Chapter 4: life in Lexington.
The narrative of Major Jackson
's introduction into the military academy of the commonwealth of Virginia
, is naturally preceded by a relation of the few incidents of his residence at Fort Hamilton
His life here was uneventful, save in his spiritual progress.
The duties of the garrison fell lightly upon him; his rank as an officer of artillery entitled him to keep a horse, and thus indulge his passion for equestrian exercise; and the society of the post, enlivened by the presence of the superior officers' families, was attractive.
Best of all, his Christian friend and father, Colonel Taylor
, was residing near him, and continued to extend to him his pious advice.
To him he ever after looked up, as one of the chief instruments of God in bringing him to a saving knowledge of the truth.
Another spiritual guide now presented himself, in the chaplain of the garrison, the Rev. Mr. Parks
This gifted man was also an alumnus
of the military academy at West Point
, and a distinguished scholar.
His religious zeal had led him to forsake the life of a soldier for that of a minister of the gospel in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In this communion he rose to distinction as a pulpit orator, and professor in their college, Randolph Macon
, in Virginia
But his ecclesiastical views having undergone a change, he took orders in the Episcopal Church; and, as a clergyman of that communion, had, at one time, a post
at West Point
, and, at another, at Fort Hamilton
His ardent nature found much that was congenial in Jackson
's. Under his ministry, the latter arrived at a comfortable hope of salvation, insomuch that he felt it his duty and privilege to apply for baptism, which he had never received.
His conscientious inquiries into the claims of the different denominations of Christians were still continued, without, however, bringing him to any final conclusion.
Popery he had examined, and rejected as anti-scriptural.
Episcopacy he admitted to be an evangelical system; but some of its features he was unwilling to accept as of scriptural authority.
This state of mind he explicitly avowed in asking for baptism at her door, stating that he should consider himself, if he obtained that privilege, not a member of the Episcopal
denomination, but of the catholic body of Christ
; and that, if ever his conscience and judgment were satisfied as to the most scriptural form of the Church
, he should feel himself perfectly free to join it, whether it should be that or some other.
But as his separation from civil life, and the society of other Christians, deprived him of the means of comparing and judging at that time, he felt that it was his duty, meanwhile, to assume, in the appointed rite, the name and service of the Redeemer, who, he hoped, had saved him. On this understanding, the Rev. Mr. Parks
baptized him, and admitted him to his first communion.
After a residence of about two years at Fort Hamilton
, Major Jackson
was transferred to Fort Meade
, near Tampa Bay
, on the west coast of Florida
It is probable that the feebleness of his health, by no means invigorated by the fatigues and exposures of Mexico
, was one motive of this change of residence.
His abode at this post seems to have been as uneventful as it was short, for he rarely made any allusion to it. On the 27th of March, 1851, he was elected Professor
and Experimental Philosophy and Artillery Tactics in the Military Academy of Virginia
This school, founded about twelve years before, upon the model of the one at West Point
, had grown nearly to the distinction of its prototype, and was now attended by several hundred young men from Virginia
and other Southern States.
It is placed near the village of Lexington
, in the county of Rockbridge
, one of the most fertile and picturesque districts in the great valley of Virginia
Its castellated buildings, grandly situated on a commanding yet grassy eminence, overlook the country for many miles, and, on the east, confront the Blue Ridge Mountains
, which form the boundary of the district on that side.
The salubrity of the climate, and the intelligence of the society, graced also by the faculty of Washington College, have always made Lexington
an attractive residence.
The prosperity and growth of the Military Institute calling for another instructor in this department, the eyes of its governors were directed to Major Jackson
, by his high character, scholarship, and brilliant career in Mexico
Other names were submitted by the Faculty of West Point
, among which may be mentioned those of General George B. McClellan
, General Reno
, and General Rosecranz
of the present Federal armies, and the distinguished General G. W. Smith
of the Confederate army.
But the high testimonials given to Major Jackson
, and his birth as a Virginian, secured the preference of the visitors, who elected him by a unanimous vote.
The fortunate issue of their selection illustrates the wisdom of that rule so often violated by the people of the South
, to their own injury and reproach, to give the preference, in all appointments of trust, to citizens “to the manor born.”
The salary offered him was the modest sum of twelve hundred dollars, with commutation for quarters.
was no lover of garrison life, and accepted this
He afterwards explained to an intimate friend, that while campaigning was extremely congenial to his tastes, the life of a military post in times of peace was just as repulsive; that he perceived the officers of the army usually neglected self-improvement, and rusted, in trivial amusements, at these fortresses; and that, on the recurrence of a war, the man who had turned, with a good military reputation, into the pursuits of a semi-civilian, and who thus vigorously prosecuted his mental improvement, might expect even more promotion in the army than those who had remained in the dull tread-mill of the garrison.
But he declared that he knew war to be his true vocation, that his constant aim in life would ever be the career of the soldier, that he only accepted a scholastic occupation during peace, and that he was mainly induced to this by the military character of the school, and by the opportunities which, as professor of the art of the artillerist, he would enjoy of continuing his practical acquaintance with his chosen calling.
He therefore repaired to the Military Institute in July, 1851; and in this honorable retirement spent nearly ten yea's.
The department of instruction committed to him, embraced the theory and practice of gunnery, and the sciences of mechanics, optics, and astronomy.
These were taught in part by experiment, and in part by the application of mathematical analysis.
To determine the theories of light and of motion, and the doctrines of astronomy, he employed the most abstruse and refined applications of geometry, and of the calculus of fluxions.
The cadet was introduced from the simpler studies of pure mathematics to this arduous course, and, consequently, it was generally feared and disliked by him. Indeed, it may well be questioned, whether the minds of most youths have sufficient maturity, at the age when they usually complete their second
year in the military school, to grapple with these discussions successfully.
The major part of the classes were, probably, overcome by the demands made upon their powers of abstraction and logic, and floundered along, in the rear of their instructor, catching only occasional glimpses of the recondite truth.
had never been a teacher, nor had the bustle of the life into which he plunged, at his first step from West Point
, left him much opportunity to review these abstruse studies.
When asked by a friend (after his success had long been assured) whether he had not been diffident of himself in undertaking so untried and arduous a course of instruction, he replied, “No; he expected to be able to study sufficiently in advance of his class; for one could always do what he willed to accomplish
His career as a professor was respectable, but never popular.
None doubted the strength of his mind, nor his thorough scholarship, nor his conscientious industry, nor his justice and impartiality.
But, while all his better students were accustomed to assert his thorough competency, discontent with his labors was not infrequent, both among his pupils and the alumni
of the school.
To all the better intellects of his class he communicated accurate scholarship, and the thoroughness of his mental drill was most useful.
But the laggards lagged very far in the rear, and he was unsuccessful in bringing them up. This resulted, as has been already intimated, in part from the difficult nature of his department; but in part also from the constitution of Jackson
He lacked some of the peculiar tact of the eminent teacher; and this was precisely because of the greatness of his endowments as a soldier and commander.
The perceptions of his mind were so vigorous and distinct, and seized so exclusively on the main points of consideration, that all conclusions were with him perfectly defined.
there was, to him, but one formula of words which gave an exact expression to his thought.
If one complained that his comprehension was imperfect, and asked for another statement, Jackson
had no answer to make save to repeat his first formula.
Now, to the leader, whose function it is to give orders to be obeyed, this trait is invaluable.
In the teacher, whose work is to assist the comprehension of weaker minds, it is a defect.
The very force and clearness with which Jackson
's mind moved along from its premises to its conclusions, made it improbable that it would travel any second path, less plain than the one first perceived by his strong intuition.
Hence, he lacked versatility and powers of elucidation.
His intolerance of laziness, also, concurred to make the youth of defective comprehension dissatisfied with his teachings.
But in the art of examining, one most essential to the efficiency of the teacher, he was eminent.
His questions were always fair, always well chosen to eviscerate the subject, and always put in words carefully selected-words absolutely perspicuous, and true to the thought he aimed to propound, without the use of one superfluous phrase.
If the pupil said he did not comprehend the point of the inquiry, Jackson
was sure to repeat precisely the same words, with yet more deliberation.
He held that when the form of the question was already perspicuous, an inability to comprehend it was, in fact, evidence of an inability to answer it. It may easily be conceived that this method was not likely to be peculiarly pleasing to an indolent youth, who, coming half prepared to his recitation, desired to extract a hint to assist his own ignorance, in the shape of a “leading question” from the teacher.
Another cause which detracted from Jackson
's success as a teacher of the natural sciences, was the lack of practical skill in performing physical experiments.
As has been remarked, he
was not gifted with much of the minute manual dexterity which goes to the making of a skilful artisan or musician; nor had his mind that “mechanical turn” which Sir Walter Scott
declared to be, in his opinion, the usual index of a little trumpery understanding.
His experiments were not brilliant, and sometimes they resulted in ludicrous blunders, at which he laughed as heartily as any of the lads of his class.
One of the most painful consequences of his ill health was a weakness of the eyes, which rendered reading by any artificial light injurious, and threatened total blindness.
This infirmity was not usually revealed by any visible inflammation, but rather affected the nerves of vision.
He made it a conscientious duty, as well as found it a necessity, to forego all reading after nightfall, except the short portion of the Scriptures with which he invariably closed the day. But as the hours of daylight were necessarily much occupied with the duties of the class-room, the drill, and the Faculty, this deprivation of.the quiet hours of night, which most scholars find so precious, was a serious difficulty, and imposed on him a peculiar method of study.
During that part of the day which remained after his morning recitation, he carefully read over the text of the subjects which he wished to study for the next day, fixing the outlines of the discussion in his retentive memory.
After devoting the remainder of his afternoon to domestic or social duties, he took his frugal supper, and proceeded to complete the studies of the morning without lamp, book or diagram, either pacing the floor of his chamber, or quietly seated with his face to the wall.
In this mental review, he passed over every link of the logic of the discussion, completed its method in his own mind, and assured his perfect recollection of it, so as to be prepared to teach it on the morrow.
This study completed in one or two hours, he pleasantly wheeled his chair towards the fire, removed the
injunction which he laid, at beginning, against addressing conversation to him, and passed into whatever topic engaged the attention of his family.
His instructions in the class-room were accordingly conducted without ever referring to books, although very closely conformed to them.
Not only was his recollection of their contents perfect, but even of the place upon the page where each proposition might be found.
Now, when his department of instruction is remembered, which involved the constant use of the most refined mathematical analysis, and discussion of figure, dimensions, motions, and relations of bodies in space, which most minds comprehend with difficulty, even by the aid of diagrams and models, the best scholar will best understand how astonishing was the exercise of memory, abstraction, imagination, and logical power in these studies.
Some may notice with incredulity the word imagination, included in this enumeration, and may rejoin, that Jackson
was notoriously unimaginative and prosaic.
If the name of this noble faculty, the imagination, be degraded, as it is popularly, to express the habitude of employing many tropes, either invented, or recollected and borrowed, in the expression of the thoughts, then it is conceded that he was not imaginative.
He was not prone to indulge his fancy; but, whether through incapacity, the reader will perhaps discover.
If, however, imagination is used in its proper sense, to express the creative power of the mind, the ability to reproduce in the chambers of the soul, and without the aid of sensation, the elements of conception, and to combine them, with a vivid distinctness, in new relations, then Jackson
had the faculty in great strength.
And, hence, it becomes true, that there is no better cultivation of this faculty, than in the distinct comprehension of the subjects of the applied mathematics, in their higher branches, by this purely mental study.
The great mathematician may not be accustomed
to bedizen his discourses with similes concerning purling brooks and silvery moonbeams; 1
but he can map out in conception the great circles of the heavens, equinoctial and ecliptic, with the orbits of the planets, and grasp the related movements of the worlds in his thought, as they wheel ih intricate, yet orderly labyrinths; a task under which the feeble mind of the poetaster collapses in hopeless confusion.
The former knows how to body forth, with the distinctness of actual vision, the combinations of all the elements of thought which the mind gathers, in her illimitable excursions beyond the regions explored by the senses.
