THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS
VOL. VI.—DECEMBER, 1860.—NO. XXXVIII
THE UNITED STATES AND THE BARBARY STATES.
Speak of the relations between the United States and the Barbary Regencies at the beginning of the century, and most of our countrymen will understand the War with Tripoli. Ask them about that Yankee crusade against the Infidel, and you will find their knowledge of it limited to Preble's attack. On this bright spot in the story the American mind is fixed, regardless of the dish we were made to eat for five-and-twenty years. There is also current a vague notion, which sometimes takes the shape of an assertion, that we were the first nation who refused to pay tribute to the Moorish pirates, and thus, established a now principle in the maritime law of the Mediterranean. This, also, is a patriotic delusion. The money question between the President and the Pacha was simply one of amount. Our chief was willing to pay anything in reason; but Tripolitan prices were too high, and could not be submitted to.
The burning of the Philadelphia and the bombardment of Tripoli are much too fine a subject for rhetorical pyrotechnics to have escaped lecturers and orators of the Fourth-of-July school. We have all heard, time and again, how Preble, Decatur, Trippe, and Somers cannonaded, sabred, and blew up these pirates. We have seen, in perorations glowing with pink fire, the Genius of America, in full naval uniform, sword in hand, standing upon a quarter-deck, his foot upon the neck of a turbaned Turk, while over all waves the flag of Freedom.
The Moorish sketch is probably different. In it, Brother Jonathan must appear with his liberty-cap in one hand and a bag of dollars in the other, bowing humbly before a well-whiskered Mussulman, whose shawl is stuck full of poniards and pistols. The smooth-faced unbeliever begs that his little ships may be permitted to sail up and down this coast unmolested, and promises to give these and other dollars, if his Highness, the Pacha, will only command his men to keep the peace on the high-seas. This picture is not so generally exhibited here; but it is quite as correct as the other, and as true to the period.
The year after Preble's recall, another New-England man, William Eaton, led an army of nine Americans from Egypt to Derne, the easternmost province of Tripoli,—a march of five hundred miles over the Desert. He took the capital town by storm, and would have conquered the whole Regency, if he had been supplied with men and money from our fleet. "Certainly," says Pascal Paoli Peek, a non-commissioned officer of marines, one of the nine, "certainly it was one of the most extraordinary expeditions ever set on foot." Whoever reads the story will be of the same opinion as this marine with the wonderful name. Never was the war carried into Africa with a force so small and with completer success. Yet Eaton has not had the luck of fame. He was nearly forgotten, in spite of a well-written Life by President Felton, in Sparks's Collection, until a short time since; when he was placed before the public in a somewhat melodramatic attitude, by an article in a New York pictorial monthly. It is not easy to explain this neglect. We know that our Temple of Fame is a small building as yet, and that it has a great many inhabitants,—so many, indeed, that worthy heroes may easily be overlooked by visitors who do not consult the catalogue. But a man who has added a brilliant page to the Gesta Dei per Novanglos deserves a conspicuous niche. A brief sketch of his doings in Africa will give a good view of the position of the United States in Barbary, in the first years of the Republic.
Sixty years ago, civilized Europe not only tolerated the robbery, the murder, and the carrying into captivity of her own people, but actually recognized this triple atrocity as a privilege inherent to certain persons of Turkish descent and Mahometan religion inhabiting the northern coast of Africa. England or France might have put them down by a word long before; but, as the corsairs chiefly ravaged the defenceless coasts of Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples, the two great powers had no particular interest in crushing them. And there was always some jealous calculation of advantage, some pitiful project of turning them to future account, which prevented decisive action on the part of either nation. Then the wars which followed the French Revolution kept Europe busy at home and gave the Barbary sailors the opportunity of following their calling for a few years longer with impunity. The English, with large fleets and naval stations in the Mediterranean, had nothing to fear from them, and were, probably, not much displeased with the contributions levied upon the commerce of other nations. Barbary piracy was a protective tax in favor of British bottoms. French merchantmen kept at home. Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland tried to outbid one another for the favor of the Dey, Bey, and Pacha, and were robbed and enslaved whenever it suited the interests of their Highnesses. The Portuguese kept out of the Mediterranean, and protected their coast by guarding the Straits of Gibraltar.
Not long before the French Revolution, a new flag in their waters had attracted the greedy eyes of the Barbarians. When they learned that it belonged to a nation thousands of miles away, once a colony of England, but now no longer under her protection, they blessed Allah and the Prophet for sending these fish to their nets; and many Americans were made to taste the delights of the Patriarchal Institution in the dockyards of Algiers. As soon as the Federal Government was fairly established, Washington recommended to Congress to build a fleet for the protection of citizens in the Mediterranean. But the young nation needed at first all its strength to keep itself upright at home; and the opposition party professed a theory, that it would be safer and cheaper for the United States to give up ships altogether, and to get other people to carry for them. Consequently the plan of negotiating was resorted to. Agents were sent to Algiers to ransom the captives and to obtain a treaty by presents and the payment of a fixed tribute. Such a treaty was made in the summer of 1796. In March of the succeeding year, the Dey showed so much ill-temper at the backwardness of our payments, that Joel Barlow, the American Commissioner, thought it necessary to soothe his Highness by the promise of a frigate to be built and equipped in the United States. Thus, with Christian meekness, we furnished the Mussulman with a rod for our own backs. These arrangements cost the United States about a million of dollars, all expenses included.
Having pacified Algiers, Mr. Barlow turned his attention to Tunis. Instead of visiting the Bey in person, he appointed a European merchant, named Famin, residing in Tunis, agent to negotiate a treaty for the United States. Of Famin Mr. Barlow knew nothing, but considered his French birth and the recommendation of the French Consul for Algiers sufficient proofs of his qualifications. Besides attending to his own trade, Monsieur Famin was in the habit of doing a little business for the Bey, and took care to make the treaty conform to the wishes of his powerful partner. The United States were to pay for the friendship and forbearance of Tunis one hundred and seven thousand dollars in money, jewels, and naval stores. Tunisian cargoes were to be admitted into American ports on payment of three per cent; the same duty to be levied at Tunis on American shipments. If the Bey saluted an American man-of-war, he was to receive a barrel of powder for every gun fired. And he reserved the right of taking any American ship that might be in his harbor into his service to carry despatches or a cargo to any port in the Mediterranean.
When the treaty reached the United States, the Senate refused to ratify it. President Adams appointed Eaton, formerly a captain in the army, Consul for Tunis, with directions to present objections to the articles on the tariff, salutes, and impressment of vessels. Mr. Cathcart, Consul for Tripoli, was joined with him in the commission. They sailed in the United States brig Sophia, in December, 1798, and convoyed the ship Hero laden with naval stores, an armed brig, and two armed schooners. These vessels they delivered to the Dey of Algiers "for arrearages of stipulation and present dues." The offerings of his Transatlantic tributaries were pleasing to the Dey. He admitted the Consuls to an audience. After their shoes had been taken en off at the door of the presence-chamber, they were allowed to advance and kiss his hand. This ceremony over, the Sophia sailed for Tunis.
Here the envoys found a more difficult task before them. The Bey had heard of the ships and cargoes left at Algiers, and asked at once, Where were all the good things promised to him by Famin? The Consuls presented President Adam's letter of polite excuses, addressed to the Prince of Tunis, "the well-guarded city, the abode of felicity." The Bey read it, and repeated his question,—"Why has the Prince of America not sent the hundred and seven thousand dollars?" The Consuls endeavored to explain the dependence of their Bey on his Grand Council, the Senate, which august body objected to certain stipulations in Famin's treaty. If his Highness of Tunis would consent to strike out or modify these articles, the Senate would ratify the treaty, and the President would send the money as soon as possible. But the Bey was not to be talked over; he refused to be led away from the main question,—"Where are the money, the regalia, the naval stores?" He could take but one view of the case: he had been trifled with; the Prince of America was not in earnest.
Monsieur Famin, who found himself turned out of office by the Commissioners, lost no opportunity of insinuating that American promises were insincere, and any expectations built upon them likely to prove delusive.
After some weeks spent in stormy negotiations, this modification of the articles was agreed upon. The duty might be three or three hundred per cent., if the Consuls wished it, but it should be reciprocal. The Bey refused to give up the powder: fifteen barrels of powder, he said, might get him a prize worth a hundred thousand dollars; but salutes were not to be fired, unless demanded by the Consul on the part of the United States. The Bey also persisted in his intention of pressing American vessels into his service; but he waived this claim in the case of national ships, and promised not to take merchantmen, if he could possibly do without them.
Convinced that no better terms could be obtained, Cathcart sailed for Tripoli, to encounter fresh troubles, leaving Eaton alone to bear the greediness and insolence of Tunis. The Bey and his staff were legitimate descendants of the two daughters of the horse-leech; their daily cry was, "Give! give!" The Bey told Eaton to get him a frigate like the one built for the Algerines.
"You will find I am as much to be feared as they. Your good faith I do not doubt," he added, with a sneer, "but your presents have been insignificant."
"But your Highness, only a short time since, received fifty thousand dollars from the United States."
"Yes, but fifty thousand dollars are nothing, and you have since altered the treaty; a new present is necessary; this is the custom."
"Certainly," chorused the staff; "and it is also customary to make presents to the Prime Minister and to the Secretary every time the articles are changed, and also upon the arrival of a new Consul."
To carry out this doctrine, the Admiral sent for a gold-headed cane, a gold watch, and twelve pieces of cloth. The Prime Minister wanted a double-barreled gun and a gold chain. The Aga of the Port said he would be satisfied with some thing in the jewelry-line, simple, but rich. Officials of low rank came in person to ask for coffee and sugar. Even his Highness condescended to levy small contributions. Hearing that Eaton had a Grecian mirror in his house, he requested that it might be sent to decorate the cabin of his yacht.
