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LIBRARY ,

OF THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Class



THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS



THE VALLEY OF
SHADOWS

RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LINCOLN
COUNTRY 1858-1863

BY

FRANCIS GRIERSON




BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
ftitieritie press Cambridge
1909



COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY



PREFACE

THIS book is not a novel, but the recollections of
scenes and episodes of my early life in Illinois and
Missouri, the writing of which has been a labour of
love. A cosmopolitan life in the different capitals of
Europe during a period of forty years has not sufficed
to alienate the romance and memory of those wonderful
times.

In looking back I have come to the conclusion that
the power displayed by the most influential preachers
and politicians of the ante-bellum days in Illinois was
a power emanating from the spiritual side of life, and
I have done my best to depict the " silences " that
belonged to the prairies, for out of those silences came
the voices of preacher and prophet and a host of
workers and heroes in the great War of Secession.

In 1863 President Lincoln issued his famous pro-
clamation for the emancipation of the slaves, and with
it the old order passed away never to return. Indeed,
the social upheaval of that year was greater than that
produced by the Declaration of Independence in 1776,
and no matter what happens now, the old political and
social conditions can never be revived. Not only have
the people changed, but the whole face of the nation
has changed the prairies are gone, and luxurious



vi PREFACE

homes are to be found in the places where log-houses,
primitive woods, and wild flowers were the only
prominent features of the landscape for many miles
together.

I have recorded my impressions of the passing of
the old democracy and the old social system in the
United States, and, curiously enough, I witnessed
again in 1869-70, while residing in Paris, the passing
of another social order that of Napoleon and the
Empire, the recollections of which I shall leave for a
future volume.

F. G.

MILL HOUSE,
EADCLIVE,

BUCKINGHAM.

January, 1909.



PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN
EDITION

ON presenting to the American public this vivid record
of a remarkable epoch in our history, the publishers have
thought that some account of the author might not be out
of place. Indeed the recollections contained in the follow-
ing pages, interesting as they are in themselves, take, from
the unusual and romantic career of the writer, an added
import and significance.

Francis Grierson was born in Cheshire, England, Septem-
ber 18, 1848, and his parents emigrated to Illinois in March,
1849, to join relatives already settled in that state. He is a
cousin of General B. H. Grierson, and a direct descendant
of Robert Grierson, the "Redgauntlet" of Scott's famous
novel. His father became an American citizen, helped to
elect Lincoln, and returned to England in 1871. The boy,
who early developed a remarkable musical gift, preceded his
father in his return, was introduced to the social and artistic
world of Paris in the late sixties by Alexandre Dumas, the
author of " Monte Cristo," and soon became acquainted with
the social, artistic, and political leaders of the times. With-
out money, without letters of introduction, without aid
from any one, he became the musical celebrity of the day.
Up to this time Chopin had been regarded as the last word
in the domain of musical inspiration and the magical art of

225236



vi PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION

improvisation. The new prodigy evoked not only the char-
acteristics of past musical epochs, but the musical soul of
ancient Egypt, Assyria, Palestine, and Greece. He would
pass from a suave melody of the Italian school, or from a
symphonic movement of the German, to a languid melody
of the East, the pomp or melancholy of Nineveh or Babylon.
And it is said that at certain wonderful moments, he could
add the strangest, most inexplicable voice, that did not fol-
low the music but went along with it, almost independent of
it, rising up from out the middle chords of the piano, faintly
at first, and at last filling the room with indescribable and
thrilling tones. The sensations produced were all the more
profound because the playing was so spontaneous on the
part of the performer. Improvisation was the real key to
the power. The performer himself never knew what would
or could be done. The music came with the charm of some-
thing unlocked for, and absolutely new.

Such gifts were never intended for the public, and Mr.
Grierson restricted his performances to the mansions of cul-
tured people and the salons of musical leaders. Yet he made
some exceptions, consenting once in a while to sing in some
great church or cathedral. He sang by special invitation in
Saint-Eustache and in the great Basilica of Montmartre,
in Paris, and was urged by Leon Gastinelle, the composer
of sacred music, to sing the principal solos in his new mass
to be given in Notre Dame, with full orchestra and chorus,
at the fete of the Annunciation on the 25th of March, 1870.
From Paris he went to London, where he met with a repe-
tition of his Paris triumphs. When the season closed he
accepted an invitation to visit Baden, then the leading



PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION vii

gambling centre of Europe, and the most fashionable of all
watering places. The Bishop of Baden warmly pressed him
to sing in the Cathedral at High Mass. Here he achieved an
unheard-of triumph ; he sang and played the great organ
at the same time. In St. Petersburg the young artist passed
some time as a guest at the Imperial Palace of Gatschina.
After remaining one year in Russia, he returned to Paris,
after which he again visited London. He then went to
Berlin, where his success surpassed that of any virtuoso
who had appeared in the German capital, and from Berlin
he was invited by King Albert of Saxony, the soldier-
musician, to dedicate the Queen's new music-room in the
Strelitz Palace.

But his most striking success was achieved during his
farewell visit to Paris, when the effect produced on the
minds of those who heard him at that time surpassed any-
thing ever experienced in the French capital. Lectures
were given to explain, from a theosophical point of view,
how one person, ignorant of the science of music, and with-
out musical instruction, could produce such a variety of
musical styles, startling effects, unheard-of combinations
of tone and harmony. Sully Prudhomme declared that he
could not find words in the French dictionary to express
the sentiments awakened in him by such a marvellous
performance, and Stephane Mallarme declared that here
was a prodigy who did with musical sounds, combinations,
and melodies what Poe did with the rhythm of words, and
that a for the first time in the history of music we now
have the real poet of the piano."

Mr. Grierson gave up music in the midst of his greatest



viii PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION

triumphs " to get down," as he said, " to serious work." He
had been waiting patiently for the time to come when he
could give up amusing the world and begin to write some
of the sentiments, opinions, judgments which he had long
been hoarding up in silence. His musical career had been
but a schooling for the art of writing. It had been, indeed, as
Alexandre Dumas had hinted, a sort of magical power, not
only for the opening of doors in the social world, but the
opening of the doors of knowledge, the doors of fact as
opposed to illusion, reality as opposed to dreams and theo-
ries. He decided to make the long-contemplated plunge
into the sea of literature. He chose Paris for the experi-
ment, and French as the medium for his thought. The
volume was composed of critical essays, and after its ap-
pearance its author was hailed by academicians and criti-
cal writers as a prose writer of the first order.

Mr. Grierson's two volumes of essays in English
"Modern Mysticism" and "The Celtic Temperament,"
issued from Ruskin House brought him immediate re-
cognition, not only as an original stylist but as a thinker
of the school of Maeterlinck. The present volume, a ven-
ture in a new field, will, it is hoped, win him many new
friends among American readers.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PACK

PROEM 1

I. THE MEETING-HOUSE 5

II. THE LOAD-BEARER 20

III. THE LOG-HOUSE 32

IV. SOCRATES GIVES ADVICE 41

v. SILAS JORDAN'S ILLNESS 53

VI. THE CABIN OF SOCRATES 60

VII. AT THE POST-OFFICE .... 78

VIII. MY VISIT TO THE LOAD-BEARER's HOME .... 85

IX. A NIGHT OF MYSTERY 99

X. SOWING AND REAPING 107

XI. THE FLIGHT 118

XII. THE CAMP-MEETING 134

XIII. THE PIONEER OF THE SANGAMON COUNTRY . . . 154

XIV. THE REGULATORS 170

XV. ALTON AND THE MISSISSIPPI 187

XVI. ABRAHAM LINCOLN 195

XVII. ST. LOUIS : SOCIETY AND THE CHURCHES .... 202

XVIII. THE GREAT FAIR 212

xix. THE PLANTERS' HOUSE 215

XX. THE TORCH-LIGHT PROCESSION . . 222



'2 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

and courage; but the evening brought back the old
silences, with the old, unsolved questionings, strange
presentiments, premonitions, sudden alarms. Yet
over and around all a kind of sub-conscious humour
welled up, which kept the mind hopeful while the
heart was weary. Dressed in butter-nut jeans, and
swinging idly on a gate, many a youth of the time
might have been pointed out as a likely senator, poet,
general, ambassador, or even president. Never was
there more romance in a new country. A great
change was coming over the people of the West.
They retained all the best characteristics of the
Puritans and the settlers of Maryland and Virginia,
with something strangely original and characteristic
of the time and place, something biblical applied to
the circumstances of the hour.

Swiftly and silently came the mighty influences.
Thousands laboured on in silence ; thousands were
acting under an imperative, spiritual impulse without
knowing it ; the whole country round about Spring-
field was being illuminated by the genius of one man,
whose influence penetrated all hearts, creeds, parties,
and institutions.

