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ment, and I will not surrender my relation to that enterprise whether I gain or lose the position with which my name has been once more associated.
“ “ Yours, very truly, J. W. FORNEY. “ Hon. John B. HASKIN.'”
A curious sequel to this same evening happened while I was in London in May of 1867. I was invited to a club of young Englishmen who had been the pronounced friends of our Union during the war. Mr. Benjamin Moran, the accomplished Secretary of the American Legation, kindly accompanied me, and introduced me to most of those present. One gentleman was especially cordial, Lord Frederick Cavendish, second son of the Duke of Devonshire. I found him an advanced Liberal, and very pleasant and intelligent. As we sat smoking together on the sofa, he turned to me and said : “By-the-way, I heard you make a very fiery speech on a very cold night in Washington, in the early winter of 1860. It was from the window or balcony of a house on Missouri Avenue.” I looked at him with surprise, when he laughingly said: "I lived in Washington for some time as a member of the British embassy, and felt an interest in the Democratic dissensions. When you were elected Clerk, myself and two friends took a carriage, and, expecting a speech, rode to your lodgings, and we were well rewarded even for the cold we endured among the outside audience.” It was a pleasant and a curious reminiscence, and as such I record it in these hasty sketches.
[February 26, 1870.]
The public man with a reputation for wit is apt to become responsible for all the best jokes, old and new. Many a Joe Miller was and is still credited to Thaddeus Stevens and Abra
ham Lincoln. Things they never said, now that both are gone, are boldly laid upon their memories. But no two men, perhaps, so entirely different in character, ever threw off more spontaneous jokes. Mr. Stevens rarely told a story. He was strong in repartee, in retort, in quiet interrogatory. He must have been terrible at the cross-examination of a witness. There is nothing finer, as I think, in the annals of humor than his quaint questions to David Reese and John Chauncey, the two officers of the House who in his last days used to carry him in a large arm-chair from his lodgings across the public grounds up the broad stairs of the noble Capitol—“Who will be so good to me and take me up in their strong arms when you two mighty men are gone?” Here was not only uncommon wit, but a sense of intellectual immortality. A consciousness of superiority of another sort was his answer to John Hickman, who called as Stevens laid on his bed, when he felt the grip of the grim messenger fastening on him. Hickman told the old man he was looking well. "Ah, John!" was his quick reply, “it is not my appearance, but my disappearance, that troubles me." A member of the House who was known for his uncertain course on all questions, and who often confessed that he never fully investigated a mooted point without finding himself a neutral, asked for leave of absence. “Mr. Speaker," said Stevens, "I do not rise to object, but to suggest that the honorable member need not ask this favor, for he can easily pair off with himself.” He was charitable, but never ostentatiously so. “Oh, sir!" said a beggar woman to him one cold morning as he was limping to the House, “Oh, sir! I have just lost all the money I had in the world." “ And how much was that?” 'Oh, sir ! it was seventy-five cents.” “You don't say so," was the old man's answer, as he put a five-dollar bill into her hands; "and how wonderful it is that I should have just found what you had lost!”
Shortly after I was elected Clerk of the House, in 1860, a lady friend, since deceased, called my attention to the fact that the wife of one of her best servants, Sam, was about to be sent away from him to Georgia, and that unless over eight hundred dollars could be raised for her in forty-eight hours, her master, a man living at Georgetown, D. C., would be sure to sell her to strangers. The case was a terrible one. Sam was a fine fellow, and his distress was grievous. I sat down and wrote out the facts, headed the subscription, and in a few hours raised the money, paying over three hundred dollars myself. The papers were made out to me, and I set the woman free. “Well,” said Mr. Stevens, as he paid his fifty dollars, “this is the first time I ever heard of a Democrat buying a negro and then giving her her liberty!"
He affected much indignation when President Lincoln consigned Roger A. Pryor to me as a sort of prisoner-guest in 1865, and regularly every morning would greet me with the grim remark: "How is your Democratic friend, General Pryor? I hope you are both well.” I was a little annoyed by his sarcasm, and when an appeal was made to me by an old citizen to assist in pardoning another Confederate, I referred him to Mr. Stevens. He happened to know the Great Commoner, and went over to him with my message. Judge of my surprise when he returned with the proposition that whatever I wrote he [Stevens) would sign. I dictated the strongest appeal to the President, and Mr. Stevens put his name to it. Of course, I indorsed the petition ; but I did not fail to remind my neighbor that very day of his inconsistency. “Oh! you need not be riled about it,” was the retort; “I saw you were going heavily into the Pardon business, and thought I would take a hand in it myself.”
Mr. Lincoln was a humorist of another school. He delighted in parables and stories. His treasures of memory were inexhaustible. He never failed for an illustration. He liked the short farce better than the five-act tragedy. He would shout
with laughter over a French, German, or negro anecdote, and he was always ready to match the best with a better. More than once, when I bore a message to him from the Senate, he detained me with some amusing sketch of Western life. He seemed to have read the character, and to know the peculiarities of every leading man in Congress and the country, and would play off many an innocent joke upon them. I will not attempt to repeat what has been so often described. There was also a sacred confidence around many of those scenes which could not be violated without offense to many living good men ; and as I do not write to wound the feelings, I will not profane an illustrious memory by reviving what would only give unnecessary pain.
His two inaugurations were accompanied by apprehensions of his assassination, and the second was followed in a little more than a month by his murder. At the inauguration of March 4, 1861, I was present as Clerk of the House. At the inauguration of March 4, 1865, I was present as Secretary of the Senate. James Buchanan, as ex-President, heard the remarkable first message of the man who succeeded him, just as Andrew Johnson heard the still more remarkable inauguration of the man he succeeded. War followed the one, peace and assassination the other. The scene in the Senate of the United States on the 4th of March 1865, when Andrew Johnson was sworn in as Vice-President, has too often been painted to be set out into daylight again. Let it rest. I refer to it now only to relate one incident. After we reached the eastern and middle portion of the Capitol, where Mr. Lincoln took the oath, Johnson was under a state of great excitement, and was in my immediate charge. I was confident, however, that he would be subdued before the President finished his inaugural. To the surprise of every body however, except, perhaps, the Cabinet, Mr. Lincoln did not consume five minutes in repeating it. As soon as the people outside saw that he was done, loud cries were raised for Johnson, upon which we hastily retreated to the Senate chamber, and closed the unhappy and inauspicious day. On the 14th of the succeeding month of April, the murder planned four years before, and baffled by superior foresight, was executed, and Abraham Lincoln was dying from the pistol-shot of Booth.
[March 5, 1871.)
CIRCUMSTANCE often controls men as inexorably as conscience. Many a Confederate would have been a Radical if he had lived in the North, just as many a Radical would have been a Confederate if he had lived in the South. Howell Cobb was one of the best types of this idea. There was an undercurrent of anti-slavery, or rather a profound devotion to the Union, in his nature. Take his campaign against the Nullifiers of the South in 1850, when he ran as an independent candidate for governor of Georgia, and was elected over Charles J. McDonald, the leader of the Calhounites. At the close of his first eight years in Congress, and at the end of his Speakership of the House, I sat with him in his official room at the Capitol, and heard his eloquent declaration that he would make war upon these men, cost him what it might. The contest was exciting to a degree. Personal vituperation and personal threats were as common against Cobb as they were twenty years after against Bullock, the Republican governor of Georgia. In 1855 Governor Cobb was again sent to Congress, and there took early and patriotic ground against the extremists. He was so anxious to make Mr. Buchanan President, that in 1856, on my invitation, he came into Pennsylvania, and traversed Chester County with John Hickman, pledging the Democracy to justice