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Robert E. Lee Portrait
FIBRE by fibre, shred by shred,
It falls from her delicate hand
In feathery films, as soft and
As fall the flakes of a vanishing
In the lap of a summer land.
There are jewels of price in her
And gold round her white wrist
There are costly trifles on every
And gems of art from many a land
In the chamber where she toils.
A rare bird sings in a gilded
At the open casement near;
A sunray glints through a swaying
And lights with a diamond
The dew of a falling tear!
A sob floats out to the summer
'With the song-bird's latest
The gossamer folds of the drapery
Are waved by the swell of a long,
And the delicate hands are still.
"Ah! beauty of earth is naught,
And a gilded youth is vain!
I have seen a sister's scarred
With a youth and beauty all
By the soldier's couch of pain!"
"I have read of another whose
On their pillows the mangled
In the far Crimea!"—There are no
But she plucks the gems from her
And the gold from her slender
The bird still sings in his
But the Angel in her heart
Hath stung her soul with a noble
And beauty is naught, and youth
While the Patriot's wounds still
* * * * * Fibre by fibre,
shred by shred,
Still fall from her delicate hand
The feathery films, as soft and
As fall the flakes of a vanishing
In the lap of a summer land.
There are crimson stains on
breasts and brows,
And fillets in ghastly coils;
The walls are lofty, and white,
And moaning echoes roll ever
Through the chamber where she
No glitter of gold on her slender
Nor gem in her roseate ears;
But a youth and a beauty all
In the face of the Christian
And her gems are the soldier's
MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN A. DIX.
MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN A. Dix, whose
portrait we give on page 485,
was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, July 24, 1798. His fattier was the late
Colonel Timothy Dix, whose services and death in the last war with Great Britain
are matters of history.
In December, 1812, young Dix was
appointed' to a cadetship at the West Point Military Academy; but he never went
as pupil to that institution. His father was then in the army, and being
stationed in Baltimore, sent for his son, who joined him there, and very soon
(March, 1813) received the commission of Ensign, and marched with his father's
command to Sackett's Harbor, the youngest officer in the American army.
In June, 1813, he was appointed
Acting-Adjutant of Major Timothy Upham's independent battalion of nine companies
at Sackett's Harbor. He accompanied his father in the expedition down the St.
Lawrence, and was with him when he died on board one of the transports near
French Mills, in November, 1813, after the battle of Chrystler's Fields. He was
then transferred from the infantry to the artillery, and attached to the staff
of Colonel Walbach. At the close of the war he remained in the army, part of the
time on garrison duty at various stations, from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to
Fort Washington and
Old Point Comfort, Virginia, and six years as
aid-de-camp to Major-General Brown while he was Commander-in-Chief of the army.
He finally left the service in 1828.
He read law with William Wirt,
then United States Attorney-General, was admitted to the New York bar in 1828,
and afterward to the United States bar in
In 1826 he married the adopted
daughter of the Hon. John J. Morgan, of New York, by whom he has had four sons
and two daughters.
From 1828 to 1831 he practiced
law in Cooperstown, New York. In 1831, on being appointed Adjutant-General of
the State, he removed to Albany. In 1833 he was chosen Secretary of State and
Regent of the University.
In 1841 and 1812 General Dix was
a member of the New York Assembly from Albany County, and took an active and
influential part in the most important legislative measures of that period—such
as the liquidation of the State debt by taxation, and the establishment of
single Congressional Districts.
On the election of Silas Wright
as Governor of New York General Dix was chosen to complete his unexpired term of
five years in the United States Senate, and took his seat in that body January
27, 1845, where he remained until March 4,
1849. He was Chairman of the
Committee on Commerce, and an active member of the Committee on Military
affairs. He was the author of the warehousing system as it was adopted by
General Dix acted with that
portion of the New York Democracy known as "the Free-Soil Democracy" in
1848-'49, and was their candidate for Governor in 1848. But when the delegation
of New York became legitimately connected with the nomination of General Pierce
for the Presidency in 1852, General Dix sustained that nomination.
On the election of General Pierce
to the Presidency he first selected General Dix for his Secretary of State. But,
as is well known, the leaders of the Southern democracy, of the
Slidell school, protested so violently against his appointment that it was never
made. The same influence prevented his appointment as Minister to France, which
had been offered to him as an inducement for him to accept for a while the local
office of Assistant-Treasurer of the United States in the city of New York. On
the appointment of Mr. John Y. Mason, of Virginia, to the French embassy Mr. Dix
resigned the office of Assistant-Treasurer, and withdrew almost wholly from
Early in 1859 enormous
defalcations having been discovered in the New York City Post-office, and the
defaulting Postmaster having absconded, President Buchanan appointed General Dix
to that office, and urged its acceptance on the ground that the public interests
required the appointment of some man of the highest character and reputation for
integrity and administrative ability. Mr. Dix yielded to these representations,
and accepted the office. In January, 1861, the treachery and dishonesty of
Floyd, Cobb, & Co., of the first Buchanan Cabinet, having reached their climax,
and ended in the withdrawal or flight of those traitors from Washington, and the
financial embarrassments of the Government requiring the appointment of a
Secretary of the Treasury in whose probity, patriotism, skill, and efficiency
the whole country could and would confide, General Dix was called to that high
office, and entered on its duties January 15, 1861.
