Manhood’s Years Continued (Volume V)
Octo 10th 1925
Wycliffe, who attended the University of Virginia & took the Magazine Medal, and there were three daughters, Maggie—who married Charlie Reed—son of the Presbyterian Minister of Richmond—Nannie & Florida. The latter was one of the prettiest women I ever saw. Tall graceful, a brunette with glorious black eyes & superb hair—A figure of Juno—only marred by a slight stoop— Of course I fell in love at first sight & during my whole visit, I’m afraid I monopolized her. We walked together, danced together & rode together & for awhile kept up quite a correspondence when she returned home. We found a four-leafed clover when walking together & I wrote some verses on the subject which I do not think were very bad.
Whilst at Enniscorthy we had some private theatricals in which I played “Larkin” in
“Woodcock’s Little Game” & Sergeant K. in “Creatures of Impulse”. The plays were great successes. Florida’s sister—Nannie—was a rather small blonde, not at all pretty, but a very sweet girl & intensely religious. She repeatedly told me that if I wanted to marry Florida I had to be a good religious man & not so “flippant,” So I wrote her a sonnet on my “flippancy”, which I still think was a very good one, tho’ I did compare myself to the sea.
My visit to these charming homes was a delightful one & I left with regret to go to Lynchburg on business. Florida was twenty one on the 8th of October & I got Thos Nelson Page, who was then in Richmond—a struggling young lawyer to get & send her to Enniscorthy a very handsome floral design. We did not have a florist in Charlottesville in
those days. Later on Nannie & Florida came to the University to visit Dr John Staige Davis & I continued to “rush” Florida. I took her horseback riding & tried to make her visit as pleasant as I could. When she left we kept up quite a correspondence, but gradually it died out & my romance came to an end, really before it began. I have never seen her since, but recall with much pleasure her beauty and sweetness.
I went to the Grand Lodge of Masons in Richmond in December & had a most delightful time visiting my old friends. Nannie Leary & Minnie Allen & Gay Thomas & Mrs Rutherford—Gay’s sister. I frequented the Westmoreland Club—of which I later on became a member & in which I had many friends & I enjoyed the Grand Lodge meeting also very much. The winter of 1880 was an unusually severe one— Snow
twelve inches deep fell on the 21st of December & on the night of that day Mr Littleton Waddell’s house on Green (now 2nd ) [1st] Street was burned—the family barely escaping with their lives. The thermometer fell with amazing rapidity, & on the 29th there was an all day snow, the thermometer falling to 9 degrees below zero. It was 7 below zero on the 30th and 18o below on the 31st—the coldest weather ever known in this section as far as records and human memory went. I do not think however, we suffered as much as when it was higher, as the cold was very dry & one did not realize how severe the weather was. I know that I rather enjoyed the experience.
In writing these reminiscences I have been very much hampered by the way I was compelled to write them—“here a little, there a little”—in the half hour before breakfast—in an odd hour of the day— As I commenced them in 1899—twenty six years ago—it can be well seen that they are really disjecta membra [disjointed parts] of my life. It is, however, really remarkable that I should have omitted the important events which took place in 1875 & for several years after.
When I commenced the practice of law there were two Banks in Charlottesville. The Charlottesville National Bank, which had its location in the second story of the Albemarle Insurance Building, that large structure on the Corner of Fourth & Main Street— It occupied one half of the second story & the Albemarle Insurance Co the
other— Above was a large Hall where various bodies met. The sons of Temperance occupied it when I joined that body.
The other Bank was the Farmer’s and Merchants which occupied the room where the Fuller Drug Store now is. The President of the Charlottesville National Bank was N.H. Massie—a lawyer—who did no practice & the Cashier B.C. Flannagan & afterwards his son W.W. Flannagan. It did a large business. Judge John L. Cochran was the President of the Farmer’s & Merchants & John M. Godwin, Cashier. The latter was a solemn & rather dull old man—a great methodist, who had attained “sanctification” according to his own statement. I think he was a good man, but very stupid. He had however a very solemn & owl-like manner & that made people think he was a very wise man &
great financier— The result showed he was neither.
There had been another Bank—The Citizen National Bank of which W.W. Flannagan was Cashier. Mr Alex: Pope Abell a very good man was also connected with the Charlottesville National— But in 1872 or 3 he moved to one of the Southern Cities & the firm of Flannagan Abell & Company dealers in Fertilizers was formed & the Citizen’s National & Charlottesville National were combined— The Treasurer of the Albemarle Insurance Co was Mr John Wood Jr (as he—like myself—styled himself—tho’ he was quite an old man) He was a small dried up gentleman—& had the cruel nickname of “self-sharpener” owing to the high interest rates he was accused of taking. The fact is that the development of Charlottesville was very much hampered by the usurious rates charged
for the loan of money. Twelve per cent was the lowest rate & then some more. “Shaving paper” as it was called was the curse of the town.
It turned out in the end that the firm of Flannagan, Abell & Co had discounted a large number of “fertilizer notes” from customers in the South, which turned out very badly & the Bank Examiner told us later that the Citizen’s National Bank was practically insolvent when it combined with the National Bank. This same sort of discounting went on after the combination & the end came in the Fall—I think it was—of 1875.
It came like a clap of thunder out of clear sky. I never shall forget the scare it gave me. We had a suit brought in the Landed Estates Court of Ireland to sell property there belonging to Mrs Wm L. Randolph who was a Miss Agnes Dillon
of Ireland—a most charming and brilliant woman—the mother of Dr Wm L. Randolph—now of Arizona—Hollins Randolph of Atlanta Thos J. Randolph of our Bar & Agnes now a prominent lady in State Health Work. The draft for the proceeds of this sale, quite a large amount had come the morning of the Bank Failure— Father gave it to me & told me to deposit it. I put it in my pocket but went into a case in Court & forgot all about it. Sometime during the day Father came into Court & in a rather agitated way asked me, “Have you deposited that check”? “Goodness”, I replied, “I forgot all about it.” “Thank God.” father replied, “the Bank has busted.” So the check was safe & its proceeds used in the purchase of “West Cairns”—the old Lewis place about a mile
above the University—now cut up into several places.
Of course the failure of this Bank brought a great deal of distress into the community. It was found loaded down with Flannagan & Abell’s discounted paper—most of which was contested & the Stockholders of the Bank were called on to pay up their stock—a double liability of course on them. People in many instances were nearly ruined. The failure, however, turned out to be a rather good thing for us. Mr James D. Jones, father’s old partner, was elected Receiver & selected our firm & Mr S.V. Southall as his Counsel. There was of course a great deal of litigation & we received a great many good fees. Mr N.H. Massie & both of the Flannagans were indicted in the Federal Court, but the indictments dragged along & finally were
“nolle prosequied”[chosen not to prosecute]. Why? has always been a mystery to me, but after a year or so Orson Adams of New York was appointed Receiver in Mr Jones place & during his Receivership the indictments were dismissed. Adams afterwards, when W.W. Flannagan moved to New York & started the Southern National Bank was a large stockholder & I believe an officer in that Bank. That Bank also failed disastrously in one of the panics.
One of the most remarkable things I know of was that within a few months after the most disastrous failure of the Charlottesville National Bank. B.C. & W.W. Flannagan organized the Peoples’ National Bank—now one of our most prosperous Institutions—& stock was eagerly taken & deposits made by many of
those who had suffered in the failure of the other Bank.
Much of this, I think, was due to the fact that the Flannagan’s selected Chas H. Harman a prominent business man as the Cashier of the New Bank. This Bank opened in what was then known as the “Paoli Building” on the North East Corner of Market & Fourth Street—moving later to a new building on the S.W. corner of Main & Fourth, Streets on the site of old man Jimmie Alexander’s building where once “Cliff” Thompson kept a tobacco shop.
Harman, I say, was a very fine business man— He was the son of a butcher Peter Harman by his first wife & for a while was himself a butcher. He made a good deal of money & soon became prominent in business affairs. He had the pleasantest manners & some one said of him that he could refuse you in a
such a way that you thought he was doing you a favour.
He moved to New York soon after W.W. Flannagan went there & lost a great deal of money in various schemes he went into with Flannagan who lost also practically all he had. There is no question of Flannagan’s ability. The Reserve Bank system—the credit of which Carter Glass now claims—was suggested by him & he published a pamphlet outlining what was almost the identical scheme afterwards carried out. I’m afraid he looked upon any Bank with which he was connected as his private property & wrecked the Southern National Bank in New York.
John F. Slaughter Jr & I purchased the controlling interest in the People’s National Bank many years after. B.C. Flannagan was then cashier & we found $150.000—of
paper—$50.000—of W.W. Flannagan’s endorsed by his wife—$50.000—of B.C. Flannagan’s endorsed by W.W. & $50.000—of O. Rierson’s (B.C. Flannagan’s son-in-law) endorsed by B.C. Flannagan. It simply scared us to death & when we got $50.000—secured by all sorts of threats & found a chance to sell out our holding at a profit we “got from under”, thanking our lucky stars. Judge John M. White had been elected President while we had control & he & a Cousin bought our stock. Under White’s splendid management the Bank grew & prospered & is today one of the finest institutions in the State.
Poor old Charlottesville had very bad luck with Banks. After the failure of the Charlottesville National Bank, the Albemarle Insurance Company went into the Banking business. But only lasted a short while & failed
not quite as disastrously as The Bank, but sufficiently to cause a great of discomfort & loss. It had been the Court Depository & its Certificates of Deposit for Court Funds represented large sums in many instances. No one can imagine in what a condition these two failures left the City & County. Nor was this all: A gentleman named Brennan—from New York, the owner of the beautiful Carlton Estate just under Monticello with its handsome house, built by Alexander Rives—& supposed to be very wealthy opened a private Bank in the rooms of the old National Bank & soon had a fine line of deposits. But it turned out Brennan was not as wealthy as it was supposed & a good deal of the deposits went to pay off a mortgage on Carlton & the end came in his failure with renewed
losses and discomfort. His beautiful estate was sold & he reduced to very uncomfortable circumstances. In the mean time the other two Banks went on to all appearances in fine shape. At first the deposits in the People’s National were not large, but gradually grew. Such was the confidence of everybody in the Farmers & Merchants Bank—every one believing it to be safe sound & conservative that it carried a fine line of deposits. The consternation & surprise of every one when in [ ] 18[ ] it closed it doors can be imagined. I was in Washington City when I heard of it & as it turned out I would have broken the Bank the day I left if I had drawn out one hundred instead of fifty dollars, for the cash would have been entirely gone had I asked for the former. I recalled after I heard of the failure how solemn old man Godwin looked as he slowly counted
me out the currency.
