xt7xsj19m55z https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7xsj19m55z/data/mets.xml Eggleston, George Cary, 1839-1911. 1910  books b92-202-30752269 English H. Holt, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Recollections of a varied life  / by George Cary Eggleston. text Recollections of a varied life  / by George Cary Eggleston. 1910 2002 true xt7xsj19m55z section xt7xsj19m55z 











      COPYRIGHT, x9to


    Z-ubi'shedc March, rgro





 This page in the original text is blank.



 CHAPTER                                                PAGE
     I. Introductory...........                               I
     II. The Country as I First Knew It-Intensity of Its
          Americanism-The Lure of New Orleans ........        2
   III.  Provincialism-A   Travel Center-Road     Conditions
          -Mails-The Estrangement of Communities and
          Other Isolating Conditions ......................   4
   IV.  The  Composite  West-Dialect-The     Intellectual
          Class ...........................................   7
    V. The Sturdy Kentuckians and Their Influence ......       9  
    VI. A Poor Boy's Career .............................. 13
  VI I. " Shooting Stock.................                I4
  VIII. A Limitless Hospitality ............................... i6
  IX. Industrial Independence and Thrift ................ i8
    X. Early  Railroads-A    Precocious Skeptic-Religious
          Restriction of Culture ........................... 20
   XI. Culture by Stealth ................................ 24
   XII. Civilization on Wheels ............................ 26
 XIII. A Breakfast Revolution .28
 XIV. A Bathroom Episode .30
 XV. Western School Methods .32
 XVI. "The Hoosier Schoolmaster "-A         Bit of Literary
          History ......................................... 34
XVII. The Biggest Boy-A    Vigorous Volunteer Monitor-
          Charley Grebe.........                         38
XVIII. What's in a Name .........                       42
XI X. A Buttermilk Poet.........                       43
  XX. Removal to Virginia-Impressions of Life There-
          The Contradiction of the Critics in Their Creative
          Incredulity.........                           45
 XXI. The Virginian Life................................     48
 XXII. The     Virginian  Attitude  Toward   Money-Parson
          J-  's Checks-The Charm    of Leisureliness....  49
XXIII. The Courtesy of the Virginians-Sex and Educa-
          tion-Reading Habits-Virginia Women's Voices        55
XXIV.   The Story of the West Wing-A       Challenge to the
          Ghosts-The Yellow-Gray Light-And Breakfast 6o
 XXV. Authors in Richmond-G. P. R. James, John Esten
          Cooke, Mrs. Mowatt Ritchie, John R. Thompson,
          etc.-John Esten Cooke, Gentleman-How Jeb
          Stuart Made Him a Major .66



