Saturday, October 13, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Princess Olive A Famous Impostor


The story of Mrs. Olive Serres, as nature made it, was one thing; it was quite another as she made it for herself. The result, before the story was completely told, was a third; and, compared with the other, one of transcendent importance. Altogether her efforts, whatsoever they were and crowned never so effectively, showed a triumph in its way of the thaumaturgic art of lying; but like all structures built on sand it collapsed eventually. In the plain version—nature’s—the facts were simply as follows. She, and a brother of no importance, were the children of a house painter living in Warwick, one Robert Wilmot, and of Anna Maria his wife. Having been born in 1772 she was under age when in 1791 she was married, the ceremony therefore requiring licence supported by bond and affidavit. Her husband was John Thomas Serres who ten years later was appointed marine painter to King George III. Mr. and Mrs. Serres were separated in 1804 after the birth of two daughters, the elder of whom, born in 1797, became in 1822 the wife of Antony Thomas Ryves a portrait painter—whom she divorced in 1847. Mrs. A. T. Ryves twelve years later filed a petition praying that the marriage of her mother, made in 1791, might be declared valid and she herself the legitimate issue of that marriage. The case was heard in 1861, Mrs. Ryves conducting it in person. Having produced sufficient evidence of the marriage and the birth, and there being no opposition, the Court almost as a matter of course pronounced the decree asked for. In this case no complications in the way of birth or marriage of Mrs. Serres were touched on.
Robert Wilmot, the house-painter, had an elder brother James who became a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, and went into the Church, taking his degree of Doctor of Divinity. Through his College he was presented in 1781 to the living of Barton-on-the-heath, Warwickshire. The Statutes of his College contained a prohibition against marriage whilst a Fellow. James Wilmot D. D. died in 1807 leaving his property between the two children of Robert, after life-use by his brother. James and Robert Wilmot had a sister Olive, who was born in 1728 and married in 1754 to William Payne with issue one daughter, Olivia, born in 1759. Robert Wilmot died in 1812.

Out of these rough materials Mrs. Olive Serres set herself in due course to construct and carry out, as time and opportunity allowed, and as occasions presented themselves and developed, a fraudulent romance in real life and action. She was, however, a very clever woman and in certain ways—as was afterwards proved by her literary and artistic work—well dowered by nature for the task—crooked though it was—which she set for herself. Her ability was shown not only by what she could do and did at this time of her life, but by the manner in which she developed her natural gifts as time went on. In the sum of her working life, in which the perspective of days becomes merged in that of years, she touched on many subjects, not always of an ordinary kind, which shewed often that she was of conspicuous ability, having become accomplished in several branches of art. She was a painter of sufficient merit to have exhibited her work in the Royal Academy in 1794 and to be appointed landscape-painter to the Prince of Wales in 1806. She was a novelist, a press writer, an occasional poet and in many ways of a ready pen. She was skilled in some forms of occultism, and could cast horoscopes; she wrote, in addition to a pamphlet on the same subject, a book on the writings of Junius, claiming to have discovered the identity of the author—none other than James Wilmot D. D. She wrote learnedly on disguised handwriting. In fact she touched on the many phases of literary effort which come within the scope of those who live by the work of their brains. Perhaps, indeed, it was her facility as a writer that helped to lead her astray; for in her practical draughtsmanship and in her brain teeming with romantic ideas she found a means of availing herself of opportunities suggested by her reckless ambition. Doubtless the cramped and unpoetic life of her humble condition in the house-painter’s home in Warwick made her fret and chafe under its natural restraint. But when she saw her way to an effective scheme of enlarging her self-importance she acted with extraordinary daring and resource. As is usual with such natures, when moral restraints have been abandoned, the pendulum swung to its opposite. As she had been lowly she determined to be proud; and having fixed on her objective began to elaborate a consistent scheme, utilising the facts of her own surroundings as the foundation of her imposture. She probably realised early that there must be a base somewhere, and so proceeded to manufacture or arrange for herself a new identity into which the demonstrable facts of her actual life could be wrought. At the same time she manifestly realised that in a similar way fact and intention must be interwoven throughout the whole of her contemplated creation. Accordingly she created for herself a new milieu which she supported by forged documents of so clever a conceit and such excellent workmanship, that they misled all who investigated them, until they came within the purview of the great lawyers of the day whose knowledge, logical power, skill and determination were arrayed against her. By a sort of intellectual metabolism she changed the identities and conditions of her own relations whom I have mentioned, always taking care that her story held together in essential possibilities, and making use of the abnormalities of those whose prototypes she introduced into fictional life.

The changes made in her world of new conditions were mainly as follows: Her uncle, the Reverend James, who as a man of learning and dignity was accustomed to high-class society, and as a preacher of eminence occasionally in touch with Crown and Court, became her father; and she herself the child of a secret marriage with a great lady whose personal rank and condition would reflect importance on her daughter. But proof, or alleged proof, of some kind would be necessary and there were too many persons at present living whose testimony would be available for her undoing. So her uncle James shifted his place and became her grandfather. To this the circumstances of his earlier life gave credibility in two ways; firstly because they allowed of his having made a secret marriage, since he was forbidden to marry by the statutes of his college, and secondly because they gave a reasonable excuse for concealing his marriage and the birth of a child, publicity regarding which would have cost him his livelihood.

At this point the story began to grow logically, and the whole scheme to expand cohesively. Her genius as a writer of fiction was being proved; and with the strengthening of the intellectual nature came the atrophy of the moral. She began to look higher; and the seeds of imagination took root in her vanity till the madness latent in her nature turned wishes into beliefs and beliefs into facts. As she was imagining on her own behoof, why not imagine beneficially? This all took time, so that when she was well prepared for her venture things had moved on in the nation and the world as well as in her fictitious romance. Manifestly she could not make a start on her venture until the possibility vanished of witnesses from the inner circle of her own family being brought against her; so that she could not safely begin machinations for some time. She determined however to be ready when occasion should serve. In the meantime she had to lead two lives. Outwardly she was Olive Serres, daughter of Robert Wilmot born in 1772 and married in 1791, and mother of two daughters. Inwardly she was the same woman with the same birth, marriage and motherhood, but of different descent being (imaginatively) grand-daughter of her (real) uncle the Rev. James Wilmot D. D. The gaps in the imaginary descent having been thus filled up as made and provided in her own mind, she felt more safe. Her uncle—so ran her fiction—had early in his college life met and become friends with Count Stanislaus Poniatowski who later became by election King of Poland. Count Poniatowski had a sister—whom the ingenious Olive dubbed “Princess of Poland”—who became the wife of her uncle (now her grandfather) James. To them was born, in 1750, a daughter Olive, the marriage being kept secret for family reasons, and the child for the same reason being passed off as the offspring of Robert the housepainter. This child Olive, according to the fiction, met His Royal Highness Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of the King, George III. They fell in love with each other and were privately married—by the Rev. James Wilmot D. D.—on 4 March 1767. They had issue one daughter, Olive, born at Warwick 3 April 1772. After living with her for four years the Duke of Cumberland deserted his wife, who was then pregnant, and in 1771 married—bigamously, it was alleged—Lady Anne Horton, sister of Colonel Luttrell, daughter of Lord Irnham, and widow of Andrew Horton of Catton, Derbyshire. The (alleged) Royal Duchess died in France in 1774, and the Duke in 1790.

Thus fact and fiction were arrayed together in a very cunning way. The birth of Olive Wilmot (afterwards Serres) in 1772 was proved by a genuine registry. Likewise that of her daughter Mrs. Ryves. For all the rest the certificates were forged. Moreover there was proof of another Olive Wilmot whose existence, supported by genuine registration, might avert suspicion; since it would be difficult to prove after a lapse of time that the Olive Wilmot born at Warwick in 1772 daughter of Robert (the house-painter), was not the granddaughter of James (the Doctor of Divinity). In case of necessity the real date (1759) of the birth of Olive Wilmot sister of the Rev. James could easily be altered to the fictitious date of the birth of “Princess” Olive born 1750.

It was only in 1817 that Mrs. Serres began to take active measures for carrying her imposture into action; and in the process she made some tentative efforts which afterwards made difficulty for her. At first she sent out a story, through a memorial to George III, that she was daughter of the Duke of Cumberland by Mrs. Payne, wife of Captain Payne and sister of James Wilmot D. D. This she amended later in the same year by alleging that she was a natural daughter of the Duke by the sister of Doctor Wilmot, whom he had seduced under promise of marriage. It was not till after the deaths of George III and the Duke of Kent in 1820, that the story took its third and final form.

