Captain Clitheroe

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 5, 1862

This site contains an online archive of all Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers will allow you to develop unique insights into the events that made up the Civil War. The illustrations present eye-witness records of this important period in American History.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

Cumberland Gap

Cumberland Gap

Before Richmond

Before Richmond

Emancipation Bill

Emancipation Bill

Memphis Post Office

Memphis Post Office

Joe Hooker

General Joe Hooker

Memphis, Tennessee

Affairs in Memphis Tennessee

Silas Casey

General Silas Casey

Fairoaks Battle

Fairoaks Battle Description

Fairoaks

Fairoaks

Charleston

Charleston

Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge

   

Charleston Approach

Charleston Approach

Captain Clitheroe

Captain Clitheroe

Negro Cartoon

Negro Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[JULY 5, 1862.

430

THREESCORE AND TEN.

ROUND, round my life she wove a spell,        My head went whirling round as well,       And at a rate alarming;

My captured heart went "pitapat,"

With a loud double "rat-tat-tat,"

Ah, well, but it was charming!

As in my easy-chair I sit

(I'm getting old and bent a bit),

I think how Ella sly was;

Of all the pranks she used to play

To wheedle my poor heart away,

And what a "silly" I was.

 

Can it be she who, in a doze,

Sits opposite with nodding nose?

And by her side— Enough!

My "fire-dreams" are all dispelled;

That nose has "sniffed," those fingers held,
A pinch of double snuff!

Well, so it is, that in our life

We dream of some bewitching wife,

And set our hearts on beauty—

Nay, nay, I'm wrong, though snuff is there,

A charm dwells round that easy-chair

The WIFE has done her duty!

CAPTAIN CLITHEROE OF THE
TWENTY-THIRD.

I HAD come to Glen Iris stung with the pressure of a sharp pain. One I loved once, and loved still, had been false to me. I had been brought up as the only daughter and heiress of a rich man. When my father died suddenly his whole property was in a state of chaos—invested in grand schemes which, had he lived, might have realized his wishes, but which were neither comprehensible nor available by his executors. When all his affairs were settled there was, for my mother and myself, only a pittance of three thousand dollars—scarcely half the sum for our sole dependence that we had been used to spend with thoughtless self-indulgence in a single year. In this emergency my mother was helpless. She had been accustomed all her life to being guarded and protected, and she was as incapable of assuming responsibility as a child.

The same stroke that robbed me of my father and my fortune estranged my lover also. We had never been formally engaged—Norman Howard and I. He had told me, often enough, that he loved me; and we had made plans together about the future, through many a summer afternoon or winter evening. I had danced with him at Newport, with the sea-breeze tossing my hair and rustling the silken folds of my raiment. I had sung to him, talked to him, lived for him, twelve months, and I know that, all that time, he had no thought but that I should pass my future at his side. Still, with the carelessness of youth, we had not talked in so many words of marriage—no binding vow had passed between us. If there had been one, perhaps he might have kept it. As it happened, he was out of town when my father died, and when he came back my affairs were already made public. He was in a safe position to be prudent. He wrote me a note of condolence, a kindly, carefully worded note, in which he took it for granted that he must not intrude upon the sacredness of my grief—thus putting our acquaintance at once upon the plane of a common friendship.

How terribly that note stung me! How I suffered—silently, for I could not add my sorrows to the weary weight beneath which my poor mother was so utterly overwhelmed. Mine is emphatically a temperament, or was in those days, to which blessings brighten as they take their flight. This is true of most women, though all are not honest enough to confess it. A lover who is easy to win we may love sufficiently for our own comfort, perhaps; but given a serious difficulty or two in the way of winning him, a good, stubborn, roaring lion in the path, and our love intensifies itself to adoration at once.

While my father lived and Norman Howard was assiduous and constant in his attentions, I had been tormented with doubts as to my own regard for him—had wondered if he were capable of arousing the utmost intensity of my heart; but no sooner did I find that he had bowed himself politely off the stage than I abandoned myself to the wild, unreasoning grief of eighteen, longed for death, and felt entirely sure that earth held for me no possible consolation, present or future.

