Bulli books, Adria writes about. He stopped by a kitchen store-the kind found in any suburban shopping mall-and. Bread, souffles, and some meringues are cooked foams that are served stiff. Other meringues, whipped cream, mousse, and sabayon are served. Adria was enthralled. He enthuses in his book about the unique texture and flavor that the Microplane grater gives food. His discovery of this humble tool led to the creation of many new e! Bulli dishes, including. His mission isn't to create a scientific cuisine, but rather to give diners a new experience with food,.
Chefs love the fine-grained texture produced by this Microplane grater. Ferran Adria put this simple tool at the center of several creative dishes. Exotic laboratory equipment is but one means to that end; another is a humble little. Although Adria is known for his exotic and science-inspired techniques, his real interest is in.
Foam has a familiar and very popular texture. Everyone has had a traditional foam such as whipped cream, and most people have liked it. When Adria cast foam in a savory role, he created a new and unexpected experience, at once familiar and surprising. In haute cuisine up to that point, the vocabulary of that dialogue was constrained by tradition. And that dish generally is not repeated after the first season in which it is served. If you really like a dish at e! Bulli, enjoy it now, because chances are you will never have it again unless you make it yourself.
Adria broke. What is the role of cocktails in the dining. The reexamination led to conceptual advances, such as the notion of" deconstruction. This intellectual approach to cuisine became central at e! It wasn't enough for the food to be delicious; it also had to elicit thoughts and feelings. While other chefs might work to optimize the purely gastronomic qualities of their food, such as taste and texture, Adria had a higher goal. Did the food make people think, make them react emotionally? How did it change the dialogue?
Adria 's preferred term for his culinary style, "technoemotional" cuisine first coined in by Catalan journalist Pau Aren6s , reflects this dual goal. Culinary tech-. This deconstructed dish will keep its essence and will still be linked to. In sharp contrast to the overly serious formal cuisine of Escoffier, one of the central emotions that Adria sought to elicit.
Laughing with surprise or seeing the wry humor in a culinary joke is a central part of the elBulli experience. Before Adria, chefs focused primarily on making dishes that were unique in their details-their specific combinations of flavors and textures. Only rarely did chefs seek to make a dish that was the. For this game to be successful, it is essential that the diner has gastronomic turns the concept of deconstruction into mere "construction" based on nothing The result has a direct relationship with the diner's memory, in that although he may not see that he has been served a familiar dish,.
This is the direct opposite of the "signature dish " approach. Many chefs had created new takes on old dishes. Immature pine nuts from green pinecones are another example of innovative ingredients at eiBulli. Many chefs throughout history have created dishes that have an element of surprise, like baked Alaska, but they did not bui ld a cuisine with the goal of eliciting emotion at its foundation. As a resu lt, their most innovative dishes were considered as nothing more than parlor tricks.
This kind of reference is a so rt of seco nd co usin to deconstruction. Self-conscious invention is a familiar approach in other arts, such as literature, where it is com-. Indeed, literary allusions and. Every morning he would greet each cook with a handshake, and depending on the time, a smile. As he approached on this day, I noticed something in his hand. He placed the October issue of Gourmet on the stainless steel counter in front of me and asked me to open to the page marked with a yellow sticky note.
I thumbed to the page, finding an unfamiliar, gruff-looking chef surrounded by floating oranges. Who is this guy, I wondered In a short time, that guy would become known as the best chef in the world. His name was Ferran Adria. Chef Keller looked down at the magazine and spoke softly. His food really sounds interesting, and right up your alley. I think you should go stage there this summer I will arrange it for you. I had not planned very well and had neglected to make arrangements for traveling to eiBulli, two hours north by car.
My stage started the next day. As luck would have it, while walking through the airport I ran into a group of American chefs. We talked for a bit. A restaurant called eiBulli, Wylie said, have you ever heard of it? Needless to say I hitched a ride with them on their posh tour bus. When I arrived with the American chefs, I felt a bit like a leech. After all, I was just a so us chef at the time; they were all established chefs on a funded trip. None ofthem knew me, and furthermore I was there to work. When we arrived at eiBulli the co-owner and maitre d ' hotel, Juli Soler, welcomed the group at the door, and the Spanish official who was leading the tour pulled him aside and explained my story.
I was prepared to put on a chef's coat, right then and there, and start working. Juli walked offto the kitchen, and when he returned he said, "Ferran wants you to eat with the group. I was a year-old so us chef at what most considered, at the time, to be the best restaurant in the world. I had grown up in a restaurant since the age of five. I graduated with honors from what most considered the best culinary school in the world. I thought I knew food and cooking. I had no idea what we were in for. Honestly, none of us did.
When the dishes started to come I was disoriented, surprised, amazed, blown away, and, to my dismay, blind to what was happening. Trout roe arrived, encased in a thin, perfect tempura batter. I shot Wylie a skeptical glance and he immediately returned it. We bit into the gum ball-size taste How did they hold the eggs together and then dip them in a batter. Related techniques with alginate gels had long been used in such mundane items as olive. Bulli to the attention of the world at.
Modernist cooking is in many ways founded on the innovations created at e! Bulli, but this is not the. Adria's innovations could have started and ended in the. Adria has always been happy to learn from others, and his books are quite generous in credit-. William julius Syplie Peschardt filed a British patent in on what we now call spherification using alginate. And how are the eggs not totally cooked? This is cool. There were no flaming burners, no proteins sizzling in oil, no veal stock simmering on.
A small bowl arrived: Ah, polenta with olive oil, I thought. See, this food isn't that out there. But as soon as the spoon. Chefs would huddle around a project like wrapping young pine nuts in thin sheets of sliced beet or using syringes to fill miniature hollowed-out recesses in strawberries with Cam pari. Everything was new and strange to me: the way the team was organized, the techniques being used, the sights,.
What the hell is going on back there, I thought. I know cooking, but this is the stuff of magic. And on it went To me it was proofthatthis was a new cuisine, because none of it was routine. I have returned to eiBulli to dine twice since the summer of. Each time I was in a different state of maturity as a chef and a diner, and each time Ferran managed to make me feel. Wait, how is this possible? Gelatin can 't be hot! The meal went on in this fashion, for 40 courses and five and. People often ask me if the style of cooking he pioneered is a trend, fad, or flash in the pan.
My belief is that every 15 to Still, I walked into the eiBulli kitchen the next day expecting some familiarity. A kitchen is a kitchen, right? Technology, fine arts, design, and yes, cooking, follow. I was ushered into a small prep room with seven other cooks, one of whom was Rene Redzepi of the now famous restaurant Noma, in Copenhagen. He was my ears and voice during the.
