True Stories from History and Biography
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
In writing this ponderous tome, the author's desire has been to describe the eminent characters and remarkable events of our annals, in such a form and style, that the YOUNG might make acquaintance with them of their own accord. For this purpose, while ostensibly relating the adventures of a Chair, he has endeavored to keep a distinct and unbroken thread of authentic history. The Chair is made to pass from one to another of those personages, of whom he thought it most desirable for the young reader to have vivid and familiar ideas, and whose lives and actions would best enable him to give picturesque sketches of the times. On its sturdy oaken legs, it trudges diligently from one scene to another, and seems always to thrust itself in the way, with most benign complacency, whenever a historical personage happens to be looking round for a seat.
There is certainly no method, by which the shadowy outlines of departed men and women can he made to assume the hues of life more effectually, than by connecting their images with the substantial and homely reality of a fireside chair. It causes us to feel at once, that these characters of history had a private and familiar existence, and were not wholly contained within that cold array of outward action, which we are compelled to receive as the adequate representation of their lives. If this impression can be given, much is accomplished.
Setting aside Grandfather and his auditors, and excepting the adventures of the Chair, which form the machinery of the work, nothing in the ensuing pages can be termed fictitious. The author, it is true, has sometimes assumed the license of filling up the outline of history with details, for which he has none but imaginative authority, but which, he hopes, do not violate nor give a false coloring to the truth. He believes that, in this respect, his narrative will not be found to convey ideas and impressions, of which the reader may hereafter find it necessary to purge his mind.
The author's great doubt is, whether he has succeeded in writing a book which will be readable by the class for whom he intends it. To make a lively and entertaining narrative for children, with such unmalleable material as is presented by the sombre, stern, and rigid characteristics of the Puritans and their descendants, is quite as difficult an attempt, as to manufacture delicate playthings out of the granite rocks on which New England is founded.
COMPLETE IN THREE PARTS.
Grandfather had been sitting in his old arm-chair, all that pleasant afternoon, while the children were pursuing their various sports, far off or near at hand. Sometimes you would have said, "Grandfather is asleep;" but still, even when his eyes were closed, his thoughts were with the young people, playing among the flowers and shrubbery of the garden.
He heard the voice of Laurence, who had taken possession of
a heap of decayed branches which the gardener had lopped from the fruit trees,
and was building a little hut for his cousin Clara and himself. He heard
Clara's gladsome voice, too, as she weeded and watered the flower-bed which had
been given her for her own. He could have counted every footstep that Charley
took, as he trundled his wheelbarrow along the gravel walk. And though
Grandfather was old and gray-haired, yet his heart leaped with joy whenever
At last the children grew weary of their sports; because a summer afternoon is like a long lifetime to the young. So they came into the room together, and clustered round Grandfather's great chair. Little Alice, who was hardly five years old, took the privilege of the youngest, and climbed his knee. It was a pleasant thing to behold that fair and golden-haired child in the lap of the old man, and to think that, different as they were, the hearts of both could be gladdened with the same joys.
"Grandfather," said little
"That is not what story-tellers like," answered Grandfather, smiling. "They are better satisfied when they can keep their auditors awake."
"But here are Laurence, and Charley,
and I," cried cousin Clara, who was twice as old as little
Now, the chair in which Grandfather sat was made of oak, which had grown dark with age, but had been rubbed and polished till it shone as bright as mahogany. It was very large and heavy, and had a back that rose high above Grandfather's white head. This back was curiously carved in open work, so as to represent flowers and foliage and other devices; which the children had often gazed at, but could never understand what they meant. On the very tiptop of the chair, over the head of Grandfather himself, was a likeness of a lion's head, which had such a savage grin that you would almost expect to hear it growl and snarl.
The children had seen Grandfather sitting in this chair ever since they could remember any thing. Perhaps the younger of them supposed that he and the chair had come into the world together, and that both had always been as old as they were now. At this time, however, it happened to be the fashion for ladies to adorn their drawing-rooms with the oldest and oddest chairs that could be found. It seemed to cousin Clara that if these ladies could have seen Grandfather's old chair, they would have thought it worth all the rest together. She wondered if it were not even older than Grandfather himself, and longed to know all about its history.
"Do, Grandfather, talk to us about this chair," she repeated.
"Well, child," said Grandfather, patting Clara's cheek, "I can tell you a great many stories of my chair. Perhaps your cousin Laurence would like to hear them too. They would teach him something about the history and distinguished people of his country, which he has never read in any of his school-books."
Cousin Laurence was a boy of twelve, a bright scholar, in whom an early thoughtfulness and sensibility began to show themselves. His young fancy kindled at the idea of knowing all the adventures of this venerable chair. He looked eagerly in Grandfather's face; and even Charley, a bold, brisk, restless little fellow of nine, sat himself down on the carpet, and resolved to be quiet for at least ten minutes, should the story last so long.
Meantime, little Alice was already asleep; so Grandfather, being much pleased with such an attentive audience, began to talk about matters that had happened long ago.
But, before relating the adventures of the chair,
Grandfather found it necessary to speak of the circumstances that caused the
first settlement of
So, Grandfather talked about the Puritans, as those persons
were called who thought it sinful to practise the religious forms and
ceremonies which the Church of England had borrowed from the Roman Catholics.
These Puritans suffered so much persecution in
Meantime, those of the Puritans who remained in
"And now we come to the chair, my dear children,"
said Grandfather. "This chair is supposed to have been made of an oak tree
which grew in the park of the English earl of
"Who was Mr. Johnson?" inquired Clara.
"He was a gentleman of great wealth, who agreed with
the Puritans in their religious opinions," answered Grandfather. "And
as his belief was the same as theirs, he resolved that he would live and die
with them. Accordingly, in the month of April, 1630, he left his pleasant abode
and all his comforts in
As Grandfather was frequently impeded by the questions and observations of his young auditors, we deem it advisable to omit all such prattle as is not essential to the story. We have taken some pains to find out exactly what Grandfather said, and here offer to our readers, as nearly as possible in his own words, the story of
THE LADY ARBELLA
The ship in which Mr. Johnson and his lady embarked, taking
Grandfather's chair along with them, was called the Arbella, in honor of the
lady herself. A fleet of ten or twelve vessels, with many hundred passengers,
left England about the same time; for a multitude of people, who were
discontented with the king's government and oppressed by the bishops, were
flocking over to the new world. One of the vessels in the fleet was that same
Mayflower which had carried the Puritan pilgrims to
Among the passengers was John Winthrop, who had sold the
estate of his forefathers, and was going to prepare a new home for his wife and
children in the wilderness. He had the king's charter in his keeping, and was
appointed the first Governor of Massachusetts. Imagine him a person of grave
and benevolent aspect, dressed in a black velvet suit, with a broad ruff around
his neck and a peaked beard upon his chin. There was likewise a minister of the
Gospel, whom the English bishops had forbidden to preach,
but who knew that he should have liberty both to preach and pray in the forests
Not only these, but several other men of
wealth and pious ministers, were in the cabin of the Arbella. One had
banished himself for ever from the old hall where his ancestors had lived for
hundreds of years. Another had left his quiet parsonage, in a country town of
Every morning and evening the Lady Arbella gave up her great
chair to one of the ministers, who took his place in it and read passages from
the Bible to his companions. And thus, with prayers and pious conversation, and
frequent singing of hymns, which the breezes caught from their lips and
scattered far over the desolate waves, they prosecuted their voyage, and sailed
At that period there were but six or eight dwellings in the
town; and these were miserable hovels, with roofs of straw and wooden chimneys.
The passengers in the fleet either built huts with bark and branches of trees,
or erected tents of cloth till they could provide themselves with better
shelter. Many of them went to form a settlement at
Suppose it a hot summer's day, and the lattice-windows of a
chamber in Mr. Endicott's house thrown wide open. The Lady Arbella, looking
paler than she did on shipboard, is sitting in her chair, and thinking
mournfully of far-off
All the inhabitants of the little village are busy. One is clearing a spot on the verge of the forest for his homestead; another is hewing the trunk of a fallen pine tree, in order to build himself a dwelling; a third is hoeing in his field of Indian corn. Here comes a huntsman out of the woods, dragging a bear which he has shot, and shouting to the neighbors to lend him a hand. There goes a man to the sea-shore, with a spade and a bucket, to dig a mess of clams, which were a principal article of food with the first settlers. Scattered here and there are two or three dusky figures, clad in mantles of fur, with ornaments of bone hanging from their ears, and the feathers of wild birds in their coal black hair. They have belts of shell-work slung across their shoulders, and are armed with bows and arrows and flint-headed spears. These are an Indian Sagamore and his attendants, who have come to gaze at the labors of the white men. And now rises a cry, that a pack of wolves have seized a young calf in the pasture; and every man snatches up his gun or pike, and runs in chase of the marauding beasts.
Poor Lady Arbella watches all these sights, and feels that this new world is fit only for rough and hardy people. None should be here but those who can struggle with wild beasts and wild men, and can toil in the heat or cold, and can keep their hearts firm against all difficulties and dangers. But she is not one of these. Her gentle and timid spirit sinks within her; and turning away from the window she sits down in the great chair, and wonders thereabouts in the wilderness her friends will dig her grave.
Mr. Johnson had gone, with Governor Winthrop and most of the
other passengers, to
Still, however, he spoke kindly to the lady, and then
hastened forth to till his corn-field and set out fruit trees, or to bargain
with the Indians for furs, or perchance to oversee the building of a fort. Also
being a magistrate, he had often to punish some idler or evil-doer, by ordering
him to be set in the stocks or scourged at the whipping-post. Often, too, as
was the custom of the times, he and Mr. Higginson, the minister of
What a contrast, my dear children, between this bold, rough, active man, and the gentle Lady Arbella, who was fading away, like a pale English flower, in the shadow of the forest! And now the great chair was often empty, because Lady Arbella grew too weak to arise from bed.
Meantime, her husband had pitched upon a spot for their new
home. He returned from
Charley, almost at the commencement of the foregoing
narrative, had galloped away with a prodigious clatter, upon Grandfather's
stick, and was not yet returned. So large a boy should have
been ashamed to ride upon a stick. But Laurence and Clara had listened
attentively, and were affected by this true story of the gentle lady, who had
come so far to die so soon. Grandfather had supposed that little
"O, the lady must have been so glad to get to
heaven!" exclaimed little
"Grandfather, what became of Mr. Johnson?" asked Clara.
"His heart appears to have been quite broken,"
answered Grandfather; "for he died at
"I never heard any thing so melancholy!" said Clara.
"The people loved and respected Mr. Johnson so
much," continued Grandfather, "that it was the last request of many
of them, when they died, that they might be buried as near as possible to this
good man's grave. And so the field became the first burial-ground in
"How sad is the thought," observed Clara, "that one of the first things which the settlers had to do, when they came to the new world, was to set apart a burial-ground!"
"Perhaps," said Laurence, "if they had found
no need of burial-grounds here, they would have been glad, after a few years,
to go back to
Grandfather looked at Laurence, to discover whether he knew how profound and true a thing he had said.
Not long after Grandfather had told the story of his great chair, there chanced to be a rainy day. Our friend Charley, after disturbing the household with beat of drum and riotous shouts, races up and down the staircase, overturning of chairs, and much other uproar, began to feel the quiet and confinement within doors intolerable. But as the rain came down in a flood, the little fellow was hopelessly a prisoner, and now stood with sullen aspect at a window, wondering whether the sun itself were not extinguished by so much moisture in the sky.
Charley had already exhausted the less eager activity of the
other children; and they had betaken themselves to occupations that did not
admit of his companionship. Laurence sat in a recess near the book-case,
reading, not for the first time, the Midsummer Night's Dream. Clara was making
a rosary of beads for a little figure of a Sister of Charity, who was to attend
the Bunker Hill Fair, and lend her aid in erecting the Monument. Little
Charley was too big a boy, of course, to care any thing
"Grandfather, I want to hear more about your chair," said he.
Now Grandfather remembered that Charley had galloped away
upon a stick, in the midst of the narrative of poor Lady Arbella, and I know
not whether he would have thought it worth while to tell another story, merely
to gratify such an inattentive auditor as Charley. But Laurence laid down his
book and seconded the request. Clara drew her chair nearer to Grandfather, and
He mentioned several persons who had a share in the
settlement of our country, and who would be well worthy of remembrance, if we
could find room to tell about them all. Among the rest, Grandfather spoke of
the famous Hugh Peters, a minister of the gospel, who did much good to the
"After the death of Mr. Johnson," said he,
"Grandfather's chair came into the possession of Roger Williams. He was a
clergyman, who arrived at
Grandfather went on to talk about Roger Williams, and told
the children several particulars, which we have not room to repeat. One
incident, however, which was connected with his life, must be related, because
it will give the reader an idea of the opinions and feelings of the first
THE RED CROSS
While Roger Williams sat in Grandfather's chair, at his
humble residence in
One thing especially troubled them both. In the old national
"I profess, brother Williams," Captain Endicott would say, after they had been talking of this matter, "it distresses a Christian man's heart, to see this idolatrous Cross flying over our heads. A stranger beholding it, would think that we had undergone all our hardships and dangers, by sea and in the wilderness, only to get new dominions for the Pope of Rome."
"Truly, good Mr. Endicott," Roger Williams would answer, "you speak as an honest man and Protestant Christian should. For mine own part, were it my business to draw a sword, I should reckon it sinful to fight under such a banner. Neither can I, in my pulpit, ask the blessing of Heaven upon it."
Such, probably, was the way in which Roger Williams and John
Endicott used to talk about the banner of the Red Cross. Endicott, who was a
prompt and resolute man, soon determined that
Not long afterwards there was a military muster at
These men had mostly a stern and rigid aspect. To judge by
their looks, you might have supposed that there was as much iron in their
hearts, as there was upon their heads and breasts. They were all devoted
Puritans, and of the same temper as those with whom Oliver Cromwell afterwards
overthrew the throne of
Endicott was the captain of the company. While the soldiers were expecting his orders to begin their exercise, they saw him take the banner in one hand, holding his drawn sword in the other. Probably he addressed them in a speech, and explained how horrible a thing it was, that men, who had fled from Popish idolatry into the wilderness, should be compelled to fight under its symbols here. Perhaps he concluded his address somewhat in the following style.
"And now, fellow soldiers, you see this old banner of
And so he did. And thus, in a province belonging to the
"I should like to know, Grandfather," said
Laurence, when the story was ended, "whether, when Endicott cut the Red
Cross out of the banner, he meant to imply that
"A sense of the independence of his adopted country, must have been in that bold man's heart," answered Grandfather; "but I doubt whether he had given the matter much consideration, except in its religious bearing. However, it was a very remarkable affair, and a very strong expression of Puritan character."
Grandfather proceeded to speak further of Roger Williams, and of other persons who sat in the great chair, as will be seen in the following chapter.
"Roger Williams," said Grandfather, "did not
keep possession of the chair a great while. His opinions of civil and religious
matters differed, in many respects, from those of the rulers and clergymen of
"Does any body believe so in our days Grandfather?" asked Laurence.
"Possibly there are some who believe it," said
Grandfather; "but they have not so much power to act upon their belief, as
the magistrates and ministers had, in the days of Roger Williams. They had the
power to deprive this good man of his home, and to send him out from the midst
of them, in search of a new place of rest. He was banished in 1634, and went
"I have been to
"Yes, Charley," replied Grandfather; "but when Roger Williams travelled thither, over hills and valleys, and through the tangled woods, and across swamps and streams, it was a journey of several days. Well; his little plantation is now grown to be a populous city; and the inhabitants have a great veneration for Roger Williams. His name is familiar in the mouths of all because they see it on their bank bills. How it would have perplexed this good clergyman, if he had been told that he should give his name to the ROGER WILLIAMS BANK!"
"When he was driven from
"Yes," answered Grandfather, "it often
happens, that the outcasts of one generation are
those, who are reverenced as the wisest and best of men by the next. The
securest fame is that which comes after a man's death. But let us return to our
story. When Roger Williams was banished, he appears to have given the chair to
Mrs. Anne Hutchinson. At all events it was in her possession in 1637. She was a
very sharp-witted and well-instructed lady, and was so conscious of her own
wisdom and abilities, that she thought it a pity that the world should not have
the benefit of them. She therefore used to hold lectures in
"Grandfather, was it positively this very chair?" demanded Clara, laying her hand upon its carved elbow.
"Why not, my dear Clara?" said Grandfather.
"Well; Mrs. Hutchinson's lectures soon caused a great disturbance; for the
"If they had eighty-two wrong opinions," observed Charley, "I don't see how they could have any right ones."
"Mrs. Hutchinson had many zealous friends and
converts," continued Grandfather. "She was favored by young Henry
Vane, who had come over from
"Dear Grandfather, did they drive the poor woman into the woods?" exclaimed little Alice, who contrived to feel a human interest even in these discords of polemic divinity.
"They did, my darling," replied Grandfather;
"and the end of her life was so sad, you must not hear it. At her
departure, it appears from the best authorities, that she gave the great chair
to her friend, Henry Vane. He was a young man of wonderful talents and great
learning, who had imbibed the religious opinions of the Puritans, and left
"Yes, Grandfather," cried Laurence; "and we may read them better in Mr. Upham's biography of Vane. And what a beautiful death he died, long afterwards! beautiful, though it was on a scaffold."
"Many of the most beautiful deaths have been there," said Grandfather. "The enemies of a great and good man can in no other way make him so glorious, as by giving him the crown of martyrdom."
In order that the children might fully understand the
all-important history of the chair, Grandfather now thought fit to speak of the
progress that was made in settling several colonies. The settlement of
Thus, at various points along the coast of
Grandfather, for aught I know, might have gone on to speak of Maryland and Virginia; for the good old gentleman really seemed to suppose, that the whole surface of the United States was not too broad a foundation to place the four legs of his chair upon. But, happening to glance at Charley, he perceived that this naughty boy was growing impatient, and meditating another ride upon a stick. So here, for the present, Grandfather suspended the history of his chair.
The Children had now learned to look upon the chair with an interest, which was almost the same as if it were a conscious being, and could remember the many famous people whom it had held within its arms.
Even Charley, lawless as he was, seemed to feel that this venerable chair must not be clambered upon nor overturned, although he had no scruple in taking such liberties with every other chair in the house. Clara treated it with still greater reverence, often taking occasion to smooth its cushion, and to brush the dust from the carved flowers and grotesque figures of its oaken back and arms. Laurence would sometimes sit a whole hour, especially at twilight, gazing at the chair, and, by the spell of his imaginations, summoning up its ancient occupants to appear in it again.
Little Alice evidently employed herself in a similar way;
for once, when Grandfather had gone abroad, the child was heard talking with
the gentle Lady Arbella, as if she were still sitting in the chair. So sweet a
child as little
Grandfather was soon importuned for more stories about the chair. He had no difficulty in relating them; for it really seemed as if every person, noted in our early history, had, on some occasion or other, found repose within its comfortable arms. If Grandfather took pride in any thing, it was in being the possessor of such an honorable and historic elbow chair.
"I know not precisely who next got possession of the
chair, after Governor Vane went back to
"Is the college a school of the prophets now?" asked Charley.
"It is a long while since I took my degree, Charley.
You must ask some of the recent graduates," answered Grandfather. "As
I was telling you, President Dunster sat in Grandfather's chair in 1642, when
he conferred the degree of bachelor of arts on nine
young men. They were the first in
"But, Grandfather," interposed Charley, who was a matter-of-fact little person, "what reason have you to imagine so?"
"Pray do imagine it, Grandfather," said Laurence.
"With Charley's permission, I will," replied
Grandfather, smiling. "Let us consider it settled, therefore, that
And here Grandfather took occasion to talk, rather
tediously, about the nature and forms of government that established
themselves, almost spontaneously, in
"But, Laurence," continued Grandfather, "when
you want instruction on these points, you must seek it in Mr. Bancroft's
History. I am merely telling the history of a chair. To
proceed. The period during which the governors sat in our chair, was not
very full of striking incidents. The province was now established on a secure
foundation; but it did not increase so rapidly as at first, because the
Puritans were no longer driven from
"Were they under a government like that of the
"No," replied Grandfather, "the different
colonies did not compose one nation together; it was merely a confederacy among
the governments. It somewhat resembled the league of the Amphictyons, which you
remember in Grecian history. But to return to our chair.
In 1644 it was highly honored; for Governor Endicott sat in it, when he gave
audience to an ambassador from the French governor of Acadie, or
Grandfather might have continued to talk in this dull manner, nobody knows how long; but, suspecting that Charley would find the subject rather dry, he looked sideways at that vivacious little fellow, and saw him give an involuntary yawn. Whereupon, Grandfather proceeded with the history of the chair, and related a very entertaining incident, which will be found in the next chapter.
"According to the most authentic records, my dear
children," said Grandfather, "the chair, about this time, had the
misfortune to break its leg. It was probably on account of this accident, that it ceased to be the seat of the governors of
"Here is the very leg that was broken!" exclaimed Charley, throwing himself down on the floor to look at it. "And here are the iron clamps. How well it was mended!"
When they had all sufficiently examined the broken leg, Grandfather told them a story about Captain John Hull and
THE PINE-TREE SHILLINGS
The Captain John Hull, aforesaid, was the mint-master of
For instance, if a man wanted to buy a coat, he perhaps exchanged a bear-skin for it. If he wished for a barrel of molasses, he might purchase it with a pile of pine boards. Musket-bullets were used instead of farthings. The Indians had a sort of money, called wampum, which was made of clam-shells; and this strange sort of specie was likewise taken in payment of debts, by the English settlers. Bank-bills had never been heard of. There was not money enough of any kind, in many parts of the country, to pay the salaries of the ministers; so that they sometimes had to take quintals of fish, bushels of corn, or cords of wood, instead of silver or gold.
As the people grew more numerous, and their trade one with another increased, the want of current money was still more sensibly felt. To supply the demand, the general court passed a law for establishing a coinage of shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Captain John Hull was appointed to manufacture this money, and was to have about one shilling out of every twenty to pay him for the trouble of making them.
Hereupon, all the old silver in the colony was handed over
to Captain John Hull. The battered silver cans and tankards, I suppose, and
silver buckles, and broken spoons, and silver buttons of worn-out coats, and
silver hilts of swords that had figured at court, all such curious old articles
were doubtless thrown into the melting-pot together. But by far the greater
part of the silver consisted of bullion from the mines of South America, which
the English buccaniers--(who were little better than pirates)--had taken from
the Spaniards, and brought to
All this old and new silver being melted down and coined, the result was an immense amount of splendid shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Each had the date, 1652, on the one side, and the figure of a pine-tree on the other. Hence they were called pine-tree shillings. And for every twenty shillings that he coined, you will remember, Captain John Hull was entitled to put one shilling into his own pocket.
The magistrates soon began to suspect that the mint-master would have the best of the bargain. They offered him a large sum of money, if he would but give up that twentieth shilling, which he was continually dropping into his own pocket. But Captain Hull declared himself perfectly satisfied with the shilling. And well he might be; for so diligently did he labor, that, in a few years, his pockets, his money bags, and his strong box, were overflowing with pine-tree shillings. This was probably the case when he came into possession of Grandfather's chair; and, as he had worked so hard at the mint, it was certainly proper that he should have a comfortable chair to rest himself in.
When the mint-master had grown very rich, a young man, Samuel Sewell by name, came a courting to his only daughter. His daughter,--whose name I do not know, but we will call her Betsey,--was a fine hearty damsel, by no means so slender as some young ladies of our own days. On the contrary, having always fed heartily on pumpkin pies, doughnuts, Indian puddings, and other Puritan dainties, she was as round and plump as a pudding herself. With this round, rosy Miss Betsey, did Samuel Sewell fall in love. As he was a young man of good character, industrious in his business, and a member of the church, the mint-master very readily gave his consent.
"Yes--you may take her," said he, in his rough way; "and you'll find her a heavy burden enough!"
On the wedding day, we may suppose that honest John Hull dressed himself in a plum-colored coat, all the buttons of which were made of pine-tree shillings. The buttons of his waistcoat were sixpences; and the knees of his smallclothes were buttoned with silver threepences. Thus attired, he sat with great dignity in Grandfather's chair; and, being a portly old gentleman, he completely filled it from elbow to elbow. On the opposite side of the room, between her bride-maids, sat Miss Betsey. She was blushing with all her might, and looked like a full blown pĉony, or a great red apple.
There, too, was the bridegroom, dressed in a fine purple coat, and gold lace waistcoat, with as much other finery as the Puritan laws and customs would allow him to put on. His hair was cropped close to his head, because Governor Endicott had forbidden any man to wear it below the ears. But he was a very personable young man; and so thought the bride-maids and Miss Betsey herself.
The mint-master also was pleased with his new son-in-law; especially as he had courted Miss Betsey out of pure love, and had said nothing at all about her portion. So when the marriage ceremony was over, Captain Hull whispered a word to two of his men-servants, who immediately went out, and soon returned, lugging in a large pair of scales. They were such a pair as wholesale merchants use, for weighing bulky commodities; and quite a bulky commodity was now to be weighed in them.
"Daughter Betsey," said the mint-master, "get into one side of these scales."
Miss Betsey,--or Mrs. Sewell, as we must now call her,--did as she was bid, like a dutiful child, without any question of the why and wherefore. But what her father could mean, unless to make her husband pay for her by the pound, (in which case she would have been a dear bargain,) she had not the least idea.
"And now," said honest John Hull to the servants, "bring that box hither."
The box, to which the mint-master pointed, was a huge,
square, iron bound, oaken chest; it was big enough, my children, for all four
of you to play at hide-and-seek in. The servants tugged with might and main,
but could not lift this enormous receptacle, and were finally obliged to drag
it across the floor. Captain Hull then took a key from his girdle, unlocked the
chest, and lifted its ponderous lid. Behold! it was
full to the brim of bright pine-tree shillings, fresh from the mint; and Samuel
Sewell began to think that his father-in-law had got possession of all the
money in the
Then the servants, at Captain Hull's command, heaped double handfulls of shillings into one side of the scales, while Betsey remained in the other. Jingle, jingle, went the shillings, as handful after handful was thrown in, till, plump and ponderous as she was, they fairly weighed the young lady from the floor.
"There, son Sewell!" cried the honest mint-master, resuming his seat in Grandfather's chair. "Take these shillings for my daughter's portion. Use her kindly, and thank Heaven for her. It is not every wife that's worth her weight in silver!"
The children laughed heartily at this legend, and would hardly be convinced but that Grandfather had made it out of his own head. He assured them faithfully, however, that he had found it in the pages of a grave historian, and had merely tried to tell it in a somewhat funnier style. As for Samuel Sewell, he afterwards became Chief Justice of Massachusetts.
"Well, Grandfather," remarked Clara, "if wedding portions now-a-days were paid as Miss Betsey's was, young ladies would not pride themselves upon an airy figure as many of them do."
When his little audience next assembled round the chair,
Grandfather gave them a doleful history of the Quaker persecution, which began
in 1656, and raged for about three years in
He told them how, in the first place, twelve of the converts
of George Fox, the first Quaker in the world, had come over from
Grandfather described the hatred and scorn with which these enthusiasts were received. They were thrown into dungeons; they were beaten with many stripes, women as well as men; they were driven forth into the wilderness, and left to the tender mercies of wild beasts and Indians. The children were amazed to hear, that, the more the Quakers were scourged, and imprisoned, and banished, the more did the sect increase, both by the influx of strangers, and by converts from among the Puritans. But Grandfather told them, that God had put something into the soul of man, which always turned the cruelties of the persecutor to nought.
He went on to relate, that, in 1659, two Quakers, named
William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson, were hanged at
"And was she executed?" asked Laurence.
"She was," said Grandfather.
"Grandfather," cried Charley, clenching his fist, "I would have fought for that poor Quaker woman!"
"Ah! but if a sword had been drawn for her," said Laurence, "it would have taken away all the beauty of her death."
It seemed as if hardly any of the preceding stories had thrown such an interest around Grandfather's chair, as did the fact, that the poor, persecuted, wandering Quaker woman had rested in it for a moment. The children were so much excited, that Grandfather found it necessary to bring his account of the persecution to a close.
"In 1660, the same year in which Mary Dyer was
executed," said he, "Charles the Second was restored to the throne of
his fathers. This king had many vices; but he would not permit blood to be
shed, under pretence of religion, in any part of his dominions. The Quakers in
Grandfather then told his auditors, that, shortly after the above incident, the great chair had been given by the mint-master to the Rev. Mr. John Eliot. He was the first minister of Roxbury. But besides attending to his pastoral duties there, he learned the language of the red men, and often went into the woods to preach to them. So earnestly did he labor for their conversion, that he has always been called the apostle to the Indians. The mention of this holy man suggested to Grandfather the propriety of giving a brief sketch of the history of the Indians, so far as they were connected with the English colonists.
A short period before the arrival of the first Pilgrims at
In many places the English found the wigwams deserted, and the corn-fields growing to waste, with none to harvest the grain. There were heaps of earth also, which, being dug open, proved to be Indian graves, containing bows and flint-headed spears and arrows; for the Indians buried the dead warrior's weapons along with him. In some spots, there were skulls and other human bones, lying unburied. In 1633, and the year afterwards, the smallpox broke out among the Massachusetts Indians, multitudes of whom died by this terrible disease of the old world. These misfortunes made them far less powerful than they had formerly been.