Putting all sentimental sorrows aside, the world wore a dark enough aspect just then. I knew not how we were to live. I was utterly barren of resources or expedients.

My friends had followed in the wake of my lover and my fortune. It was so long since I had seen one of them that I could scarcely believe my eyes when Mrs. Winslow Morgan's card was handed to me one spring morning.

She was the wife of the lawyer who had arranged my father's affairs—a man of high rank in his profession, as well as rich by inheritance, and the peer in birth and breeding of the proudest. I had often met Mrs. Morgan in society; but I had only seen the surface of her life—met her as we meet any one who helps us tie rose garlands round the hours we are wasting. That she should have called on me now was matter of profound astonishment. I took a sort of sullen pride in receiving her in my plain mourning calico—conforming, as I called it, to my altered fortunes. I believe my manner was sufficiently haughty and unamiable; but she did not seem to notice it. She talked with me for a while on indifferent subjects; then she asked me if I had made any plans for the coming summer. I was vexed at what seemed to me an impertinent liberty; and I answered that she would hardly expect me to flourish at Newport or Saratoga, so I should not be likely to have the pleasure of meeting

her. She was very patient; almost apologizing, as if it had been she, not I, that was in fault.

"Forgive me," she said, "forgive me, dear Miss Tremaine. I did not mean to wound you. I only asked the question as the easiest way of arriving at what I wished to say. But plain speaking is always best. Mr. Morgan told me that you had intimated to him a desire to do something for your own support, and I had a proposal to make to you. I am sure you would not fancy teaching—you have not the temperament to be happy or successful in it; and I did not know but you might like to fill a position for which I am commissioned to find a suitable incumbent. My brother, Miles Clitheroe, is proprietor of the large calico mills at Glen Iris, He is in want of a designer to get up his patterns, and it seems to me that this occupation might just suit you. Do you remember drawing those flowers and bits of sea-weed which we all admired so much at Newport last summer? I know you love sketching, and I think you could make it quite as remunerative as any thing else you could do."

Here she mentioned a salary liberal beyond my hopes, including a pleasantly-situated cottage home for my mother and myself. All this time I had not interrupted her. Now she waited for me to speak.

"I am ashamed," I said, earnestly, "to accept your great kindness, when I think how ungraciously I received you. How little I imagined that you came on such an errand! The employment is exactly what I should like best, and nothing could be so welcome as the prospect of a new home, far away from all past associations."

"Then you accept?"

"With thanks which I won't try to shape into words. Mrs. Morgan, when you came I felt as helpless and as hopeless as if I were shipwrecked on an island where no sail ever comes. You have brought me hope—a new lease of life."

Mrs. Morgan looked at me smilingly, with her kindly yet shrewd eyes. She said—

"You are eighteen, an age when we are as extravagant in our gratitude as in our despair. You owe me no thanks. I have been acting as much for my brother's interest as yours. I am selfish, too, a little. I come to Glen Iris for a month of every summer. I shall be glad to find a friend there."

In two weeks' time I was settled in my new home. Mr. Clitheroe had been absent at the time of my arrival, unavoidably, Mrs. Morgan said; but the overseer of the works had rendered me all needful assistance, and already I was as comfortably settled as if I had lived there a twelvemonth. The change seemed to do my mother much good. She was charmed with our new home, than which, indeed, I had never seen any thing lovelier. Our cottage stood on a high bluff overhanging the river. It was sheltered by higher hills, crowned with forest trees in the rear. In front, on the other side of the river, stretched miles of pastoral peace. The river itself was a rapid, rushing stream, fretting its way over rocks and through gorges; with now and then a break, where its bed was smooth, and its tranquil waters mirrored the overhanging tree-boughs and the clouds of sunset and dawning. Below us, half a mile farther down the stream, were the great mills, and the thickly clustering houses where the workmen lived. Mr. Clitheroe's own stately mansion, built of a beautiful gray stone, was above us, half hidden from our view by the trees.