CHAPTER                                              PAGE
   XXVI. The Old Life in the Old Dominion and the
             New-An Old Fogy's Doubts and Questionings 72
  XXVII   Under Jeb Stuart's Command-The Legend of
            the Mamelukes-The Life of the Cavaliers-
            Tristram Shandy Does Bible Duty-The De-
            lights of the War Game and the Inspiration of It 76
 XXVIII. Fitz Lee and an Adventure-A Friendly Old Foe 8i
   XXIX. Pestilence ..................................... 86
   XXX. Left Behind-A Gratuitous Law Practice Under
            Difficulties-The Story of Tom Collins-A
            Death-Bed Repentance and Its Prompt Recall 87
   XXXI. Sharp-Shooter Service-Mortar Service at Peters-
            burg-The Outcome of a Strange Story ....... 93
  XXXII. The Beginning of Newspaper Life-Theodore
            Tilton and Charles F. Briggs . ............... 99
 XXXIII. Theodore Tilton.                             I07
 XXXIV. Further Reminiscences of Tilton .III
 XXXV. The Tilton-Beecher Controversy-A Story as Yet
            Untold.                                   15
 XXXVI. My First Libel Suit.                          ii6
 XXXVII. Libel Suit Experiences-The Queerest of Libel
            Suits-John Y. McKane's Case ..ii
XXXVIII. Early Newspaper Experiences-Two Interviews
            with President Grant-Grant's Method     .    123
 XXXIX. Charlton T. Lewis ............................. 129
     XL. Hearth and Home-Mary Mapes Dodge-Frank
            R. Stockton-A  Whimsical View of Plagiary i31
    XLI. Some Plagiarists I Have Known-A      Peculiar
            Case of Plagiary-A Borrower from Stedinan.. 39
   XLII. The    " Hoosier  Schoolmaster's "  Influence-
             Hearth and Home Friendships and Literary
             Acquaintance-My First Book-Mr. H owells
             and " A Rebel's Recollections "-My First
             After-Dinner   Speech-Mr.    Howells,  Mark
             Twain, and Mr. Sanborn to the Rescue    .    145
   XLIII. A Novelist by Accident-" A Man of Honor " and
            the Plagiarists of. Its Title-A " Warlock" on
            the Warpath and a Lot of Fun Losto.           5
   XLIV. John Hay and the Pike County Ballads-His
             Own Story of Them and of Incidents Con-
             nected with Them            .157
    XLV. A Disappointed Author-George Ripley's Col-
            lection of Applications for His Discharge-Joe
            Harper's Masterpiece-Manuscripts and Their
            Authors-Mr. George P. Putnam's Story.        i66
    XLVT. Joaquin Miller-Dress Reform A la Stedman         172
  XLVII. Beginnings of Newspaper Illustration-Accident's
             Part in the Literary Life-Mly First Boys'
             Book-Hlow One Thing Leads to Another.... 7





CHAPTER                                               PAGE
XLVIII. The First Time     I Was    Ever  Robbed-The
           Evcniing  Post  Under Mir. Bryant-An    Old-
           Fashioned Newspaper-its Distinguished Out-
           side Staff-I ts Regard for Literature- News-
           paper Literary Criticism and the Critics of
           That  Time-Thomas     Bailey  Aldrich's Idea
           of New   York as a Place of Residence-My
           Own   Appointment and   the Strange  Manner
           of It ............................................x 186
 XLIX. A Study of Ir. Bryant-The      Irving Incident.    194
     L. Mr. Bryant's Tenderness Towards Poets-A Cover
           Commendation-How I Grieved a Poet-Anony-
           mous Literary Criticism ........................ 199
    LI. A Thrifty Poet's Plan-Mr. Bryant and the Poe
           Article-The Longfellow Incident-The Tupper
           Embarrassment  .............  .................... 205
   LII. Mr Bryant's Inidex    Expurgatorius -An EffectiVe
           Blunder  in  English-M\r.  Bryant's  Dignified
           Democracy-Mr. Cleveland's Coarser Method-
           AIr. Bryant and British Snobbery................ .209
  LII I. The  Newspaper  Critic's  Function-A  Literary
           News " Beat "-.Mr. Bryant and Contemporary
           Poets-Concerning Genius-The True Story of
           " Thanatopsis"   ...  .   ..............................  217
   LIV. An    Extraordinary  Case  of Ileterophemy-The
           Demolition of a Critic .......................... 222
    LV. Parke Godwin-" A Lion in a Den of Daniels "-
           The Literary Shop Again-Literary Piracy-
           British and American ............................ 227
   LVI. The Way of Washington Orficials-A        Historical
           Discovery-A Period Out of Place-A Futile
           Effort to Make Peace-The " Intelligent Com-
           positor " at His Worst-Loring Pacha-War
           Correspondents-The   Tourist  Correspondent-
           Loring's Story of Experience ................... 234
  LVII. " A  Stranded Gold Bug "-Results of a Bit of
           H um or  .................................. .......  247
 LVIII. Mrs. Custer's " Boots and Saddles "-The Success
           and Failure of Books ........................... 232
   LIX. Letters of Introduction-The Disappointment of
           Lily Browneyes-Mark Twain's Method-Some
           Dangerous Letters of Introduction-Moses and
           MIy Green Spectacles ............................ 255
    LX. English Literary Visitors-Mir. Edmund Gosse's
           Visit-His Amusing Misconceptions-A Question
           of Provincialism-A Literary Vandal.... .     . 265
   LXI. The Founding of the Authors' Club-Reminiscences
           of Early Club Life-John Hay and Edwin Booth
           on Dime Novels ................................ 272