It should be noticed that care was taken not to clash with laws already in existence or to run counter to generally received facts. In 1772 was passed the Royal Marriage Act (12 George III Cap. 11) which nullified any marriage contracted with anyone in the succession to the Crown to which the Monarch had not given his sanction. Therefore Mrs. Serres had fixed the (alleged) marriage of (the alleged) Olive Wilmot with the Duke of Cumberland as in 1767—five years earlier—so that the Act could not be brought forward as a bar to its validity. Up to 1772 such marriages could take place legally. Indeed there was actually a case in existence—the Duke of Gloucester (another brother of the King) having married the dowager Countess of Waldegrave. It was of common repute that this marriage was the motive of the King’s resolve to have the Royal Marriage Act added to the Statute book. At the main trial it was alleged by Counsel, in making the petitioner’s claim, that the King (George III) was aware of the Duke of Cumberland’s marriage with Olive Wilmot, although it was not known to the public, and that when he heard of his marriage with Lady Anne Horton he was very angry and would not allow them to come to Court.

The various allegations of Mrs. Serres as to her mother’s marriage were not treated seriously for a long time but they were so persisted in that it became necessary to have some denial in evidence. Accordingly a law-case was entered. One which became a cause célèbre. It began in 1866—just about a hundred years from the time of the alleged marriage. With such a long gap the difficulties of disproving Mrs. Serres’ allegations were much increased. But there was no help for it; reasons of State forbade the acceptance or even the doubt of such a claim. The really important point was that if by any chance the claimant should win, the Succession would be endangered.

The presiding judge was the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Cockburn. With him sat Lord Chief Baron Pollock and the Judge Ordinary Sir James Wilde. There was a special jury. The case took the form of one in the English Probate Court made under the “Legitimacy Declaration Act.” In this case, Mrs. Ryves, daughter of Mrs. Serres, was the petitioner. Associated with her in the claim was her son, who, however, is of no interest in the matter and need not be considered. The petition stated that Mrs. Ryves was the legitimate daughter of one John Thomas Serres and Olive his wife, the said Olive being, whilst living, a natural-born subject and the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland and Olive Wilmot, his wife. That the said Olive Wilmot, born in 1750, was lawfully married to His Royal Highness Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, fourth son of Frederick Prince of Wales (thus being grandson of George II and brother of King George III), on 4 March 1767, at the house of Thomas, Lord Archer, in Grosvenor Square, London, the marriage being performed by the Rev. James Wilmot D. D., father of the said Olive Wilmot. That a child, Olive, was born to them on 3 April 1772, who in 1791 was married to John Thomas Serres. And so on in accordance with the (alleged) facts above given.

The strange position was that even if the petitioner should win her main case she would prove her own illegitimacy. For granting that the alleged Olive Serres should have been legally married to the Duke of Cumberland, the Royal Marriage Act, passed five years later, forbade the union of the child of such a marriage, except with the sanction of the reigning monarch.

In the making of the claim of Mrs. Ryves a grave matter appeared—one which rendered it absolutely necessary that the case should be heard in the most formal and adequate way and settled once for all. The matter was one affecting the legality of the marriage of George III, and so touching the legitimacy of his son afterwards George IV, his son afterwards William IV and his son the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria—and so debarring them and all their descendants from the Crown of England. The points of contact were in documents insidiously though not overtly produced and the preparation of which showed much constructive skill in the world of fiction. Amongst the many documents put in evidence by the Counsel for Mrs. Ryves were two certificates of the (alleged) marriage between Olive Wilmot and the Duke of Cumberland. On the back of each of these alleged certificates was written what purported to be a certificate of the marriage of George III to Hannah Lightfoot performed in 1759 by J. Wilmot. The wording of the documents varied slightly.

It was thus that the claim of Mrs. Ryves and her son became linked up with the present and future destinies of England. These alleged documents too, brought the Attorney General upon the scene. There were two reasons for this. Firstly the action had to be taken against the Crown in the matter of form; secondly in such a case with the possibility of such vast issues it was absolutely necessary that every position should be carefully guarded, every allegation jealously examined. In each case the Attorney General was the proper official to act.

The Case of the Petitioners was prepared with extraordinary care. There were amongst the documents produced, numbering over seventy, some containing amongst them forty-three signatures of Dr. Wilmot, sixteen of Lord Chatham, twelve of Mr. Dunning (afterwards the 1st Baron Ashburton), twelve of George III, thirty-two of Lord Warwick and eighteen of H.R.H., the Duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria. Their counsel stated that although these documents had been repeatedly brought to the notice of the successive Ministers of the Crown, it had never been suggested until that day that they were forgeries. This latter statement was traversed in Court by the Lord Chief Baron, who called attention to a debate on the subject in the House of Commons in which they were denounced as forgeries.

In addition to those documents already quoted were the following certificates:

“The marriage of these parties was this day duly solemnized at Kew Chapel, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, by myself.
“J. Wilmot.”
“George P.”
Witness to this marriage
“W. Pitt.”
“Anne Taylor.”
May 27, 1759.
* * * * *
April 17, 1759
“This is to Certify that the marriage of these parties (George, Prince of Wales, to Hannah Lightfoot) was duly solemnized this day, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, at their residence at Peckham, by myself.
“J. Wilmot.”
“George Guelph.”
“Hannah Lightfoot.”
Witness to the marriage of these parties,—
“William Pitt.”
“Anne Taylor.”
* * * * *
“I hereby Certify that George, Prince of Wales, married Hannah Wheeler alias Lightfoot, April 17, 1759, but from finding the latter to be her right name I solemnized the union of the said parties a second time May the 27th, 1759, as the Certificate affixed to this paper will confirm.
“J. Wilmot.
Witness (Torn)”
* * * * *
The case for the Crown was strongly supported. Not only did the Attorney-General, Sir Roundell Palmer (afterwards Lord Chancellor and First Earl of Selborne) appear himself, but he was supported by the Solicitor-General, the Queen’s Advocate, Mr. Hannen and Mr. R. Bourke. The Attorney-General made the defence himself. At the outset it was difficult to know where to begin, for everywhere undoubted and unchallenged facts were interwoven with the structure of the case; and of all the weaknesses and foibles of the important persons mentioned, full advantage was taken. The marriage of the Duke of Gloucester to Lady Waldegrave had made him unpopular in every way, and he was at the time a persona ingrata at Court. There had been rumours of scandal about the King (when Prince of Wales) and the “Fair Quaker,” Hannah Lightfoot. The anonymity of the author of the celebrated “Letters of Junius,” which attacked the King so unmercifully, lent plausibility to any story which might account for it. The case of Mrs. Ryves, tried in 1861, in which her own legitimacy had been proved and in which indisputable documents had been used, was taken as a proof of her bona fides.

Mrs. Ryves herself was in the box for nearly the whole of three days, during which she bore herself firmly, refusing even to sit down when the presiding judge courteously extended that privilege to her. She was then, by her own statement, over seventy years of age. In the course of her evidence a Memorial to George IV was produced, written by her mother, Mrs. Serres, in which the word offspring was spelled “orfspring”; in commenting on which the Attorney-General produced a congratulatory Ode to the Prince Regent on his birthday in 1812, by the same author, in which occurred the line:

“Hail valued heir orfspring of Heaven’s smile.” Similar eccentric orthography was found in other autograph papers of Mrs. Serres.

The Attorney-General, in opposing the claim, alleged that the whole story of the Duke of Cumberland’s marriage to Olive Wilmot was a concoction from beginning to end, and said that the mere statement of the Petitioner’s case was sufficient to stamp its true character. That its folly and absurdity were equal to its audacity; in every stage it exposed itself to conviction by the simplest tests. He added that the Petitioner might have dwelt so long upon documents produced and fabricated by others, that, with her memory impaired by old age, the principle of veracity might have been poisoned, and the offices of imagination and memory confounded to such an extent that she really believed that things had been done and said in her presence which were in fact entirely imaginary. No part of her story was corroborated by a single authentic document, or by a single extrinsic fact. The forgery, falsehood and fraud of the case were proved in many ways. The explanations were as false and feeble as the story itself. “I cannot of course,” he said, “lay bare the whole history of the concoction of these extraordinary documents, but there are circumstances which indicate that they were concocted by Mrs. Serres herself.”