I knew he had come home, and I expected he would call that evening. I had dressed myself with some care for the occasion. I was anxious to produce an agreeable first impression, for I was dependent on his patronage for my sole prospects of a comfortable future. I had been called a beauty in the days when I was considered a rich heiress. In those days I had not troubled myself to decide whether the general verdict was true; but to-night I looked at myself more critically, and was convinced that it was not. My features were irregular; though my skin was clear it was dark; and my hair and eyes were black as a Spanish woman's. There might be a charm in such features when kindled by love or enthusiasm; but in repose, as I looked at them in my mirror, I saw little to attract. It was not the style of face to show well in my sombre black attire. Bright colors did wonders for me—hitherto I had always worn these. Now, I thought, if my future success depended on my beauty my prospects were not flattering.

I went to the door and looked out. The flush of the early summer, the fair promise of the June, rested in dreamy tenderness over all the landscape. Rock and river, field and sky, it seemed like a fairy realm whence trouble and care were banished. And yet, as I looked longer, there seemed a pensive sorrow in the scene: not grief exactly, but something which whispered how soon the glory would pass—how brief was the spell—and so made us love it all the better.

As I looked a gentleman came down the rocky path from the stone mansion on the hill. Of course it was Mr. Clitheroe. I shall remember always how he looked to me as I saw him first in that June twilight. About him, at least, there was nothing dreamy. He was a tall, vigorous man, who might have served for an illustration of muscular Christianity. His face was a firm, manly one, with its well-cut features, its decided mouth, and the clear-seeing hazel eyes, which yet kept their own secrets. He wore a full, brown beard, and his hair, a shade darker, was thick and strong. Every thing about him betokened endurance, courage, energy—but, I thought then, no especial tenderness or sentiment. He was unmistakably a gentleman. Not finical in his politeness; not even very graceful; but with the true spirit and essence of courtesy pervading his whole demeanor.

Meeting thus on the very threshold of my dwelling he needed no introduction.

"Miss Tremaine, of course," he said, with a cordial smile; and I expressed in polite phrase my pleasure at meeting Mr. Clitheroe.

He came in and sat for an hour. I liked him exceedingly. I had never seen a man whom I

would have preferred as a friend. He seemed so thoroughly dependable. I liked to hear him talk. He was not eloquent, but he had a manly, straightforward way of arriving at conclusions. He was fearless and independent in thought; and I felt sure he would never swerve in practice from the inflexible law of right. Duty with him would be duty, no matter over what rugged paths, to what scenes of pain, or peril, or even death itself, she should lead him on. Yet he was very far from fascinating. I had heard his sister speak of him with an enthusiasm which I hardly comprehended; for he did not seem to me a man about whom it would be possible to weave romance or sentiment.

"What do you think of him?" I asked my mother, after he had left us.

"I think he is good, Florence."

It was her sole comment; and I came afterward to know how true it was.

The summer passed on, and I saw him often. As strangers in a place which offered little opportunity for making congenial friends it was natural that he should be attentive to us, and he was. His society was my only recreation, and I grew to take real pleasure in it—as much pleasure, at least, as I could take in any thing. My heart was heavy enough in those days. If my father had lived, and—remaining in my former position—any thing had separated me from Norman Howard, I do not think I should have suffered very deeply. Probably I should very soon have seen some one who possessed equal attractions for me; and, at any rate, with so many sources of pleasure at hand, I should have found it easy enough to forget one fickle boy. Now the case was different. I had a great many long, lonely hours, and I spent them in brooding over and idealizing the past.