A visionary creates the framework for a new genre, others follow and execute, and the residual effects remain, embedded in the cloth of the craft. If we look. See, he spoke French, and I do not speak any Spanish. Listening to the eiBulli chefde cuisine, an Italian chef. The group was incredibly international. Proteges of great chefs eventually forge their own paths to help create a new style. Chefs were coming from all over the world to learn this new style of cooking, yet it did not feel like cooking at all.
The food would be packaged so that it could then be distrib-. But none of these other chefs ignited a movement. At service time, the bags were reheated, and. Patients and other testers found. Next came the Anderson, Greenville, Spartan-. Because the Nacka system did not cook food fully in the package, it was not qu ite true so us vide cooking.
The AGS system took that leap. But the agency did not want to stock spacecraft pantries with bulky metal cans of. Similar experiments occurred around the world as people looked for more convenient ways to prepare food for various institutions. In the early s, two Swedish hospitals worked with the Stockholm City Council to develop the Nacka system. The idea was to centralize the preparation Vacuum-packed food developed by NASA for the manned space program.
McGuckian's insight was that raw ingredients could be vacuum-sealed and then cooked inside the bags by using carefully controlled temperatures and times. The results were vastly superior. The AGS system is the first example of a cooking method, now called so us vide, that is widely used in Modernist cuisine.
The AGS system was not adopted by hospitals ultimately, and McGuckian went on to consult with other food-service companies. In fact, the first meals prepared sous vide in a restaurant almost certainly were served in at the Holiday Inn in Greenville, South Carolina, where McGuckian was a consultant. Commercial applications of the so us vide method began to pop up around the world.
The first appearance in France was in , when hams were cooked sous vide. At the time, French law did not allow restaurants to serve refrigerated food products with a shelf life of more than six days, so this novel approach did not gain much of a following. This case is an early example of culinary technology, innovation, and scientific knowledge outpacing legislated food standards-a theme that. Toward the end of the s, sous vide technology crossed the English Channel to London, where the French chef Albert Roux began a collaboration with Groen and Cryovac to promote the new cooking method.
By the late s, Roux brought sous vide to the restaurant industry in Britain as part of an early quick-service restaurant chain called Rouxl Britannia. The concept was simple: high-quality food could be economically prepared at the Home Rouxl central kitchen by skilled cooks using sous vide technology. The refrigerated meals would then be distributed to restaurant outlets around England, where they would simply be reheated and plated by less-skilled cooks. Unfortunately, for myriad reasons, Rouxl Britannia eventually failed in the early s.
The most frequently cited issue was that the public. Troisgros, and it also led to a collaboration between Pralus and Cryovac. Ultimately, multilayer, heat-resistant plastic bags were produced to retain substantial vapors and juices during cooking. Pralus was experimenting with it for a decidedly smaller culinary audience. During the early s,. Pralus set out to solve a problem they were having with their terrine de foie gras: shrinkage and. Goussault helped con-. These early experiments with cooking sous vide were developed in the context of institutionalized. Although the initial results were not successful, perseverance eventually paid off.
By encasing the foie gras in. The first sous vide meals served in a restaurant likely were made in at the Holiday Inn in Greenville, South Carolina, pictured here in a postcard from the era. But the next phase of sous vide. Part of this shift was due to tireless campaigning and education by Pralus and Gous-.
Sous vide cooking represents such an important new technique that we cover it in detail in chapter 9. Harold McGee's magnum opus taught a generation of chefs that science held new and often surprising answers for them. It was never translated into French and was not available in Spanish until As a result. Georges Pralus The French chef Georges Pralus is often credited as the father of so us vide cuisine in France, although he shares that title with his compatriot Bruno Goussault see next page.
Pralus came up with the idea of wrapping the foie gras in several sheets of heat-resistant plastic before cooking. After some experimentation, he found a wrapping method. Later, he began using vacuum-sealed plastic bags instead. Some chefs were skeptical that food cooked in plastic would taste as good as traditionally cooked food. But the influential French chef joel Robuchon quickly recognized the potential of this new technique and endorsed Pralus.
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Today, Pralus continues to teach chefs and culinary students around the world. His book was featured in Tim e and People magazines and. Publishers Weekly called the edition of the book "a stunning masterpiece. McGee began working on his book in the late s, after studying astronomy at Caltech and receiving a doctorate in literature from Yale University. He thought food science "was interesting information that my friends and I, who were not professional cooks, would enjoy knowing," he explains. Few in the United States were thinking or writing about the.
He has written articles for a variety of publications, ranging from scientific journals like Nature and Physics Today to popular magazines like Food and Wine. He also writes a column on food science for The New York Times. Unlike his previous books, McGee says, "it's actually very ungeeky, very basic; it reacquaints people with kitchens and how they work " and helps home cooks understand "the kinds. Bruno Goussault Though not a chef, Bruno Goussault has become one of the most influential proponents of so us.
Pralus was experimenting with so us vide cooking in Pierre Troisgros's kitchen see previous page. In , Pralus and the Cryovac company. Goussault is generally credited with promoting, in the early s, that cooking so us vide at temperatures well below boiling could improve. Soon after that, Goussault worked with Robuchon to create a menu for the first-class cars of the French national railway system see page. Up to that point, so us vide cooking had largely been limited to institutional uses, and cooking temperatures were held near boiling to prolong shelf life.
When Goussault presented his findings in. In , Goussault launched his own consulting company, the Centre de Recherche et d'Etudes pour. Many aspects of. He wrote mo re than a dozen books on food and hosted a popular radio sho" starting in the s. He followed On Food and. Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas was a Cordon Bleu alumna who ran a cooking school in Berkeley, California, and was married to. In , after lw had retired from Oxford, Kurti began. Kurti was one of the leading physicists of his tinw. The Clarendon Laboratory, wlwre he worked, was nicknamed "the coldest spot on earth" after Kurti discovered a way to create tl'mJJl'ratures a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.
Five more Ericl' workshops Wl'rl' held. Toward the end of his career, Kurti began melding his scientific knowledge with a keen interest in cooking. Valdre introduced. In letters to Thomas, Valdre explained it as being due to a rather odd concern ofKurti's that. Thomas turned to Nicholas Kurti, whom she had known for years, and recruited him to sponsor the project.
In early August , Kurti wrote to Zichichi, saying he was writing at the suggestion ofValdre and Thomas, whom he described as a "mutual friend of ours," since Zichichi also knew her. Kurti was tentative in his first letter to Zichichi, asking him whether the topic of science and cooking might be too "frivolous" for his presti-. Initially, Kurti proposed the conference be called "Science and Cooking. Valdre was. Kurti organized the Erice meeting with McGee and This. The and meetings were organized by Kurti and This. In , Kurti selected Tony Blake, a flavor chemist, to take over his role in organizing the workshop as "program coordinator," working with Herve This as director.