Having commented on some other matters spoken of, but regarding which no evidence was adduced, he proceeded to speak of the alleged wife of Joseph Wilmot D. D., the Polish Princess, sister of Count Poniatowski, afterwards elected King of Poland (1764), who was the mother of his charming daughter, Olive. “The truth is,” said Sir Roundell, “that both the Polish Princess and the charming daughter were pure myths; no such persons ever existed—they were as entirely creatures of the imagination as Shakespeare’s Ferdinand and Miranda.”

As to the documents produced by the Petitioners he remarked:
“What sort of documents were those which were produced? The internal evidence proved that they were the most ridiculous, absurd, preposterous series of forgeries that the perverted ingenuity of man ever invented ... they were all written on little scraps and slips of paper, such as no human being would ever have used for the purpose of recording transactions of this kind, and it would be proved that in every one of these pieces of paper the watermark of date was wanting.”
This was but a new variant of the remark made by the Lord Chief Justice, just after the putting-in of the alleged marriage Certificate of the Prince of Wales and Hannah Lightfoot:
“The Court is, as I understand, asked solemnly to declare, on the strength of two certificates, coming I know not whence, written on two scraps of paper, that the marriage, the only marriage of George III which the world believes to have taken place, between His Majesty and Queen Charlotte, was an invalid marriage, and consequently that all the Sovereigns who have sat on the throne since his death, including Her present Majesty, were not entitled to sit on the throne. That is the conclusion which the Court is asked to come to upon these two rubbishy pieces of paper, one signed ‘George P.,’ and the other ‘George Guelph.’ I believe them to be gross and rank forgeries. The Court has no difficulty in coming to the conclusion, even assuming that the signatures had that character of genuineness which they have not, that what is asserted in these documents has not the slightest foundation in fact.”
With this view the Lord Chief Baron and the Judge-Ordinary entirely concurred, the former adding:
“... the declarations of Hannah Lightfoot, if there ever was such a person, cannot be received in evidence on the faith of these documents ... the only issues for the jury are the issues in the cause and this is not an issue in the cause, but an incidental issue.... I think that these documents, which the Lord Chief Justice has treated with all the respect which properly belongs to them, are not genuine.”
Before the Attorney General had finished the statement of his case, he was interrupted by the foreman of the jury, who said that the jury were unanimously of opinion that there was no necessity to hear any further evidence as they were convinced that the signatures of the documents were not genuine. On this the Lord Chief Justice said:
“You share the opinion which my learned brothers and I have entertained for a long time; that every one of the documents is spurious.”
As the Counsel for the Petitioners had “felt it his duty to make some observations to the jury before they delivered their verdict,” and had made them, the Lord Chief Justice summed up. Towards the conclusion of his summing-up he said, in speaking of the various conflicting stories put forth by Mrs. Serres:
“In each of the claims which she made at different times, she appealed to documents in her possession by which they were supported. What was the irresistible inference? Why, that documents were from time to time prepared to meet the form which her claims from time to time assumed.”
The jury, without hesitation, found that they were not satisfied “that Olive Serres, the mother of Mrs. Ryves, was the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland and Olive his wife; and they were not satisfied that Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, was lawfully married to Olive Wilmot on the 4th of March 1767....”

The case of Mrs. Serres is an instance of how a person, otherwise comparatively harmless but afflicted with vanity and egotism, may be led away into evil courses, from which, had she realised their full iniquity, she might have shrunk. The only thing outside the case we have been considering, was that she separated from her husband; which indeed was an affliction rather than a crime. She had been married for thirteen years and had borne two children, but so far as we know no impropriety was ever alleged against her. One of her daughters remained her constant companion till her twenty-second year and through her long life held her and her memory in filial devotion and respect. The forethought, labour and invention which she devoted to the fraud, if properly and honestly used, might have won for her a noteworthy place in the history of her time. But as it was, she frittered away in criminal work her good opportunities and great talents, and ended her life within the rules of the King’s Bench.

Article by Bram Stoker

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Bram Stoker on Women Disguised As Men


by Bram Stoker

One of the commonest forms of imposture—so common that it seems rooted in a phase of human nature—is that of women who disguise themselves as men. It is not to be wondered at that such attempts are made; or that they were made more often formerly when social advancement had not enlarged the scope of work available for women. The legal and economic disabilities of the gentler sex stood then so fixedly in the way of working opportunity that women desirous of making an honest livelihood took desperate chances to achieve their object. We have read of very many cases in the past; and even now the hum-drum of life is broken by the fact or the echo of some startling revelation of the kind. Only very lately the death of a person who had for many years occupied a worthy though humble position in London caused a post-mortem sensation by the discovery that the deceased individual, though looked on for about a quarter of a century as a man, a widower, and the father of a grown-up daughter, was in reality a woman. She was actually buried under the name of the man she had professed to be, Harry Lloyd.

It is not to be wondered at that in more strenuous times, when the spirit of adventure was less curbed, and initial difficulties were less deadened by convention, cases of concealment of sex were far more numerous and more easily prolonged. In an age of foreign wars, many existing barriers against success in this respect were removed by general laxity of social conditions. Perhaps I may be allowed to say at the outset that, for my own part, my mind refuses absolutely to accept that which is generally alleged in each case, that the male comrades of women concealing their proper sex were, all through, ignorant of the true facts. Human nature is opposed to such a supposition, and experience bears out the shrewdness of nature. On occasions, or even for a time, it is possible to make such successful concealments. But when we are told that a woman has gone through a whole campaign or a prolonged voyage in all the overcrowded intimacy of tent and bivouac or of cabin and forecastle, without such a secret being suspected or discovered, the narrator makes an overlarge draft on human credulity. That such comrades, and many of them, forbore to give away the secret, no matter how it had come into their possession, we may well believe. Comradeship is a strong factor in such matters, and it has its own loyalty, which is never stronger than when the various persons interested are held together by the knowledge of a common danger. But even to this there is a contra; the whole spirit of romance, even when it binds man to woman and woman to man, stands side by side with love, affection, passion—call it what you will—which opportunity can fan into flame. Never more so than in the strenuous days of fighting, when day and night are full of varying fears—when the mad turmoil of working hours and loneliness of the night forge new fetters for the binding together of the sexes.

In real life, when a man or a woman tries to escape from capture or the fear of it in the guise of the opposite sex, it is a never-ending struggle to sustain the rôle successfully. If this is so, when the whole of the energies of mind and body are devoted in singleness of purpose to the task, how then can the imposture be successfully prolonged when the mind is eternally occupied with the pressing things of the passing moments? There must infallibly be moments of self-betrayal; and there is sufficient curiosity in the average person to insure that the opportunities of such moments are not lost. Be this as it may, we must in the first instance stick to matters of fact; the record is our sheet-anchor. After all, when we learn of a case where an imposture of the kind has been successfully carried out, it is time enough to argue with convincing perspicacity that it should not have been possible.

As to record, there are quite sufficient cases to convince any reader as to the fact that, allowing for all possible error and wastage, there have been a sufficient number undetected at the time of their happening, and only made known by after-confession and by the force of ulterior circumstances. Whatever opinion we may form of the women who carried out the venture, there is neither occasion nor need to doubt the fact they were so carried out. The consideration of a few cases culled from the records of this class of successful imposture will make this plain. It would be useless, if not impossible, to make full lists of the names of women who have passed themselves off as men in the fighting world—soldiers and sailors, with side interests such as piracy, duelling, highway robbery, etc. Amongst the female soldiers are the names of Christian Davis (known as Mother Ross), Hannah Snell, Phœbe Hessel. Amongst the sailors those of Mary Talbot, Ann Mills, Hannah Whitney, Charles Waddell. In the ranks of the pirates are Mary Reid and Ann Bonney. In many of these cases are underlying romances, as of women making search for lost or absconding husbands, or of lovers making endeavours to regain the lost paradise of life together.