As month after month passed, and no tribute-ship arrived, the Bey's threats grew louder and more frequent. At last he gave orders to fit out his cruisers. Eaton sent letters of warning to the Consuls at Leghorn and Gibraltar, and prepared to strike his flag. At the last moment the Hero sailed into port, laden with naval stores such as never before had been seen in Tunis. The Bey was softened. "It is well," he said; "this looks a Lotte more like truth; but the guns, the powder, and the jewels are not on board."
A letter from Secretary Pickering instructed Eaton to try to divert the Bey's mind from the jewels; but if that were impossible, to order them in England, where they could be bought more cheaply; and to excuse the delay by saying "that the President felt a confidence, that, on further reflection upon all circumstances in relation to the United States, the Bey would relinquish this claim, and therefore did not give orders to provide the present." As the jewels had been repeatedly promised by the United States, this weak attempt to avoid giving them was quite consistent with the shabby national position we had taken In the Mediterranean. It met with the success it deserved. The Bey was much too shrewd a fellow, especially in the matter of presents, to be imposed upon by any such Yankee pretences. The jewels were ordered in London, and, as compensation for this new delay, the demand for a frigate was renewed. After nearly two years of anxiety, Eaton could write home that the prospects of peace were good.
His despatches had not passed the Straits when the Pacha of Tripoli sent for Consul Cathcart, and swore by "Allah and the head of his son," that, unless the President would give him two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a new treaty, and an annual subsidy of twenty thousand, he would declare war against the United States.
These two years of petty humiliations had exasperated Eaton's bold and fiery temper. He found some relief in horse-whipping Monsieur Famin, who had been unceasing in his quiet annoyances, and in writing to the Government at home despatches of a most undiplomatic warmth and earnestness. From the first, he had advised the use of force. "If you would have a free commerce in those seas, you must defend it. It is useless to buy a peace. The more you give, the more the Turks will ask for. Tribute is considered an evidence of your weakness; and contempt stimulates cupidity. Qui se fait brebis, le loup le mange. What are you afraid of? The naval strength of the Regencies amounts to nothing. If, instead of sending a sloop with presents to Tunis, you will consign to me a transport with a thousand trusty marines, well officered, under convoy of a forty-four-gun frigate, I pledge myself to surprise Porto Farina and destroy the Bey's arsenal. As to Tripoli, two frigates and four gun-boats would bring the Pacha to terms. But if you yield to his new demands, you must make provision to pay Tunis double the amount, and Algiers in proportion. Then, consider how shameful is your position, if you submit. 'Tributary to the pitiful sand-bank of Tripoli?' says the world; and the answer is affirmative, without a blush. Habit reconciles mankind to everything, even humiliation, and custom veils disgrace. But what would the world say, if Rhode Island should arm two old merchantmen, put an Irish renegade into one and a Methodist preacher in another, and send them to demand a tribute of the Grand Seignior? The idea is ridiculous; but it is exactly as consistent as that Tripoli should say to the American nation,—'Give me tribute, or tremble under the chastisement of my navy!'"
This was sharp language for a Consul to hold to a Secretary of State; but it was as meekly borne as the other indignities which came from Barbary.
An occurrence in Algiers completes the picture of "Americans in the Mediterranean" in the year 1800. In October, the United States ship Washington, Captain Bainbridge, lay in that port, about to sail for home. The Dey sent for Consul O'Brien, and laid this alternative before him: either the Washington should take the Algerine Ambassador to Constantinople, or he, the Dey, would no longer hold to his friendship with the United States. O'Brien expostulated warmly, but in vain. He thought it his duty to submit. The Ambassador, his suite, amounting to two hundred persons, their luggage and stores, horses, sheep, and horned cattle, and their presents to the Sultan, of lions, tigers, and antelopes, were sent on board. The Algerine flag was hoisted at the main, saluted with seven guns, and the United States ship Washington weighed anchor for Constantinople.
Eaton's rage boiled over when he heard of this freak of the Dey. He wrote to O'Brien,—"I frankly own, I would have lost the peace, and been myself impaled, rather than have yielded this concession. Will nothing rouse my country?"
When the news reached America, Mr. Jefferson was President. He was not roused. He regretted the affair; but hoped that time, and a more correct estimate of interest, would produce justice in the Dey's mind; and he seemed to believe that the majesty of pure reason, more potent than the music of Orpheus,
"Dictas ob hoc lenire tigres, rabidosque leones,"
would soften piratical Turks. Mr. Madison's despatch to O'Brien on the subject is written in this spirit. "The sending to Constantinople the national ship-of-war, the George Washington, by force, under the Algerine flag, and for such a purpose, has deeply affected the sensibility, not only of the President, but of the people of the United States. Whatever temporary effects it may have had favorable to our interest, the indignity is of so serious a nature, that it is not impossible that it may be deemed necessary, on a fit occasion, to revive the question. Viewing it in this light, the President wishes that nothing may be said or done by you that may unnecessarily preclude the competent authority from animadverting on that transaction in any way that a vindication of the national honor may be thought to prescribe."
Times have changed since then, and our national spirit with them. The Secretary's Quaker-like protest offers a ludicrous contrast to the wolf-to-lamb swagger of our modern diplomacy. What faithful Democrat of 1801 would have believed that the day would come of the Kostza affair, of the African right-of-search quarrel, the Greytown bombardment, and the seizure of Miramon's steamers?
It is clear that our President and people were in no danger of being led into acts of undue violence by "deeply affected sensibility" or the "vindication of the national honor," when a violent blow aimed by the Pacha of Tripoli at their Mediterranean trade roused them to a show of self-defence. Early in May he declared war against the United States, although Consul Cathcart offered him ten thousand dollars to leave the American flag-staff up for a short time longer. Even then, if Mr. Jefferson could have consulted no one but himself, not a ship would have sailed from these shores. But the merchants were too powerful for him; they insisted upon protection in the Mediterranean. A squadron of three frigates and a sloop under Commodore Dale was fitted out and despatched to Gibraltar; and the nations of the earth were duly notified by our diplomatic agents of our intentions, that they might not be alarmed by this armada.
In June of this year a fire broke out in the palace at Tunis, and fifty thousand stand of arms were destroyed. The Bey sent for Eaton; he had apportioned his loss among his friends, and it fell to the United States to furnish ten thousand stand without delay.
"It is only the other day," said Eaton, "that you asked for eighty twenty-four pounders. At this rate, when are our payments to have an end?"
"Never," was the answer. "The claims we make are such as we receive from all friendly nations, every two or three years; and you, like other Christians, will be obliged to conform to it."
Eaton refused to state the claim to his Government. The Bey said, Very well, he would write himself; and threatened to turn Eaton out of the Regency.
At this juncture Commodore Dale arrived at Gibraltar. The Bey paid us the compliment of believing that he had not been sent so far for nothing, and allowed Eaton a few months' respite.
Now was the time to give the Turks their lesson; but Dale's hands were tied by his orders. Mr. Jefferson's heart was not in violent methods of dealing with his fellow-men in Barbary. He thought our objects might be accomplished by a display of force better and more cheaply than by active measures. A dislike of naval war and of public expenditure made his constitutional conscience, always tender, very sensitive on this question of a cruise against Tripoli. Fearful lest our young sailors should go too far, he instructed the Commodore not to overstep the strict line of defence. Hence, when Sterret, in the Enterprise, captured a Tripolitan schooner, after a brisk engagement, he disarmed and dismantled her, and left her, with the survivors of her crew on board, to make the best of their way home again. Laymen must have found it difficult, even in 1801, to discover the principle of this delicate distinction between killing and taking prisoners; but it was "according to orders." Commodore Dale returned home at the end of the year, having gathered few African laurels; Commodore Morris came out the next season with a larger fleet, and gathered none at all.
There is no better established rule, in commencing hostilities, public or private, than this: If you strike at all, strike with all your might. Half-measures not only irritate, they encourage. When the Bey of Tunis perceived that Dale did little and Morris less, he thought he had measured exactly the strength of the United States navy, and had no reason to feel afraid of it. His wants again became clamorous, and his tone menacing. The jewels arrived from England in the Constellation, but did not mollify him.
"Now," said he, "I must have a thirty-six-gun frigate, like the one you sent to the Dey of Algiers."
Eaton protested that there was no frigate in the treaty, and that we would fight rather than yield to such extortion.
The Prime Minister blew a cloud from his pipe. "We find it all puff; we see how you carry on the war with Tripoli."
"But are you not ashamed to make this demand, when you have just received these valuable jewels?"
"Not at all. We expected the full payment of peace stipulations in a year. You came out with nothing, and three years have elapsed since you settled the treaty. We have waited all this time, but you have made us no consideration for this forbearance. Nor have we as yet received any evidence of the veritable friendship of the Prince of America, notwithstanding the repeated intimations we have given him that such an expression of his sincerity would be agreeable to us. His Excellency, my master, is a man of great forbearance; but he knows what steps to take with nations who exhaust his patience with illusive expressions of friendship."
Eaton answered, angrily, that the Bey might write himself to the President, if he wanted a frigate. For his part, he would never transmit so outrageous a demand. "Then," retorted the Bey, "I will send you home, and the letter with you."
The letter was composed by the dragoman and forwarded to the United States, but Eaton was allowed to remain.
Disgusted with the shameful position of our affairs in the Mediterranean, Eaton requested Mr. Madison to recall him, unless more active operations against the enemy should be resolved upon. "I can no longer talk of resistance and coercion," he wrote, "without exciting a grimace of contempt and ridicule ... The operations of our squadron this season have done less than the last to aid my efforts. Government may as well send out Quaker meeting-houses to float about this sea as frigates with ——— in command ... If further concessions are to be made here, I desire I may not be the medium through whom they shall be presented. Our presents show the Bey our wealth and our weakness and stimulate his avarice to new demands."