People were attracted to this region from Kentucky,
Missouri, Indiana, the shores of the Ohio, the British
Isles, France, and Germany. Other States had their
special attractions : Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri
contained hills and forests, appealing to the eye by a
large and generous variation of landscape ; Iowa and
Kansas sloped upward toward the West, giving to the
mind an ever-increasing sense of hope and power.
To many, Illinois seemed the last and the least because
the most level. Only a poet could feel the charm of



PKOEM 8

her prairies, only a far-seeing statesman could predict
her future greatness.

The prairie was a region of expectant watchfulness,
and life a perpetual contrast of work and idleness,
hope, and misgiving. Across its bosom came the
covered wagons with their human freight, arriving
or departing like ships between the shores of strange,
mysterious worlds.

The early Jesuit missionaries often spoke of the
Illinois prairie as a sea of grass and flowers. A breeze
springs up from the shores of old Kentucky, or from
across the Mississippi and the plains of Kansas,
gathering force as the hours steal on, gradually
changing the aspect of Nature by an undulating
motion of the grass, until the breeze has become a
gale, and behold the prairie a rolling sea ! The
pennant-like blades dip before the storm in low,
rushing billows as of myriads of green birds skim-
ming the surface. The grassy blades bend to the
rhythm of Nature's music, and when clouds begin
to fleck the far horizon with dim, shifting vapours,
shadows as of long grey wings, swoop down over the
prairie, while here and there immense fleeting veils
rise and fall and sweep on towards the sky-line in
a vague world of mystery and illusion.

The prairies possessed a charm created by beauty
instead of awe ; for besides the countless wild flowers,
they had rivers, creeks, lakes, groves, and wooded
strips of country bordering the larger streams.

Everywhere, even in the most desolate places, at all
times and seasons, signs of life were manifest in the
traces, flights, and sounds of animals and birds. Over
the snow, when all seemed obliterated, appeared the

B 2



4 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

track of the mink, fox, and chick-a-dee, while during
the greater part of the year the grass, woods, and air
were alive with winged creatures that came and went
in a perpetual chorus of audible or inaudible song.

The prairie was an inspiration, the humble settlers
an ever-increasing revelation of human patience and
progress. There was a charm in their mode of living,
and real romance in all the incidents and events of
that wonderful time.



CHAPTEE I

THE MEETING-HOUSE

ALL through the winter the meeting-house on Saul's
Prairie had stood deserted and dormant, its windows
rattling in the bleak winds, perhaps longing for the
coming revivals and the living, vital sympathy of
beings " clothed in garments divine " ; but now, how
different it looked on this wonderful Sunday morning,
with its door and windows wide open, the flowers in
bloom, and the birds perched on the tallest weeds
pouring forth their song ! The fleckless sky, and soft,
genial atmosphere had made of the desolate little
meeting-house and its surroundings a place that
resembled a second Garden of Eden.

How calm and beautiful was the face of Nature !
The prairie here in Illinois, in the heart of Lincoln's
country, had a spirit of its own, unlike that of the
forest, and I had come to look upon the meeting-
house as a place possessing a sort of soul, a per-
sonality which made it stand out in my imagination as
being unique among all the meeting-houses I had ever
seen. It must, I thought, feel the states of the
weather and the moods of the people.

The settlers made their way to meeting in wagons,
on horseback and on foot ; and for nearly an hour
people straggled in. They came in family groups,
and a moment of excitement would be followed by a
period of impatient waiting. They came from the



6 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

west, where a faint column of smoke rose in a zig-
zag in the warm, limpid atmosphere ; from the north,
where houses and cabins were hidden in groves or in
hollows ; from the south, where a forest of old oaks
and elms bordered the horizon with a belt of dark
green ; and from the east, where the rolling prairie
spread beyond the limits of vision, a far-reaching vista
of grass and flowers.

I had arrived early on my pony. Our neighbours
would be here, and I should see some of them for the
first time.

Silas Jordan and his wife, Kezia, were among the
first to arrive. He, small, thin, and shrivelled, with
wiry hair and restless nerves, had a face resembling a
spider's web ; cross-bars of crow's feet encircled two
small, ferret-like eyes, sunk deep in their sockets, out
of which he peered with eager suspicion at the
moving phenomena of the world. She, with that
deep glow that belongs to the dusk of certain days in
autumn, had jet-black hair, smoothed down till it
covered the tops of her ears ; her neck rose in a
column from between two drooping shoulders, and her
great languid eyes looked out on the world and the
people like stars from a saffron sunset. Dark and
dreamy, she seemed a living emblem of the tall, dark
flowers and the willows that bordered the winding
rivers and creeks of the prairies.

