* * * * *
Alexander H. Stephens, 1812-.
From Appendix to "The Constitutional View."
100. ORIGIN OF THE AMERICAN FLAG.
The stars, as a matter of course, represent states. The origin of the stripes, I think, if searched out, would be found to be a little curious. All I know upon that point is, that on the 4th day of July, 1776, after the Declaration of Independence was carried, a committee was appointed by Congress, consisting of Mr. Jefferson, Dr. Franklin, and John Adams, to prepare a device for a seal of the United States.... This seal, as reported, or the device in full, as reported, was never adopted. But in it we see the emblems, in part, which are still preserved in the flag.
The stripes, or lines, which, on Mr. Jefferson's original plan, were to designate the six quarterings of the shield, as signs of the six countries from which our ancestors came, are now, I believe, considered as representations of the old thirteen states, and with most persons the idea of a shield is lost sight of. You perceive that, by drawing six lines or stripes on a shield figure, it will leave seven spaces of the original color, and of course give thirteen apparent stripes; hence the idea of their being all intended to represent the old thirteen states. My opinion, is, that this was the origin of the stripes. Mr. Jefferson's quartered shield for a seal device was seized upon as a national emblem, that was put upon the flag. We have now the stars as well as the stripes. When each of these was adopted I cannot say; but the flag, as it now is, was designed by Captain Reid, as I tell you, and adopted by Congress.
[Footnote 26: One of the most eminent public men of the south; a native of Georgia.]
* * * * *
Benjamin Rush, 1743-1813.
From "Essays, Literary, Moral," etc.
101. THE LIFE OF EDWARD DRINKER, A CENTENARIAN.
He saw and heard more of those events which are measured by time, than have ever been seen or heard since the age of the patriarchs; he saw the same spot of earth which at one period of his life was covered with wood and bushes, and the receptacle of beasts and birds of prey, afterwards become the seat of a city not only the first in wealth and arts in the new, but rivalling, in both, many of the first cities in the old world. He saw regular streets where he once pursued a hare; he saw churches rising upon morasses, where he had often heard the croaking of frogs; he saw wharves and warehouses where he had often seen Indian savages draw fish from the river for their daily subsistence; and he saw ships of every size and use in those streams where he had often seen nothing but Indian canoes.... He saw the first treaty ratified between the newly confederated powers of America and the ancient monarchy of France, with all the formalities of parchment and seals, on the same spot, probably, where he once saw William Penn ratify his first and last treaty with the Indians, without the formality of pen, ink, or paper.... He saw the beginning and end of the empire of Great Britain in Pennsylvania. He had been the subject of seven successive crowned heads, and afterwards became a willing citizen of a republic; for he embraced the liberties and independence of America in his withered arms, and triumphed in the last years of his life in the salvation of his country.
[Footnote 27: A native of Pennsylvania, eminent as a writer, and especially as a teacher and practitioner of medicine.]
* * * * *
John Marshall, 1755-1835. (Manual, p. 490.)
From the "History of the American Colonies."
102. THE CONQUEST OF CANADA.
During these transactions, General Amherst was taking measures for the annihilation of the remnant of French power in Canada. He determined to employ the immense force under his command for the accomplishment of this object, and made arrangements during the winter to bring the armies from Quebec, Lake Champlain, and Lake Ontario, to act against Montreal.
The junction of these armies presenting before Montreal a force not to be resisted, the Governor offered to capitulate. In the month of September, Montreal, and all other places within the government of Canada, then remaining in the possession of France, were surrendered to his Britannic majesty. The troops were to be transported to France, and the Canadians to be protected in their property, and the full enjoyment of their religion.
That colossal power which France had been long erecting in America, with vast labor and expense; which had been the motive for one of the most extensive and desolating wars of modern times, was thus entirely overthrown. The causes of this interesting event are to be found in the superior wealth and population of the colonies of England, and in her immense naval strength; an advantage, in distant war, not to be counterbalanced by the numbers, the discipline, the courage, and the military talents, which may be combined in the armies of an inferior maritime power.
The joy diffused throughout the British dominions by this splendid conquest, was mingled with a proud sense of superiority, which did not estimate with exact justice the relative means employed by the belligerents. In no part of those dominions was this joy felt in a higher degree, or with more reason, than in America. In that region, the wars between France and England had assumed a form, happily unknown to other parts of the civilized world. Not confined as in Europe to men in arms—women and children were its common victims. It had been carried by the savage to the fire-side of the peaceful peasant, where the tomahawk and the scalping-knife were applied indiscriminately to every age, and to either sex. The hope was now fondly indulged that these scenes, at least in the northern and middle colonies, were closed forever.
* * * * *
John Armstrong, 1759-1843.
From the Life of General Wayne.
103. STORMING OF STONY POINT.
Wayne, believing that few things were impracticable to discipline and valor, after a careful reconnoissance, adopted the project, and hastened to give it execution. Beginning his march on the 15th from Sandy Beach, he at eight o'clock in the evening took a position within a mile and a half of his object. By the organization given to the attack, the regiments of Febiger and Meigs, with Hull's detachment, formed the column of the right; and the regiment of Butler and Murfey's detachment, that of the left. A party of twenty men furnished with axes for pioneer duty, and followed by a sustaining corps of one hundred and fifty men with unloaded arms, preceded each column, while a small detachment was assigned to purposes merely of demonstration.
At half after eleven o'clock, the hour fixed on for the assault, the columns were in motion; but from delays made inevitable by the nature of the ground, it was twenty minutes after twelve before this commenced, when neither the morass, now overflowed by the tide, nor the formidable and double row of abattis, nor the high and strong works on the summit of the hill, could for a moment damp the ardor or stop the career of the assailants, who, in the face of an incessant fire of musketry and a shower of shells and grape-shot, forced their way through every obstacle, and with so much concert of movement, that both columns entered the fort and reached its centre, nearly at the same moment. Nor was the conduct of the victors less conspicuous for humanity than for valor. Not a man of the garrison was injured after the surrender; and during the conflict of battle, all were spared who ceased to make resistance.
The entire American loss in this enterprise, so formidable in prospect, did not exceed one hundred men. The pioneer parties, necessarily the most exposed, suffered most. Of the twenty men led by Lieutenant Gibbons of the Sixth Pennsylvania Regiment, seventeen were killed or wounded. Wayne's own escape on this occasion was of the hair-breadth kind. Struck on the head by a musket-ball, he fell; but immediately rising on one knee, he exclaimed, "March on, carry me into the fort; for should the wound be mortal, I will die at the head of the column." The enemy's loss in killed and captured amounted to six hundred and seven men. This affair, the most brilliant of the war, covered the commanding general with laurels.
[Footnote 28: An officer of the revolutionary army, and a conspicuous actor in the War of 1812; has written chiefly on military affairs.]
* * * * *
Charles Caldwell, 1772-1853.
From his "Autobiography."
104. A LECTURE OF DR. RUSH.
At length, however, though the class of the winter, all told, amounted to less than a hundred, a sufficient number had arrived to induce the professors to commence their lectures; and the introductory of Dr. Rush was a performance of deep and touching interest, and never, I think, to be forgotten (while his memory endures), by any one who listened to it, and was susceptible of the impression it was calculated to make. It consisted in a well-written and graphical description of the terrible sweep of the late pestilence; the wild dismay and temporary desolation it had produced; the scenes of family and individual suffering and woe he had witnessed during its ravages; the mental dejection, approaching despair, which he himself had experienced, on account of the entire failure of his original mode of practice in it, and the loss of his earliest patients (some of them personal friends); the joy he felt on the discovery of a successful mode of treating it; the benefactions which he had afterwards the happiness to confer; and the gratulations with which, after the success of his practice had become known, he was often received in sick and afflicted families. The discourse, though highly colored, and marked by not a few figures of fancy and bursts of feeling, was, notwithstanding, sufficiently fraught, with substantial matter to render it no less instructive than it was fascinating.
[Footnote 29: A native of North Carolina; prominent as a physician and controversialist.]
* * * * *
Thomas H. Benton, 1783-1858. (Manual, p. 487.)
From the "Thirty Years' View of the United States Senate."
105. THE CHARACTER OF MACON.
He was above the pursuit of wealth, but also above dependence and idleness, and, like an old Roman of the elder Cato's time, worked in the fields at the head of his slaves in the intervals of public duty, and did not cease this labor until advancing age rendered him unable to stand the hot sun of summer.... I think it was the summer of 1817,—that was the last time (he told me) he tried it, and found the sun too hot for him,—then sixty years of age, a senator, and the refuser of all office. How often I think of him, when I see at Washington robustious men going through a scene of supplication, tribulation, and degradation, to obtain office, which the salvation of the soul does not impose upon the vilest sinner! His fields, his flocks, and his herds, yielded an ample supply of domestic productions. A small crop of tobacco—three hogsheads when the season was good, two when bad—purchased the exotics which comfort and necessity required, and which the farm did not produce. He was not rich, but rich enough to dispense hospitality and charity, to receive all guests in his house, from the president to the day laborer—no other title being necessary to enter his house but that of an honest man;... and above all, he was rich enough to pay as he went, and never to owe a dollar to any man.
... He always wore the same dress,—that is to say, a suit of the same material, cut, and color, superfine navy-blue,—the whole suit from the same piece, and in the fashion of the time of the Revolution, and always replaced by a new one before it showed age. He was neat in his person, always wore fine linen, a fine cambric stock, a fine fur hat with a brim to it, fair top-boots—the boot outside of the pantaloons, on the principle that leather was stronger than cloth.
