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Full text of "Recollections of a busy life"

Knjraved expressly f6i-I>colkctions of 4 Busy i.ile" J.B.FordSc C9 Riilishers. N T. 



KECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE 




BY 



HORACE GREELEY 




NEW YORK 
J. B. FORD AND COMPANY 

PRINTING-HOUSE SQUARE 
1868 




Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1868, by 
HORACE GREELEY, 

in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of 
New York. 



UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, & Co., 
CAMBRIDGE, 



EECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE: 



INCLUDING 

EEMINISCENCES OF AMERICAN POLITICS 
AND POLITICIANS, 

FROM THE OPENING OF THE MISSOURI CONTEST TO THE 
DOWNFALL OF SLAVERY; 

TO WHICH ARE ADDED 

MISCELLANIES: 

"LITERATURE AS A VOCATION," "POETS AND POETRY," "REFORMS AND 
REFORMERS," A DEFENCE OF PROTECTION, ETC., ETC. 

ALSO, 

A DISCUSSION WITH ROBERT DALE OWEN OF 
THE LAW OF DIVORCE. 



BY HOEACE GKEELEY. 



NEW YORK 
J. B. FORD AND COMPANY 

PRINTING-HOUSE SQUARE 
1868 



TO 

OUR AMERICAN BOYS, 

WHO, 

BORN IN POVERTY, CRADLED IN OBSCURITY, AND EARLY CALLED 
FROM SCHOOL TO RUGGED LABOR, 

ARE SEEKING 

TO CONVERT OBSTACLE INTO OPPORTUNITY, AND WREST 
ACHIEVEMENT FROM DIFFICULTY, 

2Tl)ese Recollections 

ARE REGARDFULLY INSCRIBED BY 

THEIR AUTHOR. 



PUBLISHERS CIRCULAR. 



THE book herewith presented to the public is a collection 
of the series of articles originally published by MR. 
GREELEY in the New York Ledger, bearing, as now, the ac 
curately descriptive title, " RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE." 
Revised, and in part rewritten, by the author, and enriched 
by the addition of much original matter, it is believed that 
these autobiographical reminiscences will be, not only enter 
taining and attractive to the casual reader, but of perma 
nent value to all students of the times we live in. They 
form a record of the inner life and inspiration of one who 
has actively shared in the many strange intellectual and 
political phases through which America has gone during 
the past thirty years of intense vitality. MR. GREELEY 
himself gives the best indication of their nature : "I shall 
never write anything else into which I shall put so much of 
myself, my experiences, notions, convictions, and modes of 
thought, as these Recollections. I give, with small reserve, 
my mental history." 

Whatever view may be taken of HORACE GREELEY s opin 
ions and teachings, all will concede that he has been, and 
is, a man of untiring industry, of strong convictions, of con 
tinual and immense intellectual activity, and of wide-spread 
influence. Laboring in the metropolis of the country, he 
has there planted and nurtured with his own life a journal 
whose political and social ideas have been powerful in 



Viii PUBLISHERS CIRCULAR. 

affecting the public mind beyond any other one agency ; 
and he himself, intimately associated as he has been with 
all the great men and great events of the time, is a singu 
larly interesting character. The mental history of such a 
man, and the varied reminiscences of his life and experi 
ence, cannot fail to attract the attention and excite the 
interest of all who take any pains to understand the history 
of the day ; while the practical hints to young men, and 
the familiar chat about political, literary, agricultural, so 
cial, and personal topics contained in the book, must make 
it welcome to the general reader. 

Of the illustrations, the views of MR. GREELEY S various 
homes, &c., it is only necessary to say that they have been 
engraved from the most authentic sources, generally pho 
tographs. The fine portrait of Mr. GREELEY is engraved on 
steel by MR. J. ROGERS, and that of the accomplished and 
lamented MARGARET FULLER is from the artistic hand of 
MR. W. J. LINTON, whose personal remembrance of that 
gifted lady has been aided by an excellent portrait. In 
every way, the publishers have endeavored to make the 
book one attainable and desirable by all, and feel sure that 
it will prove its own best commendation. 



APOLOGY. 



r I ^HESE Eecollections owe their existence wholly to an 
-- impulse external to their author, who, of his own 
choice, writes on many topics, himself not included. When, 
years ago, he was introduced to Mr. James Parton, and ap 
prised that he had been chosen, by that gentleman, as the 
subject of a biographic volume, he said that every person 
whose career was in some sense public was a fair subject 
for public comment and criticism, but that he could not 
furnish materials for, nor in any wise make himself a party 
to, the undertaking. As it had never occurred to him that 
he should have time and inclination to write concerning 

o 

himself, he had never saved even a scrap with reference to 
such contingency; and he has chosen not to avail himself 
of Mr. Partoii s labors, in order that the following chapters 
should, so far as possible, justify their title of Eecollections. 

Mr. Eobert Bonner is justly entitled to the credit (or other 
wise) of having called these Eecollections into tangible (even 
though fleeting) existence. He had previously invited me 
to write for his Ledger, and had paid me liberally for so 
doing; but our engagement and intimacy had long ceased, 
when, on the occasion of the hubbub incited by my bailing 
of Jefferson Davis, he reopened a long-suspended corre 
spondence, and once more urged me to write for his columns ; 
suggesting a series of autobiographic reminiscences, which 



X . APOLOGY. 

I at first flatly declined to furnish. On mature reflection, 
however, I perceived that he had proffered me opportunity 
to commend to many thousands, of mainly young persons, 
convictions which are a part of my being, and conceptions 
of public events and interests which might never so fairly 
invoke their attention if I repelled this opportunity; and 
that, therefore, I ought not to reject it. Hence, I soon re 
called my hasty negative, apprised him that I would accept 
his offer, and immediately commenced writing, as I could 
snatch time from other pressing duties, the Recollections 
herewith printed. That they are less personal and more 
political than Mr. Bonner would have wished them, I was 
early aware ; yet he allowed all but two of them to appear, 
and to have the post of honor in successive issues of his 
excellent and widely circulated periodical. I have added 
somewhat, however, to nearly half of them, in revising them 
for publication in this shape ; but the reader who may note 
the discrepancy will be so just as to attribute it to the 
proper source. In a single instance only, was I requested 
by Mr. Bonner to change an expression in one of the num 
bers he published ; and therein he was clearly right, as I 
instantly conceded. 

The papers which I have chosen to add to my Recollec 
tions, in giving them this permanent form, embody my 
| views on certain topics which I was not able to present 
so fully in my contributions to The Ledger, yet which I 
hoped would reward the attention of most readers. That in 
m which Protection is explained and commended was printed 
as it was hurriedly written more than twenty-five years 
ago ; I present it now, without the change of a sentence, 
, as a statement of views contemptuously rejected by most 
writers on Political Economy in our day, who never really 



APOLOGY. xi 

gave them consideration or thought. That they deserve a 
different and more respectful treatment, I profoundly be 
lieve : the public must judge between me and their con- 
temners. 

I hope to be spared to write hereafter a fuller and more 
systematic exposition of Political Economy from the Protec 
tionist stand-point ; and I do not expect henceforth to write 
or print any other work whatever. If, then, my friends will 
accept the essays which conclude this volume as a part of 
my mental biography, I respectfully proffer this book as my 
account of all of myself that is worth their consideration; 
and I will cherish the hope that some portion, at least, of 
its contents embody lessons of persistency and patience 
which will not have been set forth in vain. 

The controversy with Mr. Eobert Dale Owen respecting 
Marriage and Divorce, which is printed at the end of the 
volume, was wholly unpremeditated on my part, yet I had 
so clearly, though unintentionally, provoked Mr. Owen s first 
letter, that I could not refuse to print it ; and I could not 
suffer it to appear without a reply. My strictures incited a 
response; and so the discussion ran on, till each had said 
what seemed to him pertinent on a subject of wide and en 
during interest. Before my last letter was printed, Mr. 
Owen, presuming that I had closed, had prepared those al 
ready in print for issue in a pamphlet, which accordingly 
appeared. The whole first appear together in this volume; 
and I trust it will be found that their interest has not ex 
haled during the eight years that have elapsed since they 
were written. 

H. a. 

NEW YORK, September 1, 1868. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 
I. A SAMPLE OF THE SCOTCH-IRISH . . . . . . .17 

II. OUR FOLKS AT LONDONDERRY . . . ... . 23 

" THE TIMES THAT TRIED MEN S SOULS " . .... . 29 

IV. RURAL NEW ENGLAND FIFTY YEARS AGO . . . . 34 

V. MY EARLY SCHOOL-DAYS . . .- .-. . . . 41 

VI. ADIEU TO NEW HAMPSHIRE . . . . . . . 48 

VTI. WESTHAVEN . . ... . . . . .54 

VIII. MY APPRENTICESHIP . . . . . . ... 61 

MY FAITH ...... . . . . . 68 

X. A YEAR BY LAKE ERIE . .... . . . 75 

XL MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN NEW YORK . . . . .83 

XII. GETTING INTO BUSINESS . . 91 

XIII. TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS . .98 

XIV. POLITICS ........ . . . 106 

XV. PLAY-DAYS . & 114 

XVI. TRIUMPH .. .-. ... . . . . . 122 

XVII. LOG-CABIN DAYS . . . 129 

XVIII. THE TRIBUNE . 136 

SOCIALISM . . . . . . . . . .144 

SOCIALISTIC EFFORTS . . . 151 

XXI. HARRY CLAY 159 

XXII. MARGARET FULLER . . . . . . . . . 169 

XXIH. BEGGARS AND BORROWERS , 192 



xiv CONTENTS. 

XXIV. DRAMATIC MEMORIES . . . . , . ... 200 

XXV. " OLD ZACK " 207 

XXVI. CONGRESS. MILEAGE . . . . . . . . . 216 

XXVII. CONGRESS AS IT WAS 225 

XXVIII. GLAMOUR 234 

XXIX. LAKE SUPERIOR. MINING. CHICAGO. THE PRAIRIES . 242 

XXX. THE GREAT SENATORS. THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 . . 250 

XXXI. LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS 260 

XXXII. EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION . . .-. . 268 

XXXIII. THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WHIG PARTY 276 

XXXIV. THE SLAVERY CONTROVERSY . . / ... . ... . 281 

XXXV. THE NEW ERA IN POLITICS . . . . . . . 289 

XXXVI. MY FARM ...... . . . . . 295 

XXXVII. MY FARMING ... . . . . . . .302 

XXXVIII. " SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY " 311 

XXXIX. EUROPE EEVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND . ... . 323 

XL. Two DAYS IN JAIL . ... ... . . 332 

XLI. " THE BANKS CONGRESS." THE LONG CONTEST FOR SPEAKER 345 

XLII. FREMONT. BUCHANAN. DOUGLAS . . . . . 353 

XLIII. A ElDE ACROSS THE PLAINS . . ... . . . 360 

XLIV. THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. THE GREAT BASIN ... 368 

XLV. UTAH. NEVADA . . . . ..... i . .374 

XL VI. THE SIERRA NEVADA. THE YOSEMITE. THE BIG TREES 379 

XL VII. THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA . . . .,.. . 384 

XLVIII. THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860 . . . . . 389 

XLIX. SECESSION, How CONFRONTED . . . . . . 396 

L. OUR CIVIL WAR, ACTUAL AND POSSIBLE . . . . 400 

LI. ABRAHAM LINCOLN . . . . . . . . . 404 

LII. JEFFERSON DAVIS 410 

LIII. AUTHORSHIP. WRITING HISTORY . . . . - . 417 

LIV. MY DEAD . . . . . . . . . . . 425 



CONTENTS. xv 

MISCELLANIES. 

LITERATURE AS A VOCATION 433 

POETS AND POETRY 460 

REFORMS AND REFORMERS 497 

HE GROUNDS OF PROTECTION 628 

SUNDRY LECTURING REMINISCENCES. 

A DAY S RIDE IN MAINE 654 

A RIDE ACROSS THE ALLEGHANIES 557 

A NlGHT-RlDE ACROSS THE PRAIRIES 560 

A WINTER FLOOD IN ILLINOIS 566 

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE : A DISCUSSION BETWEEN HORACE GREELEY V 
AND ROBERT DALE OWEN . . 



ANALYTICAL INDEX 619 




c^e^ S <^<^-~r 
i ^^c 




RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 



I. 

A SAMPLE OF THE SCOTCH-IRISH. 

T TESTER, the most northern of the four provinces into 
\~J which Ireland is pretty equally divided, being sepa 
rated but by a strait from the western coast of Scotland, was 
doubtless the recipient of emigration thence from time imme 
morial ; but, after the suppression, by Queen Elizabeth, of a 
bloody insurrection of the Celts under Hugh O Neil against 
English domination, a large area of the soil previously held 
by the insurgents was confiscated ; and " The Plantation of 
Ulster," with some English, but more Scotch emigrants, was 
effected under James I. More Celtic insurrections naturally 
followed ; that of 1641 being marked as especially murderous ; 
40,000 of the Protestant settlers in Ulster having been speed 
ily massacred, with small regard to age or sex. Eight years 
later, Cromwell, heading his terrible " Ironsides," swept resist- 
lessly over Ulster not only, but all Ireland, crushing out her 
resistance, and leaving in his track but blood, ashes, and 
ruins ; actually subjugating the entire island, for the first 
time, to British power, and confiscating four fifths of its soil. 
Forty years of such peace as subjugation can make was 
suddenly broken by the expulsion of James II. from the 
throne of England, mainly because of his Romanism, while 
Papal Ireland still clung to his falling throne, and resisted the 
accession of Dutch William and his wife Mary, daughter of 
James. Ulster, in so far as she was Scotch-English and 
Protestant, hailed with rapture the new rule ; while Catholic 
Ireland clung to James ; who, having fled to France, landed 

2 



18 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

thence at Kinsale, and was received with open arms. The 
Protestants of Ulster, unaccountably left to themselves, had 
already been nearly overrun by the French and Irish soldiers 
of James, who was eager to pass over to Scotland and recruit 
his forces from the Highlanders of that kingdom, who were 
already enrolled, under the banners of Grahame of Claverhouse, 
and eagerly awaiting their monarch s appearance. London 
derry (originally Berry, but re-named on being re-peopled, as 
above recited, under the patronage of a London company) for 
months stood up almost alone against the overwhelming forces 
of James, ably led by Eichard Hamilton, and finally by Con 
rad de Eosen. A poorly walled town of perhaps a thousand 
houses, garrisoned by a few drilled soldiers, and three or four 
thousand armed citizens, partly fugitives driven in from the 
surrounding country, who, wretchedly armed, and most scantily 
provided with ammunition, commanded for weeks by a traitor 
(Colonel Lundy), who did all he dared to betray them to their 
enemies, nevertheless defied the most desperate efforts of their 
besiegers, with the still more terrible assaults of famine ; and 
even their cowardly desertion by General Kirke, who was 
sent from England to relieve them with 5,000 men and a 
supply of provisions, but who recoiled with all his fleet with 
out even seriously attempting to succor the famishing, heroic 
city. Yet the sorely disappointed and distressed Protestants, 
so far from despairing, resolved, five days afterward, that no 
man, on penalty of death, should propose a surrender, and 
fought on, eating horses, dogs, cats, rats, salted hides and 
tallow, while scores died of absolute starvation, until not two 
days subsistence remained, or only nine lean horses in all, 
and one pint of meal per man, when, on the 28th of July, 
1690, a frigate and two transports ran up the Foyle past the 
enemy s batteries, and, sadly peppered and cut up, anchored 
at the quay, the transports laden with provisions. 

Of 7,500 men enrolled for the defence at the outset, but 4,300 
survived ; and one fourth of these were disabled. That night 
James s army raised the siege, in which they had lost more 
than 8,000 men ; and the signal defeat of their monarch by 



A SAMPLE OF THE SCOTCH-IRISH. 19 

his son-in-law in the battle of the Boyne, a few days before, 
was speedily followed by the utter overthrow and expulsion 
of the former. Londonderry had saved the kingdom, and 
enabled William to fight the decisive battle under auspices 
far more favorable than if James had been allowed to cross 
into Scotland, and add the Highland clans and their great 
leader to the army wherewith he struggled for his crown. 

A quarter of a century had elapsed. William and Mary 
were dead ; so was their sister and successor, Anne ; George I. 
had been called from Hanover to the throne ; when a new 
migration was meditated and resolved on by a goodly company 
of the " Scotch-Irish " of Londonderry and its neighborhood. 
They were rigid Presbyterians, of the school of Knox ; the 
faith and observances of their Celtic neighbors were exceed 
ingly repugnant to them, and those of the Protestant Epis 
copal Church by law established, little less so. Acts of Uni 
formity and other prelatical devices bore hardly upon them ; 
they resolved to seek homes where they would enjoy absolute 
religious freedom. Sending out to New England a young 
Mr. Holmes to examine and inquire, they were incited by his 
report to take the decisive step ; and a considerable portion 
of four Presbyterian societies (one of them that of Holmes s 
father), resolved to cross the Atlantic. Early in 1718 they de 
spatched Rev. William Boyd with an address to Governor Shute, 
of Massachusetts, signed by 217 of their number, of whom 
210 attached their names in fair, legible chirography ; nine of 
them being clergymen. The Governor s response was such that 
the colony, on receiving it, took passage on five small vessels, 
landing at Boston, August 4, 1718. Months were now wasted 
in seeking, in different lands, a location, the ensuing Winter 
being passed with great privation and suffering by twenty fami 
lies of these explorers, near Falmouth, now Portland, Maine, 
where they were saved from starving by a donation of one 
hundred bushels of Indian meal from the Massachusetts Gen 
eral Court. 

But Spring at length opened. The colonists, returning from 
Casco Bay, dissatisfied with their experience in that quarter, 



20 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

entered the mouth of the Merrimac, and ascended it to Haver- 
hill; where they heard of an inviting tract of wilderness, 
known as Nutfield, from the abundance of its indigenous 
chestnut, butternut, and hickory trees. Leaving their families 
at Haverhill, the men visited this tract, some fifteen miles 
northward ; and, having found it worth their taking, they 
located thereon their grant from Governor Shute of any twelve 
miles square of unoccupied land which they should select 
within the boundaries of his colony, to find, ultimately, that 
their Canaan was not in Massachusetts, but New Hampshire, 
and their grant, consequently, of no use. As many, if not 
most of them, including nearly all their leaders, had borne 
part in the defence of the Protestant stronghold of their native 
land, they, in memory thereof, discarded the name of Nutfield, 
and were, in 1722, incorporated under that of LONDONDERRY. 
Having hastily erected a few huts of logs, the pioneers 
returned to Haverhill for their families ; the day of whose 
arrival April 11 (old style), 1719 is regarded as that on 
which their settlement was founded. Eev. James McGregor, 
their chosen pastor, preached (from Isa. xxxii. 2) next day, 
under a great oak, the first sermon ever listened to in that 
locality. When he had left to seek his family in Dracut, but 
sixteen sturdy pioneers and their families remained ; and 
these, for mutual defence against Indians, were located but 
thirty rods apart, facing a brook ; each lot being a mile in 
depth, or sixty acres in area. But two stone houses of refuge, 
in case of attack, were soon built, affording some security 
against savage incursions ; and the town was finally laid off 
into lots, each sixty rods wide on the road it fronted, and a 
mile deep, making each allotment one hundred and twenty 
acres. Such were the dimensions of the tract on " the High 
Eange," allotted, in 1721, to my mother s grandfather, John 
Woodburn, and which was by his industry transformed into 
the farm whereon she was born, and which is to day the 
property of her youngest and only surviving brother, John,* 

* Since this was first printed he has deceased, aged 72 ; but the farm de 
scends to his numerous children. 



A SAMPLE OF THE SCOTCH-IRISH. 21 

now about 70 years old. The first framed house, wherein she 
was born, was superseded, about 1800, by that wherein she 
was married, and whence I first went to school, which is now 
the family homestead. No price was ever paid for the Wood- 
burn farm, nor has a deed of it ever been given. 

Though the infant settlement of Londonderry was rapidly 
augmented, not only by the nocking thither of the original 
colonists (whose sixteen families in April had thus been 
swelled to seventy by September), but by continuous acces 
sions of relatives and friends from the old country, yet brave 
men long ploughed and sowed with a loaded gun standing as 
handy as might be, and with a sharp eye on the adjacent 
woods ; and they never went to " meeting "^ on Sunday with 
out carrying their trusty weapon, first seeing that it was in 
good order. Nay, their spiritual teacher and guide for months 
regularly entered his pulpit musket in hand, and, having 
cocked it and carefully scrutinized the priming, sat it down 
in one comer, and devoutly addressed himself to the ever- 
living God. His influence with the Marquis de Vaudreuil, 
then French Governor of Canada, who had been his classmate 
at college, and with whom he still maintained a friendly cor 
respondence, was supposed to have averted from his charge the 
savage attacks by which so many frontier towns were desolated. 

Mr. McGregor died in 1729, and was succeeded by Rev. 
Matthew Clark, a patriarch who now came out from Ireland 
on purpose, and whose memory deserves a paragraph. He 
never ate flesh, but said nothing on the subject ; and his absti 
nence was regarded as an idle whim, until one day when my 
great-grandmother (his niece, as I remember), then a young girl 
and an inmate of his house, saw the pot wherein the family 
dinner was cooking boil over into the smaller vessel wherein 
was boiling his frugal mess of greens. Supposing this of no 
consequence, she said nothing until the family being seated 
at the table, and its head having said grace and taken his 
first mouthful he was observed to fall back insensible and 
apparently dying. Recovering his consciousness after a few 
moments, he calmed the general excitement by saying, " It is 



22 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

nothing a trifle I shall be well directly only a little of 
the water from your meat has boiled over into my greens." 
He had been a lieutenant in the famous Siege, wherein he 
was wounded in the temple by a ball, which injured a bone 
so that it never healed; and, though a devoted evangelist, 
could never forget that he had been a soldier. Once, while 
acting as Moderator of an assembled Presbytery, the music of 
a marching company was heard, when his attention was 
wholly absorbed by it. Being repeatedly called to give heed 
to the grave business in hand, his steady reply was, "Nae 
business while I hear the roll of the drum." When death 
came to him at seventy-six years of age, and after forty years 
of blameless ministry, he said to sympathizing friends, " I 
have a last request which must not be denied." " What is it, 
Father Clark ? " " Let me be borne to my rest by my brother 
soldiers in the Siege, and let them fire a parting volley over 
my grave ! " The military parade was conceded ; but, accord 
ing to my mother s tradition, the volley, though promised, was 
withheld ; it being deemed indecorous and unsuitable that so 
holy a man should be indulged in a dying freak so unbe 
coming his cloth. 



II. 

I 

OUR FOLKS AT LONDONDERRY. 

THE current notion that the Puritans were a sour, morose, 
ascetic people objecting, as Macaulay says, to bear- 
baiting, not that it gave pain to the bear, but that it gave 
pleasure to the spectator is not justified by my recollections, 
nor by the traditions handed down through my mother. The 
pioneers of Londonderry were so thoroughly Puritan that, 
while their original framed and well-built meeting-house was 
finished and occupied in the third year of the settlement, 
when there were none other but log huts in the township, 
nearly a century elapsed before any other than a Presbyterian 
or Orthodox Congregational sermon was preached therein, and 
nobody that was anybody adhered to any rival church, down 
to a period within the memory of persons still living. " The 
Westminster SJwrter Catechism " a rather tough digest of 
Calvinistic theology, which aroused my infantile wonder as 
to what a dreadful bore its longer counterpart must be was, 
within my experience, regularly administered to us young 
sters once a week, as a portion of our common-school regimen ; 
and we were required to affirm that " God having, out of his 
mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to ever 
lasting life," &c., &c., as though it were next of kin to the 
proposition that two and two make four. If there was any 
where a community strictly, thoroughly Puritan, such was 
Londonderry down to at least 1800, as she mainly is to-day. 
And yet there was more humor, more play, more fun, more 
merriment, in that Puritan community, than can be found 
anywhere in this anxious, plodding age. All were measurably 



24 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

poor, yet seldom were any hungry ; all wore coarse clothes, 
made in utter contempt of the fashions which, in the course 
of three or four years, had made their way from Paris to 
Boston ; yet lads and lasses were as comely in each other s 
eyes, though clad in coarse homespun, as if they had been ar 
rayed in purple and fine linen, and redolent of lavender and 
patchouli: and they danced with each other through long 
winter nights with a vigor and zest rarely evinced at Almack s 
or in Fifth Avenue mansions. Their weddings were far more 
numerously attended and more expensive than are the average 
in our day ; for not to be invited was an affront, as it implied 
discredit or insignificance ; and all who were invited expected 
to eat and drink bountifully of the best that could be had. 
A general discharge of musketry throughout the neighbor 
hood ushered in a wedding-day ; and the bridegroom s party, 
starting from his house, was met by the bride s at a point half 
way to hers, when one of each party was chosen to " run for 
the bottle " to the bride s house ; and whichever won the race 
returned with the prize to the waiting assembly; which, 
having drunk all around, proceeded, under a dropping fire of 
musketry, to their destination ; where the ceremony having 
been duly performed drinking was resumed, and continued, 
with alternate feasting and dancing, often till broad daylight. 
Nor was this the worst. Our ancestors had somehow caught 
from their Celtic neighbors, in the old country, despite their 
general antipathy, the infection of " wakes " ; and the house 
in which lay a corpse awaiting burial was often filled through 
the night with sympathizing friends, who, after due religious 
observances, proceeded to drown their sorrow in the strong 
drink supplied in abundance, whereby strange transformations 
were sometimes wrought from plaintive grief to exuberant, 
and even boisterous, hilarity. Funerals were attended by 
nearly every one who seasonably heard of them, and all would 
have felt insulted if not asked to drink at least twice ; while 
those who walked to the grave were entitled by usage to a 
third glass, and at least a lunch, on their return. As none- 
were yet rich, while many were quite poor on their arrival, 



OUR FOLKS AT LONDONDERRY. 25 

many families were absolutely impoverished by the expense 
imposed on them by the funeral of a deceased member ; while, 
if a wedding and a funeral occurred within a few months in 
a household, it could hardly escape ruin. Happily, living in 
frugal plenty, almost wholly on their own products, spending 
much of their time in vigorous exercise in the open air, and 
having but one doctor within call, they had great tenacity of 
life ; so that funerals were few and far between. 

The pioneers of Londonderry brought with them the Potato, 
which, despite its American origin, was hardly known in New 
England till they introduced it from Ireland, where it had 
already taken root and flourished. Some of them, having 
spent their first winter in America in a neighboring settle 
ment of Massachusetts, planted there a few of the valued 
tubers, which were duly tended by those to whom they were 
left ; but, the plants being matured, they gathered the seed- 
balls from the stalks and tried to cook them into edibility ; 
but by no boiling, baking, or roasting could they render them 
palatable ; and they gave it up that those Scotch-Irish had 
unaccountable tastes. 

Next Spring, however, when the garden was duly ploughed, 
the large, fair " murphies " were rolled out in generous abun 
dance, and, being dubiously tasted, were pronounced quite 
endurable. Like too many ignorant people, these novices in 
potato-eating had begun at the wrong end. They could never 
have made this mistake in Londonderry ; yet it is related that 
the first pound of tea ever seen there was received as a present 
from a Boston friend, and, being duly boiled as a vegetable, 
and served up as " greens," was unanimously pronounced de 
testable, and pitched out of doors. 

Flaxseed was brought from Ireland by the pioneers ; and 
the growth of flax and production of linen early became im 
portant elements of the industry and trade of Londonderry, 
though every operation, from the sowing of the seed to the 
bleaching of the cloth, was effected by the simplest manual 
labor ; and I can personally testify that " breaking flax," in 
the bad, old way, is the most execrably hard work to which a 



26 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

young boy can be set. A skilful, resolute man could hardly 
make laborer s wages at it now, if the raw material were given 
him. When the matrons of the town had a neighborhood 
gathering, tea, like coffee, being then happily unknown, 
each took her "little wheel" under her arm to the house 
whereto she had been invited, and the flow of conversation 
and gossip ran on for hours to a constant " whir, whir " of 
swiftly flying wheels. Whitney s Cotton Gin and Arkwright s 
Spinning Jenny have long since dismissed those wheels to 
the moles and the bats ; but, so late as 1819, my mother spun 
and wove a goodly roll of linen from the flax grown on our 
farm, bleaching it to adequate whiteness by spreading it on 
the aftermath of a meadow, and watering it thrice per day 
from a sprinkling-pot. 

Poor folks have their vanities as well as the rich. Most of 
the pioneers had been small farmers or artificers " at home " ; 
and the rude log huts, which were at first inevitable, seemed to 
many good wives to involve a sacrifice, not only of comfort, but 
of social standing. Hence it is related of the Morrisons, who 
were among the first settlers, that the good dame remonstrated 
against the contemplated homestead until assured that there 
was no help for it, when she acquiescingly entreated : "A-weel, 
a-weel, dear John, if it maun (must) be a log-house, make it a 
log heegher nor the lave " (a log higher that the rest). 

The settlers knew that their homespun garments (often of 
tow) contrasted strongly with the trim, dapper apparel of the 
polished denizens of more refined communities ; but they 
were not thereby disconcerted. Though Burns had not yet 
strung his immortal lyre, his spirit so flooded their log-cabins 
that he would have been welcomed and understood in any of 
them, but would have excited surprise in none. Thus it is 
related of the Eev. Matthew Clark, already mentioned, that, 
among the audience in attendance on his ministrations was 
once a young British military officer, whose scarlet uniform 
far outshone any rival habiliments, and so fixed the gaze of 
the young damsels present, that the wearer, enjoying the im 
pression he was making, not only stood through the prayer 



OUR FOLKS AT LONDONDERRY. 27 

with the rest, but remained standing after all others had sat 
down, until the pastor had proceeded for some time with his 
sermon. At length, noticing a divided attention and its cause, 
the minister stopped, laid aside his sermon, and, addressing his 
new hearer, said : " Ye re a braw (brave) lad ; ye ha e a braw 
suit of claithes, and we ha e a seen them : ye may sit doun." 
The lieutenant dropped as if shot, and the sermon was re 
sumed and concluded as though it had not been interrupted. 

Eev. E. L. Parker s " History of Londonderry," to which I am 
indebted for many facts, gives the following specimen of Mr. 
Clark s pulpit efforts. His theme was Peter s assurance that, 
though all others should forsake his Divine Master, he never 
would ; and this was a part of his commentary :- 

"Just like Peter aye mair forrit (forward) than wise; 
ounging swaggering aboot wi a sword at his side ; an a puir 
han he mad o it when he cam to the trial ; for he only cut 
off a chiel s lug (ear) ; an he ought to ha split doun his 



This was a gleam of the spirit evoked in the Siege of 

Derry. 

I fear I have nowise portrayed the perfect mingling of 
humor and piety in the prevalent type of our Scotch-Irish 
pioneers, all of them baptized in infancy, and growing up 
devoted members of the church, all hearing the Bible read, 
a hymn sung and a prayer offered, eaclTmorning at the family 
fireside, and these exercises repeated at night, so uniformly, 
that one of the early pastors, having learned that a parishioner 
had retired without invoking the throne of grace, forthwith 
repaired to his dwelling, called up the delinquent and his 
family, made them kneel and renew their devotions, and did 
not leave till they were finished ; and yet there was never a 
people who loved play better, or gave it more attention, than 
these. House-raisings, corn-huskings, and all manner of ex 
cuses for festive merry-making, were frequent, and generally 
improved ; games requiring strength, rather than skill, espe 
cially wrestling (with, I grieve to say, some boxing), were 
favorite pastimes ; and it is recorded of the pioneers of Peter- 



28 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

borough, N. H., one of the several swarms sent out by the 
parent hive in Londonderry, that, having cut each his hole 
in the great woods, and reared his log-cabin, a meeting was 
called to form a church, and generally attended. The object 
having been duly set forth, some one started the cavil : " I 
fear we are such a rough set so given to frolic and drink 
that we are not good enough to constitute a church " ; but he 
was instantly silenced by another, who, like a true Calvinist, 
observed : " Mr. Moderator, if it be the Lord s will that He 
should have a church in Peterborough, I am sure He will be 
willing to have it made up of such materials as there are." 
So it was. 

The present township of Londonderry embraces but a frac 
tion of the original town, whose 144 square miles have been 
sliced away to form the several townships of Derry, Wind- 
ham, and parts of others, until it now probably contains less 
than forty square miles. Though a railroad now crosses it, and 
accords it a station, it has no considerable village, no lawyer 
(I believe) ; its people nearly all live by farming, and own 
the land they cultivate ; three fourths of them were born 
where they live, and there expect to die. Some families of 
English lineage have gradually taken root among them ; but 
they are still mainly of the original Scotch-Irish stock, and 
even Celtic or German " help " is scarcely known to them. 
Simple, moral, diligent, God-fearing, the vices of modern civ 
ilization have scarcely penetrated their quiet homes; and, 
while those who with pride trace their origin to the old set 
tlement are numbered by thousands, and scattered all over 
our broad land, I doubt whether the present population of 
Londonderry exceeds in number that which tilled her fields, 
and hunted through her woods, fifty to sixty years ago. 



III. 

"THE TIMES THAT TRIED MEN S SOULS." 

THE Scotch-Irish founders of our Londonderry indignantly 
eschewed the characterization of "Irish," which was 
sometimes maliciously, but oftener ignorantly, applied to 
them ; stoutly insisting that, as stanch Protestants and 
zealous upholders of the Hanoverian succession, they should 
not be confounded with the savage and intractable Celtic 
Papists who were indigenous to Ireland. Devoted loyalty 
was their pride and boast, and was usefully evinced in the 
"Old French War," which lasted from 1756 to 1763, and 
effected a transfer of the Canadas from France to Great Britain ; 
yet the British assumption, directly thereafter, of a right to 
impose taxes on the Colonies, without their consent, was here 
early, promptly, zealously, persistently resisted; and the ti 
dings that Colonial blood had been shed by British soldiers at 
Lexington, Mass., on the 19th of April, 1775, operated like 
an electric shock on this rural, peace-loving community. 
Ten minutes after receiving it, JOHN STARK who had served 
with distinction in the recent French war stopped the saw 
mill in which he was at work, mounted his horse, and rode off 
to Cambridge, leaving directions for his neighbors to muster 
and follow. The two companies of Londonderry militia were 
immediately assembled, and, though many had already has 
tened to the scene of action, a full company the best blood 
of the township volunteered, choosing GEORGE KEED their 
captain. Six days after the Lexington fray, the two thousand 
New Hampshire men now confronting General Gage were 
organized by the convention sitting at Exeter into two regi- 



30 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

ments, with Stark and Eeed as their respective colonels. 
Another regiment from this thinly peopled colony was soon 
formed, under Colonel Poor ; but the left wing of our army, 
stationed near Medford, was composed of the two regiments 
commanded by Londonderry colonels ; and these, under Stark 
and Reed, were soon deputed to join the Connecticut men 
under Putnam, and a Massachusetts regiment under Prescott, 
in throwing up and holding the breastwork on Bunker s or 
Breed s Hill, in Charlestown, which the British assailed next 
day with such memorable consequences. Londonderry had 
130 men behind those slight defences. In the struggle for 
this position, the New Hampshire men lost 19 killed and 74 
wounded. 

The three New Hampshire regiments were detached from 
Washington s army to swell that which, in 1776, was organ 
ized in this State, under General Sullivan, for the conquest of 
Canada ; but which, having invaded that Province, by way of 
the Hudson and Lake Champlain, found itself outnumbered 
and compelled to retreat to Ticonderoga, losing a third of its 
number by sickness, privation, and exposure. Eejoining Gen 
eral Washington, Stark s regiment was conspicuous in the 
brilliant affair at Trenton, where it had the advance, and par 
ticipated in the succeeding actions at Princeton and at Spring 
field, K J. 

In the list of promotions made by Congress next Spring, 
Stark s name did not appear ; whereupon, lie promptly and 
indignantly resigned. But, on the alarm of Burgoyne s inva 
sion from Canada, soon afterward, a fresh appeal to the pa 
triotism of the people was made by the General Assembly of 
New Hampshire ; when Londonderry raised another company 
of seventy men, besides contributing liberally to existing 
organizations. In fact, there was nearly a levy en masse of 
the able-bodied men of this State and the debatable lands 
now known as Vermont. Stark was asked to take comma ml 
of the new militia, and did so ; stipulating only that he 
should not be subordinate to any other commander. Hence, he 
refused to obey General Schuyler s order to advance to and 



" THE TIMES THAT TRIED MEN S SOULS." 31 

cross the Hudson, giving excellent reasons therefor ; but, re 
maining within the territory his men were called out to pro 
tect, he fought and won Aug. 26, 1777 the brilliant battle 
of Bennington, routing and killing Colonel Baum, the Hessian 
Commander, and taking five hundred prisoners. His speech 
to his troops, on the brink of engaging, ran substantially thus : 
" Boys, you see them Hessians. King George gave <4 7s. 6d. 
apiece for em. I reckon we are worth more, and will prove it 
directly. If not, Molly Stark sleeps a widow to-night ! " There 
have been more elegant and far longer speeches ; but this 
went as straight to its mark as a bullet. 

The danger to his State having thus been averted, Stark 
hastened to join General Gates on the Hudson, was in the 
council which fixed the terms of Burgoyne s surrender, and 
was soon thereafter restored to position in the Continental 
line, Congress making reparation for its oversight by pub 
licly thanking him for his victory at Bennington, and ap 
pointing him a Brigadier-General in the regular service. He 
remained in the army till the close of the war, and lived 
forty years thereafter, dying May 8, 1822, in his ninety- 
fourth year. 

Colonel Eeed, though not awarded his rank in the Conti 
nental line, also served through the war, taking part in the 
battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Saratoga, Still- 
water, Brandywine, Germantown, and in Sullivan s Indian 
expedition. Having at length risen to a Continental colonelcy, 
he was in command at Albany in 1782, when he was favored 
with several letters from Washington, of whose military and 
political character he was evermore a passionate admirer. 
Having left his family in haste, on the tidings of the first 
shot, he paid it but two or three hurried visits in midwinter 
till honorably mustered out of service after the close of the 
war, in the Summer of 1783. Meantime his w r ife, Mary, sister 
of my grandfather Woodburn, was the ruler of his household, 
the manager of his farm and business, and the sharer in full 
measure of his fervid, unwearying patriotism. He lived to 
fill several public stations, including those of Brigadier-Geii- 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

eral and Sheriff of his county ; dying in 1815, aged eighty-two 
years. His wife survived him; dying in 1823, at the ripe 
age of eighty-eight. 

Never was a war more essentially popular than that waged 
in support of American Independence, and never were the 
issues involved more thoroughly debated or more clearly 
understood by a people. Congress having, early in 1776, 
requested the authorities of each township to ascertain and 
to disarm all persons "who are notoriously disaffected to the 
cause of America," the selectmen of Londonderry reported the 
names of 374 adult males in that town who had severaUy 
signed the following pledge : 

" We, the subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage and promise 
that we will, to the utmost of our power, at the risk of our lives 
and fortunes, with arms, oppose the hostile proceedings of the 
British fleets and armies against the United American Colonies." 

Of course, those who had already enlisted, and were then 
absent in the Continental service, should be added to the 
above list, raising it nearly to five hundred; while barely fifteen 
men in that entire community refused to sign. Several 
" Tories," however, had already left, finding the place too hot 
for them : among them, Major Eobert Eogers, of the " Ran 
gers/ raised in 1756, who had served with distinction through 
out the French war ; but who now, taking the wrong side, was 
proscribed, and fled to England, where he died. Colonel 
Stephen Holland, who had been one of the most eminent and 
popular citizens, and had held several important public trusts, 
after concealing and denying his Toryism so long as he could, 
finally proclaimed it by fleeing to General Gage at Boston 
whereupon his property was confiscated. Nowhere was Tory 
ism more execrated; and the suggestion in the Treaty of 
Paris that the Loyalists should be permitted to return to the 
communities they had, to serve the king, deserted, was unani 
mously scouted and defied in full town meeting. 

Dr. Matthew Thornton, whose name heads the list of signers 
to the pledge aforesaid, soon afterward affixed his signature to 
the immortal Declaration of American Independence. He 



"THE TIMES THAT TRIED MEN S SOULS." 33 

was born in Ireland in 1714, but brought over when but 
three years old ; early commenced the practice of medicine in 
Londonderry, and steadily rose to esteem and competence. 
He was a surgeon of the New Hampshire forces in the expe 
dition against Cape Breton, in 1745, and was a colonel of 
militia at the breaking out of the Kevolution. He was Presi 
dent of the first Provincial Convention assembled in New 
Hampshire after the retirement of the royal Governor Went- 
worth, and was chosen by it a delegate to Congress, in which 
he did not take his seat till November, 1776, when though 
it was the darkest hour of the struggle he at once signed the 
Declaration. After peace was restored, though no lawyer, he 
was chosen a judge of the Superior Court, and afterward 
Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas. He died in 1803, aged 
eighty-nine. 

From first to last, Londonderry furnished 347 soldiers to 
the Eevolutionary armies, while her whole number of adult 
males cannpt, as we have seen, have much exceeded 500. 
Some of these served but for short terms ; yet, after making 
every deduction, this record, from a purely rural township, 
whose youth had for forty years been constantly drawn away 
to pioneer new settlements, not only in different parts of 
New Hampshire, but in Londonderry and Windham, Vermont, 
Truro, Nova Scotia, Cherry Valley, N. Y., &c., &c., is one 
which her children have a right to regard with affectionate 
pride. And not only were town bounties liberal, considering 
the value of money in those days paid to her volunteers, but 
their families were shielded from want by the provident care 
of her authorities and people. Food was scarce and dear; 
clothing was scarcer and dearer ; but those who fought their 
country s battles were consoled by the thought that, whatever 
might befall them, their wives and little ones should not 
famish or freeze while bread or cloth remained. And, when 
independence and peace were at length achieved, it was a 
proud reflection that they had been won by the constancy and 
devotion, not of a class or a portion, but of the entire people. 



IV. 

RURAL NEW ENGLAND FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



brothers named Greeley (spelled- five different 
J. ways) migrated to America in 1640. One settled in 
Maine, where he has many living descendants ; another in 
Rhode Island, where he soon died ; a third in Salisbury, Mass., 
near the south line of New Hampshire, into which his de 
scendants soon migrated, if he did not. One large family 
of them hail from Gilmanton ; another, to whom I am less 
remotely related, from Wilton ; my own great-grandfather 
(named Zaccheus, as was his son my grandfather, and his son 
my father) lived in or on the verge of Londonderry, in what 
was in my youth Nottingham-West, and is now Hudson, 
across the Merrimac from Nashua (which was then Dunstable 
or nothing). I never heard of a Woodburn of our stock who 
was not a farmer ; but the Greeleys of our clan, while mainly 
farmers, are in part blacksmiths. Some of them have in this 
century engaged in trade , and are presumed to have acquired 
considerable property ; but these are not of the tribe of Zac 
cheus. 

My grandfather Greeley was a most excellent, though never 
a thrifty citizen. Kind, mild, easy-going, honest, and unam 
bitious, he married young, and reared a family of thirteen, 
nine sons and four daughters, of whom he who died youngest 
was thirty years old ; while a majority lived to be seventy, 
and three are yet living, at least two of them having seen 
more than eighty summers. 

So many children in the house of a poor and by no means 
driving farmer, in an age when food and cloth cost twice the 



RURAL NEW ENGLAND FIFTY YEARS AGO. 35 

labor they now do, made economy rather a necessity than a 
virtue ; but I presume none of those children ever suffered 
protractedly from hunger, while all of them obtained such 
education as was afforded by the common schools of sixty to 
eighty years ago ; or, if not, the fault was their own. Still, 
the school-houses were ruder and rarer, the teachers less com 
petent, and the terms much shorter, than now ; while attend 
ance was quite irregular, being suspended on slight pretexts ; 
so that I have heard my father say that his winter s schooling 
after he came of age when for three months he hired his 
board, attended constantly, and studied diligently was worth 
more to him than all that preceded it. 

My grandfather owned and worked small farms successively 
in Hudson, Pelham, Nottingham, and Londonderry, and was 
living in the latter town for a second or third time when, on 
the death of his wife, when he was about seventy-five years 
old, he sold out, and went to spend his remaining days with 
his son Gilbert, living in Manchester; but, that son dying 
before him, he found a home thenceforth in Londonderry, 
with his older son John, whose farm all but joins that of the 
Woodburns in "the High Eange," the respective houses 
being but a hundred rods apart, and here, in his fulness of 
days, he died, aged ninety-four. (My grandfather Woodburn 
had died at eighty-five, nearly thirty years before.) A de 
voted, consistent, life-long Christian, originally of the Bap 
tist, but ultimately of the Methodist persuasion, exemplary 
in deportment and blameless in life, I do not believe that my 
grandfather Greeley ever made an enemy ; and, while he 
never held an office, and his property was probably at no time 
worth $ 2,000, and generally ranged from $ 1,000 to zero, I 
think few men were ever more sincerely and generally es 
teemed than he by those who knew him. 

My father married at twenty-five to Mary Woodburn, 
aged nineteen went first to live with his father, whose farm 
he was to work, and inherit, supporting the old folks and 
their still numerous minor children ; but he soon tired of this, 
and seceded ; migrating to and purchasing the farm whereon 
six of his seven children w^ere born. 



36 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 



The old road to Amherst from the Merrimac, at what in 
my childhood was Amoskeag Falls, crossed by a rickety 
old bridge, with but two or three houses in sight, and is now 
the manufacturing city of Manchester, with twenty-five thou 
sand inhabitants, passes through the little village of Piscata- 
quoag, near the mouth of the creek of like name ; thence 
through the township and village of Bedford, and, zigzagging 
over the gentler hills, descends, when about five miles from 
"Amherst Plain," or village, and just on the verge of the 
township, into the deep valley of a brook, not yet quite large 
enough for a mill-stream. (The road now travelled is far 
smoother and better, and passes a mile or two southward of 
the old one.) The " Stewart farm," of some forty acres (en 
larged by my father to fifty), covers the hillside and meadow 
north of the road, with a few acres south of it, and lies partly 
in Bedford, but mainly in Amherst. The soil is a gravelly 
loam, generally strong, but hard and rocky ; grass, heavy at 
first, "binds out" the third or fourth year, when the land 
must be broken up, manured, tilled, and seeded down again ; 
and a breaking-up team, in my early boyhood, was made up 
of four yoke of oxen and a horse, whereby an acre per day 
was seldom ploughed. Across the brook were two or three 
little knolls, of an acre or so each, in good part composed of 
water- worn pebbles, the debris of I know not what antedi 
luvian commotion and collision of glaciers and marine cur 
rents, which, when duly fertilized and tilled, produced 
freely of corn or potatoes ; but which, being laid down to 
grass, utterly refused to respond, deeming itself better adapted 
to the growth of sorrel, milk-weed, or mullein. The potato 
yielded more bounteously then than it does now, and was 
freely grown to be fed into pork ; but I reckon that Indian 
corn cost treble, if not quadruple, the labor per bushel that 
our Western friends now give for it; while wheat yielded 
meagrely and was a very uncertain crop. Eye and oats did 
much better, and were favorite crops to " seed down " upon ; 
" rye and Indian " were the bases of the farmer s staff of life ; 
and, when well made, no bread is more palatable or whole- 



RURAL NEW ENGLAND FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



37 



some. The hop culture was then common in our section ; 
and, though fearfully hazardous, there being no yield one 
year and no price the next, was reckoned inviting and pro 
ductive. My father estimated hops at ten cents per pound 
as profitable a crop as corn at one dollar per bushel. 

My father bought and removed to this farm early in 1808 ; 




The cot where I was born. 



here his first two children died ; here I was born (February 
3, 1811), and my only surviving brother on the 12th of June, 
1812. The house a modest, framed, unpainted structure 
of one story was then quite new ; it was only modified 
in our time by filling up and making narrower the old-fash 
ioned kitchen fireplace, which, having already devoured all 
the wood on the farm, yawned ravenously for more. This 
dwelling faces the road from the north on a bench, or narrow 
plateau, about two thirds down the hill; the orchard of natural 
fruit covers two or three acres of the hillside northeast of the 
house, with the patch of garden and a small frog-pond between. 



38 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

4 

It seemed to me that sweeter and more spicy apples grew in 
that neglected orchard than can now be bought in market ; 
and it is not a mere notion that most fruits attain their highest 
and best flavor at or near the coldest latitude in which they 
can be grown at all. That orchard was not young fifty years 
ago ; and, having been kept constantly in pasture, never tilled 
nor enriched, and rarely pruned, must be nearly run out by 
this time. 

Being the older son of a poor and hard-working farmer, 
struggling to pay off the debt he had incurred in buying his 
high-priced farm, and to support his increasing family, I was 
early made acquainted with labor. I well remember the cold 
summer (1816) when we rose on the eighth of June to find 

the earth covered with a good inch of newly fallen snow, 

when there was frost every month, and corn did not fill till 
October. Plants grew very slowly that season, while burrow 
ing insects fed and fattened on them. My task for a time 
was to precede my father as he hoed his corn, dig open the 
hills, and kill the wire-worms and grubs that were anticipating 
our dubious harvest. To " ride horse to plough " soon became 
my more usual vocation ; the horse preceding and guiding the 
oxen, save when furrowing for or tilling the planted crops. 
Occasionally, the plough would strike a fast stone, and bring up 
the team all standing, pitching me over the horse s head, and 
landing me three to five feet in front. In the frosty autumn 
mornings, the working teams had to be " baited " on the rowen 
or aftermath of thick, sweet grass beside the luxuriant corn 
(maize) ; and I was called out at sunrise to watch and keep* 
them out of the corn while the men ate their breakfast before 
yoking up and going afield. My bare feet imbibed a prejudice 
against that line of duty ; but such premature rising induced 
sleepiness ; so, if my feet had not ached, the oxen would have 
had a better chance for corn. 

Burning charcoal in the woods south and southwest of us 
was a favorite, though very slow, method of earning money in 
those days. The growing wood, having then no commercial 
value, could usually be had for nothing; but the labor of 



RURAL NEW ENGLAND FIFTY YEARS AGO. 39 

cutting it down arid reducing it to the proper length, piling it 
skilfully, covering the heap with sods, or with straw and earth, 
and then expelling every element but the carbon by smothered 
combustion, is rugged and tedious. I have known a pit of 
green wood to be nine days in burning ; and every pit must 
be watched night and day till the process is complete. Night- 
watching by a pit has a fascination for green boys, who have 
hitherto slept soundly and regularly through the dark hours ; 
but a little of it usually suffices. To sit or lie in a rude forest- 
hut of boards or logs, located three or four rods from the pit, 
with a good fire burning between, and an open, flaring front 
looking across the fire at the pit, is a pleasant novelty of a 
mild, quiet evening ; and many a jovial story has been told, 
many a pleasant game of cards, fox-and-geese, or checkers 
played, and (I fear) some watermelons lawlessly purveyed from 
neighboring fields and gardens by night- watching charcoal- 
burners. But the taste for turning out, looking for and 
stopping the holes that are frequently burnt through the 
covering of the pit, is easily sated ; while a strong wind that 
drives the smoke of fire and pit into the open mouth of your 
shanty, and threatens to set fire to the straw flooring on which 
you recline, is soon regarded as a positive nuisance, especially 
if accompanied by a pelting storm. In a wild night, your pit 
breaks out far oftener than in calm weather ; requiring con 
stant attention and effort to keep it from burning up altogether ; 
thus consuming the fruits of weeks of arduous toil. And, 
after a week of coal-burning, you find it hard to return to 
regular sleep, but hastily wake every hour or so, and instinc 
tively jump up to see how the pit is going on. 

Picking stones is a never-ending labor on one of those rocky 
New England farms. Pick as closely as you may, the next 
ploughing turns up a fresh eruption of boulders and pebbles, 
from the size of a hickory-nut to that of a tea-kettle ; and, as 
this work is mainly to be done in March or April, when the 
earth is saturated with ice-cold water, if not also whitened 
with falling snow, youngsters soon learn to regard it with de 
testation. I filially love the " Granite State," but could well 
excuse the absence of sundry subdivisions of her granite. 



40 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

k 

" Hop-picking " was the rural carnival the festive harvest- 
home of those old times ; answering to the vintage of south 
ern France or Italy. The hop matures about the first of Sep 
tember, when the vines are cut near the ground, the poles 
pulled up and laid successively across forked sticks lengthwise 
of a large bin, into which busy fingers from either siderapidly 
strip the hops each pole, when stripped, being laid aside and 
replaced by another. The bin having been filled, the hops are 
drawn to the kiln, wherein they are cured by exposure for 
hours to a constant, drying heat from a charcoal fire below ; 
after which, they are pressed, like cotton, into bales so com 
pact and dense as to defy easy disintegration. The pickers are 
mainly young women the daughters of neighboring farmers 
and the older children of both sexes ; while the handling 
of the poles demands masculine strength and energy; the 
work is pushed with ardor, often by rival groups employed at 
different bins, racing to see which will first have its bin full. 
The evenings are devoted to social companionship and rustic 
merry-making; friends drop in to enjoy and increase the 
festivity ; and, if hop-picking is not now an agreeable labor, 
despite the sore eyes sometimes caught from it, then rural life 
in hop-growing districts has lost what was one of its pleas- 
antest features half a century ago. 



V. 

MY EARLY SCHOOL-DAYS. 

MY mother, having lost TUT mother when but five years 
old, was, for the next few years, the especial prote ge e 
and favorite of her aged grandmother, already mentioned, 
who had migrated from Ireland when but fourteen years 
old, and whose store of Scottish and Scotch-Irish traditions, 
songs, anecdotes, shreds of history, &c., can have rarely been 
equalled. These she imparted freely to her eager, receptive 
granddaughter, who was a glad, easy learner, whose schooling 
was better than that of most farmers daughters in her day, 
and who naturally became a most omnivorous and retentive 
reader. There were many, doubtless, whose literary acqui 
sitions were more accurate and more profound than hers ; 
but few can have been better qualified to interest or to stim 
ulate the unfolding mind in its earliest stages of develop 
ment. 

I was for years a feeble , sickly child, often under medical 
treatment, and unable to watch, through a closed window, the 
falling of rain, without incurring an instant and violent 
attack of illness. Having suddenly lost her two former chil 
dren, just before my birth, my mother was led to regard me 
even more fondly and tenderly than she otherwise might 
have done ; hence, I was her companion and confidant about 
as early as I could talk ; and her abundant store of ballads, 
stories, anecdotes, and traditions was daily poured into my 
willing ears. I learned to read at her knee, of course, 
longer ago than I can remember ; but I can faintly recollect 
her sitting spinning at her " little wheel," with the book in 



42 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 



her lap whence I was taking my daily lesson ; and thus I 
soon acquired the facility of reading from a book sidewise or 
upside down as readily as in the usual fashion, a knack 
which I did not at first suppose peculiar ; but which, being at 
length observed, became a subject of neighborhood wonder 
and fabulous exaggeration. 

Two months before I had attained the age of three years, 
I was taken home by my grandfather Woodburn to spend a 
few weeks with him, and sent to school from his house, the 

: 




My First School-House 

school-house of his district being but fifty rods from his door ; 
whereas, our proper school-house in Amlierst was two miles, 
and the nearest school-house (in Bedford) over a mile, from 
my father s. Hence, I lived at my grandfather s, and went 
thence to school, most of each Winter and some months in 
Summer during the next three years. 

My first schoolmaster was David Woodburn Dickey, a 
nephew of my grandfather, a college graduate, and an able, 



MY EARLY SCHOOL-DAYS. 43 

worthy man, though rather a severe tha,n a successful gov 
ernor of youth. The district was large ; there were ninety 
names on its roll of pupils, many of them of full-grown 
men and women, not well broken to obedience and docility, 

with an average attendance of perhaps sixty ; all to be 
instructed in various studies, as well as ruled, by a single 
teacher, who did his very best, which included a liberal ap 
plication of birch and ferule. He was a cripple ; and it was 
all he could do, with his high spirit and unquestioned moral 
superiority, to retain the mastery of the school. 

Our next teacher in Winter was Cyrus Winn, from Massa 
chusetts, a tall, muscular, thoroughly capable young man, 
who rarely or never struck a blow, but governed by moral 
force, and by appeals to the nobler impulses of his pupils. 
They were no better, when he took charge of them, than his 
predecessor s had been, in fact, they were mainly the same, 

yet his sway was far more complete, and the revolts 
against it much rarer ; and when he left us, at the close of 
his second term, a general attendance of parents on his last 
afternoon, with a rural feast of boiled cider and doughnuts, 
attested the emphatic appreciation of his worth. For my 
own part, I could enjoy nothing, partake of nothing, so 
intense was my grief at parting with him. It was the first 
keen sorrow of iny life. I never saw him again, but learned 
that he was drowned the next Winter. 

There was an unruly, frolicsome custom of " barring out " 
in our New Hampshire common schools, which I trust never 
obtained a wider acceptance. On the first of January, and 
perhaps on some other day that the big boys chose to consider 
or make a holiday, the forenoon passed off as quietly as that 
of any other day ; but, the moment the master left the house 
in quest of his dinner, the little ones were started homeward, 
the door and windows suddenly and securely barricaded, and 
the older pupils, thus fortified against intrusion, proceeded to 
spend the afternoon in play and hilarity. I have known a 
master to make a desperate struggle for admission ; but I do 
not recollect that one ever succeeded, the odds being too 



44 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

great. If he appealed to the neighboring fathers, they were 
apt to recollect that they had been boys themselves, and 
advise him to desist, and let matters take their course. I 
recollect one instance, however, where a youth was shut out 
who thought he ought to have been numbered with the elect, 
and resolved to resent his exclusion. Procuring a piece of 
board, he mounted from a fence to the roof of the school- 
house, and covered the top of the chimney nicely with his 
board. Ten minutes thereafter, the house was filled with 
smoke, and its inmates, opening the door and windows, were 
glad to make terms with the outsider. 

The capital start given me by my mother enabled me to make 
rapid progress in school, a progress monstrously exaggerated 
by gossip and tradition. I was specially clever in spelling, 
an art in which there were then few even tolerably pro 
ficient, so that I soon rose to the head of the " first class," 
and usually retained that position. It was a custom of the 
school to " choose sides " for a " spelling-match " one afternoon 
of each week, the head of the first class in spelling, and 
the pupil standing next, being the choosers. In my case, 
however, it was found necessary to change the rule, and con 
fide the choice to those who stood second and third respec 
tively ; as I a mere infant of four years could spell, but 
not choose, often preferring my playmates, who could not 
spell at all. 

These spelling-matches usually took place in the evening, 
when I could not keep my eyes open, and should have been 
in bed. It was often necessary to rap me sharply when " the 
word " came around to me ; but I never failed to respond ; 
and it came to be said that I spelled as well asleep as awake. 
I apprehend that this was more likely to be true of some 
others of the class ; who, if ever so sound asleep, could 
scarcely have spelled worse than they did. 

We very generally complain of frequent changes in our 
school-books, and with reason. Yet we ought to consider 
that these frequent changes have resulted in signal improve 
ment ; that our school-books of to-day are not only far 



MY EARLY SCHOOL-DAYS. 45 

better than those of fifty years ago, but that their improve 
ment has not been fully paralleled elsewhere. When I first 
went to school, Webster s Spelling-Book was just supplant 
ing Dilworth s ; " The American Preceptor " was pushing 
aside " The Art of Heading " ; and the only grammar in use 
was " The Ladies Accidence," by Caleb Bingham, as poor 
an affair as its name would indicate. Geography was scarcely 
studied at all ; while chemistry, geology, and other depart 
ments of natural science, had never been heard of in rural 
school-houses. " Morse s Geography," which soon carne into 
vogue, was a valuable compend of political and statistical 
information ; but, having barely one map, would scarcely 
pass for a school geography now. Very soon, Lindley Mur 
ray s Grammar and English Eeader came into fashion, solid 
works, but not well adapted to the instruction of children of 
eight to fourteen years. In fact, I spent considerable time on 
grammar to little purpose, and made no decided progress 
therein, till I had learned to scan my authorities critically, 
and repudiate their errors. When I had pondered myself 
into a decided conviction that Murray did not fully under 
stand his subject, and that his giving "Let me be" as an 
example of the first, and " Let him be " as its correlative in 
the third person singular of the imperative mood, were simply 
blunders, which a deeper knowledge of grammar would have 
taught him to avoid, I had broken loose from the shackles of 
routine and iteration, and was prepared to accept all the light 
from any quarter that might irradiate the science. Daniel 
Adams (a New Hampshire man, now lately deceased) had not 
then published his lucid and favorite Arithmetic, or, if he 
had, it had not reached us; Pike s far more difficult work 
was in general use. I cannot say what progress has very 
recently been made ; but Greenleaf, some thirty or forty 
years since, shortened the time and effort required to gain a 
decent knowledge of English grammar by at least one half. 
I believe like progress has been made in elementary treatises 
in other departments of knowledge. 

The first book I ever owned was " The Columbian Orator," 



46 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

given to me by my uncle Perry (husband of my father s old 
est sister), as I lay very sick of the measles at my maternal 
grandfather s, when about four years of age. Those who 
happen to have been familiar, in its day, with that volume, 
will recollect it as a medley of dialogues, extracts from ora 
tions, from sermons, from speeches in Parliament, in Congress, 
and at the Bar, with two or three versified themes for decla 
mation, such as " Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise ! " and the 
lines (since attributed to Edward Everett, 1 but who must 
have written them very young, if he wrote them at all) 
beginning, " You d scarce expect one of my age to speak in 
public on the stage," - lines which I was dragged forward to 
recite incessantly, till I fairly loathed them. This " Orator " 
was my prized text-book for years, and I became thoroughly 
familiar with its contents ; though I cannot say that I ever 
learned much of value from it, certainly not oratory. The 
first large work that I ever read consecutively was the Bible, 
tinder the guidance of my mother, when I was about five 
years old. 

I attended school, rather irregularly, during the brief term 
of my fifth and sixth summers, in the western district of 
Bedford, about a mile from my father s. For the next two 
years, we lived in that township, my father having rented 
his own farm to a brother, and himself removed to the much 
larger " Beard Farm," in the eastern part of that town, which 
he had undertaken to work on shares. Here we were again 
nearly equidistant from two school-houses ; living in the 
northeastern district, but often attending the school at the 
centre of the town, which was much larger, and generally 
better taught. 

Here I first learned that this is a world of hard work. 
Often called out of bed at dawn to " ride horse to plough " 
among the growing corn, potatoes, and hops, we would get as 
much ploughed by 9 to 10 A. M. as could be hoed that day ; 
when I would be allowed to start for school, where I some- 

1 Their author, I have learned since the above was first printed, was Moses 
Everett, a Massachusetts teacher of sixty to eighty years ago. 



MY EARLY SCHOOL-DAYS. 47 

times arrived as the forenoon session was half through. In 
Winter, our work was lighter ; but the snow was often deep 
and drifted, the cold intense, the north wind piercing, and 
our clothing thin ; beside which, the term rarely exceeded, 
and sometimes fell short of, two months. I am grateful for 
much schooling included to my native State ; yet I trust 
her boys of to-day generally enjoy better facilities for educa 
tion at her common schools than they afforded me half a 
century ago. 

The French have a proverb importing that in age we re 
turn to the loves of our youth. I have asked myself, " How 
would you like to return to that cot on the hillside, and spend 
the rest of your days there ? " My answer, is that I would 
not like it, that, though adversity drove me inexorably 
thence, I have been so thoroughly weaned that I have no 
wish to go back " for good." The cot still looks friendly and 
kindly when I (too seldom) pass it ; the farm and the orchard 
are still familiar objects, and I would gladly muse a sunny, 
genial Autumn day there ; but my heart no longer recognizes 
that spot as its home. 

The last Summer that we lived in New Hampshire, an 
offer was made by the leading men of our neighborhood to 
send me to Phillips Academy at Exeter, and thence to col 
lege, the expense being so defrayed that no part of it should 
fall on my parents. They listened thoughtfully to the pro 
posal, briefly deliberated, then firmly, though gratefully, de 
clined it ; saying that they would give their children the 
best education they could afford, and there stop. I do not 
remember that I had then any decided opinion or wish in the 
premises ; but I now have ; and, from the bottom of my 
heart, I thank my parents for their wise and manly decision. 
Much as I have needed a fuller, better education, I rejoice 
that I am indebted for schooling to none but those of whom 
I had a right to ask and expect it. 



VI. 

ADIEU TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. 

OUE tenancy of the " Beard Farm/ in Bedford, answered 
very nearly to my seventh and eighth years. That was 
a large and naturally good farm, but in a state of dilapidation : 
overgrown with bushes and briers, its fences in ruins, and the 
buildings barely able to stand alone, the large two-story 
house more especially far gone. My father had let his own 
farm, on shares, to a younger brother, whom he wished and 
hoped thus to serve, while he was led to expect payment for 
whatever improvements he should make on that which he 
had taken instead. He was disappointed every way; his 
health failed, and he was for nearly a year unable to work ; 
his brother did not prosper on our place ; while the promises 
which had lured us to the larger sphere of effort were not 
made good. To us children by this time, four in number 
the larger house and broader activities of the hired farm 
were a welcome exchange ; but our fortunes, manifestly, waned 
there ; and I think we were all soberly glad to return to our 
own snugger house and smaller farm, in the Spring of 1820. 
As we were trying to work off a lee-shore, I believe neither 
of us boys went to school at all that Summer, though I was 
but nine years old, and my brother not eight till June. 

All in vain. The times were what is termed " hard," that 
is, almost every one owed, and scarcely any one could pay. 
The rapid strides of British manufactures, impelled by the 
steam-engine, spinning-jenny, and power-loom, had utterly 
undermined the homely household fabrications whereof Lon 
donderry was a prominent American focus ; my mother still 



ADIEU TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. 49 

carded her wool and flax, spun her yarn, and wove her woollen, 
linen, and tow cloth ; but they found no market at living 
prices ; our hops sold for little more than the cost of bagging ; 
and, in short, we were bankrupt. I presume my father had 
never been quite out of debt since he bought his place ; but 
sickness, rash indorsements (a family failing), and bad luck 
generally, had swelled his indebtedness to something like 
$ 1,000, which all we had in the world would not, at current 
prices, pay. In fact, I do not know how much property would 
have paid $1,000 in New Hampshire in 1820, when almost 
every one was hopelessly involved, every third farm was in 
the sheriff s hands, and every poor man leaving for "the 
West " who could raise the money requisite for getting 
away. Everything was cheap, dog-cheap, British goods 
especially so ; yet the comparatively rich were embarrassed, 
and the poor were often compulsorily idle, and on the brink 
of famine. I have not been much of a Free-Trader ever 
since. 

We had finished our Summer tillage and our haying, when 
a very heavy rain set in, near the end of August. I think its 
second day was a Saturday ; and still the rain poured till far 
into the night. Father was absent on business ; but our mother 
gathered her little ones around her, and delighted us with 
stories and prospects of good things she purposed to do for us 
in the better days she hoped to see. Father did not return 
till after we children were fast asleep ; and, when he did, it 
was with tidings that our ill-fortune was about to culminate. 
I guess that he was scarcely surprised, though we young ones 
ruefully were, when, about sunrise on Monday morning, the 
sheriff and sundry other officials, with two or three of our 
principal creditors, appeared, and first formally demanding 
payment of their claims proceeded to levy on farm, stock, 
implements, household stuff, and nearly all our worldly pos 
sessions but the clothes we stood in. There had been no writ 
issued till then, of course, no trial, no judgment, but it 
was a word and a blow in those days, and the blow first, in 
the matter of debt-collecting by legal process. Father left 



50 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

the premises directly, apprehending arrest and imprisonment, 
and was invisible all day ; the rest of us repaired to a friendly 
neighbor s, and the work of levying went on in our absence. 
It were needless to add that all we had was swallowed up, 
and our debts not much lessened. Our farm, which had cost 
us $ 1,350, and which had been considerably improved in our 
hands, was appraised and set off to creditors at $ 500, out of 
which the legal costs were first deducted. A barn-full of rye, 
grown by us on another s land, whereof we owned an undivided 
half, was attached by a doctor, threshed out by his poorer 
customers by days work on account, and sold ; the net result 
being an enlargement of our debt, the grain failing to meet 
all the costs. Thus, when night fell, we were as bankrupt a 
family as well could be. 

We returned to our devastated house ; and the rest of us 
stayed there while father took a journey on foot westward, in 
quest of a new home. He stopped in the township of Hamp 
ton, Washington County, N. Y., and worked there two or three 
months with a Colonel Parker French, who tilled a noble farm, 
and kept tavern on the main road from Troy into western 
Vermont. He returned to us in due time, and, on the 1st of 
January, 1821, we all started in a hired two-horse sleigh, witli 
the little worldly gear that was left us, for the township of 
Westhaven, Vermont, where father had hired, for $ 16 per 
annum, a small house, in which, after an intensely cold jour 
ney, we were installed three days later. 



Let me revert for a little to our New Hampshire life, ere I 
bid it a final adieu. 

I have already said that Amherst and Bedford are in the 
main poor towns, whose hard, rocky soil yields grudgingly, 
save of wood. Except in the villages, if even there, there 
were very few who could be called forehanded in my early 
boyhood. Poor as we were, no richer family lived within 
sight of our humble homestead, though our western prospect 
was only bounded by the " Chestnut Hills," two or three miles 



ADIEU TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. 51 

away: On the east, our range of vision was barred by the 
hill on the side of which we lived. The leading man of our 
neighborhood was Captain Nathan Barnes, a Calvinist deacon, 
after whom my brother was named, and who was a farmer of 
decided probity and sound judgment, worth, perhaps, 8 3,000. 
Though an ardent Federalist, as were a majority of his towns 
men, he commanded a company of " exempts," raised to defend 
the country in case of British invasion, during the war of 
1812. 

The Eevolutionary War was not yet thirty years bygone 
when I was born, and its passions, its prejudices, and. its 
ballads were still current throughout that intensely Whig 
region. When neighbors and neighbors wives drew together 
at the house of one of their number for an evening visit, there 
were often interspersed with " Cruel Barbara Allen," and other 
love-lorn ditties then in vogue, such reminiscences of the pre 
ceding age as " American Taxation," a screed of some fifty 
prosaic verses, opening thus : 

" While I relate my story, 

Americans, give ear ; 
Of Britain s fading glory 

You presently shall hear. 
I 11 give a true relation, 

(Attend to what I say,) 
Concerning the taxation 

Of North America." 

The last throes of expiring loyalty are visible in this long- 
drawn ballad, Bute and North, and even Fox, being soundly 
berated for acts of tyranny whereof their royal master, 
George III., was sole author, and they but reluctant, hesitat 
ing, apprehensive instruments. 

The ballads of the late war with Great Britain were not so 
popular in our immediate neighborhood, though my mother 
had good store of these also, and sang them with spirit and 
effect, along with " Boyne Water," " The Taking of Quebec," by 
Wolfe, and even "Wearing of the Green," which, though 
dating from Ireland s 98, has been revived and adopted in 
our day, with so vast and deserved an Irish popularity. 



52 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

We were, in the truest sense, democrats, we Scotch-Irish 
Federalists from Londonderry, where Jefferson received but 
two votes in the memorable struggle of 1800. When, for a 
single year at the " Beard Farm," our house echoed to the tread 
of a female " help," whose natural abilities were humble, and 
whose literary acquirements were inferior even to ours, that 
servant always ate with the family, even when we had the 
neighbors as "company"; and, though her wages were but 
fifty cents a week, she had her party, and invited the girls of 
the neighborhood to be her guests at tea, precisely as if she 
had been a daughter of the house. Nowhere were manners 
ever simpler, or society freer from pretension or exclusiveness, 
than in those farmers homes. 

Hospitality was less bounteous, and kinship less prized, 
than in the days of the Scotch-Irish pioneers ; but there was 
still much visiting of relatives and social enjoyment, especially 
in Winter, when hundreds returned to the old Londonderry 
hive from the younger swarms scattered all over the East : 
some of them beginning to stretch away even to the far " Hol 
land Purchase," in Western New York ; then practically as 
distant as Oregon or Alaska now is. I remember when the 
Doles left the " Chestnut Hills " to pitch their tent in Illinois, 
then a far bolder venture than migration to Sitka would 
now be. I have often seen my grandfather Woodburn s house 
crammed for days with cousins and nephews from Vermont 
and other Derry settlements, who could not be so many as 
to miss a hearty welcome. Our house was far smaller, and 
less frequented ; but its latch-string was always out ; and a 
free liver, with twelve brothers and sisters, to say nothing of 
their partners by marriage and their children, is not apt to 
be persistently shunned. In fact, we lived better than we 
could afford to (as poor folks are too apt to do), and this was 
one cause of our downfall. My father, as proud as he was 
poor, spared nothing when friends and relatives, especially 
those of higher social standing, favored him with their com 
pany, and was rarely found unable to fulfil their most sanguine 
expectations. When too many dropped in upon us at once, 



ADIEU TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. 53 

or we were found deficient in the luxuries they might fairly 
expect, he had a habit of telling them this anecdote : 

" When I was a boy of fifteen," said he, " I worked two 
summers in the great brick-yards of Medford, Mass. My 
employer, Mr. Marshall, was at first a new man in the com 
munity, whose wife deemed it incumbent on her to give her 
neighbors a tea-party, as a prelude to better acquaintance. 
In those ante-canal days, wheaten flour was a luxury, though 
nearly all had it for company occasions ; ordinarily, our 
bread was made of rye and Indian exclusively. Mrs. Mar 
shall, on the great occasion, had the inevitable short-cake 
for tea, of rye flour, as all could perceive : still, it was not 
imperative on common folks to proffer cake of wheaten flour ; 
and all would have passed off without remark, and been soon 
forgotten, but for a maladroit explanation by the hostess. 
Ladies, said she to her guests, I beg you not to infer that 
we have no wheat flour, from the fact that I give you rye 
short-cake. We have wheat flour in the house ; but I thought 
I would save that for Mr. Marshall, when he comes to work 
hard in haying-time. " The astonished guests tittered ; the 
glee broadened into a loud laugh as the explanation galloped 
through the neighborhood ; and it readily passed into a proverb, 
that anything deficient on a kindred occasion was saved for 
Mr. Marshall in haying-time. " Friends," added my father, 
in conclusion, "if you note anything deficient in our fare, 
consider that it is saved for Mr. Marshall in haying-time." 



VII. 

WESTHAVEN. 

THE township of Westhaven, Vermont, comprises that 
irregular corner of the State which is bounded by Lake 
Champlain on the west, and by Hampton and Whitehall, 
1ST. Y., on the south and southeast, and may be roughly com 
pared to a very blunt wedge driven into the State of New 
York ; its point being formed by the rather sharp angle which 
the little Poultney river, which here divides the two States, 
makes with the Lake, in which it is finally lost. The general 
plain or level, widening from south to north, which separates 
the Green Mountains from that lake, is here repeatedly broken 
by gentle upheavals of limestone, and, less frequently, by 
higher and more precipitous ridges of gneiss or of trap, which 
increase in number and height as you approach the chain of 
verdant hills which have given the State her name. 

This whole region was thickly covered by heavy timber, 
in good part, white pine, when its devastation by our race 
commenced ; and its proximity to navigable water, with the 
abundance of mill-streams everywhere pervading it, incited 
its rapid monopoly for " lumbering " purposes. A Dr. Smith, 
from Connecticut, brother of one and uncle of another 
Governor of that State, pitched his tent in Westhaven (then 
a part of Fairhaven) some seventy to eighty years ago, and 
did great execution upon the pines ; rapidly amassing wealth, 
and becoming an extensive landholder. Death stopped him 
in mid-career, paralyzing his activity, and dividing his prop 
erty, whereof part was inherited by his brother, and the 
residue by his widow ; who soon married Christopher Minot, 



WESTHAVEN. 55 

a Boston banker, who thenceforth made his home in West- 
haven ; inhabiting the spacious mansion which his predecessor, 
had barely lived to complete. Our first home in Vermont 
was on his estate, and within a few rods of his mansion ; and 
we mainly worked for him, or on his land, while we lived in 
that town. 

Westhaven might have been, and should be to-day, a rich 
grazing township ; but for its original wealth of pines, it pro 
bably would have been. But its pioneers, high and low, were 
lumbermen ; and it has never yet liberated itself from their 
baleful sway. As Moore says, 

" The trail of the serpent is over it all." 

As the pines had begun to fail, I presume its population was 
declining when w T e settled there, or a house that might be 
lived in with frugal comfort could not have been hired for 
$16 per annum ; but it had then a considerably larger popu 
lation than it has to-day, our school-district at least twice 
as much. " Going West " has ever since been the general 
proclivity; though I believe any one who understands and 
likes dairy farming can buy land and buildings there cheaper 
than anywhere beyond the Ohio. By and by some one will 
settle there who knows how to apply the superabundant lime 
to the strong but stubborn clay ; making farms richly worth 
$ 100 per acre which now go begging at $ 30. Until then, let 
Westhaven sleep ; for / lack power or time to wake her. I 
can heartily commend her remaining people all farmers, 
after a sort as too honest to need a lawyer, and too wise to 
support a grog-shop, even though the law had not forbidden 
any one to open it. 

When we first set our stakes there, father was thirty-eight 
and mother was thirty-three years old. I was not quite ten ; 
my brother and two sisters, eight, six, and four, respectively. 
A third sister the youngling of the flock was born two 
years later ; and all five of us children have been spared 
through the intervening forty-seven years. 

We now made the acquaintance of genuine poverty, not 



56 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

beggary, nor dependence, but the manly American sort. Our 
.sum total of worldly goods, including furniture, bedding, and 
the clothes we stood in, may have been worth $ 200 ; but, as 
we had afterward to pay that amount on old New Hampshire 
debts, our material possessions may be fairly represented by 0, 
with a credit for $ 200 worth of clothing and household stuff. 
Yet, we never needed nor ran into debt for anything ; never 
were without meal, meat, and wood, and very rarely without 
money. Father went to chopping at fifty cents per day, with 
out repining or apprehension; and we children all went to 
school till Spring, though there were no school-funds in those 
days, and rate-bills for four children made quite a hole in a 
gross income of $ 3 per week. Hitherto, we had never lived 
within a mile of a school-house ; now, we were within fifty 
rods of one, in fact, of two ; for a quarrel had split the dis 
trict, and two schools were in full blast on our arrival, one 
on either side of us. The Vermont schools were rather better 
than the New Hampshire, better, at least, in this: their 
terms were longer. I never tried them in Summer, except 
during one very rainy day ; but I had a full opportunity in 
Winter; and I deeply regret that such homely sciences as 
Chemistry, Geology, and Botany were never taught, were 
not even named therein. Had our range of studies included 
these, I had ample time to learn something of them ; and this 
would have proved of inestimable value to me evermore. Yet, 
I am thankful that Algebra had not yet been thrust into our 
rural common schools, to knot the brains and squander the 
time of those who should be learning something of positive 
and practical utility. 

Before the Spring of 1821 opened, father had taken a job of 
clearing fifty acres of wild land, a mile north of our cot ; and 
here he and his sons were employed, save in Winter, for the 
next two years. 

The work was rugged and grimy, but healthful. The land 

had been timbered with Yellow Pine, a thousand years before, 

as a hundred giant trunks, long since prostrated, but not 

yet wholly mouldered back to dust, attested. This was fol- 



WESTHAVEN. 57 

lowed by a forest of White Pines, of which hundreds were 
still standing, mostly lifeless ; while a large number lay prone 
and dead, though the trunks were mainly sound. Black Ash 
in abundance formed a later and generally living growth; 
though a fierce conflagration, which swept over this whole 
region, during a great drouth, four years before we saw it, had 
devoured much, and killed more of the forest, but increased 
the undergrowth of Beech, Alder, Poplar, etc., which we were 
required to dispose of. When we first attacked it, the snow 
was just going, and the water and slush were knee-deep. We 
were all indifferent choppers, when compared with those who 
usually grapple with great forests ; and the job looked so for 
midable that travellers along the turnpike which skirted our 
task were accustomed to halt and comfort us with predictions 
that we boys would be grown men before we saw the end of 
it. But, cutting trees and bushes ; chopping up great trunks 
into manageable lengths, drawing them together, rolling up 
and burning great heaps of logs ; saving out here and there a 
log that would do to saw ; digging out rotten pines from the 
soil wherein they had embedded themselves, so that they 
might dry sufficiently to burn ; piling and burning brush and 
rotten or worthless sticks, and carting home such wood as 
served for fuel, we persevered until the job was done ; when I 
could have begun another just like it and managed so as not 
to require more than two thirds of the labor we expended on 
this. And now, if any one has a great tract of land to clear 
of trees, decaying logs, and bushes, I fancy that I might give 
him hints worth considering. N. B. I work for pay. 

We had been farmers of the poorer class in New Hamp 
shire ; we took rank with day-laborers in Vermont. We had 
lived freely, though not lavishly, much less sumptuously, in 
our earlier home ; here, we were compelled to observe a sterner 
frugality. The bread of our class in this section was almost 
exclusively made of rye, Indian corn being little grown on 
the clay soil of Western Vermont, and, though there are 
always about six women alive who know how to make of rye 
the best bread ever tasted, our mother was not one of these, 



58 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and never learned their admirable art. Then the clay itself, 
alternating with the weather from mire to rock, is not well 
adapted to bare feet; while the detestable Canada thistles, 
which infest every road and almost every h eld in Westhaven, 
are not conducive to placidity of temper or propriety of speech. 
Having the sharp lances of these thistles dug out of my fes 
tered feet with needles was long my daily terror and my 
nightly torture; the tough, horny integument with which 
their rough experiences had covered our naked feet rendering 
the dislodgement of the thistle-beards more laborious and 
painful than any soft-footed person can realize. I have never 
since been able to appraise stiff clay soils at their full value. 

A precipitous ledge, eighty rods east of the turnpike from 
which we worked westward, afforded us good spring water, 
and supplied us also with rattlesnakes, whereof we killed 
some, which might have proved annoying to us barefoot boys, 
as we worked among the brush and weeds, had they caught 
the idea. Still, clearing land is pleasant work, especially 
when you have a hundred heaps of logs and brush burning at 
once of a dark, windy night ; while ten or twenty acres of 
fallen, leafy timber, on fire at once, affords a magnificent spec 
tacle. We were to have had $ 7 per acre, with the use of a 
team, and half the wood suitable for timber and fuel ; and, 
though $ 350, even in those days, was not large pay for two 
years work of a man and two boys, we were well satisfied. 
In the event, however, Mr. Minot died before we had effected 
a settlement; when his estate was declared insolvent, and we 
were juggled out of a part of our pay. 

Our third year in Vermont was spent two miles farther 
west, where we inhabited and worked a little place known as 
Flea Knoll, while father ran a neighboring saw-mill on shares. 
As he sawed twelve hours on and twelve oil , with a partner, 
I insisted on being his helper ; but I think once working from 
noon till midnight satiated my ambition, and I never fully 
learned the art and mystery of sawing boards by W;IUT- power. 
My brother, though younger, was more persistent, and made 
greater progress. I gave that Summer pretty diligently to 



WESTHAVEN. 59 

farming, with very meagre results. First, the season was wet 
till the 1st of June ; and our corn, planted in mortar, encoun 
tered a brick-like crust when it undertook to come up ; and, 
unable to pierce or break it, pushed laterally under it for two 
inches or so, until we dug off the crust, and introduced the 
pale, imprisoned shoots to sunshine. Next came a long Sum 
mer of intense drouth, baking and cracking our fields, so that 
the hoe made no serious impression on their rock-like masses, 
causing the corn to stand still and turn yellow, while the 
thistles came up thick, rank, and vigorous, covering the fields 
with a verdure most deceitful to the eye at a distance. We 
had failed in an attempt to make maple sugar that Spring: the 
season being bad, the trees distant, and our knowledge of the 
art very meagre; our crops amounted to little; while the 
water we drank here was so bad that the fever and ague struck 
down our parents in the Fall, and all of us children next 
Spring, when we beat a precipitate retreat from " Flea Knoll," 

where it was said that no family ever remained more than 

a y e a rj _ an d returned to the Minot estate ; living in a larger 
house just west of our former tenement, cultivating the adja 
cent land on shares, and clearing off some twenty acres more 
of young White Pine, for which we were to be paid by two 
years crops ; which proved, in the main, a failure : our wheat 
being destroyed by the midge. 

Thus ended my boyish experiences of farming, which may 
be said to have commenced in my sixth, and closed with my 
fifteenth year. During the whole period, though an eager 
and omnivorous reader, I never saw a book that treated of 
Agriculture and the natural sciences auxiliary thereto. I think 
I never saw even one copy of a periodical devoted mainly to 
farming ; and I doubt that we ever harvested one bounteous 
crop. A good field of rye, or corn, or grass, or potatoes, we 
sometimes had ; but we had more half crops than whole ones ; 
and a good yield of any one product was generally balanced 
by two or three poor ones. I know I had the stuff in me for 
an efficient and successful farmer ; but such training as I 
received at home would never have brought it out. And the 



60 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

moral I would deduce from my experience is simply this : 
Our farmers sons escape from tJieir fatJiers calling whenever 
they can, because it is made a mindless, monotonous drudgery, 
instead of an ennobling, liberalizing, intellectual pursuit. Could 
I have known in my youth what a business farming some 
times is, always may be, and yet generally shall be, I would 
never have sought nor chosen any other. In the farmer s 
calling, as I saw it followed, there was neither scope for ex 
panding faculties, incitement to constant growth in knowl 
edge, nor a spur to generous ambition. To preserve existence 
was its ordinary impulse; to get rich, its exceptional and 
most exalted aim. So I turned from it in dissatisfaction, if 
not in disgust, and sought a different sphere and vocation. 



Fairhaven, lying southeast of Westhaven, was the poorer 
of the two towns thirty years ago, producing no surplus but 
of rye, which was readily transmuted into whiskey, and drank 
at home to no profit; but the more recent development of 
her natural wealth in slate, with the erection of mills for saw 
ing the marble abundantly found a few miles farther east, lias 
given her a pretty rapid and quite substantial growth. Though 
limited in area, and nowise inviting in soil, Fairhaven now 
takes rank with the more prosperous townships of Vermont ; 
a considerable accession of inhabitants, mainly Welsh min 
ers and Irish laborers, with the erection of new dwellings 
and other structures, evincing the thrift which everywhere 
attends or follows the opening of a new field for productive 
industry. Fairhaven might to-day be mistaken, at a hasty 
glance, for a growing township of Pennsylvania or Ohio; 
while Westhaven having no pursuit but Agriculture lies 
petrified and lifeless as though located in Nova Scotia or 
Lower Canada. Clearly, Man was not intended to live by 
bread alone, whether the eating or the growing of it. 



VIII. 



MY APPRENTICESHIP. 

HAVING loved and devoured newspapers indeed, every 
form of periodical from childhood, I early resolved 
to be a printer if I could. When but eleven years old, hear 
ing that an apprentice was wanted in the newspaper office at 
Whitehall, I accompanied my father to that office, and tried 
hard to find favor in the printer s eyes ; but he promptly and 
properly rejected me as too young, and would not relent ; so 
I went home downcast and sorrowful. No new opportunity 
was presented till the Spring of 1826, when an apprentice was 
advertised for by the publishers of The Northern Spectator, at 
East Poultney, Vt. That paper had just been purchased by 
an association of the leading citizens of the place from its 
founders, Messrs. Smith and Shute, who had started it as The 
Poultney Gazette three or four years before. The village, 
though larger and more active then than now, was not ade 
quate to the support of a newspaper ; but the citizens thought 
otherwise, and resolved to maintain one, under the manage 
ment of a committee. So they hired from New York an 
editor, Mr. E. G. Stone, brother of the more distinguished 
editor of The Commercial Advertiser, paid handsomely for 
the printing-office and good-will, and went ahead. Much of 
the old force having left with the retiring publishers, there 
was room for a new apprentice, and I wanted the place. My 
father was about starting for the wide West in quest of a 
future home ; so, not needing at the moment my services, he 
readily acceded to my wishes. I walked over to Poultney, 
saw the publishers, came to an understanding with them, and 



62 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

returned; and a few days afterward April 18, 1826- 
my father took me down, and verbally agreed with them for 
my services. I was to remain till twenty years of age, be 
allowed my board only for six months, and thereafter $ 40 per 
annum in addition for my clothing. So I stopped, and went 
to work ; while he returned to Westhaven, and soon left in 
quest of a more inviting region. He made his way to the 
town of Wayne, Erie County, Pennsylvania, on the State line 
opposite Clymer, Chautauqua County, N. Y., a spot where 
his brothers Benjamin and Leonard had, three or four years 
earlier, made holes in the tall, dense forest, which then 
covered nearly all that region. for twenty to fifty miles in 
every direction. He bought out first one, then another 
pioneer, until he had at length two or three hundred acres of 
good land, but covered with a heavy growth of Beech, Maple, 
Elm, Hemlock, &c. Having made his first purchase, which 
included a log hut, and four acres of clearing, he returned 
for his family ; and I walked over from Poultney to spend a 
Sabbath with and bid them farewell. 

It was a sad parting. We had seen hard times together, 
and were very fondly attached to each other. I was urged 
by some of my kindred to give up Poultney, where there 
were some things in the office not exactly to my mind, and 
accompany them to their new home ; whence, they urged, I 
could easily find, in its vicinity, another and better chance to 
learn my chosen trade. I was strongly tempted to comply ; 
but it would have been bad faith to do so ; and I turned my 
face once more toward Poultney with dry eyes but a heavy 
heart. A word from my mother, at the critical moment, 
might have overcome my resolution ; but she did not speak 
it, and I went my way; leaving the family soon to travel 
much farther, and in an opposite direction. After the parting 
was over, and I well on my way, I was strongly tempted to 
return ; and my walk back to Poultney (twelve miles) was 
one of the slowest and saddest of my life. 

I have ever since been thankful that I did not yield to the 
temptation of the hour. Poultney was a capital place to 



MY APPRENTICESHIP. 63 

serve an apprenticeship. Essentially a rural community, her 
people are at once intelligent and moral ; and there are few 
villages wherein the incitements to dissipation and vice are 
fewer or less obtrusive. The organization and management 
of our establishment were vicious ; for an apprentice should 
have one master ; while I had a series of them, and often two 
or three at once. First, our editor left us ; next, the company 
broke up or broke down, as any one might have known it 
would ; and a mercantile firm in the village became owners 
and managers of the concern ; and so we had a succession of 
editors and of printers. These changes enabled me to demand 
and receive a more liberal allowance for the later years of my 
apprenticeship ; but the office was too laxly ruled for the 
most part, and, as to instruction, every one had perfect liberty 
to learn whatever he could. In fact, as but two, or at most 
three, persons were employed in the printing department, it 
would have puzzled an apprentice to avoid a practical knowl 
edge of whatever was done there. I had not been there a 
year before my hands were blistered and my back lamed by 
working off the very considerable edition of the paper on an 
old-fashioned, two-pull Ramage (wooden) press, a task be 
yond my boyish strength, and I can scarcely recall a day 
wherein we were not hurried by our work. I would not 
imply that I worked too hard ; yet I think few apprentices 
work more steadily and faithfully than I did throughout the 
four years and over of my stay in Poultney. While I lived 
at home, I had always been allowed a day s fishing, at least 
once a month in Spring and Summer, and I once went hunt 
ing ; but I never fished, nor hunted, nor attended a dance, nor 
any sort of party or fandango, in Poultney. I doubt that I 
even played a game of ball. 

Yet I was ever considerately and even kindly treated by 
those in authority over me ; and I believe I generally merited 
and enjoyed their confidence and good- will. Very seldom 
was a word of reproach or dissatisfaction addressed to me by 
one of them. Though I worked diligently, I found much 
time for reading, and might have had more, had every leisure 



64 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

hour been carefully improved. I had been generously loaned 
books from the Minot house while in Westhaven ; I found 
good ones abundant and accessible in Poultney, where I first 
made the acquaintance of a public library. I have never 
since found at once books, and opportunity to enjoy them, so 
ample as while there ; I do not think I ever before or since 
read to so much profit. They say that apprenticeship is dis 
tasteful to, and out of fashion with, the boys of our day : if so, 
I regret it for their sakes. To the youth who asks, " How 
shall I obtain an education ? " I would answer, " Learn a 
trade of a good master." I hold firmly that most boys may 
thus better acquire the knowledge they need than by spending 
four years in college. 

I was kindly allowed to visit my father s family in their 
new Western home twice during my apprenticeship ; having 
a furlough of a month in either instance. I made either jour 
ney by way of the Erie Canal, on those line-boats whose " cent 
and a half a mile, mile and a half an hour," so many yet 
remember. Eailroads, as yet, were not; the days passed 
slowly yet smoothly on those gliding arks, being enlivened 
by various sedentary games ; but the nights were tedious 
beyond any sleeping-car experience. At daybreak, you were 
routed out of your shabby, shelf-like berth, and driven on 
deck to swallow fog while the cabin was cleared of its beds 
and made ready for breakfast. I say nothing as to " the good 
old times " ; but, if any one would recall the good old line- 
boats, I object. And the wretched little tubs that then did 
duty for steamboats on Lake Erie were scarcely less conducive 
to the increase and diffusion of human misery. I have suf 
fered in them to the extent of mortal endurance ; I have left 
one at Dunkirk, and walked twenty miles to Westfield, instead 
of keeping on by boat at a trifling charge, simply because 
flesh and blood could bear the torture no longer. I trust T 
have due respect for " the good old ways " we often hear of ; 
yet I feel that this earthly life has been practically lengthened 
and sweetened by the invention and construction of railroads. 

Among the incidents of my sojourn in Poultney that made 



MY APPRENTICESHIP. 65 

most impression on my mind is a fugitive slave-chase. New 
York had professed to abolish slavery years before, but had 
ordained that certain born slaves should remain such till 
twenty-eight years old ; and the year of jubilee for certain of 
these had not yet come. A young negro, who must have been 
uninstructed in the sacredness of constitutional guaranties, 
the rights of property, &c., &c., &c., feloniously abstracted him 
self from his master in a neighboring New York town, and 
conveyed the chattel-personal to our village ; where he was 
at work when said master, with due process and following, 
came over to reclaim and recover the goods. I never saw so 
large a muster of men and boys so suddenly on our village- 
green as his advent incited ; and the result was a speedy dis 
appearance of the chattel, and the return of his master, dis 
consolate and niggerless, to the place w r hence he came. Every 
thing on our side was impromptu and instinctive ; and nobody 
suggested that envy or hate of " the South," or of New York, 
or of the master, had impelled the rescue. Our .people hated 
injustice and oppression, and acted as if they could n t help it. 
Another fresh recollection of those far-off days concerns 
our Poultney celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Ameri 
can Independence. I know we still celebrate the Fourth of 
July ; but it does seem to me that the glory has departed. 
In those times, we had always from twenty to fifty Kevolu- 
tionary soldiers on the platform, veterans of seventy to 
ninety years, in whose eyes the recurrence of the nation s an 
niversary seemed to rekindle " the light of other days." The 
semi-centennial celebration brought out these in full force, 
the gatherings were unusually large, and the services impres 
sive; since few of those present, and none of the veterans, could 
rationally hope to see its repetition. The Declaration of In 
dependence sounded far less antediluvian than it now does; 
the quarrel of the colonists with King George, if not recent, 
was yet real ; and the old soldiers forgot for a day their rheu 
matism, their decrepitude, and their poverty, and were proud 
of their bygone perils and hardships, and their abiding scars. 
I doubt that Poultney has since been so thrilled with patriotic 

5 



C6 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

emotion as on that 4th of July, 1826 ; and when we learned, 
a few days later, that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the 
author and the great champion, respectively, of the Declara 
tion, had both died on that day, and that the messengers 
bearing South and North, respectively, the tidings of their 
decease, had met in Philadelphia, under the shadow of that 
Hall in which our Independence was declared, it seemed that 
a Divine attestation had solemnly hallowed and sanctified the 
great anniversary by the impressive ministration of Death. 



Time works changes, even where a hasty glance discerns 
but immobility and virtual stagnation. A railroad from Troy 
to Eutland (via Eagle Bridge and Salem, N. Y.) now runs 
through West Poultney; increasing the decided advantage 
which that village had already achieved over its rival by the 
establishment within its limits of a great Methodist seminary 
and of certain manufactures. East Poultney has fewer stores, 
fewer mechanics shops, less business, and fewer inhabi 
tants, than when I first saw it, forty-odd years ago; while 
scarcely a house has meantime been built within its limits. 
It is still a pleasant place to visit, however ; and I live in 
hopes of spending a quiet week there ere I die. 



Our paper was intensely Adams and Clay before, and in the 
Presidential struggle of 1828, and our whole community sym 
pathized with its preference. The defection of our State s fore 
most politician, Governor Cornelius P. Van Ness, after he had 
vainly tried, while professing to be an Adams man, to vault from 
the Governor s chair into the United States Senate, created 
a passing ripple on the face of the current, but did not begin 
to stem it. A few active yet unpopular politicians went over 
with him ; but the masses stood firm, especially in our section, 
where the influence of Hon. Ptollin C. Mallary, our represent 
ative in Congress, was unrivalled. The Jackson party nomi 
nated him for Congress ; but that did not affect his position, 
nor much affect his vote, which in any case would have been 
nearly unanimous. We Vermonters were all Protectionists ; 



MY APPRENTICESHIP. 67 

and Mr. Mallary was the foremost champion of our cause in 
the House. He made a speech in Poultney the evening before 
the election, when, though the omens were sinister, we still 
hoped that Adams might be reflected. The Jackson paper 
nearest us headed its Electoral Ticket, " For General Jackson 
and a Protective Tariff"; and Jackson men all over the 
North and West protested that their party was as decidedly 
for Protection as ours ; pointing to the attitude of Pennsyl 
vania, at once the leading Protectionist and the strongest 
Jackson State ; but we could not help seeing that all the 
Free Traders were for Jackson; that Calhoun was running 
with him for Vice-President ; and that South Carolina was 
threatening nullification and forcible resistance if the Protec 
tive policy were not abandoned ; and we concluded that either 
Pennsylvania or Carolina must be cheated, and that the latter 
would take good care not to be. So Mr. Mallary urged us to 
stand fast by those whom we knew to be devoted to our cher 
ished policy, rather than try those whose professions were 
discredited by notorious facts ; and the response in our section 
was enthusiastic. Poultney gave next day 334 votes for 
Adams to 4 for Jackson. I doubt that her vote has ever 
since been so unanimous or so strong. And, though the gen 
eral result was heavily adverse to our desperate hopes, only 
New England, not quite half of New York, New Jersey, Dela 
ware, and part of Maryland, giving Mr. Adams their votes ; 
while Pennsylvania, the rest of New York, and all the South 
and West, went against him, we had the poor consolation, 
that, for whatever disaster the political revolution might 
involve, no shadow of responsibility could rest on our own 
Vermont. 



IX. 

MY FAITH. 

I MUST have been about ten years old, when, in some 
school-book, whereof I have forgotten the name, I first 
read an account of the treatment of the Athenians by Deme 
trius, called Poliorcetes (Destroyer of Cities), one of the suc 
cessors of " Macedonia s madman." I cannot rediscover that 
account ; so I must be content with the far tamer and less 
vivid narration of the French historian Rollin : 

" Demetrius had withdrawn himself to Ephesus after the Battle 
of Ipsus, [wherein he was routed,] and thence embarked for Greece ; 
his whole resources being trusted to the affection of the Athenians, 
with whom he had left his fleet, money, and wife, Deidamia. But 
he was strangely surprised and offended when he was met on his 
way by ambassadors from the Athenians, who came to apprise him 
that he could not be admitted into their city, because the people 
had, by a decree, prohibited the reception of any of the kings ; 
they also informed him that his consort, Deidamia, had been con 
ducted to Megara with all the honors and attendance due to her 
dignity. Demetrius was then sensible of the value of honors and 
homages extorted by fear, and which did not proceed from the will. 
The posture of his affairs not permitting him to revenge the perfidy 
of that people, he contented himself with kitimating his complaints 
to them in a moderate manner, and demanded his galleys ; with 
which, as soon as he had received them, he sailed toward the 
Chersonesus." 

Not many months elapsed before, through one of those 
strange and sudden mutations which were frequent through 
out his career, the fortunes of Demetrius were completely 



MY FAITH. 69 

restored, and he was enabled to settle his running account 
with those who had proved so treacherous in his adversity. 
I return here to the narration of Eollin : 

" Athens, as we have already observed, had revolted from Deme 
trius, and shut her gates against him. But, when that prince 
thought he had sufficiently provided for the security of his terri 
tories in Asia, he moved against that rebellious and ungrateful^ 
city, with a resolution to punish her as she deserved. The first 
year was devoted to the conquest of the Messenians, and of some 
other cities which had quitted his party ; but he returned the next 
season to Athens, which he closed, blocked up, and reduced to the 
last extremity, by cutting off all influx of provisions. A fleet of a 
hundred and fifty sail, sent by King Ptolemy to succor the Athen 
ians, and which appeared off the coast of J^gina, afforded them but 
a transient joy ; for, when this naval force saw a strong fleet arrive 
from Peloponnesus to the assistance of Demetrius, besides a great 
number of other vessels from Cyprus, and that the whole amounted 
to three hundred, they weighed anchor and fled. 

" Although the Athenians had issued a decree by which they 
made it a capital offence for any person even to mention a peace 
w^ith Demetrius, the extremity to which they were reduced obliged 
them to open their gates to him. When he entered the city, he 
commanded the inhabitants to assemble in the theatre, which he 
surrounded with armed troops, and posted his guards on either 
side of the stage where the dramatic pieces were wont to be per 
formed ; and then, descending from the upper part of the theatre, 
in the manner usual with actors, he showed himself to the multi 
tude, who seemed more dead than alive, and awaited the event in 
inexpressible terror, expecting it would prove their sentence to 
destruction ; but he dissipated their apprehensions by the first 
words he uttered : for he did not raise his voice like a man enraged, 
nor deliver himself in any passionate or insulting terms ; but 
softened the tones of his voice, and only addressed to them gentle 
complaints and amicable expostulations. He pardoned their offence 
and restored them to his favor, presenting them, at the same 
time, with 100,000 measures of corn [wheat], and reinstating such 
magistrates as were most agreeable to them. The joy of this 
people may be easily conceived from the terrors with which they 
were previously affected ; and how glorious must that prince be 
who could ahvays support so admirable a character ! " 



70 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Reflecting with admiration on this exhibition of a mamia- 

O O 

nimity too rare in human annals, I was moved to inquire if a 
spirit so nobly, so wisely, transcending the mean and savage 
impulse which man too often disguises as justice, when it is 
in essence revenge, might not be reverently termed Divine ; 
and the firm conclusion to which I was finally led, imported 
that the old Greek s treatment of vanquished rebels or pros 
trate enemies must forcibly image and body forth that of the 
" King immortal, invisible, and only wise God." 
w When I reached this conclusion, I had never seen one who 
was called, or who called himself, a Universalist ; and I neither 
saw one, nor read a page of any one s writings, for years there 
after. I had only heard that there were a few graceless repro 
bates and scurvy outcasts, who pretended to believe that all 
men would be saved, and to wrench the Scriptures into some 
sort of conformity to their mockery of a creed. I had read 
the Bible through, much of it repeatedly, but when quite 
too infantile to form any coherent, definite synopsis of the 
doctrines I presumed to be taught therein. But, soon after 
entering a printing-office, I procured exchanges with several 
Universalist periodicals, and was thenceforth familiar with 
their methods of interpretation and of .argument; though I 
first heard a sermon preached by one of this school while 
passing through Buffalo, about 1830 ; and I was acquainted 
with no society, and no preacher, of this faith, prior to my 
arrival in New York in August, 1831 ; when I made my way, 
on the first Sunday morning of my sojourn, to the little chapel 
in Grand Street, near Pitt, about the size of an average 
country school-house, where Rev. Thomas J. Sawyer, then 
quite young, ministered to a congregation of, perhaps, a 
hundred souls ; to which congregation I soon afterward 
attached myself: remaining a member of it until he left 
the city. 

I am not, therefore, to be classed with those who claim to 
have been converted from one creed to another by studying 
the Bible alone. Certainly, upon re-reading that book in the 
light of my new convictions, I found therein abundant proof 



MY FAITH. 71 

of their correctness in the averments of patriarchs,* prophets,! 
apostles, $ and of the Messiah himself. But not so much in. 
particular passages, however pertinent and decisive, as in the 
spirit and general scope of the Gospel, so happily blending 
inexorable punishment for every offence with unfailing pity 
and ultimate forgiveness for the chastened transgressor, thus 
saving sinners from sin by leading them, through suffering, to 
loathe and forsake it ; and in laying down its Golden Rule, 
which, if of universal application, (and why not ?) must be 
utterly inconsistent with the infliction of infinite and unending 
torture as the penalty of transient, and often ignorant, offend 
ing, did I find ample warrant for my hope and trust that all 
suffering is disciplinary and transitional, and shall ultimately 
result in universal holiness and consequent happiness. 

In the light of this faith, the dark problem of Evil is irra 
diated, and virtually solved. "Perfect through suffering" 
was the way traced out for the great Captain of our salvation : 
then why not for all the children of Adam ? To say that 
temporary affliction is as difficult to reconcile with Divine 
goodness as eternal agony is to defy reason and insult common 
sense. The history of Joseph s perfidious sale into slavery by 
his brethren, and the Divine overruling || of that crime into a 
means of vast and permanent blessing to the entire family of 
Jacob, is directly in point. Once conceive that an Omniscient 
Beneficence presides over and directs the entire course of 
human affairs, leading ever onward and upward to universal 
purity and bliss, and all evil becomes phenomenal and pre 
parative, a mere curtain or passing cloud, which hides for a 
moment the light of the celestial and eternal day. 

I am not wise enough, even in my own conceit, to assume 
to say where and when the deliverance of our race from evil 
and suffering shall be consummated. Perceiving that many 

* Gen. iii. 15; xii. 3. 
t Isa. xxv. 8; xlv. 23-25. 

J Rom. v. 12-21 ; viii. 19-21; 1 Cor. xv. 42 - 54 ; Eph. i. 8-10; Col. i. 
19-21 ; 1 Tim. ii. 3-6. 

Matt. xv. 13 ; John xii. 32. 
II Gen. xlv. 5-8. 



72 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

leave this stage of being depraved and impenitent, I cannot 
believe that they will be transformed into angels of purity by 
the intervention of a circumstance so purely physical and 
involuntary as death. Holding that the government of God 
is everywhere and always perfect (however inadequate may 
be our comprehension of it), I infer that, alike in all worlds, 
men will be chastised whenever they shall need to be, and 
that neither by suicide, nor any other device, can a single 
individual escape the penalty of his evil-doing. If man is 
punished because he needs to be, because that is best for 
him, why should such discipline be restricted to this span 
of life ? While I know that the words translated hell, eternal, 
&c., in our version of the Bible, bear various meanings which 
the translators have befogged, giving hell, the grave, the pit, 
&c., as equivalents of the one Hebrew term that signifies the 
unseen home of departed souls, and while I am sure that 
the luxuriant metaphors whereby a state of anguish and suffer 
ing are depicted were not meant to be taken literally, I yet 
realize that human iniquity is often so flagrant and enormous 
that its punishment, to be just and efficient, must be severe 
and protracted. How or where it will be inflicted are matters 
of incident and circumstance, not of principle nor of primary 
consequence. Enough that it will be administered by One 
who " doth not willingly * [that is, wantonly] afflict nor grieve 
the children of men," but because their own highest good 
demands it, and would be prejudiced by his withholding it. 
But I do not dogmatize nor speculate. I rest in a more as 
sured conviction of what Tennyson timidly, yet impressively, 
warbles, in mourning the death of his beloved friend : 

" O, yet we trust that, somehow, good < 
Will be the final goal of ill, 
To pangs of nature, sins of will, 
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; 

" That nothing walks with aimless feet; 

That not one life shall be destroyed, 
Or cast as rubbish to the void, 
When God hath made the pile complete ; 

* Lam. iii. 33. 



MY FAITH. 73 

" That not a worm is cloven in vain ; 

That not a moth, with vain desire, 
Is shrivelled in a fruitless fire, 
Or but subserves another s gain. 

" Behold ! we know not anything : 

I can but trust that good shall fall 

At last, far off, at last, to all, 

And every Winter change to Spring." 

Twenty years earlier, Mrs. Hemans, when on the brink of 
the angelic life, was blest with a gleam from within the celes 
tial gates, and, in almost her last sonnet, faintly refracted it 
as follows : 

" ON RECORDS OF IMMATURE GENIUS. 

" O, judge in thoughtful tenderness of those 

Who, richly dowered for life, are called to die 
Ere the soul s flame, through storms, hath won repose 

In truth s divinest ether, still and high ! 

Let their minds riches claim a trustful sigh ; 
Deem them but sad, sweet fragments of a strain, 

First notes of some yet struggling harmony 
By the strong rush, the crowding joy and pain, 

Of many inspirations, met and held 

From its true sphere. O, soon it might have swelled 
Majestically forth ! Nor doubt that He 

Whose touch mysterious may on earth dissolve 

Those links of music, elsewhere will evolve 
Their grand, consummate hymn, from passion-gusts made free ! " 

If I pronounce timid and tentative these and many kindred 
utterances of modern poets, I mean only that the great truth, 
so obscurely hinted by one, and so doubtingly asserted by the 
other, had long before been more firmly grasped, and more 
boldly proclaimed, by seers like Milton and Pope, and has in 
our age been affirmed and systematically elucidated by the 
calm, cogent reasoning of Ballon, the critical research of Bal- 
four, the fervid eloquence of Chapin, and- hundreds beside 
them, until it is no longer a feeble hope, a trembling aspira 
tion, a pleasing hypothesis, but an assured and joyful convio-/ 
tion. In its clear daylight, the hideous Inquisition, and all 
kindred devices for torturing heretics, under a libellous pre- 



74 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

tence of zeal for God, shrink and cower in shame and terror ; 
the revolting gallows hides itself from public view, prelimi 
nary to its utter and final disappearance ; and man, growing 
ashamed of all cruelty and revenge, deals humanely with the 
outcast, the pauper, the criminal, and the vanquished foe. 
The overthrow of a rebellion is no longer the signal for 
sweeping spoliation and massacre ; the downfall of an ancient 
tyranny like that of Naples is followed by no butchery of its 
pertinacious upholders ; and our earth begins to body forth and 
mirror but so slowly, so faintly ! the merciful doctrines 
of the meek and loving Prince of Peace. 



