previous next

A Bacchanal of Beaufort.

The good news from the Naval Expedition has already, as to its more momentous details, been discussed and digested; but a distinguished person, deserving of historical fame, who figured, or rather who fell at Beaufort, will miss his immortality unless we amiably give him a hoist. When Capt. Ammon, with three gun-boats, visited Beaufort on the day after the action, “but a single white man was found in the village, and he was drunk.” Such is the laconism of the telegraph, than which nothing can be more teasing; for we are left utterly in the dark as to the name of this cool reveler, who refused to intermit his libations to the god of whisky, even in the sulphurous presence of the god of war. In a poem like Campbell's “Last man,” namelessness might be artfully [198] adopted to heighten the impression; but in matter-of-fact annals the hiatus is to be censured and deplored. If some gentleman of a curious turn had been intrusted with the dispatches, he would have told us the title of this tipsy chevalier, who when all else was lost, resorted to his bottle for consolation; and who was found with that glass weapon lying empty by his manly side. These vinous views of military duty are not novel, as the “cannikin-clink” in Othello sufficiently attests. And does not the old recruiting song say that
A soldier's life, if taken smooth and rough,

is, surely,
A very merry, hey down derry sort of life enough?

When care came with our cruisers, corn-whisky remained — not long, we fancy; but still long enough for a triumphant wooing of oblivion. Others might? run, but this brave man could not — it was not in his devoted legs to do it; others might be craven but he showed no lack of spirit; and while the fugitives left him to his fate, he slumbered as sweetly as ever Anacreon did upon the thymy ground of Teos, and was perfectly comfortable though twice a captive. This singular circumstance is to us suggestive.

Sir Paul Rycaut relates of a certain vizier — name given by Sir Paul, but by us forgotten — that after taking Candia he discarded his good Mohammedan temperance principles, and getting into a habit of intoxication, was soon so stupid of brain and so benumbed as to his senses, that his superiors reformed [199] him by a judicious application of the bow-string. Now we have never favored letting cotton out of the rebel ports; but would it not be politic so far to relax the vigilance of the blockade as to let the “cratur” in? If the rebels will but promise to drink them-and of that we need no assurance — why not let them. have all the strong waters they pant for? Why not send them brandy in bombs, and “old wheat” under a flag of truce? why not drop bottles of tipple into their camps from our balloons? Who does not see that we might have one of their Major-Generals in a mania à potu in a week! Then, of course, he would fancy himself to be Alexander the Great, and in his jollity he would kill some Col. Clitus, whose kinsman would kill the General, and his cousins, in turn, Clitus's cousins; and so with a merry go-rounder of murder, we should have half the commissioned officers of the Confederacy dead speedily. But this is digression. We must return to the cup-captured citizen of Beaufort.

We are apprehensive that Mr. Barnum has been a little rash in offering a reward of $1,000 for the catching and caging and delivery at his Broadway establishment of this “last man” at Beaufort. If the Great Showman was not in earnest, he should have remembered how easily this curiosity may be caught, and how soon a bold Gordon Cumming may make prize of such a lion in his liquor. It will be a pretty piece of business if some fair morning a van should arrive at the Museum door with the trenchant tippler of Beaufort inside! What would Barnum do? His [200] constructive genius may extemporize tanks for whales or a sufficient tub for the hippopotamus; but is he prepared to maintain a creature who will require puncheons upon puncheons of the choicest brands of the best Bourbon? The enterprise might prove ruinous. The clever manager might be obliged to raise his prices, and that we know would break his public heart. In three weeks he would be forced to offer a reward of something more than $1,000 to anybody daring enough to take the monster off his hands.

We are upon the eve of great events. Drinks, we notice, have advanced to fifteen cents each in New Orleans. What a famine price, or rather what a drouthy price they must be held at, then, in Richmond! What would be the moral effect if the rebel army were kept absolutely sober for a month? Would they advance to our lines with repentant tears in their eyes, and their demijohns, necks down and corks out, in their hands, crying for quarter and a modest quencher? We are afraid not. Madness would probably rule the hour; and if the despairing sinners came at all, it would be to run a desperate muck for our spirit-rations. Their advance would be as impetuous as the rush of a caravan to a desert-well. They would be dangerous, indeed; fighting not for glory, but for a glass of something comfortable. We might find their raging thirst too much for our best regiments as they came at us shouting “Liberty and liquor,” “Cocktails and the Confederacy” or some other ardent slogan.

As for the Beaufort brave, as he is now a prisoner, [201] we hope that he will be tenderly cared for. He will be valuable as an expert, should we be compelled to hold any courts-martial of a particular and not pleasant kind. He is entitled to soldierly courtesy, because he certainly did show a sort of courage, albeit of the Dutch variety. The solitary situation in which he was fund should plead for him. His noble faith in his Spirit-Friend, preserved while guns were booming and bombs careering, and the red eye of war was unusually fierce and wide-open, shows him to be, in his way, an uncommon man. Take him up tenderly, lift him with care!

November 22, 1861.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Beaufort, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (6)
Broadway (Virginia, United States) (1)
Bourbon (Indiana, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Clitus (2)
Barnum (2)
Paul Rycaut (1)
Gordon Cumming (1)
Campbell (1)
Anacreon (1)
Jupiter Ammon (1)
V. P. Alexander (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 22nd, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: