Border and Bastille

Biography & Autobiography/
#Biography & Autobiography #Personal Memoirs & Diaries
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Excerpt When, late in last autumn, I determined to start for the Confederate States as soon as necessary preparations could be completed, I had listened, not only to my own curiosity, impelling me at least to see one campaign of a war, the like of which this world has never known, but also to the suggestions of those who thought that I might find materials there for a book that would interest many here in England. My intention, from the first, was to serve as a volunteer-aide in the staff of the army in Virginia, so long as I should find either pen-work or handiwork to do. The South might easily have gained a more efficient recruit; but a more earnest adherent it would have been hard to find. I do not attempt to disguise the fact that my predilections were thoroughly settled long before I left England; indeed, it is the consciousness of a strong partisan spirit at my heart which has made me strive so hard, not only to state facts as accurately as possible, but to abstain from coloring them with involuntary prejudice. To say nothing of my being afterwards backed by the powerful Secessionist interest at Baltimore, the introductory letters furnished me by Colonel Dudley Mann and Mr. Slidell, addressed to the most influential personages—civil and military—in the Confederacy, from President Davis downwards, were such as could hardly have failed to secure me the position I desired, though they benevolently over estimated the qualifications of the bearer. To the first of these gentlemen I am indebted for much kindness and valuable advice; to the second I am personally unknown; and I am glad to have this opportunity of acknowledging his ready courtesy. It was Colonel Mann who counseled my going through the Northern States, instead of attempting to run the blockade from Nassau or Bermuda, as I had originally intended. In spite of the events, I am so certain that the advice was sound and wise, that I do not repent—scarcely regret—having followed it. I need not particularize the precaution taken to insure the safe delivery of these credentials: it is sufficient to state that they were never submitted to Federal inspection; nor had I ever, at any time, in my possession, a single document which could vitiate my claim to the rights of a neutral and civilian. Even Mr. Seward did not pretend to refuse liberty of unexpressed sympathy with either side to an utter foreigner. While I was a free agent in the Northern States, I was careful to indulge in no other. Since my return, I hear that some one has been kind enough to insinuate that I might have succeeded better if I had been more careful to prosecute my journey South with vigor at any risk; or if I had been less imprudent in parading my object while in Baltimore. I prefer to meet the first of these assertions by a simple record of facts, and by the most unqualified denial that it is possible to give to any falsehood, written or spoken. As to the second—really quite as unfounded—it may be well to say, that before I had been a full fortnight in America, I was "posted" in the literary column of "Willis' Home Journal." I could not quarrel with the terms in which the intelligence—avowedly copied from an English paper—was couched. The writer seemed to know rather more about my intentions—if not of my antecedents—than I knew myself; but I can honestly say that the halo of romance with which he was pleased to surround a very practical purpose, did not however compensate me for the inconvenient publicity. This paragraph soon found its way into other journals, and at last confronted me—to my infinite disgust—in the "Baltimore Clipper," a bitter Unionist organ. Perhaps this will answer sufficiently the accusation of "parade," for even had we been disposed to indulge in an "alarum and flourish of trumpets," the sensation-mongers would have anticipated the absurdity. Besides this, my movements were not in anywise interfered with up to the moment of my arrest, when we were miles beyond all Federal pickets. My captors, of course, had never heard of my existence till we met....
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