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Chapter XI
West and East: Indian wars of the West.--Abyssinian campaign, etc.

Stanley writes: “My first entry into journalistic life as a selected “special” was at St. Louis after my return from Asia Minor. Hitherto, I had only been an attache, or supernumerary, as it were, whose communications had been accepted and most handsomely rewarded, when, as during the two bombardments of Fort Fisher, they described events of great public interest. I was now instructed to “write-up” North-western Missouri, and Kansas, and Nebraska. In 1867, I was delegated to join General Hancock's expedition against the Kiowas and Comanches, and, soon after the termination of a bloodless campaign, was asked to accompany the Peace Commission to the Indians.”
These two expeditions he reported in a series of letters to the “Missouri Democrat,” which, in 1895, he made into the first of two volumes, “My early travels and Adventures.” It is the graphic story of a significant and momentous contact of civilization with savagery. Two years after the close of the Civil War, the tide of settlers was swiftly advancing over the great prairies of the West. The Union Pacific Railroad was being pushed forward at the rate of four miles a day. The Powder River military road was being constructed to Montana, and forts erected along its line, through the best and most reliable hunting-grounds of the Sioux, and without their consent. The Indians throughout a wide region were thrown into a ferment, and there were outbreaks against the white settlers. In March, a force was sent out under General Hancock, which Stanley accompanied, with the general expectation of severe fighting. But General Hancock soon imparted to Stanley his views and purposes, which were to feel the temper of the Indians, to see who were guilty, and who were not; to learn which tribes were friendly-disposed; to separate them from the tribes bent on war; to make treaties wherever practicable; and to post more troops on certain roads.

In a march of four hundred and fifty miles, he practically accomplished this plan. The hostile Sioux and Cheyennes were detached from their allies, the Kiowas, Arapahoes, and Comanches; and when [226] the hostiles stole away from the conference, and began outrages on the settlers, they were punished by the destruction of their villages. But after Hancock's return, the plains still seethed with menace and occasional outbreaks, and a general Indian war seemed imminent.

In July, Congress met the emergency by the appointment and despatch of a Peace Commission. At its head was General Sherman, with a group of distinguished officers, two chief Indian Commissioners, and Senator Henderson, of Missouri. Sherman, after some very effective speeches to the Indians, left the further work to the other Peace Commissioners, who travelled far and wide over the Plains, for two thousand miles. They met the principal tribes in council, and made a series of treaties, which, with the distribution of presents, and the general view impressed upon the Indians in addresses, frank, friendly, and truthful, brought about a general pacification.

In Stanley's picturesque story of all this, perhaps the most striking feature is the speeches of the Indian chiefs as they set forth the feelings and wishes of their people. Said old Santanta; “I love the land and the buffalo, and will not part with them. I don't want any of those medicine houses built in the country; I want the papooses brought up exactly as I am. I have word that you intend to settle us on a Reservation near the mountains. I don't want to settle there. I love to roam over the wide prairie, and, when I do it, I feel free and happy; but, when we settle down, we grow pale and die.”

“ Few,” writes Stanley, “ can read the speeches of the Indian chiefs without feeling deep sympathy for them; they move us by their pathos and mournful dignity. But they were asking the impossible. The half of a continent could not be kept as a buffalo pasture and hunting-ground.” Reviewing the situation many years later, he pronounces that the decline and disappearance of the Indians has been primarily due, not to the wrongs by the whites, but to their innate savagery, their mutual slaughter, the ravages of disease, stimulated by unsanitary conditions; and, especially, the increased destructiveness of their inter-tribal wars, after they had obtained fire-arms from the whites. His account of the complaints laid before the Commissioners shows that there were real and many wrongs on the part of the whites. To one story of a wanton murder, and the comment, “Those things I tell you to show you that the pale-faces have done wrong as well as the Indians,” that stout old veteran of the Plains, General Harney, replied: “That's so, the Indians are a great deal better than we are.” But of the broad purpose of the Government, and the spirit in which the Commission acted, Stanley writes: “ These letters describe the great efforts made by the United States Government to save the unfortunate Indians from the consequences of their own rash acts. The speeches of General Hancock and General Sherman and the Peace Commissioners faithfully reflect the sentiments of the most cultivated Americans towards them, and are genuine exhortations to the Indians to stand aside from the over-whelming [227] wave of white humanity which is resistlessly rolling towards the Pacific, and to take refuge on the Reservations, where they will be fed, clothed, protected, and educated in the arts of industry and Christian and civilised principles.” The replies of the Indian chiefs no less faithfully reflect their proud contempt of danger, and betray, in many instances, a consciousness of the sad destiny awaiting them.