He can so produce, before his thought, things that are not seen, and things that shall be, with the palpable reality of things that are seen, and of things that are, as to awaken by them all the strong emotions of the soul, which in natures less noble wait upon the actual information of sensation.
And this is most essentially that faculty of the intellect which raises man from the sensuous animal toward the all-knowing Spirit, in whose image he is made.
This is the faculty which, in the great statesman and commander, groups the data for the inspection of the profound judgment, which enables him for the clear comprehension of vast and multiplex affairs, and which ministers to his soul the stimulus of grand resolves.
One can now comprehend how valuable was the training which Jackson
's mind received, in these meditations without book upon abstract truths, for his work as a soldier.
Command over his attention was formed into a habit which no tempest of confusion could disturb.
His power of abstraction became unrivalled.
His imagination was trained and invigorated, until it became competent for grouping the most extensive and complex considerations.
The power of his mind to endure its own tension,
in the labors of reflection and volition, was drilled like the strength of the athlete.
His self-concentration became unsurpassed.
Having fixed upon his mind the positions of his forces and of the enemy's, and the relations of the routes, rivers, mountains and fortresses, by the inspection of a map; he could study all the possible combinations of movements as he rode, rapt in thought, at the head of his columns, with as much maturity as though alone in his chamber.
Hence, in part, it resulted, that while no commander gave more scope to his own versatility and resource in the progress of events, there was never one whose foresight was more complete.
Nothing emerged which had not been considered before in his mind; no possibility was overlooked; he was never surprised.
's life at the military school in Lexington
was regular, and marked by few incidents.
It was, however, the season when his personal character received its shape.
It therefore appears a suitable place in this narrative, to proceed with its delineation, illustrating it by the few events of the period.
He was, without doubt, of a nature intensely ambitious and aspiring.
The depression of his poverty and orphanage, in his youth, had only stimulated this passion in him. The evidences of its existence have been already given, in his zeal for military distinction during the Mexican War
, and for scholarship at West Point
, as well as in his ulterior purposes of life.
To his intimate friend he once remarked, that the officer should always make the attainment of rank supreme, within honorable bounds, over every other consideration.
Some sacrificed advancement to convenience, to secure service in a post where residence was pleasant, or to evade the authority of a harsh or unpopular superior; but his rule had been to secure promotion, if possible, at the cost of all such considerations; because, with the advancement in rank, the chances for distinction must usually
But his love of truth and rectitude was too strong and instinctive to permit his thirsting for any other than deserved distinction.
He drew broadly the mark between notoriety and true fame.
His passion deserved, as nearly as any man's could, the poets description as--
The last infirmity of noble minds.
Yet it was, as he himself avowed, an infirmity; that is to say, it was unquestionably an unsanctified principle, and inconsistent with Christian holiness — as it is in the breasts of all natural men. His Christian character was then in its germ, and the spirit of the military profession in which he had long been immersed, far away from all churches and their influences, blinded him to the nature of his aspirations.
Very soon, he listened to no other than a sanctified ambition.
In June, 1854, the Visitors of the University of Virginia held an election for Professor
of Mathematics, to succeed Mr. Courtenay
, himself an alumnus
of West Point
, who had long filled that place usefully and respectably.
This University was the first in America
, in the thoroughness of its instructions, and the dignities and emoluments of its professors.
presented himself as a candidate, and procured many testimonials in support of his claims from persons of distinction, in which they concurred in ascribing to him competent scholarship, while they dwelt on his energy, devotion to duty, and courage.
Among these were many teachers of the West-Point Academy, and Lieut.-Col. Robert E. Lee
, then its Superintendent.
mentioned his project to his friend, he said to him: “Have you not departed here from what you told me, upon coming to this military school, was the purpose of your life?”
[He referred to the declaration that war was his proper vocation.] Jackson
, who seemed never to forget his own most casual remarks, or to overlook the obligation
to maintain consistency with what he had once said, replied, “I avow that my views have changed.”
He then proceeded to explain, that while he should ever retain the same conviction concerning his own adaptation to the soldier's life, his convictions concerning war as a pathway to distinction were greatly modified; and that he would now by no means accept a commission in any war which the United States
might wage, irrespective of its morality.
He had never, he said, while an ungodly man, been inclined to tempt Providence
by going in advance of his duty; he had never seen the day when he would have been likely to volunteer
for a forlorn hope, although indifferent to the danger of a service to which he was legitimately ordered
. But now, that he was endeavoring to live the life of faith, he would engage in no task in which he did not believe he should enjoy the Divine approbation; because, with this, he should feel perfectly secure under the disposal of Divine Providence; without it, he would have no right to be courageous.
If, then, his country were assailed in such a way as to justify an appeal to defensive war in God's sight, he should desire to return to military life; but unless this happened, he should continue a simple citizen.
But as such he regarded it as every man's duty to seek the highest cultivation of his powers, and the widest sphere of activity within his reach; and therefore he desired to be transferred to the State University.
In this desire, however, he was disappointed; another gentleman was elected, and he acquiesced with perfect cheerfulness.
In politics, Jackson
was always a Democrat.
This term, in Virginia
, always had reference more to the principles of Federal polity, the assertion of the sovereignty and reserved rights of the States, and the strict limitation of those of the Central Government
, with the advocacy of a simple and unambitious exercise of its delegated powers, which were inculcated by Mr.
, than to a government for the individual States, strictly popular, and founded on universal suffrage.
To the latter, the most of the Virginian
statesmen of the States' Rights school were no friends; and the State-constitution of South Carolina
, the most thoroughly democratic of all the States as to Federal politics, is the farthest removed from literal democracy.
But it is probable that Jackson
would have accepted the name of a Democrat in more of its literality than the statesmen we have described.
In Federal politics he was certainly a strict constructionist of the straitest sect.
He voted with his party uniformly.
To political discussions, in conversation, he was not given; and, while exceedingly exact in maintaining candor, he would usually content himself, when assailed by a political opponent, with a firm and polite declaration that he could not concur in his opinions, relapsing then into a silence from which no pertinacity could tempt him. With one or two intimates he conversed on public measures freely and with animation.
And they always found his thoughts original and profound.
He read little of the political journals; had there been no other reason for his disregard of them, his conscientious belief that it was his duty to employ his feeble eyesight in more important things, would have prevented him. His political opinions were, therefore, very far from being the echo of other men's. He approached each subject from his own point of view, and this was usually found to be as conclusive as it was original.
Unaffected modesty was imprinted upon his countenance, and every trait of his manners.
No man ever lived who was further removed from egotism.
Even his most intimate friend never heard him mention his own brilliant military career, of his own accord; nor did he ever speak of his family or kindred, many of whom, by their talents and social position, might have afforded topics for a boastful man. Yet his self-reliance was strong; as was
proved by his favorite maxim.
Mentioning to a friend, one day the omission in his academic education at West Point
, which left him ignorant of Latin, he added: “But I think it probable that I shall some day repair this, and become as familiar with that language as with the Spanish
His friend replied, that perhaps he might acquire a partial knowledge of it by great effort; but it was generally held, that one who had not imprinted the forms of the language on the plastic memory in childhood, could never repair that loss, so as to become a familiar master of the tongue.
He answered, “No; if I attempt it, I shall become a master of the language; I can accomplish whatever I will to do.”
When he was a candidate for the Chair of Mathematics in the University of Virginia, one of his few intimates suggested a fear that he had mistaken his own capacities, in seeking that place; because the method of teaching there was so largely by lecture; whereas his method was by the use of text-books; and he must be aware that he had little facility in extempore discourse.
He acknowledged that he well knew that fact, and never dreamed of becoming eloquent; but, said he, “by effort I shall succeed as a lecturer, for I can accomplish anything I will to perform.”
It may be added, that there is no instance known in which he failed of realizing his boast.
The strength of his will was shown in his unfailing punctuality, in the vigor of his self-discipline — both bodily and mental, and in the energy of his actions.
Among other improvements of his powers, he determined that he would acquire the art of speaking in public.
To this end he became a member of the “Franklin society,” a respectable literary association in Lexing ton endowed with a handsome hall and library — where the gentlemen of the town and of its scholastic institutions met for forensic debates, and other intellectual exercises.
Here he was always a punctual attendant, and always spoke in his turn.
first essays were as painful to his audience as they probably were to himself; confused, halting, and frequently ending in an abrupt silence, when the power of controlling his thoughts for the time deserted him. Thus arrested by his own embarrassment, he would sit down, nowise abashed; and so powerful was the impress of his modesty and manly purpose upon his fellowmembers, that none were ever seen to smile at these failures, although sometimes repeated a second and a third time, in the same evening.
At a suitable moment he would rise again, and renew his effort, perhaps to end it with a similar painful halt.
But before the close of the debate he would succeed in expressing the substance of what he had in his mind.
By this dogged resolution, he gradually learned to control his diffidence, and became an effective speaker.
His manner was rapid and emphatic, his thoughts marked by great directness, and his discourse began and ended with exceedingly little of exordium and peroration.
So complete was his success, that he was said to have made, in a popular assemblage of his neighborhood, one of the most effective speeches ever heard.
It was but ten minutes long; but it produced unanimity in an assembly before divided.
He might have said, like the patriarch of Uz, “Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel: after my words, they spake not again.”
During nearly his whole life in Lexington
was a valetudinarian, and his regimen of body contributed no little to his character for singularity.
He was ever scrupulously neat, and having, in one of his vacations, visited a hydropathic establishment in New England
with supposed benefit, he became afterwards a still greater votary of cold water.
He seems to have studied physiology and the laws of health in the same conscientious and business-like manner in which he performed all his tasks, and to have formed his own conclusions as to diet from
observing his own sensations.
When these results were reached, he followed them out with an absolute self-denial, and without a particle of regard to their singularity.
Yet, unlike most invalids, he was as catholic towards others as he was strict to himself; and, allowing each person to be a law unto himself, never denounced their indulgences as excesses, because they would have been such if committed by him. Some of his self-denying customs appeared very odd to those around him; but their defence may be found in the fact, that this temperance repaired an enfeebled constitution, and made it capable of great endurance.
The most learned physiologists now admit, that the surd antipathies and appetencies of the corporeal tastes are often the most profoundly accurate indications of the wants of the system.
Thus, when Jackson
for a season refused the least trace of anything saccharine in his food, his conduct was probably wiser than that of the observers who called him whimsical.
It is noteworthy that, at all times, he preferred the simplest food, and that he lived absolutely without any stimulant; using neither tea, coffee, tobacco, nor wine.
This abstinence, however, was from principle, not from insensibility.
Thus, reconnoitering the enemy's front on an occasion, in the winter of 1862, when prudence forbade the use of fire, he became so chilled, that his medical attendant, in real alarm for his safety, urged him to take some stimulant.
There was nothing at hand except ardent spirits, and so he consented to take some.
As he experienced a difficulty in swallowing it, and it seemed to produce the sensation of choking, his friend asked if it was very unpleasant.
“No,” said he; “no, I like it; I always did; and that is the reason I never use it
At another time he took a long and exhausting walk with a brother officer, who was also a temperate and God-fearing man. The walk terminating at his quarters, he proposed to General Jackson
, in consequence of their fatigue,
to join him in a glass of brandy and water: “No,” said he; “I am much obliged, but I never use it; I am more afraid of it than of Federal bullets.”
What a rebuke is here to that vain conceit and pride of character, which resents the friendly caution, and the call to watchfulness as disparaging to one's strength.
This mighty man of God acknowledged that he was afraid of temptation.
“When he was weak, then was I strong.”
How many a young man would have escaped the drunkard's grave if he had acted on this manly philosophy!
always professed his ability to exert an absolute control over his appetites; and declared that he could feel little sympathy with suffering in others, which was caused by selfindulgence.
When the people about him complained of headaches, or other consequences of imprudence, he would say: “Do as I do; govern yourself absolutely, and you will not suffer.
My head never aches; if a thing disagrees with me, I never eat it.”
His hours were early and regular; and rare must be the social obligation which induced him to depart from them.
For in all these regulations, imposed on himself for the preservation of his health, he was accustomed to argue, that having determined any rule to be necessary, he was under a moral obligation to observe it. In vain did any friend plead that the one instance of relaxation in his system could not possibly work an appreciable injury.
