V1 by Catharine Maria Sedgwick
The Linwoods V2PREFACE.
THE LINWOODS; OR, "SIXTY YEARS SINCE" IN AMERICA. BY THE AUTHOR OF
"HOPE LESLIE," "REDWOOD,"
The Eternal Power
Lodged in the will of man the hallowed names
Of freedom and of country.
— Miss Mitford IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. I.
The title of these volumes will render their readers liable to a
disappointment, from which a few prefatory words may save them. It was
chosen simply to mark the period of the story, and that period was
selected as one to which an American always gratefully recurs, and as
affording a picturesque light for domestic features. The writer has
aimed to exhibit the feeling of the times, and to give her younger
readers a true, if a slight, impression of the condition of their
country at the most—the onlysuffering period of its existence, and by
means of this impression to deepen their gratitude to their
patriot-fathers; a sentiment that will tend to increase their fidelity
to the free institutions transmitted to them. Historic events and war
details have been avoided; the writer happily being aware that no
"A swashing and a martial outside"
would conceal the weak and unskilled woman.
A very few of our "immortal names" have been introduced, with what
propriety the reader must determine. It may be permitted to say, in
extenuation of what may seem presumption, that whenever the writer has
mentioned Washington, she has felt a sentiment resembling the awe of
the pious Israelite when he approached the ark of the Lord.
For the rest, the author of these volumes is most happy in trusting
to the indulgent disposition which our American public constantly
manifest towards native literature.
TO LOUISA MINOT,
These volumes are inscribed by their author, as an expression of
that friendship which was begun in youth, and has increased with every
added year of life.
"Un notable exemple de la forcenée curiosité de notre nature,
s'amusant se préoccuper des choses futures, comme si elle n'avoit pas
assez à faire à désirer les présentes."
Some two or three years before our revolutionary war, just at the
close of day, two girls were seen entering Broadway through a wicket
garden-gate, in the rear of a stately mansion which fronted on
Broad-street, that being then the court-end of the city—the residence
of unquestioned aristocracy— (sic transit gloria mundi!) whence royal
favour and European fashions were diffused through the province of
The eldest of the two girls had entered on her teens. She was
robust and tall for her years, with the complexion of a Hebe, very dark
hair, an eye (albeit belonging to one of the weaker sex) that looked as
if she were born to empire—it might be over hearts and eyes—and the
step of a young Juno. The younger could be likened neither to goddess,
queen, nor any thing that assumed or loved command. She was of earth's
gentlest and finestmould—framed for all tender humanities, with the
destiny of woman written on her meek brow. "Thou art born to love, to
suffer, to obey,—to minister, and not to be ministered to." Well did
she fulfil her mission! The girls were followed by a black servant in
livery. The elder pressed forward as if impelled by some powerful
motive, while her companion lagged behind,—sometimes chasing a young
bird, then smelling the roses that peeped through the garden-paling;
now stopping to pat a good-natured mastiff, or caress a chubby child:
many a one attracted her with its broad shining face and linsey-woolsey
short-gown and petticoat, seated with the family group on the
freshly-scoured stoops of the Dutch habitations that occurred at
intervals on their way. "Come, do come along, Bessie, you are stopping
for every thing," said her companion, impatiently. Poor Bessie, with
the keenest sensibility, had, what rarely accompanies it, a general
susceptibility to external impressions,—one might have fancied she had
an extra set of nerves. When the girls had nearly reached St. Paul's
church, their attendant remonstrated,—"Miss Isabella, you are getting
quite out to the fields—missis said you were only going a turn up the
"So I am, Jupe."
"A pretty long turn," muttered Jupiter; and after proceeding a few
paces further, he added, in a raised voice, "the sun is going down,
"That was news at 12 o'clock, Jupiter."
"But it really is nearly set now, Isabella," interposed her
"Well, what if it is, Bessie?—it is just the right time—Effie is
always surest between sundown and dark."
"Mercy, Isabella! you are not going to Effie's. It is horrid to go
there after sundown—please Isabella, don't." Isabella only replied by
a "pshaw, child!" and a laugh.
Bessie mustered her moral courage (it required it all to oppose
Isabella), and stopping short, said, "I am not sure it is right to go
there at all."
"There is no right nor wrong in the matter, Bessie,—you are always
splitting hairs." Notwithstanding her bold profession, Isabella paused,
and with a tremulousness of voice that indicated she was not
indifferent to the cardinal points in her path of morality, she
added,—"why do you think it is not right, Bessie?"
"Because the Bible says, that sorcery, and divination, and every
thing of that kind, is wicked."
"Nonsense, child! that was in old times, you know."
Isabella's evásion might have quieted a rationalist of the present
day, but not Bessie, who had been bred in the strict school of
New-England orthodoxy; and she replied, "What was right and wrong in
old times, is right and wrong now, Isabella."
"Don't preach, Bessie—I will venture all theharm of going to
Effie's; and you may lay the sin at my door;" and with her usual
independent, fearnaught air, she turned into a shady lane that led by a
cross-cut to "Aunt Katy's garden",—a favourite resort of the citizens
for rural recreations. The Chatham-street theatre has since occupied
the same spot —that theatre is now a church. Isabella quickened her
pace. Bessie followed most unwillingly. "Miss Belle," cried out
Jupiter, "I must detest, in your ma's name, against your succeeding
"The tiresome old fool!" With this exclamation on her lips,
Isabella turned round, and drawing her person up to the height of
womanhood, she added, "I shall go just as far as I please, Jupe—follow
me; if anybody is scolded it shall be me, not you. I wish mamma," she
continued, pursuing her way, "would not send Jupe after us,—just as if
we were two babies in leading-strings."
"I would not go a step farther for the world, if he were not with
us," said Bessie.
"And pray, what good would he do us if there were danger—such a
desperate coward as he is?"
"He is a man, Isabella."
"He has the form of one—Jupe," she called out (the spirit of
mischief playing about her arch mouth), pointing to a slight elevation,
called Gallows hill, where a gibbet was standing, "Jupe, is not that
the place where they hung the poor creatures who were concerned in the
"Yes, miss, sure it is the awful place:" and he mended his pace, to
be as near as might be to the young ladies.
"Did not some of your relations suffer there, Jupiter?"
"Yes, miss, two of my poster'ty—my grandmother and aunt Venus."
Isabella repressed a smile, and said, with unaffected seriousness,
"it was a shocking business, Bessie—a hundred and fifty poor wretches
sacrificed, I have heard papa say. Is it true, Jupe, that their ghosts
walk about here, and have been seen many a time when it was so dark you
could not see your hand before your face?"
"I dare say, Miss Belle. Them that's hung onjustly always travels."
"But how could they be seen in such darkness?"
"'Case, miss, you know ghosts have a light in their anterior, just
"Ah, have they? I never understood it before— what a horrid
cracking that gibbet makes! Bless us! and there is very little wind."
"That makes no distinctions, miss; it begins as the sun goes down,
and keeps it up all night. Miss Belle, stop one minute—don't go across
the hill —that is right in the ghost-track!"
"Oh don't, for pity's sake, Isabella," said Bessie, imploringly.
"Hush, Bessie, it is the shortest way, and" (in a whisper) "I want
to scare Jupe. Jupe, it seems to me there is an odd hot feel in the
"There sarten is, miss, a very onhealthy feeling."
"And, my goodness! Jupiter, don't you feel a very, very slight kind
of a trembling—a shake—or a roll, as if something were walking in the
earth, under our feet?"
"I do, and it gets worser and worser, every step."
"It feels like children playing under the bed, and hitting the
sacking with their heads."
"Oh, Lord, miss—yes—it goes bump, bump, against my feet."
By this time they had passed to the further side of the hill, so as
to place the gibbet between them and the western sky, lighted up with
one of those brilliant and transient radiations that sometimes
immediately succeed the sun's setting, diffusing a crimson glow, and
outlining the objects relieved against the sky with light red. Our
young heroine, like all geniuses, knew how to seize a circumstance.
"Oh, Jupe," she exclaimed, "look, what a line of blood is drawn round
"The Lord have marcy on us, miss!"
"And, dear me! I think I see a faint shadow of a man with a rope
round his neck, and his head on one side—do you see, Jupe?"
Poor Jupe did not reply. He could bear it no longer. His fear of
his young mistress—his fear of a scolding at home, all were merged in
the terror Isabella had conjured up by the aid of the traditionary
superstitions with which his mind was previouslyfilled; and without
attempting an answer, he fairly ran off the ground, leaving Isabella
laughing, and Bessie expostulating, and confessing that she did not in
the least wonder that poor Jupe was scared. Once more she ventured to
entreat Isabella to give up the expedition to Effie's, for this time at
least, when she was interrupted and reassured by the appearance of two
friends, in the persons of Isabella's brother and Jasper Meredith,
returning, with their dogs and guns, from a day's sport.
"What wild-goose chase are you on, Belle, at this time of day?"
asked her brother. "I am sure Bessie Lee has not come to Gallows hill
with her own good will."
"I have made game of my goose, at any rate, and given Bessie Lee a
good lesson, on what our old schoolmaster would call the potentiality
of mankind—but come," she added, for though rather ashamed to confess
her purpose when she knew ridicule must be braved, courage was easier
to Isabella than subterfuge, "Come along with us to Effie's, and I will
tell you the joke I played off on Jupe." Isabella's joke seemed to her
auditors a capital one, for they were at that happy age when laughter
does not ask a reason to break forth from the full fountain of youthful
spirits. Isabella spun out her story till they reached Effie's door,
which admitted them, not to any dark laboratory of magic, but to a snug
little Dutch parlour, with a nicely-sanded floor—afireplace gay with
the flowers of the season, pionies and Guelder-roses, and ornamented
with storied tiles, that, if not as classic, were, as we can vouch, far
more entertaining than the sculptured marble of our own luxurious days.
The pythoness Effie turned her art to good account, producing
substantial comforts by her mysterious science; and playing her cards
well for this world, whatever bad dealings she might have with another.
Even Bessie felt her horror of witchcraft diminished before this plump
personage, with a round, good-humoured face, looking far more like the
good vrow of a Dutch picture than like the gaunt skinny hag who has
personated the professors of the bad art from the Witch of Endor
downwards. Effie's physiognomy, save an ominous contraction of her
eyelids, and the keen and somewhat sinister glances that shot between
them, betrayed nothing of her calling.
There were, as on all similar occasions, some initiatory ceremonies
to be observed before the fortunes were told. Herbert, boylike, was
penniless; and he offered a fine brace of snipe to propitiate the
oracle. They were accepted with a smile that augured well for the
official response he should receive. Jasper's purse, too, was empty:
and after ransacking his pockets in vain, he slipped out a gold
sleeve-button, and told Effie he would redeem it the next time he came
her way. Meanwhile there was a little by-talk between Isabella and
Bessie; Isabella insisting on paying the fee for her friend, and Bessie
insisting that "she would have no fortune told,—that she did not
believe Effie could tell it, and if she could, she would not for all
the world let her." In vain Isabella ridiculed and reasoned by turns.
Bessie, blushing and trembling, persisted. Effie at the same moment was
shuffling a pack of cards, as black as if they had been sent up from
Pluto's realms; and while she was muttering over some incomprehensible
phrases, and apparently absorbed in the manipulations of her art, she
heard and saw all that passed, and determined that if poor little
Bessie would not acknowledge, she should feel her power.
Herbert, the most incredulous, and therefore the boldest, first
came forward to confront his destiny. "A great deal of rising in the
world, and but little sinking for you, Master Herbert Linwood—you are
to go over the salt water, and ride foremost in royal hunting-grounds."
"Good!—good!—go on, Effie."
"Oh what beauties of horses—a pack of hounds —High! how the
steeds go—how they leap—the buck is at bay—there are you!"
"Capital, Effie!—I strike him down?"
"You are too fast, young master—I can tell no more than I see—the
sport is past—the place is changed—there is a battle-field, drums,
trumpets, and flags flying—Ah, there is a sign of danger—a pit yawns
at your feet."
"Shocking!" cried Bessie; "pray, don't listen any more, Herbert."
"Pshaw, Bessie! I shall clear the pit. Effie loves snipe too well
to leave me the wrong side of that."
Effie was either offended at Herbert's intimation that her favours
might be bought, or perhaps she saw his lack of faith in his laughing
eye, and, determined to punish him, she declared that all was dark and
misty beyond the pit; there might be a leap over it, and a smooth road
beyond—she could not tell—she could only tell what she saw.
"You are a croaking raven, Effie!" exclaimed Herbert; "I'll shuffle
my own fortune;" and seizing the cards, he handled them as knowingly as
the sibyl herself, and ran over a jargon quite as unintelligible; and
then holding them fast, quite out of Effie's reach, he ran on—"Ah,
ha—I see the mist going off like the whiff from a Dutchman's pipe; and
here's a grand castle, and parks, and pleasure-grounds; and here am I,
with a fair blue-eyed lady, within it." Then dashing down the cards, he
turned and kissed Bessie's reddening cheek, saying, "Let others wait on
fortune, Effie, I'll carve my own."
Isabella was nettled at Herbert's open contempt of Effie's
seership. She would not confess nor examine the amount of her faith,
nor did she choose to be made to feel on how tottering a base it
rested. She was exactly at that point of credulity wheremuch depends on
the sympathy of others. It is said to be essential to the success of
animal magnetism, that not only the operator and the subject, but the
spectators, should believe. Isabella felt she was on disenchanted
ground, while Herbert, with his quizzical smile, stood charged, and
aiming at her a volley of ridicule; and she proposed that those who had
yet their fortunes to hear should, one after another, retire with Effie
to a little inner room. But Herbert cried out, "Fair play, fair play!
Dame Effie has read the riddle of my destiny to you all, and now it is
but fair I should hear yours."
Bessie saw Isabella's reluctance, and she again interposed,
reminding her of "mamma—the coming night," and poor Isabella was fain
to give up the contest for the secret conference, and hush Bessie, by
telling Effie to proceed.
"Shall I tell your fortin and that young gentleman's together?"
asked Effie, pointing to Jasper. Her manner was careless; but she cast
a keen glance at Isabella, to ascertain how far she might blend their
"Oh, no, no—no partnership for me," cried Isabella, while the fire
which flashed from her eye evinced that the thought of a partnership
with Jasper, if disagreeable, was not indifferent to her.
"Nor for me, either, mother Effie," said Jasper; "or if there be a
partnership, let it be with the pretty blue-eyed mistress of Herbert's
"Nay, master, that pretty miss does not choose her fortune
told—and she's right—poor thing!" she added, with an ominous shake of
the head. Bessie's heart quailed, for she both believed and feared.
"Now, shame on you, Effie," cried Herbert; "she cannot know any
thing about you, Bessie; she has not even looked at your fortune yet."
"Did I say I knew, Master Herbert? Time must show whether I know or
Bessie still looked apprehensively. "Nonsense," said Herbert; "what
can she know?—she never saw you before."
"True, I never saw her; but I tell you, young lad, there is such a
thing as seeing the shadow of things far distant and past, and never
seeing the realities, though they it be that cast the shadows." Bessie
shuddered—Effie shuffled the cards. "Now just for a trial," said she;
"I will tell you something about her—not of the future; for I'd be
loath to overcast her sky before the time comes—but of the past."
"Pray, do not," interposed Bessie; "I don't wish you to say any
thing about me, past, present, or to come."
"Oh, Bessie," whispered Isabella, "let her try —there can be no
harm if you do not ask her— the past is past, you know—now we have a
chance to know if she really is wiser than others." Bessie again
resolutely shook her head.
"Let her go on," whispered Herbert, "and see what a fool she will
make of herself."
"Let her go on, dear Bessie," said Jasper, "or she will think she
has made a fool of you."
Bessie feared that her timidity was folly in Jasper's eyes; and she
said, "she may go on if you all wish, but I will not hear her;" and she
covered her ears with her hands.
"Shall I?" asked Effie, looking at Isabella; Isabella nodded
assent, and she proceeded. "She has come from a great distance—her
people are well to do in the world, but not such quality as yours, Miss
Isabella Linwood—she has found some things here pleasanter than she
expected— some not so pleasant—the house she was born in stands on
the sunny side of a hill." At each pause that Effie made, Isabella gave
a nod of acquiescence to what she said; and this, or some stray words,
which might easily have found their way through Bessie's little hands,
excited her curiosity, and by degrees they slid down so as to oppose a
very slight obstruction to Effie's voice. "Before the house," she
continued, "and not so far distant but she may hear its roaring, when a
storm uplifts it, is the wide sea—that sea has cost the poor child
dear." Bessie's heart throbbed audibly. "Since she came here she has
both won love and lost it."
"There, there you are out," cried Herbert, glad of an opportunity
to stop the current that was becoming too strong for poor Bessie.
"She can best tell herself whether I am right," said Effie, coolly.
"She is right—right in all," said Bessie, retreating to conceal
the tears that were starting from her eyes.
Isabella neither saw nor heard this—she was only struck with what
Effie delivered as a proof of her preternatural skill; and more than
ever eager to inquire into her own destiny, she took the place Bessie
Effie saw her faith, and was determined to reward it. "Miss
Isabella Linwood, you are born to walk in no common track,"—she might
have read this prediction, written with an unerring hand on the girl's
lofty brow, and in her eloquent eye. "You will be both served and
honoured— those that have stood in kings' palaces will bow down to
you—but the sun does not always shine on the luckiest—you will have a
dark day—trouble when you least expect it—joy when you are not
looking for it." This last was one of Effie's staple prophecies, and
was sure to be verified in the varied web of every individual's
experience. "You have had some trouble lately, but it will soon pass
away, and for ever." A safe prediction in regard to any girl of twelve
years. "You'll have plenty of friends, and lots of suiters—the right
one will be—"
"Oh, never mind—don't say who, Effie," cried Isabella, gaspingly.
"I was only going to say the right one will be tall and elegant,
with beautiful large eyes—I can't say whether blue or black—but
black, I think; for his hair is both dark and curling."
"Bravo, bravissimo, brother Jasper!" exclaimed Herbert; "it is your
curly pate Effie sees in those black cards, beyond a doubt."
"I bow to destiny," replied Jasper, with an arch smile, that caught
"I do not," she retorted—"look again, Effie—it must not be
curling hair—I despise it."
"I see but once, miss, and then clearly; but there's curling hair
on more heads than one."
"I never—never should like any one with curling hair," persisted
"It would be no difficult task for you to pull it straight, Miss
Isabella," said the provoking Jasper. Isabella only replied by her
heightened colour; and bending over the table, she begged Effie to
"There's not much more shown me, miss—you will have some tangled
ways—besetments, wonderments, and disappointments."
"Effie's version of the 'course of true love never does run
smooth,' " interposed Jasper.
"But all will end well," she concluded; "your husband will be the
man of your heart—he will be beautiful, and rich, and great; and take
you home to spend your days in merry England."
"Thank you—thank you, Effie," said Isabella,languidly. The
"beauty, riches, and days spent in England" were well enough, for
beauty and riches are elements in a maiden's beau-ideal; and England
was then the earthly paradise of the patrician colonists. But she was
not just now in a humour to acquiesce in the local habitation and the
name which the "dark curling hair" had given to the ideal personage.
Jasper Meredith had not even a shadow of faith in Effie; but next to
being fortune's favourite, he liked to appear so; and contriving,
unperceived by his companions, to slip his remaining sleeve-button into
Effie's hand, he said, "Keep them both;" and added aloud, "Now for my
luck, Dame Effie, and be it weal or be it wo, deliver it truly."
Effie was propitiated, and would gladly have imparted the golden
tinge of Jasper's bribe to his future destiny; but the opportunity was
too tempting to be resisted, to prove to him that she was mastered by a
higher power: and looking very solemn, and shaking her head, she said,
"There are too many dark spots here. Ah, Mr. Jasper
Meredith—disappointment! disappointment!—the arrow just misses the
mark—the cup is filled to the brim—the hand is raised—the lips
parted to receive it—then comes the slip!" She hesitated, she seemed
alarmed; perhaps she was so, for it is impossible to say how far a weak
mind may become the dupe of its own impostures—"Do not ask me any
farther," she added. The young people now all gathered round her.
Bessie rested her elbows on the table, and her burning cheeks on her
hands, and riveted her eyes on Effie, which, from their natural blue,
were deepened almost to black, and absolutely glowing with the
intensity of her interest.
"Go on, Effie," cried Jasper; "if fortune is cross, I'll give her
wheel a turn."
"Ah, the wheel turns but too fast—a happy youth is uppermost."
"So far, so good."
"An early marriage."
"That may be weal, or may be wo," said Jasper; "weal it is," he
added, in mock heroic; "but for the dread of something after."
"An early death!"
"For me, Effie? Heaven forefend!"
"No, not for you; for here you are again a leader on a
battle-field—the dead and dying in heaps—pools of blood—there's the
end on't," she concluded, shuddering, and throwing down the cards.
"What, leave me there, Effie! Oh, no—death or victory!"
"It may be death, it may be victory; it is not given to me to see
Jasper, quite undaunted, was on the point of protesting against a
destiny so uncertain, when a deep-drawn sigh from Bessie attracted the
eyes of the group, and they perceived the colour was gonefrom her
cheeks, and that she was on the point of fainting. The windows were
thrown open—Effie produced a cordial, and she was soon restored to a
sense of her condition, which she attempted to explain, by saying she
was apt to faint even at the thought of blood!
They were now all ready, and quite willing to bid adieu to the
oracle, whose responses not having been entirely satisfactory to any
one of them, they all acquiesced in Bessie's remark, that "if it were
ever so right, she did not think there was much comfort in going to a
Each seemed in a more thoughtful humour than usual, and they walked
on in silence till they reached the space, now the park, then a
favourite play-ground for children, shaded by a few locusts, and here
and there an elm or stinted oak. Leaning against one of these was the
fine erect figure of a man, who seemed just declining from the meridian
of life, past its first ripeness and perfection, but still far from the
decay of age. "Ah, you runaways!" he exclaimed, on seeing the young
people advancing. "Belle, your mother has been in the fidgets about you
for the last hour."
"Jupiter might have told her, papa, that we were quite safe."
"Jupe truly! he came home with a rigmarole that we could make
nothing of. I assured her there was no danger, but that assurance never
quieted any woman. Herbert, can you tell me what theseboys are about?
they seem rather to be at work than play."
"What are you about, Ned?" cried Herbert to a young acquaintance.
"Throwing up a redoubt to protect our fort," and he pointed as he
spoke to a rude structure of poles, bricks, and broken planks on an
eminence, at the extremity of the unfenced ground.
"And what is your fort for, my lad?" asked Mr. Linwood.
"To keep off the British, sir."
"The British! and who are you?"
A loud huzzaing was heard from the fort— "What does that mean?"
asked Mr. Linwood.
"The whigs are hanging a tory, sir."
"The little rebel rascals!—Herbert!—you throwing up your hat and
"Certainly, sir—I am a regular whig."
"A regular fool!—put on your hat—and use it like a gentleman.
This matter shall be looked into —here are the seeds of rebellion
springing up in their young hot bloods—this may come to something, if
it is not seen to in time. Jasper, do you hear any thing of this jargon
in your schools?"
"Lord bless me! yes, sir; the boys are regularly divided into whigs
and tories—they have their badges and their pass-words, and I am sorry
to say that the whigs are three to one."
"You are loyal then, my dear boy?"
"Certainly, sir, I owe allegiance to the country in which I was
"And you, my hopeful Mr. Herbert, with your huzzas, what say you
"I say ditto to Jasper, sir—I owe allegiance to the country in
which I was born."
"Don't be a fool, Herbert—don't be a fool, even in jest—I hate a
whig as I do a toad, and if my son should prove a traitor to his king
and country, by George, I would cut him off for ever!"
"But, sir," said the imperturbable Herbert, "if he should choose
between his king and country—"
"There is no such thing—they are the same— so no more of that."
"I am glad Herbert has his warning in time," whispered Isabella to
"But it seems to me he is right for all," replied Bessie.
So arbitrarily do circumstances mould opinions. Isabella seemed
like one who might have been born a rebel chieftainess, Bessie as if
her destiny were passive obedience.
We have thus introduced some of the dramatis personæe of the
following volumes to our readers. It may seem that in their visit to
Effie, they prematurely exhibited the sentiments of riper years— but
what are boys and girls but the prototypes of men and women—time and
art may tinge and polish the wood, but the texture remains as nature
Bessie Lee was an exotic in New-York. The history of her being
there was simply this. New-England has, from the first been a favourite
school for the youth from the middle and southern states. Mr. Linwood
sent Herbert (who had given him some trouble by early manifesting that
love of self-direction which might have been the germe of his whiggism)
to a Latin school in a country town near Boston. While there, he
boarded in the family of a Colonel Lee—a most respectable farmer, who
had acquired his title and some military fame in the campaign of
forty-five against the French. Herbert remained a year with the Lees,
and he returned the kindness he received there with a hearty and
lasting affection. Here was his first experience of country life, and
every one knows how delightful to childhood are its freedom, exercises,
and pleasures, in harmony (felt, long before understood) with all the
laws of our nature. When Herbert returned he was eloquent in his
praises of Bessie —her beauty, gayety (then the excitability of her
disposition sometimes appeared in extravagant spirits), her sweetness
and manageableness; a feminine quality that he admired the more from
having had to contend with a contrary disposition in his sister
Isabella, who, in all their childish competitions, had manifested what
our Shaker friends would calla leading gift. Isabella's curiosity being
excited to see this rara avis of Herbert (with her the immediate
consequence of an inclination was to find the means of its
gratification), she asked her parents to send for Bessie to come to
New-York, and go to school with her. Mrs. Linwood, a model of conjugal
nonentity, gave her usual reply, "just as your papa says, dear." Her
father seldom said her nay, and Isabella thought her point gained, till
he referred the decision of the matter to her aunt Archer.
"Oh dear! now I shall have to argue the matter an hour; but never
mind, I can always persuade aunt at last." Mrs. Archer, as Isabella had
foreboded, was opposed to the arrangement—she thought there would be
positive unkindness in transplanting a little girl from her own plain,
frugal family, to a luxurious establishment in town, where all the
refinements and elegances then known in the colony were in daily use.
"It is the work of a lifetime, my dear Belle," she said, "to acquire
habits of exertion and self-dependance—such habits are essential to
this little country-girl—she does not know their worth, but she would
be miserable without them—how will she return to her home, where they
have a single servant of all-work, after being accustomed to the twelve
slaves in your house?"
"Twelve plagues, aunt! I am sure I should behappier with one, if
that one were our own dear good Rose."
"I believe you would, Belle, happier and better too; for the energy
which sometimes finds wrong channels now, would then be well employed."
"Do you see no other objection, aunt, to Bessie's coming?" asked
Isabella, somewhat impatient at the episode, though she was the subject
"I see none, my dear, but what relates to Bessie herself. If her
happiness would on the whole be diminished by her coming, you, my dear
generous Belle, would not wish it."
"No, aunt—certainly not—but then I am sure it would not be—she
will go to all the schools I go to —that I shall make papa promise
me—and she will make a great many friends and—and—I want to have her
come so much. Now don't, please don't tell papa you disapprove of
it—just let me have my own way this time."
"Ah, Belle, when will that time come that you do not have your own
Isabella perceived her aunt would no longer oppose her wishes. The
invitation was sent to Bessie, and accepted by her parents; and the
child's singular beauty and loveliness secured her friends, one of the
goods Isabella had predicted. She did not suffer precisely the evil
consequences Mrs. Archer rationally anticipated from her residence in
New-York, yet that, conspiring with events, gave the hue (bright or
sad?) to her after life. Physically andmorally, she was one of those
delicate structures that require a hardening process—she resembled the
exquisite instrument that responds music to the gentle touches of the
elements, but is broken by the first rude gust that sweeps over it. But
we are anticipating.
"There is a history in all men's lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased;
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things,
As yet not come to life."
"This life, sae far's I understand,
Is a' enchanted fairy-land,
Where pleasure is the magic wand,
That, wielded right,
Makes hours like minutes, hand in hand,
Dance by fu' light."
As soon as Mr. Linwood became aware of his son's whig tendencies,
he determined, as far as possible, to counteract them; and instead of
sending him, as he had purposed, to Harvard University, into a district
which he considered infected with the worst of plagues, he determined
to retain him under his own vigilant eye, at the loyal literary
institution in his own city. This was a bitter disappointment to
"It is deused hard," he said to Jasper Meredith, who was just
setting out for Cambridge to finish his collegiate career there, "that
you, who have such a contempt for the Yankees, should go to live among
them; when I, who love and honour them from the bottom of my heart,
must stay here, play the good boy, and quietly submit to this most
unreasonable paternal fiat."
"No more of my contempt for the Yankees, Hal,an' thou lovest me,"
replied Jasper; "you remember Æsop's advice to Crœsus at the Persian
"No, I am sure I do not. You have the most provoking way of resting
the lever by which you bring out your own knowledge on your friend's
"Pardon me, Herbert; I was only going to remind you of the Phrygian
sage's counsel to Crœsus, to speak flattery at court, or hold his
tongue. I assure you, that as long as I live among these soidisant
sovereigns, I shall conceal my spleen, if I do not get rid of it."
"Oh, you'll get rid of it. They need only to be seen at their homes
to be admired and loved."
"Yes, loved; to tell you the truth, Jasper," Herbert's honest face
reddened as he spoke, "it was something of this matter of loving that I
have been trying for the last week to make up my mind to speak to you.
You may think me fool, dunce, or what you please; but, mark me, I am
serious— you remember Bessie Lee?"
"Perfectly! I understand you—excellent!"—
"Hear me out, and then laugh as much as you like. Eliot, Bessie's
brother, will be your classmate—you will naturally be friends—for he
is a first-rate—and you will naturally—"
"Fall in love with his pretty sister?"
"If not forewarned, you certainly would; for there is nothing like
her this side heaven. Butremember, Jasper, as you are my friend,
remember, I look upon her as mine. 'I spoke first,' as the children
say; I have loved Bessie ever since I lived at Westbrook."
"Upon my soul, Herbert, you have woven a pretty bit of romance.
This is the very youngest dream of love I ever heard of. Pray, how old
were you when you went to live at farmer Lee's?"
"Eleven—Bessie was six—I stayed there two years; and last year,
as you know, Bessie spent with us."
"And she is now fairly entered upon her teens; you have nothing to
fear from me, Herbert, depend on't. I never was particularly fond of
children— there is not the slightest probability of my falling into an
intimacy with your yeoman friend, or ever, in any stage of my
existence, getting up a serious passion for a peasant girl. I have no
affinities for birds of the basse cour. My flight is more aspiring
—'birds of a feather flock together,' my dear fellow, and the lady of
my love must be such a one as my lady aunts in England and my
eagle-eyed mother will not look down upon. So a truce to your fears,
dear Herbert. Give me the letter you promised to your farmer, scholar,
friend; and rest assured, he never shall find out that I do not think
him equal in blood and breeding to the King of England, as all these
Yankees fancy themselves to be."
Herbert gave the letter, but not with the best grace. He did not
like Jasper's tone towards hisNew-England friends. He half wished he
had not written the letter, and quite, that he had been more frugal of
his praise of Jasper. With the letter, he gave to Jasper various
love-tokens from Isabella and himself for Bessie. The young men were
saying their last parting words, when Herbert suddenly exclaimed, "Oh,
I forgot! Isabella sent you a keepsake," and he gave Jasper a silk
purse, with a dove and olive-branch prettily wrought on it.
"Oh, you savage!" exclaimed Jasper, "had you forgotten this!" He
pressed it to his lips. "Dear, dear Belle! I kiss your olive-branch—we
have had many a falling-out, but thus will they always end." Then
slipping a ring from his finger, on which was engraven a heart,
transfixed by an arrow—"Beg Isabella," he said, "to wear this for my
sake. It is a pretty bauble, but she'll not value it for that, nor
because it has been worn by all our Capulets since the days of good
Queen Bess, as my aunt, Lady Mary, assured me; but perhaps she will
care for it for—pshaw." He dashed off an honest tear—a servant
announced that his uncle was awaiting him, and cordially embracing
Herbert, they parted.
As Herbert had expected, Eliot Lee and Meredith were classmates,
but not, as he predicted, or at least not immediately, did they become
friends. Their circumstances, and those habits which grow out of
circumstances, were discordant. Meredith had been bred in a luxurious
establishment, and was taught to regard its artificial and elaborate
arrangement as essential to the production of a gentleman. He was a
citizen "of no mean city," though we now look back upon New-York at
that period, with its some eighteen or twenty thousand inhabitants, as
little more than a village. There was then, resulting from the
condition of America far more disparity between the facilities and
refinements of town and country than there now is; and even now there
are young citizens (and some citizens in certain illusions remain young
all their lives) who look with the most self-complacent disdain on
country breeding. Prior to our revolution, the distinctions of rank in
the colonies were in accordance with the institutions of the old world.
The coaches of the gentry were emblazoned with their family arms, and
their plate with the family crest. If peers and baronets were rarœ
aves, there were among the youths of Harvard "nephews of my lord," and
"sons of Sir George and Sir Harry." These were, naturally, Meredith's
first associates. He was himself of the privileged order and, connected
with many a noble family in the mother country, he felt his
aristocratic blood tingle in every vein. A large property, which had
devolved to him on the death of his father, was chiefly vested in real
estate in America, and his guardians, with the consent of his mother,
who herself remained in England, had judiciously decided to educatehim
where it would be most advantageous for him finally to fix his
The external circumstances—the appliances and means of the two
young men, were certainly widely different. Eliot Lee's parentage would
not be deemed illustrious, according to any artificial code; but
graduated by nature's aristocracy (nature alone sets a seal to her
patents of universal authority), he should rank with the noble of every
land. And he might claim what is now considered as the peculiar, the
purest, the enduring, and in truth the only aristocracy of our own. He
was a lineal descendant from one of the renowned pilgrim fathers, whose
nobility, stamped in the principles that are regenerating mankind, will
be transmitted by their sons on the Missouri and the Oregon, when the
stars and garters of Europe have perished and are forgotten.
Colonel Lee, Eliot's father, was a laborious New-England farmer, of
sterling sense and integrity—in the phrase of his people, "an
independent, fore-handed man;" a phrase that implies a property of four
or five thousand dollars over and above a good farm, unencumbered with
debts, and producing rather more than its proprietor, in his frugal
mode of life, has occasion to spend. Eliot's mother was a woman of
sound mind, and of that quick and delicate perception of the beautiful
in nature and action, that is the attribute of sensibility and the
proof of its existence, though the possessor,like Eliot's mother, may,
from diffidence or personal awkwardness, never be able to imbody it in
graceful expression. She had a keen relish of English literature, and
rich acquisitions in it; such as many of our ladies, who have been
taught by a dozen masters, and instructed in half as many tongues,
might well envy. With all this, she was an actual operator in the
arduous labours that fall to the female department of a farming
establishment—plain farmer Lee's plain wife. This is not an uncommon
combination of character and condition in New-England. We paint from
life, if not to the life: our fault is not extravagance of colouring.
It is unnecessary to enter into the details of Eliot Lee's
education. Circumstances combined to produce the happiest results—to
develop his physical, intellectual, and moral powers; in short, to make
him a favourable specimen of the highest order of New-England
character. He had just entered on his academic studies, when his father
(as our friend Effie intimated in her dark soothsaying) was lost while
crossing Massachusetts Bay during a violent thunder-storm. Fortunately,
the good colonel's forecast had so well provided for his heirs, that
his widow was able to maintain the respectable position of his family
without recalling her son from college. There, as many of our
distinguished men have done, he made his acquisitions available for his
support by teaching.
Meredith and Eliot Lee were soon acknowledged to be the gifted
young men of their class. Though nearly equals in capacity, Eliot,
being by far the most patient and assiduous, bore off the college
honours. Meredith did not lack industry—certainly not ambition; but he
had not the hardihood and self-discipline that it requires to forego an
attractive pursuit for a dry study: and while Eliot, denying his
natural tastes, toiled by the midnight lamp over the roughest academic
course, he gracefully ran through the light and beaten path of
They were both social—Meredith rather gay in his disposition. Both
had admirable tempers; Meredith's was partly the result of early
training in the goodly seemings of the world, Eliot's the gift of
Heaven, and therefore the more perfect. Eliot could not exist without
self-respect. The applause of society was essential to Meredith. He
certainly preferred a real to a merely apparent elevation; but
experience could alone decide whether he were willing to pay its
price—sustained effort, and generous sacrifice. Both were endowed with
personal graces. Neither man nor woman, that ever we could learn, is
indifferent to these.
Before the young men had proceeded far in their collegiate career
they were friends, if that holy relation may be predicated of those who
are united by accidental circumstances. That they were on a
confidential footing will be seen by the followingconversation.
Meredith was in his room, when, on hearing a tap at his door, he
answered it by saying, "Come in, Eliot, my dear fellow. My good, or
your evil genius, has brought you to me at the very moment when I am
steeped to the lips in trouble."
"You in trouble! why—what is the matter?"
"Diable! matter enough for song or sermon. 'Not a trouble abroad
but it lights o' my shoulders' —First, here is a note from our
reverend Prœses. 'Mr. Jasper Meredith, junior class—you are fined, by
the proper authority, one pound ten, for going into Boston last
Thursday night, to an assembly or ball, contrary to college laws—as
this is the first offence of the kind reported against you, we have,
though you have been guilty of a gross violation of known duty, been
lenient in fixing the amount of your fine.'—Lenient, good
Præses!—Take instead one pound ten ounces of my flesh. My purse is far
leaner than my person, though that be rather of the Cassius
order.—Now, Eliot, is not this a pretty bill for one night's sorry
amusement— one pound ten, besides the price of two ball tickets, and
"How, two ball tickets, Meredith?"
"Why, I gave one to the tailor's pretty sister, Sally Dunn."
"Sally Dunn!—Bravo, Meredith. Plebeian as you think my notions, I
should hardly have escorted Sally Dunn to a ball."
"My service to you, Eliot!—do not fancy I have been enacting a
scene fit for Hogarth's idle apprentice. Were I so absurd, do you fancy
these Boston patricians would admit a tailor's sister within their
taboed circle?—No—no, little Sally went with company of her own
cloth, and trimmings to match (in her brother's slang)—rosy milliners
and journeyman tailors, to a ball got up by her compeers. I sent in to
them lots of raisins and almonds, which served as a love-token for
Sally and munching for her companions."
"You have, indeed, paid dear for your whistle, Meredith."