The display of latent force by the United States fleet, from which our Government had expected so much, increased the insolence of the Bey of Tunis to such a point that Eaton was obliged to withdraw from his post, and a new war seemed inevitable. The Americans had declared Tripoli blockaded; but, as their ships were seldom on the coast, little attention was paid to them. It happened, however, that a Tunisian vessel, bound for Tripoli, was captured when attempting to enter the harbor, and declared a prize. Shortly after, Commodore Morris anchored off Tunis and landed to visit the Consul. The Bey, who held the correct doctrine on the subject of paper blockades, pronounced the seizure illegal and demanded restitution. During his stay on shore, the Commodore had several interviews with the Bey's commercial agent in relation to this prize question. The behavior of that official was so offensive that the Commodore determined to go on board his ship without making the usual farewell visit at Court. As he was stepping into his boat from the mole, he was arrested by the commercial agent for a debt of twenty-two thousand dollars, borrowed by Eaton to assist Hamet Caramanli in his expedition against Tripoli. Eaton remonstrated indignantly. He alone was responsible for the debt; he had given abundant security, and was willing to pay handsomely for further forbearance. In vain; the agent would take nothing but the money. Eaton hurried to the palace to ask the Bey if this arrest was by his order. The Bey declined to answer or to interfere. There was no help for it; the Commodore was caught. To obtain permission to embark, he was obliged to get the money from the French Consul-General, and to promise restitution of the captured vessel and cargo. As soon as he was at liberty, the Commodore, accompanied by Eaton, went to the palace to protest against this breach of national hospitality and insult to the flag. Eaton's remarks were so distasteful to the Bey that he ordered him again to quit his court,—this time peremptorily,—adding, that the United States must send him a Consul "with a disposition more congenial to Barbary interests."
Eaton arrived in Boston on the 5th of May, 1803. The same season Preble sailed into the Mediterranean, with the Constitution, "a bunch of pine boards," as she was then called in derision, poorly fitted out, and half-manned; and with three other vessels in no better condition. But here, at last, was a captain whom no cautious or hesitating instructions could prevent from doing the work set before him to the best of his ability. Sword in hand, he maintained the principle of "Death before tribute," so often and so unmeaningly toasted at home; and it was not his fault, if he did not establish it. At all events, he restored the credit of our flag in the Mediterranean.
When the news reached home of the burning of the Philadelphia, of the attack of the fireships, and of the bombardment of Tripoli, the blood of the nation was up. Arch-democratic scruples as to the expediency, economy, or constitutionality of public armed ships were thenceforth utterly disregarded. Since then, it has never been a question whether the United States should have a navy or not. To Preble fairly belongs the credit of establishing it upon a permanent footing, and of heading the roll of daring and skilful officers the memory of whose gallantry pervades the service and renders it more effective than its ships and its guns.
The Administration yielded to the popular feeling, and attempted to claim for themselves the credit of these feats of arms, which they had neither expected nor desired. A new fleet was fitted out, comprising our whole navy except five ships. Here again the cloven foot became visible. Preble, who had proved himself a captain of whom any nation might be proud, was superseded by Commodore Barron, on a question of seniority etiquette, which might have been easily settled, had the Government so wished it.
Eaton had spent a year at home, urging upon the authorities, whenever the settlement of his accounts took him to Washington, more effective measures against Tripoli,—and particularly an alliance with Hamet Caramanli, the Ex-Pacha, who had been driven from his throne by his brother Jusuf, a much more able man. In spite of his bitter flings at their do-nothing policy, the Administration sent him out in the fleet, commissioned as General Agent for the Barbary Regencies, with the understanding that he was to join Hamet and assist him in an attack upon Derne. His instructions were vague and verbal; he had not even a letter to our proposed ally. Eaton was aware of his precarious position; but the hazardous adventure suited his enterprising spirit, and he determined to proceed in it. "If successful, for the public,—if unsuccessful, for myself," he wrote to a friend, quoting from his classical reminiscences; "but any personal risk," he added, with a rhetorical flourish, "is better than the humiliation of treating with a wretched pirate for the ransom of men who are the rightful heirs of freedom."
He sailed in the John Adams, in June, 1804. The President, Congress, Essex, and Constellation were in company. On the 5th of September the fleet anchored at Malta. In a few weeks the plan of the expedition was settled, and the necessary arrangements made, with the consent and under the supervision of Barron. Eaton then went on board the United States brig Argus, Captain Isaac Hull, detached specially on this service by the Commodore, and sailed for Alexandria, to hunt up Hamet and to replace him upon a throne.
On the 8th of December, Eaton and his little party, Lieutenant Blake, Midshipmen Mann and Danielson, of the navy, and Lieutenant O'Bannon of the marines, arrived in Cairo. Here they learned that Hamet had taken service with the rebel Mamlouk Beys and was in command of an Arab force in Upper Egypt. A letter from Preble to Sir Alexander Ball insured the Americans the hearty good wishes of the English. They were lodged in the English house, and passed for United States naval officers on a pleasure-trip. In this character they were presented to the Viceroy by Dr. Mendrici, his physician, who had known Eaton intimately in Tunis, and was much interested in this enterprise. The recommendation of the Doctor obtained a private audience for Eaton. He laid his plans frankly before his Highness, who listened favorably, assured him of his approval, and ordered couriers to be sent to Hamet, bearing a letter of amnesty and permission to depart from Egypt.
The messengers returned with an answer. The Ex-Pacha was unwilling to trust himself within the grasp of the Viceroy; he preferred a meeting at a place near Lake Fayoum, (Maeris,) on the borders of the Desert, about one hundred and ninety miles from the coast. Regardless of the danger of travelling in this region of robbery and civil war, Eaton set off at once, accompanied by Blake, Mann, and a small escort. After a ride of seventy miles, they fell in with a detachment of Turkish cavalry, who arrested them for English spies. This accident they owed to the zeal of the French Consul, M. Drouette, who, having heard that they were on good terms with the English, thought it the duty of a French official to throw obstacles in their way. Luckily the Turkish commandant proved to be a reasonable man. He listened to their story and sent off a courier to bring Hamet to them. The Pacha soon arrived. He expressed an entire willingness to be reinstated upon his throne by the Americans, and to do what he could for himself with his followers and friendly Arab tribes in the province of Derne. In case of success, he offered brilliant advantages to the United States. A convention was drawn up in this sense, signed by him as legitimate Pacha of Tripoli, and by Eaton, as agent for the United States.
The original plan was to proceed to Derne in the Argus; but the Turkish Governor of Alexandria refused to permit so large a force to embark at that port; and Hamet himself showed a strong disinclination to venture within the walls of the enemy. The only course left was to march over the Desert. Eaton adopted it with his usual vigor. The Pacha and his men were directed to encamp at the English cut, between Aboukir Bay and Lake Mareotis. Provisions were bought, men enlisted, camels hired, and a few Arabs collected together by large promises and small gifts. The party, complete, consisted of the Americans already mentioned, Farquhar, an Englishman, Pascal Paoli Peck, whose name we take pleasure in writing again, with six men of his corps, twenty-five artillery-men of all nations, principally Levanters, and thirty-eight Greeks. The followers of the Pacha, hired Arabs, camel-drivers, servants, and vagabonds, made up their number to about four hundred.
On the 8th of March, 1805, Eaton advanced into the Desert westward, towards the famous land of Cyrene, like Aryandes the Persian, and Amrou, general of the Caliph Omar. The little army marched along slowly, "on sands and shores and desert wildernesses," past ruins of huge buildings,—relics of three civilizations that had died out,—mostly mere stones to Eaton, whose mind was too preoccupied by his wild enterprise to speculate much on what others had done there before him. Want of water, scarcity of provisions, the lazy dilatoriness of the Arabs, who had never heard of the American axiom, "Time is money," gave him enough to think of. But worse than these were the daily outbreaks of the ill-feeling which always exists between Mussulman and Christian. The Arabs would not believe that Christians could be true friends to Mussulmans. They were not satisfied with Eaton's explanations of the similarity between the doctrines of Islam and of American, but tried again and again to make him repeat the soul-saving formula, "Allah Allah Mohammed ben Allah", and thus at once prove his sincerity and escape hell. The Pacha himself, an irresolute, weak man, could not quite understand why these infidels should have come from beyond the seas to place him upon a throne. A suspicion lurked in his heart that their real object was to deliver him to his brother as the price of a peace, and any occurrence out of the daily routine of the march brought this unpleasant fancy uppermost in his thoughts. On one point the Mahometan mind of every class dwelt alway,—"How could Allah permit these dogs, who followed the religion of the Devil, to possess such admirable riches?" The Arabs tried hard to obtain a share of them. They yelped about the Americans for money, food, arms, and powder. Even the brass buttons of the infidels excited their cupidity.
Eaton's patience, remarkable in a man of his irascible temper, many promises, and a few threats, kept the Crescent and the Cross moving on together in comparative peace until the 8th of April. On that day and outbreak of ill-temper occurred so violent that the two parties nearly came to blows. Turks were drawn up on one side, headed by Hamet,—Americans on the other, with the Greeks and Levanters. Swords were brandished and muskets pointed, and much abuse discharged. Nothing but the good sense of one of the Pacha's officers and Eaton's cool determination prevented the expedition from destroying itself on the spot.