His uniform answer was: “Perfectly true; but it would become a precedent for another, and thus my rule would be broken down, and health would be injured, which would be a sin.”
Thus he carried out his self-denial in the use of his eyesight so rigidly, that even a letter received on Saturday night, if it was only one of compliment or friendship, was not read by him until Monday morning; for his Sabbaths were sacredly reserved from the smallest secular distractions.
friend exclaimed, “Surely, Major
, your eyes would not be injured by the reading of one letter now;” his answer was, “I suppose they would not; but if I read this letter to-night, which it is not truly necessary to do, I shall be tempted to read something else that interests me to-morrow night, and the next, so that my rule will be broken down.
Then my eye-sight will undoubtedly be injured.
But if I thus incapacitate myself, by acts not really necessary, for my duties to my employers and my pupils in the institute, I shall commit sin.”
And once, when his most intimate friend knew that he had received a letter of affection late on Saturday night, the question was asked, as they were walking to church on Sabbath morning, “Major
, surely you have read your letter?”
“Assuredly not,” said he. “Where is it?”
asked his friend.
“Here,” said he, tapping the pocket of his coat.
exclaimed his friend.
“Do you not know that your curiosity to learn its contents will distract your attention from divine worship, far more than if you had done with reading it?
Surely, in this case, to depart from your rule would be promotive of a true Sabbath observance, instead of injurious to it?”
“No,” answered he, quietly, “I shall make the most faithful effort I can to govern my thoughts, and guard them from unnecessary distraction; and as I do this from a sense of duty, I expect the divine blessing on it.”
Accordingly, he afterwards declared, that his soul was on that day unusually composed and devout, and his spiritual enjoyment of the public and private worship of the day peculiarly rich.
Under a similar sense of moral responsibility, he acquitted himself punctually of all social obligations.
When a single man, he went into society as frequently as other young men of regular habits, saying that he was constrained to do so by a sense of justice and humanity; for when an acquaintance took the trouble to prepare an entertainment, and honored him with
an invitation, to attend, where no duty interposed, was the only equitable return due for the kindness.
In such assemblages he was never entirely at ease; but it may be said with truth, that there, as everywhere, his courtesy was perfect.
No attention due to the host and hostess was ever omitted; no salutation ever failed to meet the most polite return; the very slightest favor never went without thanks.
No female ever came short of her fair share of the attentions of the other sex, that he did not at once relinquish his own preferences, and devote himself to her entertainment.
But when his early hour of retirement came, no allurements could detain him; and sometimes the ingenious plans laid by fair enemies to keep him, which he was too courteous to break through, placed him for a moment in amusing embarrassment.
One of his most rigid rules was, never to eat a morsel after his frugal supper.
Hence, in the refreshments offered at a later hour, he refused to have any part, to the distress of his hostesses.
Amidst the clatter of china and conversation, and the sparkle of wines and ices, the tall form of the Major
stood firm; polite, yet constrained; in the gay throng, but not of it. When a friend urged him at least to avoid the awkwardness of the position for himself and the hostess, by seem ing to participate, his answer was that he did not consider it truthful to seem to do what he was not really doing.
Indeed, his care not to transgress the strict truth seemed to others excessive.
He never talked at random, even in the most unguarded moment, or on the most trivial subject.
All his statements were well-considered.
On rare occasions something might have escaped him which he regarded as an exception; and then, it mattered not how unessential the subject of it might be, and how impossible it might appear that any actual evil could emerge out of his mistake, he made it a part of the serious business of the next day to give a full explanation.
His person was tall, erect, and muscular, with the large hands and feet characteristic of all his race.
His bearing was peculiarly English
; and therefore, in the somewhat free society of America, was regarded as constrained.
Every movement was quick and decisive; his articulation was not rapid, but distinct and emphatic, and, accompanied by that laconic and perspicuous phrase to which it was so well adapted, it often made the impression of curtness.
He practised a military exactness in all the courtesies of good society.
Different opinions existed as to his comeliness, because it varied so much with the condition of his health and animal spirits.
His brow was exceedingly fair and expansive; his eyes were blue, large, and expressive, reposing usually in placid calm, but able none the less to flash lightning.
His nose was Roman
, and exceedingly well chiselled; his cheeks ruddy and sunburnt; his mouth firm and full of meaning; and his chin covered with a beard of comely brown.
The remarkable characteristic of his face was the contrast between its sterner and its gentler moods.
As he accosted a friend, or dispensed the hospitalities of his own house, his serious, constrained look gave place to a smile, so sweet and sunny in its graciousness, that he was another man. But hearty laughter, especially, was a complete metamorphosis.
His blue eyes then danced, and his countenance rippled with a glee and abandon
This smile was indescribable to one who never saw it. Had there been a painter with genius subtile enough to fix upon his canvas, side by side, the spirit of the countenance with which he caught the sudden jest of a child romping on his knees, and that with which, in the crisis of battle, he gave his generals the sharp and strident command, “Sweep the field with the bayonet!”
he would have accomplished a miracle of art, which the spectator could scarcely credit as true to nature.
In walking, his step was long and rapid, and at once suggested the idea of the dismounted horseman.
It has been said that he was an awkward rider, but incorrectly.
A sufficient evidence of this is the fact that he was never thrown.
It is true that on the march, when involved in thought, he was heedless of the grace of his posture; but in action, or as he rode with bare head along his column, acknowledging the shouts which rent tlh skies, no figure could be nobler than his. His judgment of horses was excellent, and it was very rare that he was not well mounted.
Such was the man as he left the quiet walks of the Military Academy, in the spring of 1861, to begin a career which was to fill the world with his fame.
Most of those who were conversant with him were unconscious of his power.
A few intimates, indeed, were well aware of his capacity, and predicted for him an exalted destiny (for which they were usually held to be as singular as Jackson
himself); but, with the many, he passed for a sensible, odd man, of undoubted courage, energy, and goodness; competent to a respectable success in anything to which he might bend his determined will, but to nothing more.
Yet the cadets of his school gloried in his military prowess, of discussing which they were never weary; and the universal feeling among them was, that if ever they were called into actual service, he was the man whom they would prefer for their leader.
The incorrect estimate which the many formed of him can be readily explained.
was a man whom it was no easy matter to know; not because he sought to hide himself from scrutiny, nor because he was in the slightest degree covert in what he said or did, but because there was a breadth and depth of character about him, that would never be suspected by the superficial and bigoted.
He was pre-eminently modest, and inexpressibly opposed to self-display, and equally consider.
ate of the taste and character of those with whom he held intercourse.
He moulded his share of that intercourse accordingly.
His scrupulous and delicate politeness made it always his aim to render others easy and comfortable in his presence.
His first thought on meeting with them seemed to be — what subjects of conversation would be most familiar to their thoughts, and most consonant to their feelings.
He never introduced a subject merely because it was one with which he was most at home, or on which he could best exhibit his talents, or parade his information.
With a clergyman or lady, he never introduced party politics or military science.
Having led the conversation, with polite deference to that topic upon which his guest seemed best fitted to shine, he became usually an attentive but almost silent listener, and made no disclosure of his own stores of knowledge, or of profound and original reflections on the same subject; although they were often far more complete than those of the person whom he thus accepted as an instructor.
And had not subsequent facts evinced his superiority, his acquaintance would have felt it almost incredible that one who was so well qualified to speak with confidence, should so entirely suppress the desire to speak.
Thus many a minister of the gospel has been led by him to speak on ethical, ecclesiastical, or theological subjects, and has carried away the impression that the modest soldier, although almost ignorant of the alphabets of those sciences, had at least the merit of an earnest appetite for the knowledge of them, when in truth Jackson
had read as much upon them as he had, and with more close attention, and posssessed more matured opinions concerning them.
The young person of literary tastes would be led to talk of the British
classics, or the great writers of romance, and would leave him with the belief that he was innocent of all classical reading, except the great masters of holy writ; for his honesty
was so strict, that if his knowledge of any author or literary fact were taken for granted, he would never rest in a tacit acquiescence, but would stop his interlocutor to undeceive him, by declaring his ignorance.
Yet, while his feeble eye-sight and conscientious improvement of time had forbidden a promiscuous course of literary reading, he had studied the most important poets and historians with far more thorough judgment and taste than he permitted his young friends to divine.
In the sphere which of right belonged to him, he rarely if ever asked advice.
No man knew his proper place better, or held it more tenaciously; and no man ever accorded this right to others more promptly or scrupulously.
As a member and officer of the Church
, he was eminently deferential to his pastor, as his superior officer.
But, as a commander in camp, he would no more defer to the judgment of that pastor, than to that of the humblest of his own soldiers.
being inordinately given to speech-making-an art which has acquired importance from their popular institutions — have set an overweening value upon eloquence as a test of ability; but Jackson
professed to be no talker.
He had no peculiar gift for teaching; yet teaching was, at Lexington
, his profession.
In finding a solution of the erroneous estimate of Jackson
to which we have referred, something is also to be attributed to the character of the little society in which he moved.
It was cultivated, but limited in extent; and, accordingly, it had its own closely-defined standard, by comparison with which every man was tried.
In a society more cosmopolitan, such characters as Jackson
are less apt to be misapprehended, because it consists not of one, but of many coteries, and because contact with diversified forms of talent and cultivation, gives breadth and tolerance to the views.
This is but saying, in substance, what the voice of Fame has since pronounced, that
the wider the arena on which he acted, the greater his capacity appeared.
But there were always a few, and they the most competent to understand a gifted nature, who declared Jackson
to be a man of mark.
To these chosen intimates he unbosomed himself, modestly, yet without reserve.
His views of public affairs were broad, and elevated far above the scope of the party journals which assumed to dictate public opinion.
His mind was one which would have made him a subtile and profound jurist.
The few who attributed to him this type of intellect, had their estimate fully sustained, by the manner in which he discussed those numerous questions of a judicial nature which claim the attention of the leader of great armies.
In the interpretation of orders and army regulations; in the settlement of rank between competing claimants; in the proceedings of courts-martial; in the discrimination between military and civil jurisdiction, which is often so difficult; his mind always approached the question from an original point of view, and rarely did it fail to be decisive to every attentive understanding.
But it was especially in the discussion of military affairs that the mastery of his genius appeared.
When these topics were introduced, his mind assumed its highest animation, he disclosed a knowledge which surprised his auditors, and his criticisms were profound.
One instance may be noted among many.
In the summer of 1856, he employed his long vacation in a European tour, in which he visited England
, and Switzerland
During this journey he carefully examined the field of Waterloo
, and traced out upon it the positions of the contending armies.
When he returned home, he said that although Napoleon
was the greatest of commanders, he had committed an error in selecting the Chateau of Hougomont as the vital point of attack upon the British
line, it should have been the village of Mont St. Jean.
This opinion has subsequently been corroborated by high authority in the military art.
But the most important feature of Jackson
's character was the religious; and this is the most appropriate topic for illustration at this place, because it was mainly developed at Lexington
His peculiar posture towards Christianity upon coming there, has been described.
He had been baptized, upon profession of his faith, by an Episcopal clergyman, but refused to be considered as committed to Episcopacy.
In this state of opinion ho had been admitted, at least once, to the communion of the Lord
While his religious knowledge was defective, and his Christian character consequently failed at that time in symmetry, it was sincere and honest, and, from the purity of his morals and his devotional habits, it was consistent.
Upon removing to Lexington
, where the Christian
people were divided among the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Wesleyan Methodists, and Baptists, he at first attended the public worship of all their churches indiscriminately, listening with exemplary respect and attention.
But after a time he discontinued this promiscuous worship.
The pastor of the Presbyterians was the Rev. William S. White, D. D.
, a venerable man, who speedily became so intimately related to the religious life and tenderest affections of the great soldier, that an allusion to his devout eloquence, genial heart, and apostolic piety, is unavoidable in this narrative.
sought an introduction to him in the autumn of 1851, and very soon paid him a confidential visit in his study, to lay before him his spiritual interests.
He told him the steps he had taken, and declared his hope of his acceptance with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
; but said that he had not then: been able to determine with what branch of the Church
to connect himself.
