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Chapter 49:

The last days of General Grant.

on Christmas Eve, 1883, General Grant seemed to himself and to the world a healthy and prosperous man. He was sixty-one years of age, full of mental vigor, and physically as strong, if not as active, as he had ever been. He was engaged in business that brought him in an ample income, and he told his intimate friends that he was worth a million of dollars. He passed that evening at the house of an acquaintance and went home in a cab about midnight. As he alighted he turned to hand the driver a fare, and in doing this his foot slipped on the ice, for the weather was cold and wet, and the rain froze on the pavement. He fell to the ground and was unable to rise. The driver got down from the box to assist him, but the General was suffering acutely, and the man was obliged to call for help from within doors. A servant came out, and General Grant was carried up the steps into his house, which he was never to leave again a well man.

The family at the time consisted only of Mrs. Grant and a young niece, with the servants. Mrs. Grant was naturally very much alarmed, but the General declared that the injury was not serious, and although he was almost senseless from pain he refused to allow a medical man to be summoned. In the morning his son Ulysses, who lived near, was brought, and he at once sent for Dr. Fordyce Barker, the family physcian, who pronounced the case one that required surgical treatment, and called in Dr. Lewis A. Stimson. The injury [417] was thought to be the rupture of a muscle in the upper part of the thigh, and although after the first few days the suffering was less, any quick or sudden movement of the limb was so painful that the General was unable to move in his bed without assistance; he did not leave it for weeks. A few days after the fall he suffered an attack of pleurisy, which also at first occasioned excruciating pain, but was not absolutely dangerous.

The effects of this accident detained General Grant in the house many weeks, but after a while he was able to hobble about on crutches, and in March he went, by the advice of his physicians, to Washington and Fortress Monroe. By this time his general health was greatly improved, but the weakness in his leg and hip continued, and the unusual confinement somewhat affected his spirits, though not his temper or his intellect. He was the most patient of sufferers, the most equable of prisoners. Hosts of friends among the most distinguished people of the country gathered about him wherever he went, and their society, always one of his greatest delights, now cheered the tedium and allayed the suffering of the invalid. In April he returned to New York and was able to drive his own horse and to attend army reunions. He went, however, to no private entertainments. His affairs seemed still very prosperous, and he hoped soon to recover entirely from the effects of his fall.

I had been absent from the country during the winter, but returned late in April, and at once saw much of my old chief. I found him cheerful and uncomplaining, going to his office daily on business, interested in politics and affairs. The Presidential election was approaching, and although he never spoke of such a possibility, many of his political friends thought the prospect of his nomination very bright. Every day revealed apparently irreconcilable differences among the adherents of other candidates, and the party and the country, not a few believed, were turning again to him who had twice [418] been the Head of the State. He, however, responded to no such intimations, and never said even to his family that he desired or expected a return to public station. Any expression that ever fell from him on the subject was to repress or repel the suggestion. He was resting from national cares, and in the unwonted enjoyment of a private competence. He told me that in December for the first time in his life he had a bank account from which he could draw as freely as he desired. He was generous in gifts to his children, but never luxurious in his personal habits. He had only two expenses of his own,—his horses and his cigars.

When General Grant returned from Europe in 1879, his entire fortune amounted to one hundred thousand dollars, and the income of this sum just paid his expenses at the hotel where he and Mrs. Grant occupied two rooms. He kept no carriage. Finding that he could not live in New York suitably to his position, he began to consider what other residence he should select or what means of support. His son Ulysses was engaged in the banking business with Ferdinand Ward and James D. Fish, and supposed he had accumulated four hundred thousand dollars. He offered to receive his father as a partner in his profits. General Grant would not consent to this, but proposed to invest his hundred thousand dollars in the business and become an actual partner. Ward and Fish concurred, and in 1880, General Grant was admitted as a special partner in the firm of ‘Grant and Ward.’

He was never, however, actively engaged in its affairs. He lent his name and he gave his money, but others did the business. Ward in reality acted for the firm, made the investments, drew the cheques, received the deposits, and disposed of them. General Grant was assured that the investments were proper, and, utterly unaccustomed as he was to business, he inquired little further. Once or twice he thought he had reason to say that the firm must have no [419] dealings in Government contracts, and he said so promptly. He declared that his position as ex-President made it improper and impossible for a firm of which he was a member to have such dealings; and Ward assured him that there were none. The apparent returns from the business were enormous, but General Grant knew that scores of bankers and brokers around him had made as rapid fortunes as he, and was not surprised. He put all his available capital into the bank, and induced many of his friends and relatives to invest or deposit with it. One of his sons was a partner, another had become an agent of the firm, and their father had all confidence in their integrity and capacity.

But suddenly out of the clear sky came the thunderbolt. On Tuesday morning, the 6th of May, 1884, General Grant went from his house in Sixty-sixth street, supposing himself a millionaire. When he arrived at his place of business in Wall street he found that he was ruined. As he entered his office he was met by his son Ulysses, who said at once: ‘Father, you had better go home. The bank has failed’; but the General went in and waited awhile. I happened to visit him that day about noon, and found him alone. After a moment he said to me gravely enough, but calmly: ‘We are all ruined here.’ I was astounded at the news, and he continued: ‘The bank has failed. Mr. Ward cannot be found. The securities are locked up in the safe, and he has the key. No one knows where he is.’

He could not at that time have known the event more than half an hour. In a few moments he got into a carriage and was driven home. He never returned to Wall street.

The world knows that he gave up all that was his. The story of the debt to Mr. Vanderbilt into which he was inveigled is pitiful. Ferdinand Ward went to his house on Sunday the 4th of May and represented that the Marine Bank, where Grant and Ward had large deposits, was in danger, but that speedy assistance would enable it to overcome [420] the difficulty. The assistance, however, must be immediate if they would save themselves. He urged General Grant to obtain at once a loan of $150,000 for this purpose; and Sunday though it was, the old warrior sallied out at the instance of the partner, who knew at that moment that all the fortunes of General Grant had been lost through his means. He went first to Mr. Victor Newcomb, who was not at home, and then to William H. Vanderbilt, who at once agreed to let General Grant have his cheque for $150,000 without security. He said that he had never done such a thing before, but he would do it for General Grant. The General expected to return the money immediately; he wanted it only to enable the Marine Bank to find time to collect its loans. Ward had assured him, and he repeated to Vanderbilt, that there were securities for more than a million of dollars in the vaults of Grant and Ward.

The first thing General Grant did when the failure was known was to make over all his individual property to Vanderbilt. In this act Mrs. Grant afterwards joined, waiving her right of dower. The house in which they lived belonged to Mrs. Grant. Three years before a hundred thousand dollars had been subscribed to purchase her a home, and the building in Sixty-sixth street was selected; but there was a mortgage on the property which the holders refused to cancel. It was a good investment, and they preferred to retain it. The price of the house was $98,000, and the mortgage was for $50,000; so $48,000 only was paid, and the remainder of the sum subscribed was deposited with Grant and Ward, to be applied to the purchase of bonds. Ward, as the active member of the firm, was commissioned to make the purchase. He reported having done so, he received the money, and the interest was regularly paid. But after the failure it was discovered that the purchase had never been made. There was therefore a mortgage on the property which could not be redeemed. The library and the rare contents of the house were, however, made over to Vanderbilt. [421]

But this was not all. The Trust Fund of $250,000 raised for General Grant, the interest of which was devoted to his benefit, had been invested in the bonds of a company which at this juncture suspended payment. The fund was guaranteed by the E. D. Morgan estate, but from some technicality of the law the guarantors could not pay the deficient interest until the company had been six months in default; this resource therefore failed entirely for the time. The last payment had been deposited with Grant and Ward, and of course was lost.

General Grant was as brave, however, as under all circumstances, and though regretting the loss of fortune for himself and his sons, as well as for those who had suffered through their means, he was as yet free from any acute humiliation. He himself was ruined; one son was a partner in the wreck and the liabilities; another the agent of the firm, was bankrupt for half a million; his youngest son on the 3d of May had deposited all his means, about $80,000, in the bank of his father and brother, and the bank suspended payment on the 6th; his daughter had made a little investment of $12,000 with the firm; one sister had put in $5,000, another $25,000; a nephew had invested a few thousands, the savings of a clerkship; and other personal friends had been induced by Grant's name and advice to invest still more largely. It was painful and mortifying that all these should lose from their confidence in him, but still there was no thought of personal disgrace.

