Civil War Overview
Civil War 1861
Civil War 1862
Civil War 1863
Civil War 1864
Civil War 1865
Civil War Battles
Robert E. Lee
Civil War Medicine
Civil War Links
Civil War Art
Republic of Texas
Civil War Gifts
Robert E. Lee Portrait
than (one person has told me that
you are looking ill and jaded So you are ! And the town now is hot and
unhealthy. You must come to Derval Court for a week or so. You can ride into
town every day to see your patients. Don't refuse. Margrave, who is still with
me, sends all kind messages, and bade me say that he entreats you to come to the
house at which he also is a guest !"
I started. What had the
Scin-Laeca required of me, and obtained to that condition my promise ? "If you
are asked to the house at which I also am a guest, you will come ; you will meet
and converse with me as guest speaks to guest in the house of a host !" Was this
one of the coincidences which my reason was bound to accept as coincidences and
nothing more ? Tut, tut ! Was I returning again to my "hallucinations?" Granting
that Faber and common sense were in the right, what was this Margrave? A man to
whose friendship, acuteness, and energy I was under the deepest obligations ; to
whom I was indebted for active services that had saved my life from a serious
danger, acquitted my honor of a horrible suspicion. "I thank you," I said to
Strahan, "I will come; not, indeed, for a week, but, at all events, for a day or
"That's right ; I will call for
you in the carriage at six o'clock. You will have done your day's work by then!"
"Yes, I will so arrange."
On our way to Derval Court that
evening Strahan talked much about Margrave, of whom, nevertheless, he seemed to
be growing weary.
"His high spirits are too much
for one," said he; "and then so restless—so incapable of sustained quiet
conversation. And, clever though he is, he can't help me in the least about the
new house I shall build. He has no notion of construction. I don't think he
could build a barn."
"I thought you did not like to
demolish the old house, and would content yourself with pulling down the more
ancient part of it ?"
"'True. At first it seemed a pity
to destroy so handsome a mansion ; but you see, since poor Sir Philip's
manuscript, on which he set such store, has been too mutilated, I fear, to allow
me to effect his wish with regard to it, I think I ought at least scrupulously
to obey his other whims. And, besides—I don't know—there are odd noises about
the old house. I don't believe in haunted houses, still there is something
dreary in strange sounds at the dead of night, even if made by rats, or winds
through decaying rafters. You, I remember at college, had a taste for
architecture, and can draw plans. I wish to follow out Sir Philip's design, but
on a smaller scale, and with more attention to comfort."
Thus he continued to run on,
satisfied to find me a silent and attentive listener. We arrived at the mansion
an hour before sunset, the westering light shining fall against the many windows
cased in mouldering pilasters, and making the general dilapidation of the whole
place yet more mournfully evident.
It was but a few minutes to the
dinner hour. I went up at once to the room appropriated to me—not the one I had
before occupied. Strahan had already got together a new establishment. I was
glad to find in the servant who attended me an old acquaintance. He had been in
my own employ when I first settled at L-, and left me to get married. He and his
wife were now both in Strahan's service. He spoke warmly of his new master and
his contentment with his situation, while he unpacked my carpet-bag and assisted
me to change my dress. But the chief object of his talk and his praise was Mr.
" Such a bright young gentleman,
like the first fine day in May!"
Margave was always popular with
people-common people in any
class—popular with those who did not see nor converse much with him.
When I came into the dining-room
Margrave and Strahan were both there. The former was blithe and genial, as
usual, in his welcome. At dinner, and during the whole evening till we retired
severally to our own rooms, he was the principal talker ; recounting incidents
of travel, always very loosely strung together, jesting, good-humoredly enough,
at Strahan's sudden hobby for building, then putting questions to me about
mutual acquaintances, but never waiting for an answer, and every now and then,
as if at random, startling us with some brilliant aphorism or some suggestion
drawn from abstract science or unfamiliar erudition. The whole effect was
sparkling, but I could well understand that, if long continued, it would become
oppressive. The soul has need of pauses of repose—intervals of escape not only
from the flesh, but even from the mind. A man of the loftiest intellect will
experience times when mere intellect not only fatigues him, but amidst its most
original conceptions, amidst its proudest triumphs, has a something trite and
commonplace compared with one of those vague intimations of a spiritual destiny
which are not within the ordinary domain of reason ; and, gazing abstractedly
into space, will leave suspended some problem of severest thought, or
uncompleted some golden palace of imperial poetry, to indulge in hazy reveries
that do not differ from those of an innocent, quiet child! The soul has a long
road to travel—from time through eternity. It demands its halting hours of
contemplation. Contemplation is serene. But with such wants of an immortal
immaterial spirit, Margrave had no fellowship, no sympathy ; and for myself, I
need scarcely add that the lines I have just traced I should not have written at
the date at which my narrative has now arrived.
