Produced March 30, 1798, by the Old American Company
at the Park Theatre, New York, NY.
To which are added authentic documents respecting Major André; consisting of
Letters to Miss Seward,
The Cow Chace,
Proceedings of the court-martial, &c.
Transcribed, with an introduction and notes, by
John W. Kennedy
30 Minton Ave
Chatham, NJ 07928-2740
John W. Kennedy
The play André and all additional material from the edition of 1798 are in the public domain.
Introduction and notes copyright © 2005, John W. Kennedy
Permission is hereby granted to all to copy this entire edition, intact.
Permission is also granted to all to place extracts from the introduction and notes into theatre programs, provided that credit is given.
For other rights, contact
John W Kennedy
30 Minton Ave
Chatham, NJ 07928-2740
John W. Kennedy
Table of Contents
- Introduction by the Editor
- Act I. Scene 1. A Wood seen by star-light
- Act II. Scene 1. A Prison
- Act III. Scene 1. The General’s Quarters
- Act IV. Scene 1. The Encampment
- Act V. Scene 1. The Encampment
- Authentic Documents relating to Major André
Introduction by the Editor.
In September, 1780, General Sir Henry Clinton sent his young adjutant general and head of Secret Intelligence, Major John André, painter, poet, and musician, thirty,1 and loved by all who knew him, to arrange for Brigadier General Benedict Arnold of the Continental Army to turn his coat, and betray the crucial stronghold of West Point to the British.
On September 20th, André reported to the H.M.S Vulture, off Teller’s Point (now Croton’s Point), and on the night of the 21st, he was taken across the river to Haverstraw, to meet with Arnold. He was successful in his mission, but the meeting had taken longer than intended, and suspicious local patriots using a borrowed cannon had fired on the Vulture, forcing her to withdraw to safety. Arnold directed André to change into civilian garb and proceed south to the British lines on horseback, carrying papers concealed in his clothing that explained how West Point could be captured. Arnold provided him with a pass in the name of
He made it to Tarrytown before being stopped on the night of the 23rd by three armed men. Thinking them to be Tories, André identified himself. On being told that they were patriots, he tried to bluff his way through with Arnold’s pass, but was forced to submit to a search, which revealed the incriminating papers. He tried to bribe his captors, but they refused all offers, and escorted André to North Castle. There the entire story came out. Word reached Arnold, who escaped on the Vulture, but West Point and American command of the Hudson were saved.
Poor André was taken to West Point, and then to Tappan, where he was sentenced to suffer the penalty for being caught behind enemy lines out of uniform—hanging—on October 2nd. The Americans had offered to exchange André for Arnold, but General Clinton, having promised Arnold his protection, could not agree. Washington’s hands were observed to shake as he signed the order for André’s execution, and in after years, he said that the act was the most painful experience of his military career.
In 1821, André’s body was exhumed and re-interred in Westminster Abbey, and in 1879, an American monument was erected on the site of his execution,
not to perpetuate the record of strife, but in token of those better feelings which have since united two nations.
William Dunlap (1766–1839) dominated American theatre in his day as no one else ever did but David Belasco. He was born in Perth Amboy, and the family later moved to New York City. There is a pretty, but questionable, legend to the effect that he may have seen some of the theatrical productions in occupied New York in which John André had a hand. He traveled to England in 1784 to study with Benjamin West, as was practically de rigueur for aspiring young American painters, but seems to have chiefly fallen in love with the theatre there. Upon his return to America in 1787, his first thought was to write an imitation of Royall Tyler’s hit, The Contrast, and Dunlap’s The Modest Soldier or Love in New York was accepted, though never produced. But he continued to write, and was soon successful enough to be asked in 1796 to become managing partner in the Old American Company, so called because it was the return of the American Company, founded in 1752, which had retreated to the West Indies in 1778 after Congress had outlawed theatrical performances as incompatible with the war effort. André is one of the plays of this portion of his career. In later years, he tended to write more translations than original plays, and made rather a specialty of the plays of August von Kotzebue (1761–1819). His version of Lovers’ Vows is said to be superior to the one by Mrs. Inchbald which Jane Austen immortalized in Mansfield Park.
This edition of André is based on the 1798 printing by T. & J. Swords, 99 Pearl Street, New York. In 1799, David Ogilvy and Son, No. 315, Holborn, London, published an edition omitting the name of the author, in the judgment of the present editor, a pirated edition derived from that of 1798, and therefore possessing no textual authority. However, its verbal alterations are intrinsically interesting, and have been included in footnotes. The London Stage, for what it’s worth, lists no performance of André through 1800.
Dunlap’s printed edition of the play includes substantial back matter: three youthful letters, The Cow Chace (a satirical poem André wrote a month or two before his death), and most of the available documents concerning his trial and execution. They have been included in this edition both for their intrinsic interest and because of Dunlap’s unusual integrity, for a playwright, in exposing to the reader all his fictionalizing.
In 1798, the memory of the affair was still fresh. Washington was yet living, Arnold was still alive in England, and there were still plenty of veterans who remembered the hanging of André, which had taken place only 21 miles from the Park Theatre. It should not surprise us then, that André played only three nights and was not revived, though Dunlap later recycled much of its text in his 1803 pageant-play, The Glory of Columbia: Her Yeomanry, which continued to be regularly produced on festival occasions for half a century. But André, with its curiously Greek construction—it is written in scenes for two or three, places all the physical activity offstage, takes place in only a few hours’ time, and really wants only a chorus to be perfectly Athenian—continues to hold an important place in the history of American drama.
John W. Kennedy.
Chatham, NJ, March 31, 2005.
A note on the name M‘Donald
The spelling M‘ is not a an error for M’, but a widely used period printing convention for Mc.
More than nine years ago the Author made choice of the death of Major André as the subject of a Tragedy, and part of what is now offered to the public was written at that time. Many circumstances discouraged him from finishing his Play, and among them must be reckoned a prevailing opinion that recent events are unfit subjects for tragedy. These discouragements have at length all given way to his desire of bringing a story on the Stage so eminently fitted, in his opinion, to excite interest in the breasts of an American audience.
In exhibiting a stage representation of a real transaction, the particulars of which are fresh in the minds of many of the audience, an author has this peculiar difficulty to struggle with, that those who know the events expect to see them all recorded; and any deviation from what they remember to be fact, appears to them as a fault in the poet; they are disappointed, their expectations are not fulfilled, and the writer is more or less condemned, not considering the difference between the poet and the historian, or not knowing that what is intended to be exhibited is a free poetical picture, not an exact historical portrait.
Still further difficulties has the Tragedy of André to surmount, difficulties independent of its own demerits, in its way to public favor. The subject necessarily involves political questions; but the Author presumes that he owes no apology to any one for having shewn himself an American. The friends of Major André (and it appears that all who knew him were his friends) will look with a jealous eye on the Poem, whose principal incident is the sad catastrophe which his misconduct, in submitting to be an instrument in a transaction of treachery and deceit, justly brought upon him: but these friends have no cause of offence; the Author has adorned the poetical character of André with every virtue; he has made him his Hero; to do which, he was under the necessity of making him condemn his own conduct, in the one dreadfully unfortunate action of his life. To shew the effects which Major André’s excellent qualities had upon the minds of men, the Author has drawn a generous and amiable youth, so blinded by his love for the accomplished Briton, as to consider his country, and the great commander of her armies, as in the commission of such horrid injustice, that he, in the anguish of his soul, disclaims the service. In this it appears, since the first representation, that the Author has gone near to offend the veterans of the American army who were present on the first night, and who not knowing the sequel of the action, felt much disposed to condemn him: but surely they must remember the diversity of opinion which agitated the minds of men at that time, on the question of the propriety of putting André to death; and when they add the circumstances of André’s having saved the life of this youth, and gained his ardent friendship, they will be inclined to mingle with their disapprobation, a sentiment of pity, and excuse, perhaps commend, the Poet, who has represented the action without sanctioning it by his approbation.
2As a sequel to the affair of the cockade, the Author has added the following lines, which the reader is requested to insert, page 55, between the 5th and 15th lines,3 instead of the lines he will find there, which were printed before the piece was represented.—
Noble M‘Donald, truth and honor’s champion!
Yet think not strange that my intemperance wrong’d thee:
Good as thou art! for, would’st thou, can’st thou, think it?
My tongue, unbridled, hath the same offence,
With action violent, and boisterous tone,
Hurl’d on that glorious man, whose pious labours
Shield from every ill his grateful country!
That man, whom friends to adoration love,
And enemies revere.—Yes, M‘Donald,
Even in the presence of the first of men
Did I abjure the service of my country,
And reft my helmet of that glorious badge
Which graces even the brow of Washington.4
How shall I see him more!—
Alive himself to every generous impulse,
He hath excus’d the impetuous warmth of youth,
In expectation that thy fiery soul,
Chasten’d by time and reason, will receive
That stamp indelible of godlike virtue.
To me, in trust, he gave this badge disclaim’d,
With power, when thou should’st see thy wrongful error,
From him, to reinstate it in thy helm,
And thee in his high favor. (Gives the cockade.)
Bland (Takes the cockade and replaces it.)
Shall I speak my thoughts of thee and him?
No:—let my actions henceforth shew what thou
And he have made me. Ne’er shall my helmet
Lack again its proudest, noblest ornament,
Until my country knows the rest of peace,
Or Bland the peace of death! [Exit.5
This alteration, as well as the whole performance, on the second night, met the warm approbation of the audience.
6To the performers the Author takes this opportunity of returning his thanks for their exertions in his behalf; perfectly convinced, that on this, as on former occasions, the members of the Old American Company have anxiously striven to oblige him.
If this Play is successful, it will be a proof that recent events may be so managed in tragedy as to command popular attention; if it is unsuccessful, the question must remain undetermined until some more powerful writer shall again make the experiment. The Poem is now submitted to the ordeal of closet examination, with the Author’s respectful assurance to every reader, that as it is not his interest, so it has not been his intention to offend any; but, on the contrary, to impress, through the medium of a pleasing stage exhibition, the sublime lessons of Truth and Justice upon the minds of his countrymen.
New-York, April 4th, 1798.
Spoken by Mr. Martin.9
A Native Bard, a native scene displays,
And claims your candour for his daring lays:
Daring, so soon, in mimic scenes to shew,
What each remembers as a real woe.
Who has forgot when gallant André died?
A name by Fate to Sorrow’s self allied.
Who has forgot, when o’er the untimely bier,
Contending armies paus’d, to drop a tear.
Our Poet builds upon a fact to-night;
Yet claims, in building, every Poet’s right:
To choose, embellish, lop, or add, or blend,
Fiction with truth, as best may suit his end;
Which, he avows, is pleasure to impart,
And move the passions but to mend the heart.
O, may no party spirit blast his views,
Or turn to ill the meanings of the Muse:
She sings of wrongs long past, Men as they were,
To instruct, without reproach, the men that are;
Then judge the Story by the genius shown,
And praise, or damn it, for its worth alone.
|General, dress, American staff uniform, blue, faced with buff, large gold epaulets, cocked hat, with the black and white cockade, indicating the union with France, buff waistcoat and breeches, boots,||Mr. Hallam.10|
|M‘Donald, a man of forty years of age, uniform nearly the same as the first,||Mr. Tyler.|
|Seward, a man of thirty years of age, staff uniform,||Mr. Martin.|
|André, a man of twenty-nine years of age,11 full British uniform after the first scene,||Mr. Hodgkinson.|
|Bland, a youthful but military figure, in the uniform of a Captain of horse—dress, a short blue coat, faced with red, and trimmed with gold lace, two small epaulets, a white waistcoat, leather breeches, boots and spurs; over the coat, crossing the chest from the right shoulder, a broad buff belt, to which is suspended a manageable hussar sword; a horseman’s helmet on the head, decorated as usual, and the union cockade affixed,||Mr. Cooper.|
|Melville, a man of middle age, and grave deportment; his dress a Captain’s uniform when on duty; a blue coat with red facings, gold epaulet, white waistcoat and breeches, boots and cocked hat, with the union cockade,||Mr. Williamson.|
|British Officer,||Mr. Hogg.|
|Children,||Master Stockwell and Miss Hogg.|
|American Sergeant||Mr. Seymour.|
|American Officers and Soldiers, &c.|
Scene, the Village of Tappan, Encampment, and adjoining Country. Time, ten hours.
Act First. Scene First.
A Wood seen by star-light; an Encampment at a distance appearing between the trees.
The solemn hour,
when night and morning meet,13
Mysterious time, to superstition dear,
And superstition’s guides, now passes by;
Deathlike in solitude. The sentinels,
In drowsy tones, from post to post, send on
The signal of the passing hour.
Sounds through the camp. Alas! all is not well;
Else, why stand I, a man, the friend of man,
At midnight’s depth, deck’d in this murderous guise,
The habiliment of death, the badge of dire,
Necessitous coercion. ’Tis not well.
—In vain the enlighten’d friends of suffering man
Point out, of war, the folly, guilt, and madness.
Still, age succeeds to age, and war to war;
And man, the murderer, marshalls out his hosts
In all the gaiety of festive pomp,
To spread around him death and desolation.
How long! how long!————————
—Methinks I hear the tread of feet this way.
My meditating mood may work me woe. (Draws.)
Stand, whoso’er thou art. Answer. Who’s there?
Advance and give the countersign.
Melville, my friend, you here?
And well, my brave young friend. But why do you,
At this dead hour of night, approach the camp,
On foot, and thus alone?
I have but now
Dismounted; and, from yon sequester’d cot,
Whose lonely taper through the crannied wall
Sheds its faint beams, and twinkles midst the trees,
Have I, adventurous, grop’d my darksome way.
My servant, and my horses, spent with toil,
There wait till morn.
Why waited not yourself?
Anxious to know the truth of those reports
Which, from the many mouths of busy Fame,
Still, as I pass’d, struck varying on my ear,
Each making th’other void. Nor does delay
The colour of my hasteful business suit.
I bring dispatches for our great Commander;
And hasted hither with design to wait
His rising, or awake him with the sun.
You will not need the last, for the blest sun
Ne’er rises on his slumbers; by the dawn
We see him mounted gaily in the field,
Or find him wrapt in meditation deep,
Planning the welfare of our war-worn land.
Prosper, kind heaven! and recompence his cares.
You’re from the South, if I presume aright?
I am; and, Melville, I am fraught with news.
The South teems with events; convulsing ones:
The Briton, there, plays at no mimic war:
With gallant face he moves, and gallantly is met.
Brave spirits, rous’d by glory, throng our camp;
The hardy hunter, skill’d to fell the deer,
Or start the sluggish bear from covert rude;
And not a clown that comes, but from his youth
Is trained to pour from far the leaden death,
To climb the steep, to struggle with the stream,
To labour firmly under scorching skies,
And bear, unshrinking, winter’s roughest blast.
This, and that heaven-inspir’d enthusiasm
Which ever animates the patriot’s breast,
Shall far outweigh the lack of discipline.
Justice is ours; what shall prevail against her?
But as I past along, many strange tales,
And monstrous rumours, have my ears assail’d:
That Arnold14 had prov’d false; but he was ta’en,
And hung, or to be hung—I know not what.
Another told, that all our army, with their
Much lov’d Chief, sold and betray’d, were captur’d.
But, as I nearer drew, at yonder cot,
’Twas said, that Arnold, traitor like, had fled;
And that a Briton, tried and prov’d a spy,
Was, on this day, as such, to suffer death.
As you drew near, plain truth advanced to meet you.
’Tis even as you heard, my brave young friend.
Never had people on a single throw
More interest at stake; when he, who held
For us the die, prov’d false, and play’d us foul.
But for a circumstance of that nice kind,
Of cause so microscopic, that the tongues
Of inattentive men call it the effect
Of chance, we must have lost the glorious game.
Blest, blest be heaven!15 whatever was the cause!
The blow ere this had fallen that would have bruis’d
The tender plant which we have striven to rear,
Crush’d to the dust, no more to bless this soil.
What warded off the blow?
The brave young man, who this day dies, was seiz’d
Within our bounds, in rustic garb disguis’d.
16He offer’d bribes to tempt the band that seiz’d him;
But the rough farmer, for his country arm’d,
That soil defending which his ploughshare turn’d,
Those laws, his father chose, and he approv’d,
Cannot, as mercenary soldiers may,
Be brib’d to sell the public-weal for gold.
’Tis well. Just Heaven! O grant that thus may fall
All those who seek to bring this land to woe!
All those, who, or by open force, or dark
And secret machinations, seek to shake
The Tree of Liberty, or stop its growth,
In any soil where thou hast pleas’d to plant it.
Yet not a heart but pities and would save him;
For all confirm that he is brave and virtuous;
Known, but ’till now, the darling child of Honor.
And how is call’d this—honorable spy?
André’s his name.
Bland (Much agitated.)
Aye, Major André.
André!!—O no, my friend, you’re sure deceiv’d—
I’ll pawn my life, my ever sacred fame,
My General’s favor, or a soldier’s honor,
That gallant André never yet put on
The guise of falsehood. O, it cannot be!
How might I be deceiv’d? I’ve heard him, seen him,
And what I tell, I tell from well-prov’d knowledge;
No second tale-bearer, who heard the news.
Pardon me, Melville. O, that well-known name,
So link’d with circumstances infamous!—
My friend must pardon me. Thou wilt not blame
When I shall tell what cause I have to love him:
What cause to think him nothing more the pupil
Of Honor stern, than sweet Humanity.
Rememberest thou, when cover’d o’er with wounds,
And left upon the field, I fell the prey
Of Britain? To a loathsome prison-ship
Confin’d, soon had I sunk, victim of death,
A death of aggravated miseries;
But, by benevolence urg’d, this best of men,
This gallant youth, then favor’d, high in power,
Sought out the pit obscene of foul disease,
Where I, and many a suffering soldier lay,
And, like an angel, seeking good for man,
Restor’d us light, and partial liberty.
Me he mark’d out his own. He nurst and cur’d,
He lov’d and made his friend. I liv’d by him,
And in my heart he liv’d, ’till, when exchang’d,
Duty and honor call’d me from my friend.—
Judge how my heart is tortur’d.—Gracious heaven!
Thus, thus to meet him on the brink of death—
A death so infamous! Heav’n grant my prayer. (Kneels.)
That I may save him, O, inspire my heart
With thoughts, my tongue with words that move to pity!
(Rises.) Quick, Melville, shew me where my André lies.
Good wishes go with you.