As I said I was in Washington when Dick Stone met me on the Street having just come from Charlottesville. “Well!”, he said, “another Bank has ‘busted’ in the town”. “The Peoples?” I said. “I don’t know,” replied Dick, “but it is the one opposite the Gem Saloon”. Dick, I may say here, was better acquainted with the Saloons in Charlottesville than he was with the Banks. “Oh! that’s the Farmers & Merchants,” I replied. “It can’t be anything but a temporary suspension”: But alas! & alas! it was an outrageous shameful failure. It paid two cents on the dollar & it was found that Judge Cochran the President, had all the best paper in the Bank, having rediscounted it to keep the Bank in Funds. Why the President, & Directors were not sued or indicted has always been &
always will be a mystery. We were a kindly, forgiving people in Charlottesville. Old Godwin was in a month or so elected Clerk of the town Council—carrying a small salary & Judge Cochran continued on the Bench.
One can well imagine the trouble & distress all these failures coming so closely together caused. But our people were a wonderful people & took courage. There was a good deal of forbearance shown by creditors & brave efforts by debtors & there was really one good thing about it: People began to invest their money in other directions than in “shaving paper” and I do believe the ultimate result was for good.
The failure of The Charlottesville National Bank and our employment as Counsel, of course brought us a great deal of business, which in the course of the next two years—I might say three or four—took
us to Lynchburg and Baltimore and Washington. It brought me into the Federal Courts & I learned Federal Practice—something I had theretofore known nothing of. In addition it entailed a great deal of hard work & with the foolishness of youth I undertook to work in the hardest kind of way, but continue to go to dances & drives &c with the result I will speak of later on.
As it bought us some good fees I felt able in the summer of 1876 to attend the Philadelphia Exposition which was a wonderful experience to me, as it was indeed to America. My brother & I went together occupying a room at 1000 Arch Street & taking our breakfast & supper at restaurants & midday meal at the Exposition. The various exhibits—the Art Gallery &c gave us almost a liberal education & I do not think I ever enjoyed anything
more than I did the time spent in the study & examination of the wonderful things we saw.
During our visit my College Fraternity held a Convention & I attended it & had a very good time. A curious thing happened in this way. Amongst the delegates was a very large young man—very solemn & quiet in his ways & he & I took quite a fancy to one another. We sat by each other at the banquet & went together on the various excursions. I forgot his name & indeed in the course of a few years forgot all about him.
In 1914 your mother & I went to Europe on the Steamer Caledonia. Sitting near us on the deck was a large solemn individual with his wife & daughters & they proved to be very pleasant people. I found his name was Hoffman. One day he said to me. “Aren’t you a Zeta Psi?” On my answering
in the affirmative he said, “Weren’t you at the Convention in Philadelphia in 1876?” I replied “Yes”—"Well! said he “You & I were together a good deal on that occasion”. So he turned out to be the man I went with at that affair.
A curious thing happened to him on this trip, which tho’ a little out of place is worth relating now. He was a referee or trustee in Bankruptcy in Philadelphia—a position with good pay attached to it & of course he did not want to do anything to risk losing it. The day we landed in Glascow—August 2nd 1914 war was declared between Great Britain & Germany & the confusion & anxiety amongst those who landed was very great. Hoffman was on his head to get back, as soon as he could & so rushed off to the Anchor Line office & engaged passage for his return on our ship
the Caledonia, for her return voyage a week later. He then went to visit some friends & relatives, & as he was about to return to Glascow got a wire saying the Caledonia had been commandeered by the Government & all bookings cancelled. He then made frantic efforts for return passage & finally got one on a vessel sailing for Liverpool. Just as his train pulled into that City an official walked thro’ the train & informed the passengers that the ship on which Hoffman was to sail had been commandeered & all passengers would have to remain in Liverpool. So poor Hoffman took his family to a Hotel & was walking up & down the lobby in a state of agitation well to be imagined. His distress must have been evident for the Hotel Porter came up to him & asked his trouble. On being told he said: “There’s
a gentleman at such & such a place, who has three berths on a Cunarder which sails tomorrow. If you can catch him I expect you can get them.” Hoffman did not wait, but rushed to a cab & was soon at the place named. To his horror he found it closed & an old woman washing down the steps. Frantically enquiring where he could find the man who had the berths, the old woman said: “Why he is on the corner yonder, waiting for a bus”. In a moment Hoffman accosted him & told him his errand. He found the man very drunk & he said to Hoffman: “Yes! I’ve got three berths on that ship. How much money have you got?” Very foolishly Hoffman told him & the man replied. “All right. Give me what you’ve got & the berths are yours”. Hoffman said a cold
chill ran over him when we realized this would have left him without a penny to pay his hotel bill—cab hire steward fees on steamer or enough money to get from New York to Philadelphia. Involuntarily almost he broke out into the Masonic cry of distress. Immediately the man stared at him. “So you are one of the Craft” said he. “Now you just go over to that old woman on the steps there: Give her a five pound note: Jump in a cab with me & lets hurry to the Cunard Offices. You shall have those berths at just what they cost”.
And it was done accordingly. When I returned from England in 1914 & went to Dr Dercum’s Sanitarium in Philadelphia—Hoffman & his wife called on me & he related this incident. I have never seen him since, but I should think he ought to be a most zealous Free Mason.
