MANY of our readers will remember the exquisite lines in which Béranger paints the connection between our mortal lives and the stars of the sky. With every human soul that finds its way to earth, a new gem is added to the azure belt of heaven. Thenceforth the two exist in mutual dependence, each influencing the other’s fate ; so that, when death comes to seal the lips of the man, a flame is paled and a lamp extinguished in the gulf above. In every loosened orb that shoots across the face of night the experienced eye may trace the story and the fall of a fellow-being. Youth, beauty, wealth, the humility of indigence and the pride of power, alike find their term revealed in the bright, silent course of the celestial spark ; and still new signs succeed to provoke the sympathy or dazzle the philosophy of the observer.
Qui file, file, et disparait? ”
It is unfortunate that such a pretty manner of accounting for the nature and origin of falling stars should be unsustained by sound astronomical data, and utterly discountenanced by Herschel and Bond. There is something in the theory very pleasant and very flattering to human nature; and there are passages in the history of our race that might make its promulgation not unacceptable. When, among the innumerable “ patines of bright gold” that strew the floor of heaven, we see one part from the sphere of its undistinguished fellows, and, filling its pathway with radiant light, vanish noiselessly into annihilation, we cannot but be reminded of those characters that, with no apparent reason for being segregated from the common herd, are, through some strange conjuncture, hurried from a commonplace life by modes of death that illuminate their memory with immortal fame. It is thus that the fulfilment of the vow made in the heat of battle has given Jephthah’s name a melancholy permanence above all others of the captains of Israel. Mutius would long ago have been forgotten, among the thousands of Roman soldiers as brave as he, and not less wise, who gave their blood for the good city, but for the fortunate brazier that stood in the tent of his enemy. And Leander might have safely passed and repassed the Hellespont for twenty years without leaving anything behind to interest posterity ; it was failure and death that made him famous.
Eighty years ago a tragedy was consummated by the river Hudson, which, in the character of its victim and the circumstances of his story, goes far to yield another example to the list of names immortalized by calamity. On the 2d of October, 1780, a young British officer of undistinguished birth and inconsiderable rank was hanged at Tappan. Amiable as his private life was, and respectable as were his professional abilities, it is improbable that the memory of John André, had he died upon the battle-field or in his bed, would have survived the generation of those who knew and who loved him. The future, indeed, was opening brilliantly before him; but it was still nothing more than the future. So far in his career he had hardly accomplished anything better than the attainment of the mountain-top that commanded a view of the Promised Land. It is solely and entirely to the occasion and the circumstances of his death that we are to ascribe the peculiar and universal interest in his character that has ever since continued to hold its seat in the bosom of friend and of foe. To this day, the most distinguished American and English historians are at issue respecting the justice of his doom ; and to this day, the grave inquirer into the rise and fall of empires pauses by the way to glean some scanty memorial of his personal adventures. As often happens, the labors of the lesser author who pursues but a single object may encounter more success on that score than the writer whose view embraces a prodigious range ; and many trifling details, too inconsiderable to find place in the pages of the annals of a state, reward the inquiry that confines itself to the elucidation of the conduct of an individual.
John André was born in England, probably at London, — possibly at Southampton,— in the year 1751. His father was an honest, industrious Switzer, who, following the example of his countrymen and his kindred, had abandoned the rugged land of his birth, and come over to England to see what could be made out of John Bull. The family-name appears to have originally been St. André ; and this was the style of the famous dancingmaster who gave to the courtiers of Charles II. their graceful motions.
wrote Dryden, in his “ MacFleeknoe ” ; and the same writer again brings him forward in the third act of “ Limberham.” It must be remembered that in those days the teacher of fencing and dancing occupied a very respectable position ; and St. André’s career was sufficiently prosperous to tempt a young kinsman, who felt the elements of success strong within him, to cross the seas in his own turn, and find wealth and reputation in those pleasant pastures which England above all other countries then laid open to the skilful adventurer.