... He was an habitual reader and student of the Bible, a pious and religious man, and of the "Baptist persuasion," as he was accustomed to express it.
[Footnote 30: Nathaniel Macon, United States Senator from North Carolina.]
* * * * *
Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, 1803-1845. (Manual, pp. 490, 505.)
From the Life of Commodore Decatur.
106. RECAPTURE, AND BURNING OF THE FRIGATE "PHILADELPHIA," AT TRIPOLI.
When all were safely assembled on the deck of the Intrepid, (for so admirably had the service been executed that not a man was missing, and only one slightly wounded,) Decatur gave the order to cut the fasts and shove off. The necessity for prompt obedience and exertion was urgent. The flames had now gained the lower rigging, and ascended to the tops; they darted furiously from the ports, flashing from the quarter gallery round the mizzen of the Intrepid, as her stern dropped clear of the ship. To estimate the perils of their position, it should be borne in mind, that the fire had been communicated by these fearless men to the near neighborhood of both magazines of the Philadelphia. The Intrepid herself was a fire ship, having been supplied with combustibles, a mass of which, ready to be converted into the means of destroying other vessels of the enemy, if the opportunity should offer, lay in barrels on her quarter deck, covered only with a tarpaulin.
With destruction thus encompassing them within and without, Decatur and his brave followers were unmoved. Calmly they put forth the necessary exertion, breasted the Intrepid off with spars, and pressing on their sweeps, caused her slowly to withdraw from the vicinity of the burning mass. A gentle breeze from the land came auspiciously at the same moment, and wafted the Intrepid beyond the reach of the flames, bearing with it, however, a shower of burning embers, fraught with danger to a vessel laden with combustibles, had not discipline, order, and calm self-possession, been at hand for her protection. Soon this peril was also left behind, and Decatur and his followers were at a sufficient distance to contemplate securely the spectacle which the Philadelphia presented. Hull, spars, and rigging, were now enveloped in flames. As the metal of her guns became heated, they were discharged in succession from both sides, serving as a brilliant salvo in honor of the victor, and not harmless for the Tripolitans, as her starboard battery was fired directly into the town.
The town itself, the castles, the minarets of the mosques, and the shipping in the harbor, were all brought into distinct view by the splendor of the conflagration. It served also to reveal to the enemy the cause of their disaster, in the little Intrepid, as she slowly withdrew from the harbor. The shot of the shipping and castles fell thickly around her, throwing up columns of spray, which the brilliant light converted into a new ornament of the scene. Only one shot took effect, and that passed through her top-gallant sail. Three hearty American cheers were now given in mingled triumph and derision. Soon after, the boats of the Siren joined company, and assisted in towing the Intrepid out of the harbor. The cables of the Philadelphia having burned off, she drifted on the rocks near the westward entrance of the harbor; and then the whole spectacle, so full of moral sublimity, considering the means by which it had been effected, and of material grandeur, had its appropriate termination in the final catastrophe of her explosion.
Nor were the little band of heroes on board the Intrepid the only exulting spectators of the scene. Lieutenant Stewart and his companions on board the Siren, watching with intense interest, beheld in the conflagration a pledge of Decatur's success; and Captain Bainbridge, with his fellow-captives in the dungeons of Tripoli, saw in it a motive of national exultation, and an earnest that a spirit was at work to hasten the day of their liberation.
* * * * *
I.F.H. Claiborne, About 1804-.
From "Life and Times of General Samuel Dale."
107. TECUMSEH'S SPEECH TO THE CREEK INDIANS.
I saw the Shawnees issue from their lodge; they were painted black, and entirely naked except the flap about their loins. Every weapon but the war-club,—then first introduced among the Creeks,—had been laid aside. An angry scowl sat on all their visages; they looked like a procession of devils. Tecumseh led, the warriors followed, one in the footsteps of the other. The Creeks, in dense masses, stood on each side of the path, but the Shawnees noticed no one; they marched to the pole in the centre of the square, and then turned to the left.
... They then marched in the same order to the Council, or King's house,—as it was termed in ancient times, and drew up before it. The Big Warrior and the leading men were sitting there. The Shawnee chief sounded his war-whoop,—a most diabolical yell, and each of his followers responded. Tecumseh then presented to the Big Warrior a wampum belt of five different-colored stands, which the Creek chief handed to his warriors, and it was passed down the line. The Shawnee pipe was then produced; it was large, long, and profusely decorated with shells, beads, and painted eagle and porcupine quills. It was lighted from the fire in the centre, and slowly passed from the Big Warrior along the line. All this time not a word had been uttered; every thing was still as death; even the winds slept, and there was only the gentle rustle of the falling leaves. At length Tecumseh spoke, at first slowly, and in sonorous tones, but soon he grew impassioned, and the words fell in avalanches from his lips. His eyes burned with supernatural lustre, and his whole frame trembled with emotion; his voice resounded over the multitude,—now sinking in low and musical whispers, now rising to its highest key, hurling out his words like a succession of thunderbolts. His countenance varied with his speech; its prevalent expression was a sneer of hatred and defiance; sometimes a murderous smile; for a brief interval a sentiment of profound sorrow pervaded it; and at the close, a look of concentrated vengeance, such, I suppose, as distinguishes the arch-enemy of mankind, I have heard many great orators, but I never saw one with the vocal powers of Tecumseh, or the same command of the muscles of his face.
... Had I been deaf, the play of his countenance would have told me what he said. Its effect on that wild, superstitious, untutored, and warlike assemblage may be conceived; not a word was said, but stern warriors, the "stoics of the woods," shook with emotion, and a thousand tomahawks were brandished in the air. Even the Big Warrior, who had been true to the whites, and remained faithful during the war, was for the moment visibly affected, and more than once I saw his huge hand clutch, spasmodically, the handle of his knife.... When he resumed his seat, the northern pipe was again passed round in solemn silence. The Shawnees then simultaneously leaped up with one appalling yell, and danced their tribal war-dance, going through the evolutions of battle, the scout, the ambush, the final struggle, brandishing their war-clubs, and screaming, in terrific concert, an infernal harmony fit only for the regions of the damned.
[Footnote 31: Was born in Mississippi; by profession a lawyer, and for some years a member of Congress; author of several biographical works of interest, chiefly relating to the Southwest.]
* * * * *
George Washington Greene, 1811-.
From The Life of General Greene.
108. FOREIGN OFFICERS IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY.
... Mrs. Greene had joined her husband early in January, bringing with her her summer's acquisition, a stock of French that quickly made her little parlor the favorite resort of foreign officers. There was often to be seen Lafayette, not yet turned of twenty-one, though a husband, a father, and a major-general; graver somewhat in his manners than strictly belonged either to his years or his country; and loved and trusted by all, by Washington and Greene especially. Steuben, too, was often there, wearing his republican uniform, as, fifteen years before, he had worn the uniform of the despotic Frederick; as deeply skilled in the ceremonial of a court as in the manoeuvring of an army; with a glittering star on his left breast, that bore witness to the faithful service he had rendered in his native Germany; and revolving in his accurate mind designs which were to transform this mass of physical strength, which Americans had dignified with the name of army, into a real army which Frederick himself might have accepted. He had but little English at his command as yet, but at his side there was a mercurial young Frenchman, Peter Duponceau, who knew how to interpret both his graver thoughts and the lighter gallantries with which the genial old soldier loved to season his intercourse with the wives and daughters of his new fellow-citizens. As the years passed away, Duponceau himself became a celebrated man, and loved to tell the story of these checkered days. Another German, too, De Kalb, was sometimes seen there, taller, statelier, graver than Steuben, with the cold, observant eye of the diplomatist, rather than the quick glance of the soldier, though a soldier too, and a brave and skillful one; caring very little about the cause he had forsaken his noble chateau and lovely wife to fight for, but a great deal about the promotion and decorations which his good service hero was to win him in France; for he had made himself a Frenchman, and served the King of France, and bought him French lands, and married a French wife. Already before this war began, he had come hither in the service of France to study the progress of the growing discontent; and now he was here again an American major-general, led partly by the ambition of rank, partly by the thirst of distinction, but much, too, by a certain restlessness of nature, and longing for excitement and action, not to be wondered at in one who had fought his way up from a butlership to a barony. He and Steuben had served on opposite sides during the Seven Years War, though born both of them on the same bank of the Rhine; and though when Steuben first came, De Kalb was in Albany, yet in May they must have met more than once. How did they feel towards each other, the soldier of Frederick, and the soldier of Louis? If we had known more about this, we should have known better, perhaps, why Lafayette, a fast friend of De Kalb, speaks of the "methodic mediocrity" of Steuben, and Steuben of the "vanity and presumption" of the young major-general.
In the same circle, too, was the young Fleury whom we have seen bearing himself so gallantly at Fort Mifflin, and who, a year after, was to render still more brilliant service at Stony Point; and the Marquis de la Rouerie, concealing his rank under the name of Armand, and combatting an unsuccessful love by throwing himself headlong into the tumult of war; and Mauduit Duplessis, whose skill as an engineer had been proved at Red Bank, and who about this time was breveted Lieutenant-Colonel, at Washington's recommendation, for "gallant conduct at Brandywine and Germantown," and "distinguished services at Fort Mercer," and a "degree of modesty not always found in men who have performed brilliant actions," but whom neither modesty nor gallantry could save from a fearful death at San Domingo; and Gimat, aide to Lafayette now, but who afterwards led Lafayette's van as colonel in the successful assault of the British redoubts at Yorktown; and La Colombe, who was to serve Lafayette faithfully in France as he served him here; and Ternant, distinguished in America, France, and Holland, but who this year rendered invaluable service to American discipline by his aid in carrying out the reforms of Steuben. Kosciusko was in the north, but Poland had still another representative, the gallant Pulaski, who had done good service during the last campaign, and who the very next year was to lay down his life for us at the siege of Savannah.