But after a day or two came out the shameful story of craft and guile in all its horrible proportions, and it was seen that his honored name had been used to entice and decoy hosts of friends and acquaintances, to their own injury and General Grant's discredit. Imputations were even cast on the fame that belonged to the country; and this blow was the most terrible that General Grant ever endured. The shock of battle was less tremendous, the mortal agony was less acute. [422]

There seemed, too, under the circumstances, to be nothing to do, nothing to say. He was indeed through life always able to remain silent, but the task was harder now than amid the abuse directed against him during the war, or the detraction and calumnies of political campaigns. His own fair fame, his honor as a man, the honor of his children, —all were assailed; all discussed, doubted, defiled by the tongues of a careless and censorious world. The glory which had been likened to that of Washington was obscured. He never spoke of this even to those closest and dearest, but none the less they knew that the wound was eating into his soul. This sorrow was a cancer indeed.

After a time the clouds were lifted a little, and the world seemed satisfied, at least in part, that his honor was untarnished. He breathed freer now; but still the accusations were hurled against his children; and for him, for whom the family relations were absolutely the profoundest and most intimate of his nature, this was anguish intolerable.

His bodily health was soon affected, though not yet conspicuously. He did not grow openly worse, but he ceased to grow better. His lameness did not mend. His strength did not increase. He was not morose, but hardly so cheerful as was his wont, although too brave to be willing to seem cast down. But he was indignant to the core at those who had injured him and his fame and his sons.

At first he was distressed even for money for household expenses. Eighty dollars in his pocket-book and one hundred and thirty dollars in cash belonging to Mrs. Grant were all he had to live on. If two friends, one a man he had never seen and the other a foreigner, had not come to his relief, General Grant must have suffered actual want for a while. The very cheques paid out to tradesmen a few days before the failure were dishonored. He was penniless in the house that was crowded with his trophies.

But four days after the 6th of May, an unknown countryman, [423] Mr. Charles Wood, of Lansingburg, New York, wrote to General Grant and offered to lend him $1,000 on his note for twelve months, without interest, with the option of renewal at the same rate. He inclosed a cheque for $500, ‘on account,’ he said, ‘of my share for services ending April, 1865,’ and General Grant gratefully accepted the offer.

About the same time Mathias Romero, the Mexican Minister, his valued friend from the time when the French were driven from Mexico, came on from Washington, and insisted on lending him $1,000. At first the General declined the offer, but Romero suddenly quitted the room, leaving his cheque for $1,000 on the table. But for these succors the man who had dined with half the kings of the earth would have wanted money to buy bread for himself and his children.

For it was not only himself and Mrs. Grant who were to be supported, but two of his sons and their families. Ulysses went to live with his father-in-law, the Hon. J. B. Chaffee, who was a man of means; but General Grant must maintain the others, for, until released by their creditors, they could not even go into business. Mrs. Grant, however, owned two little houses in Washington, and she wrote at once to Mr. W. McLean, of Cincinnati, who she knew was buying property at the capital. McLean was a stanch personal friend of General Grant, although a political opponent, and Mrs. Grant asked him at this crisis to purchase her houses, telling him that she needed money for the absolute living expenses of the family. McLean at once directed his agent to purchase the houses, whether they were needed or not, and to pay the market price. This timely act relieved the family from their immediate anxieties. The generous loan of Romero was repaid; the dishonored cheques for household expenses were redeemed, and enough was left to live on during the summer.

As early as December 1883, the editors of The Century [424] Magazine had informed me of a series of articles they were planning about the civil war, and asked whether I could not induce General Grant ‘to contribute either direct or through my assistance a paper, say on Shiloh or the Wilderness.’ I laid the matter before the General, but he was disinclined to attempt the unfamiliar task. The editors, however, renewed their solicitations. After the failure of Grant and Ward they addressed me another letter, in which they said: ‘The country looks with so much regret and sympathy upon General Grant's misfortune that it would gladly welcome the announcement and especially the publication of material relating to him or by him, concerning a part of his honored career in which every one takes pride. It would be glad,’ they continued, ‘to have its attention diverted from his present troubles, and no doubt such diversion of his own mind would be welcome to him.’

He was touched by the tone of the communication, but shrank at first from presenting himself to the public at this juncture, preferring absolute withdrawal and retirement. When I conveyed his reply, I spoke of the complete financial ruin that had overtaken him. The editors at once inquired whether a pecuniary inducement might not have weight, and made him an offer through me for two articles on any of his battles which he might select as themes. His necessities decided him. The modern Belisarius did not mean to beg.

In June he went to Long Branch for the summer, and soon afterward sent for me and showed me a few pages he had written and called an article. The fragment was terse and clear, of course, like almost everything he wrote, but too laconic and compact, I knew, to suit the editorial purpose; it would not have filled three pages of the magazine. I begged him to expand it.

‘But why write more?’ he asked. ‘I have told the story. What more is there to say?’

I urged him to go into detail, to explain his purposes and [425] movements, to describe the commanders, to give pictures of the country; and he seized the idea, and developed the sketch into a more protracted effort. It was copied by his eldest son, who carried it to the editors, one of whom came at once to see General Grant, and asked for more. What the General had given was so good that it made them greedy and they begged him to extend his article, suggesting one or two points for further treatment. He consented, and the paper became the elaborate one—elaborate for its author—which appeared in The Century for February, 1885. This was General Grant's first attempt at anything like literary or historical composition.

He at once became interested in the work. The occupation distracted him from the contemplation of his misfortunes, and the thoughts of his old companions and campaigns brought back pleasanter recollections. He agreed to prepare still another article. His first theme had been the battle of Shiloh; the second was the Vicksburg Campaign. If he had been too concise at the start, he was now inclined to be more than full, and covered two hundred pages of manuscript in a few weeks. As soon as it became known that he had begun to write, the story spread that he was preparing his ‘Memoirs,’ and half the prominent publishers in the country made him offers. Again he sent for me, and said he felt inclined to write a book; but that as my own history of his campaigns had been composed with his concurrence, and with the expectation that it would take the place of all he would have to say on the subject, he thought it right to consult me. He wanted also to employ the material I had collected and arranged in my work, and to use it as authority for figures and for such facts as his own memory would not supply. Besides this, he wanted my assistance in various ways; all of which was arranged. In October I went to live at his house, to help him in the preparation of his book.

At this time he seemed in tolerable health. He was crippled and unable to move without crutches, but he walked [426] out alone, and he had driven me once or twice at Long Branch behind his own horse. He gave up driving, however, after his return to town. But he was cheerful; his children and grandchildren were a great solace to him; many friends came in to see him and to testify their undiminished respect. His evenings were spent in their society at his own house, for he never visited again; and his days were devoted to his literary labor. He worked often five, and six, and sometimes even seven hours a day, and he was a man not inclined to sedentary occupation. By October he thought he had completed his articles on Shiloh and Vicksburg, and had begun the preparation of two others on the Chattanooga and Wilderness Campaigns. These four he had promised to The Century Magazine, but he intended to incorporate them afterward, with some modifications, into his ‘Memoirs.’ To this the editors agreed. Thus General Grant's book grew out of his articles for The Century.

In October he complained constantly of pains in his throat. He had suffered during the summer from the same cause, but paid no attention to the symptoms until toward the end of his stay at Long Branch, when Dr. Da Costa of Philadelphia, who was paying him a call, examined his throat. This gentleman urged General Grant to consult the most eminent physicians immediately on his return to New York. But General Grant never nursed himself, and it was nearly a month before he acted on the advice. His pains finally became so frequent and so acute that Mrs. Grant persuaded him to see Dr. Fordyce Barker, who instantly said if the case were his own or that of one of his family, he should consult Dr. J. H. Douglas; and General Grant went the same day to Dr. Douglas. This was on the 22d of October.

When he returned he said the physician had told him that his throat was affected by a complaint with a cancerous tendency. He seemed serious but not alarmed, though it was afterward learned that he had pressed Dr. Douglas for close [427] information, and had detected a greater apprehension on the part of the physician than the family at first discovered. Still there was disquietude and even alarm,—the terrible word cancer was itself almost a knell.

It was now November, and all through this month he went regularly to the physician's house, about two miles from his own, taking the street-car. At first he went alone, but after a while he was persuaded to take a man-servant with him. One or two of the family called on Dr. Douglas to make further inquiry, and the response awakened further solicitude. The pains did not decrease, and the extraction of four teeth greatly aggravated his nervous condition. He went to a dentist to have one tooth taken out, but his fortitude was such that the operator was doubtless deceived, and proposed the extraction of three others, and the shock to the General's system was one from which he did not recover for weeks.