I’ll save my friend! [Exeunt.
Scene, the Encampment, by star-light.
Enter the General, M‘Donald, and Seward.
’Tis well. Each sentinel upon his post
Stands firm, and meets me at the bayonet’s point;
While in his tent the weary soldier lies,
The sweet reward of wholesome toil enjoying;
Resting secure as erst within his cot
He careless slept, his rural labour o’er;
17Ere Britons dar’d to violate those laws,
Those boasted laws by which themselves are govern’d,
And strove to make their fellow-subjects slaves.
They know to whom they owe their present safety.
I hope they know that to themselves they owe it:
To that good discipline which they observe,
The discipline of men to order train’d,
Who know its value, and in whom ’tis virtue:
To that prompt hardihood with which they meet
Or toil or danger, poverty or death.
Mankind who know not whence that spirit springs,
18Which holds at bay all Britain’s boasted power,
Gaze on their deeds astonish’d. See the youth
Start from his plough, and straightway play the hero;
Unmurmuring bear such toils as veterans shun;
Rest all content upon the dampsome earth;
Follow undaunted to the deathful charge;
Or, when occasion asks, lead to the breach,
Fearless of all the unusual din of war,
His former peaceful mates. O patriotism!
Thou wond’rous principle of god-like action!
Wherever liberty is found, there reigns
The love of country. Now the self-same spirit
Which fill’d the breast of great Leonidas,
Swells in the hearts of thousands on these plains,
Thousands who never heard the hero’s tale.
’Tis this alone which saves thee, O my country!
And, till that spirit flies these western shores,
No power on earth shall crush thee!
The men of other climes from this shall see
How easy ’tis to shake oppression off;
How all resistless is an union’d people:
19And hence, from our success, (which, by my soul,
I feel as much secur’d, as though our foes
Were now within their floating prisons hous’d,
And their proud prows all pointing to the east)
Shall other nations break their galling fetters,
And re-assume the dignity of man.
Are other nations in that happy state,
That, having broke Coercion’s iron yoke,
They can submit to Order’s gentle voice,
And walk on earth self-ruled? I much do fear it.
As to ourselves, in truth, I nothing see,
In all the wond’rous deeds which we perform,
But plain effects from causes full as plain.
Rises not man for ever ’gainst oppression?
It is the law of life; he can’t avoid it.
But when the love of property unites
With sense of injuries past, and dread of future,
Is it then wonderful, that he should brave
A lesser evil to avoid a greater?
’Tis hard, quite hard, we may not please ourselves,
By our great deeds ascribing to our virtue.
M‘Donald never spares to lash our pride.
In truth I know of nought to make you proud.
I think there’s none within the camp that draws
With better will his sword than does M‘Donald.
I have a home to guard. My son is—butcher’d—
Hast thou no nobler motives for thy arms
Than love of property, and thirst of vengeance?
Yes, my good Seward, and yet nothing wond’rous.
I love this country for the sake of man.
My parents, and I thank them, cross’d the seas,
And made me native of fair Nature’s world,
With room to grow and thrive in. I have thriven,
And feel my mind unshackled, free, expanding,
Grasping, with ken unbounded, mighty thoughts,
At which, if chance my mother had, good dame,
In Scotia, our revered parent soil,
Given me to see the day, I should have shrunk
Affrighted. Now, I see in this new world
A resting spot for man, if he can stand
Firm in his place, while Europe howls around him,
And all unsettled as the thoughts of vice,
Each nation in its turn threats him with feeble malice.
One trial, now, we prove; and I have met it.
And met it like a man, my brave M‘Donald.
I hope so; and I hope my every act
Has been the offspring of deliberate judgment;
Yet, feeling second’s reason’s cool resolves.
20O! I could hate, if I did not more pity,
These bands of mercenary Europeans,
So wanting in the common sense of nature,
As, without shame, to sell themselves for pelf,
To aid the cause of darkness, murder man—
Without inquiry murder, and yet call
Their trade the trade of honor—high-soul’d honor—
Yet honor shall accord in act with falshood.
O that proud man should e’er descend to play
The tempter’s part, and lure men to their ruin!
Deceit and honor badly pair together.
You have much shew of reason; yet, methinks
What you suggest of one, whom fickle Fortune,
In her changeling mood, hath hurl’d, unpitying,
From her topmost height to lowest misery,
Tastes not of charity. André, I mean.
I mean him too; sunk by misdeed, not fortune.
Fortune and chance. O, most convenient words!
Man runs the wild career of blind ambition,
Plunges in vice, takes falshood for his buoy,
And when he feels the waves of ruin o’er him,
good set terms,21 poor Lady Fortune.
General (Sportively to Seward.)
His mood is all untoward; let us leave him.
Tho’ he may think that he is bound to rail,
We are not bound to hear him. (To M‘Donald.) Grant you that?
O, freely, freely! you I never rail on.
No thanks for that; you’ve courtesy for office.
You slander me.
Slander that would not wound.
Worthy M‘Donald, though it suits full well
The virtuous man to frown on all misdeeds;
Yet ever keep in mind that man is frail;
His tide of passions struggling still with Reason’s
Fair and favorable gale, and adverse
Driving his unstable Bark, upon the
Rocks of error. Should he sink thus shipwreck’d,
Sure it is not Virtue’s voice that triumphs
In his ruin. I must seek rest. Adieu!
[Exeunt General and Seward.
Both good and great thou art: first among men:
By nature, or by early habit, grac’d
With that blest quality which gives due force
To every faculty, and keeps the mind
In healthful equipoise, ready for action;
Invaluable temperance—by all
To be acquired, yet scarcely known to any. [Exit.
End of the First Act.
Act Second. Scene, a Prison.
André22 discovered, in a pensive posture, sitting at a table; a book by him and candles: his dress neglected, his hair disheveiled: he rises and comes forward.
Kind heaven be thank’d for that I stand alone
In this sad hour of life’s brief pilgrimage!
Single in misery; no one else involving,
In grief, in shame, and ruin. ’Tis my comfort.
Thou, my thrice honor’d sire, in peace went’st down
Unto the tomb, nor knew to blush, nor knew
A pang for me! And thou, revered matron,
Could’st bless thy child, and yield thy breath in peace!
No wife shall weep, no child lament, my loss.
Thus may I consolation find in what
Was once my woe. I little thought to joy
In not possessing, as I erst possest,
Thy love, Honora! André’s death, perhaps,
May cause a cloud pass o’er thy lovely face;
The pearly tear may steal from either eye;
For thou mayest feel a transient pang, nor wrong
A husband’s rights: more than a transient pang
O mayest thou never feel! The morn draws nigh
To light me to my shame. Frail nature shrinks.—
And is death then so fearful? I have brav’d
Him, fearless, in the field, and steel’d my breast
Against his thousand horrors; but his cool,
His sure approach, requires a fortitude
Which nought but conscious rectitude can give.
(Retires, and sits leaning.)
Enter Bland, unperceived by André.
And is that André! O how chang’d! Alas!
Where is that martial fire, that generous warmth,
Which glow’d his manly countenance throughout,
And gave to every look, to every act,
The tone of high chivalrous animation?—
André, my friend! look up.
Who calls me friend?
Young Arthur Bland.
That name sounds like a friend’s.
(With emotion.) I have inquir’d for thee—wish’d much to see thee—
I prythee take no note of these fool’s tears—
My heart was full—and seeing thee—
Bland (Embracing him.)
I have but now arrived from the south—
Nor heard—till now—of this—I cannot speak.
Is this a place?—O, thus to find my friend!
Still dost thou call me friend? I, who dared act
Against my reason, my declared opinion;
Against my conscience, and a soldier’s fame?
Oft in the generous heat of glowing youth,
Oft have I said how fully I despis’d
All bribery base, all treacherous tricks in war:
Rather my blood should bathe these hostile shores,
And have it said
he died a gallant soldier,
Than with my country’s gold encourage treason,
And thereby purchase gratitude and fame.
Still mayest thou say it, for thy heart’s the same.
Still is my heart the same: still may I say it:
But now my deeds will rise against my words;
And should I dare to talk of honest truth,
Frank undissembling probity and faith,
Memory would crimson o’er my burning cheek,
And actions retrospected choak the tale.
Still is my heart the same. But there has past
A day, an hour—which ne’er can be recall’d!
Unhappy man! tho’ all thy life pass23 pure;
Mark’d by benevolence thy every deed;
The out-spread map, which shows the way thou’st trod,
Without one devious track, or doubtful line;
It all avails thee naught, if in one hour,
One hapless hour, thy feet are led astray;—
Thy happy deeds, all blotted from remembrance;
Cancel’d the record of thy former good.
Is it not hard, my friend? Is’t not unjust?
Not every record cancel’d—O, there are hearts,
Where Virtue’s image, when ’tis once engrav’d,
Can never know erasure.
(Takes his hand) The hour draws nigh which ends my life’s sad story.
I should be firm—
By heaven thou shalt not die!
Thou dost not sure deserve it. Betray’d, perhaps—
Condemn’d without due circumstance made known?
Thou didst not mean to tempt our officers?
Betray our yeoman soldiers to destruction?
Silent. Nay, then ’twas from a duteous wish
To serve the cause thou wast in honor bound——
Kind is my Bland, who to his generous heart,
Still finds excuses for his erring friend.
Attentive hear and judge me.——
Pleas’d with the honors daily shower’d upon me,
I glow’d with martial heat, my name to raise
Above the vulgar herd, who live to die,
And die to be forgotten. Thus I stood,
When, avarice or ambition Arnold24 tempted,
His country, fame, and honor to betray;
Linking his name to infamy eternal.
In confidence it was to me propos’d,
To plan with him the means which should ensure
Thy country’s downfall. Nothing then I saw
But confidential favor in the service,
My country’s glory, and my mounting fame;
Forgot my former purity of thought,
And high-ton’d honor’s scruples disregarded.
It was thy duty so to serve thy country.
Nay, nay; be cautious ever to admit
That duty can beget dissimulation.
On ground, unoccupied by either part,
Neutral esteem’d, I landed, and was met.
But ere my conference was with Arnold25 clos’d,
The day began to dawn: I then was told
That ’till the night I must my safety seek
In close concealment. Within your posts convey’d,
I found myself involv’d in unthought dangers.
Night came. I sought the vessel which had borne
Me to the fatal spot; but she was gone.
Retreat that way cut off, again I sought
Concealment with the traitors of your army.
Arnold26 now granted passes, and I doff’d
My martial garb, and put on curs’d disguise!
Thus in a peasant’s form I pass’d your posts;
And when, as I conceiv’d, my danger o’er,
Was stopt and seiz’d by some returning scouts.
So did ambition lead me, step by step,
To treat with traitors, and encourage treason;
And then, bewilder’d in the guilty scene,
To quit my martial designating badges,
Deny my name, and sink into the spy.
Thou didst no more than was a soldier’s duty,
To serve the part on which he drew his sword.
Thou shalt not die for this. Straight will I fly—
I surely shall prevail—
It is in vain.
All has been tried. Each friendly argument—
All has not yet been tried. The powerful voice
Of friendship, in thy cause, has not been heard.
My General favors me, and loves my father—
My gallant father! would that he were here!
But he, perhaps, now wants an André’s care,
To cheer his hours—perhaps now languishes
Amidst those horrors whence thou sav’d’st his son!
The present moment claims my thought. André—
I fly to save thee!—
Bland, it is in vain.
But, hold—there is a service thou may’st do me.
O, think, and as a soldier think,
How I must die—The manner of my death—
Like the base ruffian, or the midnight thief,
Ta’en in the act of stealing from the poor,
To be turn’d off the felon’s—murderer’s cart,
A mid-air spectacle to gaping clowns:—
To run a short, an envied course of glory,
And end it on a gibbet.———
Such is my doom. O! have the manner changed,
And of mere death I’ll think not. Dost thou think——?
Perhaps thou canst gain that——?
Bland (Almost in a phrenzy.)
Thou shalt not die!
Let me, O! let me die a soldier’s death,
While friendly clouds of smoke shroud from all eyes
My last convulsive pangs, and I’m content.
Bland (With increasing emotion.)
Thou shalt not die! Curse on the laws of war!—
If worth like thine must thus be sacrificed,
To policy so cruel and unjust,
I will forswear my country and her service:
I’ll hie me to the Briton, and with fire,
And sword, and every instrument of death
Or devastation, join in the work of war!
What, shall worth weigh for nought? I will avenge thee!
Hold, hold, my friend; thy country’s woes are full.
What! would’st thou make me cause another traitor?
No more of this; and, if I die, believe me,
Thy country for my death incurs no blame.
Restrain thy ardour—but ceaselessly intreat,
That André may at least die as he lived,
By heaven thou shalt not die!—
(Bland rushes off: André looks after him with an expression of love and gratitude, then retires up the stage. Scene closes.)
Scene, the General’s Quarters.
Enter M‘Donald and Seward, in conversation.
M‘Donald (Coming forward.)
Three thousand miles the Atlantic wave rolls on,
Which bathed Columbia’s shores, ere, on the strand
Of Europe, or of Afric,27 their continents,
Or sea-girt isles, it chafes.—
O! would to heaven,
That in mid-way between these sever’d worlds,
Rose barriers, all impassable to man,
Cutting off intercourse, till either side
Had lost all memory of the other.
What spur now goads thy warm imagination?
Then might, perhaps, one land on earth be found,
Free from th’extremes of poverty and riches;
28Where ne’er a scepter’d tyrant should be known,
Or tyrant lordling, curses of creation;—
Where the faint shrieks of woe-exhausted age,
Raving, in feeble madness, o’er the corse
Of a polluted daughter, stained by lust
Of viand-pamper’d luxury, might ne’er be heard;—
Where the blasted form of much abused
Beauty, by villainy seduced, by knowledge
All unguarded, might ne’er be viewed, flitting
Obscene, ’tween lamp and lamp, i’th’midnight street
Of all defiling city; where the child——
Hold! Shroud thy raven imagination!
Torture not me with images so curst!
Soon shall our foes, inglorious, fly these shores.
Peace shall again return. Then Europe’s ports
Shall pour a herd upon us, far more fell
Than those, her mercenary sons, who, now,
Threaten our sore chastisement.
Prophet of ill,
From Europe shall enriching commerce flow,
And many an ill attendant; but from thence
Shall likewise flow blest Science. Europe’s knowledge,
By sharp experience bought, we should appropriate;
Striving thus to leap from that simplicity,
With ignorance curst, to that simplicity,
By knowledge blest; unknown the gulph between.
Mere theoretic dreaming!
Seems, from out the chaos of the social world,
Where good and ill, in strange commixture, float,
To rise, by strong necessity, impell’d;
Starting, like Love divine, from womb of Night,
Illuming all, to order all reducing;
And shewing, by its bright and noontide blaze,
That happiness alone proceeds from justice.
Dreams, dreams! Man can know nought but ill on earth.
I’ll to my bed, for I have watch’d all night;
And may my sleep give pleasing repetition
Of these my waking dreams! Virtue’s incentives. [Exit.
Folly’s chimeras rather: guides to error.
Enter Bland, preceded by a Sergeant.
Pacquets for the General. [Exit.
Seward, my friend!
Captain! I’m glad to see the hue of health
Sit on a visage from the sallow south.
The lustihood of youth hath yet defied
The parching sun, and chilling dew of even.
I will lead you to him.
Seward, I must make bold. Leave us together,
When occasion offers. ’Twill be friendly.
I will not cross your purpose. [Exeunt.
Scene, a Chamber
Enter Mrs. Bland.
Yes, ever be this day a festival
In my domestic calender. This morn
Will see my husband free. Even now, perhaps,
Ere yet Aurora flies the eastern hills,
Shunning the sultry sun, my Bland embarks.
Already, on the Hudson’s dancing wave,
He chides the sluggish rowers, or supplicates
For gales propitious; that his eager arms
May clasp his wife, may bless his little ones.
O! how the tide of joy makes my heart bound,
Glowing with high and ardent expectation!
Enter two Children.
Here we are, Mama, up and dress’d already.
And why were ye so early?
Why, did not you tell us that Papa was to be home to-day?
I said, perhaps.
2d. Child (Disappointed.)
I don’t like perhaps’s.
No, nor I neither; nor
may be so’s.
We make not certainties, my pretty loves;
I do not like
perhaps’s more than you do.
O! don’t say so, Mama, for I’m sure I hardly ever ask you any thing but you answer me with
may be so,—
Mama, shall I go to the camp to-morrow, and see the General?
May be so, my dear. Hang
may be so, say I.
Well said, Sir Pertness.
But I am sure, Mama, you said, that, to-day, Papa would have his liberty.
So, your dear father, by his letters, told me.
Why, then, I am29 sure he will be here to-day. When he can come to us, I’m sure he will not stay among those strange Englishmen and Hessians. I often wish’d that I had wings to fly, for then I would soon be with him.
Enter Servant, and gives a letter to Mrs.Bland.
An express, Madam, from New-York to Head-quarters, in passing, delivered this.
Papa’s coming home to-day, John.30
[Exeunt Servant and Children.
What fears assail me! O! I did not want
A letter now! (She reads in great agitation, exclaiming, while her eyes are fixed on the paper.)
My husband! doom’d to die! Retaliation!
(She looks forward with wildness, consternation, and horror.)
To die, if André dies! He dies to-day!—
My husband to be murdered! And to-day!
To-day, if André dies! Retaliation!
O curst contrivance!—Madness relieve me!
Burst, burst, my brain!—Yet—André is not dead:
My husband lives. (Looks at the letter.)
One man has power.
I fly to save the father of my children!
End of the Second Act.
Act Third. Scene, the General’s Quarters.
The General and Bland come forward.
General. (Papers in his hand.)
Captain, you are noted here with honorable
Praises. Depend upon that countenance
From me, which you have prov’d yourself so richly
Meriting. Both for your father’s virtues,
And your own, your country owes you honor—
The sole return the poor can make for service.
If from my country ought I’ve merited,
Or gain’d the approbation of her champion,
At any other time, I should not dare,
Presumptuously, to shew my sense of it;
But now, my tongue, all shameless, dares to name
The boon, the precious recompence, I wish,
Which, granted, pays all service, past or future,
O’erpays the utmost I can e’er atchieve.
Brief, my young friend, briefly, your purpose.
If I have done my duty as a soldier;
If I have brav’d all dangers for my country;
If my brave father has deserved ought;
Call all to mind—and cancel all—but grant
My one request—mine, and humanity’s.