"Dear! you have not heard half yet. Sir knight of the shears
assailed me with a whining complaint of my 'paying attention,' as he
called it, to his sister Sally, and I could only get off by the gravest
assurances of my profound respect for the whole Dunn concern, followed
up by an order for a new vest, that being the article the youth would
least mar in the making, and here is his bill—two pounds two. This is
to be added to my ball expenses, fine, and all, as our learned
professor would say, traced to the primum mobile, must be charged to
pretty Sally Dunn. Oh woman! woman!—ever the cause of man's folly,
perplexity, misery, and destruction!"
"You are getting pathetic, Meredith."
"My dear friend, there is nothing affects a man's sensibilities
like an empty purse—unless it be anempty stomach. You have not heard
half my sorrows yet. Here is a bill, a yard long, from the
livery-stable, and here another from Monsieur Paté et Confiture!"
"And your term-bills?"
"Oh! my term-bills I have forwarded, with the dignity of a Sir
Charles Grandison, to my uncle. Now, Eliot," he continued, disbursing a
few half crowns and shillings on the table, and holding up his empty
purse, and throwing into his face an expression of mock misery, "Now,
Eliot, let us resolve ourselves into a committee of ways and means, and
tell me by what financial legerdemain I can get affixed to these
scrawls that happiest combination of words in the English
language—that honeyed phrase, 'received payment in full'—'oh, gentle
shepherd, tell me where?' "
"Where deficits should always find supplies, Meredith, in a
friend's purse. I have just settled the account of my pedagogue labours
for the last term, and as I have no extra bills to pay, I have extra
means quite at your service."
Meredith protested, and with truth, that nothing was farther from
his intentions than drawing on his friend; and when Eliot persisted and
counted out the amount which Meredith said would relieve his little
embarrassments, he felt, and magnanimously expressed his admiration of
those 'working-day world virtues' (so he called them), industry and
frugality, which secured to Eliot the tranquillityof independence, and
the power of liberality. It is possible that, at another time, and in
another humour, he might have led the laugh against the sort of barter
trade—the selling one kind or degree of knowledge to procure another,
by which a Yankee youth, who is willing to live like an anchorite or a
philosopher in the midst of untasted pleasures, works his passage
Subsequent instances occurred of similar but temporary obligations
on the part of Meredith. Temporary of course, for Meredith was too
thoroughly imbued with the sentiments of a gentleman to extend a
pecuniary obligation beyond the term of his necessity.
"Hear me profess sincerely—had I a dozen sons, each in my love
alike, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country, than one
voluptuously surfeit out of action."
The following extracts are from a letter from Bessie Lee to her
friend Isabella Linwood.
"You must love me, or you could not endure my stupid letters—you
that can write so delightfully about nothing, and have so much to write
about, while I can tell nothing but what I see, and I see so little!
The outward world does not much interest me. It is what I feel that I
think of and ponder over; but I know how you detest what you call
sentimental letters, so I try to avoid all such subjects. Compared with
you I am a child—two years at our age makes a great difference—I am
really very childish for a girl almost fourteen, and yet, and yet,
Isabella, I sometimes seem to myself to have gone so far beyond
childhood, that I have almost forgotten that careless, light-hearted
feeling I used to have. I do not think I ever was so light-hearted as
some children, and yet I was not serious—at least, not in the right
way. Many atime, before I was ten years old, I have sat up in my own
little room till twelve o'clock Saturday night, reading, and then slept
for an hour and a half through the whole sermon the next morning. I do
believe it is the natural depravity of my heart. I never read over
twice a piece of heathen poetry that moves me but I can repeat it—and
yet, I never could get past 'what is effectual calling?' in the
Westminster Catechism; and I always was in disgrace on Saturday, when
parson Wilson came to the school to hear us recite it:—oh dear, the
sight of his wig and three-cornered hat petrified me!"
"Jasper Meredith is here, passing the vacation with Eliot. I was
frightened to death when Eliot wrote us he was coming—we live in such
a homely way—only one servant, and I remember well how he used to
laugh at every thing he called à la bourgeoise. I felt this to be a
foolish, vulgar pride, and did my best to suppress it; and since I have
found there was no occasion for it, for Jasper seemed (I do not mean
seemed, I think he is much more sincere than he used to be) to miss
nothing, and to be delighted with being here. I do not think he
realizes that I am now three years older than I was in New-York, for he
treats me with that sort of partiality—devotion you might almost call
it—that he used to there, especially when you and he had had a falling
out. He has been giving me some lessons in Italian. He says I have a
wonderful talent for learning languages, but it is not so: you know
what hobbling work I made with the French when you and I went to poor
old Mademoiselle Amand—Jasper is quite a different teacher, and I
never fancied French. He has been teaching me to ride, too—we have a
nice little pony, and he has a beautiful horse—so that we have the
most delightful gallops over the country every day. It is very odd,
though I am such a desperate coward, I never feel the least timid when
I am riding with Jasper—indeed, I do not think of it. Eliot rarely
finds time to go with us—when he is at home from college he has so
much to do for mother—dear Eliot, he is husband, father, brother,
every thing to us."
"I had not time, while Jasper and Eliot stayed, to finish my
letter, and since they went away I have been so dull!—The house seems
like a tomb. I go from room to room, but the spirit is not here. Master
Hale, the schoolmaster, boards with us, and gives me lessons in some
branches that Eliot thinks me deficient in; but ah me! where are the
talents for acquisition that Jasper commended? Did you ever know, dear
Isabella, what it was to have every thing affected by the departure of
friends, as nature is by the absence of light—allfade into one dull
uniform hue. When Eliot and Jasper were here, all was bright and
interesting from the rising of the sun to the going down
"I am shocked to find how much I have written about myself. My best
respects to your father and mother, and love to Herbert. Burn this
worthless scrawl without fail, dear Isabella, and believe me ever most
"Yours, "Bessie Lee."
Jasper Meredith to Herbert Linwood.
"I have been enjoying a very pretty little episode in my college
life, passing the vacation at Westbrook, with your old friends the
Lees. A month in a dull little country town would once have seemed to
me penance enough for my worst sin, but now it is heaven to get
anywhere beyond the sound of college bells—beyond the reach of
automaton tutors—periodical recitations—chapel prayers, and college
"I went to the Lees with the pious intention of quizzing your
rustics to the top o' my bent; but Herbert, my dear fellow, I'll tell
you a secret; when people respect themselves, and value things
according to their real intrinsic worth, it gives a shock to our
artificial and worldly estimates, and makes us feel as if we stood upon
a wonderful uncertain foundation. These Lees are so strong in their
simplicity—they would so disdain aping and imitating those that we
(not they, be sure!) think above them —they are so sincere in all
their ways—no awkward consciousness—no shame-facedness whatever about
the homely details of their family affairs. By heavens, Herbert, I
could not find a folly—a meanness—or even a ludicrous rusticity at
which to aim my ridicule.
"I begin to think—no, no, no, I do not—but, if there were many
such families as these Lees in the world, an equality, independent of
all extraneous circumstances (such as the politicians of this country
are now ranting about), might subsist on the foundation of intellect
"After all, I see it is a mere illusion. Mrs. Lee's rank, though in
Westbrook she appears equal to any Roman matron, is purely local.
Hallowed as she is in your boyish memory, Herbert, you must confess she
would cut a sorry figure in a New- York drawing-room.
"Eliot might pass current anywhere; but then he has had the
advantage of Boston society, and an intimacy with—pardon my
coxcombry—your humble servant. Bessie—sweet Bessie Lee, is a gem fit
to be set in a coronet. Don't be alarmed, Herbert, you are welcome to
have the setting of her. There is metal, as you know, more attractive
to me. Bessie is not much grown since she was in New-York—she is still
low in stature, and sochildish in her person, that I was sometimes in
danger of treating her like a child—of forgetting that she had come
within the charmed circle of proprieties. But, if she has still the
freshness and immaturity of the unfolding rose-bud—the mystical charm
of woman—the divinity stirring within her beams through her exquisite
features. Such features! Phidias would have copied them in his immortal
marble. How in the world should such a creature, all sentiment,
refinement, imagination, spring up in practical, prosaic New-England!
She is a wanderer from some other star. I am writing like a lover, and
not as I should to a lover. But, on my honour, Herbert, I am no
lover—of little Bessie I mean. I should as soon think of being
enamoured of a rose, a lily, or a violet, an exquisite sonnet, or an
"It is an eternity since Isabella has written me a postscript—why
is this? Farewell, Linwood.
"Yours, "P.S.—One word on politics—a subject I detest, and meddle
with as little as possible. There must be an outbreak—there is no
avoiding it. But there can be no doubt which party will finally
prevail. The mother country has soldiers, money, every thing; ''tis
odds beyond arithmetic.' As one of my friends said at a dinner in
Boston the other day, 'the growling curs may bark for a while, but they
will be whipped into submission, and wear their collars patiently for
ever after.' I trust, Herbert bert, you are already cured of what my
uncle used to call the 'boy-fever'—but if not, take my advice—be
quiet, prudent, neutral. As long as we are called boys, we are not
expected to be patriots, apostles, or martyrs. At this crisis your
filial and fraternal duties require that you should suppress, if not
renounce, the opinions you used to be so fond of blurting out on all
occasions. I am no preacher —I have done—a word to the wise. "M—."
We resume the extracts from Bessie's letters.
—Never say another word to me of what you hinted in your last
letter: indeed, I am too young; and besides, I never should feel easy
or happy again with Jasper, if I admitted such a thought. I have had
but one opinion since our visit to Effie; not that I believed in
her—at least, not much; but I have always known who was first in his
thoughts—heart—opinion; and besides, it would be folly in me, knowing
his opinions about rank, Mother thinks him very proud, and somewhat
vain; and she begins not to be pleased with his frequent visits to
Westbrook. She thinks—no, fears, or rather she imagines, that Jasper
and I—no, that Jasper or I—no, that I— it is quite too foolish to
write, Isabella—mother does not realize what a wide world there is
between us. I might possibly, sometimes, think he loved(this last word
was carefully effaced, and cared substituted) cared for me, if he did
not know you.
"How could Jasper tell you of Eliot's prejudice against you? Jasper
himself infused it, unwittingly, I am sure, by telling him that when
with you, I lived but to do 'your best pleasure,— were it to fly, to
swim, or dive into the fire.' Eliot fancies that you are proud and
overbearing —I insist, dear Isabella, that such as you are born to
rule such weak spirits as mine; but Eliot says he does not like
absolutism in any form, and especially in woman's. Ah, how differently
he would feel if he were to see you—I am sure you would like him—I am
not sure, even, that you would not have preferred him to Jasper, had he
been born and bred in Jasper's circumstances. He has more of some
qualities that you particularly like, frankness and independence—and
mother says (but then mother is not at all partial to Jasper) he has a
thousand times more real sensibility—he does, perhaps, feel more for
others. I should like to know which you would think the handsomest.
Eliot is at least three inches the tallest; and, as Jasper once said,
'cast in the heroic mould, with just enough, and not an ounce too much
of mortality'—but then Jasper has such grace and symmetry—just what I
fancy to be the beau-ideal of the arts. Jasper's eyes are almost too
black—too piercing; and yet they are softened by his long lashes, and
his olive complexion, so expressive— like that fine old portrait in
your drawing-room. His mouth, too, is beautiful—it has such a defined,
chiselled look—but then do you not think that his teeth being so
delicately formed, and so very, very white, is rather a defect? I don't
know how to describe it, but there is rather an uncertain expression
about his mouth. Eliot's, particularly when he smiles, is truth and
kindness itself—and his deep, deep blue eye, expresses every thing by
turns—I mean every thing that should come from a pure and lofty
spirit—now tender and pitiful enough for me, and now superb and fiery
enough for you—but what a silly, girlish letter I am writing—'Out of
the abundance of the heart,' you know! I see nobody but Jasper and
Eliot, and I think only of them."
We continue the extracts from Bessie's letters. They were strictly
feminine, even to their being dateless—we cannot, therefore, ascertain
the precise period at which they were written, except by their
occasional allusions to contemporaneous events.
"Thanks, dear Isabella, for your delightful letter by Jasper—no
longer Jasper, I assure you to his face, but Mr. Meredith—oh, I often
wish the time back when I was a child, and might call him Jasper, and
feel the freedom of a child. I wonder if I should dare to call you
Belle now, or even Isabella? Jasper, since his last visit at home,
tells me so much of your being 'the mirror of fashion— the observed of
all observers' (these are his ownwords—drawing-room terms that were
never heard in Westbrook but from his lips), that I feel a sort of
fearful shrinking. It is not envy—I am too happy now to envy anybody
in the wide world. Eliot is at home, and Jasper is passing a week here.
Is it not strange they should be so intimate, when they differ so
widely on political topics? I suppose it is because Jasper does not
care much about the matter; but this indifference sometimes provokes
Eliot. Jasper is very intimate with Pitcairn and Lord Percy; and Eliot
thinks they have more influence with him than the honour and interest
of his country. Oh, they talk it over for hours and hours, and end, as
men always do with their arguments, just where they began. Jasper
insists that as long as the quarrel can be made up it is much wisest to
stand aloof, and not, 'like mad boys, to rush foremost into the first
fray;' besides, he says he is tied by a promise to his uncle that he
will have nothing to do with these agitating disputes till his
education is finished. Mother says (she does not always judge Jasper
kindly) that it is very easy and prudent to bind your hands with a
promise when you do not choose to lift them.
"Ah, there is a terrible storm gathering! Those who have grown up
together, lovingly interlacing their tender branches, must be torn
asunder—some swept away by the current, others dispersed by the
—The world seems turned upside down since I began this letter—war
(war, what an appalling sound) has begun—blood has been spilt, and our
dear, dear Eliot—but I must tell you first how it all was. Eliot and
Jasper were out shooting some miles from Cambridge, when, on coming to
the road, they perceived an unusual commotion—old men and young, and
even boys, all armed, in wagons, on horseback, and on foot, were coming
from all points, and all hurrying onward in one direction. On inquiring
into the hurly-burly, they were told that Colonel Smith had marched to
Concord to destroy the military stores there; and that our people were
gathering from all quarters to oppose his return. Eliot immediately
joined them, Jasper did not; but, dear Isabella, I that know you so
well, know, whatever others may think, that tories may be true and
noble. There was a fight at Lexington. Our brave men had the best of
it. Eliot was the first to bring us the news. With a severe wound in
his arm, he came ten miles that we need not be alarmed by any reports,
knowing, as he told mother, that she was no Spartan mother, to be
indifferent whether her son came home with his shield or on his shield.
"Jasper has not been to Westbrook since the battle. My mind has
been in such a state of alarm since, I cannot return to my ordinary
pursuits. I was reading history with the children, and the English
poets with mother, but I am quite broken up.
"I do not think this horrid war should separate those who have been
friends; thank God, my dear Isabella, we of womankind are exempts—not
called upon to take sides—our mission is to heal wounds, not to make
them; to keep alive and tend with vestal fidelity the fires of charity
and love. My kindest remembrance to Herbert. I hope he has renounced
his whiggism; for if it must come to that, he had better fight on the
wrong side (ignorantly) than break the third commandment. Write soon,
dear Isabella, and let me know if this hurly-burly extends to
New-York—dear, quiet New-York! In war and in peace, in all the chances
and changes of this mortal life, your own
Miss Linwood to Bessie Lee.
"Exempts! my little spirit of peace—your vocation it may be, my
pretty dove, to sit on your perch with an olive-branch in your bill,
but not mine. Oh for the glorious days of the Clorindas, when a woman
might put down her womanish thoughts, and with helmet and lance in rest
do battle with the bravest! Why was the loyal spirit of my race my
exclusive patrimony? Can his blood, who at his own cost raised a troop
of horse for our martyr king, flow in Herbert's veins? or his who
followed the fortunes of the unhappy James? Is my father's son a
renegado—a rebel? Yes, Bessie—my blood burns in my cheeks while I
write it. Herbert, the only male scion of the Linwoods—my brother—our
pride—our hope has declared himself of the rebel party—'Ichabod,
Ichabod, the glory is departed, is written on our door-posts.'
"But to come down from my heroics; we are in a desperate
condition—such a scene as I have just passed through! Judge Ellis was
dining with us, Jasper Meredith was spoken of. 'In the name of Heaven,
Ellis,' said my father, 'why do you suffer your nephew to remain among
the rebel crew in that infected region?'
"'I do not find,' replied the judge, glancing at Herbert, 'that any
region is free from infection.'
"'True, true,' said my father; 'but the air of the Yankee states is
saturated with it. I would not let an infant breathe it, lest rebellion
should break out when he came to man's estate.' I am sorry to say it,
dear Bessie; but my father traces Herbert's delinquency to his sojourn
at Westbrook. I saw a tempest was brewing, and thinking to make for a
quiet harbour, I put in my oar, and repeated the story you told me in
your last letter of our noncombatant, Mr. Jasper. The judge was
charmed. 'Ah, he's a prudent fellow!' he said; 'he'll not commit
"'Not commit himself!' exclaimed my father; 'by Jupiter, if he
belonged to me, he should commit himself. I would rather he should jump
the wrong way than sit squat like a toad under a hedge,till he was sure
which side it was most prudent to jump.' You see, Bessie, my father's
words implied something like a commendation of Herbert. I ventured to
look up—their eyes met—I saw a beam of pleasure flashing from them,
and passing like an electric spark from one heart to another. Oh, why
should this unholy quarrel tear asunder such true hearts!
"The judge's pride was touched—he is a mean wretch. 'Ah, my dear
sir,' he said, 'it is very well for you, who can do it with impunity,
to disregard prudential considerations; for instance, you remain true
to the king, the royal power is maintained, and your property is
protected. Your son —I suppose a case—your son joins the rebels, the
country is revolutionized, and your property is secured as the reward
of Mr. Herbert's patriotism.'
"My father hardly heard him out. 'Now, by the Lord that made me!'
he exclaimed, setting down the decanter with a force that broke it in a
thousand pieces, 'I would die of starvation before I would taste a
crumb of bread that was the reward of rebellion.'
"It was a frightful moment; but my father's passion, you know, is
like a whirlwind; one gust, and it is over; and mamma is like those
short-stemmed flowers that lie on the earth; no wind moves her. So,
though the judge was almost as much disconcerted as the decanter, it
seemed all to have blown over, while mamma, as in case of any
ordinaryaccident, was directing Jupe to remove the fragments, change
the cloth, etc. But alas! the evil genius of our house triumphed; for
even a bottle of our oldest Madeira, which is usually to my father like
oil to the waves, failed to preserve tranquillity. The glasses were
filled, and my father, according to his usual custom, gave 'the
king—God bless him.'
"Now you must know, though he would not confess he made any
sacrifice to prudence, he has for some weeks omitted to drink wine at
all, on some pretext or other, such as he had a headache, or he had
dined out the day before, or expected to the day after; and thus
Herbert has escaped the test. But now the toast was given, and
Herbert's glass remained untouched, while he sat, not biting, but
literally devouring his nails. I saw the judge cast a sinister look at
him, and then a glance at my father. The storm was gathering on my
father's brow. 'Herbert, my son,' said mamma, 'you will be too late for
you appointment.' Herbert moved his chair to rise, when my father
called out, 'Stop, sir—no slinking away under your mother's
shield—hear me— no man who refuses to drink that toast at my table
shall eat of my bread or drink of my wine.'
"'Then God forgive me—for I never will drink it—so help me
"Herbert left the room by one door—my father by another—mamma
stayed calmly talking tothat fixture of a judge, and I ran to my room,
where, as soon as I had got through with a comfortable fit of crying, I
sat down to write you (who are on the enemy's side) an account of the
matter. What will come of it, Heaven only knows!
"But, my dear little gentle Bessie, I never think of you as having
any thing to do with these turbulent matters; you are in the midst of
fiery rebel spirits, but you are too pure, too good to enter into their
counsels, and far too just for any self-originating prejudices, such as
this horrible one that pervades the country, and fires New-England
against the legitimate rights of the mother country over her wayward,
ungrateful child. Don't trouble your head about these squabbles, but
cling to Master Hale, your poetry, and history: by-the-way, I laughed
heartily that you, who have done duty— reading so virtuously all your
life, should now come to the conclusion 'that history is dry.' I met
with a note in Herodotus, the most picturesque of historians, the other
day that charmed me. The writer of the note says there is no mention
whatever of Cyrus in the Persian history. If history then is mere
fiction, why may we not read romances of our own choosing? My instincts
have not misguided me, after all.
"So, Miss Bessie, Jasper Meredith is in high favour with you, and
the friend of your nonpareil brother. Jasper could always be
irresistible when he chose, and he seems to have been 'i' the vein' at
Westbrook. With all our impressions (are they prejudices, Bessie?)
against your Yankee land, we thought him excessively improved by his
residence among you. Indeed, I think if he were never to get another
letter from his worldly icicle mother, to live away from his
time-serving uncle, and never receive another importation of London
coxcombries, he would be what nature intended him—a paragon.
"I love your sisterly enthusiasm. As to my estimation of your
brother being affected by the accidents of birth and fortune, indeed,
you were not true to your friend when you intimated that. Certainly,
the views you tell me he takes of my character are not particularly
flattering, or even conciliating. However, I have my revenge—you paint
him en beau—the portrait is too beautiful to be very like any man born
and reared within the disenchanted limits of New-England. I am writing
boldly, but no offence, dear Bessie; I do not know your brother, and I
have—yes, out with it, with the exception of your precious little self
—I have an antipathy to the New-Englanders—a disloyal race, and
conceited, fancying themselves more knowing in all matters, high and
low, especially government and religion, than the rest of the
world—'all-sufficient, self-sufficient, and insufficient.'
"Pardon me, gentle Bessie—I am just now at fever heat, and I could
not like Gabriel if he werewhig and rebel. Ah, Herbert!—but I loved
him before I ever heard these detestable words; and once truly loving,
especially if our hearts be knit together by nature, I think the faults
of the subject do not diminish our affection, though they turn it from
its natural sweet uses to suffering."
—A week—a stormy, miserable week has passed since I wrote the
above, and it has ended in Herbert's leaving us, and dishonouring his
father's name by taking a commission in the rebel service. Papa has of
course had a horrible fit of the gout. He says he has for ever cast
Herbert out of his affections. Ah! I am not skilled in metaphysics, but
I know that we have no power whatever over our affections. Mamma takes
it all patiently, and chiefly sorroweth for that Herbert has lost caste
by joining the insurgents, whom she thinks little better than so many
"For myself, I would have poured out my blood —every drop of it,
to have kept him true to his king and country; but in my secret heart I
glory in him that he has honestly and boldly clung to his opinions, to
his own certain and infinite loss. I have no heart to write more.
"Yours truly, "Isabella Linwood. "P.S.—You may show the last
paragraph (confidentially) to Jasper; but don't let him know that I
wished him to see it. I. L."
"An' forward, though I canna see,
I guess an' fear."
Three years passed over without any marked change in the external
condition of our young friends. Herbert Linwood endured the hardships
of an American officer during that most suffering period of the war,
and remained true to the cause he had adopted, without any of those
opportunities of distinction which are necessary to keep alive the fire
of ordinary patriotism.
It has been seen that Eliot Lee, with most of the young men of the
country (as might be expected from the insurgent and generous spirit of
youth), espoused the popular side. It ought not to have been expected,
that when the young country came to the muscle and vigour of manhood,
it should continue to wear the leading-strings of its childhood, or
remain in the bondage and apprenticeship of its youth. It has been
justly said, that the seeds of our revolution and future independence
were sown by the Pilgrims. The political institutions of a people may
be inferred from their religion. Absolutism, as a mirror, reflects the
Roman Catholic faith. Whatever varieties of names were attachedto the
religious sects of America, they were, with the exception of a few
Pepists, all Protestants— all, as Burke said of them, "agreed (if
agreeing in nothing else) in the communion of the spirit of
liberty—theirs was the Protestantism of the Protestant religion—the
dissidence of dissent." It was morally certain, that as soon as they
came to man's estate, their government would accord with this spirit of
liberty; would harmonize with the independent and republican spirit of
the religion of Christ, the only authority they admitted. The fires of
our republic were not then kindled by a coal from the old altars of
Greece and Rome, whose freest government exalted the few, and retained
the many in grovelling ignorance and servitude: ours came forth
invincible in the declaration of liberty to all, and equality of
Such minds as Eliot Lee's, reasoning and religious, were not so
much moved by the sudden impulses of enthusiasm as incited by the
convictions of duty. His heart was devoted to his country, his thoughts
absorbed in her struggle; but he quenched, or rather smothered his
intense desire to go forth with her champions, and remained pursuing
his legal studies, near enough to his home to perform his paramount but
obscure duty to his widowed mother and her young family.
Jasper Meredith's political preferences, if not proclaimed, were
easily guessed. It was obvious that his tastes were aristocratic and
feudal—hissympathies with the monarch, not with the people. New-York
was the headquarters of the British army, and Judge Ellis, his uncle,
on the pretext of keeping his nephew out of the way of the seductions
of a very gay society, advised him to pursue the study of the law in
New-England, and thus for a while he avoided pledging himself. He
resided in Boston or its vicinity, never far from Westbrook. He had a
certain eclat in the drawing-rooms of Boston, but he was no favourite
there. A professed neutrality was, if not suspicious, most offensive in
the eyes of neck-or-nothing patriots. But Meredith did not escape the
whisper that his neutrality was a mere mask. His accent, which was
ambitiously English, was criticised, and his elaborate dress,
manufactured by London artists, was particularly displeasing to the
sons of the Puritans, who, absorbed in great objects, were then more
impatient even than usual of extra sacrifices to the graces.
The transition from Boston to Westbrook was delightful to Meredith.
There was no censure of any sort, but balm for the rankling wounds of
vanity; and it must be confessed that he not only appeared better, but
was better at Westbrook than elsewhere: the best parts of his nature
were called forth; he was (if we may desecrate a technical expression)
in the exercise of grace. There is a certain moral atmosphere, as
propitious to moral wellbeing as a genial temperature is to health.
Vanity has a sort of thermometer, which enables the possessor
tograduate and adapt himself to the dispositions, the vanities (is
there any gold in nature without this alloy?) of others. Meredith, when
he wished to be so, was eminently agreeable. Those always stand in a
most fortunate light who vary the monotony of a village existence, and
he broke like a sunbeam through the dull atmosphere that hung over
West-brook. He brought the freshest news, he studied good Mrs. Lee's
partialities and prejudices, and (without her being aware of their
existence) accommodated himself to them. He supplied to Eliot what all
social beings hanker after, companionship with one of his own age,
pursuits, and associations. The magnet that drew him to West-brook was
never the acknowledged attraction. Meredith was not in love with Bessie
Lee. She was too spiritual a creature for one of earth's mould; but his
self-love, his ruling passion, was flattered by her. He saw and enjoyed
(what, alas! no one else then saw) his power over her. He saw it in the
mutations of her cheek, in the kindling of her eye, in the changes of
her voice. It was as if an angel had left his sphere to incense him.
Meredith must be acquitted of a deliberate attempt to insnare her
affections. He thought not and cared not for the future. He cared only
for a present selfish gratification. A ride at twilight or a walk by
moonlight with this creature, all beauty, refinement, and tenderness,
was a poetic passage to him —to her it was fraught with life or death.
Poor Bessie! she should have been hardened for the changing climate
of this rough world; but by a fatal, but very common error, she had
been cherished like a tropical bird, or an exotic plant. "She has such
delicate health! she is so different from my other children!" said the
mother.—"She is so gentle and sensitive," said the brother. And thus,
with all their sound judgment, instead of submitting her to a hardening
process, it seemed an instinct with them, by every elaborate
contrivance, to fence her from the ordinary trials and evils of life.
Only when she was happy did they let her alone; with Meredith she
seemed happy, and they were satisfied. Bessie shared this unfounded
tranquillity, arising with them partly from confidence in Meredith, and
partly from the belief that she was in no danger of suffering from an
unrequited love; but Bessie's arose from the most childlike ignorance
of that study puzzling to the wisest and craftiest—the human heart.
She was the most modest and unexacting of human creatures—her gentle
spirit urged no rights—asked nothing, expected nothing beyond the
present moment. The worshipper was satisfied with the presence of the
idol. Her residence in New-York had impressed a conviction that a
disparity of birth and condition was an impassable gulf. It was natural
enough that she should have imbibed this opinion; for, being a child,
the aristocratic opinions of the society she was in were expressed,
unmitigated bycourtesy; they sunk deep in her susceptible mind, a mind
too humble to aspire above any barrier that nature or society had set
There was another foundation of her fancied security. This was
shaken by the following conversation:—Meredith was looking over an old
pocketbook, when a card dropped from it on the floor at Bessie's feet:
she handed it to him—he smiled as he looked at it, and held it up
before her. She glanced her eye over it, and saw it was a note of the
date of their visit to the soothsayer Effie, and of Effie's prediction
in relation to the "dark curling hair."
"I had totally forgotten this," said he, carelessly.
"Forgotten it!" echoed Bessie, in a tone that indicated but too
truly her feelings.
"Certainly I had—and why not, pray?"
"Oh, because—" she hesitated.
"Because what, Bessie?"
Bessie was ashamed of her embarrassment, and faltering the more the
more she tried to shake it off, she said, "I did not suppose you could
forget any thing that concerned Isabella."
"Upon my honour, you are very much mistaken; I have scarcely
thought of Effie and her trumpery prediction since we were there."
"Why have you preserved the card, then, Jasper?" asked Bessie, in
Jasper's complexion was not of the blushing order, or he would have
blushed as he replied, at the same time replacing the card—"Oh, Lord,
I don't know! accident—the card got in here among these old memoranda
and receipts, 'trivial fond records' all!"
"There preserve it," said Bessie, "and we will look at it one of
"When—as it surely will be, the prediction is verified."
"If not till then," he said, "it will never again see the
light—this is the oddest fancy of yours," he added.
"Not fancy, but faith."
"Faith most unfounded—why, Bessie, Isabella and I were always
"And always making up. Do you ever quarrel now, Jasper?"
"Oh, she is still of an April temper; but I"—he looked most
tenderly at Bessie—"have lived too much of late in a serene atmosphere
to bear well her fitful changes."
A long time had passed since Bessie had mentioned Isabella to
Meredith. She knew not why, but she had felt a growing reluctance to
advert to her friend even in thought; and she was now conscious of a
thrilling sensation at the careless, cold manner in which Jasper spoke
of her. It seemed as if a load had fallen off her heart. She felt like
a mariner who has at length caught a glimpse of what seems distant
land, and is bewilderedwith new sensations, and uncertain whether it be
land or not. She was conscious Jasper's eye was on hers, though her own
was downcast. She longed to escape from that burning glance, and was
relieved by a bustle in the next room, and her two little sisters
running in, one holding up a long curling tress of her own beautiful
hair, and crying out—"Did not you give this to me, Bessie?"
"Is not it mine?" said the competitor.
"No, it is mine!" exclaimed Jasper, snatching it, and holding it
beyond their reach.
The girls laughed, and were endeavouring to regain it, when he
slipped a ring from his finger, and set it rolling on the floor,
saying, "The hair is mine—the ring belongs to whoever gets it." The
ring, obedient to the impulse he gave it, rolled out of the room; the
children eagerly followed, he shut the door after them, and repeated,
kissing the lock of hair—"It is mine—is it not?"
"Oh, no—no, Jasper—give it to me," cried Bessie, excessively
"You will not give it to me!—well—'a fair exchange is no
robbery,' " and taking the scissors from Bessie's workbox, he cut off
one of his own luxuriant dark locks, and offered it to her. She shook
"That is unkind—most unfriendly, Bessie"— he paused a moment, and
then, still holding both locks, he extended the ends to Bessie, and
asked her if she could tie a true love-knot. Bessie's heart was
throbbing; she was frightened at her own emotion; she was afraid of
betraying it; and she tied the knot as the natural thing for her to do.
"There is but one altar for such a sacrifice as this," said
Meredith, and he was putting it into his bosom, when Bessie snatched it
from him, burst into tears, and left the room.
After this, there was a change in Bessie's manners—her spirits
became unequal, she was nervous and restless—Meredith, in the presence
of observers, was measured and cautious to the last degree in his
attentions to her—when however they were alone together, though not a
sentence might be uttered that a lawyer could have tortured into a
special plea, yet his words were fraught with looks and tones that
carried them to poor Bessie's heart with a power that cannot be
imagined by those
"Who have ceased to hear such, or ne'er heard."
It was about this period that Meredith wrote the following reply to
a letter from his mother.
"You say, my dear madam, that you have heard 'certain reports about
me, which you are not willing to believe, and yet cannot utterly
discredit.' You say, also, 'that though you should revolt with horror
from sanctioning your son in those liaisons that are advised by Lord
Chesterfield, and others of your friends, yet you see no harm in'
loverlike attentions 'to young persons in inferior stations; they
serve' you add, 'to keep alive and cultivate that delicate finesse so
essential to the success of a man of the world, and, provided they have
no immoral purpose, are quite innocent,' as the object of them must
know there is an 'impassable gulf between her and her superiors in
rank, and is therefore responsible for her mistakes.' I have been thus
particular in echoing your words, that I may assure you my conduct is
in conformity to their letter and spirit. Tranquillize yourself, my
dear madam. There is nothing, in any little fooleries I may be
indulging in, to disquiet you for a moment. The person in question is a
divine little creature—quite a prodigy for this part of the world,
where she lives in a seclusion almost equal to that of Prospero's isle;
so that your humble servant, being scarce more than the 'third man that
e'er she saw,' it would not be to marvel at 'if he should be the first
that e'er she loved'—and if I am, it is my destiny—my conscience is
quite easy— I never have committed myself, nor ever shall: time and
absence will soon dissipate her illusions. She is an unaspiring little
person, quite aware of the gulf, as you call it, between us. She
believes that even if I were lover and hero enough to play the Leander
and swim it, my destiny is fixed on the other side. I have no distrust
of myself, and I beg you will have none; I am saved from all
responsibility as to involving the happiness of this lily of the
valley, by her very clear-sighted mother, and her sage of a brother,
her natural guardians.
"It is yet problematical whether, as you suppose, a certain lady's
fortune will be made by the apostacy of her disinherited brother. If
the rebels win the day, the property of the tories will be confiscated,
or transferred to the rebel heir. But all that is in futuro—fortune is
a fickle goddess; we can only be sure of her present favours and
deserve the future by our devotion.
"With profound gratitude and affection, "Yours, my dear mother, "J.
Meredith. "P. S.—My warmest thanks for the inestimable box, which
escaped the sea and land harpies, and came safe to hand. The Artois
buckle is a chef d'œuvre, worthy the inventive genius of the royal
count whose taste rules the civilized world. The scarlet frock-coat,
with its unimitated, if not inimitable, capes, 'does credit (as friend
Rivington would say in one of his flashy advertisements) to the most
elegant operator of Leicester-fields.' I must reserve it till I go to
New-York, where they always take the lead in this sort of
civilization—the boys would mob me if I wore it in Boston. The
umbrella, a rare invention! is a curiosity here. I understand they have
been introduced into New-York by the British officers. Novelty as it
is, I venture to spread it here, as its utility commends it to these
rationalists, who reason about an article of dress as they would
concerning an article of faith. "Once more, your devoted son, M."
Meredith's conscience was easy! "He had not committed
himself!"—Ah, let man beware how he wilfully or carelessly perverts
and blinds God's vicegerent, conscience.
Meredith was suddenly recalled to New-York, and Bessie Lee was left
to ponder on the past, and weave the future of shattered faith and
blighted hopes. The scales fell too late from the eyes of her mother
and brother. They reproached themselves, but never poor Bessie. They
hoped that time, operating on her gentle, unresisting temper, would
restore her serenity. She, like a stricken deer, took refuge under the
shadow of their love, she was too affectionate, too generous, to resign
herself to wretchedness without an effort. She wasted her strength in
concealing the wound that rankled at her heart.
"I, considering how honour would become such a person, was pleased
to let him seek danger, where he was like to find fame."
Another sorrow soon overtook poor Bessie; but now she had a right
to feel, and might express all she felt, and look full in the face of
her friends for sympathy, for they shared the burden with her.
In the year 1778, letters were sent by General Washington to the
governors of the several states, earnestly entreating them to
re-enforce the army. The urgency of this call was acknowledged by every
patriotic individual; and never did heart more joyously leap than Eliot
Lee's, when his mother said to him—"My son, I have long had misgivings
about keeping you at home; but last night, after reading the general's
letter, I could not sleep; I felt for him, for the country; my
conscience told me you ought to go, Eliot; even the images of the
children, for whose sake only I have thought it right you should stay
with us, rose up against me: we should pay our portion for the
privileges they are to enjoy. I have made up my mind to it, and on my
knees I have given you to my country. The widow's son," she continued,
clearing hervoice, "is something more than the widow's mite, Eliot; but
I have given you up, and now I have done with feelings—nothing is to
be said or thought of but how we shall soonest and best get you ready."
Eliot was deeply affected by his mother's decision, voluntary and
unasked; but he did not express his satisfaction, his delight, till he
ascertained that she had well considered the amount of the sacrifice
and was willing to meet it. Then he confessed that nothing but a
controlling sense of his filial duty had enabled him to endure
loitering at the fireside, when his country needed the aid he withheld.
The decision made, no time was lost. Letters were obtained from the
best sources to General Washington, and in less than a week Eliot was
ready for his departure.
It was a transparent morning, late in autumn, in bleak, wild,
fitful, poetic November. The vault of heaven was spotless; a purple
light danced over the mountain summits; the mist was condensed in the
hollows of the hills, and wound them round like drapery of silver
tissue. The smokes from the village chimneys ascended through the clear
atmosphere in straight columns; the trees on the mountains, banded
together, still preserved a portion of their summer wealth, though now
faded to dun and dull orange, marked and set off by the surrounding
evergreens. Here and there a solitary elm stood bravely up against the
sky, every limb, every stem defined; a naked form, showing the
beautiful symmetry that had made its summer garments hang so
gracefully. Fruits and flowers, even the hardy ones that venture on the
frontiers of winter, had disappeared from the gardens; the seeds had
dropped from their cups; the grass of the turf-borders was dank and
matted down; all nature was stamped with the signet seal of autumn,
memory and hope. Eliot had performed the last provident offices for his
mother; every thing about her cheerful dwelling had the look of being
kindly cared for. The strawberry-beds were covered, the raspberries
neatly trimmed out, the earth well spaded and freshly turned; no gate
was off its hinges, no fence down, no window unglazed, no crack
A fine black saddle-horse, well equipped, was at the door. Little
Fanny Lee stood by him, patting him, and laying her head, with its
shining flaxen locks, to his side—"Rover," she said, with a trembling
voice, "be a good Rover—won't you? and when the naughty regulars come,
canter off with Eliot as fast as you can."