viii                    Contents
  CHAPTER                                              PAGE
  LXII. The Authors Club-Its Ways and Its Work-
           Watch-Night Frolics-Max O'Rell and Mark
           Twain-The Reckless Injustice of the Humor-
           ists-Bishop Potter's Opinion-The Club's Con-
           tribution of Statesmen and Diplomats-The De-
           light of the Authors Club "After the Authors
           Have Gone Home "-" Liber Scriptorum," the
           Club's Successful Publishing Venture ............ 277
 LXIII. In Newspaper Life Again-Editing the Comnmzercial
           Advertiser-John Bigelow's Discouraging Opin-
           ion-Henry Marquand and Some of My Brilliant
           "Cubs "-Men Who Have Made Place and Name
           for Themselves-The Dread Task of the Editor-
           in-Chief-Yachting with Marquand and the Men I
           Met on Deck-Parke Godwin-Recollections of a
           Great and Good Man-A Mystery of Forgetting 286
 LXIV. Newspapers Then and Now-The Pulitzer Revolu-
           tion-The Lure of the World-A Little Dinner to
           James R. Osgood .300
  LXV. Service   on  the  World-John  A. Cockerill-An
           Editorial Perplexity-Editorial Emergencies-In
           Praise of the Printers-Don Piatt-" A Syndi-
           cate of Blackguards"-An Unmeant Crime .     307
 LXVI. First Acquaintance with Joseph Pulitzer-His Hos-
           pitality, Courtesy, Kindliness, and Generosity-
           His Intellectual Methods-The Maynard Case-
           Bryan's Message and Mr. Pulitzer's Answer-Ex-
           traordinary Political Foresight.            319
LXVII. A Napoleonic Conception-A Challenge to the Gov-
           ernment-The Power of the Press .327
LXVIII. Recollections of Carl Schurz .333
LXIX. The End of Newspaper Life..................... 337
  LXX. My Working Ways-Extemporary Writing-The
           Strange Perversity of the People in Fiction-The
           Novelist's Sorest Perplexity-Working Hours
           and Working Ways-My Two Rules as to Lit-
           erary Style .339




  MR. HOWELLS once said to me: "Every man's life is
interesting-to himself."
  I suppose that is true, though in the cases of some
men it seems a difficult thing to understand.
  At any rate it is not because of personal interest in
my own life that I am writing this book. I was perfectly
sincere in wanting to call these chapters " The Auto-
biography of an Unimportant Man," but on reflection
I remembered Franklin's wise saying that whenever he
saw the phrase "without vanity I may say," some
peculiarly vain thing was sure to follow.
  I am  seventy years old.  My life has been one of
unusually varied activity.  It has covered half the period
embraced in the republic's existence. It has afforded me
opportunity to see and share that development of physical,
intellectual, and moral life conditions, which has been
perhaps the most marvelous recorded in the history of
  Incidentally to the varied activities and accidents of
my life, I have been brought into contact with many in-
teresting men, and into relation with many interesting
events.  It is of these chiefly that I wish to write, and
if I were minded to offer an excuse for this book's exist-
ence, this would be the marrow of it. But a book that
needs excuse is inexcusable.  I make no apology.  I am
writing of the men and things I remember, because I


2          Recollections of a Varied Life
wish to do so, because my publisher wishes it, and because
he and I think that others will be interested in the result.
We shall see, later, how that is.
   This will be altogether a good-humored book. I have
no grudges to gratify, no revenges to wreak, no debts of
wrath to repay in cowardly ways; and if I had I should
put them all aside as unworthy.  I have found my fellow-
men in the main kindly, just, and generous.  The chief
pleasure I have had in living has been derived from my
association with them in good-fellowship and all kindli-
ness. The very few of them who have wronged me, I
have forgiven. The few who have been offensive to me,
I have forgotten, with conscientiously diligent care. There
has seemed to me no better thing to do with them.


