diamond-back shells in the window said, "Major, have
you any real live terrapins?"
"Live!" cried The Frenchman. "Only this morning
I open the ice box and they were all dancing
"Major," persisted the friend, "I'll go you a
bottle of Veuve Cliquot, you cannot show me an
actual living terrapin."
"What do you take me for - confidence man?"
The Major retorted. "How you expect an old
sport like me to bet upon a certainty?"
"Never mind your ethics. The wager is drink,
not money. In any event we shall have the wine."
"Oh, well," says The Frenchman, with a shrug
and a droll grimace, "if you insist on paying for a
bottle of wine come with me."
He took a lighted candle, and together they went
back to the ice box. It was literally filled with
diamond backs, and my friend thought he was gone
"Là!" says The Major with triumph, rummaging
among the mass of shells with his cane as he
held the candle aloft.
"But," says my friend, ready to surrender, yet
taking a last chance, "you told me they were
dancing the cancan!"
The Major picked up a terrapin and turned it
over in his hand. Quite numb and frozen, the
animal within made no sign. Then he stirred the
shells about in the box with his cane. Still not a
show of life. Of a sudden he stopped, reflected a
moment, then looked at his watch.
"Ah," he murmured. "I quite forget. The terrapin,
they are asleep. It is ten-thirty, and the terrapin
he regularly go to sleep at ten o'clock by the
watch every night." And without another word he
reached for the Veuve Cliquot!
For all his volubility in matters of romance and
sentiment The Major was exceeding reticent about
his immediate self and his own affairs. His legends
referred to the distant of time and place. A certain
dignity could not be denied him, and, on occasion,
a proper reserve; be rarely mentioned his business
- though he worked like a slave, and could not have
been making much or any profit - so that there rose
the query how he contrived to make both ends meet.
Little by little I came into the knowledge that there
was a money supply from somewhere; finally, it
matters not how, that he had an annuity of forty
thousand francs, paid in quarterly installments of
ten thousand francs each.
Occasionally he mentioned "the Old House," and
in relating the famous Sophonisba, episode late at
night, and only in the very fastnesses of the wine
cellar, as it were, at the most lachrymose passage
he spoke of "l'Oncle Célestin," with the deepest
"Did you ever hear The Frenchman tell that
story about Sophonisba?" Doctor Stoic, whom on
account of his affectation of insensibility we were
wont to call Old Adamant, once asked me. "Well,
sir, the other night he told it to me, and he was
drunk, and he cried, sir; and I was drunk, and I
I had known The Frenchman now ten or a dozen
years. That he came from Marseilles, that he had
served on the Confederate side in the Trans-Mississippi,
that he possessed an annuity, that he
must have been well-born and reared, that he was
simple, yet canny, and in his money dealings
scrupulously honest - was all I could be sure of. What
had he done to be ashamed about or wish to conceal?
In what was he a black sheep, for that he
had been one seemed certain? Had the beautiful
woman, his wife - a tireless church and charity
worker, who lived the life of a recluse and a saint -
had she reclaimed him from his former self? I
knew that she had been the immediate occasion of
his turning over a new leaf. But before her time
what had he been, what had he done?
Late one night, when the rain was falling and the
streets were empty, I entered The Brunswick. It
was empty too. In the farthest corner of the little
dining room The Major, his face buried in his
hands, laid upon the table in front of him, sat
silently weeping. He did not observe my entrance
and I seated myself on the opposite side of the
table. Presently he looked up, and seeing me, without
a word passed me a letter which, all blistered
with tears, had brought him to this distressful state.
It was a formal French burial summons, with its
long list of family names - his among the rest -
the envelope, addressed in a lady's hand - his
sister's, the wife of a nobleman in high military
command - the postmark "Lyon." Uncle Célestin was
Thereafter The Frenchman told me much which
I may not recall and must not repeat; for, included
in that funeral list were some of the best names in
France, Uncle Célestin himself not the least of
At last he died, and as mysteriously as he had
come his body was taken away, nobody knew when,
nobody where, and with it went the beautiful
woman, his wife, of whom from that day to this I
have never heard a word.
CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH
STILL THE GAY CAPITAL OF FRANCE - ITS ENVIRONS
- WALEWSKA AND DE MORNY - THACKERAY IN
PARIS - A "PENSION" ADVENTURE.
EACH of the generations thinks itself
commonplace. Familiarity breeds equally
indifference and contempt. Yet no age of the world
has witnessed so much of the drama of life - of the
romantic and picturesque - as the age we live in.
The years betwixt Agincourt and Waterloo were
not more delightfully tragic than the years between
Serajevo and Senlis.
The gay capital of France remains the center of
the stage and retains the interest of the onlooking
universe. All roads lead to Paris as all roads led to
Rome. In Dickens' day "a tale of two cities" could
only mean London and Paris then, and ever so
unalike. To be brought to date the title would have
now to read "three," or even "four," cities, New
York and Chicago putting in their claims for
I have been not only something of a traveller, but
a diligent student of history and a voracious novel
reader, and, once-in-a-while, I get my history and
my fiction mixed. This has been especially the case
when the hum-drum of the Boulevards has driven
me from the fascinations of the Beau Quartier into
the by-ways of the Marais and the fastnesses of
what was once the Latin Quarter. More than fifty
years of intimacy have enabled me to learn many
things not commonly known, among them that
Paris is the most orderly and moral city in the
world, except when, on rare and brief occasions, it
has been stirred to its depths.
I have crossed the ocean many times - have lived,
not sojourned, on the banks of the Seine, and, as I
shall never see the other side again - do not want to
see it in its time of sorrow and garb of mourning -
I may be forgiven a retrospective pause in this
egotistic chronicle. Or, shall I not say, a word or
two of affectionate retrogression, though perchance
it leads me after the manner of Silas Wegg to drop
into poetry and take a turn with a few ghosts into
certain of their haunts, when you, dear sir, or
madame, or miss, as the case may be, and I were
living that "other life," whereof we remember so
little that we cannot recall who we were, or what
name we went by, howbeit now-and-then we get a
glimpse in dreams, or a "hunch" from the world of
spirits, or spirts-and-water, which makes us fancy
we might have been Julius Cæsar, or Cleopatra -
as maybe we were! - or at least Joan of Arc, or
Let me repeat that upon no spot of earth has the
fable we call existence had so rare a setting and
rung up its curtain upon such a succession of
performances; has so concentrated human attention
upon mundane affairs; has called such a muster roll
of stage favorites; has contributed to romance so
many heroes and heroines, to history so many signal
episodes and personal exploits, to philosophy so
much to kindle the craving for vital knowledge, to
stir sympathy and to awaken reflection.
Greece and Rome seem but myths of an Age of
Fable. They live for us as pictures live, as statues
live. What was it I was saying about statues -
that they all look alike to me? There are too many
of them. They bring the ancients down to us in
marble and bronze, not in flesh and blood. We do
not really laugh with Terence and Horace, nor weep
with Æschylus and Homer. The very nomenclature
has a ticket air like tags on a collection of
curios in an auction room, droning the dull iteration
of a catalogue. There is as little to awaken and
inspire in the system of religion and ethics of the
pagan world they lived in as in the eyes of the stone
effigies that stare blankly upon us in the British
Museum, the Uffizi and the Louvre.
We walk the streets of the Eternal City with
wonderment, not with pity, the human side quite
lost in the archaic. What is Cæsar to us, or we to
Cæsar? Jove's thunder no longer terrifies, and we
look elsewhere than the Medici Venus for the lights
Not so with Paris. There the unbroken line of
five hundred years - semi-modern years, marking a
longer period than we commonly ascribe to Athens
or Rome - beginning with the exit of this our own
world from the dark ages into the partial light of
the middle ages, and continuing thence through the
struggle of man toward achievement - tells us a tale
more consecutive and thrilling, more varied and
instructive, than may be found in all the pages of all
the chroniclers and poets of the civilizations which
vibrated between the Bosphorus and the Tiber, to
yield at last to triumphant Barbarism swooping
down from Tyrol crag and Alpine height, from the
fastnesses of the Rhine and the Rhone, to swallow
luxury and culture. Refinement had done its
perfect work. It had emasculated man and unsexed
woman and brought her to the front as a political
force, even as it is trying to do now.
The Paris of Balzac and Dumas, of De Musset
and Hugo - even of Thackeray - could still be seen
when I first went there. Though our age is as full
of all that makes for the future of poetry and
romance, it does not contemporaneously lend itself
to sentimental abstraction. Yet it is hard to
separate fact and fiction here; to decide between the
true and the false; to pluck from the haze with
which time has enveloped them, and to distinguish
the puppets of actual flesh and blood who lived and
moved and had their being, and the phantoms of
imagination called into life and given each its local
habitation and its name by the poet's pen working
its immemorial spell upon the reader's credulity.
To me D'Artagnan is rather more vital than
Richelieu. Hugo's imps and Balzac's bullies dance
down the stage and shut from the view the tax-collectors
and the court favorites. The mousquetaires
crowd the field marshals off the scene. There is
something real in Quasimodo, in Cæsar de Birotteau,
in Robert Macaire, something mythical in
Mazarin, in the Regent and in Jean Lass. Even
here, in faraway Kentucky, I can shut my eyes and
see the Lady of Dreams as plainly as if she were
coming out of the Bristol or the Ritz to step into
her automobile, while the Grande Mademoiselle is
merely a cloud of clothes and words that for me
mean nothing at all.
I once passed a week, day by day, roaming through
the Musée Carnavalet. Madame de Sévigné had
an apartment and held her salon there for nearly
twenty years. Hard by is the house where the
Marquise de Brinvilliers - a gentle, blue-eyed thing
they tell us - a poor, insane creature she must have
been - disseminated poison and death, and, just
across and beyond the Place des Vosges, the Hotel
de Sens, whither Queen Margot took her doll-rags
and did her spriting after she and Henri Quatre
had agreed no longer to slide down the same cellar
door. There is in the Museum a death-mask, colored
and exceeding life-like, taken the day after
Ravaillac delivered the finishing knife-thrust in the
Rue de Ferronnerie, which represents the Bèarnais
as anything but a tamer of hearts. He was a
fighter, however, from Wayback, and I dare say
Dumas' narrative is quite as authentic as any.
One can scarce wonder that men like Hugo, and
Balzac chose this quarter of the town to live in -
and Rachael, too! - it having given such frequent
shelter to so many of their fantastic creations,
having been the real abode of a train of gallants and
bravos, of saints and harlots from the days of Diane
de Poitiers to the days of Pompadour and du
Barry, and of statesmen and prelates likewise from
Sully to Necker, from Colbert to Turgot.
I speak of the Marais as I might speak of Madison
Square, or Hyde Park - as a well-known local
section - yet how few Americans who have gone to
Paris have ever heard of it. It is in the eastern
division of the town. One finds it a curious circumstance
that so many if not most of the great cities
somehow started with the rising, gradually to
migrate toward the setting sun.
When I first wandered about Paris there was little
west of the Arch of Stars except groves and
meadows. Neuilly and Passy were distant villages.
Auteuil was a safe retreat for lovers and debtors,
with comic opera villas nestled in high-walled
gardens. To Auteuil Armand Duval and his Camille
hied away for their short-lived idyl. In those days
there was a lovely lane called Marguerite Gautier,
with a dovecote pointed out as the very "rustic
dwelling" so pathetically sung in Verdi's tuneful
score and tenderly described in the original Dumas
text. The Boulevard Montmorenci long ago
plowed the shrines of romance out of the knowledge
of the living, and a part of the Longchamps racecourse
occupies the spot whither impecunious poets
and adventure-seeking wives repaired to escape the
insistence of cruel bailiffs and the spies of suspicious
and monotonous husbands.
Tempus fugit! I used to read Thackeray's Paris
Sketches with a kind of awe. The Thirties and the
Forties, reincarnated and inspired by his glowing
spirit, seemed clad in translucent garments, like the
figures in the Nibelungenlied, weird, remote, glorified.
I once lived in the street "for which no rhyme
our language yields," next door to a pastry shop
that claimed to have furnished the mise en scène
for the "Ballad of Bouillabaisse," and I often
followed the trail of Louis Dominic Cartouche "down
that lonely and crooked byway that, setting forth
from a palace yard, led finally to the rear gate of
a den of thieves." Ah, well-a-day! I have known
my Paris now twice as long as Thackeray knew his
Paris, and my Paris has been as interesting as his
Paris, for it includes the Empire, the Siege and the
I knew and sat for months at table with Comtesse
Walewska, widow of the bastard son of Napoleon
Bonaparte. The Duke de Morny was rather a person
in his way and Gambetta was no slouch, as
Titmarsh would himself agree. I knew them both.
The Mexican scheme, which was going to make
every Frenchman rich, was even more picturesque
and tragical than the Mississippi bubble. There
were lively times round about the last of the Sixties
and the early Seventies. The Terror lasted longer,
but it was not much more lurid than the Commune;
the Hotel de Ville and the Tuileries in flames, the
column gone from the Place Vendôme, when I got
there just after the siege. The regions of the
beautiful Opera House and of the venerable Notre
Dame they told me had been but yesterday running
streams of blood. At the corner of the Rue
de la Paix and the Rue Daunou (they called it
then the Rue St. Augustine) thirty men, women,
and boys were one forenoon stood against the wall
and shot, volley upon volley, to death. In the
Sacristy of the Cathedral over against the Morgue
and the Hotel Dieu, they exhibit the gore-stained
vestments of three archbishops of Paris murdered
within as many decades.
Thackeray came to Paris when a very young
man. He was for painting pictures, not for writing
books, and he retained his artistic yearnings if
not ambitions long after he had become a great and
famous man of letters. It was in Paris that he
married his wife, and in Paris that the melancholy
finale came to pass; one of the most heartbreaking
chapters in literary history.
His little girls lived here with their grandparents.
The elder of them relates how she was once taken
up some flights of stairs by the Countess X to the
apartment of a frail young man to whom the Countess
was carrying a basket of fruit; and how the
frail young man insisted, against the protest of the
Countess, upon sitting at the piano and playing;
and of how they came out again, the eyes of the
Countess streaming with tears, and of her saying,
as they drove away, "Never, never forget, my child,
as long as you live, that you have heard Chopin
play." It was in one of the lubberly houses of
the Place Vendôme that the poet of the keyboard
died a few days later. Just around the corner, in
the Rue du Mont Thabor, died Alfred de Musset.
A brass plate marks the house.
May I not here transcribe that verse of the famous
"Ballad of Bouillabaisse," which I have never
been able to recite, or read aloud, and part of which
I may at length take to myself:
me, how quick the days are flitting!
mind me of a time that's gone,
here I'd sit, as now I'm sitting
this same place - but not alone -
fair young form was nestled near me,
dear, dear face looked fondly up,
sweetly spoke and smiled to hear me,
no one now to share my cup."
The writer of these lines a cynic! Nonsense.
When will the world learn to discriminate?
It is impossible to speak of Paris without giving
a foremost place in the memorial retrospect to the
Bois de Boulogne, the Parisian's Coney Island. I
recall that I passed the final Sunday of my last
Parisian sojourn just before the outbreak of the
World War with a beloved family party in the joyous
old Common. There is none like it in the world,
uniting the urban to the rural with such surpassing
grace as perpetually to convey a double sensation
of pleasure; primal in its simplicity, superb in its
setting; in the variety and brilliancy of the life
which, upon sunny afternoons, takes possession of
it and makes it a cross between a parade and a
There was a time when, rather far away for foot
travel, the Bois might be considered a driving park
for the rich. It fairly blazed with the ostentatious
splendor of the Second Empire; the shoddy Duke
with his shady retinue, in gilded coach-and-four;
the world-famous courtesan, bedizened with costly
jewels and quite as well known as the Empress; the
favorites of the Tuileries, the Comédie Française,
the Opera, the Jardin Mabille, forming an unceasing
and dazzling line of many-sided frivolity from
the Port de Ville to the Port St. Cloud, circling
round La Bagatelle and ranging about the Café
Cascade, a human tiara of diamonds, a moving bouquet
of laces and rubies, of silks and satins and
emeralds and sapphires. Those were the days when
the Duc de Morny, half if not full brother of the
Emperor, ruled as king of the Bourse, and Cora
Pearl, a clever and not at all good-looking Irish
girl gone wrong, reigned as Queen of the Demimonde.
All this went by the board years ago. Everywhere,
more or less, electricity has obliterated distinctions
of rank and wealth. It has circumvented
lovers and annihilated romance. The Republic
ousted the bogus nobility. The subways and the
tram cars connect the Bois de Boulogne and the
Bois de Vincennes so closely that the poorest may
make himself at home in either or both.
The automobile, too, oddly enough, is proving a
very leveller. The crowd recognizes nobody amid
the hurly-burly of coupés, pony-carts, and taxicabs,
each trying to pass the other. The conglomeration
of personalities effaces the identity alike of the
statesman and the artist, the savant and the cyprian.
No six-inch rules hedge the shade of the trees and
limit the glory of the grass. The
ouvrier can bring
his brood and his basket and have his picnic where
he pleases. The pastry cook and his chére amie, the
coiffeur and his grisette can spoon by the lake-side
as long as the moonlight lasts, and longer if they
list, with never a gendarme to say them nay, or a
rude voice out of the depths hoarsely to declaim,
"allez!" The Bois de Boulogne is literally and
absolutely a playground, the playground of the people,
and this last Sunday of mine, not fewer than
half a million of Parisians were making it their own.
Half of these encircled the Longchamps racecourse.
The other half were shared by the boats
upon the lagoons and the bosky dells under the
summer sky and the cafés and the restaurants with
which the Bois abounds. Our party, having
exhausted the humors of the drive, repaired to Pré
Catalan. Aside from the "two old brides" who are
always in evidence on such occasions, there was a
veritable "young couple," exceedingly pretty to
look at, and delightfully in love! That sort of thing
is not so uncommon in Paris as cynics affect to
If it be true, as the witty Frenchman observes,
that "gambling is the recreation of gentlemen and
the passion of fools," it is equally true that love is
a game where every player wins if he sticks to it
and is loyal to it. Just as credit is the foundation
of business is love both the asset and the trade-mark
of happiness. To see it is to believe it, and - though
a little cash in hand is needful to both - where either
is wanting, look out for sheriffs and scandals.
Pré Catalan, once a pasture for cows with a
pretty kiosk for the sale of milk, has latterly had
a tea-room big enough to seat a thousand, not counting
the groves which I have seen grow up about it
thickly dotted with booths and tables, where some
thousands more may regale themselves. That
Sunday it was never so glowing with animation and
color. As it makes one happy to see others happy
it makes one adore his own land to witness that
which makes other lands great.
I have not loved Paris as a Parisian, but as an
American; perhaps it is a stretch of words to say
I love Paris at all. I used to love to go there
and to behold the majesty of France. I have
always liked to mark the startling contrasts of light
and shade. I have always known what all the world
now knows, that beneath the gayety of the French
there burns a patriotic and consuming fire, a high
sense of public honor; a fine spirit of self-sacrifice
along with the sometimes too aggressive spirit of
freedom. In 1873 I saw them two blocks long and
three files deep upon the Rue St. Honore press up
to the Bank of France, old women and old men
with their little all tied in handkerchiefs and stockings
to take up the tribute required by Bismarck
to rid the soil of the detested German. They did
it. Alone they did it - the French people - the
hard-working, frugal, loyal commonalty of France
- without asking the loan of a sou from the world
Writing of that last Sunday in the Bois de Boulogne,
I find by recurring to the record that I said:
"There is a deal more of good than bad in every
Nation. I take off my hat to the French. But,
I have had my fling and I am quite ready to go
home. Even amid the gayety and the glare, the
splendor of color and light, the Hungarian band
wafting to the greenery and the stars the strains
of the delicious waltz, La Veuve Joyeuse her very
self - yea, many of her - tapping the time at many
adjacent tables, the song that fills my heart is
'Hame, Hame, Hame! - Hame to my ain countree.'
Yet, to come again, d'ye mind? I should be loath
to say good-by forever to the Bois de Boulogne.
I want to come back to Paris. I always want to
come back to Paris. One needs not to make an
apology or give a reason.
"We turn rather sadly away from Pré Catalan
and the Café Cascade. We glide adown the
flower-bordered path and out from the clusters of Chinese
lanterns, and leave the twinkling groves to their
music and merry-making. Yonder behind us, like
a sentinel, rises Mont Valerien. Before us glimmer
the lamps of uncountable coaches, as our own, veering
toward the city, the moon just topping the tower
of St. Jacques de la Boucherie and silver-plating
the bronze figures upon the Arch of Stars.
"We enter the Port Maillot. We turn into the
Avenue du Bois. Presently we shall sweep with
the rest through the Champs Elysées and on to the
ocean of the infinite, the heart of the mystery we
call Life, nowhere so condensed, so palpable, so
appealing. Roll the screen away! The shades of
Clovis and Genevieve may be seen hand-in-hand
with the shades of Martel and Pepin, taking the
round of the ghost-walk between St. Denis and
St. Germain, now le Balafré and again Navarre,
now the assassins of the Ligue and now the
assassins of the Terror, to keep them company. Nor
yet quite all on murder bent, some on pleasure; the
Knights and Ladies of the Cloth of Gold and the
hosts of the Renaissance: Cyrano de Bergerac and
François Villon leading the ragamuffin procession;
the jades of the Fronde, Longueville, Chevreuse
and fair-haired Anne of Austria; and Ninon, too,
and Manon; and the never-to-be-forgotten Four,
'one for all and all for one;' Cagliostro and Monte
Cristo; on the side, Rabelais taking notes and
laughing under his cowl. Catherine de Medici and
Robespierre slinking away, poor, guilty things, into
the pale twilight of the Dawn!
"Names! Names! Only names? I am not just
so sure about that. In any event, what a roll call!
We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our
little life is rounded by a sleep; the selfsame sleep
which these, our living dead men and women in
steel armor and gauzy muslins, in silken hose and
sock and buskin, epaulettes and top boots, brocades
and buff facings, have endured so long and know
"If I should die in Paris I should expect them
- or some of them - to meet me at the barriers and
to say, 'Behold, the wickedness that was done in the
world, the cruelty and the wrong, dwelt in the body,
not in the soul of man, which freed from its foul
incasement, purified and made eternal by the hand
of death, shall see both the glory and the hand of
It was not to be. I shall not die in Paris. I
shall never come again. Neither shall I make
apology for this long quotation by myself from
myself, for am I not inditing an autobiography, so
CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH
MONTE CARLO - THE EUROPEAN SHRINE OF SPORT
AND FASHION - APOCHRYPHAL GAMBLING
STORIES - LEOPOLD, KING OF THE BELGIANS - AN
ABLE AND PICTURESQUE MAN OF BUSINESS
HAVING disported ourselves in and about
Paris, next in order comes a journey to the
South of France - that is to the Riviera - by geography
the main circle of the Mediterranean Sea, by
proclamation Cannes, Nice, and Mentone, by actual
fact and count, Monte Carlo - even the swells
adopting a certain hypocrisy as due to virtue.
Whilst Monte Carlo is chiefly, I might say
exclusively, identified in the general mind with
gambling, and was indeed at the outset but a gambling
resort, it long ago outgrew the limits of the Casino,
becoming a Mecca of the world of fashion as well as
the world of sport. Half the ruling sovereigns of
Europe and all the leaders of European swelldom,
the more prosperous of the demi-mondaines and no
end of the merely rich of every land, congregate
there and thereabouts. At the top of the season the
show of opulence and impudence is bewildering.
The little principality of Monaco is hardly
bigger than the Cabbage Patch of the renowned Mrs.
Wiggs. It is, however, more happily situate.
Nestled under the heights of La Condamine and Tête
de Chien and looking across a sheltered bay upon
the wide and blue Mediterranean, it has better
protection against the winds of the North than Nice,
or Cannes, or Mentone. It is an appanage - in
point of fact the only estate - remaining to the once
powerful Grimaldi family.
In the early days of land-piracy Old Man
Grimaldi held his own with Old Man Hohenzollern
and Old Man Hapsburg. The Savoys and the
Bourbons were kith and kin. But in the long run
of Freebooting the Grimaldis did not keep up with
the procession. How they retained even this remnant
of inherited brigandage and self-appointed
royalty, I do not know. They are here under leave
of the Powers and the especial protection, strange
to say, of the French Republic.
Something over fifty years ago, being hard-up
for cash, the Grimaldi of the period fell under the
wiles of an ingenious Alsatian gambler, Guerlac
by name, who foresaw that Baden-Baden and
Hombourg were approaching their finish and that
the sports must look elsewhere for their living, the
idle rich for their sport. This tiny "enclave" in
French territory presented many advantages over
the German Dukedoms. It was an independent
sovereignty issuing its own coins and postage
stamps. It was in proud possession of a half-dozen
policemen which it called its "army." It was
paradisaic in beauty and climate. Its "ruler" was as
poor as Job's turkey, but by no means as proud as
The bargain was struck. The gambler smote the
rock of Monte Carlo as with a wand of enchantment
and a stream of plenty burst forth. The
mountain-side responded to the touch. It chortled
in its glee and blossomed as the rose.
The region known as the Riviera comprises, as
I have said, the whole land-circle of the Mediterranean
Sea. But, as generally written and understood,
it stands for the shoreline between Marseilles
and Genoa. The two cities are connected by the
Corniche Road, built by the First Napoleon, who
learned the need of it when he made his Italian
campaign, and the modern railway, the distance
260 miles, two-thirds of the way through France,
the residue through Italy, and all of it surpassing
The climate is very like that of Southern Florida.
But as in Florida they have the "Nor'westers"
and the "Nor'easters," on the Riviera they have
the "mistral." In Europe there is no perfect winter
weather north of Spain, as in the United States
none north of Cuba.
I have often thought that Havana might be made
a dangerous rival of Monte Carlo under the one-man
power, exercising its despotism with benignant
intelligence and spending its income honestly upon
the development of both the city and the island.
The motley populace would probably be none the
worse for it. The Government could upon a liberal
tariff collect not less than thirty-five millions
of annual revenue. Twenty-five of these millions
would suffice for its own support. Ten millions a
year laid out upon harbors, roadways and internal
improvements in general would within ten years
make the Queen of the Antilles the garden spot and
playground of Christendom. They would build a
Casino to outshine even the architectural miracles
of Charles Garnier. Then would Havana put
Cairo out of business and give the Prince of
Monaco a run for his money.
With the opening of every Monte Carlo season
the newspapers used to tell of the colossal winnings
of purely imaginary players. Sometimes the
favored child of chance was a Russian, sometimes
an Englishman, sometimes an American. He was
usually a myth, of course. As Mrs. Prig observed
to Mrs. Camp, "there never was no sich person."
Charles Garnier, the Parisian architect, came and
built the Casino, next to the Library of Congress
at Washington and the Grand Opera House at
Paris the most beautiful building in the world, with
incomparable gardens and commanding esplanades
to set it off and display it. Around it palatial hotels
and private mansions and villas sprang into existence.
Within it a gold-making wheel of fortune
fabricated the wherewithal. Old Man Grimaldi in
his wildest dreams of land-piracy - even Old Man
Hohenzollern, or Old Man Hapsburg - never
conceived the like.
There is no poverty, no want, no taxes - not any
sign of dilapidation or squalor anywhere in the
principality of Monaco. Yet the "people," so called,
have been known to lapse into a state of discontent.
They sometimes "yearned for freedom." Too well
fed and cared for, too rid of dirt and debt, too
flourishing, they "riz." Prosperity grew monotonous.
They even had the nerve to demand a "Constitution."
The reigning Prince was what Yellowplush
would call "a scientific gent." His son and heir,
however, had not his head in the clouds, being in
point of fact of the earth earthly, and, of
consequence, more popular than his father. He came
down from the Castle on the hill to the marketplace
in the town and says he: "What do you galoots
First, their "rights." Then a change in the
commander-in-chief of the army, which had grown from
six to sixteen. Finally, a Board of Aldermen and
a Common Council.
"Is that all?" says his Royal Highness. They
said it was. "Then," says he, "take it, mes enfants,
and bless you!"
So, all went well again. The toy sovereignty
began to rattle around in its own conceit, the
"people" regarded themselves, and wished to be
regarded, as a chartered Democracy. The little
gimcrack economic system experienced the joys of
reform. A "New Nationalism" was established in
the brewery down by the railway station and a
reciprocity treaty was negotiated between the Casino
and Vanity Fair, witnessing the introduction of
two roulette tables and an extra brazier for cigar
But the Prince of Monaco stood on one point.
He would have no Committee on Credentials.
He told me once that he had heard of Tom Reed
and Champ Clark and Uncle Joe Cannon, but that
be preferred Uncle Joe. He would, and he did,
name his own committees both in the Board of
Aldermen and the Common Council. Thus, for the
time being, "insurgency" was quelled. And once
more serenely sat the Castle on the hill hard by the
Cathedral. Calmly again flowed the waters in
the harbor. More and more the autos honked outside
the Casino. Within "the little ball ever goes
merrily round," and according to the croupiers and
the society reporters "the gentleman wins and the
poor gambler loses!"
To illustrate, I recall when on a certain season
the lucky sport of print and fancy was an Englishman.