Nicholas St. André, who came to London about the close of the seventeenth century, and who was undoubtedly nearly related to the future Major Andrdé, seems to have passed through a career hardly paralleled by that of Gil Bias himself. From the humblest beginnings, his ready wit, his multifarious accomplishments, and his indomitable assurance speedily carried him to the topmost wave of social prosperity. A brief instruction in surgery gave him such a plausible appearance of proficiency in the art as to permit his public lectures to be favorably received, and to lead to his employment in the royal household. George I. made him Anatomist to the Court, and, as a token of especial grace, on one occasion, went so far as to bestow upon the young Swiss his own sword. His attainments in all the amusements of a gentleman probably had more to do with these advancements, however, than any professional skill. He was a capital linguist; at fencing, leaping, running, and other manly exercises, he found few rivals; and his dabblings in architecture and botany were at least as notable as his mastership of chess and his skill as a musician. But when it came to a scientific test of his surgical and anatomical pretensions, his failure was lamentable indeed. The unquenchable thirst for notoriety — which he may have mistaken for fame — was perpetually leading him into questionable positions, and finally covered his name with ridicule and confusion.
An impudent woman, known as Mary Tofts, declared to the world, that, instead of a human child, she had given birth to a litter of rabbits. How such a ridiculous tale ever found believers, it is impossible to conceive ; but such was the case. All England, with the very small exception of those who united the possession of learning with common sense, was imbued with the frenzy. The price of warrens was abated to a mere song, and for a season a Londoner would as readily have eaten a baked child as a roasted rabbit. The children of men were believed to populate the burrows, and authorities of the highest reputation lent an unhesitating support to the delusion. The learned Whiston published in the circumstance a fulfilment of a prophecy of Esdras, and St. André loudly urged the authenticity of the entire fable and of the theories that were founded upon it. But the satiric pen of Swift, the burin of Hogarth, and the graver investigations of Cheselden at last turned the popular tide, and covered St. André in particular with such a load of contemptuous obloquy as to drive him forever from the high circles he had moved in. So great was his spleen, that, from that time forth, he would never suffer a dish upon his table or a syllable in his conversation that could in any way bring to mind the absurd occasion of his disgrace.
If all reports are to be believed, St. André’s career had led him into many singular adventures. He had saved Voltaire’s life, by violently detaining Lord Peterborough, when the latter stood prepared to punish with peremptory death some peccadillo of the Frenchman’s. Voltaire fled from the scene, while his adversary struggled to be released. His services to Pope, when the poet was overturned in Lord Bolingbroke’s coach, did not protect him from a damaging allusion in the Epilogue to the Satires, where the source of the wealth that he got by his marriage with Lady Betty Molyneux is more plainly than politely pointed out. Leaving forever, therefore, the sphere in which he had encountered so much favor and so much severity, he retired to Southampton to end his days in the society of his kindred; and it is more than probable that an indisposition to proclaim too loudly their identity of race with the unlucky surgeon was the cause of their modification of name by the immediate family from which John André sprung.
The father of our hero was a thrifty London trader, whose business as a Turkey merchant had been prosperous enough to persuade him that no other career could possibly be so well adapted for his son. The lad was of another opinion ; but those were not the days when a parent’s will might be safely contravened. Sent to Geneva to complete the education that had been commenced at London, he returned to a seat in the counting-room with intellectual qualifications that seemed to justify his aspirations for a very different scene of action. He was a fluent linguist, a ready and graceful master of the pencil and brush, and very well versed in the schools of military design. Add to these a proficiency in poetry and music, a person of unusual symmetry and grace, a face of almost feminine softness, yet not descending from the dignity of manhood, and we have an idea of the youth who was already meditating the means of throwing off the chains that bound him to the inkhorn and ledger, and embracing a more brilliant and glorious career. With him, the love of fame was an instinctive passion. The annals of his own fireside taught him how easily the path to distinction might be trod by men of parts and address; and he knew in his heart that opportunity was the one and the only thing needful to insure the accomplishment of his desires. Of very moderate fortunes and utterly destitute of influential connections, he knew that his education better qualified him for the useful fulfilment of military duties than perhaps any man of his years in the service of the king. Once embarked in the profession of arms, he had nothing to rely upon but his own address to secure patronage and promotion, — nothing but his own merits to justify the countenance that his ingenuity should win. Without undue vanity, it is tolerably safe to say now that he was authorized by the existing state of things to confidently predicate his own success on these estimates.
