Charles Frederick Holder.

The Californian (Volume 4) online

. (page 27 of 120)
Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 27 of 120)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

went off to hospital. Everybody
thought that was the last of him, but
back he came. He surely did have
pluck enough some ways, and the
right kind, too, but any sudden sound
of firing that went to our heads like
drink, and made us hope something
was going on, would take all the
soldier out of Joe, and he'd drop right
down in his tracks. He told me one
night that 'twas something that come
over him quick, and he could n't help
it to save his life ; he'd never been
called a scary fellow nor a coward as
he knew of, till he come out there.

1 ' Seems to me now, whenever I
come to think it over, that there was
dreadful foolish actions that first sum-
mer of the war down in Virginia. We
all felt as if something had got to be
done, but we didn't know just what,
and the Rebs hung round, and we
hung round, and orders would come
for us to march off thirty or forty
miles, and we wandered about like
stray cattle, but 'twas pleasant
weather and we liked it well enough.
Somehow you don't think so much
about killing folks or any of those



things that come to you afterward,
but when those old band tunes would
begin to rip the air, we'd all catch
hold and sing and step right out along
the road — well 'twas like something
that got into your head.

" But that poor chap, quick as the
word come to move, he'd go all to
pieces, kind of frost struck, and the
boys would tell him we were going
into action and he'd try and step out
in line, but he'd lag and lag, and I 've
seen him tumble right over and lie
there on the grass. The Captain
would stop, I' ve seen him myself —
and pin a piece of paper on him with
orders to let him pass, so when we'd
get through the day's scurry, along
would come poor Joe looking in all
our faces to see if we meant to twit

" And at last we came round to the
very spot where we'd camped the long-
est in the spring — we'd lost a good
many out of the company ; we were
on our way up to Harper's Ferry.
Everybody had been noticing that old
Joe looked as slim as a spear o' hay,
and we told the captain and some other
of the officers that he ought to be dis-
charged or go back to hospital, one of
the two. 'Twas no use for him to
think he could serve out his time, and
if they gave hini orders he'd have to
go whether on no, don't you see?
He could n't more than crawl about,
but he kept his blanket folded tight
as any body and was always trying to
do a touch of work for some of the
rest of us. He was bound he'd do
what he could do, that poor boy was.
Plenty of the boys was down sick of
army life by that time and were com-
plaining of their health to make ex-
cuse to get home to their folks, and
the company was all thinned out. I
suppose that the officers didn't know
what to do, and they had to hold on
to everything that looked like a man.

" I was wandering round one night
while supper was cooking, and wait-
ing till my turn came to go on
picket. I had spoken for Joe to go
with me ; the captain and I looked

after him the best we could ; Joe
felt safer with me, I knew, and we
were short of men. I saw him lean-
ing up against a tree, and his head
was dropping like a sick bird's, and I
went over close to speak to him about
picket duty, but he didn't say any-
thing, and he reached out one of his
hands towards me.

"'Chirk up, Joe,' said I, 'look
how pleasant it is ! ' and then I mis-
trusted something was wrong, and I
sat down and put back his head to
look at him. He was white as a
piece of cloth and his eyes were glaz-
ing all over.

" ' I'm 'shamed,' says he; ' I ought
to have stayed right at home. I ain't
fit for a soldier — '

"'No more you ain't!' says I.
1 Come, cheer up, Peach-tree.'

" ' I wa n't never called a coward,'
says he again. 'I ain't afraid of any-
thing myself, but I can't make my
body serve me. I don't blame the
boys for laughing. I could lay down
an' die of shame when I come out of
those .scares — '

" ' You never had a fair smell of
powder yet.' I'd heard all this before
and I didn't know what else to say.

" 'I've got to go right home, now,'
says he ; 'I meant to serve my time,
if it killed me, but I'm all played out,'
and he let his head drop ; but that
minute there came the noise of firing,
and I heard the old bugle yell out.
I started up, and the poor chap was on
his feet before I was, his eyes blazing
out of his head. ' Come on ! ' says he,
1 come on ! I ain't afraid this time ! '

" He sung out just as pleased as if
something was lifted right off of him
and ran forward two or three steps —
then stumbled and fell right over
heavy on to his face. I stopped and
turned him over, and he was stone
dead — just as if the lightning had
struck him — "


John turned away, hesitated a
minute at the stable doorway as if he
was looking for some one in the gar-
den ; then he took the mare by the



head and went quickly into the stall.
I was oppressed by the silence — some-
body must say something.

