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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 236

              [newspaper clipping]
  A certain Mr. H. Forbes�sometimes (I know not
why) called �Col. Forbes��fills a close page of The
Herald with what are there characterized as �Most
�Important Revelations� respecting Old Brown and
the complicity of leading Republicans in his recent
operations.  Into this labored and successful attempt
at self-exposure by �Col. Forbes,� I find my name
most wantonly dragged.  My only reason for noticing
the performance is a belief that the public may infer
from the facts in my case what is the probable truth
with respect to others whose names have been
dragged into these �Most Important Revelations.�
  This Forbes appeared in our City sometime after
the explosion of the European Revolutionary Upris-
ing of 1848, and claimed to have borne an important
part in that movement.  Of course, he was needy,
and The Herald says he was �at one times a reporter
�or translator on THE TRIBUNE.�  This is quite
probable, though I do not recollect it.
  Some time late in 1856, (I think it was) I was ap-
prised that he was going out to Kansas to help the
Free-State men, then threatened with annihilation by
the Border Ruffians of Missouri, backed by Federal
functionaries and troops.  Lawrence had then been
twice beleaguered and once sacked; Osawatamie had
been twice ravaged and burned; Leavenworth had
been just before swept clean of Free-State men by a 
Missouri raid�William Phillips being butchered while
defending his own house, his brother badly wounded
and captured, while those who made no resistance
were sent down the river at an hour�s notice.  As
Forbes professed to be a capable and experienced
military officer, especially qualified for guerilla or bor-
der warfare, and as he had always claimed to be
an earnest Red Republican and foe of every form of
Human Slavery, I thought his resolution natural
and commendable.  Knowing him to be poor, I gave
him $20 as he was starting; others gave him larger
sums; how much in all, I do not know; but I think
his total receipts from friends of Free-Kansas on
account of his resolve cannot have fallen below $700.
He went�was absent some months�came back�that
is all I know of his services to the Free-State cause in
any shape.  Whether because he was not needed, or
was not trusted, or was found incompetent, I do not
know�I only know that he did nothing, and was prac-
tically worth nothing.  I believe he spent part of the
money given him in printing a pamphlet embodying
his notions of guerilla or partisan warfare�of course,
no dollar ever came back.  I think I heard of him
before his return, clamoring for more money.
  In due time, he reappeared in New-York, and came
to me (as to others) with complaints that he had been
deceived, misled, swindled, beggared, his family (in
Paris) turned into the streets to starve, &c., &c.  I
tried to ascertain who had deceived him, what promises
made to him had been broken, &c., but with little suc-
cess.  All I could make out was that some one�he
now says it was Old Brown�had promised him some-
thing in the way of pecuniary recompense for his ser-
vices, which had not been made good, and that his
family were consequently reduced to the brink of
  To this hour, I have never learned what Brown (or
any one else) promised Forbes, nor how far the prom-
iser professed to have the right to commit others.  I
do not believe that John Brown ever willfully de-
ceived him or any one else.  I am very sure that no
one was ever authorized to engage the services of
�Col. Forbes� in behalf of the Free-State men of
Kansas on condition that said Forbes should be au-
theorized to charge his own price for those services
and draw at pleasure on some responsible party for
payment.  I have never heard anyone�s version of 
the matter but Forbes�s� and I confidently infer from
this that, if there was mutual misunderstanding and 
disappointment in the premises, the employing party
had decidedly the worst of it.
  Forbes says that I�in response to his complaints
and representations��argued that I {he} had no
�legal claim according to the lower law.�  It really
seems to me that there was no room for argument on
that point.  He further says that I told him he
�ought to have known that engagements of this
�sort never are kept�never are meant to be kept.�
As I have not to this hour been able to ascertain what
�engagement,� if any, was made with him, nor by
whom, this cannot be the full and fair purport of my
remark.  I did urge that, I he had a contract with
any one, whereby others were held bound to pay him
money, whether in definite or indefinite amounts, he
ought to be able to show some other evidence of that
fact than his own unsupported assertion.  Had Brown
been any how indebted to Forbes for services to the
Free-State cause, I cannot doubt that he (B.) would               
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