[Footnote 32: Born in Rhode Island; a grandson of the distinguished General Greene of the Revolution, whose life he has written, with many interesting details of that struggle.]
* * * * *
James Parton, 1822-. (Manual, pp. 490, 532.)
From "Life and Times of Aaron Burr."
109. CAREER AND CHARACTER OF BURR.
To judge this man, to decide how far he was unfortunate, and how far guilty; how much we ought to pity, and how much to blame him,—is a task beyond my powers. And what occasion is there for judging him, or for judging any one? We all know that his life was an unhappy failure. He failed to gain the small honors at which he aimed; he failed to live a life worthy of his opportunities; he failed to achieve a character worthy of his powers. It was a great, great pity. And any one is to be pitied, who, in thinking of it, has any other feelings than those of compassion—compassion for the man whose life was so much less a blessing to him than it might have been, and compassion for the country, which after producing so rare and excellent a kind of man, lost a great part of the good he might have done her.
The great error of his career, as before remarked, was his turning politician. He was too good for a politician, and not great enough for a statesman.
If his expedition had succeeded, it was in him, I think, to have run a career in Spanish America similar to that of Napoleon in Europe. Like Napoleon, he would have been one of the most amiable despots, and one of the most destructive. Like Napoleon, he would have been sure, at last, to have been overwhelmed in a prodigious ruin. Like Napoleon, he would have been idolized and execrated. Like Napoleon, he would, have had his half dozen friends to go with him to St. Helena. Like Napoleon, he would have justified to the last, with the utmost sincerity, nearly every action of his life.
We live in a better day than he did. Nearly every thing is better now in the United States than it was fifty years ago, and a much larger proportion of the people possess the means of enjoying and improving life. If some evils are more obvious and rampant than they were, they are also better known, and the remedy is nearer ...
Politics, apart from the pursuit of office, have again become real and interesting. The issue is distinct and important enough to justify the intense concern of a nation. To a young man coming upon the stage of life with the opportunities of Aaron Burr, a glorious and genuine political career is possible. The dainty keeping aloof from the discussion of public affairs, which has been the fashion until lately, will not again find favor with any but the very stupid, for a long time to come. The intellect of the United States once roused to the consideration of political questions, will doubtless be found competent to the work demanded of it.
The career of Aaron Burr can never be repeated in the United States. That of itself is a proof of progress. The game of politics which he played is left, in these better days, to far inferior men, and the moral license which he and Hamilton permitted themselves, is not known in the circles they frequented. But the graver errors, the radical vices, of both men belong to human nature, and will always exist to be shunned and battled.
* * * * *
From "Famous Americans."
110. HENRY CLAY'S CAREER AT THE WESTERN BAR.
It is surprising how addicted to litigation were the earlier settlers of the Western States. The imperfect surveys of land, the universal habit of getting goods on credit at the store, and "difficulties" between individuals ending in bloodshed, filled the court calendars, with land disputes, suits for debt, and exciting murder cases, which gave to lawyers more importance and better chances of advancement than they possessed in the older States. Mr. Clay had two strings to his bow. Besides being a man of red-tape and pigeon-holes, exact, methodical, and strictly attentive to business, he had a power over a Kentucky jury such as no other man has ever wielded. To this day nothing pleases aged Kentuckians better than to tell stories which they heard their fathers tell of Clay's happy repartees to opposing counsel, his ingenious cross-questioning of witnesses, his sweeping torrents of invective, his captivating courtesy, his melting pathos. Single gestures, attitudes, tones, have come down to us through two or three memories, and still please the curious guest at Kentucky firesides. But when we turn to the cold records of this part of his life, we find little to justify his traditional celebrity. It appears that the principal use to which his talents were applied during the first years of his practice at the bar, was in defending murderers. He seems to have shared the feeling which then prevailed in the Western country, that to defend a prisoner at the bar is a nobler thing than to assist in defending the public against his further depredations; and he threw all his force into the defence of some men who would have been "none the worse for a hanging." One day, in the streets of Lexington, a drunken fellow whom he had rescued from the murderer's doom, cried out, "Here comes Mr. Clay, who saved my life." "Ah! my poor fellow," replied the advocate, "I fear I have saved too many like you, who ought to be hanged.". The anecdotes printed of his exploits in cheating the gallows of its due, are of a quality which shows that the power of this man over a jury lay much in his manner. His delivery, which "bears absolute sway in oratory," was bewitching and irresistible, and gave to quite common-place wit and very questionable sentiment, an amazing power to please and subdue.
* * * * *
From an Article in the Atlantic Monthly.
111. WESTERN THEATRES.
At the West, along with much reckless and defiant unbelief in every thing high and good, there is also a great deal of that terror-stricken pietism which refuses to attend the theatre unless it is very bad indeed, and is called "Museum." This limits the business of the theatre; and as a good theatre is necessarily a very expensive institution, it improves very slowly, although the Western people are in precisely that state of development and culture to which the drama is best adapted and is most beneficial. We should naturally expect to find the human mind, in the broad, magnificent West, rising superior to the prejudices originating in the little sects of little lands. So it will rise in due time. So it has risen, in some degree. But mere grandeur of nature has no educating effect upon the soul of man; else Switzerland would not have supplied Paris with footmen, and the hackmen of Niagara would spare the tourist. It is only a human mind that can instruct a human mind.
* * * * *
To witness the performance, and to observe the rapture expressed upon the shaggy and good-humored countenances of the boatmen, was interesting, as showing what kind of banquet will delight a human soul, starved from its birth. It likes a comic song very much, if the song refers to fashionable articles of ladies costume, or holds up to ridicule members of Congress, policemen, or dandies. It is not averse to a sentimental song, in which "Mother, dear," is frequently apostrophized. It delights in a farce from which most of the dialogue has been cut away, while all the action is retained,—in which people are continually knocked down, or run against one another with great violence. It takes much pleasure in seeing Horace Greeley play a part in a negro farce, and become the victim of designing colored brethren. But what joy, when the beauteous Terpsichorean nymph bounds upon the scene, rosy with paint, glistening with spangles, robust with cotton and cork, and bewildering with a cloud of gauzy skirts! What a vision of beauty to a man who has seen nothing for days and nights but the hold of a steamboat and the dull shores of the Mississippi!
* * * * *
HISTORY, GENERAL AND SPECIAL.
John Heckewelder, 1743-1823.
From the "Narrative" of the Moravian Missions among the Indians.
112. SETTLEMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN INDIANS.
Both these congregations, being supplied with missionaries and schoolmasters, were so prosperous that they became the admiration of visitors, some of whom thought it next to a miracle that, by the light of the gospel, a savage race should be brought to live together in peace and harmony, and above all devote themselves to religion. The people residing in the neighborhood of those places were also intimate with these Indians, and both were serviceable to each other; one instance of which is here inserted. In February of the year 1761, a white man, who had lost a child, came to Nain weeping, and begging that the Indian Brethren would assist him and his wife to search for his child, which had been missing since the day before. Several of the Indian Brethren immediately went to the house of the parents, and discovered the footsteps of the child, and tracing the same for the distance of two miles, found the child in the woods, wrapped up in its petticoat, and shivering with cold. The joy of the parents was so great that they reported the circumstance wherever they went. To some of the white people, who had been in dread of the near settlement of these Indians, this incident was the means of making them easy, and causing them to rejoice in having such good neighbors.
... The war being over, the Indians who had been engaged in it freely confessed to their friends and relations, and to some white people they had heretofore been acquainted with, that "the Brethren's settlements had been as a stumbling-block to them; that had it not been for these, they would most assuredly have laid waste the whole country from the mountains to Philadelphia; and that many plans had been formed for destroying these settlements."
[Footnote 33: Prominent among the Moravian clergy for his experience of missionary life among the American Indians, for his knowledge of the Indian languages, and for his lifelong devotion to the missionary work.]
* * * * *
Jeremy Belknap, 1744-1798. (Manual, p. 490.)
From "The History of New Hampshire."
113. THE MAST PINE.
Another thing worthy of observation is the aged and majestic appearance of the trees, of which the most noble is the mast pine. This tree often grows to the height of one hundred and fifty, and sometimes two hundred feet. It is straight as an arrow, and has no branches but very near the top. It is from twenty to forty inches in diameter at its base, and appears like a stately pillar, adorned with a verdant capital, in form of a cone. Interspersed among these are the common forest trees of various kinds.
When a mast tree is to be felled, much preparation is necessary. So tall a stick, without any limbs nearer the ground than eighty or a hundred feet, is in great danger of breaking in the fall. To prevent this the workmen have a contrivance which they call bedding the tree, which is thus executed. They know in what direction the tree will fall; and they cut down a number of smaller trees which grow in that direction; or if there be none, they draw others to the spot, and place them so that the falling tree may lodge on their branches; which breaking or yielding under its pressure, render its fall easy and safe. A time of deep snow is the most favorable season, as the rocks are then covered, and a natural bed is formed to receive the tree. When fallen, it is examined, and if to appearance it be sound, it is cut in the proportion of three feet in length to every inch of its diameter, for a mast; but if intended for a bow-sprit or a yard, it is cut shorter. If it be not sound throughout, or if it break in falling, it is cut into logs for the saw-mill.