Perhaps I ought to add, that, with the great body of the 
Universalists of our day (who herein differ from the earlier 
pioneers in America of our faith), I believe that " our God 
is one Lord," - that " though there be that are called gods, 
as there be gods many and lords many, to us there is but one 
God, the Father, of whom are all things, one Lord Jesus 
Christ, by whom are all things " ; * and I find the relation 
between the Father and the Saviour of mankind most fully 
and clearly set forth in that majestic first chapter of Hebrews, 
which I cannot see how any Trinitarian can ever have intently 
read, without perceiving that its whole tenor and burden are 
directly at war with his conception of " three persons in one 
God." Nor can I see how Paul s express assertion, that " when 
all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son him 
self also be subject to Him that put all things under him, that 
God may be all in all," f is to be reconciled with the more 
popular creed. However, I war not upon others convictions, 
but rest satisfied with a simple statement of my own. 

* 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. t 1 Cor. xv. 28. 



X. 

A YEAR BY LAKE ERIE. 

WHEN I entered Poultney, an aspirant to apprenticeship 
in her printing-office, I knew no one of her citizens 
or residents ; when I left that place, after a quiet sojourn of a 
little more than four years, I parted with many valued friends, 
of whom all who survive still, I trust, remain such. I have 
never since known a community so generally moral, intelli 
gent, industrious, and friendly, never one where so much 
good was known, and so little evil said, of neighbor by neigh 
bor. There is no single individual among the many whose 
acquaintance I formed there, of whom I have other than a 
kindly remembrance ; while of nearly all those with whom I 
was brought into immediate contact I cherish fervid and 
grateful recollections. 

The two-story wooden house, whence our Spectator was 
issued, still stands on the east side of the street leading from 
north to south, a few rods southeast of the Baptist meeting 
house, near the centre of the village green ; but the printing 
materials were packed up directly after I left, and have been 
sold away, I know not whither. No single number of a 
journal has been issued from that town since I left it in 
June, 1830. 

A friend of like years accompanied me thence by wagon to 
Comstock s Landing, on the Champlain Canal, where we 
waited, scarcely twelve miles from Poultney, through a dreary 
day of pelting rain, for a line-boat from Whitehall, whereon 
we crept snail-like to Troy, and thence, by another such con 
veyance, to Buffalo ; though my friend stopped to look about 



76 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

him not far westward of Eochester. I kept on by steamboat 
on Lake Erie to Dunkirk, and thence diagonally across Chau- 
tauqua County to my father s in Pennsylvania. 

I think it was on this visit that I made my best day s walk, 

- from Fredonia, through Mayville and Mina, to my father s, 

which can hardly be less than forty miles now, and by the 

zigzags we then made must have been considerably farther. 

I have known my father to walk fifty-two miles in a day, 

that is, betwixt morning and midnight, and I had made 
thirty-six miles per day (from Salem, Washington County, 
N. Y., to Westhaven) before I was fifteen years old ; but I 
caught a horseback ride for several miles of the distance. I 
estimated the route I travelled from Fredonia to Wayne at 
forty-five miles of bad road, equal to fifty of good. He who 
will measure his walk by mile-stones, as I have done, will 
discover that lively and persistent stepping, with no stopping 
to chase butterflies, is required to make four miles per hour. 
I have done this on the tow-path of the Delaware and Karitan 
Canal > but the sweat started freely pretty early in the second 
mile. Beginning at twenty-five miles per day, walking slowly, 
but keeping pretty constantly in motion, you may add two to 
three miles per day, till you have reached forty ; all above 
that, I judge, must, for most persons, involve exhaustive 
fatigue. I once walked across a corner of Chautauqua Lake 
when it was freshly frozen, and learned that walking on 
smooth ice, no matter how firm and assured your tread, will 
start the sweat on the coldest day, though you have been quite 
cool enough while walking on hard, frozen ground. 

The railroads have nearly killed pedestrianism, and I regret 
it. Days of steady, solitary walking I have found most favor 
able to patient meditation. To study Nature profitably, you 
must be left alone with her, she does not unveil herself to 
babbling, shouting crowds. A walk of two or three hundred 
miles in a calm, clear October, is one of the cheap and whole 
some luxuries of life, as free to the poor as the rich. I do 
not regard the modern student plan of tramping and camping, 
ten to twenty in a mess, as its fair equivalent. A solitary 



A YEAR BY LAKE ERIE. 77 

walk of day after day is inevitably sober, quiet, thoughtful ; 
and the weary pedestrian washes his feverish feet and drops 
asleep very soon after he has halted at night. An encamp 
ment of several pedestrians, whether in tent or tavern, is prone 
to stories, songs, games, feasting, drinking, and often to bois 
terous hilarity, whereby rest is postponed or sacrificed, and 
health imperilled. Of course, these evils are often shunned 
or repelled; yet I would advise the young pedestrian, who 
seeks mainly enjoyment, to travel with a single, well-chosen 
friend; if his aim be meditation and self-improvement, let 
him swing his pack and step off entirely alone. 

I was once travelling in the company of a chance companion, 
whom I had never seen before, and have not seen since, a 
man of perhaps forty years, when our route led us through 
the village of Mayville, Chautauqua County, N. Y. We were 
in doubt as to our road beyond that village, and civilly in 
quired our way of a thrifty citizen whom we met. He looked 
us well over, and, seeing that we were evidently of no account, 
vouchsafed us never a word of reply, but passed us in utter 
silence. We, too, walked on without remark, until, at length, 
my companion broke the stillness with the abrupt observation : 

" I am glad I have got to die some time." 

I did not see the point, and looked inquiry. 

" Because," he resumed, " that man has got to die just the 
same as I have." 

I saw. 

On my first visit to my father s forest home, I had entered 
the little hamlet termed Clymer, then of four or five very 
new houses, just at dusk of a Saturday night, when I learned 
that the log-cabin I sought was three miles away in a south 
westerly course. " But you can t make your way to it to 
night," I was very properly advised. I tried to hire some one 
to guide me, but without success ; there was no tavern to stay 
at; so I took the track pointed out, and plunged into the 
darkening woods. Half a mile on, the cart-tracks diverged; 
and I took the more easterly and wrong one. I went on till 
I found a log-cabin tenanted by a mother and her children, 



78 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

who responded to my inquiries that they knew the way to 
Zack Greeley s quite well, but that it was two miles off, 
through dense woods, away from any road, and could not be 
reached that night, especially as the two intervening cabins 
stood tenantless, their usual occupants having gone off to 
work on the Pennsylvania State Canal, then being dug in the 
vicinity of Meadville. I was pressed to stay here till morn 
ing, and there being no practicable alternative consented. 
The house was quite new, consisting of a single room, some 
twenty by sixteen feet, and the logs of which it was built 
were still so green that the fire was made close to one side, 
on the bare earth, with no fireplace and no chimney save a 
hole through the bark-covered roof. The man of the house 
soon came home, and we all slept sweetly till morning, when 
I made my way to my destination. 

The cabin which my father had bought with his land was 
a little better than that I have just described, but nothing to 
brag of. My mother born half a century after the log-cabin 
stage of Londonderry could never be reconciled to this, nor 
to either of the two rather better ones that the family tenanted 
before it emerged into a poor sort of framed house. In fact, 
she had plunged into the primitive forest too late in life, and 
never became reconciled to the pioneer s inevitable discom 
forts. The chimney of the best log-house, she insisted, would 
smoke ; and its roof, in a driving, drenching rain, would leak, 
do what you might. I think the shadow of the great woods 
oppressed her from the hour she first entered them ; and, 
though removed but two generations from pioneer ancestors, 
she was never reconciled to what the less roughly bred must 
always deem privations and hardships. I never caught the 
old smile on her face, the familiar gladness in her mood, the 
hearty joyfulness in her manner, from the day she entered 
those woods until that of her death, nearly thirty years later, 
in August, 1855. Though not yet sixty-eight, she had for 
years been worn out by hard work, and broken down in mind 
and body. Those who knew her only in her later years, when 
toil and trouble had gained the victory over her, never truly 
knew her at all. 



A YEAR BY LAKE ERIE. 79 

My father had for many years perhaps from boyhood 
fixed his affections on Western Pennsylvania as his ultimate 
home ; and the region to which his footsteps were at length 
directed is essentially a good one. Situated on high, moder 
ately rolling land, just across the line from Clymer, Chau- 
tauqua County, N. Y., in Erie County, Pa., two miles from the 
line of Warren County, the region is healthy and the soil 
strong, though better adapted to grass than to grain. He 
never wished to move again. Still, it was a mistake, at his 
time of life, to plunge so deep into the primitive forest. The 
giant timber Beech, Maple, Hemlock, Elm, Ash, Basswood, 
&c. yielded very slowly to his axe ; he and my brother 
were often a full Winter month in chopping off an acre ; and 
logging up and burning made another serious job ; still leaving 
the soil cold with green roots, and deformed by an eruption 
of stumps, which must be allowed years wherein to rot out. 
A wealthy pioneer, w^ho can pay for slashing or winrowing 
forty to eighty acres at once of timber when in full leaf, and 
can afford to let it lie untouched for a full year (better still, 
two years), and then put fire into it when favored by a dry 
spell and a good breeze, then log off and put it into grain 
forthwith, may clear at a third of the cost to, and have his land 
in far better condition than the poor settler, who must burn 
up his timber green, because he needs the land to till, and 
cannot afford to lay out of the fruits of his labor for years. 
Thus, a poor man hews a farm out of the great woods at more 
than twice the proper cost, and injures the soil by the pro 
cess. I presume my folks gave two thousand days work to 
gathering ashes from their burned log-heaps, and leaching 
them into " Black Salts " (the base of Pot and Pearl Ashes), 
because they must have wherewith to pay store-bills, though 
the product did not give fifty cents return for each fair day s 
work, and the removal of the ashes impoverished the soil by 
more than they brought. But the crops grown among green 
roots, in a small excavation from a vast, tall forest, are pre 
carious and scanty at best, being preyed upon by pigeons in 
myriads, and by all manner of four-footed beasts ; and the 



80 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

pioneer s family must somehow live while he slowly trans 
forms the stubborn wilderness into fruitful fields and orchards. 



After spending some weeks at home, I sought work at my 
trade in various directions : finding a little first at Jamestown, 
N. Y., and, after an interval, more at Lodi (now Gowanda), 
Cattaraugus County, where I received $11 per month for six 
weeks ; but my employer could afford to hire a journeyman 
no longer; and I thence walked home across Chautauqua 
County, about January 1, 1831, and remained a full month 
a bitter cold one chopping with my father and brother, 
but not very efficiently nor satisfactorily. Fully convinced 
that the life of a pioneer was one to which I was poorly 
adapted, I made one more effort to resume my chosen calling. 
Having already exhausted the possibilities in the printing 
line of Chautauqua County, I now visited Erie, Pa., where I 
found work in the office of The Erie Gazette, and was retained 
at $ 1 5 per month well into the ensuing summer. 

This was the first newspaper whereon I was employed that 
made any money for its owner, and thus had a pecuniary 
value. It had been started twenty years or so before, when 
borough and county were both thinly peopled, almost wholly 
by poor young men, and it had grown with the vicinage until 
it had a substantial, profitable patronage. Its proprietor, Mr. 
Joseph M. Sterrett, now in the prime of life, had begun on The 
Gazette as a boy, and grown up with it into general considera 
tion and esteem ; his journeymen and apprentices boarded at 
his house, as was fit ; and I spent here five months industri 
ously and agreeably. Though still a raw youth of twenty 
years, and knowing no one in the borough when I thus entered 
it, I made acquaintances there who are still valued friends ; 
and, before I left, I was offered a partnership in the concern ; 
which, though I had reasons for declining, was none the less 
flattering as a mark of appreciation and confidence. Mr. 
Sterrett has since represented his district acceptably in the 
Senate of Pennsylvania, has received other proofs of the trust- 



A YEAR BY LAKE ERIE. 81 

ful regard of his fellow-citizens ; and, though he has retired 
from The Gazette, still lives in the enjoyment of competence 
and general esteem. 

Erie dwells in my memory as a place which started with 
too sanguine expectations, and was thus exposed to a sudden 
check, from which it has never fully recovered. From time 
to time, its early dreams of greatness have been revived by a 
State canal, by railroads, by coal-mines, and at length by the 
oil developments of the Titusville region not far south of it ; 
but they have never been fully realized. It was rather a 
busy borough for its size in 1831 ; it is much larger and more 
important now ; yet it has seen Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, on 
either side, rise above it like meteors, and not merely achieve 
a preeminence, but retain it. I fancy it must have ceased 
even to dream of coming grandeur by this time. 

The quality for which its people were most remarkable in 
1831 was an intense addiction to partisan strife. An ardent 
politician from childhood, I was fairly appalled by the assidu 
ity and vehemence wherewith political controversy was prose 
cuted by nearly every man and boy I met in Erie. I have 
seen individual politicians elsewhere who could never set eyes 
on a stranger without mentally measuring up the feet and 
inches of party capital that might be made out of him ; but 
politics in Erie seemed the universal and engrossing topic, to 
an extent and in a degree I have never known paralleled. 
Possibly, however, there was a temporary frenzy on the sub 
ject while I stayed there, from which her people have long 
since recovered. At all events, I will hope so. 



At length, work failed at The Gazette office, and I was con 
strained to take a fresh departure. No printing-office in all 
that region wanted a journeyman. The West seemed to be 
laboring under a surfeit of printers. One was advertised for 
to take charge of a journal at Wilkesbarre, Pa., and I applied 
for the place, but failed to secure it. I would gladly have 
given faithful labor at case and press through some years yet 
6 



82 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

for $ 15 per month and board, or even less ; but it was not to 
be had. So, upon full consideration, I decided to turn my 
steps toward the Commercial Emporium, while still consider 
ably younger than I would have preferred to be on making 
such a venture. Paying a parting visit to my father s, under 
the reasonable expectation that my next absence would be a 
long one, I divided with him my Erie earnings, and, with $25 
in my pocket, and very little extra clothing in my bundle, I 
set my face toward New York. 

It was now midsummer, dry and hot. I had but one 
friend on my rather long route, and I resolved to pay him a 
visit. He lived at Gaines, nearly forty miles westward of 
Eochester ; and I traversed on foot the dusty " ridge road " 
eastward from Lockport the day before I reached him. That 
day was quite hot, and the water I was incessantly compelled 
to drink seemed very hard ; by nightfall, I fancied that it had 
covered my mouth and throat with a scale like that often 
found incrusting a long-used tea-kettle. The region was 
gently rolling and very fertile; but I should have more 
enjoyed a saunter over New England hills and rocks, sweet 
ened by draughts from New England wells and springs. 

It was Saturday night when I reached my friend, and I 
remained with him till Sunday afternoon, when we walked 
down to the canal, and waited long for a boat. None came 
till after nightfall, when I dismissed my friend, confident that 
a boat must soon appear. After waiting in vain till near 
midnight, I started down the tow-path, and walked through 
the pitchy darkness to Brockport, some fifteen miles. Re 
peatedly, the head-light of a boat moving westward came in 
sight, when I was obliged to plunge down the often rugged, 
briery, off-bank of the tow-path, to avoid being caught by the 
tow-line and hauled into the not quite transparent and nowise 
inviting " drink." Though the almanac made that night short, 
it seemed to me quite long ; and I very gladly hailed and 
boarded at Brockport a line-boat heading eastward. My 
sleepy tendencies amused my fellow-passengers thence to 
Rochester, to whom " sparking Sunday night " afforded a 
ready and natural explanation. 



XI. 

MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN NEW YORK. 

T) EACHING Schenectady from Buffalo by line-boat, 
Xv my sixth and last journey on " the raging canal," I 
debarked about 6 P. M., and took the turnpike for Albany. I 
think a railroad between the two cities first and last named 
was completed soon afterward ; but I believe not a mile of 
iron track was then operated in the State, if (in fact) anywhere 
in America, save the little affair constructed to freight granite 
from the quarry at Quincy, Mass., to Boston. Night fell when 
I was about half-way over ; so I sought rest in one of the 
many indifferent taverns that then lined the turnpike in ques 
tion, and was directed to sleep in an ante-room through which 
people were momently passing ; I declined, and, gathering up 
my handful of portables, walked on. Half a mile farther, I 
found another tavern, not quite so inhospitable, and managed 
to stay in it till morning ; when I rose and walked on to 
Albany. Having never been in that city before, I missed the 
nearest way to the day-boat, and when I reached the landing 
it was two or three lengths on its way to New York, having 
left at 7 A. M. I had no choice but to wait for another, which 
started at 10 A. M., towing a barge on either side, and reached, 
in twenty hours, the emporium, where I, after a good view of 
the city as we passed it down the river, was landed near 
Whitehall at 6 A. M. 

New York was then about one third of her present size ; but 
her business was not one fourth so great as now ; and her real 
size counting her suburbs, and considering the tens of 
thousands who find employment in and earn subsistence here, 



84 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

though sleeping outside of her chartered limits was not one 
fifth that of 1867. No single railroad pointed toward her 
wharves. No line of ocean steamers brought passengers to 
her hotels, nor goods to her warehouses, from any foreign port. 
In the mercantile world, her relative rank was higher, but her 
absolute importance was scarcely greater, than that of Rio 
Janeiro or San Francisco is to-day. Still, to my eyes, which 
had never till yesterday gazed on a city of even 20,000 in 
habitants, nor seen a sea-going vessel, her miles square of 
mainly brick or stone houses, and her furlongs of masts and 
yards, afforded ample incitement to a wonder and admiration 
akin to awe. 

It was, if I recollect aright, the 17th of August, 1831. I 
was twenty years old the preceding February ; tall, slender, 
pale, and plain, with ten dollars in my pocket, Summer cloth 
ing worth perhaps as much more, nearly all on my back, and 
a decent knowledge of so much of the art of printing as a boy 
will usually learn in the office of a country newspaper. But 
I knew no human being within two hundred miles, and my 
unmistakably rustic manner and address did not favor that 
immediate command of remunerating employment which was 
my most urgent need. However, the world was all before 
me ; my personal estate, tied up in a pocket-handkerchief, did 
not at all encumber me ; and I stepped lightly off the boat, 
and away from the detested hiss of escaping steam, walking 
into and up Broad Street in quest of a boarding-house. I 
found and entered one at or near the corner of Wall ; but the 
price of board given me was $ 6 per week ; so I did not need 
the giver s candidly kind suggestion that I would probably 
prefer one where the charge was more moderate. Wandering 
thence, I cannot say how, to the North River side, I halted 
next at 168 West Street, where the sign of "Boarding" on a 
humbler edifice fixed my attention. I entered, and was 
offered shelter and subsistence at $2.50 per week, which 
seemed more rational, and I closed the bargain. 

My host was Mr. Edward McGolrick ; his place quite as 
much grog-shop as boarding-house ; but it was quietly, decently 



MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN NEW YORK. 85 

kept while I stayed in it, and he and his family were kind 
and friendly. I regret to add that liquor proved his ruin not 
many years afterward. My first day in New York was a 
Friday, and, the family being Eoman Catholic, no meat was 
eaten or provided, which I understood ; but when Sunday 
evening was celebrated by unlimited card-playing in that 
same house, my traditions were decidedly jarred. I do not 
imply that my observances were better or worse than my 
host s, but that they were different. 

Having breakfasted, I began to ransack the city for work, 
and, in my total ignorance, traversed many streets where none 
could possibly be found. In the course of that day and the 
next, however, I must have visited fully two thirds of the 
printing-offices on Manhattan Island, without a gleam of suc 
cess. It was midsummer, when business in New York is 
habitually dull; and my youth, and unquestionable air of 
country greenness, must have told against me. When I called 
at The Journal of Commerce, its editor, Mr. David Hale, bluntly 
told me I was a runaway apprentice from some country office ; 
which was a very natural, though mistaken, presumption. I 
returned to my lodging on Saturday evening, thoroughly 
weary, disheartened, disgusted with New York, and resolved 
to shake its dust from my feet next Monday morning, while 
I could still leave with money in my pocket, and before its 
almshouse could foreclose upon me. 

But that was not to be. On Sunday afternoon and even 
ing several young Irishmen called at McGolrick s, in their 
holiday saunterings about town ; and, being told that I was a 
young printer in quest of work, interested themselves in my 
effort, with the spontaneous kindness of their race. One 
among them happened to know a place where printers were 
wanted, and gave me the requisite direction; so that, on 
visiting the designated spot next morning, I readily found 
employment ; and thus, when barely three days a resident, I 
had found anchorage in New York. 

The printing establishment was John T. West s, over 
McElrath and Bangs s publishing-house, 85 Chatham Street, 



86 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY L1PE. 

and the work was at my call simply because no printer who 
knew the city would accept it. It was the composition of a 
very small (32mo) New Testament, in double columns, of 
Agate type, each column barely 12 ems wide, with a centre 
column of notes in Pearl, only 4 ems wide ; the text thickly 
studded with references by Greek and superior letters to the, 
notes, which of course were preceded and discriminated by 
corresponding indices, with prefatory and supplementary re 
marks on each Book, set in Pearl, and only paid for as Agate. 
The type was considerably smaller than any to which I had 
been accustomed ; the narrow measure and thickly sown Italics 
of the text, with the strange characters employed as indices, 
rendered it the slowest, and by far the most difficult, work I 
had ever undertaken; while the making up, proving, and 
correcting twice, and even thrice over, preparatory to stereo 
typing, nearly doubled the time required for ordinary com 
position. I was never a swift type-setter ; I aimed to be an 
assiduous and correct one ; but my proofs on this work at first 
looked as though they had caught the chicken-pox, and were 
in the worst stage of a profuse eruption. For the first two or 
three weeks, being sometimes kept waiting for letter, I scarcely 
made my board; while, by diligent type-sticking through 
twelve to fourteen hours per day, I was able, at my best, to 
earn but five to six dollars per week. As scarcely another 
compositor could be induced to work on it more than two 
days, I had this job in good part to myself; and I persevered 
to the end of it. I had removed, very soon after obtaining it, 
to Mrs. Mason s shoemaker boarding-house at the corner of 
Chatham and Duane Streets, . nearly opposite my work ; so 
that I was enabled to keep doing nearly all the time I did not 
need for meals and sleep. When it was done, I was out of 
work for a fortnight, in spite of my best efforts to find more ; 
so I attended, as an unknown spectator, the sittings of the 
Tariff Convention, which was held at the American Institute, 
north end of the City Hall Park, and presided over by Hon. 
William Wilkms, of Pittsburg, Pa. I next found work in 
Ann Street, on a short-lived monthly, where my pay was not 



MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN NEW YORK. 87 

forthcoming ; and the next month saw me back at West s, 
where a new work a commentary on the Book of Genesis, 
by Kev. George Bush had come in ; and I worked on it 
throughout. The chirography was blind; the author made 
many vexatious alterations in proof ; the page was small and 
the type close ; but, though the reverse of fat, in printers 
jargon, it was not nearly so abominably lean as the Testament ; 
and I regretted to reach the end of it. When I did, I was 
again out of work, and seriously meditated seeking employ 
ment at something else than printing ; but the Winter was a 
hard one, and business in New York stagnant to an extent 
not now conceivable. I think it was early in December, when 
a " cold snap " of remarkable severity closed the Hudson, and 
sent up the price of coal at a bound to $ 16 per ton, while the 
cost of other necessaries of life took a kindred but less con 
siderable elevation. Our city stood as if besieged till Spring 
relieved her; and it was much the same every Winter. 
Mechanics and laborers lived awhile on the scanty savings of 
the preceding Summer and Autumn ; then on such credit as 
they could wring from grocers and landlords, till milder 
weather brought them work again. The earnings of good 
mechanics did not average $ 8 per week in 1831 - 32, while they 
are now double that sum ; and living is not twice as dear as 
it then was. Meat may possibly be ; but Bread is not ; Fuel is 
not ; Clothing is not ; while travel is cheaper ; and our little cars 
have enabled working-men to live two or three miles from 
their work without serious cost or inconvenience ; thus bring 
ing Yorkville or Green Point practically as near to Maiden 
Lane or Broad Street as Greenwich or the Eleventh Ward was. 
Winter is relatively dull now, but not nearly so stagnant as 
it formerly was. In spite of an inflated currency and high 
taxes, it is easier now for a working-man to earn his living in 
New York than it was thirty to forty years ago. 

About the 1st of January, 1832, I found employment on 
The Spirit of the Times, a weekly paper devoted to sporting in 
telligence, then started by Messrs. William T. Porter and James 
Howe, two young printers, of whom the former, if not both, 



88 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

had worked with me at West s the previous Fall. I think it 
was a little after midnight, on the 1st of January, 1832, that 
we compositors delivered the forms of the first number into 
the hands of the pressmen in an upper story in Fulton Street. 
The concern migrated to Wall Street the next March, finding 
a location very near the present site of the Merchants Ex^ 
change ; and I clung to it through the ensuing Spring and 
Summer ; its foreman, Francis V. Story, being nearly of my 
own age, and thenceforth my devoted friend. But the founders 
and editors were also quite young ; they were inexperienced 
in their calling, without capital or influential friends, having 
recently drifted from the country to the city much as I did ; 
and their paper did not pay, I know it was difficult to make 
it pay me, especially through the dreary cholera Summer of 
1832. The disease was then new to the civilized world, while 
the accounts of its recent ravages in the far East were calcu 
lated to appall the stoutest heart ; the season was sultry, the 
city filthy, and the water we drank such as should breed a 
pestilence at any time. New York had long enjoyed and 
deserved the reputation of having worse water than any other 
city of its size on earth ; and the loose, porous sands whereon 
it was built rendered this fluid more and more detestable as 
the city grew larger and older. I am glad that it was my 
privilege to vote soon afterward for the introduction of the 
Croton, which I did right heartily, though a good many op 
posed it (some of them voting " Brandy ") ; two of the Wards, 
tenanted mainly by poor men, giving majorities against it. 
Twelve years intervened betwixt that vote and our celebra 
tion to welcome the actual introduction of the water, the 
fluid we drew from the wells growing steadily more and more 
repulsive and unwholesome ; but the glad day came at last ; 
and New York has ever since been a more eligible, healthful 
residence for rich or poor than it previously was. 

We have had cholera and other epidemics since ; but our 
city has never since been paralyzed as it was in the Summer 
of 1832. Those who could mainly left us ; scarcely any one 
entered the city; trade was dead, and industry languished 



MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN NEW YORK. 89 

during that fatal Summer. I think I sometimes met two, if 
not three, palanquins, bearing cholera patients to some hos 
pital, in my short walk from dinner in Chatham Street to my 
work in Wall Street. One died at my boarding-house. I 
believe nearly all experienced symptoms of the plague, though 
it was most common and most fatal with those debilitated by 
intemperance or some form of sensual excess. But it passed 
off as cool evenings came on ; our fugitives and our business 
came back to us ; and all, save the dead and the bereaved, 
was as before. 

In October I paid a visit, via Providence and Boston, to my 
relatives in New Hampshire; walking over the lower part of 
that State from Londonderry into eastern Vermont, and as far 
north as Newport, which I entered after dark of a stormy even 
ing, having walked from Claremont (nine miles) in a rain, at 
first gentle, but steadily increasing to the last. I never enter, 
as a stranger, a private house if I can avoid it ; and I kept 
hoping to see a tavern-sign until I was so wet that it was of 
no consequence. When at last I reached the village, where 
I expected (but failed) to find an uncle living, it proved to be 
court-week, with the two taverns crowded to overflowing. 
Making my way through a thick cloud of tobacco-smoke to 
the office of one, I procured a remnant of supper, and part of 
a bed in a private house at some distance, where I threw off 
my wet clothes and slept. In the morning, my clothes all 
responded to the call to duty till it came to my short boots ; 
these utterly refused, until I had taken off my wet socks and 
thrust them into my pockets, when the boots were barely 
persuaded to resume their only serviceable position. I took 
breakfast, paid my bill, and walked off, in the frosty morning 
air, considerably less supple-jointed than one should be at one- 
and-twenty. I never saw this New Hampshire Newport be 
fore, and have not seen it since. 

My relatives being pretty widely scattered, I had occasion 
to traverse southwestern New Hampshire in various direc 
tions ; and I saw more of that State than ever before or 
since. I started, one clear, frosty morning, from Francestown, 



90 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

taking a mountainous by-way to Stoddard ; and, as I recollect, 
I did not see a hundred acres of really arable soil in travelling 
twelve to fifteen miles. There was some rugged pasturage ; 
but Hemlock and White Birch, alternating with naked rocks 
and mountain tarns or petty lakes, generally monopolized 
the prospect. I met one poor soul who had a horse and 
wagon, and heartily pitied him. He could rarely ride, while 
my walk was far easier and less anxious than his. 

Beaching Stoddard (a small village half-way up a high 
hill), I stepped into a convenient tavern, and called for dinner. 
My breakfast had been quite early ; the keen air and rough 
walk had freshened my appetite ; I was shown into a dining- 
room with a well-spread table in the centre, and left to help 
myself. There were steaks, chickens, tea, coffee, pies, &c., and 
I did ample justice to all. " What is to pay ? " I asked the 
landlord, on reentering the bar-room. " Dinner 18f cents," he 
replied. I laid down the required sum, and stepped off, men 
tally resolving that I would, in mercy to that tavern, never 
patronize it again. 

I returned by the way I went ; walking from Providence 
across to Norwich, Conn., where I took steamboat, and arrived 
in New York on the second of our three days of State elec 
tion. I gave my vote right heartily for the anti-Jackson 
ticket, but without avail, Jackson being overwhelmingly 
reflected, with Marcy over Granger for Governor. I soon 
found work which paid fairly at the stereotyping establish 
ment of J. S. Eedfield, and was there employed till the close 
of that year, when an opportunity presented for commencing 
business on my own account, which I improved, as will be 
set fortli in my next chapter. 



XII. 

GETTING INTO BUSINESS. 

HAVING been fairly driven to New York two or three 
years earlier than I deemed desirable, I was in like 
manner impelled to undertake the responsibilities of business 
while still in my twenty-second year. My friend Story, barely 
older than myself, but far better acquainted with city ways, 
having been for many years the only son of a poor widow, 
and accustomed to struggling with difficulties, had already 
conceived the idea of starting a printery, and offering me a 
partnership in the enterprise. His position in Wall Street, on 
The Spirit of the Times, made him acquainted with Mr. S. J. 
Sylvester, then a leading broker and seller of lottery-tickets, 
who issued a weekly " Bank-Note Reporter," largely devoted 
to the advertising of his own business, and who offered my 
friend the job of printing that paper. Story was also intimate 
with Dr. W. Beach, who, in addition -to his medical practice, 
dabbled considerably in ink, and at whose office my friend 
made the acquaintance of a young graduate, Dr. H. D. 
Shepard, who was understood to have money, and who was in 
tent on bringing out a cheap daily paper, to be sold about the 
streets, then a novel idea, daily papers being presumed 
desirable only for mercantile men, and addressed exclusively 
to their wants and tastes. Dr. Shepard had won over my 
friend to a belief in the practicability of his project ; and the 
latter visited me at my work and my lodging, urging me to 
unite with him in starting a printery on the strength of Mr. 
Sylvester s and Dr. Shepard s proffered work. I hesitated, 
having very little means, for I had sent a good part of my 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

past year s scanty savings to aid my father in his struggle 
with the stubborn wilderness ; but Story s enthusiastic con 
fidence at length triumphed over my distrust ; we formed a 
partnership, hired part of two rooms already devoted to print 
ing, on the southwest corner of Nassau and Liberty Streets 
(opposite our city s present post-office), spending our little all 
(less than $200), and stretching our credit to the utmost, for 
the requisite materials. I tried Mr. James Conner, the exten 
sive type-founder in Ann Street, having a very slight ac 
quaintance with him, formed in the course of frequent visits 
to his foundry in quest of "sorts" (type found deficient in 
the several offices for which I had worked at one time or 
another), but he, after hearing me patiently, decided not to 
credit me six months for the $40 worth of type I wanted of 
him; and he did right, my exhibit did not justify my 
request. I went directly thence to Mr. George Bruce, the 
older and wealthier founder, in Chambers Street, made the 
same exhibit, and was allowed by him the credit I asked ; and 
that purchase has since secured to his concern the sale of not 
less than $ 50,000 worth of type. I think he must have noted 
something in my awkward, bashful ways, that impelled him 
to take the risk. 

The Morning Post Dr. Shepard s two-cent daily, which 
he wished to sell for one cent was issued on the 1st of 
January, 1833. Nobody in New York reads much (except 
visitor s cards) on New Year s Day; and that one happened 
to be very cold, with the streets much obstructed by a fall of 
snow throughout the preceding night. Projectors of news 
papers in those days, though expecting other people to adver 
tise in their columns, did not comprehend that they also must 
advertise, or the public will never know that their bantling has 
been ushered into existence ; and Dr. Shepard was too poor to 
give his sheet the requisite publicity, had he understood the 
matter. He was neither a writer nor a man of affairs ; had 
no editors, no reporters worth naming, no correspondents, and 
no exchanges even; he fancied that a paper would sell, if 
remarkable for cheapness, though remarkable also for the 



GETTING INTO BUSINESS. 93 

absence of every other desirable quality. He was said to 
have migrated, while a youth, from New Jersey to New York, 
with $ 1,500 in cash ; if he did, his capital must have nearly 
all melted away before he had issued his first number. Though 
his enterprise involved no outlay of capital by him, and his 
weekly outgoes were less than $ 200, he was able to meet 
them for a single week only, while his journal obtained a cir 
culation of but two or three hundred copies. Finally, he 
reduced its price to one cent ; but the public would not buy 
it even at that, and we printers, already considerably in debt 
for materials, were utterly unable to go on beyond the second 
or third week after the publisher had stopped paying. Thus 
the first cheap-for-cash daily in New York perhaps in the 
world died when scarcely yet a month old ; and we printers 
were hard aground on a lee shore, with little prospect of 
getting off. 

We were saved from sudden bankruptcy by the address of 
my partner, who had formed the acquaintance of a wealthy, 
eccentric Briton, named Schols, who had a taste for editorial 
life, and who was somehow induced to buy the wreck of The 
Morning Post, remove it to an office of his own, and employ 
Story as foreman. He soon tired of his thriftless, profitless 
speculation, and threw it up; but we had meantime sur 
mounted our embarrassments by the help of the little money 
he paid for a portion of our materials and for my partner s 
services. Meantime, the managers of the New York lotteries, 
then regularly drawn under State auspices, had allowed a 
portion of their letter-press printing to follow Mr. Sylvester s 
into our concern, and were paying us very fairly for it ; I 
doing most of the composition. For two or three months 
after Dr. Shepard s collapse, I was frequently sent for to work 
as a substitute in the composing-room of The Commercial 
Advertiser, not far from our shop ; and I was at length offered 
a regular situation there ; but our business had by this time 
so improved that I was constrained to decline. Working early 
and late, and looking sharply on every side for jobs, we were 
beginning to make decided headway, when my partner was 



94 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

drowned (July 9, 1833) while bathing in the East Kiver 
near his mother s residence in Brooklyn, and I bitterly mourned 
the loss of my nearest and dearest friend. His place in the 
concern was promptly taken by another young printer, a 
friend of the bereaved family, Mr. Jonas Winchester, who 
soon married Story s oldest sister ; and we thus went on, with 
moderate but steady prosperity, until the ensuing Spring, 
when we issued (March 22, 1834), without premonitory 
sound of trumpet, THE NEW-YORKER, a large, fair, and cheap 
weekly folio (afterward changed to a double quarto), devoted 
mainly to current literature, but giving regularly a digest of 
all important news, including a careful exhibit and summary 
of election returns and other political intelligence. I edited 
and made up this paper, while my partner took charge of our 
more profitable jobbing business. 

The New-Yorker was issued under my supervision, its edito 
rials written, its selections made, for the most part, by me, 
for seven years and a half from the date just given. Though 
not calculated to enlist partisanship or excite enthusiasm, it 
was at length extensively liked and read. It .began with 
scarcely a dozen subscribers ; these steadily increased to nine 
thousand ; and it might, under better business management, 
(perhaps I should add, at a more favorable time,) have proved 
profitable and permanent. That it did not was mainly owing 
to these circumstances : 1. It was not extensively advertised 
at the start, and at least annually thereafter, as it should have 
been. 2. It was never really published, though it had half a 
dozen nominal publishers in succession. 3. It was sent to 
subscribers on credit, and a large share of them never paid for 
it, and never will, while the cost of collecting from others ate 
up the proceeds. 4. The machinery of railroads, expresses, 
news companies, news offices, &c., whereby literary periodicals 
are now mainly disseminated, did not then exist. I believe 
that just such a paper, issued to-day, properly published and 
advertised, would obtain a circulation of one hundred thousand 
in less time than was required to give The Xew- Yorker scarcely 
a tithe of that aggregate, and would make money for its 



GETTING INTO BUSINESS. 95 

owners, instead of nearly starving them, as mine did. I was 
worth at least $ 1,500 when it was started ; I worked hard 
and lived frugally throughout its existence ; it subsisted for 
the first two years on the profits of our job-work ; when I, 
deeming it established, dissolved with my partner, he taking 
the jobbing business and I The New-Yorker, which held its 
own pretty fairly thenceforth till the Commercial Eevulsion 
of 1837 swept over the land, whelming it and me in the gen 
eral ruin. I had married in 1836 (July 5th), deeming myself 
worth $5,000, and the master of a business which would 
thenceforth yield me for my labor at least $ 1,000 per annum ; 
but, instead of that, or of any income at all, I found myself 
obliged, throughout 1837, to confront a net loss of about $ 100 
per week, my income averaging $100, and my inevitable 
expenses $ 200. It was in vain that I appealed to delinquents 
to pay up ; many of them migrated ; some died ; others were 
so considerate as to order the paper stopped, but very few of 
these paid ; and I struggled on against a steadily rising tide 
of adversity that might have appalled a stouter heart. Often 
did I call on this or that friend with intent to solicit a small 
loan to meet some demand that could no longer be postponed 
nor evaded, and, after wasting a precious hour, leave him, 
utterly unable to broach the loathsome topic. I have bor 
rowed $ 500 of a broker late on Saturday, and paid him $ 5 
for the use of it till Monday morning, when I somehow con 
trived to return it. Most gladly would I have terminated the 
struggle by a surrender ; but, if I had failed to pay my notes 
continually falling due, I must have paid money for my weekly 
supply of paper, so that would have availed nothing. To 
have stopped my journal (for I could not give it away) would 
have left me in debt, beside my notes for paper, from fifty 
cents to frvyo dollars each, to at least three thousand subscribers 
who had paid in advance ; and that is the worst kind of bank 
ruptcy. If any one would have taken my business and debts 
off my hands, upon my giving him my note for $ 2,000, I * 
would have jumped at the chance, and tried to work out the 
debt by setting type, if nothing better offered. If it be sug- 



96 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

gested that my whole indebtedness was at no time more than 
$ 5,000 to $ 7,000, I have only to say that even $ 1,000 of 
debt is ruin to him who keenly feels his obligation to fulfil 
every engagement, yet is utterly without the means of so 
doing, and who finds himself dragged each week a little deeper 
into hopeless insolvency. To be hungry, ragged, and penni 
less is not pleasant; but this is nothing to the horrors of 
bankruptcy. All the wealth of the Rothschilds would be a 
poor recompense for a five years struggle with the conscious 
ness that you had taken the money or property of trusting 
friends, promising to return or pay for it when required, 
and had betrayed their confidence through insolvency. 

I dwell on this point, for I would deter others from enter 
ing that place of torment. Half the young men in the coun 
try, with many old enough to know better, would " go into 
business" that is, into debt to-morrow, if they could. 
Most poor men are so ignorant as to envy the merchant or 
manufacturer whose life is an incessant struggle with pecun 
iary difficulties, who is driven to constant "shinning," and 
who, from month to month, barely evades that insolvency 
which sooner or later overtakes most men in business ; so 
that it has been computed that but one in twenty of them 
achieve a pecuniary success. For my own part, and I 
speak from sad experience, I would rather be a convict in 
a State prison, a slave in a rice-swamp, than to pass through 
life under the harrow of debt. Let no young man misjudge 
himself unfortunate, or truly poor, so long as he has the full 
use of his limbs and faculties, and is substantially free from 
debt. Hunger, cold, rags, hard work, contempt, suspicion, 
unjust reproach, are disagreeable ; but debt is infinitely worse 
than them all. And, if it had pleased God to spare either or 
all of my sons to be the support and solace of my declining 
years, the lesson which I should have most earnestly sought 
to impress upon them is, " Never run into debt ! Avoid 
pecuniary obligation as you would pestilence or famine. If 
you have but fifty cents, and can get no more for a week, buy 
a peck of corn, parch it, and live on it, rather than owe any 



GETTING INTO BUSINESS. 97 

man a dollar ! " Of course, I know that some men must do 
business that involves risks, and must often give notes and 
other obligations, and I do not consider him really in debt 
who can lay his hands directly on the means of paying, at 
some little sacrifice, all he owes ; I speak of real debt, that 
which involves risk or sacrifice on the one side, obligation 
and dependence on the other, and I say, From all such, let 
every youth humbly pray God to preserve him evermore ! 



When I at length stopped The New-Yorker (September 20, 
1841), though poor enough, I provided for making good all I 
owed to its subscribers who had paid in advance, and shut up 
its books whereon were inscribed some $10,000 owed me in 
sums of $ 1 to $ 10 each, by men to whose service I had 
faithfully devoted the best years of my life, years that, 
though full of labor and frugal care, might have been happy 
had they not been made wretched by those men s dishonesty. 
They took my journal, and probably read it ; they promised 
to pay for it, and defaulted ; leaving me to pay my paper- 
maker, type-founder, journeymen, &c., as I could. My only 
requital was a sorely achieved but wholesome lesson. I had 
been thoroughly burned out, only saving my books, in the 
great Ann Street fire (August 12, 1835) ; I was burned out 
again in February, 1845 ; and, while the destruction was 
complete, and the insurance but partial, I had the poor con 
solation, that the account-books of The New-Yorker which 
I had never opened since I first laid them away, but which 
had been an eye-sore and a reminder of evil days whenever I 
stumbled upon them were at length dissolved in smoke 
and flame, and lost to sight for ever. 



XIII. 

TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS. 

ON the first day of January, 1824, while living in West- 
haven, Vermont, I deliberately resolved to drink no 
more distilled liquors. At this time I had heard of persons 
who had made a kindred resolve, but I had not known one. 
I had probably heard that Temperance societies had some 
where been formed, though I do not now distinctly recollect 
the circumstance. I believe the first American society that 
adopted the principle of Total Abstinence at least from 
distilled liquors had been organized in a rural township 
of Saratoga County, N. Y., in 1817; but the American Tem 
perance Society was yet unknown, and did not adopt the 
principle of Total Abstinence from Alcoholic Beverages until 
1833. 

Whiskey and Tobacco were the universal luxuries I 
might say the poor man s only luxuries in Vermont, as 
Rum had been in New Hampshire. The apple-tree flourished 
luxuriantly, and bore abundantly on the virgin soils wherein 
it was generally planted, and while each settler s " clearing " 
was shut in by the grand old woods which softened the 
harsher winds and obstructed the dissemination of fruit- 
destroying insects. Good peaches were grown in southern 
New Hampshire fifty years ago ; whereas they can no longer 
be produced, save rarely and scantily, in southern New Yoi-k. 
Cider was, next to water, the most abundant and the cheapest 
fluid to be had in New Hampshire, while I lived there, 
often selling for a dollar per barrel. In many a family of six 
or eight persons, a barrel tapped on Saturday barely lasted a 



TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS. 99 

full week. Whoever dropped in of an evening expected to 
be treated to cider ; a mug, once emptied, was quickly refilled ; 
and so on, till every one was about as full as he could hold. 
The transition from cider to warmer and more potent stimu 
lants was easy and natural ; so that whole families died 
drunkards and vagabond paupers from the impetus first given, 
by cider-swilling in their rural homes. 

I believe I was five years old when my grandfather Wood- 
burn s house in Londonderry was, one Winter day, filled with 
relatives, gathered, in good part, from Deering, Windham, and 
from Vermont towns originally settled from the old hive ; 
who, after dinner, departed in their sleighs to visit some 
other relative, taking our old folks witli them, and leaving 
but three or four little boys of us to keep house till their 
return. A number of half-smoked cigars had been left on 
the mantel, and some evil genius suggested to us tow-headed 
urchins that it would be smart and clever to indulge in a 
general smoke. Like older fools, we went in ; and I was 
soon the sickest mortal on the face of this planet. I cannot 
say as to my comrades in this folly ; but that half-inch of 
cigar-stump will last me all my life, though its years should 
outnumber Methuselah s. For a decade thereafter, it was 
often my filial duty to fill and light my mother s pipe, when 
she had lain down for her after-dinner nap ; and she, having 
taken it, would hold it and talk till the fire had gone out, so 
that it must again be lighted and drawn till the tobacco was 
well ignited ; hence I know that, if I had not been proof 
against narcotic seduction, I should have learned to like the 
soothing weed ; but I never used, nor wished to use, it as a 
sedative or a luxury after my one juvenile and thoroughly 
conclusive experiment. From that hour to this, the chewing, 
smoking, or snuffing of tobacco has seemed to me, if not the 
most pernicious, certainly the vilest, most detestable abuse 
of his corrupted sensual appetites whereof depraved Man is 
capable. 

In my childhood, there was no merry-making, there was 
no entertainment of relatives or friends, there was scarcely 



100 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

a casual gathering of two or three neighbors for an evening s 
social chat, without strong drink. Cider, always, while it 
remained drinkable without severe contortions of visage ; 
Rum at all seasons and on all occasions, were required and 
provided. No house or barn was raised without a bountiful 
supply of the latter, and generally of both. A wedding 
without " toddy," " flip," " sling," or " punch," with rum un 
disguised in abundance, would have been deemed a poor, 
mean affair, even among the penniless ; while the more for 
tunate and thrifty of course dispensed wine, brandy, and gin 
in profusion. Dancing almost the only pastime wherein 
the sexes jointly participated was always enlivened and 
stimulated by liquor. Militia trainings then rigidly en 
forced at least twice a year usually wound up with a 
drinking frolic at the village tavern. Election days were 
drinking days, as they still too commonly are ; and even 
funerals were regarded as inadequately celebrated without 
the dispensing of spirituous consolation : so that I distinctly 
recollect the neighborhood talk, in 1820, after the funeral of 
a poor man s child, that, if he had not been mean as well as 
poor, he would have cheered the hearts of his sympathizing 
friends by treating them to at least one gallon of rum. I 
have heard my father say that he had mowed through the 
haying season, of thirty successive years, and never a day 
without liquor ; and the account of an Irishman who mowed 
and pitched throughout one haying, drinking only butter 
milk, while his associates drank rum, yet accomplished more, 
and with less fatigue, than any of them, was received with 
as much wondering incredulity as though it had been certified 
that he lived wholly on air; Nay : we had an ordination in 
Amherst nearly fifty years ago, settling an able and popular 
young clergyman named Lord (I believe he is now the vener 
able ex-President of Dartmouth College) to the signal satis 
faction of the great body of our people ; and, according to my 
recollection, strong drink was more generally and bountifully 
dispensed than on any previous occasion : bottles and glasses 
being set on tables in front of many farmers houses as an in- 



TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS. 101 

vitation to those who passed on their way to or from the instal 
lation to stop and drink freely. We have worse liquor now 
than we had then ; and delirium tremens, apoplexy, palsy, &c., 
come sooner and oftener to those who use it ; but our con- , 
sumers of strong drink are a class ; whereas they were then/ 
the whole people. The pious probably drank more discreetly 
than the ungodly ; but they all drank to their own satisfac 
tion, and, I judge, more than was consistent with their per 
sonal good. 

My resolve not to drink was only mentioned by me at our 
own fireside ; but it somehow became known in the neigh 
borhood, where it excited some curiosity, and even a stronger 
feeling. At the annual sheep-washing, in June following, it 
was brought forward and condemned ; when I was required to 
take a glass of liquor, and, on my declining, was held by two 
or three youngsters older and stronger than I, while the 
liquor was turned into my mouth, and some of it forced down 
my throat. That was understood to be the end of my foolish 
attempt at singularity. 

It was not, however. I kept quiet, but my resolution was 
unchanged ; and, soon after my removal to Poultney, I " as 
sisted " in organizing the first Temperance Society ever formed 
in that town, perhaps the first in the county. It inhibited 
the use of distilled liquors only ; so that I believe our first 
president died of intemperance some years afterward ; but a 
number still live to rejoice that they took part in that move 
ment, and have since remained faithful to its pledge and its 
purpose. I recollect a story told at that time by our adver 
saries of a man who had joined the Temperance Society just 
organized in a neighboring township, and, dying soon after 
ward, had been subjected to an autopsy, which developed a 
cake of ice weighing several pounds, which had gradually 
formed and increased in his stomach, as a result of his fanat 
ical devotion to cold water. Alas that most of our facetious 
critics have since died, and no autopsy was needed to develop 
the cause of their departure ! A glance at each fiery pro 
boscis, that irradiated even the cerements of the grave, was 
sufficient. 



102 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Total Abstinence lias never yet been popular in this nor 
in any other great city ; and, as liquor grows unfashionable 
in the country, it tends to become less and less so. A great 
city derives its subsistence and its profits from ministrations 
therein, not only to the real needs of the surrounding country, 
but to its baser appetites, its vices, as well ; and, as the 
country becomes less and less tolerant of immoral indulgences 
and vicious aberrations, the gains of cities therefrom, and 
their consequent interest therein, must steadily increase. 
Time was when the young man of means and social position, 
who shunned the haunts of the gamester, the wiles of the 
libertine, and never indulged in a drunken "spree," was 
widely sneered at as a " milksop," or detested as a calculating 
hypocrite. Sheridan s Joseph Surface admirably reflects the* 
. once popular appreciation of such absurd, fanatical Puritan 
ism; but, as the world grows wiser and (in an important 
sense) better, a great though silent change is wrought in pub 
lic sentiment, which compels the vicious to conceal indul 
gences that they formerly paraded, and maintain an exterior 
decency which would once have exposed them to ridicule. 
Thousands, who formerly gratified their baser appetites with 
out disguise or shame, now feel constrained, not to " leave 
undone," but to " keep unknown," by hieing to some great 
city, where no one s deeds or ways are observed or much 
regarded so long as he keeps out of the hands of the police, 
and there balance a year s compelled decorum by a week s 
unrestrained debauchery. Fifty years back, a jug would 
readily be filled with any designated liquor at almost any 
country store ; now, the devotee of alcoholic potations must 
usually send or take his demijohn to the most convenient 
city, where it will at once be filled and despatched to its im 
patient, thirsty owner ; and so, as the Liquor Interest grows 
I weaker and weaker in the country, it becomes stronger and 
I yet stronger in the cities, whose politics it fashions, whose 
government it governs, by virtue of its inherent strength 
and apprehensive activity. And thus the Liquor Traffic has 
greater strength and vitality in our city to-day than it had 
twenty to forty years ago. 



TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS. 103 

Sylvester Graham first appeared in New York as a lecturer, 
I think, in the Winter of 1831 - 32. He had been a Presby 
terian clergyman, settled in New Jersey, and was styled " Dr.," 
though I do not know that he ever studied or practised medi 
cine. He had an active, inquiring mind, and a considerable 
knowledge of physics, metaphysics, and theology ; he was a 
fluent and forcible, though diffuse and egotistical, speaker; and 
he was possessed and impelled by definite convictions. He 
was at home in single combat alike with Alcohol and Athe 
ism ; but there was nothing narrow in his Temperance nor 
in his Orthodoxy. He believed, therefore taught, that Health ] 
is the necessary result of obedience, Disease of disobedience, * 
to physical laws ; that all stimulants, whether alcoholic or 
narcotic, are pernicious, and should be rejected, save, possibly, 
in those rare cases where one poison may be wisely employed 
to neutralize or expel another : he condemned Tea and Coffee, 
as well as Tobacco, Opium, and Alcoholic potables, Cider 
and Beer equally with Brandy and Gin, save that the poison 
is more concentrated in the latter. He disapproved of all 
spices and condiments save (grudgingly) a very little salt ; 
and he held that more suitable and wholesome food for hu 
man beings than the flesh of animals can almost always be 
procured, and should be preferred. The bolting of meal, to 
separate its coarser from its finer particles, he also reprobated ; 
teaching that the ripe, sound berry of Wheat or Eye, being 
ground to the requisite fineness, should in no manner be 
sifted, but should be made into loaves and eaten precisely as 
the mill-stones deliver it. Such is, in brief, "the Graham 
system," as I heard it expounded in successive lectures by its 
author, and fortified by evidence and reasoning which com 
manded my general assent. A boarding-house was soon 
established, based on its principles, and I became an inmate 
thereof, as well as of others afterward founded on the same 
general ideas, though I never wholly rejected the use of 
meat. Tea I never cared for, and I used none at all for a 
quarter of a century ; now, I sometimes take it in moderation, 
when black and very good. Coffee had for years been my 



104 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

chief luxury, coffee without breakfast being far preferable, 
to my taste, to breakfast without coffee ; but, having drank a 
strong cup of it one evening at a festive board, I woke next 
morning to find my hand trembling ; and I at once said, " No 
more coffee ! " and have not drank it since. My taste grad 
ually changed thereafter, so that I soon ceased to crave, and 
now thoroughly dislike, the beverage. And, while I eat 
meat, and deem it, when unspoiled by decay or bad cookery, 
far less objectionable than hot bread, rancid butter, decayed 
fruits, wilted vegetables, and too many other contributions to 
our ordinary diet, I profoundly believe that there is better food 
obtainable by the great body of mankind than the butcher 
and the fisherman do or can supply ; and that a diet made up 
of sound grain (ground, but unbolted), ripe, undecayed fruits, 
and a variety of fresh, wholesome vegetables, witli milk, but 
ter, and cheese, and very little of spices or condiments, will 
enable our grandchildren to live in the average far longer, 
and fall far less frequently into the hands of the doctors, than 
we do. 

My wife, whose acquaintance I made at the Graham 
House, and who was long a more faithful, consistent disciple 
of Graham than I was, in our years of extreme poverty kept 
her house in strict accordance with her convictions ; never 
even deigning an explanation to her friends and relatives 
who from time to time visited and temporarily sojourned 
with us ; and, as politeness usually repressed complaint or 
inquiry on their part, their first experiences of a regimen 
which dispensed with all they deemed most appetizing could 
hardly be observed without a smile. Usually, a day, or at 
most two, of beans and potatoes, boiled rice, puddings, bread 
and butter, with no condiment but salt, and never a pickle, 
was all they could abide ; so, bidding her a kind adieu, each 
in turn departed to seek elsewhere a more congenial hospi 
tality. 

" But what peculiar effects of a vegetable diet did you ex 
perience?" some will naturally ask. I answer generally, 
" Much the same as a rum-drinker notes after a brief return 



TEMPERANCE IN ALL THINGS. 105 

to water-drinking exclusively. I first felt a quite perceptible 
sinking of animal spirits, a partial relaxation or depression 
of natural energies. It seemed as though I could not lift so 
much, jump so high, nor run so fast, as when I ate meat. 
After a time, this lowering of the tone of the physical system 
passed away or "became imperceptible. On the other hand, 
I had no feeling of repletion or over-fulness ; I had no head 
ache, and scarcely an ache of any sort ; my health was stub 
bornly good ; and any cut or other flesh-wound healed more 
easily and rapidly than formerly. Other things being equal, 
I judge that a strict vegetarian will live ten years longer than 
a habitual flesh-eater, while suffering, in the average, less 
than half so much from sickness as the carnivorous must. 
The simple fact, that animals are often diseased when killed 
for food, and that the flesh of those borne in crowded cars, 
from far inland, to be slaughtered for the sustenance of sea 
board cities, is almost always and inevitably feverish and 
unwholesome, ought to be conclusive. 

On the whole, I am convinced, by the observation and 
experience of a third of a century, that all public danger lies 
in the direction opposite to that of vegetarianism, that a 
thousand fresh Grahams let loose each year upon the public 
will riot prevent the consumption, in the average, of far too 
much and too highly seasoned animal food ; while all the 
Goughs and Neal Dows that ever were or can be scared up 
will not deter the body politic from pouring down its throat \ 
a great deal more "fire-water" than is good for it. And, 
while I look with interest on all attempts to substitute 
American wines and malt liquors for the more concentrated 
and maddening decoctions of the still, I have noted no such 
permanent triumphs in the thousand past attempts to cast 
out big devils by the incantations of little ones as would give 
me reason to put faith in the principle, or augur success for 
this latest experiment. 



XIV. 

POLITICS. 

AN eager, omnivorous reader, especially of newspapers, 
from early childhood, I was an ardent politician when 
not yet half old enough to vote. I heartily sympathized with 
the Northern uprising against the admission of Missouri as a 
Slave State, and shared in the disappointment and chagrin so 
widely felt when that uprising was circumvented and defeated 
by what was called a Compromise. I think few of us blamed 
the Southern politicians for their agency in our defeat; but 
the score of Northern Senators and Eepresentatives who (as 
we thought) betrayed us were thenceforth marked men, and 
few indeed of them were ever again successful aspirants to 
popular favor. 

When, in 1824, the country was freshly agitated and di 
vided, after several years of general calm, by the nomination 
of William H. Crawford, of Georgia, for President, in a caucus 
attended by less than a third of the Members of Congress, 
considerably less than half of those who were chosen by the 
dominant party, all New England became zealously anti- 
Caucus, and her electoral vote was cast solid for John Quincy 
Adams ; there being no serious opposition among the masses, 
though several of her leading politicians, and hitherto most 
influential journals, were vehemently for Crawford. The 
choice in the House of Adams for President, by the help of 
Mr. Clay and his friends, suited us exactly, and all the more 
that Mr. Clay was eminently National in his views and feel 
ings, a leading champion of Internal Improvements, Protection 
to Home Industry, and every good work. But the hostile 



POLITICS. 107 

combination soon thereafter formed of the lately warring sup 
porters of Jackson, Crawford, and Calhoun respectively, did 
not please us at all ; Calhoun especially having been a 
National man, a supporter of Protection, River and Harbor Im 
provement, &c., while in Congress, and having been generally 
sustained by our section for Vice-President was regarded, 
up our way, as a renegade from principle for office and power. 
The fierce personal warfare waged upon Adams and Clay for 
their alleged coalition, by and in full view of this hostile com 
bination, excited our wrath and scorn ; but this did not over 
bear the fact that their three factions united were an over 
match for our two ; and, as Crawford died soon after Adams s 
accession, they were enabled to achieve what would now-a- 
days be called a close connection, by running Jackson for 
President, with Calhoun for Vice-President. We ought to 
have countered this by nominating Clay with Adams, or 
(better still) by having Adams decline a reelection, and run 
ning Clay for President, with Walter Forward, of Pennsylvania, 
or Smith Thompson, of New York, for Vice-President; but 
everything went wrong with us : the sudden death of De 
Witt Clinton consolidated many of his personal followers with 
their life-long adversaries in the support of Jackson for 
President, with Van Buren for Governor of New York ; our 
nomination of Richard Rush, of Pennsylvania, for Vice-Presi 
dent was injudicious, and gave us no strength; and our 
reasonable hopes that the Tariff question would secure us 
Ohio with Kentucky, and give us a fair chance for Pennsyl 
vania, were blighted by the tactics of our antagonists : Van 
Buren, Silas Wright, Buchanan, the Jackson delegations from 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky, in solid column, with all 
but two or three members from New York, uniting (in 1828) 
to frame and pass the highest and most Protective Tariff that 
had ever been proposed, over the votes of a majority of the 
Adams men from New England. Outmanoeuvred on every 
side, we were clearly foredoomed to defeat ; the loss of Mr. 
Clay s own Kentucky was a blow for which her preceding 
election of Members to Congress had partly prepared us, 



108 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

though we carried, by a close vote, her Governor (Metcalf) in 
the spirited August election of this year; but Indiana, and 
even Ohio, went with her, though we had carried the latter 
in her State election scarcely a month before the popular vote 
for President. Louisiana, too, voted for Jackson, though with 
us in her preceding State contest ; New York (then choosing 
electors by districts) gave Adams but 16 votes to 20 for his 
opponent; and so we were badly beaten, carrying but 84 
electors, while Jackson having every vote below the Poto 
mac, and all west of the Alleghanies had more than double 
that number. 

In the succeeding Presidential contest (1832) we had 
scarcely a chance. Anti-Masonry had divided us, and driven 
thousands of Adams men over to Jackson, whose personal 
popularity was very great, especially with the non-reading 
class, and who had strengthened himself at the North by his 
Tariff Messages and his open rupture with Calhoun. New 
Hampshire and Maine had already gone over to him ; Ver 
mont voted for Wirt, the Anti-Masonic candidate ; Ohio, dis 
tracted by Anti-Masonry, went again for Jackson ; New York 
(now choosing electors by general ticket) went solid for him, 
with Pennsylvania, and even New Jersey : so that Mr. Clay, 
though carrying his own Kentucky, made but a sorry figure 
in the electoral aggregate. Massachusetts, PJiode Island, 
Connecticut, Delaware, and part of Maryland (by districts), 
were all the States that voted for him, save his own. 

South Carolina now threw away her vote for President on 
John Floyd, of Virginia, and proceeded to nullify the Tariff, 
which had just been somewhat reduced, in part, to placate 
her. But Van Buren had been substituted for Calhoun as 
Vice-President, and she would not be placated. Her nullifi 
cation was abandoned, rather than suppressed, and this only 
after the main point had been virtually yielded to her by a 
graduated reduction of the Tariff throughout the next ten 
years to a purely Revenue standard. Though overborne, she 
was practically triumphant. Mr. Clay proposed the Compro 
mise Tariff, that gave her ample excuse for receding from her 



POLITICS. 109 

untenable position; but only after it had been rendered 
certain that a more immediate and sweeping reduction of the 
Tariff, already reported by Mr. Verplanck, from the Committee 
of Ways and Means, would be carried if this were forborne. 
So the land had peace again for a brief season. 

The United States Bank war, which soon followed, had 
already been inaugurated by General Jackson s imperious 
will. Early in his first term, he had been prompted to re 
quire the removal of Jeremiah Mason, President of the branch 
at Portsmouth, N. II., who was obnoxious to his leading 
friends in that State. He was not gratified. Though the 
first charter of the bank would not expire till 1836, he de 
monstrated against its renewal so early as 1830 ; telling Con 
gress that the question should be promptly acted on, so that 
arrangements might seasonably be made, in case it should not 
be rechartered, for supplying its place as a financial agent of 
the Government, and a commercial convenience to the people. 
A Jackson Congress, in due time, took the matter in hand, 
and, in 1832, voted a renewal of the charter, by large majorities 
in either House. The bill was vetoed, and the Veto Message 
complained that the act of rechartering was premature! 
That Congress, prior to its final adjournment, heard vaguely 
that the President intended to remove the deposits of public 
money from the detested Bank ; whereupon the House voted, 
by three to one, that they ought not to be removed. 

William J. Duane, of Pennsylvania, was then Secretary of 
the Treasury. The President required him to remove the 
deposits. He declined. Jackson thereupon removed him; 
appointing in his stead Eoger B. Taney, of Maryland, who 
proceeded at once to do his master s bidding. When a new 
Congress assembled (December, 1833), the Federal deposits, as 
they accrued, were being dispersed among a multiplicity of 
State banks, the least able being of course the most needy 
and clamorous for a share of the pap, on the strength of their 
directors professed devotion to the Administration and its 
"revered chief." 

I have always at least, since I read Dr. Franklin s auto- 



110 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

biography, more than forty years ago been an advocate of 
paper money. But I want it to be money, convertible at 
pleasure into coin, not printed lies, even though they fail 
to deceive. From 1818 up to 1830, this country suffered 
from a dearth of money. Tens of thousands were unwillingly 
idle from month to month, who would have been usefully and 
profitably employed had the country been blest with an ade 
quate circulating medium. Comparatively few houses were 
built in those years, because of the scarcity of money, which 
palsied enterprise and petrified labor. As a journeyman, I 
could rarely find work in the country, because there was so 
little money ; and, on coming to the city, I found that pay 
ments by master mechanics to their men were mainly made 
in " uncurrent " notes of State banks,, which must often, if not 
generally, be taken to a broker and "shaved" before they 
would pay board or buy groceries. The consequent loss was 
something; the inevitable bother and vexation were a far 
greater nuisance. A paper currency everywhere current, 
everywhere convertible into coin, was my ideal ; hence I was 
not partial to local emissions of paper, but a zealous, deter 
mined advocate of a National Bank. 

The United States Bank, being required to pay over the 
millions it held on deposit for the Government, receiving no 
more, began, of course, to contract its loans. It could do no 
otherwise ; especially as an attempt, evidently inspired, had 
been made by Jackson brokers to break its branch at Savan 
nah by quietly collecting a large quantity of its notes and 
presenting them at once for payment, hoping that they could 
not all be met, and that it might thereupon be claimed that 
the Bank had failed. It was charged by its adversaries that 
the contraction consequent upon the removal of the Deposits 
was too rapid and too great ; in fact, that its purpose was the 
creation of commercial distress and panic. This may have 
been ; but a very decided contraction by that Bank was in 
evitable ; and it could have pursued no course that did not 
expose it to accusation and reproach. I presume it struggled 
for its life, as most of us would do, if assailed with deadly 



POLITICS. Ill 

intent. With the removal of the Deposits, its power to regu 
late the currency lapsed, and its duty as well Those Banks 
to which the Government had transferred its funds and its 
favors should unitedly have assumed and exercised the func 
tions of a regulator, or confessed their inability. 

As the pressure for money increased, the political elements 
were lashed to fury, and our city, the focus of American com 
merce, became the arena of a fierce electioneering struggle. 
Hitherto, the Jackson ascendency had, since the death of De 
Witt Clinton, been so decided, that our charter elections had 
usually been scarcely contested ; but the stirring debates daily 
received from Washington, the strivings of merchants and 
banks to avert bankruptcy, the daily tightening of the money 
market, and the novel hopes of success inspired in the breasts 
of those who now took the name of "Whigs" (to indicate 
their repugnance to unauthorized assumptions of Executive- 
power), rendered New York for some weeks a boiling caldron 
of political passions. Our three days election (April, 1834) 
was the most vehement and keenly contested struggle which 
I ever witnessed. Our city was then divided into fifteen 
Wards, with but one poll to each Ward ; and I should esti 
mate the average attendance on each poll at little less than 
one thousand. I am certain that I saw the masses surround 
ing the Fourth and Sixth Ward polls respectively (then but 
two or three blocks apart), so mingled that you could not say 
where the one ended and the other began. There were some 
fights, of course, and one general collision in the Sixth Ward 
that might have resulted in deplorable bloodshed ; but peace 
was soon restored. In the event, the Jacksonites elected their 
Mayor (Cornelius W. Lawrence) over the Whig candidate 
(Gulian C. Verplanck) by 384 majority, which was less than 
their overplus of voters naturalized on the last day of the 
poll. The total vote was nearly 35,000 ; which was probably 
a closer approach to the whole number of legal voters than 
was ever drawn out before or since. The Whigs carried both 
branches of the Common Council, giving them the control of 
most of the city patronage ; so that the result was generally 
and justly regarded as a drawn battle. 



112 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

My concern printed a daily campaign penny paper, entitled 
The Constitution, through most of that year, and I was a free 
contributor to its columns, though its editor and publisher 
was Mr. Achilles R. Grain, who died some thirty years ago. 
It did not pay, and the firm of Greeley and Winchester were 
losers by it, counting my editorial assistance worth nothing. 
William H. Seward, then thirty-four years old, and just closing 
with distinction a four years term in the State Senate, was our 
candidate for Governor, with Silas M. Stillwell for Lieutenant ; 
and we fondly hoped to carry the State in the November 
election. But meantime the State Banks, wherein the Federal 
revenue was deposited (" Pet Banks," we Whigs termed them), 
had been enabled to effect an enormous expansion of their 
loans and issues ; and the country not yet feeling the Tariff 
reductions which the Compromise of 1833 had barely in 
augurated was launched on the flood of a factitious but 
seductive semblance of prosperity. Money was abundant; 
every one had employment who wanted, and pay if he earned 
it ; property was rapidly appreciating in value ; factories and 
furnaces had full work, and were doing well ; so, when the 
Fall election came, we made a gallant fight, but w r ere badly 
defeated, Marcy being reflected Governor over Seward by 
some 13,000 majority, more than he had over Granger in 
1832, and the Whigs, beaten pretty generally and decisively, 
relapsed into a torpor Avhence they were scarcely aroused by 
the ensuing Presidential Election, wherein General Harrison 
was made their candidate for President, with Francis Granger 
for Vice-President, while Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, ran 
for President, with John Tyler, of Virginia, for Vice-President, 
on an independent ticket which contested the South with the 
Jackson regulars, who alone held a National Convention, in 
which they nominated Martin Van Buren for President, with 
Colonel Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, for Vice. I was 
among the very few in the Eastern States who had taken any 
interest in bringing forward General Harrison as a candidate, 
believing that there was the raw material for a good run in 
his history and character ; but this was not generally credited, 



POLITICS. 113 

at least in our State, which, in a languid contest on a light 
vote, went for Van Buren, Johnson, and Marcy, by some 
28,000 majority. When, however, the returns from other 
States came pouring in, and it was found that General Harri 
son had carried, with Vermont only of the New England 
States, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, and 
Kentucky, and had barely failed to carry Pennsylvania, while 
White had carried Tennessee and Georgia, barely failing in 
North Carolina, and in two or three Southwestern States, 
and that Virginia had refused her vote to Johnson, so that he 
had failed of an election by the people, and had to be chosen 
over Granger by the Senate, there was a general waking up 
to the conviction, that either Harrison was more popular, or 
Van Buren more obnoxious, than had been supposed in our 
State, and that the latter might have been beaten by seasonable 
concert and effort. In that slouching Whig defeat of 1836 i 
lay the germ of the overwhelming Whig triumph of 1840. \ 



Mr. Van Buren s election to the Presidency always seemed 
to me anomalous, and I am not yet fully reconciled to it. He 
had none of that personal magnetism which made General 
Jackson and Mr. Clay respectively the idols of their contend 
ing parties. He was not even an orator, was far inferior to 
Silas Wright as a debater, and to William L. Marcy in execu 
tive ability. I believe his strength lay in his suavity. He 
was the reconciler of the estranged, the harmonizer of those 
who were at feud, among his fellow-partisans. An adroit and 
subtle, rather than a great man, I judge that he owed his elec 
tion, first to the Vice-Presidency, then to the Presidency, to 
the personal favor and imperious will of Andrew Jackson, 
with whom " Love me, love my dog," was an iron rule. Had 
there been no Jackson, Van Buren would never have attained 
the highest office in the gift of his countrymen. 



XV. 

PLAY-DAYS. 

WHOEVEE has spent a few weeks in Paris has doubt 
less paused to witness, on the greensward enclosed by 
the Palais Koyal, or elsewhere, groups of young children at 
play, and been charmed by their unconscious spirit, freedom, 
and grace of manner. The French chronicler s observation, 
centuries ago, " The English take their pleasures sadly," - 
will be brought to his mind on almost every occasion when 
he witnesses an attempt at festivity on the part of the neigh 
boring islanders or of their descendants on this side of the 
Atlantic. Our Scotch-Irish settlers in southern New Hamp 
shire brought with them from the other side a broad humor, 
a love of fun, a spirit of hospitality, a regard for kinship and 
clanship, which had not wholly faded out in my boyhood, or 
been drowned in the sea of British nationality which in time 
rolled over the continent, submerging the islets of Scotch, 
Hollandic, Swedish, French, or other diverse origin, which 
had for a season gleamed above the waves. The low-born, 
rudely bred Englishman has but one natural fashion of enjoy 
ing himself, by getting drunk. We have modified this 
somewhat ; but, as a rule, our thrifty, self-respecting people 
have hitherto allowed themselves too few holidays, and failed 
to make the best use of those they actually took. 

Fifty years have passed since I first stole down, one foggy 
morning, to the brook that ran through the west side of my 
father s farm in New Hampshire, and, dropping my line off 
the bridge, felt a bite almost instantly, and, hauling up, drew 
in a nice speckled trout. I had tried to fish before, but 



PLAY-DAYS. 115 

without success ; henceforth, through boyhood, I was an 
enthusiastic, persevering fisherman, though never a master 
of the art. The modern sophistications of fly and reel were 
unknown in rural New England in those days ; hook, line, 
and sinker gave adequate warning to every considerate, wary 
fish of what he had to expect if he bit ; but fishermen were 
fewer and brooks more shady, less capricious in volume, than 
the clearing away of woods has since made them, while in 
tellectual delights were rarer and less inviting : so fishing 
was largely the pleasure of the gay and the business of the 
grave. Our rivers, unvexed by mill-dams, swarmed in their 
season with shad, lamprey-eels, &c., and afforded some sal 
mon, as well as fish of less consideration. Even the sea was 
not too far to be visited by adventurous parties, intent on a 
week s profitable sport. Winter brought its sleigh-loads of 
fresh cod, frozen as soon as fairly out of water, and so retain 
ing the sweetness which soon vanishes forever ; and I reckon 
that, down to 1800, the people of New England had eaten 
many more pounds of fish than of beef and mutton together, 
perhaps of all meats save those obtained by the chase. 

In Vermont, the clay soil of the Champlain Valley dis 
colors the brooks when full and repels the trout ; but the 
abundant lakes and lakelets used to abound in perch, bass, 
and sunfish, while the larger streams afforded, in addition, 
eels and pike. East Bay the common estuary of the 
Poultney and Castleton creeks, and dividing Westhaven 
from Hampton, N. Y. is, in Spring, the resort of a small, 
peculiar shad, which, with a few pike, bass, mullet, &c., come 
up from the Lake to spawn, and are caught with seines drawn 
by two fishermen, who wade through the swollen stream, 
one of them sometimes obliged to swim, while great blocks 
of ice, left aground by the receding floods, often lie slowly 
wasting along the bank. The melted snow from the moun 
tains eastward stings like a hornet as you enter it ; so that, 
if this were not sport, it would be disagreeable ; but I have 
often, when ten to twelve years old, carried the in-shore staff 
while my father took the deeper track, which immersed him 



116 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

up to his neck ; we dipping together at his word of command, 
and then gathering up our net and carrying out therein, from 
no fish at all up to six or eight. I have known a dozen taken 
at one haul ; but this was most extraordinary. 

In Summer, we sometimes caught a fine pike or eel with 
hook and line in the basin beneath the fifty-foot cataract by 
which the blended creeks tumble into the Bay ; but fishing 
here was too slow for any sportsman less persistent than I 
then was. I have sat here alone in the dense darkness of a 
wooded abyss, where the fall drowned all sounds but its own, 
from 8 to 11 P. M., without being blest with a bite, and 
then felt my way up through the Egyptian darkness of the 
forest hillside to the road, and so home, pondering on the 
fickleness of fortune ; yet eager to try again whenever oppor 
tunity should favor. I always had my week s work allotted 
me when I could, and generally succeeded in redeeming at 
least the Saturday afternoon for my favorite pastime. And I 
wish here to bear my testimony against a current theory which 
imports that boys are naturally lazy. My experience contra 
dicts it. My schoolmates and neighbors, who had a great 
deal more leisure than I, were frequent visitors to the field 
wherein I was working out my " stint," and very rarely hesi 
tated to turn in, with hearty good-will, and help me out, so 
that I might devote the rest of the day to fishing, ball, or 
other sport with them. A lazy man, in my view, is always 
the pitiable victim of miseducation. Each human being, 
properly trained, works as freely and naturally as he eats ; 
only the victims of parental neglect or misguidance hate work, 
and prefer hunger and rags with idleness, to thrift won by 
industry and patient effort. 

There came a day, early in June, 1824, when I had ran 
somed from toil the afternoon for perch-fishing in " Inman 
Pond," a lovely tarn, lying lonely among wooded hills in 
Fairhaven, some two miles east of our home. I was unde 
niably ill, in the forenoon, so that I was twice compelled to 
desist from labor and lie down ; hence, my mother judiciously 
urged me to let the fish alone for that day, and care for my 



PLAY-DAYS. 117 

health. I had not fished for months, however ; the day was 
glorious ; I set off for the pond a little after noon, and was 
dropping the perch a line within the hour. But my head 
soon grew heavy ; there was a strange ache in my every 
bone ; the breeze that sped gently across the pond, though 
really warm and bland, seemed to chill me as never before. 
I was soon compelled to put aside my pole, and lie down, 
shivering, on the bare rock .which here formed the shore ; 
thus passing two hours in a semi-conscious state of mingled 
delirium and suffering. When the fit of ague passed off, I 
rose and started homeward, but was constrained to stop at 
the first house, half a mile from home, where I passed the 
night. I had seen fever and ague before, but never felt it ; 
and I made haste to terminate the unpleasant acquaintance. 

Judging solely from my own experience, I believe he who 
will begin with an emetic directly after his first fit, and fol 
low this with heavy and frequent doses of Peruvian Bark (I 
distrust Quinine, as less natural and more perilous), taking 
care to eat very little, and that of the simplest vegetable food, 
and do absolutely no work at all, may break the fits directly, 
and return to work quite well after a fortnight. He who 
neglects or trifles with this scourge may lose a Summer by 
it, and never again be restored to his pristine health and 
vigor. 

Ball was a common diversion in Vermont while I lived there ; 
yet I never became a proficient at it, probably for want of 
time and practice. To catch a flying ball, propelled by a 
muscular arm straight at my nose, and coming on so swiftly 
that I could scarcely see it, was a feat requiring a celerity of 
actfon, an electric sympathy of eye and brain and hand, which 
my few and far-between hours snatched from labor for recre 
ation did not suffice to acquire. Call it a knack, if you will ; 
it was quite beyond my powers of acquisition. "Practice 
makes perfect." I certainly needed the practice, though I 
am not sure that any amount of it would have made me a 
perfect ball-player. 

I like popular amusements, especially those which develop 



118 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and strengthen the muscles ; but I do not like the modern 
matches made up between clubs located hundreds of miles 
apart. According to my notion, the prize should be awarded 
in these matches to the side which makes the shorter score. 
In awarding the palm for such a contest, count my vote al 
ways for the beaten party. They doubtless mind their proper 
business better, and perform their duties as fathers, husbands, 
sons, clerks, journeymen, apprentices, &c., more thoroughly 
than do the victors. It is an honor not to beat, but to be 
beaten, in a match of this sort. 

I wish it were practicable to win our countrymen to a 
wiser and more equable frame of mind respecting recreations. 
Many sourly contemn and reject them altogether ; and I 
think this was a prevalent mistake of our better class, up to 
a late period. Now, the excess seems to be of an opposite 
character. Too many make play a business, when it should 
be only a diversion from business. The youth, who has 
given his minority to study and play alternately, with no 
experience of work, is deplorably ill fitted to grapple with the 
stern realities of responsible life. His muscles need harden 
ing ; his sinews have not been disciplined to the work that 
solicits them. As between a youth all work and one all 
play, though neither is commendable, the former is pref 
erable. 

I never saw a game of Billiards played, and know nothing 
of Bowling ; yet I judge this latter a capital in-door exercise 
for persons of sedentary pursuits and habits. These I would 
advise to shun such games as Chess, Cards, Checkers, Back 
gammon, &c., because of their inevitable tendency to impair 
digestion and incite headache. If played at all, they should 
be played by men who give their days to muscular, out 
door exertion, and at night feel too tired to study. 

I tried fishing again, after being weaned of it throughout 
my apprenticeship, while stopping with my father at the 
West, and had some little success in the creeks adjacent to 
his new home ; but I was no longer fascinated by the sport, 
while the proceeds were of slender bulk and value. The 



PLAY-DAYS. 119 

streams were full of trees and roots, while overgrown by a 
tangle of limbs and bushes ; the sawdust gradually repelled 
or killed the trout ; the business involved more plague than 
profit of any kind ; and I soon deserted it. I had become, in 
my poor way, a fisher of men. 

I protest against making a business of play. The Yankees 
are prone to " run the thing into the ground," be it what it 
may. We work immoderately, and play ditto. I have seen 
very few holidays during my thirty-six years sojourn in New 
York ; and such is the experience of a large class ; while 
others have too many play-days, far too many. We must 
somehow strike a general average, for mutual benefit and the 
promotion of public health. 

I have often cooled my imagination, amid the fervid and 
sweltering heats of a summer of constant work in the city, 
with a dream of spending a week amid the lakes and moun 
tains, under the dense forest-shades of " John Brown s Tract," 
as we term the great northern wilderness wherein the Hud 
son, Mohawk, Au- Sable, Eacket, Black, and other rivers of 
the eastern half of our State, have their sources ; and, though 
I never found time to set foot therein, I have hardly yet 
relinquished the hope that I may do so. I was ever the 
zealous advocate of all works of internal improvement, so 
called, save those which aim at the heart of that wilderness, 
threatening to hunt the deer from their last refuge on our 
soil, and denude of their forest-covering the springs which 
feed our most useful and valued streams. Strip " John 
Brown s Tract " of its timber, and the Hudson will, from June 
to October, cease to be navigable by floating palaces to Al 
bany ; while desolating floods, especially in Spring, will do 
immense damage from Utica down to Castleton. 

I presume, if I were ever to have the week I covet, I should 
find it insufferably tedious, the mosquitoes biting superbly ; 
the trout shyly, or not at all, and should long for a return 
to civilization, with its hourly toils and struggles, its thronged 
pavements, and its damp newspapers with breakfast. Still, 
I should like to try the experiment ; and I hope our children 



120 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

will see, though I shall not, the greater portion of Pike and 
Monroe Counties, with other sterile mountain districts of 
eastern Pennsylvania, converted into spacious deer-parks of 
fifty to five hundred square miles each, enclosed by massive 
stone walls, intersected by belts of grass traversing each tiny 
valley (so as speedily to stop the running of any fires that 
might chance to be started), planted with the best timber, 
and held by large companies of shareholders for sporting, 
under proper regulations. These lands are not now worth five 
dollars per acre in the average ; but the timber on them 
would soon be cheap at one hundred dollars per acre, if this 
plan were adopted. They are full of petty lakes, and of 
spring-fed, swiftly running streams, which would soon abound 
with the finest trout if they were simply let alone ; with 
proper arrangements for breeding and feeding, they would 
produce more of this delicate fish than New York and Phila 
delphia ever yet saw. A century hence, were those bleak 
mountains thus dealt with, they would be covered, as of old, 
with a magnificent forest, containing more serviceable pine 
than is now standing in all our States east of the Potomac 
and Lake Erie, and then worth at least five hundred dollars 
per acre. 

Yet the fact remains, that we do not enjoy our holidays, 
do not know how to play judiciously and in moderation. 
Though often invited, I never yet went on a railroad excur 
sion that was to outlast the day of starting ; knowing by in 
stinct that it would prove a failure so far as enjoyment was 
concerned. And my recollection of steamboat excursions, 
however brief, is, that they were generally bores. I recollect 
that, one Fourth of July, long ago, an excursion to Sandy 
Hook was advertised that seemed specially inviting; so I 
overruled my distrust, and went. At 11 A. M., we passen 
gers, some hundreds in number, were debarked, by small 
boats, on the back side of the island, which we found a sand- 
heap, thinly bristled with bushes, its solitary dwelling 
inhabited by the keeper of the light-house, whose limited 
stock of bread and bacon scarcely afforded us a fair mouthful 



PLAY-DAYS. 121 

each. Our steamboat had gone back to the city for a second 
load ; so we bathed, and killed time as well as we could, until 
she returned, running aground as she attempted to near 
the shore. We got aboard, and waited dreary hours hun 
gry, crowded, and sullen for the tide to rise and float us 
off ; being tantalized throughout the evening by the shooting 
up of abundant rockets over the city, barely within our range 
of vision. At length, we partly floated, partly pulled off; 
and, at midnight, we were landed at the Battery, as thor 
oughly wearied and disgusted a lot of disappointed pleasure- 
seekers as ever crept silently to their homes. I have never 
since hankered after a seaward excursion. 



We have teachers of every art, science, and ology ; why not 
a teacher of the art of enjoying leisure, of making play a 
little less wearisome than work ? Take excursions to illus 
trate my idea. Why should not any person above ten years 
old know better than to embark on a crowded vessel or train 
with some hundreds of others, mainly total strangers, expect 
ing to enjoy in their company a trip of several days? But 
if, instead of this, a small party of intimate, devoted friends, 
of reasonably accordant tastes, education, and habits, were to 
charter a little steamboat, or a train, or a dozen wagons, 
and so betake themselves to some quiet nook where they 
would be safe from intrusion or prying curiosity, say an 
islet off the coast or in the St. Lawrence, a lake-side in our 
Northern wilderness, a cluster of deserted shingle-makers 
huts on the mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, where fish 
or game was procurable, and cool breezes in Midsummer 
might be confidently expected, they surely might expect to 
redeem a full week from care and trouble, and return to their 
homes more vigorous, more healthful, more at peace with 
themselves and with others, cured of these interminable 
headaches, and sound in body and soul. Who will teach us 
incessant workers how to achieve leisure and enjoy it ? 



XVI. 

TRIUMPH. 

ME. VAN BUEEN was inaugurated President on the 
4th of March, 1837; when General Jackson retired to 
his Hermitage, congratulating himself that he left the Ameri 
can people prosperous and happy. Never was man more 
mistaken. He had just before pointed to the immense sales 
of public lands, in 1835-36, as proof of increased and general 
addiction to agriculture, when, in fact, it proved only a pleth 
ora of currency, and a consequent high-tide of speculation. 
At length, convinced that something was wrong, the General 
attempted to dam the flood by a " specie circular," prescribing 
that only coin should thenceforth be received in payment for 
public lands. This device precipitated the catastrophe it was 
intended to avert. The harvest of 1836 had been generally 
bad, while our importations had been quite large ; we were 
compelled to import grain, while heavily in debt to Europe 
for goods ; thus our banks were drained of specie both ways, 
- to pay for lands in the West and South, and for grain and 
goods daily pouring in from the Old World. They held out 
so long as they could, and then gave way, those of our city 
suspending specie payment on the 10th of May, and all others 
directly afterward, save that some of those located in the 
southwest had done so some days before. Samuel Swartwout, 
Collector of Customs at this port, at first proclaimed that he 
would continue to receive bank-notes for duties, notwith 
standing the suspension (which was promptly legalized by 
our Jackson legislature) ; but he was soon overruled from 
Washington ; and the duties on imports indeed, the entire 



TRIUMPH. 123 

Federal revenue were thenceforth collected and kept in 
coin alone. The revenues of all the States, however, were 
still collected, kept, and paid out in bank-notes, which con 
tinued to be the currency of the people. 

Mr. Van Buren promptly called the new Congress to meet 
in extraordinary session on the first Monday in September, 
when he addressed to it a Message which laid the blame of 
suspension on the banks, which were accused of over-issuing 
and over-lending ; and he thereupon insisted that the Gov 
ernment should divorce itself from all connection with banks, 
and should thenceforth collect, keep, and pay out its revenues 
in coin only, through the agency of special depositories, form 
ing what he termed the Independent Treasury. An able, 
earnest, searching debate in the House was elicited by this 
proposition, which was terminated by a motion of Hon. John 
C. Clark, of this State, that the bill providing for the Inde 
pendent Treasury (so called) do lie on the table ; which was 
carried in a full House by a small majority. Mr. Clark had 
been a Jackson-Van Buren Democrat, but was henceforth 
accounted a " Conservative," and acted openly with the Whigs, 
as did Hon. Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, one of our United States 
Senators, and many other leading men hitherto Democrats. 
The Independent Treasury, thus condemned by the House, 
remained in force, by the President s direction, until it was 
finally enacted in the Summer of 1840. 



The commercial revulsion, which was rather apprehended ^ 
than fully experienced in 1834, was abundantly realized in 
1837. Manufactories were stopped, and their " hands " thrown 
out of work. Trade was almost stagnant. Bankruptcies 
among men of business were rather the rule than the excep 
tion. Property was sacrificed at auction often at sheriff s 
or assignee s sale for a fraction of its value ; and thousands, 
who had fondly dreamed themselves millionnaires, or on the 
point of becoming such, awoke to the fact that they were 
bankrupt. The banks were, of course, in trouble, those 



124 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

which had been Government depositories, or "pets," rather 
deeper than the rest. Looking at the matter from their point 
of view, they had been first seduced into a questionable path, 
and were now reviled and assailed for yielding to their seducers. 
Soon were heard the rumblings of a political earthquake. 
Scarcely a State elected Members of Congress or a Governor 
in 1837, after the Suspension of Specie Payments ; but the 
Legislative and local elections of Autumn sufficiently indi 
cated the popular revulsion. When New York came to vote, 
in November, the gale had stiffened into a tornado. The 

jj Whigs carried New York City, which they had never done 
x before, with Westchester, Orange, Dutchess, Greene, Oneida, 

\ Onondaga, and other counties hitherto overwhelmingly Demo 
cratic, giving them six of the eight Senate districts, including 
the First and Second. Herkimer, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Suf 
folk, and a few smaller counties, were all that clung to the 
waning fortunes of Van Buren, the Whigs choosing 100 
out of the 128 Members of Assembly. The Senate, being 
chosen but one fourth annually, remained strongly Democratic. 



y I had been active, as usual, in the canvass, but not con 
spicuously so, my personal embarrassments constraining 
me not to be. I had been privately tendered a place on the 
City Assembly ticket, but felt obliged to decline it. Outside 
of the city, I had no political, and little personal, acquaintance 
in the State ; having never yet attended a State Convention. 
I was somewhat surprised, therefore, at a visit, in my rude 
editorial attic, a few days after the extent of our victory was 
ascertained, from a stranger, who introduced himself as Mr. 
Thurlow Weed, editor of The Albany Evening Journal, who, 
with Mr. Lewis Benedict, also of Albany, was stopping at the 
City Hotel, and wished to confer with me at their lodgings. 

I accompanied Mr. Weed to his hotel, where the business 
which had brought the friends to New York was unfolded. 
Decided as had been our triumph in the State, it had been 
won on a moderate vote, and quite as much by the failure of 



TRIUMPH. 125 

Democrats to exercise their right of suffrage as by their voting 
the Whig ticket. The next election would naturally bring 
many of these stay-at-homes to the polls, and there being a 
Governor and ^Representatives in Congress to be then chosen, 
with a United States Senator in prospect would inevitably 
draw out a heavy vote. To maintain and confirm the Whig 
ascendency, it had been resolved to publish, throughout 1838, 
a cheap weekly journal, to be called The Jeffersonian, which 
I had been pitched upon as the proper person to edit. I 
believe Mr. Weed first designated me for the post, though he 
knew nothing of me except by reading my paper, The New- 
Yorker ; for though I had written for several Whig dailies, 
mainly of the ephemeral type, I had done so anonymously. 
The Jeffersonian was to be a small octavo, issued weekly for 
a year, and virtually given away for the nominal price of fifty 
cents per annum, the expense of its issue being made up 
by voluntary contributions from wealthy or spirited Whigs. 
I was offered $ 1,000 to serve as editor, and concluded to 
accept it, though this would oblige me to spend a good part 
of my time in Summer, half of each week ; in Winter, nearly 
the whole in Albany. 

About two months thereafter, having put my affairs into 
as good a shape as possible, I took stage in Cortlandt Street, 
one cold Winter morning, and had a sleigh-ride thence up the 
west side of the Hudson to Albany, where I arrived in the 
afternoon of the third day. My No. 1 appeared in due time 
thereafter; but, as my small paper did not require all my\ 
time, I made condensed reports of the Assembly debates for I 
The Evening Journal, and wrote some articles for its editorial 
columns. 

The new era in politics had called many of our foremost 
men to Albany. The courtly and gracious Luther Bradish 
was Speaker of the Assembly. Our city was represented 
therein by several notables, among them David B. Ogclen, 
Willis Hall, Samuel B. Euggles, and Adoniram Chandler. 
We had chosen as Senator Gulian C. Verplanck, whom we 
vainly tried to make Mayor in 1834. From Albany, Daniel 



126 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

D. Barnard; from Troy, Day 0. Kellogg; from Oneida, For 
tune 0. White ; from Onondaga, James E. Lawrence, Victory 
Birdseye, and Azariah Smith ; from Eochester, Derick Sibley ; 
from Livingston, George W. Patterson, were Whig Members 
of Assembly. On the other side stood Abijah Mann, of Her- 
kimer, Preston King, of St. Lawrence, and Eichard Hulbert, 
of Jefferson, with several others of decided ability and clever 
ness in parliamentary warfare. The Free Banking System 

for which our State is specially indebted to Willis Hall 

was developed and established that Winter, a great and 
admirable improvement on the corrupting political monopoly 
^ it superseded. Our banks were again allowed to issue small 
bills, which the last preceding Legislature had forbidden. 
The partisan device whereby County Judges (there were then 
several in each county) were interpolated into the County 
Boards of Supervisors for the purpose of making certain county 
appointments, was knocked on the head. In short, I believe 
our State has, since 1824, had no other Legislature so able, 
nor one that did so much good and so little harm as that 
y of 1838. 

* The Jeffersonian was a campaign paper, but after a fashion 
if its own. It carefully eschewed abuse, scurrility, and rail 
ing accusations. Its editorials were few, brief, and related to 
/the topics of the day, rarely evincing partisanship, never 
( bitterness. Its pages were mainly devoted to the ablest and 
calmest speeches made in Congress, generally to those 
which opposed the Independent (or Sub-) Treasury scheme 
and its adjuncts, though other able essays also found place in 
it. In short, it aimed to convince and win by candor and 
moderation, rather than overbear by passion and vehemence. 
Its circulation was, throughout, about 15,000 copies; and, 
being mainly read by those who took no other paper, I think 
it did good. Had it been conducted on the higli -pressure 
principle, it would probably have had a larger circulation, and 
perhaps done no good at all. I think its efficiency was some 
what evidenced by the fact that, while the Whigs were beaten 



TRIUMPH. 127 

that Fall in Maine, in Pennsylvania, in Ohio (which they 
had carried two years before), and in nearly or quite every 
State westward of Ohio, they were successful in the later 
election in New York, as the result of a desperate struggle, 
and on an average vote largely beyond precedent, William 
H. Seward ousting William L. Marcy from the Governor s 
chair, and Luther Bradish succeeding John Tracy as Lieu 
tenant-Governor, each by more than 10,000 majority. We 
carried also the Assembly (though by no such majority as the 
year before), and gained somewhat in the Senate; but that 
branch was still adverse to us, owing to the dead weight accu 
mulated in former years : so Governor Seward s nominations 
were all laid on the table, and our attempt to reelect Hon. 
N. P. Tallmadge United States Senator was likewise defeated, 
the law requiring each House to nominate a Senator, meet 
to compare nominations, and, in case of their disagreement, 
proceed to elect in joint ballot ; but the Democratic Senators 
evaded its requirement by each voting for a separate candi 
date : so that the Senate made no nomination, and could not 
be compelled to go into joint ballot. 

Considerable excitement was caused by this evasion of a 
strictly prescribed duty ; and the Whigs, by desperate exer 
tions, carried the State again in the ensuing election (Novem 
ber, 1839), though this city, which for two years had gone 
with them, now went against them. There were three Sena 
tors to be chosen this year in the Third (Albany and Dela 
ware) District ; and the Whigs just carried them all, one of 
them (General Erastus Root) by barely one majority. They 
had never triumphed in this district before ; and I think they 
never carried it again unless their adversaries were divided. 
And now, when the new Legislature met (January, 1840), we 
had, along with the Governor and Assembly, a clear majority 
(20 to 12) in the Senate, and a new chapter was to be opened. 

I was writing at a reporter s desk in the Senate, when, very 
soon after its first sitting had begun, some Whig rose and 
moved that so and so (the Democratic incumbents) be re 
moved from the posts of secretary, sergeant-at-arms, &c., and 



128 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

that so and so [nominees of a Whig caucus, held the night 
before] be appointed in their stead. At once, up rose the 
venerable but vigorous Colonel Samuel Young, of Saratoga, 
and for nearly an hour poured hot shot into the proposition^ 
descanting on bleeding constitutions, outraged liberties, vio 
lated rights, &c., &c. When he had blown out, Uncle Harry 
Livingston, of Dutchess, a humorous old Whig, who, in the 
general overturn of 1837, had blundered into the Senate from 
the Second District, to the amazement of himself and of every 
body else, sprang to his feet. As we all knew that he 
could not make a speech, in fact, had scarcely, till now, 
attempted it, curiosity was on tiptoe to catch his first sen 
tence ; but his consciousness that he had something good to 
say for a moment choked his powers of utterance. " Mr. Presi 
dent " (che-hee-hee), Mr. President," he at length managed 
to say, " I take it that this is one of those questions that are 
settled by the rule of eighteen to fourteen! [Throughout the 
preceding session, every attempt to confirm one of Governor 
Seward s nominees resulted in this entry in the journal : "Laid 
on the table, 18 to 14."] The hit was decided; the spec 
tators roared ; the Senator from the Fourth was shut up ; and 
the Senate proceeded to appoint the Whig nominees without 
further opposition or demur. Mr. Tallmadge was soon re- 
elected to the Senate, and everything put in order for the 
decisive struggle of this eventful 1840. 



XVII. 

LOO-CABIN DAYS. 

NEW YOBK, which gave Mr. Van Buren the largest ma 
jority of any State in 1836, had been held against him 
throughout his administration, though she was his own State, 
and he had therein a powerful body of devoted, personal 
adherents, led by such men of eminent ability as Silas Wright, 
William L. Marcy, and Edwin Croswell. She had been so 
held by the talent, exertion, and vigilance of men equally 
able and determined, among whom Thurlow Weed, William 
H. Seward (now Governor), John C. Spencer, and Willis Hall 
were conspicuous. But our majority of 15,000 in 37 had 
fallen to 10,000 in 38, and to 5,000 in 39, despite our best 
efforts ; Governor Seward s school recommendations and dis 
pensation of State patronage had made him many enemies ; 
and the friends of Mr. Van Buren counted, with reason, on 
carrying the State for his reelection, and against that of 
Governor Seward, in the impending struggle of 1840. Penn 
sylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, arid all the Northwest, had been 
carried against the Whigs in the most recent contests ; Mr. 
Van Buren s star was clearly in the ascendant at the South ; 
while New England and New Jersey were nicely balanced, 
Massachusetts, as well as Maine and New Hampshire, having 
chosen a Democratic governor (Marcus Morton) in 1839. Mr. 
Van Buren s Administration, though at first condemned, was 
now sustained by a popular majority : New York alone his 
own State stood forth the flagship of the Opposition. Both 
parties were silently preparing to put forth their very best 
efforts in the Presidential contest in prospect ; but fully two 



130 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

thirds of the States, choosing about that proportion of the 
electors, were now ranged on the Democratic side, many of 
them by impregnable majorities, while scarcely one State 
was unquestionably Whig. Mr. Van Buren, when first over 
whelmed by the popular surge that followed close upon the 
collapse of the Pet Bank system, had calmly and with dignity 
appealed to the people s " sober second thought " ; and it now 
seemed morally certain that he would be triumphantly re- 
elected. 

Such were the auspices under which the first Whig National 
Convention (the second National Convention ever held by 
any party, that held in 1840 by the Democrats at Baltimore, 
which nominated Van Buren and Johnson, having been the 
first) assembled at Hanisburg, Pa., early in December, 1839. 
Of its doings I was a deeply interested observer. The States 
were nearly all represented, though in South Carolina there 
were no Whigs but a handful ; even the name was unknown 
in Tennessee, and the party was feeble in several other States. 
But the delegations convened included many names widely 
and favorably known, including two ex-Governors of Vir 
ginia (James Barbour and John Tyler), one of Kentucky 
(Thomas Metcalf), one of Ohio (Joseph Vance), and at least 
one from several other States. I recollect at least two ex- 
Governors of Pennsylvania (John Andrew Shultze and Joseph 
Eitner) as actively counselling and sympathizing with the 
delegates. 

The sittings of the Convention were protracted through 
three or four days, during which several ballots for President 
were taken. There was a plurality, though not a majority, in 
favor of nominating Mr. Clay ; but it was in good part com 
posed of delegates from States which could not rationally be 
expected to vote for any Whig candidate. On the other hand, 
the delegates from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana said, 
" We can carry our States for General Harrison, but not for 
Mr. Clay." New York and New Jersey cast their earlier 
votes for General Scott, but stood ready to unite on General 
Harrison whenever it should be clear that he could be nomi- 



LOG-CABIN DAYS. 131 

nated and elected ; and they ultimately did so. The delegates 
from Maine and Massachusetts contributed powerfully to 
secure General Harrison s ultimate nomination. Each delega 
tion cast its vote through a committee, and the votes were 
added up by a general committee, which reported no names 
and no figures, but simply that no choice had been effected ; 
until at length the Scott votes were all cast for Harrison, and 
his nomination thus effected ; when the result was proclaimed. 

Governor Seward, who was in Albany (there were no tele 
graphs in those days), and Mr. Weed, who was present, and 
very influential in producing the result, were strongly blamed 
by the ardent, uncalculating supporters of Mr. Clay, as having 
cheated him out of the nomination, I could never see with 
what reason. They judged that he could not be chosen, if 
nominated, while another could be, and acted accordingly. 
If politics do not meditate the achievement of beneficent ends 
through the choice and use of the safest and most effective 
means, I wholly misapprehend them. 

Mr. John Tyler, with nearly or quite all his fellow-dele 
gates from Virginia, was for Clay first, last, and all the time ; 
for him whether he could be elected or not. When it was 
announced that Mr. Clay was defeated, he cried (so it was 
reported) ; and that report (I think) gave him the nomination 
for Vice-President without a contest. It was an attempt of 
the triumphant Harrisonites to heal the wounds of Mr. Clay s 
devoted friends. Yet the nomination was, for several reasons, 
a strong one. Mr. Tyler, though a Jackson man, had received, 
in 1828, the votes for United States Senator of the Adams men 
in the Virginia Legislature, and been thereby elected over 
John Randolph. When Jackson removed the deposits from 
the United States Bank, he united with the Whigs in publicly 
condemning the act; and, having been superseded therefor, 
he was thereafter regarded as a Whig. He had voted alone 
in the Senate of 1832-33 against the Force bill, which pro 
vided for the collection of the Federal revenue in South Caro 
lina in defiance of the nullifying ordinance of her Convention. 
He had run for Vice-President on the White ticket in 1836, 



132 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and so had acquired a hold on the Southern opponents of Van 
Buren, which soon brought them all heartily into the support 
of the Harrisburg ticket. In short, the Convention made the 
strongest possible ticket, so far as success was regarded ; and 
the Democrats in attendance all felt, though they did not 
confess it. Every one who had eyes could see that they de 
sired and worked for the nomination of Mr. Clay. One of 
them, after the ticket was made, offered to bet that it would 
not be elected; but, his offer being promptly accepted, and he 
requested to name the amount, he hauled off. In short, we 
left Harrisburg with that confidence of success which goes far 
to secure its own justification ; and we were greeted on our 
way home as though the battle were already won. 

But it was well understood that the struggle would be 
desperate, especially in our State, and preparations were soon 
in progress to render it effective. Our adversaries now helped 
us to our most effective weapons. They at once commenced 
assailing General Harrison as an imbecile, dotard, granny, 
&c., who had seen no real fighting, but had achieved a good 
deal of tall running from the enemy ; and one militia general, 
Crary, w r ho represented Michigan in the House, having made 
a speech in this vein, provoked a response from Hon. Tom 
Corwin of Ohio, which for wit, humor, and withering yet 
good-natured sarcasm has rarely, if ever, been excelled. The 
triumph was overwhelming; and, when the venerable and 
grave John Quincy Adams, in a few casual remarks next 
morning, spoke carelessly of " the late General Crary," a spon 
taneous roar attested the felicity of the allusion. 

General Harrison had lived many years after his removal 
to Ohio in a log-house, and had been a poor man most of his 
life, as he still was. A Democratic journalist, scoffing at the 
idea of electing such a man to the Presidency, smartly ob 
served, in substance, " Give him a log-cabin and a barrel of 
hard cider, and he will stay content in Ohio, not aspiring to 
the Presidency." The taunt was immediately caught up by 
the Whigs : " log-cabins " and " hard cider " became watch 
words of the canvass ; and every hour the excitement and 
enthusiasm swelled higher and higher. 



LOG-CABIN DAYS. 133 

But the Democratic party claimed an unbroken series of 
triumphs in every Presidential election which it did not throw 
away by its own dissensions ; and, being now united, regarded 
its success as inevitable. " You Whigs," said Dr. Duncan, of 
Ohio, one of its most effective canvassers, " achieve great vic 
tories every day in the year but one, that is the day of 
election." It was certain that a party which had enjoyed the 
ever-increasing patronage of the Federal Government for the 
preceding twelve years, which wielded that of most of the 
States also, and which was still backed by the popularity and 
active sympathy of General Jackson, was not to be expelled 
from power without the most resolute, persistent, systematic 
exertions. Hence, it was determined in the councils of our 
friends at Albany that a new campaign paper should be issued, 
to be entitled The Log-Cabin ; and I was chosen to conduct 
it. No contributions were made or sought in its behalf. I 
was to publish as well as edit it ; it was to be a folio of good 
size ; and it was decided that fifteen copies should be sent for 
the full term of six months (from May 1 to November 1) 
for $ 5. 

I had just secured a new partner (my fifth or sixth) of con 
siderable business capacity, when this campaign sheet was 
undertaken ; and the immediate influx of subscriptions fright 
ened and repelled him. He insisted that the price was ruin 
ous, that the paper could not be afforded for so little, 
that we should inevitably be bankrupted by its enormous 
circulation, and all my expostulations and entreaties were 
unavailing against his fixed resolve to get out of the concern 
at once. I therefore dissolved and settled with him, and was 
left alone to edit and publish both The New-Yorker and The 
Log-Cabin, as I had in 1838 edited, but not published, The 
New-Yorker and The Jeffersonian. Having neither steam 
presses nor facilities for mailing, I was obliged to hire every 
thing done but the head-work, which involved heavier outlays 
than I ought to have had to meet. I tried to make The 
Log-Cabin as effective as I could, with wood engravings of 
General Harrison s battle-scenes, music, &c., and to render it 



f 



134 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

a model of its kind ; but the times were so changed that it 
was more lively and less sedately argumentative than The 
Jeffersonian. 

Its circulation was entirely beyond precedent. I fixed the 
edition of No. 1 at 30,000 ; but before the close of the week 
I was obliged to print 10,000 more ; and even this was too 
few. The weekly issues ran rapidly up to 80,000, and might 
have been increased, had I possessed ample facilities for 
printing and mailing, to 100,000. With the machinery of 
distribution by news companies, expresses, &c., now existing, 
I guess that it might have been swelled to a quarter of a 
million. And, though I made very little money by it, I gave 
every subscriber an extra number containing the results of 
the election. After that, I continued the paper for a full year 
longer; having a circulation for it of 10,000 copies, which 
about paid the cost, counting my work as editor nothing. 



The Log-Cabin was but an incident, a feature of the can 
vass. Briefly, we Whigs took the lead, and kept it through 
out. Our opponents struggled manfully, desperately; but 
wind and tide were against them. They had campaign and 
other papers, good speakers, and large meetings ; but we were 
far ahead of them in singing, and in electioneering emblems 
and mottoes which appealed to popular sympathies. The 
elections held next after the Harrisburg nominations were 
local, but they all went our way; and the State contests, 
which soon followed, amply confirmed their indications. In 
September, Maine held her State election, and chose the Whig 
candidate for Governor (Edward Kent) by a small majority, 
but on a very full vote. The Democrats did not concede his 
election till after the vote for President, in November. Penn 
sylvania, in October, gave a small Democratic majority ; 
but we insisted that it could be overcome when we came to 
vote for Harrison, and it was. In October, Ohio, Indiana, 
and Georgia all gave decisive Harrison majorities, rendering 
the great result morally certain. Yet, when the Presidential 



LOG-CABIN DAYS. 135 

electors chosen were fully ascertained, even the most sanguine 
among us were astounded by the completeness of our triumph. 
We had given General Harrison the electoral votes of all but 
the seven States of New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina, 
Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, 60 in all, 
while our candidate had 234 ; making his the heaviest ma 
jority by which any President had ever been chosen. New 
York, where each party had done its best, had been carried 
for him by 13,290 majority ; but Governor Seward had been 
reflected by only 5,315. With any other candidate for Presi 
dent, he could scarcely have escaped defeat. 

I judge that there were not many who had done more 
effective work in the canvass than I had ; but I doubt that 
General Harrison ever heard my name. I never visited nor 
wrote him ; I was not of the throng that surrounded him on 
reaching Washington, in fact, I did not visit that city, in 
1841, until after his most untimely death. I received the 
news of that calamity on landing one morning from an Albany 
steamboat ; and I mournfully realized, on the instant, that it 
was no common disaster, but far-reaching in its malign influ 
ence. General Harrison was never a great man, but he had 
good sense, was moderate in his views, and tolerant of adverse \r 
convictions ; he truly loved and aspired to serve his country, 
and was at the summit of a broadly based and substantial 
popularity which, had he lived out his term, would have 
averted many impending evils. Our country, in my view, 
had lost many abler men, but none that she could so ill spare 
since Washington. He was President for one short month ; 
and then the hopes born of his election were suddenly buried 
in his grave. 



XVIII. 

THE TRIBUNE. 

