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American Samson, Peter Francisco, requests us to write a memoir of him. We would do so with much pleasure had we the materials, which, we should think, could be found nowhere so well as among the members of his own family, one of whom is the gentleman himself who makes the request. We knew him, it is true, very well; but it was in the latter years of his life after he had become Sergeant-at-Arms. This was about the year 1827 or 1828, we think. At that time he retained much of his gigantic strength, and all his vivacity. He was extremely good-humored and kind-hearted, delighted in the society of young people, especially of boys, and was full of anecdotes. We do not recollect ever to have seen any old man enjoy life more heartily, or evince less disposition to quarrel with his lot. We have frequently seen him make exhibitions of his strength in a small way, for the amusement of the boys, with whom he was a prodigious favorite, but we never witnessed one of those marvellous displays, which it was well known he could make upon occasion. He was a man of uncommonly strong, though uncultivated mind, to appearance, at least, a very accurate judge of character, and possessed of a caustic humor to which he often gave vent in shrewd and original remarks about men and things around him. He died in the month of January or February, 1831, at the Columbian Hotel, where he boarded at the time. We recollect the day very well. It was one of the most dismal of a long succession of such. He was attended in his last illness, to the best of our recollection, by Bishop Moore, who also preached his funeral sermon. The services of Francisco in the revolutionary war were very great, beyond all doubt. Everybody concurs in that opinion. Yet, with regard to their specific character, we know not enough to place our hands upon them. They have been neglected, or substituted by traditions which have become so numerous as to obscure, if not obliterate, the truth of history. Surely some of his descendants must possess the means of straightening some, at least, of these difficulties. He, himself, once presented, either to the Legislature of Virginia, or to the Congress of the United States, a memorial, in which he asked remuneration for services rendered, and that memorial certainly contained a detail of some of his services. We say certainly, because we recollect having heard it read when we were a boy, long before we dreamed that we should ever be connected in any way whatever with a newspaper. A single statement in it, to the effect that General Gates broke down several horses (two or three,) in escaping from the rout of Camden, riveted it upon our memory. We are disposed to think he claimed compensation for a horse which he lost in that engagement, and the price of which had never been paid him. It was at Guildford, we believe, that he saved the life of Col. Mayo. In our boyhood, we recollect seeing an engraving, purporting to have been done by James Webster, in which he is represented as engaged in mortal combat with nine of Tarlton's cavalry, in full view of his whole legion, four hundred strong. The rencontre was said, in the inscription, to have occurred in the county of Amelia, and in the month of June, 1781. There is a mystery about this transaction which, no doubt, Francisco's relatives could clear up. Unquestionably, he was at the siege of Ninety-Six, in South Carolina, for we have heard anecdotes of him while there, and heard of anecdotes related by him with respect to the person from whom the anecdotes respecting himself came, which put it beyond dispute. Now, the siege of Ninety-Six commenced on the 23d of May, and was raised on the 19th of June. We are disposed to think that the date was wrongly stated in the inscription, or it may be that our memory is at fault. Nevertheless, we are under the impression that Francisco served with Gen. Greene throughout his campaign in South Carolina. The Legislature of this State once voted him a sword six feet long — at least we have seen such a sword, and have understood that it was a testimonial. Others say that was the weapon which he actually used in the battle of Camden, where he is represented to have performed prodigies of valor. We can well believe it, for what could withstand such a champion, armed with such a weapon, mounted upon a horse sufficiently powerful to carry his weight, utterly destitute of fear, and animated by the fury which a desperate combat is won't to stir up, in men even of less nerve than Francisco? All the Knights we ever read of, would be but the sport of his rage. He could have cut Orlando through the middle, and sliced the first Richard of England from the crown of his helmet to the seat of his saddle, as though they were made of ginger bread, or as easily as Don Quixote decapitated the puppets of Gines de Passamonte. Ariosto never sang of such a warrior, and Sir Walter Scott could not have found such an one in the whole array of Black Douglasses, from the "small grey man," with whom the line commenced, to him who was shut up in a convent, and thus was the last of it. Francisco was a fair match for any half dozen of them, leaving fire- arms out of the question. For many years subsequently to the revolutionary war, every county in the State was infested by professional bullies--men who made it a business to travel from court-house to court-house, with no other object than to engage in fisticuffs with any man that was renowned for personal prowess. The county of Buckingham has been said to have been particularly plagued with this description of persons. Francisco, whose renown as a man of unequalled personal strength had extended all over the State, was said to have been frequently annoyed by them. Being of an uncommonly peaceable disposition, he was at the same time so conscious of his enormous superiority, that he felt the same indisposition to engage in personal combat with any of his tormentors that a lion might, we suppose, feel to putting forth his strength against a fice dog. He usually tried every way to avoid them, but it is said he was not always successful. It may be doubted, indeed, whether he ever struck any man with his full force, for it is hardly possible that he should not have killed him had he done so.-- But he was compelled, sometimes, to get rid of his persecutor by a slight punch, or a fillip with his middle finger, or by taking him up, shaking him until he made the teeth rattle in his head, and holding him off at arm's length in his tremendous gripe, until he cried for quarter. The anecdote of his throwing a man who came to fight him over the palings, and his horse after him, has often been told. We know not whether the story was wholly true or true only in part; but true or false, it is very generally believed, and the very fact of the credit given to it, affords evidence of his prodigious strength. It is well known that he could prevent a pair of the strongest horses from moving a carriage on a dead level, by seizing the carriage behind and putting out his strength against them. An eye-witness told us be once saw him stoop over the railing of the porch which ran along the front of the old Court-House Tavern on Main street, seize a large horse by the tail, and lift his hind legs so high off the ground that he threatened to pitch his rider, a large and powerful man, over his head.--The animal struggled in vain in his grasp.--He bobbed him up and down as rapidly and as easily as an ordinary man can work a pump-handle. He has been known to upset a heavy ox cart with one hand, and in his old age, a gentleman, six feet high, told us he held him on his hand at arm's length, up to some cherries which were on a tree above his reach, and carried him in this way entirely around the tree, until he had eaten as many cherries as he wished. There are innumerable anecdotes, indeed, of his strength, all of which, probably, are either true or founded in truth. In concluding this article, we would say to the gentleman whose letter has prompted it, that we will render him any assistance we can in preparing a memoir of his ancestor. It is his part, however, to collect the materials.--They must be very abundant. There is hardly a doubt, we hope, that the Legislature will adopt some means to perpetuate the memory of his services. They have not done it heretofore, we suspect, because nobody has made the suggestion.
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