On the 18th January, 1861, three
days after General Dix took charge of the Treasury Department, he sent a special
New Orleans and Mobile for the purpose of saving the revenue vessels at
those ports from seizure by the rebels. The most valuable of these vessels, the
Robert McClelland, at New Orleans, was commanded by Captain John G. Breshwood,
with S. B. Caldwell as his lieutenant. Breshwood refused to obey the orders of
General Dix's agent, Mr. Jones; and on being informed of this refusal, the
Secretary telegraphed as follows; "If any man pulls down the
shoot him on the spot!"
This dispatch, evidently thrown
off fervido animo, and with a pen too hasty to pause for blot or literal
correction, was intercepted by the Governor of Alabama, and did not reach Mr.
Jones until the joint villainy of Captain Breshwood and the authorities of
Louisiana had been consummated by stealing the cutter. It found its way very
soon into the newspapers, and it flew over the land like the Highland cross of
fire, setting the hearts of the people every where ablaze.
General Dix has since taken the
field. He commanded at Baltimore for some months, and is now in command at
Fortress Monroe, doing his duty manfully and well.
THE OHIO OIL WELL.
A LOVE STORY.
THE mare swerved, dashing the
high, lightly built gig against a stump by the side of the narrow road; off flew
the spidery wheel; down came the fast-trotting chestnut; and out like a brace of
rockets were flung the driver and myself. There was a moment of scuffling,
floundering, and general entanglement, while a thousand sparks of fire danced
before my eyes, and then I was creeping away from the broken wreck, when I heard
Ben, the driver, cry suddenly, " J'hoshaphat, mister, mind her heels, or you're
a gone coon!" And I have an indistinct remembrance of receiving two or three
stunning blows from what seemed to be a blacksmith's sledge-hammer, and of
hearing a loud shout of human voices as I fainted.
When I again opened my eyes I
found myself lying on a bank, a few yards from the spot where the accident had
occurred. The smashed gig lay in the roadway, but the mare had long since kicked
herself free, and was gone. Ben, my careless or unlucky charioteer, stood
dolefully whistling, with the whip in his hand. His face was scratched, and his
garments were muddy, but he seemed uninjured, though dismayed. Six or seven men
in working clothes were lounging about, and apparently conversing on the subject
of the recent upset, but only one seemed to concern himself about my personal
condition. He was a tall, muscular young fellow, with a fine, handsome face, and
a rich, bronzed complexion. He was better dressed, as well as better looking,
than the others, though he wore homespun cloth, while the rest of the party were
in patched and discolored suits of black. Kneeling beside me on the bank, this
young farmer—for it was easy to guess his rank in life—was supporting my head
with a gentleness that seemed wonderful for one of his thews and sinews.
"Labor lost, Joe," observed one
shabby smoker from his seat; which, by-the-way, was on the very stump that had
occasioned the accident. "The Britisher, or Dutchman, or whatever he be, air as
dead as Julep Caesar."
Weak and ill as I was, there was
something in this conversion of the Dictator's name into a Yankee idiom which
tickled my risible nerves, and I gave a feeble chuckle.
"He's alive, I tell you,"
answered Joe; "though it does sicken a chap, a few, to git such a pounding as
that. I'd like to see you, Zack Brown, after such a dose of cold iron. You'd
sing a trifle less positive, or I ain't Joe Mallory."
There was a laugh, which Joe cut
short by asking which of the by-standers had some "whisky medicine" about. him?
A bottle of this potent cordial having been produced, the farmer put it to my
lips, and with arbitrary kindness forced me to swallow as much of the fiery
liquor as I could imbibe without actual suffocation.
"I know'd," said Joe, in a
dogmatic way, "what puts new life into a man in such a case as this, though I
ain't overfond of the Monongahela in gin'ral. Do ye feel to be stronger, Sir,
This was addressed to me, and I
contrived to answer by some feeble acknowledgment of his Samaritan kindness.
"No bones bruk?" inquired Joe,
adding, as I shook my head, "then mebbe you could make a shift to walk, leanin'
on me? Sparta ain't above a big mile off."
