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NEGRO SOLDIERS LIBERATING
GENERAL WILD'S late raid into the
interior of North Carolina abounded in incidents of peculiar interest, from
which we have selected a single one as the subject of the illustration on
representing liberation by the negro battalion of the slaves on Mr. Terrebee's
plantation. As the reader may imagine, the scene was both novel and original in
all its features. General Wild having scoured the peninsula between Pasquotank
and Little Rivers to
Elizabeth City, proceeded from the latter place
toward Indiantown in Camden County. Having encamped overnight, the column moved
on into a rich country which was covered with wealthy plantations. The scene in
our sketch represents the colored troops on one of these plantations freeing the
slaves. The morning light is shining upon their bristling bayonets in the
back-ground, and upon a scene in front as ludicrous as it is interesting. The
personal effects of the slaves are being gathered together from the outhouses on
the plantation and piled, regardless of order, in an old cart, the party
meanwhile availing themselves in a promiscuous manner of the Confiscation Act by
plundering hens and chickens and larger fowl; and after all of these preliminary
arrangements the women and children are (in a double sense) placed on an
eminence above their chattels and carted off in triumph, leaving "Ole Massa" to
glory in solitude and secession.
UNDER THE FLAG.
THE above is the title which we
have given to an illustration on page 53, adapted from an exquisite drawing by
Thomas, a well known English artist. The original sketch represents the little
girl holding a sprig of mistletoe over her grandfather's head—a Christmas emblem
not popularly understood in this country. For the mistletoe we have substituted
a miniature flag of the United States, an emblem which will be understood and
appreciated by all of our readers. The picture, in every other feature unaltered
from its original, will speak for itself both to the eye and heart. Let us hope
that another New-Year's may find not only our own households under the flag, but
also those of our enemies—turned friends.
[From CHARLES DICKENS'S "All the
WHITE HAND AND A BLACK THUMB.
IN THIRTEEN CHAPTERS.
ON the twelfth of March, one
thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven, Mr. Basil Humpage, merchant and
banking-agent, departed from his mansion, shaded by three big elms, in the rural
precinct of Jermyn Street, London, and never returned.
It may illustrate his unexampled
regularity to mention that, at the expiration of four minutes from the usual
time of the merchant's appearance at his office in Cripplegate, the old head
clerk turned pale, slid feebly down from his stool, and became temporarily
incapacitated from business. He tottered up and down with nervous steps, pausing
at every turn, now to gaze half incredulously at the clock, now to peer through
the glass partition which shut off his chief's apartment from the general
office, as if he thought it less improbable that that gentleman should have shot
up furtively through the cellarage than be missing altogether from his place.
For it was a well-known fancy of the worthy old merchant, who was frequently
before, never after, his time, to loiter about the door, in such a manner that,
with the last stroke of nine from the office-clock, he might insert his
latch-key, and with a general nod, and a "Good-morning, Middlemiss!" to the head
clerk, assume his accustomed seat, and commence the duties of the day.
Although Mr. Middlemiss was not a
man given to superstitious fancies, it might certainly seem from his bearing on
this occasion that the prophetic whisper which sometimes reaches us—who knows
from what remote birth-place?—far outspeeding all rational argument for anxiety,
had awakened in him a conviction of misfortune with which his reason refused to
contend. At all events, at ten minutes past nine the head clerk summoned his
best messenger, usually reserved for hurried and important missions, and
dispatched him, on foot indeed, but at double hackney-coach pace, to the house
of Three Elms.
We shall get there before him.
Mr. Humpage had risen, that
long-remembered morning, at his accustomed hour—half past six. There was nothing
remarkable in his demeanor or conduct, except that, on rising, he kissed his
wife—a circumstance which that lady attributed to their having had a little tiff
overnight. The misunderstanding had not been of a serious character, having
reference simply to the question whether Polly-my-Lamb should be condemned to
wear frilled pantaloons for six months longer, or pass at once into long short-waisted
gowns like her mother's. Sleep had interposed, and left the point undecided.