   IT is difficult for any one belonging to this modern
time to realize the conditions of life in this country in
the eighteen-forties, the period at which my recollection
  The country at that time was all American.   The
great tides of immigration which have since made it the
most cosmopolitan of countries, had not set in.  Foreign-
ers among us were so few that they were regarded with
a great deal of curiosity, some contempt, and not a little
pity. Even in places like my native town of Vevay,
Indiana, which had been settled by a company of Swiss
immigrants at the beginning of the century, the feeling
was strong that to be foreign was to be inferior.  Those
who survived of the original Swiss settlers were generously
tolerated as unfortunates grown old, and on that account
entitled to a certain measure of respectful deference in
spite of their taint.


The Lure of New Orleans

  To us in the WVest, at least, all foreigners whose mother
tongue was other than English were " Dutchmen." There
is reason to believe that this careless and inattentive group-
ing prevailed in other parts of the country as well as in
the West. WVhy, otherwise, were the German speaking
people of Pennsylvania and the mountain regions south
universally known as " Pennsylvania Dutch
  And yet, in spite of the prevailing conviction that
everything foreign was inferior, the people of the Ohio
valley-who constituted the most considerable group of
Western Americans-looked with unapproving but ardent
admiration upon foreign life, manners, and ways of think-
ing as these were exemplified in New Orleans.
  In that early time, when the absence of bridges, the
badness of roads, and the primitive character of vehicular
devices so greatly emphasized overland distances, New
Orleans was the one great outlet and inlet of travel and
traffic for all the region beyond the mountain barrier that
made the East seem as remote as far Cathay.  Thither
the people of the WVest sent the produce of their orchards
and their fields to find a market; thence came the goods
sold in the "stores," and the very money-Spanish and
French silver coins-that served as a circulating medium.
The men who annually voyaged thither on flat-boats,
brought back wondering tales of the strange things seen
there, and especially of the enormous wickedness encoun-
tered among a people who had scarcely heard of the
religious views accepted among ourselves as unquestioned
and unquestionable truth.  I remember hearing a whole
sermon on the subject once.  The preacher had taken
alarm over the eagerness young men showed to secure
employment as "hands " on flat-boats for the sake of
seeing the wonderful city where buying and selling on the
Sabbath excited no comment. He feared contamination
of the youth of the land, and with a zeal that perhaps



Recollections of a Varied Life

outran discretion, he urged God-fearing merchants to aban-
don the business of shipping the country's produce to
market, declaring that he had rather see all of it go to
waste than risk the loss of a single young man's soul by
sending him to a city so unspeakably wicked that he con-
fidently expected early news of its destruction after the
manner of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  The " power of preaching " was well-nigh measure-
less in that time and region, but so were the impulses
of " business," and I believe the usual number of flat-
boats were sent out from the little town that year.  The
merchants seemed to " take chances " of the loss of souls
when certain gain was the stake on the other side, a fact
which strongly suggests that human nature in that time
and country was very much the same in its essentials as
human nature in all other times and countries.


  TIE remoteness of the different parts of the country
from each other in those days is difficult to understand, or
even fairly to imagine nowadays.  For all purposes of
civilization remoteness is properly measured, not by miles,
but by the difficulty of travel and intercourse.  It was
in recognition of this that the founders of the Republic
gave to Congress authority to establish " post offices and
post roads," and that their successors lavished money upon
endeavor to render human intercourse easier, speedier,
and cheaper by the construction of the national road,
by the digging of canals, and by efforts to improve the
postal service.  In my early boyhood none of these things
had come upon us.    There were no railroads crossing
the Appalachian chain of mountains, and no wagon roads
that were better than tracks over ungraded hills and quag-