As the weather became colder the disease was further aggravated by the exposure to which he was subjected in the street-car; yet for a long time he refused to go by the carriage. Mrs. Grant and his children tried in vain to persuade him. One morning he announced his intention of going again in the cars. It was at breakfast, and I implored him not to do so. I declared he was taking his life in his hands and that he had no right to risk what was so precious to others. But he was obstinate, and I got up from the table very much agitated, and said I had rather he would stick a knife into me than have him go in the street-car. He was silent, but after a little he ordered the carriage.

In December his pains became still more excruciating; he could not swallow without torture, and his sufferings at table were intense. He was obliged to use liquid food and to avoid acids altogether. I shall always recall his figure as he sat at the head of the table, his head bowed over his plate, his mouth set grimly, his features clinched in the endeavor to conceal [428] the expression of pain, especially from Mrs. Grant, who sat at the other end. He no longer carved or helped the family, and at last was often obliged to leave before the meal was over, pacing the hall or the adjoining library in his agony.

At this time he said to me that he had no desire to live if he was not to recover. He preferred death at once to lingering, hopeless disease. He made the same remark to several of his family. For a while he seemed to lose, not courage, yet a little of his hope, almost of his grip on life. He did not care to write, nor even to talk; he made little physical effort, and often sat for hours propped up in his chair, with his hands clasped, looking at the blank wall before him, silent, contemplating the future; not alarmed, but solemn, at the prospect of pain and disease, and only death at the end. It was like a man gazing into his open grave. He was in no way dismayed, but the sight was to me the most appalling I have ever witnessed:—the conqueror looking at his inevitable conqueror; the stern soldier to whom so many armies had surrendered, watching the approach of that enemy before whom even he must yield.

But his apathy was not long-lived; the indifference to his work was soon over. I had been used for twenty years to speak to him with the greatest freedom, although only at rare intervals. He was not a man whom any one could approach unless he permitted, but there came moments and crises when he allowed me to say things to him such as few men ever say to each other; and I ventured now to beg him to throw aside this strange depression—the result of his illness; to be himself; not to give way, even to fate. I urged him to try to recover; not to let the world say that he was crushed by misfortune, or put an end to by Ferdinand Ward; to think of the immense achievement his book would be if he could himself tell the story of his own motives and purposes and plans. I pleaded with him to live and work, not only for his fame, but for his family, whose fortune his [429] book would secure. He did not say much, from which I knew that my words would be considered; I was sure that he appreciated their motive and did not resent their freedom. The only utterance I can recall in reply was, ‘I am not going to commit suicide.’ But I changed the subject and he spoke cheerfully and very kindly to me on other themes. We were driving together from the doctor's house when this conversation occurred, and on our return he went to work with renewed vigor. I told Mrs. Grant what I meant to do in advance, and reported the result afterward, and she approved it all.

He enjoyed his labors now, and quite got the literary fever for a while. He liked to have his pages read aloud to the family in the evening, so that he might hear how they, sounded and receive their comments. He worked, however, for the most part from ten or eleven o'clock in the morning until two or three in the afternoon, and sometimes again later in the day. Once in a while General Tower, a comrade in the Mexican War, came in and discussed the chapters describing the capture of Vera Cruz or the march on Mexico. Sometimes Mr. Chaffee listened to the political passages, and begged the General not to emasculate them, but to say all he thought without fear or favor.

Daily about one o'clock he was interrupted by his grandchildren, who stopped as they passed to their lunch, and looked in at the open door, not entering till he saw them and summoned them. Their prattle and kisses were always welcome, and made me think that the very misfortune which brought them to his house had its compensations. He took a peculiar pleasure in their society, and when at one time it was thought that they disturbed his labors, and they were told not to visit him, he was distressed at the omission and revoked the order. They came, indeed, like a burst of light into the sick man's study, three of them, dancing, gamboling, laughing—as pretty a brood of merry, graceful grandchildren [430] as ever a conqueror claimed for descendants, or looked upon to perpetuate his name. Those were happy months, at times, despite the anxiety, until the anxiety became despair. For although the doctors had warned the family, there was yet hope of arresting, if not of curing, the disease, and a possibility of arresting it for years. His constitution was good; he came of a long-lived stock; and his nerve and will were what all the world knows. So there was hope; not with so much foundation as could have been desired, but still there was hope.

I shall never forget the frolic with the little ones on Christmas Day. They all came to dinner, and the two youngest sat one on each side of him. He was comparatively free from pain at that time; indeed, for a month or more the excruciating tortures came only at intervals; and on this day he took his own place at the head of the table. The babies were allowed to talk as much as they pleased, and they pleased a great deal. They monopolized the conversation, and when their mammas endeavored to check them, the General interposed and declared that this was their day. So they prattled across their grandpapa, and made preposterous attempts at jokes in their broken English, at which everybody laughed, and no one more heartily than the great warrior, their progenitor. It was a delicious morsel of sweet in the midst of so much bitter care, a gleam of satisfaction in the gloom of that sad winter, with its fears, and certainties, and sorrows.

No one, indeed, can understand the character of General Grant who does not know the strength of his regard for his children. It was like the passion of a wild beast for its cubs, or the love of a mother for a sucking child,—instinctive, unreasoning, overweening; yet, what everyone can comprehend and appreciate; natural, and in this grim veteran touching in the extreme. He not only thought his sons able, wise, and pure; he had a trust in them that was absolute [431] and childlike; his affection even clouded his judgment and turned appreciation into admiration. For them he would have sacrificed fortune, or ease, or even his fame; for them he did endure criticism and censure, and underwent physical fatigue and pain. He rose from his death-bed to work for them, and when he thought he was dying his utterances were about his ‘boys.’ This feeling, lavished on his own children, reached over to theirs. No parent ever enveloped his entire progeny in a more comprehensive or closer regard; none ever felt them more absolutely a part of himself, his own offspring, the issue of his reins.

By the last of the year the editors of The Century had received three of his articles for their magazine and announced them for publication. A large increase in their sales had followed, and the editors, thinking at least a part of this due to his name, sent him in December a cheque for one thousand dollars more than they had stipulated. General Grant at first intended to divide this sum as a Christmas present between his two daughters-in-law living in the house with him. The amount would have been very acceptable to those ladies, but almost immediately he remembered the debt to Mr. Wood, his benefactor of the 10th of May, and inclosed his cheque for a thousand dollars to that friend whom he never saw, stating that the money was the result of his first earnings in literature. Still later General Grant received from The Century another thousand dollars in addition to the sum stipulated for the fourth article. This cheque was the last he ever endorsed, and the payment, beyond his expectations, gave him in the last week of his life the satisfaction of knowing that his literary efforts had a high market value.

About Christmas the pecuniary troubles became more complicated. There was a possibility of some small creditors of Grant and Ward attempting to levy on the famous swords and presents he had received from Congress and the States [432] and foreign potentates and cities. In order to save them Mr. Vanderbilt proposed to enforce his prior claim. Talk of this got abroad and was misunderstood.

At this juncture General Sherman was in New York, and of course visited his old chief and comrade. I went to call on him the next day, and he asked me about the possibility of any annoyance to General Grant on this score. He was extremely anxious, and declared: ‘Grant must not be allowed to suffer this new disgrace.’ He would share his own income rather. I did not feel at liberty to tell what I knew, even to him, and General Sherman's talk in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington excited a great and general sympathy. The result was that a number of General Grant's friends, with Cyrus W. Field at their head, began to raise a fund to save the hero from this last indignity. A hundred thousand dollars were to be subscribed to pay off the debt to Vanderbilt, who it was supposed would compromise his claim for that amount.

But General Grant was weary of the repeated efforts to aid him. Congress had failed to place him on the retired list. A bill for this purpose had indeed passed the Senate at the preceding session, but President Arthur, it was known, would veto it, in order to preserve his consistency, having vetoed another intended to restore General Fitz-John Porter to the army. He forgot, apparently, that the cases were different. General Grant himself said: ‘I have not been court-martialed.’ Mr. Arthur proposed, it is true, a pension, but this Grant indignantly declined to receive. He disliked to appear to apply for public or private charity, and wrote now to Mr. Vanderbilt, informing him of the well-meant efforts in his behalf, but declaring that he preferred not to avail himself of them. He requested Vanderbilt to exercise his legal rights and offer for sale the whole of General Grant's property in his hands, including the presents and trophies of peace and war. He did not feel at liberty to [433] thwart the intentions of his other friends without the sanction of Mr. Vanderbilt, as their efforts would enable him to cancel his debt to Mr. Vanderbilt, but he preferred that the debt should be paid by the sale of the property, not by a new subscription.

