He was son to a mayor of Liverpool, born in , of ancient family. He wrote his own memoirs after returning from America. Afterwards in Parliament. Never afterwards distinguished in arms. Created baronet in , and died childless in Thought he was not sufficiently honored among more modern heroes.
Lost part of his right hand in battle of Guilford Court House.
A man of pleasure in England. It would be a good idea for a painter to paint a picture of a great actor, representing him in several different characters of one scene,--Iago and Othello, for instance. Maine , July 5, He leads a bachelor's life in his paternal mansion, only a small part of which is occupied by a family who serve him. He provides his own breakfast and supper, and occasionally his dinner; though this is oftener, I believe, taken at a hotel, or an eating-house, or with some of his relatives. I am his guest, and my presence makes no alteration in his way of life.
Our fare, thus far, has consisted of bread, butter, and cheese, crackers, herrings, boiled eggs, coffee, milk, and claret wine. He has another inmate, in the person of a queer little Frenchman, who has his breakfast, tea, and lodging here, and finds his dinner elsewhere. Monsieur S does not appear to be more than twenty-one years old,--a diminutive figure, with eyes askew, and otherwise of an ungainly physiognomy; he is ill-dressed also, in a coarse blue coat, thin cotton pantaloons, and unbrushed boots; altogether with as little of French coxcombry as can well be imagined, though with something of the monkey aspect inseparable from a little Frenchman.
He is, nevertheless, an intelligent and well-informed man, apparently of extensive reading in his own language,--a philosopher, B tells me, and an infidel. Thus here are three characters, each with something out of the common way, living together somewhat like monks. B, our host, combines more high and admirable qualities, of that sort which make up a gentleman, than any other that I have met with. Polished, yet natural, frank, open, and straightforward, yet with a delicate feeling for the sensitiveness of his companions; of excellent temper and warm heart; well acquainted with the world, with a keen faculty of observation, which he has had many opportunities of exercising, and never varying from a code of honor and principle which is really nice and rigid in its way.
There is a sort of philosophy developing itself in him which will not impossibly cause him to settle down in this or some other equally singular course of life.
He seems almost to have made up his mind never to be married, which I wonder at; for he has strong affections, and is fond both of women and children. The little Frenchman impresses me very strongly, too,--so lonely as he is here, struggling against the world, with bitter feelings in his breast, and yet talking with the vivacity and gayety of his nation; making this his home from darkness to daylight, and enjoying here what little domestic comfort and confidence there is for him; and then going about the live-long day, teaching French to blockheads who sneer at him, and returning at about ten o'clock in the evening for I was wrong in saying he supped here,--he eats no supper to his solitary room and bed.
In the morning I hear him getting up early, at sunrise or before, humming to himself, scuffling about his chamber with his thick boots, and at last taking his departure for a solitary ramble till breakfast. Then he comes in, cheerful and vivacious enough, eats pretty heartily, and is off again, singing French chansons as he goes down the gravel-walk.
The poor fellow has nobody to sympathize with him but B, and thus a singular connection is established between two utterly different characters. Then here is myself, who am likewise a queer character in my way, and have come to spend a week or two with my friend of half a lifetime,--the longest space, probably, that we are ever destined to spend together; for Fate seems preparing changes for both of us. My circumstances, at least, cannot long continue as they are and have been; and B, too, stands between high prosperity and utter ruin.
I think I should soon become strongly attached to our way of life, so independent and untroubled by the forms and restrictions of society. The house is very pleasantly situated,--half a mile distant from where the town begins to be thickly settled, and on a swell of land, with the road running at a distance of fifty yards, and a grassy tract and a gravel-walk between. Beyond the road rolls the Kennebec, here two or three hundred yards wide. Irishmen and Canadians toil at work on it, and the echoes of their hammering and of the voices come across the river and up to this window.
Then there is a sound of the wind among the trees round the house; and, when that is silent, the calm, full, distant voice of the river becomes audible. Looking downward thither, I see the rush of the current, and mark the different eddies, with here and there white specks or streaks of foam; and often a log comes floating on, glistening in the sun, as it rolls over among the eddies, having voyaged, for aught I know, hundreds of miles from the wild upper sources of the river, passing down, down, between lines of forest, and sometimes a rough clearing, till here it floats by cultivated banks, and will soon pass by the village.
