Famous People

Sir John Harvey and General Scott.

The Boston Traveller relateds the following anecdote of Sir John Harvey, whose recent death, while Governor of Nova Scotia, has been already announced:

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 had."

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 that?"

"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 a quarter."

"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 me."

"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.


The Value of Tact.

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 April.

- 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 campaign.

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.


A Popular Boston Chestnut.

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:

"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.

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