Part 1 out of 3
Real Soldiers of Fortune
by Richard Harding Davis
MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY RONALD
ANY sunny afternoon, on Fifth Avenue, or at night in the _table
d'hote_ restaurants of University Place, you may meet the soldier
of fortune who of all his brothers in arms now living is the most
remarkable. You may have noticed him; a stiffly erect,
distinguished-looking man, with gray hair, an imperial of the
fashion of Louis Napoleon, fierce blue eyes, and across his
forehead a sabre cut.
This is Henry Ronald Douglas MacIver, for some time in India an
ensign in the Sepoy mutiny; in Italy, lieutenant under Garibaldi; in
Spain, captain under Don Carlos; in our Civil War, major in the
Confederate army; in Mexico, lieutenant-colonel under the
Emperor Maximilian; colonel under Napoleon III, inspector of
cavalry for the Khedive of Egypt, and chief of cavalry and general
of brigade of the army of King Milan of Servia. These are only a
few of his military titles. In 1884 was published a book giving the
story of his life up to that year. It was called "Under Fourteen
Flags." If to-day General MacIver were to reprint the book, it
would be called "Under Eighteen Flags."
MacIver was born on Christmas Day, 1841, at sea, a league off the
shore of Virginia. His mother was Miss Anna Douglas of that
State; Ronald MacIver, his father, was a Scot, a Rossshire
gentleman, a younger son of the chief of the Clan MacIver. Until
he was ten years old young MacIver played in Virginia at the home
of his father. Then, in order that he might be educated, he was
shipped to Edinburgh to an uncle, General Donald Graham. After
five years his uncle obtained for him a commission as ensign in the
Honorable East India Company, and at sixteen, when other boys
are preparing for college, MacIver was in the Indian Mutiny,
fighting, not for a flag, nor a country, but as one fights a wild
animal, for his life. He was wounded in the arm, and, with a
sword, cut over the head. As a safeguard against the sun the boy
had placed inside his helmet a wet towel. This saved him to fight
another day, but even with that protection the sword sank through
the helmet, the towel, and into the skull. To-day you can see the
scar. He was left in the road for dead, and even after his wounds
had healed, was six weeks in the hospital.
This tough handling at the very start might have satisfied some
men, but in the very next war MacIver was a volunteer and wore
the red shirt of Garibaldi. He remained at the front throughout that
campaign, and until within a few years there has been no campaign
of consequence in which he has not taken part. He served in the
Ten Years' War in Cuba, in Brazil, in Argentina, in Crete, in
Greece, twice in Spain in Carlist revolutions, in Bosnia, and for
four years in our Civil War under Generals Jackson and Stuart
around Richmond. In this great war he was four times wounded.
It was after the surrender of the Confederate army, that, with other
Southern officers, he served under Maximilian in Mexico; in
Egypt, and in France. Whenever in any part of the world there was
fighting, or the rumor of fighting, the procedure of the general
invariably was the same. He would order himself to instantly
depart for the front, and on arriving there would offer to organize a
foreign legion. The command of this organization always was
given to him. But the foreign legion was merely the entering
wedge. He would soon show that he was fitted for a better
command than a band of undisciplined volunteers, and would
receive a commission in the regular army. In almost every
command in which he served that is the manner in which
promotion came. Sometimes he saw but little fighting, sometimes
he should have died several deaths, each of a nature more
unpleasant than the others. For in war the obvious danger of a
bullet is but a three hundred to one shot, while in the pack against
the combatant the jokers are innumerable. And in the career of the
general the unforeseen adventures are the most interesting. A man
who in eighteen campaigns has played his part would seem to have
earned exemption from any other risks, but often it was outside the
battle-field that MacIver encountered the greatest danger. He
fought several duels, in two of which he killed his adversary;
several attempts were made to assassinate him, and while on his
way to Mexico he was captured by hostile Indians. On returning
from an expedition in Cuba he was cast adrift in an open boat and
for days was without food.
Long before I met General MacIver I had read his book and had
heard of him from many men who had met him in many different
lands while engaged in as many different undertakings. Several of
the older war correspondents knew him intimately; Bennett
Burleigh of the _Telegraph_ was his friend, and E. F. Knight of the
_Times_ was one of those who volunteered for a filibustering
expedition which MacIver organized against New Guinea. The
late Colonel Ochiltree of Texas told me tales of MacIver's bravery,
when as young men they were fellow officers in the Southern
army, and Stephen Bonsal had met him when MacIver was United
States Consul at Denia in Spain. When MacIver arrived at this
post, the ex-consul refused to vacate the Consulate, and MacIver
wished to settle the difficulty with duelling pistols. As Denia is a
small place, the inhabitants feared for their safety, and Bonsal,
who was our _charge d'affaires_ then, was sent from Madrid to
adjust matters. Without bloodshed he got rid of the ex-consul, and
later MacIver so endeared himself to the Denians that they begged
the State Department to retain him in that place for the remainder
of his life.
Before General MacIver was appointed to a high position at the St.
Louis Fair, I saw much of him in New York. His room was in a
side street in an old-fashioned boarding-house, and overlooked his
neighbor's back yard and a typical New York City sumac tree; but
when the general talked one forgot he was within a block of the
Elevated, and roamed over all the world. On his bed he would
spread out wonderful parchments, with strange, heathenish
inscriptions, with great seals, with faded ribbons. These were
signed by Sultans, Secretaries of War, Emperors, filibusters. They
were military commissions, titles of nobility, brevets for
decorations, instructions and commands from superior officers.
Translated the phrases ran: "Imposing special confidence in," "we
appoint," or "create," or "declare," or "In recognition of services
rendered to our person," or "country," or "cause," or "For bravery
on the field of battle we bestow the Cross----"
As must a soldier, the general travels "light," and all his worldly
possessions were crowded ready for mobilization into a small
compass. He had his sword, his field blanket, his trunk, and the tin
despatch boxes that held his papers. From these, like a conjurer, he
would draw souvenirs of all the world. From the embrace of faded
letters, he would unfold old photographs, daguerrotypes, and
miniatures of fair women and adventurous men: women who now
are queens in exile, men who, lifted on waves of absinthe, still,
across a _cafe_ table, tell how they will win back a crown.
Once in a written document the general did me the honor to
appoint me his literary executor, but as he is young, and as healthy
as myself, it never may be my lot to perform such an unwelcome
duty. And to-day all one can write of him is what the world can
read in "Under Fourteen Flags," and some of the "foot-notes to
history" which I have copied from his scrap-book. This scrap-book
is a wonderful volume, but owing to "political" and other reasons,
for the present, of the many clippings from newspapers it contains
there are only a few I am at liberty to print. And from them it is
difficult to make a choice. To sketch in a few thousand words a
career that had developed under Eighteen Flags is in its very
Here is one story, as told by the scrap-book, of an expedition that
failed. That it failed was due to a British Cabinet Minister; for had
Lord Derby possessed the imagination of the Soldier of Fortune,
his Majesty's dominions might now be the richer by many
thousands of square miles and many thousands of black subjects.
On October 29, 1883, the following appeared in the London
_Standard_: "The New Guinea Exploration and Colonization
Company is already chartered, and the first expedition expects to
leave before Christmas." "The prospectus states settlers intending
to join the first party must contribute one hundred pounds toward
the company. This subscription will include all expenses for
passage money. Six months' provisions will be provided, together
with tents and arms for protection. Each subscriber of one hundred
pounds is to obtain a certificate entitling him to one thousand
The view of the colonization scheme taken by the _Times_ of
London, of the same date, is less complaisant. "The latest
commercial sensation is a proposed company for the seizure of
New Guinea. Certain adventurous gentlemen are looking out for
one hundred others who have money and a taste for buccaneering.
When the company has been completed, its share-holders are to
place themselves under military regulations, sail in a body for New
Guinea, and without asking anybody's leave, seize upon the island
and at once, in some unspecified way, proceed to realize large
profits. If the idea does not suggest comparisons with the large
designs of Sir Francis Drake, it is at least not unworthy of Captain
When we remember the manner in which some of the colonies of
Great Britain were acquired, the _Times_ seems almost
In a Melbourne paper, June, 1884, is the following paragraph:
"Toward the latter part of 1883 the Government of Queensland
planted the flag of Great Britain on the shores of New Guinea.
When the news reached England it created a sensation. The Earl of
Derby, Secretary for the Colonies, refused, however, to sanction
the annexation of New Guinea, and in so doing acted contrary to
the sincere wish of every right-thinking Anglo-Saxon under the
"While the subsequent correspondence between the Home and
Queensland governments was going on, Brigadier-General H. R.
MacIver originated and organized the New Guinea Exploration
and Colonization Company in London, with a view to establishing
settlements on the island. The company, presided over by General
Beresford of the British Army, and having an eminently
representative and influential board of directors, had a capital of
two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and placed the supreme
command of the expedition in the hands of General MacIver.
Notwithstanding the character of the gentlemen composing the
board of directors, and the truly peaceful nature of the expedition,
his Lordship informed General MacIver that in the event of the
latter's attempting to land on New Guinea, instructions would be
sent to the officer in command of her Majesty's fleet in the
Western Pacific to fire upon the company's vessel. This meant that
the expedition would be dealt with as a filibustering one.
In _Judy_, September 21, 1887, appears:
"We all recollect the treatment received by Brigadier-General
MacI. in the action he took with respect to the annexation of New
Guinea. The General, who is a sort of Pizarro, with a dash of
D'Artagnan, was treated in a most scurvy manner by Lord Derby.
Had MacIver not been thwarted in his enterprise, the whole of
New Guinea would now have been under the British flag, and we
should not be cheek-by-jowl with the Germans, as we are in too
_Society_, September 3, 1887, says:
"The New Guinea expedition proved abortive, owing to the
blundering shortsightedness of the then Government, for which
Lord Derby was chiefly responsible, but what little foothold we
possess in New Guinea, is certainly due to General MacIver's
Copy of statement made by J. Rintoul Mitchell, June 2, 1887:
"About the latter end of the year 1883, when I was editor-in-chief
of the _Englishman_ in Calcutta, I was told by Captain de Deaux,
assistant secretary in the Foreign Office of the Indian Government,
that he had received a telegram from Lord Derby to the effect that
if General MacIver ventured to land upon the coast of New Guinea
it would become the duty of Lord Ripon, Viceroy, to use the naval
forces at his command for the purpose of deporting General MacI.