It is not easy to underrate the professional standard of the English officer a hundred years ago. That some were good cannot be denied; that most were bad is very certain. As there was no school of military instruction in the realm, so no proof of mental or even of physical capacity was required to enable a person to receive and to hold a commission. A friend at the Horse Guards, or the baptismal gift of a godfather, might nominate a baby three days old to a pair of colors. Court influence or the ready cash having thus enrolled a puny suckling among the armed defenders of the state, he might in regular process of seniority come out a full-fledged captain or major against the season for his being soundly birched at Eton ; and an ignorant school-boy would thus be qualified to govern the lives and fortunes of five hundred stalwart men, and to represent the honor and the interests of the empire in that last emergency when all might be depending on his courage and capacity. Even women were thus saddled upon the pay-lists; and the time is within the memory of living men, when a gentle lady, whose knowledge of arms may be presumed to have never extended beyond the internecine disputes of the nursery, habitually received the salary of a captaincy of dragoons. In ranks thus officered, it was easy to foresee the speedy and sure triumph of competent ability, when once backed by patronage.
So long, however, as his dependence upon his father endured, it was useless for André to anticipate the day when he might don the king’s livery. The repugnance with which his first motion in the matter was greeted, and the affectionate opposition of his mother and sisters, seem to have at least silenced, if they did not extinguish his desires. And when the death of his father, in 1769, left him free to select his own pathway through the world, a new conjuncture of affairs again caused him to smother his cherished aspirations.
The domestic relations of the André family were ever peculiarly tender and affectionate; and in the loss of its head the survivors confessed a great and a corroding sorrow. To repair the shattered health and recruit the exhausted spirits of his mother and sisters, the son resolved to lead them at once away from the daily contemplation of the grave to more cheerful scenes. The medicinal waters of Derbyshire were then in vogue, and a tour towards the wells of Buxton and of Matlock was undertaken. Among the acquaintances that ensued from this expedition was that of the family of the Rev. Mr. Seward of Lichfield ; and while a warm and lasting friendship rapidly grew up between André and Miss Anna Seward, his heart was surrendered to the charms of her adopted sister, Miss Honora Sneyd.
By every account, Honora Sneyd must have been a paragon of feminine loveliness. Her father was a country-gentleman of Staffordshire, who had been left, by the untimely death of their mother, to the charge of a bevy of infants. The solicitude of friends and relatives had sought the care of these, and thus Honora became virtually a daughter of Mrs. Seward’s house. The character of this establishment may be conjectured from the history of Anna Seward. Remote from the crushing weight of London authority, she grew up in a provincial atmosphere of literary and social refinement, and fondly believed that the polite praises (for censure was a thing unknown among them) that were bandied about in her own coterie would be cordially echoed by the voices of posterity. In this she has been utterly deceived; but at the same time it must be confessed that there was much in the tone of the reigning circles at Lichfield, in those days, to contrast most favorably with the manners of the literary sovereigns of the metropolis, or the intellectual elevation of the rulers of fashion. At Lichfield, it was polite to be learned, and good-breeding and mutual admiration went hand in hand.