I HAD no case that necessitated
my return to L— the following day. The earlier hours of the forenoon I devoted
to Strahan and his building plans. Margrave flitted in and out of the room
fitfully as an April sunbeam, sometimes flinging himself on a sofa and reading
for a few minutes one of the volumes of the ancient mystics, in which Sir
Philip's library was so rich. I remember it was a volume of Proclus. He read
that crabbed and semi-barbarous Greek with a fluency that surprised me. " I
picked up the ancient Greek," said he, "years ago in learning the modern." But
the book soon tired him ; then he would come and disturb us, archly enjoying
Strahan's peevishness at interruption; then he would throw open the window and
leap down, chanting one of his wild savage airs ; and in another moment he was
half hid under the drooping boughs of a broad lime-tree, amidst the antlers of
deer that gathered fondly round him, In the afternoon my host was called away to
attend some visitors of importance, and I found myself on the sward before the
house, right in view of the mausoleum, and alone with Margrave.
I turned my eyes from that dumb
House of Death wherein rested the corpse of the last lord of the soil, so
strangely murdered, with a strong desire to speak out to Margrave the doubts
respecting himself that tortured me. But, setting aside the promise to the
contrary, which I had given, or dreamed I had given, to the Luminous Shadow—to
fulfill that desire would have been impossible—impossible to any one gazing on
that radiant youthful face!—I think I see him now as I saw him then ; a white
doe, that even my presence could not scare away from him, stood patiently by his
side, looking up at him with her
soft eyes, He stood there like
the incarnate principle of mythological sensuous life. I have before applied to
him that illustration ; let the repetition be pardoned. Impossible, I repeat it,
to say to that creature, face to face, "Art thou the master of demoniac arts and
the instigator of secret murder ?" As if from redundant happiness within
himself, he was humming, or rather cooing, a strain of music, so sweet, so
sweet, so wildly sweet, and so unlike the music one hears from tutored lips in
crowded rooms ! I passed my hand over my forehead in bewilderment and awe.
"Are there," I said,
unconsciously—"are there, indeed, such prodigies in Nature?"
"Nature!" he cried, catching up
the word ; " talk to me of Nature ! Talk of her, the wondrous blissful Mother !
Mother I may well call her. I am her spoiled child, her darling— But oh, to die,
ever to die, ever to lose sight of Nature!—to rot, senseless, whether under
these turfs or within those dead walls—"
I could not resist the answer :
"Like yon murdered man !
murdered, and by whom ?"
" By whom ? I thought that was
"'The hand was proved; what
influence moved the hand ?"
"'Tush ! the poor wretch spoke of
a Demon! Who can tell? Nature herself is a grand destroyer. See that pretty
bird, in its beak a writhing worm ! All Nature's children live to take life;*
none, indeed, so lavishly as man. What hecatombs slaughtered, not to satisfy the
irresistible sting of hunger, but for the wanton ostentation of a feast, which
he may scarcely taste, or for the mere sport that he finds in destroying. We
speak with dread of the beasts of prey ; what beast of prey is so dire a ravager
as man? So cruel and so treacherous? Look at von flock of sheep, bred and
fattened for the shambles, and this hind that I caress, when the season comes,
were I the park-keeper, should I refuse to shoot her because of the caress ?"
"It is true," said I, "a grim
truth. Nature, on the surface so loving and so gentle, is full of terror in her
deeps when our thought descends into their abyss !"
Strahan now joined us with a
party of country visitors.
" Margrave is the man to show you
the beauties of this park," said he " Margrave knows every bosk and dingle,
twisted old thorn-tree, or opening glade, in its intricate, undulating ground."
