The Boston Traveller relateds the following anecdote of Sir John Harvey,
whose recent death, while Governor of Nova Scotia, has been already announced:
Sir John Harvey and General Scott.
At the battle of Stony Brook, the Americans were defeated; but Sir John
narrowly escaped being shot. An American rifleman was just presenting deadly
aim at his commanding figure, when a sword struck aside the rifle with this
expression-"Don't shoot that British officer, he is preventing the
shedding of blood." Sir John was riding among the combatants, attempting
to stop the carnage. The officer who struck aside the rifle was General
Scott; and the occurrence led to the great friendship which afterwards existed
betwen the two veterans....
- Boston Evening Transcript, April 12, 1852.
William M. Evarts, at a public dinner lately, told this good story on himself:
A few summers since, at the urgent request of one of his youngest daughters,
he sent up to his country place in Vermont a donkey for her use. She had
read about donkeys, but was not familiar with their peculiar vocalism. The
animal's strange noise inspired her with the profoundest pity for his evident
distress. So she wrote to her father: "Dear Papa - I do wish you would
come up here soon, my donkey is so lonesome."
- Amador Weekly Ledger, Jackson, Calif., Mar 28, 1874.
A Historical Phenomenon
Just before Major Andre's embarkation for America, he made a journey into
Derbyshire, to pay Miss Seward a visit, and it was arranged that they should
take a pleasure ride to the park. Miss Seward told Andre that besides enjoying
the beauties of the natural scenery, he would there meet some of her most
valued friends, among them Mr. Newton, whom she playfully called her "ministrel,"
and Mr. Cunningham, the curate, whom she regarded as a very elegant poet.
"I had a very strange dream last night," said Mr. Cunningham to
Mr. Newton, while they were awaiting together the arrival of the party,
"and it has haunted me all day, seeming, unlike ordinary dreams, to
be impressed very vividly upon my mind.
"I fancied myself to be in a great forest. The place was strange to
me, and while looking about with some surprise I saw a horseman approaching
with great speed. Just as he reached the spot where I stood, three men rushed
out of a thicket, and seizing his bridle, hurried him away, after closely
searching his person. The countenance of the stranger was a very interesting
and impressive one. I seem to see it now. My sympathy for him was so great
that I awoke. But I presently fell asleep again, and dreamed that I was
standing near a strange city, among thousands of people, and that I saw
the same person I had seen in the wood brought out and suspended to the
gallows. The victim was young, and had a courtly bearing. The influence
and the effects of this dream are somewhat different from any that I ever
Presently Miss Seward arrived with the handsome stranger. Mr. Cunningham
turned pale with a nameless horror as he was presented to Andre, and at
his first opportunity said to Mr. Newton:
"That, sir, was the face I saw in my dream."
- The Montanian, Virginia City, Montana Territory, March 2, 1876
John Randolph met a personal enemy in the street one day, who refused to
give him half the sidewalk, saying that he never turned out for a rascal.
"I do," said Randolph, stepping aside and politely raising his
hat. "Pass on."
- Russian River Flag, Healdsburg, Calif., June 4, 1874.
Franklin as a Bookseller. The following story, told of Franklin's mode of
treating the animal called in those days "lounger," and in these,
"loafer," is worth putting into practice occasionally, even in
this age and generation.
One fine morning, when Franklin was busy preparing his newspaper for the
press, a lounger stepped into the store and spent an hour or more in looking
over the books, &c., and finally taking one in his hand, asked the shop
boy his price.
"One dollar," was the answer.
"One dollar," said the lounger, "can't you take less than
"No, indeed - one dollar is the price."
Another hour nearly passed, when the lounger said -
"Is Mr. Franklin at home?" "Yes, he is in the printing office."
"I want to see him," said the lounger.
The shop boy immediately informed Mr. Franklin that a gentleman was in the
store, waiting to see him. Franklin was soon behind the counter, when the
lounger, with book in hand, addressed him thus:
"Mr. Franklin, what is the lowest you can take for this book?"
