« PreviousContinue »
proudly give it all? keeping no part of it back for any end or any passion of our own, though dear, it may be, as a right eye or a right arm. If any of us can not—if there is any lingering, denying, clinging feeling which the heart will not or can not deliver over at such a moment, let us tear that heart from our bosom if we can, and lift up our supplications to the Father above that he would send us another in its place, better fitted for the sight of Heaven and for the service and fellowship of man.
“Give us in our duties here but something of the spirit of the Roman father, who delivered up his son to the axe of justice because he loved his country better than his blood, or that of the gallant young officer of the Revolution, who was detected and executed while performing under the orders of his immortal chief the service of a spy. [Lieutenant Hale.] When led to the spot of execution, as he stood upon it and looked forth, for the last time, upon the smile of day, and upon the bright and benignant sun of Heaven as it beamed upon him, and felt the agony that all--all was gone, his young and hopeful and joyous nature involuntarily shrank, and he is said to have cried out with impassioned exclamations : 'Oh, it is a bitter, bitter thing to die, and how bitter, too, to know that I have but one life which I can give to my country! Give us only this spirit for our work here; doubt not but that it will be approved of by our land, and be crowned with a long futurity of thankfulness and rejoicing."
The other scene was when, some ten years later, Owen Lovejoy, of Illinois, startled the House by one of those terrific explosions of eloquence so uncommon in these now formal times. It will be recollected that his brother had been killed by a proslavery mob at Alton, Illinois, some years before, simply for publishing an anti-slavery paper. He made this the text of his argument, and never was there a more thrilling or effective one. He was much affected, and his emotions affected others on both sides of the House. I regret I can not fix the exact date of this memorable display, to complete the parallel with the Virginia statesman and patriot.
They were eminently representative men. As orators they were most dissimilar. McDowell was tall and dignified; Lovejoy short, quick, and impetuous. McDowell's complexion was light; Lovejoy's dark as a Spaniard's, save in moments of excitement, when it fairly glowed. Had McDowell lived during the war he would undoubtedly have been a Secessionist, like all of his school; but his words are not less applicable to-day than they were in 1850: Lovejoy lived to see three years of war, and to enjoy the abolition of slavery, for which he had prayed and toiled. He preceded his friend, Abraham Lincoln, a little more than a twelvemonth. I knew him well. He was as generous as he was brave; as gentle as he was sincere. A devoted friend, a chivalric foe, he has left a record honorable to himself, his posterity, and his country.
McDowell died in August of 1851, in less than a year after his noble speech from which I quote, aged fifty-five. Lovejoy died March 25, 1864, aged fifty-three. They should have lived longer, but they lived long enough to leave thousands to mourn their loss and to revere their memory.
[March 2, 1871.]
JAMES BUCHANAN had, like most men, a few favorite anecdotes, which he was sure to reproduce to every new visitor who ate his excellent dinners and drank his nutty old Madeira. One of these related to President Jackson. It was a custom of Mr. Buchanan's enemies to say that he never had the entire confidence of Old Hickory. Certain it is he never had the support of Amos Kendall, Francis P. Blair, or Andrew J. Donel
son, Jackson's immediatè friends, or Kitchen Cabinet; yet not less true is it that, when James K. Polk was chosen President in 1844, the venerable Jackson, then at the Hermitage, near Nashville, wrote a strong letter to his friend and neighbor, the new Chief Magistrate, recommending Mr. Buchanan for Secretary of State. George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, was chosen Vice-President on the same ticket with Mr. Polk. He, like Buchanan, was a standing candidate for the first office in the nation, and it may well be conceived that there was no love lost between the rivals and their friends. What reader of these sketches who lives in Pennsylvania does not remember those days? Colonel James Page, Benjamin Harris Brewster, George W. Barton, Horn R. Kneass, Henry M. Phillips, Henry Simpson, William Badger, Ellis B. Schnable, and last, not least, Henry Horn, were among the leaders who fought under the respective banners of Dallas and Buchanan. The city of Philadelphia was the theatre of their bitter contests for many years. But the great field of strife was Harrisburg. Simon Cameron, of Dauphin ; Reah Frazer and Benjamin Champneys, of Lancaster; Arnold Plumer, of Venango; Wilson McCandless, H. S. Magraw, and S. W. Black, of Alleghany; Henry D. Foster, of Westmoreland; Henry Welsh, of York; Morrow B. Lowry, of Erie; John Hickman and Wilmer Worthington, of Chester; John B. Sterigere, of Montgomery; Richard Brodhead and A. H. Reeder, of Northampton; C. L. Ward, David Wilmot, and Victor E. Piollet, of Bradford; W. F. Packer, of Lycoming; Asa Packer, of Carbon—these and a host more, many since dead, stood forth to fight for these two men in the Democratic State Conventions with a devotion not usual in these more selfish times. The election of Dallas was a hard blow at our Buchan. an side of the house; but J. B. was not easily baffled; and so, when we got Old Hickory to indorse him for Secretary of State, we felt that we had checkmated the Philadelphia favorite. And we were right, for no Vice-President was ever more ignored than George M. Dallas-not even John C. Breckinridge, who fell under the suspicion of President Buchanan the moment he was nominated, and never fully recovered from it. Notwithstanding this, James Buchanan retained George M. Dallas as minister to England all through his rule, and thereby proved that if he could forget a friend he could also forgive a foe.