If there were nothing else in these little histories, their perusal in detail would well repay attention as affording proof of the boundless devotion of woman’s love. No matter how badly the man may have treated the woman, no matter how heartlessly or badly he may have behaved towards her, her affection was proof against all. Indeed it makes one believe that there is some subtle self-sustaining, self-ennobling quality in womanhood which her initial self-surrender makes a constant force towards good. Even a nature which took new strength from the turmoil of battle, from the harrowing suspense of perpetual vigil, from the strain of physical weakness bravely borne, from pain and want and hunger, instead of hardening into obstinate indifference, seems to have softened as to sentiment, and been made gentle as to memory, as though the sense of wrong had been purged by the forces of affliction. All this, though the stress of campaigning may have blunted some of the conventional susceptibility of womanhood. For the after life of some of these warlike heroines showed that they had lost none of the love of admiration which marks their sex, none of their satisfaction in posing as characters other than their own. Several of them found pleasure in a new excitement different from that of battle, in the art of the stage. Whenever any of them made any effort to settle down in life after their excitement in the life of the camp or the sea, such did so at some place, and in some way congenial to herself and consistent with the life which she was leaving.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Mrs Anna Ottendorfer Journalist and Philanthropist

"Whenever our people gratefully point out their benefactors, whenever the Germans in America speak of those who are objects of their veneration and their pride, the name of Anna Ottendorfer will assuredly be among the first. For all time to come her memory and her work will be blessed." Thus spoke the Hon. Carl Schurz at the bier of Mrs. Ottendorfer in the spring of 1884.

Anna Behr was born in Würzburg, Bavaria, in a simple home, Feb. 13, 1815. In 1837, when twenty-two years old, she came to America, remained a year with her brother in Niagara County, N.Y., and then married Jacob Uhl, a printer.

In 1844 Mr. Uhl started a job-office in Frankfort Street, New York, and bought a small weekly paper called the New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung. His young wife helped him constantly, and finally the weekly paper became a daily.

Her husband died in 1852, leaving her with six children and a daily paper on her hands. She was equal to the task. She declined to sell the paper, and managed it well for seven years. Then she married Mr. Oswald Ottendorfer, who was on the staff of the paper.

Both worked indefatigably, and made the paper more successful than ever. She was always at her desk. "Her callers," says Harper's Bazar, May 3, 1884, "had been many. Her visitors represented all classes of society,—the opulent and the poor, the high and the lowly. There was advice for the one, assistance for the other; an open heart and an open purse for the deserving; a large charity wisely used."

In 1875 Mrs. Ottendorfer built the Isabella Home for Aged Women in Astoria, Long Island, giving to it $150,000. It was erected in memory of her deceased daughter, Isabella.

In 1881 she contributed about $40,000 to a memorial fund in support of several educational institutions, and the next year built and furnished the Woman's Pavilion of the German Hospital of New York City, giving $75,000. For the German Dispensary in Second Avenue she gave $100,000, also a library.

At her death she provided liberally for many institutions, and left $25,000 to be divided among the employees of the Staats-Zeitung. In 1879 the property of the paper was turned into a stock-company; and, at the suggestion of Mrs. Ottendorfer, the employees were provided for by a ten-per-cent dividend on their annual salary. Later this was raised to fifteen per cent, which greatly pleased the men.

The New York Sun, in regard to her care for her employees, especially in her will, says, "She had always the reputation of a very clever, business-like, and charitable lady. Her will shows, however, that she was much more than that—she must have been a wonderful woman." A year before her death the Empress Augusta of Germany sent her a medal in recognition of her many charities.

Mrs. Ottendorfer died April 1, 1884, and was buried in Greenwood. Her estate was estimated at $3,000,000, made by her own skill and energy. Having made it, she enjoyed giving it to others.
Her husband, Mr. Oswald Ottendorfer, has given most generously to his native place Zwittau,—an orphan asylum and home for the poor, a hospital, and a fine library with a beautiful monumental fountain before it, crowned by a statue representing mother-love; a woman carrying a child in her arms and leading another. His statue was erected in the city in 1886, and the town was illuminated in his honor at the dedication of the library.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Mary McLeod Bethune

On October 3, 1904, a lone woman, inspired by the desire to do something for the needy ones of her race and state, began at Daytona, Florida, a training school for Negro girls. She had only one dollar and a half in money, but she had faith, energy, and a heart full of love for her people. To-day she has an institution worth not less than one hundred thousand dollars, with plans for extensive and immediate enlargement, and her school is one of the best conducted and most clear-visioned in the country. Such has been the result of boundless energy and thrift joined to an unwavering faith in God.
Mary McLeod was born July 10, 1875, in a three-room log cabin on a little cotton and rice farm about three miles from Mayesville, South Carolina, being one in the large family of Samuel and Patsy McLeod. Ambitious even from her early years, she yearned for larger and finer things than her environment afforded; and yet even the life that she saw around her was to prove a blessing in disguise, as it gave to her deeper and clearer insight into the problems, the shortcomings, and the needs of her people. In course of time she attended a little mission school in Mayesville, and she was converted at the age of twelve. Later she was graduated at Scotia Seminary, Concord, North Carolina, and then she went to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. In the years of her schooling she received some assistance from a scholarship given by Miss Mary Chrisman, a dressmaker of Denver, Colorado. Mary McLeod never forgot that she had been helped by a working woman. Some day she intended to justify that faith, and time has shown that never was a scholarship invested to better advantage.

In 1898 Mary McLeod was married. She became the mother of one son. Not long after, the family moved to Palatka, Florida. Now followed the hard years of waiting, of praying, of hoping; but through it all the earnest woman never lost faith in herself, nor in God. She gained experience in a little school that she taught, she sang with unusual effect in the churches of the town, and she took part in any forward movement or uplift enterprise that she could. All the while, however, she knew that the big task was yet to come. She prayed, and hoped, and waited.

By the fall of 1904 it seemed that the time had come. In a little rented house, with five girls, Mrs. Bethune began what is now the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. By means of concerts and festivals the first payment of five dollars was made on the present site, then an old dump-pile. With their own hands the teacher and the pupils cleared away much of the rubbish, and from the first they invited the co-operation of the people around them by lending a helping hand in any way they could, by "being neighborly." In 1905 a Board of Trustees was organized and the school was chartered. In 1907 Faith Hall, a four-story frame house, forty by fifty feet, was "prayed up, sung up, and talked up;" and we can understand at what a premium space was in the earlier days when we know that this building furnished dormitory accommodations for teachers and students, dining-room, reading room, storerooms, and bathrooms. To the rear of Faith Hall was placed a two-story structure containing the school kitchen and the domestic science room. In 1909 the school found it necessary to acquire a farm for the raising of live stock and vegetables and for the practical outdoor training of the girls. After six weeks of earnest work the twelve-acre tract in front of the school was purchased. In 1914 a Model Home was built. In this year also an additional west farm of six acres, on which was a two-story frame building, was needed, asked for and procured. In March, 1918, the labors of fourteen years were crowned by the erection and dedication of a spacious auditorium; and among the speakers at the dedication were the Governor of Florida and the Vice-President of the United States. Efforts now look forward to a great new dormitory for the girls.

Such a bare account of achievements, however, by no means gives one an adequate conception of the striving and the hopings and the praying that have entered into the work. To begin with, Daytona was a strategic place for the school. There was no other such school along the entire east coast of Florida, and as a place of unusual beauty and attractiveness the town was visited throughout the winter by wealthy tourists. From the very first, however, the girls were trained in the virtues of the home, and in self-help. Great emphasis was placed on domestic science, and not only for this as an end in itself, but also as a means for the larger training in cleanliness and thrift and good taste. "We notice strawberries are selling at fifty and sixty cents a quart," said a visitor, "and you have a splendid patch. Do you use them for your students or sell them?" "We never eat a quart when we can get fifty cents for them," was the reply. "We can take fifty cents and buy a bone that will make soup for us all, when a quart of berries would supply only a few."

For one interested in education few pictures could be more beautiful than that of the dining-room at the school in the morning of a day in midterm. Florida is warm often even in midwinter; nevertheless, rising at five gives one a keen appetite for the early breakfast. The ceiling is low and there are other obvious disadvantages; but over all is the spirit of good cheer and of home. The tablecloths are very white and clean; flowers are on the different tables; at the head of each a teacher presides over five or six girls; the food is nourishing and well-prepared; and one leaves with the feeling that if he had a sister or daughter he would like for her to have the training of some such place as this.