"One dollar and a quarter," was the ready answer.
"One dollar and a quarter! Why, your young man asked me only a dollar."
"True," said Franklin, "and I could have better afforded
to have taken a dollar then, than to have been taken out of the office."
Ther lounger seemed surprised, and wishing to end the parley of his own
making, said -
"Come, Mr. Franklin, tell me what is the lowest you can take for it."
"One dollar and a half."
"A dollar and a half! Why, you offered it yourself for a dollar and
"Yes," said Franklin, "and I had better have taken that price
then, than a dollar and a half now."
The lounger paid down the price and went about his business - if he had
any - and Franklin returned into the printing office.
- Daily Evening Transcript, Boston, Apr 14, 1852.
Old Madame Rothschild, mother of the mighty capitalists, attained the age
of ninety-six. Her wit, which was remarkable, and her intellectual faculties,
which were of no common order, were preserved to the end. In her last illness,
when surrounded by her family, her physician being present, she said, in
a suppliant tone to the latter: "Dear doctor, try to do something for
"Madame, what can I do? I can't make you young again."
"No, doctor! I don't want to grow young again; but I want to continue
to grow old."
- The Weekly Intelligencer, Seattle, Wash. Terr., Aug 30, 1879.
A little anecdote which, if not true, certainly deserves to be so, is going
the round of theatrical circles in Paris. A young man unknown to fame sent
his first play to M. Dumas with the modest request that he will not only
revise it, but permit his great name to appear on the title-page as joint
author. M. Dumas returns the play with a note that runs thus: - "Sir,
How dare you propose to yoke together a horse and an ass?" To which
the young man replies: "Sir - How dare you call me a horse?" "Sir,
- Send me back the play. My name and assistance are at your service,"
was the magnanimous rejoinder of M. Dumas.
- Santa Clara (Calif.) Journal, Aug 19, 1882.
SERMON ON NOTHING. - Frederick the Great being informed of the death of
one of his chaplains, a man of considerable learning and piety, determined
that his successor should not be behind him in these qualifications, took
the following method of ascertaining the merits of one of the numerous candidates
for the appointment: He told the applicant that he would himself furnish
him with a text the following Sunday, when he was to preach at the royal
chapel, from which he was to make an extempore sermon. The clergyman accepted
the proposition. The whim of such a probationary discourse was spread abroad
widely, and at an early hour the royal chapel was crowded to excess. The
King arrived at the end of the prayers, and on the candidate's ascending
the pulpit, one of his majesty's aides-de camp presented him with a sealed
paper. The preacher opened it and found nothing therein. He did not, however,
lose his presence of mind; but turning the paper on both sides, he said;
"My brethren, here is nothing and there is nothing; out of nothing
God created all things;" and proceeded to deliver a most admirable
discourse upon the wonders of creation.
- Daily Alta California, San Francisco, Dec 29, 1855.
A Miniature of Washington, from the Pen of Dr. Linn.
"Though naturally reserved, yet he was not haughty. Though those who
apporached him felt his superiority, yet he did not assume. He blended dignity
and condescention. The greatest and the smallest objects received from him
due attention. He never betrayed any symptoms of vain glory. When he was
once asked, whether he had ever said, as was reported, 'that he knew no
music so sweet as the whistling of bullets,' he answered, 'If I said so,
it was when I was young.' Learning to estimate justly all human glory, and
matured by experience; accustomed to lofty conceptions, and moving always
in the important spheres of life; impressed with a sense that he derived
all from God, and that all should be devoted to his service; his deportment
was noble, equally removed from supercilious and the vain. Some men have
been great at one time, and despicable at another; some men have performed
a single great action, and never rose to the like again; but to him great
actions seemed common. Some men had appeared great at the head of armies,
or when surrounded by the trappings of power; and little when stripped of
these, and alone; some men have withstood the storms of adversary, and been
melted by the sunshine of prosperity; some men have possessed splendid public
talents, and disgraced these by sordid private vices; but it is difficult
to determine when and where Washington shone the brightest. It can only
be said that he was uniformly great."
