Page images


solved it, and at least set about spending memory of a contemptuous laugh. Bowie as strenuously as they had gone about had perhaps laughed once too often, and making.

came near to paying for it with his life. The spending was ridiculously easy. Three months of wrestling with fever, New Orleans, a Paris in miniature, lay delirium, weakness as of a child, and he within arm's-length, as it were. A winter was up, riding hard, betting high, swear. there, ruffling it bravely, gaming with the ing great oaths, altogether himself again. best, and going the hottest pace of the But with a difference. He began to spectime, ate up money in lumps. The Bowie ulate in land, with fair success; farther, he brothers spent several such winters. In was never unarmed. It was before the between they had summers full of poli- time of bull-dogs, swamp-angels, and the tics, with much incidental diversion of like hip-pocket friends. Either the horsebrawls and fighting.

pistol or the hair-trigger duelling-pistol Now we are coming to the knife. It is was ill to carry about one's daily conthe direct outcome of one of these brawls.

Bowie found a way out of that. Bowie drank habitually, but rather in con- For his hunting he had made a local formity to social requirements than be- blacksmith forge him a sharp, keen knife cause he cared for liquor. No man ever from what had been originally the blacksaw him the worse for a glass. He was smith's own rasp. It had a two-edged rarely even flushed with wine. But few blade, nine inches long, of a faintly of the men about him had either such con- curved outline, and thick enough at the trol of themselves or heads so capable of back where it joined the handle to serve enduring a drinking-bout. When he had for sturdy hammering. For this he caused drunk them down they were apt to pick a neat spring-sheath to be made, attached quarrels, maudlin or bitter, according to it to a belt, and wore it constantly. their temperament.

He found it a friend in need, and trusty Usually Bowie let them pass. Most beyond words. More than once it saved likely he thought the anger no more than his life in desperate affrays. The time a fume of the wine. Perhaps, too, he was was heady and turbulent; party feeling diverted by it, in the same fashion that, as ran high; duels were plenty as blacka lad, he had been diverted by the antics berries. To the public mind they were of the bears he trapped. The snare he had a necessity. The man who would not set then for Bruin was a hollow cypress- fight “at the drop of a hat, and drop it knee filled with sharp iron spikes point- himself,” was soon made to feel that he ing in and downward, and baited at bot- had very much better not have been born. tom with a luscious honeycomb. Eager There were progressive duels, too, from to reach the sweet, Master Bear thrust in which the popular mind no more revolthis head, seized it, and made to rush away ed than it does in this era from progreswith it, but found it impossible. His sive whist or euchre.

It was head was in a wooden mask full of cruel them which gave Bowie and his knife to pricking points, and back as lustily as he fame. In some way there had come to might, the points went with him. Then be bad blood, black and bitter, between when he stood upright and tried to paw him and a certain Colonel Norris Wright. it away, he heard shrill boyish laughter, After long bickering, it was agreed to shriller cries, at last the ping of a bullet meet upon the levee opposite Natchez, or the swish of a knife-thrust; then he Mississippi, each with half a dozen friends, sank to rise no more.

duly armed, and there shoot the matter Possibly some memory of this came to out. There were a dozen on each side Bowie when, upon a fine summer day, when it came to fighting. The battle he found himself unarmed, yet attacked, was arranged to begin with threes, the shot, and left for dead. It was in what rest standing by, and coming in only was upon the surface a political quarrel. when those of the first fight were dead Bowie was not ambitious for himself, but or disabled. But they had miscalculated had an inveterate habit of backing and their own self-control. After the first defending friends of his own party. Most fire there was a general melée — the relikely some tang of personal affront or serves to a man gripped pistols hard, grievance gave edge and acridness to the drew knife-belts to a handy clutch, and clash of opinions. There are human tem- went into the combat to do or die. peraments that mind a blow less than the Seven did die — die in their tracks.

one of

Bowie, it appeared, was like to make an streaked and splotched with blood. Ineighth. He was down,desperately wound- deed, it could not help but be. The air, ed, weltering in his own spurting blood. the time, the people, were all calculated His chief antagonist bent over him, pos- to provoke it. Never was there a more sibly bent on succor, possibly also a picturesque commingling of human elecoup de grâce. Bowie struggled to his ments. Men of parts and breeding were elbow; there was a flash as of lightning, there — planters from the Eastern seaa hurtling thrust, the sound of a cracking board or central South, with the culture breastbone, and Wright lay dead, with the of the schools, maybe even the polish of original bowie-knife deep in his heart. a grand tour abroad. Frenchmen of long