Be less profuse of words, and name your wish;
If fit, its fitness is the best assurance
That not in vain you sue; but, if unjust,
Thy merits, nor the merits of thy race,
Cannot its nature alter, nor my mind,
From its determined opposition, change.
You hold the fate of my most lov’d of friends;
As gallant soldier as e’er faced a foe,
Bless’d with each polish’d gift of social life,
And every virtue of humanity.
To me, a saviour from the pit of death,
To me, and many more my countrymen.
Oh! could my words pourtray him what he is;
Bring to your mind the blessings of his deeds,
While thro’ the fever-heated, loathsome holds,
Of floating hulks, dungeons obscene, where ne’er
The dewy breeze of morn, or evening’s coolness,
Breath’d on our parching skins, he pass’d along,
Diffusing blessings; still his power exerting,
To alleviate the woes which ruthless war,
Perhaps, thro’ dire necessity, heap’d on us;
Surely, the scene would move you to forget
His late intent—(tho’ only serving then,
As duty prompted,)—and turn the rigour
Of War’s iron law from him, the best of men,
Meant only for the worst.
Captain, no more.
If André lives, the prisoner finds a friend;
Else helpless and forlorn————
All men will bless the act, and bless thee for it.
Think’st thou thy country would not curse the man,
Who, by a clemency ill-tim’d, ill-judg’d,
Encourag’d treason? That pride encourag’d,
Which, by denying us the rights of nations,
Hath caus’d those ills which thou hast now pourtray’d?
Our prisoners, brave and generous peasantry,
As rebels have been treated, not as men.
’Tis mine, brave yeomen, to assert your rights;
’Tis mine to teach the foe, that, though array’d
In rude simplicity, ye, yet, are men,
And rank among the foremost.31 Oft their scouts,
The very refuse of the English arms,
Unquestion’d, have our countrymen consign’d
To death, when captur’d, mocking their agonies.
Curse them! (Checking himself) Yet let not censure fall on André.
O, there are Englishmen as brave, as good,
As ever land on earth might call its own;
And gallant André is among the best!
Since they have hurl’d war on us, we must shew
That by the laws of war we will abide;
And have the power to bring their acts for trial,
To that tribunal, eminent ’mongst men,
Erected, by the policy of nations,
To stem the flood of ills, which else fell war
Would pour, uncheck’d, upon the sickening world,
Sweeping away all trace of civil life.
To pardon him would not encourage ill.
His case is singular; his station high;
His qualities admired; his virtues lov’d.
No more, my good young friend: it is in vain.
The men entrusted with thy country’s rights
Have weigh’d, attentive, every circumstance.
An individual’s virtue is, by them,
As highly prized as it can be by thee.
I know the virtues of this man, and love them.
But the destiny of millions, millions
Yet unborn, depends upon the rigour
Of this moment. The haughty Briton laughs
To scorn our armies and our councils. Mercy,
Humanity, call loudly, that we make
Our now despised power be felt, vindictive.
Millions demand the death of this young man.
My injur’d country, he his forfeit life
Must yield, to shield thy lacerated breast
From torture. (To Bland.) Thy merits are not overlook’d.
Promotion shall immediately attend thee.
Bland (With contemptuous irony.)
Pardon me, Sir, I never shall deserve it.
(With increasing heat.) The country that forgets to reverence virtue;
That makes no difference ’twixt the sordid wretch,
Who, for reward, risks treason’s penalty,
And him unfortunate, whose duteous service
Is, by mere accident, so chang’d in form,
As to assume guilt’s semblance, I serve not:
Scorn to serve. I have a soldier’s honor,
But ’tis in union with a freeman’s judgment,
And when I act, both prompt. Thus from my helm32
I tear, what once I proudly thought, the badge
Of virtuous fellowship. (Tears the cockade from his helmet.)
My sword I keep. (Puts on his helmet.)
Would, André, thou had’st never put thine off!
Then had’st thou through opposers’ hearts made way
To liberty, or bravely pierc’d thine own! [Exit.
Rash, headstrong, maddening boy!
Had not this action past without a witness,
Duty would ask that thou should’st rue thy folly—
But, for the motive, be the deed forgotten. [Exit.
Scene, a Village.
At a distance some tents. In front muskets, drums, and other indications of soldiers’ quarters.
Enter Mrs. Bland and Children, attended by Melville.
The General’s doors to you are ever open.
But why, my worthy friend, this agitation?
Our Colonel, your husband——
Mrs. Bland (In tears, gives him the letter.)
Do not cry, Mama, for I’m sure if Papa said he would come home to-day he will come yet: for he always does what he says he will.
He cannot come, dear love; they will not let him.
Why, then they told him lies; O, fye upon them!
Melville (Returning the letter.)
Fear nothing, Madam, ’tis an empty threat:
A trick of policy. They dare not do it.
Alas! alas! what dares not power to do?
What art of reasoning, or what magic words,
Can still the storm of fears these lines have rais’d?
The wife’s, the mother’s fears? Ye innocents,
Unconscious on the brink of what a perilous
Precipice ye stand, unknowing that to-day
Ye are cast down the gulph, poor babes, ye weep
From sympathy. Children of sorrow, nurst,
Nurtur’d, ’midst camps and arms; unknowing man,
But as man’s fell destroyer; must ye now,
To crown your piteous fate, be fatherless?
O, lead me, lead me to him! Let me kneel,
Let these, my children, kneel, ’till André pardon’d,
Ensures to me a husband, them a father.
Madam, duty forbids further attendance.
I am on guard to-day. But see your son.
To him I leave your guidance. Good wishes
Prosper you! [Exit Melville.
My Arthur, O, my Arthur!
My mother! (Embracing her.)
My son, I have been wishing
For you——(Bursts into tears, unable to proceed.)
But whence this grief, these tears, my mother?33
Why are these little cheeks bedew’d with sorrow?
(He kisses the children, who exclaim, Brother, brother!)
Have I done aught to cause a mother’s sadness?
No, my brave boy! I oft have fear’d, but never
Sorrow’d for thee.
High praise!—Then bless me, Madam;
For I have pass’d through many a bustling scene
Since I have seen a father or a mother.
Bless thee, my boy! O bless him, bless him, heaven!34
Render him worthy to support these babes!
So soon, perhaps, all fatherless—dependant.—
What mean’st thou, Madam? Why these tears?
A prisoner of war—I long have known it—
But made so without blemish to his honor,
And soon exchang’d, returns unto his friends,
To guard these little ones, and point and lead,
To virtue and to glory.
His life, a sacrifice to André’s manes
Must soon be offer’d. Even now, endungeon’d,
Like a vile felon, on the earth he lies,
His death expecting. André’s execution
Gives signal for the murder of thy father—
André now dies!!———
My father and my friend!!
There is but one on earth can save my husband—
But one can pardon André.
Haste, my mother!
Thou wilt prevail. Take with thee in each hand
An unoffending child of him thou weep’st.
Save—save them both! This way—haste—lean on me.
Scene, the General’s Quarters.
Enter the General and M‘Donald.
Here have I intimation from the foe,
That still they deem the spy we have condemn’d,
Merely a captive; by the laws of arms
From death protected; and retaliation,
As they term it, threaten, if we our purpose hold.
Bland is the victim they have singled out,
Hoping his threaten’d death will André save.
If I were Bland I boldly might advise
My General how to act. Free, and in safety,
I will now suppose my counsel needless.
Enter an American Officer.
Another flag hath from the foe arriv’d,
And craves admittance.
Conduct it hither. [Exit Officer.
Let us, unwearied hear, unbiass’d judge,
Whate’er against our martial court’s decision,
Our enemies can bring.
Enter British Officer, conducted by the American Officer.
You are welcome, Sir.
What further says Sir Henry?
This from him.
He calls on you to think what weighty woes
You now are busy bringing on your country.
He bids me say, that, if your sentence reach
The prisoner’s life (prisoner of arms he deems him,
And no spy), on him alone it falls not.
He bids me loud proclaim it, and declare,
If this brave officer, by cruel mockery
Of war’s stern law, and justice’ feign’d pretence,
Be murder’d; the sequel of our strife, bloody,
Unsparing and remorseless, you will make.
Think of the many captives in our power.
Already one is mark’d; for André mark’d;—
And when his death, unparallel’d in war,
The signal gives, then Colonel Bland must die.
’Tis well, Sir; bear this message in return.
Sir Henry Clinton knows the laws of arms:
He is a soldier, and, I think, a brave one.
The prisoners35 he retains he must account for.
Perhaps the reckoning’s36 near. I, likewise, am
A soldier; entrusted by my country.
What I shall judge most for that country’s good,
That shall I do. When doubtful, I consult
My country’s friends; never her enemies.
In André’s case there are no doubts: ’tis clear:
Sir Henry Clinton knows it.
In strict regard to consequence I act;
And much should doubt to call that action right,
However specious, whose apparent end
Was misery to man. That brave officer
Whose death you threaten, for himself drew not
His sword—his country’s wrongs arous’d his mind;
Her good alone his aim; and if his fall
Can further fire that country to resistance,
He will, with smiles, yield up his glorious life,
And count his death a gain; and tho’ Columbians
Will lament his fall, they will lament in blood.
(General walks up the stage.)
Hear this! hear this, mankind!
Thus am I answered?
Enter a Sergeant with a letter.
Express from Colonel Bland. [Delivers it and exit.
With your permission. (Opens it.)
Your pleasure, Sir. It may my mission further.
O, Bland! my countryman, surely I know thee!
’Tis short: I will37 put form aside, and read it.
Excuse me, my Commander, for having a moment doubted your virtue: but you love me. If you waver, let this confirm you. My wife and children, to you and my country. Do your duty.
Report this to your General.
I shall, Sir.
[Bows, and exit with American Officer.
O, Bland! my countryman! [Exit with emotion.
Triumph of virtue!
Like him and thee, still be Americans.
Then, tho’ all-powerful Europe league against us,
And pour in arms her legions on our shores;
Who is so dull would doubt their shameful flight?
Who doubt our safety, and our glorious triumph? [Exit.38
Scene, the Prison.
Lingering, I come to crush the bud of hope
My breath has, flattering, to existence warm’d.
Hard is the task to friendship! hard to say,
To the lov’d object there remains no hope,
No consolation for thee; thou must die;
The worst of deaths; no circumstance abated.
Enter André—In his uniform, and dress’d.
Is there that state on earth which friendship cannot cheer?
Little I bring to cheer thee, André!
I understand. ’Tis well. ’Twill soon be past.
Yet, ’twas not much I ask’d. A soldier’s death.
A trifling change of form.
Of that I spoke not.
By vehemence of passion hurried on,
I pleaded for thy precious life alone;
The which denied, my indignation barr’d
All further parley. But strong solicitation
Now is urg’d to gain the wish’d-for favor.
What is’t o’clock?
’Tis past the stroke of nine.
Why, then ’tis almost o’er. But to be hung—
Is there no way to escape that infamy?
What then is infamy?—no matter—no matter.
Our General hath received another flag.
Soliciting for me?
On thy behalf.
I have been ever favor’d.
No more solicitations. Harsh, indeed,
The import of the message: harsh, indeed.
I am sorry for it. Would that I were dead,
And all was well with those I leave behind.
Such a threat! Is it not enough, just heaven,39
That I must lose this man? Yet there was left
One for my soul to rest on. But, to know
That the same blow deprives them both of life——
What mean’st thou, Bland? Surely my General
Threats not retaliation! In vengeance,
Dooms not some better man to die for me?
The best of men.
Thou hast a father, captive—
I dare not ask—
That father dies for thee.
Gracious heaven!40 how woes are heap’d upon me!
What! cannot one, so trifling in life’s scene,
Fall, without drawing such a ponderous ruin?
Leave me, my friend, awhile41—I yet have life—
A little space of life—let me exert it
To prevent injustice:—From death to save
Thy father, thee to save from utter desolation.
What mean’st thou, André?
Seek thou the messenger
Who brought this threat. I will my last entreaty
Send by him. My General, sure, will grant it.
To the last thyself! [Exit.
If, at this moment,
When the pangs of death already touch me,
Firmly my mind against injustice strives,
And the last impulse to my vital powers
Is given by anxious wishes to redeem
My fellow men from pain; surely, my end,
Howe’er accomplish’d, is not infamous. [Exit.
End of the Third Act.42
Act Fourth. Scene, the Encampment
Enter M‘Donald and Bland.
It doth in truth appear, that as a—spy—
Detested word!—brave André must be view’d.
His sentence he confesses strictly just.
Yet sure a deed of mercy, from thy hand,
Could never lead to ill. By such an act,
The stern and blood-stain’d brow of War
Would be disarm’d of half its gorgon horrors;
More humanized customs be induced;
And all the race of civilized man
Be blest in the example. Be it thy suit:
’Twill well become thy character and station.
Trust me, young friend, I am alone the judge
Of what becomes my character and station:
And having judg’d that this young Briton’s death,
Even ’though attended by thy father’s murder,
Is necessary, in these times accurs’d,
When every thought of man is ting’d with blood,
I will not stir my finger to redeem them.
Nay, much I wonder, Bland, having so oft
The reasons for this necessary rigour
Enforced upon thee, thou wilt still persist
In vain solicitations. Imitate
My father knew not André.
I know his value; owe to him my life;
And, gratitude, that first, that best of virtues,—
Without the which man sinks beneath the brute,—
Binds me in ties indissoluble to him.
That man-created virtue blinds thy reason.
Man owes to man all love; when exercised,
He does no more than duty. Gratitude,
That selfish rule of action, which commands
That we our preference make of men,
Not for their worth, but that they did us service,
Misleading reason, casting in the way
Of justice stumbling blocks, cannot be virtue.
Detested sophistry!—’Twas André sav’d me!
He sav’d thy life, and thou art grateful for it.
How self intrudes delusive on man’s thoughts!
He sav’d thy life, yet strove to damn thy country;
Doom’d millions to the haughty Briton’s yoke;
The best, and foremost in the cause of virtue,
To death, by sword, by prison, or the halter:
His sacrifice now stands the only bar
Between the wanton cruelties of war,
And our much-suffering soldiers: yet, when weigh’d
With gratitude, for that he sav’d thy life,
These things prove gossamer, and balance air:—
Perversion monstrous of man’s moral sense!
Rather perversion monstrous of all good,
Is thy accurs’d, detestable opinion.
Cold-blooded reasoners, such as thee, would blast
All warm affection; asunder sever
Every43 social tie of humanized man.
Curst be thy sophisms! cunningly contriv’d
The callous coldness of thy heart to cover,
And screen thee from the brave man’s detestation.
Thou knowest that André’s not a spy.
I know him one. Thou hast acknowledg’d it.
Shame on thy ruffian tongue! how passion
Mars thee! I pity thee! Thou canst not harm,
By words intemperate, a virtuous man.
I pity thee! for passion sometimes sways
My older frame, through former uncheck’d habit:
But when I see the havoc which it makes
In others, I can shun the snare accurst,
And nothing feel but pity.
Pity me! (Approaches him, and speaks in an under voice.)
Thou canst be cool, yet, trust me, passion sways thee.
Fear does not warm the blood, yet ’tis a passion.
Hast thou no feeling? I have call’d thee liar!
If thou could’st make me one, I then might grieve.
Thy coolness goes to freezing: thou’rt a coward.
Thou knowest thou tell’st a falsehood.
Thou shalt know
None with impunity speaks thus of me.
That to rouse thy courage. (Touches him gently, with his open hand, in crossing him. M‘Donald looks at him unmoved.)
Dost thou not yet feel?
For thee I feel. And tho’ another’s acts,
Cast no dishonor on the worthy man,
I still feel for thy father. Yet, remember,
I may not, haply, ever be thus guarded,
I may not always the distinction make,
However just, between the blow intended
To provoke, and one that’s meant to injure.
Hast thou no sense of honor?
For I am honor’s votary. Honor, with me,
Is worth: ’tis truth; ’tis virtue; ’tis a thing,
So high pre-eminent, that a boy’s breath,
Or brute’s, or madman’s blow, can never reach it.
My honor is so much, so truly mine,
That none hath power to wound it, save myself.
I will proclaim thee through the camp a coward.
Think better of it! Proclaim not thine own shame.
I’ll brand thee—Damnation! [Exit.
O, passion, passion!
A man who values fame, far more than life;
A brave young man; in many things a good;
Utters vile falsehood; adds injury to insult;
Striving with blood to seal such foul injustice;
And all from impulse of unbridled feeling.— (Pause.)
Here comes the mother of this headstrong boy,
Severely rack’d—What shall allay her torture?
For common consolation, here, is insult.
Enter Mrs. Bland and Children.
O, my good friend!
M‘Donald (Taking her hand.)
I know thy cause of sorrow.
Art thou now from our Commander?
Mrs. Bland (Drying her tears, and assuming dignity.)
But vain is my entreaty. All unmov’d
He hears my words, he sees my desperate sorrow.
Fain would I blame his conduct—but I cannot.
Strictly examin’d, with intent to mark
The error which so fatal proves to me,
My scrutiny but ends in admiration.
Thus when the prophet from the Hills of Moab,
Look’d down upon the chosen race of heaven,44
With fell intent to curse; ere yet he spake,
Truth all resistless, emanation bright
From great Adonai, fill’d his froward mind,
And chang’d the curses of his heart to blessings.45
Thou payest high praise to virtue. Whither now?—
I still must hover round this spot, until
My doom is known.
Then to my quarters, lady,
There shall my mate give comfort and refreshment:
One of your sex can best your sorrows soothe. [Exeunt.
Scene, the Prison.
Where’er I look cold desolation meets me.
My father—André—and self-condemnation!
Why seek I André now? Am I a man,
To soothe the sorrows of a suffering friend?
The weather-cock of passion! fool inebriate!
Who could with ruffian hand strive to provoke
Hoar wisdom to intemperance! who could lie!
Aye, swagger, lie, and brag!—Liar! Damnation!!
O let me steal away and hide my head,
Nor view a man, condemn’d to harshest death,
Whose words and actions, when by mine compar’d,
Show white as innocence, and bright as truth.
I now would shun him; but that his shorten’d
Thread of life, gives me no line to play with.
He comes, with smiles, and all the air of triumph;
While I am sinking with remorse and shame:
Yet he is doom’d to death, and I am free!
Welcome, my Bland! Cheerly, a welcome hither!