Polly-my-Lamb was the only child
of Basil and Alethea Humpage. The name was of her father's sole invention, but
had been adopted, first cautiously, then freely, by the entire neighborhood.
The chocolate was ready at half
past seven. Mr. Humpage not appearing, a maid went to his dressing-room door and
announced that her mistress was waiting breakfast; to which he returned no
answer. Another ten minutes, and maid Kezia went again, knocked, and repeated
her message. Still no reply.
Polly-my-Lamb was the next
embassador. The maid had met her on the stairs, and begged her to speak to
master, as she, Kezia, could not make him hear.
The little girl came flying back,
with her violet
eyes swimming in tears—she could
hardly tell why; perhaps it was from peeping through the keyhole; perhaps it was
because, for the first time in his life, papa had been deaf to the voice of his
darling. At all events, he had locked his door, and would make no audible reply.
Was he there? Yes, certainly. Nor could he have been seized with any sudden
illness; for she had heard his familiar step move steadily across the room, and
had further recognized the peculiar creak pertaining to a particular drawer in
his dressing-table, as he opened and reclosed it.
Past eight o'clock. It had now
become a matter of impossibility for the punctual merchant to eat his breakfast
and appear at his office at the accustomed time, and a suppressed alarm began to
extend through the household. Even deaf Stephen, the footman-butler, whose great
red ears had for the last thirty winters been simply ornamental, and who was in
the habit of relying for his knowledge of passing events purely upon his own
skill in physiognomy, perfectly understood that something was amiss, and pulled
off his coat, with the view, it was surmised, of being in a state of general
preparation and armament for whatever might ensue.
A thrilling scream from above
brought matters to a crisis below. The shriek was re-echoed by the cook, and
although to Stephen she only appeared to yawn, the movement that followed
quickly undeceived him. Up flew the whole phalanx, Stephen after. Mrs. Humpage
was on her knees at the dressing-room door, knocking, screaming, imploring, in
frantic alarm. He had hung himself, she declared, from the clothes-hook on the
door. She could hear his boot-heels kicking against it—forgetting, poor lady,
that if her suspicions were correct he could hardly be expected to comply with
her reiterated requests to open the door. The servants partook of their
mistress's impression. Does it seem strange that every body was so suddenly
plunged into consternation? Mr. Humpage had been but half an hour longer than
common over his dressing. But this was the first infraction of a custom of
two-and-twenty years. Self-imposed laws are the best observed. No member of that
orderly establishment, if questioned, would have considered any further
explanation necessary than that they knew "master's way."
Mrs. Humpage, making an eager
gesture which might be interpreted as an order to break in, Stephen the strong,
without further ceremony, put his broad knee against the door, which, secured
only by a slight catch, yielded instantly.
The first moment sufficed to
convince them that no one was in the apartment. The next, Stephen caught his
mistress by the arm, and somewhat peremptorily twisted her through the door. His
quick sight had managed to sweep in details he did not wish her to be among the
first to investigate. With the like determination he induced the other women to
quit the room, and then, putting a strong restraint upon his own anxious
curiosity, secured the door on the outside, and started off to the police-office
in Bow Street as fast as his legs would carry him.
A shrewd and able man was Sir
James Polhill, at that time chief magistrate; and he, after receiving a hasty
communication from Stephen, dispatched a sturdy individual in top-boots, white
neckcloth, and long red waistcoat—called a "runner" because they always
walked—to the house of Three Elms.
Isaac Surtees, the
constable-runner, subsequently deposed that, from information which had been
conveyed to him, and from certain directions he had received (Stephen had
reported "Sum'at wrong down our way," and the magistrate had ordered him to "see
about it"), he proceeded to Jermyn Street, Saint James's, where he observed a
crowd of persons assembled about the door of a house, Number Twenty-seven, by
the three great hellems, opposite the public, next the chapel, round the corner,
leftanside. There was much excitement in the neighborhood, especially in and
about the Three Jolly Counselors, partly owing to what had transpired at Number
Twenty-seven, partly to the promiscuous impalement of a little boy—by the
trowsers—on the spikes of the hairy, Number Twenty-seven aforesaid. Knocked at
the door, and was admitted in the ordinary way. ("Well, man, we don't suppose
you got down the chimney," growled the magistrate.) Scraped his shoes. There was
a large Tom cat in the passage.
