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PARSON BROWNLOW, THE EXILE FROM
PARSON BROWNLOW OF TENNESSEE.
HEREWITH we publish a portrait of
the famous PARSON BROWNLOW OF TENNESSEE, whose escape out of the hands of the
rebels is the subject of so much comment. The following sketch of the Parson's
life has been prepared by one of his friends:
William G. Brownlow was born in
Wythe County, Virginia, August 5, 1805. His parents were poor, and died when he
was about ten years old. They were both Virginians, and his father was a
General Houston, in Rockbridge County. After the death of his
parents he lived with his mother's relations, and was raised to hard labor until
he was some eighteen years old, when he served a regular apprenticeship to the
trade of a house-carpenter.
His education was imperfect and
irregular, even in those branches taught in the common-schools of the country.
He entered the Traveling Ministry, in 1826, of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
and traveled ten years without intermission, and was a member of the General
Conference held in Philadelphia. He was untiring in his energy, and availed
himself of the advantages of the Methodist Itinerancy to study and improve his
education, which he did in all the English branches.
Mr. Brownlow is about six feet
high, and weighs about 175 pounds; has had as fine a constitution as any man
ever had. He has no gray hairs in his head, and will pass for a man of
thirty-five years. He has had the strongest voice of any man in East Tennessee,
where he has resided for the last thirty year,. and raised an interesting
family. He has been speaking all that time, taking a part in all the
controversies of the day.
He is the author of several
books; but the one which has had the largest run is one of over four hundred
pages, being a vindication of the Methodist church against the attacks of Rev.
J. R. Graves, in
Nashville. Brownlow's work was published by the Southern
Methodist Publishing House, and something like 100,000 copies have been
circulated in the South and West. It is a work of great severity, but of marked
In 1858 he was engaged in a
debate upon the
Slavery question, in Philadelphia, with the Rev. Mr. Prym, of
New York, in which he defended the institution of Slavery with marked ability,
exhibiting a familiar acquaintance with the vexed question in all its bearings.
The debate, a volume of some four hundred pages, is for sale by J. B. Lippincott
He is known throughout the length
and breadth of this land as the "Fighting Parson;" but no man is more peaceable,
or more highly esteemed by his neighbors. Few men are more charitable, and few,
of his means—for he is not rich—give away as much in the course of a year.
He is quite a politician, though
he has never been an office-seeker or an office-holder. He commenced his
political career in Tennessee in 1828, by espousing the cause of John Quincy
Adams as against Andrew Jackson. He has been all his life an ardent Whig, and
Clay and Webster were his standards of political orthodoxy. His paper, the
Knoxville Whig, which he has edited for twenty-two years, had the largest
circulation of any political paper in Tennessee, and exerted a controlling
influence in the politics of the State.
The correspondent of the
Louisville Journal, who met him at Nashville, received from him the following
account of his sufferings under the rule of the secessionists:
Shortly after the persecution of
his secession enemies compelled the Parson to suspend the publication of the
Whig he was prevailed upon by his friends, who, more than himself, feared for
his personal security, to act upon an intimation of the readiness of the rebel
authorities to grant him a safe-conduct to the North, and set himself in
communication with the Secretary of War at Richmond. The result was, that in the
last days of November the military commander at
Knoxville received instructions
to provide an escort, under which Brownlow was to be taken to the nearest
Federal lines. Accordingly he commenced to prepare for his involuntary visit to
the North, and was about ready to start when, notwithstanding his agreement with
Benjamin, he was arrested by the civil authorities upon the charge of treason,
based upon certain editorials in the Whig. He was taken to the county jail,
thronged at that time with Unionists, imprisoned on suspicion of having
participated in the bridge-burning in the early part of November, and confined
in a moist, narrow, poorly lighted and ventilated dungeon with twenty-four
others. There were neither beds nor chairs provided, nor was there room for all
to lie down at one time. The food was of the meanest character—"such," to speak
with the Parson, "as no gentleman would think good enough to throw to his dog."
To be short, the treatment of all the prisoners was as harsh and inhuman as ever
disgraced the Austrian dungeons in
Italy. It told soon severely upon
the health of the Parson, and after a month he was stricken down with typhoid
fever. Permission being granted by the rebel prosecuting attorney, he was
removed to his private residence. Here he was laid up for nearly eight weeks.