In one of those farragos of stupidity and
inaccuracy which are syndicated and sent from
abroad to America, I found the following piece
with the stuff and nonsense habitually worked off
on the American press as "foreign correspondence":
"Now and then the newspapers report authentic
instances of large sums having been won at the
gaming tables at Monte Carlo. One of the most
fortunate players at Monte Carlo for a long time
past has been a Mr. Darnbrough, an Englishman,
whose remarkable run of luck had furnished the
morsels of gossip in the capitals of Continental
"If reports are true, he left the place with the
snug sum of more than 1,000,000 francs to the good
as the result of a month's play. But this, I hear,
did not represent all of Mr. Darnbrough's
winnings. The story goes that on the opening day of
his play he staked 24,000 francs, winning all along
the line. Emboldened by his success, he continued
playing, winning again and again with marvelous
luck. At one period, it is said, his credit balance
amounted to no less than 1,850,000 francs; but from
that moment Dame Fortune ceased to smile upon
him. He lost steadily from 200,000 to 300,000
francs a day, until, recognizing that luck had turned
against him, he had sufficient strength of will to
turn his back on the tables and strike for home with
the very substantial winnings that still remained.
"On another occasion a well-known London
stock broker walked off with little short of £40,000.
This remarkable performance occasioned no small
amount of excitement in the gambling rooms, as
such an unusual incident does invariably.
"Bent on making a 'plunge,' he went from one
table to another, placing the maximum stake on
the same number. Strange to relate, at each table
the same number won, and it was his number.
Recognizing that this perhaps might be his lucky
day, the player wended his way to the
trente-et-quarante room and put the maximum on three of
the tables there. To his amazement, he discovered
that there also he had been so fortunate as to select
the winning number.
"The head croupier confided to a friend of the
writer who happened to be present that that day
had been the worst in the history of the Monaco
bank for years. He it was also who mentioned the
amount won by the fortunate Londoner, as given
It is prudent of the space-writers to ascribe such
"information" as this to "the head croupier,"
because it is precisely the like that such an authority
would give out. People upon the spot know that
nothing of the kind happened, and that no person
of that name had appeared upon the scene. The
story on the face of it bears to the knowing its own
refutation, being absurd in every detail. As if
conscious of this, the author proceeds to quality it in
"It is a well-known fact that one of the most
successful players at the Monte Carlo tables was
Wells, who as the once popular music-hall song
put it, 'broke the bank' there. He was at the zenith
of his fame, about twenty years ago, when his
escapades - and winnings - were talked about widely
and envied in European sporting circles and among
"In ten days, it was said, he made upward of
£35,000 clear winnings at the tables after starting
with the modest capital of £400. It must not be
forgotten, however, that at his trial later Wells
denied this, stating that all he had made was £7,000
at four consecutive sittings. He made the statement
that, even so, he had been a loser in the end.
"The reader may take his choice of the two
statements, but among frequenters of the rooms at
Monte Carlo it is generally considered impossible
to amass large winnings without risking large
stakes. Even then the chances are 1,000 to 1 in
favor of the bank. Yet occasionally there are
winnings running into four or five figures, and to
human beings the possibility of chance constitutes
an irresistible fascination.
"Only a few years ago a young American was
credited with having risen from the tables $75,000
richer than when first he had sat down. It was his
first visit to Monte Carlo and he had not come with
any system to break the bank or with any 'get-rich-quick'
idea. For the novelty of the thing he risked
about $4,000, and lost it all in one fell swoop
without turning a hair. Then he 'plunged' with double
that amount, but the best part of that, too, went
the same way. Nothing daunted, he next ventured
$10,000. This time fickle fortune favored him. He
played on with growing confidence and when his
winnings amounted to the respectable sum of
$75,000 he had the good sense to quit and to leave the
place despite the temptation to continue."
The "man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo,"
and gave occasion for the song, was not named
"Wells" and he was not an Englishman. He was
an American. I knew him well and soon after the
event had from his own lips the whole story.
He came to Monte Carlo with a good deal of
money won at draw-poker in a club at Paris and
went away richer by some 100,000 francs (about
$20,000) than he came.
The catch-line of the song is misleading. There
is no such thing as "breaking the bank at Monte
Carlo." This particular player won so fast upon
two or three "spins" that the table at which he
played had to suspend until it could be replenished
by another "bank," perhaps ten minutes in point
of time. There used to be some twenty tables.
Just how one man could play at more than one of
them at one time a "foreign correspondent," but
only a "foreign correspondent," might explain to
the satisfaction of the horse-marines.
I very much doubt whether any player ever won
more than 100,000 francs at a single sitting. To
do even that he must plunge like a ship in a hurricane.
There is, of course, a saving limit set by the
Casino Company upon the play. It is to the
interest of the Casino to cultivate the idea, and the
letter writers are willing tools. Not only at Monte
Carlo, but everywhere, in dearth of news, gambling
stories come cheap and easy. And the cheaper the
story the bigger the play. "The Jedge raised him
two thousand dollars. The Colonel raised him back
ten thousand more. Both of 'em stood pat. The
Jedge bet him a hundred thousand. The Colonel
called. 'What you got?' says he. 'Ace high,' says
the Jedge; 'what you got?' 'Pair o' deuces,' says
Assuredly the "play" in the Casino is entirely
fair. It could hardly be otherwise with such crowds
of players at the tables, often covering the whole
"layout." But there is no such thing as "honest
gambling." The "house" must have "the best of
it." A famous American gambler, when I had
referred to one of his guild, lately deceased, as "an
honest gambler," said to me: "What do you mean
by 'an honest gambler'?"
"A gambler who will not take unfair advantage!"
"Well," said he, "the gambler must have his
advantage, because gambling is his livelihood. He
must fit himself for its profitable pursuit by learning
all the tricks of trade like other artists and
artificers. With him it is win or starve."
Among the variegate crowds that thronged the
highways and byways of Monte Carlo in those days
there was no single figure more observed and striking
than that of Leopold the Second, King of the
Belgians. He had a bungalow overlooking the sea
where he lived three months of the year like a country
gentleman. Although I have made it a rule to
avoid courts and courtiers, an event brought me
into acquaintance with this best abused man in
Europe, enabling me to form my own estimate of his
very interesting personality.
He was not at all what his enemies represented
him to be, a sot, a gambler and a roué. In appearance
a benignant burgomaster, tall and stalwart;
in manner and voice very gentle, he should be
described as first of all a man of business. His
weakness was rather for money than women. Speaking
of the most famous of the Parisian dancers with
whom his name had been scandalously associated,
he told me that he had never met her but once in
his life, and that after the newspaper gossips had
been busy for years with their alleged love affair.
"I kissed her hand," he related, "and bade her
adieu, saying, 'Ah, ma'mselle, you and I have
indeed reason to congratulate ourselves.' "
It was the Congo business that lay at the bottom
of the abuse of Leopold. Henry Stanley had put
him up to this. It turned out a gold mine, and then
two streams of defamation were let loose; one from
the covetous commercial standpoint and the other
from the humanitarian. Between them, seeking to
drive him out, they depicted him as a monster of
cruelty and depravity.
A King must be an anchorite to escape calumny,
and Leopold was not an anchorite. I asked him
why I never saw him in the Casino. "Play," he
answered, "does not interest me. Besides, I do not
enjoy being talked about. Nor do I think the
game they play there quite fair."
"In what way do you consider it unfair, your
Majesty?" I asked.
"In the zero," he replied. "At the Brussels
Casino I do not allow them to have a zero. Come
and see me and I will show you a perfectly equal
chance for your money, to win or lose."
Years after I was in Brussels. Leopold had
gone to his account and his nephew, Albert, had
come to the throne. There was not a roulette table
in the Casino, but there was one conveniently
adjacent thereto, managed by a clique of New York
gamblers, which had both a single "and a double
O," and, as appeared when the municipality made
a descent upon the place, was ingeniously wired
to throw the ball wherever the presiding coupier
wanted it to go.
I do not believe, however, that Leopold was a
party to this, or could have had any knowledge of
it. He was a skillful, not a dishonest, business man,
who showed his foresight when he listened to Stanley
and took him under his wing. If the Congo
had turned out worthless nobody would ever have
heard of the delinquencies of the King of the
CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH
A PARISIAN "PENSION" - THE WIDOW OF WALEWSKA,
NAPOLEON'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW - THE
CHANGELESS - A MORAL AND ORDERLY CITY
I HAVE said that I knew the widow of Walewska,
the natural son of Napoleon Bonaparte
by the Polish countess he picked up in Warsaw,
who followed him to Paris; and thereby hangs
a tale which may not be without interest.
In each of our many sojourns in Paris my wife
and I had taken an apartment, living the while in
the restaurants, at first the cheaper, like the Café
de Progress and the Duval places; then the Boeuf
à la Mode, the Café Voisin and the Café Anglais,
with Champoux's, in the Place de la Bourse, for a
regular luncheon resort.
At length, the children something more than
half grown, I said: "We have never tried a Paris
So with a half dozen recommended addresses we
set out on a house hunt. We had not gone far
when our search was rewarded by a veritable find.
This was on the Avenue de Courcelles, not far from
the Parc Monceau; newly furnished; reasonable
charges; the lady manager a beautiful well-mannered
woman, half Scotch and half French.
We moved in. When dinner was called the
boarders assembled in the very elegant drawing-room.
Madame presented us to Baron - . Then
followed introductions to Madame la Duchesse and
Madame la Princesse and Madame la Comtesse.
Then the folding doors opened and dinner was
The baron sat at the center of the table. The
meal consisted of eight or ten courses, served as if
at a private house, and of surpassing quality. During
the three months that we remained there was
no evidence of a boarding house. It appeared an
aristocratic family into which we had been hospitably
admitted. The baron was a delightful person.
Madame la Duchesse was the mother of Madame
la Princesse, and both were charming. The
Comtesse, the Napoleonic widow, was at first a little
formal, but she came round after we had got
acquainted, and, when we took our departure, it
was like leaving a veritable domestic circle.
Years after we had the sequel. The baron, a
poor young nobleman, had come into a little money.
He thought to make it breed. He had an equally
poor Scotch cousin, who undertook to play hostess.
Both the Duchess and the Countess were his kinswomen.
How could such a ménage last?
He lost his all. What became of our fellow-lodgers
I never learned, but the venture coming to
naught, the last I heard of the beautiful high-bred
lady manager, she was serving as a stewardess on
an ocean liner. Nothing, however, could exceed the
luxury, the felicity and the good company of those
memorable three months
chez l'Avenue de Courcelles,
We never tried a
pension again. We chose a delightful
hotel in the Rue de Castiglione off the Rue
de Rivoli, and remained there as fixtures until we
were reckoned the oldest inhabitants. But we never
deserted the dear old Boeuf à la Mode, which we
lived to see one of the most flourishing and popular
places in Paris.
In the old days there was a little hotel on the Rue
Dannou, midway between the Rue de la Paix and
what later along became the Avenue de l'Opéra,
called the Hôtel d'Orient. It was conducted by a
certain Madame Hougenin, whose family had held
the lease for more than a hundred years, and was
typical of what the comfort-seeking visitor, somewhat
initiate, might find before the modern tourist
onrush overflowed all bounds and effaced the
ancient landmarks - or should I say townmarks? -
making a resort instead of a home of the gay French
capital. The d'Orient was delightfully comfortable
and fabulously cheap.
The wayfarer entered a darksome passage that
led to an inner court. There were on the four sides
of this seven or eight stories pierced by many
windows. There was never a lift, or what we Americans
call an elevator. If you wanted to go up you
walked up; and after dark your single illuminant
was candlelight. The service could hardly be
recommended, but cleanliness herself could find no
fault with the beds and bedding; nor any queer
people about; changeless; as still and stationary as
a nook in the Rockies.
A young girl might dwell there year in and year
out in perfect safety - many young girls did so -
madame a kind of duenna. The food - for it was a
pension - was all a gourmet could desire. And the
I was lunching with an old Parisian friend.
"What do you think of this vintage?" says he.
"Very good," I answered. "Come and dine with
me to-morrow and I will give you the mate to it."
"What - at the d'Orient?"
"Yes, at the d'Orient."
Nevertheless, he came. When the wine was
poured out he took a sip.
"By - !" he exclaimed. "That is good, isn't
it? I wonder where they got it? And how?"
During the week after we had it every day. Then
no more. The headwaiter, with many apologies,
explained that he had found those few bottles in
a forgotten bin, where they had lain for years, and
he begged a thousand pardons of monsieur, but we
had drunk them all -
rien du plus - no more. I
might add that precisely the same thing happened
to me at the Hôtel Continental. Indeed, it is not
uncommon with the French caravansaries to keep a
little extra good wine in stock for those who can
distinguish between an
ordinaire and a supérieur,
and are willing to pay the price.
"See Naples and die," say the Italians. "See
Paris and live," say the French. Old friends, who
have been over and back, have been of late telling
me that Paris, having woefully suffered, is nowise
the Paris it was, and as the provisional offspring
of four years of desolating war I can well believe
them. But a year or two of peace, and the city will
rise again, as after the Franco-Prussian War and
the Commune, which laid upon it a sufficiently
blighting hand. In spite of fickle fortune and its
many ups and downs it is, and will ever remain,
"Paris, the Changeless."
I never saw the town so much itself as just before
the beginning of the world war. I took my
departure in the early summer of that fateful year
and left all things booming - not a sign or trace
that there had ever been aught but boundless happiness
and prosperity. It is hard, the saying has it,
to keep a squirrel on the ground, and surely Paris
is the squirrel among cities. The season just ended
had been, everybody declared, uncommonly successful
from the standpoints alike of the hotels and
cafés, the shop folk and their patrons, not to
mention the purely pleasure-seeking throng. People
seemed loaded with money and giddy to spend it.
The headwaiter at Voisin's told me this: "Mr.
Barnes, of New York, ordered a dinner, carte
blanche, for twelve.
" 'Now,' says he, 'garcon, have everything bang
up, and here's seventy-five francs for a starter.'
"The dinner was bang up. Everybody hilarious.
Mr. Barnes immensely pleased. When he came to
pay his bill, which was a corker, he made no
" 'Garcon,' says he, 'if I ask you a question will
you tell me the truth?'
" 'Oui, monsieur; certainement.'
"Well, how much was the largest tip you ever
"Seventy-five francs, monsieur."
" 'Very well; here are 100 francs.'
"Then, after a pause for the waiter to digest his
joy and express a proper sense of gratitude and
wonder, Mr. Barnes came to time with: 'Do you
remember who was the idiot that paid you the
" 'Oh, yes, monsieur. It was you.' "
It has occurred to me that of late years - I mean
the years immediately before 1914 - Paris has been
rather more bent upon adapting itself to human
and moral as well as scientific progress. There has
certainly been less debauchery visible to the naked
eye. I was assured that the patronage had so fallen
away from the Moulin Rouge that they were
planning to turn it into a decent theater. Nor
during my sojourn did anybody in my hearing so
much as mention the Dead Rat. I doubt whether
it is still in existence.
The last time I was in Maxim's - quite a dozen
years ago now - a young woman sat next to me
whose story could be read in her face. She was a
pretty thing not five and twenty, still blooming,
with iron-gray hair. It had turned in a night, I
was told. She had recently come from Baltimore
and knew no more what she was doing or whither
she was drifting than a baby. The old, old story:
a comfortable home and a good husband; even a
child or two; a scoundrel, a scandal, an elopement,
and the inevitable desertion. Left without a dollar
in the streets of Paris. She was under convoy of
a noted procuress.
"A duke or the morgue," she whimpered, "in six
Three months sufficed. They dragged all that
remained of her out of the Seine, and then the whole
of the pitiful disgrace and tragedy came out.
If ever I indite a volume to be entitled Adventures
in Paris it will contain not a line to feed any
prurient fancy, but will embrace the record of many
little journeys between the Coiffeur and the Marché
des Fleurs, with maybe an excursion among the
cemeteries and the restaurants.
Each city is as one makes it for himself. Paris
has contributed greatly to my appreciation, and
perhaps my knowledge, of history and literature
and art and life. I have seen it in all its aspects;
under the empire, when the Duc de Morny was
king of the Bourse and Mexico was to make every
Frenchman rich; after the commune and the siege,
when the Hôtel de Ville was in ruins, the palace of
the Tuileries still aflame, the column gone from
the Place Vendôme, and everything a blight and
waste; and I have marked it rise from its ashes,
grandly, proudly, and like a queen come to her own
again, resume its primacy as the only complete
metropolis in all the universe.
There is no denying it. No city can approach
Paris in structural unity and regality, in things
brilliant and beautiful, in buoyancy, variety, charm
and creature comfort. Drunkenness, of the kind
familiar to London and New York, is invisible to
Paris. The brandy and absinthe habit has been
greatly exaggerated. In truth, everywhere in
Europe the use of intoxicants is on the decline. They
are, for the first time in France, stimulated partly
by the alarming adulteration of French wines,
rigorously applying and enforcing the pure-food laws.
As a consequence, there is a palpable and decided
improvement of the vintage of the Garonne and the
Champagne country. One may get a good glass of
wine now without impoverishing himself. As men
drink wine, and as the wine is pure, they fall away
from stronger drink. I have always considered,
with Jefferson, the brewery in America an excellent
temperance society. That which works otherwise
is the dive which too often the brewery fathers.
They are drinking more beer in France - even making
a fairly good beer. And then -
But gracious, this is getting upon things controversial,
and if there is anything in this world that
I do hybominate, it is controversy!
Few of the wondrous changes which the Age of
Miracles has wrought in my day and generation
exceeded those of ocean travel. The modern liner
is but a moving palace. Between the ports of the
Old World and the ports of the new the transit is
so uneventful as to grow monotonous. There are
no more adventures on the high seas. The ocean
is a thoroughfare, the crossing a ferry. My experience
forty years ago upon one of the ancient tubs
which have been supplanted by these liners would
make queer reading to the latter-day tourist,
taking, let us say, any one of the steamers of any one
of the leading transatlantic companies. The difference
in the appointments of the William Penn of
1865 and the star boats of 1914 is indescribable. It
seems a fairy tale to think of a palm garden where
the ladies dress for dinner, a Hungarian band which
plays for them whilst they dine, and a sky parlor
where they go after dinner for their coffee and
what not; a tea-room for the five-o'clockers; and
except in excessive weather scarcely any motion at
all. It is this palm garden which most appeals to
a certain lady of my very intimate acquaintance
who had made many crossings and never gone to
her meals - sick from shore to shore - until the gods
ordained for her a watery, winery, flowery paradise
- where the billows ceased from troubling and a
woman could appear at her best. Since then she
has sailed many times, lodged à la Waldorf-Astoria
to eat her victuals and sip her wine with perfect
contentment. Coming ashore from our last crossing
a friend found her in the Red Room of that
hostel just as she had been sitting the evening
before on shipboard.
"Seems hardly any motion at all," she said, looking
about her and fancying herself still at sea, as
well she might.
CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH
THE GROVER CLEVELAND PERIOD - PRESIDENT
ARTHUR AND MR. BLAINE - JOHN CHAMBERLAIN
- THE DECREES OF DESTINY
WHAT may be called the Grover Cleveland
period of American politics began with the
election of that extraordinary person - another man
of destiny - to the governorship of New York.
Nominated, as it were, by chance, he carried the
State by an unprecedented majority. That was
not because of his popularity, but that an incredible
number of Republican voters refused to support
their party ticket and stayed away from the
polls. The Blaine-Conkling feud, inflamed by the
murder of Garfield, had rent the party of Lincoln
and Grant asunder. Arthur, a Conkling leader,
had succeeded to the presidency.
If any human agency could have sealed the
breach he might have done it. No man, however,
can achieve the impossible. The case was hopeless.
Arthur was a man of surpassing sweetness and
grace. As handsome as Pierce, as affable as
McKinley, he was a more experienced and dextrous
politician than either. He had been put on the
ticket with Garfield to placate Conkling. All sorts
of stories to his discredit were told during the
ensuing campaign. The Democrats made him out a
tricky and typical "New York politician." In
point of fact he was a many-sided, accomplished
man who had a taking way of adjusting all
conditions and adapting himself to all companies.
With a sister as charming and tactful as he for
head of his domestic fabric, the White House
bloomed again. He possessed the knack of
surrounding himself with all sorts of agreeable people.
Frederick Frelinghuysen was Secretary of State
and Robert Lincoln, continued from the Garfield
Cabinet, Secretary of War. Then there were three
irresistibles: Walter Gresham, Frank Hatton and
"Ben" Brewster. His home contingent - "Clint"
Wheeler, "Steve" French, and "Jake" Hess - pictured
as "ward heelers" - were, in reality, efficient
and all-around, companionable men, capable and
I was sent by the Associated Press to Washington
on a fool's errand - that is, to get an act of
Congress extending copyright to the news of the
association - and, remaining the entire session, my
business to meet the official great and to make
myself acceptable, I came into a certain intimacy with
the Administration circle, having long had friendly
relations with the President. In all my life I have
never passed so delightful and useless a winter.
Very early in the action I found that my mission
involved a serious and vexed question - nothing less
than the creation of a new property - and I
proceeded warily. Through my uncle, Stanley
Matthews, I interested the members of the
Supreme Court. The Attorney General, a great
lawyer and an old Philadelphia friend, was at my call
and elbow. The Joint Library Committee of Congress,
to which the measure must go, was with me.
Yet somehow the scheme lagged.
I could not account for this. One evening at a
dinner Mr. Blaine enlightened me. We sat
together at table and suddenly he turned and said:
"How are you getting on with your bill?" And
my reply being rather halting, he continued, "You
won't get a vote in either House," and he
proceeded very humorously to improvise the average
member's argument against it as a dangerous
power, a perquisite to the great newspapers and an
imposition upon the little ones. To my mind this
was something more than the post-prandial levity
it was meant to be.
Not long after a learned but dissolute old lawyer
said to me, "You need no act of Congress to protect
your news service. There are at least two,
and I think four or five, English rulings that cover
the case. Let me show them to you." He did so
and I went no further with the business, quite agreeing
with Mr. Blaine, and nothing further came of
it. To a recent date the Associated Press has relied
on these decisions under the common law of England.
Curiously enough, quite a number of newspapers
in whose actual service I was engaged,
opened fire upon me and roundly abused me.
There appeared upon the scene in Washington
toward the middle of the seventies one of those
problematical characters the fiction-mongers delight
in. This was John Chamberlin. During two decades
"Chamberlin's," half clubhouse and half chophouse,
was all a rendezvous.
"John" had been a gambler; first an underling
and then a partner of the famous Morrissy-McGrath
racing combination at Saratoga and Long
Branch. There was a time when he was literally
rolling in wealth. Then he went broke - dead
broke. Black Friday began it and the panic of '73
finished it. He came over to Washington and his
friends got him the restaurant privileges of the
House of Representatives. With this for a starting
point, he was able to take the Fernando Wood
residence, in the heart of the fashionable quarter,
to add to it presently the adjoining dwelling of
Governor Swann, of Maryland, and next to that,
finally, the Blaine mansion, making a suite, as it
were, elegant yet cozy. "Welcker's," erst a
fashionable resort, and long the best eating-place in
town, had been ruined by a scandal, and "Chamberlin's"
succeeded it, having the field to itself,
though, mindful of the "scandal" which had made
its opportunity, ladies were barred.
There was a famous cook - Emeline Simmons -
a mulatto woman, who was equally at home in
French dishes and Maryland-Virginia kitchen
mysteries - a very wonder with canvasback and terrapin
- who later refused a great money offer to be chef
at the White House - whom John was able to
secure. Nothing could surpass - could equal - her
preparations. The charges, like the victuals, were
sky-high and tip-top. The service was handled by
three "colored gentlemen," as distinguished in
manners as in appearance, who were known far and
wide by name and who dominated all about them,
including John and his patrons.
No such place ever existed before, or will ever
exist again. It was the personality of John Chamberlin,
pervasive yet invisible, exhaling a silent,
welcoming radiance. General Grant once said to
me, "During my eight years in the White House,
John Chamberlin once in a while - once in a great
while - came over. He did not ask for anything.
He just told me what to do, and I did it." I
mentioned this to President Arthur. "Well," he
laughingly said, "that has been my experience with John
Chamberlin. It never crosses my mind to say him
'nay.' Often I have turned this over in my thought
to reach the conclusion that being a man of sound
judgment and worldly knowledge, he has fully
considered the case - his case and my case - leaving me
no reasonable objection to interpose."
John obtained an act of Congress authorizing
him to build a hotel on the Government reservation
at Fortress Monroe, and another of the Virginia
Legislature confirming this for the State. Then he
came to me. It was at the moment when I was
flourishing as "a Wall Street magnate." He said:
"I want to sell this franchise to some man, or
company, rich enough to carry it through. All I expect
is a nest egg for Emily and the girls" - he had
married the beautiful Emily Thorn, widow of George
Jordan, the actor, and there were two daughters -
"you are hand-and-glove with the millionaires.
Won't you manage it for me?" Like Grant and
Arthur, I never thought of refusing. Upon the
understanding that I was to receive no commission,
I agreed, first ascertaining that it was really a most
I began with the Willards, in whose hotel I had
grown up. They were rich and going out of
business. Then I laid it before Hitchcock and Darling,
of the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York. They,
rich like the Willards, were also retiring. Then a
bright thought occurred to me. I went to the
Prince Imperial of Standard Oil. "Mr. Flagler,"
I said, "you have hotels at St. Augustine and you
have hotels at Palm Beach. Here is a halfway
point between New York and Florida," and more
of the same sort. "My dear friend," he answered,
"every man has the right to make a fool of himself
once in his life. This I have already done. Never
again for me. I have put up my last dollar south
of the Potomac." Then I went to the King of the
transcontinental railways. "Mr. Huntington," I
said, "you own a road extending from St. Louis to
Newport News, having a terminal in a cornfield
just out of Hampton Roads. Here is a franchise
which gives you a magnificent site at Hampton
Roads itself. Why not?" He gazed upon me
with a blank stare - such I fancy as he usually
turned upon his suppliants - and slowly replied: "I
would not spend another dollar in Virginia if the
Lord commanded me. In the event that some
supernatural power should take the Chesapeake &
Ohio Railway by the nape of the neck and the seat
of the breeches and pitch it out in the middle of the
Atlantic Ocean it would be doing me a favor."
So I returned John his franchise marked "nothing
doing." Afterward he put it in the hands of
a very near friend, a great capitalist, who had no
better luck with it. Finally, here and there,
literally by piecemeal, he got together money enough
to build and furnish the Hotel Chamberlin, had a
notable opening with half of Congress there to see,
and gently laid himself down and died, leaving little
other than friends and debts.
Macaulay tells us that the dinner-table is a
wondrous peacemaker, miracle worker, social solvent;
and many were the quarrels composed and the plans
perfected under the Chamberlin roof. It became a
kind of Congressional Exchange with a close White
House connection. If those old walls, which by the
way are still standing, could speak, what tales they
might tell, what testimonies refute, what new lights
throw into the vacant corners and dark places of
Coming away from Chamberlin's with Mr.
Blaine for an after-dinner stroll during the winter
of 1883-4, referring to the approaching National
Republican Convention, he said: "I do not want
the nomination. In my opinion there is but one
nominee the Republicans can elect this year and
that is General Sherman. I have written him to
tell him so and urge it upon him. In default of him
the time of you people has come." He subsequently
showed me this letter and General Sherman's reply.
My recollection is that the General declared that he
would not take the presidency if it were offered him,
earnestly invoking Mr. Blaine to support his brother,
This would seem clear refutation that Mr. Blaine
was party to his own nomination that year. It
assuredly reveals keen political instinct and foresight.
The capital prize in the national lottery was
not for him.
I did not meet him until two years later, when
he gave me a minute account of what had happened
immediately thereafter; the swing around the circle;
Belshazzar's feast, as a fatal New York banquet
was called; the far-famed Burchard incident.
"I did not hear the words, 'Rum, Romanism and
Rebellion,' " he told me, "else, as you must know,
I would have fittingly disposed of them."
I said: "Mr. Blaine, you may as well give it up.
The doom of Webster, Clay, and Douglas is upon
you. If you are nominated again, with an assured
election, you will die before the day of election. If
you survive the day and are elected, you'll die
before the 4th of March." He smiled grimly and
replied: "It really looks that way."
My own opinion has always been that if the
Republicans had nominated Mr. Arthur in 1884 they
would have elected him. The New York vote would
scarcely have been so close. In the count of the
vote the Arthur end of it would have had some
advantage - certainly no disadvantage. Cleveland's
nearly 200,000 majority had dwindled to the claim
of a beggarly few hundred, and it was charged that
votes which belonged to Butler, who ran as an
independent labor candidate, were actually counted
When it was over an old Republican friend of
mine said: "Now we are even. History will attest
that we stole it once and you stole it once. Turn
about may be fair play; but, all the same, neither
of us likes it."
So Grover Cleveland, unheard of outside of Buffalo
two years before, was to be President of the
United States. The night preceding his nomination
for the governorship of New York, General
Slocum seemed in the State convention sure of that
nomination. Had he received it he would have
carried the State as Cleveland did, and Slocum, not
Cleveland, would have been the Chief Magistrate.
It cost Providence a supreme effort to pull
Cleveland through. But in his case, as in many another,
Providence "got there" in fulfilment of a decree
CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH
MR. CLEVELAND IN THE WHITE HOUSE - MR. BAYARD
IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE - QUEER
APPOINTMENTS TO OFFICE - THE ONE-PARTY
POWER - THE END OF NORTH AND SOUTH
THE futility of political as well as of other
human reckoning was set forth by the result of
the presidential election of 1884. With a kind of
prescience, as I have related, Mr. Blaine had foreseen
it. He was a sagacious as well as a lovable and
brilliant man. He looked back affectionately upon
the days he had passed in Kentucky, when a poor
school-teacher, and was especially cordial to the
Kentuckians. In the House he and Beck were
sworn friends, and they continued their friendship
when both of them had reached the Senate.