Sometimes a long raft of boards comes along, requiring the nicest skill in navigating it through the narrow passage left by the mill-dam. Chaises and wagons occasionally go over the road, the riders all giving a passing glance at the dam, or perhaps alighting to examine it more fully, and at last departing with ominous shakes of the head as to the result of the enterprise. My position is so far retired from the river and mill-dam, that, though the latter is really rather a scene, yet a sort of quiet seems to be diffused over the whole.
Two or three times a day this quiet is broken by the sudden thunder from a quarry, where the workmen are blasting rocks; and a peal of thunder sounds strangely in such a green, sunny, and quiet landscape, with the blue sky brightening the river. I have not seen much of the people. A passionate tavern-keeper, quick as a flash of gunpowder, a nervous man, and showing in his demeanor, it seems, a consciousness of his infirmity of temper.
I was a witness of a scuffle of his with a drunken guest. The tavern-keeper, after they were separated, raved like a madman, and in a tone of voice having a drolly pathetic or lamentable sound mingled with its rage, as if he were lifting up his voice to weep.
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Then he jumped into a chaise which was standing by, whipped up the horse, and drove off rapidly, as if to give his fury vent in that way. On the morning of the Fourth of July, two printer's apprentice-lads, nearly grown, dressed in jackets and very tight pantaloons of check, tight as their skins, so that they looked like harlequins or circus-clowns, yet appeared to think themselves in perfect propriety, with a very calm and quiet assurance of the admiration of the town.
A common fellow, a carpenter, who, on the strength of political partisanship, asked B's assistance in cutting out great letters from play-bills in order to print "Martin Van Buren Forever" on a flag; but B refused. B seems to be considerably of a favorite with the lower orders, especially with the Irishmen and French Canadians,--the latter accosting him in the street, and asking his assistance as an interpreter in making their bargains for work. I meant to dine at the hotel with B to-day; but having returned to the house, leaving him to do some business in the village, I found myself unwilling to move when the dinner-hour approached, and therefore dined very well on bread, cheese, and eggs.
We live very comfortably in our bachelor establishment on a cold shoulder of mutton, with ham and smoked beef and boiled eggs; and as to drinkables, we had both claret and brown sherry on the dinner-table to-day. Last evening we had a long literary and philosophical conversation with Monsieur S He is rather remarkably well-informed for a man of his age, and seems to have very just notions on ethics, etc.
It is strange to hear philosophy of any sort from such a boyish figure.
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One of his oddities is, that, while steadfastly maintaining an opinion that he is a very small and slow eater, and that we, in common with other Yankees, eat immensely and fast, he actually eats both faster and longer than we do, and devours, as B avers, more victuals than both of us together.
Saturday , July 8 th.
The brook runs through a valley, on one side bordered by a high and precipitous bank; on the other there is an interval, and then the bank rises upward and upward into a high hill, with gorges and ravines separating one summit from another, and here and there are bare places, where the rain-streams have washed away the grass. The brook is bestrewn with stones, some bare, some partially moss-grown, and sometimes so huge as--once at least--to occupy almost the whole breadth of the current. It sings along, sometimes smooth, with the pebbles visible beneath, sometimes rushing dark and swift, eddying and whitening past some rock, or underneath the hither or the farther bank; and at these places B cast his line, and sometimes drew out a trout, small, not more than five or six inches long.
The farther we went up the brook, the wilder it grew. The opposite bank was covered with pines and hemlocks, ascending high upwards, black and solemn. One knew that there must be almost a precipice behind, yet we could not see it. At the foot you could spy, a little way within the darksome shade, the roots and branches of the trees; but soon all sight was obstructed amidst the trunks.
On the hither side, at first the bank was bare, then fringed with alder-bushes, bending and dipping into the stream, which, farther on, flowed through the midst of a forest of maple, beech, and other trees, its course growing wilder and wilder as we proceeded. For a considerable distance there was a causeway, built long ago of logs, to drag lumber upon; it was now decayed and rotten, a red decay, sometimes sunken down in the midst, here and there a knotty trunk stretching across, apparently sound.