In all this, Stanley was unconsciously acquiring a preliminary lesson in dealing with savage races. The tone in which Sherman, Henderson, and Commissioner Taylor, spoke to the Indians, now as to warriors, now as to children, gave hints which, later, Stanley put to good use. And the experience of the Indians suggests a parallel with that of the Congo natives as each met the whites. The wise and generous purposes of men like Sherman and Taylor, as afterwards of Stanley, were woefully impeded in their execution by the less fine temper of their subordinates.

And now, from the West, Stanley goes to the East. The point of departure is given in the Journal.

January 1st, 1868. Last year was mainly spent by me in the western Territories, as a special correspondent of the “Missouri Democrat,” and a contributor to several journals, such as the “New York Herald,” “Tribune,” “Times,” “Chicago Republican,” “Cincinnati commercial,” and others. From the “Democrat” I received fifteen dollars per week, and expenses of travel; but, by my contributions to the other journals, I have been able to make on an average ninety dollars per week, as my correspondence was of public interest, being the records of the various expeditions against the warlike Indians of the plains. By economy and hard work, though now and then foolishly impulsive, I have been able to save three thousand dollars, that is, six hundred pounds. Hearing of the British expedition to Abyssinia, and as the Indian troubles have ceased, I ventured at the beginning of December last to throw up my engagement with the “Democrat,” proceeded to Cincinnati and Chicago, and collected my dues, which were promptly paid to me; and in two cases, especially the “Chicago Republican,” most handsomely.

I then came over to New York, and the “Tribune” and ‘Times’ likewise paid me well. John Russell Young, the Editor of the New York Tribune, was pleased to be very complimentary, and said he was sorry he knew of nothing else in which he could avail himself of the services of “such an [228] indefatigable correspondent.” Bowing my thanks, I left the “Tribune,” and proceeded to the “Herald” office; by a spasm of courage, I asked for Mr. Bennett. By good luck, my card attracted his attention, and I was invited to his presence. I found myself before a tall, fierce-eyed, and imperious-looking young man, who said, “Oh, you are the correspondent who has been following Hancock and Sherman lately. Well, I must say your letters and telegrams have kept us very well informed. I wish I could offer you something permanent, for we want active men like you.”

“You are very kind to say so, and I am emboldened to ask you if I could not offer myself to you for the Abyssinian expedition.”

“I do not think this Abyssinian expedition is of sufficient interest to Americans, but on what terms would you go?”

“Either as a special at a moderate salary, or by letter. Of course, if you pay me by the letter, I should reserve the liberty to write occasional letters to other papers.”

“We do not like to share our news that way; but we would be willing to pay well for exclusive intelligence. Have you ever been abroad before?”

“ Oh, yes. I have travelled in the East, and been to Europe several times.”

“Well, how would you like to do this on trial? Pay your own expenses to Abyssinia, and if your letters are up to the standard, and your intelligence is early and exclusive, you shall be well paid by the letter, or at the rate by which we engage our European specials, and you will be placed on the permanent list.”

“Very well, Sir. I am at your service, any way you like.”

“When do you intend to start?”

“On the 22nd, by the steamer “Hecla.” ”

“That is the day after to-morrow. Well, consider it arranged. Just wait a moment while I write to our agent in London.”