I inherited Mr. Blaine's desk in the Ways and
Means Committee room. In one of the drawers of
this he had left a parcel of forgotten papers, which
I returned to him. He made a joke of the secrets
they covered and the fortunate circumstance that
they had fallen into the hands of a friend and not
of an enemy.
No man of his time could hold a candle to Mr.
Blaine in what we call magnetism - that is, in manly
charm, supported by facility and brain power.
Clay and Douglas had set the standard of party
leadership before his time. He made a good third
to them. I never knew Mr. Clay, but with Judge
Douglas I was well acquainted, and the difference
between him and Mr. Blaine in leadership might
be called negligible.
Both were intellectually aggressive and individually
amiable. They at least seemed to love their fellow
men. Each had been tried by many adventures.
Each had gone, as it were, "through the flint mill."
Born to good conditions - Mr. Blaine sprang from
aristocratic forebears - each knew by early albeit
brief experience the seamy side of life; as each, like
Clay, nursed a consuming passion for the presidency.
Neither had been made for a subaltern, and
they chafed under the subaltern yoke to which fate
had condemned them.
In Grover Cleveland a total stranger had arrived
at the front of affairs. The Democrats, after
a rule of more than half a century, had been out
of power twenty-four years. They could scarce
realize at first that they were again in power. The
new chieftain proved more of an unknown quantity
than had been suspected. William Dorsheimer, a
life-long crony, had brought the two of us together
before Cleveland's election to the governorship of
the Empire State as one of a group of attractive
Buffalo men, most of whom might be said to have
been cronies of mine, Buffalo being a delightful
halfway stop-over in my frequent migrations
between Kentucky and the Eastern seaboard. As in
the end we came to a parting of the ways I want to
write of Mr. Cleveland as a historian and not as a
He said to Mr. Carlisle after one of our occasional
tiffs: "Henry will never like me until God
makes me over again." The next time we met,
referring to this, I said: "Mr. President, I like you
very much - very much indeed - but sometimes I
don't like some of your ways."
There were in point of fact two Clevelands - before
marriage and after marriage - the intermediate
Cleveland rather unequal and indeterminate.
Assuredly no one of his predecessors had
entered the White House so wholly ignorant of
public men and national affairs. Stories used to be
told assigning to Zachary Taylor this equivocal
distinction. But General Taylor had grown up in the
army and advanced in the military service to a chief
command, was more or less familiar with the party
leaders of his time, and was by heredity a
gentleman. The same was measurably true of Grant.
Cleveland confessed himself to have had no social
training, and he literally knew nobody.
Five or six weeks after his inauguration I went
to Washington to ask a diplomatic appointment for
my friend, Boyd Winchester. Ill health had cut
short a promising career in Congress, but Mr.
Winchester was now well on to recovery, and there
seemed no reason why he should not and did not
stand in the line of preferment. My experience
may be worth recording because it is illustrative.
In my quest I had not thought of going beyond
Mr. Bayard, the new Secretary of State. I did go
to him, but the matter seemed to make no headway.
There appeared a hitch somewhere. It had not
crossed my mind that it might be the President
himself. What did the President know or care about
He said to me on a Saturday when I was introducing
a party of Kentucky friends: "Come tip to-morrow
for luncheon. Come early, for Rose" - his
sister, for the time being mistress of the White
House - "will be at church and we can have an
The next day we passed the forenoon together.
He was full of homely and often whimsical talk.
He told me he had not yet realized what had
happened to him.
"Sometimes," he said, "I wake at night and rub
my eyes and wonder if it is not all a dream."
He asked an infinite number of questions about
this, that and the other Democratic politician. He
was having trouble with the Kentucky Congressmen.
He had appointed a most unlikely scion of a
well-known family to a foreign mission, and
another young Kentuckian, the son of a New York
magnate, to a leading consul generalship, without
consultation with any one. He asked me about
these. In a way one of them was one of my boys,
and I was glad to see him get what he wanted,
though he aspired to nothing so high. He was
indeed all sorts of a boy, and his elevation to such a
post was so grotesque that the nomination, like
that of his mate, was rejected by the Senate. I
gave the President a serio-comic but kindly
account, at which he laughed heartily, and ended by
my asking how he had chanced to make two such
"Hewitt came over here," he answered, "and then
Dorsheimer. The father is the only Democrat we
have in that great corporation. As to the other,
he struck me as a likely fellow. It seemed good
politics to gratify them and their friends."
I suggested that such backing was far afield and
not very safe to go by, when suddenly he said: "I
have been told over and over again by you and by
others that you will not take office. Too much of
a lady, I suppose! What are you hanging round
Washington for anyhow? What do you want?"
Here was my opportunity to speak of Winchester,
and I did so.
When I had finished he said: "What are you
doing about Winchester?"
"Relying on the Secretary of State, who served
in Congress with him and knows him well."
Then he asked: "What do you want for
I answered: "Belgium or Switzerland."
He said: "I promised Switzerland for a friend
of Corning's. He brought him over here yesterday
and he is an out-and-out Republican who voted for
Blaine, and I shall not appoint him. If you want
the place for Winchester, Winchester it is."
Next day, much to Mr. Bayard's surprise, the
commission was made out.
Mr. Cleveland had a way of sudden fancies to
new and sometimes queer people. Many of his
appointments were eccentric and fell like bombshells
upon the Senate, taking the appointee's home
people completely by surprise.
The recommendation of influential politicians
seemed to have little if any weight with him.
There came to Washington from Richmond a
gentleman by the name of Keiley, backed by the
Virginia delegation for a minor consulship. The
President at once fell in love with him.
"Consul be damned," he said. "He is worth more
than that," and named him Ambassador to Vienna.
It turned out that Mrs. Keiley was a Jewess and
would not be received at court. Then he named
him Ambassador to Italy, when it appeared that
Keiley was an intense Roman Catholic, who had
made at least one ultramontane speech, and would
persona non grata at the Quirinal. Then
Cleveland dropped him. Meanwhile poor Keiley had
closed out bag and baggage at Richmond and was
at his wit's end. After much ado the President was
brought to a realizing sense and a place was found
for Keiley as consul general and diplomatic agent
at Cairo, whither he repaired. At the end of the
four years he came to Paris and one day, crossing
the Place de la Concorde, he was run over by a
truck and killed. He deserved a longer career and
a better fate, for he was a man of real capacity.
Taken to task by thick and thin Democratic
partisans for my criticism of the only two
Democratic Presidents we have had since the War of
Sections, Cleveland and Wilson, I have answered
by asserting the right and duty of the journalist
to talk out in meeting, flatly repudiating the claims
as well as the obligations of the organ grinder they
had sought to put upon me, and closing with the
knife grinder's retort -
Things have come to a hell of a pass
When a man can't wallop his own jackass.
In the case of Mr. Cleveland the break had come
over the tariff issue. Reading me his first message
to Congress the day before he sent it in, he had said:
"I know nothing about the tariff, and I thought
I had best leave it where you and Morrison had put
it in the platform."
We had indeed had a time in the Platform Committee
of the Chicago convention of 1884. After
an unbroken session of fifty hours a straddle was all
that the committee could be brought to agree upon.
The leading recalcitrant had been General Butler,
who was there to make trouble and who later along
bolted the ticket and ran as an independent candidate.
One aim of the Democrats was to get away from
the bloody shirt as an issue. Yet, as the sequel
proved, it was long after Cleveland's day before the
bloody shirt was laid finally to rest. It required a
patriot and a hero like William McKinley to do
this. When he signed the commissions of Joseph
Wheeler and Fitzhugh Lee, Confederate generals
and graduates of the West Point Military Academy,
to be generals in the Army of the United
States, he made official announcement that the War
of Sections was over and gave complete amnesty to
the people and the soldiers of the South.
Yet the bloody shirt lingered long as a troublemaker,
and was invoked by both parties.
That chance gathering of heedless persons, stirred
by the bombast of self-exploiting orators eager for
notoriety or display - loose mobs of local
non-descripts led by pension sharks so aptly described
by the gallant General Bragg, of Wisconsin, as
coffee coolers and camp followers - should tear their
passion to tatters with the thought that Virginia,
exercising an indisputable right and violating no
reasonable sensibility, should elect to send
memorials of Washington and Lee for the Hall of
Statues in the nation's Capitol, came in the
accustomed way of bloody-shirt agitation. It merely
proved how easily men are led when taken in droves
and stirred by partyism. Such men either bore
no part in the fighting when fighting was the order
of the time, or else they were too ignorant and
therefore too unpatriotic to comprehend the meaning
of the intervening years and the glory these
had brought with the expanse of national progress
and prowess. In spite of their lack of representative
character it was not easy to repress impatience
at ebullitions of misguided zeal so ignoble; and of
course it was not possible to dissuade or placate
All the while never a people more eager to get
together than the people of the United States after
the War of Sections, as never a people so averse to
getting into that war. A very small group of
extremists and doctrinaires had in the beginning made
a War of Sections possible. Enough of these survived
in the days of Cleveland and McKinley to
keep sectionalism alive.
It was mainly sectional clamor out for partisan
advantage. But it made the presidential campaigns
lurid in certain quarters. There was no end of
objurgation, though it would seem that even the
most embittered Northerner and ultra Republican
who could couple the names of Robert E. Lee and
Benedict Arnold, as was often done in campaign
lingo, would not hesitate, if his passions were roused
or if he fancied he saw in it some profit to himself
or his party, to liken George Washington to Judas
The placing of Lee's statue in the Capitol at
Washington made the occasion for this.
It is true that long before Confederate officers
had sat in both Houses of Congress and in Republican
and Democratic cabinets and upon the bench of
the Supreme Court, and had served as ambassadors
and envoys extraordinary in foreign lands. But
McKinley's doing was the crowning stroke of union
There had been a weary and varied interim.
Sectionalism proved a sturdy plant. It died hard. We
may waive the reconstruction period as ancient
history. There followed it intense party spirit. Yet,
in spite of extremists and malignants on both sides
of the line, the South rallied equally with the
North to the nation's drumbeat after the Maine
went down in the harbor of Havana. It fought as
bravely and as loyally at Santiago and Manila.
Finally, by the vote of the North, there came into
the Chief Magistracy one who gloried in the
circumstance that on the maternal side he came of
fighting Southern stock; who, amid universal
applause, declared that no Southerner could be
prouder than he of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall
Jackson, apotheosizing an uncle, his mother's
brother, who had stood at the head of the
Confederate naval establishment in Europe and had
fitted out the Confederate cruisers, as the noblest
and purest man he had ever known, a composite of
Colonel Newcome and Henry Esmond.
Meanwhile the process of oblivion had gone on.
The graven effigy of Jefferson Davis at length
appeared upon the silver service of an American
battleship. This told the Mississippi's guests, wherever
and whenever they might meet round her hospitable
board, of national unification and peace, giving the
lie to sectional malignancy. In the most famous
and conspicuous of the national cemeteries now
stands the monument of a Confederate general not
only placed there by consent of the Government,
but dedicated with fitting ceremonies supervised by
the Department of War, which sent as its official
representative the son of Grant, himself an army
officer of rank and distinction.
The world has looked on, incredulous and
amazed, whilst our country has risen to each
successive act in the drama of reconciliation with
I have been all my life a Constitutional Nationalist;
first the nation and then the state. The
episode of the Confederacy seems already far away.
It was an interlude, even as matters stood in the
Sixties and Seventies, and now he who would
thwart the unification of the country on the lines of
oblivion, of mutual and reciprocal forgiveness,
throws himself across the highway of his country's
future, and is a traitor equally to the essential
principles of free government and the spirit of the age.
If sectionalism be not dead it should have no
place in popular consideration. The country seems
happily at last one with itself. The South, like
the East and the West, has come to be the merest
geographic expression. Each of its states is in the
Union, precisely like the states of the East and the
West, all in one and one in all. Interchanges of
every sort exist.
These exchanges underlie and interlace our social,
domestic and business fabric. That the
arrangement and relation after half a century of
strife thus established should continue through all
time is the hope and prayer of every thoughtful,
patriotic American. There is no greater dissonance
to that sentiment in the South than in the North.
To what end, therefore, except ignominious recrimination
and ruinous dissension, could a revival of old
sectional and partisan passions - if it were possible
- be expected to reach?
Humor has played no small part in our politics.
It was Col. Mulberry Sellers, Mark Twain's hero,
who gave currency to the conceit and enunciated the
principle of "the old flag and an appropriation." He
did not claim the formula as his own, however. He
got it, he said, of Senator Dillworthy, his patriotic
file leader and ideal of Christian statesmanship.
The original of Senator Dillworthy was recognized
the country over as Senator Pomeroy, of
Kansas, "Old Pom," as he had come to be called,
whose oleaginous piety and noisy patriotism,
adjusting themselves with equal facility to the
purloining of subsidies and the roasting of rebels, to
prayer and land grants, had impressed themselves
upon the Satirist of the Gilded Age as upon his
immediate colleagues in Congress. He was a ruffle-shirted
Pharisee, who affected the airs of a bishop,
and resembled Cruikshank's pictures of Pecksniff.
There have not been many "Old Poms" in our
public life; or, for that matter Aaron Burrs either,
and but one Benedict Arnold. That the chosen
people of God did not dwell amid the twilight of the
ages and in far-away Judea, but were reserved to a
later time, and a region then undiscovered of men,
and that the American republic was ordained of
God to illustrate upon the theater of the New
World the possibilities of free government in
contrast with the failures and tyrannies and
corruptions of the Old, I do truly believe. That is the
first article in my confession of faith. And the
second is like unto it, that Washington was raised
up by God to create it, and that Lincoln was raised
up by God to save it; else why the militia colonel
of Virginia and the rail splitter of Illinois, for no
reason that was obvious at the time, before all other
men? God moves in a mysterious way his wonders
to perform. The star of the sublime destiny that
hung over the
manager of our blessed Savior hung
over the cradle of our blessed Union.
Thus far it has weathered each historic danger
which has gone before to mark the decline and fall
of nations; the struggle for existence; the foreign
invasion; the internecine strife; the disputed
succession; religious bigotry and racial conflict. One
other peril confronts it - the demoralization of
wealth and luxury; too great prosperity; the
concentration and the abuse of power. Shall we
survive the lures with which the spirit of evil, playing
upon our self-love, seeks to trip our wayward footsteps,
purse-pride and party spirit, mistaken zeal
and perverted religion, fanaticism seeking to
abridge liberty and liberty running to license, greed
masquerading as a patriot and ambition making a
commodity of glory - or under the process of a
divine evolution shall we be able to mount and ride
the waves which swallowed the tribes of Israel,
which engulfed the phalanxes of Greece and the
legions of Rome, and which still beat the sides and
sweep the decks of Europe?
The one-party power we have escaped; the one-man
power we have escaped. The stars in their
courses fight for us; the virtue and intelligence of
the people are still watchful and alert. Truth is
mightier than ever, and justice, mounting guard
even in the Hall of Statues, walks everywhere the
battlements of freedom!
CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH
THE REAL GROVER CLEVELAND - TWO CLEVELANDS,
BEFORE AND AFTER MARRIAGE - A CORRESPONDENCE
AND A BREAK OF PERSONAL RELATIONS
THERE were, as I have said, two Grover
Clevelands - before and after marriage - and,
it might be added, between his defeat in 1888 and
his election in 1892. He was so sure of his election
in 1888 that he could not be induced to see the
danger of the situation in his own State of New
York, where David Bennett Hill, who had succeeded
him in the governorship, was a candidate for
reëlection, and whom he personally detested, had
become the ruling party force. He lost the State,
and with it the election, while Hill won, and thereby
arose an ugly faction fight.
I did not believe as the quadrennial period
approached in 1892 that Mr. Cleveland could be
elected. I still think he owed his election, and
Harrison his defeat, to the Homestead riots of the
mid-summer, which transferred the labor vote bodily
from the Republicans to the Democrats. Mainly
on account of this belief I opposed his nomination
In the Kentucky State Convention I made my
opposition resonant, if not effective. "I understand,"
I said in an address to the assembled delegates,
"that you are all for Grover Cleveland?"
There came an affirmative roar.
"Well," I continued, "I am not, and if you send
me to the National Convention I will not vote for
his nomination, if his be the only name presented,
because I firmly believe that his nomination will
mean the marching through a slaughter-house to an
open grave, and I refuse to be party to such a
The answer of the convention was my appointment
by acclamation, but it was many a day before
I heard the last of my unlucky figure of speech.
Notwithstanding this splendid indorsement, I
went to the National Convention feeling very like
the traditional "poor boy at a frolic." All seemed
to me lost save honor and conviction. I had
become the embodiment of my own epigram, "a tariff
for revenue only." Mr. Cleveland, in the beginning
very much taken by it, had grown first lukewarm
and then frightened. His "Free Trade"
message of 1887 had been regarded by the party
as an answering voice. But I knew better.
In the national platform, over the protest of
Whitney, his organizer, and Vilas, his spokesman,
I had forced him to stand on that gospel. He flew
into a rage and threatened to modify, if not to
repudiate, the plank in his letter of acceptance. We
were still on friendly terms and, upon reaching
home, I wrote him the following letter. It
reads like ancient history, but, as the quarrel which
followed cut a certain figure in the political
chronicle of the time, the correspondence may not
be historically out of date, or biographically
MR. WATTERSON TO MR. CLEVELAND
Courier-Journal Office, Louisville, July 9, 1892.
- My Dear Mr.
you two editorial
articles from the Courier-Journal, and, that
their spirit and purpose may not be misunderstood
by you, I wish to add a word or two of a kind
directly and entirely personal.
To a man of your robust understanding and
strong will, opposition and criticism are apt to be
taken as more or less unfriendly; and, as you are
at present advised, I can hardly expect that any
words of mine will be received by you with sentiments
either of confidence or favor.
I was admonished by a certain distrust, if not disdain,
visited upon the honest challenge I ventured
to offer your Civil Service policy, when you were
actually in office, that you did not differ from some
other great men I have known in an unwillingness,
or at least an inability, to accept, without resentment,
the question of your infallibility. Nevertheless,
I was then, as I am now, your friend, and
not your enemy, animated by the single purpose to
serve the country, through you, as, wanting your
great opportunities, I could not serve it through
During the four years when you were President,
I asked you but for one thing that lay near my
heart. You granted that handsomely; and, if you
had given me all you had to give beside, you could
not have laid me under greater obligation. It is a
gratification to me to know, and it ought to be some
warrant both of my intelligence and fidelity for
you to remember that that matter resulted in credit
to the Administration and benefit to the public
But to the point; I had at St. Louis in 1888 and
at Chicago, the present year, to oppose what was
represented as your judgment and desire in the
adoption of a tariff plank in our national platform;
successfully in both cases. The inclosed articles set
forth the reasons forcing upon me a different
conclusion from yours, in terms that may appear to
you bluntly specific, but I hope not personally
offensive; certainly not by intention, for, whilst I
would not suppress the truth to please you or any
man, I have a decent regard for the sensibilities
and the rights of all men, particularly of men so
eminent as to be beyond the reach of anything except
insolence and injustice. Assuredly in your
case, I am incapable of even so much as the covert
thought of either, entertaining for you absolute
respect and regard. But, my dear Mr. President, I
do not think that you appreciate the overwhelming
force of the revenue reform issue, which has made
you its idol.
If you will allow me to say so, in perfect frankness
and without intending to be rude or unkind,
the gentlemen immediately about you, gentlemen
upon whom you rely for material aid and energetic
party management, are not, as to the Tariff, Democrats
at all; and have little conception of the place
in the popular mind and heart held by the Revenue
Reform idea, or, indeed of any idea, except that of
organization and money.
Of the need of these latter, no man has a more
realizing sense, or larger information and experience,
than I have. But they are merely the brakes
and wheels of the engine, to which principles and
inspirations are, and must always be, the elements
of life and motion. It is to entreat you therefore,
in your coming letter and address, not to
underestimate the tremendous driving power of this
Tariff issue, and to beg you, not even to seem to
qualify it, or to abridge its terms in a mistaken
attempt to seem to be conservative.
You cannot escape your great message of 1887
if you would. I know it by heart, and I think that
I perfectly apprehend its scope and tenor. Take
it as your guiding star. Stand upon it. Reiterate
it. Emphasize it, amplify it, but do not subtract
a thought, do not erase a word. For every vote
which a bold front may lose you in the East you will
gain two votes in the West. In the East, particularly
in New York, enemies lurk in your very cupboard,
and strike at you from behind your chair
at table. There is more than a fighting chance for
Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota, and next to a certainty
in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, if you
put yourself personally at the head of the column
which is moving in your name, supposing it to be
another name for reduced taxes and freer
Discouraged as I was by the condition of things
in New York and Indiana prior to the Chicago
Convention, depressed and almost hopeless by your
nomination, I can see daylight, if you will relax
your grip somewhat upon the East and throw yourself
confidently upon the West.
I write warmly because I feel warmly. If you
again occupy the White House, and it is my most
constant and earnest prayer that you may, be sure
that you will not be troubled by me. I cannot hope
that my motives in opposing your nomination,
consistent as you know them to have been, or that my
conduct during the post-convention discussion and
canvass, free as I know it to have been of ill-feeling,
or distemper, has escaped misrepresentation and
misconception. I could not, without the loss of my
self-respect, approach you on any private matter
whatever; though it may not be amiss for me to say
to you, that three weeks before the meeting of the
National Convention, I wrote to Mr. Gorman and
Mr. Brice urging the withdrawal of any opposition,
and declaring that I would be a party to no
movement to work the two-thirds rule to defeat the
will of the majority.
This is all I have to say, Mr. President, and you
can believe it or not, as you please; though you
ought to know that I would write you nothing except
in sincere conviction, nor speak to you, or of
you, except in a candid and kindly spirit.
that this will find you hale, hearty, and happy,
I am, dear sir, your fellow democrat and most
The Honorable Grover Cleveland.
MR. CLEVELAND TO MR. WATTERSON
By return mail I
received this answer:
Gray Gables, Buzzards Bay, Mass.,
July 15, 1892.
MY DEAR MR. WATTERSON:
I have received your
letter and the clippings you
I am not sure that I understand perfectly all
that they mean. One thing they demonstrate
beyond any doubt, to-wit: that you have not - I think
I may say - the slightest conception of my disposition.
It may be that I know as little about yours.
I am surprised by the last paragraph of The
Courier-Journal article of July 8 and amazed to
read the statements contained in your letter, that
you know the message of 1887 by heart. It is a
matter of very small importance, but I hope you
will allow me to say, that in all the platform smashing
you ever did, you never injured nor inspired
me that I have ever seen or heard of, except that of
1888. I except that, so I may be exactly correct
when I write, "seen or heard of," - for I use the
I would like very much to present some views to
you relating to the tariff position, but I am afraid
to do so.
I will, however, venture to say this: If we are
defeated this year, I predict a Democratic wandering
in the dark wilds of discouragement for twenty-five
years. I do not purpose to be at all responsible
for such a result. I hope all others upon whom
rests the least responsibility will fully appreciate it.
The world will move on when both of us are dead.
While we stay, and especially while we are in any
way concerned in political affairs and while we are
members of the same political brotherhood, let us
both resolve to be just and modest and amiable.
Yours very sincerely,
Hon. Henry Watterson, Louisville, Ky.
MR. WATTERSON TO MR. CLEVELAND
said in answer:
Louisville, July 22, 1892. - My Dear Sir:
not see how you could misunderstand the spirit in
which I wrote, or be offended by my plain words.
They were addressed as from one friend to another,
as from one Democrat to another. If you entertain
the idea that this is a false view of our relative
positions, and that your eminence lifts you above
both comradeship and counsels, I have nothing to
say except to regret that, in underestimating your
breadth of character I exposed myself too contumely.
You do, indeed, ride a wave of fortune and favor.
You are quite beyond the reach of insult, real or
fancied. You could well afford to be more tolerant.
In answer to the ignorance of my service to the
Democratic party, which you are at such pains to
indicate - and, particularly, with reference to the
sectional issue and the issue of tariff reform - I
might, if I wanted to be unamiable, suggest to you
a more attentive perusal of the proceedings of the
three national conventions which nominated you for
But I purpose nothing of the sort. In the last
five national conventions my efforts were decisive
in framing the platform of the party. In each of
them I closed the debate, moved the previous question
and was sustained by the convention. In all
of them, except the last, I was a maker, not a
smasher. Touching what happened at Chicago, the
present year, I had a right, in common with good
Democrats, to be anxious; and out of that sense of
anxiety alone I wrote you.
I am sorry that my
temerity was deemed by you intrusive and, entering
a respectful protest against a ban which I cannot
believe to be deserved by me, and assuring you
that I shall not again trouble you in that way, I
am, your obedient servant,
The Hon. Grover Cleveland.
This ended my personal relations with Mr.
Cleveland. Thereafter we did not speak as we passed
by. He was a hard man to get on with. Overcredulous,
though by no means excessive, in his
likes, very tenacious in his dislikes, suspicious
withal, he grew during his second term in the White
House, exceedingly "high and mighty," suggesting
somewhat the "stuffed prophet," of Mr. Dana's
relentless lambasting and verifying my insistence
that he posed rather as an idol to be worshiped,
than a leader to be trusted and loved. He was in
truth a strong man, who, sufficiently mindful of
his limitations in the beginning, grew by unexampled
and continued success overconfident and overconscious
in his own conceit. He had a real desire
to serve the country. But he was apt to think that
he alone could effectively serve it. In one of our
spats I remember saying to him, "You seem, Mr.
President, to think you are the only pebble on
the beach - the one honest and brave man in the
party - but let me assure you of my own knowledge
that there are others." His answer was, "Oh,
you go to - !"
He split his party wide open. The ostensible
cause was the money issue. But, underlying this,
there was a deal of personal embitterment. Had
he been a man of foresight - or even of ordinary
discernment - be might have held it together and
with it behind him have carried the gold standard.
I had contended for a sound currency from the
outset of the fiscal contention, fighting first the
green-back craze and then the free silver craze
against an overwhelming majority in the West and
South, nowhere more radically relentless than in
Kentucky. Both movements had their origin on
economic fallacies and found their backing in
dishonest purpose to escape honest indebtedness.
Through Mr. Cleveland the party of Jefferson,
Jackson, and Tilden was converted from a Democrat
into a Populist, falling into the arms of Mr.
Bryan, whose domination proved as baleful in one
way as Mr. Cleveland's had been in another, the
final result shipwreck, with the extinguishment of
all but the label.
Mr. Bryan was a young man of notable gifts of
speech and boundless self-assertion. When he
found himself well in the saddle he began to rule
despotically and to ride furiously. A party leader
more short-sighted could hardly be imagined. None
of his judgments came true. As a consequence the
Republicans for a long time had everything their
own way, and, save for the Taft-Roosevelt quarrel,
might have held their power indefinitely. All
history tells us that the personal equation must be
reckoned with in public life. Assuredly it cuts no
mean figure in human affairs. And, when politicians
fall out - well - the other side comes in.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIRST
STEPHEN FOSTER, THE SONG WRITER - A FRIEND
COMES TO THE RESCUE OF HIS ORIGINALITY -
"MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME" AND "OLD FOLKS
AT HOME" - GENERAL SHERMAN AND "MARCHING
I HAVE received many letters touching what I
said a little while ago of Stephen Collins
Foster, the song writer. In that matter I had, and
could have had, no unkindly thought or purpose.
The story of the musical scrapbook rested not with
me, but as I stated, upon the averment of Will S.
Hays, a rival song writer. But that the melody of
Old Folks at Home may be found in Schubert's
posthumous Rosemonde admits not of contradiction
for there it is, and this would seem to be in
some sort corroborative evidence of the truth of
Among these letters comes one from Young E.
Allison which is entitled to serious consideration.
Mr. Allison is a gentleman of the first order of
character and culture, an editor and a musician,
and what he writes cannot fail to carry with it very
great weight. I need make no apology for quoting
him at length.
"I have long been collecting material about
Foster from his birth to his death," says Mr.
Allison, "and aside from his weak and fatal love of
drink, which developed after he was twenty-five,
and had married, his life was one continuous
devotion to the study of music, of painting, of poetry
and of languages; in point of fact, of all the arts
that appeal to one who feels within him the stir of
the creative. He was, quite singularly enough, a
fine mathematician, which undoubtedly aided him
in the study of music as a science, to which time and
balance play such an important part. In fact, I
believe it was the mathematical devil in his brain
that came to hold him within such bare and
primitive forms of composition and so, to some
extent, to delimit the wider development of his genius.
"Now as to Foster's drinking habits, however
unfortunate they proved to him they did not affect
the quality of his art as he bequeathed it to us. No
one cares to recall the unhappy fortunes of Burns,
De Musset, Chopin or - even in our own time - of
O. Henry, and others who might be named. In
none of their productions does the hectic fever of
over-stimulation show itself. No purer, gentler or
simpler aspirations were ever expressed in the varying
forms of music and verse than flowed from
Foster' s pen, even as penetrating benevolence came
from the pen of O. Henry, embittered and solitary
as his life had been. Indeed when we come to
regard what the drinkers of history have done for the
world in spite of the artificial stimulus they craved,
we may say with Lincoln as Lincoln said of Grant,
'Send the other generals some of the same brand.'
"Foster was an aristocrat of aristocrats, both by
birth and gifts. He inherited the blood of Richard
Steele and of the Kemble family, noted in English
letters and dramatic annals. To these artistic
strains he added undoubtedly the musical temperament
of an Italian grandmother or great-grandmother.