For nearly half a century after the arrival of the English,
the red men showed themselves generally inclined to peace and amity. They often
made submission, when they might have made successful war. The
From that period, down to the time of King Philip's war, which will be mentioned hereafter, there was not much trouble with the Indians. But the colonists were always on their guard, and kept their weapons ready for the conflict.
"I have sometimes doubted," said Grandfather, when he had told these things to the children, "I have sometimes doubted whether there was more than a single man, among our forefathers, who realized that an Indian possesses a mind and a heart, and an immortal soul. That single man was John Eliot. All the rest of the early settlers seemed to think that the Indians were an inferior race of beings, whom the Creator had merely allowed to keep possession of this beautiful country, till the white men should be in want of it.
"Did the pious men of those days never try to make Christians of them?" asked Laurence.
"Sometimes, it is true," answered Grandfather, "the magistrates and ministers would talk about civilizing and converting the red people. But, at the bottom of their hearts, they would have had almost as much expectation of civilizing a wild bear of the woods, and making him fit for paradise. They felt no faith in the success of any such attempts, because they had no love for the poor Indians. Now Eliot was full of love for them, and therefore so full of faith and hope, that he spent the labor of a lifetime in their behalf."
"I would have conquered them first, and then converted them," said Charley.
"Ah, Charley, there spoke the very spirit of our forefathers!" replied Grandfather. "But Mr. Eliot had a better spirit. He looked upon them as his brethren. He persuaded as many of them as he could, to leave off their idle and wandering habits, and to build houses, and cultivate the earth, as the English did. He established schools among them, and taught many of the Indians how to read. He taught them, likewise, how to pray. Hence they were called 'praying Indians.' Finally, having spent the best years of his life for their good, Mr. Eliot resolved to spend the remainder in doing them a yet greater benefit."
"I know what that was!" cried Laurence.
"He sat down in his study," continued Grandfather, "and began a translation of the Bible into the Indian tongue. It was while he was engaged in this pious work, that the mint-master gave him our great chair. His toil needed it, and deserved it."
"O, Grandfather, tell us all about that Indian Bible!" exclaimed Laurence. "I have seen it in the library of the Athenĉum; and the tears came into my eyes, to think that there were no Indians left to read it."
As Grandfather was a great admirer of the Apostle Eliot, he was glad to comply with the earnest request which Laurence had made, at the close of the last chapter. So he proceeded to describe how good Mr. Eliot labored, while he was at work upon
THE INDIAN BIBLE
My dear children, what a task would you think it, even with a long lifetime before you, were you bidden to copy every chapter and verse, and word, in yonder great family Bible! Would not this be a heavy toil? But if the task were, not to write off the English Bible, but to learn a language, utterly unlike all other tongues,--a language which hitherto had never been learned, except by the Indians themselves, from their mothers' lips,--a language never written, and the strange words of which seemed inexpressible by letters;--if the task were, first, to learn this new variety of speech, and then to translate the Bible into it, and to do it so carefully, that not one idea throughout the holy book should be changed,--what would induce you to undertake this toil? Yet this was what the Apostle Eliot did.
It was a mighty work for a man, now growing old, to take
upon himself. And what earthly reward could he expect from it? None; no reward on earth. But he believed that the red men
were the descendants of those lost tribes of
Sometimes, while thus at work, he was visited by learned men, who desired to know what literary undertaking Mr. Elliot had in hand. They, like himself, had been bred in the studious cloisters of a university, and were supposed to possess all the erudition which mankind has hoarded up from age to age. Greek and Latin were as familiar to them as the babble of their childhood. Hebrew was like their mother tongue. They had grown gray in study; their eyes were bleared with poring over print and manuscript by the light of the midnight lamp.
And yet, how much had they left unlearned! Mr. Eliot would put into their hands some of the pages, which he had been writing; and behold! the gray-headed men stammered over the long, strange words, like a little child in his first attempts to read. Then would the apostle call to him an Indian boy, one of his scholars, and show him the manuscript, which had so puzzled the learned Englishmen.
"Read this, my child," said he, "these are some brethren of mine, who would fain hear the sound of thy native tongue."
Then would the Indian boy cast his eyes over the mysterious page, and read it so skilfully, that it sounded like wild music. It seemed as if the forest leaves were singing in the ears of his auditors, and as if the roar of distant streams were poured through the young Indian's voice. Such were the sounds amid which the language of the red man had been formed; and they were still heard to echo in it.
The lesson being over, Mr. Eliot would give the Indian boy an apple or a cake, and bid him leap forth into the open air, which his free nature loved. The apostle was kind to children, and even shared in their sports, sometimes. And when his visitors had bidden him farewell, the good man turned patiently to his toil again.
No other Englishman had ever understood the Indian character
so well, nor possessed so great an influence over the
Perhaps, too, some warlike captain, dressed in his buff-coat, with a corslet beneath it, accompanied the governor and counsellors. Laying his hand upon his sword hilt, he would declare, that the only method of dealing with the red men was to meet them with the sword drawn, and the musket presented.
But the apostle resisted both the craft of the politician, and the fierceness of the warrior.
"Treat these sons of the forest as men and brethren," he would say, "and let us endeavor to make them Christians. Their forefathers were of that chosen race, whom God delivered from Egyptian bondage. Perchance he has destined us to deliver the children from the more cruel bondage of ignorance and idolatry. Chiefly for this end, it may be, we were directed across the ocean."
When these other visitors were gone, Mr. Eliot bent himself again over the half written page. He dared hardly relax a moment from his toil. He felt that, in the book which he was translating, there was a deep human, as well as heavenly wisdom, which would of itself suffice to civilize and refine the savage tribes. Let the Bible be diffused among them, and all earthly good would follow. But how slight a consideration was this, when he reflected that the eternal welfare of a whole race of men depended upon his accomplishment of the task which he had set himself! What if his hands should be palsied? What if his mind should lose its vigor? What if death should come upon him, ere the work were done? Then must the red man wander in the dark wilderness of heathenism for ever.
Impelled by such thoughts as these, he sat writing in the great chair, when the pleasant summer breeze came in through his open casement; and also when the fire of forest logs sent up its blaze and smoke, through the broad stone chimney, into the wintry air. Before the earliest bird sang, in the morning, the apostle's lamp was kindled; and, at midnight, his weary head was not yet upon its pillow. And at length, leaning back in the great chair, he could say to himself, with a holy triumph,--"The work is finished!"
It was finished. Here was a Bible for the Indians. Those
long lost descendants of the ten tribes of
There is no impiety in believing that, when his long life was over, the apostle of the Indians was welcomed to the celestial abodes by the prophets of ancient days, and by those earliest apostles and evangelists, who had drawn their inspiration from the immediate presence of the Saviour. They first had preached truth and salvation to the world. And Eliot, separated from them by many centuries, yet full of the same spirit, had borne the like message to the new world of the West. Since the first days of Christianity, there has been no man more worthy to be numbered in the brotherhood of the apostles, than Eliot.
"My heart is not satisfied to think," observed Laurence, "that Mr. Eliot's labors have done no good, except to a few Indians of his own time. Doubtless, he would not have regretted his toil, if it were the means of saving but a single soul. But it is a grievous thing to me, that he should have toiled so hard to translate the Bible, and now the language and the people are gone! The Indian Bible itself is almost the only relic of both."
"Laurence," said his Grandfather, "if ever you should doubt that man is capable of disinterested zeal for his brother's good, then remember how the apostle Eliot toiled. And if you should feel your own self-interest pressing upon your heart too closely, then think of Eliot's Indian Bible. It is good for the world that such a man has lived, and left this emblem of his life."
The tears gushed into the eyes of Laurence, and he
acknowledged that Eliot had not toiled in vain. Little
"Grandfather," whispered she, "I want to kiss good Mr. Eliot!"
And, doubtless, good Mr. Eliot would gladly receive the kiss
of so sweet a child as little
Grandfather now observed, that Dr. Francis had written a very beautiful Life of Eliot, which he advised Laurence to peruse. He then spoke of King Philip's war, which began in 1675, and terminated with the death of King Philip, in the following year. Philip was a proud, fierce Indian, whom Mr. Eliot had vainly endeavored to convert to the Christian faith.
"It must have been a great anguish to the apostle," continued Grandfather, "to hear of mutual slaughter and outrage between his own countrymen, and those for whom he felt the affection of a father. A few of the praying Indians joined the followers of King Philip. A greater number fought on the side of the English. In the course of the war, the little community of red people whom Mr. Eliot had begun to civilize, was scattered, and probably never was restored to a flourishing condition. But his zeal did not grow cold; and only about five years before his death he took great pains in preparing a new edition of the Indian Bible."
"I do wish Grandfather," cried Charley, "you would tell us all about the battles in King Philip's war."
"O, no!" exclaimed Clara. "Who wants to hear about tomahawks and scalping knives!"
"No, Charley," replied Grandfather, "I have no time to spare in talking about battles. You must be content with knowing that it was the bloodiest war that the Indians had ever waged against the white men; and that, at its close, the English set King Philip's head upon a pole."
"Who was the captain of the English?" asked Charley.
"Their most noted captain was Benjamin Church,--a very
famous warrior," said Grandfather. "But I assure you, Charley, that
"Let Laurence be the apostle," said Charley to himself, "and I will be the captain."
The children were now accustomed to assemble round Grandfather's chair, at all their unoccupied moments; and often it was a striking picture to behold the white-headed old sire, with this flowery wreath of young people around him. When he talked to them, it was the past speaking to the present,--or rather to the future, for the children were of a generation which had not become actual. Their part in life, thus far, was only to be happy, and to draw knowledge from a thousand sources. As yet, it was not their time to do.
Sometimes, as Grandfather gazed at their fair, unworldly countenances, a mist of tears bedimmed his spectacles. He almost regretted that it was necessary for them to know any thing of the past, or to provide aught for the future. He could have wished that they might be always the happy, youthful creatures, who had hitherto sported around his chair, without inquiring whether it had a history. It grieved him to think that his little Alice, who was a flower-bud fresh from paradise, must open her leaves to the rough breezes of the world, or ever open them in any clime. So sweet a child she was, that it seemed fit her infancy should be immortal!
But such repinings were merely flitting shadows across the old man's heart. He had faith enough to believe, and wisdom enough to know, that the bloom of the flower would be even holier and happier than its bud. Even within himself,--though Grandfather was now at that period of life, when the veil of mortality is apt to hang heavily over the soul,--still, in his inmost being, he was conscious of something that he would not have exchanged for the best happiness of childhood. It was a bliss to which every sort of earthly experience,--all that he had enjoyed or suffered, or seen, or heard, or acted, with the broodings of his soul upon the whole,--had contributed somewhat. In the same manner must a bliss, of which now they could have no conception, grow up within these children, and form a part of their sustenance for immortality.
So Grandfather, with renewed cheerfulness, continued his history of the chair, trusting that a profounder wisdom than his own would extract, from these flowers and weeds of Time, a fragrance that might last beyond all time.
At this period of the story, Grandfather threw a glance
backward, as far as the year 1660. He spoke of the ill-concealed reluctance
with which the Puritans in
During the reign of Charles the Second, however, the
American colonies had but little reason to complain of harsh or tyrannical
treatment. But when Charles died, in 1685, and was succeeded by his brother
James, the patriarchs of
The result proved that they had reason for their
apprehensions. King James caused the charters of all the American colonies to
be taken away. The old charter of
The king had given such powers to Sir Edmund Andros, that there was now no liberty, nor scarcely any law, in the colonies over which he ruled. The inhabitants were not allowed to choose representatives, and consequently had no voice whatever in the government, nor control over the measures that were adopted. The counsellors, with whom the governor consulted on matters of state, were appointed by himself. This sort of government was no better than an absolute despotism.
"The people suffered much wrong, while Sir Edmund
Andros ruled over them," continued Grandfather,
"and they were apprehensive of much more. He had brought some soldiers
with him from
"For what?" inquired Charley.
"Because they were the leaders of the people,
Charley," said Grandfather. "A minister was a more formidable man
than a general, in those days. Well; while these things were going on in
Grandfather told how, at the first intelligence of the
landing of the Prince of Orange in
"Governor Bradstreet was a venerable old man, nearly ninety years of age," said Grandfather. "He came over with the first settlers, and had been the intimate companion of all those excellent and famous men who laid the foundation of our country. They were all gone before him to the grave; and Bradstreet was the last of the Puritans."
Grandfather paused a moment, and smiled, as if he had something very interesting to tell his auditors. He then proceeded:
"And now, Laurence,--now, Clara,--now, Charley,--now,
my dear little
"I am glad to hear it, with all my heart!" cried Charley, after a shout of delight. "I thought Grandfather had quite forgotten the chair."
"It was a solemn and affecting sight," said Grandfather, "when this venerable patriarch, with his white beard flowing down upon his breast, took his seat in his Chair of State. Within his remembrance, and even since his mature age, the site where now stood the populous town, had been a wild and forest-covered peninsula. The province, now so fertile, and spotted with thriving villages, had been a desert wilderness. He was surrounded by a shouting multitude, most of whom had been born in the country which he had helped to found. They were of one generation, and he of another. As the old man looked upon them, and beheld new faces everywhere, he must have felt that it was now time for him to go, whither his brethren had gone before him."
"Were the former governors all dead and gone?" asked Laurence.
"All of them," replied Grandfather. "
"I am sorry for it," observed Laurence; "for,
though they were so stern, yet it seems to me that there was something warm and
real about them. I think, Grandfather, that each of these old governors should
have his statue set up in our State House, sculptured out of the hardest of
"It would not be amiss, Laurence," said
Grandfather; "but perhaps clay, or some other perishable material, might
suffice for some of their successors. But let us go back to our chair. It was
occupied by Governor Bradstreet from April, 1689, until May, 1692. Sir William
Phips then arrived in
"And what became of the chair," inquired Clara.
"The outward aspect of our chair," replied
Grandfather, "was now somewhat the worse for its long and arduous
services. It was considered hardly magnificent enough to be allowed to keep its
place in the council chamber of
"Why, Grandfather, here is the very arm!" interrupted Charley, in great wonderment. "And did Sir William Phips put in these screws with his own hands? I am sure, he did it beautifully! But how came a governor to know how to mend a chair?"
"I will tell you a story about the early life of Sir William Phips," said Grandfather. "You will then perceive, that he well knew how to use his hands."
So Grandfather related the wonderful and true tale of
THE SUNKEN TREASURE
Picture to yourselves, my dear children, a handsome, old-fashioned room, with a large, open cupboard at one end, in which is displayed a magnificent gold cup, with some other splendid articles of gold and silver plate. In another part of the room, opposite to a tall looking-glass, stands our beloved chair, newly polished, and adorned with a gorgeous cushion of crimson velvet tufted with gold.
In the chair sits a man of strong and sturdy frame, whose
face has been roughened by northern tempests, and blackened by the burning sun
Somewhat such an aspect as this, did Sir William Phips
present, when he sat in Grandfather's chair, after the king had appointed him
But Sir William Phips had not always worn a gold embroidered
coat, nor always sat so much at his ease as he did in Grandfather's chair. He
was a poor man's son, and was born in the
In 1673, when he was twenty-two years old, he came to
Do not suppose, children, that he had been to a fortune-teller to inquire his destiny. It was his own energy and spirit of enterprise, and his resolution to lead an industrious life, that made him look forward with so much confidence to better days.
Several years passed away; and William Phips had not yet gained the riches which he promised to himself. During this time he had begun to follow the sea for a living. In the year 1684, he happened to hear of a Spanish ship, which had been cast away near the Bahama Islands, and which was supposed to contain a great deal of gold and silver. Phips went to the place in a small vessel, hoping that he should be able to recover some of the treasure from the wreck. He did not succeed, however, in fishing up gold and silver enough to pay the expenses of his voyage.
But, before he returned, he was told of another Spanish ship or galleon, which had been cast away near Porto de la Plata. She had now lain as much as fifty years beneath the waves. This old ship had been laden with immense wealth; and, hitherto, nobody had thought of the possibility of recovering any part of it from the deep sea, which was rolling and tossing it about. But though it was now an old story, and the most aged people had almost forgotten that such a vessel had been wrecked. William Phips resolved that the sunken treasure should again be brought to light.
He went to
Captain Phips sailed from
The seamen of the Rose Algier became discouraged, and gave
up all hope of making their fortunes by discovering the Spanish wreck. They
wanted to compel Captain Phips to turn pirate. There was a much better
prospect, they thought, of growing rich by plundering vessels, which still
sailed the sea, than by seeking for a ship that had lain beneath the waves full
half a century. They broke out in open mutiny, but were finally mastered by
Phips, and compelled to obey his orders. It would have been dangerous, however,
to continue much longer at sea with such a crew of mutinous sailors; and,
besides, the Rose Algier was leaky and unseaworthy. So Captain Phips judged it
best to return to
Before leaving the
On his arrival in
The boat was intended for the purpose of going closer to the reef of rocks than a large vessel could safely venture. When it was finished, the Captain sent several men in it, to examine the spot where the Spanish ship was said to have been wrecked. They were accompanied by some Indians, who were skilful divers, and could go down a great way into the depths of the sea.
The boat's crew proceeded to the reef of rocks, and rowed round and round it, a great many times. They gazed down into the water, which was so transparent that it seemed as if they could have seen the gold and silver at the bottom, had there been any of those precious metals there. Nothing, however, could they see; nothing more valuable than a curious sea shrub, which was growing beneath the water, in a crevice of the reef of rocks. It flaunted to and fro with the swell and reflux of the waves, and looked as bright and beautiful as if its leaves were gold.
"We won't go back empty-handed," cried an English sailor; and then he spoke to one of the Indian divers. "Dive down and bring me that pretty sea shrub there. That's the only treasure we shall find!"
Down plunged the diver, and soon rose dripping from the water, holding the sea shrub in his hand. But he had learnt some news at the bottom of the sea.
"There are some ship's guns," said he, the moment he had drawn breath, "some great cannon among the rocks, near where the shrub was growing."
No sooner had he spoken, than the English sailors knew that they had found the very spot where the Spanish galleon had been wrecked so many years before. The other Indian divers immediately plunged over the boat's side, and swam headlong down, groping among the rocks and sunken cannon. In a few moments one of them rose above the water, with a heavy lump of silver in his arms. That single lump was worth more than a thousand dollars. The sailors took it into the boat, and then rowed back as speedily as they could, being in haste to inform Captain Phips of their good luck.
But, confidently as the Captain had hoped to find the Spanish wreck, yet now that it was really found, the news seemed too good to be true. He could not believe it till the sailors showed him the lump of silver.
"Thanks be to God!" then cries Captain Phips. "We shall every man of us make our fortunes!"
Hereupon the Captain and all the crew set to work, with iron
rakes and great hooks and lines, fishing for gold and silver at the bottom of
the sea. Up came the treasure in abundance. Now they beheld a table of solid
silver, once the property of an old Spanish Grandee. Now they found a
sacramental vessel, which had been destined as a gift to some Catholic church.
Now they drew up a golden cup, fit for the king of
There is something sad and terrible in the idea of snatching all this wealth from the devouring ocean, which had possessed it for such a length of years. It seems as if men had no right to make themselves rich with it. It ought to have been left with the skeletons of the ancient Spaniards, who had been drowned when the ship was wrecked, and whose bones were now scattered among the gold and silver.
But Captain Phips and his crew were troubled with no such thoughts as these. After a day or two they lighted on another part of the wreck, where they found a great many bags of silver dollars. But nobody could have guessed that these were money-bags. By remaining so long in the salt-water, they had become covered over with a crust which had the appearance of stone, so that it was necessary to break them in pieces with hammers and axes. When this was done, a stream of silver dollars gushed out upon the deck of the vessel.
The whole value of the recovered treasure, plate, bullion, precious stones, and all, was estimated at more than two millions of dollars. It was dangerous even to look at such a vast amount of wealth. A sea captain, who had assisted Phips in the enterprise, utterly lost his reason at the sight of it. He died two years afterwards, still raving about the treasures that lie at the bottom of the sea. It would have been better for this man, if he had left the skeletons of the shipwrecked Spaniards in quiet possession of their wealth.
Captain Phips and his men continued to fish up plate,
bullion, and dollars, as plentifully as ever, till their provisions grew short.
Then, as they could not feed upon gold and silver any more than old King Midas
could, they found it necessary to go in search of better sustenance. Phips
resolved to return to
The Captain's share, however, was enough to make him
comfortable for the rest of his days. It also enabled him to fulfil his promise
to his wife, by building a "fair brick house," in the
"Sir William Phips," continued Grandfather,
"was too active and adventurous a man to sit still in the quiet enjoyment
of his good fortune. In the year 1690, he went on a military expedition against
the French colonies in
"Why, grandfather, he was the greatest man that ever sat in the chair!" cried Charley.
"Ask Laurence what he thinks," replied Grandfather
with a smile. "Well; in the same year, Sir William took command of an
Charley, whose fancy had been greatly taken by the adventurous disposition of Sir William Phips, was eager to know how he had acted, and what happened to him while he held the office of governor. But Grandfather had made up his mind to tell no more stories for the present.
"Possibly, one of these days, I may go on with the
adventures of the chair," said he. "But its history becomes very
obscure just at this point; and I must search into some old books and
manuscripts, before proceeding further. Besides, it is now a good time to pause
in our narrative; because the new charter, which Sir William Phips brought over
"Really, Grandfather," observed Laurence, "this seems to be the most remarkable chair in the world. Its history cannot be told without intertwining it with the lives of distinguished men, and the great events that have befallen the country."
"True, Laurence," replied Grandfather, smiling, "We must write a book, with some such title as this,--MEMOIRS OF MY OWN TIMES, BY GRANDFATHER'S CHAIR."
"That would be beautiful!" exclaimed Laurence, clapping his hands.
"But, after all," continued Grandfather, "any other old chair, if it possessed memory, and a hand to write its recollections, could record stranger stories than any that I have told you. From generation to generation, a chair sits familiarly in the midst of human interests, and is witness to the most secret and confidential intercourse, that mortal man can hold with his fellow. The human heart may best be read in the fireside chair. And as to external events, Grief and Joy keep a continual vicissitude around it and within it. Now we see the glad face and glowing form of Joy, sitting merrily in the old chair, and throwing a warm fire-light radiance over all the household. Now, while we thought not of it, the dark clad mourner, Grief, has stolen into the place of Joy, but not to retain it long. The imagination can hardly grasp so wide a subject, as is embraced in the experience of a family chair."
"It makes my breath flutter,--my heart thrill,--to think of it," said Laurence. "Yes; a family chair must have a deeper history than a Chair of State."
"O, yes!" cried Clara, expressing a woman's feeling on the point in question, "The history of a country is not nearly so interesting as that of a single family would be."
"But the history of a country is more easily told," said Grandfather. "So, if we proceed with our narrative of the chair, I shall still confine myself to its connection with public events."
Good old Grandfather now rose and quitted the room, while the children remained gazing at the chair. Laurence, so vivid was his conception of past times, would hardly have deemed it strange, if its former occupants, one after another, had resumed the seat which they had each left vacant, such a dim length of years ago.
First, the gentle and lovely lady Arbella would have been
seen in the old chair, almost sinking out of its arms, for very weakness; then
Roger Williams, in his cloak and band, earnest, energetic, and benevolent; then
the figure of Anne Hutchinson, with the like gesture as when she presided at
the assemblages of women; then the dark, intellectual face of Vane, "young
in years, but in sage counsel old." Next would have appeared the
But, all these, with the other historic personages, in the midst of whom the chair had so often stood, had passed, both in substance and shadow, from the scene of ages. Yet here stood the chair, with the old Lincoln coat of arms, and the oaken flowers and foliage, and the fierce lion's head at the summit, the whole, apparently, in as perfect preservation as when it had first been placed in the Earl of Lincoln's Hall. And what vast changes of society and of nations had been wrought by sudden convulsions or by slow degrees, since that era!
"This chair has stood firm when the thrones of kings were overturned!" thought Laurence. "Its oaken frame has proved stronger than many frames of government!"
More the thoughtful and imaginative boy might have mused; but now a large yellow cat, a great favorite with all the children, leaped in at the open window. Perceiving that Grandfather's chair was empty, and having often before experienced its comforts, puss laid herself quietly down upon the cushion. Laurence, Clara, Charley, and little Alice, all laughed at the idea of such a successor to the worthies of old times.
"Pussy," said little
"O Grandfather," dear Grandfather, cried little Alice, "pray tell us some more stories about your chair!"
How long a time had fled, since the children had felt any curiosity to hear the sequel of this venerable chair's adventures! Summer was now past and gone, and the better part of Autumn likewise. Dreary, chill November was howling, out of doors, and vexing the atmosphere with sudden showers of wintry rain, or sometimes with gusts of snow, that rattled like small pebbles against the windows.
When the weather began to grow cool, Grandfather's chair had been removed from the summer parlor into a smaller and snugger room. It now stood by the side of a bright blazing wood-fire. Grandfather loved a wood-fire, far better than a grate of glowing anthracite, or than the dull heat of an invisible furnace, which seems to think that it has done its duty in merely warming the house. But the wood-fire is a kindly, cheerful, sociable spirit, sympathizing with mankind, and knowing that to create warmth is but one of the good offices which are expected from it. Therefore it dances on the hearth, and laughs broadly through the room, and plays a thousand antics, and throws a joyous glow over all the faces that encircle it.
In the twilight of the evening, the fire grew brighter and more cheerful. And thus, perhaps, there was something in Grandfather's heart, that cheered him most with its warmth and comfort in the gathering twilight of old age. He had been gazing at the red embers, as intently as if his past life were all pictured there, or as if it were a prospect of the future world, when little Alice's voice aroused him.
"Dear Grandfather," repeated the little girl, more earnestly, "do talk to us again about your chair."
Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice, had been attracted to other objects, for two or three months past. They had sported in the gladsome sunshine of the present, and so had forgotten the shadowy region of the past, in the midst of which stood Grandfather's chair. But now, in the autumnal twilight, illuminated by the flickering blaze of the wood-fire, they looked at the old chair and thought that it had never before worn such an interesting aspect. There it stood, in the venerable majesty of more than two hundred years. The light from the hearth quivered upon the flowers and foliage, that were wrought into its oaken back; and the lion's head at the summit seemed almost to move its jaws and shake its mane.
"Oh, yes, yes, Grandfather!" cried Clara. "The dear old chair! How strange that we should have forgotten it so long!"
"Oh, pray begin, Grandfather," said Laurence; "for I think, when we talk about old times, it should be in the early evening before the candles are lighted. The shapes of the famous persons, who once sat in the chair, will be more apt to come back, and be seen among us, in this glimmer and pleasant gloom, than they would in the vulgar daylight. And, besides, we can make pictures of all that you tell us, among the glowing embers and white ashes."
Our friend Charley, too, thought the evening the best time to hear Grandfather's stories, because he could not then be playing out of doors. So, finding his young auditors unanimous in their petition, the good old gentleman took up the narrative of the historic chair, at the point where he had dropt it.
"You recollect, my dear children," said
Grandfather, "that we took leave of the chair in 1692, while it was occupied
by Sir William Phips. This fortunate treasure-seeker, you will remember, had
come over from
"Did the new charter allow the people all their former liberties?" inquired Laurence.
"No," replied Grandfather. "Under the first charter, the people had been the source of all power. Winthrop, Endicott, Bradstreet, and the rest of them, had been governors by the choice of the people, without any interference of the king. But henceforth the governor was to hold his station solely by the king's appointment, and during his pleasure; and the same was the case with the lieutenant-governor, and some other high officers. The people, however, were still allowed to choose representatives; and the governor's council was chosen by the general court."
"Would the inhabitants have elected Sir William Phips," asked Laurence, "if the choice of governor had been left to them?"
"He might probably have been a successful candidate," answered Grandfather; "for his adventures and military enterprises had gained him a sort of renown, which always goes a great way with the people. And he had many popular characteristics, being a kind, warm-hearted man, not ashamed of his low origin, nor haughty in his present elevation. Soon after his arrival, he proved that he did not blush to recognize his former associates."
"How was that?" inquired Charley.
"He made a grand festival at his new brick house,"
said Grandfather, "and invited all the ship-carpenters of
"An aristocrat need not be ashamed of the trade," observed Laurence; "for the czar Peter the Great once served an apprenticeship to it."
"Did Sir William Phips make as good a governor as he was a ship-carpenter?" asked Charley.
"History says but little about his merits as a ship-carpenter," answered Grandfather; "but, as a governor, a great deal of fault was found with him. Almost as soon as he assumed the government, he became engaged in a very frightful business, which might have perplexed a wiser and better cultivated head than his. This was the witchcraft delusion."
And here Grandfather gave his auditors such details of this
melancholy affair, as he thought it fit for them to know. They shuddered to
hear that a frenzy, which led to the death of many innocent persons, had
originated in the wicked arts of a few children. They belonged to the Rev. Mr.
Parris, minister of
These stories spread abroad, and caused great tumult and
alarm. From the foundation of
Nobody could be certain that his nearest neighbor, or most
intimate friend, was not guilty of this imaginary crime. The number of those
who pretended to be afflicted by witchcraft, grew daily more numerous; and they
bore testimony against many of the best and worthiest people. A minister, named
George Burroughs, was among the accused. In the months of August and September,
1692, he, and nineteen other innocent men and women, were put to death. The
place of execution was a high hill, on the outskirts of
The martyrdom of these guiltless persons seemed only to
increase the madness. The afflicted now grew bolder in their accusations. Many
people of rank and wealth were either thrown into prison, or compelled to flee
for their lives. Among these were two sons of old Simon Bradstreet, the last of
the Puritan governors. Mr. Willard, a pious minister of
"The boldest thing that the accusers did," continued Grandfather, "was to cry out against the governor's own beloved wife. Yes; the lady of Sir William Phips was accused of being a witch, and of flying through the air to attend witch meetings. When the governor heard this, he probably trembled, so that our great chair shook beneath him."