Notwithstanding his prostration by sickness the rebel surveillance over him did
not stop. His house was surrounded day and night by guards. His friends were
never allowed to visit him, and the members of his family were not permitted to
leave the premises except under guard. Nor was this all. Open insults and
threats were offered by the rebel soldiery whenever opportunity afforded. At one
time a company of cavalry that had been in the battle of Fishing Creek, and
never stopped running until they got to Knoxville, and passing the house when
the Parson's wife was looking out of the windows, one of the troopers rode up to
her, and insultingly asked, "Are you not ashamed to be the wife of that damned
traitor and Lincolnite?" Whereupon the ready-witted woman at once replied: "I am
glad that I am not the wife of a miserable coward that ran away from a
Feeling strong enough to travel,
about three weeks ago the Parson again wrote to Benjamin, complaining of the bad
faith with which he had been treated, and reminding the Secretary of War of the
promise of a safe-conduct to the Federal lines. A week elapsed, when the post
commander at Knoxville received a dispatch directing the Parson to be released
from confinement, and to be taken to the nearest Federal outposts over the route
most convenient to him, and under an escort of his own choice. In pursuance to
this order the Parson left Knoxville some twelve days since, accompanied by his
doctor, and escorted by Lieutenant O'Brien, an officer in the army, and relative
of his wife. The party proceeded by rail, via Chattanooga, to Shelbyville, in
Bedford County, in the southern part of this State. Here they were detained ten
days by Morgan's Cavalry, who were engaged in removing a large quantity of bacon
and beef stored in the town, and had orders from General Hardee not to allow any
one to pass their lines until the whole of the meat had been got away. At last
the party were permitted to proceed overland, under a flag of truce, to the
pickets of General Wood's Division. General Wood at once sent them, under
escort, to the city. Parson Brownlow proceeded immediately to the head-quarters
of General Buell, with whom he had a long interview; afterward repaired to the
St. Cloud Hotel, where his room has been crowded all the afternoon by friends
and strangers, congratulating him upon his arrival and listening to the story of
The Parson states that the Union
sentiment in the Eastern District is as ardent, devoted, and uncompromising as
ever; that tens of thousands of men will spring to arms as soon as the Federal
troops will make their appearance. The day of vengeance is most earnestly prayed
for by them, and they will visit powerful retribution upon the heads of all
At Cincinnati the heroic old
exile gave an account of his sufferings. The correspondent of the Cincinnati
Commercial thus reported him:
He gave a touching narrative of
his sufferings in prison, of his illness, and the care with which the guards
placed over him were doubled when he was so sick he could not turn in bed
without assistance. The jail was crowded with Union men. Many sickened and
perished miserably in it, and others were taken out and hung. General Carroll,
of the Confederate army, who was at one time a great friend of his, being a
Union man until a late period, visited him in jail, and said to him : "Brownlow,
you ought not to be here." "So I think," the Parson responded; "but here I am."
The General said the Confederate Court was sitting within a hundred yards of the
jail, and if he would take the oath of allegiance he should be immediately
liberated. "Sir," said the Parson, looking him steadily in the eye, "before I
will take the oath of allegiance to your bogus Government I will rot in jail, or
die here of old age. I don't acknowledge you have a Court. I don't acknowledge
you have a Government. It has never been acknowledged by any Power on earth, and
never will be. Before I would take the oath I would see the whole Southern
Confederacy in the infernal regions, and you on top of it!"
The General indignantly left the
jail, remarking, "That is d—d plain talk." "Yes, Sir-ee," said the Parson. "I am
a plain man, and them's my sentiments." Frequently men were taken out of the
jail and hung, and the secesh rabble would howl at him, and tell him, as he
looked out from the jail windows, that he was to be hung next. He told them from
those windows that he was ready to go to the gallows, and all he asked was one
hour's talk to the people before he was swung off, that he might give them his
opinion of the mob called the Southern Confederacy. The Parson said he expected
to be hanged. He had made up his mind to it. At one time he was tried by
Court-martial, and in the decision of his case he was within one vote of being
sentenced to be hung. There was nothing between and the gallows but the will of
one man, and him a secessionist. Great God, on what a slender thread
hung everlasting things! The
jails in East Tennessee and North Alabama were overfull of Union men. The Union
men there had never flinched. They stood firm now. The Government, whatever else
it did, should immediately relieve them from the grinding and destroying
oppression of secession. He related an instance of a young man named John C.