But to return to the Centennial:
Exhibitions or Expositions, shall I say, have been so numerous since the one in 1876 that I need not dwell upon this one. I may say it had a most excellent effect on this Country. I can give one example. My Mother-in-law Mrs Slaughter told me that up to 1876 Lynchburg—tho’ a very wealthy City—was one of the “crudest” places she ever knew. That people there furnished their homes in the plainest way: knew nothing about art or anything else much except how to make money: Many of them, however went to the Exposition & it amounted to an education. Within a year people began to refurnish their homes in modern style, buy pictures & took much more interest in the world in general & the pretty & artistic things in particular than they had done since she first came to Lynchburg in 1853.
After spending a most delightful
and instructive week or two at the Exposition my brother returned home & I made a trip to New York, up the Hudson & to Niagara. My brother had made this trip in 1868, with Uncle Bills—Lucy & a Miss Octavia Polk, Lucy’s first Cousin. I—it is needless to say—enjoyed this trip very much & I think it, with the Exposition, gave me a broader view of life.
Travel in my opinion broadens the mind & I earnestly believe a year abroad is worth two in college. I have so often noticed the growth of the mind & the different outlook in people who have travelled abroad. Their provincialism seems to grow less: their little world expands & they seem to realize how little their own world was & look upon things & people with greater charity & consideration. That, I know, has been the effect of travel on me.
The Eighties Again
I take up my reminiscences again only noting that the years from 1876 to 1881 were about as busy as one can well imagine. The business which we had growing out of the failure of the Charlottesville National Bank was quite large & that with our other business kept me hard at work. We had neither stenographers nor type writing machines in those days & as my father hated to write—having some trouble with his right thumb which grew with the years—the mere mechanical work of the office was very large & I did, I may say , practically all of it—and did it very cheerfully.
I kept up my “Society Act,” however & practically was burning the candle at both ends. I came into town every winter & occupied a room over my office, so I did a good deal at night.
A very pleasant
family moved into town in 1880—a widow lady, Mrs Porterfield, who had two daughters & a son—the eldest daughter Johnnie & the youngest Nellie. The former was a grave dignified young lady: the latter a very pretty brunette: The son was the object of abject adoration on the part of Mother & sisters & we used to call them the satellites—as they revolved around the “son”. They were charming people quite musical & a decided addition to our Community.
I soon became decidedly épris [takenwith] with Nellie & I believe was the constant visitor at their very charming home.
I often think of Nellie’s first sleigh ride with me. In those days a great many fathers & mothers would not permit their daughters to go “buggy riding” with young men & Mrs Porterfield was adamant on
the subject. Of course sleigh riding in couples came under the ban. A very deep snow came in the winter, I think of 1880-1 & my brother & I had a very fine sleigh— Nellie was “crazy” to have a sleigh ride, but Mamma said “No”, emphatically. One night when I was visiting her I told her to be up in her room ready dressed for a sleigh ride at 12 M the next day. “Why Mother won’t permit it,” she said. “Never you mind”, I replied. “I’ll fix it: You just be ready.”
So the next day at 12 M sharp I drove up to the only house then on the corner of Park & High Sts—the second house from the N. E. Corner then, got my brother to go with me & hold my horses & ran up the steps & rang the doorbell. Mrs Porterfield herself came to the door & looked quite surprised to see me at that hour of
morning. But I gave her but a moment & said “Mrs Porterfield go up stairs & tell Miss Nellie to hurry up. I’m waiting to take her sleigh-riding”. “But___” said the old lady. “I haven’t time to talk,” I replied, “the snow’s melting”. The old lady seemed absolutely dazed & called Nellie & in a few moments we dashed off, the bells jangling & the horses fairly racing. We had a most delightful ride, but when we came back the old lady was nursing her wrath: “I think, sir,” she told me when we came in the house, “You are the most impudent young man I ever knew”. But it all ended in a laugh & thereafter the ban upon buggy riding was removed & Nellie & I had many pleasant rides and drives together. I was very fond of the young lady & I think that if Edith had
not come into my life & taken possession of it I might have addressed her—with what result of course I cannot say; but I think she liked me very well— December 1880 was very cold, the thermometer on the 29th was 9o below zero—7o below on the 30th & 18o below on the 31st—
It was a winter of very hard work for me & with the folly of youth I burnt the candle at both ends. Working and playing with equal vigour; The consequence was that in the early months of 1881 I began to feel run down. I paid no attention to it, but kept on my way—moving into my room over the office & remaining in town for the week days until Spring. I went to Richmond in the Spring & had a most enjoyable visit with my numerous friends. During that visit I saw Mary Anderson for the first time. The play was Eradne & Mary
was a very beautiful, tall & stately woman. As an actress she was then rather disappointing. She was a little “gawky” & her stage presence was not good. I saw her also in Parthenia & am not certain which was the first in which I saw her—Parthenia or Aradne. I saw her rather often in future years & noticed with some surprise the wonderful improvement and yet the lack of something hard to explain. I think the trouble was that she was cold & lacked experience. Her Juliet was beautiful but was not the warm blooded impetuous Italian girl of Shakespeare. Some one, I do not remember who—coming out of the Theatre in New York, after seeing her in Juliet remarked to me: “The trouble with Mary is that she had never been in love”. He was right. She fell in love with Navarro, who married her & the difference in her acting was remarkable after she became
in love. Her success in Perdita in Winter’s Tale in London was marked & when I saw her play it on her return I was simply carried away. She was another Mary. Her whole personality was changed. She seemed Perdita herself—a very creature of beauty and liveliness, suffused with modesty & yet passionate, light airy & I could very well say with Florizel.