I feel assurance that my last request
Will not be slighted. Safely thy father
Shall return to thee. (Holding out a paper.) See what employment
For a dying man. Take thou these verses;
And, after my decease, send them to her
Whose name is woven in them; whose image,
Hath controul’d my destiny. Such tokens
Are rather out of date. Fashions
There are in love as in all else; they change
As variously. A gallant Knight, erewhile,
Of Coeur de Lion’s day, would, dying, send
His heart home to its mistress; degenerate
Soldier I, send but some blotted paper.
If’t would not damp thy present cheerfulness,
I would require the meaning of thy words.
I ne’er till now did hear of André’s mistress.
Mine is a story of that common kind,
So often told, with scanty variation,
That the pall’d ear loaths the repeated tale.
Each young romancer chuses for his theme
The woes of youthful hearts, by the cold hand
Of frosty Age, arm’d with parental power,
Asunder torn. But I long since have ceas’d
To mourn; well satisfied that she I love,
Happy in holy union with another,
Shares not my wayward fortunes. Nor would I
Now these tokens send, remembrance to awaken,
But that I know her happy: and the happy
Can think on misery and share it not.
Some one approaches.
Why, ’tis near the time.
But tell me, Bland, say—is the manner chang’d?
I hope it—but I yet have no assurance.
I must see him!
Who’s voice was that?
My senses?—Do I dream—? (Leans on Bland.)
Where is he?
(Starts from Bland and advances towards Honora; she rushes into his arms.)
It is enough! He lives, and I shall save him.
(She faints in the arms of André.)
She sinks—assist me, Bland! O, save her, save her!
(Places her in a chair, and looks tenderly on her.)
Yet why should she awake from that sweet sleep?
Why should she ope her eyes—(wildly)—to see me hung!
What does she here? Stand off—(tenderly)—and let her die.
How pale she looks! how worn that tender frame!—
She has known sorrow! Who could injure her?
She revives—André—soft, bend her forward.
(André kneels and supports her.)
Yes, it is André!
(Rises and looks at him.)
No more deceived by visionary forms,
By him supported— Leans on him.)
Why is this?
Thou dost look pale, Honora—sick and wan—
Languid thy fainting limbs——
All will be well.
But was it kind to leave me as thou did’st—?
So rashly to desert thy vow-link’d wife?—
When made another’s both by vows and laws——
Honora (Quitting his support.)
What meanest thou?
Did’st thou not marry him?
Did’st thou not give thy hand away
O, never, never!
To none but thee, and but in will to thee.
O, blind, blind wretch!—Thy father told me——
Thou wast deceived. They hurried me away,
Spreading false rumours to remove thy love—
(Tenderly) Thou did’st too soon believe them.
How could I but believe Honora’s father?
And he did tell me so. I reverenced age,
Yet knew, age was not virtue. I believed
His snowy locks, and yet they did deceive me!
I have destroy’d myself and thee!—Alas!
Ill-fated maid! why did’st thou not forget me?
Hast thou rude seas and hostile shores explor’d
For this? To see my death? Witness my shame?
I come to bless thee, André; and shall do it.
I bear such offers from thy kind Commander,
As must prevail to save thee. Thus the daughter
May repair the ills her cruel sire inflicted.
My father, dying, gave me cause to think
That arts were us’d to drive thee from thy home;
But what those arts I knew not. An heiress left,
Of years mature, with power and liberty,
I straight resolv’d to seek thee o’er the seas.
A long-known friend who came to join her lord,
Yielded protection and lov’d fellowship.—
Indeed, when I did hear of thy estate
It almost kill’d me:—I was weak before——
’Tis I have murder’d thee!——
All shall be well.
Thy General heard of me, and instant form’d
The plan of this my visit. I am strong,
Compar’d with what I was. Hope strengthens me:
Nay, even solicitude supports me now:
And when thou shalt be safe, thou wilt support me.
Support thee!—O heaven! What!—And must I die?
Die!—and leave her thus—suffering—unprotected!——
Enter Melville and Guard.
I am sorry that my duty should require
Service, at which my heart revolts; but, Sir,
Our soldiers wait in arms. All is prepar’d——
To death!—Impossible!—Has my delay,
Then, murder’d him?—A momentary respite——
Lady, I have no power.
Melville, my friend,
This lady bears dispatches of high import,
Touching this business:—should they arrive too late——
For pity’s sake, and heaven’s,46 conduct me to him;
And wait the issue of our conference.
O, ’twould be murder of the blackest dye,
Sin execrable, not to break thy orders—
Inhuman, thou art not.
Lady, thou say’st true;
For rather would I lose my rank in arms,
And stand cashier’d for lack of discipline,
Than, gain ’mongst military men all praise,
Wanting the touch of sweet humanity.
Thou grantest my request.
Lady, I do.
Retire! (Soldiers go out.)
I know not what excuse, to martial men,
Thou can’st advance for this; but to thy heart
Thou wilt need none, good Melville.
Cheer up, I feel assur’d. Hope wings my flight,
To bring thee tidings of much joy to come.
[Exit Honora, with Bland and Melville.
Eternal blessings on thee, matchless woman!—
If death now comes, he finds the veriest coward
That e’er he dealt withal. I cannot think
Of dying. Void of fortitude, each thought
Clings to the world—the world that holds Honora! [Exit.
End of the Fourth Act.
Act Fifth. Scene, the Encampment.
Suspence—uncertainty—man’s bane and solace!
How racking now to me! My mother comes.
Forgive me, O, my father! if in this war,
This wasting conflict of my wildering passions,
Memory of thee holds here a second place!
M‘Donald comes with her. I would not meet him:
Yet I will do it. Summon up some courage—
Confess my fault, and gain, if not his love,
At least the approbation of my judgment.
Enter Mrs. Bland and Children, with M‘Donald.
Say, Madam, is there no change of counsel,
Or new determination?
Nought new, my son.
The tale of misery is told unheard.
The widow’s and the orphan’s sighs
Fly up, unnoted by the eye of man,
And mingle, undistinguish’d, with the winds.
My friend (to M‘Donald.) attend thy duties. I must away.
You need not cry, Mama, the General will do it I am sure; for I saw him cry. He turn’d away his head from you, but I saw it.
Poor thing! come let us home and weep. Alas!
I can no more, for war hath made men rocks.
[Exeunt Mrs. Bland and Children.
Colonel, I used thee ill this morning.
Thyself thou used’st most vilely, I remember.
Myself sustain’d the injury, most true;
But the intent of what I said and did
Was ill to thee alone: I’m sorry for it.
Seest thou these blushes? They proceed from warmth
As honest as the heart of man e’er felt;—
But not with shame unmingled, while I force
This tongue, debased, to own, it slander’d thee,
And utter’d—I could curse it—utter’d falshood.
Howe’er misled by passion, still my mind
Retains that sense of honest rectitude
Which makes the memory of an evil deed
A troublesome companion. I was wrong.
Why now this glads me; for thou now art right.
O may thy tongue, henceforward, utter nought
But Truth’s sweet precepts, in fair Virtue’s cause!
Give me thy hand. (Takes his hand.) Ne’er may it grasp a sword,
But in defence of justice.
A few short hours scarce past, when this vile hand
Attempted on thee insult; and was raised
Against thy honor; ready to be raised
Against thy life. If this my deep remorse———
No more, no more. ’Tis past. Remember it
But as thou would’st the action of another,
By thy enlighten’d judgment much condemn’d;
And serving as a beacon in the storms
Thy passions yet may raise. Remorse is vice:
Guard thee against its influence debasing.
Say to thyself,
I am not what I was;
I am not now the instrument of vice;
I’m changed; I am a man; Virtue’s firm friend;
Sever’d for ever from my former self;
No link, but in remembrance salutary.
How all men tower above me!
Nay, not so.
Above what once thou wast, some few do rise;
None above what thou art.
It shall be so.
It is so.
Then to prove it.
For I must yet a trial undergo,
That will require a consciousness of virtue. [Exit.
O what a temper doth in man reside!
How capable of yet unthought perfection! [Exit.
Scene, the General’s Quarters.
Enter General and Seward.
Ask her, my friend, to send by thee her pacquets. [Exit Sew.
O what keen struggles must I undergo!
Unbless’d estate! to have the power to pardon;
The court’s stern sentence to remit;—give life;—
Feel the strong wish to use such blessed power;
Yet know that circumstances strong as fate
Forbid to obey the impulse. O, I feel
That man should never shed the blood of man.
Nought can the lovely suitor satisfy,
But conference with thee, and much I fear
Refusal would cause madness.
Yet to admit,
To hear, be tortur’d, and refuse at last——
Sure never man such spectacle of sorrow
Saw before. Motionless the rough-hewn soldiers
Silent view her, or walk aside and weep.
General (After a pause.)
Admit her. (Seward goes out.) O for the art, the precious art,
To reconcile the sufferer to his48 sorrows!
Honora rushes in, and throws herself wildly on her knees before him; he endeavours to raise her.
Nay, nay, here is my place, or here, or lower,
Unless thou grant’st his life. All forms away!
Thus will I clasp thy knees, thus cling to thee.—
I am his wife—’tis I have ruin’d him—
O save him! Give him to me! Let us cross
The mighty seas, far, far—ne’er to offend again.——
(The General turns away, and hides his eyes with his hand.)
Enter Seward and an Officer.
Seward, support her—my heart is torn in twain.
(Honora, as if exhausted, suffers herself to be raised, and leans on Seward.)
This moment, Sir, a messenger arrived
With well confirm’d and mournful information,
That gallant Hastings, by the lawless scouts49
50Of Britain taken, after cruel mockery
With show of trial and of condemnation,
On the next tree was hung.
O, it is false!
Why, why, my country, did I hesitate! [Exit.
(Honora sinks, faints, and is borne off by Seward and Officer.)
Scene, the Prison.
André, meeting Bland.
How speeds Honora? (Pause.)
Art thou silent, Bland?
Why, then I know my task. The mind of man,
If not by vice debas’d, debilitated,
Or by disease of body quite unton’d,
Hath o’er its thoughts a power—energy divine!
Of fortitude the source and every virtue——
A godlike power,51 which e’en o’er circumstance
Its sov’reignty exerts. Now, from my thoughts,
Honora! Yet she is left alone—expos’d——
O, André, spurn me, strike me to the earth;
For what a wretch am I, in André’s mind,
That he can think he leaves his love alone,
And I retaining life!
Forgive me, Bland,
My thoughts glanc’d not on thee. Imagination
Pictur’d only, then, her orphan state, helpless;
Her weak and grief-exhausted frame. Alas!
This blow will kill her!
Here do I myself
Devote, my fortune consecrate, to thee,
To thy remembrance, and Honora’s service!—
Enough! Let me not see her more—nor think of her—
Farewell! farewell, sweet image! Now for death.
Yet that thou should’st the felon’s fate fulfill—
Damnation! my blood boils. Indignation
Makes the current of my life course wildly
Through its round, and maddens each emotion.
Come, come, it matters not.
I do remember,
When a boy, at school, in our alloted tasks,
We, by our puny acts, strove to pourtray
The giant thoughts of Otway.52 I was Pierre.—
O, thou art Pierre’s reality! a soldier,
On whose manly brow sits fortitude enamour’d!
A Mars, abhorring vice, yet doom’d to die
A death of infamy; thy corse expos’d
To vulgar gaze—halter’d—distorted—Oh!!
(Pauses, and then adds in a low, hollow voice.)
Pierre had a friend to save him from such shame—
And so hast thou.
No more, as thou dost love me.
I have a sword, and arm, that never fail’d me.
Bland, such an act would justly thee involve,
And leave that helpless one thou sworest to guard,
Expos’d to every ill. O! think not of it.
If thou wilt not my aid—take it thyself.
(Draws and offers his sword.)
No, men will say that cowardice did urge me.
In my mind’s weakness, I did wish to shun
That mode of death which error represented
Infamous: now let me rise superior;
And with a fortitude too true to start
From mere appearances, show your country,
That she, in me, destroys a man who might
Have liv’d to virtue.
Bland (Sheathing his sword.)
I will not think more of it;
I was again the sport of erring passion.
Go thou and guide Honora from this spot.
Who shall oppose his wife? I will have way!
They, cruel, would have kept me from thee, André.
Say, am I not thy wife? Wilt thou deny me?
Indeed I am not dress’d in bridal trim.
But I have travell’d far:—rough was the road—
Rugged and rough—that must excuse my dress.
(Seeing André’s distress.) Thou art not glad to see me.
Break my heart!
Indeed, I feel not much in spirits. I wept but now.
Enter Melville and Guard.
Bland (To Melville.)
I am ready.
Honora (Seeing the Guard.)
Are they here?
Here again!—The same—but they shall not harm me—
I am with thee, my André—I am safe—
And thou art safe with me. Is it not so?
(Clinging to him.)
Enter Mrs. Bland.
Where is this lovely victim?
Thanks, my mother.
M‘Donald sent me hither. My woes are past.
Thy father, by the foe releas’d, already
Is in safety. This be forgotten now;
And every thought be turn’d to this sad scene.
Come, lady, home with me.
Go home with thee?
Art thou my André’s mother? We will home
And rest, for thou art weary—very weary.
(Leans on Mrs. Bland.)
André retires to the Guard, and goes off with them, looking on her to the last, and with an action of extreme tenderness takes leave of her. Melville and Bland accompany him.
Now we will go. Come love! Where is he?
All gone!—I do remember—I awake—
They have him. Murder! Help! O, save him! save him!
(Honora attempts to follow, but falls. Mrs. Bland kneels to assist her. Scene closes.)
Scene, the Encampment.
Procession to the execution of André. First enter Pioneers—Detachment of Infantry—Military Band of Music—Infantry. The Music having passed off, enter André between Melville and American Officer; they sorrowful, he cheerfully conversing as he passes over the stage.
It may in me be merely prejudice,
The effect of young-opinion deep engraved
Upon the tender mind by care parental;
But I must think your country has mistook
Her interests.53 Believe me, but for this I should
Not willingly have drawn a sword against her.
(They bow their heads in silence.)
Opinion must, nay ought, to sway our actions;
Having crossed the stage, he goes out as still conversing with them. Another detachment of Infantry, with muffled and craped drums, close the procession: as soon as they are off—
Scene draws and discovers the distant view of the Encampment.
Procession enters in the same order as before, proceeds up the stage, and goes off on the opposite side.
Enter M‘Donald, leading Bland, who looks wildly back.
I dare not thee resist. Yet why, O why
Thus hurry me away——?——
Would’st thou behold——
O, name it not!
Or would’st thou, by thy looks
And gestures wild, o’erthrow that manly calmness
Which, or assum’d or felt, so well becomes thy friend?
What means that cannon’s sound?
M‘Donald (After a pause.)
Signal of death
Appointed. André, thy friend, is now no more!
Farewell, farewell, brave spirit! O, let my countrymen,
Henceforward, when the cruelties of war
Arise in their remembrance; when their ready
Speech would pour forth torrents in their foe’s dispraise,
Think on this act accurst, and lock complaint in silence.
(Bland throws himself on the earth.)
Such are the dictates of the heart, not head.
O may the children of Columbia still
Be taught by every teacher of mankind,
Each circumstance of calculative gain,
Or wounded pride, which prompted our oppressors:
May every child be taught to lisp the tale:
And may, in times to come, no foreign force,
No European influence, tempt to mistate,
Or awe the tongue of eloquence to silence.
Still may our children’s children deep abhor
The motives, doubly deep detest the actors;
Ever remembering, that the race who plan’d,
Who acquiesced, or did the deeds abhor’d,
Has pass’d from off the earth; and, in its stead,
Stand men who challenge love or detestation
But from their proper, individual deeds.
Never let memory of the sire’s offence
Descend upon the son. [Curtain drops.
Presuming that the readers of the foregoing Drama would be gratified by an account of the Hero, divested of all ornament, and separated from poetic fiction, I have collected every thing relative to him which has been made public, and shall state it in the fullest and most simple manner, according to the natural order of time.
Clapton, October 3, 1769.
From their agreeable excursion to Shrewsbury my friends are by this time returned to their beloved Lichfield. Once again have they behold those fortunate spires, the constant witnesses of all their pains and pleasures. I can well conceive the emotions of joy which their first appearance, from the neighbouring hills, excites after absence;—they seem to welcome you home, and invite you to reiterate those hours of happiness, of which they are a species of monument. I shall have an eternal love and reverence for them. Never shall I forget the joy that danced in Honora’s eyes, when she first shewed them to me from the Needwood Forest, on our return with you from Buxton to Lichfield. I remember she called them the Ladies of the Valley—their lightness and elegance deserve the title. Oh! how I lov’d them from that instant! My enthusiasm concerning them is carried farther even than your’s and Honora’s, for every object that has a pyramidal form, recalls them to my recollection, with a sensation, that brings the tear of pleasure into my eyes.
How happy must you have been at Shrewsbury! only that you tell me, alas! that dear Honora was not so well as you wished during your stay there.—I always hope the best. My impatient spirit rejects every obtruding idea, which I have not fortitude to support—Doctor Darwin’s58 skill, and your tender care, will remove that sad pain in her side, which makes writing troublesome and injurious to her; which robs her poor Cher Jean59 of those precious pages, with which he flatters himself, she would otherwise have indulged him.
Julia, perhaps thou fanciest I am merry—Alas! But I do not wish to make you as doleful as myself; and besides, when I would express the tender feelings of my soul, I have no language which does them any justice; if I had, I should regret that you could not have it fresher, and that whatever one communicates by letter must go such a roundabout way, before it reaches one’s correspondent; from the writer’s heart through his head, arm, hand, pen, ink, paper, over many a weary hill and dale, to the eye, head, and heart of the reader. I have often regretted our not possessing a sort of faculty which should enable our sensations, remarks, &c. to arise from their source in a sort of exhalation, and fall upon our paper in words and phrases properly adapted to express them, without passing through an imagination whose operations so often fail to second those of the heart. Then what a metamorphose should we see in people’s stile! How eloquent those who are truly attached! How stupid they who falsely profess affection! Perhaps the former had never been able to express half their regard; while the latter, by their flowers of rhetoric, had made us believe a thousand times more than they ever felt; but this is whimsical moralizing.
