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that it was a marvel how they missed. The moment had come for me to interpose. I went in among the parties and offered my mediation; but nothing could be done. Mr. Clay said, with that wave of the hand with which he was accustomed to put away a trifle, This is child's play! and required another fire. Mr. Randolph also demanded another fire. The seconds were directed to reload. While this was doing I prevailed on Mr. Randolph to walk away from his post, and renewed to him, more pressingly than ever, my importunities to yield to some accommodation; but I found him more determined than I had ever seen him, and for the first time impatient, and seemingly annoyed and dissatisfied at what I was doing. He was indeed annoyed and dissatisfied. The accidental fire of his pistol preyed upon his feelings. He was doubly chagrined at it, both as a circumstance susceptible in itself of an unfair interpretation, and as having been the immediate and controlling cause of his firing at Mr. Clay. He regretted this fire the instant it was over. He felt that it had subjected him to imputations from which he knew himself to be free-a desire to kill Mr. Clay, and a contempt for the laws of his beloved State; and the annoyances which he felt at these vexatious circumstances revived his original determination, and decided him irrevocably to carry it out.
It was in this interval that he told me what he had heard since we parted, and to which he alluded when he spoke to me from the window of the carriage. It was to this effect: That he had been informed by Col. Tatnall that it was proposed to give out the words with more deliberateness, so as to prolong the time for taking aim. This information grated harshly upon his feelings. It unsettled his purpose, and brought his mind to the inquiry (as he now told me, and as I found it expressed in the note which he had immediately written in pencil to apprise me of his possible change), whether, under these circumstances, he might not "disable" his adversary? This note is so characteristic, and such an essential part of this affair, that I here give its very words, so far as relates to this point. It ran thus:
"Information received from Col. Tatnall since I got into the carriage may induce me to change my mind, of not returning Mr. Clay's fire. I seek not his death. I would not have his blood upon my hands—it will not be upon my soul if shed in self-defence—for the world. He has determined, by the use of a long, preparatory caution by words, to get time to kill me. May I not, then, disable him? Yes, if I please."
It has been seen, by the statement of Gen. Jesup, already given, that this “information” was a misapprehension; that Mr. Clay had not applied for a prolongation of time for the purpose of getting sure aim, but only to enable his unused hand, long unfamiliar with the pistol, to fire within the limited time; that there was no prolongation, in fact, either granted or insisted upon; but he was in doubt, and General Jesup having won the word, he was having him repeat it in the way he was to give it out, when his finger touched the hair-trigger. How unfortunate that I did not know of this in time to speak to General Jesup, when one word from him would have set all right, and saved the imminent risks incurred! This inquiry, “May I not disable him? ” was still on Mr. Randolph's mind, and dependent for its solution on the rising incidents of the moment, when the accidental fire of his pistol gave the turn to his feelings which solved the doubt. But he declared to me that he had not aimed at the life of Mr. Clay; that he did not level as high as the knees—not higher than the knee-band; "for it was no mercy to shoot a man in the knee;" that his only object was to disable him and spoil his aim. And then added, with a beauty of expression and a depth of feeling which no studied oratory can ever attain, and which I shall never forget, these impressive words : I would not have seen him fall mortally, or even doubtfully, wounded, for all the land that is watered by the King of Floods and all his tributary streams. He left me to resume his post, utterly refusing to explain out of the Senate any thing that he had said in it, and with the positive declaration that he would not return the next fire. I withdrew a little way into the woods, and kept my eyes fixed on Mr. Randolph, who I then knew to be the only one in danger. I saw him receive the fire of Mr. Clay, saw the gravel knocked up in the same place, saw Mr. Randolph raise his pistol—discharge it in the air; heard him say, I do not fire at you, Mr. Clay; and immediately advancing and offering his hand. He was met in the same spirit. They met half way, shook hands, Mr. Randolph saying, jocosely, You owe me a coat, Mr. Clay—(the bullet had passed through the skirt of the coat, very near the hip)—to which Mr. Clay promptly and happily replied, I am glad the debt is no greater. I had come up, and was prompt to proclaim what I had been obliged to keep secret for eight days. The joy of all was extreme at this happy termination of a most critical affair; and we immediately left, with lighter hearts than we brought. I stopped to sup with Mr. Randolph and his friends--none of us wanted dinner that day-and had a characteristic time of it. A runner came in from the bank to say that they had overpaid him, by mistake, $130 that day. He answered, I believe it is your rule not to correct mistakes, except at the time, and at your counter. And with that answer the runner had to return. When gone, Mr. Randolph said, I will pay it on Monday: people must be honest, if banks are not. He asked for the sealed paper he had given me, opened it, took out check for $1,000, drawn in my favor, and with which I was requested to have him carried, if killed, to Virginia, and buried under his patrimonial oaks-not let him be buried at Washington, with a hundred hacks after him. He took the gold from his left breeches pocket, and said to us (Hamilton, Tatrall, and I), “Gentlemen, Clay's bad shooting shan't rob you of your seals. I am going to London, and will have them made for you ;" which he did, and most characteristically, so far as mine was concerned. He went to the herald's office in London and inquired for the Benton family, of which I had often told him there was none, as we only dated on that side from my grandfather in North Carolina. But the name was found, and with it a coat of arms-among the quarterings a lion rampant. That is the family, said he; and bad the arms engraved on the seal, the same which I have since habitually worn; and added the motto, Factis non verbis : of which he was afterwards accustomed to say the non should be changed into et. But, enough. I run into these details, not merely to relate an event, but to show character; and if I have not done it, it is not for want of material, but of ability to use it.