The light made a great hue-and-cry. descent, and the subtlest courtesy too, The dead man had warm friends and pow- from the heart of Louisiana; a sprinkle erful ones. Bowie was thought to be as of Spanish grandees; a remnant of mongood as dead, else their vengeance would grel Mexicans, Apaches, and Comanches, have been sure and swift; but no swifter savagest of their tribes; Choctaws and than public inclination to wear and own Cherokees dissatisfied with new lands in a bowie-knife. Local smiths worked day the Indian Nation. More than and more and night forging and shaping them; yet powerful than all the rest were men the slow mails which took to Philadel- of Bowie's type, alert, hardy, punctilious, phia intelligence of the feud and its end, shrewdly far-sighted, utterly unafraid. took also orders for two hundred weapons Texas deserved them, welcomed them, like that which had ended it. They were took them to her prairie heart, made them to be made in all fashions; some with in- all free of her woods and streams and hills. laid hafts, some with silver and gold be- In many of the hills gold was thought dizenings upon hilt and scabbard. But to lie. There was grass for the herds the blade was the real thing. Upon its of an empire - grass that was cropped edge and temper life and more than life and trampled by countless legions of bufmight come to depend.

falo. Wild ponies ran there too, and Bowie did not die. It took a long time cattle beyond number. They had nomto conquer in his fight with the grim ad- inal owners, but brands were not strictly versary. Before he was in fighting trim kept nor sacredly respected. Wild fruit adverse partisans had thought better of abounded, particularly wild grapes. Bees their hotly expressed determination to had begun to fill the forests with honey. shoot him on sight. Even if they had It is a curious fact that the honey-gathnot, it is likely nothing sanguinary would ering tribes kept only a little way ahead have come of it. There was that in his of settlement. The Indians said, patheteye and countenance, especially when he ically, when they heard the buzzing and was at short pistol-range or well within watched the creatures wing away, “There the limits of knife-thrust, which served come the little white men. as an antidote to gratuitous blood-thirst. Texas had room for all-red men, white

Beyond question, it was this fight men, little white men. For her twenty odd which eventually banished Bowie, but not thousand souls she had a domain wherein through fear of resultant bodily harm. twenty millions would not have been For all his rough life, his reckless cour- uncomfortably crowded. Seven -tenths age, he had underneath a fine fibre of of the twenty thousand had come to her sensitiveness. It was touched in the from the United States. Not a few had quick, not by abuse of duelling and du- left behind them histories they preferred ellists, but by what he could not choose to keep untold; but there were many more but read in the grave faces and shadowed undistinguished, honest folk,or men whose eyes of the better sort of men. With the records were wholly admirable. If the reckless rough - riding element he was law's arm was short, life and property more than ever a hero. The trend of were still reasonably secure. They are that element was south westward. Bowie apt to be in communities where pretty went with it, not precipitately, but in well every man knows the Ten Comlanguid, mannerly fashion. It was 1830 mandments by heart, and does not shrink when it landed him in Texas, which, from burning powder for their due and though still a Mexican state, was quick proper enforcement. with revolt.

Between the Natchez duel in 1827 and Bowie's career there is a romance the time of his emigration Bowie had had several fights, and never come out second Bowie came into the city he had won best. In Texas he set his hand to another and wedded the Governor's daughter. sort of fighting. In 1831, with his bro. As to his life with her there is no record, ther Rezin, six other men, and a boy, he save that it was brief. Within two years set out upon a trading and exploring she bore him a child and died, taking the expedition through the heart of the Co- little one with her. Who knows but that manche country. At six days' travel the light of reunion to the best-beloved from possible succor he found his party played lambently over the scarlet death assailed by five hundred mounted war- at Alamo? riors, Comanches all, who rode like the When Texas declared for independence wind, yet shot with deadly aim. Resist- and called on her sons to fight for it, none ance seemed hopeless in the face of odds was readier for the fray than Bowie. He so great. Bowie took the one desperate was not self-seeking. In command with chance left him—and won the game. a colonel's commission, he resigned it and

He divided his forces, stationing three enlisted as a private, under Fannin, soonin one skirt of woods, with the pack- er than provoke dissension in the patriot animals, and scattering the rest about a army. But he could not keep out of the more considerable arborage. Each was commanding to which he was born any fully armed-had rifle, knife, and pistols. more than he could keep out of fighting. Powder and lead were plenty; also where- When Alamo was fought, he was in equal withal to eat and drink. Each grove had authority with Travis. General orders a spring in it. Close about the waters were signed by both. the white men lay or crouched, resolved, Before that grim day he had fought the “if they must die, to take at least a hun- Grass Fight, a skirmish that would be dred redskins with them."