"Hey! that's fine!" retorted her brother, a year younger than
herself. "No, no, Rover, canter up to them, and over them, and never
dare to canter back here if you turn tail on them, Rover."
"Oh, Sam! how awful; would you have Eliot killed?"
"No, indeed, but I had rather he'd come deused near it than to have
him a coward."
"Don't talk so loud, Sam—Bessie will hear you."
But the young belligerant was not to be silenced. He threw open the
"dwelling-room" door, to appeal to Eliot himself. The half-uttered
sentence died away on his lips. He entered the apartment, Fanny
followed; they gently closed the door, drew their footstools to Eliot's
feet, and quietly sat down there. How instinctive is the sympathy of
children! how plain, and yet how delicate its manifestations!
Bessie was sitting beside her brother, her head on his shoulder,
and crying as if her heart went out with every sob. The youngest boy,
Hal, sat on Eliot's knee, with one arm around his neck, his cheek lying
on Bessie's, dropping tear after tear, sighing, and half-wondering why
it was so.
The good mother had arrived at that age when grief rather congeals
the spirit than melts it. Her lips were compressed, her eyes tearless,
and her movements tremulous. She was busying herself in the last
offices, doing up parcels, taking last stitches, and performing those
services that seem to have been assigned to women as safety-valves for
their ever effervescing feelings.
A neat table was spread with ham, bread, sweetmeats, cakes, and
every delicacy the house afforded —all were untasted. Not a word was
heard exceptsuch broken sentences as "Come, Bessie, I will promise to
be good if you will to be happy!"
"Eliot, how easy for you—how impossible for me!"
"Dear Bessie, do be firmer, for mother's sake. For ever! oh no, my
dear sister, it will not be very long before I return to you; and while
I am gone, you must be every thing to mother."
"I! I never was good for any thing, Eliot—and now—"
"Bessie, my dear child, hush—you have been —you always will be a
blessing to me. Don't put any anxious thoughts into Eliot's mind—we
shall do very well without him."
"Noble, disinterested mother!" trembled on Eliot's lips; but he
suppressed words that might imply reproach to Bessie.
The sacred scene was now broken in upon by some well-meaning but
untimely visiters. Eliot's approaching departure had created a
sensation in Westbrook; the good people of that rustic place not having
arrived at the refined stage in the progress of society, when emotion
and fellow-feeling are not expressed, or expressed only by certain
conventional forms. First entered Master Hale, with Miss Sally Ryal.
Master Hale "hoped it was no intrusion;" and Miss Sally answered, "by
no means; she had come to lend a helping hand, and not to intrude"
—whereupon she bustled about, helped herself and her companion to
chairs, and unsettled everybody else in the room. Mrs. Lee assumed a
more tranquilmien; poor Bessie suppressed her sobs, and withdrew to a
window, and Eliot tried to look composed and manly. The children, like
springs relieved from a pressure, reverted to their natural state,
dashed off their tears, and began whispering among themselves. Miss
Sally produced from her workbag a comforter for Mr. Eliot, of her own
knitting, which she "trusted would keep out the cold and rheumatism:"
and she was kindly showing him how to adjust it, when she spied a chain
of braided hair around his neck—"Ah, ha, Mr. Eliot, a love-token!" she
"Yes, it is," said little Fanny, who was watching her proceedings;
"Bessie and I cut locks of hair from all the children's heads and
mother's, and braided it for him; and I guess it will warm his bosom
more than your comforter will, Miss Sally."
It was evident, from the look of ineffable tenderness Eliot turned
on Fanny, that he "guessed" so too; but he nevertheless received the
comforter graciously, hinting, that a lady who had been able to protect
her own bosom from the most subtle enemy, must know how to defend
another's from common assaults. Miss Sally hemmed, looked at Master
Hale, muttered something of her not always having been invulnerable;
and finally succeeded in recalling to Eliot's recollection a tradition
of a love-passage between Miss Sally and the pedagogue.
A little girl now came trotting in, with "grandmother'slove, and a
vial of her mixture for Mr. Eliot—good against camp-distemper and the
Eliot received the mixture as if he had all grandmother's faith in
it, slipped a bright shilling into the child's hand for a keepsake,
kissed her rosy cheek, and set her down with the children.
Visiters now began to throng. One man in a green old age, who had
lost a leg at Bunker's Hill, came hobbling in, and clapping Eliot on
the shoulder, said, "this is you, my boy! This is what I wanted to see
your father's son a-doing: I'd go too, if the rascals had left me both
my legs. Cheer up, widow, and thank the Lord you've got such a son to
offer up to your country—the richer the gift, the better the giver,
you know; but I don't wonder you feel kind o' qualmish at the thoughts
of losing the lad. Come, Master Hale, can't you say something? A little
bit of Greek, or Latin, or 'most any thing, to keep up their sperits at
the last gasp, as it were."
"I was just going to observe, Major Avery, to Mrs. Lee, respecting
our esteemed young friend, Mr. Eliot, that I, who have known him from
the beginning, as it were, having taught him his alphabet, which may be
said to be the first round of the ladder of learning (which he has
mounted by my help), or rather (if you will allow me, ma'am, to mend my
figure) the poles that support all the rounds; having had, as I
observed, a primordial acquaintance with him, I can testify that he is
worthyevery honourable adjective in the language, and we have every
reason to hope that his future tense will be as perfect as his past."
"Wheugh!" exclaimed the major, "a pretty long march you have had
through that speech!"
The good schoolmaster, quite unruffled, proceeded to offer Eliot a
time-worn Virgil; and finished by expressing his hopes that "he would
imitate Cæsar in maintaining his studies in the camp, and keep the
scholar even-handed with the soldier."
Eliot charmed the old pedagogue, by assuring him that he should be
more apt at imitating Cæsar's studies than his soldiership, and himself
bestowed Virgil in his portmanteau.
A good lady now stepped forth, and seeming somewhat scandalized
that, as she said, "no serious truth had been spoken at this peculiar
season," she concluded a technical exhortation by giving Eliot a pair
of stockings, into which she had wrought St. Paul's description of the
gospel armour. "The Scripture," she feared, "did not often find its way
to the camp; and she thought a passage might be blessed, as a single
kernel of wheat, even sowed among tares, sometimes produced its like."
Eliot thanked her, said "it was impossible to have too much of the
best thing in the world; but he hoped she would have less solicitude
about him,when he assured her that his mother had found place for a
pocket Bible in his portmanteau."
A meek-looking creature now stole up to Mrs. Lee, and putting a
roll of closely-compressed lint. into her hand, said, "tuck it in with
his things, Miss Lee. Don't let it scare you—I trust he will dress
other people's wounds, not his own, with it.—My! that will come
natural to him. It's made from the shirt Mr. Eliot stripped from
himself, and tore into bandages for my poor Sam, that time he was
scalt. Mr. Eliot was a boy then, but he has the same heart now."
Mrs. Lee dropped a tear on the lint, as she stowed it away in the
"There comes crazy Anny!" exclaimed the children; and a woman
appeared at the door, scarcely past middle age, carrying in her hand a
pole, on which she had tied thirteen strips of cloth of every colour,
and stuck them over with white paper stars. Her face was pale and
weatherworn, and her eye sunken, but brilliant with the wild flashing
light that marks insanity. The moment her eye fell on Eliot, her
imagination was excited —"Glory to the Lord!" she cried—"glory to the
Lord! A leader hath come forth from among my people! Go on, Eliot Lee,
and we will gird thee about with the prayers of the widow and the
blessings of the childless! This is comfort! But you could not comfort
me, Eliot Lee, though you spoke like an angel that time you was sent to
mewith the news the boys was shot. I remember you shed tears, and it
seemed to me there was a hissing in here (she put her hand on her head)
as they fell. My eyes were dry—I did not shed one tear, though the
doctor bid me. I cried them all out when he (she advanced to Eliot, and
lowered her voice), the grand officer in the reg'lars, you know,
decoyed away my poor Susy, the prettiest and kindest creature that ever
went into Westbrook meeting; fair as Bessie Lee, and far more plump and
rosy— to be sure Susy was but a servant-girl, but—" she raised her
voice to a shriek, "I shall never lay down my head in peace till they
are all driven into the salt sea, where my Susy was buried."
"We'll drive them all there," said Eliot, soothingly, laying his
hand on her arm—"every mother's son of them, Anny—now be quiet, and
go home, Anny."
"Yes, sir—thank you, sir,—yes, sir!" said she, calmed and
courtesying again and again—"oh, I forgot, Mr. Eliot!" she drew from
her bosom an old rag, in which she had tied some kernels of
butter-nuts—"give my duty to General Washington, and give him these
butternut meats—it's all I have to send him—I did give him my
best—they were nice boys, for all—wer'n't they, Bob and Pete?" And
whimpering and trailing her banner after her, the poor bereft creature
left the house.
A loud official rap was heard at the door, and immediately
recognised as the signal of the min- ister's approach. We must claim
indulgence while we linger for a moment with this reverend divine, for
the race of which he was an honoured member is fast disappearing from
our land. Peace be with them! Ill would they have brooked these days of
unquestioned equality of rights, of anti-monopolies, of free publishing
and freer thinking, of universal suffrage, of steam-engines,
rail-roads, and spinning-jennies,—all indirect contrivances to raze
those fortunate eminences, by mounting which little men became great,
and lorded it over their fellows: but peace be with them! How should
they have known (till it began to tremble under them) that the height
on which they stood was an artificial, not a natural elevation. They
preached equality in Heaven, but little thought it was the kingdom to
come on earth. They were the electric chain, unconscious of the
celestial fire they transmitted.
We would give them honour due; and to them belongs the honour of
having been the zealous champions of their country's cause, and of
having fought bravely with the weapons of the church militant.
Our good parson Wilson was an Apollo "in little;" being not more
than five feet four in height, and perfectly well made,—a fact of
which he betrayed the consciousness, by the exact adjustment of every
article of his apparel, even to his long blue yarn stockings, drawn
over the knee, and kept sleek by the well-turned leg, without the aid
ofgarters. On entering Mrs. Lee's parlour, he gave his three-cornered
hat, gold-headed cane, and buck-skin-gloves to little Fanny, who, with
the rest of the children, had at his approach slunk into a corner (they
need not, for never was there a kinder heart than parson Wilson's,
though somewhat in the position of vitality enclosed in a
petrefaction), and then giving a general bow to the company, he went to
the glass, took a comb from his waistcoat-pocket, and smoothed his hair
to an equatorial line around his forehead; he then crossed the room to
Mrs. Lee with some commonplace consolation on his lips; but the face of
the mother spoke too eloquently, and he was compelled to turn away,
wipe his eyes, and clear his throat, before he could recover his
official composure. "Mr. Eliot," he then began, "though a minister of
the gospel of peace, I heartily approve your going forth in the present
warfare, for surely it is lawful to defend that which is our own; no
man has a right to that for which he did not labour; to cities which he
built not; to olive-yards and vineyards which he planted not."
"I don't know about olive-yards and vineyards," interposed the
major, "never having seen such things; but I'm thinking we can eat our
corn and potatoes without their help that have neither planted nor
The parson gave an acquiescent nod to the major's emendation of his
text, and proceeded:—"Ihave wished, my young friend, to strengthen you
in the righteous cause in which you are taking up arms; and, to that
end, besides the prayers which I shall daily offer for you and yours at
the throne of divine grace, I have made up a book for you (here he
tendered a package, large enough to fill half the portmanteau of our
equestrian traveller), consisting of extracts selected from three
thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven sermons, preached on the
Sabbaths throughout my ministry of forty-eight years, besides
occasional discourses for peace and war, thanksgivings and fasts,
associations and funerals. As you will often be out of reach of
preaching privileges, I have provided here a word in season for every
occasion, which I trust you may find both teaching and refreshing after
a weary day's service."
Eliot received the treasure with suitable expressions of gratitude.
The good man continued: —"I could not, my friends, do this for
another; but you know that, speaking after the manner of men, we look
upon this dear youth as the pride and glory of our society."
"And I'm thinking, reverend sir," said the major, with that tone of
familiarity authorized by age (but stared at by the children), "I'm
thinking you'll not be called on again for a like service; for after
Eliot Lee is gone, there's not another what you can raly call a man in
the parish. To begin with yourself, reverend sir; you've never been
afighting character, which I take to be, humanly speaking, a necessary
part of a man; then there's myself, minus a leg; and Master Hale here,
who —I respect you for all, Master Hale—never was born to be handy
with a smarter weapon than a ferule; then comes blind Billy, and
limping Harris, and, to bring up the rear, Deacon Allen and the
doctor." Here the major chuckled: "They both say they would join the
army if 'twas not as it is; but they have been dreadful near-sighted
since the war broke out. That's all of 'mankind,' as you may say,
that's left in the bounds of Westbrook. Oh, I forgot Kisel—poor Kisel!
Truly, he seems to have been made up of leavings. Kisel would not make
a bad soldier either, if it were one crack and done. He is brave at a
go-off, but he can't bear the sight o'blood; and if he shoots as
crooked as he talks, he'd be as like to shoot himself as anybody else.
But sometimes the fellow's tongue does hit the mark in a kind of
providential manner. By the Lor—Jiminy, I mean!—there he comes, on
Granny Larkin's colt!"
The person in question now halted before Mrs. Lee's door, mounted
on an unbroken, ragged, party-coloured animal, such as is called, in
country phrase, "a wishing horse," evidently equipped for travelling.
His bridle was compounded of alternate bits of rope and leather; a
sheepskin served him for a saddle, behind which hung on either side a
meal-bag, filled with all his worldly substance.His own costume was in
keeping; an over-garment, made of an old blanket, a sort of long
roundabout, was fastened at the waist with a wampum belt, which, tied
in many a fantastical knot, dangled below his knees; his undergarments
were a pair of holyday leather breeches, and yarn stockings of deep
red; a conical cap, composed of alternate bits of scarlet and blue
cloth, covered his head, and was drawn close over his eyebrows.—Nature
had reduced his brow to the narrowest precincts; his face was concave;
his eyes sparkling, and in incessant motion; his nose thin and sharp; a
pale, clean-looking skin, and a mouth with more of the characteristics
of the brute than the human animal, complete the portrait of Kisel,
who, leaping like a cat from his horse, appeared at the door, screaming
out, in a cracked voice, "Ready, Misser Eliot?"
While all were exchanging inquiring glances, and the children
whispering, "Hush, Kisel—don't you see Dr. Wilson?" Eliot, who
comprehended the strange apparition at a glance, came forward and
"No, Kisel; I am not ready."
"Well, well—all same—Kisel can wait, and Beauty too—hey!"
"No, no, Kisel," replied Eliot, kindly taking the lad's hand, "you
must not wait—you must give this up, my good fellow."
"Give it up!—Diddle me if I do—no, I toldyou that all the devils
and angels to bargain should not stop me, no—you go, I go—that's it,
Here Major Avery, who sat near the door, his mouth wide open with
amazement, burst into a hoarse laugh, at which Kisel, his eyes flashing
fire, gave him a smart switch with his riding-whip (a willow wand) over
the face. The good-humoured man, deeming the poor lad no subject for
resentment, passed his hand over his face as if a moscheto had stung
him, saying—"Well, now, Kisel, that was not fair, my boy; I was only
smiling that such a harlequin-looking thing as you should think of
being waiter to Mr. Eliot. He might as well take a bat, or a
Eliot did not need his poor friend should be placed in this
ludicrous aspect to strengthen the decision which he had already
expressed to him; and drawing him aside beyond the irritation of the
major's gibes, he said—"It is impossible, Kisel— I cannot consent to
your going with me."
"Can't, hey! can't! can't!"—and for a few moments the poor fellow
hung his head, whimpering; then suddenly elevating it, he cried, "Then
I go 'out consent—I go, anyhow;" and springing back to the door, he
called out—"Miss Lee, hear me—Miss Bessie, you too, and you, parson
Wilson, for I speak gospel. When I boy, all boys laugh at me, knock me
here, kick there—who took my part?—Misser Eliot, hey! When they tied
me to old Roan, Beauty's mother, head to tail, wholicked the whole tote
of 'em?—Misser Eliot. I sick, nobody care I live or die—Misser Eliot
stay by me all night. When everybody laugh at me, plague me, hate me, I
wish me dead, Misser Eliot talk to me, make me feel good, glad, make me
warm here." He laid his hand on his bosom —"He gone, I can't
live!—but I'll follow him— I'll be his dog, fetch, carry, lay down at
his feet. S'pose he sick, Miss Lee? everybody say I good in
sickness—S'pose, Miss Bessie, he lie on the ground, bleeding, horses
trampling, soldiers flying, hey!—I bind him up, bring water, carry him
in my arms—if he die, I die too!"
The picture Kisel rudely sketched struck the imaginations of mother
and daughter. They knew his devotion to Eliot, and that in emergencies
he had gleams of shrewdness that seemed supernatural. They were too
much absorbed in serious emotions to be susceptible of the ludicrous;
and both joined in earnestly entreating Eliot not to oppose Kisel's
wishes. Dr. Wilson supported their intercession by remarking, "that it
seemed quite providential he should have been able to prepare for such
an expedition." The major took off the edge of this argument by
communicating what he had hastily ascertained, that Kisel had bartered
away his patrimony for "Granny Larkin's" wishing horse, yclept Beauty;
but he added two suggestions that had much force with Eliot,
particularly the last; for if there was a virtue that had supremacy in
his well-orderedcharacter, it was humanity. "The lad, Mr. Lee," he
said, "may be of use, after all. It takes a great many sorts of folks
to make a world, and so to make up an army. There's a lack of hands in
camp, and his may come in play. Kisel is keen at a sudden call—and
besides," he added, in a lower voice to Eliot, "it's true what the
creatur says, when you are gone he'll be good for nothing— like a vine
when the tree it clung to is removed, withering on the ground. Say
you'll take him, and we'll rig him out according to Gunter."
Thus beset, Eliot consented to what half an hour before had
appeared to him absurd; and the major bestirring himself, from his own
and Mrs. Lee's stores soon rectified Kisel's equipment in all important
particulars, to suit either honourable character of volunteer soldier
or volunteer attendant on Mr. Eliot Lee. This done, nothing remained
but the customary devotional service, still performed by the village
pastor on all extraordinary occasions. On this, Doctor Wilson's
feelings over-powered his technicalities. His prayer, sublimed by the
touching language of Scripture, melted the coldest heart, and raised
the most dejected. After bestowing their farewell blessing the
neighbours withdrew, all treasuring in their hearts some last word of
kindness from Eliot Lee, long remembered, and often referred to.
The family were now left to a sacred service more informal, and far
more intensely felt. Eliot, locking his mother and sister in his arms,
and the little ones gathered around him, with manly faith commended
them to God their Father; and receiving their last embraces, sprang on
to his horse conscious of nothing but confused sensations of grief,
till having passed far beyond the bounds of Westbrook, he heard his
companion lightly singing—"I cries for nobody, and nobody cries for
"I do not, brother, Infer, as if I thought my sister's state
Secure, without all doubt or controversy; Yet, where an equal poise of
hope and fear Does arbitrate the event, my nature is, That I incline to
hope rather than fear."
— — Milton.
Eliot Lee to his Mother.
"I have arrived thus far, my dear mother, on my journey; and,
according to my promise, am beginning the correspondence which is to
soften our separation.
"My spirits have been heavy. My anxious thoughts lingered with you,
brooded over dear Bessie and the little troop, and dwelt on our home
"I feared Harris would neglect the thrashing, and the wheat might
not turn out as well as we hoped; that the major might forget his
promise about the husking bee; that the pumpkins might freeze in the
loft (pray have them brought down, I forgot it!); that the cows might
fail sooner than you expected; that the sheep might torment you.
In short, dear mother, the grief of parting seemed to spread its
shadows far and wide. If Master Hale could have penetrated my mental
processes, he would have deemed his last admonition, to deport myself
in thought, word, and deed, like a scholar, a soldier, and a gentleman,
quite lost upon me. I was an anxious wretch, and nothing else. Poor
Kisel did not serve as a tranquillizer. His light wits were throwing
off their fermentation, in whistling, laughing, and soliloquizing: and
this, with Beauty's shambling gait, neither trot, canter, nor pace, but
something compounded of all, irritated my nerves. Never were horse and
rider better matched. Together, they make a fair centaur; the animal
not more than half a horse, and Kisel not more than half a man; there
is a ludicrous correspondence between them; neither vicious, but both
unbreakable, and full of all manner of tricks.
"Our land at this moment teems with scenes of moral and poetic
interest. We made our first stop at the little inn in R—. The
landlord's son was just setting off to join the quota to be sent
from-that county. The father, a stout old man, was trying to suppress
his emotion by bustling about, talking loud, whistling, hemming, and
coughing. The mother, her tears dropping like rain, was standing at the
fire, feeling over and over again the shirts she was airing for the
knapsack. 'He's our youngest,' whispered the old man to me, 'andmammy
is dreadful tender of him, poor boy!' 'Not mammy alone,' thought I, as
the old man turned away to brush off his starting tears. The sisters
were each putting some love-token, socks, mittens, and nutcakes into
the knapsack, which they looked hardy enough to have shouldered, while
one poor girl sat with her face buried in her handkerchief, weeping
most bitterly. The old man patted her on the neck—'Come, Letty, cheer
up!' said he; 'Jo may never have another chance to fight for his
country, and marrying can be done any day in the year.' He turned to me
with an explanatory whisper; ''Tis tough for all—Jo and Letty are
published, and we were to have the wedding thanks-giving evening.'
"All this was rather too much for me to bear, in addition to the
load already pressing on my heart; so without waiting for my horse to
be fed, I mounted him and proceeded.
"My next stop was in H—. There the company had mustered on the
green, in readiness to begin their march. Some infirm old men, a few
young mothers, with babies in their arms, and all the boys in the town,
had gathered for the last farewell. The soldiers were resting on their
muskets, and the clergyman imploring the benediction of Heaven on their
heads. 'Can England,' thought I, 'hope to subdue a country that sends
forth its defenders in such a spirit, with arms of such a temper?' Oh,
why does she not respect in her children the transmitted character of
"I arrived at Mrs. Ashley's just as the family were sitting down to
tea. She and the girls are in fine spirits, having recently received
from the colonel accounts of some fortunate skirmishes with the
British. The changed aspect of her once sumptuous tea-table at first
shocked me; but my keen appetite (for the first time in my life, my
dear mother, I had fasted all day) quite overcame my sensibilities; the
honest pride with which my patriotic hostess told me she had converted
all her table-cloths into shirts for her husband's men, and the
complacency with which she commended her sage tea, magnified the
virtues of her brown bread, and self-sweetened sweetmeats would have
given a relish to coarser fare more coarsely served.
"I have been pondering on the character of our New-England people
during my ride. The aspect of our society is quiet, and, to a cursory
observer, it appears tame. We seem to have the plodding, safe,
self-preserving virtues; to be industrious, frugal, provident, and
cautious; but to want the enthusiasm that gives to life all its poetry
and almost all its charms. But it is not so; there is a strong
under-current. Let the individual or the people be roused by a motive
that approves itself to the reasoning and religious mind, a fervid
energy, an all-subduing enthusiasm bursts forth, not like an accidental
and transient conflagration,but operating, like the elements, to great
effects, and irresistibly. This enthusiasm, this central fire, is now
at its height. It not only inflames the eloquence of the orator,
kindles the heart of the soldier, the beacon-lights and strong defences
of our land; but it lights the temple of God, and burns on the family
altar. The old man throws away his crutch; the yeoman leaves the plough
in the half-turned furrow; and the loving, quiet matron like you, my
dear mother, lays aside her domestic anxieties, dispenses with her
household comforts, and gives the God-speed to her sons to go forth and
battle it for their country. The nature of the contest in which we are
engaged illustrates my idea. Its sublimity is sometimes obscured by the
extravagance of party zeal. We have not been goaded to resistance by
oppression, nor fretted and chafed, with bits and collars, to madness;
but our sages, bold with the transmitted spirit of freedom, sown at
broadcast by our Pilgrim fathers, have reflected on the past and
calculated the future; and coolly estimating the worth of independence
and the right of self-government, are willing to hazard all in the hope
of gaining all; to sacrifice themselves for the prospective good of
their children. This is the dignified resolve of thinking beings, not
the angry impatience of overburdened animals.
"But good-night, dear mother. After this I shall have incidents,
and not reflections merely, to send you. The pine-knot, by the light of
whichI have written this, is just flickering its last flame. 'I cannot
afford you a candle,' said my good hostess when she bade me good-night;
'we sold our tallow to purchase necessaries for the colonel's men—poor
fellows, some of them are yet barefooted!'
"I shall enclose a line to Bessie—perhaps she will show it to you;
but do not ask it of her. Tell dear Fan I shall remember her charge,
and give the socks she knit to the first 'brave barefooted soldier' I
see. Sam must feed Steady for me; and dear little Hal must continue, as
he has begun, to couple brother Eliot with the 'poor soldiers' in his
prayers. Again farewell, dear mother. Your little Bible is before me;
my eye rests on the few lines you traced on the title-page; and as I
press my lips to them, they inspire holy resolutions. God grant I may
not mistake their freshness for vigour. What I may be is uncertain; but
I shall ever remain, as I am now, dearest mother,
"Your devoted son, "Eliot Lee."
Eliot found his letter to his sister a difficult task. He was to
treat a malady, the existence of which the patient had never
acknowledged to him. He wrote, effaced, and re-wrote, and finally sent
"My sweet sister Bessie, nothing has afflicted me so much in
leaving home as parting from you.I am inclined to believe there can be
no stronger nor tenderer affection than that of brother and sister; the
sense of protection on one part, and dependance on the other; the sweet
recollections of childhood; the unity of interest; and the communion of
memory and hope, blend their hearts together into one existence. So it
is with us—is it not, my dear sister? With me, certainly; for though,
like most young men, I have had my fancies, they have passed by like
the summer breeze, and left no trace of their passage. All the love,
liking (I cannot find a word to express the essential volatility of the
sentiment in my experience of it) that I have ever felt for all my
favourites, brown and fair, does not amount to one thousandth part of
the immutable affection that I bear you, my dear sister. I speak only
of my own experience, Bessie, and, as I well know, against the faith of
the world. I should be told that my fraternal love would pale in the
fires of another passion, as does a lamp at the shining of the sun; but
I don't believe a word of it—do you, Bessie? I am not, my dear sister,
playing the inquisitor with you, but fearfully and awkwardly enough
approaching a subject on which I thought it would be easier to write
than to speak; but I find it cannot be easy to do that, in any mode,
which may pain you.
"I have neglected the duty I owed you; and yet, perhaps, no
vigilance could have prevented the natural consequence of your
intercourse with one of the most fascinating men in the world. There,
it is out!—and now I can write freely. I said I had neglected my duty;
but I was not conscious of this till too late. The truth is, my mind
has been so engrossed with political subjects, so harassed with
importunate cravings and conflicting duties, that I was for a long time
unobservant of what was passing under my eye. I awoke as from a dream,
and found (or feared) that my sister's happiness was at stake; that she
had given, and given to one unworthy, the irrequitable boon of her
affections; irrequitable, but, thank Heaven, not irrecoverable. No, I
do not believe one word of all the trumpery about incurable love. I
will not adopt a faith, however old and prevailing, which calls in
question our moral power to achieve any conquest over ourselves. For my
own part, I do not think we have any power over our affections to give
or withdraw them, or even to measure their amount. This may seem a
startling assertion, and contradictory of what I have said above; but
it is not. The sentiment I there alluded to is generated by accidental
circumstances, is half illusion, unsustained by reason, unauthorized by
realities—not the immortal love infused by Heaven and sustained by
truth; but a disease very mortal and very curable, dear Bessie, believe
me. Such a mind as yours, so pure, so elevated, has a self-rectifying
power. You have felt theinfluence of the delightful qualities which M—
undoubtedly possesses; and why should you not, for who is more
susceptible to grace and refinement than yourself? Heaven has so
arranged the relations of affections and qualities, that, as I have
said above, we can neither give nor withhold our love—the heart has no
tenants at will. If M— has assumed, or you have imputed to him
qualities which he does not possess, your affection will be dissipated
with the illusion. But if the spell still remains unbroken, I entreat
you, my dear sister, not to waste your sensibility, the precious food
of life, the life of life, in moping melancholy.
"'Attach thee firmly (I quote from memory) to the virtuous deeds
And offices of love—to love itself,
With all its vain and transient joys, sit loose.'
"I have long had a lurking distrust of M—. He has acted too
cautious a part in politics for a sound heart. Let a man run the risk
of hanging for it either way; but if he have a spark of generosity, he
will be either a whole-souled whig or a loyal tory in these times.
"I know what M—has so often reiterated. 'He had a mother in
England; all his friends were on the royal side; and, on the other
hand, his property was here, and might depend on the favour of the
rebels; and indeed, there was so much to be said on both sides, that a
man might well pause!'There are moments in men's histories when none
but cowards or knaves, or (worse than either) cold-blooded, selfish
wretches, would pause!
"It is possible that I misjudge him; Heaven grant it! All that I
know is, that he is in New-York no longer, pausing, but the aid of
General Clinton. It is barely possible that he has written; letters are
not transmitted with any security in these times; but why did he not
speak before he went? why, up to the very hour of his departure (as my
mother says, you know I was absent), did he continue a devotion which
must end in suffering and disappointment to you? There is a vicious
vanity and selfishness in this, most unmanly and detestable. Do not
think, dearest Bessie, that I am anxious to prove him unworthy—Alas,
alas! I was far too slow to believe him so; and I now only set before
you these inevitable inferences from his conduct, in the hope that your
illusion will sooner vanish, and you will the sooner recover your
"I am writing without a ray of light, except what comes from the
embers on the hearth. Perhaps you will think I am in Egyptian mental
darkness. No, Bessie, I must be clear-sighted when I have nothing in
view but your honour and happiness. They shall ever be my care, even
more than my own. But why do I separate that which is one and
indivisible? Good-night, dear sister. Let me fancy you listening to me;
your sweet eye fixed on me; no dejected nor averted look; your face
beaming, as I have often seen it, with the tenderness so dangerous
here, so safe in heaven; the hope so often defeated here, there ever
brightening; the joy so transient here, there enduring!—Let me see
this blessed vision, and I shall sleep sweetly and sweetly dream of
"Ever thine, Bessie, "E. L."
Bessie read her brother's letter with mixed emotions. At first it
called forth tenderness for him; then she thought he judged Meredith
precipitately, harshly even; and after confirming herself in this
opinion, by thinking of him over and over again in the false lights in
which he had shown himself, she said, "even Eliot allows that we can
neither give nor withhold our love; then how is Jasper to blame for not
giving it to one so humble, so inferior as I am? and how could I
withhold mine?" Poor Bessie! it is a common trick of human nature to
snatch from an argument whatever coincides with our own views, and
leave the rest. "If," she continued in her reflections, "he had ever
made any declarations, or asked any confessions—but I gave my whole
heart unasked and silently." She could have recalled passionate
declarations in his eye, prayers in his devotion; but her love had the
essential characteristics of true passion; it was humble, generous, and
"Si tout le monde vous ressembloit, un roman seroit bientot fini!"
November's leaden clouds and fitful gleams of sunshine, coming like
visitations of heaven-inspired thoughts, and vanishing, alas! like
illusions, harmonized with the state of Bessie's mind. She was much
abroad, rambling alone over her favourite haunts, and living over the
dangerous past. This was at least a present relief and solace; and her
mother, though she feared it might minister to the morbid state of her
child's feelings, had not the resolution to interpose her authority to
prevent it. Bessie was one evening at twilight returning homeward by a
road (if road that might be called which was merely a horse-path) that
communicated at the distance of a mile and a half with the main road to
Boston. It led by the margin of a little brook, through a pine wood
that was just now powdered over with a light snow. Meredith and Bessie
had always taken their way through this sequestered wood in their walks
and rides, going and returning; not a step of it but was eloquent with
some treasured word, some well-remembered emotion. Bessie had seated
herself on a fallen trunk, an accustomed resting-place, and was looking
at a bunch of groundpine and wild periwinkles as if she were perusing
them; the sensations of happier hours had stolen over her, the painful
present and uncertain future were forgotten, when she was roused from
her dreamy state by the trampling of an approaching horse. Women, most
women, are cowards on instinct. Bessie cast one glance backward, and
saw the horse was ridden by a person in a military dress. A stranger in
this private path was rather an alarming apparition, and she started
homeward with hasty steps. The rider mended his horse's pace, and was
soon even with her, and in another instant had dismounted and
exclaimed—"Bessie Lee!—It is you, Bessie—I cannot be mistaken!"
Bessie smiled at this familiar salutation, and did not refuse her
hand to the stranger, who with eager cordiality offered his; but not
being in the least a woman of the world, it was plain she explored his
face in vain for some recognisable feature.—"No, you do not remember
me—that is evident," he said, with a tone of disappointment. "Is there
not a vestige, Bessie, of your old playmate, in the whiskered,
weather-beaten personage before you?"
"Herbert Linwood!" she exclaimed, and a glow of glad recognition
mounted from her heart to her cheek.
"Ah, thank you, Bessie, better late than never; but it is sad to be
forgotten. You are much less changed than I, undoubtedly; but I should
have known you if nothing were unaltered save thecolour of your eye;
however, I have always worn your likeness here," he gallantly added,
putting his hand to his heart, "and in truth, you are but the opening
bud expanded to the flower, while I have undergone a change like the
chestnut, from the tassel to the bearded husk." Bessie soon began to
perceive familiar tones and expression, and she consoled Herbert with
the assurance that it was only her surprise, his growth, change of
dress, that prevented her from knowing him at once. They soon passed to
mutual inquiries, by which it appeared that Herbert had come to
Massachusetts on military business. The visit to Westbrook was a little
episode of his own insertion. He was to return in a few weeks to West
Point, where he was charmed to hear he should meet Eliot.
"I am cut off from my own family," he said, "and really, I pine for
a friend. I gather from Belle's letters that my father is more and more
estranged from me. While he thought I was fighting on the losing side,
and in peril of my head, his generous spirit was placable; but since
the result of our contest has become doubtful, even to him, he has
waxed hotter and hotter against me; and if we finally prevail, and
prevail we must, he will never forgive me."
"Oh, do not say so—he cannot be so unrelenting; and if he were,
Isabella can persuade him— she can do any thing she pleases."
"Yes, a pretty potent person is that sister ofmine. But when my
father sets his foot down, the devil—I beg your pardon Bessie, and
Belle's too— I mean his metal is of such a temper that an angel could
not bend him."
"Isabella is certainly the angel, not its opposite."
"Why yes, she is, God bless her! But yet, Bessie, she is pretty
well spiced with humanity. If she were not, she would not be so
attractive to a certain friend of ours, who is merely human."
Bessie's heart beat quicker; she knew, or feared she knew, what
Herbert meant; and after a pause, full of sensation to her, she
ventured to ask "if he heard often from New-York?"
"Yes, we get rumours from there every day— nothing very
satisfactory. Belle, in spite of her toryism, is a loving sister, and
writes me as often as she can; but as the letters run the risk of being
read by friends and foes, they are about as domestic and private as if
they were endited for Rivington's Gazette."
"Then," said Bessie, quite boldly, for she felt a sensible relief,
"you have no news to tell me?"
"No—no, nothing official," he replied, with a smile; "Belle writes
exultingly of Meredith having, since his return to New-York, come out
on the right side, as she calls it—and of my father's pleasure and
pride in him, Of course she says not a word of her own sentiments. I
hear from an old friend of mine, who was brought in a prisoner the
other day, that Meredith has been devoted to her ever since his return.
They were always lovers after an April-day fashion, you know, Bessie,
and I should not be surprised to hear of their engagement at any
Fortunately for poor Bessie, her hood sheltered the rapid mutations
of her cheek; resolution or pride she had not, but a certain sense of
maidenly decorum came to her aid, and she faintly answered, "No, I
should not." If this were a slight departure from truth, every woman
(every young one) will forgive her, for it was a case of
self-preservation. Linwood was so absorbed in the happiness of being
near her, of having her arm in his, that he scarcely noticed how that
arm trembled, and how her voice faltered. He afterward recalled it.
Herbert's visit to the Lees was like a saint's day to good
Catholics after a long penance. He had in his boyhood been a prime
favourite with Mrs. Lee—she was delighted to see him again, and
thought the man even more charming than the boy. She made every effort
to show off her hospitable home to Linwood in its old aspect of
abundance and cheerfulness; and, in spite of war and actual changes,
she succeeded. She had the skilful housewife's gift "to make the worse
appear the better,"— far more difficult in housewifery than in
metaphysics. Herbert enjoyed, to her kind heart's content, the result
of her efforts. The poor fellow's appetite had been so long mortified
with the sorry fareof the American camp, that no Roman epicurean ever
relished the dainties of an emperor's table (such as canaries' eyes and
peacocks' brains) more keenly than he did the plain but excellent
provisions at Lee farm; the incomparable bread and butter, ham,
apple-sauce, and cream, the nuts the children cracked, and the
sparkling cider they drew for him. We are quite aware that a hero on a
sentimental visit should be indifferent to these gross matters, but our
friend Herbert was no hero, no romantic abstraction, but a good,
honest, natural fellow, compounded of body and spirit, each element
bearing its due proportion in the composition.
Bessie yielded to the influence of old associations, and, as her
mother thought, was more light-hearted, more herself, than she had been
for many a weary month. "After all," she said, anxiously revolving the
subject in her mind, "it may come out right yet. Bessie cannot help
preferring Herbert Linwood, so good-humoured and open-hearted as he is,
to Meredith, with his studied elegance, his hollow phrases, and
expressive looks. Herbert's heart is in his hand; and hand and heart
he'll not be too proud to offer her; for he sees things in their true
lights, and not with the world's eye."
Mrs. Lee was delicate and prudent; but she could not help
intimating her own sentiments to Bessie. From that moment a change came
over her. Her spirits vanished like the rosy hues from the sunset
clouds. Herbert wondered, but he hadno time to lose in speculation. He
threw himself at Bessie's feet, and there poured out his tale of love
and devotion. At first he received nothing in return but silence and
tears; and, when he became more importunate, broken protestations of
her gratitude and ill desert; which he misunderstood, and answered by
declaring "she owed him no gratitude; that he was but too bold to
aspire to her, poor wretch of broken fortunes that he was; but, please
Heaven, he would mend them under her auspices."
