The Project Gutenberg eBook of American Historical and Literary Curiosities, Part 14.

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Title: American Historical and Literary Curiosities, Part 14.

Author: J. Jay Smith

Release date: July 15, 2004 [eBook #7914]
Most recently updated: December 30, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Widger. Scanning assistance from Geof Pawlicki
using Internet Archive Equipment





By John Jay Smith

Part 14.

Second Series


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Original Volume 2,   Part Four

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Plate 21.        Plate 22.        Plate 23.        Plate 24.        Plate 25.        Plate 26.        Plate 27.        Plate 28.

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MAJOR ANDRE (when Captain Andre) was captured at St. John's, Upper Canada, by Gen'l Montgomery, on the 3d of November, 1775, and, with other British officers, sent to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as a prisoner of war.

Caleb Cope was then residing in that place, and filling the office of a Burgess. He was a member of the Society of Friends, a non-combatant of course, and more disposed to yield to the pretensions of the British Government than to engage in a bloody war,--believing that there would still be remaining blessings enough to be thankful for. It was under these circumstances that he offered the prisoners a shelter under his roof, when it seemed impossible for them to obtain accommodations elsewhere. This act required the exercise of no little moral courage, as the populace were greatly excited against the prisoners, and soon gave evidence of their hostility by destroying every window in the house of their generous benefactor,--an act of violence, however, which was fully redeemed in after-years, when the people of Lancaster liberally assisted the unfortunate owner in the reconstruction of his dwelling, which had been accidentally destroyed by fire.

Among the children of Andre's benevolent host, there was one named John, then aged about thirteen years, in whom the former felt deeply interested. He had displayed a remarkable talent for drawing, as the letters of Andre show. This boy was the brother of Thomas P. Cope, Israel Cope, and Jasper Cope, and the father of Herman Cope, in whose possession the following letters and picture now are. All the brothers (including a fourth one named William) were then living under the same roof with Andre, and the elder ones were frequently entertained by him in games of marbles and other youthful sports.

The "Mr. Despard" spoken of by Andre was the Col. Despard who in subsequent years became famous. His name was Edward Marcus Despard, an Irishman by birth, who, after having served till 1779 in the American war, was transferred in that year to Jamaica, and soon thereafter assisted in wresting the possessions on the Mosquito Coast from the Spanish Government. He was afterwards invested with executive power in these colonies, but was superseded in his authority in consequence of disagreements with the people whom he governed. He returned to England, however, in 1790, with distinguished honors; but, unsuccessfully preferring extensive claims against the government, he yielded his loyalty to it, and headed a conspiracy having for its object the murder of his King and a seizure of the reins of government. His associates in this insane effort were of the lowest character; and six of them, together with their leader, expiated their guilt upon the scaffold. This was in his year 1802. Thus did the friend of Andre, though in a different cause,--the one being in rebellion against his King, the other engaged in his service,--meet with a like ignominious end.

I have heard the venerable Caleb Cope say that he had prophesied Despard's fate, from his impetuous and unconciliating temper and disposition. Of their mutual friend Andre he entertained wholly different anticipations; and, though many years had rolled by since they parted, this aged protector of the renowned and unfortunate soldier never failed to weep at the remembrance of his name.

Lieut. Hughes was also, as will appear from his letters, an inmate of the house I have referred to. The B---n alluded to in one of his letters was probably one of the "Lebanon gentlemen" spoken of by Andre, and who, notwithstanding what he says, there seems reason to believe had violated his parole.

I have been informed by one of the sons of my grandfather, Caleb Cope, that another letter was written by Major Andre, then Adjutant-General of the British army, about nine days before his last capture. It was dated at New York, and included the following remark:--"To-morrow I expect to meet Sir Harry Clinton, and make up for lost time." Considering poor Andre's fate, these words are memorable.

Whilst Andre was a prisoner at Lancaster, he proposed to the father of his "young disciple," as he called the boy-artist, to take the latter to England and educate him at his own expense for the profession of a painter. For this purpose (as he alleged) he proposed to sell his commission; and on more than one occasion he stated that he had opportunities to dispose of it. Andre's friends believed that he longed to return to England, on account of his love-affair with Honora Sneyd, (afterwards the wife of Richard Lovell Edgeworth,) and that he made this proposition his excuse for abandoning the service.

His offer (I need scarcely say) was gratefully declined, on conscientious grounds, after the counsel had been sought of esteemed and reliable friends. A most unfortunate decision for both preceptor and pupil!


PHILADELPHIA, October, 1859.

C. C.


You wou'd have heard from me ere this time had I not wish'd to be able to give you some encouragement to send my young friend John to Carlisle. My desire was to find a lodging where I cou'd have him with me, and some quiet, honest family of Friends, or others, where he might have boarded, as it wou'd not have been so proper for him to live with a mess of officers. I have been able to find neither, and am myself still in a tavern. The people here are no more willing to harbour us than those of Lancaster were at our first coming there. If, however, you can resolve to let him come here, I believe Mr. Despard and I can make him up a bed in a lodging we have in view, where there will be room enough. He will be the greatest part of the day with us, or employ'd in the few things I am able to instruct him in. In the mean while I may get better acquainted with the town, and provide for his board. With regard to expence, this is to be attended with none to you. A little assiduity and friendship is all I ask of my young friend in return for my good will to be of service to him, and my wishes to put him in the way of improving the talents Nature hath given him. I shall give all my attention to his morals, and as I believe him well-dispos'd, I trust he will acquire no bad habits here.

