Project Gutenberg's Real Soldiers of Fortune, by Richard Harding Davis

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statesman and a gentleman. As a "crank" letter he turned it over to the

Washington correspondents. You can imagine what they did with it.
The day following the reporters in New York swept down upon the

chancellery and upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was the "silly

season" in August, there was no real news in town, and the troubles of

De la Boissiere were allowed much space.

They laughed at him and at his king, at his chancellery, at his broken

English, at his "grave and courtly manners," even at his clothes. But in

spite of the ridicule, between the lines you could read that to the man

himself it all was terribly real.

I had first heard of the island of Trinidad from two men I knew

who spent three months on it searching for the treasure, and when

Harden-Hickey proclaimed himself lord of the island, through the papers

I had carefully followed his fortunes. So, partly out of curiosity and

partly out of sympathy, I called at the chancellery.
I found it in a brownstone house, in a dirty neighborhood just west of

Seventh Avenue, and of where now stands the York Hotel. Three weeks ago

I revisited it and found it unchanged. At the time of my first visit,

on the jamb of the front door was pasted a piece of paper on which

was written in the handwriting of De la Boissiere: "Chancellerie de la

Principaute de Trinidad."

The chancellery was not exactly in its proper setting. On its door-step

children of the tenements were playing dolls with clothes-pins; in the

street a huckster in raucous tones was offering wilted cabbages to women

in wrappers leaning from the fire escapes; the smells and the heat of

New York in midsummer rose from the asphalt. It was a far cry to the

wave-swept island off the coast of Brazil.

De la Boissiere received me with distrust. The morning papers had made

him man-shy; but, after a few "Your Excellencies" and a respectful

inquiry regarding "His Royal Highness," his confidence revived. In the

situation he saw nothing humorous, not even in an announcement on the

wall which read: "Sailings to Trinidad." Of these there were _two_; on

March 1, and on October 1. On the table were many copies of the

royal proclamation, the postage-stamps of the new government, the

thousand-franc bonds, and, in pasteboard boxes, the gold and red

enamelled crosses of the Order of Trinidad.
He talked to me frankly and fondly of Prince James. Indeed, I never

met any man who knew Harden-Hickey well who did not speak of him with

aggressive loyalty. If at his eccentricities they smiled, it was with

the smile of affection. It was easy to see De la Boissiere regarded him

not only with the affection of a friend, but with the devotion of a

true subject. In his manner he himself was courteous, gentle, and so

distinguished that I felt as though I were enjoying, on intimate terms,

an audience with one of the prime-ministers of Europe.

And he, on his part, after the ridicule of the morning papers, to have

any one with outward seriousness accept his high office and his king,

was, I believe, not ungrateful.
I told him I wished to visit Trinidad, and in that I was quite serious.

The story of an island filled with buried treasure, and governed by a

king, whose native subjects were turtles and seagulls, promised to make

interesting writing.

The count was greatly pleased. I believe in me he saw his first

bona-fide settler, and when I rose to go he even lifted one of

the crosses of Trinidad and, before my envious eyes, regarded it


Perhaps, had he known that of all decorations it was the one I

most desired; had I only then and there booked my passage, or sworn

allegiance to King James, who knows but that to-day I might be a

chevalier, with my name in the "Book of Gold"? But instead of bending

the knee, I reached for my hat; the count replaced the cross in its

pasteboard box, and for me the psychological moment had passed.

Others, more deserving of the honor, were more fortunate. Among my

fellow-reporters who, like myself, came to scoff, and remained to pray,

was Henri Pene du Bois, for some time, until his recent death, the

brilliant critic of art and music of the _American_. Then he was on

the _Times_, and Henry N. Cary, now of the _Morning Telegraph_, was his

managing editor.

When Du Bois reported to Cary on his assignment, he said: "There is

nothing funny in that story. It's pathetic. Both those men are in

earnest. They are convinced they are being robbed of their rights. Their

only fault is that they have imagination, and that the rest of us lack

it. That's the way it struck me, and that's the way the story ought to

be written."

"Write it that way," said Cary.
So, of all the New York papers, the _Times_, for a brief period, became

the official organ of the Government of James the First, and in time

Cary and Du Bois were created Chevaliers of the Order of Trinidad, and

entitled to wear uniforms "Similar to those of the Chamberlains of the

Court, save that the buttons bear the impress of the Royal Crown."
The attack made by Great Britain and Brazil upon the independence of the

principality, while it left Harden-Hickey in the position of a king in

exile, brought him at once another crown, which, by those who offered

it to him, was described as of incomparably greater value than that of

In the first instance the man had sought the throne; in this case the

throne sought the man.