Sir Aucland Calvin can certify to this, as it was discussed in the
Just after our Civil War MacIver was interested in another
expedition which also failed. Its members called themselves the
Knights of Arabia, and their object was to colonize an island much
nearer to our shores than New Guinea. MacIver, saying that his
oath prevented, would never tell me which island this was, but the
reader can choose from among Cuba, Haiti, and the Hawaiian
group. To have taken Cuba, the "colonizers" would have had to
fight not only Spain, but the Cubans themselves, on whose side
they were soon fighting in the Ten Years' War; so Cuba may be
eliminated. And as the expedition was to sail from the Atlantic
side, and not from San Francisco, the island would appear to be the
Black Republic. From the records of the times it would seem that
the greater number of the Knights of Arabia were veterans of the
Confederate army, and there is no question but that they intended
to subjugate the blacks of Haiti and form a republic for white men
in which slavery would be recognized. As one of the leaders of this
filibustering expedition, MacIver was arrested by General Phil
Sheridan and for a short time cast into jail.
This chafed the general's spirit, but he argued philosophically that
imprisonment for filibustering, while irksome, brought with it no
reproach. And, indeed, sometimes the only difference between a
filibuster and a government lies in the fact that the government
fights the gun-boats of only the enemy while a filibuster must
dodge the boats of the enemy and those of his own countrymen.
When the United States went to war with Spain there were many
men in jail as filibusters, for doing that which at the time the
country secretly approved, and later imitated. And because they
attempted exactly the same thing for which Dr. Jameson was
imprisoned in Holloway Jail, two hundred thousand of his
countrymen are now wearing medals.
The by-laws of the Knights of Arabia leave but little doubt as to its
By-law No. II reads:
"We, as Knights of Arabia, pledge ourselves to aid, comfort, and
protect all Knights of Arabia, especially those who are wounded in
obtaining our grand object.
"III--Great care must be taken that no unbeliever or outsider shall
gain any insight into the mysteries or secrets of the Order.
"IV--The candidate will have to pay one hundred dollars cash to
the Captain of the Company, and the candidate will receive from
the Secretary a Knight of Arabia bond for one hundred dollars in
gold, with ten per cent interest, payable ninety days after the
recognition of (The Republic of----) by the United States, or any
"V--All Knights of Arabia will be entitled to one hundred acres of
land, location of said land to be drawn for by lottery. The products
are coffee, sugar, tobacco, and cotton."
A local correspondent of the New York _Herald_ writes of the
arrest of MacIver as follows:
"When MacIver will be tried is at present unknown, as his case has
assumed a complicated aspect. He claims British protection as a
subject of her British Majesty, and the English Consul has
forwarded a statement of his case to Sir Frederick Bruce at
Washington, accompanied by a copy of the by-laws. General
Sheridan also has forwarded a statement to the Secretary of War,
accompanied not only by the by-laws, but very important
documents, including letters from Jefferson Davis, Benjamin, the
Secretary of State of the Confederate States, and other personages
prominent in the Rebellion, showing that MacIver enjoyed the
highest confidence of the Confederacy."
As to the last statement, an open letter I found in his scrap-book is
an excellent proof. It is as follows: "To officers and members of all
camps of United Confederate Veterans: It affords me the greatest
pleasure to say that the bearer of this letter, General Henry Ronald
MacIver, was an officer of great gallantry in the Confederate
Army, serving on the staff at various times of General Stonewall
Jackson, J. E. B. Stuart, and E. Kirby Smith, and that his official
record is one of which any man may be proud.
"Respectfully, MARCUS J. WRIGHT,
"_Agent for the Collection of Confederate Records_.
"War Records office, War Department, Washington, July 8, 1895."
At the close of the war duels between officers of the two armies
were not infrequent. In the scrap-book there is the account of one
of these affairs sent from Vicksburg to a Northern paper by a
correspondent who was an eye-witness of the event. It tells how
Major MacIver, accompanied by Major Gillespie, met, just outside
of Vicksburg, Captain Tomlin of Vermont, of the United States
Artillery Volunteers. The duel was with swords. MacIver ran
Tomlin through the body. The correspondent writes:
"The Confederate officer wiped his sword on his handkerchief. In
a few seconds Captain Tomlin expired. One of Major MacIver's
seconds called to him: 'He is dead; you must go. These gentlemen
will look after the body of their friend.' A negro boy brought up the
horses, but before mounting MacIver said to Captain Tomlin's
seconds: 'My friends are in haste for me to go. Is there anything I
can do? I hope you consider that this matter has been settled
"There being no reply, the Confederates rode away."
In a newspaper of to-day so matter-of-fact an acceptance of an
event so tragic would make strange reading.
From the South MacIver crossed through Texas to join the Royalist
army under the Emperor Maximilian. It was while making his way,
with other Confederate officers, from Galveston to El Paso, that
MacIver was captured by the Indians. He was not ill-treated by
them, but for three months was a prisoner, until one night, the
Indians having camped near the Rio Grande, he escaped into
Mexico. There he offered his sword to the Royalist commander,
General Mejia, who placed him on his staff, and showed him some
few skirmishes. At Monterey MacIver saw big fighting, and for his
share in it received the title of Count, and the order of Guadaloupe.
In June, contrary to all rules of civilized war, Maximilian was
executed and the empire was at an end. MacIver escaped to the
coast, and from Tampico took a sailing vessel to Rio de Janeiro.
Two months later he was wearing the uniform of another emperor,
Dom Pedro, and, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, was in
command of the Foreign Legion of the armies of Brazil and
Argentina, which at that time as allies were fighting against
MacIver soon recruited seven hundred men, but only half of these
ever reached the front. In Buenos Ayres cholera broke out and
thirty thousand people died, among the number about half the
Legion. MacIver was among those who suffered, and before he
recovered was six weeks in hospital. During that period, under a
junior officer, the Foreign Legion was sent to the front, where it
On his return to Glasgow, MacIver foregathered with an old friend,
Bennett Burleigh, whom he had known when Burleigh was a
lieutenant in the navy of the Confederate States. Although today
known as a distinguished war correspondent, in those days
Burleigh was something of a soldier of fortune himself, and was
organizing an expedition to assist the Cretan insurgents against the
Turks. Between the two men it was arranged that MacIver should
precede the expedition to Crete and prepare for its arrival. The
Cretans received him gladly, and from the provisional government
he received a commission in which he was given "full power to
make war on land and sea against the enemies of Crete, and
particularly against the Sultan of Turkey and the Turkish forces,
and to burn, destroy, or capture any vessel bearing the Turkish
This permission to destroy the Turkish navy single-handed strikes
one as more than generous, for the Cretans had no navy, and
before one could begin the destruction of a Turkish gun-boat it was
first necessary to catch it and tie it to a wharf.
At the close of the Cretan insurrection MacIver crossed to Athens
and served against the brigands in Kisissia on the borders of
Albania and Thessaly as volunteer aide to Colonel Corroneus, who
had been commander-in-chief of the Cretans against the Turks.
MacIver spent three months potting at brigands, and for his
services in the mountains was recommended for the highest Greek
From Greece it was only a step to New York, and almost
immediately MacIver appears as one of the Goicouria-Christo
expedition to Cuba, of which Goicouria was commander-in-chief,
and two famous American officers, Brigadier-General Samuel C.
Williams was a general and Colonel Wright Schumburg was chief
In the scrap-book I find "General Order No. 11 of the Liberal Army
of the Republic of Cuba, issued at Cedar Keys, October 3, 1869."
In it Colonel MacIver is spoken of as in charge of officers not
attached to any organized corps of the division. And again:
"General Order No. V, Expeditionary Division, Republic of Cuba,
on board _Lilian_," announces that the place to which the
expedition is bound has been changed, and that General Wright
Schumburg, who now is in command, orders "all officers not
otherwise commissioned to join Colonel MacIver's 'Corps of
The _Lilian_ ran out of coal, and to obtain firewood put in at
Cedar Keys. For two weeks the patriots cut wood and drilled upon
the beach, when they were captured by a British gun-boat and
taken to Nassau. There they were set at liberty, but their arms,
boat, and stores were confiscated.
In a sailing vessel MacIver finally reached Cuba, and under
Goicouria, who had made a successful landing, saw some "help
yourself" fighting. Goicouria's force was finally scattered, and
MacIver escaped from the Spanish soldiery only by putting to sea
in an open boat, in which he endeavored to make Jamaica.
On the third day out he was picked up by a steamer and again
landed at Nassau, from which place he returned to New York.
At that time in this city there was a very interesting man named
Thaddeus P. Mott, who had been an officer in our army and later
had entered the service of Ismail Pasha. By the Khedive he had
been appointed a general of division and had received permission
to reorganize the Egyptian army.
His object in coming to New York was to engage officers for that
service. He came at an opportune moment. At that time the city
was filled with men who, in the Rebellion, on one side or the
other, had held command, and many of these, unfitted by four
years of soldiering for any other calling, readily accepted the
commissions which Mott had authority to offer. New York was not
large enough to keep MacIver and Mott long apart, and they soon
came to an understanding. The agreement drawn up between them
is a curious document. It is written in a neat hand on sheets of
foolscap tied together like a Commencement-day address, with
blue ribbon. In it MacIver agrees to serve as colonel of cavalry in
the service of the Khedive. With a few legal phrases omitted, the
document reads as follows:
"Agreement entered into this 24th day of March, 1870, between
the Government of his Royal Highness and the Khedive of Egypt,
represented by General Thaddeus P. Mott of the first part, and H.
R. H. MacIver of New York City.
"The party of the second part, being desirous of entering into the
service of party of the first part, in the military capacity of a
colonel of cavalry, promises to serve and obey party of the first
part faithfully and truly in his military capacity during the space of
five years from this date; that the party of the second part waives
all claims of protection usually afforded to Americans by consular
and diplomatic agents of the United States, and expressly obligates
himself to be subject to the orders of the party of the first part, and
to make, wage, and vigorously prosecute war against any and all
the enemies of party of the first part; that the party of the second
part will not under any event be governed, controlled by, or submit
to, any order, law, mandate, or proclamation issued by the
Government of the United States of America, forbidding party of
the second part to serve party of the first part to make war
according to any of the provisions herein contained, _it being,
however, distinctly understood_ that nothing herein contained
shall be construed as obligating party of the second part to bear
arms or wage war against the United States of America.