“When you do dance I would you were
A wave of the sea that you might
I continued my work & play with equal ardour & extended my visiting list to a family which bought the Goodyear place—Seymour—afterwards—Senator Martin’s & now Louis T. Hanckel’s Jr,.
The family was from New Orleans french creoles named Del Bondio. There were two girls & one, “Texie” was a beauty, a little plump, but at her age very becoming to her. She was
quite a musician & very pleasant. Her mother had the french idea about young ladies & kept rather close watch over her daughters. I visited her quite frequently and was persona grata. My last visit to her was rather amusing. I made an engagement to go to see her one Sunday whilst the rest of the family were at Church. I rode up to the house, dismounted, rang the bell & enquired for Miss Texie of the servant girl who came to the door: “Nobody kin see Miss Texie”, the girl informed me, “Her Ma done lock her up”.
And such was the case. The mother had become quite suspicious of John Keller a Clerk at the University & had forbidden him the house. Fearing surreptitious visits she encarcerated Texie whenever she was away & this visit of mine was during one of her imprisonments. But Love laughs
at locksmiths: A few nights later John & she eloped & were married. It was a regular rope ladder business & John aided by several friends went to the house & Texie descended from the window of her prison & was off & married before her escape was really known.
I never saw her again until after a great many years when she came back—a widow with two children—boarded at “The Brook” one summer. Mary Goodyear Mc Neale—now Smoot—spent the same summer at The Brook—a widow with two children. So these two ladies who had been at different times dwellers at “Seymour”, spent the summer together in the same house both widows & each with two children.
Texie had grown very fat & matronly, but Mary was thin & had kept her youthful figure. She is now—1925—very stout, but very handsome.
The beginning of what now-a-days would be called a nervous breakdown commenced with me in the Spring of 1881, tho’ it did not culminate until June. I had worked very hard over an interesting case which I might relate. An Englishman named Hathaway came over here & bought a small farm near Crozet. He looked like a gentleman—had pleasant manners, but what I might call an uneasy look about him. A little Scotchman named Robinson came over here in 1880 & contracted to buy Hathaways farm at a rather extravagant price & then backed out. Hathaway sued him & tried to get a “ca’ sa”—the old writ to imprison a debtor until he gave security—but as that required security & Hathaway could not give it, he attached a farm Robinson owned in the County. Robinson went back to England before the case came up for trial & wrote us that Hatha-
way had been a Solicitor & had absconded with a lot of his clients’ money & had been thrown into Bankruptcy & was undischarged being charged with fraud: That he could buy up large claims against him for a song. So we advised Robinson to do so & in a short while a very imposing document with innumerable seals came over showing that Robinson was the owner of a large claim by assignment against Hathaway amounting to five or six times the amount Hathaway claimed was due him by Robinson. We filed this claim as on offset and asked for judgment over against Hathaway for a large amount. He defended the suit on the ground that he was a bankrupt & this was property acquired after his bankruptcy & therefore could not be bound for debts due in England before Bankruptcy. We replied that he was an undischarged bankrupt & could
not be discharged because he was thrown into bankruptcy & was declared a fraudulent bankrupt.
So the question to be decided was what effect did a fraudulent bankruptcy have upon after acquired property of the bankruptcy, the bankrupt being undischarged. It was a novel & interesting question & I went to work on it with zest. The case came on to be argued in the Spring & I spoke for about two hours or more. By speaking I mean I was on my feet talking & reading authorities. When we came out of the Court House everything around me became black & I would have fallen over, but for the Court House wall which was in touch. I went home & whilst I did not go to bed—as I should have done, I was very little account & indeed went thro’ the next month or so a very languid worthless individual. In June I went to bed & stayed there several
weeks. The case of Hathaway vs Robinson has never been decided to this day. After taking about a month to think it over Grimsley handed down a decision that he could go no further until we made the English trustees in Bankruptcy parties. That meant that neither we nor Hathaway would get anything, for his debts would sweep away the property: so we agreed to cry “quits” & simply let the case drop.
Robinson remained in Scotland: Hathaway sold his farm & I understand moved to North Carolina. The only one hurt by the case was myself—for it was the beginning of my breakdown. My physician was Dr Wm G.Rogers—who belonged to the old school: He was a great believer in calomel & other drugs & whilst I think was an excellent Doctor I think he gave more medicine than was necessary. At any
rate he prescribed some hideously nauseous preparation for me, which I had to take at fixed hours, one of those hours being midnight. I submitted without a murmur, tho’ I used to abuse my brother whom I said seemed to take a fiendish delight in waking me up & seeing that I took my dose.
I do not think the medicine did me the slightest good. What the Doctor ought to have done was to order a complete rest for me. But he did not do so. I went my usual way, tho’ without my old “pep”. I was Master of Widows’ Sons Lodge No 60 & attended very regularly & conferred a good many of the degrees. I visited a great deal—rode & drove with the girls—had a good time with the boys. I argued my first case in the Court of Appeals—Sneed v Hughson in April. This was a case in which Judge Shackelford dismissed a suit
we had brought in Fluvanna— He was absolutely wrong & I think did it, so he could get away from his Court there. We took an appeal & Fluvanna cases going to Richmond we argued the case there. The Court then sat in what had been an old Campbellite Church not far from the Jefferson Davis Mansion—the most delightful Court Room I ever practiced in. It was heated by an enormous wood fire & therefore the atmosphere was fine. This room was used after the Capitol disaster in 1870 and continued to be so used until the new Library building was constructed. It was my first case before this August tribunal which then consisted of Judge Moncure—the President of the Court a great judge & superb gentleman
“Ne’er sat in Israel’s Court an Abethdin, [group of Rabbis]
With more discerning eyes or hands more clean”.