Then came the Busby s on a horse that " carried
double," Serena Busby wearing a new pink calico
dress and sun-bonnet, the colour clashing with her
reddish hair and freckled face.

When these had settled in their seats there came
one of those half-unearthly spells of silence and



THE MEETING-HOUSE 7

waiting not unlike those moments at a funeral just
before the mourners and the minister make their
appearance.

I had taken a seat inside for a while, but I slipped
out again just in time to see a man come loping along
on a small, shaggy horse, man and animal looking as
if they had both grown up on the prairie together.
It was Zack Caverly, nicknamed Socrates. Zack
was indeed a Socrates of the prairie as well in looks
as in speech, and the person who first called him after
the immortal sage had one of those flashes of inspi-
ration that come now and then to the scholar whose
cosmopolitan experience permits him to judge men by
a single phrase or a gesture. He tied his horse to a
hitching-post, then stood at the door waiting to see
what new faces would appear at the meeting. Here
he met his old acquaintance Silas Jordan.

The talk soon turned to personalities.

" Have ye heerd who them folks is down yander in
the Log-House ? " began Silas, alluding to the new
home of my parents.

"They air from the old kintry," Socrates answered,
his round eyes blinking in a manner not to be de-
scribed.

" Kinder stuck up for these diggings, I'm thinkinV

" I 'low they ain't like us folks," was the careless
response. " They hed a heap o' hired help whar they
come from."

" The Squar tole me hisself what kyounties he hez
lived in sence he come from the old kintry. He hez
lived in two kyounties in Missouri en in four kyounties
in Illinois, and now I reckon it's root hog or die ez fur
ez these diggins goes. It's his second trial on prairie



8 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

land. He 'lows it'll be the last if things don't plough
up jest ez he's sot his mind te havin' 'em. He's
a-layin' in with the Abolitionists, and he voted oncet
fer Abe Lincoln, en he sez he air ready te do it
ag'in."

Socrates looked down the road, and exclaimed :

" Bless my stars ! if thar ain't Elihu Gest ! He's
got a stranger with him."

When Elihu Gest hitched his horse to the fence
Socrates greeted him :

" Howdy, howdy, Brother Gest. I war wonderin'
what hed become o' ye. Ain't seen ye in a coon's
age."

Elihu Gest was known as the " Load-Bearer." He
had earned this nickname by his constant efforts to
assume other people's mental and spiritual burdens.
The stranger he brought with him was the preacher.

" I war jes' wonderin' ez I come along," said the
Load-Bearer, " what the Know-nothin's en sech like
air a-goin' te do, seein' ez how Lincoln en Douglas air
dividin' the hull yearth a-twixt 'em."

" Providence created the Know-nothin's te fill
up the chinks," answered Zack Caverly, " en ye
know it don't noways matter what ye fill 'em up
with."

" I 'low the chinks hez to be filled up somehow,"
replied the Load-Bearer, " en a log-cabin air a mighty
good place te live in when a man's too pore te live in
a frame house."

" Thet's it ; them thar politicioners like Abe Lincoln
en Steve Douglas hev quit livin' in log-cabins, en
thar ain't no chinks fer the Know-nothin' party te fill,"
said Socrates.



THE MEETING-HOUSE 9

He had taken out a big jack-knife and was whittling
a stick.

" 'Pears like thar's allers three kyinds o' every-
thing thar war the Whigs, the Demicrats, en the
Know-nothin's, en thar air three kyinds o' folks all
over this here kintry the Methodists, the Hard-
shells, en them thet's saft at feedin'-time, plumb open
fer vittles en dead shet agin religion. Ez I war ex-
plainin' te Squar Briggs t'other day, in the heavings
thar air the sun, the moon, en the stars ; thet air three
kyinds agin. En whar hev ye ever see a kivered
wagin 'thout hosses, creatur's, en yaller dogs ? The
yaller dogs air steppin'-stones te the hosses, the hosses
comin' in right betwixt the varmints en human bein's,
which the Scriptur' sez air jest a leetle below the
angels. But ye'd never guess 'thout a heap o' cute
thinkin' thet a yaller dog could make hisself so kinder
useful like ez wal ez pertickler. Ez fer folks gen'ly,
thar air three kyinds Yankees, niggers, en white
people/'

" Ye don't calc'late te reckon niggers ez folks ! "
ejaculated Silas Jordan.