"Get on, officer. You need not be
too precise," said the magistrate.
Likewise a door leading to a back
staircase, conducting to apartments on the first floor, through a gallery and
ante-room, down three steps, and up one, whereby you come to another room,
whereof Stephen Gould, the butler, which has lived in the family nigh
twenty-three years, and lost his hearing complete in the great fog of
'twenty-seven, produced from the left-hand pocket of his peach-colored velveteen
inexpressibles, the key.
The apartment—to condense Mr.
Surtees's report —was in much the same sort of confusion a gentleman might make
in dressing hastily. The things were thrown about. In the middle of the room was
a large pool of blood—other traces being noticeable in a direction toward the
window. The sash of the latter was up, one pane broken, and one cut clean out,
as if by a practiced hand. Two towels, on which bloody hands had been wiped, lay
near the washing-stand, on the floor. But the most significant trace of all
presented itself in the shape of a lock, or tuft of grizzled hair—pronounced by
Stephen to be his master's—which was picked up, soaked in blood, close beside
the window. There was nothing, apart from this, to indicate that a murderous
struggle had taken place, nor, indeed, was that compatible with circumstances at
a later period deposed to. The murder—if such it was—must have been effected
completely and suddenly, by surprise.
The motive? The closest scrutiny
failed to establish the fact that any article of value, with one exception, had
been taken away. That exception was the merchant's watch: a chronometer worth,
as he had been accustomed to declare, one hundred
pounds sterling. Not a drawer,
shelf, or cupboard, had been disturbed. Gold and silver money was scattered on
the table—a massive gold snuff-box, gold pencil-case, and other things of
undoubted value—all these were safe. The outrage, whatever its nature, and by
whomsoever perpetrated, had been clearly directed against the person, not the
property, of the missing man.
The singularity of the
circumstances, even at a period too much marked with desperate crimes, attracted
unusual attention. The merchant had been held in high esteem by a very large
circle of acquaintance; the magistrate himself, Sir James Polhill, had been of
the number of his friends.
After hearing the testimony of
the officer Surtees, and one or two other witnesses, Sir James took with him two
of his most astute thief-catchers, and went down in person to examine the
The window at which ingress must
have been effected was twenty-five feet from the ground. It was at the side of
the house fronting the elm-trees, and looked down upon a narrow but
well-frequented thoroughfare, faced on the off-side by an iron railing, and
leading into Piccadilly.
To believe that through such a
window, in broad daylight, a gentleman murderously assailed in the very midst of
his family and dependents, could have been either forcibly dragged or secretly
smuggled, and borne safely away, was more than the magistrate, familiar with the
modus operandi, and the usual hazards of crime, could school his mind to. It
seemed absolutely incredible that no alarm should have been given. Presuming
that a sudden and well-delivered blow had rendered the victim insensible, how
lower and transport away the inanimate body, without exciting the curiosity and
suspicion of the passengers, from whose presence the alley was scarcely for a
Sir James Polhill was leaning
from the window, revolving this question in his mind, and wondering, casually,
how far a slender leaden water-pipe which passed up to the roof almost within
arm's-reach might have been concerned with the burglar's successful entrance,
when a squabble of the boys in the foot-way attracted his attention.
A little burlesque of a highly
popular ceremony appeared to be in progress.
The smallest urchin of the group,
with his elbows pinioned, his hands tied, and a dirty Welsh night-cap half
concealing his blubbered face, was lifted on the shoulders of another, by way of
ladder, while an amateur Ketch in corduroys endeavored to adjust a fragment of
rope round his neck. A fourth performer, with his black, frouzy hair smoothed
down over his face, and a sheet of street-ballads in his hand, enacted the part
of reverend ordinary.
