Immediately after General Lee's surrender, the United 악녀알바
States Circuit Court held a session at Norfolk, Virginia, and made haste to indict for treason Robert E. Lee, John C. Breckenridge, Roger A. Pryor, and others. These men thereafter were not to feel any sense of personal security. A cloud of doubt and possible disaster still hung over them. Under this cloud they were to commence their lives anew.
Every one who has suffered an overwhelming misfortune must be conscious of a strange deadening of feeling—more intolerable even than pain. It may be a merciful provision of nature. Insensibility at a crucial moment may be nature's anæsthesia. Dr. Livingstone, the African explorer, relates that he was conscious of this insensibility when in the paws of a lion. He had a theory that the instinct of all animals to shake their victim, as the cat does a mouse, may be given in mercy to the vanquished. I was so completely stunned by the thought that all the suffering, all the spilt blood, all the poverty, all the desolation of the South was for naught; that her very fidelity, heroism, and fortitude, qualities so noble in themselves, had 373 wrought her undoing, that I seemed to become dead to everything around me. My husband was compelled to leave me, to seek employment in Richmond. My neighbors, like myself, were stunned into silence. "Here I and sorrow sit" might have been said truly of any one of us.
When the passing troops left us with only General Hartsuff's guard, the small earnings of my little boys ceased. John and his fellow-servants came into town, and reported to me.
"I can no longer maintain you or give you wages," I said to Eliza Page and her sisters.
"We will serve you for the good you have already done us," they said, but of course I could not allow this to any extent. Eliza returned to her husband and their little home.
With John I had more trouble. It was hard to make him understand that I could not afford his services on any terms.
"I will never leave you," was his reply to everything I urged.
"You must, John! You must go home to your father in Norfolk. He will advise you."
"The old man is in the oyster business," said John. "What do I care about oysters? All I care for is Marse Roger and these boys."
I knew that my poor John had an infirmity. Once when I had sent him with Alick from Cottage Farm on an errand he had returned very late. I could see the pair walking down the road alone, followed at some distance by the horse and wagon. They seemed to be trying to compass both sides of 374 the road at once. Alick was the first to report to me, with these words:—
"I—I-ain' drunk,—but Jawn! Jawn, he ve'y drunk!"
This painful scene had been reënacted often enough to make me anxious.
"You really must go to your father, John," I insisted. "How much money have you?" He had five dollars. I also had five, which I gave him.
"Now don't let me see you again," I said. "Write to me from Norfolk."
He left, protesting, but next morning he was gone. I heard from him soon and from his father. The old gentleman expressed gratitude and also some anxiety about John's "army habits."
And so no more of the only slave I ever owned!
Agnes wrote from Richmond early in May:—
"My Dearest: What could I do without you? Now don't flatter yourself that I need now, or ever did need, those beautiful moral reflections in well-chosen language by means of which you have striven to educate me. But you are an unmitigated blessing when my 'feelings are too many for me'—when, in short, I boil over.
"Now when a kettle boils over it puts out the fire, and then we go tea-less to bed. How nice it would be for the kettle if some convenient utensil were at hand to receive its excited bubbles.
"I am aggrieved and indignant at the sermons people are preaching to us. And I have caught a young brother in a flagrant theft. All Richmond is in a state of beautiful admiration at a sermon it listened to last week on the uses of our great misfortune. War was declared to be a blessing. 375 'The high passion of patriotism prevents the access of baser passions. Men's hearts beat together, and woman is roused from the frivolousness and feebleness into which her nature is apt to sink. Death, insult, carnage, violated homes, and broken hearts are all awful. But it is worse than a thousand deaths when a people has adopted the creed that the wealth of nations consists—not in generous hearts, in primitive simplicity, in preference of duty to life; not in MEN, but in silk, cotton, and something that they call "capital." If the price to be paid for peace is this—that wealth accumulates and men decay, better far that every street in every town of our once noble country should run blood.'
"Now all this is very fine, but very one-sided. And my brother didn't believe a word of it. He has been away in England and has seen none of the horrors of war; but he has seen something else—a very charming lecture printed in London some time before the war.
"Strange are the ways of Providence. Precisely that I might convict him did this address fall into my hands in Washington. It struck me forcibly at the time. Little did I think I should hear it in Richmond after a terrible civil war of our own.
"I feel impatient at this attempt to extort good for ourselves out of the overwhelming disaster which brought such ruin to others; to congratulate ourselves for what is purchased with their blood. Surely, if for no other reason, for the sake of the blood that has been spilt, we should not hasten to acquiesce in the present state of things. If I catch my Colonel piously affirming too much resignation, too prompt a forgetfulness of the past, I'll—well, he knows what I am capable of saying!
"But, now that I have safely boiled over, I will tell you my news. We cannot remain here. We are literally stripped to the 'primitive' state my reverend brother thinks 376 so good for us. We are wofully in need of 'silk, cotton, and something they call capital,' and we'll never get it here. And so my Colonel and I are going to New York. He has secured a place in some publishing house or other. I only wish it were a dry-goods store!
"Of course our social life is all over. I have taken my resolution. There are fine ladies in New York whom I used to entertain in Washington. Just so far as they approach me, will I approach them! A card for a card, a visit for a visit. But I imagine I shall not be recognized. I am content. There will be plenty to read in that publishing house. I shall not repine. All the setting, the entourage, of a lady is taken from me, but the lady herself has herself pretty well in hand, and is quite content if she may always be