"Dear Grandfather," cried little
"No, no, dear little
Grandfather then said, that the
next remarkable event, while Sir William Phips remained in the chair, was the
"Soon after this," said Grandfather, "Sir William Phips quarrelled with the captain of an English frigate, and also with the Collector of Boston. Being a man of violent temper, he gave each of them a sound beating with his cane."
"He was a bold fellow," observed Charley, who was himself somewhat addicted to a similar mode of settling disputes.
"More bold than wise," replied Grandfather;
"for complaints were carried to the king, and Sir William Phips was
"Why, Grandfather," exclaimed Laurence, "what magnificent ideas the governor had! Only think of recovering all that old treasure, which had lain almost two centuries under the sea! Me thinks Sir William Phips ought to have been buried in the ocean, when he died; so that he might have gone down among the sunken ships, and cargoes of treasure, which he was always dreaming about in his lifetime."
"He was buried in one of the crowded cemeteries of
"At the death of Sir William Phips," proceeded Grandfather, "our chair was bequeathed to Mr.
Ezekiel Cheever, a famous school-master in
"Was the chair placed in his school?" asked Charley.
"Yes, in his school," answered Grandfather;
"and we may safely say that it had never before been regarded with such
awful reverence--no, not even when the old governors of
And here Grandfather endeavored to give his auditors an idea how matters were managed in schools above a hundred years ago. As this will probably be an interesting subject to our readers, we shall make a separate sketch of it, and call it
Now imagine yourselves, my children, in Master Ezekiel Cheever's school-room. It is a large, dingy room, with a sanded floor, and is lighted by windows that turn on hinges, and have little diamond shaped panes of glass. The scholars sit on long benches, with desks before them. At one end of the room is a great fire-place, so very spacious, that there is room enough for three or four boys to stand in each of the chimney corners. This was the good old fashion of fire-places, when there was wood enough in the forests to keep people warm, without their digging into the bowels of the earth for coal.
It is a winter's day when we take our peep into the school-room. See what great logs of wood have been rolled into the fire-place, and what a broad, bright blaze goes leaping up the chimney! And every few moments, a vast cloud of smoke is puffed into the room, which sails slowly over the heads of the scholars, until it gradually settles upon the walls and ceiling. They are blackened with the smoke of many years already.
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Next, look at our old historic chair! It is placed, you perceive, in the most comfortable part of the room, where the generous glow of the fire is sufficiently felt, without being too intensely hot. How stately the old chair looks, as if it remembered its many famous occupants, but yet were conscious that a greater man is sitting in it now! Do you see the venerable school-master, severe in aspect, with a black scull-cap on his head, like an ancient Puritan, and the snow of his white beard drifting down to his very girdle? What boy would dare to play, or whisper, or even glance aside from his book, while Master Cheever is on the look-out, behind his spectacles! For such offenders, if any such there be, a rod of birch is hanging over the fire-place, and a heavy ferule lies on the master's desk.
And now school is begun. What a murmur of multitudinous tongues, like the whispering leaves of a wind-stirred oak, as the scholars con over their various tasks! Buz, buz, buz! Amid just such a murmur has Master Cheever spent above sixty years: and long habit has made it as pleasant to him as the hum of a bee-hive, when the insects are busy in the sunshine.
Now a class in Latin is called to recite. Forth steps a row
of queer-looking little fellows, wearing square-skirted coats, and small
clothes, with buttons at the knee. They look like so many grandfathers in their
second childhood. These lads are to be sent to
But, as they are merely school-boys now, their business is to construe Virgil. Poor Virgil, whose verses, which he took so much pains to polish, have been mis-scanned, and mis-parsed, and mis-interpreted, by so many generations of idle school-boys! There, sit down, ye Latinists. Two or three of you, I fear, are doomed to feel the master's ferule.
Next comes a class in Arithmetic.
These boys are to be the merchants, shop-keepers, and mechanics, of a future
period. Hitherto, they have traded only in marbles and apples. Hereafter, some
will send vessels to
This class of boys, in short, must supply the world with those active, skilful hands, and clear, sagacious heads, without which the affairs of life would be thrown into confusion, by the theories of studious and visionary men. Wherefore, teach them their multiplication table, good Master Cheever, and whip them well, when they deserve it; for much of the country's welfare depends on these boys!
But, alas! while we have been thinking of other matters, Master Cheever's watchful eye has caught two boys at play. Now we shall see awful times! The two malefactors are summoned before the master's chair, wherein he sits, with the terror of a judge upon his brow. Our old chair is now a judgment-seat. Ah, Master Cheever has taken down that terrible birch-rod! Short is the trial--the sentence quickly passed--and now the judge prepares to execute it in person. Thwack! thwack! thwack! In those good old times, a school-master's blows were well laid on.
See! the birch-rod has lost several
of its twigs, and will hardly serve for another execution. Mercy on us, what a
bellowing the urchins make! My ears are almost deafened, though the clamor
comes through the far length of a hundred and fifty years. There, go to your
seats, poor boys; and do not cry, sweet little
And thus the forenoon passes away. Now it is twelve o'clock. The master looks at his great silver watch, and then with tiresome deliberation, puts the ferule into his desk. The little multitude await the word of dismissal, with almost irrepressible impatience.
"You are dismissed," says Master Cheever.
The boys retire, treading softly until they have passed the threshold; but, fairly out of the school-room, lo, what a joyous shout!--what a scampering and trampling of feet!--what a sense of recovered freedom, expressed in the merry uproar of all their voices! What care they for the ferule and birch-rod now? Were boys created merely to study Latin and Arithmetic? No; the better purposes of their being are to sport, to leap, to run, to shout, to slide upon the ice, to snow-ball!
Happy boys! Enjoy your play-time now, and come again to
study, and to feel the birch-rod and the ferule, to-morrow; not till to-morrow,
for to-day is Thursday-lecture; and ever since the settlement of
Now the master has set every thing to rights, and is ready to go home to dinner. Yet he goes reluctantly. The old man has spent so much of his life in the smoky, noisy, buzzing school-room, that, when he has a holiday, he feels as if his place were lost, and himself a stranger in the world. But, forth he goes; and there stands our old chair, vacant and solitary, till good Master Cheever resumes his seat in it to-morrow morning.
"Grandfather," said Charley, "I wonder whether the boys did not use to upset the old chair, when the school-master was out?"
"There is a tradition," replied Grandfather, "that one of its arms was dislocated, in some such manner. But I cannot believe that any school-boy would behave so naughtily."
As it was now later than little Alice's usual bedtime, Grandfather broke off his narrative, promising to talk more about Master Cheever and his scholars, some other evening.
Accordingly the next evening, Grandfather resumed the history of his beloved chair.
"Master Ezekiel Cheever," said he, "died in 1707, after having taught school about seventy years. It would require a pretty good scholar in arithmetic to tell how many stripes he had inflicted, and how many birch-rods he had worn out, during all that time, in his fatherly tenderness for his pupils. Almost all the great men of that period, and for many years back, had been whipt into eminence by Master Cheever. Moreover, he had written a Latin Accidence, which was used in schools more than half a century after his death; so that the good old man, even in his grave, was still the cause of trouble and stripes to idle school-boys."
Grandfather proceeded to say, that, when Master Cheever
died, he bequeathed the chair to the most learned man that was educated at his
school, or that had ever been born in
"And author of the Magnalia, Grandfather, which we sometimes see you reading," said Laurence.
"Yes, Laurence," replied Grandfather. "The Magnalia is a strange, pedantic history, in which true events and real personages move before the reader, with the dreamy aspect which they wore in Cotton Mather's singular mind. This huge volume, however, was written and published before our chair came into his possession. But, as he was the author of more books than there are days in the year, we may conclude that he wrote a great deal, while sitting in this chair."
"I am tired of these school-masters and learned men," said Charley. "I wish some stirring man, that knew how to do something in the world, like Sir William Phips, would set in the chair."
"Such men seldom have leisure to sit quietly in a chair," said Grandfather. "We must make the best of such people as we have."
As Cotton Mather was a very distinguished man, Grandfather
took some pains to give the children a lively conception of his character. Over
the door of his library were painted these words--BE SHORT--as a warning to
visitors that they must not do the world so much harm, as needlessly to
interrupt this great man's wonderful labors. On entering the room you would
probably behold it crowded, and piled, and heaped with books. There were huge,
ponderous folios and quartos, and little duodecimos, in English, Latin, Greek,
Hebrew, Chaldaic, and all other languages, that either originated at the
All these books, no doubt, were tossed about in confusion, thus forming a visible emblem of the manner in which their contents were crowded into Cotton Mather's brain. And in the middle of the room stood a table, on which, besides printed volumes, were strewn manuscript sermons, historical tracts, and political pamphlets, all written in such a queer, blind, crabbed, fantastical hand, that a writing-master would have gone raving mad at the sight of them. By this table stood Grandfather's chair, which seemed already to have contracted an air of deep erudition, as if its cushion were stuffed with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and other hard matters.
In this chair, from one year's end to another, sat that
prodigious book-worm, Cotton Mather, sometimes devouring a great book, and
sometimes scribbling one as big. In Grandfather's younger days, there used to
be a wax figure of him in one of the
"It is difficult, my children," observed Grandfather, "to make you understand such a character as Cotton Mather's, in whom there was so much good, and yet so many failings and frailties. Undoubtedly, he was a pious man. Often he kept fasts; and once, for three whole days, he allowed himself not a morsel of food, but spent the time in prayer and religious meditation. Many a live-long night did he watch and pray. These fasts and vigils made him meagre and haggard, and probably caused him to appear as if he hardly belonged to the world."
"Was not the witchcraft delusion partly caused by Cotton Mather?" inquired Laurence.
"He was the chief agent of the mischief," answered Grandfather; "but we will not suppose that he acted otherwise than conscientiously. He believed that there were evil spirits all about the world. Doubtless he imagined that they were hidden in the corners and crevices of his library, and that they peeped out from among the leaves of many of his books, as he turned them over, at midnight. He supposed that these unlovely demons were everywhere, in the sunshine as well as in the darkness, and that they were hidden in men's hearts, and stole into their most secret thoughts."
Here Grandfather was interrupted by little Alice, who hid her face in his lap, and murmured a wish that he would not talk any more about Cotton Mather and the evil spirits. Grandfather kissed her, and told her that angels were the only spirits whom she had any thing to do with. He then spoke of the public affairs of the period.
A new war between
The New Englanders knew that they could never dwell in
security, until the provinces of
Fleets and soldiers were often sent from
What with recruiting and drilling of soldiers, there was now
nothing but warlike bustle in the streets of
"Cotton Mather prayed most fervently for their
success," continued Grandfather, "both in his pulpit, and when he
kneeled down in the solitude of his library, resting his face on our old chair.
"I would never give it up so," cried Charley.
"Nor did they, as we shall see," replied
Grandfather. "However, no more attempts were made during this war, which
came to a close in 1713. The people of
"How glorious it would have been," remarked Laurence, "if our forefathers could have kept the country unspotted with blood."
"Yes," said Grandfather; "but there was a stern warlike spirit in them, from the beginning. They seem never to have thought of questioning either the morality or piety of war."
The next event, which Grandfather spoke of, was one that
Cotton Mather, as well as most of the other inhabitants of
"The importance of this event," observed Grandfather, "was a thousand times greater than that of a Presidential Election, in our own days. If the people dislike their president, they may get rid of him in four years; whereas, a dynasty of kings may wear the crown for an unlimited period."
The German elector was proclaimed king from the balcony of
the town-house, in
"Cotton Mather," continued Grandfather, "was
a bitter enemy to Governor Dudley; and nobody exulted more than he, when that
crafty politician was removed from the government, and succeeded by Colonel
Shute. This took place in 1716. The new governor had been an officer in the
renowned Duke of Marlborough's army, and had fought in some of the great
"Now, I hope," said Charley, "we shall hear of his doing great things."
"I am afraid you will be disappointed, Charley,"
answered Grandfather. "It is true, that Colonel Shute had probably never
led so unquiet a life while fighting the French, as he did now, while governing
Grandfather here explained some of the circumstances, that made the situation of a colonial governor so difficult and irksome. There was not the same feeling towards the chief magistrate, now, that had existed, while he was chosen by the free suffrages of the people. It was felt, that, as the king appointed the governor, and as he held his office during the king's pleasure, it would be his great object to please the king. But the people thought, that a governor ought to have nothing in view, but the best interests of those whom he governed.
"The governor," remarked Grandfather, "had two
masters to serve--the king, who appointed him, and the people, on whom he
depended for his pay. Few men, in this position, would have ingenuity enough to
satisfy either party. Colonel Shute, though a good-natured, well-meaning man,
succeeded so ill with the people, that in 1722, he suddenly went away to
"But where was our chair, all this time?" asked Clara.
"It still remained in Cotton Mather's library," replied Grandfather; "and I must not omit to tell you an incident, which is very much to the honor of this celebrated man. It is the more proper, too, that you should hear it, because it will show you what a terrible calamity the small pox was to our forefathers. The history of the province, (and, of course, the history of our chair,) would be incomplete, without particular mention of it." Accordingly, Grandfather told the children a story, to which, for want of a better title, we shall give that of
THE REJECTED BLESSING
One day, in 1721, Doctor Cotton Mather sat in his library, reading a book that had been published by the Royal Society of London. But, every few moments, he laid the book upon the table, and leaned back in Grandfather's chair, with an aspect of deep care and disquietude. There were certain things which troubled him exceedingly, so that he could hardly fix his thoughts upon what he read.
It was now a gloomy time in
The people never felt secure from this calamity. Sometimes,
perhaps, it was brought into the country by a poor sailor, who had caught the
infection in foreign parts, and came hither to die, and to be the cause of many
deaths. Sometimes, no doubt, it followed in the train of the pompous governors,
when they came over from
And now, this dreadful sickness had shown itself again in
"Alas! I fear for that poor child," said Cotton Mather to himself. "What shall I do for my son Samuel?"
Again, he attempted to drive away these thoughts, by taking
up the book which he had been reading. And now, all of a sudden, his attention
became fixed. The book contained a printed letter that an Italian physician had
written upon the very subject, about which Cotton Mather was so anxiously
meditating. He ran his eye eagerly over the pages; and, behold! a method was disclosed to him, by which the small pox might
be robbed of its worst terrors. Such a method was known in
"Of a truth," ejaculated Cotton Mather, clasping
his hands and looking up to Heaven, "it was a merciful
So he arose from Grandfather's chair, and went out of the library. Near the door he met his son Samuel, who seemed downcast and out of spirits. The boy had heard, probably, that some of his playmates were taken ill with the small pox. But, as his father looked cheerfully at him, Samuel took courage, trusting that either the wisdom of so learned a minister would find some remedy for the danger, or else that his prayers would secure protection from on high.
Meanwhile, Cotton Mather took his staff and three-cornered
hat, and walked about the streets, calling at the houses of all the physicians
But these grave and sagacious personages would scarcely listen to him. The oldest doctor in town contented himself with remarking, that no such thing as inoculation was mentioned by Galen or Hippocrates, and it was impossible that modern physicians should be wiser than those old sages. A second held up his hands in dumb astonishment and horror, at the madness of what Cotton Mather proposed to do. A third told him, in pretty plain terms, that he knew not what he was talking about. A fourth requested, in the name of the whole medical fraternity, that Cotton Mather would confine his attention to people's souls, and leave the physicians to take care of their bodies.
In short, there was but a single doctor among them all, who would grant the poor minister so much as a patient hearing. This was Doctor Zabdiel Boylston. He looked into the matter like a man of sense, and finding, beyond a doubt, that inoculation had rescued many from death, he resolved to try the experiment in his own family.
And so he did. But, when the other physicians heard of it, they arose in great fury, and began a war of words, written, printed, and spoken, against Cotton Mather and Doctor Boylston. To hear them talk, you would have supposed that these two harmless and benevolent men had plotted the ruin of the country.
The people, also, took the alarm. Many, who thought
themselves more pious than their neighbors, contended, that, if
You must observe, children, that Cotton Mather's fellow citizens were generally inclined to doubt the wisdom of any measure, which he might propose to them. They recollected how he had led them astray in the old witchcraft delusion; and now, if he thought and acted ever so wisely, it was difficult for him to get the credit of it.
The people's wrath grew so hot at his attempt to guard them from the small pox, that he could not walk the streets in peace. Whenever the venerable form of the old minister, meagre and haggard with fasts and vigils, was seen approaching, hisses were heard, and shouts of derision, and scornful and bitter laughter. The women snatched away their children from his path, lest he should do them a mischief. Still, however, bending his head meekly, and perhaps stretching out his hands to bless those who reviled him, he pursued his way. But the tears came into his eyes, to think how blindly the people rejected the means of safety, that were offered them.
Indeed, there were melancholy sights enough in the streets
"Alas, alas!" said Cotton Mather to himself.
"What shall be done for this poor, misguided people? Oh, that
So furious, however, were the people, that they threatened vengeance against any person who should dare to practise inoculation, though it were only in his own family. This was a hard case for Cotton Mather, who saw no other way to rescue his poor child Samuel from the disease. But he resolved to save him, even if his house should be burnt over his head.
"I will not be turned aside," said he. "My townsmen shall see that I have faith in this thing, when I make the experiment on my beloved son, whose life is dearer to me than my own. And when I have saved Samuel, peradventure they will be persuaded to save themselves."
Accordingly, Samuel was inoculated; and so was Mr. Walter, a son-in-law of Cotton Mather. Doctor Boylston, likewise, inoculated many persons; and while hundreds died, who had caught the contagion from the garments of the sick, almost all were preserved, who followed the wise physician's advice.
But the people were not yet convinced of their mistake. One night, a destructive little instrument, called a hand-grenade, was thrown into Cotton Mather's window, and rolled under Grandfather's chair. It was supposed to be filled with gunpowder, the explosion of which would have blown the poor minister to atoms. But the best-informed historians are of opinion, that the grenade contained only brimstone and assaf[oe]tida, and was meant to plague Cotton Mather with a very evil perfume.
This is no strange thing in human experience. Men, who attempt to do the world more good, than the world is able entirely to comprehend, are almost invariably held in bad odor. But yet, if the wise and good man can wait awhile, either the present generation or posterity, will do him justice. So it proved, in the case which we have been speaking of. In after years, when inoculation was universally practised, and thousands were saved from death by it, the people remembered old Cotton Mather, then sleeping in his grave. They acknowledged that the very thing, for which they had so reviled and persecuted him, was the best and wisest thing he ever did.
"Grandfather, this is not an agreeable story," observed Clara.
"No, Clara," replied Grandfather. "But it is
right that you should know what a dark shadow this disease threw over the times
of our forefathers. And now, if you wish to learn more about Cotton Mather, you
must read his biography, written by Mr. Peabody, of
So Grandfather made an end of Cotton Mather, telling his auditors that he died in 1728, at the age of sixty-five, and bequeathed the chair to Elisha Cooke. This gentleman was a famous advocate of the people's rights.
The same year, William Burnet, a son of the celebrated
Bishop Burnet, arrived in
"I should think," said Laurence, "that the people would have petitioned the king always to appoint a native-born New Englander to govern them."
"Undoubtedly it was a grievance," answered Grandfather, "to see men placed in this station, who perhaps had neither talents nor virtues to fit them for it, and who certainly could have no natural affection for the country. The king generally bestowed the governorships of the American colonies upon needy noblemen, or hangers-on at court, or disbanded officers. The people knew that such persons would be very likely to make the good of the country subservient to the wishes of the king. The legislature, therefore, endeavored to keep as much power as possible in their own hands, by refusing to settle a fixed salary upon the governors. It was thought better to pay them according to their deserts."
"Did Governor Burnet work well for his money?" asked Charley.
Grandfather could not help smiling at the simplicity of Charley's question. Nevertheless, it put the matter in a very plain point of view.
He then described the character of Governor Burnet, representing him as a good scholar, possessed of much ability, and likewise of unspotted integrity. His story affords a striking example, how unfortunate it is for a man, who is placed as ruler over a country, to be compelled to aim at any thing but the good of the people. Governor Burnet was so chained down by his instructions from the king, that he could not act as he might otherwise have wished. Consequently, his whole term of office was wasted in quarrels with the legislature.
"I am afraid, children," said Grandfather, "that Governor Burnet found but little rest or comfort in our old chair. Here he used to sit, dressed in a coat which was made of rough, shaggy cloth outside, but of smooth velvet within. It was said that his own character resembled that coat, for his outward manner was rough, but his inward disposition soft and kind. It is a pity that such a man could not have been kept free from trouble. But so harassing were his disputes with the representatives of the people, that he fell into a fever, of which he died, in 1720. The legislature had refused him a salary, while alive; but they appropriated money enough to give him a splendid and pompous funeral."
And now Grandfather perceived that little
"It puts me in mind," said Laurence, "of the story of the enchanted princess, who slept many a hundred years, and awoke as young and beautiful as ever."
A few evenings afterwards, cousin Clara happened to inquire
of Grandfather, whether the old chair had never been present at a ball. At the
same time, little
"See, Grandfather," cried she. "Did such a pretty lady as this ever sit in your great chair?"
These questions led Grandfather to talk about the fashions
and manners, which now began to be introduced from
Another cause of a pompous and artificial mode of life,
among those who could afford it, was, that the example
was set by the royal governors. Under the old charter, the governors were the
representatives of the people, and therefore their way of living had probably
been marked by a popular simplicity. But now, as they represented the person of
the king, they thought it necessary to preserve the dignity of their station,
by the practice of high and gorgeous ceremonials. And, besides, the profitable
offices under the government were filled by men who had lived in
"So, my dear Clara," said Grandfather, "after our chair had entered the Province House, it must often have been present at balls and festivals, though I cannot give you a description of any particular one. But I doubt not that they were very magnificent; and slaves in gorgeous liveries waited on the guests, and offered them wine in goblets of massive silver."
"Were there slaves in those days?" exclaimed Clara.
"Yes; black slaves and white," replied
Grandfather. "Our ancestors not only bought negroes from Africa, but
Indians from South America, and white people from
"Now, as for this pretty doll, my little
"And how did the gentlemen dress?" asked Charley.
"With full as much magnificence as the ladies," answered Grandfather. "For their holiday suits, they had coats of figured velvet, crimson, green, blue, and all other gay colors, embroidered with gold or silver lace. Their waistcoats, which were five times as large as modern ones, were very splendid. Sometimes, the whole waistcoat, which came down almost to the knees, was made of gold brocade."
"Why, the wearer must have shone like a golden image!" said Clara.
"And, then," continued Grandfather, "they wore
various sorts of periwigs, such as the Tie, the Spencer, the Brigadier, the
"Oh, I should like to wear a sword!" cried Charley.
"And an embroidered crimson velvet coat," said Clara, laughing, "and a gold brocade waistcoat down to your knees!"
"And knee-buckles and shoe-buckles," said Laurence, laughing also.
"And a periwig," added little
Grandfather smiled at the idea of Charley's sturdy little
figure in such a grotesque caparison. He then went on with the history of the
chair, and told the children, that, in 1730, King George the Second appointed
Jonathan Belcher to be governor of
The new governor found Grandfather's chair in the Province House, he was struck with its noble and stately aspect, but was of opinion, that age and hard services had made it scarcely so fit for courtly company, as when it stood in the Earl of Lincoln's hall. Wherefore, as Governor Belcher was fond of splendor, he employed a skilful artist to beautify the chair. This was done by polishing and varnishing it, and by gilding the carved work of the elbows, and likewise the oaken flowers of the back. The lion's head now shone like a veritable lump of gold. Finally, Governor Belcher gave the chair a cushion of blue damask, with a rich golden fringe.
"Our good old chair being thus glorified," proceeded Grandfather, "it glittered with a great deal
more splendor than it had exhibited just a century before, when the Lady
Arbella brought it over from
"Grandfather, I cannot see any of the gilding," remarked Charley, who had been examining the chair very minutely.
"You will not wonder that it has been rubbed off," replied Grandfather, "when you hear all the adventures that have since befallen the chair. Gilded it was; and the handsomest room in the Province House was adorned by it."
There was not much to interest the children, in what happened during the years that Governor Belcher remained in the chair. At first, like Colonel Shute and Governor Burnet, he was engaged in disputing with the legislature about his salary. But, as he found it impossible to get a fixed sum, he finally obtained the king's leave to accept whatever the legislature chose to give him. And thus the people triumphed, after this long contest for the privilege of expending their own money as they saw fit.
The remainder of Governor Belcher's term of office was principally taken up in endeavoring to settle the currency. Honest John Hull's pine-tree shillings had long ago been worn out, or lost, or melted down again, and their place was supplied by bills of paper or parchment, which were nominally valued at three pence and upwards. The value of these bills kept continually sinking, because the real hard money could not be obtained for them. They were a great deal worse than the old Indian currency of clam-shells. These disorders of the circulating medium were a source of endless plague and perplexity to the rulers and legislators, not only in Governor Belcher's days, but for many years before and afterwards.
Finally, the people suspected that Governor Belcher was
secretly endeavoring to establish the Episcopal mode of worship in the
provinces. There was enough of the old Puritan spirit remaining, to cause most
of the true sons of
"William Shirley," said Grandfather, "had
"And I suppose," said Charley, "the governor
went to take
"Not exactly, Charley,"
said Grandfather, "though you have made a pretty shrewd conjecture. He
planned, in 1745, an expedition against Louisbourg. This was a fortified city,
on the Island of Cape Breton, near
As the siege of Louisbourg was one of the most remarkable
events that ever the inhabitants of
THE PROVINCIAL MUSTER
The expedition against Louisbourg first began to be thought of in the month of January. From that time, the governor's chair was continually surrounded by counsellors, representatives, clergymen, captains, pilots, and all manner of people, with whom he consulted about this wonderful project.
First of all, it was necessary to provide men and arms. The
legislature immediately sent out a huge quantity of paper money, with which, as
if by magic spell, the governor hoped to get possession of all the old cannon,
powder and balls, rusty swords and muskets, and every thing else that would be
serviceable in killing Frenchmen. Drums were beaten in all the villages of
But there was one very important thing to be decided. Who
shall be the General of this great army? Peace had continued such an unusual
length of time, that there was now less military experience among the
colonists, than at any former period. The old Puritans had always kept their
weapons bright, and were never destitute of warlike captains, who were skilful
in assault or defence. But the swords of their descendants had grown rusty by
disuse. There was nobody in
In this dilemma, Governor Shirley fixed upon a wealthy merchant, named William Pepperell, who was pretty well known and liked among the people. As to military skill, he had no more of it than his neighbors. But, as the governor urged him very pressingly, Mr. Pepperell consented to shut up his leger, gird on a sword, and assume the title of General.
Meantime, what a hubbub was raised by this scheme! Rub-a-dub-dub! Rub-a-dub-dub! The rattle of drums, beaten out of all manner of time, was heard above every other sound.
Nothing now was so valuable as arms, of whatever style and fashion they might be. The bellows blew, and the hammer clanged continually upon the anvil, while the blacksmiths were repairing the broken weapons of other wars. Doubtless, some of the soldiers lugged out those enormous, heavy muskets, which used to be fired with rests, in the time of the early Puritans. Great horse-pistols, too, were found, which would go off with a bang like a cannon. Old cannon, with touch-holes almost as big as their muzzles, were looked upon as inestimable treasures. Pikes, which perhaps, had been handled by Miles Standish's soldiers, now made their appearance again. Many a young man ransacked the garret, and brought forth his great-grandfather's sword, corroded with rust, and stained with the blood of King Philip's war.
Never had there been seen such an arming as this, when a people, so long peaceful, rose to the war, with the best weapons that they could lay their hands upon. And still the drums were heard--Rub-a-dub-dub! Rub-a-dub-dub!--in all the towns and villages; and louder and more numerous grew the trampling footsteps of the recruits that marched behind.
And now the army began to gather into
Still was heard the beat of the drum--rub-a-dub-dub!--and
now a host of three or four thousand men had found their way to
After the arrival of the troops, they were probably reviewed upon the Common. We may imagine Governor Shirley and General Pepperell riding slowly along the line, while the drummers beat strange old tunes, like psalm-tunes, and all the officers and soldiers put on their most warlike looks. It would have been a terrible sight for the Frenchmen, could they but have witnessed it!
At length, on the twenty-fourth of March, 1745, the army
gave a parting shout, and set sail from
But, stillness and repose, at such a time of anxious
expectation, are hard to bear. The hearts of the old people and women sunk
within them, when they reflected what perils they had sent their sons, and
husbands, and brothers, to encounter. The boys loitered heavily to school,
missing the rub-a-dub-dub, and the trampling march, in the rear of which they
had so lately run and shouted. All the ministers prayed earnestly, in their
pulpits, for a blessing on the army of
Governor Shirley, all this time, was probably in an ecstasy of impatience. He could not sit still a moment. He found no quiet, not even in Grandfather's chair, but hurried to-and-fro, and up and down the staircase of the Province House. Now, he mounted to the cupola, and looked sea-ward, straining his eyes to discover if there were a sail upon the horizon. Now, he hastened down the stairs, and stood beneath the portal, on the red freestone steps, to receive some mud-bespattered courtier, from whom he hoped to hear tidings of the army.