My sisters’ Penserosos were dispersed on their arrival in town, by the joy of seeing Louisa and their dear little brother Billy64 again, our kind and excellent uncle Giradot,65 and uncle Lewis André. I was glad to see them; but they complained, not without reason, of the gloom upon my countenance: Billy wept for joy that we were returned, while poor Cher Jean was ready to weep for sorrow. Louisa is grown still handsomer since we left her. Our sisters, Mary and Anne, knowing your partiality to beauty, are afraid that when they shall introduce her to you, she will put their noses out of joint. Billy is not old enough for me to be afraid of in the rival way, else I should keep him aloof, for his heart is formed of those affectionate materials, so dear to the ingenuous taste of Julia and her Honora.
I sympathize in your resentment against the Canonical Dons, who stumpify the heads of those good green people,66 beneath whose friendly shade so many of your happiest hours have glided away; but they defy them; let them stumpify as much as they please; time will repair the mischief; their verdant arms will again extend, and invite you to their shelter.
The evenings grow very long; I hope your conversation round the fire will sometimes fall on the Andrés; it will be a great comfort that they are remembered. We chink our glasses to your healths at every meal; here’s to our Lichfieldian friends, says Nanny;—Oh—ho, says Mary; with all my soul, says I; alons, cries my mother; and the draught seems nectar. The libation made us begin our uncloying theme, and so beguile the gloomy evening.
Mr. and Mrs. Seward will accept my most affectionate respects—My male friend at Lichfield will join in your conversation on the Andrés. Among the numerous good qualities he is possessed of, he certainly has gratitude, and then he cannot forget those who so sincerely love and esteem him; I, in particular, shall always recall with pleasure the happy hours I have passed in his company; my friendship for him, and for your family, has diffused itself, like the precious ointment from Aaron’s beard,67 on every thing which surrounds you; therefore I beg you would give my amities to the whole town. Persuade Honora to forgive the length and ardour of the inclosed, and believe me truly,
Your affectionate and faithful friend,
London, October 19, 1769.
From the midst of books, papers, bills, and other implements of gain, let me lift up my drowsy head a while, to converse with dear Julia. And first, as I know she has a fervent wish to see me a quill-driver, I must tell her, that I begin, as most people are wont to do, to look upon my future profession with great partiality. I no longer see it in so disadvantageous a light. Instead of figuring a merchant as a middle aged man, with a bob wig, a rough beard, in snuff coloured clothes, grasping a guinea in his red hand; I conceive a comely young man, with a tolerable pig-tail, wielding a pen with all the noble fierceness of the Duke of Marlborough brandishing a truncheon upon a sign post,68 surrounded with types and emblems, and canopied with cornucopiaes that disembogue their stores upon his head; Mercuries reclin’d upon bales of goods; Genii playing with pens, ink and paper; while, in perspective, his gorgeous vessels,
launch’d on the bosom of the silver Thames,69 are wafting to distant lands the produce of this commercial nation. Thus all the mercantile glories crowd on my fancy, emblazoned in the most refulgent colouring of an ardent imagination—Borne on her soaring pinions, I wing my flight to the time when Heaven shall have crowned my labours with success and opulence. I see sumptuous palaces rising to receive me. I see orphans and widows, and painters, fidlers, and poets, and builders, protected and encouraged; and when the fabrick is pretty near finished by my shattered pericranium, I cast my eyes around, and find John André, by a small coal fire, in a gloomy compting-house in Warnford court, nothing so little as what he has been making himself, and in all probability never to be much more than he is at present. But oh! my dear Honora! it is for thy sake only I wish for wealth. You say she was somewhat better at the time you wrote last. I must flatter myself that she will soon be without any remains of this threatening disease.
It is seven o’clock; you and Honora, with two or three more select friends, are now probably encircling your dressing-room fire-place. What would I not give to enlarge that circle! The idea of a clean hearth, and a snug circle round it, formed by a few sincere friends, transports me. You seem combined together against the inclemency of the weather, the hurry, bustle, ceremony, censoriousness, and envy of the world. The purity, the warmth, the kindling influence of fire, to all for whom it is kindled, is a good emblem of the friendship of such amiable minds as Julia’s and her Honora’s. Since I cannot be there in reality, pray imagine me with you; admit me to your conversations; think how I wish for the blessing of joining them! and be persuaded that I take part in all your pleasures, in the dear hope, that e’er it be very long, your blazing hearth will burn again for me. Pray keep me a place; let the poker, tongs, or shovel represent me; but you have Dutch tiles, which are infinitely better; so let Moses, or Aaron, or Balaam’s ass, be my representative.70
But time calls me to Clapton. I quit you abruptly till to-morrow: when, if I do not tear the nonsense I have been writing, I may perhaps increase its quantity. Signora Cynthia is in clouded majesty. Silvered with her beams I am about to jog to Clapton upon my own stumps; musing as I homeward plod my way. Ah! need I name the subject of my contemplation!
I had a sweet walk home last night, and found the Claptonians, with their fair guest, a Miss Mourgue, very well. My sisters send their amities, and will write in a few days.
This morning I returned to town. It has been the finest day imaginable. A solemn mildness was diffused throughout the blue horizon; its light was clear and distinct, rather than dazzling; the serene beams of the autumnal sun, gilded hills, variegated woods, glittering spires, ruminating herds, bounding flocks, all combined to enchant the eyes, expand the heart, and
chace all sorrow but despair.71 In the midst of such a scene, no lesser grief can prevent our sympathy with nature——A calmness, a benevolent disposition seizes us with sweet insinuating power. The very brute creation seem sensible of these beauties; there is a species of mild cheerfulness in the face of a lamb, which I have but indifferently expressed in a corner of my paper; and a demure contented look in an ox, which, in the fear of expressing still worse, I leave unattempted.
Business calls me away. I must dispatch my letter. Yet, what does it contain? No matter, you like any thing better than news. Indeed, you never told me so, but I have an intuitive knowledge upon the subject, from the sympathy which I have constantly perceived in the taste of Julia and Cher Jean. What is it to you or me,
If here in the city we have nothing but riot,
If the Spitalfield weavers can’t be kept quiet.72
If the weather is fine, or the streets should be dirty,
Or if Mr. Dick Wilson died aged of thirty?
But, if I was to hearken to the versifying grumbling I feel within me, I should fill my paper, and not have room left to intreat that you would plead my cause to Honora more eloquently than the inclosed letter has the power of doing. Apropos of verses, you desire me to recollect my random description of the engaging appearance of the charming Mrs. ————. Here it is at your service——.
With a flaming red face, and a broad yellow gown,
And a hobbling out-of-breath gait, and a frown.
This little French cousin of ours, Delariseé, was my sister Mary’s play-fellow at Paris. His sprightliness engages my sisters extremely. Doubtless they talk much of him to you in their letters.
How sorry I am to bid you adieu! Oh let me not be forgot by the friends most dear to you at Lichfield! Lichfield! Ah! of what magic letters is that little word composed! How graceful it looks when it is written! Let nobody talk to me of its original meaning.
The field of blood!73 Oh! no such thing! It is the field of joy!
The beautiful city, that lifts up her fair head in the valley, and says, I am, and there is none beside me!74 Who says she is vain? Julia will not say so——nor yet Honora; and least of all their devoted
Clapton, November 1, 1769.
My ears still ring with the sounds of oh Jack! oh Jack! How do the dear Lichfieldians?——What do they say?—What are they about?—What did you do while you were with them?—Have patience, said I, good people; and began my story, which they devoured with as much joyful avidity as Adam did Gabriel’s tidings of heaven.—My mother and sisters are all very well, and delighted with their little Frenchman, who is a very agreeable lad.
Surely you applaud the fortitude with which I left you? Did I not come off with flying colours?—It was a great effort; for, alas! this recreant heart did not second the smiling courage of the countenance; nor is it yet as it ought to be, from the hopes it may reasonably entertain of seeing you all again e’er the winter’s dreary hours are past.—Julia, my dear Julia, gild them with tidings of our beloved Honora!—Oh that you may be enabled to tell me that she regains her health, and her charming vivacity! Your sympathizing heart partakes all the joys and pains of your friends.—Never can I forget its kind offices, which were of such moment to my peace!—Mine is formed for friendship; and I am blest in being able to place so well the purest passion of an ingenuous mind!—How am I honored in Mr. and Mrs. Seward’s attachment to me!—Charming were the anticipations which beguiled the long tracts of hill, and dale, and plain,75 that divide London from Lichfield!—With what delight my eager eyes drank their first view of the dear spires!—What rapture did I not feel on entering your gates! in flying up the hall steps! in rushing into the dining-room! in meeting the gladdened eyes of dear Julia and her enchanting friend!—That instant convinced me of the truth of Rousseau’s observation,
That there are moments worth ages.76 Shall not those moments return? Ah Julia! the cold hand of absence is heavy upon the heart of your poor Cher Jean—he is forced to hammer into it perpetually every consoling argument that the magic wand of hope can conjure up, viz. that every moment of industrious absence advances his journey, you know whither.—I may sometimes make excursions to Lichfield, and bask in the light of my Honora’s eyes!—Sustain me hope! nothing on my part shall be wanting which may induce thee to fulfil thy blossoming promises.
The happy, social circle, Julia, Honora, Miss S—n, Miss B—n, her brother, Mr. S——e, Mr. R——n, &c. &c. are now, perhaps, enlivening your dressing-room, the dear blue region, as Honora calls it, with the sensible observation, the tasteful criticism, or the elegant song; dreading the iron tongue of the nine o’clock bell, which disperses the beings whom friendship and kindred virtues had drawn together.—My imagination attaches itself to all, even the inanimate objects which surround Honora and her Julia; that have beheld their graces and virtues expand and ripen; my dear Honora’s, from their infant bud.
The sleepy Claptonian train are gone to bed, somewhat wearied with their excursion to Enfield, whither they have this day carried their little Frenchman; so great a favourite, the parting was quite tragical. I walked hither from town, as usual, to-night—no hour of the twenty-four is so precious to me as that devoted to this solitary walk.—Oh, my friend! I am far from possessing the patient frame of mind which I so continually invoke!—Why is Lichfield an hundred and twenty miles from me?—There is no moderation in the distance! Fifty or sixty miles had been a great deal too much; but then there would have been less opposition from authority to my frequent visits.—I conjure you supply the want of these blessings by frequent letters. I must not, will not ask them of Honora, since the use of the pen is forbid to her declining health. I will content myself, as usual, with a postscript from her in your epistles.—My sisters are charmed with the packet which arrived yesterday, and which they will answer soon.
As yet I have said nothing of our journey. We met an entertaining Irish gentleman at Dunchurch, and being fellow sufferers in cold and hunger, joined interests, ordered four horses, and stuffed three in a chaise.—It is not to you I need apologize for talking in raptures of an higler,77 whom we met on our road. His cart had passed us, and was at a considerable distance, when looking back, he perceived that our chaise had stopped, and that the driver seemed mending something. He ran up to him, and with a face full of honest anxiety, pity, good nature, and every sweet affection under heaven, asked him if he wanted any thing; that he had plenty of nails, ropes, &c. in his cart——That wretch of a postilion made no other reply than,
We want nothing, master. From the same impulse, the good Irishman, Mr. Till, and myself, thrust our heads instantly out of the chaise, and tried to recompence to the honest creature the surly reply, by every kind and grateful acknowledgment, and by forcing upon him a little pecuniary tribute. My benevolence will be the warmer, while I live, for the treasured remembrance of this higler’s countenance.
I know you interest yourself in my destiny——I have now completely subdued my aversion to the profession of a merchant, and hope in time to acquire an inclination for it.——Yet, God forbid I should ever love what I am to make the object of my attention!—that vile trash, which I care not for, but only as it may be the future means of procuring the blessing of my soul——Thus all my mercantile calculations go to the tune of dear Honora.——When an impertinent consciousness whispers in my ear, that I am not of the right stuff for a merchant, I draw my Honora’s picture from my bosom, and the sight of that dear talisman so inspires my industry, that no toil appears oppressive.
I am going to try my interest in Parliament—How you stare!—It is to procure a frank.80—Be so good to give the enclosed to Honora—it will speak to her—and do you say every thing that is kind of me to every other distinguished friend of the dressing-room circle—encourage them in their obliging desire of scribbling in your letters; but do not let them take Honora’s corner of the sheet.
Adieu!—May you all possess that cheerfulness denied to your Cher Jean. I fear it hurts my mother to see my musing moods; but I can neither help nor overcome them. The near hopes of another excursion to Lichfield could alone disperse every gloomy vapour of my imagination.
Again, and yet again, adieu!
We find annexed to Miss Seward’s Monody on Major André this note:—
Miss HonoraS———, to whom Mr. André’s attachment was of such singular constancy, died, in a consumption, a few months before he suffered death at Tappan. She had married another gentleman four years after her engagement with Mr. André had been dissolved by parental authority.
By another note we are informed, that, on receiving the tidings of Honora’s marriage, Mr. André quitted his profession as a merchant, and joined the British army in America.82
Another note has these words:—
A letter from Major André to one of his friends, written a few years ago, contained the following sentence:—85
I have been taken prisoner by the Americans,84 and stript of every thing except the picture of Honora, which I concealed in my mouth. Preserving that, I yet think myself fortunate.
In the year 1780 Major André amused himself and his friends by writing the following little Poem, called the Cow Chace;86 and Mr. James Rivington, at that time printer to his Britannic Majesty in New-York, says, that the poet gave him the last Canto the day before he left town on the fatal expedition, and that it appeared in the Royal Gazette the morning of the day André was taken. The last stanza has been called prophetic; and the puerile idea has been entertained by many, and even adopted by Miss Seward,87 that this trifling performance influenced the Court-martial in their decision on the trial of its author!
To drive the kine one summer’s morn,
The tanner89 took his way;
The calf shall rue that is unborn
The jumbling of that day.
And Wayne descending steers shall know,
And tauntingly deride,
And call to mind in every low
The tanning of his hide.
Yet Bergen cows still ruminate
Unconscious in the stall,
What mighty means were used to get
And loose90 them after all.
All wond’rous proud in arms they came:
What hero could refuse,
To tread the rugged path to fame,
Who had a pair of shoes?
At six the host with sweating buff,
Arrived at freedom’s pole;97
When Wayne, who thought he’d time enough,
Thus speechified the whole:
O ye whom glory doth unite,
Who freedom’s cause espouse,
Whether the wing that’s doom’d to fight,
Or that to drive the cows!
Ere yet you tempt your further way,
Or into action come,
Hear, soldiers, what I have to say,
And take a pint of rum.
Intemp’rate valour then will string
Each nervous arm the better;
So all the land shall IO sing,
And read the Gen’ral’s letter.
Their fort and block-houses we’ll level,
And deal a horrid slaughter;
We’ll drive the scoundrels to the devil,
* * * * * * * * * * *100
For well you know the latter is
The serious operation;
And fighting with the refugees
Is only demonstration.
His daring words from all the crowd
Such great applause did gain,
That every man declar’d aloud
For serious work with Wayne.
Then from the cask of rum once more
They took a heady jill,103
When one and all they loudly swore
They’d fight upon the hill.
But here——the Muse has not a strain
Befitting such great deeds;
Huzza, they cried, huzza for Wayne
* * * * * * * * * * * *104
Near his meridian pomp the sun
Had journey’d from th’ horizon,105
When fierce the dusky tribe mov’d on,
Of heroes drunk as poison.
The sounds confused of boasting oaths,
Re-echoed thro’ the wood;
Some vow’d to sleep in dead men’s clothes
And some to swim in blood.
At Irvine’s106 nod ’twas fine to see
The left prepare to fight,
The while the drovers, Wayne and Lee,
Drew off upon the right.
Yet the attendance upon Proctor,
They both might have to boast of;
For there was business for the doctor,
And hats to be disposed of.
Let none uncandidly infer,
That Stirling112 wanted spunk;
The self-made peer had sure been there,
But that the peer was drunk.
But turn we to the Hudson’s banks,
Where stood the modest train,
With purpose firm, tho’ slender ranks,
Nor car’d a pin for Wayne.
For them the unrelenting hand
Of rebel fury drove,
And tore from ev’ry genial band,
Of friendship and of love.
And some within a dungeon’s gloom,
By mock tribunals laid;
Had waited long a cruel doom,
Impending o’er their heads.113
Here one bewails a brother’s fate,
There one a sire demands,
Cut off, alas! before their date,
By ignominious hands.
And silver’d grandsires here appear’d,
In deep distress serene,
Of reverend manners, that declared
The better days they’d seen.
Oh curs’d rebellion! these are thine,
Thine are these tales of woe;
Shall at thy dire insatiate shrine
Blood never cease to flow?
And now the foe began to lead
His forces to the attack;
Balls whistling unto balls succeed,
And make the block-house crack.
No shot could pass if you will take
The Gen’ral’s word for true;
But ’tis a d————ble114 mistake,
For ev’ry shot went thro’.
The firmer as the rebels press’d,
The loyal heroes stand;
Virtue had nerv’d each honest breast,
And industry each hand.
Now as the fight was further fought,
And balls began to thicken,
The fray assum’d, the Gen’rals thought,
The colour of a licking.
Yet undismay’d the chiefs command,
And, to redeem the day,
Cry, soldiers charge! they hear, they stand,
They turn, and run away.
Not all delights the bloody spear,
Or horrid din of battle,
There are, I’m sure, who’d like to hear,
A word about the cattle.
Whilst valiant Lee, with courage wild,
Most bravely did oppose
The tears of woman and of child,
Who begg’d he’d leave the cows.
But Wayne, of sympathising heart,
Required a relief,
Not all the blessings could impart
Of battle or of beef;
For now a prey to female charms,
His soul took more delight in
A lovely 129 Hamadryad’s arms,
Than cow driving or fighting:
A nymph, the refugees had drove,
Far from her native tree,
Just happen’d to be on the move,
When up came Wayne and Lee.
She in mad Anthony’s fierce eye,
The hero saw pourtray’d;
And all in tears she took him by
——The bridle of his jade.
Hear, said the nymph, O great commander!
No human lamentations;
The trees you see them cutting yonder,
Are all my near relations.
And I, forlorn! implore thine aid,
To free the sacred grove;
So shall thy prowess be repaid
With an Immortal’s love.
That drums and merry fifes had play’d
To honor her retreat,
And Cunningham132 himself convey’d
The lady thro’ the street.
Great Wayne, by soft compassion sway’d,
To no inquiry stoops,
But takes the fair afflicted maid
Right into Yan Van Poop’s.
So Roman Anthony, they say,
Disgraced the imperial banner,
And for a gypsy133 lost the day,
Like Anthony the tanner.
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *134
When drums and colours, cow and calf,
Came down the road amain.