Popery he had examined under the most favorable auspices, and he had been constrained to reject it as
an apostasy from the system of Holy Writ.
Of Episcopacy he had learned something from his friends Colonel Taylor
and the Rev. Mr. Parks
, whose religious principles and feelings he, to a great extent, approved and embraced; but with some of the features of that system he was not satisfied.
He had given equal consideration to the claims and peculiarities of other branches of the Church
He now, for the first time, had a fair opportunity to observe the genius and working of Presbyterianism under its better auspices; and he found its worship congenial to his principles, and desired to know more of its character.
The result of his inquiries was, that on the 22d of November, 1851, he was received, by profession of his faith, as a member of that church.
His accession in that mode was an avowal that he came in, not as one transferred from some other denomination in the visible church to the Presbyterian
, but as a new recruit from the world without.
He did not, however, take this step until he had thoroughly studied the catechisms and Confession of Faith, which constitute the doctrinal standards of that church.
To some things embodied in these standards he strongly objected; and these objections he stated with the utmost clearness and frankness, not only to the pastor but to several intelligent laymen of the church.
His chief difficulty was found in the great truth of God's absolute sovereignty, in His purposes regarding the calling and government of His church.
His opinions, at that time, leaned strongly to the system known as Arminianism, nor were they immediately changed.
Being informed, however, that the Presbyterian Church expected uniformity of belief on these points, of none but its officers, and only exacted of its private members a profession of those vital doctrines of redemption, in which all Christians agree, he preferred to adopt it as his own. Many months after, in conversation
with an intimate friend, he disclosed so serious a difficulty in his views concerning the doctrines of God's decree and sovereign providence, that the latter concluded with the half-jocular remark,--“Major
, if you have these opinions, you had better become a Methodist.”
the intense honesty of his nature made him take seriously; and he answered, “If you think so, then come with me, and let us see Dr. White
They went to the pastor's study, and had a long interview, as candid as it was kind.
At the end of it the latter remarked, “Well, Major
, although your doctrinal theory is not in perfect accord with ours, yet in your practical life you are so good a Presbyterian, that I think you may safely remain where you are.”
In this conclusion he acquiesced; and it was not very long before all his difficulties gave way before his honest, persistent, and prayerful inquiries.
He became one of the firmest though least bigoted advocates of the Calvinistic as distinguished from the Arminian scheme.
In these proceedings, his candid and eclectic spirit was characteristic, and honorable to himself, as well as a valuable testimony to the denomination which he selected.
It would be hard to find a man reared in a Christian country, more uncommitted than he was, by education and association, to any sectarian preference.
His conscientiousness would not permit him to decide the matter as so many do, by the accidents of social relations, convenience, or taste.
He made his church connection the subject of deliberate comparison, serious study, and prayer; and what Christian can justify himself for acting in any other way?
It may be assumed, therefore, that Jackson
's conclusion was dispassionate, and that he believed it to be the result of the force of truth.
To make this remark in an aggressive party spirit against other denominations which Jackson
passed over, in selecting the Presbyterian
, would be most inconsistent with
his liberal and just temper towards them all; for he was as catholic in his heart as he was decided in his principle.
But to demand the suppression of this fact in his life would be yet more invidious on the other hand.
That would be an extravagant temper indeed which would impose, in narrating the truth, a reserve which left upon Jackson
's memory the implication that he was either not hone'st, or not intelligent in his ecclesiastical opinions.
It is hoped that Presbyterians will not be so foolish as to claim that all the good and great are of their communion, or to hold that its true honor depends upon man, however exalted he may be.
It may be safely declared, that, from the beginning, Jackson
's religious character was strictly sincere, and conscientious, above that of most Christians.
This was a trait to be expected from the operation of the Holy Spirit
upon a nature so decided in temper and clear in judgment as his. But his opinions concerning Christian duties were not wholly free from defect.
It would have been wonderful indeed if they had been perfectly correct, when he was reared with so little instruction, and when his manhood had been moulded under the very peculiar moral influences of the military caste.
But his exactness in performing what he perceived to be his duty, was always the same; some things which he afterwards saw to be obligatory, he had at first failed to see in this light His aspirations for honorable fame were at first less chastened than became a saint.
His deliberately expressed feelings concerning the resenting of injuries, were inconsistent with those inculcated by the law of love, as understood by the best Christians.
While his conviction of the sacredness of the Sabbath was, from the beginning, unusually clear, his interpretation of the exceptions made for “works of necessity” differed somewhat from those current among evangelical Christians.
But never was the healthy
and cleansing influence of a right conscience over the under standing, more clearly displayed than in him. The head could not long remain misguided, when presided over by so guileless a heart.
He very soon attained the most firm and distinct perceptions of duty, which differed usually from those of the great body of God's best people, only in being more strict.
One of the most marked traits of his religious character then, was conscientiousness.
It ruled in every act and word; in things great, and things minute; in his social relations, and his most unrestrained remarks; in the regulation of his appetites; in his observance of the courtesies of life; in the disposition of his time and money.
Duty was with him the eVer present and supreme sentiment.
Such was his dread of its violation, that no sin appeared to him small; and the distinction between great and little obligations, which most Christians make the pretext for a certain remissness of conduct, seemed scarcely to have any place in his mind.
To him, all duties were great, however trivial the affairs about which they were concerned, in human judgment.
The prominent trait of his mind was the sentiment of reverence directed supremely to God, as the standard of perfection, the rightful source of all authority, and the embodiment of infinite greatness.
It was this sentiment, in its lower aspects, which constituted his remarkable spirit of subordination.
As God's nature and will were to him the standard of that which is right, and the fountain-head of obligation, so, whenever he found a fellow-creature clothed by the sanction of right, with legitimate authority over his conscience, he honored and obeyed him within his proper sphere, as a bearer of a delegated portion of the majesty of heaven; and his respect became a religious sentiment.
Hence as a soldier no man was so prompt and exact in his military obedience; as a citizen none cherished so sacred a reverence for law, and for the offices of its magistrates
As a Christian layman, he honored and obeyed the pastor who had care of souls; and, while there was no man so little priestridden, there was none who so punctually paid to the ministers of religion, the captains in God's sacramental host, however humble in person and talents, deference for their work's sake.
Instances of his conscientiousness have already been given, but many others may be added.
His convictions of the sin committed by the Government
of the United States
, in the unnecessary transmission of mails, and the consequent imposition of secular labor on the Sabbath day, upon a multitude of persons, were singularly strong.
His position was, that if no one would avail himself of these Sunday mails, save in cases of true and unavoidable necessity, the letters carried would be so few that the sinful custom would speedily be arrested, and the guilt and mischief prevented.
Hence, he argued, that as every man is bound to do whatever is practicable and lawful for him to do, to prevent the commission of sin, he who posted or received letters on the Sabbath day, or even sent a letter which would occupy that day in travelling, was responsible for a part of the guilt.
It was of no avail to reply to him, that this self-denial on the part of one Christian would not close a single post-office, nor arrest a single mail-coach in the whole country.
His answer was, that unless some Christians would begin singly to practise their exact duty, and thus set the proper example, the reform would never be begun; that his responsibility was to see to it that he, at least, was not particeps criminis
; and that whether others would co-operate, was their concern, not his. Hence, not only did he persistently refuse to visit the post-office on the Sabbath day, to leave or receive a letter, but he would not post a letter on Saturday or Friday which, in regular course of transmission, must be travelling on Sunday, except in cases of high necessity.
And believing, as he did, in the special
superintendence of Providence
over all affairs, and His favorable oversight of the concerns of those who live in His fear, he delighted to recount the fact, that God had always protected him and his affairs in this particular, so that he had never suffered any loss or real inconvenience by these self-imposed delays.
One instance he related with peculiar satisfaction.
It was, that proceeding on the Sabbath day to Divine worship with a Christian associate, his friend proposed to apply at the post-office for his letters, on the plea that there was probably a letter from a dear relative, whose health was in a most critical state, and might, for aught he knew, demand his immediate aid. But he dissuaded him by the argument, that the necessity for departing in this from the Sabbath rest was not known, but only suspected.
They went together to church, and enjoyed a peaceful day. On the morrow it was ascertained there was a letter to his friend, from his afflicted relative, announcing a most alarming state of disease; but there was also a later one, arrived that day, correcting all the grounds of distress, and stating that the health of the sufferer was restored.
“Now,” said Jackson
, “had my friend causelessly dishonored the Sabbath, he would have suffered a day of harrowing anxiety, which the next day's news would have shown utterly groundless; but God rewarded him for his obedience, by mercifully shielding him from this gratuitous suffering: He sent him the antidote along with the pain.”
He always acted on the principle that he was as really bound to report the condition of himself and his family to his pastor, as the latter was to minister to their spiritual wants.
In passing through several seasons of domestic sorrow, he called for his instructions and sympathy with equal delicacy and promptitude.
Again, he called one evening to say to Dr. White
, that in the sermon preached the preceding Sabbath, he had not been able to discover whether the discussion of a certain duty, was to be
regarded in the light of mere advice, or as authoritative.
If it was the former, he was not clear that he should regard the duty as obligatory on him; but if the latter, then whatever his personal preferences might be, he should feel bound to comply with it, inasmuch as he could not plead conscience against doing it. Thus his pastor was to him the spiritual officer, under whose “orders” he was, and whom he therefore felt bound to obey, in all his admissible commands, for the sake of the authority and discipline of the spiritual host.
He engaged one day, with a Christian friend, in a conversation on the Hebrews' system of religious oblations, and was much interested in the assertion that, while the tithe was no longer enjoined, by express precept, on God's people under the new dispensation, the usage of worshipping God with stated offerings of our substance was in no degree abrogated; and that the tenth was probably, in most cases, a suitable proportion to be self-imposed by Christians, for this voluntary thank-offering.
After much inquiry and friendly discussion, Jackson
closed the conversation.
The next day, on meeting his friend, he said that he had convinced him of a duty, not hitherto as fully understood as it should have been; and, with his usual courtesy, thanked him for the benefit thus conferred.
Thenceforward he scrupulously gave a tenth of his whole income to charitable uses (until he adopted a greatly enlarged ratio).
The Presbyterians and other evangelical churches in Virginia
, have long had the usage of meeting about the middle of the week in a social assemblage, under the superintendence of the pastor, for the especial purposes of concerted prayer and praise.
This custom has had the happiest effects, in promoting devotional habits, and fraternity and sympathy, among the Christian
was, of course, from the beginning, the most punctual of attendants on these meetings.
The prayers were
usually offered, under the pastor's direction, by the elders of the church, or other experienced Christians.
took occasion, in his Sabbath instructions, to enforce the advantages of these meetings, and said something of the duty of those who could appropriately lead the devotions of others, to render their aid in that way, overcoming, if necessary, false shame.
In the course of the week, Jackson
called to ask him if he thought him one of the persons to whom the latter exhortation was applicable.
He proceeded to say that he was unused to all forms of continuous public speaking; that his embarrassment was extreme, especially upon so sacred a topic, in expressing himself before a crowd; and that he had therefore doubted whether it was for edification for him to attempt the leading of others at the throne of grace.
Yet, he knew that, inasmuch as these concerts of prayer were of eminent utility, the general duty of participating in their exercises was indisputable, as to Christian heads of families, and other suitable persons.
“You,” he said, “are my pastor, and the spiritual guide of the church; and if you think it my duty, then I shall waive my reluctance, and make the effort to lead in prayer, however painful.”
He closed by authorizing him to call upon him for that service, if he thought proper.
And his diffidence in all this was so clearly unaffected, that no mortal could have mistaken it. After a time, the pastor called upon him to pray.
He obeyed, but with an embarrassment so great, that the service was almost as painful to his brethren as it obviously was to himself.
The invitation was not repeated for a number of weeks, when, meeting Dr. White
, he noted that fact, and indicated that he supposed the motive for sparing him was an unwillingness to inflict distress through his excessive diffidence.
The good minister could not but admit that he had thought it best not to exact so painful a duty of him, lest his comfort in the meeting
should be seriously marred.