A few weeks after the departure of the troops, Commodore
Warren sent a small vessel to
Day after day, and week after week, went on. The people grew almost heart-sick with anxiety; for the flower of the country was at peril in this adventurous expedition. It was now day-break, on the morning of the third of July.
But, hark! what sound is this? The
hurried clang of a bell! There is the Old North, pealing suddenly out!--there,
the Old South strikes in!--now, the peal comes from the church in
"O Grandfather, how glad I should have been to live in those times!" cried Charley. "And what reward did the king give to General Pepperell and Governor Shirley?"
"He made Pepperell a baronet; so that he was now to be called Sir William Pepperell," replied Grandfather. "He likewise appointed both Pepperell and Shirley to be colonels in the royal army. These rewards, and higher ones, were well deserved; for this was the greatest triumph that the English met with, in the whole course of that war. General Pepperell became a man of great fame. I have seen a full length portrait of him, representing him in a splendid scarlet uniform, standing before the walls of Louisbourg, while several bombs are falling through the air."
"But, did the country gain any real good by the conquest of Louisbourg?" asked Laurence. "Or was all the benefit reaped by Pepperell and Shirley?"
"The English Parliament," said Grandfather,
"agreed to pay the colonists for all the expenses of the siege.
Accordingly, in 1749, two hundred and fifteen chests of Spanish dollars, and
one hundred casks of copper coin, were brought from
"The mothers of the young men, who were killed at the siege of Louisbourg, would not have thought it so," said Laurence.
"No, Laurence," rejoined Grandfather; "and every warlike achievement involves an amount of physical and moral evil, for which all the gold in the Spanish mines would not be the slightest recompense. But, we are to consider that this siege was one of the occasions, on which the colonists tested their ability for war, and thus were prepared for the great contest of the Revolution. In that point of view, the valor of our forefathers was its own reward."
Grandfather went on to say, that the success of the
expedition against Louisbourg, induced Shirley and Pepperell to form a scheme
In the year 1746, great terror was excited by the arrival of
a formidable French fleet upon the coast. It was commanded by the Duke
d'Anville, and consisted of forty ships of war, besides vessels with soldiers
on board. With this force, the French intended to retake Louisbourg, and
afterwards to ravage the whole of
But the hostile fleet met with so many disasters and losses,
by storm and shipwreck, that the Duke d'Anville is
said to have poisoned himself in despair. The officer next in command threw
himself upon his sword and perished. Thus deprived of their commanders, the
remainder of the ships returned to
"In 1747," proceeded
Grandfather, "Governor Shirley was driven from the Province House, not by
a hostile fleet and army, but by a mob of the
Peace being declared between
In the early twilight of Thanksgiving eve, came Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice, hand in hand, and stood in a semi-circle round Grandfather's chair. They had been joyous, throughout that day of festivity, mingling together in all kinds of play, so that the house had echoed with their airy mirth.
Grandfather, too, had been happy, though not mirthful. He felt that this was to be set down as one of the good Thanksgivings of his life. In truth, all his former Thanksgivings had borne their part in the present one; for, his years of infancy, and youth, and manhood with their blessings and their griefs, had flitted before him, while he sat silently in the great chair. Vanished scenes had been pictured in the air. The forms of departed friends had visited him. Voices, to be heard no more on earth, had sent an echo from the infinite and the eternal. These shadows, if such they were, seemed almost as real to him, as what was actually present--as the merry shouts and laughter of the children--as their figures, dancing like sunshine before his eyes.
He felt that the past was not taken from him. The happiness of former days was a possession forever. And there was something in the mingled sorrow of his lifetime, that became akin to happiness, after being long treasured in the depths of his heart. There it underwent a change, and grew more precious than pure gold.
And now came the children, somewhat aweary with their wild play, and sought the quiet enjoyment of Grandfather's talk. The good old gentleman rubbed his eyes, and smiled round upon them all. He was glad, as most aged people are, to find that he was yet of consequence, and could give pleasure to the world. After being so merry, all day long, did these children desire to hear his sober talk? Oh, then, old Grandfather had yet a place to fill among living men,--or at least among boys and girls!
Grandfather," cried little
And, truly, our yellow friend, the cat, lay upon the hearth rug, basking in the warmth of the fire, pricking up her ears, and turning her head from the children to Grandfather, and from Grandfather to the children, as if she felt herself very sympathetic with them all. A loud purr, like the singing of a tea-kettle, or the hum of a spinning-wheel, testified that she was as comfortable and happy as a cat could be. For Puss had feasted, and therefore, like Grandfather and the children, had kept a good Thanksgiving.
"Does Pussy want to hear me?" said Grandfather, smiling. "Well; we must please Pussy, if we can!"
And so he took up the history of the chair, from the epoch
of the peace of 1748. By one of the provisions of the treaty, Louisbourg, which
the New Englanders had been at so much pains to take, was restored to the king
The French were afraid, that, unless their colonies should
be better defended than heretofore, another war might deprive them of the
whole. Almost as soon as peace was declared, therefore, they began to build
strong fortifications in the interior of
The truth was, that the French
intended to build forts, all the way from
"Governor Shirley," said Grandfather, "had
"And what did Sir William Pepperell do?" asked Charley.
"He staid at home," said Grandfather, "and
was general of the militia. The veteran regiments of the English army, which
were now sent across the
At the mention of this illustrious name, the children started, as if a sudden sunlight had gleamed upon the history of their country, now that the great Deliverer had arisen above the horizon.
Among all the events of the Old French War, Grandfather
thought that there was none more interesting than the removal of the
At the peace of 1748, Acadia had been ceded to
"These accusations were probably true," observed
Grandfather; "for the Acadians were descended from the French, and had the
same friendly feelings towards them, that the people
The Acadians were about seven thousand in number. A
considerable part of them were made prisoners, and transported to the English
colonies. All their dwellings and churches were burnt, their cattle were
killed, and the whole country was laid waste, so that none of them might find
shelter or food in their old homes, after the departure of the English. One
thousand of the prisoners were sent to
We shall call this passage the story of
THE ACADIAN EXILES
A sad day it was for the poor Acadians, when the armed
soldiers drove them, at the point of the bayonet, down to the sea-shore. Very
sad were they, likewise, while tossing upon the ocean, in the crowded transport
vessels. But, methinks, it must have been sadder still, when they were landed
Then, probably, they huddled together, and looked into one another's faces for the comfort which was not there. Hitherto, they had been confined on board of separate vessels, so that they could not tell whether their relatives and friends were prisoners along with them. But, now, at least, they could tell that many had been left behind, or transported to other regions.
Now, a desolate wife might be heard calling for her husband.
He, alas! had gone, she knew not whither, or perhaps
had fled into the woods of
Oh, how many broken bonds of affection were here! Country lost!--friends lost!--their rural wealth of cottage, field, and herds, all lost together! Every tie between these poor exiles and the world seemed to be cut off at once. They must have regretted that they had not died before their exile; for even the English would not have been so pitiless as to deny them graves in their native soil. The dead were happy; for they were not exiles!
While they thus stood upon the wharf, the curiosity and
inquisitiveness of the
Among the spectators, too, was the noisy brood of
At a little distance from the throng, might be seen the
wealthy and pompous merchants, whose warehouses stood on
After standing a long time at the end of the wharf, gazing
seaward, as if to catch a glimpse of their lost
They went, we will suppose, in parties and groups, here a hundred, there a score, there ten, there three or four, who possessed some bond of unity among themselves. Here and there was one, who, utterly desolate, stole away by himself, seeking no companionship.
Whither did they go? I imagine them wandering about the
streets, telling the town's-people, in outlandish, unintelligible words, that
no earthly affliction ever equalled what had befallen them. Man's brotherhood
with man was sufficient to make the New Englanders understand this language.
The strangers wanted food. Some of them sought hospitality at the doors of the
stately mansions, which then stood in the vicinity of
Perhaps some of the Acadians, in their aimless wanderings through the town, found themselves near a large brick edifice, which was fenced in from the street by an iron railing, wrought with fantastic figures. They saw a flight of red freestone steps, ascending to a portal, above which was a balcony and balustrade. Misery and desolation give men the right of free passage everywhere. Let us suppose, then, that they mounted the flight of steps, and passed into the Province House. Making their way into one of the apartments, they beheld a richly clad gentleman, seated in a stately chair, with gilding upon the carved work of its back, and a gilded lion's head at the summit. This was Governor Shirley, meditating upon matters of war and state, in Grandfather's chair!
If such an incident did happen, Shirley, reflecting what a
ruin of peaceful and humble hopes had been wrought by the cold policy of the
statesman, and the iron hand of the warrior, might have drawn a deep moral from
it. It should have taught him that the poor man's hearth is sacred, and that
armies and nations have no right to violate it. It should have made him feel,
"Grandfather," cried Laurence, with emotion trembling in his voice, "did iron-hearted War itself ever do so hard and cruel a thing as this before?"
"You have rend in history, Laurence, of whole regions wantonly laid waste," said Grandfather. "In the removal of the Acadians, the troops were guilty of no cruelty or outrage, except what was inseparable from the measure."
Little Alice, whose eyes had, all along, been brimming full of tears, now burst forth a-sobbing; for Grandfather had touched her sympathies more than he intended.
"To think of a whole people, homeless in the world!" said Clara, with moistened eyes. "There never was any thing so sad!"
"It was their own fault," cried Charley, energetically. "Why did not they fight for the country where they were born? Then, if the worst had happened to them they could only have been killed and buried there. They would not have been exiles then!"
"Certainly, their lot was as hard as death," said
Grandfather. "All that could be done for them, in the English provinces,
was to send them to the alms-houses, or bind them out to task-masters. And this
was the fate of persons, who had possessed a comfortable property in their
native country. Some of them found means to embark for
"And did he?" inquired Clara.
"Alas, my dear Clara," said Grandfather, "it
is improbable that the slightest whisper of the woes of
Since Grandfather first spoke these words, the most famous of American poets has drawn sweet tears from all of us, by his beautiful poem of Evangeline.
And now, having thrown a gentle gloom around the Thanksgiving fire-side, by a story that made the children feel the blessing of a secure and peaceful hearth, Grandfather put off the other events of the Old French War till the next evening.
In the twilight of the succeeding eve, when the red beams of the fire were dancing upon the wall, the children besought Grandfather to tell them what had next happened to the old chair.
"Our chair," said Grandfather, "stood all
this time in the Province House. But, Governor Shirley had seldom an
opportunity to repose within its arms. He was loading his troops through the
forest, or sailing in a flat-boat on
"Did his young wife go with him to the war?" asked Clara.
"I rather imagine," replied Grandfather,
"that she remained in
"And was it true?" inquired Clara.
"Probably not," said Grandfather. "But the
mere suspicion did Shirley a great deal of harm. Partly, perhaps, for this
reason, but much more on account of his inefficiency as a general, he was
deprived of his command, in 1756, and recalled to
As Grandfather's chair had no locomotive properties, and did
not even run on castors, it cannot be supposed to have marched in person to the
Old French War. But Grandfather delayed its momentous history, while he touched
briefly upon some of the bloody battles, sieges, and onslaughts, the tidings of
which kept continually coming to the ears of the old inhabitants of
In the first years of the war, there were many disasters on
the English side. Among these was the loss of
Up to this period, none of the English generals had shown any military talent. Shirley, the Earl of Loudon, and General Abercrombie, had each held the chief command, at different times; but not one of them had won a single important triumph for the British arms. This ill success was not owing to the want of means; for, in 1758, General Abercrombie had fifty thousand soldiers under his command. But the French general, the famous Marquis de Montcalm, possessed a great genius for war, and had something within him, that taught him how battles were to be won.
At length, in 1759, Sir Jeffrey Amherst was appointed
commander-in-chief of all the British forces in
Three separate armies were to enter
Grandfather described the siege of
He marched to his own death. The battle was the most fierce and terrible, that had ever been fought in
"If ever a warrior's death were glorious, Wolfe's was
so!" said Grandfather; and his eye kindled, though he was a man of
peaceful thoughts, and gentle spirit. "His life-blood streamed to baptize
the soil which he had added to the dominion of
"Oh, it was a good death to die!" cried Charley, with glistening eyes. "Was it not a good death, Laurence?"
Laurence made no reply; for his heart burned within him, as the picture of Wolfe, dying on the blood-stained field of victory, arose to his imagination; and yet, he had a deep inward consciousness, that, after all, there was a truer glory than could thus be won.
"There were other battles in
"So, now, at last," said Laurence, "
"And now there was nobody to fight with, but the Indians," said Charley.
Grandfather mentioned two other important events. The first
was the great fire of
Seven times, as the successive monarchs of
Now that Grandfather had fought through the Old French War, in which our chair made no very distinguished figure, he thought it high time to tell the children some of the more private history of that praiseworthy old piece of furniture.
"In 1757," said Grandfather, "after Shirley
had been summoned to
"Did the people like Pownall?" asked Charley.
"They found no fault with him," replied
Grandfather. "It was no time to quarrel with the governor, when the utmost
harmony was required, in order to defend the country against the French. But
Pownall did not remain long in
"He might have taken it to
"It appears to me," said Laurence, giving the rein
to his fancy, "that the fate of this ancient chair was, somehow or other,
mysteriously connected with the fortunes of old
"It was kept here for Grandfather and me to sit in
together," said little
"And Grandfather is very glad of such a companion, and
such a theme," said the old gentleman, with a smile. "Well, Laurence,
if our oaken chair, like the wooden Palladium of Troy, was connected with the
country's fate, yet there appears to have been no supernatural obstacle to its
removal from the Province House. In 1760, Sir Francis Bernard, who had been
The children were loud in their exclamations against this irreverent conduct of Sir Francis Bernard. But Grandfather defended him, as well as he could. He observed, that it was then thirty years since the chair had been beautified by Governor Belcher. Most of the gilding was worn off by the frequent scourings which it had undergone, beneath the hands of a black slave. The damask cushion, once so splendid, was now squeezed out of all shape, and absolutely in tatters, so many were the ponderous gentlemen who had deposited their weight upon it, during these thirty years.
Moreover, at a council held by the Earl of Loudon with the
"But," said Grandfather, "our chair, after
all, was not destined to spend the remainder of its days in the inglorious
obscurity of a garret. Thomas Hutchinson, lieutenant-governor of the province,
was told of Sir Francis Bernard's design. This gentleman was more familiar with
the history of
"And I hope," said Clara, "he had it varnished and gilded anew."
"No," answered Grandfather. "What Mr. Hutchinson desired was to restore the chair, as much as possible, to its original aspect, such as it had appeared, when it was first made out of the Earl of Lincoln's oak-tree. For this purpose he ordered it to be well scoured with soap and sand and polished with wax, and then provided it with a substantial leather cushion. When all was completed to his mind, he sat down in the old chair, and began to write his History of Massachusetts."
"Oh, that was a bright thought in Mr. Hutchinson!" exclaimed Laurence. "And, no doubt, the dim figures of the former possessors of the chair flitted around him, as he wrote, and inspired him with a knowledge of all that they had done and suffered while on earth."
"Why, my dear Laurence," replied Grandfather, smiling, "if Mr. Hutchinson was favored with any such extraordinary inspiration, he made but a poor use of it in his History; for a duller piece of composition never came from any man's pen. However, he was accurate, at least, though far from possessing the brilliancy or philosophy of Mr. Bancroft."
"It must, indeed," said Grandfather. "It would be entertaining and instructive, at the present day, to imagine what were Mr. Hutchinson's thoughts, as he looked back upon the long vista of events with which this chair was so remarkably connected."
And Grandfather allowed his fancy to shape out an image of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, sitting in an evening reverie by his fireside, and meditating on the changes that had slowly passed around the chair.
A devoted monarchist, Hutchinson would heave no sigh for the
subversion of the original republican government, the purest that the world had
seen, with which the colony began its existence. While reverencing the grim and
stern old Puritans as the founders of his native land, he would not wish to
recall them from their graves, nor to awaken again
that king-resisting spirit, which he imagined to be laid asleep with them
Coming down to the epoch of the second charter, Hutchinson
thought of the ship-carpenter Phips, springing from the lowest of the people,
and attaining to the loftiest station in the land. But, he smiled to perceive
that this governor's example would awaken no turbulent ambition in the lower
orders, for it was a king's gracious boon alone that made the ship-carpenter a
The Lieutenant-Governor's reverie had now come down to the
period at which he himself was sitting in the historic chair. He endeavored to
throw his glance forward, over the coming years. There, probably, he saw
visions of hereditary rank, for himself and other aristocratic colonists. He
saw the fertile fields of
"But," added Grandfather, turning to Laurence, "the Lieutenant-Governor's castles were built nowhere but among the red embers of the fire, before which he was sitting. And, just as he had constructed a baronial residence for himself and his posterity, the fire rolled down upon the hearth, and crumbled it to ashes!"
Grandfather now looked at his watch, which hung within a
beautiful little ebony
"To bed, to bed, dear child!" said he. "Grandfather has put you to sleep, already, by his stories about these FAMOUS OLD PEOPLE!"
On the evening of New Year's day, Grandfather was walking to and fro, across the carpet, listening to the rain which beat hard against the curtained windows. The riotous blast shook the casement, as if a strong man were striving to force his entrance into the comfortable room. With every puff of the wind, the fire leaped upward from the hearth, laughing and rejoicing at the shrieks of the wintry storm.
Meanwhile, Grandfather's chair stood in its customary place by the fireside. The bright blaze gleamed upon the fantastic figures of its oaken back, and shone through the open-work, so that a complete pattern was thrown upon the opposite side of the room. Sometimes, for a moment or two, the shadow remained immovable, as if it were painted on the wall. Then, all at once, it began to quiver, and leap, and dance, with a frisky motion. Anon, seeming to remember that these antics were unworthy of such a dignified and venerable chair, it suddenly stood still. But soon it began to dance anew.
"Only see how grandfather's chair is dancing!"
And she ran to the wall, and tried to catch hold of the flickering shadow; for to children of five years old, a shadow seems almost as real as a substance.
"I wish," said Clara, "Grandfather would sit down in the chair, and finish its history."
If the children had been looking at Grandfather, they would have noticed that he paused in his walk across the room, when Clara made this remark. The kind old gentleman was ready and willing to resume his stories of departed times. But he had resolved to wait till his auditors should request him to proceed, in order that they might find the instructive history of the chair a pleasure, and not a task.
"Grandfather," said Charley, "I am tired to death of this dismal rain, and of hearing the wind roar in the chimney. I have had no good time all day. It would be better to hear stories about the chair, than to sit doing nothing, and thinking of nothing."
To say the truth, our friend Charley was very much out of humor with the storm, because it had kept him all day within doors, and hindered him from making trial of a splendid sled, which Grandfather had given him for a New Year's gift. As all sleds, now-a-days, must have a name, the one in question had been honored with the title of Grandfather's Chair, which was painted in golden letters, on each of the sides. Charley greatly admired the construction of the new vehicle, and felt certain that it would outstrip any other sled that ever dashed adown the long slopes of the Common.
As for Laurence, he happened to be thinking, just at this moment, about the history of the chair. Kind old Grandfather had made him a present of a volume of engraved portraits, representing the features of eminent and famous people of all countries. Among them Laurence found several who had formerly occupied our chair, or been connected with its adventures. While Grandfather walked to and fro across the room, the imaginative boy was gazing at the historic chair. He endeavored to summon up the portraits which he had seen in his volume, and to place them, like living figures, in the empty seat.
"The old chair has begun another year of its existence, to-day," said Laurence. "We must make haste, or it will have a new history to be told before we finish the old one."
"Yes, my children," replied Grandfather, with a smile and a sigh, "another year has been added to those of the two centuries, and upward, which have passed since the Lady Arbella brought this chair over from England. It is three times as old as your Grandfather; but a year makes no impression on its oaken frame, while it bends the old man nearer and nearer to the earth; so let me go on with my stories while I may."
Accordingly, Grandfather came to the fireside, and seated himself in the venerable chair. The lion's head looked down with a grimly good-natured aspect, as the children clustered around the old gentleman's knees. It almost seemed as if a real lion were peeping over the back of the chair, and smiling at the group of auditors, with a sort of lion-like complaisance. Little Alice, whose fancy often inspired her with singular ideas, exclaimed that the lion's head was nodding at her, and that it looked as if it were going to open its wide jaws and tell a story.
But, as the lion's head appeared to be in no haste to speak, and as there was no record or tradition of its having spoken, during the whole existence of the chair, Grandfather did not consider it worth while to wait.
"Charley, my boy," said Grandfather, "do you remember who was the last occupant of the chair?"
"It was Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson," answered
Charley. "Sir Francis Bernard, the new governor, had given him the chair,
instead of putting it away in the garret of the Province House. And when we
took leave of
"Very well," said Grandfather; "and you
recollect that this was in 1763, or thereabouts, at the close of the Old French
War. Now, that you may fully comprehend the remaining
adventures of the chair, I must make some brief remarks on the situation and
character of the
So Grandfather spoke of the earnest
loyalty of our fathers during the Old French War, and after the conquest of
The people loved and reverenced the king of
But, there were some circumstances, that
There were thoughtful and sagacious men, who began to doubt,
whether a great country like
"Now," continued Grandfather, "if King George
the Third and his counsellors had considered these things wisely, they would
have taken another course than they did. But, when they saw how rich and
populous the colonies had grown, their first thought was, how they might make
more profit out of them than heretofore.
"Why, this was nonsense," exclaimed Charley;
"did not our fathers spend their lives and their money too, to get
"True, they did," said Grandfather; "and they told the English rulers so. But the king and his ministers would not listen to good advice. In 1765, the British Parliament passed a Stamp Act."
"What was that?" inquired Charley.
"The Stamp Act," replied Grandfather, "was a law by which all deeds, bonds, and other papers of the same kind, were ordered to be marked with the king's stamp; and without this mark, they were declared illegal and void. Now, in order to get a blank sheet of paper, with the king's stamp upon it, people were obliged to pay three pence more than the actual value of the paper. And this extra sum of three pence was a tax, and was to be paid into the king's treasury."
"I am sure three pence was not worth quarrelling about!" remarked Clara.
"It was not for three pence, nor for any amount of
"That was noble!" exclaimed Laurence. "I
understand how it was. If they had quietly paid this tax of three pence, they
would have ceased to be freemen, and would have become tributaries of
"You are right, Laurence," said Grandfather;
"and it was really amazing and terrible to see what a change came over the
aspect of the people, the moment the English Parliament had passed this
oppressive act. The former history of our chair, my children, has given you
some idea of what a harsh, unyielding, stern set of men the old Puritans were.
For a good many years back, however, it had seemed as if these characteristics
were disappearing. But no sooner did
Grandfather spoke briefly of the public measures that were
taken in opposition to the Stamp Act. As this law affected all the American
colonies alike, it naturally led them to think of consulting together in order
to procure its repeal. For this purpose, the legislature of
"And did they consult about going to war with
"No, Charley," answered Grandfather; "a great
deal of talking was yet to be done, before
"They might as well have staid at home, then," said Charley.
"By no means," replied Grandfather. "It was a
most important and memorable event--this first coming together of the American
people, by their representatives from the north and south. If
These remonstrances and petitions, as Grandfather observed,
were the work of grave, thoughtful, and prudent men. Meantime, the young and
hot-headed people went to work in their own way. It is probable that the
petitions of Congress would have had little or no effect on
the British statesmen, if the violent deeds of the American people had not
shown how much excited the people were. LIBERTY TREE was soon heard of
"What was Liberty Tree?" inquired Clara.
"It was an old elm tree," answered Grandfather,
"which stood near the corner of
"It was glorious fruit for a tree to bear," remarked Laurence.
[Image: Image #3]
"It bore strange fruit, sometimes," said
Grandfather. "One morning in August, 1765, two figures were found hanging
on the sturdy branches of Liberty Tree. They were dressed in square-skirted
coats and small-clothes; and, as their wigs hung down over their faces, they
looked like real men. One was intended to represent the Earl of Bute, who was
supposed to have advised the king to tax
"What harm had he done?" inquired Charley.
"The king had appointed him to be distributor of the
stamps," answered Grandfather. "Mr. Oliver would have made a great
deal of money by this business. But the people frightened him so much by
hanging him in effigy, and afterwards by breaking into his house, that he
promised to have nothing to do with the stamps. And all the king's friends
"Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson," continued
Grandfather, "now began to be unquiet in our old chair. He had formerly
been much respected and beloved by the people, and had often proved himself a
friend to their interests. But the time was come, when he could not be a friend
to the people, without ceasing to be a friend to the king. It was pretty
generally understood, that
"I should think," said Laurence, "as Mr. Hutchinson had written the history of our Puritan forefathers, he would have known what the temper of the people was, and so have taken care not to wrong them."
"He trusted in the might of the king of
In order to show what a fierce and dangerous spirit was now aroused among the inhabitants, Grandfather related a passage from history, which we shall call
On the evening of the twenty-sixth of August, 1765, a
bonfire was kindled in
Before the tar-barrels, of which the bonfire was made, were half burnt out, a great crowd had come together. They were chiefly laborers and seafaring men, together with many young apprentices, and all those idle people about town who are ready for any kind of mischief. Doubtless some school-boys were among them.
While these rough figures stood round the blazing bonfire,
you might hear them speaking bitter words against the
high officers of the province. Governor Bernard,
"I should like to throw the traitor right into that blaze!" perhaps one fierce rioter would say.
"Yes; and all his brethren too!" another might reply; "and the governor and old Tommy Hutchinson into the hottest of it!"
"And the Earl of Bute along with them," muttered a third; "and burn the whole pack of them under King George's nose! No matter if it singed him!"
Some such expressions as these, either shouted aloud, or
muttered under the breath, were doubtless heard in
But we must now leave the rioters for a time, and take a
peep into the lieutenant-governor's splendid mansion. It was a large brick
house, decorated with Ionic pilasters, and stood in Garden Court Street, near
While the angry mob in King Street were shouting his name, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson sat quietly in Grandfather's chair, unsuspicious of the evil that was about to fall upon his head. His beloved family were in the room with him. He had thrown off his embroidered coat and powdered wig, and had on a loose flowing gown and purple velvet cap. He had likewise laid aside the cares of state, and all the thoughts that had wearied and perplexed him throughout the day.
Perhaps, in the enjoyment of his home, he had forgotten all about the Stamp Act, and scarcely remembered that there was a king, across the ocean, who had resolved to make tributaries of the New Englanders. Possibly, too, he had forgotten his own ambition, and would not have exchanged his situation, at that moment, to be governor, or even a lord.
The wax candles were now lighted, and showed a handsome
room, well provided with rich furniture. On the walls hung the pictures of
Who or what could disturb the domestic quiet of such a great and powerful personage as now sat in Grandfather's chair.
The lieutenant-governor's favorite daughter sat by his side. She leaned on the arm of our great chair, and looked up affectionately into her father's face, rejoicing to perceive that a quiet smile was on his lips. But suddenly a shade came across her countenance. She seemed to listen attentively, as if to catch a distant sound.
"What is the matter, my child?" inquired
"Father, do not you hear a tumult in the streets?" said she.
The lieutenant-governor listened. But his ears were duller than those of his daughter; he could hear nothing more terrible than the sound of a summer breeze, sighing among the tops of the elm trees.
"No, foolish child!" he replied, playfully patting
her cheek. "There is no tumult. Our
"A mob!--a terrible mob!" cried he: "they have broken into Mr. Storey's house, and into Mr. Hallowell's, and have made themselves drunk with the liquors in his cellar, and now they are coming hither, as wild as so many tigers. Flee, lieutenant-governor, for your life! for your life!"
"Father, dear father, make haste!" shrieked his children.
"Have no fears on my account," said he; "I am perfectly safe. The king's name shall be my protection."
Yet he bade his family retire into one of the neighboring houses. His daughter would have remained, but he forced her away.
The huzzas and riotous uproar of the mob were now heard,
close at hand. The sound was terrible, and struck
That was a moment when a loyalist and an aristocrat, like
There was now a rush against the doors of the house. The people sent up a hoarse cry. At this instant, the lieutenant-governor's daughter, whom he had supposed to be in a place of safety, ran into the room, and threw her arms around him. She had returned by a private entrance.
"Father, are you mad!" cried she. "Will the king's name protect you now? Come with me, or they will have your life."
Hurrying away, he and his daughter made their escape by the
private passage, at the moment when the rioters broke into the house. The
foremost of them rushed up the stair-case, and entered the room which
Then began the work of destruction.
The carved and polished mahogany tables were shattered with heavy clubs, and
hewn to splinters with axes. The marble hearths and mantel pieces were broken.
The volumes of
The old ancestral portraits, whose fixed countenances looked
down on the wild scene, were rent from the walls. The mob triumphed in their
downfall and destruction, as if these pictures of
Before morning dawned, the walls of the house were all that remained. The interior was a dismal scene of ruin. A shower pattered in at the broken windows, and when Hutchinson and his family returned, they stood shivering in the same room, where the last evening had seen them so peaceful and happy.
"Grandfather," said Laurence indignantly, "if
the people acted in this manner, they were not worthy of even so much liberty
as the king of
"It was a most unjustifiable act, like many other popular movements at that time," replied Grandfather. "But we must not decide against the justice of the people's cause, merely because an excited mob was guilty of outrageous violence. Besides, all these things were done in the first fury of resentment. Afterwards, the people grew more calm, and were more influenced by the counsel of those wise and good men who conducted them safely and gloriously through the Revolution."
Little Alice, with tears in her blue eyes, said that she hoped the neighbors had not let Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson and his family be homeless in the street, but had taken them into their houses, and been kind to them. Cousin Clara, recollecting the perilous situation of our beloved chair, inquired what had become of it.