Hurd, an exemplary citizen and church-member, with a wife and two little
children, who was convicted of bridge-burning. He was notified but one hour
before he was hung that he was to be executed. He asked for a minister of the
Gospel to come and sing and pray with him, but was told that praying would not
do traitors to the South any good, and he was thus insultingly refused his dying
request. But the rebels sent with him to the gallows a miserable, drunken, and
demoralized chaplain of one of their regiments, who stood on the gallows and
told the crowd assembled to see the hanging that the young man about to he
executed had been led into the commission of the crimes for which he was to
suffer by designing men, and was sorry for what he had done. The man about to be
hung sprang to his feet, and called out that every word the chaplain had uttered
was false. He was the identical man who had burned the New Creek bridge. He knew
what he was about when he did it, and would do it again if he had a chance. They
might go on with their hanging. He was ready for it. And they hung him
forthwith. The Parson told of an inoffensive citizen, who was pointed out to a
party of straggling soldiers, while at work in a field, as a "d—d Unionist." He
was at once fired upon, and so mangled that he died within a few hours.
[Entered according to Act of
Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court for the Southern District of New York.]
BY WIKIE COLLINS,
AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE,"
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN M'LENAN.
Printed from the Manuscript and
early Proof–sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."
ON returning to the house
Magdalen felt her shoulder suddenly touched from behind as she crossed the hall.
She turned and confronted her sister. Before she could ask any questions Norah
confusedly addressed her in these words: "I beg your pardon; I beg you to
Magdalen looked at her sister in
astonishment. All memory, on her side, of the sharp words which had passed
between them in the shrubbery, was lost in the new interests that now absorbed
her; lost as completely as if the angry interview had never taken place.
"Forgive you!" she repeated, amazedly, "What for?"
"I have heard of your new
prospects," pursued Norah, speaking with a mechanical submissiveness of manner
which seemed almost ungracious; "I wished to set things right between us; I
wished to say I was sorry for what happened. Will you forget it? Will you forget
and forgive what happened in the shrubbery?" She tried to proceed; but her
inveterate reserve —or perhaps her obstinate reliance on her own
opinions—silenced her at those last words. Her face clouded over on a sudden.
Before her sister could answer her she turned away abruptly and ran up stairs.
The door of the library opened
before Magdalen could follow her, and Miss Garth advanced to express the
sentiments proper to the occasion.
They were not the
mechanically-submissive sentiments which Magdalen had just heard. Norah had
struggled against her rooted distrust of Frank, in deference to the unanswerable
decision of both her parents in his favor; and had suppressed the open
expression of her antipathy, though the feeling itself remained unconquered.
Miss Garth had made no such concession to the master and mistress of the house.
She had hitherto held the position of a high authority on all domestic
questions; and she flatly declined
to get off her pedestal in
deference to any change in the family circumstances, no matter how amazing or
how unexpected that change might be.
"Pray accept my congratulations,"
said Miss Garth, bristling all over with implied objections to Frank—"my
congratulations, and my apologies. When I caught you kissing Mr. Francis Clare
in the summer-house I had no idea you were engaged in carrying out the
intentions of your parents. I offer no opinion on the subject. I merely regret
my own accidental appearance in the character of an Obstacle to the course of
true love—which appears to run smooth in summer-houses, whatever Shakspeare may
say to the contrary. Consider me for the future, if you please, as an Obstacle
removed. May you be happy!" Miss Garth's lips closed on that last sentence like
a trap; and Miss Garth's eyes looked ominously prophetic into the matrimonial
If Magdalen's anxieties had not
been far too serious to allow her the customary free use of her tongue she would
have been ready, on the instant, with an appropriately satirical answer. As it
was, Miss Garth simply irritated her. "Pooh!" she said, and ran up stairs to her
She knocked at the door, and
there was no answer. She tried the door, and it resisted her from the inside.
The sullen, unmanageable Norah was locked in.
Under other circumstances
Magdalen would not have been satisfied with knocking—she would have called
through the door loudly and more loudly till the house was disturbed, and she
had carried her point. But the doubts and fears of the morning had unnerved her
already. She went down stairs again softly, and took her hat from the stand in
the hall. "He told me to put my hat on," she said to herself, with a meek,
filial docility which was totally out of her character.
"CONSIDER ME FOR THE FUTURE, IF YOU PLEASE, AS AN OBSTACLE REMOVED."