ON the tenth day of April, 1841, a day of most unseason 
able chill and sleet and snow, our city held her great 
funeral parade and pageant in honor of our lost President, who 
had died six days before. General Eobert Bogardus, the ven 
erable Grand Marshal of the parade, died not long afterward 
of exposure to its inclemencies. On that leaden, funereal 
morning, the most inhospitable of the year, I issued the first 
number of THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE. It was a small sheet, 
for it w T as to be retailed for a cent, and not much of a news 
paper could be afforded for that price, even in those specie- 
paying times. I had been incited to this enterprise by sev 
eral Whig friends, who deemed a cheap daily, addressed more 
especially to the laboring class, eminently needed in our city, 
where the only two cheap journals then and still existing 
The Sun and The Herald were in decided, though un- 
avowed, and therefore more effective, sympathy and affiliation 
with the Democratic party. Two or three had promised 
pecuniary aid if it should be needed ; only one (Mr. James 
Coggeshall, long since deceased) ever made good that promise, 
by loaning me one thousand dollars, which was duly and 
gratefully repaid, principal and interest. I presume others 
would have helped me had I asked it ; but I never did. Mr. 
Dudley S. Gregory, who had voluntarily loaned me one thou 
sand dollars to sustain The New-Yorker in the very darkest 
hour of my fortunes, in 1837, and whom I had but recently 
repaid, was among my most trusted friends in the outset of 
my new enterprise also ; but I was able to prosecute it with 
out taxing (I no longer needed to test) his generosity. 



THE TRIBUNE. 137 

My leading idea was the establishment of a journal re 
moved alike from servile partisanship on the one hand and 
from gagged, mincing neutrality on the other. Party spirit 
is so fierce and intolerant in this country that the editor of 
a non-partisan sheet is restrained from saying what he thinks 
and feels on the most vital, imminent topics ; while, on the 
other hand, a Democratic, Whig, or Kepublican journal is 
generally expected to praise or blame, like or dislike, eulogize 
or condemn, in precise accordance with the views and interest 
of its party. I believed there was a happy medium between \/ 
these extremes, a position from which a journalist might 
openly and heartily advocate the principles and commend 
the measures of that party to which his convictions allied 
him, yet frankly dissent from its course on a particular ques 
tion, and even denounce its candidates if they were shown to * 
be deficient in capacity or (far worse) in integrity. I felt that 
a journal thus loyal to its guiding convictions, yet ready to 
expose and condemn unworthy conduct or incidental error, on - 
the part of men attached to its party, must be far more 
effective, even party-wise, than though it might always be 
counted on to applaud or reprobate, bless or curse, as the 
party s prejudices or immediate interest might seem to pre 
scribe. Especially by the Whigs who were rather the 
loosely aggregated, mainly undisciplined opponents of a great 
party, than, in the stricter sense, a party themselves did 
I feel that such a journal was consciously needed, and would 
be fairly sustained. I had been a pretty constant and copious 
contributor (generally unpaid) to nearly or quite every cheap 
Whig journal that had, from time to time, been started in our 
city ; most of them to fail after a very brief, and not particu 
larly bright career ; but one The New York Whig, which 
was, throughout most of its existence, under the dignified and 
conscientious direction of Jacob B. Moore, formerly of The 
New Hampshire Journal had been continued through two 
or three years. My familiarity with its history and manage 
ment gave me confidence that the right sort of a cheap Whig 
journal would be enabled to live. I had been ten years in 



138 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

New York, was thirty years old, in full health and vigor, and 
worth, I presume, about two thousand dollars, half of it in 
printing materials. The Jeffersonian, and still more The Log- 
Cabin, had made me favorably known to many thousands of 
those who were most likely to take such a paper as I pro 
posed to make The Tribune, while The New-Yorker had 
given me some literary standing and the reputation of a use 
ful and well-informed compiler of election returns. In short, 
I was in a better position to undertake the establishment of 
a daily newspaper than the great mass of those who try it 
and fail, as most who make the venture do and must. I pre 
sume the new journals (in English) since started in this city 
number not less than one hundred, whereof barely two The 
Times and The World can be fairly said to be still living ; 
and The World is a mausoleum wherein the remains of The 
Evening Star, The American, and The Courier and Enquirer 
lie inurned ; these having long ago swallowed sundry of their 
predecessors. Yet several of those which have meantime 
lived their little hour and passed away were conducted by 
men of decided ability and ripe experience, and were backed 
by a pecuniary capital at least twenty times greater than the 
fearfully inadequate sum whereon I started The Tribune. 

On the intellectual side, my venture was not so rash as it 
seemed. My own fifteen years devotion to newspaper-mak 
ing, in all its phases, was worth far more than will be gen 
erally supposed ; and I had already secured a first assistant 
in Mr. Henry J. Kaymond, who having for two years, 
while in college at Burlington, Vt., been a valued contributor 
to the literary side of The New-Yorker had hied to the city 
directly upon graduating, late in 1840, and gladly accepted 
my offer to hire him at eight dollars per week until he could 
do better. I had not much for him to do till The Tribune 
was started : then I had enough : and I never found another 
person, barely of age and just from his studies, who evinced 
so signal and such versatile ability in journalism as he did. 
Abler and stronger men I may have met ; a cleverer, readier, 
more generally efficient journalist, I never saw. He remained 



THE TRIBUNE. 139 

with me nearly eight years, if my memory serves, and is the 
only assistant with whom I ever felt required to remonstrate 
for doing more work than any human brain and frame could 
be expected long to endure. His salary was of course. gradu 
ally increased from time to time ; but his services were more 
valuable in proportion to their cost than those of any one else 
who ever aided me on The Tribune. 

Mr. George M. Snow, a friend of my own age, who had had 
considerable mercantile experience, took charge of the Finan 
cial or Wall-Street department (then far less important than 
it now is), and retained it for more than twenty-two years ; 
becoming ultimately a heavy stockholder in, and a trustee of, 
the concern ; resigning his trust only when (in 1863) he de 
parted for Europe in ill health; returning but to die two 
years later. A large majority of those who aided in prepar 
ing or in issuing the first number had preceded or have fol 
lowed Mr. Snow to the Silent Land ; but two remain, and 
are now Foreman and Engineer respectively in the Print 
ing Department, both stockholders and trustees. Others, 
doubtless, survive, who were with us then, but have long 
since drifted away to the West, to the Pacific slope, or into 
some other employment, and the places that once knew them 
know them no more. Twenty-six years witness many 
changes, especially in a city like ours, a position like mine ; 
and I believe that the only men who were Editors of New 
York dailies before me, and who still remain such, are Mr. 
William Cullen Bryant of The Evening Post, and Mr. James 
Gordon Bennett of The Herald. 



About five hundred names of subscribers had already been 
obtained for The Tribune mainly by my warm personal and 
political friends, Noah Cook and James Coggeshall before 
its first issue, whereof I printed five thousand, and nearly 
succeeded in giving away all of them that would not sell. I 
had type, but no presses ; and so had to hire my press-work 
done by the "token"; my folding and mailing must have 



140 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

staggered me but for the circumstance that I had few papers 
to mail, and not very many to fold. The lack of the present 
machinery of railroads and expresses was a grave obstacle 
to the circulation of my paper outside of the city s suburbs ; 
but I think its paid-for issues were two thousand at the close 
of the first week, and that they thenceforth increased pretty 
steadily, at the rate of five hundred per week, till they reached 
ten thousand. My current expenses for the first week were 
about five hundred and twenty-five dollars; my receipts 
ninety-two dollars ; and, though the outgoes steadily, inevit 
ably increased, the income increased in a still larger ratio, till 
it nearly balanced the former. But I was not made for a 
publisher ; indeed, no man was ever qualified at once to edit 
and to publish a daily paper such as it must be to live in 

these times ; and it was not until Mr. Thomas McElrath 

whom I had barely known as a member of the publishing 
firm over whose store I first set type in this city, but who 
was now a lawyer in good standing and practice made me 
a voluntary and wholly unexpected proffer of partnership in 
my still struggling but hopeful enterprise, that it might be 
considered fairly on its feet. He offered to invest two thou 
sand dollars as an equivalent to whatever I had in the busi 
ness, and to devote his time and energies to its management, 
on the basis of perfect equality in ownership and in sharing 
the proceeds. This I very gladly accepted ; and from that 
hour my load was palpably lightened. During the ten years 
or over that The Tribune was issued by Greeiey & McElrath, 
iny partner never once even indicated that my anti-Slavery, 
^anti-Hanging, Socialist, and other frequent aberrations from 
the straight and narrow path of Whig partisanship, were in 
jurious to our common interest, though he must often have 
sorely felt that they were so; and never, except when I 
(rarely) drew from the common treasury more money than 
could well be spared, in order to help some needy friend 
whom he judged beyond help, did he even look grieved at 
anything I did. On the other hand, his business management 
of the concern, though never brilliant, nor specially energetic, 



THE TRIBUNE. 141 

was so safe and judicious that it gave me no trouble, and 
scarcely required of me a thought, during that long era of all 
but unclouded prosperity. 

The transition from my four preceding years of incessant , 
pecuniary anxiety, if not absolute embarrassment, was like 
escaping from the dungeon and the rack to freedom and sym 
pathy. Henceforth, such rare pecuniary troubles as I en 
countered were the just penalties of my own folly in indors 
ing notes for persons who, in the nature of things, could not 
rationally be expected to pay them. But these penalties are 
not to be evaded by those who, soon after entering responsible 
life, " go into business," as the phrase is, when it is inevitable 
that they must be thereby involved in debt. He who starts 
on the basis of dependence on his own proper resources, re 
solved to extend his business no further and no faster than 
his means will justify, may fairly refuse to lend what he 
needs in his own operations, or to indorse for others when he 
asks no one to indorse for him. But you cannot ask favors,^ 
and then churlishly refuse to grant any, borrow, and then 
frown upon whoever asks you to lend, seek indorsements, 
but decline to give any : and so the idle, the prodigal, the 
dissolute, with the thousands foredoomed by their own de 
fects of capacity, of industry, or of management, to chronic 
bankruptcy, live upon the earnings of the capable, thrifty, 
and provident. Better wait five years to go into business 
upon adequate means which are properly your own, than to 
rush in prematurely, trusting to loans, indorsements, and the 
forbearance of creditors, to help you through. I have squan 
dered much hard-earned money in trying to help others who 
were already past help, when I not only might, but should, 
have saved most of it if I had never, needing help, sought and 
received it. As it is, I trust that my general obligation has 
been fully discharged. 

The Tribune, as it first appeared, was but the germ of what 
I sought to make it. No journal sold for a cent could ever 
be much more than a dry summary of the most important or 
the most interesting occurrences of the day ; and such is not 



142 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

a newspaper, in the higher sense of the term. We need to 
know, not only what is done, but what is purposed and said, 
by those who sway the destinies of states and realms ; and, 
to this end, the prompt perusal of the manifestoes of mon- 
archs, presidents, ministers, legislators, etc., is indispensable. 
No man is even tolerably informed in our day who does not 
regularly " keep the run " of events and opinions, through the 
daily perusal of at least one good journal ; and the ready cavil 
that " no one can read " all that a great modern journal con 
tains, only proves the ignorance or thoughtlessness of the 
caviller. No one person is expected to take such an interest 
in the rise and fall of stocks, the markets for cotton, cattle, 
grain, and goods, the proceedings of Congress, Legislatures, 
and Courts, the politics of Europe, and the ever-shifting 
phases of Spanish- American anarchy, etc., etc., as would in 
cite him to a daily perusal of the entire contents of a metro- 
., politan city journal of the first rank. The idea is rather to 
embody in a single sheet the information daily required by 
all those who aim to keep " posted " on every important 
occurrence ; so that the lawyer, the merchant, the banker, the 
forwarder, the economist, the author, the politician, etc., may 
find here whatever he needs to see, and be spared the trouble 
of looking elsewhere. A copy of a great morning journal now 
contains more matter than an average twelvemo volume, and 
its production costs far more, while it is sold for a fortieth or 
fiftieth part of the volume s price. There is no other miracle 
of cheapness which at all approaches it. The Electric Tele 
graph has precluded the multiplication of journals in the 
great cities, by enormously increasing the cost of publishing 
each of them. The Tribune, for example, now pays more 
than one hundred thousand dollars per annum for intellectual 
labor (reporting included) in and about its office, and one 
hundred thousand dollars more for correspondence and tele 
graphing, in other words, for collecting and transmitting 
news. And, while its income has been largely increased from 
year to year, its expenses have inevitably been swelled even 
more rapidly; so that, at the close of 1866, in which its 



THE TRIBUNE. 143 

receipts had been over nine hundred thousand dollars, its 
expenses had been very nearly equal in amount, leaving no 
profit beyond a fair rent for the premises it owned and occu 
pied. And yet its stockholders were satisfied that they had 
done a good business, that the increase in the patronage 
and value of the establishment amounted to a fair interest on 
their investment, and might well be accepted in lieu of a 
dividend. In the good time coining, with cheaper paper and less 
exorbitant charges for " cable despatches " from the Old World, 
they will doubtless reap where they have now faithfully 
sown. Yet they realize and accept the fact, that a journal 
radically hostile to the gainful arts whereby the cunning and 
powerful few live sumptuously without useful labor, and often 
amass wealth, by pandering to lawless sensuality and popular 
vice, can never hope to enrich its publishers so rapidly nor so 
vastly as though it had a soft side for the Liquor Traffic, and 
for all kindred allurements to carnal appetite and sensual 
indulgence. f 

Fame is a vapor ; popularity an accident ; riches take wings ; 
the only earthly certainty is oblivion; no man can foresee 
what a day may bring forth ; while those who cheer to-day 
will often curse to-morrow : and yet I cherish the hope that 
the journal I projected and established will live and flourish 
long after I shall have mouldered into forgotten dust, being 
guided by a larger wisdom, a more unerring sagacity to dis 
cern the right, though not by a more unfaltering readiness to 
embrace and defend it at whatever personal cost ; and that /"" 
the stone which covers my ashes may bear to future eyes the / 
still intelligible inscription, " Founder of The New York 
Tribune." 



XIX. 

SOCIALISM. 

^pHE Winter of 1837-38, though happily mild and open 
A till far into January, was one of pervading destitution 
and suffering in our city, from paralysis of business and con 
sequent dearth of employment. The liberality of those who 
could and would give was heavily taxed to save from famish 
ing the tens of thousands who, being needy and unable to 
find employment, first ran into debt so far as they could, and 
thenceforth must be helped or starve. For, in addition to all 
who may be said to belong here, legions of laborers, servants, 
etc., are annually dismissed in Autumn from the farms, coun 
try-seats, and watering-places of the suburban districts, and 
drift down to the city, whence they were mainly hired ; 
vaguely hoping to find work here, which a small part of them 
do : the rest live on the good-nature of relatives, if such they 
have here, or on credit from boarding-houses, landlords, or 
grocers, so long as they can; and then make their choice 
between roguery and beggary, or change from this to that, or 
take them mixed, as chance may dictate. Since the general 
diffusion of railroads and the considerable extension of our 
manufacturing industry, business is far more equable than it 
was, even in prosperous times, thirty years ago ; but Winter is 
still a season of privation and suffering to many thousands 
who live in tolerable comfort through the warmer seasons. 
To say that ten thousand young persons here annually take 
their first lessons in debauchery and crime would be to keep 
quite within the truth; and, while passion, ignorance, and 
miseducation ruin their thousands, I judge that destitution 



SOCIALISM. 145 

flowing from involuntary idleness sends more men and women 
to perdition, in this city, than any other cause, intemperance 
possibly excepted. 

I lived that Winter in the Sixth Ward, then, as now, 
eminent for filth, squalor, rags, dissipation, want, and misery. 
A public meeting of its citizens was duly held early in De 
cember, and an organization formed thereat, by which com 
mittees were appointed to canvass the Ward from house to 
house, collect funds from those who could and would spare 
anything, ascertain the nature and extent of the existing des 
titution, and devise ways and means for its systematic relief. 
Very poor myself, I could give no money, or but a mite ; so I 
gave time instead, and served, through several days, on one 
of the visiting committees. I thus saw extreme destitution 
more closely than I had ever before observed it, and was 
enabled to scan its repulsive features intelligently. I saw 
two families, including six or eight children, burrowing in one 
cellar under a stable, a prey to famine on the one hand, and 
to vermin and cutaneous maladies on the other, with sickness 
adding its horrors to those of a polluted atmosphere and a 
wintry temperature. I saw men who each, somehow, sup 
ported his family on an income of $ 5 per week or less, yet 
who cheerfully gave something to mitigate the sufferings of 
those who were really poor. I saw three widows, with as 
many children, living in an attic on the profits of an apple- 
stand which yielded less than $ 3 per week, and the landlord 
came in for a full third of that. But worst to bear of all was 
the pitiful plea of stout, resolute, single young men and young 
women : " We do not want alms ; we are not beggars ; we hate 
to sit here day by day idle and useless ; help us to work, we 
want no other help : why is it that we can have nothing to do ? " 

I pondered these scenes at intervals throughout the next 
two or three years, and was impelled thereby to write for The 
New-Yorker I think, in the Winter t)f 1839-40 a series 
of articles entitled, " What shall be done for the Laborer ? " 
I believe these attracted the attention of Mr. Albert Brisbane, 
a young man of liberal education and varied culture, a native 
10 



140 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of Batavia, N". Y., which he still regarded as his home, but 
who had travelled widely and observed thoughtfully ; making 
the acquaintance in Paris of the school of Socialists called 
(after their founder) St. Simonians, and that also of Charles 
Fourier, the founder of a different school, which had been 
distinguished by his name. Robert Owen, by his experiments 
at New Lanark and his " New Views of Society," was the first 
in this century to win public attention to Socialism, though 
(I believe) Fourier had not only speculated, but written, before 
either of his co-laborers. But Owen was an extensive and 
successful manufacturer ; St. Simon was a soldier, and the heir 
of a noble family ; while Fourier was a poor clerk, reserved 
and taciturn, whose hard, dogmatic, algebraic style seemed 
expressly calculated to discourage readers and repel adherents ; 
so that his disciples were few indeed, down to the date of his 
death in 1837. Mr. Brisbane, returning not long afterward 
from Europe, prepared and published his first work which 
was an exposition and commendation of Fourier s industrial 
system in 1840. My acquaintance with the author and his 
work commenced soon afterward. 

I sum up these three competing projects of Social Reform 
as follows : 

Owen. Place human beings in proper relations, under fa 
voring circumstances (among which I include Education and 
Intelligence), and they will do right rather than wrong. 
Hitherto, the heritage of the great majority has been filth, 
squalor, famine, ignorance, superstition ; and these have im 
pelled many to indolence and vice, if not to crime. Make 
their external conditions what they should be, and these will 
give place to industry, sobriety, and virtue. 

St. Simon. " Love is the fulfilling of the law." Secure to 
every one opportunity ; let each do whatever he can do best ; 
and the highest good of the whole will be achieved and per 
petuated. 

ClFowrierl Society, as we find it, is organized rapacity. Half 
of its force is spent in repressing or resisting the jealousies 
and rogueries of its members. We need to organize Universal 



SOCIALISM. 147 

Justice based on Science. The true Eden lies before, not 
behind us. We may so provide that Labor, now repulsive, 
shall be attractive ; while its efficiency in production shall 
be increased by the improvement of machinery and the ex 
tended use of natural forces, so as to secure abundance, edu 
cation, and elegant luxury, to all. What is needed is to 
provide all with homes, employment, instruction, good living, 
the most effective implements, machinery, &c., securing to 
each the fair and full recompense of his achievement; and 
this can best be attained through the association of so^me four 
to five hundred families in a common household, and in th 
ownership and cultivation of a common domain, say of 2,00 
acres, or about one acre to each person living thereon. 



I accept, unreservedly, the views of no man, dead or living. 
"The master has said it," was never conclusive with me. 
Even though I have found him right nine times, I do not 
take his tenth proposition on trust ; unless that also be proved 
sound and rational, I reject it. But I am convinced, after 
much study and reflection, that the Social Eeformers are right 
on many points, even when clearly wrong on others ; and I 
deem Fourier though in many respects erratic, mistaken, 
visionary the most suggestive and practical among them. 
I accept nothing on his authority; for I find many of his 
speculations fantastic, erroneous, and (in my view) pernicious ; 
but on many points he commands my unreserved concur 
rence. Yet I prefer to set forth my own Social creed rather 
than his, even wherein mine was borroweonromliis teachings ; 
and mine is, briefly, as follows : 

!/)[ believe that there need be, and should be, no paupers 
wficT are not infantile, idiotic, or disabled ; and that civilized 
society pays more for the support of able-bodied pauperism 
than the necessary cost of its extirpation. 

II. I believe that they babble idly and libel Providence 
who talk of surplus Labor, or the inadequacy of Capital to 
supply employment to aU who need it. Labor is often most 



148 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

^^r 

required and best paid where Capital is scarcest (as was shown 
in California in 1849-50); and there is always even in 
China far more work than hands, provided the ability to 
devise and direct be not wanting. Where Labor stands idle, 
save in the presence of some great public calamity, there is a 
demonstrated deficiency, not of Capital, but of brains. 

III. I believe that the efficiency of human effort is enor 
mously, ruinously diminished by what I term Social Anarchy. 
That is to say : " We spend half our energies in building fences 
and providing safeguards against each other s roguery, while 
our labor is rendered inefficient and inadequately productive 
by bad management, imperfect implements, a deficiency of 
power (animal or steam), and the inability of our producers 
to command and wield the most effective machinery. It is 
quite within the truth to estimate the annual product of our 
National Industry at less than one half what it might be if 
better applied and directed. 

iy-. Inefficiency in production is paralleled by waste in 
consumption. Insects and vermin devour at least one fourth 
of the farmer s harvests, which inadequate fertilizing and un 
skilful cultivation have already reduced far below the proper 
aggregate. A thousand cooks are required, and a thousand 
fires maintained, to prepare badly the food of a township ; 
when a dozen fires and a hundred cooks might do it far better, 
and with a vast saving in quantity as well as improvement in 
quality. [I judge that the cooks of Paris would subsist One 
Million persons on the food consumed or wasted by Six Hun 
dred Thousand in this city ; feeding them better than they are 
now fed, and prolonging their lives by an average of five years.] 

Y. Youth should be a season of instruction in Industry 
and the Useful Arts, as well as in Letters and the Sciences 
mastered by their aid. Each child should be trained to skill 
and efficiency in productive Labor. The hours of children 
should be alternately devoted to Labor, Study, and Recreation, 
say, two hours to each before, and a like allotment after, 
dinner each secular day. Thus each child would grow up an 
adept, not merely in letters, but in arts, a skilful worker as 



SOCIALISM. 149 

well as a proficient in the lessons of the school-room, able to 
do well, not one thing only, but many things, familiar with 
mechanical as well as agricultural processes, and acquainted 
with the use of steam and the direction of machinery. Not 
till one has achieved the fullest command, the most varied 
use, of all his faculties and powers, can he be properly said to 
be educated. 

VI. 1 Isolation is at war with efficiency and with progress. 
As "iron sharpeneth iron," so are man s intellectual and in 
ventive faculties stimulated by contact with his fellow-men. 
A nation of herdsmen, dwelling in movable tents, invents 
little or nothing, and makes no progress, or next to none. 
Serfdom was the general condition of the laboring class in 
Europe, until aggregation in cities and manufactories, dif 
fusing intelligence, and nourishing aspiration, wrought its 
downfall. 

VII. The poor w r ork at perpetual disadvantage in isolation, 
because of the inadequacy of their means. Let us suppose 
that four or five hundred heads of families propose to embark 
in Agriculture. Each buys his little farm, his furniture, his 
implements, animals, seeds, fertilizers, &c., &c., and though 
he has purchased nothing that he does not urgently need 
he finds his means utterly exhausted, and his farm and future 
exertions heavily burdened by debt. He hopes and labors to 
clear off the mortgage ; but flood and drouth, frost and fire, 
work against him ; his poverty compels him to do without 
many implements, and to plough/or team with inadequate force; 
he runs up an account at the store, and pays twenty per cent, 
extra for his goods, because others, who buy on credit, fail to 
pay at all ; and so he struggles on, till his strength fails, and 
he dies oppressed with debt. Such is the common lot. 

VIIp Association would have these unite to purchase, in 
habit, and cultivate a common domain, say, of two thousand 
acres, whereby these advantages over the isolated system 
would be realized : 

1. One fourth (at most) of the land required under the old 
system would be found abundant. 




RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

2. It could be far better allotted and appropriated to Grain, 
Grass, Fruits, Forest, Garden, &c. 

3. The draught animals that were far too few, when dispersed 
among five hundred owners, on so many different farms, would 
be amply sufficient for a common domain. 

4. Steam or water power could now be economically em 
ployed for a hundred purposes cutting and sawing timber, 
threshing and grinding grain, ploughing the soil, and for 
many household uses where the small farmer could not 
think of employing it. 

5. Industry would find new and powerful incentives in the 
observation and praise or censure of the entire community ; 
uniforms, banners, and music, with the rivalry of bands of 
competing workers, would provoke emulation and lighten 
labor; while such recreations as dramas, concerts, readings, 
&c., now utterly beyond the reach of rural workers, would 
give a new zest to life. At present, our youth escape from 
rural industry when they can, not that they really hate 
work, but that they find their leisure hours even duller and 
less endurable than those they give to rugged toil. 



I must devote another chapter to a narration of my experi 
ences as an advocate of the views above set forth, and a brief 
account of the efforts made within my knowledge to give them 
practical exemplification. That these efforts resulted in fail 
ures the world already knows : I will endeavor to set forth 
the facts dispassionately, so as to afford fair grounds for judg 
ment as to how far these failures are due to circumstances, 
and how far they may be fairly charged to the system itself. 
I shall endeavor to lay little of the blame on well-abused 
Human Nature ; since, if any system be ill adapted to Man 
as we find him, it may be excellently calculated for use on 
some other planet, but not on this one. 



XX. 

SOCIALISTIC EFFORTS. 

THE propagation in this country of Fourier s ideas of 
Industrial Association was wholly pioneered by Mr^A. 
Brisbane, who presented them in a series of articles in The 
TriDune, beginning in 1841, and running through two or three 
years. The Future a weekly entirely devoted to the sub 
ject was issued for a few weeks, but received no considerable 
support, and was therefore discontinued. The Harbinger, a 
smaller weekly, was afterward issued from the Brook Farm 
Association, and sustained not without loss for two or 
three years. Meantime, several treatises, explaining and 
commending the system, were published, the best of them 
being " Democracy, Pacific and Constructive," by Mr. Parke 
Godwin, now of The Evening Post. The problem was further 
discussed in a series of controversial letters between Mr. Henry 
J. Raymond and myself. Thus, by persevering effort, the 
subject was thrust, as it were, on public attention ; a few 
zealous converts made to the new ideas, and probably more 
vehement adversaries aroused ; while the far greater number 
could not be induced to read or consider, but regarded all 
Socialist theories with stubborn indifference. Those who 
were in good circumstances, or hoped yet to be, wished no 
such change as was contemplated by the new theories ; the 
ignorant, stolid many, who endure lives of destitution and 
squalid misery, were utterly devoid of faith or hope, receiving 
with profound incredulity and distrust any proposal to im 
prove their condition. My observation justifies the belief, 
that the most conservative of mankind, when not under the 



152 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

{influence of some great, convulsive uprising like the French 
Kevolution, are those who have nothing to lose. 

Of the practical attempts to realize our social Utopia, I 
believe that known as " Brook Farm," in Boxbury, Mass., ten 
miles from Boston, was first in the order of time, and notable 
in many other respects. Its projectors were cultivated, 
scholarly persons, who were profoundly dissatisfied with the 
aims, as well as the routine, of ordinary life, and who wel 
comed in theoretic Socialism a fairer and nobler ideal. So 
they bought a cold, grassy farm of two hundred acres, added 
two or three new buildings to those which had served the 
last preceding owner, and bravely took possession. New 
members joined from time, to time, as others left; the land 
was improved, and, I believe, some was added ; boarders were 
taken occasionally ; a school was started^ and maintained ; and 
so the concern fared on through some five or six years. But, 
deficient in capital, in agricultural skill, and in many needful 
things besides, it was never a pecuniary success, and was 
filially given up about 1847 or 48, paying its debts, I un 
derstood, to the last dime, but returning nothing to its stock 
holders. I believe this was the only attempt made in New 
England. 

From this city, two bands of Socialist pioneers went forth, 
one to a rugged, lofty region in Pike County, Pa., five 
miles from the Erie Ptailroad at the mouth of the Lackawaxen, 
which they called " Sylvania," after the State. The domain 
here purchased was ample, some 2,300 acres ; the location 
was healthy, and there was abundance of w T ood and water. 
But the soil was stony and poor ; the altitude was such that 
there was a heavy frost on the 4th of July, 1844; the mem 
bers were generally very poor, and in good part inefficient 
also ; and the crops harvested were slender enough. I think 
"Sylvania" was founded early in 1843, and gave up the 
ghost having little else to give up sometime in 1845. 
Its domain returned to the seller or his assigns, in satisfaction 
of his mortgage, and its movables nearly or quite paid its 
debts, leaving its stock a total loss. 



SOCIALISTIC EFFORTS. 153 

The " North American Phalanx " had more vitality and a 
better location. The nucleus of its membership was formed 
in Albany, though it drew associates from every quarter. 
Several of them were capable mechanics, traders, and farmers. 
It was located in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, N. J., five 
miles from the dock at Eed Bank, on a farm of 673 acres, 
originally good land, but worn out by most improvident, 
thriftless cultivation, so that it was bought for less than $ 23 
per acre, which was its full value. But there was an ample 
bed of marl on its eastern border, considerable timber along 
its creeks, two or three very dilapidated farm buildings, and 
a few large, old apple-trees, which were just better than none. 
Here we few, but zealous, Associationists of New York and 
its vicinity for a time concentrated our means and our 
efforts ; each subscribing freely to the capital, and then aiding 
the enterprise by loans to nearly an equal amount. I think 
the capital ultimately invested here (loans included) was fully 
$ 100,000, or about one fourth the amount there should have 
been. By means thereof, a capacious wooden dwelling, one 
or two barns, and a fruit-house were erected, thousands of 
loads of marl dug and applied to the land, large orchards were 
planted and reared to maturity, and a mile square of sterile, 
exhausted land converted into a thrifty and productive do 
main. The experiment was finally abandoned, on the heel 
of a heavy loss sustained in the burning of our fruit-house, 
which, with some other set-backs, discouraged some of the 
best associates, and caused them to favor a dissolution. There 
was no pecuniary failure, in the ordinary acceptation of the 
term. The property was sold out at auction, the domain 
in tracts of ten to eighty acres, and, though it brought not 
more than two thirds of its cash value, every debt was paid, 
and each stockholder received back about 65 per cent, of his 
investment with interest. I reckon that not many stock 
holders in gold-mines or oil-wells can show a better result. 
(I can speak of gold-mines from personal experience ; oil- 
wells being older when they came into vogue I have 
carefully kept out of.) As I recollect, the " North American 




RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Phalanx" was founded in 1843, and wound up about 1850, 
when I think no sister Association was left to deplore its fate. 
Its means had been larger, its men and women, in the average, 
more capable and devoted, than those of any rival ; if it could 
not live, there was no hope for any of them. 
^^ A serious obstacle to the success of any Socialist experi 
ment must always be confronted. I allude to the kind of 
persons who are naturally attracted to it. Along with many 
noble and lofty souls, whose impulses are purely philanthropic, 
and who are willing to labor and suffer reproach for any cause 
that promises to benefit mankind, there throng scores of 
whom the world is quite worthy, the conceited, the crotchety, 
the selfish, the headstrong, the pugnacious, the unappreciated, 
the played-out, the idle, and the good-for-nothing generally ; 
who, finding themselves utterly out of place and at a discount 
in the world as it is, rashly conclude that they are exactly 
fitted for the world as it ought to be. These may have failed 
again and again, and been protested at every bank to which 
they have been presented ; yet they are sure to jump into any 
new movement, as if they had been born expressly to super 
intend and direct it, though they are morally certain to ruin 
whatever they lay their hands on. Destitute of means, of 
practical ability, of prudence, tact, and common sense, they 
have such a wealth of assurance and of self-confidence that they 
clutch the responsible positions, which the capable and worthy 
modestly shrink from : so responsibilities that would tax the 
ablest are mistakenly devolved on the blindest and least fit. 
Many an experiment is thus wrecked, when, engineered by 
its best members, it might have succeeded. I judge not what 
may be done and borne by a mature, thoroughly organized 
Association ; but a pioneer, half-fledged experiment lacking 
means, experience, edifices, everything can bear no extra 
weight, but needs to be composed of, and directed by, most 
efficient, devoted, self-sacrificing men and women. 

That there have been nay, are decided successes in 
practical Socialism, is undeniable ; but they all have that 
Communistic basis which seems to me irrational, and calcu- 



SOCIALISTIC EFFORTS. 155 

lated to prove fatal. I cannot conceive it just, that an asso 
ciate who invests $ 100,000 should stand on an equal footing, 
so far as property is concerned, with one who brings nothing 
to the common fund ; nor can I see why an ingenious, efficient 
mechanic, whose services are worth $ 5 per day, should receive 
no more of the annual product than an ignorant ditcher, who 
can at best earn but $ 2 per day. To my mind, every one is 
fairly entitled to what he has earned, and to what he shall 
earn, unless he chooses to bestow it 011 some one else ; and I 
hold, with Fourier, that Communism must destroy individual 
liberty. Credit me on the books with what I invested, and 
what I have since earned or otherwise added to the common 
wealth; and, if I choose to spend my day with a visiting 
friend, or go off for a week s fishing, it is no one s business 
but my own. But, say that all we have and all we make are 
common property, wherein each has rightfully an equal in 
terest, and I shall feel morally bound to do my share of the 
work, and shall be dissatisfied when others palpably do less 
than I do. Hence, I can easily account for the failure of 
Communism, at New Harmony, and in several other experi 
ments ; I cannot so easily account for its successes. Yet the 
fact stares us in the face, that, while hundreds of banks and 
factories, and thousands of mercantile concerns managed by 
shrewd, strong men, have gone into bankruptcy and perished, 
Shaker Communities, established more than sixty years ago, 
upon a basis of little property and less worldly wisdom, are 
living and prosperous to-day. And their experience has been 
imitated by the German Communities at Economy, Pa., Zoar, 
Ohio, the Society of Ebenezer, &c., &c. Theory, however 
plausible, must respect the facts. 

I once visited the Society of Ebenezer, when it was located 
on lands seven miles from Buffalo, not long before surrendered 
by the Tonawanda Indians. The members were nearly all 
Prussians, led by a rich nobleman, who had invested his all 
in the common fund, and led his followers to this country, 
where they first located near Buffalo as aforesaid, but have 
since sold, and migrated to cheaper land, away from any great 



156 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

city, in Iowa. I did not see the " head centre," but the second 
man was from the Zoar Community, and I had a free talk 
with him, part of which (in substance) is worth recalling : 

" What do you do with lazy people ? " I inquired. 

" We have none," he promptly replied. " We have often 
disciplined members for working too hard and too long ; for, 
whatever the world may think of us, we profess to be asso 
ciated for spiritual edification, not temporal gain ; and we do 
not desire our people to become absorbed in drudgery and 
money-getting." 

" Yes, I understand," I persisted ; " but suppose you had a 
lazy member : how would you treat him ? How does your 
discipline provide for the possible contingency of his attaining 
to the membership of your body ? " 

" In this way only : we are a brotherhood and sisterhood 
for spiritual, not temporal, ends. Our temporal relations are 
a consequence of our spiritual union. For spiritual growth 
and improvement, we are divided into four classes, according 
to our presumed religious advancement respectively. If, then, 
a member of the fourth (highest) class were to evince a lazy, 
shirking disposition, he would, after some private admonition, 
be reported by that class to the next general meeting, as not 
sufficiently developed, or endued with Divine grace, for that 
class ; and, on that report, he would be reduced to the third 
class. If, after due probation, he should evince a slothful 
spirit there, he would be reported by tJiat class, as he had 
been by the higher ; and, on this report, be reduced to the 
second class ; and, on the report of this, in like manner, to 
the first or lowest class, that which includes young children 
and all wholly undeveloped natures. Theoretically, this would 
be our course ; we know no further or other discipline than 
this : practically, no occasion for such discipline has arisen. 
We often discipline members for working too much or too 
persistently ; never for working too little." 

I do not believe men naturally lazy ; but I judge that they 
prefer to receive the fair recompense of their labor, to work 
for themselves and those dear to them, rather than for him- 




SOCIALISTIC EFFORTS. 

dreds, if not thousands, whom they scarcely know by sight, 
I believe in Association, or Cooperation, or whatever name 
may be given to the combination of many heads and hands 
to achieve a beneficent result, which is beyond the means of 
one or a few of them ; for I perceive that vast economies, and 
vastly increased efficiency, may .thus be secured ; T reject 
Communism as at war with one of the strongest and most 
universal instincts, that which impels each worker to pro- 
\luce and save for himself and his own. Yet Eeligion often 
makes practicable that which were else impossible, and Divine 
Love triumphs where Human Science is baffled. Thus I in 
terpret the past successes and failures of Socialism. 

Cooperation the combination of some hundreds of pro- 
ducers to dispose of their labor or its fruits, or of consumers 
in like manner to supply their common wants of food, &c. 
more economically and satisfactorily than by individual pur 
chases from markets, stalls, or stores is one-sided, frag 
mentary Association. Its advantages are signal, obvious, im 
mediate ; its chief peril is the rascality of the agent, treasurer, 
or manager, whom it is obliged to trust. As it involves no 
decided, radical change of habits and usages, it is destined to 
achieve an early success, and thus to pioneer further and 
more beneficent reforms. It has already won signal triumphs 
in sober, practical England; it is winning the intellectual 
assent of earnest, meditative Germany. I shall be sorely 
disappointed if this Nineteenth Century does not witness its 
very general adoption as a means of reducing the cost and 
increasing the comfort of the poor man s living. It ought to 
add twenty-five per cent, to the average income of the thriftier 
half of the laboring, class ; while its advantages are free to all 
with whom economy is an object. And even above its direct 
advantages I prize the habits of calculation, of foresight, of 
saving which it is calculated to foster and promote among 
those who accept its principle and enjoy its more material 
blessings. 

With a firm and deep religious basis, any Socialistic scheme 
may succeed, though vicious in organization, and at war with 



158 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Human Nature, as I deem Shaker Communism, and the 
antagonist or "Free Love" Community of Perfectionists at 
Oneida, N. Y. Without a basis of religious sympathy and 
religious aspiration, it will always be difficult, though, I judge, 
not impossible. Even the followers of Comte, the swallowers 
of his Pantheistic fog, will yet be banded or melted into com 
munities, and will endeavor to realize the exaltation of Work 
into Worship, with a degree of success to be measured by the 
individual characters of the associates. And every effort to 
achieve through Association a less sordid, fettered, grovelling 
life, will have a positive value for the future of mankind, 
however speedy and utter its failure. I deem it impossible 
that beings born in the huts and hovels of isolated society, 
feebly, ineffectively delving and grubbing through life on the 
few acres immediately surrounding each of them, shall there 
attain the full stature of perfect manhood. They are dwarfed, 
stunted, shrivelled, by their petty avocations and shabby sur 
roundings, by the seeming necessity which constrains them 
to bend their thoughts and energies to the achievement of 
narrow, petty, paltry ends. Our dwellings, our fields, our 
farms, our industries, all tend to belittle us ; the edifice which 
shall yet lodge commodiously and agreeably two thousand 
persons, giving each the requisite privacy and independence, 
though as yet unconstructed, is not a chimera ; no more is 
the prosecution of agricultural and other labor by large bands, 
rendered picturesque by uniforms, and inspired by music. 
That " many hands make light work " is an old discovery ; it 
shall yet be proved that the combined efforts of many workers 
make Labor efficient and ennobling, as well as attractive. In 
modern society, all things tend unconsciously toward grand, 
comprehensive, pervading reforms. The steamboat, the rail- 
car, the omnibus, are but blind gropings toward an end which, 
unpremeditated, shall yet be attained ; in the order of Nature, 
nothing ultimately resists an economy; and the sceptical, 
sneering world shall yet perceive and acknowledge that, in 
many important relations, and not merely in one, " It is not 
good for Man to be alone." 



XXI. 

HARRY CLAY. 

JOHN TYLEE succeeded General Harrison in the Presi 
dency. He was called a Whig when elected Vice-Pres- 
ident ; I think he never called hinlself, nor wished others 
to call him so, from the day on which he stepped into our 
dead President s shoes. At all events, he contrived soon to 
quarrel with the great body of those whose efforts and votes 
had borne him into power. If he cried at Harrisburg over 
Mr. Clay s defeat, Mr. Clay s friends had abundant reason to 
cry ever afterward over Tyler s success there. He vetoed 
the bill chartering a new United States Bank ; and, having 
himself sketched the plan of a substitute, and given it a name, 
he, when Congress passed it, vetoed that. He having inherited 
General Harrison s cabinet, this veto compelled its members to 
resign; Mr. Webster, as Secretary of State, lingering for 
months after all the rest had left ; but he, too, had to go at 
last; and Mr. Tyler stood forth an imbittered, implacable 
enemy of the party which had raised him from obscurity and 
neglect to the pinnacle of power. Men always hate those 
they have wronged ; and Mr. Tyler fairly detested those he 
had betrayed. Before he had been a year in power, he was 
in full, though covert, alliance with the Democrats, and figur 
ing for their next Presidential nomination. But such as he 
are often used, never trusted. 

Of course, the blighting of the fond hopes of the Whigs, 
and the transfer to their adversaries of the power and patron 
age they had so arduously won, were disastrous. Their plun 
der-seekers went over to the adversary ; their favorite meas- 



160 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

ures were defeated, and their energies paralyzed : so State 
after State deserted their standard. New York, which had 
proved herself Whig at every State election held under Van 
Buren s administration, went strongly Democratic at the very 
first held under Tyler s, and remained so at the two following. 
Two thirds, if not three fourths, of the States were carried 
against us in the State elections of 1841, 42, 43. 

On the 1st of May, 1844, a Whig National Convention 
assembled in Baltimore. The venerable Ambrose Spencer, of 
New York, then nearly eighty years old, presided. Henry 
Clay was nominated for President without a dissenting voice, 
and with rapturous enthusiasm. Theodore Frelinghuysen, of 
New Jersey, was, after a spirited contest, presented for Vice- 
President. The delegates separated in undoubting confidence 
that their choice would be ratified by the people. 

The Democratic Convention met in the same city soon 
afterward. A large majority of the delegates had been ex 
pressly instructed to nominate Martin Van Buren for Pres 
ident, and such was the undoubted preference of the Demo 
cratic masses. But many of the managing politicians had 
other views. Some of them had rival personal aspirations ; 
and these thought two chances for the Presidency enough for 
one person, even though he had but once succeeded. A good 
many were tired of the New York ascendency, and eager for 
a change. The question of annexing Texas of which more 
hereafter had been so manipulated as to render many 
Southern politicians bitterly, actively hostile to Mr. Van 
Buren, who had taken ground adverse to annexation under 
the existing circumstances. Hence, when the Convention 
met, a resolve was introduced and passed requiring the vote 
of two thirds of the delegates to nominate a candidate. Van 
Buren s pledged majority was thus rendered of no avail ; and 
soon, as the ballotings progressed, delegate after delegate 
dropped away from him, until at length his remaining and 
earnest supporters, in order to defeat Cass, Buchanan/and 
Woodbury, went over in a body to James K. Polk, of Ten 
nessee, and nominated him on the forty-fourth ballot. Silas 



HARRY CLAY. 161 

Wright, of New York, was quite unanimously named for 
Vice-President ; but he declined, and George M. Dallas, of 
Pennsylvania, was set up in his stead. 

Mr. Polk was a man of moderate abilities, faultless private 
character, and undeviating Jacksonism. He had briefly but 
positively avowed himself an advocate of the immediate An 
nexation of Texas. He had once been chosen Speaker of the 
House of Representatives, and once Governor of Tennessee ; 
being beaten, when he stood for reelection, by Colonel James 
C. Jones, the Whig candidate. The suggestion that such a 
man, whose very name was unknown, up to the hour of his 
nomination, by a majority of those whose votes he must obtain 
if he were to be elected, should be pitted against the world- 
known and admired Harry Clay, was deemed the height of 
absurdity. And not only did multitudes of Whigs deem the 
nomination of Polk a virtual surrender at discretion, but many 
Democrats privately cherished a similar conviction. The 
canvass, which opened at once with unusual spirit and deter 
mination, soon undeceived them. Yet I think I do not err 
in stating that thousands supported Mr. Polk who intended 
only to maintain their standing in the Democratic party, 
while they neither expected nor wished to defeat Mr. Clay s 
election. 

The early nomination of Silas Wright for Governor of our 
State added immensely to Mr. Polk s strength. He was 
widely known as a life-long friend and devoted follower of 
Mr. Van Buren, and his refusal to be placed second on the 
Polk ticket had increased his popularity with those who felt 
as he did. It soon became evident that the party would be 
substantially united on its National nominees, united rather 
by their common hostility to Mr. Clay than by their devotion 
to his competitor. A few eminent New York Democrats 
issued what was called a secret circular, advising their friends 
to vote for Polk and Dallas, but to be careful to send members 
to Congress who would oppose to the last the Annexation of 
Texas. This recommendation was not followed. Those Demo 
crats who disliked Annexation generally held their peace; 
11 



162 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Silas Wright, in two or more campaign speeches, proclaimed 
that Annexation should only take place under conditions that 
gave Free Labor equal advantages with Slave from the acqui 
sition. In the event, though the repugnance to Annexation 
at the North had been strong and general, Mr. Polk lost very 
few Democratic votes on account of it, though his support of 
the measure was open and unequivocal. Mr. Clay, on the 
other hand, though always clearly hostile to the Tyler or any 
kindred project, to any scheme of immediate, unconditional 
Annexation without the prior consent of Mexico, yet wrote 
several letters on the subject that served to embarrass his, 
friends and encourage his foes. He explained that he did 
not object to Annexation because of Slavery, which he re 
garded as temporary, while the acquisition of Texas would be 
permanent, and, under fit circumstances, desirable. These 
letters were written to two different friends in Alabama, and 
were probably not intended for publication, at all events, 
they should not have been published. They gave Mr. Clay s 
opponents plausible grounds for saying that he was dissatisfied 
with his position before the public, and anxious to change it ; 
they embarrassed his many friends who did object to Annexa 
tion on anti-Slavery grounds ; and they did not help him 
anywhere. Alabama and all the planting States went against 
him, all but Georgia and Louisiana heavily so. He would 
have been stronger with the people if he had stood on his 
letter written from Ealeigh, N. C., before his nomination, 
which was sufficiently full and explicit. A candidate for a 
high elective office can hardly be too sparing of personal 
manifestoes and explanations. 

On the other great issue of the canvass the Tariff Mr. 
Clay s position was unquestionable. He was for Protection 
as a cardinal feature of a beneficent National policy, and he 
was especially in favor of the Protective Tariff of 1842, then 
just fairly in operation, and giving profitable employment to 
much hitherto dormant labor, not only in existing mines, 
furnaces, factories, &c., but in opening new mines, and in 
erecting and fitting up many more furnaces and factories. 



HARRY CLAY. 163 

The country had unquestionably been poor, its industry par 
alyzed, its revenue deficient, when that Tariff was enacted ; 
the subsequent change had been signal and rapid, and the 
Whi^s believed and insisted that the Protection and the Pros- 

O 

perity stood to each other in the relation of cause and effect. 
Our opponents, of course, denied the relation : they could not 
plausibly deny the facts. And their metropolitan organ, 
The Globe, which issued a prospectus for campaign sub 
scribers, in which Protection and the Tariff were fiercely as 
sailed, circulated in Pennsylvania a revised and expurgated 
edition, from which the anti-Tariff fulmination was carefully 
expunged. 

Nor was this the worst. Mr. Polk had been for years in 
Congress, and had always voted there against Protection, as 
all Southern Democrats had voted since 1828. He was as 
much a Free-Trader in his votes as Mr. Calhoun had been ever 
since 1824. And yet he was induced by the exigencies of 
the canvass in Pennsylvania to write (or sign) the following 
letter : 

COLUMBIA, TENN., June 19, 1844. 

DEAR SIR : I have received recently several letters in reference 
to my opinions on the subject of the Tariff, and, among others, 
yours of the 10th ultimo.* My opinions on this subject have been 
often given to the public. They are to be found in my public 
acts, and in the public discussions in which I have participated. I 
am in favor of a tariff for revenue, such a one as will yield a 
sufficient amount to the Treasury to defray the expenses of Gov 
ernment, economically administered. In adjusting the details of 
a revenue tariff, I have heretofore sanctioned such moderate dis 
criminating duties as would produce the amount of revenue needed, 
and at the same time afford incidental protection to our home 
industry. I am opposed to a tariff for protection merely, and not 
for revenue. Acting upon these general principles, it is well known 
that I gave my support to the policy of General Jackson s admin 
istration on this subject. I voted against the tariff act of 1828. 
I voted for the act of 1832, which contained modifications of some 
of the objectionable provisions of the act of 1828. As a member 

* Never given to the public. H. G. 



164 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representa 
tives, I gave my assent to the bill reported by that committee in 
December, 1832, making further modifications of the act of 1828, 
and making also discriminations in the imposition of the duties 
which it proposed. That bill did not pass, but was superseded by 
the bill commonly called the Compromise Bill, for which I voted. 
In my judgment, it is the duty of the government to extend, as 
far as it may be practicable to do so, by its revenue laws and all 
other means within its power, fair and just protection to all the 
great interests of the whole Union, embracing Agriculture, Manu 
factures, and the Mechanic Arts, Commerce, and Navigation. I 
heartily approve the resolutions upon this subject passed by the 
Democratic National Convention, lately assembled at Baltimore. 
I am, with great respect, dear sir, 

Your ob t serv t, 

JAMES K. POLK. 
JOHN K. KANE, Esq., Philadelphia. 

It was impossible not to see that this was an elaborate 
attempt to darken counsel so as to break the force of the 
Tariff issue, which was telling strongly against him wherever 
Protection was the favorite policy, and especially in intensely, 
and all but unanimously, Protective Pennsylvania. The Whigs 
had felt confident of carrying Pennsylvania on the Tariff 
issue in her State (October) election, and thereupon carrying, 
not her only, but New York and other doubtful States, at the 
Presidential election in November; but this letter enabled 
those who saw fit to insist that Polk was as much a Tariff 
man as Clay, and thereupon to override us by appeals to 
Pennsylvania s Democratic and Jackson prepossessions. A 
remarkably clever and subtle speech by Silas Wright, at 
Watertown, N. Y r ., aided this effort. Mr. Wright had voted 
in Congress for both the Tariffs of 1828 and 1842, the two 
most Protective of any ever yet passed. Yet he assailed the 
latter, not in principle, but in detail ; arguing that it favored 
the woollen manufacturer at the expense of the wool-grower, 
by admitting cheap, coarse foreign wool -at a low rate of duty. 
All our efforts to make a distinct issue, and obtain a popular 
decision as between Protection and Free Trade respectively, 



HARRY CLAY. 165 

were thus baffled ; and, while every Free-Trader went against 
us, Gulian C. Verplanck leaving us expressly on that ground, 
- we lost the votes of thousands of Protectionists, who were 
unfairly induced to believe Polk as much a Protectionist as 
Clay ! A " Native American " movement, which had originat 
ed in the Fall of 1843 among the native Democrats of this 
city, who revolted against what they considered a monopoly 
of office by our foreign-born population, had extended to, and 
almost absorbed, the Whig voters of this and other cities, 
New York and Philadelphia being both swept by it in the 
Spring of 44. The first impression that Mr. Clay would gain 
more than he would lose by this side-wind was not justified 
by the result ; as the Presidential contest grew hotter and 
hotter, the Democratic Natives returned to their old standard, 
while immigrants by tens of thousands were naturalized ex 
pressly to vote against Nativism, and all their votes told 
against us, as did those of thousands more who managed to 
vote without awaiting naturalization. Hence we failed to 
elect our Governor in Pennsylvania by 4,397 majority, the 
vote standing: Shunk, 160,759; Markle, 156,352; and of 
course failed to carry the State at the following Presidential 
election, when Polk had 167,535 to 161,203 for Clay; and, 
as Pennsylvania then voted on the Friday before our election, 
which commenced on the following Monday and continued 
till Wednesday night, the weight of that State s vote against 
us fell heavily on New York, and, by the help of a heavy 
illegal vote in this city, barely carried her against us; the 
votes cast being: Polk, 237,588; Clay, 232,482; and Birney 
(Abolition), 15,812. I think we should have had at least half 
of that Birney vote for Clay, and made him President (for he 
only needed the vote of New York), in spite of all other draw 
backs, but for those fatal Alabama letters. And the result in 
Michigan was likewise decided by the Birney vote; while 
Louisiana was lost by the scandalous " Plaquemine " frauds, 
-a parish which had given 179 Democratic to 93 Whig 
votes in 42 giving 1,007 Democratic to but 37 Whig in 44 : 
the voters coming down from New Orleans on a steamboat, 



166 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and pouring in their illegal ballots with scarcely a fig-leaf of 
decency. Polk carried that State by 699 majority ; and he 
had 970 in Plaquemines, where he was entitled to 200 at 
most. As it was, we carried for Mr. Clay the States of Ver 
mont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jer 
sey, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, 
and Tennessee, 11 in all, casting 105 electoral votes ; while 
Mr. Folk s electors were chosen in fifteen States, casting 170 
votes. And, so close was the contest throughout, that Mr. 
Clay had in the whole Union 1,288,533 popular votes to 
1,327,325 for Mr. Polk : Polk s majority, 38,792. Mr. Birney 
had in all 62,263 votes : so that Mr. Polk was preferred by a 
plurality, not a majority, of the entire people. But that did 
not affect the fact nor the validity of his election. 

I have admired and trusted many statesmen : I profoundly 
loved Henry Clay. Though a slaveholder, he was a champion 
of Gradual Emancipation when Kentucky formed her first 
State Constitution in his early manhood ; and he was openly 
the same when she came to revise it, half a century later. 
He was a conservative in the true sense of that much-abused 
term: satisfied to hold by the present until he could see 
clearly how to exchange it for the better; but his was no 
obstinate, bigoted conservatism, but such as became an intel 
ligent and patriotic American. From his first entrance into 
Congress, he had been a zealous and effective champion of 
Internal Improvements, the Protection of Home Industry, a 
sound and uniform National Currency, those leading fea 
tures of a comprehensive, beneficent National policy which 
commanded the fullest assent of my judgment and the best 
exertions of my voice and pen. I loved him for his generous 
nature, his gallant bearing, his thrilling eloquence, and his 
life-long devotion to what I deemed our country s unity, pros 
perity, and just renown. Hence, from the day of his nomina 
tion in May to that of his defeat in November, I gave every 
i hour, every effort, every thought, to his election. My wife 
j and then surviving child (our third) spent the Summer at a 
\ farm-house in a rural township of Massachusetts, while I 



HARRY CLAY. 167 

gave heart and soul to the canvass. I travelled and spoke 
much ; I wrote, I think, an average of three columns of The 
Tribune each secular day; and I gave the residue of the 
hours I could save from sleep to watching the canvass, and 
doing whatever I could to render our side of it more effective. 
Very often, I crept to my lodging near the office at 2 to 3 
A.M., with my head so heated by fourteen to sixteen hours of 
incessant reading and writing, that I could only win sleep by 
means of copious affusions from a shower-bath ; and these, 
while they probably saved me from a dangerous fever, brought 
out such myriads of boils, that though I did not heed them 
till after the battle was fought out and lost I was covered 
by them for the six months ensuing, often fifty or sixty at 
once, so that I could contrive no position in which to rest, 
but passed night after night in an easy-chair. And these 
unwelcome visitors returned to plague me, though less se 
verely, throughout the following Winter. I have suffered from 
their kindred since, but never as I did from their young luxu 
riance in that Winter of 44-45. 

Looking back through almost a quarter of a century on 
that Clay canvass of 1844, I say deliberately that it should 
not have been lost, that it need not have been. True, there 
was much good work done in it, but not half so much as there 
should have been. I, for example, was in the very prime of 
life, thirty-three years old, and knew how to write for 
newspaper ; and I printed in that canvass one of the most 
effective daily political journals ever yet issued. It was sold 
for two cents ; and it had 15,000 daily subscribers when the 
canvass closed. It should have had 100,000 from the first 
day onward; and my Clay Tribune a campaign weekly, 
issued six months for fifty cents should have had not less 
than a quarter of a million. And those two issues, wisely 
and carefully distributed, could not have failed to turn the 
long-doubtful scale in favor of Mr. Clay s election. Of course, 
I mean that other effective, devoted journals should also have 
been systematically disseminated, until every voter who could 
and would read a Whig journal had been supplied with one, 
even though he had paid nothing for it. A quarter of a million 



168 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Campaign Tribunes would have cost at most 8 125,000 ; and 
there were single houses largely engaged in mining or manu 
facturing who were damaged more than that amount by Mr. 
Clay s defeat, and the consequent repeal of the Tariff of 42. 
There should have been $ 1,000,000 raised by open subscrip 
tion during the week in which Mr. Clay was nominated, and 
every dime of it judiciously, providently expended in furnish 
ing information touching the canvass to the voters of New 
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To put a good, effi 
cient journal into the hands of every voter who will read it 
is the true mode of prosecuting a political canvass ; meetings 
and speeches are well enough, but this is indispensable. Mr. 
Clay might have been elected, if his prominent, earnest sup 
porters had made the requisite exertions and sacrifices ; and I 
cannot but bitterly feel that great and lasting public calami 
ties would thereby have been averted. 



Mr. Clay, born in poverty and obscurity, had not even a 
common-school education, and had only a few months clerk 
ship in a store, with a somewhat longer training in a lawyer s 
office, as preparation for his great career. Tall in person, 
though plain in features, graceful in manner, and at once 
dignified and affable in bearing, I think his fervid patriotism 
and thrilling eloquence combined with decided natural abili 
ties and a wide and varied experience to render him the 
American more fitted to win and enjoy popularity than any 
other who has lived. That popularity he steadily achieved 
and extended through the earlier half of his long public life ; 
but he was now confronted by a political combination well- 
nigh invincible, based on the potent personal strength of 
General Jackson ; and this overcame him. Five times pre 
sented as a candidate for President, he was always beaten, 
twice in conventions of his political associates, thrice in the 
choice of electors by the people. The careless reader of our 
history in future centuries will scarcely realize the force of 
his personal magnetism, nor conceive how millions of hearts 
glowed with sanguine hopes of his election to the Presidency, 
and bitterly lamented his and their discomfiture. 



XXII. 

MARGARET FULLER. 

THE year 1840 rendered notable by the Harrison can 
vass was signalized by several less noisy reactions 
and -uprisings against prescription and routine. One of these 
made itself manifest in the appearance at Boston of The Dial, 
the quarterly utterance of a small fraternity of scholars 
and thinkers, who had so far outgrown the recognized stand 
ards of orthodox opinion in theology and philosophy as to be 
grouped, in the vague, awkward terminology of this stammer 
ing century, as Transcendentalists. Inexcusably bad as the 
term is, it so clearly indicates an aspiration, a tendency, as 
contradistinguished from a realization, an achievement, that 
it may be allowed to stand. Those to whom it was applied 
had alike transcended the preexisting limitations of decorous 
and allowable thinking ; but they were alike in little else. 
The chosen editor of this magazine was SARAH MARGARET 
FULLER, while Ealph Waldo Emerson and George Eipley 
were announced as her associates. After a time, Mr. Emer 
son became the editor, with his predecessor as his chief as 
sistant, but there was in reality little change; and, while 
others contributed to its pages, The Dial, throughout the four 
or five years of its precarious existence, was chiefly regarded 
and valued as an expression and exponent of the ideas and 
convictions of these two rarest, if not ripest, fruits of New 
England s culture and reflection in the middle of the Nine 
teenth Century. The original editor was to have been paid 
a salary of two hundred dollars per annum, had the sale of 
the work justified so liberal a stipend ; but I believe it never 



170 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

did. What was purposed by its projectors is thus stated in 
one of her private letters : 

" A perfectly free organ is to be offered for the expression of 
individual thought and character. There are no party measures 
to be carried, no particular standard to be set up. A fair, calm 
tone, a recognition of universal principles, will, I hope, pervade 
the essays in every form. I trust there will be a spirit neither of 
dogmatism nor of compromise ; and that this journal will aim, not 
at leading public opinion, but at stimulating each man to judge 
for himself, and to think more deeply and more nobly, by letting 

him see how some minds are kept alive by a wise self-trust 

We cannot show high culture, and I doubt about vigorous thought. 
But we shall manifest free action as far as it goes, and a high aim. 
It were much if a periodical could be kept open, not to accomplish 
any outward object, but merely to afford an avenue for what of 
liberal and calm thought might be originated among us, by the 
wants of individual minds." 

I presume the circulation of The Dial never reached two 
thousand copies, and that it hardly averaged one thousand. 
But its influence and results are nowise measured by the 
number of its patrons, nor even of its readers. To the " fit 
audience, though few," who had long awaited and needed its 
advent, without clearly comprehending their need, it was like 
manna in the wilderness ; and scores of them found in its 
pages incitement and guidance to a noble and beneficent, even 
though undistinguished, career. 

S. MARGARET FULLER, the eldest child of Timothy and 
Margaret Crane Fuller, was born at Cambridgeport, Mass., on 
the 23d of May, 1810. Her father was a lawyer of hum- 
.ble origin, who had risen, by force of resolution and industry, 
to a respectable position at the Boston bar, though he was a 
Eepublican, and all the wealth and business of that city were 
intensely Federal ; and he ultimately represented in Congress, 
for several terms, the Middlesex district adjacent. This did 
not increase his popularity nor his professional gains in Bos 
ton ; so that, when he died of cholera (Oct. 2, 1835), after 
a life of labor and frugality, he left but a narrow competence 



MARGARET FULLER. 171 

to his widow and large family of mainly young, dependent 
children. 

But that widow was a woman of signal excellence of soul 
and life. He was well established in practice, and must have 
been ten or fifteen years at the bar when he met her, a 
young girl of humble family and little education, but of rare 
beauty, physical and mental ; and, falling in love with her at 
sight, sought her acquaintance, wooed, won, and married her. 
And, though she never found time for extensive study, her 
natural refinement was such that the deficiencies of her edu 
cation were seldom or never perceptible. 

Her eldest daughter was too early stimulated to protracted, 
excessive mental labor by her fond, exacting, ambitious fa 
ther, justly proud of her great natural powers, and ignorant 
of the peril of overtaxing them. I have heard that, when but 
eight years old, she had her " stint " of so many Latin verses 
to compose per day, ready to recite to him on his return to 
their suburban home from his day s work in the city. This 
may be idle gossip ; I only know that, when I first made her 
acquaintance, she was, mentally, the best instructed woman 
in America ; while she was, physically, one of the least envi 
able, a prey to spinal affliction, nervous disorder, and pro 
tracted, fearfully torturing headaches. Those who knew her 
in early youth have assured me that she was then the picture 
of rude health, red-cheeked, robust, vigorous, and comely, 
if not absolutely beautiful. Too much of this was sacrificed 
to excessive study. Her near friend and literary associate, 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, gives this account of his first impres 
sions of her in her early prime of womanhood, ten years be 
fore I met her : 

" I still remember the first half-hour of Margaret s conversation. 
She was then twenty-six years old. She had a face and frame that 
would indicate fulness and tenacity of life. She was rather under 
the middle height ; her complexion was fair, with strong, fair hair. 
She was then, as always, carefully and becomingly dressed, and of 
lady-like self-possession. For the rest, her appearance had noth 
ing prepossessing. Her extreme plainness, a trick of incessantly 



172 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

opening and shutting her eyelids, the nasal tones of her voice, all 
repelled ; and I said to myself, We shall never get far. It is to 
be said that Margaret made a disagreeable first impression on 
most persons, including those who became afterward her best 
friends, to such an extreme that they did not wish to be in the 
same room with her. This was partly the effect of her manners, 
which expressed an overweening sense of power, and slight esteem 
of others ; and partly the prejudice of her fame. She had a dan 
gerous reputation for satire, in addition to her great scholarship. 
The men thought she carried too many guns, and the women did 
not like one who despised them. I believe I fancied her too much 
interested in personal history ; and her talk was a comedy, in 
which dramatic justice was done to everybody s foibles. I remem 
ber that she made me laugh more than I liked ; for I was, at that 
time, an eager scholar of ethics, and had tasted the sweets of soli 
tude and stoicism, and I found something profane in the hours of 
amusing gossip into which she drew me ; and, when I returned to 
my library, had much to think of the crackling of thorns under a 
pot." 

Her beloved and loving cousin, Rev. William H. Chan- 
ning, in his account of a visit he paid her, somewhat lat 
er, when she lived at Jamaica Plain, near Boston, in 1840, 
says : 

" As, leaning on one arm, she poured out her stream of thought, 
turning now and then her full eyes upon me to see whether I 
caught her meaning, there was leisure to study her thoroughly. 
Her temperament was predominantly what the physiologist would 
call nervous-sanguine ; and the gray eye, rich brown hair, and 
light complexion, with the muscular and well-developed frame, 
bespoke delicacy balanced by vigor. Here was a sensitive yet 
powerful being, fit at once for rapture or sustained effort, intensely 
active, prompt for adventure, firm for trial. She certainly had no 
beauty ; yet the high-arched dome of her head, the changeful 
expressiveness of every feature, and her whole air of mingled dig 
nity and impulse, gave her a commanding charm. Especially 
characteristic were two physical traits. The first was a contraction 
of the eyelids almost to a point, a trick caught from near-sight 
edness, and then a sudden dilation, till the iris seemed to 



MARGARET FULLER. 173 

emit flashes, an effect, no doubt, dependent on her highly 
magnetized condition. The second was a singular pliancy of the 
vertebra and muscles of the neck, enabling her, by a mere move 
ment, to denote each varying emotion ; in moments of tenderness, 
or pensive feeling, its curves were swan-like in grace ; but, when 
she was scornful or indignant, it contracted, and made swift turns, 
like that of a bird of prey. Finally, in the animation, yet abandon, 
of Margaret s attitude and look, were rarely blended the fiery 
course of northern, and the soft languor of southern races." 




Margaret Fuller. 

Such a woman could not live idly, especially in diligent, 
practical New England, even had she been shielded by for 
tune from the most obvious necessity for habitual industry. 
After the completion of her school-day education, and before 
undertaking the editorship of The Dial, she had taught classes 
of girls in her home, given two years to the conduct of a sem 
inary in Providence, E. I. (for which she was never paid), 
had translated (in 1839) Eckermann s "Conversations with 
Goethe," and in the autumn of this year she planned and an 
nounced her most unique enterprise, a series of con versa- 



174 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

tions (in Boston), for women only, wherein she was to take a 
leading part ; but every one who attended was required to 
contribute according to her ability, by written essay or spoken 
word, as should be suggested or found possible. The general 
object of these conferences, as declared in her programme, was 
to supply answers to these questions : " What were we born 
to do ? " and " How shall we do it ? " or (as I think she else 
where said), " to vindicate the right of Woman to think," by 
showing that she can think nobly and to good purpose ; but 
Life, Literature, Mythology, Art, Culture, Eeligion, were lib 
erally drawn upon for material and stimulus in the progress 
of this most arduous undertaking. 

But Margaret had higher qualifications for such a task than 
any other person that America had yet produced, being " the 
best talker since De Stael," as I once heard her characterized. 
And, as the ablest and most cultivated women in and around 
Boston were naturally attracted to her conversations, and in 
cited to take part in them, I doubt not that they were more 
interesting and profitable than any intellectual exercises which 
had preceded them ; and, while the attendance was necessarily 
limited, averaging less than fifty persons, there are still 
many living who gratefully recall them as the starting-point 
and incitement of a new and nobler existence. Yet an at 
tempt by Margaret to extend their advantages to men proved 
a failure ; and, even when repeated under the guidance of so 
eminent a conversationist as Mr. A. Bronson Alcott, I judge 
that no decided success was achieved. 

In 1839, she had visited, with a party of friends, what was 
then " the Great W^est " ; spending weeks in traversing the 
prairies of Illinois, as yet undeformed by fences and un vexed 
by the plough. Her observations and impressions, embodied 
in a volume entitled " Summer on the Lakes," evinced an un- 
American ripeness of culture, and a sympathetic enjoyment 
of Nature in her untamed luxuriance. But the alternating 
meadow and forest of that bounteous region in its primitive 
state evinced little of the rugged wildness of mountain or 
desert ; and she remarked that it seemed a reproduction, 



MARGARET FULLER. 175 

though on a gigantic scale, and without enclosures, of the 
great baronial domains and parks of Europe; so that the 
traveller was constantly looking for the castles and other evi 
dences of human occupation and enjoyment which, it seemed, 
must be just at hand. Half a century hence, Illinoians will 
read her book, and wonder if the region it vividly depicts and 
describes can indeed be identical with that which surrounds 
them. 

But the work by which she will be longest and widest 
known first appeared in The Dial (1843) as " The Great Law 
suit," and, when afterward expanded into a separate volume, 
was entitled, " Woman in the Nineteenth Century." If not 
the clearest and most logical, it was the loftiest and most 
commanding assertion yet made of the right of Woman to be 
regarded and treated as an independent, intelligent, rational 
being, entitled to an equal voice in framing and modifying 
the laws she is required to obey, and in controlling and dis 
posing of the property she has inherited or aided to acquire. 
Yet questions of. property, personal rights, guardianship of 
children, &c., are but incidental, not essential. She says : 

" It is the fault of MARRIAGE, and of the present relations be 
tween the sexes, that the woman belongs to the man, instead of 

forming a whole with him Woman, self-centred, would 

never be absorbed by any relation ; it would only be an experience 
to her, as to Man. It is a vulgar error, that love a love is to 
Woman her whole existence : she also is born for Truth and Love 
in their universal energy. Would she but assume her inheritance, 
Mary would not be the only virgin mother." 

If you say this is vague, mystical, unmeaning, I shall not 
contradict you ; I am not arguing that Woman s undoubted 
wrongs are to be redressed by the concession of what Mar 
garet, or any of her disciples, has claimed as Woman s in 
herent rights ; I only feel that hers is the ablest, bravest, 
broadest, assertion yet made of what are termed Woman s 
Eights ; and I suspect that the statement might lose in force 
by gaining in clearness. And, at all events, I am confident 
that there lives no man or woman who would not profit (if 



176 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

he or she has not already profited) by a thoughtful perusal of 
" Woman in the Nineteenth Century." 

My wife, having spent much time in and near Boston, had 
there made Margaret s acquaintance, attended her conversa 
tions, accepted her leading ideas ; and, desiring to enjoy her 
society more intimately and continuously, Mrs. G. planned 
and partly negotiated an arrangement whereby her monitor 
and friend became an inmate of our family and a writer for 
The Tribune. 



Up to the close of the Presidential canvass in 1844, I had 
lived thirteen years in New York, and never half a mile 
from the City Hall, usually within sixty rods of it. The 
newspaper business requiring close attention, and being wholly 
prosecuted " down town," it seemed, when I once ventured to 
live so far up as Broome Street, that I had strayed to an 
inconvenient distance from my work; but, when the great 
struggle was over, and I the worst beaten man on the conti 
nent, worn out by incessant anxiety and effort, covered with 
boils, and thoroughly used up, I took a long stride landward, 
removing to a spacious old wooden house, built as a country 
or summer residence by Isaac Lawrence, formerly President 
of the United States Branch Bank, but which, since his death, 
had been neglected, and suffered to decay. It was located on 
eight acres of ground, including a wooded ravine, or dell, on 
the East Paver, at Turtle Bay, nearly opposite the southern 
most point of Blackwell s Island, amid shade and fruit trees, 
abundant shrubbery, ample garden, &c. ; and, though now for 
years perforated by streets, and in good part covered by build 
ings, was then so secluded as to be only reached by a narrow, 
devious, private lane, exceedingly dark at night for one accus 
tomed to the glare of gas-lamps ; the nearest highway being 
the old " Boston Eoad " at Forty-ninth Street ; while an hourly 
stage on the Third Avenue, just beyond, afforded our readiest 
means of transit to and from the city proper. Accustomed to 
the rumble and roar of carriages, the stillness here at night 
seemed at first so sepulchral, unearthly, that I found difficulty 



MARGARET FULLER. 177 

in sleeping. Of the place itself, Margaret who became one 
of our household soon after we took possession wrote thus 
to a friend : 

" This place is, to me, entirely charming ; it is so completely in 
the country, and all around is so bold and free. It is two miles 
or more from the thickly settled parts of New York, but omnibuses 
and cars give me constant access to the city; and, while I can 
readily see what and whom I will, I can command time and retire 
ment. Stopping on the Harlem Road, you enter a lane nearly a 
quarter of a mile long, and, going by a small brook and pond that 
locks in the place, and ascending a slightly rising ground, get sight 
of the house, which, old-fashioned and of mellow tint, fronts on a 
flower-garden filled with shrubs, large vines, and trim box borders. 
On both .sides of the house are beautiful trees, standing fair, full- 
grown, and clear. Passing through a wide hall, you come out upon 
a piazza stretching the whole length of the house, where one can 
walk in all weathers ; and thence, by a step or two, on a lawn, 
with picturesque masses of rocks, shrubs, and trees, overlooking 
the East River. Gravel-paths lead, by several turns, down the 
steep bank to the water s edge, where, round the rocky point, a 
small bay curves, in which boats are lying ; and, owing to the cur 
rents and the set of the tide, the sails glide sidelong, seeming to 
greet the house as they sweep by. The beauty here, seen by 
moonlight, is truly transporting. I enjoy it greatly, and the genus 
loci receives me as to a home." 



"We have seen that the first impressions made by Margaret, 
even on those who soon learned to admire her most, were not 
favorable ; and it was decidedly so in my case. A sufferer 
myself, and at times scarcely able to ride to and from the 
office, I yet did a day s work each day, regardless of nerves or 
moods ; but she had no such capacity for incessant labor: If 
quantity only were considered, I could easily write ten columns 
to her one : indeed, she would only write at all when in the 
vein ; and her headaches and other infirmities often precluded 
all labor for days. Meantime, perhaps, the interest of the 
theme had evaporated, or the book to be reviewed had the 
12 



178 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

bloom brushed from its cheek by some rival journal. Attend 
ance and care were very needful to her ; she would evidently 
have been happier amid other and more abundant furniture 
than graced our dwelling ; and, while nothing was said, I felt 
that a richer and more generous diet than ours would have 
been more accordant with her tastes and wishes. Then I had 
a notion that strong-minded women should be above the 
weakness of fearing to go anywhere, at any time, alone, that 
the sex would have to emancipate itself from thraldom to 
etiquette and the need of a masculine arm in crossing a street 
or a room, before it could expect to fight its way to the bar, 
the bench, the jury-box, and the polls. Nor was I wholly 
exempt from i!he vulgar prejudice against female claimants of 
functions hitherto devolved only on men, as mistaking the 
source of their dissatisfaction. Her cousin, Channing, narrat 
ing a day s conversation with her in 1840, delicately says : 

" But the tragedy of Margaret s history was deeper yet. Behind 
the poet was the woman, the fond and relying, the heroic and 
disinterested woman. The very glow of her poetic enthusiasm was 
but an outflush of trustful affection ; the very restlessness of her 
intellect was the confession that her heart had found no home. 
A * book-worm, a dilettante, a pedant, I had heard her sneeringly 
called ; but now it was evident that her seeming insensibility was 
virgin pride, and her absorption in study the natural vent of emo 
tions which had met no object worthy of life-long attachment. 
At once, many of her peculiarities became intelligible. Fitfulness, 
unlooked-for changes of mood, misconceptions of words and actions, 
substitution of fancy for fact, which had annoyed me during the 
previous season, as inconsistent in a person of such capacious judg 
ment and sustained self-government, were now referred to the 
morbid influence of affections pent up to prey upon themselves." 

If / had attempted to say this, I should have somehow 
blundered out that, noble and great as she was, a good hus 
band and two or three bouncing babies would have emanci 
pated her from a deal of cant and nonsense. 

Yet I very soon noted, even before I was prepared to ratify 
their judgment, that the women who visited us to make or 



MARGARET FULLER. 179 

improve her acquaintance seemed instinctively to recognize 
and defer to -her as their superior in thought and culture. 
Some who were her seniors, and whose writings had achieved 
a far wider and more profitable popularity than hers, were 
eager to sit at her feet, and to listen to her casual utterances 
as to those of an oracle. Yet there was no assumption of 
precedence, no exaction of deference, on her part ; for, though 
somewhat stately and reserved in the presence of strangers, 
110 one "thawed out" more completely, or was more un 
starched and cordial in manner, when surrounded by her 
friends. Her magnetic sway over these was marvellous, un 
accountable : women who had known her but a day revealed 
to her the most jealously guarded secrets of their lives, seek 
ing her sympathy and counsel thereon, and were themselves 
annoyed at having done so when the magnetism of her pres 
ence was withdrawn. I judge that she was the repository of 
more confidences than any contemporary ; and I am sure no 
one had ever reason to regret the imprudent precipitancy of 
their trust. Nor were these revelations made by those only 
of her own plane of life, but chambermaids and seamstresses 
unburdened their souls to her, seeking and receiving her 
counsel ; while children found her a delightful playmate and 
a capital friend. My son Arthur (otherwise " Pickie "), who 
was but eight months old when she came to us, learned to 
walk and to talk in her society, and to love and admire her 
as few but nearest relatives are ever loved and admired by a 
child. For, as the elephant s trunk serves either to rend a 
limb from the oak or pick up a pin, so her wonderful range 
of capacities, of experiences, of sympathies, seemed adapted 
to every condition and phase of humanity. She had marvel 
ous powers of personation and mimicry, and, had she conde 
scended to appear before the foot-lights, would soon have been 
recognized as the first actress of the Nineteenth Century. For 
every effort to limit vice, ignorance, and misery she had a 
ready, eager ear, and a willing hand ; so that her charities 
large in proportion to her slender means were signally en 
hanced by the fitness and fulness of her wise and generous 



180 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

counsel, the readiness and emphasis with which she, publicly 
and privately, commended to those richer than herself any 
object deserving their alms. She had once attended, with 
other noble women, a gathering of outcasts of their sex ; and, 
being asked how they appeared to her, replied, " As women 
like myself, save that they are victims of wrong and misfor 
tune" No project of moral or social reform ever failed to 
command her generous, cheering benediction, even when she 
could not share the sanguine hopes of its authors : she trusted 
that these might somehow benefit the objects of their self- 
sacrifice, and felt confident that they must, at all events, be 
blest in their own moral natures. I doubt that our various 
benevolent and reformatory associations had ever before, or 
have ever since, received such wise, discriminating commenda 
tion to the favor of the rich, as they did from her pen during 
her connection with The Tribune. 

In closing her " Woman in the Nineteenth Century," not 
long before she came to New York, she had said : 

" I stand in the sunny noon of life. Objects no longer glitter 
in the dews of morning, neither are they yet softened by the 
shadows of evening. Every spot is seen, every chasm revealed. 
Climbing the dusty hill, some few effigies, that once stood for 
symbols of human destiny, have been broken ; those I still have 
with me show defects in this broad light. Yet enough is left, even 
by experience, to point distinctly to the glories of that destiny, 
faint, but not to be mistaken, streaks of the future day. I can say 
with the bard, 

Though many have suffered shipwreck, still beat noble hearts. " 

Though ten years had not passed since her first visit to Em 
erson, at Concord, so graphically narrated by him in a reminis 
cence wherefrom I have already quoted, care and suffering had 
meantime detracted much from the lightness of her step, the 
buoyancy of her spirits. If, in any of her varying moods, she 
was so gay-hearted and mirth-provoking as he there describes 
her, I never happened to be a witness ; but then I was never 
so intimate and admired a friend as he became at an early 



MARGARET FULLER. 181 

day, and remained to the last. Satirical she could still be, 
on great provocation ; but she rarely, and, I judge, reluctantly, 
gave evidence of her eminent power to rebuke assumption or 
meanness by caricaturing or intensifying their unconscious 
exhibition. She could be joyous, and even merry; but her 
usual manner, while with us, was one of grave thoughtfulness, 
absorption in noble deeds, and in paramount aspirations and 
efforts to leave some narrow corner of the world somewhat 
better than she had found it. 

I may have already spoken of her quick, earnest sympathy 
with humanity under all diversities of temporal condition, 
her easy penetration of the disguise which sometimes seeks 
to conceal the true king in the beggar s rags, and her profound 
appreciation of nobleness of soul, wherever and however mani 
fested. Here is an instance, from her newspaper article on 
" Woman in Poverty " : 

" The old woman was recommended as a laundress by my friend, 
who had long prized her. I was immediately struck with the dig 
nity and propriety of her manner. In the depth of Winter, she 
brought herself the heavy baskets through the slippery streets ; 
and, when I asked her why she did not employ some younger per 
son to do what was so entirely disproportioned to her strength, 
simply said, she lived alone, and could not afford to hire an 
errand-boy. * It was hard for her 1 ? * No ; she was fortunate in 
being able to get work, at her age, when others could do it better. 
Her friends were very good to procure it for her. Had she a 
comfortable home ? Tolerably so ; she should not need one 
long. Was that a thought of joy to her 1 * Yes ; for she hoped 
to see again the husband and children from whom she had long 
been separated. 

" Thus much in answer to the questions ; but, at other times, the 
little she said was on general topics. It was not from her that I 
learned how the great idea of Duty had held her upright through a 
life of incessant toil, sorrow, bereavement ; and that not only had 
she remained upright, but that her character had been constantly 
progressive. Her latest act had been to take home a poor sick girl 
who had no home of her own, and could not bear the idea of dying 
in an hospital, and maintain and nurse her through the last weeks 



182 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of her life. Her eyesight was failing, and she should not be able 
to work much longer; but, then, God would provide. Somebody 
ought to see to the poor motherless girl. 

" It was not merely the greatness of the act, for one in such cir 
cumstances, but the quiet, matter-of-course way in which it was 
done, that showed the habitual tone of the mind, and made us feel 
that life could hardly do more for a human being than to make 
him or her the somebody that is daily so deeply needed, to represent 
the right, to do the plain right thing. 

" God will provide. Yes, it is the poor who feel themselves 
near to the God of Love. Though He slay them, still do they 
trust Him. 

" I hope, said I, to a poor apple-woman, who had been drawn on 
to disclose a tale of distress that, almost in the mere hearing, made 
me weary of life, I hope I may yet see you in a happier con 
dition. 

" With God s help ! she replied, with a smile that a Raphael 
would have delighted to transfer to his canvas ; a Mozart, to strains 
of angelic sweetness. All her life she had seemed an outcast 
child ; still, she leaned upon a Father s love." 



In the summer of 1846, modifying, but not terminating, 
her connection with The Tribune, Margaret left New York 
for Boston, and, after a parting visit to her relatives and early 
friends, took passage thence (August 1) for Europe. As I 
last saw her on the steamboat that bore her hence, I might, 
perhaps, here bid her adieu. But my recollections of her do 
not cease with her departure ; and I feel that my many young 
readers, whose previous acquaintance with her was but a 
vague tradition, cannot choose that she be thus abruptly dis 
missed from these reminiscences, but will prefer to hear more 
of the most remarkable, and in some respects the greatest, 
woman whom America has yet known. I therefore devote 
some pages to her subsequent career ; only regretting that time 
and space do not serve to render that career ampler justice. 

Leaving in the company of admiring, devoted friends, who 
welcomed her to the intimacy of their family circle, and writ- 



MARGARET FULLER. 183 

ing to The Tribune whenever she (too seldom) found topics 
of interest that did not trench upon her deference to the sanc 
tities of social intercourse, she first traversed Great Britain ; 
meeting and conversing with Wordsworth, Joanna Baillie, De 
Quincey, Carlyle, Mazzini, Dr. Chalmers, the Howitts, and 
many other celebrities, most of whom have since passed 
away, thence crossing to France, where she met George 
Sand, Be*ranger, La Mennais, saw Eachel act, and listened to 
a lecture by Arago. The next Spring (1847), she, with her 
party, sped to Italy ; coasting to Naples, and thence returning 
leisurely to Eome, where Pius IX. had just been made Pope, 
and had signalized his accession by words of sympathy and 
cheer for the aspirations to freedom of down-trodden millions, 
which he has long since recanted, but they refuse to forget. 
Passing thence by Florence, Bologna, Eavenna, to Venice, 
she there parted with the friends who had thus far been her 
companions in travel, they crossing the Alps on their home 
ward way ; while she fully identified with the new-born 
hopes of Italy had decided to remain. After hastily visit 
ing Vicenza, Verona, Mantua, Brescia, Milan, the lakes Garda, 
Maggiore, and Como, and spending a few days in southern 
Switzerland, she returned, via Milan and Florence, to Eome, 
august " city of the soul," which she had chosen for her future 
home, and whence she wrote (December 20) to her friend 
Emerson : 

" I find how true was the hope that always drew me toward 
Europe. It was no false instinct that said I might here find an 
atmosphere to develop me in ways that I need. Had I only come 
ten years earlier! Now, my life must be a failure, so much 
strength has been wasted on abstractions, which only came because 
I grew not on the right soil." 

She was privately married, not long after her return to 
Eome, to Giovanni Angelo Ossoli, of a noble but impoverished 
Eoman family. Pie had caught the infection of liberal prin 
ciples from the air, or from her, his three brothers being, as 
he had been, in the Papal service, and so remaining after the 
Pope had disappointed the hopes excited by his first words and 



184 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

acts under the tiara. In the troublous times then imminent, 
it was deemed expedient to keep their marriage a close secret, 
as their only hope of securing their share of the patrimony of 
Ossoli s recently deceased father ; and she spent the ensuing 
Summer at the little mountain village of Eieti, where her son 
Angelo was born. Keturning before Winter to Eome, she 
became at once a trusted counsellor of Mazzini during the 
brief but glorious era of the Eepublic ; and, when the city 
was invested and besieged by a French army, she was ap 
pointed director of a hospital, and therein found a sphere of 
sad, but earnest and beneficent activity. While thus ab 
sorbed in the noblest efforts in behalf of Italy, of Freedom, 
and Humanity, she snatched time (May 6) to send me a 
letter descriptive of the situation, opening, trumpet-toned, as 
follows : 

" I write you from barricaded Rome. The mother of nations is 
now at bay against them all. 

" Rome was suffering before. 

" The misfortunes of other regions of Italy, the defeat at Novarra, 
preconcerted, in hope to strike the last blow at Italian inde 
pendence, the surrender and painful condition of Genoa ; the 
money difficulties, insuperable, unless the government could 
secure confidence abroad as well as at home, prevented her 
people from finding that foothold for which they were ready. The 
vacillations of France agitated them ; still, they could not seriously 
believe she would ever act the part she has. We must say France, 
because, though many honorable men have washed their hands of 
all share in the perfidy, the Assembly voted funds to sustain the 
expedition to Civita Yecchia, and the nation, the army, have re 
mained quiescent." 

This letter closed as follows : 

" The Americans here are not in a pleasant situation. Mr. Cass, 
the Charg6 of the United States, stays here without recognizing 
the government. Of course, he holds no position at the present 
moment that can enable him to act for us. Besides, it gives us 
pain that our country, whose policy it justly is to avoid physical 
interference with the affairs of Europe, should not use a moral 



MARGARET FULLER. 185 

influence. Rome has as we did thrown off a government no 
longer tolerable ; she had made use of the suffrage to form another ; 
she stands on the same basis as ourselves. Mr. Rush did us great 
honor by his ready recognition of a principle, as represented by 
the French Provisional Government ; had Mr. Cass been em 
powered to do the same, our country would have acted nobly, and 
all that is most truly American in America would have spoken 
to sustain the sickened hopes of European Democracy. But of 
this more when I write next. Who knows what I may have to 
tell another week 1 " 

She soon afterward wrote (June 6) to another friend as 
follows : 

"On Sunday, from our loggia, I witnessed a terrible, a real 
battle. It began at four in the morning : it lasted to the last 
gleam of light. The musket-fire was almost unintermitted ; the 
roll of the cannon, especially from St. Angelo, most majestic. As 
all passed at Porta San Pancrazio and Villa Pamfili, I saw the 
smoke of every discharge, the flash of the bayonets ; with a glass, 
could see the men. The French could not use their heavy cannon, 

being always driven away by the legions of Garibaldi and , 

when trying to find positions for them. The loss on our side is 
about three hundred killed and wounded ; theirs must be much 
greater. In one casino have been found seventy dead bodies of 

theirs The cannonade on our side has continued day and 

night (being full moon) till this morning ; they seeking to advance 
or take other positions, the Romans firing on them. The French 
throw rockets into the town ; one burst in the court-yard of the 
hospital just as I arrived there yesterday, agitating the poor suf 
ferers very much ; they said they did not want to die like mice in 
a trap." 

She writes, five days later, to her friend Emerson as 
follows : 

" I received your letter amid the sound of cannonade and mus 
ketry. It was a terrible battle, fought here from the first till the 
last light of day. I could see all its progress from my balcony. 
The Italians fought like lions. It is a truly heroic spirit that 
animates them. They make a stand here for honor and their 
rights, with little ground for hope that they can resist, now they 
are betrayed by France. 



186 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

^ Since the 30th April, I go almost daily to the hospitals ; and 
though I have suffered, for I had no idea before how terrible 
gunshot wounds and wound-fever are, yet I have taken pleasure, 
and great pleasure, in being with the men ; there is scarcely one 
who is not moved by a noble spirit. Many, especially among the 
Lombards, are the flower of the Italian youth. When they begin 
to get better, I carry them books and flowers ; they read, and we 
talk. 

" The palace of the Pope, on the Quirinal, is now used for con 
valescents. In those beautiful gardens, I walk with them, one 
with his sling, another with his crutch. The gardener plays off 
all his water-works for the defenders of the country, and gathers 
flowers for me, their friend. 

" I feel profoundly for Mazzini ; at moments, I am tempted to 
say, Cursed with every granted prayer, so cunning is the 
demon. He is becoming the inspiring soul of his people. He 
saw Rome, to which all his hopes through life tended, for the first 
time as a Roman citizen, and to become in a few days its ruler. 
He has animated, he sustains her to a glorious effort, which, if it 
fails this time, will not in the age. His country will be free. Yet 
to me it would be so dreadful to cause all the bloodshed, to dig the 
graves of such martyrs. 

" Then Rome is being destroyed ; her glorious oaks ; her villas, 
haunts of sacred beauty, that seemed the possession of the world 
forever, the villa of Raphael, the villa of Albani, home of Win- 
kelmann, and the best expression of the ideal of modern Rome, 
and so many other sanctuaries of beauty, all must perish, lest 
a foe should level his musket from their shelter. / could not, 
could not ! 

" I know not, dear friend, whether I shall ever get home across 
that great ocean ; but here in Rome I shall no longer wish to live. 

Rome, my country ! could I imagine that the triumph of what 

1 held dear was to heap such desolation on thy head ! 

" Speaking of the Republic you say, Do not I wish Italy had 
a great man ] Mazzini is a great man. In mind, a great poetic 
statesman ; in heart, a lover ; in action, decisive, and full of re 
sources as Csesar. Dearly I love Mazzini. He came in just as I 
had finished the first letter to you. His soft, radiant look makes 
melancholy music in my soul ; it consecrates my present life, that, 



MARGARET FULLER. 187 

like the Magdalen, I may, at the important hour, shed all the 
consecrated ointment on his head. There is one, Mazzini, who 
understands thee well ; who knew thee no less when an object of 
popular fear, than now of idolatry; and who, if the pen be not 
held too feebly, will help posterity to know thee too." 

Her friend, Mrs. William W. Story, an eyewitness, writes 
of her in those heroic days as follows : 

" Night and day, Margaret was occupied, and, with the Princess 
[Belgiojoso], so ordered and disposed the hospitals, that their con 
duct was truly admirable. All the work was skilfully divided, so 
that there was no confusion or hurry ; and, from the chaotic con 
dition in which these places had been left by the priests, who 
previously had charge of them, they brought them to a state of 
perfect regularity and discipline. Of money they had very little ; 
and they were obliged to give their time and thoughts in its place. 
From the Americans in Rome they raised a subscription for the 
aid of the wounded of either party; but beside this they had 
scarcely any means to use. I have walked through the wards 
with Margaret, and saw how comforting was her presence to the 
poor suffering men. How long w r ill Signora stay ? When will 
the Signora come again T they eagerly asked. For each one s 
peculiar tastes she had a care : to one, she carried books ; to 
another, she told the news of the day ; and listened to another s 
oft-repeated tale of wrongs, as the best sympathy she could give. 
They raised themselves up on their elbows, to get the last glimpse 
of her as she was going away. There were some of the sturdy 
fellows of Garibaldi s Legion there ; and to them she listened, as 
they spoke with delight of their chief, of his courage and skill ; for 
he seemed to have won the hearts of his men in a remarkable 



Of course, this most unequal struggle could have but one 
result. Eome, gallantly defended by the badly armed, ill-sup 
plied, motley host of volunteers, who had gathered from all Italy 
to uphold the flag of the Eepublic, at last fell : the superiority 
of the French in numbers, in discipline, and in every resource, 
being too decided to leave room for hope. Margaret had 
accompanied her husband to the battery in front of the enemy, 



188 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

where his company was stationed on the last evening of the 
siege ; but the cannonade was not renewed, and next morning 
the city surrendered. Husband and wife hastened directly 
to Eieti, where their child had been left at nurse through the 
storm ; and whence she wrote her mother, saying : 

" DEAREST MOTHER : I received your letter a few hours before 
reaching Rome. Like all of yours, it refreshed me, and gave me 
as much satisfaction as anything could at that sad time. Its 
spirit is of eternity, and befits an epoch when wickedness and 
perfidy so impudently triumph, and the best blood of the generous 
and honorable is poured out like water, seemingly in vain. 

" I cannot tell you what I suffered to abandon the wounded to 
the care of their mean foes ; to see the young men that were faith 
ful to their vows hunted from their homes, hunted like wild 
beasts, denied a refuge in every civilized land. Many of those 
I loved sunk to the bottom of the sea by Austrian cannon, or will 
be shot ; others are in penury, grief, and exile. May God give due 
recompense for all that has been endured ! 

" My mind still agitated, and my spirits worn out, I have not 
felt like writing to any one. Yet the magnificent Summer does 
not smile quite in vain for me. Much exercise in the open air, 
living much on milk and fruit, have recruited my health ; and I 
am regaining the habit of sleep, which a month of nightly can 
nonade in Rome had destroyed. 

" Receiving, a few days since, a packet of letters from America, 
I opened them with more feeling of hope and good cheer than for 
a long time past. The first words that met my eye were these, in 
the hand of Mr. Greeley : Ah, Margaret ! the world grows dark 
with us ! You grieve, for Rome is fallen ; / mourn, for Pickie is 
dead. 

" I have shed rivers of tears over the inexpressibly affecting 
letter thus begun. One would think I might have become fa 
miliar enough with images of death and destruction ; yet, some 
how, the image of Pickie s little dancing figure lying stiff and 
stark, between his parents, has made me weep more than all else. 
There was little hope he could do justice to himself, or lead a 
happy life, in so perplexed a world ; but never was a character of 
richer capacity, never a more charming child. To me, he was 



MARGARET FULLER. 189 

most dear, and would always have been so. Had he become stained 
with earthly faults, I could never have forgotten what he was 
when fresh from the soul s home, and what he was to me when my 
soul pined for sympathy, pure and unalloyed. The three children 
I have seen who were fairest in my eyes, and gave most promise 
of the future, were Waldo [Emerson], Pickie, Hermann Clarke ; 
all nipped in the bud. Endless thought has this given me, and a 
resolve to seek the realization of all hopes and plans elsewhere ; 
which resolve will weigh with me as much as it can weigh before 
the silver cord is finally loosed. Till then, Earth, our mother, 
always finds strange, unexpected ways to draw us back to her 
bosom, to make us seek anew a nutriment which has never 
failed to cause us frequent sickness." 

Having somewhat regained her health and calmness at 
Bieti, she journeyed thence, with her husband and child, by 
Perugia to Florence, where they were welcomed and cheered 
by the love and admiration of the little American colony, and 
by the few British liberals residing there, the Brownings 
prominent among them. Here they spent the ensuing Winter, 
and Margaret wrote her survey of the grand movement for 
Italian liberty and unity, which had miscarried for the 
moment, but which was still cherished in millions of noble 
hearts. With the ensuing Spring came urgent messages from 
her native land, awaking, or rather strengthening, her natural 
longing to greet once more the dear ones from whom she had 
now been four years parted; and on the 17th of May, 1850, 
they embarked in the bark Elizabeth, Captain Hasty, at Leg 
horn, for New York, which they hoped to reach within sixty 
days at farthest. 

Margaret s correspondence for the preceding month is dark 
ened with apprehensions and sinister forebodings, which were 
destined to be fearfully justified. First : Captain Hasty was 
prostrated, when a few days on his voyage, by what proved 
to be confluent small-pox, whereof he died, despite his wife s 
tenderest care, and his body was consigned to the deep. Then 
Angelo, Margaret s child, was attacked by the terrible disease, 
and his life barely saved, after he had for days been utterly 



190 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

blind, and his recovery seemed hopeless. So, after a week s 
detention by head winds at Gibralter, they fared on, under 
the mate s guidance, until, at noon of July 15, in a thick fog, 
with a southeast breeze, they reckoned themselves off the 
Jersey coast, and headed northeast for the bay of New York, 
which they expected to enter next morning. But the evening 
brought a gale, which steadily increased to a tempest, before 
which, though under close-reefed sails, they were driven with 
a rapidity of which they were unconscious, until, about four 
o clock the next morning, the Elizabeth struck heavily on 
Tire Island Beach, off the south coast of Long Island, and her 
prow was driven harder and farther into the sand, while her 
freight of marble broke through her keel, and her stern was 
gradually hove around by the terrible waves, until she lay 
broadside to their thundering, sweep, her deck being careened 
toward the land, the sea making a clear sweep over her at 
every swell. The masts had been promptly cut away; but 
the ship was already lost, and her inmates could only hope 
to save their own lives. Making their way with great diffi 
culty to the forecastle, they remained there, amid the war of 
elements, until 9 A. M., when, as the wreck was evidently 
about to break up, they resolved to attempt the perilous pas 
sage to the desolate sand-hills which were plainly visible at a 
distance of a few hundred feet ; and, venturing upon a plank, 
Mrs. Hasty, aided by a seaman named Davis, reached the shore. 
But Margaret and her husband refused to be saved separately, 
or without their child ; and the crew were directed to save 
themselves, which most of them did. Still, some remained on 
the wreck, and were persuading the passengers to trust them 
selves to planks, when, at 3 P. M., a great sea struck the fore 
castle, carrying away the foremast, together with the deck 
and all upon it. Two of the crew saved themselves by swim 
ming ; the steward, with little Angelo in his arms, both dead, 
was washed ashore twenty minutes later; but of Margaret 
and her husband nothing was evermore seen. 

Just before setting out on this fateful voyage, she had written 
apprehensively to a friend at home : 



MARGARET FULLER. 191 

" I shall embark more composedly in our merchant-ship ; pray 
ing fervently, indeed, that it may not be my lot to lose my boy at 
sea, either by unsolaced illness, or amid howling waves ; or, if so, 
that Ossoli, Angelo, and I may go together, and that the anguish 
may be brief." 

So passed away the loftiest, bravest soul that has yet irra 
diated the form of an American woman. 



IN MEMORY 

OF THE 

MARTYRS TO HUMAN LIBERTY, 

WHO FELL 

DURING THE SIEGE OF MAY AND JUNE, 1849, 

AS 

DEFENDERS OF ROME; 

STERNLY STRUGGLING 
AGAINST OVERWHELMING NUMBERS, AGAINST AMPLE MUNITIONS, 

AGAINST FATE: 

THEIR HIGHEST HOPE THAT IN THEM, LIVING OR DEAD, THE 
SACRED CAUSE SHOULD NOT BE DISHONORED: 

THEIR PROUDEST WISH 

THAT FREEDOM S CHAMPIONS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 
MIGHT RECOGNIZE THEM AS BRETHREN, 

NOBLY DYING 

THAT SURVIVING MILLIONS MAY DULY ABHOR TYRANNY AND LOVE LIBERTY 

CLOSING THEIR EYES SERENELY, 

IN THE GENEROUS -FAITH THAT RIGHTS FOR ALL, DOMINION FOR NONE, 
WILL SOON REVIVIFY THE EARTH BAPTIZED IN THEIR BLOOD. 

STAY, HEEDLESS WANDERER ! 
DEFILE NOT WITH LISTLESS STEP THE ASHES OF HEROES ! 

BUT, 

ON THE RELICS OF THESE MARTYRS, SWEAR A DEEPER AND STERNER 
HATE TO EVERY FORM OF OPPRESSION : 

HERE LEARN TO FEEL 

A DEARER LOVE FOR ALL WHO STRIVE FOR LIBERTY : 

HERE BREATHE A PRAYER 

FOR THE SPEEDY TRIUMPH OF RIGHT OVER MIGHT, LIGHT OVER NIGHT ; 

AND FOR ROME S FALLEN DEFENDERS, 

THAT THE GOD OF THE OPPRESSED AND AFFLICTED MAY HAVE 
THEM IN HIS HOLY KEEPING. 



" They never fail who die 

In a great cause ; the block may soak their gore ; 
Their heads may sodden in the sun ; their limbs 
Be strung to city gates and castle walls, 
But still their spirit walks abroad." 

BYRON, Marino Faliero, Act II. Scene 2. 



XXIII. 

BEG-G-ARS AND BORROWERS. 

NEW YOEK is the metropolis of beggary. The wrecks 
of incapacity, miseducation, prodigality, and profligacy 
drift hither from either continent, and are finally stranded on 
our shore. Has a pretentious family in Europe a member 
who is felt as a burden or loathed as a disgrace ? money is 
somehow scraped together to ship him off to New York ; tak 
ing good care that there be not enough to enable him to ship 
himself back again. Does a family collapse anywhere in the 
interior or along the coast of our country, leaving a helpless 
widow and fatherless children to struggle with difficulties 
utterly unexpected and unprepared for ? though too proud to 
work, or even beg, where they are known, they are ready 
enough to try their fortune and hide their fall in this great 
emporium, where they would gladly do if they could get 
it the very work which they reject as degrading in the 
home of their by-gone prosperity and consequence. Though 
living is here most expensive, and only eminent skill or effi 
ciency can justify migration hither on the part of any but 
single young men, yet mechanics and laborers of very mod 
erate ability, and even widows with small children, hie hither, 
in reckless defiance of the fact that myriads have done so 
before them, at least nineteen-twentieth s of them only to 
plunge thereby into deeper, more squalid, hopeless misery 
than they had previously known. Want is a hard master 
anywhere ; but nowhere else are the sufferings, the woes, the 
desperation, of utter need so trying as in a great city ; and 
they are preeminently so in this city ; because the multi- 



BEGGARS AND BORROWERS. 193 

plicity of the destitute benumbs the heart of charity and 
precludes attention to any one s wants, while each is ab 
sorbed in his own cares and efforts to such extent that he 
knows nothing of the neighbors who may be starving to 
death, with barely a brick wall between him and them. 

The beggars of New York comprise but a small proportion 
of its sufferers from want ; yet they are at once very numerous 
and remarkably impudent. One who would accept a franc 
in Paris, or a shilling in London, with grateful acknowledg 
ments, considers himself ill-used and insulted if you offer 
him less than a dollar in New York. With thousands, beg 
gary is a profession, whereof the rudiments were acquired in 
the Old World ; but experience and observation have qualified 
them to pursue it with veteran proficiency and success in the 
New. Even our native beggars have a boldness of aspiration, 
an audacity of conception, such as the magnificent proportions 
of our lakes and valleys, our mountains and prairies, are 
calculated to inspire. I doubt that an Asiatic or European 
beggar ever frankly avowed his intent to beg the purchase- 
money of a good farm, though some may have invested their 
gains thus laudably ; but I have been solicited by more than 
one American, who had visited this city from points hundreds 
of miles distant, expressly and avowedly to beg the means of 
buying a homestead. I wish I were certain that none of these 
had more success with others than with me. 

Begging for churches, for seminaries, for libraries, has been 
one of our most crying nuisances. If there be two hundred 
negro families living in a city, they will get up a Baptist, 
a Methodist, and perhaps an Episcopal or Congregational 
Church ; and, being generally poor, they will undertake to 
build for each a meeting-house, and support a clergyman, 
in good part, of course, by begging, often in distant cities. 
A dozen boys attending a seminary will form a library asso 
ciation, or debating club, and then levy on mankind in gen 
eral for the books they would like to possess. Thus, in addi 
tion to our resident mendicancy, New York is made the 
cruising-ground, the harvest-field, of the high-soaring beggary 

13 



194 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of a whole continent ; while our princely merchants, at some 
seasons, are waited upon by more solicitors of contributions 
than purchasers of goods. Hence, our rich men generally 
court and secure a reputation for meanness, which may or 
may not be deserved in a particular instance, but which, in 
any case, is indispensable as a protection, like the shell of 
a tortoise. Were they reputed benevolent and free-handed, 
they would never be allowed time to attend to their business, 
and could not enjoy an hour s peace in the bosom of their 
respective families. 

The chronic beggars are a bad lot ; but the systematic bor 
rowers are far worse. What you give is gone, and soon for 
gotten, there is the end of it. It is presumable that you 
can spare, or you would have withheld it. But you lend (in 
your greener days) with some expectation of being repaid ; 
hence, disappointment and serious loss, sometimes, even 
disgrace, because of your abused faith in human nature. 
I presume no year passes wherein the solvent business men 
of this city lose so little as Ten Millions of Dollars borrowed 
of them, for a few hours or days, as a momentary accommoda 
tion, by neighbors and acquaintances, who would resent a 
suggested doubt of its punctual repayment ; yet who never 
do repay it. I am confident that good houses have been 
reduced to bankruptcy, by these most irregular and improvi 
dent loans. 

Worse still is the habit of borrowing and lending among 
clerks and young mechanics. A part of these are provident, 
thrifty, frugal, and so save money ; another, and much larger 
class, prefer to " live as they go," and are constantly spending 
in drink and other dissipation that portion of their earnings 
which they should save. When I was a journeyman, I knew 
several who earned more than I did, but who were always 
behind with their board. Men of this class are continually 
borrowing five dollars or ten dollars of their frugal acquaint 
ances to invest in a ball, a sleigh-ride, an excursion, a frolic ; 
and a large proportion of these loans are never repaid. Mil 
lions of dollars, in the aggregate, are thus transferred from 



BEGGARS AND BORROWERS. 195 

the pockets of the frugal to those of the prodigal ; depriving 
the former of means they are sure to need when they come 
to furnish a house or undertake a business, and doing the lat 
ter no good, but rather confirming them in their evil ways. 
Such lending should be systematically discountenanced and 
refused. 

I hate to say anything that seems calculated to steel others 
against the prayers of the unfortunate and necessitous ; yet 
an extensive, protracted experience has led me to the conclu 
sion that nine tenths of those who solicit loans of strangers 
or casual acquaintances are thriftless vagabonds, who will 
never be better off than at present, or scoundrels, who would 
not pay if they were able. In hundreds of cases, I have been 
importuned to lend from one dollar up to ten dollars, to help a 
stranger who had come to the city on some errand or other, had 
here fallen among thieves (who are far more abundant here 
than they ever were on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho), 
been made drunk, and plundered of his last cent, and who 
asked only enough to take him home, when the money would 
be surely and promptly returned. Sometimes, I have lent 
the sum required ; in other cases, I have refused it ; but I 
cannot remember a single instance in which the promise to 
repay was made good. I recollect a case wherein a capable, 
intelligent New-England mechanic, on his way from an East 
ern city to work two hundred miles up the Erie Eailroad, 
borrowed of me the means of saving his children from famine 
on the way, promising to pay it out of his first month s 
wages; which he took care never to do. This case differs 
from many others only in that the swindler was clearly of a 
better class than that from which the great army of borrowers 
is so steadily and bounteously recruited. 

In one instance, a young man came with the usual request, 
and was asked to state his case. " I am a clerk from New 
Hampshire," he began, " and have been for three years em 
ployed in Georgia. At length, a severe sickness prostrated 
me ; I lost my place ; my money was exhausted ; and here 
am I, with my wife, without a cent ; and I want to borrow 



196 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

enough to take me home to my father s house, when I will 
surely repay it." " Stranger," was the response, " you evi 
dently cannot stay here, and I must help you get away ; but 
why say anything about paying me ? You know, and / 
know, you will never pay a cent." My visitor protested 
and remonstrated ; but I convinced, if I did not convert, him. 
"Don t you see," I rejoined, "that you cannot have been 
three years a clerk in a leading mercantile house in Georgia 
without making the acquaintance of merchants doing busi 
ness in this city ? Now, if you were a person likely to pay, 
you would apply to, and obtain help from, those merchants 
whom you know; not ask help of me, an utter stranger." 
He did not admit the force of my demonstration ; but of 
course the sequel proved it correct. 

I consider it all but an axiom, that he who asks a stranger 
to lend him money will never pay it ; yet I have known an 
exception. Once, when I was exceedingly poor and needy, 
in a season of commercial revulsion or " panic," I opened a 
letter from Utica, and found therein five dollars, which the 
writer asked me to receive in satisfaction of a loan of that 
sum which I had made him a needy stranger on an oc 
casion which he recalled to my remembrance. Perplexed by 
so unusual a message, and especially by receiving it at such 
a time, when every one was seeking to borrow, no one 
condescending to pay, I scanned the letter more closely, 
and at length achieved a solution of the problem. The writer 
was a patient in the State lunatic asylum. 

A gushing youth once wrote me to this effect : 

" DEAR SIR : Among your literary treasures, you have doubt 
less preserved several autographs of our country s late lamented 
poet, Edgar A. Poe. If so, and you can spare one, please enclose 
it to me, and receive the thanks of yours truly." 

I promptly responded, as follows : 

" DEAR SIR : Among my literary treasures, there happens to be 
exactly one autograph of our country s late lamented poet, Edgar 
A. Poe. It is his note of hand for fifty dollars, with my indorse- 



BEGGARS AND BORROWERS. 197 

ment across the back. It cost me exactly $50.75 (including pro 
test), and you may have it for half that amount. Yours, respect 
fully." 