"Nothing was heard of our chair for sometime afterwards," answered Grandfather. "One day in September, the same Andrew Oliver, of whom I before told you, was summoned to appear at high noon, under Liberty Tree. This was the strangest summons that had ever been heard of; for it was issued in the name of the whole people, who thus took upon themselves the authority of a sovereign power. Mr. Oliver dared not disobey. Accordingly, at the appointed hour, he went, much against his will, to Liberty Tree."
Here Charley interposed a remark that poor Mr. Oliver found but little liberty under Liberty Tree. Grandfather assented.
"It was a stormy day," continued he. "The equinoctial gale blew violently, and scattered the yellow leaves of Liberty Tree all along the street. Mr. Oliver's wig was dripping with water-drops, and he probably looked haggard, disconsolate, and humbled to the earth. Beneath the tree, in Grandfather's chair,--our own venerable chair,--sat Mr. Richard Dana, a justice of the peace. He administered an oath to Mr. Oliver, that he would never have any thing to do with distributing the stamps. A vast concourse of people heard the oath, and shouted when it was taken."
"There is something grand in this," said Laurence. "I like it, because the people seem to have acted with thoughtfulness and dignity; and this proud gentleman, one of his Majesty's high officers, was made to feel that King George could not protect him in doing wrong."
"But it was a sad day for poor Mr. Oliver," observed Grandfather. "From his youth upward, it had probably been the great principle of his life, to be faithful and obedient to the king. And now, in his old age, it must have puzzled and distracted him, to find the sovereign people setting up a claim to his faith and obedience."
Grandfather closed the evening's conversation by saying that
the discontent of
The next evening, Clara, who remembered that our chair had been left standing in the rain, under Liberty Tree, earnestly besought Grandfather to tell when and where it had next found shelter. Perhaps she was afraid that the venerable chair, by being exposed to the inclemency of a September gale, might get the rheumatism in its aged joints.
"The chair," said Grandfather, "after the
ceremony of Mr. Oliver's oath, appears to have been quite forgotten by the
multitude. Indeed, being much bruised and rather rickety, owing to the violent
treatment it had suffered from the
"But why did not Mr. Hutchinson get possession of it again?" inquired Charley.
"I know not," answered Grandfather, "unless
he considered it a dishonor and disgrace to the chair to have stood under
Liberty Tree. At all events, he suffered it to remain at the British Coffee
House, which was the principal hotel in
Grandfather went on to tell the proceedings of the despotic
king and ministry of England, after the repeal of the Stamp Act. They could not
bear to think, that their right to tax
But the people were as much opposed to this new act of
Parliament, as they had been to the Stamp Act.
In the month of November, more regiments arrived. There were
now four thousand troops in
Sentinels, likewise, were posted at the lodgings of the officers, in many parts of the town. When the inhabitants approached, they were greeted by the sharp question--"Who goes there?" while the rattle of the soldier's musket was heard, as he presented it against their breasts. There was no quiet, even on the Sabbath day. The pious descendants of the Puritans were shocked by the uproar of military music, the drum, fife, and bugle, drowning the holy organ peal and the voices of the singers. It would appear as if the British took every method to insult the feelings of the people.
"Grandfather," cried Charley, impatiently,
"the people did not go to fighting half soon enough! These British
red-coats ought to have been driven back to their vessels, the very moment they
"Many a hot-headed young man said the same as you do, Charley," answered Grandfather. "But the elder and wiser people saw that the time was not yet come. Meanwhile, let us take another peep at our old chair."
"Ah, it drooped its head, I know," said Charley, "when it saw how the province was disgraced. Its old Puritan friends never would have borne such doings."
"The chair," proceeded
Grandfather, "was now continually occupied by some of the high tories, as
the king's friends were called, who frequented the British Coffee House.
Officers of the custom-house, too, which stood on the opposite side of
"Why against him?" asked Charley.
"Because he was a great merchant, and contended against paying duties to the king," said Grandfather.
"Well, frequently, no doubt, the officers of the British regiments, when not on duty, used to fling themselves into the arms of our venerable chair. Fancy one of them, a red nosed captain, in his scarlet uniform, playing with the hilt of his sword, and making a circle of his brother officers merry with ridiculous jokes at the expense of the poor Yankees. And perhaps he would call for a bottle of wine, or a steaming bowl of punch, and drink confusion to all rebels."
"Our grave old chair must have been scandalized at such scenes," observed Laurence. "The chair that had been the Lady Arbella's, and which the holy Apostle Eliot had consecrated."
"It certainly was little less than sacrilege," replied Grandfather; "but the time was coming, when even the churches, where hallowed pastors had long preached the word of God, were to be torn down or desecrated by the British troops. Some years passed, however, before such things were done."
Grandfather now told his auditors, that, in 1769, Sir
Francis Bernard went to
About this period, the people were much incensed at an act, committed by a person who held an office in the custom-house. Some lads, or young men, were snow-balling his windows. He fired a musket at them and killed a poor German boy, only eleven years old. This event made a great noise in town and country, and much increased the resentment that was already felt against the servants of the crown.
"Now, children," said Grandfather, "I wish to
make you comprehend the position of the British troops in
"I shall remember this, to-morrow," said Charley;
"and I will go to
"And, before long," observed Grandfather, "I
shall have to relate an event, which made
Here Grandfather described the state of things, which arose from the ill-will that existed between the inhabitants and the red-coats. The old and sober part of the town's-people were very angry at the government, for sending soldiers to overawe them. But those gray-headed men were cautious, and kept their thoughts and feelings in their own breasts, without putting themselves in the way of the British bayonets.
The younger people, however, could hardly be kept within
such prudent limits. They reddened with wrath at the very sight of a soldier,
and would have been willing to come to blows with them, at any moment. For it
was their opinion, that every tap of a British drum within the
"It was sometimes the case," continued Grandfather, "that affrays happened between such wild young men as these, and small parties of the soldiers. No weapons had hitherto been used, except fists or cudgels. But, when men have loaded muskets in their hands, it is easy to foretell, that they will soon be turned against the bosoms of those who provoke their anger."
"Grandfather," said little
Little Alice, by her last remark, proved herself a good judge
of what was expressed by the tones of Grandfather's voice. He had given the
above description of the enmity between the town's-people and the soldiers, in
order to prepare the minds of his auditors for a very terrible event. It was
one that did more to heighten the quarrel between
Without further preface, Grandfather began the story of
It was now the 3d of March, 1770. The sunset music of the
British regiments was heard, as usual, throughout the town. The shrill fife and
rattling drum awoke the echoes in
"Turn out, you lobster-backs!" one would say.
"Crowd them off the side-walks!" another would cry. "A red-coat
has no right in
"Oh, you rebel rascals!" perhaps the soldiers
would reply, glaring fiercely at the young men. "Some day or other, we'll
make our way through
Once or twice, such disputes as these brought on a scuffle; which passed off, however, without attracting much notice. About eight o'clock, for some unknown cause, an alarm bell rang loudly and hurriedly.
At the sound, many people ran out of their houses, supposing it to be an alarm of fire. But there were no flames to be seen; nor was there any smell of smoke in the clear, frosty air; so that most of the townsmen went back to their own fire-sides, and sat talking with their wives and children about the calamities of the times. Others, who were younger and less prudent, remained in the streets; for there seems to have been a presentiment that some strange event was on the eve of taking place.
Later in the evening, not far from nine o'clock, several
young men passed by the town-house, and walked down
Down towards the custom-house, as I told you, came a party of wild young men. When they drew near the sentinel, he halted on his post, and took his musket from his shoulder, ready to present the bayonet at their breasts.
"Who goes there?" he cried, in the gruff, peremptory tones of a soldier's challenge.
The young men, being
The wrongs and insults, which the people had been suffering for many months, now kindled them into a rage. They threw snow-balls and lumps of ice at the soldiers. As the tumult grew louder, it reached the ears of Captain Preston, the officer of the day. He immediately ordered eight soldiers of the main guard to take their muskets and follow him. They marched across the street, forcing their way roughly through the crowd, and pricking the town's-people with their bayonets.
A gentleman, (it was Henry Knox, afterwards general of the American artillery,) caught Captain Preston's arm.
"For Heaven's sake, sir," exclaimed he, take heed what you do, or here will be bloodshed."
"Stand aside!" answered Captain Preston, haughtily. "Do not interfere, sir. Leave me to manage the affair."
Arriving at the sentinel's post, Captain Preston drew up his men in a semi-circle, with their faces to the crowd and their rear to the custom-house. "When the people saw the officer, and beheld the threatening attitude with which the soldiers fronted them, their rage became almost uncontrollable.
"Fire, you lobster-backs!" bellowed some.
"You dare not fire, you cowardly red-coats," cried others.
"Rush upon them!" shouted many voices. "Drive the rascals to their barracks! Down with them! Down with them! Let them fire, if they dare!"
Amid the uproar, the soldiers stood glaring at the people, with the fierceness of men whose trade was to shed blood.
Oh, what a crisis had now arrived! Up to this very moment,
the angry feelings between
But, should the king's soldiers shed one drop of American
blood, then it was a quarrel to the death. Never--never would
"Fire, if you dare, villains!" hoarsely shouted the people, while the muzzles of the muskets were turned upon them; "you dare not fire!"
They appeared ready to rush upon the levelled bayonets. Captain Preston waved his sword, and uttered a command which could not be distinctly heard, amid the uproar of shouts that issued from a hundred throats. But his soldiers deemed that he had spoken the fatal mandate--"fire!" The flash of their muskets lighted up the street, and the report rang loudly between the edifices. It was said, too, that the figure of a man with a cloth hanging down over his face, was seen to step into the balcony of the custom-house, and discharge a musket at the crowd.
A gush of smoke had overspread the scene. It rose heavily,
as if it were loath to reveal the dreadful spectacle beneath it. Eleven of the
Grandfather was interrupted by the violent sobs of little
"I ought to have remembered our dear little
"Grandfather," said Charley, when Clara and little Alice had retired, "did not the people rush upon the soldiers, and take revenge?"
"The town drums beat to arms," replied
Grandfather, "the alarm bells rang, and an immense multitude rushed into
"And how did it end?" asked Charley.
"Governor Hutchinson hurried to the spot," said Grandfather, "and besought the people to have patience, promising that strict justice should be done. A day or two afterward, the British troops were withdrawn from town, and stationed at Castle William. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers were tried for murder. But none of them were found guilty. The judges told the jury that the insults and violence which had been offered to the soldiers, justified them in firing at the mob."
"The Revolution," observed Laurence, who had said but little during the evening, "was not such a calm, majestic movement as I supposed. I do not love to hear of mobs and broils in the street. These things were unworthy of the people, when they had such a great object to accomplish."
"Nevertheless, the world has seen no grander movement than that of our Revolution, from first to last," said Grandfather. "The people, to a man, were full of a great and noble sentiment. True, there may be much fault to find with their mode of expressing this sentiment; but they knew no better--the necessity was upon them to act out their feelings, in the best manner they could. We must forgive what was wrong in their actions, and look into their hearts and minds for the honorable motives that impelled them."
"And I suppose," said Laurence, "there were men who knew how to act worthily of what they felt."
"There were many such," replied Grandfather, "and we will speak of some of them, hereafter."
Grandfather here made a pause. That night, Charley had a dream about the Boston Massacre, and thought that he himself was in the crowd, and struck down Captain Preston with a great club. Laurence dreamed that he was sitting in our great chair, at the window of the British Coffee House, and beheld the whole scene which Grandfather had described. It seemed to him, in his dream, that if the town's-people and the soldiers would but have heard him speak a single word, all the slaughter might have been averted. But there was such an uproar that it drowned his voice.
The next morning, the two boys went together to
The next evening the astral lamp was lighted earlier than usual, because Laurence was very much engaged in looking over the collection of portraits which had been his New Year's gift from Grandfather.
Among them he found the features of more than one famous
personage who had been connected with the adventures of our old chair.
Grandfather bade him draw the table nearer to the fire-side; and they looked
over the portraits together, while Clara and Charley likewise lent their
attention. As for little
Turning over the volume, Laurence came to the portrait of a stern, grim-looking man, in plain attire, of much more modern fashion than that of the old Puritans. But the face might well have befitted one of those iron-hearted men. Beneath the portrait was the name of Samuel Adams.
"He was a man of great note in all the doings that
brought about the Revolution," said Grandfather. "His character was
such, that it seemed as if one of the ancient Puritans had been sent back to
earth, to animate the people's hearts with the same abhorrence of tyranny, that had distinguished the earliest settlers. He
was as religious as they, as stern and inflexible, and as deeply imbued with
democratic principles. He, better than any one else, may be taken as a
representative of the people of
"Here is one whose looks show a very different character," observed Laurence, turning to the portrait of John Hancock. "I should think, by his splendid dress and courtly aspect, that he was one of the king's friends."
"There never was a greater contrast than between Samuel
Adams and John Hancock," said Grandfather. "Yet they were of the same
side in politics, and had an equal agency in the Revolution. Hancock was born
to the inheritance of the largest fortune in
On the next leaf of the book, was the portrait of General Joseph Warren. Charley recognized the name, and said that here was a greater man than either Hancock or Adams.
The next portrait was a venerable man, who held his thumb under his chin, and, through his spectacles, appeared to be attentively reading a manuscript.
"Here we see the most illustrious
The book likewise contained portraits of James Otis and Josiah Quincy. Both of them, Grandfather observed, were men of wonderful talents and true patriotism. Their voices were like the stirring tones of a trumpet, arousing the country to defend its freedom. Heaven seemed to have provided a greater number of eloquent men than had appeared at any other period, in order that the people might be fully instructed as to their wrongs, and the method of resistance.
"It is marvellous," said Grandfather, "to see
how many powerful writers, orators, and soldiers started up, just at the time
when they were wanted. There was a man for every kind of work. It is equally
wonderful, that men of such different characters were all made to unite in the
one object of establishing the freedom and independence of
"Here was another great man," remarked Laurence, pointing to the portrait of John Adams.
"Yes; an earnest, warm-tempered, honest, and most able
man," said Grandfather. "At the period of which we are now speaking,
he was a lawyer in
Grandfather here remarked, that
many a New Englander, who had passed his boyhood and youth in obscurity,
afterward attained to a fortune, which he never could have foreseen, even in
his most ambitious dreams. John Adams, the second president of the
"And any boy, who is born in
After these observations, Grandfather drew the book of
portraits towards him, and showed the children several British peers and
members of Parliament, who had exerted themselves either for or against the
Among the friends of
"It is very remarkable to observe how many of the
ablest orators in the British Parliament were favorable to
"But, Grandfather," asked Laurence, "were there no able and eloquent men in this country who took the part of King George?"
"There were many men of talent, who said what they could in defence of the king's tyrannical proceedings," replied Grandfather. "But they had the worst side of the argument, and therefore seldom said any thing worth remembering. Moreover their hearts were faint and feeble; for they felt that the people scorned and detested them. They had no friends, no defence, except in the bayonets of the British troops. A blight fell upon all their faculties, because they were contending against the rights of their own native land."
"What were the names of some of them?" inquired Charley.
"Governor Hutchinson, Chief Justice Oliver, Judge Auchmuty, the Reverend Mather Byles, and several other clergymen, were among the most noted loyalists," answered Grandfather.
"I wish the people had tarred and feathered every man of them!" cried Charley.
"That wish is very wrong, Charley," said
Grandfather. "You must not think that there was no integrity and honor,
except among those who stood up for the freedom of
"Oh, I was wrong!" said Charley, ingenuously. "And I would risk my life, rather than one of those good old royalists should be tarred and feathered."
"The time is now come, when we may judge fairly of them," continued Grandfather. "Be the good and true men among them honored; for they were as much our countrymen as the patriots were. And, thank Heaven! our country need not be ashamed of her sons--of most of them, at least--whatever side they took in the revolutionary contest."
Among the portraits was one of King George the Third. Little
"And so," said Grandfather, "his life, while
he retained what intellect Heaven had gifted him with, was one
long mortification. At last, he grew crazed with care and trouble. For
nearly twenty years, the monarch of
"Our old chair," resumed Grandfather, "did not now stand in the midst of a gay circle of British officers. The troops, as I told you, had been removed to Castle William, immediately after the Boston Massacre. Still, however, there were many tories, custom-house officers, and Englishmen, who used to assemble in the British Coffee House, and talk over the affairs of the period. Matters grew worse and worse; and in 1773, the people did a deed, which incensed the king and ministry more than any of their former doings."
Grandfather here described the affair, which is known by the
name of the Boston Tea Party. The Americans, for some time past, had left off
importing tea, on account of the oppressive tax. The East India Company, in
"How odd it is," observed Clara, "that the
Grandfather smiled, and proceeded with his narrative. When
the people of
The governor replied that the ships must not leave the
harbor, until the custom-house duties upon the tea should be paid. Now, the
payment of these duties was the very thing, against which the people had set
their faces; because it was a tax, unjustly imposed upon
"When the crowd reached the wharf," said Grandfather, "they saw that a set of wild-looking figures were already on board of the ships. You would have imagined that the Indian warriors, of old times, had come back again; for they wore the Indian dress, and had their faces covered with red and black paint, like the Indians, when they go to war. These grim figures hoisted the tea chests on the decks of the vessels, broke them open, and threw all the contents into the harbor."
"Grandfather," said little
"They were not real Indians, my child," answered Grandfather. "They were white men, in disguise; because a heavy punishment would have been inflicted on them, if the king's officers had found who they were. But it was never known. From that day to this, though the matter has been talked of by all the world, nobody can tell the names of those Indian figures. Some people say that there were very famous men among them, who afterwards became governors and generals. Whether this be true, I cannot tell."
When tidings of this bold deed were carried to
Governor Hutchinson, soon afterward, was summoned to
According to Grandfather's description, this was the most gloomy time that
"Our dear old chair!" exclaimed Clara. "How dismal it must have been now!"
"Oh," replied Grandfather, "a gay throng of
officers had now come back to the British Coffee House; so that the old chair
had no lack of mirthful company. Soon after General Gage became governor, a
great many troops had arrived, and were encamped upon the Common.
"Did the people make ready to fight?" asked Charley.
"A continental Congress assembled at
Philadelphia," said Grandfather, "and proposed such measures as they
thought most conducive to the public good. A provincial Congress was likewise
Grandfather told the children, that the first open
resistance offered to the British troops, in the
General Gage sent eight hundred soldiers to
"It was after sunset," continued Grandfather,
"when the troops, who had marched forth so proudly, were seen entering
"Was this the battle of
"Yes," replied Grandfather; "it was so
called, because the British, without provocation, had fired upon a party of
minute men, near
About this time, if Grandfather had been correctly informed, our chair disappeared from the British Coffee House. The manner of its departure cannot be satisfactorily ascertained. Perhaps the keeper of the Coffee House turned it out of doors, on account of its old-fashioned aspect. Perhaps he sold it as a curiosity. Perhaps it was taken, without leave, by some person who regarded it as public property, because it had once figured under Liberty Tree. Or, perhaps, the old chair, being of a peaceable disposition, had made use of its four oaken legs, and run away from the seat of war.
"It would have made a terrible clattering over the pavement," said Charley, laughing.
"Meanwhile," continued Grandfather, "during
the mysterious non-appearance of our chair, an army of twenty thousand men had
started up, and come to the siege of
"O, Grandfather," cried Charley, "you must tell us about that famous battle."
"No, Charley," said Grandfather, "I am not
like other historians. Battles shall not hold a prominent place in the history
of our quiet and comfortable old chair. But, to-morrow evening, Laurence,
Clara, and yourself, and dear little
The next evening but one, when the children had given Grandfather a full account of the Diorama of Bunker Hill, they entreated him not to keep them any longer in suspense about the fate of his chair. The reader will recollect, that at the last accounts, it had trotted away upon its poor old legs, nobody knew whither. But, before gratifying their curiosity, Grandfather found it necessary to say something about public events.
The continental Congress, which was assembled at
"O, Grandfather," exclaimed Laurence, "it makes my heart throb to think what is coming now. We are to see General Washington himself."
The children crowded around Grandfather, and looked earnestly into his face. Even little Alice opened her sweet blue eyes, with her lips apart, and almost held her breath to listen; so instinctive is the reverence of childhood for the father of his country. Grandfather paused a moment; for he felt as if it might be irreverent to introduce the hallowed shade of Washington into a history, where an ancient elbow chair occupied the most prominent place. However, he determined to proceed with his narrative, and speak of the hero when it was needful, but with an unambitious simplicity.
So Grandfather told his auditors, that, on General
Washington's arrival at
In order to be near the centre, and oversee the whole of
this wide-stretched army, the commander-in-chief made his head-quarters at
"When General Washington first entered this
mansion," said Grandfather, "he was ushered up the stair-case, and
shown into a handsome apartment. He sat down in a large chair, which was the
most conspicuous object in the room. The noble figure of
"Why! Grandfather," cried Clara, clasping her hands in amazement, "was it really so? Did General Washington sit in our great chair?"
"I knew how it would be," said Laurence; "I foresaw it, the moment Grandfather began to speak."
Grandfather smiled. But, turning from the personal and
domestic life of the illustrious leader, he spoke of the methods which
The army, when he took command of it, was without any
discipline or order. The privates considered themselves as good as their
officers, and seldom thought it necessary to obey their commands, unless they
understood the why and wherefore. Moreover, they were enlisted for so short a
period, that, as soon as they began to be respectable soldiers, it was time to
discharge them. Then came new recruits, who had to be
taught their duty, before they could be of any service. Such was the army, with
Some of the men had no muskets, and almost all were without bayonets. Heavy cannon, for battering the British fortifications, were much wanted. There was but a small quantity of powder and ball, few tools to build entrenchments with, and a great deficiency of provisions and clothes for the soldiers. Yet, in spite of these perplexing difficulties, the eyes of the whole people were fixed on General Washington, expecting him to undertake some great enterprise against the hostile army.
The first thing that he found necessary,
was to bring his own men into better order and discipline. It is wonderful how
soon he transformed this rough mob of country people into the semblance of a
regular army. One of
"And were not they eager to follow him against the British?" asked Charley.
"Doubtless they would have gone whithersoever his sword
pointed the way," answered Grandfather; "and
"What were their names?" asked Charley.
"There was General Artemas Ward," replied
Grandfather, a "lawyer by profession. He had commanded the troops before
"Was it he who killed the wolf?" inquired Charley.
"The same," said Grandfather; "and he had
done good service in the Old French War. His occupation was that of a farmer;
but he left his plough in the furrow, at the news of
When the Generals were all assembled,
"Many a night, doubtless," said Grandfather,
"What were the British doing, all this time?" inquired Charley.
"They lay idle in the town," replied Grandfather.
"General Gage had been recalled to
"What a dismal time for the poor women and children!" exclaimed Clara.
"At length," continued Grandfather, "in
March, 1776, General Washington, who had now a good supply of powder, began a
terrible cannonade and bombardment from
"Hurra! Hurra!" cried Charley, clapping his hands triumphantly. "I wish I had been there, to see how sheepish the Englishmen looked."
And, as Grandfather thought that
"Alas! for the poor
tories!" said Grandfather. "Until the very last morning after
In order to make the children sensible of the pitiable
condition of these men, Grandfather singled out Peter Oliver, chief justice of
This effort of Grandfather's fancy may be called--
THE TORY'S FAREWELL
Old Chief Justice Oliver threw on his red cloak, and placed his three-cornered hat on the top of his white wig. In this garb he intended to go forth and take a parting look at objects that had been familiar to him from his youth. Accordingly, he began his walk in the north part of the town, and soon came to Faneuil Hall. This edifice, the cradle of liberty, had been used by the British officers as a play-house.
"Would that I could see its walls crumble to
dust!" thought the chief justice; and, in the bitterness of his heart, he
shook his fist at the famous hall. "There began the mischief which now
threatens to rend asunder the
He then passed through a narrow avenue, and found himself in
Before him rose the town house, on the front of which were
still displayed the royal arms. Within that edifice he had dispensed justice to
the people, in the days when his name was never mentioned without honor. There,
too, was the balcony whence the trumpet had been sounded, and the proclamation
read to an assembled multitude, whenever a new king of
"I remember--I remember," said Chief Justice
Oliver to himself, "when his present most sacred majesty was proclaimed. Then how the people shouted. Each man would have poured out
his life-blood to keep a hair of King George's head from harm. But now, there
is scarcely a tongue in all
It did not occur to the chief justice, that nothing but the
most grievous tyranny could so soon have changed the people's hearts. Hurrying
from the spot, he entered Cornhill, as the lower part of
Further on, he passed beneath the tower of the Old South. The threshold of this sacred edifice was worn by the iron tramp of horse's feet: for the interior had been used as a riding-school and rendezvous, for a regiment of dragoons. As the chief justice lingered an instant at the door, a trumpet sounded within, and the regiment came clattering forth, and galloped down the street. They were proceeding to the place of embarkation.
"Let them go!" thought the chief justice, with somewhat of an old puritan feeling in his breast. "No good can come of men who desecrate the house of God."
He went on a few steps further, and paused before the Province House. No range of brick stores had then sprung up to hide the mansion of the royal governors from public view. It had a spacious court-yard, bordered with trees, and enclosed with a wrought-iron fence. On the cupola, that surmounted the edifice, was the gilded figure of an Indian chief, ready to let fly an arrow from his bow. Over the wide front door was a balcony, in which the chief justice had often stood, when the governor and high officers of the province showed themselves to the people.
While Chief Justice Oliver gazed sadly at the Province House, before which a sentinel was pacing, the double leaves of the door were thrown open, and Sir William Howe made his appearance. Behind him came a throng of officers, whose steel scabbards clattered against the stones, as they hastened down the court-yard. Sir William Howe was a dark-complexioned man, stern and haughty in his deportment. He stepped as proudly, in that hour of defeat, as if he were going to receive the submission of the rebel general.
The chief justice bowed and accosted him.
"This is a grievous hour for both of us, Sir William," said he.
"Forward! gentlemen," said Sir William Howe to the officers who attended him: "we have no time to hear lamentations now!"
And, coldly bowing, he departed. Thus, the chief justice had a foretaste of the mortifications which the exiled New Englanders afterwards suffered from the haughty Britons. They were despised even by that country which they had served more faithfully than their own.
A still heavier trial awaited Chief Justice Oliver, as he
passed onward from the Province House. He was recognized by the people in the
street. They had long known him as the descendant of an ancient and honorable
family. They had seen him sitting, in his scarlet robes, upon the judgment
seat. All his life long, either for the sake of his ancestors, or on account of
his own dignified station and unspotted character, he had been held in high
respect. The old gentry of the province were looked upon almost as noblemen,
But now, all hereditary reverence for birth and rank was gone. The inhabitants shouted in derision, when they saw the venerable form of the old chief justice. They laid the wrongs of the country, and their own sufferings during the siege--their hunger, cold, and sickness--partly to his charge, and to that of his brother Andrew, and his kinsman Hutchinson. It was by their advice that the king had acted, in all the colonial troubles. But the day of recompense was come.
"See the old tory!" cried the people, with bitter laughter. "He is taking his last look at us. Let him show his white wig among us an hour hence, and we'll give him a coat of tar and feathers!"
The chief justice, however, knew that he need fear no violence, so long as the British troops were in possession of the town. But alas! it was a bitter thought, that he should leave no loving memory behind him. His forefathers, long after their spirits left the earth, had been honored in the affectionate remembrance of the people. But he, who would henceforth be dead to his native land, would have no epitaph save scornful and vindictive words. The old man wept.
"They curse me--they invoke all kinds of evil on my
head!" thought he, in the midst of his tears. "But, if they could
read my heart, they would know that I love
The chief justice flung out his hands with a gesture, as if he were bestowing a parting benediction on his countrymen. He had now reached the southern portion of the town, and was far within the range of cannon shot from the American batteries. Close beside him was the broad stump of a tree, which appeared to have been recently cut down. Being weary and heavy at heart, he was about to sit down upon the stump.
Suddenly, it flashed upon his recollection, that this was
the stump of Liberty Tree! The British soldiers had cut it down, vainly
boasting that they could as easily overthrow the liberties of
"Accursed tree!" cried the chief justice, gnashing his teeth: for anger overcame his sorrow. "Would that thou hadst been left standing, till Hancock, Adams, and every other traitor, were hanged upon thy branches! Then fitly mightest thou have been hewn down, and cast into the flames."
He turned back, hurried to
And such, likewise, were the feelings of the other exiles, a thousand in number, who departed with the British army. Were they not the most unfortunate of men?
"The misfortunes of these exiled tories," observed
Laurence, "must have made them think of the poor
"They had a sad time of it, I suppose," said Charley. "But I choose to rejoice with the patriots, rather than be sorrowful with the tories. Grandfather, what did General Washington do now?"
"As the rear of the British army embarked from the
wharf," replied Grandfather, "General Washington's troops marched
over the neck, through the fortification gates, and entered
"Dear Grandfather," asked little
"I know not how long the chair remained at
"You mean Professor Longfellow, Grandfather," said Laurence. "Oh, how I should love to see the author of those beautiful VOICES OF THE NIGHT!"
"We will visit him next summer," answered Grandfather, "and take Clara and little Alice with us--and Charley, too, if he will be quiet."
