief of Jacksonville, perhaps all good citizens should send their
offerings to him. I intended at the next meeting to follow up her
suggestions, but only half a dozen ladies appeared. I represented to
them that we must have money at once to pay for our service in future
and a small debt already incurred, and we then again adjourned. In the
vestibule an army of eager newspaper reporters awaited us, in whose
hands I left my friends, having nothing myself to communicate. Next
morning every paper in New York announced the interesting fact that
Mrs. Roger A. Pryor was president of "The Ladies' Jacksonville Relief
Society," that names well known in social and literary circles were
associated with hers, and donations of clothing, food, and money were
solicited! Of course the press sent me many reporters, and I found
myself suddenly invested with importance and armed with authority. I
went joyfully to meet my appointment for another meeting, and found
a room, full indeed—but of empty chairs! Not a soul came! I waited
throughout the hour alone. At the end of it a message was sent in to
me from the reporters without. What had we done? What should they say
in the next morning's issue of the _Herald_, the _World_, the _Sun_,
the _Tribune_? Sorely perplexed, I answered: "Tell the gentlemen we are
sitting with closed doors. I shall have nothing to report for several

I suppose no woman in all New York was ever in a more embarrassing
situation. Here was I advertised as president of a society engaged in
a great benevolent enterprise, and the society had simply melted away,
disappeared, left no trace, not even a name and address! What would
New York think of me? I keenly felt the absurdity of my position, but
superior to every personal annoyance was my own disappointment. An
opportunity to work effectively for the stricken people of Florida had
been suddenly snatched from me. A friend in Jacksonville, having heard
of the movement, had written:—

     "I have been prostrated by yellow fever, and am unable to
     carry out the plans I had made with Bishop Weed for aid for
     the sick and friendless children here, and the bishop's days
     are filled with the most pressing duties. Along this pathway
     through the valley of the shadow of death there are many
     little children whose pathetic condition touches the chords
     of our tenderest sympathies. But our hands hang limp and
     helpless, and so we hold them out to you."

I found myself consumed with longing to help them. I felt then—as I felt
afterward for the orphans of Galveston—that I could almost consent to
give my own life if I could but save theirs.

These were the dreams of the night, and with the dawn I had resolved
to be "obedient to the heavenly vision." Before ten o'clock I sent
telegrams to Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, Mrs. Wm. C. Whitney, Miss Rose
Elizabeth Cleveland, Mrs. Frederic Coudert, Mrs. Judge Brady, Mrs.
Whitelaw Reid, Mrs. Levi P. Morton, Mrs. Don Dickinson, Mrs. William C.
Rives, Mrs. William Astor, and Mrs. Martha Lamb. Would they join me in
a gift from New York women to Jacksonville?

Every one responded, "Yes, gladly, if you will manage it." Mrs. Astor,
Mrs. Reid, and Mrs. Coudert sent money—a goodly sum—to start my work.

Here I was, then, with a splendid following—_le premier pas_? Where
could I commence? Surely not by begging money—that I would never do.
By some means we must earn it. Just then I saw that Mr. Frohman had
offered a matinée for the Mayor's Relief Fund. I communicated with Mr.
Frohman, asking him to beg the mayor to let my fine committee have this
matinée with which to inaugurate our work. His Honor evidently regarded
the proposition as indicative of nerve, needing repression. Mr. Frohman
quoted him as surprised, and quite decided: "Mr. Hewitt says he thought
everybody knew he needed all the money he could get."

He had only that one matinée. Before night I had telegraphed every
reputable theatre and concert-hall in the city, and secured _nine_!
Thoroughly upon my mettle, I went to work. My support was all out of
town except Mrs. Botta and Mrs. Fanny Barrow. We were a committee of
three for several weeks, but we diligently increased our strength by
letters and telegrams. Mr. Aronson, of the Casino, fixed upon September
27 for his votive matinée, and Mr. John McCaull, who had Wallack's
Theatre, selected the same day. "Never mind, madam," said Mr. Aronson;
"I'll turn away enough people from my doors to fill Wallack's." "Rest
assured, madam," said Mr. McCaull, "I'll turn away enough people
from Wallack's to fill the Casino." So I had two great matinées on my
hands—fixed for the same day, the same hour.

