THE CHEVALIER OF THE LOST CAUSE.
THE queer people who devote their energies to the collection of autographs have a habit, as everybody whose name has been three times in print must have discovered, of soliciting from their victim "an autograph with a sentiment," and the unfortunate one is expected, in such cases, to say something worthy of himself, something especially which shall be eminently characteristic, revealing, in a single sentence, the whole man, or woman, as the case may be. How large a proportion of the efforts to do this are measurably successful, nobody but a collector of the sort referred to can say; but it seems probable that the most characteristic autograph "sentiments" are those which are written of the writer's own motion and not of malice aforethought. I remember seeing a curious collection of these once, many of which were certainly not unworthy the men who wrote them. One read, "I. O. U. fifty pounds lost at play, - CHARLES JAMES FOX; and another was a memorandum of sundry wagers laid, signed by the Right Honorable Richard Brinsley Sheridan. These, I thought, bore the impress of their authors' character, and it is at the least doubtful whether either of the distinguished gentlemen would have done half so well in answer to a modest request for a sentiment and a signature.
In the great dining-hall of the Briars, an old-time mansion in the Shenandoah Valley, the residence of Mr. John Esten Cooke, there hangs a portrait of a broad-shouldered cavalier, and beneath is written, in the hand of the cavalier himself,
Yours to count on, J. E. B. STUART"
an autograph sentiment which seems to me a very perfect one in its way. There was no point in Stuart's character more strongly marked than the one here hinted at. He was "yours to count on" always: your friend if possible, your enemy if you would have it so, but your friend or your enemy "to count on," in any case. A franker, more transparent nature, it is impossible to conceive. What he was he professed to be. That which he thought, he said, and his habit of thinking as much good as he could of those about him served to make his frankness of speech a great friend-winner.