When Grandfather resumed his narrative, the next evening, he
told the children that he had some difficulty in tracing the movements of the
chair, during a short period after General Washington's departure from
Within a few months, however, it made its appearance at a
"This was not a very dignified situation for our venerable chair," continued Grandfather; "but, you know, there is no better place for news, than a barber's shop. All the events of the revolutionary war were heard of there, sooner than anywhere else. People used to sit in the chair, reading the newspaper or talking, and waiting to be shaved, while Mr. Pierce with his scissors and razor, was at work upon the heads or chins of his other customers."
"I am sorry the chair could not betake itself to some
more suitable place of refuge," said Laurence. "It was old now, and
must have longed for quiet. Besides, after it had held
"Perhaps so," answered Grandfather. "But the chair, in the course of its varied existence, had grown so accustomed to general intercourse with society, that I doubt whether it would have contented itself in the pulpit of the Old South. There it would have stood solitary, or with no livelier companion than the silent organ, in the opposite gallery, six days out of seven. I incline to think, that it had seldom been situated more to its mind, than on the sanded floor of the snug little barber's shop."
Then Grandfather amused his children and himself, with fancying all the different sorts of people who had occupied our chair, while they awaited the leisure of the barber.
There was the old clergyman, such as Dr. Chauncey, wearing a
white wig, which the barber took from his head, and placed upon a wig-block.
Half an hour, perhaps, was spent in combing and powdering this reverend
appendage to a clerical skull. There too, were officers of the continental
army, who required their hair to be pomatumed and plastered, so as to give them
a bold and martial aspect. There, once in a while, was seen the thin,
care-worn, melancholy visage of an old tory, with a wig that, in times long
past, had perhaps figured at a Province House ball. And there, not
unfrequently, sat the rough captain of a privateer, just returned from a
successful cruise, in which he had captured half a dozen richly laden vessels,
belonging to King George's subjects. And, sometimes, a rosy little school-boy
climbed into our chair, and sat staring, with wide-open eyes, at the alligator,
the rattlesnake, and the other curiosities of the barber's shop. His mother had
sent him, with sixpence in his hand, to get his glossy curls cropped off. The
incidents of the Revolution plentifully supplied the barber's customers with
topics of conversation. They talked sorrowfully of the death of General
Montgomery, and the failure of our troops to take
"But, very soon," said Grandfather, "came
"And I would perish too!" cried Charley.
"It was a great day--a glorious deed!" said Laurence, coloring high with enthusiasm. "And, Grandfather, I love to think that the sages in Congress showed themselves as bold and true as the soldiers in the field. For it must have required more courage to sign the Declaration of Independence, than to fight the enemy in battle."
Grandfather acquiesced in Laurence's view of the matter. He
then touched briefly and hastily upon the prominent events of the Revolution.
The thunder-storm of war had now rolled southward, and did not again burst upon
In October, 1777, General Burgoyne surrendered his army, at
"While the war was raging in the Middle and Southern
States," proceeded Grandfather, "
"But, Grandfather, who had been governor since the British were driven away?" inquired Laurence. "General Gage and Sir William Howe were the last whom you have told us of."
"There had been no governor for the last four
years," replied Grandfather. "
Grandfather again adverted to the progress of the war. In
1781, General Greene drove the British from the Southern States. In October, of
the same year, General Washington compelled Lord Cornwallis to surrender his
army, at Yorktown, in
"Now, at last," said Grandfather, "after
weary years of war, the regiments of
"And little boys ran after them, I suppose," remarked Charley; "and the grown people bowed respectfully."
"They deserved respect, for they were good men, as well as brave," answered Grandfather. "Now, too, the inferior officers and privates came home, to seek some peaceful occupation. Their friends remembered them as slender and smooth-cheeked young men; but they returned with the erect and rigid mien of disciplined soldiers. Some hobbled on crutches and wooden legs; others had received wounds, which were still rankling in their breasts. Many, alas! had fallen in battle, and perhaps were left unburied on the bloody field."
"The country must have been sick of war," observed Laurence.
"One would have thought so," said Grandfather. "Yet only two or three years elapsed, before the folly of some misguided men caused another mustering of soldiers. This affair was called Shays' War, because a Captain Shays was the chief leader of the insurgents."
"O Grandfather, don't let there be another war!"
Grandfather comforted his dear little girl, by assuring her
that there was no great mischief done. Shays's War happened in the latter part
of 1786, and the beginning of the following year. Its principal cause was the
badness of the times. The State of
James Bowdoin, a good and able man, was now governor of
"There is but one more public event to be recorded in
the history of our chair," proceeded Grandfather. "In the year 1794,
Samuel Adams was elected governor of
"Well, Grandfather, I hope he sat in our chair!" said Clara.
"He did," replied Grandfather. "He had long been in the habit of visiting the barber's shop, where our venerable chair, philosophically forgetful of its former dignities, had now spent nearly eighteen not uncomfortable years. Such a remarkable piece of furniture, so evidently a relic of long-departed times, could not escape the notice of Samuel Adams. He made minute researches into its history, and ascertained what a succession of excellent and famous people had occupied it."
"How did he find it out?" asked Charley. "For I suppose the chair could not tell its own history."
"There used to be a vast collection of ancient letters
and other documents, in the tower of the old
"And what next?" asked Charley.
"That is all," said Grandfather, heaving a sigh; for he could not help being a little sad, at the thought that his stories must close here. "Samuel Adams died in 1803, at the age of above threescore and ten. He was a great patriot but a poor man. At his death, he left scarcely property enough to pay the expenses of his funeral. This precious chair, among his other effects, was sold at auction; and your Grandfather, who was then in the strength of his years, became the purchaser."
Laurence, with a mind full of thoughts, that struggled for expression, but could find none, looked steadfastly at the chair.
He had now learned all its history, yet was not satisfied.
"Oh, how I wish that the chair could speak!" cried he. "After its long intercourse with mankind--after looking upon the world for ages--what lessons of golden wisdom it might utter! It might teach a private person how to lead a good and happy life--or a statesman how to make his country prosperous!"
Grandfather was struck by Laurence's idea, that the historic chair should utter a voice, and thus pour forth the collected wisdom of two centuries. The old gentleman had once possessed no inconsiderable share of fancy; and, even now, its fading sunshine occasionally glimmered among his more sombre reflections.
As the history of the chair had exhausted all his facts, Grandfather determined to have recourse to fable. So, after warning the children that they must not mistake this story for a true one, he related what we shall call,--
Laurence and Clara, where were you last night? Where were you, Charley, and dear little Alice? You had all gone to rest, and left old Grandfather to meditate alone, in his great chair. The lamp had grown so dim, that its light hardly illuminated the alabaster shade. The wood fire had crumbled into heavy embers, among which the little flames danced, and quivered, and sported about, like fairies.
And here sat Grandfather, all by himself. He knew that it was bedtime; yet he could not help longing to hear your merry voices, or to hold a comfortable chat with some old friend; because then his pillow would be visited by pleasant dreams. But, as neither children nor friends were at hand, Grandfather leaned back in the great chair, and closed his eyes, for the sake of meditating more profoundly.
And, when Grandfather's meditations had grown very profound indeed, he fancied that he heard a sound over his head, as if somebody were preparing to speak.
"Hem!" it said, in a dry, husky tone. "H-e-m! Hem!"
As Grandfather did not know that any person was in the room, he started up in great surprise, and peeped hither and thither, behind the chair, and into the recess by the fireside, and at the dark nook yonder, near the bookcase. Nobody could he see.
"Pooh!" said Grandfather to himself, "I must have been dreaming."
But, just as he was going to resume his seat, Grandfather happened to look at the great chair. The rays of fire-light were flickering upon it in such a manner that it really seemed as if its oaken frame were all alive. What! Did it not move its elbow? There, too! It certainly lifted one of its ponderous fore-legs, as if it had a notion of drawing itself a little nearer to the fire. Meanwhile, the lion's head nodded at Grandfather, with as polite and sociable a look as a lion's visage, carved in oak, could possibly be expected to assume. Well, this is strange!
"Good evening, my old friend," said the dry and husky voice, now a little clearer than before. "We have been intimately acquainted so long, that I think it high time we have a chat together."
Grandfather was looking straight at the lion's head, and could not be mistaken in supposing that it moved its lips. So here the mystery was all explained.
"I was not aware," said Grandfather, with a civil salutation to his oaken companion, "that you possessed the faculty of speech. Otherwise, I should often have been glad to converse with such a solid, useful, and substantial, if not brilliant member of society."
"Oh!" replied the ancient chair, in a quiet and easy tone, for it had now cleared its throat of the dust of ages. "I am naturally a silent and incommunicative sort of character. Once or twice, in the course of a century, I unclose my lips. When the gentle Lady Arbella departed this life, I uttered a groan. When the honest mint-master weighed his plump daughter against the pine-tree shillings, I chuckled audibly at the joke. When old Simon Bradstreet took the place of the tyrant Andros, I joined in the general huzza, and capered upon my wooden legs, for joy. To be sure, the bystanders were so fully occupied with their own feelings, that my sympathy was quite unnoticed."
"And have you often held a private chat with your friends?" asked Grandfather.
"Not often," answered the chair. "I once
talked with Sir William Phips, and communicated my ideas about the witchcraft
delusion. Cotton Mather had several conversations with me, and derived great
benefit from my historical reminiscences. In the days of the Stamp Act, I
whispered in the ear of
"And how happens it," inquired Grandfather, "that there is no record nor tradition of your conversational abilities? It is an uncommon thing to meet with a chair that can talk."
"Why, to tell you the truth," said the chair, giving itself a hitch nearer to the hearth, "I am not apt to choose the most suitable moments for unclosing my lips. Sometimes I have inconsiderately begun to speak, when my occupant, lolling back in my arms, was inclined to take an after-dinner nap. Or, perhaps, the impulse to talk may be felt at midnight, when the lamp burns dim, and the fire crumbles into decay, and the studious or thoughtful man finds that his brain is in a mist. Oftenest, I have unwisely uttered my wisdom in the ears of sick persons, when the inquietude of fever made them toss about, upon my cushion. And so it happens, that, though my words make a pretty strong impression at the moment, yet my auditors invariably remember them only as a dream. I should not wonder if you, my excellent friend, were to do the same, to-morrow morning."
"Nor I either," thought Grandfather to himself. However, he thanked this respectable old chair for beginning the conversation, and begged to know whether it had any thing particular to communicate.
"I have been listening attentively to your narrative of my adventures," replied the chair, "and it must be owned, that your correctness entitles you to be held up as a pattern to biographers. Nevertheless, there are a few omissions, which I should be glad to see supplied. For instance, you make no mention of the good knight, Sir Richard Saltonstall, nor of the famous Hugh Peters, nor of those old regicide judges, Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell. Yet I have borne the weight of all these distinguished characters, at one time or another."
Grandfather promised amendment, if ever he should have an opportunity to repeat his narrative. The good old chair, which still seemed to retain a due regard for outward appearance, then reminded him how long a time had passed, since it had been provided with a new cushion. It likewise expressed the opinion, that the oaken figures on its back would show to much better advantage, by the aid of a little varnish.
"And I have had a complaint in this joint," continued the chair, endeavoring to lift one of its legs, "ever since Charley trundled his wheelbarrow against me."
"It shall be attended to," said Grandfather. "And now, venerable chair, I have a favor to solicit. During an existence of more than two centuries, you have had a familiar intercourse with men who were esteemed the wisest of their day. Doubtless, with your capacious understanding, you have treasured up many an invaluable lesson of wisdom. You certainly have had time enough to guess the riddle of life. Tell us poor mortals, then, how we may be happy!"
The lion's head fixed its eyes thoughtfully upon the fire, and the whole chair assumed an aspect of deep meditation. Finally, it beckoned to Grandfather with its elbow, and made a step sideways towards him, as if it had a very important secret to communicate.
"As long as I have stood in the midst of human affairs," said the chair, with a very oracular enunciation, "I have constantly observed that JUSTICE, TRUTH, and LOVE, are the chief ingredients of every happy life."
"Justice, Truth, and Love!" exclaimed Grandfather. "We need not exist two centuries to find out that these qualities are essential to our happiness. This is no secret. Every human being is born with the instinctive knowledge of it."
"Ah!" cried the chair, drawing back in surprise. "From what I have observed of the dealings of man with man, and nation with nation, I never should have suspected that they knew this all-important secret. And, with this eternal lesson written in your soul, do you ask me to sift new wisdom for you, out of my petty existence of two or three centuries?"
"But, my dear chair--" said Grandfather.
"Not a word more," interrupted the chair; "here I close my lips for the next hundred years. At the end of that period, if I shall have discovered any new precepts of happiness, better than what Heaven has already taught you, they shall assuredly be given to the world."
In the energy of its utterance, the oaken chair seemed to stamp its foot, and trod, (we hope unintentionally) upon Grandfather's toe. The old gentleman started, and found that he had been asleep in the great chair, and that his heavy walking stick had fallen down across his foot.
"Grandfather," cried little
Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, said the same. But the good old gentleman shook his head, and declared that here ended the history, real or fabulous, of GRANDFATHER'S CHAIR.
BENJAMIN WEST, SIR ISAAC NEWTON, SAMUEL JOHNSON OLIVER CROMWELL, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, QUEEN CHRISTINA.
This small volume, and others of a similar character, from the
same hand, have not been composed without a deep sense of
responsibility. The author regards children as sacred, and
would not, for the world, cast any thing into the fountain of
a young heart, that might embitter and pollute its waters.
And, even in point of the reputation to be aimed at, juvenile
literature is as well worth cultivating as any other. The
writer, if he succeed in pleasing his little readers, may hope
to be remembered by them till their own old age--a far longer
period of literary existence than is generally attained, by
those who seek immortality from the judgments of full grown
When Edward Temple was about eight or nine years old, he was afflicted with a disorder of the eyes. It was so severe, and his sight was naturally so delicate, that the surgeon felt some apprehensions lest the boy should become totally blind. He therefore gave strict directions to keep him in a darkened chamber, with a bandage over his eyes. Not a ray of the blessed light of Heaven could be suffered to visit the poor lad.
This was a sad thing for Edward! It was just the same as if
there were to be no more sunshine, nor moonlight, nor glow of the cheerful
fire, nor light of lamps. A night had begun which was to continue perhaps for
months,--a longer and drearier night than that which voyagers are compelled to
endure, when their ship is ice-bound, throughout the winter, in the
And then his studies! They were to be entirely given up. This was another grievous trial; for Edward's memory hardly went back to the period when he had not known how to read. Many and many a holiday had he spent at his book, poring over its pages until the deepening twilight confused the print, and made all the letters run into long words. Then would he press his hands across his eyes, and wonder why they pained him so, and, when the candles were lighted, what was the reason that they burned so dimly, like the moon in a foggy night. Poor little fellow! So far as his eyes were concerned, he was already an old man, and needed a pair of spectacles almost as much as his own grandfather did.
And now, alas! the time was come, when even grandfather's spectacles could not have assisted Edward to read. After a few bitter tears, which only pained his eyes the more, the poor boy submitted to the surgeon's orders. His eyes were bandaged, and, with his mother on one side, and his little friend Emily on the other, he was led into a darkened chamber.
"Mother, I shall be very miserable," said Edward, sobbing.
"Oh, no, my dear child!" replied his mother, cheerfully. "Your eyesight was a precious gift of Heaven, it is true; but you would do wrong to be miserable for its loss, even if there were no hope of regaining it. There are other enjoyments, besides what come to us through our eyes."
"None that are worth having," said Edward.
"Ah! but you will not think so long," rejoined Mrs. Temple, with tenderness. "All of us--your father, and myself, and George, and our sweet Emily--will try to find occupation and amusement for you. We will use all our eyes to make you happy. Will not they be better than a single pair?"
"I will sit by you all day long," said Emily, in her low, sweet voice, putting her hand into that of Edward.
"And so will I, Ned," said George, his elder brother,--"school time and all, if my father will permit me."
Edward's brother George was three or four years older than himself, a fine, hardy lad, of a bold and ardent temper. He was the leader of his comrades in all their enterprises and amusements. As to his proficiency at study, there was not much to be said. He had sense and ability enough to have made himself a scholar, but found so many pleasanter things to do, that he seldom took hold of a book with his whole heart. So fond was George of boisterous sports and exercises, that it was really a great token of affection and sympathy, when he offered to sit all day long in a dark chamber, with his poor brother Edward.
As for little Emily Robinson, she was the daughter of one of Mr. Temple's dearest friends. Ever since her mother went to Heaven, (which was soon after Emily's birth,) the little girl had dwelt in the household where we now find her. Mr. and Mrs. Temple seemed to love her as well as their own children; for they had no daughter except Emily; nor would the boys have known the blessing of a sister, had not this gentle stranger come to teach them what it was. If I could show you Emily's face, with her dark hair smoothed away from her forehead, you would be pleased with her look of simplicity and loving-kindness, but might think that she was somewhat too grave for a child of seven years old. But you would not love her the less for that.
So brother George, and this loving little girl, were to be Edward's companions and playmates, while he should be kept prisoner in the dark chamber. When the first bitterness of his grief was over, he began to feel that there might be some comforts and enjoyments in life, even for a boy whose eyes were covered with a bandage.
"I thank you, dear mother," said he, with only a few sobs, "and you, Emily; and you too, George. You will all be very kind to me, I know. And my father--will not he come and see me, every day?"
"Yes, my dear boy," said Mr. Temple; for, though invisible to Edward, he was standing close beside him. "I will spend some hours of every day with you. And as I have often amused you by relating stories and adventures, while you had the use of your eyes, I can do the same, now that you are unable to read. Will this please you, Edward?"
"Oh, very much!" replied Edward.
"Well then," said his father, "this evening we will begin the series of Biographical Stories, which I promised you some time ago."
When evening came, Mr. Temple found Edward considerably revived in spirits, and disposed to be resigned to his misfortune. Indeed, the figure of the boy, as it was dimly seen by the fire-light, reclining in a well stuffed easy-chair, looked so very comfortable that many people might have envied him. When a man's eyes have grown old with gazing at the ways of the world, it does not seem such a terrible misfortune to have them bandaged.
Little Emily Robinson sat by Edward's side, with the air of an accomplished nurse. As well as the duskiness of the chamber would permit, she watched all his motions, and each varying expression of his face, and tried to anticipate her patient's wishes, before his tongue could utter them. Yet it was noticeable, that the child manifested an indescribable awe and disquietude, whenever she fixed her eyes on the bandage; for to her simple and affectionate heart, it seemed as if her dear friend Edward was separated from her, because she could not see his eyes. A friend's eyes tell us many things, which could never be spoken by the tongue.
George, likewise, looked awkward and confused, as stout and healthy boys are accustomed to do, in the society of the sick or afflicted. Never having felt pain or sorrow, they are abashed, from not knowing how to sympathize with the sufferings of others.
"Well, my dear Edward," inquired Mrs. Temple, "is your chair quite comfortable? and has your little nurse provided for all your wants? If so, your father is ready to begin his stories."
"Oh, I am very well now," answered Edward, with a faint smile. "And my ears have not forsaken me, though my eyes are good for nothing. So, pray, dear father, begin!"
It was Mr. Temple's design to tell the children a series of true stories, the incidents of which should be taken from the childhood and early life of eminent people. Thus he hoped to bring George, and Edward, and Emily, into closer acquaintance with the famous persons who have lived in other times, by showing that they also had been children once. Although Mr. Temple was scrupulous to relate nothing but what was founded on fact, yet he felt himself at liberty to clothe the incidents of his narrative in a new coloring, so that his auditors might understand them the better.
"My first story," said he, "shall be about a painter of pictures."
"Dear me!" cried Edward, with a sigh. "I am afraid I shall never look at pictures any more."
"We will hope for the best," answered his father. "In the mean time, you must try to see things within your own mind."
Mr. Temple then began the following story:
BORN 1738. DIED 1820.
In the year 1738, there came into the world, in the town of
Little Ben lived to the ripe age of six years, without doing any thing that was worthy to be told in history. But, one summer afternoon, in his seventh year, his mother put a fan into his hand, and bade him keep the flies away from the face of a little babe, who lay fast asleep in the cradle. She then left the room.
The boy waved the fan to-and-fro, and drove away the buzzing flies whenever they had the impertinence to come near the baby's face. When they had all flown out of the window, or into distant parts of the room, he bent over the cradle, and delighted himself with gazing at the sleeping infant. It was, indeed, a very pretty sight. The little personage in the cradle slumbered peacefully, with its waxen hands under its chin, looking as full of blissful quiet as if angels were singing lullabies in its ear. Indeed, it must have been dreaming about Heaven; for, while Ben stooped over the cradle, the little baby smiled.
"How beautiful she looks!" said Ben to himself. "What a pity it is, that such a pretty smile should not last forever!"
Now Ben, at this period of his life, had never heard of that wonderful art, by which a look, that appears and vanishes in a moment, may be made to last for hundreds of years. But, though nobody had told him of such an art, he may be said to have invented it for himself. On a table, near at hand, there were pens and paper, and ink of two colors, black and red. The boy seized a pen and sheet of paper, and kneeling down beside the cradle, began to draw a likeness of the infant. While he was busied in this manner, he heard his mother's step approaching, and hastily tried to conceal the paper.
"Benjamin, my son, what hast thou been doing?" inquired his mother, observing marks of confusion in his face.
At first, Ben was unwilling to tell; for he felt as if there might be something wrong in stealing the baby's face, and putting it upon a sheet of paper. However, as his mother insisted, he finally put the sketch into her hand, and then hung his head, expecting to be well scolded. But when the good lady saw what was on the paper, in lines of red and black ink, she uttered a scream of surprise and joy.
"Bless me!" cried she. "It is a picture of little Sally!"
And then she threw her arms round our friend Benjamin, and kissed him so tenderly, that he never afterwards was afraid to show his performances to his mother.
As Ben grew older, he was observed to take vast delight in looking at the hues and forms of nature. For instance, he was greatly pleased with the blue violets of spring, the wild roses of summer, and the scarlet cardinal-flowers of early autumn. In the decline of the year, when the woods were variegated with all the colors of the rainbow, Ben seemed to desire nothing better than to gaze at them from morn till night. The purple and golden clouds of sunset were a joy to him. And he was continually endeavoring to draw the figures of trees, men, mountains, houses, cattle, geese, ducks, and turkeys, with a piece of chalk, on barn-doors, or on the floor.
In these old times, the Mohawk Indians were still numerous
But, all this time, the young artist had no paint-brushes,
nor were there any to be bought, unless he had sent to
"Puss," said little Ben to the cat, "pray give me some of the fur from the tip of thy tail!"
Though he addressed the black cat so civilly, yet Ben was determined to have the fur, whether she were willing or not. Puss, who had no great zeal for the fine arts, would have resisted if she could; but the boy was armed with his mother's scissors, and very dexterously clipped off fur enough to make a paint-brush. This was of so much use to him, that he applied to Madam Puss again and again, until her warm coat of fur had become so thin and ragged, that she could hardly keep comfortable through the winter. Poor thing! she was forced to creep close into the chimney-corner, and eyed Ben with a very rueful physiognomy. But Ben considered it more necessary that he should have paint-brushes, than that Puss should be warm.
About this period, Friend West received a visit from Mr.
Pennington, a merchant of
"Why, Friend West," exclaimed the
Then Friend West explained, that all these pictures were painted by little Ben, with no better materials than red and yellow ochre and a piece of indigo, and with brushes made of the black cat's fur.
"Verily," said Mr. Pennington, "the boy hath
a wonderful faculty. Some of our friends might look upon these matters as
vanity; but little Benjamin appears to have been born a painter; and
The good merchant patted Benjamin on the head, and evidently considered him a wonderful boy. When his parents saw how much their son's performances were admired, they no doubt remembered the prophecy of the old Quaker preacher, respecting Ben's future eminence. Yet they could not understand how he was ever to become a very great and useful man, merely by making pictures.
One evening, shortly after Mr. Pennington's return to
"What can it possibly be?" thought Ben, when it was put into his hands. "Who can have sent me such a great square package as this!"
On taking off the thick brown paper which enveloped it, behold! there was a paint-box, with a great many cakes of paint, and brushes of various sizes. It was the gift of good Mr. Pennington. There were likewise several squares of canvas, such as artists use for painting pictures upon, and, in addition to all these treasures, some beautiful engravings of landscapes. These were the first pictures that Ben had ever seen, except those of his own drawing.
What a joyful evening was this for the little artist! At bedtime, he put the paint-box under his pillow, and got hardly a wink of sleep; for, all night long, his fancy was painting pictures in the darkness. In the morning, he hurried to the garret, and was seen no more till the dinner-hour; nor did he give himself time to eat more than a mouthful or two of food, before he hurried back to the garret again. The next day, and the next, he was just as busy as ever; until at last his mother thought it time to ascertain what he was about. She accordingly followed him to the garret.
On opening the door, the first object that presented itself to her eyes was our friend Benjamin, giving the last touches to a beautiful picture. He had copied portions of two of the engravings, and made one picture out of both, with such admirable skill that it was far more beautiful than the originals. The grass, the trees, the water, the sky, and the houses, were all painted in their proper colors. There, too, was the sunshine and the shadow, looking as natural as life.
"My dear child, thou hast done wonders!" cried his mother.
The good lady was in an ecstasy of delight. And well might
she be proud of her boy; for there were touches in this picture, which old
artists, who had spent a lifetime in the business, need not have been ashamed
of. Many a year afterwards, this wonderful production was exhibited at the
When Benjamin was quite a large lad, he was sent to school
He was lying on his back, looking up towards the ceiling, when suddenly he beheld the dim apparition of a white cow, moving slowly over his head! Ben started, and rubbed his eyes, in the greatest amazement.
"What can this mean?" thought he.
The white cow disappeared; and next came several pigs, who trotted along the ceiling, and vanished into the darkness of the chamber. So lifelike did these grunters look, that Ben almost seemed to hear them squeak.
"Well, this is very strange!" said Ben to himself.
When the people of the house came to see him, Benjamin told them of the marvellous circumstance which had occurred. But they would not believe him.
"Benjamin, thou art surely out of thy senses!" cried they. "How is it possible that a white cow and a litter of pigs should be visible on the ceiling of a dark chamber?"
Ben, however, had great confidence in his own eyesight, and was determined to search the mystery to the bottom. For this purpose, when he was again left alone, he got out of bed, and examined the window-shutters. He soon perceived a small chink in one of them, through which a ray of light found its passage, and rested upon the ceiling. Now the science of optics will inform us, that the pictures of the white cow and the pigs, and of other objects out of doors, came into the dark chamber, through this narrow chink, and were painted over Benjamin's head. It is greatly to his credit, that he discovered the scientific principle of this phenomenon, and, by means of it, constructed a Camera Obscura, or Magic Lantern, out of a hollow box. This was of great advantage to him in drawing landscapes.
Well; time went on, and Benjamin continued to draw and paint pictures, until he had now reached the age when it was proper that he should choose a business for life. His father and mother were in considerable perplexity about him. According to the ideas of the Quakers it is not right for people to spend their lives in occupations that are of no real and sensible advantage to the world. Now, what advantage could the world expect from Benjamin's pictures? This was a difficult question; and, in order to set their minds at rest, his parents determined to consult the preachers and wise men of their society. Accordingly, they all assembled in the meeting-house, and discussed the matter from beginning to end.
Finally, they came to a very wise decision. It seemed so
So our friend Benjamin left the dwelling of his parents, and
his native woods and streams, and the good Quakers of Springfield, and the
Indians who had given him his first colors,--he left all the places and persons
whom he had hitherto known,--and returned to them no more. He went first to
When he was twenty-five years old, he went to
But they approved of the great paintings in which he
represented the miracles and sufferings of the Redeemer of Mankind. King George
employed him to adorn a large and beautiful chapel, at
We shall mention only a single incident more. The picture of
Christ Healing the Sick was exhibited at the
He lived many years, in peace and honor, and died in 1820,
at the age of eighty-two. The story of his life is almost as wonderful as a
fairy tale; for there are few stranger transformations than that of a little
unknown Quaker boy, in the wilds of
"Thank you for the story, my dear father," said Edward, when it was finished. "Do you know, that it seems as if I could see things without the help of my eyes? While you were speaking, I have seen little Ben, and the baby in its cradle, and the Indians, and the white cow and the pigs, and kind Mr. Pennington, and all the good old Quakers, almost as plainly as if they were in this very room."
"It is because your attention was not disturbed by outward objects," replied Mr. Temple. "People, when deprived of sight, often have more vivid ideas than those who possess the perfect use of their eyes. I will venture to say that George has not attended to the story quite so closely."
"No indeed," said George, "but it was a very pretty story for all that. How I should have laughed to see Ben making a paint-brush out of the black cat's tail! I intend to try the experiment with Emily's kitten."
"Oh, no, no, George!" cried Emily, earnestly. "My kitten cannot spare her tail."
Edward being an invalid, it was now time for him to retire to bed. When the family bade him good night, he turned his face towards them, looking very loth to part.
"I shall not know when morning comes," said he sorrowfully. "And besides I want to hear your voices all the time; for, when nobody is speaking, it seems as if I were alone in a dark world!"
"You must have faith, my dear child," replied his mother. "Faith is the soul's eyesight; and when we possess it, the world is never dark nor lonely."
The next day, Edward began to get accustomed to his new condition of life. Once, indeed, when his parents were out of the way, and only Emily was left to take care of him, he could not resist the temptation to thrust aside the bandage, and peep at the anxious face of his little nurse. But, in spite of the dimness of the chamber, the experiment caused him so much pain, that he felt no inclination to take another look. So, with a deep sigh, he resigned himself to his fate.
"Emily, pray talk to me!" said he, somewhat impatiently.