I knew it would be vital to my interests to have these initial
entertainments successful. I busied my brain with schemes which I
cunningly revealed to my friends among the merchants. I wanted satin
banners painted with palms and orange-blossoms for Mr. Aronson and Mr.
McCaull. I wanted beautiful satin programmes for every man, woman,
and child who played for me, and for all my patronesses. I craved
flowers galore. I longed for fine stationery, white wax, and a seal. I
obtained all these things. So many flowers were sent that baskets and
bouquets were presented to everybody on the stage. The actors caught
the enthusiasm. Mr. Solomon, who sang the topical song at the Casino,
introduced happy, appropriate lines. "Aunt Louisa Eldridge" opened a
flower sale in the foyer, and made a large sum for the charity. Satin
souvenirs were given to everybody with the "Compliments of the Ladies'
Jacksonville Relief Society." Every note (a personal one written to
each performer) was sealed with white wax and a seal made expressly for
me. Little Fanny Rice was bewitching in Nadjy—singing the pretty Mignon
song which is borrowed in the play. At Wallack's there was a splendid
programme, in which many stars participated—Kyrle Bellew, and others,
and a wonderfully funny balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet"—De Wolf
Hopper the Juliet, Jefferson De Angelis the nurse, and Marshall Wilder,

When it was all over, there was one very tired woman on 33d Street. But
next day the papers announced "brilliant audience, beautiful mounting,
grand success." Everybody was thanked, by name, through the papers.
Mr. Aronson sent me $904.50. Early next morning I was summoned to my
parlor, and before reaching it, I heard a masculine voice: "Don't be
afraid—speak up now!" Entering, I was confronted by a wee, winsome
lassie with long curls, great eyes, a lovely little face from which a
big hat was pushed, while a chubby hand was thrust into mine and a sweet
little voice said, "I'se dot sumsin for you!"

It was the baby girl of Mr. Stevens, the manager of Wallack's, and the
"sumsin" was a big roll of bank-notes—$1620—while an honest little hand
presented the silver fraction, 85 cents.

This money, $2525, was immediately forwarded to Governor Perry, who
sent it where it was sorely needed,—to the little town of Fernandina
and other small towns in Florida afflicted by the scourge,—Gainsville,
Manatee, McClenny, Crawfordsville, and Enterprise. From all these towns,
as well as from Governor Perry, I received (fumigated) letters of thanks
and assurance that every dollar was used to relieve distress!

From that time onward I thought of nothing, worked for nothing—except
the relief of Jacksonville. I was nothing but a theatrical manager.
It was the custom of the theatres to present me with the building and
play—also with a plan of the house and all the tickets. I had to sell
the seats and boxes, do all the advertising, and meet sundry outside
expenses—ushers, orchestra, etc. I did all this with little help until
my friends returned to town, and then Mrs. Egbert Guernsey, Mrs. Barrow,
Mrs. Stedman, and Mrs. Botta became my pillars of strength. Each matinée
was honored as were the first two, with satin programmes, banners, and
flowers, personal notes sealed with white wax, etc. I sat from morning
until night at my desk, and my diary, kept at the time, records two
thousand letters written by my own hand. Every theatre gave us a play,
and the Eden Musée a varied entertainment, and Mrs. Sherwood came from
Rome to give us two readings.

When Mr. Daly's turn came, I had some difficulty in selling seats. The
public had endured a good deal of Jacksonville, and began to say, "The
Relief Society is still with us," or, "The Jacksonville Relief Society,
like Banquo's ghost, 'will not down.'"

My dear friend, Mr. Cyrus Field, found me in some anxiety, and sent me
his clerk every morning to ask how I was "getting along," taking entire
blocks of seats and filling them with his friends.

Mrs. Jeanette Thurber also came in (when I was flagging) with her large
heart and full hands; so our old friends—Mrs. Gilbert, James Lewis, John
Drew, George Clark, Kitty Cheatham, and Ada Rehan—played, as the Jenkins
of the day announced, "to a large, brilliant, and fashionable house."
I added to each of my satin souvenirs for "the cast" a quotation from
Shakespeare. Ada Rehan played "The Wife of Socrates" as an afterpiece.
On her souvenir was printed in gold:—

     "Be she as shrewd
     ... As Socrates' Xantippe,"

     "She hath a tear for Pity, and a hand
     Open as day for melting charity."

When the time arrived for Mr. Chickering to give me his hall for a
concert, I was beginning to feel a little weary, and was glad to enlist
the interest of Professor Ogden Doremus, formerly president of the
Philharmonic Society. I wrote letters which brought many offers. "How
many?" asked Dr. Doremus. "A hatful," I answered. We poured them out on
a table and made a selection. "These," said the doctor, "are fine, fine!
But we must have a star! I'll go out to-morrow and sweep the skies for
comets. The great planets will not work for nothing."