“Yes,” said Jackson
, “but my comfort or discomfort is not the question; if it is my duty to lead my brethren in prayer, then I must persevere in it, until I learn to do it aright; and I wish you to discard all consideration for my feelings in the matter.”
He was again called on; he succeeded in curbing his agitation in a good degree; and, after a time, became as eminent for the gift, as he was for the grace of prayer.
Another instance of his courage in doing good was given soon after he connected himself with the Presbyterian Church.
Visiting his native country during a vacation, he perceived that infidel opinions were prevalent among many, and had infected several of his friends and relatives.
He was anxious to do something to remedy this evil, but knew not what was best.
He held private conversations with some, and gave tracts to others, but this only increased his anxiety to attempt something on a larger scale.
He accordingly determined to announce a brief course of public lectures on the evidences of Christianity, notwithstanding his diffidence and inexperience as a public speaker.
They were delivered in a church in the village of Beverley
, Randolph county
, where his only sister resided; and as he declared, his success greatly exceeded his expectations.
It may be supposed that curiosity to see the novel spectacle of the young soldier and professor discussing such a theme, attracted many.
But his argument was declared to be excellent, and his manner far from bad, by the most competent hearers.
Doubtless the impression of his evident modesty, sincerity, and courage, was more valuable than would have been the most learned discussion from a professed divine.
The interest aroused in his mind concerning the evidences of Christianity led him, on his return to Lexington
, to ask of Dr. White
leave to collect a class of young men for the study of this subject in
connexion with the Sabbath school.
This class he taught with his accustomed earnestness and fidelity, and several of them served under him as soldiers in the war.
He next proposed to gather the African slaves of the village in the afternoon of the Sabbath, and speedily he had a flourishing school of eighty or a hundred pupils, with twelve teachers; the latter of whom were recruited from among the educated ladies and gentlemen of the place.
This he continued to teach successfully from 1855 until the spring of 1861; when he reluctantly left it to enter the army.
And to the end of his life, he inquired of every visitor at the camp from his church at home, how his black Sabbath-school was progressing; and if the answer was favorable, he did not fail to express his gratitude.
But no other person could sustain it as efficiently as he did. His health required him to spend most of his vacations in journeys; and, upon setting out, he was accustomed to leave his school in the charge of some member of the church, for the time.
On his return, he usually found it dwindled from eighty to fifty scholars; but his efforts soon restored it to its wonted prosperity.
His method was to make the sessions extremely short, continuing from three P. M. to a quarter to four P. M. At a quarter to three the bell was rung, and precisely at three o'clock he began.
The exercises were first, singing and prayer, and then a brief, pointed, and perspicuous exposition of an assigned passage of the Scriptures, addressed by him to the whole school.
The several teachers then took charge of their classes, and devoted the rest of the session to teaching them orally the Shorter Catechism
, or some other suitable formula of truth.
The exercises ended with the singing of a hymn, previously committed to memory, by the whole school, and a short prayer.
Once a month he made a report of the punctuality and demeanor of each pupil, calling in person at the houses of their
masters for this purpose; and if any servant was frequently absent or inattentive, he was sure to inquire into the cause during the week.
character is ever dilatory.
In his native jungle, the negro has no conception whatever of the value of time; and in his civilized state, he retains too much of this weakness.
Hence, at all religious meetings which they frequent, they are usually found arriving at every moment, from the beginning to the very close.
speedily began to experience the samo annoyance, and the lack of punctuality was unhappily countenanced by some of his teachers.
He gave notice that the bell would ring the next Sabbath a quarter of an hour before the opening as usual, and that when the assigned moment arrived, he should lock the doors and proceed immediately to the duties of the school.
Accordingly, the next Sunday
, precisely at three o'clock, he locked the doors and commenced.
Knocks were unheeded; and when, at the conclusion, the doors were opened, there was found a group in the street, consisting of a number of servants and a few mortified-looking ladies and gentlemen, whom he saluted as he passed on his way with his customary politeness.
There was no more lack of punctuality.
While thus exacting in his discipline of the school, he was rendered extremely popular among all the more serious servants by these labors for their good.
He was indeed the black man's friend.
His prayers were so attractive to them, that a number of those living in his quarter of the town, petitioned to be admitted on Sabbath nights, along with his own servants, to his evening domestic worship.
Before making them an answer, he called on Dr. White
and stated their request to him, asking his sanction, and declaring that the assent of the masters of those servants must, of course, be also a necessary condition of his
The approbation of the pastor and the masters was gladly given.
To his own slaves, he was a methodical and exact, but conscientious master.
Absolute obedience was the rule of his household; and if he found chastisement was necessary to secure this, it was faithfully administered.
He required all his slaves to attend the domestic worship of his family morning and evening; and succeeded, where so many Christian masters have found entire success apparently impossible, in securing the presence of every one.
After his household was scattered by his absence in the camp, he found time — to write to those to whom his servants were hired, inquiring into their spiritual state, urging their employers to see that they attended church regularly, and giving minute directions for their welfare.
On hearing of the death of one of his female servants, he wrote expressing his gratitude for the attentions bestowed upon her in her illness and at her burial.
It may be accepted as a significant dispensation of Providence
, that Jackson
, the best type of the Christian
master in the South
, should be made the hero of this war for Southern independence.
The people of the Southern States
will cheerfully consent that this holy man, with his strong convictions of the righteousness and beneficence of their form of society, may stand forth to the world as their exemplar.
He had no pretensions to a righteousness more righteous than that of prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ
His understanding was too honest to profess belief in God's inspired Word, and yet hold that relation to be a sinful one, which Moses
expressly allowed and legislated for; which the Bible
saints sustained to their fellow-men; which the Redeemer left prominent and unrepealed amidst his churches, as well as in secular society; and which the apostles continued to sanction, by admitting those who held it, without any disclaimer,
or pledge of reformation or repentance, to church membership and church office.
His conscience was too sensitive to tolerate known sin, at any prompting of conscience or interest.
It will be a difficult problem for those who revile us, if they remember how gregarious vices are, and how surely even a sin of ignorance pollutes the soul and grieves the Holy Spirit
, to explain how this most decided of slaveholders came to be so eminent for sanctity, and so richly crowned with the noblest graces and joys which God ever conferred on man. Especially, let the happy condition which the benevolence of such masters confers on their servants, be contrasted with that degradation and ruin to which our enemies intentionally consign them.
Southern masters, with very few exceptions, provide generously for the welfare of their servants, at the prompting of affection, conscience, self-respect, and interest, while they exact only a moderate labor; and many of them, like Jackson
, strive conscientiously for their spiritual good.
Northern anti-slavery men, under the pretence to the negro of being his disinterested liberator, seduce him from his protector, and leave him, without provision for body or soul, either to perish in pestilential indolence, or to wear out his frame in the severest toils, in entrenchments or factories, under the compulsion not of stripes, but of a bayonet in the hands of a brutal foreign mercenary.
Not seldom does this hypocrisy find its candid and exact expression, in the conduct of the more shameless of our invaders; when the same men, after wheedling the servants with fine promises, pretended sympathies, and the terms “brother, sister
,” pass from their cabins to the master's dwelling, to insult him with the declaration that they despise the Africans as much as they hate him, and have no other purpose in seducing them from his service except to “humble his Virginian aristocracy.”
On the 26th of December, 1857, Major Jackson
mously elected a deacon of his church.
The reader will bear in mind that the Presbyterians, following what they believe to be the primitive institute of the Apostles, assign the care of souls to the order of Presbyters alone, of whom some rule only, and some also labor in word and doctrine; while the Deacon
's function is “to serve tables,” or, in other words, to collect and disburse the money and alms of the church, and to distribute to the destitute.
This humble office Jackson
promptly assumed at the call of his brethren, and fulfilled its duties with his accustomed fidelity.
He was the best deacon the church had. The system of that congregation concerning almsgiving was unusually complete.
Monthly, the deacons met for consultation, and the distribution of their labors.
Every two months, a collection was solicited from all the people for some charitable or pious use; and for this purpose, to each deacon was allotted a district, in which he visited personally every adult worshipper, or at least every householder, at his own home, explained the object to be furthered, and received the gifts of the benevolent.
At the monthly meetings, Jackson
was always present.
His idea of the duty was aptly expressed by his reply to a brother deacon, who excused his absence by saying that he had not time to attend.
“I see not,” said he, “how, at that hour, we can possibly lack time for this meeting, or can have time for anything else, seeing it is set apart for this business.”
His regularity in calling upon the pastor to relate the result of his diaconal labors, or, in his phrase, “to report,” was perfectly military.
Indeed his conception of the matter was, that he came to him, as his superior, for his orders.
At one collection the gifts were solicited for the American Bible Society, and Jackson
sallied forth, armed with the list of names for his district, furnished him by the clerk of the congregation.
When he came to the pastor to report, he had a number of additional names written in pencil-marks at the foot
of his list, with small sums opposite to them.
“What are these?”
asked the good Doctor
“Those at the top,” said Jackson
, “are your regulars, and those below are my militia.”
On examining the names, they were found to be those of the free blacks of the quarters, all of whom he had visited in their humble dwellings, and encouraged to give a pittance of their earnings to print Bibles.
He argued that these small sums were better spent thus than in drink or tobacco; that the giving of them would elevate their self-respect, and enhance their own interest in the Holy Book
; and that they being indebted to it as well as others, should be taught to help in diffusing it.
There was another trait of his religious character so conspicuous, that it demands here full illustration,--his constant recognition of a particular Providence
No man ever lived who seemed to have a more practical and living sense of this truth of Christianity.
He earned, indeed, thereby, the title of superstitious, from some of the unthinking, and of fatalist from others.
But he was neither: his belief in the control of Divine Providence was most rational and scriptural.
The only difference between him and other enlightened Christians here was, that his faith was “the substance of things anticipated, and the evidence of things not seen;” while theirs is, so largely, an impractical theory.
That doctrine is, that God's special providence is over all his creatures and all their actions, to uphold and govern them; and that it is over His children for their good only.
By that omniscient and almighty control all events are ordered, permitted, limited, and overruled.
There is no creature so great as to resist its power, none so minute as to evade its care.
But yet, by a mode which is perhaps beyond the cognizance of the human reason, it secures the action designed by God's intelligent purpose, from each created agent, in strict conformity with its nature and powers.
The Christian doctrine
does not reduce the universe into a pantheistic machine, with God for the sole power and only real cause of its every motion.
It teaches that the property which creatures have of acting as second causes is real, that their powers are actual powers, inherent in them, and not merely seeming; conferred, indeed, by God, as Creator, and regulated in each specific action by his perpetual superintendence; yet, when conferred, intrinsic and efficient in the created agents, whenever the suitable relations or conjunctions for their action have place.
And especially when those creature-agents are rational, voluntary spirits, does God by His providence order the rise of those free purposes in them, which his eternal plan includes, in strict conformity with their free agency.
The doctrine of Fate is, that all events, including the acts of free agents, are fixed by an immanent physical necessity in the series of causes and effects themselves; a necessity as blind and unreasoning as the tendency of the stone towards the earth, when unsupported from beneath; a necessity as much controlling the intelligence of God as of creatures; a necessity which admits of no modification of results through the agency of second causes, but renders them inoperative and passive as the mere stepping-stones in the inevitable progression.
The doctrine of Providence
teaches that the regular, natural agency of second causes is sustained, preserved, and regulated by the power and intelligence of God, and that, in and through that agency, every event is directed by His most wise and holy will, at once according to his plans and to the laws of nature which He has ordained.
Fatalism tends to apathy, to absolute inaction; a belief in the Providence
of the Scriptures, to intelligent and hopeful effort.
It does not overthrow, but rather establishes the agency of second causes; for it teaches that God's method and rule of effectuating events only through them (save in the case
of miracles), is as steadfast as His purpose to carry out His decree.
Hence this faith produces a combination of courageous serenity, with cheerful diligence in the use of means.
was as laborious as he was trustful, and laborious precisely because he was trustful.
Everything that preparation, care, forecast, and self-sacrificing toil could do to prepare and earn success he did. And therefore it was that God, without whom “the watchman waketh but in vain,” usually bestowed success.