Now, Emily was a remarkably silent little girl, and did not possess that liveliness of disposition which renders some children such excellent companions. She seldom laughed, and had not the faculty of making many words about small matters. But the love and earnestness of her heart taught her how to amuse poor Edward, in his darkness. She put her knitting-work into his hands.
"You must learn how to knit," said she.
"What! without using my eyes?" cried Edward.
"I can knit with my eyes shut," replied Emily.
Then, with her own little hands, she guided Edward's fingers, while he set about this new occupation. So awkward were his first attempts, that any other little girl would have laughed heartily. But Emily preserved her gravity, and showed the utmost patience in taking up the innumerable stitches which he let down. In the course of an hour or two, his progress was quite encouraging.
When evening came, Edward acknowledged that the day had been far less wearisome than he anticipated. But he was glad, nevertheless, when his father and mother, and George and Emily, all took their seats around his chair. He put out his hand to grasp each of their hands, and smiled with a very bright expression upon his lips.
"Now I can see you all, with my mind's eye," said he; "and now, father, pray tell us another story."
So Mr. Temple began.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON
BORN 1642. DIED 1727.
On Christmas-day, in the year 1642, Isaac Newton was born,
at the small
Isaac's father being dead, Mrs. Newton was married again to
a clergyman, and went to reside at
The neighbors looked with vast admiration at the things which Isaac manufactured. And his old grandmother, I suppose, was never weary of talking about him.
"He'll make a capital workman, one of these days," she would probably say. "No fear but what Isaac will do well in the world, and be a rich man before he dies."
It is amusing to conjecture what were the anticipations of
his grandmother and the neighbors, about Isaac's future life. Some of them,
perhaps, fancied that he would make beautiful furniture of mahogany, rose-wood,
or polished oak, inlaid with ivory and ebony, and magnificently gilded. And
then, doubtless, all the rich people would purchase these fine things, to adorn
their drawing-rooms. Others probably thought that little Isaac was destined to
be an architect, and would build splendid mansions for the nobility and gentry,
and churches too, with the tallest steeples that had ever been seen in
Some of his friends, no doubt, advised Isaac's grandmother to apprentice him to a clockmaker; for, besides his mechanical skill, the boy seemed to have a taste for mathematics, which would be very useful to him in that profession. And then, in due time, Isaac would set up for himself, and would manufacture curious clocks, like those that contain sets of dancing figures, which issue from the dial-plate when the hour is struck; or like those, where a ship sails across the face of the clock, and is seen tossing up and down on the waves, as often as the pendulum vibrates.
Indeed, there was some ground for supposing that Isaac would devote himself to the manufacture of clocks; since he had already made one, of a kind which nobody had ever heard of before. It was set a-going, not by wheels and weights, like other clocks, but by the dropping of water. This was an object of great wonderment to all the people roundabout; and it must be confessed that there are few boys, or men either, who could contrive to tell what o'clock it is, by means of a bowl of water.
Besides the water-clock, Isaac made a sun-dial. Thus his grandmother was never at a loss to know the hour; for the water-clock would tell it in the shade, and the dial in the sunshine. The sun-dial is said to be still in existence at Woolsthorpe, on the corner of the house where Isaac dwelt. If so, it must have marked the passage of every sunny hour that has elapsed, since Isaac Newton was a boy. It marked all the famous moments of his life; it marked the hour of his death; and still the sunshine creeps slowly over it, as regularly as when Isaac first set it up.
Yet we must not say that the sun-dial has lasted longer than its maker; for Isaac Newton will exist, long after the dial--yea, and long after the sun itself--shall have crumbled to decay.
Isaac possessed a wonderful faculty of acquiring knowledge by the simplest means. For instance, what method do you suppose he took, to find out the strength of the wind? You will never guess how the boy could compel that unseen, inconstant, and ungovernable wanderer, the wind, to tell him the measure of its strength. Yet nothing can be more simple. He jumped against the wind; and by the length of his jump, he could calculate the force of a gentle breeze, a brisk gale, or a tempest. Thus, even in his boyish sports, he was continually searching out the secrets of philosophy.
Not far from his grandmother's residence there was a windmill, which operated on a new plan. Isaac was in the habit of going thither frequently, and would spend whole hours in examining its various parts. While the mill was at rest, he pryed into its internal machinery. When its broad sails were set in motion by the wind, he watched the process by which the mill-stones were made to revolve, and crush the grain that was put into the hopper. After gaining a thorough knowledge of its construction, he was observed to be unusually busy with his tools.
It was not long before his grandmother, and all the neighborhood, knew what Isaac had been about. He had constructed a model of the windmill. Though not so large, I suppose as one of the box-traps which boys set to catch squirrels, yet every part of the mill and its machinery was complete. Its little sails were neatly made of linen, and whirled round very swiftly when the mill was placed in a draught of air. Even a puff of wind from Isaac's mouth, or from a pair of bellows, was sufficient to set the sails in motion. And--what was most curious--if a handful of grains of wheat were put into the little hopper, they would soon be converted into snow-white flour.
Isaac's playmates were enchanted with his new windmill. They thought that nothing so pretty, and so wonderful, had ever been seen in the whole world.
"But, Isaac," said one of them, "you have forgotten one thing that belongs to a mill."
"What is that?" asked Isaac; for he supposed, that, from the roof of the mill to its foundation, he had forgotten nothing.
"Why, where is the miller?" said his friend.
"That is true!--I must look out for one," said Isaac; and he set himself to consider how the deficiency should be supplied.
He might easily have made the miniature figure of a man; but
then it would not have been able to move about, and perform the duties of a
miller. As Captain Lemuel Gulliver had not yet discovered the
As Isaac grew older, it was found that he had far more important matters in his mind than the manufacture of toys, like the little windmill. All day long, if left to himself, he was either absorbed in thought, or engaged in some book of mathematics, or natural philosophy. At night, I think it probable, he looked up with reverential curiosity to the stars, and wondered whether they were worlds, like our own,--and how great was their distance from the earth,--and what was the power that kept them in their courses. Perhaps, even so early in life, Isaac Newton felt a presentiment that he should be able, hereafter, to answer all these questions.
When Isaac was fourteen years old, his mother's second
husband being now dead, she wished her son to leave school, and assist her in
managing the farm at Woolsthorpe. For a year or two, therefore, he tried to
turn his attention to farming. But his mind was so bent on becoming a scholar, that his mother sent him back to school, and
afterwards to the
I have now finished my anecdotes of Isaac Newton's boyhood. My story would be far too long, were I to mention all the splendid discoveries which he made, after he came to be a man. He was the first that found out the nature of Light; for, before his day, nobody could tell what the sunshine was composed of. You remember, I suppose, the story of an apple's falling on his head, and thus leading him to discover the force of gravitation, which keeps the heavenly bodies in their courses. When he had once got hold of this idea, he never permitted his mind to rest, until he had searched out all the laws, by which the planets are guided through the sky. This he did as thoroughly as if he had gone up among the stars, and tracked them in their orbits. The boy had found out the mechanism of a windmill; the man explained to his fellow-men the mechanism of the universe.
While making these researches he was accustomed to spend night after night in a lofty tower, gazing at the heavenly bodies through a telescope. His mind was lifted far above the things of this world. He may be said, indeed, to have spent the greater part of his life in worlds that lie thousands and millions of miles away; for where the thoughts and the heart are, there is our true existence.
Did you never hear the story of
Just as the destruction was completed,
"Oh, Diamond, Diamond," exclaimed he, "thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done."
This incident affected his health and spirits for some time afterwards; but, from his conduct towards the little dog, you may judge what was the sweetness of his temper.
"I seem to myself like a child," observed he,
"playing on the sea-shore, and picking up here and there a curious shell
or a pretty pebble, while the boundless
At last, in 1727, when he was fourscore and five years old, Sir Isaac Newton died,--or rather he ceased to live on earth. We may be permitted to believe that he is still searching out the infinite wisdom and goodness of the Creator, as earnestly, and with even more success, than while his spirit animated a mortal body. He has left a fame behind him, which will be as endurable as if his name were written in letters of light, formed by the stars upon the midnight sky.
"I love to hear about mechanical contrivances--such as the water-clock and the little windmill," remarked George. "I suppose if Sir Isaac Newton had only thought of it, he might have found out the steam-engine, and railroads, and all the other famous inventions that have come into use since his day."
"Very possibly he might," replied
Mr. Temple; "and, no doubt, a great many people would think it more useful
to manufacture steam-engines, than to search out the system of the universe.
Other great astronomers, besides
"It must have been beautiful," said Edward,
"to spend whole nights in a high tower, as
"Why, even then, my dear child," observed Mrs. Temple, "he would have found out some way of enlightening his mind, and of elevating his soul. But, come! little Emily is waiting to bid you good night. You must go to sleep, and dream of seeing all our faces."
"But how sad it will be, when I awake!" murmured Edward.
In the course of the next day, the harmony of our little family was disturbed by something like a quarrel between George and Edward.
The former, though he loved his brother dearly, had found it quite too great a sacrifice of his own enjoyments, to spend all his playtime in a darkened chamber. Edward, on the other hand, was inclined to be despotic. He felt as if his bandaged eyes entitled him to demand that everybody, who enjoyed the blessing of sight, should contribute to his comfort and amusement. He therefore insisted that George, instead of going out to play at foot-ball, should join with himself and Emily in a game of questions and answers.
George resolutely refused, and ran out of the house. He did not revisit Edward's chamber till the evening, when he stole in, looking confused, yet somewhat sullen, and sat down beside his father's chair. It was evident, by a motion of Edward's head and a slight trembling of his lips, that he was aware of George's entrance, though his footsteps had been almost inaudible. Emily, with her serious and earnest little face, looked from one to the other, as if she longed to be a messenger of peace between them.
Mr. Temple, without seeming to notice any of these circumstances, began a story.
BORN 1709. DIED 1784.
"Sam," said Mr. Michael Johnson of
This was spoken, above a hundred years ago, by an elderly
man, who had once been a thriving bookseller at Lichfield, in
His son, to whom Mr. Johnson spoke, was a great boy of very singular aspect. He had an intelligent face; but it was seamed and distorted by a scrofulous humor, which affected his eyes so badly, that sometimes he was almost blind. Owing to the same cause, his head would often shake with a tremulous motion, as if he were afflicted with the palsy. When Sam was an infant, the famous Queen Anne had tried to cure him of this disease, by laying her royal hands upon his head. But though the touch of a king or Queen was supposed to be a certain remedy for scrofula, it produced no good effect upon Sam Johnson.
At the time which we speak of, the poor lad was not very
well dressed, and wore shoes from which his toes peeped out; for his old father
had barely the means of supporting his wife and children. But, poor as the family
were, young Sam Johnson had as much pride as any nobleman's son in
Being a personage of so much importance, Sam could not bear the idea of standing all day in Uttoxeter market, offering books to the rude and ignorant country-people. Doubtless he felt the more reluctant on account of his shabby clothes, and the disorder of his eyes, and the tremulous motion of his head.
When Mr. Michael Johnson spoke, Sam pouted, and made an indistinct grumbling in his throat; then he looked his old father in the face, and answered him loudly and deliberately.
"Sir," said he, "I will not go to Uttoxeter market!"
Mr. Johnson had seen a great deal of the lad's obstinacy ever since his birth; and while Sam was younger, the old gentleman had probably used the rod, whenever occasion seemed to require. But he was now too feeble, and too much out of spirits, to contend with this stubborn and violent-tempered boy. He therefore gave up the point at once, and prepared to go to Uttoxeter himself.
"Well Sam," said Mr. Johnson, as he took his hat and staff, "If, for the sake of your foolish pride, you can suffer your poor sick father to stand all day in the noise and confusion of the market, when he ought to be in his bed, I have no more to say. But you will think of this, Sam, when I am dead and gone!"
So the poor old man (perhaps with a tear in his eye, but certainly with sorrow in his heart) set forth towards Uttoxeter. The gray-haired, feeble, melancholy Michael Johnson! How sad a thing it was, that he should be forced to go, in his sickness, and toil for the support of an ungrateful son, who was too proud to do any thing for his father, or his mother, or himself! Sam looked after Mr. Johnson, with a sullen countenance, till he was out of sight.
But when the old man's figure, as he went stooping along the
street, was no more to be seen, the boy's heart began to smite him. He had a
vivid imagination, and it tormented him with the image of his father, standing
in the market-place of Uttoxeter and offering his books to the noisy crowd
around him, Sam seemed to behold him, arranging his literary merchandise upon
the stall in such a way as was best calculated to attract notice. Here was
Sam, in imagination, saw his father offer these books, pamphlets, and ballads, now to the rude yeomen, who perhaps could not read a word,--now to the country squires, who cared for nothing but to hunt hares and foxes,--now to the children, who chose to spend their coppers for sugar-plums or gingerbread, rather than for picture-books. And if Mr. Johnson should sell a book to man, woman, or child, it would cost him an hour's talk to get a profit of only sixpence.
"My poor father!" thought Sam to himself. "How his head will ache, and how heavy his heart will be! I am almost sorry that I did not do as he bade me!"
Then the boy went to his mother, who was busy about the house. She did not know of what had passed between Mr. Johnson and Sam.
"Mother," said he, "did you think father seemed very ill to-day?"
"Yes, Sam," answered his mother, turning with a flushed face from the fire, where she was cooking their scanty dinner. "Your father did look very ill; and it is a pity he did not send you to Uttoxeter in his stead. You are a great boy now, and would rejoice, I am sure, to do something for your poor father, who has done so much for you."
The lad made no reply. But again his imagination set to work, and conjured up another picture of poor Michael Johnson. He was standing in the hot sunshine of the market-place, and looking so weary, sick, and disconsolate, that the eyes of all the crowd were drawn to him. "Had this old man no son," the people would say among themselves, "who might have taken his place at the bookstall, while the father kept his bed?" And perhaps--but this was a terrible thought for Sam!--perhaps his father would faint away, and fall down in the market-place, with his gray hair in the dust, and his venerable face as deathlike as that of a corpse. And there would be the bystanders gazing earnestly at Mr. Johnson, and whispering, "Is he dead? Is he dead?"
And Sam shuddered, as he repeated to himself: "Is he dead?"
"Oh, I have been a cruel son!" thought he, within his own heart. "God forgive me! God forgive me!"
But God could not yet forgive him; for he was not truly penitent. Had he been so, he would have hastened away that very moment to Uttoxeter, and have fallen at his father's feet, even in the midst of the crowded market-place. There he would have confessed his fault, and besought Mr. Johnson to go home, and leave the rest of the day's work to him. But such was Sam's pride and natural stubbornness, that he could not bring himself to this humiliation. Yet he ought to have done so, for his own sake, and for his father's sake, and for God's sake.
After sunset, old Michael Johnson came slowly home, and sat down in his customary chair. He said nothing to Sam; nor do I know that a single word ever passed between them, on the subject of the son's disobedience. In a few years, his father died and left Sam to fight his way through the world by himself. It would make our story much too long were I to tell you even a few of the remarkable events of Sam's life. Moreover, there is the less need of this, because many books have been written about that poor boy, and the fame that he acquired, and all that he did or talked of doing, after he came to be a man.
But one thing I must not neglect to say. From his boyhood upward, until the latest day of his life, he never forgot the story of Uttoxeter market. Often when he was a scholar of the University of Oxford, or master of an Academy at Edial, or a writer for the London booksellers,--in all his poverty and toil, and in all his success,--while he was walking the streets without a shilling to buy food, or when the greatest men of England were proud to feast him at their table,--still that heavy and remorseful thought came back to him:--"I was cruel to my poor father in his illness!" Many and many a time, awake or in his dreams, he seemed to see old Michael Johnson, standing in the dust and confusion of the market-place, and pressing his withered hand to his forehead as if it ached.
Alas! my dear children, it is a sad thing to have such a thought as this to bear us company through life.
Though the story was but half finished, yet, as it was longer than usual, Mr. Temple here made a short pause. He perceived that Emily was in tears, and Edward turned his half-veiled face towards the speaker, with an air of great earnestness and interest. As for George he had withdrawn into the dusky shadow behind his father's chair.
In a few moments Mr. Temple resumed the story, as follows:
Well, my children, fifty years had passed away since young
Sam Johnson had shown himself so hard-hearted towards his father. It was now
market-day in the
In the street of the village, you might see cattle-dealers with cows and oxen for sale, and pig-drovers, with herds of squeaking swine, and farmers, with cart-loads of cabbages, turnips, onions, and all other produce of the soil. Now and then a farmer's red-faced wife trotted along on horseback, with butter and cheese in two large panniers. The people of the village, with country squires and other visitors from the neighborhood, walked hither and thither, trading, jesting, quarrelling, and making just such a bustle as their fathers and grandfathers had made half a century before.
In one part of the street, there was a puppet-show, with a
ridiculous Merry-Andrew, who kept both grown people and children in a roar of
laughter. On the opposite side was the old stone
There was a clock in the gray tower of the ancient church; and the hands on the dial-plate had now almost reached the hour of noon. At this busiest hour of the market, a strange old gentleman was seen making his way among the crowd. He was very tall and bulky, and wore a brown coat and small clothes, with black worsted stockings and buckled shoes. On his head was a three-cornered hat, beneath which a bushy gray wig thrust itself out, all in disorder. The old gentleman elbowed the people aside, and forced his way through the midst of them with a singular kind of gait, rolling his body hither and thither, so that he needed twice as much room as any other person there.
"Make way, sir!" he would cry out, in a loud, harsh voice, when somebody happened to interrupt his progress.--"Sir, you intrude your person into the public thoroughfare!"
"What a queer old fellow this is!" muttered the people among themselves, hardly knowing whether to laugh or to be angry.
But, when they looked into the venerable stranger's face, not the most thoughtless among them dared to offer him the least impertinence. Though his features were scarred and distorted with the scrofula, and though his eyes were dim and bleared, yet there was something of authority and wisdom in his look, which impressed them all with awe. So they stood aside to let him pass; and the old gentleman made his way across the market-place, and paused near the corner of the ivy-mantled church. Just as he reached it, the clock struck twelve.
On the very spot of ground, where the stranger now stood, some aged people remembered that old Michael Johnson had formerly kept his bookstall. The little children, who had once bought picture-books of him, were grandfathers now.
"Yes; here is the very spot!" muttered the old gentleman to himself.
There this unknown personage took his stand, and removed the three-cornered hat from his head. It was the busiest hour of the day. What with the hum of human voices, the lowing of cattle, the squeaking of pigs, and the laughter caused by the Merry-Andrew, the market-place was in very great confusion. But the stranger seemed not to notice it, any more than if the silence of a desert were around him. He was wrapt in his own thoughts. Sometimes he raised his furrowed brow to heaven, as if in prayer; sometimes he bent his head, as if an insupportable weight of sorrow were upon him. It increased the awfulness of his aspect that there was a motion of his head, and an almost continual tremor throughout his frame, with singular twitchings and contortions of his features.
The hot sun blazed upon his unprotected head; but he seemed not to feel its fervor. A dark cloud swept across the sky, and rain-drops pattered into the market-place; but the stranger heeded not the shower. The people began to gaze at the mysterious old gentleman, with superstitious fear and wonder. Who could he be? Whence did he come? Wherefore was he standing bare-headed in the market-place? Even the school-boys left the Merry-Andrew, and came to gaze, with wide open eyes, at this tall, strange-looking old man.
There was a cattle-drover in the village, who
had recently made a journey to the
"I say, neighbor Hutchins, would ye like to know who this old gentleman is?"
"Ay, that I would," replied neighbor Hutchins; "for a queerer chap I never saw in my life! Somehow, it makes me feel small to look at him. He's more than a common man."
"You may well say so," answered the cattle-drover.
"Why, that's the famous Doctor Samuel Johnson, who, they say, is the
greatest and learnedest man in
Yes; the poor boy--the friendless Sam--with, whom we began
our story, had become the famous Doctor Samuel Johnson! He was universally
acknowledged as the wisest man and greatest writer in all
But all his fame could not extinguish the bitter remembrance, which had tormented him through life. Never, never, had he forgotten his father's sorrowful and upbraiding look. Never--though the old man's troubles had been over so many years--had he forgiven himself for inflicting such a pang upon his heart. And now, in his old age, he had come hither to do penance, by standing at noon-day in the market-place of Uttoxeter, on the very spot where Michael Johnson had once kept his bookstall. The aged and illustrious man had done what the poor boy refused to do. By thus expressing his deep repentance and humiliation of heart, he hoped to gain peace of conscience, and the forgiveness of God.
My dear children, if you have grieved--I will not say, your parents--but, if you have grieved the heart of any human being, who has a claim upon your love, then think of Samuel Johnson's penance! Will it not be better to redeem the error now, than to endure the agony of remorse for fifty years? Would you not rather say to a brother--"I have erred! Forgive me!"--than perhaps to go hereafter, and shed bitter tears upon his grave?
Hardly was the story concluded, when George hastily arose, and Edward likewise, stretching forth his hands into the darkness that surrounded him, to find his brother. Both accused themselves of unkindness; each besought the other's forgiveness; and having, done so, the trouble of their hearts vanished away like a dream.
"I am glad! I am so glad!" said Emily, in a low, earnest voice. "Now I shall sleep quietly to-night."
"My sweet child," thought Mrs. Temple, as she kissed her, "mayest thou never know how much strife there is on earth! It would cost thee many a night's rest."
About this period, Mr. Temple found it necessary to take a journey, which interrupted the series of Biographical Stories for several evenings. In the interval, Edward practised various methods of employing and amusing his mind.
Sometimes he meditated upon beautiful objects which he had formerly seen, until the intensity of his recollection seemed to restore him the gift of sight, and place every thing anew before his eyes. Sometimes he repeated verses of poetry, which he did not know to be in his memory, until he found them there, just at the time of need. Sometimes he attempted to solve arithmetical questions, which had perplexed him while at school.
Then, with his mother's assistance, he learned the letters
of the string-alphabet, which is used in some of the Institutions for the
His brother George was now very kind, and spent so much time in the darkened chamber, that Edward often insisted upon his going out to play. George told him all about the affairs at school, and related many amusing incidents that happened among his comrades, and informed him what sports were now in fashion, and whose kite soared the highest, and whose little ship sailed fleetest on the Frog Pond. As for Emily, she repeated stories which she had learned from a new book, called THE FLOWER PEOPLE, in which the snow-drops, the violets, the columbines, the roses, and all that lovely tribe, are represented as telling their secrets to a little girl. The flowers talked sweetly, as flowers should; and Edward almost fancied that he could behold their bloom and smell their fragrant breath.
Thus, in one way or another, the dark days of Edward's confinement passed not unhappily. In due time, his father returned; and the next evening, when the family were assembled, he began a story.
"I must first observe, children," said he, "that some writers deny the truth of the incident which I am about to relate to you. There certainly is but little evidence in favor of it. Other respectable writers, however, tell it for a fact; and, at all events, it is an interesting story, and has an excellent moral."
So Mr. Temple proceeded to talk about the early days of
BORN 1599. DIED 1658.
Not long after King James the First took the place of Queen
Elizabeth on the throne of
This Sir Oliver Cromwell had a nephew, who had been called Oliver, after himself, but who was generally known in the family by the name of little Noll. His father was a younger brother of Sir Oliver. The child was often sent to visit his uncle, who probably found him a troublesome little fellow to take care of. He was forever in mischief, and always running into some danger or other from which he seemed to escape only by miracle.
Even while he was an infant in the cradle a strange accident had befallen him. A huge ape which was kept in the family, snatched up little Noll in his forepaws and clambered with him to the roof of the house. There this ugly beast sat grinning at the affrighted spectators, as if he had done the most praiseworthy thing imaginable. Fortunately, however, he brought the child safe down again; and the event was afterwards considered an omen that Noll would reach a very elevated station in the world.
One morning, when Noll was five or six years old, a royal messenger arrived at Hinchinbrooke, with tidings that King James was coming to dine with Sir Oliver Cromwell. This was a high honor to be sure, but a very great trouble; for all the lords and ladies, knights, squires, guards, and yeomen, who waited on the king, were to be feasted as well as himself; and more provisions would be eaten, and more wine drunk, in that one day, than generally in a month. However, Sir Oliver expressed much thankfulness for the king's intended visit, and ordered his butler and cook to make the best preparations in their power. So a great fire was kindled in the kitchen; and the neighbors knew by the smoke which poured out of the chimney, that boiling, baking, stewing, roasting, and frying, were going on merrily.
By and by the sound of trumpets was heard, approaching nearer and nearer; and a heavy, old-fashioned coach, surrounded by guards on horseback, drove up to the house. Sir Oliver, with his hat in his hand, stood at the gate to receive the king. His Majesty was dressed in a suit of green, not very new; he had a feather in his hat, and a triple ruff round his neck; and over his shoulder was slung a hunting horn, instead of a sword. Altogether, he had not the most dignified aspect in the world; but the spectators gazed at him as if there was something superhuman and divine in his person. They even shaded their eyes with their hands, as if they were dazzled by the glory of his countenance.
"How are ye, man?" cried King James, speaking in a
Scotch accent; for
The good knight thanked the king, at the same time kneeling down, while his Majesty alighted. When King James stood on the ground, he directed Sir Oliver's attention to a little boy, who had come with him in the coach. He was six or seven years old, and wore a hat and feather, and was more richly dressed than the king himself. Though by no means an ill-looking child; he seemed shy, or even sulky; and his cheeks were rather pale, as if he had been kept moping within doors, instead of being sent out to play in the sun and wind.
"I have brought my son Charlie to see ye," said the king. "I hope, Sir Oliver, ye have a son of your own, to be his playmate?"
Sir Oliver Cromwell made a reverential bow to the little prince, whom one of the attendants had now taken out of the coach. It was wonderful to see how all the spectators, even the aged men, with their gray beards, humbled themselves before this child. They bent their bodies till their beards almost swept the dust. They looked as if they were ready to kneel down and worship him.
The poor little prince! From his earliest infancy not a soul
had dared to contradict him; everybody around him had acted as if he were a
superior being; so that, of course, he had imbibed the same opinion of himself.
He naturally supposed that the whole
"What a noble little prince he is!" exclaimed Sir Oliver, lifting his hands in admiration. "No, please your Majesty, I have no son to be the playmate of his Royal Highness; but there is a nephew of mine, somewhere about the house. He is near the prince's age, and will be but too happy to wait upon his Royal Highness."
"Send for him, man! send for him!" said the king.
But, as it happened, there was no need of sending for Master Noll. While King James was speaking, a rugged, bold-faced, sturdy little urchin thrust himself through the throng of courtiers and attendants, and greeted the prince with a broad stare. His doublet and hose (which had been put on new and clean in honor of the king's visit) were already soiled and torn with the rough play in which he had spent the morning. He looked no more abashed than if King James were his uncle, and the prince one of his customary playfellows.
This was little Noll himself.
"Here, please your Majesty, is my nephew," said sir Oliver, somewhat ashamed of Noll's appearance and demeanor. "Oliver, make your obeisance to the king's Majesty!"
The boy made a pretty respectful obeisance to the king; for, in those days, children were taught to pay reverence to their elders. King James, who prided himself greatly on his scholarship, asked Noll a few questions in the Latin Grammar, and then introduced him to his son. The little prince in a very grave and dignified manner, extended his hand, not for Noll to shake, but that he might kneel down and kiss it.
"Nephew," said Sir Oliver, "pay your duty to the prince."
"I owe him no duty," cried Noll, thrusting aside the prince's hand, with a rude laugh. "Why should I kiss that boy's hand?"
All the courtiers were amazed and confounded, and Sir Oliver the most of all. But the king laughed heartily, saying that little Noll had a stubborn English spirit, and that it was well for his son to learn betimes what sort of a people he was to rule over.
So King James and his train entered the house; and the prince, with Noll and some other children, was sent to play in a separate room while his Majesty was at dinner. The young people soon became acquainted; for boys, whether the sons of monarchs or of peasants, all like play, and are pleased with one another's society. What games they diverted themselves with, I cannot tell. Perhaps they played at ball--perhaps at blindman's buff--perhaps at leap-frog--perhaps at prison-bars. Such games have been in use for hundreds of years; and princes as well as poor children have spent some of their happiest hours in playing at them.
Meanwhile, King James and his nobles were feasting with Sir Oliver, in the great hall. The king sat in a gilded chair, under a canopy, at the head of a long table. Whenever any of the company addressed him, it was with the deepest reverence. If the attendants offered him wine, or the various delicacies of the festival, it was upon their bended knees. You would have thought, by these tokens of worship, that the monarch was a supernatural being; only he seemed to have quite as much need of those vulgar matters, food and drink, as any other person at the table. But fate had ordained that good King James should not finish his dinner in peace.
All of a sudden, there arose a terrible uproar in the room where the children were at play. Angry shouts and shrill cries of alarm were mixed up together; while the voices of elder persons were likewise heard, trying to restore order among the children. The king, and everybody else at table, looked aghast; for perhaps the tumult made them think that a general rebellion had broken out.
"Mercy on us!" muttered Sir Oliver; "that graceless nephew of mine is in some mischief or other. The naughty little whelp!"
Getting up from table, he ran to see what was the matter, followed by many of the guests, and the king among them. They all crowded to the door of the play-room.
On looking in, they beheld the little Prince Charles, with his rich dress all torn, and covered with the dust of the floor. His royal blood was streaming from his nose in great abundance. He gazed at Noll with a mixture of rage and affright, and at the same time a puzzled expression, as if he could not understand how any mortal boy should dare to give him a beating. As for Noll, there stood his sturdy little figure, bold as a lion, looking as if he were ready to fight not only the prince, but the king and kingdom too.