At night he wrote me: "No hope for a star! Everybody wants money! We
must manage with our amateurs."

The next day I drove up boldly to the Metropolitan Opera House and asked
for Mr. Stanton. I told him my story, and begged him to "help _me_, to
help my poor countrymen."

"I'll give you Alvary!" he exclaimed. "Nothing is too good for your
cause!" "Oh," I faltered,—for I was astounded,—"I'm sure Alvary will not
condescend to sing with a company of amateurs, to the accompaniment of
one piano." "Will not?" said Mr. Stanton; "it is my impression Alvary
will do what I order him to do." He continued, however, as Colonel
Mapleson had done with Patti, to say that, although this was all
true, it would be wise for me to _request_ Alvary to sing. This I did,
receiving a gracious, acquiescent reply.

Mrs. Shaw, the famous _siffleuse_, had just returned from England,
where she had whistled for the Prince of Wales, and I was delighted at
her offer to contribute to the concert. The programme was arranged, Mr.
Chickering notified, and twelve hundred tickets sent me to be sold. We
set the stage magnificently, borrowing rugs, choice furniture, pictures,
hangings. We furnished a greenroom with refreshments, cigars, and
flowers,—and a remoter private room for the great tenor,—had the banners
extraordinarily handsome, and advertised our programme for Friday night,
October 12.

Early Monday morning I received the following note:—

     "Herr Max Alvary supposed when he consented to sing for Madame
     Pryor that she would arrange a programme in accordance with
     his social and artistic position.

     "Madame Pryor has not done this. Herr Alvary will not sing
     for Madame Pryor."

Before I recovered my senses after reading this astounding missive, I
received the following:—

     "Madam; When Mrs. Shaw consented to whistle for you, she
     forgot she was under contract with Mr. Pond. She cannot appear
     on any occasion outside Mr. Pond's series of entertainments."

Light broke upon my clouded vision. _This_—the _siffleuse_, was the
offending one! I wrote at once to Herr Alvary that the number to which
he had objected was withdrawn. I told the telegraph messenger to wait
for an answer. He returned after an absence of several hours, and
reported: "I asked the gentleman for an answer, and he slammed the door
in my face. Then I waited outside till dinner-time!"

Tuesday, Wednesday, passed. I forbore to annoy Mr. Stanton. It was not
my will to accept anything against another's will. Herr Alvary might
go to—France for me! I should certainly not humble myself to him. In
the meantime, Dr. Doremus tried again and again in vain. Thursday! No
Alvary, no whistler! A pretty way indeed to treat a confiding public
buying tickets to hear both of them!

Finally I broke down. I wrote to the naughty boy, and wrote to _his
heart_. I said in conclusion, "While you hesitate, my countrymen are
dying." He had a heart and I found it. I received a prompt answer:—


     "I will sing for you Friday, and I will sing as often as
     the audience wishes. I am sorry for the sorrow I gave you,
     but—Madame Pryor, _you_ know the human voice was never meant
     for whistling!

                                                   "Your humble,
                                                       "MAX ALVARY."

The concert was fine. He sang as never before, returning again and
again in response to the enthusiastic recalls of the large audience.
Mrs. Sylvanus Reed, who was one of my patronesses on all my programmes,
brought with her twenty or more of the young ladies of her school. I had
not required evening dress, but from my lofty seat in the sky gallery I
looked down upon hundreds of the flower-decked heads of my dear American

After Alvary's last number, he appeared in a side aisle, sweeping the
galleries with his opera-glass. "Mamma," said my daughter Fanny, "that
man is looking for you!" "He'll not find me," I assured her; "he never
saw me." "But a man who has seen you is with him and is helping him!"
Sure enough, the double barrels were soon focussed upon me in my eyrie,
and Alvary, in an impressive manner, waved his hand, laid it upon his
heart, and thrice bowed low.

But this was not the last time I saw my naughty, bonny boy Alvary. I was
bidden once to spend my day as pleased me best, as it was my birthday,
and I elected to see "Siegfried." I tied my card to some violets and
threw them at the feet of the then greatest tenor in the world, and he
recognized the tribute. Many were the lovely letters I received after
this delightful concert, one most charming from my dear old friend,
William C. Rives.