"Party of the first part promises to furnish party of the second part
with horses, rations, and pay him for his services the same salary
now paid to colonels of cavalry in United States army, and will
furnish him quarters suitable to his rank in army. Also promises, in
the case of illness caused by climate, that said party may resign his
office and shall receive his expenses to America and two months'
pay; that he receives one-fifth of his regular pay during his active
service, together with all expenses of every nature attending such
It also stipulates as to what sums shall be paid his family or
children in case of his death.
To this MacIver signs this oath:
"In the presence of the ever-living God, I swear that I will in all
things honestly, faithfully, and truly keep, observe, and perform
the obligations and promises above enumerated, and endeavor to
conform to the wishes and desires of the Government of his Royal
Highness, the Khedive of Egypt, in all things connected with the
furtherance of his prosperity, and the maintenance of his throne."
On arriving at Cairo, MacIver was appointed inspector-general of
cavalry, and furnished with a uniform, of which this is a
description: "It consisted of a blue tunic with gold spangles,
embroidered in gold up the sleeves and front, neat-fitting red
trousers, and high patent-leather boots, while the inevitable fez
completed the gay costume."
The climate of Cairo did not agree with MacIver, and, in spite of
his "gay costume," after six months he left the Egyptian service.
His honorable discharge was signed by Stone Bey, who, in the
favor of the Khedive, had supplanted General Mott.
It is a curious fact that, in spite of his ill health, immediately after
leaving Cairo, MacIver was sufficiently recovered to at once
plunge into the Franco-Prussian War. At the battle of Orleans,
while on the staff of General Chanzy, he was wounded. In this war
his rank was that of a colonel of cavalry of the auxiliary army.
His next venture was in the Carlist uprising of 1873, when he
formed a Carlist League, and on several occasions acted as bearer
of important messages from the "King," as Don Carlos was called,
to the sympathizers with his cause in France and England.
MacIver was promised, if he carried out successfully a certain
mission upon which he was sent, and if Don Carlos became king,
that he would be made a marquis. As Don Carlos is still a
pretender, MacIver is still a general.
Although in disposing of his sword MacIver never allowed his
personal predilections to weigh with him, he always treated
himself to a hearty dislike of the Turks, and we next find him
fighting against them in Herzegovina with the Montenegrins. And
when the Servians declared war against the same people, MacIver
returned to London to organize a cavalry brigade to fight with the
Of this brigade and of the rapid rise of MacIver to highest rank and
honors in Servia, the scrap-book is most eloquent. The cavalry
brigade was to be called the Knights of the Red Cross.
In a letter to the editor of the _Hour_, the general himself speaks
of it in the following terms:
"It may be interesting to many of your readers to learn that a select
corps of gentlemen is at present in course of organization under
the above title with the mission of proceeding to the Levant to take
measures in case of emergency for the defense of the Christian
population, and more especially of British subjects who are to a
great extent unprovided with adequate means of protection from
the religious furies of the Mussulmans. The lives of Christian
women and children are in hourly peril from fanatical hordes. The
Knights will be carefully chosen and kept within strict military
control, and will be under command of a practical soldier with
large experience of the Eastern countries. Templars and all other
crusaders are invited to give aid and sympathy."
Apparently MacIver was not successful in enlisting many Knights,
for a war correspondent at the capital of Servia, waiting for the
war to begin, writes as follows:
"A Scotch soldier of fortune, Henry MacIver, a colonel by rank,
has arrived at Belgrade with a small contingent of military
adventurers. Five weeks ago I met him in Fleet Street, London, and
had some talk about his 'expedition.' He had received a
commission from the Prince of Servia to organize and command
an independent cavalry brigade, and he then was busily enrolling
his volunteers into a body styled 'The Knights of the Red Cross.' I
am afraid some of his bold crusaders have earned more distinction
for their attacks on Fleet Street bars than they are likely to earn on
Servian battle-fields, but then I must not anticipate history."
Another paper tells that at the end of the first week of his service
as a Servian officer, MacIver had enlisted ninety men, but that they
were scattered about the town, many without shelter and rations:
"He assembled his men on the Rialto, and in spite of official
expostulation, the men were marched up to the Minister's four
abreast--and they marched fairly well, making a good show. The
War Minister was taken by storm, and at once granted everything.
It has raised the English colonel's popularity with his men to fever
This from the _Times_, London:
"Our Belgrade correspondent telegraphs last night:
"'There is here at present a gentleman named MacIver. He came
from England to offer himself and his sword to the Servians. The
Servian Minister of War gave him a colonel's commission. This
morning I saw him drilling about one hundred and fifty remarkably
fine-looking fellows, all clad in a good serviceable cavalry
uniform, and he has horses."'
Later we find that:
"Colonel MacIver's Legion of Cavalry, organizing here, now
numbers over two hundred men."
"Prince Nica, a Roumanian cousin of the Princess Natalie of
Servia, has joined Colonel MacIver's cavalry corps."
Later, in the _Court Journal_, October 28, 1876, we read:
"Colonel MacIver, who a few years ago was very well known in
military circles in Dublin, now is making his mark with the
Servian army. In the war against the Turks, he commands about
one thousand Russo-Servian cavalry."
He was next to receive the following honors:
"Colonel MacIver has been appointed commander of the cavalry of
the Servian armies on the Morava and Timok, and has received the
Cross of the Takovo Order from General Tchemaieff for gallant
conduct in the field, and the gold medal for valor."
Later we learn from the _Daily News_:
"Mr. Lewis Farley, Secretary of the 'League in Aid of Christians of
Turkey,' has received the following letter, dated Belgrade, October
"'DEAR SIR: In reference to the embroidered banner so kindly
worked by an English lady and forwarded by the League to
Colonel MacIver, I have great pleasure in conveying to you the
following particulars. On Sunday morning, the flag having been
previously consecrated by the archbishop, was conducted by a
guard of honor to the palace, and Colonel MacIver, in the presence
of Prince Milan and a numerous suite, in the name and on behalf
of yourself and the fair donor, delivered it into the hands of the
Princess Natalie. The gallant Colonel wore upon this occasion his
full uniform as brigade commander and chief of cavalry of the
Servian army, and bore upon his breast the 'Gold Cross of Takovo'
which he received after the battles of the 28th and 30th of
September, in recognition of the heroism and bravery he displayed
upon these eventful days. The beauty of the decoration was
enhanced by the circumstances of its bestowal, for on the evening
of the battle of the 30th, General Tchernaieff approached Colonel
MacIver, and, unclasping the cross from his own breast, placed it
upon that of the Colonel.
"'(Signed.) HUGH JACKSON,
"'_Member of Council of the League_."
In Servia and in the Servian army MacIver reached what as yet is
the highest point of his career, and of his life the happiest period.
He was _general de brigade_, which is not what we know as a
brigade general, but is one who commands a division, a
major-general. He was a great favorite both at the palace and with
the people, the pay was good, fighting plentiful, and Belgrade gay
and amusing. Of all the places he has visited and the countries he
has served, it is of this Balkan kingdom that the general seems to
speak most fondly and with the greatest feeling. Of Queen Natalie
he was and is a most loyal and chivalric admirer, and was ever
ready, when he found any one who did not as greatly respect the
lady, to offer him the choice of swords or pistols. Even for Milan
he finds an extenuating word.
After Servia the general raised more foreign legions, planned
further expeditions; in Central America reorganized the small
armies of the small republics, served as United States Consul, and
offered his sword to President McKinley for use against Spain. But
with Servia the most active portion of the life of the general
ceased, and the rest has been a repetition of what went before. At
present his time is divided between New York and Virginia, where
he has been offered an executive position in the approaching
Jamestown Exposition. Both North and South he has many friends,
many admirers. But his life is, and, from the nature of his
profession, must always be, a lonely one.
While other men remain planted in one spot, gathering about them
a home, sons and daughters, an income for old age, MacIver is a
rolling stone, a piece of floating sea-weed; as the present King of
England called him fondly, "that vagabond soldier."
To a man who has lived in the saddle and upon transports,
"neighbor" conveys nothing, and even "comrade" too often means
one who is no longer living.
With the exception of the United States, of which he now is a
naturalized citizen, the general has fought for nearly every country
in the world, but if any of those for which he lost his health and
blood, and for which he risked his life, remembers him, it makes
no sign. And the general is too proud to ask to be remembered.
To-day there is no more interesting figure than this man who in
years is still young enough to lead an army corps, and who, for
forty years, has been selling his sword and risking his life for
presidents, pretenders, charlatans, and emperors.
He finds some mighty changes: Cuba, which he fought to free, is
free; men of the South, with whom for four years he fought
shoulder to shoulder, are now wearing the blue; the empire of
Mexico, for which he fought, is a republic; the empire of France,
for which he fought, is a republic; the empire of Brazil, for which
he fought is a republic; the dynasty in Servia, to which he owes his
greatest honors, has been wiped out by murder. From none of the
eighteen countries he has served has he a pension, berth, or billet,
and at sixty he finds himself at home in every land, but with a
home in none.
Still he has his sword, his blanket, and in the event of war, to
obtain a commission he has only to open his tin boxes and show
the commissions already won. Indeed, any day, in a new uniform,
and under the Nineteenth Flag, the general may again be winning
fresh victories and honors.
And so, this brief sketch of him is left unfinished. We will mark
it--_To be continued_.
BARON JAMES HARDEN-HICKEY
THIS is an attempt to tell the story of Baron Harden-Hickey, the
Man Who Made Himself King, the man who was born after his
If the reader, knowing something of the strange career of
Harden-Hickey, wonders why one writes of him appreciatively
rather than in amusement, he is asked not to judge Harden-Hickey
as one judges a contemporary.
Harden-Hickey, in our day, was as incongruous a figure as was the
American at the Court of King Arthur; he was as unhappily out of
the picture as would be Cyrano de Bergerac on the floor of the
Board of Trade. Judged, as at the time he was judged, by writers of
comic paragraphs, by presidents of railroads, by amateur
"statesmen" at Washington, Harden-Hickey was a joke. To the
vacant mind of the village idiot, Rip Van Winkle returning to
Falling Water also was a joke. The people of our day had not the
time to understand Harden-Hickey; they thought him a charlatan,
half a dangerous adventurer and half a fool; and Harden-Hickey
certainly did not under stand them. His last words, addressed to his
wife, showed this. They were: "I would rather die a gentleman than
live a blackguard like your father."