                  A Travel Center                  5
mire trails through swamps and morasses.  Measured by
ease of access, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore
were at a greater distance from the dwellers in the West
than Hong Kong or Singapore is now, while Boston was
remoter than the mountains of the moon.
  There were no telegraphs available to us; the mails
were irregular, uncertain, and unsafe.  The wagons,
called stagecoaches, that carried them, were subject to
capture and looting at the hands of robber bands who
infested many parts of the country, having their head-
quarters usually at some town where roads converged and
lawlessness reigned supreme.
  One such town was Napoleon, Indiana. In illustration
of its character an anecdote was related in my boyhood.
A man from the East made inquiry in Cincinnati concern-
ing routes to various points in the Hoosier State, and
  ",If I want to go to Indianapolis, what road do I
take " he asked.
  " Why, you go to Napoleon, and take the road north-
  " If I want to go to Madison "
  " Go to Napoleon, and take the road southwest."
  "Suppose I want to go to St. Louis"
  " Why, you go to Napoleon, and take the national
road west."
  And so on. through a long list, with Napoleon as
the starting point of each reply.  At last the man asked
in despair:
  "Weell now, stranger, suppose I wanted to go to
Hell "
  The stranger answered without a moment's hesira-
tion, " Oh, in that case, just go to Napoleon, and stay
  That is an episode, as the reader has probably dis-


Recollections of a Varied Life

covered.   To return to the mails.    It was not until
i845, and after long agitation, that the rate on letters
was reduced to five cents for distances less than three
hundred miles, and ten cents for greater distances. News-
paper postage was relatively even higher.
   The result of these conditions was that each quarter
of the country was shut out from everything like free
communication with the other quarters. Each section was
isolated.  Each was left to work out its own salvation
as best it might, without aid, without consultation, with-
out the chastening or the stimulation of contact and attri-
tion.  Each region cherished its own prejudices, its own
dialect, its own ways of living, its own overweening self-
consciousness of superiority to all the rest, its own narrow
bigotries, and its own suspicious contempt of everything
foreign to itself.
   In brief, we had no national life in the eighteen-forties,
or for long afterwards,-no community of thought, or
custom, or attitude of mind. The several parts of the
country were a loose bundle of segregated and, in many
ways, antagonistic communities, bound together only by
a common loyalty to the conviction that this was the
greatest, most glorious, most invincible country in the
world, God-endowed with a mental, moral, and physical
superiority that put all the rest of earth's nations com-
pletely cut of the reckoning.  WVe were all of us Amer-
icans-intense, self-satisfied, self-glorifying Americans-
but we had little else in common.   We did not know
each other. WVe had been bred in radically different ways.
WVe had different ideals, different conceptions of life,
different standards of conduct, different ways of living,
different traditions, and different aspirations.  The coun-
try was provincial to the rest of the world, and still more
narrowly provincial each region to the others.



The Composite West


  I THINK, however, that the Whest was less provincial,
probably, and less narrow in its views and sympathies than
were New England, the Middle States, and the South
at that time, and this for a very sufficient reason.
  The people in New England rarely came into contact
with those of the Middle and Southern States, and never
with those of the West. The people of the Middle States
and those of the South were similarly shut within them-
selves, having scarcely more than an imaginary acquaint-
ance with the dwellers in other parts of the country.
The West was a common meeting ground where men from
New England, the Middle States, and the South Atlantic
region constituted a varied population, representative of
all the rest of the country, and dwelling together in so
close a unity that each group adopted many of the ways
and ideas of the other groups, and correspondingly modi-
fied its own. These were first steps taken toward homo-
geneity in the WVest, such as were taken in no other part
of the country in that time of little travel and scanty inter-
course among men.    The Virginians, Carolinians, and
New Englanders who had migrated to the XVest learned
to make and appreciate the apple butter and the sauer-
kraut of the Pennsylvanians; the pie of New England
found favor with Southerners in return for their hoecake,
hominy, chine, and spareribs. And as with material things,
so also with things of the mind.  Customs were blended,
usages were borrowed and modified, opinions were fused
together into new forms, and speech was wrought into
something different from that which any one group had
known-a blend, better, richer, and more forcible than
any of its constituent parts had been.
  In numbers the Virginians, Kentuckians, and Caroli-



