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Captain Macklin   By: (1864-1916)

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First Page:

Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

[Illustration: "Go, Royal!" he cried, "and God bless you!"]

CAPTAIN MACKLIN HIS MEMOIRS

BY RICHARD HARDING DAVIS

Illustrated By WALTER APPLETON CLARK

To MY MOTHER

ILLUSTRATIONS

"Go, Royal!" he cried, "and God bless you!" FRONTISPIECE

He made our meeting something of a ceremony

We walked out to the woods

I was sure life in Sagua la Grande would always suit me

The moon rose over the camp ... but still we sat

And the next instant I fell sprawling inside the barrack yard

I sprang back against the cabin

I

UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY, WEST POINT

It may seem presumptuous that so young a man as myself should propose to write his life and memoirs, for, as a rule, one waits until he has accomplished something in the world, or until he has reached old age, before he ventures to tell of the times in which he has lived, and of his part in them. But the profession to which I belong, which is that of a soldier, and which is the noblest profession a man can follow, is a hazardous one, and were I to delay until to morrow to write down what I have seen and done, these memoirs might never be written, for, such being the fortune of war, to morrow might not come.

So I propose to tell now of the little I have accomplished in the first twenty three years of my life, and, from month to month, to add to these memoirs in order that, should I be suddenly taken off, my debit and credit pages may be found carefully written up to date and carried forward. On the other hand, should I live to be an old man, this record of my career will furnish me with material for a more complete autobiography, and will serve as a safeguard against a failing memory.

In writing a personal narrative I take it that the most important events to be chronicled in the life of a man are his choice of a wife and his choice of a profession. As I am unmarried, the chief event in my life is my choice of a profession, and as to that, as a matter of fact, I was given no choice, but from my earliest childhood was destined to be a soldier. My education and my daily environment each pointed to that career, and even if I had shown a remarkable aptitude for any other calling, which I did not, I doubt if I would have pursued it. I am confident that had my education been directed in an entirely different channel, I should have followed my destiny, and come out a soldier in the end. For by inheritance as well as by instinct I was foreordained to follow the fortunes of war, to delight in the clash of arms and the smoke of battle; and I expect that when I do hear the clash of arms and smell the smoke of battle, the last of the Macklins will prove himself worthy of his ancestors.

I call myself the last of the Macklins for the reason that last year, on my twenty second birthday, I determined I should never marry. Women I respect and admire, several of them, especially two of the young ladies at Miss Butler's Academy I have deeply loved, but a soldier cannot devote himself both to a woman and to his country. As one of our young professors said, "The flag is a jealous mistress."

The one who, in my earliest childhood, arranged that I should follow the profession of arms, was my mother's father, and my only surviving grandparent. He was no less a personage than Major General John M. Hamilton. I am not a writer; my sword, I fear and hope, will always be easier in my hand than my pen, but I wish for a brief moment I could hold it with such skill, that I might tell of my grandfather properly and gratefully, and describe him as the gentle and brave man he was. I know he was gentle, for though I never had a woman to care for me as a mother cares for a son, I never missed that care; and I know how brave he was, for that is part of the history of my country. During many years he was my only parent or friend or companion; he taught me my lessons by day and my prayers by night, and, when I passed through all the absurd ailments to which a child is heir, he sat beside my cot and lulled me to sleep, or told me stories of the war... Continue reading book >>




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