As a matter of fact, his father-in-law, although living under the
disadvantage of being a Standard Oil magnate, neither was, nor is,
a blackguard, and his son-in-law had been treated by him
generously and with patience. But for the duellist and soldier of
fortune it was impossible to sympathize with a man who took no
greater risk in life than to ride on one of his own railroads, and of
the views the two men held of each other, that of John H. Flagler
was probably the fairer and the more kindly.
Harden-Hickey was one of the most picturesque, gallant, and
pathetic adventurers of our day; but Flagler also deserves our
For an unimaginative and hard-working Standard Oil king to have
a D'Artagnan thrust upon him as a son-in-law must be trying.
James A. Harden-Hickey, James the First of Trinidad, Baron of the
Holy Roman Empire, was born on December 8, 1854. As to the
date all historians agree; as to where the important event took
place they differ. That he was born in France his friends are
positive, but at the time of his death in El Paso the San Francisco
papers claimed him as a native of California. All agree that his
ancestors were Catholics and Royalists who left Ireland with the
Stuarts when they sought refuge in France. The version which
seems to be the most probable is that he was born in San
Francisco, where as one of the early settlers, his father, E. C.
Hickey, was well known, and that early in his life, in order to
educate him, the mother took him to Europe.
There he was educated at the Jesuit College at Namur, then at
Leipsic, and later entered the Military College of St. Cyr.
James the First was one of those boys who never had the
misfortune to grow up. To the moment of his death, in all he
planned you can trace the effects of his early teachings and
environment; the influences of the great Church that nursed him,
and of the city of Paris, in which he lived. Under the Second
Empire, Paris was at her maddest, baddest, and best. To-day under
the republic, without a court, with a society kept in funds by the
self-expatriated wives and daughters of our business men, she
lacks the reasons for which Baron Haussmann bedecked her and
made her beautiful. The good Loubet, the worthy Fallieres, except
that they furnish the cartoonist with subjects for ridicule, do not
add to the gayety of Paris. But when Harden-Hickey was a boy,
Paris was never so carelessly gay, so brilliant, never so
overcharged with life, color, and adventure.
In those days "the Emperor sat in his box that night," and in the
box opposite sat Cora Pearl; veterans of the campaign of Italy, of
Mexico, from the desert fights of Algiers, sipped sugar and water
in front of Tortoni's, the Cafe Durand, the Cafe Riche; the
sidewalks rang with their sabres, the boulevards were filled with
the colors of the gorgeous uniforms; all night of each night the
Place Vendome shone with the carriage lamps of the visiting
pashas from Egypt, of nabobs from India, of _rastaquoueres_ from
the sister empire of Brazil; the state carriages, with the outriders
and postilions in the green and gold of the Empress, swept through
the Champs Elysees, and at the Bal Bulier, and at Mabile the
students and "grisettes" introduced the cancan. The men of those
days were Hugo, Thiers, Dumas, Daudet, Alfred de Musset; the
magnificent blackguard, the Duc de Morny, and the great, simple
Canrobert, the captain of barricades, who became a marshal of
Over all was the mushroom Emperor, his anterooms crowded with
the titled charlatans of Europe, his court radiant with countesses
created overnight. And it was the Emperor, with his love of
theatrical display, of gorgeous ceremonies; with his restless
reaching after military glory, the weary, cynical adventurer, that
the boy at St. Cyr took as his model.
Royalist as was Harden-Hickey by birth and tradition, and Royalist
as he always remained, it was the court at the Tuileries that filled
his imagination. The Bourbons, whom he served, hoped some day
for a court; at the Tuileries there was a court, glittering before his
physical eyes. The Bourbons were pleasant old gentlemen, who
later willingly supported him, and for whom always he was equally
willing to fight, either with his sword or his pen. But to the last, in
his mind, he carried pictures of the Second Empire as he, as a boy,
had known it.
Can you not imagine the future James the First, barelegged, in a
black-belted smock, halting with his nurse, or his priest, to gaze up
in awestruck delight at the great, red-breeched Zouaves lounging
on guard at the Tuileries?
"When I grow up," said little James to himself, not knowing that
he never would grow up, "I shall have Zouaves for _my_ palace
And twenty years later, when he laid down the laws for his little
kingdom, you find that the officers of his court must wear the
mustache, "_a la_ Louis Napoleon," and that the Zouave uniform
will be worn by the Palace Guards.
In 1883, while he still was at the War College, his father died, and
when he graduated, which he did with honors, he found himself his
own master. His assets were a small income, a perfect knowledge
of the French language, and the reputation of being one of the most
expert swordsman in Paris. He chose not to enter the army, and
instead became a journalist, novelist, duellist, an _habitue_ of the
Latin Quarter and the boulevards.
As a novelist the titles of his books suggest their quality. Among
them are: "Un Amour Vendeen," "Lettres d'un Yankee," "Un
Amour dans le Monde," "Memoires d'un Gommeux,"
"Merveilleuses Aventures de Nabuchodonosor, Nosebreaker."
Of the Catholic Church he wrote seriously, apparently with deep
conviction, with high enthusiasm. In her service as a defender of
the faith he issued essays, pamphlets, "broadsides." The opponents
of the Church in Paris he attacked relentlessly.
As a reward for his championship he received the title of baron.
In 1878, while only twenty-four, he married the Countess de
Saint-Pery, by whom he had two children, a boy and a girl, and
three years later he started _Triboulet_. It was this paper that made
him famous to "all Paris."
It was a Royalist sheet, subsidized by the Count de Chambord and
published in the interest of the Bourbons. Until 1888
Harden-Hickey was its editor, and even by his enemies it must be
said that he served his employers with zeal. During the seven years
in which the paper amused Paris and annoyed the republican
government, as its editor Harden-Hickey was involved in forty-two
lawsuits, for different editorial indiscretions, fined three hundred
thousand francs, and was a principal in countless duels.
To his brother editors his standing interrogation was: "Would you
prefer to meet me upon the editorial page, or in the Bois de
Boulogne?" Among those who met him in the Bois were Aurelien
Scholl, H. Lavenbryon, M. Taine, M. de Cyon, Philippe Du Bois,
In 1888, either because, his patron the Count de Chambord having
died, there was no more money to pay the fines, or because the
patience of the government was exhausted, _Triboulet_ ceased to
exist, and Harden-Hickey, claiming the paper had been suppressed
and he himself exiled, crossed to London.
From there he embarked upon a voyage around the world, which
lasted two years, and in the course of which he discovered the
island kingdom of which he was to be the first and last king.
Previous to his departure, having been divorced from the Countess
de Saint-Pery, he placed his boy and girl in the care of a
fellow-journalist and very dear friend, the Count de la Boissiere, of
whom later we shall hear more.
Harden-Hickey started around the world on the _Astoria_, a British
merchant vessel bound for India by way of Cape Horn, Captain
When off the coast of Brazil the ship touched at the uninhabited
island of Trinidad. Historians of James the First say that it was
through stress of weather that the _Astoria_ was driven to seek
refuge there, but as, for six months of the year, to make a landing
on the island is almost impossible, and as at any time, under stress
of weather, Trinidad would be a place to avoid, it is more likely
Jackson put in to replenish his water-casks, or to obtain a supply of
Or it may have been that, having told Harden-Hickey of the
derelict island, the latter persuaded the captain to allow him to
land and explore it. Of this, at least, we are certain, a boat was sent
ashore, Harden-Hickey went ashore in it, and before he left the
island, as a piece of no man's land, belonging to no country, he
claimed it in his own name, and upon the beach raised a flag of his
The island of Trinidad claimed by Harden-Hickey must not be
confused with the larger Trinidad belonging to Great Britain and
lying off Venezuela.
The English Trinidad is a smiling, peaceful spot of great tropical
beauty; it is one of the fairest places in the West Indies. At every
hour of the year the harbor of Port of Spain holds open its arms to
vessels of every draught. A governor in a pith helmet, a cricket
club, a bishop in gaiters, and a botanical garden go to make it a
prosperous and contented colony. But the little derelict Trinidad,
in latitude 20 degrees 30 minutes south, and longitude 29 degrees
22 minutes west, seven hundred miles from the coast of Brazil, is
but a spot upon the ocean. On most maps it is not even a spot.
Except by birds, turtles, and hideous land-crabs, it is uninhabited;
and against the advances of man its shores are fortified with cruel
ridges of coral, jagged limestone rocks, and a tremendous towering
surf which, even in a dead calm, beats many feet high against the
In 1698 Dr. Halley visited the island, and says he found nothing
living but doves and land-crabs. "Saw many green turtles in sea,
but by reason of the great surf, could catch none."
After Halley's visit, in 1700 the island was settled by a few
Portuguese from Brazil. The ruins of their stone huts are still in
evidence. But Amaro Delano, who called in 1803, makes no
mention of the Portuguese; and when, in 1822, Commodore Owen
visited Trinidad, he found nothing living there save cormorants,
petrels, gannets, man-of-war birds, and "turtles weighing from five
hundred to seven hundred pounds."
In 1889 E. F. Knight, who in the Japanese-Russian War
represented the London _Morning Post_, visited Trinidad in his
yacht in search of buried treasure.
Alexander Dalrymple, in his book entitled "Collection of Voages,
chiefly in the Southern Atlantick Ocean, 1775," tells how, in 1700,
he "took possession of the island in his Majesty's name as knowing
it to be granted by the King's letter patent, leaving a Union Jack
So it appears that before Harden-Hickey seized the island it
already had been claimed by Great Britain, and later, on account of
the Portuguese settlement, by Brazil. The answer Harden-Hickey
made to these claims was that the English never settled in
Trinidad, and that the Portuguese abandoned it, and, therefore,
their claims lapsed. In his "prospectus" of his island,
Harden-Hickey himself describes it thus:
"Trinidad is about five miles long and three miles wide. In spite of
its rugged and uninviting appearance, the inland plateaus are rich
with luxuriant vegetation.
"Prominent among this is a peculiar species of bean, which is not
only edible, but extremely palatable. The surrounding seas swarm
with fish, which as yet are wholly unsuspicious of the hook.
Dolphins, rock-cod, pigfish, and blackfish may be caught as
quickly as they can be hauled out. I look to the sea birds and the
turtles to afford our principal source of revenue. Trinidad is the
breeding-place of almost the entire feathery population of the
South Atlantic Ocean. The exportation of guano alone should
make my little country prosperous. Turtles visit the island to
deposit eggs, and at certain seasons the beach is literally alive with
them. The only drawback to my projected kingdom is the fact that
it has no good harbor and can be approached only when the sea is
As a matter of fact sometimes months pass before it is possible to
effect a landing.