I tried to rise, and with the
help of the young farmer I did contrive to reach my feet, but I could not keep
them. One ankle was smartly sprained, the foot having been awkwardly twisted
under me as I fell; and I sank down with a groan, as helpless as a rag effigy of
a man. It became incumbent to carry me; and the by-standers, now they were quite
satisfied that I was alive, volunteered with a pretty good grace to assist in my
removal. A light iron gate that gave admission into a field hard by, and which
contrasted oddly with the rough worm fence of unbarked wood, was taken off its
hinges to form a litter, and I was borne away on this impromptu palanquin.
Ben the driver had by this time
set off in plodding pursuit of the truant mare; but before starting he halloed
out a stentorian request to know "wheer they were takin' his stranger tew,
because Major Staines might like to action him in county court for the gig."
I could hardly help laughing
again, though my bones ached cruelly, at the suggestion of suing a man for the
damage done in half killing him; but I felt a thrill of languid pleasure when my
"Darn the Major and his actions!
He won't cl'ar many dollars that way, for 'tain't fust time that tearin'
chestnut brute have made a smash of wood and iron, let alone humans. That mare's
unpopular in the county, and no jury would give a red cent if her neck was bruk.
Any how, if the Major wants a dose of law, tell him the stranger's under Joe
The other men gave a growl of
"Why, Joe," said he who was
called Zach Brown, "I reckoned we'd jest drop the chap at Dan Hunt's, the
taverner's. You oughter hev more wrinkles by this than to lumber up your house
with a critter that wants a deal of waitin' on, and mebbe hasn't shinplasters
enough to pay for his board."
I made some answer to this, or
rather I began to assure my hearers that I was better provided with money than
they perhaps guessed from my scanty luggage and plain dress; but Joe Mallory
pressed his broad hand on my mouth to silence me, and angrily told Zach that
"when he sent in a bill for food and shelter to a hurt traveler he hoped niXXers
would trample on him."
Zach said no more, and before
long I was carried into the young farmer's house, and laid on a bed. The men
were going at once after taking a dram of whisky, but I insisted on remunerating
each of them with a dollar, which, after some hesitation, they consented to
receive for "loss of time." Very odd fellows they were—honest, I am sure; proud
in their way, as Hoosiers almost always are; and not willfully unkind, but blunt
of feelings themselves, and coarsely indifferent to the feelings of others.
Before they departed I heard one of them ask Joe in no smothered tone, "What
whim made him have the stranger up there?" To which Joe made answer, in a more
subdued tone, that "Dan's tavern was no place for a delicate town-raised critter
to be ill in, and that it was plain I felt the banging more than I said."
When the men were gone the master
of the house callers aloud the respective names of "Aunty!" "Phillis!" and
"Terence!" but no answer was returned. Muttering that he would soon return, my
new friend strode out into the yard, whence issued the familiar sounds produced
by gobbling turkeys, lowing calves, and grumbling pigs. The house was a long,
low structure, mainly composed of timber, with chimneys of brick; but it was
very substantial and roomy. The chamber in which I had been placed was one of a
nest of similar rooms opening into a passage, at the end of which was the great
kitchen, decorated with dangling hams, smoked venison, corn cobs, barrels of
pickled pork, huge yellow pumpkins, and sundry shelves of pewter and New England
crockery. At the other end was a door, seldom opened, leading into the best
parlor, where stood the smart furniture, the china, fine linen, and so forth,
never used but at wedding, funeral, or christening. The quilt on which I lay was
of a coarse quality, but scrupulously clean; the brown, rough sheets of the bed
were very clean too; the pine planks of the floor, thanks to soap and water,
were as white as the glaring walls on which hung a few cheap colored prints of
Bonaparte's battles and the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon. The house was
that of a tolerably well-to-do Western farmer: rather neater than the majority,
but with no luxury or ostentation. While I was musing on the strange quarters in
which I found myself, my host returned, accompanied by a negro girl and an old
white woman, dressed pretty much alike in common cotton prints of Lowell make.
There was a great difference in their behavior, however; for while the negress,
whom I shrewdly guessed to be the Phillis so often called in vain, merely
grinned a salutation, the old woman bustled up to my bedside in a moment.
"You're welcome, stranger," said
she, "but we can talk 'nother time, I guess. A nasty tumble! What a bruise that
is on your temple—I'll jest fix that—Phillis, the bottle off the shelf in my
room, third from the end—jump and get it, and be spry, do. That gal moves as if
she'd lead in her shoes. All them darkeys do. Sprained your foot, eh, mister?
Let me turn it about—so, does
that hurt you? Then run, Joe, and git the black box. I've got somethin' there,
woundy good for sprains."
Joe good-humoredly hurried off to
fetch the rude medicine chest, saying with a pleasant laugh that "he knowed
Aunty be glad of the job. She was a nurse if ever any woman was."