Then came the correspondence which has been given to the world: first the munificent offer of Vanderbilt to make over all the property to Mrs. Grant, only providing that the presents should be held in trust during her life and that of the General, to be afterward transferred to the Government, as souvenirs of the glory which is national; then the letter from General Grant, accepting the offer so far as it concerned the disposition of the presents, but declining to receive the return of the property; the persistent pressure of the great millionaire; the acceptance of Grant under this pressure; Mrs. Grant's letter of an hour afterward recalling the acceptance, written, of course, with Grant's sanction, but signed by Mrs. Grant to save the General from the appearance of discourtesy; and the final abandonment of every particle of property he had in the world, to satisfy a debt incurred at the instance and through the outrageous falsity and guile of a monster in craft, who selected the people's hero as his victim and his decoy; the abandonment of the property, and the surrender—harder still—of those monuments to his fame which his deeds had won; surrendered, it is true, to the nation, which will guard them sacredly, as it will the fame of which they are the symbol and the seal.

All this wore on the frame torn by disease and the spirit racked by imputations, thrown off, it is true, but some of which still rankled, like poisoned arrows, that wound though they are extracted; all this told on that body which had endured so many sleepless nights and prolonged marches, which had suffered fatigue and hunger and watchings, and that soul which had withstood cares and responsibilities and torturing anxieties such as have fallen to the lot of no other [434] man in our time; for no other bore on his single shoulders the weight of the destiny of a great nation at the very crisis of its history; no other stood before the enemy and the country and the world as the incarnation of the hopes and fears and efforts of a people waiting to be saved. These labors, endured long before, told now, and made him less able to withstand the shocks of fortune and of nature, and he gradually succumbed.

When the extent of General Grant's humiliation became a common story, when it was disclosed to the world that the house in which he lived was no longer his own, that his books and furniture were held on sufferance, that he was stripped even of the insignia of his fame, while he seemed neglected and forgotten in his adversity by the nation he had done so much to save, then even his stout heart gave way. All his symptoms were aggravated; his pains increased, the appalling depression of spirit returned, and more than all, the exhaustion of his strength—far greater than the disease alone could at this stage have produced—occasioned the physicians as well as the family the most painful solicitude. Dr. Barker and Dr. Douglas had as yet retained the case exclusively in their own hands. They had never deceived the family, but said from the beginning that the disease was epithelial cancer; that it might be arrested, but they had never known it cured. Neither Mrs. Grant nor the General had been told so much, although both of course knew that the case was critical, and both were undoubtedly anxious. What General Grant in his heart feared or expected he said to no human being; not his wife nor his children penetrated to the inner sanctuary where his soul contemplated its fate and balanced the chances of life and death alone. But the gravity of his manner and the dejection of his nevertheless intrepid spirit indicated too plainly that he felt how great was his danger.

In January he ceased to visit his physician. Dr. Douglas [435] now came to the patient daily, and after a while twice in the twenty-four hours. The visits of Dr. Barker were twice a week. The physicians had always agreed perfectly as to the nature of the malady and its treatment, and now were agreed in their alarm at its progress. In fact the earlier stages were past. The phases followed each other with ominous rapidity. The pains in the throat had become lancinating and sharp, the infiltration extended further and further, the cancer was eating into the delicate and vital tissues, and the end seemed in sight. This relapse could be traced directly to its cause, —it was the fresh revelation of his misfortunes, the loss of his honors, the publicity of his humiliation that kindled anew the fatal fires of the disease.

At this juncture the physicians determined to call in other eminent men in their profession. Dr. H. B. Sands and Dr. T. M. Markoe were requested to make a minute examination with the others, after which a general consultation was held. The conclusion was not immediately communicated to the family, but enough was said to confirm their gravest apprehensions, and no announcement whatever was made either to the General or to Mrs. Grant. At the same time a piece of the affected tissue was cut off and submitted to Dr. G. R. Elliott, an expert with the microscope, who, after careful preparation and examination, not knowing the name of the patient on whose case he was to pronounce, declared, as all the others had done, that the indications of the fatal disease were unmistakable. The verdict of science was that a malignant cancer had seized on the system and was hopelessly ravaging the strength and vitality of the sufferer. General Grant was doomed. All that could be done was, not to stay the progress of the destroyer, but to alleviate the tortures that were imminent. This apprehension of approaching and inevitable agony was keener with the physicians than they were willing to betray; but their gloomy manner and guarded words told in spite of them what they were anxious to conceal. [436]

Within a day or two after this consultation a statement was made in a medical journal, apparently by authority, that General Grant was improving, that the disease was not unquestionably cancer, and that care and good fortune might even yet bring about recovery. Mrs. Grant first saw this statement, and naturally supposed it to be the official report of the consultation. She read it to the General, who, like herself, was greatly relieved. The effect upon his spirits was immediate and evident. He spoke of the report to the family as if it was decisive, and even mentioned it to the physicians. But this publication was a version of what had been said long before, at a time when a peculiar phase of the complaint gave ground for favorable vaticinations, and when it was thought wise not to alarm the public mind for fear of the reaction upon the patient. The delusion was cruel, for it was destined to be dissipated. No utterances of the press, even appearing to emanate from his immediate medical attendants, could conceal from General Grant for more than a day or two the fact that he was rapidly failing. His own sufferings, his extreme prostration, the redoubled care and attention of his physicians,—all combined to disclose to him the reality.

Almost immediately after this publication a second announcement was made in the newspapers, this one divulging the exact truth, which the family had not yet communicated in its fullness to their most intimate friends, or hardly admitted in words to themselves. How this statement became public was not discovered, but it mattered little now, for the bitter verity could no longer be withheld. When friends and reporters came instantly to inquire, the sons admitted the danger of their father, as well as the anxieties and distress of the family. These utterances were at once published, and were read by General Grant. He doubtless then for the first time became convinced of his condition, and of the extent of the solicitude of his children. Mrs. Grant also [437] at this time first realized what were the fears of the family. Her disappointment was sharp, coming after the elation of the last few hours, and General Grant himself, it was evident, felt the shock profoundly. No one spoke to him on the subject, nor did he mention it to any one, but he acted like a condemned man. He had no thought before, I believe, that he might not live years, although ill, and with a terrible shadow hanging over him. That his days were numbered was an intimation for which he was not prepared.

He was, I am sure, unwilling to die covered with the cloud of misfortune. On this subject also he was silent to every human being, but the thought added bitterness to his agony. I knew it, as well as if he had told me. It could not indeed but be hard for him who had led the armies of his country to repeated victory, who had received more surrenders than any other conqueror in history, who for eight years had sat in the chair of Washington, and whose greatness had been sealed by the verdict of the world, to leave his children bankrupt, their faith questioned, their name, which was his, tarnished—that name which must live forever. The blur on his reputation, even with the taint of dishonor entirely removed, the wreck of his fortune, the neglect of the Government, the humiliations of his poverty, —these stern images hovered around his couch by night and day, and goaded and galled him till the moment when physical torture crowded out even mental pain.

The country received the news of his condition with grief and consternation. Whatever had been said or thought injurious to him was instantly ignored, revoked, stamped out of mind; under the black shadow of Death the memory of his great services became vivid once more, like writing in sympathetic ink before a fire. All the admiration and love of the days immediately after the war returned. The house was thronged with visitors, old friends, army comrades, former cabinet ministers, senators, generals, diplomatists, on [438] errands of inquiry or commiseration. A hundred letters and telegrams arrived each day, with pity and affection in every line. The soldiers all over the country were conspicuous in their manifestations of sympathy—Southerners as well as Northerners. Army clubs and loyal leagues sent messages incessantly. Meetings of former Confederates were held to signify their sorrow. The sons of Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston were among the first to proffer good wishes to him whom their fathers had fought. Political opponents were as outspoken as partisan friends, and the bitterest enemies of General Grant in the daily press were generous and constant in the expression of their interest. Rivals in the army like Buell and Rosecrans made known that the calamity which impended over the nation was a sorrow for them, because they were Americans. Mr. Jefferson Davis more than once uttered kind words which were conveyed to the sufferer. The new Secretary of War of the Democratic administration called in person; the new Secretary of State sent remedies and good wishes. The new President dispatched the Marshal of the District of Columbia from Washington to make inquiries. Ex-President Hayes and ex-Secretary Lincoln had called long before. State legislatures voted their commiseration; the Queen of England telegraphed her condolences, and little children from all parts of the country sent constant messages of affection and tributes of flowers.