The last workshops, in and , were organized by Peter Barham and Herve This. The only chef who both attended the Erice There is little doubt that This's books, which are written for a popular audience, have brought more people in touch with the concept of culinary science. In that sense, they are part of the broad trend toward greater public recognition of the relationship between science. According to This, molecular gastronomy is. This is a prolific author and has written or coauthored many books, including Kitchen Mysteries ; Cooking:.
For his part, This claims to care little forfood, except as a topic for scientific inquiry. Although he grew up in a family of gourmands, he once told a journalist, "I have no interest in food. The discipline that Herve This! Prnwd "molecular gastronomy " has had a slight shift in goals over the years. This says "the initial program of the discipline was mistakenly mixing science and technology.
Model "culinary definitions. He is careful to distinguish molecular gastronomy from what he calls "molecular cooking" and what this book rders to as Modl'rnist cuisine. He views thl'se two pur-. Collect and test "culinary precisions.
Explore scientifically the art component of cooking. Scientifically explore the "social link " of cooking. Journalists generally don't take the time to appreciate the differences between these chefs'. In fact, the food produced by Modernist chefs has very little, if anything, to do with the. They view themselves as chefs, not scientists, and their interest in science is motivated.
The difference between This's definition of molecular gastronomy and the media's is all the. In , Heston Blumenthal heard of the Erice meetings and tried to contact Kurti, who unfortunately had died a few months before. Kurti's widow, Giana, sent Blumenthal an Erice poster, on which he found the name of Peter Barham, a physics professor. He contacted Barham and began a collaboration that proved fruitful for both of them.
Agriculture and food preservation have been around for millennia see page 6 , but these disciplines were not widely studied as sciences until the 19th century, when canning and pasteurization were developed see Louis Pasteur, page Today, food science is made of several different disciplines, including food chemistry, food engineering, and microbiology. The closely related field of agricultural science often overlaps with food science. Many food scientists work in the food-manufacturing industry, at universities, or in government to create new food products and to improve methods of processing, packaging, distributing, and storing foods.
For some scientists, this means determining ways to get optimal results from traditional cooking and food-processing techniques such as baking, drying, and pasteurization. Others research and. Agricultural scientists study crops and livestock, and develop ways of improving quality and yield.
They also may research methods of converting agricultural commodities into consumer food products. There were roughly 17, people working in food and agricultural science in the United States in Department of Agriculture.
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Research on food and agricultural science is published in dozens of academic journals around the world. That's because food science was mostly funded by industry or by government agriculture departments that wanted to boost the agricultural economy on a large scale. Most of the findings ascribed to molecular gastronomy were discovered in the course of those activities.
There are also many issues that food science has simply not investigated, because they are not important to large-scale food manufacturers. Nicholas Kurti is famous for saying, "It is a sad reflection on our civilization that, while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere ofVenus, we do not know what goes on inside our souffles. And if nobody in industry cared, food scientists tended not to investigate.
It's not like the U. Department of Agriculture or the National Science Foundation, both major funders of academic research, care much about souffles either. Starting in the mids, the situation changed dramatically, as McGee, This, Barham, and others shined the light of science on problems of home and restaurant cooking. The main distinguishing feature of molecular gastronomy is that it does care.
He was born in in Berkshire, England where he still lives with his wife and children. After his eye-opening dinner at Baumaniere, he spent a decade poring over Escoffier, Larousse Gas-. When he could. In asking scientific questions about these foods, Barham, This, and. In , he read Harold McGee's. McGee's book showed that they might have gotten it wrong. Instead, Blumenthal came to question. That, of course, is the essence of the scientific method. None of the party had ever been to a fine-dining restaurant, but since.
Blumenthal is quick to argue that he is no scientist, his skeptical and fact-driven approach to cuisine is. It was by all accounts an excellent meal, which. This attitude of exploration is perhaps the greatest thing. What was less expected was the effect it had on one of the diners-a year-old boy- who decided that night to become a chef. The boy was. His goal was to create perfect versions of the.
Heston Blumenthal isn't the only chef who found his calling via a memorable teenage mea l. For his sixteenth birthday, Jean-George Vongerichten's parents took him to the legendary Auberge de L'lll, a Michelin-three-star restaurant in the town of illhaeusern, located in Alsace. The boy was so taken with the experience that he, too, decided on the spot to become a chef. His first cu li nary job was as an apprentice at the same restaurant, under renowned chef Paul Haeberlin. In addi-. Perfection was Blumenthal's original goal when he opened his restaurant, and he still returns to.
Blumenthal attained his first Michelin star just three years after opening the restaurant. In , when he was awarded his second Michelin star, his career as a celebrity chef was born. He became a columnist for the Guardian newspaper, made a six-part television series for the Discovery Channel, and published his first book, Family Food. He also received numerous accolades from publications both within the United Kingdom and outside it.
Hot and cold tea exploits the rheology of fluid gels, which have the properties of both liquids and solids, to keep its hot and cold sides separate. Meanwhile, Blumenthal's interest in culinary science was leading him to dream up radically new. If Blumenthal had stopped at the perfect execution of old classics using modern techniques, he would have been a great chef, but one with limited impact. Instead, perfection was just the beginning. Soon he discovered that the scientific approach to food offered him the possibility to do things that are new and unique, and he began to branch out.
In one early dish, his. As Guardian food columnist Matthew Fort wrote in l,''lt isn't too. It was still classic pommes purees, but it wasn't like. The journey beginning with. It was a rude awakening, a sort of baptism by fire. Blumenthal rose to. With incredible drive, he persevered and created an establishment with top-caliber food and service. Of course, the next morning the news of the third star was out, and the phone.
This is the culinary cornerstone of The Fat Duck. Though it sounds Shelleyesque, in its truest sense the approach is fundamental. Every aspect of dining must be in harmony. This goes well beyond music choice or decor. For a dining experience to be full, it must ignite all senses and awaken the soul.
At The Fat Duck we enjoy challenging traditional techniques and theories, even those in place for centuries. We don't. Another theme that runs through much of Blumenthal's cuisine is the role of memory and nostalgia. He tries to re-create tastes and aromas that will trigger childhood memories and evoke emotions. Unlike deconstructionist chefs, Blumenthal does not aim to provoke a double take as the diner recognizes the classic dish being referenced. Instead, he wants to evoke just. Blumenthal often plates dishes in ways that help to create this mood, as in his Flaming Sorbet see.