Another asset of the island held out by the prospectus was its great
store of buried treasure. Before Harden-Hickey seized the island,
this treasure had made it known. This is the legend. In 1821 a great
store of gold and silver plate plundered from Peruvian churches
had been concealed on the islands by pirates near Sugar Loaf Hill,
on the shore of what is known as the Southwest Bay. Much of this
plate came from the cathedral at Lima, having been carried from
there during the war of independence when the Spanish residents
fled the country. In their eagerness to escape they put to sea in any
ship that offered, and these unarmed and unseaworthy vessels fell
an easy prey to pirates. One of these pirates on his death-bed, in
gratitude to his former captain, told him the secret of the treasure.
In 1892 this captain was still living, in Newcastle, England, and
although his story bears a family resemblance to every other story
of buried treasure, there were added to the tale of the pirate some
corroborative details. These, in twelve years, induced five different
expeditions to visit the island. The two most important were that
of E. F. Knight and one from the Tyne in the bark _Aurea_.
In his "Cruise of the _Alerte_," Knight gives a full description of
the island, and of his attempt to find the treasure. In this, a
landslide having covered the place where it was buried, he was
But Knight's book is the only source of accurate information
concerning Trinidad, and in writing his prospectus it is evident that
Harden-Hickey was forced to borrow from it freely. Knight
himself says that the most minute and accurate description of
Trinidad is to be found in the "Frank Mildmay" of Captain
Marryat. He found it so easy to identify each spot mentioned in the
novel that he believes the author of "Midshipman Easy" himself
After seizing Trinidad, Harden-Hickey rounded the Cape and made
north to Japan, China, and India. In India he became interested in
Buddhism, and remained for over a year questioning the priests of
that religion and studying its tenets and history.
On his return to Paris, in 1890, he met Miss Annie Harper Flagler,
daughter of John H. Flagler. A year later, on St. Patrick's Day,
1891, at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, Miss Flagler
became the Baroness Harden-Hickey. The Rev. John Hall married
For the next two years Harden-Hickey lived in New York, but so
quietly that, except that he lived quietly, it is difficult to find out
anything concerning him. The man who, a few years before, had
delighted Paris with his daily feuilletons, with his duels, with his
forty-two lawsuits, who had been the master of revels in the Latin
Quarter, in New York lived almost as a recluse, writing a book on
Buddhism. While he was in New York I was a reporter on the
_Evening Sun_, but I cannot recall ever having read his name in
the newspapers of that day, and I heard of him only twice; once as
giving an exhibition of his water-colors at the American Art
Galleries, and again as the author of a book I found in a store in
Twenty-second Street, just east of Broadway, then the home of the
Truth Seeker Publishing Company.
It was a grewsome compilation and had just appeared in print. It
was called "Euthanasia, or the Ethics of Suicide." This book was
an apology or plea for self-destruction. In it the baron laid down
those occasions when he considered suicide pardonable, and when
obligatory. To support his arguments and to show that suicide was
a noble act, he quoted Plato, Cicero, Shakespeare, and even
misquoted the Bible. He gave a list of poisons, and the amount of
each necessary to kill a human being. To show how one can depart
from life with the least pain, he illustrated the text with most
unpleasant pictures, drawn by himself.
The book showed how far Harden-Hickey had strayed from the
teachings of the Jesuit College at Namur, and of the Church that
had made him "noble."
All of these two years had not been spent only in New York.
Harden-Hickey made excursions to California, to Mexico, and to
Texas, and in each of these places bought cattle ranches and
mines. The money to pay for these investments came from his
father-in-law. But not directly. Whenever he wanted money he
asked his wife, or De la Boissiere, who was a friend also of
Flagler, to obtain it for him.
His attitude toward his father-in-law is difficult to explain. It is not
apparent that Flagler ever did anything which could justly offend
him; indeed, he always seems to have spoken of his son-in-law
with tolerance, and often with awe, as one would speak of a clever,
wayward child. But Harden-Hickey chose to regard Flagler as his
enemy, as a sordid man of business who could not understand the
feelings and aspirations of a genius and a gentleman.
Before Harden-Hickey married, the misunderstanding between his
wife's father and himself began. Because he thought
Harden-Hickey was marrying his daughter for her money, Flagler
opposed the union. Consequently, Harden-Hickey married Miss
Flagler without "settlements," and for the first few years supported
her without aid from her father. But his wife had been accustomed
to a manner of living beyond the means of the soldier of fortune,
and soon his income, and then even his capital, was exhausted.
From her mother the baroness inherited a fortune. This was in the
hands of her father as executor. When his own money was gone,
Harden-Hickey endeavored to have the money belonging to his
wife placed to her credit, or to his. To this, it is said, Flagler, on
the ground that Harden-Hickey was not a man of business, while
he was, objected, and urged that he was, and that if it remained in
his hands the money would be better invested and better expended.
It was the refusal of Flagler to intrust Harden-Hickey with the care
of his wife's money that caused the breach between them.
As I have said, you cannot judge Harden-Hickey as you would a
contemporary. With the people among whom he was thrown, his
ideas were entirely out of joint. He should have lived in the days of
"The Three Musketeers." People who looked upon him as working
for his own hand entirely misunderstood him. He was absolutely
honest, and as absolutely without a sense of humor. To him, to pay
taxes, to pay grocers' bills, to depend for protection upon a
policeman, was intolerable. He lived in a world of his own
imagining. And one day, in order to make his imaginings real, and
to escape from his father-in-law's unromantic world of Standard
Oil and Florida hotels, in a proclamation to the powers he
announced himself as King James the First of the Principality of
The proclamation failed to create a world crisis. Several of the
powers recognized his principality and his title; but, as a rule,
people laughed, wondered, and forgot. That the daughter of John
Flagler was to rule the new principality gave it a "news interest,"
and for a few Sundays in the supplements she was hailed as the
When upon the subject of the new kingdom Flagler himself was
interviewed, he showed an open mind.
"My son-in-law is a very determined man," he said; "he will carry
out any scheme in which he is interested. Had he consulted me
about this, I would have been glad to have aided him with money
or advice. My son-in-law is an extremely well-read, refined,
well-bred man. He does not court publicity. While he was staying
in my house he spent nearly all the time in the library translating
an Indian book on Buddhism. My daughter has no ambition to be a
queen or anything else than what she is--an American girl. But my
son-in-law means to carry on this Trinidad scheme, and--he will."
From his father-in-law, at least, Harden-Hickey could not complain
that he had met with lack of sympathy.
The rest of America was amused; and after less than nine days,
indifferent. But Harden-Hickey, though unobtrusively, none the
less earnestly continued to play the part of king. His friend De la
Boissiere he appointed his Minister of Foreign Affairs, and
established in a Chancellery at 217 West Thirty-sixth Street, New
York, and from there was issued a sort of circular, or prospectus,
written by the king, and signed by "Le Grand Chancelier,
Secretaire d'Etat pour les Affaires Etrangeres, M. le Comte de la
The document, written in French, announced that the new state
would be governed by a military dictatorship, that the royal
standard was a yellow triangle on a red ground, and that the arms
of the principality were "d'Or chape de Gueules." It pointed out
naively that those who first settled on the island would be naturally
the oldest inhabitants, and hence would form the aristocracy. But
only those who at home enjoyed social position and some private
fortune would be admitted into this select circle.
For itself the state reserved a monopoly of the guano, of the turtles,
and of the buried treasure. And both to discover the treasure and to
encourage settlers to dig and so cultivate the soil, a percentage of
the treasure was promised to the one who found it.
Any one purchasing ten $200 bonds was entitled to a free passage
to the island, and after a year, should he so desire it, a return trip.
The hard work was to be performed by Chinese coolies, the
aristocracy existing beautifully, and, according to the prospectus,
to enjoy _"vie d'un genre tout nouveau, et la recherche de
To reward his subjects for prominence in literature, the arts, and
the sciences, his Majesty established an order of chivalry. The
official document creating this order reads:
"We, James, Prince of Trinidad, have resolved to commemorate
our accession to the throne of Trinidad by the institution of an
Order of Chivalry, destined to reward literature, industry, science,
and the human virtues, and by these presents have established and
do institute, with cross and crown, the Order of the Insignia of the
Cross of Trinidad, of which we and our heirs and successors shall
be the sovereigns.
"Given in our Chancellery the Eighth of the month of December,
one thousand eight hundred and ninety-three, and of our reign, the
There were four grades: Chevalier, Commander, Grand Officer,
and Grand Cross; and the name of each member of the order was
inscribed in "The Book of Gold." A pension of one thousand francs
was given to a Chevalier, of two thousand francs to a Commander,
and of three thousand francs to a Grand Officer. Those of the grade
of Grand Cross were content with a plaque of eight
diamond-studded rays, with, in the centre, set in red enamel, the
arms of Trinidad. The ribbon was red and yellow.
A rule of the order read: "The costume shall be identical with that
of the Chamberlains of the Court of Trinidad, save the buttons,
which shall bear the impress of the Crown of the Order."
For himself, King James commissioned a firm of jewelers to
construct a royal crown. In design it was similar to the one which
surmounted the cross of Trinidad. It is shown in the photograph of
the insignia. Also, the king issued a set of postage-stamps on
which was a picture of the island. They were of various colors and
denominations, and among stamp-collectors enjoyed a certain sale.
To-day, as I found when I tried to procure one to use in this book,
they are worth many times their face value.
For some time the affairs of the new kingdom progressed
favorably. In San Francisco, King James, in person, engaged four
hundred coolies and fitted out a schooner which he sent to
Trinidad, where it made regular trips between his principality and
Brazil; an agent was established on the island, and the construction
of docks, wharves, and houses was begun, while at the chancellery
in West Thirty-sixth Street, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was
ready to furnish would-be settlers with information.
And then, out of a smiling sky, a sudden and unexpected blow was
struck at the independence of the little kingdom. It was a blow
from which it never recovered.
In July of 1895, while constructing a cable to Brazil, Great Britain
found the Island of Trinidad lying in the direct line she wished to
follow, and, as a cable station, seized it. Objection to this was
made by Brazil, and at Bahia a mob with stones pelted the sign of
the English Consul-General.