amusing if its tragic sequel were lacking. Five days the fight went on. Swoop- Before the investiture of the Alamo the ing in clouds, the red riders dashed round, Mexican army lay in great force some round, ever nearing the devoted marks- miles away. It was rumored that a packmen, and sending toward them in whir- train with pannier-loads of silver money ring flight arrows and bullets thicker was coming in to pay the men. Bowie than hail. But the wheeling ended in and Travis thought such treasure might rout when it came within fair rifle-range. be put to better use upon the patriot side, The men crouching in cover made every so kept a sharp watch upon the hostile missile tell. Men and horses went down camp. Runners brought in word soon in struggling heaps at the sharp crack of that there was a pack-train, a long one their weapons. And they were so swift with bulging panniers, some little ways to load and fire that the chiefs easily per- off the Mexican position. Bowie went suaded themselves their enemy was out to capture it. He had only a handful hundred strong. But the attacking went of men, but these he bade to scatter in the on, until threescore braves were dead and high prairie grass in such wide order as as many more disabled, to say nothing of to make their shooting convince the train the ponies. Bowie had one man dead, guards that the whole Texan force was whom he buried reverently; one desper attacking them. In an hour they were ately wounded, whom he took away to so convinced, and ran away from their safety, although the attempt appeared to burros. The Texans took possession, and promise destruction to all the band. were fighting-mad at finding out that the

The biggest Texan town was San An- panniers held only grass. Forage was tonio de Bexar. It had been founded by needed for the Mexican cavalry, and the the fathers in the palmy days of Spanish train had been sent out to supply it. conquest, and was still the stronghold of So time, trotting hard withal, ushered Spanish influence, Spanish tradition, Span- in the days of Alamo. All the world has ish authority. It was capital of the prov- heard its story of investiture and leaguer ince, and owned not a few houses fine of full three thousand men pitted against after the old Spanish fashion. In one of one hundred and fifty; of the days of the very finest there lived General Vere- desperate fight, more desperate hope; of mendi, Governor of Texas. He had one expresses despatched in the face of what fair daughter, the very apple of his eye. seemed death bearing appeals for help, They were pure Castilians, with all the that even at this late day stir the blood hauteur of Spain; but not long after like a trumpet-call. It was the Bowie


type which made Alamo possible. Stra- and ball, played as a flail-a deadly flail tegically it is held to have been a mistake. —upon the heads of his enemies. Bowie, As an example of heroism unalloyed, it from his sick-bed, kept up so desperate a is worth its cost in the bravest blood ever fusillade he built a rampart of dead Mexspilled.

icans across the door of the small cham“Surrender, or the garrison will be put ber in which he lay. At last one Mexto the sword,” said Santa Anna, in the ican more thrust a musket over the name of Mexico. "Liberty or death!" barricade of dead men and sent a bullet answered Travis, speaking for all Texas. to Bowie's heart. Fitly has Texas inAnd so it came to pass upon that March scribed upon the monument reared to morning—the sixth day, in the year 1836 these, her martyrs: —that the fresh winds of Southern spring

Thermopylæ had its messenger of defeat; the time fluttered the blood-red banner, the

Alamo had none. sign of no quarter; the Southern echoes caught and repeated the air "Degüello," Ruthless as they were, Bowie's enemies which is, being interpreted, Cutthroat. honored him. Tradition vouches that All the Mexican bands played it as their they buried him apart from the mass of soldiers sprang to the charge. That was dead, saying, “He was too great a man at the earliest dawning. The sun was to sleep with common soldiers." He himhigh ere they made breach in the wall self would hardly have cared for such sepand swarmed wildly through. Travis, ulture. First and last, he was a man of his mortally wounded, was fighting still ; people--one with them in aims, in achieveCrockett's clubbed rifle, lacking powder ments, in passions, errors, and desires.





X this age of progress and restless ac- garet and Mary Brent, who were cousins

We are tempted to specthat all we are doing now is a climax to ulate as to what their condition at home what has gone before, it is surprising to must have been to make so courageous find in the early records of colonial Mary- and enterprising a step possible. land the prototype of what the nineteenth We find they brought with them five century calls the new woman.

men and four women. Being of the Lord This woman, all unconscious of her Proprietor's family, they were given fine unique position, is one Mistress Margaret manors. They managed their estates with Brent, kinswoman of Cecil Calvert, Lord masculine ability, and as their affairs prosBaltimore, the Proprietor of Maryland, pered, imported more settlers. They were and of his brother Leonard Calvert, the allowed manorial rights, and the records first governor of the colony.