Mr. Howard sang well, and danced, admirably. He had almost brought his brilliant playing to the perfection of a science. He was handsome. His coats were made in Paris, and his hatter hung out his sign on the Rue de Rivoli. I believe these were his chief attractions—his salient points. You will confess it did my imagination credit that I should have been able to idealize him into the one man of the universe—a chevalier sans peur et sans reproche. I wore widow's weeds mentally for this New York Bayard of mine. I even managed to grow pale and thin, and I began to write melancholy verses descriptive of the place where I wanted to take my final repose. I sang to a dirge-like air, as I sat over my drawings:

"Come not, when I am dead,

To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave

To trample round my fallen head,

And vex the unhappy dust thou wonldst not save. There let the wind sweep and the plover cry,

But thou—go by."

I used to wonder whether even his hard heart would not be moved if, some day, he should read upon a tombstone my name—that pretty name he had praised so often—Florence Tremaine.

When Mrs. Morgan came, in August, I made a merit to myself of not being infected by her exuberant happiness. Realizing the change in my circumstances, I think she attributed my melancholy to that cause, and so pitied and forgave it.

She had been gone two months when one night Mr. Clitheroe came and asked me to walk with him. I was looking worn, he said, and he was sure I needed air and exercise. I looked toward my mother. It was her nature to rely utterly on some one; to take what that some one said on trust, and be thankful to be saved the trouble of forming an opinion. My dear father had been her oracle while he lived—now it was Mr. Clitheroe. Of course she seconded him on this occasion, and made me get my bonnet and shawl.

We walked silently for a time, climbing up the rocky path which led by his gray stone mansion, and pausing at length on the summit of a hill which commanded the whole rich and beautiful landscape. I sat down to rest for a few moments on a rustic seat, and he stood at a little distance. I remember stealing a look at him as he stood there, his bold, manly figure clearly defined against the sunset sky, and his face tender, more tender than I had ever seen it, with some unspoken thought. At length he drew nearer to me, and said, its a low tone which vet went straight to my heart,

"Florence Tremaine, I am not skilled in lover's phrases—I never said before to any woman what I now say to you. But if my words are abrupt my heart is true. I love you. You have grown into my life until I care for no future unless you share it. Can you love me, child?"

It flashed through my thoughts in an instant what a blessed thing it would be if I could love him—how much his proposal proffered me!—love, not only, but ease, rest, freedom from care, a guide, a friend, a protector. If only Norman Howard had never crossed my path! But I could not wrong may own nature by marrying, for any worldly reason, Miles Clitheroe, when my whole heart was full of another image.

Whatever my faults were I was honest, and not ungenerous. I told Mr. Clitheroe the whole truth. I concealed nothing—not even the longing I had had to die—the utter weariness of life.

That man had a noble nature. Some would have turned from me with vexation or indifference. He did not. Loving me intensely, as I knew he did—I, who had never been intensely loved before—he did not seem to think at all of his own suffering, his heart was so full of pity for mine. He laid his hand on my hair, and said, oh! so sadly, "Poor child! poor Florence!" I believe at that moment he would have given up all his own hopes with joy but to have secured me the fulfillment of mine. Standing beside him, a feeling of how good he was—a sense of his compassion, so tender and so generous—stole into my heart, and I felt that I could not give up all his regard. Clinging to his hand, I cried, passionately, "Do not take your friendship away from me, Mr. Clitheroe. You do not know how mach I care for it. It is the only comfort I have left in life. Think how lonely we should be if you should stay away! Promise to like me still—to come and see

us as often as you used, or you will break my heart."

He took my hand tenderly into his own. He bent over me, and whispered,

"I will never break your heart, little Florence. You shall never suffer a pang which I can spare you. Do not think that your brave honesty, of which not one woman in a thousand would have been capable, can alienate my friendship from you. I will not stay away from you, or change toward you. I will never be less your friend; only I will try to think of you differently—think of you as one who can never be mine."

Oh the unutterable pathos that thrilled in his voice as he said those words! I could never forget it. I should know all my life long that one man had loved me.

We went home after that. Somehow the face of the night seemed changed. The moon that rose looked like a phantom moon, gazing from the depths of a past, far-off and irrevocable. At my door we parted. He asked me to make his excuses to my mother—he could not come in that night.