She dared not put him off with pretences. She only wept, and said
she had no heart to give; and then left him, feeling much like some
poor mariner, who, as he is joyously sailing into a long-desired port,
is suddenly enveloped in impenetrable mist.
Herbert was not of a temper to remain tranquil in this position. He
knew nothing of the "blessing promised to those that wait," for he had
never waited for any thing; and he at once told his perplexities to
Mrs. Lee, who, herself most grieved and mortified, communicated slight
hints which, by furnishing a key to certain observations of his own,
put him sufficiently in possession of the truth. Without again seeing
Bessie, he left Westbrook with the common conviction of even common
lovers in fresh disappointments, that there was no more happiness for
him in this world.
Mrs. Lee uttered no word of expostulation or reproach to Bessie;
but her sad looks, like the oldmother's in the ballad, "gaed near to
break her heart."
There are few greater trials to a tender hearted, conscientious
creature like Bessie Lee, than to defeat the hopes and disappoint the
expectations of friends, by opposing those circumstances which, as it
seems to them, will best promote our honour and happiness. "Eliot,"
said Bessie, in her secret meditations, "thinks I am weakly cherishing
an unworthy passion—my mother believes that I have voluntarily thrown
away my own advantage and happiness—thank Heaven, the wretchedness, as
well as the fault, is all my own."
Many may condemn Bessie's unresisting weakness; but who will
venture to graduate the scale of human virtue? to decide in a given
case how much is bodily infirmity, and how much defect of resolution.
Certain are we, that when fragility of constitution, tenderness of
conscience, and susceptibility of heart, meet in one person, the sooner
the trials of life are over the better.
"A name which every wind to Heaven would bear,
Which men to speak, and angels joy to hear."
Another letter from Eliot broke like a sunbeam through the
monotonous clouds that hung over the Lees.
"My Dearest Mother,
—I arrived safely at headquarters on the 22d. Colonel Ashley
received me with open arms. He applauded my resolution to join the
army, and bestowed his curses liberally (as is his wont on whatever
displeases him) on the young men who linger at home, while the gallant
spirits of France and Poland are crossing the ocean to volunteer in our
cause. He rubbed his hands exultingly when I told him that it was your
self-originating decision that I should leave you. 'The only son of
your mother—that is, the only one to speak of' (forgive him, Sam and
Hal), 'and she a widow!' he exclaimed. 'Let them talk about their
Spartan mothers, half men and demimonsters; but look at our
women-folks, as tender and as timid of their broods as hens, and as
bold and self-sacrificing as martyrs! You come of a good stock, my boy,
and so I shall tell the gin'ral.He's old Virginia, my lad; and looks
well to blood in man and horse.'
"The next morning he called, his kind heart raying out through his
jolly face, to present me to General Washington. If ever I go into
battle, which Heaven of its loving mercy grant, I pray my heart may not
thump as it did when I approached the mean little habitation, now the
residence of our noble leader. 'You tremble, Eliot,' said my colonel,
as we reached the door-step. 'I don't wonder—I always feel my joints
give a little when I go before him. I venerate him next to the Deity;
but it is not easy to get used to him as you do to other men.'
"When we entered, the general was writing. If Sam wishes to know
whether my courage returned when I was actually in his presence, tell
him I then forgot myself—forgot I had an impression to make. The
general requested us to be seated while he finished his despatches. The
copies were before him, all in his own hand. 'Every t crossed, and
every i dotted,' whispered the colonel, pointing to the papers. 'He's
godlike in that; he finishes off little things as completely as great.'
I could not but smile at the comparison, though it was both striking
and just. When the general had finished, and had read the letters of
introduction from Governor Hancock and Mr. Adams, which I presented,
'You see, sir,' said my kind patron, 'that my young friend here is
calculating to enterthe army; I'll answer for him, he'll prove good and
true; up to the mark, as his father Sam Lee was before him. He, that
is, Sam Lee, and I, fit side by side in the French war; I was no
flincher, you know, sir, and he was as brave as Julius Cæsar, Sam was;
so I think my friend Eliot here has a pretty considerable claim.'
"'But, my good sir,' said the general, 'you know we are contending
against hereditary claims.'
"'That's true, sir; and thank the Lord, he can stand on his own
ground; he shot one of the first guns at Lexington, and got pretty well
peppered too, though he was a lad then, with a face as smooth as the
palm of my hand.'
"'Something too much of this,' thought I; and I attempted to stop
my trumpeter's mouth by saying 'I had no claims on the score of the
affair at Lexington; that my being there was accidental, and I fought
"'Ah, my boy,' said the colonel, determined to tell his tale out,
'you may say that—there's no courage like that that comes by natur,
gin'ral; he stood within two feet of me, as straight as a tombstone,
when a spent ball bounding near him, he caught it in his hands just as
if he'd been playing wicket, and said, "you may throw down your bat, my
boys, I've caught you out!"—was not that metal?'
"General Washington's countenance relaxed as the colonel proceeded
(I ventured a side glance),and at the conclusion he gave two or three
emphatic and pleased nods; but his grave aspect returned immediately,
and he said, as I thought, in a most frigid manner, 'the request, Mr.
Lee, of my friends of Massachusetts, that you may receive a commission
in the service, deserves attention; Colonel Ashley is a substantial
voucher for your personal merit. Are you aware, sir, that a post of
honour in our army involves arduous labour, hardships, and self-denial?
Do you know the actual condition of our officers—that their pay is in
arrears, and their private resources exhausted? There are among them
men who have bravely served their country from the beginning of this
contest; gentlemen who have not a change of linen; to whom I have even
been compelled to deny, because I had not the power to divert them from
their original destination, the coarse clothes provided for the
soldiers. This is an affecting, but a true view of our actual
condition. Should the Almighty prosper our cause, as, if we are true to
ourselves, he assuredly will, these matters will improve; but I have no
lure to hold out to you, no encouragement but the sense of performing
your duty to your country. Perhaps, Mr. Lee, you would prefer to
reflect further, before you assume new obligations?'
"'Not a moment, sir. I came here determined to serve my country at
any post you should assign me. If a command is given me, I shall be
gratefulfor it: if not, I shall enter the ranks as a private soldier.'
"General Washington exchanged glances with the colonel, that
implied approbation of my resolution, but not one syllable dropped of
encouragement as to the commission; and it being evident that he had no
leisure to protract our audience, we took our leave.
"I confess I came away rather crest-fallen. I am not such a puppy,
my dear mother, as to suppose my single arm of much consequence to my
country, but I felt an agreeable, perhaps an exaggerated consciousness,
that I deserved—not applause, but some token of encouragement.
However, the colonel said this was his way; 'he never disappoints an
expectation,seldom authorizes one.'
"'Is he cold-hearted?' I asked.
"'The Lord forgive you! Eliot,' he replied. 'Cold-hearted!—No, his
heat does not go off by flashes, but keeps the furnace hot out of which
the pure gold comes. Lads never think there is any fire unless they see
the sparks and hear the roar.'
"'But, sir,' said I, 'I believe there is a very common impression
that General Washington is of a reserved, cold temperament—'
"'The devil take common impressions. They are made on sand, and are
both false and fleeting. Wait, Eliot—you are true metal, and I will
venture your impressions when you shall know our noble commander
better. Cold, egad,' he half mutteredto himself; 'where the deuse,
then, has the heat come from that has cemented our army together, and
kept their spirits up when their fingers and toes were freezing?"'
"Give me joy, my dear mother; a kiss, Bessie; a good hug, my dear
little sisters; and a huzza, boys! General Washington has sent me a
lieutenant's commission, and a particularly kind note with it. So, it
appears, that while I was thinking him so lukewarm to my application,
he lost no time in transmitting it to Congress, and enforcing it by his
recommendation. Our camp is all bustle. Soldiers, just trained and fit
for service, are departing, their term of enlistment having expired.
The new quotas are coming in, raw, undisciplined troops. The general
preserves a calm, unaltered mien; but his officers fret and fume in
private, and say that nothing effective will ever be achieved while
Congress permits these short enlistments."
"Thanks to you, dear mother; my funds have enabled me to purchase a
uniform. I have just tried it on. I wish you could all see me in it.
'Every woman is at heart a rake,' says Pope; that every man is at heart
a coxcomb, is just about as true. My new dress will lose its holyday
gloss before we meet again, but the freshness of my love for you will
never be dimmed, my dear mother; for Bessie, and for all the little
band, whose bright faces are even now before my swimming eyes.
"Yours devotedly, "Eliot Lee. "P. S.—My poor jack-o'-lantern,
Kisel, is of course of no use to me, neither does he give me much
trouble. He is a sort of mountebank among the soldiers, merry himself
and making others merry. If he is a benefactor who makes two blades of
grass grow where but one grew before, Kisel certainly is, while he
produces smiles where rugged toil and want have stamped a scowl of
In this letter to his mother, Eliot enclosed one to Bessie;
reiterating even more forcibly and tenderly what he had before said. It
served no purpose but to aggravate her self-reproaches.
"Come not near our fairy queen."
Before mid-winter, Linwood joined Eliot Lee at West Point, and the
young men renewed their acquaintance on the footing of friends. There
was just that degree of similarity and difference between them that
inspires mutual confidence and begets interest. Herbert, with
characteristic frankness, told the story of his love, disappointment
and all. Eliot felt a true sympathy for his friend, whose deserts he
thought would so well have harmonized with Bessie's advantage and
happiness; but this feeling was subordinate to his keen anxiety for his
sister. This anxiety was not appeased by intelligence from home.
Letters were rare blessings in those days—scarcely to him blessings.
His mother wrote about every thing but Bessie, and his sister's letters
were brief and vague, and most unsatisfactory. The winter, however,
passed rapidly away. Though in winter quarters, he had incessant
occupation; and the exciting novelty of military life, with the deep
interest of the times, to an ardent and patriotic spirit, kept every
feeling on the strain.
Eliot had that intimate acquaintance with nature that makes one
look upon and love all its aspects, as upon the changing expressions of
a friend's face; and as that most interests us in its soul-fraught
seriousness, so he delighted even more in the wild gleams of beauty
that are shot over the winter landscape, than in all its summer wealth.
To eyes like his, faithful ministers to the soul, the scenery of West
Point was a perpetual banquet.
Nature, in our spring-time, as we all know (especially in this
blessed year of our Lord 1835), rises as slowly and reluctantly from
her long winter's sleep as any other sluggard. On looking back to our
hero's spring at West Point, we find she must have been at her work
earlier than is her wont; for April was not far gone when Eliot, after
looking in vain for Linwood to accompany him, sauntered into the woods,
where the buds were swelling and the rills gushing. At first his
pleasure was marred by his friend not being with him, and he now for
the first time called to mind Linwood's frequent and unexplained
absences for the last few days. Linwood was so essentially a social
being, that Eliot's curiosity was naturally excited by this sudden
manifestation of a love of solitude and secrecy.
He however pursued his way; and having reached the cascade which is
now the resort of holyday visiters, he forgot his friend. The soil
under his feet, released from the iron grasp of winter, was soft and
spongy, and the tokens of spring were around him like the first mellow
smile of dawn. The rills that spring together like laughingchildren
just out of school (we borrow the obvious simile from a poetic child),
and at their junction form "the cascade," were then filled to the brim
from their just unsealed fountains. Eliot followed the streamlet where
it pursues its headlong course, dancing, singing, and shouting, as it
flings itself over the rocks, as if it spurned their cold and stern
companionship, and was impatiently running away from the leafless woods
to a holyday in a summer region. He forced his way through the
obstructions that impeded his descent, and was standing on a jutting
point which the stream again divided, looking up at the snow-white and
feathery water, as he caught a glimpse of it here and there through the
intersecting branches of hemlocks, and wondering why it was that he
instinctively infused his own nature into the outward world: why the
rocks seemed to him to look sternly on the frolicking stream that
capered over them, and the fresh white blossoms of the early flowering
shrubs seemed to yearn with a kindred spirit towards it, when his
speculations were broken by human voices mingling with the sound of the
waterfall. He looked in the direction whence they came, and fancied he
saw a white dress. It might be the cascade, for that at a little
distance did not look unlike a white robe floating over the gray rocks,
but it might be a fair lady's gown, and that was a sight rare enough to
provoke the curiosity of a young knight-errant. So Eliot, quickeninghis
footsteps, reached the point where the streamlet ceases its din, and
steals loiteringly through the deep narrow glen, now called
Washington's Valley. He had pressed on unwittingly, for he was now
within a few yards of two persons on whom he would not voluntarily have
intruded. One was a lady (a lady certainly, for a well-practised ear
can graduate the degree of refinement by a single tone of the voice),
the other party to the tête-à-tête was his truant friend Linwood. The
lady was seated with her back towards Eliot, in a grape-vine that hung,
a sylvan swing, from the trees; and Linwood, his face also turned from
Eliot, was decking his companion's pretty hair with wood anemones, and
(ominous it was when Herbert Linwood made sentimental sallies) saying
very soft and pretty things of their starry eyes. Eliot was making a
quiet retreat, when, to his utter consternation, a lady on his right,
till then unseen by him, addressed him, saying, "she believed she had
the pleasure of speaking to Lieutenant Lee." Eliot bowed; whereupon she
added, "that she was sure, from Captain Linwood's description, that it
must be his friend. Captain Linwood is there with my sister, you
perceive," she continued; "and as he is our friend, and you are his,
you will do us the favour to go home and take tea with us."
By this time the tête-à-tête party, though sufficiently absorbed in
each other, was aroused, and both turning their head, perceived Eliot.
The lady said nothing; Linwood looked disconcerted,and merely nodded
without speaking to his friend. The lady rose, and with a spirited step
walked towards a farmhouse on the margin of the Hudson, the only
tenement of this secluded and most lovely little glen. Linwood followed
her, and seemed earnestly addressing her in a low voice. By this time
Eliot had sufficiently recovered his senses to remember that the
farmhouse, which was visible from West Point, had been pointed out to
him as the temporary residence of a Mr. Grenville Ruthven. Mr. Ruthven
was a native of Virginia, who some years before had, in consequence of
pecuniary misfortunes, removed to New-York, where he had held an office
under the king till the commencement of the war. His only son was in
the English navy, and the father was suspected of being at heart a
royalist. His political partialities, however, were not so strong but
that they might be deferred to prudence: so he took her counsel, and
retired with his wife and two daughters to this safe nook on the
Hudson, till the troubles should be overpast.
Eliot could not be insensible to the friendly and volunteered
greeting of his pretty lady patroness, and a social pleasure was never
more inviting than now when he was famishing for it; but it was so
manifest that his presence was any thing but desirable to Linwood and
his companion, that he was making his acknowledgments and turning away,
when the young lady, declaring she would not take "no" for an answer,
called out, "Stop, Helen— pray, stop—come back, Captain Linwood, and
introduceus regularly to your friend; he is so ceremonious that he will
not go on with an acquaintance that is not begun in due form."
Thus compelled, Miss Ruthven stopped and submitted gracefully to an
introduction, which Linwood was in fact at the moment urging, and she
"Now, here we are, just at our own door," said Miss Charlotte
Ruthven to Eliot, "and you must positively come in and take tea with
us." Eliot still hesitated.
"Why, in the name of wonder, should you not?" said Linwood, who
appeared just coming to himself.
"You must come with us," said Miss Ruthven, for the first time
speaking, "and let me show your friend how very magnanimous I can be."
"Indeed, you must not refuse us," urged Miss Charlotte.
"I cannot," replied Eliot, gallantly, "though it is not very
flattering to begin an acquaintance with testing the magnanimity of
Helen Ruthven bowed, smiled, and coloured; and at the first
opportunity said to Linwood, "your friend is certainly the most
civilized of all the eastern savages I have yet seen, and, as your
friend, I will try to tolerate him." She soon, however, seemed to
forget his presence, and to forget every thing else, in an absorbing
and half-whispered conversation with Linwood, interrupted only by
singing snatches of sentimental songs, accompanyingherself on the
piano, and giving them the expressive application that eloquent eyes
can give. In the meanwhile Eliot was left to Miss Charlotte, a
commonplace, frank, and good-humoured person, particularly well pleased
at being relieved from the rôle she had lately played, a cipher in a
Mr. and Mrs. Ruthven made their appearance with the tea-service.
Mr. Ruthven, though verging towards sixty, was still in the unimpaired
vigour of manhood, and was marked by the general characteristics,
physical and moral, of a Virginian: the lofty stature, strong and
well-built frame, the open brow, and expression of nobleness and
kindness of disposition, and a certain something, not vanity, nor
pride, nor in the least approaching to superciliousness, but a certain
happy sense of the superiority, not of the individual, but of the great
mass of which he is a component part.
His wife, unhappily, was not of this noble stock. She was of French
descent, and a native of one of our cities. At sixteen, with but a
modicum of beauty, and coquetry enough for half her sex, she succeeded,
Mr. Ruthven being then a widower, in making him commit the folly of
marrying her, after a six weeks' acquaintance. She was still in the
prime of life, and as impatient as a caged bird of her country
seclusion, or, as she called it, imprisonment, where her daughters were
losing every opportunity of achieving what she considered the chief end
of a woman's life.
Aware of her eldest daughter's propensity to convert acquaintances
into lovers, and looking down upon all rebels as most unprofitable
suiters, she had sedulously guarded against any intercourse with the
officers at the Point.
Of late, she had begun to despair of a favourable change in their
position; and Miss Ruthven having accidentally renewed an old
acquaintance with Herbert Linwood, her mother encouraged his visits
from that admirable policy of maternal manœuvrers, which wisely keeps a
pis-aller in reserve. Helen Ruthven was one of those persons, most
uncomfortable in domestic life, who profess always to require an object
(which means something out of a woman's natural, safe, and quiet orbit)
on which to exhaust their engrossing and exacting desires. Mr. Ruthven
felt there was a very sudden change in his domestic atmosphere, and
though it was as incomprehensible to him as a change in the weather, he
enjoyed it without asking or caring for an explanation. Always
hospitably inclined, he was charmed with Linwood's good-fellowship; and
while he discussed a favourite dish, obtained with infinite trouble, or
drained a bottle of Madeira with him, he was as unobservant of his
wife's tactics and his daughters' coquetries as the eagle is of the
modus operandi of the mole. And all the while, and in his presence,
Helen was lavishing her flatteries with infinite finesse and grace. Her
words, glances, tones of voice even, might have turned a steadier head
than Linwood's. Her father, good,confiding man, was not suspicious, but
vexed when she called his companion away, just, as he said, "as they
were beginning to enjoy themselves," to scramble over frozen ground or
look at a wintry prospect! or to play over, for the fortieth time, a
trumpery song. Helen, however, would throw her arms around her father's
neck, kiss him into good-humour, and carry her point; that is, secure
the undivided attentions of Herbert Linwood. Matters were at this
point, after a fortnight's intercourse, when Eliot entered upon the
scene; and, though his friend Miss Charlotte kept up an even flow of
talk, before the evening was over he had taken some very accurate
When they took their leave, and twice after they had shut the outer
door, Helen called Linwood back for some last word that seemed to mean
nothing, and yet clearly meant that her heart went with him: and then
So fondly she bade him adieu,
It seemed that she bade him return."
The young men had a long, dark, and at first rather an unsocial
walk. Both were thinking of the same subject, and both were embarrassed
by it. Linwood, after whipping his boots for ten minutes, said, "Hang
it, Eliot, we may as well speak out; I suppose you think it deused
queer that I said nothing to you of my visits to the Ruthvens?"
"Why, yes, Linwood—to speak out frankly, I do."
"Well, it is, I confess it. At first my silence was accidental—no,
that is not plummet and line truth; for from the first I had a sort of
a fear—no, not fear, but a sheepish feeling, that you might think the
pleasure I took in visiting the Ruthvens quite inconsistent with the
misery I had seemed to feel, and, by Heavens, did feel, to my heart's
core, about that affair at Westbrook."
"No, Linwood—whatever else I may doubt, I never shall doubt your
"But my constancy you do?" Eliot made no reply, and Linwood
proceeded: "Upon my soul, I have not the slightest idea of falling in
love with either of these girls, but I find it exceedingly pleasant to
go there. To tell the truth, Eliot, I am wretched without the society
of womankind; Adam was a good sensible fellow not to find even Paradise
tolerable without them. I knew the Ruthvens in New-York: I believe they
like me the better, apostate as they consider me, for belonging to a
tory family; and looking upon me, as they must, as a diseased branch
from a sound root, they certainly are very kind to me, especially the
old gentleman—a fine old fellow, is he not?"
"Yes—I liked him particularly."
"And madame is piquant and agreeable, and very polite to me; and
the girls, of course, are pleased to have their hermitage enlivened by
an old acquaintance."
Linwood's slender artifice in saying "the girls,"when it was
apparent that Miss Ruthven was the magnet, operated like the subtlety
of a child, betraying what he would fain conceal. Without appearing to
perceive the truth, Eliot said, "Miss Ruthven seems to restrict her
hospitality to old acquaintance. It was manifest that she did not
voluntarily extend it to me."
"No, she did not. Helen Ruthven's heart is in her hand, and she
makes no secret of her antipathy to a rebel—per se a rebel; however,
her likes and dislikes are both harmless—she is only the more
attractive for them."
Herbert had not been the first to mention Helen Ruthven; he seemed
now well enough pleased to dwell upon the subject. "How did you like
her singing, Eliot?" he asked.
"Why, pretty well; she sings with expression."
"Does she not? infinite!—and then what an accompaniment are those
brilliant eyes of hers."
"With their speechless messages, Linwood?" Linwood merely hemmed in
reply, and Eliot added, "Do you like the expression of her mouth?"
"No, not entirely—there is a little spice of the devil about her
mouth; but when you are well acquainted with her you don't perceive
"If you are undergoing a blinding process," thought Eliot. When the
friends arrived at their quarters, and separated for the night, Linwood
asked and Eliot gave a promise to repeat his visit the next evening to
"He is a good man.
"Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?"
From this period Linwood was every day at the glen, and Eliot as
often as his very strict performance of his duties permitted. He was
charmed with the warm-hearted hospitality of Mr. Ruthven, and not quite
insensible to the evident partiality of Miss Charlotte. She did not
pass the vestibule of his heart to the holy of holies, but in the
vestibule (of even the best of hearts) vanity is apt to lurk. If Eliot
therefore was not insensible to the favour of Miss Charlotte, an
every-day character, Linwood could not be expected to resist the
dazzling influence of her potent sister. A more wary youth might have
been scorched in the focus of her charms. Helen Ruthven was some three
or four years older than Linwood,—a great advantage when the subject
to be practised on combines simplicity and credulity with inexperience.
Without being beautiful, by the help of grace and versatility, and
artful adaptation of the aids and artifices of the toilet, Miss Ruthven
produced the effect of beauty. Never was there a more skilful manager
of the blandishments of her sex. She knew how to infuseinto a glance
"thoughts that breathe,"—how to play off those flatteries that create
an atmosphere of perfume and beauty,—how to make her presence felt as
the soul of life, and life in her absence a dreary day of nothingness.
She had little true sensibility or generosity (they go together); but
selecting a single object on which to lavish her feeling, like a
shallow stream compressed into a narrow channel, it made great show and
noise. Eliot stood on disenchanted ground; and, while looking on the
real shape, was compelled to see his credulous and impulsive friend
becoming from day to day more and more inthralled by the false
semblance. "Is man's heart," he asked himself, "a mere surface, over
which one shadow chaseth another?" No. But men's hearts have different
depths. In some, like Eliot Lee's (who was destined to love once and
for ever), love strikes a deep and ineradicable root; interweaves
itself with the very fibres of life, and becomes a portion of the
In other circumstances Eliot would have obeyed his impulses, and
endeavoured to dissolve the spell for his friend; but he was deterred
by the consciousness of disappointment that his sister was so soon
superseded, and by his secret wish that Linwood should remain free till
a more auspicious day should rectify all mischances. Happily,
Providence sometimes interposes to do that for us which we neglect to
do for ourselves.
As has been said, Linwood devoted every leisure hour to Helen
Ruthven. Sometimes accompanied by Charlotte and Eliot, but oftener
without them, they visited the almost unattainable heights, the springs
and waterfalls, in the neighbourhood of West Point, now so well known
to summer travellers that we have no apology for lingering to describe
them. They scaled the coal-black summits of the "Devil's Peak;" went as
far heavenward as the highest height of the "Crow's Nest;" visited
"Bull-Hill, Butter-Hill, and Break-neck,"—places that must have been
named long before our day of classic, heathenish, picturesque, and most
ambitious christening of this new world.
Helen Ruthven did not affect this scrambling "thorough bush,
thorough brier," through streamlet, snow, and mud, from a pure love of
nature. Oh, no, simple reader! but because at her home in the glen
there was but one parlour—there, from morning till bedtime, sat her
father—there, of course, must sit her mother; and Miss Ruthven's
charms, like those of other conjurers, depended for their success on
being exercised within a magic circle, within which no observer might
come. She seemed to live and breathe alone for Herbert Linwood. A
hundred times he was on the point of offering the devotion of his life
to her, when the image of his long-loved Bessie Lee rose before him,
and, like the timely intervention of the divinities of the ancient
creed, saved him from impending danger.This could not last much longer.
On each successive occasion the image was less vivid, and must soon
cease to be effective.
Spring was advancing, and active military operations were about to
commence. A British sloopof-war had come up the river, and lay at
anchor in Haverstraw Bay. Simultaneously with the appearance of this
vessel there was a manifest change in the spirits of the family at the
glen—a fall in their mercury. Though they were still kind, their
reception of our friends ceased to be cordial, and they were no longer
urged, or even asked, to repeat their visits. Charlotte, who, like her
father, was warm and true-hearted, ventured to intimate that this
change of manner did not originate in any diminution of friendliness;
but, save this, there was no approach to an explanation; and Eliot
ceased to pay visits that, it was obvious, were no longer acceptable.
The mystery, as he thought, was explained, when they incidentally
learned that Captain Ruthven, the only son of their friend, was an
officer on board the vessel anchored in Haverstraw Bay. This solution
did not satisfy Linwood. "How, in Heaven's name," he asked, "should
that affect their intercourse with us? It might, to be sure, agitate
them; but, upon my word, I don't believe they even know it;" and, in
the simplicity of his heart, he forthwith set off to give them
information of the fact. Mr. Ruthven told him, frankly and at once,
that he was already aware of it,—andHelen scrawled on a music-book
which lay before them, "Do you remember Hamlet? 'ten thousand
brothers!' " What she exactly meant was not plain; but he guessed her
intimation to be, that ten thousand brothers and their love were not to
be weighed against him. Notwithstanding this kind intimation, he saw
her thenceforth unfrequently. If he called, she was not at home; if she
made an appointment with him, she sent him some plausible excuse for
not keeping it; and if they met, she was silent and abstracted, and no
longer kept up a show of the passion that a few weeks before had
inspired her words, looks, and movements. Herbert was not destined to
be one of love's few martyrs; and he was fast reverting to a sound
state, only retarded by the mystery in which the affair was still
involved. Since the beginning of his intercourse with the family, his
Sunday evenings had been invariably spent at the glen; and now he
received a note from Miss Ruthven (not, as had been her wont, crossed
and double-crossed), containing two lines, saying her father was ill,
and as she was obliged to attend him, she regretted to beg Mr. Linwood
to omit his usual Sunday evening visit! Linwood had a lurking
suspicion—he was just beginning to suspect—that this was a mere
pretext; and he resolved to go to the glen, ostensibly to inquire after
Mr. Ruthven, but really to satisfy his doubts. It was early in the
evening when he reached there. The cheerfullight that usually shot
forth its welcome from the parlour window was gone—all was darkness.
"I was a rascal to distrust her!" thought Linwood, and he hastened on,
fearing good Mr. Ruthven was extremely ill. As he approached the house
he perceived that, for the first time, the window-shutters were closed,
and that a bright light gleamed through their crevices. He put his hand
on the latch of the door to open it, as was his custom, without
rapping; but no longer, as if instinct with the hospitality of the
house, did it yield to his touch. It was bolted! He hesitated for a
moment whether to knock for admittance, and endeavour to satisfy his
curiosity, or to return as wise as he came. His delicacy decided on the
latter course; and he was turning away, when a sudden gust of wind blew
open one of the rickety blinds, and instinctively he looked through the
window, and for a moment was riveted by the scene disclosed within. Mr.
Ruthven sat at a table on which were bottles of wine, olives, oranges,
and other most rare luxuries. Beside him sat a young man—his younger
self. Linwood did not need a second glance to assure him this was
Captain Ruthven. On a stool at her brother's feet sat Charlotte, her
arm lovingly resting on his knee. Mrs. Ruthven was at the other
extremity of the table, examining, with enraptured eye, caps, feathers,
and flowers, which, as appeared from the boxes and cords beside her,
had just been opened.
But the parties that fixed Linwood's attention were Helen Ruthven
and a very handsome young man, who was leaning over her chair while she
was playing on the piano, and bestowing on him those wondrous glances
that Linwood had verily believed never met an eye but his! What a
sudden disenchantment was that! Linwood's blood rushed to his head. He
stood as if he were transfixed, till a sudden movement within recalling
him to himself, he sprang from the steps and retraced his way up the
hill-side:—the spell that had wellnigh bound him to Helen Ruthven was
broken for ever. No man likes to be duped,—no man likes to feel how
much his own vanity has had to do with preparing the trap that insnared
him. Linwood, after revolving the past, after looking back upon the
lures and deceptions that had been practised upon him, after comparing
his passion for Helen Ruthven with his sentiments for Bessie Lee, came
to the consoling conclusion that he had never loved Miss Ruthven. He
was right—and that night, for the first time in many weeks, he fell
asleep thinking of Bessie Lee.
On the following morning Linwood confided to Eliot the denœument of
his little romance. Eliot was rejoiced that his friend's illusion
should be dispelled in any mode. After some discussion of the matter,
they came to the natural conclusion that a clandestine intercourse had
been for some time maintained by the family at the glen withthe
strangers on board the sloop-of-war, and that there were reasons for
shaking Linwood and Eliot off more serious than Linwood's flirtation
having been superseded by a fresher and more exciting one.
In the course of the morning Eliot, in returning from a ride, at a
sudden turn in the road came upon General Washington and Mr. Ruthven,
who had just met. Eliot was making his passing salutation when General
Washington said, "Stop a moment, Mr. Lee, we will ride in together."
While Eliot paused, he heard Mr. Ruthven say, "You will not disappoint
me, general,—Wednesday evening, and a quiet hour—not with hat and
whip in hand, but time enough to drink a fair bottle of 'Helicon,' as
poor Randolph used to call it—there are but two left, and we shall
ne'er look upon its like again. Wednesday evening— remember." General
Washington assented, and the parties were separating, when Mr. Ruthven,
in his cordial manner, stretched out his hand to Eliot, saying, "My
dear fellow, I should ask you too; but the general and I are old
friends, and I want a little talk with him, by ourselves, of old times.
Besides, no man, minus forty, must have a drop of my 'Helicon;' but
come down soon and see the girls,—they are Helicon enough for you
young fellows, hey?"
As Mr. Ruthven rode away, "There goes," said General Washington,
"as true-hearted a man asever breathed. We were born on neighbouring
plantations. Our fathers and grandfathers were friends. Our hearts were
cemented in our youth, or at least in my youth, for he is much my
elder, but his is a heart always fusible. Poor man, he has had much
ill-luck in life; but the worst, and the worst, let me tell you, my
young friend, that can befall any man, was an ill-starred marriage. His
wife is the daughter of a good-for-nothing Frenchman; bad blood, Mr.
Lee. The children show the cross—I beg Miss Charlotte's pardon, she is
a nice girl, fair Virginia stock; but Miss Helen is— very like her
mother. The son I do not know; but his fighting against his country is
primâ facie evidence against him."
The conversation then diverged to other topics. There was in Eliot
that union of good sense, keen intelligence, manliness, and modesty,
that excited Washington's esteem, and drew him out; and Eliot had the
happiness, for a half hour, of hearing him whom of all men he most
honoured, talk freely, and of assuring himself that this great man did
not, as was sometimes said of him,
"A wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
but that his taciturnity was the result of profound thought,
anxiously employed on the most serious subjects.
Late in the afternoon of the same day, Linwoodreceived a note from
Helen Ruthven, enclosing one to General Washington, of which, after
entreating him to deliver it immediately, she thus explained the
purport. "It contains a simple request to your mighty
commander-in-chief, to permit me to visit my brother on board his
vessel. I know that Washington's heart is as hard as Pharaoh's, and as
unrelenting as Brutus's; still it is not, it cannot be in man to refuse
such a request to the daughter of an old friend. Do, dear, kind
Linwood, urge it for me, and win the everlasting gratitude of your
unworthy but always devoted friend, Helen Ruthven."
"Urge it!" exclaimed Linwood, as he finished the note, "urge
General Washington! I should as soon think of urging the sun to go
backward or forward; but I'll present it for you, my 'devoted friend,
Helen,' and in merely doing that my heart will be in my mouth."
He obtained an audience. General Washington read the note, and
turning to Linwood, asked him if he knew its purport.
"Yes, sir," replied Linwood, "and I cannot," he ventured to add,
"but hope you will find it fitting to gratify a desire so natural."
"Perfectly natural; Miss Ruthven tells me she has not seen her
brother for four years." Linwood felt his honest blood rush to his face
at this flat falsehood from his friend Helen. Washington perceived the
suffusion and misinterpreted it. "You think it a hard case, Mr.
Linwood; it is so, but there are many hard cases in this unnatural war.
It grieves me to refuse Helen Ruthven— the child of my good friend."
He passed his eye again over the note, and there was an expression of
displeasure and contempt in his curling lip as he read such expressions
as the following: "I cannot be disappointed, for I am addressing one
who unites all virtues, whose mercy even surpasses his justice."—"I
write on my knees to him who is the minister of Providence, dispensing
good and evil, light and blessing, with a word." General Washington
threw down the note, saying, "Miss Ruthven should remember that
flattery corrupts the giver as well as the receiver. I have no choice
in this matter. We have an inflexible rule prohibiting all intercourse
with the enemy."
He then wrote a concise reply, which Linwood sent to the lady in a
"Ah!" thought Helen Ruthven, as she opened it, "this would not have
been blank three weeks ago, mais n'importe. Mr. Herbert Linwood, you
may run free now; I have nobler prey in my toils." She unsealed General
Washington's note, and after glancing her eye over it, she tore it into
fragments and dispersed it to the winds, exclaiming, "I'll risk my life
to carry my point; and if I do, I'll humble you, and have a glorious
She spent a sleepless night in contriving, revolving, and
dismissing plans on which, as she fancied,the destiny of the nation
hung, and, what was far more important in her eyes, Helen Ruthven's
destiny. She at last adopted the boldest that had occurred, and which,
from being the boldest, best suited her dauntless temper.
The next morning, Tuesday, with her mother's aid and applause, she
effected her preparations; and having fortunately learned, during her
residence on the river, to row and manage a boat, she embarked alone in
a little skiff, and stealing out of a nook near the glen, she rowed
into the current and dropped down the river. She did not expect to
escape observation, for though the encampment did not command a view of
the Hudson, there were sentinels posted at points that overlooked it,
and batteries that commanded its passage. But rightly calculating on
the general humanity that governed our people, she had no apprehensions
they would fire on a defenceless woman, and very little fear that they
would think it worth while to pursue her, to prevent that which she
dared to do before their eyes and in the face of day.
Her calculations proved just. The sentinels levelled their guns at
her, in token not to proceed; and she in return dropped her head,
raised her hands deprecatingly, and passed on unmolested.
At a short distance below the Point there is a remarkable spot,
scooped out by nature in the rocky bank, always beautiful, and now a
consecrated shrine—a "Mecca of the mind." On the memorable morning of
Miss Ruthven's enterprise, the welcome beams of the spring sun, as he
rose in the heavens, casting behind him a soft veil of light clouds,
shone on the gray rocks, freshening herbage, and still disrobed trees
of this lovely recess. From crevices in the perpendicular rocks that
wall up the table-land above, hung a sylvan canopy; cedars, studded
with their blue berries, wild raspberries, and wild rose-bushes; and
each moist and sunny nook was gemmed with violets and wild geraniums.
The harmonies of nature's orchestra were the only and the fitting
sounds in this seclusion: the early wooing of the birds; the water from
the fountains of the heights, that, filtering through the rocks,
dropped from ledge to ledge with the regularity of a water-clock; the
ripple of the waves as they broke on the rocky points of the shore, or
softly kissed its pebbly margin; and the voice of the tiny stream,
that, gliding down a dark, deep, and almost hidden channel in the
rocks, disappeared, and welled up again in the centre of the turfy
slope, stole over it, and trickled down the lower ledge of granite to
the river. Tradition has named this little green shelf on the rocks
"Kosciusko's Garden;" but as no traces have been discovered of any
other than nature's plantings, it was probably merely his favourite
retreat, and as such is a monument of his taste and love of nature.
The spring is now enclosed in a marble basin,and inscribed with his
name who then lay extended beside it: Kosciusko, the patriot of his own
country, the friend of ours, the philanthropist of all, the enemy only
of those aliens from the human family who are the tyrants of their
kind. An unopen book lay beside him, while, gazing up through the
willows that drooped over the fountain, he perused that surpassing book
of nature, informed by the spirit and written by the finger of God—a
Book of revelations of his wisdom, and power, and goodness.
Suddenly his musings were disturbed by approaching footsteps; and
looking up, he saw Linwood and Eliot winding down the steep pathway
between the piled rocks. He had scarcely exchanged salutations with
them, when the little boat in which Helen Ruthven was embarked shot out
from behind the dark ledge that bounded their upward view of the river.
They sprang forward to the very edge of the sloping ground. Helen
Ruthven would most gladly have escaped their observation, but that she
perceived was impossible; and making the very best of her dilemma, she
tossed her head exultingly, and waved her handkerchief. The young men
instinctively returned her greeting. "A gallant creature, by Heaven!"
exclaimed the Pole; "God speed you, my girl!" And when Linwood told him
who she was, and her enterprise, so far as he thought fit to disclose
it, he reiterated, "Again then, I say, God speed her! The sweetest
affections of nature should be free as this gushing rill, that the
rocks and the earth can't keep back; I am glad when they throw off the
shackles imposed by the cruel but inevitable laws of war." They
continued to gaze after the boat till it turned and disappeared with
the river in its winding passage through the mountains.