Mr. Despard joins with me in compliments to yourself, Mrs. Cope, and family.

I am,


Your most humble servant,


CARLISLE, the 3d April, 1776.


I am much oblig'd to you for your kind letter, and to your son for his drawings. He is greatly improv'd since I left Lancaster; and I do not doubt but, if he continues his application, he will make a very great progress. I cannot regret that you did not send your son hither. We have been submitted to alarms and jealousys which would have render'd his stay here very disagreeable to him; and I would not willingly see any person suffer on our account. With regard, however, to your apprehensions in consequence of the escape of the Lebanon gentlemen, they were groundless, as we have been on parole ever since our arrival at this place, which I can assure you they were not. I shou'd more than once have written to you had opportunitys presented themselves; but the post and we seem to have fallen out; for we can never by that channel receive or forward a line on the most indifferent subjects. Mr. Despard is very well, and desires to be remember'd to yourself and family. I beg you wou'd give my most friendly compliments to your family, and particularly to your son, my disciple, to whom I hope the future posture of affairs will give me an opportunity of pointing out the way to proficiency in his favourite study, which may tend so much to his pleasure and advantage. Let him go on copying whatever good models he can meet with, and never suffer himself to neglect the proportion, and never to think of finishing his work or imitating the fine flowing lines of his copy, till every limb, feature, house, tree, or whatever he is drawing, is in its proper place. With a little practise, this will be so natural to him, that his eye will at first sight guide his pencil in the exact distribution of every part of the work. I wish I may soon see you in our way to our own friends, with whom I hope, by exchange, we may be at length reunited.

I am,

Dear Sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


CARLISLE, the 2d Septr, 1776.

YOUR letter by Mr. Barrington is just come to hand. I am sorry you shou'd imagine my being absent from Lancaster, or our troubles, should make me forget my friends. Of the several letters you mention having written to me, only one, of late, has reach'd Carlisle,--viz. that by Mr. Hough. To one I receiv'd from you a week or two after leaving Lancaster, I return'd an answer. I own the difficulties of our correspondence had disgusted me from attempting to write.

I once more commend myself to your good family, and am, sincerely, Yrs, &c.

J. A.

I hope your son's indisposition will be of no consequence.

MR. COPE, Lancaster.


I have just time to acquaint you that I receiv'd your letter by Mrs. Callender, with my young friend's drawings, which persuade me he is much improv'd, and that he has not been idle. He must take particular care in forming the features in faces, and in copying hands exactly. He shou'd now and then copy things from the life, and then compare the proportions with what prints he may have or what rules he may have remember'd. With respect to his shading with Indian ink, the anatomical figure is tolerably well done; but he wou'd find his work smoother and softer were he to lay the shades on more gradually, not blackening the darkest at once, but by washing them over repeatedly, and never till the paper is quite dry. The figure is very well drawn.

Capt. Campbell, who is the bearer of this letter, will probably, when at Lancaster, be able to judge what likelyhood there is of an exchange of prisoners, which we are told is to take place immediately. If this shou'd be without foundation, I shou'd be very glad to see your son here. Of this you may speak with Captn Campbell; and, if you shou'd determine upon it, let me know it a few days beforehand, when I shall take care to settle matters for his reception.

I am,

Dear Sir,

Your most humble servt,


CARLISLE, the 11th Oct., 1776.

My best comps, if you please, to your family, and particularly to John. Mr. Despard begs to be remembered to you.

To Mr. CALEB COPE, Lancaster.


I cannot miss the opportunity I have of writing to you by Mr. Slough, to take leave of yourself and family, and transmit to you my sincere wishes for your welfare. We are on our road, (as we believe, to be exchang'd,) and, however happy this prospect may make me, it doth not render me less warm in the fate of those persons in this country for whom I had conceiv'd a regard. I trust, on your side, you will do me the justice to remember me with some good will, and that you will be persuaded I shall be happy if an occasion shall offer of my giving your son some further hints in the art for which he has so happy a turn. Desire him, if you please, to commit my name and my friendship for him to his memory, and assure him from me that, if he only brings diligence to her assistance, Nature has open'd him a path to fortune and reputation, and that he may hope in a few years to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Perhaps the face of affairs may so far change that he may once more be within my reach, when it will be a very great pleasure to me to give him what assistance I can.

My best compliment, as well as Mr. Despard's, to Mrs. Cope and the rest of your family. I am truly,

Dear Sir,

Your most obedt and humbl servant,

READING, the 2d Dec., 1776. J. ANDRE.

Mr. CALEB COPE, Lancaster.