But the blessed frost soon came to do more for the stricken city than
I could do. I reopened, cleansed, and refurnished St. Luke's Hospital,
sent nearly a thousand dollars to Sister Mary Ann to rehabilitate the
Catholic Hospital, and a similar sum to the Jacksonville Orphanage.
Governor Perry sent a committee all the way from Florida to thank me,
letters poured in from distant friends, the papers said lovely things
about my effort. "Who is the best theatrical manager in New York?" was
asked of A. M. Palmer. "Well," he replied, "if you wish a true answer,
I should say Mrs. Pryor!"

In a time of national disaster no other city in the world responds
as does New York. Witness the Galveston flood, when one bazaar I had
the pleasure of managing yielded $51,000—witness the San Francisco
earthquake! Every heart is warmed with sympathy—every hand open, when
real trouble, real disaster, overtakes any part of our country. And
nowhere do we find a quicker response than among actors, who are rarely,
if ever, rich, and never lead, as others do, a life of ease.

The letters I received from the New York women who had so nobly stood
by me and helped me were, for a long time, delightful reading. They
are still cherished as a reward second only to the crowning reward—the
relief of suffering—which has comforted me all along the subsequent
years of my life. They are noble, generous letters, and I wish I could
give them here, every one, as models of beautiful letters as well. One,
from the gifted Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, is an example of the rest:—

                                  "25 EAST 37TH STREET, December 13.


     I congratulate you most warmly on the success of your movement
     in the relief of our Jacksonville citizens, for it is you
     alone who have been the moving and animating force of it
     all. It will be a pleasant thing for you to remember always,
     and for us, too, who have followed your lead, though so far
     behind. It will not be possible for me to take the place on
     the committee to which you appoint me. Do take it yourself,
     dear Mrs. Pryor! You _ought_ to do so. Now the burden of this
     work is over, you should not give it into other hands. So I
     beg you earnestly to take my place.

                                            "Ever cordially yours,
                                                "ANNIE C. L. BOTTA."

It had been suggested that the committee which had exhibited so much
ability should not disband, but remain as a permanent organization for
the relief of sudden national disaster. I had wished to see Mrs. Botta
at the head of this committee.

We finally, to our regret ever since, elected to disband. When I
rendered my report and bade my dear co-workers adieu, I told them
some pleasant truths. Every banner and every blossom had been given
us. The American District Telegraph Company had made no charge for
service—messengers sent me daily to await orders.

The press had been very generous to us. For advertising our
entertainments, all charges were remitted by the _Tribune_, _Herald_,
_Sun_, and other papers. The editors of sixteen New York papers gave
us unstinted praise and encouragement. If they perceived cause for
criticism, they withheld it. They helped us in every way, and rejoiced
our hearts by the sweet reward of approbation. They said that we were
"a band of self-denying and gifted women, who add another to the roll
of gracious achievements which do honor to piety and womanhood."

We could not follow our work in the little towns of Florida, by the cot
of the poor negro or the home of the widow and orphan and destitute. It
should be enough for us to know that through us some cooling influence
reached their fevered brows, that suitable food and clothing was found
for them, that their hearts were cheered in a dark hour by perceiving
that they were not forgotten or friendless. We were told that our
alms for the orphans were in response to the dying prayers of mothers
(a little band of New York children elected to become the guardian
angels of one of these hapless orphans), and we learned that our gift
to the Catholic sisters was larger than any they received from any
other source. We were assured that comfort was restored, pure conduits
for water constructed, and good food and clothing provided for the
Protestant orphans. We reopened the hospital, needed more than ever in
Jacksonville, and about to be closed for want of money. All this was
much reward, and we could add to it our own grateful consciousness of
having done a noble and worthy deed.

I shall ever feel the deepest gratitude for my support in this charity;
for the gift of beloved and honored names,—names never withheld from a
noble cause,—for generous forbearance towards myself, and for many words
of approbation and encouragement. My heart is full of gratitude, and
full also of all "good wishes, praise, and prayers" for the noble band
of players who made the great work possible.

"The little band" of children who elected to become the guardians of one
orphan was the Morning-side Club, their president a very lovely little
girl—Renée Coudert.


In the autumn of 1900 a strange disaster befell the beautiful city of
Galveston. A mighty wave lifted its crest far out at sea and marched
straight on until it engulfed the city. It all happened suddenly,
in a night. Thousands of men, women, and children perished. Hundreds
of babies were born that night, and picked up alive, floating on the
little mattresses to which drowning mothers had consigned them. The
Catholic sisters and their orphan charges all perished. The Protestant
Orphan Asylum, on higher ground, had been built around its first room,
and in this central chamber the children were gathered, and spent
the night in singing their little hymns. The outer rooms received the
shock of the waves, but this small sanctuary remained intact. For many
days after the waters subsided, children were found wandering in the
streets—some did not know their own names, others anxiously questioned
the passer-by—"Where is my mother? Have you found my papa yet?"