That autograph, I regret to say, remains on my hands, and 
is still for sale at first cost, despite the lapse of time, and the 
depreciation of our currency. 

I once received a letter from an utter stranger, living two 
hundred miles away, asking me to lend him a large sum on a 
mortgage of his farm, and closing thus : 

"P. S. My religious views are radically antagonist to yours ; 
but I know no member of my own church of whom I would so 
readily, and with such confidence, ask such a favor, as of you." 

This postscript impelled me, instead of dropping the letter 
quietly into the waste-basket, as usual, and turning to the 
next business in order, to answer him as follows : 

" SIR : I have neither the money you ask for, nor the inclina 
tion to lend it on the security you proffer. And your P. S. 
prompts the suggestion that, whenever / shall be moved to seek 
favors of the members of some other church, rather than of that to 
which I have hitherto adhered, I shall make haste to join that 
other church." 

I trust I have here said nothing calculated to stay the 
hand or chill the spirit of heaven-born Charity. The world 
is full of needy, suffering ones, who richly deserve compas 
sion ; not to speak of the vagrants, who, though undeserving, 
must not be allowed to starve or freeze. I was struck with 
the response of a man last from St. Louis, who recently in 
sisted on being helped on to Boston, which he said was his 
early home, and to whom I roughly made answer, " You 
need not pretend to me that the universe is bankrupt : I 
know better, know that a man of your natural abilities, if 
he only behaved himself, need not be reduced to beggary." 
" Well, sir," he quickly rejoined, " I don t pretend that I have 
always done the right thing, if I did, you would know bet 
ter, all I say is, that I am hungry and penniless, and that, 
if I can only get back to Boston, I can there make a living. 



198 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

That s my whole story." I felt that he had the better reason 
on his side. 

There must, there will, be heavy drafts made on the sym 
pathies and the means of all who can and will give, especially 
during a hard, dull Winter or a " panic." Every prosperous 
man should ask himself, " How much can I afford to give ? " 
and should set apart from a tenth to a third of his income for 
the relief of the needy and suffering. Then he should search 
out the most effective channels through which to reach those 
whose privations are greatest, and on whom private alms can 
be wisely and usefully expended. There are thousands who 
ought to go to the Almshouse at once, who will be more 
easily supported there than elsewhere, and it is no charity 
to squander your means on these. A great majority of the 
destitute can be far better dealt with by associations than by 
individuals ; and of good associations for philanthropic pur 
poses there is happily no lack in any great city. There re 
mains a scanty residuum of cases wherein money or food 
must be given at once, by whomsoever happens to be nearest 
to the sufferer ; but two thirds of those who beg from door to 
door, or who write begging letters, are the very last persons 
who ought to be given even a shinplaster dime. And, as a 
general rule, the importunity of a beggar is in inverse ratio to 
his deserving, or even to his need. 

" Then you condemn borrowing and lending entirely ? " 
No, I do not. Many a man knows how to use, wisely and 
beneficently, means that he does not, while others do, possess : 
lending to such, under proper safeguards, is most commend 
able. Many a young farmer, who, by working for others, has 
earned one thousand dollars, and saved a good part of it, is 
now prepared to work a farm of his own. He who lends 
such a youth from one thousand to two thousand dollars, 
wherewith to purchase a farm, taking a mortgage thereon for 
the amount, and leaving to the young farmer his own well- 
earned means wherewith to buy stock and seed, provisions 
and implements, will often enable him to work his way into 
a modest independence, surrounded and blessed by a wife and 



BEGGARS AND BORROWERS. 199 

children, himself a useful member of society, and a true 
pillar of the State, when he must, but for that loan, have 
remained years longer single and a hireling. So, a young 
mechanic may often be wisely and safely aided to establish 
himself in business by a timely and well-secured loan ; but 
this should never be accorded him till, by years of patient, 
frugal industry, he has qualified himself for mastery, and 
proved himself worthy of trust. (Of traders, there will always 
be too many, though none should ever be able to borrow a 
dollar.) But improvident borrowing and lending are among 
our most prevalent and baneful errors ; and I would gladly 
conduce to their reformation. 

I hold that it may sometimes be a duty to lend ; and yet 
I judge that at least nine of eveiy ten loans to the needy 
result in loss to the lender, with no substantial benefit to the 
borrower. That the poor often suffer from poverty, I know ; 
but oftener from lack of capacity, skill, management, efficiency, 
than lack of money. Here is an empty-handed youth who 
wants much, and must have it ; but, after the satisfaction of 
his most urgent needs, he wants, above all things, ability to 
earn money and take good care of it. He thinks his first 
want is a loan ; but that is a great mistake. He is far more 
certain to set resolutely to work without than with that pleas 
ant but baneful accommodation. Make up a square issue, 
" Work or starve ! " - and he is quite likely to choose work ; 
while, provided he can borrow, he is more likely to dip into 
some sort of speculation or traffic. That he thus almost in 
evitably fools away his borrowed money concerns only the 
unwise lender ; that he is thereby confirmed in his aversion 
to work, and squanders precious time that should fit him for 
decided usefulness, is of wider and greater consequence. The 
widow, the orphan, the cripple, the invalid, often need alms, 
and should have them; but to the innumerable hosts of 
needy, would-be borrowers the best response is Nature s, 
"Boot, hog, or die!" 



XXIV. 

DRAMATIC MEMORIES. 

I KNOW not that the instinctive yearning of human beings 
for dramatic representations, and the delight with which 
these are witnessed, alike by cit and savage, may not be a 
dictate of Man s innate and utter depravity, inspired by the 
great author of evil ; yet I bear unhesitating testimony to its 
existence. It is very nearly half a century since my father, 
lying on a sick-bed, and supposed to be asleep, was intensely 
amused, as I afterward heard him relate, by witnessing the 
gambols of his three younger children, all between eight 
and three years old, who rudely recast into a dramatic form 
the nonsensical old song of " A frog he would a-wooing go," 
and enacted it each personating one of the animals men 
tioned therein for their own mutual delectation ; supposing 
that no one else was cognizant of the performance. I have 
no reason to suppose that one of them had ever heard of a 
theatre or play prior to that unique effort. 

Four or five years later, after we had migrated to Vermont, 
what was called an " exhibition " that is, a play was set 
on foot in our Westhaven school district, prompted by the 
master, and I was allotted a part therein. The drama was 
entitled, I think, " The Fall of Bonaparte," and was intensely 
saturated with detestation of the great but fallen Corsican, 
who, I believe, was still living, though in reduced circum 
stances. I recollect that my part was that of either General 
or Captain Lescourt (both were in the play, and I have for 
gotten which was mine) ; I only recollect that it was as full 
of execration of the destroyer of French liberty, the betrayer 



DRAMATIC MEMORIES. 201 

of the hopes of the untitled millions, as even / could wish to 
utter. I recollect that we had several recitations, and that 
the play nearly spoiled our studies for that Winter; but I 
cannot be certain of the consummation. I believe our play 
was played badly, of course; for the performers did not 
average twelve years old, and not one of them had ever seen 
a drama really enacted. If any one asserts from knowledge 
that that long-expected and intently prepared-for " exhibition" 
failed, for some reason, to come off, I shall not contradict 
him, though my impression is different. 

More years passed ; and at length, while an apprentice at 
Poultney, an "exhibition" was advertised to come off one 
evening in the church at Wells, six miles south of us : so a 
party was made up to attend it, I being one of that party. 
Wells had rather a hard reputation in those days (perhaps 
from the ill behavior of those who went thither from neigh 
boring towns to " carry on " ) ; which fame, I trust, it has since 
outgrown. It was late in Winter, with deep snow, but thaw 
ing ; so that, to protect us from the balls of ice and snow con 
stantly thrown at us from our horse s feet, a long board had 
been set up on edge across the front of our rude sleigh, or, 
rather, sled ; and this, in passing a point of rock which pro 
jected into the narrow road through the forest which skirted 
" Lake St. Austin " (otherwise Wells Pond), was caught and 
held; so as to rake the sled clear of its human freight. I 
received a hurt on my right shin which remained unhealed 
for years. But no one complained, all laughed ; and we were 
soon all on board and in motion again ; reaching Wells in good 
time for the "exhibition." The church was crowded with 
eager, and not very critical, auditors ; the players were con 
siderably older than we of Westhaven were at the date of our 
maiden effort ; and I presume the playing was better, mainly 
because it could not easily be worse. There were several 
pieces (most of them literally so) on the bills, and all were 
duly undergone ; yet even their names have escaped me. 
One peculiarity remains firmly imbedded in my memory. 
There was a scene in one of the plays wherein a man snugly 



202 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

hidden amid the thick branches of an evergreen tree overhears 
a plot to commit robbery, and perhaps murder also. Where 
upon he bides his time, and duly precipitates himself on the 
robber (or robbers) in the very act, putting him (or them) to 
death or flight, and gallantly rescuing the intended victim. 
Well : here is where the laugh comes in : The tree a sub 
stantial pine or hemlock, some eight inches through, and 
twenty feet high had been firmly implanted in the stage 
before the " exhibition " began ; and there it remained to the 
end, forming a noticeable, but not very congruous, portion 
of the furniture of every parlor, boudoir, prison-cell, court 
room, &c., &c., from first to last. If city audiences were less 
fastidious, I suspect that managers might have learned how 
to retrench their expenses for furniture, fixtures, scenery, 
attendants, &c., by studying that Wells " exhibition." 

Unluckily, some of my companions on that excursion were 
of the " won t go home till morning " stamp, and could not 
see w r hy any one should go to Wells unless to have a " high 
old time." They controlled the team, and would neither set 
it on the road to Poultney, nor permit the rest of us to do so, 
until late the next day, Meantime, they would neither sleep 
nor tolerate slumber on the part of any one else. The per 
formances of the latter half of the night were a little wilder 
and rougher than any I was ever before or since implicated 
in, however innocently, and Wells was nowise to blame there 
for. I never saw that respected village save during that 
single visit ; and I sincerely trust that my reputation there 
is not based on the average conduct of my party on that ex 
ceptionally boisterous occasion. It was never before nor 
since so hard for me to work as during the afternoon and 
evening following our return to Poultney. 

More years passed ; I had migrated to this city ; and, in 
December, 1831, I was first a spectator of a genuine dramatic 
performance. The place was the Old Bowery ; the play was 
AVilliam Tell ; the hero s son was personated by a Miss Mes- 
tayer, then in her early teens, and still, I think, on the stage, 
though I have not seen her these many years. The night 



DRAMATIC MEMORIES. 203 

was intensely cold, in-doors as well as out ; the house was 
thin ; the playing from fair to middling ; yet I was in rap 
tures from first to last. I have since thought that the wise 
way would be to choose a fit occasion, go once to a good 
theatre, and never darken the doors of any playhouse again. 
I never yet entered a green-room, and have no desire to enter 
one ; but, dim as is my eyesight, I cannot now help seeing 
boards, and paint (coarsely laid on), and spangles, and general 
tawdriness, where I once saw glory, and beauty, and splendor, 
and poetry, life idealized, and Paradise realized. Yes ; un 
less to recall lost dreams while watching the ecstasies of chil 
dren on their first visit, I judge that the wise man is he who 
goes but once to the theatre, and keeps the impression then 
made on his mind fresh and clear to the close of life. 

During that, my first Winter in New York, a new theatre 
was opened at Eichmond Hill (corner of Charlton and Varick 
Streets), in what was said to have been Aaron Burr s country- 
seat thirty years before, and was still deemed far up town, 
though now far below the bulk of our population. There 
were no street-cars, and scarcely an omnibus, in those days ; 
Eichmond Hill was away from the great thoroughfares ; so, 
though the house was small, it was seldom well filled ; and 
we journeymen printers, who worked on newspapers that 
helped the theatres to auditors, were admitted on orders from 
the editors respectively on Saturday evenings, when audiences 
were habitually and emphatically thin. I think I thus at 
tended ten or twelve times, oftener than in any five con 
secutive years thereafter. The manager was a Mr. Russell, 
gossip said Mrs. Russell, who was certainly the better player, 
and presumptively a cleverer person, than her husband, whose 
talents were nevertheless respectable. Here I saw Mrs. Duff 
personate Lady Macbeth better than it has since been done in 
this city, though she played for $ 30 per week, and others 
have received ten times that amount for a single night. I 

o o 

doubt that any woman has since played in our city, and 
I am thinking of Fanny Kemble, who was the superior of 
Mrs. Duff in a wide range of tragic characters. I am not 



204 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

sufficiently familiar with the present stage to render my judg 
ment of much value ; yet it seems to me that Henry Placide 
at the Park was a better general comedian than we now have, 
though John S. Clarke and Joseph Jefferson probably each 
surpass him in a certain round of characters, and Sothern 
stands alone as Lord Dundreary. Barney Williams is a clever 
Irishman of his kind ; so is William J. Florence : but is not 
this decidedly a poorer kind than the genial, gentlemanly 
Irishman of the lamented Power ? I have seen fellows (none 
of these) personating Irishmen on our stage, and with a 
rude, Chinese fidelity to a low, vulgar type of Irish character, 
-who seemed to me deserving of indictment as libellers of 
an unlucky race, who, with all their faults, never yet made 
themselves despicable. 

A glad vision is evoked from the long-buried past as I recall 
and reveiw the playing I have seen, that of Naomi Vincent, 
who appeared at the Old Bowery, became Mrs. Hamblin, and 
died while still very young. I never saw her off the stage ; 
am not sure that she was beautiful, nor even that she had the 
elements of a great actress in her nature ; but beauty of mind 
she must have had, or her face greatly belied her. I never 
saw another walk the stage with such an ingenuous, trustful, 
confiding manner, evincing either artlessness or the perfection 
of art, in her case, I am sure, it must have been the former. 
Yet her dramatic capacities were barely in the bud hardly 
in the blossom when she was called away by inexorable 
Death. 

While in Europe, I attended some half a dozen plays, 
mainly operatic, but the only one that much impressed me 
was that wherein several popular authors took part, in behalf 
of the fund for the relief of their luckless and decayed brethren. 
The Duke of Devonshire had fitted up a theatre in his London 
palace, a very large and fine one, Bulwer had written " Not 
so Bad as we Seem " for the occasion ; and the leading parts 
in it were presented by Douglas Jerrold, Mark Lemon, Charles 
Dickens, &c., &c. I believe the actresses were drawn from the 
ranks of the profession ; so that their playing was less bad than 



DRAMATIC MEMORIES. 205 

that of the men, who were for the most part not to speak it 
profanely sticks. I never witnessed more melancholy fail 
ures than the attempts at dignity and courtesy of those who 
stood for noblemen. The demonstration of Thackeray s theory 
that the British plebeian is essentially a snob was perfect. 
But we had for afterpiece a farce, written by Dickens and 
Mark Lemon conjointly ; and the chief part that of a smart, 
garrulous, conceited lawyer, named Gabblewig was played 
by Dickens most admirably. Though it was not concluded 
till after midnight, I suspect most of the auditors found this 
play entirely too short. 

I witnessed the ddbut in America of Fanny Kemble and 
her father, she being in her spring-time of youth and its 
comeliness ; he either a man of little genius, or suffering from 
the premature decay of his physical powers. I heard the 
first notes that Jenny Lind condescended to exchange for our 
dollars, either of them of greater worth than those of to 
day. As I never heard Malibran, I cannot say that Jenny 
Lind s vocal power exceeded that of any other woman who 
ever lived, though I suspect such was the fact. I saw and 
heard Forrest in his later prime, and judged him effective in 
a round of characters by no means the highest. When in 
Paris, I attended several representations at the Theatre Fran- 
c,ais, and, though I understood little that was said, I could 
not fail to notice the wide difference between French and 
Anglo-Saxon acting, a difference nowise creditable to the 
latter. Off the stage, the French are more demonstrative and 
theatrical than the English. Why is it that their positions 
are reversed before the foot-lights ? that the Frenchman is 
there quiet, simple, natural, and the Anglo-Saxon quite other 
wise. Why does the " star " of our kin walk as though on 
stilts, and speak like an auctioneer s bellman ? Can any one 
explain this strange incongruity ? 



Of late years, I have seldom visited the theatre, unless to 
accompany some country friend to whom a play was a novelty 



206 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and a luxury ; having been repelled by its habitual leaning 
to the side of Slavery, Tippling, and other iniquities whereby 
some men derive profit from others weaknesses. The stage 
was of old a powerful ally of Liberty ; yet, throughout our 
long and arduous struggle against the vilest and grossest sys 
tem of oppression ever known, it had ever so many sneers 
and slurs to each cheering, sympathizing word for the cham 
pions of Man s right to his own limbs and sinews. Why this 
was, I stop not here to inquire : I rest on the shameful fact. 
And the Temperance Reform has likewise been confronted 
at every step by scurrilous jests, insidious flings, and mean 
insinuations, from before the foot-lights. Hence thousands, 
impatient of constant misrepresentation and insult, have aban 
doned the theatre. 

I believe that it is even yet possible to restore the failing 
prestige of the stage, to revive its by-gone glories in the 
ages when eminent moralists, like Addison and Dr. Johnson, 
were its steadfast patrons, and when actors like Garrick and 
John Philip Kemble were the honored and intimate friends 
of the proudest nobles in the land. But, to achieve this, we 
must have a manager who can nowise be bribed or tempted 
to minister to prurient appetites, nor pettifog the cause of 
the oppressor. We must have a stage which commands 
the respect of the wise and good, of the philanthropic and 
humane, by never varnishing villany, never sneering at vir 
tue, never pandering to lewd impulses, nor gilding with soph 
istry the car of triumphant wrong. I know that " confidence 
is a plant of slow growth," that, once justly forfeited, it is 
not easily regained ; yet I feel sure that there will yet be a 
stage which, by years of patient, self-sacrificing devotion to 
right and justice, to freedom and humanity, will win the favor 
and support of the noble and worthy, and will exert a benign 
influence over the earthly progress and destiny of our race. 



XXV. 

"OLD ZACK." 

OUE Whig anticipations of malign results from the defeat 
of Clay by Polk, in the Presidential contest of 1844, 
were fully justified by the result. The XXIXth Congress, 
elected with Polk, was strongly Democratic ; Mr. Eobert J. 
Walker, of Mississippi, who was made Secretary of the Treas 
ury, devoted his first annual Eeport to an elaborate and skil 
ful attack on the Protective policy, and on the Tariff of 1842 ; 
and Congress proceeded thereupon to pass a new Tariff, sub 
stantially as drafted by Mr. Walker, which not only effaced 
or modified the Protective features of the Tariff of 1842, but 
substituted Ad Valorem for nearly every Specific duty em 
bodied in the latter. In other words : where the Tariff of 
1842 imposed a duty of so many dollars per ton on a particu 
lar kind of iron (for instance), that of 1846 substituted one 
of 30 per cent, on its value; so that, whenever iron brought a 
high price, the duty on its importation was correspondingly 
high ; but, when the price ran down to zero, the duty was 
diminished in proportion; being thus highest when it was 
least needed by our iron-workers, and lowest when their need 
of Protection was greatest. And this act, though opposed by 
every representative of Pennsylvania in Congress but one, was 
carried through the Senate by the casting vote of Vice-Presi- 
dent Dallas, whose nomination had been harped upon in the 
Presidential canvass as a guaranty to Pennsylvania, that the 
Tariff of 1842 would stand unaltered! Thus the very staff 
on which she leaned proved a spear to pierce her. 

In 1844, that State had chosen 12 Democrats, 10 Whigs, 



208 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and 2 Natives, as her representatives in the XXIXth Con 
gress ; electing the Democratic Governor by 4,397 majority. 
We took an appeal to her people in the election of 1846, and 
they reversed their verdict of 1844, or, rather, attested that 
they had been deceived in rendering it ; choosing the Whig 
over the Democratic candidate for Canal Commissioner (the 
only office filled at that election by a general vote of her 
people) by a majority of 8,894, on a light vote. At this elec 
tion, she chose 16 Whigs and 1 Native to 8 Democrats, to 
represent her in the XXXth Congress. New York, New 
Jersey, North Carolina, and even Virginia, also showed decided 
Whig gains ; so that, though Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, 
Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan remained strongly Demo 
cratic, along with the Cotton States, the new House had a 
small Whig majority, whereby Robert C. Winthrop, of Boston, 
was chosen Speaker. This was a clear verdict against Mr. 
Folk s Administration, and more "especially against its deal 
ings with the Tariff question in acquiring and in wielding 
power. 

Mr. Polk had not yet been inaugurated when the indorse 
ment and momentum given to the Annexation policy by his 
election carried a bill, providing equivocally for the acquisition 
of Texas, through both Houses of the expiring Congress, the 
Senate being with difficulty, and not without intimidation, 
induced to concur therein by a bare majority. President 
Tyler eagerly signed it, and despatched an agent post-haste to 
Texas to secure her assent, which was as eagerly given. Mr. 
Polk, soon after his inauguration (March 4, 1845), despatched 
a considerable part of our little army, under General Zachary 
Taylor, to the southern limit of the territory actually pos 
sessed by the Texans, near Corpus Christi, where the General 
halted, and awaited explicit orders which were finally sent 
him to cross the intervening desert, and advance to the Rio 
Grande del Norte, nearly opposite Matamoros. When he had 
thus invaded a region which had, except for a very few days, 
been in peacefully undisturbed possession of Mexicans for at 
least a century, he was attacked by a Mexican force, under 



OLD ZACK." 209 

Ampudia and Arista, which he easily routed, first at Palo 
Alto ; * then, pursuing, at Kesaca de la Palnia ; f whence the 
Mexicans were driven across the river in disorder ; evacuating 
Matamoros, when General Taylor crossed, without making a 
shadow of resistance. And the war thus begun was prose 
cuted with such manifest disproportion of resources and of 
military prowess, that New Mexico and Upper California were 
yielded to our arms without a serious contest. General 
Taylor defeated Santa Anna with an army thrice as numerous 
as his own at Buena Vista, J in the heart of Northern Mexico, 
where fell Henry Clay, Jr., at the head of his Kentucky regi 
ment, and Hon. John J. Hardin, of Illinois, also commanding 
a regiment of volunteers, with many others of our bravest and 
best. The Mexicans loss was, as usual, considerably heavier 
than ours. Further advance on this line being impracticable, 

the country being in the main a rugged, waterless desert, 

General Scott was despatched with an army considerably 
larger than General Taylor s to Vera Cruz, which he soon re 
duced ; advancing thence, with 10,000 men, directly on the 
city of Mexico; being opposed by Santa Anna, with 15,000 
men, at a difficult and strongly fortified pass in the moun 
tains, fifty miles inland, known as Cerro Gordo, which he 
carried after severe fighting ; || the Mexicans losing five gen 
erals and 3,000 men. Scott thence advanced by easy marches, 
wholly unopposed, through Xalapa and Perote, to Puebla, 
where he waited some time in expectation of peace ; but none 
was offered, and he again advanced to the vicinity of the 
capital, where Santa Anna had collected 30,000 men to stop 
the march of Scott s 12,000, behind such intrenchments, and 
in positions of such natural strength, that he deemed them 
impregnable. But those works were partly turned by a flank 
ing movement toward the South, when that at Contreras was 
assaulted at 3 A. M., IF and carried by the bayonet ; the Mexi 
cans losing 22 guns, 700 killed, and 1,500 prisoners. Pur 
suing their advantage, our soldiers next attacked the Mexicans 

* May 8, 1846. J February 22, 1847. ]| April 18. 

t May 9. March 27. 1 August 20. 

H 



210 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

at Churubusco (or San Pablo), where the latter were again 
beaten, after a protracted resistance, with a loss of 1,000 on 
our side to 5,000 on theirs. The battle closed at the gates of 
the city of Mexico, which General Scott might at once have 
entered ; but he chose to remain outside, while a volunteer 
effort at peace-making, by Mr. Nicholas P. Trist, was made, 
without immediate result. Meantime, the Mexicans had 
strongly intrenched themselves at Chepultepec, on the south 
side of the city ; and another fight took place at Molino del 
Hey,* near Tambago, where General Worth s division routed 
a force of twice its own numbers, inflicting a loss of 3,0.00, 
but suffering one of 700, including Colonels Martin Scott and 
Graham. Chepultepec was next bombarded and assaulted ; f 
the Mexicans being driven from it with great loss, and pur 
sued to the gates of the city, where they were met at mid 
night by commissioners, who gave notice that Santa Anna 
was escaping with the remnant of his forces, and that the 
capital was at General Scott s mercy. Our soldiers reduced 
by so many bloody conflicts to about 6,000 effectives 
marched in without further resistance, and the Stars and 
Stripes floated over the " halls of the Montezumas ! " Peace 
despite the difficulty of finding a responsible government 
wherewith to make it was at length negotiated ; J Mexico 
ceded New Mexico and upper California to the United States ; 
abandoned all her rights in or claim to Texas ; and received 
from us an indemnity of $15,000,000, whereof 83,000,000 
were to be reserved, and applied to the payment of our citi 
zens who had claims against her for spoliations. So ended 
when our forces had been withdrawn,, and the stipulated pay 
ments made our war upon Mexico. 



The Presidential canvass of 1848 opened directly there 
after. General Zachary Taylor a native of Virginia, but 
long resident in Louisiana had evinced qualities in the war 
which strongly commended him to many as a candidate for 

* September 8. t September 12, 13. \ February 2, 1848. 






"OLD ZACK." 211 

our highest civil office. Though his part in it was less bril 
liant, less important, than that of General Scott, he had com 
mended himself far more widely to popular favor. Quiet, 
resolute, sententious, unostentatious, he was admired by mul 
titudes who profoundly detested the war wherein he had so 
suddenly achieved renown ; and many of them gloated over 
the prospect of hurling from power the politicians who had 
so wantonly plunged us into a contest of aggression and in 
vasion by means of the very instrument which they had em 
ployed to consummate their purposes. 

I non-concurred in this view, most decidedly. General 
Taylor, though an excellent soldier, had no experience as a 
statesman, and his capacity for civil administration was wholly 
undemonstrated. He had never voted ; had, apparently, paid 
little attention to, and taken little, interest in politics ; and, 
though inclined toward the Whig party, was but slightly iden 
tified with its ideas and its efforts. Nobody could say what 
were his views regarding Protection, Internal Improvement, 
or the Currency. On the great question which our vast 
acquisitions from Mexico had suddenly invested with the 
gravest importance of excluding Slavery from the yet un 
tainted Federal Territories, he had nowise declared himself; 
and the fact that he was an extensive slaveholder justified 
a presumption that he, like most slaveholders, deemed it right 
that any settler in the Territories should be at liberty to take 
thither, and hold there as property, whatever the laws of his 
own State recognized as property. "We desired to " take a 
bond of fate " that this view should not be held by a Whig 
President, at all events. 

And then I (with many others) wanted to try over again 
the issue on which I thought we had been defrauded in 1844 
It seemed impossible that Pennsylvania (in view of her recent 
experience) should again be persuaded that any Democrat 
was as good a Protectionist as Henry Clay. True, we had 
not defeated Governor Shunk s reelection in 1847; but the 
running of distinct Whig and Native candidates for Governor 
rendered our defeat inevitable. New York we had carried in 



212 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

1847 by a very large majority, the Free-Soil section of the 
Democratic party withholding its votes from the pro-Slavery 
or "Hunker" State ticket. The Whigs of our State were 
mainly for Clay ; we could give him her electoral vote ; and 
this, with Pennsylvania, made his election morally certain. 
Hence I worked hard to secure his nomination. 

The attempt to run a parallel between this case and that of 
1840 failed in the most material point. General Harrison 
may not have been so able as Mr. Clay, but he was not less 
earnestly and unequivocally a Whig. No one could indicate 
a shade of difference in their political views. General Harri 
son s military career was brief and casual ; his life had been 
that of a civilian, honored and trusted by all Administrations 
between 1800 and 1828, a Territorial Governor, United 
States Senator, and Ambassador to Columbia. General Taylor, 
now an old man, had been in the regular army from boyhood, 
and was in all things a veteran soldier. His slender acquaint 
ance with and interest in politics was nowise feigned, but was 
usual and natural with men of his class and position. 

The WTiig National Convention met at Philadelphia on the 
1st of June. There was a pretty full, but not extraordinary, 
attendance. I believe ex-Governor Morehead, of North Caro 
lina, presided. It was very soon apparent that the shrewd, 
influential, managing politicians were generally for Taylor, 
who had a plurality, but not a majority, on the first ballot, 
and gained steadily on the two following, viz. : - 

1st. 2d. 3d. 

Tavlor, Ill 118 133 

Clay, 97 86 74 

Scott, 43 49 54 

Webster, 22 22 17 

Scattering, 6 

An adjournment was now had till next morning ; but the 
issue was already decided, and General Taylor was nominated 
on the next ballot; when the vote stood: Taylor, 171 ; Clay, 
35 ; Scott, 60 ; Webster, 14. All that we Clayites achieved 
was the substitution of Millard Fillmore as Vice-President for 
Abbott Lawrence, of Boston, who was on the Taylor slate ; but 



" OLD ZACK." 213 

the evidences of dissatisfaction induced the managers to take 
him off, and let Mr. Fillmore be nominated. 

The Democrats had met at Baltimore, May 22, and, after a 
spirited contest, nominated General Lewis Cass, of Michigan, 
for President, and General William 0. Butler, of Kentucky, 
for Vice-President. This ticket was respectable both as to 
character and services, yet its prospects were marred by the 
fact that that faction of the New York Democracy which had 
been known as " Barnburners," or Free-Soil men, resenting 
the admission of their competitors to seats in the Convention, 
had bolted, and refused to be governed by the result. Ulti 
mately, they united with the Abolitionists, and with sym 
pathizing Democrats in other States, in holding a National 
Convention at Buffalo, which nominated Martin Van Buren, 
of New York, for President, and Charles Francis Adams, of 
Massachusetts, for Vice-President. This ticket, though it 
obtained no single electoral vote, blasted the hopes of General 
Cass and the regular Democracy. Eunning General Dix for 
Governor of this State, with Seth M. Gates (Abolition) for 
Lieutenant-Governor, it polled a larger popular vote than was 
given to Cass ; while General Taylor though he received 
many thousands fewer of the people s votes than Mr. Clay did 
four years previous carried the State by 98,093 plurality. 
He carried Pennsylvania likewise by 13,357 plurality, and 
2,274 majority over all. Vermont and Connecticut gave him 
pluralities only; while Massachusetts, Pthode Island, New 
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Ken 
tucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida gave him absolute 
majorities : making fifteen States in all that went for him, 
giving him 163 electoral votes. General Cass had pluralities 
only in Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, 
and Iowa, just carrying the two last named ; he was run very 
close by Taylor in Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but 
earned them by majorities, as there was no third party in 
either. New Hampshire, Texas, and Arkansas were all the 
States that went strongly for him ; making fifteen States in all, 
casting 127 electoral votes. General Cass received the vote 



214 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of every State lying north and west of the Ohio and Missouri 
rivers. General Taylor had a plurality of the popular vote in 
the Free, and a small majority of that cast in the Slave States ; 
carrying seven of the former and eight of the latter. In the 
entire Union, the popular vote stood: Taylor, 1,361,450; Cass, 
1,221,920; Van Buren, 291,342. (South Carolina choosing 
her electors by the Legislature, no return of her popular vote 
can be given.) 

In the event, I think the anticipations of those who had 
favored and those who had opposed General Taylor s nomina 
tion as the Whig candidate for President were both realized. 
He proved an honest, wise, fearless public servant, true to 
his convictions, but yielding all proper fealty and deference 
to those whose votes had placed him in the White House. 
None more keenly regretted his sudden, untimely death 
which occurred on the 9th of July, 1850, after he had been 
sixteen months President than those who had most strenu 
ously resisted his nomination. 

Yet the fact remains, that the Whig party was demoralized 
by that nomination, and lost ground thereby in the confidence 
of the masses. We had fought through our great struggle of 
1844 on well-defined, important principles of national policy, 
whereon we were at odds with our adversaries. We had 
challenged them to meet us, and had met them, in face-to- 
face discussion of our respective views, and had shown the 
people how and why their personal prosperity and well-being 
would be promoted by the triumph of our ideas, our measures. 
Beaten in the declared result, the Whig party never stood so 
strong in the popular conviction that its aims were just and 
its policy beneficent, as at the close of the canvass of 1844, 
as was evinced in our carrying the next House of Eepre- 
sentatives. On the other hand, our success in 1848 was the 
triumph of General Taylor, not of our principles. It showed 
that a majority preferred General Taylor to General Cass for 
President : that was all. W T e had fought the contest, not on 
our principles, but on our candidates ; hence, many who 
accepted our candidates were indifferent or averse to our 



" OLD ZACK." 215 

principles ; and the very House elected with or under General 
Taylor chose a Democratic Speaker, and was organized to 
oppose his Administration. The Whigs could not say with 
Pvrrhus, " Another such victory, and I am ruined ! " This 
one sufficed to disintegrate and destroy their organization. 
They were at once triumphant and undone. 



I think I never saw General Taylor save for a moment at 
the Inauguration Ball, on the night after his accession to the 
Presidency. I was never introduced and never wrote to him ; 
and, while I ultimately supported and voted for him, I. did not 
hurry myself to secure his election. In fact, that of 1848 was 
my easiest and least anxious Presidential canvass since 1824. 
When a resolve opposing the Wilmot Proviso was laid on the 
table at the Convention that nominated him, I felt that my 
zeal, my enthusiasm for the Whig cause was also laid there. 

Yet I have little faith in third-party movements, which 
are generally impelled by an occult purpose to help one of the 
leading parties by drawing off votes from the other. General 
Taylor at length avowed himself " a Whig, but not an ultra 
Whig " ; and I believe that was about the literal truth. Zeal 
ous Whigs apprehended that he might, if elected, shrink from 
discharging the officeholders appointed by Tyler and Polk; 
but, after giving him a trial, they were constrained to admit 
that he "turned out better than had been expected." He 
was a man of little education or literary culture, but of signal 
good sense, coolness, and freedom from prejudice. Few 
trained and polished statesmen have proved fitter depositaries 
of civil power than this rough old soldier, whose life had been 
largely passed in camp and bivouac, on the rude outskirt of 
civilization, or in savage wastes far beyond it. General Taylor 
died too soon for his country s good, but not till he had 
proved himself a wise and good ruler, if not even a great 
one. 



XXVI. 

CONGRESS. MILE A-GE. 

IN our State Election for 1846, David S. Jackson (Demo 
crat) had been chosen to represent the upper district of 
our city in the XXXth Congress, by a small majority over 
Colonel James Monroe (Whig). That majority was obtained 
by bringing over from Blackwell s Island and polling in the 
XlXth Ward the adult male paupers domiciled in the Alms- 
house not merely those who had resided in our district 
before they honored our city by condescending to live at her 
expense, but those who had been gathered in from other dis 
tricts. Colonel Monroe objected to this as carrying a joke too 
far ; and, on his contesting the return of Mr. Jackson, the 
House sustained the objection, and unseated Jackson without 
replacing him by Monroe. The people were required to vote 
again. 

By this time, it was 1848, the year of General Taylor s 
election. Colonel Monroe confidently expected to be the 
Whig candidate, not merely for the vacancy, but for the ensu 
ing (XXXIst) Congress. The delegates, however, were "fixed" 
for Mr. James Brooks, editor of The Express, who was duly 
nominated for the XXXIst, while Colonel Monroe was ten 
dered the nomination for the remaining ninety days (at 8 8 
per day) of the XXXth Congress. He declined indignantly ; 
whereupon, that fag-end of a term was tendered to me. I at 
first resolved to decline also, not seeing how to leave my 
business so abruptly for a three months sojourn at Washing 
ton ; but the nomination was so kindly pressed upon me, with 
such apparently cogent reasons therefor, that I accepted it. 



CONGRESS. MILEAGE. 217 

There was never any doubt of the result. A politician soon 
called on me, professing to be from Mr. Brooks, to inquire as 
to what should be done to secure our election. "Tell Mr. 
Brooks," I responded, "that we have only to keep so still 
that no particular attention will be called to us, and General 
Taylor will carry us both in. There are not voters enough 
in the district who care about either of us, one way or the 
other, to swamp the majority that the Taylor Electors cannot 
fail to receive." The returns proved the correctness of this 
calculation ; the vote of the district standing as follows : 

Electors Taylor 11,066 

XXXth Congress. . . Greeley 9,932 

XXXIst Congress . . Brooks 9,709 

My Cass competitor had 6,826 votes ; my Van Buren ditto, 
1,681. 

General Taylor received but a plurality of the vote of our 
entire State, while Mr. Van Buren s popular vote exceeded 
that for General Cass; but in our city the case was quite 
otherwise ; the aggregates being : Taylor, 29,057 ; Cass, 18,884; 
Van Buren, 5,106. I believe that was the very last election 
wherein our city ever gave a clear majority against the Demo 
cratic party, save that in 1854 her vote was pretty evenly 
divided between the Democratic, Whig-Republican, and Know- 
Nothing parties. Owing to the Democratic split, nearly or 
quite all the Representatives elected from our city to the 
XXXIst Congress were Whigs. 

The district from which I was chosen included all our city 
above Fourteenth Street, with the Xlth, XVth, and XVIIth 
Wards lying below that street. It then contained about one 
third of the city s entire population ; it now contains at least 
two thirds. When, soon after taking my seat, I introduced a. 
bill authorizing each landless citizen of the United States to 
occupy and appropriate a small allotment of the National 
Domain free of charge, a Western member wanted to know 
why New York should . busy herself as to the disposal of the 
Public Lands. I responded that my interest in the matter 
was stimulated by the fact that I represented more landless 
men than any other member on that floor. 



218 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

When the pay of Members of Congress was originally fixed, 
railroads and steamboats as yet were not ; stage-coaches ran 
on a few, and but a few, great highways of travel ; most of 
the members came part of the way on horseback, as some 
came all the way. It was therefore deemed just, in fixing 
their compensation at 8 6 per day, to stipulate that a like sum 
should be allowed as mileage, or the cost in time and money 
of journeying each twenty miles on the roads to and from 
Washington. 

Congress, in time, raised its own pay to $ 8 per day, and $ 8 
for every twenty miles in coining to and returning from 
Washington. In 1816, the pay was changed to 8 1,500 per 
annum, the mileage remaining as before ; but the people 
revolted at this, and swept out nearly every member who had 
voted for it. Henry Clay had not voted at all on the ques 
tion; but he was Speaker when the bill passed, and was, 
therefore, held responsible for its passage, a responsibility 
which he gallantly met. Opposed for reelection by one-armed 
John Pope, one of the ablest men then living in Kentucky, 
but who labored under the serious disadvantage of having 
been a Federalist, Mr. Clay had all he could do, by popular 
addresses and personal appeals, to stem the tide of discontent 
raised by the passage of the Compensation Act; even his 
barber a naturalized Irishman, who had hitherto been one 
of his most enthusiastic, efficient supporters maintaining 
an ominous silence on the subject, until Mr. Clay himself 
canvassed him, saying : " I trust I may count on your hearty 
support, as usual ? " when he responded : " Faith, Mr. Clay, I 
think I shall vote this time for the man who can get but one 
hand into the Treasury." 

Mr. Clay triumphed, as he ever did when a candidate for 
the House ; but he had to promise to favor a repeal of the 
Compensation Act, which was carried without serious opposi 
tion. I think it was at this time that the pay was advanced 
from $ 6 to $ 8 per day : mileage to correspond. 

But the introduction and rapid multiplication of steamboats, 
especially on our great trans-Alleghany network of rivers 



CONGRESS. MILEAGE. 219 

and lakes, rendered this mileage absurdly too high. A mem 
ber now traversed a distance of two thousand miles about as 
quickly as, and at hardly more expense than, his predecessor 
by half a century must have incurred on a journey of two 
hundred miles, for which the latter was paid $80, and the 
former $ 800. 

Nor was this all. The steamboat routes, though much 
more swiftly and cheaply traversed, were nearly twice 
sometimes thrice the length of the stage and horseback 
roads they superseded. And as the law said at first, and 
continued to say, that they were to charge Mileage " by the 
usually travelled route" they now charged and received twice 
as much for travelling five days in a sumptuous cabin, replete 
with every luxury, as their fathers paid for roughing it over 
the mountains in fifteen to twenty days, at a far greater cost. 

Colonel Benton, who deemed himself, and meant to be, 
an honest man, somewhere about 1836, made a claim on 
the Treasury for about $ 2,000, which (he computed) was re 
quired to bring up his Mileage in past years to a par with 
the charges of others ! and this amount was allowed and 
paid him. 

Said First Comptroller Elisha Whittlesey to me, near the 
close of his long, upright, and useful public life : " Even Mr. 
Calhoun has increased his charge for Mileage since the old 
horseback and stage-coach days : and there is just one man 
in Congress who charges Mileage now as all did then. That 
man is HENRY CLAY." 

Getting into the House, I had access to the schedules of 
Compensation and Mileage, which (though they are said to 
be printed) were not (and are not) easily found by outsiders ; 
and I resolved to improve my opportunity. So I hired a 
reporter to transcribe them, and (using as a basis of compari 
son the United States Topographer s official statement of the 
distances from Washington, by the most direct mail-route, of 
each post-office in the country) I aimed to show exactly how 
much could be saved, in the case of each member, by com 
puting Mileage on the most direct post-route instead of " the 



220 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

usually travelled route." This cxpostf, when prepared, was 
transmitted to New York, duly appeared in The Tribune, and 
so came back to Washington. 

I had expected that it would kick up some dust ; but my 
expectations were far outrun. It happened that two of our 
Whig members from Ohio had been run out by close votes at 
the recent election (October, 1848), and that the crooked Mile 
age they charged had been used with effect by their oppon 
ents in the canvass. It might be all right for them to charge 
Mileage from the heart of Ohio around by Lake Erie to Wash 
ington, when the Government had constructed a first-rate 
national road from the vicinity of Baltimore due west through 
Zanesville and Columbus to Indianapolis ; but the people 
did n t or would n t see it. These beaten sore-heads were 
specially prompt and eager in preaching a crusade against me 
on the floor. 

Good and true men shared, to some extent, their feelings. 
Earely, for example, has our country been served by a purer, 
more upright man than Hon. Jacob Collarner, of Vermont. 
" Mr. Greeley," said he to me, " is it not hard that I should be 
held up to the public as a swindler ? Look at the facts : I 
live in Woodstock. I take the stage to Windsor, twenty- 
two miles, where I strike the nearest railroad. I ride 
thence by rail to Boston ; from Boston to New York ; from 
New York to Washington. It is the easiest and quickest 
route I can take, the natural route of travel. I charge for 
the miles I actually travel, not one more. Why is not this 
right?" 

" Judge," I responded, " now hear me. Your predecessors, 
I happen to know, took stage from Woodstock to Eutland ; 
from Rutland to Troy ; thence steamboat to New York ; thence 
railroad to Washington. It is now cheaper and easier for 
you to go by Boston, three hundred miles farther. Will 
you tell me why you should be paid $ 240 more per annum 
because this cheaper and easier route has lately been opened ? 
I concede you the advantage of the improved transit. I pro 
test against your charging $ 240, and the people paying it, 
therefor. That is not just." 



CONGRESS. Ml LEA GE. 221 

The only answer I ever received to this way of putting the 
case was, " Such is the law." But Congress was master of the 
l aw ^ : able, at any time, to make it just, therefore bound 
to make it just. It was the object of my expose to compel 
such adjustment. 

General J. J. McKay, of North Carolina, once came across 
to my seat. He was a stern, pro-Slavery Democrat, and it 
was not the habit of such to waste civilities on me. 

" Mr. Greeley," he said, " you have printed me as charging 
seven miles more than the actual distance from my home to 
Washington. The fact is not so. I charge precisely as you 
say is just, by the shortest mail-route ; but I live seven 
miles beyond my post-office, and I charge from my own house." 

" How could I know that ? " I inquired. 

" You could not," he replied. " I am not blaming you ; on 
the contrary, I thank you for what you have done. . It was 
needed, and will do good. I only wished that you should 
know the facts." 



As I remember, the Mileage expose was first brought 
formally to the notice of the House by Hon. William Sawyer, 
of Ohio, a very bitter Democrat, who had been annoyed, ere 
this, by the strictures of a correspondent of The Tribune on 
his habit of eating a luncheon in the House behind the 
Speaker s chair. He had a new grievance in the Mileage 
expose , in that, though the expost correctly stated the dif 
ference between his Mileage as charged, and what it would be 
if computed by the most direct mail-routes, there was a blun 
der in the case of his nearest Whig neighbor, Hon. Eobert C. 
Schenck, whose overcharge was not made nearly so much as it 
should be. Schenck promptly rose and offered to swap with 
his colleague, if that would afford him any satisfaction. It 
did n t. 

There was one shabby dodge of those who stretched their 
Mileage to the utmost, that challenged, but did not command, 
my admiration : Each of them would find out which old stager 



222 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

living near him had crowded his Mileage up to the highest 
high-water mark; and, upon being asked by the Chairman of 
the Committee on Mileage to state his distance from Washin"- 
ton, would respond, I live - - miles beyond [or this side 
of] Mr. - ." The Chairman would make out his Mileage 
accordingly; and now the indignantly virtuous beneficiarV 
would say, / had nothing to do with the matter. The 
Chairman made out my Mileage as he saw fit, and I took 
whatever he allowed me." 

The cleverer wounded pigeons knew a great deal better 
than to take issue with me directly on the Mileage question 
whereon (as I told them) they were a party of ten-score con 
fronted by twenty-odd millions. Their true expedient was a 
back-fire ; and they contrived to set one. This Congress had, 
at its former session (when I was not a member), voted itself 
the books which it had for years been the custom to purchase 
for each new member, consisting of American Archives De 
bates in Congress, etc., now swelled (by enormous chafes) 
to a cost of about $ 1,000 per man. Those books had been 
ordered and bought; nothing remained but to pay for them. 
I had resolved to vote against this item when the bill which 
contained it came up in the House, though I knew it must be 
paid ; for I apprehended that the advocates of what are called 
liberal appropriations would seek to make capital out of my 
voting for such an item. Yet, when the usual Deficiency 
Bill was rapidly going through the House in Committee of 
the Whole, the members being called on a dozen times in 
twenty minutes to vote (by rising) for or against some motion 
or item, a mischievous neighbor called out to me, " There, 
you Ve voted for the books ! " I presume it was so ; and his 
exultation was based on his knowledge that it was my pur 
pose to vote against them. And yet (as I had often said) 
had those books been bought at fair prices, and deposited as 
public property by the receivers in public libraries and county 
clerk s offices in their respective districts, the outlay would 
have been judicious and proper. It was well known, how 
ever, that many to whom the books were voted never took 



CONGRESS. MILE A GE. 223 

nor saw them, merely drawing an order for them and sell 
ing it to the book-suppliers for so much cash in hand, less 
than half what the books cost the Treasury. In one case, a 
member well known to me was reputed to have sold his order, 
and gambled away the proceeds, before going to his lodging 
the night after the appropriation was voted. 

A concerted effort was made to involve me in glaring incon 
sistency on this subject, A. testified that I had justified the 
book-buying, B. that I had denied having intended to vote 
for it, and so on. I presume that what each so asserted 
was true, or nearly so ; a very slight explanation might have 
harmonized statements which were so made as to seem in 
conflict. For a time, it looked as though the Mileage men 
had the upper hand of me ; and I was told that a paper was 
drawn up for signatures to see how many would agree to stand 
by each other in voting my expulsion, but that the movement 
was crushed by a terse interrogatory remonstrance from Hon. 
John Wentworth, then a leading Democrat. 

" Why, you blessed fools ! " warmly inquired long John, 
" do you want to make him President ? " 

They did n t, and so subsided. 

Much has been said on sundry occasions about the time / 
wasted, the trouble / made, in the House, concerning Mileage. 
In fact, I did not introduce the subject there, made no 
move regarding it, and scarcely alluded to it. Hon. Elijah 
Embree, of Indiana, moved an amendment to the proper Ap 
propriation Bill, providing that Mileage should thenceforth 
be charged by the most direct mail-route, a clause which 
would have saved to the Treasury more than $ 100,000 per 
annum, and I voted for it ; but it was beaten in Committee 
of the Whole, and I think never came to the yeas and nays. At 
all events, the abuse was not corrected, and has not yet been ; 
though the last Congress, in raising its own pay from $ 3,000 
to 85,000 per annum, had the grace to cut down Mileage 
from forty to twenty cents per mile by " the usually travelled 
route." But I think it is no longer " usual " for a man living 
in central Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois to "swing around the 



224 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

circle/ via Detroit, Buffalo, Albany, and New York, in travel 
ling from home to Washington city; in fact, railroads are 
generally straightening and shortening the " usual " routes of 
travel. I presume, therefore, that the worst excesses of the 
Mileage swindle have ere this been abated. So mote it be ! 



I do not imply that legislation, whether in Congress or else 
where, is purer and cleaner now than it was twenty or forty 
years ago. On the contrary, I judge that it is oftener swayed, 
to the prejudice of the public interest, by considerations of 
personal advantage, and that the evil tends strongly to in 
crease and diffuse itself. The chartering of railroads through 
public lands which are required (as is clearly just) to contrib 
ute to their construction, whether by liberal grants of terri 
tory or by direct subsidies in cash, and many kindred devices 
for promoting at once public and private prosperity, have 
strongly tended to , render legislation mercenary, whether in 
Congress, in State legislatures, or in municipal councils. 
When I was in the House, there were ten or twelve members 
not more than twelve, I am confident who were generally 
presumed to be " on the make," as the phrase is ; and they 
were a class by themselves, as clearly as if they were so many 
black sheep in a large flock of white ones. I would gladly 
believe that this class has not since increased in numbers or 
in impudence ; but the facts do not justify that presumption. 



XXVII. 

CONGRESS AS IT WAS. 

WHEN" I first saw the Congress of the United States, 
in the Summer of 1836, I judge that the Senate was 
the ablest body of its numbers on earth. Though there were 
scarcely more than fifty Senators in all, among them were 
Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Silas Wright, 
John Forsyth, John M. Clayton, George B. Poindexter, 
Thomas Ewing, William C. Preston, Nathaniel P. Tall- 
madge, and James Buchanan. The House, though less no 
ticeably strong, contained many able and eminent members, 
headed by the " old man eloquent," John Quincy Adams, who 
had been with James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce, of 
whom each was to be President of the United States. 

When I entered the House twelve years later, Mr. Adams 
had recently died in the Capitol, and been succeeded by 
Horace Mann, who won much honor in his educational, but 
little distinction in his parliamentary, career. The Senate 
was decidedly weaker than when I first looked down on it 
from the gallery ; but Messrs. Webster, Calhoun, and Clayton 
were still members, while Messrs. Wright, Forsyth, Poin 
dexter, and Preston had passed away, and Mr. Ewing was 
living (as he still is) in retirement. Mr. Polk was President, 
and Mr. Buchanan was his Secretary of State. Mr. Clay had 
resigned in 1842, and had not since been in public life, save 
that he was a candidate for President in 1844; but he was 
reflected to the Senate that winter, and served thenceforth till 
his death, June 29, 1852. Mr. Pierce, after serving four years 
in the House, and five in the Senate, had resigned in 1843, 
15 



226 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and had since been in retirement, save that he took part in 
the Mexican War. He had been so completely lost to 
public life that his nomination for President, three or four 
years afterward, seemed nearly equivalent to a resurrection. 

Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson (each then about 
forty years old) were members of the House to which I was 
chosen, as Mr. Johnson had been of the two preceding and 
remained through the two following, when he was translated 
to the Senate. Mr. Johnson, being a Democrat, seldom vis 
ited our side of the hall, and I saw much less of him than 
of Mr. Lincoln, who was a Whig, and who, though a new 
member, was personally a favorite on our side. He seemed 
a quiet, good-natured man, did not aspire to leadership, and 
seldom claimed the floor. I think he made but one set 
speech during that session, and this speech was by no means 
a long one. Though a strong partisan, he voted against the 
bulk of his party once or twice, when that course was dic 
tated by his convictions. He was one of the most moderate, 
though firm, opponents of Slavery Extension, and notably of 
a buoyant, cheerful spirit. It will surprise some to hear that, 
though I was often in his company thenceforward till his 
death, and long on terms of friendly intimacy with him, I 
never heard him tell an anecdote or story. 

I judge that Massachusetts had, relatively, the strongest 
delegation in the House ; as hers included Eobert C. Winthrop 
(Speaker), Julius Eockwell, Joseph Grinnell, Charles Hud 
son, George Ashinun, Horace Maim, and John G. Palfrey. 
Ohio probably ranked next; being in part represented by 
Samuel F. Vinton (then Chairman of Ways and Means), 
Eobert C. Schenck (who now fills that post), Joshua E. Gid- 
dings, and Joseph M. Eoot. Of the Democrats in that House, 
those whom I recollect as strongest were James J. McKay 
and Abraham W. Venable of North Carolina, Howell Cobb 
of Georgia, John Wentworth of Illinois, Jacob Thompson of 
Mississippi, and George W. Jones of Tennessee. Messrs. 
Alexander H. Stephens and Eobert Toombs of Georgia were 
conspicuous members, but both then Whigs, though they 



CONGRESS AS IT WAS. 227 

have since been quite otherwise. Vermont had already been 
reduced to three representatives ; but two of these were Jacob 
Collamer and George P. Marsh. Virginia had (I believe) 
more Whigs in that House than in any before or since ; and 
among them were John M. Botts, William L. Goggin, and 
John S. Pendleton. I judge that A. H. Stephens was the 
most acute, and perhaps the ablest, member of that House ; 
but one of the cleverest, if he had known how to take good 
care of himself, was William T. Haskell of Tennessee, of 
whom the world never heard. He was not reflected, and 
died a few years afterward. 

I do not propose to give here a history of the little that was 
achieved or the much that was said at that short session. As 
those were the last sands of an Administration already super 
seded, the old heads of either party were indisposed to have 
much done beside passing the necessary Appropriation bills ; 
and they were able to have substantially their own way. 

Tt used to be a standing topic of complaint, in Congress as 
well as out of it, that too much time was wasted there in de 
bate on abstractions, and especially on questions relating to 
Slavery. I was repeatedly asked, " Don t you want the floor 
for a speech on the Slavery question ? " to which I answered 
that I did not, that my views on that subject were already 
tolerably well known, and that I did not see how I could 
use the time of the House to public advantage by haranguing 
it on the threadbare topic. I think I did once speak some 
twenty minutes on the ruling theme ; but it was on an even 
ing set apart for general debate, and when the time was to be 
thus wasted anyhow. Yet, one day, when the House was in 
Committee on some bill having no necessary or proper con 
nection with Slavery, a member rose and said, " Mr. Chair 
man, I propose to improve this opportunity to give my views 
on the Slavery question." Hereupon another rose and said, 
" Mr. Chairman, I object. The subject of Slavery is not now 
in order. The rule of the House is plain and imperative : 
the only subject that can be debated is that expressly before 
us. I insist that the gentleman shall proceed, if at all, in 



228 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

order." The Chairman decided that, since it had long been 
the tolerated practice to discuss anything pertaining to the 
state of the Union when in Committee on that subject, he 
should rule that the gentleman was in order ; and, though we 
rallied a respectable force to overrule this decision, it was 
triumphantly sustained, those who were frequently de 
nouncing " Slavery agitation " taking the lead in its support. 

Sundry attempts at reforming what were considered abuses 
were made that Winter, but without brilliant success. We 
tried to abolish flogging in the Navy, but were beaten. I 
think it was Mr. (now General) Schenck who raised a laugh 
against us by proposing so to amend that the commander of 
a ship of war should never order a sail spread or reefed with 
out calling all hands and taking a vote of his crew on the 
question. We were temporarily successful in voting in Com 
mittee to stop dealing out strong drink to the sailors and 
marines in our Navy, though this, too, was ultimately de 
feated ; but, in the first flush of our delusive triumph, a mem 
ber sitting near me, who had voted to stop the grog ration, 
said to a friend who (I believe) had voted the same way, 
" Gid, that was a glorious vote we have just taken." " Yes, 
glorious," was the ready response. " Gid," resumed the elated 
reformer, " let us go and take a drink on the strength of it." 
" Agreed," was the willing echo ; and they went. 

I had been but a few days on the floor, when a leading 
member on our side came along , canvassing in behalf of an 
embryo proposition that the House should pay from its con 
tingent fund seven dollars and a half per column each to The 
Union and The National Intelligencer respectively for report 
ing and printing our debates. " You can t pass that scheme 
here," I said, somewhat abruptly. " Well, sir, I believe you 
have been a member of this House some four or five days," 
he retorted ; " and you seem to begin early to decide what 
measures can and what cannot pass." "No matter," I re 
joined, "you can t pass that measure here." Nevertheless, 
he tried, but could n t. Up to this period, I had been favor 
ably regarded and kindly treated by Messrs. Gales and Seaton, 



CONGRESS AS IT WAS. 229 

the excellent but unthrifty editors of The National Intelli 
gencer ; but they wasted no more civilities nor smiles on me 
so long as they lived respectively. They evidently could not 
realize that any one could oppose such a proposition from 
any impulse other than one of personal hostility or general 
malignity. 

An abuse had crept in, a few years before, at the close of 
a long, exhausting session, when some liberal soul proposed 
that each of the sub-officers and attaches of Congress (whose 
name is Legion) be paid two hundred and fifty dollars extra 
because of such protracted labor. Thenceforth, this gratuity 
was repeated at the close of each session, the money being 
taken by the generous members, not from their own pockets, 
but Uncle Sam s, and the vote being now that " The usual 
extra compensation," &c. As our session was a light as well 
as a short one, some of us determined to stop this Treasury 
leak; and we did it once or twice, to the chagrin of the 
movers. At length, came the last night of the session, and 
with it a magnificent " spread," free to all members, in one 
of the Committee-rooms, paid for by a levy of five dollars 
per head from the regiment of underlings who hoped thus to 
secure their " usual " gratuity ; giving each a net profit on 
the investment of two hundred and forty-five dollars. After 
the House had been duly mellowed and warmed, a resolve 
to pay the "usual extra compensation" was sprung, but 
failed, two thirds in the affirmative being necessary to 
effect the requisite suspension of the rules. Nothing daunted, 
the operators drew off to repair damages ; and soon there was 
moved a resolve to pay the chaplain of the House his stipend 
from the Contingent Fund, and to suspend the rules to accord 
this resolve an immediate consideration. 

"I object, Mr. Speaker," I at once interposed; "we all 
know that the chaplain s salary has not been left unprovided 
for to this time. This is a ruse, I call for the Yeas and 
Nays on suspending the rules." 

" Shame ! shame ! " rose and reverberated on every side ; 
" don t keep the chaplain out of his hard-earned money ! Re 
fuse the Yeas and Nays ! " 



230 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

They were accordingly refused ; the rules were indignantly 
suspended, and the resolution received.. 

" And now, Mr. Speaker," said the member who had been 
cast for this part, " I move to amend the resolve before us by 
adding the usual extra compensation to the sub-clerks, door 
keepers, and other employes of the House." 

No sooner said than done; debate was cut off, and the 
amendment prevailed. The resolve, as amended, was rushed 
through ; and our employes pocketed their two hundred and 
fifty dollars each, less the five dollars so recently and judi 
ciously invested as aforesaid. 

I was placed by the Speaker on the Committee on Public 
Lands, whereof Judge Collamer of Vermont was chairman, 
and which was mainly composed of worthy, upright men, 
intent on standing up for public right against private greed. 
Various fair-seeming bills and claims came before us, some 
of which had passed the Senate, yet which we put our heel 
on as barefaced robberies. Virginia land-claims (for addi 
tional bounty lands to her Eevolutionary soldiers), a pre 
emption to part of Eock Island, a preemption claim to 
Eelgrass Island, etc., were among the jobs remorselessly 
slaughtered by us : our self-complacency not to say, self- 
conceit steadily augmenting. At length, there came along 
a meek, innocent-looking stranger, by whom we were nicely 
taken in and thoroughly done for. It was a bill to cede to 
the several New States (so called) such portions of the unsold 
public lands within their limits respectively as were sub 
merged or sodden, and thus rendered useless and pestilential, 
- that is, swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, etc. These lands, we 
were told, were not merely worthless while undrained : they 
bred fevers, ague, and all manner of zymotic diseases, shorten 
ing the lives of the pioneers, and rendering good lands adja 
cent unhealthy and worthless. But cede these swamp lands 
to the States including them respectively, on condition that 
they should sell them and devote the proceeds to draining 
and improving them, and everything would be lovely, the 
neighboring dry lands would sell readily, and the Treasury be 



CONGRESS AS IT WAS. 231 

generously replenished, etc. There was never a cat rolled 
whiter in meal ; and I, for one, was completely duped. As I 
recollect, the bill did not pass at that session; but we re 
ported strongly in its favor ; and that report, doubtless, aided 
to carry the measure through the next Congress. The con 
sequence was a reckless and fraudulent transfer to certain 
States of millions on millions of choice public lands, whole 
sections of which had not muck enough on their surface to 
accommodate a single fair-sized frog ; while the appropriation 
of the proceeds to draining proved a farce and a sham. The 
lands went, all of them that had standing water enough on 
a square mile of their surface to float a duck in March, with 
a good deal more beside ; while never a shake of ague has any 
pioneer been spared by reason of all the drainage done 
under this specious act. I can only hope that some of us 
learned a wholesome lesson of distrust. 

The last night of a session is usually a long one ; and ours 
was not only long, but excited. The two Houses were at 
variance : The House desiring (at least, voting) to prohibit 
the introduction of Slavery into the vast territories just then 
acquired from Mexico ; the Senate dissenting from that 
policy. Of course, we who voted for the restriction could 
not carry it through nor over the Senate. But that body 
was not content to stand on the defensive : it attached to the 
great Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation bill (since divided) 
a provision for the organization of the new Territories, of 
course, without the restriction against Slavery, and, in 
effect, said to us, "You shall agree to this, or the new [Taylor] 
Administration shall not have a dollar to spend after the 1st 
of July ensuing." We had one or two conferences by com 
mittee ; but neither House would give way. Finally, the 
bill came back to us on this last evening, the Senate in 
sisting on its Territorial amendment. Each side had rallied 
in full force (there were but three of all the representatives 
chosen from the Slave States who were not in their seats), 
and we were morally certain to be beaten on a motion to 
recede, three or four weak brethren changing their votes 



232 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

rather than leave the Government penniless ; when some one 
on our side I believe it was Eichard W. Thompson of 
Indiana got in a motion to concur, with an amendment. 
This amendment accepted the Senate s project of organizing 
the new Territories, barely adding a stipulation that the exist 
ing laws thereof should remain in force till changed ty consent 
of Congress. (The existing laws were those of Mexico, and 
forbade Slavery.) This motion prevailed (as I recollect, the 
vote on one important division stood one hundred and eleven 
to one hundred and ten), and completely changed the whole 
aspect of the matter. The pro-Slavery men were now as 
anxious to expunge the Territorial clause as they had previ 
ously been determined to insert it at all hazards ; and the 
Senate struck out its cherished provision, and let the Appro 
priation bill pass as it originally was, leaving the question of 
Slavery in the new Territories as a legacy of trouble to the 
incoming Administration. Never was a parliamentary move 
more clever than that motion to concur with an amendment. 
When it had been carried through our House, and while 
the Senate was chewing upon it, there ensued a hiatus or 
interregnum, the House having really nothing to do but 
wait. At such times, any member who has a pet project or 
bill asks a suspension of the rules in favor of its considera 
tion. Among these motions was one by Mr. Eobert W. Johnson 
of Arkansas, who wished the House to consider a bill provid 
ing payment for horses lost by his constituents while acting 
as volunteers in Indian wars. His motion to suspend the 
rules failed ; when I drew from my drawer a resolve, which 
had lain there for weeks, proposing that our country take the 
general name of COLUMBIA, in honor of the great discoverer. 
I was making a few remarks introductory to my motion to 
suspend the rules, which I knew would be defeated, when, 
as the affair was afterward explained to me, Mr. E. W. John 
son, my predecessor on the floor, turned upon Mr. 0. B. Fick- 
lin of Illinois, who sat very near him, and angrily said : 
" Ficklin, why do you always oppose any motion I make ? " 
" I did not oppose your motion," was the prompt and true 



CONGRESS AS IT WAS. 233 

reply. " You lie ! " rejoined Johnson, whose powers of obser 
vation were not then in their best estate, and he sprang for 
ward as though to clutch Ficklin ; when Mr. Samuel W. Inge 
of Alabama rushed upon the latter, and struck him two or 
three blows with a cane. " Order ! Order ! Sergeant-at- 
arrns, do your duty ! " interposed the Speaker ; and the affray 
was promptly arrested. " Why, Inge, what did you fall upon 
Ficklin for ? " inquired one of his neighbors ; Ficklin being an 
intensely pro-Slavery Democrat, as were Inge and Johnson. 
" Why, I thought," explained Inge, " that the fight between 
the North and the South had commenced, and I might as 
well pitch in." I did not hear him say this ; but it was re 
ported to me directly afterward, and I have no doubt that he 
said and thought so. 

Mr. Giddings went over to the Democratic side of the 
House that night, and made some jocular remark to an ac 
quaintance on the change of aspect since we had made and 
sustained our motion to concur with an amendment, when 
he was assaulted, and was glad to get away quite rapidly. I 
am confident I could not have passed quietly through that 
side of the House between ten and two o clock of that night 
without being assaulted ; and, had I resisted, beaten within 
an inch of my life, if not killed outright. Yet I had proposed 
nothing, said nothing, on the exciting topic ; I was obnoxious 
only because I was presumed earnestly hostile to Slavery. 

I believe it was just 7 A. M. of the 4th of March, 1849, 
the day of General Taylor s inauguration, when the two 
Houses, having finished all the inevitable business of the 
session, were adjourned without day, and I walked down to 
my hotel, free thenceforth to mind my own business. I have 
not since been a member, nor held any post under the Federal 
Government ; it is not likely that I shall ever again hold one ; 
yet I look back upon those three months I spent in Congress 
as among the most profitably employed of any in the course 
of my life. I saw things from a novel point of view ; and, if 
I came away from the Capitol no wiser than I went thither, 
the fault was entirely my own. 



XXVIII. 

GLAMOUR. 

I BELIEVE I heard vaguely of what were called " The 
Rochester Knockings" soon after they were first pro 
claimed, or testified to, in the Spring of 1848 ; but they did 
not attract my attention till, during a. brief absence from New 
York, perhaps while in Congress, I perused a connected, 
circumstantial account of the alleged phenomena, signed by 
several prominent citizens of Rochester, and communicated 
by them to The Tribune, wherein I read it. It made little 
impression on my mind, though I never had that repugnance 
to, or stubborn incredulity regarding, occurrences called super 
natural which is evinced by many. My consciousness of 
ignorance of the extent or limitations of the natural is so vivid, 
that I never could realize that difficulty in crediting what are 
termed miracles, which many affirm. Doubtless, the first per 
son who observed the attraction of iron by the magnet sup 
posed he had stumbled upon a contradiction to, or violation 
of, the laws of nature, when he had merely enlarged his own 
acquaintance with natural phenomena. The fly that sees a 
rock lifted from its bed may fancy himself witness of a mira 
cle, when what he sees is merely the interposition of a power, 
the action of a force, which transcends his narrow conceptions, 
his ephemeral experience. I know so very little of nature, 
that I cannot determine at a glance what is or is not super 
natural ; but I know that things do occur which are decidedly 
superusual, and I rest in the fact without being able, or feeling 
required, to explain it. 

I believe that it was early in 1850 that the Fox family, in 



GLAMOUR. 235 

which the so-called Knockings had first occurred or been 
noted, first at the little hamlet known as Hydesville, near 
Newark, Wayne Co., N. Y., came to New York, and stopped 
at a hotel, where I called upon them, and heard the so-called 
" raps," but was neither edified nor enlightened thereby. 
Nothing transpired beyond the " rappings " : which, even if 
deemed inexplicable, did not much interest me. In fact, I 
should have regretted that any of my departed ones had been 
impelled to address me in the presence and hearing of the 
motley throng of strangers gathered around the table on which 
the " raps " were generally made. 

I had no desire for a second " sitting," and might never have 
had one ; but my wife then specially and deeply interested 
in all that pertains to the unseen world, because of the recent 
loss of our darling " Pickie " visited the Foxes twice or 
thrice at their hotel, and invited them thence to spend some 
week or so with her at our house. There, along with much 
that seemed trivial, unsatisfactory, and unlike what might 
naturally be expected from the land of souls, I received some 
responses to my questions of a very remarkable character, 
evincing knowledge of occurrences of which no one, not an 
inmate of our family in former years, could well have been 
cognizant. Most of these could have no significance or co 
gency to strangers ; but one of them seems worth narrating. 

It was the second or third day after the Foxes came to our 
house. I had worked very hard and late at the office the 
night before, reaching home after all others were in bed ; so I 
did not rise till all had had breakfast and had gone out, my wife 
included. When I rose at last, I took a book, and, reading 
on a lounge in our front parlor, soon fell into an imperfect 
doze, during which there called a Mrs. Freeman, termed a 
clairvoyant, from Boston, with her husband and an invalid 
gentleman. They had together visited Niagara Falls, had 
seen the Foxes at Eochester on their way ; and now, return 
ing, had sought them at their hotel, and followed them thence 
to our house. As they did not inquire for me, being unaware 
of, as well as indifferent to, my presence in the house, they 



236 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

were shown into the back parlor, separated by sliding-doors 
from that in which I was, and they there awaited the return 
of the Foxes, which occurred in about half an hour. The 
sliding-doors being imperfectly closed, I drowsily heard the 
strangers urge the Foxes to accompany them to their hotel ; 
saying, " We feel like intruders here." This impelled me to 
rise and go into the back parlor, in order to make the stran 
gers welcome. Mrs. Freeman had been already, or was soon 
afterward, magnetized by her husband into the state termed 
clairvoyance, wherein she professed to see spirits related to 
those who were put into magnetic rapport with her. What 
she reported as of or from those spirits might be ever so true 
or false for aught / know. At length merely to make the 
strangers feel more at their ease I said, " Mr. Freeman, may 
not / be put into communication with spirits through Mrs. 
Freeman ? " to which he readily assented, placed my hand in 
hers, made a few passes, and bade me ask such questions as I 
would. As she had just reported the presence of spirit broth 
ers and sisters of others, I asked, " Mrs. Freeman, do you see 
any brothers or sisters of mine in the spirit world ? " She 
gazed a minute intently, then responded, " Yes, there is one ; 
his name is Horace," and then proceeded to describe a child 
quite circumstantially. I made no remark when she had con 
cluded, though it seemed to me a very wild guess, even had 
.she known that I had barely one departed brother, that his 
name was identical with my own, though such was the fact. 
I resumed, " Mrs. Freeman, do you see any more brothers or 
sisters of mine in the spirit world ? " She looked again as 
before ; then eagerly said, " Yes, there is another ; her name 
is Anna no her name is Almira no (perplexedly), I 
cannot get the name exactly, yet it begins with A." Now 
the only sister I ever lost was named Arminda, and she, as 
well as my brother, died before I was born, he being three, 
and she scarcely two, years old. They were buried in a se 
cluded rural graveyard in Bedford, N. H., about sixty years 
ago, and no stone marks their resting-place. Even my wife 
did not know their names, and certainly no one else present 



GLAMOUR. 237 

but myself did. And, if Mrs. Freeman obtained one of these 
names from my mind (as one theory affirms) why not the other 
as well ? since each was there as clearly as the other. 

Not long after this, I had called on Mademoiselle Jenny Lind, 
then a new-comer among us, and was conversing about the 
current marvel with the late N. P. Willis, while Mademoiselle 
Lind was devoting herself more especially to some other call 
ers. Our conversation caught Mademoiselle Lind s ear, and 
arrested her attention ; so, after making some inquiries, she 
asked if she could witness the so-called " Manifestations." 

I answered that she could do so by coming to my house in 
the heart of the city, as Katy Fox was then staying with us. 
She assented, and a time was fixed for her call ; at which 
time she appeared, with a considerable retinue of total stran 
gers. All were soon seated around a table, and the "rappings" 
were soon audible and abundant. "Take your hands from 
under the table ! " Mademoiselle Jenny called across to me 
in the tone and manner of an indifferently bold archduchess. 
" What ? " I asked, not distinctly comprehending her. " Take 
your hands from under the table ! " she imperiously repeated ; 
and I now understood that she suspected me of causing, by 
some legerdemain, the puzzling concussions. I instantly 
clasped my hands over my head, and there kept them until 
the sitting closed, as it did very soon. I need hardly add 
that this made not the smallest difference with the "rap- 
pings " ; but I was thoroughly and finally cured of any desire 
to exhibit or commend them to strangers. 

Not long afterward, I witnessed what I strongly suspected 
to be a juggle or trick on the part of a " medium," which gave 
me a disrelish for the whole business, and I have seen very 
little of it since. I never saw a " spirit hand," though persons 
in whose veracity I have full confidence assure me that they 
have done so. (I do not say that they were or were not de 
luded or mistaken.) But I have sat with three others around 
a small table, with every one of our eight hands lying plainly, 
palpably, on that table, and heard rapid writing with a pencil 
on paper, which, perfectly white, we had just previously 



238 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

placed under that table ; and have, the next minute, picked 
up that paper with a sensible, straightforward message of 
twenty to fifty words fairly written thereon. I do not say by 
whom, or by what, said message was written ; yet I am quite 
confident that none of the persons present, who were visible 
to mortal eyes, wrote it. 

And here let me deal with the hypothesis of jugglery, knee- 
joint rattling, toe-cracking, &c. I have no doubt that pre 
tended " mediums " have often amazed their visitors by feats 
of jugglery, indeed, I am confident that I have been pres 
ent when they did so. In so far as the hypothesis of spirit 
agency rests on the integrity of the "mediums," I cannot 
deem it established. Most of them are persons of no especial 
moral elevation ; and I know that more than one of them has 
endeavored to simulate " raps " when the genuine could not be 
evoked. Let us assume, then, that the "raps" prove just 
nothing at all beyond the bare fact that sounds have often 
been produced by some agency or impulse which we do not 
fully understand, and that all the physical phenomena have 
been, or may be, simulated or paralleled by such jugglers as 
Houdin, Blitz, the Fakir of Ava, &c. But the amazing sleight 
of hand of these accomplished performers is the result of pro 
tracted, laborious training, by predecessors nearly or quite as 
adroit and dexterous as themselves ; while the " mediums " are 
often children of tender years, who had no such training, have 
no special dexterity, and some of whom are known to be 
awkward and clumsy in their movements. The jugglery hy 
pothesis utterly fails to account for occurrences which I have 
personally witnessed, to say nothing of others. 

Nor can I unreservedly accept the hypothesis which as 
cribes the so-called "spiritual" phenomena to a demoniac 
origin. That might account satisfactorily for some of them, 
but not for all. For instance : In the township of Wayne, 
Erie Co., Pa., near the house of my father and brother, there 
lived, twelve or fifteen years ago, a farmer well known to me, 
named King, who had many good traits, and one bad habit, 
that of keeping a barrel of whiskey in his house, and dealing 



GLAMOUR. 239 

out the villanous fluid at so much per quart or pint to his 
thirsty neighbors. Having recently lost a beloved daughter, 
he had recourse to " spiritualism," (abominable term !) and 
received many messages from what purported to be his lost 
child, one or more of which insisted that the aforesaid 
whiskey-barrel must be expelled from his premises, and never 
reinstated. So said, so done, greatly to the benefit of the 
neighborhood. Now, I feel confident that the Devil never 
sent nor dictated that message ; for, if he did, his character 
has been grossly belied, and his biography ought to be re 
written. 

The failures of the " mediums " were more convincing to 
my mind than their successes. A juggler can do nearly as 
well at one time as another ; but I have known the most emi 
nent " mediums " spend a long evening in trying to evoke the 
" spiritual phenomena," without a gleam of success. I have 
known this to occur when they were particularly anxious 
and for obviously good reasons to astound and convince 
those who were present and expectant ; yet not even the 
faintest " rap " could they scare up. Had they been jugglers, 
they could not have failed so utterly, ignominiously. 

But, while the sterile " sittings " contributed quite as much 
as the other sort to convince me that the " rappings " were 
not all imposture and fraud, they served decidedly to disin 
cline me to devote my time to what is called " investigation." 
To sit for two dreary, mortal hours in a darkened room, in a 
mixed company, waiting for some one s disembodied grand 
father or aunt to tip a table or rap on a door, is dull music at 
best ; but so to sit in vain is disgusting. 

I close with a few general deductions from all I have seen 
or known of " spirit-rapping." 

I. Those who discharge promptly and faithfully all their 
duties to those who " still live " in the flesh can have little 
time for poking and peering into the life beyond the grave. 
Better attend to each world in its proper order. 

II. Those who claim, through the " mediums," to be Shake 
speare, Milton, Byron, &c., and try to prove it by writing 



240 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

poetry, invariably come to grief. I cannot recall a line of 
" spiritual " poetry that is not weak, if not execrable, save that 
of Eev. Thomas L. Harris, who is a poet still in the flesh. 
After he dies, I predict that the poetry sent us as his will be 
much worse than he ever wrote while in the body. Even 
Tupper, appalling as is the prospect, will be dribbling worse 
rhymes upon us after death than even lie perpetrated while on 
earth. 

III. As a general rule, the so-called " spiritual communica 
tions " are vague, unreal, shadowy, trivial. They are not 
what we should expect our departed friends to say to us. I 
never could feel that the lost relative or friend who professed 
to be addressing me was actually present. I do not doubt 
that foolish, trifling people remain so (measurably) after they 
have passed the dark river ; I perceive that trivial questions 
must necessarily invite trivial answers ; but, after making all 
due allowance, I insist that the "spiritual" literature of the 
day, in so far as it purports to consist of communications or 
revelations from the future life, is more inane and trashy 
than it could be if the sages and heroes, the saints and poets, 
of by-gone days were really speaking to us through these pre 
tended revelations. 

IV. Not only is it true (as we should in any case presume) 
that nearly all attempts of the so-called " mediums " to guide 
speculators as to events yet future have proved melancholy 
failures, but it is demonstrated that the so-called " spirits " 
are often ignorant of events which have already transpired. 
They did not help fish up the broken Atlantic Cable, nor find 
Sir John Franklin, nor dispel the mystery which still shrouds 
the fae of the crew and passengers of the doomed steamship 
President, and so of a thousand instances wherein their 
presumed knowledge might have been of use to us darkly 
seeing mortals. All that we have learned of them has added 
little or nothing to our knowledge, unless it be in enabling 
us to answer with more confidence that old, momentous ques 
tion, " If a man die, shall he live again ? " 

V. On the whole (though I say it with regret) it seems to 



GLAMOUR. 241 

me that the great body of the " Spiritualists " have not been 
rendered better men ancl women better husbands, wives, 
parents, children by their new faith. I think some have 
been improved by it, while many who were previously 
good are good still, and some have morally deteriorated. I 
judge that laxer notions respecting Marriage, Divorce, Chas 
tity, and stern Morality generally, have advanced in the wake 
of " Spiritualism." And, while I am fully aware that religious 
mania so-called has usually a purely material origin, so that 
revivals have often been charged with making persons insane 
whose insanity took its hue from the topic of the hour, but 
owed its existence to purely physical causes, I still judge that 
the aggregate of both Insanity and Suicide has been increased 
by " Spiritualism." 

VI. I do not know that these "communications" made 
through " mediums " proceed from those who are said to be 
their authors, nor from the spirits of the departed at all. Cer 
tain developments strongly indicate that they do ; others, that 
they do not. We know that they say they do, which is evi 
dence so far as it goes, and is not directly contradicted or re 
butted. That some of them are the result of juggle, collusion, 
or trick, I am confident ; that others are not, I decidedly be 
lieve. The only certain conclusion in the premises to which 
my mind has been led is forcibly set forth by Shakespeare 
in the words of the Danish prince : 

" There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." 

VII. I find my " spiritual " friends nowise less bigoted, less 
intolerant, than the devotees at other shrines. They do not 
allow me to see through my own eyes, but insist that I shall 
see through theirs. If my conclusion from certain data differs 
from theirs, they will not allow my stupidity to account for 
our difference, but insist on attributing it to hypocrisy, or some 
other form of rascality. I cannot reconcile this harsh judg 
ment with their professions of liberality, their talk of philos 
ophy. But, if I speak at all, I must report what I see and 
hear. 

16 



XXIX. 

LAKE SUPERIOR. MINING. CHICAGO. THE PRAIRIES. 

ABOUT the year 1836, when the Territory of Michigan was 
crystallizing into a State, there arose a dispute between 
her and Ohio concerning a small but important corner, which 
included the then village now city of Toledo. Military 
or rather militia demonstrations were made on both 
sides, wherein much whiskey was consumed, but no blood 
shed ; and at length the vastly preponderant weight of Ohio 
in the national councils prevailed, and insured her the peace 
ful possession of the contested corner ; while Michigan was 
indifferently consoled by the preposterous addition to her natu 
ral area of a vast, wild region lying north and northwest of 
Lake Michigan, since known as her " Upper Peninsula." This 
region, when it came to be surveyed and mapped for settle 
ment, proved rich in superficial indications of mineral wealth, 
mainly Copper and Iron ; and a small crowd of adventurers 
rushed thither in quest of suddenly acquired riches, in the 
Summer or Fall of 1844. The early closing of navigation on 
Lake Superior and the St. Mary s Eiver compelled a part of 
these to remain on Keewenaw Point throughout the ensuing 
Winter ; and, being without advices from elsewhere later than 
the preceding August or September, the Whig portion of this 
crowd celebrated, on the 4th of March, 1845, Mr. Clay s pre 
sumed inauguration as President, an inauguration which, 
unhappily, failed to come off, as they sanguinely believed it 
would do, nay, did, because it should have done. When 
Spring opened, several of them came down, bringing won 
drous accounts of the riches of the Superior region in copper 



LAKE SUPERIOR. MINING. 243 

and silver, if not also in gold, and organized in our city several 
companies for the development of the wealth thus laid open 
to human appropriation. An old backwoodsman, named 
Bailey, who had heard my name, possibly, read my paper, 
had set apart for me some stock in a projected company, 
to be located on a copper- vein or outcrop of his discovery ; 
requesting me to act in his behalf as a trustee or director of 
said company ; to which I, in my yet complete ignorance of 
mining, acceded. For some three years thereafter, I acted 
accordingly; coaxing several assessments from unwilling stock 
holders who, in their primeval innocence, had expected to 
receive dividends from their stock instead of paying assess 
ments thereon), and applying the proceeds, as well as I could, 
to the opening of our mine. At length, in the Spring of 1847, 
I made a business visit to our property, taking along the 
gold required to pay off our workmen, and buying at Detroit 
a yoke of oxen, a supply of hay and grain, a good stock of 
provisions, &c., &c., and taking them with me to their and my 
destination. 

I had never before been farther in that direction than De 
troit ; and this journey considerably enlarged my acquaint 
ance with the northwest. Lake Huron was shrouded in fog 
and mist, and our steamboat traversed its entire length slowly 
and cautiously; thence feeling our way up the St. Mary s 
only by daylight, the channel being too shallow, rocky, and 
intricate for navigation by night. At the Sault Ste. Marie 
we found a small but smart young village, to whose assem 
bled inhabitants two of us made temperance addresses, which 
I think some of them needed ; and, when our goods had been 
wagoned across the portage, we took the only old propeller 
which had, as yet, been got across and launched on Lake 
Superior, and started up the lake : but it soon came on to 
blow a fair, fresh breeze, which was too much for our rickety 
craft ; and her captain (very properly) ran her behind Point 
Keewenaw, and lay there some thirty hours, while we pas 
sengers traversed the coast for a mile or so, picking agates 
and other fancied, curious bits of fragmentary rock from the 



244 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

enormous quantity of pebbles which filled, almost to the ex 
clusion of sand, the narrow strip of debatable ground between 
land and water. Next day the wind having lulled we 
rounded the Point, and ran down its longer (northwest) coast 
to Eagle Harbor ; where, in default of piers, my oxen had to 
be pushed off the steamboat into the ice-cold water, and com 
pelled to swim ashore ; my goods being taken off in a small 
boat. That was the 15th of June ; and the shallow water of 
the harbor was frozen over next morning for some distance 
from shore. There were possibly two hundred acres in all 
then cleared of timber on Keewenaw Point, a dozen of them 
adjoining this harbor, which, but for that clearing and the 
two taverns located thereon, remained very much as when 
Indians alone possessed or approached it. During the bright, 
warm day that followed that night s hard frost I made my 
way through the dense woods, unbroken save by our rough 
road, to our location, some six miles east of the harbor, and 
six hundred feet above it, where I paid off our men, and next 
day made, with others, an excursion of ten or twelve miles to 
the Bohemian and other kindred locations across the Point on 
Bay de Gris, and back again to our place in the afternoon, 
a pedestrian journey of hardly more than twenty miles in all ; 
yet across such a succession of brooks, bogs, and other impedi 
ments, that I unused these sixteen years to walking more 
than an hour per day was utterly fagged out, and fell my 
full length repeatedly in the course of the last two miles. 
Thence I visited, in the course of the next three or four days, 
the locations farther down the point, then known as Copper 
Falls, Pittsburg and Boston (Cliff), National, Forsyth, &c., 
encountering especially around Sand Bay denser and 
more ferocious clouds of mosquitoes and gnats than ever before 
or since presented me their bills, and insisted on immediate 
satisfaction. I remember an instance in which several of us 
fled half a mile from their haunts to a hut, which we filled 
with a thick and pungent smoke, with very little abatement 
of their numbers or their appetite. 

The Point was not, in those days, calculated to attract a 



LAKE SUPERIOR. MINING. 245 

Sybarite, nor even a gourmand ; yet its white-fish and lake 
trout relieved admirably the more usual and quite substantial 
fare of pork, bread, beans, and potatoes ; there were speckled 
trout in its multitudinous brooks for those who had time to 
catch them ; while the prevailing forest of yellow pine, maple, 
beach, &c., covered a soil generally well adapted to potatoes, 
turnips, grass, &c., though not to the grains most acceptable 
for human food. Winter wheat or rye was generally smoth 
ered by the snows, which began to fall early in November, and 
kept coming till the aggregate fall often exceeded thirty 
feet, the whole being settled meantime to a medium depth 
of six to seven feet. Sometimes, they said, a chopper, who 
fell from the trunk he was cutting in two, seemed in danger 
of disappearing, and being smothered in earth s fleecy vesture. 
Indian corn could rarely be matured : the nights, even in 
midsummer, being so sharp that seldom did a mosquito ven 
ture to pursue his human (or other) prey much after sunset. 
No copper of any account had yet been obtained from any 
but the Pittsburg or Cliff mine, nor was any of consequence 
shipped from the Point, save as aforesaid, while I was inter 
ested there. Shareholders, who had raised their $ 10,000 to 
$ 50,000 in fond expectation of early returns, found in time 
that every cent, and generally more, had been expended in 
constructing a rude pier whereon to land their supplies, 
cutting a road thence to their location, building a few rude 
shanties, drawing up their tools, powder, edibles, &c., and 
beginning to scratch the earth; another, and still another 
assessment being required, not to secure returns, but to sink 
a shaft on the vein far enough to determine that they had any 
ore or metal to mine. By this time, their patience, or their 
faith, or their means, had generally failed, and they were ready 
to sell out for a song, or abandon the enterprise in despair 
and disgust. Such is, in essence, the history of most mining 
enterprises on Lake Superior ; and I suspect it is not essen 
tially different elsewhere. I presume there were not in 1859 
so many deserted habitations throughout all the rest of our 
country as in California and the adjacent mining districts ; and 



246 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

some of these were quite decent houses. All I ever realized 
by mining was a conviction that digging Gold, or Silver, or 
Copper, or Iron, or best of all Coal, is a fair business for 
those who bring to and invest in it the requisite capacity, 
knowledge, capital, experience, perseverance, and good luck, 
and that the rarely encountered " big strikes " are as one to a 
million. As a rule, there are many easier ways of gaining 
gold than digging it from the earth ; yet let all dig who will. 
The possibility of large and sudden gains gives to the business 
that element of chance or gaming which so fascinates the 
average mind ; yet, if all the gold-diggers on earth were to 
work faithfully throughout next year, and exchange their 
products respectively for wheat, I doubt that their recompense 
would average a peck each per day. And what is true of gold 
is nearly or quite so of copper, and of most other minerals as 
well. 

I may here say that I made another journey to Lake Supe 
rior on the same errand the next year (1848), but considerably 
later in the season, or at the close of August, when encourag 
ing progress had been made since my previous visit. I now 
tested an assertion which I had repeatedly heard, but never 
believed, that, except in certain shallow bays, and even 
there only after a succession of hot, still days, the water of 
that lake is too cold to bathe in. Going alone to the headland 
west of Eagle Harbor, on a bright Summer noon, when a fresh 
northern breeze was rolling in a very fair surf, I stripped and 
plunged in ; but was driven out as by a legion of infuriated 
hornets. The water was too cold to be endured ; and I never 
thereafter doubted the current assertion, that a hot day was 
never known on that Lake at a distance of a mile or more 
from land. 

On this second visit, I waited and watched a day at the 
mouth of Eagle River, while our propeller made a gallant fight 
for dear life against a very moderate gale. She had failed to 
get in ; if, indeed, it were safe to do so, did not dare to go 
out boldly, if she could, but, with both anchors down and 
full steam up, lay head to the wind, and did her best to hold 



CHICAGO. THE PRAIRIES. 247 

her ground and resist being drifted on the rugged rocks at 
length barely two or three hundred yards astern. She dragged 
her anchors steadily, in spite of her best efforts, but slowly ; 
so that we, expectant passengers ashore, took observations on 
her from hour to hour, and predicted that she would or would 
not ride out the gale. She did it handsomely, however ; and, 
the next morning, her boat took us off, shipping a sea midway 
back to her that thoroughly drenched and nearly swamped us. 
Once on board, she weighed anchor and put out ; and, in a 
few hours, I had looked my last (as yet) on the bold shores 
of the Father of Lakes, which stand forth green and fair in 
my memory evermore. 

My earlier trip to the upper Lakes was concluded by a 
visit, per steamboat, ma Mackinac, Sheboygan, and Milwaukee, 
to Chicago, then a smart and growing village, where some 
thousands of us gathered from the East and from the West 
in a grand Eiver and Harbor Convention, which was organized 
on the 4th of July, 1847. Edward Bates, of St. Louis, who 
had been in Congress twenty years before, and is still living, 
more than twenty years afterward, was President of that 
Convention, and made from the chair a magnificent speech 
on our country s progress, genius, and destiny. Other able 
and good men were there, and many good speeches were made ; 
but Mr. Bates s alone commanded general admiration. I pre 
sume that the cause of Internal Improvement, with the sub 
sequent growth of Chicago, received a considerable impetus 
from that Convention. 

When it had closed its deliberations, Mr. John Y. Scammon, 
then a rising young lawyer, since an eminent banker of Chi 
cago, took his carriage and pair, and drove with me for three 
days over the prairies west of that city ; crossing Fox Eiver, 
at Geneva, proceeding to what is now Sycamore, and returning 
by Elgin to the City of the Lakes. I had, eight years earlier, 
traversed eastern Michigan, and there made the acquaintance 
of what were called " wet prairies," by which I had not been 
fascinated. But the prairies of Illinois are of another order ; 
and, though by no means that dead, unbroken level which 



248 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

many suppose them, but cut up by brook-beds, sloughs, and 
roads, which were merely wagon-tracks in a deep, black soil, 
wore a generally delightful aspect. Forests were less frequent 
than seemed desirable; but "openings," or scattered trees, 
were never out of sight ; and the small and scanty settlements 
were usually surrounded by promising fields of wheat and 
Indian corn. I presume we did not see one human habitation 
where a traveller over our route would now see fifty ; while 
the average value or cost of the rude cabins we passed would 
hardly exceed $ 200, where that of the present houses would 
reach at least $ 2,000. Teamsters conveying grain to Chicago, 
or returning with lumber, we frequently met ; yet inns were 
decidedly scarce; since few teamsters could afford to pay 
money for food or shelter, while the great mass stopped for rest 
or meals under almost any tree, turned out their horses to 
graze, or fed them from their wagons, while they ate of the 
substantial, wholesome food they had brought from home. I 
was told that a load of wheat taken sixty miles to Chicago in 
those days just about paid for a return load of fence-boards, 
leaving the farmer who made the exchange little or nothing 
wherewith to pay tavern-bills. Few of the early pioneers of 
Illinois took thither more than a fair wagon-load of worldly 
gear and $100 in money; many lacked he SI 00, and had 
but half a load of household stuff in the wagon, the other 
half being composed of wife and children ; yet all found some 
how enough to eat, and did not suffer intolerably from cold : 
and now those children enjoy comforts and may revel in lux 
uries which their parents scarcely aspired to. Do they realize 
and fitly honor the self-forgetting courage and devotion to 
which they are so deeply indebted ? 



Milwaukee was then a smart but struggling country village, 
consisting of some three to four hundred new houses clus 
tered about a steamboat-landing at the mouth of a shallow, 
crooked creek. Wisconsin had then less than One Hundred 
Thousand inhabitants, which the twenty subsequent years 



. CHICAGO. THE PRAIRIES. 249 

have increased to nearly or quite One Million. Sheboygan 
was then relatively of far greater consequence and promise 
than now; but, going back thence a dozen miles inland to 
visit my father s brother, Leonard, I was traversing the wil 
derness within two miles from the steamboat-landing, and I 
travelled under the shade of the primitive forest through most 
of the succeeding ten miles. But the soil was generally good, 
and the timber excellent, being largely composed of Hickory, 
Elm, and other valuable trees ; while the clearings, though 
new and small, were full of promise, not only in their thick 
set, velvet grass, and their springing grain, but in their wealth 
of rugged, active, coarsely clad, but intelligent, vigorous chil 
dren. Wisconsin has scarcely been surpassed by any State 
in her subsequent growth in population, production, and 
wealth ; and I predict that the close of this century will see 
her the home of Three Millions of people as energetic, indus 
trious, worthy, and happy, as any on earth. 

At that time, no mile of railroad terminated in Chicago, 
and barely one line (the Michigan Central) pointed directly 
at that young city. Even this one proposed to stop at New 
Buffalo (mouth of St. Joseph s Eiver), its passengers reaching 
thence its present proper terminus by steamboat in Summer, 
and by stage-coach in Winter. Of course, they soon saw 
reason to change their plans ; and New Buffalo, deserted, 
became one of our many American victims of blighted hopes. 
Yet, after years of desolation, her denizens have discovered 
that their district is admirably adapted to peach-culture ; the 
cold, northwest winds of later Autumn and Winter reaching 
them softened by passing over the adjacent lake, and so leav 
ing her fruit-buds unblighted by their shrivelling breath. 
Landing here from Chicago, I took stage to Kalamazoo, or 
thereabout, where we met a just-completed section of the 
Michigan Central, on which I was brought to Detroit, and 
thence came homeward by steamboat to Buffalo, railroad to 
Albany, and steamboat to this city. 



XXX. 

THE GREAT SENATORS. THE COMPROMISE OF 1850. 

OUK great triumvirate Clay, Webster, Calhoun kst 
appeared together in public life in the Senate of 
1849 - 50 : the two former figuring conspicuously in the de 
bates which preluded and resulted in what was termed the 
Compromise of that year, Mr. Calhoun dying as they had 
fairly opened, and Messrs. Clay and Webster not long after 
their close. This chapter is, therefore, in some sort, my hum 
ble tribute to their genius and their just renown. 

I best knew and loved Henry Clay: he was by nature 
genial, cordial, courteous, gracious, magnetic, winning. When 
General Glascock, of Georgia, took his seat in Congress as a 
Bepresentative, a mutual friend asked, " General, may I intro 
duce you to Henry Clay ? " " No, sir ! " was the stern re 
sponse ; " I am his adversary, and choose not to subject my 
self to his fascination." I think it would have been hard to 
constitute for three or four years a legislative body whereof 
Mr. Clay was a member, and not more than four sevenths 
were his pledged, implacable opponents, whereof he would 
not have been the master-spirit, and the author and inspirer 
of most of its measures, after the first or second year. 
(~* Mr. Webster was colder, graver, sterner, in his general bear 
ing ; though he could unbend and be sunny and blithe in his 
intercourse with those admitted to his intimacy. There were 
few gayer or more valued associates on a fishing or sailing 
party. His mental calibre was much the larger; I judge 
that he had read and studied more ; though neither could boast 
much erudition, nor even intense application. I believe each 



THE GREAT SENATORS. 251 

was about thirty years in Congress, where Mr. Clay identified 
his name with the origin or success of at least half a dozen 
important measures to every one thus blended with Mr. Web 
ster s. Though Webster s was far the more massive intellect, 
Mr. Clay as a legislator evinced far the greater creative, con 
structive power. I once sat in the Senate Chamber when 
Mr. Douglas, who had just been transferred from the House, 
rose, to move forward a bill in which he was interested. 
" We have no such practice in the Senate, sir," said Mr. Web 
ster, in his deep, solemn voice, fixing his eye on the mover, 
but without rising from his seat. Mr. Douglas at once varied 
his motion, seeking to achieve his end in a somewhat different 
way. " That is not the way we do business in the Senate, 
sir," rejoined Mr. Webster, still more decisively and sternly. 
" The Little Giant " was a bold, ready man, not easily over 
awed or disconcerted ; but, if he did not quiver under the eye 
and voice of Webster, then my eyesight deceived me, and I 
was very near him. 

Mr. Calhoun was a tall, spare, earnest, evidently thoughtful 
man, with stiff, iron-gray hair, which reminded you of Jack 
son s about the time of his accession to the Presidency. He 
was eminently a logician, terse, vigorous, relentless. He 
courted the society of clever, aspiring young men who inclined 
to fall into his views, and exerted great influence over them. 
As he had abandoned the political faith which I distinguish 
and cherish as National while I was yet a school-boy, I 
never met him at all intimately ; yet once, while I was con 
nected with mining on Lake Superior, I called on him, as on 
other leading members of Congress, to explain the effect of 
the absurd policy then in vogue, of keeping mineral lands out 
of market, and attempting to collect a percentage of the 
mineral as rent accruing to the Government. He received 
me courteously, and I took care to make my statement as 
compact and perspicuous as I could, showing him that, even 
in the Lead region, where the system had attained its full 
development, the Treasury did not receive enough rent to 
pay the salaries of the officers employed in collecting it. 



252 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

" Enough," said Mr. Calhoun ; " you are clearly right. I will 
vote to give away these lands, rather than perpetuate this 
vicious system." "We only ask, Mr. Calhoun," I rejoined, 
" that Congress fix on the lands whatever price it may deem 
just, and sell them at that price to those lawfully in posses 
sion ; they failing to purchase, then to whomsoever will buy 
them." "That plan will have my hearty support," he re 
sponded ; and it did. When the question came at length to 
be taken, I believe there was no vote in either House against 
selling the mineral lands. 



Mr. Clay had failed to be chosen President in 1844, in part 
because he tried to reconcile to his support those whose views 
on the Texas question conflicted with his. General Taylor, 
on the other hand, had succeeded in 1848, while saying very 
little as to the pending questions affecting Slavery, or even 
seeming to care that adverse opinions should be conciliated. 
There was an anecdote current in the canvass to this effect : 
A planter wrote Old Zack, saying, "I have worked hard all 
my life, and the net product is a plantation with one hundred 
negroes, slaves. Before I vote, I want to know how you 
stand on the Slavery question." " The General at once re 
sponded : " Sir, I too have worked faithfully these many years, 
and the net product remaining to me is a plantation with three 
hundred negroes. Yours truly." The planter was satisfied. 

The National Convention which nominated General Taylor 
had laid on the table a resolve approving, if not demanding, 
the exclusion of Slavery from the Territories ; and this prob 
ably lost us the votes of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. 
On the other hand, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas all 
voted, by small majorities, for Cass : Jefferson Davis, though 
a son-in-law of General Taylor, declining, on political or 
Slavery grounds, to support him. Had he been clearly under 
stood to be for or against the so-called Wilmot Proviso, lie 
would have both gained and lost votes ; but I judge that, 
with reference to success, his silence was wisdom. 



THE GREAT SENATORS. 253 

Being elected and inaugurated, lie called to his cabinet 
Messrs. Clayton of Delaware, Crittenden of Kentucky, Ewing 
of Ohio, Meredith of Pennsylvania, G. W. Crawford of Geor 
gia, Ballard Preston of Virginia, Collamer of Vermont, and 
Pteverdy Johnson of Maryland, and proceeded to deal cau 
tiously with the grave questions impending. It was soon 
evident to keen-sighted observers, that the new Administration 
aimed to tide over the breakers just ahead by securing the 
newly acquired Territories practically to free labor, through 
a quiet discouragement of the transfer of slaves thereto, and 
the speedy transformation of each Territory into a State., 
Dissension and division on the Wilmot Proviso were thus to 
be avoided by achieving expeditiously the end whereto that 
Proviso was but a means. Thus, California was rapidly meta 
morphosed into a free State even before she had been pro 
vided with a regular Territorial organization ; while yet the 
Administration could fairly protest with Macbeth, 

. " Thou canst not say / did it ! Never shake 
Those gory locks at me ! " 

The pro-Slavery interest soon felt that it was being under 
mined and circumvented. In the elections for Congress, next 
after General Taylor s inauguration, the South, which had 
given him both a popular and an electoral majority, chose 
but twenty-nine Eepresentatives to support, with sixty-two 
to oppose, his Administration. 

At the North, the new Administration was likewise dis 
trusted by the more zealous champions of Free Soil, though 
with less reason. In the election of 1849, the Democrats of 
Vermont united with the Abolitionists in framing and sup 
porting a common State ticket, on an unequivocally Free-Soil 
platform, with the watchword, " Free Democracy " ; and, as 
the coalescing parties had outnumbered the Whigs in the 
preceding vote for President, the prospect looked squally. I 
was invited by the Whigs to canvass their State, and did so ; 
beginning at Brattleborough in the southeast, passing up to 
Montpelier and across to Burlington, thence down by Rutland 
to Bennington. One anecdote of this trip is characteristic of 
the times, and will bear reviving : 



254 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

As, when previously asked by friends in the State what 
they should do for me, I had stipulated for a committee of 
thirteen to let me alone, and persuade others to do so, I en 
joyed unusual exemption from bother, and, after speaking one 
rainy afternoon at some town in Orange County (Royalton, as 
I recollect), I took the cars, and was soon borne to Montpelier, 
where I was to speak the next day. The rain poured heavily, 
and I made my way solus from the railway station to a hotel, 
where I obtained a room, and sat down in it to my solitary 
reflections. I must here explain that two brothers, Ver- 
monters, named respectively Charles G. and E. G. Eastman, 
then edited the Democratic State organs at Montpelier and 
at Nashville respectively. The Vermont Eastman, being in 
league with the Abolitionists, labored day by day to prove 
that the Taylor Administration was managing to secure the 
new Territories to Slavery; while the Tennessee Eastman, 
seeking capital for his party 011 the other tack, as strenuously 
insisted that that same Administration was doing, its utmost 
to exclude Slavery from those same Territories. As The Tri 
bune exchanged with both these candid journalists, I had 
recently taken a leading article from each, cut it into para 
graphs, copied first from one charging the Administration as 
aforesaid, and then, simply premising, "Now we will hear 
what t other Eastman has to say on this point," I would 
quote the exact opposite from the Tennessee or the Vermont 
brother, as the case might be. So, having seated myself in 
my room in the hotel at Montpelier, which I had never 
before been near, and where I knew no one, I looked drear 
ily out at the furious rain for half an hour, and was about 
falling asleep in utter desperation, when my door opened, 
and a tall, sturdy mountaineer, unannounced, walked in. 
"Good afternoon, Mr. Greeley," was his cordial salutation. 
" Good afternoon," I less cordially responded ; " though I do 
not happen to know you." " Not know me ? " he incredu 
lously asked : " why, I am t other Eastman." 



When Congress met in December following, and HoweH 



THE COMPROMISE OF 1850. 255 

Cobb, [Dem.] of Georgia, had, after a long struggle, "been 
chosen Speaker,* because the distinctively Free-Soil members 
would not support Winthrop, the "Whig candidate, General 
Taylor, in his Annual Message (already published during the 
long struggle for Speaker), avowed that he desired and ex 
pected the early admission of both California and New Mex 
ico as States, under such constitutions as their people should 
see fit to frame, which constitutions, it was already notori 
ous, would forbid Slavery. 

Mr. Clay soon submitted! to the Senate his plan for a com 
prehensive settlement of all the mooted questions regarding 
Slavery. It contemplated : 1. The prompt admission of Cali 
fornia as a State, under her anti-Slavery Constitution ; 2. 
The organization of the remaining Territories, without al 
lusion to Slavery ; 3. The limitation of Texas to a denned 
Northern boundary, ignoring or rather buying off her 
claim to nearly all New Mexico ; 4. Paying her a sum (after 
ward fixed at $ 10,000,000) for consenting to the limitation 
aforesaid ; 5. No abolition of Slavery in the District of Co 
lumbia ; 6. Exclusion by law of the traffic in slaves from said 
District ; 7. A denial of the right of any State to obstruct or 
embarrass the traffic in slaves between other States, or their 
removal from one to another. As the second of these propo 
sitions has an abiding significance, in view of the Nebraska 
bill afterward avowedly based thereon, I quote it verbatim : 

" 2. Resolved, That as Slavery does not exist by law [in,] and is 
not likely to be introduced into, any of the territories acquired by 
the United States from the republic of Mexico, it is inexpedient 
for Congress to provide by law either for its introduction into, or 
[its] exclusion from, any part of the said territory, and that appro 
priate territorial governments ought to be established by Congress 
in all the said territories not assigned as within the boundaries of 
the proposed State of California, without the adoption of any re 
striction or condition on the subject of Slavery." 

* Under the plurality rule : Cobb, 102 ; Winthrop, 99 ; scattering (mainly 
Free-Soil), 20. 

t February 13, 1850. 



256 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

The gist of this proposition, as I apprehend it, is, that 
Slavery had not then a legal existence in the newly acquired 
I Territories. In other words : Mr. Clay (in opposition to Mr. 
Calhoun and his followers, who maintained that the Federal 
Constitution necessarily became the fundamental law of any 
region acquired by the United States, and thus legalized Slav 
ery in that region, and every part of it,) held, with the Free- 
Soil party, that Slavery must be established by positive law 
in any Territory, before it could be legal therein. I felt that 
we could afford to accept this as a basis of adjustment, espe 
cially when we gained therewith the instant admission of 
California as a Free State, and the extrusion of slaveholding 
Texas from nearly all New Mexico, whereof she claimed every 
acre lying eastward of the Eio Grande del Norte. Mr. Clay s 
proffer seemed to me candid and fair to the North, so far as 
it related to the newly acquired territories. I do personally 
know that Mr. Clay himself regarded it as a capitulation on 
the part of the South, wherein she merely stipulated for the 
honors of war. And it was instantly assailed by Senators Jef 
ferson Davis and Henry S. Foote of Mississippi, James M. 
Mason of Virginia, William E. King of Alabama, S. U. 
Downs of Louisiana, and A. P. Butler of South Carolina, as 
proposing to the South a surrender at discretion. They all 
repelled the suggestion that Slavery could not legally exist in 
a Territory till expressly established there by law, affirming 
the opposite or Calhoun doctrine. Mr. Clay met them frankly 
and squarely ; replying to Mr. Jefferson Davis as follows : - 

" I am extremely sorry to hear the Senator from Mississippi say 

that he requires, first, the extension of the Missouri Compromise 

line to the Pacific ; and, also, that he is not satisfied with that, 

but requires, if I understand him correctly, a positive provision for 

the admission of Slavery south of that line. And now, sir, coming 

from a Slave State, as I do, I owe it to myself, I owe it to the 

truth, I owe it to the subject, to state that no earthly power could 

induce me to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of 

; Slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of 

*s that line. Coming, as I do, from a Slave State, it is my solemn, 



THE COMPROMISE OF 1850. 257 

deliberate, and well-matured determination that no power no 
earthly power shall compel me to vote for the positive introduc 
tion of Slavery, either south or north of that line. Sir, while you 
reproach, and justly, too, our British ancestors for the introduction 
of this institution upon the continent of America, I am, for one, 
unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California 
and New Mexico shall reproach us for doing just what we reproach 
Great Britain for doing to us. If the citizens of those Territories 
choose to establish Slavery, I am for admitting them with such 
provisions in their constitutions ; but then it will be their own 
work, and not ours; and their posterity will have to reproach 
them, and not us, for forming constitutions allowing the institution 
of Slavery to exist among them. These are my views, sir, and I 
choose to express them ; and I care not how extensively and uni 
versally they are known. The honorable Senator from Virginia 
(Mr. Mason) has expressed his opinion that Slavery exists in these 
Territories ; and I have no doubt that opinion is sincerely and hon 
estly entertained by him ; and I would say, with equal sincerity 
and honesty, that / believe that Slavery nowhere exists within any 
portion of the territory acquired by us from Mexico. He holds a 
directly contrary opinion to mine, as he has a perfect right to do ; 
and we will not quarrel about the difference of opinion." 

The debate thus inaugurated was prosecuted at great length. 
Mr. Webster, in the course of it, startling the country by an 
elaborate speech,* wherein he took ground against what were 
termed Slavery agitation and agitators ; against the asserted 
right of legislatures to instruct senators ; against legislation 
to exclude Slavery from Federal Territories, &c., &c. In so 
doing he said : 

" Now, as to California and New Mexico, I hold Slavery to be 
excluded from + hose Territories by a law even superior to that 
which admits and sanctions it in Texas, I mean the law of Na 
ture, - of physical geography, the law of the formation of the 
earth. That Itnv settles forever, with a strength beyond all terms 
of human enactment, that Slavery cannot exist in California or 
New Mexico. . . I will say further, that, if a resolution or a bill 
were before us, to provide a Territorial government for New Mexico, 

* March 7, 1850. 
17 



258 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

I would not vote to put any prohibition into it whatever. Such a 
prohibition would be idle as it respects any effect it would have on 
the Territory ; and I would not take pains uselessly to reaffirm an 
ordinance of Nature, nor to reenact the will of God. I would put 
in no Wilmot Proviso for the mere purpose of a taunt or a reproach. 
I would put into it no evidence of the votes of a superior power, 
exercised for no purpose but to wound the pride of the citizens of 
the Southern States." 