Of such quality is the work that has been built up; and all has been accomplished through the remarkable personality of the woman who is the head and the soul of every effort. Indomitable courage, boundless energy, fine tact and a sense of the fitness of things, kindly spirit, and firm faith in God have deservedly given her success. Beyond the bounds of her immediate institution her influence extends. About the year 1912 the trustees felt the need of so extending the work as to make the school something of a community center; and thus arose the McLeod Hospital and Training School for Nurses. In 1912, moved by the utter neglect of the children of the turpentine camp at Tomoka, Mrs. Bethune started work for them in a little house that she secured. The aim was to teach the children to be clean and truthful and helpful, to sew and to sweep and to sing. A short school term was started among them, and the mission serves as an excellent practice school for the girls of the senior class in the Training School. A summer school and a playground have also been started for the children in Daytona. Nor have the boys and young men been neglected. Here was a problem of unusual difficulty. Any one who has looked into the inner life of the small towns of Florida could not fail to be impressed by the situation of the boys and young men. Hotel life, a shifting tourist population, and a climate of unusual seductiveness, have all left their impress. On every side to the young man beckons temptation, and in town after town one finds not one decent recreation center or uplifting social influence. Pool-rooms abound, and the young man is blamed for entering forbidden paths; but all too often the Christian men and women of the community have put forth no definite organized effort for his uplift. All too often there results a blasted life—a heartache for a mother, or a ruined home for some young woman. In Daytona, in 1913, on a lot near the school campus, one of the trustees, Mr. George S. Doane, erected a neat, commodious building to be used in connection with the extension work of the institution as a general reading-room and home for the Young Men's Christian Association; and this is the only specific work so being done for Negro boys in this section of the state. A debating club, an athletic club, lecture club, and prayer-meetings all serve as means toward the physical, intellectual, and spiritual development of the young men. A "Better Boys Movement" is also making progress and the younger boys are becoming interested in canning and farming as well as being cared for in their sports and games.

No sketch of this woman's work should close without mention of her activities for the nation at large. Red Cross work or a Liberty Loan drive has alike called forth her interest and her energy. She has appeared on some great occasions and before distinguished audiences, such as that for instance in the Belasco Theatre in Washington in December, 1917, when on a noteworthy patriotic occasion she was the only representative of her race to speak.

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It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Meta Warrick Fuller

The state of Massachusetts has always been famous for its history and literature, and especially rich in tradition is the region around Boston. On one side is Charlestown, visited yearly by thousands who make a pilgrimage to the Bunker Hill Monument. Across the Charles River is Cambridge, the home of Harvard University, and Longfellow, and Lowell, and numerous other men whose work has become a part of the nation's heritage. If one will ride on through Cambridge and North Cambridge and Arlington, he will come to Lexington, where he will find in the little Lexington Common one of the most charming spots of ground in America. Overlooking this he will see the Harrington House, and all around other memorials of the Revolution. Taking the car again and riding about seven miles more he will come to Concord, and here he will catch still more of the flavor of the eighteenth century. Walking from the center of the town down Monument Street (he must walk now; there is no trolley, and a carriage or automobile does not permit one to linger by the wayside), he will come after a while to the Old Manse, once the home of Emerson and of Hawthorne, and then see just around the corner the Concord Bridge and the statue of the Minute Man. There is a new bridge now, one of concrete; the old wooden one, so long beloved, at length became unsafe and had to be replaced. In another direction from the center of the town runs Lexington Road, within about half a mile down which one will see the later homes of Emerson and Hawthorne as well as that of Louisa May Alcott. Near the Alcott House, back among the trees, is a quaint little structure much like a Southern country schoolhouse—the so-called Concord School of Philosophy, in which Emerson once spoke. It is all a beautiful country—beautiful most of all for its unseen glory. One gives himself up to reflection; he muses on Evangeline and the Great Stone Face and on the heroic dead who did not die in vain—until a lumbering truck-car on the road calls him back from it all to the workaday world of men.

It is in this state of Massachusetts, so rich in its tradition, that there resides the subject of the present sketch. About halfway between Boston and Worcester, in the quiet, homelike town of Framingham, on a winding road just off the main street, lives Meta Warrick Fuller, one of America's foremost female sculptors.

There are three little boys in the family. They keep their mother very busy; but they also make her very happy. Buttons have to be sewed on and dinners have to be prepared for the children of an artist just as well as for those of other people; and help is not always easy to get. But the father, Dr. S. C. Fuller, a distinguished physician, is also interested in the boys, so that he too helps, and the home is a happy one.

At the top of the house is a long roomy attic. This is an improvised studio—or, as the sculptor would doubtless say, the workshop. Hither, from the busy work of the morning, comes the artist for an hour or half an hour of modeling—for rest, and for the first effort to transfer to the plastic clay some fleeting transient dream.

Meta Warrick Fuller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 9, 1877. For four years she attended the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art, and it was at this institution that she first began to force serious recognition of her talent. Before very long she began to be known as a sculptor of the horrible, one of her first original pieces being a head of Medusa, with a hanging jaw, beads of gore, and eyes starting from their sockets. At her graduation in 1898 she won a prize for metal work by a crucifix upon which hung the figure of Christ in agony, and she also won honorable mention for her work in modeling. In a post-graduate year she won a much coveted prize in modeling. In 1899 Meta Warrick (then best known by her full name, Meta Vaux Warrick) went to Paris, where she worked and studied three years. Her work brought her in contact with many other artists, among them Augustus St. Gaudens, the sculptor of the Robert Gould Shaw Monument at the head of Boston Common. Then there came a day when by appointment the young woman went to see Auguste Rodin, who after years of struggle and dispraise had finally won recognition as the foremost sculptor in France if not in the world. The great man glanced one after another at the pieces that were presented to him, without very evident interest. At length, thrilled by the figure in "Silent Sorrow," sometimes referred to as "Man Eating His Heart Out," Rodin beamed upon the young woman and said, "Mademoiselle, you are a sculptor; you have the sense of form." With encouragement from such a source the young artist worked with renewed vigor, looking forward to the time when something that she had produced should win a place in the Salon, the great national gallery in Paris. "The Wretched," one of the artist's masterpieces, was exhibited here in 1903, and along with it went "The Impenitent Thief." This latter production was demolished in 1904, after meeting with various unhappy accidents. In the form as presented, however, the thief, heroic in size, hung on the cross torn by anguish. Hardened, unsympathetic, and even defiant, he still possessed some admirable qualities of strength, and he has remained one of the sculptor's most powerful conceptions. In "The Wretched" seven figures greet the eye. Each represents a different form of human anguish. An old man, worn by hunger and disease, waits for death. A mother yearns for the loved ones she has lost. A man bowed by shame fears to look upon his fellow-creatures. A sick child suffers from some hereditary taint. A youth is in despair, and a woman is crazed by sorrow. Over all is the Philosopher who suffers perhaps more keenly than the others as he views the misery around them, and who, powerless to relieve it, also sinks into despair.

Other early productions were similarly characterized by a strongly romantic quality. "Silent Sorrow" has already been remarked in passing. In this a man, worn and gaunt and in despair, is represented as leaning over and actually eating out his own heart. "Man Carrying Dead Body" is in similar vein. The sculptor is moved by the thought of one who will be spurred on by the impulse of duty to the performance of some task not only unpleasant but even loathsome. She shows a man bearing across his shoulder the body of a comrade that has evidently lain on the battlefield for days. The thing is horrible, and the man totters under the great weight; but he forces his way onward until he can give it decent burial. Another early production was based on the ancient Greek story of Oedipus. This story was somewhat as follows: Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes. At his birth an oracle foretold that the father Laius would be killed by his son. The child was sent away to be killed by exposure, but in course of time was saved and afterwards adopted by the King of Corinth. When he was grown, being warned by an oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother, he left home. On his journey he met Laius and slew him in the course of an altercation. Later, by solving the riddle of the sphinx, he freed Thebes from distress, was made king of the city, and married Jocasta. Eventually the terrible truth of the relationship became known to all. Jocasta hanged herself and Oedipus tore out his eyes. The sculptor portrays the hero of the old legend at the very moment that he is thus trying to punish himself for his crime. There is nothing delicate or pretty about all such work as this. It is grewsome in fact, and horrible; but it is also strong and intense and vital. Its merit was at once recognized by the French, and it gave Meta Warrick a recognized place among the sculptors of America.

On her return to America the artist resumed her studies at the School of Industrial Art, winning in 1904 the Battles first prize for pottery. In 1907 she produced a series of tableaux representing the advance of the Negro for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, and in 1913 a group for the New York State Emancipation Proclamation Commission. In 1909 she became the wife of Dr. Solomon C. Fuller, of Framingham, Massachusetts. A fire in 1910 unfortunately destroyed some of her most valuable pieces while they were in storage in Philadelphia. Only a few examples of her early work, that happened to be elsewhere, were saved. The artist was undaunted, however, and by May, 1914, she had sufficiently recovered from the blow to be able to hold at her home a public exhibition of her work.