The juvenile culprit, however,
evinced a decidedly impenitent and contentious frame of mind. It was clear that
he repudiated the whole proceedings, and now writhed, kicked, and howled to an
extent that had already filled the narrow thoroughfare with deeply-interested
spectators, who, with an instinctive reverence for the more majestic aspects of
the law, offered no interposition whatever.
Annoyed, as well he might be, at
this unbecoming travesty of one of our most venerable and cherished
institutions, the excellent magistrate shouted angrily to the boys to disperse,
making signs, moreover, to one of his rosy-breasted followers, looming in the
distance, to scatter the tumultuous assemblage. The condemned urchin was quickly
reprieved, and, with the tears undried on his face, was in the act of joining
with the executioner and. chaplain in a savage dance round his deliverer, when
the latter was seen to pounce upon and recapture him.
After a minute, during which some
inquiry of much interest seemed to be proceeding, the officer entered the house,
accompanied by the boy, from whose neck he had taken the piece of cord. The boy
had been found with it in his hand early that morning, saying that he had picked
it up under the window of the dressing-room. It bore at that time fresh marks of
blood, and there was a noose at the end, which circumstance had perhaps
suggested to the juvenile population of the vicinity the little amusement that
had just been interrupted.
There was no reason to doubt the
boy's statement. After all, the discovery was of no great moment, suggesting
nothing more than a supposition that the cord might have been a portion of that
used in lowering the merchant's body. The crime and its perpetrators remained as
dark and doubtful as before.
Sir James dangled the rope
thoughtfully in his hand, as though weighing an imaginary criminal: "I am much
mistaken," he said, "if I do not perceive the print of a black thumb in this."
The officer glanced at his chief,
not at the rope, for he understood his meaning.
London—among its other public
scandals, tolerated no man knows how or why—was at that period infested by a
gang of skilled ruffians, organized and directed by the greatest miscreant of
the number, a fellow half-nobleman, half-gipsy, commonly known as "Lord Lob."
Touching this title the works of Sir Bernard Burke are silent; neither have we
been able to trace in the archives of the Heralds' College the arms and crest of
Lob. But there was at that time no question that the credit of having added this
unit to the human family was due to the wild and eccentric Earl of Hawkweed,
whose protection, for a long time freely afforded, this young villain had
alienated by a course of crime.
Seldom, even among the most
depraved, can an individual be found who loves guilt solely for the pleasure he
experiences in its commission. Human nature, fallen as it is, seems to proscribe
purposeless crime. If, however, we may put faith in this robber's recorded
history, he must have been an exception to the rule. It was known for certain
that he invariably refused to participate in the proceeds of any one of the
multitude of nefarious enterprises he planned and helped to execute. These were
generally of a lofty, that is to say, impudent range. My lord interested himself
in nothing of a low and pitiful character; nothing, in effect, that did not
demand both power of combination and hardihood. Victory was worthless without
the delight of strategy.
There were the points of a good
partisan leader about Lord Lob. Alas! that he had never skirmished against any
thing but law and justice, harassed nothing but social order, despoiled no foe
but his peaceful fellow-citizens!
The pillage of a bank, an opulent
City warehouse, a goldsmith's shop, the waylaying of a distinguished band of
travelers, the forging and uttering of notes of startling amount occasionally
(by way of change), the running a perfect argosy full of silk and spirits under
the very noses of the coast-guard—these were the meanest matters to which Lord
Lob's genius would willingly descend.
He had no need of much money. He
had wearied of smaller vices. Such poor excesses as drink and play he had
abandoned to the young aristocratic bloods of the day; but when he had
absolutely not a groat remaining, my lord would quietly saddle his brown pad,
and sallying forth on his favorite preserve, the Lincoln road, take the first
purse he judged weighty enough for present necessities. To do this at his
pleasure was the leader's sole prerogative; all other proceedings of the gang
being carried on in concert, and with a common end.