On Wednesday morning it appeared that the sloop-of-war had changed
her position, and approached as nearly to West Point as was possible
without coming within the range of its guns. "I am convinced," said
Linwood to Eliot, taking up the thread of conversation where they had
dropped it the day before, "I am convinced there is a plot brewing."
"I am apprehensive of it too. Our obvious duty, Linwood, is to go
to General Washington, and tell him all we know of the Ruthvens."
"My service to you!—no, he is the wariest of human beings, and has
grounds enough for suspicion without our prompting. Can't he put this
and that together—the old man's pressing invitation, Helen's flight,
and the movement of the vessel?"
"Ah, if his suspicions were excited, as ours are, by previous
circumstances, these would suffice; but he has entire confidence in his
old friend; he is uninformed of the strong tory predilections of the
whole family; and, though he does not likeHelen Ruthven, he has no
conception of what we have tolerable proof, that she has the talents of
a regular bred French intriguer. Besides, as the fact of your having
seen those men at the glen proves the practicability of their visiting
it again, the general should certainly be apprized of it.''
"No, Eliot, I'll not consent to it—this is my game, and I must
control it. It is a violation of the Arab bread-and-salt rule, to
communicate that which was obtained by our friendly intimacy at the
"I think you are wrong, Linwood; it is a case where an inferior
obligation should yield to a superior one."
"I don't comprehend your metaphysical reasoning, Eliot; I govern
myself by the obligations I feel."
"By the dictates of your conscience, my dear fellow? so do I;
therefore I shall go immediately to the general, with or without you."
"Not with me—no, I'll not tell him what I know, that's flat; and
as to being questioned and cross-questioned by him, heavens and earth!
when he but bends his awful brow upon me, I feel as if my heart were
turning inside out. No, I'll not go near him. Why can't we write an
"I do not like anonymous letters—my course appears plain to me, so
good morning to you."
"One moment, Eliot—remember, not a word of what I saw through the
window at the glen."
"Certainly not, if you insist." Eliot then went to the general's
markee, and was told he would see him in two hours. Eliot returned at
the precise moment, and was admitted. "You are punctual, Mr. Lee," said
the commander, "and I thank you for it. A young man should be as exact
in military life as the play requires the lover to be! 'he should not
break a part of the thousandth part of a minute.' Your business, sir?"
Eliot was beginning to disclose it, when they were interrupted by a
servant, who handed General Washington a note. A single involuntary
glance at the superscription assured Eliot it was from Linwood. General
Washington opened it, and looked first for the signature, as one
naturally does at receiving a letter in an unknown hand. "Anonymous!"
he said; and refolding without reading a word of it, he lighted it in a
candle, still burning on the desk where he had been sealing letters,
and suffered it to consume; saying, "This is the way I now serve all
anonymous letters, Mr. Lee. Men in public life are liable to receive
many such communications, and to have their minds disturbed, and
sometimes poisoned, by them. They are the resort of the cowardly or the
malignant. An honest man will sustain by his name what he thinks proper
"There is no rule of universal application to theversatile mind of
man," thought Eliot, and his heart burned to justify his friend; when
the general reminding him they had no time to lose, he proceeded
concisely to state his apprehensions and their grounds. Washington
listened to him without interruption, but not without an appaling
change of countenance. "I have heard you through, Mr. Lee," he said;
"your apprehensions are perhaps natural; at any rate, I thank you for
frankly communicating them to me; but, be assured, your suspicions have
no foundation. Do you think such vile treachery could be plotted by a
Virginian, my neighbour, my friend of thirty years, my father's friend,
when all the grievous trials of this war have not produced a single
traitor? No, no, Mr. Lee, I would venture my life—my country, on the
cast of Ruthven's integrity. If I do not lightly give my confidence, I
do not lightly withdraw it; and once withdrawn it is never restored."
Eliot left Washington's presence, half convinced himself that his
suspicions were unfounded. It never occurred to Washington or to Eliot
that there might be a conspiracy without Mr. Ruthven being a party to
it, and the supposition that he was so invalidated all the evidences of
In the afternoon Kisel asked leave to avail himself of a permit
which Eliot had obtained for him, to go on the opposite side of the
river to a little brook, whence he had often brought a mess of trout
for the officers' table; for our friend Kisel was skilled in the craft
of angling, and might have served Cruikshank for an illustration of
Johnson's definition of the word, "a fishing-rod, with a bait at one
end and a fool at the other;" but happily, as it proved, our fool had
some "subtlety in his simplicity." Eliot gave him the permission, with
directions to row up to the glen when he returned, and await him there.
Eliot determined to go to the glen, and station himself on the
margin of the river, where, in case (a chance that seemed to him at
least possible) of the approach of an enemy's boat, he should descry it
in time to give Washington warning. He went in search of Linwood, to
ask him to accompany him; but Linwood was nowhere to be found. He
deliberated whether to communicate his apprehensions to some other
officer. The confidence the general had manifested had nearly
dissipated his apprehensions, and he feared to do what might appear
like officiousness, or like a distrust of Washington's prudence; that
virtue, which, to remain, as it then was, the bulwark of his country's
safety, must continue unsuspected.
Eliot in his anxiety had reached the glen while it was yet
daylight; and, careful to escape observation, he stole along the little
strip of pebbly beach where a mimic bay sets in, and seated himself on
a pile of rocks, the extreme point of a hill that descends abruptly to
the Hudson. Here the river,hemmed in by the curvatures of the
mountains, has the appearance of a lake; for the passage is so narrow
and winding through which it forces its way, that the eye scarcely
detects it. Eliot for a while forgot the tediousness of his watch in
looking around him. The mountains at the entrance of the Hudson into
the highlands, which stand like giant sentinels jealously guarding the
narrow portal, appeared, whence he saw them, like a magnificent
framework to a beautiful picture. An April shower had just passed over,
and the mist was rolling away like the soft folds of a curtain from the
village of Newburgh, which looked like the abode of all "country
contentments," as the setting sun shone cheerily on its gentle slopes
and white houses, contrasting it with the stern features of the
mountains. Far in the distance, the Catskills, belted by clouds,
appeared as if their blue heads were suspended in the atmosphere and
mingling with the sky, from which an eye familiar with their beautiful
outline could alone distinguish them. But the foreground of his picture
was most interesting to Eliot; and as his eye again fell on the little
glen sleeping in the silvery arms of the rills between which it lies—
"can this place," he thought, "so steeped in nature's loveliness, so
enshrined in her temple, be the abode of treachery! It has been of
heartlessness, coquetry, duplicity—ah, there is no power in nature, in
the outward world, to convert thebad—blessings it has; blessings
manifold, for the good."
The spirit of man, alone in nature's solitudes, is an instrument
which she manages at will; and Eliot, in his deepening seriousness and
anxiety, felt himself answering to her changing aspect. The young
foliage of the well-wooded little knoll that rises over the glen had
looked fresh and feathery, and as bright as an infant awaking to happy
consciousness; but as the sun withdrew its beams, it appeared as dreary
as if it had parted from a smiling friend. And when the last gleams of
day had stolen up the side of the Crow's Nest, shot over the summit of
Break-neck, flushed the clouds and disappeared, and the wavy lines and
natural terraces beyond Cold Spring, and the mass of rocks and pines of
Constitution Island. were wrapped in sadcoloured uniform, Eliot shrunk
from the influence of the general desolateness, and became impatient of
his voluntary watch.
One after another the kindly-beaming homelights shot forth from
hill and valley, and Eliot's eye catching that which flashed from Mr.
Ruthven's window, he determined on a reconnoitre; and passing in front
of the house he saw Washington and his host seated at a table, served
with wine and nuts, but none of those tropical luxuries that had been
manifestly brought to the glen by the stranger-guests from the
sloop-of-war. Eliot's heart gladdened at seeing the friends enjoyingone
of those smooth and delicious passages that sometimes vary the
ruggedest path of life. That expression of repelling and immoveable
gravity, that look of tension (with him the bow was always strained)
that characterized Washington's face, had vanished like a cloud; and it
now serenely reflected the social affections (bright and gentle
spirits!) that, for the time, mastered his perplexing cares. He was
retracing the period of his boyhood; a period, however, cloudy in its
passage, always bright when surveyed over the shoulder. He recalled his
first field-sports, in which Ruthven had been his companion and
teacher; and they laughingly reviewed many an accident by flood and
field. "No wonder," thought Eliot, as in passing he glanced at
Ruthven's honest, jocund face; "no wonder Washington would not distrust
Eliot returned to his post. The stars had come out, and looked down
coldly and dimly through a hazy atmosphere. The night was becoming
obscure. A mist was rising; and shortly after a heavy fog covered the
surface of the river. Eliot wondered that Kisel had not made his
appearance; for, desultory as the fellow was, he was as true to his
master as the magnet to the pole. Darkness is a wonderful magnifier of
apprehended danger; and, as it deepened, Eliot felt as if enemies were
approaching from every quarter. Listening intently, he heard a distant
sound of oars. He was all ear. "Thank Heaven!" he exclaimed, "it is
Kisel—a single pair of oars, and his plashy irregular dip!" In a few
moments he was discernible; and nearing the shore, he jumped upon the
rock where Eliot stood, crying out exultingly, "I've dodged 'em, hey!"
"Softly, Kisel; who have you dodged?"
"Them red birds in their borrowed feathers. Cheat me? No. Can't I
tell them that chops, and reaps, and mows, and thrashes, from them that
only handles a sword or a gun, let 'em put on what ev'yday clothes they
"Tell me, Kisel, plainly and quickly, what you mean."
A command from Eliot, uttered in a tone of even slight displeasure,
had a marvellous effect in steadying Kisel's wits; and he answered with
tolerable clearness and precision:—"I was cutting 'cross lots before
sunset with a mess of trout, long as my arm—shiners! when I stumbled
on a bunch of fellows squatted 'mong high bushes. They held me by the
leg, and said they'd come down with provisions for Square Ruthven's
folks; and they had not got a pass, and so must wait for nightfall; and
they'd have me stay and guide 'em across, for they knew they might
ground at low water if they did not get the right track. I mistrusted
'em. I knew by their tongues they came from below; and so I cried, and
told 'em I should get a whipping if I didn't get home afore sundown;
and one of 'em held a pistol to my head, loaded, primed, andcocked, and
told me he'd shoot my brains out if I didn't do as he bid me. 'Lo'd o'
massy!' says I, 'don't shoot—'twon't do any good, for I hant got no
brains, hey!' "
"Never mind what you said or they said; what did you do?"
"I didn't do nothing. They held me fast till night; and then they
pushed their boat out of a kind o' hiding-place, and come alongside
mine, and put me into it, and told me to pilot 'em. You know that sandy
strip a bit off t'other shore? I knew my boat would swim over it like a
cob,—and I guessed they'd swamp, and they did; diddle me if they
"Are they there now?"
"There! not if they've the wit of sucking turkeys. The river there
is not deep enough to drown a dead dog, and they might jump in and pull
the boat out."
A slight westerly breeze was now rising, which lifted and wafted
the fog so that half the width of the river was suddenly unveiled, and
Eliot descried a boat making towards the glen. "By Heaven! there they
are!" he exclaimed; "follow me, Kisel;" and without entering the house,
he ran to the stable close by. Fortunately, often having had occasion,
during his visits at the glen, to bestow his own horse, he was familiar
with the "whereabouts;" and in one instant General Washington's charger
was bridled and at thedoor, held by Kisel; while Eliot rushed into the
house, and in ten words communicated the danger and the means of
escape. General Washington said not a word till, as he sprang on the
horse, Ruthven, on whose astounded mind the truth dawned, exclaimed, "I
am innocent." He replied, "I believe you."
Washington immediately galloped up the steep imbowered road to the
Point. Eliot hesitated for a moment, doubting whether to attempt a
retreat or remain where he was, when Mr. Ruthven grasped his arm,
exclaiming, "Stay, for God's sake, Mr. Lee; stay, and witness to my
innocence." The imploring agony with which he spoke would have
persuaded a more inflexible person than Eliot Lee. In truth, there was
little use in attempting to fly, for the footsteps of the party were
already heard approaching the house. They entered, five armed men, and
were laying their hands on Eliot, when Mr. Ruthven's frantic gestures,
and his shouts of "He's safe—he's safe—he's escaped ye!" revealed to
them the truth; and they perceived what in their impetuosity they had
over looked, that they held an unknown young man in their grasp instead
of the priceless Washington! Deep were the oaths they swore as they
dispersed to search the premises, all excepting one young man, whose
arm Mr. Ruthven had grasped, and to whom he said, "Harry, you've ruined
me—you've made me a traitor in the eyes of Washington—thebasest
traitor! He said, God bless him! that he believed me innocent; but he
will not when he reflects that it was I who invited him—who pressed
him to come here this evening—the conspiracy seems
evident—undeniable! Oh, Harry, Harry, you and your mad sister have
The young man seemed deeply affected by his father's emotion. He
attempted to justify himself on the plea that he dared not set his
filial feeling against the importance of ending the war by a single
stroke; but this plea neither convinced nor consoled his father. Young
Ruthven's associates soon returned, having abandoned their search, and
announced the necessity of their immediate return to the boat. "You
must go with us, sir," said Ruthven to his father; "for, blameless as
you are, you will be treated by the rebels as guilty of treason."
"By Heaven, Harry, I'll not go. I had rather die a thousand
deaths—on the gallows, if I must— I'll not budge a foot."
"He must go—there is no alternative—you must aid me," said young
Ruthven to his companions. They advanced to seize his father. "Off—
off!" he cried, struggling against them. "I'll not go a living man."
Eliot interposed; and addressing himself to young Ruthven, said,
"Believe me, sir, you are mistaking your duty. Your father's good name
must be dearer to you than his life; and his good name is blasted for
ever if in these circumstances he leaves here. But his life is in no
danger —none whatever—he is in the hands of his friend, and that
friend the most generous, as well as just, of all human beings. You
misunderstand the temper of General Washington, if you think he would
believe your father guilty of the vilest treachery without damning
proof." Young Ruthven was more than half convinced by Eliot, and his
companions had by this time become impatient of delay. Their spirit had
gone with the hope that inspired their enterprise, and they were now
only anxious to secure a retreat to their vessel. They had some little
debate among themselves whether they should make Eliot prisoner; but,
on young Ruthven's suggestion that Lieutenant Lee's testimony might be
important to his father, they consented to leave him—one of them
expressing in a whisper the prevailing sentiment, "We should feel
sheepish enough to gain but a paltry knight when we expected a
checkmate by our move."
In a few moments more they were off; but not till young Ruthven had
vainly tried to get a kind parting word from his father. "No, Harry,"
he said, "I'll not forgive you—I can't; you've put my honour in
jeopardy—no, never;" and as his son turned sorrowfully away, he added,
"Never, Hal, till this cursed war is at an end."
Early next morning Eliot Lee requested an audience of Washington,
and was immediatelyadmitted, and most cordially received. "Think God,
my dear young friend," he said, "you are safe, and here. I sent
repeatedly to your lodgings last night, and hearing nothing, I have
been exceedingly anxious. Satisfy me on one point, and then tell me
what happened after my forced retreat. I trust in Heaven this affair is
Eliot assured him he had not spoken of it to a human being—not
even to Linwood; and that he had enjoined strict secrecy on Kisel, on
whose obedience he could rely.
"Thank you—thank you, Mr. Lee," said Washington, with a warmth
startling from him, "I should have expected this from you—the generous
devotion of youth, and the coolness and prudence of ripe age—a rare
Such words from him who never flattered and rarely praised, might
well, as they did, make the blood gush from the heart to the cheeks. "I
am most grateful for this approbation, sir," said Eliot.
"Grateful! Would to Heaven I had some return to make for the
immense favour you have done me, beside words; but the importance of
keeping the affair secret precludes all other return. I think it will
not transpire from the enemy,—they are not like to publish a baffled
enterprise. I am most particularly pleased that you went alone to the
glen. In this instance I almost agree with Cardinal de Retz, who says,
'he held men in greater esteem for what they forbore to do thanfor what
they did.' I now see where I erred yesterday. It did not occur to me
that there could be a plot without my friend being accessory to it. I
did not err in trusting him. This war has cost me dear; but, thank
Heaven, it has not shaken, but fortified, my confidence in human
virtue!" Washington then proceeded to inquire into the occurrences at
the glen after he left there, and ended with giving Eliot a note to
deliver to Mr. Ruthven, which proved a healing balm to the good man's
Our revolutionary contest, by placing men in new relations, often
exhibited in new force and beauty the ties that bind together the human
family. Sometimes, it is true, they were lightly snapped asunder, but
oftener they manifested an all-resisting force, and a union that, as in
some chymical combinations, no test could dissolve.
"Our will we can command. The effects of our actions we cannot
Herbert Linwood to his Sister.
"July 30th, 1779. "Dearest Belle,
—I write under the inspiration of the agreeable consciousness that
my letter may pass under the sublime eye of your commander-in-chief, or
be scanned and sifted by his underlings. I wish to Heaven that, without
endangering your bright orbs, I could infuse some retributive virtue
into my ink to strike them blind. But the deuse take them. I defy their
oversight. I am not discreet enough to be trusted with military or
political secrets, and therefore, like Hotspur's Kate, I can betray
none. As to my own private affairs, though I do not flatter myself I
have attained a moral eminence which I may challenge the world to
survey, yet I'll expose nothing to you, dear Belle, whose opinion I
care more for than that of king, lords, and commons, which the whole
world may not know without your loving brother being dishonoured
thereby: so, on in my usual 'streak o' lightning style,' with facts and
"You have before this seen the official account of our successful
attack on Stony Point, and have doubtless been favoured with the
additional light of Rivington's comments, your veritable editor. These
thralls of party editors! The light they emit is like that of
conjurers, intended to produce false impressions.
"Do not imagine I am going to send you a regular report of the
battle. With all due deference to your superior mental faculties, my
dear, you are but a woman, and these concernments of 'vile guns' must
for ever remain mysteries to you. But, Belle, I'll give you the romance
of the affair—'thy vocation, Hal.'
"My friend Eliot Lee has a vein of quixotism, that reminds me of
the inflammable gas I have seen issuing from a cool healthy spring.
Doctor Kissam, you know, used to say every man had his insanity.
Eliot's appears in his affection for a half-witted follower, one Kisel;
the oddest fellow in this world. His life is a series of consecutive
accidents, of good and bad luck.
"On the 10th he had been out on the other side of the river,
vagrantizing in his usual fashion, and returning late to his little
boat, and, as we suspect, having fallen asleep, he drifted ashore at
Stony Point. There he came upon the fort, and a string of trout (which
he is seldom without) serving him as a passport, he was admitted within
the walls, His simplicity, unique and inimitable, shielded himfrom
suspicion, and a certain inspiration which seems always to come direct
from Heaven at the moment of his necessity, saved him from betraying
the fact that he belonged to our army, and he was suffered to depart in
peace. The observations he made (he is often acute) were of course
communicated to his master, and by him made available to our
enterprise. Eliot and myself were among the volunteers. He, profiting
by Kisel's hints, guided us safely through some 'sloughs of despond.'
With all his skill, we had a killing scramble over pathless mountains,
and through treacherous swamps, under a burning sun, the mercury
ranging somewhere between one and two hundred, so that my sal volatile
blood seemed to have exhaled in vapour, and my poor body to be a
burning coal, whose next state would be ashes.
"Our General Wayne (you will understand his temper from his nom de
guerre, 'mad Anthony') had ordered us to advance with unloaded muskets
and fixed bayonets. He was above all things anxious to avoid an
accidental discharge, which might alarm the garrison. At eight in the
evening we were within a mile and a half of the fort, and there the
detachment halted; while Wayne, with Eliot and some other officers,
went to reconnoitre. They had approached within gunshot of the works,
when poor Kisel, who away from Eliot is like an unweaned child, and who
had been all day wandering in search of him, suddenly emerged from
thewood, and in a paroxysm of joy discharged his musket. Wayne sprang
forward, and would have transfixed him with his bayonet, had not Eliot
thrown himself before Kisel, and turned aside Wayne's arm: some angry
words followed, but it ended in the general leaving Kisel to be managed
by Eliot's discretion. The general's displeasure, however, against
Eliot, did not subside at once.
"When the moment for attack came, I felt myself shivering, not with
fear, no, 'franchement' (as our old teacher Dubois used to say on the
few occasions when he meant to tell the truth), franchement, not with
fear, but with the recollection of my father's last words to me. The
uncertain chances of a fierce contest were before me, and my father's
curse rung in my ears like the voices that turned the poor wretches in
the Arabian tale into stone. Once in the fight, it was forgotten; all
men are bulldogs then, and think of nothing past or to come.
"They opened a tremendous fire upon us; it was the dead of night,
Belle, and rather a solemn time, I assure you. Our commander was
wounded by a musket ball: he fell, and instantly rising on one knee, he
cried, 'Forward, my brave boys, forward.' The gallant shout gave us a
new impulse; and we rushed forward, while Eliot Lee, with that singular
blending of cool courage and generosity which marks him, paused and
assisted the general's aid in bearing him on, in compliance with the
wishhe had expressed (believing himself mortally wounded), that he
might die in the fort. Thank God, he survived; and being as magnanimous
as he is brave, he reported to the commander-in-chief Eliot's gallantry
and good conduct throughout the whole affair, and particularly dwelt on
the aid he had given him, after having received from him injurious
epithets. In consequence of all this, Eliot is advanced to the rank of
captain. Luck is a lord, Belle; I would fain have distinguished myself,
but I merely, like the rest, performed my part honourably, for which I
received the thanks of General Washington, and got my name blazoned in
the report to Congress.
"I hear that Helen Ruthven is dashing away in New-York, not, as I
expected, after her romantic departure hence, as the honourable Mrs.
O—. Well! all kind vestals guard her! Heaven knows she needs their
vigilance. Rumour says, too, that you are shortly to vow allegiance to
my royalist friend. God bless you! my dear sister. If it were true
(alas! nothing is more false) that matches are made in Heaven, I know
who would be your liege-lord. Another match there was, that in my
boyhood—my boyhood! my youth, my maturity, I believed Heaven had
surely made. It is a musty proverb, that. Farewell, Belle; kiss my dear
mother for me, and tell her I would not have her, like the old Scotch
woman, pray for our side, 'right or wrong,' but let her pray for the
right side, and then her poor son will be sure to prosper. Oh, would
that I could, without violating my duty to my country, throw myself at
my father's feet. His loyalty is not truer to King George, than mine to
"Dearest Belle, may Heaven reunite us all.
"Yours, H. Linwood. "P. S.—Kind love, don't forge it, to Rose."
A day or two after Herbert's letter was despatched, Eliot received
a summons from Washington; and on his appearing before him, the general
said, "I have important business to be transacted in New-York, Captain
Lee. I have despatches to transmit to Sir Henry Clinton. My agent must
be intrusted with discretionary powers. An expedition to New-York, even
with the protection of a flag of truce, is hazardous. The intervening
country is infested with outlaws, who respect no civilized usages. My
emissary must be both intrepid and prudent. I have therefore selected
you. Will you accept the mission?"
"Most gratefully, sir—but—"
"But what? if you have scruples, name them."
"None in the world, sir; on my own account I should be most happy,
but I should be still happier if the office might be assigned to
Linwood. It would afford him the opportunity he pines for, of seeing
"That is a reason, if there were no other, why Captain Linwood
should not go. Some embarrassmentmight arise. Your friend has not the
coolness essential in exigencies."
Eliot well knew that Washington was not a man with whom to bandy
arguments, and he at once declared himself ready to discharge, to the
best of his ability, whatever duty should be imposed on him; and it was
settled that he should depart as soon as his instructions could be made
Eliot soon after met Linwood, and communicated his intended
expedition. "You are always under a lucky star," said Linwood; "I would
have given all I am worth for this appointment."
"And you certainly should have it if it were mine to bestow."
"I do not doubt it, not in the least; but is it not hard? Eliot, I
am such a light-hearted wretch, for the most part, that you really have
no conception how miserable my father's displeasure makes me. I don't
understand how it is. The laws of Heaven are harmonious, and certainly
my conscience acquits me, yet I suffer most cruelly for my breach of
filial obedience. If I could but see my father, eye to eye, I am sure I
could persuade him to recall that curse, that rings in my ears even now
like a death-knell. Oh, one half hour in New-York would be my
salvation! The sight of Belle and my mother would be heaven to me!
Don't laugh at me, Eliot," he continued, wiping his eyes, "I am a calf
when I think of them all."
"Laugh at you, Linwood! I could cry with joy if I could give my
place to you; as it is, I must hasten my preparations. I have obtained
leave to take Kisel with me."
"Kisel! heaven forefend, Eliot. Do you know what ridicule such a
valet-de-place as Kisel will call down on your head from those lordly
"Yes, I have thought of that, and it would be sheer affectation to
pretend to be indifferent to it; but I can bear it. Providence has cast
Kisel upon my protection, and if I leave him he will be sure to run his
witless head into some scrape that will give me ten times more trouble
than his attendance."
"Well, as you please; you gentle people are always wilful." After a
few moments' thoughtful silence, he added, "How long before you start,
"The general said it might be two hours before my instructions and
passports were made out."
"It will be dark then, and," added Linwood, after a keen survey of
the heavens, "I think, very dark."
"Like enough; but that is not so very agreeable a prospect as one
would infer from the tone of your voice."
"Pardon me, my dear fellow; it was New-York I was thinking of, and
not any inconvenience you might encounter from the obscurity of the
night Your passports are not made out?"
"Do me a favour, then—let Kisel ride my gray. I cannot endure the
thought of the harlequin spectacle you'll furnish forth, riding down
the Broadway with your squire mounted on Beauty; besides, the animal is
not equal to the expedition."
"Thank you, Linwood. I accept your kindness as freely as you offer
it. You have relieved me of my only serious embarrassment. Now get your
letters ready; any thing unsealed (my orders are restricted to that) I
will take charge of, and deliver at your father's door."
"My father's door!" exclaimed Linwood, snapping his fingers with a
sort of wild exultation that made Eliot stare, "oh, what a host of
images those words call up! but as to the letters, there is no pleasure
in unsealed ones; I sent a bulletin of my health to Belle yesterday; I
have an engagement that will occupy me till after your departure; so
farewell, and good luck to you, Eliot." The friends shook hands and
The twilight was fading into night when Eliot was ready for his
departure. To his great vexation Kisel was missing; and he was told he
had ridden forward, and had left word that he would await his master at
a certain point about three miles on their way. The poor fellow's
habits were so desultory that they never excited surprise, though they
would have been intolerable to one less kind-tempered than Eliot Lee.
He found him at the point named. He had reined his horse up against the
fence, and was awaiting his master, as Eliot saw, for he could just
descry the outline of his person lying back to back to the horse, his
legs encircling the animal's neck.
"Sit up, Kisel," said his master, in an irritated tone; "remember
you are riding a gentleman's horse that's not accustomed to such
tricks. And now I tell you, once for all, that unless you behave
yourself quietly and reasonably, I will send you adrift."
Kisel whistled. He always either replied by a whistle or tears to
Eliot's reproof, and the whistle now, as usual, was followed by a fit
of sulkiness. The night was misty and very dark. Kisel, in spite of
sundry kind overtures from his master, remained doggedly silent, or
only answered in a muttered monosyllable. Thus they travelled all
night, merely stopping at the farmhouses to which they had been
directed to refresh their horses. On these occasions Kisel was
unusually zealous in performing the office of groom, and seemed to have
made a most useful transfer of the nimbleness of his tongue to his
The dawn found them within the enemy's lines, at twenty miles
distance from the city of New-York, and in sight of a British post
designated in their instructions where they were to stop, exhibit their
flag of truce, show their passports, and obtain others to the city.
"Now, Kisel," said Eliot, "youmust have done with your fooleries; you
will disgrace me if you do not behave like a man; pull up your cap—do
not bury your face so in the collar of your coat—sit upright."
Kisel threw the reins upon his horse's neck, affected to arrange
his cap and coat, and in doing so dropped his whip. This obliged him to
dismount and go back a few yards, which he did as if he had clogs at
his heels. In the meantime Eliot spurred on his horse, and rode up to
the door where the enemy's guard was stationed. His passports were
examined, and returned to him countersigned. He passed on; and the
guard was giving a cursory glance at the attendant, when it seemed to
strike him there was some discrepance between the description and the
actual person. "Stop, my man," said he, "let's have another glance.
'Crooked, ill-made person;' yes, crooked enough—'sandy hair;' yes, by
Jove, sandy as a Scotchman's—'gray eyes, small and sunken;' gray to be
sure, but neither small nor sunken."
"Well, now," said Kisel, with beseeching simplicity, and looking
eagerly after Eliot, who was watering his horse at a brook a few rods
in advance of him; "well, now, I say, don't hender me—smallness is
according as people thinks. My eye ant so big as an ox's, nor tant so
small as a mole's; and folks will dispute all the way 'twixt the two:
so what signifies keeping captain waiting?"
"Well, well, it must be right—go on. I don'tknow, though,"
muttered the inquisitor, as Kisel rode off at a sharp trot—"d—n these
Yankees, they'd cheat the devil. The passport said, 'a turnup
nose'—this fellow's is as straight as an arrow. Here, halloo,
sirs,—back." But Kisel, instead of heeding the recall, though seconded
by his master, galloped forward, making antic gestures, laughing and
shouting; and Eliot, bitterly repenting his indiscretion in bringing
him, retraced his steps. He found the inspector's faculties all
awakened by the suspicion that he had been outwitted. "My friend," said
Eliot, reproducing his passports, "this detention is unnecessary and
discourteous. You see I am, beyond a question, the person here
described; and I give you my honour that my companion is the attendant
specified. He is a fellow of weak wits, as you may see by his absurd
conduct, who can impose on no one, much less on a person of your
"That is to say, if he is he. But I suppose you know, sir, that a
wolf can wear a sheep's clothing. There are so many rebels that have
connexions in the city, outside friends to his majesty, that we are
obliged to keep a sharp look-out."
"Certainly, my friend: all that you say is perfectly reasonable,
and I respect you for doing your duty. But you must be satisfied now,
and will have the goodness to permit me to proceed."
The man was conciliated; and after making an entry in his
note-book, he again returned the passports. Eliot put spurs to his
horse; and as the man gazed after him, he said, "A noble-looking youth.
The Almighty has written his passport on that face; but that won't
serve him now-a-days without endorsements. That other fellow I doubt.
Well, I'll just forward these notes I have taken down to Colonel
Robertson, and he'll be on the look-out."
In the meantime Eliot followed Kisel at full speed; but, after
approaching him within a few yards, he perceived he did not gain an
inch on him; and, apprehensive that such forced riding might injure
Linwood's horse, or, at any rate, that the smoking sides of both the
steeds would excite suspicion, he reined his in, and wondered what new
demon had taken possession of Kisel; for, while he now rode at a
moderate pace, he had the mortification of seeing that Kisel exactly,
and with an accuracy he had never manifested in any other operation,
measured his horse's speed by his master's, so as to preserve an
undeviating distance from him. Thus they proceeded till they approached
Kingsbridge, where a British picket was stationed. Here Kisel managed
so as to come up with his horse abreast to Eliot's. The horse seemed to
take alarm at the colours that were flying from the British flagstaff,
and reared, whirled around, and curvetted, so as to require all his
rider's adroitness to keep on his back. Meanwhile the passports were
being examined, and they were suffered to proceed without a particular
They had passed the bridge, and beyond observation, when Eliot, who
was still in advance of his attendant, turned suddenly round with the
intention of trying the whole force of a moral battery; but he was
surprised by a coup de main that produced a sudden and not very
agreeable shock to his ideas.
His follower's slouched and clownish attitude was gone; and in its
place an erect and cavalier bearing. His head was raised from the
muffler that had half buried it—his cap pushed back, and from beneath
shone the bright laughing eye of Herbert Linwood.
"Now, Eliot, my dear fellow," he said, stretching out his hand to
him, "do not look so, as if you liked the knave less than the fool."
"If I do look so, Linwood, it is because fools are easier protected
than knaves. It is impossible to foresee what may be the consequence of
this rash business."
"Oh, hang the consequence. I wish you would get over that Yankee
fashion of weighing every possible danger; you are such a cautious
"Granted, Linwood, we are; and I think it will take all my caution
to get us out of a scrape that your heroism has plunged us into."
The first shaft of Linwood's petulance had glanced off from the
shield of his friend's good-temper, and he had not another. "I
confess," he said, in an altered voice, "that the boldness is worse
than questionable that involves others in our own danger. But consider
my temptations, and then try, my dear fellow, to pardon my selfishness.
I have lived three years in exile—I, who never before passsed a night
out of my father's house. I am suffering the wretchedness of his
displeasure; and am absolutely famishing for the faces and voices of
home. I could live a week upon the ticking of the old hall-clock."
"But what satisfaction can you expect, Linwood? You have always
told me you believed your father's displeasure was invincible—"
"Oh, I don't know that. His bark is worse than his bite. I cannot
calculate probabilities. One possibility outweighs a million of them. I
shall at any rate see my sister—my peerless, glorious sister, and my
mother. And, after all, what is the risk? If you did not detect me,
others will not, surely."
"You did not give me a chance."
"Nor will I them. The only catastrophe I fear is the possibility of
General Washington finding me out. But it was deused crabbed of him not
to give me the commission. He ought to know that a man can't live on
"General Washington requires no more than he performs."
"That is true enough; but is it reasonable torequire of children to
bear the burdens of men?— of common men to do the deeds of heroes?"
"I believe there is no limit, but in our will, to our moral power."
"Pshaw!—and I believe the moral power of each individual can be
measured as accurately as his stature. But we are running our heads
into metaphysics, and shall get lost in a fog."
"A New-England fog, Linwood?"
"They prevail there," he answered, with a quizzical smile. "But we
are wandering from the point. I really have taken all possible
precautions to keep my secret. I obtained leave for four days' absence
on the pretext that I was going up the river on my private business.
The only danger arises from my having been compelled to make a
confidant of Kisel."
"That occurred to me. How in the name of wonder did you manage
"Oh, I conjured in your name. I made him believe that your safety
depended on his implicitly obeying my directions; so I obtained his
holyday suit (which you must confess is a complete disguise), and sent
him on a fool's errand up the river."
The friends entered the city by passing the pickets at the Bowery.
They were admitted without scruple:—letting animals into a cage is a
very different affair from letting them out. At Linwood's suggestion
they crossed into Queen-street. That great mart, now stored with the
products ofthe commercial world, and supplying millions from its packed
warehouses, was then chiefly occupied by the residences of the
provincial gentry. Linwood had resumed his mufflers and his clownish
air; but the true man from the false exterior growled forth many an
anathema as he passed house after house belonging to the whig absentees
—his former familiar haunts—now occupied, and, as he thought,
desecrated by British officers, or resident royalists whose loyalty was
thus cheaply paid.
"Look not to the right nor left, I pray you, Linwood," said Eliot;
"you are now in danger of being recognised. We are to stop at Mrs.
Billings's, in Broad-street."
"Just above my father's house," replied Linwood, in a sad tone.
They rode on briskly; for they perceived that Eliot's American uniform
and grotesque attendant attracted observation. They had entered
Broad-street, and were near a large double house, with the carving
about the doors and windows that distinguished the more ambitious
edifices of the provincialists. Two horses, equipped for their riders,
stood at the door, and a black servant in faded livery beside them. The
door opened; and a gentleman of lofty stature, attended by a young
lady, came forth. She patted the animal that awaited her, and sprang
into the saddle. "It must be Isabella Linwood!" thought Eliot, turning
his asking eye to his companion, who, he now perceived, had reined in
his horse towards the flagging opposite that where the parties who had
attracted his observation were. "He is right and careful for once,"
thought Eliot. That Eliot would have thought it both right and
inevitable to have indulged himself in a nearer survey of the beautiful
young lady, we do not doubt; but as he again turned, her horse suddenly
reared his hind legs in the air. Her father screamed—there were
several persons passing—no one dared approach the animal, who was
whirling, floundering, and kicking furiously. Some, gazing at Miss
Linwood, exclaimed, "She'll be dashed to pieces!"—and others, "Lord,
how she sits!" She did sit bravely; her face colourless as marble, and
her dark eyes flashing fire-Eliot and Linwood instinctively dismounted,
and at the risk of their lives rushed to her rescue; and, at one
breath's intermission of the kicking, stood on either side of the
animal's head. She was an old acquaintance and favourite of Linwood,
and with admirable presence of mind (inspiration he afterward called
it) he addressed her in a loud tone, in his accustomed phrase,
"Jennet—Jennet, softly—softly!" The animal was quieted; and, as
Linwood afterward affirmed, spoke as plainly to him with her eye as
ever human voice spoke. At any rate, she stood perfectly still while
Eliot assisted the young lady to dismount. The people now gathered
round; and at the first burst of inquiry and congratulation, Herbert
disappeared. "Thank God. you are not hurt, Belle!"exclaimed her father,
whose voice, though choked with emotion, was heard above all others.
"What in Heaven's name possessed Jennet?—she never kicked before; and
how in the world did you quiet her, sir?" turning to Eliot. "It was
most courageously done!"
"Miraculously!" said Miss Linwood; her face, as she turned it to
Eliot, beaming with gratitude. There are voices that, at their first
sound, seem to strike a new chord that ever after vibrates; and this
first word that Eliot heard pronounced by Isabella Linwood, often
afterward rung in his ears like a remembered strain of sweet music.
There were persons present, however, not occupied with such high
emotions; and while Eliot was putting in a disclaimer, and saying, if
there were any merit attending arresting the horse, it was his
servant's, diligent search was making into the cause of the animal's
transgression, which soon appeared in the form of a thorn, that, being
entangled in the saddle-cloth, had pierced her side.
The first flow of Mr. Linwood's gratitude seemed to have been
suddenly checked. "Papa has seen the blue coat," thought Isabella; "and
the gushings of his heart are turned to icicles!" And infusing into her
own manner the warmth lacking in his, she asked what name she should
associate with her preservation.
"My name is Lee."
"A very short one. May we prefix Harry orCharles?" alluding to two
distinguished commanders in the American army.
"Neither. Mine is a name unknown to fame. Eliot."
"Eliot Lee!—Herbert's friend!—Bessie's brother! Papa, you do not
understand. Mr. Lee is the brother of your little pet, Bessie Lee,
and," she added, "Herbert's best friend."
Her father coloured; and civilly hoped Miss Bessie Lee was well.
"Well! that is nothing," exclaimed Miss Linwood. "We hope all the
world is well; but I must know where Bessie is—what she is doing— how
she is looking, and a thousand million et ceteras. Papa, Mr. Lee must
come home with us."