When a mast is to be drawn on the snow, one end is placed on a sled, shorter, but higher than the common sort, and rests on a strong block, which is laid across the middle of the sled.
In descending a long and steep hill they have a contrivance to prevent the load from making too rapid a descent. Some of the cattle are placed behind it; a chain which is attached to their yokes is brought forward and fastened to the hinder end of the load, and the resistance which is made by these cattle checks the descent. This operation is called tailing. The most dangerous circumstance is the passing over the top of a sharp hill, by which means the oxen which are nearest to the tongues are sometimes suspended, till the foremost cattle can draw the mast so far over the hill as to give them opportunity to recover the ground. In this case the drivers are obliged to use much judgment and care to keep the cattle from being killed. There is no other way to prevent this inconvenience than to level the roads.
* * * * *
David Ramsay, 1749-1815. (Manual, p. 491.)
From "The History of the Revolution in South Carolina."
114. FEELING OF THE PROVINCE TOWARD GREAT BRITAIN.
In South Carolina, an enemy to the Hanoverian succession, or to the British constitution, was scarcely known. The inhabitants were fond of British manners even to excess. They for the most part, sent their children to Great Britain for education, and spoke of that country under the endearing appellation of Home. They were enthusiasts for that sacred plan of civil and religious happiness under which they had grown up and flourished.... Wealth poured in upon them from a thousand channels. The fertility of the soil generously repaid the labor of the husbandman, making the poor to sing, and industry to smile, through every corner of the land. None were indigent but the idle and unfortunate. Personal independence was fully within the reach of every man who was healthy and industrious. The inhabitants, at peace with all the world, enjoyed domestic tranquility, and were secure in their persons and property. They were also completely satisfied with their government, and wished not for the smallest change in their political constitution.
In the midst of these enjoyments, and the most sincere attachment to the mother country, to their king and his government, the people of South Carolina, without any original design on their part, were step by step drawn into an extensive war, which involved them in every species of difficulty, and finally dissevered them from the parent state.
... Every thing in the colonies contributed to nourish a spirit of liberty and independence. They were planted under the auspices of the English constitution in its purity and vigor. Many of their inhabitants had imbibed a largo portion of that spirit which brought one tyrant to the block, and expelled another from his dominions. They were communities of separate, independent individuals, for the most part employed in cultivating a fruitful soil, and under no general influence but of their own feelings and opinions; they were not led by powerful families, or by great officers in church or state.... Every inhabitant was, or easily might be, a freeholder. Settled on lands of his own, he was both farmer and landlord. Having no superior to whom he was obliged to look up, and producing all the necessaries of life from his own grounds, he soon became independent. His mind was equally free from all the restraints of superstition. No ecclesiastical establishment invaded the rights of conscience, or lettered the free-born mind. At liberty to act and think as his inclination prompted, he disdained the ideas of dependence and subjection.
* * * * *
Henry Lee, 1736-1818.
From "Memoirs" of the War in the South.
115. CLARKE'S SERVICES AGAINST THE INDIANS.
JOHN RODGERS CLARKE, colonel in the service of Virginia, against our neighbors the Indians in the revolutionary war, was among our best soldiers, and better acquainted with the Indian warfare than any officer in our army. This gentleman, after one of his campaigns, met in Richmond several of our cavalry officers, and devoted all his leisure in ascertaining from them the various uses to which horse were applied, as well as the manner of such application. The information he acquired determined him to introduce this species of force against the Indians, as that of all others the most effectual.
By himself, by Pickens, and lately by Wayne, was the accuracy of Clarke's opinion justified....
The Indians, when fighting with infantry, are very daring. This temper of mind results from his consciousness of his superior fleetness; which, together with his better knowledge of woods, assures to him extrication out of difficulties, though desperate. This is extinguished when he finds that, he is to save himself from the pursuit of horse, and with its extinction falls that habitual boldness.
[Footnote 34: In the revolutionary war he was distinguished as a cavalry officer, and subsequently, in political life, as a writer and speaker.]
* * * * *
116. THE CAREER OF CAPTAIN KIRKWOOD.
The State of Delaware furnished one regiment only; and certainly no regiment in the army surpassed it in soldiership. The remnant of that corps, less thaw two companies, from the battle of Camden, was commanded by Captain Kirkwood, who passed through the war with high reputation; and yet, as the line of Delaware consisted of but one regiment, and that regiment was reduced to a captain's command. Kirkwood never could be promoted in regular routine—a very glaring defect in the organization of the army, as it gave advantages to parts of the same army denied to other portions of it. The sequel is singularly hard. Kirkwood retired, upon peace, as a captain; and when the army under St. Clair was raised to defend the west from the Indian enemy, this veteran resumed his sword as the eldest captain in the oldest regiment.
In the decisive defeat of the 4th of November, the gallant Kirkwood fell, bravely sustaining his point of the action. It was the thirty-third time he had risked his life for his country; and he died as he had lived, the brave, meritorious, unrewarded Kirkwood.
[Footnote 35: St. Clair's defeat.]
* * * * *
Peter S. Duponceau, 1760-1844.
From "An Address."
117. CHARACTER OF PENN.
WILLIAM PENN stands the first among the lawgivers whose names and deeds are recorded in history. Shall we compare him with Lycurgus, Solon, Romulus, those founders of military commonwealths, who organized their citizens in deadly array against the rest of their species, taught them to consider their fellow-men as barbarians, and themselves as alone worthy to rule over the earth?... But see William Penn, with weaponless hand, sitting down peaceably with his followers, in the midst of savage nations whose only occupation was shedding the blood of their fellow-men, disarming them by his justice, and teaching them, for the first time, to view a stranger without distrust. See them bury their tomahawks in his presence, so deep that man shall never be able to find them again. See them, under the shade of the thick groves of Coaquannock, extend the bright chain of friendship, and solemnly promise to preserve it as long as the sun and moon shall endure. See him then, with his companions, establishing his commonwealth on the sole basis of religion, morality, and universal love, and adopting, as the fundamental maxim of his government, the rule handed down to us from Heaven, "Glory to God on high, and on earth peace and good will towards men."
[Footnote 36: An eminent jurist and philologist, of French origin, but for many years a citizen of Philadelphia.]
* * * * *
Charles J. Ingersoll, 1782-1862.
From the "Historical Sketch" of the War of 1812.
118. CALHOUN CHARACTERIZED
John Caldwell Calhoun was the same slender, erect, and ardent logician, politician, and sectarian, in the House of Representatives in 1814 that he is in the Senate of 1847. Speaking with aggressive aspect, flashing eye, rapid action and enunciation, unadorned argument, eccentricity of judgment, unbounded love of rule, impatient, precipitate, kind temper, excellent in colloquial attractions, caressing the young, not courting rulers; conception, perception, and demonstration quick and clear, with logical precision arguing paradoxes, and carrying home conviction beyond rhetorical illustration; his own impressions so intense as to discredit, scarcely listen to, any other suggestions; well educated and informed.
[Footnote 37: A native of Pennsylvania; long conspicuous in the law, literature, and political life.]
* * * * *
119. BATTLE OF CHIPPEWA.
In a fair national trial of the military faculties, courage, activity, and fortitude, discipline, gunnery, and tactics, for the first time the palm was awarded by Englishmen to Americans over Englishmen. Without fortuitous advantage the Americans proved too much for the redoubtable English, though superior in number, therefore universally arrogating to themselves even with inferior numbers, a mastery but faintly questioned by most Americana; no accident to depreciate the triumph of the younger over the older nation; no more fortune than what favors the bravest.
Physical and even corporeal national characteristics, did not escape comparison in this normal contest. The American rather more active and more demonstrative than his ancestors, many of the officers of imposing figure, Scott and McNeil particularly, towering with gigantic stature above the rest, stood opposed in striking contrast to the short, thick, brawny, burly Briton, hard to overcome.... The Marquis of Tweedale, with his sturdy, short person, and stubborn courage, represented the British.... Even the names betokened at once consanguinity and hostility. Scott, McNeill, and McRee, in arms against Gordon, Hay, and Maconochie. And the harsh Scotch nomenclature, compared with the more euphonious savage Canada, Chippewa, Niagara, which latter modern English prosody has corrupted from the measure of Goldsmith's Traveller:—
"Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around, And Niagara stuns with thundering sound."
... Mankind impressed by numbers and bloodshed, regard the second more extensive battle near the falls of Niagara, on the 25th of the same month, between the same parties with British reinforcements, known as the battle of Bridgewater, as more important than its precursor.... The victory of Chippewa was the resurrection or birth of American arms, after their prostration by so long disuse, and when at length taken up again, by such continual and deplorable failures, that the martial and moral influence of the first decided victory opened and characterized an epoch in the annals and intercourse of the two kindred and rival nations, whose language is to be spoken, as their institutions are rapidly spreading, throughout most of mankind. Fought between only some three or four thousand men in both armies, at a place remote from either of their countries, the battle of Chippewa may not bear vulgar comparison with the great military engagements of modern Europe.
... The charm of British military invincibility was as effectually broken, by a single brigade, as that of naval supremacy was by a single frigate, as much as if a large army or fleet had been the agent.