In 1893 in San Francisco, Ralston J. Markowe, a lawyer and a one-time

officer of artillery in the United States army, gained renown as one

of the Morrow filibustering expedition which attempted to overthrow the

Dole government in the Hawaiian Isles and restore to the throne Queen

Liliuokalani. In San Francisco Markowe was nicknamed the "Prince of

Honolulu," as it was understood, should Liliuokalani regain her

crown, he would be rewarded with some high office. But in the star

of Liliuokalani, Markowe apparently lost faith, and thought he saw

in Harden-Hickey timber more suitable for king-making. Accordingly,

twenty-four days after the "protest" was sent to our State Department,

Markowe switched his allegiance to Harden-Hickey, and to him addressed

the following letter:

"SAN FRANCISCO, August 26, 1895.
"Monseigneur--Your favor of August 16 has been received.
"1. I am the duly authorized agent of the Royalist party in so far as

it is possible for any one to occupy that position under existing

circumstances. With the Queen in prison and absolutely cut off from

all communication with her friends, it is out of the question for me to

carry anything like formal credentials.
"2. Alienating any part of the territory cannot give rise to any

constitutional questions, for the reason that the constitutions, like

the land tenures, are in a state of such utter confusion that only a

strong hand can unravel them, and the restoration will result in the

establishment of a strong military government. If I go down with the

expedition I have organized I shall be in full control of the situation

and in a position to carry out all my contracts.
"3. It is the island of Kauai on which I propose to establish you as an

independent sovereign.

"4. My plan is to successively occupy all the islands, leaving the

capital to the last. When the others have fallen, the capital, being cut

off from all its resources, will be easily taken, and may very likely

fall without effort. I don't expect in any case to have to fortify

myself or to take the defensive, or to have to issue a call to arms, as

I shall have an overwhelming force to join me at once, in addition to

those who go with me, who by themselves will be sufficient to carry

everything before them without active cooperation from the people there.

"5. The Government forces consist of about 160 men and boys, with very

imperfect military training, and of whom about forty are officers. They

are organized as infantry. There are also about 600 citizens enrolled

as a reserve guard, who may be called upon in case of an emergency,

and about 150 police. We can fully rely upon the assistance of all the

police and from one-quarter to one-half of the other troops. And of the

remainder many will under no circumstances engage in a sharp fight in

defense of the present government. There are now on the island plenty

of men and arms to accomplish our purpose, and if my expedition does

not get off very soon the people there will be organized to do the work

without other assistance from here than the direction of a few leaders,

of which they stand more in need than anything else.

"6. The tonnage of the vessel is 146. She at present has berth-room for

twenty men, but bunks can be arranged in the hold for 256 more, with

provision for ample ventilation. She has one complete set of sails and

two extra spars. The remaining information in regard to her I will have

to obtain and send you to-morrow. I think it must be clear to you that

the opportunity now offered you will be of incomparably greater value

at once than Trinidad would ever be. Still hoping that I may have an

interview with you at an early date, respectfully yours,

What Harden-Hickey thought of this is not known, but as two weeks before

he received it he had written Markowe, asking him by what authority he

represented the Royalists of Honolulu, it seems evident that when the

crown of Hawaii was first proffered him he did not at once spurn it.

He now was in the peculiar position of being a deposed king of an island

in the South Atlantic, which had been taken from him, and king-elect of

an island in the Pacific, which was his if he could take it.
This was in August of 1895. For the two years following, Harden-Hickey

was a soldier of misfortunes. Having lost his island kingdom, he could

no longer occupy himself with plans for its improvement. It had been

his toy. They had taken it from him, and the loss and the ridicule which

followed hurt him bitterly.
And for the lands he really owned in Mexico and California, and which,

if he were to live in comfort, it was necessary he should sell, he

could find no purchaser; and, moreover, having quarrelled with his

father-in-law, he had cut off his former supply of money. The need of it

pinched him cruelly.
The advertised cause of this quarrel was sufficiently characteristic

to be the real one. Moved by the attack of Great Britain upon his

principality, Harden-Hickey decided upon reprisals. It must be

remembered that always he was more Irish than French. On paper

he organized an invasion of England from Ireland, the home of his

ancestors. It was because Flagler refused to give him money for this

adventure that he broke with him. His friends say this was the real

reason of the quarrel, which was a quarrel on the side of Harden-Hickey

And there were other, more intimate troubles. While not separated from

his wife, he now was seldom in her company. When the Baroness was in

Paris, Harden-Hickey was in San Francisco; when she returned to San

Francisco, he was in Mexico. The fault seems to have been his. He was

greatly admired by pretty women. His daughter by his first wife, now a

very beautiful girl of sixteen, spent much time with her stepmother;

and when not on his father's ranch in Mexico, his son also, for months

together, was at her side. The husband approved of this, but he himself

saw his wife infrequently. Nevertheless, early in the spring of 1898,

the Baroness leased a house in Brockton Square, in Riverside, Cal.,

where it was understood by herself and by her friends her husband would

join her. At that time in Mexico he was trying to dispose of a large

tract of land. Had he been able to sell it, the money for a time would

have kept one even of his extravagances contentedly rich. At least,

he would have been independent of his wife and of her father. Up to

February of 1898 his obtaining this money seemed probable.

