AN ACCOUNT OF THE MEETING OF 1873
Captain Macklin. Richard Harding Davis.
Scribner's & Sons.
My grandfather was a member of the Aztec Club, which
was organized during the occupation of the City of Mexico by the American officers who had stormed
the capital; and on the occasion of one of its annual meetings, which that year was held in Philadelphia,
I was permitted to accompany him to that city. It was the longest journey from home I had ever taken,
and each incident of it is still clearly fixed in my mind.
The event of the reunion was a dinner given at the house
of General Patterson, and on the morning before the dinner the members of the Club were invited to
assemble in the garden which surrounded his house. To this meeting my grandfather conducted me,
and I found myself surrounded by the very men of whom he had so often spoken.
I was very frightened, and I confess I was surprised and
greatly disappointed also to find that they were old and gray-haired men, and not the young and
dashing warriors he had described. General Patterson alone did not disappoint me, for even at that
late date he wore a blue coat with brass buttons and a buff waistcoat and high black stock. He had
a strong, fine profile and was smooth shaven. I remember I found him exactly my ideal of the Duke
of Wellington; for though I was only then ten or twelve years of age, I had my own ideas about
every soldier from Alexander and Von Moltke to our own Captain Custer.
It was in the garden behind the Patterson house that we
met the General, and he alarmed me very much by pulling my shoulders back and asking me my age,
and whether or not I expected to be as brave a soldier as my grandfather, to which latter question
I said, "Yes, General," and then could have cried with mortification, for all of the great soldiers laughed
at me. One of them turned, and said to the only one who was seated, "That is Hamilton's grandson."
The man who was seated did not impress me very much. He was younger than the others. He wore
a black suit and a black tie, and the three upper buttons of his waistcoat were unfastened. His beard
was close-cropped, like a blacking-brush, and he was chewing on a cigar that had burned so far
down that I remember wondering why it did not scorch his mustache. And then, as I stood staring
up at him and he down at me, it came over me who he was, and I can recall even now how my heart
seemed to jump, and I felt terribly frightened and as though I was going to cry. My grandfather
bowed to the younger man in the courteous, old-fashioned manner he always observed, and said:
"General, this is my grandchild, Captain Macklin's boy. When he grows up I want him to be able
to say he has met you. I am going to send him to West Point."
The man in the chair nodded his head at my grandfather,
and took his cigar from his mouth and said, "When he's ready to enter, remind me, let me know,"
and closed his lips again on his cigar, as though he had missed it even during that short space of time.
But had he made a long oration neither my grandfather nor I could have been more deeply moved. My
grandfather said: "Thank you, General. It is very kind of you," and led me away so proudly that it was
beautiful to see him. When he entered the house he stopped, and bending over me, asked, "Do you
know who that was, boy?" But with the awe of the moment still heavy upon me I could only nod
and gasp at him.
"That was General Grant," my grandfather said.
"Yes, I know," I whispered.