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Henry M. Brackenridge, 1786-. (Manual, p. 505.)
From "Recollections of the West."
120. OLD ST. GENEVIEVE, IN MISSOURI.
The house of M. Beauvais was a long, low building, with a porch or shed in front, and another in the rear; the chimney occupied the center, dividing the house into two parts, with each a fireplace. One of these served for dining-room, parlor, and principal bed-chamber; the other was the kitchen; and each had a small room taken off at the end for private chambers or cabinets. There was no loft or garret, a pair of stairs being a rare thing in the village. The furniture, excepting the beds and the looking-glass, was of the most common kind.... The yard was enclosed with cedar pickets, eight or ten inches in diameter, and six feet high, placed upright, sharpened at the top, in the manner of a stockade fort. In front the yard was narrow, but in the rear quite spacious, and containing the barn and stables, the negro quarters, and all the necessary offices of a farm-yard. Beyond this, there was a spacious garden enclosed with pickets....
The pursuits of the inhabitants were chiefly agricultural, although all were more or less engaged in traffic for peltries with the Indians, or in working the lead mines in the interior. Peltry and lead constituted almost the only circulating medium. All politics, or discussions of the affairs of government were entirely unknown; the commandant took care of all that sort of thing. But instead of them, the processions and ceremonies of the church, and the public balls, furnished ample matter for occupation and amusement. Their agriculture was carried on in a field of several thousand acres, enclosed at the common expense, and divided into lots.... Whatever they may have gained in some respects, I question very much whether the change of government has contributed to increase their happiness. About a quarter of a mile off, there was a village of Kickapoo Indians, who lived on the most friendly terms with the white people. The boys often intermingled with those of the white village, and practised shooting with the bow and arrow—an accomplishment which I acquired with the rest, together with a little smattering of the Indian language, which I forgot on leaving the place.
[Footnote 38: Distinguished in literature and as a political writer; a native of Pennsylvania.]
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Gulian C. Verplanck, 1786-1870. (Manual, p. 487.)
From the "Literary and Historical Discourses."
121. THE SCHOOLMASTER.
The schoolmaster's occupation is laborious and ungrateful; its rewards are scanty and precarious. He may indeed be, and he ought to be animated by the consciousness of doing good, that best of all consolations, that noblest of all motives. But that too must be often clouded by doubt and uncertainty. Obscure and inglorious as his daily occupation may appear to learned pride or worldly ambition, yet to be truly successful and happy he must be animated by the spirit of the same great principles which inspired the most illustrious benefactors of mankind. If he bring to his task high talent and rich acquirement, he must be content to look into distant years for the proof that his labors have not been wasted, that the good seed which he daily scatters abroad does not fall on stony ground and wither away, or among thorns to be choked by the cares, the delusions, or the vices of the world. He must solace his toils with the same prophetic faith that enabled the greatest of modern philosophers, amidst the neglect or contempt of his own times, to regard himself as sowing the seeds of truth for posterity and the care of Heaven. He must arm himself against disappointment and mortification with a portion of that same noble confidence which soothed the greatest of modern poets when weighed down by care and danger, by poverty, old age, and blindness, still
"—In prophetic dreams he saw The youth unborn with pious awe Imbibe each virtue from his sacred page."
He must know and he must love to teach his pupils not the meager elements of knowledge, but the secret and the use of their own intellectual strength, exciting and enabling them hereafter to raise for themselves the veil which covers the majestic form of Truth. He must feel deeply the reverence due to the youthful mind fraught with mighty though undeveloped energies and affections, and mysterious and eternal destinies. Thence he must have learned to reverence himself and his profession, and to look upon its otherwise ill-requited toils as their own exceeding great reward.
If such are the difficulties and the discouragements, such the duties, the motives, and the consolations of teachers who are worthy of that name and trust, how imperious then the obligation upon every enlightened citizen who knows and feels the value of such men to aid them, to cheer them, and to honor them.
But let us not be content with barren honor to buried merit. Let us prove our gratitude to the dead by faithfully endeavoring to elevate the station, to enlarge the usefulness, and to raise the character of the schoolmaster amongst us. Thus shall we best testify our gratitude to the teachers and guides of our own youth, thus best serve our country, and thus most effectually diffuse over our land light, and truth, and virtue.
[Footnote 39: Bacon.]
* * * * *
John W. Francis, 1789-1861. (Manual, pp. 487, 532.)
From his "Reminiscences."
122. PUBLIC CHANGES DURING A SINGLE LIFETIME.
He who has passed a period of some three score years and upward, some faithful Knickerbocker for instance, native born, and ever a resident among us, whose tenacious memory enables him to meditate upon the thirty thousand inhabitants at the time of his birth, with the almost oppressive population of some seven hundred thousand which the city at present contains; who contrasts the cheap and humble dwellings of that earlier date, with the costly and magnificent edifices which now beautify the metropolis; who studies the sluggish state of the mechanic arts at the dawn of the Republic, and the mighty demonstrations of skill which our Fulton, and our Stevens, our Douglas, our Hoe, and our Morse, have produced; who remembers the few and humble water-craft conveyances of days past, and now beholds the majestic leviathans of the ocean which crowd our harbors; who contemplates the partial and trifling commercial transactions of the Confederacy, with the countless millions of commercial business which engross the people of the present day, in our Union; who estimates the offspring of the press, and the achievements of the telegraph, he who has been the spectator of all this, may be justly said to have lived the period of many generations, and to have stored within his reminiscences the progress of an era the most remarkable in the history of his species.
If he awakens his attention to a consideration of the progress of intellectual and ethical pursuits, if he advert to the prolific demonstrations which surround him for the advancement of knowledge, literary and scientific, moral and religious, the indomitable spirit of the times strikes him with more than logical conviction. The beneficence and humanity of his countrymen may be pointed out by contemplating her noble free schools, her vast hospitals and asylums for the alleviation of physical distress and mental infirmities; with the reflection that all these are the triumphs of a self-governed people, accomplished within the limited memory of an ordinary life. Should reading enlarge the scope of his knowledge, let him study the times of the old Dutch Governors, when the Ogdens erected the first church in the fort of New Amsterdam, in 1642, and then survey the vast panoramic view around him of the two hundred and fifty and more edifices, now consecrated to the solemnities of religious devotion. It imparts gratification to know that the old Bible which was used in that primary church of Van Twiller is still preserved by a descendant of the builder, a precious relic of the property of the older period, and of the devotional impulse of those early progenitors. To crown the whole, time in its course has recognized the supremacy of political and religious toleration, and established constitutional freedom on the basis of equal rights and even and exact justice to all men. That New York has given her full measure of toil, expenditure, and talent in furtherance of these vast results, by her patriots and statesmen, is proclaimed in grateful accents by the myriad voice of the nation at large.
* * * * *
William, Meade, 1789-1862.
From the "Old Churches &c. of Virginia."
123. Character of the Early Virginia Clergy.
It has been made a matter of great complaint against the Legislature of Virginia, that it should not only have withdrawn the stipend of sixteen thousand weight of tobacco from the clergy, but also have seized upon the glebes. I do not mean to enter on the discussion of the legality of that act, or of the motives of those who petitioned for it. Doubtless there were many who sincerely thought that it was both legal and right, and that they were doing God and religion a service by it. I hesitate not, however, to express the opinion, in which I have been and am sustained by many of the best friends of the Church then and ever since, that nothing could have been more injurious to the cause of true religion in the Episcopal Church, or to its growth in any way, than the continuance of either stipend or glebes. Many clergymen of the most unworthy character would have been continued among us, and such a revival as we have seen have never taken place.... Not merely have the pious members of the Church taken this view of the subject, since the revival of it under other auspices, but many of those who preferred the Church at that day, for other reasons than her evangelical doctrine and worship, saw that It was best that she should be thrown upon her own resources. I had a conversation with Mr. Madison, soon after he ceased to be President of the United States, in which I became assured of this. He himself took an active part in promoting the act for the putting down the establishment of the Episcopal Church, while his relative was Bishop of it, and all his family connection attached to it....
It may be well here to state, what will more fully appear when we come to speak of the old glebes and churches in a subsequent number, that the character of the laymen of Virginia for morals and religion was in general greatly in advance of that of the clergy. The latter, for the most part, were the refuse or more indifferent of the English, Irish, and Scotch Episcopal churches, who could not find promotion and employment at home. The former were natives of the soil, and descendants of respectable ancestors, who migrated at an early period.... Some of the vestries, as their records painfully show, did what they could to displace unworthy ministers, though they often failed through defect of law. In order to avoid the danger of having evil ministers fastened upon them, as well as from the scarcity of ministers, they made much use of lay-readers as substitutes.... The reading of the service and sermons in private families, which contributed so much to the preservation of an attachment to the Church in the same, was doubtless promoted by this practice of lay-reading. Those whom Providence raised up to resuscitate the fallen Church of Virginia can testify to the fact that the families who descended from the above mentioned, have been their most effective supports.... And when, in the providence of God. they are called on to leave their ancient homes, and form new settlements in the distant South and West, none are more active and reliable in transplanting the Church of their Fathers.
* * * * *
Jared Sparks, 1794-1866. (Manual, p. 490.)
From "The Life of General Stark."
124. THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON.
The German troops with their battery were advantageously posted upon a rising ground, at a bend in the Wollamsac (a tributary of the Hoosac), on its north bank. The ground fell off to the north and west, a circumstance of which Stark skilfully took advantage. Peters' corps of Tories were entrenched on the other side of the stream, in lower ground, and nearly in front of the German Battery. The little river, that meanders through the scene of the action, is fordable in all places. Stark was encamped upon the same side of it as the Germans, but, owing to its serpentine course, it crossed his line of march twice on his way to their position. Their post was carefully reconnoitered at a mile's distance, and the plan of attack was arranged in the following manner. Colonel Nichols, with two hundred men, was detached to attack the rear of the enemy's left, and Colonel Herrick, with three hundred men, to fall upon the rear of their right, with orders to form a junction before they made the assault. Colonels Hubbard and Stickney were also ordered to advance with two hundred men on their right, and one hundred in front, to divert their attention from the real point of attack. The action commenced at three o'clock in the afternoon, on the rear of the enemy's left, when Colonel Nichols, with great precision, carried into effect the dispositions of the commander. His example was followed by every other portion of the little army. General Stark himself moved forward slowly in front, till he heard the sound of the guns from Colonel Nichols' party, when he rushed upon the Tories, and in a few moments the action became general. "It lasted," says Stark, in his official report, "two hours, and was the hottest I ever saw. It was like one continued clap of thunder." The Indians, alarmed at the prospect of being enclosed between the parties of Nichols and Herrick, fled at the commencement of the action, their main principle of battle array being to contrive or to escape, an ambush, or an attack in the rear. The Tories were soon driven over the river, and were thus thrown in confusion on the Germans, who were forced from their breast-work. Baum made a brave and resolute defence. The German dragoons, with the discipline of veterans, preserved their ranks unbroken, and, after their ammunition was expended, were led to the charge by their Colonel with the sword; but they were overpowered and obliged to give way, leaving their artillery and baggage on the field.
They were well enclosed in two breast-works, which, owing to the rain on the 15th, they had constructed at leisure. But notwithstanding this protection, with the advantage of two pieces of cannon, arms and ammunition in perfect order, and an auxiliary force of Indians, they were driven from their entrenchments by a band of militia just brought to the field, poorly armed, with few bayonets, without field-pieces, and with little discipline. The superiority of numbers on the part of the Americans, will, when these things are considered, hardly be thought to abate anything from the praise due to the conduct of the commander, or the spirit and courage of his men.
* * * * *
From the "Life of Count Pulaski."
125. HIS SERVICES, DEATH, AND CHARACTER.
(The Battle of Brandywine.)—On that occasion, Count Pulaski, as well as Lafayette, was destined to strike his first blow in defence of American liberty. Being a volunteer, and without command, he was stationed near General Washington till towards the close of the action, when he asked the command of the General's body guard,—about thirty horse, and advanced rapidly within pistol-shot of the enemy, and after reconnoitering their movements, returned and reported that they were endeavoring to cut off the line of retreat, and particularly the train of baggage. He was then authorized to collect as many of the scattered troops as came in his way, and employ them according to his discretion, which he did in a manner so prompt and bold, as to effect an important service in the retreat of the army; fully sustaining, by his conduct and courage, the reputation for which the world had given him credit. Four days after this event, he was appointed by Congress to the command of the cavalry, with the rank of brigadier general.
(Before Charleston in 1779.)—Scarcely waiting till the enemy had crossed the ferry, Pulaski sallied out with his legion and a few mounted volunteers, and made an assault upon the advanced parties. With the design of drawing the British into an ambuscade, he stationed his infantry on low ground behind a breast-work, and then rode forward a mile, with his cavalry in the face of a party of light-horse, with whom he came to close quarters, and kept up a sharp skirmish till he was compelled to retreat by the increasing numbers of the enemy. His coolness, courage, and disregard of personal danger, were conspicuous throughout the rencounter, and the example of this prompt and bold attack had great influence in raising the spirits of the people, and inspiring the confidence of the inexperienced troops then assembled in the city. The infantry, impatient to take part in the conflict, advanced to higher ground in front of the breast-work and thus the scheme of an ambuscade was defeated.
(His death at Savannah.)—The cavalry were stationed in the rear of the advanced columns, and in the confusion which appeared in front, and in the obscurity caused by the smoke, Pulaski was uncertain where he ought to act. To gain information on this point, he determined to ride forward in the heat of the conflict, and called to Captain Bentalou to accompany him. They had proceeded but a short distance, when they heard of the havoc that had been produced in the swamp among the French troops. Hoping to animate these troops by his presence, he rushed onward, and while riding swiftly to the place where they were stationed, he received a wound in the groin from a swivel-shot, and fell from his horse near the abattis. Captain Bentalou was likewise wounded by a musket-ball. Count Pulaski was left on the field till nearly all the troops had retreated, when some of his men returned, in the face of the enemy's guns, and took him to the camp. (His character.)—He possessed in a remarkable degree, the power of winning and controlling men, a power so rare that it may be considered not less the fruit of consummate art than the gift of nature. Energetic, vigilant, untiring in the pursuit of an object, fearless, fertile in resources, calm in danger, resolute and persevering under discouragements, he was always prepared for events, and capable of effecting his purposes with the best chance of success.... He embraced our cause as his own, harmonizing, as it did with his principles and all the noble impulses of his nature, the cause of liberty and of human rights; he lost his life in defending it; thus acquiring the highest of all claims to a nation's remembrance and gratitude.
* * * * *
William H. Prescott, 1796-1859. (Manual, p. 494.)
From the "History of Ferdinand and Isabella."
126. MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.
Whatever be the amount of physical good or evil immediately resulting to Spain from her new discoveries, their moral consequences were inestimable. The ancient limits of human thought and action were overleaped; the veil which had covered the secrets of the deep for so many centuries was removed; another hemisphere was thrown open; and a boundless expansion promised to science, from the infinite varieties in which nature was exhibited in these unexplored regions. The success of the Spaniards kindled a generous emulation in their Portuguese rivals, who soon after accomplished their long-sought passage into the Indian seas, and thus completed the great circle of maritime discovery. It would seem as if Providence had postponed this grand event, until the possession of America, with its stores of precious metals, might supply such materials for a commerce with the east, as should bind together the most distant quarters of the globe. The impression made on the enlightened minds of that day is evinced by the tone of gratitude and exultation, in which they indulge, at being permitted to witness the consummation of these glorious events, which their fathers had so long, but in vain, desired to see.
The discoveries of Columbus occurred most opportunely for the Spanish nation, at the moment when it was released from its tumultuous struggle in which it had been engaged for so many years with the Moslems. The severe schooling of these wars had prepared it for entering on a bolder theater of action, whose stirring and romantic perils raised still higher the chivalrous spirit of the people. The operation of this spirit was shown in the alacrity with which private adventurers embarked in expeditions to the New World, under cover of the general license, during the last two years of this century. Their efforts, combined with those of Columbus, extended the range of discovery from its original limits; twenty-four degrees of north latitude, to probably more than fifteen south, comprehending some of the most important territories in the western hemisphere. Before the end of 1500, the principal groups of the West India islands had been visited, and the whole extent of the southern continent coasted from the Bay of Honduras to Cape St. Augustine. One adventurous mariner, indeed, named Lepe, penetrated several degrees south of this, to a point not reached by any other voyager for ten or twelve years after. A great part of the kingdom of Brazil was embraced in this extent, and two successive Castilian navigators landed and took formal possession of it for the crown of Castile, previous to its reputed discovery by the Portuguese Cabral; although the claims to it were relinquished by the Spanish Government, conformably to the famous line of demarkation established by the treaty of Tordesillas.
While the colonial empire of Spain was thus every day enlarging, the man to whom it was all due was never permitted to know the extent, or the value of it. He died in the conviction in which he lived, that the land he had reached was the long-sought Indies. But it was a country far richer than the Indies; and had he on quitting Cuba struck into a westerly, instead of southerly direction, it would have carried him into the very depths of the golden regions, whose existence he had so long and vainly predicted. As it was, he "only opened the gates," to use his own language, for others more fortunate than himself; and, before he quitted Hispaniola for the last time, the young adventurer arrived there, who was destined by the conquest of Mexico to realize all the magnificent visions, which had been derided only as visions, in the lifetime of Columbus.
* * * * *
From "The History of the Conquest of Mexico."
127. PICTURE-WRITING OF THE MEXICANS.
While these things were passing, Cortes observed one of Teuhtlile's attendants busy with a pencil, apparently delineating some object. On looking at his work, he found that it was a sketch, on canvas, of the Spaniards, their costumes, arms, and, in short, different objects of interest, giving to each its appropriate form and color. This was the celebrated picture-writing of the Aztecs, and as Teuhtlile informed him, this man was employed in portraying the various objects for the eye of Montezuma, who would thus gather a more vivid notion of their appearance than from any description by words. Cortes was pleased with the idea; and as he knew how much the effect would be heightened by converting still life into action, he ordered out the cavalry on the beach, the wet sands of which afforded a firm footing for the horses. The bold and rapid movements of the troops, as they went through their military exercises, the apparent ease with which they managed the fiery animals on which they were mounted, the glancing of their weapons, and the shrill cry of the trumpet, all filled the spectators with astonishment; but when they heard the thunders of the cannon, and witnessed the volumes of smoke and flame issuing from these terrible engines, and the rushing sound of the balls, as they dashed through the trees of the neighboring forest, shivering their branches into fragments, they were filled with consternation, from which the Aztec chief himself was not wholly free. Nothing of all this was lost on the painters, who faithfully recorded, after their fashion, every particular, not omitting the ships—"the water-houses," as they called them—of the strangers, which, with their dark hulls and snow-white sails reflected from the water, were swinging lazily at anchor on the calm bosom of the bay. All was depicted with a fidelity that excited in their turn the admiration of the Spaniards, who, doubtless unprepared for this exhibition of skill, greatly overestimated the merits of the execution.