Early in that month the last prospective purchaser decided not to buy.
There is no doubt that had Harden-Hickey then turned to his

father-in-law, that gentleman, as he had done before, would have opened

an account for him.
But the Prince of Trinidad felt he could no longer beg, even for the

money belonging to his wife, from the man he had insulted. He could no

longer ask his wife to intercede for him. He was without money of his

own, with out the means of obtaining it; from his wife he had ceased to

expect even sympathy, and from the world he knew, the fact that he was

a self-made king caused him always to be pointed out with ridicule as a

charlatan, as a jest.
The soldier of varying fortunes, the duellist and dreamer, the devout

Catholic and devout Buddhist, saw the forty-third year of his life only

as the meeting-place of many fiascos.
His mind was tormented with imaginary wrongs, imaginary slights,

imaginary failures.

This young man, who could paint pictures, write books, organize colonies

oversea, and with a sword pick the buttons from a waistcoat, forgot the

twenty good years still before him; forgot that men loved him for the

mistakes he had made; that in parts of the great city of Paris his name

was still spoken fondly, still was famous and familiar.
In his book on the "Ethics of Suicide," for certain hard places in life

he had laid down an inevitable rule of conduct.

As he saw it he had come to one of those hard places, and he would not

ask of others what he himself would not perform.

From Mexico he set out for California, but not to the house his wife had

prepared for him.

Instead, on February 9, 1898, at El Paso, he left the train and

registered at a hotel.

At 7.30 in the evening he went to his room, and when, on the following

morning, they kicked in the door, they found him stretched rigidly upon

the bed, like one lying in state, with, near his hand, a half-emptied

bottle of poison.

On a chair was pinned this letter to his wife:
"My DEAREST,--No news from you, although you have had plenty of time to

write. Harvey has written me that he has no one in view at present to

buy my land. Well, I shall have tasted the cup of bitterness to the very

dregs, but I do not complain. Good-by. I forgive you your conduct toward

me and trust you will be able to forgive yourself. I prefer to be a dead

gentleman to a living blackguard like your father."

And when they searched his open trunk for something that might identify

the body on the bed, they found the crown of Trinidad.

You can imagine it: the mean hotel bedroom, the military figure with

its white face and mustache, "_a la_ Louis Napoleon," at rest upon the

pillow, the startled drummers and chambermaids peering in from the hall,

and the landlord, or coroner, or doctor, with a bewildered countenance,

lifting to view the royal crown of gilt and velvet.
The other actors in this, as Harold Frederic called it, "Opera Bouffe

Monarchy," are still living.

The Baroness Harden-Hickey makes her home in this country.
The Count de la Boissiere, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, is still a

leader of the French colony in New York, and a prosperous commission

merchant with a suite of offices on Fifty-fourth Street. By the will of

Harden-Hickey he is executor of his estate, guardian of his children,

and what, for the purpose of this article, is of more importance, in

his hands lies the future of the kingdom of Trinidad. When Harden-Hickey

killed himself the title to the island was in dispute. Should young

Harden-Hickey wish to claim it, it still would be in dispute. Meanwhile,

by the will of the First James, De la Boissiere is appointed perpetual

regent, a sort of "receiver," and executor of the principality.

To him has been left a royal decree signed and sealed, but blank. In the

will the power to fill in this blank with a statement showing the final

disposition of the island has been bestowed upon De la Boissiere.
So, some day, he may proclaim the accession of a new king, and give a

new lease of life to the kingdom of which Harden-Hickey dreamed.

But unless his son, or wife, or daughter should assert his or her

rights, which is not likely to happen, so ends the dynasty of James the

First of Trinidad, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire.
To the wise ones in America he was a fool, and they laughed at him; to

the wiser ones, he was a clever rascal who had evolved a new real-estate

scheme and was out to rob the people--and they respected him. To my

mind, of them all, Harden-Hickey was the wisest.

Granted one could be serious, what could be more delightful than to be

your own king on your own island?