"You little villain!" cried his uncle. "What have you been about? Down on your knees, this instant, and ask the prince's pardon. How dare you lay your hands on the king's Majesty's royal son?"
"He struck me first," grumbled the valiant little Noll; "and I've only given him his due."
Sir Oliver and the guests lifted up their hands in
astonishment and horror. No punishment seemed severe enough for this wicked
little varlet, who had dared to resent a blow from the king's own son. Some of
the courtiers were of opinion that Noll should be sent prisoner to the
But King James, who sometimes showed a good deal of sagacity, ordered them to desist.
"Thou art a bold boy," said he, looking fixedly at little Noll; "and, if thou live to be a man, my son Charlie would do wisely to be friends with thee."
"I never will!" cried the little prince, stamping his foot.
"Peace, Charlie, peace!" said the king; then addressing Sir Oliver and the attendants, "Harm not the urchin; for he has taught my son a good lesson, if Heaven do but give him grace to profit by it. Hereafter, should he be tempted to tyrannize over the stubborn race of Englishmen, let him remember little Noll Cromwell, and his own bloody nose!"
So the king finished his dinner and departed; and, for many
a long year, the childish quarrel between Prince Charles and Noll Cromwell was
forgotten. The prince, indeed, might have lived a happier life, and have met a
more peaceful death, had he remembered that quarrel, and the moral which his
father drew from it. But, when old King James was dead, and Charles sat upon
his throne, he seemed to forget that he was but a man, and that his meanest
subjects were men as well as he. He wished to have the property and lives of
the people of
Throughout this war between the king and nobles on one side,
and the people of
When the discrowned monarch was brought to trial, that warlike leader sat in the judgment-hall. Many judges were present, besides himself; but he alone had the power to save King Charles, or to doom him to the scaffold. After sentence was pronounced, this victorious general was entreated by his own children, on their knees, to rescue his Majesty from death.
"No!" said he sternly. "Better that one man should perish, than that the whole country should be ruined for his sake. It is resolved that he shall die!"
When Charles, no longer a king, was led to the scaffold, his
great enemy stood at a window of the royal
"It is a righteous deed," perhaps he said to himself. "Now Englishmen may enjoy their rights."
At night, when the body of Charles was laid in the coffin, in a gloomy chamber, the general entered, lighting himself with a torch. Its gleam showed that he was now growing old; his visage was scarred with the many battles in which he had led the van; his brow was wrinkled with care, and with the continual exercise of stern authority. Probably there was not a single trait, either of aspect or manner, that belonged to the little Noll, who had battled so stoutly with Prince Charles. Yet this was he!
He lifted the coffin-lid, and caused the light of his torch
to fall upon the dead monarch's face. Then, probably, his mind went back over
all the marvellous events, that had brought the hereditary king of
"Why was it," said Cromwell to himself--or might have said--as he gazed at the pale features in the coffin,--"Why was it, that this great king fell, and that poor Noll Cromwell has gained all the power of the realm?"
And, indeed, why was it?
King Charles had fallen, because, in his manhood the same as when a child, he disdained to feel that every human creature was his brother. He deemed himself a superior being, and fancied that his subjects were created only for a king to rule over. And Cromwell rose, because, in spite of his many faults, he mainly fought for the rights and freedom of his fellow-men; and therefore the poor and the oppressed all lent their strength to him.
"Dear father, how I should hate to be a king!" exclaimed Edward.
"And would you like to be a Cromwell?" inquired his father.
"I should like it well," replied George, "only I would not have put the poor old king to death. I would have sent him out of the kingdom, or perhaps have allowed him to live in a small house, near the gate of the royal palace. It was too severe, to cut off his head."
"Kings are in such an unfortunate position," said Mr. Temple, "that they must either be almost deified by their subjects, or else be dethroned and beheaded. In either case it is a pitiable lot."
"Oh, I had rather be blind than be a king!" said Edward.
"Well, my dear Edward," observed his mother, with a smile, "I am glad you are convinced that your own lot is not the hardest in the world."
It was a pleasant sight (for those who had eyes) to see how patiently the blinded little boy now submitted to what he had at first deemed an intolerable calamity. The beneficent Creator has not allowed our comfort to depend on the enjoyment of any single sense. Though he has made the world so very beautiful, yet it is possible to be happy without ever beholding the blue sky, or the green and flowery earth, or the kind faces of those whom we love. Thus it appears that all the external beauty of the universe is a free gift from God, over and above what is necessary to our comfort. How grateful, then, should we be to that Divine Benevolence, which showers even superfluous bounties upon us!
One truth, therefore, which Edward's blindness had taught him, was, that his mind and soul could dispense with the assistance of his eyes. Doubtless, however, he would have found this lesson far more difficult to learn, had it not been for the affection of those around him. His parents, and George and Emily, aided him to bear his misfortune; if possible, they would have lent him their own eyes. And this, too, was a good lesson for him. It taught him how dependent on one another God has ordained us to be; insomuch that all the necessities of mankind should incite them to mutual love.
So Edward loved his friends, and perhaps all the world, better than he ever did before. And he felt grateful towards his father for spending the evenings in telling him stories--more grateful, probably, than any of my little readers will feel towards me for so carefully writing those same stories down.
"Come, dear father," said he, the next evening, "now tell us all about some other little boy, who was destined to be a famous man."
"How would you like a story of a
"Oh, pray let us have it!" cried George eagerly. "It will be all the better if he has been to our schools, and has coasted on the Common, and sailed boats in the Frog Pond. I shall feel acquainted with him then."
"Well, then," said Mr. Temple, "I will
introduce you to a
The story was as follows:--
BORN 1706. DIED 1790.
In the year 1716, or about that period, a boy used to be
seen in the streets of
Ben was a bright boy at his book, and even a brighter one when at play with his comrades. He had some remarkable qualities which always seemed to give him the lead, whether at sport or in more serious matters. I might tell you a number of amusing anecdotes about him. You are acquainted, I suppose, with his famous story of the WHISTLE, and how he bought it with a whole pocketful of coppers, and afterwards repented of his bargain. But Ben had grown a great boy since those days, and had gained wisdom by experience; for it was one of his peculiarities, that no incident ever happened to him without teaching him some valuable lesson. Thus he generally profited more by his misfortunes, than many people do by the most favorable events that could befall them.
Ben's face was already pretty well known to the inhabitants
While his father and the visitors were holding deep consultations about public affairs, little Ben would sit on his stool in a corner, listening with the greatest interest, as if he understood every word. Indeed, his features were so full of intelligence, that there could be but little doubt, not only that he understood what was said, but that he could have expressed some very sagacious opinions out of his own mind. But, in those days, boys were expected to be silent in the presence of their elders. However, Ben Franklin was looked upon as a very promising lad, who would talk and act wisely by and by.
"I have often thought of it," his father would reply; "and my brother Benjamin promises to give him a great many volumes of manuscript sermons in case he should be educated for the church. But I have a large family to support, and cannot afford the expense."
In fact, Mr. Franklin found it so difficult to provide bread
for his family, that, when the boy was ten years old, it became necessary to
take him from school. Ben was then employed in cutting candlewicks into equal
lengths, and filling the moulds with tallow; and many families in
Busy as his life now was, Ben still found time to keep company with his former schoolfellows. He and the other boys were very fond of fishing, and spent any of their leisure hours on the margin of the mill-pond, catching flounders, perch, eels, and tom-cod, which came up thither with the tide. The place where they fished is now, probably, covered with stone-pavements and brick buildings, and thronged with people, and with vehicles of all kinds. But, at that period, it was a marshy spot on the outskirts of the town, where gulls flitted and screamed overhead, and salt meadow-grass grew under foot. On the edge of the water there was a deep bed of clay, in which the boys were forced to stand, while they caught their fish. Here they dabbled in mud and mire like a flock of ducks.
"This is very uncomfortable," said Ben Franklin one day to his comrades, while they were standing mid-leg deep in the quagmire.
"So it is," said the other boys. "What a pity we have no better place to stand!"
If it had not been for Ben, nothing more would have been done or said about the matter. But it was not in his nature to be sensible of an inconvenience, without using his best efforts to find a remedy. So, as he and his comrades were returning from the water-side, Ben suddenly threw down his string of fish with a very determined air:
"Boys," cried he, "I have thought of a scheme, which will be greatly for our benefit, and for the public benefit!"
It was queer enough, to be sure, to hear this little chap--this rosy-cheeked, ten-year-old boy--talking about schemes for the public benefit! Nevertheless, his companions were ready to listen, being assured that Ben's scheme, whatever it was, would be well worth their attention. They remembered how sagaciously he had conducted all their enterprises, ever since he had been old enough to wear small-clothes.
They remembered, too, his wonderful contrivance of sailing across the mill-pond by lying flat on his back, in the water, and allowing himself to be drawn along by a paper-kite. If Ben could do that, he might certainly do any thing.
"What is your scheme, Ben?--what is it?" cried they all.
It so happened that they had now come to a spot of ground where a new house was to be built. Scattered round about lay a great many large stones, which were to be used for the cellar and foundation. Ben mounted upon the highest of these stones, so that he might speak with the more authority.
"You know, lads," said he, "what a plague it is, to be forced to stand in the quagmire yonder--over shoes and stockings (if we wear any) in mud and water. See! I am bedaubed to the knees of my small-clothes, and you are all in the same pickle. Unless we can find some remedy for this evil, our fishing-business must be entirely given up. And, surely, this would be a terrible misfortune!"
"That it would!--that it would!" said his comrades, sorrowfully.
"Now I propose," continued Master Benjamin, "that we build a wharf, for the purpose of carrying on our fisheries. You see these stones. The workmen mean to use them for the underpinning of a house; but that would be for only one man's advantage. My plan is to take these same stones, and carry them to the edge of the water and build a wharf with them. This will not only enable us to carry on the fishing business with comfort, and to better advantage, but it will likewise be a great convenience to boats passing up and down the stream. Thus, instead of one man, fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand, besides ourselves, may be benefited by these stones. What say you, lads?--shall we build the wharf?"
Ben's proposal was received with one of those uproarious shouts, wherewith boys usually express their delight at whatever completely suits their views. Nobody thought of questioning the right and justice of building a wharf, with stones that belonged to another person.
"Hurrah, hurrah!" shouted they. "Let's set about it!"
It was agreed that they should all be on the spot, that evening, and commence their grand public enterprise by moonlight. Accordingly, at the appointed time, the whole gang of youthful laborers assembled, and eagerly began to remove the stones. They had not calculated how much toil would be requisite, in this important part of their undertaking. The very first stone which they laid hold of, proved so heavy, that it almost seemed to be fastened to the ground. Nothing but Ben Franklin's cheerful and resolute spirit could have induced them to persevere.
Ben, as might be expected, was the soul of the enterprise. By his mechanical genius, he contrived methods to lighten the labor of transporting the stones; so that one boy, under his directions, would perform as much as half a dozen, if left to themselves. Whenever their spirits flagged, he had some joke ready, which seemed to renew their strength by setting them all into a roar of laughter. And when, after an hour or two of hard work, the stones were transported to the water-side, Ben Franklin was the engineer, to superintend the construction of the wharf.
The boys, like a colony of ants, performed a great deal of labor by their multitude, though the individual strength of each could have accomplished but little. Finally, just as the moon sank below the horizon, the great work was finished.
"Now, boys," cried Ben, "let's give three cheers, and go home to bed. To-morrow, we may catch fish at our ease!" "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted his comrades.
Then they all went home, in such an ecstasy of delight that they could hardly get a wink of sleep.
The story was not yet finished; but George's impatience caused him to interrupt it.
"How I wish that I could have helped to build that wharf!" exclaimed he. "It must have been glorious fun. Ben Franklin for ever, say I!"
"It was a very pretty piece of work," said Mr. Temple. "But wait till you hear the end of the story."
"Father," inquired Edward, "whereabouts in
"I do not exactly know," answered Mr. Temple;
"but I suppose it to have been on the northern verge of the town, in the
vicinity of what are now called
As the children had no more questions to ask, Mr. Temple proceeded to relate what consequences ensued from the building of Ben Franklin's wharf.
In the morning, when the early sunbeams were gleaming on the steeples and roofs of the town, and gilding the water that surrounded it, the masons came, rubbing their eyes, to begin their work at the foundation of the new house. But, on reaching the spot, they rubbed their eyes so much the harder. What had become of their heap of stones!
"Why, Sam," said one to another, in great perplexity, "here's been some witchcraft at work, while we were asleep. The stones must have flown away through the air!"
"More likely they have been stolen!" answered Sam.
"But who on earth would think of stealing a heap of stones?" cried a third. "Could a man carry them away in his pocket?"
The master-mason, who was a gruff kind of man, stood scratching his head, and said nothing, at first. But, looking carefully on the ground, he discerned innumerable tracks of little feet, some with shoes, and some barefoot. Following these tracks with his eye, he saw that they formed a beaten path towards the water-side.
"Ah, I see what the mischief is," said he, nodding his head. "Those little rascals, the boys! they have stolen our stones to build a wharf with!"
The masons immediately went to examine the new structure. And to say the truth, it was well worth looking at, so neatly, and with such admirable skill, had it been planned and finished. The stones were put together so securely, that there was no danger of their being loosened by the tide, however swiftly it might sweep along. There was a broad and safe platform to stand upon, whence the little fishermen might cast their lines into deep water, and draw up fish in abundance. Indeed, it almost seemed as if Ben and his comrades might be forgiven for taking the stones, because they had done their job in such a workmanlike manner.
"The chaps, that built this wharf, understood their business pretty well," said one of the masons. "I should not be ashamed of such a piece of work myself."
But the master-mason did not seem to enjoy the joke. He was one of those unreasonable people, who care a great deal more for their own rights and privileges, than for the convenience of all the rest of the world.
"Sam," said he, more gruffly than usual, "go call a constable."
So Sam called a constable, and inquiries were set on foot to discover the perpetrators of the theft. In the course of the day, warrants were issued, with the signature of a Justice of the Peace, to take the bodies of Benjamin Franklin and other evil-disposed persons, who had stolen a heap of stones. If the owner of the stolen property had not been more merciful than the master-mason, it might have gone hard with our friend Benjamin and his fellow-laborers. But, luckily for them, the gentleman had a respect for Ben's father, and moreover, was amused with the spirit of the whole affair. He therefore let the culprits off pretty easily.
But, when the constables were dismissed, the poor boys had to go through another trial, and receive sentence, and suffer execution too, from their own fathers. Many a rod I grieve to say, was worn to the stump, on that unlucky night.
As for Ben, he was less afraid of a whipping than of his father's disapprobation. Mr. Franklin, as I have mentioned before, was a sagacious man, and also an inflexibly upright one. He had read much, for a person in his rank of life, and had pondered upon the ways of the world, until he had gained more wisdom than a whole library of books could have taught him. Ben had a greater reverence for his father, than for any other person in the world, as well on account of his spotless integrity, as of his practical sense and deep views of things.
Consequently, after being released from the clutches of the law, Ben came into his father's presence, with no small perturbation of mind.
"Benjamin, come hither," began Mr. Franklin, in his customary solemn and weighty tone.
The boy approached, and stood before his father's chair, waiting reverently to hear what judgment this good man would pass upon his late offence. He felt that now the right and wrong of the whole matter would be made to appear.
"Benjamin," said his father, "what could induce you to take property which did not belong to you?"
"Why, father," replied Ben, hanging his head, at first, but then lifting his eyes to Mr. Franklin's face, "if it had been merely for my own benefit, I never should have dreamed of it. But I knew that the wharf would be a public convenience. If the owner of the stones should build a house with them, nobody will enjoy any advantage except himself. Now, I made use of them in a way that was for the advantage of many persons. I thought it right to aim at doing good to the greatest number."
"My son," said Mr. Franklin, solemnly, "so far as it was in your power, you have done a greater harm to the public, than to the owner of the stones."
"How can that be, father?" asked Ben.
"Because," answered his father, "in building your wharf with stolen materials, you have committed a moral wrong. There is no more terrible mistake, than to violate what is eternally right, for the sake of a seeming expediency. Those who act upon such a principle, do the utmost in their power to destroy all that is good in the world."
"Heaven forbid!" said Benjamin.
"No act," continued Mr. Franklin, "can possibly be for the benefit of the public generally, which involves injustice to any individual. It would be easy to prove this by examples. But, indeed, can we suppose that our all-wise and just Creator would have so ordered the affairs of the world, that a wrong act should be the true method of attaining a right end? It is impious to think so! And I do verily believe, Benjamin, that almost all the public and private misery of mankind arises from a neglect of this great truth--that evil can produce only evil--that good ends must be wrought out by good means."
"I will never forget it again," said Benjamin, bowing his head.
"Remember," concluded his father, "that, whenever we vary from the highest rule of right, just so far we do an injury to the world. It may seem otherwise for the moment; but, both in Time and in Eternity, it will be found so."
To the close of his life, Ben Franklin never forgot this conversation with his father; and we have reason to suppose, that in most of his public and private career, he endeavored to act upon the principles which that good and wise man had then taught him.
After the great event of building the wharf, Ben continued
to cut wick-yarn and fill candle-moulds for about two years. But, as he had no
love for that occupation, his father often took him to see various artisans at
their work, in order to discover what trade he would prefer. Thus Ben learned
the use of a great many tools, the knowledge of which afterwards proved very
useful to him. But he seemed much inclined to go to sea. In order to keep him
at home, and likewise to gratify his taste for letters, the lad was bound
apprentice to his elder brother, who had lately set up a printing-office in
Here he had many opportunities of reading new books, and of hearing instructive conversation. He exercised himself so successfully in writing composition, that, when no more than thirteen or fourteen years old, he became a contributor to his brother's newspaper. Ben was also a versifier, if not a poet. He made two doleful ballads; one about the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake, and the other about the pirate Black Beard, who not long before, infested the American seas.
When Ben's verses were printed, his brother sent him to sell them to the town's-people, wet from the press. "Buy my ballads!" shouted Benjamin, as he trudged through the streets, with a basketful on his arm. "Who'll buy a ballad about Black Beard? A penny a piece! a penny a piece! who'll buy my ballads?"
If one of those roughly composed and rudely printed ballads could be discovered now, it would be worth more than its weight in gold.
In this way our friend Benjamin spent his boyhood and youth,
until, on account of some disagreement with his brother, he left his native
town and went to
So here we finish our story of the childhood of Benjamin Franklin. One of these days, if you would know what he was in his manhood, you must read his own works, and the history of American Independence.
"Do let us hear a little more of him!" said Edward; "not that I admire him so much as many other characters; but he interests me, because he was a Yankee boy."
"My dear son," replied Mr. Temple, "it would require a whole volume of talk, to tell you all that is worth knowing about Benjamin Franklin. There is a very pretty anecdote of his flying a kite in the midst of a thunder-storm, and thus drawing down the lightning from the clouds, and proving that it was the same thing as electricity. His whole life would be an interesting story, if we had time to tell it."
"But, pray, dear father, tell us what made him so
famous," said George. "I have seen his portrait a great many times.
There is a wooden bust of him in one of our streets, and marble ones, I
suppose, in some other places. And towns, and ships of war, and steamboats, and
banks, and academies, and children, are often named after
"Your question is a reasonable one, George,"
answered his father. "I doubt whether
"I have read some of those proverbs," remarked Edward; "but I do not like them. They are all about getting money, or saving it."
"Well," said his father, "they were suited to the condition of the country; and their effect, upon the whole, has doubtless been good,--although they teach men but a very small portion of their duties."
Hitherto, Mr. Temple's narratives had all been about boys and men. But, the next evening, he bethought himself that the quiet little Emily would perhaps be glad to hear the story of a child of her own sex. He therefore resolved to narrate the youthful adventures of Christina of Sweden, who began to be a Queen at the age of no more than six years. If we have any little girls among our readers, they must not suppose that Christina is set before them as a pattern of what they ought to be. On the contrary, the tale of her life is chiefly profitable as showing the evil effects of a wrong education, which caused this daughter of a king to be both useless and unhappy.
Here follows the story.
BORN 1626. DIED 1689.
In the royal palace at
The little Christina was by no means a beautiful child. To confess the truth, she was remarkably plain. The queen, her mother, did not love her so much as she ought; partly, perhaps, on account of Christina's want of beauty, and also, because both the king and queen had wished for a son, who might have gained as great renown in battle as his father had.
The king, however, soon became exceedingly fond of the
infant princess. When Christina was very young, she was taken violently sick.
Gustavus Adolphus, who was several hundred miles from
Christina soon proved herself a bold and sturdy little girl.
When she was two years old, the king and herself, in
the course of a journey, came to the strong fortress of
But the captain of the fortress met Gustavus and his daughter, as they were about to enter the gateway.
"May it please your Majesty," said he, taking off his steel cap and bowing profoundly, "I fear that if we receive you with a salute of cannon, the little princess will be frightened almost to death."
Gustavus looked earnestly at his daughter, and was indeed apprehensive that the thunder of so many cannon might perhaps throw her into convulsions. He had almost a mind to tell the captain to let them enter the fortress quietly, as common people might have done, without all this head-splitting racket. But no; this would not do.
"Let them fire," said he, waving his hand. "Christina is a soldier's daughter, and must learn to bear the noise of cannon."
So the captain uttered the word of command, and immediately there was a terrible peal of thunder from the cannon, and such a gush of smoke that it enveloped the whole fortress in its volumes. But, amid all the din and confusion, Christina was seen clapping her little hands, and laughing in an ecstasy of delight. Probably nothing ever pleased her father so much as to see that his daughter promised to be fearless as himself. He determined to educate her exactly as if she had been a boy, and to teach her all the knowledge needful to the ruler of a kingdom and the commander of an army.
But Gustavus should have remembered that
However, the king derived great happiness from his beloved
Christina. It must have been a pleasant sight to see the powerful monarch of
Yes; Gustavus forgot all the perils and cares and pompous
irksomeness of a royal life, and was as happy, while playing with his child, as
the humblest peasant in the realm of
But alas! the king was not long
permitted to enjoy Christina's society. When she was four years old, Gustavus
was summoned to take command of the allied armies of
At the moment of his departure Christina ran towards him, and began to address him with a speech which somebody had taught her for the occasion. Gustavus was busied with thoughts about the affairs of the kingdom, so that he did not immediately attend to the childish voice of his little girl. Christina, who did not love to be unnoticed, immediately stopped short, and pulled him by the coat.
"Father," said she, "why do not you listen to my speech?"
In a moment, the king forgot every thing, except that he was parting with what he loved best in all the world. He caught the child in his arms, pressed her to his bosom, and burst into tears. Yes; though he was a brave man, and though he wore a steel corselet on his breast, and though armies were waiting for him to lead them to battle,--still, his heart melted within him, and he wept. Christina, too, was so afflicted that her attendants began to fear that she would actually die of grief. But probably she was soon comforted; for children seldom remember their parents quite so faithfully as their parents remember them.
For two years more, Christina remained in the palace at
When two years had passed away, tidings were brought to
Soon after this sad event, a General Assembly, or Congress,
consisting of deputations from the nobles, the clergy, the burghers, and the
"We desire to know," said he, "whether the
When the Chancellor had spoken, an old man with white hair, and in coarse apparel, stood up in the midst of the assembly. He was a peasant, Lars Larrson by name, and had spent most of his life in laboring on a farm.
"Who is this daughter of Gustavus?" asked the old man. "We do not know her. Let her be shown to us."
Then Christina was brought into the hall, and placed before the old peasant. It was strange, no doubt, to see a child--a little girl of six years old--offered to the Swedes as their ruler, instead of the brave king, her father, who had led them to victory so many times. Could her baby fingers wield a sword in war? Could her childish mind govern the nation wisely in peace?
But the Swedes do not appear to have asked themselves these questions. Old Lars Larrson took Christina up in his arms, and gazed earnestly into her face. He had known the great Gustavus well; and his heart was touched, when he saw the likeness which the little girl bore to that heroic monarch.
"Yes," cried he, with the tears gushing down his furrowed cheeks, "this is truly the daughter of our Gustavus! Here is her father's brow!--here is his piercing eye! She is his very picture. This child shall be our queen!"
[Image: Image #4]
Then all the proud nobles of
"Long live Christina, queen of
Even after she was a woman grown, Christina remembered the pleasure which she felt in seeing all these men at her feet, and hearing them acknowledge her as their supreme ruler. Poor child! she was yet to learn that power does not insure happiness. As yet, however, she had not any real power. All the public business, it is true, was transacted in her name; but the kingdom was governed by a number of the most experienced statesmen, who were called a Regency.
But it was considered necessary that the little queen should be present at the public ceremonies, and should behave just as if she were in reality the ruler of the nation. When she was seven years of age, some ambassadors from the Czar of Muscovy came to the Swedish court. They wore long beards, and were clad in a strange fashion, with furs, and other outlandish ornaments; and as they were inhabitants of a half-civilized country, they did not behave like other people. The Chancellor Oxenstiern was afraid that the young queen would burst out a-laughing, at the first sight of these queer ambassadors; or else that she would be frightened by their unusual aspect.
"Why should I be frightened?" said the little queen;--"and do you suppose that I have no better manners than to laugh? Only tell me how I must behave; and I will do it."
Accordingly, the Muscovite ambassadors were introduced; and Christina received them, and answered their speeches, with as much dignity and propriety as if she had been a grown woman.
All this time, though Christina was now a queen, you must
not suppose that she was left to act as she pleased. She had a preceptor, named
John Mathias, who was a very learned man, and capable of instructing her in all
the branches of science. But there was nobody to teach her the delicate graces
and gentle virtues of a woman. She was surrounded almost entirely by men; and
had learned to despise the society of her own sex. At the age of nine years,
she was separated from her mother, whom the Swedes did not consider a proper
person to be entrusted with the charge of her. No little girl, who sits by a
New England fireside, has cause to envy Christina, in the royal palace at
Yet she made great progress in her studies. She learned to
read the classical authors of
She was so restless in her disposition, that none of her
attendants were sure of a moment's quiet, neither day nor night. She grew up, I
am sorry to say, a very unamiable person, ill-tempered, proud, stubborn, and,
in short, unfit to make those around her happy, or to be happy herself. Let every
little girl, who has been taught self-control, and a due regard for the rights
of others, thank heaven that she has had better instruction than this poor
little queen of
At the age of eighteen, Christina was declared free to govern the kingdom by herself, without the aid of a regency. At this period of her life, she was a young woman of striking aspect, a good figure and intelligent face, but very strangely dressed. She wore a short habit of gray cloth, with a man's vest over it, and a black scarf around her neck, but no jewels, nor ornaments of any kind.
Yet, though Christina was so negligent of her appearance,
there was something in her air and manner that proclaimed her as the ruler of a
kingdom. Her eyes, it is said, had a very fierce and haughty look. Old General
Wrangel, who had often caused the enemies of
And now I have told you almost all that is amusing or instructive, in the childhood of Christina. Only a few more words need be said about her; for it is neither pleasant nor profitable to think of many things that she did, after she grew to be a woman.
When she had worn the crown a few years, she began to
consider it beneath her dignity to be called a queen, because the name implied
that she belonged to the weaker sex. She therefore caused herself to be
proclaimed KING, thus declaring to the world that she despised her own sex, and
was desirous of being ranked among men. But in the twenty-eighth year of her
age, Christina grew tired of royalty, and resolved to be neither a king nor a
queen any longer. She took the crown from her head, with her own hands, and
ceased to be the ruler of
Having thus given up her hereditary crown, Christina left
She died in 1689. None loved her while she lived, nor
regretted her death, nor planted a single flower upon her grave. Happy are the
little girls of
Emily, timid, quiet, and sensitive, was the very reverse of little Christina. She seemed shocked at the idea of such a bold and masculine character as has been described in the foregoing story.
"I never could have loved her," whispered she to Mrs. Temple; and then she added, with that love of personal neatness, which generally accompanies purity of heart:--"It troubles me to think of her unclean hands!"
"Christina was a sad specimen of womankind, indeed," said Mrs. Temple. "But it is very possible for a woman to have a strong mind, and to be fitted for the active business of life, without losing any of her natural delicacy. Perhaps, some time or other, Mr. Temple will tell you a story of such a woman."
It was now time for Edward to be left to repose. His brother George shook him heartily by the hand, and hoped, as he had hoped twenty times before, that to-morrow or the next day, Ned's eyes would be strong enough to look the sun right in the face.
"Thank you, George," replied Edward, smiling; "but I am not half so impatient as at first. If my bodily eyesight were as good as yours, perhaps I could not see things so distinctly with my mind's eye. But now there is a light within which shows me the little Quaker artist, Ben West, and Isaac Newton with his windmill, and stubborn Sam Johnson, and stout Noll Cromwell, and shrewd Ben Franklin, and little Queen Christina with the Swedes kneeling at her feet. It seems as if I really saw these personages face to face. So I can bear the darkness outside of me pretty well."
When Edward ceased speaking, Emily put up her mouth and kissed him as her farewell for the night.
"Ah, I forgot!" said Edward, with a sigh. "I cannot see any of your faces. What would it signify to see all the famous people in the world, if I must be blind to the faces that I love?"
"You must try to see us with your heart, my dear child," said his mother.
Edward went to bed, somewhat dispirited, but quickly falling asleep, was visited with such a pleasant dream of the sunshine and of his dearest friends that he felt the happier for it all the next day. And we hope to find him still happy when we meet again.