Peace was at last restored, and kept until the 15th, when the army reached the Gulf of Bomba. In this bay, known to the ancients as the Gulf of Plataea, it is said that the Greeks landed who founded the colony of Cyrene. Eaton had written to Captain Hull to meet him here with the Argus, and, relying upon her stores, had made this the place of fulfilment of many promises. Unfortunately, no Argus was to be seen. Sea and shore were as silent and deserted as when Battus the Dorian first saw the port from his penteconters, six hundred years or more before Christ. A violent tumult arose. The Arabs reproached the Americans bitterly for the imposture, and declared their intention of deserting the cause immediately. Luckily, before these wild allies had departed, a sail appeared upon the horizon; they were persuaded to wait a short time longer. It was the Argus. Hull had seen the smoke of their fires and stood in. He anchored before dark; provisions were sent on shore; and plenty in the camp restored quiet and discipline.
On the 23d they resumed their march, and on the 25th, at two in the afternoon, encamped upon a hill overlooking the town of Derne. Deserters came in with the information that two-thirds of the inhabitants were in favor of Hamet; but that Hassan Bey, the Governor, with eight hundred fighting-men, was determined to defend the place; Jusuf had sent fifteen hundred men to his assistance, who were within three days' march. Hamet's Arabs seized upon this opportunity to be alarmed. It became necessary to promise the chiefs two thousand dollars before they would consent to take courage again.
Eaton reconnoitred the town. He ascertained that a ten-inch howitzer on the terrace of the Governor's house was all he had to fear in the way of artillery. There were eight nine-pounders mounted on a bastion looking seaward, but useless against a land-attack. Breastworks had been thrown up, and the walls of houses loopholed for musketry.
The next day, Eaton summoned Hassan to surrender the place to his legitimate sovereign, and offered to secure him his present position in case of immediate submission.. The flag was sent back with the answer, "My head or yours!" and the Bey followed up this Oriental message by offering six thousand dollars for Eaton's head, and double the sum, if he were brought in alive.
At six o'clock on the morning of the 27th, the Argus, Nautilus, and Hornet stood in, and, anchoring within a hundred yards of the battery, silenced it in three-quarters of an hour. At the same time the town was attacked on one side by Hamet, and on the other by the Americans. A hot fire of musketry was kept up by the garrison. The Greek artillery-men shot away the rammer of their only field-piece, after a few discharges, rendering the gun useless. Finding that a number of his small party were falling, Eaton ordered a charge, and led it. Dashing through a volley of bullets, the Christians took the battery in flank, carried it, planted the American flag, and turned the guns upon the town. Hamet soon cut his way to the Bey's palace, and drove him to sanctuary to escape being taken prisoner. After a lively engagement of two hours and a half, the allies had complete possession of the town. Fourteen of the Christians had been killed or wounded, three of them American marines. Eaton himself received a musket-ball in his wrist.
The Ex-Pacha had scarcely established himself in his new conquest before Jusuf's army appeared upon the hills near the town. Hassan Bey succeeded in escaping from sanctuary, and took the command. After several fruitless attempts to buy over the rebel Arabs, the Bey, on the 13th of May, made a sudden attack upon the quarter of the town held by Hamet's forces, and drove all before him as far as the Governor's house; but a few volleys from the nine-pounders sent him and his troops back at full speed. Hamet's cavalry pursued, and cut down a great many of them. This severe lesson made the Bey cautious. Henceforward he kept his men in the hills, and contented himself with occasional skirmishing-parties.
After this affair numerous Arabs of rank came over, and things looked well for the cause of the legitimate Pacha. Eaton already fancied himself marching into Tripoli under the American flag, and releasing with his own hands the crew of the Philadelphia. He wrote to Barron of his success, and asked for supplies of provisions, money, and men. A few more dollars, a detachment of marines, and the fight was won. His answer was a letter from the Commodore, informing him, "that the reigning Pacha of Tripoli has lately made overtures of peace, which the Consul-General, Colonel Lear, has determined to meet, viewing the present moment propitious to such a step." With the letter came another from Lear, ordering Eaton to evacuate Derne. Eaton sent back an indignant remonstrance, and continued to hold the town. But on the 11th of June the Constellation came in, bringing the news of the conclusion of peace, and of the release of the captives, upon payment of sixty thousand dollars. Colonel Lear wrote, that, by an article of the treaty, Hamet's wife and children would be restored to him, on condition of his leaving the Regency. No other provision was made for him.
When the Ex-Pacha (Ex for the third time) heard that thenceforth he must depend upon his own resources, he requested that he might be taken off in the Constellation, as his life would not be safe when his adherents discovered that his American friends had betrayed him, Eaton took every precaution to keep the embarkation a secret, and succeeded in getting all his men safely on board the frigate. He then, the last of the party, stepped into a small boat, and had just time to save his distance, when the shore was crowded with the shrieking Arabs. Finding the Christians out of their reach, they fell upon their tents and horses, and swept away everything of value.
It was a rapid change of scene. Six hours before, the little American party held Derne triumphantly against all comers from Jusuf's dominions, and Hamet had prospects of a kingdom. Now he was a beggar, on his way to Malta, to subsist there for a time on a small allowance from the United States. Even his wife and children were not to be restored to him; for, in a secret stipulation with the Pacha, Lear had waived for four years the execution of that article of the treaty. The poor fellow had been taken up as a convenience, and was dropped when no longer wanted. But he was only an African Turk, and, although not black, was probably dark enough in complexion to weaken his claims upon the good feeling and the good faith of the United States.
Eaton arrived at home in November of the same year, disgusted with the officers, civil and naval, who had cut short his successful campaign, and had disregarded, as of no importance, the engagements he had contracted with his Turkish ally. His report to the Secretary of the Navy expressed in the most direct language his opinion of the treaty and his contempt for the reasons assigned by Lear and Barron for their sudden action. The enthusiastic welcome he received from his countrymen encouraged his dissatisfaction. The American people decreed him a triumph after their fashion,—public dinners, addresses of congratulation, the title of Hero of Derne. He had shown just the qualities mankind admire,—boldness, tenacity, and dashing courage. Few could be found who did not regret that Preble had not been there to help him onward to Tripoli and to a peace without payments. And as Eaton was not the man to carry on a war, even of words, without throwing his whole soul into the conflict, he proclaimed to all hearers that the Government was guilty of duplicity and meanness, and that Lear was a compound of envy, treachery, and ignorance.
But this violence of language recoiled upon himself,—
"And so much injured more his side, The stronger arguments he applied."
The Administration steadily upheld Lear; and good Democrats, who saw every measure refracted through the dense medium of party-spirit, of course defended their leaders, and took fire at Eaton's overbearing manner and insulting intolerance of their opinions. Thus, although the general sentiment of the country was strongly in his favor, at Washington he made many enemies. A resolution was introduced into the House of Representatives to present him with a medal, or with a sword; it was violently opposed by John Randolph and others, postponed from time to time, and never passed. Eaton received neither promotion, nor pecuniary compensation, nor an empty vote of thanks. He had even great delay and difficulty in obtaining the settlement of his accounts and the repayment of the money advanced by him.
Disappointment, debt, and hard drinking soon brought Eaton's life to a close. He died in obscurity in 1811. Among his papers was found a list of officers who composed a Court Martial held in Ohio by General St. Clair in 1793. As time passed, he had noted in the margin of the paper the fate of each man. All were either "Dead" or "Damned by brandy." His friends might have completed the melancholy roll by writing under his name the same epitaph.
However wrong Eaton may have been in manners and in morals, he seems to have been right in complaining of the treatment he received from the Administration. The organs of the Government asserted that Eaton had exceeded his instructions, and had undertaken projects the end of which could not be foreseen,—that the Administration had never authorized any specific engagement with Hamet, an inefficient person, and not at all the man he was supposed to be,—and that the alliance with him was much too expensive and dangerous to justify its further prosecution. Unfortunately for this view of the case, the dealings of the United States with Hamet dated back to the beginning of the war with Tripoli. A diversion in his favor was no new project, but had been considered for more than three years. Eaton and Cathcart had recommended it in 1801, and Government approved of the plan. In 1802, when Jusuf Pacha offered Hamet the Beyship of Benghazi and Derne, to break up these negotiations, the United States Consuls promised him Jusuf's throne, if he would refuse the offer, and threatened, if he accepted it, to treat him as an enemy, and to send a frigate to prevent him from landing at Derne. Later, when the Bey of Tunis showed some inclination to surrender Hamet to his brother, the Consuls furnished him with the means of escape to Malta. In 1803, he crossed over to Derne in an English brig, hoping to receive assistance from the American fleet; but Commodore Morris left him to his own resources; he was unable to hold his ground, and fled to Egypt. All this was so well known at home, that members of the Opposition in Congress jokingly accused the Administration of undertaking to decide constitutional questions for the people of Tripoli.
Before the news of this flight into Egypt reached the United States, Eaton had been instructed by the President to take command of an expedition on the coast of Barbary in connection with Hamet. It had been determined to furnish a few pieces of field-artillery, a thousand stand of arms, and forty thousand dollars as a loan to the Pretender. But when the President heard of Hamet's reverses, he withheld the supplies, and sent Eaton out as "General Agent for the several Barbary States," without special instructions. The Secretary of the Navy wrote at the same time to Commodore Barron:—"With respect to the Ex-Bashaw of Tripoli, we have no objection to your availing yourself of his cooperation with you against Tripoli, if you shall, upon a full view of the subject, after your arrival upon the station, consider his cooperation expedient. The subject is committed entirely to your discretion. In such an event, you will, it is believed, find Mr. Eaton extremely useful to you."
After Commodore Barron had reached his station, he did consider the "cooeperation" expedient; and ordered Hull in the Argus to Alexandria with Eaton in search of Hamet, "the legitimate sovereign of the reigning Bashaw of Tripoli." If Eaton succeeded in finding the Pacha, Hull was to carry him and his suite to Derne, "or such other place as may be determined the most proper for cooeperating with the naval force under my command against the common enemy ... You may assure the Bashaw of the support of my squadron at Benghazi or Derne, and that I will take the most effectual measures with the forces under my command for cooperating with him against the usurper his brother, and for reestablishing him in the Regency of Tripoli. Arrangements to this effect with him are confided to the discretion with which Mr. Eaton is vested by the Government."