But no sympathy could check the progress of the pale rider who bears his summons with impartial footsteps to the hovels of the poor and the palaces of the great. The malady made incessant advance. The terrible darting pains increased in intensity. Another medical attendant, Dr. G. F. Shrady, was called in to assist and relieve Dr. Douglas. The great fear of the physicians now was of the horrible cancerous pains. They said repeatedly that a speedy termination of the disease was to be desired. If pneumonia or some [439] other quick-ending complaint could carry off the patient in a week, it would be cause for gratitude. This sickening apprehension of coming physical torment aggravated the expectation of bereavement and left nothing lacking to the intensity of the calamity.

Yet it seemed to me after the first shock that General Grant still had not given up. His unconquerable nature rebounded. He looked at the physicians with an anxiety that could not have been so acute unless the possibility of hope had been mingled. He submitted to every operation, he carefully attended to every injunction, and sustained the long siege of disease with the same determination and tenacity he had displayed in other sieges and campaigns with other enemies. But now he was on the defensive,—it was the first time.

Meanwhile his article on Shiloh had appeared in The Century Magazine, and the influx of letters and criticisms from friends and opponents excited his interest for a while. The greeting offered to his first contribution to written history showed that the world stood ready to receive his story from himself, but even this thought could not arrest the rapid concentration of his attention on bodily ailings and failing powers. The strifes of battle and the contests of history sounded distant and dull to ears that were deadened with the ever present sense of pain, and even the imposing fabric of his fame looked shadowy and unsubstantial to eyes about to close forever on the glories and honors of this world.

As soon as General Grant's condition became known an attempt was made in Congress to revive the measure for restoring him to the army. Since the bill which had already passed the Senate and was actually before the House of Representatives would be vetoed by the President, Senator Edmunds introduced another, with the view of obviating Mr. Arthur's objections. This was rapidly passed by the [440] Senate and sent to the other House. There it was taken up by Mr. Randall, the Democratic leader, who in conjunction with General Grant's personal and political friends, and many Democrats and Southern soldiers, made every effort to secure its success. Most of the Democrats, however, opposed it. They were anxious to pass the earlier bill, and thus force the President either to reverse his previous action in the Porter case or veto the bill in favor of General Grant. The President allowed it to be known that he would not recede from his position; Congress must pass the bill that he wished, for he would veto the other.

On Sunday morning, the 15th of February, Mr. Cyrus W. Field, who had been incessant in his efforts in the press and in private to secure the passage of the bill, came to General Grant's house and asked for me. He said if a determined effort were made by General Grant's friends, he thought the bill might be passed the next day; and asked me to go to see whoever I thought would have influence. I told the General of the visit. He was gratified at the interest of his friends, but would give me no advice, and I sallied out and spent the day in his service. I found Mr. Hamilton Fish, General Grant's old Secretary of State, Mr. Evarts, who had just been elected Senator, and General Horace Porter, my former comrade on General Grant's staff. All were willing and earnest; all wrote letters at once to reach members of Congress the next day, and Porter went with me to visit others who we thought might help us. But Monday came and the bill was called up and lost.

General Grant felt the rebuff acutely. Though he had made no demonstration of anxiety in advance, those who saw most of him and had learned to interpret the few and faint indications he ever gave of his personal preferences and desires, knew how eagerly he had hoped, how cruelly he was disappointed. He had indeed looked to this bill as in some sort a reparation of the injury his reputation had sustained; [441] as an official vindication, an intimation that the country still believed in him and regarded his fame, had not forgotten his services. When the reparation was withheld he suffered proportionally.

But he refused to reveal his emotion. A day or two before the decision he declared that he did not expect the passage of the bill; and when the defeat was announced he made no remark. That evening he played cards with his family and displayed unusual spirit and gayety; but all saw through the mask. All joined, however, in the deception that deceived no one. None spoke of the disappointment; and a grim interest in whist apparently absorbed the party that was heart-broken for him who permitted neither wife nor child to come beneath the cloak that concealed his wound. All he said was that the bill had failed on the 16th of February, the anniversary of the fall of Fort Donelson.

The next day he was worse, and in a week the gravest fears seemed near realization. He himself appeared conscious of the approach of the end. He had all winter been considering and discussing the choice of a publisher for his book, but had made no decision. Now he came to a conclusion, and in the first week in March the agreement was signed with his publishers, Messrs. C. L. Webster & Co.

At the same time the family thought they could no longer withhold from his daughter, Mrs. Sartoris, the knowledge of her father's condition. She was in England, and they had of course notified her of his illness, but, in the hope of amelioration or respite, had deferred the announcement of its critical character. But at last they wrote and urged her to hasten to him. After his second relapse they telegraphed, and she started for his bedside. They were still unwilling to inform General Grant that she had been summoned, lest he should be depressed by the certainty that they believed the end to be near; they only told him she had written to say that she was coming; but the amiable concealment hardly deceived [442] him. Though his spirit was broken, his exhaustion extreme, his mind depressed, and certainly at this time weakened, he knew too well why she was coming; but he asked nothing and said nothing.

The decay of his energy was to me more distressing than any other symptom. For the inroads extended beyond physical strength; they reached at last mental power, and even that nerve and force which made the great character the world has recognized. To one who had studied him for half a lifetime, it was acute pain to watch his strength give way, the light of his intellect flicker and fade, the great qualities all apparently crumble. To see General Grant listless, incapable of effort, indifferent to work, absorbed in physical needs and pains,—a sick man in soul as well as in body,—was hardest of all.

The interest of the country still followed him, and, as the disease proceeded, became still more intense. The physicians now sent out daily bulletins, and crowds of people watched the boards where these were published. His friends determined that still another effort should be made in Congress to pass some bill for his retirement; but he felt little interest in the measure now,—the languor had reached his heart.

For many weeks he had been unable to go down stairs to his meals or to receive a friend, and had spent his days in the room which, before his illness became so acute, he had used as a study. Here his papers still remained, and once in a great while he even yet attempted to write a page; but alas! it was not like what he had once been able to write. Sometimes I tried to catch an idea and took it down from his lips, reading it afterward to him to verify it. But these opportunities became rarer and rarer; he had no longer strength for the effort, no longer interest in his work, and at last abandoned all idea of being able to finish it.

Then his sleeping-room was changed. Mrs. Grant gave up hers at the front of the house to him, and took that which [443] he had occupied at the rear, so that his bed-chamber might be next to his sitting-room. At first he objected to the change, but soon his strength was so far gone that he recognized the need. The two great chairs in which for months he had sat, leaning back in one with his feet in the other, were taken into that room in which all now thought he would die. Still, he walked almost daily into the apartment where he had spent so many hours during the winter.

Meanwhile the efforts to pass the bill for his retirement continued. This one Mr. Arthur would sign. It had passed the Senate, and Mr. Randall, General Slocum, and other prominent Democrats wrote to General Grant's family and friends that the final result would be favorable. Mr. Randall had greater power in the matter than any one else, his party being in the majority, and no one was more earnest than he. But General Grant remained indifferent, and this time his indifference was real. He was absorbed in his sufferings, and believed the bill would be of no use to him now. His family, too, cared little for success, save as it might soothe or possibly brighten his last hours. The doctors thought it might possibly revive his spirits and prolong his days; but why, some thought, prolong his sufferings?

Finally, on the morning of the 4th of March, almost in the last moments of the expiring Congress, the bill was taken up by unanimous consent in the House of Representatives, and passed at once amid great cheering. The President, as usual at the close of the session, was in a chamber at the Capitol, waiting to sign such bills as had been left to the last moment, and must fail unless they instantly receive his signature. He signed the bill. A nomination had been made out in advance and was sent at once to the Senate. There lacked but a few moments of the hour when Congress would cease to exist; but Senator Edmunds, the presiding officer, announced a message from the President; all other business was suspended, and the nomination was confirmed amid tumultuous applause from the galleries. [444]

President Cleveland signed the commission; it was the second act of his administration. The news was telegraphed to General Grant by numerous friends, and the same day the adjutant-general of the army notified him officially of his appointment. General Grant wrote the telegram of acceptance in his own hand. He was again in the army which he had so often led to victory. It seemed indeed preposterous that any difficulty should have been made about admitting him to that army of which he had been the most illustrious member.

But the recognition came too late. He was gratified and cheered, but the hand of fate had fallen, and could not be removed. There was no revival of his strength, no reaction from his depression, no cessation of his pain. The exhaustion went on.