" They air folks jes like we air," said the Load-
Bearer, " en they hev souls te save. They air bein'
called on, but somehow the slave-owners ain't got no
ears fer the call."

" Wal," chimed in Socrates, "I ain't agin th ?
Abolitionists, en up te now I ain't tuck much int'rest
in the argimints fer en ag'inst. I ain't called on fer te
jedge noways." He looked about him and continued :
" They air talkin' 'bout freein' the niggers, but some o 7
these here settlers ain't got spunk 'nough te choose
thar partner fer a dance, ner ile 'nough in thar j'ints te



10 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

bow in a ladies' chain. Mebbe arter all the niggers
air a sight better off 'n we uns air. They ain't got
no stakes in the grounV

At this point there was a shuffling of feet and
spitting. Then his thoughts turned to the past.

" Afore Buchanan's election I hed all the fiddlin' I
could do, but when Pete Cartwright come along he
skeered 'em, en when the Baptists come they doused
'em in p'isen cold water, en now folks air predictin' the
end o' the world by this here comet.* I'll be doggoned
if I've drawed the bow oncet sence folks got skeered
plumb te thar marrer-bones ! T'other night when I
heerd sunthin' snap I warn't thinkin' o' the fiddle, en
when I tuck it down the nex' day jes' te fondle it a
leetle fer ole times' sake I see it war the leadin' string ;
en good, lastin' catgut air skase ez crowin' hens in
these 'ere parts."

Silas Jordan, returning to the subject of my parents,
remarked :

" I reckon them Britishers at the Log-House '11
hev te roll up en wade in if they want te git on in
this here deestric'."

Just then the talk was interrupted by the appearance
of the persons in question, and the crowd at the door
stared in silence as they walked in. When Silas
recovered his wits he continued his remarks :

" She's got on a store bunnit en he's got on a b'iled
shirt." To which Socrates replied, without evincing
the least surprise :

" Tallest man I've seed in these parts 'cept Abe
Lincoln."

* Donati's great comet.



THE MEETING-HOUSE 11

There was a pause, during which the two men gazed
through the open door at the tall man who had passed
in and taken a seat.

There was something strangely foreign and remote
in the impression my parents produced at the meeting.
My mother wore a black silk gown and a black bonnet
with a veil; the tall, straight figure of my father
appeared still taller with his long frock coat and high
collar, and his serious face and Eoman nose gave him
something of a patriarchal look, although he was still
in the prime of life. The arrival of the family from
the Log-House caused a flutter of curiosity, but when
it was seen that the new-comers were devout wor-
shippers the congregation began to settle down to a
spirit of religious repose.

It was a heterogeneous gathering : humorists who
were unconscious of their humour, mystics who did not
understand their strange, far-reaching power, senti-
mental dreamers who did their best to live down their
emotions, old-timers and cosmopolitans with a marvel-
lous admixture of sense and sentiment, political pro-
phets who could foresee events by a sudden, illu-
minating flash and foretell them in a sudden, pithy
sentence. It was a wonderful people, living in a
second Canaan, in an age of social change and upheaval,
in a period of political and phenomenal wonders.

A vague longing filled the hearts of the worshippers.
With the doubts and misgivings of the present, there
was a feeling that to-morrow would bring the realisa-
tion of all the yearnings and promises, and when the
preacher rose and announced that wistful old hymn :

" In the Christian's home in glory
There remains a land of rest,"



12 THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

an instant change was produced in the faces of the
people. Silas Jordan led the singing in a high, shrill
voice which descended on the meeting like a cold blast
through a broken window, but Uriah Busby, always
on the look-out for squalls, neutralised the rasping
sounds by his full, melodious waves. His voice gave
forth an unctuous security, not unmixed with a good
part of Christian gallantry. In it there was some-
thing hearty and fraternal ; it leavened conditions and
persons, and made the strangers feel at home.

If Uriah Busby's singing gave substance to the
meeting, that of Kezia Jordan gave expression to its
soul. In the second line her voice rose and fell like a
wave from the infinite depths, with something almost
unearthly in its tones, that seemed to bring forth the
yearnings of dead generations and the unfulfilled
desires of her pioneer parents.

A voice had been heard from behind the thin veil
that separates the two worlds.

My mother felt somewhat timid among so many
strangers. As she looked down at the hymn-book in


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