It would seem from these extracts that Eaton derived full authority from Barron to act in this matter, independently of his commission as "General Agent." We do not perceive that he exceeded a reasonable discretion in the "arrangements" made with Hamet. After so many disappointments, the refugee could not be expected to leave a comfortable situation and to risk his head without some definite agreement as to the future; and the convention made with him by Eaton did not go beyond what Hamet had a right to demand, or the instructions of the Commodore,—even in Article II., which was afterward particularly objected to by the Government. It ran thus:—
"The Government of the United States shall use their utmost exertions, so far as comports with their own honor and interest, their subsisting treaties, and the acknowledged law of nations, to reestablish the said Hamet Bashaw in the possession of his sovereignty of Tripoli against the pretensions of Joseph Bashaw," etc.
We should add, that Hamet, to satisfy himself of the truth of Eaton's representations, sent one of his followers to Barron, who confirmed the treaty; and that the Commodore, when he received Eaton's despatch, announcing his departure from Aboukir, wrote back a warm approval of his energy, and notified him that the Argus and the Nautilus would be sent immediately to Bomba with the necessary stores and seven thousand dollars in money. Barron added,—"You may depend upon the most active and vigorous support from the squadron, as soon as the season and our arrangements will permit us to appear in force before the enemy's walls."
So much for Eaton's authority to pledge the faith of the United States. As to the question of expense: the whole cost of the expedition, up to the evacuation of Derne, was thirty-nine thousand dollars. Eaton asserted, and we see no reason to doubt his accuracy, that thirty thousand more would have carried the American flag triumphantly into Tripoli. Lear paid sixty thousand for peace.
Hamet was set on shore at Syracuse with thirty followers. Two hundred dollars a month were allowed him for the support of himself and of them, until particular directions should be received from the United States concerning him. He wrote more than once to the President for relief, resting his claims upon Eaton's convention and the letter of the Secretary of State read to him by Consul Cathcart in 1802. In this letter, the Secretary declared, that, in case of the failure of the combined attack upon Derne, it would be proper for our Government "to restore him to the situation from, which he was drawn, or to make some other convenient arrangement that may be more eligible to him." Hamet asked that at least the President would restore to him his wife and family, according to the treaty, and send them all back to Egypt. "I cannot suppose," he wrote, "that the engagements of an American agent would be disputed by his Government, ... or that a gentleman has pledged towards me the honor of his country on purpose to deceive me."
Eaton presented these petitions to the President and to the public, and insisted so warmly upon the harsh treatment his ally had received from the United States, that two thousand four hundred dollars were sent to him in 1806, and again, in 1807, Davis, Consul for Tripoli, was directed to insist upon the release of the wife and children. They were delivered up by Jusuf in 1807, and taken to Syracuse in an American sloop-of-war. Here ended the relations of the United States with Hamet Caramanli.
Throughout this whole African chapter, the darling economy of the Administration was a penny-wise policy which resulted in the usual failure. Already in 1802, Mr. Gallatin reported that two millions and a half, in round numbers, had been paid in tribute and presents. The expense of fitting out the four squadrons is estimated by Mr. Sabine at three millions and a half. The tribute extorted after 1802 and the cost of keeping the ships in the Mediterranean amount at the lowest estimate to two millions more. Most of this large sum might have been saved by giving an adequate force and full powers to Commodore Dale, who had served under Paul Jones, and knew how to manage such matters.
Unluckily for their fame, the Administration was equally parsimonious in national spirit and pluck, and did their utmost to protect themselves against the extravagance of such reckless fellows as Preble, Decatur, and Eaton. In the spring of 1803, while Preble was fitting out his squadron, Mr. Simpson, Consul at Tangier, was instructed to buy the good-will of the Emperor of Morocco. He disobeyed his instructions, and the Emperor withdrew his demands when he saw the American ships. About the same time, the Secretary of State wrote to Consul Cathcart in relation to Tripoli:—
"It is thought best that you should not be tied down to a refusal of presents, whether to be included in the peace, or to be made from time to time during its continuance,—especially as in the latter case the title to the presents will be a motive to its continuance,—to admit that the Bashaw shall receive in the first instance, including the consular present, the sum of $20,000, and at the rate afterwards of $8,000 or $10,000 a year ... The presents, whatever the amount or purpose of them, (except the consular present, which, as usual, may consist of jewelry, cloth, etc.,) must be made in money and not in stores, to be biennial rather than annual; and the arrangement of the presents is to form no part of the public treaty, if a private promise and understanding can be substituted."
After notifying Cathcart of his appointment to Tunis, the Secretary directs him to evade the thirty-six-gun frigate, and to offer the Bey ten thousand dollars a year for peace, to be arranged in the same underhand way.
Tripoli refused the money; it was not enough. The Bey of Tunis rejected both the offer and the Consul. He wrote to Mr. Jefferson that he considered some of Cathcart's expressions insulting, and that he insisted upon the thirty-six-gun frigate. Mr. Jefferson answered on the 27th of January, 1804, after he knew of the insult to Morris and of the expulsion of Eaton. Beginning with watery generalities about "mutual friendships and the interests arising out of them," he regretted that there should be any misconception of his motives on the part of the Bey. "Such being our regard for you, it is with peculiar concern I learn from your letter that Mr. Cathcart, whom I had chosen from a confidence in his integrity, experience, and good dispositions, has so conducted himself as to incur your displeasure. In doing this, be assured he has gone against the letter and spirit of his instructions, which were, that his deportment should be such as to make known my esteem and respect for your character both personal and public, and to cultivate your friendship by all the attentions and services he could render.... In selecting another character to take the place of Mr. Cathcart, I shall take care to fix on one who, I hope, will better fulfil the duties of respect and esteem for you, and who, in so doing only, will be the faithful representative and organ of our earnest desire that the peace and friendship so happily subsisting between the two countries may be firm and permanent."
Most people will agree with Eaton, that "the spirit which dictated this answer betrays more the inspiration of Carter's Mountain than of Bunker Hill."
Lear, who was appointed Consul-General in 1803, was authorized by his instructions to pay twenty thousand dollars down and ten thousand a year for peace, and a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars a man for ransom.
When Barron's squadron anchored at Malta, Consul O'Brien came on board to say that he had offered, by authority, eight thousand dollars a year to Tunis, instead of the frigate, and one hundred and ten thousand to Tripoli for peace and the ransom of the crew of the Philadelphia, and that both propositions had been rejected.
Finally, after fitting out this fourth squadron, at an expense of one million five hundred and seventy thousand dollars, and with Eaton in possession of Derne, the Administration paid sixty thousand dollars for peace and ransom, when Preble, ten months previously, could have obtained both for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Thus they spent two millions to save ninety thousand, and left the principle of tribute precisely where it was before.
What makes this business still more remarkable is, that the Administration knew from the reports of our consuls and from the experience of our captains that the force of the pirates was insignificant, and that they were wretched sailors and poor shots. Sterret took a Tripolitan cruiser of fourteen guns after an engagement of thirty minutes; he killed or wounded fifty of her crew, and did not lose a man, nor suffer any material damage in his hull or rigging. There was no one killed on the American side when Decatur burned the Philadelphia. The Constitution was under the fire of the Tripolitan batteries for two hours without losing a man, and was equally fortunate when she ran in a second time and lay within musket-shot of the mole, exposed to the fire of the enemy for three-quarters of an hour. These Tripolitan batteries mounted one hundred and fifteen guns. Three years later, Captain Ichabod Sheffield, of the schooner Mary Ann, furnished in person an example of the superiority of the Yankee over the Turk. Consul Lear had just given forty-eight thousand dollars to the Dey of Algiers, in full payment of tribute "up to date." Nevertheless, the Mary Ann, of and from New York to Leghorn, was seized in the Straits of Gibraltar by an Algerine corsair. A prize-crew of nine Turks was sent on board; the captain, two men, and a boy left in her to do the work; she was ordered to Algiers; and the pirate sailed away. Having no instructions from Washington, Sheffield and his men determined to strike a blow for liberty, and fixed upon their plan. Algiers was in sight, when Sheffield hurled the "grains" overboard, and cried that he had struck a fish. Four Turks, who were on deck, ran to the side to look over. Instantly the Americans threw three of them into the sea. The others, hearing the noise, hurried upon deck. In a hand-to-hand fight which followed two more were killed with handspikes, and the remaining four were overpowered and sent adrift in a small boat. Sheffield made his way, rejoicing, to Naples. When the Dey heard how his subjects had been handled, he threatened to put Lear in irons and to declare war. It cost the United States sixteen thousand dollars to appease his wrath.