His belief in the superintendence of God was equal to his industry.
In every blessing or calamity of private life, as well as in every order or despatch announcing a victory, he was prompt to ascribe the result to the Lord
of Hosts; and these brief devout ascriptions were with him no unmeaning formalities.
In the very flush of triumph he has been known to seize the juncture for the earnest inculcation of this truth upon the minds of his subordinates; and, in the anxieties of great and critical moments, his soul drew composure and assurance from it. Especially did he love to recognize the hand of God in the results of strategy and battles.
While thd most pains-taking of commanders, he well knew that in these great operations many things must be done beyond the oversight of the commander, each of which by the manner of its performance may absolutely determine the event.
Hence when the issue was according to his prayers, he recognized the presence of an Eye more comprehensive than that of any creature, and ascribed all wisdom, power, and glory to it.
His perpetual recurrence to this special providence was displayed in his prayers for the divine guidance of his own judgment.
It was well known that he was accustomed to seek this guidance not only in general terms, but most directly and particularly on specific occasions.
And the frequent answers which he seemed to receive to these prayers, suggested to the unreflecting the idea of his actual inspiration.
He would have modestly given an explanation less superstitious, and more scriptural.
Mind has its natural laws as well as matter, to be learned in the same way, by correct induction from our observations; and they are just as regular in their operation as those of the stars, the waters, or the vegetable world.
For instance, conception follows conception in our thinking, by certain laws of suggestion, which we ascertain and know, at least to a good degree.
By another law, the volition put forth upon a conception, in the act of spontaneous attention, tends to fix and brighten that conception before the mind, in preference to any other competing suggestion, just as regularly as sunlight promotes chemical action in matter.
Now, the very doctrine of Providence
is, that the God who conferred upon spiritual substances these laws and powers of causation, as their inherent properties, regulates their action in strict consistency with their nature, with a constant superintendence.
The mode may be inscrutable to us, even as all His workings in providence are; but the fact is taught by the Scriptures and experience, and the consistency of it with our own reasonable and voluntary nature, as is assured to us by our consciousness.
Now then, when God, in answer to prayer, leaving the mind to act strictly according to all its natural laws, yet gives such providential supervision to its functions, as to order that the judgment shall, of itself, come to a prosperous conclusion, why should men be more incredulous, or suppose a more supernatural interference, than when God answers the prayers of his people with “fruitful seasons, and rain from heaven,” through the regular course of those meteoric laws, which before brought drought and blight?
No devout reader of the Scriptures can refuse the conviction that Satan, as a personal agent, has some mode consistent with the laws of mind, by which he often modifies the suggestions which arise, and thus the free determinations of the judgment and will.
fact assists us to establish, and in part illustrates, the contrasted fact of God's providential concern in the thoughts and purposes of the children of men.
There was at least one influence which Jackson
's faith and habits of prayer in this matter exercised upon his judgment, which may be made intelligible to every virtuous mind.
It was the cause of an intense sincerity of motive.
He who goes before the Searcher of hearts with petitions for His light and guidance, can scarcely cherish there those corrupt and double purposes which he knows must be equally clear to His intelligence and hateful to His holiness
There is then, an obvious natural influence which makes the very act of prayer as “the euphrasy and rue” to purge the mental vision.
But faith teaches us that there is, moreover, a divine answer to prayer; and in what form is the Christian
's heart more familiar with this gracious power from above than in the purifying and chastening of its affections?
was made by God's Spirit the most disinterested of men, in all his efforts to judge and act aright in His service.
No collisions of guilty desire with conscience, no side-views of selfish ambition, no itchings of avarice, no sensuality, no cravings for notoriety, no weakness of moral cowardice remained to disturb or jostle the steady adjustments of his judgment.
The functions of his understanding were actuated by one supreme emotion, the sentiment of duty; a motive-power as pure as forcible, and hence they were almost perfectly correct and true, and at the same time full of intense vigor.
His “eye was single, and his whole body was full of light.”
This is the best explanation which can be given of that almost infallible judgment in practical affairs, which he never failed to display, whenever he felt it his duty to examine and decide.
And this refers his greatness primarily to his Christianity; a solution which Jackson
would have been himself most prompt to offer, if his modesty had permitted him to recognize greatness in himself.
Prayer implies a Providence.
For if God hath not a present means of influencing the course of natural events, it is a waste of breath to petition for His intervention.
Hence it will be anticipated, that he who was so clear in his recognition of Providence
was also eminently a man of prayer.
This was one of the most striking traits of Jackson
's religious character.
He prayed much, he had great faith in prayer, and took much delight in it. While his religion was the least obtrusive of all men's, no one could know him and fail to be impressed with the regularity of his habits of private devotion.
Morning and night he bent before God in secret prayer, and rare must be the exigency which could deprive him of this valued privilege.
There was in him an unusual combination of courage and modesty in this duty.
If the presence of others was unavoidable, it had no effect whatever, be they who they might, however great or profane, to cause him to neglect his secret orisons.
Yet, it is presumed, no one ever had the idea of ostentation suggested who witnessed one of the sacred scenes.
He was accustomed, during the active campaigns, to live in a common tent, like those of the soldiers.
Those who passed it at early dawn and at bed-time were likely to see the shadow of his kneeling form cast upon the canvas by the light of his candle; and the most careless soldier then trod lightly and held his breath with reverent awe. Those who were sceptical of the sincerity of other men's prayers, seemed to feel that, when Jackson
knelt, the heavens came down indeed into communion with earth.
This spirit of prayer was manifested by the change which it wrought in his whole manner.
Everywhere else his speech was decided and curt; at the throne of grace all was different; his enunciation was soft and deliberate, and his tones mellow and
His prayers were marked at once by profound reverence and filial confidence, and abounded much in ascriptions of praise and thanks, and the breathings of devout affections towards God.
Besides his punctual observance of his private and domestic devotions, and of the weekly meetings for social prayer, he was accustomed to select from time to time some one Christian
, with whom he held stated seasons of devotion, in order to avail himself of the promise, “that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
And his partners in these fellowships were selected, not so much for their social as for their spiritual attractions.
This narrative would be unjust to the truth, and to the memory of one of God's most honored servants, if it omitted the mention of the chief instrument for cultivating in him this spirit of prayer.
When Major Jackson
became a member of the congregation in Lexington
, there was among its presbyters a man of God, whose memory yet smells sweet and blossoms in the dust, John B. Lyle
He was a bachelor, of middle age, well connected, but of limited fortune, who devoted nearly the whole of his leisure to the spiritual interests of his charge.
He was constantly the friend of the afflicted, the restorer of the wayward, the counsellor of the doubting, a true shepherd of the sheep; and his inner Christian life was as elevated, as his outward was active.
To him Jackson
early learned to resort for counsel; for his spiritual state was not, at first, marked by that established comfort and assurance which shed such a sunshine over his latter years.
He confessed to Mr. Lyle
great spiritual anxieties, and seasons of darkness.
The good man taught him that connexion between hearty obedience and access to the throne of grace, which is declared by the Psalmist when he says: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord
will not hear me.”
It was largely due to
his guidance, that Jackson
attained to that thoroughness which marked all his subsequent Christian life.
Henceforward, like Joshua and Caleb, “he had another spirit with him, and followed the Lord
His pious counsellor taught him by his example, by his instructions, and by suitable reading which he placed in his hands, to cherish a high value of prayer, and to expect, according to the scriptural warrant, a certain answer to it.
This prayerfulness was a profound inward spirit yet more than it was an outward manifestation.
How he compelled his own diffidence to pray with others, under a sense of duty, has been described.
But he was never forward to assume the lead of others at the throne of grace, where his station did not obviously make it proper.
It has been said of him, that he was as often found leading his men in the prayer-meeting as in the field of battle; and those who knew not whereof they affirmed, have loved to represent him as a sort of Puritan Independent, of the school of Cromwell
, and Pride, assuming the functions of a preacher among his troops' No. Christian could possibly be further from all such intrusions, both in principle and in temper.
When called on by proper authority to lead his brethren in social prayer, he always obeyed.
But he loved best to mingle with his rough and hardy soldiers, in the worship of God, as a simple lay-worshipper; with them to sit in the seat of the learner, with them to sing, with them to kneel, and with them to gather around the Lord
He would not pronounce the blessing over the plain food of his own mess-table, if a clergyman, or even an older Christian than himself, were present to do it. His whole nature and convictions were penetrated by a reverence for all constituted authority, and for right order in Church and State; the license of Independency was at least as opposed to his tastes as the restrictions of Prelacy.
It was in the secret communings of his heart that this spirit of
prayer was most prevalent.
Devotion was the very breath of his soul.
Once only was he led to make a revelation of these constant aspirations, to a Christian associate peculiarly near to him; and his description of his intercourse with God was too beautiful and characteristic to be suppressed.
This friend expressed to him some embarrassment in comprehending literally the precept to “pray always,” and to “pray without ceasing,” and asked his help in construing it. He replied that obedience ought not to be impracticable for the child of God. “But how,” said the other, “can one be always praying?”
He answered, that if it might be permitted to him, without suspicion of religious display, he would explain by describing his own habits.
He then proceeded, with several parentheses, deprecating earnestly the charge of egotism, to say that, besides the stated daily seasons of secret and social prayer, he had long cultivated the habit of connecting the most trivial and customary acts of life with a silent prayer.
“When we take our meals,” said he, “there is the grace.
When I take a draught of water, I always pause, as my palate receives the refreshment, to lift up my heart to God in thanks and prayer for the water of life.
Whenever I drop a letter into the box at the post-office, I send a petition along with it, for God's blessing upon its mission and upon the person to whom it is sent.
When I break the seal of a letter just received, I stop to pray to God that He may prepare me for its contents, and make it a messenger of good.
When I go to my class-room, and await the arrangement of the cadets in their places, that is my time to intercede with God for them.
And so of every other familiar act of the day.”
“But,” said his friend, “do you not often forget these seasons, coming so frequently?”
“No,” said he, “I have made the practice habitual to me; and I can no more forget it, than forget to drink when I
He added that the usage had become as delightful to him as it was regular.
He had a higher and more unaffected sense of the value of the prayers of other Christians than of his own. To one who did not know how abhorrent all cant and pretence were to the sincerity and truthfulness of his nature, the frequent assertions of this feeling in his letters would almost appear as unmeaning verbiage.
He never seemed to let slip an opportunity to urge Christians to prayer, for the Church
and for their country.
Here are examples, which only express his habitual language and spirit.
Writing to a near Christian connexion, he says:--
My dear sister,--Do not forget to remember me in prayer.
To the prayers of God's people I look with more interest than to our military strength.
In answer to them, God has greatly blessed us thus far, and we may sanguinely expect him to continue to do so, if we and all His people but continue to do our duty.
He usually concluded his letters to his pastor during his campaigns, thus:--
And now, present me affectionately to all my friends and brethren, and say to them, the greatest kindness they can show me is to pray for me.
When he had completed the series of brilliant victories in the Valley of Virginia
, having utterly routed five Federal generals in quick succession, he entered upon a forced march of more than a hundred miles, to join the armies below Richmond
When about half of this march was completed, he stopped to rest his army during the Sabbath; and one use which he made of the respite was to write to his pastor upon two subjects.
One was the supply of chaplains for the army; and the other may be stated in his own words:--
I am afraid that our people are looking to the wrong source
for help, and ascribing our successes to those to whom they are not due. If we fail to trust in God, and to give Him all the glory, our cause is ruined.
Give to our friends at home due warning on this subject.
To another friend he wrote, Dec. 5, 1862 (eight days before the great battle of Fredericksburg
Whilst we were near Winchester, it pleased our ever-merciful Heavenly Father to visit my command with the rich outpouring of His Spirit.
There were probably more than one hundred inquiring the way of life in my old brigade.
It appears to me that we may look for growing piety and many conversions in the army; for it is the subject of prayer. If so many prayers were offered for the blessing of God upon any other organization, would we not expect the Answerer of prayer to hear the petitions, and send a blessing?
And again, January 1, 1863:--
My dear friend,--Your last letter came safe to hand, and I am much gratified to see that your prayer-meeting for the army is still continued.