In a few minutes he had placed in my hands a letter to “Colonel Finlay Anderson, Agent of the “New York Herald,” The Queen's Hotel, St. Martin's Le Grand, London” ; and thus I became what had been an object of my ambition, a regular, I hope, correspondent of the “New York Herald.” [229]

On the 22nd, in the morning, I received letters of introduction from Generals Grant and Sherman, which I telegraphed for, and they probably will be of some assistance among the military officers on the English expedition. A few hours later, the mail steamer left. I had taken a draft on London for three hundred pounds, and had left the remainder in the bank.

The letters to the “New York Herald,” narrating the Abyssinian campaign, were afterwards elaborated into permanent form, the last half of Stanley's book, “Coomassie and Magdala.” The campaign has become a chapter of history; the detention of Consul Cameron by the tyrannical King Theodore, of Abyssinia, continued for years; the imprisonment and abuse of other officers and missionaries, to the number of sixty; the fruitless negotiations for their release; the despatch from India of a little army of English and Punjabis, under Sir Robert Napier, afterwards Lord Napier, of Magdala; the marching columns of six thousand men, with as many more to hold the seacoast, and the line of communication; the slow advance for months through country growing more wild and mountainous, up to a height of ten thousand feet; Napier's patient diplomacy with chiefs and tribes already chafing against Theodore's cruelties; the arrival before the stronghold; the sudden impetuous charge of the King's force; the quick repulse of men armed with spears and match-locks before troops handling rocket-guns, Sniders, and Enfields; the surrender of the captives, and their appearance among their deliverers; the spectacle of three hundred bodies of lately-massacred prisoners; the next day's assault and capture of the town; Theodore shot by his own hand; the return to the coast: all this Stanley shared and told.

His telling, in its final form,1 has for setting an account of ante-cedent events, the early success and valour of Theodore, his degeneracy, the queer interchange of courtesies and mutual puzzlements between Downing Street and Magdala, and the organisation of the rescue force. These historical prefaces were characteristic of Stanley's books; the story of what he saw had an illuminating back-ground of what had gone before, worked out by assiduous study. The record of the campaign is told with plentiful illustration of grand and novel landscape, of barbaric ways, of traits in his companions. There is a pervading tone of high spirits and abounding vitality. At first looked at a little askance, as an American, by the other correspondents, he soon got on very good terms with them. “Their mess,” he writes, “was the most sociable in the army, as well as the most loveable and good-tempered” ; and he names the London correspondents, individually, as his personal friends. Lord Napier was courteous, and gave him the same privileges as his English colleagues. [230] With the officers, too, he got on well. There is occasional humorous mention in the book, and more fully in the Journal, of a certain captain whose tent he shared for a while, and whom he names “Smelfungus,” after Sterne; he might have been dubbed “Tartarin de Tarascon,” for he was a braggadocio, sportsman, and warrior, whose romances first puzzled, and then amused, Stanley, until he learned that a severe wound, and a sun-stroke, had produced these obscurations in a sensible and gallant fellow.

As a correspondent he scored a marked success, for which he had good fortune, as well as his own pains, to thank. On his way out, he had made private arrangements with the chief of the telegraph office, at Suez, about transmitting his despatches. “My telegrams,” he notes in the Journal, “are to be addressed to him, and he will undertake that there shall be no delay in sending them to London, for which services I am to pay handsomely if, on my return, I hear that there had been no delay.” This foresight was peculiarly characteristic of Stanley. On the return march, he could not get permission to send an advance courier with his despatches; these had to go in the same bag which carried the official and the other press bulletins. In the Red Sea, the steamer stuck aground for four days; and, under the broiling heat, an exchange of chaff between a colonel and captain generated wrath and a prospective duel; Stanley's mediation was accepted; reconciliation, champagne, and — Suez at last; but only to face five days of quarantine! Stanley manages to get a long despatch ashore, to his friend in the telegraph office. It is before all the others, and is hurried off; then the cable between Alexandria and Malta breaks, and for weeks not another word can pass! Stanley's despatch brings to London the only news of Theodore's overthrow. Surprise, incredulity, denunciations of the “Herald” and its “imposture,” --then conviction, and acceptance! Stanley had won his place in the world's front rank of correspondents! He notes in his Journal, “Alexandria, June 28th, 1868. I am now a permanent employee of the “Herald,” and must keep a sharp look-out that my second “coup” shall be as much of a success as the first. I wonder where I shall be sent to next.”