On Monday the parties exchanged cards, and social relations were formally and courteously restored. It was about the last high-toned duel that I have witnessed, and among the highest-toned that I have ever witnessed, and so happily conducted to a fortunate issue—a result due to the noble character of the seconds as well as to the generous and heroic spirit of the principals. Certainly duelling is bad, and has been put down, but not quite so bad as its substitute-revolvers, bowie-knives, blackguarding, and street-assassinations under the pretext of self-defence.
FALL OF THE ALAMO.
(In Benton's Speech on Texas Independence. U.S. Senate. 1836.–From the Same.]
TNHAPPY day, for ever to be deplored, that Sunday morning,
March 6, 1836, when the undaunted garrison of the Alamo, victorious in so many assaults over twenty times their number, perished to the last man by the hands of those, part of whom they had released on parole two months before, leaving not one to tell how they first dealt out to multitudes that death which they themselves finally received. Unhappy day, that Palm Sunday, March 27, when the five hundred and twelve prisoners at Goliad, issuing from the sally-port at dawn of day, one by one, under the cruel delusion of a return to their families, found themselves enveloped in double files of cavalry and infantry, marched to a spot fit for the perpetration of the horrid deed-and there, without an instant to think of parents, country, friends, and God-in the midst of the consternation of terror and surprise, were inhumanly set upon, and pitilessly put to death, in spite of those moving cries which reached to
heaven, and regardless of those supplicating hands, stretched forth for mercy, from which arms had been taken under the perfidious forms of a capitulation. Five hundred and six perished that morning-young, vigorous, brave, sons of respectable families, and the pride of many a parent's heart—and their bleeding bodies, torn with wounds, and many yet alive, were thrown in heaps upon vast fires, for the flames to consume what the steel had mangled. Six only escaped, and not by mercy, but by miracles. And this was the work of man upon his brother; of Christian upon Christian; of those upon those who adore the same God, invoke the same heavenly benediction, and draw precepts of charity and mercy from the same divine fountain. Accursed be the ground on which the dreadful deed was done! Sterile, and set apart, let it for ever be! No fruitful cultivation should ever enrich it; no joyful edifice should ever adorn it; but shut up, and closed by gloomy walls, the mournful cypress, the weeping willow, and the inscriptive monument, should for ever attest the foul deed of which it was the scene, and invoke from every passenger the throb of pity for the slain, and the start of horror for the slayer. And you, neglected victims of the Old Mission and San Patricio, shall you be forgotten because your numbers were fewer, and your hapless fate more concealed ? Nol but to you also justice shall be done. One common fate befell you all; one common memorial shall perpetuate your names, and embalm your memories. Inexorable history will sit in judgment upon all concerned, and will reject the plea of gov. ernment orders, even if those orders emanated from the government, instead of being dictated to it. The French National Convention, in 1793, ordered all the English prisoners who should be taken in battle to be put to death. The French armies refused to execute the decree. They answered, that French soldiers were the protectors, not the assassins, of prisoners; and all France, all Europe, the whole civilized world, applauded the noble reply.
TRAITS OF PRESIDENT JACKSON.
[From the Same.]
A BHORRENCE of debt, public and private
, dislike of banks, and
ruling passions with Jackson; and of these he gave constant evidence in all the situations of his life. Of private debts he contracted none of his own, and made any sacrifices to get out of those incurred for others. Of this he gave a signal instance, not long before the war of 1812–
selling the improved part of his estate, with the best buildings of the country upon it, to pay a debt incurred in a mercantile adventure to assist a young relative; and going into log-houses in the forest to begin a new home and farm. He was living in these rude tenements when he vanquished the British at New Orleans; and, probably, a view of their conqueror's domicile would have astonished the British officers as much as their defeat had done. He was attached to his friends, and to his country, and never believed any report to the discredit of either, until compelled by proof. He would not believe in the first reports of the surrender of General Hull, and became sad and oppressed when forced to believe it. He never gave up a friend in a doubtful case, or from policy, or calculation. He was a firm believer in the goodness of a superintending Providence, and in the eventual right judgment and justice of the people. I have seen bim at the most desperate part of his fortunes, and never saw him waver in the belief that all would come right in the end. In the time of Cromwell he would have been a puritan.
The character of his mind was that of judgment, with a rapid and almost intuitive perception, followed by an instant and decisive action. It was that which made him a General, and a President for the time in which he served. He had vigorous thoughts, but not the faculty of arranging them in a regular composition, either written or spoken; and in formal papers he usually gave his draft to an aid, a friend, or a secretary, to be written over-often to the loss of vigor. But the thoughts were his own, vigorously expressed ; and without effort, writing with a rapid pen, and never blotting or altering; but, as Carlyle says of Cromwell, hitting the nail upon the head as he went. I have a great deal of his writing now, some on public affairs and covering several sheets of paper ; and no erasures or interlineations anywhere. His conversation was like his writing, a vigorous, flowing current, apparently without the trouble of thinking, and always impressive. His conclusions were rapid, and immovable, when he was under strong convictions; though often yielding, on minor points, to his friends. And no man yielded quicker when he was convinced; perfectly illustrating the difference between firmness and obstinacy. Of all the Presidents who have done me the honor to listen to my opinions, there was no one to whom I spoke with more confidence when I felt myself strongly to be in the right.
He had a load to carry all his life; resulting from a temper which refused compromises and bargaining, and went for a clean victory or a clean defeat, in every case. Hence, every step he took was a contest: and, it may be added, every contest was a victory.