Dr. White writes that in Lexington they continue to meet every Wednesday afternoon for the same purpose.
I have more confidence in such organizations than in military ones as the means of an early peace, though both are necessary.
In the autumn of 1861, after the first battle of Manassas
, his pastor, with another venerable minister, visited his brigade at his invitation, to preach to his soldiers, and to lodge in his quarters.
They arrived at nightfall, and found the Commander-in-Chief
on the spot, communicating in person some important orders.
merely paused to give them the most hurried salutation consistent with respect, and without a moment's dallying passed on to execute his duties.
After a length of time he returned, all the work of the evening completed, and
renewed his welcome with a beaming face, and warm abandon
of manner, heaping upon them affectionate attentions, and inquiring after all their households.
spent five days and nights with him, preaching daily.
In the General
's quarters, he found his morning and evening worship as regularly held as it had been at home.
modestly proposed to his pastor to lead in this worship, which he did until the last evening of his stay; when, to the usual request for prayers, he answered, “General, you have often prayed with and for me at, home, be so kind as to do so to-night.”
Without a word of objection, Jackson
took the sacred volume, and read and prayed.
“And never while life lasts,” said the pastor, “can I forget that prayer.
He thanked God for sending me to visit the army, and prayed that He would own and bless my ministrations, both to officers and privates, so that many souls might be saved.
He gave thanks for what it had pleased God to do for the church in Lexington
, ‘to which both of us belong,’ especially for the revivals He had mercifully granted to that church, and for the many preachers of the gospel sent forth from its membership.
He then prayed for the pastor, and every member of his family, for the ruling elders, the deacons, and the private members of the church, such as were at home, and especially such as then belonged to the army.
He then pleaded with such tenderness and fervor, that God would baptize the whole army with His Holy Spirit, that my own hard heart was melted into penitence, gratitude, and praise.
When we had risen from our knees, he stood before his camp fire, with that calm dignity of mien and tender expression of countenance for which he was so remarkable, and said, ‘ Doctor
, I would be glad to learn more fully than I have yet done, what your views are of the prayer of faith.’
A conversation then commenced, which was continued long after the hour of midnight, in which, it
is candidly confessed, the pastor received more instruction than he imparted.”
But perhaps the most impressive exhibition of his prayerful spirit was that which was sometimes witnessed on the field of battle.
More than once, as one of his favorite brigades was passing into action, he had been noticed sitting motionless upon his horse, with his right hand uplifted, while the war-worn column swept, instern silence, close by his side, into the storm of shot.
For a time, it seemed doubtful whether it was mere abstraction of thought, or a posture to relieve his fatigue.
But at length those who looked more narrowly were convinced by his closed eyes and moving lips, that he was wrestling in silent prayer for them!
His fervent soul doubtless swelled with the solemn thoughts of his own responsibility and his country's crisis, of the precious blood he was compelled to put in jeopardy, and the souls passing, perhaps unprepared, to their everlasting doom; and of the orphanage and widowhood which was about to ensue.
Recognizing the sovereignty of the Lord
of Hosts, he interceded for his veterans, that “the Almighty would cover them with his feathers, and that his truth might be their shield and buckler.”
The moral grandeur of this scene was akin to that when Moses
, upon the Mount of God, lifted up his hands while Israel prevailed against Amalek.
The Christian reader will easily comprehend that one so conscientious, and believing, and devout, was a happy man. He had, while in Lexington
, his domestic bereavements, and he felt them as every man of sensibility must; but the consolations of the gospel abounded in him at those seasons.
His habitual frame was a calm sunshine.
He was never desponding, and never frivolous.
It is manifest, that in all the later years of his religious life, his soul dwelt continually in the blessed assurance of his acceptance through the Redeemer; and this steady spiritual
joy purified and elevated all his earthly affections.
It is the testimony of his pastor, that he was the happiest man he ever knew.
The assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” was, to him, a living reality.
It robbed suffering of all its bitterness, and transmuted trials into blessings.
To his most intimate Christian associate, he was one day expressing his surprise that this class of promises did not yield to other Christians a more solid peace.
The suggestion arose in the mind of his friend hereupon to try the extent of his own faith, with the question, whether the trust in God's love, and purposes of mercy to his own soul, would be sufficient to confer on him abiding happiness under the privation of all earthly good.
He answered, “Yes; he was confident that he was reconciled and adopted through the work of Christ
; and that therefore, inasmuch as every event was disposed by omniscience guided.by redeeming love for him, seeming evils must be real blessings; and that it was not in the power of any earthly calamity to overthrow his happiness.”
His friend knew his anxious care of his health, and asked, “Suppose, Major
, that you should lose your health irreparably, do you think you could be happy then?”
He answered, “Yes; I should be happy still.”
His almost morbid fear of blindness was remembered, and the question was asked: “But suppose, in addition to chronic illness, you should incur the total loss of your eyesight; would not that be too much for you?”
He answered firmly, “No.”
His dislike of dependence was excessive; he was therefore asked once more: “Suppose that, in addition to ruined health, and total blindness, you should lose all your property, and be left thus, incapable of any useful occupation, a wreck, to linger on a sick-bed, dependent on the charities of those who had no tie to you, would not this be too much for your faith?”
He pondered a moment, and then answered in a
reverent tone: “If it were the will of God to place me there, He would enable me to lie there peacefully a hundred years.”
Such was the man, as he appeared to those who knew him best.
The attempt has been made to enable the reader to see his Christian character just as it manifested itself, without concealing, abating, or exaggerating any traits.
Some of these will be pronounced by many to be singular, and some, perhaps, little worthy of applause or imitation; for, among those who observed it for themselves, there were not a few who regarded his conscience about little things as over-scrupulous, if not morbid.
And some affected to regard him as a sincere, odd, weak man, to be admired for his honesty, but for little else.
Whether his particularity concerning what have been called “the minor morals,” was unreasonable, or whether it was but the rectitude which the Saviour inculcates, when He says, “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much,” may be left to each Christian to decide for himself, with the remark, that this strictness in little duties was attended with most noble fruits in the graver concerns of his life, and that God crowned this religious character, such as it was, with peculiar honor.
In view of these facts, it is hoped there will be many to join in the prayer, that, if Jackson
's was a morbid conscience, all Christians may be infected with the same disease.
He has been often compared to Cromwell
and to Havelock
, but without justice in either case.
The latter he certainly resembled in energy, in directness, in bravery, and in the vigor of his faith; but his spiritual character was far more symmetrical, mellow, and noble.
His ambition was more thoroughly chastened.
He had risen to a calm and holy superiority to all the glitter of military glory, to which Havelock
reared sons to succeed to his name, he would never, like him, have directed them to the bustling pursuits of arms in preference
to the sacred office of the gospel ministry.
He would have said that, if his sons were clearly called by the providence of God to fight, and even to die, for the necessary defence of their country, then he should desire to see them brave soldiers; but that otherwise, his warmest wish for them would be, that they might share the honor of winning souls, the calling which he most coveted for himself.
Nor had he, either in manners or character, any of that abnormal vivacity which made Havelock
as peculiar as he was great.
The field on which his military genius was displayed, and the armies he wielded, were so large compared with those of the British
captain, that a comparison on this point would be equally difficult and unfair.
To liken Jackson
is far more incorrect.
With all the genius, both military and civic, and all the iron will of the Lord Protector
, he had a moral and spiritual character so much more noble that they cannot be named together.
In place of harboring Cromwell
's selfish ambition, which, under the veil of a religiousness that perhaps concealed it from himself, grew to the end, and fixed the foulest stain upon his memory, Jackson
crucified the not ignoble thirst for glory which animated his youth, until his abnegation of self became as pure and magnanimous as that of Washington
's religion was essentially fanatical; and, until it was chilled by an influence as malign as fanaticism itself — the lust of power, it was disorganizing.
Every fibre of Jackson
's being, as formed by nature and grace alike, was antagonistic to fanaticism and radicalism.
He believed indeed in the glorious doctrines of providence and redemption, with an appropriating faith; he believed in his own spiritual life and communion with God through His grace, and lived upon the Scripture promises; but he would never have mistaken the heated impulses of excitement for the inspirations of the Holy Ghost
, to be asserted even beyond
and against his own revealed word; nor would he have ever presumed on such a profane interpretation of His secret will, as to conclude that the victory of Dunbar
was sufficient proof, without the teachings of scriptural principles of duty, of the righteousness of the invasion of Scotland
There was never, in Jackson
's piety, a particle of that false heat which could prompt a wish to intrude into clerical functions.
Every instinct of his soul approved the beauty of a regular and righteous order.
His religion was of the type of Hampden
, rather than of the Independent.
Especially was his character unlike Cromwell
's, in its freedom from cant; his correct taste abhorred it. Sincerity was his grand characteristic.
With him profession always came short of the reality; he was incapable of affecting what he did not feel; and it would have been for him an impossibility to use speech with the diplomatic art of concealing, instead of expressing, his true intent.
His action, like Cromwell
's, was always vigorous, and at the call of justice could be rigid.
But his career could never have been marked by a massacre like that of Drogheda
, or an execution like that of the King
The immeasurable superiority of his spiritual life over that of Cromwell
, may be justly illustrated by the contrast between their last days.
The approach of death found Cromwell
's religion corrupted by power and riches, his faith tottering, his communion with God interrupted, his comfort overclouded; and at last he faced the final struggle with no better support for his soul than a miserable perversion of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, by which he claimed the comfort of a former assurance, long since forfeited by backslidings.
But the piety of Jackson
continually repaired its benignant beams at the fountain of divine light and purity, becoming brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. His nature grew more unselfish, his aims more noble, his spirit more heavenly; while his eager
feet ran with ever hastening speed and joy in the way of godliness to its close.
And his end, sustained by the peaceful triumphs of faith, was rather a translation than a death.
This portraiture of Jackson
's character will be concluded with some notice of his domestic life in Lexington
Thus the foliage will be added to the crown of the column, lest the reader should err by assigning to it a Doric severity.
After two years residence at the Military Academy, he was married to Eleanor Junkin
, the daughter of the president of the adjoining college, on August 4th, 1853.
The memorials of his short connexion with this accomplished lady are scanty; but enough is known to show that he was a tender husband.
After fourteen months of married life he lost her by death; and the bereavement was peculiarly harrowing, because it came without warning, and just as he hoped the circle of his domestic joys was to be completed instead of ruptured.
It is related that his grief was so pungent, as not only to distress, but seriously to alarm his friends.
Yet even then he was most anxious not to sin by questioning in his heart the wisdom and rectitude of God's dealings with him. His endeavors after self-control were strenuous, and he never for a moment lost the dignity of the Christian
in his grief.
But for a long time his taste for secular occupations and pleasures was lost, and his only aspirations pointed to the other world.
During this season of discipline his health suffered seriously, and his friends induced him, in the summer of 1856, to make a European tour, in the hope that the spell might be broken which bound him in sadness.
He visited England
, and Switzerland
, spending about four months among the venerable architectural remains, and mountain scenery of those countries.
This journey was the source of high enjoyment to him. But the opposition of his nature to all egotism was as strikingly shown here as elsewhere; he was no more
inclined to speak of his travels than of his exploits.
It was only at rare times, when with some intimate friend who could appreciate his sentiments, that he launched out, and related with enthusiasm his delight in the grandeur of the medieval temples and the Alps
; of York Minster and Mont Blanc
He returned from this holiday with animal spirits and health completely renovated.
Although he resorted no more to society, he resumed his scientific occupations with zest, and his religious life again became as sunny and cheerful as was his wont.
A little incident attending his arrival at home illustrates the temper of the man. The full session of the military school had begun, at which time he had promised to return.
His classes were awaiting him; week after week passed, and everybody wondered that the exact Major Jackson
had not returned to his post.
At length he reached Lexington
unexpectedly; and his first act was to visit the family of his deceased wife.
After the first joyful greetings and explanations of his delay, a sister exclaimed: “But, Major
, have you not been miserable, have you not been perfectly wretched since the beginning of the month?”
said he, with amazement; “why should I be?”