Margrave seemed delighted at this
proposition, and as he led us through the park, though the way was long, though
the sun was fierce, no one seemed fatigued. For the pleasure he felt in pointing
out detached beauties which escaped an ordinary eye was contagious. He did not
talk as talks the poet or the painter; but at some lovely effect of light among
the tremulous leaves, some sudden glimpse of a sportive rivulet below, he would
halt, point it out to us in silence, and with a kind of childlike ecstasy in his
own bright face that seemed to reflect the life and the bliss of the blithe
Thus seen, all my doubts in his
dark secret nature faded away ; all my horror, all my hate; it was impossible to
resist the charm that breathed round him, not to feel a tender, affectionate
yearning toward him as to some fair, happy child. Well might he call himself the
Darling of Nature ! Was he not the mysterious likeness of that awful Mother,
beautiful as Apollo in one aspect, direful as Typhoon in another ?
"WHAT a strange-looking cane you
have, Sir!" said a little girl, who was one of the party, and who had entwined
her arm round Margrave's. "Let me look at it."
"Yes," said Strahan ; " that
cane, or rather walking-staff, of Margrave's is worth looking at. He bought it
in Egypt, and declares that it is very ancient."
This staff seemed constructed
from a reed; looked at, it seemed light, in the hand it felt heavy; it was of a
pale, faded yellow, wrought with black rings at equal distances, and graven with
half- obliterated characters that seemed hieroglyphic. I remembered to have seen
Margrave with it before, but I had never noticed it with any attention till now,
when it was passed from hand to hand. At the head of the cane there was a large
unpolished stone of a dark blue.
"Is this a pebble or a jewel ?"
asked one of the party.
"I can not tell you its name,"
said Margrave ; "but it is said to cure the bite of serpents,*
* May I be pardoned, since Allen
Fenwick does not confute, in his reply, the trite fallacy contained in
Margrave's remarks on the destroying agency of Nature, if I earnestly commend to
the general reader the careful perusal of chapter xiii., page 129, of Dr.
Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise (Geology and Mineralogy) on the "Aggregate of
animal enjoyment increased and that of pain diminished by the existence of
carnivorous races." Nothing to my mind can surpass the terseness and simplicity
with which the truth of that proposition is worked out to the vindication of the
great drama of universal life.
The following description of a
stone at Corfu, celebrated as an antidote to the venom of the serpent's bite,
was given to me by an eminent scholar and legal functionary in that island:
"DESCRIPTION OF THE BLUE
STONE.—This stone is of an oval shape, 1 2/10 in. long, 7/10 broad, 3/10 thick,
and, having been broken formerly, is now set in gold.
"When a person is bitten by a
poisonous snake, the bite must be opened by a cut of a lancet or razor long
ways, and the stone applied within twenty-four hours. The stone then attaches
itself firmly on the wound, and when it has done its office falls off, the cure
is then complete; the stone must then be thrown into milk, where-upon it vomits
the poison it has absorbed, which remains green on the top of the milk, and the
stone is then again fit for use.
"This stone has been from time
immemorial in the family of Ventura, of Corfu, a house of Italian origin, and is
notorious, so that peasants immediately apply for its aid. Its virtue has not
been impaired by the fracture. Its nature or composition are unknown.
and has other supposed virtues—a
talisman, in short.
He here placed the staff in my
hands, and bade me look at it with care. Then he changed the conversation and
renewed the way, leaving the staff with me, till, suddenly, I forced it back on
him. I could not have explained why, but its touch, as it warmed in my clasp,
seemed to send through my whole frame a singular thrill, and a sensation as if I
no longer felt my own weight—as if I walked on air.
Our rambles came to a close ; the
visitors went away; I re-entered the house through the sash-window of Forman's
study ; Margrave threw his hat and staff on the table, and amused himself with
examining minutely the tracery en the mantle-piece. Strahan and myself left him
thus occupied, and going into the adjoining library, resumed our task of
examining the plans for the new house. I continued to draw outlines and sketches
of various alterations tending to simplify and contract Sir Philip's general
design. Margrave soon joined us, and this time took his seat patiently beside
our table, watching me use ruler and compass with unwonted attention.