By right of Halley's discovery, England claimed the island; as a
derelict from the main land, Brazil also claimed it. Between the
rivals, the world saw a chance for war, and the fact that the island
really belonged to our King James for a moment was forgotten.
But the Minister of Foreign Affairs was at his post. With
promptitude and vigor he acted. He addressed a circular note to all
the powers of Europe, and to our State Department a protest. It
read as follows:
"GRANDE CHANCELLERIE DE LA PRINCIPAUTE DE
27 WEST THIRTY-SIXTH STREET,
NEW YORK CITY, U. S. A.,
"NEW YORK, _July_ 30, 1895.
_"To His Excellency Mr. the Secretary of State of
the Republic of the United States of North
America, Washington, D. C.:_
"EXCELLENCY.--I have the honor to recall to your memory:
"1. That in the course of the month of September, 1893, Baron
Harden-Hickey officially notified all the Powers of his taking
possession of the uninhabited island of Trinidad; and
"2. That in course of January, 1894, he renewed to all these Powers
the official notification of the said taking of possession, and
informed them at the same time that from that date the land would
be known as 'Principality of Trinidad'; that he took the title of
'Prince of Trinidad,' and would reign under the name of James I.
"In consequence of these official notifications several Powers have
recognized the new Principality and its Prince, and at all events
none thought it necessary at that epoch to raise objections or
"The press of the entire world has, on the other hand, often
acquainted readers with these facts, thus giving to them all
possible publicity. In consequence of the accomplishment of these
various formalities, and as the law of nations prescribes that
'derelict' territories belong to whoever will take possession of
them, and as the island of Trinidad, which has been abandoned for
years, certainly belongs to the aforesaid category, his Serene
Highness Prince James I was authorized to regard his rights on the
said island as perfectly valid and indisputable.
"Nevertheless, your Excellency knows that recently, in spite of all
the legitimate rights of my august sovereign, an English war-ship
has disembarked at Trinidad a detachment of armed troops and
taken possession of the island in the name of England.
"Following this assumption of territory, the Brazilian Government,
invoking a right of ancient Portuguese occupation (long ago
outlawed), has notified the English Government to surrender the
island to Brazil.
"I beg of your Excellency to ask of the Government of the United
States of North America to recognize the Principality of Trinidad
as an independent State, and to come to an understanding with the
other American Powers in order to guarantee its neutrality.
"Thus the Government of the United States of North America will
once more accord its powerful assistance to the cause of right and
of justice, misunderstood by England and Brazil, put an end to a
situation which threatens to disturb the peace, re-establish concord
between two great States ready to appeal to arms, and affirm itself,
moreover, as the faithful interpreter of the Monroe Doctrine.
"In the expectation of your reply please accept, Excellency, the
expression of my elevated consideration.
"The Grand Chancellor, Secretary for Foreign Affairs,
"COMTE DE LA BOISSIERE."
At that time Richard Olney was Secretary of State, and in his
treatment of the protest, and of the gentleman who wrote it, he
fully upheld the reputation he made while in office of lack of good
manners. Saying he was unable to read the handwriting in which
the protest was written, he disposed of it in a way that would
suggest itself naturally to a statesman and a gentleman. As a
"crank" letter he turned it over to the Washington correspondents.
You can imagine what they did with it.
The day following the reporters in New York swept down upon the
chancellery and upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was the
"silly season" in August, there was no real news in town, and the
troubles of De la Boissiere were allowed much space.
They laughed at him and at his king, at his chancellery, at his
broken English, at his "grave and courtly manners," even at his
clothes. But in spite of the ridicule, between the lines you could
read that to the man himself it all was terribly real.
I had first heard of the island of Trinidad from two men I knew
who spent three months on it searching for the treasure, and when
Harden-Hickey proclaimed himself lord of the island, through the
papers I had carefully followed his fortunes. So, partly out of
curiosity and partly out of sympathy, I called at the chancellery.
I found it in a brownstone house, in a dirty neighborhood just west
of Seventh Avenue, and of where now stands the York Hotel.
Three weeks ago I revisited it and found it unchanged. At the time
of my first visit, on the jamb of the front door was pasted a piece
of paper on which was written in the handwriting of De la
Boissiere: "Chancellerie de la Principaute de Trinidad."
The chancellery was not exactly in its proper setting. On its
door-step children of the tenements were playing dolls with
clothes-pins; in the street a huckster in raucous tones was offering
wilted cabbages to women in wrappers leaning from the fire
escapes; the smells and the heat of New York in midsummer rose
from the asphalt. It was a far cry to the wave-swept island off the
coast of Brazil.
De la Boissiere received me with distrust. The morning papers had
made him man-shy; but, after a few "Your Excellencies" and a
respectful inquiry regarding "His Royal Highness," his confidence
revived. In the situation he saw nothing humorous, not even in an
announcement on the wall which read: "Sailings to Trinidad." Of
these there were _two_; on March 1, and on October 1. On the
table were many copies of the royal proclamation, the
postage-stamps of the new government, the thousand-franc bonds,
and, in pasteboard boxes, the gold and red enamelled crosses of
the Order of Trinidad.
He talked to me frankly and fondly of Prince James. Indeed, I
never met any man who knew Harden-Hickey well who did not
speak of him with aggressive loyalty. If at his eccentricities they
smiled, it was with the smile of affection. It was easy to see De la
Boissiere regarded him not only with the affection of a friend, but
with the devotion of a true subject. In his manner he himself was
courteous, gentle, and so distinguished that I felt as though I were
enjoying, on intimate terms, an audience with one of the
prime-ministers of Europe.
And he, on his part, after the ridicule of the morning papers, to
have any one with outward seriousness accept his high office and
his king, was, I believe, not ungrateful.
I told him I wished to visit Trinidad, and in that I was quite
serious. The story of an island filled with buried treasure, and
governed by a king, whose native subjects were turtles and
seagulls, promised to make interesting writing.
The count was greatly pleased. I believe in me he saw his first
bona-fide settler, and when I rose to go he even lifted one of the
crosses of Trinidad and, before my envious eyes, regarded it
Perhaps, had he known that of all decorations it was the one I most
desired; had I only then and there booked my passage, or sworn
allegiance to King James, who knows but that to-day I might be a
chevalier, with my name in the "Book of Gold"? But instead of
bending the knee, I reached for my hat; the count replaced the
cross in its pasteboard box, and for me the psychological moment
Others, more deserving of the honor, were more fortunate. Among
my fellow-reporters who, like myself, came to scoff, and remained
to pray, was Henri Pene du Bois, for some time, until his recent
death, the brilliant critic of art and music of the _American_. Then
he was on the _Times_, and Henry N. Cary, now of the _Morning
Telegraph_, was his managing editor.
When Du Bois reported to Cary on his assignment, he said: "There
is nothing funny in that story. It's pathetic. Both those men are in
earnest. They are convinced they are being robbed of their rights.
Their only fault is that they have imagination, and that the rest of
us lack it. That's the way it struck me, and that's the way the story
ought to be written."
"Write it that way," said Cary.
So, of all the New York papers, the _Times_, for a brief period,
became the official organ of the Government of James the First,
and in time Cary and Du Bois were created Chevaliers of the
Order of Trinidad, and entitled to wear uniforms "Similar to those
of the Chamberlains of the Court, save that the buttons bear the
impress of the Royal Crown."
The attack made by Great Britain and Brazil upon the
independence of the principality, while it left Harden-Hickey in
the position of a king in exile, brought him at once another crown,
which, by those who offered it to him, was described as of
incomparably greater value than that of Trinidad.
In the first instance the man had sought the throne; in this case the
throne sought the man.
In 1893 in San Francisco, Ralston J. Markowe, a lawyer and a
one-time officer of artillery in the United States army, gained
renown as one of the Morrow filibustering expedition which
attempted to overthrow the Dole government in the Hawaiian Isles
and restore to the throne Queen Liliuokalani. In San Francisco
Markowe was nicknamed the "Prince of Honolulu," as it was
understood, should Liliuokalani regain her crown, he would be
rewarded with some high office. But in the star of Liliuokalani,
Markowe apparently lost faith, and thought he saw in
Harden-Hickey timber more suitable for king-making.
Accordingly, twenty-four days after the "protest" was sent to our
State Department, Markowe switched his allegiance to
Harden-Hickey, and to him addressed the following letter:
"SAN FRANCISCO, August 26, 1895.
BARON HARDEN-HICKEY, LOS ANGELES, CAL.:
"Monseigneur--Your favor of August 16 has been received.
"1. I am the duly authorized agent of the Royalist party in so far as
it is possible for any one to occupy that position under existing
circumstances. With the Queen in prison and absolutely cut off
from all communication with her friends, it is out of the question
for me to carry anything like formal credentials.
"2. Alienating any part of the territory cannot give rise to any
constitutional questions, for the reason that the constitutions, like
the land tenures, are in a state of such utter confusion that only a
strong hand can unravel them, and the restoration will result in the
establishment of a strong military government. If I go down with
the expedition I have organized I shall be in full control of the
situation and in a position to carry out all my contracts.
"3. It is the island of Kauai on which I propose to establish you as
an independent sovereign.
"4. My plan is to successively occupy all the islands, leaving the
capital to the last. When the others have fallen, the capital, being
cut off from all its resources, will be easily taken, and may very
likely fall without effort. I don't expect in any case to have to
fortify myself or to take the defensive, or to have to issue a call to
arms, as I shall have an overwhelming force to join me at once, in
addition to those who go with me, who by themselves will be
sufficient to carry everything before them without active
cooperation from the people there.
"5. The Government forces consist of about 160 men and boys,
with very imperfect military training, and of whom about forty are
officers. They are organized as infantry. There are also about 600
citizens enrolled as a reserve guard, who may be called upon in
case of an emergency, and about 150 police. We can fully rely
upon the assistance of all the police and from one-quarter to
one-half of the other troops. And of the remainder many will under
no circumstances engage in a sharp fight in defense of the present
government. There are now on the island plenty of men and arms
to accomplish our purpose, and if my expedition does not get off
very soon the people there will be organized to do the work
without other assistance from here than the direction of a few
leaders, of which they stand more in need than anything else.
