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In a little book which bears the title of “FROM FLAG TO Flag,'* a lady of southern birth, whose home was in Louisiana at the outbreak of our “civil war," tells the story of some of the experiences which she and her husband passed through, as they ran “from flag to flag,” to Mexico and Cuba, in the search for a place of refuge. The story is told so gracefully, it is so free from all bitterness of spirit—the numberless privations which she endured were borne with such courage, and with such a cheerful spirit—that no one can read the book without admiration for the brave and accomplished authoress.
She had been berself present in April, 1860, at the Democratic Convention in Charleston, when one after another of the Southern delegations refused to ratify the adoption of the platform " that had been submitted, and “filed solemnly out of the hall.” She says that leaning over the gallery rail, and carried away by the excitement that prevailed, she saw " with unspeakable dismay that her “conservative and clear-headed” husband, when the other nine delegates from Louisiana marched out, remained seated. What followed is a matter of history. The “ Confederacy” was born, and the feeling was general throughout the South that a new era of prosperity was to dawn.
One of the first events which is described is a flag-raising on her own plantation, which was near Baton Rouge on the Mississippi. Her house was full of guests at the time that the “ Confederate Congress” at Montgomery "adopted a device for a flag." Her husband was absent from home. But, on reading the description of the proposed ilag, it was at once determined by the enthusiastic visitors at her house that one should be manufactured and unfolded from a staff on the river front. It was soon loosened to the breeze with wild enthusiasm. They danced round and round it; they sang and shouted “in very
* From Flag to Flag : A Woman's adventures and experiences in the South during the war, in Mexico and Cuba. By Eliza MOHATTON-RIPLEY. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1889. 12mo, pp. 296.
exuberance of spirit.” The steamers on the river, as they passed, whistled and rang their bells. The passengers
and crews cheered and waved to them with hats, newspapers, and handkerchiefs, saluting “the first Confederate flag raised on Louisiana soil.” But “to-day," she says, “ of all that joyous party, I am, with the exception of my son, then a very small boy, the only one living."
All went well for a time, till "one magnificant morning in early summer, the whole river, the silence on whose surface had remained now many weeks undisturbed, was suddenly, as if by magic, ablaze with the grandeur of Federal gunboats, and transports with flags and bright-colored streamers flying from every peak, their decks thronged with brilliantly uniformed officers. We stood upon the veranda with streaming eyes and bursting hearts; the gay strains of 'Yankee Doodle,' as they floated o'er the waters, filling our souls with bitterness unspeakable, and we watched the victorious pageant until it anchored amid blare of trumpet and beat of drum beside the deserted landing of our dear little city.” Now came the battle at Baton Rouge. Breckenbridge was defeated, and the house and every out-building on the plantation were soon crowded with the terrified population of the city seeking to escape from the bombardment. Her husband now found himself in danger of speedy arrest; and, with scarcely time for preparations of any kind, with his wife and children went out from his beautiful home, and commenced those long wanderings which the wife has here described. She says: “So I rode away from Arlington, leaving the sugar-house crowded to its utmost capacity with the entire crop
and molasses of the previous year, for which we had been unable to find a market within our lines, leaving cattle grazing in the fields, sheep wandering over the levee, doors and windows flung wide open, furniture in the rooms, clothes, too fine for me to wear now, hanging in the armoires, china in the closet, pictures on the walls, beds unmade, table spread. It was late in the afternoon of that bright, clear, bracing day, December 18, 1862, that I bade Arlington adieu forever.”
It is with regret that we remember that our limits will not permit us to follow with even the slightest detail the story of the long journeyings of the little family who had so suddenly found themselves homeless. The story, as we have already said, is one of countless adventures and of great hardships, not only patiently but uncomplainingly endured; and, we must not forget now to
add, that in all these hardships and disasters that befell them, they were never so cast down that they were not ready to seek out and assist with a generosity that seemed unfailing, all who were in greater distress than themselves. And so, with brave hopefulness for themselves, and constant helpfulness for others, the years wore away till the “war was over," and then the reader finds in this closing sentence that which still further enhances the respect and admiration with which he has followed the fortunes of this brave “ Southern" woman. She says: “Thus faded the Confederacy. We prayed for victory-no people ever uttered more earnest prayers—and the God of hosts gave us victory in defeat. We prayed for only that little strip, that Dixie. land, and the Lord gave us the whole country from the Lakes to the Gulf, from ocean to ocean-all dissensions settled, all dividing lines wiped out—a united country forever and ever!”
WILLIAM L. KINGSLEY.
BRITISH LETTERS.*_We think that we are doing a service to a large number of people by calling attention to three little volumes of charming selections from “British Letters,” edited by Mr. Edward T. Mason. There is not a dull paragraph among all these pages!