After this fire a new note crept into the work of Meta Warrick Fuller. This was doubtless due not so much to the fire itself as to the larger conception of life that now came to the sculptor with the new duties of marriage and motherhood. From this time forth it was not so much the romantic as the social note that was emphasized. Representative of the new influence was the second model of the group for the Emancipation Proclamation Commission. A recently emancipated Negro youth and maiden stand beneath a gnarled, decapitated tree that has what looks almost like a human hand stretched over them. Humanity is pushing them forth into the world while at the same time the hand of Destiny is restraining them in the full exercise of their freedom. "Immigrant in America" is in somewhat similar vein. An American woman, the mother of one strong healthy child, is shown welcoming to the land of plenty the foreigner, the mother of several poorly nourished children. Closely related in subject is the smaller piece, "The Silent Appeal," in which a mother capable of producing and caring for three sturdy children is shown as making a quiet demand for the suffrage and for any other privileges to which a human being is entitled. All of these productions are clear cut, straightforward, and dignified.
In May, 1917, Meta Warrick Fuller took second prize in a competition under the auspices of the Massachusetts Branch of the Woman's Peace Party, her subject being "Peace Halting the Ruthlessness of War." War is personified as on a mighty steed and trampling to death numberless human beings. In one hand he holds a spear on which he has transfixed the head of one of his victims. As he goes on his masterful career Peace meets him and commands him to cease his ravages. The work as exhibited was in gray-green wax and was a production of most unusual spirit.

Among other prominent titles are "Watching for Dawn," a conception of remarkable beauty and yearning, and "Mother and Child." An early production somewhat detached from other pieces is a head of John the Baptist. This is one of the most haunting creations of Mrs. Fuller. In it she was especially successful in the infinite yearning and pathos that she somehow managed to give to the eyes of the seer. It bears the unmistakable stamp of power.

Compiles from information in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Harriet Tubman

Greatest of all the heroines of anti-slavery was Harriet Tubman. This brave woman not only escaped from bondage herself, but afterwards made nineteen distinct trips to the South, especially to Maryland, and altogether aided more than three hundred souls in escaping from their fetters.

Araminta Ross, better known by the Christian name Harriet that she adopted, and her married name of Tubman, was born about 1821 in Dorchester County, on the eastern shore of Maryland, the daughter of Benjamin Ross and Harriet Greene, both of whom were slaves, but who were privileged to be able to live their lives in a state of singular fidelity. Harriet had ten brothers and sisters, not less than three of whom she rescued from slavery; and in 1857, at great risk to herself, she also took away to the North her aged father and mother.

When Harriet was not more than six years old she was taken away from her mother and sent ten miles away to learn the trade of weaving. Among other things she was set to the task of watching muskrat traps, which work compelled her to wade much in water. Once she was forced to work when she was already ill with the measles. She became very sick, and her mother now persuaded her master to let the girl come home for a while.

Soon after Harriet entered her teens she suffered a misfortune that embarrassed her all the rest of her life. She had been hired out as a field hand. It was the fall of the year and the slaves were busy at such tasks as husking corn and cleaning up wheat. One of them ran away. He was found. The overseer swore that he should be whipped and called on Harriet and some others that happened to be near to help tie him. She refused, and as the slave made his escape she placed herself in a door to help to stop pursuit of him. The overseer caught up a two-pound weight and threw it at the fugitive; but it missed its mark and struck Harriet a blow on the head that was almost fatal. Her skull was broken and from this resulted a pressure on her brain which all her life left her subject to fits of somnolency.

Sometimes these would come upon her in the midst of a conversation or any task at which she might be engaged; then after a while the spell would pass and she could go on as before.

After Harriet recovered sufficiently from her blow she lived for five or six years in the home of one John Stewart, working at first in the house but afterwards hiring her time. She performed the most arduous labor in order to get the fifty or sixty dollars ordinarily exacted of a woman in her situation. She drove oxen, plowed, cut wood, and did many other such things. With her firm belief in Providence, in her later years she referred to this work as a blessing in disguise as it gave her the firm constitution necessary for the trials and hardships that were before her. Sometimes she worked for her father, who was a timber inspector and superintended the cutting and hauling of large quantities of timber for the Baltimore ship-yards. Her regular task in this employment was the cutting of half a cord of wood a day.

About 1844 Harriet was married to a free man named John Tubman. She had no children. Two years after her escape in 1849 she traveled back to Maryland for her husband, only to find him married to another woman and no longer caring to live with her. She felt the blow keenly, but did not despair and more and more gave her thought to what was to be the great work of her life.

It was not long after her marriage that Harriet began seriously to consider the matter of escape from bondage. Already in her mind her people were the Israelites in the land of Egypt, and far off in the North somewhere was the land of Canaan. In 1849 the master of her plantation died, and word passed around that at any moment she and two of her brothers were to be sold to the far South. Harriet, now twenty-four years old, resolved to put her long cherished dreams into effect. She held a consultation with her brothers and they decided to start with her at once, that very night, for the North. She could not go away, however, without giving some intimation of her purpose to the friends she was leaving behind. As it was not advisable for slaves to be seen too much talking together, she went among her old associates singing as follows:

When dat ar ol' chariot comes
I'm gwine to leabe you;
I'm boun' for de Promised Land;
Frien's, I'm gwine to leabe you.

I'm sorry, frien's, to leabe you;
Farewell! oh, farewell!
But I'll meet you in de mornin';
Farewell! oh, farewell!

I'll meet you in de mornin'
When you reach de Promised Land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I'm boun' for de Promised Land.
The brothers started with her; but the way was unknown, the North was far away, and they were constantly in terror of recapture. They turned back, and Harriet, after watching their retreating forms, again fixed her eyes on the north star. "I had reasoned dis out in my min'," said she; "there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would have de other, for no man should take me alive. I would fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when de time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me."

"And so without money, and without friends," says Mrs. Bradford, "she started on through unknown regions; walking by night, hiding by day, but always conscious of an invisible pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, under the guidance of which she journeyed or rested. Without knowing whom to trust, or how near the pursuers might be, she carefully felt her way, and by her native cunning, or by God-given wisdom she managed to apply to the right people for food, and sometimes for shelter; though often her bed was only the cold ground, and her watchers the stars of night. After many long and weary days of travel, she found that she had passed the magic line which then divided the land of bondage from the land of freedom." At length she came to Philadelphia, where she found work and the opportunity to earn a little money. It was at this time, in 1851, after she had been employed for some months, that she went back to Maryland for her husband only to find that he had not been true.
In December, 1850, she had visited Baltimore and brought away a sister and two children. A few months afterwards she took away a brother and two other men. In December, 1851, she led out a party of eleven, among them being another brother and his wife. With these she journeyed to Canada, for the Fugitive Slave Law was now in force and, as she quaintly said, there was no safety except "under the paw of the British Lion." The winter, however, was hard on the poor fugitives, who unused to the climate of Canada, had to chop wood in the forests in the snow. Often they were frost-bitten, hungry, and almost always poorly clad. But Harriet was caring for them. She kept house for her brother, and the fugitives boarded with her. She begged for them and prayed for them, and somehow got them through the hard winter. In the spring she returned to the States, as usual working in hotels and families as a cook. In 1852 she once more went to Maryland, this time bringing away nine fugitives.

It must not be supposed that those who started on the journey northward were always strong-spirited characters. The road was rough and attended by dangers innumerable. Sometimes the fugitives grew faint-hearted and wanted to turn back. Then would come into play the pistol that Harriet always carried with her. "Dead niggers tell no tales," said she, pointing it at them; "you go on or die!" By this heroic method she forced many to go onward and win the goal of freedom.