I cannot here follow the great debate through the weary 
months in which the Senators and Representatives of Cali 
fornia awaited permission to take the seats to which they had 
been chosen. The compromise or adjustment proposed by 
Mr. Clay was assailed from either side, by zealous anti- 
Slavery men like Hale, Chase, and Seward ; by zealous, ag 
gressive j9r0-Slavery men like Calhoun, Jeff. Davis, Mason, 
and Butler, while it was sustained by the more moderate 
J members of either great party. A grand committee of thir 
teen, whereof Mr. Clay was chairman, was raised on the 
subject, wherefrom the chairman reported * his plan, modi 
fied so as to be less objectionable to pro-Slavery men : the 
vital assertion that Slavery had then no legal existence in 
the new territories being omitted. In the progress of the 
debate, further modifications of the plan were made, all 
tending in the same direction ; and the sudden death of 
General Taylor,f allowing the Presidency to devolve on Mr. 
Fillmore, powerfully aided the triumph of the Compromise, 
which had, a few days before, seemed all but hopeless. Ulti 
mately, bills admitting California, organizing New Mexico and 
Utah as Territories, fixing the northern boundary of Texas, 
and giving her $10,000,000 for consenting thereto, providing 
more effectually for the recovery of fugitive slaves, and pro 
hibiting the bringing of slaves into the Federal district for 
sale, were severally passed, though with very diverse support, 
and became laws of the land : thus, it was fondly, but most 
mistakenly, calculated, putting an end to Sla> <tion, 

and ushering in a long era of fraternity and c B peace. 

* May 18. t July 11. 






THE COMPROMISE OF 1850. 259 

Meantime, Mr. Calhoun had died, March 31, 1850, at Wash 
ington, where Mr. Clay likewise died, June 29, 1852. Mr. 
Webster survived his great compeer less than four months ; 
dying at his home in Marshfield, Mass., October 24th of that 
year. These three left no statesmen among us who were 
their equals in general ability or in power to fix the attention 
of the country. We still read speeches in Congress, though 
generally quite satisfied with telegraphic summaries of their 
contents, but we no longer impatiently await, eagerly enjoy, 
and carefully treasure them, as we did those of the great 
departed. 

The question is often asked, "Were the traditional great 
men of the past really greater than their living successors ? " 
I can only answer that, while I presume the average intellect 
of our day is not inferior to that of the last generation, I 
judge that the master minds of different periods are attracted 
to different spheres of activity, and are impelled to different 
stages of development. Had Henry Clay or Daniel Webster 
been born and lived fifty years earlier, he could not have 
failed to be distinguished and honored by those who knew 
him ; but he would probably have achieved distinction as a 
Eevolutionary soldier, or in some other sphere than that of 
legislation. 

" Is it not hard," I was once asked by the Governor of an 
important Western State, " that my salary should be far less 
than that of a railroad president or chief engineer?" "I 
infer from it," I replied, " that our age realizes more keenly 
its need of competent railroad men than that of capable gov 
ernors of States." In this, as in many things, the intensity 
of the demand creates or regulates the supply. If we now 
lack great political debaters, it is because they are not grfeatly 
required, or because talent is more in demand and better 
rewarded in some other field of intellectual exertion. 



XXXI. 

LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS. 

T7DITOBIAL life has many cares, sundry enjoyments, 
I ^ with certain annoyances ; and prominent among these 
last are libel-suits. I can hardly remember a time when I 
was absolutely exempt from these infestations. In fact, as 
they seem to be a main reliance for support of certain attor 
neys, destitute alike of character and law, I suppose they 
must be borne for an indefinite period. The fact that these 
suits are far more common in our State than elsewhere cannot 
have escaped notice ; and I find the reason of that fact in 
a perversion of the law by our judges of thirty to fifty 
years ago. 

The first notable instance of this perversion occurred on the 
trial of Koot v. King, at Delhi, about 1826. General Erastus 
Boot was a leading Democrat through the earliest third of this 
century, and was, in 1824, a zealous supporter of William H. 
Crawford for President. As President of the Senate, he pre 
sided at the joint meeting of the two Houses, wherein electors 
of President were chosen ; when, to his and his friends sore 
disappointment, a large number of Adams, and but few Craw 
ford men, received the requisite majority, the friends of 
Adams and those of Clay having privately united on a 
common ticket. When the votes for this ticket began to be 
counted out, presaging a Crawford defeat, General Koot at 
tempted to break up the joint meeting, and thus invalidate 
the election. For this, and other such acts, he was severely 
handled by The New York American ; whose editor, Charles 
King, was thereupon sued by Boot for libel, and the case 



LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS. 261 

being tried at Delhi, where Eoot resided and was lord-para 
mount the jury, under the rulings of a Democratic judge, 
gave the plaintiff $1,400 damages. It was a most unjust 
verdict, based on a perversion of the law, which, if sustained, 
left the press no substantial liberty to rebuke wrong-doing or 
chastise offenders. And the perversion of justice thus effected 
naturally led to still further and worse aberrations. 

Ten or a dozen years afterward, Mr. J. Fenimore Cooper 
returned from a long residence abroad, during which many of 
his novels had been written. A man of unquestioned talent, 
almost genius, he was aristocratic in feeling and arro 
gant in bearing, altogether combining in his manners what a 
Yankee once characterized as " winning ways to make people 
hate him." Eetiring to his paternal acres near Cooperstown, 
N. Y., he was soon involved in a difficulty with the neighbor 
ing villagers, who had long been accustomed, in their boating 
excursions on the Lake (Otsego), to land and make themselves 
at home for an hour or two on a long, narrow promontory or 
" point," that ran down from his grounds into the lake, and 
whom he had now dissuaded from so doing by legal force. 
The Whig newspaper of the village took up the case for the 
villagers, urging that their extrusion from " The Point," though 
legal, was churlish, and impelled by the spirit of the dog in 
the manger ; whereupon Cooper sued the editor for libel, re 
covered a verdict, and collected it by taking the money 
through a sheriff s officer from the editor s trunk. By this 
time, several Whig journalists had taken up the cudgels for 
the villagers and their brother editor ; and, as Mr. Cooper had 
recently published two caustic, uncomplimentary, self-com 
placent works on his countrymen s ways and manners, entitled 
" Homeward Bound," and " Home as Found," some of these 
castigations took the form of reviews of those works. One or 
more of them appeared in The Courier and Enquirer, edited 
by James Watson Webb ; at least one other in The Commer 
cial Advertiser, edited by William L. Stone; while several 
racy paragraphs, unflattering to Mr. Cooper, spiced the edi 
torial columns of The Albany Evening Journal, and were doubt- 



262 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

less from the pen of its founder and then editor, Mr. Thurlow 
Weed. Cooper sued them all ; bringing several actions to 
trial at Fonda, the new county-seat of Montgomery County. 
He had no luck against Colonel Webb, because, presuming 
that gentleman moneyless, he prosecuted him criminally, and 
could never find a jury to send an editor to prison on his 
account. Colonel Webb was defended in chief by Ambrose 
L. Jordan, afterward Attorney-General of the State, an able 
and zealous advocate, who threw his whole soul into his cases, 
and who did by no means stand on the defensive. 

In one of his actions against Mr. Weed, he was more fortu 
nate. Weed had not given it proper attention; and, when 
the case was called for trial at Fonda, he was detained at 
home by sickness in his family, and no one appeared for him ; 
so a verdict of $ 400 was entered up against him by default. 
He was on hand a few hours afterward, and tried to have the 
case reopened, but Cooper would not consent ; so Weed had 
to pay the $400 and costs. Deeming himself aggrieved, 
he wrote a letter to The Tribune, describing the whole per 
formance ; and on that letter Cooper sued me, as for another 
libel. 

And here let me say, that Weed was forced to pay some 
$ 2,500 to Cooper, and as costs in his various suits, most un 
justly. Weed was a profound admirer of Cooper s novels, 
an extravagant one, in my judgment, and was so fond of 
quoting them, that jokers gravely affirmed that he evidently 
had never read but three authors, Shakespeare, Scott, and 
Cooper. (At a later day, they were obliged to add Dickens 
to the list.) The paragraphs that provoked Cooper s libel- 
suits were intended by Weed rather to admonish the Ameri 
can novelist that he was acting absurdly, suicidally, in quar 
relling with his neighbors, to preclude their landing on " The 
Point " ; with his countrymen by his harsh, supercilious 
criticisms on their manners ; and with the Press by his in 
numerable libel-suits. Not a shred, a spice of malice, nor 
even of ill-will, impelled the paragraphs which Cooper re 
sented so litigiously. 



LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS. 263 

The first writ wherewith / was honored " By the Author 
of the Pioneers/ &c.," cited me to answer at Ballston, Sara 
toga County, on the first Tuesday (I believe) in December, 
1842 ; and I obeyed it to the letter. I employed no lawyers, 
not realizing that I needed any. In its turn, the case was 
called, and opened in due form by Eichard Cooper (nephew 
of Fenimore) for the plaintiff. No witnesses were called, for 
none were needed. I admitted the publication, and accepted 
the responsibility thereof : so the questions to be tried were 
these, " Was the plaintiff libelled by such publication ? If 
so, to what amount was he damaged ? " When Eichard had 
concluded, I said all that I deemed necessary for the defence ; 
and then Feniniore summed up his own cause in a longer 
and rather stronger speech than Eichard s, and the case was 
closed. So far, I felt quite at my ease ; but now the presiding 
judge (Willard) rose, and made a harder, more elaborate, and 
disingenuous speech against me than either Eichard or Feni 
more had done ; making three against one, which I did not 
think quite fair. He absolutely bullied the jury, on the pre 
sumption that they were inclined to give a verdict for the 
defendant, which he told them they were nowise at liberty 
to do. I had never till that day seen one of them, and had 
never sought to effect any intimacy or understanding with 
them ; so I must say that the judge s charge seemed to me 
as unfair as possible. The jury retired at its close ; and, on 
balloting, seven of them voted to make me pay $ 100, two 
voted for $ 500, one for $ 1,000, and two for nothing at all, 
or very nearly so. They soon agreed to call it $ 200, and 
make it their verdict ; which they did. When all the costs 
were paid, I was just $ 300 out of pocket by that lawsuit. I 
have done better and worse in other cases ; but, having been 
most ably and successfully defended in several, maugre the 
proverb that, " He who pleads his own cause has a fool for a 
client," I am satisfied that, could I have found time, in every 
case wherein I was sued for libel, to attend in person, and 
simply, briefly state the material facts to the jury, I should 
have had less to pay than I have done. There is always 



264 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

danger that the real merits of your case will be buried out of 
sight under heaps of legal rubbish. But it is not possible for 
a business man to spend his whole life in court-rooms, waiting 
for his case to be called ; and I have often been sued in dis 
tant counties, where I could scarcely attend at all. 

I left Ballston in a sleigh directly upon the rendering of 
the verdict, caught a steamboat, I think, at Troy, and was at 
my desk in good season next morning ; so that, by 11 P. M., I 
had written out and read in proof, besides other matter, my 
report of the trial, which filled eleven columns of the next 
morning s Tribune. I think that was the best single day s 
work I ever did. I intended that the report should be good- 
natured, perhaps even humorous, and some thought I 
succeeded ; but Fenimore seems not to have concurred in that 
opinion ; for he sued me upon the report as a new libel, or, 
rather, as several libels. I was defended against this new 
suit by Hons. William H. Seward and A. B. Conger, so cleverly, 
that, though there were hearings on demurrer, and various 
expensive interlocutory proceedings, the case never came to 
trial. Indeed, the Legislature had meantime overborne some 
of the more irrational rulings of our judges ; while our Judi 
ciary itself had undergone important changes through the 
political revolution in our State, and the influence of our Con 
stitution of 1846 ; so that the Press of New York now enjoys 
a freedom which it did not in the last generation. 

I say the Press, yet only the journals of one party were 
judicially muzzled. Eather more than forty years ago, Mr. 
Weed, then living at Eochester, was positively and generally 
charged, through the Democratic journals, with having shaved 
off or pulled out the whiskers of a dead man, in order to 
make the body pass for that of the long-missing and never- 
recovered William Morgan, of anti-Masonic fame. The 
charge was an utterly groundless calumny, having barely a 
shred of badinage to palliate its utterance. Mr. Weed sued 
two or three of his defamers ; but the courts were in the 
hands of his political adversaries, and he could never succeed 
in bringing his cases to trial. Finally, after they had been 



LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS. 265 

kicked and cuffed about for ten or a dozen years, they were 
kicked out, as too ancient and fishlike to receive atten 
tion. 

This was probably the best disposition for him that could 
have been made of them. If he had tried them, and recov 
ered nominal verdicts, his enemies would have shouted over 
those verdicts as virtually establishing the truth of their 
charges ; while, if he had been awarded exemplary damages, 
these would have been cited as measuring the damages to be 
given against him in each of the hundred libel-suits there 
after brought against him. This consideration was forcibly 
brought home to me when, years afterward, having been out 
rageously libelled with regard to a sum of $1,000, which it 
was broadly intimated that a railroad or canal company in 
Iowa had given me for services rendered, or to be rendered, I 
ordered suits commenced against two of the most reckless 
libellers. But, when time had been allowed for reflection, I 
perceived that I could afford neither to lose nor to win these 
suits ; that such verdicts as I ought to recover would be cited 
as measuring the damages that I ought to pay in all future 
libel-suits brought against me ; so I gladly accepted such re 
tractions as my libellers saw fit to make, and discontinued my 
suits. Henceforth, that man must very badly want to be sued 
who provokes me to sue him for libel. 



Passing in silence several recent cases of interest wherein 
I was chosen defendant, cases on which I could not dilate 
without annoyance to persons yet living, I close with a 
statement of points in difference, as I understand them, be 
tween sundry judges and certain editors touching the Law 
of Libel. 

I have often heard it asserted from the Bench that editors 
claim impunity to libel, which is not the truth. What 
I claim and insist on is just this : That the editor shall le 
protected by the nature and exigencies of his calling to the 
same extent, and in the same degree, that other men are pro- 



266 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

tected ly the exigencies, the requirements, of THEIR callings or 
positions respectively. 

For instance : A judge on the bench, a lawyer at the bar, 
may libel atrociously ; and I hold may be fairly held respon 
sible for such libel ; but the law will not presume him a li 
beller from the mere fact that he speaks disparagingly of some 
person or persons. A householder applied to for the charac 
ter of his late servant may respond : " I turned him off be 
cause I found him an eye-servant, a drunkard, and a thief " ; 
yet the law will presume no malice not specifically proven ; 
because it avers that, in giving his ex-servant s character, 
that householder was acting in the line of his duty. Had 
he posted up those precise words in a public place, the law 
would have presumed malice, because no duty required such 
posting. 

Now let us apply the principle above enunciated to the 
actual case in hand : Jefferson Jones posts up in a bar-room, 
livery-stable, or on the town-pump, these words : " Clifford 
Nokes was last night caught stealing a hog, and was com 
mitted by Justice Smith, to await indictment and trial." 
The law will presume that posting malicious, and will deal 
harshly with Jones if he should fail to prove it literally true. 
And why ? Clearly, because no duty required him to make 
any such proclamation of his neighbor s alleged frailty, 
because of the fair, natural presumption, that he was moved 
so to post by hate or malevolence. But that same paragraph 
might appear in the columns of any journal that habitually 
printed police intelligence, without justifying or rendering 
plausible a kindred presumption. It might, indeed, be proved 
that the editor had inserted the item with malicious intent to 
injure Nokes ; and then I say : " Punish the libeller to the 
extent of the law." But I protest against presuming, an 
editor a libeller, because, in the routine of his vocation, the 
line of his duty, he prints information which may prove in 
accurate or wholly erroneous, without fairly exposing him to 
the presumption that he was impelled to utter it by a ma 
levolent spirit, a purpose to injure or degrade. Am I un 
derstood ? 



LIBELS AND LIBEL-SUITS. 267 

Twice, in the course of my thirty-odd years of editorship, 
I have encountered human beings base enough to require me 
to correct a damaging statement, and, after I had done so to 
the extent of their desire, to sue me upon that retracted 
statement as a libel ! I think this proves more than the 
depravity of the persons implicated, that it indicates a 
glaring defect in the law or the ruling under which such a 
manoeuvre is possible. If the law were honest, or merely 
decent, it would refuse to be made an accomplice of such 
villany. 

Ere many years, I hope to see all the reputable journals of 
this city, if not of the entire State, unite in an association 
for mutual defence against vexatious and unreasonable libel- 
suits. They ought to do this ; employing a capable and 
painstaking lawyer, to whom every suit for libel against any 
member of the association should at once be referred, with 
instructions to investigate it candidly, and decide whether its 
defence ought or ought not to devolve on the press generally. 
If not, let it be remitted to the counsel for the journal prose 
cuted ; but, if the prosecution be clearly unreasonable and 
vexatious, a lawyer s dodge to levy black mail, then let 
no money or effort be spared to baffle and defeat the nefari 
ous attempt. Such a combination for mutual defence would 
arrest the prevailing habit of paying $50 or $100 to buy 
off the plaintiff s attorney as the cheapest way out of a 
bother, would soon greatly reduce the number of suits for 
libel, and would result in a substantial and permanent en 
largement of the Freedom of the Press. It should have 
been formed long ago. 



XXXII. 

EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION. 

THE year 1851 was signalized by the first grand Exposi 
tion of the products of All Nations Art and Industry. 
It was held in Hyde Park, London, once at the extreme west 
end of that metropolis, but long since enveloped by her 
steady, imperial growth in commerce, wealth, and population. 
Prince Albert, the Queen s husband, having been placed at 
the head of the enterprise, the Queen did her best to insure its 
success ; and her influence, exerted to the utmost, extended 
far beyond her Court and those who aspire to bask in its beams. 
A portion of the Tory Aristocracy stood aloof, or only visited 
the Exposition as careless sight-seers ; but the Ptoyal Family, 
the Liberal Aristocracy, the Manufacturing, Commercial, 
and more intelligent Laboring classes, were united and en 
thusiastic in their efforts to secure the success of the grand 
undertaking. I judge that the habitual frigidity of British 
bearing toward foreigners was never before so thoroughly put 
aside or overcome. " You foreigners," said Earl Granville at 
a great dinner given at Richmond to the Foreign Commis 
sioners and Jurors, " complain that we English are icy and 
repulsive ; but you never give us a fair chance to be other 
wise. We try to be courteous and hospitable whenever we 
are afforded an opportunity. Don t we make heroic, though 
luckless, attempts to speak your several languages ? Don t 
we try in every way to make ourselves agreeable ? Give us 
a fair trial before you condemn us as exclusive and unsocial." 
In this spirit, the great mass of the educated, thrifty classes 
treated their many foreign visitors throughout that long 



EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION. 269 

Summer. I doubt that the hospitality which is evinced in 
entertainments and festivities was ever more widely displayed 
anywhere, or with more persistent generosity. 

And I doubt that another exhibition, so comprehensive, so 
instructive, has since been or ever will be presented, though 
several have been, and many doubtless will be, so planned, so 
weeded, as to embody only articles of decided merit, as this 
did not. For, as all nations were invited to send samples of 
their exportable products to this Exposition, all had done so, 
without at all considering the figure these would cut when 
compared with the kindred products of other countries. Side 
by side with the subtlest and most elaborate devices of British 
and American locksmiths to guard the hoards of bankers and 
capitalists from spoliation, were the rude contrivances of 
Tunisian or Thibetan blacksmiths, clumsily hammered out of 
poor iron, on a very rude anvil, and doing no credit to the 
workmanship, even after all due allowances had been made. 
The striking contrasts thus presented in almost every depart 
ment of the Exposition gave it a piquancy and zest which are 
henceforth unattainable ; for the contributors of sorry speci 
mens, having thus been made aware of their own relative 
demerits, refuse thenceforth to appear as foils for their bril 
liant rivals ; and any attempt to replace them by samples 
gathered from the ends of the earth, on purpose to be derided 
and ridiculed, must almost necessarily prove a failure. 
Hereafter, we shall find in kindred expositions only the best 
products of the cleverest, most ingenious of the world s arti 
ficers ; while the worse, and even worst, by which their worth 
was so admirably set off and illustrated in 1851, will remain 
in their coveted oblivion. 

The Crystal Palace, wherein the Exhibition was held, was 
constructed wholly of iron and glass, and was one of the 
noblest, most magnificent, most graceful edifices ever seen. 
Its grand avenue^ traversing its centre from end to end, was 
studded with some of the rarest and costliest articles ex 
hibited, including Powers s statue of " The Greek Slave," the 
Queen s matchless " Koh-i-Noor," or Mountain of Light, said 



270 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

to be next to the largest diamond in existence, and hundreds 
more of the most admirable products of Art and Nature. 
Several stately and gracious elms, which were among the 
chief ornaments of the Park, grew on the site chosen for the 
Palace, arid were a chief obstacle to its concession, as this 
was supposed to involve their destruction ; but the stately 
edifice was made to include and cover them, so that they put 
forth their ample foliage and stood green and graceful through 
out the Exhibition under its transparent roof, each of them 
" a thing of beauty " and a positive enhancement of the fairy 
spectacle on every side presented. Aladdin s fabled palace 
may have been richer in gold and gems; but ours far ex 
ceeded his in the extent and multiplicity of its devices for 
the sustenance, comfort, enjoyment of mankind, its number 
less steam-driven spindles, looms, &c., would have far out 
worked all the genii or gnomes of the Arabian romance ; 
while the vast crowds of human beings, especially of sump 
tuously, picturesquely apparelled women, who thronged that 
grand avenue throughout day after day for weeks and months, 
had no rival even in the most gorgeous creations of Oriental 
fancy. 

Having left New York in the stanch American steamship 
Baltic, Capt. J. J. Comstock, on the llth of April, when a 
strong and cold northeaster had just set in, we took it with 
us across the Atlantic, rarely blest with a brief glimpse of the 
watery sun during our rough passage of twelve days and 
some hours, encountering a severe gale on our first night out, 
and another as we reached soundings on the Irish coast ; and 
being surfeited with rain and head-winds during our entire 
passage, I was sick unto death s door for most of the time, 
eating by an effort when I ate at all, and as thoroughly miser 
able as I knew how to be ; so that the dirty, grimy little tug 
that at last approached to take us ashore at Liverpool seemed 
to me, though by no means white-winged, an angel of deliver 
ance ; and my first meal on solid, well-behaving earth will 
long be remembered with gratitude to the friends who pro- 



EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION. 271 

vided and shared it. I have since repeatedly braved the 
perils and miseries of the raging main, and have never found 
the latter so intolerable as on that first voyage ; yet the ocean 
and I remain but distant, unloving acquaintances, with no 
prospect of ever becoming friends. 

Reaching London just before the Exposition opened, I was 
accorded by the partiality of my countrymen who had pre 
ceded me (somewhat strengthened, I believe, by their jeal 
ousy of each other) the position of Chairman of one of the 
Juries, each of the countries largely represented in the 
Exposition being allowed one Chairman. My department 
(Class X.) included about three thousand lots (not merely 
three thousand articles), and was entitled, I believe, Hard 
ware ; but it embraced not only metals, but all manner of 
devices for generating or economizing gas, for eliminating or 
diffusing heat, &c., &c. The duties thus devolved upon me 
were entirely beyond my capacity ; but my vice-Chairman, 
Mr. William Bird, a leading British iron-master and London 
merchant, was as eminently qualified for those duties as I was 
deficient ; and between us the work was so done that no com 
plaint of its quality ever reached me. We had several most 
competent colleagues on our jury, among them M. Spitaels, of 
Belgium, a director of the Vielle Montaigne Zinc Mines, and 
one of the wisest and best men I ever knew. 

Revisiting England four years thereafter, I called on my 
friend Bird, and he told me this anecdote : 

" You may remember," he premised, " that I paid special 
attention to foreign iron throughout our service as jurors in 
the Exposition, and that I dwelt on the admirable quality of 
certain of the Austrian products which came within our pur 
view. Well : two years thereafter, when Summer brought its 
usual dulness of trade, I thought I would run over and see 
how those products were made. So, providing myself with 
as good letters as I could command, I, in due time, waited on 
Lord Westmoreland, our Ambassador at Vienna. He received 
me courteously, but soon said : I perceive, Mr. Bird, that the 
letters you hand me from Lord Palmerston, Lord John Kus- 



272 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

sell, &c., imply something more than ordinary civilities. 
What do you desire ? I seek an order from the Austrian 
Minister of Industry [or whatever the designation may be], 
authorizing me to visit all the great iron- works in the Em 
pire. Why, Mr. Bird/ rejoined the Ambassador, you can 
not be aware of the jealousy wherewith British predominance 
in iron- working is here regarded, or you would as soon request 
me to ask the Minister to cede you Hungary. I cannot pre 
sent your request. So (continued Mr. B.), I left the Ambas 
sador, thoroughly rebuffed, and returned to my carriage, in 
which I had left an Austrian friend, who had been a commis 
sioner at our Exposition. What is the matter, Mr. Bird ? 
he at once inquired ; you seem to have met with a disap 
pointment. I certainly had, as I proceeded to explain. But 
why not yourself ask ihe Minister for the privilege you de 
sire ? Because he never heard of me. There you are 
mistaken, said the Austrian ; and, opening his official report 
on the London Exposition, he pointed therein to repeated and 
hearty acknowledgments of the highly important services 
rendered to the Austrian exhibitors by Mr. Bird, of the tenth 
jury. He offered at once to introduce and commend me to 
the Minister, and I gladly assented. Having been introduced 
accordingly in the most flattering terms, the Minister soon 
asked, Mr. Bird, can I do nothing to make your visit agree 
able ? - - when I indicated my wish to visit the iron-works 
of Austria. With the greatest pleasure, he responded, and 
at once wrote me the desired order, couched in most emphatic 
and sweeping terms. Thereupon, I left him, and spent my 
next month in a tour through the iron-producing districts of 
the empire, everywhere received most hospitably, and shown 
all that I asked or wished to see. Eeturning, at last, to 
Vienna, I made a parting call on Lord Westmoreland ; and, 
in reply to his inquiry, informed him that I had spent my 
time, since my previous call, among the iron-works of Ca- 
rinthia, Styria, &c. But how did you obtain the needful 
order ? he inquired. I asked the Minister for it in my own 
name, and he readily granted it. Very well, Mr. Bird, 



EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION. 273 

rejoined the puzzled Ambassador, should I ever have any 
great favor to ask of the Austrian Government, I may be 
glad to avail myself of your influence. " 



The council of the Exposition was composed of the chair 
men of the several juries; its president was Lord Canning 
(son of the great Canning), who died Governor-General of 
India some ten years thereafter. I regarded him with deep 
interest for his father s sake, that father having been Eng 
land s foremost man for years within my recollection. The 
son seemed a man of decided cleverness and geniality, while 
his countenance denoted wit, though I recollect nothing said 
by him that confirmed my prepossession. Of the higher aris 
tocracy, I remember only the Duke .of Argyle, a small, 
slight, sandy-haired person, gentle in manner, modest in bear 
ing, and nowise exacting the servile deference generally paid 
by personal merit to inherited rank in Great Britain. I am 
sure Lord Canning, who had evidently a keen sense of the 
ridiculous, must have been nauseated by the genuflexions and 
prostrations, " If your lordship will permit me to remark," 
" If I may presume to claim your lordship s attention for 
a moment," &c., &c. wherewith he was habitually addressed 
by men whose achievements in Science and its applications 
were elements at once of England s glory and of her pros 
perity and greatness. I may have seen a favorable sample of 
the British nobility, but those I met were simply and emi 
nently gentlemen, and none more so than Arthur, Duke of 
Wellington, the Duke, then more than eighty years old, 
who was one of the earliest and most frequent visitors to our 
American quarter, and one of the very first to proclaim - 
while the great London journals were jeering at the poverty 
and shabbiness of our department its eminent and remark 
able excellence. He not merely visited, he studied and 
inquired ; and no more unpretending, fair-minded seeker of 
practical information was among our visitors. He was one of 
those privileged, with the jurors, to enter and examine during 
18 



274 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

the early morning hours, when the public was excluded, and 
when the queen, with her attendants, spent hours there, day 
after day, in part, doubtless, to satisfy a legitimate interest, 
but in part, also, to commend and render popular the Exposi 
tion ; so that, as my friend Charles Lane aptly remarked, 
" You could not exactly say whether she stood on this side 
of the counter or on that." I am sure, few labored more 
earnestly, more indefatigably than she did to make the enter 
prise a success, and no one with more decided efficiency. 

British self-complacency and British fairness were both 
strikingly evinced in the conduct of the Exhibition. The 
chairman of the Agricultural jury was Mr. Philip Pusey, M. P. 
(brother of the clergyman of Tractarian fame), who inhabited 
and enjoyed a generous estate in Berkshire, which had been 
likewise inhabited and enjoyed by his ancestors for genera 
tions preceding the Norman conquest. Eepeatedly, he brought 
up to the council a request from his jury that they might be 
authorized to award prizes to the best, and the second-best, 
American, Belgium, French, &c., ploughs, and so of other 
implements, a request evidently prompted by apprehen 
sions that they would otherwise be constrained by the general 
superiority of British implements to award prizes to them 
only. " Mr. President," I urged in opposition, " we are asked 
to destroy the practical value of our awards altogether. It 
will be idle for this body to award a prize to one American 
as better for a given purpose than another American plough, 
we can settle that point at home. Nor do we wish you to 
award a prize to an American, as best adapted, say, to work 
ing stiff clay soils, if there be a much better plough for that 
purpose sent here from some other country. We do not wish 
to be confirmed in our errors, but warned to forsake them. 
Let your prizes be awarded only to what is absolutely best, 
and we shall then be enabled, if other nations have better 
ploughs than ours, to adopt and profit by them." Others 
urged the same views more forcibly ; and the Agricultural, 
like all other juries, was ultimately obliged to conform to the 
original programme. 



EUROPE. THE WORLD S EXPOSITION. 275 

When the council had met, late in July, for what was in 
tended to be its last sitting, Mr. Pusey said, " I am constrained 
to ask, on behalf of the Agricultural jury, that another meet 
ing of this body be held some fortnight hence. We have, 
this week, been testing reapers at Tiptree Hall (M. Mechi s), 
and one of the American machines (Mr. C. H. McCormick s) 
surprised us by the efficiency and the excellence of its opera 
tion. But the day was rainy and the grain unripe ; so we do 
not feel sure that its triumph was not owing to those circum 
stances. We require another trial on a fair day, with ripe, 
dry grain ; and, should this machine then do as well as it has 
already done under our eyes, we must ask for it the very 
highest award." The request was granted ; the trial repeated 
under the conditions required, with a success fully equal to 
that previously achieved ; and a Council Medal solicited and 
awarded accordingly. 



I travelled hastily, that Summer, through France, from 
Calais, by Paris, to Lyons and across Savoy and Mount Cenis, 
into Italy, visiting Turin, Genoa, Eome, Florence, Ferrara, 
Bologna, Padua, Venice, and Milan ; recrossing the Alps by 
the St. Gothard pass, and thence coming down through Altorf 
and Lucerne to the Ehine at Basle ; and so down the great 
river to Cologne ; thence, across Belgium, by Aix-la-Chapelle 
and Brussels, into Northern France, and back to London, by 
Paris, Dieppe, and New Haven. I soon after journeyed north 
ward through Newcastle-on-Tyne, York, and Berwick-on- 
Tweed, to Edinburgh; thence, by Glasgow, to Belfast and 
Dublin ; thence westward, through Athlone to Galway ; and, 
after returning to Dublin, through Wexford and Tipperary, so 
far southward as Limerick ; returning, through Wales, to 
Liverpool, and there taking the Baltic for home. The very 
few deductions from such hasty journeyings that I may haz 
ard will be submitted in future chapters. 



XXXIII. 

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WHIG PARTY. 

T^vIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, the most sagacious 
1 ) and most popular historian of the Dutch era of our 
city and State, notes one grave error of the New Netherland 
magnates, and their pushing, meddling, encroaching Yankee 
neighbors, in that, having wisely stopped righting and betaken 
themselves instead to negotiation, they did not protract indefi 
nitely that amiable and hopeful procedure, but terminated it 
abruptly by a treaty ; over the interpreting of which their 
quarrel instantly broke out afresh, and raged with greater 
fury than before. 

Their blunder has been often repeated. 

The Compromise of 1850 had been carried through the 
XXXIst Congress, not long after President Taylor s death, 
mainly by virtue of the $ 10,000,000 given therein to Texas 
for the relinquishment of her preposterous claim to New 
Mexico. That donation raised the value of several millions 
of outstanding Texas bonds from ten or fifteen cents on the 
dollar to par. A Western Governor told me, a few years 
afterward, that he administered on the estate of one of the 
Senators from his State who helped pass the Compromise 
measure, and who soon after died, and that among said Sena 
tor s assets he found nearly $ 30,000 of those Texan bonds, 
with no scratch of pen to indicate how he came by them, or 
how much he gave for them. Had he been a Croesus, this 
would have been extraordinary ; as he was a politician and 
legislator of moderate means, it could be accounted for in but 
one way. 



THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WHIG PARTY. 277 

The Compromise measures had been carried by the votes 
of all the Northern Democrats but a few decided opponents 
of the Slave Power, all the Southern Whigs, with scarcely an 
exception, a minority of the Southern Democrats, and a de 
cided minority of the Northern Whigs, a minority absolutely 
inconsiderable until decidedly strengthened by Mr. Fillmore s 
accession to the Presidency. Having now the National Ad 
ministration on their side, the Compromisers endeavored to 
make devotion to their measure a touchstone of political 
orthodoxy; and a manifesto was drawn up and signed by 
forty or fifty members of Congress, pledging themselves to 
support no man for any office who did not sustain the Com 
promise. 

A Whig State Convention met at Syracuse in the Autumn" 
of 1850, and nominated a State Ticket headed by Washington 
Hunt for Governor. Francis Granger was President of that 
Convention. Its resolves said nothing pro or con of the Com-" ^ 
promise, but one of them approved the course of Governor 
Seward in the United States Senate (which he had entered 
on the day of President Taylor s inauguration) ; and this was 
vehemently resisted by the "Conservative" or Compromise 
minority of the delegates, who, headed by its President, va 
cated their seats on its adoption. In the contest which fol- 
lowed, Hunt was barely chosen over Horatio Seymour ; but 
the Democrats carried their Lieutenant-Governor (Church), 
with most, if not all, of their remaining State officers. It was 
clear that the " Silver Grays," (or Conservative Whigs,) had 
either refused to vote, or gone over to the Democracy ; though 
Governor Hunt was in fact one of themselves, and, after 
running once more for Governor, and being badly beaten by 
the " Silver Grays," he went openly over to them, and assidu 
ously sought, but never found, promotion at their hands and 
those of the Democrats, with whom he had by this time be 
come completely affiliated. 

Connecticut was, in like manner, barely carried over to the 
Democrats by the "Silver Grays" in the Spring of 1851, an<J 
Hon. Eoger 8. Baldwin, who had opposed the Compromise in 



278 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

j the Senate, was supplanted by Isaac Toucey. Thus the 
( usually doubtful or closely contested Free States were gener 
ally carried by the Democrats, who elected United States 
Senators from nearly all of them between 185Q and 1854 ; 
giving their party an overwhelming preponderance in the 
upper House for the six years prior to 1861. 

In the South, the opponents of the Compromise attempted 
to make head under the banner of State Rights. Mississippi 
having been represented in the Senate of 1850 by Jefferson 
Davis, who strongly opposed, and by Henry S. Foote, who as 
vehemently supported, the Compromise, that State divided 
into two new parties, termed " Union " and " State Eights " 
respectively, and nominated the two Senators as rival candi 
dates for Governor. A most spirited contest resulted in the 
polling of an unprecedented vote, nearly 60,000 in all, 
and the choice of Foote, " Union," by more than 1,000 ma 
jority. The residue of the Union Ticket was carried by a still 
larger average majority. 

In South Carolina, the new parties were essentially the 
same, but the names were different ; " Cooperation " that is, 
a resolve to solicit and await the concurrence of other Slave 
States before initiating forcible resistance to the Compromise 
acts being adopted as the watchword of the more moderate 
party. As their election did not come off till Mississippi and 
other Southern States had unequivocally decided against the 
" Chivalry," or " Fire-Eaters," these were beaten here also by 
a large majority, and the hope of dragging the South into an 
attitude of Nullification or Disunion on this issue shown to 
be utterly futile. 



And now the two great parties held their several Presiden 
tial Conventions, that of the Whigs assembling at Baltimore, 
about the 1st of June, 1852. Mr. Fillmore was supported for 
reelection by nearly all the Southern, as General Scott was 
by the great body of the Northern, adherents of the drooping 
flag. The delegates friendly to either were 130 to 134 in 



THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WHIG PARTY. 279 

number, while 30 to 36 preferred Mr. Webster to either of 
them. Mr. Webster had been the Ajax of Compromise, had 
been chosen by Mr. Fillmore as his Secretary of State, and in 
that capacity had given character and dignity to the Adminis 
tration. There was reason, therefore, for Mr. Webster s san 
guine hope, that, when Mr. Fillmore s nomination was proved 
clearly hopeless, his name would be withdrawn, and his 
strength transferred to his illustrious premier. This hope was 
doomed, however, to disappointment. Forty or fifty ballots 
were had without result ; when the supporters of Webster 
gradually went over to Scott, who was thereupon nominated, 
with William A. Graham, of North Carolina, for Vice-Presi- 
dent. 

But the friends of Fillmore and Webster, though differing 
as to candidates, were a unit as to platform ; and they framed . 
one which pledged the party unequivocally to the support 
and maintenance of the Compromises of 1850. General 
Scott made haste to plant himself squarely on this platform, 
which was in undoubted accordance with his own preposses 
sions. He thus alienated thousands of Anti-Slavery Whigs^A 
whose detestation of the new and stringent Fugitive Slave law 
was uncontrollable ; while the Conservative or " Silver Gray " 
Whigs, would not support him because the great body of 
Anti-Slavery Whigs did, and because they foresaw that his 
counsellors must necessarily be chosen in good part from 
among these. 

The delegates to the Democratic National Convention were 
divided in their preferences for President, General Cass 
and Mr. Buchanan being the leading favorites, but a good 
many votes being scattered upon others. Finally, Franklin 
Pierce, of Xew Hampshire, was brought forward, and nomi 
nated with substantial unanimity. He had been a representa 
tive in, and finally Speaker of, the more popular branch of the 
Legislature of his State, a Piepresentative and Senator in Con 
gress, and then a volunteer and Brigadier-General in the Mexi 
can W T ar, but had passed the last eight years mainly in retire 
ment. A pleasing canvasser, of popular address and manners, 



280 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

he could not be said to have achieved eminence, whether in 
his civil or his military career ; indeed, General Cass, who 
had served with him two or three years as fellow-Democrats 
in the Senate, had not made his acquaintance up to the hour 
of his nomination. Hon. William li. King, of Alabama, who 
had long been United States Senator from that State, was 
nominated with him for Vice-President. 

The ensuing canvass was short, tolerably spirited, but one 
sided from the start. The Democrats, who were quietly 
ploughing with the "Silver Gray" heifer throughout, knew 
they were backed to win, that there could be no mistake 
about it. The Whigs tried hard to stem the tide ; but the 
nomination of John P. Hale for President by the Abolitionists 
was a heavy side-blow, as he was sure to take thousands of 
votes which, but for the Compromise platform, would have 
been given for Scott. Maine and California in September, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana in October, gave majorities 
or decisive pluralities for the Democrats. The WTiigs were 
thus prepared for defeat, but not for the overwhelming rout 
which overtook them, when, at the closing of the polls in 
November, it was found that they had carried precisely four 
States, Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee, 
all the rest having chosen Pierce electors, New York by 
some 25,000 plurality ; Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, &c., by 
majorities equally conclusive. True, the popular vote showed 
no such disparity as the electoral ; but the preponderance ex 
ceeded 200,000 in an aggregate poll of about Three Millions. 
The Whig party had been often beaten before ; this defeat 
proved it practically defunct, and in an advanced stage of de 
composition. 



XXXIV. 

THE SLAVERY CONTROVERS Y. 

F AM naturally anti-Slavery. If Slavery is not wrong^ 
1 then nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did 
not so think and feel." So said Abraham Lincoln to Governor 
Bramlette, ex-Senator Dixon, and Editor Hodges, when they 
waited on him with Kentucky s remonstrance against the 
arming of Blacks to put down the Rebellion, and against the 
Emancipation policy, too tardily adopted on the part of the 
Union. 

I believe Mr. Lincoln thus forcibly gave expression to what 
was the very general experience of American boys reared in 
the Free States forty to sixty years ago, while the traditions 
and the impulses of our Revolutionary age were still vivid 
and pervading, at least, of those trained by intelligent Fed 
eral mothers. In the South, it may have been otherwise ; 
though nearly all the great Southrons of our country s purer 
days, from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, down 
to Henry Clay, were at least theoretical emancipationists. As 
the fires of the Revolution never burned so deeply, nor shone 
so vividly, in the South as in the North, it is natural that 
they should there have sooner been stifled, if not extinguished ; 
yet I was fifteen years old when the avowal of pro-Slavery 
sentiments by a Northern Representative * in Congress called 
forth an instant and indignant rebuke from several eminent 
natives f and champions of the South. 

* Edward Everett of Massachusetts. 

t Churchill C. Cambreleng, of North Carolina (removed to New York) ; 
J. C. Mitchell, of Tennessee ; John Randolph, of Virginia. 



282 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Though but a child of seven to ten years, I was an om 
nivorous reader throughout the progress of the great Missouri 
struggle, and intensely sympathized with the North in her 
effort to prevent the admission of Missouri as a Slave State. 
The defeat of that effort showed that it had been made too 
late, that the North should have insisted on the exclusion 
of Slavery from at least her share of Louisiana immediately 
after its purchase from France, or when it came to be organ 
ized as a Territory (or Territories) of the Union. " Just as 
the twig is bent the tree s inclined," is an axiom of the 
widest scope ; and letting Slavery (or any other evil) creep 
into a vast region, and there quietly establish and fortify 
itself, while that region is called a Territory, intending and 
expecting to extrude and exclude it when said region shall 
present itself for recognition and admission as a State, is a 
manifest futility. The problem involved is neatly set forth 
in the hackneyed old Parliamentary epigram : 

" I hear a lion in the lobby roar ; 
Say, Mr. Speaker, shall we shut the door, 
And keep him out ? or shall we let him in, 
And see if we can turn him out again ? " 

Mr. Jefferson, in his purer, nobler days, before he became 
the leader and oracle of a great party which, in spite of his 
unconcealed prepossessions, gave him the votes for President 
of nearly all the essentially Slave States, and thenceforth 
leaned more and more upon the Slave Power for support, so 
long as that Power had a substantial existence, had pro 
posed, and nearly carried, in the Continental Congress of 1784, 
the absolute exclusion of Slavery from all the territory then 
belonging to, or likely to be acquired by, the old Confedera 
tion. The Revolutionary War Was then barely ended; the 
British troops still held the city of New York ; and the acci 
dental absence of a member from New Jersey probably pre 
vented the adoption at that time of a policy which would 
have realized the hopes of our Revolutionary heroes and 
sages, by quietly, gradually tending to and insuring the 
peaceful, bloodless extirpation of Human Bondage from our 



THE SLAVERY CONTROVERSY. 283 

country. To have confined it, as Mr. Jefferson purposed and 
proposed, to the existing States which saw fit to maintain it, 
making their bounds a limit beyond which it could not pass, 
would not have been an expeditious nor heroic, but would 
have been a cheap, quiet, and certain mode of ridding the 
country of its most gigantic wrong and peril. But Mr. Jeffer 
son was soon sent envoy to France, and the next Congress 
reduced his statesmanlike programme so as merely to exclude 
Slavery from all the territory then possessed by the Confed 
eration; viz., the region lying between the Ohio and the 
Mississippi. And when the vast, wild country then known 
as Louisiana came to be acquired from France, though few 
years had passed, and Mr. Jefferson was then at the zenith of 
his power, no potent voice was raised in favor of consecrating 
at least its still virgin soil, or even the Northern half of it, to 
Free Labor forever. There is a sad pathos in the simple Scrip 
tural narration, " Another king arose, who knew not Joseph " ; 
but in these faster ages we do not need to await the transfor 
mation wrought by death ; our kings forget, not merely their 
Josephs, but whatever was best and noblest of themselves. 

Mr. Jefferson having thus, in 1784, proposed, and all but 
carried, the exclusion of Slavery absolutely and forever from 
all the territory contained within our National Boundaries, 
and not yet embraced within the jurisdiction of our thirteen 
States, though much of it was still the especial property of 
North Carolina and Georgia, both Slave States ; Congress, in 
1787, unanimously adopted Mr. Jefferson s prohibition, but 
confined its application to such territory as had already been 
ceded to, and was then possessed by, the Confederation. The 
next Congress was chosen and met under the Federal Con 
stitution ; and this, without a dissenting voice, ratified and 
confirmed the prohibition, as already made ; but the Territories, 
soon thereafter cut off from North Carolina and Georgia, to 
be ultimately moulded into the States of Tennessee, Alabama, 
and Mississippi, were expressly shielded, in the acts or ordi 
nances whereby they were ceded, from the operation of the 
anti-Slavery proviso of 1787, and thus fastened to the car of 
Bondage. 



284 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

And thenceforth no new National effort was made in the 
right direction until the Missouri struggle, which resulted in 
our defeat on the main point, through the medium of a Com 
promise; the make- weight being a stipulation that Slavery 
should thenceforth be excluded from all United States terri 
tory north of the line of 36 30 north latitude, that is, the 
southern boundary of Missouri. In other words, it was agreed 
and stipulated that Missouri being admitted as a Slave 
State all our remaining territory, and consequently all our 
States still in embryo, north of the southern boundary of that 
State, should be evermore free. 



"After a storm comes a calm." From 1821 to 1835, or from 
my tenth to my twenty-fourth year, the Northern people 
busy, usually prosperous, and pretty steadily increasing in 
numbers, wealth, and power very generally ignored the sub 
ject of Slavery. The convictions of that portion of them who 
may be said to have had any were not materially changed ; 
but what use in parading a conviction which can have no 
other effect than that of annoying your proud and powerful 
neighbor ? True, Benjamin Lundy had already begun the 
agitation for Slavery s overthrow, which William Lloyd Gar 
rison and others, during this period, continued and methodized ; 
but the handful of proclaimed, aggressive Abolitionists were 
as one to a thousand, even at the North ; while none were 
tolerated at the South. And, in fact, whatever of impunity 
they enjoyed throughout the greater portion of the North was 
accorded them rather through contempt for their insignificance 
than willingness to let them be heard. Had it been imagined 
that the permanence of Slavery was endangered by their 
efforts, they would scarcely have escaped with their lives from 
any city or considerable village wherein they attempted to 
hold forth : even as it was, hootings, bowlings, blackguard 
revilings, rotten eggs, stoned windows, &c., &c., were among 
the milder demonstrations of repugnance to which they were 
habitually subjected. 



THE SLAVERY CONTROVERSY. 285 

And, while I could not withhold from these agitators a cer 
tain measure of sympathy for their great and good object, I 
was utterly unable to see how their efforts tended to the 
achievement of their end. Granted (most heartily) that 
Slavery ought to be abolished, how was that consummation to 
be effected by societies and meetings of men, women, and 
children, who owned no slaves, and had no sort of control 
over, or even intimacy with, those who did ? 

Suppose the people of Vermont all converted to Abolition, 
how was that, to bring about the overthrow of Slavery in 
Georgia ? I could not say nor see ; and therefore I was never 
a member of any distinctively Abolition society, and very 
rarely found time to attend an Abolition meeting. Conserva 
tive by instinct, by tradition, and disinclined to reject or leave 
undone the practical good within reach, while straining after 
the ideal good that was clearly unattainable, I clung fondly 
to the Whig party, and deprecated the Abolition or Third 
Party movement in politics, as calculated fatally to weaken 
the only great National organization which was likely to op 
pose an effective resistance to the persistent exactions and 
aggressions of the Slave Power. Hence, I for years regarded 
with complacency the Colonization movement, as looking to 
the establishment of a respectable, if not formidable, Christian 
republic on the western coast of Africa, and vaguely hoped 
that a day might ultimately dawn, wherein the rudely trans 
planted children of Africa might either be restored to her soil, 
or established, under a government and flag of their own, in 
some tropical region of our own continent. 

Two events, of nearly simultaneous occurrence, materially 
modified these preconceptions. One was the irruption of 
certain Western filibusterers, of whom Sam Houston may be 
regarded as the leader and type, into the Mexican province 
of Texas, under the pretence of colonization and settlement, 
but with deliberate intent to wrest that province, under the 
pretence of a revolution, from its rightful owners, and then 
annex it to the United States ; thus expanding the area and 
enhancing the power of American Slavery, a programme 



286 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

which was thoroughly realized in the course of ten or twelve 
years. 

It is easy to sever the acts of this drama so as to ignore 
their continuity and interdependence ; but I, who read the 
exulting anticipations of the end from the beginning, having 
no motive for self-delusion, never affected it. In my view, 
the whole business was one of gigantic spoliation, of naked 
villany, and its " being s end and ayn " were the aggrandize 
ment of the Slave Power. 

The coordinate event was the martyrdom, of Elijah P. 
Lovejoy, a young Congregational minister, sent out from 
Maine to St. Louis as an evangelist in 1832, and soon im 
pelled to start in that city an Orthodox Protestant newspaper, 
wherein Slavery, like Intemperance and other social evils, 
was treated as an impediment to the spread and sway of vital 
godliness. Perhaps his aggressive Protestantism had some 
influence in arousing the resolute, menacing opposition which 
at length destroyed his establishment, and drove him from 
the city and the State.* At all events, Mr. Lovejoy was 
urged, and in effect compelled, to remove his establishment to 
Alton, Illinois ; where he fondly trusted a religious journal 
would be tolerated, even though it should occasionally expose 
and reprobate the iniquities necessarily inherent in or flowing 
from man-selling and man-owning. 

Vain hope ! there is, there can be, no Free State in a nation 
which allows its people to be bought and sold, held and 
treated, like cattle. Soon, Mr. Lovejoy was ordered to " move 
on " ; and, failing to do so, his press was a second time de 
stroyed by a mob. Again he resolved to renew and refit his 
establishment ; and was proceeding to do so, when, surrounded 
by a few friends, he stood to arms for the defence of his 
property and his right of utterance, at the warehouse where 
his third press had just been landed from Cincinnati, and was 
shot deadf by one of the pro-Slavery ruffians, who thus attest 
ed their cjevotion to the Union and to " Southern Rights." 
And no legal justice was ever meted out to his murderers, 

* In May, 1836. t November 7, 1837. 



THE SLAVERY CONTROVERSY. 287 

no restitution made to his bereaved family for his press and 
type, which constituted "the spoils of victory." He had 
dared, as a Christian minister, to argue the incompatibility 
of Slavery with the Golden Eule; and the mob had dealt 
him therefor what the messages of President Jackson, of Gov 
ernor Marcy, &c., &c., set forth as his substantial deserts. 

If I had ever been one of those who sneeringly asked, " What 
have we of the North to do with Slavery ? " the murder of 
Lovejoy would have supplied me with a conclusive answer. A 
thousand flagrant outrages had been, and were, committed upon 
the persons and property of men and women guilty of no 
crime but that of publicly condemning Slavery; but these 
were usually the work of irresponsible mobs, acting under 
some sort of excitement ; but Lovejoy was deliberately, sys 
tematically, hunted to his death, simply because he would 
not, in a nominally Free State, cease to bear testimony as a 
Christian minister and journalist to the essential iniquity of 
slaveholding. It was thenceforth plain to my apprehension, 
that Slavery and true Freedom could not coexist on the same 
soil. And this conviction was deepened and strengthened by 
the progress and issue of the struggle which resulted in the 
Annexation of Texas and the consequent War upon Mexico. 

That Slavery, having thus extended her power in and over 
the Union, should not reap a further advantage, through the 
extension of her sway over the whole or any portion of the 
territory beyond Texas, most unrighteously wrested from 
Mexico, was my earnest resolution. To break the dangerous 
hold which the Slave Power had already gained in New 
Mexico, through the preposterously impudent, but not there 
fore impotent, claim of Texas to the ownership of that 
country, through the committal of the Democratic party, if 
not of the Federal Government also, to the support of that 
claim, through the advance of General Taylor, by President 
Polk s express orders, to the Eio Grande, near Matamoras, 
and the consequent outbreak of actual hostilities, was the 
cardinal point which I kept steadily in view while in Con 
gress, and which moved me to give a qualified support to 



288 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

so much of Mr. Clay s original programme of Compromise as 
contemplated the admission of California and the organization 
of the remaining acquisitions from Mexico. 

This general survey has seemed essential to a clear com 
prehension of the circumstances under which a new and more 
pervading excitement was aroused at the North by the shape 
ultimately given by Senator Douglas to his bill for the organ 
ization of the new Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, an 
excitement which recast the great parties, and gave a new 
phase to our National career* 



In politics, as in nature, great events may seem to result 
from inadequate causes, because a long series of preexisting 
causes are unnoted or ignored. The North gave a majority 
of its Electoral votes to Polk, against Clay, not because of 
the Texas issue, but in spite of it. The more intelligent, 
considerate, conscientious Democrats did not approve of the 
proposed Annexation of Texas under existing circumstances ; 
but they were too intent on beating Mr. Clay to give much 
thought or weight to the Texas issue ; and, beside, they were 
able to convince themselves that there was little difference 
as to Texas between Polk and Clay. But, the struggle being 
over, and their ancient grudge satisfied, the celerity where 
with Annexation was effected the election of Polk being 
triumphantly quoted as justifying and even requiring it 
made a deep impression on their minds. They could not now 
effectually breast the sweeping current; but they saw, re 
flected, and quietly bided their time. In the Democratic 
triumph of 1844 was the germ of future Democratic disasters 
and humiliations. 



XXXV. 

THE NEW ERA IN POLITICS. 

THE Presidential contest of 1852 had witnessed if I 
should not rather say attested the practical dissolution 
of the Whig party, dissolved not by popular aversion to its 
principles or its leaders, but by the ever-increasing and ulti 
mately absorbing importance acquired by questions to which 
those principles bore no direct relation. A majority of the 
voters of Pennsylvania, of Ohio, of Maryland, of North Caro 
lina, Kentucky, and several other States, still agreed with the 
Whigs in favoring Protection to Home Industry, National 
Internal Improvements, &c., &c. ; but other questions had as 
sumed greater prominence or imminence in the minds of many 
of them ; and these, by dividing and distracting those who had 
been Whigs, had not merely overthrown the former Whig 
ascendency, but precluded all rational hope of its reestablish- 
ment. The veterans who had fought their best campaigns 
under the lead of Clay, Harrison, or Webster, might not re 
alize this, might persist in holding conventions, framing 
platforms, nominating candidates, and even achieving local 
successes ; but the young, the ambitious, the unprejudiced, 
had already perceived by instinct that the party which tri 
umphed in 1840 and in 1848 which was barely, even if 
fairly, outnumbered in 1844 was so paralyzed by divisions 
and defections founded on new or alien issues, that it could 
hardly be expected ever to carry the country again. And its 
virtual dissolution left the ground open and inviting for new 
combinations and developments. 

The first of these in the order of time was the " American," 

19 



290 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

familiarly characterized as the " Know-Nothing," movement, 
It had its origin in this city; where a similar, but less vigorous, 
less formidable, organization had been effected in 1843-44, 
as also at an earlier day. It now assumed the shape of a se 
cret Order, hostile in profession to foreign domination, and in 
effect to the naturalization of immigrants until after a resi 
dence in this .country of twenty -one years, and more especially 
to Eoman Catholic influence and ascendency. Hitherto, this 
movement had been confined to a few of our great cities and 
their vicinage, and had, after a brief career, subsided ; but now 

fit pervaded most of our States, achieving temporary triumphs 

i in Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware, and stoutly battling 
for ascendency even in Virginia, as in nearly every Eastern 
State ; and for a brief season it seemed destined to sweep all 
before it, and remodel our institutions into conformity with 

^its ideas. But its apparent strength was largely factitious, 
men of diverse parties, of radically incompatible views and 
purposes, using its machinery to further their several ends, 
and discarding it whenever such use was precluded or defeated. 

/The fact that almost every " Know-Nothing " was at heart a 
Whin- or a Democrat, a champion or an opponent of Slavery, 

I and felt a stronger, deeper interest in other issues than in 
those which affiliated him with the " Order," rendered its dis 
ruption and abandonment a question, not of years, but of 
months. It claimed to have carried the Legislature of our 

State in 1854 ; but that Legislature reflected to the Senate 
William H. Seward, who had no sympathy with any of its 
purposes ; it actually chose the State officers elected in our 
State in 1855, though it polled less than three eighths of the 
entire vote, running its candidates in between those of the 
Uwo adverse parties ; but its attempt to choose a President in 
1856 resulted in disastrous rout ; the only State carried by it 
being Maryland, though Millard Fillmore was its candidate 
for President, with Andrew J. Donelson, the nephew and heir 
of General Jackson, for Yice-President. Thenceforth, it dwin 
dled rapidly, until its members had been fully absorbed into one 
or the other of the great rival parties some four years thereafter. 



THE NEW ERA IN POLITICS. 291 

The simultaneous in fact, concurrent at the outset, but 
widely divergent movement which has since so deeply in 
fluenced our national career had its origin in the attempt to 
organize the territories lying directly west of the State of 
Missouri and Iowa, under the name of Nebraska. The lead 
ing facts in the premises are so widely known, and have been 
so thoroughly discussed, that I may pass over them hurriedly ; 
yet they excited so powerful an influence over my own subse 
quent course that I cannot wholly ignore them. 

Stephen Arnold Douglas, a Yermonter by birth, had made 
Illinois his home ; and, though his education was limited, and 
his means moderate, aspired to fortune and power as a lawyer 
and politician. A Democratic candidate for Congress in 1838, 
in a district which included the northern two thirds of the 
area of the State, and now contains at least 1,500,000 inhabi 
tants, he was beaten 68 votes by his Whig competitor in a 
poll of 36,742, though the Democratic Governor had therein 
a decided majority. But Mr. Douglas evinced in the canvass 
qualities that endeared him to his party, by which he was 
soon made a judge, in a few years chosen a Eepresentative in 
Congress, and in due course transferred to the Senate, where 
he was placed on the Committee on Territories, and in time 
became its Chairman. As such, he had already (at the short 
session of 1852 - 53) introduced a bill to organize the Territory 
of Nebraska, which Senator Atchison, of western Missouri, 
had opposed and obstructed, notoriously in the interest of 
Slavery, the territory in question having been expressly, 
undeniably, consecrated to Free Labor by the Missouri Com 
promise of 1820. 

At the next long session of 1853-54, Mr. Douglas rein- 
troduced his bill to organize the territory in question ; and 
now for the first time did he seek to deprecate the hostility 
evinced through Mr. Atchison by an intimation that the 
Compromise of 1850 had superseded and annulled the inter 
dict of 1820. Hereupon, Mr. Dixon, of Kentucky, inter 
posed a direct proposition that the interdict be repealed and 
cancelled. Mr. Douglas did not at once acquiesce, and The 



292 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Union (the Democratic organ at Washington) pointedly de 
nounced the Dixon amendment ; but Mr. Douglas, after some 
hesitation, accepted it in principle, and interpolated it into 
his bill, in terms which declared " the true intent and mean 
ing " thereof to be " neither to legislate Slavery into the ter 
ritory in question, nor to exclude it therefrom," but to leave 
the people thereof perfectly free to establish or exclude " the 
peculiar institution," as to them should seem advisable. And 
President Pierce, though he at first resisted and protested, 
was ultimately induced to sustain this proposition, and to 
give a written pledge (as I am well assured) that he would 
do so to the end. 

Soon after the bill had taken this shape, and while the 
North was beginning to be aroused to resist it, I was travers 
ing Ohio; and, visiting either Newark or Lancaster, I was 
there introduced to Hon. Henry Stanberry, who, years before, 
had been an eminent representative in Congress, but was now 
old and retired from public life. "What do you think of 
this Nebraska bill ? " he eagerly inquired. " I think it bound 
to pass," was my response. " Ah ! I see you don t under 
stand it," he confidently rejoined : " Frank Pierce has had 
this project introduced, in order that he may veto it; and 
then nothing can prevent his reelection." I might have 
assured Mr. Stanberry that a Democratic President who 
should lead his party into such a quagmire for his own per 
sonal advantage would not be long for this world ; but he 
was much older than I, and I left him firm in his original 
faith. 

I do not propose to trace here the history of the Nebraska 
bill, which was at length so modified by its author as to pro 
vide for two distinct Territories, that lying directly west 
ward of Missouri being designated Kansas, while the residue 
of that originally contemplated became Nebraska. In this 
shape, it passed the Senate by 35 Yeas to 13 Nays, and the 
House by 113 Yeas to 100 Nays, nine of the latter from 
Slave States. And thereupon commenced a practical strug 
gle between Freedom and Slavery for the possession of Kan- 



THE NEW ERA IN POLITICS. 293 

sas, which lasted down to her final admission as a Free State, 
after the Southern representatives had abandoned their seats 
in Congress, in obedience to their States respective Ordi 
nances of Secession. 

As I gave, from first to last, whatever of strength I pos 
sessed, and of effort that I was capable of making, to the 
work of arousing the people of the Free States to resist and 
baffle, step by step, the attempt to open to Slavery the region 
already solemnly pledged to Free Labor, I desire briefly to 
set forth the grounds of that resistance whereon conservative 
Unionism and radical Anti-Slavery seemed to meet and 
coincide. 

Slavery, as a local institution, was primarily the business 
of the States which saw fit to uphold it. We of the North, 
under our Federal Constitution as it then stood, had the same 
right to deprecate and oppose it that we had to oppose drunk 
enness in Canada, or polygamy in Turkey, no less, no more. 
Only when it transcended the limits of those States, and 
challenged favor and support as a matter of National or gen 
eral concern, did it (in our view) expose itself to our political 
antagonism. Only when it sought to involve us in a com 
mon effort, a common responsibility, with its upholders and 
champions, did it force us into an attitude of active, deter 
mined antagonism. This view had been succinctly and for 
cibly set forth, with immediate reference to Texas, so early as 
February, 1838, by Daniel Webster, in a speech at Niblo s 
Garden, New York, and was held (I presume) by a large ma 
jority of those citizens of the Free States who supposed that 
conscience and morality have any business in the sphere of 
politics. 

Yet the rulers of opinion at the South seemed never to 
comprehend, nor even to consider it. In their view, whoever 
evinced repugnance to Slavery anywhere, under any circum 
stances, was an Abolitionist, and an enemy of their section, 
a wanton aggressor upon their rights. What they in effect 
required of us, and what those whom they heeded and 
trusted at the North accorded them, was partnership in the 



294 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

extension and fortification of Slavery and the Slave Power. 
"True, we hold and work the slaves," they virtually said; 
" but as much for your profit as for our own. You buy our 
crops, and sell us whatever we need or fancy in return. You 
own the vessels that fetch and carry for us ; you supply our 
fabrics, and make a part of them : help us to diffuse our in 
stitution over more territory, and we will g % row more cotton 
and buy more goods, to your satisfaction and profit : Why 
not ? " The answer given to this question by her Northern 
factors, servitors, political allies, the South heard and rejoiced 
in : the very different response made by the conscience of 
the North, she did not, because she would not, hear and com 
prehend. 

The passage of the Nebraska Bill w r as a death-blow to 
Northern quietism arid complacency, mistakingly deeming 
themselves conservatism. To all who had fondly dreamed or 
blindly hoped that the Slavery question would somehow set 
tle itself, it cried, " Sleep no more ! " in thunder-tones that 
would not die unheeded. Concession and complacency were 
plainly doomed to subserve none other than the most tran 
sient purposes. Every new surrender on the part of the 
North was seen to provoke a new exaction in the name of the 
South. Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, the more that 
was conceded, the more was still required. As, in the ascent 
of a mountain, 

" Hills peep over hills, and Alps on Alps arise," 

so a long vista of future exactions and concessions was 
opened by this latest and fullest triumph of aggressive Slav 
ery. Systematic, determined resistance was now recognized 
as imperative duty. That resistance could only be rendered 
effective through a distinct, compact political organization. 
That organization was therefore resolved on, spontaneously 
and simultaneously, by a million Northern firesides. It was 
earliest effected in the West, but had pervaded nearly every 
Free State before the close of 1854, and had assumed almost 
everywhere a common designation, that of the Kepublicau 
party. 



XXXVI. 

MY FARM. 

I SHOULD have been a farmer. All my riper tastes in 
cline to that blessed calling whereby the human family 
and its humbler auxiliaries are fed. Its quiet, its segregation 
from strife, and brawls, and heated rivalries, attract and de 
light me. I hate to earn my bread in any calling which 
complicates my prosperity in some sort with others adversity, 
my success with others defeat. The farmer s floors may 
groan with the weight of his crops, yet no one else deems 
himself the poorer therefor. He may grow a hundred bush 
els of corn or forty of wheat to every arable acre, without 
arousing jealousy or inciting to detraction. 

I am content with my lot, and grateful for the generosity 
wherewith my labors have been rewarded ; and yet I say 
that, were I now to begin my life anew, I would choose to 
earn my bread by cultivating the soil. Blessed is he whose 
day s exertion ends with the evening twilight, and who can 
sleep unbrokenly and without anxiety till the dawn awakes 
him, with energies renewed and senses brightened, to fresh 
activity and that fulness of health and vigor which are 
vouchsafed to those only who spend most of their waking 
hours in the free, pure air and renovating sunshine of the 
open country. 

I would have been a farmer, had any science of farming 
been known to those among whom my earlier boyhood was 
passed. We New-Englanders supposed ourselves, even then, 
an educated, intelligent people, and, relatively considered, 
were so : there was no person among us, over twelve years 



296 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

old, who had not enjoyed the privileges of common schools, 
and learned therein to read, write, and cipher ; we all read 
Looks and newspapers, and / read nearly all of both that were 
to be found in our neighborhood ; yet I cannot remember 
that I had ever seen a periodical devoted to farming, up to 
the day wherein, in my sixteenth year, I abandoned the farm 
for the printery. A book treating of Agriculture, or seeking 
to set forth the rationale of its processes, the natural laws on 
which they are based, I certainly had not seen. Nay, more : 
during the ten or twelve years in which I attended school, 
more or less, I never saw a treatise on Chemistry, Geology, 
or Botany, in a school-room. I hardly saw one anywhere. 
That true Agriculture is a grand, ennobling science, based on 
other sciences, and its pursuit a liberal, elevating profession, 
was not even hinted, much less inculcated, in any essay, speech, 
or sermon, any book, pamphlet, or periodical, so far as I then 
knew. Farming, as understood and practised by those 
among whom I grew up, was a work for oxen ; and for me 
the life of an ox had no charms. Most of those I knew 
seemed to till the earth mainly because they could not help 
it ; and I felt that / could help it. So I shook from my bro- 
gans the dust of the potato-patch, and stepped out in quest 
of employment better suited to an intelligent, moral being. 

It was a quarter of a century after this before I felt able 
to buy or make the -farm whereon to abide the coming of 
decay and death. I had been some twenty years a resident 
of the city, and fifteen the head of a household. Six children 
had been born to me, and four of them had died, as I am 
confident some of them would not so prematurely have done, 
had they been born and reared in the country. 

I had earned and bought a small but satisfactory house in 
the very heart of the city ; but who, if he has any choice, 
prefers to grow old and die at No. 239, unknown to, and uri- 
cared for by, the denizens of Nos. 237 and 241 ? For my 
family s sake, if not for my own, a country home was re 
quired : so I looked about and found one. 

The choice was substantially directed by my wife, who 



MY FARM. 297 

said she insisted on but three requisites, 1. A peerless spring 
of pure, soft, living water ; 2. A cascade or brawling brook ; 
3. Woods largely composed of evergreens. These may seem 
light matters ; yet I was some time in finding them grouped 
on the same small plat, within reasonable distance from the 
city. 

I did find them, however; and those who object to my 
taste in choosing for my home a rocky, wooded hillside, 
sloping to the north of west, with a bog at its foot, cannot 
judge me fairly, unless they consider the above require 
ments. 

My land was previously the rugged, mainly wooded, out- 
skirt of two adjacent farms, whereof my babbling brook 
formed the boundary. 

Nine miles above White Plains, and thirty-five N. 1ST. E. of 
our City Hall, the Harlem Eailroad, when nearly abreast of 
the village of Sing-Sing, and six miles east of it, just after 
entering the township of Newcastle, crosses a quite small, 
though pretty constant, mill-stream, named by the Indians 
Chappaqua, which is said to have meant falling or babbling 
water, and which, here running to the southeast, soon takes 
a southwesterly turn, recrosses under the railroad, and finds 
its way into the Hudson, through the Sawmill or Nepperhan 
creek, at Yonkers. A highway, leading westward to Sing- 
Sing, crosses the railroad, just north of the upper crossing of 
the brook, and gives us, some twenty rods from the north 
west corner of my farm, a station and a post-office, which, 
with our modest village of twenty or thirty houses, take their 
name from our mill-stream. Chappaqua is not a very liquid 
trisyllable, but there is comfort in the fact that it is neither 
Clinton, nor Washington, nor Middletown, nor any of the 
trite appellations which have been so often reapplied, that 
half the letters intended for one of them are likely to bring 
up at some other. (How can a rational creature be so 
thoughtless as to date his letter merely " Greenfield," or " Jack 
son," or " Springfield," and imagine that the stranger he ad 
dresses can possibly guess whither to mail the answer ?) 



298 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

My brook has its source in wooded, granite hills, on the 
east southeast, and comes tinkling or brawling thence to be 
lost in the Chappaqua, a few rods south of the road to Pleas- 
antville, which forms my southwestern boundary. As to 
springs, there are not less than a dozen, which no drouth 
exhausts, breaking out along the foot of my hill, or at the 
base of a higher ridge which forms its crest. 

My woods are the pride of the farm, which without them 
would never have been my farm. They cover about twenty- 
five of the seventy-five acres which compose it ; and I say to 
them, with Oriental courtesy, and more than Oriental sincerity, 
" May your shadow never be less ! " For the ground they 
cover is in good part an irregular, sideling granite ledge, or 
portions of a ledge, thinly covered by a granitic, gravelly soil, 
which could not be made to grow anything but wood to the 
profit of the grower ; whereas, it grows wood better than a rich 
Illinois or Kansas prairie often condescends to do. Its trees 
are mainly Hemlock and Red Cedar (my evergreens), White 
and Eed Oak, Whitewood, Chestnut, White and Blue Beech, 
Dogwood, White Ash, Sugar and Soft Maple, Elm, Hickory, 
Tulip, Butternut, Black, Yellow, and White Birch. There were 
just two trees that I could not name, after twenty years absorp 
tion in the city ; one of them is known as Pepperidge, the 
other as Yellow Poplar. There were a good many wild Black 
Cherries ; but these I have nearly exterminated, as they bred 
caterpillars to infest my Apple-trees. Of shrubs, there are 
many that I cannot name. Witch Hazel, Bunch W T illow, 
Choke Cherry, Hazel, Sassafras, and Sumac, are among those 
that I readily recognized. Swamp Alder infested the springy, 
rocky, boggy ground at the foot of one of my hills, till I extir 
pated it, and the Dogwood is marked for speedy destruction. 
It beautifies nay, glorifies the woods while in blossom for 
a week or so early in May ; but it is of no account as timber, 
while it sows its seed everywhere, and tends to monopolize 
a good deal more ground than it will pay for. 

My first care, on getting possession of my farm, was to 
shut cattle out of the greater part of the woods, where they 



MY FARM. 299 

had been free to roam and ravage throughout the two prece 
ding centuries that this region had felt the presence of civi 
lized man. Pasturing woods is one of the most glaring vices 
of our semi-barbarian agriculture. Cattle browse the tender 
twigs of delicate, valuable young trees, while they leave the 
coarse and worthless unscathed. I have, to-day, ten times as 
many of the Sugar Maple, White Ash, etc., coming on in my 
woods as there were when I bought and shut the cattle out 
of them. 

I have no blind horror of cutting trees. Any fairly grown 
forest can always spare trees, and be benefited by their re 
moval. But I protest most earnestly against the reckless 
waste involved in cutting off and burning over our forests. 
In regions which are all woods, ground must of course be 
cleared for cultivation ; but many a farmer goes on slashing 
and burning long after he should halt and begin to be saving 
of his timber. Many of our dairymen are beginning to say, 
" Down with the rest of our woods ! we can buy all the coal 
we need for fuel, with half the butter and cheese we can 
make on our lands now covered with wood." Friends, that 
is a sad miscalculation. With one fourth of your land in 
wood, judiciously covering the crests of your ridges, the sides 
of your ravines, your farms will grow more grass than if 
wholly denuded and laid bare to the scorching sun. Pro 
tracted, desolating drouths, bleak, scathing winds, and the 
failure of delicate fruits like the Peach and finer Pears, are 
part of the penalty we pay for depriving our fields and gar 
dens of the genial, hospitable protection of forests. 

Of tree-planting, other than for fruit, I have as yet done 
little. A row of Rock Maples along the highways that skirt 
my farm, and a clump of evergreens just north of my garden, 
are nearly all I have to show. Any one can grow Sugar 
Maples who will try. To prove it, I need only say that I 
have lost but two in over a hundred, and these by accident, 
though my trees mainly came from Eochester, were opened 
on a warm, sunny day, and left thus with their roots exposed 
till thoroughly dry. I came upon the planter just then, 



300 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 



and told him he had killed the trees ; but I was mistaken. 
I would, however, advise no one to try the experiment of 
drying the roots of trees while transplanting them ; but, if he 
will be so careless, he may better take the risk on the Sugar 
Maple than on any other tree within my knowledge. 

As there is a stout hill just south of my farm, my lower 
land is overshadowed by hills in the two wrong directions, 
and so inclines to be cold. Just north of where my brook 
dances out of the glen which it has worn down the face of 




My Clump of Evergreens. 

the hill is my garden, with a slight elevation or ridge just 
north of it. 

This low ridge I have planted with evergreens, as a shel 
ter or wind-break for the garden. Part of them are Hemlocks 
and Bed Cedars, transplanted from the woods just at hand ; 
perhaps as many are Norway and other Pines, with Balsam 
and other Firs, obtained from nurseries. These latter have 



MY FARM. 301 

the more luxuriant growth, but all have done well ; and the 
copse or clump possibly forty rods in length by three or four 
in width is (at least in Winter) the pleasantest object seen 
on the farm. The little greenhouse which nestles beneath it 
is flanked by strawberry beds, a few grape-vines, and room for 
early vegetables, which, sloping gently southward, enjoy an 
average temperature several degrees higher than they would if 
the evergreens were away ; and the acre or so of level garden 
farther south is also, but less considerably, warmed and shel 
tered by this belt of evergreens, which not only verifies Shel 
ley s apothegm, that " A thing of beauty is a joy forever," but 
is a positive reinforcement to the productive capacity of the 
farm. 

I hope this narration will induce some I wish it might 
induce many to plant trees, and especially evergreens. 
Not merely as ornamental drapery to dwellings, but as molli- 
fiers of the harshness of our capricious climate, they have a 
value as yet too narrowly appreciated. A few choice trees, 
just old enough to transplant, cost but a trifle ; and whoever 
plants a dozen such judiciously, and shields them from in 
jury, has provided a source of healthful enjoyment, not only 
for his own lifetime, but for that of generations yet to be. 

But we need tree-planting on a broader scale than this. 
Wherever a ledge or giant rock impedes thorough tillage, there 
should be a tree, if not trees. Men of means and of thrift 
should buy up sterile tracts that are offered for sale at low 
rates, and promptly cover them with Wliite Oak, Hickory, 
White Pine, Locust, Chestnut, &c. They can no otherwise so 
safely and profitably invest their means for the benefit of 
their children, while benefiting also future generations. Tim 
ber grows steadily dearer and dearer ; streams become desolat 
ing torrents at intervals, and beds of dry sand and pebbles 
for weeks in Summer and Fall, because our hills have been 
too generally stripped and denuded of trees. Let us unitedly 
cease to do evil and learn to do well in relation to trees. 



XXXVII. 

MY FARMING. 

THOSE who have read my account of my farm will have 
judged that it is not well calculated to enrich its owner 
by large, easily produced crops, and that it was bought in full 
view of this fact. I wanted a place near a railroad station, 
and not too far from the city; my wife wanted pure air, 
agreeable scenery, reasonable seclusion, but, above all, a 
choice, never-failing spring, a cascade, and evergreen woods, 
as I have already stated. Having found these on the thirty- 
odd acres which comprised our original purchase, we were 
not so unreasonable as to expect to secure also the fertility 
and facility of a dry, gently rolling Western prairie, or of a 
rich intervale of the Connecticut or Hudson. We knew that 
our upland was in good part hard, steep, and rocky, and that 
its productive capacity never remarkable had been largely 
reduced by two centuries of persistent and often excessive 
pasturing. Sheep may thus be fed a thousand years, yet re 
turn to the soil nearly as much as they take from it ; not so 
with milch cows, when their milk is sent away to some city, 
and nothing returned therefor that enriches the fields whence 
that milk, in the shape of grass or hay, was drawn. And so, 
measurably, of Fruit : whereas Apples have long been a lead 
ing staple of our region, Newcastle having formerly boasted 
more Apple-trees than any township of its size in America. 
But an Apple-tree cannot forever draw on the bank of Mature 
without having its drafts protested, if nothing is ever depos 
ited there to its credit ; and caterpillars have so long been 
allowed to strip most of our trees unresisted, that many have 



MY FARMING. 303 

grown prematurely old and moss-covered. One year with 
another, Newcastle does not grow half so many Apples as her 
trees call for; and she never will till she feeds her trees bet 
ter and fights their enemies with more persistent resolution 
than she has done. I have seen five thousand of those trees, 
in the course of a brief morning ride in June, with more 
caterpillars than remaining leaves per tree; and very little 
reflection can be needed to show that trees so neglected for a 
few years will have outlived their usefulness. 

The woods are my special department. Whenever I can 
save a Saturday for the farm, I try to give a good part of it 
to my patch of forest. The axe is the healthiest imple 
ment that man ever handled, and is especially so for habitual 
writers and other sedentary workers, whose shoulders it 
throws back, expanding their chests, and opening their 
lungs. If every youth and man, from fifteen to fifty years 
old, could wield an axe two hours per day, dyspepsia would 
vanish from the earth, and rheumatism become decidedly 
scarce. I am a poor chopper ; yet the axe is my doctor and 
delight. Its use gives the mind just enough occupation to 
prevent its falling into revery or absorbing trains of thought, 
while every muscle in the body receives sufficient, yet not 
exhausting, exercise. I wish all our boys would learn to love 
the axe. 

I began by cutting out the Witch Hazels, and other trash 
not worth keeping, and trimming up my trees, especially the 
Hemlocks, which grow limbs clear to the ground, and throw 
them out horizontally to such a distance that several rods of 
ground are sometimes monopolized by a single tree. Many of 
these lower limbs die in the course of time, but do not fall off ; 
on the contrary, they harden and sharpen into spikes, which 
threaten your face and eyes as if they were bayonets. These 
I have gradually cut away and transformed into fuel. Many 
of my Hemlocks I have trimmed to a height of at least fifty 
feet ; and I mean to serve many others just so, if I can ever 
find time before old age compels me to stop climbing. 

But the Hemlock so bristles throughout with limbs that it 



304 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

can easily be climbed by a hale man till lie is seventy ; and, 
working with a hatchet or light axe, you commence trimming 
at the top, that is, as high as you choose to trim, and, 
without difficulty, cut all smooth as you work your way down. 
Limbs to the ground may be graceful in the edge of your 
wood ; but your tree will not make timber nearly so fast as 
if trimmed, and you cannot afford it so much space as it 
claims in the heart of your patch of forest. 

If I linger proudly among my trees, consider that here most 
of my farm- work has been done, and here my profit has been 
realized, in the shape of health and vigor. When I am asked 
the usual question, " How has your farming paid ? " I can 
truthfully answer that my part of it has paid splendidly, be 
ing all income and no outgo, and who can show a better 
balance-sheet than that ? 

Seriously I believe there is money to be made by judi 
cious tree-planting and forest-culture, now that railroads have 
so greatly cheapened the cost of transportation. If any man 
has or can buy a tract of woodland, or land too poor or 
broken to be profitably tilled, let him shut out cattle, and 
steadily plant choice trees while cutting out poorer ; let him 
cut every tree that stops growing and begins to decay, or shed 
its limbs ; let him not hesitate to thin as well as trim up ; let 
him cut out Eed Oak, for instance, and sow the acorns of 
White ; let him, when half a dozen or more sprouts start from 
a single stump, cut away all but two or three, and by and by 
cut again ; and I am confident that he may thus grow timber 
twice as rapidly as where it is neglected, and grow trees far 
more valuable than those that come by chance. Nay: if 
near a city, he can make a thousand dollars far more easily, 
though less quickly, by growing Timber than by growing 
Grain. 

The land I ultimately bought included part of an old or 
chard, which I estimated worth a little more than the fire 
wood that might be made of it ; but there I was mistaken. 
Old Apple-trees, never grafted, or grafted with indifferent 



MY FARMING. 305 

fruit, and which have been suffered to grow out of proper 
shape to a height of forty or fifty feet, so that caterpillars 
nourish in their tops with impunity, are simply nuisances. 
If you buy or inherit such, cut them down remorselessly 
the moment you can obtain fruit for your own use from 
others. 

On the land I first purchased was a young orchard of two 
acres, mainly Eussets, small fruit, but not inviting to 
worms, while it keeps splendidly, in fact, hardly becomes 
eatable till April or May. The Eusset yields bounteously 
and pretty constantly ; so that, if I were planting for profit 
in this region, I should give this sort the preference. I 
should carefully avoid the common error (which I, when 
greener, committed) of planting many sorts together ; indeed, 
I would prefer to have but one sort in an orchard, for the 
convenience of gathering and marketing. 

My young orchards are just fairly beginning to bear. The 
ground was not ploughed so deeply as it should be, in fact, 
the ground on which Apple-trees are to be set should be 
trenched three feet deep, but it has been well fertilized ; and 
I hope for good crops in the years close at hand. 

In the little dell or glen through which my brook emerges 
from the wood wherein it has brawled down the hill, to dance 
across a gentle slope to the swamp below, is the spring, 
pure as crystal, never-failing, cold as you could wish it for 
drink in the hottest day, and so thoroughly shaded and shel 
tered that, I am confident, it was never warm and never 
frozen over. Many springs on my farm are excellent, but 
this is peerless. It determined the location of my house, 
which stands on a little plateau or bench of level ground half 
way down the hill, some twenty rods north of, and forty feet 
higher than, itself. I never saw a sweeter spot than was 
the little plat of grass which my house has supplanted, with 
tall woods all around, and a thrifty growth of young hem 
locks starting thickly just west and south of it. I do not 
now regard this as a judicious location : it is too much shaded 
and shut in; it is too damp for health in a wet time; it 

20 



306 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

tempts the chimney to smoke, especially when the atmos 
phere is so heavy that the wind beats down over the wooded 
hill that rises directly on the north and east ; but the hottest 
day is cool here ; dust is unknown ; and no rumble from any 
highway disturbs meditation or piques curiosity. My house 
is not much, hastily erected, small, slight, and wooden, it 
has at length been almost deserted for one recently purchased 
and refitted on the edge of the village, just where my private 
road emerges from the farm, on its way to the station ; but 
the cottage in the woods is still my house, where my books 
remain, where I mean to garner my treasures, and wherein I 
propose to be " at home " to my friends at stated seasons, and 
" not at home " to any one when I address myself to work, 
and especially to the consummation of a yet unaired literary 
project. But these are dreams, which opportunity may never 
be afforded to realize. As yet, I am a horse in a bark-mill, 
and tread his monotonous round; never finding time to do 
to-day what can possibly be postponed to the morrow. 

The woodless portion of my upland has been patiently im 
proved by digging, blasting, and picking out rock and stone, 
by running under-drains where they seemed to be needed, by 
ploughing deeper than it was ever ploughed before, though 
not yet nearly deep enough, and by persistent fertilizing with 
composted swamp muck, lime, salt, gypsum, bone-dust, and 
artificial, as well as mineral, manures, until it is to-day in very 
fair condition, or only needs deepening six to twelve inches 
more to make it so. Already, it produces almost unfailingly 
good crops of Indian Com, Oats, Turnips, and especially of 
Grass. I have repeatedly grown fair crops of Wheat, especially 
of Spring, and never decidedly failed but once. Most of our 
lands that have long been devoted to the production of milk 
are in special need of phosphates, which are most readily 
supplied in the shape of ground bones, the finer the better. 
With land in proper condition, Wheat is as sure a crop in 
Southern New York as in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Koots 
have generally done well with me on ground properly pre 
pared ; but the Potato is an exception ; and I doubt that it 



MY FARMING. 307 

will hereafter produce so plenteously on our seaboard as on 
the breezy slopes of the Green Mountains, the Catskills, or of 
our high inland counties like Madison or Steuben. 

My swamp (whereof successive purchases have increased 
the area to fully twenty acres) has been my chief difficulty. 
Originally, a muddy, oozy fen, thickly dotted with " hassocks " 
or " tussocks " of coarse bog-grass, I have cut these and (tired 
of awaiting their natural decay) burned them to fertilizing- 
ashes for my upland ; have seamed the entire flat with under- 
drains ; have cut down the little runnel that permeated its 
centre, and the open ditch that for some distance ran parallel 
to it on the east, collecting the waters of a dozen springs, 
obliged to join it ere it was lost in my brook, that comes 
brawling down my hillside, and have spared no effort, grudged 
no cost, to render it completely arable. But the fall is so 
slight, not only on my own land, but for nearly a mile below 
it, that my success is still partial and unsatisfactory. Though 
I have been allowed to straighten, as well as deepen, the 
brook on my neighbors land, below me, I am still flooded at 
intervals with back-water, which chokes my drains and 
threatens to inundate my fattest acres. If I live, I shall 
surely triumph in the end ; and I am now profiting by the 
engineering of Mr. James Gall, whose experience in the Cen 
tral (New York) and Prospect (Brooklyn) Parks is of decided 
value. But a good outlet, or fall, is so essential to easy suc 
cess in draining, that every one who shall hereafter attempt 
to drain a swamp ought to begin with this, and be sure of at 
least two feet fall from his lowest point at flood-time in 
Spring before he cuts his first drain. Of all unprofitable 
work, burying tiles where water will run sometimes one way, 
sometimes the other, until they choke with mud and become 
utterly useless, is most discouraging. But thorough under- 
draining is the basis of all lasting improvement in farm or 
garden culture; and we should either drain our swamps 
thoroughly, or provide for flooding them in Winter and lay 
them down to cranberries. I do not doubt that this latter 
is in many cases the wiser disposition, except where the 



308 



RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 



vicinity of a city or village forbids it, from due regard to 
others health. But my swamp is close by a hamlet which 
is soon to be quite a village : so it must and shall be drained ; 
and, that thoroughly done, it will be cheap at five hundred 
dollars per acre, since it needs little lut draining to assimilate 
it in fertility to a patch of Western prairie. If I live, it shall 
yet come to. 







My Barn. 

My barn is a fair success. I placed it on the shelf of my 
hill, nearest to the upper (east) side of my place, because a 
barn-yard is a manufactory of heavy fertilizers from materials 
of lesser weight ; and it is easier to draw these down hill than 
up. I built its walls wholly of stones gathered or blasted 
from the adjacent slope, to the extent of four or five thousand 
tons, and laid in a box with a thin mortar of (little) lime and 
(much) sand, filling all the interstices and binding the whole 
into a solid mass, till my walls are nearly one solid rock, 



MY FARMING. 309 

while the roof is of Vermont slate. I drive into three stories, 
a basement for manures, a stable for animals, and a story 
above this for hay while grain is pitched into the loft or 
" scaffold " above, from whose floor the roof rises steep to a 
height of sixteen to eighteen feet. There should have been 
more windows for light and air ; but my barn is convenient, 
while impervious to frost, and I am confident that cattle are 
wintered in it at a fourth less cost than when they shiver 
in board shanties, with cracks between the boards that 
will admit your hand. No part of our rural economy is 
more wasteful than the habitual exposure of our animals to 
pelting, chilling storms, and to intense cold. Building with 
concrete is still a novelty, and was far more so ten years ago, 
when I built my barn. I could now build better and cheaper ; 
but I am glad that I need not. I calculate that this barn 
will be abidingly useful long after I shall have been utterly 
forgotten ; and that, had I chosen to have my name lettered 
on its front, it would have remained there to honor me as a 
builder, long after it had ceased to have any other signifi 
cance. 



"You will be sick of living in the country within two 
years," I was confidently told when I bought; "and your 
place will be advertised for sale." " Then the sheriff s name 
will be at the foot of the advertisement," I responded. The 
mere fact that / am not yet sick of it proves nothing, since I 
only try to spend Saturdays upon it, and am often unable to 
do even that ; but my wife, who spends most of each year 
there, and has done so ever since it was bought, is equally 
constant in her devotion ; and the bare idea of exchanging 
our place for any other has never yet suggested itself to either 
of us. With a first-rate stone or brick house to shut out the 
cold, I doubt if either of us would, of choice, live elsewhere, 
even in Winter. For, while the young may love to wander, 
and may feel that they enjoy the fragrance of others flowers, 
the stately grace of their woods, I think we all, as we grow 
old, love to feel and know that some spot of earth is pecu- 



310 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

liarly our own, ours to possess and to enjoy, ours to 
improve and to transmit to our children. As we realize the 
steady march of years in the thinning of our blanched locks, 
the deepening of our wrinkles, we more and more incline to 
shun travel and crowds and novelties, and concentrate our 
affections on the few who are infolded by " that dear hut, our 
home." 



" But what of the profits of your farming ? You have said 
nothing of them" I often hear. Well : it is not yet time to 
speak of them, in fact, they are, as yet, unspeakably small. 
Thus far, I have been making a farm, rather than working 
one ; and the process is not yet complete. The first Apple- 
trees of my planting, are just beginning to bear ; my best land, 
having been recently bought, and as yet imperfectly drained, 
is still unproductive. Nor do I expect that farming or 
anything else will pay without better oversight than I have 
yet been able to accord it. 

"Do you not perceive," said one near to me, "that your 
man there does not more than half work ? " " Certainly," I 
replied ; " I am quite aware of it. Were he disposed to be 
efficient, he would work his own land, not mine." You can 
scarcely hire any work well done, to which you cannot give 
personal attention. Publishing newspapers by proxy would 
be still more ruinous than farming. 

But I close with a confident assertion that good farming 
WILL pay yes, does pay right here by New York, pay 
generally, and pay well. Of course, he who lacks capital 
must work to disadvantage in this as in everything else ; and 
a little capital will go further in the Far West than on the 
crowded seaboard ; but I feel certain that even / could make 
money by farming in Westchester County, if I could give my 
time and mind to it ; and that a good farmer, with adequate 
means, can, in following his vocation, do as well near this city 
as a reasonable man could expect, or wisely desire. 



XXXVIII. 

"SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 

AS I had first engaged conspicuously in political strife at 
the invitation of Mr. Thurlow Weed, and had thus been 
brought, very soon afterward, into familiar and confidential 
relations with his next friend, Mr. William H. Seward, I was 
measurably identified with, if not thoroughly devoted to, their 
mutual fortunes, for the next fifteen or sixteen years. While 
editing The Jeffersonian in Albany, I wrote and reported (im 
perfectly) legislative proceedings for Mr. Weed s paper, The 
Albany Evening Journal; and, though I had no part in 
nominating Mr. Seward for Governor in 1838, I did whatever 
I could to help elect him ; and so at his reelection in 1840. 
(He had previously been State Senator, elected in 1830 ; but 
had been badly defeated by William L. Marcy, when first a 
candidate for Governor, in 1834.) When, after four years of 
obscuration, the Whig star was again in the ascendant, in 
1846 - 48, 1 was a zealous, if not very effective, advocate of his 
election to the United States Senate. 

Apart from politics, I liked the man, though not blind to 
his faults. His natural instincts were humane and progres 
sive. He hated Slavery and all its belongings, though a 
seeming necessity constrained him to write, in 1838, to this 
intensely pro-Slavery city, a pro-Slavery letter, which was at 
war with his real, or at least with his subsequent, convictions. 
Though of Democratic parentage, he had been an Adams man, 
an Anti -Mason, and was now thoroughly a Whig. The policy 
of more extensive and vigorous Internal Improvement had no 
more zealous champion. By nature, genial and averse to 



312 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

pomp, ceremony, and formality, few public men of his early 
prime were better calculated to attract and fascinate young 
men of his own party, and holding views accordant on most 
points with his. 

Yet he had faults, which his accession to power soon dis 
played in bold relief. His natural tendencies were toward a 
government not merely paternal, but prodigal, one which, 
in its multiform endeavors to make every one prosperous, if 
not rich, was very likely to whelm all in general embarrass 
ment, if not in general bankruptcy. Few Governors have 
favored, few Senators voted for, more unwisely lavish expen 
ditures than he. Above the suspicion of voting money into 
his own pocket, he has a rooted dislike to opposing a project 
or bill whereby any of his attached friends are to profit. And, 
conceited as we all are, I think most men exceed him in the 
art of concealing from others their overweening faith in their 
own sagacity and discernment. 

Mr. Thurlow Weed was of coarser mould and fibre, tall, 
robust, dark-featured, shrewd, resolute, and not over-scrupu 
lous, keen-sighted, though not far-seeing. Writing slowly 
and with difficulty, he was for twenty years the most senten 
tious and pungent writer of editorial paragraphs on the Ameri 
can press. 

In pecuniary matters, he was generous to a fault while 
poor ; he is said to be less so since he became rich ; but I am 
no longer in a position to know. I cannot doubt, however, 
that if he had never seen Wall Street or Washington, had 
never heard of the Stock Board, and had lived in some yet 
undiscovered country, where legislation is never bought nor 
sold, his life would have been more blameless, useful, and 
happy. 

I was sitting beside him in his editorial room soon after 
Governor Seward s election, when he opened a letter from a 
brother Whig, which ran substantially thus : 

" DEAR WEED : I want to be a Bank Commissioner. You know 
how to fix it. Do so, and draw on me for whatever sum you may 
see fit. Yours truly." 



"SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 313 

In an instant, his face became preternaturally black with 
mingled rage and mortification. " My God ! " said he, " I 
knew that my political adversaries thought me a scoundrel, 
but I never till now supposed that my friends did." He at 
once responded to the overture to this effect : 

" SIB : I have received your letter, and shall lay it before the 
Governor elect, with whom it will doubtless have the influence it 
deserves. Yours." 

Though generally in hearty accord, these fast friends were 
not entirely so. Seward, born in comfortable circumstances, 
and educated a gentleman, had none of the " Poor White " 
prejudice against Blacks ; while it was otherwise with Weed, 
whose origin and training had been different. My New Eng 
land birth and Federal antecedents saved me from sharing 
this infirmity, to which the poverty and obscurity of my boy 
hood might else have exposed me. 

I was early brought into collision with both my seniors on 
the subject of a Eegistry Law. Every Whig who had been 
active in the political contests of this city was instinctively 
and intensely a champion of a registration of legal voters ; 
knowing well, by sad experience, that, in its absence, enormous 
frauds to our damage are the rule, and honest and legal voting 
the exception. So, in the first legislature of our State that 
was Whig all over, a bill was introduced, with my very hearty 
assent and active support, which provided for a registration 
of voters here ; and it had made such headway before it at 
tracted the serious attention of Messrs. Seward and Weed, 
that all their great influence could not prevent the Whig 
members supporting and passing it. Yet the measure was so 
intensely deprecated by them, as tending to alienate the un 
distinguished poor, and especially those of foreign birth, from 
our side, by teaching them to regard the Whigs as hostile to 
their rights, that the purpose of vetoing it was fully formed 
and confidentially avowed ; and, though it was at length 
abandoned, and the bill signed, Mr. Weed assured me that 
the Governor would have preferred to lose his right hand. 



314 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

On one important question, Mr. Weed and I were antipodes. 
Believing that a currency in part of paper, kept at par with 
specie, and current in every part of our country, was indis 
pensable, I. was a zealous advocate of a National Bank; which 
he as heartily detested, believing that its supporters would 
always be identified in the popular mind with aristocracy, 
monopoly, exclusive privilege, &c. He attempted, more than 
once, to overbear my convictions on this point, or at least 
preclude their utterance, but was at length brought appar 
ently to comprehend that this was a point on which we must 
agree to differ. 

The political canvass of 1854 in our State was unlike any 
other ever known. The advocacy and passage of the Ne 
braska Bill had disorganized and seriously weakened the 
Democrats ; the Whig party had wasted to a shadow, yet an 
august, imposing, venerable shade ; the question of Liquor 
Prohibition, grown suddenly prominent by reason of its suc 
cess in Maine, was rapidly effacing, or at least overriding, 
party lines ; while the American, or " Know-Nothing " move 
ment had not only a considerable, though ill-defined, genuine 
strength, .but had attracted crowds of nominal adherents, 
intent on diverse special ends. Though the State had been 
two or three years under Democratic rule by large majorities, 
no one could safely guess how this year s election would re 
sult. 

I was a member of the first anti-Nebraska or Eepublican 
State Convention, which met at Saratoga Springs in Septem 
ber ; but Messrs. Weed and Seward for a while stood aloof 
from the movement, preferring to be still regarded as Whigs. 
We made no nominations at that time, but provided for a 
nominating convention at a later day ; meantime, the Whigs 
held theirs, and nominated Myron H. Clark for Governor, 
with Henry J. Eaymond for Lieutenant. The Eepublicans 
and the Prohibitionists severally held conventions thereafter, 
and adopted these candidates, finding them all they could 
ask. The Democrats had been rent afresh by their old feud 



SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 



315 



respecting Slavery in the Territories : the " Softs " running 
the incumbent, Horatio Seymour ; the " Hards," Greene C. 
Bronson, for Governor. The " American " candidate was 
Daniel Ullmann. When the vote was canvassed, it was 
found thus divided : 



Gov. Clark 156,804 

Seymour .... 156,495 

Ullmann (Am.) . . . 122,282 

Bronson 33,851 



Lt.-Gov. Raymond . . . 157,166 

Ludlow (Soft) . 128,833 

Scroggs (Am.) . . 121,037 

Ford (Hard) . . 52,074 



The Whigs had both branches of the Legislature by large 
majorities, and they had like majorities for every candidate 
on their State ticket but their Governor, who was barely 
elected. And, though the "Americans" claimed many of 
the members elect, and with reason, we, who had been labor 
ing to secure the return of Governor Seward to the Senate, 
knew that we had succeeded, that many of the votes con 
fidently counted on by his adversaries were sure for him. 
There were some members who actually voted against him, 
who would have voted for him had their votes been needed. 

When all was beyond contingency, I wrote Governor 
Seward a private letter, intended for his eye alone ; but the 
pointed and misleading allusions to it by certain of the Gov 
ernor s devoted followers, after his failure to be nominated 
for President at Chicago in 1860, impelled me to demand it 
for publication, and to print it. It is, verbatim, as follows : 

HORACE GREELEY TO WILLIAM H. SEWARD. 

NEW YORK, Saturday Evening, November 11, 1854. 
GOVERNOR SEWARD : The Election is over, and its results suf 
ficiently ascertained. It seems to me a fitting time to announce 
to you the dissolution of the political firm of Seward, Weed, and 
Greeley, by the withdrawal of the junior partner, said with 
drawal to take effect on the morning after the first Tuesday in 
February next. And, as it may seem a great presumption in me 
to assume that any such firm exists, especially since the public 
was advised, rather more than a year ago, by an editorial rescript 
in The Evening Journal formally reading me out of the Whig party, 
that I was esteemed no longer either useful or ornamental in the 



316 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

concern, you will, I am sure, indulge me in some reminiscences 
which seem to befit the occasion. 

I was a poor young printer and Editor of a Literary Journal, 
a very active and bitter Whig in a small way, but not seeking 
to be known out of my own Ward Committee, when, after the 
great Political Revulsion of 1837, I was one day called to the City 
Hotel, where two strangers introduced themselves as Thurlow 
Weed and Lewis Benedict, of Albany. They told me that a cheap 
Campaign Paper of a peculiar stamp at Albany had been resolved 
on, and that I had been selected to edit it. The announcement 
might well be deemed nattering by one who had never even sought 
the notice of the great, and who was not known as a partisan 
writer ; and I eagerly embraced their proposal. They asked me 
to fix my salary for the year ; I named $ 1,000, which they agreed 
to ; and I did the work required, to the best of my ability. It 
was work that made no figure, and created no sensation ; but I 
loved it, and I did it well. When it was done, you were Governor, 
dispensing offices worth $ 3,000 to $ 20,000 per year to your friends 
and compatriots, and I returned to my garret and my crust, and 
my desperate battle with pecuniary obligations heaped upon me 
by bad partners in business and the disastrous events of 1837. 
I believe it did not then occur to me that some one of these abun 
dant places might have been offered to me without injustice ; I 
now think it should have occurred to you. If it did occur to me, 
I was not the man to ask. you for it ; I think that should not have 
been necessary. I only remember that no friend at Albany in 
quired as to my pecuniary circumstances ; that your friend (but 
not mine), Robert C. Wetmore, was one of the chief dispensers of 
your patronage here ; and that such devoted compatriots as A. H. 
Wells and John Hooks were lifted by you out of pauperism into 
independence, as I am glad I was not ; and yet an inquiry from 
you as to my needs and means at that day would have been timely, 
and held ever in grateful remembrance. 

In the Harrison campaign of 1840, I was again designated to 
edit a campaign paper. I published it as well, and ought to have 
made something by it, in spite of its extremely low price ; my ex 
treme poverty was the main reason why I did not. It compelled 
me to hire press-work, mailing, &c., done by the job, and high 
charges for extra work nearly ate me up. At the close, I was still 



"SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 317 

without property and in debt ; but this paper had rather improved 
my position. 

Now came the great scramble of the swell mob of coon min 
strels and cider-suckers at Washington, I not being counted in. 
Several regiments of them went on from this city ; but no one of 
the whole crowd though I say it who should not had done 
so much toward General Harrison s nomination and election as 
yours respectfully. I asked nothing, expected nothing ; but you, 
Governor Seward, ought to have asked that I be postmaster of 
New York. Your asking would have been in vain ; but it would 
have been an act of grace neither wasted nor undeserved. 

I soon after started The Tribune, because I was urged to do 
so by certain of your friends, and because such a paper was needed 
here. I was promised certain pecuniary aid in so doing ; it might 
have been given me without cost or risk to any one. All I ever 
had was a loan by piecemeal of $ 1,000 from James Coggeshall, 
God bless his honored memory ! I did not ask for this ; and I 
think it is the one sole case in which I ever received a pecuniary 
favor from a political associate. I am very thankful that he did 
not die till it was fully repaid. 

And here let me honor one grateful recollection. When the 
Whig party under your rule had offices to give, my name was 
never thought of; but when, in 1842-43, we were hopelessly out 
of power, I was honored with the party nomination for State 
Printer. When we came again to have a State Printer to elect as 
well as nominate, the place went to Weed, as it ought. Yet it is 
worth something to know that there was once a time when it was 
not deemed too great a sacrifice to recognize me as belonging to 
your household. If a new office had not since been created on pur 
pose to give its valuable patronage to H. J. Raymond, and enable 
St. John to show forth his Times as the organ of the Whig State 
Administration, I should have been still more grateful. 

In 1848, your star again rose, and my warmest hopes were 
realized in your election to the Senate. I was no longer needy, 
and had no more claim than desire to be recognized by General 
Taylor. I think I had some claim to forbearance from you. 
What I received thereupon was a most humiliating lecture in the 
shape of a decision in the libel-case of Redfield and Pringle, and an 
obligation to publish it in niy own arid the other journal of our 



318 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

supposed firm. I thought, and still think, this lecture needlessly 
cruel and mortifying. The plaintiffs, after using my columns to 
the extent of their needs or desires, stopped writing, and called on 
me for the name of their assailant. I proffered it to them, a 
thoroughly responsible name. They refused to accept it, unless it 
should prove to be one of the four or five first men in Batavia ! 
when they had known from the first who it was, and that it 
was neither of them. They would not accept that which they had 
demanded ; they sued me instead for money ; and money you 
were at liberty to give them to your heart s content. I do not 
think you were at liberty to humiliate me in the eyes of my own 
and your* public as you did. I think you exalted your own 
judicial sternness and fearlessness unduly at my expense. I 
think you had a better occasion for the display of these qualities 
when Webb threw himself untimely upon you for a pardon which 
he had done all a man could do to demerit. (His paper is paying 
you for it now.) 

I have publicly set forth my view of your and our duty with 
respect to Fusion, Nebraska and party designations. I will not 
repeat any of that. I have referred also to Weed s reading me out 
of the Whig party, my crime being in this, as in some other 
things, that of doing to-day what more politic persons will not be 
ready to do till to-morrow. 

Let me speak of the late canvass. I was once sent to Con 
gress for ninety days, merely to enable Jim Brooks to secure a 
seat therein for four years. I think I never hinted to any human 
being that I would have liked to be put forward for any place. 
But James W. White (you hardly know how good and true a man 
he is) started my name for Congress, and Brooks s packed dele 
gation thought I could help him through, so I was put on behind 
him. But this last Spring, after the Nebraska question had 
created a new state of things at the North, one or two personal 
friends, of no political consideration, suggested my name as a 
candidate for Governor, and I did not discourage them. Soon, 
the persons who were afterward mainly instrumental in nominat 
ing Clark came about me, and asked if I could secure the Know- 

* If I am not mistaken, this judgment is the only speech, letter, or docu 
ment, addressed to the public, in which you ever recognized my existence. I 
hope I may not go down to posterity as embalmed therein. 



"SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 319 

Nothing vote. I told them I neither could nor would touch it, 
on the contrary, I loathed and repelled it. Thereupon, they 
turned upon Clark. 

I said nothing, did nothing. A hundred people asked me 
who should be run for Governor. I sometimes indicated Patter 
son ; I never hinted at my own name. But by and by Weed 
came down and called me to him, to tell me why he could not 
support me for Governor. (I had never asked nor counted on his 
support.) 

I am sure Weed did not mean to humiliate me, but he did it. 
The upshot of his discourse (very cautiously stated) was this : If I 
were a candidate for Governor, I should beat not myself only, but 
you. Perhaps that was true. But, as I had in no manner solicited 
his or your support, I thought this might have been said to my 
friends, rather than to me. I suspect it is true that I could not 
have been elected Governor as a Whig. But had he and you been 
favorable, there would have been a party in the State, ere this, 
which could and would have elected me to any post, without in 
juring myself or endangering your reelection. 

It was in vain that I urged that I had in no manner asked a 
nomination. At length, I was nettled by his language well 
intended, but very cutting, as addressed by him to me to say, 
in substance, " Well, then, make Patterson Governor, and try my 
name for Lieutenant. To lose this place is a matter of no im 
portance, and we can see whether I am really so odious." 

I should have hated to serve as Lieutenant-Governor, but I 
should have gloried in running for the post. I want to have my 
enemies all upon me at once, I am. tired of fighting them piece 
meal. And, although I should have been beaten in the canvass, I 
know that my running would have helped the ticket and helped 
my paper. 

It was thought best to let the matter take another course. 
No other name could have been put upon the ticket so bitterly 
humbling to me as that which was selected. The nomination was 
given to Raymond, the fight left to me. And, Governor Seward, 
/ have made it, though it be conceited in me to say so. What 
little fight there has been, I have stirred up. Even Weed has not 
been (I speak of his paper) hearty in this contest, while the jour 
nal of the Whig Lieutenant-Governor has taken care of its own 



320 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

interests and let the canvass take care of itself, as it early declared 
it would do. That journal has (because of its milk-and-water 
course) some twenty thousand subscribers in this city and its sub 
urbs ; and of these twenty thousand, I venture to say, more voted 
for Ullmann and Scroggs than for Clark and Raymond ; The Tribune 
(also because of its character) has but eight thousand subscribers 
within the same radius ; and, I venture to say that, of its habitual 
readers, nine tenths voted for Clark and Raymond, very few for 
Ullmann and Scroggs. I had to bear the brunt of the contest, and 
take a terrible responsibility, in order to prevent the Whigs uniting 
upon James W. Barker, in order to defeat Fernando Wood. Had 
Barker been elected here, neither you nor I could walk these 
streets without being hooted, and Know-Nothingism would have 
swept like a prairie-fire. I stopped Barker s election at the cost of 
incurring the deadliest enmity of the defeated gang, and I have 
been rebuked for it by the Lieutenant-Governor s paper. At the 
critical moment, he came out against John Wheeler in favor of 
Charles H. Marshall (who would have been your deadliest enemy 
in the House) ; and even your Colonel-General s paper, which was 
even with me in insisting that Wheeler should be returned, wheeled 

about at the last moment, and went in for Marshall, The 

Tribune alone clinging to Wheeler to the last. I rejoice that they 
who turned so suddenly were not able to turn all their readers. 

Governor Seward, I know that some of your most cherished 
friends think me a great obstacle to your advancement, that 
John Schoolcraft, for one, insists that you and Weed shall not be 
identified with me. I trust, after a time, you will not be. I trust 
I shall never be found in opposition to you ; I have no further 
wish but to glide out of the newspaper world as quietly and as 
speedily as possible, join my family in Europe, and, if possible, 
stay there quite a time, long enough to cool my fevered brain 
and renovate my overtasked energies. All I ask is that we shall 
be counted even on the morning after the first Tuesday in Febru 
ary, as aforesaid, and that I may thereafter take such course as 
seems best, without reference to the past. 