The author has culled from numberless volumes of the “letters” of British celebrities the very best passages from their best letters, and has grouped them under thirteen different “subject-headings" in such order as seemed most logical and illustrative. The character of these passages may be gathered from a few of the “subject-headings” which we note: -“Manners, Customs, and Behavior :"_“National Traits :""Friendship:"-"The Family:"-" The Town :"-" The Country:"_“Out-of-doors :" etc., etc. It should be understood that it has not been the plan of the editor to give whole letters, but he has picked out only the plums from each. We will transfer a small part of one of these plums, which is found in a letter of Norman Macleod, under the sub-heading of “Whim and Fancy." The letter was written to his mother on his fifty-sixth birthday. He says: “ You must acknowledge that you took a very great liberty with a man of my character and position, not to ask me whether I was disposed to enter upon a new and important state of
* British Letters, illustrative of Character and Social Life. Edited by EDWARD T. Mason, editor of “Humorous Masterpieces." New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1888. Three vols., 16mo. pp. 306, 266, 297.
existence; whether I should prefer winter or summer to begin the trial; or whether I should be a Scotchman, Irishman, or Englishman; or even whether I should be man or woman born;' each of these alternatives involving to me most important consequences. What a good John Bull I would have made! what a rattling, roaring Irishman! what a capital mother or wife! what a jolly abbess! But you doomed me to be born in a tenth rate provincial town, half Scotch, half Highland, and sealed my doom as to sex and country. Was that fair? Would you like me to have done that to you? Suppose through my fault you had been born a wild Spanish papist, what would you have said on your fifty-seventh birthday, with all your Protestant convictions ? Not one Maxwell or Buntroon related to you! you, yourself a nun called St. Agnese !-and all, forsooth because I had willed
should be born at Toledo on June 3, 1812! Think of it mother, seriously, and say, have you done to me as you would have had me do to you?” We stop here with our quotation, though the best part of the letter is yet to come.
We will quote again from a letter of Richard Harris Barham: “I must tell you one of Moore's stories, because as Sir Walter Scott is the hero of it I know it will not be unacceptable to you. When George IV. went to Ireland, one of the 'pisintry,' delighted with his affability to the crowd on landing, said to the toll-keeper as the king passed through, Och, now! and his Majesty, God bless him, never paid the turnpike! an’how's that ?' Oh! kings never does; we let 'em go free' was the answer. “Then there's the dirty money for ye,' says Pat. 'It shall never be said that the king came here and found nobody to pay the turnpike for him.' Moore, on his visit to Abbotsford, told this story to Sir Walter, when they were comparing notes as to the two royal visits. Now, Mr. Moore,' replied Scott, there ye have just the advantage of us. There was no want of enthusiasm here; the Scotch folks would have done anything in the world for his Majesty, but-pay the turnpike !'”
“Lady Morgan, an Irish lady, writing to a friend, says:
I have seen the best and worst of English society; I have dined at the table of a city trader, taken tea with the family of a London merchant, and supped at Devonshire House, all in one day, and I must say that if there is a people upon earth that understands the science of conversation Less than another, it is the English. The quickness, the variety, the rapidity of perception and impression, which is
indispensable to render conversation delightful, is constitutionally denied to them; like all people of slowly operating mental faculties, and of business pursuits, they depend upon memory more than upon spontaneous thought. When the power of, and time for, cultivating that retentive faculty is denied, they are then hébête and tiresome, and when it is granted (as among the higher circles), the omnipotence of the ton is so great that every one fears to risk himself. In Ireland it is quite different; our physique, which renders us ardent, restless, and fond of change, bids defiance to the cultivation of memory; and, therefore, though we produce men of genius, we never have boasted of any man of learning-and so we excel in conversation, because, of necessity we are obliged to do the honors of the amour-propre of others; we are obliged to give and take, for thrown upon excitement, we only respond in proportion to the quantity of stimulus received. In England, conversation is a game of chess—the result of judgment, memory, and deliberation; with us, it is a game of battledore, and our ideas, like our shuttlecocks, are thrown lightly one to the other, bounding and rebounding, played more for amusement than conquest, and leaving the players equally animated by the game and careless of its results.
There is a term in England applied to persons popular in society, which illustrates what I have said; it is “he (or she) is very amusing,” that is, they tell stories of a ghost, or an actor. They recite verses, play tricks, all of which must exclude conversation, and it is, in my opinion, the very bane of good society. An Englishman will declaim, or he will narrate, or he will be silent; but it is very difficult to get him to converse, especially if he is a suprême bon ton, or labors under the reputation of being a rising man; but even all this, dull as it is, is better than a man who, struck by some fatal analogy in what he is saying, immediately chimes in with the eternal “that puts me in mind," and then gives you, not an anecdote, but an absolute history of something his uncle did, or his grandfather said, and then, by some lucky association, goes on with stories which have his own obscure friends for his heroes or heroines, but have neither point, but, humor, nor even moral (usually tagged to the end of old ballads). Oh, save me from this, good heaven, and I will sustain all else beside !"
One more quotation we will make—for the benefit of tobacco smokers—from the letter of an English celebrity, who shall be nameless, who is urging an old friend to visit him in his country home. He says: “I am alone. . . . I am wasting my sweetness on the desert air-I say my sweetness, for I have given up smoking and smell no more !"
WILLIAM L. KINGSLEY.