"6. The tonnage of the vessel is 146. She at present has berth-room
for twenty men, but bunks can be arranged in the hold for 256
more, with provision for ample ventilation. She has one complete
set of sails and two extra spars. The remaining information in
regard to her I will have to obtain and send you to-morrow. I think
it must be clear to you that the opportunity now offered you will be
of incomparably greater value at once than Trinidad would ever
be. Still hoping that I may have an interview with you at an early
date, respectfully yours,
"RALSTON J. MARKOWE."
What Harden-Hickey thought of this is not known, but as two
weeks before he received it he had written Markowe, asking him
by what authority he represented the Royalists of Honolulu, it
seems evident that when the crown of Hawaii was first proffered
him he did not at once spurn it.
He now was in the peculiar position of being a deposed king of an
island in the South Atlantic, which had been taken from him, and
king-elect of an island in the Pacific, which was his if he could
This was in August of 1895. For the two years following,
Harden-Hickey was a soldier of misfortunes. Having lost his island
kingdom, he could no longer occupy himself with plans for its
improvement. It had been his toy. They had taken it from him, and
the loss and the ridicule which followed hurt him bitterly.
And for the lands he really owned in Mexico and California, and
which, if he were to live in comfort, it was necessary he should
sell, he could find no purchaser; and, moreover, having quarrelled
with his father-in-law, he had cut off his former supply of money.
The need of it pinched him cruelly.
The advertised cause of this quarrel was sufficiently characteristic
to be the real one. Moved by the attack of Great Britain upon his
principality, Harden-Hickey decided upon reprisals. It must be
remembered that always he was more Irish than French. On paper
he organized an invasion of England from Ireland, the home of his
ancestors. It was because Flagler refused to give him money for
this adventure that he broke with him. His friends say this was the
real reason of the quarrel, which was a quarrel on the side of
And there were other, more intimate troubles. While not separated
from his wife, he now was seldom in her company. When the
Baroness was in Paris, Harden-Hickey was in San Francisco; when
she returned to San Francisco, he was in Mexico. The fault seems
to have been his. He was greatly admired by pretty women. His
daughter by his first wife, now a very beautiful girl of sixteen,
spent much time with her stepmother; and when not on his father's
ranch in Mexico, his son also, for months together, was at her side.
The husband approved of this, but he himself saw his wife
infrequently. Nevertheless, early in the spring of 1898, the
Baroness leased a house in Brockton Square, in Riverside, Cal.,
where it was understood by herself and by her friends her husband
would join her. At that time in Mexico he was trying to dispose of
a large tract of land. Had he been able to sell it, the money for a
time would have kept one even of his extravagances contentedly
rich. At least, he would have been independent of his wife and of
her father. Up to February of 1898 his obtaining this money
Early in that month the last prospective purchaser decided not to
There is no doubt that had Harden-Hickey then turned to his
father-in-law, that gentleman, as he had done before, would have
opened an account for him.
But the Prince of Trinidad felt he could no longer beg, even for the
money belonging to his wife, from the man he had insulted. He
could no longer ask his wife to intercede for him. He was without
money of his own, with out the means of obtaining it; from his
wife he had ceased to expect even sympathy, and from the world
he knew, the fact that he was a self-made king caused him always
to be pointed out with ridicule as a charlatan, as a jest.
The soldier of varying fortunes, the duellist and dreamer, the
devout Catholic and devout Buddhist, saw the forty-third year of
his life only as the meeting-place of many fiascos.
His mind was tormented with imaginary wrongs, imaginary slights,
This young man, who could paint pictures, write books, organize
colonies oversea, and with a sword pick the buttons from a
waistcoat, forgot the twenty good years still before him; forgot that
men loved him for the mistakes he had made; that in parts of the
great city of Paris his name was still spoken fondly, still was
famous and familiar.
In his book on the "Ethics of Suicide," for certain hard places in
life he had laid down an inevitable rule of conduct.
As he saw it he had come to one of those hard places, and he
would not ask of others what he himself would not perform.
From Mexico he set out for California, but not to the house his
wife had prepared for him.
Instead, on February 9, 1898, at El Paso, he left the train and
registered at a hotel.
At 7.30 in the evening he went to his room, and when, on the
following morning, they kicked in the door, they found him
stretched rigidly upon the bed, like one lying in state, with, near
his hand, a half-emptied bottle of poison.
On a chair was pinned this letter to his wife:
"My DEAREST,--No news from you, although you have had
plenty of time to write. Harvey has written me that he has no one
in view at present to buy my land. Well, I shall have tasted the cup
of bitterness to the very dregs, but I do not complain. Good-by. I
forgive you your conduct toward me and trust you will be able to
forgive yourself. I prefer to be a dead gentleman to a living
blackguard like your father."
And when they searched his open trunk for something that might
identify the body on the bed, they found the crown of Trinidad.
You can imagine it: the mean hotel bedroom, the military figure
with its white face and mustache, "_a la_ Louis Napoleon," at rest
upon the pillow, the startled drummers and chambermaids peering
in from the hall, and the landlord, or coroner, or doctor, with a
bewildered countenance, lifting to view the royal crown of gilt and
The other actors in this, as Harold Frederic called it, "Opera
Bouffe Monarchy," are still living.
The Baroness Harden-Hickey makes her home in this country.
The Count de la Boissiere, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, is still a
leader of the French colony in New York, and a prosperous
commission merchant with a suite of offices on Fifty-fourth Street.
By the will of Harden-Hickey he is executor of his estate, guardian
of his children, and what, for the purpose of this article, is of more
importance, in his hands lies the future of the kingdom of
Trinidad. When Harden-Hickey killed himself the title to the
island was in dispute. Should young Harden-Hickey wish to claim
it, it still would be in dispute. Meanwhile, by the will of the First
James, De la Boissiere is appointed perpetual regent, a sort of
"receiver," and executor of the principality.
To him has been left a royal decree signed and sealed, but blank.
In the will the power to fill in this blank with a statement showing
the final disposition of the island has been bestowed upon De la
So, some day, he may proclaim the accession of a new king, and
give a new lease of life to the kingdom of which Harden-Hickey
But unless his son, or wife, or daughter should assert his or her
rights, which is not likely to happen, so ends the dynasty of James
the First of Trinidad, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire.
To the wise ones in America he was a fool, and they laughed at
him; to the wiser ones, he was a clever rascal who had evolved a
new real-estate scheme and was out to rob the people--and they
respected him. To my mind, of them all, Harden-Hickey was the
Granted one could be serious, what could be more delightful than
to be your own king on your own island?
The comic paragraphers, the business men of "hard, common
sense," the captains of industry who laughed at him and his
national resources of buried treasure, turtles' eggs, and guano, with
his body-guard of Zouaves and his Grand Cross of Trinidad,
certainly possessed many things that Harden-Hickey lacked. But
they in turn lacked the things that made him happy; the power to
"make believe," the love of romance, the touch of adventure that
plucked him by the sleeve.
When, as boys, we used to say: "Let's pretend we're pirates," as a
man, Harden-Hickey begged: "Let's pretend I'm a king."
But the trouble was, the other boys had grown up and would not
For some reason his end always reminds me of the closing line of
Pinero's play, when the adventuress, Mrs. Tanqueray, kills herself,
and her virtuous stepchild says: "If we had only been kinder!"
WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL
IN the strict sense of the phrase, a soldier of fortune is a man who
for pay, or for the love of adventure, fights under the flag of any
In the bigger sense he is the kind of man who in any walk of life
makes his own fortune, who, when he sees it coming, leaps to
meet it, and turns it to his advantage.
Than Winston Spencer Churchill to-day there are few young
men--and he is a very young man--who have met more varying
fortunes, and none who has more frequently bent them to his own
advancement. To him it has been indifferent whether, at the
moment, the fortune seemed good or evil, in the end always it was
As a boy officer, when other subalterns were playing polo, and at
the Gaiety Theatre attending night school, he ran away to Cuba
and fought with the Spaniards. For such a breach of military
discipline, any other officer would have been court-martialled.
Even his friends feared that by his foolishness his career in the
army was at an end. Instead, his escapade was made a question in
the House of Commons, and the fact brought him such publicity
that the _Daily Graphic_ paid him handsomely to write on the
Cuban Revolution, and the Spanish Government rewarded him
with the Order of Military Merit.
At the very outbreak of the Boer war he was taken prisoner. It
seemed a climax of misfortune. With his brother officers he had
hoped in that campaign to acquit himself with credit, and that he
should lie inactive in Pretoria appeared a terrible calamity. To the
others who, through many heart-breaking months, suffered
imprisonment, it continued to be a calamity. But within six weeks
of his capture Churchill escaped, and, after many adventures,
rejoined his own army to find that the calamity had made him a
When after the battle of Omdurman, in his book on "The River
War," he attacked Lord Kitchener, those who did not like him, and
they were many, said: "That's the end of Winston in the army. He'll
never get another chance to criticise K. of K."
But only two years later the chance came, when, no longer a
subaltern, but as a member of the House of Commons, he
patronized Kitchener by defending him from the attacks of others.
Later, when his assaults upon the leaders of his own party closed to
him, even in his own constituency, the Conservative debating
clubs, again his ill-wishers said: "This _is_ the end. He has
ridiculed those who sit in high places. He has offended his cousin
and patron, the Duke of Marlborough. Without political friends,
without the influence and money of the Marlborough family he is a
political nonentity." That was eighteen months ago. To-day, at the
age of thirty-two, he is one of the leaders of the Government party,
Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and with the Liberals the most
popular young man in public life.
Only last Christmas, at a banquet, Sir Edward Grey, the new
Foreign Secretary, said of him: "Mr. Winston Churchill has
achieved distinction in at least five different careers--as a soldier, a
war correspondent, a lecturer, an author, and last, but not least, as
a politician. I have understated it even now, for he has achieved
two careers as a politician--one on each side of the House. His first
career on the Government side was a really distinguished career. I
trust the second will be even more distinguished--and more
prolonged. The remarkable thing is that he has done all this when,
unless appearances very much belie him, he has not reached the
age of sixty-four, which is the minimum age at which the
politician ceases to be young."
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born thirty-two years ago,
in November, 1874. By birth he is half-American. His father was
Lord Randolph Churchill, and his mother was Jennie Jerome, of
New York. On the father's side he is the grandchild of the seventh
Duke of Marlborough, on the distaff side, of Leonard Jerome.
To a student of heredity it would be interesting to try and discover
from which of these ancestors Churchill drew those qualities
which in him are most prominent, and which have led to his
What he owes to his father and mother it is difficult to
overestimate, almost as difficult as to overestimate what he has
accomplished by his own efforts.