The country rushed to the rescue, not to save—it was too late—but to
succor the homeless, relieve the destitute.

I was summoned one morning to my reception-room, where I found a
committee awaiting me from one of the large newspapers in New York.
They bore a message from the proprietor and editor to the effect that he
wished to open a great bazaar for the relief of Galveston, and begged I
would consent to manage it. My success for Jacksonville had brought me
this honor.

I saw at once that I had an opportunity to accomplish great good. I also
realized the difficulties I should have to encounter. The bazaar was to
be worked up from the beginning, and three weeks were allowed me for the
task. My personal influence in gaining patronage and material could not
be great—and newspaper influence was an unknown quantity to me. However,
"nothing venture nothing have." The very fact of difficulty stimulated
me, and I consented.

Accordingly, next day I repaired to my "place of business," a room
in the Waldorf Astoria, and found myself equipped with stenographers,
typewriters and type-writing machines, a desk for myself, a desk for
my assisting manager, and plenty of pens, ink, and paper. After a rapid
consultation, a plan of procedure was adopted: we must have influential
patronesses, we must have competent managers for fifteen booths, and
enlist in our service willing hearts and hands to solicit contributions
of material. This was a great work, but we set about it with energy.
Our troubles soon arose from the number of offers of assistance which
poured in upon us, and the difficulty of selection. Committees were
out of the question. There was no time for any such machinery. To avoid
delay and complications, I was appointed a committee of one; a die of my
signature was cut, and everything relative to the booths passed under my
own supervision—every paper was signed with my name, every appointment
made by me. Our one-room office was soon too small, and three more rooms
added to it, one for Mrs. Vivian's exclusive use, that she might try
the voices of the singers who offered their services and decide upon the
respective merits of the numbers of musicians who generously proffered

I wish I could tell of the splendid work my assistants accomplished—Mrs.
Donald McLean, Mrs. John G. Carlisle, good "Aunt Louisa Eldridge," the
actress, Mrs. Timothy Woodruff, Mrs. Gielow, Mrs. Marie Cross Newhaus,
Mrs. Wadsworth Vivian, Helen Gardiner, the authoress, Mrs. John Wyeth,
Miss Florence Guernsey—and many others. With such a staff success was

But I knew well this city of New York. I must have prestige. I must have
"stars," and bright ones, on my list of patronesses. To secure them,
at a season when many people of social prominence were in Europe, or
at country places, required numbers of letters and much time. Finally
I made a bold dash for distinction. I remembered that John Van Buren,
when asked how he could dare propose marriage to Queen Victoria,
replied, "I supposed she would say 'no'—but then she might say 'yes.'"
I telegraphed her Majesty, laid the cause of the Galveston orphans at
her feet, and craved a word of sympathy in the effort I was making for
their relief. Fate was kinder to me than to Mr. Van Buren. She said
"yes." She _did_ sympathize, and "commanded," from Balmoral, that I be
so informed. I then telegraphed the Princess Alexandra, and she answered
most graciously from Fredensborg. I then secured as patronesses for the
bazaar the Duchess of Marlborough, the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough,
Mrs. Cornwallis West, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Lady Somerset, Lady
Aberdeen, Madame Loubet, Madame Diaz, wife of the Mexican President,
Madame Aspiroz, wife of the Mexican Ambassador. All of these noble
ladies sent personal answers, and many of them sums of money. Sir Thomas
Lipton heard of the bazaar and sent from England, unsolicited, $500.

To this foreign list I was able to add a large number of the New York
names best known and most highly esteemed with us. With such guarantee
for the "tone" of the bazaar, I was assured of patronage.