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From "The History of the Conquest of Peru."
128. RANSOM AND DOOM OF THE INCA.
These articles consisted of goblets, ewers, salvers, vases of every shape and size, ornaments and utensils for the temples and the royal palaces, tiles and plates for the decoration of the public edifices, curious imitations of different plants and animals. Among the plants, the most beautiful was the Indian corn, in which the golden ear was sheathed in its broad leaves of silver, from which hung a rich tassel of threads of the same precious metal. A fountain was also much admired, which sent up a sparkling jet of gold, while birds and animals of the same material played in the waters at its base. The delicacy of the workmanship of some of these, and the beauty and ingenuity of the design, attracted the admiration of better judges than the rude Conquerors of Peru.
Before breaking up these specimens of Indian art, it was determined to send a quantity, which should be deducted from the royal fifth, to the Emperor. It would serve as a sample of the ingenuity of the natives, and would show him the value of his conquests. A number of the most beautiful articles was selected, to the amount of a hundred thousand ducats, and Hernando Pizarro was appointed to be the bearer of them to Spain.
The doom of the Inca was proclaimed by sound of trumpet in the great square of Caxamalca; and, two hours after sunset, the Spanish soldiery assembled by torch-light in the plaza to witness the execution of the sentence. It was on the twenty-ninth of August, 1533. Atahuallpa was led out chained hand and foot,—for he had been kept in irons ever since the great excitement had prevailed in the army respecting an assault. Father Vicente de Valverde was at his side, striving to administer consolation, and, if possible, to persuade him at this last hour to abjure his superstition and embrace the religion of his Conquerors. He was willing to save the soul of his victim from the terrible expiation in the next world, to which he had so cheerfully consigned his mortal part in this.
During Atahuallpa's confinement the friar had repeatedly expounded to him the Christian doctrines, and the Indian monarch discovered much acuteness in apprehending the discourse of his teacher. But it had not carried conviction to his mind, and though he listened with patience, he had shown no disposition to renounce the faith of his fathers. The Dominican made a last appeal to him in this solemn hour; and, when Atahuallpa was bound to the stake, with the fagots that were to kindle his funeral pile lying around him, Valverde, holding up the cross, besought him to embrace it, and be baptized, promising that by so doing the painful death to which he had been sentenced should be commuted for the milder form, of the garrote,—a mode of punishment by strangulation, used for criminals in Spain.
The unhappy monarch asked if this were really so, and, on its being confirmed by Pizarro he consented to abjure his own religion, and receive baptism. The ceremony was performed by Father Valverde, and the new convert received the name of Juan de Atahuallpa,—the name of Juan being conferred in honor of John the Baptist, on whose day the event took place.
Atahuallpa expressed a desire that his remains might be transported to Quito, the place of his birth, to be preserved with those of his maternal ancestors. Then turning to Pizarro, as a last request, he implored him to take compassion on his young children, and receive them under his protection. Was there no other one in that dark company who stood grimly around him, to whom he could look for the projection of his offspring? Perhaps he thought there was no other so competent to afford it, and that the wishes so solemnly expressed in that hour might meet with respect even from his Conqueror. Then, recovering his stoical bearing, which for a moment had been shaken, he submitted himself calmly to his fate,—while the Spaniards, gathering around, muttered their credos for the salvation his soul. Thus by the death of a vile malefactor perished the last of the Incas.
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George Bancroft, 1800-. (Manual, pp. 487, 491, 531.)
From the "History of the United States."
129. VIRGINIA AND ITS INHABITANTS IN EARLY TIMES.
The genial climate and transparent atmosphere delighted those who had come from the denser air of England. Every object in nature was new and wonderful. The loud and frequent thunder-storms were phenomena that had been rarely witnessed in the colder summers of the north; the forests, majestic in their growth, and free from underwood, deserved admiration for their unrivalled magnificence; the purling streams and the frequent rivers, flowing between alluvial banks, quickened the ever-pregnant soil into an unwearied fertility; the strangest and the most delicate flowers grew familiarly in the fields; the woods were replenished with sweet barks and odors; the gardens matured the fruits of Europe, of which the growth was invigorated and the flavor improved by the activity of the virgin mould. Especially the birds, with their gay plumage and varied melodies, inspired delight; every traveller expressed his pleasure in listening to the mocking-bird, which carolled a thousand several tunes, imitating and excelling the notes of all its rivals. The humming-bird, so brilliant in its plumage, and so delicate in its form, quick in motion, yet not fearing the presence of man, hunting about the flowers like the bee gathering honey, rebounding from the blossoms into which it dips its bill, and as soon returning "to renew its addresses to its delightful objects," was ever admired as the smallest and the most beautiful of the feathered race. The rattlesnake, with the terrors of its alarms and the power of its venom; the opossum, soon to become as celebrated for the care of its offspring as the fabled pelican: the noisy frog, booming from the shallows like the English bittern; the flying squirrel; the myriads of pigeons, darkening the air with the immensity of their flocks, and, as men believed, breaking with their weight the boughs of trees on which they alighted,—were all honored with frequent commemoration, and became the subjects of the strangest tales. The concurrent relation of all the Indians justified the belief that, within ten days journey towards the setting of the sun, there was a country where gold might be washed from the sand, and where the natives themselves had learned the use of the crucible; but definite and accurate as were the accounts, inquiry was always baffled; and the regions of gold remained for two centuries an undiscovered land.
Various were the employments by which the calmness of life was relieved. George Sandys, an idle man, who had been a great traveller, and who did not remain in America, a poet, whose verse was tolerated by Dryden and praised by Isaac Walton, beguiled the ennui of his seclusion by translating the whole of Ovid's Metamorphoses. To the man of leisure the chase furnished a perpetual resource. It was not long before the horse was multiplied in Virginia; and to improve that noble animal was early an object of pride, soon to be favored by legislation. Speed was especially valued, and "the planters pace" became a proverb....
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130. CONTRAST OF ENGLISH AND FRENCH COLONIZATION IN AMERICA.
In Asia, the victories of Olive at Plassy, of Coote at the Wandewash, and of Watson and Pococke on the Indian seas, had given England the undoubted ascendency in the East Indies, opening to her suddenly the promise of untold treasures and territorial acquisitions without end. In America, the Teutonic race, with its strong tendency to individuality and freedom, was become the master from the Gulf of Mexico to the Poles; and the English tongue, which but a century and a half before had for its entire world a part only of two narrow islands on the outer verge of Europe, was now to spread more widely than any that had ever given expression to human thought.
Go forth, then, language of Milton and Hampden, language of my country, take possession of the North American continent! Gladden the waste places with every tone that has been rightly struck on the English lyre, with every English word that has been spoken well for liberty and for man! Give an echo to the now silent and solitary mountains; gush out with the fountains that as yet sing their anthems all day long without response; fill the valleys with the voices of love in its purity, the pledges of friendship in its faithfulness; and as the morning sun drinks the dewdrops from the flowers all the way from the dreary Atlantic to the Peaceful Ocean, meet him with the joyous hum of the early industry of freemen! Utter boldly and spread widely through the world the thoughts of the coming apostles of the people's liberty, till the sound that cheers the desert shall thrill through the heart of humanity, and the lips of the messenger of the people's power, as he stands in beauty upon the mountains, shall proclaim the renovating tidings of equal freedom for the race!...
France, of all the states on the continent of Europe the most powerful by territorial unity, wealth, numbers, industry, and culture, seemed also by its place marked out for maritime ascendency. Set between many seas, it rested upon the Mediterranean, possessed harbors on the German Ocean, and embraced within its wide shores and jutting headlands, the bays and open, waters of the Atlantic; its people, infolding at one extreme the offspring of colonists from Greece, and at the other, the hardy children of the Northmen, were called, as it were, to the inheritance of life upon the sea. The nation, too, readily conceived or appropriated great ideas, and delighted in bold resolves. Its travellers had penetrated farthest into the fearful interior of unknown lands; its missionaries won most familiarly the confidence of the aboriginal hordes; its writers described with keener and wiser observation the forms of nature in her wildness, and the habits and languages of savage man; its soldiers,—and every lay Frenchman in America owed military service,—uniting beyond all others celerity with courage, knew best how to endure the hardships of forest life and to triumph in forest warfare. Its ocean chivalry had given a name and a colony to Carolina, and its merchants a people to Acadia. The French discovered the basin of the St. Lawrence; were the first to explore and possess the banks of the Mississippi, and planned an American empire that should unite the widest valleys and most copious inland waters of the world.
But new France was governed exclusively by the monarchy of its metropolis; and was shut against the intellectual daring of its philosophy, the liberality of its political economists, the movements of its industrial genius, its legal skill, and its infusion of Protestant freedom. Nothing representing the new activity of thought in modern France, went to America. Nothing had leave to go there but what was old and worn out.