He was sent to examine the Suez Canal, which he found giving promise of completion within a year. Then, on to Crete, to describe the insurrection; and here he found no startling public news, but met with a personal experience which may be given in full.

The Island of Syra, Greece, August 20th, 1868. Christo Evangelides seems desirous of cultivating my acquaintance. He has volunteered to be my conductor through Hermopolis. As he speaks English, and is a genial soul, and my happiness is to investigate, I have cordially accepted his services. He first took me on a visit of call to Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, of Boston, and then to the Greek seminary, where I saw some [231] young Greeks with features not unworthy of the praise commonly ascribed to Greek beauty. On the way to the Square, Evangelides, observing my favourable impressions, took advantage of my frank admiration and suggested that I should marry a Greek girl. Up to this moment it never had entered my mind that it must be some day my fate to select a wife. Rapidly my mind revolved this question. To marry requires means, larger means than I have. My twelve hundred pounds would soon be spent; and on four hundred pounds a year, and that depending on the will of one man, it would be rash to venture with an extravagant woman. Yet the suggestion was delicious from other points of view. A wife! My wife! How grand the proprietorship of a fair woman appeared! To be loved with heart and soul above all else, for ever united in thought and sympathy with a fair and virtuous being, whose very touch gave strength and courage and confidence! Oh dear! how my warm imagination glows at the strange idea!

Evangelides meanwhile observes me, and cunningly touches the colours of my lively fancy, becomes eloquent upon Greek beauty, the virtues, and the constant affections of Greek women. “But, how is it possible for a wanderer like myself to have the opportunity of meeting such a creature as you describe? I have no resting-place, and no home; I am here to-day, and off to-morrow. It is not likely that a man can become so infatuated with a woman at a glance, or that she would follow a stranger to the church, and risk her happiness at a nod. Why will you distract a poor fellow with your raptures upon the joy of marriage?” And much else, with breathless haste, I retorted.

I looked at Evangelides and saw his age to be great, beard white as snow, though his face was unwrinkled. Swiftly, I tried to dive beneath that fair exterior, and, somehow, I compared him to a Homer, or some other great classic, who loved to be the cicerone of youth, and took no note of his own years. The charm of Hellas fell upon me, and I yielded a patient hearing to the fervid words, and all discretion fled, despite inward admonitions to beware of rashness.

He said he would be my proxy, and would choose a damsel worthy of every praise for beauty and for character. Like one [232] who hoped and yet doubted, believed and yet suspected, I said: “Very well, if you can show me such a girl as you describe, I will use my best judgement, and tell you later what I think of her.” And so it was agreed.

In the evening I walked in the Square with Evangelides, who suddenly asked me what I thought of his own daughter, Calliope. Though sorely tempted to laugh, I did not, but said gravely that I thought she was too old for me. The fact is, Calliope is not a beauty; and though she is only nineteen according to her father, yet she is not one to thaw my reserve.

August 21st. This morning Evangelides proposed his daughter in sober, serious earnest, and it required, in order not to offend, very guarded language to dispel any such strange illusion. Upon my soul, this is getting amusing! It is scarcely credible that a father would be so indifferent to his daughter's happiness as to cast her upon the first stranger he meets. What is there in me that urges him to choose me for a son-in-law? Though he claims to be a rich man, I do not think he has sufficient hundreds to induce me to entertain the offer. My liberty is more precious than any conceivable amount of gold.

August 22nd. Rode out during the morning into the country beyond Hermopolis, and crossed the mountains to the village of Analion. I was delighted with all I saw, the evidences of rural industry, the manifest signs of continuous and thoughtful care of property, the necessity for strictest economy, and unceasing toil, to make both ends meet, the beauty of the stainless sky, and the wide view of dark blue sea, which lay before me on every side. If it was calculated on the part of Evangelides, he could scarcely have done anything better than propose this ride; for what I saw during the ride, by recalling all I had read of Greece, made Greek things particularly dear to me. When I returned to the town, I quite understood Byron's passion for Hellas.