11 They ought to have sent such a
poor fellow home," I insisted, stoutly,
but John had quite regained his every-
day manner.

1 ' We did send him home ; we boys
and some of the other companies
helped. 'Twas done handsome as if
he had been the general himself. ' '

The horses were munching in a
row. I heard footsteps coming toward
the stable and alighted from my high

"There was that little peach tree
just breaking down with fruit on
account of his tending it so much ;
' twas right in front of us as we sat

talking. I don't know whether he
saw it, he was so far gone," John
added, looking at me and lowering his
voice. ' ' How soon do you want to
go out ? ' ' (in a louder and perfectly
business-like tone.) "I must see to
your new saddle girth first, but every-
thing'll be ready when you are."

" Perhaps the rest of you served all
the better, and that poor boy helped
to save his country after all," I said,

"'Twas this w r eather made me
think of him," John apologized ; " he
never was cut out for a military man,
poor old Peach-tree wa' n't. But he got
home, and there he lays somewhere up
country, in one o' those old, bushy
burying-grounds. ' '



Child of the burnished gold and brown of spring,
Before the showers the flowers of April bring,
Child of the pale and roseate hues of morn'
Before 'tis of its dew-steeped sweetness shorn,
Child, in whose sunny smile and prattle seems
A mystic sense of undiscovered dreams,
There is no holier sacrament than this —
My soul is chastened by thy stainless kiss.


EARLY every
President on en-
tering office for
the first term has
had an ambition
for the second.
This cannot now be Mr. Cleveland's
ambition, although it is queried by
many whether he is not looking to a
third term. Washington refused to
stand for it ; Jefferson, to whom it
was suggested, declined to give the
subject consideration, though he was
the autocrat of his party ; it is not
known that Jackson ever thought of
more than two terms, and Grant, with
his tremendous success and reputa-
tion, refused a nomination by his party
after he had filled the Presidential
office for eight years. With these
precedents before him it is an extrava-
gance to presume that Mr. Cleveland
contemplates what Washington and
Jefferson would not consider, what
Jackson never thought of, and what
Grant failed to attain. He must
know, too, that there is the greatest
repugnance on the part of the Ameri-
can people to a violation of the un-
written law proclaimed by the Father
of His Country. There is a strong
feeling also that no President should
be re-elected to succeed himself, and
Mr. Cleveland's is the first case of a
second election occurring after an in-
tervening term. To achieve the third
term is evidently not his ambition.

But he has an ambition of no ordi-
nary character. His successes have
been remarkable ; his advancement
was rapid without being the result of
any distinguished public service, and
without acquaintance with the people
or leading men, or knowledge of the
possibilities and wants of the country.

In his last nomination he was able to
override rings and machines within
his party, and to force elements to
his support which might have been
expected would have been recalcitrant.
It was proclaimed repeatedly, and
from one end of the nation to the
other that he was better and bigger
than his party, and because they be-
lieved him to be better than his party,
lie was supported by a contrariety of
elements. It was not on account of
the principles enunciated in the
platform on which he ran that he was
elected. Mr. Cleveland, by nature,
has a full measure of conceit, and cir-
cumstances have contributed to its
development. It would not be strange
if he considered himself a man of
destiny. He has firmness verging on
obstinacy, and whatever may be his
ambition he will pursue it with some
vigor and a good deal of pertinacity.
Jefferson founded the old Republi-
can party, and Jackson the Democratic.
The government of each was strongly
personal, and the party each created
was known and designated to a great
extent by their respective names. The
names of Jefferson and Jackson are
conspicuous in the long line of the
chief magistrates of the nation. Is it
Mr. Cleveland's ambition to found a
new party, that he may rank in his-
tory with the apostle of old Republi-
canism, and the apostle of Democracy ?
To mollify the feelings which had
been embittered in the contest which
ultimated in his success, Mr. Jefferson
in his first inaugural said, "We are
all Republicans and all Federalists."
He retained in office, and appointed to
office without much regard to past
party affiliations, but he was careful to
see that his policy should be sus-