When the opening night arrived, however, I was possessed with a
sickening fear lest there should be no audience. A fairy village of
booths filled the great ball-room at the Waldorf Astoria, and the
generous merchants of New York had enriched them with rare and beautiful
things. Mr. Edward Moran gave one of his famous marines. President Diaz
sent a bronze group from the Paris Exposition, representing a reaper
with his sickle—his two daughters binding his sheaves. Mr. Stanley
McCormick purchased this for the office in Chicago of the McCormick
reaper. Rich furs, tiger rugs, opera-cloaks, ladies' hats, silverware,
watches, jewels, bicycles, a grand piano, and an automobile were
included in our collection. I had written General Miles requesting him
to open the bazaar, and he had come from Washington with Mrs. Miles.
When I arrived on the opening night I was conducted to the small
ball-room, where I found ten or more major-generals in full uniform,
Governor Sayre from Texas, Mr. Aspiroz, the Mexican Ambassador, who had
come from Washington to bring us the present from President and Mrs.
Diaz, and ladies of their company. On General Miles's arm, attended by
these distinguished men and their wives, we proceeded through crowds
of spectators to the lower ball-room. When I entered, I found three
thousand people already assembled! The head of the armies of the
United States received a magnificent welcome. From Mrs. Astor's box
he made the opening address, followed by a most touching narrative
from Governor Sayre. My dear Mrs. Carlisle appeared in the box with a
lovely wreath of laurel for General Miles. But I cannot describe the
scene. Nothing like this bazaar has ever been seen in New York. There
have been others—but without the _cachet_ of military rank at home and
royalty abroad. Telegrams from Mrs. McKinley; letter and a splendid
silver present from Admiral and Mrs. Dewey; letter and present of rare
embroidery from _petite_ Madame Wu of the Chinese Embassy; letter and
present of a silver flask from Madame Dreyfus,—these and many similar
incidents cheered us in the hour of our triumph—an hour, too, of great
bodily weariness.

We rang down our curtain with _éclat_—our own Mark Twain just off his
home-coming steamship responding at once to my letter of invitation, and
making a happy speech. From my seat in the low box I looked down upon
the faces of my sons Roger and Willy, who seemed in anxious conference
on some subject. They gave me an encouraging nod. I found they knew,
as I did not, that a committee was coming along the gallery to give me
flowers, pin an emblem on my bosom, say dear things about my work. They
were anxious lest their tired mother should prove unequal to the short
speech of thanks demanded of her.

We sent $51,000 to Galveston! I was permitted to select a special object
for this large sum. I suggested the building of an orphan asylum in
which should be gathered all homeless orphan children, irrespective of
creed or country.

Within a year the asylum was erected, furnished, and the hapless
children gathered under its shelter. The mover in this grand charity
said he could never have accomplished it without me—I could have done
nothing without him! He had his friends. He also had his enemies, who
rated his charity as an "advertisement." Of all this I know nothing;
but I do know that this Orphan Asylum in Galveston was a grand and noble
work; and my old and valued friend, Mrs. Phœbe Hearst, has reason to be
grateful that it was given to her son to build it. "What can we do for
you?" was asked of me by one of the managers at its opening. "Nothing,"
I answered; "the work is its own reward. But in the daily prayers of
your orphan children, let them ask God's blessing upon all those who
helped to give this home to His homeless children."

God, I humbly trust, did so bless them all—the eighty-year-old woman
on the Pacific slope who sent a kerchief of her own making; the noble
ladies across the Atlantic who promptly gave their honored names and
their money; the little boy whose curly head I could see, moving among
the crowd soliciting pennies for the orphans; the good woman whose head
had grown gray beneath the crown of England.

But especially I wish, I pray, all blessings for the band of dear women
who, coming often in rain and storm, worked with me from morning until
night to help build a shelter for Galveston's homeless orphans.

  [Illustration: JUDGE ROGER A. PRYOR IN 1900.]


The years which had brought me such interesting work were full years
also to my dear general. In June, 1888, he delivered an address to the
graduating class at the Albany Law School—an address so inspiring, so
highly commended at the time, that it should not be lost. He had been
all his life intimately acquainted with the great legal lights abroad.
They had given him his first aspirations, and been his inspired teachers
ever after. And yet he could truthfully tell the American student:—

"Nor need we travel abroad for examples and illustrations of forensic
oratory in its highest perfection; for in the sublime passion of
Patrick Henry, in the gorgeous vehemence of Choate, in the brilliant and
abounding fancy of Prentiss, and in the majestic simplicity of Webster,
we find at home every beauty and every power of eloquence displayed
with an effect not inferior to the achievements of the mighty masters
of antiquity."

Diligently as he studied his profession, he found time for lighter, but
not perhaps really more congenial, occupations. From time to time he
addressed college societies on literary themes. He wrote for the _North
American Review_, the _Forum_, and the "Encyclopædia Britannica." Like
his public addresses, his writing was said to display ripe scholarship
and a clear, polished style. The highest note was never too high for

He would have had to be "made all over again," had he felt no interest
in politics. He was born, as he often declared, "a Presbyterian and a
Democrat," and he never faltered in allegiance to either. "Oh, God guide
us aright," prayed a member of the body that framed the Westminster
Catechism, "_for thou knowest we are very determined_." Having set out
in one direction, the worthy brother doubted the power of the Almighty
himself to alter his course!