He was a cousin of John Rowan, the
distinguished Kentucky lawyer and senator. Of
Foster's family, his father, his brothers, his sisters
were all notable as patriots, as pioneers in
engineering, in commerce and in society. One of his
brothers designed and built the early Pennsylvania
Railroad system and died executive vice-president
of that great corporation. Thus he was born to the
arts and to social distinction. But, like many men
of the creative temperament, he was born a solitary,
destined to live in a land of dreams. The singular
beauty and grace of his person and countenance,
the charm of his voice, manner and conversation,
were for the most part familiar to the limited circle
of his immediate family and friends. To others he
was reticent, with a certain hauteur of timidity,
avoiding society and public appearances to the day
of his death.
"Now those are the facts about Foster. They
certainly do not describe the 'ne'er-do-well of a
good family' who hung round barrooms, colored-minstrel
haunts and theater entrances. I can find
only one incident to show that Foster ever went to
hear his own songs sung in public. He was
essentially a solitary, who, while keenly observant of
and entering sympathizingly into the facts of life,
held himself aloof from immediate contact with its
crowded stream. He was solitary from sensitivity,
not from bitterness or indifference. He made a
large fortune for his day with his songs and was a
"Let us come now to the gravamen of my complaint.
You charge on the authority of mere gossip
from the late Will S. Hays, that Foster did not
compose his own music, but that he had obtained
a collection of unpublished manuscripts by an
unnamed old 'German musician and thus dishonestly,
by pilfering and suppression' palmed off upon the
public themes and compositions which he could not
himself have originated. Something like this has
been said about every composer and writer, big and
little, whose personality and habits did not impress
his immediate neighbors as implying the possession
of genius. The world usually expects direct
inheritance and a theatric impressiveness of genius in
its next-door neighbor before it accepts the proof
of his works alone. For that reason Napoleon's
paternity in Corsica was ascribed to General
Maboeuf, and Henry Clay's in early Kentucky to
Patrick Henry. That legend of the 'poor,
unknown German musician' who composed in poverty
and secrecy the deathless songs that have obsessed
the world of music lovers, has been told of numberless
young composers on their way to fame, but
died out in the blaze of their later work. I have no
doubt they told it of Foster, as they did also of
Hays. And Colonel Hays doubtless repeated it to
you as the intimate gossip about Foster.
"I have an article written by Colonel Hays and
published in and cut from The Courier-Journal
some twelve years after the composer's death, in
which he sketches the life and work of Stephen Collins
Foster. In that article he lays especial stress
upon the surprising originality of the Foster
themes and of their musical setting. He praises
their distinct American or rather native inspiration
and flavor, and describes from his own knowledge
of Foster how they were 'written from his heart.'
No mention or suggestion in it of any German or
other origin for any of those melodies that the world
then and now cherishes as American in costume, but
universal in appeal. While you may have heard
something in Schubert's compositions that suggested
something in Foster's most famous song,
still I venture to say it was only a suggestion, such
as often arises from the works of composers of the
same general type. Schubert and Foster were both
young sentimentalists and dreamers who must have
had similar dreams that found expression in their
"The German musicians from whom Foster got
inspiration to work were Beethoven, Glück, Weber,
Mozart. He was a student of all of them and of
the Italian school also, as some of his songs show.
Foster's first and only music teacher - except in the
'do-re-mi' exercises in his schoolboy life - testifies
that Foster's musical apprehension was so quick,
his intuitive grasp of its science so complete that
after a short time there was nothing he could teach
him of the theory of composition; that his pupil
went straight to the masters and got illustration
and discipline for himself.
"This was to be expected of a precocious genius
who had written a concerted piece for flutes at
thirteen, who was trying his wings on love songs at
sixteen, and before he was twenty-one had
composed several of the most famous of his American
melodies, among them Oh Susannah, Old Dog Tray
and Old Uncle Ned. As in other things he taught
himself music, but he studied it ardently at the
shrines of the masters. He became a master of the
art of song writing. If anybody cares to hunt up
the piano scores that Verdi made of songs from his
operas in the days of Foster he will find that the
great Italian composer's settings were quite as thin
as Foster's and exhibited not much greater art. It
was the fault of the times on the piano, not of the
composers. It was not till long afterward that the
color capacities of the piano were developed. As
Foster was no pianist, but rather a pure melodist,
he could not be expected to surpass his times in the
management of the piano, the only 'orchestra' he
had. It will not do to regard Foster as a crude
musician. His own scores reveal him as the most
artful of 'artless' composers.
"It is not even presumption to speak of him in
the same breath with Verdi. The breadth and
poignancy of Foster's melodies entitle them to the
highest critical respect, as they have received worldwide
appreciation from great musicians and plain
music lovers. Wherever he has gone he has reached
the popular heart. Here in the United States he
has quickened the pulse beats of four generations.
But this master creator of a country's only native
songs has invariably here at home been apologized
for as a sort of 'cornfield musician,' a mere banjo
strummer, a hanger-on at barrooms where minstrel
quartets rendered his songs and sent the hat round.
The reflection will react upon his country; it will
not detract from the real Foster when the
constructive critic appears to write his brief and
unfortunate life. I am not contending that he was a
genius of the highest rank, although he had the
distinction that great genius nearly always achieves, of
creating a school that produced many imitators and
established a place apart for itself in the world's
estimation. In ballad writing he did for the United
States what Watteau did for painting in France.
As Watteau found a Flemish school in France and
left a French school stamped forever, so Foster
found the United States a home for imitations of
English, Irish, German and Italian songs, and left
a native ballad form and melodic strain forever
impressed upon it as pure American.
"He was like Watteau in more than that.
Watteau took the elegancies and fripperies of the
corrupt French court and fixed them in art
immortal, as if the moment had been arrested and held
in actual motion. Foster took the curious and
melancholy spectacle of African slavery at its
height, superimposed by the most elegant and
picturesque social manners this country has known,
at the moment the institution was at its zenith. He
saw the glamor, the humor, the tragedy, the
contrasts, the emotional depths - that lay unplumbed
beneath it all. He fixed it there for all time, for
all hearts and minds everywhere. His songs are not
only the pictorial canvas of that time, they are the
emotional history of the times. It was done by a
boy who was not prophet enough to foresee the end,
or philosopher enough to demonstrate the conditions,
but who was born with the intuition to feel it
all and set it forth deeply and truly from every
"While Foster wrote many comic songs there is
ever in them something of the melancholy
undercurrent that has been detected under the laces and
arabesques of Chopin's nominally frivolous dances.
Foster's ballad form was extremely attenuated, but
the melodic content filled it so completely that it
seems to strain at the bounds and must be repeated
and repeated to furnish full gratification to the ear.
His form when compared with the modern ballad's
amplitude seems like a Tanagra figurine beside a
Michelangelo statue - but the figurine is as fine in
its scope as the statue is in the greater.
"I hope you will think Foster over and revise
him 'upward.' "
All of us need to be admonished to speak no evil
of the dead. I am trying in Looking Backward to
square the adjuration with the truth. Perhaps I
should speak only of that which is known directly
to myself. It costs me nothing to accept this
statement of Mr. Allison and to incorporate it as an
essential part of the record as far as it relates to
the most famous and in his day the most beloved
of American song writers.
Once at a Grand Army encampment General
Sherman and I were seated together on the platform
when the band began to play Marching
Through Georgia, when the general said rather
impatiently: "I wish I had a dollar for every time I
have had to listen to that blasted tune."
And I answered: "Well, there is another tune
about which I might say the same thing," meaning
My Old Kentucky Home.
Neither of us was quite sincere. Both were
unconsciously pleased to hear the familiar strains. At
an open-air fiesta in Barcelona some American
friends who made their home there put the bandmaster
up to breaking forth with the dear old melody
as I came down the aisle, and I was mightily
pleased. Again at a concert in Lucerne, the band,
playing a potpourri of Swiss songs, interpolated
Kentucky's national anthem and the group of us
stood up and sang the chorus.
I do not wonder that men march joyously to
battle and death to drum and fife squeaking and
rattling The Girl I Left Behind Me. It may be a
long way to Tipperary, but it is longer to the end
of the tether that binds the heart of man to the
cradle songs of his nativity. With the cradle songs
of America the name of Stephen Collins Foster
"is immortal bound," and I would no more dishonor
his memory than that of Robert Burns or
the author of The Star-Spangled Banner.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SECOND
THEODORE ROOSEVELT - HIS PROBLEMATIC CHARACTER -
HE OFFERS ME AN APPOINTMENT - HIS
BONHOMIE AND CHIVALRY - PROUD OF HIS
IT is not an easy nor yet a wholly congenial task
to write - truthfully, intelligently and frankly
to write - about Theodore Roosevelt. He belonged
to the category of problematical characters. A
born aristocrat, he at no time took the trouble to
pose as a special friend of the people; a born leader,
he led with a rough unsparing hand. He was the
soul of controversy. To one who knew him from
his childhood as I did, always loving him and rarely
agreeing with him, it was plain to see how his most
obvious faults commended him to the multitude and
made for a popularity that never quite deserted
As poorly as I rate the reign of majorities I
prefer it to the one-man power, either elective or
dynastic. The scheme of a third term in the presidency
for General Grant seemed to me a conspiracy
though with many of its leaders I was on terms of
affectionate intimacy. I fought and helped to kill
in 1896 the unborn scheme to give Mr. Cleveland a
third term. Inevitably as the movement for the
retention of Theodore Roosevelt beyond the time
already fixed began to show itself in 1907, my pen
was primed against it and I wrote variously and
There appeared in one of the periodicals for
January, 1908, a sketch of mine which but for a
statement issued concurrently from the White
House would have attracted more attention than it
did. In this I related how at Washington just
before the War of Sections I had a musical pal - the
niece of a Southern senator - who had studied in
Paris, been a protégée of the Empress Eugénie and
become an out-and-out imperialist. Louis Napoleon
was her ideal statesman. She not only hated the
North but accepted as gospel truth all the misleading
theories of the South: that cotton was king;
that slavery was a divine institution; that in any
enterprise one Southern man was a match for six
On these points we had many contentions. When
the break came she went South with her family.
The last I saw of her was crossing Long Bridge in
a lumbering family carriage waving a tiny
Forty-five years intervened. I had heard of her
from time to time wandering aimlessly over
Europe, but had not met her until the preceding winter
in a famous Southern homestead. There she led
me into a rose garden, and seated beneath its clustered
greeneries she said with an air of triumph,
"Now you see, my dear old friend, that I was right
and you were wrong all the time."
Startled, and altogether forgetful, I asked in
"Why," she answered, "at last the South is coming
to its own."
Still out of rapport with her thought I said something
about the obliteration of sectionalism and the
arrival of political freedom and general prosperity.
She would none of this.
"I mean," she abruptly interposed, "that the son
of Martha Bullock has come to his own and he will
rescue us from the mudsills of the North."
She spoke as if our former discussions had been
but yesterday. Then I gave her the right of way,
interjecting a query now and then to give emphasis
to her theme, while she unfolded the plan which
seemed to her so simple and easy; God's own will;
the national destiny, first a third term, and then
life tenure à la Louis Napoleone for Theodore
Roosevelt, the son of Martha Bullock, the nephew
of our great admiral, who was to redress all the
wrongs of the South and bring the Yankees to their
just deserts at last.
"If," I ended my sketch, "out of the mouths of
babes and sucklings, why not out of the brain of
this crazed old woman of the South?"
Early in the following April I came from my
winter home in Florida to the national capital, and
the next day was called by the President to the
"The first thing I want to ask," said he, "is
whether that old woman was a real person or a
figment of your imagination?"
"She was a figment of my imagination," I answered,
"but you put her out of business with a
single punch. Why didn't you hold back your
statement a bit? If you had done so there was room
for lots of sport ahead."
He was in no mood for joking. "Henry Watterson,"
he said, "I want to talk to you seriously about
this third-term business. I will not deny that I
have thought of the thing - thought of it a great
deal." Then he proceeded to relate from his point
of view the state of the country and the immediate
situation. He spoke without reserve of his relations
to the nearest associated public men, of what
were and what were not his personal and party
obligations, his attitude toward the political
questions of the moment, and ended by saying, "What
do you make of all this?"
"Mr. President," I replied, "you know that I am
your friend, and as your friend I tell you that if
you go out of here the fourth of next March placing
your friend Taft in your place you will make
a good third to Washington and Lincoln; but if you
allow these wild fellows willy-nilly to induce you,
in spite of your declaration, to accept the nomination,
substantially for a third term, all issues will
be merged in that issue, and in my judgment you
will not carry a state in the Union."
As if much impressed and with a show of feeling
he said: "It may be so. At any rate I will not do
it. If the convention nominates me I will promptly
send my declination. If it nominates me and adjourns
I will call it together again and it will have
to name somebody else."
As an illustration of the implacability which
pursued him I may mention that among many leading
Republicans to whom I related the incident most
of them discredited his sincerity, one of them - a
man of national importance - expressing the
opinion that all along he was artfully playing for
the nomination. This I do not believe. Perhaps he
was never quite fixed in his mind. The presidency
is a wondrous lure. Once out of the White House
- what else and what - ?
Upon his return from one of his several foreign
journeys a party of some hundred or more of his
immediate personal friends gave him a private dinner
at a famous uptown restaurant. I was placed
next him at table. It goes without saying that
we had all sorts of a good time - he Cæsar and I
Brutus - the prevailing joke the entente between
"I think," he began his very happy speech, "that
I am the bravest man that ever lived, for here I
have been sitting three hours by the side of Brutus
- have repeatedly seen him clutch his knife - without
the blink of an eye or the turn of a feature."
To which in response when my turn came I said:
"You gentlemen seem to be surprised that there
should be so perfect an understanding between our
guest and myself. But there is nothing new or
strange in that. It goes back, indeed, to his cradle
and has never been disturbed throughout the intervening
years of political discussion - sometimes
acrimonious. At the top of the acclivity of his
amazing career - in the very plenitude of his eminence
and power - let me tell you that he offered
me one of the most honorable and distinguished
appointments within his gift."
"Tell them about that, Marse Henry," said he.
"With your permission, Mr. President, I will,"
I said, and continued: "The centenary of the
West Point Military Academy was approaching.
I was at dinner with my family at a hotel in
Washington when General Corbin joined us. 'Will you,'
he abruptly interjected, 'accept the chairmanship
of the board of visitors to the academy this coming
" 'What do you want of me?' I asked.
" 'It is the academy's centenary, which we propose
to celebrate, and we want an orator.'
" 'General Corbin,' said I, 'you are coming at
me in a most enticing way. I know all about West
Point. Here at Washington I grew up with it.
I have been fighting legislative battles for the Army
all my life. That you Yankees should come to a
ragged old rebel like me for such a service is a
distinction indeed, and I feel immensely honored.
But which page of the court calendar made you a
plural? Whom do you mean by "we"? '
" 'Why,' he replied in serio-comic vein, 'the
President, the Secretary of War and Me, myself.'
"I promised him to think it over and give him
an answer. Next day I received a letter from the
President, making the formal official tender and
expressing the hope that I would not decline it.
Yet how could I accept it with the work ahead of
me? It was certain that if I became a part of the
presidential junket and passed a week in the
delightful company promised me, I would be unfit
for the loyal duty I owed my belongings and my
party, and so reluctantly - more reluctantly than
I can tell you - I declined, obliging them to send
for Gen. Horace Porter and bring him over from
across the ocean, where he was ably serving as
Ambassador to France. I need not add how well
that gifted and versatile gentleman discharged the
distinguished and pleasing duty."
The last time I met Theodore Roosevelt was but
a little while before his death. A small party of
us, Editor Moore, of Pittsburgh, and Mr. Riggs,
of the New York Central, at his invitation had a
jolly midday breakfast, extending far into the
afternoon. I never knew him happier or heartier.
His jocund spirit rarely failed him. He enjoyed
life and wasted no time on trivial worries,
hit-or-miss, the keynote to his thought.
The Dutch blood of Holland and the cavalier
blood of England mingled in his veins in fair
proportion. He was especially proud of the uncle, his
mother's brother, the Southern admiral, head of the
Confederate naval organization in Europe, who
had fitted out the rebel cruisers and sent them to
sea. And well he might be, for a nobler American
never lived. At the close of the War of Sections
Admiral Bullock had in his possession some half
million dollars of Confederate money. Instead of
appropriating this to his own use, as without
remark or hindrance he might have done, he turned
it over to the Government of the United States,
and died a poor man.
The inconsistencies and quarrels in which Theodore
Roosevelt was now and again involved were
largely temperamental. His mind was of that
order which is prone to believe what it wants to
believe. He did not take much time to think. He
leaped at conclusions, and from his premise his
conclusion was usually sound. His tastes were
domestic, his pastime, when not at his books, field
He was not what might be called convivial,
though fond of good company - very little wine
affecting him - so that a certain self-control became
second nature to him.
To be sure, he had no conscientious or doctrinal
scruples about a third term. He had found the
White House a congenial abode, had accepted the
literal theory that his election in 1908 would not
imply a third but a second term, and he wanted to
remain. In point of fact I have an impression that,
barring Jackson and Polk, most of those who have
got there were loath to give it up. We know that
Grant was, and I am sure that Cleveland was.
We owe a great debt to Washington, because if a
third why not a fourth term? And then life tenure
after the manner of the Cæsars and Cromwells of
history, and especially the Latin-Americans - Bolivar,
Rosas and Diaz?
Away back in 1873, after a dinner, Mr. Blaine
took me into his den and told me that it was no
longer a surmise but a fact that the group about
General Grant, who had just been reëlected by an
overwhelming majority, was maneuvering for a
third term. To me this was startling, incredible.
Returning to my hotel I saw a light still burning
in the room of Senator Morton, of Indiana, and
rapping at the door I was bidden to enter. Without
mentioning how it had reached me, I put the
proposition to him. "Certainly," he said, "it is
The next day, in a letter to the Courier-Journal,
I reduced what I had heard to writing. Reading
this over it seemed so sensational that I added a
closing paragraph, meant to qualify what I had
written and to imply that I had not gone quite daft.
"These things," I wrote, "may sound queer to the
ear of the country. They may have visited me in
my dreams; they may, indeed, have come to me
betwixt the sherry and the champagne, but nevertheless
I do aver that they are buzzing about here in
the minds of many very serious and not unimportant
Never was a well-intentioned scribe so berated
and ridiculed as I, never a simple news gatherer so
discredited. Democratic and Republican newspapers
vied with one another which could say crossest
things and laugh loudest. One sentence especially
caught the newspaper risibilities of the time, and it
was many a year before the phrase "between the
sherry and the champagne" ceased to pursue me.
That any patriotic American, twice elevated to the
presidency, could want a third term, could have the
hardihood to seek one was inconceivable. My letter
was an insult to General Grant and proof of
my own lack of intelligence and restraint. They
lammed me, laughed at me, good and strong. On
each successive occasion of recurrence I have
encountered the same criticism.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-THIRD
THE ACTOR AND THE JOURNALIST - THE NEWSPAPER
AND THE STAGE - JOSEPH JEFFERSON - HIS
PERSONAL AND ARTISTIC CAREER - MODEST
CHARACTER AND RELIGIOUS BELIEF
THE journalist and the player have some
things in common. Each turns night into
day. I have known rather intimately all the
eminent English-speaking actors of my time from
Henry Irving and Charles Wyndham to Edwin
Booth and Joseph Jefferson, from Charlotte
Cushman to Helena Modjeska. No people are quite so
interesting as stage people.
During nearly fifty years my life and the life
of Joseph Jefferson ran close upon parallel lines.
He was eleven years my senior; but after the
desultory acquaintance of a man and a boy we came
together under circumstances which obliterated the
disparity of age and established between us a lasting
bond of affection. His wife, Margaret, had
died, and he was passing through Washington with
the little brood of children she had left him.
It made the saddest spectacle I had ever seen.
As I recall it after more than sixty years, the scene
of silent grief, of unutterable helplessness, has still
a haunting power over me, the oldest lad not eight
years of age, the youngest a girl baby in arms, the
young father aghast before the sudden tragedy
which had come upon him. There must have been
something in my sympathy which drew him toward
me, for on his return a few months later he sought
me out and we fell into the easy intercourse of
I was recovering from an illness, and every day
he would come and read by my bedside. I had not
then lost the action of one of my hands, putting an
end to a course of musical study I had hoped to
develop into a career. He was infinitely fond of
music and sufficiently familiar with the old masters
to understand and enjoy them. He was an artist
through and through, possessing a sweet nor yet an
uncultivated voice - a blend between a low tenor
and a high baritone - I was almost about to write
a "contralto," it was so soft and liquid. Its tones
in speech retained to the last their charm. Who
that heard them shall ever forget them?
Early in 1861 my friend Jefferson came to me
and said: "There is going to be a war of the
sections. I am not a warrior. I am neither a
Northerner nor a Southerner. I cannot bring myself to
engage in bloodshed, or to take sides. I have near
and dear ones North and South. I am going away
and I shall stay away until the storm blows over.
It may seem to you unpatriotic, and it is, I know,
unheroic. I am not a hero; I am, I hope, an artist.
My world is the world of art, and I must be true
to that; it is my patriotism, my religion. I can do
no manner of good here, and I am going away."
At that moment statesmen were hopefully estimating
the chances of a peaceful adjustment and
solution of the sectional controversy. With the
prophet instinct of the artist he knew better.
Though at no time taking an active interest in politics
or giving expression to party bias of any kind,
his personal associations led him into a familiar
knowledge of the trend of political opinion and the
portent of public affairs, and I can truly say that
during the fifty years that passed thereafter I never
discussed any topic of current interest or moment
with him that he did not throw upon it the side
lights of a luminous understanding, and at the same
time an impartial and intelligent judgment.
His mind was both reflective and radiating. His
humor though perennial was subdued; his wit keen
and spontaneous, never acrid or wounding. His
speech abounded with unconscious epigram. He
had his beliefs and stood by them; but he was never
aggressive. Cleaner speech never fell from the lips
of man. I never heard him use a profanity. We
once agreed between ourselves to draw a line across
the salacious stories so much in vogue during our
day; the wit must exceed the dirt; where the dirt
exceeded the wit we would none of it.
He was a singularly self-respecting man; genuinely
a modest man. The actor is supposed to be
so familiar with the
publc as to be proof against
surprises. Before his audience he must be master
of himself, holding the situation and his art by the
firmest grip. He must simulate, not experience
emotion, the effect referable to the seeming, never
to the actuality involving the realization.
Mr. Jefferson held to this doctrine and applied
it rigorously. On a certain occasion he was playing
Caleb Plummer. In the scene between the old toymaker
and his blind daughter, when the father discovers
the dreadful result of his dissimulation - an
awkward hitch; and, the climax quite thwarted, the
curtain came down. I was standing at the wings.
"Did you see that?" he said as he brushed by me,
going to his dressing-room.
"No," said I, following him. "What was it?"
He turned, his eyes still wet and his voice choked.
"I broke down," said he; "completely broke down.
I turned away from the audience to recover myself.
But I failed and had the curtain rung."
The scene had been spoiled because the actor had
been overcome by a sudden flood of real feeling,
whereas he was to render by his art the feeling of a
fictitious character and so to communicate this to
his audience. Caleb's cue was tears, but not
On another occasion I saw his self-possession
tried in a different way. We were dining with a
gentleman who had overpartaken of his own
hospitality. Mr. Murat Halstead was of the company.
There was also a German of distinction, whose
knowledge of English was limited. The Rip Van
Winkle craze was at its height. After sufficiently
impressing the German with the rare opportunity
he was having in meeting a man so famous as Mr.
Jefferson, our host, encouraged by Mr. Halstead,
and I am afraid not discouraged by me, began to
urge Mr. Jefferson to give us, as he said, "a touch
of his mettle," and failing to draw the great comedian
out he undertook himself to give a few descriptive
passages from the drama which was carrying
the town by storm. Poor Jefferson! He sat
like an awkward boy, helpless and blushing, the
German wholly unconscious of the fun or even
comprehending just what was happening - Halstead
and I maliciously, mercilessly enjoying it.
I never heard Mr. Jefferson make a recitation
or, except in the singing of a song before his voice
began to break, make himself a part of any private
entertainment other than that of a spectator and
He shrank from personal displays of every sort.
Even in his younger days he rarely "gagged," or
interpolated, upon the stage. Yet he did not lack
for a ready wit. One time during the final act of
Rip Van Winkle, a young countryman in the gallery
was so carried away that he quite lost his bearings
and seemed to be about to climb over the outer
railing. The audience, spellbound by the actor,
nevertheless saw the rustic, and its attention was
being divided between the two when Jefferson
reached that point in the action of the piece where
Rip is amazed by the docility of his wife under the
ill usage of her second husband. He took in the
situation at a glance.
Casting his eye directly upon the youth in the
gallery, he uttered the lines as if addressing them
directly to him, "Well, I would never have believed
it if I had not seen it."
The poor fellow, startled, drew back from his
perilous position, and the audience broke into a
storm of applause.
Joseph Jefferson was a Swedenborgian in his
religious belief. At one time too extreme a belief in
spiritualism threatened to cloud his sound, wholesome
understanding. As he grew older and happier
and passed out from the shadow of his early
tragedy he fell away from the more sinister
influence the supernatural had attained over his
imagination. One time in Washington I had him to
breakfast to meet the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice
Matthews and Mr. Carlisle, the newly-elected
Speaker of the House. It was a rainy Sunday, and
it was in my mind to warn him that our company
was made up of hard-headed lawyers not apt to be
impressed by fairy tales and ghost stories, and to
suggest that he cut the spiritualism in case the
conversation fell, as was likely, into the speculative.
I forgot, or something hindered, and, sure enough,
the question of second sight and mind reading came
up, and I said to myself: "Lord, now we'll have it."
But it was my kinsman, Stanley Matthews, who
led off with a clairvoyant experience in his law
practice. I began to be reassured. Mr. Carlisle
followed with a most mathematical account of some
hobgoblins he had encountered in his law practice.
Finally the Chief Justice, Mr. Waite, related a
series of incidents so fantastic and incredible, yet
detailed with the precision and lucidity of a master
of plain statement, as fairly to stagger the most
believing ghostseer. Then I said to myself again:
"Let her go, Joe, no matter what you tell now you
will fall below the standard set by these professional
perfecters of pure reason, and are safe to do your
best, or your worst." I think he held his own,
Joseph Jefferson came to his artistic spurs slowly
but surely, being nearly thirty years of age when
he got his chance, and therefore wholly equal to it
and prepared for it.
William E. Burton stood and had stood for
twenty-five years the recognized, the reigning king
of comedy in America. He was a master of his
craft as well as a leader in society and letters. To
look at him when he came upon the stage was to
laugh; yet he commanded tears almost as readily
as laughter. In New York City particularly he
ruled the roost, and could and did do that which
had cost another his place. He began to take too
many liberties with the public favor and, truth to
say, was beginning to be both coarse and careless.
People were growing restive under ministrations
which were at times little less than impositions upon
their forbearance. They wanted something if possible
as strong, but more refined, and in the person
of the leading comedy man of Laura Keene's
company, a young actor by the name of Jefferson,
they got it.
Both Mr. Sothern and Mr. Jefferson have told
the story of Tom Taylor's extravaganza, "Our
American Cousin," in which the one as Dundreary,
the other as Asa Trenchard, rose to almost instant
popularity and fame. I shall not repeat it except
to say that Jefferson's Asa Trenchard was unlike
any other the English or American stage has
known. He played the raw Yankee boy, not in
low comedy at all, but made him innocent and
ignorant as a well-born Green Mountain lad might be,
never a bumpkin; and in the scene when Asa tells
his sweetheart the bear story and whilst pretending
to light his cigar burns the will, he left not a dry
eye in the house.
New York had never witnessed, never divined
anything in pathos and humor so exquisite. Burton
and his friends struggled for a season, but
Jefferson completely knocked them out. Even had
Burton lived, and had there been no diverting war
of sections to drown all else, Jefferson would have
come to his growth and taken his place as the first
serio-comic actor of his time.
Rip Van Winkle was an evolution. Jefferson's
half-brother, Charles Burke, had put together a
sketchy melodrama in two acts and had played in
it, was playing in it when he died. After his
Trenchard, Jefferson turned himself loose in all
sorts of parts, from Diggory to Mazeppa, a famous
burlesque, which he did to a turn, imitating the
mock heroics of the feminine horse marines, so popular
in the equestrian drama of the period, Adah
Isaacs Menken, the beautiful and ill-fated, at their
head. Then he produced a version of Nicholas
Nickleby, in which his Newman Noggs took a more
ambitious flight. These, however, were but the
avant-couriers of the immortal Rip.
Charles Burke's piece held close to the lines of
Irving's legend. When the vagabond returns
from the mountains after the twenty years' sleep
Gretchen is dead. The apex is reached when the
old man, sitting dazed at a table in front of the
tavern in the village of Falling Water, asks after
Derrick Van Beekman and Nick Vedder and other
of his cronies. At last, half twinkle of humor and
half glimmer of dread, he gets himself to the point
of asking after Dame Van Winkle, and is told that
she has been dead these ten years. Then like a
flash came that wonderful Jeffersonian change of
facial expression, and as the white head drops upon
the arms stretched before him on the table he says:
"Well, she led me a hard life, a hard life, but she
was the wife of my bosom, she was
I did not see the revised, or rather the
newly-created and written, Rip Van Winkle until Mr.