He was quite old, but tho’ feeble in body strong & vigorous in mind. The other judges were, Judge Christian—a large ponderous man & whilst a good judge not a brilliant one. Judge Staples who was an excellent judge: Judge Anderson who was not a man of much force and Judge Burke—a magnificent Judge— Our opposing counsel was Col John H. Guy, who married my second cousin Mary Ranson—a beautiful woman, whom with Susie Stuart—afterwards wife of Bishop Gibson—were the objects of my boyish admiration & affection—an admiration & affection which never ceased. Col Guy was, without exception one of the ablest lawyers I ever knew & could make the clearest logical argument in a way that carried persuasion with it. He argued this case with an ingenuity & ability which made me wonder why we were foolish enough to take an appeal. Father’s reply
assured me somewhat. My amazement was very great when as we walked out of the Court Room Col Guy said, “What ever possessed old Shackelford to dismiss that bill?” Of course we won the case & it was of so little importance it was never reported.
I kept steadily at work during the Spring, but as I say was listless & not at all myself. I visited as usual: went on Circuit, but early in June on returning from Court in Greene I broke down & went to bed where I remained for over two weeks and for a week more remained at home. Dear Lucy Armistead came whilst I was in bed & her bright & happy ways laughing at me at one time and sympathising with me at another proved very “good medicine & I went back to my office & to work early in July. But I had learned my lesson. I began to work more rationally and to
play more wisely. During this summer and on the 2nd of July President Garfield was shot by Guiteau, & the wave of indignation which went over the country was almost equal to that which swept men out of their senses when Lincoln was assassinated, tho’ of course not quite as insane. I never saw Garfield after he was elected President, but saw him several times whilst he was in Congress with Father. He was a good looking man—reddish beard & hair, about the average size & with a very pleasant face. His assassination “deified” him. Father always said that in his opinion Garfield was not a high man: that he was, without doubt involved very deeply in the credit mobilier, but like Blaine was too smart to be caught. He was said to be very fond of the ladies & much scandal was afloat at one time about him in this respect. I remember
on one occasion Father was speaking in the House and alluded to the fact that in the earliest history of this Government that whilst the New England States were busy coining money & their Senators Congressmen & public men thinking more of this, than anything else, the public men & people of the Southern States were working for & laying down the foundations of good government, high statesmanship & the good of all the people. Garfield interrupted him with a sneer; “They got the worst of the bargain, didn’t they?” “Yes”. replied my father “from a materialistic standpoint”. I think this indicates the character of the man. He was, however an amiable loveable sort of a man & behaved during his long suffering with calm courage & patience, and died bravely.
His assassin Guitea[u] I haven’t the
slightest doubt was a lunatic and had he killed a less prominent man would have been acquitted on that ground. Today there can be very little doubt about it, as he would have had alienists galore to testify to his insanity.
I happened to be in Washington in the Fall of that year during his trial & went in the Court room & saw him. He had every appearance of a lunatic—not only in his physical appearance—which was that of a wild man—but in the way he conducted himself. He repeatedly shouted out some comment on the evidence—interrupted his counsel and carried on in a way no perfectly sane man could or would have done. And yet I think he was rightly hanged. He knew what he was doing when he shot Garfield: He intended to do what he did & if irresponsible at all it was from a depraved nature more than from a disordered mind. If
for no other reason he ought to have been hanged “Pour l’encourager les autres” [To encourage the others].
The only man I ever defended on the ground of insanity was a man named Martin who killed a young man named Carrington just as the train pulled into the town—as it was then—of Charlottesville. He had never met Carrington until that morning & had given him his seat in the train when the latter got on at Lynchburg, both going to Cleveland’s first inauguration— Just as the train got to Charlottesville Martin went up to Carrington, touched him on the shoulder & asked for his seat. As Carrington got up Martin shot him two or three times. Killing him instantly. Martin was at once taken to jail & I saw him a few hours after the shooting. He was in a tremendous state of excitement & asked me to get him bail at once. When
I told him I did not think his was a bailable case he grew very indignant & said, “Sir, I shot that man to protect my own life. I had been kind to him: given him my seat & when I asked him for it he took out a revolver, & put it at my heart. If I had not shot him, he would be where I am now & I would be dead". It was useless to tell him no pistol was found on or near Carrington. I sent for Doctor Nelson, who saw him & stated the man was in a high state of excitement—very nervous—with an abnormal pulse & he believed was just recovering from an attack of delirium tremens—which turned out to be a fact. We defended him on the ground of insanity & he was aquitted on that ground. We proved that a number of his family on both sides of the house were insane & some had been in the lunatic asylum. I was very much
amused & somewhat exasperated when I went to Danville & interviewed one of his uncles; quite an old man, who became very indignant when I was interviewing him on the insanity in his family: “I do not propose Sir!” he said, “to dig up the bones of my ancestors & exhibit them in Court”. “Very well Sir,” I replied, “You can dig up the Bones of your ancestors or hang one of their descendants, just as you choose”. The bones were dug.