The dish is just what it sounds like-a. In an interesting reversal of Nouvelle cuisine and its emphasis on plated dishes, Blumenthal designs many of his recipes to be plated tableside by servers, adding to the drama of the dining experience. In a dish called Nitro Green Tea Sour see photo on page 74 , a whipping siphon is brought to the table and used to squirt a foam into liquid nitrogen.
Whiskey is poured on and lit to create flames, which do not melt the sorbet. The bowl containing the sorbet is nestled in a bed of twigs that conceals a layer of dry ice beneath it. As the waiter ignites the sorbet, he simultaneously pours a perfume mixture containing notes of leather, wood, tobacco, and whiskey onto the twigs, where it reacts with the dry ice. In another dish, Nitro Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream see photo on page 54 , the server goes through an elaborate charade in which he appears to be making scrambled eggs in a.
Blumenthal also aims to transport diners back in time by re-creating dishes from the distant past. In a dish called Beef Royal , he reimagines a recipe published in that was served at the. He adds what appears to be oil to the pan it's actually liquid nitrogen and cracks eggs into it the eggshells are filled with a. In one sense, this is the kind of tableside service Escoffier might have approved of, yet its shock value and unconventional use ofliquid nitrogen make it clearly Modernist.
Flaming Sorbet uses gellan gel to make a sorbet that can withstand high heat. The theatrical presentation of sorbet at the center of a bonfire both surprises and entertains guests. Photograph by Dominic Davies. The dinner led to Blumenthal's invitation to the Erice meeting. More important, it put Blumenthal in touch with Firmenich, a Swiss food flavor company at which Blake worked as a senior scientist.
The Firmenich contact gave Blumenthal both access to their flavors and also financial support, in the form of a consulting agreement. Blumenthal's influence on cuisine goes far beyond his work at The Fat Duck. He is extremely personable, and through his television shows, he has taken his enthusiasm to a much larger audi-. As an ambassador for Modernist cuisine, he has. These four stories each contributed to the Bits of a squid ink fluid gel float among dill spheres and sprigs in an "everything bagel" broth above and next page.
They felt the drumbeat of that change and sought to channel it into their creative. The very people who sought to remake the style of the modern world somehow sat down to eat totally conventional food-and thought nothing of doing so. It wasn't Inspired by a dish at Jacques Maximin's restaurant Chantecler, Ferran Adria began in to serve soups in an unusual style. A shallow soup plate was set with food in a manner that suggested it was a complete dish. Then, just before the diner would tuck in. What appeared to be a dish in its own right was turned into a garnish for the soup.
The surprising twist was an early experiment in challenging the assumptions of the diner. Today you can find this style of soup service at almost any restaurant in the world. Photo courtesy of Franscesc Guillamet and eiBulli. That was when Nouvelle cuisine emerged, but as we have seen, it was a limited, timid revolution compared to what would happen next. This is not to minimize it; Nouvelle was absolutely critical to the development of all future cuisine, both in France and in many other places.
But the winds of change brought by Nouvelle soon dissipated, and most of the edifice of classical cuisine remained intact. Innovations in flavors and ingredients created delicious food, but the change was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The aesthetics. Modernist dishes take on many forms, reflecting the diversity of culinary visions at work among their creators.
The appearance of the dish is often an integral part of the dialog between chef and customer. Surprise, drama, humor, and even misdirection are part of what makes Modernist cooking so unique-both to make and to eat. Perhaps the most significant failure of Nouvelle is that its chefs were still constrained by many rules,. It must be owned that she had her hands full, that I writhed under her mincing conventionalities of social doctrine, and that the boys played many a welcome trick on her, including the offering of persimmons from a tree in the pasture upon which frost had not yet laid its redeeming spell.
But she knew how to teach, and in school-hours I was interested, and learned to like reading in French, which I have kept up unremittingly all my life since. Washington, our chief shopping-place, eight miles distant, was usually attained from Vaucluse in the family coach drawn by two highly groomed chestnuts with long frizzled tails, in which we jogged over the Long Bridge to have our daguerreotypes taken at Whitehurst's, to order bonnets of Miss Wilson, and to eat ices at Gautier's. To keep us children quiet on the drive, so that the elders could talk coherently, it was grandmamma's practice to smuggle into the carriage Scotch cakes, Everton toffee, and rosy apples.
While we nibbled and munched especially if the draw on the bridge were off and some slow-sailing Potomac craft were pursuing its dignified course down the tawny stream they chatted, and oh! Of the doings at Queen Victoria's court, which these British lined ladies dearly loved to discuss, of Washington social affairs and notabilities, of the dear bishop our neighbor and matters Page 25 of the church in Virginia, of books read, and of events, ancient and modern, in families who somehow or other seemed always to be of kin to ours!
As the war came on the talk grew more solemn. They none of them wanted secession, and were waiting to see what Colonel Robert Lee would do. Sometimes mademoiselle was told off to conduct us upon improving visits to the dentist and various government buildings, especially the Patent Office, while my mother and aunt made calls upon old friends.
Sometimes we children, too, were taken to call upon long- suffering acquaintances. At the corner of I Street and Sixteenth stood a brick house, overgrown with ivy, around which was a pleasant old garden. Here lived a kinswoman, Mrs. Richard Cutts, and in residence with her was her mother, Mrs.
Hackley, sister of my grandmother Cary. My obeisance accomplished to Aunt Hackley, I generally made all speed to the garden in company with our little Cutts cousins, Gertrude now Mrs. Moorfield Storey, of Boston and her sister Lucia. My first glimpse of the radiant Adelaide Cutts, afterward Mrs. Stephen A. Douglas, was in this garden, and the vision smote my heart-strings with delight. And, strange to say, in part of the same garden was afterward built the house where I have now pitched my tent, "a day's march nearer home.
To this kind aunt I owed many happinesses as I grew older, and from her house, years after, I went to my first ball in Washington at the house of my present next-door neighbor - still living in the same spacious mansion, with its wide garden Page 26 shadowed on my side by a noble maple, in which, in early spring, to perch numberless migrating birds, including the cardinal grosbeak, who taps at my windowpane and flits through the branches, revealing his scarlet majesty before the leaves are out.
Better even than our visits to the seat of government, I loved those to quiet, dreamy old Alexandria, where every one of the historic cobblestones of King Street now mercifully broken up, and relaid under a couch of asphalt had some family chronicle to tell me. Because I may not be able so well to express the spirit of the place as it then appealed to me, I venture to quote here the opening pages of a book of my short stories, called "Belhaven Tales," chiefly published in the Century Magazine. Into that collection crept, without my knowing it, so much of autobiography that I have a kindly feeling even for its faults.