In the evening Evangelides walked with me on a visit to a family which lived on another side of the Square. We were received by a very respectable old gentleman in sober black, and a stout lady who, in appearance, dress, and surroundings, showed that she studied comfort. Evangelides seemed to be on good terms with them, and they all bandied small change of [233] gossip in a delightfully frank and easy manner. Presently, into the sitting-room glided a young lady who came as near as possible to the realisation of the ideal which my fancy had portrayed, after the visions of marriage had been excited by Evangelides's frolicsome talk. She, after a formal introduction, subsided on a couch, demure, and wrapped in virgin modesty.

Her name was Virginia, and well it befitted her. Where had I seen her face, or whom did she recall? My memory fled over scores of faces and pictures, and instantly I bethought me of the Empress Eugenie when she was the Countess Montijo. A marvellous likeness in profile and style! She is about sixteen, and, if she can speak English, who knows? Simultaneously with the drift of my thoughts, Evangelides in the easiest manner led the conversation with the seniors to marriage of young people. He was so pointed that I became uneasy. My face began to burn as I felt the allusions getting personal. Jove! what a direct people these Greeks are! Not a particle of reserve! No shilly-shallying, or beating about the bush, but, “I say, is your daughter ripe for marriage? If so, here is a fine young fellow quite ready.”

Evangelides was nearly as plain as this. Then the mother turned to me, and asked, “Are you married?”

“Heaven forbid!” said I.

“Why?” she said, smiling, with proud consciousness of superior knowledge on her face. “Is marriage so dreadful?”

“I am sure I don't know, but I have not thought of the subject.”

“Oh, well, I hope you will think of it now; there are many fair women in Greece; and Greek women make the best wives.”

“I am quite ready to believe you, and if I met a young Greek lady who thought as much of me as I of her, I might be tempted to sacrifice my independence,” I answered, more with a view to avoid an awkward silence than with a desire to keep up such a terribly personal conversation with strangers.

“I am sure,” said the lady, “if you look around, you will find a young lady after your heart.”

I bowed, but my face was aflame.

With astonishing effrontery Evangelides maintained the pointed conversation until I saw my own uneasiness reflected [234] in Virginia's face, who grew alternately crimson and pale. Both colours agreed with her, and I pitied her distress, and frowned on Evangelides, who, however, was incorrigible. Then I began to ask myself, was this really Greek custom, or was it merely a frantic zeal on Evangelides's part? Was this the Siren's Isle, wherein the famed Ulysses was so bewitched, or was the atmosphere of the Cyclades fatal to bachelorhood? It would never do to tell in detail all I thought, or give all my self-questionings; but, ever and anon in my speculations, I stole a glance at Virginia's face, and each glance started other queries. “Is this to be a farcical adventure, or shall it be serious?” I felt that only the mute maiden could answer such a question. Susceptible and romantic I know I am, but it requires more than a pretty face to rouse passionate love.

We rose to go, each protesting that we had passed a pleasant evening. The lady of the house promises, half-seriously, to find a nice wife for me. “Do,” say I, “and I will be eternally grateful. Good-bye, Miss Virginia.”

“Good-bye,” she says timidly, blushing painfully.

I note she has a French accent. I find she only knows a few words of English, but she is fluent in French. Here then comes another obstacle. I could make no love in French, without exploding at my own ignorance of it. But there is no doubt that, so far as beauty goes, Virginia is sufficient.

September 9th. After a short absence, I have returned. Evangelides welcomed me effusively. Passed the evening with Virginia's family. There were two brothers of Virginia's, fine young fellows, present, and a sister. It was clear that my letter had been a subject of family discussion, for every eye was marked by a more discerning glance than would have been noticeable otherwise. Even on the little girl's face I read, “I wonder if he will suit me as a brother-in-law.” I wished I could say to her, “So far as you and Virginia are concerned, I do not think you will have cause for regret.” On the whole, the ordeal was not unsatisfactory. I was conscious that Virginia was favourable. No decision has been arrived at yet, but I feel that where there are so many heads in council, father, mother, brothers, relatives, friends, and Evangelides, there must be a deal to debate.