“You know,” she replied, “that you are so dreadfully punctual, and as the session had begun, and the time you promised to return had passed, we just supposed you were beside yourself with impatience.”
“By no means,” he replied; “I had set out to return at the proper time; I had done my duty; the steamer was delayed by the act of Providence
; and I was perfectly satisfied.”
He was married again, on July 15th, 1857, to Mary Anna Morrison
, the daughter of Dr. R. H. Morrison
, an eminent Presbyterian divine of North Carolina
, and niece of the Honorable William Graham
This lady, with one living daughter, born in November 1862, survives him. Another infant, born in the early years of this marriage, was cut off at the age of a month.
In no man were the domestic affections ever more tender and noble.
He who only saw the stern self-denying soldier in his quarters, amidst the details of the commander's duties, or on the field of battle, could scarcely comprehend the gentle sweetness of his home life.
There the cloud which, to his enemies, was only night and tempest, displayed nothing but the “silver lining” of the sunlight upon its reverse; and that light came chiefly from the Sun
He was intensely fond of his home, where all his happiness and every recreation centred.
As his foot crossed its threshold, care lifted itself from his brow, his presence brought cheerfulness, and, by his example of childlike gaiety, he allured its inmates to every innocent enjoyment.
His tongue, elsewhere so guarded in its speech, seemed to luxuriate in a playful variety of terms of endearment borrowed often from the Spanish
, which he always said was richer and more expressive in these phrases than the English
; and in these he loved to address, and be addressed by the members of his family.
In his household, the law of love reigned; his own happy pattern was the chief stimulus to duty; and his sternest rebuke, when he beheld any recession from gentleness or propriety, was to say, half tenderly, half sadly: “All, that is not the way to be happy!”
It was in his own house, also, that the social aspects of his character shone forth most pleasingly to his acquaintances.
Although the most unostentatious of men in his mode of living, he was generous and hospitable.
Nowhere else was he so unconstrained and easy, as with the guests at his own table.
A short time after his second marriage, he wrote thus to a near friend:--
“We are still at the hotel, but expect, on the 1st of January, to remove to Mr.
----‘s house as boarders.
I hope that in the course of time we shall be able to call some house our home; where we may have the pleasure of receiving a long visit from you ... I shall never be content until I am at the head of an
establishment in which my friends can feel at home in Lexington
I have taken the first important step by securing a wife capable of making a happy home.
And the next thing is to give her an opportunity.”
Before very long these purposes were realized; he was settled in his own house, where he delighted to entertain his select friends with unpretending but substantial comfort.
An instance of his considerate kindness will show his character better than many words.
One of his friends, having occasion to take his little daughter of four years upon a considerable journey without the attendance of its mother, called on the way to spend the night with Major Jackson
At bed-time, he proposed that Mrs. Jackson
should take charge of the little one for the night; but the father replied that she would not be contented with a comparative stranger, and would give least trouble if he kept her in his own bosom.
At a dead hour of the night, he was awakened by a gentle step in the room, and a hand upon his bed. It was Jackson
, tenderly adjusting the bed-clothes around the infant's face; and when the father spoke, he replied that, knowing she was accustomed to a mother's watchfulness, he had lain awake thinking of the danger of her becoming uncovered and catching a cold; and had thought it best to come to his chamber and see that all was safe.
This was also the mighty hand which guided the thunders of war at Sharpsburg
Upon becoming the proprietor of a house with a garden, and soon afterwards of a farm of a few acres, his rural tastes revived in full force.
He devoted his hours of recreation to gardening with his own hands, and was, from the first, very successful.
Indeed, the ability of his mind displayed itself, as in Washington
, by the practical skill with which he handled everything which claimed his attention.
His vegetables were the earliest and finest of the neighborhood.
His stable and dairy were stocked
well and cared for in the best possible manner.
His little farm of rocky hill-land was soon perfectly enclosed and tilled, and became a fruitful field.
He used to say that the bread grown there, by the labor of himself and his slaves, tasted sweeter than that which was bought.
Although he seemed to be absolutely indifferent to wealth, and gave from his modest means with an ungrudging hand, yet they grew under his energy and practical sense, as it were in spite of his generous profusion.
The chief cause which he would have assigned for this prosperity, was the blessing of Him who declares that “the liberal soul shall be made fat.”
The secondary causes, which his neighbors assigned, were the moderation of his own habits, and the soundness of his judgment, which never admitted a mistake or a useless waste.
His life here was so methodical, that its picture may be taken from that of one day. He always rose at dawn; and his first occupation was secret prayer, followed, if the weather permitted, by a solitary walk.
His family prayers were held at seven o'clock, summer
, and all his domestics were rigidly required to be present.
But the absence of no one was allowed to delay the service.
Breakfast then followed, and he went to his class-room at eight o'clock. Here he was usually engaged in instruction until eleven o'clock, when he returned to his study.
The first book which engaged his attention was the Bible
, which was not merely read, but studied as a daily lesson.
The time until dinner was then devoted to his text-books.
Between that meal and supper, the interval was occupied by his garden, his farm, or the duties of the church.
The evening was devoted first to the mental review of the studies of the day, made without book, and then to literary reading or conversation, until ten o'clock, P. M., when he retired.
He never chose works of fiction, but the classic historians and poets of the
English tongue; but this avoidance of works of mere fancy was from principle, not from indifference.
If he was once entrapped into an interest in their narrative, he betrayed all the keenness of the veteran novel-reader; and only restrained it from a sense of the duty of husbanding his time.
As the weakness of his eyes forbade the use of them at night, these readings for recreation were usually by some member of the family, while he sat an interested listener and critic.
And such was the tenacity of his memory, that what was thus acquired was never parted with.
But the best conception of his domestic character will be gained from his own words; and, to enable the reader to form this, a few extracts will be given from his correspondence with his wife, so selected as to disclose his interior life, but not to violate the proprieties of a sacred relationship.
, 1857, upon hearing of the painful death of the son of a friend, greatly lamented by his parents, he says:--
I wrote to Mr. and Mrs.--a few days since; and my prayer is that this heavy affliction may be sanctified to them.
I was not surprised that little M. was taken away, as I have long regarded his father's attachment to him as too strong; that is, so strong that he would be unwilling to give him up, though God should call for His own. I am not one of those who believe that an attachment ever is, or can be absolutely too strong for any object of our affections; but our love for God may not be strong enough.
We may not love Him so intensely as to have no will but His.
April 25th, 1857.-It is a great comfort to me to know, that though I am not with you, yet you are in the hands of One who will not permit any evil to come nigh to you. What a consoling thought it is, to know that we may, with perfect confidence, commit all our friends in Jesus to the care of our
Heavenly Father, with an assurance that all shall be well with them.
I have been sorely disappointed at not hearing from you this morning; but these disappointments are all designed for our good.
In my daily walks I think much of you. I love to stroll abroad after the labors of the day are over, and indulge feelings of gratitude to God for all the sources of natural beauty with which He has adorned the earth.
Some time since my morning walks were rendered very delightful by the singing of the birds.
The morning carolling of the birds, and their notes in the evening, awaken in me devotional feelings of praise and gratitude, though very different in their nature.
In the morning, all animated nature (man excepted) appears to join in active expressions of gratitude to God; in the evening, all is hushing into silent slumber, and thus disposes the mind to meditation.
And as my mind dwells on you, I love to give it a devotional turn, by thinking of you as a gift from our Heavenly Father.
How delightful it is, thus to associate every pleasure and enjoyment with God the Giver!
Thus will he bless us, and make us grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Him, whom to know aright is life eternal.
May 7th, 1857.-I wish I could be with you to-morrow at your communion [the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper]. Though absent in body, yet in spirit I shall be present, and my prayer will be for your growth in every Christian grace.
I take special pleasure in the part of my prayers, in which I beg that every temporal and spiritual blessing may be yours, and that the glory of God may be the controlling and absorbing thought of our lives in our new relation.
It is to me a great satisfaction, to feel that God has so manifestly ordered our union.
I believe, and am persuaded, that if we but walk in His commandments, acknowledging Him in all our ways, He
will shower His blessings upon us. How delightful it is, to feel that we have such a Friend, who changes not!
I love to see and contemplate Him in everything.
The Christian's recognition of God in all His works, greatly enhances his enjoyment.
May 16th, 1857.-There is something very pleasant in the thought of your mailing me a letter every Monday, and such manifestation of regard for the Sabbath must be “well-pleasing in the sight of God.”
O that all our people would manifest such a regard for His holy day!
If we would all strictly observe all His holy laws, what would not our country be?
When in prayer for you last Sabbath, the tears came to my eyes, and I realized an unusual degree of emotional tenderness.
I have not yet fully analyzed my feelings to my satisfaction, so as to arrive at the cause of such emotions, but I am disposed to think that it consisted in the idea of the intimate relation existing between you, as the object of my tender affection, and God, to whom I looked up as my Heavenly Father.
I felt that day as though it were a communion-day for myself.
June 20th, 1857.-I never remember to have felt so touchingly as last Sabbath, the pleasure springing from the thought of ascending prayers for my welfare, from one tenderly beloved.
There is something very delightful in such spiritual communion.
being absent upon a distant visit, he wrote, April 131h, 1859.:--
Is there not comfort in prayer, which is not elsewhere to be found?
Home, April 20th, 1859.-- Our potatoes are coming up. .... We have had very unusually dry weather for nearly a fortnight, and your garden had been thirsting for rain till last evening, when the weather commenced changing, and to-day we aave had some rain.
Through grace given me from above, I felt
that rain would come at the right time, and I don't recollect having ever felt so grateful for a rain as for the present one.
Last evening I sowed turnips between our pease.
I was mistaken about your large garden-fruit being peaches; it turns out to be apricots; and I enclose you one which I found on the ground to-day.
And just think my little-- has a tree full of them.
You must come home before they get ripe.
He playfully applied the pronoun your
to all the common possessions of his family when addressing his wife.
It was “your house,” “your garden,” “your horse,” “your husband,” or, more generally, “your hombre,” and even “your salary.”
May 1lth, 1859.-I wrote you this morning that you must not be discouraged.
“All things work together for good” to God's children.
I think it would have done you good to hear Dr.- on this last Sabbath: “No affliction for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby.”
See if you cannot spend a short time each evening after dark in looking out of your window into space, and meditating upon Heaven with all its joys unspeakable and full of glory; and think what the Saviour relinquished in glory when he came to earth, and of His'sufferings for us; and seek to realize with the Apostle, that the afflictions of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Try to look up and be cheerful, and not desponding, Trust our kind heavenly Father, and by the eye of faith see that all tlings with you are right, and for your best interest ..... The clouds come, pass over us, and are followed by bright sunshine; so, in God's moral dealings with us, He permits us to have trouble awhile, but let us, even in the most trying dispensations of His providence, be cheered by the brightness which is a little ahead.
Try to live near to Jesus, and secure that peace which flows like a river.
Home, May 12th, 1859.-I have had only one letter this week, but “ hope springs immortal in the human breast.”
So you see that I am becoming quite poetical, since listening to a lecture on that subject last night by--, which was one grand failure. I should not have gone; but as I was on my way to see Capt.-- at Major--‘s, I fell in with them going to the lecture, and I could not avoid joining them.
After the lecture, I returned with them and made my visit, and, before committing myself to the arms of Morpheus, your clock, though behind time, struck 12 A. M., so I retired this morning instead of last evening.
I send you a flower from your garden, and could send one in full bloom, but I thought that this one, which is just opening, would be in a better state of preservation when you get it.
October 5th, 1859.-I am glad and thankful that you received the draft and letters in time.
How kind is God to His children especially!, I feel so thankful to Him that He has blessed me with so much faith, though I well know that I have not that faith which it is my privilege to have.
But I have been taught never to despair, but to wait, expecting the blessing at the last moment. ...... Such occurrences should strengthen our faith in Him who never slumbers.
Such was the peaceful and pure life in which the days of Jackson
glided by at Lexington
But the time was short.
Events were ripening which called him into scenes more stirring, and to deeds that have brought his name before the world, and shed an imperishable lustre on his memory.