- The Balance, and Columbian Repository, Hudson, N. Y., March 8, 1803.
Frederick Douglass was traveling with a friend of another color in a part
of the country where public sentiment was bitterly hostile to the association
of colors. They stopped at a tavern and dined together, at which spectacle
the village, growling and grumbling about the stove in the bar-room, was
immediately disposed to mischief. The bar-room philosophers were sadly troubled
for the honor of their color. "What right has a white man to be traveling
with a nigger, anyhow? If he doesn't know what's decent, we'll teach him."
The crowd was, indeed, very anxious to give the offender a few summary lessons
in decency. They were like duelists, who have a ludicrous conceit that they
know what honor is. Douglass slipped out quietly, and, returning after a
little while, he remarked to his companion, in a good humored way, that
he had just seen a very singular sight in the stable; and the crowd turned
to hear what it was. "You'll hardly believe it," said Douglass,
addressing his companion as if there was no one else in the room, "but
I gave my white mare and your bay horse four quarts of oats each, and there
they are, eating side by side as quietly and contentedly as if they were
of the same color! 'Tis most extraordinary." He did not laugh nor wink,
but made his remake with a simple sincerity that was irresistible. There
was a moment of silence. Then came the echo. Human wit had spoken, and a
human heart answered. "What cussed fools we are!" said one of
the crowd, sententiously; and a loud laugh followed, which scattered like
a burst of sunlight the gathering cloud of mischievous intention. A little
tact had been a hundredfold more effectual in melting a prejudice than a
series of solumn lectures. - Editor's Easy Chair in Harper's Magazine for
The Value of Tact.
- Oregon City Enterprise, April 7, 1876.
Colonel Bowie. - A correspondent of the New York Tribune relates the following:
I remember a story I heard forty or fifty years ago. A stage was going along
an Arkansas road. On the back seat were three women; on the middle one,
two men, tall and muscular; while the forward seat held only a small man,
wrapped up completely in a blanket. After a time one of the powerful men
on the middle seat lit a cigar and smoked. The smoke went up full in the
face of one of the women, who was both young and timid. She sickened, and
then requested the man to stop smoking. This aroused the ruffian in him,
and he roughly declared, "I have paid my fare; it is customary to smoke,
and I will smoke as much as I have a mind to." According he took out
a fresh cigar and started the smoke cloud again. The woman could only add
that "Smokers ought not to forget to be gentlemen." This suggestion
excited the man's rage to a white heat. At this point the small man on the
front seat laid aside his blanket, put his left hand on the knee of the
enraged ruffian, in order to withdraw his attention from the woman to himself,
while with his right hand, he drew a bowie-knife from its case between his
shoulder blades. Pointing the weapon at the heart of the brute, and looking
him square in the eyes, the little man said: "I am Col. James Bowie,
and, unless you throw that cigar away in one minute, I will put this knife
into your heart, as true as there is a God." The ruffian comprehended
in a instant with whom he had to deal, and threw his cigar out of the window
without adding a word. Col. Bowie replaced his weapon, drew his blanket
about him and relapsed into a condition of apparent indifference.
- New North-West, Deer Lodge, Montana Territory, June 11, 1875.
[I have read this story several times over the years. The other tellings
had the narrator being none other than Henry Clay. When the trip started
Mr. Clay felt nothing but pity for the sickly man wrapped in the blanket,
but, after the occurrence described above, he spent the rest of the trip
wishing he were that man. - JL]
Charles Dickens' Manuscripts. - A glimpse of the manuscripts of the late
Charles Dickens, which now form part of the "Forster collection"
in the South Kensington Museum, conjures up a vision of numerous characters
in his popular novels. On looking attentively at the manuscripts, we are
at once struck by the number of alterations and interlineations with which
the page abound; and our first sentiment is one of surprise that the books
which appear so wonderfully natural and fluent when we read them should
evidently have been the result of much anxious thought, care and elaboration.