Jefferson brought it to America and was playing
it at Niblo's Garden in New York. Between himself
and Dion Boucicault a drama carrying all the
possibilities, all the lights and shadows of his genius
had been constructed. In the first act he sang a
drinking song to a wing accompaniment delightfully,
adding much to the tone and color of the situation.
The exact reversal of the Lear suggestion
in the last act was an inspiration, his own and not
Boucicault's. The weird scene in the mountains
fell in admirably with a certain weird note in the
Jefferson genius, and supplied the needed element
I always thought it a good acting play under
any circumstances, but, in his hands, matchless. He
thought himself that the piece, as a piece, and
regardless of his own acting, deserved better of the
critics than they were always willing to give it.
Assuredly, no drama that ever was written, as he
played it, ever took such a hold upon the public.
He rendered it to three generations, and to a rising,
not a falling, popularity, drawing to the very last
Because of this unexampled run he was sometimes
described by unthinking people as a one-part
actor. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
He possessed uncommon versatility. That after
twenty years of the new Rip Van Winkle, when he
was past fifty years of age, he could come back to
such parts as Caleb Plummer and Acres is proof
of this. He need not have done so at all. Carrying
a pension roll of dependents aggregating fifteen
or twenty thousand a year for more than a quarter
of a century, Rip would still have sufficed his
requirements. It was his love for his art that took
him to The Cricket and The Rivals, and at no
inconsiderable cost to himself.
I have heard ill-natured persons, some of them
envious actors, say that he did nothing for the stage.
He certainly did not make many contributions
to its upholstery. He was in no position to
emulate Sir Henry Irving in forcing and directing the
public taste. But he did in America quite as much
as Sir Charles Wyndham and Sir Henry Irving in
England to elevate the personality, the social and
intellectual standing of the actor and the stage,
effecting in a lifetime a revolution in the attitude
of the people and the clergy of both countries to
the theater and all things in it. This was surely
enough for one man in any craft or country.
He was always a good stage speaker. Late in
life he began to speak elsewhere, and finally to
lecture. His success pleased him immensely. The
night of the Sunday afternoon charity for the
Newsboys' Home in Louisville, when the promise
of a talk from him had filled the house to
overflowing, he was like a boy who had come off from a
college occasion with all the honors. Indeed, the
degrees of Harvard and Yale, which had reached
him both unexpectedly and unsolicited, gave him a
pleasure quite apart from the vanity they might
have gratified in another; he regarded them, and
justly, as the recognition at once of his profession
and of his personal character.
I never knew a man whose moral sensibilities
were more acute. He loved the respectable. He
detested the unclean. He was just as attractive off
the stage as upon it, because he was as unaffected
and real in his personality as he was sincere and
conscientious in his public representations, his
lovely nature showing through his art in spite of
him. His purpose was to fill the scene and forget
The English newspapers accompanied the tidings
of Mr. Jefferson's death with rather sparing
estimates of his eminence and his genius, though
his success in London, where he was well known,
had been unequivocal. Indeed, himself, alone with
Edwin Booth and Mary Anderson, may be said to
complete the list of those Americans who have
attained any real recognition in the British metropolis.
The Times spoke of him as "an able if not a
great actor." If Joseph Jefferson was not a great
actor I should like some competent person to tell
me what actor of our time could be so described.
Two or three of the journals of Paris referred
to him as "the American Coquelin." It had been
apter to describe Coquelin as the French Jefferson.
I never saw Frederic Lemaître. But, him apart,
I have seen all the eccentric comedians, the
character actors of the last fifty years, and, in spell
power, in precision and deftness of touch, in acute,
penetrating, all-embracing and all-embodying
intelligence and grasp, I should place Joseph Jefferson
easily at their head.
Shakespeare was his Bible. The stage had been
his cradle. He continued all his days a student.
In him met the meditative and the observing faculties.
In his love of fishing, his love of painting,
his love of music we see the brooding, contemplative
spirit joined to the alert in mental force and
foresight when he addressed himself to the activities
and the objectives of the theater. He was a thorough
stage manager, skillful, patient and upright.
His company was his family. He was not gentler
with the children and grandchildren he ultimately
drew about him than he had been with the young
men and young women who had preceded them in
his employment and instruction.
He was nowise ashamed of his calling. On the
contrary, he was proud of it. His mother had
lived and died an actress. He preferred that his
progeny should follow in the footsteps of their
forebears even as he had done. It is beside the
purpose to inquire, as was often done, what might
have happened had he undertaken the highest
flights of tragedy; one might as well discuss the
relation of a Dickens to a Shakespeare. Sir Henry
Irving and Sir Charles Wyndham in England, M.
Coquelin in France, his contemporaries - each had
métier. They were perfect in their art and
unalike in their art. No comparison between them
can be justly drawn. I was witness to the rise of
all three of them, and have followed them in their
greatest parts throughout their most brilliant and
eminent and successful careers, and can say of each
as of Mr. Jefferson:
More than King can no man be - Whether he
rule in Cyprus or in Dreams.
There shall be Kings of Thule after kings are gone.
The actor dies and leaves no copy; his deeds are
writ in water, only his name survives upon tradition's
tongue, and yet, from Betterton and Garrick
to Irving, from Macklin and Quin to Wyndham
and Jefferson, how few!
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH
THE WRITING OF MEMOIRS - SOME CHARACTERISTICS
OF CARL SCHURZ - SAM BOWLES - HORACE
WHITE AND THE MUGWUMPS
TALLEYRAND was so impressed by the
world-compelling character of the memoirs
he had prepared for posterity that he fixed an
interdict of more than fifty years upon the date set
for their publication, and when at last the bulky
tomes made their appearance, they excited no
especial interest - certainly created no sensation - and
lie for the most part dusty upon the shelves of the
libraries that contain them. For a different reason,
Henry Ward Beecher put a time limit upon the
volume, or volumes, which will tell us, among other
things, all about one of the greatest scandals of
modern times; and yet how few people now recall
it or care anything about the dramatis personæ and
the actual facts! Metternich, next after Napoleon
and Talleyrand, was an important figure in a stirring
epoch. He, too, indicted an autobiography,
which is equally neglected among the books that
are sometimes quoted and extolled, but rarely read.
Rousseau, the half insane, and Barras, the wholly
vicious, have twenty readers where Talleyrand and
Metternich have one.
From this point of view, the writing of memoirs,
excepting those of the trivial French School or
gossiping letters and diaries of the Pepys-Walpole
variety, would seem an unprofitable task for a great
man's undertaking. Boswell certainly did for
Johnson what the thunderous old doctor could not
have done for himself. Nevertheless, from the days
of Cæsar to the days of Sherman and Lee, the
captains of military and senatorial and literary
industry have regaled themselves, if they have not edified
the public, by the narration of their own stories;
and, I dare say, to the end of time, interest in one's
self, and the mortal desire to linger yet a little
longer on the scene - now and again, as in the case
of General Grant, the assurance of honorable
remuneration making needful provision for others - will
move those who have cut some figure in the world
to follow the wandering Celt in the wistful hope -
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw.
Something like this occurs to me upon a reperusal
of the unfinished memoirs of my old and dear
friend, Carl Schurz. Assuredly few men had better
warrant for writing about themselves or a livelier
tale to tell than the famous German-American,
who died leaving that tale unfinished. No man in
life was more misunderstood and maligned. There
was nothing either erratic or conceited about
Schurz, nor was he more pragmatic than is common
to the possessor of positive opinions along with
the power to make their expression effectual.
The actual facts of his public life do not anywhere
show that his politics shifted with his own
interests. On the contrary, he was singularly
regardless of his interests where his convictions
interposed. Though an alien, and always an alien,
he possessed none of the shifty traits of the soldier
of fortune. Never in his career did he crook the
pregnant hinges of the knee before any worldly
throne of grace or flatter any mob that place might
follow fawning. His great talents had only to lend
themselves to party uses to get their full requital.
He refused them equally to Grant in the White
House and the multitude in Missouri, going his own
gait, which could be called erratic only by the
conventional, to whom regularity is everything and
Schurz was first of all and above all an orator.
His achievements on the platform and in the
Senate were undeniable. He was unsurpassed in
debate. He had no need to exploit himself. The
single chapter in his life on which light was desirable
was the military episode. The cruel and false
saying, "I fight mit Sigel und runs mit Schurz,"
obviously the offspring of malignity, did mislead
many people, reënforced by the knowledge that
Schurz was not an educated soldier. How
thoroughly he disposes of this calumny his memoirs
attest. Fuller, more convincing vindication could
not be asked of any man; albeit by those familiar
with the man himself it could not be doubted that
he had both courage and aptitude for military
A philosopher and an artist, he was drawn by
circumstance into the vortex of affairs. Except
for the stirring events of 1848, he might have lived
and died a professor at Bonn or Heidelberg. If
he had pursued his musical studies at Leipsic he
must have become a master of the piano keyboard.
As it was, he played Schumann and Chopin creditably.
The rescue of Kinkel, the flight from the
fatherland, the mild Bohemianizing in Paris and
London awakened within him the spirit of action
rather than of adventure.
There was nothing of the Dalgetty about him;
too reflective and too accomplished. His early
marriage attests a domestic trend, from which he never
departed; though an idealist in his public aspirations
and aims he was a sentimentalist in his home
life and affections. Genial in temperament and
disposition, his personal habit was moderation
He was a German. Never did a man live so long
in a foreign country and take on so few of its
thoughts and ways. He threw himself into the
anti-slavery movement upon the crest of the wave;
the flowing sea carried him quickly from one
distinction to another; the ebb tide, which found him
in the Senate of the United States, revealed to his
startled senses the creeping, crawling things
beneath the surface; partyism rampant, tyrannous
and corrupt; a self-willed soldier in the White
House; a Blaine, a Butler and a Garfield leading
the Representatives, a Cameron and a Conkling
leading the Senate; single-minded disinterestedness,
pure unadulterated conviction, nowhere.
Jobs and jobbing flourished on every side. An
impossible scheme of reconstruction was trailing its
slow, putrescent length along. The revenue service
was thick with thieves, the committees of Congress
were packed with mercenaries. Money-making in
high places had become the order of the day. Was
it for this that oceans of patriotism, of treasure and
of blood had been poured out? Was it for this that
he had fought with tongue and pen and sword?
There was Sumner - the great Sumner - who had
quarreled with Grant and Fish, to keep him
company and urge him on. There was the Tribune,
the puissant Tribune - two of them, one in New
York and the other in Chicago - to give him countenance.
There was need of liberalizing and loosening
things in Missouri, for which he sat in the
Senate - they could not go on forever half the best
elements in the State disfranchised.
Thus the Liberal Movement of 1872.
Schurz went to Cincinnati elate with hope. He
was an idealist - not quite yet a philosopher. He
had his friends about him. Sam Bowles - the first
newspaper politician of his day, with none of the
handicaps carried by Raymond and Forney - a man
keen of insight and foresight, fertile of resources,
and not afraid - stood foremost among them. Next
came Horace White. Doric in his simplicity like a
marble shaft, and to the outer eye as cold as marble,
but below a man of feeling, conviction and tenacity,
a working journalist and a doughty doctrinaire. A
little group of such men formed itself about Schurz
- then only forty-three years old - to what end?
Why, Greeley, Horace Greeley, the bellwether of
abolitionism, the king bee of protectionism, the man
of fads and isms and the famous "old white hat."
To some of us it was laughable. To Schurz it
was tragical. A bridge had to be constructed for
him to pass - for retrace his steps he could not -
and, as it were, blindfolded, he had to be backed
upon this like a mule aboard a train of cars. I
sometimes wonder what might have happened if
Schurz had then and there resigned his seat in the
Senate, got his brood together and returned to
Germany. I dare say he would have been welcomed
Certainly there was no lodgment for him thenceforward
in American politics. The exigencies of
1876-77 made him a provisional place in the Hayes
Administration; but, precisely as the Democrats of
Missouri could put such a man to no use, the
Republicans at large could find no use for him. He
seemed a bull in a china shop to the political
organization he honored with a preference wholly
intellectual, and having no stomach for either extreme,
he became a Mugwump.
He was a German. He was an artist. By nature
a doctrinaire, he had become a philosopher.
He could never wholly adjust himself to his
environment. He lectured Lincoln, and Lincoln,
perceiving his earnest truthfulness and genuine
qualities, forgave him his impertinence, nor ceased to
regard him with the enduring affection one might
have for an ardent, aspiring and lovable boy. He
was repellant to Grant, who could not and perhaps
did not desire to understand him. . . . To him the
Southerners were always the red-faced, swashbuckling
slave-drivers he had fancied and pictured
them in the days of his abolition oratory. More
and more he lived in a rut of his own fancies, wise
in books and counsels, gentle in his relations with
the few who enjoyed his confidence; to the last a
most captivating personality.
Though fastidious, Schurz was not intolerant.
Yet he was hard to convince - tenacious of his
opinions - courteous but insistent in debate. He was a
German; a German Herr Doktor of Music, of
Letters and of Common Law. During an intimacy
of more than thirty years we scarcely ever wholly
agreed about any public matter; differing about
even the civil service and the tariff. But I admired
him hugely and loved him heartily.
I had once a rather amusing encounter with him.
There was a dinner at Delmonico's, from whose
program of post-prandial oratory I had purposely
caused my own name to be omitted. Indeed, I had
had with a lady a wager I very much wished to win
that I would not speak. General Grant and I went
in together, and during the repast he said that the
only five human beings in the world whom he
detested were actually here at table.
Of course, Schurz was one of these. He was the
last on the list of speakers and, curiously enough -
the occasion being the consideration of certain ways
and means for the development of the South - and
many leading Southerners present - he composed
his speech out of an editorial tour de force he was
making in the Evening Post on The Homicidal
Side of Southern Life. Before he had proceeded
half through General Grant, who knew of my
wager, said, "You'll lose your bet," and, it being
one o'clock in the morning, I thought so too, and
did not care whether I won or lost it. When he
finished, the call on me was spontaneous and
universal. "Now give it to him good," said General
And I did; I declared - the reporters were long
since gone - that there had not been a man killed
amiss in Kentucky since the war; that where one
had been killed two should have been; and, amid
roars of laughter which gave me time to frame
some fresh absurdity, I delivered a prose pæan to
Nobody seemed more pleased than Schurz himself,
and as we came away - General Grant having
disappeared - he put his arm about me like a schoolboy
and said: "Well, well, I had no idea you were
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH
EVERY TRADE HAS ITS TRICKS - I PLAY ONE ON
WILLIAM MC KINLEY - FAR AWAY PARTY
POLITICS AND POLITICAL ISSUES
THERE are tricks in every trade. The tariff
being the paramount issue of the day, I
received a tempting money offer from Philadelphia to
present my side of the question, but when the time
fixed was about to arrive I found myself billed for
a debate with no less an adversary than William
McKinley, protectionist leader in the Lower House
of Congress. We were the best of friends and I
much objected to a joint meeting. The parties,
however, would take no denial, and it was arranged
that we should be given alternate dates. Then it
appeared that the designated thesis read: "Which
political party offers for the workingman the best
solution of the tariff problem?"
Here was a poser. It required special preparation,
for which I had not the leisure. I wanted the
stipend, but was not willing - scarcely able - to pay
so much for it. I was about to throw the engagement
over when a lucky thought struck me. I had
a cast-off lecture entitled Money and Morals. It
had been rather popular. Why might I not put
a head and tail to this - a foreword and a few
words in conclusion - and make it meet the purpose
and serve the occasion?
When the evening arrived there was a great audience.
Half of the people had come to applaud, the
other half to antagonize. I was received, however,
with what seemed a united acclaim. When the
cheering had ceased, with the blandest air I began:
"In that chapter of the history of Ireland which
was reserved for the consideration of snakes, the
historian, true to the solecism as well as the brevity
of Irish wit, informs us that 'there are no snakes in
"I am afraid that on the present occasion I shall
have to emulate this flight of the Celtic imagination.
I find myself billed to speak from a Democratic
standpoint as to which party offers the best practical
means for the benefit of the workingmen of the
country. If I am to discharge with fidelity the duty
thus assigned me, I must begin by repudiating the
text in toto, because the Democratic Party recognizes
no political agency for one class which is not
equally open to all classes. The bulwark and
belltower of its faith, the source and resource of its
strength are laid in the declaration, 'Freedom for
all, special privileges to none,' which applied to
practical affairs would deny to self-styled workingmen,
organized into a coöperative society, any
political means not enjoyed by every other organized
cooperative society, and by each and every
citizen, individually, to himself and his heirs and
"But in a country like ours, what right has any
body of men to get together and, labelling themselves
workingmen, to talk about political means
and practical ends exclusive to themselves? Who
among us has the single right to claim for himself,
and the likes of him, the divine title of a workingman?
We are all workingmen, the earnest plodding
scholar in his library, surrounded by the
luxury and comfort which his learning and his
labor have earned for him, no less than the poor
collier in the mine, with darkness and squalor closing
him round about, and want maybe staring him
in the face, yet - if he be a true man - with a little
bird singing ever in his heart the song of hope and
cheer which cradled the genius of Stephenson and
Arkwright and the long procession of inventors,
lowly born, to whom the world owes the glorious
achievements of this, the greatest of the centuries.
We are all workingmen - the banker, the minister,
the lawyer, the doctor - toiling from day to day,
and it may be we are well paid for our toil, to represent
and to minister to the wants of the time no less
than the farmer and the farmer's boy, rising with
the lark to drive the team afield, and to dally with
land so rich it needs to be but tickled with a hoe to
laugh a harvest.
"Having somewhat of an audacious fancy, I have
sometimes in moments of exuberance ventured upon
the conceit that our Jupiter Tonans, the American
editor, seated upon his three-legged throne and
enveloped by the majesty and the mystery of his
pretentious 'we,' is a workingman no less than the
poor reporter, who year in and year out braves the
perils of the midnight rounds through the slums of
the city, yea in the more perilous temptations of
the town, yet carries with him into the darkest dens
the love of work, the hope of reward and the fear
only of dishonor.
"Why, the poor officeseeker at Washington
begging a bit of that pie, which, having got his own
slice, a cruel, hard-hearted President would eliminate
from the bill of fare, he likewise is a workingman,
and I can tell you a very hard-working man
with a tough job of work, and were better breaking
rock upon a turnpike in Dixie or splitting rails on
a quarter section out in the wild and woolly West.
"It is true that, as stated on the program, I am a
Democrat - as Artemus Ward once said of the
horses in his panorama, I can conceal it no longer
- at least I am as good a Democrat as they have
nowadays. But first of all, I am an American, and
in America every man who is not a policeman or a
dude is a workingman. So, by your leave, my
friends, instead of sticking very closely to the text,
and treating it from a purely party point of view,
I propose to take a ramble through the highways
and byways of life and thought in our beloved
country and to cast a balance if I can from an American
point of view.
"I want to say in the beginning that no party can
save any man or any set of men from the daily toil
by which all of us live and move and have our
Then I worked in my old lecture.
It went like hot cakes. When next I met William
McKinley he said jocosely: "You are a mean
man, Henry Watterson!"
"How so?" I asked.
"I accepted the invitation to answer you because
I wanted and needed the money. Of course I had
no time to prepare a special address. My idea was
to make my fee by ripping you up the back. But
when I read the verbatim report which had been
prepared for me there was not a word with which I
could take issue, and that completely threw me out."
Then I told him how it had happened and we had
a hearty laugh. He was the most lovable of men.
That such a man should have fallen a victim to the
blow of an assassin defies explanation, as did the
murders of Lincoln and Garfield, like McKinley,
amiable, kindly men giving never cause of personal
The murderer is past finding out. In one way
and another I fancy that I am well acquainted with
the assassins of history. Of those who slew Cæsar
I learned in my schooldays, and between Ravaillac,
who did the business for Henry of Navarre, and
Booth and Guiteau, my familiar knowledge seems
almost at first hand. One night at Chamberlin's,
in Washington, George Corkhill, the district
attorney who was prosecuting the murderer of
Garfield, said to me: "You will never fully understand
this case until you have sat by me through one day's
proceedings in court." Next day I did this.
Never have I passed five hours in a theater so
filled with thrills. I occupied a seat betwixt
Corkhill and Scoville, Guiteau's brother-in-law and
voluntary attorney. I say "voluntary" because from
the first Guiteau rejected him and vilely abused
him, vociferously insisting upon being his own
From the moment Guiteau entered the trial room
it was a theatrical extravaganza. He was in irons,
sandwiched between two deputy sheriffs, came in
shouting like a madman, and began at once railing
at the judge, the jury and the audience. A very
necessary rule had been established that when he
interposed, whatever was being said or done
automatically stopped. Then, when he ceased, the case
went on again as if nothing had happened.
Only Scoville intervened between me and
Guiteau and I had an excellent opportunity to see,
hear and size him up. In visage and voice he was
the meanest creature I have, either in life or in
dreams, encountered. He had the face and intonations
of a demon. Everything about him was loathsome.
I cannot doubt that his criminal colleagues
of history were of the same description.
Charlotte Corday was surely a lunatic. Wilkes
Booth I knew. He was drunk, had been drunk all
that winter, completely muddled and perverted by
brandy, the inheritant of mad blood. Czolgosz, the
slayer of McKinley, and the assassin of the Empress
Elizabeth were clearly insane.
McKinley and Protectionism, Cleveland, Carlisle
and Free Trade - how far away they seem!
With the passing of the old issues that divided
parties new issues have come upon the scene. The
alignment of the future will turn upon these. But
underlying all issues of all time are fundamental
ideas which live forever and aye, and may not be
forgotten or ignored.
It used to be claimed by the followers of Jefferson
that Democracy was a fixed quantity, rising out
of the bedrock of the Constitution, while Federalism,
Whiggism and Republicanism were but the
chimeras of some prevailing fancy drawing their
sustenance rather from temporizing expediency and
current sentiment than from basic principles and
profound conviction. To make haste slowly, to look
before leaping, to take counsel of experience - were
Democratic axioms. Thus the fathers of Democracy,
while fully conceiving the imperfections of
government and meeting as events required the
need alike of movement and reform, put the visionary
and experimental behind them to aim at things
visible, attainable, tangible, the written Constitution
the one safe precedent, the morning star and the
evening star of their faith and hope.
What havoc the parties and the politicians have
made of all these lofty pretenses! Where must an
old-line Democrat go to find himself? Two issues,
however, have come upon the scene which for the
time being are paramount and which seem organic.
They are set for the determination of the twentieth
century: The sex question and the drink question.
I wonder if it be possible to consider them in a
catholic spirit from a philosophic standpoint. I can
truly say that the enactment of prohibition laws,
state or national, is personally nothing to me. I
long ago reached an age when the convivialism of
life ceased to cut any figure in the equation of my
desires and habits. It is the never-failing recourse
of the intolerant, however, to ascribe an individual,
and, of course, an unworthy, motive to contrariwise
opinions, and I have not escaped that kind of
The challenge underlying prohibition is twofold:
Does prohibition prohibit, and, if it does, may it not
generate evils peculiarly its own?
The question hinges on what are called "sumptuary
laws"; that is, statutes regulating the food and
drink, the habits and apparel of the individual
citizen. This in turn harks back to the issue of paternal
government. That, once admitted and established,
becomes in time all-embracing.
Bigotry is a disease. The bigot pursuing his
narrow round is like the bedridden possessed by his
disordered fancy. Bigotry sees nothing but itself,
which it mistakes for wisdom and virtue. But
Bigotry begets hypocrisy. When this spreads over a
sufficient area and counts a voting majority it sends
its agents abroad, and thus we acquire canting
apostles and legislators at once corrupt and
They are now largely in evidence in the national
capital and in the various state capitals, where the
poor-dog, professional politicians most do congregate
and disport themselves.
The worst of it is that there seems nowhere any
popular realization - certainly any popular outcry.
Do the people grow degenerate? Are they willfully
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH
A LIBEL ON MR. CLEVELAND - HIS FONDNESS FOR
CARDS - SOME POKER STORIES - THE "SENATE
GAME" - TOM OCHILTREE, SENATOR ALLISON AND
NOT long after Mr. Cleveland's marriage, being
in Washington, I made a box party embracing
Mrs. Cleveland, and the Speaker and Mrs.
Carlisle, at one of the theaters where Madame
Modjeska was appearing. The ladies expressing a
desire to meet the famous Polish actress who had
so charmed them, I took them after the play behind
the scenes. Thereafter we returned to the White
House where supper was awaiting us, the President
amused and pleased when told of the agreeable
The next day there began to buzz reports to the
contrary. At first covert, they gained in volume
and currency until a distinguished Republican
party leader put his imprint upon them in an
after-dinner speech, going the length of saying the
newly-wedded Chief Magistrate had actually struck
his wife and forbidden me the Executive Mansion,
though I had been there every day during the week
Mr. Cleveland believed the matter too preposterous
to be given any credence and took it rather
stoically. But naturally Mrs. Cleveland was
shocked and outraged, and I made haste to stigmatize
it as a lie out of whole cloth. Yet though this
was sent away by the Associated Press and
published broadcast I have occasionally seen it referred
to by persons over eager to assail a man incapable
of an act of rudeness to a woman.
Mr. Cleveland was fond - not overfond - of
cards. He liked to play the noble game at, say, a
dollar limit - even once in a while for a little more
- but not much more. And as Dr. Norvin Green
was wont to observe of Commodore Vanderbilt, "he
held them exceeding close to his boo-som."
Mr. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy in his first
administration, equally rich and hospitable, had
often "the road gang," as a certain group, mainly
senators, was called, to dine, with the inevitable
after-dinner soirée or séance. I was, when in
Washington, invited to these parties. At one of
them I chanced to sit between the President and
Senator Don Cameron. Mr. Carlisle, at the time
Speaker of the House - who handled his cards like
a child and, as we all knew, couldn't play a little -
was seated on the opposite side of the table.
After a while Mr. Cameron and I began "bluffing"
the game - I recall that the limit was five
dollars - that is, raising and back-raising each other,
and whoever else happened to be in, without much
or any regard to the cards we held.
It chanced on a deal that I picked up a pat flush,
Mr. Cleveland a pat full. The Pennsylvania senator
and I went to the extreme, the President of
course willing enough for us to play his hand for
him. But the Speaker of the House persistently
stayed with us and could not be driven out.
When it came to a draw Senator Cameron drew
one card. Mr. Cleveland and I stood pat. But
Mr. Carlisle drew four cards. At length, after
much banter and betting, it reached a show-down
mirabile dictu, the Speaker held four kings!
"Take the money, Carlisle; take the money,"
exclaimed the President. "If ever I am President
again you shall be Secretary of the Treasury. But
don't you make that four-card draw too often."
He was President again, and Mr. Carlisle was
Secretary of the Treasury.
There had arisen a disagreeable misunderstanding
between General Schenck and myself during
the period when the general was Minister at the
Court of St. James. In consequence of this we did
not personally meet. One evening at Chamberlin's
years after, a party of us - mainly the Ohio
statesman's old colleagues in Congress - were playing
poker. He came in and joined us. Neither of us
knew the other even by sight and there was no
presentation when he sat in.
At length a direct play between the newcomer
and me arose. There was a moment's pause.
Obviously we were strangers. Then it was that
Senator Allison, of Iowa, who had in his goodness
of heart purposely brought about this very situation,
introduced us. The general reddened. I was
taken aback. But there was no escape, and carrying
it off amiably we shook hands. It is needless to
say that then and there we dropped our groundless
feud and remained the rest of his life very good
In this connection still another poker story. Sam
Bugg, the Nashville gambler, was on a Mississippi
steamer bound for New Orleans. He came upon a
party of Tennesseeans whom a famous card sharp
had inveigled and was flagrantly robbing. Sam
went away, obtained a pack of cards, and stacked
them to give the gambler four kings and the brightest
one of the Nashville boys four aces. After two
or three failures to bring the cold deck into action
Sam Bugg brushed a spider - an imaginary spider,
of course - from the gambler's coat collar, for an
instant distracting his attention - and in the
momentary confusion the stacked cards were duly dealt
and the betting began, the gambler confident and
aggressive. Finally, all the money up, the four
aces beat the four kings, and for a greater amount
than the Nashvillians had lost and the gambler had
won. Whereupon, without change of muscle, the
gambler drawled: "Mr. Bugg, the next time you
see a spider biting me let him bite on!"
I was told that the Senate Game had been played
during the War of Sections and directly after for
large sums. With the arrival of the rebel brigadiers
it was perforce reduced to a reasonable limit.
The "road gang" was not unknown at the White
House. Sometimes it assembled at private houses,
but its accustomed place of meeting was first
Welcker's and then Chamberlin's. I do not know
whether it continues to have abiding place or even
an existence. In spite of the reputation given me
by the pert paragraphers I have not been on a race
course or seen a horse race or played for other than
immaterial stakes for more than thirty years.
As an all-round newspaper writer and reporter
many sorts of people, high and low, little and big,
queer and commonplace, fell in my way; statesmen
and politicians, artists and athletes, circus riders
and prize fighters; the riffraff and the élite; the
professional and dilettante of the world polite and
I knew Mike Walsh and Tim Campbell. I knew
John Morrissey. I have seen Heenan - one of
the handsomest men of his time - and likewise Adah
Isaacs Menken, his inamorata - many said his wife
- who went into mourning for him and thereafter
hied away to Paris, where she lived under the
protection of Alexandre Dumas, the elder, who buried
her in Père Lachaise under a handsome monument
bearing two words, "Thou knowest," beneath a
carved hand pointed to heaven.