In such an atmosphere had Miss Sneyd been educated ; and the enthusiastic, not to say romantic, disposition of Miss Seward must have given additional effect to every impulse that taught her to acknowledge and rejoice in the undisguised admiration of the young London merchant. His sentiments were as pure and lofty as her own ; his person was as attractive as that of any hero of romance; and his passion was deep and true. With the knowledge and involuntary approbation of all their friends, the love-affair between the two young people went on without interruption or opposition. It seemed perfectly natural and proper that they should be brought together. It was not, therefore, until a formal betrothal began to loom up, that the seniors on either side bethought themselves of the consequences. Neither party was a beggar; but neither was in possession of sufficient estate to render a speedy marriage advisable. It was concluded, then, to prohibit any engagement, which must inevitably extend over several years, between two young persons whose acquaintance was of so modern a date, and whose positions involved a prolonged and wide separation. To this arrangement it would appear that Honora yielded a more implicit assent than her lover. His feelings were irretrievably interested ; and he still proposed to himself to press his suit without intermission during the term of his endurance. His mistress, whose affections had not yet passed entirely beyond her own control, was willing to receive as a friend the man whom she was forbidden to regard as an elected husband.
It was by the representations of Miss Seward, who strongly urged on him the absolute necessity of his adherence to trade, if he wished to secure the means of accomplishing matrimony, that André was now persuaded to renounce, for some years longer, his desire for the army. He went back to London, and applied himself diligently to his business. An occasional visit to Lichfield, and a correspondence that he maintained with Miss Seward, served to keep his flame sufficiently alive, His letters are vivacious and characteristic, and the pen-and-ink drawings with which his text was embellished gave them additional interest. Here is a specimen of them. It will be noted, that, according to the sentimental fashion of the day, his correspondent must be called Julia because her name is Anna.
“London, October 19, 1769.
“ FROM the midst of books, papers, bills, and other implements of gain, let me lift up my drowsy head awhile to converse with dear Julia. And first, as I know she has a fervent wish to see me a quilldriver, I must tell her that I begin, as 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, surrounded with types and emblems, and canopied with cornucopias 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 ‘ launched on the bosom of the silver Thames’ are wafting to distant lands the produce of this commercial nation. Thus all the mercantile glories crowd on my fancy, emblazoned in the most effulgent 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, and fidlers, and poets, and builders, protected and encouraged; and when the fabrick is pretty nearly 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 fireplace. 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 select 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 kindly 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 conversationés : — 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, ere 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.
“ But time calls mo 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 contemplations ?
“ 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 an autumnal sun ! Gilded hills, variegated woods, glittering spires, ruminating herds, bounding flocks, all combined to enchant the eyes, expand the heart, and ‘ chase all sorrows but despair.’ In the midst of such a scene, no lesser sorrow 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 chearfulness 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 anything better than news. Indeed, you have never told me so ; but I have an intuitive knowledge upon the subject, from the sympathy which I have constantly perceived in the tastes of Julia and Cher Jean. What is it to you or me,
If the Spitalfield weavers can’t be kept quiet;
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 with Honora more eloquently than the enclosed 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 our’s, Delarise, was my sister Mary’s playfellow at Paris. His sprightliness engages my sisters extremely. Doubtless they tell 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 ’! Oh, no such thing ! It is the field of joy ! ‘ The beautiful city, that
lifts her fair head in the valley, and says, I am, and there is none beside me’ Who says she is vain ? Julia will not say so,— nor yet Honora,—and least of all, their devoted
It is not difficult to perceive in the tone of this letter that its writer was not an accepted lover. His interests with the lady, despite Miss Seward's watchful care, were already declining; and the lapse of a few months more reduced him to the level of a valued and entertaining friend, whose civilities were not to pass the conventional limits of polite intercourse. To André this fate was very hard. He was hopelessly enamored; and so long as fortune offered him the least hope of eventual success, he persevered in the faith that Honora might yet be his own. But every returning day must have shaken this faith. His visits were discontinued and his correspondence dropped. Other suitors pressed their claims, and often urged an argument which it was beyond his means to supply. They came provided with what Parson Hugh calls good gifts: “ Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is good gifts.” Foremost among these dangerous rivals were two men of note in their way: Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and the eccentric, but amiable Thomas Day.