8         Recollections of a Varied Life
nians were a strong majority in the West, and the so-
called " Hoosier dialect," which prevailed there, was
nearly identical with that of the Virginian mountains,
Kentucky, and the rural parts of Carolina.  But it was
enriched with many terms and forms of speech belong-
ing to other sections.  Better still, it was chastened by
the influence of the small but very influential company of
educated men and women who had come from Virginia
and Kentucky, and by the strenuous labors in behalf of
good English of the Yankee school-ma'ams, who taught
us by precept to make our verbs agree with their nomina-
tives, and, per contra, by unconscious example to say
  doo,.. '. noo," and the like, for " dew," " new," etc.
  The prevalence of the dialect among the uneducated
classes was indeed, though indirectly, a ministry to the
cause of good English.  The educated few, fearing con-
tarnination of their children's speech through daily con-
tact with the ignorant, were more than usually strict in
exacting correct usage at the hands of their youngsters.
I very well remember how grievously it afflicted my own
young soul that I was forbidden, under penalty, to say
" chimbly " and " flanner " for " chimney " and " flan-
r.]J," to call inferior things " ornery," to use the com-
promise term "'low "-abbreviation of " allow,"-which
very generally took the place of the Yankee " guess " and
the Southern ' reckon," and above all to call tomatoes
  It is of interest to recall the fact that this influential class
of educated men and women, included some really schol-
arly persons, as well as a good many others who, without
being scholarly, were educated and accustomed to read.
Among the scholarly ones, within the purview of my mem-
ory, were such as Judge Algernon S. Stevens, Judge Alger-
non S. Sullivan, Judge Miles Cary Eggleston, the Hen-
drickses, the Stapps, the Rev. Hiram Wason, my own


The Sturdy Kentuckians

father, and Mrs. Julia L. Dumont, a very brilliant woman,
who taught school for love of it and wrote books that
in our time would have given her something more than
the provincial reputation she shared with Alice and
Phoebe Carey, and some others.


   OF still greater consequence, perhaps, so far as in-
flucnce upon their time and country was concerned, were
the better class of Kentuckians who had crossed the Ohio
to become sharers in the future of the great Northwest.
  These were mostly men of extraordinary energy-
physical and mental-who had mastered what the Ken-
tucky schoolmasters could teach them, and had made of
their schooling the foundation of a broader educacion
the dominant characteristic of which was an enlighten-
ment of mind quite independent of scholarly acquisition.
  These men were thinkers accustomed, by habit and in-
heritance, to look facts straight in the face, to form their
own opinions untrammeled by tradition, unbiased by fine-
spun equivocation, and wholly unrestrained in their search
for truth by conventional hobbles of any kind.  Most
of them had more or less Scotch-Irish blood in their veins,
and were consequently wholesome optimists, full of cour-
age, disposed to righteousness of life for its own sake,
and resolutely bent upon the betterment of life by means
of their own living.
  Most of them numbered one or more Baptist or Metho-
dist preachers among their ancestry-men of healthy
minds and open ones, men to whom religion was far less
a matter of emotion than of conduct, men who did the
duty that lay next to them-be it plowing or praying,