The cruise of the Americans against Tripoli differed little, except in the inferiority of their force, from numerous attacks made by European nations upon the Regencies. Venice, England, France, had repeatedly chastised the pirates in times past. In 1799, the Portuguese, with one seventy-four-gun ship, took two Tripolitan cruisers, and forced the Pacha to pay them eleven thousand dollars. In 1801, not long before our expedition, the French Admiral Gaunthomme over-hauled two Tunisian corsairs in chase of some Neapolitan vessels. He threw all their guns overboard, and bade them beware how they provoked the wrath of the First Consul by plundering his allies. But all of them left, as we did, the principle of piracy or payments as they found it. At last this evil was treated in a manner more creditable to civilization. In 1812, the Algerines captured an American vessel, and made slaves of the crew. After the peace with England, in 1815, Decatur, in the Guerriere, sailed into the Mediterranean, and captured off Cape de Gat, in twenty-five minutes, an Algerine frigate of forty-six guns and four hundred men. On board the Guerriere, four were wounded, and no one killed. Two days later, off Cape Palos, he took a brig of twenty-two guns and one hundred and eighty men. He then sailed into the harbor of Algiers with his prizes, and offered peace, which was accepted. The Dey released the American prisoners, relinquished all claims to tribute in future, and promised never again to enslave an American. Decatur, on our part, surrendered his prizes, and agreed to consular presents,—a mitigated form of tribute, similar in principle, but, at least, with another name. From Algiers he went to Tunis, and demanded satisfaction of that Regency for having permitted a British man-of-war to retake in their port two prizes to Americans in the late war with England. The Bey submitted, and paid forty-six thousand dollars. He next appeared before Tripoli, where he compelled the Pacha to pay twenty-six thousand dollars, and to surrender ten captives, as an indemnity for some breaches of international law. In fifty-four days he brought all Barbary to submission. It is true, that, the next spring, the Dey of Algiers declared this treaty null, and fell back upon the time-honored system of annual tribute. But it was too late. Before it became necessary for Decatur to pay him another visit, Lord Exmouth avenged the massacre of the Neapolitan fishermen at Bona by completely destroying the fleet and forts of Algiers, in a bombardment of seven hours. Christian prisoners of every nation were liberated in all the Regencies, and the slave-system, as applied to white men, finally abolished.
Preble, Eaton, and Decatur are our three distinguished African officers. As Barron's squadron did not fire a shot into Tripoli, indeed never showed itself before that port, to Eaton alone belongs the credit of bringing the Pacha to terms which the American Commissioner was willing to accept. The attack upon Derne was the feat of arms of the fourth year, and finished the war.
Ours is not a new reading of the earlier relations of the United States with the Barbary powers. The story can be found in the Collection of State Papers, and more easily in the excellent little books of Messrs. Sabine and Felton. But a "popular version" despises documents. Under the pressure of melodrama, history will drift into Napoleon's "fable agreed upon"; and if it be true, as Emerson says, that "no anchor, no cable, no fence, avail to keep a fact a fact," it is not at all likely that a paper in a monthly magazine will do it.
* * * * *
I have always worked in the carpet-factories. My father and mother worked there before me and my sisters, as long as they lived. My sisters died first;—the one, I think, out of deep sorrow; the other from too much joy.
My older sister worked hard, knew nothing else but work, never thought of anything else, nor found any joy in work, scarcely in the earnings that came from it. Perhaps she pined for want of more air, shut up in the rooms all day, not caring to find it in walking or in the fields, or even in books. Household-work awaited her daily after the factory-work, and a dark, strange religion oppressed and did not sustain her, Sundays. So we scarcely wondered when she died. It seemed, indeed, as if she had died long ago,—as if the life had silently passed away from her, leaving behind a working body that was glad at last to find a rest it had never known before.
My other sister was far different. Very much younger, not even a shadow of the death that had gone before weighed heavily upon her. Everybody loved her, and her warm, flashing spirit that came out in her sunny smile. She died in a season of joy, in the first flush of summer. She died, as the June flowers died, after their happy summer-day of life.
At last I was left alone, to plod the same way, every night and morning,—out with the sunrise from the skirts of the town, over the bridge across the stream that fell into our great river which has worked for us so long, to the tall, grim factory-building where my work awaited me, and home again at night. I lived on in the house we all of us had lived in. At first it was alone in the wood. But the town crept out to meet it, and soon but little woodland was left around it. "Gloomy Robert" they called me, as I walked back and forth upon the same track, seldom lifting my head to greet friend or stranger. Though I walked over well-known ground, my thoughts were wandering in strange romances. My evening-readings furnished the land I lived in,—seldom this Western home, but the East, from Homer's time to the days of Haroun Alraschid. I was so faithful at my work that my responsibilities were each year increased; and though my brain lived in dreams, I had sufficient use of it for my little needs each day. I never forgot to answer the wants of the greedy machines while I was within sound of them; but away from them I forgot all external sight and sound. I can remember in my boyhood once I was waked from my reveries. I was walking beneath a high stone-wall, with my eyes and head bent down as usual, when I was roused by a shower of rose-buds that fell over my shoulders and folded arms. I heard laughter, and looked up to see a childish face with sunny, golden curls tumbling over it; and a surprised voice cried out, "Gloomy Robert is looking up!" The picture of the face hung in my memory long after, with the sound of the happy voice, as though it came out of another world. But it remained only a picture, and I never asked myself whether that sunny face ever made any home happy, nor did I ever listen for that voice again from behind the high stone-wall.
Many years of my life passed away. There were changes in the factories. The machines grew more like human beings, and we men could act more like machines. There were fewer of us needed; but I still held my place, and my steadiness gave me a position.
One day, in the end of May, I was walking early in the morning towards the factories, as usual, when suddenly there fell across my path a glowing beam of sunshine that lighted up the grass before me. I stopped to see how the green blades danced in its light, how the sunshine fell down the sloping, bank across the stream below. Whirring insects seemed to be suddenly born in its beam. The stream flowed more gayly, the flowers on its brim were richer in color. A voice startled me. It was only that of one of my fellow-workmen, as he shouted, "Look at Gloomy Robert!—there's a sunbeam in his way, and he stumbles over it!" It was really so. I had stumbled over a beam of sunlight. I had never observed the sunshine before. Now, what life it gave, as it gleamed under the trees! I kept on my way, but the thought of it followed me all up the weary stairs into the high room where the great machines were standing silently. Suddenly, after my work began, through a high narrow window poured a strip of sunshine. It fell across the colored threads which were weaving diligently their work. This day the work was of an unusually artistic nature. We have our own artists in the mills, artists who must work under severe limitations. Within a certain space their fancy revels, and then its lines are suddenly cut short. Nature scatters her flowers as she pleases over the field, does not measure her groups to see that they stand symmetrically, nor count her several daisies that they may be sure to repeat themselves in regular order. But our artist must fit his stems to certain angles so that their lines may be continuous, constantly repeating themselves, the same group recurring, yet in a hidden monotony.
My pattern of to-day had always pleased me, for we had woven many yards of it before,—the machines and I. There were rich green leaves and flowers, gay flowers that shone in light and hid themselves in shade, and I had always admired their grace and coloring. To-day they had seemed to me cold and dusky. All my ideas that I had gained from conventional carpet-flowers, which, woven almost beneath my hand, had seemed to rival Nature's, all these ideas had been suddenly swept away. My eyes had opened upon real flowers waving in real sunshine; and my head grew heavy at the sound of the clanking machine weaving out yards of unsunned flowers. If only that sunshine, I thought, would light up these green leaves, put a glow on these brilliant flowers, instead of this poor coloring which tries to look like sunshine, we might rival Nature. But the moment I was so thinking, the rays of sunlight I have spoken of fell on the gay threads. They seemed, before my eyes, to seize upon the poor yellow fibres which were trying to imitate their own glow, and, winding themselves round them, I saw the shuttle gather these rays of sunlight into the meshes of its work. I was to stand there till noon. So, long before I left, the gleam of sunshine had left the narrow window and was hidden from the rest of the long room by the gray stone-walls of another building which rose up outside. But as long as they lingered over the machine that I was watching, I saw, as though human fingers were placing them there, rays of sunlight woven in among the green leaves and brilliant flowers.
After that gleam had gone, my work grew dark and dreary, and, for the first time, my walls seemed to me like prison-walls. I longed for the end of my day's work, and rejoiced that the sun had not yet set when I was free again. I was free to go out across the meadows, up the hills, to catch the last rays of sunset. Then coming home, I stooped to pick the flowers which grew by the wayside in the waning light.
All that June which followed, I passed my leisure hours and leisure days in the open air, in the woods. I chased the sunshine from the fields in under the deep trees, where it only flickered through the leaves. I hunted for flowers, too, beginning with the gay ones which shone with color. I wondered how it was they could drink in so much of the sun's glow. Then I fell to studying all the science of color and all the theories which are woven about it. I plunged into books of chemistry, to try to find out how it was that certain flowers should choose certain colors out from the full beam of light. After the long days, I sat late into the night, studying all that books could tell me. I collected prisms, and tried, in scattering the rays, to learn the properties of each several pencil of light. I grew very wise and learned, but never came nearer the secret I was searching for,—why it was that the Violet, lying so near the Dandelion, should choose and find such a different dress to wear. It was not the rarer flowers that I brought home, at first. My hands were filled with Dandelions and Buttercups. The Saint-John's-Wort delighted me, and even the gaudy Sunflower. I trained the vines which had been drooping round our old house,—the gray time-worn house; the "natural-colored house," the neighbors called it. I thought of the blind boy who fancied the sound of the trumpet must be scarlet, as I trained up the brilliant scarlet trumpet-flower which my sister had planted long ago.
So the summer passed away. My companions and neighbors did not wonder much, that, after studying so many books, I should begin to study flowers and botany. And November came. My occupation was not yet taken away, for Golden-Rod and the Asters gleamed along the dusty roadside, and still underneath the Maples there lay a sunny glow from the yellow leaves not yet withered beneath them.
One day I received a summons from our overseer, Mr. Clarkson, to visit him in the evening. I went, a little disturbed, lest he might have some complaint to make of the engrossing nature of my present occupations. This I was almost led to believe, from the way in which he began to speak to me. His perorations, to be sure, were apt to be far wide of his subject; and this time, as usual, I could allow him two or three minutes' talk before it became necessary for me to give him my attention.