Mr. Day was a man whose personal charms were not great. Overgrown, awkward, pitted with the small-pox, he offered no pleasing contrast to the discarded André : but he had twelve hundred pounds a year. His notions in regard to women were as peculiar as his estimate of his own merit. He seems to have really believed that it would be impossible for any beautiful girl to refuse her assent to the terms of the contract by which she might acquire his hand. These were absurd to a degree ; and it is not cause for surprise that Miss Sneyd should have unhesitatingly refused them. Poor Mr. Day was not prepared for such continued ill-luck in his matrimonial projects. He had already been very unfortunate in his plans for obtaining a perfect wife, — having vainly provided for the education of two foundlings between whom he promised himself to select a paragon of a helpmate. To drop burning sealing-wax upon their necks, and to discharge a pistol close to their ears, were among his philosophical rules for training them to habits of submission and self-control; and the upshot was, that they were fain to attach themselves to men of less wisdom, but better taste. Miss Sneyd’s conduct was more than he could well endure, after all his previous disappointments; and he went to bed with a fever that did not leave him till his passion was cured. He could not at this time have anticipated, however, that the friendly hand which had aided the prosecution of his addresses was eventually destined to receive and hold the fair prize which so many were contending for.
Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the ambassador and counsellor of Mr. Day in this affair, was at the very moment of the rejection himself enamored of'Miss Sneyd. But Edgeworth had a wife already, — a pining, complaining woman, he tells us, who did not make his home cheerful,— and honor and decency forbade him to open his mouth on the subject that occupied his heart. He wisely sought refuge in flight, and in other scenes the natural exuberance of his disposition afforded a relief from the pangs of an unlawful and secret passion. Lord Byron, who met him forty years afterwards, in five lines shows us the man: if he was thus seen in the dry wood, we can imagine what he was in the green : — “I thought Edgeworth a fine old fellow, of a clarety, elderly, red complexion, but active, brisk, and endless. He was seventy, but did not look fifty, — no, nor forty-eight even.” He was in France when the death of his father left him to the possession of a good estate,— and that of his wife occurring in happy concurrence, he lost little time in opening in his own behalf the communications that had failed when he spoke for Mr. Day. His wooing was prosperous ; in July, 1773, he married Miss Sneyd.
It is a mistake, sanctioned by the constant acceptance of historians, to suppose that it was this occasion that prompted André to abandon a commercial life. The improbability of winning Honora’s hand, and the freedom with which she received the addresses of other men, undoubtedly went far to convince him of the folly of sticking to trade with but one motive; and so soon as he attained his majority, he left the desk and stool forever, and entered the army. This was a long time before the Edgeworth marriage was undertaken, or even contemplated.
Lieutenant André of the Royal Fusileers had a very different line of duty to perform from Mr. André, merchant, of Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street; and the bustle of military life, doubtless, in some degree diverted his mind from the disagreeable contemplation of what was presently to occur at Lichfield. Some months were spent on the Continent and among the smaller German courts about the Rhine. After all was over, however, and the nuptial knot fairly tied that destroyed all his youthful hopes, he is related to have made a farewell expedition to the place of his former happiness. There, at least, he was sure to find one sympathizing heart. Miss Seward, who had to the very last minute contended with her friend against Mr. Edgeworth and in support of his less fortunate predecessor, now met him with open arms. No pains were spared by her to alleviate, since she could not remove, the disappointment that evidently possessed him. A legend is preserved in connection with this visit that is curious, though manifestly of very uncertain credibility. It is said that an engagement had been made by Miss Seward to introduce her friend to two gentlemen of some note in the neighborhood, Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Newton. On the appointed morning, while awaiting their expected guests, Cunningham related to his companion a vision — or rather, a series of visions — that had greatly disturbed his previous night’s repose. He was alone in a wide forest, he said, when he perceived a rider approaching him. The horseman’s countenance was plainly visible, and its lines were of a character too interesting to be readily forgotten. Suddenly three men sprang forth from an ambush among the thickets, and, seizing the stranger, hauled him from his horse and bore him away. To this succeeded another scene. He stood with a great multitude near by some foreign town. A bustle was heard, and he beheld the horseman of his earlier dream again led along a captive. A gibbet was erected, and the prisoner was at once hanged. In narrating this tale, Cunningham averred that the features of its hero were still fresh in his recollection ; the door opened, and in the face of André, who at that moment presented himself, he professed to recognize that which had so troubled his slumbers.