I was very much struck with a remark Dr Blackford, Superintendant of the Western State Hospital for the insane in Staunton when I interviewed him with the idea of calling him as an expert witness: “I think,” said he, “the man is probably insane, but ought to be hanged all the same—for I believe his kind of insanity is not that which renders him ir-
responsible and I wish I could say to some of my patients here who have the homicidal mania that they hanged a man over in Charlottesville the other day, who killed a man & claimed to be crazy: It would do them a lot of good.”
Needless to say, we did not summon Dr Blackford. Martin was acquitted & old Judge Taylor ordered him to be sent to the lunatic asylum. He was sent, but the Asylum refused to receive him, saying if he had been insane, he was so no longer. Martin insisted to his dying day that Carrington had a cocked pistol at his heart when he shot him & I believe he thought so. Otherwise the killing was absolutely unexplainable. He kept sober for a year or so and finally killed himself drinking.
One of the pleasant houses I began to visit during that summer and fall—at first with Lucy Shackel-
-ford & then by myself was W.W. Flannagan’s, the stone house on Park Street in front of which is a pretty little lake. It is a very old house, & when I first remember what is now the lake was a marsh. Flannagan spent a great deal of money on the place—built a dam—made the lake—had a beautiful garden &c. His wife was a very handsome & charming woman & I spent a great many pleasant hours with the family. He told me a very funny story, which goes to prove that the strongest evidence may sometimes mislead.When Mr & Mrs Flannagan were married ladies wore enormous wire bustles & when they went on their wedding trip Mrs Flannagan of course was dressed in the latest style. They went to New York on their wedding trip & stopped at one of the
fashionable hotels. Mrs Flannagan like most ladies was horribly afraid of mice. What was her terror when dressing in the morning to find that a mouse had run up into her bustle & was frantically trying to escape. She began to scream & her husband took his walking stick & began to try to kill the mouse, she in the mean time shreiking in the wildest manner.The Hotel Employees rushed up, broke open the door & arrested Flannagan for beating his wife, for he was busily engaged in thumping Mrs Flannagan on the bustle when they came in & she yelling at the top of her voice.Flannagan had a hard time explaining, but finally the dead mouse—for he had killed it—and Mrs Flannagan’s explanations persuaded the employees that he was not a wife beater.But it is a strange thing how even direct evidence can
lead to false conclusions.
This year—1881—was an exciting one politically.The Readjusters carried the State, tho’ we did succeed in election of our Senator & Representatives from Albemarle.
It was during this year also we had our first case in the Supreme Court of the United States—Rives v Duke. Judge Robertson & Mr Southall, Father & I with Judge Watson who represented the other side went to Washington & Father & I qualified at the same time before that August Tribunal.
I ran over to Baltimore one day whilst in Washington & saw Gerster in Il Flauto Magico & that night saw Il Trovatore. I do not think any of the modern Operas can equal in pure melody these two.
I attended the Grand Lodge of Masons in December and as usual enjoyed myself very much. It met in old St Albans Hall
on Main Street in those days & was in comparison with today a small body. It was then composed of the very best men in the State & its officers were chosen for their prominence & ability. I cannot say this for later years.
So the year 1881 closed & I think it was a very pleasant one, despite my illness. I was not my old self, however and felt that I was in need of a good long rest— And I determined to take it by going to Europe. I had made some good fees and felt I could afford it. So I began to study up for the trip, engaged my passage on the Egypt of the National Line & began to study & outline my whole trip. I also got one or two books on the Art Galleries of the Countries I proposed to visit & read & studied them with much care. I think if I had known what my father told me one morning as we walked to dinner I
would have postponed my trip: And that was the engagement and near approaching marriage of my dear Sister Mary. It has always struck me as a curious thing the effect this announcement had on both of us. We were walking down High Street & about opposite the room in which I was born, when father said to me: “Your Sister & Charlie Slaughter are engaged and want to be married in April”. Neither of us said a word, but all of a sudden simultaneously both burst into tears. I often wonder if there was some premonition of the early death that was to follow in a little more than a year that event, which is usually looked upon as a very happy affair. But we did not weep very long, but in a moment wiped our eyes & laughed at one another. The winter of 1881-1882 was quite a severe one. There was much snow on the ground & Willie
and I bought a very handsome sleigh which, however, we used only a few times before the thaw set in & once or twice in later snows that winter. The exciting event was the burning of the Woolen Mills & the C & O. Railway Bridge, which took place on January 10th. This caused a great deal of inconvenience in trains & a great deal of suffering amongst the operatives of the Mills who were thrown out of employment. To help them we got up an amateur performance at the Town Hall in which I played a leading part, Lucy Shackelford playing “opposite me” as the Actors term it. We netted a nice little sum for them.
The winter was a very pleasant one. The “Reading Club” which had been organized a year or so before was quite active & meeting once every two weeks at different houses brought the young people together & furnished a social element which Charlottesville lacked
to a certain extent. We also got up a french class and had a Mr Arnaud as our teacher. Arnaud came to take charge of the Monticello Wine Co: He was a cultivated gentleman— Evidently there was something behind his leaving France, which none of us could fathom. He left a wife & family behind him & from a photograph of his wife he once showed me she must have been a very pretty & refined woman. He was a royalist & believed that Henri Cinq ought to be the ruler of France. He was a very devout Roman Catholic, but after leaving Charlottesville, which he did in a year or so, his faith yielded to the little God who seems to dominate all faiths. His wife died & he married a young woman who had been divorced. His priest got after him about it & Arnaud claimed that her first marriage was a nullity, for what reason
I do not know. Anyway it was decided to lay the matter before the Bishop—a Mr Vandevyer of Richmond—a dutchman by birth: So on his first visit to Richmond the matter was discussed. The Bishop was in some doubt so he told Arnaud the matter would be referred to Rome & Arnaud would have to abide by the decision. “I told the Bishop,” Arnaud told me “dat it was all right; but if ‘Rom’ say she was my wife den she was my wife: but if ‘Rom’ say she was not my wife, she would still be my wife no matter what ‘Rom’ say”.