Odd enough in the neighborhood of Mount Vernon - nay, under the very shadows, as it were, of the great dome of the National Capitol! At the time referred to, enjoyment for the greater part of a century of the blessings of political enfranchisement had not deprived some Alexandrians of a certain relish for the affairs of the English court. They liked to read the Illustrated London News , and to obtain correct information about the queen's walks with the youthful Page 27 royalties and the queen's drives, attended by Ladies X, Y, and Z. Had they not been fed upon the traditions of an English ancestry, as upon the toothsome hams, the appetizing roe-herrings, of their famous market-place?
The Georgian era of tea-drinking and tambour, of spangles and snuffboxes, of high play and hair-powder, represented to them the Golden Age in the fortunes of their families of which every vestige must be guarded jealously. As children they had stood on tiptoe to study the lineaments of Great-grandaunt Betty, hanging in the fly-specked frame somewhere near the ceiling, and had been eager to hear how she had been toasted at Mayfair supper-tables or had danced the gavotte at a Ranelagh ball.
Yonder beetle-browed warrior in a voluminous wig was a general in Queen Anne's time, before he condescended to his present station above the sideboard. The beautiful youth in armor, slender and graceful, with the fiery eyes, fought for King Charles against the Roundheads, never dreaming that he would come across the seas to find his niche in a staid Virginian sitting-room!
In this wainscoted parlor, where the light comes through small, greenish panes of glass veiled with ivy branching from stems knit in a fibrous mass upon the outer wall, had great-grandmamma, dressed in her satin-paduasoy 'You may see a piece of it upon your aunt Prunella's pin-cushion, my dear!
Enclosed within high-walled gardens, where the Southern sun coaxes from mellow soil jasmines yellow and white, roses in prodigal variety, honeysuckle and other sweet-smelling things, the owners Page 28 of these homes dwell year after year, unambitious of change, gazing contentedly from afar upon that "microcosm on stilts, yclept the great world. From this old-time seat of Virginian custom, the "fret and fever of speculation" have forever fled.
In the line of warehouses along the wharves the quick "pulse of gain" has ceased to beat. The vessels lying at anchor must be haunted by ghostly crews; they give no sign of life. The steamboat that plies her way between Washington and Alexandria seems to approach the wharf cautiously, as if fearing to awake a slumberer. Even the fishing industry - for the beautiful river has not ceased to yield her tribute - appears to move but languidly.
All this has its delightful aspect; and he who would view a lotus-eater in his paradise should watch an Alexandrian darky dangling his legs over the worn beams of the dock under pretence of fishing - listening to the lap of water against the green and shiny piles, and droning away the livelong afternoon until the level sun, which gleams fiery red upon the broken windows of the warehouse at his back, begins to stir in him vague thoughts of corn-pone browning on the cabin hearth at home.
One winter of my early youth spent by us at the Mansion House in King Street, Alexandria, I used to look out, across the way, at a large old brick mansion with closed window shutters wearing a melancholy air of decay. When I asked who lived there, I was told that little girls should not ask questions and I had better run away and play. One day I espied, descending the high steps, the oddest little figure carrying a pitcher in her hand. She was a tiny old lady dressed in an "umbrella" Page 29 skirt, with white stockings and black kid slippers, a fantastic scarf around her shoulders, and, to crown all, a poke-bonnet covered with a sprigged black lace veil.
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Very quietly, with perfect dignity of demeanor, she tripped over to a pump in the neighborhood, filled her pitcher, and returned inside the dismal doorway. Even the street boys failed to jeer at her, and passers-by looked on respectfully. Then, to stay my eager curiosity, her story was told to me. She was a harmlessly mad kinswoman, who lived alone with her equally stricken sister in their old family home, the only survivors of a large household.
For some time my grandmother had taken care of their needs, allowing them to remain in the home which they pitifully prayed to keep. Their handsome father, son of an Irish family of ancient lineage who had come to Virginia, it was said, to make good his losses on the Curragh race-track at Kildare, was reputed to be under ban by the priests in his native land because of his offence against the church of pulling down a chapel on the estate and using the stones to build a banquet-hall!
Arrived in the New World, he had at first prospered, married an heiress, and had many children. But in the course of years everything went wrong with him; debts and his dissipation wrecked his wife's fortune, every son born to them died by violence or accident; finally, they two passed out of life, leaving these hapless daughters overpowered by their sorrows.
One of the sons, with his little boy, died by accidental poisoning at the hands of the family doctor while on a visit to Mount Vernon, and they are both buried there; another, styled "Singing Billy" by the townspeople, having "a voice like an angel heard above all others in Christ Church choir," was, with his brother, swept off by a sudden pestilence of cholera in the Page 30 town. Still another was killed by lightning; and one, his exact fate foretold by his negro "mammy" in Alexandria, perished at the hands of Indians on the Western plains.
While I was away at boarding-school in Richmond came tidings that the two afflicted sisters had been finally removed to a sanitarium. The younger, to her life's end, wore around her neck a locket she would allow nobody to open, and it was buried with her. Those of her kindred who went through the forsaken house collecting their scattered belongings described a scene like a page from Dickens's "Great Expectations" - laces, cashmeres, slippers, gowns, heaped in dusty corners, cobwebs everywhere.
Thus was wrought out the priest's ban in Ireland, and so ended a hapless family. Our first place of rest in going to Alexandria was always my uncle's old home in Cameron Street, called "the Fairfax House" on modern post-cards. A hundred associations cluster around that house, with its brick-walled garden and semicircular front steps. There my uncle and his wife exhaled the kindness and fragrance of their truly Christian lives; there their son, the heroic young Randolph Fairfax, was born; there my brother Falkland died, a tragedy in my young life; and there I was one day to be, for the space of twenty-four hours, a prisoner of war.
The house of the two old maiden ladies everybody in our connection called "my aunts" was another, but less popular, resort of our early youth. It had rather a grim exterior, we thought, an impression intensified by our being bidden, before entering, to lay aside any flowers or sweet calycanthus shrubs we might happen to be carrying. It was in King Street, not far Page 31 from the river, where, in old times, the lawns in that part of town went down to the water's edge, and the owners of ships could see their cargoes coming safe to port, with everything ordered in England, from silken paduasoys to a coach for driving "four.
But she left that quilt to me, so I know the tale was true. She was rather an alarming old lady, we all thought. Her stern Roman profile resembled that of a warrior on a bas-relief, her hawk's eye seemed to be searching for juvenile depravity. At Vaucluse she would sometimes so alarm shy theological students who came to call that they hardly spoke at all during the visit.