Such is the tale that is recorded of the supernatural revelation of André’s fate. If it rested on somewhat better evidence than any we are able to find in its favor, it would be at least more interesting. But whether or no the young officer continued to linger in the spirit about the spires of Lichfield and the romantic shades of Derbyshire, it is certain that his fleshly part was moving in a very different direction. In 1774, he embarked to join his regiment, then posted in Canada, and arrived at Philadelphia early in the autumn of the year.
It is not within the design of this paper to pursue to any length the details of André’s American career. Regimental duties in a country district rarely afford matter worthy of particular record ; and it is not until the troubles of our Revolutionary War break out, that we find anything of mark in his story. He was with the troops that Carleton sent down, after the fall of Tieonderoga, to garrison Chambly and St. John’s, and to hold the passage of the Sorel against Montgomery and his little army. With the fall of these forts, he went into captivity. There is too much reason to believe that the imprisonment of the English on this occasion was not alleviated by many exhibitions of generosity on the part of their captors. Montgomery, indeed, was as humane and honorable as he was brave; but he was no just type of his followers. The articles of capitulation were little regarded, and the prisoners were, it would seem, rapidly despoiled of their private effects. “ I have been taken by the Americans,” wrote André, “ and robbed of everything save the picture of Honora, which I concealed in my mouth. Preserving that, I think myself happy.” Sent into the remote parts of Pennsylvania, his companions and himself met with but scant measure of courtesy from the mountaineers of that region ; nor was he exchanged for many long and weary months. Once more free, however, his address and capacity soon came to his aid. His reports and sketches speedily commended him to the especial favor of the commanderin-chief, Sir William Howe; and ere long he was promoted to a captaincy and made aide-de-camp to Sir Charles Grey. This was a dashing, hard-fighting general of division, whose element was close quarters and whose favorite argument was the cold steel. If, therefore, André played but an inactive part at the Brandywine, he had ample opportunity on other occasions of tasting the excitement and the horrors of war. The night-surprises of Wayne at Paoli, and of Baylor on the Hudson, — the scenes of Germantown and Monmouth, — the reduction of the forts at Verplanck’s Ferry, and the forays led against New Bedford and the Vineyard,— all these familiarized him with the bloody fruits of civil strife. But they never blunted for one moment the keenness of his humanity, or warped those sentiments of refinement and liberality that always distinguished him. Within the limited range of his narrow sphere, he was constantly found the friend and reliever of the wounded or captive Americans, and the protector and benefactor of the followers of his own banner. Accomplished to a degree in all the graces that adorn the higher circles of society, he was free from most of their vices ; and those who knew him well in this country have remarked on the universal approbation of both sexes that followed his steps, and the untouched heart that escaped so many shafts. Nor, while foremost in the brilliant pleasures that distinguished the British camp and made Philadelphia a Capua to Howe, was he ever known to descend to the vulgar sports of his fellows. In the balls, the theatricals, the picturesque Mischianza, he bore a leading hand ; but his affections, meanwhile, appear to have remained where they were earliest and last bestowed. In our altered days, when marriage and divorce seem so often interchangeable words, and loyal fidelity but an Old-World phrase, Ill-fashioned and out of date, there is something very attractive in this hopeless constancy of an exiled lover.