"I wish I could draw," he said;
"but I can do nothing useful."
"Rich men like you," said Strahan,
peevishly, "can engage others, and are better employed in rewarding good artists
than in making bad drawings themselves."
"Yes, I can employ others ;
and—Fenwick, when you have finished with Strahan I will ask permission to employ
you, though without reward; the task I will impose will not take you a minute."
He then threw himself back in his
chair, and seemed to fall into a doze.
The dressing-bell rang ; Strahan
put away the plans—indeed, they were now pretty well finished and decided on.
Margrave woke up as our host left
the room to dress, and drawing me toward another table in the room, placed
before me one of his favorite mystic books, and, pointing to an old wood-cut,
"I will ask you to copy this for
me ; it pretends to be a fac-simile of Solomon's famous seal. I have a whimsical
desire to have a copy of it. You observe two triangles interlaced and inserted
in a circle? The pentacle, in short. Yes, just so. You need not add the
astrological characters, they are the senseless superfluous accessories of the
dreamer who wrote the hook. But the pentacle itself has an intelligible meaning;
it belongs to the only universal language, the language of symbol, in which all
races that think—around, and above, and below us—can establish communion of
thought. If in the external universe any one constructive principle can be
detected, it is that principle in which consists the most positive of all the
sciences, viz., the geometrical; and in every part of the world in which magic
pretends to a written character, I find that its hieroglyphics are geometrical
figures. Is it not laughable that the most positive of all the sciences should
thus lend its angles and circles to the use of—what shall I call it?—the
ignorance?—ay, that is the word—the ignorance of dealers in magic !"
He took up the paper on which I
had hastily described the triangles and the circle, and went out of the room,
chanting the serpent-charmer's song.
COLONEL RANKIN'S LANCERS.
publish on page 805 an illustration of
COLONEL RANKIN'S REGIMENT OF LANCERS,
now in quarters at Detroit, Michigan, from a sketch kindly sent us by Mr. B. R. Erman. This is the regiment about which the Canadian authorities have made such
a noise, and on account of which Colonel Rankin has been dismissed from the
Canadian militia. It is to be 1600 strong, armed and equipped like the 16th
Regiment of British Lancers. The principal weapon used will be the lance, whose
haft will be 15 feet long, and the blade 11 inches. It is held upright when
marching, the end resting on a portion of the stirrup. In charging, it is thrust
forward so as to project considerably beyond the horse's head, the haft being
attached to the rider's arm by a strong cord. In addition to the lance, each man
will be provided with sabre rifle, and pistol. The lance is known as "la reine
des armes blanches," and well-drilled regiments of lancers have always been
deemed very formidable in the field. It is understood that Colonel Rankin's
Regiment will be incorporated into the Regular army, and will be retained in
service after the war. It is to take the field during the present month.
The French Lancers have always
been considered the flower of their cavalry. The men are the tallest and finest
in the service, the horses equal to those of the famous cuirassiers. It is
General McClellan, during his tour of inspection in Europe, was
much impressed with the value of lancers as an adjunct to other cavalry, and
recommended the adoption of the weapon by our War Department. Colonel Rankin's
regiment is the first-fruit of this opinion; and from all that we hear about it
is likely to give a good account of itself, and make the old cavalry regiments
look to their fame.
"In a case where two were stung
at the same time by serpents, the stone was applied to one, who recovered, but
the other, for whom it could not be used, died. It never failed but once, and
then it was applied after the twenty-four hours.
"Its color is so dark as not to
be distinguished from black. P. M. COLQUHOUN.
"CORFU, 7th Nov., 1860."
Sir Emerson Tennant, in his
popular and excellent work on Ceylon, gives an account of "snake stones"
apparently similar to the one at Corfu, except that they are "intensely black
and highly polished," and which are applied, in much the same manner, to the
wounds inflicted by the cobra capello.
Query.—Might it not be worth
while to ascertain the chemical properties of these stones, and, if they be
efficacious in the extraction of venom conveyed by a bite, might they not be as
successful if applied to the bite of a mad dog as that of a cobra capello?
"A WHITE DOE, THAT EVEN MY PRESENCE COULD NOT SCARE
AWAY FROM HIM, STOOD PATIENTLY BY HIS SIDE," ETC.