September 10th. A friend of the family came into my room [235] this afternoon, and was, in features, voice, and conduct, infectiously congratulatory. He told me that the marriage was as good as concluded, that I had only to name the day. I gasped, and with good reason. Here was an event which I had always considered as sacred, mysterious, requiring peculiar influences and circumstances to bring within range of possibilities, so imminent, that it depended only on my own wish. Incredulous, I asked, “But are you certain?”

“As certain as I am alive. I have only just left them, and came expressly to enquire your wishes in the matter.”

Feeling that retreat was as undesirable as it would be offensive, I replied, “Then, of course, as my business admits of no delay, I should like the marriage to take place next Sunday.”

“All right,” he said, “next Sunday will suit us perfectly.” And he left me quivering, almost, and certainly agitated.

In the evening I visited the house. I was allowed to see Virginia, and, in a short time, whatever misgivings I may have had as to the wisdom of my act were banished by the touch of her hand, and the trust visible in her eyes. There was no doubt as to her ultimate responsiveness to the height and depth of love. As yet, naturally, there was no love; but it was budding, and, if allowed to expand, there would be no flaw in the bloom. If I know myself at all, I think that my condition was much the same. All that I knew of her I admired; and, if she were as constant in goodness as she was beautiful, there would be no reason to regret having been so precipitate.

From these rapid reflections I was recalled by the mother's remarks, which in a short time satisfied me that the marriage was not so positively determined upon as I had been led to believe that afternoon. As she went on I perceived it was not settled at all. The same fear I had felt, of committing an imprudence, was swaying her. She said that I was quite a stranger, of whose antecedents everyone in Syra was quite ignorant, and she was therefore obliged to ask me to have patience until all reasonable assurances had been given that I was what I represented myself to be.

The wisdom of this act I could not but applaud. The mother was just and prudent, and my respect for her increased. [236] Still, it was tantalising. My decision to marry, though so quickly arrived at, cost me a struggle and some grief. My independence I valued greatly. Freedom was so precious to me. To be able to wander where I liked, at a moment's thought, with only a portmanteau to look after, I should not have bartered for a fortune. But now, after looking into the face of such a sweet girl as Virginia, and seeing her readiness to be my companion, for better, or for worse, and believing that she would not hinder my movements, the disagreeability of being wedded had been removed, and I had been brought to look upon the event as rather desirable.

“Well, so be it,” I said; “though I am sorry, and perhaps you may be sorry, but I cannot deny that you are just and wise.”

September 11th. I gave a dinner to the family at the Hotel d'amerique. Virginia was present, lovelier than ever. It is well that I go away shortly, for I feel that she is a treasure; and my admiration, if encouraged, would soon be converted into love, and if once I love, I am lost! However, the possibility of losing her serves to restrain me.

September 12th. Dined with Virginia's family. I had the honour of being seated near her. We exchanged regards, but we both felt more than we spoke. We are convinced that we could be happy together, if it is our destiny to be united. Toasts were drunk, etc., etc. Afterwards, Virginia exhibited her proficiency on the piano, and sang French and Greek sentimental songs. She is an accomplished musician, beautiful and amiable. She is in every way worthy.

September 13th. Left Syra for Smyrna by the “Menzaleh.” Virginia was quite affectionate, and, though I am outwardly calm, my regrets are keener at parting than I expected. However, what must be, must be.

September 26th. Received answer from London that I am to go to Barcelona, via Marseilles, and wire for instructions on reaching France.

September 27th. Wrote a letter to Evangelides and Virginia's mother, that they must not expect my return to Syra unless they all came to a positive decision, and expressly invited me, as it would be an obvious inconvenience, and likely to be resented at headquarters.

1 See Stanley's Coomassie and Magdala.

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