Certainly Miss Esther Mallory,
Joe's aunt, was a born nurse as well as a born gossip. She could do any thing
and every thing that was required in a sick-room, except hold her tongue. Talk
she must, and while with real kindness and untiring skill she applied bandages
and lotions to my bruised head and arm, and my sprained ankle; while she brewed
me tea and barley-water; while she adjusted the pillows under my head, and
superintended Phillis in the boiling of a chicken for my supper, she never
seemed to intermit the rapid flow of her discourse.
From this notable female, in the
course of the evening, I heard all the family history. How the Mallorys had
migrated west from their original abode in New Jersey, where they had been, my
hostess rather boastfully said, since William and Mary. How she, Esther Mallory,
had been induced, sorely against her will, to accompany her two brothers, Joe's
uncle and father, to the then half known wilds of Ohio. How she had been there a
long time, and didn't half like it, and had seen great changes, and didn't half
like them, and thought New Jersey the true Eden upon earth.
Further, the good old maid
related how Joe's uncle had died of fever, and how Joe had succeeded his father
in the property two years before, while she had staid to keep house for him till
he got a wife, being fully determined to go back as soon as her nephew's
marriage should take place, and live on her savings, or, as she called them,
"money-scrapes," in her native village.
Miss Esther was about sixty;
angular, raw-boned, with a hard-featured face puckered into as many wrinkles as
a withered apple, with keen time eyes and brisk, active movements. I had seen
many women in New England who might have been her twin-sisters, and I knew the
race well—thrifty, clean, bristling busybodies, with a supreme contempt for the
dawdlers and slatterns down South. A good cook was Miss Esther, a good manager,
a skilled seamstress, but a better nurse. If she could do any one thing better
than another it was tending the sick, and I believe she felt personally grateful
to me for giving her an occasion of exhibiting her knowledge and adroitness. At
any rate she was very affable and chatty, and took the opportunity of Joe's
absence to sing her nephew's praises; adding,
"Poor lad! poor lad! He's a heavy
heart, for all he tries to keep up a smilin' face. Drat love and sentiment, sez
I started. Sure enough, my kind
young host had a melancholy look, unaccountable in one in robust health,
tolerably well off, and evidently respected by his neighbors. I had noticed it
before, but my bruised limbs and throbbing temples had put the matter out of
court, until Miss Esther's remark aroused my curiosity and sympathy. Little
pressing was needed to elicit from the garrulous aunt what, after all, was no
secret. Joe Mallory had been for some time the accepted lover of Susan Boone,
only daughter of Deacon Gabriel Boone, one of the most comfortable farmers in
the district, and who, as Miss Esther said, was "rather uppish" about family,
being own cousin to the renowned General Daniel Boone, the explorer of Kentucky.
The marriage had been unluckily postponed—a circumstance due, I fancy, to Miss
Esther's own obstructiveness, since it was her desire that "a good chist full of
linen web" should be spun at home previous to the establishment of the young
bride as mistress of the house. In the interval a new discovery had subverted
the old order of things. This was no other than the discovery of the petroleum,
or, as Miss Esther called it, the "ile." It had been found; its value had been
greedily appreciated by a population not very apt to let any source of profit
slip through their fingers; and the favored tract of country, Ohio, New York,
and Pennsylvania, as well as Canada West, had ever since been in a fever of
speculation. Here were diggings, not indeed auriferous, but of a substance
capable of transmutation into five-dollar notes, brought home to the very doors
of the people. Of course property maintained its rights; there was no scramble;
but some grew rich by finding wealth bubbling up at their very thresholds, and
among this number was Deacon Boone, Susan's father.
One of the two "flowing wells" of
rock-oil which had come to light in the parish of Sparta was on Deacon Boone's
land. Luckier than most of his neighbors, almost all of whom had oil beneath
their fields, but oil only to be raised by expensive pumping, after the spade
and mattock had done their work the old deacon was proprietor of an absolute
spring of the odoriferous fluid, which seemed inexhaustible. Thousands of
gallons, every drop of which had its market value, daily spouted and splashed
into the air, and an immense per-centage of the produce was lost for lack of
barrels and labor. Under these circumstances it is not wonderful that Deacon
Boone, always a weak, vain man, lost his head, and grew, as Miss Esther quaintly
said, "most too proud to dirty his shoes walkin'." This elation was accompanied
by coldness of demeanor toward his old friends, whom he was loth any longer to
regard in the light of equals, and by an ominous coldness of bearing toward his
intended son-in-law. Besides this, he had dropped hints of the brilliant
prospects in store for his family—hints that struck poor Joe with dismay, since
his position was altered now. A little while before, Joe, with a tidy farm and a
little sum in bank, had been a reasonably good match for the daughter of a corn
and cattle factor; but he was become relatively poor when compared with the
fortunate owner of a flowing well of wealth.
"And the young lady herself?"
asked I, with some interest; "is she as mercenary as her father? As ready to
give up a poor suitor in hopes of a better match afterward, I mean?"