The other aunt was warm, generous, overflowing with the milk of human kindness, a walking encyclopedia of Virginian genealogy. She would "comfort us with apples," also gingercakes, and send us out into the backyard to pick up the little pipes that fell from a great sycamore tree shading it.
Sometimes she let us go upstairs to visit a cousin who lived with them, who rarely went abroad on account of her unusual size. This was a very clever, pungent lady, whom we credited with having read all the books in the world, and who bred canary birds. After "my aunts" came to reside at Vaucluse with "Sister Peggy," I cannot think of its long, cheerful living-room without seeing on either side of the fireplace a large beaded mahogany arm-chair containing an ancient dame poring over books and newspapers, which they kept stuffed around their persons as they sat. They Page 32 read, from morning until night, grave books, and all sorts and conditions of fiction, from Madame d'Arblay to George Eliot, when not talking about people who seemed to me coeval with the flood.
At the outbreak of the war, when my mother and Mrs. Hyde elected to leave Vaucluse and go to the scene of fighting in order to be near their volunteer soldiers and serve as nurses if desired, "my aunts" declined to move elsewhere. They were not afraid of armies, nor indeed of anything but mice. They stayed till the place was taken as a United States camp, and when courteously informed by the officer in command that they must go into Alexandria, for which purpose the war-carriage, an ambulance, stood in waiting at the door, the older sister positively refused to move of her own accord; and there she sat defying them, fire in her glance, iron in her veins, till two soldiers between them lifted her, chair and all, and bore her forever from the chimney-corner of Vaucluse.
The aged gentlewomen, finding refuge in the Cameron Street house, lived there during the remainder of the war. The older lady, unconscious of her surroundings for some time before the end, would not rest without books and newspapers literally covering her in bed. Colonel Lee's splendid, soldierly figure was a mark for general approval when, on his visits home, he rode into Alexandria to visit his old friends.
What he said upon subjects of national and civic interest was apt to lead other opinions always. His wife, a daughter of Mr. George Washington Parke Custis, "the old man eloquent," was of kin to us through her mother, a Randolph, and we knew all their boys and girls. I remember Mary Custis Lee, on horseback, accompanied by her little brother "Robbie," on his white pony Santa Anna, riding up on Sunday to service at the chapel of the Theological Seminary; two handsome and gallant figures they seemed to lookers-on.
Mildred Lee was my dear friend, and during a tour we made together in the Dolomites, a few years before her death, we loved to conjure up old Arlington and Vaucluse reminiscences. In one of our walks near Cortina, she ventured into an enclosure where a couple of fierce dogs bounded out, barking, upon her; and I, from the road, beheld Mildred go forward to meet them without flinching, reducing both assailants to the condition of fawning upon her knees, she, absolutely calm, with no sign of the quickening of a pulse.
The peasant who ran to her aid was astonished out of his wits; but he probably had never heard of General Lee, and was unaware of the transmission of hereditary traits. The Augustin Washingtons, of Mount Vernon, were rather too far away from Vaucluse for us to see much of them, for our Fairfax County roads were then, as now, not inviting to sociability except on horseback.
I had a delightful visit at Mount Vernon in childhood, and after the place became the property of the Women Page 34 of America, our cousin, Mr. Upton Herbert, an intimate friend of the late owner, was appointed to be resident superintendent. The most distinguished occasion I can remember at Mount Vernon was that of the visit of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Newcastle, Sir Henry Holland, Lord Lyons, and others, with President Buchanan and his beautiful niece, Miss Harriet Lane, who came down by water and roamed freely about the old house and grounds.
I had the glory of standing by a box hedge in the garden and presenting to his royal highness a basket of flowers picked from bushes traditionally said to have been planted by Mrs. Of this event I chiefly remember the young prince's charming manner in receiving the token, at once consigned to one of his followers to carry, and my own desperate anxiety lest my leghorn "flat," crowned with a wreath of feather flowers brought by my sailor uncle from Madeira, should have gone askew during my previous wild races through the garden.
On a high bluff commanding beautiful reaches of the Potomac, just below Mount Vernon, from which estate it was divided by a creek called Dogue Run, stand in a tangled wilderness of trees and shrubs, relics of the foundation walls of old Belvoir House, burnt down during the Revolution. This dwelling, familiar in Virginia annals as the home of Colonel William Fairfax, of Yorkshire, collector of the king's customs on the Potomac, and the frequent stopping-place of the bachelor Lord Fairfax of Greenway Court, has an especial interest to patriotic Americans in that it was the second home and beloved resort of Washington in youth.
Of Belvoir, he himself writes that the happiest hours of his life were spent there. Anne, the oldest daughter, married Lawrence Washington, and became the first mistress of Mount Vernon. George was Washington's comrade in the surveying tour in the Western wilderness. Hannah became Mrs. Warner Washington, and last, not least, was Brian, my great-grandsire, subsequently eighth lord.
I cannot remember when I did not wish that the family would recreate the traditions of this old home. But Hygeia has been against it, for the old bogie of chills and fever to which our Virginian forebears bowed down so meekly - simply recording its annual return in their diaries, taking quinine or its equivalent and quaking without remonstrance - has never been banished from the spot. My son, Fairfax Harrison, has come nearer than any other to realizing my dreams, for he has established a new Belvoir in Fauquier County, Virginia, upon land formerly belonging to the Greenway Court properties; and upon his library table lies the original "visitors' book" of the Revolutionary home, a copy of Thoresby's "Antiquities of Yorkshire," which, he had the luck to secure from England.
Sold with other effects of the Fairfaxes at Bath, England, this interesting volume had for years been in the hands of the antiquarian collector, B. Stevens, Esq. Upon its fly-leaves are written many names of the frequenters of old Belvoir, appended to "sentiments," mostly in French or Latin. Three great-great grandsons of the original owner recently inscribed themselves on its time-worn record, headed by the present American-born Lord Fairfax, who, in this twentieth century, has become an English subject, his title confirmed to him by the House of Lords in November, As regards the pronunciation of the name "Belvoir," it is probable it was in early days pronounced "Beever," like the seat of the dukes of Rutland, who were akin to the English Fairfaxes.
Colonel Harrison Dodge, the representative of the national owners of Mount Vernon, who is nothing if not exact, so pronounces it, but the moderns of our family give it the French sound. In the small dining-room at Mount Vernon may be seen a fine old iron fireback, reclaimed from the ruins of Belvoir, bearing the lion crest and motto, " Fare Fac.