tell us of a court-baron which was held at Leonard Calvert, as we know, and his Mary Brent's home, St. Gabriel's Manor, little following of twenty gentlemen and near the ancient city of St. Marys, the three hundred laboring - men, landed on capital of the province. the island of St. Clements, and celebrated With Mary Brent the records have littheir first mass in the New World, March tle to do, and we are left to infer that 25, 1634. When the news reached Eng- she lived out her life of single blessedland of the goodly land they had come to, ness undisturbed by “the world's ignoble of the fertile plains and broad streams, strife.” Not so with Margaret. In all our of the forests abounding in game, of the colonial history there is no figure which vines loaded with grapes, other colonists stands out more clearly than that of Miswere induced to follow in their wake. tress Margaret Brent, as with a strong

Four years later, on November 22, 1638, hand she took her part in the affairs of we find among the new arrivals in the her time. province the names of two sisters-Mar- It is chiefly as friend and adviser of

VOL. XCVII.-No. 578.-29

Leonard Calvert that she is conspicuous. tue of her position as his lordship's attorGovernor Calvert's lot seems to have fall- ney. Alas for Mistress Brent and her en in troublesome times and hard places. appreciation of the rights of her sex! The In 1643 he found it necessary to return to Governor promptly and ungallantly reEngland to confer with Lord Baltimore fused her. The injured lady, as her only about the affairs of the province. On his means of retaliation, protested against all return he found everything in a state of the acts of the session as invalid, unless disorder. An insurrection was brewing, her vote was received as well as the votes led by Claiborne, the Virginian, who was of the male members. admirably aided by one Richard Ingle, By this action Margaret Brent undoubtwho is branded as a pirate--a veritable edly placed herself on record as the first Captain Kidd of Maryland. Kent Island woman in America to make a stand for easily fell into the hands of Claiborne. the rights of her sex. It is surprising to The western shore was next invaded, and find how little this fact is known. In so the insurgents were everywhere success- comprehensive and authoritative a work ful. The town of St. Marys was taken, as the history of woman's suffrage edited and the unhappy Governor was compelled by Susan B. Anthony no mention is made to flee to Virginia for protection. For of this extraordinary woman. In fact, it nearly two years the rebels maintained is there stated that a Revolutionary dame, supreme power. The records of the prov- Mrs. Abigail Smith Adams, wife of John ince fell into their hands, and were muti- Adams, of Massachusetts, was the first lated or destroyed at their pleasure. Of champion of woman's rights in America. attempts at government we find not a In March, 1776, Mistress Adams wrote to trace; it was a period of anarchy. her husband, then at the Continental Con

Towards the end of 1646 Governor Cal- gress in Philadelphia: “I long to hear vert raised a small force of Virginians that you have declared for independency, and fugitive Marylanders, and pledging but I desire that you should remember his own and his brother's estates to pay the ladies .... If particular care is not them in good honest tobacco, entered St. paid the ladies ... we will not hold ourMarys, and soon the whole province glad- selves bound to obey laws in which we ly acknowledged his authority.

have no voice or representation.” Peace was thus restored, but Leonard We are not told how John Adams reCalvert did not long enjoy the fruits of plied to this epistle from his fair spouse, his efforts. On the 9th of June, 1647, this but we do know that in the famous Dewise and just man died. About six hours claration of Independence, where all men before his death he sent for his kinswo- are declared free and equal, the women man Margaret Brent, and, in the presence received no more consideration than did of the witnesses gathered around his bed- Margaret Brent nearly one hundred and side, said, “ Take all and pay all,” by this fifty years before. brief direction showing his confidence in But events show that Mistress Brent her ability above all others. He then ap- was none the less a ruling spirit in the pointed Thomas Green his successor as community. As we have already seen, Governor of Maryland.

when Leonard Calvert secured the serMistress Brent at once entered upon the vices of the Maryland and Virginia soldischarge of her duties with truly Eliza- diers in order to recover his province he bethan vigor. On the strength of her ap- pledged his own and Lord Baltimore's pointment as Governor Calvert's execu- estates for their pay. He was unhappitor she claimed the right of acting as the ly prevented by death from fulfilling his Lord Proprietor's attorney. This was al- pledge, and the soldiers, alarmed for their lowed her by the Maryland Assembly. remuneration, seemed ready for mutiny.

Now comes the most notable event of The weak and irresolute Governor her career. When, on the 24th of June, Green was not equal to the emergency; the Assembly of 1647-8 was in session, but Margaret Brent, seeing the danger, doubtless occupied with discussing the came ably to the rescue. She calmed affairs of the province, their rights as free- the soldiers, and paid them in full from men, etc., they were startled by the ap- Lord Baltimore's cattle. This action was pearance of Mistress Margaret Brent upon clearly not to his lordship's taste, and the scene, who demanded both voice and brought down his bitter wrath upon her. vote for herself in the Assembly by vir- But a splendid triumph was in store

« PreviousContinue »