Io        Recollections of a Varied Life
preaching or fighting Indians or Englishmen-with an
equal mind.
   Men of such descent were educated by environment
in better ways than any that schools can furnish.  From
infancy they had lived in an atmosphere of backwoods
culture,-culture drawn in part from such books as were
accessible to them, and in greater part from association
with the strong men who had migrated in early days
to conquer the WNVest and make of it a princely possession
of the Republic.
  The books they had were few, but they were the very
best that English literature afforded, and they read them
over and over again with diligence and intelligence until
they had made their own every fecundative thought the
books suggested.  Then they went away, and thought
for themselves, with untrammeled freedom, of the things
thus presented to their minds.  I have sometimes won-
dered if their method of education, chiefly by independent
thinking, and with comparatively little reverence for mere
" authority," might not have been better, in its character-
building results at least, than our modern, more bookish
  That question does not concern us now. What I wish
to point out is the fact that the country owes much to
the influence of these strong men of affairs and action,
whose conviction that every man owes it to his fellow-
men so to live that this may be a better world for other
men to live in because of his having lived in it, gave that
impulse to education which later made Indiana a marvel
and a model to the other states in all that concerns educa-
tion. Those men believed themselves and their children
entitled to the best in schooling as in everything else, and
from the very beginning they set out to secure it.
  If a wandering schoolmaster came within call, they
gave him a schoolhouse and a place to live in, and bade


Early Educational Impulses

him " keep school." When he had canvassed the region
round about for " scholars," and was ready-with his
ox gads-to open his educational institution, the three
or four of these men whose influence pervaded and dorni-
nated the region round about, said a word or two to
each other, and made themselves responsible for the tuition
fees of all the boys and girls in the neighborhood whose
parents were too poor to pay.
  In the same spirit, years later, when an effort was made
to establish colleges in the state, these men or their chil-
dren who had inherited their impulse, were prompt to
furnish the money needed, however hard pressed they
might be for money themselves.   I remember that my
mother-the daughter of one of the most conspicuous of
the Kentuckians-when she was a young widow with
four children to bring up on an income of about d250
a year, subscribed ioo to the foundation of Indiana
Asbury University, becoming, in return, the possessor of
a perpetual scholarship, entitling her for all time to
maintain a student there free of tuition.  It was with
money drawn from such sources that the colleges of
Indiana were founded.
  Under the influence of these Kentuckians, Virginians,
and men of character who in smaller numbers had come
out from  New England and the Middle States, there
was from the first an impulse of betterment in the very
atmosphere of the W\est.  Even the " poor whites " of
the South who had migrated to the Northwest in pursuit
of their traditional dream of finding a land where one
might catch " two 'possums up one 'simmon tree," were
distinctly uplifted by the influence of such men, not as
a class, perhaps, but in a sufficient number of individual
cases to raise the average level of their being. The greater
number of these poor whites continued to be the good-
natured, indolent, unthrifty people that their ancestors



12        Recollections of a Varied Life
had always been.  They remained content to be renters
In a region where the acquisition of land in independent
ownership was easy.  They continued to content them-
selves with an inadequate cultivation of their crops, and
a meager living, consequent upon their neglect.  They
continued to give to shooting, fishing, and rude social
indulgences the time they ought to have given to work.
But their children were learning to read and write, and,
better still, were learning by observation the advantages
of a more industrious living, and when the golden age
of steamboating came, they sought and found profitable
employment either upon the river or about the wharves.
The majority of these were content to remain laborers,
as deckhands and the like, but in some of them at least
ambition was born, and they became steamboat mates,
pilots, and, in some cases, the captains and even the own-
ers of steamboats. On the whole, I think the proportion
of the class of people who thus achieved a higher status,
bettering themselves in enduring ways was quite as large
as it ever is in the history of an unfortunate or inferior
class of men.  In the generations that have followed
some at least of the descendants of that " poor white "
class, whose case had always been accounted hopeless,
have risen to distinction in intellectual ways.  One dis-
tinguished judge of our time, a man now of national
reputation, is the grandson of a poor white who negli-
gently cultivated land rented from a relative of my own.
His father was my schoolmate for a season, and was
accounted inferior by those of us who were more for-
tunately descended.  So much for free institutions in
a land of hope, opportunity, and liberty, where the " pur-
suit of happiness " and betterment was accounted an " un-
alienable right."


A  Poor Boy's Career


  IN another case that comes home to me for reasons,
the betterment was more immediate.       My maternal
grandfather, the old Kentuckian, George Craig, whose
name is preserved in many ways in t