All in a cloud of dust were seen
The sheep, the horse, the goat,
The gentle heifer, ass obscene,
The yearling and the shoat.
And pack-horses with fowls came by,
Befeather’d on each side,
Like Pegasus, the horse that I
And other poets ride.
Sublime upon his stirrups rose
The mighty Lee behind,
And drove the terror-smitten cows
Like chaff before the wind.
But sudden see the woods above
Pour down another corps;
All helter skelter in a drove,
Like that I sung before.
Irvine and terror in the van
Came flying all abroad;
And cannon, colours, horse and man,
Ran tumbling to the road.
Still as he fled, ’twas Irvine’s cry,
And his example too,
Run on, my merry men all—For why?
The shot will not go thro’.
135Five refugees (’tis true) were found
Stiff on the block-house floor,
But then ’tis thought the shot went round,
And in at the back door.
So met these dung-born tribes in one,
As swift in their career;
And so to New-Bridge they ran on,—
But all the cows got clear.
Poor parson ———,138 all in wonder,
Saw the returning train,
And mourn’d to Wayne the lack of plunder
For them to steal again.
For ’twas his right to seize the spoil, and
To share with each commander,
As he had done at Staten-Island,
With frost-bit Alexander.139
I view a future day, said he,
Brighter than this day dark is,
And you shall see what you shall see,
Ha! ha! one pretty Marquis;
And all the land around shall glory
To see the Frenchmen caper,
And pretty Susan144 tell the story
In the next Chatham paper.
This solemn prophecy, of course,
Gave all much consolation,
Except to Wayne, who lost his horse
Upon the great occasion.
And now I’ve clos’d my epic strain,
I tremble as I shew it,
Lest this same warrior-drover, Wayne,
Should ever catch the poet.147
Major John André.148
Extracts of Letters from General Washington to the President of Congress.
Robinson’s149 House, in the Highlands, Sept. 26, 1780.
I have the honor to inform Congress, that I arrived here yesterday about twelve o’clock, on my return from Hartford. Some hours previous to my arrival, Major-General Arnold went from his quarters, which were this place, and, as it was supposed, over the river to the garrison at West-Point, whither I proceeded myself, in order to visit the post. I found General Arnold had not been there during the day; and, on my return to his quarters, he was still absent. In the mean time, a packet had arrived from Lieut. Colonel Jameson, announcing the capture of a John Anderson, who was endeavouring to go to New-York, with several interesting and important papers, all in the hand-writing of General Arnold. This was also accompanied with a letter from the prisoner, avowing himself to be Major John André, Adjutant-General to the British army, relating the manner of his capture, and endeavouring to shew that he did not come under the description of a spy. From these several circumstances, and information that the General seemed to be thrown into some degree of agitation, on receiving a letter a little time before he went from his quarters, I was led to conclude immediately that he had heard of Major André’s captivity, and that he would, if possible, escape to the enemy; and accordingly took such measures as appeared the most probable to apprehend him. But he had embarked in a barge, and proceeded down the river, under a flag,150 to the Vulture ship of war, which lay at some miles below Stony and Verplanck’s Points. He wrote me a letter after he got on board.—Major André is not yet arrived, but I hope he is secure, and that he will be here to-day. I have been, and am taking precautions, which I trust will prove effectual, to prevent the important consequences which this conduct, on the part of General Arnold, was intended to produce. I do not know the party that took Major André, but it is said that it consisted only of a few militia, who acted in such a manner upon the occasion, as does them the highest honor, and proves them to be men of great virtue. As soon as I know their names, I shall take pleasure in transmitting them to Congress.
Paramus, October 7, 1780.
I have the honor to enclose Congress a copy of the proceedings of a Board of General Officers in the case of Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army. This officer was executed, in pursuance of the opinion of the Board, on Monday, the 2d instant, at twelve o’clock, at our late camp, at Tappan. Besides the proceedings, I transmit copies of sundry letters respecting the matter, which are all that passed on the subject, not included in the proceedings.
I have now the pleasure to communicate the names of the three persons who captured Major André, and who refused to release him, notwithstanding the most earnest importunities and assurances of a liberal reward on his part. Their names are, John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wert.
Proceedings of a Board of General Officers, held by order of his Excellency General Washington, Commander in Chief of the Army of the United States of America, respecting Major André, Adjutant-General of the British Army, September the 29th, 1780, at Tappan, in the State of New-York.151
- Major-General Green, President.152
- Major-General Lord Stirling,153
- Major-General St. Clair,154
- Major-General the Marquis la Fayette,155
- Major-General Howe,156
- Major-General the Baron de Steuben,157
- Brigadier-General Parsons,158
- Brigadier-General Clinton,159
- Brigadier-General Knox,160
- Brigadier-General Glover,161
- Brigadier-General Patterson,162
- Brigadier-General Hand,163
- Brigadier-General Huntington,164
- Brigadier-General Starke,165
- John Lawrence, Judge-Advocate-General.166
Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, was brought before the Board, and the following letter from General Washington to the Board, dated Headquarters, Tappan, September 29, 1780, was laid before them, and read.
Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, will be brought before you for your examination. He came within our lines in the night, on an interview with Major-General Arnold, and in an assumed character, and was taken within our lines, in a disguised habit, with a pass under a feigned name, and with the enclosed papers concealed upon him. After a careful examination, you will be pleased, as speedily as possible, to report a precise state of his case, together with your opinion of the light in which he ought to be considered, and the punishment that ought to be inflicted. The Judge-Advocate will attend to assist in the examination, who has sundry other papers, relative to this matter, which he will lay before the Board.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
The Board of General Officers convened at Tappan.
The names of the officers composing the Board were read to Major André, and on his being asked whether he confessed the matters contained in the letter from his Excellency General Washington to the Board, or denied them, he said,
in addition to his letter to General Washington, dated Salem, the 24th September, 1780, which was read to the Board, and acknowledged by Major André to have been written by him, which letter is as follows:
Salem, September 24, 1780.
What I have as yet said concerning myself, was in the justifiable attempt to be extricated; I am too little accustomed to duplicity to have succeeded.
I beg your Excellency will be persuaded that no alteration in the temper of my mind, or apprehension for my safety, induces me to take the step of addressing you, but that it is to secure myself from an imputation of having assumed a mean character, for treacherous purposes or self-interest—A conduct incompatible with the principles that actuated me, as well as with my condition in life.
It is to vindicate my fame that I speak, and not to solicit security.
The person in your possession is Major John André, Adjutant-General to the British army.
The influence of one commander in the army of his adversary, is an advantage taken in war. A correspondence for this purpose I held; as confidential (in the present instance) with his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton.
To favor it, I agreed to meet upon ground not within posts of either army, a person who was to give me intelligence: I came up in the Vulture man of war, for this effect, and was fetched, by a boat from the shore, to the beach: Being there, I was told that the approach of day would prevent my return, and that I must be concealed until the next night. I was in my regimentals, and had fairly risked my person.
Against my stipulation, my intention, and without my knowledge before hand, I was conducted within one of your posts. Your Excellency may conceive my sensation on this occasion, and will imagine how much more I must have been affected, by a refusal to reconduct me back the next night, as I had been brought. Thus become a prisoner, I had to concert my escape. I quitted my uniform, was passed another way in the night without the American posts to neutral ground, and informed I was beyond all armed parties, and left to press for New-York. I was taken at Tarry-Town by some volunteers.
Thus, as I have had the honor to relate, was I betrayed (being Adjutant-General of the British army) into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise within your posts.
Having avowed myself a British officer, I have nothing to reveal but what relates to myself, which is true on the honor of an officer and a gentleman.
The request I have to make your Excellency, and I am conscious I address myself well, is, that in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency of conduct towards me may mark, that though unfortunate, I am branded with nothing dishonorable, as no motive could be mine but the service of my King, and as I was involuntarily an impostor.
Another request is, that I may be permitted to write an open letter to Sir Henry Clinton, and another to a friend for clothes and linen.
I take the liberty to mention the condition of some gentlemen at Charleston, who being either on parole or under protection, were engaged in a conspiracy against us. Tho’ their situation is not similar, they are objects who may be set in exchange for me, or are persons whom the treatment I receive might affect.
It is no less, Sir, in a confidence in the generosity of your mind, than on account of your superior station, that I have chosen to importune you with this letter.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir,
Your Excellency’s most obedient,
and most humble servant,
John André, Adjutant-General.
His Excellency General Washington, &c. &c. &.
That he came on shore from the Vulture sloop of war, in the night of the twenty-first of September instant, somewhere under the Haverstraw Mountain: That the boat he came on shore in carried no flag; and that he had on a surtout coat over his regimentals, and that he wore his surtout coat when he was taken: That he met General Arnold on the shore, and had an interview with him there. He also said, that when he left the Vulture sloop of war, it was understood that he was to return that night; but it was then doubted, and if he could not return, he was promised to be concealed on shore in a place of safety, until the next night, when he was to return in the same manner he came on shore; and when the next day came, he was solicitous to get back, and made inquiries in the course of the day how he should return, when he was informed he could not return that way, and he must take the route he did afterwards. He also said, that the first notice he had of his being within any of our posts, was, being challenged by the sentry, which was the first night he was on shore. He also said, that the evening of the twenty-second of September instant, he passed King’s-Ferry, between our posts of Stony and Verplanck’s Points, in the dress he is at present in, and which he said was not his regimentals, and which dress he procured, after he landed from the Vulture, and when he was within our post; and that he was proceeding to New-York, but was taken on his way at Tarry-Town, as he has mentioned in his letter, on Saturday the twenty-third of September instant, about nine o’clock in the morning.
The following papers were laid before the Board and shewn to Major André, who confessed to the Board, that they were found on him when he was taken, and said they were concealed in his boot, except the pass:——
A pass from General Arnold to John Anderson, which name Major André acknowledged he assumed.
Artillery orders, September 5, 1780.
Estimate of the force at West-Point and its dependencies, September, 1780.
Estimate of men to man the works at West-Point, &c.
Return of ordnance at West-Point, September, 1780.
Remarks on works at West-Point.
Copy of a state of matters laid before a council of war, by his Excellency General Washington, held the 6th of September, 1780.
A letter signed John Anderson, dated September 7, 1780, to Colonel Sheldon,167 was also laid before the Board, and shewn to Major André, which he acknowledged to have been written by him, and is as follows:
New-York, the 7th Sept. 1780.
I am told my name is made known to you, and that I may hope your indulgence in permitting me to meet a friend near your out-posts. I will endeavour to obtain permission to go out with a flag, which will be sent to Dobb’s Ferry on Monday next, the 11th, at twelve o’clock, when I shall be happy to meet Mr. G———.168 Should I not be allowed to go, the officer who is to command the escort, between whom and myself no distinction need be made, can speak on the affair.
Let me intreat you, Sir, to favor a matter so interesting to the parties concerned, and which is of so private a nature, that the public on neither side can be injured by it.
I shall be happy on my part in doing any act of kindness to you, in a family or property concern of a similar nature.
I trust I shall not be detained, but should any old grudge be a cause for it, I shall rather risk that, than neglect the business in question, or assume a mysterious character to carry on an innocent affair, and, as friends have advised, get to your lines by stealth. I am, Sir, with all regard,
Your most obedient humble servant,
Major André observed that this letter could be of no force in the case in question, as it was written in New-York, when he was under the orders of General Clinton; but that it tended to prove that it was not his intention to come within our lines.
The Board having interrogated Major André about his conception of his coming on shore under the sanction of a flag, he said, that it was impossible for him to suppose he came on shore under that sanction; and added, that if he came on shore under that sanction, he certainly might have returned under it.
Major André having acknowledged the preceding facts, and being asked whether he had any thing to say respecting them, answered, he left them to operate with the Board.
The examination of Major André being concluded, he was remanded into custody.
The following letters were laid before the Board, and read:—Benedict Arnold’s letter to General Washington, dated September 25, 1780; Colonel Robinson’s169 letter to General Washington, dated September 25, 1780; and General Clinton’s letter, dated 26th September, 1780, (inclosing a letter of the same date from Benedict Arnold) to General Washington.
On board the Vulture, Sept. 25, 1780.
The heart which is conscious of its own rectitude, cannot attempt to palliate a step which the world may censure as wrong; I have ever acted from a principle of love to my country, since the commencement of the present unhappy contest between Great-Britain and the colonies; the same principle of love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man’s actions.
I have no favor to ask for myself. I have too often experienced the ingratitude of my country to attempt it; but from the known humanity of your Excellency, I am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold, from every insult and injury that the mistaken vengeance of my country may expose her to. It ought to fall only on me; she is as good and as innocent as an angel, and is incapable of doing wrong.170 I beg she may be permitted to return to her friends171 in Philadelphia, or to come to me, as she may choose: from your Excellency I have no fears on her account, but she may suffer from the mistaken fury of the country.
I have to request that the inclosed letter may be delivered to Mrs. Arnold, and she permitted to write to me.
I have also to ask that my clothes and baggage, which are of little consequence, may be sent to me; if required, their value shall be paid for in money.
I have the honor to be, with great regard and esteem,
Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
N. B. In justice to the gentlemen of my family,172 Colonel Varick and Major Franks, I think myself in honor bound to declare, that they, as well as Joshua Smith, Esq. (who I know is suspected) are totally ignorant of any transactions of mine, that they had reason to believe were injurious to the public.
Vulture, off Sinsinck, Sept. 25, 1780.
I am this moment informed that Major André, Adjutant-General of his Majesty’s army in America, is detained as a prisoner by the army under your command: it is, therefore, incumbent on me to inform you of the manner of his falling into your hands. He went up with a flag at the request of General Arnold, on public business with him, and had his permit to return by land to New-York. Under these circumstances Major André cannot be detained by you, without the greatest violation of flags, and contrary to the custom and usage of all nations; and, as I imagine you will see this matter in the same point of view as I do, I must desire that you will order him to be set at liberty, and allowed to return immediately. Every step Major André took was by the advice and direction of General Arnold, even that of taking a feigned name, and of course not liable to censure for it.
I am, Sir, not forgetting former acquaintance,
Your very humble servant,
Bev. Robinson, Col. Loyal Americans.
His Excellency General Washington.
New-York, Sept. 26, 1780.
Being informed that the King’s Adjutant-General in America has been stopt under Major-General Arnold’s passports, and is detained a prisoner in your Excellency’s army. I have the honor to inform you, Sir, that I permitted Major André to go to Major-General Arnold, at the particular request of that general officer. You will perceive, Sir, by the inclosed paper, that a flag of truce was sent to receive Major André, and passports granted for his return: I therefore can have no doubt but your Excellency will immediately direct, that this officer has permission to return to my orders at New-York.
I have the honor to be, your Excellency’s
most obedient and most humble servant.
His Excellency General Washington.
New-York. Sept. 26, 1780.
In answer to your Excellency’s message, respecting your Adjutant-General, Major André, and desiring my idea of the reasons why he is detained, being under my passports, I have the honor to inform you, Sir, that I apprehend a few hours must return Major André to your Excellency’s orders, as that officer is assuredly under the protection of a flag of truce sent by me to him, for the purpose of a conversation which I requested to hold with him relating to myself, and which I wished to communicate through that officer to your Excellency.
I commanded at the time at West-Point, had an undoubted right to send my flag of truce for Major André, who came to me under that protection, and having held my conversation with him, I delivered him confidential papers in my own hand-writing, to deliver to your Excellency. Thinking it much properer he should return by land, I directed him to make use of the feigned name of John Anderson, under which he had, by my direction, come on shore, and gave him my passports to go to the White Plains, on his way to New-York. This officer cannot therefore fail of being immediately sent to New-York, as he was invited to a conversation with me, for which I sent him a flag of truce, and finally gave him passports for his safe return to your Excellency; all which I had then a right to do, being in the actual service of America, under the orders of General Washington, and commanding general at West-Point and its dependencies.
I have the honor to be, your Excellency’s
most obedient and very humble servant,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton.
The Board having considered the letter from his Excellency General Washington respecting Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, the confession of Major André, and the papers produced to them, report to his Excellency the Commander in Chief, the following facts, which appear to them relative to Major André.
First, That he came on shore from the Vulture sloop of war, in the night of the twenty-first of September instant, on an interview with General Arnold, in a private and secret manner.
Secondly, That he changed his dress within our lines, and under a feigned name, and in a disguised habit, passed our works at Stony and Verplanck’s Points, the evening of the twenty-second of September instant, and was taken the morning of the twenty-third of September instant, at Tarry-Town, in a disguised habit, being then on his way to New-York; and when taken, he had in his possession several papers, which contained intelligence for the enemy.
The Board having maturely considered these facts, do also report to his Excellency General Washington, that Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion, he ought to suffer death.
- Nathaniel Green, Major-General, President.
- Stirling, Major-General.173
- Ar. St. Clair, Major-General.
- La Fayette, Major-General.174
- R. Howe, Major-General.
- Steuben, Major-General.175
- Samuel H. Parsons, Brigadier-General.
- James Clinton, Brigadier-General.
- H. Knox, Brigadier-General of Artillery.
- John Glover, Brigadier-General.
- John Patterson, Brigadier-General.
- Edward Hand, Brigadier-General.
- J. Huntington, Brigadier-General.
- John Starke, Brigadier-General.
- John Lawrence, Judge-Advocate-General.
Copy of a Letter from Major André, Adjutant-General, to Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. &c. &c.
Tappan, Sept. 29, 1780.
Your Excellency is doubtless already apprized of the manner in which I was taken, and possibly of the serious light in which my conduct is considered, and the rigorous determination that is impending.
Under these circumstances, I have obtained General Washington’s permission to send you this letter; the object of which is, to remove from your breast any suspicion, that I could imagine I was bound by your Excellency’s orders to expose myself to what has happened.176 The events of coming within an enemy’s posts, and of changing my dress, which led me to my present situation, were contrary to my own intentions, as they were to your orders; and the circuitous route, which I took to return, was imposed (perhaps unavoidably) without alternative upon me.
I am perfectly tranquil in mind, and prepared for any fate to which an honest zeal for my King’s service may have devoted me.
In addressing myself to your Excellency on this occasion, the force of all my obligations to you, and of the attachment and gratitude I bear you, recurs to me. With all the warmth of my heart, I give you thanks for your Excellency’s profuse kindness to me; and I send you the most earnest wishes for your welfare, which a faithful, affectionate, and respectful attendant can frame.