You have done me acts of valued kindness in the line of your 
profession, let me close with the assurance that these will ever 
be gratefully remembered by 



Yours, 

HORACE GREELEY. 



HON. WM. H. SEWARD, Present. 



"SEWARD, WEED, AND GREELEY." 321 

Seeing nothing in this letter that requires explanation, I 
simply add that my personal relations with Governor Seward 
were wholly unchanged by it. We met frequently and cor 
dially after it was written, and we very freely conferred 
and cooperated during the long struggle in Congress for Kansas 
and Free Labor. He understood as well as I did that my 
position with regard to him, though more independent than it 
had been, was nowise hostile, and that I was as ready to 
support his advancement as that of any other statesman, 
whenever my judgment should tell me that the public good 
required it. I was not his adversary, but my own and my 
country s freeman. 

In the Spring of 1859, Governor Seward crossed the At 
lantic ; visiting Egypt, traversing Syria and other portions of 
Asia Minor, as well as much of Europe. Soon -after his re 
turn, he came one evening to my seat in Dr. Chapin s 
church, as he had repeatedly done during former visits to 
our city, and I now recall this as the last occasion on which 
we ever met. The Scripture lesson of the evening was the 
thirty-first chapter of Proverbs, which recounts the merits 
and proclaims the honors of the virtuous woman ; enumerat 
ing, among the latter, that " Her husband is known in the 
gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land." " Two 
months ago," thereupon observed Governor Seward, " I was 
travelling in Syria, with a Turkish firman and other docu 
ments, which proclaimed me, I infer, a person of some conse 
quence ; since the head functionary of a village where I 
halted and presented my papers received me with the greatest 
distinction, and, as a final proof of his regard, invited me to 
sit with him in the gate, as, flanked by the elders, he heard 
complaints and defences, and rendered judgment thereon." 
So unchanging are the essential habits and usages of the 
Asiatics, that foreign conquest Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, 
Greek, Roman, Saracen, Crusader, and Osmarili had, along 
with more than thirty centuries, rolled their effacing surges 
over that region, yet here are the chiefs of the respective 
villages or tribes judging the people as of old, surrounded 
21 



322 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

9 

and counselled by the elders; and any eminent stranger is 
invited, as a mark of honor, to sit with them, as he was in (or 
before) the reign of Solomon. 

Ross Browne found but one man doing anything in Syria ; 
and he was falling off a house. It is well to be usefully busy ; 
yet quiet and tenacious contentment with 

" The good old ways, all ways, when old, are good," 

is not devoid of recommendation, and even advantage. 

I have often, during these later years, been unable to agree 
with Governor Seward, have sometimes quite pointedly 
dissented from his views of great public questions. It is not 
probable that we shall ever again be as near to each other as 
we have been. That his ends have ever been patriotic, I will 
not doubt ; that his means have sometimes been mistaken, I 
think his warmest friends must admit. That he once aspired 
to the Presidency is a truth, but no reproach ; able, wise, and 
good men have done so, without impeachment of their pa 
triotism or abatement of their usefulness. Still, one who has 
all but clutched the glittering prize, yet failed to secure it, 
always thereafter seems to have suffered from the aspiration 
or the failure, possibly from both. Great, intellectually, 
as Daniel Webster was, he would have been morally greater, 
and every way more useful and honored, had he sternly re 
sponded " Get thee behind me, Satan ! " to every suggestion 
that he might yet attain the Presidency. I hope Mr. Seward 
will outlive, if he has not already outlived, his ambition, and 
will find leisure and incitement to write of what he has seen 
and known during his all but a half-century of devotion to 
public affairs. Doubtless, he could clear up points which 
now seem obscure and puzzling ; and I will hope he would 
succeed in showing that, even when most denounced and 
execrated, he was, however mistaken, faithful in heart and 
purpose to Justice, to Freedom, and the inalienable Eights of 
Man. 



XXXIX. 

EUROPE REVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND. 

IN the Autumn of 1854, my wife took passage, with our 
two surviving children, for Europe, under a pledge that I 
should follow and rejoin her the ensuing Spring. As those 
children were less than six and four years old respectively, I 
did not believe she had the courage to start- on such a jour 
ney without me to a continent whereon she had scarcely an 
acquaintance ; but when I at length said to her, " If you are 
really going, I must engage your passage," she replied, " En 
gage it, then " ; and I did so. She went accordingly, and 
spent the ensuing Winter quietly in London ; where I joined 
her late in April ensuing. In a few days, I ran over in ad 
vance to Paris, where I hired a little cottage just outside of 
the then western barrier 1 Etoile or octroi gate, which sepa 
rates the Avenue Champs Elysees from the street outside, 
which leads to the Bois de Bolougne, to Passy, and to Neuilly. 
Here my wife soon rejoined me with our children, two female 
friends, and the husband of one of them ; and here we 
remained till late in June, visiting the second World s Expo 
sition, the Louvre, the Garden of Plants, the Invalides, Notre 
Dame, the Field of Mars, the Madeleine, Pere-la-Chaise, &c., 
&c., and making (or renewing) a very few French with many 
American acquaintances. The Spring was remarkably cold, 
backward, cloudy, and rainy, very unlike our preconcep 
tions of " sunny France," and our enjoyment of Paris did not 
fulfil our expectations ; yet the six weeks thus spent are fixed 
in my memory as the nearest approach to leisure I have 
known during the last thirty years. For, though still occu- 



324 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

pied, and even busy, throughout nearly every day, I was less 
so than in any former six weeks since I first landed in New 
York. I spent much time in the Exposition, trying to com 
prehend it ; but I was not a juror, as I had been in London 
four years previously, and I did not feel required to study 
this Exposition so persistently, so systematically, as I had 
studied the former. Besides, it did not impress me so favor 
ably nor interest me so deeply as that did. The edifice was 
of stone ; hence, far more massive, gloomy, crypt-like, than 
the Hyde Park marvel ; and the French seemed to me infe 
rior in the skill required for lucid arrangement and classifica 
tion. This judgment may have been the dictate of prejudice 
or ignorance ; I only speak as I felt, and record an abiding 
impression. Two hours of impulsive wandering and gazing 
in the Paris Exposition fatigued me more than four hours 
steady work as a juror in its London precursor ; and I learned 
immeasurably more from that of 51 than I did from that of 
55. In fact, the only point on which my little all of knowl 
edge seems to have been permanently enlarged by the latter 
is that I think I obtained here some faint, rude conception 
of the peculiarities and merits of the school of art termed 
" pre-Eaphaelite," - - 1 cannot say how aptly. I was deeply, 
though not altogether favorably, impressed by the works of 
J. E. Millais, Holman Hunt, and other apostles of this school, 
whose works here first arrested my attention ; and I now re 
call a picture of " The Dead Ophelia " (by Millais, if I rightly 
remember), which evinced a pains-taking fidelity, and made a 
vivid, though unpleasant, impression. I trust that this school 
has not yet attained its fulness of development, or at least 
had not in 1855 ; if it had, the grand achievements of Ea- 
phael, of Titian, and of Murillo are in little danger of being 
eclipsed or superseded by those of its disciples or devotees. 
Still, the fact remains, that, of the many pictures exhibited in 
the Fine Arts division of the Paris Exposition, I remember 
none beside so distinctly, so vividly, as those of the British 
pre-Eaphaelites, so called, though several of the French 
painters of our day evince decided merit. 



EUROPE REVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND. 325 

Paris is the Paradise of thoughtless boys with full pock 
ets ; but I, if ever thoughtless, had ceased to be a boy some 
time ere I first greeted the "gay, bright, airy city of the 
Seine." I presume I could now enjoy a week of the careless, 
sunny life of her mob of genteel idlers ; but a month of it 
would sate and bore me. To rise reluctantly to a late break 
fast ; trifle away the day, from noon to 5 P. M., in riding and 
sight-seeing ; dine elaborately ; and thenceforward spend the 
evening at theatre, opera, or party, is a routine that soon tells 
on one who is indurated in the habit of making the most of 
every working-hour. I envy no man his happiness ; I envy 
least of all the pleasure-seeker, who chases his nimble, co 
quettish butterfly, year in, year out, along the Boulevards and 
around the " Places " of the giddy metropolis of France. 



And here let me turn aside to say that the very common 
aspiration of our young men to spend a year or more in for 
eign travel seems to me inconsiderate and mistaken. No one 
is fit to travel in foreign lands till he has made himself pretty 
thoroughly acquainted with his own ; and the youth who 
ignorant of History, of Art, of Languages, and very slenderly 
versed even in Natural Science fancies that he can pay his 
way while traversing Europe by writing for the Press, evinces 
inordinate, preposterous presumption. If I seem, in saying 
this, to condemn myself, so be it ; but remember I was more 
than forty years old, and had had a full dozen years famil 
iarity with public affairs, before I set my face toward the Old 
World ; yet, even thus, I doubt not that my letters abounded 
in blunders and gaucheries which a riper knowledge, a better 
preparation, for foreign travel, would have taught me to avoid. 
As it was, I wrote for a circle of readers of whom many were 
glad to look through my eyes because they were mine, that 
is, because, having read my writings for years, they were in 
terested in knowing how Europe would impress me, and what 
I should find there to admire or to condemn. Had not this 
been the case, had I addressed readers to whom I was un- 



326 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

known or indifferent, I could not have deemed my letters 
worth their attention, nor likely to attract it. 

I say, then, most earnestly, to every youth anxious to go 
abroad, traverse Europe, and pay his way by writing for some 
journal, " Tarry at Jericho till your beard be grown." I never 
knew but one of your class Bayard Taylor who achieved 
a real success in thus travelling ; and he left home a good 
type-setter, with some knowledge of modern languages ; so 
that he stopped and worked at his trade whenever his funds 
ran short ; yet, even thus, he did not wholly pay his way 
during the two years he devoted to his delightful " Views 
Afoot." I know it ; for I employed and paid him all that his 
letters were fairly worth, though not nearly so much as his 
letters now righteously command. He practised a systematic 
and careful economy ; yet he went away with money, and re 
turned with the clothes on his back, and (I judge) very little 
more. My young friend, if you think yourself better qualified 
than he was, go ahead, and " do " Europe ! but don t ask me 
to further your scheme ; for I hold that you may far better 
stay at home, apply yourself to some useful branch of produc 
tive industry, help pay our National Debt, and accumulate 
a little independence whereon, by and by, to travel (if you 
choose) as a gentleman, and not with but a sheet of paper 
between you and starvation. It is bad to be ragged and hun 
gry at home ; it is infinitely worse to be destitute in a foreign 
country, where every one feels that you have no moral right 
to subtract from his means or add to his burdens. Even if 
willing to be a beggar and a vagabond, be content to burden 
your country, and go not abroad to disgrace her ! The bor 
rowing Yankee is a nuisance anywhere ; but he is a frightful, 
hideous pest in those portions of Europe most frequented by 
Americans. 

If I were to spend a year at leisure in the Old World, I 
think I should give a month of it to London, another to the 
residue of the British Isles, a third to France, a fourth to Ger 
many, a month to Home, another to the realm of Victor Em 
manuel, or what the Pope terms " the sub- Alpine kingdom," 



EUROPE REVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND. 327 

and the remaining half of the year to Switzerland, not po 
litical, but geographical, Switzerland, which includes Savoy 
and the Tyrol. I would cross the ocean in June, land at 
Havre or Antwerp, make my way directly to the Alps, and 
there remain until driven down their southward sloping vales 
by the coming on of Winter. Then I would descend to 
Milan, pass eastward to Venice, and back, by Bologna and 
Florence, to Rome ; hieing therefrom to Naples to greet the 
advent of Spring ; steaming thence to Marseilles, and crossing 
France by Lyons and Paris, to finish my tour in Great Britain 
and Ireland. 



I crossed the Alps twice in my former visit to Europe ; first 
by Mont Cenis, from Lyons to Turin ; returning, via Milan, 
across the pass of St. Gothard to Lucerne and Basle. The 
long June day in which I traversed, by diligence, Savoy, from 
the frontier (alas ! the frontier no longer) of France to the 
crest of Mont Cenis, is one of the brightest that lives in my 
memory ; next to that stands that wherein I left Milan at 5 
A. M., travelled fifteen miles by rail to Monza, and thence 
skirted by diligence Lake Como, crossed into the valley of 
the Ticino, which we wound steadily up to the little village 
or hamlet of Airolo, at the foot of the pass of St. Gothard, 
very near the upper limit of cultivation. Eesting here for 
the night, and crossing the summit of the pass about noon, 
w r e rattled down to the Lake of Altorf, whereon a tiny steam 
boat conveyed us to Lucerne before nightfall. Though the 
plains of Italy glowed beneath a July sun, and the Vine, the 
Maize, and the Chestnut clung tenaciously to the valley of 
the Ticino, still they were successively constrained, by the 
increasing cold, to abandon it. We found little besides Oats, 
Potatoes, and Grass growing around Airolo ; and these for 
sook us a little further up ; so that, at the summit of the pass, 
a chill storm was piling new snow upon the still formidable 
drifts of the preceding Winter (perchance of a thousand Win 
ters), and the tumbling, roaring brooks were frequently seen 
emerging from beneath ice of ample thickness and solidity. 



328 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

On my later visit to Europe, I left Paris with my family in 
June ; travelled by rail to Dijon, capital of the kingdom of 
Burgundy that was, the palace of whose kings is now a mu 
seum of deeply interesting relics of that monarchy, and, 
after spending a bright day there, we took diligence at 9 P. M., 
were toiling up the Jura next forenoon, and were soon rattling 
clown their southeastern slope, whence we reached Geneva 
before night. Passing thence up the valley of the Arve to 
Chamonix, we spent five days there in deeply interested ob 
servation of the adjacent peaks and glaciers. I gave one day 
to a visit to Montanvert and the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), 
across which cattle are annually driven a practical path 
being first made by cutting ice and filling crevices to a 
sunny southern slope (" the Garden "), 9,000 feet above tide- 
level, on an adjacent mountain, where they are pastured till 
snow falls and lies, and then driven back to the valley whence 
they came. The ice of the Mer de Glace is so frequently 
seamed with deep cracks and crevices as to afford most unsafe 
footing for novices in Alpine pedestrianism ; and I, for one, 
was glad to turn about, when I had gone but half-way across 
it, and regain the solid ground I had eagerly left. You climb 
thence nearly a thousand feet to the perch known as Montan 
vert, whence a good view is had, in clear- weather, of several 
lofty peaks, Mont Blanc included ; and, when I had thence 
made my way down to Chamonix (you ascend on horse or 
mule back, but descend slowly on foot), I was as weary as any 
one need wish to be. 

During my absence on this trip, my wife had undertaken 
to visit, with our children, the Glacier de Boissons, which 
seems scarcely a mile distant from the hotels at Chamonix, 
and easily accessible ; but she had failed to reach it, lost her 
way, and been obliged to hire a peasant-woman to pilot her, 
and carry our fagged-out younger child, back to our hotel. I 
laughed at this misadventure when we met, and volunteered 
to lead the party next morning straight up to the glacier 
aforesaid, so that they might put their hands on it ; but, on 
trying it, I failed miserably. So many deep ravines and steep 



EUROPE REVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND. 329 

moraines were found to bar our way, where all seemed smooth 
and level from our hotel, and the actual was so much greater 
than the apparent distance, that I gave up, after an hour s 
rugged clambering, and contented myself with asserting that 
I could reach the glacier by myself, as I still presume I 
could, though I never tried. Either of the great glaciers is so 
large that it dwarfs everything around it ; belittling obstacles 
and distances to an extent elsewhere incredible. 

The Glacier des Bois is said to measure over fifty miles 
from the giant snow-drift wherein it originates, filling an in 
dentation or gully leading down the east side of Mont Blanc, 
to the very bed of the Arve in the Chamonix valley. Indeed, 
the Mer de Glace itself may be considered a branch, if not the 
principal source, of the little river, and is approached by fol 
lowing up the bed of the stream for a couple of miles or so 
above the village, then stepping from one to another of the 
giant boulders, brought down by the glacier from the icy 
region above, and which here fill the spacious bed of the 
stream. I spent a forenoon here, watching the gradual dis 
solution of the ice by the warm breath of the valley, and 
noting how moraines are made. 

A moraine is a ridge or bank of earth and stones, averaging 
four to eight feet high, and perhaps ten to twenty in width at 
the base, which is uniformly found bordering a glacier on either 
side, with one far larger oftener two or more at its lower 
extremity. Tt is so unfailingly separated by distances of ten 
to twenty feet from the glacier, that the green observer finds 
it difficult to comprehend that it is naturally formed of the 
points and fragments of rock broken off by the giant masses 
of ice in their imperceptible, yet constant, progress at the 
average rate of six feet or so per day from the snow-drifts 
cradled between the higher peaks to the deep valleys, green 
with grass, and crimson with Alpine flowers. 

But steady observation detects a constant wearing away, in 
warm weather, of the lower part of the glacier facing the 
valley, and a consequent formation of cavities and channels 
therein, whereby the stones are loosened and allowed to pre- 



330 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

cipitate themselves. But, while the water falls directly down 
ward, the stones fall outward, or, striking a lower sloue of ice, 
are so deflected from the perpendicular that they rest at last 
at some distance outward from the base of the glacier. Hence 
moraines. 

We were in Chamonix, I believe, from the 20th to the 25th 
of June, too early by a month. Snow fell repeatedly, 
though lightly ; rain frequently and heavily ; the mountain- 
tops were usually shrouded in cloud and fog ; and we only 
caught a clear view of the summit of Mont Blanc on the 
morning of our departure. Swamp Alder (a large shrub with 
us) here attaining the size of a considerable tree, so that it is 
frequently split into fence-rails ; and stretches of meadow, 
carpeted and blazing with the deep scarlet of innumerable 
flowers, are among my recollections of that lofty, high- 
walled valley, so deeply embosomed in the Alps, and so rich 
in everything that renders the vicinage of mountains attractive 
to civilized man. 

Eeturning to Geneva, we took steamboat on Lake Leman 
to Lausanne, whence we journeyed by diligence to Berne, and 
were to start thence at 4 one morning for Interlachen and the 
Bernese Oberland; but the sudden illness of a child forbade.; 
and we returned to Lausanne, a lovely little city, nested 
half-way up the side of a long, steep, verdant hill, which 
would elsewhere be deemed a mountain, where I left my 
family in a rented cottage, and hastened back, by Neufchatel, 
Basle, and Strasburg, to Paris, where business urgently re 
quired my presence ; leaving France two or three weeks later 
for London, Liverpool, and home. I embarked at Liverpool 
under a deep impression that something had gone wrong with 
my family (which returned in the Autumn to Paris, thence 
repaired to Germany, and spent the ensuing Winter at Dres 
den; returning, via England, to New York the following 
Summer). On reaching home, I learned that my mother had 
died on the day of my departure from Liverpool. Though 



EUROPE REVISITED. PARIS. SWITZERLAND. 331 

but sixty-eight years old, she had long been worn out in mind 
and body by hard work and rugged cares, and had rarely 
spoken .or evinced a clear perception of what was going on 
around her for many months before her death. 



As this was my last passage of the Atlantic, I may barely 
say that, of all my experiences of protracted physical discom 
fort, sea-sickness is decidedly the most vivid and enduring. 
Though not now so easily prostrated as when I first traversed, 
per steamboat, a corner of Lake Erie, over forty years ago, I 
am never tossed on ocean billows without intense misery ; and, 
while my first sea-passage was decidedly my worst, owing 
to the tempestuous weather which prevailed throughout, yet 
my very latest reminiscence of the " stormy main " that of 
my passage from Aspinwall, via Key West, to this city in 
September, 1859 is just the reverse of "a joy forever." 
The Caribbean Sea is not often furrowed so deeply as the 
Atlantic ; but its coral reefs, its weeping skies, its high tem 
perature, with the crowds which usually throng its California 
steamers, make it a terror to the land-lubbers from whom 
Neptune exacts tribute so persistently and distressingly as 
from me, to whom an ocean voyage is never an enjoyment, is 
seldom less than a torture. What science and mammoth ships 
may do for us, I will not predict ; but he who shall teach us to 
vanquish sea-sickness will deserve to be honored and crowned 
as one of the greatest benefactors of the human race. 



XL. 

TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 

~^HEKE are many ways of studying human nature ; many 
JL diverse lights wherein this motley world is or may be 
contemplated; I judge that one of the most instructive 
glimpses of it is that which we obtain through grated win 
dows. I forget, this moment, who characterizes the poet of 
beggary and ruffianism, Crabbe, as 

" Nature s sternest painter, but the best " ; 

yet I am quite sure that one of the most wholesome and prof 
itable, though least pleasant, experiences of my life, is that 
afforded by my confinement for forty-eight hours (with a good 
prospect of permanence) in the spacious debtors prison in 
Paris, No. 70 Eue de Clichy, known to misfortune as " the 
Maison Clichy," and more familiarly to its inmates as "Clichy" 
merely. It happened thus : 

In the years 1852-53, an association of mainly wealthy 
and public-spirited New-Yorkers undertook to imitate, if not 
rival, the first great Exposition of the World s Industry at 
London in 1851. So they subscribed capital, obtained a 
charter from the State, and a plot of vacant ground from the 
city, employed architects and builders, and at length con 
structed on Reservoir Square (Sixth Avenue and Fortieth to 
Forty-second Streets), by far the most symmetrical and spa 
cious edifice which our country has yet seen. The materials 
employed were almost wholly iron and glass, as in the case of 
its London prototype ; but, though the British was a superb 
structure, ours was still more graceful and imposing. I doubt 
that many are yet born who will see New York graced by a 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 333 

finer building than was her Crystal Palace, until destroyed by 
fire in 1858. 

Yet the Exhibition was doomed to failure from the start. 
It was located much too far up town, as much out of the 
way as it would to-day be at Harlem or Hoboken, it was 
but half finished, and nowise ready, when opened, and it 
steadily dragged, after the first few days, until, at the close of 
the season, it was found that the million or more of capital 
stock was all sunk, and the half-million of bonds a very du 
bious investment. 

A desperate effort was made to retrieve its fallen fortunes 
next Spring ; and I, with others, was then induced to take a 
hand in it as a director and (in a small way) bondholder. 
Mr. P. T. Barnum was our most active, efficient leader in this 
desperate effort at resurrection. There were several more 
directors who did their very best; but the year (1854) was 
one of pecuniary pressure and revulsion, which combined with 
other influences to render success impossible. I gave much 
hard work and a little money to the attempt, while Mr. Bar 
num gave much more, but to no purpose ; we barely paid our 
heavy current expenses ; and the Exposition closed with the 
season, nearly as bankrupt as when we undertook to resusci 
tate it. 

I went to Europe the next Spring (1855) without a suspi 
cion that I should there be held accountable for our inability 
to wrest victory from defeat ; yet, about 4 p. M. of the 2d day 
of June, after I had returned from a day s observation in the 
French " Palace of Industry," I was waited on at my little 
cottage by four French strangers, who soon gave me to under 
stand that they were officers of the law, bearing a writ issued 
by Judge de Belleyme, of the Court of Premier Instance, at 
the suit of one M. Lechesne, a Parisian sculptor, who swore 
that he had contributed to our New York Exhibition a statue 
(in plaster) which had there been broken, or mutilated ; for 
which he claimed of me, as a director, " represontant et soli- 
daire," of the Exhibition, "douze mille francs," or $2,500 in 
gold. When we had, by the help of my courier, arrived at 



334 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

some approach to a mutual understanding, one element of 
which was my refusal to pay M. Lechesne $ 2,500, or any sum 
whatever, they said that I must enter their carriage and ac 
company them forthwith to the Judge, some three miles away; 
which, attended by my courier, I did. We had to call for 
Lechesne and his lawyer by the way, which consumed nearly 
an hour, they being in no hurry ; and, when we had told 
the Judge our respective stories, I proposed to go to the 
American Legation and persuade Don Piatt, Esq., Secretary 
of Legation, to guarantee my appearance for trial when wanted. 
The Judge pronounced this sufficient; so we set forth on 
another long ride to the Legation ; where not only Judge Piatt, 
but another friend, Maunsel B. Field, Esq., offered himself as 
security for my appearance at court ; but now Lechesne and 
his lawyer refused, on the ground of Mr. Piatt s exemption 
from arrest on civil process, to take him as security, or (in 
fact) to take anything but the cash they were intent on. 
High words passed, and a scuffle was imminent, when I in 
sisted on being driven at once to prison, my guardians 
having affected a fear that I would escape them. Crossing 
the Avenue Champs Elysee, densely thronged at that hour 
(6 P. M.), our carriage came into violent collision with another, 
and was disabled ; when a very superfluous display of vigi 
lance and pistols was made by my keepers, who could not be 
persuaded that I was intent on sticking to them like a brother. 
At last, a little before 7 P. M., we reached our destination, and 
I was admitted, through several gigantic iron doors, witli 
gloomy crypts between them, to the office of the prison, where 
I was told that I must stay till 9 \ p. M., because the Judge 
had allowed me so long to procure bail. Here my guardians 
left me in safe-keeping, while I ordered a frugal dinner, in 
stead of the sumptuous public one at the Trois Freres, given 
by Mr. M. B. Field, which I had been invited, and had fully 
expected, to attend ; and I sent my courier home to quiet the 
apprehensions of my family, who as yet knew only that some 
strangers had called for me, and that I had gone off with them. 
Very soon, Judge Mason (John Y.), our Ambassador, called, 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 335 

and was admitted to see me, though it was now too late by 
the regulations. I explained the matter to him, assured him 
that I wanted nothing but a good lawyer, and insisted on 
viewing the whole matter in a more cheerful light than it 
wore in his eyes. " But your wife will surely be distressed 
by it," he urged ; " she being an utter stranger here, with two 
young children." "No," I replied; "a trifle might annoy 
her ; but this matter looks serious, and it will only calm and 
strengthen her. I have sent our courier to assure her that it 
is all right, and request her to keep away from this, and go 
on with her visiting and sight-seeing, as though nothing had 
happened." " I have heard you called a philosopher, and I 
now see that you deserve the distinction," was the Judge s 
rejoinder, as, at my request, he left me. 

Half an hour had scarcely passed, giving me barely time to 
eat my dinner, when my wife was ushered in, accompanied 
by Mrs. Piatt and our little son, whose eyes were distended 
with grave wonder at the iron barriers through which he had 
reached me. " Good woman," I observed to Mrs. Greeley, " I 
have been bragging to Judge Mason how quietly you would 
take this mischance ; but here you are in jail at nightfall, 
when visitors are not allowed, as though you were addicted 
to hysterics." " But consider," she urged in mitigation, " that 
I first heard of your position from Francis [our courier], who 
comes flying home to assure me that there is nothing serious, 
to urge me not to be frightened, when he is trembling all over 
with anxiety and terror. Hardly had he left the room, when 
Mrs. Piatt comes in equal haste to beg me to fear nothing, 
that all is but a trifle, and she is quite as agitated and panic- 
stricken as Francis. Neither of them seems to understand 
the matter ; so I thought I must come to you for an explana 
tion." This I gave ; when they departed ; and I was at last 
allowed to go up to my lodging, which I find thus described 
in my letter thence to The Tribune : 

"By 10 o clock, each of us lodgers had retired to our several 
apartments (each eight feet by five), and an obliging functionary 
came around and locked out all rascally intruders. I don t think 



336 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

I ever before slept in a place so perfectly secure. At 6 this 
morning, this extra protection was withdrawn, and each of us was 
thenceforth required to keep watch over his own valuables. We 
uniformly keep good hours here in Clichy, which is a virtue that 
not many large hotels in Paris can boast of. 

"The bedroom appointments are not of a high order, as is 
reasonable, since we are only charged for them four sous (cents) 
per night, washing extra. The sheets are rather of a hickory 
sort, but mine were given to me clean ; the bed is indifferent, but- 
I have slept on worse ; the window lacks a curtain or blind, but in 
its stead there are four strong upright iron bars, which are a per 
fect safeguard against getting up in the night, and falling or pitch 
ing out, so as to break your neck, as any one who fell thence would 
certainly do. (I am in the fifth or highest story.) Perhaps one 
of my predecessors was a somnambulist. I have two chairs, two 
little tables (probably one of them extra, through some mistake), 
and a cupboard which may once have been clean. The pint wash 
bowl, half-pint pitcher, &c., I have ordered, and am to pay extra 
for. I am a little ashamed to own that my repose has been in 
different ; but then I never do sleep well in a strange place." 

As it was Saturday evening when I was taken to jail, I 
could not expect a release before Monday ; in fact, the lawyers 
who were applied to in my behalf had all gone out of town, 
and could not be found till that day. I rose on Sunday morn 
ing in a less placid frame of mind than I had cherished over 
night, and devoted a good part of the day to concocting an 
account of the matter meant to be satirical, and to " chaff" 
mankind in general by contrasting the ways of Clichy with 
those of the outside world, to the dispraise of the latter. Here 
is a specimen : 

" I say nothing of Liberty, save to caution outsiders in France 
to be equally modest ; but * Equality and Fraternity I have 
found here more thoroughly than elsewhere in Europe. Still, we 
have not realized the social millennium, even in Clichy. Some of 
us were wont to gain our living by the hardest and most meagrely 
rewarded labor ; others to live idly and sumptuously on the earn 
ings of others. Of course, these vices of an irrational and decaying 
social state are not instantly eradicated by our abrupt transfer to 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 337 

this mansion. Some of us can cook ; while others only know how 
to eat, and so require assistance in the preparation of our food, as 
none is cooked or even provided for us, and our intercourse with 
the outer world is subject to limitations. Those of us who lived 
generously aforetime, and are in for gentlemanly sums, are very 
apt to have money ; while the luckless chaps who were sent here 
for owing a beggarly hundred francs or so, and have no fixed income 
beyond the single franc per day which each creditor must pay, or 
his debtor is turned loose, are very glad to earn money by doing 
us acts of kindness. One of these attached himself to me immedi 
ately on my induction into my apartment, and proceeded to make 
my bed, bring me a pitcher of water and wash-bowl, matches, 
lights, c., for which I expect to pay him, these articles being 
reckoned superfluities in Clichy. But no such aristocratic distinc 
tion as master no such degrading appellation as servant is 
tolerated in this community : this philanthropic fellow-boarder is 
known to all here as my auxiliary. Where has the stupid world 
outside known how to drape the hard realities of life with fig-leaf 
so graceful as this ? 

" So of all titular distinctions. We pretend that we have abjured 
titles of honor in America ; and the consequence is that every one 
has a title, either * Honorable, or General, or Colonel, or 
Reverend, or, at the very least, Esquire. But here in Clichy 
all such empty and absurd prefixes or suffixes are absolutely un 
known ; even names, Christian or family, are discarded as useless, 
antiquated lumber. Every lodger is known by the number of his 
apartment only, which no one thinks of designating a cell. Mine 
is 139 : so, whenever a friend calls, he gives two cents to a com 
missionaire, who comes in from the outer regions to the great hall 
sacred to our common use, and begins calling out cent-trente-neuf 
(phonetically son-tran-nuf ) at the top of his voice, and goes on, 
yelling as he climbs, in the hope of finding or calling me short of 
ascending to my fifth-story sanctuary. To nine-tenths of my com 
rades in adversity I am known only as son-tran-nuf. My auxili 
ary is No. 54 ; so I, when I need his aid, go singing sankon-cat, 
after the same fashion. Equality being thus rigidly preserved, 
maugre some diversities of fortune, the jealousies, rivalries, and 
heart-burnings, which keep the mass of mankind in a ferment, are 
here absolutely unknown. I never before talked with so many 
22 



338 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

people intimate with each other without hearing something said or 
insinuated to one another s prejudice ; here, there is nothing of the 
sort. Some folks outside are fitted with reputations which they 
would hardly consider flattering, some laws and usages get the 
blessing they so richly deserve, but among ourselves is naught 
but harmony and good-will. How would the Hotel de Ville, or even 
the Tuileries, like to compare notes with us on this head 1 " 

A Yankee prisoner, who had seen me in New York, recog 
nized me as I came down stairs on Sunday morning, and 
blazoned his inference that I was in jail by some mistake, 
so I was soon surrounded by sympathizing fellow jail-birds, 
several of whom were no more justly liable to imprisonment 
than I was. In a little while, M. Vattemare, well known in 
his day as the projector of systematic international exchanges 
of books and documents, having heard of my luck at Mr. 
Field s dinner the evening previous, made his way in, with 
proffers of service, which I turned to account by obtaining, 
through him, from some great library, copies of the Revised 
Statutes and Session Laws of New York, which clearly demon 
strated my legal irresponsibility to M.Lechesne for his damaged 
statue. Soon, other friends began to pour in, with offers of 
money and service ; but I could not afford to be bailed out nor 
bought out, as fifty others would thereby be tempted to repeat 
M. Lechesne s experiment upon me, so I was compelled to 
send them away, with my grateful acknowledgments. 

Among my visitors was M. Hector Bossange, the well- 
known publisher, who had been accustomed to call at my 
rooms each Sunday, as he did on this one, and was soon asked 
by my wife, " Have you seen Mr. Greeley ? " " Seen him !" 
he perplexedly responded, " I do not understand you ; have 
I not called to see him ? " " Then you have not heard that 
he is in prison ? " "In prison ? " he wildly inquired ; " what 
can that mean ? " "I do not well understand it myself," she 
replied; "but it has some connection with our New York 
Crystal Palace." " 0, it is money, is it ?" joyfully rejoined 
M. Bossange ; " then we will soon have him out, I feared it 
was politics I " He knew that I was a furious anti-Imperialist, 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 339 

and feared that I had rashly involved myself in some plot 
that exposed me to arrest as an apostle of sedition, an 
enemy of " Order." 

Our remaining visitors having been barred out when the 
clock struck 4 p. M., we two Americans, with two Englishmen, 
a Frenchman, and an Italian, sent out our order, and had our 
dinner in the cell of one of us, who, being an old settler, had 
an apartment somewhat more roomy and less exalted than 
mine. Each brought to the common " spread " whatever he 
had of table-ware or pocket-cutlery ; arid the aggregate, though 
there were still deficiencies, answered the purpose. The din 
ner cost fifty cents per head, of which a part went as toll to 
some officer or turnkey, and there was still a good margin of 
profit to the restaurateur. Still, there was wine for those who 
would drink it ; but stronger liquors are not allowed in Clichy, 
in spite of the assurance, so often heard, that prohibitory 
legislation is unknown in France. A flask of cut-throat-look 
ing brandy had, however, been smuggled in for one of our 
party ; and this was handed around and sipped as though it 
were nectar. Men love to circumvent the laws for the grati 
fication of their appetites ; and yet I judge that not one gill 
of spirits is drank in Clichy, where quarts were poured down 
while every one was free to order and drink so long as he 
could pay. 

I presume I had had more calls that day than any other 
prisoner, though Sunday is specially devoted to visits ; and, 
though grateful for the kindness and zeal for my release 
evinced by several of my friends, I was thoroughly weary 
when the lingerers were invited to take their departure, and 
the doors clanged heavily behind them. I could then appre 
ciate the politeness with which M. Ouvrard, Napoleon s great 
army-contractor, after he had fallen into embarrassments and 
been lodged in Clichy by his inexorable creditors, was accus 
tomed, when visitors called, to send to the grating his faithful 
valet, who, with the politest bow and shrug whereof he was 
master, would say, " I am sorry, sir, very sorry ; but my 
master, M. Ouvrard, is out." This was not even the " white 



340 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

lie " often instigated by good society ; since the visitor could 
not fail to understand that the great bankrupt could be out in 
none other than that conventional, metaphorical sense which 
implies merely preoccupation, or unwillingness to be button 
holed and bored. 

No prisoner in Clichy is obliged to see a visitor unless of 
his own choice ; and, as one is frequently called down to the 
grating to have a fresh writ served on him, thereby magnify 
ing the obstacles to his liberation, the rule that a visitor must 
make a minute of his errand on his card, and send it up, before 
an interview is accorded, is one founded in reason, and very 
generally and properly adhered to. Yet a fellow-prisoner, 
who received notice that he was called for at the grate, went 
recklessly down on the day after my incarceration, only to 
greet a tip-staff, and be served with a fresh writ. " Sir," said 
the beguiled and indignant boarder at this city hermitage, 
" if you ever serve me such a trick again, you will go out of 
here half killed." Some official underling was violently sus 
pected of lending himself to this stratagem ; and great was 
the indignation excited thereby throughout our community ; 
but the victim had only himself to blame, for not standing on 
his reserved rights, and respecting the usages and immunities 
of our sanctuary. 

I was puzzled, but not offended, at a question put me the 
moment I had fairly entered the prison : " Have you ever 
been confined here before ? " I respectfully, but positively, 
replied in the negative, that this was my first experience of 
the kind. I soon learned, however, that the question was a 
prescribed and necessary one, that, if I had ever before been 
imprisoned on this allegation of debt, or on any other, and 
this had been lodged against me, I was not liable to a fresh 
detention thereon, but must at once be discharged. The rule 
is a good one ; and, though I was unable t/ien to profit by it, 
it may serve me another time. 

My general conclusion, from all I observed and heard in 
Clichy, imports that imprisonment for debt was never a bar 
to improvidence, nor a curb to prodigality ; that, in so far as 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 341 

it ever aided or hastened the collection of honest debts, it 
wrenched five dollars from sympathizing relatives and friends 
for every one exacted from the debtors themselves ; and that 
it was, and could not fail to be, fruitful only in oppression 
and extortion, much oftener enforcing the payment of unjust 
claims than of just ones. Let whoever will sneer at human 
progress and uneasy, meddling philanthropy, I am grateful 
that I have lived in the age which gave the death-blow to 
Slavery and to Imprisonment for Debt. 



To get into prison is a feat easy of achievement by almost any 
one ; it is quite otherwise with getting out. You cannot fully 
realize how rigid stone walls and iron doors are till they stand 
between you and sunshine, impeding locomotion, and forbid 
ding any but the most limited change of place. The restless 
anxiety of prisoners for release, no matter how light their cares, 
how ample their apartments, how generous their fare, can 
never be appreciated by one who has not had a massive key 
turned upon him, and found himself on the wrong side of an 
impregnable wall. Doubtless, we hear much nonsense where 
of " Liberty " is the burden ; but, if you are sceptical as to the 
essential worth of Freedom, just allow yourself to be locked 
up for a while, with no clear prospect of liberation at any 
specified or definite time. Though I was but forty-eight hours 
in Clichy, time dragged heavily on my hands, after the friends 
who, in generous profusion, visited me on Sunday had been 
barred and locked out, and I was left for a second night to 
my fellow jail-birds and my gloomy reflections. " I can t get 
out " was the melancholy plaint of Sterne s starling ; and I 
had occasion to believe that so many detainers or claims simi 
lar to Lechesne s would, on Monday, be lodged against me, as 
to render doubtful my release for weeks, if not for months. 

It was late on Monday morning before my active friends 
outside could procure me the help I needed ; but, when they 
did, I had, through M. Vattemare s valued aid, the books I 
required, and had my references and citations all ready for 



342 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

service. With these in hand, my lawyers went before Jud^e 
de Belleyme to procure iny release ; but M. Vattemare had 
been there already, as well as to M. de Langle, the judge of 
a still higher court, to testify that the Americans were gener 
ally indignant at iny incarceration, and were threatening to 
leave Paris in a body if I were not promptly liberated. Even 
M. James Eothschild, I was told, had made an indignant 
speech about it at a dinner on Saturday evening ; saying to 
his friends : " We are most of us directors in the Exposition 
now in progress here, and of course liable to be arrested and 
imprisoned in any foreign country we may visit, on a com 
plaint that some one has had articles damaged or lost here, if 
Mr. Greeley may be so held in this action." 

These representations impelled M. de Belleyme to say, in 
perfect truth, that he had not ordered my imprisonment, 
on the contrary, he had directed the plaintiff and his lawyer 
to take Mr. Don Piatt s guaranty that I should be on hand, 
when wanted, to respond to this action. So when, at the 
instance of my lawyers, M. Lechesne and his attorney were 
called to confront them before the Judge on Monday, and 
were asked by him how they came to take me to Clichy, 
under the circumstances, they could only stammer out that 
they had reflected that Mr. Piatt was not subject to imprison 
ment in like case, therefore, his guaranty was no security. 
This, of course, did not satisfy the Judge, who ordered my 
release on the instant ; so by 4 P. M. all formalities were 
concluded, and my lawyers appeared with the documents 
required to turn me into the street. Meantime, I had had so 
many visitors, who sent up good-looking cards, and wore 
honest faces, that I had manifestly risen in the estimation of 
iny jailers, who had begun to treat me with ample considera 
tion. 

The neighboring servants, who were intimate with ours, had 
witnessed my departure with the officers, and knew, of course, 
that this was an arrest, but pretended to our servants not to 
understand it. One after another of them would call on our 
employees to ask, " Why, where is Mr. Greeley ? " " He has 



TWO DAYS IN JAIL. 343 

gone over to London on a little business," was the prompt 
reply, " and will be back in a day or two." This was accepted 
with many a sly wink and gentle shrug ; the inquisitors hav 
ing obviously united in the conclusion that I was a swindler, 
who had robbed some bank or vault, and fled from my own 
country to enjoy the fruits of my depredations. When, how 
ever, I came quietly home in a cab about the time indicated 
by our servants, they greatly exulted over the hoped-for, rather 
than expected, denouement, while their good-natured friends 
were correspondingly disconcerted by the failure of their cal 
culations. On our part, we resumed at once our round of 
visiting and sight-seeing, as though nothing had happened ; 
but my little son s flying hair and radiant face, as he rushed 
down stairs to greet my return, will not soon be forgotten. 
He had been told that it was all right, when he found and 
left me in prison, and had tried hard to believe it ; but my 
return, unattended and unguarded, he knew to be right. 



I had a tedious legal squabble thereafter, for my libera 
tion did not, of course, abate M. Lechesne s suit against me, 
and had to send to New York for documents and affidavits ; 
meantime going to Switzerland with my family, as I have 
already related, and I was signally aided in my defence by 
Hon. Elihu B. Washburne, of Illinois, who happened to 
be in Paris at the time ; but, as there was really no case 
against me, I was at length enabled to demonstrate that fact 
to the satisfaction of the functionary who had been deputed 
to hear and report on the suit to the Tribunal of Commerce, 
before which I had been cited by Lechesne, a proceeding 
wholly illegal, my lawyers asserted, as neither party to the 
action was a merchant. My counsel wished to demur to the 
jurisdiction, saying that the Tribunal was not a court of law, 
and always decided for a Frenchman against a foreigner, no 
matter how unjustly. At length, however, when my docu 
ments arrived from New York, they could hold off no longer, 
but went before the officer in question, where my opponents 



344 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

were most reluctant to meet them, asking for time to send to 
America for documents also ! We understood that this was 
only a pretext to avoid a judgment for costs, they did not 
really want to send to America, and did not send. We let 
them off on that excuse, however, and I came away, leav 
ing the suit stone dead. 



I rejoice that imprisonment for debt was recently abolished 
in France, I trust forever. I doubt that it ever made one 
debtor even outwardly honest ; I am sure it often compelled the 
relatives and friends of prodigals to pay debts which should 
never have been contracted. It is wrong it is immoral 
to trust those who do not deserve credit, it is doubly wrong 
to impose the payment of such debts upon some frugal uncle 
or brother of the debtor, in pity for that debtor s weeping wife 
and children. " Let every tub stand on its own bottom " is a 
sound rule, which imprisonment for debt tends strongly to 
subvert. Men are trusted w^ho should not be, on the calcula 
tion, " I can get my pay out of his relatives by putting him 
into jail"; hence tavern-scores and merchants accounts where 
cash down would have precluded extravagance and dissipa 
tion. The civilized world is not yet prepared for the repeal 
of all laws designed to enforce the collection of simple debts 
(not trusts) ; but this reform must come in due time, when 
mankind will wonder why it could so long have been re 
sisted. False credit credit to those who do not deserve, 
and will be rather harmed than helped by it is the bane of 
our civilization. Every second man you meet is struggling 
with debts which he should never have contracted. We need 
a legal reform, which will greatly diminish our current facili 
ties for running into debt. 



XLI. 



"THE BANKS CONGRESS." -- THE LONG- CONTEST FOR 
SPEAKER. 



I HAD often, since the establishment of The Tribune, run 
down to Washington for a very few days ; but never, save 
when for ninety days a member of the House, had I been 
tempted to protract my stay there ; and my associates had 
repeatedly regretted that I could not be induced to spend 
more time at the political metropolis. Reflecting on this, 
and on the probabilities of a long and doubtful struggle for 
the Speakership of the XXXIVth Congress, I resolved, 
while staying in Paris in the Summer of 1855, that I would 
visit Washington before the opening of that Congress, and 
remain there until requested by my associates in business to 
return to New York, a resolve of which I gave them due 
notice. When the roll of the new House was first called, at 
noon on Monday, December 3, I was looking on from a 
reporter s desk; and I remained in observation for many 
weeks thereafter. 

That House was constituted as no other has ever yet been. 
No party had a majority of its members, while two separate 
organizations seemed to have. The " Americans " had chosen > 
a majority ; so had the " Republicans," or opponents of the 
policy embodied in the Nebraska Bill ; but the lines of these 
two organizations ran into and crossed each other. We Re 
publicans who were an ti-" Know-Nothing " were perfectly 
willing to support an anti-Nebraska " American " for Speaker ; 
but nearly all the Southern " Americans " would support no 
candidate who was in principle a Republican. Thus, there 



346 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

was in fact no majority of any party, and a long, bitter, ex 
citing struggle for the organization was inevitable. 

The Democrats held a caucus, as usual, and nominated 
William A. Richardson, of Illinois, for Speaker; but they 
could give him, at the utmost, but 80 votes, and actuaUy did 
give him, on the first ballot, but 74. The Southern " Ameri 
cans" mainly supported Humphrey Marshall; of Kentucky, 
who had 30 votes on the first ballot ; but they were ready to 
vote for any Northern "Know-Nothing" who was not in 
principle a Republican, and Henry M. Fuller, of Pennsylva 
nia, had 17 votes, mainly from the South. The Republicans 
and anti-Nebraska "Americans" had held no caucus and 
made no nominations ; but they cast, on the first ballot, 53 
votes for Lewis D. Campbell of Ohio, 21 for Nathaniel P. 
Banks of Massachusetts, 7 for Alexander C. M. Pennington of 
New Jersey, and there were 23 scattering votes, mainly theirs. 
Four ballots were taken that day, with no material variation 
from the foregoing result ; when the House adjourned. The 
next day, five ballots were taken, Mr. Richardson s vote 
being increased (by a fresh arrival) to 75, Mr. Banks s to 31, 
and Mr. Fuller s (at the expense of Humphrey Marshall s) to 
21 ; when the House again adjourned. The next day, Mr. 
Campbell s vote was run up to 81, at Mr. Banks s expense ; 
but he thenceforth began to fall off; and on Friday, having 
just received 75 votes, he formally declined ; stating that he 
was satisfied that he could not be elected without either repu 
diating his well-known American and anti-Nebraska princi 
ples, or making pledges regarding the formation of Commit 
tees that would justly expose him to public contempt. Mr. 
Banks now received 41 votes; thence steadily and rapidly 
increasing, until, on the thirty-seventh ballot, he had 107; 
still lacking six more to elect him ; Richardson having 76 and 
Fuller 28, with 13 scattering, mainly Southern "Americans." 
Thenceforth, the struggle went on, with no change but that 
caused by occasional absences of members of either party, 
generally paired, but relieved by fitful debates on party ques 
tions, sometimes lasting through a day or more, until, on 



"BANKS CONGRESS." CONTEST FOR SPEAKER. 347 

the 22d, Mr. Stan ton, of Ohio, first moved that a plurality 
vote (the highest) should thereafter suffice to elect; which 
was promptly laid on the table, by 114 Yeas to 107 Nays, 
the latter being the Republicans or Banks men, outvoted by 
the combined strength of all the other parties. This motion 
was repeatedly renewed by Republicans, with no better suc 
cess ; and the House once voted not to adjourn till a Speaker 
should be chosen ; but, after a tedious and excited night ses 
sion, this resolve was rescinded, and the debating, with occa 
sional ballotings, continued. On the 27th, so many members, 
mainly Southern, had gone home to spend Christmas, that 
Mr. Banks needed a change of but 3 votes to elect him, he 
having 100 to 105 for all others. On several of the succeed 
ing ballots during the holidays, Mr. Banks lacked but 3 and 
then 4 votes of a majority ; but, as the absent members 
returned, the prospect of an election receded. At length, on 
the 21st of January, Mr. Albert Rust (since a Rebel Briga 
dier) of Arkansas moved the following : 

" Whereas, One hundred and eighteen ineffectual efforts to elect 
a Speaker, in which the votes have been divided among Mr. Banks, 
Mr. Richardson, Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Pennington, must have made 
it manifest to those gentlemen and this Congress that neither of 
them is the choice of a majority of the members of this House 
for its presiding officer, and that a longer persistence on the part 
of their respective friends in urging their names for this office 
will only delay the organization of this House, and thereby pre 
vent immediate legislation, when the common interests of the 
whole country require it : Therefore, 

" Resolved, That it is the sense of this House that Messrs. Banks, 
Richardson, Fuller, and Pennington, by withdrawing their names, 
and forbidding their use as candidates for the Speakership, would 
remove certain and insurmountable obstacles to its organization, 
and that the public interests would be greatly promoted by their 
doing so." 

Hereupon, Messrs. Fuller and Pennington promptly gave 
notice that they were no longer candidates for Speaker. Mr. 
Rust, finding impediments to their present consideration, 



348 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

withdrew his preamble and resolve, giving notice that lie 
would reoffer them on the morrow. 

I listened to his proposition with intense indignation. It 
was based on an assumption notoriously false, namely, that 
the organization of the House was impeded by personal aspi 
rations and rivalries, when all knew that the conflict was 
one of principles, and that Rust himself was invincibly 
hostile to Banks only because Banks represented resistance 
to the further diffusion of Slavery. And Mr. Banks s sup 
porters, with his hearty concurrence, had once and again 
offered to let a plurality choose, so that his and their oppo 
nents would be compelled to concentrate their strength or 
submit to a defeat. So far as the Republicans were con 
cerned, they had long stood ready and eager to close the con 
test in the only practicable way ; and it was a wrong and an 
insult for the antagonist parties, who could not unite on a 
candidate; to combine their forces for the purpose of driving 
from the field the chosen candidate of the Republicans. 
This dictating by one side who should or should not be sup 
ported by the other seemed to me a gross outrage ; and I so 
characterized it in my despatches and letters to The Tribune. 

Mr. Rust renewed his proposition on the 23d ; when the 
House refused to order the main question upon it, and it 
went over under the rule to the next day ; when, on motion 
of Mr. Pringle, of New York, it was laid on the table by 100 
to 99. 

I believe it was on this day that, just after the House had 
adjourned, and while all in attendance were returning to 
their respective lodgings, I was accosted by a stout, athletic 
man whom I did not then know, but afterward ascertained to 
be Rust, with the abrupt question, "Would you resent an 
insult ? " " That depends on circumstances " was my answer. 
The words were scarcely spoken when a powerful blow, that 
I neither saw nor anticipated, temporarily stunned and stag 
gered me ; but I brought up against the wooden railing of 
the walk down through the public grounds, from the Capitol 
to the Avenue. Dozens of all parties were around, but no 



"BANKS CONGRESS." CONTEST FOR SPEAKER. 349 

one interposed ; and Eust, whirling on his heel, proceeded on 
his way. Soon recovering my consciousness, I followed ; and, 
just before reaching my (National) hotel, overtook Eust and 
his party, who were probably awaiting me. He turned, with 
three or four friends flanking him, and again assaulted me ; 
this time with a heavy cane, which he broke over my arm, 
raised to guard my head, as I was trying to close with him. 
My arm was badly swelled by the blow, as my head was by 
its predecessor, but I neither fell nor recoiled; and Eust, 
soon whirling again, went on his way, while I repaired to my 
room in the hotel, which I was obliged to keep for some days 
thereafter. The only excuse or pretext for this assault was 
afforded by my strictures in The Tribune on his baffled at 
tempt to coerce his political opponents into voting for some 
one else than the man of their choice for Speaker. 

I cannot now remember that I was ever seriously assaulted 
since my boyhood except by Eust as aforesaid. Writing the 
plainest and squares t Anglo- Saxon I know, and often speak 
ing of political opponents, their works, ways, and words, in 
terms that could by no tolerable stretch of courtesy be deemed 
flattering, terms, doubtless, sometimes misjudging and un 
deserved, I suppose I ought to deem myself fortunate in 
having so seldom been subjected to personal violence. Still, 
if Eust s assaults were intended to convince me that his 
proposition was fair and manly, they certainly failed to sub 
serve their purpose. 

Some weeks after these assaults, I was waited on at the 
Capitol by the Marshal of the District, who wished me to go 
before the Grand Jury as a witness against Eust. This I de 
clined to do, unless compelled by due process of law ; for, I 
urged, there were fully a score who witnessed either assault, 
all under circumstances more favorable to observation than 
mine ; and, if these did not see fit to testify, why call on me ? 
I did not choose to figure as an informer or complainant. I 
decidedly preferred not to have the wrath of the law placated 
by a fine of $ 25 or $ 50. So nothing was ever done in the 
premises. I do not even remember that Eust was ever pre- 



350 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

sented by his admirers with a cane, as Mr. Brooks of South 
Carolina was with several by those who exulted over his far 
more savage and damaging attack, a few weeks later, on Sen 
ator Sumner, a crime for which a Washington court fined 
the Hon. culprit $ 300. 

If there happens to be any one who decides that Rust s 
proposal did not justify my strictures (which, I assume, were 
severe), I ask him to pass judgment on one that was sub 
mitted, directly after Rust s was disposed of, by Hon. Charles 
James Faulkner of Virginia, afterward President Buchanan s 
Minister Plenipotentiary to London. It is as follows : 

"Resolved, That the persistent adherence of the Republican 
party to the Hon. Nathaniel P. Banks as its candidate for the 
office of Speaker, after the repeated manifestations by the majority 
of the members of this House that he does not possess their con 
fidence for that situation, exhibits a determination to sacrifice the 
public interests of the country to the triumphs of a personal and 
sectional party ; and that the further continuance of his name 
before this body, as the candidate of his party for the office of 
Speaker, justly attaches to his supporters the responsibility for a 
failure to organize this House." 

I do not believe in the Rust style of argumentation ; yet I 
cannot see how such propositions as the above could be ap 
propriately met by any other. 

And still the balloting for Speaker went fitfully on, alter 
nated with debates. 

President Pierce having sent in his Annual Message on the 
25th, though the House was in no condition to receive it, 
Mr. Banks now generally lacking six or seven votes of being 
chosen, while all manner of back-stairs intrigues were fo 
mented by the twenty or thirty nominal Republicans of 
whom each fancied that he would stand a good chance for 
the Speakership if Banks were withdrawn ; and one or two 
serious but unsuccessful attempts having been made to con 
centrate the entire anti-Republican vote on Hon. James L. 
Orr (Dem.), of South Carolina ; at length, on the 1st of Feb 
ruary, a motion by Hon. John Hickman, of Pennsylvania, to 



"BANKS CONGRESS." CONTEST FOR SPEAKER. 351 

adopt a plurality rule, was defeated by the close vote of 108 
Yeas to 110 Nays ; so that it was evident an election was not 
far off. Next day, Mr. Samuel A. Smith (Dem.), of Tennes 
see, renewed the proposition in this shape : 

" Resolved, That the House will proceed immediately to the 
election of a Speaker viva voce. If, after the roll shall have been 
called three times, no member shall have received a majority of 
all the votes cast, the roll shall again be called, and the member 
who shall then receive the largest number of votes, provided it 
shall be a majority of a quorum, shall be declared duly elected 
Speaker of the House of Representatives of the XXXIVth Con 
gress." 

A motion to lay this proposition on the table was promptly 
voted down, 114 to 104, and the resolution then adopted, 
under the Previous Question, Yeas, 113 ; Nays, 104. The 
Democrats who supported it were Messrs. Barclay of Penn 
sylvania, Clingman of North Carolina, Herbert of California, 
Kelly of New York, Andrew Oliver of New York, S. A. Smith 
of Tennessee, and John Williams of New York. Several at 
tempts to rescind the above rule were successively made and 
voted down ; and then the House, rejecting all motions to 
adjourn, proceeded to vote under it, with the following 
result : 

IMth ballot. ISlst. 1S2d. 133d. 

Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts . 102 102 102 103 

William Aiken, of South Carolina . . 93 93 92 100 

Henry M. Fuller, of Pennsylvania .. 14 13 13 6 

Scattering, 6 6 6 5 

The House thereupon, on motion of Mr. Clingman of North 
Carolina, resolved, by 155 to 40, that Mr. Banks had been duly 
elected Speaker ; and the long struggle was over. It is memor 
able as the very first in our National history wherein Northern 
resistance to Slavery Extension ever won in a fair, stand-up 
contest, without compromise or equivocation. Nine weeks had 
been spent I think, not unprofitably in producing this 
result ; and there were not over seventy-five decided Eepub- 
licans in the House of 234 members in which it was achieved. 
Day after day, those who still insisted on holding on to Banks 



352 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

had been inveighed against as perilling the cause for their 
favorite ; when, in fact, had Banks been dropped, it would 
have been found impossible to concentrate so many votes on 
any one else, as were nearly (or quite) a hundred times cast 
for him. The readiness of his friends, at all times, to adopt 
the plurality rule, and abide the result, shielded them from 
all just reproach as wantonly protracting the contest. If ap 
propriations were needed, it became the supporters of the Ad 
ministration to let the House be organized under that rule, so 
that the public need might be satisfied. The long contest 
had proved the " American " organization a myth, a fog-bank, 
an illusion ; and the new-born Eepublican party, consolidated 
and united by this struggle, mustered heartily and formidably 
at its first National Convention, which assembled at Pitts- 
burg, Pa., on the 22d of that month. 



Mr. Banks, though then in his second term, proved an 
excellent Speaker, prompt, vigorous, decided, and just. 
Though a majority remained politically hostile to him, and 
the waves of party passion ran very high, I believe but one 
of the many decisions made by him as Speaker was over 
ruled ; and the House, on calmer consideration, reconsidered 
its overruling vote. Abler men may have filled that difficult 
post ; but no man, I judge, ever gave himself more unreserv 
edly to the discharge of its arduous duties. I have heard 
that Mr. Banks was a schoolmaster in his youth, and his 
manner in the chair often countenanced the tradition. If he 
had a fault, it was that of overdoing, impelled by absorbing 
anxiety to keep in order a body essentially turbulent, and 
inclined to resent and baffle any attempt to draw the reins 
too tightly. The temptations to an opposite course are very 
strong, and presiding officers far oftener err on the side of 
laxity than on that of rigor. 



XLII. 

FREMONT. BUCHANAN. DOUGL AS. 

THE popular elections of 1854-55 had made manifest 
the fact that the Opposition, if united on one ticket, was 
strong enough to oust the Democratic party from power at 
Washington ; the long and arduous struggle for Speaker had 
shown that such combination could only be effected with 
great difficulty, if at all. The " American " party was first in 
the field, selecting as its candidates Millard Fillmore, of 
New York, for President, with Andrew J. Donelson (nephew 
and namesake of "Old Hickory"), of Tennessee, for Vice- 
President, men of decided personal strength, but impossible 
candidates for the Eepublicans, because radically hostile to 
their cardinal principle. The Democrats next held their Con 
vention, and nominated James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, for 
President, with John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, for Vice- 
President. President Pierce and Senator Douglas were Mr. Bu 
chanan s competitors, and were wisely defeated, each of them 
being conspicuously identified with the Nebraska bill ; while 
Mr. Buchanan, having been, throughout President Pierce s term, 
Envoy to Great Britain, had escaped all complication in the 
popular mind with that measure. And, as Pennsylvania was 
the probable pivot of the contest, it was manifestly wise to 
present a Pennsylvanian for the first office. The Eepublicans, 
meeting last, nominated Colonel John C. Fremont, of Califor 
nia, for President, with William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, 
for Yice-President. They were strongly urged to present 
John McLean, of Ohio, then a Justice of the Supreme Court, 
for the first office, with the assurance that he could secure the 

23 



354 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

bulk of the " American " vote, at least in the Free States, 
and thus probably carry Pennsylvania and Indiana. This 
assurance seemed to rest on no certain or tangible data, and 
was overruled, a mistake (if such it were) for which I ac 
cept my full share of responsibility. I felt that Colonel Fre 
mont s adventurous, dashing career had given him popularity, 
with our young men especially ; and I had no faith in the 
practicability of our winning many votes from those " Ameri 
cans " who were not heartily Republicans. 

Our canvass was very animated, and our hopes, for a season, 
quite sanguine, especially after Maine had gone for us in Sep 
tember, by 25,000 plurality ; but the October elections gave 
us a cold chill, Pennsylvania choosing the Democratic 
State officers, by 3,000 majority, over the vote of the com 
bined Opposition, with 15 of the 25 representatives in Con 
gress, and a majority in the Legislature. Indiana likewise 
went against the combined Opposition, by an average majority 
of more than 6,000 ; and when it transpired that the " Ameri 
can " leaders, rejecting all offers to run combined tickets, per 
sisted in running distinctive Fillmore tickets for Electors in 
each of these (as in most other) States, it was clear that we 
were doomed to defeat, all the States that we could still 
rationally hope to carry casting less than half the Electoral 
votes. Yet we fought on with much resolution, though with 
little hope ; giving Fremont and Dayton the six New England 
States, by clear majorities ; New York, by 80,000 plurality ; 
and Ohio, by nearly 17,000 ; while Michigan, Iowa, arid Wis 
consin went decidedly for us, as Illinois would have done had 
there been no third ticket. Pennsylvania and Indiana each 
gave Mr. Buchanan a bare majority over the two opposing 
tickets. Mr. Fillmore received the 8 electoral votes of Mary 
land only ; Colonel Fremont had 114 votes, those of eleven 
Free States; while Mr. Buchanan was elected by 112 votes 
from fourteen Slave States, and 62 from five Free States, 
174 in all, or a clear majority. The aggregate popular vote 
stood: Buchanan, 1,838,232; Fremont, 1,341,514 ; Fillmore, 
874,707. Buchanan s inauguration (March 4, 1857) was 



FREMONT. BUCHANAN. DOUGLAS. 355 

swiftly followed by the since famous Dred Scott decision of 
the Supreme Court, which denied the right of Congress to 
prohibit slaveholding in the Territories of the Union, and 
proclaimed it the notion of our Revolutionary fathers that 
Blacks have no rights that Whites are bound to respect. Mr. 
Buchanan foreshadowed this decision in his Inaugural, gave 
it his hearty indorsement, and commended it to general ap 
proval. 

Kansas had begun to be settled in 1854, directly after the 
passage of the Nebraska bill, and had inevitably become an 
arena of strife and violence. Colonies were sent thither from 
the Free States expressly to mould her to the uses of Free La 
bor ; while weaker colonies were sent thither from the South, 
to bind her to the car of Slavery. These would have been 
of small account had they not been largely supplemented 
by the incursions of Missourians, who, thoroughly armed, 
swarmed across the unmarked border whenever an election 
was impending ; camping in the vicinity of most of the polls, 
whereof they took unceremonious possession, and voting till 
they were sure that no more votes were needed ; when they 
decamped, and returned to their Missouri homes. As the 
Free-State settlers refused to be thus subjugated, there were 
soon two Territorial legislatures, with sheriffs and courts to 
match ; and these inevitably led to collisions of authorities 
and of forces, resulting in general insecurity and turmoil, with 
occasional sacrifices of property and of life. Congress had tried 
to end these disorders ; but no plan could be agreed upon by 
the two Houses, and nothing was effected. At length, in the 
Summer of 1857, the pro-Slavery minority, powerfully aided 
by the " Border Ruffians," elected a Convention, framed a Pro- 
Slavery Constitution, adopted it after their fashion, and sent 
it to Congress for approval and ratification. It was known as 
the " Lecompton " Constitution, from the place where it was 
fabricated. 

Mr. Buchanan at first hesitated to indorse or be complicated 
with this procedure ; so that there was trouble in the camp ; 



356 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and it was currently reported that his less scrupulous Secre 
tary of the Treasury, Howell Cobb, of Georgia, being 
asked by a visitor what was the matter, carelessly replied, 
" 0, not much ; only Old Buck is opposing the Administra 
tion." Senator Douglas, on the one hand, at first seemed 
inclined to the side of the Missourians, whose cause he had 
upheld with signal ability and energy in the preceding Con 
gress ; but he soon demonstrated in favor of genuine " Popular 
Sovereignty," in Kansas, which was his more natural and con 
sistent position. Eeports of this change had preceded his 
appearance in Washington as a member of the XXXVth Con 
gress ; so that, on his calling to pay his respects to the Presi 
dent, an animated and spicy colloquy on the ruling topic was 
at once commenced by his host. " Mr. Douglas," said the 
President, " how are we to allay the contention and trouble 
created by this strife over the Lecompton Constitution ? " 
" Why, Mr. President," replied his guest, " I do not see how 
you should have any trouble in the premises. The Constitu 
tion says, Congress shall make all needful rules and regula 
tions respecting the Territories, &c., but I cannot recall any 
clause which requires the President to make any." Thus the 
conversation ran on, until the President, waxing warm, saw 
fit to warn his visitor that his present course would, if per 
sisted in, soon carry him out of the Democratic party. " Mr. 
Senator," he inquired, " do you clearly apprehend the goal to 
which you are now tending ? " " Yes, sir," promptly responded 
the Little Giant ; " I have taken a through ticket, and checked 
all my baggage." Further discussion being obviously useless, 
Mr. Douglas soon left the White House, and I believe he did 
not visit it again during Mr. Buchanan s administration. 



The XXXVth Congress, which had been mainly chosen 
simultaneously with Mr. Buchanan, or nearly so, was decid 
edly Democratic, and still more strongly pro-Slavery, the 
Senate impregnably so, by about two to one, and yet, so 
flagrant were the enormities of the Lecompton measure, and so 



FREMONT. BUCHANAN. DOUGLAS. 357 

conspicuous the ability and the energy of Mr. Douglas, who led 
the resistance to it, and threw his whole soul into the work, 
that the attempt to make Kansas a Slave State under the 
Lecompton Constitution (which her people were forbidden to 
change to the detriment of Slavery for several years to come) 
was fairly beaten ; being vitally amended in the House by a 
vote of 120 to 112, after it had passed the Senate by 35 to 23. 
The Senate at first refused to concur by 34 to 22 ; whereupon 
a conference was had, and an equivocal compromise measure 
thereby devised and carried through both Houses by nearly a 
party vote. But, as this measure gave the people of Kansas 
a chance indirectly to vote upon and reject the Lecompton 
scheme, such a vote was thereupon had, and the scheme re 
jected by an overwhelming majority. Kansas thus remained 
a Territory until after the secession from Congress of most of 
the Southern Senators, early in 1861, when she was admitted 
as a Free State, with the hearty assent of three fourths of her 
inhabitants. 

Mr. Douglas s second term as Senator expired with the 
Congress in which he made his gallant and successful struggle 
against what I deemed a great and perilous wrong, a wrong 
so palpable that the eminent Senator Hammond, of South 
Carolina, who supported it at every step, afterward publicly 
declared that the Lecompton bill should at once have been 
kicked out of Congress as a fraud. It seemed to me that not 
only magnanimity, but policy, dictated to the Eepublicans of 
Illinois that they should promptly and heartily tender their 
support to Mr. Douglas, and thus insure his reelection for a 
third term with substantial unanimity. They did not concur, 
however, but received the suggestion with passionate impa 
tience. Having for a quarter of a century confronted Mr. 
Douglas as the ablest, most alert, most effective, of their ad 
versaries, they could not now be induced to regard him in a 
different light ; and, beside, their hearts were set on the elec 
tion, as his successor, of their own especial favorite and cham 
pion, Abraham Lincoln, who, though the country at large 



358 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

scarcely knew him as for a single term a Representative in 
Congress, was endeared to them by his tested efficiency as a 
canvasser and his honest worth as a man. Four years before, 
the Whig portion of them had wished to make him Senator ; 
but the far fewer anti-Nebraska Democrats held the balance 
of power, and they decisively said, " You will elect our leader, 
Lyman Trumbull, or you will not elect at all." Having given 
way then, the great body of the party had fully resolved that 
Lincoln, should be their candidate now, and that, at all events, 
Douglas should not be. So Lincoln was nominated, and ac 
cepted in a memorable speech ; and the State was canvassed 
by him and Douglas as it had never before been, they re 
peatedly speaking alternately from the same stand to gather 
ings of deeply interested and intently listening thousands. 
In the event, Mr. Douglas secured a small majority in either 
branch of the Legislature, and was reflected ; but Mr. Lincoln s 
friends claimed a considerable majority for their favorite in 
the aggregate popular vote. They did not, for a while, incline 
to forgive me for the suggestion that it would have been wiser 
and better not to have opposed Mr. Douglas s return ; but I 
still abide in that conviction. 



Mr. Douglas was the readiest man I ever knew. He was 
not a hard student ; if he had been, it would have been diffi 
cult to set limits to his power. I have seen him rise in the 
Senate quite at fault with regard to essential facts in contro 
versy, and thence make damaging blunders in debate ; but 
he readily caught at and profited by any suggestion thrown 
out by friend or foe ; and no American ever excelled him in 
off-hand discussion : so that, even if worsted in the first stages, 
he was apt to regain his lost ground as he went on. Once, 
as I sat with the senior Francis P. Blair and one or two others 
outside the bar of the Senate in 1856, he made us the text of 
an amusing dissertation on the piebald, ring-streaked, and 
speckled materials whereof the new Republican party was 
composed ; and, passing us soon afterward, he hailed me faniil- 



FREMONT. BUCHANAN. DOUGLAS. 359 

iarly with the interrogation, " Did n t I give you a good turn 
just now ? " At a later day, when the Lecompton struggle 
was in progress, a mutual friend, remembering that my stric 
tures on Mr. Douglas in former years had been of a very 
caustic sort, inquired of him whether he had any objections, 
on account of those strictures, to meeting me on a friendly 
footing. " Certainly not," was his instant response ; " I always 
pay that class of debts as I go along." Our country has often 
been called to mourn severe, untimely losses ; yet I deem 
the death of Stephen A. Douglas, just at the outbreak of our 
great Civil War, and when he had thrown his whole soul into 
the cause of the country, one of the most grievous and ir 
reparable. 

Mr. Buchanan, though born nearly a quarter of a century 
earlier, survived Mr. Douglas by fully seven years ; dying in 
1868, when he had long outlived whatever influence or con 
sideration he may once have enjoyed. Alike ambitious and 
timid, his conduct throughout the initial stage of the Kebel- 
lion is yet unaccountable on any hypothesis but that of 
secret pledges, made by him or for him, to the Southern 
leaders when he was an aspirant to the Presidency, that 
fettered and paralyzed him when they perverted the power 
enjoyed by them as members of his Cabinet to the disruption 
and overthrow of the Union. That, during those last mourn 
ful months of his nominal rule, he repeatedly said to those 
around him, " I am the last President of the United States," 
I firmly believe; that he proclaimed and argued that the 
Federal government had no constitutional right to defend its 
own existence against State secession, is matter of public 
record. Though he had spent what should have been the 
better part of a long life in working his way up to the Presi 
dential chair, I think the verdict of history must be that it 
would have been far better for his own fame, as well as better 
for the country, that he had failed to obtain it. 



XLIII. 

A RIDE ACROSS THE PLAINS. 

FEOM the hour when, late in 1848, the discovery of rich gold 
placers in California had incited a vast and eager migra 
tion thither, insuring the rapid growth of energetic and thrifty 
settlements of our countrymen on that remote and previously 
unattractive, thinly peopled coast, the construction of a great 
International Eailway from the Missouri to the Pacific seemed 
to me imperative and inevitable. I could not deem it practi 
cable to retain permanently under one government communi 
ties of many millions of intelligent, aspiring, imperious people, 
separated by fifteen hundred miles of desert, traversed by two 
great mountain-chains, beside innumerable clusters, spurs 
and isolated summits, and compelling a resort, for compara 
tively easy, cheap, and speedy transit, to a circuit of many 
thousands of miles. A Pacific Railroad was thus accepted by 
me at a very early day as a National necessity, alike in its 
political and its commercial aspects ; and, while others were 
scoffingly likening it to a tunnel under the Atlantic or a 
bridge to the moon, I was pondering the probabilities and 
means of its early construction. I resolved to make a journey 
of observation across the continent, with reference to the 
natural obstacles presented to, and facilities afforded for, its 
construction ; but no opportunity for executing this purpose 
was afforded me prior to the year 1859. I then hoped, rather 
than confidently expected, that, on publicly announcing my 
intention, some friend might offer to bear me company on this 
journey ; but my hope was not realized. One friend did pro 
pose to go ; but his wife s veto overruled his not very stubborn 



A RIDE ACROSS THE PLAINS. 361 

resolve. I started alone, on the 9th of May, and travelled rap 
idly, via Cleveland, Chicago, Quincy, and the North Missouri 
Railroad, to St. Joseph ; thence dropping down the Missouri 
to Atchison, and traversing Kansas, by Leavenworth and 
Wyandot, to Osawatomie ; thence visiting Lawrence arid re 
turning to Leavenworth, whence the "Pike s Peak" stage 
carried me, through Topeka, Manhattan, and Fort Kiley, to 
Junction City, then the western outpost of civilization in that 
quarter. 

We stopped overnight at the said city, and I visited a 
brother editor, who was printing there a little Democratic 
weekly, for which he may possibly have had two hundred 
subscribers ; but, if so, I am confident that not one half of 
them ever paid him the first cent. He was, primarily, as I 
remember, a Texan ; but, having spent two years in California, 
he gave me the most rapturous commendations of the beauties, 
glories, and delights of that region. " It is the greatest, the 
finest, the most attractive country that man ever saw," he 
concluded. " Then why are you not still in California ? " I 
inquired, glancing around his doleful little shanty. " Because 
I am a great fool," he bluntly replied. I did not see how 
profitably to protract the discussion. 



We left Junction City on a bright morning late in May, 
following a new trail, which kept within sight of the Solo 
mon s or middle fork of the Kansas River for the next two 
hundred miles. The country was, in the main, gently rolling 
prairie, covered with luxuriant young grass, and fairly glow 
ing with flowers. Antelopes, though shy, were frequently 
seen at a distance, which they rapidly increased. Streams 
running into the Solomon, across our track, were at first fre 
quent, and often skirted with trees ; but grew scarcer and 
more scanty as we proceeded. There was some variety of 
timber in the wet bottoms at first; but soon the species 
dwindled to two, Cottonwood and a low, wide-branching 
Water Elm ; at length, upon passing a wide belt of thin soil, 



362 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

covering what seemed to be a reddish sandstone, both wood 
and water almost entirely vanished, save as we descried the 
former at intervals in the bottoms of the Solomon, some miles 
to the left (southj of us. The Cayota or Prairie Wolf (a mean 
sort of stunted or foreshortened fox) was infrequently seen ; 
the bolder and quite formidable Gray Wolf more rarely ; soon, 
the underground lodges of the Prairie Dog (a condensed gray 
squirrel) covered roods of the ground we traversed, our 
newly located path lying right across several of their " towns," 
which it had not yet impelled them to desert. I refused, at 
first, to credit the plainsmen s stories that an Owl and a Rattle 
snake were habitually, if not uniformly, fellow-tenants of his 
" hole " with the Prairie Dog, though I had already seen many 
Owls sitting, as we came near, each at the mouth of a hole, 
after the Prairie Dog had barked his quick, sharp note of 
alarm at our approach, and dropped into it ; but I was finally 
compelled to succumb to testimony that could not be gain- 
sayed. The rationale of the odd partnership is this : the 
Eattlesnake wants a lodging, and cannot easily dig one in that 
compact soil ; the Prairie Dog does n t want to be dug out and 
eaten by the Cayota, as he quickly and surely would be but 
for the protection afforded by the Rattlesnake s deadly fangs. 
What the Owl (a small particolored one) makes by the asso 
ciation, I do not so clearly comprehend ; but I suspect the 
Hawk would pounce upon and devour him but for the ugly 
customer presumed to be just at hand, and ready to " mix in," 
if any outsider should venture to meddle with the Owl ; whose 
partnership duties are plainly those of a watch-dog or lookout. 



Beyond the sterile sandstone belt, we struck a wide stretch 
of almost woodless, gently rolling prairie, thickly reticulated 
by tortuous buffalo paths, with frequent skeletons and still 
more plenteous skulls, the soil being covered by a mere 
sward of the short, strong buffalo-grass ; and soon w r e came in 
sight of galloping, fleeing herds of first three and four, then 
twenty to a hundred and fifty, buffaloes, generally running 



A RIDE ACROSS THE PLAINS. 363 

southward, in their alarm at our appearance, to seek safety in 
more familiar haunts, the entire host being at this time in 
movement northward. Twenty or thirty miles farther on, 
having reached the summit of a gentle slope, we looked down 
its western counterpart to the pretty brook at its base, per 
haps five miles distant, and thence up the opposite " rise," - 
the eye taking in at a glance at least a hundred square miles 
of close-fed velvet glade, whereof nearly or quite half was 
covered by buffalo, not " as thick as they could stand," but as 
close together as they could comfortably feed. Say that 
there were but twenty (instead of fifty) square miles of buf 
faloes in sight, and that each one had four square rods of 
ground to himself, the number in sight at once was 512,000. 
And for three days we were oftener in than out of sight of 
these vast herds, and must have seen several millions of buf 
faloes. In fact, we could with difficulty avoid them, our 
driver being once obliged to stop his team, or allow it and us 
to be overwhelmed and crushed by a frightened, furious herd, 
which, having commenced its stampede southward across our 
path forty or fifty rods ahead of us, continued to follow each 
other in blind succession until we must have gone down and 
rolled over beneath their thundering charge (as an empty 
stage did a few days afterward), if we had not halted, and so 
avoided them. A day or two before, an agent of the lin, 
who was riding a horse along the track, unthinking of danger, 
was borne down by a herd started by some emigrants the 
other side of an elevation, and instantly hurled to the earth. 
Though badly hurt, he saved himself from death by firing all 
the barrels of his revolver at the great brutes careering madly 
over his prostrate form ; but his horse was instantly killed. 

Emerging from the buffalo region, the soil became visibly 
thinner, and the vegetation poorer and poorer, until the 
head sources of the Solomon having been passed we bore 
rather north of west across several tributaries to the Eepub- 
lican or main northern branch of the Kansas, which we found 
here a rapid, shallow stream, perhaps a hundred yards wide 
by one to two feet deep, rippling over a bed of coarse sand 



364 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and gravel, with a very few cottonwoods thinly dotting its 
banks at long intervals, precious little thin, coarse grass 
being occasionally discernible. A mule, bitten in the jaw by 
a rattlesnake, lying dead beside a station-tent, was one of the 
fresher features of this dreary region. A stunted cactus 
which reared its small, prickly leaves barely above the 
ground here began to be manifest. Following up the 
dwindling river, we soon came to a "sink," the entire 
stream percolating for fifteen or twenty miles hence through 
its gravelly bed far below the surface of the earth, a team 
ster, who dug through eight feet of sand and gravel in quest 
of water for his fainting beasts, being obliged to desist with 
out finding any. Most of the tributaries we crossed on the 
Kepublican were simply broad beds of coarse, loose, dry sand, 
into which our mules often sank to a depth of several inches ; 
though in Winter and Spring I presume these are consider 
able brooks. Wood here became so scarce that, to supply 
one station, it had to be carted sixteen miles. At length, we 
left the head springs of the Eepublican on our right, and 
struck, a few miles on, a northern tributary of the Arkansas, 
known as the " Big Sandy," which we ascended some twenty 
or thirty miles ; finally leaving it on our left. Its bed was 
dry, of rather coarse sand, and often covered with a white, 
alkaline efflorescence ; but, occasionally, a small stream ran 
gently aboveground, under one of its banks, where the chan 
nel had been worn exceptionally deep. 

Soon after leaving the Big Sandy, we crossed the head wa 
ters of Bijou Creek, which runs northward into the South 
Platte. "Pike s Peak," snow-crowned, had for some time 
been visible nearly west of us ; soon, we found deeper ra 
vines and steeper hills than we had seen since we left the 
Missouri, with thin clumps of Yellow or Pitch Pine, out 
posts of the Rocky Mountain forests, occasionally covering 
patches of their sides or crests : the soil being sterile, and the 
grass too scanty to nourish sweeping fires at any season. 
After a few hours of this, we descended to the valley of 
Cherry Creek, near the point where it emerges from the 



A RIDE ACROSS THE PLAINS. 365 

mountains, and, following down its east bank to its entrance 
into the South Platte, saluted, one bright morning in June, 
after a rough, chilly, all-night ride, the rising city of DENVER. 



Denver was then about six months old ; but the rival city 
of Auraria (since absorbed by it), lying just across the bed 
of Cherry Creek (which suddenly dried up at this point dur 
ing one night of my brief sojourn), had already attained an 
antiquity of nearly a year. As there was no saw-mill within 
several hundred miles, none of the edifices which composed 
these rival cities could yet boast a ground-floor; but I 
attended Divine worship the next Sunday (in Auraria) on the 
first second-story floor that was constructed in either of them. 
It may at first blush seem odd that a second-floor should pre 
cede a first ; but mother Earth supplied a first-floor that did 
very well, while nature has not yet condescended to supply 
man-made dwellings with chamber-floors. 

I suppose there were over a hundred dwellings in the two 
cities, when I reached them. I judge that they averaged 
fully ten feet square, though probably the larger number fell 
short of that standard. In material, none could boast over 
its neighbors, as all were built of cottonwood logs from the 
adjacent bank of the South Platte ; but some of these were 
rudely squared on one side, with an axe ; while others were 
left as God made them. I believe there was a variety in 
roofs also, some being constructed of "shooks," or pieces 
split with an axe from a cottonwood log, while others were of 
cottonwood bark. I seem to remember that all the chimneys 
were of sticks and mud ; but then some were without chim 
neys ; and, while several had windows (I mean one apiece) 
composed of four to six lights of seven-by-nine glass, others 
were content with the more primitive device of a rude wooden 
shutter, closed at night, and during severe, windy, driving 
storms. Most of these cabins had known as yet only male 
housekeepers ; and nearly half of them had been deserted by 
their creators and owners, some of whom were off prospecting 



366 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

for gold; while quite a number disappointed, hopeless, 
homesick had left for the States early in Spring, convinced 
that gold in the Kocky Mountains was a myth, a humbug, or 
that (in the vernacular) " Pike had n t got any peak." But 
the recent discoveries on Clear Creek had given matters a new 
and more cheerful aspect ; so that, while two thirds of those 
who started for "the diggings" that Spring never went with 
in sight of the Rocky Mountains, many of them not half 
way to them, while some barely reached Denver, and then 
took the back track, the rival cities were gaining population 
quite rapidly during the ten days that I spent in or near 
them, and some good families were among the acquisitions. 
Cabins that would gladly have been sold for $25 two months 
earlier now ran rapidly up to $100; and the market could 
fairly be quoted as active and advancing. There were as yet 
few or no servants to be hired at any price ; but a consider 
able band of Arapahoes were camped in Denver ; and, while 
the braves were thoroughly worthless, their squaws were will 
ing to do anything for food. True, they could do very little ; 
but lugging water from the South Platte was the first requi 
site in housekeeping, and this they did faithfully. We lived 
mainly on bread, bacon, beans, coffee, and nettles, the last 
being boiled for greens ; but those who were not particular as 
to dirt could often buy a quarter of antelope just brought in 
by an Arapahoe ; or, more probably, killed by the hunter and 
backed in by his squaw. Whiskey was in good supply (I 
know nothing as to the quality) at. a quarter (silver) per 
drink. There were several rude bedsteads just constructed in 
the Denver House, the grand hotel of the city, on which 
you were allowed to spread your blankets and repose for a 
dollar a night ; but mine, being bottomed with rough slats 
nearly a foot apart, almost broke my back, proving far less 
luxurious than the bosom of mother Earth. Two blacklegs 
rented opposite corners of the public room, and were steadily 
swindling greenhorns at three-card monte, from morning till 
bedtime: one stage-driver, who was paid off with $207 at 
noon, having lost the last cent of it to one of these harpies 



A RIDE ACROSS THE PLAINS. 367 

by 2 P. M. The gamblers and other rough subjects had an 
unpleasant habit of quarrelling and firing revolvers at each 
other in this bar-room when it was crowded, and sometimes 
hitting the wrong man, by which phrase I certainly do not 
indicate any of their own number. On the whole, therefore, 
I soon tired of hotel-life in Denver. It was not dull, quite 
otherwise, but I am shy by nature and meditative by habit, 
and some of the ways of the Denver House did not suit me. 
They were unmistakably Western, and I was journeying to 
study Western character; but, even though distance might 
not lend enchantment to the view of these mining-region 
blacklegs and ruffians, I am sure that they can be studied to 
better satisfaction out of pistol-shot than at close quarters. 

" Suppose you jump a cabin ? " suggested the friend to 
whom I intimated my preference for a less popular lodging. 
I did not understand ; but he explained, and I saw the point. 
Several cabins were still standing vacant, as many had been ; 
and no one knew whither their owners had gone, so whoever 
wanted one of these empty tenements just helped himself. 
I at once followed the fashion, and was happy in my choice. 
I was thenceforth lodged very eligibly till the owner of my 
cabin, returning from a prospecting tour, put in an appear 
ance. He was evidently embarrassed at the thought that his 
advent must seem abrupt and unceremonious ; but I cut short 
his apologies by insisting that the cabin afforded ample ac 
commodation for two; and we thenceforth shared it very 
comfortably for the few days that I tarried in Denver. 

While thus snugly and cheaply lodged, I boarded with a 
widow lady from Leaven worth, who had been keeping a mail- 
station on the plains, but, tiring of that, had just migrated to 
Denver, and jumped a cabin. She, with her little son, slept 
on a sort of shelf nearer the roof than the floor of her single 
room; while two male boarders, waiting outside while she 
made her toilet, spread their blankets on the earth-floor of 
her tenement. At daylight, they turned out, giving her a 
chance to dress, clear up, and get breakfast, which they duly 
returned to eat. Such was life in Denver in June, 1859. 



XLIV. 

THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. THE GREAT BASIN. 

I MADE a flying visit, directly after reaching Denver, to 
the then new " Gregory Diggings," on Clear Creek, where 
is now Central City. A good road, I hear, now winds thither 
through the mountains, mainly keeping close to Clear Creek ; 
but that was impossible in 1859 ; as even an empty wagon 
would have been capsized into or toward the creek at least 
a hundred times before making the distance. Our route lay 
across the South Platte, the prairie and Clear Creek (where 
Golden City has since sprung up), and then right up the face 
of the first ridge, rising 1,600 feet in a mile and a half, an 
ascent so steep as to appear impossible to teams, however 
lightly loaded ; and even saddle-horses seemed in great peril 
of falling off and rolling to the bottom. After two miles of 
level path through an open pine forest on the summit, we had 
to descend a declivity nearly as steep ; then ascend a second 
mountain ; and so on, till we camped at sunset, weary enough, 
seven miles short of the diggings, which we reached about 
nine next morning ; spending the day and night with the 
pioneers, and returning to the Platte Valley the day after. I 
saw enough on that trip to convince me that the Kocky 
Mountains abound in Gold and nearly all other metals, but 
that these must be earned before they can be enjoyed. 

I bade adieu to Denver about the 18th of June ; having 
hired an " ambulance," or wagon and four mules, to convey 
me to the Overland Mail-route at Fort Laramie, on the North 
Platte, 200 miles northward. I judge that there were twenty 
considerable streams to cross in that distance, all then in 



THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. THE GREAT BASIN. 369 

flood, from the melting snows of the inner and higher moun 
tains. Several of these streams were forded with difficulty 
by our team, one of them (the Cache le Poudre) being as 
large as the Charles at Cambridge. I think we saw four huts 
on the way, but only three of them were occupied. There 
was no White person then living within fifty miles of Che 
yenne, where the Pacific Kailroad now enters the Eocky 
Mountains ; and only a deserted fort or military camp spoke 
of civilization. Yet most of the region between the two 
Plattes and the base of the Kocky Mountains a district 
equal in area to Connecticut, if not to Vermont has good 
soil, is tolerably timbered, grows fine grass luxuriantly, and 
will yet subsist a large farming population. It is subject to 
drouth, but may easily be irrigated ; and then its product of 
Wheat, Oats, Barley, and Eoots will be immense. I judge 
that nearly all the larger tributaries of the Missouri traverse 
a good farming region directly under the Rocky Mountains 
wherein they take rise. This region lies from 4,500 to 6,000 
feet above tide, and hence is subject to frost, hail, and late 
snow, as well as to drouth ; yet I predict its rapid settlement 
and growth. I wish I could see how to save its Aboriginal 
inhabitants from sure and speedy extinction. 



After waiting five days at Fort Laramie, I took the mail 
stage (then weekly) which traversed the old Oregon as well 
as California emigrant trail up the Platte and its northern 
tributary, the Sweetwater, to that wide gap in the Rocky 
Mountains known as the South Pass, the Sweetwater 
heading on the west side of the mountains, and sending (in 
Summer) a scanty mill-stream through the Pass. Much of 
this region is quite sterile ; snow lay deep in a ravine of the 
Pass on the 5th of July; while there is one large swamp, 
thirty or forty miles this side, which remains frozen a foot or 
two below the surface perpetually. There are small lakes on 
this route that look most inviting, yet so surcharged with 
alkaline minerals that to drink freely of their water is death 

24 



370 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

to man or beast. There is some Yellow Pine on the hills, with 
less Cottonwood and Quaking Asp, mainly skirting, at long 
intervals, the streams ; but this region is, for the most part, 
unless rich in minerals, good for nothing. I learn that boun 
teous mines of Gold have lately been found here ; and I know 
that the indications of Gold were quite palpable on the hills 
in the Pass, where we camped and spent a day beside a run 
nel which brings its scanty tribute to the Sweetwater. But, 
a few miles beyond the South Pass, where the mountains dis 
appear, and the road to Utah and California diverges from 
the old trail to Oregon, and where each begins to descend 
toward the Pacific, the country is utterly worthless for at 
least two hundred miles ; in the midst of which we crossed 
Green River, running swiftly southward, in a very deep, nar 
row valley, which yields a little grass and less Cottonwood. 
On either side of this valley stretch dreary wastes of thirsty 
sand, shaded only by the two low shrubs/ known locally as 
Greasewood and Sagebrush, which, together, enclose a thou 
sand miles of the Overland Wagon-route, and probably cover 
half a million square miles of the interior of our continent. 
Greasewood is a species of Artemisia, and derives its vulgar 
name from a waxy or resinous property, which causes it to 
burn freely, even while green ; but it grows in bunches or 
stools six or seven feet apart, with naked, glittering sand be 
tween them ; and so defies destruction by fire. Sagebrush 
exhibits a number of shoots, twelve to twenty inches long, 
from a common stalk or stump of about equal height ; each 
shoot somewhat resembling a stalk of Sage in appearance and 
color. There is a Sage-Hen that eats this plant ; but who, 
unless famishing, would thereafter choose to eat the Sage- 
Hen ? 

Fort Bridger was the first village we had seen since we left 
Laramie ; like which, it owes its existence to a military post. 
It is traversed by a brawling mill-stream (Ham s Fork) which 
is rushing to be lost in Green River, and is said to have some 
arable land in its vicinity. We were still considerably north 
of the present route of the Pacific Railroad, which we had 



THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. THE GREAT BASIN. 371 

crossed and left near Cheyenne; but soon, crossing a high 
divide, we bore southward, and, descending rapidly, forded 
Bear River, here a swift stream one or two hundred yards 
wide, but scarcely more than two feet deep. It is unfortunate 
that the Pacific Eailroad cannot follow this river hence to 
Salt Lake ; but the course of the stream is so tortuous and so 
shut in by mountains and difficult precipices that this may 
not be. I judge that, next to the Sierra Nevada, already 
nearly vanquished, the stretch from Green River to Salt 
Lake some three hundred miles is the most difficult 
section of the entire work. But the route we traversed, 
leaving that of the railroad far on our right (north), rises 
easily out of the valley of Bear Elver, and thence follows 
down a long, narrow, grassy valley or glen known as Echo 
Canon, with steep cliffs on either side, emerges from it to 
cross Weber River (also a tributary of Salt Lake), and thence 
crosses two difficult ridges of the Wahsatch and Uintah 
mountains, whence it winds down a ravine known as Emigra 
tion Canon till that opens into the valley of the River Jordan 
and of Salt Lake ; and soon we roll into the city of the many- 
wived prophet, the capital of his sacerdotal and political 
empire, and the most conspicuous trophy of his genius and 
his power. 

That city has so changed since I saw it, being now prob 
ably at least thrice its size nine years ago, that I will 
speak of it briefly, and only as to certain permanent phases of 
its character. My present belief is that, like most strangers, 
I was more favorably impressed by it than I should have 
been. Not that its more intelligent people received me kindly 
and treated me with emphatic hospitality, I have been thus 
welcomed to other cities, which nevertheless did not specially 
impress me. But a thousand miles of parched, mountainous 
desert (counting from Denver only) on which I had seen no 
single productive farm, and nothing that could be fairly termed 
a house but a few cheap structures for officers lodgings at 
Forts Laramie and Bridger no vegetables, no furniture, no 
beds, had predisposed me to greet even the ruder appliances 



372 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

of urban life with uncritical satisfaction. Our civilization, re 
garded as an end, is faulty enough, and open to objections 
from every side ; but, considered as a stage in our progress 
from the status of the Esquimaux, the Digger, the Hottentot, 
I submit that it may be contemplated with a complacency by 
no means unreasonable. Soon after leaving the last Kansas 
settlement, I noted the rounds of the ladder I had descended 
during the preceding fortnight, and photographed them as 
follows : 

" May \2th, Chicago, Chocolate and morning journals last seen 
on the hotel breakfast- table. 

23d, Leavenworth. Room-bells and bath-tubs make their final 
appearance. 

2th, Topeka. Beef-steaks and wash-bowls (other than tin) last 
visible. Barber ditto. 

2Qth, Manhattan. Potatoes and eggs last recognized among the 
blessings that "brighten as they take their flight." Chairs ditto. 

27th, Junction City. Last visitation of a boot-black, with dis 
solving views of a board bedroom. Beds bid us good by. 

28th, Pipe Creek. Benches for seats at meals disappeared, giv 
ing place to bags and boxes. We (two passengers of a scribbling 
turn) write letters to our journals at nightfall in the express-wagon 
that has borne us by day, and must serve us as bedchamber for 
the night. Thunder and lightning, from both south and west, 
give strong promise of a shower before morning. Our trust, under 
Providence, is in buoyant hearts and a rubber blanket. Good 
night ! " 

I descended somewhat farther afterward, and I did not 
think of hardship, though the water was often scanty, as well 
as bad, and the pilot-bread had been so long exposed to the 
drying air of the Plains that human teeth could hardly pene 
trate it. Those who fancy army "hard-tack" dry eating 
would devour it thankfully, after being rationed a single week 
on that which I confronted on the Sweetwater and the Colo 
rado. But hard-tack is wholesome, if not toothsome ; while 
the bread made on the Plains, of nearly equal parts of flour 
and saleratus, baked in a frying-pan or spider, and eaten hot, 



THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. THE GREAT BASIN. 373 

though I ate it with facility, destroyed my digestion, and 
made me sick, there being nothing to relish it but poorly 
smoked pork, except tea and coffee, which I declined. With 
good water, I could stand almost anything ; but this was often 
unattainable, and I suffered for want of it. 

Salt Lake City suddenly restored us to abundance and com 
fort, rooms, beds, sheets, towels, vegetables, dried fruits, 
shade, &c. ; while the water was beautiful and good. The 
Mormons have faults ; but they are more uniformly indus 
trious and (after their fashion) pious than any other people I 
ever visited. I doubt whether there is another city on the 
continent wherein family worship is so general, and profanity 
so rare, as in Salt Lake City, so far as its Mormon inhabitants 
are considered. I must believe the authors of their revela 
tions either knavish or self-deluded ; but I have such a liking 
for solid, steady, bona fide work, that the rank and file have 
my most hearty good wishes. Nowhere else are there so few 
idlers (Brigham Young assured me that there was none but 
himself ; and he is kept busy in his vocation of prophet and 
ruler), and nowhere else have so few poor and ignorant people 
achieved so much that remains to benefit future generations, 
as in Utah. I cherish the hope that their spiritual vision 
will soon be cleared, and that they will yet, ceasing to be 
polygamists, become better Christians, retaining the habits 
of industry, frugality, and thrift, which command my hearty 
admiration. " He builded better than he knew " is a truth of 
very wide application ; and I am confident that the Pacific 
Eailroad, of which Brigham Young is grading the thirty 
miles next northeast of his metropolis, is destined to work 
changes which it is well that he does not foresee, and which 
will render his dominions more populous and his people far 
less docile to his guidance than they now are. I judge our 
age inauspicious to prophets and new revelations from on 
high ; and, though the past history of Utah seems to refute 
my theory, I confidently expect that of the next twenty years 
to confirm it. 



XLV. 

UTAH. NEVADA. 

APOBTTON of our little army, despatched from Kansas 
late in 1857 to put down a threatened (or apprehended) 
revolt of the Mormons, had stopped for the Winter at Fort 
Bridger, after its trains, following carelessly in its rear, had, not 
far from the Colorado, been surprised and burned by a Mormon 
force, rendering its Winter sojourn in that desolate region 
one of great hardship, especially for its animals ; but it finally 
marched into the Mormon settlements unopposed, the chief 
Saints protesting that they had never purposed rebellion 
against the National authority. The expedition, which had 
threatened a bloody tragedy, was thus transformed into a most 
expensive farce ; for, though the regulars were hardly more 
out of place in Utah than they had been in Kansas, they were 
a far more costly nuisance. Every pound of their sustenance 
had been hauled across twelve hundred miles of desert and 
mountain at a cost of $400 or $500 per ton, or, at any 
rate, was charged for as if it had been. And, when I visited 
Camp Floyd, where it was stationed, forty-five miles south 
west of Salt Lake City, officers w T ere engaged, under orders 
from Washington, in selling its heavy trains at auction, at 
prices possibly averaging one half the actual value of the 
mules and one tenth that of the wagons, the bidders being 
few, and evidently combined to give Uncle Sam the worst 
bargains possible. Governments are made to be plundered, 
at all events, are regularly used to that end. I presume that, 
when the army was ordered from Camp Floyd to Texas the 
next year, part of these same wagons were bought back from 



UTAH. NEVADA. 375 

their purchasers at generous prices, which by no means 
implies any generosity on the part of those who bought them 
of the government and sold them back again. 

I spent a day at Camp Floyd as the guest of my oldest 
army acquaintance, Lieutenant-Colonel D. C. Ruggles, 5th 
Infantry, whom I had first known in 1835 as a Massachusetts 
cadet, just appointed to a lieutenancy ; and who, having mar 
ried in Virginia, afterward became a General of the Southern 
Confederacy. We dined with the commander of the post, 
Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, a grave, deep, able man, 
with a head scarcely inferior to Daniel Webster s, who, less 
than two years afterward, left Texas overland to take part in 
the Rebellion, and finally found death on the bloody field of 
Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, where he led the Eebel host 
with a gallantry and soldiership worthy of a better cause. If 
some wizard had foreshadowed to us the future, as we sat 
around his hospitable board not three years before, who would 
have believed him ? 



Camp Floyd had been located beside a small but constant 
stream, with considerable stunted, bushy Cedar covering the 
low mountains adjacent, whence it issued ; but the stage-route 
thence to California rose gradually from its valley into a hilly, 
burnt-up region south westward ; and thenceforth, till we bore 
up to strike the Humboldt at Gravelly Ford, some three hun 
dred miles westward, I can remember seeing but three brooks 
of any account, neither of those carrying water enough to 
render it a decent mill-stream ; and neither, I judge, running 
more than five miles from the clustered mountains between 
which it was cradled, till the arid, thirsty plain had drank 
the last drop, and left its shallow bed thenceforth in Summer 
a stretch of dry, hot gravel and sand. We may have passed 
a dozen springs in this distance, though I believe we did not. 
In one place, there was a stretch of fifty miles from water to 
water, save that some had been carted in barrels to quench 
the thirst of our jaded mules at a point half-way from one 



376 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

station to another. Twice, as I recollect, we sat down to our 
noonday meal of pork and bread beside springs by courtesy, 
where water had been found by shallow digging in depressions 
or " sinks " below the usual surface of the plains ; but the 
warm, sulphurous fluid thence obtained required intense thirst 
to render it potable. In one place, I recollect several miles 
of the all-pervading Grease-wood and Sage-brush which had 
been killed stone-dead, dried up, apparently, though their 
power of resisting drouth is unparalleled ; yet stunted Bunch 
Cedar and some Indian Pine thinly covered the brows or the 
crests of many hills and low mountains ; seeming able to resist 
a droutli even of successive years. The country is so broken 
and mountainous that I presume Artesian wells have since 
been, or will easily be, dug in the reckless clay of the valleys, 
which will supply water, not only for drinking, but for irriga 
tion ; and the valleys need but this to render their alkaline 
clay bounteously productive. I judge that the surface of 
most of them has been raised twenty to fifty feet by earth 
washed down, in the course of ages, from the circumjacent 
mountains, and that, when irrigated, they will be cultivated 
with facility, and with ample success. The Mormons raise 
bounteous crops, especially of Wheat, wherever they can coax 
a stream to meander across and percolate through a portion 
of one of their valleys ; and I presume most of those between 
the Wahsatch and the Sierra Nevada need but water to prove 
them equally fertile. Many of the mountains, I doubt not, 
wiU prove rich in minerals ; but they are rarely or never 
arable, produce a very little grass in Spring only ; and their 
scanty, fitful covering of wood, once cut off, would not be re 
produced in a century. 

Bear in mind that the route I travelled rather skirts than 
pierces the desert of deserts which spreads southwestward of 
Salt Lake, nearly or quite to the Colorado ; covering many 
thousands of square miles. A friend, now deceased, once 
found himself " at sea " on this desert, and likely to perish of 
thirst ; but he had a noble horse, to which he gave a free rein ; 
and that horse brought -him off alive, that was all. He 



UTAH. NEVADA. 377 

crossed miles on miles of pure rock salt, how deep, he could 
not say; but he brought away a fragment which had been 
washed and worn into a nearly round log. as large as a man s 
thigh, and three or four feet long, which I saw. Another 
friend, who explored a route from Austin, Nevada, to the 
Colorado (on the western verge of this desert), rode, for days, 
down the bed of what had once been a considerable river, but 
which seemed to have been absolutely dry for years. 

There is ample corroborating proof that the Great Basin 
has been far less parched than it is ; and I trust that a more 
generous rain-fall will again be accorded it. Probably, re- 
clothing it with timber would renew its rains ; but then the 
rains seem to be needed to start and sustain the timber. 
Two or three hundred miles north, several streams take rise 
that make their way northward to the Columbia ; as the 
Humboldt, issuing from the west side of the same mountainous 
region, runs over three hundred miles W.S.W., to be lost in 
a sandy, reedy marsh, not a hundred miles from the Sierra 
Nevada; but, southward of this strange river of desolation, 
there is rarely a stream large enough to turn a grindstone, 
till you are very near the banks of the almost equally lone 
some Colorado. 

I rode more than two hundred miles down the south or 
left bank of the Humboldt. In that distance, I judge that 
all the water it receives from tributaries might be passed 
through a nine-inch ring ; and the stream, of course, grew 
smaller and smaller as it flowed. Possibly, three springs were 
passed in all that distance, though I cannot remember so 
many ; while I do right well remember my scarcely modi 
fied thirst. The alkaline water of the Humboldt I could not 
drink, though others did; in Spring, when its volume is 
greater, its quality is probably better. Once, we stopped by a 
small brook tumbling down from high adjacent mountains on 
the left, and I drank my fill of its warm, sweet water ; but 
for this, I must have remained thirsty throughout. And, in 
all the two hundred miles, I believe I did not see wood 
enough to keep a Yankee farmer s fire going through a Winter. 



378 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Willow-bushes, skirting the little river, were nearly all. 
Even the mountain ranges, from one to five miles distant on 
either side, showed no timber, or next to none. And, when 
we came at length to that expansion of the stream which is 
called a lake, no raft, boat, or even canoe, floated on its bosom 
or was moored to either bank, and a cottage built of stones 
and clay constituted the mail-station at its foot. Thence, we 
crossed a waste of sand forty miles wide, which separates the 
" sink " of the Humboldt from the kindred marsh that drinks 
up the waters of the Carson, which comes down from the 
Sierra ; and, following up the latter, by what is now Virginia 
City, but then was nothing, we stopped to eat at Genoa, - 
then the only considerable village in what has since become 
Nevada, and rested our weary limbs at dark, after a night- 
and-day ride of four hundred miles (five days and four nights 
from Shell Creek in Western Utah), in a wooden hotel, at the 
very foot of the Sierra Nevada. 

There was then no Austin, and no real mining in what is 
now Nevada. The auriferous and argentiferous deposit or 
vein now known as the Comstock lode had just been dis 
covered, that was about all. The natural grass of the upper 
end of Carson Valley had previously attracted a few settlers, 
who were weary of mining in California, or worn out with 
travel across the desert and reluctant to scale the Sierra; 
and, though the valley must be fully six thousand feet above 
the sea, and must inevitably be frosty, its beauty and verdure 
fully justify their partiality. I estimate that three hundred 
habitations, mainly log, are quite as many as existed in the 
entire region which is now the State of Nevada, that its civ 
ilized population did not exceed five thousand, and that its 
aggregate product was barely adequate to the subsistence even 
of this number. To-day, Nevada produces more silver, and 
little less gold, than any other State or Territory; and the 
next census will give her a population of at least two hun 
dred thousand. 



XLVI. 

THE SIERRA NEVADA. THE YOSEMITE. THE BIG- 
TREES. 

ACLEAE, warm, golden 1st of August such a day as 
the Pacific slope of our continent abounds in took us 
across the Sierra Nevada by the double-summit route that fol 
lows up one branch of the Carson to its source, then descends 
rapidly into the valley of Lake Bigler, thence climbs diago 
nally the mountain west of it by a steep ascent of two miles, 
crosses its summit, and descends again, following a depression 
in which springs give birth to rills, which speedily collect into 
a brook, which goes brawling and leaping down the western 
declivity of the Sierra, and has become quite a little river 
(South Fork of the American) at a point twenty or thirty 
miles down, where we crossed its valley from the northern 
to the southern bank, and, rising thence to the summit of a 
ridge or " divide " on the south, ran rapidly down it to the 
thriving city of Placerville, at the base of the range, in Cali 
fornia s great central valley of the Sacramento. 

The Sierra Nevada is probably more heavily timbered than 
any other range of mountains on the continent. On the Ne 
vada side, this timber is of moderate size, and almost wholly 
of Yellow or Pitch Pine, with a few deciduous trees in the 
narrow ravines of the streams ; while, on the far longer slope 
that looks toward the Pacific, immense Yellow and Sugar 
Pines, often eight feet through, thickly cover thousands of 
square miles, interspersed with White Cedars from four to six 
feet in diameter, stately Balsam Firs, a considerable variety 
of White, Eed, Live, and Rock Oaks, with a few other trees. 
Such a wealth of magnificent timber profoundly impresses the 



380 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

traveller, who has seen nothing like it since he left the 
eastern slope of the Eocky Mountains, and a plentiful lack of 
trees everywhere else since he bade adieu to the Kansas, now 
so many hundred miles away. The valleys and lower slopes 
of California are often quite bare, though wide-branching 
Oaks are thinly scattered over a portion of the latter ; and I 
saw here what I never saw elsewhere living trees (Buck 
eye) six to eight inches through, with every leaf killed by 
drouth on the 1st of August, so that they would exhibit no 
sign of verdure again till after the heavy rains of the ensuing 
Winter. The dryness of earth and atmosphere on the Pacific 
slope in Summer and Autumn can only be realized by those 
who have experienced it. I saw the Mormon farmers cutting 
heavy grass by the margin of Salt Lake ; but they found no 
process of hay-making necessary. Though its color was still 
a bright green, they raked it up unspread, and stacked it 
without ceremony, knowing that the atmosphere would mean 
time have sucked every atom of superfluous moisture out of 
the greenest of it. I presume this is the case, southward of 
Oregon, nearly or quite to the Isthmus of Darien. 

My visit to the chief wonders of California the Yosemite 
and the Big Trees was necessarily hurried, but otherwise 
satisfactory. The sky was cloudless, as that of California al 
most uniformly is from May till October; the days were 
warm, but not excessively so; the journey was made on 
horseback, and in good part under the shade of giant ever 
greens. There were hundreds of acres covered almost exclu 
sively by the Balsam Fir, sixty to eighty feet high, and one 
to two feet in diameter, growing at an elevation of fully 5,000 
feet above tide, where the snows of Winter are so heavy and 
so many that the limbs of the Fir are depressed at their ex 
tremities, so as to form a series of umbrellas (as it were) rising 
one above another. Two high, steep mountains one on 
either side of the South Merced are surmounted by what, 
in 1859, were difficult bridle-paths, ere you strike at " Grizzly 
Flat," the source of a little runnel which meanders through 
an upland meadow or grassy morass to the brink of the great 
chasm, into which it pours itself by a fall of some 2,500 feet, 



THE SIERRA NEVADA. THE YOSEMITE. 381 

which dissolves it into a white foam, whence it is afflicted 
with the lackadaisical appellation of " The Bridal Veil." The 
fall is not to blame for this, but some of its early visitors are. 

The Yosemite is the grandest marvel of the continent. It 
is a rift or cleft in the Sierra Nevada, ten miles long, averag 
ing half a mile wide at the bottom, and perhaps a mile at the 
top ; its depth ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 feet, though one or 
two of the peaks on the north are said to rise 5,000 feet above 
the surface of the Merced. There are three points at which 
access is had to the valley, one of them by clambering down 
the rocks near its head ; the other two by zigzagging down 
either brink near its lower end. These are bridle-paths ; the 
other, a foot-path only. That on the side of Mariposa is two 
miles long ; and we were two good hours in winding down it 
through woods, with the moon s rays obscured to us by the 
interposition of the mountain whose north face we were de 
scending. It was midnight when we reached its foot, and 
halted in the narrow, grassy valley of the stream, right in 
front of a perpendicular wall of gray granite 3,000 feet high, 
with a few Yellow Pines rooted in the crevices which at long 
intervals creased it, and seeming, with the mountain itself, 
about to be precipitated upon us. 