tained. Jackson was more intent on
being supported than he was particu-
lar from what source the support
came. He reached the Presidency
through a fusion of various elements
and factions. There is evidence that
Mr. Cleveland intends to found a new
party, though perhaps not with a new
name. Mr. Tyler endeavored to cre-
ate a Tyler party, Mr. Fillmore, a
Fillmore party, and Andrew Johnson,
a Johnson party ; but each signally
failed. They were not great enough
to successfully accomplish it, nor were
the circumstances favorable. Giving
Judge Gresham the first place in the
cabinet, indicates that Mr. Cleveland
recognizes those who gave him elev-
enth hour support, and that he re-
gards a coalition with recalcitrant
Republicans as essential to his pur-
pose to have a personal administration.
As a rule, political coalitions turn out
badly ; few are of permanent value,
and those who form them usually suf-
fer. The coalition between the younger
Adams and Henry Clay in the end
was disastrous to both, since it de-
stroyed the political prospects of the
former, and had much to do in pre-
venting the latter from reaching the
goal of his ambition. Suspicion has
already been expressed that placing
Judge Gresham in the State Depart-
ment was in pursuance of an ante-
election understanding. He supported
Mr. Cleveland on a platform which
declared in favor of principles and pol-
icies, which he had opposed with
energy all his life. Democrats of life-
long service are justly aggrieved that
so great a reward has been bestowed
for the brief and silent support which-
Judge Gresham gave to their candi-
date. The Populists are suspicious
that through an understanding with
Mr. Cleveland, Judge Gresham re-
fused to become their candidate for
the Presidency. Thus antagonisms
are aroused on the part of Democrats
and Populists which must weaken
and embarrass, and the question is
whether Judge Gresham can draw
enough from the Republican party to

compensate for the defections from the
Democratic party that may take place ?
It is not known in our history under
ordinary conditions that any man has
been able to carry many with him
from one party to the other. Sumner,
Schurz, Trumbull, Fenton and many
other men of prominence and influence
in the Republican party bolted the
second nomination of General Grant,
but it had merely the effect of
securing his re-election by an in-
creased majority. Judge Gresham has
been willing and anxious ever since
1880, to accept the Republican nom-
ination for the Presidency, on any
platform that a national convention
might choose to adopt. A new party
can only be formed with success upon
some great and overshadowing issue ;
it cannot be done by a mere coalition
between leaders.

Mr. Cleveland may intend merely
to reform the Democratic party, and
that he sees the necessity for such re-
formation is to his credit. In such an
effort he will have the sympathy of the
good men of all parties. To make that
party better would improve the polit-
ical morals of the nation. But his
process will have the effect to weaken
it, and it may wreck his administra-
tion. Neither Republicans nor Popu-
lists will support him simply for the
reason that he would, in methods
make his party better. His measures
on financial, commercial and econom-
ical questions must be in accord with
their opinions. Ambition and natural
disposition strongly incline him to the
idea of a personal government, and so
confident is he in his strength that he
may overlook the important fact that
no administration can be successful
without the support of a strong party.
It cannot be otherwise in a govern-
ment of popular opinion. Since gen-
eral intelligence and individual inde-
pendence have so largely increased,
the difficulties in carrying out the one
man power have become greatly en-
hanced. To improve his party he pro-
poses to enforce upon it the civil ser-
vice reform ; a thing distasteful to,



and least in accord with Democratic
usages. If there is any one idea upon
which the Democratic party has been
absolutely consistent it is that ' ' to the
victors belong the spoils." It is a
doctrine that was born and bred of the
Democratic party. The spoils system
was never heard of until after 1828,
when the Democratic party first came
into power, and to deny crumbs from
the master's table, after having tarried
so long in the wilderness of exclusion
from office, is a grievance that will not
be complacently borne.