"Certainly, Isabella, if Mr. Lee chooses."
Thus bidden, Mr. Lee could only choose to refuse, which he did;
alleging that he had no time at his own disposal.
Isabella looked pained, and Mr. Linwood felt uncomfortable; and
making an effort at an amende honorable, he said, "Pray send your
servant to me, sir; I shall be happy to express my obligations to him."
"Heaven smiles on Herbert!" thought Eliot; and he replied eagerly,
"I will most certainly send him, sir, this evening, at eight o'clock."
He then bowed to Mr. Linwood, took Isabella's hand, which she again
graciously extended to him, and thanking her for her last kind
words—"Best—bestlove to Bessie; be sure you don't forget it," he
mounted his horse and was off.
"Send him!" said Mr. Linwood, reiterating Eliot's last words. "I'll
warrant him!—trust a Yankee for not letting slip a shilling."
"He is quite right, papa. If he cannot obtain the courtesy due to
the gentleman in return for the service he has rendered, he is right to
secure the reward of the menial. You were savage, sir— absolutely
savage. Mr. Lee will think we are barbarians—heathens—any thing but
"And so am I, and so will I be to these fellows. This young man did
only what any other young man would have done upon instinct; so don't
pester me any more about him. You know, Belle, I have sworn no rebel
shall enter my doors."
"And you know, sir, that I have—not sworn; oh, no! but resolved,
and my resolve is the feminine of my father's oath, that you shall hang
me on a gallows high as Haman's, before I cease to plead that our doors
may be opened to one rebel at least."
"Never, never!" replied her father, shutting his hall-door after
him as he spoke, as if all the rebel world were on the other side of
"Oui, je suis sûr que vous m'aimez, mais je ne le suis pas que vous
When Eliot rejoined his friend at the appointed rendezvous, Mrs.
Billings's, Herbert listened most eagerly to every particular of
Eliot's meeting with his father and sister, and thanked him over and
over again for so thoughtfully smoothing the way for his interview with
them in the evening. "Oh, Eliot," he said, "may you never have such a
hurricane in your bosom as I had when I stood by my father and Belle,
and longed to throw myself at his feet, and take my sister into my
arms. I believe I did kiss Jennet—what the deuse ailed the jade? she
is the gentlest creature that ever stepped. Never doubt my self-control
after this, Eliot!" Eliot's apprehensions were not so easily removed.
He perceived that Herbert was in a frame of mind unsuited to the
cautious part he was to act. His feelings had been excited by his
rencounter with his father and sister, and though he had passed through
that trial with surprising self-possession, it had quite unfitted him
for encountering the "botheration" (so he called it) that awaited him
at Mrs. Billings's.
"We are in a beautiful predicament here," he said; "our landlady,
who is one of your ''cute Yankees,' will not let us in till she has
sent our names and a description of our persons to the Commandant
Robertson's:—this, she says, being according to his order. Now this
cannot be—I will not implicate you—thus far I have proceeded on my
sole responsibility, and if any thing happens, I alone am liable for
the consequences. Are your instructions to stop at this house
"Yes; and if they were not, we might not be better able to evade
this police regulation elsewhere. I will see my countrywoman—'hawks
won't pick out hawks' e'en,' you know they say; perhaps one Yankee hawk
may blind another."
A loud rap brought the hostess herself to the door, a sleek lady,
who, Eliot thought, looked as if she might be diplomatized, though a
Yankee, and entitled to the discretion of at least forty-five years.
"Mrs. Billings, I presume?"
"The same, sir—will you walk in?"
"Thank you, madam. Kisel, remain here while I speak with the lady."
Mrs. Billings looked at the master, then at the man, then hemmed, which
being interpreted, meant, "I understand your mutual relations," and
then conducted Eliot to her little parlour, furnished with all the
display she could command, and the frugality to which she was enforced,
a combination not uncommon in more recent times. A carpet covered the
middleof the floor, and just reached to the stately chairs that stood
like grenadiers around the room, guarding the uncovered boards, the
test of the house-wife's neatness. One corner was occupied by a high
Chinese lackered clock; and another by a buffet filled with articles,
like the poor vicar's, "wisely kept for show," because good for nothing
else; and between them was the chest of drawers, that so mysteriously
combined the uses which modern artisans have distributed over
sideboards, wardrobes, The snugness, order, and sufficiency of Mrs.
Billings's household certainly did present a striking contrast to the
nakedness and desolation of our soldier's quarters, and the pleased and
admiring glances with which Eliot surveyed the apartment were quite
"You are very pleasantly situated here, madam," he said.
"Why, yes; as comfortably as I could expect."
"You are from Rhode Island, I believe, Mrs. Billings?"
"I am happy to own I am, sir;" the expression of hostility with
which the lady had begun the conference abated. It is agreeable to have
such cardinal points in one's history as where one comes from known—an
indirect flattery, quite unequivocal.
"I have been told, madam," continued Eliot, "that you were a
sufferer in the royal cause before you left your native state?"
"Yes, sir, I may say that; but I have never regretted it."
"The lady's loyalty is more conspicuous than her conjugal
devotion," thought Eliot, who remembered to have heard that, with some
other property, she had lost her husband.
"No, madam," he replied, "one cannot regret sacrifices in a cause
"Your sentiments meet my views, sir, exactly."
"But your sacrifices have been uncommon, Mrs. Billings; you have
left a lovely part of our country to shut yourself up here."
"That's true, sir; but you know one can do a great deal from a
sense of duty. I am not a person that thinks of myself; I feel as if I
ought to be useful while I am spared." Our self-sacrificing
philanthropist was driving a business, the gains of which she had never
dreamed of on her steril New-England farm.
"I am glad to perceive, Mrs. Billings, that your sacrifices are in
some measure rewarded. You have, I believe, the best patronage in the
"Yes, sir; I accommodate as many as I think it my duty to; my
lodgers are very genteel persons and good pay. Still, I must say, it is
a pleasure to converse with one's own people. The British officers are
not sociable except among themselves."
"I assure you our meeting is a mutual pleasure,Mrs. Billings. May I
hope for the accommodation of a room under your roof for a day or two?"
"I should be very happy to oblige you, sir. It appears to me to be
a Christian duty to treat even our enemies kindly; but our officers—I
mean no offence, sir—look down upon the rebels, and I could not find
it suitable to do what they would not approve."
"As to that, Mrs. Billings, you know we are liable to optical
illusions in measuring heights— that nearest seems most lofty." Eliot
paused, for he felt he had struck too high a note for his auditor; and
lowering his pitch, he added, "you are a New-England woman, Mrs.
Billings, and know we are not troubled by inequalities that are
"Very true, sir."
"If you find it convenient to oblige me, I shall not intrude on
your lodgers, as I prefer taking my meals in my own room." This
arrangement obviated all objection on the part of the lady, and the
matter was settled after she had hinted that a private table demanded
extra pay. Eliot perceived he was in that common case where a man must
pay his quid pro quo, and acknowledge an irrequitable obligation into
the bargain: he therefore submitted graciously, acceded to the lady's
terms, and was profuse in thanks.
Looking over the mantel-piece, and seeming to see, for the first
time, a framed advertisement suspended there, "I perceive, madam," he
said, "thatyour lodgers are required to report themselves to the
commandant; but as my errand is from General Washington to Sir Henry
Clinton, I imagine this ceremony will be superfluous; somewhat like
going to your servants for leave to stay in your house. After obtaining
it from you, madam, the honoured commander-in-chief?"
"That would be foolish."
"Then all is settled, Mrs. Billings. As my man is a stranger in the
city, you will allow one of your servants to take a note for me to Sir
Thus Eliot had secured an important point by adroitly and humanely
addressing himself to the social sympathies of the good woman, who,
though ycleped "a 'cute calculating Yankee," was just that complex
being found all the world over, made up of conceit, self-esteem, and
good feeling; with this difference, that, like most of her country
people, she had been trained to the devotion of her faculties to the
provident arts of getting along.
In conformity to the answer received to his note, Eliot was at Sir
Henry Clinton's door precisely at half past one, and was shown into the
library, there to await Sir Henry.
The house then occupied by the English commander-in-chief, and
afterward consecrated by the occupancy of Washington, is still standing
at the southwestern extremity of Broadway, having beenrespectfully
permitted by its proprietors to retain its primitive form, and
fortunately spared the profane touch of the demon of change (soi-disant
improvement) presiding over the city corporation.
In the centre of the library, which Eliot found unoccupied, was a
table covered with the freshest English journals and other late
publications: among them, Johnson's political pamphlets, and a poetic
emission of light from the star just then risen above the literary
horizon—Hannah More. Eliot amused himself for a half hour with tossing
these over, and then retired to an alcove formed by a temporary damask
drapery, enclosing some bookcases, a sofa, and a window. This window
commanded a view of the Battery, the Sound, indenting the romantic
shores of Long Island, the generous Hudson, pouring into the bay its
tributary waters, and both enfolding in their arms the infant city,
ordained by nature to be the queen of our country. "Ah!" thought Eliot,
as his eye passed exultingly over the beautiful scene, and rested on
one of his majesty's ships that lay anchored in the bay, "How long are
we to be shackled and sentinelled by a foreign power! how long before
we may look out upon this avenue to the ocean as the entrance to our
independent homes, and open or shut it, as pleases us, to the commerce
and friendship of the world!"
His natural revery was broken by steps in the adjoining
drawing-room—the communicating doorwas open, and he heard a servant
say, "Sir Henry bids me tell you, sir, he shall be detained in the
council-room for half an hour, and begs you will excuse the delay of
"Easier excused than endured!" said a voice, as soon as the servant
had closed the door, which Eliot immediately recognised to be Mr.
Linwood's. "I'll take a stroll up the street, Belle—a half hour is an
eternity to sit waiting for dinner!"
"If Dante had found my father in his Inferno," thought Isabella,
"he certainly would have found him waiting for dinner!"
The young lady, left to herself, did what we believe all young
ladies do in the like case—walked up to the mirror, and there, while
she was readjusting a sprig of jessamine with a pearl arrow that
attached it to her hair, Eliot, from his fortunate position,
contemplated at leisure her image. The years that had glided away since
we first introduced our heroine on her vist to Effie, had advanced her
to the ripe beauty of maturity. The freshness, purity, and frankness of
childhood remained; but there was a superadded grace, an expression of
sentiment, of thought, feelings, hopes, purposes, and responsibilities,
that come not within the ken of childhood. Form and colouring may be
described. Miss Linwood's hair was dark, and, contrary to the fashion
of the times (she was no thrall of fashion), unpowdered, uncurled, and
unfrizzed, and so closely arranged in braids as to define (that rare
beauty) the Grecian outline of her head. Her complexion had the
clearness and purity that indicates health and cheerfulness. "How
soon," thought Eliot, as he caught a certain look of abstraction to
which of late she was much addicted, "how soon she has ceased to gaze
at her own image; is it that she is musing, or have her eyes a
sibylline gaze into futurity!" Those eyes were indeed the eloquent
medium of a soul that aspired to Heaven; but that was not, alas! above
the "carking cares" of earth.
We must paint truly, though we paint the lady of our love; and
therefore we must confess that our heroine was not among the few
favoured mortals whose noses have escaped the general imperfection of
that feature. Hers was slightly—the least in the world—but
incontrovertibly of the shrewish order; and her mouth could express
pride and appalling disdain, but only did so when some unworthy subject
made these merely human emotions triumph over the good-humour and sweet
affections that played about this, their natural organ and interpreter.
Her person was rather above the ordinary height, and approaching
nearer to embonpoint than is common in our lean climate; but it had
that grace and flexibility that make one forget critically to mark
proportions and dimensions, and to conclude, from the effect produced,
that they must be perfect. We said we could describe form and colour;
but whoshall describe that mysterious changing and all-powerful beauty
of the soul, to which form and colour are but the obedient
ministers?—who, by giving the form and dimensions of the temple, can
give an idea of the exquisite spirits that look from its portals?
Eliot was not long in making up his mind to emerge from his
hiding-place, and was rising, when he was checked by the opening of the
library door, and the exclamation, in a voice that made his pulses
throb—"Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered!"
"All, Jasper?" replied Miss Linwood, starting from her meditations,
and blushing as deeply as if she had betrayed them—"all thy sins; I
should be loath to charge my prayers with such a burden."
"Not one committed against you, Isabella," replied Meredith, in a
tone that made it very awkward for Eliot to present himself.
"It would make no essential difference in my estimation of a fault
whether it were committed against myself or another."
Miss Linwood took up one gazette, and Meredith another. Suddenly
recollecting herself—"Oh, do you know," she said, "that Eliot Lee is
"Now," thought Eliot, "is my time."
"God forbid!" exclaimed Meredith. Miss Linwood looked at him with
an expression of question and astonishment, and he adroitly added, "Of
course, if he is in town he is a prisoner, and I am truly sorry for
"Spare your regrets—he comes in the honourable capacity of an
emissary from his general to ours."
"It is extraordinary that he has not apprized me of his
arrival—you must be misinformed."
Isabella recounted the adventure of the morning, and concluded by
saying, "He must have some reason for withholding himself—you were
"Yes, college friends—boy friendship, which passes off with other
morning mists—a friendship not originating in congeniality, but
growing out of circumstances—a chance."
"Chance—friendship!" exclaimed Isabella, in a half suppressed
tone, that was echoed from the depths of Eliot's heart. He held his
breath as she continued—"I do not understand this—the instincts of
childhood and youth are true and safe. I love every thing and everybody
I loved when I was a child. I now dread the effect of adventitious
circumstances—the flattering illusions of society—the frauds that are
committed on the imagination by the seeming beautiful." Isabella was
perhaps conscious that she was mentally giving a personal investment to
these abstractions, for her voice faltered; but she soon continued with
more steadiness and emphasis, and a searching of the eye that affected
Meredith like an overpowering light—"chance friendship! This chance
friend-Jasper. "On my honour you have not the slightest ground for
them," he said.
She proceeded. "Miss Linwood is in some respects a superior young
person—she has not the— the—the talent of Helen Ruthven—nor
the—the —the grace of Lady Anne (no wonder the perplexed diplomatist
hesitated for a comparative that should place Isabella Linwood below
these young ladies); but, as I said, she is a superior young person—a
remarkable looking person, certainly; at least, she is generally
thought so. I do not particularly like her style—tenderness and
manageableness, like our dear Anne's, are particularly becoming in a
female. Miss Linwood is too lofty—one does not feel quite comfortable
with her. On the whole, I consider it quite fortunate you did not form
an attachment in that quarter—prudence must be consulted—not that I
would be swayed by prudential considerations—certainly not—no one
thinks more than I do of the heart; but when, as in your case, Jasper,
the taste and affections accord with a wise consideration of—of—"
"Fortune, my dear mother?"
"Yes, Jasper, frankly, fortune—I esteem it a remarkably happy
circumstance. Your own fortune may or may not be large. The American
portion of it depends upon contingencies, and therefore it would have
been rash for you to have encumbered yourself with a ruined family;
for, as I am informed, the Linwoods have but just enough to subsist
decentlyupon from day to day. It is true, they keep up a respectable
appearance. Anne, by-the-way, tells me they get up the most delicious
petits soupers there. It is amazing what pride will do! —what
sacrifices some people make to appearances!"
"There must be something else than mere table luxuries to make
these suppers so attractive to my cousin."
"Undoubtedly; for as to that, you know, we have every thing that
money can purchase in this demisavage country; to be sure, Anne might
have a foolish, girlish liking for Miss Linwood, but then I am quite
confident—I hesitate, for if there is any thing on which I pride
myself, it is being scrupulous towards my own sex in affairs of the
heart; but I betray nothing, for though you are perfectly free from
coxcombry, you are not blind, and you must have seen—"
"Not seen, but hoped, my dear mother," replied Meredith, with a
smile that indicated assurance doubly sure.
"Hope is the fitting word for you—but your hope may be my
certainty. I betray no secrets. Anne has not been confidential, but the
dear child is so transparent—"
"She seems, however, to have been rather opaque in this Linwood
"Yes, I confess myself baffled there—you may have opened a vein of
coquetry, Jasper. I knownot what it means, but it can mean nothing to
alarm us. It is very odd, though—there is nothing there to gratify
her, and every thing here. This very evening Governor Tryon called with
the young prince, to propose to get up a concert for her. By-the-way, a
pretty youth is Prince William!—he left this bouquet for Lady Anne.
The honourable Mr. Barton and Sir Reginald were here too, and the
Higbys—and there she is, mewed up with that old fretful Mr. Linwood.
She must think, Jasper, you are not sufficiently devoted to her."
"She shall not think so in future."
"Hark, there is the carriage!—I sent her word that I was not well.
In truth, her absence has teased me into a headache, and my own room
will be the best place for me." Thus concluding her tedious harangue,
the lady made a hasty retreat; and before Lady Anne had exchanged a
salutation with Meredith, and thrown aside her hat and cloak, her
aunt's maid appeared with a message from this "frank" lady, importing
her sense of Lady Anne's kindness in coming home, and informing her
that prudence obliged her to abstain from seeing her niece till
"I am very sorry!" said Lady Anne, heaving a deep sigh, sinking
down in the arm-chair her aunt had just left, resting her elbow on it,
and looking pensively in the fire.
"You need not be so deeply concerned, my kind cousin; my mother is
not very ill," said Meredith,with difficulty forbearing a laugh at the
disparity between the cause and the effect on his apparently
"Ill!" exclaimed Lady Anne, starting, "I did not suppose that she
"Then why, in the name of Heaven, that deep sigh?"
"There are many causes of sighs, cousin Jasper."
"To you, Lady Anne, so young, so gifted, so lovely, so beloved."
"That should be happiness!" she replied, covering her face with her
hands to hide the tears that, in spite of all the anti-crying
tendencies of her nature, gushed from her eyes.
"Those dimpled hands," thought Meredith, "hiding so childishly her
melting face, might move an anchoret; but they move not me. I am too
pampered—to know that I have been loved by Isabella Linwood, with all
the bitter, cursed mortification that attends it, is worth a world of
such triumphs as this. Poor Bessie—I remember too! but, allons, I will
take the good 'the gods provide,' since I cannot have that which they
"Did you speak to me, Jasper?"
"Now, by my life," thought Meredith, "my words are congealed—they
will not flow to such willing ears."
"I am playing the fool," exclaimed Lady Anne,suddenly rising and
dashing off her tears. "Good night, Jasper—I have betrayed myself—no,
no, I did not mean that—pray forget my weakness—I am nervous this
evening for the first time in my life, and I know nothing of managing
nerves— good night, Jasper!"
Meredith seized her hand and held her back. "Indeed, my sweet coz,
you must not go now."
"Must not go! Why not?" she replied, excessively puzzled by the
expressive smile that hovered on his lips.
"Why not! Because you are too much of an angel to shut your heart
so suddenly against me after allowing me a glimpse at the paradise
"What do you mean?" she asked, now beginning, from Meredith's
manner, and from the welltutored expression of his most sentimental
eyes, to have some dim perception of his meaning, and to be
disconcerted by it.
"Dear Anne, did you not, with your own peculiar, enchanting
ingenuousness, say you had betrayed yourself? Never was there a
sweeter— a more welcome treachery." He fell on his knee, and pressed
her hand to his lips.
"For the love of Heaven, Jasper," she cried, snatching her hand
away, "tell me what I have said or done."
"Nothing that you should not, dearest cousin; your betrayal, as you
called it, was, I know, involuntary, and for that the dearer."
"Are you in earnest, Jasper?"
"In earnest! most assuredly; and do you, Lady Anne, like all your
sex, delight in torturing your captives?—your captive I certainly am,
The truth was now but too evident to Lady Anne; but she was so
unprepared for it, her mind had been so wholly preoccupied, that it
seemed to her the marvellous result of some absurd misunderstanding. At
first she blushed, and stammered, and then, following her natural bent,
To Meredith, this appeared a childish artifice to shelter her
mortification at having made, in military phrase, a first
demonstration. His interest was stimulated by this slight obstacle; and
rallying all his powers, he began a passionate declaration in the good
set terms "in such cases made and provided;" but Lady Anne cut him off
before he had finished his peroration. "This is a most absurd business,
Jasper; I entreat you never to speak of it again. Aunt, or somebody, or
something, has misled you—misled you certainly are. I never in my life
thought of you in any other light, than as a very agreeable cousin, nor
ever shall. I am very sorry for you, Jasper; but really, I am not in
fault, for I never, by word or look, could have expressed what I never
felt. Good night, Jasper." She was running away, when she turned back
to add, "Pray, say nothing of this to my aunt, and let us meet
to-morrow as we havealways met before." She then disappeared, and left
Meredith baffled, mortified, irritated, and most thoroughly awakened
from his dreams. Her face, voice, and manner, were truth itself; and
rapidly reviewing their past intercourse, and carefully weighing the
words that had misled him, he came to the conclusion that he had been
partly misguided by his mother, and partly the dupe of his previous
impressions. The measure of his humiliations was filled up.
But his vanity survived the severe and repeated blows of that
evening. Vanity has a wonderful tenacity of life: it resembles those
reptiles that feed greedily on every species of food, the most delicate
and the grossest, and that can subsist on their own independent
"Heart! what's that?
"Oh, a thing servant-maids have, and break for John the footman."
If Meredith could have borne off his charming heiress-cousin, his
love for Isabella might have gone to the moon, or to any other
repository of lost and forgotten things. But, balked in that pursuit,
it resumed its empire over him. He passed a feverish, sleepless night,
revolving the past, and reconsidering Isabella's every word and look
during their interview of the preceding evening; and finally, he came
to a conclusion not unnatural (for few persons give others credit for
less of a given infirmity than they themselves possess), that
Isabella's vanity had been wounded by the conviction that she had been,
for a time, superseded by Bes ie Lee; and that the ground he had thus
lost might, by a dexterous manœuvre, be regained. Engrossed with his
next move, he appeared at breakfast-table as usual, attentive to his
mother, and polite to Lady Anne, who, anxious to express her good-will,
was more than ordinarily kind; and Mrs. Meredith concluded that if
matters had not gone as far as she had hoped, they were going on
swimmingly. The breakfast finished, Lady Anneran away from her aunt's
annoying devotions to the Linwoods, and Meredith retired to his own
room to write, after weighing and sifting each word, the following note
to Isabella. He did not send it, however, till he had taken the
precaution to precede it by a written request to Lady Anne (with whom
he had found out too late that honest dealing was far the safest) that
she would, on no account—he asked it for her own sake—communicate to
any one their parting scene of the preceding evening. His evil star
ruled the ascendant, and Lady Anne received the note too late.
To Miss Linwood.
"Montaigne says, and says truly, that 'toutes passions que se
laissent, gouster et digerer ne sont que mediocres;' but how would
he—how shall I characterize a passion which has swallowed up every
other passion, desire, and affection of my nature—has grown and
thriven upon that which would have seemed fatal to its existence!
"Isabella, these are not hollow phrases; you know they are not; and
be not angry at my boldness; I know your heart responds to them, and,
though I was stretched on the rack to obtain this knowledge, I thank my
tormentors. Yes, by Heaven! I would not exchange that one instant of
intoxicating, bewildering joy, when, even in the presence of witnesses,
and such witnesses! you confessed you had loved me, for ages of a
common existence. Thank Heaven, too, the precious confession was not
through the hackneyed medium of words. Such a sentiment is not born in
your bosom to die. I judge from my own inferior nature. I have loved on
steadily, through absence, coldness, disdain, caprice (pardon me, my
proud, my adored Isabella), in spite of the canker and rust of delay
after delay; in spite of all the assaults of those temptations to which
the young and fortunate are exposed. Can I estimate your heart at a
lower rate than my own?
"As to that silly scene last evening, though it stung me at the
moment, and goaded me to an unmeaning impertinence, yet, on a review of
it, do you not perceive that we were both the dupes of a little
dramatic effect? and that there is no reality in the matter, except so
far as concerns the lost wits of the crazed girl, and the very natural
affliction of her well-meaning brother, whose unjust and hasty
indignation towards me, being the result of false impressions, I most
"As to poor Bessie Lee, I can only say, God help her! I am most
sincerely sorry for her; but neither you nor I can be surprised that
she should be the dupe of her lively imagination, and the victim of her
nervous temperament. I ask but one word in reply. Say you will see me
at any hour you choose; and, for God's sake, Isabella, secure our
interview from interruption."
In half an hour, and just as Meredith was sallyingforth to allay
his restlessness by a walk in the open air, he met his messenger with a
note from Miss Linwood. He turned back, entered the unoccupied
drawing-room, and read the following:—
"I have received your note, Jasper; I do not reply to it hastily;
hours of watchfulness and reflection at the bedside of my friend have
given the maturity of years to my present feeling. I have loved you, I
confess it now; not by a treacherous blush, but calmly, deliberately,
in my own hand-writing, without faltering or emotion of any sort. Yes,
I have loved you, if a sentiment springing from a most attachable
nature, originating in the accidental intercourse of childhood,
fostered by pride, nurtured by flattery, and exaggerated by an excited
imagination, can be called love.
"I have loved you, if a sentiment struggling with doubt and
distrust, seeking for rest and finding none, becoming fainter and
fainter in the dawning light of truth, and vanishing, like an
exhalation in the full day, can be called love.
"You say truly. Bessie Lee is the dupe of a too lively imagination,
and the victim of a nervous temperament. To these you might have added,
an exquisitely organized frame, and a conscience too susceptible for a
creature liable to the mistakes of humanity. Oh, how despicable, how
cruel, was the vanity that could risk the happiness of such a creature
for its own gratification! I have weptbitterly over her; I should
scarcely have pitied her, had she been the unresisting slave and victim
of a misplaced and unrequited passion.
"After what I have written, you will perceive that you need neither
seek nor avoid an interview with me; that the only emotion you can now
excite, is a devout gratitude that our former interviews were
interrupted, and circumstances were made strong enough to prevail over
"Isabella Linwood. "P. S.—I have detained my messenger, and opened
my note to add, that your cousin has just come in, and with a
confidence befitting her frank nature, has communicated to me the farce
with which you followed up the tragedy of last evening."
Meredith felt, what was in truth quite evident, that Isabella
Linwood was herself again. He threw the note from him in a paroxysm of
vexation, disappointment, and utter and hopeless mortification; and
covering his face with his hands, he endured one of those moments that
occur even in this life, when the sins, follies, and failures of
by-gone years are felt with the vividness and acuteness of the actual
and present, and memory and conscience are endued with supernatural
energy and retributive power.
What a capacity of penal suffering has the All-wise infused into
the moral nature of man, even the weakest!
"The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
Meredith was roused by the soft fall of a footstep. He started, and
saw Helen Ruthven, who had just entered, and was in the act of picking
up the note he had thrown down. She looked at the superscription, then
at Meredith. Her lustrous eyes suffused with tears, and the tears
formed into actual drops, and rolled down her cheeks. "Oh, happy, most
happy Isabella Linwood!" she exclaimed. Meredith took the note from her
and threw it into the fire. Miss Ruthven stared at him, and lifted up
her hands with an unfeigned emotion of astonishment. After a moment's
pause, she added, "I still say, most happy Isabella Linwood. And yet,
if she cannot estimate the worth of the priceless kingdom she sways, is
she most happy? You do not answer me; and you, of all the world,
cannot." Meredith did not reply by word; but Miss Ruthven's quick eye
perceived the cloud clearing from his brow; and she ventured to try the
effect of a stronger light. "I cannot comprehend this girl," she
continued; "she is a riddle—an insolvable riddle to me. A passionless
mortal seems to me to approach nearer to a monster than to a divinity
deserving your idolatry, Meredith. She cannot be the cold, apathetic,
statue-like person she appears—"
"And why not, Miss Ruthven?"
"Simply because a passionless being cannot inspirepassion—and
yet—and yet, if she were a marble statue, your love should have been
the Promethean touch to infuse a soul. Pardon me— pity me, if I speak
too plainly; there are moments when the heart will burst the barriers
of prudence —there are moments of desperation, of self-abandonment. I
cannot be bound by those petty axioms and frigid rules that shackle my
sex—I cannot weigh my words—I must pour out my heart, even though
this prodigality of its treasures 'naught enriches you, and makes me
poor indeed!' "
Helen Ruthven's broken sentences were linked together by expressive
glances and effective pauses. She gave to her words all the force of
intonation and emphasis, which produce the effect of polish on metal,
making it dazzling, without adding an iota to its intrinsic value.
Meredith lent a most attentive ear, mentally comparing the while Miss
Ruthven's lavished sensibilities to Isabella's jealous reserve. He
should have discriminated between the generosity that gives what is
nothing worth, and the fidelity that watches over an immortal treasure;
but vanity wraps itself in impenetrable darkness. He only felt that he
was in a labyrinth of which Helen Ruthven held the clew; and that he
was in the process of preparation to follow whithersoever she willed to
We let the curtain fall here; we have no taste for showing off the
infirm of our own sex. We were willing to supply some intimations that
mightbe available to our ingenuous and all-believing young male
friends; but we would not reveal to our fair and true-hearted readers
the flatteries, pretences, false assumptions, and elaborate
blandishments, by which a hackneyed woman of the world dupes and
beguiles; and at last (obeying the inflexible law of reaping as she
sows) pays the penalty of her folly in a life of matrimonial union
without affection—a wretched destiny, well fitting those who profane
the sanctuary of the affections with hypocritical worship.
While the web is spinning around Meredith, we leave him with the
wish that all the Helen Ruthvens in the world may have as fair game as
"Adventurous I have been, it is true,
And this fool-hardy heart would brave—nay, court,
In other days, an enterprise of passion;
Yea, like a witch, would whistle for a whirlwind.
But I have been admonished."
Our humble story treats of the concerns of individuals, and not of
historical events. We shall not, therefore, embarrass our readers with
the particulars of the secret mission on which Eliot Lee had been sent
to the city by the commander-in-chief. He needed an agent, who might,
as the exigency should demand, be prudent or bold, wary or decided,
cautious or gallant, and self-sacrificing. He had tested Eliot Lee, and
knew him to be capable of all these rarely-united virtues. Eliot had
confided to Washington his anxieties respecting his unfortunate sister,
and his burning desire to go to the city, where he might possibly
ascertain her fate. Washington gave him permission to avail himself of
every facility for the performance of his fraternal duty, consistent
with the public service on which he sent him. His sympathies were alive
to the charities of domestic life. While the military chieftain planted
and guarded the tree that wasto overshadow his country, he cherished
the birds that made their nests in its branches.
Eliot was instructed to seek a hiding-place in the city at a
certain Elizabeth Bengin's, a woman of strong head and strong heart,
whose name is preserved in history as one who, often at great personal
risk, rendered substantial service in the country's cause. Dame Bengin
and her parrot Sylvy, who seemed to preside over the destinies of the
shop, and did in fact lure many a young urchin into it, were known to
all the city. The dame herself was a thick-set, rosy little body, fair,
fat, and forty; her shop was a sort of thread and needle store: but as
the principle of division of labour had yet made small progress in our
young country, Mistress Bengin's wares were as multifarious as the
wants of the citizens. Mrs. Bengin's first principle was to keep a
civil tongue in her own and in Sylvy's head, she "holding civility (as
she often said and repeated) to be the most disposable and most
profitable article in her shop." It was indeed seriously profitable to
her, for it surrounded her with an atmosphere of kindness, and enabled
her, though watched and suspected by the English, to follow her calling
for a long while unmolested.
She gave Eliot an apartment in a loft over her shop, to which,
there being no apparent access, Eliot obtained egress and ingress by
removing a loose board that, to the uninstructed eye, formed a part of
the ceiling of the shop.
From this hiding-place Eliot sallied forth to execute his secret
purposes, varying his disguises, which were supplied by Mrs. Bengin, as
caution dictated. As all sorts of persons frequented the shop, no
attention was excited by all sorts of persons coming out of it. Eliot's
forced masquerading often compelled him to personate various characters
during the day, and at evening, with simply a clock over his own
uniform, and a wallet over his arm, like those still used by country
doctors, and precisely, as Dame Bengin assured him, like that carried
by the "doctor that attended the quality," he made his way, sheltered
by the obscurity of the night, to Mrs. Archer's, where he was admitted
by one of the children, whose acute senses caught the first sound of
his approaching footsteps. Eliot, in spite of remonstrances from his
prime minister, Mrs. Bengin, had persisted in appearing in his own
dress at Mrs. Archer's. In vain the good dame speculated and
soliloquized; she could not solve the mystery of this only disobedience
to her counsel. "To be sure," she said, "it makes a sight of difference
in his looks, whether he wears my tatterdemalion disguises, wigs,
scratches, and what not, or his own nice uniform, with his own rich
brown hair, waving off his sunshiny forehead—a bright, pleasant,
tight-built looking youth he is, as ever I put my two eyes upon; and if
he were going to see young ladies, I should not wonder that he did not
want to put his light under a bushel;but, my conscience! to keep up
such a brushing and scrubbing—my loft is not so very linty either
—just to go before the widow Archer—to be sure, she is a widow; but
then, there never was a man yet that dared to have any courting
thoughts of her, any more than if she were buried in her husband's
grave; and this is not the youth to be presuming."
Dame Bengin knew enough of human nature to have solved the mystery
of Eliot's toilet, if she had been apprized of one material fact in the
case. At Mrs. Archer's, watching at Bessie's bedside, Eliot always
found Miss Linwood; and though the truest, the most anxious, and tender
of brothers, he was not unconscious of her presence, nor unconscious
that her presence mingled with his sufferings for his sister a most
dangerous felicity. His fate was inevitable; he at least thought it so;
and that fate was an intense and unrequited devotion to one as
unattainable to him as if she were the inhabitant of another planet. He
did not resist his destiny by abating on minute of those hours that
were worth years of a drawing-room intercourse. In ordinary
circumstances, Isabella's soul would have been veiled from so new an
acquaintance; but now, constantly under the influence of strong feeling
and fresh impulses, and a most joyous sense of freedom, her lofty,
generous, and tender spirit glowed in her beautiful face, and inspired
and graced every word and movement.
Her devotion to Bessie was intense; not simply from compassion nor
affection, but remembering, that in her self-will she had insisted, in
spite of her father's disinclination, and her aunt's most reasonable
remonstrances, on Bessie's visit to the city, she looked upon herself
as the primary cause of her friend's misfortunes, and felt her own
peace of mind to be staked on Bessie's recovery. What a change had the
discipline of life wrought in Isabella's character! the qualities were
still the same; the same energy of purpose, the same earnestness in
action, the same strength of feeling, but now all flowing in the right
channel, all having a moral aim, and all governed by that religious
sense of duty, which is to the spirit in this perilous voyage of life
what the compass is to the mariner.
Of Bessie's recovery there seemed, from day to day, little
prospect. One hopeful circumstance there was. The intelligent physician
consulted by Mrs. Archer had frankly confessed that his art could do
nothing for her, and had advised leaving her entirely to the energies
of nature. Would that this virtue of letting alone were oftener
imitated by the faculty! that nature were oftener permitted to manifest
her power unclogged, and unembarrassed by the poisons of the drug-shop!
Bessie was as weak and helpless as a new-born infant, and
apparently as unknowing of the world about her. With few and brief
exceptions, she slept day and night. Her face was calm, peaceful,and
not inexpressive, but it was as unvarying as a picture. Her senses
appeared no longer to be the ministers of the mind; she heard without
hearing, and saw without seeing, and never attempted to speak. At
times, her friends despaired utterly, believing that her mind was
extinct; and then again they hoped it was a mere suspension of her
faculties, a rest preluding restoration.
While fear and hope were thus alternating, a week passed away.
Eliot's mission was near being accomplished. The evening of the
following day was appointed for the consummation of his plans. The
boats, with muffled oars and trusty oarsmen, were in readiness, and the
plan for the secret seizure of a most important personage so well
matured, that it was all but impossible it should be baffled. The most
brilliant result seemed certain: and well-balanced as Eliot's mind was,
it was excited to the highest pitch when a communication reached him
from headquarters, informing him that Washington deemed it expedient to
abandon the enterprise of which he was the agent; and he was directed,
if possible, to cross the Hudson during the night, and repair to the
camp near Morristown. And thus ended the hope of brilliant achievement
and sudden advancement; and he went to pay his last visit to his
sister—for the last time to see Isabella Linwood!
She met him with good news lighting her eyes, "Bessie is reviving!"
she said; "she has pressed my hand, and spoken my name!"
"Thank God!" replied Eliot, approaching the bedside. For the first
time Bessie fixed her eye on him as if conscious at whom she was
looking; then, as he bent over her, she stretched out her arms, drew
his face to hers, and kissed him, feebly murmuring, "dear Eliot!"
The effort exhausted her, and she reverted to her usual condition.
"This must be expected," said Miss Linwood, replying to the shade of
disappointment that passed over Eliot's brow; "but having seen such a
sign of recovery, you will leave her with a light heart?"
Eliot smiled assentingly; a melancholy smile enough. "You still,"
she continued, "expect to get off to-morrow evening?"
"No, my business in the city is finished, and I go this very
"To-night! would to Heaven that Herbert were going with you!"
"Not one regret for my going!" thought Eliot, and he sighed
involuntarily. "You seem," resumed Isabella, "very suddenly indifferent
to Herbert's fate—you do not care to know, before you go, how our
plans are ripening?"
"Indifferent to Herbert's fate!—to aught that concerns you, Miss
"A commonplace compliment from you, Captain Lee—well, as it is the
first, I'll forgive you—not so would Herbert, for making him secondary
in a matter where he is entitled to the honour, as he has the misery of
being principal. Poor fellow! his adversities have not taught him
patience, and Rose tells me he is very near the illness he has feigned,
and that if he does not get off by to-morrow night, he will fret
himself into a fever."
"Have you made Lady Anne acquainted with your project?"
"Yes, indeed! and her quick wit, loving heart, and most ingenious
fingers, have been busy in contriving and executing our preparations.
She is wild enough to wish to be the companion of Herbert's
flight—this is not to be thought of—but I have promised her that she
shall see him once more. Lizzy Bengin will go with us to the boat,
where, if Heaven prosper us, he will be by eight to-morrow evening. And
then, Captain Lee, should you persuade General Washington to receive
and forgive him, we shall be perfectly happy again."
"Perfectly happy!" echoed Eliot, in a voice most discordant with
the words he uttered.
"Oh, pardon me! I did not mean that. It is cruel to talk to you of
happiness while Bessie is in this uncertain condition—and most unjust
it is to myself, for I never shall be happy unless she is restored, and
mistress of herself again."
