W. J. (William J.) Scott.

Historic eras and Paragraphic pencilings online

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as to make them absorb the religious and the literary,
put in the scholarly style. May only good come to.
you, and constantly.

Somehow the things that seem fittest don't come to pass.
I have thought that the Nashville Christian Advocate, in


your care the last eight years, would have set things
forward in the connection. You are Wesleyan, with
the addition of the light of the century since Wesley
died. You think, and have thought clear, greater than
the average great things the papers have needed for the
people. You are broad without mockery for the narrow,
and religious without posing for its fame. I have often
thought, too, that many years ago I was wiser in urging
you to transfer to New Orleans, and do for Methodism
there what Dr. Palmer did for Presbyterianism, than
you were in declining. By now you would have had
us to the front there. Yet, who knows? Yours may
have been quite the wiser after all. And "the lines"
you have wrought in your lifework may be those whose
light shall shine farthest and best.

May God keep you to the end. It is after "the
end " that one's record is entered up and the true " well
done " pronounced. If I could bless you, old comrade,
I would pray our God comfort, heal, renew your life,
bless you for me. Yours truly,

We withhold the name, with the single statement
that it was a love-token from a minister and author of
much distinction. It is a model of letter writing.

Dr. H. V. M. Miller, who is perhaps the brainiest
man in half a dozen states, spent an hour with me a
few days ago. I was struck with one observation.
Said he, " Scott, you know that it is the extremist that
carries the day in a political contest." This single



remark opened the way to much talk about Cromwell
and his saints, who ejected the Presbyterians from the
long parliament. This quite naturally suggested the
stubborn fight between the Girondists and Jacobins
ending in the utter overthrow of the former. Next in
order, the contest between the conservatives and the
secessionists, winding up with the dismemberment of
the Union and a war between the states. Then the con
flict between President Johnson and the congressional
majority, as to the mode of reconstruction. Andrew
Johnson was near losing his official head, and Thad
Stevens and his gang were left masters of the situation.
" What bearing has this," said Miller, "on the pending
struggle between Livingston and Northen ? " I only
replied in the language of Father Ritchie, " Nous

" Liberty Hall " was properly named, for Mr. Steph
ens kept open house for all comers. On two occasions
I was a guest of the great commoner, and was accorded
the freedom of the old-style mansion. His hospitality
was not lavish, as measured by dinner courses or ser
vants in livery, but there was a gracious welcome and a
menu that was toothsome and abundant.

During my two visits I had an opportunity of study
ing the character of this great man when he was free
from conventional restraints, and in some sort en desha
bille. I could but notice that because of his delicate
organism he was exceedingly impressible by atmospheric
changes. He watched the mercury in his thermome-


ter with very great interest. He would frequently shift
his chair from one room to another, and from the veranda
to the hall. Let it not be inferred, however, that he
was in the least annoyed by hypochondriac fancies. On
the contrary, notwithstanding his physical weakness and
his frequent bodily sufferings, he was uniformly cheerful
and at times buoyant in spirits. His conversation, in
his lighter moods, was seasoned with genuine attic salt,
and enlivened with incidents oftentimes exquisitely

On one occasion, I asked him to give me his impres
sions of some of the foremost of his congressional asso
ciates of ante-bellum days. I can recall but a few of
these graphic word portraits. He regarded Thad Stev
ens as a man of massive brain with a lack of literary
culture, and a dash of coarseness in his composition.
He thought his political integrity was unimpeachable,
but his anti-slavery sentiments sometimes amounted to
a political craze. Billy Allen, of Ohio, had a similar
moral and mental make-up, except that Allen was a
Democrat of the Jacksonian type. Tom Corwin, of the
same state, he thought, had few equals in a rough-and-
tumble debate, whether on the floor of Congress or on
the hustings. Henry Clay, as might be supposed, was
his ideal of a statesman. Webster, he esteemed as the
greater constitutional lawyer, but inferior to Calhoun in
philosophical range of intellect. Seward, of New York,
he considered one of the cleverest thinkers and readiest
debaters of the United States Senate. His friend


Toombs, however, he regarded as easily first as a sena
torial speaker when he had a great theme and a momen
tous occasion.

I remember nothing in my personal experience equal
in interest to these off-hand sketches in this simple con
versation of the sage of Liberty Hall. Amongst other
anecdotes which he related, there was ore that will bear
repetition. He was engaged in a very important trial
in Greene Superior Court. After the case had been
argued and the jury had retired, he accepted the invita
tion of a wealthy Whig planter to spend the night with
him at his country residence, some five miles from the
village. Just at sunset the planter drove up to Mr.
Stephens's hotel with a spanking team of blooded horses.
Mr. Stephens took his seat, and his friend, with a word
to his horses and a tap on the withers of the leader,
started at a 2 : 40 pace. They had gone but a short
distance when Mr. Stephens became a little nervous,
and demurred at such a rate of speed. His friend said
to him, " Aleck, I always suffer you to do my thinking
in politics, but when it comes to driving horses I pro
pose to do my own thinking." Mr. Stephens says he
saw that remonstrance was fruitless and accordingly
accepted the situation. Of course everything went well,
and in due time he was safely seated at the hospitable
board of the planter. My last interview with Mr.
Stephens was at the residence of Dr. Setze, of Marietta,
Ga He was then on his crutches, but had lost none of
his mental vivacity nor his relish for an occasional pota
tion of "pure Jeffersonian Democracy," nor his liking


for a game of whist, which almost invariably followed
his evening cup of tea.