I have a mother and three sisters, to whom the value of my commission would be an object, as the loss of Grenada has much affected their income. It is needless to be more explicit on this subject; I am persuaded of your Excellency’s goodness.177
I receive the greatest attention from his Excellency General Washington, and from every person under whose charge I happen to be placed.
I have the honor to be,
With the most respectful attachment,
Your Excellency’s most obedient,
and most humble servant,
John André, Adjutant-General.
His Excellency Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. &c. &c. &c.
Copy of a Letter from his Excellency General Washington, to his Excellency, Sir Henry Clinton.
Head-Quarters, Sept. 30, 1780.
In answer to your Excellency’s letter of the 26th instant, which I had the honor to receive, I am to inform you, that Major André was taken under such circumstances as would have justified the most summary proceedings against him. I determined, however, to refer his case to the examination and decision of a Board of General Officers, who have reported, on his free and voluntary confession and letters, That he came on shore from the Vulture sloop of war, in the night of the twenty-first of September instant, &c. &c. as in the report of the Board of General Officers.
From these proceedings, it is evident Major André was employed in the execution of measures very foreign to the objects of flags of truce, and such as they were never meant to authorise or countenance in the most distant degree; and this gentleman confessed, with the greatest candor, in the course of his examination, That it was impossible for him to suppose he came on shore under the sanction of a flag.
I have the honor to be your Excellency’s
Most obedient and most humble servant.
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton.
In this letter, Major André’s of the 29th of September to Sir Henry Clinton was transmitted.
New-York, 29th Sept. 1780.
Persuaded that you are inclined rather to promote than prevent the civilities and acts of humanity, which the rules of war permit between civilized nations, I find no difficulty in representing to you, that several letters and messages sent from hence have been disregarded, are unanswered, and the flags of truce that carried them, detained. As I have ever treated all flags of truce with civility and respect, I have a right to hope, that you will order my complaint to be immediately redressed.
Major André, who visited an officer commanding in a district at his own desire, and acted in every circumstance agreeable to his direction, I find is detained a prisoner; my friendship for him leads me to fear he may suffer some inconvenience for want of necessaries; I wish to be allowed to send him a few, and shall take it as a favor if you will be pleased to permit his servant to deliver them. In Sir Henry Clinton’s absence, it becomes a part of my duty to make this representation and request.
I am, Sir, your Excellency’s
Most obedient humble servant,
James Robertson, Lieutenant-General.178
His Excellency General Washington.
Tappan, Sept. 30, 1780.
I have just received your letter of the 29th. Any delay which may have attended your flags, has proceeded from accident and the peculiar circumstances of the occasion, not from intentional neglect or violation. The letter that admitted of an answer, has received one as early as it could be given with propriety, transmitted by a flag this morning. As to messages, I am uninformed of any that have been sent.
The necessaries for Major André will be delivered to him, agreeable to your request.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
His Excellency Lieut. Gen. Robertson, New-York.
New-York, Sept. 30, 1780.
From your Excellency’s letter of this date, I am persuaded the Board of General Officers, to whom you referred the case of Major André, cannot have been rightly informed of all the circumstances on which a judgment ought to be formed. I think it of the highest moment to humanity, that your Excellency should be perfectly apprized of the state of this matter, before you proceed to put that judgment in execution.
For this reason, I send his Excellency Lieutenant-General Robertson, and two other gentlemen, to give you a true state of facts, and to declare to you my sentiments and resolutions. They will set out to-morrow, as early as the wind and tide will permit, and wait near Dobb’s Ferry for your permission and safe conduct, to meet your Excellency, or such persons as you may appoint, to converse with them on this subject.
I have the honor to be your Excellency’s
Most obedient and most humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
Lieut. General Robertson, Mr. Elliot, and Mr. Smith, came up in a flag vessel to Dobb’s Ferry, agreeable to the above letter. The two last were not suffered to land.181 General Robertson was permitted to come on shore, and was met by Major-General Greene, who verbally reported that General Robertson mentioned to him in substance what is contained in his letter of the 2d of October to General Washington.182
New-York, October 1, 1780.
I take this opportunity to inform your Excellency, that I consider myself no longer acting under the commission of Congress: Their last to me being among my papers at West-Point, you, Sir, will make such use of it as you think proper.
At the same time, I beg leave to assure your Excellency, that my attachment to the true interest of my country is invariable, and that I am actuated by the same principle which has ever been the governing rule of my conduct, in this unhappy contest.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
Greyhound Schooner, Flag of Truce.
Dobb’s Ferry, Oct. 2, 1780.
A note I have from General Greene, leaves me in doubt if his memory had served him to relate to you, with exactness, the substance of the conversation that had passed between him and myself, on the subject of Major André. In an affair of so much consequence to my friend, to the two armies, and humanity, I would leave no possibility of a misunderstanding, and therefore take the liberty to put in writing the substance of what I said to General Greene.
I offered to prove, by the evidence of Colonel Robinson, and the officers of the Vulture, that Major André went on shore at General Arnold’s desire, in a boat sent for him with a flag of truce;183 that he not only came ashore with the knowledge, and under the protection of the general who commanded in the district, but that he took no step, while on shore, but by the direction of General Arnold, as will appear by the inclosed letter from him to your Excellency. Under these circumstances I could not, and hoped you would not, consider Major André as a spy, for any improper phrase in his letter to you.184
The facts he relates correspond with the evidence I offer; but he admits a conclusion that does not follow. The change of clothes and name was ordered by General Arnold, under whose direction he necessarily was, while within his command. As General Greene and I did not agree in opinion, I wished that disinterested gentlemen of knowledge of the law of war and nations, might be asked their opinion on the subject, and mentioned Monsieur Knyphausen185 and General Rochambault.186
I related that a Captain Robinson187 had been delivered to Sir Henry Clinton as a spy, and undoubtedly was such; but that it being signified to him that you were desirous that this man should be exchanged, he had ordered him to be exchanged.
I wished that an intercourse of such civilities as the rules of war admit of, might take off many of its horrors. I admitted that Major André had a great share of Sir Henry Clinton’s esteem, and that he would be infinitely obliged by his liberation; and that if he was permitted to return with me, I would engage to have any person you would be pleased to name, set at liberty.
I added, that Sir Henry Clinton had never put to death any person for a breach of the rules of war, though he had, and now has, many in his power. Under the present circumstances, much good may arise from humanity, much ill from the want of it. If that could give any weight, I beg leave to add, that your favorable treatment of Major André will be a favor I should ever be intent to return to any you hold dear.
My memory does not retain with the exactness I could wish, the words of the letter which General Greene shewed me from Major André to your Excellency. For Sir Henry Clinton’s satisfaction, I beg you will order a copy of it to be sent to me at New-York.
I have the honor to be your Excellency’s
Most obedient, and most humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
New-York, October 1, 1780.
The polite attention shewn by your Excellency and the gentlemen of your family to Mrs. Arnold, when in distress, demands my grateful acknowledgment and thanks, which I beg leave to present.
From your Excellency’s letter to Sir Henry Clinton, I find a board of general officers have given it as their opinion, that Major André comes under the description of a spy. My good opinion of the candor and justice of those gentlemen leads me to believe, that if they had been made fully acquainted with every circumstance respecting Major André, that they would by no means have considered him in the light of a spy, or even of a prisoner. In justice to him, I think it my duty to declare, that he came from on board the Vulture at my particular request, by a flag sent on purpose for him by Joshua Smith, Esq. who had permission to go to Dobb’s Ferry, to carry letters, and for other purposes not mentioned, and to return. This was done as a blind to the spy boats. Mr. Smith at the same time had my private instructions to go on board the Vulture, and bring on shore Colonel Robinson, or Mr. John Anderson, which was the name I had requested Major André to assume: at the same time I desired Mr. Smith to inform him that he should have my protection, and a safe passport to return in the same boat, as soon as our business was completed. As several accidents intervened to prevent his being sent on board, I gave him my passport to return by land. Major André came on shore in his uniform (without disguise), which, with much reluctance, at my particular and pressing instance, he exchanged for another coat. I furnished him with a horse and saddle, and pointed out the route by which he was to return. And, as commanding officer in the department, I had an undoubted right to transact all these matters, which, if wrong, Major André ought by no means to suffer for them.
But if, after this just and candid representation of Major André’s case, the board of general officers adhere to their former opinion, I shall suppose it dictated by passion and resentment; and if that gentleman should suffer the severity of their sentence, I shall think myself bound, by every tie of duty and honor, to retaliate on such unhappy persons of your army as may fall within my power, that the respect due to flags, and to the law of nations, may be better understood and observed.
I have further to observe, that forty of the principal inhabitants of South-Carolina have justly forfeited their lives, which have hitherto been spared by the clemency of his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, who cannot in justice extend his mercy to them any longer, if Major André suffers; which, in all probability, will open a scene of blood at which humanity will revolt.
Suffer me to intreat your Excellency for your own and the honor of humanity, and the love you have of justice, that you suffer not an unjust sentence to touch the life of Major André.
But if this warning should be disregarded, and he suffer, I call heaven and earth to witness, that your Excellency will be justly answerable for the torrent of blood that may be spilt in consequence.
I have the honor to be, with due respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedient,
and very humble servant,
His Excellency General Washington.
Tappan, October 1, 1780.
Buoy’d above the terror of death, by the consciousness of a life devoted to honorable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the request I make to your Excellency at this serious period, and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected.
Sympathy towards a soldier will surely induce your Excellency and a military tribunal, to adapt the mode of my death to the feelings of a man of honor.
Let me hope, Sir, that if aught in my character impresses you with esteem towards me, if aught in my misfortunes marks me as the victim of policy and not of resentment, I shall experience the operation of these feelings in your breast, by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.
I have the honor to be your Excellency’s
Most obedient, and most humble servant,
John André, Adj. Gen. to the British army.
His Excellency General Washington.
The time which elapsed between the capture of Major André, which was on the morning of the 23d of September, and his execution, which did not take place till twelve o’clock on the second of October; the mode of trying him; his letter to Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. on the 29th of September, in which he said,
I receive the greatest attention from his Excellency General Washington, and from every person under whose charge I happen to be placed; not to mention many other acknowledgments which he made of the good treatment he received; must evince that the proceedings against him were not guided by passion or resentment. The practice and usage of war were against his request, and made the indulgence he solicited, circumstanced as he was, inadmissible.
Published by Order of Congress,
Charles Thomson, Secretary.
Extract from a Letter which appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, dated October 25, 1780. The Author supposed to be Colonel Hamilton, Aid-de-Camp188 to General Washington.
Never, perhaps, did a man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less. The first step he took after his capture was to write a letter to General Washington, conceived in terms of dignity without insolence, and apology without meanness. The scope of it was to vindicate himself from the imputation of having assumed a mean character, for treacherous or interested purposes; that, contrary to his intention, which was to meet a person for intelligence, on neutral ground, he had been betrayed within our posts, and forced into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise; soliciting only, that to whatever rigour policy might devote him, a decency of treatment might be observed due to a person who, though unfortunate, had been guilty of nothing dishonorable. His request was granted in its full extent; for, in the whole progress of the affair, he was treated with the most scrupulous delicacy. When brought before the Board of Officers, he met with every mark of indulgence, and was required to answer no interrogatory which could embarrass his feelings. On his part, while he carefully concealed every thing that might involve others, he frankly confessed all the facts relative to himself; and, upon his confession, without the trouble of examining a witness, the Board made their report. The members of it were not more impressed with the candour and modest firmness, mixed with a becoming sensibility, which he displayed, than he was penetrated with their liberality and politeness. He acknowledged the generosity of the behaviour towards him in every respect, but particularly in this, in the strongest terms of manly gratitude. In a conversation with a gentleman who visited him after his trial, he said, he flattered himself that he had never been illiberal; but if there were any remains of prejudice in his mind, his present experience must obliterate them.
In one of the visits I made to him (and I saw him several times during his confinement) he begged me to be the bearer of a request to the General, for permission to send an open letter to Sir Henry Clinton.
I foresee my fate, said he,
and though I pretend not to play the hero, or to be indifferent about life, yet I am reconciled to whatever may happen, conscious that misfortune, not guilt, will have brought it upon me. There is only one thing that disturbs my tranquility. Sir Henry Clinton has been too good to me; he has been lavish of his kindness. I am bound to him by too many obligations, and love him too well, to bear the thought that he should reproach himself, or that others should reproach him, on a supposition that I had conceived myself obliged by his instructions to run the risk I did. I would not for the world leave a sting in his mind that should embitter his future days. He could scarce finish the sentence, bursting into tears in spite of his efforts to suppress them, and with difficulty collected himself enough afterwards to add,
I wish to be permitted to assure him I did not act under this impression, but submitted to a necessity imposed upon me, as contrary to my own inclination as to his orders.—His request was readily complied with, and he wrote the letter annexed,189 with which I dare say you will be as much pleased as I am, both for the diction and sentiment.
When his sentence was announced to him, he remarked, that since it was his lot to die, as there was a choice in the mode, which would make material difference to his feelings, he would be happy, if it were possible to be indulged with a professional death. He made a second application by letter, in concise but persuasive terms.190 It was thought this indulgence, being incompatible with the customs of war; could not be granted; and it was therefore determined in both cases to evade an answer, to spare him the sensations which a certain knowledge of the intended mode would inflict.
When he was led out to the place of execution, as he went along, he bowed familiarly to all those with whom he had been acquainted in his confinement. A smile of complacency expressed the serene fortitude of his mind. Arrived at the fatal spot, he asked, with emotion,
Must I then die in this manner? He was told it had been unavoidable.
I am reconciled to my fate, said he,
but not to the mode. Soon, however, recollecting himself, he added,
It will be but a momentary pang; and, springing upon the cart, performed the last offices to himself, with a composure that excited the admiration, and melted the hearts of the beholders. Upon being told the final moment was at hand, and asked if he had any thing to say, he answered,
Nothing, but to request you will witness to the world that I die like a brave man. Among the extraordinary circumstances that attended him, in the midst of his enemies, he died universally esteemed, and universally regretted.
There was something singularly interesting in the character and fortunes of André. To an excellent understanding, well improved by education and travel, he united a peculiar elegance of mind and manners, and the advantage of a pleasing person. It is said he possessed a pretty taste for the fine arts, and had himself attained some proficiency in poetry, music and painting. His knowledge appeared without ostentation, and embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanies so many talents and accomplishments, which left you to suppose more than appeared. His sentiments were elevated, and inspired esteem; they had a softness that conciliated affection. His elocution was handsome; his address easy, polite, and insinuating. By his merit he had acquired the confidence of his General, and was making a rapid progress in military rank and reputation. But in the height of his career, flushed with new hopes from the execution of a project, the most beneficial to his party that could be devised, he is at once precipitated from the summit of prosperity, sees all the expectations of his ambition blasted, and himself ruined.
The character I have given of him is drawn partly from what I saw of him myself, and partly from information. I am aware that a man of real merit is never seen in so favorable a light, as through the medium of adversity. The clouds that surround him are so many shadows that set off his good qualities. Misfortune cuts down little vanities, that, in prosperous times, serve as so many spots in his virtues, and gives a tone of humility that makes his worth more amiable. His spectators, who enjoyed a happier lot, are less prone to detract from its true envy; and are more disposed by compassion to give him the credit he deserves, and perhaps even to magnify it.
I speak not of André’s conduct in this affair as a philosopher, but as a man of the world. The authorized maxims and practices of war are the sators191 of human nature. They countenance almost every species of seduction as well as violence; and the general who can make most traitors in the army of his adversary, is frequently most applauded. On this scale we acquit André, while we could not but condemn him if we were to exemine192 his conduct by the somber rules of philosophy and moral rectitude.
1 For unknown reasons, the André family and Anna Seward conspired to deduct a year from André’s age, calling him twenty-nine at his death, although he was in fact born on May 2, 1750.
2 Ogilvy: This passage not included; rather, the altered passage is silently put into its proper place.
4 Throughout the original text, Dunlap had consistently avoided using the name of Washington, referring to the character only as
the General. Was the use of it here a change of mind or a mistake?
5 M‘Donald’s final speech of the scene follows here, though some editions incorrectly omit it.
6 Ogilvy: Paragraph omitted.
8 Ogilvy: Characters page and Prologue in the opposite order.
9 Ogilvy: This line omitted.
10 Ogilvy: Actor names omitted.
12 To avoid confusion for the first-time reader, it should be noted that this character is Bland’s mother.
13 David Mallet (1700–1765), William and Margaret, stanza 1.
’Twas at the silent, solemn hour
When night and morning meet;
In glided Margaret’s grimly ghost,
And stood at William’s feet.
14 Here and immediately below, the Ogilvy edition follows the original. Subsequently, however,
A****d. One imagines that the duel that Arnold fought with the Earl of Lauderdale in 1792 after the Earl referred to him as a traitor in the House of Lords may have had something to do with this.
16 Ogilvy: Here through the end of Bland’s next speech omitted.
17 Ogilvy: These three lines omitted.
18 Ogilvy: This line omitted.
19 Ogilvy: Here through the end of the speech omitted.
20 Ogilvy: These eight lines omitted.
21 William Shakespeare (1564–1613), As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7.
As I do liue by foode, I met a foole,
Who laid him downe, and bask’d him in the Sun,
And rail’d on Lady Fortune in good termes,
In good set termes, and yet a motley foole.
22 In the original, capital E never has an accent. We regard this as a feature of the font used, rather than as a feature of the text, and use É wherever appropriate.
Africa would scan better.
28 Ogilvy: These two lines omitted.
30 As Mrs. Bland calls 2d Child,
Sir Pertness, and
dear boy, we must assume from the original casting that 1st Child is a girl, 2d Child a boy, and
John the name of the Servant.
31 Ogilvy: Here to the end of the speech omitted. This leaves Bland’s
Curse them! with no antecedent.
33 This line is not marked as a continuation in either the original or Ogilvy.
38 Exit not in either original text or Ogilvy.
42 Footing lacking in the original edition.
45 Numbers 22–24.
taken by the enemy,.
50 Ogilvy: line omitted.
52 The allusion is to Venice Preserved.
54 Ogilvy: entire speech omitted.
55 Ogilvy omits these three letters, which were probably under copyright in England.
56 Anna Seward (1747–1809), referred to as
Julia in these letters, was a minor poetess who put considerable effort into making a match between young André and Honora Sneyd, whom she referred to as her
muse. In 1781, she published her Monody on Major André, to which these letters were attached. The discovery of the original of one of these letters has revealed that she had edited them considerably. Her attack on Washington in the Monody moved him to respond to her, apparently to her satisfaction. Notes marked
(AS) in this section are her own, and included by Dunlap. One note, omitted by Dunlap, is restored here. I have not attempted a precise collation of the text, which is as Dunlap prints it.