He was not a child born a full-grown genius of commonplace
parents. Rather his fate threatened that he should always be known
as the son of his father. And certainly it was asking much of a boy
that he should live up to a father who was one of the most
conspicuous, clever, and erratic statesmen of the later Victorian
era, and a mother who is as brilliant as she is beautiful.
For at no time was the American wife content to be merely
ornamental. Throughout the political career of her husband she
was his helpmate, and as an officer of the Primrose League, as an
editor of the _Anglo-Saxon Review_, as, for many hot, weary
months in Durban Harbor, the head of the hospital ship _Maine_,
she has shown an acute mind and real executive power. At the
polls many votes that would not respond to the arguments of the
husband, and later of the son, were gained over to the cause by the
charm and wit of the American woman.
In his earlier days, if one can have days any earlier than those he
now enjoys, Churchill was entirely influenced by two things: the
tremendous admiration he felt for his father, which filled him with
ambition to follow in his orbit, and the camaraderie of his mother,
who treated him less like a mother than a sister and companion.
Indeed, Churchill was always so precocious that I cannot recall the
time when he was young enough to be Lady Randolph's son;
certainly, I cannot recall the time when she was old enough to be
When first I knew him he had passed through Harrow and
Sandhurst and was a second lieutenant in the Queen's Own
Hussars. He was just of age, but appeared much younger.
He was below medium height, a slight, delicate-looking boy;
although, as a matter of fact, extremely strong, with blue eyes,
many freckles, and hair which threatened to be a decided red, but
which now has lost its fierceness. When he spoke it was with a
lisp, which also has changed, and which now appears to be merely
an intentional hesitation.
His manner of speaking was nervous, eager, explosive. He used
many gestures, some of which were strongly reminiscent of his
father, of whom he, unlike most English lads, who shy at
mentioning a distinguished parent, constantly spoke.
He even copied his father in his little tricks of manner. Standing
with hands shoved under the frock-coat and one resting on each
hip as though squeezing in the waist line; when seated, resting the
elbows on the arms of the chair and nervously locking and
unclasping fingers, are tricks common to both.
He then had and still has a most embarrassing habit of asking
many questions; embarrassing, sometimes, because the questions
are so frank, and sometimes because they lay bare the wide
expanse of one's own ignorance.
At that time, although in his twenty-first year, this lad twice had
been made a question in the House of Commons.
That in itself had rendered him conspicuous. When you consider
out of Great Britain's four hundred million subjects how many live,
die, and are buried without at any age having drawn down upon
themselves the anger of the House of Commons, to have done so
twice, before one has passed his twenty-first year, seems to
promise a lurid future.
The first time Churchill disturbed the august assemblage in which
so soon he was to become a leader was when he "ragged" a brother
subaltern named Bruce and cut up his saddle and accoutrements.
The second time was when he ran away to Cuba to fight with the
After this campaign, on the first night of his arrival in London, he
made his maiden speech. He delivered it in a place of less dignity
than the House of Commons, but one, throughout Great Britain
and her colonies, as widely known and as well supported. This was
the Empire Music Hall.
At the time Mrs. Ormiston Chant had raised objections to the
presence in the Music Hall of certain young women, and had
threatened, unless they ceased to frequent its promenade, to have
the license of the Music Hall revoked. As a compromise, the
management ceased selling liquor, and on the night Churchill
visited the place the bar in the promenade was barricaded with
scantling and linen sheets. With the thirst of tropical Cuba still
upon him, Churchill asked for a drink, which was denied him, and
the crusade, which in his absence had been progressing fiercely,
was explained. Any one else would have taken no for his answer,
and have sought elsewhere for his drink. Not so Churchill. What
he did is interesting, because it was so extremely characteristic.
Now he would not do it; then he was twenty-one.
He scrambled to the velvet-covered top of the railing which
divides the auditorium from the promenade, and made a speech. It
was a plea in behalf of his "Sisters, the Ladies of the Empire
"Where," he asked of the ladies themselves and of their escorts
crowded below him in the promenade, "does the Englishman in
London always find a welcome? Where does he first go when,
battle-scarred and travel-worn, he reaches home? Who is always
there to greet him with a smile, and join him in a drink? Who is
ever faithful, ever true--the Ladies of the Empire Promenade."
The laughter and cheers that greeted this, and the tears of the
ladies themselves, naturally brought the performance on the stage
to a stop, and the vast audience turned in the seats and boxes.
They saw a little red-haired boy in evening clothes, balancing
himself on the rail of the balcony, and around him a great crowd,
cheering, shouting, and bidding him "Go on!"
Churchill turned with delight to the larger audience, and repeated
his appeal. The house shook with laughter and applause.
The commissionaires and police tried to reach him and a
good-tempered but very determined mob of well-dressed
gentlemen and cheering girls fought them back. In triumph
Churchill ended his speech by begging his hearers to give "fair
play" to the women, and to follow him in a charge upon the
The charge was instantly made, the barricades were torn down,
and the terrified management ordered that drink be served to its
Shortly after striking this blow for the liberty of others, Churchill
organized a dinner which illustrated the direction in which at that
age his mind was working, and showed that his ambition was
already abnormal. The dinner was given to those of his friends and
acquaintances who "were under twenty-one years of age, and who
in twenty years would control the destinies of the British Empire."
As one over the age limit, or because he did not consider me an
empire-controlling force, on this great occasion, I was permitted to
be present. But except that the number of incipient empire-builders
was very great, that they were very happy, and that save the host
himself none of them took his idea seriously, I would not call it an
evening of historical interest. But the fact is interesting that of all
the boys present, as yet, the host seems to be the only one who to
any conspicuous extent is disturbing the destinies of Great Britain.
However, the others can reply that ten of the twenty years have not
When he was twenty-three Churchill obtained leave of absence
from his regiment, and as there was no other way open to him to
see fighting, as a correspondent he joined the Malakand Field
Force in India.
It may be truthfully said that by his presence in that frontier war he
made it and himself famous. His book on that campaign is his best
piece of war reporting. To the civilian reader it has all the delight
of one of Kipling's Indian stories, and to writers on military
subjects it is a model. But it is a model very few can follow, and
which Churchill himself was unable to follow, for the reason that
only once is it given a man to be twenty-three years of age.
The picturesque hand-to-hand fighting, the night attacks, the
charges up precipitous hills, the retreats made carrying the
wounded under constant fire, which he witnessed and in which he
bore his part, he never again can see with the same fresh and
enthusiastic eyes. Then it was absolutely new, and the charm of the
book and the value of the book are that with the intolerance of
youth he attacks in the service evils that older men prefer to let lie,
and that with the ingenuousness of youth he tells of things which
to the veteran have become unimportant, or which through usage
he is no longer even able to see.
In his three later war books, the wonder of it, the horror of it, the
quick admiration for brave deeds and daring men, give place, in
"The River War," to the critical point of view of the military
expert, and in his two books on the Boer war to the rapid
impressions of the journalist. In these latter books he tells you of
battles he has seen, in the first one he made you see them.
For his services with the Malakand Field Force he received the
campaign medal with clasp, and, "in despatches,"
Brigadier-General Jeffreys praises "the courage and resolution of
Lieutenant W. L. S. Churchill, Fourth Hussars, with the force as
correspondent of the _Pioneer_."
From the operations around Malakand, he at once joined Sir
William Lockhart as orderly officer, and with the Tirah Expedition
went through that campaign.
For this his Indian medal gained a second clasp.
This was in the early part of 1898. In spite of the time taken up as
an officer and as a correspondent, he finished his book on the
Malakand Expedition and then, as it was evident Kitchener would
soon attack Khartum, he jumped across to Egypt and again as a
correspondent took part in the advance upon that city.
Thus, in one year, he had seen service in three campaigns.
On the day of the battle his luck followed him. Kitchener had
attached him to the Twenty-first Lancers, and it will be
remembered the event of the battle was the charge made by that
squadron. It was no canter, no easy "pig-sticking"; it was a fight to
get in and a fight to get out, with frenzied followers of the Khalifa
hanging to the bridle reins, hacking at the horses' hamstrings, and
slashing and firing point-blank at the troopers. Churchill was in
that charge. He received the medal with clasp.
Then he returned home and wrote "The River War." This book is
the last word on the campaigns up the Nile. From the death of
Gordon in Khartum to the capture of the city by Kitchener, it tells
the story of the many gallant fights, the wearying failures, the
many expeditions into the hot, boundless desert, the long, slow
progress toward the final winning of the Sudan.
The book made a distinct sensation. It was a work that one would
expect from a lieutenant-general, when, after years of service in
Egypt, he laid down his sword to pen the story of his life's work.
From a Second Lieutenant, who had been on the Nile hardly long
enough to gain the desert tan, it was a revelation. As a contribution
to military history it was so valuable that for the author it made
many admirers, but on account of his criticisms of his superior
officers it gained him even more enemies.
This is a specimen of the kind of thing that caused the retired army
officer to sit up and choke with apoplexy:
"General Kitchener, who never spares himself, cares little for
others. He treated all men like machines, from the private soldiers,
whose salutes he disdained, to the superior officers, whom he
rigidly controlled. The comrade who had served with him and
under him for many years, in peace and peril, was flung aside as
soon as he ceased to be of use. The wounded Egyptian and even
the wounded British soldier did not excite his interest."
When in the service clubs they read that, the veterans asked each
other their favorite question of what is the army coming to, and to
their own satisfaction answered it by pointing out that when a
lieutenant of twenty-four can reprimand the commanding general
the army is going to the dogs.
To the newspapers, hundreds of them, over their own signatures,
on the service club stationery, wrote violent, furious letters, and
the newspapers themselves, besides the ordinary reviews, gave to
the book editorial praise and editorial condemnation.
Equally disgusted were the younger officers of the service. They
nicknamed his book "A Subaltern's Advice to Generals," and
called Churchill himself a "Medal Snatcher." A medal snatcher is
an officer who, whenever there is a rumor of war, leaves his men
to the care of any one, and through influence in high places and for
the sake of the campaign medal has himself attached to the
expeditionary force. But Churchill never was a medal hunter. The
routine of barrack life irked him, and in foreign parts he served his
country far better than by remaining at home and inspecting
awkward squads and attending guard mount. Indeed, the War
Office could cover with medals the man who wrote "The Story of
the Malakand Field Force" and "The River War" and still be in his