Unfailing was Harriet Tubman's confidence in God. A customary form of prayer for her was, "O Lord, you've been with me in six troubles; be with me in the seventh." On one of her journeys she came with a party of fugitives to the home of a Negro who had more than once assisted her and whose house was one of the regular stations on the so-called Underground Railroad. Leaving her party a little distance away Harriet went to the door and gave the peculiar rap that was her regular signal. Not meeting with a ready response, she knocked several times. At length a window was raised and a white man demanded roughly what she wanted. When Harriet asked for her friend she was informed that he had been obliged to leave for assisting Negroes. The situation was dangerous. Day was breaking and something had to be done at once. A prayer revealed to Harriet a place of refuge. Outside of the town she remembered that there was a little island in a swamp, with much tall grass upon it. Hither she conducted her party, carrying in a basket two babies that had been drugged. All were cold and hungry in the wet grass; still Harriet prayed and waited for deliverance. How relief came she never knew; she felt that it was not necessarily her business to know. After they had waited through the day, however, at dusk there came slowly along the pathway on the edge of the swamp a man clad in the garb of a Quaker. He seemed to be talking to himself, but Harriet's sharp ears caught the words: "My wagon stands in the barnyard of the next farm across the way. The horse is in the stable; the harness hangs on a nail;" and then the man was gone. When night came Harriet stole forth to the place designated, and found not only the wagon but also abundant provisions in it, so that the whole party was soon on its way rejoicing. In the next town dwelt a Quaker whom Harriet knew and who readily took charge of the horse and wagon for her.

Naturally the work of such a woman could not long escape the attention of the abolitionists. She became known to Thomas Garrett, the great-hearted Quaker of Wilmington, who aided not less than three thousand fugitives to escape, and also to Grit Smith, Wendell Phillips, William H. Seward, F. B. Sanborn, and many other notable men interested in the emancipation of the Negro. From time to time she was supplied with money, but she never spent this for her own use, setting it aside in case of need on the next one of her journeys. In her earlier years, however, before she became known, she gave of her own slender means for the work.

Between 1852 and 1857 she made but one or two journeys, because of the increasing vigilance of slaveholders and the Fugitive Slave Law. Great rewards were offered for her capture and she was several times on the point of being taken, but always escaped by her shrewd wit and what she considered warnings from heaven. While she was intensely practical, she was also a most firm believer in dreams. In 1857 she made her most venturesome journey, this time taking with her to the North her old parents who were no longer able to walk such distances as she was forced to go by night. Accordingly she had to hire a wagon for them, and it took all her ingenuity to get them through Maryland and Delaware. At length, however, she got them to Canada, where they spent the winter. As the climate was too rigorous, however, she afterwards brought them down to New York, and settled them in a home in Auburn, N. Y., that she had purchased on very reasonable terms from Secretary Seward. Somewhat later a mortgage on the place had to be lifted and Harriet now made a noteworthy visit to Boston, returning with a handsome sum toward the payment of her debt. At this time she met John Brown more than once, seems to have learned something of his plans, and after the raid at Harper's Ferry and the execution of Brown she glorified him as a hero, her veneration even becoming religious. Her last visit to Maryland was made in December, 1860, and in spite of the agitated condition of the country and the great watchfulness of slaveholders she brought away with her seven fugitives, one of them an infant.

After the war Harriet Tubman made Auburn her home, establishing there a refuge for aged Negroes. She married again, so that she is sometimes referred to as Harriet Tubman Davis. She died at a very advanced age March 10, 1913. On Friday, June 12, 1914, a tablet in her honor was unveiled at the Auditorium in Albany. It was provided by the Cayuga County Historical Association, Dr. Booker T. Washington was the chief speaker of the occasion, and the ceremonies were attended by a great crowd of people.

The tributes to this heroic woman were remarkable. Wendell Phillips said of her: "In my opinion there are few captains, perhaps few colonels, who have done more for the loyal cause since the war began, and few men who did before that time more for the colored race than our fearless and most sagacious friend, Harriet." F. B. Sanborn wrote that what she did "could scarcely be credited on the best authority." William H. Seward, who labored, though unsuccessfully, to get a pension for her granted by Congress, consistently praised her noble spirit. Abraham Lincoln gave her ready audience and lent a willing ear to whatever she had to say. Frederick Douglass wrote to her: "The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day—you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and footsore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt 'God bless you' has been your only reward."

Of such mould was Harriet Tubman, philanthropist and patriot, bravest and noblest of all the heroines of freedom.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Mytth Presents A Hidden Heroine of the French Revolution

THE year 1788 was the last of the old régime. Mme. Le Brun was now thirty-two and at the height of
her fame and prosperity. She had more commissions than she could execute, more engagements than she could keep, more invitations than she could accept, but her mind was full of gloomy presentiments. She passed the summer as usual between Paris and the country houses where she stayed.

As she drove with a friend down to Romainville to stay with the Comte de Ségur, she noticed that the peasants they met in the roads did not take off their hats to them, but looked at them insolently, and sometimes shook their sticks threateningly at them.

While she was at Romainville there was a most awful storm, the sky which had become deep yellow with black clouds of alarming appearance, seemed to open and pour forth flash after flash of lightning, accompanied by deafening thunder and enormous hailstones, which ravaged the country for forty leagues round Paris. Pale and trembling, Mme. de Ségur and Mme. Le Brun sat looking at each other in terror, fancying that they saw in the awful tempest raging around them, the beginning of the fearful times whose approach they now foresaw.

When the storm had subsided the peasants were crying and lamenting over the destruction of their crops, and all the large proprietors in the neighbourhood came most generously to their assistance. One rich man distributed forty thousand francs among them. The next year he was one of the first to be massacred.

As time went on and affairs became more and more menacing, Mme. Le Brun began to consider the advisability of leaving the country, and placing herself and her child out of the reach of the dangers and calamities evidently not far distant.

Early in 1789 she was dining at La Malmaison, which then belonged to the Comte de Moley, a rabid Radical; he and the Abbé de Sieyès and several others were present, and so fierce and violent was their talk that even the Abbé de Sieyès said after dinner—

“Indeed, I think we shall go too far;” while the Comtesse du Moley and Mme. Le Brun were horror-stricken at the terrible prospects unfolded to them.

After this, Mme. Le Brun went for a few days to Marly to stay with Mme. Auguier, sister of Mme. Campan, and attached like her to the Queen’s household.

One day as they were looking out of a window into the courtyard which opened on to the road, they saw a man stagger in and fall down.

Mme. Auguier sent her husband’s valet de chambre to help him up, and take him into the kitchen. Presently the valet returned, saying, “Madame is indeed too kind; that man is a wretch. Here are some papers which have fallen out of his pocket.” He gave them several sheets of papers, one of which began, “Down with the Royal Family! down with the nobles! down with the priests!” and all of which were filled with a tissue of blasphemies, litanies of the Revolution, threats and predictions horrible enough to make their hair stand on end.

Mme. Auguier sent for the maréchaussé, four of whom appeared, and took the fellow in charge; but the valet de chambre who followed them unperceived, saw them, as soon as they thought themselves out of sight, singing and dancing, arm in arm with their prisoner.

Terror-stricken, they agreed that these papers must be shown to the Queen, and when, a day or two afterwards, Mme. Auguier was in waiting, she took them to Marie Antoinette, who read and returned them saying—

“These things are impossible. I shall never believe they meditate such atrocities.”

Mme. Auguier’s affection for the Queen cost her her life. In the fury of the Revolution, knowing her to be without money, she lent Marie Antoinette twenty-five louis. This became known, and a mob rushed to her house to take her to prison and execution. In a frenzy of terror Mme. Auguier threw herself out of the window, and was killed on the spot.

The last time Mme. Le Brun saw the Queen was at the last ball given at Versailles, which took place in the theatre, and at which she looked on from one of the boxes. She observed with indignation the rudeness of some of the young Radical nobles; they refused to dance when requested to do so by the Queen, whose agitation and uneasiness were only too apparent. The demeanour of the populace was becoming every day more ferocious and alarming; the drives and streets were scarcely safe for any but the lower classes. At a concert given by Mme. Le Brun, most of the guests came in with looks of consternation. They had been driving earlier in the day to Longchamps, and as they passed the barrière de l’Étoile, a furious mob had surrounded and insulted everybody who passed in carriages. Villainous looking faces pressed close to them, horrible figures climbed on to the steps of the carriages, crying out, with infamous threats and brutal language, that next year they should be in the carriages and the owners behind them.

The continual terror in which she now lived began to affect the health of Lisette. She knew perfectly well that she herself was looked upon with sinister eyes by the ruffians, whose bloodthirsty hands would soon hold supreme power in France. Her house in the rue Gros-Chenet, in which she had only lived for three months, was already marked; sulphur was thrown down the grating into the cellars; if she looked out of the windows she saw menacing figures of sans-culottes, shaking their fists at the house.