Mr. Cleveland cannot pose as the
founder, father, and apostle of civil
service reform. Non-partisan service
was in vogue from 1789 to 1829. Re-
movals for opinion's sake, except in
great offices were not practiced by the
first six presidents. Had it not been
for the practice established by Wash-
ington, it is possible that Jefferson
would have used the axe liberally, for
one of his utterances was that "few
die and none resign." The first step
taken towards introducing a reform of
the .service was at the suggestion of
President Grant, and by him the first
civil service commission was appointed.
Mr. Hayes enforced and enlarged the
system ; Mr. Arthur executed the
law with a fair degree of fidelity, and
President Harrison not only carried
out the law, but made important ap-
pointments from the opposition party.
To a considerable extent he allowed
incumbents of opposite politics to
serve out their terms. The proposition
of Mr. Cleveland to permit Republicans
in office to continue until their terms
expire is not new. That he approves
of it is to his credit. In all the States,
officers are chosen for fixed terms as a
rule, and there is no good reason why
the same principles should not pre-
vail under the National Government,
except as to Cabinet and Foreign
Ministers and perhaps to some other
high offices. But this will not satisfy
his party, for Democrats want the
offices now. It is not enough that
they may come at some future day, for
it is a case of deferred hope. When

Dr. Samuel Johnson had resolved on
making an English lexicon, he applied
to Lord Chesterfield for his patronage,
which the noble lord refused. When
the lexicon became a splendid success,
his lordship proffered his patronage.
Dr. Johnson replied that when his
patronage would have been useful it
was withheld, that now he could get
along without it, and concluded by
saying, " had it been early it had been
kind." So Democrats will feel when
they do get the offices. Whether Mr.
Cleveland will faithfully adhere to his
rule is not a certainty. The clamor is
likely to become so great that he may
be forced to relax it under the flimsy
pretense of " offensive partisanship, "
or some other of a kindred character.
It is heralded that Senators and Rep-
resentatives are not to have a monop-
oly in the dispensation of patronage
in their respective States and districts,
and that prominent men in the party,
and possibly the people in general are
to have a voice in the matter. The
domination of Senators and Represent-
atives has had the effect to give them
control of the active politicians and of
party machinery. It has been the in-
strument of the boss. Senators and
Representatives often perpetuated
themselves in office through the power
of patronage. At one time Senators
were patronage oligarchs. In the con-
flict between Andrew Johnson and
Congress the tenure-of-office act was
passed which prohibited removals
when the Senate was not in session.
It is said that the law could not have
been enacted without an agreement
that Republican Senators should have
control of appointments in their re-
spective States. There w r as always
great respect paid to a Senator by his
associates, which was designated sen-
atorial courtesy, but under the tenure-
of-office act, senatorial courtesy meant
that the washes of a Senator as to con-
formations should govern. President
Grant attempted to break it up, and
did succeed in procuring a modifica-
tion of the tenure-of-office act. The
President and Senate are co-ordinate in



the matter of rilling the principal
offices of the country. The President
nominates, and the Senate advises and
consents to the appointment. It has
the last say, and for that reason it has
larger power than the executive. The
power of the President in the distribu-
tion of patronage has at times been
unsparingly and unblushingly used to
influence legislation, but it can only be
so used when there is an obsequious Sen-
ate, and on the other hand the Senate
has used its power to coerce the Presi-
dent. If the former power of executives
is recovered by Mr. Cleveland, it will
be a great lever to be employed in
carrying out such ambitious plans as
he may have. Whether he will be
content to restore the equilibrium
remains to be seen. Senators how-
ever are not likely to yield their
power without a struggle, for they
are all more or less obligated to party
workers, and as official expectants are
not to be rewarded for favors already
received, it will blast many a Senator's
future prospects. Mr. Sumner refused
to recommend to an office where con-
firmation was necessary, because he
wished to come, to the consideration
of a case, uncommitted and unbiased.
Few Senators in the last forty years
have risen to the fairness and dignity
of his position. Should Mr. Cleveland
get the staff back into his own hands,
he can make effective use of it in in-
fluencing legislation, and in convinc-
ing those who are disposed to be
recalcitrant, that his policy and pur-
pose are wise. He can employ the power
of patronage patriotically or for ac-
complishing any scheme for personal
aggrandizement that he may have in
mind. Though Cato said the desire
for posthumous fame is a disease of a
depraved mind, still it is not out of the
line of ordinary human ambition to
aspire to high historical rank, such as
is derived from some unusual achieve-
ment, like that of creating or recon-
structing a party after one's own