Nothing else dwells in my memory that is at all comparable 
in awe-inspiring grandeur and sublimity to this wondrous 
chasm. I judge that the soft granite frequently found in 
streaks or belts by the miners of California granite in 
chemical composition, but of the consistency of a rather solid 
boiled pudding here existed on a much larger scale, until 
the little river (in Summer, a large mill-stream only) gradually 
dug it out, and bore it away, till the last of it had disappeared. 
I was told in the valley that repeated efforts of miners to dig 
down to the " bed-rock," in quest of mineral, had proved fail 
ures, the sand and gravel, interspersed with bowlders, ap 
pearing unfathomable. The little streams from either brink 
which, at several points, leap into the valley, have, by the 
aid of frost and freshet, hurled millions of tons of rock and 
earth into the chasm, forming gigantic deposits of dttbris, over 
which the road up the valley carries you, generally through 



382 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

woods, affording difficult footing for men or animals, especially 
by night. Fording brooks, stumbling over rocks, winding 
among trees, it seemed to me that the six miles from the 
point where we entered the Valley to the two cottages or huts 
near its centre would never end ; but they did end at last, 
about 2 A. M. ; and I dismounted, and lay down to a welcome, 
though unquiet, slumber. I was covered with boils (the pen 
alty of drinking the alkaline waters of Colorado, Utah, and 
Nevada), and had ridden in torture since noon, bearing my 
weight on my toes, barely stuck into Mexican stirrups far too 
small for me, whereby my feet had been so lamed that I could 
scarcely walk ; hence, the prospect of soon rising to resume 
my travels was by no means alluring. I did rise, however ; 
took breakfast; rode to the head of the Valley; examined 
with some care the famous fall ; dined ; and, at 2 P. M., started 
homeward ; reaching Clark s ranche, on the South Merced, 
at 10 P. M. 

Let me explain that the Yosemite fall is not that of the 
Merced, which enters the valley, at its head, by several suc 
cessive leaps in a wild, rocky gorge or canon, and leaves it by 
one even more impracticable, giant blocks of granite being 
piled for hundreds of feet above the surface of the boiling 
current, and completely hiding it from view. The Yosemite 
is a side-stream or tributary, coming from the north or higher 
mountains, and, having itself worn down its bed to a depth of 
a thousand feet, leaps thence 2,600 feet into the chasm, 
making a single plunge of 1,600 feet. When I saw it, there 
was barely water in the Yosemite to turn the wheels of an 
average grist-mill ; but in Winter and Spring there is proba 
bly twenty to forty times as much. The spectacle is rather 
pleasing than sublime, the Mississippi, when in highest 
flood, having scarcely sufficient volume to save such a descent 
from seeming disproportioned and trivial. 

Of Big Trees, there are two principal groups in California, 
the Calaveras and the Mariposas. The former is more widely 
known, because quite accessible ; and it boasts two or three 
of the largest trees ; but it has barely 250 in all, while the 



THE YOSEMITE. THE BIG TREES. 383 

Mariposas has 600. They stand in a shallow valley or de 
pression on the mountains, some 5,000 feet above the sea 
level, and 2,500 above the South Merced at Clark s, five miles 
distant. 

That which was clearly largest fell several years ago, bury 
ing itself in the stony earth to a depth of four feet, and ex 
hibiting a length of nearly or quite 400 feet. Formerly, two 
horses were ridden abreast for some 200 feet through the 
cavity, which successive fires had enlarged in it. It is still 
easy thus to ride through it, but the hollow has been burned 
out, so that it is now much shorter. Several of the trees still 
standing and alive are said to be over 100 feet in circumfer 
ence ; many are 80 to 90 feet, with a bark at least eighteen 
inches thick, a very little sap (white) under it, the residue 
of the enormous bulk being a light, dry, reddish heart, which 
burns easily, eVen while the tree is green, but is scarcely 
prone to natural decay. Several of these giants rise a full 
hundred feet before putting forth a limb ; none have many 
branches, but some of these are six feet through. They are 
a species of Cedar, identical with the Cedars of Lebanon, 
our guide asserted ; but I presume he only guessed so. Their 
foliage is scarcely, if at all, larger than that of the Yellow 
Pines and White Cedars growing among or near them ; many 
of these being six to eight feet in diameter near the earth. 

Within the next two years, the Central Pacific Railroad 
will have been completed, when passengers will leave New 
York on Monday morning, and dine in San Francisco the 
sixth evening thereafter. Then the trip, which I found te 
dious and rugged, will be rapid and easy, with every needed 
comfort and luxury proffered on arid stretches of desert, 
where I washed down the Mail Company s ancient pork and 
hot saleratus bread with more unwholesome and detesta 
ble warm alkaline water than (I trust) I shall ever be con 
strained to swallow hereafter. I hope to be one of the party 
who make the first excursion through trip to San Francisco, 
there to rejoice with my countrymen in the completion of the 
grandest and most beneficent enterprise ever inaugurated and 
perfected by man. 



XLVII. 

THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA. 

ILINGEK yet by the shores of the vast Pacific ; for I feel 
that the general mind is still inadequately impressed with 
the majestic promise that impels the resistless tendency of 
our Gothic race toward the sands of that mighty sea. I do 
grievously err, if the historian of a future century does not 
instance the discovery of the Columbia by a Yankee, and the 
finding of Gold in Upper California so soon after that country 
had fallen into our hands, as among the most memorable and 
fortunate incidents in the annals of our continent, and hence 
of mankind. 

On Gold per se, I place no high estimate. If all the science 
and labor which have been devoted by our people to the dis 
covery and extraction of the Precious Metals had been as 
faithfully applied to the production of Iron, Coal, Copper, 
Lead, Tin, Salt, Gypsum, Marble, Slate, &c., I believe our 
country would have been richer and our people wiser and 
happier. Even if we could regard the abundant possession 
of Gold and Silver as a chief good, it is plain that the coun 
tries which produce are not those which most amply retain 
and enjoy them. 

But mines or deposits of Gold and Silver are prominent 
among the means whereby attention and population are 
drawn to a region previously unpeopled, or thinly peopled by 
savages. Men rush madly and in thousands to a district re 
ported auriferous ; defying famine, heat, cold, pestilence, and 
even death itself. Mining or washing for Gold combines the 
fascinations of gambling the chance of sudden riches 



THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA. 385 

with the sober incitements of regular and laudable industry : 
hence, it always did, and always will, allure vast numbers to 
brave peril and privation in its behoof. In time, the bubble 
bursts ; the glamour is dispelled ; but thousands have mean 
time found new homes and formed new habits ; hence, a new 
civilized community. 

I judge that gold-mining in California is nearly " played 
out." True, there are many good veins there which will con 
tinue to be worked at a profit for hundreds of years yet, 
during which many more and some better will doubtless be 
discovered and opened ; but this is sober business, requiring 
capital, science, luck, patience, to insure success ; while the 
jovial, free-handed heroes of pick and pan have passed away 
forever, some to Nevada ; some to Arizona ; others to 
Montana, Idaho, &c., &c., many to the land of shadows, 
and the river-beds and "gulches" that knew them shall 
know them no more. California still exports Gold largely ; 
but most of it is produced in Nevada, Montana, British Co 
lumbia, &c., &c. She for years produced Fifty Millions per 
annum ; she has fallen off at least half ; she is likely soon to 
fall still lower. I presume the child is born who will live to 
see her annual product fall below Ten Millions. 

Yet her natural wealth will still be great, being varied, 
vast, and indestructible. I group it under these heads : 

I. Soil. Of her ninety millions of acres, I should deem 
not over twenty millions decidedly arable ; but these are, for 
the most part, exceedingly fertile. I judge that her great 
valleys were once arms of the sea, since gradually filled up 
by the continual abrasion and wearing away of the slopes of 
her omnipresent mountains. Many of them have now from 
100 to at least 1,000 feet in depth of warm, mellow soil, a 
marine deposit of sand, clay, and vegetable mould, in nearly 
equal proportions, wherein the plough very rarely disturbs a 
stone. I never saw land better calculated to produce large 
crops, year after year, with a moderate outlay of labor. The 
absence of rain in Summer and early Autumn keeps down 
weeds ; while the unclouded, fervid sun hastens growth and 

25 



386 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

insures perfection. I am confident that Cotton, and even 
Cane, might be grown to profit throughout the southern half 
of the State, in which the Fig, the Olive, and the Apricot 
grow luxuriantly and ripen unfailingly. 

II. Water. Though I saw large fields of heavy Indian 
Corn which grew and ripened without receiving a drop of 
rain, I nevertheless realize and admit that water is a desirable 
facility to vegetable growth and maturity. And, as cultiva 
tion is here mostly confined to valleys and the lower slopes 
of mountains, water is abundantly procurable. Artesian wells 
are easily dug ; their flow is apt to be generous, as well as 
constant ; and a small stream, well managed, amply irrigates 
a very large field. Trees and vines root deep in that rich, 
facile mould ; the grape needs a very little water for two 
years, and none thereafter ; while its culture requires but half 
the work needed here or in Europe, because our frequent rains 
evoke innumerable weeds. I estimate that a ton of Grapes 
may be produced in California with half the labor required 
to grow them in Italy; and that Silk, most semi-tropical 
Fruits, and I trust Tea, also, may be produced with equal 
facility. Wheat and other small grains yield largely and 
surely. I saw thousands of acres that had been two months 
cut and shocked, yet still awaited the coming of the circulat 
ing thresher; other fields were yet uncut (September 1), 
though long so "dead-ripe that a large portion of the grain 
must be shelled out and lost in the field, even under the most 
careful handling. I saw fifty acres of choice tree-fruits 
mainly Peaches and Apples in a single patch ; the Peaches 
rotting by hundreds of bushels, because they could not be 
gathered and marketed so fast as they ripened. I saw vast 
tracts of good Mustard, self-sown and growing wild from year 
to year, though apparently as good an article as ever ripened. 
The intense drouth of her long, cloudless, dewless Summer 
produces cracks and fissures in the earth, into which grains 
and other seeds drop when dead-ripe ; rains come and close 
the fissures in November and later; the self-sown seed 
germinates, and produces a " volunteer " crop, a full one of 



THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA. 387 

Mustard, but a half crop of Wheat, &c. I saw, at the Mission 
of San Jose, giant pear-trees, planted some scores of years 
ago by the Jesuits, and producing largely, but of indifferent 
fruit, till a Yankee acquired and grafted them, when he sold 
in San Francisco their product, the next year but one, so as 
to net him $ 100 from each tree. I look forward to a day 
when this country s supply of Kaw Silk, as well as of Eaisins 
and other dried fruits, will reach us from our own Pacific 
coast. 

The rains-of California are ample, but confined to Winter 
and Spring. In time, her streams will be largely retained in 
her mountains by dams and reservoirs, and, instead of descend 
ing in floods to overwhelm and devastate, will be gradually 
drawn away throughout the Summer to irrigate and refresh. 
For a while, water will be applied too profusely, and injury 
thus be done; but experience will correct this error; and 
then California s valleys and lower slopes will produce more 
food to nourish and fruit to solace the heart of man than any 
other Twenty Millions of acres on earth. 

III. Timber. Most of her highlands are valuable for tim 
ber and pasturage only. There are more tons of valuable 
timber in the Sierra Nevada than in our whole country east 
of the Eocky Mountains, and southward of the latitude of 
Chicago. - Eailroads will yet render much of it commercially 
available, and incite its diffusion to every country and island 
washed by the great ocean. Its value will be found to sur 
pass that of all the minerals covered by it, or ever exposed to 
the avaricious gaze of man. 

The Pacific Railroads for there must soon be three dis 
tinct lines, and in time at least three more will be to Cali 
fornia what the Erie Canal is to New York, the Mississippi to 
the great valley. It is barely possible to over-estimate their 
importance and value. While they render New York that 
focus of the world s commerce which London has so long 
been, they must build up, on our Pacific coast, a traffic with 
China, Japan, Australia, such as Tyre or Carthage never con 
ceived. California has hitherto seemed, even to her own 



388 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

people, on one side of the earth ; they have too generally felt 
as strangers and sojourners, and talked of " going home," - 
that is, to the Atlantic slope ; but the Pacific Railroads, bring 
ing them within a week s journey of New England, and plac 
ing them in daily mail communication with the friends of 
their childhood, will make thousands contented with their 
lot, and, after a good visit to the old, familiar firesides, they 
will return, contented to end their days on the Pacific slope, 
and will draw their younger brothers and icousins after them. 
I predict that California will have Three Millions of people 
in 1900, and Oregon at least One Million. 

I close with a mere glance at San Francisco ; because her 
age has nearly doubled since I saw her, and her population, 
wealth, and business, as well. At the mouth of the only con 
siderable river that enters the Pacific from our continent, 
the Columbia and the Youkon excepted, with a fair en 
trance, and an ample, safe harbor, I judge that the Pacific 
Eailroad fixes and assures her destiny as the second city of 
America, the emporium wherein the farthest East will ex 
change its products with the remotest West. I dislike her 
chilly August fogs and winds, her blowing, drifting sands ; I 
might wish her relieved of the giant sand-bank which cen 
turies have piled up between her and the Pacific ; but then 
her Western gales would be fiercer and sharper than now ; so 
it is best to leave her as she is. Since twenty years have 
raised her from a naked beach to a city of 100,000 souls, who 
can doubt that eighty more will see these swelled to, at least, 
One Million ? May Intelligence and Virtue keep even step 
with her material progress ! may the great-grandchildren of 
her adventurous pioneers rejoice in the knowledge that her 
stormy, irregular youth has given place to a sober, respected, 
beneficent maturity ! may her influence on the side of Free 
dom, Knowledge, Righteousness, be evermore greatly felt and 
greatly blest throughout the awaking, wondering, plastic 
Western world ! 



XLVIII. 

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860. 

THE events of 1858-59, with certain demonstrations 
against Senator Douglas and his doctrine of " Squatter 
Sovereignty," by nearly all his Democratic brethren in the 
Senate, early in the session of 1859-60, plainly portended a 
disruption of the dominant party ; creating a strong probability 
that the Kepublicans might choose the next President. I 
had already, for months, contemplated that contingency, and 
endeavored to fix on the proper candidate for President, in 
view of its probable occurrence. 

My choice was Edward Bates, of St. Louis. He had been 
sole Eepresentative of Missouri in Congress fully thirty years 
before, when he had heartily supported the administration of 
John Quinoy Adams. He had since been mainly in retire 
ment, save that he had presided with eminent ability over 
the Eiver and Harbor Convention held at Chicago in 1847, 
and had held a local judgeship. Born in Virginia, a life-long 
slaveholder, in politics a Whig, he was thoroughly conserva 
tive, and so held fast to the doctrine of our Eevolutionary 
sages, that Slavery was an evil to be restricted, not a good to 
be diffused. This conviction made him essentially a Eepub- 
lican; while I believed that he could poll votes in every 
Slave State, and, if elected, rally all that was left of the Whig 
party therein to resist Secession and Eebellion. If not the 
only Eepublican whose election would not suffice as a pretext 
for civil war, he seemed to me that one most likely to repress 
the threatened insurrection, or, at the worst, to crush it. I 
did not hesitate to avow my preference, though I may have 
withheld some of my reasons for it. 



390 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Many Eepublicans dissented from it most decidedly ; one 
of them said to me, " Let us have a candidate, this time, that 
represents our most advanced convictions." 

" My friend," I inquired, " suppose each Eepublican voter 
in our State were to receive, to-morrow, a letter, advising him 
that he (the said voter) had just lost his brother, for some 
years settled in the South, who had left him a plantation and 
half a dozen slaves, how many of the two hundred and fifty 
thousand would, in response, declare and set those slaves 
free ? " "I don t think I could stand that test myself ! " was 
his prompt rejoinder. " Then," I resumed, " it is not yet 
time to nominate as you propose." 

The Eepublican National Convention was called to meet at 
Chicago, May 16, 1860, and I attended it, having been re 
quested by the Eepublicans of Oregon to act as one of their 
delegates therein. Governor Seward was the most prominent 
candidate for the Presidential nomination, warmly backed by 
the delegations from New York, Michigan, and several other 
States, including most of those from Massachusetts. I was 
somewhat surprised to meet there quite a number who, in 
conversations with me and others, had unhesitatingly pro 
nounced his nomination unadvisable, and likely to prove dis 
astrous, now on hand to urge it. I strongly felt that they 
had been right before, and were wrong now ; and I did what 
I could to counteract their efforts ; visiting, to this end, and 
briefly addressing, the delegations from several States. I did 
much less than w^as popularly supposed ; being kept busy for 
ten or twelve of the most critical hours just preceding the 
ballotings in the committee of one delegate from each State 
represented that framed and reported the platform. An effort 
to concentrate, prior to the balloting, all the anti-Seward votes 
on one candidate, proved unsuccessful; and the probability 
of Seward s success seemed thereafter so decided, that one of 
his leading supporters urged me, just before we began to bal 
lot, to name the man whose nomination-JbiLYice-President 
would be most effective in reconciling those with__whom I 
acted to the supporToT Goveruor Seward. I advised, through 



THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860. 391 

him, the Seward men to make the whole ticket satisfactory to 
themselves. We soon proceeded to vote for a candidate for 
President, with the following result : 

1st ballot. 2d ballot. Sd ballot. 

William H. Seward, of New York, . . . . 173 184^ 180 

Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, 102 181 

Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, 50 

Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, 49 42 

Edward Bates, of Missouri, 48 35 

William L. Day ton, of New Jersey, .... 14 10 

John McLean, of Ohio, 12 8 

Jacob Collamer, of Vermont, 10 



Mr. Lincoln having very nearly votes enough to nominate 
him on the third ballot, others were rapidly transferred to 
him, until he had 354 out of 466 in all, and his nomination 
was declared. On motion of William M. Evarts, on the part 
of New York, seconded by John A. Andrew on behalf of 
Massachusetts, the nomination was then made unanimous. 
On the first ballot for Vice-President, Hannibal Hamlin, of 
Maine, received 194 votes, which the next ballot swelled to 
367 against 99, when he, too, was unanimously nominated ; 
and the Convention adjourned with nine hearty cheers for 
the ticket. 

The " Constitutional Union " (late " American " ) party, met 
by delegates three days later in Baltimore, declared its plat 
form to be " the Constitution of the country, the Union of 
the States, and the enforcement of the Laws," and nominated 
thereon John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward 
Everett, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President. 

The Democratic National Convention* had met" onginilly 
at Charleston, South Carolina ; had quarrelled over a platform 
for a week oY more ; and had finally been disrupted^ the 
withdrawal of a majority of the delegates from Slave States, 
because of the adoption (by a vote of 165 to ,138) of a plat 
form which was held to favor, or at least not explicitly to 
condemn, Senator Douglas s " Squatter-Sovereignty " dogma. 

* April 23. 



392 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

After taking 57 ballots for President, whereon Mr. Douglas 
had a decided majority of all the votes cast on every ballot, 
and a majority of a full Convention, that body, by a vote of 
195 to 55, adjourned* to reassemble at Baltimore, June 18; 
at which time (the places of most of the seceders having 
meantime been filled) Mr. Douglas received on the first ballot 
173 1, and on the second 181 J votes, which was less than 
two-thirds of a full Convention (303). He was thereupon, 
on motion of Sanford E. Church, of New York, declared the 
nominee. 

Hon. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, was unanimously 
nominated for Vice-President ; but he declined, and Hon. 
Herschel V. Johnson, of Georgia, was put up in his stead. 

The bolters at Charleston met in Baltimore on the llth 
of June, but adjourned to the 25th ; at which time, Hon. John 
C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky (then Vice-President), was 
unanimously nominated for President, with General Joseph 
Lane, of Oregon, for Vice-President. 

The quadrangular contest thus inaugurated has had no 
parallel but a very imperfect one in 1824. It seems clear 
that the bolting Democratic ticket was intended to render 
the success of the Piepublicans inevitable ; and the probability 
of that success was openly exulted over in 4th of July toasts 
at various celebrations in South Carolina, where no other can 
didate than Breckinridge had even a nominal support. Yet 
in New York the supporters of Douglas, of Bell, and of Breck 
inridge united on a common ticket, which was defeated, but 
only after a most determined canvass. In other States, the 
" fusion " was incomplete or non-existent, rendering Mr. Lin 
coln s success a foregone conclusion. Mr. Douglas, alone 
among the Presidential candidates, took the stump, and spoke 
with vigor and energy in several States, but to little purpose. 
The popular vote in the Free States was mainly divided 
between Lincoln and Douglas ; in the Slave States, between 
Breckinridge and Bell : the totals in either section being, as 
nearly as they can be apportioned, as follows : 

* May 3. 



TEE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860. 393 

Lincoln. Douglas. Breckinridge. BeU. 

Free States, 1,831,180 1,128,049 279,211 130,151 

Slave States, 26,430 163,525 570,871 515,973 

Total, . . . 1,857,610 1,291,574 850,082 646,124 

Mr. Lincoln had 180 electoral votes to 123 for all others ; 
he having the full vote of all the Free States but New Jersey, 
which gave him 4. Mr. Douglas had barely 3 in New Jer 
sey, with the 9 of Missouri, 12 in all, while Breckinridge, 
with a much smaller popular vote, had 72 electors; barely 
missing those of Virginia, also Kentucky and Tennessee, 
making 39 in all. 

Mr. Lincoln s popular and electoral vote were each a 
little larger than those of Mr. Buchanan in 1856 ; but, prac 
tically, the one result had strong points of resemblance to the 
other. In the former, a united South triumphed over a 
divided North ; in the latter, a United North succeeded over 
a divided South. But the division affected only the Presi 
dency; the anti-Eepublicans still held the Supreme Court, 
with the Senate, and were morally certain of a large majority 
also in the new House of Eepresentatives, whereof two thirds 
of the members were chosen with or before the Presidential 
Electors. 

Thus stood the country on the day after that which re 
corded the popular verdict for Lincoln and Hamlin. 

It is true that the moral weight of that verdict was dimin 
ished by the consideration that it was pronounced by barely 
two fifths of the legal voters. Antagonist on other points as 
the defeated factions were, it was notorious that they were a 
unit in opposition to the cardinal Republican principle of No 
Extension of Slavery, which, by acting in concert, they could 
at any time arrest and defeat. Yet the election of Lincoln, 
by placing the Executive patronage of the Government in the 
hands of a Republican, had done much toward the develop 
ment throughout the South of that latent anti-Slavery senti 
ment which her aristocracy abhorred and dreaded. In that 
election, therefore, many slaveholders saw foreshadowed the 
doom of their cherished "institution." 



XLIX. 

SECESSION, HOW CONFRONTED. 

THE popular vote * in each State for Presidential Electors 
having rendered inevitable the success of Lincoln and 
Hamlin, the result immediately ascertained and dissemi 
nated by means of the telegraph was nowhere received with 
more general expressions of satisfaction than in South Caro 
lina, whose ruling caste had, months before, but especially on 
the preceding 4th of July, indicated their wish and hope that 
the election would have this issue. Indeed, we Eepublicans 
had been fully aware, throughout the canvass, that the divis 
ion of the Democratic party effected at the Charleston Con 
vention was designed to assure our success, not as an end, 
but as a means, and that those who supported Breckinridge, 
while they would have regarded his election with compla 
cency, were quite as well satisfied with that of Lincoln. Much 
as they disliked nay, detested the "Black Eepublicans," 
they regarded Senator Douglas and his "Squatter Sover 
eignty " with an intenser aversion, and were bent on their 
absolute discomfiture at all hazards. 

All revolutionary movements derive their momentum from 
diverse sources, and are impelled by very different agencies. 
Of the four and a half millions of voters for President in 
1860, it is quite safe to say that all who desired Disunion 
were included within the 850,000 f who voted for Breckin- 

* November 6, 1860. 

t As South Carolina then chose her electors by her Legislature, her people 
do not count in this aggregate, which they would probably have swelled to 
about 900,000. 



SECESSION. HO W CONFRONTED. 395 

ridge ; "but even this fraction should, in justice, be divided 
into classes, as follows : 

I. The Disunionists, pure and simple, who, believing Slavery 
the only natural and stable basis of social order, and noting 
the steady advance of the Free States in relative wealth, 
population, and power, deemed the Secession and Confedera 
tion of the Slaveholding States the only course consistent 
with their interests or their safety. I doubt whether this 
class numbered half a million of the fifteen hundred thousand 
legal voters residing in the Slave States, while it could count 
no open adherents in the Free States. 

II. Those who, while they perceived neither safety nor 
sense in Secession, did not choose to be stigmatized as Abo 
litionists nor hooted as cowards, but preferred the remote, con 
tingent perils even of civil war to the imminent certainty of 
persecution and social outlawry, if they should be pointed out 
as lacking the courage or the will to risk all, dare all, in de 
fence of " Southern rights." 

III. Those who, while at heart hostile to Disunion, deem 
ing it no remedy for existing ills, while it opened a new vista 
of untold, awful calamities, yet regarded the menace of 
Secession with complacency, as certain to frighten "the 
North " into any and every required concession and retraction 
to avert the threatened disruption. 

It was this third class I judge more numerous than, 
while superior in wealth and social consideration to, the first 
and second combined that I deemed it our first duty to 
resist and baffle. 

I had for forty years been listening, with steadily diminish 
ing patience, to Southern threats of Disunion. Whatever an 
awakened conscience, or an enlightened apprehension of Na 
tional interest, commended to a majority of the North as just 
and politic, was if not equally acceptable at the South 
apt to be met by the bravado, " Do what you propose, and 
we will dissolve the Union ! " I had become weary of this, 
and desirous of ending it. In my cherished conception, the 
Union was no boon conferred on the North by the South, but 



396 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

a voluntary partnership, at least as advantageous to the latter 
as to the former. I desired that the South should be made 
to comprehend and respect this truth. I wished her to realize 
that the North could do without the South quite as well as 
the South could do without the North. 

For the first breath of Disunion from the South fanned into 
vigorous life the old spirit of compromise and cringing at the 
North. " What will you do to save the Union ? " was asked 
of us Kepublicans, as if we had committed some enormity in 
voting for and electing Lincoln, which we must now atone by 
proffering concessions and disclaimers to the justly alarmed 
and irritated South. 

At once, the attitude of the North became alarmed, depre 
catory, self-abasing. Every local election held during the two 
months succeeding our National triumph showed great " Con 
servative " gains. Conspicuous Abolitionists were denied the 
use of public halls, or hooted down if they attempted to speak. 
Influential citizens, through meetings and letters, denounced 
the madness of " fanaticism," and implored the South to stay 
her avenging arm until the North could have time to purge 
herself from complicity with " fanatics," and demonstrate her 
fraternal sympathy with her Southern sister, that is, attest 
her unshaken loyalty to the Slave Power. An eminent 
Southern Conservative (John J. Crittenden) having proposed, 
as a new Union-saving compromise, the running of the line 
of 36 degrees 30 minutes North latitude through our new 
territories to the Pacific, and the positive allotment and 
guaranty of all South of that line to Slavery forever, the sug 
gestion was widely grasped as an olive-branch, even the 
veteran Thurlow Weed commending the proposal to popular 
favor and acceptance as fair and reasonable. The Eepublican 
party which had been called into existence by the opening 
of free soil to Slavery seemed in positive danger of signaliz 
ing its advent to power by giving a direct assent to the prac 
tical extension of Slavery over a region far larger and more 
important than that theoretically surrendered by the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill. In fact, the attitude of the North, during the 



SECESSION, HOW CONFRONTED. 397 

two last months of 1860, was foreshadowed in four lines of 
Collins s Ode to the Passions : 

" First, Fear his hand, its skill to try, 
Amid the chords bewildered laid ; 
And back recoiled, he knew not why, 
E en at the sound himself had made." 

And the danger was imminent that, if a popular vote could 
have been had (as was proposed) on the Crittenden Com 
promise, it would have prevailed by an overwhelming ma 
jority. Very few Eepublicans would have voted for it ; but 
very many would have refrained from voting at all ; while 
their adversaries would have brought their every man to the 
polls in its support, and carried it by hundreds of thousands. 

My own controlling conviction from first to last was, 
There must, at all events, be no concession to Slavery. Dis 
union, should it befall, may be calamity ; but complicity in 
Slavery extension is guilt, which the Eepublicans must in no 
case incur. It had for an age been the study of the slave- 
holding politicians to make us of the North partners with 
them in the maintenance, diffusion, and profit or loss of their 
industrial system. " Slavery is quite as much your affair as 
ours," they were accustomed to say in substance : " we own 
and work the negroes ; you buy the cotton and sugar pro 
duced by their labor, and sell us in return nearly all we 
and they eat, drink, and wear. If they run away, you help 
catch and return them : now set us off a few hundred thou 
sand miles more of territory whereon to work them, and help 
us to acquire Cuba, Mexico, &c., as we shall say we need 
them, and we will largely extend our operations, to our 
mutual benefit." It was this extension that I was resolved at 
all hazards to defeat. 

But how ? 

Good and true men met the Disunionists (whether earnest 
or affected) in this square, manly way : " You must obey the 
laws. The Union will not be tamely surrendered, and cannot 
be dissolved by force. Whoever shall attempt thus to dis 
solve it will have reason to repent of his temerity. Behave 
yourselves, or you will rue your turbulence ! " 



398 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

To me, as to some others, a different course seemed advisa 
ble. We said in substance : " You Disunionists claim to be 
the Southern people, and rest your case on the vital principle 
proclaimed in our fathers immortal Declaration of Indepen 
dence, < Governments derive their just power from the con 
sent of the governed. We admit th e principle, nay, we affirm, 
we glory in it ; but your case is not within it. You are not 
the Southern people ; you are not even a majority of the 
Southern Whites ; you are a violent, unscrupulous, desperate 
minority, who have conspired to clutch power and wield it 
for ends which the overawed, gagged, paralyzed majority at 
heart condemn. Secure us a fair opportunity to state our 
side of the case, and to argue the points at issue before your 
people, and we will abide their decision. We disclaim a 
union of force, a union held together by bayonets ; let us 
be fairly heard ; and, if your people decide that they choose 
to break away from us, we will interpose no obstacle to their 
peaceful withdrawal from the Union." 

Whether this was, or was not, in the abstract, sound doc 
trine, it is clear that those who uttered it exposed themselves 
to ready misapprehension and grave obloquy, which were 
counterbalanced by no advantage or profit to themselves. 
Their consolation was that they had done something toward 
arresting the spring- tide of Northern servility that set strongly 
in favor of " conciliation " through the adoption of the Crit- 
tenden Compromise. 

They were right at least in their fundamental assumption 
of fact. The South was not for Secession. Though its par 
tisans had previously made skilful use of the machinery of 
the Democratic party to secure Governors, Legislatures, &c. 
in their interest, and the Federal officers appointed by 
Pierce and Buchanan while Jefferson Davis, Jacob Thomp- 
son y John B. Floyd, Howell Cobb, John Slidell, &c., were 
their trusted advisers were nearly all implicated in their 
conspiracy, the Disunionists, wholly unresisted by President 
Buchanan, were enabled, by their utmost efforts, to alienate 
but a minority of the Southern States or People from the 



SECESSION, HOW CONFRONTED. 399 

Federal Union. South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missis 
sippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas seven States in all, 
entitled to but twenty-eight representatives in Congress 
were claimed as having seceded, up to the hour wherein War 
was formally inaugurated by an order from the Confederate 
War Department to open fire upon the Federal fortress named 
Sumter, in Charleston harbor. In no one of these States but 
Texas had the ordinance of Secession been submitted to, and 
ratified by, a direct popular vote. The eight other Slave 
States, which had double their free population and double 
their representation in Congress, had not merely declined to 
secede, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, had 
given such majorities against it as they never gave before ; 
North Carolina and Arkansas had expressly voted it down ; 
while Maryland and Delaware refused even to take the mat 
ter into consideration. In fact, the people of the South, like 
those of the North, were as yet unripe for Disunion, and 
shuddered at the prospect of civil war. The bombardment 
of Sumter, which summoned the Nation to arms, was impelled 
by a consciousness that the mushroom Confederacy would 
otherwise collapse and disappear. Said Jeremiah Clemens, 
formerly United States Senator from Alabama, at a Union 
meeting at Hunts ville, March 13, 1864 : 

" 1 wish to state a fact in relation to the commencement of this 
war. Some time after the ordinance of Secession was passed I 
was in Montgomery, and called on President Davis, who was in 
that city. Davis, Memminger, the Secretary of War [Leroy Pope 
Walker], Gilchrist, the member from Lowndes County, and several 
others, were present. As I entered, the conversation ceased. 
They were evidently discussing the propriety of firing on Fort 
Sumter. Two or three of them withdrew to a corner of the room ; 
and I heard Gilchrist say to the Secretary of War : < It MUST be 
done. Delay two months, and Alabama stays in the Union. You 
must sprinkle blood in the faces of the people." 

So said, so done, except that the "sprinkle" swelled into 
a cascade, the cascade into a river, which inundated and red 
dened the whole breadth of our country. 



L. 

OUR CIVIL WAR, ACTUAL AND POSSIBLE. 

HOSTILITIES on the part of the Confederacy had been 
inaugurated weeks before Mr. Lincoln s accession to 
the Presidency. The Federal forts, arsenals, armories, sub- 
treasuries, &c., &c., located in the seceding States, had, in 
good part, thus changed hands, often with the hearty as 
sent and cooperation of their custodians, -always without 
serious resistance offered by them or commanded from Wash 
ington. Fort Sumter, Key West, and Fort Pickens (at Pen- 
sacola) were all that held out for the L T nion. General 
Twiggs s surrender* of the greater part of our little Army, 
then posted along the exposed frontiers of Texas, with all 
the forts, arms, munitions, stores, &c., occurred two weeks be 
fore the close of Mr. Buchanan s term. Still, the fact that 
war existed, or even that it was inevitable, was not generally 
realized in the Free States, till the telegraph flashed far and 
wide the startling news that fire had been opened f on Fort 
Sumter from the Eebel forts and batteries whereby it was 
half encircled, following this, next day, with the tidings 
that the feebly manned and nearly foodless fort had surren 
dered. Hereupon, Virginia was promptly plunged by her 
Convention into the widening vortex of Secession ; and was 
soon followed by Arkansas, $ North Carolina, and ultimately 
by Tennessee. || 

Meantime, President Lincoln, directly on hearing of the 
fall of Sumter, had summoned the new Congress to meet in 

* February 18, 1861. J May 6, 1861. || June 8, 1861. 

t April 12, 1861. May 20, 1861. 



OUR CIVIL WAR, ACTUAL AND POSSIBLE. 401 

extraordinary session on the 4th of July ensuing, and had 
called on the Governors of the presumptively loyal States for 
their respective quotas of a volunteer force of 75,000 men to 
defend the capital and public property of the Union. The 
Governors, not only of Virginia (which was then on the point, 
if not in the act, of seceding), but of North Carolina, Tennes 
see, Missouri, Kentucky, and even Delaware, responded only 
with "railing accusations," implying amazement that any 
President should ask or expect their help in the nefarious 
work of " coercion." From the Governors of the Free States 
(nearly or quite all Eepublicans) very different responses were 
received, swiftly followed by the required volunteers. One 
of the first regiments on foot was from Massachusetts, and 
was fiercely assailed* on its passage through Baltimore by a 
vast pro- Slavery mob, whereby three of its men were slain 
and eight seriously wounded. The residue made their way 
through the city, and proceeded to Washington ; but a Penn 
sylvania regiment, just behind it, was roughly handled by the 
mob, and constrained to take" the back track to Philadelphia. 
Baltimore thereupon ranged herself on the side of Secession, 
stopping the trains and cutting the wires that connected 
Washington with the still loyal States ; the Federal Arsenal 
at Harper s Ferry, being menaced, was fired and abandoned ; 
the Navy Yard at Norfolk was culpably deserted, leaving two 
thousand cannon and large supplies of munitions to the ex 
ulting Confederates ; a Confederate camp was established near 
St. Louis, under the auspices of Governor Jackson, and men 
openly enlisted and drilled there for the work in prospect ; 
the South was closed to Northern travel and commerce, and 
everything portended a formidable, bloody, devastating war. 

Yet President Lincoln persisted in what seems to me his 
second grave mistake, that of underestimating the spirit 
arid power of the Rebellion. He had called for but 75,000 
men when apprised that Fort Sumter had fallen ; he called 
for no more when assured that Virginia and North Carolina 
had been swept into the vortex of Secession by that open 

* April 19, 1861. 
26 



402 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

defiance of the National authority and assault on the National 
integrity; that Arkansas and Tennessee were on the point 
of following their bad example ; and that even Maryland and 
Missouri were, at least for the moment, in the hands of those 
who fully shared the animus and sympathized with the aims 
of the Disunionists. It was now plain that the Slave Power 
was the Nation s assailant, and that its motto was, " War to 
the knife ! " I think the President should have changed his 
tactics in view of the added gravity of the public danger. I 
think he should have invited the people to assemble en a des 
ignated early day in their several wards and townships, then 
and there to solemnly swear to uphold the Government and 
Union, and to enroll themselves as volunteers for the war, 
subject to be called out at his discretion. Each man s age, as 
well as name, should have been recorded ; and then he should 
have called them out in classes as they should.be wanted, 
say, first, those of 20 to 25 years old ; secondly, those between 
25 and 30 ; and so on. I judge that not less than One Mil 
lion able-bodied men would have thus enrolled themselves ; 
that the first two calls would have provided a force of not 
less than two hundred thousand men ; and that subsequent 
calls, though less productive, would have supplied all the men 
from time to time required, without cost and without material 
delay. 

The Confederate Congress had met at Montgomery, Ala 
bama, held a brief session, and adjourned to reconvene at 
Eichmond on the 4th of July. I hold that it should not 
have been allowed so to meet, but that a Union army, One 
Hundred Thousand strong, should have occupied that city 
early in June, certainly before the close of that month. 
Eichmond was not yet fortified; it was accessible by land 
and by water ; we firmly held Fortress Monroe ; the desig 
nated capital of the Confederacy should never have received 
its Congress, but should have witnessed such a celebration of 
the anniversary of American Independence as had never yet 
thrilled its heart. The war-cry, "Forward to Eichmond!" 
did not originate with me ; but it is just what should have 



OUR CIVIL WAR, ACTUAL AND. POSSIBLE 403 

been uttered, and the words should have been translated into 

deeds. 

Instead of energy, vigor, promptness, daring, decision, we 
had in our councils weakness, irresolution, hesitation, delay ; 
and, when at last our hastily collected forces, after being de 
moralized by weeks of idleness and dissipation, were sent 
forward, they advanced on separate lines, under different com 
manders; thus enabling the enemy to concentrate all his 
forces in Virginia against a single corps of ours, defeating and 
stampeding it at Bull Eun, while other Union volunteers, 
aggregating nearly twice its strength, lay idle and useless near 
Harper s Ferry, in and about Washington, and at Fortress 
Monroe. Thus what should have been a short, sharp struggle 
was expanded into a long, desultory one ; while those whose 
blundering incapacity or lack of purpose was responsible for 
those ills united in throwing the blame on the faithful few 
who had counselled justly, but whose urgent remonstrances 
they had never heeded. " Forward to Eichmond ! " was exe 
crated as the impulse to disaster, even by some who had lus 
tily echoed it ; and weary months of halting, timid, nerveless, 
yet costly warfare, naturally followed. Men talk reproach 
fully of the heavy losses incurred by Grant in taking Eich 
mond, forgetting that his predecessors had lost yet more in 
not taking it. In war, energy prompt and vigorous action 

- is the true economizer of suffering, of devastation, and of 
life. Had Napoleon or Jackson been in Scott s place in 1861, 
the Eebellion would have been stamped out ere the close of 
that year ; but Slavery would have remained to scourge us 
still. Thus disaster is overruled to subserve the ends of 
beneficence ; thus the evil of the moment contains the germ 
of good that is enduring ; and thus is freshly exemplified the 
great truth proclaimed by Pope : 

" In spite of pride, in erring "Reason s spite, 
One truth is clear, WHATEVER is, is BIGHT." 



LI. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

are those who say that Mr. Lincoln was fortu- 
nate in his death as in his life : I judge otherwise. I 
hold him most inapt for the leadership of a people involved 
in desperate, agonizing war; while I deem few men better 
fitted to guide a nation s destinies in time of peace. Espe 
cially do I deem him eminently fitted to soothe, to heal, and 
to reunite in bonds of true, fraternal affection a people just 
lapsing into peace after years of distracting, desolating inter 
nal strife. His true career was just opening when an assas 
sin s bullet quenched his light of life. 

Mr. Lincoln entered Washington the victim of a grave de 
lusion. A genial, quiet, essentially peaceful man, trained in 
the ways of the bar and the stump, he fully believed that 
there would be no civil war, no serious effort to consum 
mate Disunion. His faith in Eeason as a moral force was so 
implicit that he did not cherish a doubt that his Inaugural 
Address, whereon he had bestowed much thought and labor, 
would, when read throughout the South, dissolve the Confed 
eracy as frost is dissipated by a vernal sun. I sat just behind 
him as he read it, on a bright, warm, still March day, expect 
ing to hear its delivery arrested by the crack of a rifle aimed 
at his heart ; but it pleased God to postpone the deed, though 
there was forty times the reason for shooting him in 1860 
that there was in 65, and at least forty times as many intent 
on killing or having him killed. No shot was then fired, how 
ever ; for his hour had not yet come. 

AJmost every one has personal anecdotes of " Old Abe." 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 405 

I knew him more than sixteen years, met him often, talked 
with him familiarly ; yet, while multitudes fancy that he 
was always overflowing with jocular narrations or reminis 
cences, I cannot remember that I ever heard him tell an an 
ecdote or story. One, however, that he did tell while in this 
city, on his way to assume the Presidency, is so characteristic 
of the man and his way of regarding portents of trouble, 
that I here record it. 

Almost eveiy one was asking him, with evident apprehen 
sion if not perturbation : " What is to be the issue of this 
Southern effervescence ? Are we really to have civil war ? " 
and he once responded in substance as follows : 

" Many years ago, when I was a young lawyer, and Illinois 
was little settled, except on her southern border, I, with other 
lawyers, used to ride the circuit ; journeying with the judge 
from county-seat to county-seat in quest of business. Once, 
after a long spell of pouring rain, which had flooded the 
whole country, transforming small creeks into rivers, we were 
often stopped by these swollen streams, which we with diffi 
culty crossed. Still ahead of us was Fox River, larger than 
all the rest ; and we could not help saying to each other, If 
these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over 
Fox Eiver ? Darkness fell before we had reached that 
stream ; and we all stopped at a log tavern, had our horses 
put out, and resolved to pass the night. Here we were right 
glad to fall in with the Methodist Presiding Elder of the cir 
cuit, who rode it in all weather, knew all its ways, and could 
tell us all about Fox River. So we all gathered around him, 
and asked him if he knew about the crossing of Fox River. 
yes/ he replied, I know all about Fox River. I have 
crossed it often, and understand it well ; but I have one fixed 
rule with regard to Fox River : I never cross it till I reach 
it. " 

I infer that Mr. Lincoln did not fully realize that we were 
to have a great civil war till the Bull Run disaster. I cannot 
otherwise explain what seemed to many of us his amazing 
tameness when required by the Mayor and by the Young 



406 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

Christians of Baltimore to promise not to have any more vol 
unteers marched across the State of Maryland on their way 
to the defence of Washington. Had he then realized that 
bloody strife had become a dire necessity, I think he would 
have responded with more spirit. 



When we were at length unmistakably launched on the 
stormy ocean of civil war, Mr. Lincoln s tenacity of purpose 
paralleled his former immobility. I believe he would have 
been nearly the last, if not the very last, man in America to 
recognize the Southern Confederacy, had its arms been trium 
phant. He would have much preferred death. 

This firmness impelled him to what seemed to me a grave 
error. Because he would never consent to give up the Union, 
he dreaded to recognize in any manner the existence of the 
Confederacy. Yet such recognition, after the capture of sev 
eral thousands of our soldiers, became inevitable. Had For 
tune uniformly smiled on our arms, we might have treated 
the Rebellion as a seditious riot ; but our serious loss in pris 
oners at Bull Run rendered this thenceforth impossible. We 
were virtually compelled to recognize the Confederates as 
belligerents, by negotiating an exchange of prisoners. Thence 
forth (it seems to me) we were precluded from treating them 
as felons. And I could see no objection, not merely to receiv 
ing with courtesy any overtures for peace they might see fit 
to make, but even to making overtures to them, as Great 
Britain so publicly did to our Revolutionary fathers in the 
Summer of 76. 

War has become so fearfully expensive, through the pro 
gress of invention and machinery, that to protract it is to 
involve all parties in bankruptcy and ruin. Belligerents are, 
therefore, prone to protest their anxiety for Peace, in most 
cases, sincerely. Napoleon, though often at war, was always 
proclaiming his anxiety for peace. It seemed to me, through 
out our great struggle, that a more vigorous prosecution, alike 
of War and of Peace, was desirable. Larger armies, in the 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 407 

average more energetically led, more ably handled, seemed to 
be the National need, down to a late stage of the contest. 
And I deemed it a mistake to put aside any overture that 
looked to the achievement of peace. Instead of repelling 
such overtures, however unpromising, I would have openly 
welcomed any and all, and so treated each as to prove that 
the continuance of war was not the fault of our side. And 
so, when Henry May, Colonel Jacquess, and others, solicited 
permission to go to Eichmond in quest of Peace, I would 
have openly granted them every facility, asking them only to 
state distinctly that I had not sent nor accredited them. 
And I judge that Mr. Lincoln slowly came to a conclusion 
not dissimilar to mine, since Mr. F. P. Blair s two visits to 
Eichmond were made with his full knowledge ; while his 
own visit to Fortress Monroe, there to meet Confederate Com 
missioners and discuss with them terms of pacification, was a 
formal notice to all concerned of his anxiety to stay the 
effusion of blood. I believe that this conference did much to 
precipitate the downfall of the tottering Confederacy. I 
doubt whether any one of Sherman s nearly simultaneous 
successes did more. And, while Mr. Lincoln would have 
been a tenacious champion of the authority and dignity of 
the Union and the rights and security of all its loyal people, 
I am sure the vanquished Eebels would have found him a 
generous conqueror. 

Mr. Lincoln died for his country as truly as any soldier 
who fell fighting in the ranks of her armies. He was not 
merely killed for her sake, because of the high responsi 
bilities she had a second time devolved on him, and the 
fidelity wherewith he fulfilled them, he was worn out in 
her service, and would not, I judge, have lived out his official 
term, had no one sought his immolation. When I last saw 
him. a few weeks before his death, I was struck by his hag 
gard, care-fraught face, so different from the sunny, gladsome 
countenance he first brought from Illinois. I felt that his life 
hung by so slender a thread that any new access of trouble 
or excess of effort might suddenly close his career. I had 



408 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

ceased to apprehend Ms assassination, had ceased even to 
think of it ; yet " the sunset of life " was plainly looking out 
of his kindly eyes and gleaming from his weather-beaten 
visage. 

I believe I neither enjoy nor deserve the reputation of fa 
voring exorbitant allowances or lavish expenditures; yet I 
feel that my country has been meanly parsimonious in its 
dealings with Mr. Lincoln s family. The head of that family 
was fairly elected and inaugurated President for a second 
term ; and he had scarcely entered upon that term when he 
was murdered because he was President. I hold that this 
fact entitled his family to the four years salary which the 
people had voted to pay him ; that the manner of his death 
took his case entirely out of the category of mere decease 
while in office; and that they should have been paid the 
$100,000 which, but for Booth s bullet, would have been 
theirs, instead of the one year s salary that was allowed them. 
I am quite aware that Mrs. Lincoln was and is unpopular, 
I need not inquire with what reason, since I am not pleading 
for generosity, but for naked justice. Buchanan, trembling at 
the rustle of a leaf, served out his term, and was paid his full 
salary ; dying, seven years later, of natural decay. To withhold 
Mr. Lincoln s pay because he invoked the hatred of assassins 
by his fearless fidelity, and was therefore bereft of life when 
in the zenith of his career, is to discourage fidelity and foster 
pusillanimity. May not the wrong be redressed even yet ? 



Mr. Lincoln was emphatically a man of the people. Mr. 
Clay was called " The Great Commoner " by those who ad 
mired and loved him ; but Clay was imperious, even haughty, 
in his moods, with aristocratic tastes and faults, utterly 
foreign to Lincoln s essentially plebeian nature. There never 
yet was man so lowly as to feel humbled in the presence of 
Abraham Lincoln ; there was no honest man who feared or 
dreaded to meet him ; there was no virtuous society so rude 
that, had he casually dropped into it, he would have checked 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 409 

innocent hilarity or been felt as a damper on enjoyment. 
Had he entered as a stranger a logger s camp in the great 
woods, a pioneer s bark-covered cabin in some new settle 
ment, he would have soon been recognized and valued as one 
whose acquaintance was to be prized and cultivated. 

Mr. Lincoln was essentially a growing man. Enjoying no 
advantages in youth, he had observed and reflected much 
since he attained to manhood, and he was steadily increasing 
his stock of knowledge to the day of his death. He was a 
wiser, abler man when he entered upon his second than when 
he commenced his first Presidential term. His mental pro 
cesses were slow, but sure ; if he did not acquire swiftly, he 
retained all that he had once learned. Greater men our 
country has produced; but not another whom, humanly 
speaking, she could so ill spare, when she lost him, as the 
victim of Wilkes Booth s murderous aim. 



Though I very heartily supported it when made, I did not 
favor his re-nomination as President ; for I wanted the War 
driven onward with vehemence, and this was not in his 
nature. Always dreading that the National credit would 
fail, or the National resolution falter, I feared that his easy 
ways would allow the Eebellion to obtain European recogni 
tion and achieve ultimate success. But that " Divinity that 
shapes our ends " was quietly working out for us a larger and 
fuller deliverance than I had dared to hope for, leaving to 
such short-sighted mortals as I no part but to wonder and 
adore. We have had chieftains who would have crushed out the 
Rebellion in six months, and restored "the Union as it was"; 
but God gave us the one leader whose control secured not 
only the downfall of the Rebellion, but the eternal overthrow 
of Human Slavery under the flag of the Great Republic. 



LII. 

JEFFERSON DAVIS. 

THE President of the Southern Confederacy was chosen 
by a capable, resolute aristocracy, with express refer 
ence to the arduous task directly before him. The choice 
was deliberate, and apparently wise. Mr. Davis was in the 
mature prime of life; his natural abilities were good; his 
training varied and thorough. He had been educated at 
West Point, which, with all its faults, I judge the best school 
yet established in our country ; he had served in our little 
army in peace, and as a Colonel of volunteers in the Mexican 
War ; returning to civil life, he had been conspicuous in the 
politics of his State and the Nation ; had been elected to the 
Senate, and there met in courteous but earnest encounter 
Henry Clay and his compeers ; had been four years Secretary 
of War under President Pierce ; and had, immediately on his 
retiring from that post, been returned to the Senate, whereof 
his admirers styled him " the Cicero," and whereof he con 
tinued a member until not without manifest reluctance 
he resigned and returned to Mississippi to cast his future 
fortunes into the seething caldron of Secession and Disunion. 
As compared with the homely country lawyer, Abraham 
Lincoln, reared in poverty and obscurity, with none other 
than a common-school education, and precious little of that ; 
whose familiarity with public affairs was confined to three 
sessions of the Illinois Legislature and a single term in the 
House of Eepresentatives, it would seem that the advan 
tage of chieftains was largely on the side of the Confederacy. 
The contrast between them was striking, but imperfect; 



JEFFERSON DAVIS. 411 

for each was thoroughly in earnest, thoroughly persuaded of 
the justice of the cause whereof he stood forth the foremost 
champion, and signally gifted with that quality which, in the 
successful, is termed tenacity, in the luckless, obstinacy. Mr. 
Lincoln was remarkably devoid of that magnetic quality 
which thrills the masses with enthusiasm, rendering them 
heedless of sacrifice and insensible to danger ; Mr. Davis was 
nowise distinguished by its possession. As the preacher of a 
crusade, either of them had many superiors. But Mr. Davis 
carefully improved as Mr. Lincoln did not every oppor 
tunity to proclaim his own undoubting faith in the justice of 
his cause, and labored to diffuse that conviction as widely as 
possible. His successive messages and other manifestoes were 
well calculated to dispel the doubts and inflame the zeal of 
those who regarded him as their chief; while, apart from his 
first Inaugural, and his brief speech at the Gettysburg cele 
bration,* Mr. Lincoln made little use of his many oppor 
tunities to demonstrate the justice and necessity of the War 
for the Union. 

Mr. Davis, after the fortunes of his Confederacy waned, 
was loudly accused of favoritism in the allotment of Military 
trusts. He is said to have distrusted and undervalued Joseph 
Johnston, which, if so, was a grave error ; for Johnston proved 
himself an able and trustworthy commander, if not a great 
military genius, never a blunderer, and never intoxicated 
by success nor paralyzed by disaster. His displacement in 
1864 by Hood, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Georgia, 
was proved a mistake ; but it was more defensible than the 
appointment of Halleck as General-in-Chief of our armies, 
directly after his failure on the Tennessee. Bragg is named as 
first of Davis s pets ; but Bragg seems to me to have proved 
himself a good soldier, and to have shown decided capacity at 
the Battle of Stone Eiver, though he was ultimately obliged 
to leave the field (and little else) to Eosecrans. Pemberton 
was accounted another of Davis s overrated favorites; but 
Pemberton, being of Northern birth, was never fully trusted, 

* November 19, 1863. 



412 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

nor fairly judged, by his compatriots. On a full survey of the 
ground, I judge that Davis evinced respectable, not brilliant, 
capacities, in his stormy and trying Presidential career ; and 
that his qualifications for the post were equal to, while his 
faults were no greater than, Mr. Lincoln s. 

This, however, was not the judgment of his compatriots, 
who extravagantly exaggerated his merits while their cause 
seemed to prosper, and as unjustly magnified his faults and 
short-comings from the moment wherein their star first visibly 
waned. They were ready to make him Emperor in 1862 ; 
they regarded him as their evil genius in 1865. Having 
rushed into war in undoubting confidence that their success 
was inevitable, they were astounded at their defeat, and im 
pelled to believe that their resources had been dissipated and 
their armies overwhelmed through mismanagement. They 
were like the idolater, who adores his god after a victory, but 
flogs him when smarting under defeat. 

A baleful mischance saved Mr. Davis from the fate of a 
scapegoat. After even he had given up the Confederacy as 
lost, and realized that he was no longer a President, but a 
fugitive and outlaw, he was surprised and assailed, while 
making his way through Georgia to the Florida coast with 
intent to escape from the country, by two regiments of Union 
cavalry, and captured. I am confident that this would not 
have occurred had Mr. Lincoln survived, certainly not, if 
our shrewd and kind-hearted President could have prevented 
it. But his murder had temporarily maddened the millions 
who loved and trusted him ; and his successor, sharing and 
inflaming the popular frenzy, had put forth a Proclamation 
charging Davis, among others, with conspiracy to procure 
that murder, and offering large rewards for their arrest as 
traitors and assassins. Captured in full view of that Procla 
mation, he might have been forthwith tried by a drum-head 
Court-Martial, " organized to convict," found guilty, sentenced, 
and put to death. 

This, however, was not done ; but he was escorted to Sa 
vannah, thence shipped to Fortress Monroe, and there closely 



JEFFERSON DAVIS. 413 

imprisoned, with aggravations of harsh and (it seems) need 
less indignity. An indictment for treason was found against 
him ; but he remained a military prisoner in close jail for 
nearly two years, before even a pretence was made of arraign 
ing him for trial. 

Meantime, public sentiment had become more rational and 
discriminating. Davis was still intensely and widely de 
tested as the visible embodiment, the responsible head, of the 
Eebellion ; but no one now seriously urged that he be tried 
by Court-Martial and shot off-hand ; nor was it certain that 
a respectable body of officers could be found to subserve such 
an end. To send him before a civil tribunal, and allow him 
a fair trial, was morally certain to result in a defeat of the 
prosecution, through disagreement of the jury, or otherwise ; 
for no opponent of the Eepublican party, whether North or 
South, would agree to find him guilty. And there was grave 
doubt whether he could be legally convicted, now that the 
charge of inciting Wilkes Booth s crime had been tacitly 
abandoned. Mr. Webster * had only given clearer expression 
to the general American doctrine, that, after a revolt has levied 
a regular army, and fought therewith a pitched battle, its 
champions, even though utterly defeated, cannot be tried and 
convicted as traitors. This may be an extreme statement ; 
but surely a rebellion which has for years maintained great 
armies, levied taxes and conscriptions, negotiated loans, fought 
scores of sanguinary battles with alternate successes and 
reverses, and exchanged tens of thousands of prisoners of war, 
can hardly fail to have achieved thereby the position and the 
rights of a lawful belligerent. Just suppose the case (nowise 
improbable) of two Commissioners for the exchange of pris 
oners, like Mulford and Ould, for example, who had for 
years been meeting to settle formalities, and exchange boat 
loads of prisoners of war, until at length the power repre 
sented by one of them having been utterly vanquished and 
broken down that one is arrested by the victors as a traitor, 
and the other directed to prosecute him to conviction and 

* In his first Bunker Hill Oration. 



414 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

consign him to execution, how would the case be regarded 
ly impartial observers in this later half of the Nineteenth 
Century ? And suppose this trial to take place two years 
after the discomfiture and break-down aforesaid, what then ? 

Mr. Andrew Johnson had seen fit to change his views and 
his friends since his unexpected accession to the Presidency, 
and had, from an intemperate denouncer of the beaten Eebels 
as deserving severe punishment, become their protector and 
patron. Jefferson Davis, in Fortress Monroe, under his proc 
lamation aforesaid, was an ugly elephant on Johnson s hands ; 
and thousands were anxious that he should remain there. 
Their view of the matter did not impress me as statesman 
like, nor even sagacious. 

The Federal Constitution expressly provides* that, 

" In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right 
to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and 
district wherein the crime shall have been committed," &c. 

In times of war and grave public peril, Constitutions cannot 
always be strictly heeded ; but what national interest required 
that this provision should be persistently, ostentatiously defied ? 

An Irishman, swearing the peace against his three sons for 
pertinaciously assaulting and abusing him, made this proper 
reservation : " And your deponent would ask your honor to 
deal tenderly with his youngest son, Larry, who never struck 
him when he was down." I confess to some fellow-feeling 
with Larry. 

Mr. George Shea, the attorney of record for the defence in 
the case of The United States versus Jefferson Davis, indicted 
for treason, is the son of an old friend, and I have known and 
liked him from infancy. After it had become evident that 
his client had no immediate prospect of trial, if any prospect 
at all, Mr. Shea became anxious that said client be liberated 
on bail. Consulting me as to the feasibility of procuring 
some names to be proffered as bondsmen of persons who had 

* Amendments, Art. VL 



JEFFERSON DAVIS. 415 

conspicuously opposed the Rebellion and all the grave errors 
which incited it, I suggested two eminent Unionists, who, I 
presumed, would cheerfully consent to stand as security that 
the accused would not run away to avoid the trial he had 
long but unsuccessfully invoked. I added, after reflection, 
" If my name should be found necessary, you may use that." 
He thanked me, and said he should proffer it only in case the 
others abundantly at his command would not answer without 
it. Months passed before I was apprised, by a telegram from 
Washington, that my name was needed ; when I went down 
and proffered it. And when, at length, the prisoner was 
brought before the United States District Court at Richmond,* 
I was there, by invitation, and signed the bond in due form. 
I suppose this would have excited some hubbub at any 
rate ; but the actual tumult was gravely aggravated by gross 
misstatements. It was widely asserted that the object of 
giving bail was to screen the accused from trial, in other 
words, to enable him to run away, when nothing like this 
was ever imagined by those concerned. The prisoner, through 
his counsel, had assiduously sought a trial, while the pros 
ecution was not ready, because (as Judge Underwood was 
obliged to testify before a Committee of Congress) no convic 
tion was possible, except by packing a jury. The words " straw 
bail " were used in this connection ; when one of the sureties 
is worth several millions of dollars, and the poorest of them 
is abundantly good for the sum of $ 5,000, in which he is 
" held and firmly bound " to produce the body of Jefferson 
Davis whenever the plaintiff shall be ready to try him. If 
he only would run away, I know that very many people would 
be much obliged to him ; but he won t. 

It was telegraphed all over the North that I had a very 
affectionate meeting and greeting with the prisoner when he 
had been bailed ; when in fact I had never before spoken nor 
written to him any message whatever, and did not know him, 
even by sight, when he entered the court-room. After the 
bond was signed, one of his counsel asked me if I had any 

* May 13, 1867. 



416 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

objection to being introduced to Mr. Davis, and I replied that 
I had none; whereupon we were introduced, and simply 
greeted each other. I made, at the request of a friend, a 
brief call on his wife that evening, as they were leaving for 
Canada ; and there our intercourse ended, probably forever. 

When the impeachment of President Johnson was fully 
resolved on, and there was for some weeks a fair prospect 
that Mr. Wade would soon be President, with a Cabinet of 
like Eadical faith, I suggested to some of the prospective Pres 
ident s next friends that I had Jefferson Davis still on my 
hands, and that, if he were considered a handy thing to have 
in the house, I might turn him over to the new Administra 
tion for trial at an hour s notice. The suggestion evoked no 
enthusiasm, and I was not encouraged to press it. 



I trust no one will imagine that I have made this state 
ment with any purpose of self- vindication. To all who have 
civilly accosted me on the subject, I trust I have given civil, 
if not satisfactory, answers ; while most of those who have 
seen fit to assail me respecting it, I have chosen to treat with 
silent scorn. I believe no one has yet succeeded in inventing 
an unworthy motive for my act that could impose on the 
credulity of a child, or even of my bitterest enemy. I was 
quite aware that what I did would be so represented as to 
alienate for a season some valued friends, and set against me 
the great mass of those who know little and think less ; thou 
sands even of those who rejoiced over Davis s release, never 
theless joining, full-voiced, in the howl against me. I knew 
that I should outlive the hunt, and could afford to smile at 
the pack, even when its cry was loudest. So I went quietly 
on my way; and in due time the storm gave place to a calm. 
And now, if there is a man on earth who wishes Jefferson 
Davis were back in his cell, awaiting, in the fourth year of 
his detention, the trial denied him in the three preceding, he 
is at liberty to denounce me for my course, in the assurance 
that he can by no means awake a regret or provoke a reply. 



LIII. 

AUTHORSHIP. WRITINGS HISTORY. 

ALMOST every one who can write at all is apt, in the 
course of his life, to write something which he fancies 
others may read with pleasure or with profit. For my own 
part, beyond a few boyish letters to relatives and intimate 
friends, I began my efforts at composition as an apprentice in 
a newspaper office, by condensing the news, more especially 
the foreign, which I was directed to put into type from the 
city journals received at our office ; endeavoring to give in 
fewer words the gist of the information, in so far, at least, as 
it would be likely to interest our rural readers. Our Editor, 
during the latter part of my stay in Poultney, was a Baptist 
clergyman, whose pastoral charge was at some distance, and 
who was therefore absent from us much of his time, and 
allowed me a wide discretion in preparing matter for the 
paper. This I improved, not only in the selection, but in 
the condensation, of news. The rudimentary knowledge of 
the art of composition thus acquired was gradually improved 
during my brief experience as a journeyman in various news 
paper establishments, and afterward as a printer of sundry 
experimental journals in this city ; so that I began my dis 
tinctive, avowed editorial career in The New-Yorker with a 
considerable experience as a writer of articles and paragraphs. 
I had even written verses, never fluently nor happily, but 
tolerably well measured, and faintly evincing an admiration 
of Byron, Mrs. Hemans, and other popular writers, an 
admiration which I never mistook for inspiration or genius. 
While true poets are few, those who imagine themselves 
27 



418 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

capable of becoming such are many ; but I never advanced 
even to this grade. I knew that my power of expression in 
verse was defective, as though I had an impediment in my 
speech, or spoke with my mouth full of pebbles ; and I very 
soon renounced the fetters of verse, content to utter my 
thoughts thenceforth in unmistakable prose. It is a comfort 
to know that not many survive who remember having read 
any of the few rhymed effusions of my incautious youth. 



I had been nearly twenty years a constant writer for the 
newspaper press ere I ventured (in 1850) to put forth a 
volume. This was entitled "Hints toward Reforms," and 
consisted mainly of Lectures and Addresses prepared for 
delivery before village lyceums and other literary associations 
from time to time throughout the preceding six or eight 
years. Most of them regarded Social questions ; but their 
range was very wide, including Political Economy, the Right 
to Labor, Land for the Landless, Protection to Home In 
dustry, Popular Education, Capital Punishment, Abstinence 
from Alcoholic potations, &c., &c. My volume was an 
ordinary duodecimo of 425 pages, compactly filled with the 
best thoughts I had to offer ; all designed to strengthen and 
diffuse sympathy with misfortune and suffering, and to pro 
mote the substantial, permanent well-being of mankind. 
When I had fully prepared it, I sent the copy to the Harpers ; 
and they agreed to publish it fairly, on condition that I paid 
the cost of stereotyping (about $400), when they would give 
me (as I recollect) ten cents per copy on all they sold. I 
cheerfully accepted the terms, and the work was published 
accordingly. I believe the sales nearly reimbursed my out 
lay for stereotyping ; so that I attained the dignity of author 
ship at a very moderate cost. Green authors are apt to 
suffer from disappointment and chagrin at the failure of their 
works to achieve them fame and fortune. I was fairly treated 
by the press and the public, and had no more desire than 
reason to complain. 



AUTHORSHIP. WRITING HISTORY. 419 

I have given these unflattering reminiscences so fully, be 
cause I would be useful to young aspirants to authorship, 
even at the cost of losing their good-will. I have been soli 
cited by many 0, so many ! of them to find publishers 
for the poems or the novel of each, in the sanguine expecta 
tion that a publisher was the only requisite to his achieve 
ment of fortune and renown ; when, in fact, each had great 
need of a public, none (as yet) of a publisher. You are sure, 
gushing youth ! that your poems are such as no other 
youth ever wrote, such as Pindar, or Dante, or Milton 
would read with delight, and I acquiesce in your judgment. 
But the great mass of readers have not " the vision and the 
faculty divine " ; they are prosaic, plodding, heavy- witted 
persons, who read and admire what they are told others have 
read and admired before them, if the discovery of new 
Homers and Shakespeares were to rest with them, none would 
henceforth be distinguished from the common herd. You, 
we will agree, are such a genius as Heaven vouchsafes us once 
in two or three centuries ; but can you dream that such are 
discerned and appreciated by the great mass of their cotem- 
poraries ? How much, think you, did Homer, or Dante, or 
Milton receive from the sale of his works to the general pub 
lic ? Nay : how much did Shakespeare s poetry, as poetry, con 
tribute to his sustenance ? Nay, more : do you, having ac 
quired the greenback-cost of adding a volume to your library, 
buy the span-new verses of Stiggins Dobbs or C. Pugsley 
Jagger ? You know that you do not, that you buy Shelley, 
or Beranger, or Tennyson, instead. Then how can you expect 
the great mass of us, who have not the faintest claim to genius 
or special discernment, to recognize your untrumpeted merit 
and buy your volume ? You ought to know that we shall 
foUow your example, and buy if we ever buy poems at aU 
-those of some one whose fame has already reached even 
our dull ears and fixed our heedless attention. Hence it is 
that no judicious publisher will buy your manuscript, nor 
print it, even if you were to make him a present of it. He 
can t afford it. And your talk of the stupidity, the incom- 



420 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

petency, the rapacity, or the cruelty of publishers is wholly 
aside from the case. Not one first work in a hundred ever 
pays the cost of its publication. True, yours may be the rare 
exception ; but the publisher is hardly to blame that he does 
not see it. . 

A year or two later, on my return from my first visit to 
Europe, I was surprised by an offer to publish in a volume 
the letters I had written thence to The Tribune, and pay me 
copyright thereon. I knew, right well, that they did not de 
serve such distinction, that they were flimsy and super 
ficial, things of a day; to be read in the morning and for 
gotten at night. But it seems that some who had read them 
in The Tribune wished to have them in a more compact, port 
able shape ; while it was highly improbable that any others 
would be tempted to buy them : so I consented, and revised 
them ; and they duly appeared as " Glances at Europe" in 
1851-52. I recollect my share of the proceeds was about 
$500; for which I had taken no pecuniary risk, and done 
very little labor. Had the work been profounder, and more 
deserving, I presume it would not have sold so well, at all 
events, not so speedily. 

Years passed ; I made my long-meditated overland journey 
to California ; and the letters I wrote during that trip, printed 
from week to week in The Tribune, were collected on my re 
turn, and printed in a volume nearly equal in size to either 
of my former. As a photograph of scenes that were then 
passing away, of a region on the point of rapid and striking 
transformation, I judge that this " Overland Journey to Cali 
fornia in 1859 " may be deemed worth looking into by a dozen 
persons per annum for the next twenty years. Its publishers 
failed, however, very soon after its appearance ; so that my 
returns from it for copyright were inconsiderable. 

And now came the Presidential contest of 1860, closely 
followed by Secession and Civil War, whereof I had no 



AUTHORSHIP. WRITING HISTORY. 421 

thougnt of ever becoming the historian. In fact, not till that 
War was placed on its true basis of a struggle for liberation, 
and not conquest, by President Lincoln s successive Procla 
mations of Freedom, would I have consented to write its his 
tory. Not till I had confronted the Eebellion as a positive, 
desolating force, right here in New York, at the doors of ear 
nest Republicans, in the hunting down and killing of defence 
less, fleeing Blacks, in the burning of the Colored Orphan 
Asylum, and in the mobbing and firing of The Tribune office, 
could I have been moved to delineate its impulses, aims, pro 
gress, and impending catastrophe. 

A very few days after the national triumph at Gettysburg, 
with the kindred and almost simultaneous successes of Gen 
eral Grant in the capture of Vicksburg, and General Banks 
in that of Port Hudson, with the consequent suppression of 
the (so called) "Riots" in this city, I was visited by two 
strangers, who introduced themselves as Messrs. Newton and 
O. D. Case, publishers, from Hartford, and solicited me to 
write the History of the Rebellion. I hesitated; for my 
labors and responsibilities were already most arduous and 
exacting, yet could not, to any considerable extent, be trans 
ferred to others. The compensation offered would be liberal, 
in case the work should attain a very large sale, but other 
wise quite moderate. I finally decided to undertake the task, 
knowing well that it involved severe, protracted effort on my 
part ; and I commenced upon it a few weeks later, after col 
lecting such materials as were then accessible. I hired for 
my workshop a room on the third floor of the new Bible 
House, on Eighth Street and Third and Fourth Avenues, pro 
cured the requisite furniture, hired a secretary, brought 
thither rny materials, and set to work. Hither I repaired, 
directly after breakfast each week-day morning, and read and 
compared the various documents, official reports, newspaper 
letters, &c., &c., that served as materials for a chapter, while 
my secretary visited libraries at my direction, and searched 
out material among my documents and elsewhere. The great 
public libraries of New York, Society, Historical, Astor, 



422 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

and Mercantile all cluster around the Bible House ; the two 
last-named being within a bowshot. I occasionally visited 
either of them, in personal quest of material otherwise inac 
cessible. When I had the substance of my next chapter 
pretty fairly in mind, I began to compose that chapter ; hav 
ing often several authorities conveniently disposed around 
me, with that on which I principally relied lying open before 
me. I oftener wrote out my first draft, merely indicating 
extracts where such were to be quoted at some length ; leav 
ing these to be inserted by my secretary when he came to 
transcribe my text ; but I sometimes dictated to my secre 
tary, who took short 7 hand notes of what I said, and wrote 
them out at his leisure. My first chapter was thus composed 
at one sitting, after some days had been given to the arrange 
ment of materials ; but, usually, two days, or even three, 
were given to the composition of each of the longer chapters, 
after I had prepared and digested its material. Our rule was 
to lock the door on resuming composition, and decline all 
solicitations to open it till the day s allotted task had been 
finished ; and this was easy while my " den " was known to 
very few ; but that knowledge was gradually diffused ; and more 
and more persons found excuses for dropping in ; until I was 
at length subject to daily, and even more frequent, though sel 
dom to protracted, interruptions. I think, however, that if I 
should ever again undertake such a labor, I would allow the 
location of my " den " to be known to but one person at The 
Tribune office, who should be privileged to knock at its door 
in cases of extreme urgency, and I would have that door open 
to no one beside but my secretary and myself. Even my 
proof-sheets should await me at The Tribune office, whither I 
always repaired, to commence a day s work as Editor, after 
finishing one as Author at the " den." 

A chapter having been fairly written out or transcribed by 
my secretary, while I was " reading up " for another, I care 
fully revised and sent it to the stereotyper, who sent me his 
second and third proofs, which were successively corrected 
before the pages were ready to be cast. Sometimes, the dis- 



AUTHORSHIP. WRITING HISTORY. 423 

covery of new material compelled the revision and recast of 
a chapter which had been passed as complete. And, though 
the material was very copious, more so, I presume, than 
that from which the history of any former war was written, 
it was still exceedingly imperfect and contradictory. For in 
stance : when I came to the pioneer Secession of South Caro 
lina, I wished to study it in the proceedings and debates of 
her Legislature and Convention as reported in at least one of 
her own journals ; and of these I found but a single file pre 
served in our city (at the Society Library), though four years 
had not yet expired since that Secession occurred. A year 
later, I probably could not have found one at all. Of the score 
or so of speeches made by Jefferson Davis, often from cars, 
while on his way from Mississippi to assume at Montgomery 
the Presidency of the Confederacy, I found but two con 
densed reports ; and one of these, I apprehend, was apocry 
phal. In many cases, I found officers reported killed in bat 
tles whom I afterward found fighting in subsequent battles ; 
whence I conclude that they had not been killed so dead as 
they might have been. Some of the errors into which I was 
thus led by my authorities were not corrected till after my 
work was printed; when the gentlemen thus conclusively 
disposed of began to write me, insisting that, though desper 
ately wounded at the battle in question, they had decided not 
to give up the ghost, and so still remained in the land of em 
bodied rather than that of disembodied souls. Their testimony 
was so direct and pointed that I was constrained to believe it, 
and to correct page after page accordingly. I presume a few, 
even yet, remain consigned to the shades in my book, who 
nevertheless, to this day, consume rations of beef and pork 
with most unspiritual regularity and self-satisfaction. There 
doubtless remain some other errors, though I have corrected 
many ; and, as I have stated many more particulars than my 
rivals in the same field have usually done, it is probable that 
my work originally embodied more errors of fact or incident 
than almost any other. 

Yet " The American Conflict " will be consulted, at least by 
historians, and I shall be judged by it, after most of us now 



424 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

living shall have mingled with the dust. An eminent an 
tagonist of my political views has pronounced it " the fairest 
one-sided book ever written " ; but it is more than that. It 
is one of the clearest statements yet made of the long train 
of causes which led irresistibly to the war for the Union, 
showing why that war was the natural and righteous conse 
quence of the American people s general and guilty compli 
city in the crime of upholding and diffusing Human Slavery. 
I proffer it as my contribution toward a fuller and more vivid 
realization of the truth that God governs this world by moral 
laws as active, immutable, and all-pervading as can be opera 
tive in any other, and that every collusion or compromise 
with evil must surely invoke a prompt and signal retribu 
tion. 

The sale of my history was very large and steady down to 
the date of the clamor raised touching the bailing of Jeffer 
son Davis, when it almost ceased for a season ; thousands who 
had subscribed for it refusing to take their copies, to the sore 
disappointment and loss of the agents, who had supplied them 
selves with fifty to a hundred copies each, in accordance with 
their orders ; and who thus found themselves suddenly, 
and most unexpectedly involved in serious embarrassments. 
I grieved that they were thus afflicted for what, at the 
worst, was no fault of theirs ; while their loss by every copy 
thus refused was twenty times my own. I trust, however, 
that their undeserved embarrassments were, for the most 
part, temporary, that a juster sense of what was due to 
them ultimately prevailed, that all of them who did not 
mistake the character of a fitful gust of popular passion, and 
thereupon sacrifice their hard earnings, have since been re 
lieved from their embarrassments ; and that the injury and 
injustice they suffered without deserving have long since been 
fully repaired. At all events, the public has learned that I act 
upon my convictions without fear of personal consequences ; 
hence, any future paroxysm of popular rage against me is 
likely to be less violent, in view of the fact that this one 
proved so plainly ineffectual. 



LIV. 

MY DEAD. 

DO not wear my heart upon my sleeve," and shrink 
-L from the obtrusion of matters purely personal upon an 
indifferent public. I have aimed, in the series herewith 
closed, to narrate mainly such facts and incidents as seemed 
likely to be of use, either in strengthening the young and 
portionless for the battle of life, or in commending to their 
acceptance convictions which I deem sound and important. 
My life has been one of arduous, rarely intermitted, labor, 
of efforts to achieve other than personal .ends, of efforts 
which have absorbed most of the time which others freely 
devote to social intercourse and to fireside enjoyments. Of 
those I knew and loved in youth, a majority have already 
crossed the dark river, and I will not impose even their names 
on an un sympathizing world. Among them is my fellow- 
apprentice and life-long friend, who, after long illness, died in 
this city in 1861 ; my first partner, already named, who was 
drowned while bathing in 1832 ; and a young poet of promise 
who was slowly yielding to consumption when the tidings of 
our Bull Pom disaster snapped short his thread of life, as 
it would have snapped mine had it been half so frail as his. 
The faces of many among the departed whom I have known 
and loved come back to me as I gaze adown the vista of my 
half-century of active life ; but I have no right to lift the 
veil which shrouds and shields their long repose. I will 
name but those who are a part of myself, and whose loss to 
earth has profoundly affected my subsequent career. 

Since I began to write these reminiscences, my mother s 



426 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

last surviving brother, John Woodhurn, has deceased, aged 
seventy-two, leaving the old Woodburn homestead, I under 
stand, to some among his children ; so has my father s brother, 
Isaac, aged eighty, leaving, so far as I know, but one of the 
nine brothers (John) still living. My father himself died on the 
18th of December last, aged eighty-six. He had, for twelve 
years or more, been a mere wreck, first in body only ; but his 
infirmities ultimately affected his mind ; so that, when I last 
visited him, a year before his death, he did not recognize me 
till after he had sat by my side for a full half-hour ; and he 
had before asked my oldest sister, " Did you ever know Henry 
Greeley ?" alluding to one of her sons, then several years 
dead. He had fitful flashes of mental recovery ; but he had 
been so long a helpless victim of hopeless bodily and mental 
decay that I did not grieve when I learned that his spirit had 
at length shaken off the encumbrance of its mortal coil, which 
had ceased to be an instrument, and remained purely an 
obstruction. Of his protracted life, forty-two years had been 
spent in or on the verge of New England, and forty-four 
in his deliberately chosen, steadily retained, Pennsylvanian 

home. 

My son, Arthur Young ("Pickie"), born in March, 1844, 
was the third of seven children, whereof a son and daughter, 
severally born in 1838 and in 1842, scarcely opened their 
eyes to a world which they entered but to leave. Physically, 
they were remarkable for their striking resemblance in hair 
and features to their father and mother respectively. 

Arthur had points of similarity to each of us, but with de 
cided superiority, as a whole, to either. I looked in vain 
through Italian galleries, two years after he was taken from 
us, for any full parallel to his dazzling beauty, a beauty 
not physical merely, but visibly radiating from the soul. His 
hair was of the finest and richest gold ; " the sunshine of pic 
ture " never glorified its equal ; and the delicacy of his com 
plexion at once fixed the attention of observers like the late 
N. P. Willis, who had traversed both hemispheres without 
having his gaze arrested by any child who could bear a com- 



MY DEAD. 427 

parison with this one. Yet he was not one of those paragons 
sometimes met with, whose idlest chatter would edify a Sun 
day school, who never do or say aught that propriety would 
not sanction and piety delight in, but thoroughly human, 
and endued with a love of play and mischief which kept him 
busy and happy the livelong day, while rendering him the 
delight and admiration of all around him. The arch delicacy 
wherewith he inquiringly suggested, when once told a story 
that overtaxed his credulity, " I pose that aint a lie ? " was 
characteristic of his nature. Once, when about three years 
old, having chanced to espy my watch lying on a sofa as I 
was dressing one Sunday morning, with no third person pres 
ent, he made a sudden spring of several feet, caught the 
watch by the chain, whirled it around his head, and sent it 
whizzing against the chimney, shattering its face into frag 
ments. " Pickie," I inquired, rather sadly than angrily, " how 
could you do me such injury ? " " Cause I was nervous," he 
regretfully replied. There were ladies then making part of 
our household whose nerves were a source of general as well 
as personal discomfort; and this was his attestation of the 
fact. 

There were wiser and deeper sayings treasured as they fell 
from his lips ; but I will not repeat them. Several yet live 
who remember the graceful gayety wherewith he charmed 
admiring circles assembled at our house, and at two or three 
larger gatherings of friends of Social Reform in this city, and 
at the N. A. Phalanx in New Jersey ; and I think some grave 
seigniors, who were accustomed to help us enjoy our Saturday 
afternoons in our rural suburban residence at Turtle Bay, 
were drawn thither as much by their admiration of the son 
as by their regard for his parents. 

Meantime, another daughter was given to us, and, after six 
months, withdrawn ; and still another born, who yet survives ; 
and he had run far into his sixth year without one serious 
illness. His mother had devoted herself to him from his 
birth, even beyond her intense consecration to the care of her 
other children ; had never allowed him to partake of animal 



428 RECOLLECTIONS OF A BUSY LIFE. 

food, or to know that an animal was ever killed to be eaten ; 
had watched and tended him with absorbing love, till the 
perils of infancy seemed fairly vanquished ; and we had rea 
son to hope that the light of our eyes would be spared to 
gladden our remaining years. 

It was otherwise decreed. In the Summer of 1849, the 
Asiatic cholera suddenly reappeared in our city, and the 
frightened authorities ordered all swine, &c., driven out of 
town, that is, above Fortieth Street, whereas our home 
was about Forty-eighth Street, though no streets had yet been 
cut through that quarter. At once, and before we realized our 
danger, the atmosphere was polluted by the exhalations of 
the swinish multitude thrust upon us from the densely peo 
pled hives south of us, and the cholera claimed its victims 
by scores before we were generally aware of its presence. 

Our darling was among the first ; attacked at 1 A. M. of 
the 12th of July, when no medical attendance was at hand ; 
and our own prompt, unremitted efforts, reenforced at length 
by the best medical skill within reach, availed nothing to 
stay the fury of the epidemic, to which he succumbed about 
5 P. M. of that day, one of the hottest, as well as quite the 
longest, I have ever known. He was entirely sane and con 
scious till near the last; insisting that he felt little or no 
pain and was well, save that we kept him sweltering under 
clothing that he wanted to throw off, as he did whenever he 
was permitted. When at length the struggle ended with his 
last breath, and even his mother was convinced that his eyes 
would never again open on the scenes of this world, I knew 
that the Summer of my life was over, that the chill breath 
of its Autumn was at hand, and that my future course must 
be along the downhill of life. 



Yet another son (Eaphael Uhland) was born to us two 
years afterward ; who, though more like his father and less 
like a poet than Arthur, was quite as deserving of parental 
love, though not so eminently fitted to evoke and command 



MY DEAD. 429 

general admiration. He was with me in France and Switzer 
land in the Summer of 1855 ; spending, with his mother and 
sister, the previous Winter in London and that subsequent in 
Dresden ; returning with them in May, 56, to fall a victim to 
the croup the ensuing February. I was absent on a lecturing 
tour when apprised of his dangerous illness, and hastened 
home to find that he had died an hour before my arrival, 
though he had hoped and striven to await my return. He 
had fulfilled his sixth year and twelve days over when our 
home was again made desolate by his death. 

Another daughter was born to us four weeks later, who 
survives ; so that we have reason to be grateful for two chil 
dren left to soothe our decline, as w T ell as for five who, having 
preceded us on the long journey, await us in the Land of 
Souls. 

My life has been busy and anxious, but not joyless. 
Whether it shall be prolonged few or more years, I am grate 
ful that it has endured so long, and that it has abounded in 
opportunities for good not wholly unimproved, and in experi 
ences of the nobler as well as the baser impulses of human 
nature. I have been spared to see the end of giant wrongs, 
which I once deemed invincible in this century, and to note 
the silent upspringing and growth of principles and influen 
ces which I hail as destined to root out some of the most fla 
grant and pervading evils that yet remain. I realize that 
each generation is destined to confront new and peculiar per 
ils, to wrestle with temptations and seductions unknown to 
its predecessors ; yet I trust that progress is a general law of 
our being, and that the ills and woes of the future shall be 
less crushing than those of the bloody and hateful past. So, 
looking calmly, yet humbly, for that close of my mortal 
career which cannot be far distant, I reverently thank God 
for the blessings vouchsafed me in the past; and, with an 
awe that is not fear, and a consciousness of demerit which 
does not exclude hope, await the opening before my steps of 
the gates of the Eternal World. 



MISCELLANIES. 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 



THE world is a seminary; Man is our class-book; and 
the chief business of life is Education. We are here to 
learn and to teach, some of us for both of these purposes, 
all at least for the former. Happy he, and greatly blest, who 
comes divinely qualified for a Teacher, fitted by nature and 
training to wrestle with giant Ignorance and primal Chaos, 
to dispel unfounded Prejudice, and banish enshrouding Night. 
To govern men, in the rude, palpable sense, is a small achieve 
ment ; a grovelling, purblind soul, well provided with horse 
men and artillery, and thickly hedged with bayonets and 
spears, may do this. Nero ruled the Eoman world at the 
height of its power and glory, and ruled it so sternly that no 
man dared speak of him, while he lived, save in the language 
of abject flattery. Caligula did it likewise; and so, in an 
uncouth, second-hand, deputizing way, did (or might have 
done) Caligula s horse ; but which of these, think you, could 
have instructed the millions he so sternly swayed? Alaric 
had no difficulty in cutting off ten-score thousand heads ; but 
he leaves to our own Everett the writing of the poem wherein 
the nature of his exploits is duly celebrated. Had he been 
obliged to slice off as many more heads, or write such a poem, 
he would have chosen the former task without hesitation or 
self-distrust. 

The true king, then, the man who can, from which 

root I would derive also ken and cunning, is he who sways 

the mighty realm of Thought; whose achievements mimic 

those of the Infinite Father by building out into void space, 

28 



434 MISCELLANIES. 

and peopling Chaos with living and beneficent, though bodi 
less, creations. Who knows or cares what was the name of 
Homer s temporal sovereign ? The world could not spare 
Cicero s Orations, but what recks it of his consulate ? George 
III. ruled respectably a mighty realm through the most mem 
orable half-century in the history of man ; yet his age will be 
known to remote posterity, not as his by any means, nor even 
as that of Napoleon or Wellington, but as that of Goethe, 
Wordsworth, and Byron. Bonaparte himself was a reality 
and no sham : yet he missed his best chance of earthly im 
mortality when he allowed Fulton to leave France with the 
steamboat still in his brain. The burning of Moscow was 
unlucky for the conqueror of Austerlitz ; but this non-com 
prehension of our great countryman was a betrayal of inca 
pacity, a downright discomfiture, of which no Grouchy can 
be made the scapegoat. 

Inevitable, then, is it, and by no means to be lamented, that, 
in an age so eventful and stirring as ours, an innumerable 
multitude should aspire to Write, that is, to Teach. Nay, 
it is greatly to be desired, and every way to be encouraged, that 
the largest possible number should aspire to sing and shine as 
enlighteners and monitors of their fellow-beings. Brother in 
the tow frock and ragged unthinkables ! have you an idea hum 
ming in your brain, that seems to you fitted to cure even the 
lightest of human maladies ? Out with it, I pray you, in 
mercy to a benighted, heart-sick, and blindly suffering race ! 
Sister in linsey-woolsey, and wearing a red-cotton handker 
chief by way of diadem, have you aught to say, that, if uttered, 
would cheer and bless the weary steps whereby we are all 
measuring off the little span which divides us from the grave ? 
For sweet Charity s sake, do not withhold it, but let your 
light shine, even though the darkness be sure not to compre 
hend it, a by no means novel nor uncommon case. Heed 
not the croaker s warning that the world overflows with books 
and authors, so it did in Solomon s time ; yet how many 
very good ones, that mankind could hardly spare, have been 
written since ! Truly, the universe is full of light, and has 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 435 

been these thousands of years ; yet, for all that, we could not 
dispense with the sunshine of to-morrow, whether as a reali 
zation or as an assuring prediction. Never believe those who 
tell you that our Eace are surfeited with teachers, that 
their present needs are material only, not spiritual, and 
that your humble lay will be drowned by the crashing volume 
of the world s great choral harmonies, for if you have some 
thing to say, and do really say it, never doubt that it will find 
or make its way to the eyes and hearts of those fitted to ap 
preciate and enjoy it. 

But the real perplexity, the one great source of disappoint 
ment and mortification in the premises, is this, Of the 
legions who aspire to teach and sing, only a very small pro 
portion do so from any hearty, intrinsic, essential love of the 
work, while the great multitude seek primarily and mainly 
their own glory or aggrandizement, rather than the good of 
their kind. They aspire to be teachers, not because the world 
needs to be taught, but because they must somehow be fed. 
Minim s " lays " are inspired by his laziness, and not by any 
of the Muses, who would be tortured by his invocations if 
they paid any sort of heed to his twanging. Crotchet s trea 
tise on Hydraulics and Dynamics was impelled by the vacuum 
in his own stomach, rather than by any painful sense of 
deficiency or error in popular conceptions of natural science. 
Van Eoamer s " Travels " were constrained by the stern alter 
native of quitting his native soil or cultivating it; he is 
enabled to tell us how the Camanches grow corn, or the 
Mohaves harvest beans, through his own invincible repug 
nance to assisting in either process at home. And thus the 
domain of letters is continually infested, is wellnigh overrun, 
by a swarm of adventurers who are only intellectual in their 
pursuits and tendencies because they dread being, arid so 
have not fitted themselves to be, material, as Talleyrand 
accounted all men Military who were not Civil. Hence, the 
patient earth groans beneath the weight of books written 
from as grovelling a motive as ever sent a truant whimpering 
to school, and the moon and stars are persecuted with flatulent 



436 MISCELLANIES. 

apostrophes and impertinent staring by bards whose main 
incitement to thus tormenting the night is a constitutional 
abhorrence of getting up and swinging an axe in the morning. 

It is high time the current cant affirming the misfortunes 
of authorship, "calamities of genius," the miserable recom 
pense of intellectual effort, &c., were scouted from the earth. 
Its groundwork is a total misconception of the relations of 
things intellectual to tilings physical, of Mind to Matter, 
Time to Eternity. Milton, they say, sold Paradise Lost for 
ten pounds to its original publisher, Mr. Simmons. Begging 
your pardon, gentlemen, he did no such thing; if he had 
done, the mighty epic would have henceforth been Sivimons s 
Paradise Lost, no longer Milton s. No such poem was ever 
written for pounds, few or many, nor ever can be. The 
author sold only the privilege of multiplying copies for the 
few years wherein his right of property in his work was pro 
tected by law ; but the poem was still Milton s, and so must 
remain while Time shall endure. Trade and Law are mighty 
in their several spheres ; but both together are powerless to 
vest the proper ownership of Paradise Lost in anybody else 
than John Milton. 

I am not palliating the injustice done to authors by our 
laws of Copyright ; they are indeed gross and indefensible. 
Their original sin inheres in their attempt to draw a distinc 
tion where the laws of the Universe make none, between 
Property in the creations of the Brain and in those of the 
Hands. The distinction is at best imperfect. * A poem, as given 
by the author to the press, is the joint production of intellect 
and muscles, so is a plough or a boot-jack. The difference 
is one of proportion only, in the poem, the labor of Produc 
tion is mainly brain-work ; the reverse is the case with the 
plough. The poet s work, as poet, is one of creation purely, 
so far as finite beings can create ; while the mechanic s 
achievement is one of accommodation or shaping merely. 
No man. ever made, no man can make, a flour-barrel so thor 
oughly his as Childe Harold was and is Byron s. On what 
principle, then, do human laws say that the flour-barrel be- 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 437 

longs to the maker, his heirs or assigns, so long as it shall 
exist, and wherever it may be found, but that Childe Harold 
was Byron s property only within a narrow territorial radius 
and for a brief term of years ? Clearly, on no principle at all. 
The law plunders the author while pretending to protect him. 
It ought to know nothing of Copyright save to require the 
author to give fair notice that he regards his production as a 
property, and forbids the multiplication of copies by any other 
than a publisher expressly authorized by him. Then, if it 
were deemed expedient to confiscate the author s right of 
property, at the expiration of fifty or a hundred years from 
the date of his work s first appearance, he ought to be fairly 
compensated for his book, if the demand for it were still 
active, so as to justify a claim to indemnity on the part of his 
heirs. 

The Law of Copyright is pernicious in all its restrictions 
on the natural right of property, wrong in denying that 
right in one country to the citizen of another, and thereby 
bribing the author to pander to local and provincial prejudices, 
instead of speaking to all Humanity. A book which finds 
readers in all or many lands is presumptively worth far more 
than one which finds admirers only in the country which 
produced it. This law is doubly wrong in virtually saying to 
the author, " Cater to the prejudices, the follies, the passions 
of the hour ; for the approval of future generations may 
indeed pile marble above your unconscious dust, but will 
give no bread to your famishing offspring ! " It is very true 
that the pecuniary recompense is not the main impulse to 
the production of works which the world does not willingly 
let die ; but the State has no moral right to rob a man merely 
because he leaves his doors unlocked. It is bound to render 
to each his due ; and it sets an evil example in divesting any 
of what is rightfully his own. 

But, to ninety-nine of every hundred literary aspirants, it 
makes no difference practically whether the copyright ac 
corded to their works is or is not limited both in time and 
space. Out of every hundred books published, not ten are 



438 MISCELLANIES. 

ever read out of the country which produced them ; hardly 
one will be heard of by the author s own grandchildren. 
" Come like shadows, so depart," is the motto that would fit- 
liest illustrate the title-page of our booksellers annual cata 
logues of their new issues. Like an April snow-shower, they 
are poured upon us till they threaten to cover, if not trans 
form, the earth ; but soon the sun shines out, and, the next 
hour, they have vanished forever. 

Now, while it is quite true that Milton did not write Para 
dise Lost for Mr. Simmons s ten pounds, nor for any number 
of anybody s pounds, it is none the less certain that the State 
has no moral right to bribe its authors to strive for momen 
tary popularity rather than enduring regard. It has no moral 
right to say to them, "Write skilfully on a level with the. 
passions and prejudices of the day, and you shall have 
wealth and present fame ; but, if you write what the vicinage 
may condemn, yet what the Ages and the Eace must approve 
and embalm, you shall be punished with poverty for yourself 
and beggary for your children." That " ye cannot serve God 
and Mammon" was true enough in the nature of things, 
before the State undertook to aggravate, as against Mammon s 
despisers, the severity of the sentence and the intensity of 
the punishment. 

The World of Thought ! how vast its extent ! how ma 
jestic its triumphs ! I am not surprised that literary fame is 
the object of such general aspiration ; I should be surprised 
indeed if it were otherwise. Just consider how potent, how 
vast, is the sway to-day exercised by Plato, and Virgil, and 
Tacitus, now so many centuries in their graves, and compare 
it with the narrow, transient, imperfect dominion of Alexan 
der or Augustus, so omnipotent in his own age and sphere, so 
impotent elsewhere, and ever after. Xenophon the leader 
has long been undistinguishable dust, while Xenophon the 
narrator is still in the zenith of his power and renown. Ju 
lius Ca3sar holds his place in the world s regard far more by 
means of his Commentaries than of his victories, and Bona 
parte s first campaign electrified Europe not more by his bat- 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 439 

ties than his bulletins. We cannot wonder, then, that men 
have sacrificed ease and pleasure, youth and strength, grace 
of motion and power of vision, to win a name among those 
who worthily wielded that "weapon mightier than the 
sword" ; for, indeed, there is no other field of effort, no other 
arena for ambition, so inviting, so dazzling, as this. Wolfe 
on the Heights of Abraham admiringly recited Gray s Elegy, 
and declared that he would rather be its author than the con 
queror of Montcalm and Canada. "All for love and the 
world well lost," is the surrender of the grandest possibilities 
to a fleeting delirium of the senses ; but well might the con 
queror of an empire, the heir of a dynasty, exchange his cir 
cumscribed and vanishing dominion for a seat among the 
Kings of Mind, the rulers of that World of Ideas, whose 
sway each year expands and strengthens, though their bones 
have enriched, centuries ago, the soil with which they wres 
tled for a meagre subsistence as Homer the mendicant or 
^Esop the slave. 

But have the true Kings of Thought in fact realized their 
own might, and actually aspired to and struggled for the pre 
eminence which Mankind has so cordially assigned them ? 
Did Shakespeare, for instance, know himself the intellectual 
prodigy he truly was, and apprehend that the lines he dashed 
off with such facile rapidity would be read in delighted awe 
and wonder on isles of the Southern main, far beyond the 
African cape, which in his day bounded in that direction the 
known world ? I find in his writings the presence of amazing 
power, but not the consciousness of it. Nay : I cannot help 
suspecting that, had he really known how great a man he 
was and is, he would have refrained from acting and talking 
so often like a little one. The world has known men who 
profoundly esteemed themselves great, and justified that con 
sciousness by every act of their lives. I could not have dared 
to ask Michael Angelo to build me a tavern-stable out of the 
crumbling walls of a deserted monastery or fortress ; I should 
have cowered before the glance of his eye as he turned upon 
me with the question, " Do you think I was sent into the 



440 MISCELLANIES. 

world to build stables ? " Yet I would not have hesitated 
would you ? to ask Shakespeare to write me, for a considera 
tion, an epithalamium, a monody, a pasquinade, an epigram ; 
and should not have feared rebuke or refusal, if the price named 
were sufficient. For I see the man working and delving from 
day to day like any journeyman among us, with immense 
courage, certainly, and capacity, and consciousness of power, 
but still working up the ordinary play-house rubbish into 
his grand, airy new structure, as any skilful mason might fill 
up the centre of his wall with the commonest brickbats, until 
the difference between him and other playwrights seems one 
of degree purely, and not of kind. But, reading him thought 
fully, I am arrested by passage after passage evincing an 
almost Divine faculty, a faculty in which I discern nothing 
of the playwright, but rather the inspiration of the soul-rapt 
prophet, who looks straight through all things ; for to him the 
universe is without opacity, and past, present, and future are 
mere lines of demarcation across the great plain lying lucid 
and level before him. This man s nature is a riddle which I, 
very palpably, cannot read ; so I turn away, perplexed and 
overmastered, to resume the thread of my discussion. If he 
were always unapproachable, I could comprehend, though I 
might not accurately measure him ; if he were only a clever 
play-house poet, I could more easily and surely estimate him ; 
but his starry flights and his paltry jokes his celestial pene 
tration and his contemptible puns form together a riddle 
entirely too hard for me. I read him ; I admire him ; but I 
do not know him ; and all the commentators and critics serve 
only to render darkness more visible, my darkness, I freely 
admit ; but is it not also in some part their own ? 

The great soul like Milton s, finding utterance through 
Authorship because utterance is a necessity of its being, and 
because it feels impelled benignly to assure its weaker, more 
opaque brethren, that evil is phenomenal and transitory, the 
murky exhalation of a chill night, which heaven s sunshine 
will in due time dissipate, for this I take to be the burden 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 441 

of all true Literature, as of true Prophecy, this is, to my 
eye, the grandest, noblest spectacle beheld on earth. But the 
literary hack also, whereof I hold Shakespeare to be the 
highest type yet revealed to us, perhaps the highest ever 
to be seen, he who, finding authorship to be the work 
directly in his way, takes hold of it and does it, heartily, man 
fully, capitally, witli all his might, as he would do anything 
else that thus planted itself across his path ; always evincing 
talent, energy, resolution; sometimes irradiating these with 
the celestial fire of genius he, too, is at least a respectable 
personage ; and contemplating him shall give us added strength 
and vivacity for the discharge of our own duties, whatsoever 
they be. But the literary mendicant, the aspirant to live 
by literature, while literature begs to be excused from his 
obsequious and superserviceable attentions, of him and his 
works be the heavens mercifully oblivious, be the earth com 
passionately delivered ! He is just the sorriest sight the sun 
looks down upon, and fills us with the dismalest conceptions 
of the lower possibilities of human infirmity. 

Do but contemplate him, at twenty, thirty, forty, fifty 
years of age, a hale, stout, broad-shouldered man, with 
thews that might chop cord-wood or do some other creditable 
service to his kind, at all events, with fingers terminating 
either fore-arm that would answer for gathering apples or 
picking up potatoes, to see him, thus generously furnished, 
insisting on Authorship as his vocation, when nobody wants 
to hear or read him, wandering from publisher to publisher 
to petition for the printing of his poem or novel, or besieging 
editor after editor for employment on his journal, this is a 
spectacle of human degradation which angels may well weep 
over. And then to hear him talk of the Calamities of Gen 
ius ! he whose chief calamity is, manifestly, a total lack of 
genius, and not of genius merely, but of self-respect, energy, 
or manhood. Had he but one spark of true genius, it would 
develop in him a healthful, proper pride, whereof the first 
dictate would be a revolt against such hawking and auction 
eering of his Diviner faculties. " No," he would say, " I need 



442 MISCELLANIES. 

bread, and am not ashamed to solicit the privilege of earning 
it by such means as naturally bring bread, by hireling 
labor in the corn-field, the meadow, the ditch, or the mine ; 
for that is the natural resort of all those who have no estate 
of their own. I can proudly ask my neighbor to let me saw 
his wood for a dinner, since such is the obvious way of earn 
ing dinners, and sawed wood ministers to a physical necessity 
akin to my urgent need of victual ; but to ask any man to 
give me a dinner or a dollar for a poem or essay which he 
never asked me to write, to beg of him an exchange of his 
bread for my thoughts, my ideas, this I cannot stoop to do. 
If my book be printed, either with my own means or those of 
a publisher who believes it will do, let any man buy it and 
pay for it who will; but, if I urgently want bread, let me 
produce something which is bread s natural equivalent, or let 
me beg it, if reduced to that dire extremity, in the direct, 
honest way ; but to degrade my faculty of uttering thoughts, 
such as they are, into a means of indirect beggary, that low 
est deep of humiliation, I cannot, dare not, descend to." 

Perhaps there is not in all Literature any monument of 
human perversity and self-exposure more emphatic than the 
grand chorus of complaint and remonstrance which every 
year forces its way through some muddy channel or other to 
the public ear, of which the burden is the stolidity, incapaci 
ty and niggardliness of publishers, in not discerning unrecog 
nized merit in the works of young or unknown authors, buy 
ing their manuscripts at a generous price, and introducing 
them, with appropriate ceremonies, to the reading public. 
There are never less than thousands of these unprinted au 
thors, whose fame is yet in the egg, but who fancy that they 
need only a spirited and appreciating publisher to cause it to 
chip the shell and soar away on eagles wings to immortality. 
Every year, some hundreds of fresh aspirants to literary dis 
tinction contrive to overleap the hated barrier and rush into 
print ; when perhaps the books of ten of them repay the cost 
of the adventure ; two or three are encouraged to try again ; 
and possibly one proves a man of mark, wins popular appro- 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 443 

bation, and is ever after solicited by publishers, instead of 
needing to solicit their partiality and favor. But it was not 
by this one, nor yet by the two or three, that the howl was 
prolonged as to the obtuseness and rapacity of publishers, 
their drinking rare wines out of the skulls of their plundered, 
starving authors, &c., &c. No : it is from the ranks of the 
great unpublished, or, if published, unread, that this hideous 
dissonance goes up, men who, far from being victims of 
publishers, have victimized them, and will do it again when 
ever they shall induce one to bring out another of their 
dreary inanities. All the wine that will ever be made by 
publishers out of these plaintive gentlemen s productions 
might be drank out of their own skulls, while they are yet 
living, and leave abundant room therein for all the brains 
they have to fulfil their ordinary functions undisturbed and 
unstimulated. 

Authors of this stamp rarely consider that not creditable 
writing only, but true publishing also, is an intellectual voca 
tion, that as much ability is often evinced in bringing out 
and selling a boqk as in writing it. Publishing is a pursuit 
requiring various talents, ripe scholarship, large capital, and 
rare sagacity. Of original publications, but a small portion 
prove profitable, while the great majority involve positive 
loss. The instances of undeserved or inordinate success in 
publishing are quite as rare as in authorship. 

And you, my unfledged bard ! who croak over the stupidity 
of publishers, and the indifference of the reading class to 
unlaurelled merit, out of your own mouth shall you be con 
demned ! You complain that others are deaf and blind to 
such merit ; yet you are not one whit less so yourself ! You, 
Mr. Epaphroditus Sheepshanks, who grumble that Thackeray 
or Tennyson is read, yet your novel or poem untouched, is 
tacitly condemned by thousands who cannot know that it is 
not excellent, do you buy or read the novels of Snooks or 
the poems of Pettibone, in preference to those of the great 
celebrities of our day ? You know well that you do no such 
thing, that you have never looked through them, have 



444 MISCELLANIES. 

scarcely given them a thought. You say, very naturally, 
" They may be good ; but my time for reading is limited ; and 
I choose to devote it first to those whose works I have already 
some reason to know are good. Snooks and Pettibone may be 
clever fellows, I dare say they are, but they must await 
a more convenient season." And in this you talk and act 
sensibly ; quite otherwise when you grumble that more would- 
be authors do not succeed in getting printed, and that those 
who do fail to extract more money as copyright from pub 
lishers in addition to that which they have already squandered 
in paper, typography, and binding. 

True, there appear at long intervals men decidedly in ad 
vance of their time, who come to their own, and are not 
recognized and made welcome, who write, like Wordsworth 
or Emerson, for a public which their genius must create or 
their patience await, authors whose works would sell better 
if they were less profoundly good. But this class accept their 
fortune unmurmuringly, and never repine over their inability 
to serve at once God and Mammon, and so grasp the rewards 
of both Time and Eternity. They do their own work calmly, 
uncomplainingly, almost unconsciously, like the stars and the 
mountains, and are content to gladden and bless as they may, 
without striking for an advance of wages. They know, with 
out seeking it, that their message of good-will finds its way to 
the hearts fitted to receive and assimilate it ; they would be 
amazed by an intimation that their efforts were unappreciated 
and unrewarded. Not laboring mainly for popularity or pelf, 
they cannot regard the absence of both as an evidence that 
their effort is defeated and their labor in vain. 

"But," says an ingenuous youth, "I aspire to eminence, 
fame, popularity, nay, sir, to usefulness, as an author; 
which, I trust, is no ignoble aspiration. Then why may I 
not seek to sell the fruits of my intellectual efforts in order to 
cultivate and improve my faculties, and qualify me for the 
career I meditate ? Why may I not seek to sell the poem or 
story I wrote yesterday, in order to win me bread and oppor 
tunity to write a better one to-morrow ? " The question is a 
fair one, and shall be fairly answered. 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 445 

The ever-present and fearful peril of the Literary vocation 
is compliance, the sacrifice of the eternal verity to the tem 
porary necessity. To write to-day for to-day s bread involves 
the necessity of writing what to-day will appreciate, accept, 
and buy. This is to set your faculty of thought and utter 
ance up at auction to the best cash bidder, agreeing to do 
whatever Divine or diabolic work he may have in hand; 
and it is most unlikely that he who bids highest in current 
coin for to-day s work, payable to-night, will have Divine 
work for you to do. Of course, it is understood that you 
do not directly sell yourself to whomsoever will pay highest ; 
but that is the palpable tendency of going needily into the 
market to barter brains for bread. You cannot afford to be 
nice respecting the use to which your mental faculties are to 
be turned, if you must sell them to-day, or go hungry to-mor 
row. The natural drift, therefore, of sending your head into 
the market for sale is toward moral indifference and debase 
ment, toward the sale of your talents for the most they 
will fetch, without regard to what use they will be required to 
subserve. This tendency may be resisted, baffled, overborne ; 
but it can never cease to be a reality and a peril. Sensual 
appetite is always ready to pay generously for a present grati 
fication ; while Virtue is constitutionally austere and provi 
dent. And, beside, there is a very great mistake widely preva 
lent which confounds the continual use with the improve 
ment of the faculties essential to Authorship ; whereas, use is 
as often exhausting as strengthening. Washington, Bona 
parte, Byron, Wellington, in fact, nearly all the great men 
of the last age, evinced qualities as admirable and eminent 
in the outset as in the maturity of their several careers. Their 
opportunities, their responsibilities, may have afterward been 
broader ; but Washington on Braddock s fatal field, Bonaparte 
in Italy, Byron in Childe Harold, Wellington in India, while 
still young men, evinced the great qualities which have ren 
dered their names immortal. They there gave promise of all 
that they afterward performed. If such qualities inhere in 
you, they will find or make their way out ; if they do not, 



446 MISCELLANIES. 

you cannot create them by years of imitative, mechanical 
drudgery as a journeyman in the vocation you are anxious 
to master. 

I would say, then, to aspiring young men : " While you 
seek the ladder that leads up to renown, preserve, as above all 
price, your proper independence, mental and physical. Never 
surrender yourself to what is termed an intellectual vocation 
until you have first laid the foundations of independence in 
the knowledge of a good trade or handicraft, to fall back on 
whenever you shall find yourself unable to maintain at once 
your position as a brain-worker and your perfect self-respect. 
Take your place in the field or the shop, and make yourself 
master of its duties, fasten yourself to some patch of ground 
on some slope of the Alleghanies, the Catskills, the Ozarks, 
do anything which will make you a self-subsisting, skilful, 
effective worker with the hands, while you have the full con 
trol of your mental powers, and may apply your hours won 
from toil to their improvement, until you shall be called thence 
to intellectual pursuits by some other need than your own. 
Then you may accept the new opportunity in perfect security, 
and in the proud consciousness that your instructed sinews 
can earn you a livelihood by manual labor, should it ever 
happen that you can no longer maintain your integrity and 
your self-respect in that other vocation to which a hope of 
wider usefulness, and the request of those you serve, will have 
drawn you. Now, you need no longer consider how much 
truth the public will bear, but what is the particular truth it 
needs to have expounded and enforced to-day. You will serve 
mankind as a benefactor, not now as a slave. 