The sun being now low towards the west, a pleasant gloom and brightness were diffused through the forest, spots of brightness scattered upon the branches, or thrown down in gold upon the last year's leaves among the trees. At last we came to where a dam had been built across the many years ago, and was now gone to ruin, so as to make the spot look more solitary and wilder than if man had never left vestiges of his toil there.
Above the dam there was a broad and deep pool, one side of which was bordered by a precipitous wall of rocks, as smooth as if hewn out and squared, and piled one upon another, above which rose the forest. On the other side there was still a gently shelving bank, and the shore was covered with tall trees, among which I particularly remarked a stately pine, wholly devoid of bark, rising white in aged and majestic ruin, thrusting out its barkless arms.
It must have stood there in death many years, its own ghost. Above the dam the brook flowed through the forest, a glistening and babbling water-path, illuminated by the sun, which sent its rays almost straight along its course. It was as lovely and wild and peaceful as it could possibly have been a hundred years ago; and the traces of labors of men long departed added a deeper peace to it.
I bathed in the pool, and then pursued my way down beside the brook, growing dark with a pleasant gloom, as the sun sank and the water became more shadowy. B says that there was formerly a tradition that the Indians used to go up this brook, and return, after a brief absence, with large masses of lead, which they sold at the trading-stations in Augusta; whence there has always been an idea that there is a lead-mine hereabouts.
Great toadstools were under the trees, and some small ones as yellow and almost the size of a half-broiled yolk of an egg. Strawberries were scattered along the brookside. Dined at the hotel or Mansion House to-day. Men were playing checkers in the parlor. The Marshal of Maine, a corpulent, jolly fellow, famed for humor. A passenger left by the stage, hiring an express onward. A bottle of champagne was quaffed at the bar. July 9 th. He says that they sell and exchange these small houses among themselves continually.
They may be built in three or four days, and are valued at four or five dollars. When the turf that is piled against the walls of some of them becomes covered with grass, it makes quite a picturesque object. It was almost dusk--just candle-lighting time--when we visited them. A young Frenchwoman, with a baby in her arms, came to the door of one of them, smiling, and looking pretty and happy. Her husband, a dark, black-haired, lively little fellow, caressed the child, laughing and singing to it; and there was a red-bearded Irishman, who likewise fondled the little brat.
Then we could hear them within the hut, gabbling merrily, and could see them moving about briskly in the candlelight, through the window and open door. An old Irishwoman sat in the door of another hut, under the influence of an extra dose of rum,--she being an old lady of somewhat dissipated habits. She called to B, and began to talk to him about her resolution not to give up her house: for it is his design to get her out of it. She is a true virago, and, though somewhat restrained by respect for him, she evinced a sturdy design to remain here through the winter, or at least for a considerable time longer.
He persisting, she took her stand in the doorway of the hut, and stretched out her fist in a very Amazonian attitude. The different families also have battles, and occasionally the Irish fight with the Canadians. The latter, however, are much the more peaceable, never quarrelling among themselves, and seldom with their neighbors. They are frugal, and often go back to Canada with considerable sums of money.
B has gained much influence both with the Irish and the French,--with the latter, by dint of speaking to them in their own language. He is the umpire in their disputes, and their adviser, and they look up to him as a protector and patron-friend.
I have been struck to see with what careful integrity and wisdom he manages matters among them, hitherto having known him only as a free and gay young man. He appears perfectly to understand their general character, of which he gives no very flattering description. In these huts, less than twenty feet square, he tells me that upwards of twenty people have sometimes been lodged. A description of a young lady who had formerly been insane, and now felt the approach of a new fit of madness. She had been out to ride, had exerted herself much, and had been very vivacious.
On her return, she sat down in a thoughtful and despondent attitude, looking very sad, but one of the loveliest objects that ever were seen. The family spoke to her, but she made no answer, nor took the least notice; but still sat like a statue in her chair,--a statue of melancholy and beauty.