I kept my own counsel. I would not pain my mother, or wrong him, by hinting aught to her of the love I had rejected. I did not understand my own feelings at all; if I had I should have known that a chord had been struck in my heart which had never vibrated to the touch of Norman Howard.

After this the weeks wore on, the harvest-moon waned, the November winds blew their dirge notes, the Christmas bells rang, and then the new year came in, white with snows, pale with prophecies of the events it was bringing us—1861.

All this time Mr. Clitheroe kept his word. He came to see us as frequently as ever. He was just as good. No son could have been more devoted to my mother—no brother more thoughtfully kind to me. But there was a difference which I felt. He was too kind, too brotherlike. I could see that he was keeping his word—thinking of me as one who could never be his. And after a while this became sharp pain. Somehow —I never knew how or when—the pale phantom of a dead love, whose visitations I had so long sought for and welcomed, ceased entirely to haunt me. It would not come when I did call for it; and I knew it was because it had been the ghost of a dream, not of a reality. I knew that my love for Norman Howard had never been the passionate outpouring of a woman's heart; it had been but the nursling of idleness and sentimentality. It would have moved me no more to meet him now than to have seen may old music-master at the street corner. And now also I knew that I did love at length—that all the happiness I ever cared to have was in Miles Clitheroe's gift.

But I myself had shut the door against him by which he sought to enter my heart, and I could never be such a traitor to my womanhood as to raise a signal of distress. Let the ship go down if she must, and the black waters of oblivion close over her; better so than to seek inglorious safety. And now I was not sentimental or mock-heroic; I was simply womanly.

I used to sit and watch furtively Mr. Clitheroe's face sometimes when he was reading to us. What a strong, masterful face it was! I had never seen those clear hazel eves misty with tears or with tenderness—never save that one night. I wondered if he had forgotten it. Could the love be dead which had moved him so powerfully then—which spoke in word, and tone, and eye-glance? Be it dead or living, he made no sign. I had sealed my own fate when I told him I was ready to die for Norman Howard. I began to hate that old memory as fiercely as I had ever cherished it.

Now indeed I began to wish I had not so earnestly entreated Mr. Clitheroe to continue his visits. It was hard to meet him as his mere friend should when I remembered what words he had said to me once—words which no man was ever likely to say again, which I should never care to hear from any other. I longed to go away from Glens Iris—away from him—where the thought of what might have been would never spring into life at sight of his face.

At length events came, so mighty and so unlooked-for, that every one was ashamed to think of themselves. Men and women forgot their private sorrows in the hour of their country's peril, and the whole nation's heart beat as one heart in response to the guns fired at Sumter.

It was late in April when one afternoon Mr. Clitheroe came to our cottage. My mother was lying down in her own room. I was quite alone in the little parlor. It had become a daily event for him to come in after meal-time and tell me what was doing. As usual, he gave me the brief summary. Then, looking at him, I saw he had more to say. Soon it came:

"I am going too, Florence. I have raised a company from among my own men. They are used to me, and they will obey me better than any one else. I have just written to my sister, and you are the only other friend I care to tell. Will you bid me God-speed?"

I meant to answer bravely.

"God-speed you, and God bless—" I got so far, and then every thing grew dark about me. I had never fainted before, and I thought I was dying. It was my last thought before the darkness closed round me.

When I opened my eyes again I was lying on the sofa, and he was bending over me with the old look in his eyes—the look they had worn that night. He had not called even my mother. Tenderly as a woman he had bathed my face, and waited for my recovery. When he saw that I was better he said,

"Was it the thought of my peril that moved you so? Florence, do you love me at last?"

"I never loved any one else!" I cried. "Oh believe me! If it is too late for you to give me back what you offered me once, still you must believe the truth. That other was no love; it was a girlish folly, and I grew morbid and sentimental over it, because, after misfortune overtook me, I had nothing else to think about. I have known, (Next Page)


 

 

  

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