At last it came out. I was wanted to go up to Boston about a marvellous piece of carpet which had appeared from our mills. It had lain in the warehouse some time, had at last been taken to Boston, and a large portion of it had been sold, the pattern being a favorite one. But suddenly there had been a change. In opening one of the rolls and spreading it broadly in the show-room of Messrs. Gobelin's warehouse, it had appeared the most wonderful carpet that ever was known. A real sunlight gleamed over the leaves and flowers, seeming to flicker and dance among them as on a broad meadow. It shed a radiance which paled the light that struggled down between the brick walls through the high windows. It had been subject of such wonder that Messrs. Gobelin had been obliged to ask a high price of admission for the many that flocked to see it. They had eagerly examined the other rolls of carpeting, in the hope of finding a repetition of the wonder, and were inclined at one time to believe that this magical effect was owing to a new method of lighting their apartments. But it was only in this beautiful pattern and through a certain portion of it that this wonderful appearance was shown. Some weeks ago they had sent to our agent to ask if he knew the origin of this wonderful tapestry. He had consulted with the designer of the pattern, who had first claimed the discovery of the combination of colors by which such an effect was produced, but he could not account for its not appearing throughout the whole work. My master had then examined some of the workmen, and learned, in the midst of his inquiries, what had been my late occupations and studies.
"If," he continued, "I had been inclined to apply any of my discoveries to the work which I superintended, he was willing, and his partners were willing, to forgive any interference of that sort, of mine, in affairs which were strictly their own, as long as the discoveries seemed of so astonishing a nature."
I am not able to give all our conversation. I could only say to my employer, that this was no act of mine, though I felt very sure that the sunshine which astonished them in Messrs. Gobelin's carpet-store was the very sunbeam that shone through the window of the factory on the 27th of May, that summer. When he asked me what chemical preparation could insure a repetition of the same wonderful effect, I could only say, that, if sunlight were let in upon all the machines, through all the windows of the establishment, a similar effect might be produced. He stared at me. Our large and substantial mill was overshadowed by the high stone-walls of the rival company. It had taken a large amount of capital to raise our own walls; it would take a still larger to induce our neighbors to remove theirs. So we parted,—my employer evidently thinking that I was keeping something behind, waiting to make my profit on a discovery so interesting to him. He called me back to tell me, that, after working so long under his employ, he hoped I should never be induced by higher wages or other proffers to leave for any rival establishment.
I was not left long in quiet. I received a summons to Boston. Mr. Stuart, the millionnaire, had bought the wonderful carpet at an immense price. He had visited our agent himself, had invited the designer to dinner, and now would not be satisfied until I had made him a visit in Boston.
I went to his house. I passed up through broad stairways, and over carpets such as I had never trod nor woven. I should have liked to linger and satisfy my eyes with looking at the walls decorated with paintings, and at the statuary, which seemed to beckon to me like moving figures. But I passed on to the room where Mr. Stuart and his friends awaited me. Here the first thing that struck me was the glowing carpet across which I must tread. It was lying in an oval saloon, which had been built, they told me, for the carpet itself. The light was admitted only from the ceiling, which was so decorated that no clear sunlight could penetrate it; but down below the sunbeams lay flickering in the meadow of leaves, and shed a warm glow over the whole room.
But my eyes directly took in many things besides the flowery ground beneath me. At one end of the room stood a colossal bust of Juno, smiling grandly and imperturbably, as if she were looking out from the great far-away past. I think this would have held my looks and my attention completely, but that Mr. Stuart must introduce me to his friends. So I turned my glance away; but it was drawn directly towards a picture which hung before me,—a face that drove away all recollection of the colossal goddess. The golden hair was parted over a broad brow; from the gentle, dreamy eyes there came a soft, penetrating glance, and a vagueness as of fancy rested over the whole face. I scarcely heard a word that was spoken to me as I looked upon this new charm, and I could hardly find answers for the questions that surrounded me.
But I was again roused from my dreamy wonderment by a real form that floated in and sent away all visions of imagination. "My daughter," said Mr. Stuart, and I looked up into the same dreamy eyes which had been winning me in the picture. But these looked far beyond me, over me, perhaps, or through me,—I could scarcely say which,—and the mouth below them bent into a welcoming smile. While she greeted the other guests, I had an opportunity to watch the stately grace of Mr. Stuart's daughter, who played the part of hostess as one long accustomed to it.
"A queen!" I had exclaimed to myself, as she entered the room, "and my Juno!"
The gentlemen to whom I had been introduced had been summoned earlier, as in a learned committee, discussing the properties of the new discovery. After the entrance of the ladies, I was requested to lead Miss Stuart to dinner, and sat by her side through the clanging of dishes and a similar clangor of the table-talk of tongues.
"Speaking of light," said the Professor, turning to me, "why cannot you bring, by your unknown chemical ways, some real sunlight into our rooms, in preference to this metallic gas-light?"
I turned to the windows, before which the servant had just drawn the heavy, curtains still closer, to shut out the gleams of a glowing sunset which had ventured to penetrate between its folds.
"I see your answer," said Miss Stuart. "You wonder, as I do, why a little piece of artificial sunlight should astonish us so much more than the cheap sunlight of every day which the children play in on the Common."
"I think your method, Mr. Desmond," said the Chemist, "must be some power you have found of concentrating all the rays of a pencil of light, disposing in some way of their heating power. I should like to know if this is a fluid agent or some solid substance."
"I should like to see," interrupted another gentleman, "the anvil where Mr. Desmond forges his beams. Could not we get up a party, Miss Stuart, an evening-party, to see a little bit of sunlight struck out,—on a moonshiny night, too?"
"In my lectures on chemistry," began Mr. Jasper. He was interrupted by Mr. Stuart.
"You will have to write your lectures over again. Mr. Desmond has introduced such new ideas upon chemistry that he will give you a chance for a new course."
"You forget," said the Chemist, "that the laws of science are the same and immutable. My lectures, having once been written, are written. I only see that Mr. Desmond has developed theories which I have myself laid down. As our friend the Artist will tell us, sunlight is sunlight, wherever you find it, whether you catch it on a carpet or on a lady's face."
"But I am quite ashamed," said Miss Stuart, "that we ladies so seldom have the sunlight on our faces. I think we might agree to Mr. Green's proposal to go out somewhere and see where the sunbeams really are made. We shut them out with our curtains, and turn night into a make-believe day."
"But the sun is so trying!" put in Miss Lester. "Just think how much more becoming candle-light is! There is not one of my dresses which would stand a broad sunbeam."
"I see," said Mr. Stuart, "that, when Mr. Desmond has perfected his studies, we shall be able to roof over the whole of Boston with our woven sunlight by day and gas-light by night, quite independent of fogs and uncertain east-winds."
So much of the dinner-conversation dwelt upon what was supposed to be interesting to me, and a part of my profession. It was laggingly done; for presently the talk fell into an easier flow,—a wonder about Mrs. This, and speculation concerning Mr. That. Mr. Blank had gone to Europe with half his family, and some of them knew why he had taken the four elder children, and others wondered why he had left the rest behind. I was talked into a sort of spasmodic interest about a certain Maria, who was at the ball the night before, but could not be at the dinner to-day. In an effort to show me why she would be especially charming to me, her personal appearance, the style of her conversation and dress, her manner of life, all were pulled to pieces, and discussed, dissected, and classified, in the same way as I would handle one of the Composite.
Miss Stuart spoke but little. She fluttered gayly over the livelier conversation, but seemed glad to fall back into a sort of wearied repose, where she appeared to be living in a higher atmosphere than the rest of us. This air of repose the others seemed to be trying to reach, when they got no farther than dulness; and some of the gentlemen, I thought, made too great efforts in their attempts to appear bored. Especially one of them exerted himself greatly to gape so often in the face of a lady with whom he was striving to keep up an appearance of conversation, that the exertion itself must have wearied him.
After the ladies had left, the Chemist seated himself by me, that he might, as he openly said, get out of me the secret of my sunshine. The more I disowned the sunshine, the more he felt sure that I possessed some secret clue to it. I need not say, that, in all my talk with these gentlemen, I had constantly tried to show that I could claim no influence in setting the sun's rays among the green carpeted leaves.
I was urged to stay many days in Boston, was treated kindly, and invited here and there. I grew to feel almost at home at Mr. Stuart's. He was pleased to wonder at the education which I had given myself, as he called it. I sat many long mornings in Miss Stuart's drawing-room, and she had the power of making me talk of many things which had always been hidden even from myself. It was hardly a sympathy with me which seemed to unlock my inner thoughts; it was as though she had already looked through them, and that I must needs bring them out for her use. That same glance which I have already spoken of, which seemed to pass over and through me, invited me to say in words what I felt she was beginning to read with her eyes. We went together, the day before I was to leave town, to the Gallery of Paintings.
As we watched a fine landscape by Kensett, a stream of sunshine rested a moment on the canvas, giving motion and color, as it were, to the pictured sunlight.
Miss Stuart turned to me.
"Why will you not imprison sunlight in that way, Mr. Desmond? That would be artistic."
"You forget," I said, "if I could put the real sunlight into such a picture, it would no longer be mine; I should be a borrower, not a creator of light; I should be no more of an artist than I am now."
"You will always refuse to acknowledge it," she said; "but you can never persuade me that you have not the power to create a sunbeam. An imprisoned sunbeam! The idea is absurd."
"It is because the idea is so absurd," I said, "that, if I felt the power were mine to imprison sunbeams, I should hardly care to repeat the effort. The sunshine rests upon the grass, freely we say, but in truth under some law that prevents its penetrating farther. A sunbeam existing in the absence of the sun is, of course, an absurdity. Yet they are there, the sunbeams of last spring, in your oval room, as I saw them one day in May."
"Which convinces me," said Miss Stuart, "that you are an artist. That is not real sunshine. You have created it. You are born for an artist-life. Do not go back to your drudgery."