Although my Husband refrained from political talk or discussion, he
was glad to be sent to the convention that nominated Mr. Tilden. But
probably his first conspicuous appearance on the political theatre was
the Gubernatorial Convention at Syracuse, of which he drew the platform,
and which resulted in the candidacy of Mr. Cleveland. That platform was
acknowledged to have aided materially in the election of Mr. Cleveland.
Its author's address in presenting it was much applauded.

Just as I closed my Jacksonville work, my general argued and won his
great Sugar Trust case. "Had he done nothing else," said one whose word
means much, "he could point to this case as an enduring monument." His
rapid rise to fame at the bar is well known. "His legal victories would
make a long list," says a contemporary writer, "but he never shrank
from a suit because it was unpopular or because the legal odds were
many against its success, however just it might be. His deep knowledge
of law, his readiness of resource, his care in preparing his case, his
unfailing good humor, his pluck, ardor, and clearness in pleading,
have made him influential and successful in the courts." Beginning
with the Tilton-Beecher suit, he was counsel in the Morey Letter case
and the Holland murder trial. He was also engaged in the suits against
Governor Sprague in Rhode Island, and the Ames impeachment proceedings
in Mississippi. He was the first to win a suit against the Elevated
Railroad Company for damages to adjoining property. He was also counsel
in the Hoyt will case, the Chicago anarchist trials, and now in the
Sugar Trust suit, in which he was successful in the New York City courts
as well as in the Court of Appeals. At the time of his direst distress
he _refused_ a suit against the good Peter Cooper.

It was in 1889 that my husband suggested and conducted the suit against
the Sugar Trust, the first litigation in any court or any state against
combinations in restraint of trade; and as he was successful against
powerful opposition, he acquired a prestige which was the immediate
occasion of his appointment to the bench.

On October 9, 1890, Mr. John Russell Young gave a dinner in his honor
at the Astor House—a dinner notable for the number of distinguished
guests. Among them, Hon. Grover Cleveland, General Sherman, General
Sickles, Henry George, Daniel Dougherty, Daniel Lamont, W. J. Florence,
Mark Twain, John B. Haskin, Joseph Jefferson, Thomas Nast, Judge Brady,
Judge Joseph F. Daly, Murat Halsted, Senator Hearst,—was ever such a
company? Laying his hand on my husband's shoulder, General Sherman said:
"We would have done all this for him long ago, but he had to be such a

He had been appointed to fill the unexpired term of a retiring judge.
The next year he came before the people for election, and was chosen
by a great majority of many thousand votes to be judge of the Court
of Pleas, and soon afterwards became judge of the Supreme Court of New

He was welcomed to the bench by every possible expression of cordial
good-will, confidence, admiration. Again there was no dissenting voice.
At a celebration, not long after, of Grant's birthday, he was one
of those invited to speak, and was thus introduced by General Horace
Porter: "Gentlemen, we have a distinguished general here to-night who
fought with us in the war—but not on the same side. It has been said
that it is astounding how you like a man after you fight him! That is
the reason we have him here to-night to give him a warm reception. He
always gave us a warm reception. He used to take us, and provide for
us, and was willing to keep us out of harm's way while hostilities
lasted—unless sooner exchanged. He was always in the front, and his
further appearance in the front to-night is a reflection upon the
accuracy of our marksmanship. Not knowing how to punish him there, we
brought him up to New York, and sentenced him to fourteen years' hard
labor on the bench."

He brought to the bench the habits of self-denial and unremitting study
he had practised for twenty years. During all that time, and after,
nobody ever saw him at a place of amusement, theatre, ball, or opera,
and very rarely at a dinner-party. He knew no part of New York except
the streets he traversed to and from his office or court room. His brief
summer holidays were spent at the White Sulphur Springs in Virginia,
where his studies continued. In 1895 he there addressed the Virginia
Bar Association on the influence of Virginia in the formation of the
Federal Constitution, and I venture to say that whoever reads it in its
printed form will find interesting historical facts not generally known.
In accordance with my plan to permit his contemporaries to tell the
story of his public life, I copy one testimonial from a Richmond paper:
"Judge Pryor made a splendid address. It was an ornate, learned, and
eminently instructive production, and attested the jealous devotion of a
distinguished son of Virginia for the old commonwealth, and his careful
study of her political history. It did honor to the gentleman who made
the address and to the profession of which he is a shining light."