One of the rules touching appoint-
ments to office which has been an-

nounced, is that office holders under
his previous term are not to obtain
places during the present. Evidently
it is a rule to which there are to be
exceptions ; there are no general
rules without them. There was a
breach of it at the outset and several
have since been committed. The re-
election of the President himself was
antagonistic to such a rule. It should
not have been made, for there is no
defense of it. Mr. Cleveland will not
pretend that the virtues of his pre-
vious administration were all due to
himself and his private secretary.
There were many officers who dis-
charged their duties well and to the
satisfaction of the public. There
were some bad and indifferent officers,
and those only should be debarred
from recognition. It is an effective
argument before the people for re-
election of a candidate that he has
served the public well. It was the
argument in behalf of Mr. Cleveland
himself, and no doubt L,amont was
promoted to the war portfolio because
he had been a good private secretary.
To reward for faithful work is Scrip-
tural, and to secure good public ser-
vice is the very essence of civil service
reform. That Mr. Whitney, Mr.
Fairchild, Mr. Bayard, Mr. Dickin-
son, and others who were former
office holders, exerted themselves for
his last nomination, created in Mr.
Cleveland's mind perhaps the childish
fear that it would be thought that he
was foisted upon his party and the
country by his former federal brigade.
There is a marked distinction between
those that are in and those that are
out — the former having the means to
coerce, while the latter can only
persuade. The rule will be more hon-
ored in its breach than in its observ-
ance, and the sooner it is annulled
altogether, the better will it be for all

Mr. Cleveland will not only be
troubled from disappointments in not
getting places soon enough, or not at
all, but he will encounter a difficulty
from the fact that there is a sentiment



extensively entertained, that when
the people have declared themselves
on an issue, it is but simple respect to
the popular will that the government
should be administered in general and
in detail, by those who in opinion
concur with the majority. It is a
strong sentiment with his party that
none but Democrats should be placed
on guard. It is proclaimed that polit-
ical work, however legitimate or ef-
fective, is not to be recognized as a
claim to a reward. If it is true that
such a position has been taken, it will
dampen the ardor of Democracy's
most earnest workers. There may be
men who have attained to such a
degree of human excellence that
they will exert themselves in behalf
of a cause the same as if they
had personal interests at stake ; but
ordinary man is so constituted that he
will work harder when his convictions
and interests go hand in hand. The
ancient philosophers incited to good
conduct on the theory that it was to
one's interest, and it was not till Chris-
tianity was introduced to the world
that disinterestedness was made the
rule of human action. Ethics so
perfect have not yet a controlling in-
fluence in American politics. It will
be some time before the mass of man-
kind will cease to believe that there
should not be compensation for meri-
torious work, and certainly Mr.
Cleveland cannot believe that labor
for the Democratic party is not meri-
torious, especially when he is its can-
didate. On a matter of principle or
policy, Democrats are accustomed to
be dragooned into support of any
position their party assumes, but on
the subject of patronage it will be
difficult to enforce a discipline that
requires self-abnegation.

Democrats have ever claimed that
measures are first and men afterwards,
and they have always boasted of the
fidelity with which their party redeems
its pledges to the country. The late
Chicago convention made a declara-
tion of principles upon which the
judgment of the country was chal-

lenged. It is presumed to be the
duty of the administration to carry
them into effect in letter and spirit.
There are a few men who jeer at
platforms, and say they were not
made to ride on. If the country
permits that idea to prevail, we shall
all be at sea without chart or compass.
The people will not know what they
are voting for, or against, nor what
policy is to be pursued. Beyond doubt
there are divergencies of views among
Democrats upon certain public ques-
tions, but a President elected on a

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 27 of 120)