I did draw the line, however, at Cora Pearl and
Marcus Cicero Stanley.
The Parisian courtesan was at the zenith of her
extraordinary celebrity when I became a rustic
boulevardier. She could be seen everywhere and
on all occasions. Her gowns were the showiest, her
equipage the smartest; her entourage, loud though
it was and vulgar, yet in its way was undeniable.
She reigned for a long time the recognized queen
of the demi-monde. I have beheld her in her glory
on her throne - her two thrones, for she had two -
one on the south side of the river, the other at the
east end - not to mention the race course - surrounded
by a retinue of the disreputable. She did
not awaken in me the least curiosity, and I declined
many opportunities to meet her.
Marcus Cicero Stanley was sprung from an
aristocratic, even a distinguished, North Carolina
family. He came to New York and set up for a
swell. How he lived I never cared to find out,
though he was believed to be what the police call
a "fence." He seemed a cross between a "con"
and a "beat." Yet for a while he flourished at
Delmonico's, which he made his headquarters, and cut a
kind of dash with the unknowing. He was a handsome,
mannerly brute who knew bow to dress and
carry himself like a gentleman.
Later there came to New York another Southerner -
a Far Southerner of a very different quality
- who attracted no little attention. This was Tom
Ochiltree. He, too, was well born, his father an
eminent jurist of Texas; he, himself, a wit,
homme and raconteur. Travers once said: "We
have three professional liars in America - Tom
Ochiltree is one and George Alfred Townsend is
the other two."
The stories told of Tom would fill a book. He
denied none, however preposterous - was indeed
the author of many of the most amusing - of how,
when the old judge proposed to take him into law
partnership he caused to be painted an office sign:
Thomas P. Ochiltree and Father; of his reply to
General Grant, who had made him United States
Marshal of Texas, and later suggested that it
would be well for Tom to pay less attention to the
race course: "Why, Mr. President, all that turf
publicity relates to a horse named after me, not
to me," it being that the horse of the day had been
so called; and of General Grant's reply: "Nevertheless,
it would be well, Tom, for you to look in upon
Texas once in a while" - in short, of his many sayings
and exploits while a member of Congress from
the Galveston district; among the rest, that having
brought in a resolution tendering sympathy to the
German Empire on the death of Herr Laska, the
most advanced and distinguished of Radical Socialists,
which became for the moment a
Tom remarked, "Not that I care a damn about it,
except for the prominence it gives to Bismarck."
He lived when in Washington at Chamberlin's.
He and John Chamberlin were close friends. Once
when he was breakfasting with John a mutual
friend came in. He was in doubt what to order.
Tom suggested beefsteak and onions.
"But," objected the newcomer, "I am about to
call on some ladies, and the smell of onions on my
breath, you know!"
"Don't let that trouble you," said Tom; "you
have the steak and onions and when you get your
bill that will take your breath away!"
Under an unpromising exterior - a stocky build
and fiery red head - there glowed a brave, generous
and tender spirit. The man was a
He was a knight-errant. All women - especially
all good and discerning women who knew him and
who could intuitively read beneath that clumsy
personality his fine sense of respect - even of adoration
- loved Tom Ochiltree.
The equivocal celebrity he enjoyed was largely
fostered by himself, his stories mostly at his own
expense. His education had been but casual. But
he had a great deal of it and a varied assortment.
He knew everybody on both sides of the Atlantic,
his friends ranging from the Prince of Wales, afterward
Edward VII, Gladstone and Disraeli, Gambetta
and Thiers, to the bucks of the jockey clubs.
There were two of Tom - Tom the noisy on exhibition,
and Tom the courtier in society.
How he lived when out of office was the subject
of unflattering conjecture. Many thought him the
stipendiary of Mr. Mackay, the multimillionaire,
with whom he was intimate, who told me he could
never induce Tom to take money except for service
rendered. Among his familiars was Colonel North,
the English money magnate, who said the same
thing. He had a widowed sister in Texas to whom
he regularly sent an income sufficient for herself
and family. And when he died, to the surprise of
every one, he left his sister quite an accumulation.
He had never been wholly a spendthrift. Though
he lived well at Chamberlin's in Washington and
the Waldorf in New York he was careful of his
credit and his money. I dare say he was not
unfortunate in the stock market. He never married and
when he died, still a youngish man as modern ages
go, all sorts of stories were told of him, and the
space writers, having a congenial subject, disported
themselves voluminously. Inevitably most of their
stories were apocryphal.
I wonder shall we ever get any real truth out of
what is called history? There are so many sides to
it and such a confusing din of voices. How much
does old Sam Johnson owe of the fine figure he cuts
to Boswell, and, minus Boswell, how much would
be left of him? For nearly a century the Empress
Josephine was pictured as the effigy of the faithful
and suffering wife sacrificed upon the altar of
unprincipled and selfish ambition - lovelorn, deserted,
heartbroken. It was Napoleon, not Josephine,
except in her pride, who suffered. Who shall tell us
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, about Hamilton; about Burr; about Cæsar,
Caligula and Cleopatra? Did Washington, when
he was angry, swear like a trooper? What was the
matter with Nero?
One evening Edward King and I were dining in
the Champs Elysées when he said: "There is a
new coon - a literary coon - come to town. He is
a Scotchman and his name is Robert Louis Stevenson."
Then he told me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. At that moment the subject of our talk
was living in a kind of self-imposed penury not half
a mile away. Had we known this we could have
ended the poor fellow's struggle with his pride and
ambition then and there; have put him in the way
of sure work and plenty of it; perhaps have lengthened,
certainly have sweetened, his days, unless it
be true that he was one of the impossibles, as he
may easily be conceived to have been from reading
his wayward biography and voluminous
To a young Kentuckian, one of "my boys," was
given the opportunity to see the last of him and to
bury him in far-away Samoa, whither he had taken
himself for the final adventure and where he died,
having attained some measure of the dreams he had
cherished, and, let us hope, happy in the consciousness
of the achievement.
I rather think Stevenson should be placed at the
head of the latter-day fictionists. But fashions in
literature as in dress are ever changing. Washington
Irving was the first of our men of letters to obtain
foreign recognition. While the fires of hate
between Great Britain and America were still burning
he wrote kindly and elegantly of England and
the English, and was accepted on both sides of the
ocean. Taking his style from Addison and Goldsmith,
he emulated their charity and humor; he
went to Spain and in the same deft way he pictured
the then unknown byways of the land of dreams;
and coming home again he peopled the region of the
Hudson with the beings of legend and fancy which
are dear to us.
He became our national man of letters. He stood
quite at the head of our literature, giving the lie
to the scornful query, "Who reads an American
book?" As a pioneer he will always be considered;
as a simple and vivid writer of things familiar and
entertaining he will probably always be read; but
as an originator literary history will hardly place
him very high. There Bret Harte surely led him.
The Tales of the Argonauts as works of creative
fancy exceed the Sketches of Washington Irving
alike in wealth of color and humor, in pathos and
Some writers make an exception of the famous
Sleepy Hollow story. But they have in mind the
Rip Van Winkle of Jefferson and Boucicault, not
the rather attenuated story of Irving, which - as far
as the twenty years of sleep went - was borrowed
from an old German legend.
Mark Twain and Bret Harte, however, will
always be bracketed with Washington Irving. Of
the three I incline to the opinion that Mark Twain
did the broadest and strongest work. His
imagination had wider reach than Irving's. There is
nowhere, as there is in Harte, the suspicion either of
insincerity or of artificiality. Irving's humor was
the humor of Sir Roger de Coverley and the Vicar
of Wakefield. It is old English. Mark Twain's is
his own - American through and through to the
bone. I am not unmindful of Cooper and Hawthorne,
of Longfellow, of Lowell and of Poe, but
speak of Irving as the pioneer American man of
letters, and of Mark Twain and Bret Harte as
American literature's most conspicuous and original
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SEVENTH
THE PROFESSION OF JOURNALISM - NEWSPAPERS AND
EDITORS IN AMERICA - BENNETT, GREELEY AND
RAYMOND - FORNEY AND DANA - THE EDUCATION
OF A JOURNALIST.
THE American newspaper has had, even in
my time, three separate and distinct epochs;
the thick-and-thin, more or less servile party
organ; the personal, one-man-controlled, rather
blatant and would-be independent; and the timorous,
corporation, or family-owned billboard of
such news as the ever-increasing censorship of a
constantly centralizing Federal Government will
This latter appears to be its present state.
Neither its individuality nor its self-exploitation,
scarcely its grandiose pretension, remains. There
continues to be printed in large type an amount of
shallow stuff that would not be missed if it were
omitted altogether. But, except as a bulletin of
yesterday's doings, limited, the daily newspaper
counts for little, the single advantage of the editor
- in case there is an editor - that is, one clothed
with supervising authority who "edits" - being that
he reaches the public with his lucubrations first,
the sanctity that once hedged the editorial "we"
long since departed.
The editor dies, even as the actor, and leaves no
copy. Editorial reputations have been as ephemeral
as the publications which gave them contemporary
importance. Without going as far back
as the Freneaus and the Callenders, who recalls
the names of Mordecai Mannasseh Noah, of
Edwin Crosswell and of James Watson Webb? In
their day and generation they were influential and
distinguished journalists. There are dozens of
other names once famous but now forgotten;
George Wilkins Kendall; Gerard Hallock; Erastus
Brooks; Alexander Bullitt; Barnwell Rhett;
Morton McMichael; George William Childs, even
Thomas Ritchie, Duff Green and Amos Kendall.
"Gales and Seaton" sounds like a trade-mark; but
it stood for not a little and lasted a long time in
the National Capital, where newspaper vassalage
and the public printing went hand-in-hand.
For a time the duello flourished. There were
frequent "affairs of honor" - notably about
Richmond in Virginia and Charleston in South
Carolina - sometimes fatal meetings, as in the case of
John H. Pleasants and one of the sons of Thomas
Ritchie in which Pleasants was killed, and the yet
more celebrated affair between Graves, of
Kentucky, and Cilley, of Maine, in which Cilley was
killed; Bladensburg the scene, and the refusal of
Cilley to recognize James Watson Webb the
I once had an intimate account of this duel with
all the cruel incidents from Henry A. Wise, a party
to it, and a blood-curdling narrative it made. They
fought with rifles at thirty paces, and Cilley fell
on the third fire. It did much to discredit duelling
in the South. The story, however, that Graves
was so much affected that thereafter he could never
sleep in a darkened chamber had no foundation
whatever, a fact I learned from my associate in
the old Louisville Journal and later in The Courier-Journal,
Mr. Isham Henderson, who was a brother-in-law
of Mr. Graves, his sister, Mrs. Graves,
being still alive. The duello died at length. There
was never sufficient reason for its being. It was
both a vanity and a fad. In Hopkinson Smith's
"Col. Carter of Cartersville," its real character is
hit off to the life.
When very early, rather too early, I found
myself in the saddle, Bennett and Greeley and
Raymond in New York, and Medill and Storey in
Chicago, were yet alive and conspicuous figures in the
newspaper life of the time. John Bigelow, who
had retired from the New York Evening Post, was
Minister to France. Halstead was coming on, but,
except as a correspondent, Whitelaw Reid had not
"arrived." The like was true of "Joe" McCullagh,
who, in the same character, divided the newspaper
reading attention of the country with George
Alfred Townsend and Donn Piatt. Joseph Medill
was withdrawing from the Chicago Tribune in
favor of Horace White, presently to return and die
in harness - a man of sterling intellect and character
- and Wilbur F. Storey, his local rival, who was
beginning to show signs of the mental malady that,
developed into monomania, ultimately ended his life
in gloom and despair, wrecking one of the finest
newspaper properties outside of New York. William
R. Nelson, who was to establish a really great
newspaper in Kansas City, was still a citizen of Ft.
James Gordon Bennett, the elder, seemed then
to me, and has always seemed, the real founder of
the modern newspaper as a vehicle of popular
information, and, in point of apprehension, at least,
James Gordon Bennett, the younger, did not fall
behind his father. What was, and might have been
regarded and dismissed as a trivial slander drove
him out of New York and made him the greater
part of his life a resident of Paris, where I was
wont to meet and know much of him.
The New York Herald, under father and son,
attained enormous prosperity, prestige and real
power. It suffered chiefly from what they call in
Ireland "absentee landlordism." Its "proprietor,"
for he never described himself as its "editor," was
a man of exquisite sensibilities - a "despot" of
course - whom nature created for a good citizen, a
good husband and the head of a happy domestic
fabric. He should have married the woman of his
choice, for he was deeply in love with her and never
ceased to love her, forty years later leaving her in
his will a handsome legacy.
Crossing the ocean with the "Commodore," as he
was called by his familiars, not long after he had
taken up his residence abroad, naturally we fell
occasionally into shop talk. "What would you do,"
he once said, "if you owned the Herald?" "Why,"
I answered, "I would stay in New York and edit
it;" and then I proceeded, "but you mean to ask me
what I think you ought to do with it?" "Yes," he
said, "that is about the size of it."
"Well, Commodore," I answered, "if I were you,
when we get in I would send for John Cockerill and
make him managing editor, and for John Young,
and put him in charge of the editorial page, and
then I would go and lose myself in the wilds of
He adopted the first two of these suggestions.
John A. Cockerill was still under contract with
Joseph Pulitzer and could not accept for a year or
more. He finally did accept and died in the Bennett
service. John Russell Young took the editorial
page and was making it "hum" when a most
unaccountable thing happened. I was amazed to
receive an invitation to a dinner he had tendered
and was about to give to the quondam Virginian
and just elected New York Justice Roger A.
Pryor. "Is Young gone mad," I said to myself,
"or can he have forgotten that the one man of all
the world whom the House of Bennett can never
forget, or forgive, is Roger A. Pryor?"
The Bennett-Pryor quarrel had been a
célébre when John Young was night editor of the
Philadelphia Press and I was one of its Washington
correspondents. Nothing so virulent had ever
passed between an editor and a Congressman. In
one of his speeches Pryor had actually gone the
length of rudely referring to Mrs. James Gordon
The dinner was duly given. But it ended John's
connection with the Herald and his friendly
relations with the owner of the Herald. The incident
might be cited as among "The Curiosities of
Journalism," if ever a book with that title is written.
John's "break" was so bad that I never had the
heart to ask him how he could have perpetrated it.
The making of an editor is a complex affair.
Poets and painters are said to be born. Editors
and orators are made. Many essential elements
enter into the editorial fabrication; need to be
concentrated upon and embodied by a single individual,
and even, with these, environment is left to supply
the opportunity and give the final touch.
Aptitude, as the first ingredient, goes without
saying of every line of human endeavor. We have
the authority of the adage for the belief that it is
not possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Yet have I known some unpromising tyros mature
into very capable workmen.
The modern newspaper, as we know it, may be
fairly said to have been the invention of James
Gordon Bennett, the elder. Before him there were
journals, not newspapers. When he died he had
developed the news scheme in kind, though not in
the degree that we see so elaborate and
resplendent in New York and other of the leading
centers of population. Mr. Bennett had led a
vagrant and varied life when he started the Herald.
He had been many things by turns, including a
writer of verses and stories, but nothing very
successful nor very long. At length he struck a central
idea - a really great, original idea - the idea of
printing the news of the day, comprising the History
of Yesterday, fully and fairly, without fear
or favor. He was followed by Greeley and
Raymond - making a curious and very dissimilar
triumvirate - and, at longer range, by Prentice and
Forney, by Bowles and Dana, Storey, Medill and
Halstead. All were marked men; Greeley a writer and
propagandist; Raymond a writer, declaimer and
politician; Prentice a wit and partisan; Dana a
scholar and an organizer; Bowles a man both of
letters and affairs. The others were men of all
work, writing and fighting their way to the front,
but possessing the "nose for news," using the Bennett
formula and rescript as the basis of their serious
efforts, and never losing sight of it. Forney
had been a printer. Medill and Storey were caught
young by the lure of printer's ink. Bowles was
born and reared in the office of the Springfield
Republican, founded by his father, and Halstead, a
cross betwixt a pack horse and a race horse, was
broken to harness before he was out of his teens.
Assuming journalism, equally with medicine and
law, to be a profession, it is the only profession in
which versatility is not a disadvantage. Specialism
at the bar, or by the bedside, leads to perfection
and attains results. The great doctor is the great
surgeon or the great prescriptionist - he cannot be
great in both - and the great lawyer is rarely great,
if ever, as counselor and orator.
The great editor is by no means the great writer.
But he ought to be able to write and must be a
judge of writing. The newspaper office is a little
kingdom. The great editor needs to know and does
know every range of it between the editorial room,
the composing room and the pressroom. He must
hold well in hand everybody and every function,
having risen, as it were, step-by-step from the
ground floor to the roof. He should be level-headed,
yet impressionable; sympathetic, yet self-possessed;
able quickly to sift, detect and discriminate;
of various knowledge, experience and interest;
the cackle of the adjacent barnyard the noise
of the world to his eager mind and pliant ear.
Nothing too small for him to tackle, nothing too
great, he should keep to the middle of the road and
well in rear of the moving columns; loving his art
- for such it is - for art's sake; getting his
sufficiency, along with its independence, in the public
approval and patronage, seeking never anything
further for himself. Disinterestedness being the
soul of successful journalism, unselfish devotion to
every noble purpose in public and private life, he
should say to preferment, as to bribers, "get behind
me, Satan." Whitelaw Reid, to take a ready and
conspicuous example, was a great journalist, but
rather early in life he abandoned journalism for
office and became a figure in politics and diplomacy
so that, as in the case of Franklin, whose example
and footsteps in the main he followed, he will be
remembered rather as the Ambassador than as the
More and more must these requirements be fulfilled
by the aspiring journalist. As the world
passes from the Rule of Force - force of prowess,
force of habit, force of convention - to the Rule
of Numbers, the daily journal is destined, if it
survives as a power, to become the teacher - the very
Bible - of the people. The people are already
beginning to distinguish between the wholesome and
the meretricious in their newspapers. Newspaper
owners, likewise, are beginning to realize the value
of character. Instances might be cited where the
public, discerning some sinister but unseen power
behind its press, has slowly yet surely withdrawn
its confidence and support. However impersonal it
pretends to be, with whatever of mystery it affects
to envelop itself, the public insists upon some visible
presence. In some States the law requires it. Thus
"personal journalism" cannot be escaped, and
whether the "one-man power" emanates from the
Counting Room or the Editorial Room, as they are
called, it must be clear and answerable, responsive
to the common weal, and, above all, trustworthy.
John Weiss Forney was among the most conspicuous
men of his time. He was likewise one of
the handsomest. By nature and training a journalist,
he played an active, not to say an equivocal,
part in public life - at the outset a Democratic and
then a Republican leader.
Born in the little town of Lancaster, it was his
mischance to have attached himself early in life to
the fortunes of Mr. Buchanan, whom he long served
with fidelity and effect. But when Mr. Buchanan
came to the Presidency, Forney, who aspired first
to a place in the Cabinet, which was denied him,
and then to a seat in the Senate, for which he was
beaten - through flagrant bribery, as the story ran
- was left out in the cold. Thereafter he became
something of a political adventurer.
The days of the newspaper "organ" aproached
their end. Forney's occupation, like Othello's, was
gone, for he was nothing if not an organ grinder.
Facile with pen and tongue, he seemed a born courtier -
a veritable Dalgetty, whose loyal devotion to
his knight-at-arms deserved better recognition than
the cold and wary Pennsylvania chieftain was willing
to give. It is only fair to say that Forney's
character furnished reasonable excuse for this
neglect and apparent ingratitude. The row between
them, however, was party splitting. As the friend
and backer of Douglas, and later along a brilliant
journalistic soldier of fortune, Forney did as much
as any other man to lay the Democratic party low.
I can speak of him with a certain familiarity and
authority, for I was one of his "boys." I admired
him greatly and loved him dearly. Most of the
young newspaper men about Philadelphia and
Washington did so. He was an all-around modern
journalist of the first class. Both as a newspaper
writer and creator and manager, he stood upon the
front line, rating with Bennett and Greeley and
Raymond. He first entertained and then cultivated
the thirst for office, which proved the undoing of
Greeley and Raymond, and it proved his undoing.
He had a passion for politics. He would shine in
public life. If he could not play first fiddle he
would take any other instrument. Thus failing of
a Senatorship, he was glad to get the Secretaryship
of the Senate, having been Clerk of the House.
He was bound to be in the orchestra. In those
days newspaper independence was little known.
Mr. Greeley was willing to play bottle-holder to
Mr. Seward, Mr. Prentice to Mr. Clay. James
Gordon Bennett, the elder, and later his son, James
Gordon Bennett, the younger, challenged this kind
of servility. The Herald stood at the outset of its
career manfully in the face of unspeakable obloquy
against it. The public understood it and rose to it.
The time came when the elder Bennett was to
attain official as well as popular recognition. Mr.
Lincoln offered him the French mission and Mr.
Bennett declined it. He was rich and famous,
and to another it might have seemed a kind of
crowning glory. To him it seemed only a coming
down - a badge of servitude - a lowering of the flag
of independent journalism under which, and under
which alone, he had fought all his life.
Charles A. Dana was not far behind the
Bennetts in his independence. He well knew what
parties and politicians are. The most scholarly and
accomplished of American journalists, he made the
Sun "shine for all," and, during the years of his
active management, a most prosperous property. It
happened that whilst I was penny-a-lining in New
York I took a piece of space work - not very common
in those days - to the Tribune and received a
few dollars for it. Ten years later, meeting Mr.
Dana at dinner, I recalled the circumstance, and
thenceforward we became the best of friends.
Twice indeed we had runabouts together in foreign
lands. His house in town, and the island home
called Dorsoris, which he had made for himself,
might not inaptly be described as very shrines of
hospitality and art, the master of the house a
virtuoso in music and painting no less than in letters.
One might meet under his roof the most diverse
people, but always interesting and agreeable people.
Perhaps at times he carried his aversions a
little too far. But he had reasons for them, and a
man of robust temperament and habit, it was not
in him to sit down under an injury, or fancied
injury. I never knew a more efficient journalist.
What he did not know about a newspaper, was
scarcely worth knowing.
In my day Journalism has made great strides. It
has become a recognized profession. Schools of
special training are springing up here and there.
Several of the universities have each its College of
Journalism. The tendency to discredit these, which
was general and pronounced at the start, lowers its
tone and grows less confident.
Assuredly there is room for special training
toward the making of an editor. Too often the
newspaper subaltern obtaining promotion through
aptitudes peculiarly his own, has failed to acquire even
the most rudimentary knowledge of his art. He has
been too busy seeking "scoops" and doing "stunts"
to concern himself about perspectives, principles,
causes and effects, probable impressions and
consequences, or even to master the technical details
which make such a difference in the preparation
of matter intended for publication and popular
perusal. The School of Journalism may not be
always able to give him the needful instruction. But
it can set him in the right direction and better prepare
him to think and act for himself.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH
BULLIES AND BRAGGARTS - SOME KENTUCKY
ILLUSTRATIONS - THE OLD HOUSE - THE
THROCKMORTONS - A FAMOUS SURGEON - "OLD HELL'S
I DO not believe that the bully and braggart is
more in evidence in Kentucky and Texas than
in other Commonwealths of the Union, except that
each is by the space writers made the favorite arena
of his exploits and adopted as the scene of the comic
stories told at his expense. The son-of-a-gun from
Bitter Creek, like the "elegant gentleman" from
the Dark and Bloody Ground, represents a certain
type to be found more or less developed in each and
every State of the Union. He is not always a
coward. Driven, as it were, to the wall, he will
often make good.
He is as a rule in quest of adventures. He enters
the village from the countryside and approaches the
mêlée. "Is it a free fight?" says he. Assured that
it is, "Count me in," says he. Ten minutes later,
"Is it still a free fight?" he says, and, again assured
in the affirmative, says he, "Count me out."
Once the greatest of bullies provoked old Aaron
Pennington, "the strongest man in the world," who
struck out from the shoulder and landed his victim
in the middle of the street. Here he lay in a helpless
heap until they carted him off to the hospital,
where for a day or two be flickered between life and
death. "Foh God," said Pennington, "I barely
This same bully threatened that when a certain
mountain man came to town he would "finish him."
The mountain man came. He was enveloped in an
old-fashioned cloak, presumably concealing his
armament, and walked about ostentatiously in the
proximity of his boastful foeman, who remained as
passive as a lamb. When, having failed to provoke
a fight, he had taken himself off, an onlooker said:
"Bill, I thought you were going to do him up?"
"But," says Bill, "did you see him?"
"Yes, I saw him. What of that?"
"Why," exclaimed the bully, "that man was a
Aaron Pennington, the strong man just mentioned,
was, in his younger days, a river pilot. Billy
Hite, a mite of a man, was clerk. They had a
disagreement, when Aaron told Billy that if he caught
him on "the harrican deck," he would pitch him
overboard. The next day Billy appeared whilst
Aaron, off duty, was strolling up and down outside
the pilot-house, and strolled offensively in his wake.
Never a hostile glance or a word from Aaron. At
last, tired of dumb show, Billy broke forth with a
torrent of imprecation closing with "When are you
going to pitch me off the boat, you blankety-blank
son-of-a-gun and coward?"
Aaron Pennington was a brave man. He was
both fearless and self-possessed. He paused, gazed
quizzically at his little tormentor, and says he:
"Billy, you got a pistol, and you want to get a pretext
to shoot me, and I ain't going to give it to you."
Among the hostels of Christendom the Galt
House, of Louisville, for a long time occupied a
foremost place and held its own. It was burned
to the ground fifty years ago and a new Galt House
as erected, not upon the original site, but upon
the same street, a block above, and, although one of
the most imposing buildings in the world, it could
never be made to thrive. It stands now a rather
useless encumbrance - a whited sepulchre - a marble
memorial of the Solid South and the Kentucky
that was, on whose portal might truthfully appear
"A jolly place it was in days of old,
But something ails it now."
Aris Throckmorton, its manager in the Thirties,
the Forties and the Fifties, was a personality and
a personage. The handsomest of men and the most
illiterate, he exemplified the characteristics and
peculiarities of the days of the river steamer and the
stage coach, when "mine host" felt it his duty to
make the individual acquaintance of his patrons and
each and severally to look after their comfort.
Many stories are told at his expense; of how he
made a formal call upon Dickens - it was, in point
of fact, Marryatt - in his apartment, to be coolly
told that when its occupant wanted him he would
ring for him; and of how,
investiagting a strange
box which had newly arrived from Florida, the
prevailing opinion being that the live animal within
was an alligator, he exclaimed, "Alligator, hell; it's
a scorponicum." He died at length, to be succeeded
by his son John, a very different character. And
thereby hangs a tale.
John Throckmorton, like Aris, his father, was
one of the handsomest of men. Perhaps because
he was so he became the victim of one of the
strangest of feminine whimsies and human freaks.
There was a young girl in Louisville, named Ellen
Godwin. Meeting him at a public ball she fell
violently in love with him. As Throckmorton did
not reciprocate this, and refused to pursue the
acquaintance, she began to dog his footsteps. She
dressed herself in deep black and took up a position
in front of the Galt House, and when he came out
and wherever he went she followed him. No matter
how long he stayed, when he reappeared she was on
the spot and watch. He took himself away to San
Francisco. It was but the matter of a few weeks
when she was there, too. He hied him thence to
Liverpool, and as he stepped upon the dock there
she was. She had got wind of his going and, having
caught an earlier steamer, preceded him.
Finally the War of Sections arrived. John
Throckmorton became a Confederate officer, and,
being able to keep her out of the lines, he had a rest
of four years. But, when after the war he returned
to Louisville, the quarry began again.
He was wont to call her "Old Hell's Delight."
Finally, one night, as he was passing the market,
she rushed out and rained upon him blow after blow
with a frozen rabbit.
Then the authorities took a hand. She was
arraigned for disorderly conduct and brought before
the Court of Police. Then the town, which knew
nothing of the case and accepted her goings on as
proof of wrong, rose; and she had a veritable ovation,
coming away with flying colors. This, however,
served to satisfy her. Thenceforward she desisted
and left poor John Throckmorton in peace.
I knew her well. She used once in a while to
come and see me, having some story or other to tell.
On one occasion I said to her: "Ellen, why do you
pursue this man in this cruel way? What possible
good can it do you?" She looked me straight in the
eye and slowly replied: "Because I love him."
I investigated the case closely and thoroughly
and was assured, as he had assured me, that he had
never done her the slightest wrong. She had, on
occasion, told me the same thing, and this I fully
He was a man, every inch of him, and a gentleman
through and through - the very soul of honor
in his transactions of every sort - most highly
respected and esteemed wherever he was known - yet
his life was made half a failure and wholly unhappy
by this "crazy Jane," the general public taking
appearances for granted and willing to believe nothing
good of one who, albeit proud and honorable,
held defiantly aloof, disdaining self-defense.
On the whole I have not known many men more
unfortunate than John Throckmorton, who, but for
"Old Hell's Delight," would have encountered little
obstacle to the pursuit of prosperity and happiness.
Another interesting Kentuckian of this period
was John Thompson Gray. He was a Harvard
man - a wit, a scholar, and, according to old Southern
standards, a chevalier. Handsome and gifted,
he had the disastrous misfortune just after leaving
college to kill his friend in a duel - a mortal affair
growing, as was usual in those days, out of a trivial
cause - and this not only saddened his life, but, in
its ambitious aims, shadowed and defeated it. His
university comrades had fully counted on his making
a great career. Being a man of fortune, he was
able to live like a gentleman without public preferment,
and this he did, except to his familiars aloof
and sensitive to the last.