The colonists from England brought over the forms of the government of the mother country, and the purpose of giving them a better development and a fairer career in the western world. The French emigrants took with them only what belonged to the past, and nothing that represented modern freedom. The English emigrants retained what they called English privileges, but left behind in the parent country English inequalities, the monarch, and nobility, and prelacy. French America was closed against even a gleam of intellectual independence; nor did it contain so much as one dissenter from the Roman Church; English America had English liberties in greater purity and with far more of the power of the people than England. Its inhabitants were self-organized bodies of freeholders, pressing upon the receding forests, winning their way farther and farther forward every year, and never going back. They had schools, so that in several of the colonies there was no one to be found beyond childhood, who could not read and write; they had the printing press scattering among them books, and pamphlets, and many newspapers; they had a ministry chiefly composed of men of their own election. In private life they were accustomed to take care of themselves; in public affairs they had local legislatures, and municipal self-direction. And now this continent from the Gulf of Mexico to where civilized life is stayed by barriers of frost, was become their dwelling-place and their heritage.
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From "The History of the United States."
131. DEATH OF MONTCALM.
But already the hope of New France was gone. Born and educated in camps, Montcalm had been carefully instructed, and was skilled in the language of Homer as well as in the art of war. Greatly laborious, just, disinterested, hopeful even to rashness, sagacious in council, swift in action, his mind was a well-spring of bold designs; his career in Canada a wonderful struggle against inexorable destiny. Sustaining hunger and cold, vigils and incessant toil, anxious for his soldiers, unmindful of himself, he set, even to the forest-trained red men, an example of self-denial and endurance, and in the midst of corruption made the public good his aim. Struck by a musket ball, as he fought opposite Monckton, he continued in the engagement, till, in attempting to rally a body of fugitive Canadians in a copse near St. John's gate, he was mortally wounded.
On hearing from the surgeon that death was certain, "I am glad of it," he cried; "how long shall I survive?" "Ten or twelve hours, perhaps less." "So much the better; I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec." To the council of war he showed that in twelve hours all the troops near at hand might be concentrated and renew the attack before the English were intrenched. When De Ramsay, who commanded the garrison, asked his advice about defending the city, "To your keeping," he replied, "I commend the honor of France. As for me, I shall pass the night with God, and prepare myself for death," Having written a letter recommending the French prisoners to the generosity of the English, his last hours were given to the hope of endless life, and at five the next morning he expired.
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From "The History of the United States."
132. CHARACTER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
From the fullness of his own mind, without consulting one single book, Jefferson drafted the declaration, he submitted it separately to Franklin and to John Adams, accepted from each of them one or two unimportant verbal corrections, and on the twenty-eighth of June reported it to Congress, which now on the second of July immediately after the resolution of independence entered upon its consideration. During the remainder of that day and the next two, the language, the statements, and the principles of the paper were closely scanned.
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This immortal state paper, which for its composer was the aurora of enduring fame, was "the genuine effusion of the soul of the country at that time," the revelation of its mind, when, in its youth, its enthusiasm, its sublime confronting of danger, it rose to the highest creative powers of which man is capable. The bill of rights which it promulgates, is of rights that are older than human institutions, and spring from the eternal justice that is anterior to the state. Two political theories divided the world: one founded the commonwealth on the reason of state, the policy of expediency, the other on the immutable principles of morals; the new republic, as it took its place among the powers of the world, proclaimed its faith in the truth and reality and unchangeableness of freedom, virtue, and right. The heart of Jefferson in writing the declaration, and of Congress in adopting it, beat for all humanity; the assertion of right was made for the entire world of mankind, and all coming generations, without any exception whatever; for the proposition which admits of exceptions can never be self-evident. As it was put forth in the name of the ascendant people of that time, it was sure to make the circuit of the world, passing everywhere through the despotic countries of Europe; and the astonished nations as they read that all men are created equal, started out of their lethargy, like those who have been exiles from childhood, when they suddenly hear the dimly remembered accents of their mother tongue.
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133. EARLIER POLICY OF SPAIN IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
The King of France, whilst he declared his wish to make no conquest whatever in the war, held out to the King of Spain, with the consent of the United States, the acquisition of Florida; but Florida had not power to allure Charles the Third, or his ministry, which was a truly Spanish ministry, and wished to pursue a truly Spanish policy. There was indeed one word which, if pronounced, would be a spell potent enough to alter their decision; a word that calls the blood into the cheek of a Spaniard as an insult to his pride, a brand of inferiority on his nation. That word was Gibraltar. Meantime, the King of Spain declared that he would not then, nor in the future, enter into the quarrel of France and England; that he wished to close his life in tranquility, and valued peace too highly to sacrifice it to the interests or opinions of another.
So the flags of France and the United States went together into the field against Great Britain, unsupported by any other government, yet with the good wishes of all the peoples of Europe. The benefit then conferred on the United States was priceless. In return, the revolution in America came opportunely for France.... For the blessing of that same France, America brought new life and hope; she superseded scepticism by a wise and prudent enthusiasm in action, and bade the nation that became her ally lift up its heart from the barrenness of doubt to the highest affirmation of God and liberty, to freedom and union with the good, the beautiful, and the true.
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J.G.M. Ramsey, about 1800-.
From "The Annals of Tennessee."
134. SKETCH OF GENERAL JOHN SEVIER.
The Etowah campaign was the last military service rendered by Sevier, and the only one for which he ever received compensation from the government. For nearly twenty years he had been constantly engaged in incessant and unremitted service. He was in thirty-five battles, some of them hardly contested, and decisive. He was never wounded, and in all his campaigns and battles was successful and the victor. He was careful of the lives of his soldiery; and, although he always led them to the victory, he lost, in all his engagements with the enemy, but fifty-six men. The secret of his invariable success was the impetuosity and vigor of his charge. Himself an accomplished horseman, a graceful rider, passionately fond of a spirited charger, always well mounted, at the head of his dragoons, he was at once in the midst of the fight. His rapid movement, always unexpected and sudden, disconcerted the enemy, and, at the first onset, decided the victory. He was the first to introduce the Indian war-whoop in his battles with the savages, the Tories, and the British. More harmless than the leaden missile, it was not less efficient, and was always the precursor and attendant of victory. The prisoners at King's Mountain said, "We could stand your fighting; but your cursed hallooing confused us. We thought the mountains had regiments, instead of companies." Sevier's enthusiasm was contagious; he imparted it to his men. He was the idol of the soldiery; and his orders were obeyed cheerfully, and executed with precision. In a military service of twenty years, one instance is not known of insubordination, on the part of the soldier, or of discipline by the commander.
Sevier's troops were generally his neighbors, and the members of his own family. Often no public provision was made for their pay, equipments, or subsistence. These were furnished by himself, being at once commander, commissary, and paymaster. The soldiery rendezvoused at his house, which often became a cantonment; his fields, ripe or unripe, were given up to his horsemen; powder and lead, provisions, clothing, even all he had, belonged to his men.
The Etowah campaign terminated the military services of General Sevier. Hereafter, we will have to record his not less important agency in the civil affairs of Tennessee.
[Footnote 40: A native of Tennessee. His Annals contain much valuable material.]
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Charles Gayarre, 1805-. (Manual, p. 490.)
From the "History of Louisiana."
135. GENERAL JACKSON AT NEW ORLEANS.
His very physiognomy prognosticated what soul was encased within the spare but well-ribbed form which had that "lean and hungry look" described by England's greatest bard as bespeaking little sleep of nights, but much of ambition, self-reliance, and impatience of control. His lip and eye denoted the man of unyielding temper, and his very hair, slightly silvered, stood erect like quills round his wrinkled brow, as if they scorned to bend. Some sneered, it is true, at what they called a military tyro, at the impromptu general who had sprung out of the uncouth lawyer and the unlearned judge, who in arms had only the experience of a few months, acquired in a desultory war against wild Indians, and who was, not only without any previous training to his new profession, but also without the first rudiments of a liberal education, for he did not even know the orthography of his own native language. Such was the man who, with a handful of raw militia, was to stand in the way of the veteran troops of England, whose boast it was to have triumphed over one of the greatest captains known in history. But those who entertained such distrust had hardly come in contact with General Jackson, when they felt that they had to deal with a master-spirit. True, he was rough hewn from the rock, but rock he was, and of that kind of rock which Providence chooses to select as a fit material to use in its structures of human greatness. True, he had not the education of a lieutenant in a European army; but what lieutenant, educated or not, who had the will and the remarkable military adaptation so evident in General Jackson's intellectual and physical organization, ever remained a subaltern? Much less could General Jackson fail to rise to his proper place in a country where there was so much more elbow-room, and fewer artificial obstacles than in less favored lands. But, whatever those obstacles might have been, General Jackson would have overcome them all. His will was of such an extraordinary nature that, like Christian faith, it could almost have accomplished prodigies and removed mountains. It is impossible to study the life of General Jackson without being convinced that this is the most remarkable feature of his character. His will had, as it were, the force and the fixity of fate; that will carried him triumphantly through his military and civil career, and through the difficulties of private life. So intense and incessantly active this peculiar faculty was in him, that one would suppose that his mind was nothing but will—a will so lofty that it towered into sublimity. In him it supplied the place of genius—or, rather, it was almost genius. On many occasions, in the course of his long, eventful life, when his shattered constitution made his physicians despair of preserving him, he seemed to continue to live merely because it was his will; and when his unconquerable spirit departed from his enfeebled and worn-out body, those who knew him well might almost have been tempted to suppose that he had not been vanquished by death, but had at last consented to repose. This man, when he took the command at New Orleans, had made up his mind to beat the English; and, as that mind was so constituted that it was not susceptible of entertaining much doubt as to the results of any of its resolves, he went to work with an innate confidence which transfused itself into the population he had been sent to protect.