- North San Juan (Cal.) Times, Jan 26, 1878.
MARQUIS LAFAYETTE. - We find in the National Intelligencer a copy of a Letter
from Mr. John Brannan to Marquis Lafayette, and the answer of this venerable
patriot to Mr. Brannan, the strain of which is so truly characteristic of
the good old feeling of our continental days, that we cannot forego the
pleasure of putting it upon record:
La Grange, Oct. 26, 1823.
Dear Sir. - No present could be more acceptable to me, no pleasure in reading
could be greater, than that for which I am under obligations to you. Accept
my best thanks in general for the book, which retraces glorious perils and
patriotic names in the American war, and also for the justice you have done
to the warm interest of an old American citizen and soldier in those honorable
transactions. Most deeply and affectionately, indeed, I have felt for the
worthy sons of my companions in arms, and for the country of which it is
my proud, happy lot, to be an adopted son. Be pleased to present your respected
father with assurances of my brotherly attachment, sensible as I am of the
mutual gratification we should both find in remembering together our revolutionary
A visit to the United States which I may be allowed to take, once more going
home, would be to me a source of inexpressible delight. It is true, most
of the friends of my youth, the partners in common feelings and exertions
with our paternal Chief, are no more. But several are living, and I have
been blessed with the most flattering testimonials that ensuing generations
have not forgotten me. How happy should I be in the sight of that eminent
freedom, prosperity, domestic comfort, and all the advantages of true civilization
and extensive felicity, which, placing the United States above ancient and
modern societies, seem to stand as a compensation for the disappointments
we have had to deplore in Europe.
I shall see Mr. Sheldon on the subject of a translation of your book in
a few days, on a visit to Paris, as the meeting of the House, which goes
by the name of a Representative, is not yet fixed; and I will not wait for
it to spend days in town.
With very high and grateful regard, I have the honor to be, yours, LAFAYETTE.
[To:] Mr. John Brannan, Washington.
- American Statesman Boston, Mass., January 15, 1824
Mark Twain's Last Adventure. - I got into the cars in justaposition to a
female. That female's face was a perfect insurance company for her. It insured
her against marrying anybody except a blind man. Her mouth looked like a
crack in a dried lemon; there was no more expression in her face than there
is in a cup of cold custard. She appeared as though she had passed through
one famine, and got about two-thirds through another. She was old enough
to be the great-grandmother of Mary who had the little lamb. She was chewing
prize pop-corn, and carried in her hand a yellow rose, with a bandbox and
cotton umbrella nestled by her side. I was full of curiosity to hear her
speak, so I said: "The exigencies of the times require circumspection
in a person who is traveling." Says she, "What?" Says I,
"The orb of day shines very resplendent in the vault above." She
hitched around uneasy, then raised her umbrella and said, "I don't
want any of your sass - git out!" And I got.
- Virginia [City, Nevada] Evening Chornicle, May 18, 1874.
The tale is to the effect that Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and the venerable
Dr. Peabody, of Cambridge, once had an appointment to see a statue of Eurydice.
Dr. Holmes arrived first, and when a few moments later his friend drove
up in a cab, he greeted him with the very obvious pun:
A Popular Boston Chestnut.
"Ah, you rid, I see."
Dr. Peabody was wonderfully pleased with this sally, and on his return home
attempted to repeat it for the benefit of his family.
"Dr. Holmes was extremely witty this afternoon," he said. "We
went to see the Eurydice, and when I drove up he said just as quick as a
flash, 'Ah, doctor, I see you came in a buggy.'"
I do not vouch for the story, but tell the tale as it was told told to me.
- Arlo Bates in Providence Sunday Journal.
- The Coos Bay News, Marshfield, Ore., Jan 2, 1889.