William Preston, the whilom Minister to Spain
and Confederate General, and David Yandell, the
eminent surgeon, were his devoted friends, and a
notable trio they made. Stoddard Johnston, Boyd
Winchester and I - very much younger men - sat
at their feet and immensely enjoyed their brilliant
Dr. Yandell was not only as proclaimed by Dr.
Gross and Dr. Sayre the ablest surgeon of his day,
but he was also a gentleman of varied experience
and great social distinction. He had studied long
in Paris and was the pal of John Howard Payne,
the familiar friend of Lamartine, Dumas and
Lemaître. He knew Béranger, Hugo and Balzac. It
would be hard to find three Kentuckians less
provincial, more unaffected, scintillant and worldly
wise than he and William Preston and John
Indeed the list of my acquaintances - many of
them intimates - some of them friends - would be,
if recounted, a long one, not mentioning the foreigners,
embracing a diverse company all the way from
Chunkey Towles to Grover Cleveland, from Wake
Holman to John Pierpont Morgan, from John
Chamberlin to Thomas Edison. I once served as
honorary pall-bearer to a professional gambler who
was given a public funeral; a man who had
been a gallant Confederate soldier; whom nature
intended for an artist, and circumstance diverted
into a sport; but who retained to the last the poetic
fancy and the spirit of the gallant, leaving behind
him, when he died, like a veritable cavalier, chiefly
debts and friends. He was not a bad sort in business,
as the English say, nor in conviviality. But
in fighting he was "a dandy." The goody-goody
philosophy of the namby-pamby takes an extreme
and unreal view of life. It flies to extremes. There
are middle men. Travers used to describe one of
these, whom he did not wish particularly to
emphasize, as "a fairly clever son-of-a-gun."
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-NINTH
ABOUT POLITICAL CONVENTIONS, STATE AND
NATIONAL - "OLD BEN BUTLER" - HIS APPEARANCE
AS A TROUBLE-MAKER IN THE DEMOCRATIC
NATIONAL CONVENTION OF 1892 - TARIFA AND THE
TARIFF - SPAIN AS A FRIGHTFUL EXAMPLE.
I HAVE had a liberal education in party
convocations, State and national. In those of 1860
I served as an all-around newspaper reporter. A
member of each National Democratic Convention
from 1876 to 1892, presiding over the first, and in
those of 1880 and 1888 chosen chairman of the
Resolutions Committee, I wrote many of the
platforms and had a decisive voice in all of them.
In 1880 I had stood for the renomination of "the
Old Ticket," that is, Tilden and Hendricks, making
the eight-to-seven action of the Electoral
Tribunal of 1877 in favor of Hayes and Wheeler the
paramount issue. It seems strange now that any
one should have contested this. Yet it was stoutly
contested. Mr. Tilden settled all dispute by sending
a letter to the convention declining to be a
candidate. In answer to this I prepared a resolution
of regret to be incorporated in the platform. It
raised stubborn opposition. David A. Wells and
Joseph Pulitzer, who were fellow members of the
committee, were with me in my contention, but the
objection to making it a part of the platform grew
so pronounced that they thought I had best not
insist upon it.
The day wore on and the latent opposition
seemed to increase. I had been named chairman
of the committee and had at a single sitting that
morning written a completed platform. Each
plank of this was severally and closely scrutinized.
It was well into the afternoon before we reached the
plank I chiefly cared about. When I read this the
storm broke. Half the committee rose against it.
At the close, with more heat than was either courteous
or tactful, I said: "Gentlemen, I wish to do
no more than bid farewell to a leader who four
years ago took the Democratic party at its lowest
fortunes and made it a power again. He is well
on his way to the grave. I would place a wreath
of flowers on that grave. I ask only this of you.
Refuse me, and by God, I will go to that mob
yonder and, dead or alive, nominate him, and you
will be powerless to prevent!"
Mr. Barksdale, of Mississippi, a suave gentleman,
who had led the dissenters, said, "We do not
refuse you. But you say that we 'regret' Mr. Tilden's
withdrawal. Now I do not regret it, nor do
those who agree with me. Could you not substitute
some other expression?"
"I don't stand on words," I answered. "What
would you suggest?"
Mr. Barksdale said: "Would not the words 'We
have received with the deepest sensibility Mr.
Tilden's letter of withdrawal,' answer your purpose?"
"Certainly," said I, and the plank in the platform,
as it was amended, was adopted unanimously.
Mr. Tilden did not die. He outlived all his
immediate rivals. Four years later, in 1884, his party
stood ready again to put him at its head. In nominating
Mr. Cleveland it thought it was accepting
his dictation reënforced by the enormous majority
- nearly 200,000 - by which Mr. Cleveland, as
candidate for Governor, had carried New York in the
preceding State election. Yet, when the votes in
the presidential election came to be counted, he
carried it, if indeed he carried it at all, by less than
1,100 majority, the result hanging in the balance
for nearly a week.
In the convention of 1884, which met at Chicago,
we had a veritable monkey-and-parrot time. It
was next after the schism in Congress between the
Democratic factions led respectively by Carlisle
and Randall, Carlisle having been chosen Speaker
of the House over Randall.
Converse, of Ohio, appeared in the Platform
Committee representing Randall, and Morrison, of
Illinois, and myself, representing Carlisle. I was
bent upon making Morrison chairman of the
committee. But it was agreed that the chairmanship
should be held in abeyance until the platform had
been formulated and adopted. The subcommittee
to whom the task was delegated sat fifty-one hours
without a break before its work was completed.
Then Morrison was named chairman. It was
arranged thereafter between Converse, Morrison and
myself that when the agreed report was made,
Converse and I should have each what time he required
to say what was desired in explanation, I to close
the debate and move the previous question. At this
point General Butler sidled up. "Where do I come
in?" he asked.
"You don't get in at all, you blasted old sinner,"
"I have scriptural warrant," General Butler said.
"Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth the
"All right, old man," said Morrison, good-humoredly,
"take all the time you want."
In his speech before the convention General Butler
was not at his happiest, and in closing he gave
me a particularly good opening. "If you adopt
this platform of my friend Watterson," he said,
"God may help you, but I can't."
I was standing by his side, and, it being my turn,
he made way for me, and I said: "During the last
few days and nights of agreeable, though rather
irksome, intercourse, I have learned to love General
Butler, but I must declare that in an option
between him and the Almighty I have a prejudice in
favor of God."
In his personal intercourse, General Butler was
the most genial of men. The subcommittee in
charge of the preparation of a platform held its
meetings in the drawing-room of his hotel apartment,
and he had constituted himself our host as
well as our colleague. I had not previously met
him. It was not long after we came together
before he began to call me by my Christian name. At
one stage of the proceedings when by substituting
one word for another it looked as though we might
reach an agreement, he said to me: "Henry, what
is the difference between 'exclusively for public
purposes' and 'a tariff for revenue only'?"
"I know of none," I answered.
"Do you think that the committee have found
"No, I scarcely think so."
"Then I will see that they do." and he proceeded
in his peculiarly subtle way to undo all that we
had done, prolonging the session twenty-four hours.
He was an able man and a lovable man. The
missing ingredient was serious belief. Just after
the nomination of the Breckinridge and Lane Presidential
ticket in 1860, I heard him make an ultra-Southern
speech from Mr. Breckinridge's doorway.
"What do you think of that?" I asked Andrew
Johnson, who stood by me, and Johnson answered
sharply, with an oath: "I never like a man to be
for me more than I am for myself." I have been
told that even at home General Butler could never
acquire the public confidence. In spite of his
conceded mentality and manliness he gave the impression
of being something of an intellectual sharper.
He was charitable, generous and amiable. The
famous New Orleans order which had made him
odious to the women of the South he had issued to
warn bad women and protect good women.
Assuredly he did not foresee the interpretation that
would be put upon it. He was personally popular
in Congress. When he came to Washington he
dispensed a lavish hospitality. Such radical
Democrats as Beck and Knott did not disdain his
company, became, indeed, his familiars. Yet, curious
to relate, a Kentucky Congressman of the period
lost his seat because it was charged and proven that
he had ridden in a carriage to the White House
with the Yankee Boanerges on a public occasion.
Mere party issues never counted with me. I have
read too much and seen too much. At my present
time of life they count not at all. I used to think
that there was a principle involved between the dogmas
of Free Trade and Protection as they were
preached by their respective attorneys. Yet what
was either except the ancient, everlasting scheme -
- "The good old rôle - the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power
And they should keep who can."
How little wisdom one man may get from another
man's counsels, one nation may get from
another nation's history, can be partly computed
when we reflect how often our personal experience
has failed in warning admonition.
Temperament and circumstance do indeed cut a
prodigious figure in life. Traversing the older
countries, especially Spain, the most illustrative,
the wayfarer is met at all points by what seems not
merely the logic of events, but the common law
of the inevitable. The Latin of the Sixteenth
century was a recrudescence of the Roman of the First.
He had not, like the Mongolian, lived long enough
to become a stoic. He was mainly a cynic and an
adventurer. Thence he flowered into a sybarite.
Coming to great wealth with the discoveries of
Columbus and the conquests of Pizarro and Cortes,
he proceeded to enjoy its fruits according to his
fancy and the fashion of the times.
He erected massive shrines to his deities. He
reared noble palaces. He built about his cathedrals
and his castles what were then thought to be great
cities, walled and fortified. He was, for all his
self-sufficiency and pride, short-sighted; and yet,
until they arrived, how could he foresee the developments
of artillery? They were as hidden from him
as three centuries later the wonders of electricity
were hidden from us.
I was never a Free Trader. I stood for a tariff
for revenue as the least oppressive and safest
support of Government. The protective system in the
United States, responsible for our unequal distribution
of wealth, took at least its name from Spain,
and the Robber Barons, as I used to call the
Protectionists of Pennsylvania, were not of immediate
Truth to say, both on land and water Spain has
made a deal of history, and the front betwixt
Gibraltar and the Isle of San Fernando - Tangier on
one side and the Straits of Tarifa on the other -
Cape Trafalgar, where Nelson fought the famous
battle, midway between them - has had its share.
Tarifa! What memories it invokes! In the
olden and golden days of primitive man, before
corporation lawyers had learned how to frame pillaging
statutes, and rascally politicians to bamboozle
confiding constituencies - thus I used to put it -
the gentle pirates of Tarifa laid broad and deep the
foundations for the Protective System in the
It was a fruitful as well as a congenial theme,
and I rang all the changes on it. To take by law
from one man what is his and give it to another
man who has not earned it and has no right to it,
I showed to be an invention of the Moors, copied
by the Spaniards and elevated thence into political
economy by the Americans. Tarifa took its name
from Tarif-Ben-Malik, the most enterprising Robber
Baron of his day, and thus the Lords of Tarifa
were the progenitors of the Robber Barons of the
Black Forest, New England and Pittsburgh.
Tribute was the name the Moors gave their
robbery, which was open and aboveboard. The Coal
Kings, the Steel Kings and the Oil Kings of the
modern world have contrived to hide the process;
but in Spain the palaces of their forefathers rise in
lonely and solemn grandeur just as a thousand
years hence the palaces upon the Fifth Avenue side
of Central Park and along Riverside Drive, not to
mention those of the Schuylkill and the Delaware,
may become but roosts for bats and owls, and the
chronicler of the Anthropophagi, "whose heads do
reach the skies," may tell how the voters of the
Great Republic were bought and sold with their
own money, until "Heaven released the legions
north of the North Pole, and they swooped down
and crushed the pulpy mass beneath their avenging
The gold that was gathered by the Spaniards
and fought over so valiantly is scattered to the four
ends of the earth. It may be as potent to-day as
then; but it does not seem nearly so heroic. A good
deal of it has found its way to London, which a
short century and a half ago "had not," according
to Adam Smith, "sufficient wealth to compete with
Cadiz." We have had our full share without fighting
for it. Thus all things come to him who contrives
Meanwhile, there are "groups" and "rings."
And, likewise, "leaders" and "bosses." What do
they know or care about the origins of wealth; about
Venice; about Cadiz; about what is said of Wall
Street? the Spanish Main was long ago stripped
of its pillage. The buccaneers took themselves off
to keep company with the Vikings. Yet, away
down in those money chests, once filled with what
were pieces of eight and ducats and doubloons, who
shall say that spirits may not lurk and ghosts walk,
one old freebooter wheezing to another old
freebooter: "They order these things better in the
I have enjoyed hugely my several sojourns in
Spain. The Spaniard is unlike any other European.
He may not make you love him. But you
are bound to respect him.
There is a mansion in Seville known as The
House of Pontius Pilate because part of the
remains of the abode of the Roman Governor was
brought from Jerusalem and used in a building
suited to the dignity of a Spanish grandee who was
also a Lord of Tarifa. The Duke of Medina Celi,
its present owner, is a lineal scion of the old
piratical crew. The mansion is filled with the fruits of
many a foray. There are plunder from Naples,
where one ancestor was Viceroy, and treasures from
the temples of the Aztecs and the Incas, where two
other ancestors ruled. Every coping stone and
pillar cost some mariner of the Tarifa Straits a
pot of money.
Its owner is a pauper. A carekeeper shows it
for a peseta a bead. To such base uses may we
come at last. Yet Seville basks in the sun and
smiles on the flashing waters of the Guadalquivir,
and Cadiz sits serene upon the green hillsides of
San Sebastian, just as if nothing had ever
happened; neither the Barber and Carmen, nor Nelson
and Byron; the past but a phantom; the present
the prosiest of prose-poems.
There are canny Spaniards even as there are
canny Scots, who grow rich and prosper; but there
is never a Spaniard who does not regard the political
fabric, and the laws, as fair game, the rule
being always "devil take the hindmost," community
of interests nowhere. "The good old vices of
Spain," that is, the robbing of the lesser rogue by
the greater in regulated gradations all the way
from the King to the beggar, are as prevalent and
as vital as ever they were. Curiously enough, a
tiny stream of Hebraic blood and Moorish blood
still trickles through the Spanish coast towns. It
may be traced through the nomenclature in spite of
its Castilian prefigurations and appendices, which
would account for some of the enterprise and
activity that show themselves, albeit only by fits and
CHAPTER THE THIRTIETH
THE MAKERS OF THE REPUBLIC - LINCOLN, JEFFERSON,
CLAY AND WEBSTER - THE PROPOSED
LEAGUE OF NATIONS - THE WILSONIAN
INCERTITUDE - THE "NEW FREEDOM."
THE makers of the American Republic range
themselves in two groups - Washington,
Franklin and Jefferson - Clay, Webster and
Lincoln - each of whom, having a genius peculiarly
his own, gave himself and his best to the cause of
national unity and independence.
In a general way it may be said that Washington
created and Lincoln saved the Union. But along
with Washington and Lincoln, Clay makes a good
historic third, for it was the masterful Kentuckian
who, joining rare foresight to surpassing eloquence
and leading many eminent men, including Webster,
was able to hold the legions of unrest at bay during
the formative period.
There are those who call these great men "back
numbers," who tell us we have left the past behind
us and entered an epoch of more enlightened
progress - who would displace the example of the
simple lives they led and the homely truths they told,
to set up a school of philosophy which had made
Athens stare and Rome howl, and, I dare say, is
causing the Old Continentals to turn over in their
graves. The self-exploiting spectacle and bizarre
teaching of this school passes the wit of man to
fathom. Professing the ideal and proposing to
recreate the Universe, the New Freedom, as it calls
itself, would standardize it. The effect of that would
be to desiccate the human species in human conceit.
It would cheapen the very harps and halos in
Heaven and convert the Day of Judgment into a
moving picture show.
I protest that I am not of its kidney. In point
of fact, its platitudes "stick in my gizzard." I
belong the rather to those old-fashioned ones -
"Who love their land because it is their own,
And scorn to give aught other reason why;
Who'd shake hands with a king upon his
And think it kindness to his majesty."
I have many rights - birthrights - to speak of
Kentucky as a Kentuckian, beside that of more
than fifty years' service upon what may be fairly
called the battle-line of the Dark and Bloody
My grandmother's father, William Mitchell
Morrison, had raised a company of riflemen in the
War of the Revolution, and, after the War,
marched it westward. He commanded the troops
in the old fort at Harrodsburg, where my grandmother
was born in 1784. He died a general. My
grandfather, James Black's father, the Rev. James
Black, was chaplain of the fort. He remembered
the birth of the baby girl who was to become his
wife. He was a noble stalwart - a perfect type of
the hunters of Kentucky - who could bring down a
squirrel from the highest bough and hit a bull's
eye at a hundred yards after he was three score
It was he who delighted my childhood with bear
stories and properly lurid narrations of the braves
in buckskin and the bucks in paint and feathers,
with now and then a red-coat to give pungency and
variety to the tale. He would sing me to sleep with
hunting songs. He would take me with him afield
to carry the game bag, and I was the only one of
many grandchildren to be named in his will. In my
thoughts and in my dreams he has been with me all
my life, a memory and an example, and an ever
Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were among
my earliest heroes.
Born in a Democratic camp, and growing to
manhood on the Democratic side of a political
battlefield, I did not accept, as I came later to
realize, the transcendent personal merit and
public service of Henry Clay. Being of Tennessee
parentage, perhaps the figure of Andrew Jackson
came between; perhaps the rhetoric of Daniel
Webster. Once hearing me make some slighting
remark of the Great Commoner, my father, a life-long
Democrat, who, on opposing sides, had served in
Congress with Mr. Clay, gently rebuked me. "Do
not express such opinions, my son," he said, "they
discredit yourself. Mr. Clay was a very great man
- a born leader of men."
It was certainly he, more than any other man,
who held the Union together until the time arrived
for Lincoln to save it.
I made no such mistake, however, with respect to
Abraham Lincoln. From the first he appeared to
me a great man, a born leader of men. His death
proved a blow to the whole country - most of all to
the Southern section of it. If he had lived there
would have been no Era of Reconstruction, with
its repressive agencies and oppressive legislation;
there would have been wanting to the extremism of
the time the bloody cue of his taking off to mount
the steeds and spur the flanks of vengeance. For
Lincoln entertained, with respect to the rehabilitation
of the Union, the single wish that the Southern
States - to use his homely phraseology -
"should come back home and behave themselves,"
and if he had lived he would have made this wish
effectual as he made everything else effectual to
which he addressed himself.
His was the genius of common sense. Of
perfect intellectual acuteness and aplomb, he
sprang from a Virginia pedigree and was born
in Kentucky. He knew all about the South,
its institutions, its traditions and its peculiarities.
He was an old-line Whig of the school of
Henry Clay, with strong Emancipation leaning,
never an Abolitionist. "If slavery be not wrong,"
he said, "nothing is wrong," but he also said and
reiterated it time and again, "I have no prejudice
against the Southern people. They are just what
we would be in their situation. If slavery did not
now exist among them they would not introduce it.
If it did now exist among us, we would not instantly
give it up."
From first to last throughout the angry debates
preceding the War of Sections, amid the passions
of the War itself, not one vindictive, proscriptive
word fell from his tongue or pen, whilst during its
progress there was scarcely a day when he did not
project his great personality between some Southern
man or woman and danger.
There has been much discussion about what did
and what did not occur at the famous Hampton
Roads Conference. That Mr. Lincoln met and
conferred with the official representatives of the
Confederate Government, led by the Vice President of
the Confederate States, when it must have been
known to him that the Confederacy was nearing the
end of its resources, is sufficient proof of the breadth
both of his humanity and his patriotism. Yet he
went to Fortress Monroe prepared not only to make
whatever concessions toward the restoration of
Union and Peace he had the lawful authority to
make, but to offer some concessions which could in
the nature of the case go no further at that time
than his personal assurance. His constitutional
powers were limited. But he was in himself the
embodiment of great moral power.
The story that he offered payment for the slaves
- so often affirmed and denied - is in either case
but a quibble with the actual facts. He could not
have made such an offer except tentatively, lacking
the means to carry it out. He was not given
the opportunity to make it, because the Confederate
Commissioners were under instructions to treat
solely on the basis of the recognition of the
independence of the Confederacy. The conference
came to nought. It ended where it began.
But there is ample evidence that he went to
Hampton Roads resolved to commit himself to that
proposition. He did, according to the official
reports, refer to it in specific terms, having already
formulated a plan of procedure. This plan exists
and may be seen in his own handwriting. It
embraced a joint resolution to be submitted by the
President to the two Houses of Congress appropriating
$400,000,000 to be distributed among the
Southern States on the basis of the slave population
of each according to the Census of 1860, and a
proclamation to be issued by himself, as President,
when the joint resolution had been passed by
There can be no controversy among honest students
of history on this point. That Mr. Lincoln
said to Mr. Stephens, "Let me write Union at the
top of this page and you may write below it
whatever else you please," is referable to Mr. Stephens'
statement made to many friends and attested by a
number of reliable persons. But that he meditated
the most liberal terms, including payment for
the slaves, rests neither upon conjecture nor hearsay,
but on documentary proof. It may be argued
that he could not have secured the adoption of any
such plan; but of his purpose, and its genuineness,
there can be no question and there ought to be no
Indeed, payment for the slaves had been all
along in his mind. He believed the North equally
guilty with the South for the original existence of
slavery. He clearly understood that the Irrepressible
Conflict was a Conflict of systems, not a merely
sectional and partisan quarrel. He was a just man,
abhorring proscription: an old Conscience Whig,
indeed, who stood in awe of the Constitution and
his oath of office. He wanted to leave the South
no right to claim that the North, finding slave labor
unremunerative, had sold its negroes to the South
and then turned about and by force of arms
confiscated what it had unloaded at a profit. He fully
recognized slavery as property. The Proclamation
of Emancipation was issued as a war measure. In
his message to Congress of December, 1862, he
proposed payment for the slaves, elaborating a scheme
in detail and urging it with copious and cogent
argument. "The people of the South," said he,
addressing a Congress at that moment in the throes
of a bloody war with the South, "are not more
responsible for the original introduction of this
property than are the people of the North, and, when it
is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton
and sugar and share the profits of dealing in them,
it may not be quite safe to say that the South has
been more responsible than the North for its
It has been my rule, aim and effort in my newspaper
career to print nothing of a man which I
would not say to his face; to print nothing of a
man in malice; to look well and think twice before
consigning a suspect to the ruin of printer's ink;
to respect the old and defend the weak; and, lastly,
at work and at play, daytime and nighttime, to be
good to the girls and square with the boys, for hath
it not been written of such is the kingdom of
There will always be in a democracy two or more
sets of rival leaders to two or more differing groups
of followers. Hitherto history has classified these
as conservatives and radicals. But as society has
become more and more complex the groups have
had their subdivisions. As a consequence speculative
doctrinaries and adventurous politicians are
enabled to get in their work of confusing the issues
and exploiting themselves.
" 'What are these fireworks for?' asks the rustic
in the parable. 'To blind the eyes of the people,'
answers the cynic."
I would not say aught in a spirit of hostility to the
President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson
is a clever speaker and writer. Yet the usual trend
and phrase of his observations seem to be those of
a special pleader, rather than those of a statesman.
Every man, each of the nations, is for peace as an
abstract proposition. That much goes without saying.
But Mr. Wilson proposes to bind the hands
of a giant and take lottery chances on the future.
This, I think, the country will contest.
He is obsessed by the idea of a League of Nations.
If not his own discovery he has yet made
himself its leader. He talks flippantly about
"American ideals" that have won the war against
Germany, as if there were no English ideals and
"In all that he does we can descry the schoolmaster
who arrived at the front rather late in life.
One needs only to go over the record and mark
how often he has reversed himself to detect a
certain mental and temperamental instability clearly
indicating a lack of fixed or resolute intellectual
purpose. This is characteristic of an excess in
education; of the half baked mind overtrained. The
overeducated mind fancies himself a doctrinaire
when he is in point of fact only a disciple."
Woodrow Wilson was born to the rather sophisticated
culture of the too, too solid South. Had
he grown up in England a hundred years ago he
would have been a follower of the Della Cruscans.
He has what is called a facile pen, though it
sometimes runs away with him. It seems to have done
so in the matter of the League of Nations. Inevitably
such a scheme would catch the fancy of one
ever on the alert for the fanciful.
I cannot too often repeat that the world we
inhabit is a world of sin, disease and death. Men will
fight whenever they want to fight, and no artificial
scheme or process is likely to restrain them. It
is mainly the costliness of war that makes most
against it. But, as we have seen the last four years,
it will not quell the passions of men or dull national
and racial ambitions.
All that Mr. Wilson and his proposed League of
Nations can do will be to revamp, and maybe for
a while to reimpress the minds of the rank and file,
until the bellowing followers of Bellona are ready
Eternal peace, universal peace, was not the purpose
of the Deity in the creation of the universe.
Nevertheless, it would seem to be the duty of
men in great place, as of us all, to proclaim the
gospel of good will and cultivate the arts of
fraternity. I have no quarrel with the President on
this score. What I contest is the self-exploitation
to which he is prone, so lacking in dignity and open
Thus it was that instant upon the appearance
of the proposed League of Nations I made bold
to challenge it, as but a pretty conceit having no
real value, a serious assault upon our national
Its argument seemed to me full of copybook
maxims, easier recited than applied. As what I
wrote preceded the debates and events of the last
six months, I may not improperly make the following
quotation from a screed of mine appearing in
The Courier-Journal of the 5th of March, 1919:
"The League of Nations is a fad. Politics, like
society and letters, has its fads. In society they
call them fashion and in literature originality.
Politics gives the name of 'issues' to its fads. A
taking issue is as a stunning gown, or 'a best seller.'
The President's mind wears a coat of many colors,
and he can change it at will, his mood being the
objective point, not always too far ahead, or clear
of vision. Carl Schurz was wont to speak of Gratz
Brown as 'a man of thoughts rather than of ideas.'
I wonder if that can be justly said of the President?
'Gentlemen will please not shoot at the pianiste,'
adjured the superscription over the music
stand in the Dakota dive; 'she is doing the best
that she knows how.'
"Already it is being proclaimed that Woodrow
Wilson can have a third nomination for the presidency
if he wants it, and nobody seems shocked by
it, which proves that the people grow degenerate
and foreshadows that one of these nights some fool
with a spyglass will break into Mars and let loose
the myriads of warlike gyascutes who inhabit that
freak luminary, thence to slide down the willing
moonbeam and swallow us every one!
"In a sense the Monroe Doctrine was a fad.
Oblivious to Canada, and British Columbia and the
Spanish provinces, it warned the despots of Europe
off the grass in America. We actually went to
war with Mexico, having enjoyed two wars with
England, and again and again we threatened to
annex the Dominion. Everything betwixt hell and
Halifax was Yankee preëmpted.
"Truth to say, your Uncle Samuel was ever a
jingo. But your Cousin Woodrow, enlarging on
the original plan, would stretch our spiritual boundaries
to the ends of the earth and make of us the
moral custodian of the universe. This much, no
less, he got of the school of sweetness and light in
which he grew up.
"I am a jingo myself. But a wicked material
jingo, who wants facts, not theories. If I thought
it possible and that it would pay, I would annex the
North Pole and colonize the Equator. It is, after
the manner of the lady in the play, that the President
'doth protest too much,' which displeases me
and where, in point of fact, I 'get off the
"That, being a politician and maybe a candidate,
he is keenly alive to votes goes without saying. On
the surface this League of Nations having the word
'peace' in big letters emblazoned both upon its
forehead and the seat of its trousers - or, should I say,
woven into the hem of its petticoat? - seems an
appeal for votes. I do not believe it will bear
discussion. In a way, it tickles the ear without
convincing the sense. There is nothing sentimental
about the actualities of Government, much as public
men seek to profit by arousing the passions of the
people. Government is a hard and fast and dry
reality. At best statesmanship can only half do
the things it would. Its aims are most assured when
tending a little landward; its footing safest on its
native heath. We have plenty to do on our own
continent without seeking to right things on other
continents. Too many of us - the President among
the rest, I fear - miscalculate the distance between
contingency and desire.
" 'We figure to ourselves
The thing we like: and then we build it up:
As chance will have it on the rock or sand -
When thought grows tired of wandering o'er the
And homebound Fancy runs her bark ashore.' "
I am sorry to see the New York World fly off
at a tangent about this latest of the Wilsonian
hobbies. Frank Irving Cobb, the editor of the
World, is, as I have often said, the strongest writer
on the New York press since Horace Greeley. But
he can hardly be called a sentimentalist, as Greeley
was, and there is nothing but sentiment - gush and
gammon - in the proposed League of Nations.
It may be all right for England. There are certainly
no flies on it for France. But we don't need
it. Its effects can only be to tie our hands, not keep
the dogs away, and even at the worst, in stress of
weather, we are strong enough to keep the dogs
We should say to Europe: "Shinny on your
own side of the water and we will shinny on our
side." It may be that Napoleon's opinion will come
true that ultimately Europe will be "all Cossack or
all republican." Part of it has come true already.
Meanwhile it looks as though the United States,
having exhausted the reasonable possibilities of
democracy, is beginning to turn crank. Look at
woman suffrage by Federal edict; look at prohibition
by act of Congress and constitutional amendment;
tobacco next to walk on the plank; and then! -
Lord, how glad I feel that I am nearly a hundred
years old and shall not live to see it!
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIRST
THE AGE OF MIRACLES - A STORY OF FRANKLIN
PIERCE - SIMON SUGGS AND BILLY SUNDAY -
JEFFERSON DAVIS AND AARON BURR - CERTAIN
THE years intervening between 1865 and 1919
may be accounted the most momentous in all
the cycles of the ages. The bells that something
more than half a century ago rang forth to welcome
peace in America have been from that day to this
jangled out of tune and harsh with the sounding
of war's alarms in every other part of the world.