"Ah, Miss Linwood, that cannot be. In her best days she had not the
physical and mental power required to make her 'mistress of herself;'
no, it can never be. If it were not for my mother, who I know would
wish Bessie restored to her, even though she continue the vacant casket
she now is, I should, with most intense desire, pray God to take her to
himself—there alone can a creature so sensitive and fragile be safe
and at peace!"
"You are wrong—I am certain you are wrong. There is a flexibility
in our womanly nature that is strength in our weakness. Bessie will
perceive the delusion under which she has acted and suffered, and which
had dominion over her, because, like any other dream, it seemed a
reality while it lasted. Yes, her affections will return to their
natural channels to bless us all." Eliot shook his head despondingly.
"You are faithless and unbelieving," continued Isabella; and then
added, smiling and blushing, "but I reason from experience, and
therefore you should believe me."
This was the first time that Meredith had been alluded to. The
allusion was intrepid and generous; and if a confession of past
weakness, it was an assurance of present, conscious, and all-sufficient
strength. That Eliot at least thought so, was evident from the sudden
irradiation of his countenance; a brightness misinterpreted by
Isabella, who immediately added, "I have convinced you, and you will
admit I was not so very rash in saying that we should all again be
Eliot made no reply; he walked to the extremity of the room,
paused, returned, gazed intently yet abstractedly at his sister, then
at Isabella, and then mechanically took up his hat, laid it down, and
again resumed it.
Isabella was perplexed by his contradictory movements. "You are not
going so soon?" she said. He did not reply. "Shall I call my aunt?" she
Eliot seized her hand, and withheld her. "No, no, not yet—Miss
Linwood, I am playing the hypocrite—it is not alone my anxiety for my
sister that torments me—that made your prediction of happiness sound
to me like a knell." He paused, and then yielding to an irresistible
impulse, he impetuously threw himself at Isabella's feet. "Isabella
Linwood, I love you—love you without the presumption of the faintest,
slightest hope—before we part for ever, suffer me to tell you so."
"Captain Lee, you astonish me!—you do not mean—"
"I know I astonish you, but I will not offend you. Is it
folly—rashness—obtrusiveness, to pour out an affection before you,
that expects nothing in return, asks nothing but the satisfaction of
being known, and not offensive to you?"
"Oh, no, no; but you may regret—"
"Never, never. From this moment I devote my heart—I dedicate my
existence to you; insomuch as God permits me to love aught beneath
himself, I will love you. I must now part from you for ever; but
wherever I go your image will attend me—that cannot be denied me—it
shall defend me from temptation, incite me to high resolves, pure
thoughts, and good deeds."
"Such homage might well make me proud," replied Isabella, "and I am
most grateful for it; but your imagination is overwrought; this is a
transient excitement—it will pass away."
"Never!" replied Eliot, rising, and recovering in some degree the
steadiness of his voice; "hear me patiently; it is the only time I
shall ever ask your indulgence. I am not now, nor was I ever, under the
dominion of my imagination or my passions. I have been trained in the
school of exertion, of self-denial, and self-subjection; and I would
not, I could not love one who did not sway my reason, who was not
entitled to the homage of my best faculties. I have been moved by
beauty, I have been attracted by the lovely—I have had my fancies and
my likings—what man of two-and-twenty has not?—I never loved before;
never before felt a sentiment that, if it were requited, would have
made earth a paradise to me; but that unrequited, unsustained but by
its own independent vitality, I would not part with for any paradise on
The flush of surprise that first overspread Isabella's face had
deepened to a crimson glow. If a woman is not offended by such language
as Eliot's,she cannot be unmoved. Isabella's was a listening eye. It
seemed to Eliot, at this moment, that its rays touched his heart and
burned there. She passed her hand over her brow, as one naturally does
when the brain is becoming a little blurred in its perceptions. "This
is so very strange, so unexpected," she said, in the softest tone of
that voice, whose every tone was music to her lover's ear—"in one
short week—it cannot be!"
Isabella but half uttered her thoughts: she had been misled, as
most inexperienced observers are in similar cases, by the tranquillity
of Eliot's manner; she respected and liked him exceedingly; but she
thought him unexcitable, and incapable of passion. She had yet to learn
that the strongest passions are reducible to the gentlest obedience,
and may be so subjected as to manifest their power, not in irregular
and rebellious movements, but only in the tasks they achieve. She did
not now reflect or analyze, but she felt, for the first time, there was
that in Eliot Lee that could answer to the capacities of her own soul.
"This is, undoubtedly, unexpected to you," resumed Eliot, "but
should not be strange. When I first saw you I was struck with your
beauty; and I thought, if I were a pagan, I should imbody my divinity
in just such a form, and fall down and worship it—that might have been
what the world calls falling in love, but it was far enough from the
all-controlling sentiment I now profess to you.Our acquaintance has
been short (I date farther back than a week); but in this short period
I have seen your mind casting off the shackles of early prejudices,
resisting the authority of opinion, self-rectified, and forming its
independent judgments on those great interests in which the honour and
prosperity of your country are involved. I have gloried in seeing you
willing to sacrifice the pride, the exclusiveness, and all the little
idol vanities of accidental distinctions, to the popular and generous
"Nay, hear me out, Isabella; I will not leave you till you have the
reasons of my love; till you admit that I have deliberately elected the
sovereign of my affections; till you feel, yes, feel, that my devotion
to you can never abate." He hesitated, and his voice faltered; but he
resolutely proceeded: "Other shackles has your power over woman's
weakness enabled you to cast off."
"Oh, no—no; do not commend me for that— they fell off."
"Be it so: they could not fetter you, that is enough."
"Then," said Isabella, somewhat mischievously, "I think you like me
for, what most men like not at all—my love of freedom and independence
"Yes, I do; for I think they are essential to the highest and most
progressive nature; but I shouldnot love it if it were not blended with
all the tenderness and softness of your sex. The fire that mounts to
Heaven from the altar, diffuses its gentle warmth at the fireside.
Think you, that while you have been tending my sister, I have been
unmindful of your kindly domestic qualities, or blind to the thousand
womanly inventions by which I see you ministering to the happiness of
these unfortunate children? Have you thought me insensible to your
intervention for my poor boy, Kisel, though God, in much mercy to him,
willed it should be bootless? I do homage to your genius, talent, and
accomplishment, but I love your gracious, domestic, home-felt virtues.
I am exhausting your patience." Isabella had covered her face;
over-powered with the accumulated proof that Eliot had watched her with
a fond lover's eye. After a slight hesitation, he proceeded to obey a
most natural, if it be a weak longing. "Allow me, if you can, one
solace, one blessed thought to cheer a long life of loneliness and
devotion. I am bold in asking it; but, tell me, had I known you
earlier, had no predilection forestalled me, had no rival intervened,
do you think it possible that you should have returned my love?"
Some one says that all women are reared hypocrites—trained to veil
their natures; Isabella Linwood, at least, was not. She replied,
impulsively and frankly, "Most certainly I should."
Eliot again fell at her feet. He ventured to take her hand, to
press it to his lips, to wet it with his tears. "I am satisfied," he
said; "now I can go; and the thought that I might, under a happier
star, have been loved by Isabella Linwood, shall elevate, guide, and
sooth me, in all the chances and changes of life."
While Eliot was uttering these last words, and while Isabella was
absorbed in the emotions they excited, the door was softly opened, and
Lizzy Archer, flitting across the room, said in a low voice, "Oh,
Captain Lee! what shall we do?—there are horrid soldiers watching at
both our doors for you—mamma is out, and I could not sleep—I never
sleep when you are here, for fear something will happen—I heard their
voices at the side door; and when I came through the hall, I heard
others through the street door—what shall we do?—Cousin Belle, pray
think—you can always think in a minute."
But "Cousin Belle's" presence of mind had suddenly forsaken her;
and as Eliot's eye glanced towards her, he saw she was pale and
trembling. A hope shot into his mind, a thought of the possibility that
if he were not now severed from her, that which she had generously
admitted might have been, might still be. To exclude this new-born hope
seemed to him like the extinction of life. He rapidly revolved the
circumstances in which he was placed. He had done, in the
affairintrusted to him, all, and even more than his commander expected;
it had failed of consummation through no fault of his; he was in the
American uniform, and thus captured, he might claim the rights of a
prisoner of war; the temporary loss of his presence in camp would be
unimportant to the cause; and remaining for a time within reach of
Isabella Linwood might result in good, infinite good, and happiness to
himself. He wavered; but the fixed habit of rectitude prevailed, the
duty of the soldier over the almost irresistible inclinations of the
man: he shut out the temptation, and only considered the means of
escape. "Dear Lizzy," he said, "if I could find my way to your
skylight—I have observed the descent would not be dangerous from there
to the back building, and so down on the roofs of the other offices."
"But," said Lizzy, for the little creature seemed to have
considered the whole ground, "if there should be soldiers too at the
"I will avoid them, Lizzy, by going into the next yard to yours,
then over two or three walls, till I find it safe to emerge into the
"I can lead you to the skylight. I am very glad I am blind, so I
shall not need any light; for that would show you to the soldiers, who
are standing by the side windows of the hall-door. Oh, dear, I hope
they won't hear my heart beat; but it does beat so!"
There were other hearts there that beat almostaudibly besides poor
Lizzy's; but there was no time to indulge emotions. Eliot kissed his
unconscious sister; and then grasping the hand Isabella extended to
him, he would have said, "Farewell for ever!" but his voice was choked,
and the last ominous word was unpronounced. His little guide led him
noiselessly up the stairs, through the entries, and to the skylight;
and then fondly embracing him and promising to give his farewells to
"mother and Ned," she parted from him, and stood fixed and breathless,
listening till she believed he had eluded those who were lying in wait
for him, when she returned to give full vent to her feelings on
Isabella's bosom, and to find more sympathy there than she wotted of.
We shall not follow our hero through his "imminent dangers and
hair-breadth' scapes." Suffice it to say, he did escape; and having
passed the Hudson in the same little boat that brought "Harmann Van
Zandt" to the city, he eluded the British station at Powles Hook,
passed their redoubts, and at dawn of day received at the camp at
Morris-town the warm thanks of Washington, who estimated conduct by its
intrinsic merit, and not, according to the common and false standard,
by its results.
"Good sir, good sir, you are deceived; it is no man at all!"
At any other juncture, Mr. Linwood would have been restless and
unappeasable under the privation of Isabella's society; but now, in his
interest and sympathy in Herbert's affairs, and in his fondness for
Lady Anne, he found full employment for his thoughts and feelings. Lady
Anne persisted in considering herself Herbert's betrothed; and in spite
of her aunt, who, as her niece affirmed, had become insupportably cross
and teasing, she persevered in spending all her evenings with the
Linwoods. The charm that love imparts to those who are connected with
the object of a concentrated affection, was attached to Herbert's
father and mother. Lady Anne felt the most tender anxieties for her
lover; but, sustained by the buoyancy of youth, and a most cheerful and
sanguine disposition, she was uniformly bright and animated. Her
sparkling eye and dimpled cheek were happiness to Mr. Linwood; the old
love cheerfulness as the dim eye delights in brilliant colours.
Mrs. Archer, who was always, in Mr. Linwood's estimation, the next
best to Isabella, devoted her evenings to him. She saw, or fancied she
saw, that Bessie's countenance expressed a pleased consciousness of
Isabella's presence; at any rate, she knew that there was another
countenance always lighted up by it. Accordingly, she repaired every
evening to Mr. Linwood, and played rubber after rubber, performing her
tiresome duty with such zest and zeal, that Mr. Linwood pronounced her
a comfortable partner and respectable antagonist—"a deal more than he
could say for any other woman."
While the surface of this little society remained as usual, there
was a strong under-current at work. Herbert, after his explanation with
Lady Anne, was resolved to leave no effort unmade to effect his escape
from durance, and put himself in the way of those brighter hours that
youth and health whispered might come. His first step was taken the
morning after his parting with Lady Anne. He enclosed the permit for
his visits at home, sent to him by Sir Henry Clinton, to that
gentleman, with an acknowledgment of his kindness, but without
assigning any reason for declining to avail himself of it farther. He
was careful not to involve his honour by any pretences in relation to
that obligation; it was off his hands, and he thanked Heaven he was now
free to use whatever stratagem would avail him. He feigned illness. He
knew Rose would be sent to inquire after him; and he also knew that,
when told he was ill, she would, by force or favour, obtain access to
him. Fortunately, she was admitted without hesitation;for Cunningham,
conscious of the bad odour he was in on account of his ill-treatment of
the American prisoners, deemed it his best policy to inflict no
gratuitous hardship on the son of Mr. Linwood. Rose, once admitted,
became first counsellor and coadjutor; and with the aid of the young
ladies at home, a project was contrived, of which this noble creature
was to be the main executer. Herbert's illness, of course, continued
unabated; and Rose repeated her visits daily, and made her last, as she
hoped, the evening succeeding Eliot's escape. "Lock me in," she said to
the turnkey, "and leave me a quarter of an hour or so. I want to coax
Mr. Herbert to take a biscuit; he'd die on your dum stuff." Rose had,
in fact, brought to Linwood, daily, more substantial rations than
biscuit, and thus enabled him to gratify his appetite without
endangering his reputation as an invalid. He was in bed when Rose
entered, and out of it the moment the turnkey closed the door—"Oh,
Rose, God bless you! Is all arranged?" he asked.
"Every thing, Mr. Herbert, snug as a bug in a rug. The young ladies
came with me to Mrs. Lizzy's, and she is to be at Smith's house with
them precisely at seven. It is now half past six. Mrs. Lizzy's boat,
with the muffled oars, that's got off many a prisoner before you, is
now waiting for you."
"And are my sister and Lady Anne going to Smith's house without any
"Dear, yes! they are wrapped in cloaks—nobody will know them; and
Mrs. Lizzy is as good a guard as horse, foot, and dragoon; there's not
a thimbleful of danger, Mr. Herbert, and they fear none, bless their
hearts! To be sure, Miss Belle is no great of a soldier in common, and
Lady Anne will scream like all natur' at a mouse; but love is a great
help to courage in young parsons."
While Rose was making these communications, to which Herbert
eagerly listened, she was doffing an extra set of linsey-woolsey
garments, and transferring them to her young master, who somewhat
delayed their adjustment, by putting his feet first into the "cursed
petticoat," as he profanely termed it. That most respectable feminine
article arranged to Rose's satisfaction, she put over it a shortgown,
and a checked handkerchief over all. "Now for the beauties," she said,
drawing from her pocket a wig and mask, and holding them up in either
hand, "Miss Belle made one, and Lady Anne t'other."
The mask, if it might be so called, was well coloured, and bore a
tolerable likeness to Rose. Linwood was enchanted. "Which," he
exclaimed, "which did Lady Anne make, Rose?"
Linwood seized it, kissed it, and exclaimed, "Admirably, admirably
"It was not half the trouble the wig was," said Rose.
"Oh, that is capital too, Rose."
"But you don't carry on so about it. Land's sake! However, I
suppose you love Miss Belle as well, only it an't a kind of love that
"True, Rose; you may be sure I shall never love anybody better than
I do my sister."
Rose was satisfied, and proceeded to tie on the mask, and adjust
the fleecy locks. "It's a main pity," she said, "to cover your pretty
shining hair with what looks like nigger's wool, as they call it."
"Not a bit—not a bit, Rose. I know some wool that covers a far
better head than mine—more capable, more discerning; and God never
created a nobler heart than beats under one black skin."
"Pooh! Mr. Herbert." Rose's pooh was a disclaimer; but as she put
it in, she brushed a tear from her eye; then tying a mobcap and black
silk bonnet over the wig, and throwing over his shoulders her short
blue broadcloth cloak, and hiding his white hands in her mittens, she
laughed exultingly, declaring she "should not herself know him from
herself." "Now you're readied," she said, "settle down as you walk—be
prudent, Mr. Herbert—look before you leap. Don't answer them dum
fellows, when you go out, a word more than yes or no—I never do. Do
your endeavours, and the Lord will help you. He helps them as helps
themselves— hark! there comes the fellow."
Before the turnkey opened the door she was in bed, her head
enveloped in the bedclothes; and Herbert stood, her basket on his arm,
apparently waiting. No suspicion was excited, nor questions asked. They
went out, and the door was relocked. Rose raised her head to listen to
their receding footsteps. The footsteps ceased, and she heard
Cunningham's (the provost-marshal's) voice, "Well, wench," he said,
addressing, as she knew, her counterfeit, "how goes it with your young
"Now the Lord o'mercy help him!" she exclaimed; "he used to mimic
Jupe—if he only can me."
She did not hear Herbert's reply; but she heard Cunningham say, as
if responding to it—"Poorlier, hey? I've got something here that will
bring back his stomach—respects to your master—mind, wench." Again
she heard Herbert's footsteps recede, and Cunningham enter her cell,
and shut and lock the door.
Cunningham's name was a terror to the whigs, and to all that cared
for them. The man's excessive cruelty and meanness may be inferred from
the extravagant allegations current at the time; that he was in the
habit of putting the American prisoners of war to death, in order to
sequester the rations allowed them. He had recently reason for
apprehensions that an inquiry would be instituted into his conduct by
the commander-in-chief, who certainly did not authorize unnecessary
cruelties, if he neglected to take cognizance of them.
Rose's head was well muffled in the bedclothes, when Cunningham,
coming up to the bed, said, "How goes it, Mr. Linwood; bile uppermost
yet? Come,lift up your head, and speak, man—can't you give an answer
to a civil word? Come, come, I'm not Tom nor Sam, to be put off this
way—next thing you'll bolt, and I shall have it to answer for; but
they sha'n't say I did not do the good Samaritan by you. You won't
eat—you won't hear to the doctor —the d—l is in you, man; why don't
you rise up? Here's a dose you must take, any how—it's what they give
in all cases, calomel and jalap— come, man, if fair means won't do,
foul must." The patient continued obstinate, and Cunningham set down
the dose, which was mixed in a huge coffee-bowl, beside a basket of
vials, containing sundry nauseous medicines, designed for the poor
prisoners, as if bad food were not poison and torture enough for them.
A contest began, in which Cunningham had reason to be astonished at the
strength of the invalid. In the scramble, Rose's head was disengaged
from the bedclothes; the truth was revealed, and she sprang on him like
a tiger on its prey. The cowardly wretch shrunk back, and drew a knife,
crying out, "You d—d nigger!" Rose wrested it from him, and her spirit
disdaining the assassin's weapon, she thrust it into the wall,
exclaiming—"Now we're even!"
He sprung towards the door—she pulled him back, threw him down,
put her knee on his breast, and by the time he had made one ineffectual
struggle, and once bellowed for help, she had added laudanum,
castor-oil, and ipecacuanha to the calomeland jalap; and holding his
nose between the thumb and finger of one hand, she presented the
overflowing bowl to his lips with the other. When she had convinced him
of her potentiality, by making him gulp down one swallow, she
mercifully withdrew the draught, saying, "If you offer to move one
inch, or make a sound, I'll pour it down your throat to the last drop."
She then released him from her grasp, and while he was panting and
shuddering, she turned her back, muttering something of stringing him
up in her clothes. The "clothes," which she quickly disengaged from
their natural office, proved to be her garters. As she stretched them
out, trying their strength, "My own spinning, twisting, and knitting,"
said she; "they'll bear the weight of twenty such slim pieces as you."
"Are you going to hang me?" gasped out Cunningham.
"Hang you? Yes; but not harm you, if you're quiet, mind. But I'd
choke you twice over to give Mr. Herbert time: so mind and keep your
breath to cool your porridge." She then turned him over, bound his
hands behind him with one garter, and made a slip-noose with the other,
while he, like a reptile in the talons of a vulture, crawled and
squirmed with a hopeless resistance. "There's no use," said Rose;
"you're but a baby in my hands—it's the strong heart makes the strong
arm." She then set him upright on Herbert's bed, putthe noose around
his neck, and made the other end fast to an iron hook in the wall. This
was just achieved, when a hurried footstep was heard, followed by a
clattering at the door, and a call for "Master Cunningham!—Master
Cunningham!" Rose placed her foot against the foot of the bedstead;
Cunningham understood the menace, and suppressed the cry on his lips.
The calls were reiterated. Cunningham cast one glance at Rose; her foot
was fixed, her lips compressed, and her eyes glaring with a resolution
stern as fate. Cunningham felt that the alternative was silence or
death, and his face convulsed between the impulse to respond and the
effort to keep quiet. The knocking and screaming were repeated; and
then finding them ineffectual, the person went off to seek his master
elsewhere. Other sounds now roused Rose's generous spirit, and tempted
her to inflict the vengeance so well deserved; but hers was not the
mind to be swayed by opportunity—"convenience snug."
The apartment adjoining Linwood's was spacious, and crammed with
American prisoners. There was a communicating door between them,
through which could be distinctly heard any sound or movement louder
than usual. Loring, in his customary evening round, had entered this
apartment. Loring was Cunningham's coadjutor, and is described by Ethan
Allen, who had himself notable experience in that prison, as "the most
meanspirited, cowardly, deceitful, and destructive animalin God's
creation." Rose heard Loring command the prisoners to get to their
beds, in his customary phrase (we retrench a portion of its vulgarity
and profanity): "Kennel, d—n ye—kennel, ye sons of Belial!"
At this brutal address to persons whom Rose honoured as a Catholic
honours the saints, her blood boiled within her. She hastily withdrew
her foot from the bedpost, and strided to the extremity of the narrow
apartment; then turning and stretching her arm towards Cunningham, she
said, with an energy that made his blood curdle, "It is not for me to
'venge them, but God will. Their children shall be lords in the land,
and sound out their fathers' names with ringing of bells and firing of
cannon, when you, and Loring, and all such car'on, have died and rotted
like dogs, as ye are."
The sounds in the adjoining apartment after a while subsided, and
with them Rose's ire. She seated herself to await the latest hour when
she could retire from the prison, and elude the suspicion of the
sentinel, the only person whose vigilance she had to encounter.
The footsteps had ceased from the passages, and sleep seemed, like
rain, to have fallen on the just and the unjust—the keepers and their
prisoners. Cunningham, seeing Rose preparing to take her departure,
begged her, in the most abject manner, before she went, to release him
from his frightful position.
"No, no," she obstinately replied to his supplications, "ye shall
hang in iffigy, to be seen and scorned by your own people; but one
marcy I'll do you; if you'll hold your tongue, I'll not let out, while
the war lasts—while the war lasts, remember, that you were strung up
there by a 'd—n nigger'—a nigger woman!"
It appeared that Cunningham was glad to accept this very small
mercy, by the report that afterward prevailed, that he had only escaped
a fitting end through the forbearance of Mr. Herbert Linwood.
Rose passed unmolested through the passage and the outer door,
which, being locked on the inside, and the key in the wards, opposed no
obstacle to her retreat. The sentinel in the yard saw and recognised
her; but not being the same who was on guard when the first Dromeo
passed, he merely inferred that Rose had been permitted to remain
longer than usual; and kindly opening the gate, he responded civilly to
her civil "good-night."
Rose went home, not however to enjoy the quiet sleep which should
have followed so good a piece of work as she had achieved, but to
suffer, and see others suffer, the most distressful apprehensions.
"Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now."
Isabella and Lady Anne, cloaked and hooded, repaired to Dame
Bengin's some half hour, as may be remembered, before the time
appointed for their meeting with Linwood. This forerunning of the hour
was to allow them to take advantage of Rose's escort. It did not pass
without a censure from their wary coadjutor. "You lack discretion,
young ladies," she said; "and I lacked it too when I let you in
partners in this business. My father used to say, 'if you want to go
safe over a tottering plank, always go alone.' However, we must make
the best of it now: so just take this box of ribands, and stand at the
farther end of the counter, and seem to be finding a match. It is
nothing strange for ladies to be tedious at that."
The young ladies obeyed, but Lady Anne fretted in an under voice at
the delay; and Isabella ventured a remonstrance, to which Dame Bengin,
an autocrat in her own domain, replied, "She must go her own way; that
full twenty minutes were left to the time appointed for the meeting at
Smith's house, and time was money to her."
"I wish to Heaven I could wring that parrot's neck," whispered Lady
Anne; "I do believe the people answer to its call." The parrot kept up
a continuous scream of "Come in!—come in!" that might have tormented
nerves less excitable than our friend's were at this moment.
"I surmise we are going to have a storm," said an old woman, who
had stepped in for a pennyworth of cochinia for her grandchildren; "its
always a sign of a storm when Sylvy keeps up such a chattering at
night-fall." Lizzy Bengin went to the door, and looked anxiously at the
"Come in!—come in!" cried Sylvy; and, as if obedient to her
summons, trotted in, one after another, half a dozen urchins. One
wanted "a skein of sky-blue silk for aunt Polly: not too light, nor too
dark; considerable fine, and very strong; not too slack nor too hard
twisted." Lizzy Bengin looked over half a dozen papers before she could
meet the order of her customer.
"Pray send the whole to aunt Polly," cried Lady Anne; "I will pay
you, Bengin." The boy stared, the dame seemed not to hear her, and bade
the boy run home and tell aunt Polly she hoped the skein would suit.
"Twopence worth of button-moulds-just this size, ma'am." The
indefatigable Mrs. Bengin explored the button-mould box.
"Mammy wants a nail of silk, a shade lighter than the sample." Mrs.
Bengin looked over her pile of silks.
"Come in!—come in!" still cried Sylvy, certainly not the silent
partner of the house.
"Aunty wants a dust of snuff, and she'll pay you to-morrow."
"How much is a drawing of your best bohea, Mrs. Bengin?"
"Mrs. Lizzy, uncle John wants to know if you've got any shoes about
little Johnny's size?"
While Mrs. Bengin, who was quite in the habit of securing the mint,
anise, and cummin of her little trade, was with the utmost composure
satisfying these multifarious demands, the minutes seemed ages to our
impatient friends; Isabella took out her watch. The dame perceived the
movement, and seemed to receive an impulse from it, for she was
dismissing the shoe inquirer with a simple negative, when in came a
black girl, with a demand for "spirits of camphire."
"What's the matter, Phillis?"
"Madam Meredith has got the hystrikes."
"Then she has my note," whispered Lady Anne.
While the camphire was pouring out, a sturdy sailor-boy entered.
"Ah, is that you, Tom Smith? A hand of tobacco you're wanting? Well,
first come first served—just be taking in Sylvy, while I'm getting a
cork to suit the vial." Mrs. Bengin seemed suddenly fluttered by a look
from Tom,and she bade the servant run home sans cork. The moment
Phillis had passed the threshold, Lizzy said, "Speak out, Tom, there
are none but friends here!"
"It's too late, Lizzy Bengin, you're lost!"
The inquiries and replies that followed were rapid. The amount of
Tom's intelligence was, that some combustibles had been discovered near
the magazine, and that as strange persons had recently been observed
going to and coming from Lizzy's shop, it was believed that a plot had
been there contrived; the commandant had issued an order for her
apprehension, and men were by this time on their way to seize her.
Lizzy Bengin had so often been suspected, and threatened, and
eluded detection, that she did not now believe her good fortune had
deserted her. She heard Tom through, and then said, "My boat is ready
and I'll dodge them yet."
Isabella ventured to ask, with scarcely a ray of hope, "if they
might still go with her?"
"Yes, if you're not afeared, and will be prudent. Shut the
shutters, Tom—lock the door after us, and keep them out as long as
possible, that we may gain time. Throw my books into the loft—don't
let 'em rummage and muss my things, and look to Sylvy." Her voice was
slightly tremulous as she added, "If any thing happens to me, Tom, be
kind to Sylvy!"
By this time her cloak and hood were on, and they sallied forth.
Dame Lizzy's valour was too well tempered by discretion to have
permitted her to consent to the attendance of the young ladies, if she
had not, after calculating the chances, been quite sure that no danger
would be thereby incurred. She believed that her pursuers, after being
kept at bay by her faithful ally Tom, would be at a loss where next to
seek her. The place appointed for meeting Linwood was a little
untenanted dwelling, near the water's edge, called "Smith's house."
There he was to doff his disguise, and there, should there be any
uproar in the streets, the young ladies could remain till all was
quiet. Isabella and Lady Anne were in no temper to consider risks and
chances. Life, to the latter, seemed to be set on the die of seeing
Herbert once more. Isabella felt a full sympathy with this most natural
desire, and an intense eagerness to be immediately assured of her
brother's escape; so, clinging close to their sturdy friend, they
The old woman's interpretation of Sylvy's cries proved a true one.
A storm was gathering rapidly. Large drops of rain pattered on the
pavement, and the lightning flashed at intervals. But the distance to
the boat, lying in a nook just above Whitehall, was short, and the
moon, some seven nights old, was still unclouded. They soon reached
"Smith's house," and heard the joyful signal-whistle previously agreed
"He is here!" exclaimed Isabella.
Lady Anne's fluttering heart was on her lips, but she did not
speak. Herbert joined them.
"Now kiss and part," cried Lizzy Bengin. The first command was
superfluous; the second it seemed impossible to obey. It was no time
for words, and few did they mingle with the choking sighs of parting,
but these few were of the marvellous coinage of the heart, and the
heart was stamped upon them. The storm increased, and the darkness
thickened. "Come, come; this won't do, young folks," cried their
impatient leader; "we must be off—we've foul weather to cross the
river, and then to pass the enemy's stations before daylight—the
hounds may be on our heels too—we must go."
All felt the propriety, the necessity of this movement. Lady Anne
only begged that they might go to the water's edge, and see the boat
off. Dame Bengin interposed no objection; that would only have caused
fresh entreaties and longer delay, and they set forward. The distance
to the boat was not above a hundred yards; they had reached the shore,
Mrs. Bengin was already in the boat, and Herbert speaking his last
word, when they heard the voices of pursuers, and the next flash of
lighting revealed a file of soldiers rushing towards them. Lady Anne
shrieked; Lizzy Bengin screamed, "Jump in, sir, or I'll push off
"Go," cried Isabella, "dear Herbert, go."
"I will not—I cannot, and leave you in the hands of these
"Oh, no! do not—do not, Herbert," entreated Lady Anne, "take me
with you." This was enough and irresistible. Herbert clasped his arm
around her, and leaped into the boat.
"Come with us, Isabella," screamed Lady Anne.
"For God's sake, come, Belle," shouted Herbert. Isabella wavered
for an instant. Another glare of lightning showed the soldiers within a
few feet of her, looking, in that lurid light, fierce and terrible
beyond expression; Isabella obeyed the impulse of her worst fears and
leaped into the boat; and Lizzy, who stood with her oar fixed,
instantly pushed from the shore. Curses burst from the lips of their
"We'll have them yet," exclaimed their leader. "To the Whitehall
dock, boys, and get out a boat!"
Our boat's company was silent. Herbert, amid a host of other
anxieties, was, as he felt Lady Anne's tremulous grasp, bitterly
repenting this last act of a rashness which he flattered himself
experience had cured, and Isabella was thinking of the beating hearts
Dame Bengin, composed, and alone wholly intent on the present
necessity, was the first to speak. "Don't be scared, little lady," she
said; "sit down quiet—don't touch his arm—he'll need all its
strength. Do you take the tiller, Miss Linwood— mind exactly what I
tell you—I know every turnin the current—don't lay out so much
strength on your oars, Captain Linwood—keep time to the dip of
mine—that will do!"
Dame Bengin, with good reason, plumed herself on her nautical
skill. Her father had been a pilot, and Lizzy being his only child, he
had repaired, as far as possible, what he considered the calamity of
her sex, by giving her the habits of a boy. Her childhood was spent on
the water, and nature and early training had endowed her with the
masculine spirit and skill that now did her such good service. The
courage and cowardice of impulse are too much the result of physical
condition to be the occasion of either pride or shame.
The wind was rising, the lightning becoming more vivid and
continuous, and the pelting cold rain driving in the faces of our poor
fugitives. The lightning gloriously lit up a wild scene; the bay, a
"phosphoric sea;" the little islands, that seemed in the hurly-burly to
be dancing on the crested waves; and the shores, that looked like the
pale regions of some ghostly land. Still the little boat leaped the
waves cheeringly, and still no sound of fear was heard within it. There
is something in the sublime manifestations of power in the battling
elements, that either stimulates the mind of man, "stirs the feeling
infinite," and exalts it above a consciousness of the mortality that
invests it, or crushes it under a sense of its own impotence. Our
little boat's company were a groupfor a painter, if a painter could
kindle his picture with electric light. Lizzy Bengin, her short
muscular arms bared, and every nerve of body and mind strained, plied
her oars, at each stroke giving a new order to her unskilled but most
obedient coadjutors. Isabella's head was bare, her dark hair hanging in
masses on each side her face, her poetic eye turning from "heaven to
earth and earth to heaven," her face in the lurid light as pale as
marble, and like that marble on which the sculptor has expressed his
own divine imaginings in the soft forms of feminine beauty. Lady Anne
sat at Herbert's feet, her eye fixed on his face, passively and quietly
awaiting her fate, not doubting that fate would be to go to the bottom,
but feeling that such a destiny would be far more tolerable with her
lover, than any other without him. This dependance, "love overcoming
the fear of death," inspired Herbert with preternatural strength. His
fine frank face beamed with hope and resolution, and his eye, as ever
and anon it fell on the loving creature at his feet, was suffused with
a mother's tenderness.
In the intervals of darkness they guided the boat by the lights on
the shores, and towards a light that, kindled by a confederate of Lizzy
Bengin's for Herbert's benefit, blazed steadily, in spite of the rain,
a mile below Powles Hook.
They were making fair headway, when they perceived a sail-boat put
off from Whitehall.They were pursued, and their hearts sunk within
them; but Lizzy Bengin soon rallied, and her inspiring voice was heard,
calculating the chances of escape. "The storm," she said, "is in our
favour —no prudent sailor would spread a sail in such a gusty night.
The wind is flawy too, and we can manage our boat, running first for
one point and then for another, so as to puzzle them, and in some of
their turns, if they have not more skill than any man has shown since
my father's day, they'll capsize their boat."
We dare not attempt to describe the chase that followed; the
dexterous manœuvring of the little boat, now setting towards Long
Island, now back to the city, now for Governor's Island, now up, and
then down the river. We dare not attempt it. Heaven seems to have
endowed a single genius of our land with a chartered right to all the
water privileges for the species of manufacture in which we are
engaged, and his power but serves to set in desperate relief the
weakness of his inferiors. The water is not our element, and we should
be sure to show an "alacrity in sinking."
Suffice it to say, it seemed that the efforts of our little boat's
crew must prove unavailing; that after Dame Bengin's sturdy spirit had
yielded to her woman's nature, and she had dropped her oars, and given
the common signals of her sex's weakness in streaming tears and
wringing hands, Herbert continued laboriously to row, till Lady Anne,
fainting, dropped her head on his knee, and Isabella entreated him to
submit at once to their inevitable fate. Nothing indeed now remained
but to run the boat ashore, to surrender themselves to their pursuers,
to obtain aid for Lady Anne, and secure protection to her and Isabella.
The resolution taken, the boat was suddenly turned; the sail-boat
turned also, but too suddenly; the wind struck and capsized it. The bay
was in a blaze of light when the sail dipped to the water—intense
darkness followed—no shriek was heard.
After the first exclamations burst from the lips of our friends,
not a sound proceeded from them, not a breath of exultation at a
deliverance that involved their fellow-beings in destruction. The
stroke of Herbert's oars ceased, and the fugitives awaited breathlessly
the next flash of lightning, to enable them to extend their aid, if aid
could be given. The lightning came and was repeated, but nothing was to
be seen but the boat drifting away at the mercy of the waves.
A few moments more brought them to land, where, beside their
beacon-light, stood an untenanted fisherman's hut, in which they found
awaiting them a comfortable fire and substantial food. These "creature
comforts," with rest and rekindled hope, soon did their work of
restoration. And the clouds clearing away, and the stars shining out
cheerily, Lizzy Bengin, aware that her presence rather encumbered and
endangered the companions of her flight than benefited them, bade them
a kind good-night, and sought refuge among some of her Jersey
acquaintance, true-hearted to her, and to all their country's friends.
"Good to begin well, better to end well."
What was next to be done was as puzzling to our friends as the
passage of that classic trio, the fox, the goose, and the corn, was to
our childish ingenuity. Duty and safety were involved in Linwood's
return to the American camp with all possible expedition. General
Washington was at Morristown, and the American army was going into
winter quarters in its immediate vicinity. Thither Linwood must go, and
so thought Lady Anne must she. "Fate," she said, "had seconded her
inclinations, and to contend against their united force was impossible;
why should she not give her hand to Herbert at once and be happy,
instead of returning to vex and be vexed by her disappointed aunt?
After they had made sure of happiness and Heaven's favour, for Heaven
would smile on the union of true and loving hearts, let the world
gossip to its heart's content about Linwood running off with an
heiress; he who was so far above a motive so degrading and
soul-sacrificing, could afford the imputation of it, and would soon
outlive it." There was both nature and truth in her reasoning, and it
met with her lover's full and irrepressible sympathy; with Isabella's
too, but not with her acquiescence.
Poor Isabella! it was hard for one who had her keen participation
in the happiness of other to oppose it, and to hazard by delay the loss
of its richest materials. There was an earnest seconding of their
entreaties, too, from a voice in the secret depths of her heart, which
whispered that Eliot Lee was at Morristown; but what of that? ay,
Isabella, what of that? Once at Morristown, her return to the city
might be indefinitely delayed; innumerable obstacles might interpose,
and to return to her father was an imperative and undeferable duty. To
permit Lady Anne to proceed without her would be to expose her to
gossip and calumny. Isabella's was the ruling spirit; and after
arguments, entreaties, and many tears on the lady's part, the lovers
deferred to the laws of propriety as expounded by her; and it was
agreed that Linwood should escort the ladies to the outskirts of the
Dutch village of Bergen, which could not be more than two or three
miles distant; that there they should part, and thence the means of
returning to the city without an hour's delay might easily be
Accordingly, two hours before daylight, they set forth, following,
through obscure and devious footpaths, the general direction of Bergen.
Miranda truly says, "it is the good-will to the labour that makes the
task easy." Lady Anne had no goodwill to hers, and her footsteps were
feeble and faltering. The day dawned, the sun rose, and as yet they saw
no landmarks to indicate the vicinity of Bergen. Herbert feared they
had missed their way; but without communicating his apprehensions, he
proposed the ladies should take shelter in a log-hut they had reached,
and which he thought indicated the proximity of a road, while he went
He had been gone half an hour, when Isabella and Lady Anne were
startled by the firing of guns. They listened breathlessly. The firing
was repeated, but unaccompanied by the sound of voices, footsteps, or
the trampling of horses.