But to my anecdote. I heard Mr. Buchanan repeat it the last time at the Sunday dinner-table of John T. Sullivan, of Washington, one of the most interesting and genial of men, known and beloved alike at the nation's capital and in Philadelphia. He was a Democrat of the old school-a Jackson Democrat; was a Government director in the Bank of the United States with Peter Wager and Henry D. Gilpin; and yet he was so cosmopolitan and catholic that every man of distinction was glad to receive and prompt to accept his invitations. Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Crittenden, Clayton, Silas Wright, Doctor Linn, Colonel Benton, Sam Houston, William C. Rives, Charles Jared Ingersoll, Edward Everett, Rufus Choate, frequently discussed public affairs over his roast beef, baked potatoes, and iced wines. I was a boy when first asked into this select circle, with its feast of reason and its flow of soul-its generous inaugural of soup, re-enforced by good wines, and supplemented, after dinner, by unforgotten punch, brewed by the hand of the good old man now in his grave. At one of these dinners I heard Old Buck repeat his story of General Jackson, probably for the hundredth time.
Shortly after Mr. Buchanan's return from Russia in 1834, to which he had been sent by President Jackson in 1832, and immediately following his election to the Senate of the United States by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, to fill the unexpired term of William Wilkins, resigned, who, in his turn, was seni to succeed Buchanan in the same foreign mission, Buchanan called upon Old Hickory with a fair English lady, whom he desired to present to the head of the American nation. Leaving her in the
reception-room down stairs, he ascended to the President's private quarters and found General Jackson unshaved, unkempt, in his dressing-gown, with his slippered feet on the fender before a blazing wood fire, smoking a corn-cob pipe of the old Southern school. He stated his object, when the General said he would be very glad to meet the handsome acquaintance of the new bachelor Senator. Mr. Buchanan was always careful of his personal appearance, and, in some respects, was a sort of masculine Miss Fribble, addicted to spotless cravats and huge collars ; rather proud of a small foot for a man of his large stature, and to the last of his life what the ladies would call “a very good figure.” Having just returned from a visit to the fashionable continental circles, after two years of thorough intercourse with the etiquette of one of the stateliest courts in Europe, he was somewhat shocked at the idea of the President meeting the eminent English lady in such a guise, and ventured to ask if he did not intend to change his attire, whereupon the old warrior rose, with his long pipe in his hand, and, deliberately knocking the ashes out of the bowl, said to his friend : "Buchanan, I want to give you a little piece of advice, which I hope you will remember. I knew a man once who made his fortune by attending to his own business. Tell the lady I will see her presently.”
The man who became President in 1856 was fond of saying that this remark of Andrew Jackson humiliated him more than any rebuke he had ever received. He walked down stairs to meet his fair charge, and in a very short time President Jackson entered the room, dressed in a full suit of black, cleanly shaved, with his stubborn white hair forced back from his remarkable face, and, advancing to the beautiful Britisher, saluted her with almost kingly grace. As she left the White House she exclaimed to her escort,“ Your republican President is the royal model of a gentleman.”
[April 9, 1871.]