It is one of the most venerable of jokes, patronized, I 
dare say, by Mr. Joseph Miller and other ancient collectors of 
good things, and yet so pat to my argument that I cannot re 
frain from quoting it, that a London ship was once captured 
off the Spanish coast by an Algerine rover, and her crew and 
passengers mustered before the Dey, to be put to the best use 
respectively as slaves. Each, as he entered the immediate 
presence of the head pirate, was required to name his trade 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 447 

or calling ; which, being duly interpreted, he was assigned to 
the workshops, the ship-yard, the gardens, or the galleys, ac 
cording as his past experience had fitted him for efficiency 
in one vocation or another. At length, there came one who 
answered the usual question by avowing himself an author, 
and this was finally translated so as to render it compre 
hensible to the Dey ; who, after puzzling his brains for some 
time to devise a better use for so helpless an object, finally 
ordered him to be provided with a pair of feather inexpressi 
bles, and set to hatching out chickens. Here the story stops, 
leaving us in tantalizing darkness as to the success of the 
literary gentleman in this new field of production ; but, as 
the employment so compelled must have been sedentary and 
irksome to the last degree, it serves to enforce my moral, 
that a youth should thoroughly qualify himself to earn his 
own bread with his hands before he risks himself on the pre 
carious enterprise of ministering to the intellectual needs of 
others. 

Having thus protested, as I could not in conscience fail to 
do, against the baseness which aspires to authorship as an 
escape from ruder labor, and then whimpers because its flim 
sy intellectual wares cannot be exchanged for wholesome 
bread-corn, or substantial beef, let me not fail to remonstrate 
also against the crying injustice done, more especially by the 
laws of our country, not to her worthless but to her worthier, 
nobler Authors, through the denial of International Copy 
right. We nationally and systematically steal the works of 
Bulwer, Dickens, Thackeray, Macaulay, Browning, Tennyson ; 
boldly claiming the right and exerting the power of taking, 
using, enjoying, their products, without rendering the authors 
any equivalent ; and we thereby deprive our own authors of 
the fair and just reward of their labor as well. Our Irving, 
Bryant, Hawthorne, Longfellow, &c., are less widely read and 
less fully recompensed than they should be, because the 
works on which they are paid a copyright must be sold in 
direct competition with those of their European rivals, whom 
we refuse to pay at all. " Are they not paid by their own 



448 MISCELLANIES. 

countrymen ? " I hear triumphantly asked. " No, sir ! " I re 
ply ; not paid by Europe for the service they render us, not 
paid by anybody else for the instruction or entertainment 
we derive from their works. This instruction we have no 
moral right to appropriate without paying for it, any more 
than we might honestly clothe ourselves in unbought Euro 
pean fabrics which a wrecking storm had strewn along our 
shores. That we can take them without redress, and for the 
present with impunity, is undoubted ; but that no more proves 
our right to do it than the impunity long enjoyed by the cor 
sairs of the Barbary coast in plundering Christian vessels in 
the Mediterranean, proved the justice of that shameful atro 
city. The day will yet dawn wherein Man everywhere shall 
profoundly realize that no essential advantage can ever be 
obtained through injustice, that the constitution of the Uni 
verse is such that no product of human effort can be ob 
tained cheaper than by honestly buying and fairly paying for 
it. In that day, it will be felt and admitted that we have 
seriously injured and imperilled our country, by intrusting 
the formation of its mind, morals, and manners mainly to 
Foreign Authors, through the relative cheapening and conse 
quent diffusion of their works inevitably resulting from the 
denial of International Copyright. 

Perhaps there is no chapter in the history of Literature 
more amusing, and yet none which is essentially more melan 
choly, than that which acquaints us with the frailties of 
Authors, and especially of those of decided genius. That 
Shakespeare was arraigned for deer-stealing, a most poetical 
and delicate sort of theft, all admit ; that the great Bacon, 
father of modern Philosophy, was disgraced and cashiered for 
corruption as Lord Chancellor, the most responsible and one 
of the most lucrative as well as honorable posts in the king 
dom ; that Burns was irregular in love and immoderate in 
drink ; that Byron was a libertine, and Chatterton a cheat ; 
that some bards have run away with other men s wives, 
while a good many have run away from their own, these, 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 449 

and like deplorable facts, are reiterated and gloated over by 
millions, who are much better acquainted with the vices and 
errors of the greatly gifted than with their writings. Too 
many of us find an ignoble, if not malicious, pleasure in re 
ducing those whose intellectual stature threatens to dwarf us 
at least to our own moral level ; we catch at the evidences of 
their frailty, in order to assure ourselves that we too are 
spiritually deathless as they, or they at least mortal as we 
are. And their lives are necessarily so public, so transparent, 
so scrutinized, that the least flaw attracts observation ; they 
seem worse than others at least as bad as they, only because 
they are better known. How many follies, meannesses, vices, 
sins, in the lives of the common-place, are charitably hidden 
from public view by the friendly oblivion which screens the 
majority from observation in shielding them from public inter 
est or curiosity ! How many have stolen deer, and been con 
victed and whipped or imprisoned for it, and had the matter 
all over and forgotten within a year or two ; while here stands 
great Shakespeare, still in the stocks for deer-stealing, though 
he has stood there so patiently a little disdainfully, per 
haps, yet quite exemplarily for almost three centuries ! 
0, it is a fearful thing for one greatly gifted to cherish vices 
or yield to temptations ! his errors cover and deform him like 
writhing, hissing snakes, whose scaly sides and gleaming 
crests shine in the refulgence by which his genius has sur 
rounded him, from the towering height to which his achieve 
ments have lifted him, so that the whole world sees them ; 
the good with pitying sorrow, the thoughtless with mirthful 
levity, the bad with ill-concealed exultation. Vice is lament 
able in any, is the source, not merely of moral degradation, 
but of physical suffering ; but saddest of all are the offen 
ces, most signal and enduring the punishments, of those fitted 
by Nature to be great, the Kings of the mighty realm of 
undying Thought ! 

The necessities, the perplexities, the pecuniary distresses, 
of authors, these, too, have afforded the multitude an inex- 
29 



450 MISCELLANIES. 

haustible fund of anecdote and entertainment. In fact, the 
obvious contrast between the novelist or poet in his garret, 
lying abed for the day, perhaps, to have his linen washed, 
while he considers whether to let his hero marry the great 
heiress and inherit his principality just yet, or tantalize the 
reader s impatience with new machinations or impediments 
through two or three chapters more, this is antithesis too 
pungent, too comic, not to be enjoyed. The great majority 
have ceased to read such " slow," tame essays as those of The 
Spectator and The Tatler; yet the story of Dick Steele s 
embarrassments, follies, arrests for debt, and irreclaimable 
prodigalities, have recently been retold to our city audiences 
by Thackeray with inimitable felicity, and enjoyed with un 
exampled zest. An author s thoughts, it would seem, may 
perish or be supplanted, but the mementos of his thoughtless 
ness will endure forever. 

Yet there is exaggeration in the current notion of the con 
stitutional poverty and squalor, the desperate shifts and aver 
age seediness, of authors, which ought to be exposed, since 
there is just truth enough at the bottom of it to render it 
mischievous. The great, the radical difference between our age 
and the centuries which preceded the invention of printing, 
ought to be explained and realized. In those ages, the cost 
of multiplying books was so great that very few copies, even 
of the best, were made or could be afforded ; and the author s 
right of property in his work that is, his rightful control 
over the privilege of reproducing it was of slender or 
doubtful pecuniary value. Homer, of course, received nothing 
for his masterly and immediately, universally popular works, 
beyond the few pence flung to him here and there in requital 
for the pleasure he afforded by singing them. Cicero was 
paid for his orations by his clients, never by his readers. 
And thus it chanced that the dedication of books, now so 
absurd and unmeaning, had once a real force and significance. 
Authors, as a class, were never rich, and those who were poor 
had yet inherited a prejudice against living on air. And, 
since their works had no pecuniary value when completed, 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 451 

they were very poor security, while yet unwritten, for the 
bread that must be eaten, and the wine which would be drank, 
by the authors while writing them. So each poor aspirant 
for literary distinction was obliged, at the outset of his under 
taking, to seek and find a patron, wealthy, and fond of doing 
public-spirited acts, or at least of the fame thence arising, who 
would be willing to subsist him while at his work and reward 
him at its close. The Dedication, then, was the author s 
public and formal acknowledgment of his obligation to his 
patron, his avowal that the credit of the work ought to be 
divided between them, just as to-day the inventor of a 
mechanical improvement, and the capitalist who supplies the 
money wherewith to perfect and secure it, often take out a 
patent jointly. But the Art of Printing, and the general 
diffusion of knowledge and literary appetite, have abolished 
patrons, by abolishing the necessity which evoked them ; so 
that there is now but one real patron, The Public, and nearly 
all dedications to particular individuals are affected, anti 
quated, and unmeaning. 

It is a very common but a very mischievous notion, that 
the writing of a book is creditable per se. On the contrary, 
I hold it discreditable, and only to be justified by proof of 
lofty qualities and generous aims embodied therein. To write 
a book when you have nothing new to communicate, 
nothing to say that has not been better said already, that is 
to inflict a real injury on mankind. A new book is only to be 
justified by a new truth. If Jonas Potts, however illiterate 
and commonplace, has been shipwrecked on Hudson s Bay, 
and has travelled thence overland to Detroit or Montreal by 
a route previously unknown, then he may give us a book 
if he will attempt no more than to tell us as clearly as pos 
sible what he experienced and saw by the way, which will 
have a genuine value, and which the world may well thank 
him for ; and so of a man who, having manufactured charcoal 
all his days, should favor us with a treatise on burning char 
coal, showing what was the relative value for that use of the 



452 MISCELLANIES. 

various woods ; how long they should be on fire respectively ; 
how much wood should be burned in one pit, and how the 
burning should be managed. Every contribution, however 
rude and humble, to our knowledge of nature, and of the 
means by which her products may most advantageously be 
made subservient to our needs, is beneficent, and worthy of 
our regard. But the fabrication of new poems, or novels, or 
essays, or histories, which really add nothing to our stock of 
facts, to our fund of ideas, but, so far as they have any signifi 
cance, merely resay what has been more forcibly, intelligibly, 
happily, said already, this is a work which does less than 
no good, which ought to be decried and put down, under 
the general police duty of abating nuisances. I would have 
every writer of a book cited before a competent tribunal and 
made to answer the questions : " Sir, what proposition is this 
book intended to set forth and commend ? What fact does 
it reveal ? What is its drift, its purport ? " If it embodies 
a new truth, or even a new suggestion, though it seem a 
very mistaken and absurd one, make way for it ! and let it 
fight its own battle ; but if it has really 710 other aim than to 
be readable, therefore salable, and thus to win gold for its 
author and his accomplices, the printer and publisher, then 
let a bonfire be made of its manuscript sheets, so that the 
world may speedily obtain from it all the light it is capable 
of imparting. 

I once received a letter from a somewhat noted novelist, 
pressing me to read thoroughly one of his works just issued, 
which the cover proclaimed his " greatest novel," and which 
he wished me to commend to general favor, saying he was 
anxious to do his part toward the emancipation of the poor 
from their unmerited degradations and miseries. I was not 
able to read the book, editors receive too many requests 
like this ; but I replied to the letter ; saying, in substance : 
" You wish to improve the condition of the poor. Well : 
allow me to suggest a way. Take hold of the first piece of 
vacant earth you can gain permission to use, plant an acre 
with potatoes, cultivate and gather them, give one half to 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 453 

such poor creatures as really need them, and save the balance 
for your own subsistence while you grow more next year. In 
this way, you will do more toward meliorating the condition 
of the poor than you could by writing novels from July to 
eternity." My philanthropic friend did not take my advice, 
he did not even thank me for it ; but he soon after started 
a newspaper, whereof he sent me the first five numbers, in 
every one of which I received a most unmerciful flagellation. 
The paper is since dead ; but I have no doubt its editor con 
tinued his castigations to the last, and died laying it on with 
whatever vigor he had left. / could not help that. I never 
made any reply; but my convictions, as expressed in my 
letter to him, remain unchanged to this day. 

Yet let us not seem to disparage the Author s vocation ; 
nay: we dare not, we cannot. There is no other earthly 
exercise of power so Olympian, pervasive, enduring. Eeflect 
how many generations, dynasties, empires, have flourished and 
vanished since the Book of Job was written ; and how many 
more will rise and fade, leaving that sublime old poem still 
fresh and living. See Cicero/ Virgil, Horace, Livy, still 
studied and admired by the patrician youth of nations un 
known to Eome in her greatness, while all other power per 
taining to the Pagan era of the Eternal City has long since 
passed away forever. Nay : consider how Plutarch, ^Eschylus, 
Plato, living in a world so -very different from ours, in 
many respects, so infantile compared with ours, can still 
instruct the wisest and delight the most critical among us, 
and you may well conclude that to write nobly, excellently, 
is a far loftier achievement than to rule, to conquer, or to kill, 
and that the truly great author looks down on the little strifes 
and agitations of mankind from an eminence which monarchs 
can but feebly emulate, and the ages can scarcely wear away. 

But eminence in any good or great undertaking implies 
intense devotion thereto, implies patient, laborious exertion, 
either in the doing or in the preparing for it. He who 



454 MISCELLANIES. 

fancies greatness an accident, a lucky hit, a stroke of good 
fortune, does sadly degrade the achievement contemplated, 
and undervalue the unerring wisdom and inflexible justice 
wherewith the universe is ruled. Ask who among modern 
poets have written most admirably, so far as manner and 
finish are regarded, and the lover of Poetry least acquainted 
with Literary History will unhesitatingly answer, Pope, 
Goldsmith, Gray, Moore, Campbell, Bryant, Longfellow, Ten 
nyson. He may place others above any or all of these in 
power, in genius, in force ; but he cannot doubt that these 
have mo st smoothly, happily, faultlessly, sung what they had 
to sing, that their thoughts have lost less than almost any 
others by inharmony or infelicity of expression. Then let him 
turn to Biography, and he will find that these men have ex 
celled nearly or quite all others in patient study, in fastidious 
determination to improve, so long as improvement was prac 
ticable ; in persistent labor, so long as labor could possibly 
avail. It was quite easy for Pope to say, " The things I have 
written fastest have always pleased most " ; for he always 
studied and thought himself full of a subject before he began 
to write about it, and his composition was merely a setting 
down and arranging of ideas already present in his mind. 
And yet I apprehend that Posterity has not ratified his judg 
ment ; I mean, that his works which " pleased most " when 
first published have not stood the test of time as well as some 
others. The world of letters knew him as a pains-taking, 
laborious, correct writer, even before he had established his 
claim to be honored as a great one. And the works he wrote 
so rapidly he afterward revised, corrected, altered, recast, 
before allowing the public to see them, to the sad encourage 
ment of blasphemy among his printers, so that on one occa 
sion his publisher decided that it would be easier to compose 
in type afresh than attempt to correct one of his proofs. No 
man ever wrote better, so far as style is regarded ; because no 
man was ever more determined to publish nothing that he 
could improve. So Goldsmith considered four lines of his 
" Deserted Village " a good day s work, and the world has 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 455 

ratified his judgment. With the kindred " Elegy " of Gray, 
this belongs to a school of poetry which I do not transcend- 
ently admire ; but its excellence after its kind, I presume, no 
one has ever doubted. And it is related of Moore, the most 
fastidious and the most melodious writer of our time, that a 
friend once travelled with him all day, and was surprised by his 
taciturn moodiness and abstraction, until, just before night, 
his face lighted up, and he exclaimed, like the old Greek : " I 
have it ! That will do ! " then explained to his startled com 
panion that he had been all day trying to adjust a rhyme or 
counterpart to a line in one of his then unfinished poems, and 
had but just now succeeded. It is thus that works which the 
world prizes and embalms are composed. A style termed 
" easy " is generally obtained at great expense of time and 
effort, whether in the immediate composition or in the life 
long preparation for it ; and he who calculates on storming 
the ramparts of literary fame by the audacity, the impetuosity, 
of his genius, will very certainly be repulsed and discomfited. 
The " kingdom of heaven " may " suffer violence," but the 
republic of letters resents and repels it. 

0, my erring friend ! delighted that your son of fourteen 
years or your daughter of twelve has written a page of not 
intolerable verses, I pray you to lay this lesson to heart ! 
I can sympathize with your paternal partiality ; I do not 
wonder that you are proud of your child s achievement, for 
the writing even of bad verses at so tender an age is an 
achievement in one sense, and may plausibly be deemed by 
you a sign of promise, but you are thinking of the figure 
those verses would cut in the Poet s Corner of some journal, 
of the praises they would elicit and the distinction they 
would confer on their writer ; and against these fond, fool 
ish, perilous fancies I most earnestly protest and warn you. 
If your child has any talent which is possible, though not 
probable ; for precocity in any but secret authorship argues 
a low idea of the diffioulties of creditable composition, and a 
taste easily satisfied, because of the poverty of its concep- 



456 MISCELLANIES. 

tions of excellence, still, it is possible your child Tias talent, 
(which I am confident he did not inherit) ; and, if he has, you 
are taking the very course to ruin him. Puff him up with 
the conceit that he is an author at fourteen, and he will pret 
ty surely have proved himself a fool before he is twenty-five. 
But read over his composition with him, and kindly point out 
its faults or weaknesses ; encourage him to try again, and 
avoid these errors if possible, but studiously withhold his pro 
ductions from publicity, and impress him with the truth that 
to write feebly or badly, as he cannot now help doing if he 
writes at all, is only creditable or noteworthy as it renders 
possible his writing well after he shall have attained intellec 
tual and physical maturity. Thus cultivate, chasten, and 
ripen his faculty, but never stimulate it ; and there is a possi 
bility that it may ultimately ally him to the great and good 
of past ages ; but let him set out with the conceit that he is 
a prodigy, and his wreck and ruin are inevitable. 

It only remains to me to speak more especially of my own 
vocation, the Editor s, which bears much the same rela 
tion to the Author s that the Bellows-blower s bears to the 
Organist s, the Player s to the Dramatist s, Jullien or Listz to 
Weber or Beethoven. The Editor, from the absolute neces 
sity of the case, cannot speak deliberately ; he must write 
to-day of to-day s incidents and aspects, though these may 
be completely overlaid and transformed by the incidents and 
aspects of to-morrow. He must write and strive in the full 
consciousness that whatever honor or distinction he may ac 
quire must perish with the generation that bestowed them, 
with the thunders of applause that greeted Kemble or Jenny 
Lind, with the ruffianism that expelled Macready, or the 
cheerful laugh that erewhile rewarded the sallies of Burton 
or Placide. No other public teacher lives so wholly in the 
present as the Editor ; and the noblest affirmations of unpop 
ular truth, the most self-sacrificing defiance of a base and 
selfish Public Sentiment that regards only the most sordid 
ends, and values every utterance solely as it tends to pre- 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 457 

serve quiet and contentment, while the dollars fall jingling 
into the merchant s drawer, the land-jobber s vault, and the 
miser s bag, can but be noted in their day, and with their 
day forgotten. It is his cue to utter silken and smooth say 
ings, to condemn Vice so as not to interfere with the pleas 
ures or alarm the consciences of the vicious, to praise and 
champion Liberty so as not to give annoyance or offence to 
Slavery, and to commend and glorify Labor without attempt 
ing to expose or repress any of the gainful contrivances by 
which Labor is plundered and degraded. Thus sidling dex 
terously between somewhere and nowhere, the Able Editor of 
the Nineteenth Century may glide through life respectable 
and in good case, and lie down to his long rest with the non- 
achievements of his life emblazoned on the very whitest mar 
ble, surmounting and glorifying his dust. 

There is a different and sterner path, I know not whether 
there be any now qualified to tread it, I am not sure that 
even one has ever followed it implicitly, in view of the certain 
meagerness of its temporal rewards and the haste wherewith 
any fame acquired in a sphere so thoroughly ephemeral as 
the Editor s must be shrouded by the dark waters of oblivion. 
This path demands an ear ever open to the plaints of the 
wronged and the suffering, though they can never repay ad 
vocacy, and those who mainly support newspapers will be 
annoyed and often exposed by it; a heart as sensitive to 
oppression and degradation in the next street as if they were 
practised in Brazil or Japan ; a pen as ready to expose and 
reprove the crimes whereby wealth is amassed and luxury en 
joyed in our own country at this hour, as if they had only been 
committed by Turks or Pagans in Asia some centuries ago. 
Such an Editor, could one be found or trained, need not ex 
pect to lead an easy, indolent, or wholly joyous life, to be 
blessed by Archbishops or followed by the approving shouts 
of ascendant majorities ; but he might find some recompense 
for their loss in the calm verdict of an approving conscience ; 
and the tears of the despised and the friendless, preserved 
from utter despair by his efforts and remonstrances, might 
freshen for a season the daisies that bloomed above his grave. 



458 MISCELLANIES. 

Let me conclude by restating the main propositions which 
pervade and vivify this essay. Literature is a noble calling, 
but only when the call obeyed by the aspirant issues from a 
world to be enlightened and blessed, not from a void stomach 
clamoring to be gratified and filled. Authorship is a royal 
priesthood; but woe to him who rashly lays unhallowed 
hands on the ark or the altar, professing a zeal for the welfare 
of the Eace only that he may secure the confidence and sym 
pathies of others, and use them for his own selfish ends ! If 
a man have no heroism in his soul, no animating purpose 
beyond living easily and faring sumptuously, I can imagine 
no greater mistake on his part than that of resorting to author 
ship as a vocation. That such a one may achieve what he 
regards as success, I do not deny ; but, if so, he does it at 
greater risk and by greater exertion than would have been 
required to win it in any other pursuit. No : it cannot be 
wise in a selfish, or sordid, or sensual man to devote himself 
to Literature ; the fearful self-exposure incident to this way 
of life, the dire necessity which constrains the author to 
stamp his own essential portrait on every volume of his works, 
no matter how carefully he may fancy he has erased, or how 
artfully he may suppose he has concealed it, this should 
repel from the vestibule of the temple of Fame the foot of 
every profane or mocking worshipper. But if you are sure 
that your impulse is not personal nor sinister, but a desire 
to serve and ennoble your Eace, rather than to dazzle and be 
served by it ; that you are ready joyfully to " shun delights, 
and live laborious days," so that thereby the well-being of 
mankind may be promoted, then I pray you not to believe 
that the world is too wise to need further enlightenment, nor 
that it would be impossible for one so humble as yourself to 
say aught whereby error may be dispelled or good be diffused. 
Sell not your integrity ; barter not your independence ; beg of 
no man the privilege of earning a livelihood by Authorship ; 
since that is to degrade your faculty, and very probably to 
corrupt it ; but, seeing through your own clear eyes, and utter 
ing the impulses of your own honest heart, speak or write as 



LITERATURE AS A VOCATION. 459 

truth and love shall dictate, asking no material recompense, 
but living by the labor of your hands, until recompense shall 
be voluntarily tendered to secure your service, and you may 
frankly accept it without a compromise of your integrity or a 
peril to your freedom. Soldier in the long warfare for Man s 
rescue from Darkness and Evil, choose not your place on the 
battle-field, but joyfully accept that assigned you ; asking not 
whether there be higher or lower, but only whether it is 
here that you can most surely do your proper work, and meet 
your full share of the responsibility and the danger. Believe 
not that the Heroic Age is no more ; since to that age is only 
requisite the heroic purpose and the heroic soul. So long as 
ignorance and evil shall exist, so long there will be work for 
the devoted, and so long will there be room in the ranks of 
those who, defying obloquy, misapprehension, bigotry, and 
interested craft, struggle and dare for the redemption of the 
world. "Of making many books there is no end," though 
there is happily a speedy end of most books after they are 
made ; but he who by voice or pen strikes his best blow at 
the impostures and vices whereby our race is debased and 
paralyzed may close his eyes in death, consoled and cheered 
by the reflection that he has done what he could for the eman 
cipation and elevation of his kind. 



POETS AND POETRY. 



WE are all born poets. Not that every tenanted cradle 
holds an undeveloped Shakespeare, far from it. 
Demonstrated intellectual greatness is the prerogative of the 
few ; it is " the vision," not " the faculty divine," which is the 
birthright of the many. The grime of smoke and care and 
sin heavily inwraps, incases, japans, many souls, even in 
early childhood, as we see children of seven years prema 
turely haggard with suffering, squalor, and vice, but there 
was a time when these imps were poets, lacking only the 
power of expression. The child who conjectured that the 
stars were but chinks or crannies of heaven, gimlet-holes 
bored in the adamantine firmament to let God s glory 
through ; the prattler who watched the darkening evening 
sky, until, espying the first bright speck through its dusky 
medium, she rapturously exclaimed, " There ! God has made 
a star ! " were happy only in expressing the common im 
pulses of childhood. As all young children are actually the- 
ists, believers in a veritable, personal, conscious, omnis 
cient, omnipotent Author and Ruler of all things, and utterly 
averse to substituting for this natural, tangible conception 
any thin attenuation of Pantheistic fog or "fire-mist," any 
blank Atheistic assumption, which gives to blind Chance or 
inexorable Fate the name of Law, so the uncorrupted child 
instinctively perceives the poetic element in Nature, realizes 
that we are not the mere combinations of gases and alkalies 
to which the chemist s crucible would reduce us, but beings 
of mysterious origin and untold spiritual force, inhabiting a 



POETS AND POETRY. 461 

world only less weird and wondrous than ourselves. The 
Frenchman, who was astounded by the discovery that he had 
been talking prose all his life, might have been equally 
amazed by the assurance that he formerly thought, if he did 
not utter, poetry, and this was as true as the other. Every 
close observer must have noted how naturally the talk of un 
schooled, unspoiled children takes on poetic vestments, be 
comes dramatic not merely, but hyperbolic and imaginative 
in a high degree. Emerson truly says that the first person 
who called another puppy or ass was a poet, perceiving in 
the individual contemplated a spiritual aptitude to bark or 
bray, as the case might be. I only add that the first child 
who ever saw a man making an ass of himself, which, with 
all deference to our common progenitor, I apprehend was the 
first child that ever clearly saw anything whatever, at once 
perceived the spiritual similitude, and probably blurted out 
the ungracious truth. All savage tribes that is, all nations 
still in their mental childhood have a poetic literature, if 
any; their legends, their traditions, their romances, their 
chronicles, are all poetic, alike in substance and in diction. 
Of this truth our Aborigines afford a ready demonstration. 
A stagnant or decrepit race, like the Chinese, may have their 
prosaic ordinances, statutes, records, statistics, philosophies ; 
not so a vigorous, elastic, Teutonic tribe or Saracenic empire. 

Thus we naturally find some of the most admired and re 
markable poems the Book of Job, the Hebrew Psalms, the 
Iliad, and the Bagavhat Geta of the Hindoos dating back to 
the infancy of Society, as the Inferno, and Shakespeare s and 
Milton s masterpieces, ally themselves with the infancy of 
modern civilization, or of the Protestant development thereof. 
We laugh at Nimrod Wildfire and kindred etchings of the 
hyperbolic or exaggerated modes of speech indicative of a 
new country, new, that is, to the race now inhabiting it ; 
the story of a Western soil so fertile that a crowbar, carelessly 
thrust into it overnight, is found bristling with spikes and 
tenpenny nails next morning; of the pumpkin- vine, that 
outran the steed of the rather astonished traveller; of the 



462 MISCELLANIES. 

Vermonter, whose chance companion in the cutter behind a 
rather lively nag at length perplexedly inquired, " What grave 
yard is this we are passing through ? " and was answered, 
" Only the milestones along the road," but a new people 
are irresistibly prone to these exaggerations. The young 
American, who goes abroad, finds himself obliged to moderate 
and tone down his ordinary conversation to adapt it to the 
general level ; to speak of Niagara, or Lake Superior, or the 
glaciers of Switzerland, in the language that rises spontane 
ously to his lips, would jar the nerves of his polished listeners, 
and he would very possibly be reminded, by some highly 
respectable citizen, that the view from the foot of the great 
cataract at Niagara could not possibly be that of a falling 
ocean, since the narrowest ocean is three thousand miles 
across, while Niagara is hardly a mile. The well-bred Eng 
lishman of to-day is so fenced in, incrusted, barricaded, with 
respectabilities, proprieties, decencies, that the poetic element 
nay, even the faculty of appreciating it seems choked 
out of him ; hence, the British poets of to-day find a warmer 
and more general appreciation with us than at home ; and I 
cannot doubt that there are many more Americans than 
Britons familiar with the works of Scott, Byron, and I think 
even Shakespeare. Yet the English are our kinsmen ; equal, 
but dissimilar, in mental capacities and aptitudes, only we 
are still in the poetic phase of our national life, out of which 
they have passed. We are too cultivated and critical to pro 
duce a great epic, our Washington is no Achilles, no Alex 
ander, no demigod, but a sensible, conscientious, conservative 
Virginia planter, heartily loyal to Church and King ; yet one 
whom insane tyranny and regal folly converts at last into a 
rebel, of course, a more formidable rebel than any natural 
agitator, leveller, demagogue, or even philosophizing democrat, 
could be ; for, when he draws the sword against the throne he 
has revered and prayed for from childhood, be sure there are 
not many left to draw for it whose support carries either 
moral weight or physical power the weight of numbers 
along with it. For Washington, though a model man in his 



POETS AND POETRY. 463 

way, is not a representative American. His calm, sedate, 
orderly frame of mind is not that which is habitual with or 
prized by the mass of our people. He is such a man as the 
multitude accept as a leader in a perilous and trying emer 
gency, when they feel a pressing need of the sympathy and 
aid of the solid "men of property and standing" in their 
imminent struggle ; but, had not Washington led the army of 
the Eevolution, he would never have been chosen President ; 
as a plain Virginia gentleman, he would have been beaten in 
a canvass for the Legislature by some Davy Crockett, Sam 
Houston, or Larry Keitt of his day, and would thereupon 
have forsworn politics in disgust, and devoted his after life 
to his family, his farm, and his stock, and been known only 
to a hundred or two of the next generation as an upright 
incorruptible justice of the peace, and a very capable and 
soldierly captain of the militia company of his neighborhood. 
No : Washington, in an age of peace and thrift, would never 
have been "the gray-eyed Man of Destiny," never been 
cheered at the theatre, nor glorified in the star-spangled jour 
nals. We heap such honors on men of a stamp very different 
from his. 

But to return to Poetry. 

The most vulgar error of the vulgar mind with respect to 
Poetry is that which somehow confounds it with verse, and 
even with rhyme ; supposing that a measured distich or qua 
train, ending with words of similar but not identical sound, is 
necessarily poetic. Proud mothers will often draw forth from 
the deepest recess of closet or bureau some metrical effusion 
of budding son or daughter, which is supposed to be instinct 
with poetry, because measured into feet and tagged with 
rhyme ; when in fact there is no more poetry in it than in 
the request, " Pass me the baked potatoes." Rhymed couplets 
of regularly measured and accented lines are a fashion of our 
poetry, but no more essential to it than a silk or fur hat is to 
the character of a gentleman. It is barely possible that the 
child who has an addiction to and knack of making verses 
may nevertheless possess some share of the poetic faculty, 



464 MISCELLANIES. 

the Divine afflatus, but the presumption against it is almost 
overwhelming. The poetic genius naturally disdains the 
fetters of rhyme, or only consents to wear them at the beck 
of stern necessity. To the fresh, unhackneyed soul, kindling 
with rapture inspired by its first perceptions of the beauty 
inhering in the wonder-works of God, rhyme is as unnatural 
and repulsive as the fool s cap and bells. For, not merely is 
it true that there have been great poets who never dreamed 
of such a thing as rhyme, and clever rhymsters who had not 
the faintest conception of poetry, but there have been genuine 
poets who failed miserably as rhyming poetasters. John 
Bunyan, for example, whose Pilgrim s Progress is the epic of 
Methodism, (I know, good reader, that he was not techni 
cally a Methodist, and that I ought to have said Evangeli 
calism, had there been such a word,) and one of the truest, 
if not the greatest, of British poems, wrote hideous doggerel 
whenever he attempted verse, as the introduction to that 
same epic bears testimony. There can hardly be a more 
certain evidence that a child has ceased to be poetic than 
the fact that he has begun to rhyme. 

The oldest and most natural I should rather say, the 
least unnatural form of poetic expression, when poetry- 
ceased to be a purely spontaneous utterance of exalted and 
overmastering emotions, and became, in some sense, an art, 
is that of parallelism, or the expression of the same idea or 
sentiment through two succeeding images or affirmations ; the 
second being merely cumulative or confirmatory of the former. 
The Hebrew Scriptures embody some of the earliest and most 
familiar examples of this parallelism, of which I cite Kuth s 
appeal to Naomi as a beautiful exemplification : 

"And Ruth said: 
* Entreat me not to leave thce, 
Nor to return from following after thee : 
For whither thou goest I will go, 
And where thou lodgest I will lodge : 
Thy people shall be my people, 
And thy God my God : 
Where thou diest will I die, 
And there shall I be buried. " 



POETS AND POETRY. 465 

I am inclined to deem this parallelism, which informs all 
the poetry of the Bible, not exclusively Hebrew, but a mode 
of poetic expression natural to the primitive stages of Society, 
the intellectual puberty of the Eace ; though I at this mo 
ment recall few examples of it outside of Hebrew lore. Mungo 
Park, the explorer of Central Africa, relates that, as he lay 
sick and suffering in the Great Desert, the negro women, who 
mercifully ministered to his sore necessities, gave utterance 
to their sympathy in a rude song, of which the burden ran 
thus : 

" Let us pity the poor white man : 
He has no mother to hring him milk, 
No wife to grind his corn." 

A parallelism as palpable, though not so perfect, as any in 
Job or Ecclesiastes. 

" The Poet," says Emerson, " is the man without impedi 
ment." If so, I apprehend that the Poets of our world s in 
fancy enjoyed certain marked advantages over their modern 
successors. Not only was the whole range of poetic imagery- 
then fresh and unused, so that the bard was never constrained 
to discard a happy simile occurring to his mind because some 
other bard had used it before him, but, moreover, his utter 
ance was nowise impeded or shackled by the necessity of 
obeying the rules or formulae established by preceding bards 
and their critics, for the government of the realm of Poetry. 
If the soul of the universe found expression through his burn 
ing words, if their perusal inspired the reader with a deeper 
and truer perception of the infinite reason which inheres in 
seeming dissonance, as well as obvious harmony and good, 
if he were impelled by it to love and practise virtue, to loathe 
vice, yet pity its victims, and to count nothing a defeat or 
disaster which did not involve a surrender of his own high 
purpose, his generous aspiration for human well-being, then 
was he a true poet, whom the ages were waiting to crown, 
though Fadladeen should demonstrate unanswerably his ig 
norance of the first rudiments of the minstrel s art. But the 
poet of our day must be an obedient vassal to an inexorable 

30 



466 MISCELLANIES. 

rule, must shun ruggedness or wilfulness of expression as 
a mortal sin, must respect the unities, and be loyal to 
rhythm and rhyme, or he cannot induce the critics even to 
blast him with their thunders.. True, a wild colt of a bard- 
ling will now and then revolt against this despotism, and go 
prancing and kicking, and displaying his ill-conditioned, 
shaggy coat across Nature s wide, bare common ; but the 
critical shrug ultimately kills if it does not tame him, and he 
is left but the sorry choice between subsiding into a patient 
dray-horse, and being cut up for dog s meat. MacDonald 
Clarke, twenty years ago, and " Walt. Whitman," just now, 
undertook to be poets in defiance of the canons of the art ; 
but, though the latter received the unmeasured indorsement 
of Emerson, and obtained an immediate currency on the 
strength of it, I doubt whether even he, despite his unques 
tionable originality, and dazzling defiance of what men have 
been accustomed to regard as decency, will ever achieve the 
distinction of being knocked on the head with a volume of 
the Edinburgh Eeview. 

The earliest poets were, I apprehend, the shepherds of 
Arabia, Chaldea, and that westernmost jut of the great Asian 
continent, wherein so large a share of the events memorable 
in Man s history have transpired. All shepherds are natu 
rally poets ; or rather, the loneliness, the silence, and the seri 
ousness, of the shepherd s life naturally predispose him to 
poetry. He is not necessarily and constantly absorbed in his 
daily duties, which yet require of him a wakeful, alert under 
standing, and senses sharpened to acuteness by the necessity 
of keen perception and watchful observation. When at 
length his flock have sunk, at early evening, to rest, and the 
shepherd crouches, wrapped in his blanket-cloak, beside them, 
his mind awakens to a loftier activity ere his senses are sealed 
in slumber : from his mountain-side elevation, he looks abroad 
across rolling river and twinkling city across valleys where 
the fog begins to gather and wooded ridges fluttering in the 
chill nisht-breeze to other mountains, vast and towering as 



POETS AND POETRY. 467 

his own, and to heaven, vaster and higher than them all, and 
the feelings of immensity, of awe, and of reverence are 
stirred within his soul : if of a cold, calculating, mathemati 
cal nature, he becomes an astronomer, and begins to weigh 
the stars in his balance ; if of a fervid, impulsive genius, his 
meditations melt and glow into poetry. From shepherd races 
and shepherd climes have come forth the instructors, con 
querors, bards, and civilizers of the barbarian world. 

But the mountainous ruggedness, the " cloudless climes and 
starry skies," of Chaldea, Syria, and Arabia, so unlike the 
vast plains of Sarmatia and Scythia, are especially favorable 
to the development of the poetic fire ; hence, the Book of Job, 
so manifestly pastoral in its origin as well as its imagery, is 
one of the sublimest, as it probably is the very oldest, of sur 
viving poems. True, the author is palpably a scholar, an ob 
server, a traveller, who has gathered all the world knew in his 
day of astronomic as of terrestrial lore; but his hero is a 
Chaldean or Hebrew herdsman, living by the side of the 
great Arabian desert, and subject to the mischances and sud 
den reverses which constantly threaten and frequently befall 
the shepherds of that region, even in our own day. In its 
magnificent imagery, as well as in its characters and inci 
dents, Job is the simplest and grandest, as well as oldest, of 
pastoral poems. 

A shepherd boy, keeping his flock on the sterile mountains 
of Judea, in constant peril from the savage beasts and not 
less savage men of the desert, " a cunning player on an 
harp," sought out by King Saul s servants to expel the evil 
spirit which had taken possession of their master (alas that 
the evil spirits which gain control of rulers cannot always be 
thus exorcised !), a battler for his race and faith and native 
land, volunteering to encounter, while still a mere lad, the 
giant champion of their mortal foe, and vanquishing him in 
deadly combat, a fugitive from the jealous madness of his 
royal master, into whom the Evil One seems to have again 
entered, and there intrenched -himself beyond dislodgement 



468 MISCELLANIES. 

by the powers of music, a needy and desperate wanderer 
and outlaw for years, carrying his life in his hand, then 
the anointed monarch and idolized hero of his nation, then 
dethroned and put to flight by the ingratitude and perfidy of 
his favorite son and the -fickle levity of his people, again 
restored to a throne of increasing splendor, and dying peace 
fully and regally in extreme old age, at the summit of his 
power and glory, if I were required to name that one who 
of all men had lived the most arduous, stirring, eventful life, 
most full of violent contrasts and trying situations, of love 
and war, of glory and humiliation, I must say, David, king of 
Israel A life so full of absorbing action would seem to give 
little chance for literary culture or achievement ; and yet this 
warrior king, who could not be permitted to build the Great 
Temple to his God, because he had been a man of violence 
and blood, has bequeathed us so many Psalms in which the 
waiting, contrite souls of ages so remote and races so diverse 
as ours from his find a fuller and fitter expression of their 
aspirations and their needs than all the piety and genius of 
intervening ages have been able to indite. Yes, this untaught 
shepherd son of Jesse, this leader in many a sanguinary fight, 
this man of a thousand faults and many crimes, knew how 
to sweep the chords of the human heart as few or none have 
ever touched them before or since, to take that heart, with 
all its frailty, its error, its sin, and lay it penitently, plead 
ingly, at the footstool of its Maker and Judge, and teach it 
bywhat utterances, in what spirit, to implore forgiveness and 
help. Other thrones have their successions, dynasties, their 
races of occupants ; but David reigns unchallenged King 
of Psalmody till Time shall be no more. 

Of Greek Poetry I have a right to say but little. The 
general impression it makes on me is that of youthfulness on 
the part of its authors. The most learned among us do not 
know those old Greeks very well ; and I am often impelled to 
wonder whether the versatile, elastic, cheating, unreliable 
Greeks of our day are not lineal descendants, not of the 



POETS AND POETRY. 469 

Spartans, perhaps, but of the Athenians and Argives of old ; 
whether the latter did not hate work and love profit as much 
as the Fanariote or the Greek trader of our time ; nay, 
whether the Spartans themselves, plus a few satisfactory 
floggings, are not reproduced in the warrior mountaineers of 
Albania and the fierce robber bands which infest the passes 
and plains of Thessaly. True, the Athenian of to-day is 
behind the citizens of Western Europe in culture, in courage, 
and in most manly virtues ; but may he not be as far in 
advance of the Western Asiatic of Xerxes or Darius s reign 
as were the countrymen of Miltiades or Alexander ? Europe 
north of the Alps has unquestionably advanced; may not 
Greece have simply stood still, instead of retrograding ? The 
solution of this doubt is to be found, not in the prowess nor 
the physical achievements of the old Greeks, but in their 
literature, arid especially their tragedy. 

The Greek epic held substantially the place of the modern 
novel ; I cannot so confidently say that the novel fills the 
place of the epic. The epic embodied and presented human 
life under its more heroic and majestic aspects, the life of 
the patriot, ready to seal his devotion with his blood. Greek 
life, as depicted by Homer, is rude and sterile ; its pleasures, 
gross and sensual ; its gods, men and women endowed with 
supernatural powers, but not at all distinguished by super 
natural virtues. It would be very rash in me to pronounce 
Homer monotonous, and at times tedious, when the scholars, 
who know him so much better, say exactly the reverse ; so I 
will not hazard the criticism, though I shall privately cherish 
my own opinion. I wonder if any one else ever detected or 
fancied a resemblance between the roll of Homer s heroes and 
Catlin s gallery of Indian portraits ? 

The Epic is the utterance of a ruder age than ours. The 
scholar still praises it, he thinks he delights in it, but it 
is the delight of association, of comparison, of remembrance, 
not of direct and simple enjoyment. Who ever heard of an 
edition of the Iliad in translation being required by the un- 
classical youth of Great Britain, of this or of any other mod- 



470 MISCELLANIES. 

ern country ? I apprehend that, for each copy of any great 
epic to be found in the hands or under the pillow of the 
youth in all our common schools, you may find ten copies 
of the Arabian Nights or of certain of Dickens s Novels. 
Only by those who have. been impelled to study them as a 
task are the great epics still read ; and by these rather as a 
habit or duty than as a genuine pleasure. 

Yet we must be grateful to the creators of the Epic, since 
to them are we indebted, by direct transmission, by lineal 
descent, for Tragedy, the broadest, the deepest, the most vivid, 
expression of human emotions and aspirations. ^Eschylus 
is the true child of Homer, and that grand Athenian stage 
whereon the passions, the impulses, the hopes, the fears, the 
love, piety, guilt, revenge, remorse, which make up our 
strangely compounded Human Nature, were depicted so in 
tensely as never before nor since, was the outgrowth of those 
lofty and stirring narrations wherewith " that blind old man 
from Scio s rocky isle" was wont to beguile the hours and in 
spire the hearts of the ancestors of Pericles and Plato. From 
the goat-song of the Mime, the cart of Thespis, the rude 
chant of the ballad-singer, the monologue of the legendary, 
the dialogue of the satirist, was rapidly elaborated that 
shapely and towering fabric of Grecian Tragedy which must 
awe, delight, and instruct mankind through ages yet to be. ^ 

The argument of Tragedy is the struggle of Man with Mis 
fortune, the spectacle of Virtue enduring the buffets of Ad 
versity, and of Crime overtaken by the shafts of Eetribution. 
But Greek Tragedy essayed a loftier flight than ours, and pre 
sented the suffering but undaunted human soul enduring and 
defying the bolts of Fate, the anger of the immortal gods. 
We see there Guilt hurried irresistibly to its awful doom, - 
inexorable Nemesis visiting the punishment of evil deeds 
even upon the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 
evil-doer, the fair, the gentle, and the good, bowing to the 
destiny invoked by the sin of some progenitor, and this is 
not unlike what experience and literature have elsewhere 
made familiar ; but Prometheus, chained to his rock and suf- 



POETS AND POETRY. 471 

fering the tortures of the damned for having dared to 
enlighten and bless mankind, yet calm-souled and defiant, 
awaiting the unknown but inevitable hour which shall de 
throne his jealous and fearful Olympian tyrant, and bring 
him deliverance and recompense, this is a conception peculiar 
to Greek Tragedy, and the lesson of stoical endurance and 
intellectual force taught by it is without a modern parallel. 
Nor must we rashly conclude that the great tragic poets were 
irreverent or hostile to the religion of their age and race. 
Behind the fable of Prometheus rests the grand, eternal truth, 
that all the forces of the universe are subject to the moral 
law; that Good is the measure and true end of Power; 
that tyranny and cruelty would still be what they, are if 
their responsible author were armed with celestial thunders ; 
that, if there could be a more benignant and just being 
than the Deity, that being would then be God. 

Let me venture to cite one passage from the Agamemnon 
of ^Eschylus as rendered by Bulwer in his Athens, not one 
characteristic of Greek Tragedy, but one which the reader of 
poetry will readily contrast with familiar passages of Scott 
and Byron. It is that in which Clytemnestra announces to 
the chorus the glad tidings of the capture of Troy, said ti 
dings having been transmitted by the good old fire-telegraph 
of primitive times : 

" A gleam, a gleam from Ida s height, 

By the fire-god sent, it came ; 
From watch to watch it leaped, that light, 

As a rider rode the flame ! 
It shot through the startled sky, 

And the torch of that blazing glory 
Old Lemnos caught on high, 

On its holy promontory, 
And sent it on, the jocund sign, 

To Athos, mount of Jove divine. 
Wildly the while it rose from the isle, 

So that the might of the journeying light 
Skimmed over the back of the gleaming brine ! 

Farther and faster speeds it on, 
Till the watch that keep Macistus steep, 

See it burst like a blazing sun ! 



472 MISCELLANIES. 

Doth Macistus sleep 

On his tower-clad steep? 
No ! rapid and red doth the wild-fire sweep. 
It flashes afar on the wayward stream 
Of the wild Euripus, the rushing beam ! 
It rouses the light on Messapion s height, 
And they feed its breath with the withered heath. 
But it may not stay ! 
And away, away, 
It bounds in its freshening might. 
Silent and soon, 
Like a broadened moon, 
It passes in sheen, Asopus green, 
And bursts on Cithseron gray. 
The warder wakes to the signal rays, 
And it swoops from the hill with a broader blaze, 
On on the fiery glory rode; 
Thy lonely lake, Gorgopis, glowed, 
To M6gara s mount it came ; 
They feed it again, 
And it streams amain, 
A giant beard of flame ! 
The headlong cliffs that darkly down 
O er the Saronic waters frown, 
Are passed with the swift one s lurid stride, 
And the huge rock glares on the glaring tide, 
With mightier march and fiercer power 
It gained Arachne s neighboring tower, 
Thence on our Argive roof its rest it won, 
Of Ida s fire the long-descended son ! 
Bright harbinger of glory and of joy ! 
So first and last, with equal honor crowned, 
In solemn feasts, the race-torch circles round. 
And these my heralds ! this my Sign of Peace ! 
Lo ! while we breathe, the victor lords of Greece 
Stalk, in stern tumult, through the halls of Troy ! " 

The Eomans were never a poetic people. Epicureans, who 
philosophized in verse, like Horace; biting satirists, like 
Juvenal ; happy weavers into verse of legendary lore, like 
Virgil, the Longfellow of that sole age, the Augustan, in 
which Eoman literature seems to have been at all worthy of 
the mistress of the civilized world ; concise, critical, caustic, 
pains-taking annalists the Romans were, but not poets. Their 
best metrical productions have a second-hand flavor; they 
smell of the lamp ; they would have been different, or never 
have been at all, had there been no Greece. 



POETS AND POETRY. 473 

Brownson says certain ages are termed Dark, because we 
are in the dark with regard to them. Those who will may 
assign a kindred reason for my assumption, that there was no 
poetry worth treasuring and praising written between the 
Augustan age and the time of Dante, and that one needs to 
be at least as good a Catholic as Dante to appreciate and 
enjoy the Inferno. 

When I assume that English Poetry for us begins with 
Shakespeare, I must not be misunderstood. That there is 
merit of a certain kind in Chaucer, in Spenser, and other 
British rhymers before the age of Queen Bess, is of course 
manifest. But who in our day ever sat down to read Chaucer 
or Spenser otherwise than as a task, something requisite to 
a competent knowledge of English literature ? For my part, 
I say frankly that I hold The Faery Queene a bore, and never 
had patience to complete its perusal. Its allegorical repre 
sentations of our good and evil impulses are tedious, fantastic, 
unreal, insufferable. They probably instructed and delighted 
the generation for which they were written ; but their fra 
grance has departed. Lay them respectfully, tenderly down 
to their long rest, and let the gathering dust slowly bury 
them out of sight ! 

But of that vast, " myriad-minded " Shakespeare, what 
shall I say ? True, I do not love him ; but do I the less ap 
preciate and admire his intellectual force and grandeur ? Be 
cause I profoundly hate his Toryism, shall I disparage his 
unquestioned and, in its way unequalled, genius ? Because I 
am compelled to perceive that his jokes are often sorry and 
his puns mainly detestable, must I be presumed to deny that 
his humor is delicious and his imaginative faculty beyond 
that of any other mortal ? By no means. 

I am provoked by his ingrain Toryism, because it seems at 
once unnatural and irrational. I will not deny that the mass 
of men are base, possibly as base as he represents them, 
I will only insist that there are capacities, possibilities, in this 
abused nature of ours, beyond our actual achievement, or be 
yond his apprehension of that achievement. Even if it were 



474 MISCELLANIES. 

otherwise, he, a child of the people, the son of a woollen- 
draper, should not have been first to discover and proclaim 
the deplorable fact. Yet, no autocrat born in the purple nour 
ished a more profound contempt for the rabble, the canaille, 
the oi polloi, than this vagabond by statute and venison-thief 
by conviction. In his game, only the court-cards count ; all the 
rest go for nothing. We, the untitled, undistinguished masses, 
are not merely clowns and poltroons, fit only for butts for 
knightly jests, and hardly good enough to be meat for knightly 
swords, but there is a constant, though quiet, assumption that 
this, as it ever has been, must continue to be forever. You 
would naturally suppose that grandest event in modern his 
tory, the discovery of the Western continent, which was still 
recent in his day, and which must have been the theme of 
many a conversation in his presence among the Kaleighs, 
Drakes, and other daring spirits of that stirring time, who 
had personally visited the New World, would have inspired 
even in his breast some hope of a fairer future for Humanity 
on earth, some aspiration, at least, for a Social Order wherein 
Kank and Wealth should not be everything, and Man nothing, 
but no : I cannot recall even a passing allusion to America, 
save that most inaccurate one, " the still vext Bermoothes," 
and never once an intimation, a suspicion, that the common 
lot might be meliorated through the influence of the settle 
ment and civilization of this side of the globe. Of course, 
the actor-manager-author meant no disrespect to us Anglo- 
Americans in prospect, nor yet to our Franco- American neigh 
bors just north, nor to the Spanish and Portuguese Americans 
south of us ; it was only a way he had of viewing everything 
with an eye which, though it oft, " in fine frenzy rolling," 
might " glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven," 
never penetrated laterally much beyond the fogs of Lon 
don and the palace of Whitehall, and not only saw in the mil 
lion merely the counters wherewith kings and nobles played 
their gallant game, but refused to see in them the possibility 
of becoming anything better. 

WTiether Shakespeare the monarchist or Milton the repub- 



POETS AND POETRY. 475 

lican were intellectually the greatest Englishman who ever 
lived, I will not judge ; but none can doubt that, morally, 
Milton was by far the superior. His purity of life and noble 
ness of aim ; his constancy to the republican cause after it 
had been irretrievably ruined ; in short, his every act and 
word, prove his immeasurably the nobler nature. Shake 
speare, the Tory and Courtier, had he lived an age later, 
could never have dared and suffered for his convictions as 
Milton did for his. Nor, though he has written many finer 
passages, which have found ten times as many delighted 
readers as aught of Milton s has found, or perhaps will ever 
find, can I recall one passage from Shakespeare, which does 
his manhood such honor as is reflected on Milton s by his two 
sonnets on his blindness, which, however familiar, I shall 
make no apology for citing : 

ON HI S BLINDNE S S. 

When I consider how my light is spent 

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, 

And that one talent which is death to hide, 

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent 

To serve therewith my Maker, and present 

My true account, lest he returning chide; 

" Doth God exact day-labor, light denied ? " 

I fondly ask : But Patience, to prevent 

That murmur, soon replies, " God doth not need 

Either man s work or His own gifts ; who best 

Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best : His state 

Is kingly ; thousands at His bidding speed, 

And post o er land and ocean without rest ; 

They also serve who only stand and wait." 



TO CYRIAC SKINNER. 

Cyriac, this three years, day these eyes, though clear, 

To outward view, of blemish or of spot, 

Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot, 

Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear 

Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year, 

Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not 



476 MISCELLANIES. 

Against Heaven s hand or will, nor bate a jot 

Of heart or hope ; but still bear up and steer 

Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask 1 

The conscience, Friend, t have lost them overplied 

In Liberty s defence, my noble task, 

Of which all Europe rings from side to side. 

This thought might lead me through the world s vain mask 

Content, though blind, had I no better guide. 

Such sentiments, not only uttered but lived, the efflux of 
a serene, majestic soul, which calamity could not daunt, nor 
humiliation depress, not merely honor our common nature, 
they exalt and ennoble it. Shakespeare could no more have 
written thus of himself than Milton could have created and 
gloated over the character of Falstaff. 

Of later English poets, prior to those of the reign of George 
III., I regard Pope alone as deserving of remark ; and he mainly 
because of the unmeasured eulogies of Byron and others, who 
certainly should be judges of poetry. For myself, while 
esteeming him a profound philosopher and moralist, and the 
king of verse-makers, I should hardly account him a poet at 
all. " The Eape of the Lock " is undoubtedly a clever poem 
of the slighter or secondary order ; but very much of Pope s 
verse, had it been cast in the mould of prose, would never 
have struck us as essentially poetic. For all the poetry they 
contain, some of his satirical verses might better have taken 
the form of prose, not to speak of those which, for the sake of 
decency, had better not been written at all. And so I say of 
Goldsmith, Thomson, Cowper, Young, and their British co- 
temporaries : they understood the knack of verse-writing ; 
they did well what they undertook ; their effusions " The 
Deserted Village," especially may still be read with a mild 
and temperate enjoyment ; but a thousand such bards would 
never have created a National Poetry, never have produced 
anything which other nations would eagerly translate and 
delightedly treasure. Essentially, they are not poets, but essay 
ists, sometimes moralists or sermonizers ; at others, romancers 
or story-tellers ; but they produced nothing which mankind 



POETS AND POETRY. 477 

could not easily spare. Let them glimmer awhile in their 
decent, inoffensive mediocrity, then sink into a kind oblivion. 

The credit of ushering in the brightest era of British Poetry 
belongs to the Scotch ploughman and rustic, Eobert Burns. 
This man of many faults and sins, who little deemed himself 
summoned to do the work of a literary reformer, was yet fated 
to brush aside the sickly sentimentalisms and fantastic con 
ceits of an artificial age, and teach Poetry to speak once more 
to the soul in accents of Truth and Nature. At the sound of 
his honest, manly, burly voice, the nymphs and goddesses, the 
Chloes and Strephons, of a dawdling and unreal generation 
vanished, and Poetry once more spoke from heart to heart in 
her own unmuffled, undisguised voice, and was joyfully recog 
nized and welcomed. I know that citations may be made 
from Burns which would seem to contradict this statement ; 
but they prove only that he was at times fitfully ensnared by 
the Delilahs whose sorceries he was nevertheless destined to 
vanquish and conclude. " A man s a man for a that," " The 
Twa Dogs," " The Cottar s Saturday Night," and many more 
such, will for generations be read and admired in the gas- 
lighted drawing-room, and by the log-cabin fireside, as vindi 
cations of the essential and proper nobility of Human Nature, 
and of the truth that virtue and vice, worth and worthlessness, 
fame and shame, are divided by no pecuniary, no social, line 
of demarcation, but may each be found in the palace and in 
the hovel, under the casque of a noble or the cap of a boor. 
In the character and works of Kobert Burns is the first answer 
of the dumb millions to the taunts and slurs of Shakespeare. 

The great French Eevolution if I should not rather say, 
the great mental world -re volution which preceded and im 
pelled the French ushered in a new era in Literature, and 
especially in Poetry. Burns was the herald or forerunner of 
this era, but he did not live to mark its advent. 

I do not rank Walter Scott with the poets of our century. 
Though chronologically his place is among them, he belongs 



478 MISCELLANIES. 

essentially to another epoch, or at least to the period of tran 
sition. The morning-star of this era was Keats ; its lurid and 
oft-clouded sun was Byron. Keats was a dreamy and sensi 
tive youth, whose soul found in poetry its natural expression ; 
but who had not attained the maturity of his genius, the per 
fection of his utterance, when a harsh and withering criticism 
killed him. Byron was a wild and dissolute young lord, who 
had made one tolerably good, and many weak, if not inexcus 
ably bad, attempts at poetry, when a severe but just critique 
stung him to madness, and his wrath and bitterness flashed 
and glowed into enduring verse. His indignation was vol 
canic ; but the lava it ejected was molten gold, sulphurous, 
as volcanic discharges are apt to be. As the death-freighted 
thunderbolt, which often stuns and slays, has been known to 
unseal the ears of the deaf and the reason of the idiot, so the 
harsh discipline which crushed the poet Keats made a poet 
of the second-rate poetaster Byron. 

When I assign to Byron a very high, if not the highest, 
place among modern English poets, I will only ask those who 
differ from me to instance another whose writings have been 
so widely read, or have exerted so marked an influence on the 
age in which they appeared and the generation then in their 
teens. I do not commend that influence, I realize that it 
does not, on the whole, conduce to a more confiding faith in 
either God or man. Byron s poems, equally with his life, 
letters, and conversation, excuse, if they do not justify, De 
Stael s savage characterization, " He is a demon." Eead Cain 
and Manfred considerately, then take up Goethe s "Faust," 
and study the rdle of Mephistopheles, and you will be tempted 
to guess, since Goethe could not well have modelled his 
demon after Byron s life, that Byron must have modelled his 
character on that of Goethe s devil. 

It would be a difficult task to write an honest life of Byron 
that would be adapted to the use of Sunday schools, unless 
you were to do as he promised in the opening of Don Juan, 
but failed to perform, when he gave out that his story would 
be a moral one, because, before he ended it, he meant 



POETS AND POETRY. 479 

" to show 
The very place where wicked people go." 

Yes, this sceptical, cynical, irreverent, law-deriding libertine 
Byron has made his mark deeply on our century, and not 
wholly for evil. His honest, profound, implacable hatred of 
tyranny in every shape, where has it been surpassed, either 
in intensity or in efficacy ? Do you believe Holy Inquisitions 
and other machinery for torturing and killing men and women 
for the honest avowal of their religious convictions could 
endure another year, if every one had read " The Prisoner of 
Chillon ? " You or I may loathe his way of looking at the 
great problem of Evil ; but tell me who ever presented the 
argument against what is currently termed the Evangelical 
view of this problem more tersely, strongly, startlingly, than 
he has done in " Cain, a Mystery " ? And his remark that, 
" if Satan is to be allowed to talk at all, you must not expect 
him to talk like a clergyman," is obviously just. You must 
let him fairly present his view of " the great argument," as 
Milton does not, as Byron does, but with too manifest a lean 
ing to the infernal side. Bind up " Paradise Lost " and 
" Cain " in one volume, and you will have therein the best 
condensed statement of the pro and con of the theology cur 
rently accounted Orthodox or Evangelical that can be found 
in the English language. 

I think Moore has somewhere said before me, that the 
Third Canto of Childe Harold contains some of the noblest 
poetry we have. Waterloo, the Alpine thunder-storm, and 
scores of passages equally vivid, will at once present them 
selves to the reader s mind. " Description is my forte," said 
Byron ; and Bayard Taylor, sailing through the Adriatic and 
the jEgean, along the rugged coast of Dalmatia, and among 
the ruin-strown, yet flower-mantled, "Isles of Greece," re 
marks that he finds himself continually recalling or repeating 
the descriptive stanzas of Childe Harold, suggested by a 
similar voyage ; for nothing else could so truly, forcibly, aptly, 
embody his own impressions and emotions. Kemember that 
Homer and .^Eschylus had gazed on much of this same pano- 



480 MISCELLANIES. 

rama, and written from minds full of the thoughts it excited, 
and you are prepared to estimate the tribute paid by our 
American traveller to the genius of Byron. Let me quote one 
familiar passage how could I quote any that is not familiar? 
-from Manfred. I cite that respecting the Coliseum, be 
cause, having myself seen the moon rise through its ruined 
arches while Italian devotees were praying and chanting 
within, and French cavalry prancing and manoeuvring with 
out, its enormous walls, I feel its force more vividly than 
though I had seen this mightiest monument of ancient Eome 
in imagination only. Yet what could I say of that grandest 
of ruins to equal this ? 

" MANFRED. 

" The stars are forth, the moon above the tops 
Of the snow-shining mountains. Beautiful ! 
I linger yet with Nature, for the night 
Hath been to me a more familiar face 
Than that of man ; and in her starry shade 
Of dim and solitary loveliness, 
I learned the language of another world. 
I do remember me, that in my youth, 
When I was wandering, upon such a night 
I stood within the Coliseum s walls, 
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome ; 
The trees which grew along the broken arches 
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars 
Shone through the rents of ruin : from afar, 
The watch-dog bayed beyond the Tiber ; and, 
More near, from out the Caesars palace came 
The owl s long crv, and, interruptedly, 
Of distant sentinels the fitful song 
Began and died upon the gentle wind. 
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach 
Appeared to skirt the horizon ; yet they stood 
Within a bowshot. Where the Caesars dwelt, 
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst 
A grove which springs through level battlements, 
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths, 
Ivy usurps the laurel s place of growth; 
But the gladiator s bloody circus stands, 
A noble wreck, in ruinous perfection ! 
While Caesar s chambers, and the Augustan halls, 
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay. 
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon 



POETS AND POETRY. 481 

All this, and cast a wide and tender light, 
Which softened down the hoar austerity 
Of rugged desolation, and filled up, 
As t were anew, the gaps of centuries ; 
Leaving that beautiful which still was so, 
And making that which was not, till the place 
Became religion, and the heart ran o er 
"With silent worship of the great of old ! 
The dead but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule 
Our spirits from their urns." 



Of Coleridge, Southey, Campbell, Eogers. and other co- 
temporaries of Byron, Wordsworth excepted, I shall say very 
little. Each did some things well ; but, beyond a few stirring 
lyrics by Campbell, and perhaps the Christabel and Gene- 
vieve of Coleridge, I think our literature could spare them all 
without irreparable damage. 

Wordsworth s ultimate triumph is a striking proof of the 
virtue of tenacity. Here is a studious, meditative man, of no 
remarkable original powers, who quietly says to himself, " In 
tensity of expression, vehemence of epithet, volcanic passion, 
profusion of superlatives, are out of place in Poetry, which 
should embody the soul s higher and purer emotions in the 
simplest and directest terms which the language affords." So 
he begins to write and the critics to jeer, but he calmly per 
severes ; and, when it is settled that he won t stop writing, the 
critics conclude to stop jeering, and at length admit that he 
was a poet all the while, but that their false canons or per 
verted tastes precluded their discovery of the fact for a quar 
ter of a century. I do not accept Wordsworth s theory, I 
believe there are ten persons born each year who are fitted to 
derive both pleasure and instruction from the opposite school 
to one who can really delight in and profit by the bare, tame 
affirmations which are characteristic of Wordsworth (for he, 
like the founders of other schools, is not always loyal to his 
own creed), but that Wordsworth s protest against the in 
tensity of the Byronic school was needed and wholesome, I 
cannot doubt. 

Yet it was not Wordsworth, not " the Lake school," as it 

31 



482 MISCELLANIES. 

was oddly designated, that led and inspired the reaction 
against " the Satanic school," so called, of Poetry, by which 
the later morning of the XlXth century was so mildly irra 
diated. The credit of that reaction is primarily due to a 
woman, to Felicia Hemans. When Byron, still young, was 
dying in Greece of disappointment, and the remorse which a 
wasted life engenders, she was just rising into fame among 
the purest and happiest homes of England, like a full moon 
rising calmly, sweetly, at the dewy close of a torrid and tem 
pestuous day. It was her influence that hushed the troubled 
waves of doubt and defiance and unrest, and soothed the 
heaving breast into renewed and trusting faith in virtue, eter 
nity, and God. 

I apprehend that Mrs. Hemans finds fewer readers, with far 
fewer profound admirers, to-day than she had thirty years 
ago ; and in this fact there is a strong presumption that we, 
who so admired her then, assigned her a higher station than 
her writings will maintain. A pure and lovely woman, un 
happy in her domestic relations, and nobly struggling by lit 
erature to siibsist and educate her children, is very apt to 
arouse a chivulry, among readers not only, but critics, that is 
unfavorable to sternness of judgment. I would gladly be 
lieve that the girls of 1868 read Mrs. Hemans as generally, 
and esteem her as highly, as their mothers did in their girl 
hood ; but I fear their brothers, for the most part, neither 
read nor admire her. Let me venture, therefore, for the sake 
of my older readers, to cite one of her minor poems, which 
must recall to many minds hours of pure and tranquil pleas 
ure passed in the perusal of the author s fresh effusions. For 
ty years ago, had you opened a thousand American weekly 
newspapers, presuming that so many then existed, you 
would have found the " Poet s Corner " of at least one third 
of them devoted to one of the latest productions of Mrs. 
Hemans, and not one fourth so many given up to the verses 
of any other person whatever. Now, you might open three 
thousand journals without discovering therein even her name. 
Bryant, Tennyson, Longfellow, Whittier, Lowell, Holmes, now 



POETS AND POETRY. 483 

fill her accustomed place ; as, forty years hence, alas ! some 
fresher favorites will fill their places. So flows and ebbs this 
transitory world ! But let not us, her old admirers, suffer her 
name to drift by us into Oblivion s murky sea without a part 
ing cup of remembrance. We will recall 

THE ADOPTED CHILD. 

" Why wouldst thou leave me, O gentle child ? 
Thy home on the mountain is bleak and wild, 
A straw-roofed cabin, with lowly wall ; 
Mine is a fair and pillared hall, 
Where many an image of marble gleams, 
And the sunshine of picture forever streams." 

" 0, green is the turf where my brothers play, 

Through the long, bright hours of the Summer s day ! 

They find the red cup-moss where they climb, 

And they chase the bee o er the scented thyme, 

And the rocks where the heath-flower blooms they know ; 

Lady, kind lady, O let me go." 

" Content thee, boy ! in my bower to dwell ; 
Here are sweet sounds which thou lovest well : 
Flutes on the air in the stilly noon, 
Harps which the wandering breezes tune, 
And the silvery wood-note of many a bird, 
Whose voice was ne er in thy mountain heard." 

" O ! my mother sings at the twilight s fall, 
A song of the hills far more sweet than all ; 
She sings it under our own green tree, 
To the babe half slumbering on her knee ; 
I dreamt last night of that music low, 
Lady, kind lady ! O, let me go." 

" Thy mother is gone from her cares to rest ; 
She hath taken the babe on her quiet breast ; 
Thou wouldst meet her footstep, my boy, no more, 
Nor hear her song at the cabin door. 
Come thou with me to the vineyards nigh, 
And we 11 pluck the grapes of the richest dye." 

" Is my mother gone from her home away ? 
But I know that my brothers are there at play : 
I know they are gathering the foxglove s bell, 
Or the long fern-leaves by the sparkling well ; 



484 MISCELLANIES. 

Or they launch their boats where the bright streams flow, 
Lady, kind lady ! O, let me go." 

" Fair child, thy brothers are wanderers now; 
They sport no more on the mountain s brow ; 
They have left the fern by the spring s green side, 
And the streams where the fairy barks were tied. 
Be thou at peace in thv brighter lot ; 
For thy cabin home is a lonely spot." 

" Are they gone, all gone, from the sunny hill ? 
But the bird and the blue-fly rove over it still ; 
And the red-deer bound in their gladness free ; 
And the heath is bent bv the singing bee, 
And the waters leap, and the fresh winds blow : 
Lady, kind lady ! O, let me go ! " 

I do not know how many ever suspected, during his life, 
that THOMAS HOOD was a poet of rare and lofty powers. I 
apprehend, however, that they were, at least till near the close 
of his career, a " judicious few," fewer, even, than the judi 
cious are apt to be. For this true bard was nevertheless a 
man, though delicate in frame, and for the most part frail 
in health, he had physical needs, more than all, he had a 
wife and children, who looked to him for daily bread, and 
must not look in vain. Poet as he was, he knew that man 
kind not only stone their prophets before building their tombs, 
but starve their poets before glorifying them ; and he declined 
to sacrifice his children s bread to his own glory. The world 
would not pay cash down for poems, but freely would for fun ; 
so he chose to mint his golden fancies into current coin that 
would pass readily at the grocer s and baker s, rather than 
fashion it daintily into cameos and filigree-work, which he 
must have pledged at ruinous rates with the pawnbroker. 
And we, generation of blockheads ! thought him a rare buf 
foon, because he sported the cap and bells in our presence, 
knowing this, though by no means the best thing he could do, 
decidedly that for which we would pay him best. If his 
" Whims and Oddities " imply the degradation of a great fac 
ulty, is not the fault, the shame, rather ours than his ? If 
a modern Orpheus could only find auditors by fiddling for 



POETS AND POETRY. 485 

bacchanal dancers in bar-rooms, could we justly reproach him 
for his vulgar tastes and low associations ? 

We who so long read and laughed at Hood s puns and 
quips, read and only laughed, when we should have thought 
and sighed, we might have seen, if we had sought instruc 
tion, and not mere recreation, that a great moralist, teacher, 
philanthropist; an earnest hater of tyranny and wrong; a 
warrior, with Damascus blade, on cant, and meanness, and 
servility, was addressing us in parables which were only 
wasted, as others parables have been, because our ears were 
too gross, our understandings too dull and sordid, to perceive, 
or even seek, their deeper meaning. We might have discerned 
the lesson, but did not, because the laugh sufficed us. 

Have I seemed to regret or condemn the law whereby the 
true poet is divorced from the hope of gain by his faculty ? 
I surely did not mean it. Wisely, kindly devised is that 
Divine ordinance, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." 
The law is steadfast and eternal, the seeming exceptions 
few and factitious. The greatest benefactors of mankind have 
waited till after death for the recognition of their work and 
their worth. If to speak the highest truths and do the noblest 
deeds were the sure way to present fame and pelf, what merit 
would there be in virtue, what place for heroism on earth ? 
If Poetry were the Pennsylvania Avenue to fortune and pres 
ent fame, how could our earth upbear the burden of her 
poets ? No : it were better for Poetry that there had never 
been a Copyright Law, so that the Poet s utterances were 
divorced from all hope of pecuniary recompense. We should 
then have had far fewer poems, perhaps, but not half the 
trouble in unburying them from the avalanche of pretentious 
rhythmical rubbish whereby they are overlaid and concealed. 
Let aspiring youth evermore understand that writing Poetry 
is not among the Divinely appointed means for overcoming 
a dearth of potatoes. I do not say that potatoes were never 
gained in this way, though I doubt that any were ever thus 
earned. Be this as it may, I am quite sure that no one ever 
undertook to write Poetry for potatoes, to satisfy his per- 



486 MISCELLANIES. 

sonal need of potatoes by writing Poetry, who thereby truly 
succeeded. He may have achieved the potatoes, but not the 
Poetry. So Hood did manfully and well in writing " Whims 
and Oddities" for a livelihood, and Poetry for fame alone. 
Do you suppose the hope of money could ever have impelled 
any man to write " The Song of the Shirt " ? 

Let us refresh our remembrance of him with the simplest 
and best-known of his minor effusions, one ten thousand 
times quoted, familiar to almost every school-child, yet not 
worn out, because it cannot be : 

I BEMEMBEB, I REMEMBEB. 

I remember, I remember 
The house where I was born, 
The little window where the sun 
Came peeping in at morn ; 
He never came a wink too soon, 
Nor brought too long a day ; 
But now I often wish the night 
Had borne my breath away ! 

I remember, I remember 

The roses, red and white, 

The violets, and the lily-cups, 

Those flowers made of light ! 

The lilacs where the robin built, 

And where my brother set 

The laburnum on his birthday, 

The tree is living yet ! 

I remember, I remember 

Where I was used to swing, 

And thought the air must rush as fresh 

To swallows on the wing ; 

My spirit flew in feathers then, 

That is so heavy now, 

And summer-pools could hardly cool 

The fever on my brow ! 

I remember, I remember 

The fir-trees dark and high ; 

I used to think their slender tops 

Were close against the sky. 

Tt was a childish ignorance, 

But now t is little joy 

To know I m farther off from heaven 

Than when I was a boy. 



POETS AND POETRY. 487 

How many years is it since he who is England s Laureate 
first dawned upon us ? It seems to me scarcely twenty ; yet 
he must have been writing and printing for nearly twice that 
period. It is a slow as well as arduous labor for even excel 
lence to make itself felt across an ocean ; yet I believe there 
are to-day as many Americans as Englishmen who honor and 
delight in the poems of Alfred Tennyson. One of their best 
characteristics is the carefulness, the evident labor and ex 
treme polish, with which they are produced. After thirty years 
devoted to Poetry, almost exclusively, I believe, his writ 
ings may all be compressed within a moderate volume. In 
an age when many a by no means old man has turned out 
his twenty volumes, and many a Miss in her teens has nearly 
finished her third novel, this is a virtue indeed to be com 
mended. To one who has achieved the public ear for 
whose future issues eager publishers have checks of generous 
amount ready to be exchanged for the unread manuscript 
the temptation to overwrite is hard to be resisted. Poets 
are popularly supposed to be, as a class, neither rich nor 
frugal ; the more honor, then, to one who refuses to dilute his 
nectar like a milkman to whom the pump is convenient. I 
was deeply interested in Bayard Taylor s anecdote of the 
German poet Uhland, when in a green old age, who, to the 
traveller s natural inquiry as to what work he was now com 
posing or meditating, replied that he had not recently felt 
constrained to write anything, in other words, that nothing 
now pressed upon his mind for utterance with irresistible 
force. Would that authors, as a class, could truly say that 
they write only under the spur of thoughts burning for ex 
pression, not of appetites clamoring for satisfaction. 

Though Tennyson has written sparingly, he has yet covered 
much ground. " In Memoriam," " The Princess," " Maud," 
- 1 hardly know who in our day has produced three poems 
so unlike, yet each so excellent. " In Memoriam " is prob 
ably the best expression of a profound and lasting, yet tem 
perate and submissive, sorrow to be found in our language. 
Yet his minor poems had made him a world- wide reputation 



488 MISCELLANIES. 

made him the Queen s Laureate before one of these was 
written, at least before it was published. And they are 
worthy of their fame. So rich and pure in imagery, so 
dainty and felicitous in expression, so musical and mel 
lifluous in their rhythm and cadence, they are rightly 
ranked among the gems of English literature. Let me cite a 
part of one of them which is not the most popular, but which 
seems to me among the happiest. The fable, if fable it be, 
that eating the lotus brings forgetfulness of care, answering 
almost to the old Greek s draught from Lethe, is not novel ; 
but who before has ever treated it so well as this ? 

THE LOTUS-EATERS. 

i. 

" Courage ! " he said, and pointed tow rd the strand ; 
" This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon/ 
In the afternoon, they came unto a land 
In which it seeme d always afternoon. 
All round the coast, the languid air did swoon, 
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream. 
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon ; 
And, like a downward smoke, the slender stream 
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem. 

n. 

A land of streams ! some, like a downward smoke, 

Slow-dropping vails of thinnest lawn, did go ; 

And some through wav ring lights and shadows broke, 

Rolling a slumb rous sheet of foam below. 

They saw the gleaming river seaward flow 

From th inner land : far off, three mountain-tops, 

Three silent pinnacles of aged snow, 

Stood sunset-flushed : and, dewed with showery drops, 

Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse. 

in. 

The charmed sunset lingered low adown 
In the red West : through mountain-clefts, the dale 
Was seen far inland, and the yellow down 
Bordered with palm, and many a winding vale 
And meadow, set with slender galingale ; 
A land where all things always seem d the same ! 
And round about the keel, with faces pale, 
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame, 
The mild-eyed, melancholy Lotus-eaters came. 



POETS AND POETRY. 489 

IV. 

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem, 
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave 
To each ; but whoso did receive of them, 
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave 
Far, far away did seem to moan and rave 
On alien shores ; and if his fellow spake, 
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave ; 
And deep-asleep he seemed, yet all awake, 
And music in his ears his beating heart did make. 

v. 

They sat them down upon the yellow sand, 
Between the sun and moon, upon the shore ; 
And sweet it was to dream of Father-land, 
Of child and wife and slave ; but evermore 
Most weary seemed the sea, weary the oar, 
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam. 
Then some one said, " We will return no more " ; 
And all at once they sang, "Our island home 
Is far beyond the wave ; we will no longer roam." 
* * * * * 

Of Eobert Browning the reading public knows too little ; 
it shall yet know more. Even in England, I found few 
whose delight in him equalled my own ; and I fairly startled 
judicious friends by insisting that he is not inferior, on the 
whole, to Tennyson. But there are obvious reasons why this 
prophet should be denied honor in his own country of all 
others. For Browning s verse too often lacks clearness ; his 
fancies are piled one upon another in wild confusion ; he is 
fitfully fantastic and mystical ; and John Bull has, of all men, 
the most intense aversion to what is called Transcendent 
alism. There is an anecdote afloat of Douglas Jerrold meet- 

o 

ing a friend in the street soon after Browning s " Sordello " 
was issued, and thrusting the book into his hands with the 
fierce command, rather than entreaty, " Kead that ! " The 
puzzled friend read a few lines of the opening, and de 
sisted, with the remark, "Why, this is rank nonsense!" 
" 0, thank God ! " exclaimed Jerrold ; " then I am not mad ! 
I was sure, if that was sense, that I ought to be sent to Bed 
lam at once." Another anecdote makes Browning gravely 
relate to an intimate friend that he had tested in Sordello a 
favorite theory, by omitting in the published copy each alter- 



490 MISCELLANIES. 

nate line of the poem as written ; but he candidly added, the 
experiment was a failure. 

Browning s best issue was that which opens with "The 
Blot on the Scutcheon/ and contains " Pippa Passes," 
"Luria," and "Paracelsus." The first-named is one of the 
purest, sweetest, most affecting dramatic poems in our litera 
ture ; the action hastens to its catastrophe as resistlessly as, 
and more naturally than, that of Hamlet or Macbeth ; and 
the heroine s dying wail over her lost innocence, her early 
doom, 

" I had no mother, God 
Forsook me, and I fell," 

has a condensed force and pathos rarely exceeded. 

I am apt to have little sympathy with the complaint that 
an author is obscure. It very often implies only indolence 
and lack of earnestness in the complainant. We are prone 
to read too drowsily, and expect writers to spell out their 
meaning to us, as if we were four-year-olds, still busy with 
our " a-b-abs " and " baker." There is an anecdote current to 
this effect, that when Emerson first began to lecture transcen 
dental-wise in Boston, one of his most constant auditors was 
the able and veteran conservative lawyer, Jeremiah Mason, 
accompanied by his daughters. His brethren at the bar 
were puzzled by this addiction on the part of so distinguished 
a conservative, and wonderingly inquired of him whether he 
understood what Emerson uttered. He candidly responded 
that he did not ; but added that his daughters (girls of thirteen 
and fifteen) understood it perfectly. There was probably more 
truth in this reply than was intended. The kingdom of 
heaven stands not alone in being easier of access to little 
children than to adults. Comprehension is not the result of 
knowledge solely, but of receptivity, of sympathy. It was 
not nearly so easy for the old lawyer as for the young damsels 
to attain the same plane of thought with the lecturer, and to 
travel in the same direction. He might possibly have learned 
more had he been less wise. 

Yet it is deplorably true that our newest literature too 
often lacks simplicity, lucidity, straightforwardness. It speaks 



POETS AND POETRY. 491 

in riddles, when it should be natural, direct, and open as the 
day. Carlyle is not half so obscure as his contemners declare 
him ; yet his " Sartor Eesartus " cannot be thoroughly mas 
tered and enjoyed by the average reader short of three or four 
perusals ; and how many will have patience to give it that 
number ? Whatever requires so many involves the pursuit 
of knowledge under difficulties. Emerson, though he is no 
longer opaque, did formerly try the patience, as well as the 
discernment, of his admirers ; and I can quite credit the story 
told of one who stopped him in the street and recited a pas 
sage from one of his essays, asking what he meant by it ; to 
which the author of " Brahma " and " The Sphinx," after 
pondering the passage a moment, calmly replied that he cer 
tainly had a meaning in his mind when he wrote that sen 
tence, though it had now unfortunately escaped him. But 
Browning s fault seems to inhere rather in utterance than in 
conception; his mind is full of materials ill stowed, which 
come rushing against and trampling over each other when 
summoned to daylight, and so choke the aperture and prevent 
egress, or rush forth an incpngruous, confused mass, muddily 
sweeping all before them. His later writings are half spoiled 
by this chaotic whirl, and are thence inferior on the whole 
to their immediate predecessors. Yet what a wealth of allu 
sion, a mine of meaning, a daguerreotype of the intellectual 
tendencies of the age, are found in "Bishop Blougram s 
Apology " ! And what have we clearer and purer in our 



language than this ? 



EVELYN HOPE. 



Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead ! 

Sit and watch by her side an hour. 
That is her book-shelf, this her bed ; 

She plucked that piece of geranium flower, 
Beginning to die, too, in the glass. 

Little has yet been changed, I think ; 
The shutters are shut ; no light may pass, 

Save two long rays through the hinges chink. 

Sixteen years old Avhen she died ! 
Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name, 



492 MISCELLANIES. 

It was not her time to love ; beside, 

Her life had many a hope and aim ; 
Duties enough, and little cares, 

And now was quiet, now astir, 
Till God s hand beckoned unawares, 

And the sweet white brow is all of her. 

Is it too late, then, Evelyn Hope ? 

What ! your soul was pure and true ; 
The good stars met in your horoscope, 

Made you of spirit, fire, and dew, 
And, just because I was thrice as old, 

And our paths in the world diverged so wide, 
Each was nought to each, must I be told ? 

We were fellow-mortals, nought beside ? 

No, indeed ! for God above 

Is great to grant, as mighty to make, 
And creates the love to reward the love, 

I claim you still, for my own love s sake ! 
Delayed, it may be, for more lives yet, 

Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few ; 
Much is to learn and much to forget, 

Ere the time be come for taking you. 

But the time will come, at last it will, 

When, Evelyn Hope, what meant, I shall say, 
In the lower earth, in the years long still, 

That body and soul so pure and gay ; 
Why your hair was amber, I shall divine, 

And vour mouth of your own geranium s red, 
And what you would do with me, in fine, 

In the new life come in the old one s stead. 

I have lived, I shall say, so much since then, 

Given up myself so many times ; 
Gained by the gains of various men, 

Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes : 
Yet one thing one in my soul s full scope, 

Either I missed or itself missed me, 
And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope ! 

What is the issue ? let us see ! 

I loved you, Evelyn, all the while, 

My heart seemed full as it could hold, 
There Avas place and to spare for the frank young smile, 

And the red young mouth, and the hair s young gold. 
So, hush ! I will give you this leaf to keep 

See, I shut it inside the sweet, cold hand ; 
There that is our secret ! go to sleep ; 

You will wake, and remember, and understand. 



POETS AND POETRY. 493 

I envy the biographer of Kobert and Elizabeth Barrett 
Browning. Twenty years ago they were poets, unknown to 
each other, undistinguished ; he poor, and each by no means 
young. I have heard that their first acquaintance came 
through their published works, which revealed a sympathy 
destined to make them one forever. Eeversing the usual 
order, they loved, they became personally acquainted, and 
were married. Thenceforward, each wrote better, more ac 
ceptably, in the main, more lucidly, than before ; wrote, 
doubtless, by the help of the other s happy suggestions as well 
as loving criticisms. And so each won larger and still widen 
ing audience, and more generous appreciation, and ampler 
recompense ; and a fair son was born to them ; and a wealthy 
friend, nowise related to either, left them a modest fortune ; 
and they spent their wedded years partly in their native 
England and partly in their beloved Florence, which inspired 
both of them, but especially the wife, with some of her noblest 
and most enduring poems, " Casa Guidi Windows " for 
instance, and " Aurora Leigh," and there, I believe, she 
died, leaving her husband and son not to lament, but to 
rejoice over and thank God for, the abiding memory of her 
worth and her love. 

I close this hurried survey without having attempted to con 
sider the claims of any among our countrymen to the character 
and designation of Poets. I should prefer to consider Amer 
ican Poetry by itself, and in its relations to that which pre 
ceded and that which is cotemporary with it. In so doing, 
we should find, I judge, that, while it has grave faults, faults 
of imitation, of poverty, of crudity, of exaggeration, it has 
decided merits and excellences also, merits not only emi 
nent in themselves, but such as give promise of still loftier 
achievement in the future. If we have contributed our full 
share to the bounteous Anglo-Saxon stock of shallow and 
sham poetry, we have also contributed our full quota con 
sidering our youth as a nation, and our prosaic preoccupa 
tions, our lack of leisure, and of the highest intellectual cul 
ture to that which the world will not willingly let die. I 



494 MISCELLANIES. 

waive this discussion for the present, however, and close with 
a more direct consideration of the problem, "What is the 
essential nature and true office of Poetry ? " 

Of course, I need waste no more time on the pitiable igno 
rance which confounds Poetry with Verse, the eternal es 
sence with the occasional form or garb, though this delusion 
has still many votaries, I might say, victims. The young 
lady who corrected a friend s allusion to Shakespeare as a Poet 
with the smilingly confident assurance that his plays were not 
poetry, not being rhymed, has still sharers in her sad misap 
prehension. Poetry is at least four thousand years old, as 
old as extant literature, if not older; while Pthyme, I sus 
pect, can hardly be traced beyond the time of the Troubadours 
of western and southern Europe, in the days of the Crusades, 
Verse, Metre, or Ehythm is of course much older. I pre 
sume some rude trace of this may be found in the very oldest 
writings extant, the chant or speech in Genesis of Lamech 
to his wives, for instance, and the oldest Hindoo or Chinese 
Poems. But, though it may seem natural, and almost neces 
sary, that poetic utterances should flow into harmonious or 
rhythmical numbers, this is not inevitable. Chateaubriand, 
one of the greatest poets of the last generation, wrote rarely in 
verse. Willis has written good verses, but his finest poem is 
rt Unwritten Music," in structure, a prose essay. That Ehyme 
is not essential to Poetry, all probably know who clearly know 
anything ; but that measured and duly accented lines, eacli 
beginning with a capital letter, do not constitute Poetry, 
though it may be generally, is by no means universally un 
derstood. But we cannot define by negations alone ; and the 
question still recurs, What is Poetry ? 

I understand by Poetry that mode of expression or aver 
ment which lifts the soul above the region of mere sense, 
which reaches beyond the merely physical or mechanical as 
pects of the truth affirmed, and apprehends that truth in its 
universal character and all-pervading relations, so that our 
own natures are exalted and purified by its contemplation. 
For instance, I affirm that the Creation was a wondrous, be- 



POETS AND POETRY. 495 

neficent work, which all intelligent, moral beings cognizant 
thereof must have regarded with admiration, but that the 
plans and purposes of God are entirely above the comprehen 
sion of Man, that is plain prose. Now let us see a poetic 
statement of that same truth, and mark its immensely supe 
rior vividness and force : 

" Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said, 
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? 
Declare, if thou hast understanding ! 
Who hath laid the measures thereof? if thou knowest? 
Or who hath stretched the line upon it ? 
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened 1 
Or who laid the corner-stone thereof, 
When the morning stars sang together, 
And all the sons of God shouted for joy ? " 

Or I am impelled to observe that the creations of the mind, 
unlike all corporeal existences, are essentially indestructible, 
and so fitted to abide and exert influence forever, that is a 
prosaic statement of an obvious fact ; let us note how Byron 
presents it in poetry : 

" The beings of the mind are not of clay ; 
Essentially immortal, they create 
And multiply in us a brighter ray, 
And more beloved existence that which Fate 
Prohibits to dull life in this our state 
Of mortal bondage, by these spirits supplied 
First exiles, then replaces, what we hate, 
Watering the hearts whose early flowers have died, 
And with a greener growth replenishing the void." 

Or I observe that the midnight thunder, during a violent 
Summer tempest, is echoed from mountain-top to mountain- 
top, forming a chorus of awful sublimity ; but the poet seizes 
the thought, and fuses it in the glowing alembic of his num 
bers thus : 

" Far along, 
From crag to crag the rattling peaks among, 

Leaps the live thunder, not from one lone cloud, 
But every mountain now hath found a tongue ; 
And Jura answers, through his misty shroud, 
Back to the joyous Alps, that call to her aloud." 



496 MISCELLANIES. 

Such instances speak more clearly than the plainest or the 
subtlest definitions. They show that, to the poetic concep 
tion, Nature is no huge aggregation of senseless matter, 
warmed into fitful vitality by sunbeams only to die and be 
resolved into its elements, but a living, conscious, vital uni 
verse, quivering with deathless aspiration because animated 
by the breath of God. 

Nor must we regard Poetry merely as an intellectual 
achievement, a trophy of human genius, an utterance from 
the heart of Nature, fitted to solace its votaries and strengthen 
them for the battle of Life. Poetry is essentially, inevitably, 
the friend of Virtue and Merit, the foe of Oppression and 
Wrong, the champion of Justice and Freedom. Wherever 
the good suffer from the machinations and malevolence of the 
evil, wherever Vice riots, or Corruption festers, or Tyranny 
afflicts and degrades, there Poetry is heard as an accusing 
angel, and her breath sounds the trump of impending doom. 
She cannot be suborned nor perverted to the service of the 
powers of darkness : a Dante or a Korner, lured or bribed to 
sing the praises of a despot; or glorify the achievements of an 
Alva or a Cortes, could only stammer out feeble, halting stan 
zas, which mankind would first despise, then compassionately 
forget. But to the patriot in his exile, the slave in his unjust 
bondage, the martyr at the stake, the voice of Poetry comes 
freighted with hope and cheer, giving assurance that, while 
Evil is but for a moment, Good is for ever and ever ; that all 
the forces of the Universe are at last on the side of Justice ; 
that the seeming triumphs of Iniquity are but a mirage, 
Divinely permitted to test our virtue and our faith ; and 
that all things work together to fulfil the counsels and estab 
lish the kingdom of the all-seeing and omnipotent God. 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 



THIS hard, cold, rocky planet, on whose surface we exist, 
toward whose centre we gravitate, seems to evince but 
a nigged and wayward kindness for her step-child, Man. 
Even to the savage, whom she takes to her rough breast with 
some show of maternal fondness, she says, "Take your 
chance with my varying moods, to-day, sunshine, flowers, 
and bounty ; to-morrow, wintry blasts, bare hills, and desti 
tution." What wonder if the poor Esquimaux, shivering in 
his foodless lodge, which bleak wastes of drifting snow envi 
ron, should misread even the serenely benignant skies, and 
fancy that diabolic was at least equally potent with Divine 
agency in creating such a world ? 

To civilized man, unless fenced about and shielded by that 
purely artificial creation we term Property, Nature presents a 
still sterner aspect. He may know, even better than the 
savage, how to extract sustenance and comfort from the ele 
ments everywhere surrounding him ; but he finds those ele 
ments appropriated, monopolized, tabooed, the private, 
exclusive possessions of a minority. To cut in the forest a 
dead, decaying tree, wherewith to warm his shivering, scarce- 
clad limbs, to dig edible roots from the swamp, or gather 
berries from the beetling crag to stay his gnawing hunger, 
is a trespass on the rights of some proprietor, property-owner, 
landlord, which legally subjects him to the assiduous but dis- 
agreeable attentions of the justice and the constable. Doomed 
to fight his way through this thorny jungle, he finds the weap 
ons all chained out of his reach, or pointed against him. Born 
32 



498 MISCELLANIES. 

into a state of war, he must first forge or buy the requisite im 
plements for the fray, though his adversaries are under no sort 
of obligation to wait till he is ready. The fertile prairie 
often produces sour, ungenial grasses ; and the giant forest, so 
luxuriant in its panoply of tender foliage, affords but a 
grudging subsistence to the few birds and animals which in 
habit or traverse it. Everywhere is presented the spectacle 
of diverse species of animated beings struggling desperately 
for subsistence, and often devouring each other for food. 

Into this unchained menagerie Man is thrust, to fight his 
way as best he can. The forest, the prairie, the mountain, 
the valley, the lakes, and the ocean, must be tamed to hear 
and heed his voice ere they can be relied on to satisfy his 
urgent needs. The river long obstructs his progress ere he 
learns the secret of making it bear him swiftly and cheaply 
on his course ; the soil that shall ultimately yield him the 
amplest harvests is a quaking bog, useless, and hardly passa 
ble, until he succeeds in draining and tilling it. The lion or 
tiger, whom he ultimately regards as a raree-show, and carts 
about for his diversion, is primarily quite other than amus 
ing, and, though exhibiting himself at less than the "half 
price" at which children are elsewhere admitted to the spec 
tacle, attracts no curious children of Adam to any exhibition 
but that of their own heels. The waterfall that propels the 
civilizee s mill arrests the savage s canoe. In short, Nature, 
though complaisant at seasons, is yet, in the larger view, 
grudging and stern toward our race, until transformed and 
vivified by Labor and Science. 

Man, therefore, is by primal necessity a Transformer, in 
1f other words, a Reformer. He must first, by resolute effort, 
fix his bit in the mouth of Nature, his saddle on her back, 
and his spurs in her sides, ere he is prepared to run his no 
bler race and achieve his higher destiny. Though mental 
; development and moral culture be the admitted ends of his 
mundane existence, yet to begin with the pursuit of these is 
to court and insure defeat, by invoking frost and starvation. 
If the philosopher or divine were to visit the pioneer just 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 499 

slashing together his log hut in the wilderness, and accost 
him with, " Why wear out your life in such sordid, grovel 
ling, material drudgery, when the gorgeous canopy of heavfen 
overarches you, the glad sun irradiates and warms you, and 
all Nature, ministering gratuitously to your gross, bodily 
wants, invites to meditation and elevating self-communion ? " 
the squatter s proper answer, should he deign to give any an 
swer at all, would be : " Sir, I provide first for my bodily 
needs, and against the fitful inclemencies of the now genial * 
skies, in order that I may by and by have leisure and oppor 
tunity for those loftier pursuits you eulogize so justly, though 
inappositely. I could not fitly meditate on God, the Uni 
verse, and Human Destiny, with a shivering wife looking me 
sadly in the face, nor with the cries of hungry children ring 
ing in my ears. Nay : I could not so meditate this balmy 
June morning, in full view of the truth that, if I were con 
tent with meditation to-day, such would be the appeals of 
those dependent on me ere June should greet us again. 
"What you suggest, then, is excellent in its time and place ; 
but I must hew and delve to-day, in order that my season for 
contemplation and culture may ultimately come." 

Now, this obvious response of the pioneer to the phi 
losopher is in essence the material or circumstantial Ee^ 
former s answer to the Stoic and the Saint. " Wealth is dross ; 
Power is anxiety, is care ; Luxury enervates the body and 
debases the soul," these remonstrate in chorus : " Know 
thyself, and be truly wise ; chasten your appetites, and be 
rich in the moderation of your physical wants," adds the 
Stoic ; " Know God, and find happiness in adoring and 
serving Him," echoes the Saint. " True, Plato I true, 
divinest Cecilia ! but everything in its order. To render 
fasting meritorious, one should have meat at command ; and 
great spiritual exaltation springs not naturally from a body 
gaunt with enforced hunger. Let me surround myself with 
what is needful for me and mine in the way of food, and 
clothing, and shelter; not forgetting meantime the nobler 
ends of my existence, but looking also to these ; thus will I 



, 



500 MISCELLANIES. 

achieve for myself Opportunity for that loftier plane of being 
whereto you so justly invite me. I am not forgetting nor 
disobeying the injunction to Seek first the kingdom of God 
and His righteousness " ; I am only affirming that, until the 
legitimate physical needs of those dependent on my exertions 
are provided for, it would not be righteous in me to surrender 
myself to contemplation, nor even to devotion." And this is 
substantially the answer of the Reformer of Man s external 
circumstances to those who insist that the end he meditates 
is to be attained from within, rather than from without, in 
the apt phrase of Charles Lane, by improvement, not of this 
or that circumstance, but of the vital ccT^rc-stance. We 
readily admit this ; but what then ? The question still recurs, 
" How is the desired end to be attained ? " and we hold 
that there is no practical cure for the vital woes of the 
pitiable which does not involve a preliminary change in their 
outward conditions. You may shower precepts and admoni 
tions, tracts and Bibles, on the squalid, filthy, destitute 
thousands who tenant, thick as knotted adders, the cellars 
and rookeries of our great cities, and all will run off them 
like water from a duck s back, leaving them exactly as it 
found them. But first take them out of these lairs and lazar- 
houses, wash them, clothe them decently, and place them 
where they may, by honest, useful labor, earn a fair subsist 
ence ; now you may ply them with catechisms and exhorta 
tions with a rational hope of advantage. To attempt it sooner, 
even with seeming success, is only to cover their filthiness 
with a tenacious varnish of hypocrisy, rendering it less hate 
ful to the eye, but more profound and ineradicable. 

But not the Worker only the robust, earnest Thinker 
also is of necessity a Radical. He sees his less fortunate 
brethren oppressed and degraded, debased and enslaved, 
through the malign influences of selfish Cunning and despotic 
Force ; and his very soul is stirred within him as was that of 
Moses by the spectacle of his people s sufferings under the 
rule of their Egyptian taskmasters. No matter what is 
the extent or nature of Man s abstract, inherent depravity, 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 501 

he cannot fail to see that men are actually better or worse as 
they have better or worse instructors, rulers, and institutions. 
Before condemning Human Nature as incorrigible, and there 
upon justifying those who nevertheless contrive to make its 
guidance and government a gainful trade, he inquires whether 
this same abused Nature has not done better under other 
auspices, and becomes satisfied that it has. Then he says to 
the banded decriers of Human Nature and to the con 
servatives of old abuses who take shelter under their wing : 
" You say that Man cannot walk erect ; remove your bandages 
from his feet, your shackles from his limbs, and let us see ! 
You say that he cannot take care of himself ; then why com 
pel him, in addition, to take such generous care of you ? 
You say he is naturally dishonest and thievish; but how 
could he be otherwise, when he cannot fail to perceive that 
you, who set yourselves up for his guides and exemplars, are 
perpetually and enormously robbing him ? Begin by giving 
back to him the earth which you have taken from under 
his feet, the knowledge you have monopolized, the privi-- 
leges you have engrossed ; and we can better determine 
whether he needs anything, and what, from your chajity, 
after he shall have recovered what is rightfully his own." 

It is a fearful gift, this of moral prescience, the ability 
and the will to look straight into and through all traditions, 
usages, beliefs, conventionalities, garnitures, and ask : What 
is this for ? What does it signify ? If it were swept away, 
what would be really lost to mankind ? This baptism, or 
whatever may be the appliance, does it really cleanse ? 
Does it even tend to the desiderated result ? or does it not 
rather fortify with a varnish of hypocrisy and a crust of con 
ceit the preexisting impurity and vice ? Is there the old 
unrighteousness left, with only self-righteousness superadded ? 
Well does a deep thinker speak of the spirit of reform as 
walking up and down, "paving the world with eyes," eyes 
which not merely inquire and pierce, but challenge, accuse, 
arraign also. Happily was the prophet of old named a seer ; 
for he who rightly and deeply sees thence foresees. Your 



502 MISCELLANIES. 

brawling demagogue is a very empty and harmless personage, 
"a voice, and nothing more" ; but a silent, unimpassioned 
thinker, though uttering only the most obvious and uni 
versal truths, sets the social caldron furiously seething and 
bubbling. "Think not that I am come to send peace on 
earth," says the Prince of Peace ; " I am not come to send 
peace, but a sword." All the rebels, conspirators, Messianic 
impostors, of that turbulent age, were not half so formidable 
to Judean conservatism, lioman despotism, as the Sermon 
on the Mount. And so in our day, a genuine, earnest re 
former, no matter in what manger cradled, in what Shaker 
garb invested, sets all things spinning and tilting around 
him. 

The true Pteformer turns his eyes first inward, scrutinizing 
himself, his habits, purposes, efforts, enjoyments, asking, 
What signifies this ? and this ? and wherein is its justifica 
tion ? This daily provision of meat and drink, is its end 
nourishment and its incident enjoyment ? or are the poles 
reversed, and do I eat and drink for the gratification of appe 
tite, hoping, or trusting, or blindly guessing, that, since it sa 
tiates my desires, it must satisfy also my needs ? Is it requi 
site that all the zones and continents should be ransacked to 
build up the fleeting earthly tabernacle of this immortal 
spirit ? Is not the soul rather submerged, stifled, drowned, 
in this incessant idolizing, feasting, pampering of the body ? 
These sumptuous entertainments, wherein the palate has 
everything, the soul nothing, what faculty, whether of body 
or mind, do they brighten or strengthen ? Why should a 
score of animals render up their lives to furnish forth my 
day s dinner, if my own life is thereby rendered neither surer 
nor nobler ? Why gorge myself with dainties which cloud 
the brain and clog the step, if the common grains and fruits 
and roots and water afford precisely the same sustenance in 
simpler and less cloying guise, and are far more conducive to 
health, strength, elasticity, longevity ? Can a man worthily 
surrender his life to the mere acquiring and absorbing of 
food, thus alternating only from the state of a beast of burden 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 503 

to that of a beast of prey ? Above all, why should I fire my 
blood and sear my brain with liquors which give a temporary 
exhilaration to the spirits at the cost of permanent depra 
vation and disorder to the whole physical frame ? In short, 
why should I live for and in my appetites, if these were Di 
vinely created to serve and sustain, not master and dethrone, 
the spirit to which this earthly frame is but a husk, a tent, a 
halting-place, in an exalted, deathless career ? If the life be 
indeed more than meat, why shall not the meat recognize and 
attest that fact ? And thus the sincere Reformer, in the very 
outset of his course, becomes a "tee-total" fanatic, repre 
sented by the knavish and regarded by the vulgar as a foe to 
all enjoyment and cheer, insisting that mankind shall con 
form to his crotchets, and live on bran-bread and blue cold 
water. 

Turning his eyes away from himself, he scans the relations 
of man with man, under which labor is performed and service 
secured, and finds, not absolute Justice, much less Love, but 
Necessity on the one hand, Advantage on the other, presiding 
over the general interchange of good offices among mankind. 
In the market, on the exchange, we meet no recognition of 
the brotherhood of the human race. A famine in one coun 
try is a godsend to the grain-growers and flour-speculators of 
another. An excess of immigration enhances the cost of food 
while depressing the wages of labor, adding in both ways to 
the wealth of the forehanded, who find their only drawback 
in the increased burdens of pauperism. Thus the mansion 
and the hovel rise side by side, and where sheriffs are abun 
dant is hanging most frequent. One man s necessity being 
another s opportunity, we have no right to be surprised or in 
dignant that the general system culminates, by an inexorably 
logical process, in the existence and stubborn maintenance of 
Human Slavery. 

Yes, I insist that Slavery is a logical deduction from prin 
ciples generally accepted, and almost universally accounted 
sound and laudable. For, once admit the premises that I 



504 MISCELLANIES. 

have a right to seek profit from my neighbor s privations and 
calamities ; that I have a right to consume in idleness the 
products or earnings of half a dozen workers, if my income 
will justify the outlay; and that it is better to live indo 
lently on others earnings than industriously from the pro 
ceeds of my own, and the rightfulness of Slavery is a log 
ical deduction, as plain as that two and two make four. 
Hence the gambler, the swindler, the pander for gain to oth 
ers vices, is always pro-Slavery, or is only withheld from 
that side by fear of being himself enslaved. You would not 
on three continents find a pirate or gaming-house bully who 
would not gladly tramp five miles on a dark, stormy night, to 
help lynch an Abolitionist. And thus not only have all Re 
forms a sympathetic, even if ill-understood, relationship, but 
the enemies of reforms are united by a free-masonry equally 
potent and comprehensive. The negro-trader of Charleston 
or New Orleans would always help to mob a Temperance lec 
turer, even though he did not himself drink; for he hated 
and dreaded the application of ethical laws to practical life. 
This particular reform did not interfere with his pursuits or 
his gains ; but he felt instinctively that all other reforms were 
just behind it, that they were peering over its shoulder, 
and ready to rush in if this one succeeded in opening the 
door. So he put his shoulder against it, and held fast, not 
that he objected specially to this, but that he w^ould make 
seasonable resistance to the crowd that came trooping in its 
train. 

It was very common, of old, for the members of diverse 
parties and sects to protest that they were not Abolitionists, 
a most superfluous assurance. Essentially, radically, there 
are just so many Abolitionists as comprehend that it is bet 
ter for themselves, better also for their children, to earn their 
subsistence by fair, honest service to their kind, than to have 
it supplied them for nothing. He only is truly, inflexibly 
an Abolitionist who realizes that the faculty of producing or 
earning bread is as much an element of man s happiness as 
the ability to consume and relish it. He who idly wishes 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 505 

that Providence had made him heir of a fortune, so that he 
might have fared sumptuously and lived idly, might just as 
well sigh outright for John Mitchell s coveted Alabama plan 
tation and fat negroes. 

Whether it shall ever be found practicable to substitute a 
more trustful and beneficent social order for that which now 
prevails, the sceptics are fully justified in doubting. So 
many experiments fairly tried, so far as they can see 
have resulted in so many failures, that they quite rationally 
conclude that the Family is the only, or at least the highest, 
social organization whereof poor, depraved human nature is 
capable, It is all very well, they fairly say, to talk of the 
great economies of some theoretic social system, how much 
could be saved in fences and fuel, stowage and lights, produc 
tion and distribution, by uniting five hundred families in one 
household, on a common domain, rather than scattering them 
over twice as many acres or twenty-score farms ; but, since 
it is proved that families cannot or will not live and labor in 
this way, what use in commending it ? You might as well 
talk of the superior pavement of the ,New Jerusalem seen 
in St. John s vision to that of Broadway or Chestnut Street, 
and insist that our cities shall henceforth use the former 
exclusively. 

There is much force in this view ; but there is more 
force in one higher and nobler. It is true that men and 
women educated in the selfish isolation and antagonism of 
our current households are not qualified at least, the great 
mass of them are not for any better form of society. It 
is true that this knowledge has been attained through years 
of patient exertion and sacrifice, attained by earnest, 
ardent, self-denying men and women, who would have given 
their lives to perfect conclusively a contrary demonstration. 
And, though it is truly urged that these demonstrations were 
made under very imperfect and unfavorable circumstances, 
it is equally true that they were the most favorable that 
could be, and better than can now be, obtained. 

We stand, then, in the presence of this state of facts : 



506 MISCELLANIES. 

On the one hand, it is proved difficult to create and main 
tain a more trustful and harmonious social structure out of 
such materials as the old social machinery has formed, - 
or rather, we may say practically, out of such materials as the 
old machinery has expelled and rejected ; yet we know, on 
the other hand, that a more yes, I will say it Christian 
Social Order is not impossible. For it is more than half 
a century since the first associations of the gentle ascetics 
contemptuously termed Shakers were formed; and no one 
will pretend that they have failed. No : they have steadily 
and eminently expanded and increased in wealth, and every 
element of material prosperity, until they are at this day just 
objects of envy to their neighbors. They produce no paupers ; 
they excrete no beggars; they have no idlers, rich or poor; 
no purse-proud nabobs, no cringing slaves. So far are they 
from pecuniary failure, that they alone have known no such 
word as fail since, amid poverty and odium, they laid the 
foundations of their social edifice, and inscribed " Holiness to 
the Lord " above their gates. They may not have attempted 
the highest nor the wisest achievement ; but what they 
attempted they have accomplished. And, if there were no 
other success akin to theirs, but there is, it would still 
be a demonstrated truth that men and women can live and 
labor for general, not selfish, good, can banish pauperism, 
servitude, and idleness, and secure general thrift and plenty, 
by moderate cooperative labor and a complete identity of 
interests. Of this truth, each year offers added demonstra 
tions ; but, if all were to cease to-morrow, the fact that it had 
been proved would remain. Perhaps no Plato, no Scipio, 
no Columbus, no Milton, now exists ; but the capacity of the 
Eace is still measured and assured by the great men and 
great deeds that have been. Man can work for his brother s 
good as well as his own : an unbroken, triumphant experience 
of half a century has established the fact, so that fifty cen 
turies of contrary experience would not disprove it. 

But we are not required to prove the capacity, the adapta 
bility, of Man to a social accord so extreme as Communism. 



REFORMS AND REFORMERS. 507 

The practicability of this involves that of every social re