We and other neighborhood families sat on Sundays in the chapel of that institution my grandmother reserving two front pews in the left-hand transept for herself and guests , the main part of the nave being filled by the students and the high-school boys. Well do I remember when those pews of ours were filled to overflowing by devout female worshippers from Vaucluse - mothers, aunts, and cousins who would not have shirked attendance for the world.
They made nothing of two services and two sermons a day, and if the great and learned Dr. Sparrow Page 37 chanced to be in the pulpit, those sermons were no twenty-minute screeds!
Other professors beloved in our circles were the Rev. Doctors Packard and May; and at a little distance to the left, going down the hill where in my time blue iris bordered the roadside, lived dear Bishop Johns, genial, lovable, and strong mentally, as befits a father in the church. It was the custom of our neighborhood to give from time to time tea-parties to the clergy and seniors among the students. On these evenings my grandmother's table was spread with her fairest damask, the best silver, cut glass, and a service of early Derby china, deep lapis lazuli blue, bordered with gilt, with pink eglantine in the centre.
A few cups and plates of this china deck my shelves to-day. Among the dainties heaped on the table one may be sure broiled chicken and thinnest slices of pink ham were not absent; nor hot Maryland biscuit, thin biscuit, every kind of biscuit, fresh butter, and a bewildering variety of preserves, including segments of watermelon rind carved like lace work, with peaches and quinces in amber syrup, for the clergy always liked Vaucluse preserves.
Next followed a course of waffles, crisp and golden brown, over which one was asked to shake, out of the sifter of Queen Anne silver, a shower of sugar and cinnamon combined. To these reflections, in their turn came Messrs. Phillips Brooks and Henry Potter already in their student days a head higher intellectually than the average of their fellows, and much in demand by Hill hostesses with many another subsequent dignitary of the church.
With the Hyde children and Clarence, I used to peep agape through the pantry door as it opened for the passage of successive good things, and wonder if the clericos intended to eat all night! She had two daughters, Maria Mrs. Wheaton , and Jennie, a great friend of mine. The Coopers, who drove to service in a two-horse carriage with a smart coachman, took the pas over Vaucluse in this respect, since we either walked or drove ourselves in a one-horse rockaway, our servants all having holiday on Sunday, it seemed to us.
Rowland, agreeable and cultivated women both, with Mrs. Rowland's two daughters and two sons. Miss Mason, since widely known for her noble service as an army nurse as well as for her literary works and compilations, was an especial spot of sunshine on "the Hill. Commodore French Forrest, with his gentle wife and his son, the late Rev. Douglas Forrest, once of the C.
It was an attractive house, with wonderful box hedges and calycanthus bushes of unusual size. I remember a dance given by handsome Mrs. Forrest, when I wore a white "book-muslin," with my hair glued to my head with bandoline, then plaited in sixteen-strand braids coiled in a basket low upon the neck, in which were inserted Page 39 white cape-jasmines set in rose-geranium leaves.
We danced hard till daybreak, and I drove home in a buggy with one of the older male cousins without dreaming of a chaperon. Near Vaucluse lived our cousin Arthur Herbert, of Muckross he was like the youngest son of grandmamma's household , who was to go off to war as captain in the Seventeenth Regiment of Alexandria Volunteers, and after four years of hard fighting, through almost every battle of the army of northern Virginia, come back as colonel, with a record of many gallant deeds, and settle again in his old home.
He found the crest of the hill on which his former house had stood bare of everything - dwelling, trees, fences, and outhouses all gone; but a United States fort built upon the site had left behind casemates of solid masonry, serving as fine cellars for the new house. Colonel Herbert married Miss Alice Gregory, of Petersburg, and, with their family, has continued to reside at Muckross - named for the original home of the Herberts near Killarney, in Ireland. Farther up in the county abode Mrs. Fitzhugh, of Ravensworth, the aunt by marriage of Mrs.
A visit I once made to Ravensworth, from Mr. Upton Herbert's neighboring "Bleak House," has been always remembered pleasantly. When my cousin Upton was nearly eighty, he used to make his visits to Ravensworth riding upon a fiery young unbroken colt, and the Lee family would send a mounted servant after him when he returned to Bleak House, with orders not to show himself, but to keep the old gentleman in sight.
At Ravensworth, to-day, lives the widow of General W. Fitzhugh Lee once handsome Miss Bolling, of Page 40 Petersburg , with her sons, and General Custis Lee, who, dispossessed of Arlington, has since made his home with his late brother's family. Time glided by peacefully in our sweet old home, broken only by the necessary severing of links in the chain of life that, by Heaven's mercy, close again to give us courage to go on.
The early death of my brother Falkland, was followed in a few years by that of my gentle grandmother. We had few excitements; occasionally we went to the Springs, to make visits at Charlottesville, Baltimore, or Washington, and to the country-houses of friends. I visited sometimes at the Vineyard, the home of Mr. Conway Robinson, the learned Virginian jurist, near Washington. His son, Leigh Robinson, a brilliant graduate of the University of Virginia, fought through the war in the Army of Northern Virginia, and has since been at the bar in Washington.
I had one journey, only, to the North, to visit the home of my aunt and uncle, the Gouverneur Morrises, of Morrisania. Not only did it seem wonderful to be penetrating to such a far-away region as New York, but I had heard such interesting stories about Morrisania: How it was built upon the site of his earlier home by Gouverneur Morris, member of the convention which adopted the Constitution of the United States, senator, and minister to France during the Reign of Terror - who had known familiarly all the great actors of that awful drama, and the grandees of other countries.
How he had entertained Talleyrand, the Jerome Bonapartes, Tom Moore, and all the visiting celebrities as well as statesmen of his day. How his romantic marriage at sixty with Miss Anne Randolph, of Virginia, had occurred there, his wife having a year later given him his only son, the then master of the house. How this second Gouverneur had in his turn married a Virginian lady, a first cousin. How when Grandmamma Cary went to see her nephew at Morrisania, in the early days after her sister's death, they would drive and drive, and be always, like the Marquis of Carabas, upon his own land!
Now the estate had come down to forty acres surrounding the delightful, mellow old house. Piece by piece, my uncle had sold it for stations on the Hartford and New Haven railways, or else the great encroaching monster of New York had swallowed it by bits. Naturally, I was eager to visit there, and it was a time of unalloyed pleasure with my uncle and aunt and their family of boys and girls near my own age. But nothing whispered to me that one day, after a terrible war that should destroy my own home, I would be married from Morrisania.
And yet this was to be! I am making no attempt to record chronologically the events of my modest experience in childhood. I am simply writing down, as they drift to me out of the mists of memory, things about the people most familiar to me, thinking it may interest readers as a page torn from old- time chronicles of American social life before the war. The two or three years after the reign of my French governess came to an end, were spent by me in Richmond at the boarding-school of M. Hubert Pierre Lefebvre.