58 Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), physician, scientist, and minor poet; grandfather of Charles Darwin, and mentor of Anna Seward.
59 A name of kindness, by which Mr. André was often called by his mother and sisters, and generally adopted by the persons mentioned in these letters. (AS)
60 Matthew 25:1–13.
62 In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus relates to the Phaeacians how he had had to steer his ship between the monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis.
63 In Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, the fat knight Sir John Falstaff attempts to seduce two married women at once, in the hopes of obtaining money from each, and in so doing, sends both the same letter.
64 William André also went into the Army, and was created a baronet following his brother’s death.
65 Giradot was the maiden name of André’s mother.
66 The trees in the Cathedral walk in Lichfield. (AS)
67 Psalm 133.
Truncheon here would be an officer’s baton, and André is presumably alluding to a tavern sign representing John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, (1650–1752), a once common sight.
69 Alexander Pope (1688–1744), The Rape of the Lock, Canto II, ll 1–4.
Not with more Glories, in th’Ethereal Plain,
The Sun first rises o’er the purpled Main,
Than issuing forth, the Rival of his Beams
Launch’d on the Bosom of the Silver Thames.
70 There were fireplace tiles in Anna Seward’s room, decorated with Biblical subjects.
71 Source untraced. The language, however, is remarkably suggestive of that in The Visions, An Elegy, by Anna Seward, herself.
72 Riots by the handkerchief weavers in Spitalfield had been in the news since August.
73 Field of Blood.—Here is a small mistake. Lichfield is not the field of blood, but
the field of dead-bodies, alluding to a battle fought between the Romans and the British Christians in the Dioclesian persecution, when the latter were massacred.———Three slain Kings, with their burying place, now Barrowcopy Hill, and the Cathedral in miniature, form the City-Arms. Lich is still a word in use. The Church yard Gates, thro’ which Funerals pass, are often called Lich Gates. (AS) Note omitted by WD. Miss Seward appears to have confused the city arms of Lichfield with the city seal.
74 cf. Isaiah 45:5-6. André was a Deist, but the apparent blasphemy is still surprising.
76 Not traced.
77 higler, higgler, haggler. An itinerant dealer, especially of small farm and store-bought goods between farm and town.
a regular, systematic arrangement of literary materials—OED.
79 The most singular description of the Muses and their fountains on Mt. Helicon I can ever recall encountering!
80 The right of Members of Parliament and of certain State Officials to send and receive mail without payment, in use from 1652 to 1840.
81 In the original, this paragraph is quoted in the old-fashioned manner, with left quotes running down the entire paragraph.
82 The true sequence: In December, 1770, the engagement is called off, for uncertain reasons (but most probably simply because Honora became bored), and André buys a commission in the Army in January, 1771. In early 1772, he travels to Germany on leave, officers in peacetime having little to do, though perhaps he may have been directed to do a little genteel spying-out of fortifications, for which his artistic talents qualified him greatly). Late that year, he is recalled to England, where, on his return, he learns Honora is to become Mrs. Richard Lovell Edgeworth (the father of Maria Edgeworth, the novelist). He extends his leave, and returns to Germany, until orders finally take him to America, where he arrives in Philadelphia on September 4, 1774.
83 In the original, this paragraph is quoted in the old-fashioned manner, with left quotes running down the entire paragraph.
84 This would be his capture on November 2, 1775, in the surrender of Fort St. Johns (Fort St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) near Montreal. He was released in an exchange of prisoners in late 1776.
85 This note has considerably puzzled historians. There is no record—apart from this third-hand story—on either the American or British side (including the authentic letters of André, himself) of the prisoners at Fort St. Johns being spoiled, and there is also no evidence that André had continued to cherish his old romantic attachment. It is suspected that Miss Seward may have been romancing.
86 On July 20, 1780, Brigadier General
Mad Anthony Wayne (1744–1796) of Pennsylvania led an assault with some 1800 men against a Loyalist-held blockhouse at Bull’s Ferry, south of Fort Lee, NJ, which the British had built as a protection for woodcutters obtaining badly needed firewood for occupied New York City. The assault was a failure, because his four borrowed six-pounders were unable to damage the blockhouse. Seeing this, his troops, without orders, made a foolish attempt to storm the gates, resulting in some 64 casualties. Wayne’s hope of ambushing a British relief force also came to nothing. However, on the way, he was able to seize a great many head of Loyalist cattle, of which the Continental Army was in constant need. André wrote The Cow Chace, a parody of the old English ballad Chevy Chase, in response to the event. (By the way, the British had abandoned and burned the blockhouse by August 9th.) It was originally printed anonymously in three parts, in the Royal Gazette for August 16th, August 30th, and September 23rd, 1780, and then reprinted in book form with André’s name attached.
There are many minor differences in spelling and punctuation between Dunlap’s text and the original printings of 1780; in particular, Dunlap has made some excisions. Only significant changes are noted here, as this is an edition of André, not an edition of The Cow Chace. Footnotes labeled
JA are by André.
87 This is unfair to Anna Seward, who says only that The Cow Chace
was supposed to have stimulated their barbarity towards him.
88 In the Royal Gazette, a dateline is given: August 1 at Elizabeth-Town.
89 Wayne’s principal pre-war business.
90 Sic. Both the Royal Gazette and first edition read lose.
91 In present-day New Milford, New Jersey.
93 More usually spelled supawn today; boiled meal, mush, hasty pudding.
94Wayne’s command, the Pennsylvania Line, included a substantial number of Irish immigrants.
95 Major Henry
Light Horse Harry Lee III (1756–1818). Lee was not actually present.
96 Colonel Thomas Proctor (1739–1806). Four of his cannon were borrowed by Wayne, but he was not present, himself.
97 Liberty Pole, New Jersey, now Englewood.
98 During the Revolution, the word refugees bore the special sense of
99 Royal Gazette and first edition read: H-ll
100 Royal Gazette and first edition read:
And ravish wife and daughter.
101 Now Leonia, New Jersey.
102 Teaneck, New Jersey.
103 First edition (but not the Royal Gazette) reads: gill, a quarter of a pint.
104 Royal Gazette and first edition read:
And shouting—did their Needs.
105 Royal Gazette and first edition read: hor’zon, which makes the rhyme a trifle better.
106 Brigadier General Dr. William Irvine (1741–1804), born in Ireland; settled in Pennsylvania after service in the French and Indian War; later a Congressman.
107 One of the Irvines was a hatter, the other a Physician. (Ogilvy edition).
Irvine the hatter was Brigadier General James Irvine (1735–1819) of Pennsylvania.
108 Royal Gazette reads: that gives a glister. First edition, clister. (Modern spelling, clyster, an enema.)
109 James Irvine (the hatter) had been wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Chestnut Hill outside of Philadelphia in December, 1777, and remained a prisoner until 1781. Consequently, he could have had nothing to do with the affair.
111 William Irvine (the doctor) had been taken prisoner at Three Rivers in Quebec in 1776, but was exchanged in 1778.
112 Major General William Alexander (1726–1783) of New York, though an American patriot, regarded himself as the rightful heir to the earldom of Stirling, Scotland.
113 Sic, and first edition agrees. Ogilvy edition reads:
114 Elision in the Royal Gazette and first edition, as well.
115 Vide Lee’s trial. (JA) Note not in Ogilvy edition.
In 1778, Major General Charles Lee (1732–1782), born in England, settled in Virginia, had been court-martialed for his behavior at the Battle of Monmouth, in which he had retreated against orders and, when chastised for it by Washington, replied in
inappropriate language. He was found guilty, and relieved of command for a year. Baffled in his attempts to have the verdict overturned by Congress, he turned to open attacks on Washington, and was wounded in a duel with Colonel John Laurens (1754–1782) of South Carolina. He was released from duty on January 10th, 1780.
At the court-martial, Hamilton had testified that Lee
was doing nothing that I saw at the crisis of the battle, and
seemed to be under a hurry of mind. Lee, in turn, had accused Hamilton of being hotheaded and
in a frenzy of valor.
116 Colonel Alexander Hamilton (1755?–1804) born on the island of Nevis in the West Indies and settled in New York; aide-de-camp to Washington; later first Secretary of the Treasury. He was not actually present.
117 Robert Hanson Harrison (1750–1790) of Maryland, military private secretary to Washington; later Chief Judge of the Maryland General Court. He was not actually present.
118 This is a specific allusion to a verse from Chevy Chase:
For Witherington needs must I wayle
As one in doleful dumps;
For when his legges were smitten off
He fought upon his stumps.
119 Sic. Royal Gazette, first edition, and Ogilvy edition read:
120 A disorder prevalent in the rebel lines.
The merit of these lines, which is doubtless very great, can only be felt by true connoisseurs conversant in ancient song. (JA) Note omitted by WD.
121 Unidentified, probably fictional.
122 Unidentified, probably fictional.
123 This is an allusion to the following song from Tobias Smollett’s (1721–1771) The Reprisal:
Ye swains of the Shannon, fair Sheelah is gone,
Ye swains of the Shannon, fair Sheelah is gone,
Ochone my dear jewel;
Why was you so cruel
Amidst my companions to leave me alone?
Tho’ Teague shut the casement in Bally-clough hall;
Tho’ Teague shut the casement in Bally-clough hall;
In the dark she was groping;
And found it wide open;
Och! the devil himself could not stand such a fall.
In beholding your charms, I can see them no more,
In beholding your charms, I can see them no more,
If you’re dead do but own it;
Then you’ll hear me bemoan it;
For in loud lamentations your fate I’ll deplore.
Devil curse this occasion with tumults and strife!
Devil curse this occasion with tumults and strife!
O! the month of November,
She’ll have cause to remember
As a black letter day all the days of her life.
With a rope I could catch the dear creature I’ve lost!
With a rope I could catch the dear creature I’ve lost!
But, without a dismission,
I’d lose my commission,
And be hang’d with disgrace for deserting my post.
In the original context,
fair Sheelah has in fact gotten drunk and fallen out of a window at Castle Ballyclough, albeit with no lasting harm.
124 Unidentified, probably fictional.
125This is another allusion to Chevy Chase:
Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right the shaft he sett,
The grey goose-wing that was thereon
In his heart’s blood was wett.
126 Unidentified, probably fictional.
127 Now Dumont, New Jersey.
128 Said to have kept a dram shop.
129 A deity of the woods. (JA)
130 Sic. Royal Gazette and first edition: from.
131 A cant appellation given among the soldiery to the corps that has the honor to guard his Majesty’s person. (JA)
132 The Provost Marshal.
133 Cleopatra. Gypsy = Egyptian. Cf. Antony and Cleopatra, I, i.
His captain’s heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper,
And is become the bellows and the fan
To cool a gipsy’s lust.
134 Royal Gazette and first edition read:
The Hamadryad had but half
Receiv’d redress from Wayne,
135 In the Royal Gazette and first edition, this entire stanza is a footnote to the previous line.
136 Sic, along with Ogilvy edition. Royal Gazette and first edition read:
138 Royal Gazette and first edition read: Caldwell. The Reverend James Caldwell (1734–1781).
139 Lord Stirling. (JA) Lord Stirling before mentioned. (WD) Note not in Royal Gazette.
140 Royal Gazette and first edition read:
142 Now Jersey City, New Jersey.
143 An allusion to a famous gargoyle at Lincoln College, Oxford.
144 Miss Livingston. (JA) Note omitted by WD.
Some historians believe that Susan Livingston, daughter of New Jersey Governor William Livingston (1723–1790), was the author of an article that appeared in the New Jersey Journal, published in Chatham NJ, for July 12, 1780, over the name Chlorinda. It would appear that André believed the same.
145 Supplies (slang).
146 An allusion to Hudibras, by Samuel Butler (1612–1680), Canto I, ll 309–346:
His breeches were of rugged woollen,
And had been at the siege of Bullen;
To old King Harry so well known,
Some writers held they were his own.
Thro’ they were lin’d with many a piece
Of ammunition bread and cheese,
And fat black-puddings, proper food
For warriors that delight in blood.
For, as we said, he always chose
To carry vittle in his hose,
That often tempted rats and mice
The ammunition to surprise:
And when he put a hand but in
The one or t’ other magazine,
They stoutly in defence on’t stood,
And from the wounded foe drew blood;
And ’till th’ were storm’d and beaten out,
Ne’er left the fortify’d redoubt.
And tho’ Knights Errant, as some think,
Of old did neither eat nor drink,
Because, when thorough desarts vast,
And regions desolate, they past,
Where belly-timber above ground,
Or under, was not to be found,
Unless they graz’d, there’s not one word
Of their provision on record;
Which made some confidently write,
They had no stomachs, but to fight.
’Tis false: for Arthur wore in hall
Round table like a farthingal,
On which with shirt pull’d out behind,
And eke before, his good Knights din’d.
Though ’twas no table, some suppose,
But a huge pair of round trunk hose;
In which he carry’d as much meat
As he and all the Knights cou’d eat,
When, laying by their swords and truncheons,
They took their breakfasts, or their nuncheons.
148 All the documents in this section, and in the following Appendix, are as Dunlap prints them. No attempt has been made at a collation with other texts. The material was all available to Dunlap in print.
149 Colonel Beverly Robinson, a Loyalist whose house had been confiscated, and was being used as Arnold’s official housing. Part of the cover for the plot was that Robinson was supposed to be negotiating with Arnold, but Robinson had grown nervous at Arnold’s late arrival, and declined to depart the Vulture. Robinson himself will have a part in the following documents.
150 The phrase
a flag occurs frequently in discussions of the André affair, meaning a flag of truce.
151 This was not a trial, for, by military law, Washington had the power to execute summary justice in such a case. The Board’s function was merely advisory.
152 Nathaniel Greene (1742–1786) of Rhode Island. Although Washington’s best fighting general, he had also served as Quartermaster General from 1778 to 1780, and it was in this capacity that he was President of the Board. (He had actually resigned the post in August over interference from Congress, but it had not yet become effective.)
153 See note 112, page 76.
154 Arthur St. Clair (1734-1736?–1818) born in Scotland, settled in Pennsylvania after service in the French and Indian War, later ninth President of the Continental Congress and first and only Territorial Governor of Ohio.
155 Marie-Joseph-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette (1757–1834) of France, better known to modern Americans simply as
156 Robert Howe (1732–1785) of North Carolina, not to be confused with the British General Sir William Howe (1729–1814), or his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, 4th Viscount Howe (1726-1799).
157 Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus Steuben, Baron von Steuben (1730–1794) of Prussia, who first established traditional drill and discipline in the Continental Army.
158 Samuel Holden Parsons (1737–1789) of Connecticut.
159 James Clinton (1733–1812) of New York, not to be confused with the British General Sir Henry Clinton (1732–1795).
160 Henry Knox (1750–1806) of Massachusetts, Washington’s commander of Artillery, and later 1st Secretary of War.
161 John Glover (1732–1797) of Massachusetts.
162 John Paterson (modern spelling) (1744–1808) of New York, later a Congressman.
163 Edward Hand (1744–1802) of Pennsylvania; also a delegate to the Continental Congress.
164 Jedidiah Huntington (1743–1818) of Connecticut.
165 John Stark (modern spelling) (1728–1822) of New Hampshire, the hero of Bennington.
166 John Lawrence (1750–1810) of New York, later the first Congressman from New York City and Senator; President pro tempore of the Senate, 1798.
167 Lest it should be supposed that Col. Sheldon, to whom the above letter is addressed, was privy to the plot carrying on by General Arnold, it is to be observed, that the letter was found among Arnold’s papers, and had been transmitted by Colonel Sheldon, who, it appears from a letter of the 9th of September to Arnold, which inclosed it, had never heard of John Anderson before. Arnold, in his answer on the 10th, acknowledged he had not communicated it to him, though he had informed him that he expected a person would come from New-York, for the purpose of bringing him intelligence. (Original note.)
168 It appears by the same letter, that Arnold had written to Mr. Anderson under the signature of Gustavus. His words are
I was obliged to write with great caution to him, my letter was signed Gustavus, to prevent any discovery, in case it fell into the hands of the enemy. (Original note.)
170 In fact, she was every bit as guilty as he was, but that was generally unknown until the 20th century.
Friends at this date includes family.
172 A senior officer’s
family at this date included his staff.
173 Lord Stirling signs, as is customary, with his title.
174 The Marquis also signs with his title.
175 Baron von Steuben also signs with his title.
176 André had been expressly ordered by Clinton to stay in uniform, not to cross the lines, and not to carry any documents. Historians have wondered ever since at André’s and Arnold’s suddenly amateurish spycraft, which ruined Arnold and cost André his life.
177 Commissions in the British Army at this time were generally bought and sold, but expired upon the death of the holder. André is asking that an exception be made in his case, as the income of his family had been largely dependent upon their holdings in Grenada, which had been seized by the French in the war.
178 James Robertson (1710?–1788), born in Scotland, settled in New York, and at this time the Royal Governor.
179 Andrew Elliot (1728–1797), born in Scotland, settled in Pennsylvania.
180 William Smith II (1728–1793) of New York, later Chief Justice of Canada.
181 Both because they were of the loyalist civilian government, and because Smith’s brother, Joshua Hett Smith, had been the man who offered his house for Arnold and André to meet in, and made the arrangements. (It was never proved, however, that he had guilty knowledge of Arnold’s actual intentions.)
182 On page 98, below.
183 As noted above on page 89, André himself had testified to the contrary.
184 In case it is unclear, the British argument was that, once Arnold took him behind the American lines, André was technically a prisoner of war, and therefore could not be held responsible for what he did under Arnold’s direction. The American reply was that this argument could not apply in the case of André abetting Arnold in treason.
185 General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, an officer of Hessian mercenaries.
186 Lieutenant General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725–1807), commander of the French Army in America. (Lafayette was an officer in the Continental Army, not the Army of France.)
187 Unidentified. In the parallel letter Robertson wrote to Clinton, he refers, seemingly to the same man, as
my name sake, so
Robinson may not be the right name. It is generally true that Clinton made a policy of not hanging spies, and even exchanged some. (He remarks that he preferred to turn them.) The well known case of Nathan Hale occurred in 1776, when the British commander in chief was General Sir William Howe. Hale’s name was raised in André’s conversations with his captors.