Thereupon the Bishop got mad & said to Arnaud: “I vill damn your soul”, and Arnaud told me he replied,” “I will damn your soul, just as well”, and so Arnaud kept his wife & gave up his church.
He was a good teacher & our french class of some half a
dozen girls & men was great fun as well as instructive. Two jokes on me are worth telling. I never allowed myself when speaking french to stop for a word, grammatical construction or anything else—I just spoke. So Lucy Shackelford once asked Arnaud if a certain construction was good french? “Not exactly”, he replied, “but it is Mr Duke french”.
At another time he was explaining the difference between “un homme brave,” [a stalwart, brave man] and “un brave homme” [a good man]. “De one”, he said, “means a man of courage who vill fight. De oder as you would say of my friend Mr Duke, is a “worthy man”. Only he pronounced the word, “wordy”, & as I was a good deal of a talker then, as I am now, his definition was received with applause.
My french has been the occasion of a good many jokes, for I’m afraid I am very much like Lord Brougham
of whom it is said that he not only murdered french, but tortured it. A great many years later when M. Jusserand the french Embassador came to Charlottesville & dined at my house he, with many others, went to Monticello. With us was Professor R.H. Wilson—my very dear friend—and his Wife—who was a french woman. Whilst we were talking on the porch of the house Mrs Wilson used some English in quite an ungrammatical way. “You must excuse, Judge,” said Wilson—“Mrs Wilson’s english: She has not as yet caught on to the language.” “Why, Wilson,” I replied, “Mrs Wilson speaks english a great deal better than I do french”. “Oh! mon Dieu,” she replied almost involuntarily, “Je l’espère.” [Oh, my goodness, I hope so] Then she seemed to realize that her speech was not as courteous as it might have been & began to stammer out and apologise. But I declined to accept any
apology, but joined in the laughter her speech had accepted. And I knew it was true & continues to be true. I speak french sufficiently to get along very well & in my several trips to France have been able to make all my wants known & carry on a conversation. I love the language; its literature & the people. As I told a pretty little shop girl once, “J’aime beaucoup la France, le Français et les Françaises” [I love France, French and French women] & thereupon she said I spoke french “comme un natif.” [like a native]
My sister was married in the old Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville by Revd. Dr Petrie on the night of April 26th 1882. It poured rain nearly all day & at night & dear old Aunt Mat: who had much of the old time superstition was in much distress over the fact. But it was a beautiful wedding & Mary made a beau-
tiful bride— The fine old house was thronged with “fair women & brave men,” and despite the rain outside we were all so bright and happy.
Eighteen eighty two saw also the marriage of my dear Cousin Maggie Stuart to Alex: F. Robertson, who had been a class mate in law at the University 1873-4. I was one of the groomsmen & stood with Lizzie Hendron—a daughter of Judge Hendron of Staunton—a fair & lovely girl, who subsequently married my friend [ ] Patrick a young lawyer of Staunton & died not many years after. Patrick too has left this world.
The superb old Stuart Mansion was at its best & there was a large gathering of the prettiest & best of Staunton’s worthies. Much surprise was evinced at Maggie’s choice of a husband. “Alex:” was a very quiet man—rather dull in appearance, tho’ not at all in reality & people supposed that
Maggie would have made a more brilliant match. But she made no mistake. Robertson was and is a splendid gentleman—a man of splendid—sound intellect and has made a fine husband & father. He came into quite a fortune & the old place has been kept up in its pristine style. His children are all doing well & his daughter Sarah & my daughter Mary are devoted friends—carrying into this third generation the love of their forbears. Maggie still lives tho’ in very bad health & our fondness for each other has suffered no diminution by the lapse of time.
In this same year, to come from the sublime to the ridiculous, so to speak, our new Circuit Judge—Geo: P. Hughes—elected by the Readjusters—took his seat on the Bench at Charlottesville. He was—without exception the poorest lawyer who could have been selected from the whole bar. He had scarcely
any practice: He knew no law: was a dull stupid solemn man, but I believe honest & did the best he knew how. He had in Albemarle one of the best Bars in the State & listened to them & they did their best to help him out. The consequence was that he made amazingly few mistakes & was not reversed much oftener than any of his predecessors. “But that,” old Mr Tom Wood said, “was because the readjuster Court of Appeals had no more sense nor law than he had.”
He was an amiable man—was a great admirer of my father & became very fond of me. I rather liked the old fellow. When I was elected Judge of the Corporation Court of Charlottesville by the General Assembly he was put up by the Republicans—of course simply as a compliment—the assembly being overwhelmingly Democratic & he was quite apologetic to me
saying it was done without his knowledge or consent. He had in the mean time—after leaving the Bench—moved into Charlottesville & offered for practice. He was a dead failure, however, & moved back into his native County Louisa, where he died. I liked the old fellow & always thought “that his poverty & not his will” made him a Readjuster.