Nevertheless his restoration to the army, though it could neither bring back his health nor prolong his days, made a deeper impression on him than he was willing to betray. When the end of the month came this was apparent. All officers of the army are required to make a monthly report of their post-office address to the adjutant-general. I do not remember that this report was ever made by him as General-in-Chief, at least after his headquarters were removed from the field; but now he was extremely anxious to make it, and filled out the form himself, though with extreme difficulty. It was a question at the time whether he would live through the day, and it was strange to read the language required by the regulations: ‘My post-office address for the ensuing month will be’—3 East Sixty-sixth street, New York.

He was still more eager to draw his pay. It seemed as if he looked upon these two circumstances as the seal of his return to the army. No young lieutenant expecting his stipend for the first time could have been more anxious. He sent for his pay-accounts before the time, and when signed they were forwarded to the paymaster, so that on the day [445] when the first month's pay was due the cheque was handed him. At first he insisted that one of his sons should go at once to the bank to have the cheque cashed; he wanted to handle the money. But at this juncture his sons were unwilling to leave the house even for an hour, and he finally consented that Mr. Chaffee should draw the money. When it was handed him he divided it among Mrs. Grant and his children, saying it was all he had to leave them. This was on the 31st of March, when he was expecting to die within forty-eight hours.

During the month of March his daughter arrived, and although, of course, her coming was a solace, yet he knew too well by this time that she had come to see him die. The gathering of other friends also had significance. He ceased now to leave his room except at rarest intervals. One physician always slept in the house.

His suffering at last became so poignant that anodynes, the use of which had long been postponed, were indispensable. The pain was not of that violent character which had been so sorely dreaded, and which the progress of the disease did not even yet induce; it was rather an intolerable nervousness, as unlike as possible the ordinary phlegmatic calm of General Grant,—a physical excitement and an excessive sleeplessness, combined with a weakness that was spasmodic. These sensations were the cause of a consuming wretchedness, but they were not cancerous pains. The physicians constantly declared that although the cancer was making irresistible advance, it was not the cancer that produced the exhaustion and the nervousness, which, unless arrested, would bring about death very soon. It was only too plain that the mental, moral disease was killing General Grant,—it was the blow which had struck him to the dust and humiliated him before the world, from which he could not recover. He who was thought so stolid, so strong, so undemonstrative, was dying for a sentiment—because of the injury to his fame, the aspersions on his honor. [446]

This, now, every one recognized. Every one now admitted his purity, and contended for his honor which it was said was the country's. If the universal affection and regard which were showered on him could have salved his wounds he might have been cured, but the recognition and reparation were in vain. He who had passed unscathed through Shiloh and the Wilderness was stricken by a weapon more fatal than the rebels ever wielded; he who had recovered from the attacks of political assailants and resisted the calumnies of partisan campaigns was succumbing under the result of the machinations of one man.

Still, the sympathy soothed his mortal anguish and cast a gleam of consolation into his dying chamber. It seemed to change and soften his spirit. His indignation at former enemies was mollified by their protestations of pity; the bitterness he had once felt for them was converted into gratitude for their compassionate utterings. The very fire of his nature seemed quenched by the cold shadows of impending dissolution. Now, also, an unfamiliar tenderness appeared, which had been long concealed. The depths of his affection were disclosed; he was willing to express more of his intimate feeling than ever before. It was a new man, a new Grant in these matters that was revealed, as if the husks were torn aside and the sweet kernel given to those from whom it had been so long withheld. All who approached him intimately at this time recognized this uncloaking of certain parts of his nature which hitherto had been so carefully veiled.

But one more struggle, one more fierce battle remained. He had yet to justify himself, to say in person what he had never yet said to the world, of his relations with ‘Grant and Ward,’ to tell himself the story of the deceit which had brought him low. James D. Fish, one of the partners in the firm, was on trial, and General Grant's testimony was desirable. He was now so feeble that it was almost dangerous to [447] subject him to the ordeal of an examination; but yet to vindicate his fame, to allow him in his dying moments to utter his own defense, it was worth while incurring whatever danger. His sons, especially, were anxious that he should say what no one else could ever say for him, and for them; and although in his weak condition he did not appear to share their anxiety, he consented for their sake to make the effort.

The examination was held in his bedchamber. The lawyers and the stenographer and one or two others were present. The ceremony of an oath was waived, with the consent of the opposing counsel, and the dying man answered all questions and told how he had been betrayed. As the inquiry went on the old spirit of battle revived; he felt all the importance of the occasion, roused himself for the effort, and made a definite declaration, damning in its evidence of the guilt of one man's action, absolute in the assertion of the purity of his own.

In his testimony he spared neither Fish nor Ward; he felt that this was his last blow, and he dealt it hard. If he had died then, as it was almost feared he might, it would have been, not only like the old warrior of story, standing, but fighting to the last. He never relented in his bitterness to these two men. The harshest words I ever heard him speak were his frequent utterances, after he knew that he was doomed, in regard to them who had been the cause of his ruin, and, as he doubtless felt, of his end. These he never said that he forgave.

The examination lasted nearly an hour. When it was over he did not at first appear more than usually exhausted. He never showed immediately the effects of any intense physical or mental strain. Not after his great disappointment in February did his strength or spirit at once give way; so now for a day or two he seemed no weaker than before.

But in forty-eight hours he began to fail. He recognized himself the decrease of vital force, and believed it was the [448] beginning of the end. The physicians shared the belief. Two now remained constantly in the house. Anodynes were doubled, to control the excessive nervousness and to prevent the occurrence of the anticipated agonies. One of his sons was in his room continuously and the family were summoned more than once when he seemed in mortal peril.

At this time General Grant had not lain in his bed for more than a few moments at a time in months; a sensation of choking invariably attacked him in that position, and although the physicians assured him that there was no danger of suffocation, the symptoms were so distressing that he could not be persuaded to take to his bed. He sat in one great chair, with his feet in another, propped up by pillows, usually wearing a dressing-gown, and his legs swathed in blankets.

Dr. Newman, his most intimate clerical friend, was with him often now, and prayed with him, first at the request of Mrs. Grant, and afterward frequently at the request of General Grant himself. His prayers had one quality in which they differed from any I ever heard in a dying chamber. He prayed for recovery, for strength, for the power of the Almighty to be manifested, for the Hand to be stretched out to save; he prayed as the suffering in Scripture prayed to Christ, for instant, present, physical relief; for rescue, not for submission or resignation; not for the alternatives of the other world, but that there and then, God would save and deliver General Grant. This was prayer to which every one of whatever faith could say ‘Amen.’ It certainly comforted and supported the sufferer and solaced for a while the family. General Grant liked those prayers, and I doubt not they did their part to revive his strength, to make him think recovery possible. They were a medicine to his drooping spirit, an anodyne to the excited, trembling heart, a stimulant at the moment when the pulse was failing and the breath fluttering.

Very early in April I was obliged to give up my room; [449] after Mrs. Sartoris arrived, there was no other where the faithful medical attendants could rest in the intervals of their watchings. But I still spent my days at the house, and often remained for the night, lying where I could, or snatching sleep in a chair, with Dr. Newman or Chaffee or other intimate friends.

One morning General Grant himself thought he was dying. The family were all summoned. He kissed each of them in turn, and when Mrs. Grant asked him to bless her he replied: ‘I bless you. I bless you all!’ After this he went lower and nearer death than ever before. The pulse was flickering like a candle, and the physicians said: ‘He is going.’ But there had been an injection of brandy prepared some days before, for just such emergencies, and one physician whispered to the other: ‘Now! the brandy.’ ‘Where is it?’ ‘On the table.’ ‘Shall we use it? Is it worth while to bring him back to pain?’ ‘Yes. Hold the Fort.’ And Dr. Shrady administered the brandy, which Dr. Douglas had prepared. It stimulated the nerves, it produced another pulsation. The throbbings went on, and General Grant returned to the world he had almost quitted forever.

Another morning I was at my hotel, having left the house after midnight. At about four o'clock I was wakened, and a note was handed me from Colonel Grant. It contained only the word ‘Come.’ I knew too well what this must mean, and hurried to the house. A hemorrhage had occurred. This was one of the contingencies that had always been foreseen, and it was supposed certainly would be fatal. Every one had been summoned. ‘What shall I say?’ asked Colonel Grant, as he wrote the notes. ‘It makes no difference,’ said the doctor; ‘all will be over before they get here.’ But General Grant walked to the basin and helped to wash his throat, and the hemorrhage proved favorable instead of fatal. It was caused by the [450] loosening of a slough that had formed over a part of the throat, and the slough in a day or two came entirely away, after which the cancer itself was eased, and indeed for a while arrested. The weakness, for some cause or by some means which I have never been able to understand, was to a certain extent overcome. The anodynes were lessened in quantity, and their injurious effects in part passed away. For several days General Grant seemed to hover between life and death, and then came a marvelous change. To the amazement of all, his strength returned and his spirits revived. At first he disbelieved in the amelioration. He had perhaps for one moment a glimmer of hope, but then the conviction overwhelmed him that recovery was impossible.