The comic paragraphers, the business men of "hard, common sense," the

captains of industry who laughed at him and his national resources

of buried treasure, turtles' eggs, and guano, with his body-guard of

Zouaves and his Grand Cross of Trinidad, certainly possessed many things

that Harden-Hickey lacked. But they in turn lacked the things that made

him happy; the power to "make believe," the love of romance, the touch

of adventure that plucked him by the sleeve.
When, as boys, we used to say: "Let's pretend we're pirates," as a man,

Harden-Hickey begged: "Let's pretend I'm a king."

But the trouble was, the other boys had grown up and would not pretend.
For some reason his end always reminds me of the closing line of

Pinero's play, when the adventuress, Mrs. Tanqueray, kills herself, and

her virtuous stepchild says: "If we had only been kinder!"


IN the strict sense of the phrase, a soldier of fortune is a man who for

pay, or for the love of adventure, fights under the flag of any country.

In the bigger sense he is the kind of man who in any walk of life makes

his own fortune, who, when he sees it coming, leaps to meet it, and

turns it to his advantage.
Than Winston Spencer Churchill to-day there are few young men--and he is

a very young man--who have met more varying fortunes, and none who has

more frequently bent them to his own advancement. To him it has been

indifferent whether, at the moment, the fortune seemed good or evil, in

the end always it was good.
As a boy officer, when other subalterns were playing polo, and at the

Gaiety Theatre attending night school, he ran away to Cuba and fought

with the Spaniards. For such a breach of military discipline, any other

officer would have been court-martialled. Even his friends feared that

by his foolishness his career in the army was at an end. Instead, his

escapade was made a question in the House of Commons, and the fact

brought him such publicity that the _Daily Graphic_ paid him handsomely

to write on the Cuban Revolution, and the Spanish Government rewarded

him with the Order of Military Merit.
At the very outbreak of the Boer war he was taken prisoner. It seemed

a climax of misfortune. With his brother officers he had hoped in that

campaign to acquit himself with credit, and that he should lie inactive

in Pretoria appeared a terrible calamity. To the others who, through

many heart-breaking months, suffered imprisonment, it continued to be

a calamity. But within six weeks of his capture Churchill escaped, and,

after many adventures, rejoined his own army to find that the calamity

had made him a hero.

When after the battle of Omdurman, in his book on "The River War," he

attacked Lord Kitchener, those who did not like him, and they were many,

said: "That's the end of Winston in the army. He'll never get another

chance to criticise K. of K."

But only two years later the chance came, when, no longer a subaltern,

but as a member of the House of Commons, he patronized Kitchener by

defending him from the attacks of others.
Later, when his assaults upon the leaders of his own party closed to

him, even in his own constituency, the Conservative debating clubs,

again his ill-wishers said: "This _is_ the end. He has ridiculed those

who sit in high places. He has offended his cousin and patron, the Duke

of Marlborough. Without political friends, without the influence and

money of the Marlborough family he is a political nonentity." That was

eighteen months ago. To-day, at the age of thirty-two, he is one of the

leaders of the Government party, Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and

with the Liberals the most popular young man in public life.
Only last Christmas, at a banquet, Sir Edward Grey, the new Foreign

Secretary, said of him: "Mr. Winston Churchill has achieved distinction

in at least five different careers--as a soldier, a war correspondent,

a lecturer, an author, and last, but not least, as a politician. I

have understated it even now, for he has achieved two careers as a

politician--one on each side of the House. His first career on the

Government side was a really distinguished career. I trust the second

will be even more distinguished--and more prolonged. The remarkable

thing is that he has done all this when, unless appearances very much

belie him, he has not reached the age of sixty-four, which is the

minimum age at which the politician ceases to be young."
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born thirty-two years ago, in

November, 1874. By birth he is half-American. His father was Lord

Randolph Churchill, and his mother was Jennie Jerome, of New York.

On the father's side he is the grandchild of the seventh Duke of

Marlborough, on the distaff side, of Leonard Jerome.
To a student of heredity it would be interesting to try and discover

from which of these ancestors Churchill drew those qualities which in

him are most prominent, and which have led to his success.
What he owes to his father and mother it is difficult to overestimate,

almost as difficult as to overestimate what he has accomplished by his

own efforts.
He was not a child born a full-grown genius of commonplace parents.

Rather his fate threatened that he should always be known as the son

of his father. And certainly it was asking much of a boy that he should

live up to a father who was one of the most conspicuous, clever, and

erratic statesmen of the later Victorian era, and a mother who is as

brilliant as she is beautiful.

For at no time was the American wife content to be merely ornamental.

Throughout the political career of her husband she was his helpmate, and

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