"Daily work," I answered, "must become mechanical work, if we perform it in a servile way. A lawyer is perhaps inspired, when he is engaged in a cause on which he thinks his reputation hangs; but, day by day, when he goes down to the work that brings him his daily bread, he is quite as likely to call it his drudgery as I my daily toil."
She left her seat and walked with me towards a painting which hung not far from us. It represented sunset upon the water. "The tender-curving lines of creamy spray" were gathering up the beach; the light was glistening across the waves; and shadows and light almost seemed to move over the canvas.
"There," said Miss Stuart, "is what I call work that is worthy. I know there was inspiration in every touch of the brush. I know there was happy life in the life that inspired that painting. It is worth while to live and to show that one has been living in that way."
"But I think," said I, "that the artist even of that picture laid aside his brush heavily, when he sighed to himself that he must call it finished. I believe that in all the days that it lay upon his easel he went to it many times with weariness, because there was monotony in the work,—because the work that he had laid out for himself in his fancy was far above what he could execute with his fingers. The days of drudgery hung heavily on the days of inspiration; and it was only when he carried his heart into the most monotonous part of his work that he found any inspiration in it, that he could feel he had accomplished anything." We turned suddenly away into a room where we had not been before. I could not notice the pictures that covered the walls for the sake of one to which Miss Stuart led the way. After looking upon that, there could be no thought of finding out any other. It possessed the whole room. The inspiration which uplifted the eyes fell over the whole painting. We looked at it silently, and it was not till we had left the building that Miss Stuart said,—
"We have seen there something which takes away all thought of artist or style of painting or work. I have never been able to ask myself what is the color of the eyes of that Madonna, or of her flowing hair, or the tone of the drapery. I see only an expression that inspires the whole figure, gives motion to the hands, life to the eyes, thought to the lips, and soul to the whole being."
"The whole inspiration, the whole work," I said, "is far above us. It is quite above me. No, I am not an artist; my fingers do not tingle for the brush. This is an inspiration I cannot reach; it floats above me. It moves and touches me, but shows me my own powerlessness."
I left Boston. I went back to winter, to my old home, to my every-day's work. My work was not monotonous; or if one tone did often recur in it, I built upon it, out of my heart and life, full chords of music. The vision of Margaret Stuart came before my eyes in the midst of all mechanical labor, in all the hours of leisure, in all the dreams of night. My life, indeed, grew more varied than ever; for I found myself more at ease with those around me, finding more happiness than I had ever found before in my intercourse with others. I found more of myself in them, more sympathy in their joy or sorrow, myself more of an equal with those around me.
The winter months passed quickly away. Mr. Clarkson frequently showed his disappointment because the mills no longer produced the wonder of last year. For me, it had almost passed out of my thoughts. It seemed but a part of the baser fabric of that vision where Margaret Stuart reigned supreme. I saw no way to help him; but more and more, daily, rejoiced in the outer sunshine of the world, in the fresh, glowing spring, in the flowers of May. So I was surprised again, when, near the close of May, after a week of stormy weather, the sunlight broke through the window where it had shone the year before. It hung a moment on the threads of work,—then, seeming to spurn them, fell upon the ground.
We were weaving, alas! a strange "arabesque pattern," as it was called, with no special form,—so it seemed to my eyes,—bringing in gorgeous colors, but set in no shape which Nature ever produced, either above the earth or in metals or crystals hid far beneath. How I reproached myself, on Mr. Clarkson's account, that I had not interceded, just for this one day of sunshine, for some pattern that Nature might be willing to acknowledge! But the hour was past, I knew it certainly, when the next day the sun was clouded, and for many days we did not see its face again.
So the time passed away. Another summer came along, and another glowing autumn, and that winter I did not go to Boston. Mr. Clarkson let me fall back again into my commonplace existence. I was no longer more than one of the common workmen. Perhaps, indeed, he looked upon, me with a feeling of disappointment, as though a suddenly discovered diamond had turned to charcoal in his hands. Sometimes he consulted me upon chemical matters, finding I knew what the books held, but evidently feeling a little disturbed that I never brought out any hidden knowledge.
This second winter seemed more lonely to me. The star that had shone upon me seemed farther away than ever. I could see it still. It was hopelessly distant. My Juno! For a little while I could imagine she was thinking of me, that my little name might be associated in her memory with what we had talked of, what we had seen together, with some of the high things which I knew must never leave her thoughts. But this glimmering memory of me I knew must have faded away as her life went on, varied as it was with change of faces, sounds of music, and whirl of excitement. Then, too, I never heard her name mentioned. She was out of my circle, as far away from my sphere as the heroines of those old romances that I had read so long ago; but more life-like, more warm, more sunny was her influence still. It uplifted my work, and crowned my leisure with joy. I blessed the happy sunshine of that 27th of May, which in a strange way had been the clue that led to my knowledge of her.
The longest winter-months melt away at last into spring, and so did these. May came with her promises and blights of promise. Recalling, this time, how sunshine would come with the latter end of May through the dark walls, I begged of Mr. Clarkson that a favorite pattern of mine might be put upon the looms. Its design was imagined by one of my companions in my later walks. He was an artist of the mills, and had been trying to bring within the rigid lines that were required some of the grace and freedom of Nature. He had scattered here some water-lilies among broad green leaves. My admiration for Nature, alas! had grown only after severe cultivation among the strange forms which we carpet-makers indulge in with a sort of mimicry of Nature. So I cannot be a fair judge of this, even as a work of art. I see sometimes tapestries in a meadow studded with buttercups, and I fancy patterns for carpets when I see a leaf casting its shadow upon a stone. So I may be forgiven for saying that these water-lilies were dear to me as seeming like Nature, as they were lying upon their green leaves.
Mr. Clarkson granted my request, and for a few days, this pattern was woven by the machine. These trial-days I was excited from my usual calmness. The first day the sunshine did not reach the narrow window. The second day we had heavy storm and rain. But the third day, not far from the expected hour, the sunshine burst through the little space. It fell upon my golden threads; it seemed directly to embrace them joyously, to encircle them closely. The sunlight seemed to incorporate itself with the woolly fibre, to conceal itself among the work where the shuttle chose to hide it. I fancied a sort of laughing joy, a clatter and dash in the machinery itself, as though there were a happy time, where was usually only a monotonous whirl. I could scarcely contain myself till noon.
When I left my room, I found, on inquiry, that Mr. Clarkson was not in the building, and was to be away all day. I went out into the air for a free breath, and looked up into the glowing sky, yet was glad to go back again to my machines, which I fancied would greet me with an unwonted joy. But, as I passed towards the stairway, I glanced into one of the lower rooms, where some of the clerks were writing. I fancied Mr. Clarkson might be there. There were women employed in this room, and suddenly one who was writing at a desk attracted my attention. I did not see her face; but the impression that her figure gave me haunted me as I passed on. Some one passing me saw my disturbed look.
"What have you seen? a ghost?" he asked.
"Who is writing in that room? Can you tell me?" I said.
"You know them all," was his answer, "except the new-comer, Miss Stuart. Have not you heard the talk of her history,—how the father has failed and died and all that, and how the daughter is glad enough to get work under Mr. Clarkson's patronage?"
The bell was ringing that called me, and I could not listen to more. My brain was whirling uncertainly, and I doubted if I ought to believe my ears. I went back to my work more dazed and bewildered than ever in my youthful days. I forgot the wonder of the morning. It was quite outshone by the wonder of the afternoon. I longed for my hour of release. I longed for a time for thought,—to learn whether what had been told me could be true. When the time came, I hastened down-stairs; but I found the door of the office closed. Its occupants had all gone. I hastened through the village, turned back again, and on the bridge over the little stream met Margaret Stuart. She was the same. It made no difference what were her surroundings, she was the same; there was the same wonderful glance, the same smile of repose. It made no difference where or how I met her, she ruled me still. She greeted me with the same air and manner as in her old home when I saw her first.
She told me afterwards of the changes and misfortunes of the past year, of her desire for independence, and how she found she was little able to uphold it herself.
"Some of my friends," she said, "were very anxious I should teach singing,—I had such a delicious voice, which had been so well cultivated. I could sing Italian opera-songs and the like. But I found I could only sing the songs that pleased me, and it was doubtful whether they would happen to suit the taste or the voice of those I should try to teach. For, I must confess it, I have never cultivated my voice except for my own pleasure, and never for the sake of the art. I did try to teach music a little while, and, oh, it was hopeless! I remembered some of our old talks about drudgery, and thought it had been a happy thing for me, if I had ever learned how to drudge over anything. What I mean is, I have never learned how to go through a monotonous duty, how to give it an inspiration which would make it possible or endurable. It would have been easier to summon up all my struggling for the sake of one great act of duty. I did not know how to scatter it over work day after day the same. Worse than all, in spite of all my education, I did not know enough of music to teach it."
She went on, not merely this evening, but afterwards, to tell me of the different efforts she had made to earn a living for herself with the help of kind friends.
"At last," she said, "I bethought me of my handwriting, of the 'elegant' notes which used to receive such praise; and when I met Mr. Clarkson one day in Boston, I asked him what price he would pay me for it. I will tell you that he was very kind, very thoughtful for me. He fancied the work he had to offer would be distasteful to me; but he has made it as agreeable, as easy to be performed, as can be done. My aunt was willing to come here with me. She has just enough to live upon herself, and we are likely to live comfortably together here. So I am trying that sort of work you praised so much when you were with me; and I shall be glad, if you can go on and show me what inspiration can bring into it."
So day after day I saw her, and evening after evening we renewed the old talks. The summer passed on, and the early morning found her daily at her work, every day pursuing an unaccustomed labor. Her spirit seemed more happy and joyous than ever. She seemed far more at home than in the midst of crowded streets and gay, brilliant rooms. Her expression was more earnest and spiritual than ever,—her life, I thought, gayer and happier.