Beyond the seas, meanwhile, the object of this unfortunate attachment was leading a happy and a useful life in the fulfilment of the various duties of a wife, a mother, and a friend. Her husband was a large landed proprietor, and in public spirit was inferior to no countrygentleman of the kingdom, many of his notions were fanciful enough, it must be allowed; but they were all directed to the improvement and amelioration of his native land and its people. In these pursuits, as well as in those of learning, Mrs. Edgeworth was the active and useful coadjutor of her husband; and it was probably to the desire of this couple to do something that would make the instruction of their children a less painful task than had been their own, that we are indebted for the adaptation of the simpler rudiments of science to a childish dress. In 1778 they wrote together the First Part of “ Harry and Lucy,” and printed a handful of copies in that large black type which every one associates with the first school-days of his childhood. From these pages she taught her own children to read. The plan was communicated to Mr. Day, who entered into it eagerly; and an educational library seemed about to be prepared for the benefit of a far-away household in the heart of Ireland. But a hectic disorder, that had threatened Mrs. Edgeworth’s life while yet a child, now returned upon her with increased virulence ; and the kind and beautiful mistress of Edgeworthstown was compelled to forego this and every other earthly avocation. Mr. Day expanded his little tale into the delightful story of “ Sandford and Merton,” a book that long stood second only to “Robinson Crusoe” in the youthful judgment of the great boy-world; and in later years, Maria Edgeworth included “ Harry and Lucy ” in her “ Early Lessons.” It is thus a point to be noticed, that nothing but the res angusta domi, the lack of wealth, on the part of young André, was the cause of that series of little volumes being produced by Miss Edgeworth, which so long held the first place among the literary treasures of the nurseries of England and America. Lazy Lawrence, Simple Susan, and a score more of excellently conceived characters, might never have been called from chaos to influence thousands of tender minds, but for André's narrow purse.
The ravages of the insidious disease with which she was afflicted soon came to an end; and after a term of wedlock as brief as it was prosperous, Mrs. Edgeworth’s dying couch was spread. — “I have every blessing,” she wrote, “ and I am happy. The conversation of my beloved husband, when my breath will let me have it, is my greatest delight: he procures me every comfort, and, as he always said he thought he should, contrives for me everything that can ease and assist my weakness,—
And smooths the bed of death.’ ”
Rightly viewed, the closing scenes in the life of this estimable woman are not less solemn, not less impressive, than those of that memorable day, when, with all the awful ceremonials of offended justice and the stern pageantries of war, her lover died in the full glare of noonday before the eyes of assembled thousands. He had played for a mighty stake, and he had lost. He had perilled his life for the destruction of our American empire, and he was there to pay the penalty : and surely never, in all the annals of our race, has a man more gallantly yielded up his forfeited breath, or under circumstances more impressive. He perished regretted alike by friend and foe ; and perhaps not one of the throng that witnessed his execution but would have rejoicingly hailed a means of reconciling his pardon with the higher and inevitable duties which they owed to the safety of the army and the existence of the state. And in the aspect which the affair has since taken, who can say that André’s fate has been entirely unfortunate ? He drank out the wine of life while it was still sparkling and foaming and bright in his cup : he tasted none of the bitterness of its lees till almost his last sun had risen. When he was forever parted from the woman whom he loved, a new, but not an earthly mistress succeeded to the vacant throne; and thenceforth the love of glory possessed his heart exclusively. And how rarely has a greater lustre attached to any name than to his ! His bones are laid with those of the wisest and mightiest of the land ; the gratitude of monarchs cumbers the earth with his sepulchral honors; and his memory is consecrated in the most eloquent pages of the history not only of his own country, but of that which sent him out of existence. Looked upon thus, death might have been welcomed by him as a benefit rather than dreaded as a calamity, and the words applied by Cicero to the fate of Crassus be repeated with fresh significancy, — “Mors donata quam vita erepta.”
The same year that carries on its records the date of André’s fall witnessed the death of a second Honora Edgeworth, the only surviving daughter of Honora Sneyd. She is represented as having inherited all the beauty, all the talents of her mother. The productions of her pen and pencil seem to justify this assertion, so far as the precocity of such a mere child may warrant the ungarnered fruits of future years. But with her parent’s person she received the frailties of its constitution; and, ere girlhood had fairly opened upon her way of life, she succumbed to the same malady that had wrecked her mother.