At this crisis he did not wish to live. ‘The doctors are responsible three times,’ he said, ‘for my being alive, and—unless they can cure me—I don't thank them.’ He had no desire to go through the agony again. For, he had suffered death; he had parted with his family; he had undergone every physical pang that could have come had he died before the brandy was administered.

It seemed to me then cruel to bring him back only to renew his torture; for I had no idea, nor had any one else, that he would live more than a week, if so long. He had said more than once: ‘I have no regrets, except for leaving my family.’ But he was recalled, and from that time the apparent improvement went on.

He still, however, for a few days remained unwilling to live—in pain; though always eager to be cured. He was never afraid to die. Having disposed of his book and his affairs, these matters he considered settled; just as in battle, after giving an order, he never doubted, or wished to recall it. But the fighting spirit, the unconquerable nature, made him struggle still. The dejection which marks the disease, and which had been so appalling in January and February, did not return. In its stead a new phase came on. He was [451] battling again, and this time harder than before, for the enemy was closer. He fairly grappled and wrestled now with Death. Once or twice his opponent got him down, but Grant arose almost stronger in his agony than the One who is stronger than us all. The terrible calm of the fight was exactly like the determination in the Wilderness or before Richmond, where I once heard him say: ‘I feel as sure of taking Richmond as I do of dying.’ There was no excitement, no hysterical grief or fear, but a steady effort of vital power, an impossibility for his spirit to be subdued. He was not resigned; neither was he hopeful. He simply, because he could not help himself, made every effort to conquer. After every paroxysm of mortal faintness the indomitable soul revived, and aroused the physical part.

I may not be thought to lift too far the veil from a dying chamber if I mention one circumstance which had for me a peculiar interest. During all of General Grant's illness, down to the hour when his partial recovery began, Mrs. Grant never could bring herself to believe that she was about to lose him. A woman with many of those singular premonitions and presentiments that amount almost to superstition, but which yet affect some of the strongest minds, and from which General Grant himself was certainly not entirely free, she declared always, even at the moment which every one else thought would prove the last, that she could not realize the imminence of the end. Her behavior was a mystery and a wonder to those who knew the depth of the tenderness and the abundance of the affection that she lavished on her great husband. Her calmness and self-control almost seemed coldness, only we knew that this was impossible. I did not presume, of course, to comment on this apparent stoicism, but once or twice she told me she could not despair; that there was a feeling constantly that this was not to be the last; and even when she wept at the gifts and the words that were thought to be farewells, she was putting up prayers that [452] were full of confidence, and after which the wonderful and unexpected recuperation occurred.

All this while, the public interest was painful. So much of it penetrated into that house under the shadow of Death, that it seemed to us within as if the whole world was partaking of our sorrow. All day through the half-closed shutters we could see the crowds waiting silently and solemnly for news of the beloved sufferer. Every one who left the house was instantly accosted, not only by professional reporters, but by earnest and often weeping men and women, who had never known General Grant personally, but shared the feeling of the country in his behalf.

To me there chanced to come peculiar indications of this feeling. Known to be an inmate of the house, and yet not so near as the nearest relatives, I could be approached by others on subjects which they shrank from broaching to the sons. General Grant belonged to the country as well as to his family, and the country would insist on doing him every honor when the final occasion came. Many public men endeavored to ascertain through me what would be the wishes of the family in regard to the disposition of the great dead; and letters were sent to me to present at the fitting time, offering worthy sepulture. The people of the District of Columbia, through their representatives, declared their desire that the revered ashes should rest at the capital of the country, and the General-in-Chief of the army, the friend and follower of General Grant, sent proffers of a place for him at the Soldiers' Home,—a fitting spot for the last habitation of a soldier. The President of the United States sent a messenger from Washington to say that he would attend in person the august obsequies, and I was requested to communicate in time the probabilities and the arrangements. All these sad secrets were to me especial signs of the universal grief that kept pace with the still more sacred sorrow which I saw; but I was anxious not to intrude prematurely upon [453] the family the preparations for what seemed then inevitably at hand, and I bore about with me for weeks the knowledge, undisclosed, that armies and presidents were waiting to pay General Grant those honors which to himself would be forever unknown.

On Easter Sunday he seemed a little easier, though there was still no hope. I went into his room and found him able to listen and even to utter a few words without too much effort. I had been greatly struck by the universal watching of a nation, almost of a world, at his bedside, and especially by the sympathy from former rivals and political and even personal adversaries; and I recounted to him instances of this magnanimous forgetfulness of old-time enmities. When I told him of the utterances of General Rosecrans and Jefferson Davis, he replied: ‘I am very glad to hear this. I would much rather have their good — will than their ill-will. I would rather have the good — will of any man than his ill-will.’

On the 3d of April several newspapers which had followed General Grant with a persistent animosity down to the very beginning of his illness, recalled in touching and even eloquent words that twenty years before he had captured Richmond on that day. I told this to my chief, for I had been with him on that other 3d of April. I said the nation was looking on now, watching his battle as it did then, and that his fight with disease was as good a one as that he had made with the rebels twenty years before. ‘Ah,’ he answered, ‘twenty years ago I had more to say. I was in command then.’ ‘But even then,’ I replied, ‘it took a year to win; perhaps you may win still.’ He brightened up at this and told the physicians the story of General Ingalls's dog. Ingalls was the chief quartermaster of the armies operating against Richmond, and had been a classmate of General Grant at West Point; they were always on intimate terms. He had a peculiar dog that often came about the camp-fire at headquarters. One day during the long siege [454] General Grant said, ‘Ingalls, do you mean to take that dog into Richmond?’ ‘I think I shall,’ said Ingalls; ‘he belongs to a long lived breed.’

After this Dr. Shrady sat down to write the bulletin for the morning.

‘What shall I say, General?’ he asked. ‘How shall I tell them you are this morning?’

‘More comfortable,’ replied the General.

And the doctor wrote a line about the physical condition of his patient, and read it to General Grant, who approved. I was still greatly impressed by the public emotion, and I interrupted:

‘General, why not say something about the sympathy of all the world, something to thank the people?’

‘Yes,’ he exclaimed willingly, and dictated these words: ‘I am very much touched and grateful for the sympathy and interest manifested in me by my friends, and by—those who have not hitherto been regarded as friends.’

Toward the last he stammered and hesitated, evidently unwilling at this moment to call any one an enemy; and finally made use of the circumlocution,—‘Those who have not hitherto been regarded as friends.’

Dr. Shrady wrote out the bulletin, and read it aloud, when the General added: ‘I desire the good — will of all, whether heretofore friends or not.’

I urged the Doctor to stop just there, to say nothing about physical details, but give this Easter message from General Grant to the world in his own language. Mrs. Grant, however, wished the word ‘prayerful’ to be used before ‘sympathy,’ and General Grant consented to the change.

Another morning, only a day or two after his improvement began, he said to me, evidently with a purpose, that it was strange how undisturbed a man could be when so near death. He supposed he had been as near the other world as [455] one could be and survive. His feeling at the time had been that every moment might be his last; but he had not suffered one particle of apprehension, or fear, or even discomposure. He evidently wished me to know this, for we had once or twice in the winter talked of religious beliefs. ‘Yet,’ he said, ‘at such a time it hurts no one to have lived a good life.’ He had been undisturbed,—he repeated this emphatically,—but he believed any one would be more comfortable at such a moment with a conscience that could not reproach him. A good life would certainly contribute to composure at the end.

The 9th of April came, the anniversary of Appomattox, and recovery was still not assured. One of the sons had a presentiment that his father would not survive that day; but it would have been hard to have General Grant surrender on the anniversary of his greatest victory. Then came another jubilee. His birthday was the 27th of April, and by this time he was so far restored as to be able to join the family for a while at dinner. There were sixty-three lighted candles on the table to celebrate the sixty-three years, which a month before no one had hoped would ever be completed, and the house was crowded with flowers, the gifts of thankful friends. By the first of May he was so well that he sent for a stenographer, and began to dictate matter for his book.