"It is not near," said Isabella to her little friend, who had
clasped her hands in terror; "Herbert will hear it and return to us,
and we are quite safe here."
"Yes; but if he is taken—murdered, Isabella? Oh, let us go and
know the worst."
"It would be folly," replied Isabella, "to expose ourselves, and
risk the possibility of missing Herbert; but if you will be quiet, we
will creep up to that eminence," pointing to a hill before them; "if it
is cleared on the other side, we may see without being seen."
They forthwith mounted the hill, which presented a view of an open
country, traversed by several cross-roads. The point where they
intersected, a quarter of a mile distant, at once fixed their gaze. A
party of some thirty Americans, part mounted and part on foot, were
engaged in a hot contest with more than an equal number of the
enemy.Lady Anne grasped Isabella's arm, both were silent for a moment,
when a cry burst from Lady Anne's lips, "It is—it is he!"
"Who? where—what mean you?"
"Your brother, Isabella!—there, the foremost! on the black horse!"
"It is he! God have mercy on us!—and there is Eliot Lee!"
Lady Anne's eye was riveted to Linwood. "There are three upon him,"
she screamed; "fly, fly!—Oh, why does he not fly?"
"He fights bravely," cried Isabella, covering her eyes. "Heaven aid
you, my brother!"
"It's all over," shrieked Lady Anne.
Isabella looked again. Herbert's horse had fallen under him. "No,
no," she cried; "he lives! he is rising!"
"But they are rushing on him—they will cut him to pieces!"
Isabella sprang forward, as if she would herself have gone to his
rescue, exclaiming—"My brother, Herbert—Oh, Eliot has come to his
aid! God be praised!—See, Anne!—look up. Now they fight side by
side!—Courage, courage, Anne! Mercy upon us, why does Eliot Lee turn
"Oh, why does not Herbert turn too? if he would but fly while he
"Ah, there he comes!" exclaimed Isabella, without heeding her
companion's womanly wish, "urging forward those men from behind the
wagons—On, on, good fellows! Ah, that movement is working well—see,
see; the enemy is disconcerted! they are falling back! thank God, thank
God! See what confusion they are in; they are running, poor wretches;
they are falling under that back fire!"
The flying party had taken a road which led to an enclosed meadow,
and they were soon stopped by a fence. This opposed a slight obstacle,
but it occasioned delay. The Americans were close upon them; they
turned, threw down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners.
Shortly after, Eliot Lee, his face radiant with a joy that fifty
victories could not have inspired, stood at the entrance of the
log-hut, informing the ladies that Linwood had confided them to his
care; Linwood himself having received a wound, which, though slight,
unfitted him for that office, and rendered immediate surgical aid
desirable to him. His friend had bidden him say to Miss Linwood that
they had wandered far from Bergen; and that as they could not now get
there without the danger of encountering parties of the enemy, nothing
remained but to accept Captain Lee's protection to Morristown.
"Do you hesitate now, Isabella?" asked Lady Anne, impatiently.
"No, my dear girl, there is now no choice for us."
"Thank Heaven for that. Nothing but necessity would conquer you,
Isabella." The necessity met a very willing submission from Isabella;
andshe was half inclined to acquiesce in a whispered intimation from
Lady Anne, "that it was undoubtedly the will of Heaven they should go
to Morristown." They were soon seated in a wagon, and proceeding
forward, escorted by Eliot and a guard, and hearing from him the
following explanation of his most fortunate meeting with Linwood.
Eliot Lee had been sent by Washington, with wagons, and a
detachment of chosen men, to afford a safe convoy for some important
winter-stores that had been run across from New-York to the Jersey
shore for the use of the officers' families at Morristown. In the
meantime, a vigilant enemy had sent an intimation of the landing of
these stores, and of their destination, to the British station at
Powles Hook, and a detachment of men had been thence despatched with
the purpose of anticipating the rightful proprietors.
Eliot, on his route, encountered one of the enemy's videttes, whom
he took prisoner, and who, to baffle him, told him the stores were
already at Powles Hook. Eliot, warily distrusting the information,
proceeded, and directly after, and just as he came in view of the
enemy's party, he met Herbert issuing from the wood. A half moment's
explanation was enough. The vidette was dismounted, Herbert put in his
place, armed with his arms, and a golden opportunity afforded (to which
the brave fellow did full justice), to win fresh laurels wherewith to
grace his return to the dreaded, and yet most desired, presence of his
"Our profession is the chastest of all. The shadow of a fault
tarnishes our most brilliant actions. The least inadvertence may cause
us to lose that public favour which is so hard to gain."
The quotation from a public reprimand of Washington to a general
officer, which forms the motto to this chapter, contains the amount of
his reproof to Linwood in their first and private interview. Even this
reproof was softened by the generous approbation his general expressed
of the manliness and respectful submission with which he had endured
the penalty of his rashness. Linwood's heart was touched; and, obeying
the impulse of his frank nature, he communicated the circumstances that
had mitigated his captivity, and gave a sort of dot and line sketch of
his love-tale to the awe-inspiring Washington. Oh the miracles of love!
But let not too much power be ascribed to the blind god. Linwood's
false impressions of Washington's impenetrable sternness were effaced
by his own experience, the most satisfactory of all evidence. He found
that this great man, like Him whom he imitated, was not strict to mark
iniquity, and was, whenever he could be so without the sacrifice of
higher duties, alive to social virtues and affections.
"Well, my young friend," he said, as Linwood concluded, "you
certainly have made the most of your season of affliction, and now we
must take care of these generous companions of your flight. Our
quarters are stinted; but Mrs. Washington has yet a spare room, which
they must occupy till they can return with safety to the city, and
choose to do so."
Linwood thought himself, and with good reason, requited a thousand
fold for all his trials. His only embarrassment was relieved, and he
had soon after the happiness of presenting his sister and Lady Anne
Seton to Mrs. Washington, a most benign and excellent woman, and of
confiding them to the hospitalities of her household. Eliot and
Linwood's gallantry, in their rencounter with the enemy, was marked,
and advanced them in the opinion of their fellow-officers; but the
signal favour it obtained from the ladies of Morristown, must have been
in part a collateral consequence of the immense importance, to their
domestic comfort, of those precious stores which our friends had
secured for them.
Their sympathy in the romantic adventures of the young ladies was
manifested in the usual feminine mode, by a round of little parties:
from stern necessity, frugal entertainments, but abounding in one
luxury, so rare where all others now abound, that it might be thought
unattainable; the highest luxury of social life—what is it?
With the luggage of our heroines came encouraging accounts from
Mrs. Archer of Bessie Lee's progress, assurances of Mr. Linwood's
unwonted patience, and hints that it would be most prudent for her
young friends to remain where they were till the excitement, occasioned
by their departure, had subsided. Still Isabella was so thoroughly
impressed with the filial duty of returning without any voluntary
delay, that at her urgent request, measures were immediately taken to
effect it; but obstacle after obstacle intervened. Sir Henry Clinton
was about taking his departure for the south, and he put off from time
to time giving an official assurance of an act of oblivion in favour of
our romantic offenders. The rigours of that horrible winter of 1780,
still unparalleled in the annals of our hard seasons, set in, and
embarrassed all intercommunication.
It must be confessed, that Isabella bore these trials with such
gracious patience, that it hardly seemed to be the result of difficult
effort. It was quite natural that she should participate in the
overflowing happiness of her brother and friend. And it was natural
that, being now an eyewitness of the struggles, efforts, endurance, and
entire self-sacrifice of the great men that surrounded her, her mind,
acute in perception, and vigorous in reflection, should be excited and
gratified. There are those who deem political subjects beyond the
sphere of a woman's, certainly of a young woman's mind. But if our
young ladies were to give a portion ofthe time and interest they expend
on dress, gossip, and light reading, to the comprehension of the
constitution of their country, and its political institutions, would
they be less interesting companions, less qualified mothers, or less
amiable women? "But there are dangers in a woman's adventuring beyond
her customary path." There are; and better the chance of shipwreck on a
voyage of high purpose, than expend life in paddling hither and thither
on a shallow stream, to no purpose at all.
Isabella's mind was not regularly trained; and, like that of most
of her sex, the access to it was through the medium of her feelings.
Her sympathies were not limited to the few, the "bright, the immortal
names" that are now familiar as household words to us all. She saw the
same virtues that illustrated them conspicuous in the poor soldiers; in
that class of men that have been left out in the world's estimate, and
whose existence is scarcely recognised in its past history. The winter
of 1780 was characterized by Washington as "the decisive moment, the
most important America had seen!" The financial affairs of the country
were in the utmost disorder. The currency had so depreciated, that a
captain's pay would scarcely furnish the shoes in which he marched to
battle. The soldiers were without clothes or blankets, and this in our
coldest winter. They had been but a few days in their winter quarters
before the flour andmeat were exhausted; and yet, as Washington said in
a letter to Congress, after speaking of the patient and uncomplaining
fortitude with which the army bore their sufferings, "though there had
been frequent desertions—not one mutiny." Happy was it for America
that, in the beginning of her national existence, she thus tested the
virtue of the people, and, profiting by her experience, was confirmed
in her resolution to confide her destinies to them!
Something above the ordinary standard has been claimed for our
heroine; but it must be confessed, after all, that she was a mere
woman, and that the mainspring of her mind's movements was in her
heart. How much of Isabella's enthusiasm in the American cause was to
be attributed to her intercourse with Eliot Lee, we leave to be
determined by her peers. That intercourse had never been disturbed by
the cross-purposes, jarring sentiments, clashing opinions, and
ever-annoying disparities, that had so long made her life resemble a
troubled dream. Eliot's world was her world; his spirit answered to
hers. During that swift month that had flown away at Morristown, how
often had she secretly rejoiced in the complete severance of the chain
that had so long bound her to an "alternate slave of vanity and
love!"—how she exulted in her freedom—freedom! the voluntary service
of the heart is better than freedom.
There were no longer any barriers to Isabella and Lady Anne's
return to the city. The day wasfixed; it came; and while they were
packing their trunks, and thinking of the partings that awaited them,
Lady Anne's eyes streaming, and Isabella's changing cheek betraying a
troubled heart, a letter was handed to Lady Anne. She looked at the
superscription, threw it down, then resumed it, broke the seal, and
read it. Without speaking, she mused over it for a moment, then
suddenly disappeared, leaving her affairs unarranged, and did not
return till Isabella's trunk was locked, and she was about wrapping
herself in her travelling furs. She reproved her little friend's delay,
urged haste, suggested consolation, and offered assistance. Lady Anne
made no reply, but bent over her trunk, where, instead of arrangement,
she seemed to produce hopeless confusion. "How strange," she exclaimed,
"that Thérése should have sent me this fresh white silk dress!"
"Very strange; but pray do not stay to examine it now."
"Bless Thérése! Here is my Brussels veil, too!"
"My dear child, are you out of your senses? Our escort will be
waiting—pray, pray make haste."
"And pray, dear Belle, don't stand looking at me—you fidget me so.
Oh, I forgot to tell you Captain Lee asked for you—he is in the
drawing-room—go down to him—please, dear Belle." As Lady Anne looked
up, Isabella was struck with the changed expression of her countenance;
it wasbright and smiling, the sadness completely gone. But she did not
stay to speculate on the change, nor did she, it must be confessed,
advert to Lady Anne for the next fifteen minutes. Many thoughts rushed
through her mind as she descended the stairs. She wondered, painfully
wondered, if Eliot would allude to their memorable parting at Mrs.
Archer's; "if he should repeat what he then said, what could she say in
reply?" When she reached the drawing-room door, she was obliged to
pause to gain self-command; and when she opened it she was as pale as
marble, and her features had a stern composure that would have betrayed
her effort to any eye but Eliot's; to his they did not.
Eliot attempted to speak the commonplaces of such occasions, and
she to answer them; but his sentences were lame, and her replies
monosyllables; and they both soon sunk into a silence more expressive
of their mutual feelings.
"Lady Anne said he asked for me—well, it was but to tell me the
cold has abated!—and the sleighing is fine! and he trusts I shall
reach the city without inconvenience! What a poor simpleton I was to
fancy that such sudden and romantic devotion could be lasting. A very
little reality—a little everyday intercourse, has put the actual in
the place of the ideal!"
If Isabella had ventured to lift her eye to Eliot's face at this
moment, she would have read in the conflict it expressed the
contradiction of her falsesurmises; and if her eye had met his, the
conflict might have ceased, for it takes but a spark to explode a
magazine. But Eliot had come into her presence resolved to resist the
impulses of his heart, however strong they might be. He thought he
should but afflict her generous nature by a second expression of his
love, and his grief at parting. There had been moments when a glance of
Isabella's eye, a tone of her voice—a certain indescribable something,
which those alone who have heard and seen such can conceive, had
flashed athwart his mind like a sunbeam, and visions of bliss in years
to come had passed before him; but clouds and darkness followed, and he
remembered that Miss Linwood was unattainable to him—that if it were
possible by the devotion of years to win her, how should he render that
devotion, pledged as he was to his country for a service of uncertain
length, and severed as he must be from her by an impassable barrier of
circumstances? As he had said to Isabella, he had been trained in the
school of self-subjection, and never had he given such a proof of it as
in these last few moments; the last he expected ever to enjoy or suffer
with her. Both were so absorbed in their own emotions that they did not
notice the various entrances and exits of the servants, who were
bustling in and out, and arranging cake and wine on a sideboard, with a
deal of significance that would have amused unconcerned spectators. A
louder, more portentous bustle followed, the door was thrown wide open,
and both Eliot and Isabella were startled from their reveries by the
entrance of Mrs. Washington, attended by a gentleman in clerical robes,
and followed by Linwood and Lady Anne, in the bridal silk and veil that
Thérése, with inspiration worthy a French chambermaid, had forwarded.
"One word with you, Miss Linwood," said Mrs. Washington, taking
Isabella apart. "This dear little girl, it seems, was left independent
of all control by her fond father. The honourable scruples of your
family have alone prevented her surrendering her independence into your
brother's hands. She has this morning received a letter from her aunt,
written in a transport of rage, at her son's unexpected marriage with a
Miss Ruthven. I fancy it is a Miss Ruthven of the Virginia family
—Grenville Ruthven's eldest daughter?"
"Yes—yes—it is, madam," replied Isabella, with a faltering voice.
The emotion passed with the words.
"Lady Anne's aunt," resumed Mrs. Washington, "declares her
intention of immediately returning to England, and renounces her niece
for ever. Lady Anne and your brother have referred their case to me;
she saying, with her usual playfulness, that she has turned rebel, and
put herself under the orders of the commander-in-chief, or rather, he
being this morning absent, under mine. I have decided according to my
best judgmentThere seems to be no sufficient reason why they should
defer their nuptials, and endure the torments and perils of a
protracted separation. So, my dear Miss Linwood, you have nothing to do
but submit to my decision—take your place there as bride's-maid—you
see your brother has already stationed his friend, Captain Lee, beside
him as groom's-man—Colonel Hamilton is waiting our summons to give
away the bride."
At a signal from his mistress, a servant opened the door to the
adjoining room, and Hamilton entered, his face glowing with the
sympathies and chivalric sentiment always ready to gush from his heart
when its social spring was touched. Isabella had but time to whisper to
Lady Anne, "Just what I would have prayed for had I dared to hope it,"
when the clergyman opened his book and performed his office. That over,
Mrs. Washington, as the representative of the parents, pronounced a
blessing on the bridal pair; and that no due ceremonial should be
omitted, the bridal cake was cut and distributed according to
established usage; accompanied by a remark from Mrs. Washington, that
it must have been compounded by some good hymeneal genius, as it was
the only orthodox plum cake that had been or was like to be seen in
Morristown, during that hard winter.
Now came partings, and tears, and last kind words, and messages
that were sure to find their way to Mr. Linwood's heart, and a bit of
wedding-cakefor mamma, who would scarcely have believed her son
lawfully married unless she had tasted it; and last of all, an order
for a fine new suit for Rose, in compensation for that so
unceremoniously dropped at "Smith's house."
At last, Isabella, in a covered sleigh, escorted by a guard, and
attended by her brother and Eliot Lee on horseback, set off for the
place appointed for her British friends to meet her, and there she was
transferred to their protection.
What Eliot endured, as he lingered for a moment at Isabella's side,
cannot be expressed. She felt her heart rising to her eyes and cheeks,
and by an effort of that fortitude, or pride, or resolution, which is
woman's strength, by whatever name it may be called, she firmly said,
Eliot's voice was choked. He turned away without speaking; he
impulsively returned and withdrew the curtain that hung before
Isabella. She was in a paroxysm of grief, her head thrown back, her
hands clasped, and tears streaming from her eyes. What a
spectacle—what a blessed spectacle for a self-distrusting, hopeless
"Isabella!" he exclaimed, "we do not then part for ever?"
"I hope not," she replied.
The driver, unconscious of Eliot's returning movement, cracked his
whip, the horses started on their course, and the road making a sudden
turn, the sleigh instantly disappeared, leaving Eliot feeling as if he
had been translated to another world— a world of illimitable hope,
" 'I hope not.' " Could Isabella have uttered a more commonplace
reply? and yet these words, with the emotion that preceded them, were a
key to volumes—were pondered on and brooded over, through summer and
winter—ay, for years.
"Ah, n'en doutons pas! à travers les temps et les espaces, les àmes
ont quelquefois des correspondances mysterieuses. En vain le monde réel
èlève ses barrières entre deux êtres qui s'aiment; habitans de la vie
idéale, ils s'apparaissent dans l'absence, ils s'unissent dans la
"Boy, fill me a bumper—now join in the chorus,
There's happiness still in the prospect before us;
In this sparkling glass all hostility ends,
And Britons and we will for ever be friends.
Derry down, derry down."
— — Old Song.
More than three years from the date of our last chapter had passed
away. The European statesmen were tired of the silly effort to keep
grown-up men in leading-strings, and their soldiers were wearied with
combating in fields where no laurels grew for them. The Americans were
eager, the old to rest from their labours, and the young to reap the
fruit of their toils; and all good and wise men contemplated with joy
the reunion of two nations who were of one blood and one faith. King
George, firm or obstinate to the last, had yielded his reluctant
consent to the independence of his American colonies; and the peace was
signed, which was welcomed by all parties, save the few American
royalists who were now to suffer the consequences that are well
deserved by those who learn unwillingly, and too late, that their own
honour and interest are identified with their country's.
The 25th of November, 1783, was, as we areannually reminded by the
ringing of bells and firing of cannon, a momentous day in this city of
New-York. It was the time appointed for the evacuation of the city by
the British forces, and the entrance of the American commander-in-chief
with his army. To the royalists who had remained in the garrisoned
city, attached from principle, and fettered by early association, to
the original government, this was a day of darkness and mourning. With
their foreign friends went, as they fancied, all their distinction,
happiness, and glory. We may smile at their weakness, but cannot deny
them our sympathy. Such men as Sir Guy Carleton (Sir Henry Clinton's
successor), who made even his enemies love him, had a fair claim to the
tears of his friends; and others were there whose names grace the
history of our parent land, and names not mentioned that were written
on living hearts, and which made partings that day
"Such as press the life from out young hearts."
Though on the very verge of winter, the day was bright and soft.
The very elements were at peace. At the rising of the sun, the British
flag on the Battery was struck. Boats were in readiness at the wharves
to convey the troops, and such of the inhabitants as were to accompany
them, down to Staten Island, where the British ships were awaiting
them. At an early hour, and before the general embarcation, a
gentleman, much muffled,and evidently sedulously avoiding observation,
was seen stealing through the by-streets to a boat, to which his
luggage had already been conveyed, and which, as soon as he entered it,
put off towards the fleet. He looked soured and abstracted, eager to
depart, and yet not joyful in going. His attitude was dejected, and his
eyes downcast, till some sound that betokened an approach to the ship
roused him, when suddenly looking up, he beheld, leaning over the side
of the vessel, an apparition that called the blood and the spirit to
his face. This apparition was his wife—Mrs. Jasper Meredith. There she
stood, bowing to him, and smiling, and replying adroitly to such
congratulations from the officers of the ship as, "Upon my word, Mrs.
Meredith, you leave the country with spirit—your husband should take a
leaf out of your book."
Meredith entered the ship. His wife took him by the arm and led him
aside. "One word to you, my dear love," she said, "before that cloud on
your brow bursts. I have known from the first your secret intention,
and your secret preparations to go off with the fleet, and leave me
here to get on as I could. I took my measures to defeat yours. You
should know, before this time of day, that I am never foiled in what I
"No, by Heaven, never."
"There's no use in swearing about it, my love; nor will there be
any use," she added, changing her tone of irony to a cutting energy,
"in doingwhat, as my husband—my lord and master—you may do, in
raising a storm here, refusing to pay my passage, and sending me back
to the city. Officers—gentlemen, you know, all take the part of an
oppressed wife—you would be put in Coventry, and make your début in
England at great disadvantage. So, my dear, make the best of it; let
our plans appear to be in agreement. It is in bad taste to quarrel
before spectators—we will reserve that to enliven domestic scenes in
"In England! my mother declares she will never receive you there;
and I am now utterly dependant on my mother."
"I know all that; I have seen your mother's letters." Meredith
stared. "Yes, all of them; and in them all she reiterates her governing
principle, that 'appearances must be managed.' I shall convince her
that I am one of the managers, and the prima donna in this drama of
Meredith made no reply. He saw no eligible way of escape, and he
was, like a captive insect, paralyzed in the web that enclosed him.
"You are convinced, I perceive, my dear;" continued his loving wife,
"be kind enough to give me a few guineas; I paid my last to the
boatmen, and it is awkward being without money."
Meredith turned from her, and walked hurriedly up and down the
deck; then stopped, and took out his pocket-book to satisfy her demand;
but his purpose was suspended by his eye falling accidentallyon the
card, on which, ten years before, he had recorded Effie's prediction.
The card was yellow and defaced; but like a talisman, it recalled with
the freshness of actual presence the long but not forgotten past—the
time when Isabella Linwood's untamed pulses answered to his—when
Bessie Lee's soft eye fell tenderly upon him— when he was linked in
friendship with Herbert— when the lights of nature still burned in his
soul —while as yet his spirit had not passed under the world's yoke,
and crouched under its burden of vanity, heartlessness, and sordid
ambition. His eye glanced towards his wife, he tore the card in pieces,
and honest, bitter tears flowed down his cheeks.
Bessie Lee, thou wert then avenged! Avenged? Sweet spirit of
Christian forgiveness and celestial love, we crave thy pardon! Bessie
Lee, restored to her excellent mother, and to her peaceful and now most
happy home at Westbrook, was enjoying her renovated health and
"rectified spirit." The vigorous mind of Mrs. Archer, and Isabella's
frank communication of her own malady and its cure, had aided in the
entire dissipation of Bessie's illusions, and no shadow of them
remained but a sort of nun-like shrinking from the admiration and
devotion of the other sex. She lived for others, and chiefly to
minister to the sick and sorrowful. She no longer suffered herself; but
the chord of suffering had been so strained that it was weakened, and
vibrated at the least touch of the miseries of others. The satirist who
scoffs at the common fact of devotion succeeding love in a woman's
heart, is superficial in the philosophy of our nature. He knows not
that woman's love implies a craving for happiness, a dream of bliss
that human character and human circumstances rarely realize, and a
devotedness and self-negation due only to the Supreme. The idol falls,
and the heart passes to the true God.
"All things on earth shall wholly pass away,
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye."
That love of God, that sustaining, life-giving principle, waxed
stronger and stronger in Bessie Lee as she went on in her pilgrimage.
Her pilgrimage was not a long one; and when it ended, the transition
was gentle from the heaven she made on earth to that which awaited her
in the bosom of the Father.
We return to the shifting scenes in New-York. The morning was
allotted to the departure of the British. "Rose," said Mr. Linwood,
"give me my cloak and fur shoes, and I will go through the garden to
Broadway, and see the last of them— God bless them!"
"And my cloak and calêche, Rose," said Mrs. Linwood; "it is a
proper respect to show our friends that our hearts are with them to the
last— it should be a family thing. Come, Belle; and you, Lady Anne,
"With all my heart, dear mamma; but pray— pray do not call me Lady
Anne. I have told you, again and again, that I have renounced my title,
and will have no distinction but that which suits the country of my
adoption—that which I may derive from being a good wife and
mother—the true American order of merit."
"As you please, my dear child; but it is a singular taste."
"Singular to prefer Mrs. Linwood to Lady Anne! Oh, no, mamma."
Mrs. Linwood received the tribute with a grateful smile, and
afterward less frequently forgot her daughter-in-law's injunction. Her
affections always got the better of her vanity—after a slight contest.
"Rose," continued Lady Anne, "please put on little Herbert's fur cap,
and take him out to see the show too. Is not that a pretty cap, mamma?
I bought it at Lizzy Bengin's."
"Lizzy Bengin's! Has Lizzy returned?"
"Yes, indeed; and re-opened her shop in the same place, and hung up
her little household deity Sylvy again, who is screaming out as
zealously as ever—'Come in, come in.' Lizzy, they say, is to have a
pension from Congress."
"The d—l she is!" exclaimed Mr. Linwood; "well, every thing is
turned topsy-turvy now. Come, are we not all ready? where lags
Belle?"Isabella entered in a very becoming hat and cloak, adjusted with
more than her usual care, and her countenance brilliant with animation.
"Upon my word, Miss Belle," said her father, passing his hand over
her glowing cheek, "you are hanging out very appropriate colours for
this mournful occasion."
"The heart never hangs out false colours, papa."
"Ah, Belle, Belle! that I should live to see you a traitor too; but
I do live, and bear it better than I could have expected."
"Because, papa, it no longer seems to you the evil it once
"Yes, I'll be hanged if it don't, just the same; but then, Belle,
I'll tell you what it is that's kept the sap running warm and freely in
this old, good-for-nothing trunk of mine. My child," the old man's
voice faltered, "you have been true and loyal to me through all this
dark time of trial and adversity; you have been a perpetual light and
blessing to my dwelling, Belle; and Herbert—if a man serves the devil,
I'd have him serve him faithfully—Herbert, in temptation and sore
trials, has been true to the cause he chose—up to the mark. This it is
that's kept me heart-whole. And, Belle, if ever you are a parent, which
God grant, for you deserve it, you'll know what it is to have your very
life rooted in the virtue of your children, and sustained by that—yes,
as mine is, sustained and made pretty comfortable too, even though my
king has to succumb to these rebel upstarts, and I have to look on and
see every gentleman driven out of the land to give place to these
rag-tag and bobtails."
"But, papa," said Isabella, anxious to turn her father's attention
from the various groups gathering in the street, and who, it was
evident, were only waiting, according to the previous compact, for the
last British boat to leave the wharf, to give utterance to their joyous
"huzzas;" "but, papa, you have overlooked some important items in your
"I have not mentioned them; but they are main props. Anne, God
bless her! and that little dog," he shook his cane lovingly at his
grandson, who crowed a response, "though he was born under Washington's
flag, and sucks in independence and republicanism with his mother's
milk, the little rascal."
In spite of Mr. Linwood's habitual vituperation, it was evident
that his cup of happiness was full to overflowing, and that there was
in it only a few salutary bitter drops, without which there is no
draught commingled for human lips.
Mrs. Archer with her children now joined her friends, and they were
all grouped under a fine old locust that stood just without the wall of
Mr. Lin wood's garden, and was among the few trees that retained any
foliage at this advanced season.
The last foreign regiment were passing fromBroadway to the Battery,
in the admirable order and condition of British troops: their arms
glittering, the uniform of the soldiers fresh and unsullied, and that
of the officers, who had seen little service to deface and disarrange
it, in a state of preservation rather indicating a drawing-room than a
battlefield. Mr. Linwood gazed after them, and said, sorrowfully, "We
ne'er shall look upon their like again."
"I hope not," muttered Rose to herself, in the back-ground; "this
a'n't to be the land for them that strut in scarlet broadcloth and gold
epaulets, and live upon the sweat of working people's brows. No, thank
God—and General Washington."
"Ah," said Mrs. Archer, "there is good old General Knyphausen
turning the key of his door for the last time. Heaven's blessing will
go with him, for he never turned it upon a creature that needed his
kindness." The good old German crossed the street, grasped Mr.
Linwood's hand, kissed the hands of the ladies, and without speaking,
rejoined his suite and passed on.
"Who are those young gallants, Isabella," asked Mr. Linwood, "that
seem riveted to the pavement at Mrs.—'s door?"
Isabella mentioned their names, and added, "Miss—is there, a
magnet to the last moment —a hard parting that must be."
No wonder it was deemed a "hard parting," if half that is told by
her contemporaries of Miss—'s beauty and auxiliary charms be true; a
marvellous tale, but not incredible to those who see her as she now is,
after the passage of more than fifty years, vivacious, courteous, and
While Lady Anne was deepening the colour on Isabella's cheek by
whispering, "Better a coming than a parting lover!" our old friend
Jupiter, arm in arm with his boon companion "the gen'ral," was passing.
"Where are you going in such haste, Jupe?" asked his ex-master, in
reply to Jupiter's respectful salutation.
"I am 'gaged to 'black Sam' to dine with General Washington, sir."
Mr. Linwood had been told that a fête was in preparation at "black
Sam's," the great restaurateur of his day, for General Washington and
his friends. He was ready to believe almost any extravagance of the
levelling Americans; but the agrarianism that made Jupiter a party at
the festive board with the commander-in-chief rather astounded him. "By
the Lord!" he whispered to Isabella, "Herbert shall come home and eat
"You mean, Jupe," said Miss Linwood, without directly replying to
her father, "that you are engaged to wait on General Washington, at
"Sartin, Miss Isabella; did not I'spress myself so?"
"Not precisely, Jupe; but I understood you so."
Jupiter drew near to Miss Linwood, whom he, in common with others,
looked upon as the presiding genius of the family, to unfold a wish
that lay very near his heart. But Jupe was a diplomatist, and was
careful not to commit himself in the terms of a treaty. "Miss Belle,"
he said, "I hear Mrs. Herbert Linwood has got a nice char'ot sent over
from England, and if she wants a coachman, I don't know but I might
like to come back to the old place."
"Very well, Jupe, I will speak to my sister, and we will consider
"Do, Miss Belle, and I'll 'sider of it too. I have not 'finitly
made up my mind to stay in New-York. They say there's to be such bustle
and racket here, building ships and stores, and all this space,"
pointing to the still vacant space between Broadway and the river, "all
this space to be covered with housen bigger than them burnt down. I'm
afraid there'll be too much work and 'fusion for me; 'tant genteel, you
know, Miss Belle, and I think of 'tiring to the manor."
"That will be wisest, Jupe; New-York will no longer be a place for
idlers of any degree."
Jupiter, all complacency in a classification which sorted him with
those whom he styled the genteel, bowed and passed on.
Music was now heard from the extremity of the Battery. All had
embarked save the band. The band, that had been the pride and delight
of the inhabitants, through winter and summer, now struck up, for the
last time, "God save the king!" Every sound was hushed, and white
handkerchiefs were waved from balconies, windows, and doors. Mr.
Linwood uncovered his head, and the tears trickled down his cheeks. As
the music ceased, Edward Archer, who stood with his arm over his
sister's shoulder, said, "Oh, Lizzy, how we shall miss the band!"
"Miss them! No, Ned; not when we get back to dear breezy Beech
Hill, and hear the birds, and smell the flowers, and have none to hurt
us nor make us afraid."
The last boat put off from the wharf, and at the next instant the
"star-spangled banner" was unfurled from the flagstaff, and every bell
in the city poured forth its peal of welcome to the deliverer of his
country, who was seen, at the head of a detachment of his army,
approaching the city through the Fields, then the general designation
of all that portion of New-York beyond the British palisades which
traversed Broadway at Chambers-street.
Those who are familiar with the location of this our noble street
of Broadway, the pride of the metropolis, can imagine the thrilling
effect of the moment on the spectators. They saw the flag of an
independent empire waving on the Battery; beyond, the bay, glittering
in the meridian sun; and, floating on the bay, the ships that were to
convey their latemasters for ever from the land that had rejected them.
At the upper extremity of the street appeared General Washington, the
spotless patriot, the faultless military chieftain, the father of his
country; "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his
countrymen:" he on whom every epithet of praise has been exhausted, and
whose virtues praise never yet reached. With him were his companions in
arms and glory, and following him his soldiers, their garments worn and
soiled, and their arms broken and defaced. It mattered not. The period
of toils and hardship, of hope and fear, of seed-time, was past—the
harvest was to come, the abundant harvest to them, their children's
children, and the stranger within their gates.
The procession drew near to Wall-street, where it was to turn; a
few paces lower down was the locust-tree where our friends were
grouped. As the cavalcade approached, Mr. Linwood began to show signs
of fidgeting. Isabella's arm was in his: "Let us go in, sir," she said.
"Presently, my dear, presently; I'll have one look at Washington.
By George of Oxford! a noble figure of a man! Ah, but for him, the
rebels would never have carried the day."
"For him, and the Lord on their side!" involuntarily added Rose,
who had advanced to give her little charge a chance at a glance at his
"The Lord on the side of such a ragged regiment of ragamuffins?
High sons of liberty, forsooth!" replied Mr. Linwood, chuckling at the
wretched appearance of the American soldiers.
"They are extremely ragged," said Mrs. Linwood; "such a contrast to
"They are, God bless them!" said Isabella, "and sacred, in my eyes,
as the garments of the saints, are these outward signs of their brave
"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Herbert Linwood, "I see my husband!—and
there, Belle, is Colonel Lee, on the very horse General Putnam gave
him. I wish his poor man Kisel, of whom I have so often heard him
speak, had lived to amble after him this day. 'Poor fool!' Eliot will
always have 'one part in his heart that's sorry yet for thee.' "
Isabella's eye had followed the direction of her sister's; her
cheek became suddenly pale, and she reiterated her wish to her father
to return into the house.
"In a minute, my dear child, in a minute; let's first see them
wheel into Wall-street. Who is that Colonel Lee you spoke of, Anne?"
"Eliot Lee, sir. Did not Belle tell you how he was sent with the
detachment from the northern army to the south, and how he behaved with
such gallantry at the taking of Cornwallis, that he received a
colonelcy immediately after from Congress—did you not tell, Belle?"
she added, archly smiling at her sister.
The turn into Wall-street was now to be made, and the officers
riding ahead came nearly parallelto our friends. General Washington
seeing, and instantly recognising, Isabella Linwood and her sister,
saluted them. Mr. Linwood instinctively doffed his hat, and bowed low
to the commander of the rebel army. Eliot Lee's eye met Isabella's, and
returned its brightest beam to the welcome that flashed from hers.
Herbert kissed his hand to his friends, and stretched his arms to his
boy. Rose lifted the little fellow high in the air; he was inspired
with the animation of the scene, and the word that was then shouted
forth from a thousand tongues, the first he ever uttered, burst from
The following, and many successive evenings, Eliot Lee passed with
the Linwoods. Those of our kind readers whose patience has brought them
to the close of these volumes, will not be surprised that our heroine,
after her conquest over a misplaced, and, as it may strictly be termed,
an accidental passion, should return with her whole heart his love who
deserved, if man could deserve it, that treasure.
Did the course of their true love run smooth? Yes, true love though
it was, it did. The bare fact that his daughter Isabella, who seemed to
him fit to grace a peerage, was to wed the portionless son of a
New-England farmer, was at first startling to Mr. Linwood. But, as few
men are, he was true to his theories; and when Isabella,quoting his own
words on a former occasion, frankly confessed that she had given her
heart to Eliot Lee, and "that meant her respect, honour, esteem, and
all that one of God's creatures can feel for another," he replied,
fondly kissing her, "Then God's will be done, my child, and give your
We are aware that the champions of romance, the sage expounders of
the laws of sentiment, maintain that there can be but one love. We will
not dispute with them, though we honestly believe, that in the
capacities of loving, as in all other capacities, there be diversities
of gifts; but we will concede that such a sentiment as united Isabella
and Eliot Lee can never be extinguished; and therefore can never be
repealed. It blended their purposes, pursuits, hopes, joys, and
sorrows; it became a part of their spiritual natures, and independent
of the accidents of life.
As the cause of humanity and the advance of civilization depend
mainly on the purity of the institution of marriage, I shall not have
written in vain if I have led one mind more highly to appreciate its
responsibilities and estimate its results; its effect not only on the
happiness of life, but on that portion of our nature which is destined
to immortality: if I persuade even one of my young countrywomen so to
reverence herself, and so to estimate the social duties and ties, that
she will not give her hand without her heart, nor her heart till she
isquite sure of his good desert who seeks it. And, above all, I shall
not have written in vain if I save a single young creature from the
barter of youth and beauty for money, the merely legal union of persons
and fortunes multiplying among us, partly from wrong education and
false views of the objects of life, but chiefly from the growing
imitation of the artificial and vicious society of Europe.
It is only by entering into these holy and most precious bonds with
right motives and right feelings, that licentious doctrines can be
effectually overthrown, and the arguments of the more respectable
advocates of the new and unscriptural doctrine of divorce can be
We boldly then advise our young friends so far to cultivate the
romance of their natures (if it be romance to value the soul and its
high offices above all earthly consideration), as to eschew rich old
roué bachelors, looking-out widowers with large fortunes, and idle,
ignorant young heirs; and to imitate our heroine in trusting to the
honourable resources of virtue and talent, and a joint stock of
industry and frugality, in a country that is sure to smile upon these
qualities, and reward them with as much worldly prosperity as is
necessary to happiness, and safe for virtue.
(*)NOTE TO VOLUME SECOND.
a One of the thousand pleasing anecdotes related of La Fayette at
his last visit to America, was, that a rich iron-merchant in one of our
large cities was presented to him, and after the customary courtesies,
took out his watch and showed it to La Fayette, asking him if he
remembered it. La Fayette seemed to have an indistinct reminiscence of
some circumstance connected with the watch. "You do not remember, sir,"
said the merchant, "that at a certain time and place" (specifying
both), "you stopped at a blacksmith's shop to have your horse shod. The
smith and his family were ill, and in a most wretched condition. He was
obliged to be upheld while he shod the horse. You told him you had no
money to spare, and gave him this watch. He pledged it—afterward
redeemed it, and here it is, still in his possession!"
As the circumstance related of La Fayette in our text has no
connexion with historical events, we trust our friends of the legal
profession will not prove an alibi against us.