As a rule, narratives of boarding-school life Page 42 are more interesting to the teller than to hearers, and I will only say that the experience broadened my horizon in introducing to me types of girls from the higher classes of society all over the South, and convincing me that the surrounding slave service was inspiring neither to the energy of body nor independence of ideas I had been taught to consider indispensable.
Many of these pretty, languid creatures from the far Southern States had never put on a shoe or stocking for themselves; and the point of view of some about owning and chastising fellow-beings who might chance to offend them was abhorrent to me. But they all came out grandly during the war, and after it. In some mysterious way I had drunk in with my mother's milk - who inherited it from her stern Swedenborgian father - a detestation of the curse of slavery upon our beautiful Southern land. Then, of course, omnivorous reader that I was - I had early found and devoured "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "that mischievous, incendiary book," as some of our friends called it.
When the thunderbolt of John Brown's raid broke over Virginia I was inwardly terrified, because I thought it was God's vengeance for the torture of such as Uncle Tom. I was on a visit to my aunt, Mrs. Irwin, in Washington, following Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, while yet arose in many households spirited discussion concerning the trend of national events. We young people had not waked up to a full understanding of the issues involved, nor had become the fierce partisans of after days. When, therefore, my aunt's husband who remained a supporter of the Union during the war insisted that, as an epoch in life, I should be taken to see the new President, I went with him to one of the levees at the White House.
A terrible crush of people, it Page 43 seemed to me, of all sorts and conditions, foreign ministers preceding backwoodsmen in flannel shirts and Sunday coats, great ladies of the administration, in line with struggling women and children hardly dressed or kempt for festal occasion. That was the reception where the curtains had pieces cut out of them for souvenirs by the backwoodsmen, who, it was said, swarmed to Washington in the wake of the "man of the people. Everything faded out of sight beside the apparition of the new President, towering at the entrance of the Blue Room.
He held back the crowd a minute, while my hand had a curious feeling of being engulfed in his enormous palm, clad in an ill-fitting white kid glove. He said something kind to his youthful visitor, and over his rugged face played a summer lightning smile. We passed on, and I saw him no more till he drove past our house in captured Richmond, in an ambulance, with his little son upon his knee.
As Vaucluse lay in the track of probably advancing armies, my mother and aunt decided to send their younger children out of harm's way. Accordingly, to my despair, I was packed off with my brother Clarence and my little cousin Meta Hyde to stop with a relation at Millwood, in Clarke County, Virginia. Consolation, in the shape of lovely surroundings, bountiful hospitality, visits to such places as Saratoga, Carter Hall, The Moorings, Annfield, etc. One of the letters from my mother of this date told how at the last moment before leaving Vaucluse, having no way of despatching the silver to a safety-vault in Washington or Alexandria, she had undertaken to bury it in the cellar of the house.
Aided by a young nephew who was to go on the morrow to volunteer at Manassas, and a faithful old negro gardener, who died soon afterward, they worked half the night she holding a lantern till pits were made large enough to contain two large travelling trunks, into which the silver Page 45 had been hastily packed. The pits filled in and rubbish strewn over them, my mother got into the carriage before daybreak and drove away to the Confederate lines.
Four years later, the house having been destroyed by incendiaries, all the trees on the place cut down for breastworks, and the site used for a United States camp during many months, she came back to her home, accompanied by men with spades and picks. Save for slight depressions in the grass, there was no token of where the house had stood, and many bewildered moments were spent in searching for it. Some hours followed while the men toiled, and my mother sat on the ground and looked on, amid gathering tears.
Any idle soldier prodding the ground might have struck the boxes, she argued, and there was little hope. Just as she was about giving the order to stop work, one of the men cried out, holding up a teaspoon black as jet! Soon the earth was covered with dark objects from around which the boxes had rotted. Candelabra, urn, tea-set, tankards, bowls, dishes, and the complete service of small silver were recovered, not a salt-spoon missing! Sent to Galt's, in Washington, for treatment, they were soon restored to pristine brilliancy.
In Mrs. She warned me in eloquent phrase that our sylvan paradise at Millwood must be exchanged for a poor little roadside tavern on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, treeless, shabby, crowded to excess with officers' families, under burning sun all day, no ice for rather muddy water, no fruit, the plainest of fare, and nowhere to walk but up and down the railway track.
Per contra , the camp containing our boys was but five miles away; we should get all the army news direct; and day after day would see trains thundering by, full of eager soldiers, thrilling and shouting with joy that they were so near the goal! When the battle came we should be nearest it, to do our best for them. If our troops were to be driven back - why, then, we would "take our chance! By lumbering stage-coach down the peaceful Shenandoah Valley, clad in the radiancy of summer foliage, by way-train here and there, passing "the Junction," the centre of all hopes and thoughts, the cradle of the future Army of Northern Virginia - arriving safely and gladly at Bristoe to "take our chance" with the others.
The month that elapsed before the first battle of the war, on July 18, , was one in which I woke up to the strongest feeling of my young life. My mother saw her only remaining son, aged fifteen, looking several years younger, go into service as a marker in an Alexandria regiment. She sewed for him, with the neatest of stitches, white gaiters, and a "havelock" for his cap - these afterward abandoned by authority as too shining marks for riflemen - tears dropping now and then upon her handiwork, but never a thought of telling Page 47 him he should not go.
All about me were women ready to give their all. I realized that love of country can mean more than love of self. In the family carriage, sold later as a superfluity of luxury to refugees and hospital nurses, we drove to several impromptu entertainments at Camp Pickens, during the month of waiting the enemy's advance.
What young girl's heart would not beat quicker in response to such experience? There were dinners cooked and served to us by our soldier lads, spread upon rough boards, eaten out of tin plates and cups amid such a storm of rollicking gayety and high hope that war seemed a merry pastime.
In the infancy of war, the Louisiana chieftain, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, of ancient Creole family, was distinctly looked upon as the future leader of the Confederacy. His name was upon all lips, his praise on every breeze that blew.
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Beau soldat, Beauregard! Beau frappeur! Beauregard, Beauregard! We met there the lamented Brigadier-General Bartow, killed at the first battle of Manassas; General Longstreet, who in those days, before he lost several children at once by scarlet fever, was rollicking and jolly always, looking, as his aid, Moxley Sorrel, afterward said of him: "Like a rock of steadiness when sometimes in battle the world seemed flying to pieces"; and many another destined to high fame. Our Dinner Table. Cheryl Covello.
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