His strength, however, was intermittent, and the cancer soon began to make progress again. Nevertheless, one crisis was past. A new chapter in the disease was begun. He was able now to drive out, and dictated, and sometimes wrote, at intervals during the month of May and the earlier days of June. His interest in his work seemed keener than ever. It doubtless gave him strength to make a new fight — a hopeless one, he felt before long, so far as recovery was concerned. Still, there was a respite, and this period, with his usual determination, he employed in the effort to complete his ‘Memoirs.’ [456]

The secret of this partial recovery is not far to find. It was after the great expression of public sympathy that General Grant began to improve, after his place in the affections of the people was restored or resumed that his whole nature, moral and physical, became inspired and renovated. For this it was almost worth while to have suffered,—to have the world recognize his sensitiveness, and to receive himself its appreciation in return. Few men, indeed, have known in advance so nearly the verdict of posthumous fame. No deathbed was ever so illumined by the light of universal affection and admiration. Garfield had not the same claims on his countrymen, and the feeling for him was pity and indignant grief rather than gratitude or lofty enthusiasm; Lincoln knew nothing of the shock that went round the world at his assassination; Washington lived before the telegraph; and no European monarch or patriot was ever so universally recognized in his last moments as a savior and hero as Grant. All this was borne in to him as he sat struggling with Death, and, like the giant of old, he received new strength from his contact with earth. The consciousness of a world for spectators might, indeed, nerve any combatant; and when he found that the attacks on his fame were parried, the reproaches forgotten, his very mistakes lost sight of in the halo that enveloped him, he gathered himself up for a further contest. The physicians, doubtless, did their part, and nothing that science or devotion could suggest was withheld; but neither science nor devotion expected or produced the resurrection and return of him whose very tomb had been prepared. It was the sense of humiliation that had stricken him and had more to do with his prostration than disease; and when this was removed, he rose from the embrace of the King of Terrors, and flung himself for a while into new toils and battles, and, though wounded and bleeding, refused to die.

On the 16th of June he was removed to Mount McGregor, near Saratoga, where a cottage had been offered him by its [457] owner, Mr. Joseph W. Drexel. His strength had so far lapsed that the physicians afterward declared he could not have lived a week longer in the heats and sultriness of New York. When the fatigues of the journey were over, however, and there was time for the fresh and reviving air of his new situation to affect him, his spirits rallied, and he resumed his literary labor with extraordinary energy for a man in his condition.

I was not with him at Mount McGregor, but I know that his effort there must have been prodigious. He probably dictated or composed more matter in the eight weeks after the first of May than in any other eight weeks of his life; while in the eight weeks immediately preceding that date he did not compose as many pages. But the dying General seemed to summon back his receding powers, and expression, memory, will, all revived and returned at his command. His voice failed him, however, after a while, and he was obliged to desist from dictation and to use a pencil, not only in composition, but even in communicating with his family and friends. This was doubtless a hardship at the moment, but was fortunate in the end for his fame; for the sentences jotted down from time to time were preserved exactly as they were written, and many of them are significant. They especially indicate his recognition of the magnanimous sympathy offered him by Southerners. This recognition was manifest in a score of instances. He was visited at Mount McGregor by General Buckner, the Confederate commander who had surrendered to him at Fort Donelson, and he declared to his former enemy, ‘I have witnessed since my sickness just what I wished to see ever since the war—harmony and good feeling between the sections.’ To Dr. Douglas he expressed the same sentiment in nearly the same words: ‘I am thankful for the providential extension of my time, because it has enabled me to see for myself the happy harmony which so suddenly sprung up between those engaged but a few short years [458] ago in deadly conflict.’ These utterances were not left to a fading or faulty memory to gather up, but remain legible in the handwriting of their author. They form a fitting sequel to the acts of Donelson and Vicksburg and Appomattox. Certainly it never happened to a conqueror before to reap such a harvest of appreciation and even affection from the men that he subdued; to accomplish in his death more of the aim of his life than even the victories of his life had achieved.

He saw few friends at this time, and did little besides write and obey the directions of his physicians, or submit to the attentions of his family and nurses. His suffering, fortunately, was not greater than that of a patient in any ordinary lingering illness; it proceeded principally from weakness, for the opiates always controlled the excruciating pains. These he was spared to the last. He perhaps once or twice had a glimmer of hope, but the rays were faint and quickly faded back into the obscurity of despair. He felt that he was working only to finish his self-appointed task.

For he had an intense desire to complete his ‘Memoirs.’ It was upon the sale of his book that he counted for the future fortune of his family. It was indeed for his family, not for his fame, that he was laboring now; his fame he felt was secure. But at his death his army pay would cease. There would remain to Mrs. Grant and his children, it is true, the Trust Fund, the income of which he had authority to dispose of by will; but besides this and the mortgaged house in Sixty-sixth street, and one or two inconsiderable properties elsewhere, there was nothing; and three families depended on him. His Personal Memoir, it was hoped, would bring in half a million of dollars; but when he had ceased to work in the winter, this was little more than half completed, and the monetary value of the book would be greatly depreciated, if it must be concluded by any hand but his own. This was the consideration that strengthened the sinking soldier, that gave him courage to contend with fate and despair, and, [459] stricken as he was by one of the most terrible of maladies, to check the advance of Death himself, while he made his preparations under the very shadow of the wing and the glare of the scythe of the Destroyer, to secure a competence for his family after he himself should have left this world. The spectacle of the hero who had earned and worn the highest earthly honors, working amid the miseries of a sick-chamber to glean the gains that he knew he could never enjoy,—the fainting warrior propped up on that mountain-top to stammer out utterances to sell for the benefit of his children,—is a picture to which history in all her annals can find no parallel.

Indeed, this simple, plain, and undramatic man, who never strove for effect, and disliked the demonstration of feeling as much as the parade of circumstance and power, was performing the most dramatic part before the world. His whole life had been a drama, in spite of him, full of surprises and startling results and violent contrasts, but nothing in it all was more unexpected than this last scene, this eager haste, not in business nor in battle, but in literary labor: this race with Death, this effort to finish a book in order to secure a fortune for his family.

But there was a key to the mystery, a solution of the riddle, and it is the explanation of every apparent mystery in the character of General Grant. His character at bottom was like that of other men. He loved and hated; he suffered and enjoyed; he appreciated what was done for and against him; he relished his fame and his elevation, he felt his disappointments and his downfall; his susceptibilities were keen, his passions strong; but he had the great faculty of concealing them so that those closest and acutest could seldom detect their existence. I sometimes wondered whether he was conscious of his own emotions, they were so completely under control; but they were all there, all alive, all active, only enveloped in a cloak of obstinate reserve and [460] majestic silence which only at the rarest intervals was torn aside by misfortune or lifted for a moment to a friend.

And now he may himself have been but half aware of the sentiment that inspired him; but since he had discovered that his personal honor was as clean, and his military fame as brilliant in the eyes of men as either had ever been, he determined that his reputation for wordly sense and shrewdness should also be redeemed. He would not die without regaining a fortune equal to that which had been wrung from him by fraud. No man should say that after all General Grant left his children penniless. Away down in the depths of his nature where neither affection nor friendship ever penetrated, except by the intuitions of a life-long intimacy,— this was the incentive that poured oil on the flames which the disease was quenching, this was the fuel that kept the worn-out machine still in motion, to the amazement of a world.

When the work was over, the energy expired; when the motive was withdrawn, the effort ceased; when the influence that was the impetus of the machine was exhausted, will and strength alike failed. Immediately after the end of the book was reached, the other end was seen to be at hand. One or two spasmodic bursts of life flared up, like gusts of an expiring fire, but they probably deceived not even himself, and certainly no one besides. His former indifference to life returned as soon as his task was accomplished.

The country too had no wish that he should linger on in agony. If he could have been restored to health and strength, nothing that the nation could have done to secure that end would have been lacking, or been thought too costly; but now that he could never be more than a sufferer, prostrate and hopeless, there was no desire to retain him. Reverent sorrow and sympathy had long ascended from every quarter of the land toward the cottage on that mountain-top, but there were no prayers uttered for protracted days. [461]

The final crisis was neither long nor painful. On the 21st of July the country was informed that he was failing again. For two days his symptoms indicated increasing depression and exhaustion, and on the 23d came the end. There was no renewed struggle, no distinct consciousness on his part that his feet were wet with the waters of that river which we all must cross; he made no formal parting again with his family; he endured no pangs of dissolution, but passed away quietly without a groan or a shudder, with no one but his wife and children and his medical attendants by his side. He had done most of the great things of his life with calmness and composure, and in the same way he entered the long procession in which Alexander and Caesar and Wellington and Napoleon had preceded him.

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