If she had not got away in time there can be no doubt as to what would have been her fate; fortunately her fears made her act with prudence. M. Brongniart, the architect, and his wife, friends of hers, seeing her so pale and altered, persuaded her to go and stay with them for a few days at the Invalides, where they had rooms; she gladly accepted and was taken there by a doctor attached to the Palais Royal, whose servants wore the Orléans livery, the only one that was now respected, and in whose carriage she consequently arrived safely. Her kind friends nursed and tried to comfort her; made her take Bordeaux and soup as she could eat nothing, and tried to reassure her, being amongst those who did not believe in the perils to come. It was no use. When they went out they heard the threats and violent talk of the mob, and the discussions they held with each other; by no means calculated to give comfort to those who were listening.

Mme. Le Brun returned home, but dared not stay there, so she accepted the invitation of her brother’s father-in-law, M. de Rivière, in whose house she thought she would be safe, as he was a foreign minister. She stayed there a fortnight, treated as if she were a daughter of the house, but she had resolved to get out of France before it was too late.

It would in fact have been folly to stay any longer; already the mob had set fire to the barrière at the end of the rue Chaussée-d’Antin, where M. de Rivière lived, and had begun to tear up the pavement and make barricades in the streets. Many people disapproved of emigrating, some from patriotic  reasons, others as a matter of interest. To many it was of course a choice between the certainty of losing their property and the chance of losing their lives; and rather than become beggars they took the risk and stayed, very often to the destruction of themselves and those dearest to them. To Lisette there was no such alternative. Wherever she went she could always provide herself with money without the least difficulty; she had always longed to see Rome, now was the time.

She had numbers of orders, and of portraits half finished, but she was too nervous and agitated to paint, and she had a hundred louis which some one had just paid for a picture—to herself fortunately, not to M. Le Brun, who generally took everything, sometimes never even telling her it had been paid, at other times saying he must have the whole sum for an investment, or to pay a bill owing.
This hundred louis would take her to Rome with her child and nurse, and she began in haste to pack up and prepare for the journey.

It was the evening before the day fixed for their departure, the passport was ready, her travelling carriage loaded with luggage, and she was resting herself in her drawing-room, when a dreadful noise was heard in the house, as of a crowd bursting in; trampling of feet on the stairs, rough voices; and as she remained petrified with fear the door of the room was flung open and a throng of ruffianly-looking gardes nationaux with guns in their hands, many of them drunk, forced their way in, and several of them approaching her, declared in coarse, insolent terms, that she should not go.

In reply to her observation that she had a perfect right to go where she chose, they kept repeating—
Vous ne partisez pas, citoyenne, vous ne partisez pas.

At last they went away, but in a few moments two of them whose appearance was different from the rest returned and said—

“Madame, we are your neighbours; we have come back to advise you to go, and to start as soon as possible. You cannot live here, you are so changed that we are sorry. But do not travel in your carriage; go by the diligence, it is safer.”

Lisette thanked the friendly gardes with all her heart, and followed their advice. She sent to take three places in the diligence, but there were none to be had for a fortnight, as so many people who were emigrating travelled by it for greater safety.

Those of her friends who were Radicals blamed Lisette for going, and tried to dissuade her. Mme. Filleul, formerly Mlle. Boquet, said to her—

“You are quite wrong to go. I shall stay, for I believe in the happiness the Revolution will bring us.”
She remained at La Muette until the Terror began. Mme. Chalgrin, of whom she was an intimate friend, came there to celebrate very quietly the marriage of her daughter. The day after it, both Mme. Chalgrin and Mme. Filleul were arrested by the revolutionists and guillotined a few days later, because they were said to have “burnt the candles of the nation.”

Lisette paid no attention to the dissuasions of her friends; in spite of all they said she knew quite well that she was in danger. No one could be safe, however innocent, if any suspicion or grudge against  them was in the minds of the ruffians who were thirsting for blood.

“Although, thank Heaven, I have never done harm to anybody,” she said. “I agree with the man who said: ‘They accuse me of having stolen the towers of Notre Dame; they are still in their place, but I am going, for it is clear that they have a grudge against me.’”

“What is the use of taking care of one’s health?” she would say when her friends were anxious about her. “What is the good of living?”

It was not until the 5th of October that the places in the diligence could be had, and on the evening of the 4th Lisette went to say goodbye to her mother, whom she had not seen for three weeks, and who at first did not recognise her, so much had she changed in that short time and so ill did she look.
They were to start at midnight, and it was quite time they did so.

That very day the King, Queen, and royal family were brought from Versailles to Paris by the frantic, howling mob. Louis Vigée, after witnessing their arrival at the Hôtel de Ville, came at ten o’clock to see his sister off, and give her the account of what had happened.

“Never,” he said, “was the Queen more truly a Queen than to-day, when she made her entry with so calm and noble an air in the midst of those furies.”

It was then she made her well-known answer to Bailly, “J’ai tout vu, tout su, et tout oublié.”
Half beside herself with anxiety and fear for the fate of the royal family and of all respectable people, Lisette, her child, and the nurse or nursery governess went to the diligence at midnight, escorted by M. Le Brun, Louis Vigée, and M. Robert, the landscape painter, an intimate friend of theirs, who never left the diligence, but kept close to its doors as it lumbered along through the narrow dark streets to the barrière du Trône. For the terrible faubourg Saint Antoine had to be passed through, and Lisette was dreadfully afraid of it.

However, it happened on that night to be unusually quiet, for the inhabitants had been to Versailles after the King and Queen, and were so tired that they were asleep.

At the barrier came the parting with those she was leaving in the midst of perils. When they would meet again, if they ever did at all, it was impossible to guess.

The journey was insupportable. In the diligence with them was a dirty, evil-looking man, who openly confessed that he was a robber, boasting of the watches, &c., that he had stolen, and speaking of many persons he wished to murder à la lanterne, amongst whom were a number of the acquaintances of Mme. Le Brun. The little girl, now five or six years old, was frightened out of her wits, and her mother took courage to ask the man not to talk about murders before the child.

He stopped, and afterwards began to play with her; but another Jacobin from Grenoble, also a passenger, gave vent to all kinds of infamous and murderous threats and opinions, haranguing the people who collected round the diligence whenever they stopped for dinner or supper; whilst every now and then men rode up to the diligence, announcing that the King and Queen had been assassinated, and that Paris was in flames. Lisette, terrified herself for the fate of those dear to her, tried to comfort her still more frightened child, who was crying and trembling, believing that her father was killed and their house burnt. At last they arrived safely at Lyon, and found their way to the house of a M. Artaut, whom Lisette did not know well. But she had entertained him and his wife in Paris on one or two occasions, she knew that their opinions were like her own, and thought they were worthy people, as indeed they proved to be.

They did not know her at first, for besides her altered looks she was dressed as an ouvrière, having just exhibited in the Salon her portrait which she had painted with her child in her arms, and fearing she might be recognised.

They spent three days in the Artaut family, thankful for the rest, the quietness and the kindness they received. M. Artaut engaged a man he knew to take them on their journey, telling him that they were relations of his, and recommending them to his care. They set off accordingly, and, this journey was indeed a contrast to the last. Their driver took the greatest care of them, and they arrived in safety at the bridge of Beauvoisin, the frontier of France.

Never, would Mme. Le Brun say in after years, could she forget or describe the feelings with which she drove across that bridge to find herself at the other side—safe, free, and out of France.
Henceforth the journey was a pleasure, and with feelings of admiration and awe she gazed upon the magnificent scenery as she ascended the mighty Mont Cenis; stupendous mountains rising above her, their snowy peaks buried in clouds, their steep sides hung with pine forests, the roar of falling torrents perpetually in her ears.

“Madame should take a mule,” said a postillion coming up to her, as she walked slowly up the precipitous mountain path. “It is much too tiring for a lady like Madame to go up on foot.”

“I am an ouvrière,” she replied, “and am accustomed to walk.”

The man laughed.

“Ah!” he said, “Madame is no ouvrière; it is very well known who she is.”

“Well, who am I, then?”

“You are Mme. Le Brun, who paints with such perfection, and we are all very glad to know that you are far away from those wicked people.”

“I could never guess,” said Lisette, “how the man knew me. But this proved the number of spies the Jacobins had everywhere. However, I was not afraid of them now; I was out of their execrable power. If I had no longer my own country, I was going to live where art flourished and urbanity reigned—I was going to Rome, Naples, Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg.”

Compiled from sources in the public domain

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915