Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/390

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

384 Southern Historical Society Papers.

A. P. Hill, John Bankhead Magruder, Joseph E. Johnston, and other officers of distinction to contribute their contingent to its bril- liant intellectual life during that sanguinary period.


I have never known a man socially more fascinating than Judah P. Benjamin. He was in his attainments a veritable Admiral Crichton, and I think, excepting G. P. R. James, the most brilliant, fascinating conversationalist I have ever known. He was a great social lion in Richmond during the war, and always shone most brilliantly when- ever occasion gave him the opportunity. Mr. Benjamin loved a good dinner, a good glass of wine, and revelled in the delights of fine Havana cigars. Indeed, even while Richmond was in a state of siege he was never without them.

That great and good man, Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, in consequence of his feeble health, mingled little in the social life of Richmond. He went out only among a few friends, but his tender, loving, benevolent heart was constantly doing good offices among the sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. His tall, frail figure fre- quently wended its way through the streets of Richmond with pack- ages of such little delicacies under his arm as he could procure, and when thus seen the remark was always made: "There goes Mr. Stephens to a hospital."

William L. Yancey, of Alabama, was also very quiet in his tastes, but mingled a good deal in the social life of the Confederate capitol. He posessed a finely developed head, with a broad, almost massive, forehead. His eyes were a large and lustrous blue, and his manner very gentle and exquisitely refined. His voice was as sweet in some of its notes as a strain of music from a lute, and would swell when speaking to the deep, rich tones of a church organ. Mr. Yancey was an extreme southern man, and was always viewed by the North as a "fire-eater" of the most violent type, but to those who saw him socially he was the gentlest of men, the most considerate, courteous, well-bred of gentlemen was the embodiment of the highest type of southern chivalry.

Ben. Hill, of Georgia, was very fond of society, and went out a great deal. His nature was pre-eminently companionable, kindly and tender. In his social life he was kind, unpretentious, most fas- cinating intellectually, fond of a good joke, and possessed a most ge- nial nature.