We flatter ourselves with the thought that our
tragedy lies behind us. Whether this be true or not,
the tragedy of Europe is at hand and ahead. The
miracles of modern invention, surpassing those of
old, have made for strife, not for peace. Civilization
has gone backward, not forward. Rulers,
intoxicated by the lust of power and conquest, have
lost their reason, and nations, following after, like
cattle led to slaughter, seem as the bereft of Heaven
"that knew not God."
We read the story of our yesterdays as it unfolds
itself in the current chronicle; the ascent to the
bank-house, the descent to the mad-house, and, over
the glittering paraphernalia that follows to the
tomb, we reflect upon the money-zealot's progress;
the dizzy height, the dazzling array, the craze for
more and more and more; then the temptation and
fall, millions gone, honor gone, reason gone - the
innocent and the gentle, with the guilty, dragged
through the mire of the prison, and the court - and
we draw back aghast. Yet, if we speak of these
things we are called pessimists.
I have always counted myself an optimist. I
know that I do not lie awake nights musing on the
ingratitude either of my stars or my countrymen.
I pity the man who does. Looking backward, I
have sincere compassion for Webster and for Clay!
What boots it to them, now that they lie beneath
the mold, and that the drums and tramplings of
nearly seventy years of the world's strifes and
follies and sordid ambitions and mean repinings,
and longings, and laughter, and tears, have passed
over their graves, what boots it to them, now, that
they failed to get all they wanted? There is indeed
snug lying in the churchyard; but the flowers
smell as sweet and the birds sing as merry, and the
stars look down as loving upon the God-hallowed
mounds of the lowly and the poor, as upon the
man-bedecked monuments of the Kings of men.
All of us, the least with the greatest, let us hope and
believe shall attain immortal life at last. What
was there for Webster, what was there for Clay to
quibble about? I read with a kind of wonder, and
a sickening sense of the littleness of great things,
those passages in the story of their lives where it
is told how they stormed and swore, when tidings
reached them that they had been balked of their
Yet they might have been so happy; so happy
in their daily toil, with its lofty aims and fair
surroundings; so happy in the sense of duty done; so
happy, above all, in their own Heaven-sent genius,
with its noble opportunities and splendid achievements.
They should have emulated the satisfaction
told of Franklin Pierce. It is related that an
enemy was inveighing against him, when an alleged
friend spoke up and said: "You should not talk
so about the President, I assure you that he is not
at all the man you describe him to be. On the
contrary, he is a man of the rarest gifts and virtues.
He has long been regarded as the greatest orator
in New England, and the greatest lawyer in New
England, and surely no one of his predecessors
ever sent such state papers to Congress."
"How are you going to prove it," angrily retorted
the first speaker.
"I don't need to prove it," coolly replied the
second. "He admits it."
I cannot tell just how I should feel if I were
President, though, on the whole, I fancy fairly
comfortable, but I am quite certain that I would not
exchange places with any of the men who have been
President, and I have known quite a number of
I am myself accused sometimes of being a "pessimist."
Assuredly I am no optimist of the Billy
Sunday sort, who fancies the adoption of the
prohibition amendment the coming of "de jubilo."
Early in life, while yet a recognized baseball
authority, Mr. Sunday discovered "pay dirt" in what
Col. Mulberry Sellers called "piousness." He
made it an asset and began to issue celestial notes,
countersigned by himself and made redeemable in
Heaven. From that day to this he has been following
the lead of the renowned Simon Suggs, who,
having in true camp meeting style acquired "the
grace of God," turned loose as an exhorter shouting
"Step up to the mourner's bench, my brethering,
step up lively, and be saved! I come in on na
'er par, an' see what I draw'd! Religion's the only
game whar you can't lose. Him that trusts the
Lord holds fo' aces!"
The Billy Sunday game has made Billy Sunday
rich. Having exhausted Hell-fire-and-brimstone,
the evangel turns to the Demon Rum. Satan,
with hide and horns, has had his day. Prohibition
is now the trick card.
The fanatic is never either very discriminating
or very particular. As a rule, for him any taking
"ism" will suffice. To-day, it happens to be
whisky." To-morrow it will be tobacco. Finally,
having established the spy system and made
house-to-house espionage a rule of conventicle, it will
become a misdemeanor for a man to kiss his wife.
From fakers who have cards up their sleeves,
not to mention snakes in their boots, we hear a
great deal about "the people," pronounced by them
as if it were spelled "pee-pul." It is the unfailing
recourse of the professional politician in quest
of place. Yet scarcely any reference, or referee,
The people en masse constitute what we call the
mob. Mobs have rarely been right - never except
when capably led. It was the mob of Jerusalem
that did the unoffending Jesus of Nazareth to
death. It was the mob in Paris that made the
Reign of Terror. Mobs have seldom been tempted,
even had a chance to go wrong, that they have not
The "people" is a fetish. It was the people,
misled, who precipitated the South into the madness
of secession and the ruin of a hopelessly unequal
war of sections. It was the people backing if not
compelling the Kaiser, who committed hari-kari for
themselves and their empire in Germany. It is
the people leaderless who are making havoc in
Russia. Throughout the length and breadth of
Christendom, in all lands and ages, the people,
when turned loose, have raised every inch of hell
to the square foot they were able to raise, often
upon the slightest pretext, or no pretext at all.
This is merely to note the mortal fallibility of
man, most fallible when herded in groups and prone
to do in the aggregate what he would hesitate to
do when left to himself and his individual
Under a wise dispensation of power, despotism,
we are told embodies the best of all government.
The trouble is that despotism is seldom, if ever,
wise. It is its nature to be inconsiderate, being
essentially selfish, grasping and tyrannous. As a
rule therefore revolution - usually of force - has
been required to change or reform it. Perfectibility
was not designed for mortal man. That indeed
furnishes the strongest argument in favor of
the immortality of the soul, life on earth but the
ante-chamber of eternal life. It would be a cruel
Deity that condemned man to the brief and vexed
span of human existence with nothing beyond the
We know not whence we came, or whither we
go; but it is a fair guess that we shall in the end get
better than we have known.
Historic democracy is dead.
This is not to say that a Democratic party organization
has ceased to exist. Nor does it mean that
there are no more Democrats and that the Democratic
party is dead in the sense that the Federalist
party is dead or the Whig party is dead, or the
Greenback party is dead, or the Populist party is
dead. That which has died is the Democratic party
of Jefferson and Jackson and Tilden. The principles
of government which they laid down and advocated
have been for the most part obliterated.
What slavery and secession were unable to accomplish
has been brought about by nationalizing sumptuary
laws and suffrage.
The death-blow to Jeffersonian democracy was
delivered by the Democratic Senators and
Representatives from the South and West who carried
through the prohibition amendment. The
grâce was administered by a President of the
United States elected as a Democrat when he
approved the Federal suffrage amendment to the
The kind of government for which the Jeffersonian
democracy successfully battled for more than
a century was thus repudiated; centralization was
invited; State rights were assassinated in the very
citadel of State rights. The charter of local
self-government become a scrap of paper, the way is
open for the obliteration of the States in all their
essential functions and the erection of a Federal
Government more powerful than anything of which
Alexander Hamilton dared to dream.
When the history of these times comes to be
written it may be said of Woodrow Wilson: he
rose to world celebrity by circumstance rather than
by character. He was favored of the gods. He
possessed a bright, forceful mind. His achievements
were thrust upon him. Though it sometimes
ran away with him, his pen possessed extraordinary
facility. Thus he was ever able to put his
best foot foremost. Never in the larger sense a
leader of men as were Chatham and Fox, as were
Washington, Clay and Lincoln; nor of ideas as were
Rousseau, Voltaire and Franklin, he had the subtle
tenacity of Louis the Eleventh of France, the keen
foresight of Richelieu with a talent for the
surprising which would have raised him to eminence
in journalism. In short he was an opportunist void
of conviction and indifferent to consistency.
The pen is mightier than the sword only when
it has behind it a heart as well as a brain. He who
wields it must be brave, upright and steadfast. We
are giving our Chief Executive enormous powers.
As a rule his wishes prevail. His name becomes
the symbol of party loyalty. Yet it is after all a
figure of speech not a personality that appeals to
our sense of duty without necessarily engaging our
Historic Republicanism is likewise dead, as dead
as historic Democracy, only in both cases the labels
We are told by Herbert Spencer that the political
superstition of the past having been the divine
right of kings, the political superstition of the
present is the divine right of parliaments and he might
have said of peoples. The oil of anointing seems
unawares, he thinks, to have dripped from the head
of the one upon the heads of the many, and given
sacredness to them also, and to their decrees.
That the Proletariat, the Bolsheviki, the People
are on the way seems plain enough. How far they
will go, and where they will end, is not so clear.
With a kind of education - most men taught to
read, very few to think - the masses are likely to
demand yet more and more for themselves. They will
continue strenuously and effectively to resent the
startling contrasts of fortune which aptitude and
opportunity have created in a social and political
structure claiming to rest upon the formula "equality
for all, special privilege for none."
The law of force will yield to the rule of numbers.
Socialism, disappointed of its Utopia, may then
repeat the familiar lesson and reproduce the
man-on-horseback, or the world may drop into another
abyss, and, after the ensuing "dark ages," like those
that swallowed Babylon and Tyre, Greece and
Rome, emerge with a new civilization and religion.
"Man never is, but always to be blessed." We
know not whence we came, or whither we go. Hope
that springs eternal in the human breast tells us
nothing. History seems, as Napoleon said, a series
of lies agreed upon, yet not without dispute.
I read in an ultra-sectional non-partisan diatribe
that "Jefferson Davis made Aaron Burr respectable,"
a sentence which clearly indicates that the
writer knew nothing either of Jefferson Davis or
Both have been subjected to unmeasured abuse.
They are variously misunderstood. Their chief sin
was failure; the one to establish an impossible
confederacy laid in human slavery, the other to achieve
certain vague schemes of empire in Mexico and the
far Southwest, which, if not visionary, were
The final collapse of the Southern Confederacy
can be laid at the door of no man. It was doomed
the day of its birth. The wonder is that sane leaders
could invoke such odds against them and that
a sane people could be induced to follow. The
single glory of the South is that it was able to
stand out so long against such odds.
Jefferson Davis was a high-minded and
well-intentioned man. He was chosen to lead the South
because he was, in addition, an accomplished
soldier. As one who consistently opposed him in his
public policies, I can specify no act to the
discredit of his character, his one serious mistake
failiure to secure the peace offered by
Abraham Lincoln two short months before
Taking account of their personalities and the
lives they led, there is little to suggest comparison,
except that they were soldiers and Senators, who,
each in his day, filled a foremost place in public
Aaron Burr, though well born and highly educated,
was perhaps a rudely-minded man. But he
was no traitor. If the lovely woman, Theodosia
Prevost, whom he married, had lived, there is
reason to believe that the whole course and tenor of
his career would have been altered. Her death was
an irreparable blow, as it were, a prelude to the
series of mischances that followed. The death of
their daughter, the lovely Theodosia Alston,
completed the tragedy of his checkered life.
Born a gentleman and attaining soldierly distinction
and high place, he fell a victim to the lure
of a soaring ambition and the devious experience
of a man about town.
The object of political proscription for all his
intellectual and personal resources, he could not
successfully meet and stand against it. There was
nothing in the affair with Hamilton actually to
damn and ruin him. Neither morally nor politically
was Hamilton the better man of the two.
Nor was there treason in his Mexican scheme. He
meant no more than Houston accomplished three
decades later, with universal acclaim. To couple
his name with Benedict Arnold's is historic sacrilege.
Jefferson pursued him relentlessly. But even
Jefferson could not have destroyed him. When,
after an absence of four years abroad, he returned
to America, there was still a future for him had he
stood up like a man, but, instead, like one
confessing defeat, he sank down, whilst the wave of
obloquy rolled over him.
His is one of the few pathetic figures in our
national history. Mr. Davis has had plenty of
defenders. Poor Burr has had scarcely an apologist.
His offense, whatever it was, has been overpaid.
Even the War of Sections begins to fade into the
mist and become dreamlike even to those who bore
an actual part in it.
The years are gliding swiftly by. Only a little
while, and there shall not be one man living who
saw service on either side of that great struggle of
systems and ideas. Its passions long ago vanished
from manly bosoms. That has come to pass within
a single generation in America which in Europe
required ages to accomplish.
There is no disputing the verdict of events. Let
us relate them truly and interpret them fairly. If
the South would have the North do justice to its
heroes, the South must do justice to the heroes of
the North. Each must render unto Cæsar the
things that are Cæsar's even as each would render
unto God the things that are God's. As living men,
standing erect in the presence of Heaven and the
world, the men of the South have grown gray without
being ashamed; and they need not fear that History
will fail to vindicate their integrity.
When those are gone that fought the battle, and
Posterity comes to strike the balance, it will be
shown that the makers of the Constitution left the
relation of the States to the Federal Government
and of the Federal Government to the States open
to a double construction. It will be told how the
mistaken notion that slave labor was requisite to
the profitable cultivation of sugar, rice and cotton,
raised a paramount property interest in the Southern
section of the Union, whilst in the Northern
section, responding to the trend of modern thought
and the outer movements of mankind, there arose
a great moral sentiment against slavery. The
conflict thus established, gradually but surely
sectionalizing party lines, was as inevitable as it was
irrepressible. It was fought out to its bitter and
logical conclusion at Appomattox. It found us
a huddle of petty sovereignties, held together by
a rope of sand. It made and it left us a Nation.
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SECOND
A WAR EPISODE - I MEET MY FATE - I MARRY AND
MAKE A HOME - THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE
LEAD TO A HAPPY OLD AGE.
IN bringing these desultory - perhaps too
fragmentary - recollections to a close the writer may
not be denied his final word. This shall neither be
self-confident nor overstated; the rather a confession
of faith somewhat in rejection of political and
religious pragmatism. In both his experience has
been ample if not exhaustive. During the period
of their serial publication he has received many
letters - suggestive, informatory and critical - now
and again querulous - which he has not failed to
consider, and, where occasion seemed to require, to
pursue to original sources in quest of accuracy. In
no instance has he found any essential error in his
narrative. Sometimes he has been charged with
omissions - as if he were writing a history of his
own times - whereas he has been only, and he fears,
most imperfectly, relating his immediate personal
I was born in the Presbyterian Church, baptized
in the Roman Catholic Church, educated in the
Church of England in America and married into
the Church of the Disciples. The Roman Catholic
baptism happened in this way: It was my second
summer; my parents were sojourning in the household
of a devout Catholic family; my nurse was a
fond, affectionate Irish Catholic; the little life was
almost despaired of, so one sunny day, to rescue
me from that form of theologic controversy known
as infant damnation, the baby carriage was trundled
round the corner to Saint Matthew's Church
- it was in the national capital - and the baby brow
was touched with holy water out of a font blessed
of the Virgin Mary. Surely I have never felt or
been the worse for it.
Whilst I was yet too young to understand I
witnessed an old-fashioned baptism of the countryside.
A person who had borne a very bad character
in the neighborhood was being immersed.
Some one, more humorous than reverent, standing
near me, said as the man came to the surface,
"There go his sins, men and brethren, there go his
sins"; and having but poor eyesight I thought I
saw them passing down the stream never to trouble
him, or anybody, more. I can see them still floating,
floating down the stream, out and away from
the sight of men. Does this make me a Baptist, I
I fear not, I fear not; because I am unable to rid
myself of the impression that there are many roads
leading to heaven, and I have never believed in what
is called close communion. I have not hated and
am unable to hate any man because either in political
or in religious opinion he differs from me and
insists upon voting his party ticket and worshiping
his Creator according to his conscience. Perfect
freedom of conscience and thought has been my
I suppose I must have been born an insurrecto.
Pursuing the story of the dark ages when men were
burnt at the stake for the heresy of refusing to
bow to the will of the majority, it is not the voice
of the Protestant or the Catholic that issues from
the flames and reaches my heart, but the cry of
suffering man, my brother. To me a saint is a saint
whether he wears wooden shoes or goes barefoot,
whether he gets his baptism silently out of a font
of consecrated water or comes dripping from the
depths of the nearest brook, shouting, "Glory
hallelujah!" From my boyhood the persecution of
man for opinion's sake - and no matter for what
opinion's sake - has roused within me the only devil
I have ever personally known.
My reading has embraced not a few works which
seek or which affect to deal with the mystery of life
and death. Each and every one of them leaves a
mystery still. For all their learning and research
- their positivity and contradiction - none of the
writers know more than I think I know myself,
and all that I think I know myself may be abridged
to the simple rescript, I know nothing. The wisest
of us reek not whence we came or whither we
go; the human mind is unable to conceive the eternal
in either direction; the soul of man inscrutable
even to himself.
The night has a thousand eyes,
The day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
The heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.
All that there is to religion, therefore, is faith;
not much more in politics. We are variously told
that the church is losing its hold upon men. If it
be true it is either that it gives itself over to
theology - the pride of opinion - or yields itself to the
celebration of the mammon of unrighteousness.
I do not believe that it is true. Never in the
history of the world was Jesus of Nazareth so
interesting and predominant. Between Buddha,
teaching the blessing of eternal sleep, and Christ,
teaching the blessing of eternal life, mankind has been
long divided, but slowly, surely, the influence of the
Christ has overtaken that of the Buddha until that
portion of the world which has advanced most by
process of evolution from the primal state of man
now worships at the shrine of Christ and him risen
from the dead, not at the sign of Buddha and total
The blessed birthright from God, the glory of
heaven, the teaching and example of the Prince of
Peace - have been engulfed beneath oceans of
ignorance and superstition through two thousand years
of embittered controversy. During the dark ages
coming down even to our own time the very light
of truth was shut out from the eyes and hearts and
minds of men. The blood of the martyrs we were
assured in those early days was the seed of the
church. The blood of the martyrs was the blood
of man - weak, cruel, fallible man, who, whether he
got his inspiration from the Tiber or the Rhine,
from Geneva, from Edinburgh or from Rome, did
equally the devil's work in God's name. None of
the viceregents of heaven, as they claimed to be,
knew much or seemed to care much about the word
of the Gentle One of Bethlehem, whom they had
adopted as their titular divinity much as men in
commerce adopt a trade-mark.
It was knock-down and drag-out theology, the
ruthless machinery of organized churchism - the
rank materialism of things temporal - not the teachings
of Christ and the spirit of the Christian religion
- which so long filled the world with blood
I have often in talking with intelligent Jews
expressed a wonder that they should stigmatize the
most illustrious Jew as an impostor, saying to them:
"What matters it whether Jesus was of divine or
human parentage - a human being or an immortal
spirit? He was a Jew: a glorious, unoffending
Jew, done to death by a mob of hoodlums in
Jerusalem. Why should not you and I call him Master
and kneel together in love and pity at his feet?"
Never have I received any satisfying answer.
Partyism - churchism - will ever stick to its fetish.
Too many churches - or, shall I say, church fabrics
- breeding controversy where there should be
agreement, each sect and subdivision fighting phantoms
of its fancy. In the city that once proclaimed
itself eternal there is war between the Quirinal and
the Vatican, the government of Italy and the papal
hierarchy. In France the government of the
republic and the Church of Rome are at daggers-drawn.
Before the world-war England and Germany -
each claiming to be Protestant - were looking
on askance, irresolute, not as to which side
might be right and which wrong, but on which side
"is my bread to be buttered?" In America, where
it was said by the witty Frenchmen we have fifty
religions and only one soup, there are people who
think we should begin to organize to stop the threatened
coming of the Pope, and such like! "O Liberty,"
cried Madame Roland, "how many crimes
are committed in thy name!" "O Churchism," may
I not say, "how much nonsense is trolled off in thy
I would think twice before trusting the wisest
and best of men with absolute power; but I would
trust never any body of men - never any
Sanhedrim, consistory, church congress or party
convention - with absolute power. Honest men are
often led to do or to assent, in association, what they
would disdain upon their conscience and responsibility
En masse extremism generally
prevails, and extremism is always wrong; it is
the more wrong and the more dangerous because
it is rarely wanting for plausible sophistries,
furnishing congenial and convincing argument to the
mind of the unthinking for whatever it has to
Too many churches and too much partyism! It
is love - love through grace of God - truth where
we can find it - which shall irradiate the life that is.
If when we have prepared ourselves for the life to
come love be wanting, nothing else is much worth
while. Not alone the love of man for woman, but
the love of woman for woman and of man for man;
the divine fraternity taught us by the Sermon on
the Mount; the religion of giving, not of getting;
of whole-hearted giving; of joy in the love and the
joy of others.
Who giveth himself with his alms feeds three -
Himself, his hungering neighbor and Me.
For myself I can truthfully subscribe to the
formula: "I believe in God the Father Almighty;
Maker of heaven and earth. And Jesus Christ,
his only Son, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius
Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He
descended into hell, the third day He rose again from
the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at
the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from
thence He shall come to judge the quick and the
That is my faith. It is my religion. It was my
cradle song. It may not be, dear ones of contrariwise
beliefs, your cradle song or your belief, or your
religion. What boots it? Can you discover
another in word and deed, in luminous, far-reaching
power of speech and example, to walk by the side
of this the Anointed One of your race and of my
As the Irish priest said to the British prelate
touching the doctrine of purgatory: "You may go
further and fare worse, my lord," so may I say to
my Jewish friends - "Though the stars in their
courses lied to the Wise Men of the desert, the
bloody history of your Judea, altogether equal in
atrocity to the bloody history of our Christendom,
has yet to fulfill the promise of a Messiah - and
were it not well for those who proclaim themselves
God's people to pause and ask, 'Has He not arisen
I would not inveigh against either the church or
its ministry; I would not stigmatize temporal
preaching; I would have ministers of religion as
free to discuss the things of this world as the
statesmen and the journalists; but with this difference:
That the objective point with them shall be the
regeneration of man through grace of God and not
the winning of office or the exploitation of parties
and newspapers. Journalism is yet too unripe to do
more than guess at truth from a single side. The
statesman stands mainly for political organism.
Until he dies he is suspect. The pulpit remains
therefore still the moral hope of the universe and
the spiritual light of mankind.
It must be nonpartisan. It must be nonprofessional.
It must be manly and independent. But
it must also be worldy-wise, not artificial,
sympathetic, broad-minded and many-sided, equally
ready to smite wrong in high places and to kneel
by the bedside of the lowly and the poor.
I have so found most of the clergymen I have
known, the exceptions too few to remember. In
spite of the opulence we see about us let us not
take to ourselves too much conceit. May every
pastor emulate the virtues of that village preacher
of whom it was written that:
from his lips prevailed with double sway,
fools who came to scoff, remained to pray.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
man he was to all the country dear,
passing rich with forty pounds a year.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
house was known to all the vagrant train,
chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain;
long-remembered beggar was his guest,
beard descending swept his aged breast;
ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
by the fire, and talked the night away;
o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done,
his crutch, and showed how fields were
with his guests, the good man learned to
quite forgot their vices in their woe;
their merits or their faults to scan,
pity gave ere charity began.
I have lived a long life - rather a happy and a
busy than a merry one - enjoying where I might,
but, let me hope I may fairly claim, shirking no
needful labor or duty. The result is some accretions
to my credit. It were, however, ingratitude
and vanity in me to set up exclusive ownership of
these. They are the joint products and property
of my dear wife and myself.
I do not know just what had befallen if love had
failed me, for as far back as I can remember love
has been to me the bedrock of all that is worth
living for, striving for or possessing in this
cross-patch of a world of ours.
I had realized the meaning of it in the beautiful
concert of affection between my father and mother,
who lived to celebrate their golden wedding. My
wife and I have enjoyed now the like conjugal
felicity fifty-four - counted to include two years of
betrothal, fifty-six years. Never was a young
fellow more in love than I - never has love been more
richly rewarded - yet not without some heartbreaking
I met the woman who was to become my wife
during the War of Sections - amid its turmoil and
peril - and when at its close we were married, at
Nashville, Tennessee, all about us was in mourning,
the future an adventure. It was at Chattanooga,
the winter of 1862-63, that fate brought us
together and riveted our destinies. She had a fine
contralto voice and led the church choir. Doctor
Palmer, of New Orleans, was on a certain Sunday
well into the long prayer of the Presbyterian
service. Bragg's army was still in middle Tennessee.
There was no thought of an attack. Bang! Bang!
Then the bursting of a shell too close for comfort.
Bang! Bang! Then the rattle of shell fragments
on the roof. On the other side of the river the
Yankees were upon us.
The man of God gave no sign that anything
unusual was happening. He did not hurry. He
did not vary the tones of his voice. He kept on
praying. Nor was there panic in the congregation,
which did not budge.
That was the longest long prayer I ever heard.
When it was finally ended, and still without changing
a note the preacher delivered the benediction,
the crowded church in the most orderly manner
moved to the several doorways.
I was quick to go for my girl. By the time we
reached the street the firing had become general.
We had to traverse quite half a mile of it before
attaining a place of safety. Two weeks later we
were separated for nearly two years, when, the war
over, we found ourselves at home again.
In the meantime her father had fallen in the fight,
and in the far South I had buried him. He was
one of the most eminent and distinguished and
altogether the best beloved of the Tennesseeans of his
day, Andrew Ewing, who, though a Democrat, had
in high party times represented the Whig Nashville
district in Congress and in the face of assured
election declined the Democratic nomination for
governor of the state. A foremost Union leader in the
antecedent debate, upon the advent of actual war
he had reluctantly but resolutely gone with his state
The intractable Abolitionists of the North and
the radical Secessionists of the South have much
historically to answer for. The racial warp and
woof in the United States were at the outset of
our national being substantially homogeneous.
That the country should have been geographically
divided and sectionally set by the ears over the
institution of African slavery was the work of
agitation that might have attained its ends by less
How often human nature seeking its bent prefers
the crooked to the straight way ahead! The
North, having in its ships brought the negroes from
Africa and sold them to the planters of the South,
putting the money it got for them in its pocket,
turned philanthropist. The South, having bought
its slaves from the slave traders of the North under
the belief that slave labor was requisite to the profitable
production of sugar, rice and cotton, stood by
property-rights lawfully acquired, recognized and
guaranteed by the Constitution. Thence arose an
irrepressible conflict of economic forces and moral
ideas whose doubtful adjustment was scarcely
worth what it cost the two sections in treasure and
On the Northern side the issue was made
to read freedom, on the Southern side, self-defense.
Neither side had any sure law to coerce the other.
Upon the simple right and wrong of it each was
able to establish a case convincing to itself. Thus
the War of Sections, fought to a finish so gallantly
by the soldiers of both sides, was in its origination
largely a game of party politics.
The extremists and doctrinaires who started the
agitation that brought it about were relatively few
in number. The South was at least defending its
own. That what it considered its rights in the
Union and the Territories being assailed it should
fight for aggressively lay in the nature of the situation
and the character of the people. Aggression
begot aggression, the unoffending negro, the
provoking cause, a passive agent. Slavery is gone.
The negro we still have with us. To what end?
Life indeed is a mystery - a hopelessly unsolved
problem. Could there be a stronger argument in
favor of a world to come than may be found in the
brevity and incertitude of the world that is? Where
this side of heaven shall we look for the court of
last resort? Who this side of the grave shall be sure
At this moment the world having reached what
seems the apex of human achievement is topsy-turvy
and all agog. Yet have we the record of any
moment when it was not so? That to keep what
we call the middle of the road is safest most of us
believe. But which among us keeps or has ever
kept the middle of the road? What else and what
next? It is with nations as with men. Are we on
the way to another terrestrial collapse, and so on
ad infinitum to the end of time?
The home which I pictured in my dreams and
projected in my hopes came to me at last. It
arrived with my marriage. Then children to bless
it. But it was not made complete and final - a
veritable Kentucky home - until the all-round,
all-night work which had kept my nose to the
grindstone had been shifted to younger shoulders I was
able to buy a few acres of arable land far out in the
county - the County of Jefferson! - and some ancient
brick walls, which the feminine genius to which
I owe so much could convert to itself and tear apart
and make over again. Here "the sun shines bright"
as in the song, and -
corn tops ripe and the meadows in the bloom
birds make music all the day.
They waken with the dawn - a feathered orchestra -
incessant, fearless - for each of its pieces
- from the sweet trombone of the dove to the shrill
clarionet of the jay - knows that it is safe. There
are no guns about. We have with us, and have
had for five and twenty years, a family of colored
people who know our ways and meet them intelligently
and faithfully. When we go away - as we
do each winter and sometimes during the other
seasons - and come again - dinner is on the table, and
everybody - even to Tigue and Bijou, the dogs -
is glad to see us. Could mortal ask for more? And
so let me close with the wish of my father's old song
come true - the words sufficiently descriptive of the
In the downhill of life when I find I'm declining,
May my fate no less fortunate be
Than a snug elbow chair can afford for reclining
And a cot that o'erlooks the wide sea -
A cow for my dairy, a dog for my game,
And a purse when my friend needs to borrow;
I'll envy no nabob his riches, nor fame,
Nor the honors that wait him to-morrow.
And when at the close I throw off this frail cov'ring
I've worn for three-score years and
the brink of the grave I'll not seek to keep
Nor my thread wish to spin o'er again.
But my face in the glass I'll serenely survey,
with smiles count each wrinkle and
this worn-out old stuff which is thread-bare
Shall become everlasting to-morrow.