Hundreds of people have heard of Edmund Burke's
great speech on the trial of Warren Hastings. It was
only eclipsed by Sheridan's thrilling effort, which pro
duced such a sensation in the house that a motion to
adjourn was unanimously carried, because that body
was in no mood to transact business. A lesser number
have likewise read Burke's brilliant essay on the " Sub
lime and Beautiful," one of the masterpieces of English
belles letters. Not a few have read of his sparkling bon
mots, at the Turk's Head, where he was esteemed the
best talker in a club that numbered Johnson and Garrick
and Goldsmith and lesser lights among its members.

But how many know of a fact that Thackeray has
recorded that going home from the club one night Burke
was Accosted by a fallen woman, and was so moved by
her tears, that he carried her to the house of his own
wife and children, and kept her there until he could
place her where she was restored to virtue and industry.
This was a greater honor to the illustrious statesman
than his greatest forensic efforts or his noble letter to
his Bristol constituents. And then how Christly the
conduct of that London grocer, of whom Spurgeon tells
us. This good Samaritan devoted his money largely to
the rescuing of this unfortunate class. At the door of
his business place he posted this invitation : "If there
be any unfortunate sister who is without a home, and
desires to do better, let her apply within." It was


estimated that 1 50 of the Magdalens of the great metrop
olis were reclaimed from a life of shame and wretched
ness by his efforts. Individual charity of this kind is
good to lead the way in this and similar enterprises, but
it is simply preparatory to organized effort, which, rightly
conducted, will accomplish grand results.

Atlanta needs a " home " for this class, and the time
is ripe for its establishment. Let it be inaugurated
under proper auspices and its success is assured. In
this way, and in no other, we may extract -the sting of
Tom Hood's reproach, which applies to every city of
50,000 inhabitants, that has made no such provision :

" O, it was pitiful,
Near a whole city full,
Home she had none."

The shooting of Chief, the crazy elephant, was a
monstrous cruelty. Where, we might ask, were the
Humane Societies that funeralize a dead ass, and sit up
of nights with a sick monkey, when this murder was
perpetrated, without an indignant protest? If there be
a Heaven, as John Wesley more than hinted, for birds
and beasts, then surely this emperor of quadrupeds
must have already reached some tropical region in that
undiscovered country where he trumpets and tramps
through broad and fertile savannas without fear of pit
falls and other snares for his capture and enslavement.

Almost simultaneously with the death of Chief, was
the assassination of Sitting Bull, the Sioux warrior.
Was this redskin savage less a hero than the British


Caractacus or the German Orgetorix? Was not his
patriotism as pure as that of Horatius, who kept the
bridge, or Leonidas, who held the pass with his 300
Spartans ?

But Sitting Bull has departed under the constraint of a
well aimed pistol shot to the "happy hunting grounds, "
whither Osceola, Tecumseh, Red Jacket and other
Indian braves long ago preceded him. In those virgin
forests, untroddenby the foot of the paleface, undisturbed
by the ring of the pioneer's ax, he may even now be
chasing the bison and the deer, without dread of military
molestation. Tell us, if you will, that "the hunter
and the deer are both a shade." Far better this delu
sive dream than the hopelessness of the Atheist's creed.


in my boyhood, I contributed occasional verses to
the Georgia press. My old-time friends, W. T.
Thompson and C. R. Hanleiter, detected a bud of
promise in these juvenile effusions. For their kindly
recognition I was then and am still profoundly grateful.

At a later period, when a young lawyer, I was struck
with the saying of Sir William Blackstone, that the law
was a "jealous mistress." Realizing that I had no
special skill "to build the lofty rhyme," like the great
commentator, I, too, wrote " A Farewell to the Muse."
From that date, nearly fifty years ago, I did not
attempt poetry. During the recent holidays, however,


I felt afresh my boyish impulse. Weather-bound,
and almost bed-ridden, I scribbled on scraps of paper
the following lines, which have much of the sadness
and but little of the sweetness of the fabled song of the
" Dying Swan : ''


" To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." Words
spoken on the cross.

Lord ! I am weary with the stress

Of three-score years and more,
Whose blinding storms and beating waves

Have left me stranded on the shore.

Across the stretch of years already trod
Ofttimes I've felt the pressure of Thy hand,

Nor will I doubt, in darkest mood,
Thou yet wil't bring me to the better laud.

Along that lonely pilgrim way there lie
The wrecks of blighted hopes and vanished joys,

O'er these I breathe an un regretful sigh
These meaner things that chance or change destroys.

But life has loftier aims than these beside,
Like far-off stars that neither wax nor wane

With rolling years, but evermore abide,
As magian fires in some high Persian fane.

Wherefore, Oh Christ, I kiss the rod
Which smites me downward to the dust;

Such strokes shall lure me closer to my God,
And bind me stronger to my steadfast trust.

Beyond the utmost sweep of life's tempestuous main
He hath prepared a restful place for me,

Where severed friends shall meet again
In joyauiice and in harmony.

O'er that sun-bright Beulah lea

No darkening storm will ever rise ;
For aye and aye I shall with Thee

Be safe at home in Paradise.





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Online LibraryW. J. (William J.) ScottHistoric eras and Paragraphic pencilings → online text (page 14 of 14)