Whatever he wrote was always read aloud and copied at home, until my
daughter Gordon left us, even the legal arguments so dimly understood
by her. Apart from the technical difficulties, she could always
receive some impression from his argument, and the impression upon her
singularly clear, unprejudiced mind was what he wished to know. Our own
turn in reading aloud gave him a delicious opportunity to correct our
pronunciation. His patience could never brook a mispronounced word—and
alas, after Gordon married I found myself too old that I might learn.
However, he patiently continues to struggle with me.

Once, at the White Sulphur Springs, a beautiful Virginia girl was
under my care. My general was absorbed,—it was the summer he made his
speech,—and did not render the homage to which the pair of blue eyes
was accustomed. "I don't think the judge likes me," she complained; "he
never has a word to say to me. He looks as if he's always thinking about
something else."

"Lizzie," I suggested, "you must mispronounce a word or two, and we'll
see what effect that will have." We put our heads together and made
out a list for her to commit to memory. At dinner she fastened her
eye upon our victim, and commenced,—offering a flower,—" It's not very
pretty, but the perfume´,—" "I beg your pardon, Miss—, per´fume, accent
on first syllable!" he exclaimed. "Oh, you're _so_ kind, Judge! This
just il´lustrates—" "Illus´trate, my dear young lady!—accent on second
syllable, but pray go on." "I've never had anybody to tell me any of
these things," she moaned. "If _you_ only would—" "With pleasure! A
beautiful young lady should be perfect in speech, as in all things." The
little minx played her part to perfection. Presently, overcome with the
ludicrous situation, she excused herself, and my dear innocent remarked,
as his admiring eyes followed her, "An uncommonly sensible girl that!"

I enjoyed a bit of newspaper gossip about this peculiarity of my dear
general. A physician was testifying before him in a malpractice case,
and repeatedly used the word "pare´sis," accenting the second syllable.
The judge exhibited extreme restlessness, and finally ventured, "Excuse
me—the word you mean is possibly par´esis?" As the witness proceeded,
the offence was repeated and again corrected. "Now, your Honor," said
the offender, "I concede all wisdom to the bench in legal matters, but
I am a physician, and in the profession the word is pare´sis." "It is
par´esis in my court," was the decision promptly handed down, with an
emphasis that forbade appeal.

I am sorry I cannot record his services to his country and his
profession during the seven years before he was overtaken by the
age-limit prescribed by New York law—his championship of maligned women,
his decision that divorce cases should not be tried secretly but must
be held in open court—now become a law—his restriction of the right of
naturalization to at least knowledge of the English language. I cannot
go into these learned subjects as I trust some one of the profession
will do some day. I only record that my dear general, as was conceded
by every one, fulfilled the sacred trust—"he was a father to the poor,
and the cause that he knew not he searched out."

This public recognition of his ability and worth, with its opportunity
for larger usefulness, came at last as the crown of his long and heroic
struggle. The war had left him with nothing but a ragged uniform, his
sword, a wife, and seven children,—his health, his occupation, his
place in the world, gone; his friends and comrades slain in battle;
his Southern home impoverished and desolate. He had no profession, no
rights as a citizen, no ability to hold office. That he conquered the
fate which threatened to destroy him,—and conquered it through the
appreciation awarded by his sometime enemies,—is a striking illustration
of the possibilities afforded by our country; where not only can the
impoverished refugee from other lands find fortune and happiness, but
where her own sons, prostrate and ruined after a dreadful fratricidal
strife, can bind their wounds, take up their lives again, and finally
win reward for their labors.


Reminiscences of Peace and War

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"Few persons now living had a better opportunity to be in, and a part
of, the life of the national capital and mingle with its social and
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Peace and War.'"—_Philadelphia Public Ledger._

The Birth of the Nation: Jamestown, 1607

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     [1] Rhodes's "History of the United States," Vol. I., pp. 231
         _et seq._

     [2] History of James Ford Rhodes, _passim_.

     [3] Claiborne's "Seventy Years in Virginia."

     [4] "Reminiscences of Peace and War," _passim_.

     [5] Life of Joseph E. Johnston, by Bradley T. Johnson, p. 21.

     [6] Rhodes's "History of the United States," III, p. 175.

     [7] The _Herald and Empire_, Dayton, Ohio.

     [8] Sherman's "Memoirs," Vol. II, p. 223.

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