These gentlemen, who had given
themselves the name of the "Black-Thumbs," numbered about thirty, seldom more,
as it was thought that any larger circle might include a traitor or two; seldom
less, for no sooner did the insatiate maw of justice devour a member of the
brotherhood than another stepped eagerly into the shoes kicked off at the
gibbet. Such casualties, however, were far from numerous, even in those
regretted "good old days," when nothing in the range of endeavor was easier than
to get hanged; for every well-trained Black-Thumb was adroit as he was daring,
and there was, moreover, a law—which being the only one recognized by these
worthies, was observed with the more fidelity—that no member of their little
commonwealth should imperil his valuable existence in petty individual ventures
so long as any greater action was impending.
To their leader one and all were
heartily devoted, executing his orders—whatsoever they might be—with that blind
and absolute confidence which goes far toward insuring the result it
Hence, then, it befell, that
whenever any startling outrage, marked with peculiar features, was added to the
daily catalogue of crime, suspicion, as a thing of course, fastened upon the
dreaded Black-Thumbs, and hence the worthy magistrate believed he saw the
impression of these sooty digits in the deed he was investigating.
As yet, he felt, the conclusion
was premature, and suggested by the mysterious and motiveless character of the
What, in the first place, was its
It must have been one of three
things: A planned assassination. An interrupted burglary, with violence
supervening. A simple abduction, or kidnapping.
That it was a purposed
assassination seemed the least probable of all. The generous, frank old man had
not an enemy on earth. It was beyond the pale of likelihood that such a deed
should have been attempted under such circumstances, by day, in the victim's own
dwelling, when the slightest scuffle must provoke alarm. And then, what murderer
would multiply the chances of detection tenfold by seeking to remove the
The theory of an interrupted
robbery was surely negatived by the fact that those who carried off the body
might with infinitely greater facility have possessed themselves of the money
and valuables they came to seek. Such things, it has been stated, were lying
about where they could not escape notice, and in the very drawer that had been
heard to open and reclose there was found, on examination, a bank-bill of large
amount, and twenty-three guineas and a half in gold.
As touching the abductional
hypothesis, had the object been the charming little heiress, Polly-my-Lamb, the
enterprise, though lawless, were at least intelligible, but what advantage
commensurate with the hazard could accrue to the assailants from the possession
of the portly person of her excellent father?
After an interview with Mrs.
Humpage—a kind but weak-minded woman, whom alarm and anxiety had rendered nearly
imbecile—and with Polly-my-Lamb, who looked as white as a lily, but neither wept
nor lamented, the magistrate returned to his office in a mood of unaccustomed
depression. He endeavored to recall from some important country service an
officer named Henry Armour, distinguished no less for his bull-dog courage than
the sagacity with which he tracked the coldest scent. Mr. Armour, however, was
beyond recall. The game he had been hunting had, for once, given him the slip at
Liverpool, and made for North America. Without a moment's hesitation the stanch
pursuer had flung a brace of pistols into his valise, and had started in chase
by a ship then in the act of clearing out. So, for some months, Henry was not
The affairs of the missing
gentleman were found to be in perfect order and high prosperity. For the last
two or three years, as most of his friends were aware, he had been gradually
restricting the sphere of his commercial operations, with the intention of
withdrawing altogether from business as soon as practicable. This circumstance
greatly facilitated the scrutiny that took place. The result of it went to show
that Mr. Humpage had been in a position to retire with a fortune of upward of
ninety thousand pounds.
By the time this conclusion was
established poor Mrs. Humpage was no longer in a condition to take much interest
in the matter. Many months had now passed since her husband's disappearance, and
yet her health, whether bodily or mental, showed no symptom of recovering from
the shock it had sustained. On the contrary, as hope faded, her feebleness of
frame and disturbance of spirit augmented together. She was rapidly sinking into
imbecility, and presently conceived an idea that her husband was not only alive,
but in his own house, observing, however, some peculiar line of